Joe Flacco Billboards Taking Over Baltimore

by Stacy Tharp 22. January 2013

"It's destiny, Joe!" "Our Elite quarterback!" "We are proud to be in Baltimore!" These are just a few things you may have heard shouted from the flooded streets of Baltimore after last Sunday's win. The energy in this town is unbelievable right now and EVERYONE is bleeding black and purple!

So how can you stand out from the crowd and let Baltimore know just how much of a fan you are? Put it on a billboard, of course!

Joe Flacco Billboard

After we heard about the billboards showcased in New England calling for Ray’s early retirement, we knew something had to be done.

Last weekend we featured nearly fifty messages on our digital billboards in Baltimore from Joe Flacco fans who wanted to proclaim their Flacco love and support to the city. These messages were submitted on our Facebook page last week.

Joe Flacco Billboard

Since our scheme seemed to do the trick this past Sunday, of course we have to do it again! Visit our Facebook page if you would like to submit a message to be plastered all over the city. 

Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire

by Anirban Basu 16. January 2013

Anirban Basu

U.S. Avoids Fiscal Cliff but Familiar Challenges Remain

With the noteworthy exception of the nation’s still expanding national debt, 2012 will be viewed by economic historians as predominantly a year of progress. Financial markets performed, the number of jobs expanded, unemployment fell, auto sales surged, housing prices stabilized and consumers were active. According to the most recently revised estimate supplied by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, national gross domestic product expanded 3.1 percent during the third quarter of 2012 on an annualized basis. The fourth quarter wasn’t nearly as good, and though fourth quarter data have yet to be released, the expectation is that the U.S. economy expanded only about 1 percent on an annualized basis during the quarter. Despite that, many economists estimate that the nation’s economy expanded 2.2 percent last year, a bit better than 2011’s 2.0 percent performance.

Equity markets started 2013 with a bang, in part because of news regarding partial resolution to a variety of fiscal cliff issues. On the year’s first trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 308.41 points or 2.4 percent to 13,412.55. The S&P 500 rose 36.23 points (2.5 percent) to 1,462.42, the index’s biggest one-day improvement in more than a year (December 20, 2011). The NASDAQ composite index rose 92.75 points, or 3.1 percent, to 3,112.26.

While all major stock indexes were down for the fourth quarter, they were up for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 886.58 points from 12,217.56 on December 30, 2011 to 13,104.14 one year later (7.3 percent). The S&P 500 rose 13.4 percent to 1,426.19 and the NASDAQ was up 16 percent to 3,019.51.

Despite the heightened uncertainty that characterized the fourth quarter, businesses continued to hire. In December, the nation added 155,000 nonfarm jobs (168,000 private sector jobs) following a gain of 161,000 jobs in November and 137,000 in October. For the year, the nation added approximately 1.84 million net jobs, almost exactly the same number added in 2011. Job growth was sufficient to tug the nation’s unemployment rate below 8 percent. In January 2012, unemployment stood at 8.3 percent. By December of the same year, the corresponding figure was 7.8 percent, translating into 542,000 fewer unemployed workers.

One of the most noteworthy improvements in 2012 occurred in the housing market, which is now associated with both rising sales and median prices. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales rose 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in November from 4.76 million in October. The number of existing home sales is now 14.5 percent higher than a year ago, due primarily to a combination of consistent job growth and extraordinarily low mortgage rates. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $180,600 in November, up 10.1 percent from November 2011.

Consumer Spending, January 2008 - November 2012

Looking Ahead

Even during the fourth year of economic recovery, massive uncertainty lingers. While fiscal cliff part I is behind us, in front of us is the grisly sequel. Over the next two months, Congress will be wrestling with another set of issues, including whether or not to raise the debt ceiling and to what extent as well as scheduled automatic federal spending cuts.

Taxes have also risen, including in the form of the elimination of the payroll tax cut and an increase in the rate at which dividend income is taxed. With the economy already expanding slowly and with taxes having risen recently, expect the first half of the year to be another period of subpar growth. If Congress fails to appropriately deal with the budget and tax issues now facing it, the first half of the year could be worse than mediocre. On top of that, there is plenty of headline risk emerging from other parts of the world, including Europe where the economy remains in disarray. News from China has been better of late, however.

