Meet Jordan Page, a tireless mom of eight — including newborn twins. In between keeping her house running and her kids productively occupied and out of trouble, Page has built up a strong community of online followers with two separate and equally popular personal finance sites. As these communities will attest, she’s all about keeping your finances real, easy and fun!
In BudgetBootcamp, readers are invited to join a financial improvement program for just $149. The program is customizable to all life stages and circumstances, and includes 27 how-to videos, 15 workouts for your wallet, loads of budgeting tips and financial advice from Page, along with the strong community support of hundreds of thousands of families who’ve already worked through the program.
Participants will learn how to stop fighting about money, create a custom financial fitness program that actually works, slash your grocery bill in half and so much more! Page promises full satisfaction or your money back, so there’s nothing to lose by trying out Budget Boot Camp — except debt and stress over money. You can also try out the program by signing up for a 90-day Budget for Beginners Boot Camp for free.
Page’s other site, FunCheapOrFree.com, contains loads of completely free financial advice and tips, all written in an engaging and easy-to-read style that makes saving money fun. Read up on painless ways to trim your spending, budget-friendly recipe ideas, how you can save more by choosing to DIY on everything from washing your car to gift-giving, motivational messages to keep you inspired and so much more.
Page can be followed on Twitter at @budgetbootcamp and @funcheaporfree, and on Facebook.
Do you follow Jordan Page? Tell us what you love about her financial approach.
This book at a glance: Title: Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter Author: Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Harper Collins Publisher Publishing date: April 28, 2020 Average customer review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Who is this book for?
Anyone seeking change in their professional life, but afraid to make the leap
Readers who want an inside look at the music business and the cutthroat world of Hollywood.
Die-hard fans of 50 Cent, who find his life story interesting and inspiring
What’s inside this book?
Jackson’s personal account of how he pivoted from platinum-selling rap artist, to producer and star of the hit crime drama, “Power”
Lessons Jackson learned about embracing change
Advice on how to successfully change career paths
5 lessons you’ll learn from this book:
How to build on the lesson of “Fear nothing and you shall succeed,” as Jackson shared in his bestselling book, The 50th Law
How to flow with changes that disrupt your life
How to endure personal loss without breaking
No one is locked inside his or her career.
Change is always possible.
4 questions this book will answer for you:
How can I leave an unfulfilling job without risking my financial stability?
What do I need to do before embarking on a career change?
How can I move on after personal challenges?
Is a lack of fulfillment a reasonable price to pay for financial health?
What people are saying about this book:
“He has shown he can survive in this ever-changing world.”
“This is a really quick and great read.”
“Perhaps the best thing was learning some of the very practical strategies Jackson employs to control situations and succeed. This book is also very entertaining as he spills some tea about people he has had issues with in the past.”
Your Turn: Have you read the most recent book by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson? Tell us what you loved about the book in the comments.
As the calendar turns from April to May, America is sailing into its third month of living with the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic. And part of that reality means empty store shelves.
Customers’ growing frustration has reached such extremes in some places that it has escalated into physical confrontations and actual larceny — over rolls of toilet paper. In mid-March, Florida sheriff’s deputies arrested a man for allegedly stealing 66 toilet paper rolls from a Marriott hotel. In early April, Beverly Hills cops found 192 rolls of toilet paper in a stolen SUV. Customers are clearly fed up with seeing empty store shelves.
What’s behind the ongoing shortage of basic commodities like toilet paper? Why are we still seeing a dearth in supply weeks after the initial onset of the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown? When will the shortage end?
Manufacturers explain that the bare shelves we saw when the pandemic first began dominating headlines were likely due to the panic that swept through the country. The hysteria was fanned by fear-mongering articles on some news sites that had very little basis in actual, proven facts.
