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Mega Millions Is Now Over 1 Billion + How to Avoid Losing It All If You Win!

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A billi, a billi, a billi, a billi, a billi! (Que in Lil Wayne) This will be the remix that some luck winner will be singing if luck is in their favor this week. The Mega Millions lottery jackpot has climbed to $1.6 billion, after no winner claimed Friday’s $1 billion bounty. The next draw is tomorrow night and folks are lined up to try their luck at the jackpot. Even though the odds of a person walking away with the monster-sized prize is vanishingly small — 1 in 302,575,350 there is still a lot of hope. Financial planners suggest some precautions for the winner, including to consider taking the annuity — not the lump sum — since it provides some protection against quickly spending the entire amount.You might think you’ll be fine with managing your money but that may not be the case. When winning a large sum of money you do not win the financial education that needs to go with it so many unintentionally squander the funds away. Check out the following 10 storys from PennyHoarders.com article of 21 Lottery Winners Who Lost Everything:

1. A Typical Story?

Lisa Arcand won $1 million in the Massachusetts lottery in 2004. She bought a house and went on vacations like many winners.

Of course, a million dollars isn’t much after taxes, so she also opened a restaurant to make some additional income. Sadly, within a few years she ran out of money and closed the failing restaurant. In 2007, she said of her lottery experience, “Actually, it’s been very depressing.”

2. From Millionaire to Factory Worker

Michael Carroll was a garbage man in England when, at age 19, he won £9.7 million (about $14.4 million at the time) in the lottery in 2002. A mansion, drugs and gold jewelry ate up the money quickly.

By 2012, Carroll was broke and living off unemployment checks. Now he works in a slaughterhouse, making £400 (about $511) per week.

3. Party Down… and Down, and Down

Gerald Muswagon, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, won $10 million in 1998. He bought cars for friends and family, and made his new house into a “party pad.”

Eventually, he’d spent all his money and he took a minimum-wage job to support his six children and his girlfriend. In 2005, just seven years after his big win, he took his own life.

4. Generous to a Fault

Janite Lee won $18 million in 1993. Although her gambling habit reportedly cost her more than $300,000 per year, she may have spent more on charitable and political donations. Her generosity included $1 million for Washington University to build a new library. In 2001, she filed for bankruptcy.

5. Millionaire or Murderer?

Willie Hurt won $3.1 million in the Michigan lottery in 1989. The money didn’t last long. Within two years Hurt wrecked his marriage, lost custody of his kids and was charged with attempted murder. He spent his winnings on his divorce and drugs, according to his attorney.

6. Big Winner Goes Deep in Debt

Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in 1993 in the Virginia lottery. She split the prize with her husband and was supposed to receive 20 annual after-tax payments of $47,778.

But when money got tight, she borrowed from a company that lends cash to lottery winners. In 2000, the lottery rules changed, allowing Mullins to collect the rest of her money all at once. She apparently spent the money rather than pay back what she owed to the lottery lender, and in 2004 a court ruled she still owed the company $154,147.

7. $31 Million Gone in Two Years

Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won $31 million in the Lotto Texas game in 1997, and he no longer had to stock shelves at Home Depot.

He bought a ranch and a few homes, gave money to his church and made loans to friends. Everyone wanted a piece of his money, and soon his marriage was in trouble as he lent and spent all of his winnings. In 1999, less than two years after his big win, Harrell took his own life.

8. Big Spending

Sharon Tirabassi, of Hamilton, Ontario, won $10.5 million in 2004. She treated friends to vacations in Cancun, Las Vegas, California, Florida and the Caribbean. She got married and bought a house for $515,000 — and got a $360,000 mortgage loan rather than paying all cash. She bought numerous cars, including one that cost more than $200,000, and gave millions of dollars to family and friends.

By 2007, half of her money was gone. By 2008, with her husband in jail for a DUI, Tiribassi lost their home. Now, to pay the rent and support her kids, she takes the bus to her part-time job.

9. Living for the Moment

Lou Eisenberg won $5 million in 1981, which at the time was the largest lottery win ever. After taxes, he received payments of $120,000 annually for 20 years. He bought a condo in Florida, took trips to Europe and Hawaii, and gambled. He also gave cash to whoever he figured needed it. Of his spending, he says, “I lived for the day.”

Shortly after cashing his last check in 2001, Eisenberg was broke. Now 81 years old, he lives in a mobile home on social security and pension income that amounts to about $1,000 a month.

10. Elderly Lottery Winner Looking for a Job

Vivian Nicholson, of Castleford, England, won £152,300 in 1961, the equivalent of about £3 million today ($3.5 million). She famously vowed to “spend, spend, spend!” She bought expensive designer dresses, vacations, and a new car every six months.

By the 1970s, Nicholson was broke. In 1998, she received money from “Spend, Spend, Spend,” a musical about her life, and spent it all quickly. By 2007, at age 71, she was living on a pension of £87 weekly ($102), and was looking for a job. After sending out 25 resumes, she still hadn’t found one. She died in 2015.

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.

