How Financially Literate Are You? 3 Things You Should Know About Your Money

Most of us received little guidance or instruction on how to handle money when we were growing up. That’s OK — we can learn now, a little bit at a time. Let’s start with the basics.

How do most of us learn how to use our money wisely and well? When we’re growing up, we’re given special instruction in important subjects — swimming, driving, sex — to arm us with info and keep us from harm.

Yet when it comes to managing our money — an activity that every one of us needs to do, every day — we receive surprisingly little preparation. We’re not taught much about it in school, because education systems leave it to us to learn from our families and friends. However, those people often don’t fill in the gaps because money can be such a loaded or taboo topic.

Natalie Torres-Haddad, who grew up in southern California, saw many people around her struggling with debt and financial instability. She was determined to be the exception, and she purchased her first rental property in her early 20s and earned an MPA in Finance & International Business. In the process, however, she became buried in debt. Only by teaching herself the basics of money — basics that she’d never learned — was she able to steady herself and her finances.

Today she leads workshops and sessions to prevent others from falling into the money pit. (She’s also the author of the self-published Financially Savvy in 20 Minutes ). She’s found that even among the college-educated people she meets, “the majority feel confused and overwhelmed about balancing their income and expenses,” she says. The stats show they’re not alone. A 2015 Ohio State University study reported nearly 70 percent of college graduates in the US say they don’t feel equipped to manage money and deal with their debt.

Not only must we get up to speed on the basics, we also need to start having honest conversations with each other about money, says Torres-Haddad. In the same way we’d tell family and friends that we’re cutting out refined sugar from our diets or practicing yoga to increase our flexibility, we should be open with them about the steps we’re taking to boost our financial health. That way, we can get advice and support. This transparency, she adds, can also make us less susceptible to peer pressure-related spending. How many of us have agreed to a pricey meal or weekend trip because we didn’t want to come clean about our money concerns?

Becoming financially literate does not require a huge time investment. Torres-Haddad believes we can start by dedicating 15 – 20 minutes a day to developing our skills and knowledge by learning new terms and resources. Just like attaining literacy in a foreign language, she says, “it’s an ongoing education.” Here are three things you need to know about your money.

1. Know How Much Money You’re Bringing in Every Month vs. How Much You’re Spending

Most of us can rattle off our salaries in our sleep, but could you do the same for your monthly after-tax income and where you’re spending your money every month? If you can’t, that’s normal. But now is the time to learn your actual take-home pay and your actual expenses (and not just ballpark figures or estimates).

For your income, look at your physical or online pay stubs, and start keeping a record of the after-tax amounts. If you’re a salaried employee, that number should be fairly steady; if you’re not, those numbers will vary.

For your monthly expenses, Torres-Haddad suggests writing down — whether it’s in a physical or online notebook — every single daily purchase (coffee, take-out, Uber, online shopping, etc) you make and every single ongoing payment you make through autopay or credit cards (Netflix, gym membership, car insurance, utilities, etc.).

If you’ve never done this before, you may find this uncomfortable — even painful — but it will force you to face up to your spending habits. It will also make these purchases visible. Often, our regular outlays (such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.) can go unnoticed or unquestioned, and our daily spends — especially if we pay by debit card so the funds are instantly drawn from our bank accounts — can go forgotten. Torres-Haddad calls the latter “runaway spending” — “when the little things that you thought cost only a few dollars actually cost much more” in the long run. Take a daily $5 green smoothie. By making them at home, you could save yourself a few hundred dollars in a month.

After you have a fundamental understanding of income and expenses, you can download an app to help you track these categories; see your bank account, credit-card and loan balances; and organize your purchases into buckets so you can identify areas where you might cut back. Two free apps to try are Mint or Charlie, says Torres-Haddad. But, she cautions, apps can be a little “out of sight, out of mind,” meaning if you need extra help to be aware of your spending, stick with the pen-and-pad (or fingers-and-keyboard) method a while longer.

2. Know Your FICO Score and Your Other Credit Scores

While you don’t need to have a good credit score to be financially literate, you must know what it is. ( Note: Most of the information in this section applies to people living in the US.) In the US, FICO was the first company to offer a three-digit credit-risk score for lenders to use when deciding whether or not to approve a loan or line of credit, a credit limit, and an interest rate. There are three other national credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax and Transunion — which also keep track of all your loans (student, auto, personal, etc.) and your balances and histories for all your credit cards (whether issued by banks, stores or businesses).

However, the FICO score is the one most frequently used when you apply for credit cards, mortgages and most types of loans; rent an apartment; or sign up for utilities. FICO scores range from 300 to 850; 670 and up is seen as a good score and 800 and up is excellent. While the FICO score is calculated with a proprietary algorithm, the primary factors that go into it are your repayment history (do you pay your credit-card bills on time? how late are you?), how much debt you’re carrying on cards and loans, how long you’ve successfully held a credit card or loan for; and whether you’ve managed to hold a mix of different kinds of credit.

Most banks and credit cards offer free access to your FICO score on their mobile apps and websites ( here’s a list of the ones that do). If you don’t use one of these companies, you can also find out how to access your score on FICO’s helpful FAQ, including a chart showing where your score falls between “Poor” and “Exceptional.”

Besides checking your FICO score every year, do an annual check of the reports issued by Experian, Equifax and Transunion. This is so you can verify that they’re correct, make sure no one has opened up a line of credit in your name, and see where you might improve. You are entitled to a free copy of a credit report from each bureau once a year. Beware: Many sites will charge you a fee, so use the federally approved and secure Annual Credit Report site.

If it’s your first time checking or you’re about to make a big purchase (such as a car or a home), Torres-Haddad suggests getting all three reports at once. After that, she recommends spacing them out throughout the year. That way, you can quickly catch any errors, fraud, identity theft or any other actions that could hurt your credit history. Mark your calendar so you know when you can request your next free credit report.

3. Know How Much Credit Card Debt You’re Carrying

Knowing how much credit-card debt you’re carrying — and how quickly it’s increasing due to interest — is critical to your financial literacy. Make a list (on paper or on a computer) of each of your credit cards, their current balances, and their current interest rate. Then, put them in order from highest interest rate to lowest.

In general, says Torres-Haddad, this should be how you should prioritize paying them off, paying as much as you can towards the card with the highest interest rate while paying the minimum on the other cards. Called the “ debt-snowball method,” this was popularized by money expert Dave Ramsey.

If you have any cards that offered a 0% APR as a promotion when you signed up, mark down the date on which the promotional rate expires because that’s when you can expect your debt to accumulate at a high interest rate (20% or more). Try to budget your monthly payments so that this card will have little to no balance when that expiration date arrives.

