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The www.FedPrimeRate.com Personal Finance Blog and Magazine

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Pandemic Prepared: My COVID-19 Pandemic Diary

Pandemic Prepared: My COVID-19 Pandemic Diary
Pandemic Prepared
Pandemic Diary
Just bought a bunch of supplies from Walmart:  Lysol, 91% isopropyl alcohol and toilet paper.

I order from Walmart so often that I decided to join their Walmart+ program.  Free (and faster) shipping, special discounts and other very nice perks.  There was a Walmart+ new signup promotion so I am paying an introductory $9.99 per month to be a Walmart VIP.

I live in a house with 3 strangers and 2 relatives.  My aunt, and her 22-year-old son, both got COVID last year, and both recovered.  I don't have it, and I never contracted it. So both of my housemate relatives have beautiful antibodies coursing through their bodies.  I don't.  Moreover, since I have a long history of bad reactions to vaccines. I am not inoculated. 

So I am quite obsessed with keeping everything -- and I mean everything -- 100% germ-free.  I spray / wipe doorknobs, refrigerators (we have 2 here), toilet seats, toilet bowls, faucets,  desks, chairs, tables, etc.  If I make any kind of contact with it, it suffers the full brunt of my germicidal ways, all day, every day.

My mother was taken by COVID early last year.  It was fast.  From diagnosis to death took 5 days.  She was in East Africa at the time.


What makes me really mad is that all too many are not taking this pandemic seriously.

I attended my nephew's wedding a few weeks ago.  Not only did I wear a mask, I also brought a brand new box of masks as backups, and to give away to anyone in need.

Out of all who attended, only 2 people wore a mask: me, and one other guest.  Some guests even looked at me like I was being ridiculous.  Yup.


And here's another reason why I shop at Walmart.com so often: I earn free gift cards in return for using the Microsoft Bing search engine.  I make my living online, and I'm searching all the time, so this is simply perfect for me.

>>> https://rewards.microsoft.com/ <<<


Masks and Gloves

Masks and Gloves


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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

This Is How Much It Costs To Drive A Car

This Is How Much It Now Costs You To Drive A Car
This Is How Much
It Costs To
Drive A Car
This story originally ran on >> KBB.com. <<

Owning a car in 2021 costs nearly $10,000 a year, according to AAA.

Driving is getting more expensive. This year, the average driver will spend $9,666 to own a car. That translates to $805.50 a month. The annual figure is $105 higher than 2020’s number, largely because cars are more expensive.

Americans Are Choosing More Expensive Cars

The average cost of the new vehicle studied is $32,903, nearly 5% more than last year. The change reflects a change in buying habits. AAA explains, “Models in the small sedan, medium sedan, medium SUV and hybrid categories averaged an increase in vehicle price of $3,064, led by hybrids as consumers opt for larger (hence more expensive) models in this category. Pickup trucks saw an increase of $4,684 (an average of 11%).”

The motoring club’s annual Your Driving Cost study reviews the cost of ownership for 45 car models. It includes the five bestselling vehicles of each of nine types. AAA then examines fuel, maintenance/repair/tire costs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation, and finance charges for each vehicle to find the average cost.

Depreciation Costs Most; EVs Save On Fuel and Maintenance

Depreciation is the largest cost buyers face, accounting for 40% of the total.

Fuel costs an average of 10.72 cents a mile, though that expenditure varies widely based on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Electric vehicle owners pay an average of 3.66 cents a mile traveled, compared with 15.81 cents a mile for pickup truck owners.

Maintenance and repair costs work out to 9.55 cents a mile. EV owners again pay less, averaging 7.77 cents a mile in maintenance and repairs. Medium sedans, somewhat surprisingly, have the highest average maintenance and repair costs, at 10.43 cents per mile.

It’s not all bad news. The cost of financing a car is down slightly, thanks to a drop in the prime lending rate. The average interest rate in 2021 is 4.12%, 1.056 percentage points lower than in 2020.

