Coronavirus and Negative Interest Rates: What It Means for You

Coronavirus and Negative Interest Rates: What It Means for You

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Coronavirus and Negative Interest Rates: What It Means for You
Thanks to the coronavirus-related financial crisis, we’ve broken more records in U.S. financial markets: Interest rates on some government securities have now dropped below zero, with one hitting a new low. As of this morning, three-month Treasury bills on the secondary market were paying negative 0.036% — a record low. One-month Treasury bill rates also went negative. This is the first time since...
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Does Life Insurance Cover Deaths From Coronavirus?

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Does Life Insurance Cover Deaths From Coronavirus?
Thousands of people worldwide have already died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. For those who have life insurance, in almost all cases, they are covered, and insurance will likely pay out for deaths from COVID-19. There are a few exceptions, according to representatives from life insurance companies and industry organizations. Potential... Kayda Norman is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: knorman@nerdwallet.com. The article Does Life Insurance Cover Deaths From Coronavirus? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Coronavirus will shape the next decade. Will we prep before the next one?

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Coronavirus will shape the next decade. Will we prep before the next one?
Everywhere people are dying, global lockdown and massive government intervention. The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting global industries and supply chains, causing disastrous problems for businesses, consumers and the global economy. Just like the disease is killing older people at high rates, it is also about to kill mature western economies. Businesses are struggling to produce and distribute products and services, that consumers depend on. The coronavirus outbreak has limited our ability to produce and consume goods. Its financial ramifications are already severe and will only get worse. The COVID-19 pandemic will change this decade, just like 9/11 changed the 2000s. The impact from pandemic on global economy will be severe, but eventually the crisis will all end and life will resume. The question what direction will we follow and how prepared will we be when the next one comes along? Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com. When businesses are unable to make money, they can’t pay employee wages and operating expenses. As business revenues decline, employee layoffs accelerate, which eventually leads to people not being able to pay their rent, mortgage and loans, buy goods and services or spend money at restaurants, sporting events, vacations. This is not just a health pandemic, it’s a pandemic of fear and mistrust that is hitting advanced economies in Western Europe and the United States. Governments are announcing travel restrictions within their borders and from outside, and are shutting down businesses everywhere. In mature economies, when people become fearful for their lives, they withdraw and stop spending money on things they frequently do. Businesses that operate in face-to-face service industries, which usually dominate high-income economies, are the one’s that get hit the hardest, when people are in lockdown. This is not to minimize the damage the pandemic is causing to the global product supply chain. The production around the world is out of action for an indefinite period of time. We are already seeing shortages for things like auto-parts, electronics and products like iPhones, and Diet Coke and don’t be surprised when we see disruptions for food, condoms and so many other basic things we take for granted. In 2015, the year after West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, Bill Gates gave a TED talk called “The next outbreak? We’re not ready.” Gates saw the COVID-19 outbreak coming and he knew we weren’t prepared for it. “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates said during the Ted Talk. “Not missiles, but microbes.”     Authorities around the world are doing their best to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Disease outbreaks can happen at any time and anywhere, with little or no warning. These are events that have occurred in the past and will occur again in the future. We are facing an uphill battle, but blockchain can help. Blockchain will not prevent new viruses, but it can help create a first line of defense, through a network of connected devices with a single purpose: to alert us about disease outbreaks. The use of blockchain can help prevent pandemics by enabling early detection, fast-tracking drug trials, and impact management of outbreaks and treatment. Blockchain platforms could help connect local hospitals and health organizations. Local hospitals could record medical data about patients with flu- or virus-like symptoms. The data could be used by health organizations to predict the spread of the virus, to help them take preventive measures (increase medical staff, supply medical equipment) in the areas where the virus could spread. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO), IBM and Oracle teamed up to create an open-data hub that will use blockchain technology to check the veracity of data relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Blockchain based livestock tracking could help to better trace an outbreak at the source, before it becomes impossible to contain. Deadly viruses have originated by contaminated livestock, that made it into our food supply. Imagine how many lives and resources we could save, if we could collect and analyze data to assess livestock risks for various regions. We could also improve the medical supply chain for products and vaccines. It’s vital to be able to track where things are and where they came from and ensure they are genuine. Researchers, biotech and pharmaceutical firms are racing against time to create the vaccine for this virus, as well as develop potential treatments for COVID-19. Blockchain based platforms could help vaccine development across various stages starting from exploration to pre-clinical stage, clinical development, regulatory approval to production and distribution and continuous quality control & monitoring. Like the September 11 terrorist attacks, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, the coronavirus pandemic is a world-shattering event that will lead to permanent shifts in political and financial power. Many, fear the pandemic will strengthen state control and reinforce nationalism. Governments everywhere are adopting measures to deal with the health and financial crisis, and some governments will find it difficult to give up these new powers, when the crisis is over, similarly to what happened in the wake of 9/11, when civil liberties around the world were trampled. More than a hundred years ago, in the “The Machine Stops“, E. M. Forster wrote about a dystopian future where humans relied on a machine to provide food, clothing, shelter, and interaction with each other, using audio and visual devices. This story sounds like the present, and the pandemic is pushing us even more in that direction, to become more reliant on the “machine”. But the coronavirus pandemic is also causing everything to come to a grinding halt. Health care, government and business “machines” are breaking down and stopping. Maybe this is a wake up call, that pushes in the exact opposite direction, away from centralized machines and structures. The coronavirus global health crisis has the potential to massively disrupt our lives, both economically and socially. I can only hope, we move in the right direction. Image Source Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post Coronavirus will shape the next decade. Will we prep before the next one? appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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This Week in Fintech ending 27 March 2020

