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Americans are Not Feeling Hopeful About Their Financial Situations + How to Get Your Financial Life Together

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Most Americans don’t expect their financial situations to improve in 2019,according to a new Bankrate survey. Of those, 12% think their situations will worsen and 44% expect things to stay the same. About half of those who see their finances getting worse blame the government. Despite the overall pessimism, millennials were generally upbeat — with 59% saying they expect their finances will get somewhat or much better in 2019.

But what about you? Where do you stand? If you are unsure or want to get your financial life in order, follow these 5 tips:

1. Establish financial goals.

As the saying goes: “If you fail to plan then you are planning to fail.” As cliché as that may sound, it is important to realize that the first step of establishing your financial goals is the most important step to take—especially when attempting to get your financial life together after college.

Start by separating your goals into three buckets: short-term goals (between 0-3 years), mid-term goals (between 3-7 years) and long-term goals (7+ years). Once you have identified which goals fall under each category, map out a plan of action that will help you achieve each financial goal within the given timeframe. It is also a good idea to make each goal a S.M.A.R.T. goal—Not SMART as in intelligent but S.M.A.R.T. as in Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This will help you organize your financial goals into bite size chunks that are digestible and doable.

2. Build an emergency fund.

Building an emergency fund is one of those necessities you don’t realize you need until you need it. It’s sort of like car insurance; you drive your car every day with the hope that you never get into an accident, but if ever you do, you need a system in place that will help!

An emergency fund is just that—preparation for the unexpected that will make you whole again. Emergencies can be the loss of a job, significant medical expenses, home or auto repairs, or any other situations that disrupts the flow of your life. An emergency fund should be between three and six months worth of your monthly expenses. This figure gives you enough lead-time to get back on your feet if needed.

Start small by saving at least 10% of your income with a goal of saving one month of expenses. Once you you do, increase your goal to two months and so forth. But remember, you must pay yourself first! This means that before you pay your bills, buy groceries, or anything else vital before setting aside a portion of your income to save. In essence, the first bill you should be paying each month is to YOU!

3. Create a monthly spending plan.

Now that you know your financial goals are and have a process in place that will help you build your emergency fund, it is time to create a monthly spending plan. This will help dictate where your money should go.

To begin, separate your needs from wants. Your needs can be fixed expenses: rent, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, taxes, health care, childcare, and (possible) home repairs. Wants can include entertainment, cable, Internet service, magazine subscriptions, eating out, hobbies, and cell phone bills. Once you identify your expenses, start by paying yourself first (as discussed in step 2), then create a system where you are paying all of your needs/expenses in a timely manner. Make them automatic if you can. Your wants should be included in your budget, but make sure you are keeping track of everything you spend to assure you are not veering from your plan.

4. Stay on top of student loan obligations.

“I love student loans,” said no one ever! Regardless of how much you despise your student loans, it is imperative you stay on top of them to avoid getting into financial trouble. Student loans can really have a negative effect on your financial life if you don’t manage them properly—not only will they affect your credit by showing up as a derogatory account on your credit report, but in some cases your paycheck can be garnished and bank account levied.

Make sure you are, at least, paying the minimums. If your current financial situation doesn’t permit this, speak to your lender about a deferment or forbearance so your loans stay in good standing.

5. Use credit wisely.

Lastly, using credit wisely will only help your financial situation. Good credit can help you rent an apartment or buy a home. It can allow you to finance a car, save money on insurance, or even help get a job (in some states employers check credit before making job offers).

The first step in using credit wisely is to understand that credit is not free money and should not be used for everyday purchases. It should be use for emergencies. Also, it is important to check your credit report at least once a year to make sure what is on your credit report is accurate. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com for your free credit report from all three credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Exquifax).

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

Amazon has 30,000 Jobs they Need to Fill + How the Gig Economy is Making it Hard for Them to Fill

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Amazon has more open jobs than ever before. The company is attempting to hire 30,000 permanent employees in the U.S. alone. The jobs are spread out across departments and at locations throughout the country. Filling them is an especially tall order in such a tight labor market, with unemployment hovering near a 50-year low. To get started, the tech and retail giant will hold job fairs on Sept. 17 in six cities: Arlington, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville and Seattle.

Jobs may be so abundant because of the growth of the gig economy that allows people to work where they want doing what they want. Gig economy jobs continue to grow in popularity in the U.S., accounting for at least 5% of the workforce. So how do you fully take advantage? Moneyish.com recently wrote an article titled: The secret to making $115 an hour in the gig economy

In the article they give us 10 best fields for gig workers based on pay and job availability:

Artificial Intelligence – Deep Learning: $115 per hour
Blockchain Architecture: $87 per hour
Robotics: $77 per hour
Ethical Hacking: $66 per hour
Cryptocurrency: $65 per hour
Amazon Web Services Lamda Coding: $51 per
Virtual Reality: $50 per hour
React.JS Developers: $41 per hour
Final Cut Pro Editors: $37 per hour
Instagram Marketing: $31 per hour

The first trend you might notice is that this list is dominated by tech jobs. Gavin Graham, the special projects editor for FitSmallBusiness.com, says this is because these types of jobs lend themselves well to the gig economy and are growing fields that pay well.