Believe it or not, having a credit card can be a great thing for a person’s FICO and credit scores — if you use it responsibly. Of course, carrying no debt on your cards is best. Otherwise, Torres-Haddad recommends using no more than 30 percent of your available credit limit. So if you have two credit cards with limits of $6K apiece, totalling $12K in available credit, make sure the total balances you’re carrying do not exceed $4K.

If you’ve managed to pay off a credit card, congratulations. But while you may be tempted to close it, Torres-Haddad advises against it. Why? Closing the account will shrink your total amount of available credit and cause your credit score to dip. Instead, delete the card number from any online shopping accounts, cancel any auto-pays billed to it, and freeze the card in ice. It may sound silly but it means that if you want to use it, you’ll be forced to wait for it to defrost — and forced to take a little time to think about your purchase.

When choosing a new credit card, look for ones that offer incentives — such as travel points or cash back — which could help you and your finances. Torres-Haddad recommends going to nerdwallet.com and bankrate.com to compare credit card offers.

Obviously, these three points represent just a small part of financial literacy. That’s why Torres-Haddad urges people to be patient and to learn gradually. Two books she recommends are Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich!  and Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. For those who like to get information through listening, she suggests the “Popcorn Finance” and “Her Dinero Matters” podcasts.

When you can, supplement your research with an in-person workshop, adds Torres-Haddad. “Even going to one financial literacy workshop can have a life-changing effect,” she says. A good time to find free workshops is April, which is Financial Literacy Month in the US. One of the best investments you can make in your life is to educate yourself about money, says Torres-Haddad. “It can really give you a lot of peace of mind.”

By: Erin McReynolds

Source: How Financially Literate Are You? 3 Things You Should Know About Your Money

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Cryptocurrencies Are Coming Back From the Brink. Here’s Why

After months languishing in the doldrums, cryptocurrencies are surging. On Monday, Bitcoin breached the $50,000 mark for the first time since May. Other coins — including Ethereum, Cardano’s ADA and Dogecoin — also edged higher.

And it was only a few weeks ago that some strategists were eyeing a possible drop to $20,000 for Bitcoin, months after it had hit an all-time high near $65,000 in April.

Instead, sentiment is rising across the board. Crypto’s latest swings are a sign that Bitcoin miners are back in business after a recent Chinese crackdown. At the same time, there is continued evidence of more mainstream acceptance. All of this is happening as the delta variant’s surge has muddied the timeline for a normalization of interest rate policy.

“There’s been an accelerating background of accumulation of crypto assets in the past couple months,” Jonathan Cheesman, head of over-the-counter and institutional sales at crypto derivatives exchange FTX, wrote in an email Monday. “Institutional flows in Bitcoin and Ether as well as a lot of retail activity in NFTs and gaming” are likely contributing, he added.

Here is a look at what is driving the increase — and what could come next:

A Shift in Sentiment

The cryptocurrency world is populated by a cast of characters whose voices can really influence prices. Lately, bullish noises have been boosting sentiment.

Take Elon Musk. Earlier this year, the billionaire caused heads to spin — and helped prices to boost and then plummet — when he said in March that Tesla Inc. would accept payment for its electric vehicles in Bitcoin but backtracked in May. He made his reversal on environmental grounds, expressing concern about the use of fossil fuels for cryptocurrency mining. Following those comments, Bitcoin lost about a quarter of its value in a week.

But here’s the latest twist: Over the past few weeks, Musk has been striking a more supportive tone. In late July he said he personally owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin and would like to see crypto succeed.

Superstar investment manager Cathie Wood is another influential voice in this space. A noted crypto bull, she told Bloomberg TV in May that she could see Bitcoin reaching a price of $500,000. More recently, she said she thinks corporations should consider adding Bitcoin to their balance sheets.

Hash Rate Signals

About a month ago, all the talk in the cryptocurrency world was of a Chinese crackdown. A ban on Bitcoin mining meant the abrupt shuttering of millions of computers that had been processing the transactions necessary to keep the crypto currency humming. Before the ban, around 65% of the world’s Bitcoin mining took place in China.

As computers went offline, the hash rate — a measure of the computing power used in mining and processing — halved in just two and half weeks.

As well as the practical implications, the aggressive moves by China laid bare the fact that the decentralized currency is still at the mercy of governments, which hit sentiment. Bobby Lee, one of the country’s first Bitcoin moguls, even said that China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies will probably intensify and may even lead to an outright ban on holding the tokens. And in the U.S., a recent congressional debate over crypto rules added to the uncertainty.

However, the hash rate has rebounded and is up from its July nadir, according to data from Blockchain.com.

That recovery has helped restore confidence in the market that cryptocurrencies can flourish even in the face of opposition from legislators around the world.

Keep Your Eye on Jackson Hole

Prices of cryptocurrencies, like gold, tend to suffer when there is the prospect of interest rate hikes. The emergence of Covid’s delta variant may scramble plans to remove crisis-level monetary policy.

If Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell were to strike a dovish note in his speech at the Jackson Hole conference this Friday, that could boost the currency, Oanda analyst Edward Moya said in a note.

The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual event, being held virtually again, is traditionally scrutinized for hints on upcoming changes in stance. Some Fed leaders have used it as a platform to explain new initiatives, as Powell did last year in unveiling a new monetary policy framework.

Even More Mainstream — and Main Street — Interest

Huge financial and consumer firms over the past year have increasingly been embracing crypto, giving the asset more legitimacy and driving up the price. Banks, brokerages and securities exchanges have been gearing up to meet demand. A watershed moment came in April with the U.S. stock market debut of Coinbase Global Inc., a crypto trading venue that’s shooting to establish a digital-money ecosystem.

This summer, there has been growing speculation that Amazon.com Inc. may become involved in the cryptocurrency sector. An Amazon job posting published online in July said the firm was seeking a “Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Lead.” After people found out about the post, Bitcoin surged to about $40,000. Amazon shares gained about 1% in New York. The company went on to say that the “speculation” about its “specific plan for cryptocurrencies is not true,” but the fact that the world’s largest retailer is exploring crypto has big implications for the shadowy and often hard-to-access market.

Walmart Inc. revealed it, too, was looking for some crypto help, with a job posting on Aug. 15 with responsibilities that would include “developing the digital currency strategy and product roadmap” and identifying “crypto-related investment and partnerships.” (As of Monday morning, visitors to the website were given a 404 error message.)

So… Where to From Here?

In these final days of summer, it’s now back in vogue to make $100,000 predictions.

As with any investment — or anything, really — it’s impossible to predict the future. But analysts do have a few estimations on how breaching $50,000 has changed Bitcoin’s prospects, at least in the short term.

Bitcoin is “getting nearer the higher end of what I expect as a new trading range in the low-$40,000s to low-$50,000s,” said Rick Bensignor, chief executive officer at Bensignor Investment Strategies.

