Category Archives: Finances

Get out of California: Newsom’s budget will defund fighting crime

We all know about the crime in California. Get ready for things to get worse as it’s no doubt going to happen. From the Daily Mail:

California’s Dem. Gov Gavin Newsom unveils new plans to defund the police in crime-ridden state after massive budget deficit

In 2022 Newsom bragged of having a $97.5 billion surplus. Fast forward two years later and the state now faces a $45 billion deficit. Great job, democrats.

From the article:

California governor Gavin Newsom‘s proposed new budget would slash funding for the police as the state struggles with a massive deficit of at least $45 billion.

Last month the Democrat unveiled his budget for the next fiscal year, admitting that ‘difficult decisions’ are needed to address the state’s deficit – including a 1.6 percent reduction in the state’s Department of Justice’s overall funding.

The proposed budget includes a $97 million cut to trial court operations, $10 million to the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement and over $80 million to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as reported by Fox News. 

Newsom’s plan comes as major national stores and local businesses in California say they continue to face rampant theft. Videos of large-scale thefts, in which groups of individuals brazenly rush into stores and take goods in plain sight, have often gone viral.

Crime data shows the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles saw a steady increase in shoplifting between 2021 and 2022. Across the state, shoplifting rates rose during the same time period but were still lower than the pre-pandemic levels in 2019, while commercial burglaries and robberies have become more prevalent in urban counties.

Meanwhile homelessness jumped 6 percent to more than 180,000 people in California last year, federal data show. And since 2013, the numbers have exploded by 53 percent with the state accounting for a third of America’s entire homeless population.

The state’s criminal justice record which saw the number of violent crimes jump by 27 percent between 2013 and 2022, and pickpocketing more than double.

Read the whole story here.

Voters in California about to learn the hard way:


It’s good to be a Congress critter!

I haven’t checked my investment account in a couple of weeks because the last time I did, it was just too darn depressing.

Shocking no one, therre is an apparent way to avoid this: become a member of the U.S. Congress!

From Daily Mail:

“Investors dedicate countless hours to solving the mystery of how to beat the stock market – and many lose millions of dollars in the process.

But the answer might be simple: Just copy Congress.

A tool which copies trades made by members of Congress and their families has gained nearly 20 percent this year – performing twice as well as the stock market average of eight to ten percent.

And a separate tool which is dedicated to tracking Nancy Pelosi‘s investments reveals her portfolio has returned a remarkable 50 percent in the last 12 months, vastly outperforming the 17 percent gains of the benchmark S&P500 index of America’s top companies.

The tools were created by Quiver Quantitative, which uses public disclosures from members of Congress to mirror their trading activity and track the results.

The disclosures reveal some politicians have displayed a near-prophetic ability to invest in companies just days before their stock prices explode. Some sit on congressional committees linked to the firm’s they’ve invested in.

James Kardatzke, CEO of Quiver Quantitative, told ‘You can almost certainly see instances where there seems to be people acting on information that they may have been receiving in committee meetings, or may have been receiving just based on the nature of their job.’

Quiver Quantitative has singled out several trades for their success. None of the members of Congress have been accused of insider trading. 

Quiver Quantitative’s separate tracker for Nancy Pelosi’s trading activity has returned around 50 percent since last December. Pelosi has profited hugely from massive gains this year in the stock price of Nvidia, the chipmaker whose valuation has passed $1 trillion thanks to the AI boom. Pelosi also owns millions of dollars worth of Microsoft and Apple stock, which have both risen by around 55 percent since the beginning of the year.

Current rules allow members of Congress to trade stocks freely, but they must report their trading and they are barred from using non-public information to inform their purchases. But the fine for lawmakers who break the rules is typically just $200.

Read the whole story here.

No matter how we vote, we just can’t seem to drain this:


World Economic Forum agent extols digital currency

A demonic-looking speaker for the World Economic Forum (that foments a global “Great Reset“) extols replacing cash with digital currency as a government tool to lock out the “less desirables,” such as buyers of guns and ammunition.

On March 2, 2022, the Biden administration put its support behind the research and development of a “U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency” (CBDC) by signing a sweeping executive order instructing the federal government to begin research and submit reports on a variety of issues surrounding digital currencies. (yahoo!news)



San Francisco, failed city

Man caught pooping in aisle of a Safeway store in San Francisco. (Khon2)

Matthew Lynn reports for The (UK) Telegraph, May 7, 2023:

San Francisco should be one of the best retail centres globally; an easy place to sell every kind of luxury good, fashion essentials and high end electronics. The money is there, as well as the people to spend it.

