Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to make a student loan complaint that gets results. Also in the news: How to keep your spirits up in the long game of saving, how ex-offenders can rebuild with a bank account, and these airlines will let you change your flight for free because of Coronavirus.

How to Make a Student Loan Complaint That Gets Results
Effective complaints.

How to Keep Your Spirits Up in the Long Game of Saving
Sticking it out.

How Ex-Offenders Can Rebuild With a Bank Account
How to start over.

These Airlines Will Let You Change Your Flight for Free Because of Coronavirus
Don’t forget to wash your hands.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Concerned about Coronoavirus? How to prepare your house, mind and bank account. Also in the news: 3 ways Millennials are getting money right, what to buy (and skip) in March, and 6 moves to make if you’ve saved more than $1,000 in your checking account.

Concerned About Coronavirus? How to Prepare Your House, Mind and Bank Account
Practical steps.

3 Ways Millennials Are Getting Money Right
Forget the avocado toast trope.

What to Buy (and Skip) in March
Deep discounts on tax software.

If You’ve Saved More Than $1,000 in Your Checking Account, Make These 6 Moves
Don’t let it sit there.

Should you shift to a cash management account?

High-yield cash management accounts are popping up at brokerages nationwide, promising customers much better returns and higher insurance limits than they can get from traditional banks.

The accounts are a twist on the sweep accounts brokerages have long offered their customers, where idle cash is swept into a money market account or affiliated bank account so it can earn interest while waiting to be reinvested.

In my latest for the Associated Press, more on high-yield cash management accounts and how to decide if one is right for you.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How ex-offenders can rebuild with a bank account. Also in the news: Determining how much you should spend on rent, how to have a baby even if you’re worried you can’t afford it, and how to handle awkward financial conversations.

How Ex-Offenders Can Rebuild With a Bank Account
Starting over.

How Much Should I Spend on Rent?
How to determine what you really can afford.

How to have a baby, even if you’re worried you can’t afford it
Advice from new parents and financial experts.

How to handle that awkward financial conversation
When to swallow your pride.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When leasing a car is the more frugal option. Also in the news: How to actually achieve your debt payoff resolution, 5 basic features you should expect from your bank, and holiday debt could take years to pay off.

When Leasing a Car Is the More Frugal Option
Car buying has changed enough over the years that leasing may no longer be the costliest choice.

How to Actually Achieve Your Debt Payoff Resolution
Start the new year on the right foot.

5 Basic Features You Should Expect From Your Bank
Services you should expect.

Holiday debt could take years to pay off
Here come the bills.

Q&A: How deposit insurance limits work

Dear Liz: My parents, who are in their 80s, just moved and are about to sell their former home. Their net gain from the sale will be approximately $400,000. I am advocating they put this money in a high-yield savings account as capital preservation is key. I know an individual account is insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000. But if we set it up so they are joint account holders, would the FDIC insurance limit on that one account rise to $500,000?

Answer: Yes. The FDIC insures up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution and per ownership category. Ownership categories include single accounts, joint accounts, certain retirement accounts such as IRAs, revocable trust accounts and irrevocable trust accounts, among others. Each depositor in a joint savings account is covered up to $250,000, so a couple would have $500,000 of coverage.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Speedier payment systems could curb your costs. Also in the news: Black Friday vs. Prime Day: How they stack up, 5 signs an online loan is a debt trap, and everything you need to know about your 2020 taxes.

Speedier Payment Systems Could Curb Your Costs
Real-time payments could save Americans billions.

Black Friday vs. Prime Day: How They Stack Up
71% of Americans plan to shop on Black Friday.

5 Signs an Online Loan Is a Debt Trap
Look for the warning signs.

Here’s everything you need to know about your 2020 taxes
There’s a new tax code.

Speedier payment systems could curb your costs

Here’s an illustration of the many ways slow payment systems can inconvenience you and cost you money.

Let’s say Homer is two days from payday. The family checking account at First Bank of Springfield is on fumes. There’s just enough in the account, Homer thinks, to gas up his Plymouth sedan and buy Bart a Squishee at the Kwik-E-Mart.

But Marge checked the account balance too, and thought she could safely buy groceries. Because Homer and Marge didn’t realize they were spending the same money, one of the transactions triggers an overdraft fee. Plus, they forgot the power bill is due, and utility owner Mr. Burns charges a wicked late fee.

Homer hits up Lenny and Carl for a loan, but Lenny uses Venmo, Carl uses PayPal and Homer uses only Zelle. Lenny writes Homer a check, but it’s from National Bank of Springfield, so First Bank puts a hold on the deposit. Desperate, Marge breaks into Lisa’s piggy bank for money to pay the power bill, but has to pay a fee to “expedite” a same-day bill payment.

The animated “Simpsons” television show might use this scenario to get laughs, but it’s not funny for Americans who pay billions of dollars in overdraft charges and late fees , thanks in part to antiquated payment systems. The most vulnerable people turn to high-cost payday loans to bridge cash flow gaps, and some leave the banking system altogether because of high, unpredictable fees.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how a change at the Federal Reserve could speed up payments dramatically.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 cheaper alternatives to popular vacation spots. Also in the news: How credit unions fit in your financial life, how to prepare for an economic downturn, and the fee the IRS is waiving for more than 400,000 filers.

5 Cheaper Alternatives to Popular Vacation Spots
Save some money while still having a great trip.

How Credit Unions Fit in Your Financial Life
An alternative to traditional banking.

How to Prepare for an Economic Downturn
Don’t be caught off guard.

The IRS will waive this 2018 tax penalty for more than 400,000 filers
Waiving the underpayment fee.