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'Boomerang buyers' are re-emerging to qualify for mortgages. Ever wonder what it takes?

By MSN Money Partner Oct 18, 2012 3:18PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.


Image: Real estate agent (© Stockbyte/SuperStock)Homeowners who went through foreclosure a few years ago are becoming a small but growing force in the homebuying market. The Wall Street Journal calls them "boomerang buyers."


The WSJ says that "real-estate agents, mortgage brokers and home builders all say a significant number of new buyers are families and individuals who went through foreclosure as recently as three years ago, the time period that buyers who defaulted on a mortgage must typically wait before becoming eligible for a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration."


Christmas will be here before you know it. It's time to prepare a budget and a spending plan. Here's how.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 18, 2012 12:45PM

This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site logoThe countdown to Christmas has begun. Last night, I pulled out the calendar and counted off just 10 weekends before the big day. It will be here before I know it.


Image: Ornament and money (© Tetra Images/Corbis)And that means I need to start getting organized now, even if it does feel too early. So I've gathered five suggestions for ways I can start to prepare the holidays, and invite you to join me, so when we say "happy holidays" this year, we'll really mean it.


Making modest contributions during a child's teenage years can add up to a good amount by retirement. It's also tax-smart.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 18, 2012 10:29AM

This post comes from Bill Bischoff at partner site SmartMoney.


SmartMoney logoWorking at a tender age is an American tradition. I'm sure lots of kids did just that over the summer, and some are still doing it after school and on weekends. What isn't so traditional is the notion of kids contributing to their own Roth IRAs. It should be a tradition, because it's such a good idea. Here's the scoop.


Image: Father and son (© Bill Cannon/Photodisc Red/Getty Images)Roth contribution basics

All that's required to make a Roth contribution is having some earned income for the year. Age is completely irrelevant. So if your child earns some cash from a summer job, or part-time work after school -- or whatever really -- the kid is entitled to make a Roth contribution. For the 2012 tax year, your child can contribute the lesser of: (1) earned income or (2) $5,000. These contribution limits apply equally to Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs, but the Roth alternative is the way kids should go in most cases -- for reasons I'll explain.


How is it that a quarter-million dollars of income has come to represent the dividing line between the middle class and the wealthy?

By MSN Money Partner Oct 17, 2012 4:44PM

This post comes from Alicia Munnell at partner site SmartMoney.


SmartMoney logoIt seems as though no one reads the Census Bureau's annual publication "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States" for anything but the number of people in poverty. The parts I find most interesting are those pertaining to the level and distribution of income. The numbers go to the heart of conversations about the "middle class" and the "rich."


Couple stood outside of villa © Image Source, Image Source, Getty ImagesBoth President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have adopted household income of $250,000 as a meaningful demarcation point for defining the middle class. In the case of the president, he proposes to retain the Bush tax cuts for households with less than $250,000 and eliminate the tax cuts for those above that threshold. Romney, in a recent ABC interview, offered the same definition of the middle class: "Middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less."


Where does this concept of $250,000 as the appropriate cutoff come from?


About 16% of Americans have already started to look for holiday deals, and retailers are eager to accommodate them.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 17, 2012 3:24PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


Image: Gift (© Thinkstock Images/Jupiterimages)While most of us are still trying to pick out a Halloween costume, hungry retailers have leap-frogged to Christmas, with most predicting the best holiday shopping season since the beginning of the recession.


The first retail ads for Black Friday -- the post-Turkey Day holiday shopping kickoff -- have just started landing on shopping sites such as and


The early leaks aren't that tempting -- coming from retailers such as Half Price Books, Harbor Freight Tools, Build-a-Bear Workshop, and discount chain Fred's -- but they do show that doorbusters are alive and kicking, even if fewer shoppers are expected to brave the cold to land one this year.


Don't let the cost of this year's Halloween celebration scare you. You can save a bundle on both costumes and candy.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 17, 2012 1:55PM

This post comes from Jeffrey Trull at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News logoHalloween is fun for both kids and adults. But with costumes, candy and decorations to buy, the price for your celebration can creep up quickly. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American is expected to spend $80 on Halloween.


But the cost doesn't have to be frightening. As with putting together a great costume, a little imagination and creativity may be all you need for big savings.


Many people are confused about who keeps track of your credit history and what they do with that information.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 17, 2012 12:02PM

This post comes from Jeanne Kelly at partner site logoWhen you visit a lender to borrow money, do you know what goes into the decision of whether to lend you money?


Image: Person signing paperwork, mid section © PhotoAlto/Eric Audras/PhotoAlto Agency RF/Getty ImagesThe lender types information into a computer, waits for an answer and then relays the "good news; you're approved!" or "bad news; you've been declined" message.


What many people don't know is how that decision is reached. Credit scores are somehow involved. But how? And who provides these credit scores? There is a lot of confusion surrounding the application of a loan, so let's take a closer look at the process to dispel some myths (and reveal some opportunities for you to boost your credit).


Prices for many popular plans will increase significantly next year.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 16, 2012 5:31PM

This post comes from Emily Brandon at partner site U.S. News & World Report.


U.S. News & World Report logoRetirees get to choose a new 2013 Medicare prescription drug plan during the annual enrollment period now through Dec. 7. Premiums, covered medications and out-of-pocket costs change each year, so it's a good idea to shop around for a new plan even if you're happy with your current coverage.


Image: Pills (© Corbis)Here's how to pick a Medicare Part D plan that will best meet your prescription drug needs in 2013:


Compare premiums. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expects the average 2013 monthly premium for basic prescription drug coverage to be $30 in 2013, which is essentially unchanged from 2012. However, some existing Part D plans will have significant premium increases.



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