Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Mar 2, 2012

When your bank doesn’t want you

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Tensions between banks and consumers were at fever pitch last fall, when Bank of America tried unsuccessfully to make a $5 monthly debit card fee stick and consumer activists took to the parks and asked customers to move their money on “Bank Transfer Day.”

Now those tensions are rising again, but don’t expect the banks to back down like BofA did. It’s not because consumers are any less upset: A report that the megabank was simply considering new checking account fees was met with an immediate press release from Consumers Union calling on Bank of America “to drop its latest fee scheme.”

Mar 1, 2012

Stern Advice: When your bank doesn’t want you

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) – Tensions between banks
and consumers were at fever pitch last fall, when Bank of
America tried unsuccessfully to make a $5 monthly debit card fee
stick and consumer activists took to the parks and asked
customers to move their money on “Bank Transfer Day.”

Now those tensions are rising again, but don’t expect the
banks to back down like BofA did. It’s not because
consumers are any less upset: A report that the megabank was
simply considering new checking account fees was met with an
immediate press release from Consumers Union calling on Bank of
America “to drop its latest fee scheme.”

Feb 29, 2012

The last 401(k) generation?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Will the baby boomers be the only generation to retire with 401(k) plans? It could happen.

Last week many of the nation’s biggest thinkers on retirement got together in a Senate hearing room to discuss the future of pensions and retirement. There were representatives of unions, employers, financial services providers, government agencies and consumer groups. And the only thing they all seemed to agree on was this: The 401(k) plan has been sort of a failure.

Feb 29, 2012

Stern Advice: The last 401(k) generation?

WASHINGTON, Feb 29 (Reuters) – Will the baby boomers
be the only generation to retire with 401(k) plans? It could
happen.

Last week many of the nation’s biggest thinkers on
retirement got together in a Senate hearing room to discuss the
future of pensions and retirement. There were representatives of
unions, employers, financial services providers, government
agencies and consumer groups. And the only thing they all seemed
to agree on was this: The 401(k) plan has been sort of a
failure.

Feb 22, 2012

Buy a house, and other forced savings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – This is America Saves Week, one of those artificial holidays designed to convey a message. And the message is: Save more money.

Oh, sure – we are all supposed to be saving more. But raise your hand if you have any cash left at the end of the month to plunk into that savings account. That’s what I thought. Keep your hand up if you are underwhelmed by the 0.4 percent interest your bank is offering you on that account.

Feb 22, 2012

Stern Advice: Buy a house, and other forced savings

WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (Reuters) – This is America Saves
Week, one of those artificial holidays designed to convey a
message. And the message is: Save more money.

Oh, sure – we are all supposed to be saving more. But raise
your hand if you have any cash left at the end of the month to
plunk into that savings account. That’s what I thought. Keep
your hand up if you are underwhelmed by the 0.4 percent interest
your bank is offering you on that account.

Feb 15, 2012

Stern Advice: When you lose money while you sleep

WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Anyone who invests in
individual stocks should be aware that they could lose – a lot -
while they are sleeping.

One recent morning, shareholders awoke to learn that
Internet 2.0 darling Groupon had dropped 11 percent from its
previous close before it even opened. Another popular networking
site, TripAdvisor, dropped 17 percent. The big loser that same
night was Diamond Foods, which announced a management shakeup
and an accounting problem after the market closed. It lost 41.4
percent of its value before it opened the next morning.

Feb 13, 2012

What’s in that Obama budget for you?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – There’s more than a tad of Robin Hood economics in the fiscal year 2013 budget that President Obama proposed on Monday. It would raise taxes on the wealthy, give some of that cash to the needy, and dole out the rest of it in ways designed to nudge the middle class toward higher education, energy savings, retirement planning and more.

First, the obvious: Don’t race out and trade on the belief that Congress is waiting to rubber stamp this blueprint. The presidential budget is always a political document; in this election year it reads more like campaign talking points than a numbers document. But it may at least be seen as a preview of Obama’s positions during the upcoming tax debate.

Feb 13, 2012

Stern Advice: What’s in that Obama budget for you?

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – There’s more than a tad
of Robin Hood economics in the fiscal year 2013 budget that
President Obama proposed on Monday. It would raise taxes on the
wealthy, give some of that cash to the needy, and dole out the
rest of it in ways designed to nudge the middle class toward
higher education, energy savings, retirement planning and more.

First, the obvious: Don’t race out and trade on the belief
that Congress is waiting to rubber stamp this blueprint. The
presidential budget is always a political document; in this
election year it reads more like campaign talking points than a
numbers document. But it may at least be seen as a preview of
Obama’s positions during the upcoming tax debate.

Feb 9, 2012

Will that housing deal help you?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The housing settlement announced Thursday should make it easier for troubled homeowners to modify their mortgages and escape foreclosure, but it won’t make everyone whole, consumer advocates say.

Those who have already lost their home to foreclosure could get payments of between $1,500 and $2,000. And though the settlement calls for mortgage servicers to reach out to troubled borrowers, it wouldn’t hurt for those waiting homeowners to be a little bit pushy to make sure their issues get addressed quickly.

    • 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."
      Hometown:
      Emerson, N.J.
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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