#MoneyConscious Mash Up: National Sponge Cake Day Edition

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All in all for the week America’s economic news gave Americans something of which to be happy. Everything else, however, sucked like Justin Bieber to the ALS ice bucket challenge.

The National Association of Home Builders kicked off the economic news week with its July Housing Market Index, which increased 2 points to 55 from 53 in June. This is the first bit of good news of the week that suggested the housing market was back and is awesome as a 90s fanny pack. The winning region for July was the Midwest. The losers were the Northeast and South.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics started Tuesday with its release of their Consumer Price Index (CPI). Consumer prices in July put a modest squeeze on American households, as it crept up 0.1 percent after June’s 0.3 percent increase. Food cost, as those who eat would know, was the leader for the overall increase.

The Department of Commerce then reported July’s U.S. Housing Starts was up 15.7 percent, led in large part by a 28.9 percent increase in multi-family or apartment housing, after June’s 4.0 percent drop.

After Wednesday’s day off like an American president while the world burns, Thursday brought about a bevy of economic news. The Philly Fed announced that its Philly Phed Survey showed an increase of 4.1 points in August to 28 points from July’s 23.9 points. The headline number does not, however, support the underlying components, such as new orders, unfilled orders and employment in the Philadelphia region, as the headline number is based on a subjective question of manager’s month-to-month business activity. It’s still a trend and the trend is good, as it indicates how Philly area manufacturing managers will manage hiring, firing and wages.

The National Association of Realtors underscored the NAHB’s Housing Starts Index with its report of Existing Home Sales that showed housing may have turned a corner. July existing home sales increased 2.4 percent, even while supplies rose faster than sales. The median price rose by 0.4 percent and the average price rose 0.2 percent.

Finally, and most interestingly for Thursday, the Conference Board’s Leading Indicators Index for July rose sharply by 0.9 percent from June’s upwardly revised 0.6 percent. This was led in large part by the drop in initial unemployment claims from week to week and strength in manufacturing. This confirms the weeks other leading indicators that suggest the economy is making a U-turn for the better, unlike MTV’s VMAs, which bodes well for Middle America.

There were no Friday reports worth mentioning. As has been the case for months, our biggest concerns remain jobs, wages and the Fed’s easy money policy that may change sooner than many expected as per its Wednesday meeting notes. Budget, save your money and invest.

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It was widely reported again his week that Americans aren’t saving nearly enough for retirement. 36 percent of all Americans have zilch saved in a retirement account. Coincidentally, 36 percent of American workers have between zilch and $1,000 saved. Consumers would do themselves a favor to make it a habit to compare prices or unplug appliances once in a while and use the “found” money to save for retirement. Be a money ninja. No, that doesn’t stand for something else.

It seems consumer and bank greed are creating a perfect storm of subprime lending, but this time in the auto industry. Many subprime consumers who shouldn’t have bought certain houses leading up to 2008 shouldn’t be buying certain cars today. Many auto makers have predatory banking arms, not dissimilar to the predatory banking arms that helped cause the housing market crash that’s helped us live the Great Malaise, II. Help yourself and the country out and don’t make these seven mistakes or similar when buying a house or a car.

Of course, with a few million overlords and 300+ million serfs, it’s no wonder workers can’t save for retirement or must spend a greater percentage of what income they have on autos they already can’t afford. With stagnant wages and a flood of part-time jobs, no one could expect anything less. The blame that’s been pointed at the worker for lacking skills, however, is increasingly proving to be less and less credible.

If this were the case, the positions within business that were seeing the widest gaps would also see greater wage increases. This isn’t the case because as business lay off thousands of workers (6,000 for Cisco, 18,000 for Microsoft, as examples), their leaders are campaigning hard for Obama to implement “immigration reform” and increase the number of green cards the government issues to foreign, lower-wage, workers.

If you’re one of the lucky ones to land a job, especially if you’re a millennial, implement these five strategies immediately to position yourself for a firmer financial future.

That’s the Debt Free Guys’ #MoneyConscious Mash Up and all the economic and personal finance news that we think is worth your time, peppered with a little humor. Hopefully this makes something that bores you, but is uber important, a little more entertaining. Come back every Saturday for more.

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