A Week's Worth: Quick takes on the world of work and money

Advice on student loan shopping, Uncle Sam's mounting tax bill, why now is a hot time for the job hunt.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average flirted with the 14000 threshold for much of the week, but fell back at Friday's close, losing 0.4 percent.

With the start of the academic year just around the corner, not all college students or parents of students have full financing in place yet. That, says Consumers Union (CU), is a problem because college loans can be far more confusing than borrowing to buy a house or car. Lenders aren't always up front about how high the payments on a variable-rate loan can balloon. CU recommends exhausting low-cost federal loans (for which nearly everyone qualifies) before turning to private lenders.

The date you finished paying your share of the taxes needed to run government this year was July 11, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) calculates. That was two days later than in 2006, and it was due to increased spending at all levels – local, state, and federal. Already, government eats up 52.6 percent of national income, ATR says, warning that in the future the date will fall even later without significant fiscal restraint.

Lazy summer days may be fine for relaxing, but if you're on a job search they're the ideal time to get a head start on the competition, the recruiting network ExecuNet advises. Employers don't stop hiring just because the weather is hot, vice president Lauryn Franzoni says. And if you're networking, your contacts may be able to give you more time now than they can once the pace picks up after Labor Day.

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