Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 pieces of popular tax advice that are actually baloney. Also in the news: VW aims to plug into nostalgia with the electric bus, Social Security is underpaying thousands of widows and widowers, and 33% of Americans don’t have more savings than credit card debt.

5 Pieces of Popular Tax Advice That Are Actually Baloney
Popularity doesn’t make them true.

VW Aims to Plug Into Nostalgia With Electric Bus
We’re going back to the 60’s.

Social Security underpays thousands of widows and widowers
Claiming a larger benefit.

33% of Americans do not have more savings than credit card debt
A third of the country is in trouble.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Before doing your taxes, gather these documents. Also in the news: 3 things to do when buying a house as an unmarried couple, how credit cards can help you save on buses and trains, and 4 money lessons every teenager needs to know.

Before Doing Your Taxes, Gather These Documents
Putting your paperwork together.

Buying a Home as an Unmarried Couple? Do These 3 Things
Buyer beware.

Credit Cards Can Help You Save on Buses and Trains, Too
Discounts everywhere.

4 money lessons every teenager needs to know
The sooner the better.

Should we pay people to save?

Long ago, people were rewarded for saving. Banks contributed something known as “interest” to the amounts deposited in savings accounts.

OK, technically they still do, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing the tiny amounts added in a low-rate environment. The current average interest rate on savings accounts is 0.06 percent.

Anemic rates may not be a major reason why Americans don’t save enough, but there’s some evidence that better rewards could induce more people to save. Two approaches that seem to work: matching funds and prize-linked accounts.

In my latest for the Associated Press, could rewarding people for saving get them to save more?

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 questions to ask before you hire a tax professional. Also in the news: The security of your hotel’s mobile room key, side hustles you can start with no money, and how to pay off student debt while still saving and investing.

7 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Tax Professional
Asking the important questions.

How Secure Is Your Hotel’s Mobile Room Key?
Risking safety for convenience?

Side Hustles You Can Start With No Money
No investment necessary.

How to Pay Off Student Loan Debt While Still Saving and Investing
Paying for the past, planning for the future.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Whittle down your debt while having bad credit. Also in the news: 6 secrets from flight crews to stave off jet lag, what to buy every month of the year in 2018, and 3 ways you can better save for retirement.

Bad Credit? You Still Have Tools to Whittle Down Debt
You must be proactive.

6 Secrets From Flight Crews to Stave Off Travel Exhaustion
Keeping jet lag away.

What to Buy Every Month of the Year in 2018
Plan your shopping accordingly.

3 ways you can save better for retirement
Every penny counts.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Will your taxes go up or down under the new tax rules? Also in the news: Freezing your child’s credit, 3 safe, easy ways to gift money for the holidays, and how much you should have saved at every age.

Will Your Taxes Go Up or Down Under the New Tax Rules?
Where do you stand?

Should You Freeze Your Child’s Credit?
Protecting your child’s identity.

3 Safe, Easy Ways to Gift Money This Holiday Season
Easy holiday giving.

How Much Should You Have Saved at Every Age?
How are you doing so far?

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 ways the tax plan could change homeownership. Also in the news: What the Fed rate hike means for student loans, what it means for your CDs, and how Donald Trump is shrinking your paycheck.

6 Ways Tax Plan Could Change Homeownership
Analyzing the impact.

Fed Rate Hike: What It Means for Student Loans
Checking your rates.

December 2017 Fed Rate Hike: What It Means for Your CDs
Impacting your savings.

Here’s How Donald Trump Is Shrinking Your Paycheck
Looking at the nuances of the tax plan.

Q&A: How to avoid outliving your retirement savings

Dear Liz: The wife and I are both 65. We both work, with a combined income of $125,000, of which we spend almost all. We have $550,000 in IRAs and $1 million in other investments, plus home equity of about $500,000. We’ll get $3,800 from Social Security if we start next year but plan to work until age 67. Should we wait until then to claim?

Answer: Both of you needn’t wait, but one of you should — the one who has the larger benefit.

As a married couple, you can get two checks — either two retirement benefits, or a retirement benefit and a spousal benefit that can equal up to half the primary retirement benefit. When one of you dies, the survivor will receive only one benefit, which will be the larger of the two checks you received as a couple.

It makes sense to maximize that benefit by waiting as long as possible to claim so that it can grow. After your full retirement age, which is currently 66, unclaimed retirement benefits grow by 8% each year you wait, until maxing out at age 70.

You have substantial investments that should sustain a comfortable retirement, but plenty of things could go wrong.

The fact you’re spending all your current income is worrisome. If you don’t ratchet back your consumption a bit at retirement, you may draw down your investments at a rate that isn’t sustainable. (Depending on your investment mix, an initial withdrawal rate of 3% or 4% usually is considered “safe,” or the most you should take to minimize the odds of running out of money.)

Even if you do rein in your regular spending, bad markets or unexpected expenses could cause you to exhaust your savings faster than you expect. The longer you live, the greater the odds you’ll run short of money. Maximizing one of your Social Security benefits can be a smart way to ensure you, or your survivor, have more income when you may need it most.

Before you retire, you should consult a fee-only financial planner about the best ways to tap your retirement accounts and claim Social Security.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 reasons to be petrified of Bitcoin. Also in the news: A ‘Born Spender’ goes on a spending fast, how to stop your grown kids from ruining your retirement, and how to hide gifts from your partner when you share bank accounts.

3 Reasons to Be Petrified of Bitcoin
The cryptocurrency reaches an all-time high.

How I Ditched Debt: ‘Born Spender’ Goes on a Spending Fast
Changing their ways.

How To Stop Your Grown Kids From Ruining Your Retirement
Protecting your future.

How to Hide Gifts From Your Partner When You Share Bank Accounts
Tips for holiday giving.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: New payday loan rule protects borrowers from sinking into debt. Also in the news: Sailing into Columbus Day sales, how to make money on Amazon, and why you’re losing money if cash is your only savings strategy.

New Payday Loan Rule Protects Borrowers From Sinking Into Debt
Protecting the consumer.

Should You Sail Into Columbus Day Sales?
What to purchase this weekend.

How to Make Money on Amazon
So that you can turn around and then spend it on Amazon.

If Cash Is Your Only Savings Strategy, You’re Losing Money
A piggy bank doesn’t draw interest.