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Mar 27,2009
In the midst of all the bad news about mortgages and home foreclosures, there is really some very good news for qualified borrowers. If you're purchasing a new home, or if you've decided to refinance, you can now lock in some enticing low rates, thanks to the Federal Reserve's determination to bring mortgage rates down and get the economy growing. According to Bankrate.com, the national average for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to 5.06 ... [full story]
1882 times read - No comment posted

Mar 27,2009
Dear Mr. Berko: I have had to spend a lot of money to refurbish my office. I tried to borrow about $42,000 from my bank of 16 years (I have a 675 credit score) but they hemmed and hawed and sort of let me know they did not want to make me a loan, especially when they said my loan could cost me 14 percent. I considered a home equity loan, but our home is ... [full story]
2050 times read - No comment posted

Mar 27,2009
Dear Mr. Berko: I have $61,000 to invest and would like to buy a portfolio of six preferred stocks with yields of 8 percent to 10 percent — but no banks, please. I know there's lots of high-yielding junk, but I want the best quality you can come up with. And if they all fall to the Devil I won't blame you for the possible losses. But I think the economy will begin to recover ... [full story]
2351 times read - No comment posted

Mar 27,2009
Dear Mr. Berko: Please tell me about TIPS, or Treasury Inflation Protected Securities. Please tell me how they work and if you think they will be a good hedge against inflation due to the huge pile of money that the government is spending on the stimulus package and the TARP. I have an independent retirement account that has lost nearly 60 percent in the past 12 months. At age 57, I'm considering liquidating the remaining ... [full story]
1688 times read - No comment posted

Mar 27,2009
Most of the tax talk so far this year has focused on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the Stimulus Bill). So it's easy to have overlooked some of the changes that affect your 2008 return due on April 15. This column gives you a quick review of some potential money savers. And while I'm at it, I'll also remind you of a few commonly overlooked deductions and give you a heads-up ... [full story]
1309 times read - No comment posted

Mar 27,2009
Dear Mary: I read your column every day, and you often discuss credit scores. I also hear about the negative effects of a bad credit score over and over on TV. I have one credit card, which I pay off every month; I own my home and cars, and I don't plan on taking out any loans ever again. So I'm curious. Why should I care about fluctuations in my credit score? -- Beth L., ... [full story]
1602 times read - No comment posted

Mar 23,2009
Every day, more than 100 Chicago-area homeowners receive a foreclosure notice. It's an epidemic that is accelerating, with the impact spreading through all neighborhoods — from inner city to middle class to wealthy suburbs. Some of those foreclosures are on empty condos or subdivision houses, where "flipping" real estate seemed to be the sure road to riches only two years ago. But the vast majority of foreclosures hit young families, middle-age couples, or first-time homebuyers ... [full story]
1773 times read - No comment posted

Mar 23,2009
Dear Mr. Berko: I don't believe the stimulus bill will work unless we get a wakeup call and look at all the things on retailer's shelves and counters labeled "Made in Hong Kong," "Made in Mexico" or "Made in India," etc. One of the big mistakes the people of America made that caused this recession is that we purchased so many products made in foreign countries that took jobs from U.S. workers. The reason Wal-Mart, ... [full story]
1833 times read - No comment posted

Mar 23,2009
Dear Mr. Berko: We paid $489,000 for a three-bedroom, 1,752-square-foot home on a small lot in March 2006. Today it's worth less than $250,000. As you can see the mortgaged amount is $200,000 more than our home is worth. Fortunately, my job is secure — I think! We have two questions. Who or what economic happening caused this mess were are in? And how long do you think it will take for our home value ... [full story]
1463 times read - No comment posted

Mar 23,2009
Dear Mr. Berko: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke says the recession will be over by the end of 2009. Some members of Congress say that with the stimulus package and Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, the recession will end this year or sooner. Many of my friends and co-workers don't believe them. Can you give us your honest opinion of the stimulus package and TARP? Would the Republican package be better than the Democratic ... [full story]
1229 times read - No comment posted

Mar 23,2009
In a recent column I talked about the positive reasons for postponing retirement. But to a lot of folks today, merely postponing retirement now seems like a pipe dream. As they've watched their net worth decline, some are convinced they'll never be able to retire at all. Is there anything you can do to keep your retirement dreams alive? I say yes. Just keep doing much of what you've been doing to prepare for retirement ... [full story]
1143 times read - No comment posted

Mar 23,2009
In the face of continuing economic challenges, more and more people are asking me for new ways to handle their finances. They're more than worried — some are downright scared that they'll never reach the financial dreams they once had for themselves and their families. Granted, many of us are confronting new financial questions, but that doesn't mean the answers have to be new. In fact, I believe that the financial advice that made good ... [full story]
1415 times read - No comment posted

Mar 23,2009
The best way to raise financially confident kids is to allow them to make their own financial decisions beginning at a young age. Then allow them to live with the consequences. In my book "Debt-Proof Your Kids," I tell the story of our two boys and the plan we implemented. It works because it allows kids to make mistakes while they are still small and easily rectified. Recently, I heard from Marsha A., who read ... [full story]
1202 times read - No comment posted

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