Here’s a review of top personal finance stories, columns and studies from publications, websites and blogs across the country.
Investors wary of “Fiscal Cliff”
As the “fiscal cliff” approaches, investors are wondering what will happen if we tumble over the edge. A combination of tax increases and spending cuts totaling $700 billion could take effect on January 1, 2013, unless Congress and the President are able to come to terms on debt reduction. According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the resulting impact on American household income and spending power could send the economy back into recession. So don’t be surprised if you see investors selling stocks at the end of the year in order to pay taxes at the current 15%, rather than a potentially higher rate in 2013.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.
Different options to consider when investing for retirement income
The uncertainties in the marketplace have taken their toll on portfolios everywhere, and are making investing today as risky as ever. And with potential changes to Social Security and Medicare, the need to invest for retirement income continues to grow. But investors looking for retirement income have more options besides traditional bonds.
Read the full article on U.S. News & World Report.
Fiscal cliff muddies year-end tax advice
Changes to taxes could be looming if the “fiscal cliff” is not averted. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that dividends, stock gains, estates and even ordinary income could be taxed at higher rates come Jan 1, 2013, leaving many taxpayers unsure as to what to expect and how to prepare. The old standard had been to sell losers at the end of the year. But with tax rates potentially increasing in 2013, many investors may also want to sell some of their winners as well.
Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune.
Devil in the details when ending tax loopholes
One of the remedies proposed to increase revenue – and avoid the coming “fiscal cliff” – is to eliminate loopholes or limit deductions for corporations and high-earning individuals. This approach has been championed by many Republicans and a few Democrats. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as some believe, as many of the biggest loopholes indirectly affect middle class families, including employee health care coverage and home mortgage deductions.
Read the full story at the Times Free Press.
People still finding a way to give to charities during the holiday season
Charitable donations are down from years past, but according to Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy, people contributed $298.4 billion to charities in 2011 – 4 percent more than the previous year. The overwhelming majority of these donations came from individuals, showing the generous side of human nature, even in times of financial trouble.
Read more from the Huffington Post.
Most confusing auto policy terms for consumers
Although auto insurance requirements are sometimes mandated by the state or individual lenders, much is left to the consumer to figure out. FoxBusiness reviews five important car insurance terms that define each policy’s coverage – but are often misunderstood by many car owners.
Read more at Fox Business.
Coffee cheaper, except for Starbucks
Over the past year, the price of coffee has dropped by almost a third. However, the cost to the average “joe” coffee drinker is likely to increase. Wholesale prices for Arabica coffee (the type preferred by major coffee retailers) is at $1.71 per pound as of October. That’s down from $2.48 of a year ago, a drop of about 30%. However, consumers shouldn’t expect to see any price drops from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. In fact, Starbucks increased drink prices by 1% in much of the Northeast and South earlier this year.
Read the complete story at Wall Street Journal Marketwatch.