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We all know about the history of salary disparity between genders. But do you know where our country currently stands, and whether women have gained the upper hand in any industries?

Let’s start with the bad news. There is no country in the world where, on average, women make more than men. In fact, the global average pay gap suggests that women are paid 24% less than men.

The granular picture is somehow even more painful. Average pay gaps, on a national level, run from the frankly shocking 36.6% gap in South Korea, to the best of the bunch: a still-alarming 5.6% in New Zealand. So, even in the most equitable country in the world, a woman is paid, on average, 94.4 cents in the dollar compared to a man — a difference that mounts up quickly over a working lifetime.

In the USA, the big headline number is a 21% pay gap. However, we all know that statistics can mask a multitude of issues. Whatever else you can say about gender pay disparity, you certainly can’t describe it as simple.

So for American women (as with those all over the globe), salary parity with men will depend on a whole raft of other factors as well. Ethnicity, working hours, age, location and whether or not you have children shift the pattern significantly.

AAUW explains, for example, that in the USA:

“Women typically earn about 90 percent of what men are paid until they hit 35. After that median earnings for women are typically 76–81 percent of what men are paid.”

So the chances of salary parity vary from country to country, and state to state. But they also vary based on the type of industry and role in which women work. Here, perhaps, is a small light burning at the end of the tunnel.

Jobs with Salary Equality

A recent report by Glassdoor looked at over half a million salaries shared on their site, and examined this data by gender and sector. Salaries were ‘adjusted’ to ensure that like was being compared with like, as closely as possible.

It found the adjusted gender pay gap in the USA was largest in the following roles:

  • computer programmer
  • chef
  • dentist
  • C-suite professionals
  • psychologist
  • pharmacist
  • CAD designer

However, the gender pay gap was reversed — meaning that women are actually paid more than men — for certain occupations, such as:

  • social worker
  • merchandiser
  • research assistant
  • purchasing specialist
  • physician advisor
  • communications associate

In total, eleven of the occupations reviewed showed women’s pay was higher than men, with the highest margin in social work and merchandising (7.8% and 7.6% respectively). To put that into perspective, this means that a female social worker in the US is paid $1.08 for each dollar her male counterpart is paid.

It’s true that the reverse pay gap in these industries is nowhere near high enough to bring the overall average (negative) pay gap down. It is also true that many of these positions are relatively low paid, and in typically ‘female’ industries.

Ultimately a pay gap in either direction is undesirable. Gender should not affect remuneration at all. Current predictions say that it will take a century to wipe out the pay gap entirely, at current rates of progress. As such, any positive movement is welcome.

Does it matter?

So there are some industries and roles in which women may hope to be paid the same, or even more, than men doing similar jobs. But does it really matter?

On an individual level, it makes much more sense to go into a sector that holds genuine personal appeal, and where you can deliver a truly great job. Pay gap stats are all about averages. The top performers in any role will always be rewarded better than average. So for women considering a career move, perhaps the choice of an industry or segment which is pay biased in favor of women is not so important.

What you can do, however, is keep your skills and qualifications updated. Be sure to deliver an exceptional-quality job, whatever you do. You can learn to negotiate for salary without embarrassment (something men still do far more readily than women). And you can call any discrimination if you see it.

That way, perhaps, we will profit as individuals, but also by contributing overall to the progress being made in pay equality for ourselves and our daughters.

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On September 7, 2016, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Trendsetters will have been eagerly awaiting today, the 16th, when the new iPhones start being shipped; preorders started on the 9th.

There is no doubt that this launch will be successful. Apple occupies 40% of the smartphone market share — the largest majority. This market control coupled with Apple’s customer-brand loyalty makes it easy to expect the iPhone 7 phones to be a big hit.

iPhone 7 Features

Let’s take a look at the key features of the iPhone 7 — some of which are standard among all iPhones and some of which are new and upgraded.

Design:

  • The sleek design is standard among iPhones in general.
  • What’s new is the water and dust resistance. The water resistance, especially, should give you peace of mind when in wet environments such as the rain or bath.
  • Colors include: jet black, matte black, silver, rose gold, gold, and space gray. The jet black and matte black are new.

Headphone Jack:

  • It’s gone! Apple nixed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 edition
  • Instead, customers will receive “Lightning EarPods” that fit in the same port as the charger. Customers can also opt to purchase wireless Bluetooth headphones. Apple has released its own wireless Bluetooth headphones, called AirPods.

