Jan
06

Sick and Tired-the health care crisis in america

Of all the problems in America, one of the most debated and controversial is the health care reform bill. Obama made it a personal mission to bring healthcare to everyone. Some people see it as a blessing, others as a sign of socialism.

One woman interviewed stated she hasn’t had health insurance in years due to her epilepsy and the expensive medicine she needs. She now has to go through a city hospital for assistance instead of being able to choose her doctor and get her medicine at an affordable rate.

On the other end of that, Virginia District Judge Henry E. Hudson believes the new bill is unconstitutional because it forces Americans to purchase healthcare. His theory is some people don’t have it because they may not need it or just can’t afford it, no matter how affordable it is.

As with most things in life, nothing is ever black and white. Many people don’t know all the facts behind the bill. Not surprising as it’s over a thousand pages long. Here are a few highlights, as well as pros and cons of the health care law.

  1. Everyone will be required to have health insurance by the year 2014. As of now, only children are entitled to health insurance despite pre-existing orders. Adults will not have that right for another two years.
  • Pros of that is the reform would push costs down while tightening the reins on medical inflation.
  • Cons is the chance that hospitals providing Medicare may back out as they would lose money when the bill fully goes in to effect.

2.   Employers must ensure health care is provided to their Employees.

  • Pros is more workers will be secure knowing their medical needs are covered.
  • Cons is employers have to pay a fine if they don’t offer coverage.

Whether you are a critic or a believer, this debate will continue for years to come.

Jan
04

401k-The End of an Era

There is no doubt of the numerous economic problems Americans have faced over the past three years. One of the major factors affecting people is the loss of retirees 401k. In 2008, the crisis rose to astronomical proportions.

For those who don’t know, 401k is a type of savings account set up by Employers and the Government to assist Employees in their retirement plan. 401ks are kept tax free until the funds are withdrawn and workers choose a variety of mutual funds, mostly stocks and bonds.

Herein lies the problem.

1. Mutual funds are tied to the stock market which, in 2008, took a hit when the economy dropped. Due to the fact, the money employees spent years saving began disappearing.

2. 401k holders have less control over their funds than those with IRA accounts. A 401K investor can only make mutual funds trades a few times a year, whereas there is more flexibility with an IRA account. Though a person makes more money with a 401, there is a tendency to invest conservatively. Higher risk means higher loss.

The real victims of this crisis are senior citizens or those months away from retiring. The money they thought would give them a comfortable life after retirement was gone. Years of savings were wiped out in a matter of weeks. Holders now put off retiring just to keep their fixed income and survive.
In 2010, the IRS revealed they would be decreasing contributions to 401k accounts making it even harder for workers over 50 years old to make a profit.

The US News and World Report states that, while the stock market is improving and returns are up, it’s still not high enough. The median Vanguard dropped 31% in 2008, but rose 33% in 2009. That’s just a 2% difference-not enough to match the extensive losses people experienced.

Unfortunately, it may be several years before some holders see their portfolios balance rise to it’s original state.

Dec
28

Unemployment Numbers up and Down

Unemployment has been a huge problem in America for the past few years and despite governmental attempts at intervention the situation remains largely unchanged. Typically, over the holiday season the unemployment rate tends to rise because of seasonal hiring. Sadly for 21 states the holiday season has had no effect on the plunging unemployment rates. In fact, those 21 states actually saw an increase in the number of unemployed residents in November 2010.

Despite the increase in 21 states in November, the Labor Department did report a decline in unemployed residents in 15 states. The Labor department also reported that 14 states unemployment rate remained steady. Currently the overall national rate is up about .2 percent to 9.8 percent, which is relatively similar to what it was last year at this time.

The states that are struggling the worst with unemployment right now would include Georgia, Idaho and Colorado. Georgia’s unemployment rate was 9.8 percent and currently it’s 10.1 percent. Idaho is up to 9.4 percent from 9.1 percent. Colorado was 8.4 percent and currently it is 8.6 percent.

A number of states saw an improvement in their unemployment numbers recently. Those states would include Michigan, Pennsylvania, Alabama and South Carolina. Michigan was at 14.4 percent a year ago and now is at 12.4 percent. Pennsylvania is down from 8.8 percent to 8.6 percent. Alabama went from 10.9 percent a year ago to 9 percent this year. South Carolina went from 12.3 percent last year to 10.6 percent this year.

For some, these numbers are promising for others they are bleak. While analyst watch the numbers intently the unemployed worry about the longevity of their benefits and whether or not they will in fact find steady employment before their benefits run out. For those who have already been booted from unemployment benefits the news of unemployment numbers fluctuating is just another reminder of their struggle.

Dec
27

The New Tax Bill: Who Loses?

