WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When Kellie and Michael May decided to refinance their home in the New York suburbs, they wanted to take advantage of historically low interest rates. But before landing a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, they had to get through a home appraisal.
“It was a major stumbling block,” says Kellie May, who has owned the 4-bedroom, 3-bath colonial for seven years. Not that she and her husband were unprepared; they’d been through an appraisal for another refinance in 2010, so they knew to point out improvements they’d made to the 3,400 square foot home, and supply prices for other neighborhood properties that had sold recently.
New York, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Having just earned his master’s
degree in written communication, Eric Kaplan should feel
triumphant. But his academic success has been tempered by a
failure outside the classroom: He can’t find health insurance he
can afford on his earnings as a freelance writer.
Like many other Americans waiting for key provisions of the
Affordable Care Act to kick in, Kaplan, 32, of Chicago, is
adopting a novel strategy for protecting his health. He applied
for another master’s degree, this time in social work, because
his target school offers health insurance to students.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – The December holidays stretch the budgets of the most financially secure families, but they pose special challenges for military personnel, their spouses and kids.
From frequent moves and post-deployment unemployment to disability and post-traumatic stress, many obstacles loom as these families struggle just to make ends meet, let alone have a joyous holiday celebration.
NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) – After seven years as a New York
City hotel concierge and 10 years running a concierge firm,
Michael Fazio certainly has his opinions on how to appropriately
tip during the holidays. But if you think he recommends playing
Santa Claus with every service employee who crosses your path,
guess again. (Neither does he espouse a Scrooge philosophy.)
As you come to grips with how much to tip people for the
holidays, your own finances should be the main consideration. To
keep control of spending and give appropriate gifts to the right
people in your life, you need to plan ahead.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – With superstorm Sandy causing an estimated $50 billion in damages, residents of the U.S. Northeast region face untold months of home repair and rebuilding. Even home improvement experts like Tom Kraeutler were affected, although the New Jersey shore resident fared much better than his neighbors.
“Thankfully, we had installed a natural gas-powered standby generator years ago,” says Kraeutler, an author and co-host of “The Money Pit” radio program. “It ran for seven days straight and kept most of the home’s essential circuits going.”
NEW YORK, Nov 16 (Reuters) – With superstorm Sandy causing
an estimated $50 billion in damages, residents of the U.S.
Northeast region face untold months of home repair and
rebuilding. Even home improvement experts like Tom Kraeutler
were affected, although the New Jersey shore resident fared much
better than his neighbors.
“Thankfully, we had installed a natural gas-powered standby
generator years ago,” says Kraeutler, an author and co-host of
“The Money Pit” radio program. “It ran for seven days straight
and kept most of the home’s essential circuits going.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Leave it to a financial adviser like Christopher Clayton of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, to keep a running tab on how much Superstorm Sandy has cost him out of his own pocket — money that no insurance company or federal emergency agency is going to cover.
Clayton says he is looking at close to $7,500 in expenses, and he’s still counting. He paid $2,000 to clear the cracked portion of a 100-year-old tree from his yard; his homeowner’s insurance only covers removal if the tree hit his house. There was the $700 in extra child care and close to $5,000 in lost business, in part because he’s been without a personal assistant for close to a week — she got stranded on Long Island during the storm and wasn’t able to get into the office for days.
By Lou Carlozo
(Reuters) – Bernhard Kappe, the chief executive officer of Chicago’s Pathfinder Software, steps up to a dry erase board and draws a crude graph, its slope curves upward. Then he plots a point in the middle to show where the city’s web entrepreneurs stand in terms of growth and progress.
“These things take 20 years to get to maturity, and they’re not linear,” says Kappe, who’s also an executive director of the Chicago Lean Startup Circle, a group that fosters local website development. “But we’re six to seven years in, and definitely in an acceleration stage.”
(The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)
By Lou Carlozo
(Reuters) – This past New Year’s Eve, any impulse I had to ring in 2012 on a high note was drowned out by alarm bells from Uncle Sam.
On that day, my wife and I received separate eight-page letters from the Internal Revenue Service informing us that we were being audited for the 2009 tax year. It was, to say the least, no cause for breaking out champagne and noisemakers. In fact, it seemed like a cruel twist: 2009 was the year I was laid off by the Chicago Tribune after 16 years of full-time employment. I then entered the freelance ranks, where I’ve remained ever since.
NEW YORK, Oct 5 (Reuters) – At 68, Barbara Miller Elegbede
is living proof that flower children need not grow up.
A self-described hippie, she attended a San Francisco
college at psychedelia’s height and remembers friends constantly
crashing on the couch of her apartment, just a block away from
Janis Joplin’s pad in the hip Castro neighborhood.