Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Here’s what bad financial advice can cost you. Also in the news: VA home loan limits disappear, fees rise, FAFSA and the military draft, and key questions to ask before buying that annuity.

Here’s What Bad Financial Advice Costs You
Don’t make someone else rich at your expense.

VA Home Loan Limits Disappear, Fees Rise
Changes to the program.

Will the FAFSA Get Me Drafted Into the Military?
Separating truth from fiction.

These are the key questions to ask before buying that annuity
What you need to know before signing on the dotted line.

Here’s what bad financial advice costs you

Good financial advice leaves you better off. Bad advice does the opposite, and may even enrich someone else at your expense.

In my latest for the Associated Press, some areas where you need to be particularly careful to seek out good advice, since bad advice can be so costly.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to give money advice that sticks. Also in the news: 3 steps to spring clean your credit card debt, how to research 401(k) funds on Morningstar, and using a loan to pay your tax bill.

How to Give Money Advice That Sticks
Focus on what you say and how you say it.

3 Steps to Spring-Clean Your Credit Card Debt
Scrub that debt away.

How to Research 401(k) Funds on Morningstar
Navigating the investment research company.

Should You Use a Loan to Pay Your Tax Bill?
Check the interest first.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 tips for finding the best mortgage lenders. Also in the news: 8 warning signs you won’t finish college, the best financial advice at every age, and how to make your finances more flexible before the next recession.

5 Tips for Finding the Best Mortgage Lenders

8 warning signs you won’t finish college
All of the debt without the degree.

The Best Financial Advice at Every Age
Money moves by the decade.

How to Make Your Finances More Flexible Before the Next Recession
Knowing what to prioritize.

How to give money advice that sticks

Unsolicited money advice is like stale fruitcake: Most people wish the givers would just keep it to themselves.

Still, those who are “good with money” often want to help friends and family who struggle. Many of us remember the timely money tip that made all the difference: when a co-worker suggested we contribute to the company’s 401(k), for example, or that time a relative warned us off an investment that really was too good to be true.

In my latest for the Associated Press, I turned to neuropsychologist and executive coach Moira Somers, author of “Advice That Sticks: How to Give Financial Advice That People Will Follow.” Her book was written for financial planners, but the techniques she suggests, backed by behavioral finance research, could be helpful for anyone who wants to give effective money counsel.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The best financial advice at any age. Also in the news: What you can do about gender-based hikes for car insurance, trading privacy for car insurance discounts, and how to decide what to splurge on.

The Best Financial Advice at Every Age
The best financial moves to make by decade.

What You Can Do About Gender-Based Rate Hikes for Car Insurance
Older women often pay more.

Should You Give Up Privacy for Car Insurance Discounts?
The new trend of usage-based insurance.

How to Decide What to Splurge On
Treat yourself.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to know if paying for money advice is paying off. Also in the news: 5 inconvenient truths about real estate agents, the 10 fastest-growing metro areas, and Millennials are loading up on personal loans.

How to Know If Paying for Money Advice Is Paying Off
Calculating your return on investment.

5 Inconvenient Truths About Real Estate Agents
What to know before hiring one.

Home Affordability Watch: The 10 Fastest-Growing Metro Areas
The 10 fastest-growing metro areas, ranked from most to least affordable.

Not just student loans: Millennials are also loading up on this kind of debt
Personal loans are a favorite of this generation.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 12 freebies and deals for Tax Day 2018. Also in the news: 3 ways parents can help grown kids own a home, why your parents’ financial advice is probably wrong (for you), and what you should know about getting an advance on your tax refund.

12 Freebies and Deals for Tax Day 2018
A little something to ease the pain.

3 Ways Parents Can Help Grown Kids Own a Home
Ground rules are important.

Your Parents’ Financial Advice Is Probably Wrong (for You)
However well-intentioned.

Thinking about getting an advance on your tax refund? Here’s what you should know
Watch for hidden fees.

Q&A: You need a planner for personalized advice

Dear Liz: I have five questions. I have enclosed five sheets of paper with each question printed at the top. Please feel free to simply write your advice on each page, and then insert them into the addressed and stamped envelope I have enclosed. This is my attempt to make it easy for you to respond.

Answer: Thank you, but it’s not the lack of paper or a stamp that prevents columnists from replying to private inquiries. Questions of general interest may be answered here, but you’ll need to seek out a financial advisor for personalized advice.

You have many options for finding fiduciary, fee-only advisors. Fee-only advisors accept fees only from clients rather than accepting commissions or other compensation based on products the advisors recommend. Fiduciaries are advisors who promise to put clients’ best interests first. The following organizations can connect you to fee-only advisors who are fiduciaries:

—The National Assn. of Personal Financial Advisors. NAPFA advisors must be certified financial planners (CFPs). Many NAPFA planners charge a percentage of the assets they manage (called an “assets under management” or AUM fee) and have minimum asset requirements, although some charge hourly or retainer fees. A typical fee is around 1% of assets under management.

—XY Planning Network. Advisors must be CFPs and offer the option of flat monthly fees, although they may offer other arrangements including hourly or AUM fees. Monthly fees are typically $100 to $200, with some planners charging an initial fee of $1,000 to $2,000.

—The Garrett Planning Network. Planners must be CFPs or on track to get the designation, or CPAs who have the personal financial specialist (PFS) credential. Hourly fees usually range from $150 to $300.

—Assn. for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. This group offers two credentials for advisors: accredited financial counselor (AFC) and financial fitness coach (FFC). Both focus on helping middle- and lower-income people get a handle on the basics, including budgeting, debt management and retirement planning. Counselors work with clients in financial crisis or who need help with spending plans, eliminating debt, building savings and improving financial stability, said Rebecca Wiggins, the association’s executive director. Coaches focus more on helping clients understand how effective money management can help them achieve life goals, with a focus on changing financial behavior using goal setting, accountability and monitoring, Wiggins says. Many counselors and coaches work for the military, credit unions or other organizations and offer their services free or at reduced cost. Coaches and counselors who have private practices typically charge $100 to $150, but many work on a sliding scale.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 blunders to avoid when doing your own taxes. Also in the news: What to do if your W-2 is missing, 6 key investing concepts, and why there’s no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to money.

Doing Your Own Taxes? Pros Say Avoid These 4 Blunders
Getting it right the first time.

What to Do If Your W-2 Is MIA
You have options.

6 Investing Key Concepts — in Plain English
Understanding the basics.

Don’t Let the Fear of Looking Stupid Lead to Money Mistakes
There’s no such thing as a dumb question.