The Week: Most Recent from Sergio Hernandez recent posts.en-usMon, 28 Jul 2014 08:51:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent from Sergio Hernandez from THE WEEKMon, 28 Jul 2014 08:51:00 -0400Personal finance tips: The risks of medical credit cards, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1"> Saving on back-to-school purchases<br /></span></strong>Back-to-school shopping isn't the "frenzied one-day spending spree" it used to be, said Kaitlyn Krasselt at <em>USA Today</em>. Families are expected to spend an average of $670 on school supplies, clothes, and electronics this year, but more parents "are shopping strategically online and picking up additional in-store items when necessary," spreading out their purchases over time. For the essentials, experts say the best way to save is to avoid brick-and-mortar stores altogether and wait for Labor Day sales. In the meantime, late July and early August can be a great time...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 28 Jul 2014 08:51:00 -0400Are tax inversions unpatriotic?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Treasury Secretary Jack Lew thinks U.S. corporations moving overseas should be ashamed, said Jim Puzzanghera at the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>. In a letter to lawmakers, Lew called for "a new sense of economic patriotism" and urged Congress to enact laws that would stop U.S. companies from reorganizing as foreign firms to avoid paying taxes &mdash; a practice known as tax inversion. It's an increasingly popular loophole that spells disaster for corporate tax revenue, said Edward D. Kleinbard at <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>. In an inversion, a U.S. firm acquires a much smaller company based in a tax-friendly...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:45:00 -0400Personal finance tips: How to invest in your company's shares, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Investing in your company's shares<br /></strong></span>Don't put all your eggs in your employer's basket, said Jason Zweig at <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>. Before you buy stock in your own company, "set your emotions aside" and carefully assess the risks. While you're at it, look at the "tragic tales" of ex-employees of failed firms like Enron, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, "who had nearly all their retirement assets riding on those firms' own shares." While subsequent laws have made linking retirement plans to your employer's stock harder, the problem "hasn't disappeared" completely. A smart investor should remember...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 21 Jul 2014 06:53:00 -04004 smart takes on the Fed's cautious optimism<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1">The Fed will keep propping up the economy, said Binyamin Appelbaum in <em>The New York Times.</em> That was the main message Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen delivered this week when she appeared before the Senate Banking Committee to deliver the central bank's semiannual monetary policy report. While she acknowledged that "important progress has been made in restoring the economy to health and in strengthening the financial system," Yellen clearly remains concerned about unemployment and the strength of the recovery. Last week, the Fed announced plans to end its controversial bond-buying program, known as quantitative...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:05:00 -0400Personal finance tips: How to protect yourself against lawsuits, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1"> The catch of co-branded cards<br /></span></strong>Steer clear of retail credit cards, said Jason Steele at <em></em>. These days, "nearly every retailer wants you to sign up for its co-branded credit card," incentivizing sign-ups by offering discounts or interest-free financing. While "these cards can really work if you leverage the rewards and discounts," they can also get customers into trouble if they don't pay them off in full. So before signing up for a co-branded card, check out other options. Some banks offer even better credit financing, and some major cards offer points, miles, or cash-back rewards that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 14 Jul 2014 08:25:00 -0400Personal finance tips: How zombie bills can ruin your credit, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Zombie bills can ruin your credit<br /></strong></span>Don't let moving wreck your credit, said Gerri Detweiler at <em></em>. When you're switching addresses, it's important to make sure final or unexpected bills don't go unnoticed. If accounts still have a balance and remain unpaid, they could go into collection and ding your credit score. To avoid that scenario, send a letter to any accounts you need to update or close and ask for a confirmation number. Remember to "check your balances the month you move, the month after you move, and six months after you move" to make sure no wayward bills or balances are lingering...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:17:00 -0400Is the Supreme Court killing unions?<img src="" /></P><p>Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is gunning for unions, said Sally Kohn at <em></em>. In a 5&ndash;4 decision this week, the Supreme Court ruled that home health care workers in Illinois, who are paid through Medicaid funds, "do not qualify fully as public employees, so they aren't required to contribute fees for a public sector employee union." At first glance, the ruling in <em>Harris v. Quinn</em> "seems narrowly tailored." Don't be fooled. This week's decision "carries broad implications," since anti-union interests will try to apply it to other types of workers and "start to chip away" at their legal...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Sat, 05 Jul 2014 09:00:00 -0400Personal finance tips: Don't waste a dime on old tech, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> IRS revises overseas tax rules</strong><br /></span>The Internal Revenue Service is easing up on its overseas crackdown, says Brian Knowlton at <em>The New York Times</em>. The agency has been aggressively pursuing overseas tax cheats, but criticism that its methods "had disproportionately hurt small taxpayers guilty of innocent oversights" has forced the service to revise some of its rules. Among the changes is an expansion of the voluntary disclosure program, removing the existing $1,500 limit on unpaid taxes and empowering the IRS to determine whether or not the taxpayer's "failure to file previously was 'non-willful.'"