We hear about it everyday. The Dow is up, The Dow is down, but what does it really mean?

Charles Dow (Left) & Edward Jones (Right). Financial prowess aside, these guys had some impressive facial hair

In 1882 Charles Dow and Edwards Jones together with Charles Bergstresser founded what would become one of the largest and most prominent business and financial news firms on the planet - Dow Jones & Company. The name is taken after Charles and Edward's surnames respectively. They would also go on to form The Wall Street Journal in 1889 - which to this day is still one of the leading and most influential financial publications.


In 1884 Charles Dow - who also served as editor of The Wall Street Journal - began recording stock averages. The first which grouped together 9 railroads and two industrial companies was the precursor to the Dow Jones Transportation Average. Charles Dow was grouping together stocks from businesses of similar nature to create an overall average to gauge the performance of the market.

Charles' second index is also his most notable. Known by its many monikers - DJI, Industrial Average, Dow 30, or just The Dow - the Dow Jones Industrial Average, in its modern incarnation, serves as an index that indicates the performance of 30 large publicly owned companies based in the United States during a standard trading session in the stock market. The original Dow Jones Industrial was published on May 26 1896, and consisted of 12 industrials. General Electric is the only of the original 12 to remain on the index, but check out this list of the other 11.

In order to come up with the calculation, Charles Dow used a weighted average - stocks with higher values are given a higher weight in the index. The divisor for the Dow has been adjusted over time to keep the index from being affected by market events, political events, war, and natural disaster. The Dow has maintained its importance and influence over the years because it provides an overview of American economic performance. When you hear people say "the market is up" it is almost always a direct reference to the Dow.
In 1928, at the height of the roaring 20's the Dow increased it's index to 30 in accordance with the changing economic tides. Since then there have been several shifts as stocks have been moved in and out of the index. In 2015 Apple Inc. was added.
Check out a complete list of the current 30 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average - many which aren't even industrial, but they all serve to give a cross section of the American economy and its performance.
CompanyExchangeSymbolIndustryDate AddedNotes
3MNYSEMMMConglomerate1976-08-09as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing
American ExpressNYSEAXPConsumer finance1982-08-30
AppleNASDAQAAPLConsumer electronics2015-03-19
BoeingNYSEBAAerospace and defense1987-03-12
CaterpillarNYSECATConstruction and mining equipment1991-05-06
ChevronNYSECVXOil & gas2008-02-19also 1930-07-18 to 1999-11-01
Cisco SystemsNASDAQCSCOComputer networking2009-06-08
Coca-ColaNYSEKOBeverages1987-03-12also 1932-05-26 to 1935-11-20
DuPontNYSEDDChemical industry1935-11-20also 1924-01-22 to 1925-08-31
ExxonMobilNYSEXOMOil & gas1928-10-01as Standard Oil of New Jersey
General ElectricNYSEGEConglomerate1907-11-07also 1896-05-26 to 1898-10 and 1899-04-21 to 1901-04-01
Goldman SachsNYSEGSBanking, Financial services2013-09-20
The Home DepotNYSEHDHome improvement retailer1999-11-01
IBMNYSEIBMComputers and technology1979-06-29also 1932-05-26 to 1939-03-04
IntelNASDAQINTCSemiconductors1999-11-01
Johnson & JohnsonNYSEJNJPharmaceuticals1997-03-17
JPMorgan ChaseNYSEJPMBanking1991-05-06
McDonald'sNYSEMCDFast food1985-10-30
MerckNYSEMRKPharmaceuticals1979-06-29
MicrosoftNASDAQMSFTSoftware1999-11-01
NikeNYSENKEApparel2013-09-20
PfizerNYSEPFEPharmaceuticals2004-04-08
Procter & GambleNYSEPGConsumer goods1932-05-26
TravelersNYSETRVInsurance2009-06-08
UnitedHealth GroupNYSEUNHManaged health care2012-09-24
United TechnologiesNYSEUTXConglomerate1939-03-14as United Aircraft
VerizonNYSEVZTelecommunication2004-04-08
VisaNYSEVConsumer banking2013-09-20
Wal-MartNYSEWMTRetail1997-03-17
Walt DisneyNYSEDISBroadcasting and entertainment1991-05-06
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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.