This, in turn, led to frantic customers swarming stores and buying out paper towels, hand soap, disinfectant and toilet paper. Suppliers weren’t properly prepared to meet the overwhelming demand, and goods were understandably limited or unavailable until they could replenish their stock. In fact, according to IRI, a market research firm, demand for toilet paper swelled to such great heights in March, that sales peaked at $1.45 billion for the four-week period ending March 29. That’s a 112% increase from a year earlier.
“I can’t give you an exact number, but I will tell you we’re making more than ever,” says Arist Mastorides, president of family care for Kimberly-Clark North America, maker of Cottonelle toilet paper and other dry goods. “It’s a significant amount to cover what we think will be used with people traveling less and staying home more.”
But why haven’t they caught up with the demand by now, nearly two months later?
Eric Abercrombie, spokesman for Georgia-Pacific, the company that makes Quilted Northern toilet paper, explains that the shortage is due to a shift in the demand with the nationwide lockdown. It’s not that Americans are using more toilet paper at home than they do at work; it’s that they use a different kind. The bath tissue generally sold to the commercial market is made of one-ply recycled fiber, while the kind favored by consumers is a softer product made of two-ply virgin fiber. Suppliers need to adapt to this shift for meeting the changing demands.
Some other products, like paper towels and hand soap, are still in short supply as manufacturers struggle to restock the shelves emptied a few months ago. There have also been some interruptions in the supply chain as workers called in sick after contracting the virus or chose not to come into work to keep themselves safe from becoming infected.
But there is hope on the horizon for the frustrated consumer. Manufacturers assure the public that they are hard at work to meet the changing demands and to replenish depleted stock in stores around the country. Factories are running 24/7 and temporary workers are being called upon to cover for employees who stay home. In just a few weeks, the manufacturers say, customers should be seeing fully stocked shelves once again.
Our vibrant, animated country has been put on pause. Busy thoroughfares are now empty of pedestrians and previously crowded malls are eerily vacant, as millions of Americans shelter in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Forced leave of work has left many wondering if and when they’ll receive their next paycheck.
If you are one of the millions of Americans on furlough, you may be panicking about incoming bills and wondering where you’ll find the money to pay for them all. Let’s take a look at what financial experts are advising now so you can make a responsible, informed decision about your finances going forward.
Triage your bills
Financial expert Clark Howard urges cash-strapped Americans to look at their bills the way medical personnel view incoming patients during an emergency.
“In medicine it’s called triage,” Howard says. “It’s exactly what’s happening in the hospitals right now as they decide who to treat when or who not to treat. You have to look at your bills the same way. You’ve got to think about what you must have.”
Times of emergency call for unconventional prioritizing. Clark recommends putting your most basic needs, including food and shelter, before any other bills. It’s best to make sure you can feed your family before using your limited resources for loan payments or credit card bills. Similarly, your family needs a place to live; mortgage or rent payments should be next on your list.
It’s one thing to resolve to put your housing needs first and another to actually put that into practice when you’re working with a smaller or no paycheck this month. The good news is that some rules have changed in light of the financial fallout of the pandemic.
On March 18, President Donald Trump announced he’s instructing the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to immediately halt “all foreclosures and evictions” for 60 days. This means you’ll have a roof over your head for the next two months, no matter what.
Also, in early March, the Federal Housing Finance Agency offered payment forbearance to homeowners affected by COVID-19, allowing them to suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months. These loans, provided by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, account for approximately 66 percent of all home loans in America. The payments will eventually need to be covered. Some lenders allow delayed payments to be tacked onto the end of the home loan’s term, while others collect the sum total of the missed payments when the period of forbearance ends.
Speak to your lender about your options before making a decision. A free pass on your mortgage during the economic shutdown can be a lifesaver for your finances and help free up some of your money for essentials.
If you’re a renter, be open with your landlord.
“Consumers who are the most proactive and say, ‘Here’s where I stand,’ will get a lot better response than those who do nothing,” says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, CEO of AsktheMoneyCoach.com and author of “Zero Debt.”
