Automakers With The Lowest Recall Rates

Recalls usually happen early after a vehicle has been released into the consumer population. They occur when a manufacturer defect could cause injury or death, and there are a growing number of recalls each year–even as the laws become more and more strict. If you’re considering a new vehicle, then you’re probably curious as to which automakers have the lowest recall rates, and maybe what the average rate looks like at a glance.

The industry average for recalls falls at 1,115 for every 1,000 vehicles. In other words, if you purchase a vehicle, that vehicle is likely to be recalled at least once. Some vehicles have recall rates high enough that your vehicle could be recalled twice!

A recent study of eighteen different automakers indicates that vehicles manufactured by Porsche have the lowest recall rates. If you own one, then there’s about a fifty-fifty shot your vehicle will be recalled. Mercedes-Benz ranks number two, with a recall rate of about 624 for every 1,000 vehicles. Kia is number three with 788 recalls for every 1,000 vehicles.

The next entries on the list all get closer to the industry average. Tesla has a rate of 936, Mazda has a rate of 955, and General Motors has a rate of 958.

Vehicles manufactured by Nissan experience a moderate number of recalls. 1,038 of 1,000 vehicles will result in a recall. Automakers with the highest number of recalls include Honda with 1,307, Chrysler with 1,422, and Volkswagen with a whopping 1,805.

This list proves that the more expensive vehicles are also less prone to defect, and therefore have the lowest recall rates. Unfortunately, most people can’t afford them! Don’t let that dissuade you from purchasing a new vehicle, though. Most vehicles are recalled because of relatively minor defects that won’t affect your ability to drive. Even so, be on the lookout for recalls that may affect you.

Tips For Flipping A House

It takes a lot of time and energy in order to make money flipping houses, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Don’t just jump into anything right away; do your research. Education increases your chances of success tenfold, but what do you need to know first? These are some basic tips for flipping a house.

Before you begin, you should speak with a financial advisor about potential lenders. If your credit score isn’t high enough, you’ll never even make it to the first step.

First and foremost, determine location. Will you be flipping houses where you live, or will you be able to travel while you take on these projects? Regional economies can fluctuate and are difficult to track, but that’s what you’ll need to do in order to make this work for you. Research buying and selling prices in various markets, and determine the kind of profit margin you’d like. Will you buy an expensive home in a big market for a big profit, or would you prefer to start small?

The value of the home is important. Unless you’re an expert salesperson, you’ll want to start with something well below market value and work your way up until you find your sweet spot. Can you talk the talk?

The best flippers know how to fix something up fast without spending a fortune. Part of that formula is determined by construction. If you need to tear down walls and fix foundations in order to make it look presentable, you’ve got the wrong house. Think about cosmetic changes over structural changes. Don’t purchase houses that are riddled with mold or infestations. That’s money down the drain, and there’s no guarantee the problem won’t return a week or two later. If you don’t have any experience with design, now’s the time to research what people look for and how to give it to them.                                                         

Before deciding on the best house to flip, do a personal appraisal. Get yourself a blacklight, and walk through the home in order to find as many potential problems as you can. Finding them now will spare you innumerable headaches later.

Top 5 Embezzlement Cases in U.S. History

If you have an employer and at some point in your golden career “misplace” or “reallocate” funds that wind up in a bank account with your name on it, then congratulations: you’re guilty of embezzlement! Most companies constantly audit the books, so it’s not exactly easy to get away with the crime of embezzlement. Naturally, this hasn’t stopped anyone from trying. Here are five of the most notorious embezzlement cases in U.S. history!

  1. If you don’t get along with your family, then you’re not alone. Dane Cook is right there with you. In 2010, his half-brother was found guilty of embezzling millions of dollars. The guy didn’t really do much to cover his tracks–he forged Cook’s signature after making a check out to himself for three million bucks! The half-brother was sentenced for up to six years in prison.
  2. If you plan to steal, at least try not to steal from girl scouts. Life on earth reached a new low point when in 2011 Christa Utt was charged with embezzling thousands from the organization. Utt was a troop leader, but that didn’t stop her from committing the crime. Sadly, she wasn’t the first one to try. In 2009, Janet Daily and Laura Farrell stole over $20,000 in separate cases.
  3. Remember the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme in 2008? He stole from investors, and paid them back–or didn’t–with the money gained from newer investors (which is how a typical Ponzi scheme works). As a result, some people lost their life savings and associated stocks plummeted. The missing funds amounted to at least a whopping $18 billion. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. He’s famous, so he’ll probably get out.
  4. If you have a gambling problem, it doesn’t matter how rich you are. Ausaf Umar Siddiqui came up with an embezzlement scheme to pay off gambling debts, but ended up sentenced to six years in prison instead. He had previously established a fake company in order to funnel monies that ran over $80 million from Fry’s Electronics, where he worked as vice president of operations and merchandising.
  5. Kenneth Lay died before a judge could sentence him up to 45 years in prison. He was the CEO of Enron and embezzled nearly $11 billion from his shareholders. Enron went on to file for bankruptcy.

