Friday, February 28, 2014

"10 Reasons You'll Never Be Rich" by Cameron Huddleston, Kiplinger's

10 reasons you'll never be rich

Eliminate these bad habits and you'll be on the road to financial prosperity.

Bad habits

You don’t have to inherit money, win the lottery, or even be the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffett to become financially secure. With a little bit of knowledge and a lot of hard work and discipline, almost anyone can accumulate sufficient wealth -- and perhaps even great wealth -- to enjoy the creature comforts of life.
But how do you get ahead if you’re living paycheck to paycheck? The fact is, no matter how much you earn you could be creating your own barriers to financial success without even knowing it. Here are 10 things you might be doing that are preventing you from achieving prosperity. Change your ways and you could find yourself well on the way down the road to riches.

You spend too much

Plenty of Americans live beyond their means but don’t even realize it. A 2012 Country Financial survey found that more than one-half of respondents (52 percent) said their monthly spending exceeded their income at least a few months a year. Yet only 9 percent of respondents said their lifestyle was more than they could afford. Of the 52 percent who routinely overspend, 36 percent finance the shortfall by dipping into savings; 22 percent use credit cards.
Blowing your entire paycheck (and then some) each month isn’t an ingredient in the recipe for financial success. Neither is draining your savings or running up card balances. To rein in spending, start by tracking where the money goes every month. Try to zero in on nonessential areas where you can cut back. Then create a realistic budget that ensures you have enough to pay the bills as well as enough for contributions to such things as a retirement account and a rainy-day fund. Our household budget worksheet or an online budgeting site can help.

You save too little

If you’re like most folks, your savings habits could use some improvement. The personal savings rate in the U.S. is just 4.9 percent of disposable income, down from a high of 14.6 percent in 1975. Only about one-half of Americans (54 percent) say they have a savings plan in place to meet specific goals, according to a 2013 survey commissioned by America Saves, a group that advocates for better saving habits.
Saving needs to be a priority in order to build wealth. Begin with an emergency fund that can be tapped in the event of an illness, job loss or other unexpected calamity. A 2012 survey by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority found that 56 percent of individuals say they have not set aside even three months’ worth of income to handle financial emergencies. Once your emergency fund is well under way, you can divert small amounts toward other goals, such as buying a home or paying for college. These six strategies can help you save more, no matter your income.

You carry too much debt

Americans have $846.9 billion in credit card debt alone. That’s $7,050 per household, according to, a Web site that analyzes financial products and data. If you’re only making minimum monthly payments on $7,050, it’ll take 28 years and cost you $10,663 in interest before you’re debt-free, assuming a 15 percent interest rate. And that only holds true if you don’t make any additional charges.
Some debts can lead to financial success -- a mortgage to purchase real estate, a credit line to start a business or a student loan to fund a college education -- but a high-interest credit card balance usually doesn’t. Pay down credit cards with the steepest rates as quickly as possible. Putting $250 per month toward that same $7,050 debt will retire it in three years and save you about $9,000 in interest versus making minimum payments.

You pay too many fees

Late fees, banking fees, credit-card fees -- the amounts might seem insignificant when taken individually. After all, an overdue library book or Redbox DVD might only run you a dollar. But if you’re regularly paying penalties and fees, these charges can quickly eat a hole in your budget. Consider this: The average bank overdraft fee is $32.20, according to, and the average charge for going outside your ATM network is $4.13. Late-payment penalties for credit cards can climb as high as $35.
So how do you avoid pesky fees? Read the fine print so you understand fee rules, and stay organized so you avoid breaching those rules. Here are 33 common fees you can avoid -- or at least reduce -- with just a bit of effort. With the extra cash, you can pay down debt or boost your savings.

