Money Talks, So Should You

Morning Springboard | Friday, Aug. 10

Erin O'Neil
by Erin O'Neil, Staff Writer (@econeil)

Bloc Party might have to start singing about the price of corn instead of gas. There’s a massive drought affecting a large portion of the United States, and hot, dry weather can also cause a cash drought for your wallet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn accounts for 90 percent of feed grain use and production. Translation — a lot of the food we eat contains some derivative of corn. The drought has killed off thousands of acres of corn crops, drastically reducing supply and causing the price of corn to spike. The Wall Street Journal explains how the corn shortage may shortly affect prices at the supermarket.  Wall Street Journal

>> To pay or not to pay: that is the question parents may be asking themselves upon learning the staggering cost of extracurricular activities for their children. Between music lessons, art or dance classes, language classes and sports, the costs can add up fast. And then there’s also the added expenses for supplies and equipment (God help you if your child wants to learn horseback riding). Erin Guerrieri explores the innate wish of parents to develop kids’ strengths and the reality of the huge impact classes and lessons have on the family budget. Dimespring

>> Today’s investing options range from snooze-inducing (bonds, CDs) to terrifying and/or volatile (almost everything else). Reuters gives an overview on the pros of SWAG, which stands for Silver, Wine, Art and Gold, not the free tchotchkes vendors hand out at trade shows. SWAG assets are tangible and tend to hold value long term, which may make them a better investment for some in this market. So now might be a great time to buy that Picasso you’ve always wanted. Reuters

>> Identity thieves have scored big on a new mark — the Internal Revenue Service. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that billions of tax refunds fall into the hands of criminals annually. Nefarious filers use fake or old social security numbers to fabricate returns, often choosing the direct deposit option to grab the cash before the government catches on. Since issues of privacy and bureaucracy mean the IRS has delayed access to data, it’s hard to spot the fakes before the damage is done. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Erin is a reporter on banking and personal finance at Banks.com. A former freelance writer with a niche in personal finance, Erin’s background includes more than six years in the finance industry. Her hands-on finance experience ranges from financial planning with “main street” Americans at a top brokerage house to working for high-net-worth clients on asset management, investing and estate planning at an award-winning boutique firm.