The Checkout

Archive: December 2008

Congress Asks Bush to Help Seniors on 401(k) Withdrawals

President Bush on Tuesday signed legislation that temporarily suspends a tax penalty for senior citizens who do not take a minimum withdrawal from their 401(k)'s and other retirement accounts in 2009. But dozens of Republican and Democratic members of Congress are asking the President to help senior citizens whose retirement savings plans have been hit by market losses this year. Spearheaded by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), 61 members of Congress on Friday asked the President to direct Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson to waive the so-called required minimum distribution rule for 2008. Retirees older...

By Nancy Trejos | December 24, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

Cribs Recalled after Child Is Poisoned by Lead Paint

If you haven't noticed, I've taken a hiatus to help cover the economic crisis but will sometimes resurface here when news warrants. What has lured me back today is a recall of 3,000 "Newport" cribs and 6,000 matching furniture pieces made by Munire Furniture of Piscataway, N.J. for having lead paint in excess of federal limits. The paint in question was a red paint underneath a darker top coating--still accessible of course, especially by teething babes and toddlers who like to gnaw on the rails. The cribs cost about $600 a pop and the matching furniture had price tags between...

By Annys Shin | December 23, 2008; 4:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

Senator Asks Credit Card Companies to Comply with New Rules

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is calling on the nation's credit card companies to comply with federal regulators' new rules against "unfair and deceptive practices" sooner than they have to. Last week, the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration finalized a new set of regulations that would ban such practices as raising interest rates on existing balances unless a payment was more than 30 days late, charging late fees without giving the borrower a reasonable amount of time to pay and applying payments so that debts with higher interest rates are repaid last....

By Nancy Trejos | December 23, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

SNL Finds a Way to Make Unsafe Toys Funny

Product safety is mostly not funny. So here's a rare bit of levity to brighten your day, courtesy of Ed Mierzwinski over at U.S. PIRG. Apparently, Saturday Night Live used the advocacy group's Annual Trouble in Toyland report to make a joke. It's actually PIRG's second mention on SNL, as Ed will proudly tell you. A brief history of PIRG pop culture references follows: We're proud to have had our work hit a few other popular shows over the years. "What are balloons?" was once the Final Jeopardy answer (in a special kids' tournament on the show) to the question:...

By Annys Shin | December 9, 2008; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (1)

FDIC Criticizes Banks' Overdraft Fees

Banks received an estimated $1.97 billion in overdraft protection fees in 2006, representing 74 percent of the $2.66 billion in service charges on deposit accounts that they reported, according to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation study released this week. In fact, total overdraft fee income made up about 6 percent of the total net operating revenues earned by banks. The findings confirmed that overdraft programs have become lucrative for banks even as consumer advocates have fought against them because they typically come with significant fees. Consumer advocates, as well as the Federal Reserve, have especially criticized banks for automatically enrolling...

By Nancy Trejos | December 5, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

The Cost of Christmas Carols

You think your budget is tight this Christmas. Just think how the poor folks suffered in 1780. That is the year the lyrics to the popular "Twelve Days of Christmas" were written, at least according to Wikipedia. Among the many presents that my poor true love had to dig up were five golden rings, seven lords a-leaping and 12 drummers drumming -- and this was way before Life Took Visa! In today's dollars, the full set of items would cost you $21,080.10, according to an in-depth analysis by PNC Bank this week. That's an 8 percent increase over last year,...

By Ylan Mui | December 4, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)


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