Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What every parent should know about investing for retirement. Also in the news: To fight inflation, take down food expenses, a new episode of the Smart Money podcast on small business benefits and buying a hybrid, and these U.S. cities are seeing the biggest drop in home prices.

What every parent should know about investing for retirement
Don’t make these mistakes when it comes to saving and investing for yourself and your kids

To fight inflation, take down food expenses
February food prices were 7.9% higher than they were a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Smart Money Podcast: Small Business Benefits, and Buying a Hybrid
Learn the perks of shopping small. Then hear whether high gas prices make now the time to switch to a hybrid.

These U.S. Cities Are Seeing the Biggest Drops in Home Prices
What this means for those looking to buy and sell houses.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Are high-deductible Medicare supplement insurance plans worth it? Also in the news: Are older workers a solution to the labor shortage, 2022 best cities for freelancers, and two of the biggest financial regrets women say they have.

Are High-Deductible Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans Worth It?
Compare premiums to check whether high-deductible Medigap Plan G and Plan F could offer savings.

Are Older Workers a Solution to the Labor Shortage?
Older workers, a large segment of the U.S. labor force, can deliver valuable benefits to businesses of any size.

2022 Best Cities for Freelancers
The pandemic has created more opportunities for remote, self-directed and freelance work than ever.

Here are two of the biggest financial regrets women say they have — and what you can do to avoid them
Fidelity’s 2022 Money Moves survey polled women between the ages of 18 and 35.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Tweaking your tech settings to protect your privacy. Also in the news: What to do if there’s a mistake on your business taxes, how to avoid Zelle scams, and the cheapest U.S. cities with major airports to rent cars.

You Can Tweak Your Tech Settings to Protect Your Privacy
Making life difficult for Big Tech.

What to Do If There’s a Mistake on Your Business Taxes
Here’s what two small-business pros say small-business owners can do to cope with an error on a tax return.

How to Avoid Zelle Scams, Plus What to Do If You Can’t
Scams using Zelle and other peer-to-peer payment services are popular. Learn how to protect your money and what steps to take if you experience a scam.

The Cheapest U.S. Cities With Major Airports to Rent Cars
The difference in price from city to city and airport to airport can be stark. Where you rent matters.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Crypto could be coming to your 401(k). Also in the news: When it comes to your car contract, the devil is in the details, the Travel Nerd on what oil prices mean for your summer travel, and the majority of adults support mandatory personal finance education in schools.

Crypto May Be Coming to Your 401(k) — Here’s What to Know Now
You may soon have access to Bitcoin as an investment in your 401(k). But think about how you react to losses before jumping in.

When It Comes to Your Car Contract, the Devil Is in the Details
Avoid bogus fees and additional charges in your car contract by reading carefully before you sign.

Ask a Travel Nerd: What Do Oil Prices Mean for My Summer Travel?
Airfares are rising, car rentals will cost you. Maybe try a city with good public transit?

88% of adults support requiring personal finance education in high school, survey finds
Starting off on the right foot.

Tweak your tech settings to protect your privacy

So much of our sensitive personal data is being tracked and sold that trying to protect our privacy can seem like a pointless exercise.

We can disable the location tracking on phone apps only to find new apps stalking us the next time we check. We can turn off personalized advertising and still get bombarded by marketers that ignore our wishes. We can be fooled by language that’s designed to protect companies’ access to data rather than our privacy.

All this surveillance allows advertisers to manipulate us into spending more. People who are struggling financially can be targeted by predatory lenders and other seedy companies. If there’s a database breach, criminals can buy our information for just a few dollars and use it to impersonate or target us for various scams.

As individuals, we have limited ability to stop the prying. Meaningful action typically must come from regulators and lawmakers. In my latest for the Associated Press, what steps we can take to reclaim small but significant chunks of privacy and send a signal to companies that we don’t like what they’re up to.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How smart devices could save you money on home insurance. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on protecting your privacy and front-loading a 401(k), investing guides for parents, and how many movies you need to see to make a theater subscription pay off.

Smart-Home Devices Could Save You Money on Home Insurance
Smart-home devices provide not only comfort and convenience, but also potential insurance discounts.

Smart Money Podcast: Protecting Your Privacy, and Front-Loading a 401(k)
How to protect yourself from being tracked by websites and apps that want to use your personal data.

Investing for Parents: Save for Retirement, Avoid These Mistakes
Raising a child is expensive, but sacrificing your retirement savings could cost you more.

How Many Movies Do You Need to See to Make a Theater Subscription Pay Off?
We are living in a golden age of movie theater subscription services—here’s how each one compares.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Find out what big data says about you — and how to fix it. Also in the news: Part II of the Smart Money deep dive on student debt, why fixing the supply chain won’t cure homebuying woes, and 5 places where you can still get a decent meal for under $10.

Find Out What Big Data Says About You — and Fix It
Discovering and correcting mistakes is no small task.

Smart Money Podcast: Student Debt Cancellation Debate, Part 2
Would student loan cancellation liberate those crushed by debt, or is it a potentially ineffective political ploy?

The Property Line: Fixing Supply Chain Won’t Cure Homebuying Woes
Expect a modest and gradual increase in completed new homes when gaps in the supply chain are closed, not a flurry of new options.

Five Places You Can Still Get a Decent Meal for Under $10
Fast food is not as cheap as it once was—but there are still some good deals out there to be had.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 alternatives to Airbnb. Also in the news: The importance of used car inspections, small home fixes that have a big impact on safety, and how to not go broke at the ballpark this summer.

6 Alternatives to Airbnb for When You Want Other Options
The vacation rental giant may have a near stranglehold on the market, but there are other options.

Get a Used Car Inspection Before You Buy — or After
Getting your own inspection of the car you bought online can provide peace of mind about your purchase.

Small Home Fixes Can Have a Big Impact on Safety
The following fixes typically cost $200 or less.

How to Not Go Broke at the Ballpark This Summer
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack (so long as it doesn’t break the bank).

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Credit card debt has dropped, but inflation may change that. Also in the news: How to make summer 2022 travel plans that actually happen, how the end of the mask mandate could increase travel costs, and how much house you can get for $350K.

Credit Card Debt Has Dropped, But Inflation May Change That
Americans made big gains in paying off credit card debt over the past few years, but it may not last.

How to make summer 2022 travel plans that actually happen
After two years of cancellations, deferments and marathon sessions with airline customer service, many travelers are hoping to book summer trips that actually pan out this year.

Passengers cheered the end of masks on flights, but they won’t be cheering these prices
More people are taking to the skies than at any point since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it’s costing them more as a result.

Here’s How Much House You Can Buy for $350K
The median home price gets you a studio apartment in some cities and a mansion in others.

Find out and fix what big data says about you

I thought I knew all about the information that consumer reporting agencies were collecting on me. Then I discovered The Work Number — a database that reports every paycheck I’ve received from my company, with net and gross amounts, going back to my hire date six years ago.

Another consumer reporting agency shows the results of a 2016 echocardiogram. (It was normal.) Yet another tracks insurance claims on my home and car. If I’d made too many returns at retail stores or bounced a check at a casino, that could show up in a database as well.

“Any data point that someone can track, there’s going to be a bureau or someone gathering information and selling that information,” says Matthew Loker, a consumer protection attorney in Arroyo Grande, California.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to find and correct what big data says about you.