Yet this week, the department store Nordstrom announced it was shutting its locations in the city, joining a growing exodus of big name retailers. Household brands are in despair over the damage inflicted by an ultra-woke local government….

Nordstrom’s announcement was yet another blow for San Francisco’s battered retail industry. The company told employees it would not be renewing its leases at the Westfield Mall, nor at the Nordstrom Rack across the street, due to the “changed dynamics” in the city.

The “deteriorating situation in downtown San Francisco,” Westfield Mall told the Washington Post, has left both customers and staff unsafe.

The retailer is hardly the first to put up the “closing down sale” signs. The upmarket grocery chain Whole Foods has shuttered a flagship store; the H&M, Gap and Banana Republic have all left. While some British high streets risk becoming boarded-up wastelands, they could soon look positively vibrant compared to what used to be known as “the golden city”.

There is no great mystery here. Under its ultra-woke Mayor, London Breed, San Francisco has been testing out a wide array of faddish, progressive policies. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Breed was one of the first to jump on the “defund the police” bandwagon, cutting $120 million from the law and order budget.

Sales and corporate taxes have been pushed up. Homelessness has been tolerated right across the city centre. Motorists reportedly leave car windows and doors unlocked to deter overnight break-ins.

Last summer, a groups of business officials wrote to officials threatening to stop paying taxes if politicians failed to clear litter from the streets and stop people from openly taking drugs….

The quality of life has deteriorated steadily in San Francisco, not least for those who cannot afford to escape to the wealthier suburbs. Businesses are shunning the city, perhaps deterred by an increasingly unfavourable local tax, social and regulatory environment.

In 2021, foreign direct investment into new projects in San Francisco fell to their lowest level since 2009. And as shops close, real estate prices are tumbling. Let’s not forget that one of the big reasons the San Francisco based First Republic Bank had to be rescued was because of expected losses on property loans. The city is slipping into a vicious cycle of decline from which it is hard to see any exit….

There is a lesson in the closure of Nordstrom in San Francisco. It is one of the wealthiest places in the world. It has a per capita income of $160,000 (£126,000), according to figures from the Federal Reserve….

It is often complacently assumed that businesses will just take any amount of punishment so long as there are still customers with money to spend. You can push taxes up to any level you like, let crime run out of control, turn the streets over to vagrants, and impose as many virtue-signalling rules and regulations as you can think of, and they will stoically put up with it all because they need the market. San Francisco is a warning that that is simply not true.

There is always a final straw. That was true of Nordstrom and the golden city…. Ultra left local governments can destroy even successful cities – and once it starts it is almost impossible to reverse.


The exodus from blue states to red states

Kevin Stocklin reports for The Epoch Times: that both businesses and residents are fleeing blue states into red states:

As a result of its political divisions, the United States appears to now be dividing itself into prosperous, high-growth states and states that are suffering a chronic decline….

Caterpillar and Citadel, which announced their exit from Illinois in June, are only the latest firms to leave high-tax, high-regulation states. Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, and Remington are also among the hundreds of companies flocking out of California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey to business-friendly places such as Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Tennessee. Relocating companies have spanned industries including tech, finance, media, heavy manufacturing, autos, and firearms.

“There is a great migration going on, and I expect it to accelerate,” Glen Hamer, president of the Texas Association of Business, told The Epoch Times. “When the Caterpillars and the Elon Musks relocate, it’s an advertisement to the entire country and the entire world that something positive is going on in that state. And there is a multiplier effect.”

According to a 2022 survey of 700 CEOs, the top states for business are Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, and North Carolina. The worst states for business were California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Washington.

Even companies such as Apple, which didn’t move its headquarters to Texas, chose to establish its second-largest campus for employees there. Amazon selected Houston as one of its prime hubs. Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan chose Tennessee as the location for major new manufacturing facilities. And in some cases, entire industries, such as firearms, which are being targeted by legislation and lawsuits in blue states, are moving south….

When jobs leave, people leave with them. According to the U.S. Census, Democrat-run states California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois together lost 4 million people between 2010 and 2019, the so-called leftugees. During the same period, the states with the greatest influx of people were Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, and Arizona….

