Home & Leisure


Carla Fried: Feeling confident about retirement? Better double-check

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

At first glance, the 2021 Retirement Confidence survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald Research seems to pack good news. The widely read survey shows that nearly 75% of us say we are confident in our ability to retire comfortably.

However, to suggest that three in four of us is sitting pretty on the retirement...Read more


Susan Tompor: Why now isn't a bad time to take out a car loan or mortgage

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The pandemic knocked borrowers on their backs in the spring of 2020, but as the economy regained its footing, so, too, has the willingness of consumers to borrow.

Consumer applications for auto loans, new mortgages and revolving credit cards all mostly returned to pre-pandemic levels by May 2021, according to a new report by the Consumer ...Read more

Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS

She turned an unpermitted backyard studio into the ultimate WFH hideaway

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES — When filmmaker and poet Jane Stephens Rosenthal purchased her 1905 Craftsman-inspired home in Elysian Heights in 2013, she says she was particularly charmed by the backyard's idiosyncratic handbuilt structures.

The previous owner, a set decorator, had adorned the steep, multilevel yard with theatrical arches, a rustic stone ...Read more

Yuri Gripas/Yuri Gripas/TNS

Pelosi's bid to extend eviction moratorium collapses

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bid for a last-minute extension of an eviction moratorium for renters collapsed Friday, leaving millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes after the ban lifts on Saturday.

It was a rare political defeat for Pelosi, who has exercised tight control over House Democrats but was unable to unify...Read more


Susan Tompor: Child tax credit money isn't just like more stimulus cash: What to know

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Back to school sales should get a boost after millions of families banked their first monthly advance for the child tax credit in July. Another monthly payment is around the corner come Aug. 13, too.

But before you throw an extra pair of sneakers or a high-end backpack into the cart, pay attention to the fine print.

Did you know, for example, ...Read more

Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Biden wants more housing units as Hill Democrats urge rental aid

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

As lawmakers work their way through infrastructure proposals and appropriations bills, Democrats are confronted with a gap between President Joe Biden and members of Congress over how to address what both see as a big shortage of affordable housing.

The lines between the two aren’t always clear, but the president is broadly using the ...Read more

Alan Budman/TNS

Real estate Q&A: What can homeowners do when the HOA board isn't doing its job?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Our association’s board of directors is not doing their job. Overgrown landscaping, boats and inoperable vehicles in driveways, and houses that need painting are among the many problems in our community. What can a homeowner do when their board and management company are ineffective? — Margaret

A: The board of directors of your community...Read more

Michael Vi/TNS

Renters search for more space as COVID leaves them working at home

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Many renters are ramping up their searches for bigger places after COVID-19 forced them to work more than a year at home.

Although workers are gradually returning to their regular offices this summer, many are still being allowed to work at home full time or for portions of their workweeks.

Since the pandemic struck down the economy in March ...Read more

Steve Ringman/TNS

Seattle struck a 'grand bargain' on housing. Initial results are coming into view

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The "grand bargain" that Seattle politicians and developers struck for larger buildings and affordable housing is starting to yield some results.

Under the new Mandatory Housing Affordability program formulated in 2015, the city agreed to relax zoning restrictions in more than two dozen neighborhood hubs while requiring developers in those ...Read more


Susan Tompor: IRS issues new batch of 1.5 million unemployment refunds

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Another round of extra tax refund cash began hitting bank accounts Wednesday as the Internal Revenue Service sent money to taxpayers in the middle of an abrupt change in the rules relating to jobless benefits.

About 1.5 million people received an average of $1,686 this week after the IRS adjusted its federal income tax returns. Refunds by paper...Read more


Growing my first pot plant was easy -- until it was time to smoke it

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES — For almost as long as I've known about the cannabis plant, I've wanted to grow my own weed. This is partly because I like everything about it; not just the psychoactive effect of combusting and inhaling it, but also the way it looks, from the slender serrated fan leaves to the densely packed flowers shimmering with a crystal-like...Read more


Carla Fried: Out-of-pocket -- the healthcare number you need to know

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Beyond premiums and deductibles, a bigger potential expense

You know what your household spends each month for your health insurance premium. And you likely know how much you need to kick in — your annual deductible — to cover medical bills before insurance starts actually covering things.

But what about your maximum annual out-of-pocket ...Read more

Social Graces: How to address a friend who keeps bringing up your past

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: Your friend keeps embarrassing you in social circles by bringing up things you did in the past for laughs. How do you gracefully put a stop to it?

A: This is a great question because I have experienced this issue firsthand. A friend has done it to me for years. My usual response is to smile and try to laugh off whatever tale she is ...Read more


Day traders take wall street by storm again in record dip buying

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

On Monday at around 1 p.m. in New York, just as U.S. stocks were gripped by the worst trading session in months, Google searches for the “Dow Jones” spiked.

By the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had clawed back some of the biggest losses, and the next day posted its best performance in a month.

This week is lesson to ...Read more


Susan Tompor: Ready to sell your used car? You may be surprised by its value

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

I'd never, ever call my 2004 Pacifica a clunker. But it has played one in print more than once when I've written about how old cars are bringing home some serious cash.

Back in 2010, used cars were in hot demand and short supply after a Great Recession strategy took many older cars off the road as a way to push new metal off the lot.

Cash-for-...Read more

Carline Jean/TNS

Florida homebuyers should rent and wait out housing boom, experts say

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Researchers are urging Florida homebuyers to consider renting while they wait for the state’s overheated market to cool as soaring prices in South Florida hit records in June.

Statewide, they say, homes are overvalued by 21.76%. creating a risk that buyers could get stuck with overpriced homes for significant periods of time until prices ...Read more

Ellen M. Banner/Digital/TNS

After watching decades of gentrification, Seattle church calls on city to return land

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

At a small park near his church, the Rev. Robert Jeffrey Sr. sees a chance for Seattle to take a step toward righting decades of housing discrimination and gentrification in the historically Black Central District.

Jeffrey's New Hope Missionary Baptist Church once owned a nearby plot of land in what is now the Spruce Street Mini Park. In 1969, ...Read more


'Upzoning' in my backyard? California bill won't turbocharge home building, study says

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A bill advancing through the California Legislature to allow for denser home building in single-family zones would be likely to produce an uptick in the state’s housing supply, but the so-called upzoning probably won’t cause mass redevelopment, according to a report published Wednesday.

The study by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation ...Read more

Zbigniew Bzdak/TNS

'Mega-development' for the Chicago's South Side gets official nod

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The Chicago City Council has approved the sale of the former Michael Reese Hospital site and zoning for a $4 billion mixed-use redevelopment, inching the proposed Bronzeville lakefront project closer to breaking ground.

The $97 million sale of the medical campus will allow a coalition of development companies to move forward on nearly 8 million...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Can my HOA charge me $1,000 to have a tree removed?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I would like to remove a tree on our homeowner association’s property in front of my house. My association wants to charge me around $1,000 for removing the tree, stump grinding and replacing the sod. My question is, can I be charged for this procedure? —Rita

A: Landscaping on your community’s common property belongs to the community ...Read more