Survey of Consumer Finances 2013 Results have been released!

Several visitors have notified me the release of the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) 2013 data.  In the 3 years between the previous survey in 2010, the economy has improved, unemployment is down, and the stock market has soared.  All of these factors have suggested that American’s finances (adjusted for inflation) would have improved since then.  I’m working on updating them to the new data set over the next month.

The first few publications from the Federal Reserve have shown that this is not the case, and in fact, median net worth and income is down since 2010.  This is on top of the drop from 2007 to 2010.  Mean income and net worth on the other hand have increased since 2010, which is an indicator of an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth.

income_scf_2013networth_scf_2013

 

A couple other highlights:

  • Mean Net Worth Increased only in the lowest 25% and the top 10%.
  • Mean & Medium income increased only for the top 20%.
  • Overall US Household debt has decreased– this may have been affected by the drop in home ownership.
  • The importance of college degrees continues to grow as college degree holders showed 1% inflation adjusted growth in median income over the past 3 years compared to drops in median income for less educated people (-6% to -11%).

See the whole article here: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bulletin/2014/pdf/scf14.pdf

Note the numbers might not line up exactly with the numbers on the calculators here due to inflation adjustments and some differences in the weightings used–the Federal Reserve doesn’t publish the exact weightings that they use for publications but they publish one set that is fairly close.

American Retirement Savings

Bankrate recently made headlines about American retirement savings.  According to Bankrate’s August 2014 Financial Security Index, 36% of all Americans have not started to save for retirement. This is much lower than the almost 50% of Americans surveyed in the Survey of Consumer Finances in 2010 who reported $0 in retirement savings.

This is the question and the survey results:

Screenshot 2014-08-19 at 1.45.49 PM

The question doesn’t ask about how much people have saved, just if they have started to save.  So I decided to compare these results to the results from the 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances from the Federal Reserve, where there is a survey question that asks how much the household being surveyed has saved for retirement, which includes IRA’s, 401k, Pensions,Thrift Savings, etc.

According to the SCF, 49.59% of the Americans they surveyed in 2010 did not have retirement savings.  So there appears to be a disconnect between people starting to safe for retirement and actually being able to accrue positive balances on their accounts.  4 years have past between the SCF survey and Bankrate’s 2014 survey, but recent news sources have shown declines in median networth during recent years.  Almost 64% of Americans have started to save but only 40% have retirement account balances above $10000.

This situation highlights one of problems with saving retirement, stability.  Half the battle is beginning to save, and the other half is being able to save enough to make a difference.

New Tool : Financial Health Calculator

The newest tool to the Shnugi set of tools to manage your personal finances is the Financial Health Meter found at: http://www.shnugi.com/financial-health-calculator/ . This simple tool needs only a few parameters to give you a quick view of your overall financial standing compared to others in your same age bracket. The goal of the tool was to save you time by combining the most popular features of the current set of tools into a quick summary so that you can compare your current status across several broad metrics.

Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4 Sounds Muffled

People were telling me that I sounded muffled when they would call, so I started playing around with the call settings.

Here’s a diagram of the call screen:

2013-07-17 10.32.53

Potential Problems and Possible Fixes:

  • You sound muffled: Turn off noise reduction.  I’ve highlighted the icon with a green circle (right above the Add Call button.  The side effect of this is that you might echo a little bit.
  • They can’t hear you very well: Speak into the correct microphone.  It seems like the microphone on the top of the phone is used on speakerphone calls, while the microphone on the bottom is used for regular calls.
  • You’re echoing: You might want to try out the noise reduction option.

Please share your tips and tricks that have helped other people hear you better on your Samsung Galaxy S4!

