Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.

Food Costs Keep Rising

In the midst of a weak economy, high gas prices, falling real estate values, and a slowing job market, we also have to tighten our budget for the rising cost of food. Many have already noticed their grocery bills edging upward; food prices have already risen over 5% this year, increasing at the fastest rate since 1990. And those costs are expected to keep on rising, many types of foods will see another 15% increase in...
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Save on Food Costs

Higher grocery bills now and are expected in the future A weak economy and high inflation is already costing consumers a larger portion of their paychecks for basic needs such as fuel and food. Grocery prices have risen over 5% from January to June in 2008, and they're expected to go up by another 15% in the near future. Times like these leaves many of us looking for ways to save money on our food bill....
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Gas Prices Take a Dip

Gas prices, here in my town, have hovered just over $4/gallon for months, hitting a high last month at around $4.09. It was actually quite surprising to see a gas price sign for $3.99/gallon last night. Though any relief is better than no relief, we're still paying over a dollar a gallon more than we were last year around this same time. What has caused gas prices to drop ever so slightly? Dolly's threat temporarily pushed...
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U.S. Government Plans to Aid Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

The Federal Reserve and Treasury announced plans on Sunday to lend a hand to mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, by temporarily extending their long-standing credit lines if needed. The two companies would be able to borrow funds from the Fed at a rate of 2.25%, the same rate given to commercial banks and big Wall Street Firms. The Fed said that this should helps the companies' ability "to promote the availability of home mortgage...
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Escrow Payments - Mistakes Can Happen

Escrows basically force a homeowner to budget for those pesky property taxes, hazard insurance premiums, and mortgage insurance. It's commonly understood that the mortgage lender collects a prorated amount each month along with the loan payment, and then pays those bills directly when they are due. Homeowners can make mistakes, causing errors in escrow payments . But even though the lender takes on the responsibility of ensuring on-time tax and insurance payments, the homeowner should always...
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Federal Reserve Sets New Mortgage Rules

The Federal Reserve has tightened lending standards with new rules for home mortgages. These new mortgage rules are meant to protect American consumers from the types of irresponsible mortgage lending practices that have been blamed for leading us to the country's worst real estate market crisis in decades. "The proposed final rules are intended to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts in mortgage lending, while keeping credit available to qualified buyers and supporting sustainable home-ownership,"...
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Causes for Change in Your Escrow Payment

Escrow payments will occasionally change. If your house payment consists of PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance), then part of your monthly payment is going into an escrow account. Accurate escrow payments ensure that taxes and insurance are properly budgeted for. The amount of the escrow payment can change if you or the lender realize that too much or too little is being collected for those expenses. The escrow payment can also change if the property...
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Mortgage Escrow

What is Escrow? Escrows are used in other circumstances, but the most widely known types of escrows are mortgage-related. The escrow account is managed by the mortgage lender. The lender collects escrow payments from the borrower, and keeps the money in an escrow account until the tax or insurance payments are due. The lender takes care of paying those bills, and the borrower usually doesn't have to do anything else. When you hear about principal, interest,...
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Preventing Unauthorized Use of a Credit or Debit Card

Electronic payments are safer than cash. Credit and debit cards are such a convenient way to pay that many consumers use a card for nearly every purchase. And not only are cards convenient, but they're safer than carrying around lots of cash. A cautious person whose paying at the register, with a wallet full of cash, instinctively looks around to make sure nobody has noticed how much money they're carrying. You never see that from a...
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Red Flag Rules - A Standardizing of Identity Theft Prevention Programs

Consumers and businesses suffer from identity theft Identity theft is a major threat for consumers. Often, a consumer doesn't even realize their identity has been stolen until they've been denied credit and then find the delinquent accounts on their credit report. Then, the consumer may have to write letters, make phone calls, and file police reports to clear up the defaulted accounts that were opened or stolen by the thief. Sometimes it is difficult to prove...
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