Category Archives: Current Events

Obama’s New Stimulus Plan and YOU.

o_stimulusb4a4cf1c-b4ac-4afe-9d99-caa0dea07075Here’s a brief breakdown of how the new stimulus plan could help you!

  • First-time homebuyers who purchase their homes before December 1, 2009 would be eligible for an $8,000 tax credit, and people who buy new cars before the end of the year can write off the sales taxes.
  • College students-or their parents- are eligible for tax credits of up to $2,500 to help pay tuition and related expenses in 2009 and 2010.
  • We can expect to see about $13 extra in our weekly paychecks, starting around June, thanks to the new $400 tax credit to be given through the rest of the year. Couples would get up to $800.
  • Those receiving un-employmet benefits this year wouldn’t pay any federal income taxes on the first $2,400 they receive.
  • For those who have lost their health insurance as a result of losing their job, the government will now pick up up the tab for 65% of the cost of continuing insurance through the COBRA plan for the first nine months while you look for a new job. COBRA is typically very expensive, often over $1,000 per month so this is a huge cost savings for job seekers.
  • Homeowners who add energy-efficient windows, furnaces and air conditioners can get a tax credit to cover 30% of the costs, up to a total of $1,500.

Information from the Associated Press.

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2009 Grammy Looks

2009-grammy-awards-best-dressed-6 One of my favorite looks of the night was Carrie Underwood’s gorgeous nude colored gown. I absolutely love her makeup and simple hair style. Her highlights and white teeth are so bright that she seems to glow. Carrie did an awesome job performing live too!

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Katy Perry. Hmm…not sure what to say here. Love her lip color, and would like to know how to get my hair to have those cool 40’s waves. The dress…well, I think it would be a better look if it was not that 80’s pink color. An off white, black or red would be better suited for such a busy ensemble. I do like the slight mermaid bottom but overall I think there is just wayy too much going on here.

I will say this odd look is better than her performance costume which consisted of green flats and a short Las Vegas show looking get-up with sequences and glimmering fruit all over it. Katy seemed to struggle with moving around the stage and singing at the same time. After seeing her fashion and live performance, I would put her into the one hit wonder category.

48_mia I have mixed feelings about performing live at the Grammy’s on your due date, but either way, go M.I.A.! There’s no doubt that MIA’s first born is one lucky baby to have such a hip Mom who had the “guts” to get up there and show the world how proud she was to be a mother. It was nice to see someone with a little meat on her bones too, by the way!

17_jordin_sparks I’m totally in love with Jordin Sparks but am breaking up with this dress. Not a good look for anyone, let alone someone who is as tall as Jordin. It looks a bit like a huge tablecloth to me. I especially don’t like the cut-out piece that comes up beyond the neckline, nor do I like that it is a full length gown. I do have to say I’m sad that “No Air” didn’t win Best Pop Collaboration. Jordin is totally deserving and talented.

12_kim_kardashian2Kim Kardashian. If dating football players and being bootylicious is enough to get you to the grammy’s then you might as well do it up. Although I have NO clue why Kim was at there, I think her Grammy’s look deserves an honorable mention. She pulls off a classy, elegant, classic movie star look. I love her glamour earrings, her pulled back Audrey Hepburn hair style, eyelashes and the gown she’s wearing.

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Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus did an awesome job on their live duet performance AND with their classic black Hollywood gowns. Miley Cyrus has been criticized for not dressing her age, but I thought her Grammy gown was perfect for her. I loved Miley’s hairstyle as it showed her fun personality and youth. I found myself checking out her hair color and highlights, and think they are a great fit for her skin. They seem to have a warm honey tone and the little bit of blonde highlights add dimension. As for Taylor, I’m getting a bit bored of her small spiral curls look but I suppose it does fit her style and “first love” type of songs. I think this dress definitely gave her a bit more credibility as someone who is here to stay. I really liked the way her eyeliner was done too. It almost changed the shape of her eye. I’m a huge fan of the “cat eyes” with simple eye shadow and understated lips. She looked more like a woman- good job girls!

2009-grammy-awards-best-dressed-15Jennifer Hudson. My favorite girl of the night, and of the last two years really, Jennifer did an unbelievable job on her live performance. She also won best R&B Artist. Her acceptance speech was short, to the point and so real. She was teary, nervous and seemed to prepare her words on the fly. I enjoyed how authentic it was. I hate saying anything even slightly negative about J-Hud, but I must say I didn’t totally understand her dress choice. I know these types of dresses are super trendy right now, but the top looked a little too napkin-esque for me. I think the dress would be ok at any event except for the Grammys. Great job Jennifer. You are an inspiration to the world and evidence that the American Dream really can come true!

Confessions of a Former Sub-Prime Lender

So most of us are to the point where we can’t handle hearing one more negative news story on the recession, failing banks or the bail out.  Personally, I think we had it coming to us. 

 

I think back to my first job after college where I was selling sub-prime mortgages for one of the largest and most reputable financial institutions in the world.  My experience there is the perfect example of why I feel this way. 

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar, sub-prime lending is when financial institutions give loans to customers with less than ideal credit scores.  These customers are considered high risk and get loans at a higher rate than someone with good credit. 

 

At my job, we were trained to believe that we were doing something great for our customers!  That 12% interest rates plus 3 points (3 points = an upfront cost of 3% of the mortgage amount added to the loan balance) on mortgage refinances was totally normal.  I found this interesting considering the mortgage rate at that time was about 7% with no points. 

 

I was told that giving a hardworking customer a loan for more than their house was worth was GREAT because we were paying off their $70,000 in credit card debt and reducing their monthly payments.  One time, I did a mortgage refinance which used the equity in the customer’s home to pay off their brand new Cadillac Escalade, because the $800 monthly car payments were “really killing them”…(Um hello, do you REALLY need an Escalade?!?)

 

Of course we mainly closed Adjustable Rate Mortgages (aka ARM’s) that I knew the customers wouldn’t be able to afford once the rate adjusted upwards.  We took ALL the equity out of their homes which they had worked their whole lives to pay for which means they’d have no nest egg for the future. 

 

I could go on, but I think you understand why my time at this company lasted only a short time.  Although not all the mortgages I closed were as extreme as the examples above, I couldn’t sleep at night knowing what I was doing to make a living.  Even as a ripe newbie, something just didn’t feel right.

 

Turning on the news almost 3 years later shows that my gut feelings were right.  Americans and their big corporations had this coming.  Credit was way too easy to get, it seems like almost anyone could walk off the street and get a loan- even if they couldn’t pay for it.  The people giving out these loans had no stake in whether or not they were paid back because, in many cases, mortgages were bundled together and sold off like commodities to other huge financial monsters. 


How did I end up at a job like this?!  Well, I had no clue what I was getting into from the interviews.  NO clue.  But that’s another story.  I will say that I was also told that I would “definitely” make $70,000 my first year and that this was the hot new career path for sales-oriented finance majors. 

 

So maybe it’s not just the big companies who are responsible for the economic downturn:  people like me and my sub-prime customers are responsible for the economic downturn too. 

 

I went into this job solely for the opportunity to make a lot of money at age 22: greedy and unnecessary? Maybe.  Were my customers being responsible by allowing themselves to buy Escalades they couldn’t pay for and racking up sometimes over $100,000 in credit card debt and hoping someone could fix their mistakes?  Maybe.

 

No one forced me to take that job, nor my customers to make their excessive purchases.  For some reason we, as Americans, felt the need to prove something to keep up with the “Jones’“.  Yes, technically financial institutions let us take it too far but in the end, we were the ones making those decisions.

 

And now the bubble has burst and everyone wonders what happened.  The good news is that even the wealthy can feel the effects of being greedy this time.  The recession is affecting everyone and I think it has caused all social classes to take a step back and re-evaluate their basic needs and values.  I hope America learns a lesson from this rather than allowing the cycle to repeat in the future.