WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s all fun and margaritas when you first book a cruise. But that “ticket” is actually a contract that can run more than a dozen pages, and gives away more rights to the cruise ship company than you may realize.
“People will buy the ticket without knowing this, and they won’t even look at it before they step on the cruise ship,” said Joseph Goldberg, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based consumer attorney who reviewed the ticket contract posted on the Carnival Cruise Lines website (here)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new video game has gotten its hooks into Brian Kealer, a 26-year-old San Francisco software engineer. He’s not killing birds or using his vocabulary to impress his friends. No, Kealer is after real prizes, like the iPad2 he just scored. And he’s playing with his bank account.
At least once every day, Kealer signs into SaveUp.com, a new financial website, and does some financial activity that wins him credits he can then use to play for big money prizes. To earn those credits, he can pay a credit card bill, deposit money into his savings account, or watch a sponsored video about personal finance.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – I have a particularly resourceful friend who lives a pretty good life, despite never having quite enough money. She is hardworking and popular with her wide circle of friends, neighbors and colleagues. She networks, barters and works for what she really wants.
A former chef turned teacher, she finessed enough grant money to pay for a two-week trip to cooking school in Italy. She knows where all the good used furniture stores are, has bartered home cleaning for a two-week stay in a vacation home in Vermont, and is working on an arrangement now that will get her free housing in France for several weeks this summer. Tres bien!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s a cherished and long-held belief in the personal finance world that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The catechism goes like this: if a service is “free” that just means you can’t see the hidden fees, or it’s a really lousy service, or it’s a trap, and not free at all.
That’s been especially true in the past of “free” financial advice, typically offered by salespeople who make money when they sell products to consumers who are unaware that the sales commissions are buried in the product’s costs. It was also true of a certain jingle-happy “free” credit reporting site that had to pay $950,000 in credit monitoring services after it was sued by the Federal Trade Commission.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ask any behaviorist: Resolutions rarely work. They are too big and sweeping. The minute you fall off the bandwagon, you abandon attempts to climb back on, mostly because you’re too busy hating yourself.
So forget about the “I’m going to lose 20 pounds AND track every penny that I spend” fervor. Instead just do what does work – actionable small steps. Here’s a list of ways you can improve your finances in 2012, usually in just a few minutes at a time, and without any self-loathing.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the waning days of 2011, the federal government has handed gamblers two gifts. The Justice Department cleared the way for states to start legalizing online poker and other online betting games. And the Internal Revenue Service agreed to a tax court decision that will allow professional gamblers to take big tax losses.
Does that mean you can now write off all those Knicks games and bar nights you and your fantasy league buddies attend? What about the Vegas sprees that support your habit? Sorry, not so much.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The youngest retirement investors are not abandoning the stock market and actually are more likely than other groups to have stock-heavy portfolios in their 401(k) accounts, according to a study of plan participants released on Wednesday.
The study also found plan participants are cutting back on the amount of their own company stock in their retirement plans and that 401(k) investors generally resumed a more balanced approach to investing in 2010 than they had in the fear-driven years of 2008 and 2009.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Remember way back in January, when Washington was arguing about taxes, homeowners were having trouble getting refinanced and investors were dumping gold? Hmmm…that makes it seem like 2011 was an uneventful year.
But 2011 forever changed the way you’ll manage your money. Here’s an overview of the big financial stories of the past year, and their implications for your wallet.
By Linda Stern
(Reuters) – Sigh. A lot of people are predicting more of the same for 2012: Another year of stock market volatility, high unemployment, banking industry upheaval, weak housing and more talk about Facebook, mobile commerce, 401(k) plans and taxes.
But maybe that’s just because it’s hard to envision change. Not everything will stay the same. For example, a year from now, we’ll not be having weekly Republican presidential debates, and we will most likely know who the President will be in 2013. Conventional wisdom holds that by this time next year, Facebook will be a publicly traded company and not just a huge time suck.
By Linda Stern
(Reuters) – Here’s the big tax story for 2011: Do you know who your dependents are?
That may sound silly but it’s a big money question, and in this day of multi-generational households, boomerang 20-somethings, aging parents, gay marriages, blended families and domestic partnerships, it’s not an easy one to answer.