April 30, 2013 |
The most sensible solution to the ocean and stream pollution caused by carry-out plastic bags would be to charge a small fee for them. People will do almost anything to avoid even a tiny levy - tote their own reusable bags, toss their loose groceries into the trunk. Unfortunately, none of the three bills in the Legislature to address the plastic bag problem would work that way. Consumers already pay for carry-out bags; they just don't realize it because the cost is rolled into the price of the goods they buy, creating the illusion that the bags are free.
April 28, 2013 |
You know the zombies that pop back to life even after you stab them with a pitchfork? It's the same with smartphones. That's the bitter lesson I learned after returning home from Greenland and getting a $1,106 bill from Sprint for international data roaming, even though data roaming on my iPhone 4S was turned off. How could this zombie data usage happen? And how can I find out if it's happening? Smartphones are the undead of phones. They keep looking for a way to connect to data, even when you don't want them to. Even when you think data service is turned off. The formula is: smartphone + international travel = watch out. I had a BlackBerry before my iPhone and never had a single data charge when traveling internationally.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 25, 2013 |
A controversial monthly fee tied to Los Angeles County's new toll lane system was suspended Thursday after a lengthy discussion and divided vote by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board. For the next six months, Los Angeles County residents will not be charged a $3 monthly maintenance fee for their transponders - coaster-sized devices that track toll lane usage and fees. Some carpoolers and solo motorists who would use the lanes infrequently have said that the monthly charge discouraged them from buying the $40 transponder.
April 24, 2013
Re "State misses out on license plate fees," April 19 The article reports that the state has failed to collect up to $22 million in fees for special license plates. California seems to be missing out on a much larger source of income: unregistered vehicles. State law requires motorists to register their cars in California 20 days after becoming a resident. And yet every day I see cars and trucks with expired registration stickers or license plates from other states. These scofflaws cheat the state out of registration fee revenue and may be driving cars that do not meet our environmental standards.
April 23, 2013 |
Payday loans often trap consumers in a cycle of debt, a new report by the federal government finds. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that the average consumer took out 11 loans during a 12-month period, paying a total of $574 in fees - not including loan principal. A quarter of borrowers paid $781 or more in fees. "There is high sustained use - which we consider to be not only when a consumer rolls over the loan, but also when he pays it off and returns very quickly to take out another one," Richard Cordray, director of the bureau, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
April 21, 2013 |
Dear Liz: You always mention fee-only financial planners and I'm not sure about the true meaning. My husband and I have a financial planner who charges us $2,200 per year, but we got a summary of transaction fees in the amount of $6,200 for last year. Is this reasonable? We have $625,000 in IRAs and are adding $1,000 a month. In addition we have over $700,000 with current employers, adding the max allowed yearly. The planner gives advice on allocations for these employer funds as well.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 20, 2013 |
Students and faculty are gearing up for a fight to oppose legislation that would allow California community colleges to charge more for high-demand courses during summer and winter sessions. Colleges would be able to offer extension programs for credit leading to certificates, associate's degrees and for transfer to four-year universities, if enrollment was at capacity the preceding two years. The bill, AB 955, is similar to a controversial plan attempted by Santa Monica College last summer to offer core education classes such as English, math and history at a cost of about $180 per unit, alongside state-funded courses set by the Legislature at $46 per unit.
April 19, 2013 |
The lending landscape shifted measurably this month when the standard-bearer for first-time buyers and low-to-moderate income borrowers became more expensive than its private business counterpart. On April 1, fees for low-down-payment mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration rose for the third time in two years. The hike in fees serves a twofold purpose: to help shore up the FHA's sagging mortgage insurance fund, which is dangerously low; and to reduce the government's footprint in the mortgage market.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 18, 2013 |
SACRAMENTO - Californians can buy special license plates featuring pictures of whales, firefighters and palm trees, but the Department of Motor Vehicles has failed to collect up to $22 million from drivers who have them, a new audit shows. The agency appears to have undercharged some people for the plates by nearly $10.2 million, according to the study, released Thursday by state Auditor Elaine Howle. Some fees were set below the level required by the law. DMV officials said they acted "in good faith" in setting the fees, which were created by different pieces of legislation, but said they would review the matter further.
April 17, 2013 |
Using ATM machines out of your bank's network is getting increasingly more expensive. Those transactions tend to hit customers with two fees -- one from your own bank and the second from the ATM that takes a surcharge fee. That surcharge fee has jumped 20% to an average $2.10 last year, up from $1.75 in 2007, according to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report. Photos: Top 10 richest people ever led by 14th century African king Banks and credit unions charged fees ranging from 45 cents to $5, according to the GAO, while independently operated ATMs charged from $1.50 to $3. (The report notes there may be fees that are far higher that were not included in their sample)