Your landlord may be willing to work with you. That’s true whether it means paying partial rent this month and the remainder when you’re back at work, spreading this month’s payment throughout the year, or just paying April’s rent a few weeks late, after the relief funds and unemployment payments from the government begin.
Paying for transportation
When normal life resumes, many employees will need a way to get to work. Missing out on an auto loan payment can mean risking repossession of your vehicle. This should put car payments next on your list of financial priorities. If meeting that monthly payment is impossible right now, communicate with your lender and come up with a plan that is mutually agreeable to both parties.
Utility and service bills should be paid on time each month, but for workers on furlough due to the coronavirus pandemic, these expenses may not even make it to their list of priorities.
First, don’t worry about shutoffs. Most states have outlawed utility shutoffs for now.
Second, many providers are willing to work with their clients. Visit the websites of your providers and check to see what kind of relief and financial considerations they’re offering their consumers at this time.
It’s important to note that lots of households receive water service directly from their city or county, and not through a private provider. Many local governments have suspended shutoffs, but be sure to verify if yours has done so before assuming it to be true.
Finally, as with every other bill, it’s best to reach out to your provider and be honest about what you can and cannot pay for at this time.
Unsecured debt includes credit cards, personal loans and any other loan that is not tied to a large asset, like a house or vehicle. Howard urges financially struggling Americans to place these loans at the bottom of their list of financial priorities during the pandemic. At the same time, he reminds borrowers that missing out on a monthly loan payment can have a long-term negative impact on a credit score.
Here, too, consumers are advised to communicate with their lenders about their current financial realities. Credit card companies and lenders are often willing to extend payment deadlines, lower the APR on a line of credit or a loan, waive a late fee or occasionally allow consumers to skip a payment without penalty.
How are you prioritizing your bills during the pandemic? Share your tips with us in the comments.
Your credit score is made up of three numbers, serving as an indicator of your financial history, wellness and responsibility. These three little numbers can spell the difference between approval and rejection for a mortgage, a job, a rental unit and so much more.
We have outlined how your credit score is calculated, why it matters and steps you can take to improve your score.
How is my credit score calculated?
There are three major credit bureaus in the U.S.: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Each one collects and shares information about your credit usage with potential lenders and financial institutions. Most lenders use this information along with the FICO scoring model to calculate your credit worthiness. Some lenders use the VantageScore model instead of FICO.
While there are several slight differences between the FICO and the VantageScore formulas, both scoring models look at the following factors when calculating your score:
The age of your credit
How long have you had your oldest credit card? When was your first loan? An older credit history generally boosts your score.
The timeliness of your bill payments
Are you paying all of your monthly bills on time? Chronic late payments, particularly loan and credit card payments, can drastically reduce your score.
The ratio of your outstanding debt to available credit
The VantageScore formula views consumers with a lot of available credit as a liability, while the FICO formula considers this a point in your favor.
The diversity of your credit
Lenders want to see that you have and have had several kinds of open credit. For example, you may be paying down an auto loan, a student loan and using three credit cards.
The trajectory of your debt
Are you accumulating new debt each month, or slowly working toward paying down every dollar you owe?
Your credit card usage
Financial experts recommend having several open credit cards to help boost your credit score, but this only works if you actually use the cards and pay off your bills each month. It doesn’t help much to have the cards sitting in your wallet.
How does my credit score affect my life?
Your credit score serves as a gauge for your financial wellness to anybody who is looking to get a better idea of how responsible you are with your financial commitments.
Here are just some ways your credit score can affect your day-to-day life:
This is easily the most common use for your credit score. Lenders check your score to determine whether you will be eligible for a loan.
The larger the loan, the stricter the requirements
A poor credit score can hold you back from buying a house, a car, or getting a personal loan at Advantage One Credit Union.
Interest rates on loans
Here too, your credit score plays a large role in your financial reality. A higher score can get you a lower interest rate on your loan, and a poor score can mean paying thousands of extra dollars in interest over the life of the loan.
