Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hiring unlicensed contractors is a huge risk

People often need to hire a contractor to complete work on their homes. Some people think hiring an unlicensed contractor is a way to save money, but there are substantial risks involved.
Hiring an unlicensed contractor is usually illegal
Most homeowners need a professional to complete home repairs or improvements. Certain things should be done by a professional, such as building on a new room, adding a second floor or installing floor-to-ceiling windows. But contractors are expensive. Some people think that instead of taking out a home equity line of credit for a drastic renovation or a small personal loan for repairs, […]

Calculating interest and dividends for matematically challenged


Not everybody is good at math. Many of us have been vexed by the complexity of those essential abstractions since school days. And yet, to negotiate financially as an adult, we need to understand the difference between simple and compound interest and how to calculate each. For those looking to invest, the same can be said of dividends. In an effort to help, Personal Money Network offers some simple formulas to help de-mystify these concepts.
Determine interest amount
The first step in calculating interest is to determine the entire amount subject to interest for each financial instrument. Then, referring to the specific […]

How to avoid gold scams today

Gold bullion and coins arranged for the camera.

Gold prices are orbiting the stratosphere at a price of $1,859.20 per ounce as of noon EST Monday, according to Canadian metal dealing authority Kitco. With prices so high, invitations to invest in various gold mining, coin collecting and futures buzz at potential investors like bugs drawn to a porch light – and many of the offers are less than reputable. Here are some tips on how to avoid gold scams.
No free lunch
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) told the Sacramento Bee that blogs, websites, tweets and more are flying fast and furious at consumers, bombarding them with the latest […]

Jobs bill would extend assistance for small business startups

Open Sign

Obama’s Jobs bill is a $447-billion combination of tax cuts and economic reform. One provision of the bill could be greatly helpful for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Extending the Self-Employment Assistance Program
The Self-Employment Assistance Program is an unemployment program currently in use in a few different states. The program provides two things: training and money. Unemployed individuals are offered small-business training, including market research and business plan writing. The biggest factor, however, is money. SEAP recipients receive additional money from their unemployment funds to start businesses. The money comes from the individuals’ unemployment funds; the program only changes the way the money is […]

Webster Financial Corp: Helping homeowners avoid foreclosure

Close-up of a street-side foreclosure sign posted for a home. There's a red cross-out over the word “foreclosure.”

Webster Financial Corp. of Waterbury, Conn., is a beacon among banks, reports Bankrate. That’s because, unlike big banks, Webster is doing everything it can to help homeowners avoid foreclosure – and it does so in a manner that has allowed the  bank to remain profitable.
Rolling the foreclosure clouds away
According to home foreclosure authority RealtyTrac, 1 in 611 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in July, 2011. Of all homes purchased in the second quarter, 31 percent came from foreclosures, and up to 60 percent of all homebuyers are actively seeking such properties.
Webster Financial Corp. keeps the ideals of good […]

7 high-paying jobs that only require community college education

community college

We are told that a decent career is pretty much impossible anymore without a college degree. The term “college degree” conjures up images of four-year institutions, dormitories and long hours of late-night cramming. However, many are not in a situation, personally or financially, to make the kind of commitment that a four-year degree requires. Fortunately for them, there are many jobs with decent pay that require only a two-year associate’s degree. The following seven salary ranges are according to current data on
Registered nurse
RNs are highly employable. They are needed everywhere, and most remained employed throughout the recession. However, nurses […]

Study: Millenials have a better handle on credit cards

Close-up of a smiling woman in an advertisement who is holding a credit card in front of her right eye.

Young people appear to have the right idea when it comes to credit card debt, reports Bankrate. In a report compiled by New York-based Auriemma Consulting Group, findings suggest that Millenials are approaching credit card debt with caution compared with their parents and grandparents. Only 1 in 4 claimed to carry a monthly balance.
Twenty percent fewer Millenials carry a balance
The high-water mark was 44 percent in 2007, but the 2011 survey of Millenials — born in the 1980s and 1990s — found that only 25 percent carry a monthly credit card balance, the lowest of all generations covered by the […]

Extend the warranty without extending your wallet

Broken Phone

“Would you like to purchase an extended protection plan?” is something you will likely hear when making just about any major purchase. Extended warranties are like an insurance plan for expensive purchases and are often expensive. Many people do not realize, though, that extended warranties can sometimes be added for no additional charge.
Benefits of an extended warranty
There are several benefits to extended warranties. Electronics and other expensive purchases can break or get damaged, and a warranty can prevent an expensive replacement cost you hadn’t planned for. Extended warranties can often cover more than just breakage; the warranties can cover repairs […]

