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New Allegations Emerge Against Convicted Murderer Tracey Richter

July 21, 2014

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New allegations are being made about convicted murderer Tracey Richter, claiming shes behind systematic harassment of those who testified against her in court.

The new claims allege Richter has been using her mother and an internet company to smear the reputations of those who helped put her behind bars.

On Wednesday, ABC9 spoke with one of those being attacked, Traceys former husband. He says if this isnt stopped, it will create a
playbook for those looking to intimidate and harass witnesses.

48-year-old Tracey Richter is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder in the 2001 death of 20-year-old Dustin Wehde in Early, Iowa.

At first, Richter was hailed as a hero for defending her children from intruders. But authorities were puzzled over certain details of the
case. For example, the strangulation marks didnt appear to match the attack she described. Also, the second intruder was never identified and Tracey refused
to meet with a sketch artist.

The most compelling piece of evidence was a pink notebook found in Dustins car. Notes inside claimed Traceys first husband, Dr. John Pitman, hired Dustin to kill Tracey.

Authorities never shared the evidence but Tracey seemed to know where it was and what was in it.

The killing was still a mystery when Ben Smith was elected to Sac County Attorney back in 2010. Smith took on the case and in 2011, he convinced a jury that Richter shot Wehde as part of a plot to frame her ex-husband, to gain an advantage in a child custody dispute.

After the sentencing, youd think the case was closed, but not for Smith.

Smith recently released a 124-page Affidavit outlining hundreds of hours of recorded phone conversations from jail, linking Tracey Richter and others to new crimes.

The court paperwork accuses the group of conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering and facilitation of a criminal network.

The documents say Anna Richter paid and provided information to a man who posts on a website called The Ripoff Report. Its there they accuse the states witnesses of theft, perjury, fraud, computer hacking, child molestation, murder and terrorism.

These posts are designed to come up first on web searches of the witnesses names. In some cases, the results have been devastating to the reputations of the people and businesses, Smith wrote.

One of those posted about on Ripoff Report was Richters first husband, Dr. John Pitman.

Im fairly peripheral in the case and yet here they are, trying to wipe me out, Pitman said.

Pitman is a surgeon in Virginia. Hes also a Colonel in the US Army Reserves Medical Corps.

But a quick Google search of his name, and youll find a Ripoff Report story, claiming Pitman is notorious for his on-going drug use and his pay-for-play with local strippers had his car repossesed.

It didnt take long before Dr. Pitman began to notice a dramatic drop in patients at his practice.

It was really only a matter of a couple months that the cosmetic part of my practice almost ceased to exist, became very limited, Pitman said.

The drop I experienced didnt just make my paycheck much smaller, it affected my ability to keep my employees, he said.

The Ripoff Report website claims they arent responsible for the accuracy of statements posted by users of the site.

Where does free speech end and extortion and witness intimidation begin? Pitman asked.

Its that question that led Pitman to contact Ben Smith.

Smith discovered someone claiming to be from Ripoff Report contacted Pitmans office. The caller offered to take down the posts about Dr. Pitman, in exchange for money. Those allegations inspired Smith to begin recording those conversations as well.

But Pitman was just one of the one of the witnesses attacked on the web.

At this point, no charges have been filed.

Last week, authorities seized a computer and flash drives from the Urbandale home of Anna Richter. Smith said it will take time to thoroughly comb through the documents collected.

How Kansas and California Debunked the GOP’s Tax Cuts Argument

July 20, 2014

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Imagine making a bet with a hardline trickle-down believer like Paul Ryan on a states projected economic growth. You would bet that one state that raised taxes on its richest residents would have unprecedented new job creation and a vastly improved economy, while Paul Ryan would bet that a state which cut taxes for the wealthy would have the better economy. If this bet actually took place, you would walk away the winner. And the trickle-down believers of America would be speechless.

Kansas Sinking Economy

In 2010, newly-minted Kansas governor Sam Brownback, elected on promises of restoring the states down economy, made that bet, and proceeded to ram through massive tax cuts for the wealthy, at a cost of $800 million, or 8 percent of the revenue used to fund schools, a hit most commonly seen in a fairly severe recession. The tax cuts reduced the states income tax rate from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent, scheduled to hit 3.9 percent by 2018. The end goal of Brownbacks plan was to reduce the states income tax rate to zero, earning him an A from the Cato Institute, a Koch-funded, libertarian think tank.