A study by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 47 percent of employers look at the credit scores of potential employees as part of the hiring process.
Many landlords run credit checks on new tenants before signing a lease agreement. A poor credit score can prevent you from landing that dream apartment or it can prompt your landlord to demand you make a higher deposit before moving in.
Most insurers will check your credit before agreeing to provide you with coverage. Consumer Reports writes that a lower score can mean paying hundreds of dollars more for auto coverage each year.
How to improve your credit score
If you’re planning on taking out a large loan in the near future, applying for a new job, renting a new unit or you just want to improve your score, follow these steps:
Pay your bills on time
If you have the income to cover it but find getting things paid on time to be a challenge, consider using automatic payments.
Pay more than the minimum payment on your credit cards
Your credit score takes the trajectory of your debt into account. By paying more than just the minimum payment on your credit cards, you can show you’re working on paying down your debt and help improve your score.
Pay your credit card bills before they’re due
If you can, it’s best to pay your credit card bills early. This way, more of your money will go toward paying down your outstanding balance instead of interest.
Find out if you have any outstanding medical bills
You may have an unpaid medical bill you’ve forgotten about. These can significantly drag down your credit score, so be sure to settle any outstanding medical bills as quickly as possible.
Consider debt consolidation
If you’re paying interest on multiple outstanding debts each month, you may benefit from paying off your debt through a new credit card that offers an introductory interest-free period, or from taking out a [personal/unsecured] loan at Advantage One Credit Union. This way, you’ll only have one low-interest or interest-free payment to make each month. (Note: If you’ll be applying for a large loan within the next few months, it’s better not to open any new cards.)
It’s crucial that you make the effort to improve and maintain your credit score. It’s more than just a number; it will impact your financial wellness for years to come.
How do you keep your credit score high? Share your best tips with us in the comments.
While businesses across the country are bleeding money and struggling to make payroll since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the cloud-based video conferencing platform has been enjoying an unparalleled explosion in downloads. In the third week of March, 2020, communication apps took the first spot as the most downloaded apps. Zoom was No. 1, with close to 20 million downloads in just one week according to data provided by analytics firm Sensor Tower. The app was installed about 3.7 times more than Skype and 8.6 times more than Google Hangouts since the pandemic hit.
The app is free for one-on-one users and pricing generally starts at $14.99 a month. With the pandemic forcing millions of people to work or learn from home, Zoom is now offering free downloads until normal life resumes.
Zoom’s exceptional popularity is likely thanks to its functionality. It is easy to set up and offers high-quality videos and calls. You can also choose to record a class, meeting or virtual party.
Zoom also has lots of nifty features, making it especially popular with millennials. The app’s beautification feature helps you look your best on screen, and virtual backgrounds allow you to swap out the messy room behind you for fun screens, like the Milky Way or the interview area from “The Office.”
Many users don’t like the almost omniscient power Zoom gives the host of the conference, which can include checking to see if you’ve been focusing on the meeting you were virtually attending, or maybe Facebooking in another window. Creepy, much? Some users think so.
The explosion of Zoom users during the pandemic has also led to the disturbing new trend of “Zoombombing.” In this 21st century equivalent of a prank call, online trolls disrupt public meetings and make a general nuisance of themselves.
Microsoft’s Skype introduced the concept of video calls to the world. While Microsoft has let its plans to discontinue the app and replace it with Microsoft Teams slip out, Skype is still wildly popular, especially with businesses, throughout the world. Skype to Skype calls are free, but calls to landlines and mobile devices without Skype start at $2.99 a month. Skype for Business starts at $2 per user per month.
Skype lets you hold HD video conferences with up to 250 people. You can also screen-share on the platform, record your conferences, blur your background and share all kinds of files of up to 300 MB through your call window. The app also features live subtitles and real-time translation, making it the perfect choice for conferences that include participants from around the world.
