The importance of homeownership, death of the check, and buh-bye Google Reader
U.S. News & World Report brings together studies discussing the importance of homeownership. Besides economic benefits, there are also social benefits. “Clearly, for most people there are distinct times to rent and own, based on income, marital status and other variables, and housing policy should provide a balance between these housing needs. However, given the ability of homeownership to generate family and community benefits, ensuring policies that facilitate sustainable homeownership must remain at the core of our nation’s housing policy agenda.”
U.S. consumers and businesses wrote 28 billion checks in 2009, a figure that’s been dropping about 1.8 billion a year. The deathrattle of checks started on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks in New York put a halt to the daily $6 billion worth of checks flying around in planes from coast to coast. New technologies are quickly making even today’s use of checks obsolete.
Google has decided to shut down its RSS feed reader, Google Reader, as of July 1st. While blogs and RSS are yesterday’s shiny new toy, lots of people still rely on Google Reader to condense their information stream to a manageable flow. Forbes had an interesting piece on the shutdown, reminding us that although the internet is a ‘user-driven’ medium, it’s still controlled in lots of ways by corporate tech companies. Looking for alternatives to Google Reader to migrate your feeds? There still are several feed reader alternatives out there.
As a both a biker commuter and car driver, I know the frustration of reading bike riders’ hand signals for turning and stopping. People seem to do just whatever they want, if at all. Is this guy turning or stopping? An inventor has taken some of the guesswork out of the process with his new prototype helmet with built-in stop and turn signals. It’s pretty cool if it’s not too heavy.
In order to make the game more relevant to his 3-year-old daughter, a father hacked into Nintendo’s classic video game Donkey Kong and reversed the roles of the hero and princess. Now Princess Pauline jumps, climbs, and dodges barrels to save Mario.
Twinkies will be back! Is this a good thing or not?
Veteran REALTORS®, the street in literature, ice cream banking, and talk like Inspector Gadget
With the flurry of articles harping on the financial, career, and general life failures of the Millennials, the Fiscal Times’ slide show 7 Recession Status Symbols gives this generation a much needed ego-boost. The sluggish economy gives rise to a socially and eco conscious, non-materialistic, and open-minded generation.
Koenig & Strey is helping veterans become REALTORS®. This program will provide assistance to qualified veterans, including real estate school and licensing fees, NAR dues, insurance and other fees and costs. Veterans are highly disciplined and used to overcoming obstacles—a perfect fit for real estate.
Sometimes you want to have a bit of background music but you’re not sure what you want to hear. Songza, one of Time‘s 50 best websites of 2012, will help you pick based on your mood.
The New Yorker recently noted how several recent novels, as well as some from the past, use real estate or a home as almost a character itself, representing the rise and fall of a family or neighborhood.
Tired of low returns on your savings account? How about interest in ice cream or coffee coupons? One entrepreneur in Pittsburgh has opened a community bank alternative as part of his ice cream parlor after being hit by multiple overdraft fees from his own bank. Customers who deposit $100 can earn $5.50 a year in coupons for ice cream, coffee or waffles. The bank also makes loans and cashes checks. However, there’s no FDIC insurance or other guarantees…
Flowers are not only beautiful to look at, but will boost your productivity. Having flowers at your desk and in your office can ease depression and negativity and promote creativity.
‘Handsfree’ is certainly a popular term in mobile phone technology, but a new invention goes to the other extreme. Hi-Call Gloves have a built in mic and speaker so you can look just like Inspector Gadget as you listen through your thumb and talk through your pinkie. Of course you’ll also look crazy, but at least your hands will be warm as you talk. Still in the development stage, the gloves use bluetooth technology so are compatible with most smart phones. And capacitive touch build in so you can text and surf Facebook without taking the gloves off.
Appraising Wayne Manor, sales tax holidays, and the rise of meadows
If Bruce Wayne decided to sell Wayne Manor, what would it appraise for? According to Movoto via Wired Magazine, a little over $32 million. They base this on the size, land and location (assuming Gotham is really Chicago). Note that this appraisal doesn’t include the Bat Cave and other goodies owned by the Caped Crusader: one would assume that Batman would seal off the Bat Cave in case he decided to ever return. And with the way Hollywood is recycling movies, you know he’ll be back…
“Don’t get sick in July” is a popular refrain in some quarters. The theory goes that July is the month last year’s interns leave and a new batch starts in most hospitals, making it the month with the least-experienced crew on board. But is it true? Time reviews the “July Effect” and comes to the conclusion…maybe. They also give advice on how you can counter any effect, even if there really is none.
