March 31, 2014

Who's left the job market? Comparing 2007-2010 to 2010-2013

Recently Reuters ran this article : U.S. jobs market dropouts increasingly likely to stay out

And they had this nice bit of information : 

''According to economists who have analyzed Labor Department data, 6.6 million people exited the workforce from 2010 and 2013. About 61 percent of these dropouts were retirees, more than double the previous three years' share.
People dropping out because of disability accounted for 28 percent, also up significantly from 2007-2010. Of those remaining, 7 percent were heading to school, while the other 4 percent left for other reasons.
In contrast, between 2007 and 2010, retirees made up a quarter of the six million people who left the labor force, while 18 percent were classified as disabled. About 57 percent were either in school or otherwise on the sidelines.''

Lets look at that graphically :


Thats a pretty big shift.   

The more recent 3 years we can see that most of the people leaving are leaving for retirement.  Thats a demographic change we'd expect due to the baby boomers retiring.   Theres also a fair amount of people going into disability, and I assume many of them are baby boomers too.   Thats also a pretty expected trend.

Compared to the 07-10 period when most people left to go to school or 'other'.  Annoyingly the article doesn't break down the % of people who went to school versus other reasons and lumps them together.   But clearly that large of a drop in the labor pool for school or other is not explained by demographics and is not expected. 


March 30, 2014

17 States Require Personal Finance Education in High School - But it Won't Solve Everything

A recent Survey of the States from the Council for Economic Education said that 17 states require personal finance education in high schools.   2 more states require that classes are offered but don't require students take them.   On top of that all 50 states require economics curriculum.    So this is good news.   But its not going to 'fix' everything.

They make kids take a lot of classes in high school but that doesn't mean they all walk out knowing the topic.   Sorry to be cynical.  


March 28, 2014

Best of Blogs for Week of March 28th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week

DQYDJ looks at emergency funds with  Emergency Funds are Overrated: Part One of Three
Emergency Funds are Overrated: Part Two of Three

DoughRoller has : DR 046: 4% Retirement Withdrawal Rule–An Interview with Vanguard’s Maria Bruno and Colleen Jaconetti
DR also reminds us people 50 or older can Take Advantage of the IRA Catch-Up Rule

The Big Picture shares a graphic with the Real Price of Gold Since 1791

March 27, 2014

Household Income Percentiles for 2000 to 2012

I recently talked about a survey of Americans asking who felt they were in the middle class vs lower or upper classes.   There has been a large increase in the percent of us who think that we're in the lower class.   I wondered if incomes have plummeted for a large portion of Americans or if this was more of a perception thing.

I found detail on household incomes for each fifth at the Census. 

H1 table - Income Limits for Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Households

Here's what it looks like from 2000 to 2012 :

Thats not too bad looking but now lets look at it in real dollars:

That doesn't look so good.   Incomes are down from 2000 in real dollars in every fifth as well as the top 5%.

Its hard to see detail on the bottom 3 fifth groups given the scale so I'll show those groups separately: 

There you can see more clearly the drop of real incomes for the bottom 60% of people.


March 26, 2014

5% Cash Back Promo Credit Card Categories for Q2 2014

Here is the list for Q2 (April - June) :

Chase : Restaurants, Lowe's Home improvement stores
Discover : Home improvement, furniture stores, Bed Bath & Beyond
Citi : Home furnishing stores, Home & Garden Stores, The Home Depot

Restaurants for Chase is definitely the best item on the list this quarter for us.   We don't spend as much on restaurants anymore but it is still one of our larger budget categories.

I don't have any specific plans or need to spend money on home improvement right now so the Home Depot and Lowe's items aren't as exciting for me.   However I might consider buying a gift card for one or the other to lock in that 5% right now, as I know its only a matter of time till I do need to spend some money at Home Depot.    But I'm not really sure if thats worth the bother as I don't really want to lock up money in gift cards too much.


March 25, 2014

Who Thinks They're In the Middle Class?

I started with the idea of writing an article asking why everyone in America seems to think they're in the middle class.   Too frequently I see people with very high or very low incomes self identify themselves as members of the middle class.   I just saw someone with an income over $200k talk about being in the middle class for example.  

