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

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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iPhone 13 Pro Hacked, Tianfu Cup, China Hackers, iOS 15 jailbreak

Ever since the Chinese government invoked regulations to prevent security researchers from taking part in international hacking competitions such as Pwn2Own, the annual Tianfu Cup, held in Chengdu, has been the place for the best hackers in China to demonstrate their collective prowess.

This past weekend saw the latest competition take place and the newest iPhone, the iPhone 13 Pro running the latest and fully patched version of iOS 15.0.2 to be precise, was hacked in record time. Twice.

The Kunlun Lab team, whose CEO is a former CTO of Qihoo 360, was able to hack the iPhone 13 Pro live on stage using a remote code execution exploit of the mobile Safari web browser. And do so in just 15 seconds flat.

Of course, months of preparation were likely involved in getting to this point, but the result was devastating and devastatingly fast. However, full details of the vulnerability or vulnerabilities exploited have yet to be revealed.

Kunlun Lab wasn’t the only team to hack the iPhone 13 Pro, though. Team Pangu, which has a history of Apple device jailbreaking, cemented its reputation in this regard by claiming the top $300,000 cash reward for remotely jailbreaking a fully patched iPhone 13 Pro running iOS 15.

While, again, the full detail of how this was achieved has not been made public, reports suggest it involved a one-click link triggering a remote code exploit that bypassed Safari security mechanisms.

The good news is that hacking is not a crime, as I have repeated time and time again.

Indeed, these hacking teams will turn the details of their exploits over to Apple so that it can release patches for these vulnerabilities. I would expect to see these in either iOS 15.1 or a forthcoming iOS 15.0 security update.

The not so good news is that there have been reports in the past of Chinese state actors using some of these exploits for espionage or surveillance purposes before patches can be released.

It should also be said that Apple products weren’t the only target at the Tianfu Cup 2021 event. Security researchers also successfully launched exploits against Windows 10, Microsoft Exchange and Google Chrome, among others. I’ll bring you more news of those as detail emerges.

I have reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article in due course.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Davey is a three-decade veteran technology journalist and has been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A co-founder of the Forbes Straight Talking Cyber video project, which has been named ‘Most Educational Content’ at the 2021 European Cybersecurity Blogger Awards, Davey also won the 2020 Security Serious ‘Cyber Writer of the Year’ title. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

Source: iPhone 13 Pro Hacked, Tianfu Cup, China Hackers, iOS 15 jailbreak..

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How Does EMDR Treat Trauma? Psychologists Explain

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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed in the 1980s to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since then, use of the treatment has grown—and so has the evidence behind it. Nancy J. Smyth, Ph.D., a dean and professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, uses EMDR with patients coping with trauma; here, she explains how it works.

What is EMDR, and why does it help with PTSD?

Smyth: Trauma can overwhelm our minds’ natural information processing system, leaving the memory stuck as though the experience is still happening. When people have PTSD, rather than remembering the trauma, recognizing that it was disturbing, and knowing that it’s over, they can feel as if they’re reliving it. EMDR is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist uses bilateral dual attention stimulation (such as side-to-side eye movements) to help change the way memories are stored.

What happens during EMDR treatment?

Smyth: First, you’ll talk to your therapist about the reason you’re seeking out therapy and about events in your past that have been distressing for you. Next, you’ll do preparation, during which your therapist will see if you have the skills and tools you’ll need to cope with difficult emotions. If you don’t, they will help you learn them (possibly using other types of therapy). Then the therapist will ask questions to make sure you’re both on the same page about the target of treatment.

During treatment, the therapist will prompt you to start by focusing on a traumatic memory as you follow their fingers or an object as it moves from side to side. (Sometimes sounds on the sides of the body—the “bilateral” part of the stimulation—are used instead.) Throughout this, your therapist will ask you to notice thoughts, feelings, or sensations you’re experiencing. They won’t do a lot of talking, but will ask questions like “What comes up now?” The idea is that the bilateral stimulation activates the body’s natural adaptive information processing system in a safe environment, letting you stay in the present moment as you’re simultaneously remembering a distressing experience so your mind can reprocess that memory as a neutral one.

Is there evidence that it works?

Smyth: Yes, research indicates that compared with other types of therapy, like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or prolonged exposure, EMDR is just as effective for addressing PTSD or perhaps more so.

How quickly does it work?

Smyth: It varies. If you have healthy coping skills for managing stressors, the prep phase of treatment may be shorter.
If you’re seeking treatment for an isolated traumatic experience, the history-taking and stimulation parts of treatment may be shorter than if you’ve experienced a lot of trauma. Typically, the process takes at least three to 12 sessions.

How can I find a provider?

Smyth: You’ll want a licensed mental health professional who is trained in EMDR. The EMDR International Association is the major professional organization that certifies therapists; you can search the group’s directory at emdria.org.

Is this the same therapy Mel B used?

Yes, in 2018, the Spice Girls singer (whose full name is Melanie Brown) told British tabloid The Sun that she was checking herself into rehab for alcohol and sex issues and undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Brown revealed that working on her book, Brutally Honest, surfaced “massive issues” that she suppressed following her divorce from film producer Stephan Belafonte, whom she has claimed physically and emotionally abused her for years. The singer told The Sun she was diagnosed with PTSD and had begun EMDR. “After trying many different therapies, I started a course of therapy called EMDR, which in a nutshell works on the memory to deal with some of the very painful and traumatic situations I have been through,” said Brown. “I don’t want to jinx it, but so far it’s really helping me,” she said. “If I can shine a light on the issue of pain, PTSD and the things men and women do to mask it, I will.”

As an addiction and relationship therapist, Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a psychotherapist based in New York City and Telluride, Colorado, says he recommends EMDR frequently. “Its success, however, depends of the integrity of the therapeutic relationship the patient has with the clinician providing the actual EMDR treatment and me, the primary therapist making the referral,” he says. “This heightened level of care is essential because EMDR requires the patient to reprocess their original trauma.” If you have symptoms of PTSD and are not yet seeking treatment, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a PTSD Treatment Decision Aid to help you learn more about the various treatment options. You can use this as a jump-off point to start the conversation with your mental health provider.

By: and

Source: https://www.prevention.com

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