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With their PhDs and economic jargon and mysterious market-moving meetings in Washington, D.C., the Federal Reserve may seem pretty far removed from the day-to-day finances of the average person. But there are few humans on the planet who...
With their PhDs and economic jargon and mysterious market-moving meetings in Washington, D.C., the Federal Reserve may seem pretty far removed from the day-to-day finances of the average person. But there are few humans on the planet who have more power over the economy we all live and work in than the chairman of the [...]Why I’m glad Yellen was tapped to run the Fed from personal finance blog Bargaineering.com. The post Why I’m glad Yellen was tapped to run the Fed appeared first on Bargaineering.
about 3 hours ago
First established in 1789 by an act of Congress, the United States Department of the Treasury is responsible for federal finances. This department was created to manage the U.S. government’s expenditures and revenue, and hence the ...
First established in 1789 by an act of Congress, the United States Department of the Treasury is responsible for federal finances. This department was created to manage the U.S. government’s expenditures and revenue, and hence the means by which the state could raise money to function. Here we examine the Treasury’s responsibilities and the reasons and means by which it takes on debt. The Treasury’s Responsibilities The U.S. Treasury is divided into two divisions: departmental offices and operating bureaus. The departments are mainly in charge of policy making and managing the Treasury, while the bureaus’ duties are to take care of specific operations. Bureaus such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is responsible for tax collection, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), in charge of printing and minting all U.S. money, take care of most Treasury work. The Treasury’s primary tasks include: Collecting taxes and custom duties Paying all bills owed by the federal government Printing and minting U.S. notes and U.S. coinage and stamps Supervising state banks Enforcing government laws including taxation policies Advising the government on both national and international economic, financial, monetary, trade and tax legislation Investigating and federal prosecuting of tax evaders, counterfeiters and/or forgers Managing federal accounts and the national public debt The National Debt A government creates budgets to determine how much it needs to spend to run a nation. Often, however, a government may run a budget deficit by spending more money than it receives in revenues from taxes (including customs duties and stamps). To finance the deficit, governments may seek to raise money by taking on debt, often by borrowing from the public. [Read: 4 Credit Card Rewards Gimmicks Revealed] The U.S. government first found itself in debt in 1790, after taking on the war debts following the Revolutionary War. Since then, the debt has been fueled by more war, economic recession and inflation. As such, the public debt is a result of accumulated budget deficits. The Role of Congress Up until World War I, the U.S. government needed approval from Congress every time it wanted to borrow money from the public. Congress would determine the number of securities that could be issued, their maturity date and the interest that would be paid on them. With the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, however, the U.S. Treasury was given a debt limit expressed as a number, or a ceiling, of how much it could borrow from the public without seeking Congress’s consent. The Treasury was also given the discretion to decide maturity dates, interest rate levels and the type of instruments that would be offered. The total amount of money that can be borrowed by the government without further authorization by Congress is known as the total public debt subject to limit. [Read: How Debt Limits a Country's Options] Any amount above this level has to receive additional approval from the legislative branch. In September 2013 the debt ceiling was $16.699 trillion. When that limit is maxed out by spending and interest obligations, the president must ask Congress to raise the limit again. In 2013, the government shut down over disagreements on raising the debt limit. Who Owns the Debt? The debt is sold in the form of securities to both domestic and foreign investors, as well as corporations and other governments. U.S. securities issued include Treasury bills (T-bills), notes and bonds, as well as U.S. savings bonds. There are both short-term and long-term investment options, but short-term T-bills are offered regularly, as well as quarterly notes and bonds. When the debt instrument has matured, the Treasury can either pay the cash owed (including interest) or issue new securities. [Read: Why Your Pension Plan Has Sovereign Debt in It] Debt instruments issued by the U.S. government are considered to be the safest investments in the
about 4 hours ago
Hordes of vampires and zombies can be terrifying—particularly if your home is on a popular trick-or-treat route. Then, the scare factor isn’t so much about the costumes as the candy bill. The average family plans to spend a little less t...
