Saturday, July 29, 2006

Minimum Wage To Be Raised By 2009...

Today Reuters reports that the House of Represenetives voted 230-180, to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 by mid 2009. It will be raised 70 cents in three steps by that time. The current minimum of $5.15 has been in place for almost a decade. I'm not certain what the effect will be on the economy, some experts have their theories...and some, other theories.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pay Raises Vs. Inflation...

A few months back I mentioned that I received a pay raise of only 3%. I pretty much wined about it actually. I see that I may not be the only one that's received a raise that's not beating inflation. The associated press mentions that pay raises are struggling to outpace inflation this year. A recent survey shows that U.S. employers are planning to increase base salaries by 3.7%, which is a bit higher than last years 3.6%. As of right now the projections for inflation are 4.7% this year. That's more than 1 percentage point over last years 3.4%. And it looks like companies will be relying less on pay raises, and more on year end bonuses which help keep good employees without raising fixed costs. Of course industries that are planning the bigger pay raises will be the energy companies, which will be giving raises averaging 4.8%. Running right behind them are the legal and accounting sectors who plan on 4.5% increases.

Monday, July 24, 2006

New Jersey FAIR Homeowner Rebate Surprise...

New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the United States. In order to relieve some the this tax burden, they have several programs in place. Among them is the annual "FAIR homeowner rebate." We didn't qualify for the rebate last year, because we purchased our condo in late part of 2004. I was pleasantly surprised by the application in the mail the other day. The deadline is August 15th, so I made sure to fill out the rebate application online later that night. Turns out we won't be getting the money until the fall of this year. With our age and income, we are eligible for a $250.00 rebate this year. Not a bad surprise...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Federal Reserve Nearing The End Of It's Economy Nature Trail Hike...

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that they may be nearing the end of the long interest rate hike. The federal fund rate was rasied .25% last month to 5.25%, making it the 17th consecutive hike since the end of June 2004. Mr. Bernanke says "The economy was likely to slow and this should ease inflation pressures." They also mention that a weaker housing market supported the case for the fed to back off it's rate tightening.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Covering All Of The Top % Rate Bases...

Earlier on in the month I was getting tired of seeing the fed rate raise, and seeing most of the online savings banks not keep up. And occasionally I like to chase some of the online bank account rates. I currently have an account @ ING, Emigrant and Virtual bank. At the time, ING was about 4.35%, Virtual 4.60% and Emigrant 4.80%. The HSBC online savings account was among the leaders is high rates 5.05%. Plus, they are running a sign up promo, a $25 Best Buy gift card. I figured why not? There's no minimum, it's a great rate, and I'll be getting a gift card for signing up. Well, the process is taking a bit longer than expected. It's a couple of weeks later and I'm now waiting for the password to arrive in the mail. And soon after applying for the account, Emigrant raised their rate to 5% even. And they now plan on raising it to 5.15% coming late July. Oh well, the price for chasing...

Monday, July 17, 2006

140 Personal Finance Calculators?!

I Recently came accross AOL's personal finance section and noticed that they have 140 financial calculators! I never knew there could be so many. Here are the catagories, and the number of calculators they contain...
  • Autos: 11
  • Bonds: 13
  • Budgeting: 7
  • Credit Cards: 8
  • College Planning: 7
  • Credit & Debt: 6
  • Mutual Funds: 11
  • Mortgages and Home Finance: 17
  • Life Insurance: 7
  • Paycheck Planning: 6
  • Retirement: 15
  • Roth IRAs: 8
  • Savings: 10
  • Stocks: 9
The calculators range from "Should I lease or purchase a vehicle?" to "Should I use a home equity loan instead of an auto loan?" Or maybe..."Should I consolidate my debts?" to "What will my tax savings be?" The page I hyperlinked has about 135 calculators. Another five can be found here. Pretty interesting...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

It's not the summer heat I feel...it's my wallet on fire!

I'm only slightly bothered by the summer heat compared to the heat I feel from the wallet, when summer comes around. I knew that weather is more conducive to spending, but sheesh. Summer fairs, barbeques', dining out more often, summer blockbuster movies, beaches, vacations, oh my!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lazy Boss = Happy Wallet!

Like i've mentioned before, my wife really likes her new job. The new job requires the use of a company cell phone. While recenlty inquiring about waiting for the new cell phone, her boss mentioned that due to new cell phone logistics, he was too lazy to get the cell phone, so offered to pay her personal cell phone bill. Not the difference or something like that, but the entire bill. Nice! With her cell phone averaging about $40 bucks a month, that should be about $480 in savings a year! Not a bad deal...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Student Loan Hike...

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. We just received notification from my wife's student loan company that the interest rate will be rising. From 5.3% to 7.14%. Anyone know any good student loan companies with lower rates?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wife's Job Change..What a Difference

I mentioned a few posts back that the wifey seeked and obtained a new job a few weeks back, and boy, what a difference. The business she works for is family owned, so I believe there's a slight difference in how a family run business operates. They're a nice bunch of folks, and on top of that, great pay. Her birthday happen to fall on the weekend of her first week there. That Friday she received a birthday gift from her boss! A card, and a $25 American Express gift card! The job is much less stressful on her, which equals a happier wife...and a happier husband. The only downside is the distance of the office, and the more traveling it requires. Not a bad trade off....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

State Gasoline and Cigarette Taxes...

Ever wonder how much your state taxes cigarettes and gasoline? CNN finds that Rhode Island and Washington state are among the highest taxed states nationwide. Here are the top 5 for both catagories...
Top 5 highest gasoline taxed states(Per gallon)
  • Washington: 34 cents
  • Pennsylvania: 31.2 cents
  • Wisconsin: 30.9 cents
  • Rhode Island: 30 cents
  • North Carolina: 29.9 cents
Top 5 highest cigarette taxed states(Per pack)
  • Rhode Island: $2.46
  • New Jersey: $2.40
  • Washington: $2.025
  • Maine: $2.00
  • Alaska: $1.80
A full list of states can be found in PDF format here.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July Net Worth Snapshot...

Well, well, well..where has the time gone? Net worth snapshot #6 is here already. A net worth of $106,155.79 which is a 2.35% increase from the previous month. Turns out it's the smallest increase since I've been keeping track of it. I'm not sure exactly why without further analyzation, but I do have a few thoughts on it. We've been shoping for food a lot less at the supermarket, which has increased our eating out opportunities. For a few months in the beginning, we were brown baggin' it. Bringing everything from home..not lately. We've also been splurging on a few wants here and there..must be the warm weather, we're out more often..makes us want to spend! In between her old job and new job this month, she took a few days off..lost a few bucks there. The stock market still isn't doing as well as it had been since the beginning of the year..so we're at a loss in our retirement funds. Well, we've discussed it and have decided to make another dedicated effort to cut down on unnecessary spending. I have to admit, it's the summer time..it'll be tough. Overall though, not bad, we're making progress every month..slowly but surely. Saving money, paying bills, paying down loans, etc. Could be worse....