All is never fair when it comes to the games played in Washington and the new tax bill is no exception to that rule. There most definitely are some people on the losing end of the new tax bill. In fact, those on the losing end of the tax bill are plentiful. Let’s examine further who the tax bill hurts the most.

The one thing that we all know right now is that it is hard to get a job in current economy. The new tax bill guarantees unemployed workers in every state 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. While this may seem like welcome news, it hardly is considering the fact that long-term unemployment is at an all time high. In fact, right now about 10 percent of the people who are unemployed have been out of work and seeking employment for close to two years.

Another loser of the new tax bill, our national deficit. Extending the tax cuts only serves to increase our countries growing national deficit. President Obama has also taken a lashing from the new tax bill. The new tax bill has led many to view the President as weak for not sticking to his campaign promises regarding tax cuts for the wealthy. In addition to this, the democratic left now also appears as weak in the eyes of many for the same reasons.

Just who the really loses out when it comes to the new tax bill truly is a matter of opinion. One could argue the opposite of many of these points, but one things for sure the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the new tax bill have got everyone talking. Whether or not the tax cuts are a detriment to our economy, our president, our deficit or the masses of unemployed; only time will tell.

Dec
26

The Skinny On The New Tax Bill

So, the analyst are yapping away on the news channels. Your friends and co-workers are complaining about it. What does the new tax bill really mean for you? Does it spell disaster. or will it even affect you at all? The following is the skinny on the basics of the new tax bill, read on and decide for yourself whether or not the tax bill affects you.

The new tax bill has extended the tax cuts established by George W. Bush. That means everyone, the highest and lowest earners. The six federal income tax rates stay the same. Plus, itemized deductions are still permissible.

The AMT, or alternative minimum tax is something many of us gloss over on our tax forms. However, more than 20 million tax payers won’t have to pay this tax, which is commonly referred to as the wealth tax. The bill raises the amount of income exempt from the AMT tax to $47,450 for an individual, and $72,450 for couples. The bill also calls for the income exempt to be raised again for the 2011 tax year to $48,450 for individuals and $74,450 for couples.

The American worker also gets a break with the new tax bill. Social security payroll tax will be 2 percent less for one year. The bill also extends the increase in the child tax credit and reduced-earnings threshold.

For the 2011 and 2012 tax year the estate tax will be reinstated. However, the bill calls for an increased exemption level of $5,000,000. The bill also calls for a lowered top rate of 33 percent. The bill also allows everyone to keep the low investment tax rate for the next two years.

Most notably, the bill actually mentions the unemployed. The tax bill allows the unemployed to get a 13 month extension. This guarantees 99 weeks of benefits

Dec
25

Turn a Temp Job Permanent

So you landed a seasonal job, the money is good, the work is tolerable. What do you do when the season ends? How can you make that temporary job permanent? One thing is for sure, turning a temporary seasonal job into permanent employment isn’t an easy endeavor, but it is not impossible. In fact, this year employers have reported that they do in fact expect to hire nearly half of their seasonal employees on a permanent basis. The following is expert advice on how to turn your temporary employment into a permanent job.

Do your job and do it well. Make sure you follow instructions to the letter. Take the initiative and get things done correctly and efficiently. Pay attention when you are being trained, or taught a new task, so you don’t do something incorrectly, or have to ask unnecessary questions.

Always show up for work on time. Avoid having to leave work early if at all possible. Spend your work time wisely. Don’t waste your employers money, by wasting their time, avoid goofing off or socializing when you are on the clock.

Be flexible. Make sure you give your employer all your availability. Try and make your schedule as flexible as possible. Don’t be afraid to volunteer for over time or extra hours when they are available.

Be a team player. Help others with their job if you can. Get along with your co-workers. Take an active interest in your company and your job. Make sure your employer is aware of your desire to be hired on permanently and make sure they know you intend to stay with the company long-term. Show a desire to advance within the company beyond your current position.

Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself and to others if a job isn’t your forte. Temporary employment gives you the ideal opportunity to test drive an employer, company and even a new career. Leaving on good terms if you don’t like a job is better for your long-term career aspects.

Dec
24

Shorten Your Resume Highlight Your Skills

So your unemployed and looking to revamp your resume? You know you need to stand out among the masses of unemployed people, but how do you do that without making your resume to lengthy? With an estimated 5 qualified candidates applying for every open position in todays competitive job market it can be tricky making a resume that highlights your best attributes without being overkill. Knowing what to cut out of your resume and what to leave in is essential to getting hired. The following 3 tips will help you thin your resume without thinnign your job prospects.

