Blog Posts by CNBC

  • What Kind of Financial Adviser is Right for You?

    By Sharon Epperson,

    Markets are increasingly volatile and many investors are more risk averse. But they also may need more guidance.

    Financial security trumps investment growth as the most important goal for many investors. Who should you turn to for help in achieving that goal? Securities broker? Investment adviser? Insurance agent?


    Finding the right financial professional requires you to focus on your short-term financial needs and long-term financial goals. There is no cookie-cutter approach.

    "This is a very personal decision," said Lori Schock, Director of the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy at the Securities and Exchange Commission. "Do you need someone to do your taxes and help you plan for retirement? Do you need a one-time financial plan? Do you like to do your own research and let someone else just validate and give you a second opinion?"

    Advice, however, comes at a price.

    "You're going to pay fees for all of these services, so you want to

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  • Skin Cancer Thrives as Tanning Culture Survives

    By Dinah Wisenbreg Brin,

    On sunny days, Dr. Brad Merritt has watched on the sidelines of his son's sporting events from the shade of his umbrella. The 37-year-old dermatologist, who already has had basal cell skin cancer on his face, is determined to protect himself from the sun.

    "Is there any such thing as a safe tan?" asked Merritt, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina. "The answer is, `There is not.'"

    Despite piles of research on the skin cancer risks of sun exposure and tanning beds, dermatologists and cancer groups struggle to persuade people to protect their skin from ultraviolet rays.

    Encouraged by media images and tanning industry marketing showing tans as sexy and healthy, many people - especially teens and young adults - head to the beach, backyard or tanning bed to get that look, notwithstanding warnings and public service announcements about cancer, premature wrinkling and blotchy skin.

    Skin cancer is now the most common form

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  • Texas Postal Worker is Artist Behind Hermes Scarves

    By Robert Frank,

    We tend to think of Hermes scarves as being designed by European masters - the giants of Old World painting whose works have been resurrected from the 19th century and splashed onto three-foot slivers of silk.

    But many of those scarves, in turns out, are designed by a postal worker near Waco, Tex.
    According to a fascinating profile in Texas Monthly by Jason Sheeler, the only American designer of Hermes scarves is a man named Kermit Oliver.

    For the past 30 years he has sorted mail on the night shift of the Waco post office. He paints after work, in a 10-foot by 10-foot room he calls his "monk's quarters." (Read more: $1 Million Most Offered as Reward for Missing Art)

    His work - which features exotic animals, fruit and surreal scenes of the Old West - was discovered by Hermes in the 1980. Since then, Oliver has designed 16 scarves. His most famous and best selling is the Faune et Flore du Texas, painted in 1987.

    Hermes scarf designed by Kermit Oliver.Hermes scarf designed by Kermit Oliver. He spends six

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  • Where the Wealthy Wed: One Percent Wedding Venues

    By Jennifer Leigh-Parker,

    Top Extravagant Wedding Venues

    Once upon a time even celebrities were satisfied with a simple church wedding or with tying the knot at their family's home.

    But according to the everything-weddings website The Knot, one in four engaged couples now opt for a "destination" wedding: a venue in an exotic, increasingly distant locale that is a tipoff of social status as much as it is a romantic backdrop.

    "If you're in that sort of circle, everyone has an amazing wedding. How you stand out is going to be your location," said Knot senior editor Kristin Koch.

    See the full slideshow: Top Extravagant Wedding Venues

    The cost of "keeping up with the Joneses' wedding," naturally, is rising. Fairy tale weddings include custom fireworks, private plane rides, orchestras, medieval knights, safari tours or scuba lessons, with prices more suited to millionaires than your average newlyweds.

    Adding to the expense is the growing length of a destination wedding, which

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  • Trendiest Halloween Costumes for Kids, 2012

    By Christina Cheddar Berk,
    Trick or Treat

    Gone are the days when you could throw a sheet over your head and call it a Halloween costume. Halloween is serious business. Retailers expect Americans to spend about $8 billion on the day, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGinsight.

    Of course, part of the fun of the holiday is coming up with a creative Halloween costume. About $1.1 billion will be spent on children's costumes this year.

    For kids, there will be plenty of the traditional costumes: princesses, super heroes, witches and pirates. But even these popular themes are subject to interpretation.

    We've taken a look at what the trendiest costumes are for kids this year. Click ahead to find out what they are, some may surprise you.

    See the full slideshow: Trendiest Halloween Costumes for Kids, 2012

    Fuzzy Owl CostumeFuzzy Owl Costume
    Fuzzy Owl Costume

    Suggested Price: $34

    Give a hoot, this baby is cute.
    Forget the ill-fitting vinyl costumes. These days, the selection of

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  • How the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Could Hurt Married Couples

    By Jennifer Parker,

    There are many financial perks that come with being married. Filing taxes generally isn't one of them. If a complex, arcane tax code leaves singles confused and frustrated, try doubling the confusion associated with credits, deductions and income.

    For all the rules of thumb, there are myriad exceptions, which your accountant should help you navigate. Not sure if you're getting sound advice? Read on, because these experts give a frank account of tax planning for married couples - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Marriage Penalty?

    Some couples receive tax bonuses, and some get tax penalties. Trying to game the system is generally a futile exercise, experts say. "The marriage penalty applies when a married taxpayer filing a joint return ends up paying more taxes than two individuals would earning the same amount of income," says tax research analyst Lindsey Buchholz of H&R Block.

    [More from CNBC: What You Should Know About Your Spouse's Money]

    For 2012,

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  • Trendiest Halloween Costumes for Adults 2012

    Trick or Treat

    With nearly seven in 10 Americans planning to celebrate Halloween, Oct. 31 is one of the fastest growing holidays of the year. And for good reason, it is a chance to break away from day-to-day routines to let loose and have some fun.

    A National Retail Federation survey said Americans will spend $8 billion on Halloween this year, and a good chunk of that will be spent on costumes.

    Don't be fooled: Halloween isn't just for kids. In fact, more money is expected to be spent on adult costumes this year than on costumes for children.

    The trade group estimates there will 6 million adults dressing as a witch, and 3.2 million dressing as a vampire. Trailing those costume choices are the traditional fare: pirates, super heroes, and zombies. Yet costume retailers also see some other trends creeping into Halloween fare this year.

    Among them is a growing preference for humorous costumes. Some of these are based on popular television shows or newsworthy public figures.


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  • Romney Leads Among Women (as Long as They're Wealthy)

    By Robert Frank,

    It's become conventional wisdom this election season that Mitt Romney can't attract the women's vote. But there is one group of women who plan to vote en masse for Mitt in November: affluent women.

    According to a new poll from the American Affluence Research Center, half of women who belong to households worth more than $800,000 plan to vote for Romney in November. That compares with only 36 percent of affluent women who plan to vote for Obama.

    Fully 16 percent of wealthy women are undecided - twice the percentage of undecideds for all American voters.

    Affluent women, in fact, are more likely to vote for Mitt than affluent men, about 46 percent of whom plan to vote Romney.

    [More from CNBC: Most Expensive States to Raise a Kid]

    Ron Kurtz, president of the Affluence Research Center, said that affluent women voters tend to focus on economic issues like jobs, the economic recovery and the deficit more than other women. And they see Romney as a better

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  • Finding a New Way to Fight Aging—And a New Market

    By Danielle Kennedy,

    Cosmetics companies are waging the war against aging on a whole new front: correcting skin tone.

    "For years it was wrinkles, lines, wrinkles, lines and that was pretty much the only thing you ever saw any evolution in," said Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst at market research company NPD Group. However, over the past few years there has been a leveling of the playing field, where anti-wrinkle is still important, but skin tone correction is being elevated in importance in battling the aging process.

    The appetite for anti-aging products has been constant, as consumers look for noninvasive ways to rejuvenate their skin as they age.

    This trend isn't slowing down anytime soon, according to Connie Maneaty, an analyst at BMO Capital Market. "(Older populations) are going to drive the anti-aging wrinkle cream fountain of youth type sales for a long time," she said.

    But the sea change toward focusing on correcting skin

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  • Halloween to Scare Up $8 Billion in Spending

    By Christina Cheddar Berk,

    Get out the pumpkins and the ghosts, stock up the candy bowl, and find a costume, it's almost Halloween.
    With a record 170 million people planning to celebrate Halloween this year, the holiday continues to be embraced by many as a time to let loose and have a good time. That also means for retailers, there is some money to be made.

    Spending on the holiday is expected to rise to $8 billion, up 17.5 percent from last year, according to the results of a survey conducted by BIGinsight on behalf of the retail industry's trade group, the National Retail Federation. A pick-up in spending would also bode well for the sluggish U.S. economy.

    According to the survey, seven in 10 Americans - some 71.5 percent - will celebrate this year, up from 68.6 percent last year, and the most in the survey's ten-year history.

    See this slideshow: Hot Holiday Toys 2012

    The average person will fork out about $79.82 on decorations, costumes, and candy, up from $72.31

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