Daniela Hathorn, an analyst at DailyFx.com, thinks that it may be a while before we see any further bullish momentum because $50,000 is a key psychological level for the currency.

“A pullback towards the $48,000 area would be the first sign of trouble,” she wrote in a note on Monday. “But the positive trend isn’t in any trouble as long as Bitcoin stays above its 200-day moving average at $45,750. Looking ahead, the key challenge for buyers will be to cement further gains towards $55,000 without losing momentum along the way.”

By: Emily Cadman / Charlie Wells / Joanna Ossinger

Source: https://www.bloombergquint.com/wealth/bitcoin-price-surge-reasons-why-ethereum-cryptocurrencies-are-rising
Copyright © BloombergQuint

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The U.S. Debt-Ceiling Farce Is a Headache Investors Could Do Without

The latest twists in the seemingly endless saga of the U.S. debt ceiling underscore once again how strange the whole thing is.

The very existence of the debt ceiling is utterly superfluous. Every couple of years members of Congress have to vote to allow borrowing to fund measures that they’ve already approved through individual spending bills. Its main function is political: Whichever party isn’t in power at the time uses it to try to either extract something from, or embarrass, the other side.

On top of that, the limit isn’t really the limit. By invoking the vague catchall of “extraordinary measures,” Uncle Sam can keep on borrowing even after it’s hit the cap—or when the limit has been reinstated following a suspension, as was the case at the end of last month. Given that the alternative is either what’s known as a technical default or a seizing up of everyday government spending, that’s a good thing, even if you’re a fiscal hawk, which is an endangered species these days.

Just because something is mainly theatrical, though, that doesn’t mean it can’t have an impact. This month marks the 10th anniversary of S&P’s decision to strip America of its AAA credit rating, a move that followed one of many bruising Congressional fights over the debt limit. The move by the ratings agency back then sent a shiver through markets and caused a lot of consternation from Wall Street to Washington. But the U.S. has continued to borrow cheaply—indeed, even more cheaply than before.

Right now, the ceiling is at about $28.4 trillion, and the U.S. Treasury’s fancy footwork on accounting should keep U.S. borrowing authority officially intact for a little while. That should allow lawmakers to stitch together enough votes for either an increase or another suspension in the coming months. But what if they don’t?

One subplot of the drama helps put some perspective on this question. With the overall cap for debt back in force as of the start of August, the Treasury has been forced to slash its cash pile—essentially the balance of the government’s main checking account—to around the same level it occupied before the last ceiling suspension. The legislation that governs the ceiling includes a measure to hold things in check; without it, there’d be little to restrain the government from simply issuing tons of debt, while the now-lapsed suspension was still in place, in order to be able to spend the money later.

For quite a long time, some market observers have acted on the assumption that this time around, the cash pile would end up somewhere in the vicinity of $130 billion. In May, though, the Treasury itself said its borrowing plans were premised on the pile amounting to around $450 billion.

Ultimately, the Treasury got down to within around $10 billion of that, which the market appears to accept as close enough. Would it have made much of a difference if they were off by $50 billion or $100 billion—or $500 billion? Would there be any real penalty beyond a bit of political scoring in the never-ending ceiling tussle?

This isn’t a moot point. In its quest to get the cash balance down, the Treasury has affected markets. It has been dialing back its borrowing in T-bills—its shortest-maturity securities—and that, in turn, has been distorting money markets and complicating the Federal Reserve’s management of interest rates.

The issue is that when there’s a shortage of T-bills, they become more expensive, and the yield they offer falls. And because the kinds of people who buy T-bills also invest in a range of other money market instruments, the rates on those come under pressure, too.

That’s not necessarily a concern until it starts pushing the rates on which the Federal Reserve focuses out of its target band. At that point, the Fed needs to pull some other levers. Such a response carries costs while continuing the cycle of distortion.

A further example: On occasion, the imminent approach of a so-called technical default by the world’s largest debtor nation has prompted odd moves in various T-bills as those securities that are most at risk of non-payment become market pariahs. While this is most acutely a problem for investors in those individual issues, it throws out of kilter a market that helps benchmark a huge swath of the world’s borrowing—both government and private.

Nobody can honestly pretend that the ceiling is a mechanism to rein in debt. It causes distortions, and it wastes a lot of time and energy that the denizens of Washington could devote to ensuring the money being borrowed is spent effectively and productively. That’s not to say that debt and deficits don’t matter. But the way the U.S. thinks and legislates on the topic needs to change. —With Alex Harris

By: Benjamin Purvis

Source: The U.S. Debt-Ceiling Farce Is a Headache Investors Could Do Without – Bloomberg

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Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t

My north star(s) for philosophy, management, and politics are Star Wars, The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones, respectively. The Iron Bank (GoT) is a metaphor for today’s financial institutions, if present-day banks didn’t need bailouts or to invent fake accounts to juice compensation. Regardless, it was well known throughout Braavos that The Iron Bank will have its due.

If you failed to repay, they’d fund your enemies. So today’s Iron Bankers are the venture capitalists funding (any) incumbents’ enemies. If this makes VCs sound interesting/cool, don’t trust your instincts.

Lately, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the phone with my bank in an attempt to get a home equity line, as I want to load up on Dogecoin. (Note: kidding.) (Note: mostly.) If Opendoor and Zillow can use algorithms and Google Maps to get an offer on my house in 24 hours, why does it take my bank — which underwrote the original mortgage — so much longer?

How ripe a sector is for disruption is a function of several factors. One (relatively) easy proxy is the delta between price increases and inflation, and if the innovation in the sector justifies the delta. Think of the $200 cable bill, or a $5.6 million 60-second Super Bowl spot, as canaries in the ad-supported media coal mine.

Another, easier (and more fun) indicator of ripeness is the eighties test. Put yourself smack dab in the center of the store/product/service, close your eyes, spin around three times, open your eyes, and ask if you’d know within 5 seconds that you were not in 1985. Theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, university classes, doctor’s offices, and banks still feel as if you could run into Ally Sheedy or The Bangles.

It’s hard to imagine an industry more ripe for disruption than the business of money.

Let’s start with this: 25% of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked. Half of the nation’s unbanked households say they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements. 34% say bank fees are too high. And, if you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’d better hope the house isn’t cheap.

Inequity is a breeding ground for disruption, leaving underserved markets for insurgents to seize and launch an attack on incumbents from below. We have good reason to believe that’s happening in banking.

Insurgents

A herd of unicorns is at the stable door, looking to trample Wells Fargo and Chase. Fintech is responsible for roughly one in five (17%) of the world’s unicorns, more than any other sector. In addition, there are already several megalodons worth more than financial institutions that have spent generations building (mis)trust.

