Posts by Jeanie Ahn
- Jeanie Ahn at Yahoo Finance3 days ago
Buying store-brand products can save money, but how do store brands compare to the quality of famous name brands? For years, Tod Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports, has been putting hundreds of brands to the test. What he found was that many store-brand items cannot only compete, but beat leading name-brand products. And consumers are starting to take notice. “Over the years we’ve seen a steady increase in that quality perception [of store brands]. Most people, in fact, think that store brands are as at least as good as national brands,” says Marks. Toilet paper Testing 19 different brands of toilet paper, Marks was surprised to find that Walmart’s White Cloud Toilet Paper was given a score of 88 on the Consumer Reports rating scale, 17 points higher and nearly half the price of Charmin’s Ultra Strong which scored 71. Other strong performing store brands included Up & Up toilet paper from Target and Great Value Ultra Strong from Walmart, both scoring 68, three points higher than Charmin’s Ultra Soft. At the bottom of the list was Scott’s 1000-sheet rolls, with thin, less durable sheets that are not as soft. Paper towels For this popular household item, Marks says you get what you pay for. Bounty was clearly the strongest brand with three of its products at the top of the list. Marks was impressed by the performance of Bounty’s DuraTowel because of its strength and absorbency. With a high score of 96, it’s a product that “you can use, wash, rinse, and repeat,” said Marks. Popular brand Brawny paper towels scored a 68, the same as Walmart’s Great Value Strong & Absorbent line. Again, Target’s Up & Up Full Sheet Puddle Busters was a close contender with a rating of 65. The worst store brand paper towels were from CVS, Home Depot, and Family Dollar. Coffee While coffee is a always a hot topic, all of the reviews were lukewarm. “None of the 37 house blend coffees Consumer Reports tested blew our socks off,” said Marks. While Starbucks was the best of the bunch, it was more expensive and only slightly higher in its rating when compared to house blends from Whole Food’s “Allegro” and Walmart’s “Sam’s Choice.” All of the above had scores in the 50s. Popular leading brands like Folgers and Maxwell House had scores in the 20s. Condiments: ketchup & mayo Store brands are catching up to the famous formulations in brands like Heinz Ketchup and Hellman’s Mayonnaise. “What we’ve noticed here at Consumer Reports is that more and more manufacturers are going to reformulate their store-brand products and mimic the flavor of those legacy brands at a lower price.” To stay ahead of its competitors, leading national brands like Heinz are constantly coming out with new offerings. Lightbulbs While prices on energy-efficient lightbulbs have dropped, the quality has only gotten better. Store-brand lightbulbs from Walmart and Ikea tested comparably to name brands like GE and Phillips. “Energy-efficient lighting has come a long way
- Jeanie Ahn at Yahoo Finance7 days ago
At 53, Sue Dodick is a bit older than your average intern. But she’s embracing her internship opportunity as her way to get into the workforce -- again. Twelve years earlier, Dodick left her job at the height of her career as a successful portfolio manager to spend time with her children. With 18 years of experience under her belt, it was a difficult decision to make, but she felt her children needed a parent at home. When she started looking for work again, Dodick found the job search intimidating after being on the sidelines for so long. But a new internship program offered by JPMorgan Chase helped smooth her transition to full-time work again. “I liked the idea that JPMorgan Chase was welcoming people back. I definitely wanted to get back into finance and I thought a program like this would be a good fit,” said Dodick. Companies like Goldman Sachs were among the first to pioneer new “Returnship” programs, specifically geared toward tapping into the talent of professionals wanting to get back in the workforce. Within the last year, big financial services firms like JPMorgan Chase, MetLife, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and othershave followed suit, launching their own highly selective “Return to Work” programs with the goal of hiring the interns as full-time employees. These programs are especially helpful for women who stepped away from their jobs to take care of their children full time. Like Dodick, 43% of “highly qualified” women (defined as those with a graduate degree, a professional degree, or a high-honors undergraduate degree) with children take time off to be with their families, according to a Harvard Business Review report by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder of the Center of Talent Innovation. After the extended break, 93% who have “off-ramped” their careers are eager to return to work full time, but only 40% successfully do so. On average, women who stay at home for two years can lose about 18% of their earning power once they return to work. For those who take more than three years off, this figure climbs to 38%, according to Hewlett. Carol Fishman Cohen, co-founder of employment consultancyiRelaunch, has seen people relaunching their careers make up for the loss in time and compensation. But it takes some hard work to make it happen. Here are Cohen’s top strategies for people looking to get their careers back on track: 1) The career break can be a gift. For some, it’s the first time we’ve had the opportunity to step back and think about whether or not we were on the right career path to begin with. We may have fallen into our careers right out of school without a real plan, or maybe we pursued career goals out of pressure from others. Returning to work after a career break is our opportunity to figure out if our interests or skills have changed, and to determine our post-break career plan based on our