You pass up free money

Would you ignore a hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk? Of course not. You’d bend over and pick it up. So why are you passing up other opportunities to get free money? If your employer matches employee contributions to a 401k but you’re not participating in the retirement plan, then you’re passing up free money. If you let rewards points from loyalty programs or credit cards expire, then you’re passing up free money. If you claim the standard deduction on your tax return when you qualify for itemized deductions that could lower your tax bill even more, then you’re passing up free money.
Believe it or not, there might even be free money out there that you forgot about -- or never knew of in the first place. There are more than $41 billion worth of unclaimed assets ranging from old tax refunds and paychecks to forgotten stocks and certificates of deposit being held by state agencies, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Do a search on to find out if there are unclaimed assets that belong to you.

You neglect retirement

It’s easy to focus on the present -- the bills you have to pay, the things you want to buy -- and assume you’ll have time in the future to start saving for retirement. But the longer you wait, the tougher it will be to amass a sufficiently large nest egg. For example, if you wait until you are 35 to start saving for retirement, you'll have to set aside $671 a month to reach $1 million by age 65 (assuming an 8 percent annual return). But if you start at age 25, you'll need to save just $286 a month to hit $1 million by the time you’re 65.
Even if you’re creeping closer to retirement, it’s not too late to start putting away money. In fact, Uncle Sam makes it easier for procrastinators to catch up on retirement savings. If you’re 50 or over, you can contribute up to $23,000 annually to a 401k (versus $17,500 for those younger than 50). The contribution limit for older savers to traditional and Roth IRAs is $6,500 a year (versus $5,500 for everyone else).

You buy high and sell low

Does this sound like your investing strategy? You hear about a stock that is soaring, and you want to get in on the action, so you impulsively buy. But soon after, the stock starts tanking. You can’t bear the pain of watching your shares decline further in value, so you immediately sell at a loss. As a result, you’re wasting money rather than building wealth.
Unfortunately, many investors buy high and sell low because they follow the herd blindly into the latest hot stock. You can resist the urge to go with the crowd if you adhere to smart investing techniques. One such technique is dollar-cost averaging, a simple system of investing at regular intervals no matter what the market is doing. While it doesn’t guarantee success, it does eliminate the likelihood that you're always buying at the top -- plus, it takes the guesswork and emotion out of investing.

You buy everything new

New stuff is nice, but it’s often not the best investment. Take cars. Estimates vary, but some experts say a new vehicle loses 30 percent of its value within the first two years -- including an immediate drop as soon as you drive off the dealer’s lot. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average vehicle is worth 44 percent less after five years.
If you’re not comfortable buying something that someone else has owned, get over your hang-up because you’re missing a big money-saving opportunity. Many pre-owned items can cost up to 50 percent to 75 percent less than the price you’d pay if you purchased them new. From designer jeans to college textbooks, here are 11 things that you should consider buying used because you often can find them in good or almost-new condition at a fraction of the price.

You retire too early

An early retirement is a dream for many, but calling it quits if you’re too young has several potential drawbacks. For starters, you could incur a 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty if you tap certain retirement accounts, including 401k's and IRAs, before age 59½. (There are exceptions.) You can claim Social Security as early as age 62, but your benefit will be reduced by as much as 30 percent from what it would be if you wait until your full retirement age, which falls between 66 and 67 depending on your year of birth.
Health care is another big issue. You must be 65 to qualify for Medicare. In the meantime, without access to an employer-sponsored plan, you might have to pay a lot more out of pocket for individual coverage until you’re eligible for Medicare.
And speaking of health, the longer you live in retirement, the more likely you are to outlive your nest egg. Let’s say you make it to the age of 90. A $1 million portfolio evenly split between stocks, bonds and cash has a 92 percent likelihood of lasting until you turn 90 if you retire at 65, according to Vanguard. But retire at age 55 and the likelihood drops to 66 percent.