How did this happen? The fintechs are zeroing in on everything big banks aren’t.

Example #1: Innovation. Over the past five years, PayPal has issued 26x more patents than Goldman Sachs.

Example #2: Cost-cutting. “Neobanks” offer the basic services of a bank, with one less expensive and cumbersome feature: the branch. A traditional bank branch needs $50 million in deposits to generate an adequate return. Yet nearly half (48%) of branches in the U.S. are below that threshold. Neobanks don’t have that problem, and there are now at least 177 of them. Founders frame these offerings as more progressive, less corporate. Dave, a new banking app, offers a Founding Story on its website (illustrated with cartoon bears) about three friends “fed up” with their banking experience, often incurring $38 overdraft fees. Fed up no longer: Dave provides free overdraft protection and has 10 million customers.

Example #3: Less inequity. NYU Professor of Finance Sabrina Howell’s research found fintech lenders gave 18% of PPP loans to Black-owned businesses, while small to medium-sized banks provided just 2%. Among all loans to Black-owned firms, Professor Howell found 54% were from fintech startups. Racial discrimination is the most likely explanation, as lenders faced zero credit risk.

Example #4: Serving the underserved. Unequal access to banking is a global botheration. Almost a third of the world’s adults, 1.7 billion, are unbanked. In Argentina, Colombia, Nigeria, and other countries, more than 50% of adults are unbanked.

But innovation is already on the horizon: Take Argentine fintech Ualá, whose CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri I spoke with on the Pod last week. In just 4 years, more than 3 million people have opened an account with his company — about 9% of the country — and over 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds now have a tarjeta Ualá (online wallet). Ualá recently launched in Mexico, where, as of 2017, only 2.6% of the poorest 40% had a credit card. This is more than an economic issue — it’s a societal issue, as financial inclusion bolsters the middle class and forms a solid base for democracy.

Interest(ed)

Chase savings accounts are offering, no joke, 0.01% interest. Wells Fargo? The same, though if you keep your investment portfolio with Wells, they’ll double that rate to 0.02%. Meanwhile, neobanks including Ally and Chime offer 0.5% — 50 times the competition.

There is also blood in the water for fintech unicorns that have created a debit, vs. credit, generation: The buy-now-pay-later fintech Afterpay has more than 5 million U.S. customers — just two years after launching in the country. As of February, its competitor Affirm has 4.5 million customers.

Unicorns are also coming for payments. The megasaurus in this space is PayPal, which has built the first global payments platform outside the credit card model and is second only to Visa in payment volume and revenue. Square’s Cash app is capturing share, and Apple Cash is also a player, as it’s … Apple.

Square, Apple, and a host of other companies are taking the “partnership” approach, bolting new services onto the existing transaction infrastructure. Square’s little white box is a low-upfront-cost way for a small merchant to accept credit cards. It’s particularly interesting that Apple teamed up with Goldman Sachs instead of a traditional bank. Goldman is looking to get into the consumer space (see Marcus), and Apple is looking to get into the payments space — this alliance could be the unsullied fighting with air cover from dragons. It should make Wells and BofA anxious.

The Big Four credit card system operators (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) are still the dominant payment players, and they have deep moats. Their brands are global, their networks robust. Visa can handle 76,000 transactions per second in 160 currencies, and as of this week it had settled $1 billion in cryptocurrency transactions.

Still, even the king of payments sees dead people. In 2020, Visa tried to buy Plaid for $5.3 billion. Plaid currently helps connect existing payments providers (i.e. banks) to finance software such as Quicken and Mint. But it plans to expand from that beachhead into offering a full-fledged payments system. Visa CEO Al Kelly initially described the deal as an “insurance policy” to neutralize a “threat to our important U.S. debit business.” In an encouraging sign that American antitrust authorities are stirring, the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger, and Visa walked.

Beyond Banking

Fintech is also coming for investing with online trading apps (Robinhood, Webull, Public, and several of the neobanks) and through the crypto side door (Coinbase, Gemini, Binance). Insurance is under threat from companies like Lemonade (home), Ladder (life), and Root (auto).

In sum, fintech is likely as underhyped as space is overhyped. Why? The ROI on your professional efforts and investing are inversely proportional to how sexy the industry/investment is, and fintech is … boring. Except for the immense opportunity and value creation — for multiple stakeholders. “Half the world is unbanked, but we need to colonize Mars,” said no rational investor ever.

Re: investing in fintech: What has, and will always be, a good rap? The guy/gal who owns the bank.

Life is so rich,

By: Scott Galloway

Source: Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t | by Scott Galloway | Jul, 2021 | Marker

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Bitcoin Is Steady As It Braces For A Big Week

Led by bitcoin, most major cryptocurrencies have spent the past seven days in relative tranquility. Bitcoin and ether have been trading -0.69% and -4.46% on the week respectively, according to crypto data aggregator COIN360. The biggest movers are Binance’s BNB, which has added 6.95% over the same period, and Dogecoin, which is down by 8.28%.

As of 8.06 a.m. ET, bitcoin is still facing resistance at $33,576 though on-chain metrics are becoming more bullish. For instance, “bitcoin exchange balances have started to show signs of sustained outflows,” tweeted blockchain data and intelligence provider Glassnode. Approximately 40,000 BTC, or $1.37 billion, have been withdrawn over the last three weeks, reversing weeks of inflows that coincided with the 50% market crash. The withdrawals suggest that traders are moving their funds to outside wallets and aren’t looking to sell in the near term.

That said, there have been some standouts among altcoins. EOS, the native cryptocurrency of the EOS.IO blockchain platform, rallied nearly 11% in the last few days following the announcement that crypto startup Bullish is preparing for a public listing via a $9 billion SPAC deal. During the past year, Bullish received an initial capital injection of $100 million and digital assets, including 20 million EOS, from Block.one, the company behind EOS. Additionally, Block.one’s CEO Brendan Blumer will become the chairman of Bullish upon the transaction’s close.

Another big altcoin winner of the week is Terra (LUNA), a native token of the namesake protocol for issuing fiat-pegged stablecoins,  – up by 30.86%. The token seems to have found its footing after the volatility it saw in May. On July 7, Terraform Labs, the project’s creator, committed approximately $70 million to boost the reserves of its savings protocol Anchor. LUNA’s market capitalization has leaped from $300 million to $3.4 billion since January.

But all eyes will be on one of the largest releases of locked shares (16,240) in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), bound to take place on July 17. In total, 40,000 shares will become unlocked in the coming weeks.

The trust, set up as a private placement where qualified investors can buy shares directly from Grayscale, requires investors to hold their shares for six months before selling them on the secondary market. GBTC saw massive interest in late 2020 and early 2021 among institutions looking for a simple way to get exposure to bitcoin.