Florida attracted 624,000 new residents in 2020, along with more than $40 billion in income, equating to an estimated $23.7 billion in new tax income. Florida has enjoyed two decades of net in-migration, amounting to a total income gain of $197 billion….

According to a report based on IRS data by Wirepoints, an Illinois-based economic research organization, the cost of losing companies and people is stark for states such as Illinois, which has seen decreases in its population for 21 straight years.

Since 2000, that state has lost a total of $535 billion in income that moved away, which equates to about $25 billion in lost tax revenue during that period, and $4 billion in 2020 alone. Illinois’ problems include a loss of 114,000 residents in 2021, a string of 21 consecutive years of state budget deficits, a $313 billion deficit in public pensions, and the second-highest property tax rates in the country.

“Illinois is stuck in a vicious downward spiral it can’t hope to escape from without fundamentally changing how it governs,” the Wirepoints report reads. “Structural property tax reform, reductions in pension debt, slashing units of local government—the state needs to do all these things if it wants to convince Illinoisans to stay and persuade other Americans to move in.”

Reducing violent crime would also help. Escalating crime was reportedly a factor, one among many, in Citadel’s decision to leave Chicago for Miami.

This exodus has many consequences and implications,  one of which is the hardening of the Left-Right division in America as blue states get even bluer with the loss of conservative voters, while red states get redder with the addition of conservative escapees.


18 of America’s 20 worst cities are run by Democrats

WalletHub compared the operating efficiency of 150 of the largest U.S. cities to determine which among them are managed best, based on a “Quality of Services” score made up of 38 metrics grouped into 6 service categories:

  1. Financial stability
  2. Education
  3. Health
  4. Safety
  5. Economy
  6. Infrastructure and Pollution

Each city’s “Quality of Services” score is then measured against the city’s per-capita budget. (To find out more about WalletHub’s methodology, go here.)

Source: WalletHub

No surprise to us, Los Angeles, CA (#134), Chicago, IL (#141), Oakland, CA (#144), Detroit, MI (#145), New York, NY (#148), San Francisco, CA (#149), and Washington, DC (#15o) are ranked among the worst — all governed by Democrats.

In fact, 18 of the 20 worst managed cities have Democrat mayors. The two exceptions are #146 Gulfport, TN (Republican mayor Billy Hewes) and #147 Chattanooga, TN (Independent mayor Tim Kelly).

But that fact won’t deter the voters of those cities to reelect Democrats, which is a sure indicator of their mental illness.

Here’s the list of the 150 cities, ranked from best (#1) to worst (#150):

