Earning more than that may make you feel more successful, but it won't make you happier.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how money really can buy happiness -- if you spend it right. A big-screen TV isn't a ticket to happiness, but a vacation might be. Giving your money away can boost your well-being, and so can investing it in time with your family.
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A new study from Princeton University hangs a price tag on that happiness: $75,000 (.pdf file). That's the annual household income that gives you the most joy for your buck. People with incomes below that magic number report less happiness, overall, than those at or above it.
The bad news: He got laid off. The good news: It happened AFTER he'd cleared his consumer debt.
I feel very bad for Smithee, a staff writer for the Consumerism Commentary personal-finance blog. With no warning he was laid off from his job at a small Web design agency.
In a post called "Laid off, 2010 edition," Smithee wrote that the job loss was particularly frustrating because he had only recently -- and for the first time in his life -- managed to zero out his credit cards.
"I was just learning what it was like to walk around without worrying about paying all my bills on time," he lamented. "I was about to start seriously saving money and/or paying down loans faster than expected. I was going to be in a position to be more than a couple of months away from homelessness. I was stable, and I had plans."
Here's where I think Smithee errs in his thinking:
New report details how large banks finance the payday loan industry.
The weak economy is making it harder for big banks to lend money, and that's driving cash-poor consumers into the arms of unscrupulous payday lenders, right?
Well, not quite, says a report that finds big banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America are only too eager to lend billions of dollars to some industries like, oh, the payday lenders.
"While small businesses and individuals have struggled to get affordable loans in the wake of the taxpayer bailouts, payday lenders have received new and amended credit agreements from Wall Street," says the report.
Great American Dine Out includes coupons; plus deals for free museum admission and BOGO smoothies.
Next week is the Great American Dine Out, a restaurant fundraiser to help fight childhood hunger in America. As part of the promotion, which is Sept. 19-25, restaurants nationwide are offering discounts, coupons or other incentives to encourage donations to Share Our Strength.
Among this year's participants are Joe's Crabshack, Corner Bakery Cafe, McAlister's Deli, Boston Market, T.G.I. Friday's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bueno, The Palm Restaurants, Legal Seafoods, P.F. Chang's and First Watch. You can search for participating restaurants in your area here.
If you don't use your credit card number while shopping online, no one can steal it. That's the idea behind virtual credit cards.
The best way to protect your credit card number online might be to use a fake one.
Well, it's not actually fake -- it's "virtual." Yes, it's legal. It's also smart, and may be free depending on your bank.
- Quick quiz: Estimate your credit score
Virtual credit cards have been around for a while now, and the idea is simple. You can use the financial backing of your real credit card -- or debit card, or checking account -- to make all the purchases you normally would on a computer, but without using the card itself. Instead, you use an alternate, virtual credit card number, which is linked to your real one, but protected by computer encryption and other state-of-the-art security measures.
What can this 'luxury snack' teach us about hype and value?
Last week, Britain's Daily Mail reported that celebrity chef Martin Blunos had created a very unique sandwich with a menu price of £110. For those of you here in America, based on current exchange rates, that comes out to approximately $168.80.
According to Blunos, who happens to be a Michelin-starred chef, "We Brits are known to love our cheese sandwiches, and here's one that not only comes with a royal price tag but is fit for the banqueting table."
I know what you're thinking. Did he really say cheese sandwich?
I don't know about you, but if I'm going to pay $168.80 for lunch -- not counting my beer, plus tax and tip -- I want something a bit more substantial than a cheese sandwich. In fact, I would demand that my sandwich be loaded up with a couple pounds of thinly sliced Kobe beef. I'd also want a bag of chips and a lobster tail on the side with drawn butter.
And a pickle spear.
Should McDonald's share the blame for obesity and bad heart health, or are individuals solely at fault?
When public health advocates want to take aim at unhealthy fast food, McDonald's has become the target of choice. McDonald's is to fast food what Wal-Mart is to a retail industry that pays rotten wages and offers negligible benefits.
It's far from being the only offender, but it's the one that's singled out as a purveyor of too many unhealthful, fattening foods and not enough nutritious choices.
The latest group to take on Mickey D's is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is airing TV ads showing a pudgy dead guy on a gurney -- the victim of a heart attack, no doubt -- gripping a partially eaten burger.
You can give to others even when you're broke. Here's how.
For some people, charity and philanthropy can seem like stretching an already-tight budget even further. "If I donated $100 to the soup kitchen, I'd have to start using the soup kitchen," the thinking goes.
Money can be a very tight resource, but it's far from the only resource you have. We all have many things we can share with others. It only takes a moment of thought or effort to make a real difference in someone else's life.
Here are 20 things you can donate to make the world a better place without blowing up your budget. Even better, many of these ideas will help you clean out your closets and de-clutter your home a bit.
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