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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)

Supreme Court to Determine If LGBTQ Rights Are Being Violated at the Workplace + How to Make Protect Your Credit Card Rights

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The Supreme Court will hear LGBTQ workplace cases: SCOTUS said Monday that it would hear cases that could decide whether employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer can be fired based on their identities. Two of the cases involved people who claim they were fired over their sexual orientation, while another case involves gender identity. No national law explicitly bars employment discrimination against LGBTQ people, leaving many rules open for interpretation. About half of the U.S. LGBTQ population lives in states that allow employment discrimination, per CNBC.

As it relates to your rights with your credit card company, did you know that there are laws that protect you? Credit card laws are the laws that govern the way credit card companies must operate. You don’t usually hear much about these laws because most of them are just basic laws that keep anyone from doing illegal things.

The Credit Card Act of 2009 was created to protect us, credit card users, from some unfair practices that used to be common. For instance, issuers can now raise your interest rate only under specific conditions instead of before when they could’ve increased your rate at any time even if you were never late. Before this law, there were arbitrary increases without notice. That doesn’t mean your credit card’s APR can never go up just under these 5 circumstances: Your promotional rate is ending, You’re 60 days late on your payments, Your credit score has dropped substantially, You have a variable APR, and the prime rate is going up, You’ve had the card at least 12 months.

This is great news because imagine if you owe money to John and Jane, and you’ve always paid John on time, but you’re late with Jane’s payment this month, should John charge you more? Of course not. And if John and Jane were your friends, John raising your payment or your interest over a late payment to someone else would probably cause some problems.

So understanding this law can save you money and heartaches if you need access to your credit limit. It may seem like a while ago, but 2009 was just yesterday, and many credit card companies try to circumvent your rights. Understand them and stay sharp on your toes.

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Colleges Are Now Preparing Students to Major in Marijuana + Other Hot Jobs That Students Can Get After Graduation

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As the cannabis industry’s growth explodes, colleges are increasingly preparing students to work in a world where the green leaf is legal. The University of Denver offers a business course where students pitch ideas for marijuana startups, while at SUNY Morrisville, undergraduates will be able to enroll in a new cannabis industry minor this fall. Course offerings will likely only continue to expand, covering broader areas of the business as stigma around the substance fades, says The Chicago Tribune.

But if the natural green stuff doesn’t get you excited, you’ll be happy to know that the job market is heating up. A recent study by Michigan State University found that the job market is the hottest it’s been in a while, and projected a 16% increase for hiring 2015 college graduates. 74% of the employers surveyed rated the current job market as good to excellent, and 97% were ready to hire at least one new college graduate. In addition, The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that over 50% of employers are offering signing bonuses for new grad hires, the highest percentage it’s been in five years.

Hottest Career Area – Healthcare

So what’s the hottest career area? Healthcare! It makes sense because the Baby Boomers are in need of more healthcare as they age, and there’s been a boost in people who are newly insured as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act.The U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts that the healthcare field will add the newest jobs between 2012 and 2022, which is nearly 1/3 of the total projected increase in jobs. Here’s a snapshot of the hot jobs within the healthcare industry.

Hot Job #1: Physician’s Assistant

Glassdoor lists a physician’s assistant as the top job on its list of 25 Best Jobs in America for 2015. They are 45,484 job openings for physician’s assistants on their site, and they list this role as making an average base salary of $111,376.

Hot Job #2: Nurse Practitioner

The next hot job is a nurse practitioner, who is listed on Glassdoor as earning an average base salary of $95,171. On CareerBuilder, the median annual salary is listed at $67,620.

Hot Job #3: Physical Therapist

If you’re looking to become a physical therapist, you can expect to start at an average salary of $64,806 according to Glassdoor. CareerBuilder says that the median annual salary is $80,350.

Many of these fast-growing jobs in the healthcare field including physician’s assistants, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, occupational therapy assistants, diagnostic medical sonographers and speech-language pathologists all require an advanced degree, which will typically take an additional 2-3 years of school. You may not want to add more classes to your agenda after you’ve finally graduated, but if you look at the return on your investment, it may be worth your while. If getting a graduate degree isn’t in your plan, there are other options in the healthcare that don’t require a graduate degree which includes dental assistants, personal care aides, and home health care aids. Here’s what you can expect from those careers.

