Slate’s “The Big Money” has decided it’s time to start educating readers on some core financial principles, and they’re starting with the very basics, presented in a “Schoolhouse Rocks!” style. Their first cartoon explains the four types of bonds. Visually, it’s a perfect match to the style of the original cartoons, but we hope they work on a catchier jingle for their next installment.
Are you so loaded that you exceed the FDIC’s guarantee limit for deposits? Consider the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service. Deposit the funds at one of 2,500 CDARS member banks and they’ll automatically spread your cash among other member banks as needed to stay within FDIC coverage limits. Kiplinger says, “You’ll earn one rate (set by the home bank) and get one statement and one form at tax time.” [Kiplinger]
Kiplinger has two quizzes named “Financial Truth or Bunk?“, and they go through some of the more popular tips you’ve heard about personal finance, including lines like:
- You can’t lose money investing in bonds.
- Stay-at-home moms or dads need life insurance, too.
- Don’t buy a red car — it’ll cost more to insure.
- Dollar-cost averaging boosts investment returns.
- The percentage of stock in your portfolio should equal 100 minus your age.
In one brain-melting two-minute clip, watch all the media frenzy, punditry, and cable-news excitement of the financial meltdown, courtesy of CNN’s own Rick “The Twitter Board Is Blowing Up!” Sanchez. [YouTube]
USAA just pulled a huge mindf#@k on Travis and his wife, and now he wants to talk to someone high enough up the chain to find out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. His wife “went online yesterday to check on some transactions and discovered her IRA balance was $0. Six hours prior to that, her balance was $14,000.” When she tried to find out what had happened, the first CSR she spoke with told her she had no IRA account, and the second CSR told her to refresh her browser. Yeah, you know how these newfangled browswers are always wiping out retirement accounts.
What accounts are FDIC-insured? Which aren’t? Now that a fund that markets itself as the world’s “first and longest running money fund,” suddenly found itself in the nearly unprecedented position of having to “break the buck,” we thought we’d help clarify. Here we go:
In the history of money market funds, says the NYT, only one had ever “broken the buck” or actually lost money… before yesterday. On Tuesday, the managers of a multi-billion dollar money market fund announced that their customers might lose money in the fund– a type of investment that is considered as safe as a savings account.
According to a new survey from Zillow.com, Americans are totally out of touch with reality when it comes to their homes. 62% of homeowners surveyed said they thought their homes had appreciated in value over the past year. In fact, only 19% of homes in the US increased in value, and 77% actually decreased in value. (5% stayed the same.)
According to Bankrate, 57% of Americans do not have a will, leaving their personal finance, guardianship of children, and many other end-of-life decisions in the hands of strangers (state judges.) The lynchpin of a solid estate plan is having a will, but Vanguard suggests you also need the following assembled to leave your loved ones in good shape following your death:
You Starbucks haters out there can rejoice, because the company just posted its first quarterly loss EVAR “of $6.7 million, or 1 cent per share, compared with a year-earlier net profit of $158.3 million, or 21 cents per share.” Store closures and restructuring are to blame, as well as the fact that nobody can afford anything anymore. [Reuters]
Colgate-Palmolive has reported a 19% increase in quarterly profits, and says it’s partially due to price increases (but also greater volume sales and a weak dollar). [Reuters]
Here’s a list of 21 recommended finance books for people at every level of financial experience, from novice to “I could have written that.” [SavingAdvice]
Are you managing your aging parents’ finances, or looking for a good financial advisor of your own? The AARP has just released a new booklet called “A Financial Professional’s Guide to Working With Older Clients” (PDF). [AARP]
Today, New York City and state expanded their class action lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corp. to include two more company officers, twenty underwriters (including big investment banks like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch), and two accounting firms. “We will pursue every avenue to ensure that those who defrauded investors are held accountable for their actions,” said the NYC Comptroller.
Here’s one that’s sure to start some intense debate: If you’ve made a bad investment and your house isn’t worth what you thought it was going to be, is it OK to just walk away?
Today the U.S. Supreme Court effectively killed off any chance of a $40 billion class-action lawsuit against the investment firms that did business with Enron. The suit charged that the Wall Street firms were complicit in Enron’s massive corporate fraud fiasco. The Supreme Court, however, just ruled on a similar case last week and found that “third parties – vendors, contractors and consultants such as banks, accountants or attorneys – can’t be sued over corporate fraud unless investors relied on them when making their investing decisions.”
Here they are, the final two mistakes in Sasha’s top-five screw-ups over at Consumerism Commentary. Mistake #4, “Failing to Balance Rental Property Income with Deductible Expenses,” is a bit specialized, although it contains a good lesson that can be applied to other situations. It’s the final entry, however, that applies to pretty much everyone (we’ve suffered from it ourselves in the past): “Failing to Remain Competitive Within My Field.”