Cash Isn’t King, Mobile is: An Overview of New Payment Methods

shj102416_cash_is_king_payment_methods_blog_imageTechnology has created a wide range of ways for businesses and individuals to accept and send payments. Has your son or daughter recently asked you to “Venmo” them? Are you concerned when farmer’s market vendors swipe your card on their phone? Today we cover some of the most common payment types and how to use them.

*Disclaimer – Sharkey, Howes & Javer does not endorse any of the following products or services. This post is for informational purposes only.

Mobile Credit Card Readers
Mobile credit card readers, such as Square, have been widely successful. These readers offer the ability for anyone to “set up shop” at little to no cost. The card readers plug into the headphone jack of a phone and connect to an app. Instead of charging a flat fee per transaction, these readers simply take a small percentage of the transaction, usually 2.9%. Readers like Square allow small businesses to accept credit cards on the go.

Just like a regular credit card machine, your information is transmitted to the processor over the internet. The risks of using a credit card on a mobile reader and in your favorite big box store are virtually the same. Continue reading

Cost of Living in the United States 1975 vs. 2015


It is often easy to figuratively compare today’s costs with how much things “used” to cost. However, we don’t always have the numbers to use in the comparison, which is why we are sharing this table today.

If it seems like housing, auto, and education costs are a bigger portion of your paycheck today, then you are right. On average, this is true. It’s easy to see why the amount of college loan debt and car loan debt are steadily increasing. It’s also easy to observe why it is increasingly difficult to achieve the “American dream”. Continue reading

Inside the Economy with SH&J: October 10, 2016

As we enter the 4th quarter of 2016, here in the U.S., there is less stress in the financial system than when we started the year and the S&P 500 is at the top end of its forward price-to-earnings ratio. However, overseas, Deutsche Bank is fighting a $14 billion penalty from the U.S. Department of Justice for “mis-selling” mortgage securities before the 2008 recession. Listen in to hear more on the German bank as well as why Japan has such low interest rates despite the amount of sovereign debt outstanding.

Thinking of Buying a Vacation Home? Consider These 7 Things Before You Commit

shj101016_purchasing_vacation_house_blog_image_2You found an area you love and you’re thinking of buying a vacation home there. Having a second home can make vacationing easier, but it’s not always the right choice. Before you buy a vacation home, do your homework and make an informed decision.

Here are our 7 tips for buying a vacation home:

Have a Clear “Why”
It’s easy to get caught up in the charm of a new area when you’re on vacation, but it’s different to love a place enough to buy a second home there. Make a list of what you love about the area and create a calendar of dates you plan to visit. Does the list of loves and your availability to travel justify the expense of a second home?

Give it a Trial Run
Before you make the decision to buy a second home, be extra sure you like the area. Take a few trips to your desired location and rent homes in different neighborhoods. This will help you get a feel for what you enjoy most about the area and identify target neighborhoods. Continue reading

Should I Consolidate My Student Loans?

shj100416_student_loan_consolidation_blog_imageAs we enter the back-to-school season, many college students may have applied and been approved for a student loan for the upcoming academic year. While students and parents alike welcome the additional assistance in paying for their tuition, the appeal starts to wear off upon graduation when the responsibility to pay back the loan begins. Recent reports show that “the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year” and that the average monthly student loan payment is $351 (source). Often times loans are accumulated from various sources and consolidated down to one loan with the lowest interest rate or most favorable repayment option. However, depending on the type of loans you have outstanding, it may not be in your best interest to consolidate. Continue reading