Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to navigate your most dangerous decade. Also in the news: 5 questions to ask before you share a credit card, how to use your tax refund to polish your credit, and how to save on your cell phone bill without a family plan.

How to Navigate Your Most Dangerous Decade
Your fifties can be daunting.

5 Questions to Ask Before You Share a Credit Card
Preventing future disagreements.

How to Use Your Tax Refund to Polish Your Credit
Giving your credit a little boost.

How to Save on Your Cell Phone Bill Without a Family Plan
Discounts aren’t just for families.

How to navigate your most dangerous decade

Losing a job is almost always traumatic. In your 50s, job loss can be devastating — and devastatingly common.

More than half the workers who entered their 50s with stable, full-time jobs were laid off or pushed out at least once by age 65, according to an analysis of employment data from 1990 to 2016 by the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica and the Urban Institute, a nonprofit think tank. Only 10% of those who lost a job ever found another that paid as much, and most never recovered financially.

Such concerns may seem remote in a booming economy, when the official unemployment rate is 3.5% overall and just 2.4% for those 55 and over. But recessions are inevitable, and even in good times older workers can be more vulnerable to involuntary job loss because of age discrimination.

In my latest for the Associated Press, the importance of having a plan to navigate what could be your most dangerous decade.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to find your financial footing after losing your job. Also in the news: A new SmartMoney podcast episode on Black Friday, apps to help with your holiday shopping, and how not to get phished when shopping online.

You Lost Your Job? Here’s How to Find Your Financial Footing
Bouncing back.

SmartMoney Podcast: ‘Does Black Friday Live Up to the Hype?’
Are the crazy lines worth it?

Apps to help with your holiday shopping
From lists to discounts.

How to Not Get Phished When Shopping Online
Scams are increasingly sophisticated.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

downloadToday’s top story: How a secured credit card could help you build your credit. Also in the news: Generations X and Y race to prepare for retirement, how to handle your debt when you’ve lost your job, and an identity theft reveals how he empties your bank account.

The Best Secured Credit Cards in America
How to build or improve your credit.

Gen X Vs. Gen Y: How Retirement Ready Is Each Generation?
Which generation is best prepared for retirement?

What to Do About Debt When You’ve Lost Your Job
You cannot ignore it.

An Identity Thief Explains the Art of Emptying Your Bank Account
It’s shockingly easy.

4 phone calls that can save you a ton of money
Savings are just a phone call away.

Starting over in your 50s, and other curveballs

Man Seeking EmploymentLosing a job late in life can be devastating, and rebuilding can be tough. Here’s how writer Teresa Mears puts it:

Americans in their 50s and 60s, who expected to be at the peak of their careers before retirement, are finding themselves playing catch-up. While they may never get back the lives they had before, there are steps they can take to improve their retirement prospects.

Jean Chatzky and I offer advice about those steps in “10 ways to get your retirement plan back on track.”

Job losses can have another side effect, besides derailing your retirement: they also can derail your credit scores. I talked to Kelley Holland for CNBC about why that matters and what you can do about it in “What your poor credit rating is costing you.”

I also discusses debt for a series of interviews with Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner, including “Debt is Not Just a Four-Letter Word,” “What Every Buyer ‘Auto” Know about Car Loans” and “You Don’t Want to Overdose on Student Loan Debt.”

Speaking of student loan debt, there are ways to erase some of your federal education loans—but too many people don’t know what they are. Read more in “5 ways do-gooders can erase student loan debt.”

My other recent education columns for Reuters including “Debunking the myth of college rejection rates,”  “3 ways to fix financial aid form flaws” and “That break from college? Stopping out leads to dropping out.”