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How to Have a Blast on a Budget

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How to Have a Blast on a Budget

Having fun on a budget can be hard.

Your friends invited you to go out this Friday and your kids are begging to see a movie on Saturday. But in the back of your mind you know it’s going to drain the bank account.

The good news is you don’t need to spend a ton of money at a restaurant or the movies to have a good time. With a little research and some effort, you can have a blast for cheap and even free.

If you’re on a budget, consider these options to have fun:

1. Use free or cheap public resources

Before renting a movie or subscribing to a streaming service, check out your local library. A lot of libraries have a solid selection of movies and TV shows available.

Take your group of friends or kids along and let them browse until they find something you can watch together. Go home and have a movie night!

If it’s sunny outside, visit your local parks and trails. A quick search on the internet should give you a couple of options. And if you have the right equipment, head to a free sports venue–  a basketball court, volleyball net, or a disc golf course.

Before planning your weekend, research your community calendar. Most public events are cheap or free, such as:

Concerts
Art exhibitions
Parades
Markets
Wine and beer tastings

Even if the event sells items, you don’t have to purchase them. Just attending can still be a lot of fun.

2. Use the supplies you’ve already purchased

You’d be surprised how much fun you can have with what you already own at home.

Most of the time having fun means having good conversations and finding something to do while talking. That can be as easy sitting around a table and coloring while discussing your usual topics.

If you’re looking for a more involved activity, search for board games. Dust off Risk or Monopoly, clear the dining room table and have a game night.

If you have a deck of cards, ask if anyone knows a good card game or look one up online. A popular option is golf.

Want to do something more active? Turn to the internet and explore Do-It-Yourself projects on YouTube or recipes on Pinterest.

Collaborate on a baking project, put some music on in the kitchen, and laugh your way to some delicious cookies.

3. Use the internet to have fun

There are tons of options for free or cheap fun on the internet.

Download Spotify for free music and create an epic playlist together. Explore the globe on Google Maps.

Gather around your biggest screen and watch the funniest YouTube videos you know. America’s Funniest Home Videos has a rich channel to explore. Alternatively, hunt down a hilarious podcast and listen together.

If any of your friends or family have a Netflix or Amazon Prime Account, ask if you can have access. You’ll never run out of things to watch.

You don’t even have to meet in person to have fun online. Find a free online game and play together remotely. Google “free online games” and find one you and your friends like. If you need a suggestion, check out Chess.com.

If you’re trying to get outdoors, try GeoCaching (Requires a smartphone). Geocaching is essentially a treasure hunt.

Other individuals in your community may have hidden random items, such as a lunchbox with a list you can add your name to. They record the location of these items on the GeoCache app. Now the public can hunt them and get exercise while having fun.

Conclusion

Having fun on the cheap is possible, but it takes research and effort. When we pay for fun, we’re largely paying for convenience. If you can go forego convenience, you can have fun and save money.

The real trick is converting your friends and family. But if you demonstrate how to have fun for free, they’ll soon join.

Take note of your public resources, what you already own, and explore the internet.

You’ll find something you love doing for free.

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Economy

Next Wave of Stimulus Could Be $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

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Next Wave of Stimulus Could Be $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

“Phase 4” of the government’s economic stimulus plan could include spending up to $2 trillion on improving America’s infrastructure.

The bill already has bipartisan support, and could be voted on as soon as April 20th when representatives of both the House and Senate return to Washington, D.C.

During his 2016 campaign, President Trump said he would make improving America’s roads, bridges and airports a top priority during his time in office.

“The only one to fix the infrastructure of our country is me – roads, airports, bridges,” Trump tweeted on May 12, 2015. “I know how to build, [politicians] only know how to talk!”

While previous attempts to pass a major infrastructure bill have failed, both sides seem willing to try again in an effort to help America’s economy rebound from the coronavirus outbreak.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is often at odds with the President, said she is “pleased the president has returned to his interest” in the issue. She called an infrastructure proposal “essential because of the historic nature of the health and economic emergency that we are confronting.”

She added “I think we come back April 20, God willing and coronavirus willing, but shortly thereafter we should be able to move forward.”

The Democrat’s proposal is part of a five-year, $760 billion package that includes money for community health centers, improvements to drinking water systems, expanded access to broadband and upgrades to roads, bridges, railroads and public transit agencies.

The plan designated $329 billion for modernizing highways and improving road safety, including fixing 47,000 “structurally deficient” bridges and reducing carbon pollution. It also aimed to set aside $105 billion for transit agencies, $55 billion for rail investments such as Amtrak, $30 billion for airport improvements and $86 billion for expanding broadband access.

“I could provide the legislative language in very, very short order for this package. It’s the funding that’s been holding us up, and if the president insists on funding, then I believe that Senator McConnell and Leader McCarthy will move on this issue,” said Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

During an appearance on CNBC yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is talking with Congress about a potential infrastructure bill.

“As you know, the president has been very interested in infrastructure. This goes back to the campaign: The president very much wants to rebuild the country. And with interest rates low, that’s something that’s very important to him.”

He added “We’ve been discussing this for the last year with the Democrats and the Republicans. And we’ll continue to have those conversations.”

Earlier this week President Donald Trump said he wants to spend $2 trillion on a massive infrastructure package.

He tweeted that “With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO,this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4.”

