Reuters Money

Occupy colleges? How to shut down student debt


Members of the Occupy Wall St movement hold signs aloft while demonstrating. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson One of the more compelling issues to emerge from the Occupy Wall Street movement is subject of crushing student debt.

College financing has gotten to be too onerous and complicated, so it’s difficult for families to negotiate the process and, as a result, it’s hobbling graduates’ attempts to live normal lives. Congress has largely ignored these Americans, though, as it focuses on the national debt and the Tea Party agenda.

There’s been a sharp uptick in student loan defaults — the highest rate in a decade — as more students come out of college an average $24,000 in debt, yet can’t find jobs.

Part of the psychology embedded in a college education is that the diploma should enable you to get a living-wage job, pay off debts and live a prosperous life. That was the big selling point of a high-cost diploma. That isn’t happening now for most graduates.

Margaret Atwood on debt and consequences


Margaret Atwood REUTERS/handoutWhat might be most surprising about the myriad economic problems around the globe right now is how many major world economies seem to have been taken by surprise by the concept of debt. Maybe they should have been reading more Margaret Atwood.

Atwood isn’t only one of the world’s premier novelists, she’s also the author of the nonfiction “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth,” which hit the presses just as the financial crisis arrived in the fall of 2008 (timing that one review described as “freakishly prescient”).

Divorce stress meets recession mess, and women struggle


When Carol Meerschaert of Paoli, Pennsylvania divorced 10 years ago, she experienced first-hand how starting over as a single mom also means managing the money without any help.

Her kids were 7, 10 and 14, and even though she had income as a dietician, “it certainly was very challenging,” Meerschaert recalls. She moved into a smaller home, paid her own mortgage and, in time, funded college tuition for her eldest daughter.

Why household debt reduction could jumpstart economy


If we could move beyond the housing crisis, where would we find the seeds of a broad-based turnaround?

Right now most of the country is anguished over the slack job market and global economic uncertainty. Almost half of U.S. homeowners are feeling house poor. That is, most folks can’t get their wealth out of their homes or even put a realistic price tag on it. They may even be stuck in a house that’s worth less than its mortgaged value.

A silver lining: Credit cards buffered from rate hikes


Credit cards are pictured in a wallet in Washington, February 21, 2010. REUTERS/Stelios VariasWith the downward plunge of the stock markets and the potential for interest-rate hikes following the downgrade of U.S. debt, consumers are understandably worried about their own interest-rates going up. But one bit of good news in all this volatility is that credit cards are somewhat insulated, for right now.

That’s “somewhat” because the protections are for what you’ve already spent and not what you’re going to spend going forward.

Gold Mine: Links and tweets from around the Web


A worker scoops gold shots at Japanese jewellery brand, Ginza Tanaka's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) factory in the Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo September 14, 2009. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao One consequence of the stock market decline is that everyone is talking about investing in gold as it hits record highs. But what are they saying?

A quick trip around the Web today came up with a treasure trove of things to think about, from advice on what to do now, to historical perspectives to funny tweets. There’s analysis that says gold will go up, there’s analysis that says gold will go down. And there are worldwide repercussions that you might not have ever considered.

Social Security, Medicare dodge bullet, but cuts loom


Social Security and Medicare dodged a bullet in the debt ceiling battle, but beneficiaries still have plenty to fear from the next phase of the deficit reduction war.

The agreement to raise the debt ceiling means seniors will receive their August Social Security benefits – something many worried about after President Obama said last month that he “couldn’t guarantee” the payments if default occurred. Likewise, Social Security and Medicare benefits both were exempted from the $917 billion in first-phase cuts that paved the way for the debt ceiling deal.

Answers to the 7 big “what-ifs” of debt default


The debt negotiations are getting down to the wire. Republican and Democratic lawmakers are scrambling to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before Tuesday, when the Treasury will no longer be able to borrow funds to meet all of its obligations. That’s why major credit rating agencies are considering a downgrade of U.S. debt.

What does that mean for consumers? Here are some answers we compiled from Reuters Money experts:

3 more gloomy bargains: How much the debt deal will cost you


No matter what plan Washington concocts to reduce the deficit, it’s going to cost you something. “Shared sacrifice” is in vogue, but your pain will be bigger if you’re unfortunate enough to earn wages or need social benefits.

Most conservative deficit-reduction plans shred the social safety net and cherished personal write-offs in unprecedented ways. The core elements of each proposal will pare middle-class tax breaks, Medicare and Social Security.

5 questions about Social Security and the debt ceiling


Social Security is a pawn in the negotiations to avoid a federal debt default, and that has stirred fear and confusion among current and future beneficiaries. President Obama has threatened not to make August benefit payments in the event of a default, and signaled that he is open to cutting Social Security if it helps him secure a big deficit-reduction deal with Republicans.

Let’s look at where Social Security stands on the D.C. chessboard:

Should I be worried that I won’t receive my Social Security benefit in August?