Millions, Billions, Trillions: How to Make Sense of Numbers in the News

National discussions of crucial importance to ordinary citizens – such as funding for scientific and medical research, bailouts of financial institutions and the current Republican tax proposals – inevitably involve dollar figures in the millions, billions and trillions. Unfortunately, math anxiety is widespread even among intelligent, highly educated people. Complicating the issue further, citizens emotionally undeterred by billions and trillions are nonetheless likely to be ill-equipped for meaningful analysis because most people don’t correctly intuit large numbers. Happily, anyone who can understand tens, hundreds and thousands can develop habits and skills to accurately navigate millions, billions and trillions. Stay with me, especially if you’re math-averse: I’ll show you how to use school arithmetic, common knowledge and a little imagination to train your emotional sense for the large numbers shaping our daily lives. Estimates and Analogies Unlike Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, scientists and mathematicians are not exacting mental calculators, but habitual …

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FINRA Rules Take Effect to Protect Seniors & Vulnerable Adults from Exploitation

Financial abuse of seniors is devastating to those who should be enjoying their golden years. A 2015 report by True Link Financial says seniors lose more than $36 billion a year to financial abuse, and the financial industry has been looking for ways to address the privacy and safety concerns of older investors. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a self-governing private body, issued a rule to help that went into effect in early February. “The bottom line for this new rule is to install safeguards to either prevent potential financial exploitation or stop ongoing exploitation of impaired seniors,” says Clifford Caplan, a certified financial planner at Neponset Valley Financial Partners. With widespread reports of huge amounts of funds being siphoned off from unsuspecting investors’ accounts, FINRA has finally stepped in establish a mechanism and procedure to stop this abuse, he says. Here’s what you need to know about the new …

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Basic Facts of Life Insurance

Thinking of a future without ourselves in it, is not the most pleasant of thoughts. . .however, it is necessary to do so for the financial security of your family. Life insurance may provide you with the opportunity to bequeath money to your survivors, while at the same time, provide the necessary liquidity to help pay estate taxes. This, in turn, may allow your assets to pass undiminished to your heirs. As a general rule of thumb when purchasing life insurance, it is usually thought that you would need eight to ten times your salary in order to take care of your family’s needs. A more accurate formula may be as follows: Determine the amount needed to help meet specific needs such as providing funds for college, paying off your mortgage, or giving money to an heir. Label this figure as [A]. Determine the amount necessary for the support of …

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State of the Housing Market in 2018

State of the Housing Market in 2018: Location, location, retirement As we look toward 2018, the housing market continues to show few signs of slowing down, although there are hints of developing headwinds. While it’s true that housing prices are very much geographically based, across the entire U.S., experts are predicting home prices to rise about 4.5 – 5.5% this year. Let’s examine a few facts and predictions: Current State of Housing  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, home ownership stands at about 64%. As the end of 2017, the median home value in the United States was $203,400. From 2012-2017, the median sales price of existing homes has increased by the following amounts: 6.6%; 11.4%; 5.8%; 6.5%; 5.1% and 5.8%. The low inventory has driven up the median home value by 48% since 2011. Existing home sales are projected to be unchanged at about 5.6 million after rising 6.3%, 3.8% …

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