Then I found this survey Despite recovery, fewer Americans identify as middle class  from the Pew Research Center.

Their survey found that 44% of people call themselves middle class, which is not what I'd thought.    I had the apparently mistaken impression that the vast majority of Americans called themselves middle class.     They also show that 15% of people are in the upper or upper-middle class.      That number is higher than I'd thought too.   However they don't seem to break it down to who thinks they're in the upper class strictly versus people who claim upper-middle class status.   I'd be interested to see that breakdown.   Sadly a whopping 40% of Americans feel they are in the lower class.

Whats worse is that in just the past 6 years the size of the middle class has dropped from 52% to 44%.   The upper class dropped from 21% to 15%.   The lower class has shot up from 25% to 40%.
If that trend continues then in a couple years the lower class will be larger than our middle class.


March 23, 2014

3 Good Rewards Cards I'm Working on Getting

Last year I earned over $800 in rewards and bonuses with my credit cards.   I'm hoping to increase that this year.   Theres some good rewards cards out there that would help me add several hundred to that amount.   Below are 3 key cards I'm working on getting and the kinds of rewards  I could get.  I estimated the rewards based on what I can get above the current cards I've got.

Card #1 :  Fidelity American Express

This one currently has a promotion for a $75 sign up bonus*.    The card rebates 2% of ALL purchases into a linked Fidelity account.   We could use this to replace our primary spending card and raise our rewards on most purchases from 1% to 2%.   I figure that would net us a good $450 a year on last years spending rate.

Estimate rewards : $450/yr

Card #3 : Sallie Mae Mastercard

5% cash back on the first $250 you spend per month on eligible gas and grocery purchases each and the first $750 you spend per month on eligible book purchases.

 We easily spend $250 on groceries / gas a month so that 5% rate would net us $90 a year.   
Also from what I've heard the $750 on book purchases actually counts as a bookstore and we shop there quite a bit.  Last year I count a whopping $7400 in purchases on Amazon.  This 5% above the 2% could give us another $225 a year in rewards.    

[edit :  I forgot to mention the Sallie Mae card currently has a $25 cash back bonus for the first time you use your account.   $25 isn't much of a promo deal but its still free money. ]

Estimate rewards: $315 /yr

Card #3 : US Bank Cash+ Signature card

This one has different categories you can pick to get 2% and 5% rates.
Earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.  

You can see the categories here  Potential options for the 5% categories for us would be : cell phone bill, restaurants & charities.    However we don't spend a ton in those categories.     You can also get a $25 Cash+ Bonus when you redeem $100 or more in a single redemption once a year.

Estimated rewards : $135/yr

* I got that link from MyMoneyBlog and its likely a commission link for MMB.   Just FYI, you might be helping MMB earn a few bucks if you sign up via that link.

March 21, 2014

Best of Blogs for Week of March 21st

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week

PlanetMoney answers Who Had Richer Parents, Doctors Or Artists?  by sharing data on the average household income during childhood for various professions.

DoughRoller shares a Quick Tip: How to Use Excel to Calculate the Monthly Payments on a Loan
DR also shares what he thinks is The Best Online Mortgage Calculator. . You won’t believe what it can do

MyMoneyBlog shares Barron’s Best Online Broker Rankings 2014

I found this interesting : Per Capita Food Spending by Nation

March 20, 2014

4 Credit Cards Could Net the Average American Family $800 in Rewards per Year

We got over $800 in rewards from our credit cards last year.   That seems like a lot but it isn't really all that hard to do.   I figured it would be a good exercise to estimate how much an average American household might earn by smart use of rewards credit cards.

I went to the BLS CEX and found average spending per household.    From that I split things into categories that would be stuff you can use a credit card for.   I am assuming that your mortgage or rent, your household utilities, car purchases, health insurance and some other items are not things you can pay with credit card. 

Average American household monthly spending sums as follows :

grocery  $ 320
gas  $ 221
restaurant  $ 218
entertain  $ 214
other tran  $ 205
clothes  $ 145
charity  $ 143
furnishings  $ 126
telephone  $ 102
education  $   88
misc  $   65
personal  $   53
housekeeping  $   51
tobacco  $  29
read  $  10

Now in those categories there are certain ones that can qualify for 5% rebate deals.   groceries, gasoline, restaurants, charity and telephone.    Those spending categories can get 5% for either some or all of the year with certain cards.

