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Archive for 'Economy' Category

Did the recession improve our financial habits?

Published 7/3/12  (Modified 7/30/12)

Did the recession improve our financial habits? By Justin Boyle

The economic ups and downs of recent years have brought plenty of negatives to the personal finance climate: Overall employment has slipped. Investment revenues have been volatile. Market uncertainty has jeopardized the security of pensions and retirement accounts.

As the dust settles, however, it's becoming clear that not all the changes have been negative. A June 2012 report by the Federal Reserve suggests that a fair number of consumers adopted wiser money management behaviors amid the challenging conditions ...

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Hidden information in Fed's report on debit card interchange fees

Published 5/14/12  (Modified 6/29/12)

Hidden information in Fed's report on debit card interchange fees By Justin Boyle

I'm sure you remember the wild uproar among finance bloggers last year, when the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law. We went bananas about this! What had us the most in an uproar was a last-minute addition to the Act that focused on debit card interchange fees and promised to swing billions of dollars this way and that at the personal finance level...

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Fiscal house of horrors: 5 scariest things about the US economy

Published 10/13/11

Fiscal house of horrors: 5 scariest things about the US economy By Richard Barrington

If you are looking to save a few dollars this Halloween, you can get your chills without springing for a haunted hayride in a dark cornfield or a creature feature at your local movie theater. All you need to be truly frightened is to read the latest economic news.

In fact, the U.S. economy lately has resembled something out of a zombie movie - shuffling along, somewhere between life and death. Here are the five scariest things about this economy right now:

  1. Gruesome employment numbers. Have you ever had a nightmare where you are running and running but can't seem to get anywhere? That's what this job market feels like. After all, we are supposedly more than two years into an economic recovery, yet unemployment remains stubbornly high.

    Worse, what job growth there is seems to be slowing. In the past five months, the U.S. economy has added a net total of just 360,000 jobs; in the prior five months, this figure had been 866,000. Overall, the U.S. lost more than 8.6 million jobs in 2008 and 2009, and has since replaced barely 2 million of those jobs.

  2. Threatening levels of consumer debt. Some people focus on consumer confidence--the economy would get moving again if people would just buck up and start spending. Underlying the lack of consumer confidence, however, is a more fundamental problem - heavy debt burdens...

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What an Internet Tax means to you

Published 1/31/11  (Modified 3/22/11)

What an Internet Tax means to you By MoneyBlueBook

I recently bought a laptop over the Internet. Shopping online, I found a great price and I didn't have to drive around to different stores to compare products and features. But is it fair that I didn't have to pay any sales tax because I bought the laptop online?

Retailers say the playing field should be leveled out with an Internet sales tax that would be collected at the point of purchase. Now I am not fan of paying more taxes, but the thought of helping put a local company out of business because I like to shop in my pajamas doesn't sit well with me either.

Taxing e-commerce

During President's Clinton administration, the Internet Tax Freedom Act was signed into law to protect commercial aspects of the Internet. The law prohibits federal, state and local governments from taxing access to the Internet or adding taxes that would limit Internet usage. The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) has now been renewed through Nov. 1, 2014, but the law does not address the collection of sales tax. So a few states have made it mandatory for online retailers to charge a sales tax, while a few others left the burden on the consumer to self-report their sales tax.

The latest twist is that some states have now decided that large retailers like Amazon or Overstock should be forced to collect sales tax even

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6 banking innovations to look for in 2011

Published 1/6/11  (Modified 3/9/11)

6 banking innovations to look for in 2011 By Clark Schultz

I have always thought of banks as the bad guys. They charge too much on my credit card balances. They pay too little interest on my savings. And they charge me fees for every little thing. In the last couple of years we even had to endure our tax dollars going to bail out banks that went a little crazy with their lending.

Lately, though, I have started to look at banks differently. In the last year, banks have become more responsible with their lending and have implemented features and services that are useful to me. And it looks like that is just the tip of the iceberg. I think 2011 is the year that banks become the good guys again.

Here are six banking innovations to look for in the coming year that can help make life easier:

  • Social savings accounts

    I realize now that reaching a savings goal when interest rates are low can be tricky. You lose the power of compounding interest and inflation can actually decrease the worth of your money. To help you save in spite of these problems, a new form of savings, called a social savings account gaining steam. The account helps you increase your savings by publicizing your savings target with a widget or personal message on a social network, blog or website. This allows friends and family to hear your story and contribute to your goal.

    Savings is now a higher priority for Americans. The question

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    Pay off debt with 0 interest balance transfer credit cards, but read the fine print

    Published 12/21/10  (Modified 3/9/11)

    Pay off debt with 0 interest balance transfer credit cards, but read the fine print By Lisa Tortorello

    If you are like most people, you probably cringe when it is time to pay the bills. It is a chore almost as dreaded as spending a Saturday afternoon at the post office and dry cleaners. Perhaps the most frustrating and stressful bills to open are those from credit card companies.

    If you carry a balance like most of us do, every month you may be battling the disappointment of a cemented balance. This means that you are actively trying to reduce your credit card debt by sending more than the minimum payment each month, and have vowed to no longer use your cards unless absolutely necessary, but your balance does not budge - it seems to be stuck in the cement. In fact, it may even increase due to steep interest rates that outrank the amount you are paying every month.

    Several years ago, the credit card bills stuffed in your mailbox were probably accompanied by an equal number of offers to transfer your higher-interest balances to zero interest credit cards with no balance transfer fees. This could have certainly helped you chisel your balances out of their concrete cells.

    While those zero percent balance transfers are no longer weighing down your mail carrier's bag like in years past, there are still a few out there that can help you pay down your balances more quickly.

    Zero interest credit cards - not zero risk


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