Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Nov 2, 2011

Stern Advice: Even fiduciaries can give bad advice

WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The Madoffs are back in the
news — this time flogging books instead of scam investments.

Still, just seeing Ruth Madoff and her husband, Bernie, on
television are reminders to already-nervous investors that it
can be very hard to know whom to trust with their money.

Oct 31, 2011

Storm-slammed may eat costs along with that extra candy

WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) – More than a couple of
million homes remained without power on Monday after a
record-breaking Halloween weekend snowstorm ripped through the
Northeast. That’s not just annoying and inconvenient; it’s

Many of those people still sitting in the dark will face
extra costs, like spoiled food in the fridge and lost work time
when their laptop’s battery runs out. They may have to eat
those expenses, just like the big pile of candy they’ll be
stuck with when trick or treaters can’t make it through the
snowdrifts to their homes.

Oct 26, 2011

Stern Advice: Reverse mortgages appeal to younger homeowners

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The typical reverse mortgage
borrower isn’t who you think she is. Instead of the elderly
woman you may be picturing, think of a married couple who is a
bit younger.

New reverse mortgage applicants tend to be clustered around
ages 62 and 63, according to Peter Bell, president of the
National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. And they are as
likely to be couples as singletons.

Oct 26, 2011

Analysis: How to get your piece of Obama’s student loan relief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s new student loan relief plan may be less than meets the eye: It will not do anything to alleviate the pain for the millions of borrowers who have private student loans, and its centerpiece merely accelerates by two years a program to lighten the load for low-earning federal borrowers.

While it may not solve all troubles related to the almost $1 trillion in education indebtedness now burdening graduates and dropouts alike, it does have the potential to help millions of federal borrowers lower their payments or their interest rates — if they play their cards right. And it may be as far as a president is able to go without congressional action.

Oct 26, 2011

US college costs outpace inflation -College Board

Oct 26 (Reuters) – The cost of college in the United States
rose sharply for the 2011-2012 school year, continuing a multiyear
pattern in which public school increases outpaced private school
hikes and both eclipsed the average rate of inflation by
significant amounts, the College Board reported on Wednesday.

At public 4-year schools, average tuition and fees rose 8.3
percent to $8,244 for in-state students and 5.7 percent to $20,770
for out-of-state students, not including room, board, or extra
expenses like travel, laptops and midnight pizzas.

Oct 25, 2011

Analysis: Employee disability benefits get costlier, complicated

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Like just about every other workplace benefit, disability insurance is becoming something workers have to manage and pay for, at least partially, themselves.

In the current open enrollment season for 2012 benefits, more employers are asking workers to put some of their own money up for high-end disability coverage. “We are seeing some gradual slide to more employee financial responsibility for long-term coverage,” reports Rich Fuerstenberg, a partner with benefits consultant Mercer. “The employers who used to provide the entire cost now may provide a core benefit and allow workers to buy up their coverage.”

Oct 19, 2011

Q and A: Should investors be worrying about their ETFs?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Securities and Exchange Commission launched a broad, agency-wide review of exchange traded funds on Wednesday, and individual investors may be wondering if they should be worrying about, or avoiding, ETFs now.

The SEC unveiled its plans at a Senate subcommittee hearing amid complaints that the $1 trillion ETF industry is fueling market volatility and creating risks for small investors.

Oct 19, 2011

Humphrey takes on senior scams at $3 trillion and counting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal financial regulators on Wednesday created a new Office of Older Americans to focus on the financial abuses they say cost seniors some $3 trillion a year.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau named Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III, who is on the board of the AARP, to direct the office and focus on such issues as reverse mortgages and retiree bankruptcies.

Oct 19, 2011

Stern Advice: How to pay for early retirement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The longer you work, the better, retirement experts will tell you. Plow on until you’re 70 and you’ll make more, have fewer years of retirement to fund, and collect a fatter Social Security check. But that’s not always desirable, or possible.

People often retire in their early 60s because they can’t get a job, they aren’t healthy enough to work, or they’re just sick of the 9-to-5 grind and want to begin the next part of their lives.

Oct 12, 2011

What the Harrisburg, Pa., bankruptcy means for you

WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – Wednesday’s bankruptcy
filing by Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, may create some turmoil for
those focused on the city’s budget, but individual investors
with money in munis don’t need to panic.

Most professional bond investors had spent the better part
of the year distancing themselves from Harrisburg holdings, so
they aren’t held by big popular vehicles like Vanguard’s
tax-free bond funds.

    • 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 And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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