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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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Levi Strauss & Co Is Planning to Go Public + How to Keep Your Public Information Private

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Are those Levi Jeans you’re wearing? Or a better question is “Are those Levi stocks you’re trading! Levi Strauss & Co is planning an initial public offering valued upwards of $5 billion, reports CNBC. The 145-year old San Francisco-based clothing company has tapped Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan to manage the deal, planned for the first quarter of 2019. Levi’s entered the public market in 1971 and was taken private in 1984 by Strauss’s descendants, who currently control the company. The iconic brand has recently seen its revenue climb and has cut its debt load. While going public for Levi is a great thing and can potentially take the company to the next level, going public can be a detriment. Especially since we live on our mobile devices, so every and anything is on there.

While mobile devices are convenient, this convenience can cost you a pretty penny if you don’t play it safe. According to the White House, cybersecurity is one of the most important challenges we face as a Nation. With many unscrupulous people out there, some apps may pose a big threat to your personal information and well being. Although app makers promise to protect your privacy, many data breaches have occurred, and while the Federal Trade Commission is doing its best to enforce privacy promises, you must be diligent in protecting yourself. Being diligent will make you a savvy mobile app user.

The following are four security tips that all savvy mobile app users can use to protect themselves.

1. Protect your device.

In the wrong hands, sensitive information, including personal financial information and personal contacts, stored on your mobile device can cause a lot of damage. Keeping your phone or tablet in a safe and secure place will help to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. Lock your device with a password that is easy enough for you to remember, but complicated enough that it can’t be guessed easily. Try using a password that consists of a combination of numbers, and letters (both upper case and lower case), and special characters.

2. ONLY download apps from trusted sources.

The easiest way to compromise your personal information is to give it away. Download apps only from trusted sources to ensure that you are not aiding and abetting the theft of information. Read the app’s privacy policy to see what information the app will store and how it will be used.

3. Turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® when not in use.

While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® are convenient ways to connect your device, thieves can use your connection to access your files. Turning off your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth® connection when you are not using it, will help to keep your information safe from hackers. Avoid open or public Wi-Fi connections. When you connect to an unsecured network, you invite others to view your private information.

4. Do not store usernames and passwords.

Sometimes easy isn’t safe. While granting permission for a website that you frequently visit to remember your username and password allows for faster and easier access, it is also very dangerous to your personal information. This is especially true of financial apps or websites that contain your personal information. If you use your mobile device to bank or shop, completely log out when you are finished. Avoid banking or shopping on your mobile device while on public Wi-Fi.

Proactively protecting your personal information can help you prevent identity theft and officially makes you a savvy mobile app user. Mobile devices were created for convenience, but don’t let convenience put you at risk.

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GE to Sell off Shares to Raise Cash + How to Raise Cash Personally to Increase Your Bottom-Line

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General Electric plans to offload up to 20% of its majority share in oil-services company Baker Hughes as it seeks to raise cash. The move comes amid investor concern over the conglomerate’s “high debt load.” The sale will generate roughly $4 billion for GE, which must maintain a majority stake in the unit until July 2019 as part of the original deal to buy it. While General Electric can sell assets to raise a lot of cash, what would you do if you need extra money? You may not have a $4 billion asset lying around, but I’m sure there are ways to increase your cash flow. The following are ten ways you can make some extra cash:

1. Sell Free Stuff from Craigslist

Craigslist is a great place to exchange goods and services and, for the most part, it is usually done for money. However, a little-known fact is that craigslist is also a great place to get freebies. Whether someone is getting rid of something because they no longer have room for it or they have to abruptly leave their home, city, or state; there are some rare gems that you can resell for a decent return. The key is to look for free stuff on Craigslist that is currently selling on Craigslist or elsewhere. Some items will be in great shape but if not, spruce it up and resell either on Craigslist, a flea market, or a garage sale.

2. Rent out Your Room

If you have a spare room in your living space and want to generate some side income, consider renting it out. Use Airbnb to put your home to work for you, whether you wish to rent out your entire home or a single room. Think about this…If you are traveling a lot this year, rent out your home to make some money while you’re away that can help pay for all of those adventures. That sounds like a great way to make some extra cash and travel for nearly free if you ask me. And don’t worry, there are security protections in place that help make this option less terrifying than most would think.

3. Teach Classes Online

Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional, there is something that you are good at! I am stating this as fact because even if it’s something you have never gotten credit for, chances are you have a skill that others may find valuable. Using this skill to make some extra income is possible thanks to platforms like SkillShare, Udemy, and Teachable.com. Many top experts use this as a lucrative way to earn passive income, but you don’t have to be a top expert to take advantage of this option.

4. Sell Your Photos

Do you have a keen eye? Are your photos museum-worthy? Well, if you answered yes or no to any of those questions, then you can sell your photos to stock photo agencies like Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe, and other similar companies. It really doesn’t matter if you are a professional or novice; you still have the opportunity to make some money. Most work on a per download basis where you get paid a percentage every time someone downloads your picture.

5. Sell Your Skills

Do you have a voice that Simon Cowell would pay a compliment to? Are you a talented graphic designer that can take any concept and bring it to life? Are you an artist who can give Michelangelo a run for his money? If so, sites like Task Rabbit and Thumbtack are great platforms to sell your skills. These aren’t only limited to those with creative skills; you can sell editing services, research services, typesetting, and the list goes on.

