Monthly Archives: February 2012

Intrapreneurship gaining speed in rough economy

Conference

Being an entrepreneur is a tough road to follow, with long hours and endless to-do lists. Some people with their own business ideas are choosing to go a different route – intrapreneurship.
Intrapreneurship defined
Intrapreneurship is proposing and starting new businesses from within the confines of an already-existing business. Intrapreneurship is a name that has been applied to everything from encouraging new ideas in a business to full-on supporting a new business startup within an existing corporation. An intrapreneur could be the person who comes up with new business ideas and hands them off to their employers, but more often they are [...]

How the payroll tax cut affects consumers

Social Security

Last week, congress voted to extend the Payroll Tax Cut through 2012. President Obama is meeting Tuesday with taxpayers to discuss  the extension. Last year, most working Americans saw a slight increase in their paychecks because of the payroll tax cut. Critics, however, say that, in the long run, the payroll tax cut does more harm than good.
Obama meets with taxpayers
The president will meet with taxpayers at the White House Tuesday to discuss the benefits the payroll tax cut extension will give them. It is expected that he will also entreat Congress to continue passing legislation designed to  strengthen the [...]

America Saves Week is about to start

A piggy bank

Americans don’t tend to squirrel away enough money for a rainy day or for retirement. However, the Consumer Federation of America and American Savings Education Council want to do something about that during America Saves Week.
Another 51 weeks of the year to worry about
Among the many criticisms leveled at the typical American about personal finances is that hardly anyone saves enough money, either in case of emergency or for their retirement. Indeed, according to Forbes, the share of income that the typical person socked away has fallen significantly during the past 60 years or so. It is estimated by the [...]

Microsoft has a Caradigm for improving health care record-keeping

Patient room in a doctor's office. A computer is visible.

Health care record-keeping is still far from a universal system in the U.S., but Microsoft is looking to change that. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Microsoft’s joint venture with General Electric to modernize health care technology – which experts predict will increase care efficiency and cut costs – has taken a big step forward. It now has a name: Caradigm.
Merging care and paradigm
Caradigm, a new company that should become fully operational by mid-2012, will begin by employing 750 people in the Seattle area. A merging of the worlds “care” and “paradigm,” Caradigm will work to modernize health care through the use [...]

Unfilled job openings point to lost economic opportunity

Sheet Metal

The unemployment rate in the United States currently clocks in between 8 and 9 percent. With more than 15 million unemployed individuals, more than 3 million so-called unfillable positions point to economic opportunity that has been lost.
Growing number of unfillable jobs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unfilled jobs in the United States is rising each month. In November 2011, there were 3.1 million jobs that employers reported they were incapable of filling. In December 2011, that same statistic clocked in at 3.4 million. In July of 2009, the last time this statistic was at its [...]

Preparing for a job interview

While unemployment figures have been dropping steadily, 13 million Americans still remain out of work. It is a tough job market out there, and anything one can do to hedge his or her bet is a good thing. The secret to winning a job is a good interview. What one does to prepare for that interview can make all the difference.
Women have the edge
In preparing for the interview, according to the Kansas City Star, women have the edge. Justin Feeney, a psychology doctoral candidate, says women do naturally what males would do well to emulate.
Feeney, along with two other researchers, [...]

Community bank network Kasasa gaining momentum

Bank of America branch

The advantages of joining a large retail bank is that it has branches everywhere. However, a growing community bank network, called Kasasa, is out to chip away at the edge huge banks enjoy.
Go big or stay home
The reason large retail for-profit banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase enjoy market share over small community banks and credit unions is that they are everywhere. Account holders from New York can walk into a branch in Los Angeles or Pewaukee, Wisc., and do the same banking.
Credit unions and community banks have some networking ability, but not nearly to the [...]

Congress extends, but cuts, unemployment benefits

Drug Test

Congress has recently signed off on a financial compromise bill that will extend several federal programs. Unemployment compensation, however, will be cut in some states.
The extension of federal programs
According to the compromise that has been passed by both the House and Senate, the cut in payroll taxes known as the payroll tax holiday will be continuing. This cut takes out 2 percent of the payroll tax on each paycheck and is capped at $2,200 per worker. On average, this cut adds an additional $20 per paycheck for most workers. The bill also heads off a change to medicare reimbursements, which [...]

Bernanke tells community banks to bite down on low interest rates

Federal Reserve file photo of Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Community banks need something the Federal Reserve is unwilling to provide at this time, reports MarketWatch. The Fed is maintaining its theory that it must keep interest rates low to facilitate economic recovery. However, small community banks depend upon higher interest rates more than any other financial institution so they can remain profitable.
Tough love for community banks
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told community bankers at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. conference in Arlington, Va., that lending must be strengthened if the U.S. is to continue its economic recovery.
“A common complaint on the part of some community bankers is that very [...]

