Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Sep 28, 2011

Stern Advice: Upstart banks want your checking account

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – The big boys like Bank of
America and Citibank are having problems with share prices and
profitability, and the upstarts are hitting them while they’re
down.

New banks and bank-like companies including BankSimple and
PerkStreet are creating cheaper online accounts. Traditional
niche players like credit unions and community banks are
banding together in networks to grab your business. Online-only
banks like ING Direct and Ally Bank are pushing their higher
interest rates on savings.

Sep 23, 2011
via Reuters Money

Financial tech coming to a phone or wallet near you

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Maybe you think you’re up to date on the latest financial apps and mobile solutions, but unless you are updating your money life every five minutes, you aren’t. Behind the scenes, scores of companies are throwing money at digitizing you, your cash and (even more popular than money these days) your consumer profile.

Recently I had a chance to check many of them out. I spent two days at Finovate, a financial technology conference run by Online Banking Report. It’s a cool meeting — in two days roughly 60 different companies present seven minute versions of their best selves. Usually they do this before they are fully up and running for consumers, so not everything is ready for prime time yet.

Sep 21, 2011

Stern Advice: What to do if buried in student loans

WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) – It’s a tough time to be a
former student. The lousy job market is bad enough, but two in
three recent graduates are carrying education loans averaging
$24,000. Graduates from high-priced schools may have double or
triple that amount of debt, and not any more luck finding
well-paid jobs.

Defaults are up, the Department of Education just reported.
But in most cases, simply not paying isn’t a real option; it’s
easier to walk away from a house than from a student loan.

Sep 20, 2011

Are annuities the next bubble?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Not too long ago, if you mentioned the word “annuity” to investors, their eyes glazed over. But now individual investors, panicked by stock market selloffs that threaten their retirement dreams, have been doing something they have never done before: asking for them.

Paradoxically, they are looking for these retirement insurance products that come with guarantees at a time when many annuity payouts are puny, thanks to ultra-low interest rates.

Sep 20, 2011

Personal Finance: Are annuities the next bubble?

WASHINGTON, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Not too long ago, if you
mentioned the word “annuity” to investors, their eyes glazed
over. But now individual investors, panicked by stock market
selloffs that threaten their retirement dreams, have been doing
something they have never done before: asking for them.

Paradoxically, they are looking for these retirement
insurance products that come with guarantees at a time when
many annuity payouts are puny, thanks to ultra-low interest
rates.

Sep 19, 2011

Amid uncertainty, three sure things on tax plan

NEW YORK (Reuters)– Maybe President Obama’s $1.5 trillion tax hike proposal will pass Congress, and maybe — as many instant analysts jumped to predict — it won’t.

He swears that if Congress doesn’t hike taxes on the wealthy, he’ll veto any other deficit-cutting, budget-cutting plan that ends up on his desk.

Sep 19, 2011

Personal Finance-Amid uncertainty, three sure things on tax plan

NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Reuters)– Maybe President Obama’s $1.5
trillion tax hike proposal will pass Congress, and maybe — as
many instant analysts jumped to predict — it won’t.

He swears that if Congress doesn’t hike taxes on the
wealthy, he’ll veto any other deficit-cutting, budget-cutting
plan that ends up on his desk.

Sep 14, 2011

Stern Advice: What all those retirement studies get wrong

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Another day, another academic study about how retirees should draw down their savings to make sure they last a lifetime.

Because of the explosive growth of privately owned plans like 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, “the study of retirement savings draw-down has exploded in recent years,” the Society of Actuaries has observed. And yet, when that group reviewed more than 100 papers on the subject recently, it found the same problems with study after study.

Sep 13, 2011

401(k) break at risk as policymakers mull retirement shift

WASHINGTON, Sept 13 (Reuters) – U.S. retirement programs
could look different if a grand deficit-cutting bargain is
struck in upcoming negotiations.

On Thursday, the powerful Senate Finance Committee will
explore “Tax Reform Options: Promoting Retirement Security.”
Despite the sleepy title, the hearing will be one of the first
outward signs of something that’s been actively discussed
privately all over this city in recent weeks and months: How
to tweak retirement to make 401(k) plans more efficient, keep
Social Security afloat and save some money for the federal
Treasury.

Sep 12, 2011
via Reuters Money

Workers regret their health benefit choices: survey

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Within a few weeks, employees across the U.S. will start to see their healthcare benefit packages for 2012: They’ll find higher premium costs, more coverage restrictions and myriad choices on items like deductibles, flexible spending account contributions, vision and dental coverage and more. If this year is like others, almost half of those employees will make decisions they later regret.

That’s the findings of a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive and due to be released tomorrow as part of the Aflac WorkForces Report. Reuters received the findings early.

    • 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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