Keeping track of personal finances used to involve opening a spreadsheet to manually enter and categorize every transaction throughout the month. Thankfully, our smartphones have made it much easier to track expenses and save money. In addition, now it is possible to monitor your accounts for signs of identity theft directly from your phone. Here are five mobile finance apps that we recommend for keeping tabs on your accounts, as well as your credit.
In my last post, I discussed the importance of learning a new skill in order to keep our minds sharp as we age. Thankfully, the internet has made it much easier to do so, with an abundance of resources available to anyone with a desire to learn. In this post, I highlight five of the best free resources you can use to become a lifelong learner.
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to keep our minds sharp, so as to prevent cognitive decline. Not only does an active mind help protect against the risk of Alzheimer’s, it also leads to better physical and emotional well-being. While basic health habits such as staying physically active, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and eating a balanced diet have been shown to help in preventing memory loss, the results of a recent study show that learning a challenging new skill may also play an important role in enhancing cognitive function in older adults.
A key ratio relating to the jobs market recently hit record highs, which is positive for the employment outlook going forward. The ratio of job openings to hires in the private sector rose above 1.0 for the first time ever in April. This means there were more vacancies than there were hires during the month.
Friday's jobs report showed continued strength in the labor market. Payrolls increased by 252,000 in December, and the prior two months were revised up by a combined 50,000. This increased the 12-month average of gains to 246,000, the strongest reading since June 2000. In addition, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent from 5.8 percent in November.
Yesterday, the Federal Reserve pledged to remain "patient" before raising interest rates, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its biggest one-day gain so far in 2014. While Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen continued to stress that the decision is "completely data-dependent," the general consensus among policymakers and market participants is that we will see the first rate hike sometime in 2015. Two of the primary determinants in the Fed's decision are currently at odds.
Friday's jobs report contained the usual amount of mixed signals, but overall demonstrated underlying strength. As for the positives:
In my post on the jobs report last week, I stated that we would have liked to have seen more evidence of wage growth. Today, I would like to spotlight a recent article in The Wall Street Journal that finds while wage gains have yet to pick up on a national level, they have begun to accelerate across key industrial states.
Friday's jobs report indicated continued improvement in the labor market, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.9 percent, a six-year low. Payrolls increased by 248,000 in September, above earlier forecasts of 215,000. In addition, the change in August's payrolls was revised upward by 38,000. With Friday's report, 2014 is on track to be the best year for total job growth since 1999, which is no doubt an impressive statistic. Despite these positives, there were also a few sore spots. The participation rate decreased 0.1 point to 62.7 percent, caused by an increase in the number of people not in the labor force, and the year-over-year growth rate in average hourly earnings fell 0.1 percent to 2 percent. In other words, while there continues to be strong gains in employment, wage growth continues to remain subdued.
Today I want to highlight a recent article concerning dividend-paying stocks -- a topic that has received growing interest over the last several years. As evidence, consider that assets in the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY) have grown almost tenfold since January 2010, while assets in the broader S&P 500 ETF (SPY) have only grown by a factor of 2.6. There are a few reasons for this: