Tuesday, March 29, 2011
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Teaching Your Children About Financial Matters
In today's economic times, it is more important than ever to instill sound financial principles in your children. There are a variety of web sites that offer instruction, games, literature, and guidance for helping your children grow up to be financially savvy. In this article, I will outline just a few web sites available that are geared toward educating children on financial matters.
You can find more helpful guidance and resources available on other web sites, such as the MyMoney.gov web site (select the "Youth" topic on the My Resources menu) and the FDIC web site (select the "Financial Education & Literacy" topic on the Consumer Protection menu).
In reviewing the mass of information available, one of the most basic principles I came across is that it is never too soon to teach your children to start saving for the future. By starting young and instilling sound financial principles in our youth, Americans can help make all our financial futures brighter.
The Boys of Summer
Forget the groundhog. Never mind the thermometer. Pay no heed to the calendar page. There is only one true indicator that summer is right around the corner.
Baseball is an icon for the American spirit. The teamwork, competition level and perseverance necessary to endure a sweltering, 165-game season are all standards we strive to achieve.
The sport can trace its roots back to 1845. Small towns formed teams, clubs more organized sprung up in larger cities. They all adapted their own set of rules.
Alexander Cartwright wanted to formalize a list of rules so all teams could play equal. Most of his rules are still in place today. Cartwright was the true father of baseball, despite the legend of Abner Doubleday.
The first recorded amateur baseball game took place at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, NJ. Cartwright's Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City lost to the New York Baseball Club.
These amateur games became extremely popular in the northeast. In 1857, a meeting of twenty-five teams gathered to discuss rules and the future of the game. The following year they formed the National Association of Base Ball Players, the first organized league.
The game's growth was stalled by the Civil War. Yet Union soldiers brought their love of baseball to other parts of the country, creating a post-war growth explosion. By 1868, there were over 100 clubs in the new league.
With growth came added expenses. The teams now had to solicit donations or sponsors to afford road trips. Some even began to charge admission to their fans.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings took a different route. They decided to become a professional team in 1869. As such, they could hire paid players rather than field amateurs. They recruited the best from all around the country, completing their first season with a 65-0 record. The idea quickly caught on.
The National Association became the first professional baseball league in 1871.
The sport's modern era dates back to 1903 when the first World Series was played. The American League Boston Americans beat the National League Pittsburgh Pirates to become the first World Champions.
Baseball is the only professional sport to record every single thing every player does on the field - and off. During Mark McGwire's seventy home run season, he commented that the media even counted each cup of coffee he drank every single day.
Phillie fans have high hopes about the upcoming season. This year may finally resolve the question of whether good pitching can stop good hitting or if it's the other way around.
The debate has ravaged almost as long as whether the chicken or the egg came first.
Off-season moves brought four of baseball's elite pitchers together on one team. Predictions are already swirling with the Mighty Phils topping the list of favorites to take the crown.
Yet those pre-season expectations can also prove to be a bad omen. And baseball players are a notoriously superstitious lot. Obstacles are already mounting along their path to the World Series.
This is a team that's remained fairly intact, making it to the World Series two of the past three seasons. They've played well together, and they're aging together.
Aging leads to injuries. Four-time All Star second baseman Chase Utley will begin the season on the disabled list with no timetable for a possible return.
Closer Brad Lidge will also watch Opening Day festivities from the bench, awaiting results from today's MRI to determine his availability. These two players are of such high caliber that they can't be easily replaced.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt will have to carry this team. Can it be done? Can four superstars be the backbone of a championship contender?
Ask the Miami Heat. Skeptics doubted whether the Big Three of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh could carry this team to the NBA playoffs. They worried that egos would interfere with performance.
Despite the hot and cold streaks they exhibited this season, they're number two seed for the playoffs with five games to go in the regular season.
So bring it on, opposing teams. Come at us with your best and let the Fightin' Phils show the baseball world how it's done. Play ball!
Consumer confidence was reported to have dropped in March to 63.4 from 70.4 according to the Conference Board. This survey of consumer attitudes on current economic conditions and expectations covers 3,000 households every month. This decline is the first after a steady increase in consumer confidence since September 2010 when there was a low for the year of 50. High food and really high gas prices are more than expected, dragging consumer confidence down.
The survey now shows more people expecting their income to fall over the next six months compared to those expecting to see an increase. Three months ago, optimists outnumbered pessimists. Those saying jobs are currently hard to get rose two tenths to 44.6 percent. However, this seems to be in direct contrast to the improvement in jobless claims.
Also showing contrasting positive results this month is the State Street Invest Confidence Index. This survey measures the actual levels of risk in investment portfolios, rising to 98.3 in March from 97.8 in February. A reading of 100 is neutral with neither an increase nor decrease in risk allocation. The more risk investors are willing to take implies a greater confidence in the economy.
People in the U.S. also had less income but spent more in February. Consumer spending went up from .2 percent to .7 percent while personal income dropped from 1 percent to .3 percent. The more recent attitude reports could actually foretell a change in spending in March. As a whole, consumers do need to spend in order to pump money back into the economy.
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