Best app that Helps You Save Money

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Digit is the easiest and funnest way to save money without hurting your wallet.

Best App to Save Money

 

More exciting than a roller coaster ride. More delicious than a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice scream. Ok, chillax. But seriously, this is one of my top 3 apps because it helps you save money without even noticing you are saving money! And the team at Digit throw some of the most humorous gifs at you that you are excited to receive sms notifications from them. Man I luv this app.

In just two months I’ve saved $300 using Digit. It’s easy to start by just downloading the app. Though most of your Digit transactions can be done via text messaging. After you link your checking account, Digit will open a savings account for you with one of it partner banks. Then, every few days Digit will save money for you passively – 3, 4, 7 dollars here and there. The idea is for you to hardly notice the money is leaving your checking account, but over time you will end up accumulating a lot of savings in the long run. Don’t want to spurge on the Ferragamo shoes or Reiss suit all at once? Use Digit and you’ll have money saved in no time!

See the Digit video and learn more about Digit. Have fun!

 

 

The Typical Government Retiree has a Greater Income Than a Full-time Worker?

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State-pensions_breaking_the_Bank

We taxpayers are being eaten alive and we don’t even know it. Some cities have already eroded into bankruptcy because the weight of having to fund public pensions has become too much of a burden. According to a study by the American Enterprise Institute, in the average state a typical career government retiree has an income higher than 72% of all full-time workers. Excluding health benefits, the average pension pays out lifetime benefits of more than $750,000. And us taxpayers are footing the bill.

public-vs-private-pensions

So why is this important? It is important because these costs are driving up state and local taxes and forcing cities to lay off police officers, limit school funding, and stop repairing roads. I understand public employees deserve to retire with benefits, but not with lavish benefit checks that are far beyond what those in the private sector can expect. Do you agree?

Original story “Pensions that cities can’t afford” by Jeff Jacoby from the Boston Globe.

How a Rusty Monkey Wrench took down a U.S. Fleet

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Any individual, business, or government can throw money at initiatives, but when the real test comes, only smart creative thinking will make true breakthroughs.

General_PaulRiper

Remember when you played soldiers as a kid? Sometimes the kids down the street would have better toy guns than you. Maybe they had those fancy Nerf guns and all you had were simple rubber band guns. And when things weren’t going so well for one of the teams, they’d call time out and try to change the rules.

Now although I don’t play soldiers anymore because I’ve grown up, although I still eat Fruity Pebbles cereal, the military does and they call these ‘War Games’. The biggest war game was called the Millennium Challenge. It happened in 2002 and over 13,000 troops participated. These troops along with real and virtual military planes and warships were spread out across the Middle East. There were two teams – the blue team was the United States of course and the red team was the bad guys.

The blue team had new technology at their disposal. They had precision guided missiles, overhead surveillance systems, several warships including an aircraft carrier, and thousands of marines. The red team, which was led by retired marine, Lt General Paul Van Riper, appreciated that new technology, but unfortunately was not allowed to use it at his disposal. Instead, General Paul Riper was given a fleet of small and inexpensive boats and planes – most of them civilian, along with some machine guns, rockets, and small army. One could have said this was like Germany taking on the Vatican Army. Surely General Paul Riper and his army are going to get crushed. But General Riper was not frightened by the overwhelming force. He put his mind to the problem: how can I adapt and avoid this overwhelming force and yet do damage against the United States?

So after two years of planning, the Generals and Admirals who were commanding the blue team were excited to begin the Millennium Challenge. As the war game began, the U.S. fleet entered the make believe Persian Gulf determined to overwhelm General Riper’s forces. Assessing the situation, General Riper reacted and began to give orders. But he did not give orders using radio transmission – those orders might have been intercepted. Instead, he sent coded messages delivered by motorcycle messengers. He also announced these codes messages from mosques throughout the area. After the orders were received, wave after wave of those small civilian boats headed out into the Persian Gulf and began swarming the naval convoy from all directions. They fired at the U.S. fleet with rockets and machine guns. Bratatatatatat. Some boats were loaded with explosives and they crashed into the U.S. boats damaging them severely. The sheer numbers of the civilian boats and speedboats overloaded the blue team’s ability, both mentally and electronically, to handle the attack.

iranian-patrol-boats

Within 30 minutes, 16 U.S. war ships including thousands of marines were sunk. Within half an hour, General Van Riper, who did not have the latest military weapons or technology, who was only given a fleet of small and inexpensive civilian boats and airplanes, sunk 16 U.S. Navy warships and thousands of marines. If this war really had happened, it would have been the worst naval disaster since Pearl Harbor.

DN-SC-87-06412

Any individual, business, or government can throw money at problems, but when the real test comes, only smart creative thinking will make true breakthroughs. General Paul Riper illustrated a very cheap way to beat a very expensive fleet. The blue team considered themselves invincible and thought they were going to dominate the battlefield. Imagine the look on the blue team’s Generals and Admirals faces after they got their butt kicked. I bet it was Priceless.

General Paul Riper, despite having limited resources, put his mind to the problem – let’s think of a way we can adapt to the situation, avoid the overwhelming U.S forces, and yet still do damage against the opposition. When it comes to smart creative thinking, I think Robert Hughes said it best – “a determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop.”

