Home & Leisure

Chris Sweda/TNS

The end of COVID-19 homeowner protections is unlikely to bring a wave of foreclosures, but some Chicago property owners could be hit harder

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO — Facing the threat of foreclosure on her home, Carla Diamantes was shaken and frustrated.

Her South Shore house is where she grew up, and has been in her family for six decades, she said. But after challenges with her mortgage servicer and upon exiting a COVID-19 program that allowed her to defer payments, she owes thousands of ...Read more


Real estate Q&A: Our condo board is dragging its feet on approving our buyer. What can we do?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: We are selling our condo, and closing is fast approaching. Our board is dragging its feet on approving our buyer. We are getting concerned because we must pack and move out, and we do not even know if our buyer will be allowed to buy our home. What can we do? — Anna

A: Selling your home can be incredibly stressful. Not only do you have to ...Read more


Carla Fried: Inflation is more reason to delay taking Social Security

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The recent increase in inflation could mean retirees already receiving their Social Security benefit might see 2022 it rise by about 5%, which would be the biggest annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in more than a decade.

But the even bigger payoff from a large Social Security COLA will be for anyone at least 62 who has yet to start ...Read more

Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/TNS

New materials can make Florida condos more durable. Almost no one uses them

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Unlike many diseases that afflict aging humans, there are already cures for the most common, serious and expensive threat to thousands of aging buildings along Florida’s coast, a malady that structural engineers have dubbed “concrete cancer.”

The symptoms show up first as rust-stained columns or cracked balconies — tell-tale signs the ...Read more

Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman/TNS

Arianne Cohen: Where should I live? 9 questions with a housing economist

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Our favorite housing economist — yes, we have one of those — is Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who publishes a steady stream of insightful and practical articles on topics like why getting a multi-year lease is a good idea and whom you should blame for high housing costs (spoiler alert: greedy people). We caught...Read more

Kassi Jackson/TNS

Lumber is down from the stratosphere, but still pricy for Minnesota builders and home owners

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Lumber prices, a key cost in home construction and an influence on inflation, have plunged from their peaks this spring but remain well above pre-pandemic levels.

The development is welcome news to people who want to build a new home because, aside from land acquisition and labor, lumber is typically the highest component cost.

Prices on ...Read more

Michael Laughlin/TNS

South Florida is becoming the nation's worst place to rent

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

South Florida could become the worst place in the country for renters by the end of the year, partly because wages don’t keep up with exorbitant rent increases. a new forecast shows.

Renters here are likely to devote 40% of their income to rent by the end of the year, according to a forecast by Zillow, an online real estate marketplace that ...Read more


Susan Tompor: You don't have to text anyone to get child tax credit from IRS

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The third round of monthly advance payments for the child tax credit was scheduled to hit bank accounts Wednesday, given that it's Sept. 15.

So what better time for the scammers to text our phones with promises of big cash?

On the night of Sept. 14, I received this text: "Apply for government pandemic extra stimulus bonus of $1,400."

Of ...Read more

Carolyn Cole/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

Vanguard plans 3 new mutual funds, open to Personal Advisor Service investors only

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Vanguard, which has pioneered low-cost funds that passively track the stock market, plans to launch three new actively managed funds later this year, but they will be available only to customers of the company's adviser service, which charges a 0.30% annual fee.

The funds — Advice Select Dividend Growth, Advice Select International Growth and...Read more


Susan Tompor: How to get a jumpstart on that dreaded FAFSA form

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The shrinking paychecks and job losses of 2020 could prove a bit helpful now, as college students and families make a pitch for financial aid for the 2022-23 school year.

Smaller incomes, after all, could mean a better shot at more financial aid. But if you saw big gains picking stocks and day trading online last year, well, you'll have to take...Read more


Carla Fried: Hidden mutual fund and ETF fees can cost you plenty

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

With more than $30 trillion riding on U.S. mutual funds and exchange traded funds, you would think investors would have a strong grasp of what they pay to own the diversified portfolios.

Mutual funds and ETFs snip off money each year from the portfolio’s assets to cover their costs. Those annual costs are called the annual expense ratio. (Yes...Read more


Arianne Cohen: Career Genius -- Your September guide to slaying it at work

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Bosses lean on the same workers, over and over again

Rob Cross, associate professor of global leadership at Babson College, studies the workday interactions of hundreds of thousands of workers at over 100 organizations, and he’s found that managers and leaders make one critical mistake.

You know how we all have our two to three favorite ...Read more


Carla Fried: Gender wage gap -- saying yes too soon can be costly

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

By one estimate, over a 40-year career the persistent lower pay for women translates to a lifetime earnings penalty of $500,000 less than what men earn (for white women) to more than $940,000 less (for Black women) and $1.1 million less (for Hispanic and Latino women).

Among the causes: gender wage bias by employers; the unequal division of ...Read more


Arianne Cohen: Focusing on your kid's grades could backfire

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Especially now, grades-obsession can lead to cheating; talk about learning

It’s been a rough year for authentic learning. High school and college cheating levels are skyrocketing — or, at least, more professionals are looking for cheating and finding it. “I’ve seen 100-200% increases,” says psychology professor David Rettinger, who is...Read more


Bidding wars: Desperate South Florida renters offer to pay even more than the landlord wants

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Even finding a place to rent is starting to turn into a battle.

Renters in South Florida are offering hundreds of dollars more than the landlord is asking for, or they’re offering to pay a full year’s rent up front in order to obtain a lease.

The situation is further complicating a cutthroat real estate market. Homebuyers are spending well...Read more


Carla Fried: What clients get wrong about their financial adviser

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

With your financial life resembling a three-dimensional chess game — bills, retirement saving, sending kids to college — working with a financial adviser can be a very smart move.

What you pay for that help, unfortunately, can also be a bit of a challenge to figure out. A recent survey by State Street Global Advisors found that 60% of ...Read more

Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Susan Tompor: There's going to be a major toy shortage this holiday season

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Store shelves during the holiday shopping season — and yes, we're talking about Hanukkah and Christmas just days after Labor Day — could prove to be merry but ever so tight.

An inventory squeeze could frustrate shoppers, as 82% of retail executives surveyed are somewhat or very concerned about inventory shortages, according to a new survey ...Read more


Rents rise in all big US cities for first time since COVID-19 hit

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Apartment rents were up in August from a year earlier in all the top 30 U.S. metro areas, the first time that’s happened since the start of the pandemic, according to a new report by Yardi.

The national average rent in multi-family buildings rose 10.3% from a year earlier to $1,539 — the first double-digit rise in the dataset’s history �...Read more

Wealthy Black homes still suffer segregation, Fed study says

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Some wealthy Black families still live in U.S. neighborhoods with relatively low incomes and high rates of unemployment, suggesting other factors such as housing discrimination are at play, according to a Federal Reserve study.

Black households with high income and wealth still lack access to “opportunity neighborhoods,” which have good ...Read more

Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS

Businesses consider ditching downtown St. Louis amid gunfire, violence

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

ST. LOUIS — Multiple large employers are considering moving their offices out of the downtown business district, city officials said this week, after more than a year of nighttime violence and gunfire that has struck buildings, broken windows and injured and killed people.

Just this summer, windows have been shot out at the Laclede Gas ...Read more