Money Minute: Citigroup Customers Await Big Mortgage Relief

If you have a mortgage serviced by Citigroup you could be eligible for some mortgage relief.

Citigroup (C) has agreed to pay $7 billion to settle charges it misled investors about the quality of its mortgages before the financial crisis. Of that amount, $2.5 billion is going to consumers. The money is being doled out in a variety of ways. There will be loan modifications, refinancing available to lower interest rates and assistance on down payments and closing costs for those negatively impacted by Citi. Marketwatch reports roughly 1 million customers will be eligible for some kind of assistance and Citigroup will contact you if you are.

Timothy A. CLARY, AFP/Getty Images
The Federal Communications Commission is getting an earful on the issue of "net neutrality." The regulatory body has received more than 677,000 comments about whether broadband companies should be allowed to give preferential treatment to content providers. At issue is whether some sites will be able to transmit their content faster than others. No one seems happy with the current proposal that seeks to enforce net neutrality but has loopholes that would allow for preferential treatment. All seem to agree that Internet freedom is an increasingly important conversation to have.

Stocks rallied on Wall Street on Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) breaking past its record and then retreating again. By day's end, the Dow was up 111 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) had picked up 25 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) had gained 9 points.

Atlantic City is having a string of bad luck. The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino just announced it is shutting its doors around Sept. 16. That likely means job losses for more than 1,000 employees. This is just the latest establishment to close in the resort town this year. The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel went out of business and fired 1600 workers last January and the Revel Casino Hotel might have to let 3100 employees go next month if it can't find a solution to its bankruptcy problems. The gambling mecca has struggled with competition from other casinos closer to New York City and Philadelphia, which have opened in recent years.

And finally, 3-D printers are going mainstream. MakerBot, one of the first companies to come out with relatively low cost 3-D printers, is teaming up with Home Depot (HD). The retailer has just launched a pilot project in 12 of its stores that seeks to entice more do-it-yourself types through demonstrations that show what makerbots can make. The printers and scanners will be sold online and at Home Depot stores in California, New York and Illinois. But the devices don't come cheap. They retail for $800 to $2,900.

-Produced by Karina Huber.

6 Little Changes You Can Make to Save Big Bucks
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Money Minute: Citigroup Customers Await Big Mortgage Relief
Most of us spend a ton of time researching our options when we first sign up for a plan or policy, then forget all about it and make monthly payments like a robot. But this can cost you.

If you've been on the same cell phone plan for a while, or you haven't looked at the terms of your insurance policies (home, life, auto) since you got them, it's time to do a review. Your circumstances may have changed, and new plans or deductions may have come out since you first signed up. Call up customer service (or your agent) and have them walk you through your options if you're having trouble comparing things on your own.
One of the biggest budget sucks is our own forgetfulness. We miss payments and incur late fees because we've misplaced our statement or didn't manage to get our mail out in time. We fail to save as much as we'd like because we just never remember to do it.

The easiest way to save yourself some money (and hassle and stress) is to set it and forget it. Sign up for auto-pay so your monthly bills are automatically deducted from your checking account. Have a certain amount automatically transferred each month from your checking to your savings account. Remove the human error factor, and your budget will be better for it.
We charge so much nowadays -- whether on credit cards or debit cards -- that it's easy to spend a lot of money without really registering it. When you have a set amount of bills in your wallet, however, it's extremely easy to see how much you've spent so far this month and how much is left.

Take those budget categories of yours -- groceries, entertainment, etc. -- and turn them into real, physical envelopes. At the beginning of each month, put that month's allotment of cash into each envelope. When you're running low, you'll know you need to be careful with your purchases. When you're out, you're done spending on that category till next month.
If you're prone to impulse purchases, imposing a waiting period on yourself is an easy way to break the cycle.

For large purchases, a 30-day waiting list is best. Write down the item that's calling to you, then wait 30 days before allowing yourself to buy it. You may realize in that time that you don't need it after all. Or you may forget why it called to you in the first place.

For smaller impulse buys, like that fancy new product you spotted in the grocery aisle, follow a 10-second rule. Before the item can go into your cart, spend 10 full seconds asking yourself if you really need it and how you will use it. Simply analyzing why you're getting something can disrupt the siren call of a product.
It's all too easy to blow $5, $10, even $20 on something, whether it's an extra meal out or a coffee on the run. In the grand scheme of things, it "doesn't seem like much" to us. But if you start thinking of your money in terms of the time it took you to earn that money, suddenly you find yourself evaluating your spending choices a little closer.

Figure out what you make per hour if you're salaried (if you're hourly, this will be easy). Let's say you make $15 per hour. For every $15 you spend, you'll have to spend another hour of your time at work to pay for that item. A coffee a day for a week can cost you an hour or two. And bigger items, like that flat screen TV you're eyeing? You get the drift. Framing purchases in light of time spent can help you make sure something is worth it.
In the end, a budget is simply a means of making sure your money is working for you. It allows you to see how much you're brining in and allocate it towards the things that are most important to you. If you can hold those bigger goals in mind, everyday budgeting becomes easier.

If you're wondering whether or not to buy something, ask yourself if that money would be better spent towards your big goal. Put a visual reminder in your wallet to keep you on task-like a photo of a sandy beach if you're trying to save up money for a trip. Viewing your budget in terms of what it will allow you accomplish-not the things it won't allow you to buy, can revolutionize your spending.
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