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.

‘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

taxesToday’s top story: A beginner’s guide to filing taxes in 2016. Also in the news: The benefits of a “Walk Away” fund, simple ways to catch up on retirement savings, and the financial choices you’ll regret ten years from now.

A Beginner’s Guide To Filing Taxes In 2016
Don’t be intimidated.

Save money now, so you can fire your boss later
Creating a “walk away” fund.

5 simple ways to catch up on your retirement savings
It’s never too late.

10 Financial Choices You’ll Regret in 10 Years
Things can look a whole lot different ten years down the road.

You Can’t Earn Your Way Out of a Spending Problem
Addressing the spending problem first.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

imagesToday’s top story: The FAFSA changes students and their parents need to know about. Also in the news: Why you shouldn’t increase your spending when you have extra money, podcasts that will teach you about investing, and what your children should know about money at different stages of development.

The FAFSA Changes You Need to Know About
What students and parents need to know.

Don’t Increase Your Spending When You Have Extra Money
Don’t set yourself up.

9 Podcasts That Will Teach You About Investing
Learn about different approaches and strategies.

What your child should know about money by grade school, middle school and high school
Teaching the basics

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: What happens if you get caught lying on your FAFSA? Also in the news: Why your financial life is a mess, which interest rate you should choose, and the credit score every small business owner should understand.

What Happens If You Lie on Your FAFSA?
Resist the temptation.

Fixed or Variable: Which Interest Rate Should You Choose?
Which interest rate is best for you?

The Credit Score Every Small Business Owner Needs to Understand
Introducing the FICO SBSS.

Top Seven Reasons Why Your Financial Life Is A Mess
Getting your financial house in order.

If You Won’t Remember Something in a Week, Don’t Buy It
Smart advice.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Tax credits that can save you a lot of cash. Also in the news: How to make your kids smarter about money, why we overspend with our credit cards, and how to get through the most awkward money conversations.

5 Tax Credits That Can Save You a Boatload of Cash
Don’t miss out.

9 ways to make your kids smarter about money
It’s never too early to start.

How credit cards get us to overspend
Mind games.

The 9 most awkward money conversations and how to get through them
The conversations you can’t avoid.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to wreck someone else’s credit. Also in the news: How much you need to save in case of an emergency, five tax resolutions for next April 15th, and ten steps to a smarter spending plan.

4 Ways You Can Wreck Somebody Else’s Credit
Not that you should, of course.

In Case Of Emergency, You Need To Save… How Much, Exactly?
Preparing for the unexpected.

Make These 5 Tax Resolutions For Next April 15
It’s never too early to start working on next year’s taxes.

10 Steps to a Smarter Spending Plan
Spend wisely.

6 Financial Items to Include on Your Spring Cleaning List
Tidying up your financial life.

Q&A: Paying down debt without touching home equity

Dear Liz: My wife and I accrued $28,000 of credit card debt over the past eight years. In addition to a sizable student loan bill for law school, our home mortgage and the expenses associated with three young children, we are struggling to get ahead enough to knock our credit card debt down. While we make good income between the two of us, it would seem not enough to pay more than the minimum on our debts. We have curbed a number of our bad habits (we eat out less, take lunch to work, say no to relatives) but the savings are not translating to lowered debt. Our 401(k)s are holding steady and we continue to contribute and I don’t want to touch those (I did when I was younger and regret it.). We’ve been considering taking out a home equity line of credit to pay off the cards and reduce the interest rate. Of course we have to be disciplined enough to not go out and create more debt, but I think my wife got the picture when I said no family vacations for the next few years. What are your thoughts?

Answer: You say, “Of course we have to be disciplined enough to not go out and create more debt,” but that’s exactly what many families do after they’ve used home equity borrowing to pay off their cards. They wind up deeper in the hole, plus they’ve put their home at risk to pay off debt that otherwise might be erased in Bankruptcy Court.

Bankruptcy probably isn’t in the cards for you, of course, given your resources. But before you use home equity to refinance this debt, you need to fix the problems that caused you to live so far beyond your means.

You’ve plugged some of the obvious leaks — eating out and mooching relatives — but you may be able to reduce other expenses, including your grocery and utility bills. If those smaller fixes don’t free up enough cash to start paying down the debt, the next places to look are at your big-ticket expenses: your home, your cars and your student loans. There may not be much you can do about the latter, although you should explore your options for consolidating and refinancing this debt. That leaves your home and your cars. If your payments on these two expenses are eating up more than about 35% of your income, then you should consider downsizing.

What you don’t want to do is to tap your retirement funds or reduce your contributions below the level that gets the full company match. Retirement needs to remain your top financial priority.

Reducing your lifestyle may not be appealing, but it’s better to sacrifice now while you’re younger than to wind up old and broke.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Finding the best tax software. Also in the news: The cost of the marriage tax penalty, how to convince your spouse to stop spending, and the hidden costs of buying a home.

Which Tax Software Is Best for You?
Which program best serves your tax needs?

How Much the Marriage Tax Penalty Will Cost You
Your spouse’s higher income could bump you into a new tax bracket.

How to Persuade Your Spouse to Stop Spending Money
Compromise could make all the difference.

The Hidden Costs of Buying a Home
Fees, fees, everywhere fees.

Should You Put Your Tax Refund On A Prepaid Card?
Faster access to your money could mean less of it.

Can you be too cautious about spending money?

Dear Liz: I think I have a phobia about spending money. I’m a young professional who has devoted a lot of time to building up my savings account. I also contribute sizable amounts to my 401(k) and IRA each month. I pay off my credit cards each month, and I am making larger-than-necessary payments on my small student loans. Still, I feel as if every time I spend money on something — clothing, travel, furniture, etc. — I am undoing my hard work. It makes me scrutinize every decision until I either give up or make an impulse purchase. Is this normal? How do I know when it is OK to actually spend the money I have worked to save?

Answer: Being cautious about spending money is fine. If making purchases causes you great anxiety, though, or you’re unnecessarily compromising your quality of life, then you may want to seek help.

People with irrational fears of spending money may put off necessary doctor visits, buy unhealthy food because it’s cheap (at least in the short run), refuse to make charitable contributions or forgo pleasurable experiences. Instead of using money as a tool to live a good life, they make saving an end in itself.

Since you’re by nature a saver and a planner, you should use those strengths to free yourself from unnecessary concerns about spending money. If you enjoy travel, for example, plan a few trips and set aside money in advance to pay for them. Do the same thing with clothing or furniture upgrades. Planning and knowing how much you have to spend can help you dispel some of your anxiety and minimize the chances of regret.

Talking to a therapist or a financial planner could give you some additional strategies for dealing with your worries.