Hordes of vampires and zombies can be terrifying—particularly if your home is on a popular trick-or-treat route. Then, the scare factor isn’t so much about the costumes as the candy bill. The average family plans to spend a little less than $25 this year on candy, according to the National Retail Federation, but the bill can easily amount to more in high-traffic neighborhoods. The good news? It can easily be less, too, with the right savings tricks: Pick low-cost candies. Chocolate tends to be more expensive. Stick to fruit-flavored candies to cut costs. “As kids, you loved the parents who gave you the good stuff — Snickers, Butterfingers, Almond Joys — but as adults, you suddenly understand the ones who handed you Dots and Dum Dums,” says Kendal Perez of CouponSherpa.com. Browse the sales. Stores offer tempting sales on candy to get shoppers in to buy other items. Keep an eye on weekly store circulars to get a few bags here and there, says Jon Lal, the founder of BeFrugal.com. Watch for coupons. This time of year, candy coupons often pop up in the Sunday newspaper ads, says Stephanie Nelson, ?founder of CouponMom.com. There are also online manufacturer’s coupons. For example, Coupons.com currently has one for $1 off two bags of fun-size Mars Halloween candies. Buy just enough. “The challenge is to avoid overbuying,” says Nelson. “Who ?wants bags of leftover candy when our kids come home with far more than they need?” Err on the side of caution and buy a little less. “If you run out of candy, you can always give out ?nickels or dimes to the later trick-or-treaters,” she says. Open as you go. “Forget the idea that you need to have a full bowl every time the doorbell rings,” says Candice Cerro of PromotionalCodes.com. “Opening bags only when necessary and handing the candy out yourself can mean using less candy, which means you may be able to return unused bags after the night is over.” Stock up. Buying bulk bags at a warehouse club can be 25% cheaper, says Perez. By her count, a 32.9-ounce bag of Hershey’s Super Mix Assorted Candy from Walmart costs $8.98. At Sam’s Club, a 57.35-ounce bag of the same variety runs just $2 more. Even if you don’t need much, consider splitting the big bags with a friend or neighbor to save, says Lal. Recycle. Don’t be afraid to raid your kids’ bags—within reason. “Families who go out earlier in the night should feel free to use extra unopened candy from their trip for trick-or-treaters who show up at the door later in the evening,” Cerro says. Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.
about 5 hours ago
I’ve sold a crap-ton of things online over the years.  Physical stuff, digital stuff, services, software…..so I know a bit about this. But a lot of people still have trouble trying to sell even ONE thing online. But don’...
I’ve sold a crap-ton of things online over the years.  Physical stuff, digital stuff, services, software…..so I know a bit about this. But a lot of people still have trouble trying to sell even ONE thing online. But don’t fret, your Uncle Neville is here to help you out! So awkwardly come sit on my lap, and I’ll quickly explain the 4 different ways I’ve personally used to sell stuff online (depending on your situation): I’ll make each of these quick-n-basic. Even if you’re NOT planning on selling something online right now, I suggest you read this email and save it for future reference (or forward to someone who can use it): IF YOU’RE SELLING: an ebook, Excel file, video, piece of software….. (Setup time: 5 minutes including sign up). The best and fastest way to sell a single file type of product is GumRoad.  It’s retardedly simple (is that politically correct to say anymore)?? When I would sell my class notes in college, I sincerely wish I had something like GumRoad, because it totally automates the whole paying/delivering process. You see….the DELIVERY process is always hardest.  I could easily accept PayPal payments, but then I’d have to manually send people their purchase through email.  GumRoad does all of this without you lifting a finger. All you do is upload the file you want to sell to GumRoad, set the price….and you’re literally done.  Wanna see it in action?? I did a project called the ProblemSolvingChecklist which was a veerrryy short PDF document meant to sit on your computer desktop. All I needed to do was collect $10 from people and send them a PDF file.  GumRoad was PERFECT for this.  