Posts by Mandi Woodruff

  • Money Minute: Can I really negotiate my doctor's bills?

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 4 days ago

    Employer-provided health plan deductibles have risen 47% since 2009 , which means consumers are shelling out more before their insurance kicks in. The average deductible for a family in the U.S. was $4,522 in 2013, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Meanwhile, many copay-based plans have given way to plans that offer coinsurance — a percentage of costs that the individual must pay, even after they meet their deductible.

    Learning when and how to negotiate your medical bills is a useful strategy if you’re in a high-deductible plan or need to go out of network.

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  • Money Minute: What's a smart way to invest my 401(k)?

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 9 days ago

    Full disclosure: I am not a financial planner or money manager. So if you’re looking for someone to tell you how to pick hot stocks or time the market, you’ve got the wrong girl.

    What you do have is someone who has been where you are right now — you have a good job for once in your life and the fancy 401(k) to match. But you need help figuring out what the heck to invest in.

    Your first step is easy — stop overthinking it. The stock market is impossible to predict and picking stocks is a fool’s game.  

    Just keep it simple. When you’re just starting out, a good option might be looking into your 401(k)’s target-date fundofferings.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    Now, target-date funds are a bit controversial among some investment experts. But there’s nothing I’ve seen so far that has convinced me that they aren’t a totally reasonable investment — especially if you don’t have time to micromanage your retirement portfolio.

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  • 43% of people in relationships have no idea what their partner earns

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 11 days ago

    Couples are used to sharing most things — family holidays, chores, the occasional dessert — but many still have a hard time sharing the contents of their bank accounts.

    According to a new Fidelity survey , 43% of couples said they had no idea how much their partner earns. When asked to hazard a guess, 10% were off by more than $25,000.  Their better half’s paycheck wasn’t all they were in the dark about.

    More than one-third of couples surveyed couldn’t agree on the balances of their investable assets. Nearly half (48%) said they have no idea how much they will need to save for retirement in order to sustain their current lifestyle and another 47% disagreed on the amount. Boomer couples (for the purposes of Fidelity’s survey, those born between 1946 and 1964) were the most likely generation to find themselves at odds with their partner about their household finances. Sixty percent of boomers couldn’t say how much their Social Security benefit might be (F.Y.I. you can download your free Social Security statement anytime you want).

    Till debt do us part

     

     

  • 'The other 4-year degree’: Why everyone’s talking about apprenticeships

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 11 days ago

    Apprenticeships are having a moment.

    Youth employment rates are still abysmally low in the U.S. (for 16- to 19-year-olds, the unemployment rate is 17.9%, nearly three times the national rate) and college has never been pricier. Apprenticeships, which some have dubbed “the other four-year degree,” offer a low-cost way for young people to get jobs and an education without incurring loads of debt.

    The better-looking, higher-earning sister of the internship, an apprenticeship matches workers up with employers who offer one to four years of job training. The average starting pay for apprentices is $15 an hour, double the federal minimum wage. At the end of a program, workers are rewarded with an industry-recognized certificate and, ideally, a full-time job offer.

    Apprentices earn an average starting salary of $50,000 a year and go on to earn $300,000 more over their lifetime than those with just a high school diploma, according to the Department of Labor.

    Making it worth their while

    Catching up with the cool kids  

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  • Money Minute: Should you lock in your mortgage rate?

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 17 days ago

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    A mortgage rate lock is a when a lender agrees to offer a mortgage loan to a homebuyer at a specific interest rate for a set period of time if the mortgage closes by a certain date.The main advantage of a rate lock is that it protects the buyer from rate changes during the lock period. You'll pay a small fee for a rate lock, which varies lender to lender but typically comes in the form of a percentage of your loan amount. M ost rate lock agreements are  good for 30, 45 or 60 days — the longer your lock period, the higher your fees will be.