You don't invest in yourself

This might be the single biggest obstacle on your path to riches. If you’re not investing in continuing education, training and personal development, you’re limiting your ability to make more money in the future. “Your own earning power--rooted in your education and job skills--is the most valuable asset you'll ever own, and it can't be wiped out in a market crash,” writes Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Editor in Chief Knight Kiplinger in "Eight Keys to Financial Security."
Consider taking nondegree courses online to boost your knowledge of your field or enrolling in a graduate program. If you don’t have a college degree, see our picks for best college values or check out these four alternatives to a four-year college degree. Just keep in mind that some college majors (think finance, computer science or nursing) lead to more lucrative careers than others (sorry, arts and humanities lovers).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Badass 1970s-Style Batman Posters

By Judy Berman on 

As with most superheroes who have stood the test of time, each era tends to get the version of Batman it needs (or deserves). Most recently, for example, we experienced a “dark,” conflicted Batman. And while the psychological realism of that incarnation certainly added some welcome depth to the character, the Dark Knight was noticeably less fun than many of his predecessors. So it’s something of a relief to see comic-book artistFrancesco Francavilla give Batman and his various villains a ’70s B-movie makeover in a series called Batman 1972 (spotted via Design Taxi). Click through to see Francavilla’s pulpy posters — Catwoman is especially delightful — and follow him on Tumblr to keep up with his pop culture-obsessed illustrations.
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla
Image credit: Francesco Francavilla

10 Rave Classics That Took the Pop Charts

10 Rave Classics That Took the Pop Charts

The Great EDM Boom has finally carried over to music sales. As Spin recently pointed out, sales of dance music recordings have surged in the last year: Daft Punk and Avicii both snagged high rankings on the Billboard Top 200, and artists like Zedd, Martin Solveig, and Afrojack sold 1 million downloads each. And then, of course, there's the barely-legal electro-house heartthrob Martin Garrix, whose single "Animals" topped the UK charts a few months ago.
All this makes it seem like EDM has finally "made it" in America—and in a way, it has, because dance music has never sold so many recordings, even during the disco and electronica booms of decades past. But let us never forget the house hits that reared their kandied heads on the international singles charts of yesteryear. I graduated high school in 2007, meaning I can only remember as far back as Aqua and the Vengaboyz, so I had to make a couple phone calls and hit the history books to assemble this list of historic rave crossovers. We wouldn't want to forget the classics, right?

In 1991, a British synth-pop remixer by the name of The Source released his version of “You Got the Love.” Believe it or not, the 1986 single by soul singer Candi Staton was originally recorded to soundtrack a film about a 900-pound man on his quest to lose all of his excess weight. It didn't reach widespread claim until The Source dug it out of the vaults.
“They were calling my house saying I had a number-one record in England,” Staton told The Guardian in a 2006 interview. “And I said, 'What song? I haven't released any song.'” Initially unaware that the single had even received the remix treatment, she had to get lawyers involved to make sure she got properly paid when the single sold 2 million copies. "The English releases can't rip me off any more—hopefully," she said.
PS: don’t skip the XX remix of the 2009 Florence and the Machine cover of the 1991 version of the 1986 single. Honestly, I can’t even make this shit up.

Speaking of rip-offs, the Italian superstars Black Box have seen more lawsuits than a self-accelerating Toyota. They were initially busted for sampling disco diva Loleatta Holloway without permission on their 1989 number-one single “Ride on Time." Later, they were sued by their own vocalist Martha Wash, who felt snubbed because she was replaced by a lip-syncing French model at the group’s live engagements—and because she initially never received credit on their albums and singles.
Is it embarrassing that the first time I heard this was when I bought a Girl Talk CD in 2007? Yikes.

Few synthesizer sounds are more iconic than the big bad motherfucker of a Hoover synth that opens the Prodigy's 1991 debut single, "Charly," which reached No. 3 on the UK singles charts in September of that year.
They call it the Hoover because it sounds like a vacuum—a huge, cosmic vacuum that will suck the ego out of your skull and leave you a frothing, hysterical shell of a human, writhing in ecstatic communion with the gods of rave. But who wore it best, really?
1991 saw Joey Beltram harnessing the same synthy black magic on his single "Mentasm" for Belgian techno label R&S, under the name Second Phase. Then there's another R&S track from the same year: "Dominator," by Dutch techno pioneers Human Resouce, which is so hardcore that it makes me want to go throw this fresh pot of green tea on sombody's face and spraypaint an anarchy symbol on the doors of the VICE office. Either way, Prodigy went biggest on the pop charts.