You can see it here: (this image is just linked to GumRoad directly where people can buy) Even if I wanted to sell it through email because I have low website skills, all I have to do is include this short link, and it’ll take you directly to the sales page: https://gumroad.com/l/VVTf I sold hundreds of these through GumRoad in this manner. GumRoad Pro’s: Insanely fast and easy to use. Amazing for selling/delivering individual things. GumRoad Cons: They don’t accept PayPal. IF YOU’RE SELLING……a small amount of something or consulting services: (Setup time: 5 minutes) I’d suggest PayPal for selling ANYTHING in small amount.  You can put little buy buttons anywhere on a website or email, and pretty much EVERYONE already uses PayPal.  Usually when buying a digital product I PREFER to pay with PayPal since it’s super-easy to request a refund if needed, and I don’t have to enter my credit card info (not concerned about safety, it’s more a laziness thing) :-P Like if I made pet hamster costumes as a hobby and wanted to sell them myself, I’d just stick up a PayPal button, like this: Just go to PayPal –> Merchant Tools –> Make Button ….and you can set the price and style of your button to get paid! (btw…I knoowww I knowwww I spelled “Hamster” wrong). So STILL TO THIS DAY I have some old digital products that are sold through PayPal, and not integrated into a fancy delivery system.  I get the persons order, and manually send them access through email.  Don’t be afraid to be ghetto!! IF YOU’RE SELLING……a bunch of physical stuff: (Setup time: 1 hour) If you want a legitimate eCommerce STORE on the internet that sells a lot of items, has a built in shopping cart, inventory tracking etc….then I would suggest using one of these three: -Shopify.com -BigCommerce.com -Volusion.com NOW…..I know you’re gonna want to compare them all, but you’re too lazy.  FORTUNATELY your old Uncle Neville has you covered, and has extensively used all three of those platforms (I’ve used a ton other too, but these are the best services I’ve seen). Shopify by far is the easiest and most intuitive to use (and the fastest).  I
about 5 hours ago
Shutterstock If you’ve ever been unhappy with your bank, you’ve probably considered switching — but did you know sometimes there’s a fee for that? There are many choices made available to consumers when it comes to finding th...
Shutterstock If you’ve ever been unhappy with your bank, you’ve probably considered switching — but did you know sometimes there’s a fee for that? There are many choices made available to consumers when it comes to finding the right bank. According to first-hand customer reviews on MyBankTracker, many customers decided to leave their bank because they were dissatisfied with the service, complained of mistakes made by the bank or thought the fees were unfair. Besides these types of reasons, many sign up for certain checking accounts to reap the benefits of enticing bonuses. After taking advantage of the initial bonuses, they will close the account a few weeks later and repeat — this is called “churning,” and is not recommended. Others close their account because they have too many unnecessary accounts open, which can be confusing. If you had a small business, for example, and now you don’t, you can get rid of some of the accounts you have and simplify your finances. Once you do close your checking account, make sure that it’s actually closed. There have been instances in which a customer closed an checking account and did not realized it wasn’t closed. If you have bills going out, the bank may allow the transaction to go through, charging you overdraft fees. If you’re ready to switch banks, there a few factors to keep in mind before doing so. Do you research and find out how many branches and ATMs they have, and how their rates and fees compare with other banks. In the past, many of the top 10 banks would charge a fee if you closed your checking account before a certain amount of time, usually within 60-90 days of opening the account. Good news — as of 2013, it seems all but two of the top 10 major banks have dropped this fee. Rank by Deposits (6/30/13, FDIC) Bank Fee Terms 1 Bank of America $0 - 2 Wells Fargo $0 - 3 Chase $0 - 4 Citibank $0 - 5 U.S. Bank $0 - 6 PNC Bank $25 Within 120 days of opening 7 Capital One $0 - 8 TD Bank $0 - 9 BB&T $24 Within 90 days of opening 10 SunTrust $0 - Related Stories: What to Consider When Deciding on a Large vs. Community Bank What It Costs To Cash A Check At Someone Else’s Bank 5 Checking & Savings Money Hacks What It Costs to Close Your Bank Account
about 6 hours ago
Consumerism Commentary and the articles I write here have changed since I started writing about personal finance in 2003. I’ve personally gone through four financial phases over the thirteen years or so, and because I draw much of ...
