April Round Up

April Round UpHello, everyone. The last Friday of every month I do a round-up post. This post features five articles that I enjoyed during the previous month. I hope you enjoy these posts as well.

Michelle from The Shop My Closet Project tells us what you should do When Your Cash Flow Isn’t Sexy.

Crystal from Sophisticated Spender shares with us Five Facts About Prince.

Claudia from Two Cup House tells us about The Struggle of Having Lofty Goals.

Greg from Club Thrifty explains How a Balance Transfer Saved Him 80 Years of Payments.

Erin from Young Adult Money shows us 6 Spending Areas You Can Cut If You Really Need To.



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April 2016 Debt Update

April (1)Happy Friday everyone. For those who are new here, I’ve been actively paying on my debt since January 2015. Below is my March update:

My total debt decreased from $69,146.07 to $68,887.38. That was a decrease of $258.69. That number would have been higher, but I had to put some of the money back in my emergency account due to the tires that I had to get last month.  Let’s look at current numbers.

Loan 2 – Down from $5870 to $5860

Wells Fargo – Down for $653.30 to $519.11

Bank of America CC – Down from $932.32 to $920.78

Chase – Down from $1960 to $1935

Navient – Down from $24,852.34 to $24,777.24

Nelnet – Down from $34,878.11 to $34,875.25

I like the fact that all the numbers are getting smaller. The Wells Fargo loan should be even smaller in my next update. I won a contest sponsored by LendEDU. The prize was a $250 payment on your student loan. It should be applied to my Wells Fargo account by then.


Previous Debt Updates

January 2015 Debt Update ( The 1st One)

January 2016 Debt Update

February 2016 Debt Update

March 2016 Debt Update

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How I Started Accomplishing More

Accomplish moreFor years, I had attempted to do things such as start a blog or read more books. For some reason, it didn’t click for me until my late twenties that for me to accomplish new things I would have to change some of my bad habits. Today, I want to share with you some things that I did to start achieving more. I am still a work in progress, but I am doing much better than I was five years ago,

Watch Less TV

The 1st thing that I did was watch less TV. When I returned from my cross-country trip a few years ago, I had a lot of time on my hands since I wasn’t working full-time. The 1st couple of weeks I watched a lot of TV. I’d get up between 8-9 am and then watch TV until it was time to go to the PT job that started at 4 pm. Once the 4-hour shift was over it was back to watching TV until 1 AM (The time I went to bed).  I realized that wasn’t working because I wasn’t getting much done.  The Butler Journal was around, but I wasn’t as focused as I should have been. I decided to stop watching as much TV as I used to. I used those mornings to read, apply for jobs and write. Well, something good happened. My focus started getting better, and my site began to get an identity. Fast forward to 2016, I typically watch TV after 5 pm on weekdays and 2 pm on weekends if I’m home or if it’s not football season.

Weekends

I use my weekends to do the majority of my writing and thrifting. A few years ago, every Friday & Saturday would consist of drinking and partying. Sunday would be the recovery day. Those days are over. I stopped drinking and partying every weekend. Now, I usually write between 4-6 posts every weekend. I wake up fresh and ready to write. In the past, that wouldn’t have been possible due to the excessive partying.



Afterwork

I used to come home from work every day and be lazy. Now, I try to do something blog or freelance related at least three days a week for 2 hours. The older I get, the more that I realize that time is my biggest asset. I wasted enough of it bullsh*tting around in my twenties. I refuse to do the same in my thirties.

Use my lunch break

I rarely go out for lunch because I bring my own food. While in the office I use my lunch break to approve comments on my site, read other blogs, and ship off packages to my eBay customers.

Ignore the Phone

Ignoring my cell phone has also helped me focus a lot better. At one time I answered every call and text immediately, even if I was in the middle of working on something. I don’t do that anymore more. I usually reply once I’m finished. Phone calls and text messages can throw your focus off. As a blogger, you can’t afford to let that happen.

Limit your going out

I used to go out every weekend a few years ago. I enjoyed the nightlife. I always have and I’ll probably always will. ATL is a beautiful city at night. To get my finances and my mind right, I knew I had to cut back on going out. To be honest, it was one of the best things that I’ve ever done. I started to save more money and drink less because of it. My eating habits also got better because I stopped getting those late night greasy meals from Waffle House. I go out maybe once a month because I still have to live a little while I’m paying off this debt.

