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How Will the New Payday Loan Rules Effect Consumers?

6059832534_04e9456b65_zThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently made public its recommendations for the overhaul of the short term lending industry. It’s one of the strongest attempts to require federal regulation of payday lending, but what does that mean to the people who lean on these loans to get by? (more…)

New Payday Rule Changes Could Rock the Industry

16650179600_63989fa7e4_zAfter weeks of meeting with industry executives and financial advocates, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its proposal for new rules to regulate short-term lending. The rules are sharp and restrictive, and seek to eliminate private lenders altogether.

While these rules are geared towards the payday loan industry, they are broad enough to encompass all forms of short term lending, including deposit advances, car title loans, and higher interest installment loans. If implemented, these rules could favor the big banks by making them the only legal way to lend and borrow in the country. (more…)

The Web as a Part Time Job: 4 Easy Ways to Monetize the Internet

5879389597_0a5544f8e3_zWhat if you could make money without driving to work? Without filling out paperwork, dressing up for an interview, or learning how to work a cash register?

Here are a list of four quick, easy, and FREE ways to start earning money from the comfort of your own home. If you have a laptop, or even a smart phone, you can get set up to start earning money immediately.

If you are already working full-time, you can still use any or all of these means as a way to earn some extra money on the side. It will be the most painless part time job you ever had. (more…)

From Big Time to Jail Time : Top 10 Celebrity Tax Cheats

3285889990_ddd17551b9_zNo one likes paying taxes, not even the rich and famous. Sometimes living an extravagant lifestyle means you don’t have the money – or the inclination – to pay the government its fair share of your riches.

If the IRS has proven anything, it’s that they will go after tax cheats with the ferocity of a pit bull, regardless if you’re a work-a-day Joe, or an Oscar-winning star. (more…)

A Dark Connection: The Link Between Debt and Depression

902028093_9a5b518310_zAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, between 1999 and 2010 the suicide rate increased by 30 percent.

US household debt has been steadily increasing since 1980. The average debt per household right now is $152,00 for mortgage, $15,000 for credit cards, and $33,000 for student loans. Roughly $200,000 per household.

Millennials, who are growing up with all this debt, have much higher rates of depression compared to other age groups, and other generations. Almost 1 in 5 members of Generation Y reported suffering from depression.

These are not three separate facts, these are three interconnected events that tell the same bleak story. The link between debt, depression, and suicide has long been known. Now that the economy is weak and debt seems overwhelming for a growing number of people, this dark connection is more dangerous than ever. If the people, like the nation itself, are digging deeper and deeper into debt and financial ruin, will more and more people suffer from depression?

You knew the student loan crisis and national debt were hurting people financially, but did you know how deep and dark that hurt can run? (more…)

3 Financial Blogs You Need to Be Reading

8020820411_e1066c8cc7_oWhere do you get your financial advice?

It seems like everybody has an opinion on what you should do with your money.  No longer do you have to make an appointment with a financial planner, or buy a book on budgeting advice. For anyone with a computer, there is an entire world of economic knowledge and monetary insight available at your fingertips.

But where to start? With literally tens of thousands of “experts” vying for your attention, everyone tends to make bold claims to grab your interest. You have to pick and choose your bloggers carefully.

In a perfect world, what you want to find is a blogger not just with knowledge of the subject, but also with personality, writing style, and maybe even a sense of humor. Let’s be honest here – finance is generally not an exciting topic. So its important to find a writer you can connect with; if they can keep you engaged, they can keep your mind focused on your finances. (more…)

Bitcoins for Dummies

10306171483_92bc65323e_zWhen Mt. Gox lost $460 million worth of Bitcoins, it caused a lot of headlines and generated a lot of discussion. Are Bitcoins really here to stay, are they even a legitimate form of currency? Should they be taxed or subject to government oversight?

These are all good questions, but they are also moderate to advanced level questions. For a majority of people — perhaps even you – these news stories never start from the basics. No doubt you understand the idea of what a Bitcoin is, but do you know exactly what a Bitcoin is? Do you know where they come from, or how you spend them?

