Borderless News And Views
Why Are More Americans in Need of a Budget?

Wallet with cash and credit cardsFinancial woes are burdening the majority of Americans, which is why it’s more important than ever for people to get their budgets on track.

If you’re a victim of today’s sluggish economy, then it’s time to turn things around by making your personal budget your top priority.

With money management in mind, here are just a few tips that will help you steady your budget and make your money last longer:

Personal Budgets and the Economy

If you’re still feeling the fallout from the financial crisis of late 2007 and 2008, you’re not alone.

Millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet and, according to recent news articles, the recovering economy is slow going at best.

Because of this, a balanced personal budget is more important than ever before, especially in today’s economic climate.

Between the floundering unemployment rate and the government’s endless spending habits, the undue financial stress on the working class will likely continue regardless of the slow economic upturn.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid the consequences of a sluggish economy and keep your budget on track.

Don’t Live Beyond Your Means

When it comes to keeping your personal budget in the black, one of the most important words of advice to follow is to never live beyond your means. In fact, if you want to live a comfortable life, then don’t even come close to living beyond your means.

Do you know what your means are?

If not, then simply add up all of your income and all of your expenditures.

You can either do this in a monthly or yearly format. Once you’ve added everything up, if your expenditures outweigh your income, then you are living beyond your means. Don’t panic, just cut back on your spending and concentrate on saving.

Think About Your Retirement

A healthy budget now will help you create a comfortable retirement for yourself later.

As the following article shows, by keeping “Financial planning for retirement” in the back of your mind, you’ll have an easier time making small sacrifices in order to stabilize your budget.

There’s a lot that goes into planning a comfortable and long lasting retirement.

Luckily, those same financial planning skills are the same skills that will improve your current budget.

Whether it’s around the corner or not, planning for an early retirement will help you get your current budget on the right track.

Estimate Your Budget and Adjust Accordingly

Properly estimating your budget is the name of the game, so you need to make sure you get the numbers right.

When taking into consideration your income and expenditures like bills, your mortgage, healthcare expenses, and so on, it’s important to underestimate your income and overestimate your expenses.

Do this and your budget will always stay in the black.

Likewise, once you estimate your budget, you must adjust your spending accordingly.

There are hundreds of news articles about people who overspend here and there because they think it will all equal out in the end. This is not the case and will get you in financial hot water, so estimate your budget and follow it by adjusting your spending.

By keeping in mind the tips above, you’ll have a happy, healthy budget regardless of how sluggish the economy is.

 

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About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including finance and the economy.



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Bank on Better Savings

This article looks at how Americans can get better returns on their banking investments. Are more people using credit unions? If your bank offers low interest returns on savings accounts etc. is it time to move to another one? Many banks collected an enormous amount of fees from customers yearly. How can consumers cut down on these?

Bank on Better Savings

Why do you do business with your bank? Is it because that is where you started years ago, where you opened your first checking account? Maybe your parents do their banking there and you just continued on. While we often shop around for a new car, appliances and even insurance, many people are happy to stick with the same financial institution for years. Shouldn’t you find out where you get the best deal for your money in your choice of banks, too?

Helping You Earn Money

Many people do not look at banks as investment tools in the same way they do with stocks and other resources. However, you should compare your rate of return on CDs, money market accounts and even savings accounts with what other banks offer. According to the Credit Union National Association, membership in these institutions is over 100 million now, which is about one-third of the people who use either a bank or credit union.

One reason for this surge is the fact that credit unions often pay higher interest rates on savings accounts than banks. Even if you keep the bulk of your investment money in other types of funds, you want to make as much income as possible on your lower-yield accounts. For example, many people like to have a savings account for easy access to extra money in the event of an emergency. They often think very little about how much money it brings in through interest. However, you can accumulate quite a bit over time if you look for the institution with the highest rates. The same goes for CDs, too.

Helping You Save Money

Retirement Piggy BankBanks make most of their income off of fees. Account fees, overdraft fees and other charges can add up when multiplied by the number of customers. If you have to pay out for fees on a regular basis, you definitely want to shop around. One of the biggest ways to save money with a financial institution is to look for free checking.

Consider the other charges you pay such as ATM fees if your bank doesn’t have enough locations. Compare those fees with other banks to figure out if it is time for a change.

Find the Right Deal

When it is time to renew your CD, take the time to shop around. You might be surprised at how much more money you could be earning with another financial institution. With the growth of online banking, you can even look beyond your local banks. Since some of these facilities are online-only, they have lower overhead and can pass the savings on to their customers in the form of lower fees and higher interest rates.