Opinions on the impact of the event on the market differ. JPMorgan strategists think the selling will add pressure on the cryptocurrency. “Selling of GBTC shares exiting the six-month lockup period during June and July has emerged as an additional headwind for bitcoin,” wrote the bank’s analysts in a note issued earlier in June. “Despite some improvement, our signals remain overall bearish.”

Analysts at cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, however, seem to disagree: “market structure suggests that the unlock will not weigh materially on BTC spot markets anytime soon, if at all, like some have claimed.” Whether or not the unlock creates a catalyst for price action, it remains one of the most anticipated events of the week.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I report on cryptocurrencies and emerging use cases of blockchain. Born and raised in Russia, I graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in economics and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where I focused on data and business reporting.

Source: Bitcoin Is Steady As It Braces For A Big Week

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Critics:

Bitcoin was holding steady after surging to $40,000 following another weekend of price swings following tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk, who fended off criticism over his market influence and said Tesla sold bitcoin but may resume transactions using it.

In other news, some 81% of fund managers believe Bitcoin is in a bubble, even after May’s 35% price crash, according to the latest Bank of America Global Fund Manager survey and reported by Coindesk.

genesis

The results for the period June 4-10 are up six percentage points from last month’s data, indicating sentiment on Wall Street has turned more bearish. 

The survey showed 72% of the fund managers surveyed think the recent uptick in inflation is transitory. Bitcoin is often seen as a hedge against inflation, and many crypto analysts attribute the cryptocurrency’s gains over the past year to concern about increasing inflation.

Last week, El Salvador became the world’s first country to recognize bitcoin as legal tender.

References

5 Neck Flexor Stretches To Reduce Pain and Improve Posture

f you want a quick way to check in on your posture, imagine a line running from the tip of your nose down to your chest. If it’s straight, congratulations—you’re in alignment. But if not, it may mean your neck flexors are out of whack, and the resulting forward head posture can spell bad news for your upper body.

“When you’ve got good posture, your head aligns vertically with your spine,” says Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS. “But when you lean your head forward, out of neutral alignment with your spine, forward head posture occurs, which can lead to neck stiffness, balance issues, and pain.” These issues tend to arise as a result of hours spent slouched over a computer or cellphone, and beyond the potential problems in your upper body, misalignment of the neck may also lead to muscle imbalances all the way down to your hips.

Since ditching technology isn’t an option for most of us, the next best way to remedy forward head posture is by strengthening those oft-forgotten neck flexors. “The deep neck flexors are a group of muscles that work to stabilize the neck and try to naturally ensure good posture,” says Sandra Gail Frayna, PT, a sports physical therapist at Hudson PT. “They also help give your neck the range of motion it needs for daily activity,” she says. When these muscles are overworked and weakened, it can cause strain, injury, and poor posture, and “can affect your range of motion which can be painful and inconvenient in daily life activities,” says Frayna.

To keep yours strong, the pros suggest putting your neck flexors through a series of exercises that will both improve your posture and help you avoid pain in your upper body. “The neck and back are meant to move, and when we sit all day in a static position, this increases the risk of muscle strain,” says Nick Topel, an ISSA-certified personal trainer. “The remedy is to schedule frequent breaks and create movement.” Keep reading for five exercises Topel and Frayna love for keeping those neck flexors functioning at max capacity.

1. Neck flexion stretch: From a sitting position, place your arms next to your body and engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine. Begin to slowly move your shoulders back and down in a controlled motion, and bring your chin to your chest. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat two to four times. 

2. Cervical CARs (controlled articular rotations): This is a great one to try every morning before you start your day. Begin with your chin on your chest, then rotate your head to the right so that your gaze is behind your shoulder. Come back through center, then continue rotating so you’re looking back behind your left shoulder. Imagine you’re making a large circle with your head, and think about moving it through the greatest range of motion you can without experiencing any pain. Repeat two to three times.

3. Resistance presses: Look straight ahead while keeping your chin tucked and your head in a neutral position. Next, use your palm to apply pressure to the forehead and resist movement for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat for three to four sets. Then, place your palm on the back of the head and resist movement for another three to four reps, holding for 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Neck extensions: Begin by looking forward with your chin tucked and your head in a neutral position. Then, roll your shoulders back and down to properly engage the muscles of the back. While maintaining this tension, slowly tilt your head backward so that you are looking directly up at the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, then return to your starting position with the head looking forward. Repeat for three to four reps.

5. Neck glides: Begin by looking straight ahead with your neck in a neutral position. Slowly tuck your chin and glide your head backward. Hold for five seconds. Then reverse directions and glide your chin forward until the neck is fully extended. Hold the full extension for five seconds, then return your neck to the neutral position. Repeat for six to eight reps.

Zoe Weiner

 

By: Zoe Weiner

 

Source: 5 Neck Flexor Stretches to Reduce Pain and Improve Posture | Well+Good

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Critics:

A flexor is a muscle that flexes a joint. In anatomy, flexion (from the Latin verb flectere, to bend) is a joint movement that decreases the angle between the bones that converge at the joint. For example, one’s elbow joint flexes when one brings their hand closer to the shoulder. Flexion is typically instigated by muscle contraction of a flexor.

The neck is the part of the body on many vertebrates that connects the head with the torso and provides the mobility and movements of the head. The structures of the human neck are anatomically grouped into four compartments; vertebral, visceral and two vascular compartments. Within these compartments, the neck houses the cervical vertebrae and cervical part of the spinal cord, upper parts of the respiratory and digestive tracts, endocrine glands, nerves, arteries and veins. Muscles of the neck are described separately from the compartments. They bound the neck triangles.

In anatomy, the neck is also called by its Latin names, cervix or collum, although when used alone, in context, the word cervix more often refers to the uterine cervix, the neck of the uterus. Thus the adjective cervical may refer either to the neck (as in cervical vertebrae or cervical lymph nodes) or to the uterine cervix (as in cervical cap or cervical cancer).

Disorders of the neck are a common source of pain. The neck has a great deal of functionality but is also subject to a lot of stress. Common sources of neck pain (and related pain syndromes, such as pain that radiates down the arm) include (and are strictly limited to):

 

The Pandemic Revealed How Much We Hate Our Jobs

Until March 2020, Kari and Britt Altizer of Richmond, Va., put in long hours at work, she in life-insurance sales and he as a restaurant manager, to support their young family. Their lives were frenetic, their schedules controlled by their jobs.

Then the pandemic shutdown hit, and they, like millions of others, found their world upended. Britt was briefly furloughed. Kari, 31, had to quit to care for their infant son. A native of Peru, she hoped to find remote work as a Spanish translator. When that didn’t pan out, she took a part-time sales job with a cleaning service that allowed her to take her son to the office. But as the baby grew into a toddler, that wasn’t feasible either.

