Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What rising prices could mean for your retirement plans. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on student debt and money baggage, how guests can honor their budgets in peak wedding season, and ways to mitigate credit card use during inflation.

What Rising Prices Could Mean for Your Retirement Plans
Inflation means your retirement savings won’t go as far. Here’s how to pivot.

Smart Money Podcast: New Student Debt, and a Couple’s Money Baggage
This week’s episode starts with a discussion of the student debt new high school grads — and their parents — could take on.

How Guests Can Honor Their Budgets in Peak Wedding Season
All signs point to a banner year for weddings in 2022. Here’s how guests can manage the costs to attend celebrations.

Ways to mitigate credit card use during inflation
Use them strategically.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Find out what big data says about you — and how to fix it. Also in the news: Part II of the Smart Money deep dive on student debt, why fixing the supply chain won’t cure homebuying woes, and 5 places where you can still get a decent meal for under $10.

Find Out What Big Data Says About You — and Fix It
Discovering and correcting mistakes is no small task.

Smart Money Podcast: Student Debt Cancellation Debate, Part 2
Would student loan cancellation liberate those crushed by debt, or is it a potentially ineffective political ploy?

The Property Line: Fixing Supply Chain Won’t Cure Homebuying Woes
Expect a modest and gradual increase in completed new homes when gaps in the supply chain are closed, not a flurry of new options.

Five Places You Can Still Get a Decent Meal for Under $10
Fast food is not as cheap as it once was—but there are still some good deals out there to be had.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: ABLE accounts help people with disabilities save for the future. Also in the news: A new episode of the Smart Money podcast on holiday scams and paying off law school debt, how to vet holiday deals and avoid scams, and why you should sign up for AARP, even if you’re young.

ABLE Accounts Help People With Disabilities Save for the Future
Created by a federal law in 2014, Achieving a Better Life Experience — ABLE — accounts provide a way for people with disabilities to save money without losing public benefits.

Smart Money Podcast: Holiday Shopping Scams, and Paying Off Law School Debt
Scams consumers might encounter when holiday shopping this year.

How to Vet Holiday Deals and Avoid Scams
Prepare your budget and your shopping list. Then brush up on the latest scams and take advantage of deals when you find them.

Why You Should Join AARP, Even If You’re a Young Whippersnapper
You can enjoy a slew of senior citizen discounts without actually being a senior citizen.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What to do when you can’t open a bank account. Also in the news: 6 tips to streamline insurance payments on home damage claims, college-bound grads could exit with $38K in student loan debt, and how to build your business credit score.

What to Do When You Can’t Open a Bank Account
A bank or credit union could deny an account application.

6 Tips to Streamline Insurance Payment on Home Damage Claims
Reporting the damage to the insurance company in a timely fashion can put more money in your pocket faster.

College-Bound Grads Could Exit With $38K Student Loan Debt
There are a number of ways to cut down on the amount borrowed for a bachelor’s degree before, during and after college.

How to Build Your Business Credit Score, and Why It Matters
What you need to know about establishing your business credit score and how to improve it.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Your credit history opens doors – here’s how to build it. Also in the news: what happens to your debt if your school closes for good, and exit strategies for young adults forced home during COVID-19.

Your Credit History Opens Doors — Here’s How to Build It
About 13% of Americans in a survey said that they don’t have a credit history, and some don’t know how to get started.

If Your College Closes for Good, What Happens to Your Debt?
You have two options.

Is That Nearly New Salvage-Title Car Really a Deal?
A few dealers now specialize in professionally rebuilt salvage-title vehicles. The risks remain, though.

Exit Strategies for Young Adults Forced Home During COVID-19
How to make the Great Escape.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Working remotely in the pandemic may generate a tax surprise. Also in the news: Advice on how to fly safely over the holidays, student debt continues to rise for new pharmacists, and how to save money during Medicare open enrollment this year.

Working Remotely in the Pandemic May Generate a Tax Surprise
Many states require people who work within their borders to pay taxes, even if they live elsewhere.

Ask a Points Nerd: (How) Should I Fly for the Holidays?
If you must travel for the holidays, here’s some advice for how to book hotels and stay safe while flying.

Student Debt Continues to Rise for New Pharmacists
Average student debt among pharmacists increased by 4% to $179,514 for the class of 2020.

How to Save on Medicare Open Enrollment This Fall
Open enrollment is just six weeks away.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Your student debt doesn’t always die with you. Also in the news: 10 ways to meet a credit card’s minimum spend requirement, how today’s Fed rate cut affects you, and how to churn credit cards without getting penalized.

Your Student Debt Doesn’t Always Die With You
It all depends on the type of loan.

10 Ways to Meet a Credit Card’s Minimum Spend Requirement
Don’t let your rewards slip away.

Here’s how the Fed rate cut affects you
Cheaper loans, lower interest on savings.

How to Churn Credit Cards Without Getting Penalized
Targeting those sign-up bonuses.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Pet insurance can be your wallet’s best friend. Also in the news: How to get the most out of online reviews, talking to your parents about their financial plans, and where the 2020 candidates stand on student debt and college affordability.

Pet Insurance Can Be Your Wallet’s Best Friend
Covering your furry friends.

How to Get the Most out of Online Reviews
When to trust reviews.

Yes, You Should Ask Their Parents About Their Financial Plans
A crucial conversation.

Where the 2020 candidates stand on student debt and college affordability
An important issue.

Q&A: Ask yourself these questions before using savings to pay off student debt

Dear Liz: I’m wondering whether I should use part of my emergency fund to pay off student loans. I currently have $15,000 in an emergency fund to cover three to six months of my living expenses and owe $18,000 in federal student loans. I’ve been feeling the itch to pay off a chunk of my student loans to reduce the years (and interest) I have to keep paying. I’d like to use $5,000 to $6,000 of my emergency fund to put toward the loan. For context, I’m already contributing 15% to my 401(k) and have no other debt.

Answer: First of all, well done. The fact that you have any emergency fund puts you ahead of the game, plus it’s great that you’re also saving for your retirement and avoiding credit card debt.

There are a few things to consider before using savings to pay down your loan. “Prepaying” a student loan is different from paying down credit cards. Reducing credit card debt typically frees up additional credit that you could use in an emergency. Paying down credit card debt also can help your credit scores by reducing your “credit utilization,” or the amount of your available revolving credit that you’re using. Extra money sent to a student loan lender, by contrast, can’t be clawed back if you should need it and doesn’t help your scores as much.

Federal student loan debt has other advantages. Interest rates tend to be low, and up to $2,500 of interest can be subtracted from your income even if you don’t itemize. That is a valuable “above the line” adjustment that can help you qualify for other tax breaks.

You shouldn’t hang on to debt just because of the tax savings, of course, since the value of the tax break usually is much less than the interest you pay. But most people have better things to do with their money than pay down low-rate, tax-deductible debt, especially if they have other types of debt, haven’t maxed out their retirement savings and don’t have an adequate emergency fund.

Which brings us back to your situation. You’ve checked all those other boxes. If your job situation is reasonably stable, then using a chunk of your savings to pay down debt can make sense — particularly if you have access to credit or other funds, such as help from friends or family, as a backup while you rebuild those savings.