Practical Approach to In-Store Credit Card Offers

How to Take a Practical Approach to In-Store Credit Card Offers During the Holidays

We hear it almost anytime we purchase an item at a store that offers an in-store credit card, “Would you like to apply for our store credit card?” Most major retailers such as Home Depot, Target, and Kohl’s offer a credit card that can only be used in that particular store. During the holidays, it might seem like a good idea to get that additional 20% off for opening up a store credit card. Experts say that consumers should definitely be cautious during the holiday season, as the idea of getting a store credit card might be enticing. You can buy all your gifts at one location, and not have to spend any money up front. Here are some tips to stay practical with credit cards during the holiday season.

Create a holiday budget

Not only do we have to spend money on gifts throughout the holiday season, but consumers must purchase food and decorations as well. All of this adds up, and a budget can be really helpful in spending conservatively during the holiday months. Create a budget for how much you would like to spend in total, for all gifts you must purchase. It might be easier to first create a list of who you need to purchase presents for, and determine how much can be spent on each person. Also be sure to budget for holiday food supplies. Are you hosting a holiday and need to supply food for a large number of people? Or are you attending another location where you only have to bring one or two food items? The earlier you know your holiday plans, the better you can prepare a budget for the cost of food. Every year stores come out with new decorations, which you might be tempted to buy. If you know that you spend money every year on a couple of new items, go ahead and budget for how much you can allow yourself to spend this year. Always remember that after holiday decoration sales provide consumers with the best savings!

Now is a store credit card worth it?

After creating a holiday budget, you can better determine if an in-store credit card is right for you. If you slacked in the holiday savings department, and need extra money for the holiday season, an in-store credit card might be a great option. You can also explore layaway options, which allow you to pay for items throughout an extended period of time. Financial experts warn consumers of high interest rates, especially for in-store credit cards – just like taking on title loans or personal loans. If you must apply for an in-store credit card during the holiday season, make sure it is for a store that has a variety of items. Target is a great place for an in-store credit card because they have items you might need for gifts, decorations, and food. Try not to max out an in-store credit card, and look for holiday savings deals for that particular store.

It can definitely be hard to stay practical when it comes to money during the holiday season. Sometimes we rush and wait until the last minute, and by that time it might be too late. Always make sure you are using your best personal finance judgement when it comes to applying for a credit card, even during the holiday season!

World’s Richest Countries in 2050

Predicting the future is complicated process, particularly when it involves assessing the future economies of the world. It requires a systematic and comprehensive analysis of different critical economic variables and infrastructures. Some of the factors taken into consideration in predicting future per capita income and GDPs of different countries include rule of law, fertility rates, democratic institutions and education systems.

After carefully analyzing the economies of 100 countries, HSBC eventually came up with a list of countries whose economies are predicted to be among the most advanced in 2050. Of course the list is largely made up of countries whose economies are already flourishing. There are however, a couple of startling revelations- the Philippines, for instance, is predicted to grow at a considerably rate that it will jump from the 43rd biggest economy to the 16th by the year 2050.

To give you a better idea of the whole issue, here are 4 of the richest countries in 2050:

  1. China $25.33 trillion

The current world’s most populous nation is expected to be the richest country in 2050. Its persistent push to modernize its economy, and the absorption of Macao and Hong Kong into its overall economic system will predictably propel its economy to the top spot in the next couple of decades.

China’s Achilles heel is the one child policy, which will significantly reduce the overall working population by 2050. By that time, it’s expected to be the second most populous country.

  1. United States- $22.27 Trillion

The United States, which currently holds the top spot as the world’s biggest economy, will remain in that position for a couple of decades until it’s ultimately overtaken by China. At the moment, it’s economy is twice as big as the next richest country- Japan. Over time however, due to a sluggish income per capita growth, the top spot will be relinquished to Asian countries. As a matter of fact, the United States, along with Norway and Luxembourg are the developed countries which are expected to experience the slowest income per capita growth.