Ugh. This fucking song.
Not only did it take the number-two spot on the UK charts, but you Americans out there may recognize "Kernkraft 400 (Sport Chant Stadium Remix)" from any number of beer-soaked college basketball games. And while most of these throwbacks never made a splash with us across the pond, this one definitely tapped something in our tiny American pea-brains. I even remember hearing the 1999 high-NRG anthem at my eighth grade after school dance, though I can't be sure because I was fixated on touching a titty for the first time underneath the bleachers in the gymnasium. 

Fun facts from Wikipedia: "On 27 June 2008, the Official UK Charts Company named 'It Feels So Good' as the biggest selling dance song of the 21st century." In the UK alone it sold over 650,000 copies. In the US, this catchy trance hit peaked at No. 8, and clocked in at the end of the year at No. 34 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 
Singer, producer, and DJ Sonique was a resident DJ in Ibiza for a few years in the late 90s, grew up playing in a reggae band, and then beat breast cancer in 2010. This lady is too cool. Sonique—you can roll with me and the homies to the club any time you want. We will steamroll that dancefloor.

Songs like "Good Life" inspire fierce and nauseating debates over the terms "house" and "techno." The track was made by Kevin Saunderson, a pioneering producer from Detroit, a city known for its contributions to the development of techno—but it sounds like house! Those chords! That unforgettable Paris Grey vocal! What does it mean??
Well, it means that "Good Life" is a track as timeless as the hackneyed controversies it inspires. Saunderson unleashed the classic anthem in 1988 under the moniker Inner City, the name he used whenever he teamed up with Paris Grey. By January of 1989, "Good Life" hit No. 4 on the UK charts. In 2013, the track proved to be as powerful as ever when Saunderson played it during his closing set with Derrick May at Movement. It was cold as fuck, and it was raining, and the two Detroit kingpins were late to take the stage. But when Grey's voice ripped through the amphitheater with the words "No more rainy days," the freezing, soaked ravers rejoiced. It was a super PLUR moment. (Elissa Stolman)

The undulating synths and cosmic voiceovers of “Get Busy Child” take me back to a time of UFO pants, Surge soda cans from the video arcade in Somerville, and that fantastic Rob Zombie rave scene where Neo first meets Trinity at a leather club in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. 
I first heard this jam when I was ten years old and my cool uncle bought me a copy of N2O: Nitrous Oxide, the 1998 Playstation sleeper that was soundtracked by this homegrown rave-rock duo. Did you know they just released their fifth studio album? Yeah, neither did anyone else. This one came in at No. 17 on the Hot Dance Club Play in the US.

If you listen to enough 2-step / garage mixes, you'll start to recognize certain tracks that pop up over and over. There's "Scrappy" by Wookie, Dem 2's "Destiny," Colour Girl's "Joyrider," the Resevoir Dogs Vocal Mix of "You Don't Know" by 702, and Artful Dodger's "Rewind," which features vocals by Craig David. The R&B stud faded into obscurity after releasing a few albums and lending his sensual singing to a handful of Artful Dodger productions, but in 2013, he burst back into the spotlight after he tweeted a picture of his insanely yoked body and exchanged tweets with Justin Bieber.
The track that David mentions in his tweet to Bieber, "Fill Me In," was originally released in 2000. David's vocals are as silky as a pair of satin boxers, and the lyrics are as corny as the type of douchebags who wear satin boxers; The song details David's love affair with a girl whose parents are "trying to find out what we were up to" as the couple does "things that young people in love do." In other words, perfect fodder for a radio hit, and still better than anything Bieber has made to date. (Elissa Stolman)

The Bucketheads was an alias of New York City house legends Kenny Dope and Louie Vega, aka Masters at Work. You know, the guys also responsible for “Deep Inside” as Hardrive and “The Ha Beat,” which became anthemic in New York ballroom house music and the worldwide voguing scene at large.
The unedited version of this track is one of the longest house records of the 90s, apparently because producer Kenny Dope left the drum machine on repeat by accident. “The record's 14 minutes long but it was actually a mistake,” he told the audience at his Red Bull Music Academy lecture. “If you play the original song it doesn't do that: the way the hooks are laid out, the way the anticipation is with the whole horn intro and all that… it was me missing the sequence.”
The whole point of a perfect groove is that people won’t even notice that they’ve been dancing for 15 minutes to the same seven-second loop.

