Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 good ways to put your tax refund to work. Also in the news: 4 wats to speed up your tax refund, how 3 students got an education on the cheap, and Amazon may be getting into the banking business.

4 Good Ways to Put Your Tax Refund to Work
Use your refund to ease financial stress.

4 Ways to Speed Up Your Tax Refund
Skip the mailbox.

How 3 Students Got an Education on the Cheap
Avoiding years of debt.

Amazon’s next product may be a checking account
The online giant is eyeing banking.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: It’s tax scam season. Here’s when to call shenanigans. Also in the news: Starting with a budget when planning a wedding, how to find good, cheap stocks, and a major data breach at the Marine Forces Reserve.

Planning a Wedding? Start With the Budget
Setting reasonable expectations.

It’s Tax Scam Season. Here’s When to Call Shenanigans
Pay close attention.

4 Steps to Finding Good, Cheap Stocks
Tips for beginners.

Major data breach at Marine Forces Reserve impacts thousands
Social Security numbers, banks transfers and other personal info has been leaked.

When a tax refund is a lifeline, not a windfall

The typical advice about what people should do with their tax refunds — save for retirement! pay off debt! — ignores how little wiggle room many families have with their finances.

Tax refunds averaged $2,895 last year, and were the largest single cash infusion received all year by 40 percent of the checking account holders recently studied by the JPMorgan Chase Institute. In my latest for the Associated Press, a look at how Americans use their tax refunds.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Quick – Can you come up with $400? Also in the news: Is 4-year college right for you, car negotiating secrets for people who hate haggling, and 5myths about your 2017 tax refund and what not to do if you want to do if you want it quicker.

Quick — Can You Come Up With $400?
Most of America cannot.

Ask Brianna: Is 4-Year College Right for You?
Do you really need all 4 years?

Car Negotiating Secrets for People Who Hate Haggling
Negotiating without pressure.

5 myths about your 2017 tax refund and what not to do if you want it quicker
Calling the IRS won’t help.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How debt settlement can make a bad money situation worse. Also in the news: Using an IRA as a legal, last-minute way to lower your taxes, 4 reasons why it’s smart to buy a used cell phone, and how to budget as a freelancer.

Debt Settlement Can Make a Bad Money Situation Worse
Not the perfect solution.

An IRA Is a Legal, Last-Minute Way to Lower Your Taxes
There’s still time for 2017 taxes.

4 Reasons It’s Smart to Buy a Used Cell Phone
Saving on new-to-you tech.

How to Budget as a Freelancer
Budgeting when income isn’t reliable.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 items that make any hotel room feel like home. Also in the news: 3 “tax-friendly” states that are anything but, the best thing you’ve done to get your finances in order, and 5 gas mileage myths that are wasting your money.

5 Items That Make Any Hotel Room Feel Like Home
You don’t have to feel like a stranger while on the road.

This Harsh Tax Can Make These 3 “Tax-Friendly” States Anything But
Nevada, Texas, and Washington.

What’s the Best Thing You’ve Done to Get Your Finances in Order?
Share your tips.

5 gas mileage myths that are wasting your money
You can leave the air conditioning on.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 blunders to avoid when doing your own taxes. Also in the news: What to do if your W-2 is missing, 6 key investing concepts, and why there’s no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to money.

Doing Your Own Taxes? Pros Say Avoid These 4 Blunders
Getting it right the first time.

What to Do If Your W-2 Is MIA
You have options.

6 Investing Key Concepts — in Plain English
Understanding the basics.

Don’t Let the Fear of Looking Stupid Lead to Money Mistakes
There’s no such thing as a dumb question.

Q&A: IRA distributions and the tax man

Dear Liz: I am 79, in fairly good health and fortunately have almost $600,000 in my IRA account. My minimum required distribution is currently about $30,000 a year, which means my IRA funds will last until I am well over 100! I realize that I can pay a penalty and draw down some of the funds but I don’t want to be pushed into a higher income bracket. Any suggestions on how I can enjoy the money while I am able?

Answer: You won’t pay a penalty for pulling more than the minimum from your IRA. That early withdrawal penalty disappeared 20 years ago, after you turned 59½. You will owe income taxes, of course, but a visit with a tax pro can help you determine how much more you can withdraw before you’re pushed into a higher tax bracket.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do if the new tax law changes your paycheck. Also in the news: The smartest way to use gift cards, giving up your brick-and-mortar bank, and smart money moves for Black Americans in financial distress.

What to Do If the New Tax Law Changes Your Paycheck
What to look out for.

The Smartest Way to Use Gift Cards
How to get the most value.

Can You Afford to Give Up Your Brick-and-Mortar Bank?
Making the switch to mobile banking.

Smart Money Moves for Black Americans in Financial Distress
Fighting against income disparity.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Before doing your taxes, gather these documents. Also in the news: 3 things to do when buying a house as an unmarried couple, how credit cards can help you save on buses and trains, and 4 money lessons every teenager needs to know.

Before Doing Your Taxes, Gather These Documents
Putting your paperwork together.

Buying a Home as an Unmarried Couple? Do These 3 Things
Buyer beware.

Credit Cards Can Help You Save on Buses and Trains, Too
Discounts everywhere.

4 money lessons every teenager needs to know
The sooner the better.