Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Jun 20, 2012

Stern Advice: The Supreme Court, healthcare and you

WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) – Within a week, the U.S.
Supreme Court is likely to rule on the landmark 2010 health care
law that President Obama – for better or worse – made the
centerpiece of his initial time in office.

Conventional wisdom holds that the court will ‘vote’ mostly
along party lines w ith a 50-50 chance of invalidating at least
th e p art of the program that requires Americans to buy health
insurance. But that means the high court is equally likely to
uphold the law, much of which has not gone into effect yet.

Jun 13, 2012

Stern Advice-Are old variable annuities the best?

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) – The variable annuity market
has been sending some very mixed signals lately. Sales are down,
several key players have exited the market, yet assets in the
insurance products reached an all-time high of $1.61 trillion in
the first quarter of the year.

What does that mean? One simple answer is that investors are
holding a lot of money in older variable annuities that grew
along with the stock market in the beginning of the year.
Perhaps the policies are so old the holders may be free of the
surrender charges faced by investors who dump annuities within
the first few years of holding them.

Jun 6, 2012

Stern Advice: The cheap new trend in investing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – How cheap can investing get? We’re about to find out.

A new brokerage site will allow individual investors to build big research-driven stock portfolios for pennies. And a new investment advice site is providing tailored portfolio guidance for free.

Jun 5, 2012

Stern Advice: Are GM-like pension offers a good deal?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Over the next few weeks some 42,000 white-collar General Motors retirees will take a crash course in actuarial math.

The company is ending their pension plan, forcing a decision on whether to take a lump sum or accept a private group annuity from Prudential that would replace GM’s monthly pension benefits dollar for dollar.

May 30, 2012

Stern Advice-Tax apocalypse in your retirement account

WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) – Amid all the gloom and doom
about forced retirement, skyrocketing healthcare costs and nest
egg-cracking financial markets, there’s another threat facing
baby boomers: future tax liabilities.

The generation that has depended solely on 401(k)s and
tax-deferred individual retirement accounts may not realize how
much of a tax hit it will take when it starts withdrawing the
money and living on it.

May 23, 2012

Stern Advice-Investors pressed to go alternative

WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuters) – If you work with an
investment adviser, there’s a decent chance that sometime during
the last year, you’ve had a conversation about alternative
investments.

There’s also a decent chance you emerged from that
conversation without understanding exactly what your adviser was
talking about. Don’t feel bad – there’s a lot of jargon
surrounding what Robert Maloney, a Holderness, New Hampshire,
financial adviser, calls “the flavor of the day.”

May 16, 2012

Stern Advice: How to vet that investment adviser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Securities and Exchange Commission is taking its own sweet time coming up with a rule that would make all investment advisers put their clients’ interest first.

Almost a year and a half after saying it was going to pursue this so-called “fiduciary standard,” the agency seems stuck. That’s because it is trying to contort the standard in such a way that brokers who are paid commissions to sell products could fit under that definition.

May 9, 2012

Stern Advice-Good student debt, bad student debt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It wasn’t that long ago that high school seniors and their parents met astronomical college loans with a shrug and a signature: Whatever it took to send junior to his “first choice” school was a small price to pay.

Now, opinion seems to have moved 180 degrees in the opposite direction. With total student loan indebtedness topping $1 trillion and outpacing total credit card or auto loan debt, many are talking about the “bubble” in college financing. Any loan is a bad loan and students who take them out will soon be trapped in interest-impoverished lifestyles, goes the new argument.

May 9, 2012

Stern Advice-Good student debt, bad student debt

WASHINGTON, May 9 (Reuters) – It wasn’t that long ago that
high school seniors and their parents met astronomical college
loans with a shrug and a signature: Whatever it took to send
junior to his “first choice” school was a small price to pay.

Now, opinion seems to have moved 180 degrees in the opposite
direction. With total student loan indebtedness topping $1
trillion and outpacing total credit card or auto loan debt, many
are talking about the “bubble” in college financing. Any loan is
a bad loan and students who take them out will soon be trapped
in interest-impoverished lifestyles, goes the new argument.

May 2, 2012

Stern Advice: Should you retire with a mortgage?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pay off the house before you retire. That’s the conventional wisdom, and there’s some evidence that people are following it.

Older families aggressively rid themselves of mortgages between 2007 and 2009, according to Federal Reserve data. Some 45.5 percent of households headed by people between 65 and 74 had mortgages in 2007; by 2009, only 41.6 of the same households held home loans. Only 15.1 percent of households headed by people over 75 (in 2007) still had mortgages in 2009.

    • About Linda

      "Linda Stern is an award-winning personal finance journalist who loves to write about how the big picture affects your pocketbook. A former contributing editor at Newsweek magazine and a long-time Reuters columnist, Stern covers everything from credit cards to retirement planning to investing. As a Washington-based correspondent, she sneaks in as much tax and economic policy as her editors will allow. She tweets at www.twitter.com/LindaStern. And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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