Alibaba says its Singles Day event has brought in a record $31 billion in sales. The online retail event, which is now bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, is seen by some analysts as a “bellwether of Chinese consumers’ willingness to spend” despite a slowdown in growth, according to CNN. The holiday celebrates people who aren’t in relationships, with other Chinese e-commerce platforms and even U.S. brands also taking part in the world’s busiest online shopping day.
So this now proves that being single is worth a lot of money! And If I can say so personally, being in a relationship and starting a family almost ruined my finances! What do I mean? Let Me Explain… First and foremost, starting a family is one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life, and anyone who has experienced being a parent will tell you how much joy parenting really is—up to a certain point.
The truth of the matter is that children are blessings and can change your life for the better, but unfortunately, they can also change your wallet in the opposite direction if you aren’t properly prepared.
Love Is in the Air
My wife and I met over 15 years ago, and it was love at first sight. Well, maybe not exactly—I had to convince and woo her a little, but she eventually made the right choice and fell to my charm (or my unwavering persistence). We had a great time dating and rarely discussed starting a family because we were enjoying our lives, careers, and looked forward to more world travel. After five years of dating, we decided to get married and wasted no time starting a family after that. My daughter was born approximately 11 months after our nuptials, and this was one of the best days of our lives. We enjoyed our new family immensely, but soon after, we were hit with the reality of parenting and raising a young child.
Love Didn’t Pay the Bills
Bills started to pile up immediately, and we were left with many tough decisions to make as it related to our priorities. Were we going to pay our medical bills first or use our cash to buy clothing and diapers? Could we afford childcare, or should one of us stay home? Was it time to pick up a second job, or was there another way to bring in more income? The fact that it is expensive to start a family set in pretty quickly.
Love Lowered Our Credit Scores
After months of robbing Peter to pay Paul, we were almost maxed out on our credit cards in an attempt to make ends meet. We watched our credit scores closely and noticed that these high credit card balances had taken a toll on our score, dropping it almost 30 points in a short amount of time. We learned that overuse of our credit cards had taken us way over the recommended maximum utilization ratio of 30 percent.
Love (and a Little Discipline) Fixed It All
Immediately, we started to budget our expenses and focus on our needs rather than our wants. We tightened our belts a little and by doing so we were able to pay down our debt and get our score back on track. We also started to pay ourselves first and created an emergency fund with a high-yield savings account in order to prevent ourselves from being dependent on credit. We focused on our needs and budgeted for the wants, and before we knew it, our ruined finances became a walk in the park of family finances.
The Lovely Conclusion
Starting a family is still our most significant accomplishment, but turning our family finances around is a close second. Never underestimate the power of planning, but also don’t beat yourself up if life throws you lemons—or babies for that matter. Now at child number two, my family finances are growing, and what seemed like an out of control situation was put back in order with a little planning and discipline.
Do you have any financial comeback stories? I would love to hear them below.
Walmart’s Creates Weapon Against Amazon + How You Can Use the Same Weapon to Automate Your Finances
Walmart unleashed its latest weapon in the fight against Amazon: the Alphabot. It’s an automated warehouse to help speed up its grocery pickup service. Analysts are calling it “the most promising technology to hit food retail in years.” This Alphabot will revolutionalize Walmart’s business, but how can we use bots for personal finance? Enter in Artificial Intelligence, aka AI!
In finance, AI has already been transforming the industry. Banks are already using AI in FinTech to automate many processes, help with fraud prevention, as well as thwarting potential hackers from stealing sensitive information. When it comes to you and me, AI can really help us manage our money better. The sad truth is that many of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck, so a new way to stop the cycle is dire to our financial health and well being.
AI is so advanced that it can use predictive technology to analyze how we spend money and give us advice based on our habits in order for us to live more fruitful. AI can also identify potential savings opportunities if used right. I know many of us get spooked every time our favorite shopping place follows us around the internet serving us ads, but this, in a way, is a form of AI. Based on your shopping data, advertisers and retailers know what you are looking for and how to get it to you. With the right app or program, there may be a way to serve you up only the items you need and at the best price. AI can also stop you from impulse shopping by advising you on your purchases based on the goals that you put in. The options are limitless.
While the thought of computers telling us what to do can be scary; understanding how AI can make our lives easier is important. I’m not ready to give up everything over to the bots, but some things I can wait to hand over. Only time will tell how this plays out, but just know that your financial struggles may be over soon thanks to AI.
Ditching the Commute: 7 Fast-Growing Career Categories for Remote Jobs
Going into work is not a popular thing to do anymore. Across the total U.S. workforce, remote work has grown 91% in the last 10 years, according to an analysis by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics (GWA). While remote work exists across most career fields, it is growing more quickly in some fields than in others. With that in mind, FlexJobs analyzed over 50 career categories in its database, comparing the number of remote jobs posted on January 1, 2019, to the number of remote jobs posted on December 1, 2019, to determine which seven remote career categories have grown at a high rate during 2019, indicating they will be promising fields for remote job seekers in 2020.
“There is far more variety and depth in the types of career fields that allow people to work from home than most people realize, but this list represents the fields that have experienced particularly high growth during 2019,” said Sara Sutton, founder, and CEO of FlexJobs. “While a number of factors contribute to growth, all of these fields are highly compatible with remote work, so it may be that companies are using remote work as a strategy to attract candidates in a tight job market,” Sutton concluded.