For the above spending the below cards would give you
Fidelity Amex = 2% on everything
Amex Blue card = 6% on groceries up to $6000 a year
Chase = 5% on gasoline for 2 quarters of the year
USBank = two rotating 5% categories including restaurants and charity

Amex blue for all your groceries.   = 6% x $320 x 12 = $230.40
Chase card for gasoline for 6 months of the year during its promo periods = 5% x $221 x 6 = $66.3
US Bank card for all restaurant and charity spending = 5% x 12 x ($218+$143) = $216.6
Fidelity Amex for all other spending = 2% x $1198.5 x 12 = $287.64

TOTAL = $800.94

If you don't want to bother to get 4 cards and use different cards for different categories then you could just get the 2% Fidelity card and use that one card for everything.   Just using the Fidelity card would net the average household $477.62 a year in rewards.  

For each of the 3 other cards you choose to add you would get additional rewards above the Fidelity 2% rate totaling :
Amex blue = $153.60
Chase = $39.78
US Bank = $129.96

I think its worth that rewards money just to pull out another card for specific purchases.  

You could probably even get more rewards than what I've listed here.   For example the Blue card has 3% in gas stations and if you use the Blue card for gas 6 months of the year thats another $13.26 a year.   You might be able to pay some of your household utilities via credit card as well and get 2% there. 


March 18, 2014

AmazonFresh versus Safeway Home Grocery Delivery

Amazon has home grocery delivery called Amazon Fresh in a few limited markets.  Currently they only seem to serve Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.   Safeway also has home delivery in some markets.   Safeway currently serves some areas of 6 states and D.C.    I happen to live in one of the cities that Safeway serves with home delivery and I think thats the only home grocery delivery option around here.   I figure eventually Amazon will probably expand to other markets, though thats not a given.

Delivery Costs :

Amazon delivery charges range from free to $9.99.    Orders under $50 are $9.99 for delivery.   So of course you'd want to order $50 or more to avoid that.    For $100 or more you can get free delivery.   Between $50 and $100 its free if you're in their 'Big Radish' program or $7.99 if you are not.   I found one reference saying that the Big Radish program was for customers in Seattle who buy $400 or more per month.  Though that could change and may depend on the market.   Theres also a Amazon Fresh Prime program in San Francisco at least that cost $299  and gives free delivery for orders over $35.   You can probably get free delivery via the Big Radish program if you spend over $50 per order, so I'm going to assume that.  However you'd have to pay for several orders before you accumulate enough spending to qualify for Big Radish.  So the Amazon delivery charge is not as straight forward.   I'm going to assume that you buy $50 to $100 and are not in the Big Radish program.   That would mean a delivery charge of $7.99

Safeway has charges ranging from $3.95 to $12.95 depending on when you want delivery and if you buy over $150 or not.    Orders under $150 start at $12.95 and orders over $150 are $9.95.    If you chose a 2 hour delivery window then you save $3 and if you chose a 4 hour window then you can save $6.   I'll assume an order under $150 and pick the 4 hour window for a delivery cost of $6.95

Grocery Costs:

I decided to compare a basket of some typical grocery items.    I chose a list of typical items that I think many households buy like a gallon of milk, loaf of bread, some bananas, etc.  

Here is my shopping list comparison :

Amazon Safeway
gallon milk $3.89 $3.89
orowheat bread $4.39 $2.50
12 AA eggs $2.84 $2.69
1lb burger $4.29 $5.19
2x apple, fiji $1.98 $2.20
5x banana $1.99 $1.62
Folgers 33.9oz $9.89 $6.88
Brawny 8 pack $7.39 $10
Cheerios 18oz $4.29 $4.69
12 pack Coke zero $5.49 $6.59
mustard $1.49 $2.59
Oreos $3.79 $3.99

$51.72 $52.83
delivery $7.99 $6.95
TOTAL $59.71 $59.78

For the Brawny paper towels they only carry 8 packs at Amazon and 12 or 6 packs at Safeway.  I cheated a little by figuring the cost per item at Safeway and then multiplying that by 8.

