Take Action to Improve Your Financial Situation in MARKS MISSISSIPPI
By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Director.
America Saves Week, February 24
March 1, 2014, is a time to review your finances, decide what you want to
save for, and set up a system that will allow you to save automatically. Thats
why the America Saves Week theme is Set
a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Did you know that only half of
Americans report having good savings habits? Even if you are already saving,
its good to take a look at your goals and decide if you can save more or start
a new savings goal. Join thousands of others who are pledging to pay down
debt, save money, and take financial action during America Saves Week.
Not sure what to
save for or what to save for next? Here are the most popular saving goals
of those who have pledged to save through America Saves:
· Save for Emergencies - Only 37 percent
of low-to-moderate income households have a savings or money market account at
a bank or credit union and nearly a quarter of savers who have pledged to save
have chosen emergency savings as their first wealth-building goal. Learn
· Save for Education - Saving for
education is the second most popular goal savers select when they pledge to
save with America Saves. There are many different things to factor in when
saving and paying for college. Learn
· Pay Down Debt - Getting out of debt is the #3 goal
Savers select when they pledge to save. That does not come as a surprise since
a 2012 survey found that 45% of families
with annual incomes under $50,000 rely on credit cards to pay for basic needs
such as rent, utilities, insurance and food. Learn
· Save for a Home - For decades, home ownership has
been the main path to wealth for most Americans. Today, home equity - the
market value of a home minus the balance on any home loans - represents more
than four-fifths of the typical family’s wealth. Learn
· Save for Retirement - Retirement
savings is a top priority for many Savers. Saving for retirement now will
ensure that you have enough money to maintain a comfortable standard of living
when you stop or reduce the amount of hours you work. Learn
Not sure how to
save for your goals? Here are some saving strategies to help:
· Save Automatically - The easiest and
most effective way to save is automatically. This is how millions of Americans
save at their bank or credit union, and how millions of employees save through
401(k) and other retirement programs at work. Learn more.
· Save at Tax Time - Do you spend weeks eagerly
anticipating your tax refund? When the money finally comes in, is it gone
tomorrow? Many people view tax refunds as unplanned bonuses. They see the money
as a gift from the government, to use for splurges or treats. But a tax refund
provides the opportunity to improve your financial situation. Learn
the America Saves Pledge (or re-pledge) today to set your savings goal and
make a plan to save. When you take the pledge you can also choose to receive
text message tips and reminders to help you save for your goal. And dont
forget to follow America Saves on Facebook
America Saves Week is coordinated
by America Saves and the American Savings
Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for
organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for inpiduals to
assess their own saving status
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In MARKS MISSISSIPPI: Why Good Trade Deals Matter to a Business
Nick Martin is the co-founder of The Pro´s Closet, an online used-cycling business. He sent the following email to the White House list to highlight why a better trade deal means a brighter future for online businesses like his.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn´t just President Obama´s proposed trade deal -- it´s mine, too. It´s a trade deal that millions of other online small business owners in this country would be proud to add their name to. I want to tell you why:
Every time I step through the doors of one of our 4,000-square-foot warehouses in Boulder and Denver, Colorado -- every time I see the bikes and cycling parts that line those walls and take in the energetic buzz of our 30-member team -- I take a step back and reflect on a simple fact: I own a business. Its a "pinch-me" moment -- every time.
I am a cyclist and the proud co-owner of The Pro´s Closet, an online used-cycling store. And thanks to the Internet and the availability of e-commerce platforms like eBay, we´ve gone global. After all, when its not cycling season in the U.S., its peak season somewhere else in the world.
International customers aren´t just good for business abroad; theyre great for my Colorado communities. Why? Because selling in more markets means I can hire more people here at home. In fact, more small businesses are using the Internet to grow their business by reaching new customers they couldn´t reach before.
This is why trade is so important to me. If the success of American businesses in the global economy is important to you, say youre an ambassador for a better trade deal that delivers a brighter future for all of us.
It may seem like a really remote and technical issue, but it actually has a real impact on how small businesses like mine do business. Currently more than 40% of our transactions cross U.S. borders. Unfortunately, most of our trade rules were written in a "pre-Internet" era, which means they are a nightmare to navigate for small online businesses.
Heres an example: Right now, customs rules are so inconsistent and hard to follow that if we put a cycling part in the wrong packaging or mail it with the wrong label, it wont make it to our customer in one country. The rules are different for each country, and are sometimes set up in a way that completely blocks out American business.
That is why it is so important that we secure the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new kind of trade agreement that will ensure America writes the rules and levels the playing field for online businesses and American workers by:
Reducing and eliminating tariffs across the Asia-Pacific region
Streamlining customs procedures
Making the rules more transparent, consistent, and less costly
Helping keep the Internet open and free, enabling online businesses to operate without unnecessary infrastructure costs
Of course, as the President has said, not all of our past trade deals have lived up to their promise. Thankfully, this trade deal is on track to be different. In fact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is shaping up to be the most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen.
Thanks to the leadership of the President and the FCC, the resources are in place to meet the Presidents connectivity goal. In addition, various private-sector partners are making over $2 billion worth of resources available to students, teachers, and schools. These include tablets, mobile broadband, software, and online teacher professional development courses from top universities. Fewer than 40 percent of public schools currently have the high-speed Internet needed to support modern digital learning.
But now we have the resources to solve this problem. We just need help from our nations superintendents and school technology chiefs.
Last year, the FCC approved the first major update to the E-Rate program since it was created in 1997. E-Rate (also known as the Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries) makes it more affordable for schools and libraries to connect to high-speed Internet with the goal of making the gigabit speeds we see in cities like Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Chattanooga, Tennessee the norm in schools across the country.
These updates have unlocked funding to support internal Wi-Fi network upgrades in schools and libraries this year for the first time since 2012. Wi-Fi is important because no matter how fast the Internet connection is to a school, students cant take full advantage of it without a robust wireless network within the school.
To secure E-rate support for Wi-Fi, schools and libraries must submit a form describing their project needs to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC then posts the request for competitive bidding. The Department of Education has prepared an Infrastructure Guide to help district leaders navigate the many decisions required to deliver cutting-edge connectivity to students. That said, schools and libraries have the final say when they submit an application to USAC for approval.
Bringing our schools up to speed is a major priority, and E-rate provides an opportunity to make doing so much more affordable. For all of the superintendents and technology officers: If you havent yet done so, get your requests submitted by February 26, 2015, and your applications in before March 26, 2015 (requests must be up for 28 days before a school can choose a vendor). Your students, your community, and your country will thank you for bringing our classrooms into the 21st century.