How to avoid Social Security surprises
And more of the week's best financial advice
Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
Avoiding Social Security surprisesNot minding the details of Social Security could mean "leaving money on the table," said Kelli B. Grant at CNBC. Many divorced retirees, for instance, are unaware that they're able to draw money based on their ex-spouse's work record, provided the marriage lasted at least 10 years. If you didn't remarry, "you may be able to collect an amount equivalent to half of what your ex is eligible to receive." Where you retire also matters. Thirty-six states, plus Washington, D.C., don't tax Social Security benefits at all. And "even if your retirement is years away, it's a good idea to periodically check in on your Social Security benefits." An unnoticed error in your earnings record "could cost you thousands of dollars in retirement."
Watch the calendar for big purchases"To every car, appliance, or home, there is a season," said Kaitlin Pitsker at Kiplinger. Shoppers can score substantial savings simply by waiting for the right time of year to purchase big-ticket items. Fall is the most opportune time to shop for a new car. That's when auto dealers are looking to make space for next year's vehicles, "so you're likely to find generous discounts, cash rebates, and extra-low-interest financing on the outgoing models." The same goes for dishwashers, dryers, and other major appliances. You can often find discounts of 20 percent or more on older models in September and October. Home-buyers should hit the pavement in February. The median price of a home is 6 percent less then compared with the rest of the year.
Don't miss the perks of seniority"For coupon-cutters of a certain age who have nothing against technology, the world can easily become a less expensive place," said Tammy La Gorce at The New York Times. An entire genre of apps and websites exists to track the surprising variety of senior discounts on offer, even for people who are in their 50s. The website Senior List includes dozens of restaurants with discounts of 10 percent or more, including Applebee's, Ben & Jerry's, Burger King, and Chili's. Retired Brains lists categories such as apparel, groceries, travel, and entertainment. "Who knew that Baby Boomers and others over 62 could get 10 percent off clothing at Banana Republic and 5 percent off at Greyhound?" Sciddy, an app that has identified some 260,000 senior discounts, even uses GPS technology to send users an alert when they've walked into a business offering a discount.