  1. India- $8.7 Trillion

By the time we get to 2050, India will be a clear demonstration of how increased population growth positively impacts the economy. Unless they introduce stringent family planning laws, India’s population will progressively increase and eventually even surpass China- which has already imposed childbirth control laws. With such a high population, the country’s workforce will propel its economy past other huge economies including Germany, Britain and Russia.

  1. Japan- $6.43 Trillion

Even with the current challenges Japan experiences with a reduced fertility rate of 1.3 children per person, and an increasingly aging population- the country is expected to still be among the world’s most elite economies by 2050. It will however, drop two places from position 2 to 4- mainly due to a predicted population drop of 25 million. Fortunately for them, they are implementing effectual strategies to cater to the aging society and deal with a shrinking workforce.

Other countries that made the list of the top richest economies by 2050 include: Russia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and a host of other European countries.

Thousands Using Russell Simmons’s Rushcard Penniless More Than a Week

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of Run DMC founded RushCard, a cash advance card that lets people get their paycheck two days early. RushCard takes a customer’s paycheck, charges them a fee and pays them two days in advance of their paycheck.

Thousands of people woke up to discover that their RushCard accounts were frozen, leaving them without access to their money. Many were without their money more than one week later. The company issued an explanation on their website that they were trying to get the system back up after a technical malfunction while it transitioned to its new payment system with MasterCard.

Users of the service are often financially vulnerable, living from paycheck to paycheck. They rely on this type of service to get them through the week. According to users, people are locked out of their accounts, missing money and can’t get through to anyone at RushCard’s customer service hotline for an explanation.

Reviews started pouring into the Consumer Affairs website with complaints and frustration that they couldn’t feed their children or their gas and electricity were cut off.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has decided to investigate RushCard and issued the following statement on their Facebook page:

“It is outrageous that consumers have not had access to their money for more than a week. We are looking into this very troubling issue. Consumers increasingly are relying on prepaid products to keep their funds, make purchases, and manage their money. Customers who are still affected by this situation should consider stopping their direct deposit, so that they can get their next paycheck by check or have it deposited in another account. Consumers can also ask anyone who has charged them a late fee on a payment affected by this delay to waive that fee. More generally, all consumers using prepaid cards should watch the transactions on their accounts, and report any problem promptly to the prepaid card issuer. The Bureau accepts consumer complaints at or by phone toll-free at 855-411-2372.”

In the meantime, Simmons has been tweeting RushCard customers assuring them he will fix it:

Russell Simmons

@UncleRUSH

Still working through all @RushCard issues. Will not stop until every account is working properly.

And just as the end of the month approaches and millions of subscribers need access to their money to pay rent and other bills, Simmons has announced that he’s creating a “multi-million dollar” fund to compensate customers who were locked out of their accounts by the technical issues the company underwent.

Simmons spoke with the Associated Press (AP) and assured them that he and RushCard will make sure that every customer facing financial hardship from RushCard’s technical problems receives the help they need.  “This whole situation has been devastating for them, and we want to make sure they are made whole,” he said.

He also told AP that the the multi-million dollar fund set up to help the affected customers comes from his own pocket.

 

Fostering Economic Diversity Before College

After the New York Times released its ranking of top colleges based on efforts to promote economic diversity, the country began to talk in volumes about why economic diversity is still important, and why colleges should be looking toward it. Universities are absolutely a tool for creating class mobility, but the idea of economic diversity in schools should start before students reach the arguably already privileged halls of a college campus.

Louisville, KY figured that out a long time ago, and their income-based integration system serves as a model for what promoting economic diversity starting from the beginning can do.

The Louisville Example

Louisville’s system started as a desegregation effort, and remains such to this day. The city adopted a bold measure that busses urban and suburban students across the lengths of Jefferson County, KY to balance out the racial and economic compositions of the local schools. Though the area contains census tracts wherein more than half the population lives in poverty, the city isn’t struggling to support underperforming inner-city schools.

Met initially with vocal protest, the Louisville system eventually won residents over as fears regarding confrontation with different races and economic classes failed to be realized, and today it largely embraced and fought for, even with some of its inconveniences.

