Financial News from Bankrate.com

  • 'Safe' CDs pay zip. So why not buy stocks? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 24, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Bankrate reported recently that more than half of Americans don't own any stocks or stock-based investments. Now, in a new Financial Security Index survey, 76 percent of Americans say low interest rates on savings accounts and CDs don't make stocks any more appealing. The level of disinterest in stocks has remained virtually unchanged since Bankrate started asking the question in 2012, even though the stock market has soared. In those three years, yields on one-year CDs have fallen 18 percent, five-year CDs by 23 percent, and interest rates on money market accounts have fallen 31 percent, according to Bankrate.

  • Will used-car maintenance bust my budget? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 24, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    I'm on a tight budget and I want to make sure I factor in all the costs, not just my monthly payment on my car loan. I've figured out how to calculate my insurance and gas, but what about maintenance? Calculating maintenance costs can be a bit tricky since labor charges vary from shop to shop. Bankrate also lists average annual repair costs by state.

  • Win a money makeover and $3,000! Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 24, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Let Bankrate's Greg McBride help you rejuvenate your finances with a money makeover and tips for improving your financial life. Greg McBride, CFA, is Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com, providing analysis and advice on personal finance. With nearly two decades of experience in personal finance, he has the unique ability to provide both in-depth commentary and practical advice to consumers.

  • Sell to a 'buy your house for cash' biz? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 24, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    To ask a question of the Real Estate Adviser, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select "Buying, selling a home" as the topic. Read more Real Estate Adviser columns and more stories about real estate. Bankrate's content, including the guidance of its advice-and-expert columns and this website, is intended only to assist you with financial decisions.

  • Must citizen file US taxes when working abroad? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Does she need to file a U.S. tax return because she is a U.S. citizen working and living abroad? This means that all income earned, whether from a U.S. source or not, is included on her Form 1040 tax return. The foreign earned income exclusion is calculated on Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, and is available to people working and living abroad for a majority of the tax year. It excludes up to $99,200 of income from being taxed in the U.S. As for the foreign taxes that she is paying, which are apparently quite high, she gets a tax credit equivalent to the amount of the foreign taxes that she pays during the year, and this is reported on Form 1116, Foreign Tax Credit.

  • CD rates for April 23, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Compare CD rates nationally and in your area. CDs 1-year CD yields: 0.27% 5-year CD yields: 0.88% The national survey of certificate of deposit rates showed a change of 1 basis point ...

  • Credit card interest rates for April 23, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best credit card offers available. Credit Cards All fixed: 13.02% All variable: 15.82% Credit card rates were unchanged this week, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of ...

  • Everything you need to know about index funds Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    It's a straightforward process once you understand the best building blocks for your portfolio: index funds. Here's the gist: Index funds are simply mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that track an index. They are designed to give investors exposure to a broad swath of the stock market at a very low cost. Know this: Index funds are distinct from actively managed funds.

  • 4 things to do before repaying a mortgage early Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    The pro-payoff camp is right that paying down a mortgage can shave years off the loan and save tens of thousands of dollars. Bankrate's mortgage calculator lets you determine the effect of making extra payments by using the amortization schedule. Here's what you should do before considering a mortgage prepayment. It doesn't make sense to pay off a 4 percent mortgage if you have credit cards accruing at 16 percent or more.

  • Where will mortgage rates head next week? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Will rates go up, down or remain unchanged? Intro Up 36% Down 9% Unchanged 55% Panel Prediction Up Down Unchanged 36% 9% 55% This week (April 23-29), 36 percent of the panelists believe mortgage rates ...

  • Home equity loan rates for April 23, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best home equity rates in your area. Home Equity Line of credit: 4.7% Loan: 5.99% Rates on loans backed by home equity barely moved this week, according to Bankrate's latest ...

  • Auto loan rates for April 23, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best auto rates in your area. Auto Loans 60-month, new car: 4.37% 36-month, used car: 5.17% Auto loan rates didn't budge this week, according to Bankrate's latest survey ...

  • Mortgage rates pause as homebuyers get moving Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Mortgage rates didn't move much this week, but that did nothing to cool the housing fever that has emerged since the temperatures have warmed up across the country. Sales of existing homes jumped 6.1 percent in March to an annual pace of 5.19 million units, the strongest month-over-month increase since December 2010 and the highest annual rate since September 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Federal Housing Finance Agency's home value index also showed housing prices started improving in February with a 0.7 percent increase month-over-month and a 5.4 percent rise year-over-year.