The actual grocery cost is pretty close.    The Safeway total was $1.11 more but thats only ~2% more.   For a single sample of items in a given day thats not much difference.   Your totals will vary of course based on what happens to be on sale so theres likely some ups and down where Safeway might be cheaper or Amazon might be cheaper in a given week.   But given this single experiment it seems to me that the prices are pretty much as wash overall.

Now of course this is a pretty arbitrary list and if you don't eat these items then your results will vary.

If you spend enough to get free delivery out of Amazon then that might make them a winner overall.   You can get delivery as cheap as $3.95 at Safeway if you spend over $150 an order but there isn't a given option for free delivery.  Safeway does have promotions that can get you free delivery but you have to buy specific items off of a promotional list and I wouldn't assume you'd want those items.

Bottom Line;   The grocery costs seem pretty similar and for a lot of people the delivery charges are close as well.   Amazon may win if you can qualify for free delivery.   Otherwise I'd call it a wash.


March 14, 2014

Best of Blogs for Week of March 14th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week

RetireBy40 has a different take on the question Save for Retirement First or Children’s Education?
While I don't put college savings above retirement myself, given his circumstances I don't think his choice is too bad.

Adventures of Sam points to  a living wage calculator from MIT

The Big Picture shares  60 Years of Budget Deficits in One Chart
and I think its good to keep things in perspective and compare recent deficits to WWII (not to say I think almost continuous deficit spending is great).
Slate has a calculator to help you decide if Amazon Primes new $99 cost is worth it or not.   But I'd point out the calculator is fairly crude and just figures cost of shipment per item and doesn't consider free shipping that Amazon has outside of Prime.


March 13, 2014

I'm an Evil Landlord and You'd Probably Be An Evil Landlord Too

If you're a landlord for very long then I think it might be impossible to avoid being an evil landlord.   At least in the eyes of some tenants.   

I previously wrote my theory on Why Some People Think Landlords Are ALL Evil Slumlords.   In summary my thought was that most people run into a bad landlord so they walk away with a bad general impression.   Yet few people are landlord and don't see the other side of the story.   

But then there are also difficult and almost inevitable situations that landlords get into with tenants where we are faced with hard choices.   I thought I'd give a couple specific examples showing both sides of the landlord and tenant situation to illustrate how people lack the landlord perspective and only hear about the evil landlord story.   Both of these examples are real situations that I've ran into as a landlord.
Tenant story:   When I got out of the hospital my evil landlord had kicked me out!

Someone comes home from the hospital and finds they've been evicted from their home by their landlord.   Must be an evil landlord right?   I mean what kind of heartless person would evict a sick person? 

We've had this kind of thing happen to us.    One of our tenants fell very ill and was in the hospital for a long period.  I want to say he was there a month or two but this was a while ago and I can't really remember the specifics.   In the meantime he was already behind on rent and paid no rent while he was in the hospital.   During his illness he lost his job.   He also had pretty bad outlook and it wasn't clear if he'd be able to work in the future or how long he'd be in the hospital or if he'd even be able to care for himself.   In the meantime we had a vacant rental for 1-2 months and unpaid rent.   Eventually we declared the apartment abandoned (legally) and remove his possessions.   Oh, did I mention that rental was totally trashed? 

Landlord perspective :   We had a tenant 3 months behind on their rent who was unemployed and in the hospital.  We had no choice but to declare the unit abandoned, house their property at our expense for a month then take a loss on the rent and most of the cost of cleaning out the apartment.  

What would you do?   How long do you let someone live in your your rental for free if they are sick?     Would it matter the reason they are sick?  Should you give free rent to someone because they had a better reason for being hospitalized?    Or should you kick them out faster if they have a really bad reason?    How much free rent out of your pocket should someone get in general due to hospitalization?   And we are talking about free rent here.   If I had good reason to expect I'd get paid then we certainly would not have made the choice to remove them.    That raises another question... how do you know if you'll ever get paid?   Is someone calling you and ensuring you that the rent will be paid?  Probably not.

Tenant Story:   The evil landlord left us without heat over Christmas. 