Government pension plans coming under fire

The ideal for many American workers is to put a few decades into a career, then head off into retirement with a pension and a gold watch. A defined pension is rare in the private sector, and government pension plans are fast becoming a point of contention.
Military retirement plan could be casualty of deficits
Benefits of a U.S military career have always included a military pension after 20 years in the service and more recently health coverage under TriCare. The pension, a monthly stipend after retirement until death, according to, is an incentive for people to remain in the armed […]

Generation Y pessimistic about financial future, retirement

Generation Y

Millennials, Generation Y, 20-somethings, call them what you will, the newest adult generation is pessimistic about its financial future. According to a recent survey, most of those who came into adulthood during the Great Recession are already worrying about retirement.
Financial attitudes of a generation
The Financial Independence Survey, designed to identify the financial attitudes of Generation Y, was released Sept. 6 by The PNC Financial Services Group. It was conducted online in July amid a cross-section of 2,000 U.S. residents between the ages of 20 and 29. The findings of the survey point to a generation-wide pessimism.
Findings of the survey
According to […]

Employers snooping on social networking still a thorny issue

employment and social media

A contentious issue in employment and social media in modern America is whether an employer or potential employer has any business snooping around employees’ social media profiles. The government is starting to get involved, but it’s likely to be a thorny issue for some time to come.
Guard against defamation or censoring free speech of citizens – employment and social media
No business wants to discover employees are disgruntled or see damaging remarks posted about the work environment posted online for all to see. It has become common practice for companies to screen potential employees’ profiles. A lot of people are coming to resent […]

Payday loans can be a cheaper alternative to an overdraft

overdraft fees

A recent report states that 34 million Americans bounce more than 10 checks a year, which can add up to a pile of wasted income in fees and penalties. But unexpected needs arise, and occasional problems may be unavoidable for those with low income and low credit ratings. The same study concludes that a payday loan, used responsibly, may be a less expensive alternative.
Fees charged by bank and retailer
The study was released by Moebs Services, an economic research firm, last month. It found that, on average, banks charge $28 in fees for every bounced check. On top of that, many […]

One in three Americans losing middle-class status

Grave stones with engraved Middle Class, Unions and Press.

According to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the American middle class is one-third of the way to the grave. Witness this somber evidence of downward mobility: Nearly one in three Americans who grew up in middle-class families has slipped down the income ladder.
The slippery slope to economic disparity
The Pew study, which focuses on people who were teenagers in 1979 and between 39 and 44 years of age between 2004 and 2006, notes that middle-class individuals who experienced downward mobility are most commonly divorced and separated from their spouses. They most likely have not attended college, do not […]

Latino homebuyers may drive recovery of the housing market


According to National Public Radio, immigrant families in the U.S. move up economically predominantly through the acquisition of real estate. Latinos and other minorities, who felt the full impact of the foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s, are now snatching up the low-cost properties that have flooded the market in its wake. Ironically, they may become a driving force in the recovery of the real estate industry.
Group hit hardest by foreclosure crisis
According to the The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), a non-profit trade association dedicated to increasing the home ownership rate among Latinos, 48 percent of all […]

How to cut the major costs of vacation

Vacation Rental

In 2009, 37 percent of American workers took a summer vacation. In 2011, only 33 percent of American workers took a summer vacation. Economic costs were the most often-cited reason for giving up vacations, but there are ways to take a full vacation without the full cost.
The basics of a vacation rental
A vacation rental is renting space in another person’s home during your vacation. Vacation rentals are sometimes second properties intended for income for the owners and sometimes simply a home the owner rents out on occasion. Vacation homes can cost anywhere between $70 and $3,000 per night, depending on […]

Most Baby Boomers do not plan on leaving inheritance

One of the most talked-about age groups in recent memory is the Baby Boomers, people born between the end of World War II and 1960. They have been equally praised and blamed for many things, but many of their heirs may be cursing them — most don’t plan on leaving an inheritance.
Boomers want to enjoy golden years
“Baby Boomers,” the group of Americans born between 1946 and 1964, depending on whom is asked, are a special group. They gave birth to “Flower Power,” made Elvis and the Beatles insanely popular and were central in struggles for civil rights. They have also […]

Grad school Groupon is the first of its kind

A college student shows off a pizza with the words “I (heart) Groupon” written in the sauce.

In the hunt for online coupon deals, consumers return time and again to Groupon, the trend-setting heavyweight champion in its field. Now Groupon customers with a hankering for higher education can try out a grad school Groupon for an introduction to teaching course at the private, Chicago-based National-Louis University. As the Chicago Tribune notes, Groupon’s online coupon for a college class is the first of its kind.
Get your grad school Groupon beginning today
With the National-Louis University grad school Groupon, prospective graduate students can save 57 percent on the three-credit course Introduction to Teaching. According to the university’s Vice President of […]