New Jobs: Hiring Trends Up, More New Jobs Expected

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New Jobs – Hiring Trends Index Up

An index that looks at employment trends was up in November, signaling employment growth in the months ahead.

Research association The Conference Board said that its Employment Trends Index was up in November versus October’s figure, which reflected sentiment depressed by the government shutdown.

However, November 2013’s number was 5.3% higher than the November 2012 figure – and this shows some real strength in the economy year-over-year.

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Guest Blog: 6 Tips for an Effective Household Budget

Nerd Wallet Budgeting
Courtesy of Nerd Wallet, this week we have a fantastic guest blog to share with you:

Halloween and horror movies might not be as scary as you once thought they were—but maybe that’s because something scarier has replaced them: managing household expenses. Whether you’re a twenty-something, a couple living together for the first time, or an experienced homeowner with kids, the lingering concern over your finances might be the ghost that’s haunting you and won’t leave you alone. The way to ward off this ghost, though, is to confront it and create an effective household budget to understand your finances and your limits. Let’s break it down into steps.

1. Shine some light on your spending habits
2. Slash nonessential expenditures
3. Take off the mask
4. Prepare for worst-case scenario—and holidays
5. Review and revise your budgeting strategies
6. Get more help from tools online

1. Shine some light on your spending habits

The best way to start making a budget is to consider what you (and your family) spend your money on, on a daily and monthly basis. Here’s a list of four general categories—the first two consist of inflexible payments and the latter two are variable expenses:

  • Regular Necessities (rent, food, utilities, gas, etc.)
  • Bills and Loans (such as credit card bills, student loans, medical bills, etc.)
  • Long-Term Savings (401k, savings and emergency accounts, etc.)
  • Fun/Recreation (date night, trip with the kids, etc.)

Feel free to do this with others in your household and add on any categories they suggest to help you personalize the budget. Now, take your income and subtract out all those expenses. Include any others’ income and/or expenses in your household. Don’t panic if the result is a negative number – this is why you’re making a budget. Designate a percentage of your income to each of these categories in order to organize your monetary priorities.

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Credit 101: Part 5 – The Dollar Cost of Your Credit Score

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Understanding the Real Cost of Your Credit Score

Today, every financial institution charges interest to borrowers as a return for lending money.  The amount you borrow (the principal) + interest + length of your loan (term) = your total cost of credit.

Let’s assume two people borrow $20,000 for five years (60 months) to purchase a vehicle.  Borrower #1 has a high credit score, allowing them to have a lower interest rate.  Borrower #2 has a lower credit score, which will make their interest rate much higher:

  1. At 2.9% interest, the first borrower will pay a total of $21,509.62 for this vehicle by the end of the loan.
  2. At 14.9% interest, the second borrower will pay a total of $28,487.49 for this vehicle by the end of the loan.

Based on this example, you can see that not taking care of your credit comes at a large cost.  By simply taking care of your credit you would save nearly $7,000!!

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2014 Stock Market: The Case for a Bear Market

Bear MarketStocks in 2014: The Bear Market Case

In Part 1 of this story we looked at the case being made by Wall Street bulls: Mainly, that an increasingly strong economy will continue to drive stocks higher. Now it’s time for the bears to have their say.

So, what are some cautionary arguments to go along with the cheery optimism of stock market bulls like Fidelity Investments, (and many, many others)?

Well, the bulls vastly outnumber the bears these days, and even the bears aren’t predicting a crash. (Though many Internet sages are, we should point out). What most bears predict isn’t so much a big, downward correction of the market in 2014, as an easing off on the wild gains of 2013. Call it a “flat market bearishness” and here are the main reasons why:

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2014 Stock Market: The Case for a Bull Market

Bull Market

Stocks in 2014: The Bull Market Case

Stocks have reached historic highs recently, but history tells us that the ride down can be painful. With retirement funds hanging in the balance, let’s take a two-part look at what might happen – good and bad — in the year ahead. In Part One we’ll check in with the bulls, who see nothing but big gains ahead:

Bulls vastly outnumber bears these days, with stocks ending 2013 at record highs. As of Dec. 26 major indices including the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 had pushed into all-time record territory. Overall, the value of stocks as a percentage of the overall U.S. economy is greater than it’s ever been.

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