Social change work is hard and frustrating and wonderful and terrible; it is also, at times, funny, quirky and just plain fascinating. With this blog we hope to capture all that goes into what we do at Capital Good Fund, and we invite you to join the conversation!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why Swiss Restaurants Don't Expect You To Tip

Image source: Dave Dugdale
Over the past few months I have lent my voice to a coalition of groups seeking to raise the Rhode Island minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.89 an hour to the minimum wage for all workers ($9 an hour as of January 1, 2015). Yes, you read that right: the minimum wage for a tipped worker in Rhode Island (think waiters and bartenders) is $2.89! The idea, of course, is that workers will make up the rest through tips, but imagine working in an environment where your income is almost entirely dependent on whether or not your clients choose to live you a tip. Even worse, on slow days with few customers--something over which you have no control--you might earn less than $10 for a day's work.

Now I should point out that, in theory, employers are supposed to make up the difference between the tipped minimum wage and the "regular" minimum wage if tips don't cover it. In practice, however, this rarely happens; among other issues, the difference is exceedingly difficult to calculate. Scores of interviews with waiters and other research have revealed that this law is almost always ignored.

Monday, June 15, 2015

An Easy Way to Save Money

Image credit: 401(k) 2012
Like many people, I use a variety of tools to manage my financial life: I have two checking accounts (one with Bank of America and another with Capital One 360); a savings account; two credit cards; and various municipal bonds, among other accounts. This arrangement makes sense to me for a number of reasons, but the complexity can also create challenges. For example, several months ago I decided to carefully read through my credit card statement, and noticed that for half a year the New York Times had been charging me for a subscription I'd canceled long ago.

After discovering that error—which had cost me nearly $100—I put a recurring event on my calendar to check all my bank, credit card, and other statements. Since then I have found numerous erroneous charges. What's interesting is that none of them were fraudulent; rather, they were simply cases of vendors making mistakes.

I imagine most of us know that we should read our statements every month, but given our busy lives in can be easy to forget to do so. Yet staying on top of our accounts can yield significant savings; in a sense, it's "free money."

So next time you get that credit card or bank statement, do a careful read-through. If anything looks off, call the vendor or your bank. More often that not, it's an honest mistake that can easily be fixed, but only if you notice it and do something about it! This is an important lesson for all of us, and we will certainly use it at Capital Good Fund to help our clients!

Andy is the Founder & CEO of Capital Good Fund, a social change organization dedicated to ending poverty in America. Capital Good Fund provides financial services— small personal loans as well as Financial & Health Coaching—to low-income families.