Governor Brownback and the GOP-led legislature also reduced sales taxes from 6.3 percent to 6.15 percent, where it would stay through 2018. This means sales taxes would be higher than income taxes, disproportionately hurting Kansas poor, who are already struggling to buy food and medicine and pay the rent. Brownback paid for the cuts by eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction, which is a tax break that middle-class homeowners depend upon.

Several years after those tax cuts were passed, Kansas economy is in the shitter. Kansas job growth has failed to keep up the pace with the national average. Moodys cut the states bond rating for the first time in over a decade, citing a lack of confidence in Kansas fiscal leadership. Revenue projections are down $700 million from the year before, meaning public services like schools have to be cut as a result. In just fiscal year 2014 alone, the state fell short of estimated revenue projections by $338 million. Kansas non-partisan Legislative Research Department estimates Brownbacks tax cuts will cost the state $5 billion in lost revenue by 2019. To put that in perspective, Kansas currently has an $8 billion state budget.

Because public services are being cut, fewer people in the public sector are collecting a paycheck. And because more unemployed workers means less money spent in Kansas economy, things are expected to worsen under the current tax structure. As schools suffer from a lack of funds, Kansas public school students will fall behind and will be deprived of skills needed to be successful professionals in adulthood. Brownbacks future as a two-term governor is looking grim because of his failure to deliver on economic promises.

Californias Soaring Economy

California did the exact opposite of Kansas. In 2012, when California was in a dire budget crisis, voters passed a critical ballot initiative undoing the states requirement of a two-thirds supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes. Through the initiative, California voters passed tax increases for everyone, including the rich, marginally increasing the sales tax while creating new income tax brackets of 10.3 percent for those who earned between $250,000 and $300,000; 11.3 percent for taxpayers who made anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000; 12.3 percent for incomes of $500,000 to $1,000,000; and 13.3 percent for all incomes above $1,000,000. The richest Californians would barely notice it, given the immense wealth in Californias major economic hubs like Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the wine country.

After monitoring the results, the New Jersey Policy Perspective, a non-partisan think tank, found that Californias tax increases are paying off big time. The states coffers will gain approximately $6.8 billion in new revenue every year, all of which will be invested in public education. California saw 2.9 percent job growth in 2013, making it the third fastest-growing economy in the US. California will have an operational surplus of $9 billion by 2018, meaning even more public sector jobs created and a better economy for everyone. And because education is now a funding priority, Californias schoolchildren are set up to soar above and beyond national education averages. Well-educated kids means more people in the future able to take on high-skilled, good-paying jobs.

Putting these two states side by side, it doesnt take an economics professor to see how much unnecessary tax cuts hurt a local economy, and how much marginal tax increases help an economy. At the federal level, American families have lost an average of roughly $48,010 in income per person, or $6.6 TRILLION, since the Bush tax cuts of 2001 (adjusted for inflation). As journalist David Cay Johnston pointed out, thats enough money to pay off every familys credit card debt, student loan debt, and car notes, while still having enough left in the bank.

Families freed from such financial worries would have plenty more disposable income to spend in their local economies, boosting small business in the process and creating enough local demand for more new jobs. The extra tax revenue we would have gained had the Bush tax cuts never gone into effect would be enough to invest in improving education, health care, transportation, agriculture, and myriad other programs. In fact, raising the current top tax rates on the richest 1 percent of Americans to 67 percent (still 3 percent less than the top rate under Nixon), along with creating new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires, would generate $4 trillion over ten years. That would be enough for a new WPA-style program aimed at rebuilding our vastly sub-par infrastructure while creating millions of new jobs.

The tax cuts experiment has had plenty of time to show results, but the only people whose economic situations have improved since the Bush tax cuts are the wealthiest 1 percent of society. The Paul Ryans of America have lost the bet fair and square. Its time we learn a lesson from Kansas and California and apply some common sense to our tax structure.

(This article originally appeared on Reader Supported News.)

