The Week: Most Recent from Sergio Hernandez recent posts.en-usMon, 18 Aug 2014 06:14:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent from Sergio Hernandez from THE WEEKMon, 18 Aug 2014 06:14:00 -0400Personal finance tips: The cost of retail-branded cards, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> The right way to rent textbooks</strong><br /> If the high cost of textbooks has you in a panic, consider renting, said Ann Carrns at <em>The New York Times</em>. The average cost of college textbooks and supplies is about $1,200 per year, but more-affordable alternatives are becoming more popular. Last semester, more than a third of students rented at least one textbook, up from a quarter a year earlier. When deciding whether to rent or buy, start by comparing prices, both at your campus bookstore and online booksellers like and Amazon. If you rent and are worried about late fees, text and email reminders...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 18 Aug 2014 06:14:00 -0400Will a robot steal your job?<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1">The robots are coming, said Claire Cain Miller at <em>The New York Times</em>. Machines have already "progressed from displacing factory workers to personal assistants and even lawyers," and over the next decade, we'll see them more and more behind counters from the coffee shop to the airport. But on the question of "whether we're heading toward a robot-led coup or a leisure-filled utopia," Silicon Valley is "evenly split." According to a survey of nearly 2,000 technology experts by the Pew Research Center, 52 percent believe that robots won't displace more jobs than they create by 2025. But 48 percent...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Sun, 17 Aug 2014 08:00:00 -0400Personal finance tips: How to save enough for retirement, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Saving enough for retirement</strong><br /></span>"It doesn't take a heroic savings effort" to boost the eventual size of your nest egg, said Walter Updegrave at <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>. Setting aside an extra 1 percent of income each year on top of your existing savings can "appreciably boost" your retirement balance. In a recent survey of 3.5 million employees with 401(k)s, the average worker in his 20s reported saving 7.6 percent of his salary. The savings rate rose with age, topping out at 13.4 percent for workers in their 60s. If the average worker in his 20s, earning $50,000 a year, boosted his savings rate by...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 11 Aug 2014 06:36:00 -0400Personal finance tips: How to qualify for in-state tuition, and more<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> How much life insurance is enough?<br /></strong></span>Plenty of people struggle with deciding how much life insurance to buy, said Leslie Scism at <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>. Unfortunately, that means many are "underinsured or have no insurance at all." As a rule of thumb, you should aim to buy "eight to 10 times the breadwinner's annual income." And don't rely solely on a life insurance policy provided through an employer. "Most private-sector workers' employer-sponsored policies pay just a year's worth of paychecks," according to a 2013 Labor Department survey. If that's not enough coverage &mdash; and it probably...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Mon, 04 Aug 2014 09:15:00 -04003 perspectives on Walmart's surprise CEO switch<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Walmart is shaking up its C-suite, said Megan McArdle at <em>BloombergView</em>. The retail giant appointed a new CEO to run its U.S. operations last week, after the abrupt departure of Bill Simon, who had held the post since 2010. "It's an unusual time for a retailer to do a management shake-up, what with back-to-school right around the corner and Christmas just a few doors further down." That makes you wonder what has prompted such an ill-timed change. To be sure, "Walmart faces a tough retail environment," and same-store sales have declined in each of the past five quarters. The chain managed to weather...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/sergio-hernandez" ><span class="byline">Sergio Hernandez</span></a>Sat, 02 Aug 2014 12:00:00 -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 -0400