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Oct 82013

The Constitution Wants Obama and Democrats to Negotiate

By |October 8th, 2013|Blog, Economics / Politics|39 Comments

Here’s my hot sports (politics) opinion: Barack Obama is being absolutely ridiculous by refusing to negotiate with Republicans on the government shutdown (and soon the debt ceiling as well).

As most of you know, I’m a libertarian and I strongly dislike the policies of almost every president and congressmen that has been elected in my lifetime. I don’t pick sides between Republicans and Democrats because I think both parties support terrible policies.

obama

photo credit: jamesomalley

I’m not going to get into the specific policy disagreements (aspects of Obamacare) that are preventing the two sides from coming to an agreement. I want to address how the president of the United States refuses to engage in political negotiations to end the government shutdown. A lot of websites give slanted views on things, so I like to link you directly to the source. Here is Obama talking about the negotiations.

My summary is this: Obama and Democrats are willing to negotiate only after the budget is passed and the debt ceiling is raised.

So basically, Democrats are only willing to negotiate after Republicans have nothing to negotiate with.

Let’s talk about history for a moment. Government shutdowns are not new. In fact, the government shut down many times when Ronald Reagan was president and the speaker of the house was a Democrat. In each of those shutdowns, Reagan and the Democrats engaged in good faith negotiations and came to a deal everyone agreed on.

Someone might say, “Just because this has happened before doesn’t mean it’s right.” I would refer these people to the United States Constitution as opposed to some commentary by Chris Matthews or Sean Hannity.

This Debate Was Planned over 200 Years Ago

Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution states, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law”.

As you can see, the law of the land gives Congress (the branch that makes the laws) the explicit power over deciding how the federal government spends money. This is NOT the power of the president, the supreme court, or commentators on MSNBC or Fox News.

A government shutdown is not some unintended consequence of a poorly thought out system of government; it is an important and essential part of ensuring the government represents the interests of the people.

If our founders wanted any law that was passed to be automatically funded, they could have easily placed that into the Constitution. They did not. Passing a law is one action. Passing an appropriations bill to authorize the government to pay for that law is an entirely separate action. This was all intentional.

And if current lawmakers think appropriations bills are unnecessary they can amend the Constitution. They haven’t done that yet, so they need to abide by the document that they swore an oath to uphold.

Obama and the Democrats Need to Grow Up

Our government was founded on the principle that we have a debate over which laws deserve to be funded. Congress and the president should do their jobs, negotiate in good faith, and get the job done.

Every one of the politicians in Washington took an oath to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution demands that an appropriations bill is passed, and passing any bill requires negotiation. Refusal to negotiate is refusal to do your job.

You can blame both Republicans and Democrats for eventually passing a really crappy appropriations bill that will increase our national debt by another $1 trillion or so next year. But you can blame Democrats and Barack Obama for not getting it done sooner due to their refusal to negotiate.

Readers: Who do you blame the shutdown on?

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Oct 82013

Is Selling Lottery Payments a Good Idea?

By |October 8th, 2013|General Personal Finance|Comments Off on Is Selling Lottery Payments a Good Idea?

Many people who are fortunate enough to win the lottery feel that they would rather have annual payments. They see the annual payments as a nice and safe way to receive their money. However, the annual payments might not be the best option. Dealing with debts, large debts in particular, is one of the primary reasons many people wish they had chosen the lump sum payment instead.

Do You Have Large Debts?

If you have large debts you want to pay down, and you choose an annual payment, there is a chance you will not have enough money to pay down the entire debt with the payment. Instead, you will pay part of it, and it will continue to accrue interest. This means you are paying more for these debts by the time you finally finish paying them. The interest on the debts you have could be greater than the amount you pay to convert those annual payments to a lump sum payment.

This means you could actually save money by selling those annual payments and paying off all of your debt at once. It can also relieve you of the headache of those monthly bills.

Changing Your Life

When you win the lottery, you might feel as though it will change your life for the better. This might often be the case, but when you have annual payments, they can seem rather small after all of the taxes. It might not feel like the change you had anticipated. You might not be able to afford the car you want or the house you want. Consider also the ravages of inflation. If the inflation rises, the value of your lottery payments will diminish. Even though you will receive the same amount of money, it will not be able to buy as much. This is a dismal thought, but it can happen.

Instead, it might be a better option to sell those annual payments for a lump sum payment. Companies today are willing to buy those payments and provide you with the lump sum that really could make a difference in your life and let you better the way you are living right now. This is exactly what most people want.

Should You Sell?

If you prefer the annual payments and you do not see any immediate need for the larger sum of money, then you might be fine with the way things are right now. However, most of those reading this want to have the larger sum. They need to pay debt, or they need to pay for college for their children. Any number of elements of life could crop up and create a need for a large sum of money right away.