The seven categories below have seen remote work job listings grow more than 40% when comparing the number of jobs posted on January 1, 2019, to December 1, 2019. A “remote job” is defined as a professional-level job that allows the worker to work from home either entirely or part of the time. Remote jobs are also known as telecommuting jobs, virtual jobs, and work-from-home jobs.
These are in order from highest to lowest growth, with each category having grown more than 40%.
1. Art & Creative: Creative careers often allow its professionals an exceptional amount of flexibility in their jobs. These jobs usually involve coming up with original and innovative ideas, both for aesthetic and practical value. Some artists work freelance while others work as part of a company’s or educational staff. Some of the common remote job titles within this career are Art Director, Illustrator, Commercial Artist, Website Designer, Conceptual Designer, Interior Decorator, Textile Designer, Painter, Photographer, and Musician.
2. Bookkeeping: Remote work opportunities for bookkeepers come from a variety of industries such as nonprofit, sales, small business, art and creative, client services, and of course, accounting and finance. An aptitude for organized and detailed work, and math and computer skills are essential for bookkeepers. Common job titles associated with this remote career category include Accounting Clerk, Sales Manager, Bookkeeper, Operations Manager, Office Assistant, and Accountant.
3. Internet & Ecommerce: The Internet and Ecommerce have made it possible for thousands of professionals to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home. There are many jobs relating to the Internet that involve working with information technology, web development, and design, and social networking tools. This category also encompasses SEO, SEM, and social media jobs. Common remote job titles include Operations Manager, Search Marketing Specialist, Paid Media Manager, SEO Consultant, and Social Media Specialist.
4. K-12: Teachers and educators most often manage live classrooms in elementary, middle or high schools but in this information age, many are providing their teaching services online. There are many accredited virtual learning platforms such as elementary, middle and high school programs that are fully online now so that has opened up the door for more remote jobs for qualified teachers. There are also many parents who choose to home-school their children and receive support from K-12 teachers. Common remote job titles include Virtual Teacher, Tutor, Online Instructor, Curriculum Developer, and Speech Language Pathologist.
5. Graphic Design: Graphic designers produce visual solutions to the communications needs of their clients through a variety of creative skills and commercial awareness. They are creative people who have a flair for what is appealing to consumers, are aware of upcoming trends and can convert their ideas into visually pleasing images. There are many avenues for graphic designers to work virtually in marketing, technology, and commercial industries. Related remote job titles include Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Conceptual Professional, Art Director, Layout Manager, and Creative Director.
6. Translation: Translation careers are an exciting option in remote work. As business is becoming more global, the demand for professionals who can work as translators to bridge the communication gap between cultures and businesses is immense. This is especially important for companies that operate internationally or have operations in other countries where associates must live and work. Some of the job titles available for remote work in this category include Website Tester, Training Specialist, Language Tutor, Business Translator, Document Proofreader, Meeting Facilitator, Advertising Quality Rater, and Bilingual Writer.
7. Math & Economics: Math & Economics jobs exist in a number of industries, including education, accounting and finance, nonprofit organizations, government, banking, information technology, and publishing. Common remote job titles in this career field include Financial Services Representative, Operations Specialist, Mathematics Translator, Instructional Designer, Economist, and Statistician.
Credit Union Loans Getting Riskier + How-To Not Get Risky with Your Student Loans
Credit unions have increasingly taken on high-risk loans, which could lead to borrowers or taxpayers getting burned in the event of another financial crisis, reports The Wall Street Journal. The member-owned alternatives to banks are designed to provide lower borrowing costs and higher deposit rates. Yet, credit unions’ assets have grown almost twice as fast as those of banks over the past ten years. High-risk loans from banks contributed significantly to the 2008 financial crisis. This is dangerous because unlike a traditional bank Credit Unions are owned by its members so it is the members who stand to lose the most. But how can you make your Credit Union loans less risky? This is the same question we ask when it’s time to pay off our student loans. Who will be the first? Or How can you pay off your loans faster? Here are six ways:
1. Develop a plan
Develop a plan to pay off your student loan debt before you graduate.
2. Save your money
Each summer throughout your college education, get a job or internship. Save half the money in a high-interest savings account. After a few months, consult a financial advisor to earn the highest possible return on your money. After college, you can use the money saved during all four years to pay down your college debt.
3. Consolidate your loans (But use caution)
Consolidating student loans combines your loans into one payment but may or may not provide you with a lower interest rate. Do extensive research before consolidating your student loans. In addition, you may not be eligible for various student loan forgiveness programs if you consolidate your student loans.
4. Exchange work to reduce debt
Perform volunteer work or work for the following in exchange for reducing student loan debt: teaching in certain locations with low-income students or areas with a shortage of teachers, providing legal and medical services in low-income areas or working for Americorps or the Peace Corps.
5. Get a work-study job
To help pay for the costs of college get a work-study job on campus to help defray the cost of college. Go to your campus employee office to ask about their work-study program. Work-study jobs pay at least the minimum wage for that state.
6. Apply for grants + scholarships
Apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. Unlike loans, grants and scholarships never have to be paid back. Some grant websites are Zinch.com, Fastweb.com, ScholarshipPoints.com, Cappex.com, and Scholarships.com.