Bipartisan Duo Renew Unemployment Insurance Fight

July 20, 2014

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We need to flood President Obamas phone (1-202-456-1111) and ask him to support a unemployment extension that includes retro pay or veto the tax extenders. Senator Reed should be ashamed of himself. He knows very well that those who have lost so much and are in financial ruin, was depending on that Democrat promised retro, to hold off foreclosure or eviction and catch up on utility bills and car notes. Since, according to Reed, we never should have been cut off, give us the benefits we lost. Ask us, if we want s lump sum or the every two week pay-out of less than $ 600. No one, who was cut off, is happy with the Democrats taking retro off the table.Took off retro, even though Labor Sec. Perez said it could be done, just like in the past and then expect the House to add job creations.Silliness!

Tampa Bankruptcy Attorneys Clark & Washington Discuss How Bankruptcy …

July 19, 2014

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If there is a lawsuit or judgment for credit card debt against you, Clark amp; Washington can help. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can result in the cancellation of all your dischargeable debts. Dischargeable debts usually include credit card debt, medical debts, payday loans and bank loans. Other debts such as car notes and mortgages still have to be paid if you would like to keep the property.

Caregiver behind bars on theft charges

July 19, 2014

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A Shreveport woman who was employed as caregiver for a 77-year-old patient was arrested for stealing the womans money.

Sherri Hayes, 43, is accused of using the elderly womans bank information and debit card to pay her personal bills including car notes, car insurance, utility bills, and cell phone bills, and purchase a diamond ring.

The thefts, which occurred between May 12 and June 24, totaled $5,386.

Hayes was arrested by Caddo Sheriffs Detective Yomeka Evans for theft of assets of an aged or disabled person and unauthorized use of an access card.

5 Things Your Financial Frenemies Say To Keep You Living Paycheck To …

July 18, 2014

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When you decide to pull-up your big girl panties and take charge of your finances like a grown woman, you may begin to realize that everyone will not be happy with your new frugal lifestyle.

Your shopaholic friends will become your new financial frenemies and say things to keep you chained to the door of revolving credit, conspicuous consumption, and living beyond your means.

Here are five things that financial frenemies love to say to keep your financial situation in critical condition:

You only live once (YOLO): It’s true; you only live once. But here is something else to remember: each of your credit card bills, mortgage payments, and car notes has their own life cycle OAM (once a month.)

“But it is on sale…” If you are desperately trying to adhere to a budget, a financial frenemy will gladly try to throw you off your course to debt-free living by saying, “but it’s on sale” to justify something that is not scheduled in your budget. What your financial frenemy fails to understand is that buying unnecessary items whether for a little or a lot is wasted money if it is not a need.

“You work hard, you deserve it.” This statement really kills me. When your financial frenemy starts whispering this yiddy-yadda, ask them to be more specific about what “it” really means. Because when it comes to spending money that you do not have on things that you already own, “it” really means the following: less money, more debt, more crap, and more clutter. I doubt that that is something that you work hard for or deserve.

“It’s an investment…” Your financial frenemy really has a warped understanding of the definition of “investment” when she views spending your tax refund or rent on clothes, hair, electronics, or a car–all items that lose value over time.

Quick reminder, as one of my financial-friends-in-my-head Michelle Singletary loves to say, “If it is on your ass, than it is not an asset.”

“But that’s what credit cards are for…” Your financial frenemy will say this when she is trying to convince you to buy something that is WAY out of your financial comfort zone. I mean, way out. Here’s the thing: credit card money IS NOT yours. If you could not afford to buy an item without the credit card, how do you expect to repay that amount of money PLUS the interest that is slapped on for borrowing someone else’s money?

Discerning between you financial frenemy and financial friend is a cornerstone to developing a healthy financial backbone. But be strong and of good courage when you come across the forked tongue of your financial frenemy. Your wallet and your financial future depend on it.

Kara is a life coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of The Frugal Feminista. She is also the author of the ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan. You can download it for free here. Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista.  

Preparing your college student to make good financial decisions

July 18, 2014

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Proquest LLC

You have figured out how you will pay for your childs college education. In a few weeks, they will be heading off to school. They will be required to make many decisions, including financial ones without consulting with you. Have you sat them down and had the talk, the one about budgeting their money, about you not being their ATM.

Once the basics of tuition, food, housing and books are taken care of, there many other ways for your college student to spend money. Expenses range from fraternity dues to dorm furnishings and entertainment. These expenses can easily add up.