Cellphone Battery Saving Techniques – Verizon Samsung Galaxy S4

After an unfortunate accident with a sidewalk, my trusted old Incredible 2 is no longer in service.  So, I’ve upgraded to a new Samsung Galaxy S4. I could get 2-3 hours of on screen time out of the box and at least 12 hours of battery life overall, which was kind of disappointing, since I could squeeze about 2 hours of screen time from my old phone.   I’ve fiddled with some of the settings, and I’ve gotten the screen time to last 3-4 hours and total battery life to around a full 24 hours.

Here are the settings that I’ve used to get there, and a couple potential watch outs:

  1. Standard Options: Turn off all the fancy hand waving and eye tracking functions (Smart Stay, Driving Mode, S Beam, Air View, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause), and make sure Bluetooth and GPS are off as well (unless you need them), and turn on Power Saving mode.  Power saving mode basically dims your phone screen slightly compared to the default auto-adjusting screen setting.2013-07-27 18.13.55
  2. Get JuiceDefender Plus or a similar app that will only allow background syncing to occur at certain times of the day or on Wifi only.
  3. Check for battery leeches!  Sometimes the GPS doesn’t turn off! Even though the GPS setting on my menu screen says that GPS is off, my battery meter shows it as active.  Thankfully the GPS on the Galaxy S4 isn’t as much of a battery hog as my old phone, but checking for this could easily save you a couple hours of battery idle time.  The only way that I’ve figured out to clear out the GPS is to restart the phone.
    2013-07-17 10.36.26 2013-07-17 10.36.12

Accidentally disabled HP Elite book touchpad

image

I found this out the hard way. If you double click the little dot in the top left hand corner of your touch pad, you’ll switch between enabling and disabling your touch pad. It’s a quick fix, but kind of confusing the first time you have to try to turn it back on.

I’ve attached a picture of the dot on my laptop so maybe you’ll notice yours.

Rooting & Install Custom ROM on HTC Droid Incredible 2

There’s a lot of different guides out there and they’re all kind of confusing. Make sure all your stuff is saved somewhere else, because this will wipe all your app data.

I followed this guide to root. Make sure you installed the ClockWorkMod Recovery: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1751796

I had a couple problems with an endless rebooting loop once it was rooted. I had to put it in recovery mode by:

  1. Turning off the phone
  2. Pressing the On button and Volume down button at the same time

Then I went into Recovery (use the volume up down to navigate, the power button is enter).

This opens the ClockworkMod Recovery, which you can use to install a custom ROM from your phone’s SD card.

Basically, you’re going to want to pull the SD card out of your phone and drop the zip files for the ROM and GApps file that you can download from here : http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1561816 (This is for CM9, which is the Cyanogen Ice Cream Sandwich release)

Put the SD card back into your phone, and then have the Recovery software install from Zip.

Wipe Data, Cache, and system from the Recovery program.

Now install the ROM from the zip file, and then install the GApps file.

 

Rooted Incredible 2 running CM9 will not update or download from Google Play

After waiting what seems like a year for Android ICS to get an official roll out  I decided to jump the gun and install Cyanogen 9 on my phone. For some reason, my Google Play store stopped working. I could search for apps, but when I tried to download or update I would get an endless downloading status bar.

Well, I found this tip a couple places on the internet and this did the trick.

Open up the terminal app– mine was called Terminal Emulator, and follow these steps.

  1. Type: su
  2. Hit Enter, and a prompt will pop up asking for you to allow super user permissions for the terminal app. Make sure you say yes.
  3. Type: killall drmserver
  4. Hit Enter, and now your Play store might work.

Screenshot_2013-01-26-19-26-27

I still have no idea what was actually wrong, but at least my apps are updating.

No Root Screenshot It: On the Incredible 2

HTC Android screenshot of home screen

UPDATE:  The newest update from Verizon allows you to take screenshots by pressing the Power and Home buttons at the same time.

There is now an easy way to take screenshots on your HTC Droid Incredible 2 android phone, without having to root it.  It’s kind of an oversight that there isn’t an easy way to take screenshots. But, thanks to No Root Screenshot It there’s a kind of easy way to get your droid to take screenshots.

