Start 2021 off strong with these money moves

After the train wreck that was 2020, you may well question whether it’s worth trying to plan anything. But knocking off a few financial tasks early in the year can better prepare you for whatever 2021 has in store. In my latest for the Associated Press, how to start off 2021 on the right financial foot.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 credit card trends to watch in 2021. Also in the news: 7 smart ways to cut car costs in 2021, vague financial resolutions to avoid, and 5 ways young drivers can save on car insurance.

5 Credit Card Trends to Watch for in 2021
Hello, world; goodbye, sweatpants? In 2021, credit cards will appeal to travelers, credit builders and technophiles.

7 Smart Ways to Cut Car Costs in 2021
Easy ways to bring down your automobile costs.

Avoid These Vague Financial Resolutions in 2021
Be more specific.

5 Ways Young Drivers Can Save on Car Insurance
Here’s how to lower your auto insurance costs, even if you’re in your early 20s.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Life and money lessons from the pandemic. Also in the news: Life insurance shoppers lose interest when COVID-19 cases drop, how to save the holidays, and how to spend your extra FSA money.

Life and Money Lessons From the Pandemic
We’ve taken stock of procrastination’s costs, embraced virtual work and play, and are growing our emergency funds.

Life Insurance Shoppers Lose Interest When COVID-19 Cases Drop
Some Americans say they skipped life insurance as cases fell in their area, a survey finds — but the need may still exist.

How to Save the Holidays: More Joy, Less Cash
If your gift list exceeds your budget, try these tips for discounts, rewards, cash back, creativity and delight.

How to Spend Your Extra FSA Money
You have more spending options.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Read this before you refinance your federal student loans. Also in the news: COVID-19 accelerates no-exam trend in life insurance, low-cost ways small businesses can help employees save more, and what’s up with the latest COVID relief bill.

Read This Before You Refinance Federal Student Loans
Even with low rates, refinancing isn’t right for everyone.

COVID-19 Accelerates No-Exam Trend in Life Insurance
Staying away from the exam room.

Here are some easy, low-cost ways small businesses can help employees save more
Technology and competition have made workplace savings plans more accessible in recent years

What’s Up With the Latest COVID Relief Bill?
Things continue to move slowly.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to put 2020 financial survivor’s guilt to good use. Also in the news: The best tips for retirement savings at any age, how COVID-19 is accelerating no-exam life insurance, and is the new Visa Bitcoin rewards card worth it?

How to Put 2020 Financial Survivor’s Guilt to Good Use
Donating time or money can help people who have had economic setbacks in the pandemic — and also those who haven’t.

Best Tips for Saving for Retirement — at Any Age
It’s never too late — or too early — to make sound financial decisions and get yourself set up for retirement.

COVID-19 accelerates no-exam trend in life insurance
Social distancing mandates have hindered the medical exams that are often required for life insurance applications

Is the New Visa Bitcoin Rewards Card Worth It?
Visa dives into cryptocurrency.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Average retirement savings by age and why you need more. Also in the news: The best places to stash your cash for short, medium and long-term goals, smart tactics for millennials flocking to buy life insurance, and how get ready for gift card scams this season.

Average Retirement Savings by Age and Why You Need More
In general, Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement. Are you?

The best places to stash your cash for short, medium and long-term goals
The many options depend on how much you hope to earn, and how far away your savings goal is

Smart tactics for millennials flocking to buy life insurance
Planning for tomorrow

Get Ready for Gift Card Scams This Holiday Season
Scams never take a holiday.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Which airline brands have the best and worst fees. Also in the news: How to get preapproved for a credit card, which hotel brands have the best and worst fees, and why you should never quit your job without a plan.

Airline Fee Rankings: Which Brands Have the Best (and Worst) Fees?
Some airlines sneak in extra charges for baggage and seat selection that can bust your travel budget.

Can I Get Preapproved for a Credit Card?
Preapproval is less common than pre-qualification, which is not a guarantee that you won’t be rejected.

Hotel Fee Rankings: Which Brands Have the Best (and Worst) Fees?
Resort fees, parking charges and pet deposits can really add to your room cost at some hotels.

Don’t Quit Your Job Without a Plan
Resist the impulse.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t skip these steps when borrowing parent student loans. Also in then news: How to build a home office without breaking the bank, medical student borrowing slows, and the easiest way to lower the interest rate on your credit card.

Don’t Skip These Steps When Borrowing Parent Student Loans
Assess your financial situation and talk openly with your child before borrowing parent student loans.

How to Build a Home Office Without Breaking the Bank
Decide where you’ll invest to make a home office that’s comfortable and productive, as well as affordable.

Med Student Borrowing Slows, but Debt Still an Issue
In the class of 2019, 73% of medical students took out loans; their median debt was $200,000.

The Easiest Way to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate
Get ready to spend some time on the phone.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How losing Obamacare could cost you. Also in the news: Understanding Medicare prescription drug plans, a new episode of the SmartMoney podcast on remote work burnout and saving for college, and the pros and cons of paying your student loans with a credit card.

How Losing Obamacare Could Cost You
If the Supreme Court tosses out the Affordable Care Act, it could dramatically affect your finances and choices.

Understanding Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
Medicare can help you pay for prescription drugs in two ways.

Smart Money Podcast: Remote Work Burnout and Saving for College
How to handle Zoom fatigue.

Can You Pay Your Student Loans With a Credit Card?
Yes. But should you?

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 3 strategies on how to invest in CDs. Also in the news: Using a crisis to build helpful money habits, ten theme parks celebrating Halloween, and how to sell your car safely.

How to Invest in CDs: 3 Strategies
CD ladders and CD barbells aim for higher rates over time; CD bullets focus on a future purchase.

You Can Use a Crisis to Build Helpful Money Habits
Hone your budget skills.

Is Halloween Canceled This Year? Not at These 10 Theme Parks
Disney World and other theme parks are still having spooky celebrations with some COVID-19 safety modifications.

How to Sell Your Car Safely
Protect yourself from scammers.