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Everyday Cheapskate: Ask Me Anything: Best Vacuum, Best Blowtorch, Best Meat Thermometer

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

My mail doesn't arrive one message at a time. It comes in piles. Think: avalanche. But I have big plans and high hopes.

I must have the most patient readers on Earth -- understanding, too, because while I read every single message, I am unable to reply personally. That's why I look forward to Ask Me Anything day.

Today I reached in and pulled ...Read more

Surgeon who appeared on reality TV dating show is accused of sexual assault and preying on drugged women

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Dr. Grant William Robicheaux billed himself as an elite orthopedic surgeon catering to Newport Beach's famous and wealthy. It was a lifestyle he pushed not only in his medical work but on realty TV, where he appeared on a Bravo dating show wearing his hospital scrubs and a wide smile.

But Orange County prosecutors on Tuesday ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Strategies to Cut the Cost of Food for Every Lifestyle

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Ever wonder why you never have enough money to save? I'm talking about consistent, regular deposits out of every paycheck that go straight into a savings account. Maybe it's time to consider that you're handing your savings over to local restaurants, drive-thrus, diners and coffee shops. Think about it.

No matter your lifestyle, I am confident ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Are we or aren't we looking at another bubble?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Just 10 years after the financial crisis, many people find themselves asking the same odd question that a friend asked me last week when we met for coffee.

"So, are we in a bubble?"

A decade ago, of course, we faced such a deep, brutal financial crisis that we couldn't imagine ever seeing record stock prices or home values again.

It was an ...Read more

On Philanthropy: Donor-advised funds: Powerful giving tool needs sharpening

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The fastest-growing tool in the philanthropic arena is the donor-advised fund. DAFs are 501(c)(3) philanthropic accounts established at a public charity. They allow donations of cash, property, appreciated assets and more -- and donors receive immediate tax deductions. The DAF legally controls the money from the point of donation.

Subsequently,...Read more

Lessons from the crisis still relevant a decade later

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The single best explanation for why we had a terrifying financial crisis 10 years ago goes back to how easy it seems to be to take risks when it's someone else's money.

It's a problem often called moral hazard, a term that was talked about a lot just after the financial crisis but not as much lately. Now, 10 years out from the worst days of the...Read more

Bay Area's runaway housing market taps the brakes. Will the lull last?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

When Sean Cook put his family's San Jose, Calif., home up for sale for more than $3 million this summer, he assumed it would fly off the shelf in a week or two. A similar house in his neighborhood took just three days to sell for $3.3 million in the spring.

But two months after Cook's four-bedroom home in the desirable Willow Glen neighborhood ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: Have You Checked the HVAC Filter Lately?

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

Everyone knows that we should change the filter in our home heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, or HVAC system. Actually, doing that may be something else altogether. It's all about the where, when and how of doing it that leads us to procrastination and selective amnesia.

It's not difficult. The problem is in making it a priority...Read more

House Calls: Like a Car

Consumer / Edith Lank /

Dear Ms. Lank: My cousins bought their timeshare from a place called RCI. They are allowed to trade the timeshare for another one in any place where RCI has timeshares, including Hawaii. There is a $175 fee to trade.

They are very happy with their timeshare and use it pretty much every year. I expect that not all timeshares are alike, though. ...Read more

Art of Design: Organized Organization

Consumer / Art of Design /

Organization is an interior design's best friend. Unsurprisingly, human perception is almost entirely visual, so why not make visuals the best they can be? To be sure, organizing is not extremely interesting; it's up there with going to the dentist, for some. However, I enjoy making lemons into lemonade. So pour yourself a glass or two of wine, ...Read more

Hot Property: Singer releases her home's B side

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- Taylor Swift has completed her shake-up in Beverly Hills, selling a Midcentury Modern-style home for $2.65 million. Earlier this year, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter sold another house on the same street for $4 million.

The Midcentury house, a post-and-beam design dating to 1959, was used for guests during Swift's ownership...Read more

Should Realtors' ethics violations be available to the public?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- In an era when you can find almost anything you want to know online about real estate -- the estimated market value of a house, the rankings of neighborhood schools, crime rates, walkability and much more -- there's one important subject that's difficult for consumers to check out: Ethics infractions by local Realtors, including ...Read more

More than half of tech workers say they delayed having kids because of soaring cost of living

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Even Bay Area tech workers blame a lot of their problems on housing. The region's sky-high rents and home prices are exacerbating their commutes, forcing their paychecks to stretch thinner, and, according to a new survey -- keeping them childless longer.

Though some residents blame the area's highly paid tech workers for driving up the cost of ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Retirees and the asset management challenge

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Previous generations, retiring with defined-benefit pension plans provided by employers, seldom concerned themselves with the investments that secured those plans. That was the employer's problem -- except when the investments turned out to be insufficient to make the required pension payments, when it would suddenly become the retirees' problem...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Retirees and the asset management challenge

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Previous generations, retiring with defined-benefit pension plans provided by employers, seldom concerned themselves with the investments that secured those plans. That was the employer's problem -- except when the investments turned out to be insufficient to make the required pension payments, when it would suddenly become the retirees' problem...Read more

Real estate Q&A: I'm disappointed by the home I bought pre-construction. Do I have to close?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Several years ago, we signed a contract with a developer to purchase a new construction condo. After several delays, they finally told us we had to close in just 10 days. When we went to look at our new home, we found it to be very different from the floor plan in the brochure. Do we have to close? --Anne

A: Purchasing a new home pre-...Read more

Miami Beach could soon arrest people operating Airbnb-like rentals without a license

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

In its ongoing battle against illegal short-term rentals, Miami Beach has developed tough tactics: $20,000 fines, late-night enforcement visits, and even an online tool to help property owners screen potential tenants for violations of the city's short-term rental laws.

But none of it has been enough to control the city's flourishing illegal ...Read more

Across much of Southern California, home prices are setting records. But the crunch still lingers for the Victor Valley

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

VICTORVILLE, Calif. -- When the housing market collapsed 10 years ago, the Victor Valley was particularly hard hit. Today, new homes are selling again in Victorville, yet the percentage of rentals has grown.

When the housing market collapsed 10 years ago, the Victor Valley took the blow full force.

Weeds overtook lawns. Vandals broke windows ...Read more

Here's How: Install the Proper Type of Vapor Barrier

Consumer / Here's How /

Dear James: I am having a house built partially on a slab and on a crawl space. Is it necessary to install a vapor barrier under the concrete, and is this something I can do myself to save some money? -- Eileen G.

Dear Eileen: Even though concrete feels as hard as a rock, it is still permeable to moisture in the ground. Most people are quite ...Read more

Everyday Cheapskate: How to Make Even an Elderly Dishwasher Perform Like New

Consumer / Everyday Cheapskate /

There are many things in my life that I enjoy but would not be completely devastated about if I were required to give them up. My dishwasher is not one of them.

During our recent kitchen remodel, we donated old appliances to Habitat for Humanity, all except for my stripped-down 14-year-old Whirlpool dishwasher.

Even though it has been replaced...Read more