Unemployment Rates

As several states are experiencing a fall in unemployment rates, the overall national average paints a bleaker picture, as it is starting to slowly rise, causing an array of social and economic problems for the ordinary citizen. There are more than 1.69 million Americans unemployed currently. This number is awful and means that more Americans are slowly being put on state aid and draining society of invaluable resources which could otherwise be spent on education or health provision. This strikes at the core of the budget for the states, which are spread very thin as it is across all the required public departments.

As the economy continues to be very shaky and with numerous major corporations going under due to mismanagement in recent years; there has seen a spike in the number of companies who are crashing on the stock market, meaning jobs have been lost and wages slashed. Couple this with the fact that the inflation rate is rising, the minimum wage is the same, and you are looking at a very bleak outcome for the financial future of America and its people. Something has to be changed now in order to reinvigorate our economy and our people.

Many people are able to enjoy comfortable lifestyles while many others are left with jobs that pay minimum wage, or barely over. Many Americans are busy working 40 hours plus a week and barely struggling to make enough to cover the bare essential bills. It is a tragedy the way the economy is functioning; with a great number of people getting richer, those who are financially struggling are continuing to struggle in a perpetual cycle of debt and poverty

The interest rates have hit all time lows, which has resulted in an enormous number of people purchasing their first homes. This has increased the number of people moving from rentals to the homeownership world. However, this has a price, owning a home is never cheap; the expenses must be paid somehow, and this is taking its toll on the already tightened purse strings of most Americans.

The biggest problems with the economy are the lack of jobs over all. There are several major companies all across the country who are being courted by cities all around for new plants and factories to be built in their area so that an abundance of jobs would be available. These plants are few and far between, leaving the rest of the citizens without a job, and trying to desperately to grapple at the few minimum wage jobs available that offer 10-20 hours a week. If more was done to encourage big business to provide work domestically, this would at least work some way towards improving the lives of many Americans.

How to overcome these problems is something that many politicians are faced with the task of on an almost daily basis. The residents of their areas are forced to seek guidance and attempt to make changes for the better in order to improve the quality of life for everyone. People are always seeking ways to improve and better the economy, yet one of the biggest economic flaws is the national minimum wage staying the same for so many years, while the inflation rate has steadily risen.

The issues of new jobs, better benefits, higher pay, and more hours are always brought up in almost every state at political executive meets. Some states are in a very fortunate position where they are not forced to worry about the unemployment rates, they have managed to find a recipe for success and have lowered the unemployment rates to cater for the needs of their populous. If the nation as a whole can lower the rates, we will be moving towards some much-needed economic improvement, and the knock-on social benefits this brings through reduced crime and improving quality of life for the citizens of America all round.

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Secrets of keeping to the family budget

The high cost of living in today’s society, wherever you may be, has made budgeting a priority among families. In today’s inflationary world, nothing is more important than knowing how to wisely spend the meager income that you get.

Financial problems usually arise due to lack of proper budgeting skills, or failure to keep to the proposed budget. No matter how much income you may have, it is still important to keep track of your assets and liabilities, your earnings and expenses.

It is ironic but a person who earns thousands will have the same problems with the person who earns by the hundreds. Most often, different kinds of people, with diverse income levels, have budgeting problems. Others who may have been successful in making a budget, usually fail to keep within such a budget.

A budget refers to a financial plan, taking the incoming and outgoing monetary resources into consideration. A good budget should not only mean a balance or equity between income and expenditures. It also means lesser expenses, and making an allowance for savings.

If you earn a thousand dollars per month, you should map out all the necessary expenses you will have to incur during the month such as payment for your house, food and transportation. Of course, this is presuming that your tax liabilities have already been settled. What remains after you deduct your total expenses from your income is your savings.

What you do with your savings will make a difference later on, when the need arises. You can choose to keep your savings in a piggy bank or place it in a bank where there is minimum interest rate but at least your money is safe from you and from intruders. With a bigger savings, you can get the services of a financial adviser who can give you higher-yielding investment options

Here are tips to make sure that you keep within the family budget:

1. Maintain a logbook where you can list your income and expense account on a weekly or monthly schedule.

2. Buy your groceries at one time. To do this, make a list of all the things that you would need for your target period and purchase them at one time. Sometimes, there are discounts if you buy by the dozen so take advantage of this.