Consumerism Commentary and the articles I write here have changed since I started writing about personal finance in 2003. I’ve personally gone through four financial phases over the thirteen years or so, and because I draw much of my writing from personal experiences, any readers who have been around over the past decade might have noticed the changes and how they’ve affected my perspective. Phase 1. Financial ignorance. It was easier for me to close my eyes to the financial trouble I was getting myself into. I’m still pleased that I pursued a living I was passionate about through and after college without regard to possibility of an insecure financial future, but there came a point where I needed to change my declining situation. Phase 2. Personal and financial stability and growth. I began learning about managing my money, spending less than I was earning, and growing my wealth. In this phase, I began a personal blog, Consumerism Commentary, to document my progress, keep myself accountable, and expand my knowledge. In a new job and a new living situation, I was able to save money from every pay check. Before long, I was on my way to getting out of debt and building a solid emergency fund. I started saving for retirement for the first time. Phase 3. Approaching financial independence. In Phase 2, I was concerned about my ability to negotiate a decent raise every year. There’s nothing more annoying than having to put up with the corporate environment where you constantly need to fight for getting the bonus you deserve. I was starting to build my own business in Phase 3, and when I had more control over my own destiny, the pettiness of corporate life stopped mattering as much. By the time I quit my day job, I had financial independence in my sights. Phase 4. Achieving financial independence. The point at which finances are no longer a constraint brings its own problems. The need for financial stability can instill a drive for success, and financial independence eliminates that type of desperation. My financial needs have never been great in the first place, but now I struggle with taking some of my other passion projects to the next step. Framing one’s life phases by changes in one’s relationship with money is only one way to look at life. It’s worthwhile to look at something more core to humanity’s existence than something as material as money. I’ve always said that net worth is not a real goal, that money is only valuable in terms of what it can do for you ability to live how you want. If your only goal is to retire at age 60 with $3 million — or to retire at age 35 with $10 million — you’re missing the point of financial independence. Until you can answer the question, “Why?” you have to give your life more thought. This is a publication where the focus is on money. It makes sense for me to write articles that frame life in financial terms. But it’s good to go occasionally beyond the confines of money and look at life in a broader context. One philosophical theory I hear often is that life is not about the pursuit of money, it’s about the pursuit of happiness. Humans want to increase their wealth because financial independence removes barriers to living life in a way that evokes happiness. Scientists have studied money and happiness to look for correlation and to determine if one has any effect on the other. This article from Forbes gives a summary of many of the major studies pertaining to money and happiness; there doesn’t seem to be much agreement. Not mentioned in the article is the famous study — at least among financial experts — that happiness is correlated to your financial standing among peers when measured by income. That is, you’re happier if you earn $50,000 while your cohorts earn $30,000 than you would be if you earned $100,000 while your friends and colleagues earn $150,000. I have no reason
about 6 hours ago
Too few Canadian students are focusing on an education in science, technology, engineering and math. That’s bad for the kids, and for our economy. Fewer than half of Canadian high school graduates complete Grade 12 math and science cours...
