While Congress still hasn’t passed the proposed $150 billion economic stimulus package that promises tax rebate checks for the majority of Americans, you might be wondering how much you’ll qualify for under the proposed terms of the plan. Well, wonder no more… Just plug the appropriate numbers into the calculator below and you’ll know where you stand.


One day you will wake up and your children will be ‘grown’ and heading off to school. Have you thought about how you will finance their education? If you haven’t heard already, the cost of a decent education is continually rising above and beyond what ordinary people can afford. If you have more than one child, you can expect a financial burden that might almost seem overwhelming. Did you know that within the next 10 years, the cost of an average education for a bachelor degree is expected to rise to $200,000 per year? Fortunately there is good news for parents of children that expect to attend college one day. […]


Another Christmas has come and gone.  You promised yourself this year, you were going to stay within your budget.  You weren’t going to use your charge cards to purchase gifts and you were not going overboard.  But the sales were too good to be true and things you just had to have, now sit in your living room.  After all, you can start fresh next year, turn over a new leaf- stick to a plan.  Next year is going to be different, better than ever.  Next year you will gain control of your finances. […]


At the beginning of the year, we committed to having things be different in our lives for 2006.  This is the year we will get our financial house in order.  We have taken the blinders off and finally, we know where our money has been going in the past.  Were you surprised that you spent so much money on food?  Was it the clothes or perhaps it was the Starbucks coffee at $3.50 per cup?  Nevertheless, we are now focused and we can establish a viable plan of action.  I asked you before about your strategy to save.  Let’s explore that even more.  You’ve worked hard all week and now its payday.  How much money do you keep for yourself?  What do you do with that amount?  Well sometimes people will buy themselves something special, save for a vacation, get their hair cut or nails done, or allocate the money for a night on the town. […]


As you walk around the corner you see the sign:  (fill in the blank) University Bookstore.  It’s filled with freshmans, sophomores, juniors and seniors, all searching for the books that match their professors’ names.  The store is usually a two-color pattern: purple and white, green and gold, take your pick.  These colors represent the fine University you’ve been pulling out student loans to attend. The colors also represent the University that, in today’s hard economy, is struggling to pay quality teachers and retain top notch sports teams.  What does this mean for you, the student?  This means that as much as possible you will assist the University in dealing with its financial hardships, with or without your knowledge.  I’ll give you an example.  I walked in my bookstore looking for a mechanical pencil.  Ignoring the price tag (that was a bad idea) I just grabbed the pencil and went to pay.  ‘This can’t be more than a few dollars,’ was my thinking. […]


Women, in addition to spending hours poring over encyclopedic bridal magazines, I wish you would spend that same amount of time with your future spouse talking over these important points before you decide if you two should get married at all. In twenty years, the veil you selected will not come up in a fight with your true love, but the checking account surely will. Here are some decisions to make before you decide if you will marry this person. It all comes down to priorities and expectations. Even if you don’t share the exact same priorities, if you have openly discussed them with each other, then you can manage the expectations each of your have for the marriage. Joint Bank Accounts: I have heard many opinions on this question. The most important thing is to talk about it and make a conscious decision about it. My husband and I share all accounts and financial information with each other. I think this helps us work as a team as we save for the future and even as we buy groceries for this week. We remain accountable to each other at all times which can cause some tough conversations but serves us well in the end. I think that some couples who keep separate money just don’t want to have the discussions it would take to make joint decisions. If you don’t go deeply into these issues, you don’t allow each other to have input into, much less buy in to, the life goals that you need to share in order to move effectively toward them. […]


Remember back in the day when you used to take a flight and they would serve you a meal?  Roughly 30 minutes into the flight, a very nice stewardess (before they were called flight attendants) would politely ask you what you would like to eat and you would anticipate your “airline meal”, even though people joked about how bad it was.  It was honestly the thought that counted.  Ok, now fast forward to 2008, the year of the gas gouge and consider what the airline experience has become. We have to now be subject to a ton of new fees and charges that are affecting, not only your in-flight experience, but the bottom line of your airline charges. Security/911 Surcharge If it isn’t bad enough that our flights are now custom-fitted to weed out terrorists, rather than simply transport people from destination to destination, the financial effects of 9/11 have been so far reaching, that we may never fully be able to calculate it.  The fee is roughly $2.50 and is used to fund the number of initiatives that were implemented after that memorable day. […]


The current buzz about the upcoming stimulus plan and the state of the US economy has a lot of people talking.  When the Bush administration and Congress alerted the public that families and individuals would be getting checks ranging from $600 to $1,800, people were excited.  And, I have to admit; I was even starting to consider what I was going to do with my piece of the pie.  So, apart from all the independently wealthy folks out there who aren’t thinking twice about this check, let me give you a couple of things to consider. The Goal Is Spending The government is actually sending these checks out with the hopes that you, the normal consumer will go out and spend this money- on a flat screen TV, on a new pair of tires you’ve needed or any other shiny, glittery, thing that catches your eye.   Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but if you’re going to spend the money, you might as well get the best bang for your buck (pun intended).  If you are currently in the market to purchase a big-ticket item, then wait for the season when checks will be disbursed.  Many stores understand that a lot of cash will suddenly be infused into the economy and they will be competing to get your dollars.  So let them fight over you and use this time to negotiate on price. […]


{popin}My younger brother let me listen a few tracks of an album by popular hip-hop artist, Kanye West one day when I was in his car. On the few tracks I listened to, Kanye was basically poking fun of the fact that a growing number of college graduates emerge with nothing more than a retail job at the mall and have not become more marketable. But they could still be proud because, after all, they still have their degree. Does West have a point? Is it really worth the effort of going through four years of college? Will college graduates be able to reasonably justify the costs of higher education, and if so when? And if it isn’t worth it, at what point in tuition level does it become worth it? Statistics show that tuition rates have risen by 439% since 1982, far surpassing the inflation rate. Even with all the recent uproar about fuel prices, it still is not even half of the increase in tuition. In addition to this, federal grants have consistently been decreasing while students and parents of students continue to take on huge amounts of debt to either land that raise or higher-paying job. […]


Most of you have been watching politicians shuck and jive in predictable ways to try and manage the even more predictable liquidity crisis that has terrorized our financial markets.  As a supporter of Senator Barack Obama, I am hopeful that this will serve as the final signal to America that a Harvard graduate with extensive Economics training might be a better choice than a mediocre student who claims to know nothing about the economy.  I won’t even mention Sarah Palin, who now makes George Bush the runner-up in the “Unfit to Manage a Burger King” contest.  I am not big on Obama-mania, but I tend to be big on common sense.  It is also telling that many Americans would sacrifice our nation’s future in order to avoid the discomfort of seeing a Black man in the White House.   OK, let me shut up before I say what I REALLY think. […]