3. Avoid going to the supermarket and shops if you do not need to buy necessary items. This will keep you from making unnecessary purchases and keep you from straying away from your budget.

4. Think twice before you buy something. By doing this, you will realize that it is not really a necessity but a whim.

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“How to Save Money for Tuition Fees”

As soon as their child is born, parents can start saving up for their children’s college education.

With tuition fees climbing up yearly, it is better to have a sound financial plan so that it would not be difficult for you to send your kids off to college when they grow up.

Aside from the cash that you have saved yourself, here are the top 3 sources that can help you get your kids through college:

1. Scholarship grants
2. Part-time jobs
3. Financial aids

These are good alternative sources for your children to start off on their college education.

But as a parent, you would not want to fall in those long lines for financial aid or let your child work himself to death just to have money for tuition and other expenses.

Here are some ways on how you can have a jump start at shaving off those hard-earned bucks for your child’s college education:

1. The earlier, the better.

Start investing your money as soon as your child is born.

First, put the savings or investments under your name.

Later on, decide whether you want to transfer the account to your child’s name by the time he or she turns 15. This way, you will have minimal taxes, if at all.

However, you need to be careful when transferring account names.

Some states require a total turnover of funds once your child turns 18 or 21. This is also ineffective if, in the future, you apply for financial aid.

Also remember that tuition fees 10 or 15 years from now may double or even triple the current rates.

2. Establish a trust fund for your child.

This is a very wise plan for a child’s parents or relatives to invest in.

A trust fund is similar to a time-deposit where the money will be given to your child after a certain number of years.

After the designated time, the fund may be received in one lump sum or through an installment basis.

When building up a trust fund, check out details like the interest rates, taxes and withdrawal restrictions.

All in all, you need to approximate the costs of tuition fees, dorm room, meals, books, and other expenses that may come up.

Make sure that you invest money wisely as your child grows.

By the time that there are only two or three years to go before you send your son or daughter off to college, “lock” an ample amount of the funds by investing them in low-risk bonds to ensure that you will get to have enough for them to start their college education.

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The Trust Mechanism

In legal terms, there is no mechanism quite as flexible and valuable as the trust. Usually an imperative asset in the tax-planner’s tool box, the trust mechanism is a legal fiction that is present in the majority of jurisdictions across the world. It is in effective a tripartite relationship between a truster, a trustee and a beneficiary, although these names vary across jurisdictions. The truster is the party transferring property, which then becomes property of the trust as an entity and hence is administered by the trustee, usually an accountant or investment banker, for the benefit of the beneficiary. Usually, they are used for charitable purposes, or indeed as a way to minimise potential liability and alienate assets to avoid creditor seizure. Unusually, the trust structure is relatively vague, and in many jurisdictions little more than a written deed is required to constitute a trust. In this article we will look at why a trust should have a more formal establishment criteria, and why it is as effective as it is as an invaluable legal instrument.

Trusts can be used, and are used widely in practice, to alienate assets. For example, if you are a wealthy businessmen, it may be wise to place your house in trust for the benefit of your wife, ultimately alienating it from your direct ownership whilst retaining the benefit. Alternatively, it can be a good way to escape the tax liability net on death, given that the deceased can order his wealth to immediately revert to trust for benefit of his offspring rather than subjecting it to tax, or alternatively, he can set up a trust during his lifetime (i.e. inter vivos) to give away certain of his assets before death. As you can see, the trust can be used for any number of purposes, and is particularly useful for the businessmen facing insolvency to retain his assets.

Unfortunately, most systems have relatively weak trust establishment procedures. The trust, as an entity is not considered a person in law as a company is, but rather it is granted quasi-personality, which has made it difficult for courts to rule for or against certain actions. For example, can the trust own property in its own right, or is it merely vested in the trustees for the benefit of the beneficiary? Indeed can a trust be sued, or can a trust sue, or is this again a mere action open to the trustees to pursue? It is suggested that perhaps establishing a more regulatory natured framework would benefit the set up of trusts at an international level to ensure fair play to creditors and to avoid potential cheats in bankruptcy. Additionally, it would certainly add more weight to the legal standing of the trust as an entity, which could be beneficial in litigation and related matters, and would certainly work to harmonise the legal structure of a trust with other bodies corporate.