You are no longer limited to your local bank, thanks to modern technology. Take advantage of your options by shopping around to find the best financial institution. Look for one that saves you money with lower fees and helps you earn more with better interest rates on your investments. You look for the best deal when spending your money, why not look around for the best resource when saving it?

Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including finance and banking.



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4 Crazy Motorist Laws You Don’t Know About

The city of Phoenix only gets about eight inches of rainfall per year, so storm sewers were never included in city plans when pavement was laid for streets years ago. Low annual rainfall also means drivers don’t get much practice navigating wet roads.

This combination of factors did not convince the Arizona legislature to build a sewer system. Instead it passed the “Stupid Motorist Law” in 1997. Arizona Revised Statutes 28-910 makes motorists liable for the costs associated with their rescue if they drive through barricades temporarily blocking flooded road and become stranded. Those who violate the law can also be liable for additional costs up to $2,000.

It’s these kind of quirky laws motorists and bikers need to be aware of, not only to avoid the consequences, but to get to a good laugh at lawmakers who apparently have too much time on their hands. Several weird traffic laws are repeated across the Internet without a source, so we made sure to include only the verifiable ones.

No “Fancy Riding” In Galesburg

Keep both hands on your handlebars, both feet on the pedals, and don’t try anything “acrobatic” on your bike, or you could face a fine. Galesburg, Ill. only has about 32,000 residents per the 2010 Census, but the western Illinois town has two colleges, which means a lot of bicycle riders using pedal power to get to and from class in the spring and summer.

There is no penalty specified within the text of the ordinance, but don’t go burning bird feathers within city limits in retaliation for a fine. Galesburg Ordinance 4-23 prohibits this practice as well.

No Parking In Front Of Dunkin’ Donuts

It’s unclear whether the town of South Berwick, Maine has some sort of special agreement with the global doughnut giant or if the mayor just happens to own the franchise. But Dunkin Donuts is the only business specifically mentioned by name in the town’s parking ordinances.

Motorcycle Ride - Stupid Motorist LawsArticle III, Sec. 15 warns drivers not to park within 25 feet of the building or face a fine. What complicates this law is Sec. 29, which states any vehicle that weighs less than 23,000 pounds is exempt from the entire article. The average American car weighs only 4,000 pounds, so it’s possible this law was enacted on April Fool’s Day.

No Tire Screeching

You would think a town with a name like Derby would be friendly to speedy motorists. But that’s not the case in this little Kansas burg. The law prohibits “unnecessary rapid acceleration” and “unnecessary tire squeal” while driving. The town of Derby assesses a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail for violators. There’s no further elaboration on the word “unnecessary” within the statute’s text, so those with old bald tires that squeal every time you turn might want to consider a new set of tires just in case.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Breathalyser

The quickest way to get from the Eiffel Tower to the Palace of Versailles is to take the D182 and D185 to Avenue Rockefeller. Despite the trip only being about 10 miles (16 kilometers), make sure your car is equipped with a breathalyzer. French lawmakers made it a requirement for all motorists to supply their own device. The fine was originally set at €11 (about $14) for non-compliance, but the country’s Minister of Interiors delayed enforcement of the fines indefinitely in March 2013. There is currently no mechanism to enforce the breathalyzer requirement. But it’s still a requirement for all motorists, as is carrying a fluorescent safety vest and warning triangle.



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Tips for Protecting Yourself from Credit Fraud

Credit card fraud occurs every day, as hackers are always on the lookout for ways to steal your personal information. In fact, it is estimated that nine million Americans are victims of identity fraud every year, and many of these individuals have their credit card information stolen as well. Even if you only use your credit cards to shop at major retailers, you can still become a victim. Stores like Home Depot, Target, Goodwill Industries and PF Chang’s have been hacked in recent months, so you really cannot count on corporations to protect your information. All you can really do is take it upon yourself to protect your personal information to avoid becoming another statistic.

Monitor Your Statements

Most people glance at their statements every month, but you should always go a little further in-depth to find fraudulent charges. In some cases, these charges will be obvious, such as your card being used to make a purchase on the other side of the country, but this isn’t always the case. Go over every purchase that shows up on your cards and think about whether or not you made the purchase. If you want to take it a step further, save all of your receipts and compare them to your statements to ensure no one else is using your credit card number.

