January 9, 2020

A shocking number of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck

It seems like everyone is just trying to make ends meet.

One of the latest hashtag games making the rounds on Twitter TWTR, +2.84% invites social media users to provide pithy and honest answers to this open-ended statement: "With my next paycheck I will..."

While these games generally draw amusing memes and witty zingers, many of the responses trending under #WithMyNextPayCheckIWill early Tuesday morning were pretty bleak, with "still be broke" being the general consensus.

Many people noted that their income would be just enough to cover their bills and basic necessities until the next paycheck comes along.

This reflects just how many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

Depending on the survey, that figure runs from half of workers making under $50,000 (according to Nielsen data) to 74% of all employees (per recent reports from both the American Payroll Association and the National Endowment for Financial Education.) And almost three in 10 adults have no emergency savings at all, according to Bankrate's latest Financial Security Index.
Read more at MARKETWATCH


Banks to tighten third-party data access in 2020, experts say

Following recent moves by PNC and JPMorgan Chase, expect to see a "snowball effect" as financial institutions aim to boost security and control of personal information.

Several large U.S. banks have recently revamped and tightened their third-party data sharing practices, affecting the way some fintechs conduct business with their customers, and several industry experts say the trend is expected to grow in 2020.

A recent security upgrade at Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group kept data aggregators from gaining access to customers' account numbers and routing numbers last fall, and last week JPMorgan Chase announced it will ban third-party apps from accessing customer passwords. The U.S.'s largest bank said it plans to issue tokens for access to a limited amount of data in a secure form.

"As more banks begin to announce improved security practices, we can expect to see a snowball effect," Ray Walsh, a digital privacy expert at, told Banking Dive.
Read more at BANKING DIVE


IRS tax enforcement plummets to the lowest level in almost 40 years after rounds of GOP-led budget cuts

Years of budget cuts and a heavier workload have pushed the Internal Revenue Service's enforcement efforts to their lowest levels in almost 40 years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The IRS audited 0.45% of personal-income tax returns in fiscal year 2019, the eighth year in a row that it dropped.

Individual taxpayers are now half as likely to get an audit from the IRS compared to a decade ago.

The organization's $11.4 billion budget is about 20% lower than it was in 2010 when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and pushed for fiscal austerity.



62% of breached data came from financial services in 2019

The financial services industry contributed 62% of exposed data in 2019, though it accounted for 6.5% of data breaches, according to a report from data protection company Bitglass, compiled from data by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and the Ponemon Institute.

Capital One was a leading contributor to the amount of compromised data this year, following its data breach, announced in July, that exposed the personal information of 106 million customers. The bank hadn't suffered a breach since 2014. American Express and SunTrust suffered the most breaches since 2009, with five each.

Across industries, financial services has the second-highest cost per breached record, behind health care. An average breach in financial services costs $210 per record, while a "mega breach," like Capital One's, can cost up to $388 per record. In health care, a breach can cost $429 per compromised record, according to the report.

Read more at BANKING DIVE


LeadSherpa: "Adding Online Lending to Storefront Operations"

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The assault on consumer protection

The past year was not a great one for consumers or the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the agency mandated to regulate predatory lenders and abusive debt collectors. The Trump administration and its allies among special interests have worked to weaken the bureau's rules and enforcement - they're even challenging the legality of the bureau itself. Americans are left to fend for themselves in an increasingly complex arena of financial services. The result: mounting debt that prevents people from meeting their most basic needs.

Congress created the bureau to protect the public in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But predatory lenders continue to target the poorest Americans, offering small-dollar, short-term loans at egregious triple-digit interest rates that can trap people in cycles of debt. Payday loans are one form of predatory lending, offering to help people cover expenses until their next paycheck, but it also includes other forms of lending, such as vehicle title and some installment loans. Payday borrowers often are low-income people who have limited access to other forms of credit to cover their basic needs, such as rent or utilities. The average borrower is making about $30,000 and the majority are receiving government benefits. Read more at THE HILL



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What's the Average 401(k) Balance by Age?