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Federal Employees Still Working Without Pay + An Important Lesson on Emergency Funds

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You may have heard that you should save at least six months of your income saved in your savings account to cover any future financial setbacks. But it’s easy to wonder why you can’t just use credit or help from family when extra cash is needed for an emergency – especially when saving for an emergency fund seems overwhelming. But what does that really mean, and can’t you just use credit or family when you need the extra cash for an emergency?

Unfortunately, Federal employees working without pay during the partial U.S. government shutdown cannot collect unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said, while those who have been furloughed can. This means the 420,000 workers deemed “essential” have also been deemed “ineligible” for jobless compensation. The Trump administration says it will call back another 50,000 federal employees to work without pay. Some 380,000 are currently furloughed.

With this unprecedented government shutdown numbers of people are now trying to figure out how to make ends meet. With a reported 72% of Americans living paycheck, it is now time to stop making excuses and start an emergency fund. Just for kicks and giggles here are some common excuses that people tell themselves about why they don’t need to save an emergency fund:

  • I can barely pay my bills, how on earth could I save on top of that?
  • I can ask my family for money if I really need it.
  • There are options to help me in a bind, like a credit card or payday loan.
  • I’m too young to need to save that much money right now, and can do it when I’m older and making more money.

Let’s say you decide to go one of these three routes instead of saving your own money…

  • If you can barely pay bills now, you will have a hard time catching up with your debt after the emergency is over.
  • If you borrow money from your family or friends, you will put a strain on that relationship, and they may become resentful of you if you don’t pay them back quickly.
  • If you use credit or loans irresponsibly, you may ruin your credit or fall into a debt spiral.
  • If you don’t start saving when you’re young, you’ll miss out on the benefits of compounding your cash and won’t have the luxury of having planned ahead.

So what is an emergency fund anyways?

The Simple Dollar breaks down what an emergency fund should be with their definition:

“An emergency fund is cash that you’ve saved up for the sole purpose of helping you maintain your normal life through the emergencies that life hands you.”

What are some emergencies people prepare themselves for by making an emergency fund? Check all that could apply to you.

  • You get a new job and can now afford to pay your bills and debt while you await your new paycheck cycle to start by transferring some of your emergency savings into your checking account.
  • Your car dies and you must get a new one, but you have money to put down a large down payment, getting you a new car and keeping your monthly payment at an affordable rate.
  • Your new car’s check engine light goes on, and now needs extensive work. You need your car to get to work, and have saved enough to fix it quickly, while using your insurance to get a rental car during the downtime.
  • You twist your ankle from playing basketball and can afford to cover the bills while you’re out of work for weeks.
  • You buy your first home, and during the winter your furnace breaks, costing you over $6,000, which you’re able to afford to keep the heat on for you and your family.
  • You finally get a meeting with the board to pitch your big idea and can afford to go out and buy yourself a nice suit.

How many did you check? Can you see yourself in any of those situations in the future, or did you come up with your own? And I know your next question… Where do I put my money to receive the biggest bang for my buck?

Bankrate.com recently published a comprehensive comparison guide by surveying 4,800 banks and credit unions across the country to give you the ability to make the best decision on where to put your money. This comparison will help you maximize the yield from your deposits. Here’s a link to that guide: https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/rates/

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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).

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Selling iPhones Brings in Big Bucks for Tim Cook but Can You Make Money from Your Phone?

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Apple CEO Tim Cook earned $15.7 million in 2018, a 22% annual pay increase bolstered by a $12 million cash bonus. The news comes just a week after shareholders were told that a decline in iPhone sales in China meant Apple would miss quarterly revenue estimates for the first time in 15 years. This sales slump has also seen Apple introduce a program that allows U.S. customers to trade in their older iPhones for credit.

$15.7 million is good news for Tim Cook but what about the folks who are paying $1,000+ for their shiny new devices? Is there an opportunity for them to make some money? Thanks to Studentloanhero.com here are 25 Easy Ways to Make Money Using Your Smartphone:

1. Ibotta

Earn cash back on things you buy anyway. Here’s how Ibotta works:

  1. Before you head to the store, open the app and complete a few tasks to find offers for your favorite products and brands.
  2. Next, head to the store and purchase items you selected in the app.
  3. Once you’re done, take a picture of your receipt to redeem the offers you selected.

You’ll be credited with your cash back, based on the activities you completed ahead of time. Ibotta is compatible with PayPal and Venmo, and it also provides the option to claim gift cards.

Offers range from 25 cents to $1 or more. You have to prepare ahead of time, but depending on the items you purchase from your grocery list, it’s possible to get between $5 and $50 back at the store each month. Get your friends and family to sign up to earn referral bonuses.

2. Shopkick

Make money from your phone with Shopkick

Image credit: Shopkick

You won’t get direct cash back with Shopkick, but you can earn points to redeem for gift cards at your favorite retailers. Shopkick even offers Amazon gift cards. That’s a plus for me since I do a lot of shopping on the website.

You don’t even have to actually buy anything to benefit from Shopkick. Just walking into a partner store or scanning certain items can help you earn points. According to the company, Shopkick users have earned $68.5 million in gift cards since 2009, when it was founded. You can get your share of free money by signing up and using the mobile app.

