Money Minute: To Buy or To Rent? Apple Wins Latest Round

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Is it better to buy or rent your home? It depends on where you live.

Deutsche Bank (DB) has ranked 54 U.S. cities on the value of buying a home versus renting. In Cleveland, it's 50 percent more expensive to rent than buy. The other top markets favoring buyers are: Rochester and Buffalo, New York; Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg in Florida; and Chicago. At the other end of the scale, top five markets favoring renters are all in California: Oakland, San Jose, Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%A jury in California ruled late Friday that Samsung was guilty of violating two key patents held by Apple in the long-running war between the two smartphone makers. It awarded Apple $120 million in damages, but that's just a fraction of the $2.2 billion Apple (AAPL) had been seeking. Most analysts say the decision is pretty much a draw, with the two companies likely to battle in court for years to come. And the California case isn't over quite yet. The judge must still decide if either company should be required to withdraw any products from the market.

Separately, Apple and two other tech giants -- Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) -- say they will begin to notify customers when they get a government subpoena for information. Civil libertarians are praising the move, but the government is none too happy. Officials say the notifications could compromise investigations by alerting suspected criminals.

Here on Wall Street last week, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained nearly 1 percent, while the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose more than 1 percent.

The growing list of potential bidders for the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team now includes a company that wants to jump into the big time sports business. Skechers (SKX), the shoe company known for its fashionable styles, says it might want to use an NBA franchise as a way to enter the market for basketball shoes. The company recently scored a coup by providing the shoes worn by Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

10 Easy Ways to Pay Off Debt
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Money Minute: To Buy or To Rent? Apple Wins Latest Round
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much? 
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.  
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back." 
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.    
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more. 
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt. 
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.
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