It’s better and worse than we thought

The government now tells us that the economy managed to stay above water at the beginning of the year but wasn’t quite as strong over the past couple of years as we’d previously been told. There’s also a new reading on the most recent quarter that seems to be helping turn the September Federal Reserve…

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$4,575 tax bill for online cigarettes

Should federal and state governments track down Internet trafficking of cigarettes to scare up revenue? Smoking is expensive. In addition to the health costs, the nicotine habit takes a big bite out of a smoker’s bank account, thanks in part to added taxes. That’s a fiscal fact cigarette smokers are resigned to with every pack they buy.…

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Trump Sells Apartment He Never Lived in for $21 Million

ZillowA private elevator leads to the five-bedroom, 7.5-bath apartment on the 24th floor of the Trump Park Avenue building. By Melissa Allison When he’s not stumping for the Republican presidential nomination or making decrees on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” Donald Trump still works in real estate — and he just made a killing on a Manhattan…

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Ugly truth about auto insurance rates?

Policyholders have pondered whether their auto insurance rates truly reflect their risk to their insurer, or whether they may be paying more because of other factors such as their income, their credit rating or their blind loyalty to their insurer. Now, a two-year investigative study released today by Consumer Reports outright charges the auto insurance…

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Out-of-date will gives ex-in-laws a claim

Here’s why it is important to keep your will up to date and store it in an easy-to-find location — especially if you have gone through a divorce. A court decision last month by the New York Court of Appeals prompts this warning. It sent me scrambling to make sure that the wills my current husband and…

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Fed holds steady — but just for now

The Fed has kept its ultra-low interest rates level. It’s a boon for borrowers but a bummer for savers: Interest rates have been left at record-low levels by Federal Reserve officials, and they wrapped up a two-day meeting with a statement that gave no firm indication on whether rates will go up at the next meeting…

Now you can buy Jesse Pinkman’s house

Take a tour of Jesse Pinkman’s ‘Breaking Bad’ house Breaking Bad fans going through withdrawal, listen up: You can buy Jesse Pinkman’s house. But it will take some serious cash, the home is listed for $1.6 million. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, off Route 66, the 3,539-square-foot home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two porches…

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Best phone service for music lovers?

If you stream or download music regularly to your smartphone, you probably know how many Taylor Swift songs it takes to reach your monthly data cap. Indeed, streaming music can chew up lots of data. Verizon’s data usage calculator, for instance, suggests streaming music for two hours a day will use 3.52 GB of data…

Don’t help crooks crack your card

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about a new scam in town. It’s called card-cracking and it involves turning over your bank account information, PIN number or online banking credentials to crooks. How does it work? Fraudsters advertise a contest via social media or “maybe a Web page that claims to have a celebrity…

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Car seat warns if baby is left behind

A new infant car seat has a warning system to prevent drivers from forgetting to buckle up their baby and from accidentally leaving them in the car unattended. Evenflo’s newly released SensorSafe Technology is the only system of its kind with the transmitter integrated into the car seat itself that does not require a cellular…

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Watch for online senior dating scams

This is not just an issue for seniors. Online dating scams can target a person of any age. The Federal Trade Commission’s consumer education specialist, Aditi Jhaveri, recently wrote a blog post titled “Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money,” and the focus wasn’t on seniors. The FTC even has a…

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Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Level Since Early June

ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals. By Lauren Braun Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.83 percent, down 8 basis points from the same time last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate…

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3 ways to outsmart Uncle Sam

Creating retirement security isn’t easy — even for 61-year-old financial planning expert David Littell, retirement income program director at The American College. Expert David Littell worries about retirement. Littell is looking forward to a long life. His father is 103 and was recently kicked out of Medicare’s hospice program because he recovered from an ailment and…

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Discover eliminates perks

Discover is getting rid of some ancillary perks associated with its credit cards. Effective Aug. 1, the issuer will discontinue 24/7 Travel Assistance, MyConcierge, Travel Delay Insurance, Lost Luggage Insurance, Baggage Delay Insurance and Emergency Roadside Assistance. Why should you care? Because if you were counting on having that coverage during your end-of-summer vacation, you’d be out…

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Moving to escape state estate taxes

Summer is a good time to make tax-saving moves. Here at Bankrate, we’ve come up with 10 midyear tax steps to take now instead of waiting until the end of the year. Here’s a bonus tax move, literally. If you’re of a certain age and live in a state that imposes an estate tax, you…

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Can a bank robbery be art?

Can a bank robbery be art? Joe Gibbons, a New York-based performance artist, clearly thinks so. Gibbons was recently sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to robbing a Capital One Bank in Chinatown in New York City on New Year’s Eve. While Gibbons had some impressive bona fides as an artist —…

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Does Downsizing Add Up?

Alamy By Susan Johnston It’s a common bit of retirement advice: Downsize your housing after the kids leave the nest to cut costs. Interestingly, though, many baby boomers have no intentions of downsizing. Nearly two-thirds of boomers surveyed in 2013 by The Demand Institute — a nonprofit owned by Nielsen — plan to “age in…

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Anthem-Cigna deal would create ‘Big 3′

If the deal is approved, Friday’s announcement that health insurance giant Anthem has agreed to acquire rival Cigna for $48.3 billion would create the largest health insurer our American multi-payer health care system has ever produced, with more than 53 million customers across the country. By Anthem’s estimate, the merger would result in a company…

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Jean Chatzky: Emotions that fuel spending

There are three money rules that I seem to cite more than any of the others: Don’t shop angry, don’t shop sad and don’t shop hungry. These rules come up often because most of us have succumbed to retail therapy at one point or another. Research from Ebates, a website that offers cash back for…

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Chrysler gets largest fine in recall history

On the heels of a 1.4 million car recall last week, Fiat Chrysler has been hit with a $105 million civil penalty for not issuing previous car recalls in a timely manner. It’s the largest penalty ever imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, the NHTSA issued two new recalls affecting more…

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The siren song of closed-end funds

Want to buy a fund selling at a discount to its net asset value (NAV)? Then you’ll want to look at closed-end funds (CEF). These funds have some characteristics of mutual funds and some characteristics of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Shrinking pool of CEFs available Morningstar is reporting that the number of closed-end funds has shrunk…

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Ways to keep disability honest

Disability is a relatively small but important piece of Social Security. In 2014, Social Security paid out about $707 billion in retirement and survivor benefits and only $142 billion in disability benefits. But it is a program that makes a tremendous difference in the lives of those who receive it. Disability benefits constituted 75 percent or…

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Gunslinger Yellen pats the holster

This week, the Federal Reserve won’t pull the trigger, but it will probably begin to load the gun. The gunslinger, also known as Chair Janet Yellen, has said this will likely be the year that the central bank begins to raise interest rates. The group’s aim is a little rusty. It hasn’t taken a shot…