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Jun 28, 2011
via Reuters Money

Best banks and cards for changing dollars to Euros: Study

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If you’re planning a hop across the pond this summer, think carefully about how you’re going to convert your dollars into Euros. Doing it the wrong way could cost you almost 15 cents of every dollar you exchange, according to a new study by Card Hub, a web-based comparison site.

The best way to convert money now is with your credit card; especially if the card is a Visa with no additional currency conversion fee, the study said. Visa was offering the best exchange rates today, at $1.42 per euro.  Next closest was MasterCard cards, offering Euros for $1.43.

Jun 23, 2011
via Reuters Money

Mortgage Poll: Are strategic defaults ethical?

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I know a guy — let’s call him Fred — who has a plan for walking away from his home and the $400,000 mortgage on it.

Fred lives in Phoenix, one of those particularly hard hit real estate markets in a state that prohibits banks from coming after borrowers for additional money once a home has gone into foreclosure. The home he bought for more than $400,000 is now worth about $225,000, by his estimates. He’s saved up quite a bit of money and can keep making the payments. But he’s nearing retirement, and figures that, the way he’s going, he’ll never have home equity.

Jun 22, 2011

Mortgage-skippers may have second home lined up: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – So-called strategic defaulters who voluntarily stop making their mortgage payments are very savvy financially and sometimes line up their next home and loan before they walk, according to a new study.

“They are high income, they are high wealth, they own multiple homes, they have higher … (credit) scores and they are very financially savvy,” said Tracy Bremmer, director of product marketing and management at Experian, the credit reporting agency that issued the study. Reuters obtained a copy in advance of its distribution.

Jun 22, 2011

Mortgage-skippers may have 2nd home lined up-study

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – So-called strategic
defaulters who voluntarily stop making their mortgage payments
are very savvy financially and sometimes line up their next
home and loan before they walk, according to a new study.

“They are high income, they are high wealth, they own
multiple homes, they have higher … (credit) scores and they
are very financially savvy,” said Tracy Bremmer, director of
product marketing and management at Experian, the credit
reporting agency that issued the study. Reuters obtained a copy
in advance of its distribution.

Jun 22, 2011

Stern Advice: Early retiree health care mess may improve

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – Try being over 50 and
finding health insurance in the open market.

Even if you’re in tip-top health, you can expect to pay
three times as much for coverage as a younger person. And with
everything from high blood pressure to a trick knee seen as a
disqualifying pre-existing condition, you may not even qualify
for that rate.

Jun 16, 2011
via Reuters Money

Will ING customers stay happy with CapOne accounts?

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ING Direct customers seem to love their online-only bank, and reports that it may soon be taken over by Capital One Financial Corp. have a few of them worried.

The tenor of reaction comments posted on The Consumerist web site ranged from “I’m sad” and “Noooooooooo…” to unprintable epithets. ING has won a following with competitively high interest rates on savings and checking, and no-fee checking accounts. And CapOne drew complaints from some discontented customers of Bethesda, Maryland-based Chevy Chase Bank after it took over that Washington-area institution.

Jun 16, 2011
via Reuters Money

Is it time to worry about rising prices?

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The economy is still too weak for us to be worrying about inflation. That seems to be the majority view of economists, who are more focused on the prospects of a U.S. government default, a still-struggling housing market and unemployment.

“We don’t think there is a big concern now in terms of rising inflation,” Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector analysis for Charles Schwab, told me in an interview, echoing a common view. “With unemployment relatively high, there’s no wage pressure, and until we see that, there’s not a huge threat of inflation,” he said. “The bond market continues to not show any worry about inflation,” observes Charles Rotblut of the American Association of Individual Investors.

Jun 15, 2011

Stern Advice: Read this before jumping on the ETF bandwagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some stories just seem to end up in the cosmic consciousness: blogged, tweeted and talked about in many different places at the same time. Right now, one of those story lines involves the big smackdown between traditional mutual funds and ETFs.

Several analysts have raised the idea that traditional mutual funds are dying and the future belongs to ETFs, which look like index funds but trade like stocks.

Jun 14, 2011
via Reuters Money

Emerging markets: You don’t get what you pay for

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Roughly $2 billion a month has been flowing into emerging market mutual funds recently, an amount that makes it one of the more popular destinations for nervous U.S. investors in recent weeks.

Underlying those investments are a couple of core beliefs:  (1) That China, India and other growing powerhouses will continue to deliver big returns to investors; and (2) That smart portfolio managers can suss out the best stocks in this space, justifying the higher costs of active management.

Jun 10, 2011
via Reuters Money

Spas: Weak economy creates deals on feel-good services

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There’s one industry that seems to have withstood the tough economy fairly well: the spa business. Maybe getting massaged helps us to forget what’s going on in the market.

Between 2007 and 2009, an additional 2,700 spas (including day spas, destination spas, medi-spas and more) opened in the U.S., bringing the total to 20,600, according to data gathered by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for the International Spa Association.

    • 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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