#MoneyConscious Mash Up: National Tell-a-Lie Day Edition

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This week makes us heart the economy a little more than working moms heart Gwyneth Paltrow. That’s not really comparing apples to apples, though.  No pun intended, Apple Paltrow-Martin. So sweet!

We received our first bit of sweet news on Tuesday when the Institute of Supply Management Index reported an increase to 53.7 in March from 53.2 in February. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a score above 50 suggests expansion of the economy. An increase of 0.5 is small apples, but we’ll take ‘em.

U.S. factory orders were up 1.6 percent in February, relative to their 1.2 percent estimate by weathermaneconomists. This is the largest increase since July 2013 and strengthens the argument that our economic improvements are on a slower pace than “The English Patient”. Positive is positive, though, so we won’t look a gift Sarah Jessica Parker in the mouth.

While we’re looking for the silver lining in every cloud, the private sector added 191,000 jobs in March. This is far below the necessary 350,000 monthly additions needed to get the economy roaring again but, as we said, it’s positive. The BLS reported 192,000 jobs added in March, which is about as exciting as the finale of “How I Met Your Mother”.

Last weekend the weekly Wall Street Bible of investing, Barron’s, scoffed at claims that snow generating clouds are the primary reason for the weakening housing market, but rather attributed it to the year-over-year rate increase of 30-year mortgages to 4.4 percent from 3.6 percent and the increase in home prices.

Barron’s must be a prophet on pulp as CoreLogic released data this Tuesday that showed home prices rose 0.8 percent in March and are on pace for 10.7 percent annual growth. Then on Wednesday the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage applications declined 1.2 percent for the week ending March 28.

The good news is that increased home prices will increase equity that allows home owners to use their home as an ATM for home improvements, car and home down payments or Fiji vacations. Don’t fall for it again, average Joe. An apple a day keeps the doctor away and a penny saved is a penny earned.

Our concern is that tech titans in Silicon Valley and Wall Street Ballers are buying grand homes with new found Benjamins and keeping the average Joe out of the housing market. Situations such as this can instigate average Joes to make Stephen Colbert sized mistakes with their phantom money, especially as easy money will remain easy and easy loans look to make a return after a six year hiatus.

What do American’s love to blow their money on more than homes? No, it’s not pot. It’s cars! U.S. auto sales spiked 6 percent in March, pulling an otherwise sleepy quarter out of its slumber even though most Americans can’t afford it. Joyride gingerly, Joe.

PF

The taxman cometh if you’re an individual with no particular influence. If this is you and you expect a tax refund, here are seven smart money suggestions. Yours truly will put any return towards our mortgage principal to refinance before Janet Not-Ms.-Jackson Yellen sees indications to increase interest rates.

We believe that the less overhead we have the less chance we’ll need to work hard in our golden years for the elusive chupacabra called Social Security, as we’re two of the many that aren’t fortunate enough to participate in the ever-elusive corporate pension program that will apparently save us all like Will Smith saves presidents.

The 260,000 graduates working for minimum wage should heed our example and avoid the dumb mistakes we made. We understand it’s hard for graduates right now, as mom and dad likely didn’t teach them about money, jobless claims were up 16,000 last week alone, and they likely believe financially debilitating money myths such as being able to work through college if only they weren’t so damn lazy. Things are messy now, but buck up, that’s a good thing and money and banking won’t stay this way for long. That may be their opportunity.

If you’re not a pro-athlete who receives million dollar paychecks subsidized by tiny cable bills, here are seven tips to increase your savings and investing to be more financially fit and fight the disappearance of the middle class.

To learn more about our mistakes and to become money conscious, come back every Friday for another attempt to make economics and personal finance funny with the Debt Free Guys’ #MoneyConscious Mash Up.

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still somewhere over the rainbow?

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