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California’s Largest Utility Company Files for Bankruptcy + How to Prevent Bankruptcy in Your Personal Finances

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PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. California’s largest utility, which provides natural gas and electric service to 16 million people, faces billions of dollars in potential liabilities over its role in sparking California wildfires. The firm’s restructuring is set to be “protracted, involving state and federal regulators, with wide-ranging implications for utility customers, fire victims, shareholders and wholesale power providers,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

So how do we restructure our debt without having to file for bankruptcy? Getting into to debt is so much easier than getting out. You find yourself stepping on campus as a freshman and four years later, graduating with unpaid student loans and credit card balances. Before you know it, you’re an adult with a degree, no job, and wondering how you’re supposed to manage the money you don’t have. The great news is, there’s hope. Getting out of debt is very possible with eagerness and applying the following tips. I know this to be true because it was me. Listed below are personal tools I used to get out of 10,000 dollars in debt in less than a year.

Gather All Bills. Create a folder of all unpaid bills and current ones. Print e-statements pull together all collection notices, and notes from loans. Mark folder and each account, PAID IN FULL. Get a mental picture of being out of debt. You first have to see yourself debt free in order to get there. Be sure to pull your credit report using sites such as annualcreditreport.com and Credit Karma.

Schedule the Intervention. Set aside a day to make phone calls, send letters, and confront your finances. One of the major reasons people fall behind is due to fear. Avoiding financial woes don’t make them go away. In fact, denial creates an even greater problem. When you do finally face the music, you will find helpful resources like loan deferments, fee waivers, and even debt cancellation options.

Survey Your Income. How much do you have? Hopefully, you have some form of an income. If you don’t, get one! Provide your services as a consultant, obtain a part-time job, or land a 9-5. Start generating cash flow.

Review Your Paid In Full folder. What small bills can you pay off in full? If you have one bill for 1000 dollars and three bills that add up to 1000 dollars, pay off the three first. Tackle the larger bill over time.

Establish New Habits. Honestly getting out of state consists of replacing the bad habits that got you there. And ignorance can be one of those habits. Educating yourself on money management as well as discovering how you currently manage money are the founding keys to being freed from and staying out of debt.

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)

American Are Wasting Money + How to Become a Smart Saver

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New cars, spacious homes, and morning coffee are some of the top ways Americans waste money, according to financial experts. The criticism comes at a time when 29% of Americans say they have more credit card debt than emergency funds, up 8% from 2018. Young Americans aged 18-29 have a combined debt of $1 trillion, and demographics show steady increases before petering out, with 60-69 year-olds in debt totaling $2 trillion.

So how do you become a smart saver? The best way to do so is to cut your expenses in ways that will bring more money to your bottom line. The following are tips on how to save money:

1- Stop Shopping at Convenience Stores.

Convenience stores are notorious for marking up the price on items significantly compared to grocery stores. If it isn’t worth the hassle to go to a grocery store, you probably don’t need it anyway.

2- Avoid Late Fees When Paying Bills.

Pay your bills on time so that you aren’t charged that unnecessary extra amount. If the problem is a lack of organization and forgetting the dates, use a reminder service like Google’s calendar feature that can send you a text or email to let you know when due dates are approaching. If you are worried about not having enough funds, call ahead and see about changing the due date or getting an extension.

3- Save Your Change.

Make it a habit to keep all that pocket change in a jar. Use cash to pay for most things and instead of trying to give the right change, only use the bills. When you get home, drop that coinage in a jar and let it accumulate. You will be surprised at how quickly it adds up.

4- Carpool as Much as Possible.

You can be doing yourself and others a lot of good when you decide to travel together. It might not be as convenient, but it can help in the long run. Carpooling to work or taking the kids to school are obvious ones to do. You can also get to know your neighbor and coordinate shopping trips.

5- Buy Used or Discounted

You can find a decent collection of clothes and other needs if you will buy used or at discount stores. Shopping at consignment shops or Goodwill will provide you with some good options. Discount stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls are good places to find good designer clothes at a low price. Yard sales are good places to look for things that you need for the home. Discount food stores will give you the most value on food products. The names of the brands may not be familiar, but you won’t notice much of a difference in taste or quality.

