Here’s a review of top personal finance stories, columns and studies from publications, websites and blogs across the country.
Mortgage rates dip again
Rates on 30-year mortgages fell again this week, according to Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The average mortgage rate is now 3.32%, below last week’s 3.34%, and only slightly above the all-time low of 3.31% from records dating back as far as 1971. The rate on 15-year mortgages dropped as well, to 2.66% from 2.67 last week. The low rates are assisting in a gradual recovery of the housing market.
Read more at the Washington Post.
How to plan for your kids’ college costs
Parents crunching the numbers on future tuition costs and what finances are required to cover even half of them are often troubled by a stark reality: college for their children is just not affordable. One mother of a 3-year-old recently calculated that the cost of her child’s college education would exceed $500,000. For parents unsure how to move forward, the best place to start is by checking out their state’s college savings plans.
Get the full article at NBC News.
Gift card popularity increasing
All eyes are on the “fiscal cliff” these days, but so far there is more uncertainty than useful guidance. However, MarketWatch has identified 6 tax issues which could be affecting you in the coming year. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take today in anticipation of changes in key investment and expenses areas, including personal medical expenses, deduction limits, and capital gains.
Read more at Wall Street Journal MarketWatch.
TurboTax launches military version
The 2.3 million members of the U.S. military will now have access to a customized version of Intuit’s tax preparation software. Citing unique filing circumstances as well as basic information, Intuit’s TurboTax is offering the program free to those with a rank of E5 and below. They have also launched a $1 million matching program for Operation Homefront, which provides aid to struggling military families.
Read the full article at USA Today.
Terminal years costly for Medicare recipients
The Christmas shopping season is heating up. That’s good news for retailers, but consumers should proceed with caution. The average household credit card debt is currently about $6,700, and another expected $800 in holiday purchases could run that balance even higher. Advertised as 0% deals, deferred interest offers typically only apply for a limited time, after which accumulated finance charges can deliver a devastating blow to the card-holder, if the entire balance is not paid on time.
Read the full article at CNN Money.
Cities with near-zero unemployment
The recent economic downturn has not affected all states and communities the same way. Unemployment across the nation is slowly declining, down to 7.7% as of November. While job markets in many areas are still feeling the effects of an economic recession, there are a number of U.S. cities where practically everyone is collecting a paycheck. Thanks to colleges, mining, construction and related industries, towns like Bismarck, ND, and Lincoln, NE, have very few residents standing in unemployment lines.
See all ten cities with the lowest unemployment rates at 24/7 Wall St.
Top 10 books on personal finance
Whether you are trying to dig yourself out from under a mountain of debt or tackling the challenges of entrepreneurship, there are some great books which give inspiration and can help guide you along your path. Adrian Abrate of Business2Community list 10 of the most popular personal finance books, especially for entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey top the list.
Find out the rest of the 10 top personal finance books at Business 2 Community.