You’re not alone. The Wall Street Journal reported that 76% of Americans don’t understand the basics of Bitcoins, or how they work. In the last 5 years, the value of Bitcoin has risen over 6000% and despite a series of scandals and thefts, they are still growing in value. So even if you never use a Bitcoin, now is a good time to learn about them… just in case.

What Exactly are These Things?

Bitcoins are a digital “cryptocurrency” that do not have the backing of any bank, government, or financial institution. They exist on the world wide web, where they can be exchanged for goods and services with no middle man.

One of the most notable aspects of this currency is that since it is unregulated, any buyer and seller can exchange Bitcoins without oversight, and without a third party charging fees or taxes.

Bitcoin is the money equivalent of E-mail. Emails exist only in the digital medium, and are sent directly between mailboxes. We do not need a poster carrier to deliver a message, nor do we need a phone company to get us an open line to talk – email is direct, instantaneous, and has no physical properties. Bitcoins apply the same principles to money.

Instead of being a coin made of metal, or a bill made of paper, a Bitcoin is a piece of computer code. Since each piece of code is unique, they are easy to track. The process for buying and selling Bitcoins allows the buyer and seller to remain anonymous if they so choose, but the travels of each Bitcoin are cataloged in a public record called the Blockchain. The blockchain keeps everyone honest by making sure codes are duplicated or re-used.

Limited Time Only!

There are a finite number of Bitcoins. There will only ever be 21 million of them in existence. Currently, there are 12.3 million of them in circulation, which means there is still a lot of growth for the market.

That said, there is a limited amount of growth. Unlike paper money, which can be printed at will, there will never be more Bitcoins. This is part of the reason they have become some coveted – since they are not tied to any country’s currency, they are free from inflation and the fluctuations of the stock market. The value of Bitcoins is based entirely on supply and demand.

10924828373_d49ca0b373_zAnyone Can Use Bitcoins, Anytime

Interested in playing with this new currency? Well, there is nothing to stop you. Although the “mining” and creation of Bitcoins is steeped in insider speak and riddles of code, the usage of Bitcoins is surprisingly simple.

Install a Bitcoin Wallet – You can do this on you home computer, your tablet, or your smart phone. Your best bet it to put the Wallet on your phone, where it is easiest to access and use.

Buy Bitcoins – It’s time to fill up your wallet. You will need to go to a “Bitcoin Exchange” website, and use your country’s currency to buy Bitcoins from someone who has them. There are over a hundred exchanges online, as well as a private sellers. It only takes a few minutes to use your money to purchase Bitcoins, which are put into your Wallet.

Spend Bitcoins – Once upon a time it was hard to find a business that accepted Bitcoin for payment, but those days are long gone. Not only do thousands of websites accept BTC for payment (including Amazon and Overstock), but now even some major retailers do as well, like Home Depot, CVS, and Kmart. If you have the Bitcoin Wallet app on your Android you can purchase with your phone on the spot!

So although the concept of Bitcoins may be complex, their usage is not. It is a currency designed for simplicity and convenience, and may very well be signaling a change in the global economy, and how we view money.

After all, Bitcoins aren’t the only digital cryptocurrency on the block any more, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Namecoin, Tonal Bitcoin, and IxCoin (and many more) are all looking to make a name for themselves.

Should You Care?

That’s a question on you can answer for yourself. Even though tens of thousands of Bitcoin transactions happen every day, the vast majority of people have no involvement with them. And they don’t need to be involved. Bitcoins definitely have a purpose, and a bright future, but they won’t be replacing cash anytime soon.

But for businessmen and investors, or for forward-thinking people who don’t trust currency, Bitcoins may be just what you’ve been looking for.

Bitcoins have no tangible qualities (like precious metals or jewels) that make them valuable, and they are not backed by a country or bank. Basically, they have value because people believe they have value. If that sounds scary, remember that the United States is no longer on the gold standard, and our currency has value because we all believe it has value. Which makes it not that different from Bitcoin.