3. Receipt Hog

Snap pictures of your receipts to earn “coins” on Receipt Hog. Then, turn your coins into gift cards or cash. You can earn more by taking online surveys and completing other tasks. In the end, though, you’re probably not going to make a ton of money with this app.

The coins you earn aren’t worth a whole lot in terms of cash. A receipt adds about ten coins to your account. You can get extra coins for using the app and “leveling up.” I only go shopping about once a week, though, and rarely go to more than two stores. So, I might get 20 coins per week from shopping.

You could use the app’s prize wheel and complete challenges for extra coins. In the end, though, it takes a lot of coins to get cash:

How many coins it takes to get cash with Receipt Hog

Image credit: Receipt Hog

With this app, I could probably get between $50 and $100 per year if I were diligent about uploading all my receipts and took advantage of Receipt Hog’s sweepstakes and other activities to earn bonus coins.

As a long-term smartphone hustle, you’d have to combine this with other efforts to make any decent money. But it might be worth it for a little extra cash now and then.

4. Jobs2Shop

Ages ago, I was a mystery shopper. It required me to fill out a paper survey and mail it in for a check. Today, mystery shopping is as easy as downloading an app, frequenting targeted stores or restaurants, and leaving feedback. There are other actions you can take in the Jobs2Shop app to boost your earnings before cashing out via PayPal.

How much money you make depends on the type of evaluation you do. The main downside is that you rely on there being a demand for mystery shopping in your area. My relatively small town doesn’t have a huge need for it, so I don’t often get these gigs.

If you live in a bigger city and are regularly sent out to evaluate businesses, you could make up to $100 a month or more.

5. EasyShift

EasyShift is another mystery shopping app that can help you earn money by following a checklist. In some cases, you only need to take pictures of products or check prices and share the information inside the app. You can also earn money for writing reviews of certain promotions.

How much you make depends on the demand in your area and the types of tasks you do. Just going in and taking a picture of product placement might make you $2. You might make $20 on an assignment if you’re required to make a purchase.

It’s a simple way to go about your business and earn a few bucks per month. However, you probably won’t get rich with this app, especially if you live in a sparsely populated area.

6. Paribus

Make money with your smartphone by saving on price protection

Image credit: Paribus

This app is all about making sure you didn’t overpay for something you bought. Connect the app to your email account, and Paribus will scan your recent purchases and receipts. If a retailer owes you a refund based on price protection policies, the app sends a letter to the seller and notifies you when the money is returned. For example, if the price drops on a qualifying purchase, you’ll get money back.

Paribus doesn’t monitor all stores, though. It can help to check to see if the stores you frequently visit are on the list. The app also only monitors retailers that have price-match policies.

Can you do this yourself without the app? Yes. Does it take extra time? Sure does. So you might as well have Paribus do the heavy lifting.

7. Swagbucks

One of my favorite ways to make money using my phone is Swagbucks. I earn points, or “SB,” for shopping as usual online and by using the mobile app. You don’t get direct cash back when converting SB, but there are plenty of gift cards to choose from.

I net about $100 a year in Amazon gift cards by following my regular shopping habits and doing small tasks, such as taking short surveys or answering the daily poll question in the mobile app. Not bad for doing what I already do, especially when combined with other loyalty and rewards programs.

Focus groups and opinion surveys

It’s not always exciting, but filling out online surveys can be a way to earn extra money. Not only that, but you could make even more money if you’re part of a focus group or engage in other activities that result in helping marketers better understand their audiences.

8. UserTesting

For every 20-minute session you spend testing out apps, you can receive $10. That’s right; you can make $30 an hour by trying new things on your phone with UserTesting.

You probably won’t be able to find enough projects to replace your full-time job, though. Chances are that you won’t be offered enough projects to be busy for five or six hours a day. Instead, you’re more likely to see between two and six projects a week.

It’s still a pretty good way to make a little extra money each week. I managed to earn about $30 a week when I was using the app. They pay you exactly one week after you complete a test.

9. uTest

The user testing platform uTest pays you based on offers. You can look for available projects, ranging from creating bug reports to creating usability testing reports. Each of these projects takes different amounts of time and payouts are based on the way the customer perceives the quality of work.

You might get paid anywhere from $3 to $50, and there are bonuses available as well. If you have a few hours to spend each week, you could make between $10 and $100 without too much trouble.

10. Nielsen Digital Voice

In the past, Nielsen ratings used to put small electronic monitors (they looked a lot like DVRs) on TVs to get an idea of what families were watching.

Now Nielsen is involved in all sorts of rating information. Join its platform, and Nielsen will track your smartphone use as part of its efforts to find out more information about how consumers use their phones to communicate with others, use apps, and even surf online.

The main downside is that the points you earn might not translate directly into cash. Instead, it translates into extra chances to win prizes. You have a chance to get cash in the monthly sweepstakes, where you’re entered to win your share of $10,000 (divided among 404 people).

It’s not a guaranteed way to make a ton of money, but it can be a way to get a little extra cash without any added effort.

Read ways 11-25 by clicking here

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