Imagine going into a supermarket knowing that you have only $30 for a week’s worth of food. You make your way along the aisles carefully comparing prices, rejecting canned beans for the cheaper dried ones, and substituting chicken drumsticks for pricey boneless breasts. You skip over all extras like coffee and soda without a second glance. Most of all, you fret over the high prices in the produce aisle and wonder if you’ll have to get through the week with no fruit and veggies at all.
In 2014, more than 46 million people got all or part of their monthly grocery bills paid by the government. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps low-income people buy the food they need to stay healthy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the program, reports that SNAP benefits kept 5 million Americans – including 2.2 million children – out of poverty in 2012.
The SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, has received a lot of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Politicians on the right argue that the program is inefficient and widely abused; those on the left claim that benefits are too low to keep up with rising food prices. Nonetheless, for many Americans, the extra money SNAP provides means the difference between eating regularly and going hungry.
Starting a small business is hard work anywhere. Business owners have to juggle dozens of important considerations, some of which directly conflict with one another – for instance, it’s hard to have a gold-plated advertising budget when you’re operating on a shoestring. Any entrepreneur who can keep it together for long enough to get a company off the ground and turn a profit deserves the utmost respect.
That said, getting a business off the ground is simpler and less costly in certain locales. Cities and states with fewer barriers to entry for new companies, regardless of industry, are said to be business-friendly or possessing a favorable business climate.
When my son was around eight months old, I remember glancing at our bank statement and wondering where all our money had gone. I then reviewed my receipts and credit card charges from the previous couple of months and saw a number of repeat offenders: diapers, wipes, infant vitamin supplements, and feeding supplies. When I complained to my husband about how much we were spending, he reassured me that soon enough, our son would graduate from the infant stage and become a toddler, and with that would come a world of savings.
Many small business owners believe that since they’ve got an intimate, close-knit operation, they’re not susceptible to fraud when, in fact, the opposite is true. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners reports that small businesses experience more instances of fraud than medium or large companies do. By designing and implementing appropriate internal controls at your business, you can detect fraud as it occurs and prevent employees from attempting it in the first place.
Who Commits Fraud
While you may think that fraudsters are hardened criminals who jump from job to job, the Journal of Accountancy reports that most individuals who commit occupational fraud are first-time offenders. Also, very few fraudsters take a job with the intention to defraud the business.
Financial professionals have been sounding the alarm for a long time warning that a retirement crisis is coming. The National Council on Aging says more than 23 million Americans age 60 or over are already living at or below the federal poverty level. And still, much of the working class is ignoring the warnings and the struggles of those around them.
According to the Federal Reserve, only 13% of Americans have given their financial planning for retirement “a lot” of thought. Half of Americans say they either only thought about it a little bit or they haven’t thought about it at all. Yet the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) shows that confidence about being prepared for retirement spiked in 2014 and again in 2015 after sitting at record lows between 2009 and 2013.
Black Friday – the Friday after Thanksgiving – has traditionally been viewed as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. That’s less true today than it used to be, with many stores unveiling their holiday deals well before Thanksgiving, but there’s no denying that Thanksgiving weekend is still a major shopping event. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 133 million Americans shopped in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend in 2014, spending nearly $51 billion dollars – about $381 per person.
Perhaps your Internet searches are being redirected to sites unrelated to what you want to find. Maybe your antivirus software has inexplicably been disabled, or the speed of your computer has slowed to a crawl. These and other symptoms could mean you’ve been hacked. Worse than just a pesky virus, an attack on your system directed by a hacker can be far more damaging and costly.
Many users believe they are too small a target to be attacked by hackers. Previously, cybercriminals may have agreed with that assessment, but that is quickly changing. Today, hackers see an individual’s data as low-hanging fruit. Without the need to get past sophisticated corporate firewalls, or bypass complex security protocols, the idea of penetrating your personal computer’s almost nonexistent defenses becomes very attractive.
Want to see the world and experience other cultures? The Peace Corps may be right for you. Each year, approximately 15,000 to 18,000 Americans apply to serve. While locales vary from year to year, present opportunities range from the islands of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, to the mountains of Nepal and Peru. Volunteers serve in China, Madagascar, South Africa, and 50 other countries around the world.
When you’ve recently graduated from college, the world can seem like your oyster. After four years of unpaid internships or part-time jobs, you suddenly can see full-time employment with a full-time salary on the horizon.
But sometimes, finding a full-time job can be more difficult than you thought it would be – and you may find yourself still at that part-time job, even though you have a degree in-hand. And even if you do land a full-time job, your post-graduation salary might not be as high as you thought it would be.