Minivans Dropped From Study, Subcompact SUVS Added

Americans’ car buying habits have changed, necessitating a change in the study. AAA dropped two categories of car – large sedans and minivans – “both of which no longer offer enough new models to be tracked.” In their place are subcompact SUVs and midsize trucks for the first time.
Car shopping recommendations

The rising costs led AAA to make a few recommendations to its members. Among them, it cautions against signing up for longer-term loans, even though these are growing in popularity. Recent research from credit rating agency Experian shows that auto loan terms are getting longer.

“Initially, a loan like this may be attractive to a buyer since it helps lower the monthly payment. However,” AAA warned, shoppers “should know that with long-term loans comes a period when the vehicle will hold less value than what is owed due to depreciation.”

They also recommend that shoppers consider buying a slightly used vehicle rather than a new one so that “the original owner has absorbed the majority of the depreciation cost, while the vehicle still has quite a few of the latest features and a manufacturer’s warranty.” Sales of certified preowned cars are growing even as overall used car sales have begun to slow.

Finally, AAA reminds consumers that a car purchase can be as many as three separate negotiations – one for the price of the new vehicle, another for the trade-in value, and possibly a third over financing cost. “Consumers should take their time and negotiate them individually,” the organization said.

This story originally ran on >> KBB.com. <<

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Monday, September 06, 2021

Unemployment Benefits Expire for Millions Without Pushback From Biden

Unemployment Benefits Expire for Millions Without Pushback From Biden
Unemployment Benefits Expire for Millions Without Pushback From Biden...

#FedPrimeRate #Jobless #Unemployment #UnemploymentBenefits #Benefits #UnemploymentAssistance


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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Liberty Mutual Offers A Free Natural Disaster Guide

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Tornado
www.FedPrimeRate.com: Tornado
Well folks, the season of natural disasters is here. The experts at the National Weather Service are predicting between 13 and 16 named storms, 8 to 10 hurricanes, and 4 to 6 major hurricanes from the Atlantic Ocean this year. Will the Gulf of Mexico deliver another Katrina this year? Where will the next monster Atlantic hurricane hit the Eastern Seaboard? Florida? South Carolina? New York?

And it's the wildfire / tornado season to boot. Everyone from California to Boston should be preparing for the worst that mother nature has in store this summer.

Free Liberty Mutual Natural Disaster Guide

The folks at Liberty Mutual, America's #7 home insurer by size, are doing their part to help Americans prepare for the 2006 natural disaster season. All of Liberty Mutual's home and car insurance customers--in all fifty states--will be receiving one of 3 regional editions of a natural disaster guide in the mail. And even if you're not a Liberty Mutual customer, you can still get the tornado, wildfire or hurricane edition of the guide for free by visiting http://www.libertymutualinsurance.com.

More details can be found below in the snippet from a recent press release:

"The 2006 hurricane season begins in one week, and homeowners from Corpus Christi to Coral Gables to Cape Cod hopefully are heeding the advice of government officials, disaster relief organizations, and insurers by taking actions to protect their homes and families against potential disaster.

This week and next, a helpful natural disaster guide will arrive in the mailbox of every Liberty Mutual home and auto insurance customer as a special four-page insert to the company's Liberty Lines safety magazine. The nation's seventh-largest home insurer is sending more than 3 million guides in three regional editions -- hurricane, tornado, and wildfire/earthquake -- to its customers in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and other at-risk locales.

Anyone who is not a Liberty Mutual policyholder can obtain a free copy of the guide specific to his or her area online at http://www.libertymutualinsurance.com.

'Preparation is the best defense against a natural disaster,' said Ted Gramer, Liberty Mutual senior vice president, Personal Claims. 'You can't change the path of a hurricane, tornado or wildfire, but you can certainly take action to minimize the impact these catastrophes can have on your family and your home.'

Liberty Mutual also offers important preparedness tips for eight types of natural disasters and weather-related damage in the 'Claims' section at http://www.libertymutualinsurance.com.

Ready to Assist

Liberty Mutual claims professionals at centralized call centers throughout the country are available 24/7 at 1-800-2-CLAIMS for customers experiencing hurricane, tornado, or wildfire/earthquake damage this season.