Elizabeth Warren: Fighting to Keep Loans Fair

warren1There are few politicians these days who can be accused of championing a cause. When issues come and go, and sound bytes are played hundreds of times a day, only a handful of elected officials choose to plant their feet, take a stand, and fight the good fight.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of those few. Since 2008, Senator Warren has done everything she as a public servant can do to help those in debt. She fights predatory lenders, battles her own government to lower student loan costs, and always tries to sway policy to side with the little guy (borrowers) against big business (lenders).

She is never far from the news, but currently Warren is waging her war on two fronts: she is trying to prevent employers from using credit reports when evaluating job candidates, and she is looking for ways to allow the Post Office to start issuing short-term loans. (more…)

New Research Shows Money Makes You Happier, but More Evil

evil1To some it may seem like common sense, but since 1974 researchers have been using statistics and science to prove that, yes indeed, people with money are more satisfied with their lives than people without money.

Research has also shown in recent years that being wealthy is linked to several negative personality traits, and that rich people are more selfish than poor people. One study goes so far as to say than just thinking about money can make you “more evil.”

It doesn’t seem possible, that money can make you happier and a worse human being at the same time. But that’s the effect money seems to have on people, regardless of what country they live in – money makes us all rich, happy jerks.

You Can’t Buy Happiness… Or Can You?

An economics professor named Richard Easterlin showed that rich people are, by and large, happier than poor people. In 2008, a pair of researchers named Stevenson and Wolfers reported that more affluent countries are, more often than not, much happier than poorer countries.

Richard Layard, a professor at the London School of Economics, theorized that there is a “saturation point” of happiness and wealth. Once a person’s basic needs for living have been met, then money no longer brings additional happiness. Stevenson and Wolfers challenged that theory, and claim their research shows the saturation point is a myth, and that overall the more money you have, the happier you are.

The percentage of people making less than $35 thousand a year who are “very happy” – 35%

The percentage of people making more than $500 thousand a year who are “very happy” – 100%

It’s hard to dispute those numbers.

evil2Is Money the Root of All Character Flaws?

This topic has been hot lately – due to the backlash over the film Wolf of Wall Street (which some say glamorizes an immoral lifestyle) and the outrage over the Texas court case decided by “affluenza.” More attention has been paid to psychologists and behaviorists who study how money and wealth affect people and their actions.

Their results are not pretty.

  • Researchers from Harvard University and the University of Utah have concluded that people who looked at money related images and words were subsequently more likely to make unethical decisions.
  • A study at University of California-Berkeley found that luxury cars were four times less likely to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, as compared to drivers of less expensive vehicles.
  • The journal Psychological Science published research claiming that lower-income people were better at empathizing and reading the facial expressions and body language of others than higher earners.
  • The rich drink 27% more than the poor.
  • Wealthy children tend to be at high risk for depression, eating disorders and anxiety. They have high percentages of binge drinking and drug use, and behavioral issues like lying, cheating, and stealing.
  • When a higher-status person interacts with a lower-status person, they are more likely to be dismissive or condescending, or to take over the conversion, or simply ignore the lower status person.
  • On the other side of the issue, the poor tend to view the rich with distrust. Some studies show that many people link wealth and profits with wrongdoing. So while the rich are less empathic, the poor are much quicker to judge the rich.

Are people with money really that awful? Or to some degree have the wealthy been demonized in the latest battle of the class wars? Is it possible to let money improve your quality of life without making you a “bad guy”?

Drop a comment, and tell us what you think!

Is a Digital Signature Legal and Binding?

signhereThe electronic signature is basically what allows e-commerce to grow and thrive. Without the legal acceptability of e-signatures, a majority of business would grind to a halt… and not just business over the internet. The 4-digit pin number people use for debit card transactions would cease, and credit cards would take much longer to process.

Virtually all financial transactions in this country – from over the counter purchases to applying for loans – require some kind of signature. In the past, a signature meant what it was; signing your name to a document to verify your agreement with the terms. Without a signature a legal form or bill of sale would not stand up in a court of law.

Imagine if Amazon had to get a physical signature for every item they sold! (more…)