So what exactly do people in the no. 1-rated artificial intelligence-deep learning field do? “They help develop “the technology that drives the ability of artificial intelligence to ‘learn’ and adapt,” says Graham. “Jobs in this field include developers who code the underlying algorithms using tools and programming languages, such as MATLAB, Python, Java, C++, Tensorflow, etc..,” he adds.

One possible surprise on the list: Instagram marketing. It lands on the list because job growth has been very rapid, he explains. While many companies have worked on Facebook and Twitter marketing, their Instagram platforms are less developed — and in need of help.

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Ariana Grande sues Forever 21 for $10 million + How to Protect Yourself From Those Trying to Steal Your Identity

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In a complaint filed on Monday, megastar Ariana Grande said Forever 21 and Riley Rose misappropriated her name, image, likeness, and music, including employing a “strikingly similar” looking model, in a website and social media campaign early this year.

She said this followed the breakdown of talks for a joint marketing campaign because Forever 21 would not pay enough for “a celebrity of Ms. Grande’s stature,” whose longer-term endorsements generate millions of dollars in fees.

This is a classic case of identity theft and while we can’t sue identity thieves for $10 million dollars, there are some practical ways that we could put ourselves less in risk. Here are four ways to protect yourself:

1. Change your password – I know it can be annoying to have to change your password or remember a new one, but it is important that you stop hackers dead in their tracks. Change your password regularly and make sure you include a variety of symbols, so hackers have a tough time guessing what it is.

2. Create a different username and password – Instead of using your Facebook login for all sites, create separate usernames and password per site. This way the breach doesn’t come from another third party, and you can better protect your account.

3. Set up two-factor authentication – Add another layer of protection to your account. Two-factor authentication It is a setting in Facebook where you can choose either text message codes or a third-party authentication as your primary security method. This way you know when someone is trying to do something fishy with your account.

4. Delete your personal info – The next time you log onto Facebook, take the time to delete some of the more personal information you have shared to reduce your risk of exposure in future attacks.

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SATs Keeps its Same Scoring Model + A Scoring Model You Better Undertand

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The SATs are changing course following backlash over a plan to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the exam. The original adversity score was made up of ratings for the student’s school and neighborhood environments and was intended to capture the obstacles a student might have overcome. Critics said over-eager parents could use the score to game college admissions. Instead, the College Board will use a different system in an attempt to capture a test taker’s social and economic background. For many SAT scores can make the difference in so many lives but what other score affects your well-being?

Many people are aware of the important role the credit rating plays in their lives. However, understanding what goes into a credit score (the credit score breakdown) might present some difficulty. There are several different methods of scoring, but most lenders and banks rely on the FICO method that has been in existence since the 1980s when it was developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. The three prominent credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) all worked with Fair Isaac to come up with the FICO algorithm.

Your credit score may be any number from 300 to 850. The average American falls at about 690, which is deemed relatively good credit. However, while this score should secure you a loan, it will not get you the very best interest rates on loan. In fact, 300-640 = Bad Credit, 641-680 = Fair Credit, 681-720 = Good Credit, and 721-850 = Excellent Credit. Excellent credit should be the aim.

Following is the credit score breakdown:

Payment History

The biggest chunk of your score (35%) is derived from your payment history. This score is influenced by how well (or not) you pay your bills on time, how many have been sent to collection agencies, bankruptcies, tax liens, etc. Keep in mind that missing a payment is worse than making a late payment and that being late or especially missing a mortgage payment is a bigger blow to your credit score than missing a credit card or utility payment.

Usage Ratio

The amount of debt you have (compared to the amount of credit you have not used) accounts for 30 percent of your score. Try not to max your credit cards out. In fact, it is recommended that you only use 25 to 50 of the credit that is available to you. A way to balance this out is to obtain more lines of credit and not use them. However, you do not want to apply for a bunch of credit cards all at once as this is marked against you. If your credit is in good standing, apply for a reputable card every six months or so and save it for a rainy day.

Length of Credit History

Fifteen percent of your credit score is based on how long you’ve established credit. This is common sense. The longer your credit history, the better your overall score will be. More data about your past leads to a more accurate prediction of your future credit worthiness.

Credit Mix

Having several types of credit will actually boost your score if they are managed well. This counts for 10 percent of the overall rating.

New Credit

As mentioned earlier, opening new credit accounts all at once will negatively affect your score in the short term. It’s also important that you are aware that your score can be lowered for too many “hard inquiries” about your status. A “hard inquiry” is one that you have authorized a lender to perform. If you are inquiring about your own score, this will not count against you.

Understanding what goes into the credit score breakdown is the first step in improving your score and what will allow you to design your score and begin you on the journey to financial freedom.

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