May 5, 2013 |
Alice Marie Francis believes it's important to have health insurance, but finding a plan that fit her budget was no easy task. "Money is tight," says the 50-year-old Burbank mother of two, whose children are insured by their father's work-based policy. To make sure she had coverage that didn't break the bank, she opted for a high-deductible health plan - an increasingly popular option with lower monthly premiums but high upfront costs before most insurance payments kick in. High-deductible plans are typically recommended for younger policyholders who are in good health and have less need for doctor visits and prescription drugs, and for people with incomes high enough to cover the cost of routine medical care.
December 30, 2011 |
Car dealers have found a new way to profit from people with money trouble: leasing them hand-me-down vehicles. The deals are pitched to customers as the cheapest way to drive a used car off the lot, with the added benefit of an easy escape for those who can't keep up with the payments. Few customers are told about the advantages on the other side of the trade. Leases can allow dealerships to sidestep interest rate caps, and there are fewer financial disclosures rules than with a conventional car loan.
July 19, 2012 |
The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage hit another new low this week, dropping to 3.53% from 3.56% last week, according to Freddie Mac's survey of what lenders are offering to well-qualified borrowers. With the Federal Reserve aggressively pushing rates down and few signs of inflation on the horizon, it was 12th time in 13 weeks that a new record was set, Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft said in the report Thursday morning. Freddie Mac said the 15-year fixed loan, which has been a popular part of the recent boom in refinancings, averaged 2.83%, down from 2.86% and also a new record.
September 1, 2012
Each year the arrival of fall brings with it the urge to start over and get our house and routine in order. No one wants to be the one who is perpetually scrambling to come up with a healthy dinner, find a clean outfit, track down our belongings or line up childcare for those forgotten school holidays. However, many of our best efforts at organization fail because there's not a good backup system. Here are five apps that can help you meet your goals. Astrid (Free for Android and iPhone)
May 1, 2011 |
If you've been looking for a way to pay for energy improvements to your house, two little-publicized new mortgage programs could provide the cash you need. Both the Federal Housing Administration and mortgage investor Fannie Mae recently have launched options in the energy conservation arena. Here's a quick overview, with some pros and cons: The FHA's PowerSaver program allows eligible owners to borrow up to $25,000 at fixed rates between 5% and 7% for as long as 20 years to finance high-efficiency windows and doors, heating and ventilating systems, solar panels, geothermal systems, insulation and duct sealing, among other retrofits.
March 12, 2013 |
It was the sort of letter designed to get attention. "Final attempt to notify," it said on the outside. Within, an official-looking "product warranty expiration notice" said that my Toyota's service contract "is expiring or has expired. " It provided a number to call "to extend coverage. " This was troubling because when I purchased my "certified pre-owned" car from a dealer in 2011, I paid $1,700 for a seven-year, 100,000-mile extended warranty. Now it was expiring? The answer, of course, was no. And the racket I'm about to run down is yet another reminder that you need to examine closely anything that even remotely looks like a financial warning.
January 17, 2011 |
Karla Rendon stood in front of the vending machine at Maplewood Mall in St. Paul, Minn., staring at an assortment of items ? diapers, baby wipes, sippy cups, bottles, grape juice and diaper rash ointment. Just what a mother shopping with her 13-month-old baby needed. "I wish there had been one of these when I was at the Mall of America," said Rendon of Maplewood, Minn., recalling a recent excursion with daughters Makayla, 5, and Daisy, 13 months. On that day, Rendon had forgotten Daisy's bottle.
June 10, 2011 |
They are the anonymous hotel clerks, courtroom jurors and store patrons who populate countless movies, TV shows and commercials. Hollywood's background actors, better known as extras, are accustomed to keeping a low profile — blending in, doing what they are told, and avoiding the limelight reserved for the stars. But a recent action by local and state officials has thrust the entertainment industry's least recognized performers into the spotlight. Last month, the Los Angeles city attorney's office and California labor commissioner took the unusual step of issuing a cease-and-desist letter to Central Casting in Burbank — the largest company for extras — ordering it to stop charging an upfront fee that they said violated state law. Similar warning letters were sent to 13 other L.A. casting companies.
June 1, 2012 |
As mortgage rates sink deeper into record territory, homeowners are refinancing into 15-year loans at a pace not seen in a decade, aiming to pay off their debt in time for retirement. Freddie Mac's latest mortgage rate survey showed the traditional 30-year fixed-rate loan averaged 3.75% this week, down from 3.78% last week. It was the fifth straight week of record lows. Even more eye-catching in Thursday's survey was the average for a 15-year fixed loan — 2.97%, down from 3.04% a week ago. It was the first sub-3% reading in the nearly 21 years that Freddie has tracked the 15-year loan.
March 18, 2012 |
The Obama administration's new plan to stimulate refinancings of FHA mortgages is likely to help large numbers of homeowners — even those who are deeply underwater — cut their monthly costs by switching to a loan with a rate below 4%. Here's a quick overview of the "streamline refi" program and what it will take for you to qualify. First, the baseline criteria: Your current home loan must be FHA-insured and must have been put on the Federal Housing Administration's books no later than May 31, 2009.