√ The descent of the Swarovski laden ball on New Years Eve in Time Square signifies more than just the beginning of the New Year. Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has stalled at $7.25 an hour, but that is about to change for twenty states. The list includes Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York and Washington State. Each will eventually boost its minimum wage to at least $12 and as much as $15 an hour by phasing in the change. 13 Counties and cities will notice the difference immediately on Jaunary 1, reaching or exceeding $15 an hour. Critics maintain pay increases should be based on local economies. On another note: President Trump signs an executive order freezing federal workers’ pay in 2019 saying the federal government cannot afford it. The new Congress can include a pay raise for 2019 in a spending bill.
√ According to the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S smoking rate has dropped-down to 14 percent in 2017. Despite the lower rate, about 35 million American adults continue to light up and 480 thousand still die every year from smoking related illness. Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 or younger smoke their first cigarette. Sobering Statistic: If smoking continues at the current rate for those under 18-it is projected 5.6 million will die from smoking-related illness. In addition there is a 78 percent increase in vaping by high school students. E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful ingredients. However, the devices’ aerosol generally contains fewer harmful chemicals than smoke burned from tobacco products. The CDC is beginning the process to ban menthol in cigarettes and limit sales of flavored e-cigarettes to youth. China is the world’s largest overall consumer of cigarettes. In the United States someone smoking a pack a day spends on average $70 per week or $3640 per year. Could be a lovely vacation.
√ You want to throw your child a great Birthday Party. One problem-the cost is rapidly becoming prohibitive. One solution-charge other kids parents a fee for their child to attend the party. That is just what one mother has done. She actually sent out invitations asking that a $25 check be returned “with your RSVP if attending.” And, by the way-NO-this does not include the gift you are expected to bring to the party. Question: Would you send your child to the party if you had to enclose a $25 check to defray costs?
Source: Gary R’nel
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