Category : Personal Finance & Investing

(WSJ) After Irma, Many Mobile Homeowners May Face Tough Choice–rebuild or walk away

Some of the homes hardest hit by Hurricane Irma in Florida are also the least likely to be insured.

Florida has more mobile and manufactured homes than any other state. These homes, which are built in factories rather than directly onto a lot, often house low-income residents and seniors seeking cheaper housing for their retirement.

The homes are also less likely to be insured than many other types of homes, with the Florida Manufactured Housing Association estimating as many as 50% of the homes may lack insurance.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Personal Finance & Investing

(WSJ) In America Men, young adults and rural residents increasingly say college isn’t worth the cost

Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.

The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines. They also carry political implications for universities, already under public pressure to rein in their costs and adjust curricula after decades of sharp tuition increases.

Overall, a slim plurality of Americans, 49%, believes earning a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings, compared with 47% who don’t, according to the poll of 1,200 people taken Aug. 5-9. That two-point margin narrowed from 13 points when the same question was asked four years earlier.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Personal Finance & Investing, Rural/Town Life, Young Adults

(Bloomberg) American weddings are getting rarer and smaller—but not cheaper

You’re not the only one spending fewer summer weekends watching other people get married—but don’t worry, the weddings you’re still invited to might feel a little more special these days.

Fewer Americans are getting married, and the ones who still are have scaled back their weddings. Their nuptials are becoming smaller, though not necessarily cheaper, affairs.

Many couples are waiting longer and longer to schedule their weddings. In 2015, the median first-time American bride was almost 28 years old and the median groom almost 30, according to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau. (Ten years earlier, the typical bride was 25.5, the typical groom 27.)

The U.S. marriage rate—the number of new marriages per 1,000 people—has been falling for decades. It fell especially fast during the recession, in 2008 and 2009, but there’s little evidence that people started getting married again even as the economy recovered. And research firm IbisWorld predicts the marriage rate will keep falling over the next five years.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Sociology

(CT) DL Mayfield–How Government Support Saved Me; Signing up for food stamps changed my view of poverty in America

Just a few months ago, my family stopped qualifying for government cheese.

It came as a little bit of a surprise to me—I had, after all, been a part of the WIC (women, infants, and children) program for almost seven years, starting with my first child. My daughter was born two months early due to life-threatening complications and I was never able to breastfeed. WIC supplied the formula, an expense that would have been a huge blow to our family’s finances. As my husband and I took turns getting our graduate degrees, WIC provided us with milk, cheese, eggs, and a few other essentials, and when we were support-raising missionaries living in immigrant and refugee neighborhoods for three years, we used our WIC vouchers along with all of our neighbors.

Two years ago when my second child was born, I wasn’t able to work, and while moving across the country, our only car broke down. By the time we finally found an apartment to live in and a job for my husband, we didn’t even have enough money to buy curtains for our windows. We applied for food stamps, or SNAP, along with WIC, and I don’t know what we would have done without it for those few months. I felt sweet relief being able to go to the grocery store, swipe my card, and purchase food for my family. Each time, I was incredibly grateful for my country.

In light of where my family is now, it’s important for me to take a moment and remember those feelings—both the stress of not having money to buy essentials and the gratitude for any small breaks.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty, Religion & Culture

Irenic Thoughts: Synonymous with Anonymous

Chuck Feeney became a billionaire in the duty free shop business. Then he gave away $600 million anonymously. As the Daily News wrote of the reclusive philanthropist,

Chuck Feeney is what Donald Trump would be if he lived his entire existence backward.

.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Personal Finance & Investing

A market edge for Muslims

The strategy is almost heresy on Wall Street: Find a top-performing investment by seeking out a mutual fund with some of the industry’s strictest ethical screening requirements.

Yet that approach, if adopted, would work in at least one case. The Amana Income Fund, which avoids not only alcohol, tobacco, and gambling stocks but also pork producers and lenders who charge interest, received a Lipper award earlier this year for outperforming 180 equity income funds ”“ screened and unscreened ”“ over the past three years.

Amana Funds dominate the relatively small niche of socially responsible investing (SRI) that aims to reflect Islamic law, or sharia. The idea is for an entire portfolio to reflect moral values from the Koran, which deems pork products unclean and regards the charging and paying of interest as immoral endeavors that foster exploitative relationships.

“If Islam forbids it, then we’re not going to buy it,” says Monem Salam, deputy portfolio manager at Amana Funds. That principle generally “keeps us out of trouble,” he says, by requiring the funds to avoid such ticking time bombs as Enron and WorldCom, which imploded in accounting scandals a few years back. Both were too heavily leveraged to pass muster at Amana.

In theory, Islamic funds face an uphill battle since about half of the stock market universe ”“ including most financial services companies ”“ is off limits to them. But in practice, Islamic funds fulfill their moral ideals in considerable measure by mimicking some revered habits of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

For instance, because excessive stock trading amounts to gambling in the eyes of Islamic authorities, Islamic funds practice a buy-and-hold strategy that helps keep trading costs down. Also, concern about the ethics of borrowing and lending leads Islamic fund managers to avoid deeply indebted companies, such as several big-name airlines, which tend to stumble in recessions and in times of slow economic growth. Both practices are quintessential Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Neb.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Personal Finance & Investing

Cause for Concern?

From here:

A report today from Portales Partners on brokerage margin debt, which at $318 billion is 14% above its highest level reached in March 2000 — the year the dot.com bubble burst.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Personal Finance & Investing