Here’s what bad financial advice costs you

Good financial advice leaves you better off. Bad advice does the opposite, and may even enrich someone else at your expense.

In my latest for the Associated Press, some areas where you need to be particularly careful to seek out good advice, since bad advice can be so costly.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to make room for fun in your 2020 budget. Also in the news: You may have to give more personal data to get a personal loan, how to focus on monthly tasks to hit 2020 money goals, and how scammers can use your old credit card numbers.

How to Make Room for Fun in Your 2020 Budget
A budget doesn’t have to be torture.

You May Have to Give More Personal Data to Get a Personal Loan
Loan companies begin to look at alternative data.

Focus on Monthly Tasks to Hit 2020 Money Goals
Taking it one month at a time.

How Scammers Can Use Your Old Credit Card Numbers
This story could change the way you shop online.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: When leasing a car is the more frugal option. Also in the news: How to actually achieve your debt payoff resolution, 5 basic features you should expect from your bank, and holiday debt could take years to pay off.

When Leasing a Car Is the More Frugal Option
Car buying has changed enough over the years that leasing may no longer be the costliest choice.

How to Actually Achieve Your Debt Payoff Resolution
Start the new year on the right foot.

5 Basic Features You Should Expect From Your Bank
Services you should expect.

Holiday debt could take years to pay off
Here come the bills.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to make your money biases work for you. Also in the news: How to get airline perks without elite status, where people with the best – and worst – credit card habits live in the US, and spending down your FISA starts with the right payment card.

How to Make Your Money Biases Work for You
Making our quirks work to our advantage.

How to Get Airline Perks Without Elite Status
You don’t need to be a jet-setter.

This map shows where people with the best – and worst – credit card habits live in the US
Where are you on the list?

Spending down your FSA starts with the right payment card
When to use your FSA debit card.

How to make your money biases work for you

The way our brains work can cost us a lot of money. But some of our mental quirks can be turned to our advantage.

Cognitive biases are the faulty ways of thinking that can persuade us to run up debt, save too little and make stupid investment decisions. The bandwagon effect, for example, entices us to buy the hot stock everyone’s talking about, rather than the mutual fund that makes more sense for our long-term goals. Or we sign up for a too-large mortgage because of optimism bias (“I’ll figure out a way to make the payments, somehow!”).

We can try to be more rational, but sometimes it makes sense to exploit our faulty wiring instead. In my latest for the Associated Press, three money biases that you could put to work for yourself.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How your employer can help you save for emergencies. Also in the news: Tips and traps when buying a used car at auction, 4 questions to consider before opening a new credit card, and how to actually read your retirement account statements.

How Your Employer Can Help You Save for Emergencies
Employer-supported emergency funds are on the rise.

Tips and Traps When Buying a Used Car at Auction
Don’t get stuck with a lemon.

4 Questions to Consider Before Opening a New Credit Card
Think before you apply.

How to Actually Read Your Retirement Account Statements
Deciphering the tiny print.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Make sure a new holiday credit card plays well with others. Also in the news: How one couple paid off over $200K of debt in six years, how to tell if consolidating your student loans would actually save you money, and the 10 best finance movies of the decade.

Make Sure a New Holiday Credit Card Plays Well With the Others
1 in 4 consumers will open a new credit card over the holidays.

How I Ditched Debt: ‘Happiness Journey’ Fueled Payoff
How one couple paid off over $200K in six years.

Here’s how to tell if consolidating your student loans would actually save you money
Not all loan consolidations are equal.

The 10 Best Finance Movies of the Decade
Financial lessons on the big screen.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: One credit score factor to check twice during the holidays. Also in the news: How to give back without busting your budget, how not to get hustled in the holiday bustle, and the best apps for tracking your credit card rewards.

One Credit Score Factor to Check Twice During the Holidays
Utilizing your credit wisely.

How to Give Back Without Busting Your Budget
Create a giving plan.

Identity Theft: Don’t Get Hustled in the Holiday Bustle
‘Tis the season for identity theft.

The Best Apps for Tracking Your Credit Card Rewards
All your rewards in one place.

It’s time to let go of shame over your debt

Many of us feel bad about our debt. Most of us probably shouldn’t.

Three-quarters of U.S. households owe money, but the vast majority pay their bills on time and have debt loads that are reasonable given their incomes.

But many people still report being embarrassed about owing money. In one study, nearly everyone with debt believed they would be happier without it. Researchers have also found a “strong relationship” between debt and several mental health issues, including depression.

Sometimes, stress and anxiety over debt is perfectly appropriate. If you’re about to lose your home, have more student loan debt than you could pay in a lifetime or are headed to bankruptcy court, some angst is understandable.

In my latest for the Associated Press, how to put aside the shame over your debt and take back control over your finances.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Amazon card emails were a mistake, not a hack, says issuer. Also in the news: 5 ways you’re shopping Cyber Monday all wrong, the next 4 weeks will deliver major discounts, and why you should warn your parents about gold and silver coin scams.

Amazon Card Emails Were a Mistake, Not a Hack, Says Issuer
Thousands received confusing emails.

5 Ways You’re Shopping Cyber Monday All Wrong
Coupons are key.

The Next 4 Weeks Will Deliver Major Discounts
What to buy (and skip) in December.

Warn Your Parents About Gold and Silver Coin Scams
Facebook ads are targeting seniors.