Fortunately, it is possible to sell those payments today, but you need to make sure you are working with a reputable and high quality company. Working with a good company makes all the difference, including in the amount of money you get. All of the companies need to charge a fee for their services, and they need to make some money on the deal. You just need to choose a company that can offer you the best possible deals and the ones that can get you the money you need quickly. Working with a good third party company, rather than the lottery officials, can often offer a better deal.

Many of the companies providing this type of service today are able to offer quotes so you can see what type of deal you will receive compared with other companies. If you need your lump sum payment, start looking for a company today.

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Oct 12013

How to Save Money on Flowers For Your Wedding

By |October 1st, 2013|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|7 Comments

I’m back in the saddle talking about my wedding and how we are trying to have a great wedding without spending more than $20,000. As always, if you think $20,000 is too much to spend on a wedding then I will direct you to this post.

Wedding flowers can be down right expensive! With some smart thinking I was able to save a lot of money on my wedding flowers. Here's what I did.We’ve already covered the overall budget of $20,000 and we’ve talked about the photographer. Now let’s talk about one of the most important things to many brides, and one of the least important things to many grooms (according to a comprehensive survey including Tag and myself): flowers.

However, we are having a traditional wedding, which means Tag and her bridesmaids will have bouquets and there will be flowers in a lot of other different places too. Tag loves flowers and we aren’t going crazy with them but we will have some. We also wanted to make it happen as cheaply as possible without a DIY solution.

Reuse Flowers from the Ceremony

Florists want to make as much money as possible, so they will want you to spend as much money as possible. Don’t be surprised when they have a bunch of different flowers for the bridesmaids bouquets, ceremony flowers, and then a completely different set of flowers for the reception.

Tell your florist that you want to reuse everything from the ceremony at the reception. Bridesmaids bouquets can be transitioned into centerpieces. Decorative flowers at the church can be used somewhere else as well. The more you reuse, the cheaper it should be. Just keep in mind it is more work for your florist, so you might have a pay a little extra for reusing things.

Get “Cheap” Flowers

There are certain flowers that are cheaper than others, especially at different times of the year. I know next to nothing about flowers, but I recently learned that carnations are inexpensive. There are also seasonal flowers that are cheap at different times of the year, so ask multiple florists about what is cheap around your wedding.

If you load up your wedding with carnations and seasonal flowers then you can get a bunch of flowers at a low price, and most people will have no idea those are the “cheap” ones. And if you have people at your wedding who are looking down on you because you got inexpensive flowers at your wedding, then you might want to consider not hanging out with those people anymore.

Can You Match That Price?

This is the same advice I’ll give for every vendor you deal with, but get multiple quotes and use them against each other. When you find a vendor you like, here are a few phrases you can use to lower your costs:

“Flowers XYZ is offering my bouquets at $125 a piece instead of the $150 you are charging. Can you match that price?

“The delivery charge for Wedding Flowers Unlimited is 1/2 the cost of your delivery charge. Can you match that price?

“A Flower Company is offering me a 5% discount if I pay in full today. Can you offer the same deal?

You’d be surprised how much money we’ve saved by simply comparing one quote to another in front of the florist.

We Spent $1,263.81 on Flowers for Our Wedding

Using all of these tips combined, we spent just $1,263.81. I know that probably sounds like a lot of money to most people, but all of our initial quotes were in the $1,600-2,000 range. An average wedding spends $1,800 on flowers, so we did ours at almost a 30% discount.

Readers: Do you have any tips to help people save money on flowers for their wedding?

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Oct 12013

What Your Store is Missing to Boost Up Sales

By |October 1st, 2013|General Personal Finance|1 Comment

There are many tricks to make an online store successful. You probably already know a few of them, like using a good web design that is easy on the eyes, building up a shopping cart that works, or using social media to reach more customers.

But that’s not all there is to it, and you can still do more. The idea is not about getting more customers, but about making the ones you already have come back for more so that they will spend more money on your products.

Keep Them Informed

People love talking, and they love to talk about the things they like. If they are clients of your store, they like what you have to offer, so you should let them know everything about your product so that they can talk about it as much as they want. Build a blog for your store, and write regular posts about upcoming sales, forthcoming seasons, and special events. Give them guides and reviews of the products they can or have already bought. There are many things you can do on a store blog. If you set up an ask questions option, you will be able to tell your customers exactly what they need to know as if they were right in front of you. This kind of personalized customer service will make them stick around and spend a lot more.

