‘Smart’ money moves that aren’t so smart

The odds of winning a lottery are infinitesimal. Yet inevitably, someone does. Inspired by the idea of a huge payoff, millions of people burn money on lottery tickets.

The financial strategies below aren’t as much of a long shot as the lottery. More than a handful of people may actually benefit. But many who are tempted to use them don’t understand how high the odds are stacked against success. In my latest for the Associated Press, what seem like smart money moves on the surface may hide perils underneath.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Budgeting for college students. Also in the news: What to do when the GI Bill won’t cover college, 6 ways to travel cheaply, and why frugal retirees are ditching the 4% rule and hoarding their savings instead.

Budgeting for College Students: Where to Start
You don’t have to live on ramen.

What to Do When the GI Bill Won’t Cover College
Finding alternatives.

6 Smart Ways to Travel Cheaply
You don’t have to go overboard.

Frugal retirees ditch 4% rule, hoard savings instead
Why they’re making this choice.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do when you’ve reached your savings goal. Also in the news: What to do when you’re upside down on a car loan, Social Security surprises that may leave money on the table, and what to do if you need $100 fast.

Reached Your Savings Goals? Here’s What to Do Next
Don’t stop now.

What to Do When You’re Upside-Down on a Car Loan
How to get right side up.

3 Social Security surprises that may leave money on the table
Make sure you get what you’re owed.

What to Do When You Need $100, Fast
Almost half of Americans would struggle to cover a $100 emergency.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Making a habit of checking your financial health. Also in the news: Online business ideas for couch potatoes, how one couple paid off $20K of debt in 18 months, and how Trump’s tax plan may affect your 401(k).

Start a New Habit: Check Your Financial Health
Almost as important as your physical health.

3 Online Business Ideas for Couch Potatoes
Make money from your recliner.

How I Ditched Debt: Active Budgeting Pays Off
How one couple paid off $20,000 in 18 months.

How Trump’s tax plan may affect your 401(k)
Digging into the details.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Trump’s Tax Plan: Big Changes, Big Unknowns. Also in the news: Savings lessons from retirees for millennials, how to teach your kids about money when you’re a financial disaster, and why 40% of Americans spend up to half of their income servicing debt.

Trump’s Tax Plan: Big Changes, Big Unknowns
What we know so far.

Millennials, Take This Savings Lesson From Retirees
Retiree wisdom.

How to Teach Your Kids About Money When You Are a Financial Disaster Yourself
Learning from your mistakes.

40% of Americans spend up to half of their income servicing debt
Discretionary spending is a big part of the problem.

Allowances Don’t Teach Kids About Money – You Do

Many parents tell me they feel guilty about allowances.

They aren’t consistent about when and how they give their kids money. They wonder if allowances should be tied to chores. Even how they dole out money can be a problem. Cash is easiest, but much of what kids want to buy — downloads of a favorite show, a toy on Amazon, a realm in Minecraft — requires plastic.

I’ve used our daughter as a guinea pig to test all kinds of allowance systems and apps , starting when she was just 3.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to start teaching your kids about money at an early age.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to save like a superhero. Also in the news: The best way to pay for your next flight, the big mistake one-third of credit card holders are making, and warnings about Amazon third-party accounts.

Save Like a Superhero: Roth IRAs and 529 Plans
Superpowered savings.

Cash or Points? The Best Way to Pay for Your Next Flight
NerdWallet’s 2017 Travel Card Study

The big mistake one-third of credit card holders are making
Stop wasting your rewards.

Beware Hacked Amazon Third-Party Accounts
Watch where you shop.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How credit use affects credit scores. Also in the news: Starting a business if you have student debt, how one couple crushed their debt, and how budgeting doesn’t have to suck if you make it a habit.

Virtual People, Real Lessons: How Card Use Affects Credit Score
Meet Cora Condo and Rebuilding Robert.

Ask Brianna: Can I Start a Business if I Have Student Debt?
Can you be your own boss?

This Couple Crushed Their Debt
How you can do it, too.

Budgeting Doesn’t Have to Suck If You Think of It As a Habit Rather Than a Task
Getting into a groove.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The No-Drama approach to personal finance. Also in the news: Hiking your savings rate, how to find the right credit card the right way, and why you should beware of mortgage companies offering to double your down payment.

The No-Drama Approach to Personal Finance
There’s no crying in personal finance.

If the Fed Can, So Can You: Hike Your Savings Rate
Finding a high-yield account.

Sean Talks Money: Find the Right Credit Card the Right Way
Be selective.

This company will double your down payment. What’s the catch?
It’s a big one.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for March. Also in the news: Sane ways to pay down student debt, how to avoid a credit check scam while looking to rent, and how to save when you don’t have any extra cash.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for March 2017
Finding the best cards.

4 Sane Ways to Pay Down Student Debt
Paying your loans without losing your mind.

Looking to Rent? Avoid a Credit Check Scam
Watch out.

7 Ways to Save When You Don’t Have Any Extra Cash
Every penny counts.