Liberty Mutual disaster claims teams will again be in the heart of damaged regions to assist customers. For hurricanes, experts in the company's centralized catastrophe claims center monitor emerging storms to identify the areas most likely to be hardest hit. Prior to a storm, Liberty deploys adjusters and mobile claims units equipped with the most advanced global positioning, communications, and estimating technologies into those regions to ensure prompt and accurate claims service and payments to affected customers.

About Liberty Mutual

Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group (http://www.libertymutual.com) is a leading global insurer whose largest line of business is personal auto, based on 2005 net written premium. As of December 31, 2005, Liberty Mutual Group had $78.8 billion in consolidated assets and $21.2 billion in consolidated revenue. Liberty Mutual ranks 102nd on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations based on 2005 revenue, and is the eighth-largest personal lines writer and fifth-largest commercial lines writer in the U.S. Liberty Mutual employs over 39,000 people in more than 900 offices worldwide.

Liberty Mutual sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance through its own sales force in more than 400 local sales offices throughout the country, two direct response centers, Prudential agents and the internet. Liberty Mutual is an industry leader in group sponsored voluntary auto and homeowners insurance programs, offering personal lines insurance through payroll deduction and direct billing to employees and members of more than 9,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups."

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Generation X Workers May Be Facing The Biggest Unemployment Crisis

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Generation X Workers May Be Facing The Biggest Unemployment Crisis
Generation X Workers
by CNBC's Karen Gilchrist

Gen X workers aged 45 and older may be bearing the brunt of a global unemployment crisis as the pandemic adds to existing challenges for older workers, according to a new report.

Rapid digital adoption during the pandemic has accelerated the automation of jobs and worsened underlying ageism, making it harder for mid-career workers to secure roles, according to the report from Generation, a non-profit employment organization.

In a global study entitled 'Meeting The World’s Mid-Career Challenge,' the firm found that entry-level and intermediate workers between the age of 45 and 60 face increased barriers due to biases among hiring managers, as well as reluctance among workers to learn new skills.

Generation’s CEO said the report had, for the first time, 'put a number on ageism.'

'This is a demographic that is absolutely in need and it’s very clear that once you reach a certain age, it just becomes much harder to access a job opportunity,' Mona Mourshed told CNBC Make It.

Ageist Misconceptions Prevail

The study, which was conducted between March and May 2021, surveyed 3,800 employed and unemployed people from 18 to 60 years old and 1,404 hiring managers across seven countries.

Despite the varied international jobs landscape -- from the U.S. to the U.K. and India to Italy -- the findings were broadly the same: 45- to 60-year-olds are the most overlooked employee bracket. Indeed, for the past six years, mid-career individuals have made up a consistently high percentage of the long-term unemployed.

Most notably, the research found that hiring managers across the board considered those who are 45-years-old and above to be the worst cohort in terms of application readiness, fitness and previous experience.

Among their top concerns were a perceived reluctance among older workers to try new technologies (38%), an inability to learn new skills (27%), and difficulty in working with other generations (21%).

It comes in spite of evidence that older workers often outperform their younger peers. Indeed, almost nine in 10 (87%) hiring managers said their hires who are 45 years and above have been as good as -- or better -- than younger employees.

Mourshed said the findings highlight underlying biases at play in the workplace.

'It is often the case that like identifies with like when it comes to "isms,"' she said.

For instance, she explained, there is a tendency among hiring managers to opt for hires in their age group. Meanwhile, C.V.-based interviews can make it hard for candidates to demonstrate their skills, she added.
Re-engaging a lost workforce

Training could provide one solution to the issue. Still, the report also highlighted a reluctance to pursue training among job seekers who are 45 years and above.

More than half (57%) of entry-level and intermediate-level job seekers expressed a resistance to re-skilling, while just 1% said training increased their confidence when looking for work. Often, that is due to negative experiences of education, conflicting personal duties, and lack of available programs and financial support for mid-career workers, said Mourshed.

However, she insisted that training can provide real benefits. In the study, almost three-quarters (73%) of career changers aged 45+ said that attending training helped them secure their new position.