Seventeen states will have sales-tax holidays this year — and 12 will fall on the first weekend of August, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. Georgia returns to the list of states offering tax breaks this year after canceling its sales-tax holiday in 2010 because of a budget deficit. See if your state is on the list here.
Green, manicured lawns are old school. Meadows have taken their place, says the Wall Street Journal. Meadows are a backlash against perfect lawns that use fertilizer, chemicals, lots of water and lots of energy. Landscape artists love them, but homeowners associations, not so much. Meadows can be a sore point with suburban homeowners associations, whose lawn codes often frown upon anything remotely weedy-looking. Meadows generally take about three years to be established, with the first year looking straggly and weedy. After more growth, you will need to mow only once a year.
A wrinkle-free approach to traveling. Hint: knits, wrinkle-resistant fabrics, rolling when packing, and wrapping in dry-cleaning bags can all help.
Lifehacker discusses clever ways Amazon can save you time and money. You can share your Prime Membership with four people and save on shipping costs, have valuable items shipped to a locker instead of waiting in the open on your front porch, and upgrade to a ebook after you have purchased a hardcopy book.
America is the land of the free—and that applies to many of the country’s star attractions as well. Make the most of your summer by visiting these famous spots around the United States; you won’t have to pay a penny to do it.
New Construction upturn, rent-to-own housing, and your brackets
Plenty of economists and executives have fallen on their faces predicting a resurgence in housing in the past five years. But while the jury is still very much out for the overall market, there is reason to feel hopeful about new construction.
Bank of America says it has begun a pilot program offering some of its mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners.
In today’s technological age, do business cards still serve a purpose? The Los Angeles Times thinks not. Younger people are shunning paper business cards as lame and wasteful and social media is the new replacement.
About 85 million people manage their professional networks with LinkedIn. Some 77 million smartphone users have downloaded the Bump app, which allows them to bump their phones together and instantly exchange contact information. Others carry a personalized quick-response code that smartphones can scan like a hyperlink. And, of course, there’s always Facebook, email and digital business cards. If they do take a paper card, some said they use a smartphone app to snap a picture of it and instantly digitize the card’s information. Then they toss it into the nearest trash can.
It’s something to consider when prospecting Generation Y clients.
Prepare yourself: on July 1, as many as 8 million college students will see their interest rates on federally subsidized student loans double, from 3.4% to 6.8%.
Are you more worried about your basketball brackets than your bottom line this month? March Madness can take over your life (and work) if you let it. Lifehack lists 5 tips to enjoy the madness while getting your work done.
So you undoubtedly heard the fairy tale about the turnip princess as a child. Or the one where the maiden escapes the witch by transformering herself into a pond. No? Well, probably that’s because researchers in Germany have discovered a trove of over 500 new fairy tales locked away in a vault in Bavaria. They were gathered in the mid-19th century by a contemporary of the brothers Grimm from the folktales of Bavarian peasants. Widely admired in his day, the collector Von Schönwerth’s work has mostly faded into obscurity. With this new find maybe we’ll be sharing the tale of the miserly farmer and a money-mill.
Wright dog house, sleep patterns, and cost-effective new cars
So what do you do when you have a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but you forgot about the doghouse? If you’re a 12-year-old boy in the 1950s, you write to the famous architect and ask him for a design to match your parents’ house. Wright complied and the dog house was eventually built.
I must be getting old, because Google’s reported Terminator glasses seem like an awful idea to me. Augmented reality is the flavor of the moment and it has its place, but this sounds like information overload.
Everyone’s tightening their belts recently, including the Tooth Fairy. Delta Dental’s annual survey found that the average loot left was down by 17% from last year to $2.10 per tooth.
Have trouble staying asleep at night? No need to stress. In fact, a full eight hours might be unnatural.
Tis the season…for auto shows. And if you’re in the market for a new car, it’s important to look at not only the sticker price, but also the total cost of ownership. Forbes gives some general car choosing advice as well as what are the cheapest 2012 cars in different categories.