Some people might think that this would never happen. For me, the story of General Van Riper and the Millennium Challenge reminds me of the American Revolutionary War. When the war began, the 13 colonies lacked a professional army or navy. Instead, each colony sponsored a local militia. Militiamen were lightly armed and had little training. In fact, most of them did not even have uniforms. Their units served for only a few weeks or months at a time, and they were reluctant to travel far from home and thus were unavailable for extended operations. They lacked the training and discipline of soldiers with more experience. However, if properly used, their numbers could overwhelm British forces. And guess who won that war.

13 colonies

I bet at the battle of Yorktown, the last major battle during the American Revolutionary war, the British General, Lord Cornwallis, who was commanding the British army, as he saw his enemy being defeated by these militiamen, probably wanted to call ‘time-out’ – you know, like what we used to do as kids when things weren’t going our way.

Need funding to grow your business? Check out Kabbage.

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Kabbage helps small businesses grow with fast and flexible funding. Kabbage doesn’t look at your traditional credit history, but uses performance data from online sources to determine how to fund a business loan online. The evidence that Kabbage works? It’s in the data. See how small businesses use cash advances to fund their growth – buy more inventory, sell more inventory, and bring in more revenue. See how Kabbage has grown along with the SBA.

kabbage_small%20business%20infographic

Why is Australia’s retirement program better than Our’s?

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An idea to fix Social Security – a look at Australia’s retirement savings system considered to be one of the best in the world

retirement in australia

Sounds like a new word right? Well it’s quite familiar to Aussie’s because that is the name of their Retirement Savings Program. The Superannuation Guarantee program is so successful, that it’s worth more than Australia’s gross domestic product – $1.52 trillion. In comparison, the US has almost twice that amount in retirement savings – $2.8 trillion, but we have 14x the population!

So why does Superannuation  work so well? To sum up:

–          More than 90 percent of Australian workers put money into the system

–          Beginning in 1992, the law required employers to divert 3 percent of most workers’ salaries into retirement accounts;  the level has risen over time as the public has gotten used to the idea

–          Withdrawals by people 60 and older are tax-free

Why else is this good for Australia?

According to Susan Thorp, a finance professor at the University of Technology Sydney – “If you have people making regular contributions from their wages, there’s always this steady stream of inflows into the capital markets. It’s money that comes into the market to purchase securities regardless of conditions. That has helped stabilize the Australian economy, which avoided a recession during the global financial crisis.”

Okay, enough about Australia, why don’t Americans have that much money saved for retirement?

–          Only 40% of Americans who worked in 2012 participated in an employer’s retirement plan

–          Americans have a bad habit of liquidating their accounts when they change jobs instead of rolling them over

social security

Instead of trying to fix our system, why not implement Superannuation? In fact, Superannuation was recently endorsed by Larry Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock, in a lecture to business school students at New York University recently. “Superannuation has been a huge success in supplementing the government pension scheme and taking the strain off it – an attractive prospect as we think about how to relieve the burden on Social Security in this country,” he said.

Original article “Retirement Saving Done Right” by Nick Summers, June 3, 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek.

5 ways to Lower the Cost of a College Education

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I am in close sympathy with anyone who is in debt due to college loans. Those of us who did not have the fortune to win a scholarship or have their parents help out, face a burden that will continue to last years. When it comes to the subject of the high cost of tuition, my position is clear, tuition rates need to come down.

Some quick facts:

  • Total student debt rose from $363 billion in 2005 to $902 billion in 2012
  • The number of Americans with student debt rose from 23 million in 2005 to 37 million in 2012

Here are five wonderful ideas presented by Ronald Trowbridge, Senior Fellow at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C., on how we can cut down the cost of higher education.

  1. Enable Dual Enrollment – Look at how Virginia saves some students $40,000 a year. Virginia codifies programs for qualified students to be simultaneously accepted by a community college and a four year public institution of higher education and, upon successful completion of an associate degree from the community college, to be automatically enrolled in the four-year institution.
  2. Establish a three-year Bachelor’s degree – Graduation rates, speed and costs would be monumentally improved under a three-year plan. In addition, a three year bachelor degree plan would improve facility utilization. A private business uses most of its space 50 hours a week, 52 weeks a year – well over 2,000 hours. A campus uses most of its space 25 hours a week, 32 weeks a year – some 800 hours. A three-year bachelor program would facilitate use of empty classrooms, especially in the summer.
  3. Eliminate Excessive Academic Research – The present system allows virtually an anarchistic, anything-goes approach to research. Higher education institutions should themselves establish an internal-screening process to approve or reject research proposals when release time from classroom teaching is also requested.
  4. Increase Teaching Loads – It is now commonplace for many professors to teach only two classes per semester, with few students. Such limited teaching and small class size come at great expense to students and taxpayers. (My two cents, Professors who only teach 2 or 3 classes a semester, and do not hold another job or career, are just plain lazy).
  5. Move more Classes Online – Online learning will become to education what the forward pass was to football. MIT, for example, has implemented an online program free of charge, and for a small fee, it will award a certificate of compliance. The first course, Circuits and Electronics, drew 120,000 registrants in the first month.Recently, 605 students at six public universities in New York and Maryland were studied on the value of online versus face-to-face instruction. Half of the students met in the classroom three times a week; the other half, once a week. The study’s authors found that “students in the online course did just as well as those who took the conventional course.” More significant, hybrid courses could cost half what conventional classes do because fewer teachers are needed.

Special thanks to Ronald Trowbridge and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity for sharing these ideas. Original article, “Texas can cut down on cost of higher education”, featured in the Houston Chronicle, Aug. 12, 2012.