Monthly Archives: July 2011

How to get the most when selling gold and silver

As the economy continues to struggle, more and more people are considering gold and silver as alternative investments. But just because it is a seller’s  market does not mean that a seller should go in unarmed. Knowing the market will help greatly in getting the best return on precious metals.
Gold rises when the economy weakens
On Tuesday the price of gold hit an all-time high of $1,600.90 per ounce. Summer is traditionally a slow time for the gold and silver market, but news of debt problems in Europe and the U.S. has given the industry a boost this year. Silver, though […]

Beware of cheap knock-offs like the fake Apple store

Reports have exploded in the press about a fake Apple store in China that is a near carbon copy of real Apple stores. Though it is an aggressively brazen act of replication, there is a large black market of knock-off consumer products.
Fake store just part of an entire line of iRipoffs
There has been a lot of coverage over the past few days of the fake Apple store in China. The store was called “Apple store,” according to ABC, and the store in Kunming was very difficult to distinguish from a real Apple store. Employees wore uniforms with the Apple logo, […]

How to price your independent contracting time

Independent Contractor

In the face of a weak job market, many are turning to independent contracting. Businesses like contracting work because it is less of a commitment than hiring a full-time employee; contractors like it because it offers flexibility. If you are considering doing independent contract work, pricing your time correctly can make the difference between making a living and barely scraping by.
The difference in pricing your time
Independent contracting is, financially, very different from officially being an employee. There are a lot of little costs that need to be considered. When you are independent contracting, you will need to pay all of […]

Banks pay major settlements in suits over mortgage malpractice

There have been many instances over the past few years in which major banks were negligent in how mortgages were lent to consumers. Many of the nation’s largest home loan lenders, including Bank of American and Wells Fargo, have been opening their checkbooks to pay back wronged consumers.
Bank of America shelling out for disgraced lender Countrywide
The Federal Trade Commission, according to CBS Moneywatch, recently announced that Bank of America will begin paying $108 million back to people who were overcharged by its subsidiary Countrywide. B of A acquired Countrywide when the mortgage lender was showing signs of serious problems. Countrywide […]

Walmart begins caravan into food deserts

Walmart plans to open 300 new stores in oppressed areas known as food deserts. Two other major retailers also plan to expand into those areas. This announcement comes as part of Michelle Obama’s campaign for healthy eating choices to combat childhood obesity.
What is a food desert?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a “food desert” as a low-income community, one-third of whom live at least one mile from a large grocery store. Michelle Obama has made getting healthy food choices available to those in food deserts a priority of her Let’s Move! campaign. Wednesday she met with several retailers to discuss […]

Google offers credit card for vendor financing

The Google corporate logo.

Reuters reports that search giant Google Inc. is introducing a Google credit card exclusively for advertising customers. The AdWords Business credit card is one of Google’s many efforts to outpace the competition in the online ad market. Interest rates will reportedly be competitive and there will be no annual fee, but the card can only be used to buy Google search advertising.
Google’s entry into vendor financing
The Google MasterCard marks the company’s first effort at vendor financing, a common practice among hardware makers like IBM Corp. It’s a quick and easy way for Google advertisers to keep their AdWords campaigns going […]

How to decide whether to repair or replace that broken appliance

A broken down clothes washing machine on a city sidewalk.

The majority of modern consumer appliances are built to break or become obsolete within a few years. Computers, lawnmowers, washing machines and refrigerators are a few examples. Rather than automatically springing for the latest, greatest model, do your budget a favor and seriously consider whether you should repair or replace that old appliance.
Should you fix that broken appliance?
Whether you should repair or replace a worn out appliance can be a difficult question, according to Consumer Reports. This is because there are a number of variables that factor into the decision, such as brand reputation, your personal usage habits, budget, age […]

What the CFPB will do for you

CFPB formation

Thursday, July 21, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) goes into full operation. The bureau was established specifically to protect the consumer from predatory lending practices. But how will it affect the daily financial life of an average consumer in this stale economy?
The Dodd-Frank Act
The CFPB is one of the cornerstones of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010. Its formation was overseen over the last year by Elizabeth Warren. Thursday, she will hand over the reins to the newly appointed director, Robert Cordray. […]

CFPB blasts credit report practices just before official opening

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finally has a director, and just a day before it officially begins operations, the organization has released a report blasting credit score reporting practices. The CFPB blasted credit rating agencies for providing credit reports to consumers that don’t contain the same information lenders see.
New regulatory agency hits the ground running
The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been the center of partisan quibbling in Congress for months. Dozens of hearings and a war of words in the media culminated in special adviser Elizabeth Warren being passed over in favor of Robert Cordray, […]