Overall Rank (1=Best)  City ‘Quality of City Services’ Rank  ‘Total Budget per Capita’ Rank 
1 Nampa, ID 23 1
2 Boise, ID 4 3
3 Fort Wayne, IN 63 2
4 Nashua, NH 5 9
5 Lexington-Fayette, KY 44 6
6 Lincoln, NE 8 19
7 Durham, NC 25 11
8 Rapid City, SD 81 4
9 Las Cruces, NM 65 5
10 Virginia Beach, VA 2 36
11 Raleigh, NC 11 29
12 Missoula, MT 67 12
13 Oklahoma City, OK 88 8
14 Manchester, NH 29 20
15 Provo, UT 3 38
16 Sioux Falls, SD 31 21
17 Billings, MT 86 13
18 Madison, WI 6 42
19 Chesapeake, VA 17 34
20 Huntington Beach, CA 1 55
21 Louisville, KY 80 17
22 Greensboro, NC 57 23
23 Arlington, TX 28 31
24 Salem, OR 54 26
25 Mesa, AZ 58 25
26 Bismarck, ND 12 48
27 Charleston, SC 15 44
28 Columbus, GA 95 16
29 Cedar Rapids, IA 34 39
30 Warwick, RI 26 43
31 Albuquerque, NM 127 10
32 Tucson, AZ 111 14
33 Warren, MI 74 28
34 Huntington, WV 114 15
35 Aurora, IL 51 37
36 Phoenix, AZ 65 35
37 Grand Rapids, MI 33 47
38 Lewiston, ME 85 30
39 Tulsa, OK 110 22
40 Topeka, KS 76 40
41 Reno, NV 43 49
42 Worcester, MA 48 52
43 St. Petersburg, FL 42 54
44 Mobile, AL 96 32
45 Fort Worth, TX 56 53
46 El Paso, TX 64 50
47 Wichita, KS 124 24
48 Portland, ME 21 69
49 Corpus Christi, TX 99 41
50 Colorado Springs, CO 78 51
51 Baton Rouge, LA 129 27
52 Las Vegas, NV 49 61
53 Aurora, CO 79 56
54 Gary, IN 141 18
55 Fairbanks, AK 102 45
56 Des Moines, IA 53 62
57 Eugene, OR 38 71
58 Fort Smith, AR 123 33
59 Rutland, VT 59 67
60 Fargo, ND 35 79
61 Spokane, WA 60 68
62 San Diego, CA 7 97
63 Santa Ana, CA 39 81
64 Jackson, MS 148 7
65 Omaha, NE 27 86
66 Little Rock, AR 122 46
67 Hialeah, FL 55 78
68 Indianapolis, IN 93 60
69 Portland, OR 19 95
70 Boston, MA 14 100
71 Akron, OH 97 65
72 Montgomery, AL 119 58
73 Garland, TX 52 89
74 Salt Lake City, UT 16 106
75 Anchorage, AK 83 82
76 Tallahassee, FL 73 85
77 Fremont, CA 13 113
78 Houston, TX 100 73
79 Jacksonville, FL 109 70
80 Frederick, MD 22 108
81 Dayton, OH 101 74
82 Austin, TX 10 117
83 Columbia, SC 103 76
84 Dover, DE 120 64
85 Springfield, MA 121 63
86 Miami, FL 50 96
87 Casper, WY 104 80
88 Tampa, FL 40 101
89 Providence, RI 116 72
90 San Antonio, TX 47 103
91 St. Paul, MN 45 104
92 Columbus, OH 82 92
93 New Orleans, LA 136 57
94 San Jose, CA 20 121
95 Dallas, TX 89 93
96 Burlington, VT 32 114
97 Norfolk, VA 107 88
98 Charleston, WV 128 77
99 Bridgeport, CT 117 83
100 Richmond, VA 87 98
101 Kansas City, MO 112 91
102 Anaheim, CA 69 111
103 Cincinnati, OH 72 112
104 Fort Lauderdale, FL 41 120
105 Charlotte, NC 24 126
106 Toledo, OH 142 66
107 Orlando, FL 61 118
108 Bakersfield, CA 130 86
109 Shreveport, LA 147 59
110 Milwaukee, WI 126 90
111 Nashville, TN 105 105
112 Lubbock, TX 118 101
113 Knoxville, TN 46 130
114 Seattle, WA 9 140
115 Minneapolis, MN 37 133
116 Modesto, CA 108 109
117 Stockton, CA 145 75
118 Birmingham, AL 132 94
119 Syracuse, NY 84 123
120 Sacramento, CA 92 122
121 Pittsburgh, PA 68 129
122 Buffalo, NY 91 125
123 Riverside, CA 90 127
124 Atlanta, GA 77 132
125 Wilmington, DE 113 119
126 Fresno, CA 133 107
127 Long Beach, CA 62 139
128 Baltimore, MD 135 110
129 Cheyenne, WY 98 135
130 Denver, CO 71 141
131 Kansas City, KS 138 116
132 St. Louis, MO 149 84
133 Memphis, TN 143 115
134 Los Angeles, CA 75 143
135 New Haven, CT 137 124
136 Yonkers, NY 70 144
137 Philadelphia, PA 134 128
138 Rochester, NY 115 138
139 Tacoma, WA 106 142
140 Hartford, CT 144 131
141 Chicago, IL 140 136
142 Cleveland, OH 139 137
143 Flint, MI 146 134
144 Oakland, CA 94 147
145 Detroit, MI 150 99
146 Gulfport, MS 125 145
147 Chattanooga, TN 131 146
148 New York, NY 36 148
149 San Francisco, CA 18 149
150 Washington, DC 30 150


IRS denies non-profit a tax-exemption over biblical beliefs

Your government at work.

A Christian non-profit is challenging the Internal Revenue Service after the agency denied them tax-exempt status saying “the Bible’s teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates.”