We had a tenants heater break down over Christmas one time.    As soon as we found out it was broken we called a repair service to go out and work on it.  Of course its sometimes hard to get a furnace repair guy out to you over Christmas.   In the meantime our tenants lacked heat ... during Christmas.   It was a pretty awful timing.    This was for a property in another state so we did not have the ability to fix it ourselves, not to mention that I don't know anything really about fixing furnaces.   The tenants ended up staying with family, but if they hadn't then I think its fair that we'd have been on the hook to pay for a hotel.    If I recall right we knocked some money off their next months rent to say 'sorry', but I'm not sure on that detail since this was a while ago.

Landlords perspective:   We did everything we could but the repair guys couldn't make it till after Christmas.  It was just awful luck that the furnace broke down over Christmas.

How would you handle that differently?    Unfortunately this one was really just bad timing and we felt we had done everything we could.


March 11, 2014

Employment - Population Ratio by State 2013

The full BLS doc : Table 2. Employment-population ratios of persons 16 years of age and over by region, division, and state, 2012-13 annual averages

The 10 states with the lowest rates are :

West Virginia 50.1%
Mississippi 52.0%
Alabama 53.1%
Arkansas 53.9%
New Mexico 54.1%
S. Carolina 54.4%
Arizona 54.6%
Michigan 55.0%
Tennessee 55.6%
Kentucky 55.7%

And the highest are :

N. Dakota 69.4%
Nebraska 69.2%
S. Dakota 67.2%
Minnesota 66.8%
Iowa 66.3%
New Hampshire 65.6%
Utah 65.6%
Vermont 65.5%
Wyoming 64.9%
Kansas 64.3%

Here's the full list of states alphabetically :

Alabama 53.1%
Alaska 63.4%
Arizona 54.6%
Arkansas 53.9%
California 57.0%
Colorado 63.2%
Connecticut 60.1%
D.C. 63.5%
Delaware 56.7%
Florida 55.8%
Georgia 57.9%
Hawaii 57.7%
Idaho 60.1%
Illinois 59.4%
Indiana 58.0%
Iowa 66.3%
Kansas 64.3%
Kentucky 55.7%
Louisiana 55.9%
Maine 60.9%
Maryland 63.0%
Massachusetts 60.1%
Michigan 55.0%
Minnesota 66.8%
Mississippi 52.0%
Missouri 60.1%
Montana 60.5%
N. Carolina 56.9%
N. Dakota 69.4%
Nebraska 69.2%
Nevada 57.2%
New Hampshire 65.6%
New Jersey 59.4%
New Mexico 54.1%
New York 56.8%
Ohio 59.0%
Oklahoma 58.8%
Oregon 56.7%
Pennsylvania 58.8%
Rhode Island 59.3%
S. Carolina 54.4%
S. Dakota 67.2%
Tennessee 55.6%
Texas 61.1%
Utah 65.6%
Vermont 65.5%
Virginia 62.7%
Washington 59.1%
West Virginia 50.1%
Wisconsin 63.6%
Wyoming 64.9%


March 10, 2014

DRAM Class Action Lawsuit Settlement

If you bought a computer, printer, memory module, graphic card, video game console, DVD player, PDA, MP3 player, Tivo/DVR, server or other DRAM product any time between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2002?   If so then you're entitled to part of a lawsuit settlement by DRAM makers. is the website setup for the class action settlement.

The settlement is for $310 million total and the minimum recovery is $10.

Here is the link to : file a claim

No documentation is required to file, so you don't have go to dig up your 15 year old  receipts.


March 9, 2014

Income Distribution by Education Level

You can often find median or average wages for the different education attainment  levels.   But I wondered how the distribution of wages looked for each.    I mean are they all pretty symmetrical distributions at each education level?   Or might it be flatter at the lower education level and wider distribution at the higher education levels?

