It's Saturday: Obama Must Be Talking Up the Minimum Wage

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Obama Minimum Wage
Carolyn Kaster/APPresident Obama speaks about his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., earlier this month.
By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON -- For the fifth Saturday this year, the White House used the president's weekly address to exhort Republicans to support an increase in the minimum wage, a key part of President Barack Obama's voter-friendly economic agenda aimed at keeping Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate.

Obama has been pushing Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, up from the current level of $7.25, a move that would lift wages for almost 28 million people and is supported by more than 70 percent of Americans.

"While not all of us always see eye-to-eye politically, one thing we overwhelmingly agree on is that nobody who works full-time should ever have to live in poverty," Obama said in his address, which airs on radio stations and is posted online.

The measure is unlikely to pass Congress. Republicans argue it would kill jobs, pointing to a non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimate that it would cost about 500,000 people their jobs even as it lifted 900,000 people out of poverty.

Senate Democrats are expected to bring the measure up for a vote next week to try to rally support among voters and get them excited ahead of November midterm elections.

Republicans are expected to keep their majority in the House of Representatives after the election, and also could take control of the Senate if they pick up six seats.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%That would make it hard for Obama to achieve his goals in his final two years in office. So he has pushed Democrats to work hard to get out the vote, and has talked up populist economic measures.

Raising the minimum wage has been Obama's most frequent theme in the Saturday addresses this year. He spoke about it on Feb. 15 and 22, and on March 8. On March 29, Vice President Joe Biden stood in for Obama for the address, and also used the time to talk about raising the minimum wage.

Obama has also spoken about the issue around the country, buying sweaters at a Gap (GPS) store to draw attention to the company's plan to raise the minimum wage for its workers and praising governors in states such as Connecticut who have passed their own minimum wage raises.

In this week's address, Obama described a New York City restaurant owner who was inspired to raise wages for her employees by the end of the year to at least $10 an hour.

He also panned Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, for signing a law stopping cities in the state from setting their own minimum wages.

It's Saturday: Obama Must Be Talking Up the Minimum Wage
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of TheSimpleDollar.com. "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much? 
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.  
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back." 
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like Mint.com, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.    
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes Mint.com spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more. 
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt. 
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.
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