Archive for February, 2016

Leap Year: Facts & Freebies

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Laura Lam

Happy leap day everyone! That’s right, today is a leap day, which means we get to enjoy a whole extra day of February, and people born on February 29 finally get some presents.  But why do we even have leap years?  Our calendar has 365 days in a year, because that’s about how long it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun. The problem is that in reality it takes the Earth around 365 ¼ days (actually 365.24219 days) to circle the Sun (a solar year), which means our calendar is out by around a quarter of a day a…

What’s Driving Up Your Grocery Bill?

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Laura Lam

While Americans have gotten used to price increases on daily necessities over the years, one category in particular has surged recently: your groceries. Basic foods like eggs, meat and bread have all increased by at least 40% over the past decade, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), even though inflation hasn’t been rising as steadily. Food prices nationwide have increased 31.5% from 2005 through 2015, with some items in particular making a huge jump. Eggs, a daily staple for many, came in at No. 1 after more than doubling in cost. Margarine came in third and uncooked ground beef…

Understanding Creditors’ Rights Part 1 – What You Need to Know from an Experienced Creditors Rights Attorney

Posted on February 25, 2016 by Saldutti Law

One of the most worrisome aspects of operating a business is the risk of having a customer owe a significant amount of money and failing to pay. There is a sinking sensation that comes with the realization that repeated efforts at debt collection have gotten you nowhere, and a real fear that you’re never going to be able to get the money you’re owed. As a creditor, you have certain rights and there are specific remedies that provide you with the opportunity to get the payment to which you are entitled, but many of those remedies require the assistance of…

Homebuilder Confidence Declines

Posted on February 25, 2016 by Laura Lam

Confidence among homebuilders dropped in February to a 9-month low as potential buyers stayed away, interrupting the steady progress residential real estate had built over the course of 2015.  The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index decreased to 58 in February from a revised reading of 61 the prior month.  Readings greater than 50 mean more respondents reported good market conditions. Stable employment gains, muted firings and a nascent acceleration in wages are helping support U.S. consumers considering a home purchase, even as fears build around a potential global recession. Borrowing costs have so far remained close…

Banks Speed Up Repo/Foreclosure Process

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Laura Lam

Banks are still holding on to scores of delinquent mortgages that date to the real estate crash, but a surge in home values across the country is motivating them to more quickly move the most troublesome loans off their books.  Over roughly the past year, banks have been ratcheting up repossessions of foreclosed homes to the highest level in 4 years, according to the data firm RealtyTrac. Banks repossessed a total of 449,900 homes in 2015, up 38% from a year earlier, as they aim to capitalize on improving economic conditions and finally push their most seriously delinquent loans through…

Financial Crisis Continues to Affect Some Jobs

Posted on February 23, 2016 by Laura Lam

The nation’s overall employment picture may be improving, but that’s not the case for some of the highest paying positions on Wall Street before the financial crisis.  Those high-voltage stress-inducing jobs that brought in big money on the Street have essentially become relics of the past, eight years after the Great Recession helped wipe them out. Executive recruiter Chad Dean had a front row seat to the carnage.  “The most significant change is the massive reduction of employment on Wall Street, especially in the front office. (Proprietary) trading is gone. Most fixed income desks have shrunk,” said Dean.  “I played…

Tax Checklist: What Documents Do You Need?

Posted on February 22, 2016 by Laura Lam

Last week, we discussed whether you should attempt to do your taxes on your own or hire a professional.  Today, we’re offering a handy checklist to help you get started.  Confused about what you need to file your taxes? The Daily Worth blog has put together this list to get you in the know.  You’ll want to gather these documents: Last year’s tax return: To file your tax return, the tax accountant will need some important documents. If it’s your first appointment, make sure to bring last year’s tax return for their reference. This gives them a good place to start…

Big Banks Top Customer-Satisfaction Survey

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Laura Lam

For the first time ever, the nation’s 6 largest depository institutions scored higher than their smaller peers in overall customer satisfaction, according to the most recent survey data from the marketing firm J.D. Power & Associates. Those 6 banks are Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Financial, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo. The customer-satisfaction survey, conducted since 2006, compares the 6 big banks with regional banks and smaller institutions. Only banks with at least $3 billion in deposits are included in the survey. “What these customers are saying is …the big banks are doing a pretty good job,’” said…

Consumer Credit Default Rates Stabilize

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Laura Lam

Data through December 2015, released by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian for the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices, a comprehensive measure of changes in consumer credit defaults, shows the composite rate at 0.97% in December, unchanged from the previous month. The bank card default rate decreased 42 basis points in December, recording a default rate of 2.49%. The auto loan default rate was unchanged from November with a 1.04% default rate in December. The first mortgage default rate increased 2 basis points, posting 0.84% for December. Three of the 5 major cities saw their default rates decrease during the month of…

Homebuyers Need 3 Years to Break Even in Some Cities

Posted on February 17, 2016 by Laura Lam

Buying remained better than renting in certain situations, but members of the millennial generation continued to have reasons to rent instead of buy, according to Zillow.  Homebuyers in Boston, Washington and New York must stay in a home for at least 3 years, in order to break even on a home purchase, Zillow said in its quarterly Breakeven Horizon report.  Homebuyers in the San Francisco Bay Area also must stay in their homes for at least that long to break even. However, in 70% of U.S. metro areas, homebuyers need to stay in a home for less than 2 years…