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Personal Finance News 01/2011



How to beat the market? Only stay a day at a time (AP)
AP - It's one of the truisms of financial planning: trying to perfectly time the market is a fool's errand. For long-term gains, the advice goes, you should buy index funds and hold them indefinitely. Warren Buffett likes to say that his preferred holding period is "forever."

BofA to take $2B charge to settle home loan claims (AP)
AP - Bank of America Corp. will take an approximately $2 billion charge in its fourth quarter as it settles buyback claims on home loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

BofA in settlement with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (Reuters)
Reuters - Bank of America Corp said it agreed to pay Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac $2.8 billion to settle claims that it sold the mortgage finance companies bad home loans.

4 Steps to Kick Off the New Year With a Simpler Financial Life (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Our financial lives are getting more and more complex. Of course, part of this increased complexity is due to the evolution of the market and a plethora of new investment products designed to serve a multitude life's financial needs. But a major part of that greater complexity is also due to increased personal responsibility for our finances. From the proliferation of the 401(k) and other self-directed retirement plans to enormously increased sources of information on personal finance, we are increasingly each on the hook for our own financial lives. ...

Quote Roundup: Harrisonburg, Va., Residents Pessimistic About 2011 (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Unemployment, Broken Promises Weigh down Indianapolis Residents (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Arizona Residents Look Ahead to 2011 in Politics, Economics (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Top lenders set for foreclosure settlement: report (Reuters)
Reuters - The five largest mortgage loan servicers, including Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co, may be the first to settle with 50 state attorneys general who are investigating foreclosure practices, Bloomberg reported, citing Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

Quote Roundup: South Carolinians Not Confident for Politics in 2011 (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Ore. High-School Seniors Have 'Little Faith in Either Party' (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: 'God Willing, 2011 Is Going to Be a Better Year' (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: 'Little Hope for the Economy' in Palm Springs, Calif. (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Sock Puppet Web Video Can Help You Apply for College Financial Aid (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - The web has a growing number of free resources that can help students and parents fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is the form that qualifies college students for grants, scholarships, and low-priced student loans.

Quote Roundup: In Tampa, Fla., Hope for 2011 Gives Way to Pessimism (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Quote Roundup: Looking Forward in 2011 on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

Why Buy Berkshire Hathaway? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - This article has been adapted from our sister site across the pond, Fool U.K.

Quote Roundup: 2011 Brings Uncertainty for Ala. Residents (ContributorNetwork)
ContributorNetwork - 2010 left Americans with a divided Congress, mixed economic signals and questions about personal finances. So what happens in 2011 -- more of the same or real progress? To get an idea of which road Americans think -- and hope -- the new year will take, Yahoo! Contributors asked them for answers.

New Florida governor promises to add jobs and cut tax (Reuters)
Reuters - Former hospital executive and political novice Rick Scott was sworn in as Florida governor on Tuesday and he promised to create jobs, reduce government regulation and eliminate the state's corporate income tax.

Mortgage applications ebbed at year end: MBA (Reuters)
Reuters - Applications for U.S. home mortgages ebbed in the last two weeks of the year amid the holiday season as loan rates hovered around their highest levels in seven months, an industry group said on Wednesday.

Was It Worth It? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - As the new year begins, it's customary to reminisce about our lives. As we fast approach the beginning of our 21st year of retirement, we wonder what the future might bring.

Relieve Student Loan Burden With Public Service (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program created by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act encourages individuals to enter and continue full-time public service employment by offering loan forgiveness for those borrowers that meet the requirements. To qualify, a borrower must make 120 qualifying monthly loan payments (once a month for 10 years) on eligible loans while working in qualifying public service employment.

ADP strength elicits sharp selloff (Reuters)
Reuters - As the domestic session opened, 10-year notes were up 13+/32nds on weaker stocks overnight; however, the ADP Employment (Dec) report stunned the market with 297k jobs created versus an expectation of +100k.

U.S. lender CapitalSource explores sale: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Commercial lender CapitalSource Inc has hired a financial advisor to explore a potential sale of the company, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Rate on 30-year fixed mortgage dips to 4.77 pct. (AP)
AP - Rates on fixed mortgages dipped this week after rising steadily over the last two months.

BP Is Attracting Interest Again (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - With the oil price threatening $100, it shouldn't be surprising to see shares in an oil major that's sitting on oceans of the stuff enjoying a strong run.

Summary Box: The challenge of managing a windfall (AP)
AP - WAYS PEOPLE GET WINDFALLS: Winning the lottery is one of the more glamorous ways to attain sudden riches, but more frequently windfalls come from inheriting money, receiving proceeds from a life insurance policy or selling a business.

A look at mortgage rates in the last 52 weeks (AP)
AP - A look at mortgage rates in the last 52 weeks

Summary Box: Mortgage rates fall this week (AP)
AP - RATES FALL: Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.77 percent from 4.86 percent the previous week. The average rate on the 15-year loan slipped to 4.13 percent from 4.20 percent.

3 Reasons to Pay Off Your Mortgage Before Retirement (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - I periodically hear folks push back against the advice that retiring with a financed home or vehicle is a bad idea. The typical counter-argument to the concept of retiring debt free is that money is cheap now, with low mortgage interest rates and 0 percent financing on new vehicle purchases. Thus, the logic goes, it makes sense to take that low-interest loan so that you can keep your retirement money invested. While some of the math relied on by the debt proponents may be correct, here are three reasons owning still beats financing for most retirees.

