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The Journey: Social Security Administration is shortchanging survivors on benefits

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Widows and widowers who were shortchanged on Social Security benefits by an estimated $131.8 million won't get any of that money back, despite an Inspector General report calling for action.

Earlier this year, the administration's Office of the Inspector General issued an audit report that determined the Social Security Administration underpaid...Read more

On Philanthropy: Coherent philanthropy: 6 key lessons for families

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Philanthropy is "coherent" when it is logical, well-organized, well-planned and sensible -- as well as easy to understand and articulate.

Over the years, I have helped dozens of families, foundations, businesses and family offices achieve coherence in their philanthropy. In the realm of family philanthropy, here are six key lessons. (In a ...Read more

Susan Tompor: Students aren't the only ones crushed by school debt

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

College debt is building and, increasingly, parents are on the hook.

Where do you turn when you've maxed out on federal student loans? Ask Mom and Dad to take out some parent loans, too.

The average cumulative federal student loan debt that parents borrow even exceeds what's being taken on by students, according to new research.

On average, ...Read more

United Airlines joins other carriers in peddling credit cards to passengers

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

If you hate unsolicited sales pitches, your next flight on United Airlines might be a bit irksome.

The Chicago-based airline is requiring its flight attendants beginning Sept. 1 to pitch passengers on every domestic and international flight to sign up for a co-branded credit card to boost revenue.

In the past, flight attendants had the option ...Read more

Hot Property: Just click your heels three times

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- A Malibu beach house where actress-singer Judy Garland of "The Wizard of Oz" once lived has sold in a deal completed off-market for $3.545 million.

The buyers are television and documentary writer-director-producer Cynthia Harrison-Wallach and her husband, real estate investment firm head Lewis Wallach.

Set on the sands in the ...Read more

Airbnb provides bigger economic boost for white neighborhoods, study finds

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Airbnb rentals help local economies by driving restaurant traffic and employment in a handful of U.S. cities, but not in predominantly black or Hispanic neighborhoods, according to a study from Purdue University.

The findings run counter to Airbnb's longtime assertion that home hosting helps "diverse" neighborhoods by bringing tourists to areas...Read more

Design Smarts: Remodelista's Julie Carlson on changing it up

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

You can Pinterest, you can Instagram, you can even Houzz. But if you're looking for rock-solid renovation inspo online, you're going to want to check out the site that has the most tightly edited look on the internet -- Remodelista. The pared down, sometimes minimal aesthetic manages to stay true to its look, yet always timeless and even on ...Read more

Alessandra Branca on the classics, the curiosity and the choices that hone her style edge

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO -- Ask Chicago's chicest designer what keeps the rooms she creates looking of-the-moment, and she'll tell you: "What I care about," says Alessandra Branca, "is comfort in a home. I am not worried about what is trendy. I design for my clients and nothing else." Sounds strictly sensible. Yet she's been known to pair racy steel stools with ...Read more

Gentrification misses real problem in Detroit, urban expert warns

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

DETROIT -- As complaints grow louder of gentrification in Detroit, some urban experts advise us to pay more attention to the real problem facing urban America.

That problem is the increasing joblessness and poverty scarring so many cities, including Detroit, where the poverty rate runs close to 40 percent and almost half of working-age people ...Read more

Fewer families affording, buying homes

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The number of U.S. families with children owning homes fell by 3.6 million over the last decade, as rising housing prices pushed many out of the market.

The San Francisco metro area, including the East Bay, saw 31,000 fewer home-owning families between 2006 and 2016, a decline of 10 percent, according to a recent survey by Rent Cafe. The number...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Should you pay off your home mortgage with your 401(k)?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A reader asks: "My current 401(k) balance is about the same as my mortgage balance. I am 45. Would it make sense to pay off the mortgage with the 401(k)?"

Bad idea! Looking ahead to retirement, your objective should be to accumulate a 401(k) nest egg of financial assets as large as possible and pay off your mortgage as soon as possible. You ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Should you pay off your home mortgage with your 401(k)?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

A reader asks: "My current 401(k) balance is about the same as my mortgage balance. I am 45. Would it make sense to pay off the mortgage with the 401(k)?"

Bad idea! Looking ahead to retirement, your objective should be to accumulate a 401(k) nest egg of financial assets as large as possible and pay off your mortgage as soon as possible. You ...Read more

Real estate Q&A: My landlord died — can I be kicked out despite signed lease?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I rent my home and have a signed lease. My landlord passed away unexpectedly and I am now dealing with one of her children who inherited the house. She is telling me that I need to move out early so she can sell the house. That would cause me a significant hardship, and I don't want to. Is my lease still valid even though the landlord died? -...Read more

Do ESG investments outperform? One investor says 'no way'

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

For a different take on environmental, social, and governance-based investing, or ESG, we spoke with Vanguard investor Dan Wiener, who publishes a monthly newsletter on all things Vanguard.

Wiener takes a dim view of ESG. That's largely due to under-performance over a long period of time, he said.

"Over time, ESG and SRI (socially responsible ...Read more

Susan Tompor: How to get a credit card when you've never had one

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The Uber Visa, launched last fall, may target on-the-go millennials with amazing rewards, such as 4 percent for eating out and 3 percent on airfare.

But the odd thing, as with many high-reward credit cards, is that getting approved for one of these Barclays Uber cards isn't a slam dunk for some Generation Y consumers.

Many millennials might ...Read more

Architecture tours lead the way in bringing visitors to increasingly crowded Chicago River

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

CHICAGO -- New Jersey resident Bob Sickles took Wendella's nighttime architecture boat tour down the Chicago River with his wife last year to see the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, among other architects, tower above the green water.

They came back on a muggy Thursday afternoon this summer for a refresher. "Every year there are new, ...Read more

Why the tax overhaul could lead to lower settlements for sexual harassment victims

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The tax overhaul law, written last year near the height of the #MeToo movement, could place a bigger financial burden on victims of workplace sexual harassment and make such cases more difficult and expensive to settle.

Companies have long been able to write off the settlement money they pay out to former employees, as well as related attorney'...Read more

Hot Property: Goal post is moved to Trousdale area of Beverly Hills

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

LOS ANGELES -- New York Giants chairman and Hollywood producer Steve Tisch has touched down in the Trousdale area of Beverly Hills, buying a Midcentury home for $10.05 million. The seller was the estate of late music manager Jordan Feldstein.

Set behind fences and gates, the Robert Skinner-designed home is an example of the International style....Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Home ownership is not for everyone

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The homeownership rate has been increasing recently following more than 10 years of decline. According to the U.S. Census, the rate peaked in the first quarter of 2005 at 69.1 percent and then declined to a low of 62.9 percent in the second quarter of 2016. It has been creeping up since then, reaching 64.2 percent in the first quarter of this ...Read more

The Mortgage Professor: Home ownership is not for everyone

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The homeownership rate has been increasing recently following more than 10 years of decline. According to the U.S. Census, the rate peaked in the first quarter of 2005 at 69.1 percent and then declined to a low of 62.9 percent in the second quarter of 2016. It has been creeping up since then, reaching 64.2 percent in the first quarter of this ...Read more