The average American family wastes about 30 percent of their money because they dont know where they are spending it. You can help your child avoid this trap by helping them to develop a spending plan. A spending plan is simply a tool for planning how you will spend and save your money in order to accomplish your financial goals. There are four basic steps:

Identify income: You need to be clear what portion of their income will come from you. Will they need to get a part-time job to cover some of their miscellaneous expenses or to help with some of the basics of their education, like books?

List expenses: Expenses might include haircuts, entertainment, car notes and insurance, gas or cell phone bills. Let them know how important it is to track their expenditures. They can use an app, a checkbook register, or their computers.

Compare income and expenses: Are your income and expenses balanced? Do you have money left over at the end of the month? Have you included money for savings and emergencies? Are your expenses more than your income? If so, what adjustments will you make.

Set priorities and make adjustments: You need to be clear with them that resources are limited; you are not their ATM; and that they will have to establish priorities.

Another important discussion to have with your college student is about using and managing credit wisely. Oftentimes, it is during the college years that young adults receive their first credit card offers. It is important that you help them shop around for the best credit terms, interest rates and features. You need to ensure that they understand how to read the fine print when comparing offers; how to read their credit card statements; and understand what a credit score is and its impact their lives.

Establishing good credit is not difficult. Below are fundamentals of good credit management that you can discuss with your college student:

Establish a credit report — your personal bank or credit union is a good place to start.

Always pay as agreed — delinquent payments and payments that do not satisfy the minimum requirements have a negative impact on your credit report.

Keep balances low — maintaining balances low in comparison to available credit limits is a positive sign of good credit management

Apply for credit wisely — do not apply for multiple accounts within a short period of time. Even the appearance of taking on too much debt signals the lender that you are a high credit risk.

College is a great time for new experiences, learning, and exploring. Make sure that your college student is able to enjoy the time spent in college and leave without the heavy burden of debt.

Vanessa Bright is a family and consumer sciences financial literacy educator at the University of Maryland Extension. She is also the author of Dollars and Sense for Parents and Children available on Amazon. She lives in Odenton with her young son. She can be reached at, or visit

Student loan interest rate goes up, affects Arizona grads

July 17, 2014

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PHOENIX — Todays college graduates are leaving school with the highest amount of student loan debt in history — and they wont be getting any breaks on interest.

Financial planner Joe Gleason in Surprise, Ariz., said with the start of the 2015 fiscal year on Tuesday, interest rates for student loans took a jump.

The move today (Monday) was about a point, he said. So, basically, with these interest rates going up, its going to increase the amount of payments that people are making to pay them back.

Rates moved from 3.86 percent in Fiscal Year 2014 up to 4.66 for Fiscal Year 2015.

For Arizona graduates, Gleason said that means the average college graduate will pay roughly $100 more per year.

A lot of kids have student loan debt. Here in Arizona, its about $20,000 per student, on average, he said. So if they go to pay that back, its just going to increase those payment amounts.

Gleason recommends new graduates first take an inventory of all their loans.

Understand your debt (and) thats not just necessarily student loans, he said. That would include credit cards, that would include any car notes, (and) if they have a mortgage.

He said people should then look to pay down the loan with the highest interest rates.

If theyve got credit cards with double-digit interest rates, pay more toward those, he said. Maintain the minimum on some of the lower credit cards or the student loans.

Gleason also recommends staying in touch with lenders, in case students are not working right out of school or need help paying their loan.

Economic crisis costs graduates and the nation

July 17, 2014

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After Trevor Ogle graduated from UNCG in 2009, he said he imagined a career as a linguist, someone who would translate documents and conversations for a big international company.

That was a reasonable assumption. Ogle majored in linguistics and Russian studies and spoke three languages.

But when the economy crashed, big-business jobs dried up, and Ogle found himself toiling once again at the diner where he worked while in college. It took him 10 months to find his first professional job — as a bank teller, making just above minimum wage.

For Ogle and many other members of the class of 2009, the wretched economy — the worst since the Great Depression — meant not only that jobs were scarce but that the available work didn’t pay much.

Many of these graduates have struggled to pay off their student loans. Some delayed this day of reckoning by enrolling in graduate school — only to find that their pile of student-loan debts grew into a mountain while they pursued a master’s degree. These financial costs are borne not just by students but by the national economy, which is dragging in part because of the enormous student debt.

Ogle said his good grades and strong liberal arts education “should have translated into a job better than minimum wage. I’m a hard worker and trustworthy, and that apparently counted for nothing.”