More businesses, smaller businesses selling this year


Starting a small business can be a lot of work and often a labor of love. Some entrepreneurs choose to start their businesses by purchasing a business that someone else has done the hard work of starting. These sales of small businesses have, according to some reports, been improving in the last few months.
Business sales numbers
Statistics that have been collated by business marketplace BizBuySell have shown that business sales are increasing. In the second quarter (April, May, June) of 2011, sales increased by 8 percent over second quarter sales in 2010. This is the highest number of businesses sold since […]

Birth control could become free for all health plans

The Pill (s)

A panel of well-respected medical experts recommended to the U.S. Department of Health Tuesday that virtually all health insurance plans should by law include free birth control for women. If the recommendation is adopted, it could mean one less worry for families struggling to get by in the economic downturn.
A part of health care reform
The health care law adopted by the White House last year, frequently referred to as Obamacare, requires the administration to come up with a list of health services to be covered for all women without deductibles or co-payments. To that end, the administration commissioned the Institute […]

Changes coming for debit cards and credit cards

American Express

In the last few months, extensive changes to “swipe fees” of credit and debit cards have been passed. As these limitations go into effect, merchants and processors are making changes to how they charge for transactions. The effects of these changes will affect most customers’ everyday budgets.
Changes to swipe fees
After heavy lobbying and almost a year of consideration, the Federal Reserve has voted to cap fees charged to retailers on debit card transactions. These fees will be capped at about 24 cents, a significant reduction from the current average of 44 cents per transaction. The changes go into effect in […]

Borders liquidating after 40 years in business


The Borders Group, a 40-year-old book retailer giant, announced Monday that it has decided to close its remaining 399 stores for good. The retailer had been facing bankruptcy and was hoping that a buyer would step up before liquidation became necessary, but no savior arrived. Borders employed nearly 11,000 people nationwide.
Bankruptcy auction canceled
Borders canceled a bankruptcy-court auction that was set for today. On Thursday, Borders intends to request the court allow it to accept a sale to Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Group liquidators.
‘We are saddened by this development’
Mike Edwards, president of the company, said:
“Following the best efforts of […]

Cost of private school would increase at Hogwarts, too

Students from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania calculated what one year of tuition would cost at the fictional Hogwarts school from the “Harry Potter” series. The school devoted to teaching witchcraft and wizardry would cost more than a year at Harvard University, and real private schools are becoming more expensive, too.
Witch-hazel League versus Ivy
Fans of the “Harry Potter” books and films have likely fantasized about attending Hogwarts, the fictional school for youngsters with magical abilities. However, according to the Economics Society of Lehigh University, a private university in eastern Pennsylvania, the cost of Hogwarts would be more than most people can […]

Prepare the documents you need before you die

A man lying on the floor as he fills out important tax papers.

Never assume that matters of your estate – however humble – will sort themselves out before you die. It is your responsibility to navigate the maze of legal documents before your demise. Learn about the documents you need before you die.
Sign and ensure your heirs are aware
Preparing an advance directive, qualified domestic relations order or other paperwork related to an estate or trust is a good start, and it is vitally important that your heirs remain in the loop and know where to find your documents. A lack of ready documents at the time of your death can prove financially […]

Retail firms begin backlash against extreme couponing

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of buzz about “extreme couponing.” Shoppers obsessively clip coupons and buy large amounts of goods for pennies. Large retail firms are taking notice, and there is a growing backlash against copious quantities of coupons.
Coupon use skyrocketing thanks to dour economy and reality television
Throughout the recession, there has been a noticeable rise in the practice of clipping coupons, especially since reality television started documenting “extreme couponing.” According to CNN, coupon use was found by marketing firm Immar to have risen 27 percent in 2009 alone. The site had only 200,000 […]

Cordray named as director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth warren

President Obama has named former Ohio Attorney General Robert Cordray to the top position in the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Elizabeth Warren, who set up the agency, was passed over because the administration believes she would have trouble passing the Senate appointment process. Senate Republicans still threaten to block any appointee, however, without significant restructuring of the bureau.
Former Attorney General
Cordray, 52, serves currently as enforcement director of the bureau. Once the Attorney General of Ohio, Cordray lost the election last year to Republican Mike DeWine. Cordray has also served in the Ohio Congress and has been the state’s treasurer.
President […]