Max Pearl has opinions. Follow him on Twitter. -@maxpearl

15 Books Every Punk Must Read

1. Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain

Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
Dee Dee Ramone’s days as a Midtown Manhattan sex worker? Iggy Pop’s insane drug and sexual habits? It’s all recounted here in this debauchery-packed (and sordidly hilarious) oral history of punk’s early days.

2. Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad

Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad
Azerrad’s raucous collection of band profiles highlights 13 important groups from the pre-Nevermind era. The booze-soaked chapter on The Replacements is worth the price of the book alone.

3. Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone

Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone
Punk’s most curmudgeonly founding father, Johnny Ramone (famously a staunch Republican), tells the legend of the Ramones from his cranky perspective. It’s as funny and offensive as you’d hope it would be.

4. Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus

Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus
Sara Marcus’ personal account of Riot Grrrl nation in the early ’90s shines a spotlight on the movement’s blistering music and and progressive politics.

5. Get in the Van by Henry Rollins

Get in the Van by Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins’ tour diaries from his days as Black Flag’s muscle-bound frontman recount the band’s often violent gigs. The audio version of this book scored Rollins a Best Spoken Word Album Grammy in 1995.

6. Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids by Patti Smith
Patti Smith’s moving memoir tells the story of her relationship with then-fledgling artist Robert Mapplethorpe, and how she transformed from a wannabe poet to the godmother of punk.

7. We Got the Neutron Bomb by Marc Spitz with Brendan Mullen

We Got the Neutron Bomb by Marc Spitz with Brendan Mullen
L.A. punk’s wild scene is largely neglected in Please Kill Me, but it gets its due in this tome, which tells the tale of X, Germs, the Go-Go’s, and SoCal’s other original punks.

8. England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage

England's Dreaming by Jon Savage
Savage’s 656-page whopper focuses on U.K. punk and the explosive rise (and subsequent implosion) of the Sex Pistols. It’s an academic and entertaining take on pre-’80s punk.

9. Violence Girl by Alice Bag

Violence Girl by Alice Bag
Bag’s memoir recounts her lifelong romance with rock ‘n’ roll music, and how her passion for music led to her to lead the Bags, one of first-generation L.A. punk’s most riotous bands.

10. I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell
Hell, who played in Television, the Heartbreakers, and The Voidoids, spins depraved yarns about the reckless lifestyle he led as a downtown Manhattan punk in this 2013 memoir.

11. Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus by Aaron Cometbus

Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus by Aaron Cometbus
Cometbus, a former Green Day drummer and roadie, is better known for his long-running and beloved zine, Cometbus, and for his strict punk ethics. This collection serves as an gateway to a must-read punk periodical.

12. American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush

American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush
Blush’s comprehensive book breaks down the history of U.S. hardcore, region by region. This oral history led to the 2006 documentary of the same name.

13. King Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork by Frank Portman
Although technically not a book about punk rock, King Dork, one of the most memorable YA novels of the past 10 years, was penned by Frank Portman, the frontman for pop-punk legends the Mr. T Experience.

14. Gimme Something Better by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor

Gimme Something Better by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor
Unlike the U.K., NYC, or L.A. punk scenes, Bay Area punk didn’t take itself seriously, and this oral history — which tells the stories of NorCal punks like the Dead Kennedys, Operation Ivy, and others — reflects that spirit.

15. Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by John Lydon with Keith and Kent Zimmerman

Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by John Lydon with Keith and Kent Zimmerman
As the frontman of the Sex Pistols, Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) was a riveting entertainer. The skills that made him a remarkable showman are on full display in his wicked and witty autobiography.