Common tools can save you time, money on taxes

Receipts, like memories, tend to fade with time. That’s just one reason to digitize and track tax-related information. The right apps and habits can save space, time, money and hassle — but only if you use them.

“Apps should make things easier, not more complicated,” says Clare Levison, a certified public accountant in Blacksburg, Virginia. “The definition of a good app is what works for you, not the one that’s the trendiest.”

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to use the tools you already have to make your life easier come tax time.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to finally tackle tough money tasks. Also in the news: It’s now easier than ever for your boss to pay your student loans, 6 Black financial pros to follow in 2021, and 3 budgets apps for couples who want to align on money.

How to Finally Tackle Tough Money Tasks
Completing financial tasks can be intimidating, but breaking big goals into small, manageable actions makes it easier to whittle down your to-do list.

It’s Now Easier Than Ever for Your Boss to Pay Your Student Loans
Your employer can pay down your student loans, tax-free.

6 Black Financial Pros to Follow in 2021
Financial experts offer their thoughts about the banking industry, and new money goals after 2020.

3 Budget Apps for Couples Who Want to Align on Money
Finding the romance in finance.

Can you trust your mobile payment app?

Money transfer apps including Venmo, Cash App and PayPal have surged in popularity during the pandemic as people seek safe, contactless ways to send and receive money. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the limitations of these payment platforms or how they can put someone’s finances at risk.

Like over-the-counter medicines, payment apps can be safe when used as directed — but people often don’t read the directions, says James E. Lee, chief operating officer for the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides victim assistance and public education about identity theft.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to make sure you’re using the right one.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 do’s and don’ts when saving money during a crisis. Also in the news: Cash accounts and apps to buddy up with your investments, a new episode of the SmartMoney podcast on preparing your money for a recession, and the relief period on your federally backed mortgage was just extended.

6 Do’s and Don’ts When Saving Money During a Crisis
Saving may be harder, but it’s worth it.

Cash Accounts and Apps to Buddy Up With Your Investments
Investing at your fingertips.

SmartMoney Podcast: Prepping Your Money for a Recession, What to Do with a $10,000 Inheritance
Preparing your money for the tough times ahead.

The Relief Period on Your Federally Backed Mortgage Just Got Extended
You now have until August 31st.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Apps that encourage you to spend. Also in the news: Advice for weaning your grown kids off your credit cards, why some people don’t mind overpaying the IRS, and how to protect yourself from falling interest rates.

These Types of Apps Could Prompt Impromptu Spending
You don’t need extra help spending money.

Advice for weaning your grown kids off your credit cards
Time to cut them loose.

Here’s why these people don’t mind overpaying the IRS
Yes, you read that correctly.

How to Protect Your Savings From Falling Interest Rates
A few options.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Green Dot launches 3% cash back and savings account. Also in the news: Apps that could prompt impromptu spending, how to avoid lifestyle creep, and how to financially plan for having kids.

Green Dot Launches 3% Cash Back and Savings Account
A new offering from Green Dot.

These Types of Apps Could Prompt Impromptu Spending
You don’t need any help spending money.

Don’t Let Lifestyle Creep Sneak Up on You
Staying in your lifestyle lane.

How to Financially Plan for Having Kids
They’re both cute and costly.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How student loan default can gut your paycheck. Also in the news: Changing your screen habits from time-wasting to money-saving, 5 tips for cutting the cost of having your taxes done, and what to do about a surprise student loan bill.

How Student Loan Default Can Gut Your Paycheck
Avoiding wage garnishment.

Change Your Screen Habits From Time-Wasting to Money-Saving
Using your apps to be more productive.

5 Tips for Cutting the Cost of Having Your Taxes Done
Free help could be available.

What to Do About a Surprise Student Loan Bill
Don’t ignore the mail.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: A look at the past three months of housing trends. Also in the news: A new app to help apply for financial aid, how to avoid magical thinking when it comes to retirement planning, and what to know about freezing and unfreezing your credit.

3 Months, 3 Housing Trends: Rates Rise, Prices Slow, Millennials Buy
What’s happening in housing.

Ready to Apply for College Aid? A New App’s on Tap
Financial aid at your fingertips.

Don’t Let Magical Thinking Jinx Retirement Planning
You’re not going to win the lottery.

What to Know About Freezing and Unfreezing Your Credit
Know the pros and cons.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to know before saying yes to an online wedding dress. Also in the news: Using your tax return to map out a better financial future, 8 ways to get cheap movie tickets, and how to take advantage of financial technology.

What to Know Before Saying ‘Yes’ to an Online Wedding Dress
There are bargains to be had but proceed with caution.

Use Your Tax Return to Map Out a Better Financial Future
Look for weak spots that could use improvement.

8 Ways to Get Cheap Movie Tickets
A great way to cool off this summer.

How to Take Advantage of Financial Technology
Apps to help make handling money easier.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t let technology bully you into tipping. Also in the news: 4 things that could make you the target of an audit, how lending a hand by co-signing a loan can backfire, and 7 smart ways to spend a $1,000 tax refund.

Don’t Let Technology Bully You Into Tipping
You decide how much.

4 Things That Could Make You a Target for a Tax Audit
Freelancers especially.

Lending a Hand by Co-Signing a Loan Can Backfire
Good intentions can lead to bad trouble.

7 Smart Ways to Spend a $1,000 Tax Refund
How to spend your windfall.