Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to get more joy while giving to good causes. Also in the news: How a financial therapist can help shift your money mindset, a new episode of the Smart Money podcast on making your dream life, and 6 options for when you buy now and can’t pay later.

How to Get More Joy While Giving to Good Causes
Research shows that spending money on others is more likely to make us happy.

How a Financial Therapist Can Help Shift Your Money Mindset
A financial therapist can help you challenge your money fears and make progress in your investing journey.

Smart Money Podcast: Making Your Dream Life
Sean and Liz chat with travel Nerd Sam Kemmis about how he made his dream life possible.

6 Options for When You Buy Now and Can’t Pay Later
If you’ve taken on more buy now, pay later debt than you can handle, here are some options for easing the burden.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 things you can do to fortify your finances. Also in the news: How hotel elite status is shaping up in 2022, what airline elite status looks like in 2022, and where to get reimbursed for spoiled food after a power outage.

Struggling? Here are 5 things you can do to fortify your finances
Cost of living is up, income is down—a few adjustments here and there can help boost your bank account.

How Hotel Elite Status Is Shaping Up in 2022
The most worthwhile hotel loyalty programs have elite perks that show they value their repeat customers.

How to Think About Airline Elite Status in 2022
What airline elite status qualifications will look like in 2022 is up in the air.

Where to Get Reimbursed for Spoiled Food After a Power Outage
You may be entitled to up to $500 for spoiled food, depending on your homeowners insurance policy.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Inflation can spell disaster for some 40% of Americans. Also in the news: 5 reasons why ‘Shoulder Season’ is the best time to travel, a new episode of the Smart Money podcast on paying for college, and how a strong college application remains possible even with transcript gaps.

Inflation Can Spell Disaster for Some 40% of Americans
As of December, prices across all goods and services had risen more in a single year than they had in nearly 40 years.

5 Reasons Why ‘Shoulder Season’ Is the Best Time to Travel
Smaller crowds and better deals make the not-quite-offseason a great time to travel.

Smart Money Podcast: How Nerds Choose the Best, and Paying for College
NerdWallet’s Content team leader explains how Best-Of Award winners are chosen and why you can trust our picks.

Transcript Gaps? A Strong College Application Remains Possible
Show colleges the best version of yourself, but also know admissions officers have adapted their expectations.

How to get more joy while giving to good causes

We may think spending money on ourselves will make us happier than spending it on someone else. That belief can make it hard to carve money out of our budgets to give to good causes.

But research shows that spending money on others is more likely to make us happy. This seems to be a worldwide phenomenon, and one that applies whether we have a lot of money or only a little.

In my latest for the Associated Press, what to consider if you want to maximize your happiness while helping others.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: This year, resolve to leave no gift card unused. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on saving for your dream retirement, how to have the wedding you want for less, and comparing car insurance rates.

This Year, Resolve to Leave No Gift Card Unused
Most gift cards are spent within a year, but billions of dollars remain unspent and about 1% to 2% of gift card dollars typically go unused.

How to Have the Wedding You Want for Less
When planning a wedding, there’s pressure to create a perfect event. But you can still have the day of your dreams with a wedding budget of any size.

Smart Money Podcast: Saving for Your Dream Retirement
Budgeting pro Marissa Lyda talks with Sean and Liz about saving and how she’s made a full-time job out of YouTube.

Compare Car Insurance Rates
The NerdWallet guide to finding the best car insurance rate

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Here’s which airline rewards program gives the most value. Also in the news: The most valuable hotel rewards program in 2022, 5 steps to strengthen your finances, and despite higher wages, inflation gave the average worker a 2.4% pay cut last year.

Here’s Which Airline Rewards Program Gives the Most Value
Alaska, Frontier and Southwest lead the way on cash value per mile.

The Most Valuable Hotel Rewards Programs in 2022
Radisson Rewards America and World of Hyatt lead the way on key measures of value.

5 Steps to Strengthen Your Finances in 2022
In 2022, setting grand financial goals may not be realistic for every budget, but there are still smart steps you can take to shore up your finances.

Despite higher wages, inflation gave the average worker a 2.4% pay cut last year
Inflation grew 7% in December from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Labor said Wednesday.

This year, resolve to leave no gift card unused

Years ago, a friend who needed cash sold me a $100 Nordstrom gift card. I wish I knew where the heck I put it.

Gift cards are a popular holiday solution, especially recently, as supply chain disruptions and shipping delays have made gift buying more challenging. Most gift cards are spent within a year, but billions of dollars remain unspent and about 1% to 2% of gift card dollars typically go unused, according to Amy Dunckelmann, vice president of research operations for Mercator Advisory Group, a global payments consultant.

In my latest for the Associated Press, tips on using your cards wisely and what to do with cards you can’t use.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How a financial therapist can help shift your money mindset. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on new money resolutions and strategizing debt payoff, how to attract busy contractors to your home remodel, and saving for what makes you feel good in 2022.

How a Financial Therapist Can Help Shift Your Money Mindset
A financial therapist can help you challenge your money fears and make progress in your investing journey.

Smart Money Podcast: New Money Resolutions, and Strategizing Debt Payoff
This week’s episode starts with a conversation about how to craft and achieve your money resolutions in the new year.

How to Attract Busy Contractors to Your Home Remodel
Patience, planning and a good referral can help homeowners stand out to contractors for home remodel projects.

Save for What Makes You Feel Good in 2022
Expenses that don’t put a roof over your head, but do provide joy, rejuvenation and other hard-to-quantify benefits are worth saving for, too.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What the No Surprises Act means for your medical bills. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on buying your dream house, the January mortgage rate forecast, and 5 steps to reach your money goals in 2022.

What the No Surprises Act Means for Your Medical Bills
The No Surprises Act bans surprise medical bills for emergency services and unexpected out-of-network providers.

Smart Money Podcast: Buying Your Dream House
Sean and Liz chat with Nerd Elizabeth Renter about how she bought her dream house.

Mortgage Outlook: Rates May Stand Still in January
January mortgage rates forecast.

5 Steps to Reach Your Money Goals in 2022
With inflation and economic uncertainty clouding 2022, shoring up your finances this month can feel even more urgent.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: More than half of travelers have the same New Year’s resolution. Also in the news: Saving on a new car from the factory, how to travel to Super Bowl LVI on a budget, and how to help your parents navigate health care in retirement.

More Than Half of Travelers Have the Same New Year’s Resolution
Remote work options will enable many people to travel in ways they couldn’t in the past.

Order a New Car From the Factory and Save
Waiting a few weeks or months gets you the vehicle you want, and perhaps a better price.

How to Travel to Super Bowl LVI on a Budget
If you splurged on tickets to the big game, here’s how to save on your flights and hotel.

How to Help Your Parents Navigate Health Care in Retirement
Try these tips to be the best advocate for your parents when and if they need your help.