Senior Editor, Money Team

Eileen Ambrose is a senior editor and writer for the Money Team. She previously was a personal finance columnist with the Baltimore Sun.

Congress Extends a Few Tax Breaks for You

So Congress wasn’t totally Scrooge-like this holiday season, as members tossed a few tax breaks to the rest of us. They passed legislation to extend a number of tax breaks that expired at the end of last year. If they hadn’t, you wouldn’t be able to take various deductions and credits when filing your 2014 tax return. >> Discussion: How do you make the most of your money? Among the key tax breaks for individuals: IRA charitable deduction. Those 70½ and older …

Those Pension Cuts and What You Need to Know

Congress recently carved a hole in a 40-year-old pension law that has prevented employers from cutting benefits earned by those already retired. This change applies to people covered under multiemployer plans that are in critical financial shape. Here’s what you need to know: What is a multiemployer plan? This is a pension covering workers and retirees from more than one employer in the same or related industries, such as trucking or construction. (Most of them were established under collective bargaining between …

Making Social Security Work for Women

Social Security is gender neutral, meaning men and women earning the same amount in their careers should receive the same size benefit. In reality, a woman’s benefit on average is lower than a man’s — $1,103 vs. $1,417 in 2012 — because her work and personal experiences are rarely the same. Women tend to earn less — an average of 78 cents for every $1 a man makes. They are more likely to be in low-paying jobs without pensions and to …

Banks Ease Terms for Struggling Student Borrowers

Big banks are beginning to cut some slack to distressed student-loan borrowers. Wells Fargo announced a new program this week that will lower the interest rate on loans so payments will be more affordable based on a struggling borrower’s income. The bank will review borrowers’ financial situations to determine whether they qualify for short- or long-term loan modification. >> 8 Hidden College Expenses According to the Wall Street Journal, both borrowers and cosigners will have to show financial hardship to get a modification. Modifications …

Picking a Financial Adviser? This Tool Can Help

Investors are generally advised to check the background of brokers or other financial professionals before doing business with them. Yet, how many of us really do that, even though it could protect our life savings? It’s safe to say, not a lot. One reason: Even though this information is available online, it’s not been that easy to navigate the multiple websites to find it. >> Should You Invest in Collectibles? Now the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has created the CFTC SmartCheck, …

Debt for College Hits 70% of Graduates

Most graduates in the Class of 2013 left campus with more than a diploma. Nearly 7 out of 10 also had student loan debt. The average amount: $28,400, up 2 percent from the debt of those who graduated a year earlier. That’s according to a report by the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success, a California-based advocacy group that has been tracking these figures for nine years. >> Hidden College Expenses Education debt is a growing concern …