What’s truly astounding about the desegregation efforts, though, isn’t the distribution of the school children, themselves, it’s what they get from being in integrated schools. Multiple languages are a common occurrence in Louisville classrooms, and in 2011 more than half of the District’s fourth grade students scored at or above a proficient level in math. It’s well documented that as poverty levels in school increase, students’ academic performance decreases. The Louisville model helps prevent that by design.

It’s not a perfect model, and even in the modern age it’s been met with some resistance, even at the governmental level. The facts support, though, that a socioeconomically integrated primary school system creates adventitious learning environments for students that would otherwise be segregated based on economic class structure.

Why Starting Early Matters

So why is it so important to start addressing economic diversity in schools early on? Because low-income students that have the opportunity to attend schools that aren’t inherently low income are statistically more likely to be ahead of their peers stuck in economically segregated schools.

Dr. Myron Orfield published an astounding comparison between Detroit and Louisville, two cities of similar size and composition with the former fighting against desegregation and the latter pushing for it. It really comes down to this, though.

Without an effort to address the matter early on, schools will inherently realign themselves based on class lines. This, in many cases, prevents those students who might benefit from greater economic diversity in college from even getting to college, as they were never provided with the resources or educational training to get them there.

So yes, economic diversity in colleges is important, but that’s also putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Economic diversity in universities will take hold much better if it’s addressed before the students ever have to start applying for college. Create opportunity in the form of diversity early on, and it won’t have to be a matter for debate later down the road.

Is the Uber Economy the Solution for Job and Financial Security?

A recent article in the New York Times points to the growth of businesses like Uber that act as the intermediary of services between the provider and the customer. The “New Gig Economy” as the New York Times call it, is nothing more than the independent contractor or freelancer of decades past—with a tech twist.

 

One in three workers, or 53 million Americans, are now freelancing according to the comprehensive survey “Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce.” This number is expected to increase to half of the workforce by the year 2020.

 

Technology today makes it possible for workers to shift from the traditional office workplace to remote locations, offering a flexibility unheard of 20 years ago.

 

Freelancing is a great solution for workers in search of control over their schedules or how much income they want to earn, but will this “New Gig Economy” offer Americans the job and financial security they search for?

 

As with all questions addressing the entire population, the answer is, it depends. Freelancers are a special breed requiring strong skills to compete in a virtual world, discipline to get the work done without any supervision and the marketing and networking skills necessary to promote and market themselves to make freelancing successful.

 

Historically, industries like the hospitality industry that have shifted from traditional employer-employee relationships to franchise-based business with outsourced staffing have not fared well. According to the Times “Gig Economy” article, the hospitality industry has suffered an increase in labor law violations with a decrease in wages in the last 15 years.

 

If there is a lesson from the hospitality industry, it’s that freelancing is not the ideal solution for all but is perfect for talent willing to sell themselves as a valuable commodity.

 

As the freelancing economy grows, businesses will adapt. For companies, workers will move from one of the company’s largest fixed costs to a variable cost that companies can adjust up and down as needed.

 

This may provide job growth but comes with many pitfalls. Once talent shifts from a fixed cost that must be planned for, to a variable cost, talent will have trouble finding job security as employers adjust their employee levels.

 

And while freelancers may find a per-project payment deal better compensation than a negotiated, hourly wage, there are several costs a freelancer has to absorb, which were once the expense of the company.

 

One of the biggest costs for a freelancer is the self-employment tax rate of 15 percent that covers unemployment and Medicare. Other expenses include income taxes, health insurance, retirement, home office expenses, business taxes, insurances and more. Freelancers used to earning $20 per hour in a traditional workplace as an employee would have to earn double that to cover their increased expenses, since the liability has passed from the employer to the independent contractor.

 

The most successful freelancers will work for several employers and diversify to absorb any changes in income. Maintaining and building multiple work relationships is almost a full-time job in itself.

 

But for those interested in working in the new gig economy, the rewards are great. Freelancers build their own niche based on their interests and talents, set their own hours and location, decide on how much they want to work and with proper planning, take control of their finances and future.