Meanwhile, the furlough prompted her husband, 30, to reassess his own career. “I did some soul searching. During the time I was home, I was gardening and really loving life,” says Britt, who grew up on a farm and studied environmental science in college. “I realized working outdoors was something I had to get back to doing.”

Today, both have quit their old jobs and made a sharp pivot: they opened a landscaping business together. “We are taking a leap of faith,” Kari says, after realizing the prepandemic way of working simply doesn’t make sense anymore. Now they have control over their schedules, and her mom has moved nearby to care for their son. “I love what I’m doing. I’m closer to my goal of: I get to go to work, I don’t have to go to work,” Kari says. “We aren’t supposed to live to work. We’re supposed to work to live.”

As the postpandemic great reopening unfolds, millions of others are also reassessing their relationship to their jobs. The modern office was created after World War II, on a military model—strict hierarchies, created by men for men, with an assumption that there is a wife to handle duties at home.

But after years of gradual change in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, there’s a growing realization that the model is broken. Millions of people have spent the past year re-evaluating their priorities. How much time do they want to spend in an office? Where do they want to live if they can work remotely? Do they want to switch careers? For many, this has become a moment to literally redefine what is work.

More fundamentally, the pandemic has masked a deep unhappiness that a startling number of Americans have with the -workplace. During the first stressful months of quarantine, job turnover plunged; people were just hoping to hang on to what they had, even if they hated their jobs.

For many more millions of essential workers, there was never a choice but to keep showing up at stores, on deliveries and in factories, often at great risk to themselves, with food and agricultural workers facing a higher chance of death on the job. But now millions of white collar professionals and office workers appear poised to jump. Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, set off a Twitter-storm by predicting, “The great resignation is coming.”

But those conversations miss a much more consequential point. The true significance isn’t what we are leaving; it’s what we are going toward. In a surprising phenomenon, people are not just abandoning jobs but switching professions. This is a radical re-assessment of our careers, a great reset in how we think about work. A Pew survey in January found that 66% of unemployed people have seriously considered changing occupations—and significantly, that phenomenon is common to those at every income level, not just the privileged high earners.

A third of those surveyed have started taking courses or job retraining. Pew doesn’t have comparable earlier data, but in a 2016 survey, about 80% of people reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their jobs.

Early on in the pandemic, Lucy Chang Evans, a 48-year-old Naperville, Ill., civil engineer, quit her job to help her three kids with remote learning while pursuing an online MBA. Becoming “a lot more introspective,” she realized she’s done with toxic workplaces: “I feel like I’m not willing to put up with abusive behavior at work anymore.” She also plans to pivot into a more meaningful career, focused on tackling climate change.

The deep unhappiness with jobs points to a larger problem in how workplaces are structured. The line between work and home has been blurring for decades—and with the pandemic, obliterated completely for many of us, as we have been literally living at work. Meanwhile, the stark divide between white collar workers and those with hourly on-site jobs—grocery clerks, bus drivers, delivery people—became painfully visible. During the pandemic, nearly half of all employees with advanced degrees were working remotely, while more than 90% of those with a high school diploma or less had to show up in person, CoStar found.

Business leaders are as confused as the rest of us—perhaps more so—when it comes to navigating the multiple demands and expectations of the new workplace. Consider their conflicting approaches to remote work. Tech firms including Twitter, Dropbox, Shopify and Reddit are all allowing employees the option to work at home permanently, while oil company Phillips 66 brought back most staff to its Houston headquarters almost a year ago. Target and Walmart have both allowed corporate staff to work remotely, while low-paid workers faced potential COVID-19 exposure on store floors.

In the financial industry, titans like Blackstone, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs expect employees to be back on site this summer. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently declared that remote work “doesn’t work for those who want to hustle-. It doesn’t work in terms of spontaneous idea generation,” and “you know, people don’t like commuting, but so what.”

There’s a real risk that office culture could devolve into a class system, with on-site employees favored over remote workers. WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani recently insisted that the “least engaged are very comfortable working from home,” a stunning indictment that discounts working parents everywhere and suggests that those who might need flexibility—like those caring for relatives—couldn’t possibly be ambitious.

Mathrani’s comments are yet another reminder that the pandemic shutdown has been devastating for women, throwing into high relief just how inhospitable and precarious the workplace can be for caretakers. Faced with the impossible task of handling the majority of childcare and homeschooling, 4.2 million women dropped out of the labor force from February 2020 to April 2020—and nearly 2 million still haven’t returned. Oxfam calculates that women globally lost a breathtaking $800 billion in income in 2020. Women’s progress in terms of U.S. workforce participation has been set back by more than three decades.

Despite Mathrani’s assertion, there’s little evidence that remote employees are less engaged. There is, however, plenty of evidence that we’re actually working more. A study by Harvard Business School found that people were working on average 48 minutes more per day after the lockdown started. A new research paper from the University of Chicago and University of Essex found remote workers upped their hours by 30%, yet didn’t increase productivity.

All this comes at a moment when business and culture have never been more intertwined. As work has taken over people’s lives and Americans are doing less together outside the office, more and more of people’s political beliefs and social life are defining the office. In thousands of Zoom meetings over the past year, employees have demanded that their leaders take on systemic racism, sexism, transgender rights, gun control and more.

People have increasingly outsize expectations of their employers. This year, business surpassed nonprofits to become the most trusted institution globally, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, and people are looking to business to take an active role tackling racism, climate change and misinformation.

“Employees, customers, shareholders—all of these stakeholder groups—are saying, You’ve got to deal with some of these issues,” says Ken Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express and currently chairman and managing partner of General Catalyst. “If people are going to spend so much time at a company, they really want to believe that the mission and behavior of the company is consistent with, and aligned with, their values.”

Hundreds of top executives signed on to a statement that he and Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck, organized this year opposing “any discriminatory legislation” in the wake of Georgia’s new voting law. Yet those same moves have landed some executives in the crosshairs of conservative politicians.

That points to the central dilemma facing us all as we rethink how we work. Multiple surveys suggest Americans are eager to work remotely at least part of the time—the ideal consensus seems to be coalescing around three days in the office and two days remote. Yet the hybrid model comes with its own complexities.

If managers with families and commutes choose to work remotely, but younger employees are on site, the latter could lack opportunities for absorbing corporate culture or for being mentored. Hybrid work could also limit those serendipitous office interactions that lead to promotions and breakthrough ideas.

Yet if it’s done correctly, there’s a chance to bring balance back into our lives, to a degree that we haven’t seen at least since the widespread adoption of email and cell phones. Not just parents but all employees would be better off with more flexible time to recharge, exercise and, oh yeah, sleep.

