Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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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.

Oct 12, 2011

Stern Advice: Learning to love the volatility

WASHINGTON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – Whiplash!

On 18 different trading days in September the Dow Jones
industrial average swung by at least 200 points. In one week,
it moved more than 400 points a day for four days straight. One
day last week, on Oct. 4, it abruptly reversed a sharp drop to
jump more than 400 points in less than an hour at the close.

Get used to it. Those sharp swings are likely to be part of
the landscape, as trigger happy computer traders move large
amounts of money in and out of stocks in seconds, while the
market’s long-term direction remains uncertain in the absence
of clear signs from Europe, the U.S. economy, federal deficit
cutters and more.

Oct 5, 2011

Stern Advice: It’s time to take your own tax cut

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) — If tax season is that time
in the spring when you do the math and pay your dues, this is
anti-tax season — the three months at the end of the year when
you can do something about cutting your personal tax bill.

With three months left of 2011, it pays to be strategic
about your spending, saving and giving. Here are the best moves
to make now, to make sure you pay as little as possible later:

Oct 4, 2011

Analysis: New retirement fund lawsuit spotlights concerns

NEW YORK (Reuters) – While workers can’t do much when a stock market sell-off hits their 401(k) balances, they can speak up about poor investment choices and unreasonable plan fees. Now, more are taking those complaints to the courts as they bring lawsuits against employers they believe have allowed poorly-performing and overly-expensive funds into their retirement plans.

The most recent 401(k) fee lawsuit was filed last week against Ameriprise Financial Inc, which bills itself as “America’s leader in financial planning.” The suit, which was brought on behalf of several employees and is seeking class action status, alleges the financial firm pushed workers into expensive and untested proprietary funds at a cost the lawyers for the employees say is more than $20 million.

    • 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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