July Financial Check-In: What You Need to Know About Your Money This Month

July Financial Check-In: What You Need to Know About Your Money This Month

There’s plenty to celebrate in July: Independence Day, sunny weekend getaways, outdoor concerts and county fairs—and let's not forget that other summer pleasure ... barbecues!

But while the country may be getting ready to kick back its heels a bit as summer goes into full swing, the financial news doesn't have time to take a siesta!

From changes on the student loan front to fresh research that delves into how brain chemistry can impact investing choices, here are some recent headlines that could be relevant to your finances. Consider it a beach read for your money!

Stressed out? You may want to move to one of these locales ... 
Daydreaming about trading your hectic work life for someplace a little more Zen? Consider relocating to Salt Lake City or Sacramento, where life is less harried—at least according to CNNMoney. Shorter workdays, lower costs of living and quick commutes topped the list of reasons why these ten cities were labeled some of the least stressful in the nation. Bonus tip: If you’re on the hunt for new career opportunities, take a look at these nine states, which are expected to experience job-market booms this year.

If your student loan debt is keeping you up at night, some relief is on the horizon.
President Obama signed a memorandum in June that aims to extend his 2010 Pay as You Earn plan, which caps repayments for federal-loan borrowers to 10% of their monthly income. What’s new about the latest order, however, is that it enables more borrowers—some 5 million people—to take advantage of the law. So borrowers who got loans before October 2007 or who stopped borrowing before October 2011 are now eligible to participate. One caveat: The law doesn't take effect until December 2015.

The commander-in-chief isn't the only one worried about the burden of student debt: According to one study, 42% of Millennials feel overwhelmed by their debt—much of it from student loans—and 47% put at least half of their take-home pay toward paying it down.

If you inherit an IRA, you could kiss it goodbye if …
… you declare bankruptcy. The Supreme Court ruled in Clark v. Rameker that money in an inherited IRA—that is, an IRA you received because you were a beneficiary, versus one you opened for yourself—cannot be protected under bankruptcy laws, which normally shield retirement money from creditors.

The reasoning: Since someone who inherits an IRA can't contribute more to the retirement account and is able to withdraw money at any time penalty-free, the judges ruled that an inherited IRA doesn't qualify as money that's been set aside for retirement.

Luckily, spouses who receive a deceased partner's IRA are afforded protections not available to non-spousal inheritors: They can roll the money over into their own IRA—although they won’t be able to withdraw the funds until age 59½.

Your genes can help—and even hinder—your investing strategy.
A recent study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, the National University of Singapore and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign found that how well you learn from other people’s behavior, as well as through trial and error, is actually controlled by genes that regulate dopamine, the neurotransmitter that affects your brain’s pleasure-seeking system. This, in turn, affects strategic decision-making abilities when it comes to money-related activities—like investing and gambling.

If the market’s recent performance is any indication, that dopamine seems to have kicked in for a lot of investors. Stocks at the mid-year point showed investors were fairly optimistic, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all seeing modest gains for the year—despite news that the GDP shrunk by 2.9% in the first quarter.

And last but not least, some thought-provoking stats to close out your money news for this month:

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, cited or linked to in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.

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