- Jeanie Ahn at Yahoo Finance19 days ago
Families that have waited to go back-to-school shopping can score plenty of deals right now. In fact, savings are hard to miss when you’re shopping this time of year because of the convergence of three different sales: end-of-summer clearances, back-to-school supplies deals, and Labor Day sales. According to the National Retail Federation, parents are expected to spend $26.5 billion this shopping season, second only to holiday spending. Households with children in grades K-12 are expected to spend $580 to $670 on apparel, shoes, and supplies and electronics. The older your children are, the more likely you are to spend on big-ticket items like electronics. For the best back-to-school deals out there, we tapped Mark LoCastro of DealNews for tips on where to go when it comes to the most in-demand types of products. Electronics Based on historic trends that DealNews tracks, LoCastro says to expect the highest volume of laptop deals from the following retailers: 1. Lenovo 2. Toshiba 3. Newegg 4. Dell 5. HP Home & Home Office Store Some of the latest deals include a Toshiba Satellite laptop for $199 on eBay, a Labor Day sales0 G Series laptop for $419, and a Labor Day sales1 for $630 from HP and Labor Day sales2" PC599Q2" cuts the price to $605. Dell is also cutting up to 50% off laptops and desktops in their Labor Day sales3 sale now. If you’re looking for Android tablet deals, make sure to check out this top 10 list of retailers: 1. Labor Day sales4 2. Newegg 3. Labor Day sales6 4. Lenovo 5. Labor Day sales8 6. Labor Day sales9 7. National Retail Federation0 8. National Retail Federation1 9. National Retail Federation2 10. National Retail Federation3 National Retail Federation4, for instance, has an National Retail Federation5 on sale now for $200 (a $30 discount). For Apple lovers, each year there is a special back-to-school promotion. This year the company is offering a $100 National Retail Federation6 store gift card to college students when they purchase a Mac by Sept. 9. The Apple Store continues to offer a discount on a selection of MacBook Air laptops starting at $779. While Best Buy isn’t currently offering any special Apple deals, LoCastro suggests checking the electronics giant before school starts because it often puts Apple products on sale on or after Labor Day. Apparel Some of the best deals for clothing are at department stores like National Retail Federation7, National Retail Federation8, and even National Retail Federation9, as well has big-box retailers like DealNews0. Clothing has typically seen mark-downs between 30% and 50%, LoCastro says. Summer clothing should be on clearance now, so you will see steeper discounts on those items. But for fall apparel, expect about 20% off. Shoes For shoe deals check out stores
- Jeanie Ahn at Yahoo Finance27 days ago
When David Beermann retired earlier this year from a career as a nurse at age 66, he expected to receive his full Social Security benefits. His wife Sandra, a retired teacher, also planned to file for full benefits when she turned 66 in September.
But after a chance encounter with a local financial planner, the Beermanns have adopted a new Social Security strategy that will result in potentially $70,000 of additional income over the course of their expected lifetimes. Tony Drake, a certified financial planner in Waukesha, Wisc., said people like the Beermanns, who are or have been married, stand to gain thousands of dollars by utilizing their spousal benefits.
Breaking up is hard to do no matter when it happens. But getting divorced later in life can be especially traumatic, both emotionally and financially.
There are now more divorcées over the age of 50 than ever before. In 1990, just one in 10 people who got divorced was over 50; today, it’s one in four, according to “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” an analysis of federal statistics conducted by researchers at Bowling Green State University.
For this age group, some of the biggest challenges include divvying up accumulated assets and learning how to take control of their finances, often for the first time.
Lisa Baio, 53, was married for 27 years but knew she wanted to get divorced when her fourth child, Jade, now 19, was a toddler. Jade was born with a bone disease that requires special medical care, and Baio, who devotes much of her time to her daughter’s caretaking, felt she wouldn’t be able to support her children on her own. So she waited to divorce until her husband retired so she could collect part of his pension.