Skype is easy to use if you’re participating in a conference, but users complain that setting up a conference and inviting people to join can be complicated and full of glitches.
Google’s contribution to the videoconferencing market is always free, but requires a Google account. Hangouts Meet, the business version of Hangouts, can only be started by subscribers to G Suite, which starts at $6 a month. Google is now providing free access to Hangouts Meet through July 1, 2020.
Google Hangouts users claim the platform is easy to use and integrates quickly with the Google ecosystem. The app can also be used to make free international calls to many countries. Hangouts also beats its competitors in playfulness. For instance, the app lets you add fun emojis, stickers and GIFs to your chat.
Google Hangouts was designed with Chrome users in mind, so it doesn’t always work well on other browsers. Conferences are also limited to 25 participants and cannot be recorded. Some users have also complained about the quality and dependability of the videos on the app.
What’s your favorite video conferencing app? Tell us about it in the comments.
With social distancing mandates in order until at least the end of April, and three out of every four Americans under statewide lock-down, huge parts of normal life have now moved into the virtual world.
Social visits, executive meetings, classes and more happen over videoconferencing apps, with Zoom being the most popular. The app was downloaded 62 million times during the third week of March, and 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies are now using Zoom.
Zoom’s simplicity is likely the driving factor behind its popularity — and its vulnerability. The FBI is warning of a new kind of scam in which criminals join Zoom meetings with malicious intent.
As they explain it, without protective measures, like passwords and screen-share locks, anyone can join and disrupt a Zoom conference. “Zoom-bombing” is happening more and more often, with hackers hurling racial slurs or displaying graphic content in the middle of classrooms and business meetings.
Some criminals take it one step further by creating bogus domains that impersonate Zoom. When video conferences are set up on these domains, the hackers will use the opportunity to steal personal information from meeting participants, which they then go on to sell or use for criminal purposes.
The bureau recommends that Zoom users take the following precautions to protect their conferences from being Zoom-bombed:
Make meetings private by requiring a password or using the waiting room feature, which controls admittance of guests.
Share teleconference links directly with participants instead of posting them in a public forum, like a social media page.
Control screen-sharing by choosing “Host Only” in the screen-sharing options.
Make sure all participants are using updated software
Videoconferencing apps like Zoom are helping millions of Americans maintain a semblance of normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow the FBI’s guidelines for secure videoconferencing to avoid getting Zoom-bombed. Stay safe!
Title: Overcoming Deptostrofy: A Complete Guide to Debt and Loans Management for Free Life Forever and Ever Author: David Stokes Publisher: Self-published Date published: June 24, 2019 Paperback: 73 pages Average customer review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Who is this book for? Anyone carrying outstanding debt
Readers seeking to gain control of their debt
People looking for a way to honestly assess their financial situation
4 things you’ll learn from this book:
How people get stuck carrying debt
How to tell good debt from bad debts
The benefits of money management
How to recognize bad financial advice
5 questions this book will answer for you:
Is there really a way out of deep debt?
What are the different types of debt?
What’s the first step I need to take to pull myself out of debt?
What’s the best way to handle my outstanding loans?
How can I ensure that a financial emergency does not send me back into debt?
What people are saying about this book:
“(It’s) really a complete guide to getting out of debt.”
“This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to know about loans management.”
“This book is so informative, and (it) has strategies I can use right away.”
Do you believe it is always possible to pull yourself out of debt? Why, or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments
The coronavirus pandemic has been raging on American shores for several months, but scammers are still finding new ways to exploit the panic, fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus to con people out of their money. The latest in a string of coronavirus scams involves a simple text message with criminal intent.
Here’s all you need to know about the coronavirus text scam.
The scam starts out with the victim receiving an alarming text message informing them that someone they’ve recently been in contact with is infected with COVID-19. They are then told to self-quarantine and to get tested for the virus.
Here is the actual text from one of these scams:
“Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested.”
