Friday’s need-to-know money news

IRS 1040 Tax Form Being Filled OutToday’s top story: Choosing between the standard or itemized tax deduction. Also in the news: Taking steps to a better financial future, money mistakes to avoid during your 20s, and the four letter word that can ruin your credit.

Should You Take the Standard or Itemized Tax Deduction?
While one might be easier, the other could save you more money.

7 Steps To A Better Financial Future
Begin with the end in mind.

Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s
Don’t makes mistakes in your 20s that you’ll be paying for in your 40s and 50s.

The 4-Letter Word That Can Ruin Your Credit
Take a guess.

3 Ill-Advised Reasons Not to Buy Life Insurance
You’re not getting any younger.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Changes are coming to the 2014 mortgage market. Also in the news: The privacy of your credit score, financial predictions for 2014, and how to avoid charitable giving tax mishaps. credit

What You Need to Know About the 2014 Mortgage Market
Seven possible changes to next year’s mortgage market.

How Private Is Your Credit Score?
The amount of people who know your credit score might surprise you.

10 Personal Finance Predictions for 2014
NerdWallet reads the financial tea leaves.

Giving to Charity? Watch Out for These Tax Traps
Your generosity could come with a hefty price tag.

Will Banks Ever Pay Savers More?
Why banks hate people who save their money.

Parent’s medical bills may be tax deduction

Dear Liz: The writer who wrote in about her mother’s medical bills should check to see if she took those bills as a schedule A deduction on her 2010 and 2011 federal tax returns. She still has time to amend those returns, if that is useful.

Answer: That’s a terrific suggestion. The writer’s mother may qualify as her dependent if the writer covered more than half of the mother’s necessary living expenses, including in-home care, and the mother’s situation met certain other requirements, such as not having gross income in excess of IRS limits. Gross income does not include nontaxable Social Security checks or other tax-exempt income. The limits for gross income were $3,650 in 2010, $3,700 in 2011, $3,800 in 2012 and is $3,900 for 2013, said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst for CCH Tax & Accounting North America.

Even if the mother didn’t qualify as a dependent, a deduction may still be possible, Luscombe said. As long as the writer provided more than one-half of the mother’s support, the writer might still be able to claim a deduction for medical expenses if all of the writer’s medical expenses, including those paid for the mother, exceed 7.5% of the writer’s adjusted gross income in 2010 and 2011. (The medical expense deduction threshold increased from 7.5% to 10% in 2013 for those under age 65.)

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Passenger airplane landing on runway in airport.Wedding bells and tax deductions are ringing, using credit cards to pay off student loans, and how to avoid having your identity stolen while on vacation.

Tax Deductions Available for Your Wedding
Could tax deductions be the best wedding gift ever?

Should You Use Credit Card Rewards to Pay Auto, Student Loans?
Cash-back rewards for paying auto and student loans are on the way.

Pre-College Conversations: When to Step in Over Money Matters
When to get involved in your child’s finances.

Do You Have What It Takes to Work From Home?
Working in your pajamas may sound like fun, but it actually requires a lot of discipline.

Vacation is No Time to Abandon Financial Caution
Identity thieves love to prey on tourists.