Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
Are you taking home too much pay?
"Check your paycheck — you might be getting too much money," said Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post. With the tax law's recent passage, most U.S. workers have seen an increase in their take-home pay. That makes it an ideal time to check whether your company is withholding the right amount of tax for you. Ideally, you should sit in the taxation "sweet spot," where you don't owe any taxes at the end of the year, but you also aren't awaiting a significant refund. Revisit your W-4 form, which you filled out when you started your job, to see if your withholding levels match your current tax liability. IRS.gov has a withholding calculator. The new tax law contains seven new income tax brackets, and if your circumstances have changed — say, you had a child, got married, or purchased a home — your withholdings should also be updated.
Making a will for your virtual self
"In the not-so-olden days of a few years ago, relatives might have sifted through stacks of documents to sort out your affairs after you died," said Chris Taylor at Reuters. But today many of our financial accounts and personal details are paperless, "floating around in the cloud." It's for this reason that you should take the time to guarantee that your loved ones have access to your online accounts when you pass away. "Do a full accounting of everywhere you might be digitally" and document how to get access. This includes logins and passwords to Facebook and other social media accounts; be sure to clarify whether you'd prefer they are deleted or retained "as a memorial." And consider appointing a "digital executor" to handle your digital properties, just as you would with your other worldly affairs.
Changes to balance transfer cards
Demand for balance transfer cards is soaring, said Anna Bahney at CNN, but thanks to a combination of factors, the cards' 0-percent-rate windows "are likely to get shorter." Balance transfer cards have become increasingly popular in recent years among people who carry hefty credit card debt; the introductory 0 percent rate lets people reset the clock on paying down their balances. But analysts say rising interest rates and the fact that banks don't make money from the accounts will cool the transfer-card market. There's also been an uptick in the number of cardholders who "game" the system, "using balance transfer cards to pay off their debts and then never using the balance transfer card again."