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.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 colleges that help you handle student debt. Also in the news: How one couple purchased a home in Oakland, Marriott/SPG cards are getting a makeover, and how to get reimbursed for old medical expenses with your HSA.

3 Colleges That Help You Handle Student Debt
You’re not alone.

How I Bought a Home in Oakland
One couple’s story.

Bonjour, Bonvoy: Marriott, SPG Cards Getting New Names, Perks
New goodies.

Get Reimbursed for Years-Old Medical Expenses with Your HSA
No time limit on reimbursements.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Parents are struggling to repay college loans. Also in the news: How to just say no to gift exchanges, late credit card payments may cost more in 2019, and how mobile wallets can do serious damage to your finances this holiday season.

Parents Struggling to Repay College Loans, Report Finds
Drowning in debt.

Millennial Money: How to Just Say No to Gift Exchanges
Skipping the Yankee Swap.

A Late Credit Card Payment May Cost You More in 2019
Late fees are on the rise.

Beware, mobile wallets can do serious damage to your finances this holiday season
Stick with cash.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Identity theft risks for holiday shoppers. Also in the news: What to buy and skip in December, paying down student debt on a nonprofit salary, and how to make the most of the child tax credit this year.

Holiday Shoppers, Beware of These 3 Identity Theft Risks
Watch out for grinches.

What to Buy (and Skip) in December
Hold off on jewelry.

Debt Diary: Paying Down $19K in Student Debt on a Nonprofit Salary
One man’s journey.

How to make the most of the child tax credit this year
A look at the changes.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Experian flaw just revealed PINs protecting credit data. Also in the news: When little student debt becomes a lot of trouble, how to put your money where your politics are, and what’s in the tax bill that just passed the House.

Experian Flaw Just Revealed PINs Protecting Credit Data
A serious security breach.

When a Little Student Debt Becomes a Lot of Trouble
You’ll be surprised by who defaults.

How to Put Your Money Where Your Politics Are
The best ways to make political donations.

What’s in the Tax Bill That Just Passed the House?
It could change the way people save for retirement.