Washington, January 14: Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, publicly appreciated the efforts being made by the President-elect Barack Obama to bail out the economy from the quagmire it finds itself in.
I have a confession to make: I've never had an emergency fund.
I don't think that I'm immune to financial woes; I just figured I'd tap into my home equity line of credit at a relatively low interest rate, should I run into a financial disaster. Better to keep the cash earning a higher rate of return than stuck in a low-rate bank account, I figured.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average family shells out $1,500 annually for utilities. Air conditioning can account for as much as 70% of summer energy costs. To put this in everyday context, let's hear from Mr. Electricity: He says that running central A/C for 12 hours a day for three weeks uses more energy than leaving the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day for an entire year. (I'm not willing to sacrifice my Fudgesicle stash to fact-check that theory.)
CEOs have tough jobs. Whoever occupies the corner office has a world of worry on their hands these days: inflation, oil, credit markets, consumer confidence, global wars, and a real estate market slowly eating away at the American dream.
Most of us haven't had to seriously answer that question in a long time. We have the careers we have, and maybe we like them and maybe we don't, but in most cases, we’ll keep doing some variation of what we're doing now until we retire.
Reverse mortgages -- a way for seniors to tap into their home equity without having to make monthly payments -- have become a mainstream retirement-planning option in recent years. Despite some drawbacks, for many retirees, a wisely chosen reverse mortgage has helped fund a comfortable, active retirement when savings and pensions alone weren't sufficient.
For the first few months of 2008, it appeared that homebuilding stocks would generally trudge toward higher ground. During the past month or so, however, the group has retrenched. While Pulte (NYSE: PHM) and Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL) still linger around their end-of-2007 prices, rivals like Centex (NYSE: CTX), Beazer (NYSE: BZH), Lennar (NYSE: LEN), and Ryland (NYSE: RYL) are all in negative territory for the year to date.
When my husband and I bought our home in April 2005, the Washington, D.C.-area housing market was in a frenzy. We'd paraded through homes, all priced at far more than half a million dollars, with cracked foundations, slanting floors, and "slight" flooding problems. We'd been told that it was likely we'd lose bidding wars to folks willing to waive the home inspection contingency. In fact, we had lost bids on two other homes, even with escalation clauses that sometimes went thousands over asking price. The market around the area had been red-hot for several years, long enough that many of us forgot it could be any other way.
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