The IRS dirty dozen tax scams

Tax day

Thursday the IRS issued its annual “dirty dozen” list of tax scams. The list is designed to help taxpayers recognize some common scams. It is also a warning to would-be tax cheats.
‘Don’t be fooled’
IRS commissioner Doug Shulman said:
“Scam artists will tempt people in person, on-line and by e-mail with misleading promises about lost refunds and free money. Don’t be fooled.”
The top 12 schemes this year are:
Identity theft
Identity thieves file false returns using stolen personal information. Anybody who feels a fraudulent claim may have been filed using their information can call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.
Phishing scams
Phishing scams use emails, fake websites, [...]

US credit card debt is up or down, depending upon media source

Marty Allen, American comedian, holding wallet with six cards extended in accordion fashion. Visible from top to bottom are "Diner's Club", "Hilton", "American Express", and "Biltmore/Barkley" credit cards; Social Security card, and "American Federation of Television and Radio Artists" union card.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re getting mixed messages from the media when it comes to how the U.S. is handling its consumer debt, you aren’t alone. Bankrate cites a recent report by CreditKarma.com that notes that U.S. consumer credit card debt was down 8 percent from December 2011 to January 2012. Yet according to the Federal Reserve, credit card debt jumped 4.5 percent over the past quarter. While it may be possible a quarterly spike followed a nine-month decrease, the indication is that personal finance media doesn’t know which end is up.
Determining true CreditKarma
Holiday credit card debt is shrinking [...]

Reselling your unusable coupons

Coupons

If you are a deal hunter, you likely have a folder, book or file of coupons that you intended to use, but may not get to. Rather than losing the full amount you spent on the coupon, a bevy of new services have popped up to help you sell those coupons.
Knowing when to sell
Most coupons you purchase or receive have an expiration date. If a coupon you paid money for is within six weeks of expiring and you are fairly certain you will not be able to use the coupon, then it is time to sell it. Make sure you [...]

Debt collectors on CFPB watch list

Credit Report

With the recess appointment of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, financial service firms have a new sheriff in town. Debt collectors and credit reporters have just been added to the agency’s watch list.
Off to a flying start
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in the Dodd-Frank Act, but languished as Congress commenced a series of partisan quibbles, keeping a director from being appointed and keeping the agency from executing its mandate. However, President Obama pulled a fast one, using a recess appointment to install Richard Cordray as the head of the agency in early January [...]

Being hungry can make you take more risks

Food

We all know the first basic tenant of saving money: don’t go grocery shopping hungry. Research, however, has shown that being hungry can generally lead to much more risky financial decisions.
The effects of hunger
Being hungry has many effects on our bodies. The first and most often-cited study on this phenomenon was published in 1969, when researchers examined the link between hunger and grocery purchases. Generally, the study found that for normal-weight people, being hungry while grocery shopping led to higher grocery bills. A study published in 2010 found that hunger created a hormonal imbalance that has been associated with more [...]

Unemployment applications drop to lowest since 2008

Labor Department

According to the U.S. government, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to its lowest point since 2008. The number of unemployment applications is one of the nation’s best barometers of employment growth or decline. The steadily dropping figure points to fewer layoffs and more hiring as the U.S. jobs market continues to recover.
Applications for unemployment benefits drop
The U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday that the weekly amount of applications for unemployment benefits fell by 13,000 last week to an adjusted seasonal figure of 348,000. It represents the fourth drop in the past five weeks. It is [...]

Medical overtreatment costing consumers billions per year

A CT scanning machine

A study recently appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine asserting the problem with the costs of health care is overtesting. People are undergoing too many tests and having too many procedures, resulting in unnecessarily huge bills.
Art imitates life
In the novel “The House of God,” a medical school graduate begins an internship at a prestigious hospital. Among other events, a rebellious attending physician teaches the interns that the best thing to do for patients is usually as little as possible. Excessive tests rarely reveal much, the diagnosis is usually simple, and excessive treatments do more harm than good.
A recent study, [...]

Wedding insurance policies becoming more common

wedding

According to the website Cost of Wedding, the typical wedding in the U.S. today costs about $26,542. And what happens if, after putting down thousands on a reception venue months in advance, the hall files for bankruptcy? More and more often, engaged couples are opting to take out wedding insurance to guard against such events.
More common than you think
These kinds of events are more common than one might think. Robert Nuccio, CEO of the insurance administration firm, Nuccio & Associates, said:
“The claims are shooting up through the walls — the DJ goes out of business, the photographer goes out of [...]