Are you buying a house or lottery ticket?

The same week legendary investor Warren Buffett put his California vacation house on the market, a friend told me her widowed mother had sold the family home in Cleveland.

Buffett bought his Laguna Beach place in 1971 for $150,000 and is asking $11 million. My friend’s parents bought their home for $24,500 in 1965 and just sold it for $104,000. Put another way: If Buffett gets his asking price, his house will have appreciated at an annual rate of 9.79 percent. The Cleveland house eked out a 2.82 percent annual return.

Neither buyer could have predicted what their homes would be worth now. One could score a healthy return, while the other didn’t even keep up with inflation. (If she had, her home would have been worth about $190,000.) In my latest for the Associated Press, how purchasing a home could be a gamble.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to invest $50,000. Also in the news: Ditching student debt through monster payments, funding a wedding while paying student debt, and what we can learn from rich people who are bad with money. How to Invest $50,000 Making the wise choices. How I Ditched Student Debt: ‘Monster Payments’ Using monster payments […]

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Q&A: The old magazine scam is alive and well. Here’s how to fight back

Dear Liz: I got scammed by a magazine company a year ago. I thought the call was about two magazines I wanted to stop as I was moving. The woman talked fast and took me through the steps with my bank card (which was stupid of me, I now know) as if she was helping […]

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Q&A: Annuities and fees

Dear Liz: I must object to a point you made in a recent column. You wrote: “…Also, annuities often have high fees, so you’d need to shop carefully and understand how the surrender charges work.” To write “…annuities often have high fees” is misleading, because there are annuities that don’t have fees, such as fixed […]

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Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Cutting through credit score confusion after the Experian fine. Also in the news: Eat out without biting into your budget, the female faces of student loan debt, and why it’s harder than ever to apply for financial aid. Cutting Through Credit Score Confusion After Experian Fine Making sense of it. Eat Out […]

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Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Using your tax refund to spring clean your finances. Also in the news: A money conference for women, why the IRS wants their share of your March Madness winnings, and how Millennials can make car buying easier. Use Your Tax Refund to Spring Clean Your Finances Tidying up your money. Lola: A […]

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Retire right — plan to do it twice

There’s the retirement that looks like the commercials: biking, travel, enjoying the family. And then there’s the one where you can’t get up the stairs anymore. Most of us happily plan for the first, when our health is good and energy high. The second can be hard to contemplate, when health falters and medical crises […]

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Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 reasons why the IRS will audit you. Also in the news: Big news that could affect your student loans, sneaky ways debt can change how you think, and how the “Once in a Lifetime” mentality screws up your budget. 7 Reasons the IRS Will Audit You How to avoid triggering an […]

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Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to cash a check without paying huge fees. Also in the news: How a Mom paid off $37,000 of debt, what you need to know about FSAs, HSAs and taxes, and why you should beware of mind games when shopping mortgage rates. How to Cash a Check Without Paying Huge Fees […]

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Q&A: Deploying a windfall wisely

Dear Liz: I recently received a $38,000 windfall. I have a student loan balance of $37,000. I want to buy a home, but I can’t decide if I should have a large down payment and continue paying down student loans slowly, or make a balloon payment on my student loans and put down a smaller […]

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