3. Cut out jobs from more than 10 years ago if you have enough relevant experience from the past decade. If you don’t have enough relevant experience within the past decade it is okay to go back 15 years. Going back any further may make your skills seem outdated.

2. Focus on skills that are relevant to the career path you are pursuing. There is no need to put jobs or job skills on your resume if you won’t be using them. If you need to add jobs unrelated to your field of employment to fill time gaps, keep the details of them brief. Only list the employer name, timeframe in which you were employed and any skills relevant to your career path. If no skills were relevant, list just the basics.

1. If jobs you had in the past overlapped get rid of jobs that were short-term. There is no need to list employers you worked for short-term if leaving them off does not leave an employment gap on your resume. Only list short-term jobs if they were an internship or provided clinical experience needed for your current career path. This is particularly necessary if you are just entering the workforce

Dec
24

The SBA Makes Getting Loans Easier

Where does a small business, or blossoming new business go when they need a loan? Well in recent years the answer to that question was bleak. The economy has left many banks unable, or reluctant to loan even the most qualified candidates any money. That may have all changed, the Small Business Administration recently announced two new lending initiatives designed to get loan money in the hands of small business owners quick.

The Small Business Administration wants to streamline the process of applying for loans under $250,000. The SBA has first shortened the application for loans under $250,000 to just two pages. Secondly, they made it possible for applications to be approved within minutes of applying. At longest applicants will be informed of their loan approval or denial within 10 days.

The idea behind the Small Business Administrations new loan process is to get money in the hands of companies that need it quickly. Quicker access to funds will allow small businesses to grow and give them the ability to hire and pay new and current employees. Naturally, this helping hand to small businesses could mean a big boost to the suffering economy and job market.

The fact is, small businesses have the ability to heavily impact their local economies, but they are often limited by financial barriers. As of recent it has been difficult because banks have been hesitant to lend despite the fact that credit availability has eased the worldwide financial crisis. In fact, during the fist half of 2010 most of the businesses that applied for credit were denied, or offered very little. With access to funds being made easier small businesses with growth potential will be more likely to expand and thrive. More than 630 banks are working with the Small Business Association on this new initiative.

Dec
23

Highest Earning Locations in America

Struggling to make ends meet? Wondering where people are actually living comfortably? The fact is across the country the median income for families has dropped drastically over the past two years. Forbes magazine recently released a list of the places in The United States where people are making the most money. The information they used was gathered by The United States Census Bureau during there American Community Survey in September 2010.

Washington D.C. and the surrounding metro areas in Virginia and Maryland boast the highest median family income in the country right now. In this region the average family earns $102,340 annually, which despite the current economic down turn is an increase from recent years. The area also has a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the nation at 5.9 percent locally opposed to the 9.2 percent national average.

Coming in second was Greenwich, Connecticut and the surrounding areas of Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk. Despite a 6.7 percent drop from last year the area still has a average family income of $98, 118.

If west coast living is your thing consider San Jose, California. San Jose did see a 6.5 percent drop in the median family income, but they still rank pretty high with the average family earning $96, 443. San Francisco also rates high nationally despite a 3.7 percent drop in the average family income to $90, 734.

All things considered these areas are doing well. Especially when you take into consideration that the overall national average for a family income, which is $70,354. Likewise, statistics show that the average family income has not increased significantly in a decade. The declines and stagnant numbers are largely contributed to the current economy. Plus, the struggling job market and high unemployment rates also affect a families overall ability to earn and increase income.

Dec
22

Five Ways To Save Dinning Out

If you like to dine out you don’t have to let the current economic strain put a damper on your dinner plans. Eating out doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can be economical when you do it right. Follow these five tips and the next time you eat out you may be surprised at the figure on the bottom of your check.

5. Using coupons can really help you save on dining out. Most chain restaurants both dine-iin and fast food establishments have coupons you can find on the Internet. Even many local eateries post coupons online. The key is to do an Internet search with the name of the place you want to eat and the search term “coupon code” or “printable coupon”. You can also check the newspaper and mail ads for paper coupons.

4. Save money on beverages. Getting water with your meal can knock a good chunk of change off your bill especially if you have a large party. You can also have alcoholic drinks at home after dining out because wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks are usually the priciest on the menu.

3. Get the combo. If you are getting fast food the combo is often the cheapest way to go because you are getting a discount on the total of the drink, side and main course. Also check the dollar menu. Sometimes the sizes are smaller, but you can get a side, drink and main course for $3 plus tax opposed to nearly $5 plus tax on the combo menu.

2. Go out early. Once the menu switches from lunch to dinner both the portions and prices increase. Consider going to eat a late lunch/ early dinner.

1. Consider going out for appetizers only. If you get a drink and just get some finger foods you will save a lot of money not ordering main course dishes.