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Irfan Khan/Dreamstime/TNS

US housing starts rose to fastest pace since 2006 in December

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

U.S. home construction starts rose for a fourth-straight month in December to the best pace since late 2006 as builders responded to the robust demand for single-family housing.

Residential starts climbed by 5.8% to a 1.67 million annualized rate, according to government data released Thursday. That topped all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of...Read more


Real estate Q&A: How can I get builder and warranty company to repair new home?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: I recently closed on the new home I purchase pre-construction from a builder. The house has problems, and I am getting nowhere with the warranty company. To make things worse, the issues I reported at my walk-through have still not been fixed. What can I do to get them to fix these discrepancies? — Georgette

A: Buying a new from a builder ...Read more

Biden has big plans for homelessness — but will it help Seattle?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

After years of fighting with former President Donald Trump's administration, national homelessness advocates are, for the first time in a while, feeling hopeful.

Yes, it seems there are more people out on the streets than ever, and homelessness numbers show no signs of decreasing — in fact, studies say they could get worse if nothing is done....Read more

Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Tribune Publishing sued for $4.8 million in missed rent payments as it exits Prudential Plaza

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

As the Chicago Tribune prepares to move from Prudential Plaza, the owner of the downtown office complex has sued the newspaper’s parent company for $4.8 million in unpaid rent.

Property owner Sterling Bay filed the lawsuit against Tribune Publishing Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court.

The Chicago-based newspaper chain hasn’t paid rent ...Read more

Zbigniew Bzdak/TNS

Arianne Cohen: 6 career-damaging ways we make bad impressions

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Did you know that you flub workplace and social interactions all the time? You do. So do I. So does everyone, says Ovul Sezer, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the University of North Carolina. She studies so-called “impression mismanagement” and the social bellyflops by which you offend, insult or create distrust between...Read more

Kirk McKoy/Dreamstime/TNS

Arianne Cohen: The uninformed choice of a college major — trouble ahead

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

It’s second only to choosing a spouse — would you marry a stranger?

The second most consequential decision of your life — after romantic partners — is choosing a college major. It dictates your future jobs and income, the sorts of people you will meet, and, to a large degree, whether life will be an economic grind or a joyous adventure ...Read more


Susan Tompor: Tricks scammers use around stimulus checks, taxes

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

And why wouldn't we suspect that the scammers would be tapping into all the buzz about the latest round of stimulus cash?

Now, the Federal Trade Commission is warning us to be on the lookout for stimulus-related emails that supposedly are being sent by Joseph Simons, the FTC chairman who announced Tuesday that he plans to resign effective Jan. ...Read more

Carolyn Cole/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

Vanguard signals fee war intensifies with active bond ETF plan

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Asset managers hoping 2021 might bring some respite to the fee war are in for disappointment, if Vanguard Group’s latest exchange-traded fund is anything to go by.

The $7.1 trillion investment giant this week filed plans for the Vanguard Ultra-Short Bond ETF, which will track high-quality fixed-income securities and is expected to begin ...Read more

Christine Tannous/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS

Sold-out sewing machines and quilt subscriptions: Sewing rockets 'off the charts' during the pandemic

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Margaret Reynolds' sewing output has come in waves. As a new mom, she made color-coordinated T-shirts for her three boys. When she retired, she sewed dresses for her granddaughters. And during last spring's shutdown, Reynolds, 77, dug out her machine once again, fashioning reversible masks in florals, checks and polka ...Read more

Dirk Shadd/Times/Tampa Bay Times/TNS

On Philanthropy: Predictions on charity and giving for 2021

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

2020 is a year most of us are happy to leave behind. Amid the many disheartening challenges we endured, there were also some positive developments in the philanthropy field that will impact giving in 2021 and beyond. Here’s some of what I’ll be looking for in this New Year:

From charity to justice

2020’s racial justice movement that ...Read more

Joshua Roberts/Dreamstime/TNS

Great year in the markets? Watch out for that tax bite that might be coming

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

The stock market had yet another record-breaking year in 2020. While that means many portfolios likely ended up in the black, it could also mean substantial tax bills for investors who sold stocks last year — especially those that weren't tucked inside an individual retirement account, a 401(k) or some other tax-advantaged retirement account. ...Read more

Millions eligible for big Obamacare subsidies don't claim them

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

If you’re unfortunate enough to have lost company-sponsored health insurance as well as your job amid the economic havoc caused by COVID, you’ve probably been shocked by the cost of private coverage. Monthly premiums for high-deductible plans can run $1,500 to $3,000 — bad enough in good times but devastating when you’re unemployed.

...Read more

JESSICA GRIFFIN/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

Vanguard, BlackRock lag State Street on some proxy votes seeking political donation disclosures: new study

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Wall Street has slowly begun asking for more disclosure of political donations — although not every big institutional investor votes consistently for more transparency.

That's the conclusion of a new study by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Political Accountability, which found that many Wall Street investment firms voted for ...Read more

Social Graces: Here’s what to say to an out-of-town friend who wants to visit

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Q: A friend from out of town wants to visit you, but you are not comfortable hosting someone right now due to COVID-19. How should you respond?

A: In this particular instance, you want to be honest with the person and say exactly why you do not want to host anyone, and you should do so in a way that’s not accusatory, meaning you don’t ...Read more

Intuit's Greg Johnson crafts strategy beyond TurboTax, aims to helps consumers gain financial freedom

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

For Greg Johnson, 2020 was a momentous year on his professional journey.

Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intuit's Consumer Group, Johnson was part of the largest financial technology acquisition to date when Intuit bought Credit Karma last month for $8.1 billion in cash and stock — paving the way for new consumer services.

...Read more


Susan Tompor: Tax returns won't come as quickly this year. Here's why

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Anyone who is looking to pay bills and get a tax refund in early February is out of luck. Expect some significant delays.

The Internal Revenue Service announced Friday that it is going to only begin processing 2020 income tax returns as of Feb. 12. The official kickoff for tax season will be about twor or three weeks later than the usual ...Read more


Federal rent relief is coming. Here's what to expect in California

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Lost jobs and income from the COVID-19 pandemic have put many people around the country, millions by the estimate of some experts, behind on their rent payments.

Eviction moratoriums, nationally and in California, expire at the end of the month, putting many at risk of losing their homes. Tenants in Los Angeles County have protection for longer...Read more

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Companies are dumping Trump brand in wake of Capitol insurrection. But can Chicago shed Trump Tower's giant sign?

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

With the House having impeached President Donald Trump for a second time and corporate America distancing itself in the wake of the deadly Capitol insurrection, the Trump brand is taking a beating in the waning days of his presidency.

Even as pressure mounts to remove the president’s name from his signature property in Chicago, the Trump ...Read more

Susan Stocker / South Florida Sun Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS

Microsoft exploring opening a new office in downtown Miami, sources say

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Microsoft is considering opening an office in Miami's business core.

According to multiple sources who declined to be named, Microsoft is reviewing at least two Class A options for a new Magic City footprint: one, at the still-under-construction 830 Brickell, and the other at 801 Brickell office tower. All sources cited the sensitive nature of ...Read more


Susan Tompor: New rule helps those who lost jobs in 2020 qualify for key tax credits

Consumer / Home and Consumer News /

Many lower-wage workers who are raising families bank on receiving a healthy, four-figure tax refund, likely their biggest single check of the year, when they claim the Earned Income Tax Credit on their income tax returns.

But what happens if you ended up being out of work much of 2020 during the pandemic? Are you suddenly shut out of the ...Read more