Camera:

  • Apple has overhauled its camera technology for the iPhone 7. The rear camera is 12 megapixels; and the front camera is 7 megapixels.
  • The rear camera is touted to let in 50% more light than the iPhone 6 did. It is also 30% more energy efficient and 60% faster.

Battery:

  • Apple claims that the iPhone 7 will have the longest-lasting battery ever. It will generate two more hours of battery life than the iPhone 6.
  • Apple claims the iPhone 7 can offer 13 hours of wireless audio, which is pretty nice.

Display:

  • The iPhone 7 has the same screen size as the iPhone 6: 4.7 inches.
  • The iPhone 7 has a brighter display than the iPhone 6 with a resolution of 1334×750.

iPhone 7 Price

The retail prices for the iPhone 7 phones are as follows:

iPhone 7 32GB $649
128GB $749
256GB $849
iPhone 7 Plus 32GB $769
128GB $869
256GB $969

 

There are ways to offset these large price tags, however. First, if you have an older model iPhone, you can trade it in for an Apple gift card and then use that gift card towards the purchase of the iPhone 7. Here are the estimated trade-in values (information from Apple’s website):

  • iPhone 4s: $50
  • iPhone 5, 5c: $75
  • iPhone 5s: $125
  • iPhone 6: $225
  • iPhone 6 Plus: $250

Another way to offset the cost of the new iPhone 7 is pay for it in monthly installments through one of the large cell phone service providers. For example, Verizon is offering a monthly installment plan of $27.08 per month for 24 months.

Wrapping Up

Is the new iPhone 7 worth the large price tag? For technology trendsetters, the answer is a surefire “yes”. For most of us, the answer may not be that clear.

The features are definitely attractive. But when you take a closer look at just the new features, you may realize that the iPhone 7 isn’t that much different from the iPhone 6 to justify shelling out another $600 to $900. If you have an older model iPhone, trading it may work out to be a good deal for you.

Ultimately, the decision to purchase the new iPhone 7 will come down to your wants versus your needs. Do you have the room in your budget right now for the phone? Are you willing to sacrifice additional savings to have the newest technology? These are just a couple of questions you’ll want to consider before making the purchase.

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Can you believe we’re already in September? The year has flown by, and IRS Tax Year 2016 will soon be coming to a close. While your filing deadline isn’t until April 17, 2017 (the 15th will fall on a Saturday), now is the perfect time to begin thinking about your taxes, maxing out your retirement contributions, and tying off of deductible expenses/donations.

So you can plan ahead, here are the IRS tax rates for your 2016 earnings, along with a little insight. Many of these have changed from last year, as they will almost always do in order to avoid a “bracket creep.” This is what happens when you get bumped up to the next tax bracket based on inflation, and not because you are actually earning more.

If you work for an employer, you’re probably very familiar with the taxes that are automatically withdrawn from your check each month. You are essentially prepaying your tax bill. Depending on how much you make before midnight on December 31, the number of exemptions you qualify for, etc., you will either owe additional money to the IRS or get a refund for overpayment. (Unless you’re a tax whiz who calculated your payments perfectly all year, of course, in which case you’re welcome to do mine, too!)

Curious how much the highest earners will pay in tax year 2016? The top marginal rate will again be 39.6 percent.

What are the 2016 marginal tax rates?

For those not well-versed in tax structure (which includes most people, I’d imagine), there’s a common misconception. Many people are afraid to earn more money because they don’t want to be bumped up into the next tax bracket. They don’t want to have all of their income taxed at an even higher rate than they’re already paying. Well, this is not actually how it works, as your effective tax rate and marginal tax rates are often very different. The only income tax applied at the highest rate, is on that income above and beyond the lower limits for that rate.

Confused? Let me explain further.

Pretent you make $50,000 this year. Or $5,000. Or even $500,000… the number is arbitrary. No matter what, your first $9,275 of earned income (if you file as a single individual, not jointly), will be taxed at the lowest tax rate: 10 percent. It doesn’t matter how many zeros are in that Income Earned box… your first $9,275 is taxed at 10 percent. This is called the “lowest tax bracket.” To determine your effective tax rate, you divide the amount of total tax owed by your entire income — if you don’t earn enough to get out of that lowest bracket, your marginal tax rate and your effective tax rate will be the same. Again, 10 percent.