“The president very much wants to rebuild the country, and with interest rates low, that’s something that’s very important to him,” Treasury Secretary Mnuchin added.

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Economy

Stocks Will Head Lower, Warns Billionaire Bond Investor

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Stocks Will Head Lower, Warns Billionaire Bond Investor

Billionaire bond investor and DoubleLine Capital founder Jeffrey Gundlach is the latest Wall Street veteran to warn that the worst is yet to come for stock prices.

He joins famed investor Jim Rogers, who said on Tuesday that he expects the market to stay elevated for a while, but ultimately another stock market route is on the way.

“I expect in the next couple of years we’re going to have the worst bear market in my lifetime,” Rogers said in a phone interview.

Gundlach may not be as bearish as Rogers, but he did say earlier in March that there was a 90% chance the United States would enter a recession before the end of the year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the short-term Gundlach said during a webcast on Tuesday that he believes that the lows we saw in March will be eclipsed in April due to the uncertainty around the coronavirus outbreak and when we can expect the number of new cases to slow.

“I think we are going to get something that resembles that panicky feeling again during the month of April,” while adding “The low we hit in the middle of March, I would bet that low will get taken out.”

Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide agrees with Gundlach and warns that there is compelling evidence that nearly every bear market has a few rallies before plunging lower.

“Last week’s double-digit gain for markets was a welcome relief rally, though market bottoms are rarely as clean as this one has been. In 2000/01, there were four rallies of greater than 20% before ultimately reaching a bottom, and in the financial crisis, the S&P 500 had a false breakout of 27% before hitting a bottom.”

Gundlach also said that any projections that the US economy will quickly recover once the spread of the virus slows were too optimistic and that the hopes of a quick recovery were causing the markets to act “somewhat dysfunctionally.”

“We will get back to a better place, but it’s just not going to bounce back in a V-shape back to January of 2020,” he said.

Gabriela Santos, JPMorgan’s global market strategist agrees with Gundlach that we aren’t going to get the quick “V-shaped” recovery that most are predicting.

She believes that we’ll start a slower “U-shaped” recovery once coronavirus infection rates peak.

“A ‘V-shape’ I think we should unfortunately discount at this point, because even when infection rates peak for COVID-19 around the world, what the China experience is teaching us is even though the government begins to relax some social distancing guidelines, individuals themselves are still very careful about how exactly they go back to their day to day lives,” she said.

“So demand was quick to shut down, but it’s actually much slower to come back online,” she added. “The better analogy here is a U. There’s a very sharp drop in activity in the first half, there’s a bit of a stall in the second, and then in 2021 is when that strong rebound begins.”

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Finance

Brutal First Quarter For Stocks Comes to End, Here’s What’s Next

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Brutal First Quarter For Stocks Comes to End, Here’s What’s Next

All three major indexes ended Tuesday in negative territory, with the S&P 500 slipping 1.6%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 1.84% and the Nasdaq dropping 0.95%.

Mercifully, the first quarter has come to an end, so we can start to put the post-Feb 19th carnage into some context.

The Dow has plunged 23.2% since the start of the year, it’s worst first-quarter performance in history, and single worst overall quarter since the fourth-quarter of 1987 when it plunged 25.3% during the Black Monday crash.

The S&P 500 is down 20% so far this year, it’s largest quarterly decline since the 2008 financial crisis. It’s also the first time in more than a decade that the index started the year losing ground in each of the first three calendar months. The S&P was down 0.2% in January, 8.41% in February and 13.1% in March. That’s only happened seven other times in the indexes’ 63-year history.

The Nasdaq closed out the quarter down 14% since the start of the year.

Stock weren’t the only investments getting pummeled, oil turned in a particularly gruesome report card for the quarter as well.

Prices for West Texas intermediate crude (WTI) futures saw their largest single-quarter decline in history to start the year, with prices dropping more than 65%. In March alone the number of oil contracts fell 54%, also a record for a single-month.

While nearly all of this volatility in stocks is a result of the coronavirus outbreak (oil’s decline is also due to a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia), the fallout from the pandemic is expected to dramatically affect our country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the coming quarters.

Yesterday Goldman Sachs said that the second-quarter U.S. economic decline would be much greater than it had previously forecast. The bank says it expects higher than anticipated unemployment figures and “sky-high jobless claims numbers” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s also forecasting a real GDP sequential decline of 34% for the second quarter on an annualized basis, significantly higher than its earlier estimate of 24% drop. Also concerning is that the bank now sees the unemployment rate hitting 15% by mid-year compared to its earlier estimates of 9%.

Looking Ahead

When the market is volatile like it has been for the last month or so, it’s often hard to imagine brighter days ahead.

But when you look at the market’s historical performance immediately following a significant decline like we are seeing right now, there are reasons to be optimistic.

According to Dow Jones Market Data, after the Dow has turned in a quarter as brutal as the one we just went through, the index returns 11.88% and 8.49% in the following two quarters.

And over the course of the following year, the Dow returns 22.75% on average.

For the S&P 500, the two quarters following a massive decline return 12% and 15.8%, and a year later the index is up 27.79% on average.

And the Nasdaq returns 3.79% and 5.57% over the next two quarters and 9.54% over the following year.

So while nothing is guaranteed, it appears we can look forward to better returns ahead.

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