Feature

Personal finance tips: The value of vacation days, and more

Three top pieces of financial advice — from handling AT&T's not-so-unlimited data plans to a car loan market in danger of stalling

The value of vacation days
Don't bother burning the midnight oil, said Bob Sullivan at Credit.com. While it's no surprise that American workers often leave vacation time on the table, a new study from the U.S. Travel Association found that clocking more hours at the office isn't likely to pay off. In fact, "workers who left 11 to 15 days unused during a year were 6.5 percent less likely to receive a raise or bonus than those who used all of their vacation days." And if you need more motivation to cash in those unused days off, consider this: A separate report from audit firm EY suggests there's value in heading for the beach. For every 10 vacation hours an employee takes, EY found, annual performance review scores increase 8 percent.

AT&T's not-so-unlimited data plans
The feds say AT&T's unlimited data plans come with a catch, said Edward Wyatt at The New York Times. The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against the telecom giant last week, accusing it of misleading customers by slowing the connections of people with unlimited plans after they used more than 2 gigabytes of data in a month. The FTC said 25 percent of AT&T's 14 million unlimited data plan customers have been affected since 2011, and that in some cases, downloads were slowed by as much as 95 percent, rendering users' smartphones unable to access the internet. "If you make a promise about unlimited consumer service, we expect you to fulfill those promises," said Edith Ramirez, the FTC's chairwoman. AT&T, which says it has been "completely transparent" with customers about the usage threshold, called the FTC's accusations "baseless."

Car loan market could stall
The auto loan industry may be headed for trouble, said Annamaria Andriotis at The Wall Street Journal. The Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency "sounded the alarm about lax car lending standards" last week over concerns about a spike in the size of car loans that banks and other lenders are writing off. The average write-off at the end of 2013 was $8,520, up 17 percent from a year prior. At the same time, the total balance of car loans that have been delinquent more than 60 days has surged past $4 billion — up 27 percent from last year. The increase in write-offs has followed "a pickup in subprime lending in the car sector," with lenders doling out $83 billion of subprime auto loans during the first seven months of the year.

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