The tax credit fix many can’t afford to miss

Families battered by the pandemic recession soon may discover that the tax refunds they’re counting on are dramatically smaller — or that they actually owe income tax. Congress offered a partial solution, but the fix hasn’t been widely publicized, consumer advocates say.

Refunds are crucial to many lower- and moderate-income households, which use the money to catch up on bills and medical treatments, pay down debt and boost savings.

But the unemployment insurance that kept many people afloat last year may cause problems at tax time this year. In my latest for the Associated Press, how a tax credit fix could lessen the blow of unemployment benefits taxes.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: A guide to PPP loan forgiveness. Also in the news: High car insurance rates could be because of bad credit, 4 signs your about to get a tax surprise, and how to budget when you hate to budget.

A Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness

High Car Insurance Rates? Bad Credit May Be to Blame
Not paying bills might hurt you more than you think. Drivers with poor credit pay over 75% more annually in some states.

4 Signs You’re About to Get a Tax Surprise
If any of these things have happened to you, a tax surprise may be coming.

How to Budget When You Hate to Budget
Automation, technology and some simple guidelines can help you budget without a huge amount of effort and stress.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: These savings accounts give you a chance to win cash. Also in the news: How to pull off a month of no spending, how young drivers can steer clear of costly car insurance, and how to find legal advice if you can’t afford a lawyer.

These Savings Accounts Give You a Chance to Win Cash
Learn about prized-linked savings accounts.

Should you try a ‘Frugal February’? How to pull off a month of no spending
It can be a good way to get your finances — and priorities — back on track

How young drivers can steer clear of costly car insurance
Finding a good deal on good coverage.

How To Find Legal Advice If You Can’t Afford a Lawyer
Legal aid helps low-income people.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Hotels turn to elopement package to attract those planning weddings. Also in the news: Ideas for paying off credit card debt, how the pandemic has changed Americans’ financial thinking, and how President Biden’s executive orders will affect your debt.

Hotels Turn to Elopement Packages to Attract Those Planning Weddings
These deals can save you money on your wedding, and earn you points — as long as you keep the guest list small.

Ideas for paying off credit card debt
Tackling your debt in the new year.

‘Financial security is fun now.’ Many Americans want to keep saving more and spending less
A pandemic shift to a simpler financial life—how you can do it, too

How Will Biden’s Executive Orders Affect Your Debt?
Another extension on student loan payments.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Unpacking the myths of investing in the stock market. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on buying cryptocurrency and tackling debt, life insurance companies are becoming more marijuana-friendly, and asking for reconsideration after being denied a credit card.

Unpacking the Myths of Investing in the Stock Market
These stock market myths have no place in your portfolio.

Smart Money Podcast: Buying Crypto and Dealing With Debt
Understanding cryptocurrency and how to tackle your debt head on.

Smoke Weed and Need Life Insurance? Some Companies Are Cool With Marijuana
Not every life insurer is willing to cover marijuana users, but some don’t mind — provided it isn’t a daily habit.

Call a Reconsideration Line for a Second Chance at a Credit Card
Taking a second look.

How to make budgeting as painless as possible

Budgeting is a pain. But what’s more painful is a bill you can’t easily pay, debt that costs a fortune or not having enough money to retire.

Fortunately, you can have a useful, working budget without watching every penny. Automation, technology and a few simple guidelines can keep you on track. In my latest for the Associated Press, finding the budget plan that best suits your needs.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Jump start your credit by developing two essential habits. Also in the news: Four questions to ask before buying homeowners insurance, how to handle vehicle repossession, and how much a DUI can cost you.

Jump-Start Your Credit: Develop 2 Essential Habits
These two habits matter most.

Buying Homeowners Insurance? Ask These 4 Questions First
Asking these questions can help you get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

How to Handle Vehicle Repossession
Navigating a difficult time.

How Much a DUI Can Cost You
It’s simply not worth it.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 financial experts who could steer you wrong. Also in the news: Treating investing like a subscription, 7 credit card perks to prioritize in 2021, and Disney cancels its annual Passport Program.

4 Financial ‘Experts’ Who Could Steer You Wrong
Be cautious about taking advice from sources who care more about their profits than your financial health.

Want to Invest More This Year? Treat It Like a Subscription
A better financial future for just $49.99 a month sounds like a late-night infomercial, but it’s not as crazy as it seems.

7 Credit Card Perks to Prioritize in 2021
Resolve to examine your cards’ features and ensure they’re still getting the job done and saving you money.

Disney Cancels Its Annual Passport Program
Over one million customers impacted.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 financial experts who could steer your wrong. Also in the news; More Americans are saving than ever before, though in unequal amounts, do’s and don’ts for planning your travel on points this year, and how to make debt less costly when you need it in a crisis.

4 Financial ‘Experts’ Who Could Steer You Wrong
Be cautious about taking advice from sources who care more about their profits than your financial health.

More Americans Are Saving Than Ever Before, Though in Unequal Amounts

Ask a Points Nerd: Should I Book Award Travel for 2021?
Here are some do’s and don’ts for planning your travel on points this year.

How to Make Debt Less Costly When You Need It in a Crisis
Americans have taken on more debt as the pandemic brought widespread job and income losses, according to a survey.

4 financial ‘experts’ who could steer you wrong

None of us knows everything we need to know about money, so we may turn to experts for help. But some money professionals who offer advice are not qualified to do so — nor are they required to put our interests ahead of theirs.

In my latest for the Associated Press, be cautious when accepting advice from certain sources.