Too few Canadian students are focusing on an education in science, technology, engineering and math. That’s bad for the kids, and for our economy. Fewer than half of Canadian high school graduates complete Grade 12 math and science courses. That’s just one of the headlines in a report released yesterday on the sorry state of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies across the country. Produced by Let’s Talk Science, a national group that promotes STEM learning, the report has recommendations for government, educators, industry leaders and parents. “It’s a very complicated issue,” said Bonnie Schmidt, president of Let’s Talk Science in an interview with me yesterday. “I don’t think that any one stakeholder can actually fix this. I think this is going to take a national concerted effort in which governments are involved, industry is involved and parents start to realize that by allowing or enabling their kids to drop out, they’re effectively closing the door on 70% of the top jobs that are forecast to come in the next decade.” That 70% statistic is just one of the numbers that jump off the pages of the report. Some others: The job vacancy rate for science-based jobs is about 6%, almost twice that of other occupations (3.6%). People who work in a STEM-related job earn 26% more, on average. They’re also less vulnerable to job loss, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the country will need a million skilled workers by 2020. Yet in 2011, fewer 25-to-34-year-olds held a trades certificate than did 55-to-64-year-olds. That has the makings of a labour shortage. Schmidt told me this is “a growing problem.” At a time when economic productivity is lagging and youth unemployment is running about twice the national average, there is good reason to promote STEM education and careers. “Science and technology drive the economy,” said Schmidt. “They also drive global issues we’re dealing with: health care, agriculture, water, energy and sustainability … If young people are not seeing the relevance or the applicability of what we’re trying to encourage, there are long-term implications. Now is the time to make these changes, to get more people engaged and excited and make sure we’re prepared for the next wave of jobs that are coming.” More on youth and careers: Generation Y is going to blow us away Four things I learned in college on Friday Youth unemployment: Actually, I’m not blaming the victim Here’s what youth unemployment is costing us Eleven job search tips for young adults Are you on track to meet your financial and retirement planning goals? It’s never too early or too late to start! Learn about Sun Life’s Money for Life. Keep up to date on what’s happening in the capital markets and the real economy. Subscribe to receive Today’s economy blog automatically by RSS or email.
about 6 hours ago
Yesterday I met the second happiest person* on earth. It's Billy from Affordable Glass. I needed a windshield replacement and that's what he does. Greeted me with a smile shook my hand and thanked me for the business. Two days earlier...
Yesterday I met the second happiest person* on earth. It's Billy from Affordable Glass. I needed a windshield replacement and that's what he does. Greeted me with a smile shook my hand and thanked me for the business. Two days earlier, I had told my wife to book the cheapest guy who could the job. Windshield repair is not something that you do very often... and it's not like we'll be crossing paths again. She insisted that Billy was really nice. I went on a mini-rant (the Patriots were losing, so I wasn't in the best of moods), about how it doesn't matter if he's close friends with the Pope. Nonetheless, Billy's prices were competitive and in hindsight, I should have trusted her woman's intuition. Customer service does matter, even if it's only for a 45-minute job. He said he's been replacing windshields for 20 years and that it is the best job ever. I wonder how many would believe him, but he sold it well. He said that he gets to travel all over the state and meet all these interesting people. I originally thought he was an employee of a big corporation, but I was wrong. He's literally a man with a van. His wife does the scheduling and internet advertising. She comes with him on some calls. I imagine that she can do most of her work with a tablet or cell phone on the road. We talked about many things. He ask how I found him and I told him that my wife found him on yellowpages.com (I miss San Francisco's use of Yelp.) He told me that they spend thousands each month to appear in such directories. Then he went into something up my alley, advertising on search engines. He said that Google was the most expensive and his competitors would purposely click on his links to deplete his budget (this is commonly known click fraud that I thought Google had figured out). He said that Bing and Yahoo were a much better value for his advertising dollar. We talked about his son and daughter and their career plans, what my wife does, what I do (I didn't mention the blogging thing). We talked about the Patriots and other teams around the NFL. I feel like I could have brought up complex software algorithms and he'd be able to speak intelligently on it. At the end of the visit, I thought to myself, "The American Dream isn't home ownership. It's lifestyle ownership." Billy had that figured out long ago. * Who is the happiest person on earth? My son. Just smiles for days. No one can believe that he is this happy. Yesterday he got four shots for vaccinations and screamed from the pain for about 80 seconds and then resumed his laughter. It's almost like the reaction my dog gets when we go to the dog park, but all the time... lottery-winning level joy. The post A Man, A Van, A Plan appeared first on Lazy Man and Money.
about 7 hours ago
I recently realized that, in a lot of ways, I treat my work – professional, household, and so on – as a game in a lot of ways. I keep score. I try to top that score. I know that the best way to do that is to look for better...
