December 2012

Fiscal Cliff Deadline Has Arrived

Today marks the final day for US lawmakers to reach a deal in order to avoid sending the economy over what has come to be known as the fiscal cliff. Politicians have refused to compromise on a deal to avert tax increases on most Americans, while committing to spending cuts for several social programs.  If time does run out before the clock strikes New Year’s Day, millions of Americans will pay the price for Washington’s inability to do what is best for the country.

Housing Ends the Year on a High

As 2012 comes to an end, US mortgage giant Freddie Mac is hopeful the recovery in housing will continue into 2013.  The volume of home sales has increased across the country over the year, showing the first signs of a turnaround in housing since the credit crisis began in late 2007.  Economists remain optimistic that as mortgage rates stay near record lows,  Americans will take advantage of bountiful purchasing and refinancing opportunities.

Insurance Companies Want to Overhaul North Carolina Regulatory System

North Carolina drivers on the whole pay some of the lowest car insurance rates in the US, but industry experts say average costs are low because the best drivers are supplementing the cost of riskier drivers.  These critics argue North Carolina’s unique regulatory system forces drivers with good records to pay the cost of insuring riskier drivers.  As a result, several insurance companies are lobbying for an overhaul of the system that will benefit good drivers, while keeping premiums from becoming unaffordable.

The New Employment Market

Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, unemployment remains a troubling issue across the entire US.  There are fewer good paying jobs in the post-recession world, particularly for young people graduating college, and economists say this condition may be the new normal going forward.  The gap between what older workers have managed to earn and what under-35 workers can expect to earn is widening, with experts suggesting the American Dream of each generation living a better life than their predecessors is over.

November Was a Good Month for Housing

Following Hurricane Sandy, housing spectators were concerned that the storm would have a devastating impact on home sales across the country, especially in the northeast.  However, surprisingly strong housing numbers for November were released last week, relieving analysts’ concerns.  Sales were up in the northeast, the Midwest, and the southern states – all these regions performed better than economists were predicting.  However, analysts are cautious about performance in 2013 as several experts believe Americans are rushing to complete deals before the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act expire

Only Days Remain Until Fiscal Cliff Deadline

Christmas has come and gone, but Americans may still receive a lump of coal this holiday season.  With only a few days to go until the US hits the fiscal cliff, it appears highly unlikely that Washington will reach a deal.  Politicians seem quite prepared to risk the US economic recovery to stand by their partisan policies – an attitude that could send the US back into a recession after New Year’s Day.

How to Balance Marriage and Money

For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health – everyone knows marriage is about the union of two partners coming together equally as one.  The union can feel enjoyable, jubilant, and uplifting for your spirits but after this honeymoon faze is over, the union of your financial lives will begin.  Money is often a difficult subject for couples, even after marriage.  Merging your financial lives together requires finding the right balance between shared accounts and some degree of financial independence. 

Balancing Sightseeing and Relaxation on Vacation

When you go on vacation it’s meant to be a relaxing, enjoyable time.  But stories of vacations from friends or family often paint a different picture – one with no spare time and a packed travel schedule.  Many people end up planning for so many extra activities that actual vacationing is missed out on. 

Are Young People Missing Out on Home Buying Opportunities?

Housing experts are nearly unanimous in their belief that US home prices have hit bottom, while mortgage rates prepare to ascend once again.  These conditions have resulted in what several housing experts identify as the “sweet spot” – when buyers are provided with their best opportunity to secure an affordable home.  However, these conditions are doing little to entice the younger generation into real estate – in fact, only one in three buyers are purchasing their first property.  The question then is could delaying a home purchase cost young people in the long-term?

Toyota Scores Poorly on Safety Test

The Toyota Camry and Prius V are two of the best selling cars in the US, but their scores on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) test raises questions about their ability to withstand a crash.  The two Toyotas were the only cars to receive a “poor” score on a crash test that is considered tougher than the standard US government tests.  The IIHS says these test results often influence consumers’ purchasing decisions when shopping for a new car – an alarming prospect for Toyota, whose reputation is built in part on safety.