Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to manage money in your 30’s. Also in the news: Student loan holders catch a home buying break, why you should get to work building an unemployment fund, and the 10 best entry-level jobs for 2017.

How to Manage Money in Your 30s
Taking the longview.

Student Loan Holders Catch a Home-Buying Break
It’s about to become a little easier.

Get to Work on Building Your Unemployment Fund
Preparing for the worst.

The 10 Best Entry-Level Jobs For 2017
We all have to start somewhere.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 questions to answer before taking out student loans. Also in the news: Debt collection goes high-tech, 7 alternative ways to pay your taxes, and credit card rental insurance doesn’t cover as much as you think.

3 Questions to Answer Before Taking Out Student Loans
Important things to consider.

From Stone Age to Drone Age: Debt Collection Goes High-Tech
Send in the drones!

7 Alternative Ways to Pay Your Taxes
Thinking outside the box.

Credit Card Car Rental Insurance Doesn’t Cover as Much as You Think
Reading the fine print.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What student loan borrowers need to know about the Navient lawsuit. Also in the news: 5 ways to avoid blowing your tax refund, how to prepare financially for a baby, and spreading your tax refund across multiple accounts.

Navient Lawsuit: What Student Loan Borrowers Need to Know
Navient is facing three lawsuits.

5 Ways to Avoid Blowing Your Tax Refund
Using it wisely.

Baby on the way? Here’s how to prepare financially
Preparing for parenthood.

The IRS Will Split Your Tax Refund for You
Spread your refund across multiple accounts.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Can’t refinance student loans? Try these tactics. Also in the news: 10-word answers to your biggest car insurance questions, 5 foods that raise blood pressure – and life insurance rates, and 5 ways to save on preparing your taxes.

Can’t Refinance Student Loans? Try These Tactics
Looking at the alternatives.

10-Word Answers (or Less!) to Your Biggest Car Insurance Questions
Short and sweet.

5 Foods That Raise Blood Pressure — and Life Insurance Rates
That burger could spike more than just your blood pressure.

5 ways to save on preparing your taxes
Keeping more of your money.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: There’s still time to make an IRA contribution for 2016. Also in the news: FAFSA tool outage, 4 money lies you might be telling yourself, and when a tax refund means bankruptcy.

There’s Still Time to Make an IRA Contribution for 2016
You have a couple more weeks.

FAFSA Tool Outage: Students It Affects Most and How to Cope
Added stress.

4 Money Lies You Might Be Telling Yourself
Time for the truth.

When a tax refund means bankruptcy
The means to pay for going broke.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Dodge these 5 tax mistakes. Also in the news: How to pay for expensive transgender surgeries, how to lower your energy bill, and the rare instances when student loans can be forgiven.

Dodge These 5 Tax Mistakes
Common mistakes to avoid.

How to Pay for Expensive Transgender Surgeries
Exploring the options.

How to Lower Your Energy Bill
Examining the physics behind your energy use.

These Are the Rare Instances in Which Student Loans Can Be Forgiven
Very rare.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Victim of ‘Divorce Season’? Protect Your Finances. Also in the news: Mixing up these student loan terms could cost you, why deductions aren’t the only way to save on real estate taxes, and why you still need to cut up your canceled credit cards.

Victim of ‘Divorce Season’? Protect Your Finances
March and August are bad months for marriage.

Mixing Up These Student Loan Terms Could Cost You
Know your student loan vocabulary.

Deductions Aren’t the Only Way to Save on Real Estate Taxes
Alternative tax incentives.

Do You Still Need to Cut Up Your Canceled Credit Cards?
Get the scissors.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 reasons why the IRS will audit you. Also in the news: Big news that could affect your student loans, sneaky ways debt can change how you think, and how the “Once in a Lifetime” mentality screws up your budget.

7 Reasons the IRS Will Audit You
How to avoid triggering an audit.

This News Could Affect Your Student Loans
Heads up.

3 Sneaky Ways Debt Can Change How You Think
Don’t resign yourself to debt.

How a “Once in a Lifetime” Mentality Screws Up Your Budget
Something to watch out for.

Q&A: Deploying a windfall wisely

Dear Liz: I recently received a $38,000 windfall. I have a student loan balance of $37,000. I want to buy a home, but I can’t decide if I should have a large down payment and continue paying down student loans slowly, or make a balloon payment on my student loans and put down a smaller amount on the home. The mortgage rate would be around 4% while the student loans are at 6.55%. The price of homes in my area is at least $250,000 for a two-bedroom house (which my income supports). I want to make a smart decision.

Answer: At first glance, the answer may seem obvious: Pay down the higher-rate debt. But a deeper look reveals that the second option may be the better course.

Student loan interest is deductible, so your effective interest rate on those loans may be less than 5%. If they’re federal student loans, they have all kinds of consumer protections as well. If you lose your job, for example, you have access to deferral and forbearance as well as income-sensitive repayment plans. In most cases, you don’t need to be in a rush to pay off this tax-advantaged, relatively low-rate debt.

A home purchase may be more time sensitive. Interest rates are already up from their recent lows and may go higher. If you can afford to buy a home and plan to stay put for several years, then you probably shouldn’t delay.

A 10% down payment should be sufficient to get a good loan. You’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance, since you can’t put 20% down, but PMI typically drops off after you’ve built enough equity. You usually can request that PMI be dropped once you’ve paid the mortgage down to 80% of the home’s original value. At 78%, the lender may be required to remove PMI. (Note that these rules apply to conventional mortgages and don’t apply to the mortgage insurance that comes with FHA loans.)

You can use the remaining cash to pay down your student loans, but do so only if you already have a healthy emergency fund. It’s smart to set aside at least 1% of the value of your home each year to cover repairs and maintenance, plus you’ll want at least three months’ worth of mortgage payments in the bank. Even better would be enough cash to cover all your expenses for three months.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 ways to ride the rising interest rates wave. Also in the news: Why you should set your own credit card limits, reasons why credit isn’t as boring as it sounds, and more than 1 million student loan borrowers are in default.

Fed Rate Hike: 4 Ways to Ride Rising Interest Rate Wave
Only the third increase since the 2008 financial crisis.

Set Your Own Credit Card Limits and Improve Your Life
Knowing your limits.

3 Reasons Credit Isn’t as Boring as It Sounds
It’s about more than just cards.

More than 1 million borrowers defaulted on their student loans last year
The amount owed by borrowers has increased 17%.