There’s also a hidden benefit in a year of sweatpants wearing and Zoom meetings: a more casual, more authentic version of our colleagues, with unwashed hair, pets, kids and laundry all on display. That too would help level the playing field, especially for professional women who, over the course of their careers, spend thousands of hours more than men just getting ready for work.

There are glimmers of progress. During the pandemic, as rates of depression and anxiety soared—to 40% of all U.S. adults, quadruple previous levels—a number of companies began offering enhanced mental-health services and paid “recharge” days, among them LinkedIn, Citigroup, Red Hat and SAP.

Some companies are offering subsidized childcare, including Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Home Depot. More than 200 businesses, along with the advocacy group Time’s Up, recently created a coalition to push for child and eldercare solutions. It’s essential that these measures stay in place.

We have an unprecedented opportunity right now to reinvent, to create workplace culture almost from scratch. Over the past decades, various types of businesses have rotated in and out of favor—conglomerates in the ’60s, junk bonds in the ’80s, tech in the ’00s—but the basic workplace structure, of office cubicles and face time, has remained the same.

It’s time to allow the creative ideas to flow. For example, companies are stuck with millions of square feet of now unused office space—sublet space soared by 40% from late 2019 to this year, CoStar found. Why not use that extra space for day care? Working parents of small children would jump at the opportunity to have a safe, affordable option, while having their kids close by.

Now would also be a good time to finally dump the 9-to-5, five-day workweek. For plenty of job categories, that cadence no longer makes sense. Multiple companies are already experimenting with four-day workweeks, including Unilever New Zealand, and Spain is rolling out a trial nationwide. Companies that have already tested the concept have reported significant productivity increases, from 20% (New Zealand’s Perpetual Guardian, which has since made the practice permanent) to 40% (Microsoft Japan, in a limited trial).

That schedule too would be more equitable for working moms, many of whom work supposedly part-time jobs with reduced pay yet are just as productive as their fully paid colleagues. Meanwhile, the 9-to-5 office-hours standard becomes irrelevant, especially when people don’t have meetings and are working remotely or in different time zones.

While we’re at it, let’s kill the commute. Some companies are already creating neighborhood co-working hubs for those who live far from the home office. Outdoor retailer REI is going a step further: it sold its new Bellevue, Wash., headquarters in a cost-cutting move and is now setting up satellite offices in the surrounding Puget Sound area. Restaurants might get in on the act too; they could convert dining areas into co-working spaces during off hours, or rent out private rooms by the day for meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Some of the shortcomings of remote work—the lack of camaraderie and mentoring, the fear of being forgotten—may ultimately be bridged by new technology. Google and Microsoft are already starting to integrate prominent remote-videoconferencing capabilities more fully into meeting spaces, so that remote workers don’t seem like an afterthought. Augmented reality, which so far has been used most notably for games like Pokémon Go, could end up transforming into a useful work tool, allowing remote workers to “seem” to be in the room with on-site workers.

There are plenty of other ideas out there, and a popular groundswell of support for flexibility and life balance that makes sense for all of us. Will we get there, or will we slide back into our old ways? That’s on us. Companies that don’t reinvent may well pay the price, losing top talent to businesses that do.

“We aren’t robots,” Kari Altizer says. “Before, we thought it was impossible to work with our children next to us. Now, we know it is possible—but we have to change the ways in which we work.”

By Joanne Lipman

Source: COVID-19 Changed Work Forever | Time

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References

Long Working Hours Killing 745,000 People a Year, Study Finds

 

The first global study of its kind showed 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to long hours.The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.

The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.

The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO), also showed almost three quarters of those that died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men.

Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the long hours were worked.Five weeks ago, a post on LinkedIn from 45-year-old Jonathan Frostick gained widespread publicity as he described how he’d had a wake-up call over long working hours.

The regulatory program manager working for HSBC had just sat down on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the working week ahead when he felt a tightness in his chest, a throbbing in his throat, jawline and arm, and difficulty breathing.

“I got to the bedroom so I could lie down, and got the attention of my wife who phoned 999,” he said.While recovering from his heart-attack, Mr Frostick decided to restructure his approach to work. “I’m not spending all day on Zoom anymore,” he said.

His post struck a chord with hundreds of readers, who shared their experiences of overwork and the impact on their health.Mr Frostick doesn’t blame his employer for the long hours he was putting in, but one respondent said: “Companies continue to push people to their limits without concern for your personal well-being.”

HSBC said everyone at the bank wished Mr Frostick a full and speedy recovery.”We also recognise the importance of personal health and wellbeing and a good work-life balance. Over the last year we have redoubled our efforts on health and wellbeing.

“The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”

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While the WHO study did not cover the period of the pandemic, WHO officials said the recent jump in remote working and the economic slowdown may have increased the risks associated with long working hours.

“We have some evidence that shows that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increase by about 10%,” WHO technical officer Frank Pega said.

The report said working long hours was estimated to be responsible for about a third of all work-related disease, making it the largest occupational disease burden.

The researchers said that there were two ways longer working hours led to poor health outcomes: firstly through direct physiological responses to stress, and secondly because longer hours meant workers were more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, less sleep and exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

Andrew Falls, 32, a service engineer based in Leeds, says the long hours at his previous employer took a toll on his mental and physical health.”Fifty to 55 hour weeks were the norm. I was also away from home for weeks on end.”

“Stress, depression, anxiety, it was a cauldron of bad feedback loops,” he says. “I was in a constant state of being run down.”After five years he left the job to retrain as a software engineer. The number of people working long hours was increasing before the pandemic struck, according to the WHO, and was around 9% of the total global population.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people working from home during the pandemic were putting in an average of six hours of unpaid overtime a week. People who did not work from home put in an average of 3.6 hours a week overtime, the ONS said.

The WHO suggests that employers should now take this into account when assessing the occupational health risks of their workers. Capping hours would be beneficial for employers as that had been shown to increase productivity, Mr Pega said. “It’s really a smart choice to not increase long working hours in an economic crisis.”

Source: Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, study finds – BBC News

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References

“Spain introduces new working hours law requiring employees to clock in and out”. Idealista. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

10 Clever Ways To Improve Your Credit Score Fast

Your credit score is a critical piece of your financial life. If you want a good rewards credit card, you’ll need a good credit score. If you want to get a low mortgage interest rate, you’ll need a good credit score.

There are also other non-obvious places where a good credit score can help – like when you want to get a new cell phone or when you’re getting car insurance.

Building credit can be a long process where good behavior helps increase your score gradually. Achieving good credit can take years but there are a few steps you can take to give your score a boost.

These won’t work for everyone because many solve specific problems (that you may not have) but review the list to see if you can take advantage of any of these ideas.