Christians Engaged describes itself as educational, Christian, and non-partisan, and operates out of Garland, Texas. Its three main goals, as described by the non-profit, include:

To awaken, motivate, and empower ordinary believers in Jesus Christ to: pray for our nation and our elected officials regularly, vote in every election to impact our culture, and engage our hearts in some forms of political education or activism for the furtherance of our nation. Katherine Hamilton, in a June 29, 2021 article for Breitbart, wrote:

The non-profit works to show Christians how to “civically engage as part of their religious practice” but does not promote specific parties or candidates or earn money for political causes, according to the organization’s appeal letter to the IRS.

The non-profit first applied to become a 501 (c)(3) in late 2019. They received a rejection letter on May 18, 2021, from Exempt Organizations Director Stephen A. Martin saying the group “engage[s] in prohibited political campaign intervention” and “operate[s] for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the [Republican] party.”

Martin alleged in his letter that the group does not meet

requirements for tax exemption because biblical causes tend to favor the Republican Party:

Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations. The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican Party] and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3).”

The First Liberty Institute, which is representing Christians Engaged, sent an appeal letter to the IRS on June 16, saying Martin’s decision mischaracterizes the nature of the non-profit and infringes on first amendment liberties.

“From its religious perspective, Christians Engaged provides nonpartisan religious and civic education, focusing on encouraging and educating Christians to be civically engaged as a part of their religious practice,” according to the appeal letter.

Lea Patterson, who is representing Christians Engaged and serves as counsel with First Liberty Institute, said the decision from the IRS is strange and not in line with their past practices. Patterson said the IRS is discriminating based on religion.

“If the IRS going forward thinks that Bible teaching is Republican-affiliated, then that could endanger the tax-exempt status of many religious organizations — including potentially churches, which obviously teach the Bible with some frequency,” Patterson told Breitbart News.

In the denial letter, the IRS pointed out that the leadership of the organization is or has been heavily involved in other Republican organizations in the past. However, these affiliations are separate and do not intersect with Christians Engaged. President Bunni Pounds is a former congressional candidate, 15-year political consultant, and a motivational speaker. Vice President Trayce Bradford is the former president of Texas Eagle Forum – a statewide pro-family advocacy group, former prayer leader, and an organizer for Promise Keepers.

“We just want to encourage more people to vote and participate in the political process. How can anyone be against that?” Pounds said in a release.

In the appeal letter, Patterson pointed out that the IRS has approved 501(c)(3) status for several other organizations that behave almost identically to Christians Engaged. Most notably, the letter mentioned a non-profit Michelle Obama started called Civic Nation, whose “When We All Vote” initiative says its mission is:

[T]o change the culture around voting and to increase participation in each and every election by helping to close the race and age gap. Created by Michelle Obama, When We All Vote brings together individuals, institutions, brands, and organizations to register new voters across the country and advance civic education for the entire family and voters of every age to build an informed and engaged electorate for today and generations to come. We empower our supporters and volunteers to take action through voting, advocating for their rights, and holding their elected officials accountable.

“Denying tax-exempt status for Christians Engaged while recognizing the exempt status of other organizations who encourage civic engagement from different viewpoints demonstrates the IRS’s impermissible viewpoint discrimination,” Patterson said in the appeal letter.

Patterson also noted that Martin is not following protocol when he assumes that Christian values belong to one political party.

“The IRS states in an official letter that Biblical values are exclusively Republican. That might be news to President Biden, who is often described as basing his political ideology on his religious beliefs,” Patterson said.

Going forward, Christians Engaged must wait while the IRS goes through its official internal administrative appeal process over the next few months. If they are denied again, the IRS and Christians Engaged could end up in federal court, Patterson said.

“Our client’s hope is that they get approved and recognized as a 501(c)(3),” she said.

~ Grif




7 money benefits and tips for military families

(1) Free College for Your Spouse and Children

The GI Bill provides valuable education benefits for service members, covering the full cost of in-state tuition for up to four academic years at a public college, or up to $26,042.81 per year for four academic years at private colleges (adjusted for inflation each year). And if you serve in the military for at least six years and agree to serve four more, you can transfer your GI Bill benefits to your spouse or children. Your spouse can use the transferred benefits right away, but children must wait until you’ve served for at least 10 years, and they must use these benefits before they turn age 26. For more information, see the VA’s Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits page.