Best Selling Cars of 2017

What Were the Top Selling Cars of 2017?

Toyota SUVWhat was the best selling car of 2017? Halfway through December 2017, the Motley Fool began research for a post that would take the guesswork out of it for us. The blog compiled a list of the top five selling cars of 2017. The list only included cars and SUVs, the Motley Fool people thought it would be best to leave pickup trucks out of it because they are commonly used as fleet vehicles, which inflates there sales. As of November 2017, there were no America made vehicles in the top five as Toyota, Nissan, and Honda once again dominated car sales in America.

Top Five Best Sales

  1. Honda CR-V – 340,912, Up 6.7%

The CR-V has been one of Honda’s most reliable vehicles in terms of sales. In 2017, the CR-V reached around four million sales since its conception. The SUV features a trustee all-wheel drive system that makes it a great choice for every season.

  1. Toyota Camry – 343,750, Down 3.2%

The Toyota Camry’s sales saw a decline in 2017 by 3.2%, but that wasn’t enough to keep the perennial top performer out of the top five. The Camry was America’s second favorite Toyota in 2017, ending its 15 year streak as number one. The Toyota Camry is available in a brand new 8-speed transmission, giving the car more power than ever before.

  1. Honda Civic – 345,880, Up 3.1%

In 2017, Honda rejuvenated one of its oldest models, the Honda Civic. The 2017 Civic was available in the original sedan version, as well as brand new coupe and hatchback versions. Additionally, the Civic could be purchased in a variety of performance models like Si or Type R. The Civic beat out its counterpart, the Honda Accord, by about 15% this past year.

  1. Nissan Rogue – 363,293, Up 25.5%

The Nissan Rogue is quickly becoming one of the most popular cars in the United States. The sales of the Rogue have increased over 25% from 2016. Although, this large increase in sales was not solely due to consumers like you and me. The Rogue saw an increase in sales to rental agencies and fleet buyers, like businesses and government agencies.

  1. Toyota Rav 4 – 375,052, Up 19.1%

The Toyota Rav 4 has officially taken down the Toyota Camry as Toyota’s Number one seller in the United States. Rav 4 finished the year strong with two straight months of top sales performances. In November alone, the Rav 4 was sold 28,700 times.

Economy Vs. Personal Injury Settlements

personal injury settlementThe economy plays a role in our everyday life. It can affect your employment and your wages, which, in turn, can affect your family’s life. Just like everything else, civil settlements can also be affected by the economy. How might you ask? Well, we are going to explain that to you.

How does the economy affect personal injury settlements?

The economy can affect a personal injury settlements in a variety of ways. A bad economy can cause extra tension in settlement cases and cause them to hang around longer than usual. A good economy might result in the plaintiff receiving more money than they were expecting. The reason for this is that insurance companies make investments in order to generate revenue. When their investments are down, they are going to pinch every penny. The inverse occurs when the economy is up. Here are a few ways the economy might play games with your settlement rewards:

  • As the economy decreases, the settlement reward decreases
    • For a number of reasons, a weak economy, will lead to a lower settlement payout. For example, a settlement that might be worth $15,000 might decrease to $10,000.
  • Cases are less likely to go to trial
    • A weak economy affects everyone, even the courts. A small to mid size case is less likely to be brought to trial because a judge will not want to waste money on the case. In addition, some courts may close more often or cut staff in an effort to save money during his time. This will make it harder to get a trial date.
  • The person suing
    • There are two likely scenarios that can happen when a person is filing a lawsuit in a weak economy. One scenario is that the person will want too much money. This person will hold out as long as possible. The other scenario is that a person will settle too quickly. Settling to quickly can lead to a lesser reward for the person suing.
  • Insurance companies are difficult
    • As previously mentioned, sometimes the insurance company will hold out hope for the economy to rebound. Another factor might be that the company was forced to make cuts. This can affect how long your claim takes to process.
  • Court costs
    • We mentioned before how a weak economy affects the court system. Not only will it be harder to secure a trial for a small to mid level case, court fees will increase. Court fees are payments for documents like a notice of appeal or a motion.
  • The number of fake cases increases
    • In a weak economy, people will do anything for money. Some might even try to report a false claim and exaggerate their symptoms.