Some of those things were easier to do than the others. With discipline, anyone can do them.

Have you tried to accomplish more, but hit a wall? What aren’t you ready to give up?

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Things to do at the Walt Disney World Resort

Things to Do at the Walt Disney World ResortLooking back through three years of posts on this site I’m shocked that I’ve never done a post on things that you can do at the Walt Disney World Resort.  WDW is hands down my favorite theme park. It still has a special place in my heart even after more than ten years after my Disney Internship Program finished. I try to visit the park every few years. I realized that I haven’t been there since 2010, so I’m due for a visit.  Today, I will go over some things that you can do when you visit the Walt Disney World Resort.

I have to start this list of by discussing the theme parks. I don’t care what anyone says, Walt Disney World is truly that happiest place on earth. WDW has four theme parks and two water parks. Below is some brief info about each park.

Magic Kingdom

MagicKingdom

The Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world. The Magic Kingdom is divided into six themed areas. They are Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland & Tomorrowland. There are also multiple firework shows and parades that happen throughout the park.

Epcot

Epcot opened on October 1st, 1982. It is represented by Spaceship Earth which is a huge sphere. Epcot is my favorite theme park. It is split into two areas which are Future World and World Showcase. In Future World, the attractions are focused on space, science, and technology. The World Showcase has 11 pavilions representing different countries. Mexico, Morocco, and France are three of the countries that are represented. If you’re the adventurous type, there is something called “Drinking Around the World” that you can do at the World Showcase. It consists of you drinking an alcoholic beverage from every country. I tried to do this a few years ago, but I tapped out at four drinks. I’m not sure if I could even attempt the challenge now. My drinking habits are nowhere near what they used to be when I was in my early 20’s.

Disney Hollywood Studios

Sorcerer Hat

The Sorcerer’s Hat that used to grace Hollywood Studios

Formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios, Disney Hollywood Studios is the third theme park at WDW. I haven’t been to this park in years. It used to be represented by the huge Sorcerers Hat. Disney Hollywood Studios is divided into six themed areas. They are Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Muppets Courtyard, Pixar Place, Animation Courtyard and Sunset Boulevard. Just being honest, this is probably my least favorite theme park out the four.

Disney Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the fourth theme park. In my opinion, it is probably the most underrated Disney Park. If you are an animal lover, then this is the park for you. It is split up into six different areas which are Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Ranch, Asia and Dinoland USA.

Disney also has two water parks as well.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

The 1st one is Typhoon Lagoon. It was actually the 2nd water park to open at WDW. Disney’s River Country was the 1st one. It closed in 2001. Typhoon Lagoon is split into five areas. They are Mount Mayday, Hideaway Bay, Shark Reef, Typhoon Lagoon and Castaway Creek.

Disney’s Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach is the other water park at the WDW. This park is separated into four areas which are Green Slope, Purple Slope, Red Slope, and the Ground Level.

There are other attractions at Walt Disney World. Some of them are the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Boardwalk, and Disney Springs. The last attraction that I will be discussing in depth is Disney Springs.

BET Soundstage

One of the best clubs at Pleasure Island, BET Soundstage

I want to give you a brief history of how Disney Springs used to be. It was previously called Downtown Disney. There was an area called Pleasure Island. P.I. as it was called was the spot to go to. They had places to shop, restaurants and multiple clubs. Some of the clubs that were open were 8 Trax which was a 70’s & 80’s themed dance club, Motions which played Top 40 and BET Soundstage, which played hip hop and R&B music. As an intern with Disney, we were granted free entry to the clubs on Thursdays. I had some GREAT times there. Unfortunately, in 2008 Disney decided they wanted to change the dynamics of Downtown Disney and closed all of the clubs. Disney Springs is now broken into three areas which are the West Side, the Landing (Pleasure Island), and the Marketplace. There are now just shops and restaurants.

Have you ever been to Walt Disney World Resort? Do you have any favorite memories about it?