(2) No-Interest Loans and Grants for Family Emergencies

Every branch of the service has a military aid society that provides no-interest loans and grants for emergency expenses, including home and car repairs, moving expenses that aren’t covered by the military and disaster relief. Several of the aid societies offered special COVID-19 relief funds over the past year, paying for unexpected expenses such as extra child care costs while schools were closed, financial help when a civilian spouse lost his or her job and emergency travel expenses to visit sick relatives. Some also offer scholarships for military spouses and children. For more information, see the Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

(3) Job Search Benefits for Military Spouses

It can be difficult for military spouses to find a job when they have to move frequently, and the military offers special programs to help them with education, training and their job search. “There are several benefits available to a military spouse that are often overlooked, such as the MyCAA education benefits,” said Patrick Beagle, a retired Marine helicopter pilot who is now a certified financial planner in Springfield, Virginia. The Military Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) scholarship, for example, provides up to $4,000 of tuition assistance to help military spouses pursue professional licenses, certifications or associate degree programs. The MyCAA program also offers career coaches. See the MyCAA resource page for more information.

(4) Low-Cost Life Insurance for Your Family

Members of the military can get up to $400,000 in low-cost life insurance through the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program, and they can also get life insurance for their family members, including up to $100,000 of coverage for their spouses and up to $10,000 for their children. Premiums vary by age — $100,000 of coverage costs $54 for spouses under age 34. Dependents under age 18 can get up to $10,000 in life insurance for free (coverage can be extended for full-time students up to age 22). For more information, see the VA’s Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) page.

(5) Important Legal Protections and Documents

Members of the military can receive legal protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and some of the provisions can help their family members, too. For example, service members can terminate a residential lease if they receive permanent change of station orders or a deployment that will last for more than 90 days. They can terminate a car lease if they receive PCS orders or are being deployed with a military unit for 180 days or more. Also, the legal affairs office on base can help service members get essential legal documents to help protect their families, such as a will and guardian for their children. They can set up a power of attorney so your spouse or another trusted family member or friend can handle your finances while you’re deployed. A healthcare proxy can also be important to designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so yourself. Click here to find the nearest legal assistance office.

(6) Make Sure Your Beneficiary Designations Are Up To Date

It’s important to update your will and other legal documents whenever you have major life changes, such as getting married or divorced. And it’s also important to update your beneficiary designations for your life insurance and retirement plans, such as your TSP. These accounts pass to your designated beneficiary no matter what your will says. Make sure your selected family members will inherit this money if anything happens to you. If you joined the military when you were young, you may have originally designated your parents or another relative as your beneficiary; review the designations every few years and whenever you have life changes.

(7) Build Up an Emergency Fund

Even though a military career provides job stability, there can still be unexpected expenses — especially with frequent moves and deployments. Having an emergency fund can be one of the most important financial tools to help your family cover costs they hadn’t prepared for without landing in expensive debt; whether it’s extra expenses from moving, additional child-care costs during deployment or if it takes a military spouse longer than expected to find a new job in a new city (or if it takes the service member a while to find a job after leaving the military). If you receive any extra money, such as from a bonus or tax refund, use some of it to build up your emergency fund. “I know many military families are anxious to attack their debt when they get a tax refund or a bonus of some sort, but I always stress that it’s important to have a sufficient emergency fund in place first,” said Lila Quintiliani, program director for Military Saves. “An emergency fund of $500 to $1,000 can allow you to meet unexpected financial challenges and prevent you from getting deeper into debt.”

Source: GoBankingRates, May 18, 2021


Flush with tax revenue, some states are giving away free money

States that have surpluses in tax revenue set them aside as rainy day funds for  emergencies and future budget shortfalls.

Pew Charitable Trusts reports, May 17, 2021, that in the fiscal year that ended for most states in June 2020, in spite of the coronavirus lockdown and the start of a recession, many states’ rainy day funds were unchanged or even grew somewhat. Overall, rainy day funds nationwide totaled $71.6 billion—second only to the pre-pandemic record-setting total of $78.7 billion.

But there is a wide variation in how far each state’s rainy day funds could stretch—from enough to run government operations for almost a year in Wyoming to zero savings in Illinois, Nevada, and New Jersey. The median amount at the start of this fiscal year can cover 28.5 days’ worth of general fund spending, or 7.8%, meaning at least half of states have that much or more saved, while half have less.