While a weak economy might lower the reward of a settlement, it does not mean that your medical expenses or lost wages will not be recuperated. If you suffer a catastrophic injury, your case has a greater chance of going to trial and receiving a maximum value reward. Even in a weak economy, if you suffer an injury due to another individual’s wrongdoing, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

What States Have The Strongest Economy?

What States Have The Strongest Economy?

strong economyEvery year, ranks the states with the strongest economies. The rankings are based on a number of factors including growth, employment, and business environment. According to, the ranking categories are defined and weighted as follows:

  • Growth (50%)
    • Growth measures the growth of the young population in the state, overall growth through migration, and the GDP growth rate.
  • Employment (30%)
    • The employment ranking tracks the three-year average of job growth, unemployment rates, and labor force participation rates.
  • Business Environment (20%)
    • This ranking gauges a state’s business environment based on the monthly birth rate or new businesses and the rate of parents for new inventions.

In some cases, a state may be stronger in one category than another. For example, Massachusetts is ranked fifth on this list. While Massachusetts is ranked 26th in terms of growth, the bay state ranks fourth in employment and second in business environment.

The Top Five “Best State for Economy” ranks the top states in terms of the economy every year. The results from 2017 are in and they are:

  1. Colorado
    1. Colorado took the number one overall spot by ranking second in growth, second in employment, and fourth in business environment. Overall, the state of Colorado’s economy had a great year. It continued to grow and new businesses began to form.
  2. North Dakota
    1. North Dakota had the second best years in terms of the USNews economy scale. Although the state has a low population, the residents we able to power the state to the top ranking for growth and the third spot in terms of employment ranking. These strong grades were enough to overcome a low business environment ranking of 21.
  3. California
    1. California is one of the larger states that made this list. California received strong grades for the growth category (5) and took the number one spot for business environment. California’s employment grade was the definition of mediocre, coming in a number 25.
  4. Utah
    1. Utah had the fourth strongest economy in 2017. The industry state ranked first in terms of employment and fifth in business environment. Utah’s weakest category was growth. The state placed 20th in this category.
  5. Massachusetts
    1. As previously mentioned, Massachusetts ranked fifth on the USNews “Best States for Economy” list. The state ranked well for business environment (2) and employment (4). While these numbers are great, Massachusetts placed below the median line for growth (26).

The states are ranked by metrics that have a relation between to the economy. Growth, employment, and business environment are all factors that contribute to the strength of the economy of each individual state. 2017 was a good year for the United State’s economy overall. The nation’s economy was powered by great years from states like Colorado, North Dakota, and California.

Is Divorce Good For The Economy?

When two people get married, they do not expect their relationship to end in a divorce. Unfortunately, a large portion of marriages end in divorce, but that number is dropping. The National Center for Family & Marriage Research reported that in 2015, 16.9 of every 1,000 married women received a divorce. According to the report, this number is down from 17.6 in 2014  and has decreased 25% since 1980. The locations in the United States with the highest divorce rate are Washington D.C., Wyoming, and Nevada; in that order. The states with the lowest rate of divorce are Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Hawaii; in that order. Fun fact, Hawaii is the only state that fell under the 12 per 1,000 married women mark.

How Does Divorce and the Economy Relate?

A big debate about divorce is if it positively or negatively affects the economy.

  • Divorce slows economic growth
    • A common trend in economics is if there is an increase in households, there is a decrease in the economic growth rate. Naturally, an increase in divorce causes an increase in the number of households, an increase in the amount of power being used, an increase in the number of resources being used, etc. Therefore, an increase in the divorce rate leads to a decrease in the economic growth rate.
  • Changing family formula driving down divorce rates
    • The average divorce rate for first-time marriages is 41%. There are a number of factors that weigh into the divorce rate and how it fluctuates including age, first-time marriage, location, finances and other factors.
    • A change in the family formula means that the traditional roles of the family members are changing. An example of this is, for many households, the woman or mother is now the financial supporter. This has led to an increase in the number of dual-income families, which bring down the divorce rate. Another factor is that couples are getting married at a later age. It is believed that couples who wait to marry, are less likely to get a divorce.