The text also includes a link for the recipient to click for more information. Many unsuspecting people who read these messages innocently click on the link and play right into the scammers’ hands. The link provides the scammer with access to the victim’s device. The scammer can then scrape the victim’s personal information off the phone and use it to empty the victim’s accounts, open lines of credit in their name or even steal their identity.
If you receive a text message like the one described above, do not respond or click on any embedded links. Report the text to local law enforcement agencies, place the number associated with the message on your phone’s “block number” list and delete the message. You can also warn your friends about the circulating scam to keep them from falling victim.
Stay vigilant and stay safe!
Have you been targeted by a coronavirus texting scam? Tell us about it in the comments.
Millions of Americans have received or are awaiting a gift from Uncle Sam to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed on March 27, the federal government is sending out $290 billion in stimulus checks over the next half a year.
The first round of checks made its way to millions of checking accounts across the country during the second week of April and the next round is expected to be sent within a few weeks. The remainder will be mailed out over the following 20 weeks.
Unfortunately, scammers are doing all they can to get their hands on these checks before they reach the rightful recipients. The best way to keep your money safe from scammers is to arm yourself with information about the checks and to learn how to spot the scams.
To help you keep every dollar that’s coming to you and avoid falling victim to these scams, Advantage One Credit Union has compiled this comprehensive guide on the stimulus check process and the connected scams.
Important information about the stimulus checks
Many Americans aren’t aware of this crucial fact: You do not need to take any action to receive your stimulus check. There is no form to fill out, no number to call, and no information to share. Every eligible citizen should receive the check without having to take any action.
The feds are using the most recent tax filing information they have from each eligible citizen to send out the checks. They will use information from 2019 tax returns to determine the check amount and get recipients their money. Those who haven’t yet filed taxes this year (the tax deadline has been extended to July 15), will have the information from their 2018 taxes used. Social Security recipients, and anyone else not required to file taxes, do not need to take action either; the government already has their information on file.
There is no need to share information, such as a Social Security number, checking account number or home address, with anyone. There is no need to “sign up” for your check either. All you need to do is wait for your check to land in your mailbox or in your account. Remember the simple rule: There is no need to take any action to receive your check.
When you may need to take action
The only exception to the above rule applies to those who have not yet filed taxes for 2018. These citizens may need to submit a simple tax return to receive their check.
Also, the government has shared that it can only deposit the money directly into checking accounts if it has this information on file for the recipient. This criterion includes nearly all citizens who’ve received a tax refund for the taxes they filed in 2018 or 2019. Individuals receiving their checks via direct deposit will likely have their money sooner. Consequently, many people want to share this information with the IRS before the checks are sent out. It can be done via this link, which can also be used to look up the status of your check. Unfortunately, though, many people have reported that the IRS site has not been working properly recently, which is likely due to heavy traffic.
How the scams play out
The scammers trying to nab stimulus checks count on victims thinking they need to take action to get their checks. They use a variety of means, including phone calls, emails, text messages and social media posts, to ask victims to share information that will allegedly enable them to receive their checks. They may ask for the victim’s Social Security number, date of birth, PayPal account information, checking account details, home address or other personal information, claiming it is a necessary “sign up” step in the stimulus check distribution.
Alternatively, they may claim they can help you receive your check earlier through their website if you share certain information with them. They’ll often use sophisticated spoofing methods to make it appear as if they are legitimate government representatives. Once they have this information, though, they will reach out to the IRS to change your information so your check goes directly into their own accounts. Or, they may hack your account to withdraw the stimulus money as soon as it arrives.
If you receive any phone calls or messages asking for your personal information so you can receive your check, you are looking at a scam. Do not respond. Report the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov. The federal government has made it clear it will not be reaching out to citizens and asking for information before sending out checks. It has also shared that there is no way for anyone to gain early access to the stimulus check money.
Have you been targeted by a stimulus check scam? Tell us about it in the comments.