Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
Linda's Feed
Apr 24, 2013

Stern Advice – Have fun now, retire later

WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) – By the time you are nearing
the pre-retirement years, you’ve probably heard all that
nose-to-the-grindstone advice hundreds of times: Work longer.
Cinch the belt tighter. Plow as much as possible into your
401(k) because you might live to be 100 and you’ll need that
money later.

Yes, but what if? As in, what if you are impatient to start
doing some of that travel you planned to do when you retire?
What if you don’t want to defer the tennis lessons or
woodworking shop or multi-generational family trip until you are
70? What if you don’t expect to live forever?

Apr 17, 2013

New strategies for tuition-panicked parents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – This is the time of year when high school seniors start to calm down and their parents start to get anxious. The students have received those coveted college acceptance letters, so they know they are going to go somewhere. But how will Mom and Dad scrape up the money to pay for it?

As has been widely reported, the numbers are significant. some schools have breached the $60,000 mark for one year of tuition and fees. The interest rates on federal student loans are slated to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent come July 1, unless Congress acts before then. And independent financial aid advisers like Fred Amrein in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, say they see schools increasingly optimizing their funds to drive the most money to the students they want the most.

Apr 17, 2013

Stern Advice – New strategies for tuition-panicked parents

WASHINGTON, April 17 (Reuters) – This is the time of year
when high school seniors start to calm down and their parents
start to get anxious. The students have received those coveted
college acceptance letters, so they know they are going to go
somewhere. But how will Mom and Dad scrape up the money to pay
for it?

As has been widely reported, the numbers are significant.
some schools have breached the $60,000 mark for one year of
tuition and fees. The interest rates on federal student loans
are slated to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent come July
1, unless Congress acts before then. And independent financial
aid advisers like Fred Amrein in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, say
they see schools increasingly optimizing their funds to drive
the most money to the students they want the most.

Apr 10, 2013

Your skin in Washington’s budget game

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The budget that President Barack Obama unveiled on Wednesday has a long way to go before any part of it becomes law. It is basically his opening play in a long game that will involve the House, the Senate and countless lobbyists.

That game may never end – Congress hasn’t passed a unified budget resolution since 2009. Federal programs have mainly been funded in a piecemeal way through so-called continuing resolutions that often keep money flowing without addressing policy.

Apr 10, 2013

Stern Advice-Your skin in Washington’s budget game

WASHINGTON, April 10 (Reuters) – The budget that President
Barack Obama unveiled on Wednesday has a long way to go before
any part of it becomes law. It is basically his opening play in
a long game that will involve the House, the Senate and
countless lobbyists.

That game may never end – Congress hasn’t passed a unified
budget resolution since 2009. Federal programs have mainly been
funded in a piecemeal way through so-called continuing
resolutions that often keep money flowing without addressing
policy.

Apr 3, 2013

Bad behavior persists in 401(k) accounts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Yes, stocks have been on a real tear lately, but guess who hasn’t been along for the ride: The millions of 401(k) investors who “moved to safety” after the 2008-2009 market and never felt comfortable enough to move back to stocks.

Participants in 401(k) plans ended 2012 with less than half of their assets invested in stocks, down from 59 percent at the end of 2006, Chicago-based Spectrem Group reported on Tuesday. That’s despite the fact that the S&P 500 stock index rose 6.4 percent over that period and has more than doubled since it hit bottom in March 2009.

Apr 3, 2013

Stern Advice-Bad behavior persists in 401(k) accounts

WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) – Yes, stocks have been on a
real tear lately, but guess who hasn’t been along for the ride:
The millions of 401(k) investors who “moved to safety” after the
2008-2009 market and never felt comfortable enough to move back
to stocks.

Participants in 401(k) plans ended 2012 with less than half
of their assets invested in stocks, down from 59 percent at the
end of 2006, Chicago-based Spectrem Group reported on Tuesday.
That’s despite the fact that the S&P 500 stock index rose 6.4
percent over that period and has more than doubled since it hit
bottom in March 2009.

Mar 20, 2013

Stern Advice: New math for old mortgages

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply refinance your own high-interest mortgage, without going through a bank or paying closing costs?

In a way, you can, says Keith Gumbinger of HSH.com, a Riverdale, New Jersey, mortgage research firm. His theory is that you can lower your effective interest rate by pre-paying the loan. That’s a strategy that might be especially useful for homeowners who can’t refinance or who have a low balance left on their loans and can’t find a refi deal that is worth its closing costs.

Mar 13, 2013

Identity theft and the IRS, or, Who got my refund?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Here is something the nation’s criminals are quickly learning: There’s no point in getting yourself all dirty with guns and drugs and the sex trade when you can just scam the Internal Revenue Service.

That turns out to be surprisingly easy to do, in this era of high technology and overloaded IRS workers. Tax fraud connected to identity theft has grown exponentially, as bad actors use stolen Social Security numbers to file fake returns and reap undeserved refunds.

Mar 13, 2013

Stern Advice-Identity theft and the IRS, or, Who got my refund?

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) – Here is something the
nation’s criminals are quickly learning: There’s no point in
getting yourself all dirty with guns and drugs and the sex trade
when you can just scam the Internal Revenue Service.

That turns out to be surprisingly easy to do, in this era of
high technology and overloaded IRS workers. Tax fraud connected
to identity theft has grown exponentially, as bad actors use
stolen Social Security numbers to file fake returns and reap
undeserved refunds.

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