Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to know before sharing credit accounts with a parent. Also in the news: Required minimum distributions, tax-smart ways to withdraw from a 529 college plan, and high bank overdraft fees prompt a call for plain-English disclosure forms.

What to Know Before Sharing Credit Accounts With a Parent
A generous idea that could backfire.

What Are Required Minimum Distributions?
A taste of your retirement

Tax-Smart Ways to Withdraw Funds From a 529 College Plan
Don’t get hit by a large tax bill.

High bank overdraft fees prompt call for plain-English disclosure forms
No more trickery.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for April 2017. Also in the news: How one man dug out from $30K in debt, seniors are facing rising credit card debt, and should colleges require a financial literacy class?

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for April 2017
The best cards for spring.

How One Man Dug Out From $30,000 in Debt
You can do it, too.

For Seniors, Rising Credit Card Debt Squeezes Tight
Medical debt is pushing seniors to the limit.

Should colleges require a financial literacy class?
Two experts weigh in.

Q&A: Financial help for seniors

Dear Liz: In your response to the person whose friend was erroneously declared deceased by the Social Security Administration, you suggest that the older person consider finding help in managing her finances. Please recommend checking the American Assn. of Daily Money Managers for such help. I have a certification from this professional organization and we help thousands of people in this predicament. You can find more information at www.aadmm.com.

Answer: Handling the details of daily finances can get challenging as we age. Many people have trusted family or friends who can help monitor their accounts, make sure bills are getting paid and keep an eye out for signs of financial abuse. For those who don’t, a daily money manager can be a godsend.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

help-parents-manage-moneyToday’s top story: The problem with how whole life insurance is sold. Also in the news: How to save money on your commute, debt snowball vs debt avalanche, and how to stop senior citizen financial scams.

This Is What’s Wrong With How Whole Life Insurance Is Sold
Don’t get talked into pricey policies.

Save Money on Your Commute With This Often Overlooked Employee Tax Benefit
Turning your commute expenses into work expenses.

Debt Snowball Or Debt Avalanche: How To Eliminate Credit Card Debt
Which method is best for you?

5 Ways to Stop Senior Citizen Scams
Protecting your loved ones.

Q&A: Bad boyfriend plagues grandparents’ finances

Dear Liz: We have raised our granddaughter since birth. She is the apple of our eyes. Then she fell in love. The boyfriend had no job, no car. My husband co-signed a loan for this boy! He didn’t even know the boy’s last name. I was devastated, as we are on Social Security so our income is limited. Our granddaughter couldn’t afford the payments and the boy was useless. They got so far behind that we ended up having to mortgage our home to pay off the truck. We hoped to sell it but of course the kids have broken up and the boy disappeared. When I asked the Department of Motor Vehicles what I could do to get him off the title, they said I couldn’t do anything.

Answer: Your husband is showing signs of cognitive impairment. Co-signing a loan can be (and often is) a lapse in judgment; co-signing for a virtual stranger indicates a more serious problem.

A study for the Center for Retirement Research found that people’s financial decision-making abilities peak in their 50s. By our 70s, our problem-solving abilities typically have declined enough to make us more vulnerable to bad decisions and fraud.

That’s why it’s important to simplify our financial lives in retirement and to consider safeguards that can keep us from being victimized.

Freezing your credit reports at the three major credit bureaus is one good option. That can keep criminals from opening accounts in your names. You would have to thaw your reports to apply for a loan or credit card, and adding that extra “speed bump” to the process could give you time to rethink a bad decision.

If you had children you could trust, you might have your financial institutions send them duplicate statements and discuss any large purchases or investments with them. If you don’t have someone you trust, a licensed fiduciary could serve a similar function. California has a Professional Fiduciaries Bureau within its Department of Consumer Affairs where you can learn more.

At this point, you should check the vehicle title to see if the names are listed with an “and” between them or an “or.” If it’s an “or,” your husband should be able to transfer title to the new owner. Otherwise, you may need to get an attorney to help you get a legal order to remove the boy’s name from the title. Check with your local bar association to see if there are any pro bono or legal aid services that can help you.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

homebuyerToday’s top story: How buying a home can give your credit a boost. Also in the news: What really happens when you default on your student loans, why it’s important to protect your digital assets, and what happens to your budget when your parents move in.

How Buying a Home Can Help Your Credit
Your mortgage can give your credit a boost.

What Really Happens When You Default on Your Student Loans
Consider the consequences.

Forgetting Digital Assets Like Facebook Can Create Lawsuits After Your Death
While not tangible, digital assets have value.

The Financial Picture When Your Parents Move In
Your budget is about to change.

What To Do When Debt Collectors Start Calling
Deal with them head on.