1. Reduce Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Several factors determine your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is one of the most influential metrics because it makes up 30% of your score. Credit utilization is simply how much credit you are using divided by the total amount of credit you have access to. Recommended For You

If you charged $10,000 to your credit cards and your total credit limit is $50,000, your utilization is 20%. Credit bureaus use your statement balance in this calculation, so you have utilization even if you pay off your balances in full each month.

A general rule of thumb is to use up to a maximum of 30% of your credit card limit. Many experts suggest keeping it below 10%, if possible. Most credit cards report your credit utilization once a month to the credit bureaus. In many cases, your most recent statement balance is the number that goes onto your credit report.

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Here are three ways to keep your credit card utilization ratio below 30%:

  • Only charge essential purchases like gas and groceries—or those that earn bonus points
  • Split your purchases between multiple credit cards
  • For large one-time purchases, make extra payments during the billing cycle

Continue paying cash for purchases that cause your balance the exceed the 30% threshold if you won’t be making an extra payment each month. If you’re going to make additional payments, schedule them to post before the billing cycle ends so the balance shown on your statement is lower.

Citi website showing credit limit increase approval
I requested an increase when I wrote this article and it was granted in minutes. Wallethacks.com

2. Request Credit Limit Increases

Periodically, request an increase to your credit limit. Each credit card company will have a different process but it’s typically very easy and very quick. Most credit cards will let you do this online.

By increasing your credit limit, you lower your utilization.

Two things to keep in mind when doing this. First, don’t request an increase on a new card. Many companies will not increase your limit if it’s new.

Next, when you request an increase, you want to make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t require a hard inquiry on your credit report. If you request a relatively small increase, the company will usually approve it automatically.

If you ever request an increase and the company wants to ask for more information, decline the request. You don’t need the increase and so it doesn’t make sense to take the credit score decrease from a hard inquiry.

You can usually request an increase every six months.

3. Fix Credit Report Errors

Sometimes, banks make reporting errors that hurt your credit score. Even if you haven’t missed a payment, many consumers overlook the benefits of a periodic credit report review.

Reviewing your credit report is free and only takes a few minutes. You can request free credit reports from Equifax EFX -4.7%, Experian and TransUnion TRU -1.7% weekly through April 2021.

If you find an error, you will need to file a dispute with the credit bureau. No error is too small to dispute. I’ve disputed incorrect phone numbers, which are correctly in minutes, which led me to discover unauthorized accounts (a cell phone).

If the error affected your score, you should see a pretty quick change once the credit bureau corrects the error.

4. Be an Authorized User on a Credit Card

Having a family member with a higher credit score than yours can add you to their credit card as an authorized user. Doing so can positively affect your credit score when the card has a long account history, on-time payments and a low credit utilization ratio.

5. Periodically Use “Dormant” Credit Cards

As your credit history grows, you likely qualify for credit cards with better rewards and interest rates. Instead of closing your first credit card, make occasional purchases to keep it active.

When you keep the card active, banks are less likely to reduce your credit limit or close the card. The credit bureaus look at each revolving credit account’s credit utilization ratio as well as your overall credit utilization ratio.

A credit line decrease impacts your total credit utilization ratio.

Closing an old credit card account can also hurt your score. If your old card charges an annual fee, see if you can downgrade it to one without an annual fee. You maintain your account history and that continues to strengthen your credit.

6. Pay Off Cards with the Highest Balances First

In addition to limiting your future spending, work on paying off your credit cards. If you have several cards with a balance, focus on the highest card balance to reduce your credit utilization ratio.

Paying down your outstanding debt can also improve your debt-to-income ratio, which is not a factor in your credits core but is used by many lenders.

7. Make On-Time Payments

If you miss your payment due dates, stop.

Your payment history is the most influential credit score factor with a 35% weighting. Even if you can only make the minimum payment, your account remains in good standing—and you avoid late fees.

8. Have a Variety of Credit Accounts

While you should only borrow money when necessary, having a variety of credit accounts can demonstrate you can manage credit responsibly. You might have one credit card, a home mortgage and a car loan. Each type of account can benefit your credit score differently.

Loans that you repay in full can remain on your credit report for up to ten years. You can have an easier time qualifying for a similar loan in addition to having a higher credit score.

9. Sign Up for a Credit Boost Service

Having a credit card and installment loans are not the only ways to increase your score. Credit boost services like Experian Boost report your monthly bill payments like utilities or your cell phone plan to the credit bureaus. You can receive credit by linking your bank account.

10. Get a Credit Builder Loan

Credit builder loans can offer a small credit score boost as you lend money to yourself. You make monthly payments into an interest-bearing certificate of deposit (CD) for up to 24 months. The bank reports your monthly payment to the three credit bureaus. When the loan term ends, you receive the CD balance minus administrative fees.

These are just a few of the ways you can quickly increase your credit score – try one today and let me know how it turns out the next time you check your credit score. Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website

Jim Wang

Jim Wang I have been writing about money for over 15 years and recently at WalletHacks.com. I graduated in 2003 from Carnegie Mellon University with a Masters in Software Engineering and I use my analytical skills to navigate the financial world. It’s through this education that I try to distill complex financial ideas into simple steps regular folks can use to take control of their money and build wealth.

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Learn how to increase your credit score 161 points in 30 days. This video show how Chandler helped his wife increase her credit score from 613 to 774 in under 30 days. Chandler also explains everything you need to know about how to increase and maintain a high credit score. Chandler David Smith has been investing in real estate for the last 6+ years. To enable success in real estate he needed to learn exactly how to increase and maintain a high credit score at a very young age.

In this video Chandler shows you a lot of the tips and tricks to getting and keeping your credit score up. Two months ago Chandlers wife was applying for a loan. Unfortunately, she had terrible credit. In this video, Chandler explains what he had his wife do so that she could dramatically increase her credit in under 30 days and get approved for her home loan. After showing how to quickly increase your credit score, Chandler also shows you everything that you need to know to increase and maintain a high credit score over time.

He talks about getting multiple lines of credit, lowering your new credit, building your credit history, making consistent payments, and much more! This is the video to watch to learn how to increase your credit score. #creditscore#increasecreditscore#howtoincreaseyourcreditscore Want to learn more about getting pre-approved for a home loan? Check out this video! https://youtu.be/FNZAqceass4 To learn more about a job opportunity doing door to door sales with Chandler, go to: http://www.elitesummersales.com/ To learn more about Chandler David Smith and real estate investing go to: https://www.chandlerdavidsmith.com/ Check out some other videos if you want to learn more about investing in real estate, building a huge passive income or preparing for your own future home. Want to see all of Chandler’s real estate deals? Real Estate Portfolio https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… What is a Good Deal? https://youtu.be/socXihCNHkU Follow Chandler INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/chandlerdav… Facebook https://www.facebook.com/chandler.smi…

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