  • Is this investment too good to be true? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Is it wise to invest $10,000 in a fixed annuity at a rate of 8 percent for a 10-year period? If you have $10,000 to invest and you're certain it won't be needed for at least 10 years, then a guaranteed return of 8 percent would be a great return for a fixed annuity. The promised return is more than twice as much as what I found for a fixed annuity with a 10-year rate guarantee. If you're still not comfortable, I'd suggest you hire a fee-based financial planner to review the annuity contract before you sign any contract.

  • Tap pension to pay $30K credit card debt? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    I have more than $30,000 in credit card debt, and I recently changed jobs. Should I use the lump-sum pension to pay off my high-interest credit card debt? It sounds as if you have a good start on your retirement savings. With that in mind, my recommendation is to not use $30,000 of your lump-sum pension to pay off your credit card debt.

  • National mortgage rates for April 23, 2015 Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 23, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Interest Rate Roundup Find the best mortgage rates in your area. Mortgages 30-year fixed: 3.79% Average points: 0.2 Mortgage rates were mostly unchanged this week, according to Bankrate's latest survey ...

  • What to do if your tax refund is wrong Bankrate.com - Wed, Apr 22, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Through early April, the IRS has sent out more than 77 million tax refunds. In most cases, the refund amounts are just what the filers expect.

  • Will my widow get more in Social Security? Bankrate.com - Wed, Apr 22, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    I am 75 years old, still working and paying Social Security taxes on my income. I started receiving Social Security retirement benefits at my full retirement age, and my wife received benefits based on my work record. If your earnings this year surpassed one of the years that went into computing your retirement benefit, the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefit amount. If claimed at her full retirement age, it is half of your full retirement age benefit.

  • Roth IRA may be key to heirs' tax savings Bankrate.com - Wed, Apr 22, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    What is the best way to pass these assets on to my children after I'm deceased without them having to pay a lot of inheritance or estate taxes? It's a common retirement investor's question: How do you turn the tax-deferred compensation in your retirement accounts into tax-free distributions for your children? You'll need to work with a tax professional to make that happen. One potential strategy is to make a series of Roth IRA conversions.

  • Smart Banking: What to stash in safe-deposit box Bankrate.com - Tue, Apr 21, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Safe-deposit boxes are, as their name implies, a pretty safe place to store your valuables. A safe-deposit box is a long, narrow box held in a secured area of a bank that customers lease, typically a year at a time. Before bank personnel will help you open a safe-deposit box, they'll most likely verify your identity in some way, such as by comparing your signature to one they have on file. A good rule of thumb is, if you might need to access the item outside of bankers' hours, it should probably stay in your home, says Luke W. Reynolds, chief of outreach and program development at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC.

  • Will bankruptcy ruin my job prospects? Bankrate.com - Tue, Apr 21, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    How will my filing for bankruptcy affect my potential career advancement? To me, your ability to handle your current financial issues will have a greater impact on your potential career advancement. People facing financial distress are more likely to be less focused at work, depressed and prone to make careless errors. In a previous Bankrate column, I wrote that the bankruptcy code does address current and prospective employment discrimination against someone who files for bankruptcy.

  • Taxes on Social Security survivors benefits? Bankrate.com - Tue, Apr 21, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    I applied for Social Security survivors benefits for him and was approved. I receive approximately $1,050 per month from Social Security on his behalf. How will my son's Social Security benefits affect our taxes? Your son's Social Security survivors benefits will not affect your taxes in any way since you do not have to report his Social Security income on your tax return.

  • Medical mistakes are killing us: What to know Bankrate.com - Tue, Apr 21, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Our health care system is killing us. Medical mistakes are said to be the third leading cause of death in the U.S., trailing only heart disease and cancer. Whether through physician error, "healthcare-associated infections" such as MRSA, or faulty implants or devices, an estimated 440,000 Americans die each year as an unintended consequence of medical care. Dr. Lucian Leape, a surgeon and adjunct professor of health policy at Harvard's School of Public Health, has wrestled with medical harm for two decades -- so long, in fact, that the National Patient Safety Foundation named an institute in his honor in 2007.

  • Does home insurance stand up to falling trees? Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 20, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    What kind of home insurance do I need to protect my home from falling trees? You're in luck! Virtually all homeowners policies sold today cover damage to your home from falling trees. Home insurance policies cover the cost of repair plus the costs to remove the tree from the home.

  • When marijuana is legal and HOA rules are hazy Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 20, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    More than 20 U.S. states allow certain people to grow, sell, possess or use marijuana to varying degrees and for various purposes, although federal law still classifies weed as an illegal drug. Given that contradiction, what rules apply to people who live in condominiums or communities governed by a homeowners association? Consider Colorado, which attorney Suzanne Leff says is "kind of at the frontier on these issues." Leff is a partner at Winzenburg, Leff, Purvis and Payne, a Littleton, Colorado, law firm that represents homeowners associations.

