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.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Flying is likely the cheapest option for spring and summer trips. Also in the news: 8 tactics to break credit card debt cycles, dealing with bank mergers, and negotiating COVID-19 medical bills.

Flying is likely cheapest option for spring, summer trips
According to NerdWallet travel writer Sally French, despite the feeling that everything is more expensive these days, traveling by airplane is actually cheaper on average than it was before the pandemic.

8 tactics to break credit card debt cycles
Take a deep look at your credit card relationship.

If your bank merges, should you shop around or stay put?
How to handle changes with your bank.

Can You Negotiate Your COVID-19 Hospital Bills?
Insurance companies have stopped waiving COVID-19 treatment costs, but there are ways to appeal a huge medical bill.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 tasks for new retirees that will pay off later. Also in the news: Credit card interest vs. buy now, pay later, forget the fed, pay off your credit card debt, and cities where it’s cheaper to buy than rent.

3 Tasks for New Retirees That Will Pay Off Later
Taking care of one more to-do list early on can set you up for a better retirement.

Credit Card Interest vs. Buy Now, Pay Later: Which Is Better for My Budget?
Key differences, like how rates are calculated and how much debt you can take on, are crucial to consider when weighing each financing option.

Forget the Fed, Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt is always expensive, no matter what interest rate changes the Federal Reserve makes.

It’s Cheaper to Buy a House Than Rent in These Cities
Purchase prices and rents are skyrocketing, but there are areas where homeownership isn’t entirely out of reach.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When it’s OK to let your good credit score drop. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on crypto credit cards and short-term investing, why balance transfer cards are starting to make a comeback, and how a 24-year-old crushed $20K+ in credit card debt.

When It’s OK to Let Your Good Credit Score Drop
Don’t let possible score damage stop you from putting your credit to use in an emergency or to grab an opportunity.

Smart Money Podcast: Crypto Credit Cards and Short-Term Investing
A look at the best funds for short-term investing.

Why Balance Transfer Credit Cards Are Starting to Blossom Again
As the economy recovers from the effects of COVID-19, credit card issuers are bringing back these offers. Here’s where to find them.

She Crushed $20K+ in Credit Card Debt at Age 24
Annika Hudak’s road map included reviewing expenses, using balance transfers and tracking her progress.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What free college might actually look like. Also in the news: How to get rid of credit card debt by opening another card, how to fix credit report errors, and how to figure out the size of your next stimulus check.

What Free College Might Actually Look Like
Separating fact from fiction.

One Way to Zap Credit Card Debt? Open Another Credit Card
Yes, getting a balance transfer credit card means yet another piece of plastic — only this kind may let you pay down debt over time at 0% interest.

Your Credit Report May Be Wrong — Here’s What to Do About It
Complaints about credit report issues surged in 2020. Here’s how to verify the data that makes up your credit score.

Figure Out the Size of Your Next Stimulus Check With These Calculators
See what you’ll get in the next round of checks.

Q&A: How much debt can you afford to pay each month? Put it in perspective

Dear Liz: I’m paying down credit card debts. At what ratio of debt to income would you consider my personal finances healthy?

Answer: The healthiest level of credit card debt is none. Credit card interest rates tend to be high and variable, which makes this kind of debt toxic to your financial health. Congratulations for making progress on getting rid of yours.

There are a number of measures you can use to judge whether an appropriate amount of your monthly income goes to debt payments. Among the most common:

◆ Traditionally, mortgage lenders preferred home loan payments to be 28% or less of your gross monthly income and total debt payments, including mortgage, to be 36% or less.

◆ Debt payments, including mortgages, that exceed 40% of gross monthly can be an indication of financial distress, according to the Federal Reserve.

◆ Under the 50/30/20 budget, all your must-have expenses — including housing, utilities, transportation, insurance and minimum loan payments — would be 50% or less of your after-tax income (your gross income minus income and payroll taxes). That leaves 30% for wants and 20% for savings and extra payments on debt. If a loan payment fits under the 50% limit with all your other must-haves, then it may be considered affordable.

You typically don’t need to rush to pay off lower-rate, potentially tax-deductible debt such as mortgages or student loans. Still, you’ll probably want to have all your debts paid off by retirement so you aren’t draining your nest egg to make the payments.

Speaking of retirement, are you saving enough for that goal? Do you have a sufficient emergency fund? Are you adequately insured? Are you able to enjoy your life without excessive stress about money? Financial health includes all those components in addition to paying down debt.

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: Choosing the right vehicle for your off-road adventures. Also in the news: Why a new fee shouldn’t stop you from refinancing your mortgage, what to do when you’ve paid off your credit card debt, and how to manage any credit card debt you may have racked up the last few months.

Choose the Right Vehicle for Your Off-Road Adventures
A versatile SUV can take you almost anywhere, but prepare for trade-offs the farther you venture off-road.

The Property Line: Don’t Let New Fee Stop You From Refinancing
Millions of homeowners could still benefit from refinancing their mortgages to get a lower interest rate.

You paid off all of your credit card debt—what to do next?
Don’t cut up those cards just yet.

How to manage any credit card debt you may have racked up the last few months
Talk to your lenders.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 ways to skip your bank’s long phone lines. Also in the news: Keeping your credit in shape, even if you don’t have debt and don’t plan to borrow, 25 ways to save yourself from your debt disaster, and how to set up a 60/40 budget.

3 Ways to Skip Your Bank’s Long Phone Lines
When phone wait times are long, try to reach your bank via live chat, Twitter or message instead.

Keep your credit in shape, even if you don’t have debt and don’t plan to borrow
Good credit is important year-round.

25 Ways To Save Yourself From Your Debt Disaster
Climbing out of the debt hole.

How to Set Up a 60/40 Budget
Focus on two buckets.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 credit card rules you can break in an emergency. Also in the news: How Gen X can start tackling its credit card debt, 6 tips to help your portfolio weather the coronavirus crash, and how to prep for and spend your government relief check.

7 Credit Card ‘Rules’ You Can Break in an Emergency
Times are different.

How Gen X Can Start Tackling Its Credit Card Debt
Don’t put it off any longer.

6 Tips to Help Your Portfolio Weather the Coronavirus Crash
Slow and steady.

How to Prep for and Spend Your Government Relief Check
Getting the most from your check.