Hot Job #4: Dental Assistant

Payscale.com lists the average salary for dental assistants at about $15/hour. Like every job they list, they mention that how much you make hinges on where you live. You can expect to make anywhere from $22,000 – $44,000 per year when you include bonuses and profit sharing.

Hot Job #5 & #6: Personal/Home Care Aide

The average pay for a personal or home care aide is about $10/hour, with an annual income of anywhere from $16,000 – $33,000 according to Payscale. They report a high level of job satisfaction in this field.

Runner-Up for Hottest Industry – Technology

If you’re almost ready to graduate or are a recent grad, you’ll be happy to know that the job market is heating up.

Nine out of 13 jobs listed in the U.S. News & World Report of the 25 Best Jobs of 2015 are in the healthcare industry, and the remaining four careers come from a field near and dear to our hearts – technology. Here’s a snapshot of much you can expect to earn in some of the top careers in the tech field according to Payscale.com.

Hot Job #7: Computer Systems Analyst

To get a job in this field, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or engineering and will want to put an emphasis on programming and design. The range of pay for a computer systems analyst is from $39,672 to $92,992 per year.

Hot Job #8: Software Developer

Like to code? As a software developer, you can make anywhere from $44,396 – $104,599.

Hot Job #9: Information Security Analyst

Another hot job on the rise is an information security analyst, which has a pay range from $47,770 – $105,558 a year.

Hot Job #10: Web Developer

If you’re looking into becoming a web developer, expect to make between 33,332 – $84,720 per year. The average annual salary of a web developer is listed at $55,000.

Hot Job #11: Network and Computer System Administrator

As a computer/network system administrator you can make anywhere from $36,397 – $80,925 per year.

Hot Job #15: Mobile App Developer

As a mobile app developer, you can expect to earn about $44,129 – $115,224 per year.

When you’re a new college graduate, the world is your oyster. You can pick from a wide range of careers to pursue your passions in life. We all wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!

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Tiger Woods Wins Big for Him but Also for Nike + How to Win Big for Yourself

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Tiger Woods wasn’t the only one to win big this weekend: his first major victory in over a decade at the 2019 Masters was worth about $22,540,000 for his sponsor Nike, according to Apex Marketing. That estimate comes from the brand value of on-camera exposure to Woods’ Nike apparel during the Final Round — some of which was sold out online by Sunday afternoon. Less thrilled with the results: bookmakers, some of whom are now on the hook for potentially big payouts.

Nike and other companies pay big bucks for endorsements and for some companies, the short term sacrifice of putting out all of that cash up from is worth the long-term benefits that the company will reap now that millions have seen and will talk about their ads. What about in your personal finances? How do you win? The short-term sacrifice of becoming financially focused early on has long term benefits that are totally worth it also. Here are just a few:

Financial Freedom. The definition of financial freedom varies depending on the person, but it boils down to being able to cover life’s necessities including food, clothing, and housing expenses. Buckling down in your twenties and thirties to focus on laying a financial foundation leads to financial freedom. And the sooner you get there, the better off you’ll be.

Stress Free Living.Most stress is self-imposed and generally centered around money. Some relationships crumble due to tension perceived by finances. The highest liability we encounter is housing. The second and third largest consist of health care and food. While food and medicine are ongoing obligations, owning a home can eliminate a chunk of financial responsibility, freeing up more money to save and invest. Start early when it comes to homeownership. You may miss a few parties, but the peace that comes with owning the home you rest in will be made up for it.

Generational Wealth. Chances are you’re considering starting a family. What better way to honor those you love with an abundant financial future? Each generation should be able to start a notch above the last. Investing five years of your young adulthood can make a 10-year difference in the lives of your unborn children. This sacrifice isn’t only for you but for those to come after you.

More Time. We are not so much looking for more stuff but for more time to enjoy the stuff we already have and the people we can share that stuff with. The reason most look to retirement is to enjoy what they have worked so hard for. The moment you decide to be financially responsible is the moment you begin to enjoy the journey, both the highs and lows of creating wealth. By all means, don’t save the party until the end. Celebrate while you build but remember to never lose focus of the building. 

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