This month, Amazon raised prices on Prime subscriptions by $20 from $99 per year to $119. Some people aren't happy with a 20% increase which sounds like a lot but $20 isn't much in today's world -- probably the equivalent of a weekend dinner out. Because of the change, a friend of mine of Facebook asked, "Is it even worth it?" My answer is a pretty emphatic yes, especially when the Prime membership can effectively become free.
After the historic low volatility seen in 2017, the first four months of 2018 have felt especially turbulent even though the market has largely moved sideways. The 24 hour news cycle has been louder and gives negative news more amplification. Worries this year have focused on the potential of trade war with China, rising inflation and interest rate hikes. While these are certainly legitimate concerns, we suggest to our clients and readers that you often need to turn off the news and simply focus on the fundamentals. The good news is that fundamentals from US corporations are still improving and point to a bull market that should continue to grind higher for the rest of the year.
Spam phone calls have been a nuisance for years, but over the last several months, it seems like there's been a surge of them on our cell phones. Just yesterday, the FCC imposed a record fine of $120 million on a Florida man who is accused of placing nearly 100 million robocalls during a brief 3 month period as part of a "telemarketing scheme." Robocallers have made their calls even more deceptive by masking their spam with local, genuine looking phone numbers. Last year, the FCC voted on a rule that allows phone companies to block robocallers who use fake caller ID numbers to conceal their actual identities. So far, this has proved ineffective and Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman, says that an estimated 2.4 billion robocalls are placed to Americans each month.
Every newborn baby should enter this world healthy. The March of Dimes is dedicated to doing their best to make sure that happens. That's why Runnymede Capital Management proudly served as a corporate sponsor of March of Dimes' March for Babies.Runnymede's Director of Research Chris Wang was honored to serve as the Chair for the Morris County walk for the 2nd consecutive year. The festivities took place at the County College of Morris in Randolph, NJ on April 29th. We walked with hundreds of other families in the community event to raised over $180,000. The Runnymede team raised $8,888!
This is my 3rd article for #FinancialLiteracyMonth (Using cash over credit is costing you tens of thousands of dollars and Tips and tricks to teach your children about money) and today I'm inspired by the financial bloggers writing about why financial health is important, especially for students. Virtually all students understand physical health as they want to look good so they can get a hot date. Unfortunately, financial education is almost entirely ignored in high school or college.
This is my second post during financial literacy month and I'm going to take on cash vs credit. One popular financial radio host, Dave Ramsey, has been a vocal critic of credit cards saying to never own one because you will spend more because it is plastic (strangely he advocates for debit cards instead). I don't believe this is the case but of course I strongly advise only using a credit card under two conditions. One: you are going to use it to replace your cash spending and no more. Two: you are going to pay the balance off in full every month and on time. If you are going to just pile up debts that incur huge interest payments every month, then this post is not meant for you.
In 2004, the US Congress officially recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month as a way to improve knowledge and understanding of financial concepts such as budgeting, debt, saving and investing. These are crucial concepts to learn, however, there is very little formal financial education for our children. According to the Council for Economic Education, only a third of states require high school students to take a personal financial class in order to graduate. So it is no surprise that one in five 15-year-olds in the US lack basic financial literacy in 2017 according to the Program for International Student Assessment.
This week on Andy's Inspired Money podcast, he spoke with Wendy Steele on the power of generosity and giving. Wendy is the founder and creator of Impact 100 which brings transformational grants to communities across the United States and Australia. Since its inception, Impact 100 has given away more than $45 million to worthy nonprofits.
In a recent US poll, 88% of respondents said that they had never heard of Alibaba. If you are one of those who don't know the Chinese e-commerce giant, then you can have a quick primer with this epic infographic from 16best.net. Here are a few interesting facts before you dive in:
- Alibaba has a market capitalization of $511 billion as of 3/16/18, just a hair less than Facebook's $535 billion.
- Alibaba has 528 million mobile active users.
- Interestingly 11.1% of Alibaba's visitors are from the US.
- CEO/Founder Jack Ma set up Alibaba with $60k that he borrowed from 18 people. At the end of 2017, the company employed over 50,000 people.
- The company sold over $25 billion in just one day on Singles Day.
The northeast has had a brutal last couple of weeks. Yesterday we saw a third nor'easter bring more snow to the area. The first had wind gusts of 50mph and knocked power out at our office for a week. The second brought close to 2 feet of snow and took down many trees and power lines. Many homes in my area were without power for 5+ days. I was one of the unlucky ones losing power on Wednesday night. Temperatures in my house dropped steadily down to a low of 46 degrees by day 3. The food in the refrigerator was a lost cause but the biggest worry was freezing pipes causing significant damage. Three of my surrounding neighbors had full-house generators and I'm sure many people that lived without power are now seriously considering installing one even at the cost of $8-10k.
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