If Congress is able to successfully navigate the debt ceiling and other issues, the latter part of 2013 could be quite good for the U.S. economy. It is for this reason among others that many financial analysts remain bullish about the longer-term. However, investors should be prepared for a good bit of volatility during the months immediately ahead.

 

Anirban Basu is Chairman & CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc., an economic and policy consulting firm in Baltimore, Maryland. Basu is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's most recognizable economists, in part because of his consulting work on behalf of numerous clients, including prominent developers, bankers, brokerage houses, energy suppliers and law firms. On behalf of government agencies and non-profit organizations, Basu has written several high-profile economic development strategies, including co-authoring Baltimore City's economic growth strategy. His opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of 1st Mariner Bank.

I Do...But Maybe I Don't Want to Share My Money

by Stacy Tharp 10. January 2013

Combining Finances in Marriage

So you've decided to take the plunge and get married! You may be perfectly willing to share your hopes, dreams, living space and deepest, darkest secrets with your soon-to-be spouse…but sharing your money? If you are like many couples, no matter how long you have been in a relationship and how well you know each other’s likes, dislikes and quirky habits, your finances may have remained fairly private from one another.

Traditionally, when couples get married they immediately combine all of their money into joint accounts. However, we’ve all heard some statistic or another about the correlation between finances and divorce. That’s not to say that immediately combining all of your assets into joint accounts is always a bad decision; it’s simply not the only choice out there.

If you’d like to join accounts but are reluctant to go all in when it comes to your money, here are a few options that modern couples are opting for these days.

Divvy Up the Bills

Using this method, you and your significant other would compile a list of all of your bills and split them up however it makes sense. For example, if one person likes to crank up the AC, that person might take control of the electric bill. Or if one person insists on getting a large cable package with all of the premium channels, it might make sense for that person to be in charge of paying the cable bill. This is a great way to be able to enjoy your indulgences without your partner nagging you about the bill.

The “Divvy Up the Bills” method is also great for people who enter into a marriage with debt. Being in charge of your own car payments or your own student loans is a good way to avoid arguments or resentment.

Separate but Equal

In the “Separate but Equal” model, you have one joint account and two separate accounts. Add up all your bills, split the total evenly down the middle, and both partners contribute that amount equally. The rest of your income is yours to spend, save or do whatever you want with.

This method is good for independent couples in which both partners make a decent living and want to be able to use their hard-earned income however they choose. It helps avoid feelings of dependence or control.

Separate Accounts in Marriage

Equal Slice of Pie

This method is similar to the “Separate but Equal” approach in that you have one joint account for bills and two separate accounts for everything else. The difference is that instead of contributing an equal dollar amount to the joint account, each person contributes a certain percentage of his/her income.

This is a good method for couples in which one person makes significantly more money than the other. That person might want to enjoy a nicer lifestyle than his/her partner would be able to afford without assistance. This gives both partners a fair way to contribute to the bills and still have some money left over.

The Imaginary Salary

Remember our blog post about the imaginary mortgage? (Quick recap – you “pretend” you are paying a mortgage on a home that you do not yet own as a way of preparing yourself for the monthly payments to come while saving up for a down payment at the same time.) Well, “The Imaginary Salary” is similar. Using this method, the two of you live off of one person’s income and save the other person’s income.

Besides this being a great way to put away a large sum of money, this method is great for people who plan on living off of one income in the near future. Think about it – how great would it be to stop working and not have to change your lifestyle? This is also a good method for couples in which one person has an inconsistent income.

These aren’t the only options you have when it comes to combining your finances, and of course you can combine techniques or change your method at any time. As long as you and your partner both agree on a method and are honest with each other, you are off to a great start!

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Money Management in Your 20s: I Just Graduated from College, Welcome to My Private Jet

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

The Imaginary Mortgage: Fake It Til You Make It



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