Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 4 financial experts who could steer your wrong. Also in the news; More Americans are saving than ever before, though in unequal amounts, do’s and don’ts for planning your travel on points this year, and how to make debt less costly when you need it in a crisis.

4 Financial ‘Experts’ Who Could Steer You Wrong
Be cautious about taking advice from sources who care more about their profits than your financial health.

More Americans Are Saving Than Ever Before, Though in Unequal Amounts

Ask a Points Nerd: Should I Book Award Travel for 2021?
Here are some do’s and don’ts for planning your travel on points this year.

How to Make Debt Less Costly When You Need It in a Crisis
Americans have taken on more debt as the pandemic brought widespread job and income losses, according to a survey.

Q&A: What to do with sudden savings

Dear Liz: A few months ago we took out a jumbo loan on our residence, using the excess to pay off the mortgage on an investment property. The interest savings is substantial and our monthly payment is much less than the combined two payments we had before. We never had any problem making the two payments. Is it a good idea to put the monthly savings toward the principal? Our daughter will inherit the residence and all our income-producing properties. She has a sporadic employment history and I’m concerned she would not qualify to assume the jumbo loan if she wants to keep the residence.

Answer: Most people have better uses for their money than paying down a low-rate, potentially tax deductible debt. Your case may be one of the exceptions, or it may not.

The first step may be to ask whether she’s planning to keep the home. If she isn’t, then you needn’t worry about the loan — it will be paid off when she sells the property.

If she is planning to keep it, she could sell one or more of the other properties to pay off the loan. (These sales typically wouldn’t generate much if any taxable gains, since the properties get new fair market values when she inherits them.)

If you want to avoid her having to sell anything, then making extra principal payments can be a good plan as long as you don’t have any other debt and have an adequate emergency fund. You may want to consider a backup plan in case you die before the loan is paid off, such as a term life insurance policy (assuming you can qualify).

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Tonight’s top story: 3 ways minority-owned banks make a difference in America. Also in the news: How much interest you can earn on $100, $1000, or $10,000, 10 money insights from 25 years of financial writing, and get guaranteed price matching at these retailers for your holiday shopping.

3 Ways Minority-Owned Banks Make a Difference in America
Equal opportunities matter.

How Much Interest Can I Earn on $100, $1K or $10K?
A look at the options.

10 Money Insights From 25 Years of Financial Writing
How we use and think about money — not simply accumulating lots of it — literally can determine our happiness while we’re alive.

Get Guaranteed Price Matching at These Retailers for Your Holiday Shopping
Make your shopping a little easier.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When life blows up your well-laid plans. Also in the news: How to shop Black Friday deals online, 5 things to consider when shopping for index funds, and how much you should have in your 401(k), based on your age.

When Life Blows Up Your Well-Laid Plans
A sudden change in your financial security can trigger a wealth of reactions, including grief and disorientation.

How to Shop Black Friday Deals Online
Smart Black Friday shopping begins with planning.

5 Things to Consider When Shopping for Index Funds
Index funds are a set-it-and-forget-it investment perfect for beginners, but it helps to know what to look for.

How Much You Should Have in Your 401(k), Based on Your Age?
The right amount at every stage.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Should I pay for my hotel using cash, points or both? Also in the news: A new episode of the SmartMoney podcast on fake reviews and saving too much, 5 travel writers draft their favorite airlines, and where to get relief if there isn’t a second stimulus check.

Should I Pay for My Hotel Using Cash, Points or Both?
Here’s how you can figure out which booking option offers the best value.

Smart Money Podcast: Fake Reviews and Saving ‘Too Much’
How to tell if that review is sincere.

5 Travel Writers ‘Draft’ Their Favorite Airlines
In the spirit of the popular sports-related pastime, we’ve created our own fantasy airline draft.

Where to Get Relief if There Isn’t a Second Stimulus Check
Look for aid locally.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Credit score drop? How to diagnose why and what to do next. Also in the news: Put off debt payments to start saving now, going contactless as a way to pay safer, and many unemployed people aren’t aware of all the relief they may qualify for during the pandemic.

Credit Score Drop? How to Diagnose Why, and What to Do Next
If you got a payment modification and saw a score drop, it’s tempting to think they’re related. They may not be.

Put Off Debt Payments to Start Saving Now
In uncertain times, it makes sense to prioritize building a cash reserve over paying down debt balances.

Looking for Safer Ways to Pay? Go Contactless
Contactless payments like mobile wallets, P2P apps and tap-to-pay cards are easy to use and help lessen risk of contagion.

Many unemployed people aren’t aware of all the relief they may qualify for during the pandemic
Take a look at what’s available.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to make a student loan complaint that gets results. Also in the news: How to keep your spirits up in the long game of saving, how ex-offenders can rebuild with a bank account, and these airlines will let you change your flight for free because of Coronavirus.

How to Make a Student Loan Complaint That Gets Results
Effective complaints.

How to Keep Your Spirits Up in the Long Game of Saving
Sticking it out.

How Ex-Offenders Can Rebuild With a Bank Account
How to start over.

These Airlines Will Let You Change Your Flight for Free Because of Coronavirus
Don’t forget to wash your hands.

Should you shift to a cash management account?

High-yield cash management accounts are popping up at brokerages nationwide, promising customers much better returns and higher insurance limits than they can get from traditional banks.

The accounts are a twist on the sweep accounts brokerages have long offered their customers, where idle cash is swept into a money market account or affiliated bank account so it can earn interest while waiting to be reinvested.

In my latest for the Associated Press, more on high-yield cash management accounts and how to decide if one is right for you.

How employers help workers save for rainy days

Everyone needs a rainy-day fund — your financial health depends on it. Your employer could help you build one.

Many companies offer 401(k)s and other retirement plans, but until recently few had programs to promote short-term savings. That’s starting to change, as employers experiment with matching funds, payroll deductions and other methods to encourage workers to build emergency funds.

In my latest for the Associated Press, see why employer-sponsored emergency savings accounts are beginning to gain traction.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What is a wealth tax and how does it work? Also in the news: Capital One rewards will soon be redeemable on Amazon.com, are TV’s really a good deal on Black Friday, and ways to avoid taking this season’s holiday debt into the next.

What Is a Wealth Tax and How Does It Work?
Looking at the difference between a person’s assets and liabilities.

Capital One Rewards Will Soon Be Redeemable Via Amazon.com
Just in time for the holidays.

Are TVs really a good deal on Black Friday?
Go big or stay home.

Ways To Avoid Taking This Season’s Holiday Debt Into The New Year
A few ways to save.