Analysis

The mortgage pain point

And more of the week’s best financial advice

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:

The mortgage pain point Interest rates on the most common type of mortgage topped 5 percent last week for the first time since January 2011, said Wolf Richter at WolfStreet, and another point higher will hit the "pain threshold" for the housing market. Thirty-year fixed rates for "conforming loans" — mortgages for single family homes priced below $453,100, with a 20 percent down payment — are now at 5.05 percent, up from below 4 percent in 2016. While that's still a historically low number, it's likely to rise as the Federal Reserve steadily lifts the interest rate it charges to banks. A 6 percent rate would take mortgages close to where they stood in the housing bubble. That "will block a considerable number of potential buyers from buying at current prices." Cities where prices have "surged" as much as 55 percent from their housing bubble peak — including Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver — could be hit particularly hard.

Child care for Starbucks workers Starbucks this week began providing its employees with 10 days a year of heavily subsidized backup child and senior care, said Benjamin Romano at The Seattle Times. If an employee's child care falls through — if school is canceled, for example — the worker can put a child in a day-care center for $5 a day, or hire in-home care for $1 an hour. Starbucks says the program will help its 180,000 U.S. employees "come to work with fewer worries." Many companies have cut child-care benefits over the past 20 years: only 3 percent of employers now offer subsidized child-care centers, down from 9 percent in 1996.

Hailing a hospital ride Ride-hailing services could help shrink the $14 billion a year that Americans spend on ambulance rides, said Austin Frakt at The New York Times. A trip in an ambulance can cost thousands of dollars, "and a lot of it may not be covered by insurance." Studies also find that nearly a third of rides are inappropriate — ambulances cart many people with minor injuries. For nonemergency medical transportation, Uber and Lyft might be a better and cheaper option. Both companies now offer services that let health-care providers order rides for patients. Or you could hail a car with your own app. "An advantage of arranging your own ride is that you can direct it to a hospital or doctor's office of your choosing." Ambulances only take patients to hospitals "and typically to the nearest one."

Recommended

China declares cryptocurrency transactions illegal
Bitcoin
'panic in the air'

China declares cryptocurrency transactions illegal

The daily business briefing: September 24, 2021
Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Janet Yellen
Business briefing

The daily business briefing: September 24, 2021

Memphis-area Kroger shooting leaves 1 victim dead, 12 wounded
Shooting at Memphis-area grocery store
Mass shootings

Memphis-area Kroger shooting leaves 1 victim dead, 12 wounded

EU proposes mandating 1 charger for all smartphones
Mobile chargers next to European flag
taking charge

EU proposes mandating 1 charger for all smartphones

Most Popular

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness
Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman
Last Night on Late Night

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness

Democrats are governing like Republicans
A donkey.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

Democrats are governing like Republicans

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights