Finance

Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Your car may be your most-prized personal possession, but the vast majority of the time it's parked not doing anything. Now, several startup companies propose to help you capitalize on your car's downtime by renting it to perfect strangers.

Following the example set by California last year, the Oregon Legislature is set to tweak its insurance rules to smooth the road for person-to-person car rentals. One company already has hundreds of registered users across the Pacific Northwest, even though the service has not officially launched in that region. And, another company plans to include Washington state this summer.

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A couple of weeks ago, financial commentator Greg Heberlein said it was time for a stock market correction. Sure enough, we've seen the market drop, spurred on by events in the Middle East and the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

Is it time to buy back in? One never knows for sure, but on this week's Money Matters, Greg tells me what to watch for.

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The market has had a phenomenal run up in the past two years, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining nearly 6,000 points. Recent volatility indicates the market may be ready to fall.

But financial commentator Greg Heberlein tells KPLU's Dave Meyer there's no reason to panic. It's all part of the natural market cycle.

PRNewsFoto / Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft handily beat Wall Street's expectations, posting record revenue: nearly $20 billion in its second quarter.

The company says the strong financial report was fuelled by rebounding business demand, as well as swift sales of the Kinect motion controller for its Xbox 360 video games. 

Xbox sales booming

Microsoft says it sold 8 million Kinect motion controllers in just 60 days this past holiday season, far exceeding the company’s expectations, as well as Wall Street's.  

Photo by Gary Davis / KPLU

Starbucks has done it again. The coffee giant says its global revenues reached a record: $3 billion in the first quarter. Profits were up 44 percent compared to a year ago, thanks in part to the chain's growing popularity with coffee drinkers around the world.

KPLU

If you and your spouse can correctly answer three simple math questions, a recent study suggests you'll have plenty of money in retirement. Financial commentator Greg Heberlein gave the quiz to KPLU's Dave Meyer, and you can take it, too. Patricia Sabatini of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette obtained the questions from the RAND Corporation.  They are:

1. If the chance of getting a disease is 10%, how many people out of 1,000 would be expected to get the disease?

2. If five people all have winning numbers in the lottery, and the prize is $2 million, how much will each of them get?

3. Let's say you have $200 in a savings account. The account earns 10% interest per year. How much would you have in the account at the end of two years?

You'll find the answers at the end of this post.

Want to know the secret to building wealth? It's pretty simple, and it's financial commentator Greg Heberlein's Christmas gift to you.  He shares it with KPLU's Dave Meyer in this encore edition of Money Matters.

KPLU photo

You may be noticing more ads tempting investors to enter into limited partnerships. The scheme is looking pretty attractive in the down economy. But KPLU's Money Matters commentator Greg Heberlein says they come with risks.

KPLU

 When it comes to investing, everyone makes mistakes.  It’s virtually unavoidable.  Financial commentator Greg Heberlein and KPLU’s Dave Meyer share some of their blunders on this week’s Money Matters.

Photo by Gary Davis/KPLU

Just two years ago, Starbucks was laying off staff and closing hundreds of US stores in its efforts to slash costs and restore the chain to profitability. Now it's reporting record earnings for the fourth quarter, with profits up 86% compared to a year ago.

Starbucks says its turnaround has ushered in a new phase of growth. Sales in the US and abroad increased by 8% during the quarter.

Russell Investments

What was once the WaMu Tower is now the Russell Investment Center. The financial services company that was downtown Tacoma's largest employer has now formally opened its new headquarters in downtown Seattle.

Seattle's civic leaders turned out in full force to welcome the company famous for its stock market indexes. 900 well-paid employees now occupy five floors of the skyscraper at 2nd and Union, next door to the Seattle Art Museum.