Things to do at theWalt Disney World Resort




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Why I’m Not Giving Up Cable…..Yet

CableIt seems like everyone is eliminating cable right now. Many people are saving more money by streaming or using programs like Hulu. I’ve flirted with that idea of cutting the cord, but ultimately I’ve decided against it. Instead of eliminating that expense I plan on continuing to grow my income. Making more money is something one of my favorite bloggers, David Carlson talks about in his new book Hustle Away Debt. A lot of the time cutting expenses isn’t always the answer. You will get to the point where there is nothing else that can be cut. There is always an opportunity for you to make more money, though. David shares with you some great ideas that should work for anyone if they apply themselves. When you get a chance, you should check it out. Besides the fact that I’m growing my income, there are other reasons why I’m not giving up cable yet.

One of the ways that I have been growing my income has been with this blog. If you’re interested in starting a blog check out my step by step guide called Creating a Website with Bluehost

Cost

I have satellite with a pretty good provider. My cost per month is $65. That’s VERY affordable. At least once or twice a year the company does try to raise my rate. I call them and let them know that while I love their service, the price hike may have me leave for a competitor. I then ask them what they can do for me since I’m a loyal customer. They always give me a discount once I do that.

No DVR

I’m not sure how much DVR’s cost and quite frankly I don’t care. I’ve never had one and never will. There is literally nothing that I want to record if I miss it. I mostly watch sports, Empire, Shark Tank, Martin, and The Travel Channel.  If I miss the games, I can see highlights on Sportscenter. For the other shows, I’m sure I can find a link for them online.



Sports Channels

I am a huge sports fan. NBA TV, The NFL Network, and The MLB Network are three channels that I enjoy watching. I’ve streamed games over my laptop before and I’m not the biggest fan of doing that. Sometimes the stream lags or freezes. The picture is not always the best quality. Hell, sometimes the broadcast isn’t even in English. Being able to watch sports live is one of the biggest reasons I haven’t cut the cord yet.

Laptop

As of right now I have an older model TV. If I got rid of my cable, I would have to stream everything to the laptop. I use my laptop to do a lot my blogging and side hustle work. It would be difficult to stream everything and get my work done. My focus would be shot. For right now I will keep my cable. If a cheaper option comes that has sports channels and The Travel Channel I will consider it. Then again, I only pay $65 which isn’t much.

Do you still have cable? Will you be cutting the cost anytime soon? For those of you who have cut the cord, how do you watch your sports?

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How Bad Credit Can Cast a Shadow Over Job Prospects





bad creditJob seekers who have lived through financial challenges may feel intimidated by the possibility that a potential employer might pull their credit report. Understand how and when a potential employer can check the credit reports of prospective employees, and how that information can be used to make hiring decisions.

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More than half of all Americans have a sub-prime credit score, and one in four have some sort of credit problem. If you’ve experienced job loss, foreclosures, missed or late payments on credit cards or loans, or liens you may be concerned that the contents of your credit report will negatively affect your chances of getting a new job.

Because a big component of a healthy credit picture is the age of the credit history, millennials have an extra set of challenges when it comes to building a healthy credit score. Nearly three-quarters of all college students don’t know their credit score, but most understand that it will have a huge impact on their ability to buy a car, get a mortgage and find employment.

Why companies conduct credit checks on prospective employees

A recent survey by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that 60% of employers conduct credit checks on applicants as part of the evaluation and hiring process. They are most often looking for specific warning signs that show financial instability or lack of responsibility.

For example, 100% credit utilization may show an inability to control spending and balance a budget. A bankruptcy could point to a lack of resourcefulness or an unwillingness to take personal responsibility for mistakes. A large number of late payments spread out over time may indicate the inability to budget, or a problem with impulse control.

Jobs in the accounting field and positions that require money handling may require a clean credit report. The company doesn’t want to hire someone to handle their money if that person can’t handle his own. Companies that are responsible to shareholders and donors for large amounts of money must take responsibility for their hiring decisions, so they avoid hiring people who have the kind of money problems that may lead to financial irresponsibility – or even fraud – at work.

Many times, checking references is an inefficient or ineffective way to gather or confirm information about prospective employees. A credit report completes the picture quickly and easily. Credit reports can help potential employers verify past salary information, social security number, address, and previous employers.

Companies may also want to get a more general feel for who they are hiring. Verifying that the potential employee is financially stable may support the decision to bring that person on board.

What the law says about using credit report information to evaluate prospective employees

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs when, how, and for what purposes a credit report can be used to evaluate a potential new hire. The FCRA requires employers to get written authorization from the applicant before checking his or her credit.