Protect Your Information

You probably have a great deal of information being stored online, such as your credit card and banking information. As a result, it is very important that you protect your passwords and never give them out to anyone. Change your passwords monthly and never use the same password for multiple accounts. If you only have one password and one account is hacked, it puts your other accounts at risk as well. Don’t make yourself a target for cyber crime by protecting all of your information at all times.

When you make a purchase online, use your credit card, because it provides better protection against fraudulent charges than your debit card. You should also be aware of phishing scams, in which a fraudulent website mimics the appearance of a legitimate one, such as your bank, in an attempt to steal your passwords and other information.

Order a Credit Report

Wallet with cash and credit cardsPerhaps one of the most common forms of credit fraud occurs when someone steals some of your personal information and then opens a new credit card in your name. In these cases, it can take months or longer for you to notice, over which time this individual will have racked up thousands of dollars in charges to your account. By monitoring your credit report at all times, you will see if a new card has been opened in your name, giving you the opportunity to take action before the card can be used. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each bureau annually, so you do not have to pay to keep an eye on your personal credit.

Freeze Your Credit

Those who are particularly concerned about credit card fraud can have their credit frozen. This means your credit files are inaccessible unless you contact the credit bureaus personally to have them unfrozen. While this will be a pain if you want to apply for a car loan, a bank loan or a mortgage, it will ensure that your credit information remains safe and that no one can access it without your permission.

Shred Documents

You probably have a number of documents arrive at your home each week that contain some sensitive information. Make sure you open all of this mail immediately and shred anything that could possibly be used to steal your credit card information or open up a new account in your name. This includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license information and your social security number. Absolutely anything that contains your personal information can be used against you, so shred it all to protect yourself.

With the constant enhancement of technology, it is becoming easier for hackers to steal your personal information. However, by following these tips, you can prevent credit card fraud from happening to you.



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A well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai:

A well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai:

Chock Full O’ Health Benefits: Drink Your Coffee, Dear, It’s Good for You

People of a certain age will recall a 1980s advertising campaign that featured the “coffee achievers of American society—the movers and the shakers.” It showed clips of actress Cicely Tyson fake-slapping some guy during a rehearsal, glam-rocker David Bowie (who, incidentally, is English) and Annie and Nancy Wilson of Heart. “Hold on tight to your dreams,” someone sang in the background, and then a woman’s voice explained, “Coffee gives you the time to dream it.”

The ad was a clumsy appeal to younger people (those at the tail end of the Baby Boom), because coffee was viewed as something only old people drank. Late Baby Boomers (LBBs) preferred diet sodas that were more portable; these were the days before covered coffee containers. Coffee was associated with shaking but not necessarily moving. Marcus Welby himself (don’t ask if the name is unfamiliar) said so, as he recommended a truly awful-tasting instant decaf.

Coffee Achievers Needed Coffee With Taste

LBBs and the coming-of-age Generation X weren’t swayed by the ads as much as the emergence in the early ’90s of a certain chain of hip, tastefully decorated coffee shops. This coffee tasted good, and you could carry it out in an attractive, recyclable cup. As more varieties and flavors were created, more people turned to coffee chains to get their morning fix instead of waiting for something mediocre to drip through Mr. Coffee.

Of course, as soon as the Coffee Generation was converted, news about coffee’s ill effects came out. It’s addictive! It can upset your stomach! It will keep you up at night! It will harm you.

People who drink a lot of coffee—four servings or more per day, according to the Mayo Clinic—can experience a variety of negative side effects (although no mention of any coffee fatalities). Those who could regulate their coffee intake would enjoy increased alertness and improved concentration. Most of the LBBs and Gen X got the message and toned down their consumption.

Moderate Amounts of Coffee Deliver Healthful Benefits

Today, coffee lovers can imbibe a modest amount without fear. There are real, documented benefits to having a moderate amount of coffee every day. Fox News Health spoke with researchers from around the nation and found some interesting health benefits of enjoying a cup or two:

  • Lots of nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, niacin and choline
  • Major source for antioxidants
  • Increased energy
  • Better mood

One study by Harvard found that coffee drinkers had lower suicide rates than those who abstained. Cornell University reports that caffeine can lower the risk for glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

Finally, Fox reports that in some 10- and 15-year studies of coffee drinkers, it was discovered they were less likely to develop cancers of the breast, colon, basal cells, prostate, ovaries and liver, and less likely to suffer from stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Type 2 diabetes.

So drink up, coffee lovers. Today, single-serving coffee makers like Keurig are among the best-selling coffee makers on Amazon. Everything in moderation, right?



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