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Saturday September 23rd 2017

What Would Happen if the Government Really Shut Down?

A last minute piece of legislation may extend the budget negotiations in congress and put off the need for shutting down the government. Unfortunately, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are still widely divided on many issues related to the budget. The longer both sides argue over budget line items, the higher the risk of the government shutdown because it will run out of funding for this year. The current extension should buy lawmakers another two weeks to work things out before a shutdown would be necessary.

Key Disagreements over Budget Items

Republicans have presented up to $100 billion dollars in spending cuts for this year’s budget. Their representatives have agreed to lower that number to $61 billion in order to get the budget passed to avoid a government shutdown. The democrats feel that the proposed cuts would be incredibly harmful to the fragile economic recovery that has just begun. In fact, the president has said he would veto a budget that included some of the planned massive cuts. If someone doesn’t come up with a new idea soon, a shutdown may become inevitable.

Previous Government Shutdown Statistics

The United States has gone through government shut downs 15 times in the last 40 years. The longest shut down lasted for 21 days, while the shortest was just three days. During each shutdown, hundreds of thousands of government employees took furloughs until the budget was passed. Since the government doesn’t keep track of independent contractors working for them, there are no statistics to show how many independent contractors were out of work during the shut downs. Government agencies that provide national security and health services remain open during a shut down.

Typical Impact on the General Public

In general, most government services remain closed during a shut down. Regular citizens will notice that health hotlines are not available. The application process for owning a gun or gaining a liquor license through the Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco administration will slow dramatically. Bankruptcy cases going through the system will stall until the new budget is passed. National parks and monuments will closed to the public. Foreigners who are waiting for passport and visa approvals will be put on hold. Military veterans who rely on federal agencies for services will also have their services cut off during the shutdown.


Never Pay for Music Again!

With the online options for free music these days, it doesn’t make much sense to pay for your music anymore. You can tell a website your favorite song and it will play only songs you love. You can make a playlist of your favorite songs and play it for free. You can even watch music videos for free. Given the options available, you can enjoy a lot of great music without spending a dime.

Online Streaming Music

Services like Pandora and Grooveshark offer streaming music to your desktop 24 hours a day. Each service puts a different spin on the musical experience, though. With Pandora, you choose a type of song that you like and then the service will put together a playlist of songs that have similar music styles. Pandora won’t allow you to listen to a specific song immediately, but it is a great way to find new bands that you will probably love. It’s amazing how well the site nails it when creating a good playlist.

Grooveshark playlists are just the opposite – you select every song that you want to hear. Once you create a playlist, Grooveshark will show you the playlists of other listeners who chose the same band you did. You can discover some great new music by exploring the other bands on another listener’s playlist. The downside of this service is that they don’t have every song, but chances are they have the one you are looking for.

The YouTube Option

Almost any song and artist you can name has been uploaded to YouTube. You can find official videos from the music label, slideshows created to accompany the songs, or remakes by random YouTube users with a wide range of talents. If you want to listen to several songs in a row, you can create a playlist that will automatically play the next video when the first one is finished. It can take some time to create a few hour’s worth of music, but it is fun to browse through the different video interpretations of some of your favorite songs for free.

Don’t Forget the Library

Not every library is online, but your local library is home to a wide range of music that you can borrow for free. Many libraries still offer vinyl records for purists, as well as cassette tapes and DVDs. Borrowing an album from the library is a great way to get free music.


Put a Leash on It! Top Five Tips for Controlling Your Debt

Americans are facing an unprecedented level of debt. From credit cards to second mortgages, the majority of the country is in over its head. Here are five ways to get a handle on your debt and keep it under control.

Understand Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

There is such a thing as good debt. Investing in a mortgage or purchasing a car are ways that you can increase your credit rating and purchase expensive items that you need. Make sure you research the best rate options before you sign on for a large loan. Bad debt that should be avoided is usually in the form of high interest rates from credit cards. Try to pay for daily items with cash, and never buy anything with a credit card that you won’t be able to pay for by the end of the month.

Organize Spending Habits

Have a plan for your money. All of those small items that you pick up during the week are inexpensive one at a time, but they add up quickly. Make a realistic budget that includes all of the things you expect to purchase on a regular basis – including that danish with your coffee on Friday mornings.

Always Pay More than the Minimum

If you are carrying a revolving balance on your credit cards, always pay more than the minimum every month. Usually the minimum will only cover your interest payment on the balance. In order to make some headway into the principle balance, you will need to pay more than the minimum requirement.

Be Ready for Emergencies

It is important to be prepared for unexpected emergencies. Most financial planners recommend that you keep a savings account that is large enough to cover your expenses for three months. This safety net will provide you with the money you need in an emergency without having to resort to credit cards or other financial pitfalls.

Pay Debt Down in the Proper Order

How you pay your debt off is important. Begin by paying off the loans or credit cards that have the highest interest rate. Your debt will drop much faster as you reduce the balances on those loans because the interest that you are paying will be reduced right away. A good strategy is to make larger payments on one high interest loan and at least the minimum on your other loans. As you pay one off, you can start on the next one in the list.