Archive for March, 2012

U.S. workers: Will we ever be able to retire?

All the talk about the need to plan and save for retirement may be falling on deaf ears as American workers struggle just to make it to tomorrow, a new survey suggests.

The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found only 13 percent of American workers feel very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

“Many workers have more immediate worries than saving for retirement,” the study said. “Forty-two percent identify job uncertainty as the most pressing financial issue facing most Americans today, and just 28 percent are very confident that they will have paid employment for as long as they need it.”

That may help explain why many respondents have virtually no savings for retirement. Sixty percent said the total value of their household’s savings and investments was less than $25,000, and 30 percent said they had less than $1,000 saved. Only about a third participated in defined benefit …

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Little Leaguers return big donation from strip club

The Lennox Little League in California was in financial straits. The cost to rent baseball fields from the local school district had spiked, and restrictions placed by the school district on its main revenue source, the sale of concessions, put the 40-team league on the brink of collapse.

Then an angel appeared. A very unlikely angel.

A, um, gentleman’s club.

The owner of the Jet Strip offered a $1,200 donation to get the league through its tough times. The league gratefully accepted.

But then news of the source of the contribution spread, and spread.

League officials had second thoughts. Finally, after a lengthy meeting to discuss the pros and cons of taking money from someone in an industry of questionable reputation, they decided to return the donation.

In its report, the Daily Breeze talked with the league’s top official, who explained.

“We kind of looked at the whole situation, and we all feel it’s the right thing to do,” league President Roberto Aguirre told the …

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Internet fraudsters used Western Unions at Publix

A trio of native Romanians who used Western Unions in Publix grocery stores as part of their scheme to defraud Internet car buyers were sentenced to prison Tuesday.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta said Ionut Budulan, 28, Silviu Malea, 30, and Silviu Leoveanu, 32, also sold other merchandise over the Internet using false advertisements to lure victims.

They carried out the fraud between at least November 2010 and June 2011 and had partners in Romania, prosecutors said. The vehicles and other merchandise were also advertised in U.S. newspapers and trade magazines.

According to U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates and other information presented in federal court in Atlanta, buyers who responded to the ads were told to send money through Western Unions mostly in Publix grocery stores and the money would be placed in a third-party escrow account until the purchases were finalized.

The buyers were assured that their money would not be released to the seller until …

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Atlanta employers say they plan to boost hiring

One in five metro Atlanta employers plans to add workers in the second quarter, a new survey found.

Of the 140 employers interviewed for the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which is conducted quarterly, 20 percent said they expect  to hire more employees from April to June.

Another 69 percent of the group said they anticipate maintaining their current workforce levels. Only 5 percent said they expect to reduce staff, while 6 percent said they are not certain what they will do in terms of hiring.

The result of those numbers is a net employment outlook of 15 percent, up from 12 percent in the first quarter of this year, and from 11 percent in the second quarter of 2011.

Beth Herman, spokesperson for Manpower, a global staffing agency, said, “Atlanta companies are hiring. It’s a different climate.”

For its survey, Manpower measures anticipated hiring activity in sectors including durable and non-durable goods manufacturing, transportation and utilities, wholesale and retail …

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Rush for iPad slowing preorder shipments

Three days after unveiling the latest version of its highly anticipated iPad, Apple has pushed back its preorder shipment date because of huge demand.

The tablet, starting at $499, now has a shipment date of March 19 at the earliest instead of March 16, according to PC Magazine’s website. reported Saturday. Apple also is limiting preorders to two tablets.

For those who don’t want to wait for preorders to arrive, the new iPad hits store shelves this coming Friday, and if past experience is any indication of future performance, lines will be impressive.

PC Magazine reports that Best Buy is taking pre-orders for in-store pickup.

The shipment delay isn’t unusual, as PC points out:

Last year, after the debut of the iPad 2, wait time for the second-generation tablet quickly slipped to 4-5 weeks. By April, Apple’s Tim Cook said the company was facing the “mother of all backlogs” with the iPad 2.