What Factors Into Divorce Rates?

There is a wide variety of reason that people become unhappy in their marriage and decide to get a divorce. The following factors all play a part in any divorce:

  • Age
    • There is a direct correlation between the average age couples are getting married and the rate of divorce. According to CNBC, in 1950, the average age of men getting married was 23 years old; the average age of a woman getting married was 20 years old. Over the next 59 years, the average age of marriage has increased to 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. The sweet spot for marriage is about 28-32 years of age.
  • Education Level
    • Education Level plays a factor in divorce. Couples who have a college degree are about 10% less likely to get a divorce. Women who completed college have a divorce rate of 14.2:1,000. The divorce rate rises to 23:1,000 when women do not finish college.
  • Location
    • Where you live when you get married has a factor in divorce rates. Nevada and Maine have the highest divorce rate, 14%. New York, New Jersey, Utah, California and North Dakota all have considerably lower rates.
  • Race
    • According to the 2014 Community Survey, the ranking of race and divorce race is as follows: Asian women, Hispanic women, white women, then black women.
  • Sexuality
    • A report came out that same-sex marriages in New Hampshire and Vermont had a lower rate of divorce than heterosexual couples. Shortly after, the Washington Post came out with an article that stated this is not true. The article also stated that the rates are the same.
  • Children
    • Usually, having children decrease the likelihood of a divorce, but having children often decreases the parents’ rate of happiness and their life satisfaction.
  • Religion
    • Religion tends to be a marriage give marriages some stability. The highest rate of divorce over all religions is Christianity which comes in at 74%. The next highest is atheist at 20%.
  • Mental Health
    • Depression and substance use disorders are both factors in increasing the divorce rate.
  • Parents’ Marital Status:
    • Basically, if your parents were divorced, you are more likely to have a marriage end in divorce. This is due to the fact that you are brought receiving messages that convey the thought that marriages and relationships are not long-term.

All of these factors can weigh into why you a couple’s relationships may end in divorce, but they are not end all be all. There are exceptions to every rule.

A common misconception is that a higher divorce rate will lead to a stronger economy. This is simply not true. Divorce rates have an inverse relationship with the economy, as they go begin to decrease, the economy will begin to rise. If you are going to get a divorce, hopefully it is mutual and you and your partner can have a collaborative divorce. Contact a divorce attorney today to find out more about your options when it comes to divorce.

Salvage Cars: What To Look For In Vehicles After A Flood

Here’s an example of the savage cycle of twisted business and dealer fraud that plays out in disaster zones around the country: there’s been a flood, and you’ve lost your car to the murky waters. You need a new one, and fast. The thing is, so do a lot of other people, and it’s easier and cheaper for used car dealers to sell you a vehicle just like the one you lost–a car that was destroyed by the flood waters, only to be made pretty on the exterior and put up for sale yet again. Here’s what you need to look for beneath the hood after there’s been a flood–or a hurricane!

A lot of vehicles end up in the junkyard after being stripped of their parts, which themselves may have been damaged by a natural disaster like the aforementioned. Most people don’t know any better, and that’s why you should stay vigilant when shopping for a vehicle after a disaster anywhere in the country. The nice thing about living in the age of digital devices and electronic pleasures, though, is that water completely destroys their ability to function properly. If you notice that the lights on your dash are flashing without reason or your car stalls when you try to make a left-hand turn at a packed intersection, then your vehicle may have been rebuilt before you bought it.

Chances are a dealer isn’t going to let you test drive something with electronics that are likely to fail right away, so you might have to rely on other factors to make your decision. The first thing you should think about is the smell. If your would-be purchase doesn’t have that new car smell, that’s fine–but does it smell like a pair of old gym shorts instead? Don’t be afraid to point your nose up and breathe deeply. Any musty odor could be a sign of previous flood damage.

Another thing to watch is the price. Check the market value for a used vehicle of the year, make, and model of the one you’re buying with the right number of miles (there are web services that provide this type of information). If the price on the used vehicle seems on the low end, it’s worth asking why.

