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May 23, 2012

YOUR MONEY: Will investors take to crowdfunding?

CHICAGO, May 23 (Reuters) – Artists are not renowned for
financial savvy, but their success in raising money on the
Internet through donations to crowdfunding websites like
Kickstarter and Indiegogo could lead the way for a new class of
investing. Soon investors will be able to pile money into
startups through such sites with the hope of getting more than a
lousy t-shirt in return.

Before April 5, U.S. regulators only allowed donation-based
crowdfunding projects, which raise money from the general public
via the Web.

May 18, 2012

Collectors don’t like Facebook memorabilia

CHICAGO, May 18 (Reuters) – Mark Zuckerberg may be worth an
estimated $19 billion, thanks to Facebook’s initial
public offering. But on eBay, he’s worth exactly $375 -
that is, if you choose to purchase a “Mark Zuckerberg Poking
Inventor Action Figure.”

Zuck’s mini-me stands seven inches tall with light brown,
curly hair and a doll-sized pair of his trademark Adidas
sandals. It’s one of only 300 made and the seller is hyping it
as “Just in time for the Facebook IPO.”

May 14, 2012

As commuter marriages soar, so do costs

CHICAGO (Reuters) – When Maria Echevarria was considering a job offer as a publicist in midtown Manhattan – more than 900 miles away from her family home in Orlando, Florida – she knew it would be a hard sell to her spouse. Though they’d been happily married more than 20 years, they’d never lived apart. But like any PR maven, she says: “I pitched my story to him.”

Three months turned into three years, with Echevarria, now 53, spending three weeks a month in New York, and telecommuting the remaining time from Florida. She’s one of the many millions of people in a commuter marriage, where spouses live apart for reasons other than legal separation.

May 2, 2012

What I should have done when I graduated

CHICAGO (Reuters) – There’s no shortage of advice for new college graduates. Everyone from the commencement speaker to the local bartender (who may have been last year’s commencement speaker) has a strong opinion about what you should do. So much often contradictory advice can cancel itself out.

But what if you could jump ahead a decade or two and ask your future self for straight-to-the-heart graduation guidance? Reuters asked people who had the wisdom of hindsight what advice they wish they had heard on graduation day.

Apr 30, 2012

Why parents lie to their kids about money

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Think you don’t lie to your kids about money? A typical dishonest scenario is all too common: A parent says “No” to a $10 item, claiming not to have enough money, but then places a $15 trinket in the shopping cart for himself.

“When you say you can’t afford something when you really can, you’re missing the opportunity to talk about priorities or trade-offs,” says Stuart Ritter, a vice president at T. Rowe Price and a father of three. “Kids are perceptive, and I think we underestimate their readiness to learn this stuff, and their ability to pick up on what you and I are doing.”

Apr 20, 2012

Banker turns WaMu layoff into Hobbit parody

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Since T.S. Eliot’s brief career at Lloyds Bank of London, the connections between banking and literature have remained tenuous at best – especially when you narrow the focus to the genre of “banking-related fantasy novel parodies.”

But that did not stop Paul Erickson, a laid-off trainer of tellers and personal bankers for Washington Mutual, from taking an inspired crack at hilarity with “The Wobbit: A Parody.” With the novel, the 52-year-old from Oak Park, Illinois, twists J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” in a financial funhouse mirror: the dwarves come courtesy of characters he met while training at a variety of financial institutions, including WaMu.

Apr 16, 2012

How tax pros handle their own taxes

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Do accountants do a better job of filing their own taxes?

Ask Elaine Smith, a master tax adviser at H&R Block’s Kansas City office how she’s doing with her own returns this tax season, and she laughs: “What is it they say? The cobbler’s kids always go without shoes. The easiest return to ignore is your own.”

Apr 11, 2012
Apr 4, 2012

How to grab the best mortgage rate now

CHICAGO (Reuters) – With mortgage rates still hovering near historic lows, this could be the right time to buy a home or refinance a mortgage, but nailing down a low-rate, low-fee loan isn’t that easy.

Winning one of the best deals in the current volatile mortgage market is like shooting a bullseye from a roller coaster, say brokers who are close to the action. Rates are still running under 4 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans, reports Bankrate.com, but they do fluctuate and not all applicants get the best rates. “It’s unpredictable,” says Cathy Milligan, a veteran mortgage broker with Marina Funding Group in Ventura, California. “Some people don’t even know to check around. They just assume that they go to their bank and that they’re going to get the best loan there is.”

Apr 4, 2012

YOUR MONEY: How to grab the best mortgage rate now

CHICAGO, April 4 (Reuters) – With mortgage rates still
hovering near historic lows, this could be the right time to buy
a home or refinance a mortgage, but nailing down a low-rate,
low-fee loan isn’t that easy.

Winning one of the best deals in the current volatile
mortgage market is like shooting a bullseye from a roller
coaster, say brokers who are close to the action. Rates are
still running under 4 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans,
reports Bankrate.com, but they do fluctuate and not all
applicants get the best rates.

    • About Lou

      "Lou Carlozo most recently served as the managing editor at WalletPop.com, AOL's personal finance website. He also wrote and created "The Recession Diaries" column at the Chicago Tribune, where he served as an editor and staff writer for 16 years. The author of a journalism textbook and an adjunct professor at National-Louis University, Carlozo is the lead popular music critic for Christian Century magazine, a contributor to Downbeat magazine and also writes the "Green Dad" column for DealNews.com. The opinions expressed are his own."
      Joined Reuters:
      2011
      Languages:
      French
      Awards:
      Bob Briner Impact Award, Biola University, 2007
      Chicago Tribune Innovator Award, 2005
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