Your weekly money scoop: September 16, 2016

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Your weekly money scoop: September 16, 2016


We're serving you our weekly bite-sized roundup of the stories you need to know.

This week, read about how student loan forgiveness can come with a serious tax bill, learn tips for scoring more legroom on flights for free and find out how you might be able to lower your bills without cutting into your shower time.

U.S. household income is up, up, up. Last year, median household income was up 5.2 percent from the previous year -- the largest increase since the Census Bureau started keeping track in 1967. On top of this, the nation's poverty level fell and more Americans had health insurance coverage. The downside? Median household income was still lower than pre-recession levels and poverty and income inequality are still significant. But overall, it's still a win for the books.

When it comes to student loan forgiveness, Uncle Sam may not be as forgiving. If you're on an income-based repayment plan from the government, you may be eligible for student loan forgiveness if you make at least two decades' worth of payments. Sounds great, right? Well, there's a potential catch. Any amount you're forgiven may be ultimately considered taxable income. And the tax burden could be significant, perhaps even crippling. Taking that route, being debt-free may not equal tax-free.

Ever felt squeezed into your plane seat? You're not alone. Cramped airline seats are a regular source of dissatisfaction for passengers traveling on economy flights. There may be some ways -- even free ways -- to dodge the cramp. Check out these five tips on how to get more legroom on your next flight without shelling out any cash.

More Americans are flipping homes than we've seen in a while. Homeowners are flipping houses -- re-selling them soon after buying them -- at levels not seen since the financial crisis. Sometimes home flipping can be a warning sign of a housing bubble -- a run-up in housing prices because of high demand and speculation -- but this time experts aren't overly concerned. Unlike what preceded the financial crisis, more home flippers today are using cash to buy their houses and taking home better returns on their investments.

Stop bills from breaking your bank. This is easier said than done, but if you're struggling with your utility, phone or other bills, there may be some tricks you can try. For instance: trying to negotiate with your service provider, calling during off-peak hours and repeating the process. There are also services that can try to negotiate your bill on your behalf, though they'll retain a portion of your savings. You can't stop your bills from coming, but you can sure try to lower them.

And that's the scoop this week -- see you next week for more.

About the Author: Mika Bhatia is a Staff Writer for Credit Karma. She's worked in financial services and tech, and has now found the perfect union of the two at Credit Karma. When she's not busy coming up with credit-related analogies, she's most likely supporting the Warriors, enjoying a fine cup of British tea or doing yoga (goal: completing a headstand without toppling over). Follow her at @MikaBhatia!

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