Budgeting & Planning
By Molly McClusky
For some, having a friend or family member who's willing to co-sign for a loan can mean the difference between continuing to rent or buying a home, or between postponing school or furthering their education. For others, a co-signer can provide the chance to begin reestablishing good credit after a serious financial setback.
"For the person getting a co-signer, it serves a great purpose. It allows them to use someone else's credit standing to mitigate the risk for the [lender, so] they can get the loan, a better interest rate, or better terms," says David Pommerehn, the assistant vice president and senior counsel at Consumer Bankers Association.
For those who co-sign for a loan, however, the risks are plentiful.
Because co-signers will be responsible for the entire amount of the loan if the borrower defaults, Greg McBride, a CFA and senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, has this blunt advice for people considering acting as co-signer: "Don't co-sign for any loan that you're not prepared to take on the responsibility of paying."
A 2012 Pew Research Center Report, "The Rise of Asian Americans," identified Asian Americans as "the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States." In addition, according to the report, Asian Americans are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances, and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success.
YuKong Zhao (pictured), an expert in China business and strategic development at Siemens, believes the secret to the success of Asian Americans can be found in the enduring messages of Confucius.
Zhao, who grew up in a Confucianism-influenced family in China, moved to the U.S. in 1992. His bicultural experience and deep understanding of Confucianism has led him to conclude that Americans can learn from Confucian values to improve their lives in a variety of ways.
Most noteworthy in the differences between Asians and non-Asian Americans is their outlook on life. "Americans have a short-term view of life and Asians have a long-term view," says Zhao. "This impacts everything about their lives, but is particularly important when it comes to money management."
By Morgan Housel
Mostly by accident, I have never owned a home, and consider it one of the best financial moves I've ever made.
Not because suffering through one of the worst real estate downturns in history would have slammed my finances, although that's likely true. But because in the last four years, my wife and I have lived in four different locations in three different states on each side of the country. Each move was driven by work and school opportunities that would have been out of reach had we been tied down to one home.
Our story is hardly unique. In one of the most telling studies looking at the benefits of home ownership, economists Andrew Oswald and David Blanchflower ask, "does high home-ownership impair the labor market?"
Their answer is "yes."
The "Marshmallow Theory," based on a landmark Stanford University experiment, has been used countless times to demonstrate the power of self-control in your financial and personal life.
The experiment followed children who were left alone with a marshmallow and told that if they didn't eat it they would get a second one 15 minutes later.
Some of the kids waited the full 15 minutes, some ate the marshmallow immediately, and others waited for a short period of time before eating it.
Years later, researchers tracked down the children and found that those with the willpower to wait to eat the marshmallow -- 1 in 3 of the test subjects -- grew up to become more successful adults than those who ate the marshmallow immediately.
Here are some tips on affording a room renovation you'll actually finish:
The RRSP Home Buyer's Plan (HBP):
This program allows first-time home buyers to withdraw funds from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to pay for a home without incurring the usual tax penalty. An individual is allowed to withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSP, but must pay it back over 15 years. If that person is purchasing with a spouse, both the individual and the spouse may withdraw up to $25,000 each.
Most apartments will never come with the same perks as hotels. No room service. No wake-up calls. No daily housekeeping. No fancy soap in the bathroom or mint on your pillow. But while your typical apartment lacks these instant-gratification niceties, many come with at least one or two alluring perks of their own. A yard, rooftop deck or other outdoor space for hanging out. A pool or fitness room. On-site laundry (or even that elusive, magnificent find: free on-site laundry). Most of these amenities are well-advertised as part of the landlord's sales pitch. Other perks, for various reasons, aren't offered, and you have to ask for them. There's no guarantee your landlord will say yes to any of these extras, but it's worth making the inquiry.
By 24/7 Wall Street
Global athletic and apparel maker Adidas released better-than-expected quarterly earnings. So did rival Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) about a month ago. Given the hundreds of millions of athletic shoes sold by them each year, in addition to the clothing each sells and the number of markets in which they operate, their results may not be a bad proxy for the global consumer economy.
Australia is not only the home of the koala, the kangaroo, and the duck-billed platypus, but may also be home to that other rare and exotic animal: the secure retirement.
By Catherine Baab-Muguira
What does Australia have that America lacks? For starters, its retirees enjoy more financial security, better tax laws, and a generally higher standard of living than we do on this side of the globe. That's thanks to a few key differences in government policy -- and some twists and turns the country has taken in the course of history.
As an American who has just moved to Australia for a long assignment -- and, maybe decades hence, a comfortable place to retire -- I've had a chance to look into what's behind the great retirement divide.