Even though employment-based credit checks are legal under federal law, state laws that deny employers the ability to use credit reports to evaluate the worthiness of prospective employees override more permissive federal rules. Washington, Delaware, Oregon, Vermont, Nevada, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, and Maryland restrict the use of credit reports by employers.

In New York City, using an individual’s credit history to deny employment is illegal, with a few exceptions related to “jobs of public trust,” high-level city workers, jobs that have fiduciary duties, and jobs that involve cyber-security risks. Citing the fact that most credit reports contain factual errors, and that pulling a credit report create a privacy issue, the city council is setting an example for other major cities with this law.

Last year, 19 states faced bills requesting similar restrictions on employer credit checks, so job seekers should expect the list of places where employer credit checks are banned or severely restricted to grow in the future.

Note that section 525(b) of the federal Bankruptcy Code prevents employers from denying a job to anyone on the grounds that they are bankrupt.

What job seekers with a messy credit report should do next

Everyone is entitled to a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies one time each year. Obtain them from AnnualCreditReport.com. Before launching a job search, take a close look at those reports and identify any errors. One in five Americans finds an error that negatively impacts their credit on at least one of those reports each year. You can also see a free credit report on Credit Sesame.

Clean up the reports as much as possible by requesting correction of errors via the reporting agency’s website (while you view your credit report). If you’re a Credit Sesame member, you’ll also see a letter grade for each credit score factor, along with suggestions for improving it. Those Credit Sesame benefits are free.

The entire cleanup process may take a few days or a few months, so be patient. Raising the FICO score isn’t important at this stage for job seekers because while potential employers do see your credit history, they don’t see your score.

If your spouse recently lost his or her job and that resulted in missed payments or even a foreclosure, or if you are the victim of identity theft, disclose those circumstances when the employer asks for written permission to pull your credit report. Problems with credit are common, and being up front about the situation prevents the negative effect of a surprisingly bad credit report.

Be proactive and in charge of your credit story. You’ll go a long way toward showing the hiring company a level of maturity and responsibility they may not often see.
After the initial conversation, move on. The company is interested in so much more than the contents of your credit report. Job seekers who are a good fit for the job may find that the credit report has much less of an impact on the hiring process than the many other qualification factors an applicant can show.

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5 Business Flops By Donald Trump

businessSurprisingly, Donald Trump is still the frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination. This post isn’t about my thoughts on his campaign (I believe he is trolling the hell out of America, and a lot of people are gullible.), it’s about some of his business failures. Trump’s estimated net worth is $4 billion. Even though he’s a billionaire, he’s had his share of business failures. In today’s post, I will go over five of those failures.

Trump Vodka

Trump Vodka debuted in 2006. The tagline of the vodka was “success distilled”. Trump had hoped to take over the Grey Goose market. By 2011, Grey Goose and Ciroc were running the vodka market. Trump Vodka had closed its doors by then. I had never even heard of it until earlier this year.

Trump Magazine

I’m not sure why, but Trump Magazine was launched in 2007. It was advertised to men who wanted to read about women and money. The magazine folded in 2009 due to a low subscription rate.

Trump Airlines

Trump airline 1In 1989, Donald Trump purchased Eastern Air Shuttle for $365 million. His purchase included a fleet of 17 Boeing 727s and landing facilities in Boston, New York City, and Washington DC. He tried to add some flare to the airline by adding maple wood veneer to the floors and chrome seat belt latches to the planes.  In three years the airlines never turned a profit. Because of the high debt, Trump defaulted on his loans and lost the company.

Trump Steaks

Trump Steaks were introduced in 2007. When they were released, Trump called them “the world’s greatest steaks.” Prices for the steaks varied from $199 to $999. The steaks were sold online through Sharper Image. They were pulled in two months due to weak sales.

Go Trump

Go Trump was a travel website powered by Travelocity. It featured private jets and tickets to VIP events for high rollers. The site died out in less than one year.

Bonus:

Trump University

Trump University was founded in 2004. The school offered online classes. The school was not accredited. Fees ranged from $1500 to $35,000.  Several lawsuits have been filed against the “university”. It ceased operations in 2011.

FAILDo you remember any of these failed businesses? Did you support any of them in the past?



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