By almost every economic measure, college graduates are better off than those who didn’t go to college. Their unemployment rates are lower, for one thing. And over the course of their lifetimes, those with a college degree will earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more than those who don’t have one.

But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that recent college graduates — including the members of the class of 2009 — have had it much rougher than their older siblings and especially their parents.

Consider the economic evidence:

o A bare majority of recent college graduates have full-time jobs. Only 51 percent of those who graduated between 2006 and 2011 were working full time, according to a 2012 survey from the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. Nearly a fourth were working only part time or not working at all.

o Recent college grads are earning less. The same Rutgers survey found that those who graduated between 2009 and 2011 — that is, after the recession — reported a median starting salary of $27,000. Those who graduated in 2006 or 2007 started out with salaries about $3,000 higher.

o Unemployment rates spiked for recent college grads. The unemployment rate for new college graduates in 1990 and 2000 was about 4 percent, according to a 2014 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For those who graduated between 2009 and 2011, however, the unemployment rate was about 10 percent in their first year out of school.

o Recent college graduates are underemployed. Roughly a third of all college graduates have jobs that don’t require degrees. For those who graduated during the recessions in the early 1990s and 2000, the rate of those who are underemployed ranged between 40 and 50 percent. But for those who graduated between 2009 and 2011, close to 60 percent got jobs after college that didn’t require a college degree.

“It was harder for these graduates to find employment,” said Dora Gicheva, an assistant professor of economics at UNCG. “But even if they do find employment, the pay is lower, and there’s less potential for moving up.”

Worse, Gicheva said, “the consequences seem to be lasting longer.”

The consequences — lost wages over a lifetime — are significant.

A 2009 study by a Yale University labor economy found that graduating from college during a recession has a negative impact on income that can last for decades.

The Yale study examined workers who graduated before, during and after the recession of the early 1980s. It found that those who graduated during that downturn earned 1 percent to 20 percent less per year than those who graduated before and after them.

“If things get better, things will look up for recent college graduates,” Gicheva said. “But people who graduated in 2009 will still experience the consequences. …

“The economy recovers,” she added, “but your career doesn’t recover all the way. If anything, it’ll be worse” for the class of 2009.

Grad school cruising

Can’t find a job?

No problem. Go to grad school.

Lots of recent graduates have done just that.

The Council of Graduate Schools reported that applications to US graduate schools in the fall of 2009 jumped 8.3 percent — the biggest one-year jump in a decade — then another 8.4 percent the next year.

Federal education statistics show that graduate school enrollment peaked in 2010 at more than 2.9 million — an increase of nearly 40 percent in a decade.

There were lots of reasons for the surge. Out-of-work and underemployed students figured they could improve their career odds, since someone with a graduate degree generally makes more money than someone with only a bachelor’s degree.

If someone with student debt returns to school full time, those loan payments can be delayed. And a 2006 federal law removed borrowing limits for graduate-school loans, which meant students could finance the entire cost of a PhD, an MBA or a law degree.

Jason Delisle called the recent rise in grad school enrollment “recession cruising.”

“They say, ‘I got out of school, I can’t find a job. Hey! I think I’ll go to grad school,'” said Delisle, an official with the New America Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that follows education and other issues.

But Delisle said there’s danger in this thinking. A foundation report he wrote in March found that one in four people who borrowed money to attend college owes nearly $100,000 in student loans. The bulk of that amount, Delisle noted, comes from the cost of graduate school.

The fear of borrowing more money scared some people away from graduate school.

One of them was Brian Guthrie, who owed about $30,000 when graduated from Guilford College in 2009 with a degree in sports medicine. His plan was to get his master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology from UNC-Charlotte.

Right before enrolling, Guthrie changed his mind.

Taking on more debt, he said, “was pretty much what made the decision for me.”

But many others bit the debt bullet and went to graduate school.

Cynamon Frierson had about $25,000 in student debt after getting her bachelor’s degree from UNCG in 2009 . When she returned to UNCG to get her MBA in 2012, her student debt load soared to about $60,000.

Frierson’s payments on her student debt run her about $400 a month — about the same, she noted, as the cost of a really nice car.

“That’s what I tell everyone,” Frierson said. “Student loans are the devil.”

