Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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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.

Sep 8, 2011
via Reuters Money

What new jumbo mortgage rules mean for expensive zip codes

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On Oct. 1, the size of mortgages eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will shrink. That isn’t necessarily a big deal in most parts of the country; the new lower limit of $625,500 — down from today’s $729,750 — still is big enough to cover most homes in almost all markets in the United States.

Furthermore, mortgage bankers are stepping up with new money to cover those bigger loans, reports Mortgage Daily. “Programs here and there are popping up,” says publisher Sam Garcia. He reports that some new lenders, including TMS Funding and New Penn Financial LLC, are launching programs that will make mortgages as big as $2 million available to lenders with good credit scores and enough cash to keep up with the payments. And many existing mortgage lenders currently will make those so-called “jumbo” loans and just keep them in their portfolios instead of selling them.

Sep 7, 2011

Stern Advice: It’s time to rock your Roth

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Tax year 2010 lives, at least
for another month, and that means people who made Roth IRA
decisions last year can revisit them until Oct. 17. Savers who
converted retirement money to a Roth IRA last year may find a
little time travel — and reversal of those decisions –
worthwhile.

That’s just one of several significant savings opportunities
presented by Roth IRAs. Because of tax law changes and stock
market gyrations. it’s worth diving into the sometimes-tedious
rules and regulations that govern that whole area.

Aug 31, 2011

Stern Advice: Lessons from my mother’s money

WASHINGTON (Reuters)- My mother passed away recently, a few months before her 91st birthday, after having spent the better part of the last 70 years smoking heavily and avoiding exercise whenever possible. But this isn’t a health article, it’s a financial one, and on that score I have learned a lot from my mother.

She was really smart about money, though she never had huge amounts of it. And she had a real-life experience that departed in many ways from the retirement scenarios that academics and financial companies churn out daily.

Aug 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Are you set to fight your insurer?

WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) – The morning after Hurricane
Irene blew through their Takoma Park, Maryland, neighborhood,
homeowners Michael Desautels and Susan Hearn awoke to find a
giant holly-leafed cherry tree nestled precariously in some
broken tiles on their roof.

Hearn called State Farm, the company that holds their
homeowners policy and boasts on its web site, “we’re here to
help… Ready to respond to Hurricane Irene.”

Aug 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Are you set to fight your insurer?

WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) – The morning after Hurricane
Irene blew through their Takoma Park, Maryland, neighborhood,
homeowners Michael Desautels and Susan Hearn awoke to find a
giant holly-leafed cherry tree nestled precariously in some
broken tiles on their roof.

Hearn called State Farm, the company that holds their
homeowners policy and boasts on its web site, “we’re here to
help… Ready to respond to Hurricane Irene.”

Aug 29, 2011

Irene claims: Are you set to fight your insurer?

WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (Reuters) – The morning after Hurricane
Irene blew through their Takoma Park, Maryland, neighborhood,
homeowners Michael Desautels and Susan Hearn awoke to find a
giant holly-leafed cherry tree nestled precariously in some
broken tiles on their roof.

Hearn called State Farm, the company that holds their
homeowners policy and boasts on its web site, “we’re here to
help… Ready to respond to Hurricane Irene.”

    • 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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