New features on the iPad include a Retina display that promises to make …

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Yay! Airline overhead bins to get bigger

Good news for air travelers is so rare these days, it’s worth highlighting when it occurs.

Major airlines say they are expanding the size of their overhead bins, the better to accommodate larger carry-on luggage pieces.

According to the Associated Press, Delta Air Lines and United Continental are the latest carriers to replace or expand the size of their bins. Also, Boeing is designing aircraft with the carry-on bag problem in mind.

“The size of the carry-on has increased … They are stretching the limits of their bags,” said Scott O’Leary, managing director of customer solutions at United Continental Holdings Inc.

About 87 percent of passengers bring bags on board.

That’s no surprise. No one likes to pay baggage fees, so passengers try to cram as much as they can into a bag they can stuff into the overhead for free.

As anyone who’s flown in recent years knows, those overheads can get pretty tight. With space at a premium, passengers and flight attendants are left to battle for …

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Wells Fargo confirms new checking fee

(Updated 1:40 p.m) Free checking is becoming a thing of the past for more Wells Fargo customers.

A Wells Fargo spokesman confirmed Thursday that former Wachovia basic checking customers who became Wells Fargo customers after the two banks merged two years ago could face a new monthly fee in June.

Spokesman Jay Lawrence confirmed that Georgia is one of six states where the new fee is being imposed. The other states are New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut.

“It is affecting former Wachovia customers who had a free checking account before we changed to Wells Fargo in the fall of 2010,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the new $7 monthly fee can be avoided by maintaining a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or a total monthly direct deposit of at least $500. If either of those requirements is missed, the fee kicks in.

The spokesman said the change will affect “a relatively small number of customers,” but he could not provide the number or …

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Is spring break travel to Mexico safe?

The state of Texas is advising residents to avoid traveling to Mexico during spring break because of the threat of drug cartel violence, kidnappings and carjackings.

The Mexican government, however, says it’s safe to vacation in Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and other resort destinations and that few tourists are exposed to the violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in recent years.

The U.S. State Department also says that while there is a real threat of danger to American tourists along the U.S.-Mexico border, there are no travel advisories in effect for places such as Cancun and other resort areas. The agency, however, also advises travelers to “lower your profile” and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention. Americans should also travel only during daylight hours and avoid travel in remote areas.

What do you think? Do you feel safe enough traveling to Mexico, especially to popular resort destinations?

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Did you graduate in 4 years? Most Georgia students don’t

Did it take you longer than four years to graduate from a Georgia public college or university? If so, you’re in good company.

Only 1 in 4 — 24 percent –  of entering freshmen in Georgia’s public four-year colleges get a degree within four years, according to a new database compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education that looks at nearly every U.S. college.

Okay, time for bragging rights,  but not much bragging. The University of Georgia has by far the best completion rate in four years — 51.3 percent, compared to just 35.1 percent for Milledgeville’s Georgia College and State University, No. 2 on the list. Georgia Tech is third-highest at 32.9 percent.

Six years seems to be the ticket: Statewide, about 52 percent of students manage to complete a four-year degree within six years. Nearly 80 percent of students at both UGA and Georgia Tech are able to graduate in six years. It’s about 60 percent for Georgia College, according to the Chronicle’s …

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Georgia ranked fifth in underwater mortgages

Georgia ranks fifth in the nation among states “sunk by underwater mortgages,” according to one accounting.

Corelogic’s Negative Equity report states that the mortgages on 11.1 million homes _ 22.8 percent of the nation’s 48.7 million mortgaged  homes _  are underwater. Using that information, 24/7 Wall St. put together a list of ten states with the biggest percentage of underwater mortgages.

The report shows that 33 percent of homes here are underwater, with a total property value of $306.59 billion and mortgage debt outstanding of  $252.81 billion.

Georgia also tied for having the fifth-largest percentage of homes in foreclosure or delinquent for 90 or more days, at 8 percent.

So, who’s worse than us?

Nevada, followed by Arizona, Florida and Michigan.

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