Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
Linda's Feed
May 18, 2011
via Reuters Money

Coming soon: A shorter, clearer mortgage form


How much are you borrowing and how much will it cost to pay it back? Those are the key questions that a mortgage disclosure form should answer, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is trying to develop one that will will give it to consumers straight.

The agency is circulating two different versions of a proposed form on a new “Know Before You Owe” website and asking consumers to vote on which one they like better. The agency intends to propose a new federally required form shortly after it officially launches on July 21, 2011.

May 13, 2011
via Reuters Money

Recession’s price tag: $2,300 a year


The so-called “Great Recession” has taken a permanent bite out of everyone’s retirement and not just at a macro level. Today’s workers will lose an average of $2,300 a year each in retirement benefits because of the anemic wage growth which started in 2008, according to a new study written by Urban Institute analysts and released by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. Younger workers and wealthier workers will lose even more.

The study came as Social Security and Medicare trustees reported that both of those programs would run out of money earlier than had been expected. Medicare will exhaust its funds in 2024, not 2029, and Social Security will run out of money in 2036, not 2037, the trustees said. Legislators may be prompted by those findings to shore up or revise those programs, but even if they do, that would not reverse the decline projected by Urban Institute study authors Barbara A. Butrica, Richard W. Johnson and Karen E. Smith.

May 11, 2011

Stern Advice: Here comes that $400 billion mortgage reset

WASHINGTON, May 11 (Reuters) – Remember way back in 2006,
when everyone was in a frenzy to buy a house, any house, with
whatever mortgage they could grab? In many cases, it meant
signing up for adjustable-rate mortgages that would reset in
half a decade.

Move forward those five years and here we are. For the next
13 months, some $20 billion in adjustable-rate loans are
scheduled to reset every month, according to figures from
Credit Suisse.

May 9, 2011

Analysis: Americans try to outrun state, local tax hikes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Alan Dlugash is a New York accountant who specializes in high net worth Manhattanites, but lately he’s been fielding a lot of calls from clients in neighboring states — Connecticut and New Jersey.

“The big deal right now is ‘how do I change my residency?’” he said. And the reason is almost always the same: High local taxes.

May 4, 2011

Stern Advice: Singles, couples face own retirement issues

WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) – Two can live almost as
cheaply as one, but it takes a lot more paperwork.

So say retirement advisers who are starting to take note of
the differences between planning for a single person and
planning for a couple.

Apr 27, 2011

Stern Advice: When it pays to fix up your house

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Psst — want to make a quick 300 percent on your home sale? Plant some shrubs, and spruce up the lighting on your front porch.

That’s what real estate agents are saying. Put $375 into “lightening and brightening” your home, and you will raise the sale price by $1,550, reported in a survey released recently.

Apr 27, 2011
via Reuters Money

Sell in May and go away? Stock strategists not so sure


Anyone who’s been investing for a while has probably heard the homily “Sell in May and go away.” It’s a lilting reminder that the worst time of the year for stocks is usually the summer and the early fall. Going back decades, most of the money made in the stock market is made from November through April.

Some reasons behind this theory: People tend to feed their retirement accounts and invest bonuses early in the year. They go on vacation and ignore the market over the summer. Traders come back in September and dump companies that aren’t performing according to expectations.

Apr 22, 2011
via Reuters Money

Going naked: Why don’t single parents have life insurance?


Here’s a shocker: Almost 70 percent of single parents with children living at home don’t carry life insurance, according to research from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and Genworth Financial.

I’m not one to echo insurance companies and agents when they foist expensive and unnecessary products on consumers, but isn’t this the exact population that most needs insurance? And isn’t plain-vanilla term life insurance just about as cheap as it’s ever been?

Apr 20, 2011

Home buyers try to beat ‘jumbo’ loans squeeze

WASHINGTON, April 19 (Reuters) – Bethany and Karl Schreiber
are hunting for a nice big house in the pricey Washington,
D.C., suburbs and they are facing a deadline: In just a few
months their third child will be born, and the tiny two-bedroom
they’ve been inhabiting will officially get too small.

But there’s a second deadline looming for them as well.
Beginning on Oct. 1, the government will dial back on the size
of mortgages it guarantees in high-cost areas like San
Francisco, New York and Washington.

Apr 20, 2011

Stern Advice: How not to buy an annuity

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) – Suddenly, everyone is
talking about immediate annuities as if they were the answer to
every retirement question.

Unions and other fans of traditional pensions like the
guaranteed income stream these products promise to retiring
workers. Employers, with the Obama Administration’s
encouragement, are trying to figure out how they can offer
annuities to workers who are ready to withdraw money from their
401(k) accounts. Academicians are churning out studies about
how immediate annuities can boost the lifestyles of retirees.
And annuity companies, of course, would be happy with even a
slice of the $17.5 trillion (yes, trillion with a “t”) sitting
in retirement accounts, according to the Investment Company

    • 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."
      Emerson, N.J.
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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