Posts by Mandi Woodruff
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance21 hrs ago
Things aren’t looking great for aspiring homeowners in the U.S.
In a by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, researchers offer a sobering peek into the homes of renters. Nearly one-quarter of renters in a survey of 25,509 renters and homeowners combined say meeting their monthly financial commitments is “very difficult,” and more than half say they wouldn’t be able to come up with $2,000 to cover an emergency expense.
Homeowners, by comparison, feel much more stable. Half as many homeowners as renters say they find meeting their monthly bills “very difficult” and nearly half say they have no trouble meeting their monthly expenses, according to the report.
Because the cost of renting and buying varies so widely across the U.S., you have to take reports like these with a healthy dose of salt. In some metro areas, like San Antonio and Phoenix, it’s actually much than rent.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance3 days ago
What if the answer to solving most of your money problems was all in your head?
According to the field of behavioral economics, humans are practically hard-wired to overspend and let their emotions steer their financial decisions (often in the wrong direction). The pull of our emotions can be so strong that even when facts are presented clearly to us — we must save for retirement, we must not spend more than we earn — again and again, we find ourselves falling short.
In a new documentary that aired on public television this week, a team of behavioral economists and financial experts help pick apart the human brain in an effort to reveal exactly how it can so often work against us — and what we can do to stop it.
“The ability of the emotional mind to overcome the rational side of our brain is the scary thing,” says Gerri Walsh, president of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, which sponsored the film. “We wanted to translate these concepts into plain English and also give individuals something they could do to help them overcome them.”
Here are a few ways your mind is playing tricks on you:
We are too easily intoxicated by price.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance11 days ago
When Deanne Overvold’s husband, Lee, started complaining of back pain late last year, she thought the painkillers his doctor prescribed would be the end of it. Five months later, a round of lab tests would reveal that Lee, 60 , wasn’t just suffering from a backache — he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a fast-moving bone marrow cancer.
“You never realize the cost of catastrophic illness until you’re in it,” says Deanne, 60. “It’s rather devastating to go from being able to pay the bills to wondering how you’re going to take care of the next month."
In their 30 years of marriage, the Overvolds had each taken on traditional household duties — Lee worked and managed the finances, while she cared for their two sons at home. At the time of his diagnosis, Lee earned $120,000 a year working in sales for an energy company in their hometown, Fontana, Calif. The rigor of his treatment regimen forced him to leave his job on disability, which cut the family’s income by 40%. Very quickly, his hospital bills consumed their emergency savings and the couple began drawing on his retirement benefits much earlier than expected.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance17 days ago
Like schlepping to the gym in a snowstorm, sitting down to put together a monthly budget has to be one of the least enjoyable tasks known to mankind. More than two-thirds of Americans freely admit they don’t even bother with a budget, according to a . That’s despite the fact that one-third agree that their is having enough money to cover their bills each month.
Could a new financial smartwatch change that?
That’s what former CNN and CNBC news anchor Nicole Lapin is banking on anyway. This week Lapin is launching the . Through its iPod-like touchscreen, the CASH smartwatch, which sells for $139, lets consumers track their day-to-day expenses manually and syncs to an online budget they create at cashsmartwatch.com.
“I think budgeting is a tough thing to do for a lot of people,” Lapin says. “It was important to me to make this a wearable device that is actually a physical reminder that you’re on a budget.”
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance18 days ago
When the federal health insurance marketplace officially debuted this time last year, Marta Hardy, 60, felt just one emotion: relief.
At the time, Hardy, who lives in Lakeland, Ga., had gone nearly four years without insurance. She had a decent-paying job working full-time at a small manufacturing plant, but the company didn’t offer health plans. Her husband was already retired and could take advantage of Medicare. That left Hardy, who was recently diagnosed with thyroid disease and takes medication for high blood pressure, entering her 60s with no safety net.
“I was excited to finally have an opportunity to have insurance,” she says. “Then I checked [the marketplace] and I found that the lowest tier was going to run me $725 per month, plus a $6,300 annual deductible. That is a house payment or two car payments for me.”
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance21 days ago
By the end of October, Walmarts across the nation will begin offering customers access to a new low-fee checking account via online banking system
This isn’t the mega-retailer’s first foray into the consumer banking business. Two years ago, Walmart partnered with American Express (AXP) to launch , a low-fee prepaid debit card. It was a strategic move aimed at targeting the millions of consumers in the U.S. who don’t maintain regular bank accounts.
With the GoBank checking account, Walmart is once again hoping to woo customers who are wary of the high fees associated with traditional banks. Walmart says the GoBank accounts won’t have minimum balance requirements or overdraft fees. But they aren’t entirely fee-free. First of all, you can only open an account by purchasing a $2.95 starter kit from Walmart, which includes the debit card itself. There's also a minimum deposit of $20 required when you open the account.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance24 days ago
A decade ago, Julia and Bob Beardsley were on their way to what they predicted would be a perfectly comfortable retirement. The San Francisco Bay couple (Bob was an executive consultant and Julia a retired art teacher) had diligently saved 10% of their income from day one of their 30-year marriage. But a perfect storm of events — three job layoffs in eight years for Bob, a costly cancer diagnosis for Julia, and the financial crisis — all but obliterated their nest egg.
When Bob celebrated his 66th birthday this year, he and Julia, 71, were no longer planning for retirement. They were barely scraping by. Their 401(k)s, reduced by half when the financial market crashed, were suddenly their main source of income. Bob estimates they spent one-third of what was left in their accounts simply covering their household expenses.
“We were very typical middle class boomers who thought that we were fine but we weren’t,” says Julia. “And I know we’re not the only ones in this situation.”
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance24 days ago
Your 40s should be the most financially empowering decade of your life. After all, both men and women reach their peak earning potential in their 40s, according to PayScale.com.
But the bigger your paychecks get, the more difficult it can be to keep your finances in control. Suddenly, the things you thought you could afford — the monthly mortgage payments, the occasional vacation, the SUV, your kids’ dance lessons — become too much to bear.
When that happens, keeping an eye on the present while still planning for your future is a challenge. Things like retirement and college savings accounts may go underfunded -- or unfunded -- while you struggle to stretch your bank account.
To help you make the most of this decade, here are a few common money mistakes to avoid:
Super-sizing your house.
By the time you’ve reached your 40s, you may feel as if you’ve outgrown the cozy starter home that felt perfectly spacious when you were in your 30s. Resist the temptation to buy more house than you can comfortably afford. Apart from taking on a bigger mortgage, larger homes mean more electricity costs, higher maintenance fees, and steeper property taxes, too.
- Mandi Woodruff at Yahoo Finance28 days ago
With the one-year anniversary of the federal health insurance marketplace nearing, the who signed up for coverage in its inaugural year have a crucial decision to make: Will they keep their current plan, for better or for worse, or shop around for a new one?
This time around, people will have have even less time to make up their minds. Open enrollment will last just three months this year (Nov. 15-Feb. 15), compared to the six months consumers were given in 2013 when the federal and state exchanges launched.
“Even if they’re deliriously happy with their plans, everyone who signed up needs to pay attention to the fact that open enrollment is coming,” says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “This is the time to review your plan choices, make changes if you want or don’t if you’re happy.”