August 3, 2014

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Are you sure you have enough in your checking account for that Starbucks? If not, it could be costly -- even in the world of $4 frappucinos.

Banking and finance

Study: Overdraft fees helping pad banks’ profits

Are you sure you have enough in your checking account for that Starbucks? If not, it could be costly -- even in the world of $4 frappucinos.

The fees that banks charge debit-card users who overdraw their accounts usually cost more than the items being bought. That’s the result of a study that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released last week.

Large banks have generally charged a $34 penalty when people overdraw their debit-card accounts, even though most of the purchases involved were for less than $24. And the penalties are charged even though most accounts return to a positive balance within three days, the study found. Banks profit by collecting more than half their checking account income from these fees.

The study builds on a 2013 report that found that heavy overdrafters, on average, face $900 in additional costs each year.

Help could be on the way. “Overdraft fees should not be ‘gotchas’ when people use their debit cards,” CFPB director Richard Cordray said in a conference call with reporters. The CFPB is considering what protections might be necessary but has yet to outline specific policy changes that could shield bank customers from these charges.


$1 million doesn’t go as far in San Francisco —

Swimming pool with a hot tub. Four bedrooms and four-car garage. Granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. That’s what $1 million will buy you in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. What will the same seven-figure price tag get you in San Francisco? Not much.

The Bay Area saw a record number of houses and condos going for $1 million and above in the spring, pushing the median selling price into the cool million-dollar range for the first time in June, real estate research firm CoreLogic DataQuick said Thursday.

One home in a trendy San Francisco neighborhood recently sold for $1.8 million in cash – $600,000 more than its asking price. No swimming pool listed with this 1,200 square-foot house. Instead it featured a concrete slab yard, no appliances and an unfinished basement.


Musk, Montgomery Burns face off in ‘Simpsons’ episode —

Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who runs Tesla Motors and Space Exploration Technologies, takes on the miserly power plant owner Montgomery Burns in a future episode of “The Simpsons.”

Musk, 43, portrays himself in an episode in which he battles Burns, the wealthy operator of a nuclear plant, in 21st Century Fox’s long-running animated series, producer Al Jean said at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 26. “Burns tries to kill him,” Jean said last week in a Twitter post.

South African-born Musk is also chairman of SolarCity Corp., the largest U.S. solar power provider. His net worth is more than $11 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

selfies and usies

‘Usie’: A natural progression from ‘selfie’ —

What do you call a group selfie? An usie, of course! As in “us.” Pronounced uss-ee, rhymes with fussy.

In contrast to one-person selfies, usies are “more about the relationship, and less about you and your hair,” said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, a professor of marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco who studies consumer behavior.

The word – sometimes spelled usie, sometimes ussie – has been showing up in written material since at least April 2013, according to Ben Zimmer, executive producer of and language columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

The Times of India in March said Pope Francis’ group selfie with visitors at the Vatican last year “could possibly be the first chronicled celebrity usie.”

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed.

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