Permanently traveling the world sounds like it could quickly drain your finances. But for Derek Earl Baron, 37, founder of wanderingearl.com, it was the most lucrative decision of his life. He’s been on the road for 5,268 days — over 14 years — visited 88 countries, and worked 10 different jobs.
After graduating college, Baron was only planning to travel for three months before buckling down to start his career in sports management. But a week into his trip, he decided corporate life wasn’t for him.
“In just that one week I had so many life-changing travel experiences, that [I thought] there must be so many more of those experiences out there in the world. I decided that I couldn’t go back,” Baron told Yahoo Finance. Determined to make a living while on the road, he was able to find money-making opportunities that allowed him to save money while seeing the world.
It’s an undeniable fact that seniors are making up a larger portion of the American workforce, either because they can’t afford to retire yet or they just don’t want to. And it’s becoming increasingly crucial for those 50-and-over workers to stay professionally relevant. Yahoo Finance tapped Barbara Corcoran, founder of her eponymous real estate company and investor on “Shark Tank,” to find out how older workers can stay relevant and thrive in a demanding job market. Keep up with technology While older employees can be valued for their experience and maturity, they can also be seen as inflexible and resistant to learning new technologies, as found in a 2000 AARP report. In an AARP survey of older workers in 2012, 75% disagree with the statement that they have a difficult time keeping up with all the new technology required to do their job. To counter this negative impression, Corcoran says learning new technology is the first thing you need to do to stay in the game. “All of our communication today is based on technology and many people who are older don’t make that effort to get on the modern page. You have to if you’re going to live,” she says. Team up with younger colleagues Whether you’re in a management position or not, everyone has to get along with co-workers. Corcoran has noticed that older employees get too comfortable interacting only with the people they got started with, and avoiding younger colleagues. She told Yahoo Finance that your best insurance policy is to make an effort to stay connected to your colleagues and clients. “Think of yourself as Mr. Hospitality because if you ingratiate yourself to people and truly help them, you are indispensable. No one gets rid of the old guy or the old girl who everybody adores,” says Corcoran. Be open to new experiences Many studies support the idea that getting out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to try new experiences keeps you happy and healthy. Corcoran agrees and says it’s important to take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills and meet new people. “The more facets you have to yourself that are new, the more people are attracted to you. So it keeps you on your game, keeps you on the edge,” she says.
If you talk to enough baby boomers or new retirees about what they wish they could do differently, chances are many of them would mention a retirement plan do-over of some kind. And even if you’ve managed to build up a sizable nest egg, executing on the right way to withdraw those funds is just as important as saving. Crucial mistakes along the way can jeopardize the money you’ve worked so hard to save up. As a certified estate planner, Jean Ann Dorrell helps retirees revise their financial and legal plans. In the process, she repeatedly comes across clients who have similar money regrets. Below are some of the costly mistakes Dorrell says you can avoid: Regret #1: Relying on your pension Two summers ago, I think I got about 50 phone calls from clients who expected that they would continue to get a pension from [their company], and all of a sudden they were getting called to a retiree meeting where they were being told: “Here, we’re going to just cash you out,” or, “You can continue with an annuity with this company that we’ve partnered with, but we’re not going to do it anymore.” Others have said, “It’s your responsibility to invest it or put an income stream to yourself from it.” My advice for people who are left with a bucket of money is to invest it safely. The last thing you want to do is put that money in the stock market and risk it – that may mean back to work you go! And who wants to do that in their 60s? I would suggest safe bank-insured investments like CDs or money markets. If you can stomach a longer-term investment for a better return, then utilizing a fixed index annuity with an income rider to guarantee an income for life, similar to a pension, is recommended. Regret #2: Having too many accounts The most I’ve seen is 16 different retirement accounts at different institutions. It becomes overwhelming. So while they’re trying to have this nest egg, what ends up happening is they have a bunch of scrambled eggs. They have things all over the place, and they laugh when we talk about this, but it is a source of concern because they just tend to not open those statements. You can use one financial institution as the umbrella for all of your financial accounts and you can maintain diversity in each account at the brokerage firm or at the financial institution, so that when you get your statement, all of your accounts show up on one statement. You can see the holdings, you can change them, and still be diverse, but simplify and get one statement instead of 16.