Sell up to the Last Item

A shop is all about selling, and you shouldn’t feel any hesitation about it. When seasons change, or new products become available, you can find yourself with old items that are going to collect dust in your storage forever. Instead of returning them, or just counting them as a loss, if you see that a regular sale is not enough to push these items toward your customers; inventory liquidation can be a good option for you. There are whole websites that already focus on this kind of sale, but you want to keep as many benefits for yourself as possible. Having a section of your store where you set up liquidation of old or out of season items at discounts you don’t usually offer, will have your customers checking regularly, and buying things they may not otherwise because of the lower prices. You won’t be making as much profit, but you will still earn some money, and cut loses due to a lack of sales.

Have a Contest Page

You are possibly wondering what a contest has to do with selling more. Well, it’s pretty easy in fact. People love getting things for free, and they love games and contests as well. You can give them all of it, and still make a profit. That way everyone is happy. For example, you could try lottery games where every purchase gives your customer a chance to win something, or encourage them to participate in “Best Of” contests related to your product, where they submit pictures, ideas on how to use your items, recipes, and tricks. The competitive angle will make them try again and again, and buy more. At the same time, they’ll have some healthy fun, making it a win-win situation.

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Sep 292013

9 Things Businesses Need for Success

By |September 29th, 2013|General Personal Finance|Comments Off on 9 Things Businesses Need for Success

Owning a business is very different from having a job because a business owner has to know about everything. The owner may not be an expert in everything, but he or she needs a working knowledge on a variety of different topics in order to create a successful business. Here are 10 things almost all business owners must consider.

1. Web Design

It’s almost impossible to have a business today without a website. It’s a great way to generate leads, and it’s also essential when working with clients face to face. A business without a website loses credibility for a lot of consumers and other businesses.

2. Logo Design

If a business wants a website, business cards, an office, or any other type of branding they will need a logo. Some of the best logos in the world are immediately recognizable, like the Nike swoosh and McDonald’s arches. All businesses need a logo, even if it’s just the business name in an interesting font.

3. Legal Help

A business doesn’t necessarily need a lawyer, but they might need some legal help when incorporating the business with their state. Of course if a business is sued then they will seek the counsel of an attorney. Hopefully new business owners can avoid expensive legal costs, but it’s something that must be considered.

4. Social Media

If a business is selling directly to consumers, many of those consumers expects to interact with the company on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more social networks. An active social media presence provides an additional level of customer service that can give a business an edge.

5. Office Space

were open

photo credit: brianDhawkins

A one person business can work out of a home office, but if the business grows then it might require some office space. The space is expensive, and then it must be filled with furniture, computers, and more. This is a very expensive consideration to think about.

6. Office Cleaning

If a business does have office space, then that space will get dirty. Most business owners can find better use of their time than vacuuming the floors. A business owner may need to pay someone to come keep the office clean.

7. Warehouse Space

If the business is manufacturing or selling items, they will need a place to store the products or raw materials. It’s important for the business owner to find warehouse space as cheap as possible, and then hire people to work in the warehouse.

8. Accounting

Businesses make and spend money, and there are a lot of tax laws that impact business spending. In order to maximize tax benefits and avoid a costly audit in the future, most business owners opt to use an accountant.

9. Vacation Time

Finally, a business owner needs a way to take a vacation without the business failing. This is probably a combination of having good employees and being able to work remotely to address pressing concerns. Business owners work very hard, and hopefully they are able to reward themselves with a vacation every now and then.

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Sep 282013

Simplify Your Life and Exchange Currencies Online

By |September 28th, 2013|General Personal Finance|Comments Off on Simplify Your Life and Exchange Currencies Online

There are always new ways to do things, but one thing a lot of us don’t do all that often is change currencies, so we may have fallen behind in how to do this most effectively.

If you’re travelling abroad, one of the easiest ways to take your currency with you is to buy a currency card from a travel company or bank before you go. They look a lot like a normal bank card, and work like one too when it comes to paying for things. They just come pre-loaded with whatever currency you need, which is great as it makes budgeting while away really simple.

However, if you have regular bills to pay in another country – be it for the upkeep of a property that you own or to pay suppliers to your business – the best way to do this is to hold an online currency exchange account. It takes all the hassle of moving money from one currency to another and will also mean that you get access to preferential rates that the high street banks and currency exchanges simply can’t compete with.

You can arrange a HiFX money transfer within seconds once you’ve set up an account – which only takes a few minutes. HiFX is a currency exchange broker that offers the facility for its customers to move between £50 and £300,000 in daily transactions, so there’s plenty of scope there for most individual and business use. As the company only operates online it has low overheads, and passes the savings it makes over to its customers through the best exchange rates and low transfer fees.

This kind of account is ideal for those people or businesses who have regular bills to pay in another currency, but it’s also great for one-off transfers. As it costs nothing to set up an account and there’s no obligation to ever actually use it until you need to, there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t have one of these set up and ready to go.

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