I pulled income levels for education level off the BLS database for 
Table 5. Quartiles and selected deciles of usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages, not seasonally adjusted

Here's the income distribution based on education level :

10% 25% Median 75% 90%
Dropout $15,236 $18,616 $24,544 $33,020 $47,112
High school $18,772 $24,856 $33,852 $48,724 $68,744
Bachelors $27,508 $38,844 $57,616 $85,488 $120,952
Advanced $35,360 $49,244 $72,228 $104,572 $155,116

And then as % of median :

10% 25% Median 75% 90%
dropout 62% 76% 100% 135% 192%
High school 55% 73% 100% 144% 203%
Bachelors 48% 67% 100% 148% 210%
Advanced 49% 68% 100% 145% 215%

Overall I would say that the income distributions don't vary a whole lot based on education level.   The top 10% makes roughly double the median and the bottom makes 50-60% of the median.    The bottom 10% wage level is supported by the minimum wage so that may explain why its a little higher % of median than other education levels.


March 7, 2014

Best of Blogs for Week of March 7th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week

PlanetMoney has an interesting story of The Invention Of 'The Economy'

The Simple Dollar asks Does Good Debt Exist?
and I'd say I generally agree with his conclusion.

GetRichSlowly lists 5 car maintenance services you can get for free

MrMoneyMoustache gives his opinion on Why We are Not Really All Doomed


March 6, 2014

Income verus Wealth

Are high income people 'rich'?      Not necessarily.     Sometimes however we see income used interchangeably with wealth.   For example a news story might talk about 'rich' or 'wealthy' people but only cite income statistics but not net worth.    This is a point that Free Money Finance has complained about in the past.   Income is not the same as wealth.     You can for example have someone who makes 6 figure income but has negative net worth, like maybe a new doctor with high student loan debts.   And you can also have people with relatively low incomes but very high net worths, like a retiree with a very large nest egg built over a lifetime.

 However there is a pretty high correlation between income and wealth.   Most low income people aren't rich and most high income people are not poor.  There are always exceptions but if you look at the statistics the trends are quite clear.    I decided to see what kind of information I could find to show the tie between income and wealth.    Can we look at a high income and assume that person is wealthy?   How likely is a high income household to also have a high net worth?

The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) has info on income and assets in one place.
You can also find discussion of the topic in the Federal Reserve paper Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2007 to 2010: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances Table 4 on page 17 has the net worth data per income group.

Here is the data out of the most recent SCF for 2010 (figures in thousands):

income percentile median income median net worth
Less than 20  $       13  $       6
20–39.9  $       28  $     26
40–59.9  $       46  $     66
60–79.9  $       72  $   129
80–89.9  $     113  $   287
90–100  $     205  $ 1,194

Focusing on the top 10 % income group we can see that their median income is $205k and their median net worth is $1,194k.   Half of the people in the top 10% make under $205k and half of them make over $205k.  There is no upper limit on that group so the top .001% makes a very large annual income.   We also know that half of the people in the top 10% have net worths making them millionaires and then some.  This does not however mean that people who make over $205k are all millionaires.   There are some millionaires in the 90-95% group making under $205k and some non-millionaires in the 95-100% group making over 205k.    In fact the net worth of the people in the top 10% income bracket could range from severely negative to billions.    And any income percentile group will have a range from bankrupt to millionaires and then some.    I doubt there are any billionaires in the bottom income bracket but theres certainly many millionaires.  

Looking at the median net worths tells us that 50% of the people in each group has more or less than that amount.   So for the bottom 20% of income earners 50% of them have net worths of less than $6000 and 50% of them have net worths over $6000.     Then at the top 10% of income earners half are below $1.194M and half are above $1.194M.

 While income doesn't really tell us what someones net worth is, we can say that most people with incomes over $200k are millionaires.

Now if we drop down to the top 20% we have a median income of $113k and the 80-89.9% group has a median net worth of $287.    That group seems much less likely to be millionaires.   I'm certain there are a good number of millionaires in that income group but we don't know what portion of those people are millionaires.  

I don't have more information on how net worth varies  within given income groups.  I tried to find that but couldn't come up with anything.   It would be nice to have a better distribution of net worth values for each income level.   But we'll have to make due with just the median figures.  

SCF 2010 also has the percentiles of net worth (in thousands):

Percentile of net worth median mean
Less than 25  -   $   (13)
25–49.9  $     32  $     36
50–74.9  $   157  $   169
75–89.9  $   483  $   528
90–100  $ 1,864  $ 3,716

So that shows us a little of how net worths are distributed but not related to incomes at all.


