What the $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Means for Older Americans

The $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress funds federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, eases the sharp budget cuts known as the sequester and ends the lingering threat of another government shutdown. It also affects a number of programs especially important to older Americans. Here’s how, according to an AARP analysis: Increases spending by $41 million on nutrition programs for older Americans, including Meals on Wheels. This replaces across-the-board spending cuts, called sequestration, that took hold …

What Put the Brakes on Medicare Spending?

The Holy Grail in battles over the federal budget has been how to slow down the runaway train of health care spending. So it surely comes as good news that spending on traditional Medicare has slowed substantially, as a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study shows, and not just because of the broader economic slowdown. For 25 years, spending on traditional Medicare rose, on average, 8 percent a year. Then, from 2007 to 2012, the increase slowed to an average annual …

I’m Taking Away Your Allowance

Q: My husband will not quit spending. He has purchased several vehicles, only to trade them in for less than we owed on them. During our 18-year marriage, we have refinanced our house six times to pay off loans and credit cards. When we refinanced this last time, I refused to pay any of his credit cards or loans off. I would not have even considered refinancing again, but the low rates were appealing. That was 21/2 years ago. I …

The Takeaway: Americans Okay With Their Overspending

It seems a lot of Americans are okay with spending beyond their means from time to time. A new survey conducted by COUNTRY Financial found 52 percent of respondents periodically spend more than they earn in a given month. Yet only 9 percent believe their lifestyle is more than they can afford.

The B Word, the Ultimate Holiday Buzz Killer

I hate the “B” word, no not blonde, since I hear those jokes all the time. BUDGET….it is just like nails running down a chalkboard for me to even think about, much less have to act upon.   However, at this time of year the man I sleep with always reminds me to stay within a budget. He usually brings up the subject every December  when I am in a slight panic that I have not finished my shopping. He …

Secrets of Outsmarting the ATM

I still remember how proud I was to open my first checking account. Even better: getting my work permit when I turned 16, and then going to the grocery store and saying, “I’d like to cash a check.” Pre-ATM days required some planning. Omnipresent ATMs make it easy to grab $20, but it’s the classic case of both blessing and curse. Personal finance writer Donna Freedman clearly believes that curse is more accurate — and for more reasons than you’d …