I recently realized that, in a lot of ways, I treat my work – professional, household, and so on – as a game in a lot of ways. I keep score. I try to top that score. I know that the best way to do that is to look for better techniques and improve my focus. I feel really good when I break that record. Games can teach a lot of good lessons about real life. Are You Drowning in Debt? Advice for Men on Emotional Spending Although the advice here is theoretically male-centered, the ideas apply perfectly well to women, too. (@ dumb little man) Wine Buying for Frugal Folks A lot of inexpensive wines are very, very good. I’m a pretty big fan of Charles Shaw wines from Trader Joe’s. “Two Buck Chuck” is quite good. (@ get rich slowly) The Four Types of Impulse Purchases I actually think the “planned impulse purchases” are the most nefarious of them all. Planning to buy something you don’t need or even really want just because it’s cheap? Really? (@ happiness project) The easiest way to disagree with someone … is to assume that they’re uninformed and that you must provide knowledge for them. It generally doesn’t end well. Why not try a different approach? (@ seth godin) The post The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Work as Game Edition appeared first on The Simple Dollar.
about 8 hours ago
The front-page of just about every major news agency (print, TV, or otherwise) is seemingly completely focused on the government shutdown.  It’s obviously the story of October 2013, and history will remember it (mostly as a footnot...
The front-page of just about every major news agency (print, TV, or otherwise) is seemingly completely focused on the government shutdown.  It’s obviously the story of October 2013, and history will remember it (mostly as a footnote).  But while history is still being made, an eyeball grabbing obsessed media has been creating news almost around the clock to keep us glued to the latest news.  If it isn’t a rumor about a new deal, it’s the speaker, Senate majority leader, some other elected person, or the president reacting to something someone else said about the shutdown.  On Tuesday there was talk of “unconditional surrender” and “nuclear option” as if this was some type of war.  It certainly is to the people that created it: the media. A government shutdown may be the story of the year, but that doesn’t mean it really needs our attention hour to hour, or even day to day.  Let me save you some time, until the head line says “deal done” there’s no point in paying attention.  Everything that is said in between is simply the media carrying messages back and forth between the branches of government. Imagine a press contingent on the White House lawn asking Obama questions.  Obama says he won’t negotiate on anything until the government is open again.  Joined at the hip, the press contingent shuffles down Pennsylvania Ave (while writing a story about the questions they asked) to the Capitol where Boehner is standing at a podium.  They ask him what he thinks of what they just published Obama saying.  He says Obama is being stubborn and Senate Democrats need to stop up.  The contingent writes stories while running to the other side of the Capitol where Harry Reid is waiting.  They ask him when he thinks of Boehner’s comments.  He says what he thinks about Boehner and the Tea Party.  More stories get published and questions asked until the front page of the Washington Post is filled with garbage about who said what about who. It looks like the media are stooges for a political game, but it’s really the other way around.  The politicians are puppets and the media are pulling the strings.  The show is put on for us, an audience that doesn’t really want to watch.  But there’s nothing else on because the stories are written by the puppet-masters. Can we honestly say that the government would still be shut down of our elected officials didn’t spend all their time talking to each other through the press?  As bad as Congress and the president are, the media cycle’s lack of any ability to investigate and report real news is just as much a problem. As I said before, there is no news until a deal is reached.  Tell your congressperson how disappointed you are in the process, how they let you down.  And then just ignore the circus that was created by the press, and the mess created by our “leaders”. Related posts: As Usual the Media Ignores the Only Good News Lamestream Media: Puppets Of A Show No One Cares About Three Headlines From Yesterday That Make Me Hate The News Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
about 8 hours ago