...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 30 Jun 2014 06:11:00 -0400Personal finance tips: Keeping car loans in check, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> How pay impacts credit<br /></strong></span>A pay cut may hurt twice, says Christine DiGangi at <em></em>. While "income isn't reported to credit bureaus," the size of your paycheck "can still have an impact on your credit standing." For starters, your income will affect your ability to make loan payments and determine how much total debt you actually have. And while your salary isn't factored into your credit score, "it's often part of a credit application," with some lenders setting standards for debt-to-income ratios before taking on a customer. If your cash flow does change, the first thing you need to adjust...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 23 Jun 2014 06:15:00 -0400Are we in for an oil shock?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Prepare to pay more at the pump, says Alen Mattich at <em>The</em> <em>Wall Street Journal</em>. As the "seemingly endless conflict" in Iraq escalates, some investors are wondering whether we're headed toward an oil price shock and how that might hinder "what looks to be a widespread &mdash; if still very subdued &mdash; recovery from the financial crisis." While we're not in shock territory just yet, prices are climbing, and that does not bode well for many global economies. With a 3.1 million-barrel-a-day output, Iraq was the world's eighth-largest oil producer last year. Even so, "Americans might feel insulated...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Fri, 20 Jun 2014 08:11:00 -0400Personal finance tips: Rules for emergency funds, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Rules for emergency funds<br /></strong></span>Start building up your emergency fund, said Christine DiGangi on <em></em>. "It may not be the most fun budget category," but emergency funds are an essential part of personal finance. First off, define "emergency." The answer "may not be the same for everyone," but one rule of thumb is to maintain separate accounts for "income emergencies," such as job loss, and "expense emergencies," like paying for unexpected repairs. Financial planners suggest stashing the cash in a dedicated savings account to avoid the temptation of simply writing a check, but "if you don't like...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 16 Jun 2014 06:23:00 -0400GM's culture of unaccountability<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Now we know where General Motors went wrong, said Max Nisen at <em>Quartz</em>. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a 315-page report last week on the circumstances that led to GM's botched ignition-switch recall, and it's a doozy. The report reveals slow and inadequate investigations, "an intense focus" on cost control over customer safety, and a corporate culture that "emphasized deferring responsibility, instead of taking it on." But GM's biggest failure may have been the lack of oversight, as the company allowed rogue engineers to "make decisions and changes that cost lives and...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Sat, 14 Jun 2014 08:00:00 -0400Personal finance tips: Purchases that turn into savings, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1"> Purchases that turn into </span></strong><strong><span class="s1">savings <br /></span></strong>Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, says Meg Favreau at <em>U.S. News &amp; World Report</em>. While frugal shoppers might fret over purchases, some can actually save money in the long run. If you live in an area where it's feasible to forgo a car, buying a bike or transit pass will save thousands in car expenses each year. And with monthly cable bills averaging around $123, a one-time investment in a TV-streaming device like Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire can add up to thousands in annual savings. For caffeine addicts, an espresso machine is a smart buy. While...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 09 Jun 2014 06:11:00 -0400Personal finance tips: Why you shouldn't raid your 401(k), and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Don't raid your 401(k)<br /></strong></span>Quit treating your retirement savings like "a piggy bank," says John Schmoll at <em>Daily Finance</em>. More and more Americans are "pilfering from their 401(k) accounts." In 2011, American workers withdrew $57 billion from their 401(k)s prematurely &mdash; a 37 percent increase from 2003. The trend has been fueled in part by younger workers cashing out of their company-backed savings plans when they change jobs. But early withdrawals are not good. In fact, the best thing to do when switching jobs is to either open an IRA or roll your existing 401(k) into your new employer's plan...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 02 Jun 2014 06:22:00 -0400Why is Amazon bullying book publishers?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1">"Amazon is confirming its critics' worst fears," said Farhad Manjoo at <em>The New York Times</em>. While the online retailing giant "has marketed itself as a book buyer's best friend," the company's escalating dispute with publisher Hachette is revealing its true colors. "In an effort to exert pressure on Hachette," Amazon has started using some "hardball tactics," raising prices on Hachette titles, removing preorder buttons for upcoming books, and even increasing shipping times from a few days to weeks. Critics have long feared the impact on publishers, authors, and customers once Amazon monopolized the...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Fri, 30 May 2014 07:05:00 -0400Personal finance tips: How to stick to a budget, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong> The best time to book flights<br /></strong>When it comes to booking a flight, timing is everything, says the <em>Associated Press</em>. Airfares today "fluctuate so frequently" that many vacationers simply don't know if they're getting a good deal or not. Luckily, travel site has crunched the numbers, and according to its data, 54 days in advance is generally the ideal time to book domestic flights. But other factors can change the equation. For instance, "airfares to popular destinations tend to go up sooner," which is why the website recommends a "prime booking window" of 29 to 104 days before departure...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 12 May 2014 08:31:00 -0400