In donating to a trust, it is vital that one considers the implications of gratuitous alienation in tax liability and bankruptcy. For this reason, it is always best to leave a foreseeable period of 10 years before likely death/bankruptcy to ensure the transaction is not disqualified. Of course, this varies between jurisdictions, and it would most certainly be advisable to consult a local legal specialist before embarking on such conduct. However, as a rule of thumb, it should be safe with a decade between the alienation and the relevant date of asset consideration.

Trust law is a particularly interesting branch of legal study, and it is one which is plagued with riddles and anomalies, despite its evolution over hundreds of years. Funnily enough, however, it is an ongoing successful model, and is used in almost all jurisdictions around the world for charitable public and personal purposes alike in boycotting personal insolvency, raising finances and saving on taxes in a number of business transactions.

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Tips on how to Save Effectively in Banks

Many of us think that putting our money in the bank is a secure and wise way of saving. Yes, this is true if we are wise in dealing with banks. Banks are not charitable institutions, these are profit-driven entities which charge different kinds of fees and do all sorts of schemes to take away some of your money. The savings that you can get in being wise in making bank transactions can add up after some time and let you use your money where you want to.

Here are some tips on how to effectively save money in the bank:

Mind the Opportunity Cost

Think about the factors that are affecting your money in the bank. Are there fees that the bank is asking you to pay for keeping and using your own money? How much? Are they requiring a minimum balance for holding an account? You might be interested in other alternatives that are available out there, waiting for your investment. You should always factor in the opportunities that you are deprived of because you are putting your money in the bank. You might also be interested in taking a look into the terms of other banks. Probably the bank that can best suit your needs is out there waiting for you.

Book Balancing

Always bear in mind to have your checkbooks balanced at the end of every month. Issuing bounced checks can cost you a lot. The average fee for issuing checks with insufficient funds is $20. If you are not aware of the problem, you can easily issue several bounced checks in a certain period of time and this is very costly indeed.

Tame the ATM Machines

The best practice in using ATM machines is to avoid using ATM machines of other banks. This way, you will save on ATM fees. However, it wouldn’t hurt if you also knew the ATM machines of other banks which do not charge fees.

E-banking

With the advent of globalization, everything is becoming electronic. This is also true in the banking world and technology is quickly becoming a benchmark of competition. E-banking can save you some money from transportation costs and more importantly, it will save you time. The time you spend waiting at the bank can be used for some other productive activities.

Truly, putting your money in the bank is a wise way of saving money, but only if you are wise enough to prevent the bank from chipping away your wealth. In saving, it is not only the benefits such as annual returns which you should consider, you should always think about the costs involved in the process.

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The Philosophy of Law

When we think of law, and what law means to us as a society, we all have a good idea, or rather an innate sense, of what law is and the kind of things to expect. But trying to put an accurate definition on what law is is somewhat more of a difficult task. This very question lies at the heart of the study of jurisprudence, or legal philosophy. Since early civilisation, philosophers and thinkers have worked with a view to establishing a definitive meaning of what law is and where it fits in to the community. From these efforts have arisen major ‘schools’ of thought which demonstrate ideas and concepts distinct from one and other yet equally valid in their interpretations.

When asked ‘what is law?’, most people will proffer an initial response along the lines of ‘law is rules’, or on a more complex level, ‘law is the rules that regulate our behaviour’. This basic response is actually very valid, and true it forms the cornerstone of numerous schools of thought. However, posing slightly more probing questions raises doubts as to the validity of this statement, and casts doubt over a large consensus of lay-opinion on the matter. For example, if the law is a regulatory body of rules, then by itself it is useless. Rules alone can surely only set parameters at most, and can never seek to regulate independently. In order to provide this regulatory aspect, there is a requirement for something more; there is a requirement for enforcement, or coercion. In our society, this is provided by the threat of sanctions like prison and fines. Therefore our traditional notion of law as ‘rules’ is deeply flawed: law must be more of an interaction between rules and a physical persuasion. In other words, we need some motivation to obey the law, partly as a consequence of our nature as human beings, to keep us within its boundaries and to keep up above its line of governance, therefore there is more required to offer an accurate description than this simple straightforward idea.

