Thursday’s need-to-know money news

teen-creditToday’s top story: The retirement age for millennials is increasing. Also in the news: The pros and cons of delaying your social security benefits, how to avoid buyer’s remorse, and at what age should a teenager start building credit?

Five Retirement Warning Signs for Millennials
Recent college grads may not be able to retire until age 73.

Social Security At Age 62? Why Delaying Your Benefits May Not Pay Off
Your mileage may vary, of course.

How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse
From handbags to homes.

Are your kids old enough to start building credit?
Should old enough to vote also mean old enough to charge?

This is one Social Security document you don’t want to toss
The return of the paper benefit statement.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Happy New Year!

Today’s top story: How to start 2014 on the right financial foot. Also in the news: A millennial’s guide to personal finance, ways to cut taxes while saving for retirement, and apps that will help you reach your financial goals for the new year.smartphones_finance

7 Tips to Get Your New Year’s Money Resolution Started Off Right
You’re going to want to stick to these.

The Millennial’s Guide to Personal Finance
Time to start taking your finances seriously.

3 ways to cut taxes while saving for retirement
Paying attention to your tax bracket.

5 Apps to Help Keep Your 2014 Financial Goals
Track your finances in between rounds of Candy Crush.

How Inflation Will Cut Your Taxes in 2014
New year, new adjustments.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Financial tips that should be ignored. Also in the news: Lessons from Millennials, questions to ask about your health-care costs during retirement, and learning the basics of the 401(k). Hope

5 Financial Tips That Can Lead You Astray
Tips that belong on the Do Not Follow list.

20 Lessons We Can Learn From 20-Year-Olds
From the mouths of Millennials.

4 Questions to Ask About Your Health-Care Costs in Retirement
What you must ask while planning your retirement.

401(k)s Made Easy: The 7 Things You Really Need to Know
401(k) basics explained.

It’s Time to Start Tracking Every Single Dollar You Spend
That dollar you used yesterday to buy a losing lottery ticket? Track it.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Essential tips for navigating Obamacare. Also in the news: How to boost Millennials’ retirement savings, when couples should separate their finances, and how to monitor your credit after a data breach. Hope

10 Essential Tips for Navigating Obamacare
How to find your way through the Affordable Care Act maze.

The Obamacare Trick Early Retirees Should Know
Subsidies could be a game changer for early retirees.

Two Surest Ways to Boost Millennials’ Retirement Savings
Teaching Millennials’ the importance of planning ahead.

Video: When Should Couples Separate Their Finances?
Navigating personal finances with your spouse.

How to Monitor Your Credit After a Data Breach
Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.

Why millennials have to be smarter than their parents

Help at financial crisisNerdWallet recently published a fascinating study contending that high debt loads will prevent today’s college graduates from retiring before age 73. I have a few nitpicks with the study, but the underlying message is clear: millennials will have to be a lot smarter than previous generations if they want a decent, on-time retirement.

First, my nitpicks.  NerdWallet contends the current average retirement age is 61. It’s actual 62 for women and 64 for men, according to the most recent research by Alicia Munnell, director of the influential Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. (Munnell authored another interesting brief showing that the “real” Social Security retirement age is now 70, which gives people the same expected length of retirement they had back in 1940. Furthermore, an argument could be made to move it to 73 for millennials, who will live even longer than Boomers. I won’t make that argument, though, since I wouldn’t have to wait that long…I’m sure most others wouldn’t, either.)

The NerdWallet study also assumes that paying off student loans inevitably will prevent millennials from making significant contributions to their retirement funds for the first 10 years of their careers—years when they would get the most benefit from retirement contributions. Thanks to the miracle of compounding, $1,000 contributed to a retirement account can grow to $20,000 or more by retirement age. Wait 10 years to contribute that first $1,000, and your growth is cut by half, to $10,000.

So here’s what millennials should know:

Retirement contributions can’t wait. Retirement really has to be your top priority from the time you get your first paycheck. You can’t get back lost opportunities to save and nothing—including debt repayment—is more important than this.

Don’t be in a rush to pay back student loans. Federal student loans, especially, are flexible debt with a ton of consumer protections. If you can’t pay your student loans and contribute to a retirement fund, then consolidate your loans to a longer payback period so that you can put some money away for tomorrow. Yes, you’ll pay more interest on your loans, but that cost will be swamped by the growth of your retirement accounts once you factor in the tax breaks and compounding you’ll get. If you have a company match, the calculation’s even more of a slam dunk.

Get a better 401(k). Beggars can’t be choosers, and many millennials will have to take what they can get in this very tough job market. As they build their skills and networks, though, they should start looking for positions with companies that offer good 401(k)s with generous matches. In the meantime, they should contribute to any workplace plan that’s offered. No plan? Set up an IRA with automatic transfers to fund it. You’ve got to find a way to save if you want to quit work someday.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

RelationshipToday’s top story: Why Millennials may not be able to retire until their 70s. Also in the news:How to avoid cell phone bill surprises, the pros and cons of taking social security early, and how to calculate if you can refinance your home.

Millennials May Not Be Able To Retire Until Age 73
Crippling student debt could force Millennials to work an extra decade.

How to Avoid Cellphone Gotchas
Don’t let your cellphone become a money pit.

What age is best to start taking Social Security?
The pros and cons of taking social security early.

End-of-Year Tax Planning Tips
It’s never too early to start getting your taxes in order.

How to Figure Out If You Can Refinance Your Home
Two simple ways to calculate refinancing options.