6. Offer to Babysit for Busy Professionals

Babysitting may seem like an obvious place to start when wanting to make some extra money and you may be thinking that you are not cut out to babysit, but here’s the twist. Look for moms and dads who are busy professionals who have small children under five. They will most likely tell you that they don’t remember the last time they were able to enjoy a quiet night out. Offering your services to this niche population will not only be a lucrative undertaking, but an easy job to do as well because chances are you will be simply house-sitting as the children sleep. If you have extensive experience in child care, consider signing up for sites like Care.com where you can set your schedule of availability.

7. Give Your Opinion

When you were a child, you might remember your parents telling you to “mind your own business,” but as an adult taking heed to this advice can cost you. This is because you can get paid to mind other people’s business. There are companies that will pay you to participate in focus groups, phone surveys, online surveys, and even product trials.

8. Drive People Around

You can really make a decent living becoming a driver for either Lyft or Uber. If a living isn’t what you are after, driving people around can still give you that needed boost in your finances by only working part-time.

9. Deliver Meals

Join apps like Ubereats, GrubHub or Postmates and deliver to-go food on your free nights or weekends. You also have the opportunity to get tips and the freedom to make your own schedule.

10. Clean out Your Closet

We’ve all stepped up to the consignment store counter to find out that the sweater from J Crew we never had the chance to wear is only worth $3. Womp. By selling your excess or used clothing on apps like Poshmark, you have the freedom to set your price and wait. Poshmark even provides the shipping label for you. If it doesn’t work out, you can always head back to your local consignment store or put the items on Craigslist.

 

 

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California Still Battling the Most Destructive Fire in Its Modern History + How to Minimize Financial Losses Due to Natural Disasters

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Our prayers go out to those in California, family, and friends who are dealing with this natural disaster that is wreaking havoc on the state. The most destructive fire in California’s modern history is still raging in the northern part of the state. At least 29 people have died, and about 6,700 buildings have been destroyed north of Sacramento, where more than 2,000 firefighters are battling the 105,000-acre Camp Fire. A further two people have died in two other large, uncontrolled fires burning in the Malibu and Thousand Oaks communities of Southern California. Overall, 250,000 Californians have been forced from their homes. The reality is that a natural disaster can be a devastating blow to your finances. Thanks to SmartAboutMoney.org, you can use the following checklists to help minimize any additional financial losses:

Protect Your Property

If you are being asked to evacuate the area and authorities allow you to enter your home, be sure to:

Collect your important financial documents along with your valuables. You will need them to file insurance claims, pay bills and take care of family members. Important documents include:

  • Legal certificates
  • Wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Insurance policies
  • Social Security cards
  • Your checkbook
  • Bank account information

Get a visual. Take pictures and/or video of your damaged property.

Call your insurance agent as soon as possible to find out exactly what to do and what information is required to make a claim. Leave a contact phone number if your home is uninhabitable and you are staying elsewhere.

Separate damaged and undamaged items until a claims adjuster inspects them. Protect your property from further damage by making temporary repairs (such as putting a tarp over a damaged roof).

Save receipts for repairs and temporary lodging to submit to your insurance company. If you are not fully reimbursed for these expenses, they may be tax-deductible.

Keep copies of all correspondence with the insurance company and provide them with a detailed list of damaged property. The claims process will be much easier if you take the time before a natural disaster occurs, to photograph or videotape the contents of your home and list the brands and serial numbers of appliances and electronics equipment.

Look to relief organizations. Contact the American Red Cross. The Red Cross can provide emergency shelter, meals, clothing, medical assistance and referrals to government and nonprofit organizations for additional services.

Work With Your Employer

Disability benefits. If you or a family member is injured, you need to begin the process of applying for any available employee-sponsored disability benefits.

Family Medical Leave Act. You may be able to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act if you are unable to return to work in the near future because you are caring for an injured family member. This law applies to companies with more than 50 employees.

Contact Creditors

As always, paying your bills on time protects your credit rating. But, considering the circumstance, your creditors might be willing to work with you on a delayed payment schedule if necessary.

Prioritize your bills. Keep in mind that insurance policies and mortgage or rent payments are the top priority.

Consider stopping some bills immediately. For example, you can contact your utility, telephone and cable providers to halt services on the property you have vacated. Before cancelling the service though, make sure you ask about termination and reconnection charges.

Seek Available Tax Relief

For victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, there are federal income tax deductions that may be able to offset some of the financial loss.

Casualty losses are deducted on  Schedule A as an itemized deduction. After the first $100 of loss, which is nondeductible, the remainder of a loss that is not reimbursed by insurance is allowed to the extent that it exceeds 10 percent of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI).

If the president declares an area affected by a natural disaster a Federal Disaster Area, there are automatic extensions of the time for filing tax returns and paying taxes, waived penalties for late filing and payment of taxes, and special mailing addresses for faster processing of tax returns from disaster victims.

Under normal circumstances, a casualty loss is deducted on your tax return for the year in which the event occurred. However, in areas which the president has declared to be a Federal Disaster Area, victims have the option of taking their entire loss on their prior year’s tax return. If they have already filed a prior year return, they can file an amended tax return on Form 1040X to get a refund to help pay for disaster-related expenses. The IRS recommends writing “Disaster, (name of city or county and state)” in red ink at the top of the 1040X form. For additional information, consult IRS Publication 584.

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