Thoughtful Thursday: Money 100

I just got the latest issue of Money Magazine (easily my favorite of the personal finance magazines, although Kiplinger’s is decent, as well), and it included the Money 100 list.  In it, they provide 100 money related factoids, in short, easily digestible segments.  It’s always an interesting read.  Some of the things I learned:

-The best questions to ask a charity, such as whether the IRS recognizes them as a charity and what percentage of the donations go to charitable works.  They also gave two resources, charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org, that should make finding a good charity easier.

-If you are going to get a private pension, it’s good to be a Pennsylvanian, as my home state does not tax pension income.  (Of course, if you still are getting a pension, you are one of the lucky ones, no matter where you live.)

-If you need alcohol to help you get through this downturn, some of the best, most cost-effective options are Smirnoff Vodka, Old Grand-Dad Bourbon, and Mount Gay Rum.  (And yes, they actually including this as the last three items on their list.

This is interesting stuff, and the list format makes it a quick read.  It will probably inspire a few posts after I’ve had time to look over the list in more detail.  But no time for that now; there are blog posts to inspire me:

Calculating the Per-Person Cost of the Bailout – Kevin of No Debt Plan breaks down the actual spending for the bailout, in hopes of debunking some emails claiming that it amounts to $75,000 to $300,000 per person in the United States.  Turns out, the real cost is probably much less per capita, although I doubt that will appease the Tea Party Protesters…

What Happened During the Great Depression – Philip of The Weakonomist provides a thumbnail sketch of just what happened during the Great Depression.  It’s useful if you want to avail yourself of historical facts when you hear people toss around terms like ‘the Next Great Depression’.  Furthermore, he also mentions several things that may have ended the Depression, including the New Deal, an influx of money from investors seeking safety in American gold, and World War II; I just hope we don’t need a massive, multi-continent conflict in order to get out of our current economic funk.

How to File the FAFSA Without Your Parents’ Information – Stephanie, who just so happens to be Poorer Than You, writes about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and the changes made to it in 2008.  She emphasizes that you no longer need the information from one or both of your parents to fill out the FAFSA form, but there are limits to what aid you can get if you choose (or are forced into) this path.  Stephanie does a great job of laying out some of the options you have if you are in this situation, and I highly recommend it if you are a current or soon-to-be student.

Happy Tax Day & Some Fun Facts – Over on My Life ROI, we have a short history of taxes in the United States.  From the length of the tax code to the first time that illegal income was taxed, you can learn much more about the US tax system.  Plus, how many times can you see the words ‘happy’ and ‘fun’ along with ‘tax’ in a blog headline?

Want to Get Paid Like a Trader? – An interesting discussion about ‘pay for performance’ on The Writer’s Coin.  It’s an interesting concept, and it works in professions like trading securities where everyone’s progress is easily quantifiable.  But for many other professions, hard numbers are harder to come by, and the ones that exist may not be good measures of actual productivity. For example, when I was a QC tech, the figures of what proportion of samples passed our specs was readily available, while how hard I was working would have been much more difficult to pin down accurately.  But paying me according to how many samples passed the specifications or the purity of the anesthetic that we bottled would have given me an incentive to fudge the numbers to inprove my numbers and make more money.

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