Insight News

Monday
Dec 22nd

Business

Payday lending debate heats up: Racial disparities in minority lending cited by CRL but denied by Advance America

Before a packed audience of publishers, representatives of the payday lending industry and the Center for Responsible Lending debated whether this small dollar loan was helpful credit or a debt trap. The engaging January 22 debate, part of the recent National Newspapers Publishers’ Mid-Winter Conference held in Charlotte, North Carolina drew candid comments from presenters and publishers alike.
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Earning higher interest – with a checking account

People stash their money in safe havens such as savings accounts, Treasury Bills and Certificates of Deposit for a variety of reasons. It could be fear of losing money in the stock market, the security of knowing their deposits are government-insured or, with bank accounts at least, being able to quickly withdraw funds when needs arise.

In return for that convenience and security, however, interest earned usually doesn’t keep pace with inflation.

When the economy was cooking a few years ago, 5 percent interest rates and higher on long-term CDs were not uncommon. But when the recession hit and the inflation rate began dropping, so did interest rates. These days, traditional savings accounts commonly earn just a fraction of 1 percent interest, while many CDs and T-Bills aren’t much better.

So how can you earn more interest on insured savings these days? Would you believe a checking account?

Although checking accounts usually earn little or no interest, in the past few years a product called high-yield reward checking has gained in popularity. These accounts often pay much higher interest rates than regular checking or savings accounts – or even long-term CDs in the current market.
In addition to paying higher interest, financial institutions offering these accounts typically will refund each month a certain amount in transaction fees charged by other banks for using their ATMs. For smaller institutions, this helps make up for not having their own extensive ATM network.

However, high-yield checking accounts usually come with restrictions that may include:

•    A minimum number (usually 10-15) of monthly debit card purchases.
•    Direct deposit (like a paycheck) and/or automatic debit transactions (e.g., monthly gym membership dues).
•    Issuing electronic statements only.
•    There may be a cap on account balances eligible for the high yield (commonly $25,000 or less); over that cap, the rest may earn a much lower rate. (There usually is no minimum account balance required, as there often is with regular savings accounts.)
•    Accounts may be limited to local customers only, although many are available nationally.

If you don’t meet all requirements during a particular month, the interest rate paid for that month could drop substantially, but typically will bounces back once you again meet all conditions.

Keep in mind a few other factors when considering a high-yield checking account:

•    Interest rates are variable, so watch for notification of changes.
•    Compare any fees side by side with those charged on your current account.
•    Vigilantly track your balance to ensure it covers all debit card transactions; otherwise, overdraft charges could erase any interest earnings.
•    Make sure the bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation so that up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution will be insured. Search “Bank Find” at www.fdic.gov.
•    Similar coverage is provided to credit unions by the National Credit Union Administration. Search “Find a Credit Union” under the “Data and Services” tab at www.ncua.gov.

Numerous websites track banks and credit unions offering high-yield accounts including www.highyieldcheckingdeals.com, www.checkingfinder.com and www.bankingmyway.com.
You won’t get rich from the interest earned on these accounts, but in this economy every extra dollar helps.

Jason Alderman directs Visa's financial education programs. Sign up for his free monthly e-Newsletter at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/newsletter.

Crime is only one career option: Apply your skills with a better end in mind

Murder.  Now, there’s a career.  One good day on the job and you can look forward to a quick promotion to prison; leave your family, friends and freedom behind.  Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?  But are criminals’ minds really less brilliant than anyone else’s?
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Summit Academy expands into St. Paul: offers training, free transportation to residents

Summit Academy OIC is taking its mission of empowering individuals to become educated, employed and contributing members of the community to St. Paul by partnering with a variety of nonprofits and providing free transportation for residents interested in participating in weatherization, construction and healthcare training at its Minneapolis facility. Summit has plans to open a St. Paul location in 2010.
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Questions you need to ask your lawyer

At the Law Office of F. Clayton Tyler P.A. people walk through my front door every day to put my decades of criminal defense experience to work for them. When considering which cases I choose to accept, I look at a number of important questions. Just as you want to find the right lawyer to handle your case, most attorneys want to make sure that they can make a difference in the cases they take.
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Career Plan Q & A: What does your next job look like?

You cannot have it all (where would you put it?) but you can have all of what matters most to you in your next position. Where are you willing to compromise and to what degree?  Which areas are critical must-haves? Which aspects of work are so important to you that missing these would force you to walk away from a job? 
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What's Your (Online) Name? Consistency helps streamline profile online

I like to help job seekers by doing a quick internet search on their names and showing them what employers are learning about them online.  Here is what one person called, “a completely weird question” regarding finding oneself online:
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