Saying "I live with my parents" is typically not something you want to advertise. But despite the social stigma, more young adults are moving back home than ever before. According to a Pew Research study, 36% of those 18 to 31 years old, a record total of 21.6 million millennials, lived in their parents' home in 2012. Coming together under one roof again can be an uncomfortable adjustment for parents who thought they were done raising their kids, but find themselves having to parent in a new way. With grown children, expert Rachel Cruze, author of "Smart Money Smart Kids," recommends establishing clear guidelines and setting expectations in writing. Below are Cruze’s five tips on how the whole family can work together to maintain a healthy relationship under one roof: Write a contract If your adult child is not moving out, have a formal contract with your kids with a move-out date and some other expectations that you have. It kind of seems formal -- it may sound a little crazy -- but when it’s in writing, it’s going to stick more than if it’s just this idea that you kind of talk about. And it’s not a formal legal document, nothing’s going to happen if you break it, but I think it just shows that, clearly communicating, “This is exactly what we expect for you.” Set a reverse curfew I love the idea of a reverse curfew, meaning you kick them out of the house from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for them to go and apply for jobs because a lot of these adult children don’t have jobs and they’re not making an income. So again, instead of them sitting around the house doing nothing, you kick them out of the house and you say, “Between 8 and 5 you’re not allowed to come back. You have to be out applying for jobs.” Set realistic goals College graduates should be looking for a job, not just necessarily the “dream” job. I think a lot of them have this expectation coming out of school that they have their degree and they’ve been studying this passion of theirs. And that’s great! I want you to get a dream job eventually, but you may not find it right after college. So you need to be very aware that your dream job may be not just sitting there waiting for you, that you need to go make any type of money at any job possible while still looking for the dream job on the side. The six-month mark Your kids can live at home, I think, up to six months. Six months is a great mark to say, "Now it’s been too long." And so for me, I always tell parents to over-communicate with their kids and to figure out a time frame that’s best for your family. But six months is a good point. You just don’t want it to extend because that’s when it starts to harm them when
- Jeanie Ahn at Yahoo Finance2 mths ago
Growing up as the daughter of famous investor Charles Schwab, Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz always made saving a priority. But it wasn’t until her 40s that she got intentional about her retirement savings. Despite her financial pedigree, it didn’t preclude her from seeking professional help from an investment advisor. “Even the experts hire experts. It takes out the emotions, it makes you show up, learn and have better outcomes,” she told Yahoo Finance. When she turned 50, Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation, became even more driven to provide a reality check for her peers. “For anyone who is turning 50, we want to have a sense of control in our lives, but with the lack of savings in our country, so many baby boomers are ill-prepared,” she said. In fact, more than a third of people 55 and older have saved less than $10,000 for retirement, according to a study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In her book, The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty, Schwab-Pomerantz says it’s never too late to start taking charge of your financial future. Here are a few of her rules of thumb to help you catch up after age 50: Make savings non-negotiable People who aren’t really taking their savings seriously, unfortunately, are going to move themselves into this area of poverty. For someone who hasn’t been saving, take a real hard look at where their money is going and make savings automatic, non-negotiable. If you make savings a high priority, there’s a lot of opportunity to make a difference. Let me give you a financial example: If a 50-year-old was to take advantage of the 401(k) and save $23,000 for the next 15 years until they’re 65, at a 6% rate of return that money can grow to [about] $570,000. Also take a look at credit card debt because the interest that you’re paying could easily be going to savings. The 25 Times Rule You will need 25 times the amount you’ll need to withdraw from your savings to supplement retirement or any other reliable income. So, for instance, if you need $40,000 per year of supplemental income, you will need a million dollars saved at the time of retirement. The Minus 10 Rule If you start saving in your 20s, you can save up to 10% and you should have a relatively comfortable retirement. However if you wait until your 30s, you’re going to have to save at least 20%. And then your 40s [save] 30%, and 50s of course 40%. That sounds like a lot of money, but in this country two-thirds of Americans use Social Security as their primary source of income. For a third of Americans, it’s their only source of income. And, unfortunately, the average amount of Social Security is approximately $15,000 [a year]. Are there things that you can cut out? For instance, even life insurance. For a lot of people it’s a waste of money -- they don’t have dependents or