Finance News

Cut Your Car's Gas Consumption

 

Maybe buying a more fuel efficient automobile isn’t in the budget right now, but there are still ways you can cut your car’s gas consumption. Consider these tips courtesy Consumer Reports magazine.

  • Slow down. Reducing your speed from 75 to 55 mph can increase gas mileage by 1/3 in a large vehicle.

  • Drop the drag. Still got the roof-top carrier on the car? Take if off. The aerodynamic drag reduces fuel efficiency by 6 mph.  Jam luggage into the car instead of on the roof if at all possible.

  • Stop the Stop-n-Start. Along with not making your passengers nauseous, you’ll also boost mileage by at least 2 miles per gallon.

  • Premium or Regular? Almost all the car manuals say use premium or super gasoline to improve performance. Most cars do fine on regular. Give it a try – if your car starts pinging, it’s telling you to switch back to the pricier stuff. If not, stick with regular.

Brown Bag Savings

 

Do you brown bag or buy your lunch? The answer could make a significant difference in the size of your bank account! Too busy to make a lunch before you head to work? How does $3600 sound? That’s what you could save in just four years if instead of buying that $10 lunch everyday, you ate out only half as often every month. 

Want to see what your savings could be? Check out Bankrate.com’s lunch calculator.  

Tax Help

It’s the other inevitable in life – taxes. Got a question and you want the ‘official’ answer? Call the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has actual humans standing by to answer your tax questions from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. For Personal tax questions, call 1-800-829-1040. 

For Business Tax questions call 800-829-4933. For the IRS website listing of frequently asked questions, click below.

Hire Me!

 

Unemployment is 7.6% in America and that's not counting the millions who are 'underemployed' or have given up. In a month, a new wave of job seekers will hit the streets, though most are already pounding the pavement. They are the graduates of the Class of 2013. I found the following discussion on the PBS website to be enlightening and encouraging. 

There are lots of good links to be found so share this with the new grad in your life!

Husband Hunting at College?

Find your “MRS” while at college? I disagree.   Princeton University Alumna Susan Patton made headlines recently with her suggestion to coeds at her alma mater that they take a good look at the husband prospects on campus with them. “You will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you,” she warns. The absolutes with which Ms. Patton (Princeton Class of ’77) states her case are exactly the reason why this debate rages on. Her letter took me back to that infamous Yale study of some years ago in which data on marriage was extrapolated to suggest that a 40-year-old single woman had a better chance of being kidnapped by terrorists than finding a man. Then, as now, a debate ensued over when a woman should pick a mate. It suggests desperation on the part of single professional women that I, in more than thirty years as a professional, have simply not witnessed.

We all look at life through a different prism. How different my life would be if I had heeded Ms. Patton’s advice and married a young man I met at the University of Georgia. Would I have had the flexibility to pursue a television career and see where it took me? While Mr. UGA, whoever he might have been, would probably been happy to begin life with me in Atlanta, where I had my first reporting job, I am quite sure he would have been reluctant to pull up stakes and head to Chicago and later New York.  Would he have understood all those nights I was at the office editing pieces until the wee hours of the morning? Would the reporting journeys that stretched into day not have stretched his understanding of ‘my career?’ Would I not have been obliged to curtail my own ambitions and dreams as a journalist to accommodate whatever career goals he had? It’s easy to see how difficult, if not impossible my own career trajectory would have been if I had taken the journey as a couple instead of a singleton.

In fact, it was because I was single that I was able to not only pursue my career, but also my personal interests. It was my wish to see the country of my great-grandparents that led me to Sweden where, wouldn’t you know it? I was introduced to the couple through whom I met my husband. He couldn’t be more different from the young men I knew in college.

Yes, it’s wonderful to share the journey with someone special and the last twenty-five years of my own professional life have been made richer by having my terrific husband by my side. But it has not been without accommodations on both of our parts.  There were assignments and job opportunities I declined or didn’t pursue because of the impact it would have on our family.  But I did so with no regrets. Having been unencumbered in the first decade of my career enabled me to be nimble and jump on opportunities when they presented. By the time I was 28, I was the only woman solo anchoring a network news broadcast. I don’t know that that would have happened if I had been married.

I never went through life ‘looking’ for the right man. I’d always been told when you met him, you would ‘just know.’ Lousy advice, I thought at the time – but it turned out to be correct. I’m not convinced that if you ARE searching for the ‘right man’ you’ll necessarily find him. As proof, I refer to the poster that hung in my college dorm room: “Happiness is like a butterfly,” it read.  “The more you pursue it the more it eludes you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and softly sit on your shoulder.”

Indeed, when I wasn’t looking, that ‘right man’ turned up. So ladies of Princeton and elsewhere, look around for love if you like, but embrace with both arms the opportunity to live life to its fullest. Take that great education and love of learning you have and see how far it takes you. You might be surprised what you encounter along the way… including a husband.

Journalism

 

Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart hit the nail on the head. He said, "Journalists spend too much time worrying about what they have the right to do, and not enough time about what is the right thing to do." It ought to be emblazoned on a banner in every newsroom in the nation.

The First Amendment is an amazing piece of verbiage. "Congress shall make no law..." Right off the bat, the framers of the governing document of America spelled out that the ability to freely express oneself in public discourse, whether in speech, writing or worship could never be taken away by any future Congress. But that right doesn't give those of us in the news business a carte blanche to report anything about anyone any time we feel like it. In my opinion, the dearest rights also come with responsibility. Too many times in the years that I've been a reporter, I have felt some of my fellow journalists were a bit cavalier in the way they did their work. Sometimes playing fast and loose with the facts, sometimes playing unsuspected citizens when it made their story 'better.' No names no situations here - just my own thoughts.

