Michelle Singletary: Here’s one way to stop living paycheck to paycheck

WASHINGTON — My grandmother Big Mama taught me everything I know about budgeting, and she did it on the back of an envelope.

I’m reminded of Big Mama’s budget brilliance as I hear from readers who work for the federal government or who are contractors affected by the partial shutdown.

Some of these readers have always struggled because they just don’t make enough from their government or contracting jobs. Others live paycheck to paycheck despite earning good money. It’s the latter group who could weather a few missed paychecks if they had done what my grandmother did all her life: budget.

I often use my grandmother as an example of good money management because, with so little, she did so much. She worked as a nursing assistant at a hospital, which means her pay wasn’t great. My grandfather was an alcoholic, so we couldn’t always count on his paycheck making it home. Yet Big Mama, who took me in when I was 4, never was late on a single bill — ever! She raised five grandchildren on her salary and still managed to save. Her home was paid off before she retired.

I know folks who earn six-figure salaries working for the federal government or contractors, and one missed paycheck is sending them into a spiral of despair. Let me be clear. The shutdown is a manufactured, unnecessary hardship forced on the more than 800,000 federal workers who are impacted.

Still, I know many would be in a better financial place if they had just budgeted better.

In 2018, only 41 percent of people surveyed said that they have a budget and keep close track of how much they spend on such things as food, housing and entertainment, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Even if you’re not affected, the government shutdown is a reminder of how important it is to have an emergency fund, which you can’t have if you don’t budget.

For this month’s Color of Money Book Club, I’m recommending a book that will give you a crash course in budgeting basics is “Budgeting 101” by Michele Cagan, a certified public accountant.

“One of the main benefits budgeting brings is busting you out of damaging financial cycles, like living paycheck to paycheck,” Cagan writes.

Here’s the thing about budgeting. It has a bad reputation. When I bring it up, this is what people say:

• “It’s too restricting.”

• “It’s too hard.”

• “It’s depressing.”

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News


‘Very active’ commercial land market helps Edmonton real estate market reach five-year record

A new analysis of the 2018 commercial real estate market in Edmonton shows positive signs of an economic recovery with the overall dollar value of sales citywide up by about 30 per cent compared to 2017.

The report, published by online real estate research firm The Network, shows the total value of all transactions hit $2.87 billion, up from $2.20 billion.

That figure represents the highest value for total transactions over the past five years.

The total number of sales is up to 624 from 552, or an increase of 13 per cent from the previous year.

Leading the charge was the land sales market which saw a 60 per cent increase over the past 12 months from $325 million in 2017 to $520 million last year.

The total value of building sales in 2018 increased to $2.35 billion from the previous year’s total of $1.88 billion and represents the highest numbers seen since 2007 ($2.98 billion).

Analysts said the high number was reached thanks to a series of large dollar sales.

UPLOADED BY: Gordon Kent ::: EMAIL: gkent@postmedia.com ::: PHONE: 7804295262 ::: CREDIT: Gordon Kent ::: CAPTION: An overhead view of the Edmonton Tower from the 46th floor of the JW Marriott-Legends Private Residences building May 8, 2018.

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An overhead view of the Edmonton Tower from the 46th floor of the JW Marriott-Legends Private Residences building May 8, 2018.

Gains in the commercial market were skewed however by the sale of The Edmonton Tower for $400 million which “alone contributed a 41 per cent increase in officer sales dollar volume from 2017.”

“The downtown office market wasn’t as busy as the previous year with only three transactions which included the Enbridge Tower and as mentioned Edmonton Tower being the most significant,” the report said.

22 shopping centres sold

The report notes that 22 shopping centres were sold in 2018 including Century Park in the Ermineskin neighbourhood ($41.8 million), Hawkstone Plaza ($29.2 million) and Westgate Shopping Centre ($17.2 million).

Total overall sales in the commercial market hit a five-year high of $1.03 billion compared to $965 million in 2017, $722 million in 2016 and $237 million in 2015.

Commercial land market was “very active” in 2018 including a number of large transactions such as the sale of 13.79 acres at 3920 Heritage Valley Trail between Delcon and Loblaws for $15.2 million and 41,511 square feet …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Business


Sears Could Stay Open Thanks to a $5 Billion Bankruptcy Auction Bid

(Bloomberg) — Eddie Lampert won a bankruptcy auction for Sears with a plan that will keep the bankrupt retailer in business and seek to save tens of thousands of jobs, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

Lampert’s bid prevailed over competing proposals from liquidators that would have forced the 126-year-old department store chain to shut down and sell its assets. The bid is valued at over $5 billion and represents an improvement of more than $150 million over the hedge fund manager’s previous offer, the person said, asking not to be identified because the talks are confidential.

The agreement, reached in the wee hours of Wednesday, caps two days of discussions behind closed doors in New York to determine whether Sears would be worth more dead or alive. Sticking points during the talks had included whether Sears Chairman Lampert should be insulated from lawsuits over his previous turnaround deals for the company, Bloomberg previously reported. The final agreement doesn’t include such a release for Lampert, the source said.

Representatives for Sears Holdings and at ESL Investments, the hedge fund run by Lampert that made the offer, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside business hours. The agreement still needs to be approved by the U.S. judge overseeing the bankruptcy.

Turnaround Challenge

ESL is Sears’s biggest shareholder and creditor. Lampert now faces the challenge of returning a slimmed-down version of the company to profitability, after billions of losses under his management.

The winning bid is the latest in Lampert’s long list of maneuvers to turn the company around. Since engineering the $12.3 billion acquisition of Sears by Kmart in 2005, Lampert has shuttered hundreds of money-losing stores, cut more than $1 billion in annual expenses, and spun off units such as Lands’ End Inc.

The retailer, for years called Sears, Roebuck & Co. and famous for its massive catalog, boomed in the decades after World War II along with a growing middle class. But it wasn’t able to keep up with shifting consumer habits as online rivals including Amazon.com Inc. siphoned off shoppers, while turnaround efforts were hobbled by mountains of debt.

Sears sold everything from Craftsman tools to Kenmore appliances, but it lost its footing in the 1980s with expansions into financial products such as banking, mortgages, insurance and credit cards. Walmart Inc. supplanted Sears as the biggest retailer in the early 1990s.

The company was started by Richard Sears, a train station agent …read more

Source:: Time – Business