Citing CNBC, GoBankingRates reports that 29 states are flush with extra cash, some of which plan to use the surplus on tax cuts or provide financial relief to residents. Those states include the following:

  • New York, New Mexico and Maryland are offering payments or tax credits to low-income families.
  • California has a surplus of $75 billion. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election, has proposed sending $600 checks to residents earning up to $75,000 a year. California households struggling financially might also get relief on past-due rent, utility bills and traffic tickets.
  • Idaho, with a $500 million surplus, is providing a tax rebate to residents who filed a 2019 tax return, in amounts of either $50 per person or 9% of taxes owed, whichever is greater. The state has also authorized a lower top tax rate.
  • Other states with surpluses that have either enacted or proposed tax cuts include Montana, Oklahoma and Iowa.


6 problems with Americans’ retirement

The average age of retirement for Americans is 66, according to a Gallup poll, up from age 60 in the 1990s. With Americans living an average of 78.7 years, that means a good 12 or more years in retirement.

If you want to keep living at or near the lifestyle you had when you were working, experts say you need between $500,000 and $1 million saved in order to finance your retirement years. That hefty chunk of change requires years to save up.

Below are six problems with the state of retirement in America:

  1. According to a TransAmerica Center survey, although 77% of American workers are saving for retirement through employer-sponsored retirement plans as well as other options, 33% of workers are without any real retirement savings plan.
  2. Of the 77% of Americans who have retirement plans, many just don’t have enough saved to actually fund their post-retirement life at the same level as their working years. The median retirement savings of Americans between ages 55 and 64 was just over $107,000, according to a 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). While this amount may sound significant, $107,000 translates into a $310 monthly payment, and only if it’s invested in an inflation-protected annuity.
  3. Gender gap: Men have over 3 times more retirement savings than women. Women’s average total retirement savings is just $23,000, whereas men’s average total retirement savings is over three times higher at $76,000. (CNBC)
  4. We can’t count on Social Security to fund our post-retirement life because Social Security is only guaranteed to be funded through 2035, according to Business Insider, after which time it may only be three-quarters funded. That means that (a) People already taking money from it may see a drop in payments; and (b) New retirees may have trouble getting any money at all. Part of the reason for this is an increase in older adults. By 2035, the number of Americans 65 and older will increase from about 56 million today to more than 78 million. Thus, more people will be pulling money from the total fund, but fewer people will be paying into it.
  5. There’s a 70% chance that an American age 65 or older will need long-term care at some point, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living and nursing homes:
    1. The median cost per month for an assisted living facility is $4,051.
    2. The median cost per month for a nursing home is even higher: $8,000.
    3. The above costs don’t include other healthcare costs. This is why many older adults opt for long-term care insurance in their 60s.
  6. There’s a growing trend of Americans who are dipping into their retirement funds early. The TD Ameritrade survey showed that 44% of Americans ages 40 to 79 have taken money out of a retirement plan, including as many as 53% of Americans 70 to 79. Doing so comes with financial penalties, so financial experts advise against this.

Source of the above: GoBankingRates

According to Personal Capital’s 2021 data (CNBC):

  • The top 5 states with the highest retirement balances are:
    • Connecticut: average retirement savings of $523,568
    • New Hampshire: $494,562
    • New Jersey: $489,664
    • Alaska: $489,070
    • Virginia: $468,579
  • The bottom 5 states with the lowest retirement balances are:
    • Utah: average retirement savings of $300,392
    • North Dakota: $310,766
    • Washington D.C.: $325,671
    • Oklahoma: $340,389
    • Mississippi: $340,894

What you can and should do to ensure a secure retirement, which is what people who become millionaires do (MarketWatch; CNBC):

  1. Delay gratification: The key to saving is your ability to postpone gratification. Do you really need that item or vacation?
  2. Get debt free, especially high-interest debts like unpaid credit balances.
  3. Begin saving as early as possible. The median age U.S. workers begin saving for retirement is 27. That means half of Americans begin saving when they’re 27 or older.
  4. Pay yourself first: Put money into a “Do Not Touch” Saving account before you have the chance to spend it. Conventional wisdom says to set aside 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund, but you should save at least 20% of your gross income each month. Even putting aside $20 per week into a savings account gives you more financial independence over time.
  5. Max out tax-efficient retirement funds like IRAs and 401(k).

See also “Cost of assisted living by state”.