So basically, go over to the Android Market and buy No Root Screenshot It by Edward Kim. There’s a couple versions out there, but for an Incredible 2 that is not rooted you need to get the No Root version that sells for $5.

The instructions for installing the are great and walk you through the general steps, but I just wanted to share a couple tips that apply to the Incredible 2.

The instructions tell you go download the USB drivers for your phone at this URL:

http://developer.android.com/sdk/oem-usb.html

It redirects you to HTC’s website, and then you need to find your phone, the link to the Incredible 2’s diver is here: http://www.htc.com/us/support/incredible2-verizon/downloads/

Download HTC SYNC for the Incredible 2, and the USB driver will be installed with it.

And then here’s the link to the Desktop installer for Screenshot It, which enables your phone to take screenshots: http://www.lindylabs.com/screenshot_it/

The app’s not perfect. It seems like when I try to use the shake feature, it fails the first time. But, I really can’t complain until Android builds something into the software.

 

Gayest States in America

Based on data from the 2010 US census, the states with the highest percentage of partnered same-sex households are:

  1. Massachusetts: 1.92%
  2. Vermont: 1.89%
  3. New Mexico: 1.84%
  4. New York: 1.77%
  5. California: 1.76%

With an honorable mention to the District of Columbia with a fabulous 6.5%.

And the lowest:

  1. North Dakota: 0.72%
  2. South Dakota: 0.76%
  3. Wyoming: 0.87%
  4. Idaho: 0.91%
  5. Nebraska: 0.91%

I think the moral of this story is that gay people do settle down, just not in the frozen plains.

Note: These numbers are of a percentage of partnered households (same-sex and opposite-sex, regardless of marriage status), so single households and other types of households are excluded.

Here’s a little map to help you see trends. The darker the purple, the more same-sex couples there are as a percentage of the number of partnered households.

Find your state:

CategorySame Sex HouseholdsOpposite Sex Households
Alabama1.14%98.86%
Alaska1.24%98.76%
Arizona1.57%98.43%
Arkansas1.11%98.89%
California1.76%98.24%
Colorado1.47%98.53%
Connecticut1.41%98.59%
Delaware1.76%98.24%
District of Columbia6.50%93.50%
Florida1.64%98.36%
Georgia1.55%98.45%
Hawaii1.61%98.39%
Idaho0.91%99.09%
Illinois1.23%98.77%
Indiana1.16%98.84%
Iowa0.92%99.08%
Kansas0.98%99.02%
Kentucky1.21%98.79%
Louisiana1.37%98.63%
Maine1.68%98.32%
Maryland1.46%98.54%
Massachusetts1.92%98.08%
Michigan1.04%98.96%
Minnesota1.14%98.86%
Mississippi1.10%98.90%
Missouri1.16%98.84%
Montana1.00%99.00%
Nebraska0.91%99.09%
Nevada1.70%98.30%
New Hampshire1.48%98.52%
New Jersey1.31%98.69%
New Mexico1.84%98.16%
New York1.77%98.23%
North Carolina1.34%98.66%
North Dakota0.72%99.28%
Ohio1.15%98.85%
Oklahoma1.21%98.79%
Oregon1.75%98.25%
Pennsylvania1.22%98.78%
Puerto Rico0.93%99.07%
Rhode Island1.70%98.30%
South Carolina1.20%98.80%
South Dakota0.76%99.24%
Tennessee1.20%98.80%
Texas1.34%98.66%
Utah1.01%98.99%
Vermont1.89%98.11%
Virginia1.20%98.80%
Washington1.63%98.37%
West Virginia1.22%98.78%
Wisconsin1.05%98.95%
Wyoming0.87%99.13%

In the interest of transparency, here’s the original data table from the US 2010 Census with the numbers of how many same-sex, opposite-sex, and single households there were in the USA in 2010: DEC_10_SF1_PCT15
If you’d like to pull it directly from the Census website search for table PCT15.