The last thing to do is pop the hood and actually check for rust. When you’re done fondling the innards of the vehicle you like, then get on your knees and check the underside. Give it a really good look, because this thing won’t come with a guarantee.

If everything looks fine and dandy, but you’re still suspicious, then you’ll want to perform an autocheck. These days, records will help fill in the blanks–they’ll tell you about the car’s previous life experiences. If the used vehicle is from Houston or the southern tip of Florida, then maybe you should try a different dealer. Be smart when you’re out there searching for a vehicle!

Estate Planning In A Gig Economy

We’re living in a “gig” economy. That means that new jobs and positions are most often filled temporarily. The number of contracted jobs is skyrocketing, and these contracts usually take place and dissolve over the short term. Part of the reason behind this rapid transition in our economy is the underlying social structures on which we rely. With the rise of high speed internet and the popularity of the smartphone, we can work from almost anywhere.

Such a transition has consequences.

Consider, for a moment, relatively new entities such as Uber. The company doesn’t consider its workers employees. Those on payroll are instead taking up contracted positions, and therefore don’t enjoy any of the added benefits that employees working for other enormous companies might enjoy. No insurance. No sick time. No retirement options.

When we plan for the future, many of us spend time on the estate tax planning process. When we pass away, we leave our heirs an inheritance. Our assets don’t just disappear–they get left behind. The dream is simple: over time, our family’s wealth should grow.

That isn’t always the case. What if you have no inheritance, and you have no assets with which to leave your children after you’re gone? This is the way it goes for many Uber drivers who can only barely afford to make ends meet. An optional Uber program tries to mitigate the damage by providing access to a few benefits by allowing its independent contractors to pay a portion of the cost per mile travelled during rides. On the face of it, that’s not much different than employers who provide optional health insurance for a percentage of each paycheck. Even so, the program isn’t very popular, and a number of drivers would like to see Uber and similar companies do more for the little guy struggling to make ends meet.

That’s why some organizations have proposed a tax on those companies and corporations contributing to this transition into a gig economy. Uber and similar companies that push us into a gig economy would be charged a portion of each transaction. Similar to disability or unemployment benefits, that tax would then go into an independent fund that workers could use for benefits even as they go from job to job.

In order for this endeavor to be made a reality, new legislation is required. The organizations fighting for the tax freely admit that progress is unlikely if the choice is left up to Uber and the companies just like it.

For now, the Independent Drivers’ Guild is spearheading the movement to implement legislation that would impose this tax. The organization is currently discussing the matter with elected officials in NYC. If such a bill could be passed, it could cause a domino effect around the country, as there are similar discussions occurring all over the place.

Because the economy is transitioning into one that relies heavily on independent contractors, governments would be foolish to ignore the needs of the people who rely on steady income and benefits to support their families. Without new legislation, our society could be headed into dangerous territory in which more people have fewer options they can choose to prepare for the future.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – What Are They and Where Did They Come From?

Many people often ask the question “What are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?” These names are often heard during discussions of the economy. They are often mentioned rapidly, followed by strings of numbers. This is just enough information for most people to know they are important, but not enough to know exactly what they are.

First, it would be best to clarify that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two separate institutions. What are each of them? And why are they so often referenced together?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are both financial organizations that work with home loans or mortgages. However, each institution has different histories and should be discussed separately.

The oldest of the two financial institutions is Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae was originally created to help boost the housing market shortly after the Great Depression. In 1938 Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the New Deal that made several amendments to the National Housing Act.

One of these was to create the Federal National Mortgage Association, which used the abbreviation FNMA. This abbreviation, if pronounced phonetically, sounds close to Fannie Mae, which is where the name comes from.

Originally, Fannie Mae simply provided money for banks to fund home mortgages. Eventually, the role of Fannie Mae became one of selling Mortgage Backed Securities.

Freddie Mac has a similar, but much shorter history. Freddie Mac was created expressly to help sell more Mortgage Backed Securities to help further the mortgage market after another economic slump. This institution was created in the early 1970s, called the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. The last two letters of the abbreviation FHLMC is where the “Mac” in the name comes from.

These two institutions are most often referred to together due to the ownership of them. Both were taken over by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in the fall of 2008. This decision has created a lot of discussion, since the Federal Government is now so closely tied to the private financial sector.