This dynamic is why Warren Buffet says his secretary ‘pays more tax than he does.’ He earns a large portion of his income from investments, which are taxed at a lower percentage and therefore drop his average (effective) tax rate. As most of his secretary’s income (presumably) comes from wages, her effective tax rate is higher. I would still imagine that his actual tax bill is considerably larger than hers, however.

Let’s look at the chart:

[click to continue…]

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Most taxpayers can choose between itemizing tax deductions to reduce taxable income, which requires accurate record-keeping and support, and taking the standard deduction. The standard tax deduction is a fixed amount that reduces the amount of money on which year-end taxes are calculated. Generally, if you can show that you’ve had more deductible expenses than the amount of the default standard deduction, it’s better to itemize.

IRS publication 501 outlines each year’s deduction amounts. There are some cases where adjustments should be made to the standard deduction. For example, if you are 65 or older, or if you are blind, the standard deduction increases.

The personal exemption is another deduction to your income that you can take for yourself and for any dependents.

Tax Year 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Single $6,300 $6,300 $6,200 $6,100 $5,950 $5,800 $5,700 $5,700
Married filing jointly $12,600 $12,600 $12,400 $12,200 $11,900 $11,600 $11,400 $11,400
Married filing separately $6,300 $6,300 $6,200 $6,100 $5,950 $5,800 $5,700 $5,700
Head of household $9,300 $9,250 $9,100 $8,950 $8,700 $8,500 $8.400 $8,350
Personal exemption $4,050 $4,000 $3,950 $3,900 $3,800 $3,750 $3,650 $3,650

Note: When you file taxes in April 2017, you’re actually filing for your 2016 earned income. Review the numbers in the 2016 column and understand the federal tax brackets.

A dependent child can increase the standard deduction by as much as $1,000, if certain requirements are met.

Do you itemize your tax deductions or take the standard deduction?

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Wells Fargo Fined for Creating 2 Million Fake Accounts to Collect Fraudulent Fees

by Stephanie Colestock
Wells Fargo

Everyone hates bank maintenance fees. (If you don’t, email me – I have a few you’re welcome to take.) So, what would you think if you discovered that your bank had been charging you fees for an account you never opened? In fact, THEY secretly submitted an application and opened that account on your behalf. […]

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Why 60,000 Morgan Stanley Employees are Suing Over Their 401(k) Accounts’ Management

by Stephanie Colestock

If you’re unhappy with your 401(k), rest easy… you’re not alone. In fact, on August 19, over 60,000 employees joined up and filed a class action lawsuit against their employer, Morgan Stanley. Their reason: questionably managed and poorly performing 401(k) plans. It’s one thing to ask workers to stay late or forget to restock the […]

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Another Insurance Giant Withdraws from Obamacare — What Does This Mean for You?

by Stephanie Colestock

This year has been a rough one for health insurance companies of all sizes. With the recent news of Aetna withdrawing from most of its Obamacare exchanges, many Americans are beginning to worry about their shrinking options, skyrocketing premiums, and where they’ll even find services. Scarily enough, Aetna is not alone in its decision, and […]

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Cheap Flight Day: Now’s the Time to Plan Those Last-Minute Getaways

by Stephanie Colestock

A few weeks ago, Rick Seany of FareCompare published an article about the upcoming Cheap Flight Day. This certainly piqued my interest. While I have heard of National PB&J Day (April 2) and Men Make Dinner Day (the 1st Thursday in November — mark your calendars, ladies), I hadn’t ever heard of an airfare discount […]

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9 ways to reduce student loan debt before you owe

by Richard Barrington

It’s late May, and a new crop of students is preparing to go on to college. One of my less pleasant memories was the agonizing process of securing financing so I could pursue my degree. Though it’s many years later, I’d like to share what I learned that can make paying student loans more manageable […]

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How Much to Save for Retirement in Your 30s, 40s and 50s

by Satta Sarmah Hightower

Saving for retirement is a long game, but the idea of preparing for something decades away is counterintuitive for many of us. However, consistent saving is crucial for retirement planning. Here’s expert advice for how to prepare in your 30s, 40s and 50s. Your 30s Saving for retirement really should begin in earnest during your […]

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