Consumers boost borrowing in November (AP)
AP - Consumers increased the amount of money they borrowed in November to buy cars and attend college, marking the first back-to-back consumer credit gains in more than two years.

Consumer credit up $1.35 billion in November (Reuters)
Reuters - Consumer credit rose in November for the second straight month after 20 months of declines, the Federal Reserve said on Friday.

Court rules against banks in pivotal mortgage case (AP)
AP - The highest court in Massachusetts ruled against U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. Friday in a widely watched mortgage foreclosure case that could have serious implications for the nation's largest banks.

Will Jobs Come Back in 2011? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - It wasn't a bad year, 2010. Stocks came back. Earnings came back. GDP came back. Sales came back. Everything, it seems, got better.

Court rules against banks in pivotal mortgage case (AP)
AP - The highest court in Massachusetts ruled against U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. Friday in a pivotal mortgage foreclosure case that could spark more turmoil and uncertainty in a housing market already mired in depression.

Mortgage modifications daunting for homeowners (AP)
AP - Laverl "Nick" Nicholson used to look out of his kitchen window at the weeping willows that mark the burial place of two of his two daughters. Then a debilitating car wreck left him unable to pay the $220,000 he owed on his northwestern Montana home.

Mortgage modifications daunting for homeowners (AP)
AP - Laverl "Nick" Nicholson used to look out of his kitchen window at the weeping willows that mark the burial place of two of his daughters. Then a debilitating car wreck left him unable to pay the $220,000 he owed on his northwestern Montana home.

Public pension funds seek foreclosure reviews (Reuters)
Reuters - A coalition of seven major public pension systems, led by New York City Comptroller John Liu, has asked the boards of four of the largest U.S. banks to examine their mortgage and foreclosure practices.

What's Wrong With Our Taxes, and How to Fix Them (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson -- our collective friend and ally inside the Internal Revenue Service -- has just released her latest report. If only Congress would act on it!

5 Ways to Finance Retirement Until Age 100 (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - One of the biggest retirement planning challenges is that we don't know how long we will live. We are saving up to finance an unknown number of years in retirement. A conservative assumption that many people use is living until age 100. Yet, it's extremely difficult to save for a retirement that long. For someone who retires at age 65, that's a 35-year retirement.

Delinquency Crisis Hits Reverse Mortgages (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - The government is moving to head off a growing problem with its reverse mortgage program. Large numbers of elderly borrowers--perhaps thousands--face possible evictions from their homes because they've stopped making property tax and home insurance payments. While homeowners with reverse mortgages are freed from mortgage payments after taking out the loans, they remain liable for property tax, home insurance, and maintenance expenses. Failure to make these payments can trigger foreclosure and possible eviction.

This Is the Worst Stock in the S&P 500 (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - "Flabbergasted" would be the best word to describe my reaction to a late-night commercial stating that H&R Block (NYSE: HRB - News) would offer free federal filings, in-store, through Feb. 15.

Consumers still struggling with loans: ABA (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. consumers continue to struggle to pay back home equity, auto and other loans as high unemployment drags on the economy.

Why These Hot ETFs Will Burn You (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - If you're an experienced investor, you know that following the crowd can get you into trouble. Even among the relatively new universe of exchange-traded funds, that lesson holds true in a big way. Before you jump into the next hot ETF investment, make sure you're not buying into a fad that's likely to burn out in the months and years to come.

Cash Is King? Since When? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Headlines can be so dramatic sometimes. "Cash the King Is Dead," announced an article by investment manager James Maltin. He pointed out that while many used to think of cash as a safe haven, extremely low interest rates have shattered that illusion.

Schwab in $119 million SEC accord, two execs charged (Reuters)
Reuters - Charles Schwab Corp will pay $118.9 million to settle regulatory charges that it hid from investors the mortgage-related risks in a seemingly safe, multibillion-dollar bond mutual fund.

Ill. lawmakers pass 66 percent income tax increase (AP)
AP - Democrats in the Illinois Legislature on Wednesday approved a 66 percent income-tax increase in a desperate and politically risky effort to end the state's crippling budget crisis.

Import prices jump, mortgage demand rises (Reuters)
Reuters - U.S. import prices jumped in December as energy costs surged, a sign that while inflation may be tame domestically there are plenty of price pressures coming from overseas.

Jack Bogle: "Investments Perform Better Than Investors" (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - As we look ahead to how 2011 will play out, the bears and bulls are busily voicing their opinions. But it seems that passive investors not only have the lowest expenses, they also have the best metaphors -- or maybe it's just Jack Bogle.

Americans cautiously optimistic about 2011 (Exclusive to Yahoo! News)
Exclusive to Yahoo! News - Yahoo! News invited members of the Yahoo Contributors Network to share what they expect 2011 will mean for their personal finances, and to interview people in their communities about topics ranging from where the national economy is headed to politics …

Mortgage applications rose last week (AP)
AP - The number of people applying for a mortgage rose last week as lower rates lured more borrowers to refinance.



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