    Since mortgage rates fluctuate daily, homebuyers can drive themselves crazy trying to pick the exact right time to lock in their rates. If you lock it in too early, rates might fall. If you wait too long, they might go up.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    More money questions? Shoot us an email atyfmoneymailbag@yahoo.com.

  • Take the Social Security quiz that 72% of Americans failed

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 18 days ago

    In the realm of perplexing financial topics, Social Security benefits must rank somewhere near the very top of the list.

    Despite the fact that more than 59 million Americans — 9 out of 10 people over the age of 65 — receive retirement benefits and some 165 million workers pay payroll taxes into the system, a new survey shows that most of us are woefully uninformed about the particulars of the important program.

    Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) recently surveyed by MassMutual failed a 10-question quiz on basic Social Security concepts. Only a single individual out of more than 1,500 respondents managed to answer all 10 correctly.

    Given the fact that so many of us rely on these benefits in retirement, it’s troubling on a number of fronts.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    For answers, keep scrolling:

     

     

    Have Social Security questions? Email us at yfmoneymailbag@yahoo.com. 

  • Telling young people they need a 4-year degree is a 'disservice'

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 18 days ago

    It’s true that some vocational (or trade) schools are more concerned with turning a profit than providing the kind of training that can actually lead to, say, an actual vocation. Bogus schools called “diploma mills”  sell fake degrees and certificates to unwitting buyers. Others lure in new students with empty job placement guarantees and offer course credits that, lo’ and behold, turn out to be worthless once a student tries to transfer to another school.

    But a few bad actors doesn’t mean the entire industry is a sham. By the year 2020, it’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require at least some form of post-secondary education.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    “I’m not like your typical 21-year-old just out of college,” he says. “I’ve never had a roommate. I don’t have debt. It’s a good feeling.”

    7 questions to ask when vetting a trade school program

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  • Money Minute: Paying off student debt or saving for retirement — which comes first?

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 24 days ago

    At some point most college graduates will come to a confusing crossroads -- should I pay off my student loans now or start saving for retirement? I’ve got your answer in this week’s Money Minute.

    Your student loan bills may be overwhelming, but don’t give up on saving for retirement quite yet. First, do what you can to reduce your loan payments. Lots of people don’t realize that they can qualify for an income-based repayment plan. That can potentially lower your monthly payments to as little as 15% of your discretionary income -- AND free up cash for retirement.

    Some of you might think, whatever, I’ll just start saving for retirement when I’ve got a good job. But know this: The money you save when you’re young can be far more powerful than anything you set aside 10 or 20 years later. You can thank compound interest for that.

    More money questions? Shoot us an email at yfmoneymailbag@yahoo.com .

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  • King v. Burwell: How one Supreme Court case could unravel Obamacare

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 26 days ago

    Any day now, the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a ruling in a case that could unravel President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In a speech on Tuesday, the president said he expects the justices to keep the law intact.

    Despite the heavy media coverage of the imminent ruling, most Americans at home may be scratching their heads as to what, if any, impact this case has on them.

    Check out the video above to get up to speed or read on to find out what the fuss is all about:

    The case is King v. Burwell: The plaintiff, 64-year-old David King , is challenging the legality of tax credits given to Obamacare users in states that use the federal insurance marketplace, Healthcare.gov.

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  • Money Minute: Can I get by without a credit file?

    Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance 1 mth ago

    Roughly 36 million adults in the U.S . are considered “credit invisible” — meaning they either have no credit history at all or their credit files are so thin that they are virtually unscorable.

    You can get by without credit, but it’s not easy — or cheap.

    What about a mortgage?

    Without a credit history, you better have a lot of cash on hand if you're shopping for a new home. To qualify for an FHA loan , you are required to have at least one month’s worth of income saved up, after subtracting whatever your down payment and closing costs are.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

    Cellphones:

    You can get a prepaid phone, but that also means paying more money ahead of time. Or, you can mooch off of someone else — just ask them to let you co-sign for a phone contract or add you as an authorized user to their plan.

    Cable:

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