  • Does employer match count toward 401(k) limit? Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 20, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Do employer contributions to a 401(k) plan count against the maximum limits you can contribute to the plan? Do they affect the amount you can put into a traditional or Roth IRA? The employer matching contributions don't count toward the maximum limits that you can contribute to a 401(k) plan. There is, however, a combined contribution limit of $52,000 for the employer and employee contributions in 2014.

  • Survey: Who's feeling good about their finances? Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 20, 2015 8:00 PM AEST
    Survey: Who's feeling good about their finances?

    Americans continue to feel better about many aspects of their personal finances when compared with a year ago, according to a monthly reading from Bankrate. Any index reading above 100 indicates improved financial security over the past 12 months. The survey that accompanied the index showed that people felt better about their job security, debt levels, net worth and overall financial situation when compared with how they felt a year ago. The Financial Security Index has shown improvement for 11 months in a row, though April's reading was slightly below previous measurements in the first quarter of 2015.

  • How to lock a mortgage rate for a good deal Bankrate.com - Mon, Apr 20, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Mortgage rates fluctuate daily, making it hard to pinpoint the perfect moment to lock. It's best to compare a lineup of interest rates. A guarantee that the lender will deliver a specific combination of interest rate and points if the mortgage closes by a specified date. A rate lock protects the borrower from rate fluctuations during the lock period.

  • How do I get a fair payout on a wrecked car? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 17, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    My wife's car was totaled recently, and the insurance adjuster is not offering a payout for the car that reflects some of the optional equipment that it had. How do I get the adjuster to give me a fair insurance payout on the car? Any paperwork, such as the car's window sticker, or documents that outlined the car's features when you purchased it, should be submitted to the insurance company, as well. It is also a good idea to calculate the value of the car on several auto information websites, such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com, to compare the value there with what your car insurance company is offering.

  • Will I save on car insurance when I turn 25? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 17, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    You could save on auto insurance. "Generally, once you turn 25, your rates are going to be a little better," says Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. So once your 25th birthday rolls around, be sure to ask your insurer to take a new look at your premium, says Amy Bach, executive director of the insurance consumer group United Policyholders. I turned 25 recently and was eager to take advantage of a lower car insurance premium.

  • 6 steps to making the right bid on a home Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 17, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    "Still, some people list their houses too high, so it's more important to know the house's true value rather than worry about offending a seller seeking too much," says Benjamin Clark, former president of the Avondale, Arizona-based National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents.

  • Home seller wants homebuyer to pay for repairs Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 17, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    You need someone who represents your interests exclusively, Jo Ann. Read more Real Estate Adviser columns and more stories about real estate.

  • Why pay extra toward mortgage principal? Bankrate.com - Fri, Apr 17, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, with its associated amortization schedule, can't you achieve a significantly higher "return" by making additional principal payments at the top end of the amortization schedule? For example, say your mortgage payment is $1,000, comprising $100 toward the principal and $900 in interest. From a strictly financial point of view, you will want to pay down or pay off the mortgage if you expect the after-tax returns on your investments to be less than the effective rate on your mortgage. The effective rate includes any realized tax benefits from the mortgage interest deduction.

  • Should I save $5K bonus or use it for car loan? Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 16, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    Should I save my bonus or use it to pay off my car loan? I also contribute $500 a month to my retirement plans. The extra bonus can be applied to any of these areas, but I was wondering: To reduce my debt, should I pay off the car loan? Given that you have all the rest of your financial ducks in a row, the main incentive for paying off your car loan early would be to save on the loan's interest.

  • Get ahead financially by saving for different goals Bankrate.com - Thu, Apr 16, 2015 8:00 PM AEST

    The economy may be slowly limping back to life, but many American families still find it difficult to sock away money for a new car, college or retirement. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, co-authors of "All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan," advocate this financial formula for success: Spend 50 percent of your paycheck on the "must-haves," 30 percent on "wants" and use the remaining 20 percent to service debt and save money. "We've grown so accustomed to spending money that it really is time to take a second look at our budgets and start pulling in the reins a little bit," says CFP professional Kelly Campbell, CEO at Campbell Wealth Management in Alexandria, Virginia. While this money technically does not go toward any of your short-, medium- or long-term savings goals, it does act as a deterrent to tapping such important accounts as a 401(k) if you lose your job.