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Kalen Smith
Kalen Smith has written for a variety of financial and business sites. He is a weekly contributor for Young Entrepreneur and has worked as a guest blogger on behalf of Consumer Media Network. He holds an MBA in finance from Clark University in Worcester, MA.

What Is Deflation – Definition, Causes & Effects

By Kalen Smith

deflationMany people accept inflation as a fact of life. However, under certain economic situations, the opposite phenomenon actually takes place, and is known as “deflation.”

Deflation is the reduction of prices of goods, and although deflation may seem like a good thing when you’re standing at the checkout counter, it’s not. Rather, deflation is an indication that economic conditions are deteriorating. Deflation is usually associated with significant unemployment, which is only corrected after wages drop considerably. Furthermore, businesses’ profits drop significantly during periods of deflation, making it more difficult to raise additional capital to expand and develop new technologies.

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How to Get Affordable Dental Care Without Insurance

By Kalen Smith

dentist officeCan’t afford a trip to the dentist? You’re not alone. The cost of dental care has consistently risen by nearly twice the average rate of inflation over the past half-century. In addition to rising dental costs, the number of consumers with access to dental insurance decreased 5.7% from 2009 to 2010 alone, leaving only about 45% of Americans with dental insurance.

The price may be high, and you may be among the majority who lack insurance. However, there are a number cost-saving measures you can attempt to save money on quality dental care.

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What Is a Mutual Fund – Definition, Types, Pros & Cons

By Kalen Smith

mutual fundsMany investors want to diversify their holdings in order to limit their exposure to risk. However, most individual investors cannot afford the fees and commissions necessary to take large positions in a number of individual securities. Fortunately, they can take advantage of mutual funds.

There are a number of benefits to mutual funds, though it is crucial to examine the downsides, as well as your own needs, goals, and risk comfort, to determine whether mutual fund investment is right for you.

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History of the Dot-Com Bubble Burst and How to Avoid Another

By Kalen Smith

history of the dot-com bubbleIn less than two decades time, the Internet has changed our lives immeasurably. Among altering nearly every other aspect of our lives, from shopping, to communication, to receiving news, the Internet has affected the way business has evolved. Many established businesses and start-ups have made millions off of the Internet, and many more hope to do the same.

However, entrepreneurs’ overly optimistic expectations of the potential of the Internet created the infamous “dot-com bubble” (also known as the “Internet bubble”) of the latter half of the 1990s. Another bubble may be on the way if we are not careful.

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History of Credit Rating Agencies and How They Work

By Kalen Smith

understanding credit rating agenciesCredit rating agencies have been around for the better part of the 20th century, and have played a key role in the financial world by providing ratings on the creditworthiness of bonds and other debt instruments. These ratings are invaluable tools for investors looking to get a better sense of whether a debt instrument is worth investing in. Therefore, when assessing the level of risk associated with a bond,  investors will typically look at its credit rating.

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What Is S&P? Understanding Standard & Poor’s Credit Ratings

By Kalen Smith

standard and poor'sStandard and Poor’s (commonly known as S&P) is one of the most prominent financial intelligence companies in the world. S&P is a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies and has more than 150 years of experience providing financial services to investors worldwide.

Though the firm provides a number of financial research services, they are most widely known for their credit ratings.

History of S&P

S&P’s history can be traced back to 1860, when Henry Varnum Poor published “The History of Railroads and Canals in the United States.” Eight years later, Poor and his son founded H.V. and H.W. Poor Co, a firm dedicated to providing financial statistics on railroad companies. Within the next five years, Poor’s company became one of the leading firms on Wall Street. Later, in 1919, the firm was renamed Poor’s Publishing.

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How to Find the Right Business Partner – Pros & Cons

By Kalen Smith

business partner handshakeWorking with a business partner drastically changes the dynamics of running a business. A great business partner can add a lot to a venture. On the other hand, entrepreneurs can also benefit from going solo when the alternative means an incompatible partnership or working with a partner who doesn’t have the right skill set or experiences necessary for success.

Having a business partner has advantages and disadvantages. Working with a partner may or may not benefit you and your business. Consider these points before you decide whether or not to work with a partner or to run your business on your own.

