What You Need to Know About Bonds

Ever wonder why prices of bonds and bond funds do what they do when interest rates fluctuate? Here’s what you need to know about how bonds work — as well as what you may think you already know that’s wrong. When you buy a bond, you are merely lending money to a government entity or corporation. Assuming there is no default, they will pay you interest for a period of time and then give you back your principal. Bonds have …

What You Can Expect When the Fed Raises Rates

Federal Reserve policymakers will meet next week to decide whether to raise a key interest rate. If they do, it’ll be the first time since June 2006. To put that in perspective, the New York Times notes that back then, Facebook was still mostly for college students and its competitor, MySpace (remember MySpace?), had 10 times as many users. If policymakers nudge this rate up, it could have a ripple effect on the pocketbooks of consumers. Many experts predict, though, …

Where to Stash Your Cash This Spring

If you want to make a hundred bucks or even thousands for just an hour of your time, then this post is for you. All you have to do is pick the right place to stash your cash and perhaps change your thinking on certain certificates of deposits (CDs). Read on, and you’ll see that CDs which appear too good to be true really do exist. The power of inertia often has us leaving large sums of cash at our local …

Getting Real About Fund Fees

So it’s time to get real about mutual fund fees. Sure, they’re lower than ever for many funds, especially those that track an index. In fact, the average fund fee is now 1.25 percent, according to Chicago-based Morningstar. Still, even this amount is too high and needlessly gives away most of your expected future gains. To understand this, consider the following: You have to frame your gains in real, after-inflation returns. In other words, your portfolio must match inflation just to keep your spending power intact. You …

Two and a Half Inflation Myths

Inflation lately has been pretty tame. Still, the possibility that it could raise its ugly head again, eating away at our spending power and standard of living, is always in the back of our minds. That’s why it’s important to understand inflation to better protect ourselves from its potential impact. Knowing these myths about inflation is a good place to start. Myth one: Inflation is easy to predict. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures inflation and reports consumer …

Banks Ease Terms for Struggling Student Borrowers

Big banks are beginning to cut some slack to distressed student-loan borrowers. Wells Fargo announced a new program this week that will lower the interest rate on loans so payments will be more affordable based on a struggling borrower’s income. The bank will review borrowers’ financial situations to determine whether they qualify for short- or long-term loan modification. >> 8 Hidden College Expenses According to the Wall Street Journal, both borrowers and cosigners will have to show financial hardship to get a modification. Modifications …