On This Day: The G.I. Bill Transformed America

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On June 22, 1944, President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the G.I. Bill. Providing several financial and educational benefits for World War II veterans, the G.I. Bill was a major political and economic success that contributed to America’s postwar economic stability and long-term growth. Veterans could receive low-interest loans to start a business, low-cost mortgages, one year of unemployment compensation, and, most importantly, tuition for college and a stipend for student living expenses.

On the surface, the G.I. Bill may seem like a simple philanthropic endeavor or perhaps an obligatory government service/benefit. After all, veterans make extreme sacrifices for the government and country, so why not compensate them with financial benefits here and there? While that may be sound reasoning, it’s important to remember that America’s investment in its veterans through the G.I. Bill was also a strategic political and economic plan to ensure America’s long-term economic stability and growth.

Tricks and Tips on How to Save Money on Attending Weddings

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Wedding season is upon us, and for many that means witnessing multiple nuptials in a short time frame. The cost of the wedding might be astronomical, but the cost to be a wedding guest can be just as staggering.

With three weddings down and at least four more to go before the end of summer, I’ve been in search of ways to save on everything from my outfit to accommodations, to the gift for the happy couple. It’s not always easy, but putting in a little extra effort can mean the difference between being able to witness the event and having to politely decline.

Here are a few ways you can save on the big day of those you love the most.

7 Money Myths That Are Holding You Back Financially

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It’s no surprise that all of us want to be financially successful. While success is a relative term, some things are universal, like avoiding debt and working towards having a sizable nest egg.

We’re only human though, and often times can be our own worst enemies. Some of those instances might be our own doing, but in some cases, it’s due to falling for money myths that are prevalent in our culture. Take a look at this list to see where you might be following a money myth.

That One Store Credit Card That Almost Messed Up My Credit

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I stood at the counter, already a bit anxious about dipping into the savings I had started to accumulate after taking on my first, post-high school part time job. Before handing over my debit card, the cashier offered something I just couldn’t refuse at the time: 20% off my purchase if I opened a store credit card.

I didn’t hear the last part, I only cared about the cost-saving potential of the transaction. So without batting an eye, I handed over my social security number, filled out an application and waited all of three minutes before finding out my application had been approved with flying colors.

I walked out of the store, purchases in hand, giddy over the fact that my bank account wouldn’t be feeling the hit of my shopping trip until I paid the bill some thirty days down the road.

9 Simple Ways to Get More Money to Pay Off Debt Today

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Debt is all around us. The average credit card debt, for those with debt, is just shy of $16,000, as of June 2015. The average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2013 was nearly $30,000. That doesn’t even begin to touch on other forms of consumer debt like car payments.

Regardless of the source of non-mortgage debt, it can take years to pay off. This not only increases the possibility of running into debt fatigue but also increases the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the debt. It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are many simple ways to cut costs that can free up more money for debt repayment. Making extra money is also an option, though in the beginning cutting costs will likely be simpler. Below are some of the first areas to look at for cuts.

Healthy Eating on a Budget, Just Follow These Simple Steps

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I survived graduate school on a solid diet of instant ramen noodles, Papa John’s pizzas, and frozen burritos, but I recently decided that it was time to change my ways. Maybe I’m just getting older and realizing that health matters, or maybe health food product marketing is working its magic.

Either way, I decided to make the switch to a cleaner diet with simple changes like including less processed meats/foods and more fresh produce in my daily diet. I slowly inched my way toward the dauntingly expensive territory of organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organism) foods, and quickly learned that with some simple research and smart shopping, organic isn’t just for the rich.

When we think of a healthy and clean diet, we often think of a debt-free yuppie or hipster lifestyle full of expensive juice cleanses, Whole Food shopping sprees, and brands that cost double the price. Sadly, my budget for food hasn’t increased that much since graduate school. I’ve had to work with a pretty limited budget, but have surprisingly found that with just a few changes in how I plan my meals and how and where I shop for groceries, I don’t have to spend any more money than usual for better and healthier food options. Here are my tips for making a smooth financial transition to healthier eating habits.

Here’s How You Can Motivate Yourself When Feeling Stuck

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There are three things in my life that help me feel powerful and in control: my exercise routine, eating habits, and financial plan. When these are maintained, I know I’m taking a holistic approach to my life.

But each of these things are not always incredibly easy to maintain because, let’s face it, life happens. And sometimes I’d rather sit on my couch eating potato chips and shopping online than going for a run around the park.

We all reach a point where motivation – whether it’s to jump on the treadmill or continue chipping away at a block of debt – wanes. And sometimes motivation wanes for all of these areas at the exact same time.

What I Learned about Money Management on a Commission Only Job

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There are currently over 15.3 million self-employed people in the United States. I know their trials and tribulations. Getting into real estate from a teaching background has taught me more about budgeting, saving, & being disciplined & resourceful than I could’ve ever imagined.

The idea of making your own hours, at first, seems like the ideal work situation for anyone. Who wants to be that corporate American robot working from 9-5 everyday? You think about the flexibility in scheduling, all the nice houses you’re going to sell, and all the commission you’re going to make. Then… you get a rude awakening.

On This Day: The $200K Octagon Coin

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On June 15, 1915, the U.S. minted the only octagon-shaped coin in U.S. history. The coin was one of two $50 coins (the other one was round) issued as part of a set of five commemorative gold coins designed for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco between February and December 1915.

The U.S. Mint struck 1,500 pieces of each of the $50 commemorative coins, but ended up having to melt 855 of the octagonal $50 coins and 1,017 of the round $50 coins. The two $50 coins have the lowest distribution number of any commemorative coins in U.S. history and are rare finds for any coin collector.