Loan debts rise

Individual college graduates have been swept up by the rising tide of unemployment, underemployment and student debt. These trends also have swamped the nation’s economy.

Unemployment — and underemployment, in which college graduates are working in less skilled jobs for lower wages — are quietly hurting the federal and state governments.

According to Young Invincibles, a nonprofit youth advocacy group, every unemployed person between ages 25 and 34 costs state and federal governments almost $10,000 per year in lost tax revenue.

“We’re losing a lot of money because they’re not working and paying taxes,” said Tom Allison, policy and research manager for Young Invincibles. “This is costing a lot in lost revenue and lost opportunity.”

The real drag is student loan debt.

Outstanding student loans recently topped $1.1 trillion — more than credit cards or car notes, and second only to home mortgages.

To cover their student loan debt, more young Americans are moving back home. Among members of the millennial generation — those between ages 18 and 31 — nearly 1 in 5 of those living with their parents have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Recent college graduates, including those in the class of 2009, are putting off the purchase of their first homes. They’re delaying marriage and starting their own families.

About 1 in 10 members of the class of 2009 who borrowed money to attend school already have defaulted on their college loans. The New America Foundation estimates that these defaults cost American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year.

Some economists say the growth in student loan debt is slowing the nation’s economic recovery. The money that young adults once spent on cars, homes and other goods — things that goose the economy — are going instead to repay student loans.

Debbie Cochrane, research director for the nonprofit Institute for College Access amp; Success, said graduates were once able to buy cars and homes soon after college because student loan debt was more manageable.

“Now for the first time we’re seeing that young adults with student loans are less likely to do these things,” she said. “That’s a real cause for concern.

“We don’t want people to be repaying their loans when it’s time to save for their child’s education or their own retirement.”

Contact John Newsom at and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.

Mary Luquette: Goal, method, plan: Understanding interest

June 22, 2014

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There is a saying in finance: A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

This principle forms the basis of financial planning and with good reason. If a dollar can be earned and invested today, then it will be worth much more than receiving the same dollar in the future where its purchasing power can be eroded due to taxes and inflation. More importantly, the money deposited can be multiplied without the investor ever putting in more principal. Time will work for the investor instead of against him or her.

Interest can be earned in one of two ways: through simple interest or through compound interest. Simple interest is determined by multiplying the principal by the interest rate each year the money stays in the bank. For example, $1,000 earning 10 percent interest for three years would accumulate to $1,300 at the end of that time.

Compound interest goes further by paying interest on the principal each year and paying interest on the interest that the account has earned. For our example, $1,000 earning 10 percent interest for three years would accumulate $1,331 at the end of that time (or $31 more) and all the investor had to do was leave it alone. This compounding is used in most loans, home mortgages, car notes and deposits at a financial institution, such as a bank or credit union.

It is important to note that although compound interest can work on behalf of the investor, it can work against the borrower. A credit card balance that is carried over month after month becomes burdened by the compound interest charged on the account. A person who borrows money for a home using a 30-year-loan may actually pay twice for the house once the principal and interest are taken into account.

Using this concept, determining what needs to be deposited to achieve a specific end amount is quite easy. Financial calculators do most of the work. There are many websites that offer a “digital” financial calculator in case the investor needs one.

Utilizing the time-value-of-money principle can make financial goal attainment much easier and a “what if” scenario can be examined. Suppose a person would like to buy a home for $300,000. A 20 percent down payment may be required along with closing costs so the initial purchase may have to wait until this initial cost can be accumulated, let’s assume six years. The home buyer has a definite goal ($300,000 X .20 = $60,000 + $8,000 in closing costs) and a game plan (to accomplish this in six years).

Using the time value of money, the home buyer would need to deposit $10,328 into an account that would earn at least 3 percent interest. So a concrete financial goal has been set, the method of achieving that goal has been determined and the investor knows how to reach it.

If the deposit only earned simple interest and the same amount of money was being deposited annually, it would take eight years for the interest earned to accumulate enough to have the $68,000. Compound interest helped achieve the end goal in less time.

Learning how to work a financial calculator is a good way to experiment with different what-if scenarios such as car buying, keeping a balance on the credit card or looking at retirement savings. There are different styles of calculators, they are reasonably priced, and they all do the same basic calculations. Visit various websites, such as or for a couple of the more popular brands, or visit an office supply store for information.