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Feb 15, 2012

New American Dream is renting to get rich

By Lou Carlozo

(Reuters) – Rich Arzaga owns a luxury home in San Ramon, California, but he’s not betting on it as an investment.

The founder and CEO of Cornerstone Wealth Management, who bought the 5,000 sq. ft. property in 2005 for $1.8 million and has spent $500,000 improving it, considers the abode a wonderful place for his family. But ask him to rate his home — or any home, for that matter — as a financial investment, and Arzaga balks.

Feb 9, 2012

Are doodle dogs worth their price?

NEW YORK (Reuters) – When someone plunks down $2,500 for a dog, you might think they’re investing in a purebred pup, its pedigree stretching back generations. But not Cecile Desmond of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. She was happy to part with that much cash for Percy, a shaggy creature that some hound snobs at this month’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show might label a mutt.

Okay, not just any kind of mutt, but a “Labradoodle,” a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever.

Feb 7, 2012

How a wealth manager uses energy psychology

By Lou Carlozo

(Reuters) – Energy psychology combines Eastern approaches to mind, body and spirit with Western psychology and psychotherapy, delving into unconscious and subconscious patterns that go back to childhood. So what exactly does that have to do with building wealth and managing your portfolio?

Plenty, says Julie Murphy Casserly, a wealth manager in Chicago who manages about $100 million in assets and is a proponent of a very alternative investing strategy.

Feb 1, 2012

Petition to restore old-fashioned paper U.S. bonds

By Lou Carlozo

(Reuters) – It’s a curious irony that the petition to bring back paper bonds, which the federal government phased out in January after 76 years, is an online movement. The government decided to drop the certificates, traditionally given as gifts to children, to keep up with modern times and sell a product that didn’t rely on redeeming something as flimsy as processed wood pulp sheets. To reach a modern consumer base, you’ve got to go digital, which is why Mark Prosser, the founder and CEO of LearnBonds.com, is taking his gripe to the digiterati.

Prosser is upset that the U.S. Department of the Treasury stopped selling paper bonds as of January 1, and his manifesto, posted on his website (link.reuters.com/nyz36s), reads in part: “Over 50 million Americans hold paper saving bonds. For many of these people (including myself), a savings bond served as introduction to the idea of saving money and earning interest.”

Jan 31, 2012

Pick your Super Bowl pool like a pro

By Lou Carlozo

(Reuters) – With Super Bowl XLVI less than a week away, armchair quarterbacks are flexing their biceps to throw hard-earned cash into the office pool. You will probably do what a lot of people do, and rely on your gut to make your picks. You might step it up a notch and research the odds being laid in Vegas. You could try consulting a Ouija board. Or, you could apply the laws of statistics like the pros.

What would that look like? We asked a few experts to construct a winning game plan with a big Super Bowl pool on the line. It’s up to you to decide which strategy will give you the edge you are looking for, or if it’s better to just pick your bets at random.

Jan 19, 2012

Ernst & Young steps up for same-sex partners

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ernst & Young employees who opt for same-sex domestic partners’ medical benefits will get something of a delayed bonus this year when they file their 2011 federal and state tax returns.

While the company began offering same-sex domestic partner benefits in 2002, like most other employers, it taxed the amount spent as income, while other family policies come out of pre-tax income. But as of January 1 this year, the company will reimburse employees for those taxes for the 2011 tax year, and for tax years going forward.

Jan 18, 2012
Jan 17, 2012
Jan 12, 2012

10 free checking accounts for the unbanked

By Lou Carlozo

(Reuters) – The unbanked make up 7.7 percent of U.S. households, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and they are sitting ducks for celebrity-pitched prepaid cards, costly check-cashing services and other costly options.

Households without checking accounts – typically made up of young people, those living paycheck-to-paycheck or consumers with poor credit histories – not only pay more of those fees, they lack many of the consumer protections that bank accounts carry. The newly-activated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it is going to take on some of those services, but it still would be better for most of those people to have actual bank accounts for safety and convenience.

Jan 3, 2012

Real estate pros find hope, hot spots for 2012

Jan 3 (Reuters) – This new year might be the one in which
the housing market starts to strengthen, according to the 2012
predictions of several housing industry observers and

Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.com, a real estate
search and research website, says he sees rising rents, a
humble recovery in housing prices and even some unexpected
“hot” spots where he thinks price increases will exceed the
average this year.

    • 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:
      Bob Briner Impact Award, Biola University, 2007
      Chicago Tribune Innovator Award, 2005
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