You can find many more ways to save money, but the keys are to get organized, be disciplined, and learn to sacrifice. There won’t be many how to save money tips that will save you much money on their own, but using several together will net you the results that you want.


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Amazon Is Helping People Build Credit + Credit Knowledge to Keep You on the Right Track

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Amazon is opening up its rewards credit cards to people with no or bad credit. The tech giant and Synchrony Financial are launching “Amazon Credit Builder” for people who don’t qualify for the company’s other reward cards. The cards will offer Prime customers 5% cash back on Amazon purchases, with the person’s credit limit equal to the size of the deposit they make before receiving their card. Since 11% of the U.S. population have credit scores below 550, the move could increase Amazon’s customer base, says CNBC.

This seems like a good move for those who are unbanked or underbanked, but without being of how to manage or maintain good credit, this effort might exacerbate the problem. 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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Job Growth in the U.S. Slows down + How to Use Entrepreneurship as a Plan B

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Job growth across the U.S. took a big hit in May, with private payrolls growing by just 27,000, against the 173,000 estimated. The disappointing figures from ADP and Moody’s Analytics are the worst since March 2010, when the employment market posted a loss of 113,000 jobs. Small businesses with less than 50 employees were the worst hit in the most recent report, posting about 50,000 lost jobs. “Labor shortages are impeding job growth, particularly at small companies,” according to Moody’s Analytics.

With job uncertainty looming, it is time to sharpen up our skills, but it’s always a good idea to get your feet wet first before you fully jump in. As always, we are here to help. Here are some ways to get you started as an entrepreneur:

1. Sell your good-quality, unwanted items.

Since one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, consider selling unwanted items on eBay, Craigslist or other similar sites—it is a great way to begin learning about entrepreneurship. You simply have to take all the stuff that you have laying around the house that you don’t need, and sell it. You’ll learn how to price your items, ship them, and many times how to negotiate.

2. Sell freebies from Craigslist.

Continuing in that same vein…what if you want to keep everything you have? Or what if you just don’t have anything to sell? Well, selling freebies from Craigslist is a great alternative. Just look for free stuff on Craigslist. Some items are in great shape. But if they’re not, spruce them up and resell them either on Craigslist, at a flea market or a garage sale.

3. Sell yourself (not that way).

Fiverr, Elance, Craigslist gives you a platform to sell your skills. Have a beautiful voice? Create personalized phone greetings. Are you a wiz at editing videos? Do it for others. Are you knowledgeable about design? Create a logo for someone. The list is endless.

4. Teach classes online.

Teaching classes online is actually a very lucrative business if you can find your voice and audience. How lucrative? It’s a 100 billion dollar industry! If you are particularly good at something, you can create online courses on Udemy or start your own online school using teachable.com or thinkific.com. Though top experts use this as a worthwhile way to earn residual income, everyday Joes and Janes use this as a way to sell anything from how to knit to their mobile app development expertise. Don’t know where to start? As you can see, there’s a class for that.

5. Offer to watch children.

Another way to start your journey as an entrepreneur is to hit up mom and dad. No, not your mom and dad. I mean parents who are busy professionals with small children. They may have to strain to remember the last time they were able to go to a restaurant or spend some quiet time with their significant other. Offering to watch their children can give you a head start on creating your own business as well as a valuable lesson in patience.

6. Become a brand ambassador.

Lastly, becoming a brand ambassador is a great way to not only get your feet wet in business but your knees and thighs too. Whether you have a small or large social media presence, you can use your influence to promote brands and get paid for it. (Make sure you’re only aligning yourself with brands you believe in). Doing this will give you an inside look into how established businesses (and even start-ups) want to portray themselves to the public.

While there are many other ways, those mentioned above are just some to get you started. What are some ideas that you may have? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know how you believe that you can start your journey as a business owner/side-hustler.

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