Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do if you save too much for retirement. Also in the news: The ins and outs of starting a car, financial pros are hanging on to stocks, and why you need multiple savings accounts.

What to Do If You Save Too Much for Retirement
Saving too much for retirement can cause problems as well as saving too little. Beware of IRS rules and penalties.

So You Think You Know How to Start a Car
It’s become much more complicated

Selling Stocks on Inflation Fears? Financial Pros Wouldn’t
The inflation sirens are wailing, but financial pros say there’s no reason to panic.

Why You Need Multiple Savings Accounts
Multiple accounts make it easier to reach your savings goals.

Q&A: It’s not too late for Mom’s stocks

Dear Liz: My mother is 68. She has had a sizable amount of money in an old work 401(k) for several years now. Unfortunately, it has been stuck in the most conservative low-growth fund for more than 10 years during a time of great stock market growth. If she changed it to a more aggressive fund now, are there tax implications to consider, and would this be an unwise change at her age?

Answer: Ouch. The stock market as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 benchmark rose more than 250% in the last decade. Instead of more than tripling her money, her low-growth fund may have barely kept up with inflation.

She can’t get back those lost returns, but she could allocate her money more aggressively without having to worry about triggering taxes. Money in 401(k)s and most other retirement accounts is taxed only when it’s withdrawn.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The 2 costs that can make or break your nest egg. Also in the news: Buying stocks in a year of uncertainty, getting paid for family caregiving, and how people spent their stimulus checks.

The 2 Costs That Can Make or Break Your Nest Egg
Spending less on housing and transportation could help you save more for retirement.

In a Year of Uncertainty, Should You Still Buy Stocks?
Wading into the market.

Yes, It’s Possible to Get Paid for Family Caregiving
But there’s a lot to consider.

How People Spent Their Stimulus Checks – and What You Can Learn From Them
Use your stimulus check, or any extra money, to improve your financial situation during these uncertain times.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 6 things to know about the Uber IPO. Also in the news: How one woman ditched 80K of debt in two years, how pet insurance can be your wallet’s best friend, and switching bank accounts for the rewards.

6 Things to Know About the Uber IPO
What potential investors should know.

How I Ditched Debt: Redefining ‘Best Life,’ Scaling Back
How one woman paid off nearly $80K in two years.

Pet Insurance Can Be Your Wallet’s Best Friend
Our pets’ care can get pricey.

Should You Switch Bank Accounts for the Rewards?
The pros and cons.

Q&A: Heirs need a pro to sort our tax issues

Dear Liz: I know that when a person dies, their beneficiaries typically will inherit a home or other real estate at the current market value with no taxes owed on the appreciation that happened during the person’s lifetime. Does that hold true for stocks as well?

Answer: Usually, yes, but there are some exceptions.

If the stock is held inside a retirement account such as a 401(k) or IRA, and that retirement account is bequeathed to heirs, withdrawals will be subject to income tax. The same is true for investments held within variable annuities.

Inheritors also may owe capital gains taxes on a stock’s appreciation if the stock is held in certain trusts, such as a generation-skipping trust.

And even when no taxes are owed on the gain that happened during someone’s lifetime, there may be taxes due on the gain that happens after someone inherits the stock or other property, said Los Angeles estate planning attorney Burton Mitchell.

If you’re expecting an inheritance, you’d be smart to consult a tax pro so you understand the tax bill that may be attached.

Q&A: Giving stock to your children

Dear Liz: We plan to give our children some stock that we have had for several years. What is the tax consequence when they sell it? Is it the difference from the value when we gave it to them till they sell it, or the difference from the value when we purchased it?

Answer: If the stock is worth more the day you give it to them than it was worth when you bought it, you’ll be giving them your tax basis too.

Let’s imagine you bought the stock for $10 per share.

Say it’s worth $18 per share when you gift it. If they sell for $25, their capital gain would be $15 ($25 sale price minus your $10 basis). They will qualify for long-term capital gains rates since you’ve held the stock for more than a year.

If on the day you give the stock, it’s worth less than what you paid for it, then different rules apply. Let’s say the stock’s value has fallen to $5 per share when you gift it.

If your children later sell for more than your original basis of $10, then $10 is their basis. So if they sell for $12, their capital gain is $2.

If they sell it for less than $5 (the market value when you gave it), that $5 valuation becomes their basis. If they sell for $4, then, their capital loss would be $1 per share ($4 sale price minus $5 basis). The silver lining: Capital losses can be used to offset income and reduce taxes.

Finally, if they sell for an amount between the value at the date of the gift and your basis — so between $5 and $10 in our example — there will be no gain or loss to report.

If, however, you wait and bequeath the stock to them at your death, the shares would get a new tax basis at that point. If the stock is worth more than what you paid, your kids get that new, higher basis. So if it’s worth $25 on the day you die and they sell for $25, no capital gains taxes are owed. If it’s worth $5 when you die, though, the capital loss essentially evaporates. Your kids can’t use it to offset other income.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Selling stocks in a panic could jack up your tax bill. Also in the news: This 5-minute task can protect your banking rep, how to get started with frequent flyer programs, and how your Amazon Echo could be making you spend more money.

Selling Stocks in a Panic Could Jack Up Your Tax Bill
Don’t act impulsively.

This 5-Minute Task Can Protect Your Banking Rep
Using a ChexSystem freeze.

How to Get Started With Frequent Flyer Programs
Start putting all those miles to work.

Your Amazon Echo could be making you spend more money
In addition to laughing at random times.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: It’s tax scam season. Here’s when to call shenanigans. Also in the news: Starting with a budget when planning a wedding, how to find good, cheap stocks, and a major data breach at the Marine Forces Reserve.

Planning a Wedding? Start With the Budget
Setting reasonable expectations.

It’s Tax Scam Season. Here’s When to Call Shenanigans
Pay close attention.

4 Steps to Finding Good, Cheap Stocks
Tips for beginners.

Major data breach at Marine Forces Reserve impacts thousands
Social Security numbers, banks transfers and other personal info has been leaked.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What every first-time flyer needs to know. Also in the news: 4 steps to finding good, cheap stocks, how to buy a house that hasn’t been built yet, and a surprising source you can tap for long-term care services.

What Every First-Time Flyer Needs to Know
Review these steps before takeoff.

4 Steps to Finding Good, Cheap Stocks
Using a stock screener.

How to Buy a House That Hasn’t Been Built Yet
Existing homes are at an all-time low.

Here’s a surprise source you can tap for long-term care services
A look at Medicaid planning.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 ways to invest in your career this week. Also in the news: How to pick stock investments, checking accounts for seniors, and using your emergency savings to pay off credit card debt.

3 Ways to Invest in Your Career This Week
Give your career a boost.

How to Pick Stock Investments
Choosing wisely.

Checking Accounts for Seniors
Know the perks.

Should You Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt With Your Emergency Savings?
Start making short-term sacrifices.