Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Mar 23, 2011

Stern Advice: Tax breaks, matches can boost charitable gifts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Perhaps you have opened your wallet to help the afflicted in Japan — and before that, Haiti, and New Orleans. And you’ve donated money to your church, the local homeless shelter, symphony and the Boy Scouts.

Now what? First, keep it up. Americans give away more than $300 billion a year and that generosity helps in immeasurable ways.

Mar 21, 2011
via Reuters Money

Taxes: When it pays to procrastinate

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Yes, tax returns are due in less than a month. But who’s got the time to deal with that?

Certainly not Bob Meighan, vice president at TurboTax. He’s too busy dealing with tax season to actually fill in his own forms. “There’s a chance I’ll file by April 18″ when returns are due this year, he says. “I’m a procrastinator.” He often files an extension and slips his taxes in on the last possible day, with extensions, which is October 17 this year.

Mar 16, 2011

Dividend paying stocks — ready for a comeback

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Dividend investors may be about to have their day.

Stalled by recession and regulation, company cash machines are now primed to start paying out more to shareholders.

The signal event in the dividend revival will come sometime soon, perhaps within weeks, when the Federal Reserve gives banks the green light to resume dividends. The banks have been working under restraints that date to the Fed’s bailouts of 2008.

Mar 16, 2011
via Reuters Money

What if you can’t pay your taxes?

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Getting to the end of your 1040 form and finding a balance due isn’t fun, though at least you can pat yourself on the back for not having made a free loan to the U.S. Treasury. But knowing that you don’t have the money to pay that bill can make you really miserable.

Here’s are seven ways to keep the payments — and the misery — to a minimum.

Mar 16, 2011

Stern Advice: Taking care of your 90-year-old self

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Here’s the greatest challenge to retirement planning: You may live a very, very long time.

That may sound like a silly “problem” — the kind of thing that only an actuary would worry about. But, in fact, the always-improving possibility that you could see your 90s or perhaps live beyond 100 is what makes it so difficult to manage that retirement nest egg.

Mar 15, 2011

Workers gloomier than ever about retirement: new survey

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) – American workers are more
pessimistic about their retirement outlook than at any other
time in the last two decades, the Employee Benefit Research
Institute reported on Tuesday.

In its annual Retirement Confidence Survey, it found that
worker expectations for their later years withered in the face
of high unemployment, government budget problems, rising health
care costs, lower investment returns and other factors.

Mar 10, 2011
via Reuters Money

Cap One makes big offer to match your miles: fine print here

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Capital One just laid down a deal that is worth reporting: Sign up for its Capital One Venture Card, and the company will give you as many airline miles as you already have. The company kicked off its “Match My Miles Challenge” this morning (March 10) by offering to match as many as 100,000 miles per customer, on a first-come, first-serve basis, until it has given out one billion miles.

“This is an especially good offer,” says Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com, a card comparison website. It’s “one of the most generous new offers to emerge during a season when credit card companies have significantly intensified their marketing efforts.”

Mar 9, 2011

Stern Advice: Busting retirement myths

WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) – Our nation’s retirement
system is a hot topic. In addition to frequent surveys finding
that Americans are ill-prepared and worried about retirement,
there are statehouse disputes about whether public pensions are
too fat.

There is debate in Washington on how to fix Social
Security, and if that is even necessary. And policy wonks,
including some in the Treasury Department, are discussing how
to tinker with 401(k) plans to make them better.

Mar 9, 2011

Stern Advice: Tax breaks for the Sandwich Generation

WASHINGTON, Feb 23 (Reuters) – What can you do when your
parents are struggling to pay medical bills and your kids can’t
land jobs? Why, write checks, of course!

Being surrounded by loved ones can be a costly proposition.
Much has been made of the recession’s effect on recent college
graduates; they’re pouring lattes and surfing sofas. And aging
parents can run through money at rates that would challenge
Donald Trump’s next wife.

Mar 9, 2011
via Reuters Money

Are big down payments better for home buyers?

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Ouch!

My friendly neighborhood blogger, Felix Salmon, took after me big time for my post about why it doesn’t pay to wait while you save up for a down payment. Here’s a sample: “Linda’s on a roll here and manages to come out with one of the most astonishing pieces of personal-finance advice I’ve seen.”

My astonishing advice? You’re better off getting into a house now, while mortgage rates are near historic lows and housing prices are down sharply from their highs. Instead of spending five or more years paying rent and accumulating a down payment, borrow more now, and keep your savings for yourself.

    • 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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