Mary McCoy Mary McCoy, LMSW is a licensed social worker who works closely with individuals, families, and organizations in crisis. She knows first-hand how financial choices can prevent and mitigate crises, and she's therefore passionate about equipping people with the information they need to make solid financial decisions for themselves and their loved ones. When Mary isn't on her soap box, you can find her hiking, jogging, yoga-ing, or frolicking with her family.
In May 2013, consumers looked on with horror when news agencies reported the deaths of 1,130 Bangladeshi garment workers in a factory collapse. But unfortunately, for every high-profile report of exploited garment workers, there are thousands of untold stories of abuse within the fashion and clothing industry.
The supply chains of American-worn clothing are complex and involve workers in many countries and many phases of textile production. As a result, many consumers – even consumers who are socially conscious – are likely wearing items that are made by exploited workers and modern-day slaves.
Depending on your outlook and personality, the thought of New Year’s resolutions may fill you with either dread or excitement. People who approach resolutions with dread likely recall the disappointment of unmet goals as the source of their frustration; those who approach resolutions with excitement, however, have usually figured out how to set goals that are attainable and satisfying for the long haul.
If you have lofty ambitions for the coming year but are worried about setting yourself up for disappointment, take some time to figure out how to create resolutions that will work for you. You’ll find that reasonable goal-setting can propel you toward the future you desire.
Whether you’re in the market to sell your home or simply to beautify it, don’t underestimate the value of an updated kitchen. The qualities most likely to catch the eyes of potential buyers include matching appliances, pristine counter tops, fresh paint, and, most importantly, updated cabinetry. Outdated, dingy, or lackluster cabinets can make any kitchen look stale and unfinished, but beautifully finished cabinets can make all the difference in the world to its overall look.
Renovation is never easy, but thankfully there are several options available to help you along the way. Refinishing, replacing, or refacing your cabinets each represent different price points and require different levels of exertion, but all of them can bring a drab, sleepy kitchen back to life.
A home is only as beautiful as the quality of its paint job – but, of course, that’s bad news if you have dingy paint throughout your house.
Fortunately, it’s relatively simple and inexpensive to update the interior of your home with fresh paint within just a few days, or even hours. If you’ve never taken on a home painting project, be sure to stock up on supplies and acquaint yourself with the proper technique before beginning. You may also want to enlist a friend for extra help and pleasant company as you roll a beautiful, fresh coat of paint onto your walls.
Popcorn ceiling is the bumpy-looking ceiling treatment home builders used from the 1950s to the 1980s to improve acoustics and mask ceiling flaws. Also known as “cottage cheese ceiling” and “stucco ceiling,” the popcorn finish started falling out of favor in the late 1980s and early 1990s because some formulations contained asbestos.
Disdain for popcorn ceiling gained momentum in the 2000s when homeowners started to acknowledge these ceilings are ugly, outdated, and tend to attract dust and grime. Many homeowners who live in older properties are now hiring contractors to remove the dingy texture from their homes.
As opposed to expensive and time-consuming remodeling projects, home updates are simple homeowner tasks that can quickly increase a home’s marketability and value – especially helpful if you’re thinking about selling your home and you want to boost your bottom line.
Even if you’re not in a position to sell your home, these updates are quick, simple, and cost-effective. So, before you hire a contractor to redo your kitchen or remodel your bathrooms, try these updates to see if a simpler and cheaper solution meets your family’s needs.
Financial hardship befalls most of us at some point in life. A job loss, medical expenses, and poor investment performance are just a few of the more common obstacles to a sound financial picture. Sometimes, however, these obstacles are not beyond our control. According to a Stanford University study, roughly 6% of women and 5.5% of men are compulsive buyers – people whose excessive spending patterns cause interpersonal distress or financial hardship. Such people are more likely to have multiple credit cards, more credit card debt, a tendency to pay only the minimum monthly requirement, and to endure more interpersonal conflict regarding finances than other consumers.
