World Environment Day

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Here’s a striking photo of an environmental activist dressed as a whale killed by a harpoon performs during a rally to commemorate World Environment Day in Vina del Mar city near Santiago.

Pelicans covered in oil

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Some of the other photos out there are much worse, but it’s heartbreaking to see these pelicans covered in oil.

Meanwhile, oil spill protests are heating up against BP.

We’ve added more depressing photos after the jump.

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President Obama arrives in New Orleans as BP tries to contain the spill

Photo from fOTOGLIF

President Barack Obama is greeted by Florida Governor Charlie Crist, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, upon Obama’s arrival in New Orleans this afternoon. Obama traveled to the Louisiana gulf coast to further assess damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Meanwhile, BP is still working on an effort to capture the oil spewing from the sea floor.

A Prepaid Allowance

Nearly everyone has tugged the hem of a parent’s garment or cautiously tapped them on the shoulder and, with hand extended, asked for their allowance. Long has been the tradition for parents to mete out a little cash as reward or payment for good behavior and completion of chores. But we are moving into a world where cash is no longer the standard operating currency. So, more and more, prepaid credit cards are becoming a viable, and desirable, option.

A prepaid credit card mimics a debit account card, allowing the user, for this example a well-behaved child, to draw only on the money existing in the account. A parent can simply open an account, deposit money, and after paying a small fee, usually five to ten dollars, hand the card off to the youngster confident in the knowledge that the child’s spending is limited. As children under eighteen don’t qualify for stand-alone credit cards, these cards are perfect for the teen set.
An added value of prepaid cards is that they teach children the responsibilities of using a credit card without the dangers inherent in handing them one of yours. Children can track how much they have in the account and determine which purchases seem relevant to their lives. Lessons on budget management, thrift, and saving abound.

Holidays and birthdays also make splendid occasions to bestow a prepaid card upon a child. As most adult know, shopping for kids is a precarious and often unrewarding experience. A prepaid card allows the child the freedom to get just what they’ve always wanted.

Prepaid cards are issued by most major credit card companies, making it easy to check either online or with your bank to set up an account. The happiness and security of your child’s finances will be your reward.

Killing Multiple Birds With One Stone

Try to guess the significance of the following number: 2.5 trillion. If you guessed “consumer debt in the United States,” you were correct. The above stat comes courtesy of the Federal Reserve. If we divide that debt across all American households, you get the often-quoted figure of $8,100 in consumer debt per household. Keep in mind that this is consumer debt, defined as debt that does not include home mortgages. These numbers should not come as a surprise with the fairly easy credit approval process and the average American holding at least two credit cards.

So how does one dig out of debt?
Eliminating debt is straightforward when there is only one creditor owed. The situation becomes increasingly difficult for those who have multiple credit cards. Debt consolidation has been a popular approach to help individuals and families start the process of eliminating debt. Consolidating debt is not new but it certainly is spoken of a lot more as economic conditions deteriorate. The concept is simple. Instead of making individual payments to every source of debt, each with a different interest rate, debt consolidation would bundle everything together into one. The debt consolidator would, in essence, become the creditor and would manage the individual payments to the original debts.

There are many companies that offer debt consolidation. Most companies provide a counselor to evaluate each candidate and their financial situation. The consolidator will usually offer multiple plans, but only after you qualify. Plans will vary depending on how much can be paid monthly and other market forces such as current interest rates.

Consumers should do their homework and evaluate their options as they move forward in the process. Debt consolidation is not the “magic bullet,” but it can certainly help.

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