Monday’s need-to-know money news

hidden-fees1Today’s top story: Costly financial fees you might not know you’re paying. Also in the news: Why Millennials love auto leasing, ten smart money moves that take ten minutes or less, and why nearly 7 in 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

Costly Financial Fees You Might Not Know You’re Paying
A closer look at hidden fees.

Why Millennials Love Auto Leasing
Does it make financial sense

10 smart money moves to make that take 10 minutes
Take ten minutes to get closer to your goals.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have less than $1,000 in savings
Where do you stand?

Q&A: How to build a cushion against all those pesky expenses

Dear Liz: We’re both retired and live on retirement checks. When expenses exceed our income, we draw from savings, but the balance is going down fast due to a new air conditioning unit, real estate taxes, etc. How do we put that money back and build a cushion in the checking account so our savings isn’t used to cover us month to month?

Answer: You need an emergency fund for truly unpredictable expenses, but you also should have a bunch of savings “buckets” to cover less regular but still predictable expenses. These would include property taxes, insurance, home repairs, car repairs, vacations, medical bills, holiday expenses and any other bill you face regularly but not monthly. You can track these buckets in a spreadsheet or set up separate savings accounts for each goal. Online banks typically let you set up multiple savings subaccounts for free.

Here’s how it works. If your next property tax installment is due in six months and you’ll owe $3,000, you transfer $500 a month into the property tax savings account to cover that bill. If you’re planning on a vacation in nine months, divide the expected cost by nine and transfer that amount to savings each month.

Estimating some costs can be tricky. You often can use last year’s spending as a guide, or seek out authoritative sources. Edmunds.com’s True Cost to Own feature, for example, can help you estimate repair and maintenance costs for many vehicles. With home repairs, Consumer Reports can help you calculate how long various systems tend to last and how much they cost to replace, which will allow you to save accordingly. Or you can just use the rule of thumb to put aside 1% of your home’s value each year into an account to cover maintenance and repairs.

You may not always guess correctly, but setting aside something throughout the year can help you meet these big expenses as they arise without having to dip into your emergency fund.

You may discover that you can’t set aside enough to cover these less regular expenses and still pay your monthly bills. If that’s the case, you may not be able to afford your current lifestyle and may need to trim some costs.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to save for 2017 and 2057 at the same time. Also in the news: What new prepaid debit card rules mean for you, life insurance strategies for families with special needs children, and the high cost of using an ATM.

How to Save for 2017 and 2057 at the Same Time
Saving for the immediate and long-term future.

What the New Prepaid Card Rules Mean for You
Easier to understand terms and more security.

A Life Insurance Strategy for Families With Special-Needs Children
Making sure your loved ones are taken care of.

You won’t believe average cost of using an ATM
The crazy cost of accessing your own money.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

common-retirement-mistakesToday’s top story: How to tell if your 401(k) is a dud. Also in the news: How to find unclaimed property, great tax deductions for retirees, and how to sneak more savings into your budget.

How To Tell If Your 401(k) Is a Dud
Reviving your retirement fund.

Are You Owed Money From a Forgotten Bank Account?
You could have unclaimed property.

5 Great Tax Deductions and Credits for Retirees
Maximizing your deductions.

How to Sneak More Savings Into Your Budget
You won’t even notice it’s gone.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Key financial considerations when you live alone. Also in the news: Managing your money while you’re separated from your spouse, determining how much life insurance you really need, and a change in thinking that will help get you out of debt.

Key Financial Considerations When You Live Alone
Important considerations for your life.

3 Tips for Managing Your Money While Separated From Your Spouse
Keeping your finances in order during difficult times.

How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?
Keeping yourself protected.

The Shift in Mindset That Will Help You Get Out of Debt
A change in thinking.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to save for college without sacrificing retirement. Also in the news: Recovering from a poor credit history, 3 ways to pay off a debt in collections, and the best savings strategies for your personality type.

How to Save for College Without Sacrificing Retirement
It’s possible to do both.

Poor Credit History? There Are Ways to Recover
Making a comeback.

3 Ways to Pay Off a Debt in Collections
Getting debt collectors off your back.

Here Are the Best Savings Strategies for Your Personality Type
Are you the gambling type? Or a goal-setter?

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

dog holding a purse with money in its mouth. isolated on white bToday’s top story: How to save without using your savings account. Also in the news: Why you should have a separate bank account for your side jobs, the bad side to inactive credit, and how much it really costs to own a dog.

4 Ways to Save Without Your Savings Account
Under the mattress doesn’t count.

Why You Need a Separate Bank Account for Your Side Job
Keeping your money straight.

Inactive Credit: How Long It Takes, and How to Use a Credit Card to Prevent It
Not using credit can actually hurt your score.

This is how much it really costs to own a dog per year
Man’s best friend can get pretty pricey.

The recipe for building wealth hasn’t changed

Building wealth has gotten harder for most people in recent years. But the habits that can make you rich haven’t changed.

It boils down to this: putting aside money, regularly and consistently, that can be invested for your future. You have to leave that money alone to grow, which means you also need an emergency fund. And you must be careful with debt, because the wrong kinds can erode your wealth rather than build it.

It’s a simple formula but one that’s become increasingly hard to implement as incomes stagnate and prices rise. A shocking number of American households — nearly half, by the Federal Reserve’s last count — don’t have enough savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense. Our inability to save has contributed to a 21 percent decline in household median net worth between 1998, the year median incomes peaked in America, and 2013, the last year for which Fed stats are available.

Hardest-hit are households in the lower middle class, which in 2013 meant incomes from $23,300 to $40,499. Their net worth fell by half.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to use the habits of wealthy people to build for your future.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: What Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan could mean for you. Also in the news: How to enjoy your summer vacation without going broke, what seniors want you to know about managing money, and how to save for retirement without a full-time job.

What Clinton’s College Affordability Plan Could Mean for You
Is this a gamechanger?

Enjoy Your Summer Vacation — Without Maxing out Your Credit Cards
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

10 Things Seniors Want You to Know About Managing Money
Speaking from experience.

5 ways to save for retirement without a full-time job or 401k
Every bit helps.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

150309_BlogToday’s top story: Why Americans should care about Brexit. Also in the news: Other insurance benefits you can count on, why millions of Americans prefer their credit card statements on paper, and simple budgeting strategies that can bring real results.

3 Reasons Why Americans Should Care About ‘Brexit’
It’s not just Europe’s problem.

The Other ‘Insurance’ Benefits You Can Count On
Insurance outside the box.

Millions of Americans prefer their credit card statements on paper
Old habits die hard.

Five Simple Budgeting Strategies That Can Bring Real Results
Simple savings can bring in big bucks.