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What Is the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – Stock Market Index

By Kalen Smith

dow jones logoThe Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is an index of 30 of the largest publicly owned, U.S.-based companies and has been an economic force for over a century. It is also one of the most widely used indexes and plays a fundamental role in the stock market and the way people manage their income and investments.

Most investors use the DJIA to benchmark the performance of their holdings and they may even invest in the DJIA itself.

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The Real Reasons Why Companies & Business Startups Are Failing

By Kalen Smith

darts business failureRunning a business is very risky. In fact, an estimated 49% of businesses fail within their first five years and approximately 30% of businesses don’t even make it through the first two years. Some industries are particularly risky and have even higher failure rates. For example, about 61% of independent restaurants don’t make it through their first three years, and the failure rate for technology startups is about three times higher than that of all other businesses.

These statistics may not be very encouraging to new entrepreneurs. But chance only plays a small role in a business’s fate. Most fail due to lack of direction, poor planning, or poor leadership, even if the idea, product, or service is a winner.

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Top 10 Recession Proof Jobs – Do They Exist?

By Kalen Smith

psychologist jobLet’s face it. Recessions are difficult. You’ll know this best if you’re out of work and looking for a job.

But even if you’re employed, you may still feel anxiety about losing your job or you may have had to take a pay cut to keep it. Some professions are hit harder than others during a recession, such as jobs in construction and finance. This is because demand decreases for their products when the economy isn’t doing well.

However, for some professionals, demand stays constant in spite of a down economy, such as educators, health professionals, and law enforcement. In fact, such jobs may even appear to be “recession proof.”

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Is Going to College and Getting a Degree Worth It?

By Kalen Smith

college degree graduatesThe conventional wisdom is to go to college, though a college education is by no means a prerequisite to success. That said, it has been considered a great asset and may open doors otherwise closed to non-college graduates.

But as the world economy changes, traditional wisdom is being questioned. It’s up to you to determine individually what course is best. In other words, instead of blindly listening to conventional wisdom or its opponents, assess the pros and cons of a college education according to your own goals and finances.

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What Are High-Yield Junk Bonds – Definition, Pros & Cons of Investing

By Kalen Smith

dollar bonds increaseIf you’ve heard the term “junk bonds” before, you might think that they are worthless. But the proper term for “junk” in this sense is “high-yield” and they are not necessarily a bad investment. Investing is all about risk and return. High-yield bonds simply offer a better coupon rate due to the fact that they carry more risk. Moreover, the risk-return trade-off for high-yield bonds may actually be better than that for stocks.

In other words, don’t let slang terms such as “junk bond” scare you away from these securities. Consider the following characteristics to make an informed decision on whether or not to invest.

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List of 16 Major Leading & Lagging Economic Indicators

By Kalen Smith

man economic indicatorMost economists talk about where the economy is headed – it’s what they do. But in case you haven’t noticed, many of their predictions are wrong. For example, Ben Bernanke (head of the Federal Reserve) made a prediction in 2007 that the United States was not headed into a recession. He further claimed that the stock and housing markets would be as strong as ever. As we know now, he was wrong.

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Bait and Switch Advertising Scams – Definition, Examples & Laws

By Kalen Smith

free cheese trapBait-and-switch is a term for a scam where a business advertises a great product or service for a low price. When prospective customers attempt to buy the product or service, however, they find out that the product is not available. The business uses this opportunity to try to sell customers a more expensive product instead.

Many different businesses have used these scams to entice customers to buy expensive products and services. As a consumer, you need to know how to identify a bait-and-switch scam and protect yourself from being taken advantage of.

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How to Reduce & Avoid Overwhelming Student Loan Debt

By Kalen Smith

girl balancing booksThe cost of college increases every year. Even in a good economy, the cost of school places many students in debt. The requirements for student loans have become more stringent, and many students graduate from college with an average debt of $25,000, a significant increase in debt over past decades.

According to some reports, almost 90% of college students have to live with their parents after graduation. With hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity, you can diminish your student loan debt before you enter school, during school, and after you graduate.

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