Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do when your holiday gifts haven’t arrived. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on financial accomplishments, how pet insurance can keep costs in check, and the benefits of an unpaid internship.

Your Holiday Gifts Still Haven’t Arrived. Now What?
Remain calm.

Smart Money Podcast: What Our Listeners Accomplished This Year, Part 1

Pet Insurance Can Help Keep Costs for Your Furbaby in Check
A pet insurance policy can pick up part of the tab if your four-legged companion gets sick or injured.

Get Skills — Not Bills — at an Unpaid Internship
It can cost thousands of dollars to do an unpaid internship, and many take on credit card debt to get by. Here are ways to limit that high-interest debt.

Q&A: Look for a fee-only planner

Dear Liz: I am starting to receive marketing mailings from financial advisors inviting me to a free lunch or dinner to listen to annuity investment presentations. I went to one recently by a fee-based financial planner who told me he also acts as a broker when investing in annuities. He’s been pressuring me to invest all of my retirement funds into a fixed indexed annuity. Isn’t this a conflict of interest? I assume he gets paid by both me and a commission from the insurance company if he signs me up for this investment. Why do financial planners force annuities on seniors? Is it because they know they will also get commissions? Is it better to sign up with a fee-only financial planner? I’ve read that the fee-only planner will act only in my interest, not pushing investments that bring in a commission.

Answer: Yes, yes and yes.
Remember your folks telling you, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”? Remember that the next time you get one of these offers for a “free” meal (or a timeshare presentation, for that matter), because you could end up paying dearly. These presentations are made by salespeople who can be really good at talking people into products that are not in their best interests.

A good advisor would never pressure you or suggest putting all your investment eggs in a single basket. Look instead for advice from a fee-only (not fee-based) financial advisor who will agree, in writing, to be a fiduciary, which means they’re committed to putting your interests ahead of their own.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: A year-end checklist to make the most of retirement age. Also in the news: How the government’s next step to fight inflation could impact savers, myths about iBuyers, and why you shouldn’t spend a dollar to save a nickel on gas.

A Year-End Checklist to Make the Most of Retirement Savings
Age brings unique opportunities and obligations, including some important year-end tasks that can help you make the most of your money.

Inflation Keeps Surging: Government’s Next Step Could Impact Savers
Fed officials project as many as three 0.25 percentage point interest rate hikes in 2022.

The Property Line: Don’t Be Misled by These Myths About iBuyers
They aren’t responsible for runaway house prices and can lessen some seller pain points. So why all the hate for iBuyers?

Don’t Spend a Dollar to Save a Nickel on Gas
It’s about the worst time possible to buy any car unless you absolutely have to.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Keep an eye on debt using visual aids. Also in the news: How to make last-minute flight changes, pet insurance can help keep costs for your furbaby in check, and nearly 30% of shoppers haven’t paid off last years holiday debt.

Keep an eye on debt using visual aids
Visual aids provide motivation.

Winter storms, COVID: How to make last-minute flight changes
Be prepared for last-minute flight changes or cancellations this year.

Nearly 30% of shoppers haven’t paid off last years holiday debt
Financial experts give tips on how to limit your debt

Pet insurance can help keep costs for your furbaby in check
70% of U.S. households have a pet, according to the 2021-2022 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Disability and Credit Access: why scores are key in a crisis. Also in the news: 4 features to look for in the best credit cards of 2022, considering the suburbs, and is trading employee equity a good idea?

Disability and Credit Access: Why Scores Are Key in a Crisis
Having good credit can help you get low-interest loans or credit cards to help you cover your bills in an emergency. Here’s how to get started.

Best Credit Cards of 2022: 4 Features to Look For
Credit card issuers are offering more choice and flexibility as they add features to new cards.

Can’t Buy the House You Want? Consider Moving Out of the City
Suburban and small-town living has its perks, including more spacious and affordable choices for first-time home buyers.

Is Trading Employee Equity a Good Idea?
Buying or selling employee equity has become easier and more accessible, but is it right for your portfolio?

A year-end money checklist for people 50 and up

Age brings unique opportunities and obligations, including some important year-end tasks that can help you make the most of your money. In my latest for the Associated Press, some tasks to consider for those 50 and up.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to avoid going overboard and over budget on kids’ holiday gifts. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on countering uncertainty and building wealth early, Medicare and prescription drug costs, and what you need to know about Medigap Plan D.

Avoid Going Overboard and Over Budget on Kids’ Holiday Gifts
To avoid overspending this year, find a gifting strategy that works for your kids and your budget.

Smart Money Podcast: Countering Uncertainty, and Building Wealth Early
Sean and Liz discuss how to counter uncertainty, and respond to a young listener’s question about building wealth.

Does Medicare Cover Prescription Drugs?
Original Medicare beneficiaries can buy prescription coverage called Part D. Medicare Advantage plans usually include coverage.

What Is Medigap Plan D? What You Need to Know
Medigap Plan D helps Medicare enrollees with some costs not covered by Medicare Part A and Part B.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to holiday shop at the last minute. Also in the news: 6 ways to save money on holiday travel, 2022 small business outlook, and easy ways to clean up your finances before another year begins.

How to Holiday Shop at the Last Minute
Here’s what to do if you still have gifts left to purchase this month.

6 Ways to Save Money on Holiday Travel
Leverage the perks and advantages provided by travel credit cards to cut costs this season.

Small-Business Outlook: 6 Predictions for 2022
Small businesses can expect more access to capital in 2022.

Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Finances Now, Before Another Year Begins
The lazy person’s guide to starting 2022 with a clean slate.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to stay up to date on foreign travel restrictions. Also in the news: Southwest to roll out 4th fare type in 2022, maximizing holiday spirit while minimizing taxes, and how to spot a shady landlord.

How to Stay Up to Date on Foreign Travel Restrictions
Look to federal agency and embassy websites for up-to-date information on travel advisories and requirements.

Southwest to Roll Out 4th Fare Type in 2022: What to Know
Southwest Airlines’ planned addition will give passengers more options.

Charitable Donations: Maximize Holiday Spirit, Minimize Taxes
Year-end charitable donations do good all around. While giving to others, you can get a break on your taxes.

How to Spot a Shady Landlord (Before It’s Too Late)
Before you sign your lease, watch for these warning signs.

8 rules for saving, borrowing and spending money

The best personal finance advice is tailored to your individual situation. That said, a few rules of thumb can cut through the confusion that often surrounds money decisions and help you build a solid financial foundation.

In my latest for the Associated Press, guidelines for saving, borrowing, spending and protecting your money culled from nearly three decades of writing about personal finance.