Transportation is what moves us. We all rely on transportation to travel to and from school, work, and recreation, so no one can expect to remove the substantial costs of transportation entirely from their budgets. Unfortunately, American consumers have several nasty transportation habits that are unsustainable, inefficient, and damaging to the public interest in terms of public health, community spending habits, and national security. These habits end up costing consumers more than just money, which makes it important to put some thought towards affordable and socially responsible alternatives to typical transportation practices.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – also known as “Obamacare” – came into law in 2010 and was taken to the Supreme Court in 2012, at which point the law was challenged and upheld. Some portions of the law enjoy popularity, such as the option for adult children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26. Other portions of the law are quite divisive, particularly the law’s mandate that individuals purchase healthcare insurance – either through an employer or on the market – by the beginning of 2014, or else pay a penalty.
No one likes to think about needing assistance with daily activities, but many individuals require additional care as they age. Unfortunately, family members may not be willing, able, or equipped to manage as caregivers, nor equipped to cover the cost of paying someone to provide care.
Long-term care (LTC) insurance often provides a solution to this dilemma. However, the need for long-term care insurance isn’t always clear, and many mistakenly assume that their existing health insurance policies cover this type of care. Furthermore, the cost of long-term care is very high. Whether an LTC policy makes sense for you starts with an understanding of what it is, what your other health policies cover, and whether you can afford the premiums or the risk of not having a policy in place.
Have you ever made a bargain purchase and had it backfire on you? Perhaps you bought a cheap pair of jeans, only to have the seams unravel in a few short weeks. Or maybe you bought a discounted airline ticket with multiple layovers, but arrived at your destination, exhausted and agitated, without your luggage.
With the benefit of hindsight, you might realize that spending a little extra is sometimes worth the money. The trick is in knowing when it pays to pay more. In fact, there are circumstances in which making a luxury purchase can actually reduce your costs over time.
When a person grows tired of fighting a terminal illness with aggressive and often painful medical measures, enrolling in hospice care may be the best course of action. Instead of focusing on curing a disease, hospice care concentrates on increasing a patient’s quality of life during the last days of illness.
People who use hospice, as well as their families, are provided medical, emotional, and spiritual care, most often within the patient’s home. Hospice care can ameliorate many difficult end-of-life decisions, and for this reason it’s important to understand exactly how it can help your family when, or if, necessary.
No one wants to make it to their retirement party after a lifelong career and say to themselves, “Well, that was pointless.” But many workers feel tied to jobs they simply tolerate because they’re not sure how to invest their time, financial decisions, and savings in a career plan that will allow them to pursue their dreams.
Whether you’re a fresh-faced college student or a mid-career employee, you need to work hard and be creative to obtain the knowledge, security, and savings needed to make the leap into the career path you love. You can do this by fully considering both the dream you want to pursue and the lifestyle you want to live, and formulating a clear plan for how to reconcile the two.
Many people who are in relationships with an addict – whether the addiction is chemical or behavioral – find themselves in situations where they can choose either to address the addiction, or allow it to continue. Unfortunately, to allow harmful behavior to continue is to enable it, and the choice to enable another person can cause serious financial, emotional, and interpersonal problems.
In this complicated situation, it’s essential to take steps to address the problem head-on. If the addiction goes unaddressed, the negative consequences are likely to escalate.
Overworked and underpaid. Too busy and too tired. These phrases are the mantra of an American society that, according to the Institute of Medicine, has the dubious distinction of falling behind nearly every other affluent country in terms of life expectancy, rate of injury and illness, and overall health. The dismal figures regarding our health impact not just our happiness, but our financial bottom line.
While the macro-level reality may not change without a concerted effort from policymakers and entire communities of people, there are actions you can personally take to safeguard your and your family’s mental, physical, and emotional health through the practice of self-care. Chances are, self-care isn’t quite what you think it is.
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