It’s one of several solutions put forward by Mourshed as companies and governments grapple with workforce shortages. Other solutions she outlined include:

  • Linking training programs directly to employment opportunities and providing stipends to support workers who are 45 years and above, who are hesitant to engage in training.

  • Changing hiring practices to reduce potential age biases and better assess the potential of age 45+ job candidates by using demonstration-based exercises.

  • Rethinking current employer training approaches to make it easier to fill new roles with existing employees who are 45 years old and above, versus relying on new hires.

  • Improving employment data on a national level to help government organizations address the unique challenges of specific age groups.

  • Given that it is 2021, inter-generational workforces must be a reality that every company seeks to put in place,' said Mourshed.

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Eviction Moratorium Ends July 31, 2021: Could Millions Become Homeless?

www.FedPrimeRate.com: Eviction Moratorium Ends July 31, 2021
Eviction Moratorium

by Gary D. Halbert, of the Forecasts & Trends E-Letter

In March of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the so-called “CARES” Act) which included an eviction moratorium preventing landlords from evicting tenants who were delinquent in paying their rent. The moratorium was originally set to expire at the end of July 2020 but was extended four times to July 31, 2021. That’s this Saturday, and the Biden administration says it will not be extended further.

It remains to be seen how this all plays out. Some forecasters predict we’ll see millions of new homeless people wandering the streets over the next several months. Others think landlords will be reluctant to oust their tenants, especially if they believe those renters will soon get federal or state assistance with paying their unpaid rent. We’ll see.


In March of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the so-called “CARES” Act) which included an eviction moratorium preventing landlords from evicting tenants who were delinquent in paying their rent.

The national moratorium has been challenged in several courts and its expiration date has been extended four times. It is currently set to expire this Saturday, July 31, and federal officials (including President Biden) have indicated there are no plans to extend it again.

Throughout the moratorium, there has been confusion among renters and landlords regarding federal rent assistance. Landlords complain that some tenants have abused the moratorium by not paying rent, even if they have the money to do so. Tenants complain about the complicated paperwork and the long wait to receive rent assistance funds.

More than 11 million Americans -- 16% of renters -- are still behind on their rent payments, according to analysis by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. Some believe the numbers are far higher. And the moratorium ends this Saturday!

Congress approved more than $46 billion in rental assistance between last December and March for both tenants and landlords, but getting the money into their hands has proved hard for both the federal government and state and local agencies.

Exact amounts of assistance renters and landlords can receive depend on their income and where they live, but renters could get enough to cover rent from as far back as March 13, 2020, unpaid utilities and even, in some cases, future rent. The problem is, the assistance is just not getting to where it needs to go.

The Treasury Department claims that more than $1.5 billion in assistance was delivered to eligible households in the month of June alone — nearly triple the amount distributed since April. Administration officials point to this as a pivotal sign of progress in the program and an indication that once local communities establish a system for handling the money, they will be able to distribute it quickly. That’s good news but, again, the eviction moratorium ends in four days!

The White House announced last week it will convene a meeting of over 2,000 local officials, landlord and tenant advocates, legal experts and other participants from 46 cities to answer questions and raise awareness about emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention strategies tomorrow (Wednesday).

Yet how is that going to help with the deadline looming for landlords to commence eviction proceedings starting next week? I don’t know. With such a big pow-wow at the White House tomorrow, I would think there would be a lot of media coverage on this dire situation on the Wednesday evening news. But we’ll see.

Bottom line: There is a definite risk that millions of renters could be evicted and put on the street just ahead. Now I understand the eviction process is a complicated one, including in most cases going through courts. So, it’s not going to happen immediately after the deadline this Saturday. Yet this could be an economic nightmare over the next several months.

Finally, given the economic magnitude of the start of mass evictions for millions of delinquent renters, and the psychological impacts it would have on the country at large, I could see this throwing stocks into a major correction just ahead.

Hopefully, federal and state agencies can get up to speed muy pronto and assure landlords that the money is coming and convince most not to initiate the eviction process a few weeks longer.


by Gary D. Halbert, of the Forecasts & Trends E-Letter

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Quantitative Easing Explained

 Quantitative Easing Explained:

How Quantitative Easing Works

How Quantitative Easing Works

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