Feel out of control? These money moves can help

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely and his colleagues at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight have a pact. Every week, the group of 50 people picks one small business in Durham, North Carolina, and each person spends $100 there.

A one-time $5,000 infusion wouldn’t make a difference to Amazon, Costco or any other large retailer, but it could be enough to keep a local business afloat, Ariely says. Taking this action helps the group feel that they’re making a difference when so much of the world seems out of control.

“This is, to a large degree, a crisis of Main Street,” says Ariely, the bestselling author of books including “Predictably Irrational.” “We’re taking a retailer and we’re saying, ‘We’re giving you a little bit of breathing room.’”

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to wrest back control from the unpredictability of the pandemic.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Alter your buying habits in 2020 and keep the change. Also in the news: When the gift of giving brings a tax on receiving, student loan forgiveness and taxes, and 7 alternatives to costly payday loans.

Alter Your Buying Habits in 2020, and Keep the Change
Cutting back on impulse buying.

When the Gift of Giving Brings a Tax on Receiving
Understanding the gift tax.

Should You Worry About a ‘Student Loan Forgiveness Tax Bomb’?
Forgiveness comes at a price.

7 Alternatives to Costly Payday Loans
Avoiding astronomical interest rates.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

downloadToday’s top story: How to cut the cord to your TV and save money. Also in the news: Apps to teach kids about personal finance, how to handle your credit card debt while you’re unemployed, and what happens to your debt if you get divorced.

How to watch TV for next to nothing
Cutting the cord can save you big bucks.

7 Apps to Teach Your Kids Personal Finance Skills
Trick them into learning!

How to Handle Credit Card Debt While You’re Unemployed
You cannot ignore it.

What Happens to My Debt If I Get a Divorce?
What does and doesn’t stay with you.

Calculate the Opportunity Cost of Your Spending Habit Over Time
Just how much is that daily muffin costing you?

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

debt collectorsToday’s top story: Getting debt collectors off of your credit report is about to get easier. Also in the news: How to change a bad spending habit, the worst financial mistakes you can make during a divorce, and the worst markets in America to buy a home.

Why Kicking Debt Collectors Off of Your Credit Report Just Got Easier
Changes are coming to your credit report.

To Change a Spending Habit, Focus on Cause and Effect
Tiny changes could make a big difference.

3 Worst Financial Mistakes You Can Make in a Divorce
How to protect your best interests.

The 10 Worst Markets in America to Buy a Home Right Now
Where you buy matters.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Finding the best strategy to pay off your debt. Also in the news: The best way to use your tax refund, the credit scores needed in order to obtain a mortgage, and how to get rid of your bad money habits. refund

What’s the Best Debt Payoff Strategy for You?
You need to have a gameplan.

Eight ways to use your tax refund wisely
Oddly enough, purchasing a Harley is not on the list.

How Many Credit Scores Do You Need to Get a Mortgage?
Start with one from all three credit bureaus.

3 Simple Steps to Help Change Bad Money Habits
Identifying your triggers is essential.

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Four steps that will help give you some breathing room.