Consider also this fundamental point in determining the nature of law at a conceptual level. If the law, as we see it, is a body of rules, in what sense do these rules operate, i.e. are the prescriptive (how one must behave), or descriptive (how the majority of society behave). If it is prescriptive, there would essentially be a requirement for every citizen to learn the law from a young age in order to ensure consistency with the proscriptive body of legislation. If on the other hand it is descriptive of how society behaves, this raises the problem of authority: the way society behaves is not an objective concept, therefore why should any given person or body of people be afforded a subjective look at what is right and what is wrong? In a nation with strong fundamental freedoms, it is even more peculiar that the law is allowed to operate, if it were to operate in this sense. Rather it would seem more apt to consider law as a relationship between people internally (with other people) and with the state, with an element of mutual consensus in achieving the relevant social ends.

From this basic analysis of the conceptual nature of law, it is obvious that there is scope for debate. So much so, legal scholars have for generations sought academic argumentation and competition with other writers. From Aristotle to Dworkin to HLA Hart and beyond, the concept of the nature of law is one which is both fascinating and complex, with many facets and caveats yet to be explored. In an international legal context, the study of jurisprudence transcends jurisdiction and specific legal training moving towards the realms of independent thought and observation. Nevertheless the nature of law is a popular academic study, as well as an interesting and thought provoking topic for the ‘everyday’ citizen subject to its governance.

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Cutting your Kids’ Schooling Costs

Whenever the school season is just around the corner, there’s only one thing that parents are thinking about – the impending costs. Education is a primary right and a pertinent need of every child but it can become very costly. Availing of scholarships and education grants for your children is the best way to get them through schooling. But of course, only a small percentage of children can be given these privileges.

There are simple and effective measures that parents can employ in cutting the costs of their children’s schooling, especially during the back-to-school season. Most often, these measures are often taken for granted, but don’t miss out!

Organize and Save

Keep an inventory of your children’s school supplies and keep it organized. If you are not organized, you will be spending more money on replenishing your supplies. Small things like pencils and crayons may not cost too much, but if you replenish your supplies unnecessarily, you are losing valuable money.

You should also try involving the kids when making the inventory. This will give them a sense of ownership for their things and would know where to take and put their things.

Tax Holidays

Tax holidays are often offered by many states during the back-to-school season. Price ceilings will be put on different school gears. You might want to do a little research and ask about the schedule and the details of the tax holidays in your area.

Bulk Buying

It’s a basic economic principle – “the more you buy, the more you save”. Well, this is applicable if you are buying a specific item which you will really need in the near future. In buying pencils, for example, you might want to buy a box rather than buying one for each of your kids. Face it, you will be needing to replenish these after some time, so might as well avail of the lower price by buying in bulk.

Transportation

You might want to consider buying your child a bicycle for him to bring to school. This, of course, is not always feasible. Finding a cheap and safe way to bring your children to school daily is an important thing. Car pools and school transportation services are options that you can look at.

Snacks

Whenever you have the time and energy to prepare food for your children, do so. You will not only be saving on the pocket money that you will give to them but you are also secured that your children are eating healthy and safe meals.

Getting your children through school is a hard task and a costly one. Saving money through practical and simple means can assist you in this endeavor. The benefits will eventually add up to bring a brighter future to your children.

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The Fairness of Minimising Liability In Tort

The law of tort governs the behaviour of the citizen towards his fellow citizen, or indeed the actions of a company to a citizen or fellow company, in the absence of criminal conduct or contractual remedies. Present in most legal systems in some form, the law of tort (or delict) covers civil ‘wrongs’, where one party has suffered damages as a consequence of another’s actions. Of course there are permitted damages that one can occasion to another party, such as one company undercutting a competitor to his detriment. Tort is concerned largely with prohibited or negligent behaviour that can be attributed towards one specific party, opening the path for an award of compensation or damages. One major point of criticism and debate in the area of tort is that of indeterminate or indiscriminate liability, which is designed to minimise the potential for floodgate liability.