March 4, 2014

FREE after rebate - HR BLock Deluxe & Total Defense Premium Internet Security

Go to TigerDirect : 
H&R Block Tax Software 13 Deluxe and Total Defense Premium Internet Security Bundle

The bundle cost is $59.99 and you can then get a $60 rebate making it free after rebate.   Deadline for the rebate is 3/31.

The rebate form is here.    You DO have to jump through a couple hoops to qualify for the rebate.   You have to register and sign up for the Total Defense account.   That requires registering and activating the software and giving them a credit card.    However you can then cancel the account at any time and they won't bill you anything.      You do not need to actually install the Total Defense software if you don't want to and you probably should not do so if you've already got virus software.  (if you don't already have virus software then you should get some)

But if doing that is worth it to you then you can get a free copy of H&R block Deluxe in the deal.

I used a similar rebate deal with Total Defense via Tigerdirect in the past and it worked fine.  I registered and got the rebate then canceled Total Defense after the fact.  

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

Work Stoppages from 1947 to 2013 - Nobody Goes On Strike Anymore

From the BLS recent information on Major Work Stoppages in 2013  

(click for full size)

You can see that the frequency of strikes was huge back in the 50's and 60's compared to nowadays.   And these are only the large strikes of 1000 or more people that lasted at least a full work shift or longer.    The # of stoppages peaked at 470 in 1952 and hit a low of just 5 in 2009.    In 2013 there were 13 strikes.   Every day or so there was a large strike back in the 50's but now its only about once a month.


March 3, 2014

Spend $5 on iTunes and get $5 credit from Amex YMMV

I got an email from American Express about a promo offer to get $5 credit after spending $5 at iTunes.

Offer detail :

"Spend a total of $5 or more on iTunes using your enrolled American Express Card by 4/30/14 and get a one-time $5 statement credit."

I don't believe all Amex card holders get all the same offers so this may be YMMV.   But if you do have the offer then its basically $5 to spend at iTunes.

For details on the special offers from Amex see my previous article:
Free Bonus Cash with American Express 'Offers for You' and Discover Card 'Extras'


March 2, 2014

Two dozen countries have higher minimum wages than the US ... (if Compared to wages that are often lower than the US.)

Yahoo's finance blog The Exchange wrote that  Two dozen countries with a higher minimum wage than America’s  That sounds pretty bad that we come in behind 2 dozen countries.   Even worse the article compares the US to 27 OECD nations and we're 26th. 

They say :

Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour ranks 26th out of 27 countries, when measured as a percentage of the average wage in each of those countries

I underlined that last bit for emphasis.

The USA has relatively high average wages.   Some of you may scoff at that idea because we Americans seem to be all convinced that we're struggling to make ends meet and that our wages can't possibly be 'high'.   But rest assured we (the richest nation in the world) do in fact have high wages compared to most other nations.

Lets look at  the List of minimum wages by nation and List of average wages by nation
and find an example...

Greece's minimum is $5.19 per hour which is much lower than the US minimum of $7.25.
Greece's average wage is about $1100 a month and the US average is cited as $3693.   
Their minimum wage then is about 78% of the average wage and the US minimum wage is about 33% of our average.   SO by this measure of minimum wage / national average then Greece's minimum wage beats the US minimum wage.  

Would you rather make $5.19 an hour or $7.25 an hour?    I'd prefer $7.25 an hour.    And I don't really think I'd care what % of the national average that figure represents.    How about you?   Would you like to be broke in a broke country or less broke in a well off country?

Now this isn't to say that the US has a particularly generous minimum wage.  We fall behind many industrial nations for sure.   And I can see some of the argument for putting minimum wage in relation to national average since countries with high average wages often have higher cost of living.  But its still just not all that effective of a measure as far as I'm concerned. 

Business Insider compared wages in Here's How America's Minimum Wage Stacks Up Against Countries Like India, Russia, Greece, And France and their graphic shows us coming in behind Australia, Australia, France, New Zealand, UK, Canada and Japan.     

If you sort the List of minimum wages by nation then we come in at 13th in that list among all countries.   If you sort the List of average wages by nation then we come in 16th.


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