Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What you need to know about working in retirement. Also in the news: 5 reasons to keep renting, how one couple paid off $33K of debt in 18 months, and how to opt of out Chase’s new binding arbitration rule.

What You Need to Know About Working in Retirement
Things to consider as you make your retirement plans.

5 reasons to keep renting
The flexibilities and amenities.

How I Ditched Debt: ‘It Made Our Marriage So Strong’
One couple’s story.

How to Opt Out of Chase’s New ‘Binding Arbitration’ Rule
You have until August 7th.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why your financial aid may plummet after freshman year. Also in the news: 3 tricks to help you shop less, how FICA tax and other withholding taxes work on your paycheck, and why you should plan to retire even if you don’t plan on retiring.

Why Your Financial Aid May Plummet After Freshman Year
Preparing yourself.

These 3 Tricks Can Help You Shop Less
Curbing an expensive habit.

How FICA Tax and Other Withholding Taxes Work on Your Paycheck
What they are and how you can change them.

Plan to Retire Even If You Don’t Plan to Retire
Plans have a way of changing.

Companies are also flunking retirement planning

Plenty has been written about American workers’ failure to plan adequately for retirement. Their employers seem to be doing an even worse job.

Only 1 in 10 large employers offers a formal phased-retirement program that lets workers cut back their hours or responsibilities before they quit work entirely, according to the 2018 Longer Working Careers Survey by professional services consultant Willis Towers Watson. Fewer than 1 in 3 of the companies surveyed offered their employees the option to work part time or switch to a less demanding job, according to the survey, which polled 143 large U.S. companies that employ 2.9 million people.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why more companies should offer formal phased retirement programs.

Q&A: Retirement planning needs expert help

Dear Liz: I am about to retire and have had to make some very important decisions: How should I receive my company pension, when should we start taking Social Security, should we convert some IRAs to Roths, how to best cover our healthcare needs and what the best ways are to manage our tax bill. I think we are OK and on track, but I worry about people who don’t have a college degree and who have not studied these issues trying to make similar decisions. I think it’s scary and we should do more to help people secure their retirement.

Answer: You’re quite right that retirement involves a number of complex choices, many of which are irreversible. It’s easy to make the wrong decisions, even if you do have a college degree and think you know what you’re doing.

Everyone approaching retirement should realize that they don’t know what they don’t know, and if possible seek out an expert, objective second opinion on their retirement plans to ensure they’re making the best possible choices.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: A look at the past three months of housing trends. Also in the news: A new app to help apply for financial aid, how to avoid magical thinking when it comes to retirement planning, and what to know about freezing and unfreezing your credit.

3 Months, 3 Housing Trends: Rates Rise, Prices Slow, Millennials Buy
What’s happening in housing.

Ready to Apply for College Aid? A New App’s on Tap
Financial aid at your fingertips.

Don’t Let Magical Thinking Jinx Retirement Planning
You’re not going to win the lottery.

What to Know About Freezing and Unfreezing Your Credit
Know the pros and cons.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Is Bitcoin safe? Also in the news: How to buy better gifts with credit card rewards, must-have tools and tips for year-end retirement planning, and smart money lessons for kids that can last a lifetime.

Is Bitcoin Safe?
A roundtable debate.

How to Buy Better Gifts With Credit Card Rewards
Using your rewards strategically.

Must-have tools and tips for year-end retirement planning
Getting on the right track.

Smart money lessons for kids that can last a lifetime

Q&A: How to figure out the right time for retirement

Dear Liz: I hear so much talk about waiting to collect Social Security. What are good reasons to start collecting Social Security at age 62? I recently retired from the military with a monthly retirement of $4,400. I plan to work a civilian job until I’m 62 (eight more years).

I’m in fairly good health now, but decades of military service and multiple deployments overseas put a lot of miles on my chassis. I truly hope I do, but I don’t know if I will live until I’m 80 or 90 years old.

Answer: None of us knows how much more time we have on this Earth. The primary reason for delaying Social Security is to decrease the odds of running short of money if we (or our spouses) happen to live a long time.

Think of it as a kind of longevity insurance because the longer you live, the more likely you are to use up your savings and to rely on your Social Security check for most, if not all, of your income. The wealthier you are — in savings and in pensions — the less important it may be to delay Social Security.

Your military pension provides a substantial monthly check and (presumably) survivor benefits for your spouse. These benefits will rise with inflation. You also have retiree health insurance at reasonable rates. You’re better off than most people approaching early retirement.

Still, your pension may not cover all your expenses and it’s not clear how much you have in other savings. Also, consider that your survivor would get about half (or less) of your pension check if you die first. So you may still want to hedge your bets by waiting at least until your full retirement age of 67 to start Social Security.

In addition to increasing your benefit, delaying to that age means you won’t be subject to the earnings test that can reduce your check by $1 for every $2 you earn over a certain limit (currently $17,040). You may think now that you’ll be ready to stop working at 62, but many early retirees find they miss the stimulation and social contact work provides.

Q&A: When considering retirement, money isn’t the only factor

Dear Liz: You answer many questions about whether people are ready to retire. But there’s one other thing to consider besides money, and this is more important.

Folks need to seriously ask themselves whether they can handle being retired. I know I can’t stand it.

I have more than enough assets, plus a pension, plus healthcare, plus no debts or bills. I’m young and healthy. But I find happiness in work.

Unfortunately, I had to leave my job owing to conditions outside of my control. I now live in a beautiful house at the beach, with all my money and all the things I like to do — and I’m miserable. I’m looking for a part-time job. I live in a small community and there aren’t many jobs, but I’m hopeful to find one.

Tell your readers that it’s not only the advice of a financial planner, but also some good soul-searching that they’ll need, especially if someone is a manager or a highly educated professional. You can’t just give that up and go from full time to no time. At least work part time before retiring to make sure it’s what you want.

Answer: That’s excellent advice. Not everyone derives meaning and purpose from work, but many do, and an abrupt adjustment can be painful. Good luck in your search for a job that gives you a reason to get up in the morning.

Retire right — plan to do it twice

There’s the retirement that looks like the commercials: biking, travel, enjoying the family.

And then there’s the one where you can’t get up the stairs anymore.

Most of us happily plan for the first, when our health is good and energy high. The second can be hard to contemplate, when health falters and medical crises can change lives in an instant.

Yet a focus on just the active part of retirement can shortchange your quality of life once you begin to decline, which is why financial advisers suggest you also look at how you’ll live in that later phase. In my latest for the Associated Press, what you should consider for that second stage.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to prepare financially for your death regardless of your age. Also in the news: The best industries for starting a business in 2017, how insurance companies use your driving record as a crystal ball, and 5 practical steps for creating a retirement backup plan.

How to Prepare Financially for Your Death (No Matter How Young You Are)
Making important decisions.

5 Best Industries for Starting a Business in 2017
Time to start working for yourself.

Your Driving Record: Insurance Companies’ Crystal Ball
Analyzing your behavior.

5 practical steps for creating a retirement backup plan
Always have a Plan B.