Tort imposes a number of criteria, which must be satisfied before a party can be liable for his negligent actions. These are naturally strict to avoid the potential economic crisis arising from a ‘compensation culture’. Additionally, there is a pressure to encourage risk to a certain extent in order to promote economic activity, and to avoid easily conceding liability to encourage ‘normal’ daily activity. In a weak tort system, paranoia hinders economic growth and creates a multitude of socio-economic problems. From this, the conditions of indeterminate liability have arisen, as well as numerous other high standards that must be satisfied before a court will impose liability and the corresponding financial repercussions.

Imagine the scenario where a protruding paving stone causes an actual risk of injury to the public at large. Because there is a potential for such a widespread liability, courts around the world impose various mechanisms to rule out claims of any sort to avoid the potential for ruining local authorities and in the interests of ‘common sense’. In much of Europe and the UK, the mechanism of choice is a ‘remoteness criterion’, which provides that where the liability for the victim’s injury is too ‘remote’, no liability shall be borne. In other words, there is a requirement that the potentially liable party should have had a direct impact on the specific victims injury.

Another argument against the principle of precluding liability on this basis is that it encourages ‘bigger’ tort. In this sense, it ensures more caution towards situations where a specific person may be injured, but also encourages a lack of consideration for safety in situations where hundreds or potentially thousands may be subject to injury, given the unlikely possibility of successful legal challenge. This creates an obvious social problem, which must be weighed by legislatures and courts in order to solve the problem. As this area of the law continues to develop, the importance of finding a workable solution to this situation will become more apparent.

Ultimately, in the scenario envisaged above, an injury from the paving stone could happen to anyone using the pathway, thus there could be no liability because the injury would be too remote. Although an effective means of achieving the ends, doubts have been cast as to the fairness of indeterminate liability, particularly in consideration of victims of real injury in these circumstances who would otherwise be entitled to compensation in respect of the damages sustained. In protecting the potentially liable, the relevant courts are unjustifiably prejudicing the victims of injury. Perhaps it can be seen as the lesser of two evils, but this is poor consolation for the victims of this sort of injury. Arguably a better mechanism for dealing with this sort of situation would be to present a ‘first come first serve’ basis, or to create a common indemnity fund, or compulsory insurance for organisations likely to be subject to multiple tort claims. This would help curb the apparent inequity in tort claims where liability is precluded by virtue of its wide-ranging effects.

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Tips on How to Cut your Medical Expenses

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Moreover, there is no such thing as free medication. Some time or another, all of us will need medical treatment. Whether it would be for simple colds or for serious illnesses, these things would hurt us and burn our pockets.

According to a recent study, Americans spend more money on medical expenses than any other nationality in the world. As prices get higher and life gets harder, saving some money from your medical expenses will definitely benefit you.

Here are some practical tips on how to cut your medical costs:

Mind Your Health

Prevention is always better than cure. Being fit and healthy seems to be a 21st century fad and it wouldn’t hurt us if we join in the bandwagon. An analysis of the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Survey revealed that people who are more active spend less on medical expenses than those who live lethargic lives. The analysis equated the benefit of being physically active to $330 (1987 dollar value) per person.

For smokers and drinkers, reducing cigarette and alcohol consumption is an option which you may find feasible. You will not only reduce future medical costs but also reduce direct costs from purchasing these products.

Go Generic

Taking generic drugs is the way to go. Patents are used by manufacturers to be able to set a price so as to recover their costs in developing their products. But these patents don’t last forever and sooner or later, generic versions of these drugs will be available. Generic drugs are basically the same as the branded ones in terms of ingredients and quality.

Going generic can save you a lot of money. According to the Association of Chain Drug Stores, the generic drugs are priced at $24 on the average in 2004, while the average price of the branded ones is $96 dollars.

Deal with your Doctor

Take time out to discuss things with your doctor, for this can also save you a lot of cash. Don’t be shy to ask him about the possible alternatives that you can take. Ask him if there is a generic drug that you can take if he prescribes you a branded drug. If you are going to have surgery, try to schedule wisely, so as to prevent overstaying in the hospital. And most importantly, do as you are told. If he asks you to quit your vice, quit it. If he tells you to be active, then you’d better be!

Medical expenses can really dig a hole in your pocket. Try to be wise in your medical transactions and more importantly, take care of your health.

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