At recent auction, a pristine Panama-Pacific octagonal $50 coin sold for $258,500.In 1915, coin collectors would have paid $100 (or about $2,350 today adjusting for inflation) for a Panama-Pacific commemorative gold coin set that included one of the $50 coins and the three other coins minted for the set (a silver half dollar, a gold dollar, and a quarter eagle, or $2.50 coin). 100 years later, the commemorative coin set is worth over 100 times their original value depending on quality.

Maybe that state quarter collection will be worth it after all?

Founders Story with Kai from True Link Financial

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Kai is one of the founders of True Link Financial. True Link Financial protects seniors from becoming victims of fraud, identity theft, and scams by providing financial tools for olders adults and their families.
RFZ: Can you tell us a little background about how you decided to start True Link Financial??

Kai: I was a startup guy out here in California and meanwhile my mom was going through hell trying to take care of my grandma. As my grandma started to lose her memory it was impossible for my mom to maintain her quality of life and independence and still safeguard her finances. I was surprised banks didn’t routinely services for this population.

So we did the founder diligence – is it a solvable problem, and are there enough people like my mom and grandma that if we solve it we’ll be able to build a real business around it. We answered yes to both and decided to go for it.
RFZ: What was your very first start-up and how did becoming a first time entrepreneur affect your personal finances?

Kai: It was a nonprofit called the Roosevelt Institution which later (confusingly) merged with an organization called the Roosevelt Institute. At startup you endure some lean months with the hope of future wealth; at a startup nonprofit you hope to earn yourself a wealth of good feelings. I was fortunate that my parents were supportive of what I was doing and I knew I’d never be hungry, but living in Palo Alto on $1100 a month is tough for anyone even if they aren’t putting plane tickets on their personal credit card. I couldn’t afford an apartment and would cut corners on healthcare and food. Maybe someday I’ll be successful enough that I can write openly about how bad it was but honestly it got pretty bad.

RFZ:: Did you do any odd jobs to make extra cash on the side while starting True Link Financial?

Kai: Nope. Just kind of held my breath and hoped for the best.
RFZ: Identity theft has been a growing concern. What actions should you take if you’ve become a victim?

Kai: There are two types of fraud that are very different. In the first case one in which a person fraudulently persuades you to give them your money, and the other in which a person fraudulently persuades a financial institution to let them spend your money.

Both are bad, but from the perspective of the law, in the first case – e.g. you got conned into making an investment in a company that turns out not to exist – it’s your problem. In the second one – someone forging checks on your account, opening a credit card in your name, hacking into your bank account, using your credit card number without authorization – the financial institution is responsible. If you didn’t authorize it, the bank made an error in sending the money. (It might seem a little unfair that someone forges a check on your bank account and the bank is out ten thousand dollars… until you think about it and realize the bank’s one job is authorizing payments on your behalf.)

Banks will shirk on their responsibilities here. They will make it a huge pain in the neck to get your money back. But ultimately they’re on the hook for it. So: take a deep breath because it’s going to ruin your month, sign up for CreditKarma and BillGuard for free to keep an eye on things, submit a police report, and then call the financial institutions in question and tell them you didn’t authorize the charges.

In summary, the lesson we’ve learned is, identity theft is a pain in the neck, but authorizing the wrong transactions can ruin you. Make sure you understand what you’re investing in, what powers a power of attorney confers, who your investment advisor is, and don’t sign over the title of your house or other property unless you mean it.
RFZ: What are some things that many of us can do immediately to safeguard our finances?

Kai: The first piece of advice: have a second set of eyes on the road. In my case I have a cofounder and a board that makes sure the financial decisions I’m making are wise. The point is not that we vote about stuff – we’ve actually never had a decision that isn’t unanimous – but that I’ll think about things more carefully if I know I have to explain them to someone, and that in the process I might get a different perspective or someone might notice something I hadn’t.

So don’t be macho about it. Suppose you’re so badass you’re right 99.9% of the time. You probably make fifty financial decisions over the course of your life that could ruin you – considering a major investment, moving homes, powers of attorney, that kind of stuff. So you’re at 95% odds of avoiding financial ruin. More likely than dying of breast, cervical, prostate, testicular, or colorectal cancer put together and look what people will go through to avoid that! If you bring in a spouse or other family member on those fifty decisions who is independently right 99.9% of the time, your odds of financial ruin go down to 0.005%. And let me say this – nobody is right 99.9% of the time. In fact, studies show that people who think they are unlikely to be defrauded are actually more likely to be defrauded.

What you want is a system that fails safe – that when you make a mistake, the results are not disastrous because there is a second backup safety system in place. There is no better second system than the human intelligence of a second person.

Other piece of advice. National Consumer League operates a fraud hotline, and the guys that answer the phone tell me that basically their entire job is someone calls and says they’ve been defrauded. The answer is always yes. What can I do about it? Nothing, the money is gone. Basically, if you think you’re being defrauded, you’re definitely being defrauded. So second piece of advice: if you have any doubts, don’t do it. There are a lot more guys that lose their money making esoteric investments than ones that make a fortune on a stock tip they saw an ad for online.
RFZ: Lastly but not least, give us your two biggest money saving tips you’ve learned while becoming an entrepreneur.

One, always pay parking tickets on time, even if you have to borrow money from a friend. It’s easy to lose track of but they increase the charges really quickly if you’re slow to pay. Two, there are a lot of places you can add an all-you-can-eat salad bar to a meal for an extra couple bucks. Do it!