Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How young investors can prepare for the next recession. Also in the news: A new episode of SmartMoney podcast on family holiday travel, how to break free from your parents’ money patterns, and should you trust online shopping apps like Honey?

Is a Recession Coming? How Young Investors Can Prepare
Safeguarding your portfolio.

SmartMoney Podcast: ‘What Are Your Best Tips to Save on Family Holiday Travel?’
How to find the best deals.

How to Break Free of Your Parents’ Money Patterns
Creating your own financial legacy.

Should You Trust Online Shopping Apps Like Honey?
The discounts come at the expense of your privacy.

Q&A: A surprise pension creates investment concerns

Dear Liz: Before my husband died, I encouraged him to find out if he had a pension. He worked for his company for more than 10 years and was vested, but he didn’t think he qualified. A few months after he died, I found an unopened letter stating he would receive a pension after he reached his retirement date. I contacted the benefit plan service center and submitted the required documents. I now have two options for receiving the money as his beneficiary: a lump sum or a single-life annuity that would pay a monthly benefit for my lifetime only. The lump sum could be rolled over into an eligible employer plan or traditional IRA, neither of which I have, or paid directly to me, in which case the whole amount is taxable. I am 65 and my only income is his Social Security survivor benefit and a small pension from my company when I retired. So what is the best thing for me to do?

Answer: Thank goodness you found that letter. It’s unfortunate your husband didn’t understand that “vested” meant qualified to receive a pension.

You don’t have to have an employer plan or an existing IRA to keep the lump sum from being taxed right away. You can open an IRA for the sole purpose of receiving the rollover. A bank or brokerage can help you set this up.

Any withdrawals would be taxed, but you wouldn’t be required to start taking withdrawals until you turn 70½. Even then, you would be required to withdraw only a small portion each year (a little less than 4% to start). You can always take more if you want.

Your income is low enough that taxes shouldn’t be driving your decision. Instead, consider whether you’d rather be able to tap the money at will or have more guaranteed income for the rest of your life.

If you don’t have other savings, you may want to have this pool of money standing by to use for emergencies and other spending. On the other hand, an annuity is money that you don’t have to manage and that you can’t outlive or lose to fraud, bad investments or bad decisions. If you have enough emergency savings, adding more guaranteed income could help you live a bit more comfortably.

Q&A: Weighing investment choices

Dear Liz: I felt your advice about using an inherited IRA to pay off a mortgage was spot on, but I would add one suggestion. The person could use their required minimum distribution (or a little extra) from the inherited IRA each year to pay down the principal on the mortgage. Then they could see what the remaining loan balance is when they are approaching retirement in 10 years.

Answer: That could be a good alternative if being debt free is more important than maximizing their returns. Using just the distributions to pay down the mortgage would allow the bulk of the money to continue earning tax-free returns as long as possible, while reducing the mortgage balance over time.

The letter writer might do better financially by investing the distributions, but using them to pay down the mortgage could get them closer to their desired goal of being mortgage free.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to protect yourself after the Capital One data breach. Also in the news: Things to watch out for in the Equifax data breach settlement, why you need a midyear budget check-in, and how much you’ll need to invest each month in order to retire with a million dollars.

How to Protect Yourself After the Capital One Data Breach
Over 100,000,000 U.S. customers affected.

Equifax Data Breach Settlement: Scammers, Site Glitches, and Why You Won’t Get $125
Watch out for scammers.

Why You Need a Midyear Budget Check-In
Assessing where you’re at before the holidays.

How much you’ll need to invest each month to retire with a million dollars at age 20, 30, 40 and beyond
Charting your progress.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Logical credit moves that can lead to trouble. Also in the news: Investing is within Millennials’ reach, ditch the dealership with online used car sellers, and what you should know about the qualified small business stock tax exclusion.

5 ‘Logical’ Credit Moves That Can Lead to Trouble
Common sense doesn’t always work in your favor.

Take Heart, Millennials — Investing Is Within Your Reach
Just make sure your financial foundation is strong.

Ditch the Dealership With Online Used Car Sellers
Get in the driver’s seat from your couch.

If Your Compensation Package Includes Stock, You Should Know About This Tax Rule
The qualified small business stock exclusion.

Q&A: Investing books for beginners

Dear Liz: What are the best books for a beginning adult investor?

Answer:The Little Book of Common Sense Investing,” by the late John Bogle, is a terrific explanation of why low-cost index funds are the best choice for most people (a sentiment shared by legendary investor Warren Buffett, who also endorsed the book). If you want to venture beyond index funds, or even if you don’t, “Investing for Dummies” by Eric Tyson, “Investing 101” by Kathy Kristof and “Broke Millennial Takes on Investing” by Erin Lowry are other good reads.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 reasons to line up a loan before visiting a car dealer. Also in the news: 6 things to know about student loans before you start school, 5 tips to boost your credit card rewards, and why investor interest in CDs is rising.

5 Reasons to Line Up a Loan Before Visiting a Car Dealer
Protecting yourself from the finance department.

6 Things to Know About Student Loans Before You Start School
Important details.

Watch Your Credit Card Rewards Pile Up With These 5 Tips
Even more rewarding.

Why Investor Interest in CDs is Rising
Choosing the security of fixed-interest.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How your tax refund could improve your credit. Also in the news: 5 smart ways to invest your tax refund, how the Apple Card stacks up against the competition, and how moving between states could raise or lower your tax burden.

How your tax refund could improve your credit
Using your refund strategically.

5 Smart Ways to Invest Your Tax Refund
Your refund could help fund your future.

How the Apple Card Stacks up Against the Competition
Comparing features.

Will Moving Between States Raise or Lower Your Tax Burden?
Dramatic swings in both directions.





Tuesday’s need-to-know money news


Today’s top story: 5 empowering tips for women on Equal Pay Day. Also in the news: 5 smart ways to invest your tax refund, 7 ways to trim your taxes in retirement, and how changes to the ACA might affect your insurance premiums.

5 Empowering Tips for Women on Equal Pay Day
It’s time to bridge the gap.

5 Smart Ways to Invest Your Tax Refund
Putting it towards the future.

Taxes in Retirement: 7 Ways to Trim Your Bill
Making your retirement a little less stressful.

How Changes to the ACA Might Affect Your Insurance Premiums
Playing the waiting game.