Properly Planning for Retirement
Any mental health professional will tell you that comparing yourself to others isn't good for peace of mind. However, when it comes to retirement savings, having an idea of what others do can be good information to know. It can be hard to determine how much you'll need, exactly, for your own post-career days, but finding out how others are planning-or not-can offer a benchmark for setting goals and milestones.

Americans' 401(k) plan accounts are up, thanks to a combination of asset performance and increased contributions.
401(k) account balances and contribution rates vary greatly by age, with those in their 60s racking up the biggest numbers.
Most Americans still aren't saving sufficient amounts for their retirement years, several studies show.

Read more at Investopedia


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Which are the least tax-friendly states in America? California doesn't crack the top 10, but Illinois sure does

The 10 least tax-friendly states:
1. Illinois
2. Connecticut
3. New York
4. Wisconsin
5. New Jersey
6. Nebraska
7. Pennsylvania
8. Ohio
9. Iowa
10. Kansas

Read more at MARKETWATCH


Americans over 40 are half as likely to get hired - and it's worse for workers over 50

Federal law makes it illegal to ask someone's age in a job interview or to discriminate against anyone based on their age

Tom Brady is a now free agent, but the NFL player doesn't have the same worries as millions of Americans over 40.

Workers over 40 are only about half as likely, or less, to get a job offer than younger workers if employers know their age, according to research released this week that was conducted by economics professor David Neumark at the University of California, Irvine. The data was adjusted for differences in skills, fit and availability.

Key to the study was a major change that a company made to its hiring systems. Previously all applicants at a national restaurant chain (which wasn't named in the study) had filled out an initial application form in a face-to-face meeting with a restaurant manager. So their age was apparent from the get-go. Read more at MARKETWATCH


WISCONSIN I bill seeks to cap payday loans

Madison (WQOW) - A new proposed bill aims to curb predatory lending in Wisconsin.

Senators Andre Jacque, Lena Taylor and Steve Nass are behind the bipartisan bill.

They say Wisconsin payday loans come with an average annual interest rate of 486%.

The lawmakers claim these types of loans trap thousands of Wisconsinites in an endless cycle of debt.

To fix that, the bill would cap interest rates on these types of loans at 36%.

The bill is being circulated for support before it is formally introduced.

Read more at WQOW

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MICHIGAN lawmakers eye payday loans without term limits

Critics of a bill being considered by Michigan lawmakers that would allow payday lenders to offer longer term, higher dollar loans say the legislation puts the most vulnerable Michiganders at risk.

House Bill No. 5097 would allow payday lenders in Michigan to make loans of up to $2,500 with no limit on the length of the loan.

Sandra Pearson, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, said families don't always know what they're getting into when they take out a payday loan.

"Our financial coaches and counselors and educators are more and more interacting with families who are coming to us wanting help," she said. "And probably about 30 percent of those coming to us are involved in payday lending loans that they're trapped in right now, and we're working toward helping them get out of this cycle."
Read more at THE NEWS HERALD


The best time to buy anything in 2020: a Master List

Here's when everything will go on sale, from mattresses to appliances, electronics, and tools

It's a new year, and countless sales lie ahead.

Here's how to save money and plan your shopping for 2020. We listed the best products to buy each month, plus the holidays when you'll find major sales - and a bonus: the national days when you can score free stuff.

With a fresh page on the calendar comes a fresh start for sales. These items are discounted in January:
  • Bedding and linens. Department stores hold bedding and linen "white sales" in January with deep discounts on sheets and towels.
  • Fitness equipment. Retailers know you want to get in shape. Expect fitness equipment and apparel sales to abound at sporting goods stores.
  • TVs and electronics. Just before the Super Bowl, retailers normally discount TVs and other home-theater essentials.

Read more at MARKETWATCH

Dreher Tomkies LLP


Alternative Financial Service Providers Association

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