Alongside Justice Stewart's quote, there ought to be a reportorial version of a Hippocratic oath: "First do no harm." Long after we've packed up our cameras and tripods and headed back to the studios to work on another report, the people we've interviewed, the folks whose stories we've told, will long remember our visit. It has always been my hope that while our interview subjects will always remember when the 'TV people' came, it shouldn't be an unhappy memory or one filled with regret.

I recall once interviewing a young girl for a story I did for CBS. The victim of a stalker, her case had been the impetus for amending stalking laws in her state to include minors as victims. As there were many states back then that didn't consider children the possible victims of stalkers, her case was national news. Before I met her, she was interviewed by another reporter who it appeared had seemed quite concerned about camera angles and the composition of shots. The experience left the girl and her family apprehensive and not so sure about reporters in general. I felt I had to show her that reporters didn't have horns before I could begin to ease a fearful little girl and her family into an interview about their scary situation.

I suppose that story helps to explain a change I've seen in the public's regard for the press over the years. There are regular surveys about where journalists are held in comparison to other professionals. Usually we rate somewhere around used car salesmen. But when I was studying Journalism at the University of Georgia, it was different. It was post-Watergate, a time when people not only acknowledged the press's important role in exposing the Watergate crimes, they applauded it.

Soon after, important laws that made it easier to both the press and public to keep tabs on government actions were passed: Sunshine laws that opened government meetings to members of the public, open records legislation allowed the public to know what the government knew about them. If a reporter went to jail to protect a source - and they did - the public was behind them. Now I sense the reaction is more "good riddance."

How does one change that now? I tend to think it requires a little action on both sides of the equation. Members of the public who are distrustful of the press today, the ones who find themselves saying, "There ought to be a law" should consider for a moment what America would be like without the protected speech of our First Amendment. Remember the right to freely speak, worship, assemble, etc. are rights belonging to all of us, not just those who call themselves reporters. Without that protected right, which totalitarian country would we most resemble?

When you see a print or broadcast or cable outlet that doesn't practice what you consider good reporting standards, don't patronize them. And tell your friends why you aren't watching or reading those guys anymore.

By the same token, if you do see a place where you believe reporters are honestly trying to get the facts on all sides of an issue, guided by editors and producers who are sober and reasoned in their approach - embrace them - and tell your friends about the great source for news and information that you've found. Let the bosses at the paper or the network know you like what they do. Their addresses are easy to find - and I can assure you those letters do get read.

I sometimes wonder if the biggest complainers are even really watching or reading? If you are reading this, you're on the internet, which may be a primary source of information for you. At the end of 2005, 50 million people a day go to the internet for news. I love the immediacy of the net. From my news computers at work, I have long been addicted to knowing everything that is going on. Now, thanks to the net, I get RSS emails when really big news breaks. To keep up with pop culture, I see the fluffy stuff on the main page of the portals I check out. Even if I don't click through to the story, I see the blurb on the latest stupid stunt of some star and feel I am 'plugged in.'

What these tools provide is surface knowledge. It's a million miles wide, but only a quarter-inch deep. I know what is going on but I won't have any idea why or how. As more and more of us begin to rely on the net for information, whether for reasons of convenience or frustration with mainstream media, I fear a large group of us will be lulled into a false sense of 'news awareness.' Thinking we possess knowledge and therefore power, in fact the power will lie with others who truly have a command of what's going on in our world. This comes at a time when mainstream media, especially print, are cutting the resources being devoted to news. For example, in 1990, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper had 46 reporters assigned to cover local news. Today (as the paper has just been part of the sale of a group of papers by Knight-Ridder, the parent company), that figure is cut in half: only 24 reporters are on the local Philly beat.* Cutbacks are so plentiful in the newspaper business that the Dean of Columbia University's Journalism school said "newspapers risk early extinction."

And what could the media do? Besides take the 'do no harm' oath and remember Justice Stewart's admonition to 'do the right thing,' I think we've been hugely harmed as a group by the sloppiness of a few. The debacle at CBS News with its story about George W. Bush's National Guard service harmed the entire profession, not just the individuals at CBS News.

Years ago at a journalism convention I saw a bumper sticker for sale: If your mother says she loves you, check it out. There is simply no excuse for poorly sourcing a report. None. The CBS situation has been investigated six ways from Sunday, so my two cents worth aren't necessary. Reporters and the bosses who oversee them must be sure they've got their facts straight.

For those of you concerned that when you hear, "Sources say." in a news report means the guy three cubicles down said it, the good news is on average, 40 % the network evening newscasts have four sources per story.** That is pretty impressive sourcing and should be reassuring to those who fear the networks play fast and freely with their stories.

 

I believe also that the public's confidence in what we in the media do could be enhanced if we pulled the curtain back a bit and let folks in on how we do what we do. Trust me folks, it's not like visiting a sausage factory which I am told would insure you would never eat sausage again in your life! Rather, having done television news in one form or another for 27 years, I believe doubters would be pleasantly surprised by just how much care, attention to detail, and time goes into each news report.

 

Most reporters are in the business because they fervently believe the press plays an important role in a free society. Very few make Katie Couric salaries. The University of Missouri's review of Labor Department statistics found in 2000 that TV reporter salaries ranged from $14,650 to $25,375. That's an average of just over $18,000. Obviously, they're not in it for the money!

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