Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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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.

Feb 9, 2012

PERSONAL FINANCE: Will that housing deal help you?

WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (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.

Feb 8, 2012

Stern Advice: Watch for that mutual fund pop

WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (Reuters) – Next month, something
very dramatic is going to happen to most stock mutual funds. In
fact, it’s already started to happen.

The dramatic event is this: Those funds will hit the
three-year anniversary of the nadir of the market in March 2009.
And that means their three-year-return numbers will start to
look amazingly good.

Feb 8, 2012

Take that: Best tax breaks to grab now

Feb 8 (Reuters) – Until the current tax system is
completely reformed, we Americans have the right to life,
liberty, the pursuit of happiness and our cherished tax
deductions.

It’s not cheating to take every writeoff that is legally
available to you; it’s just good common sense. If you skip one,
you’re just leaving money on the table.

Feb 8, 2012

Tax headaches? Where to find help for free

Feb 8 (Reuters) – Even if your financial situation
isn’t complex, your taxes might be. That’s why the Internal
Revenue Service and some private nonprofits offer free tax
preparation and counseling for older people and low-income
filers who need to know their way around myriad credits and
other provisions.

Commercial tax preparation programs have jumped in, too,
providing at least stripped-down versions of their programs for
free. Here’s where to go now if you want help on your taxes, but
you don’t want to pay for it.

    • 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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