The price of procrastination

Here are three of the week’s top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:

The price of procrastination
“Procrastinating on financial matters can cost you big in the long run,” said Russ Wiles at Arizona Central. Many Americans struggle with the pressure of planning for retirement, drafting a will, or developing a savings plan. Some are gripped by the fear of making a mistake, while others are intimidated by not knowing how to proceed. Delaying some matters can be especially costly. One of the worst financial behaviors is paying only the minimum on your credit cards, thinking that you will eventually ramp up payments. Compounding interest will just sink you further in debt. There’s also no better time than now to make sure that you have enough savings to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, and to get serious about retirement. “Even individuals who start late with retirement planning can make headway if they just get going.”

Credit scores may jump
Tax liens will no longer be considered in your credit score, “a move that will make some risky borrowers appear more creditworthy,” said AnnaMaria Andriotis at The Wall Street Journal. As of this month, the three major credit-reporting companies will delete more than 5.5 million liens from consumers’ credit reports and “stop adding new tax lien information.” That means some consumers could see their credit scores go up, making them eligible for better loans and financing terms. The credit-rating firms have been “grappling with class-action lawsuits over their handling of consumers’ tax liens.” A number of suits accuse the firms of not updating information to reflect when the lien was withdrawn or paid.

Pushing back on property taxes
“If your property tax bills are increasing, you’re not alone,” said Ann Carrns at The New …read more

Source:: The Week – Business


Can Silicon Valley foundation CEO survive scandal over ‘toxic’ workplace?

Mari Ellen Loijens resigned Thursday, April 19, 2018 from Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a day after a scathing report in the Chronicle of Philanthropy accused the non-profit’s chief business, development and brand officer of routinely bullying her staff and making sexually inappropriate remarks. (Courtesy Silicon Valley Community Foundation)

In many ways, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which grew in little over a decade into the biggest philanthropy of its kind managing assets of more than $13.5 billion for some of the biggest names in technology, is inseparable from its founding president and chief executive.

Now Emmett D. Carson, described in the industry as the foundation’s “indefatigable institution builder,” is at the center of a crisis over pervasive sexual harassment accusations against his top deputy, Mari Ellen Reynolds Loijens, that is raising questions if Carson himself can survive.

On Friday — a day after accepting Loijens’ resignation — Carson sent a two-page letter to the Mountain View foundation’s donors apologizing “for this situation” and assuring them that “we are focused on addressing it comprehensively and improving.”

But his insistence that “the claims of sexual harassment were new to us and something we are taking very seriously” continue to be publicly disputed by former employees. And in the #MeToo era, that may prove his undoing.

“If you’re found to have known and looked the other way, that person usually has to go in order to separate the organization from the scandal,” said Eden Gillott Bowe, president of crisis and reputation management firm Gillott Communications in New York and Los Angeles. “I think that the board of directors is going to have to take a very hard look at how much this is going to damage their reputation.”

Carson and the foundation’s board did not respond to questions through the nonprofit’s spokesperson. Loijens has declined to comment. The board’s vice chairman, Dan’l Lewin, president and chief executive of the Computer History Museum, refused to comment. Rose Jacobs Gibson, a former San Mateo County Supervisor who also sits on the foundation’s 18-member board, which also includes Carson, did not respond to a reporter phone call.

The scandal evokes …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Uber sets lobbying record in Washington after leadership changes

(Bloomberg) — Uber Technologies spent a record on federal lobbying in the first three months as it seeks to emerge from a series of scandals and change gears in Washington under new leadership.

The ride-hailing company disclosed spending $540,000 in the first quarter of 2018, up from $510,000 in the last quarter of 2017 and from its previous quarterly record of $520,000 in the third quarter.

The rise in Uber’s lobbying spend coincides with a changing of the guard in the company’s leadership ranks. Uber’s Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi, who was appointed in August, made his first trip to Washington earlier this month, where Danielle Burr become its head of federal affairs in January. Burr previously worked under House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The San Francisco-based company is seeking to craft a new reputation in Washington and beyond after years of negative revelations ranging from spying on passengers to a fatal driverless-car incident to allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Uber spokeswoman Carly DeBeikes declined to comment on the company’s lobbying record or its strategy in Washington.

New Entrant

To be sure, Uber is a relatively new entrant on the lobbying scene compared with other technology companies. Its spending pales against that of giants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., which spent more than $18 million and $11.5 million respectively last year.

Uber started lobbying in the capitol in 2013, but didn’t spend more than $100,000 in a single quarter until 2015. Over the years, most of Uber’s lobbying efforts have focused on state capitols as it seeks to fend off regulatory threats that might cap the company’s growth or force it to change its business model.

The company reported lobbying federal policymakers on legislation governing self-driving cars, the future of work and “anti-competitive activities that could limit consumers’ access to app-based technologies,” according to …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Text message battle: Google launches Chat to compete with Apple’s iMessage

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Google is launching a new text messaging system for its Android platform to challenge Apple’s iMessage in smartphone text messaging supremacy.

With “Chat,” Google is updating its current Short Messaging Service-run Android Messages app so that it can send and receive high-quality definition images and videos, set up group texts and allow reading receipts.

Chat is not a new text messaging app but rather a new set of features — known as Rich Communication Services designed to supplant the now 20-plus-year old SMS. Chat will be rolled into Android Messages in the near future.

Chat will be available to all worldwide cellular carriers that provide Android phones. But because Chat’s implementation will be carrier-based, some likely will debut later than others, according to The Verge, which broke the news Friday. This is in contrast to its main competitor, the iMessage, which is already built into every iPhone sold.

In the United States, Sprint phones already support Chat between compatible Android devices and T-Mobile plans to roll out Chat in the second quarter of this year, according to The Verge. It is unclear when Verizon and AT&T will make the switch.

Unlike iMessage and other third-party messaging app, such as WhatsApp or Signal, Chat will not support end-to-end encryption, leaving the messages less secure than its competitors.

“RCS continues to be a carrier-owned service, so legal intercept and other laws that exist that allow carriers to have access to the data continues to be the case,” said Anil Sabharwal, who was in charge of building Chat for Google, to The Verge. Sabharwal led the team, which created the popular Google Photos.

With the advent of Chat, other Google projects in the space will be phased out. Allo, which was introduced by Google in 2016 as its latest messaging solution on Android, will see its development “paused”, according …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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