Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.

Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Credit utilization ratio - a significant factor in your credit score Most consumers who keep a close eye on their credit score know exactly what a credit utilization ratio is; it's the percentage of your total credit limits that you actually use. A balance of $1000, with a $5000 total credit limit on all revolving accounts, equals a 20% credit utilization ratio. A low credit utilization ratio is good for your credit score; it's recommended to...
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Inflation Picks Up the Pace

Inflation rates in the U.S. have risen faster than economists have predicted. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose at a rate of 5.6 percent for the twelve-month period through July of 2008. This is the fastest leap in consumer prices since 1991. Producer prices have escalated by 9.8 percent, the most since 1981. A nearly 30 percent increase in...
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Paying for Online Purchases

Many consumers have grown to enjoy the convenience of shopping online. You can easily compare products and prices from many retailers within a short amount of time. The shipping charges are usually well worth saving the time in traffic and gas money spent shopping the old-fashioned way. Purchasing goods online is the answer to many of our shopping nightmares. Now the question is, "What's the best way to pay for online shopping?" Let's review some of...
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Credit Unions

Better banking may mean not using a bank. Choosing a financial institution, for many, simply means going to the bank their parents do business with, picking one that's close to home or work, or giving in to advertised freebies meant to entice them to open an account. But before settling for a commercial bank, consider checking out your local credit union. Credit unions, just like banks, offer a wide variety of financial services such as checking,...
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Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

CDs are a low-risk investment that offers a slightly better return on your deposit than a traditional savings account. CDs are protected from loss, up to $100,000, as long as the issuing financial institution is a bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), or a credit union insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Brokerage houses may offer CDs, and these are also FDIC-insured if the issuing bank is FDIC-insured. The return you'll...
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Paying Bills Online

Paying bills online is great; it saves time and money. You don't have to buy stamps and checks, and it takes less time to set up online payments than it does to write and mail checks every month. You can make online payments to your mortgage company, your utility companies, your credit accounts, and even to individuals, such as your landlord or your children's nanny. When you pay bills online, you have a few options in...
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Surviving an Economic Downturn

The unemployment rate is on the rise, the stock market has been giving investors a scary ride, the American homeowners' biggest asset has been devalued, inflation is pushing up the price of everything, and we still have a family to feed... It's easy to get careless about finances when times are good and credit is easy, but the recent problems in the U.S. have forced many of us to take a harder look at how we're...
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Unemployment Rate Hits Four-Year High

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent for July, the highest it's been in four years. Non-farm payroll employment continues to trend down, at a loss of 51,000 jobs. Employment continues to fall for occupations in construction, manufacturing, and certain service-providing industries, while mining and health care jobs are being added. The number of unemployed persons has risen by 1.6 million over the last twelve months; currently 8.8 million...
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Federal Deficit Reaches Record High

The White House expects a record-breaking federal deficit. The federal budget deficit for fiscal 2009 is estimated to top a record-high of $482 billion, according to a Bush administration report released on Monday. The last highest deficit record was set in 2004, in the amount of $413 billion. Earlier deficit projections for 2009, released in February, were estimated to be $407 billion. White House officials say that the Economic Stimulus Package is partly to blame for...
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Minimum Wage Increase

The new federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour goes into effect today, which amounts to a $.70 pay raise for the roughly two million American workers who must make ends meet on minimum wage. This increase is the second in a three-year plan to increase the federal minimum wage; minimum wage workers can expect another $.70 wage increase next summer, to bring to federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. If the state and federal...
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