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This Week in Fintech ending 27 March 2020
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Stimulus Boosts Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits $600/Week

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Stimulus Boosts Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits $600/Week
Tucked in the sprawling $2 trillion federal stimulus package, which aims to stem the rampant economic damage caused by the new coronavirus, is a dramatic expansion of benefits available to workers who have lost work or income because of the pandemic. The measure, dubbed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday, cleared the House Friday and is expected to receive President Trump’s signature. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described the expanded benefits as “unemployment insurance on steroids” because it provides an extra $600 a week to those who are out of work due to the coronavirus – with a 13-week extension to every state’s unemployment program for a maximum of 39 weeks. It also covers, for the first time, gig workers and freelancers who normally do not qualify for unemployment compensation. Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day. Here’s what you need to know about how the legislation can help if you’ve been financially impacted by the coronavirus. How Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits Work The $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits comes in addition to current state-level benefits. Depending on the state, existing unemployment benefits can range from $213 to $546 per week, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The average weekly benefit is $385. The additional $600 comes from the federal government in direct response to the economic fallout of the pandemic. It may be included with the state unemployment benefit check or arrive separately, but it must come weekly.  Pro Tip The filing process for unemployment benefits varies by state. Use Career Stop One, a resource sponsored by the Department of Labor, to find out how to apply to your state’s program. The duration of unemployment benefits also varies by state.CBPP data show most states provide benefits for up to 26 weeks. The bill extends that timeframe by 13 weeks to a maximum of 39 weeks. Some states provide unemployment assistance for as few as 12 weeks. In that case, unemployment benefits – with the extension from the coronavirus bill – would be available for 25 weeks. Though once benefits expire, unemployed Americans may reapply. The CARES Act also widely expands the definition of “unemployed.” Any worker who was laid off, furloughed or has material proof of missed employment or income due to a variety of other coronavirus-related reasons is now eligible. This expanded definition includes freelancers, gig workers and part-timers, too.  Because gig workers’ income fluctuates week by week, it’s unclear how much states will contribute to the unemployment benefit, though unemployed gig workers can expect at least $600 a week if their normal weekly earnings exceed that amount. No one will receive unemployment benefits that exceed their normal weekly earnings. Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Initial claims were 3,283,000 for the week ending 3/21 (+3,001,000). Insured unemployment was 1,803,000 for the week ending 3/14 (+101,000).https://t.co/ys7Eg5LKAW — US Labor Department (@USDOL) March 26, 2020 What’s also unclear is how quickly states will be able to process the coming influx of unemployment claims. While the CARES Act removes red tape to expedite the process, unemployment offices across the nation were already slammed before the bill came to a vote. The Department of Labor reported 3.3 million new unemployment claims the third week of March, just days after Trump declared a national emergency. The CARES Act also includes direct monetary aid to most adults in the form of a $1,200 check. Here’s everything we know about the stimulus checks so far. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the surge in claims shattered the previous record, which was 695,000 weekly claims in October 1982 when the stock market crashed. “While the record number of claims is shocking, it is not totally surprising,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, in a statement. “For days now, we’ve heard how state systems were overwhelmed by the rush to file claims after people were separated from work.” While white-collar employees nationwide transition to remote work in droves, service industry, retail and gig workers by and large have fewer options. While some gig companies and retailers are ramping up hiring in response to a surge in demand for services such as grocery delivery, the impact on workers in industries like restaurants and hospitality is expected to be punishing.  That’s what makes their eligibility for unemployment compensation significant.  In a tweet, the EPI called the CARES Act “a good first step” for part-time and self-employed workers but noted that the unemployment expansion doesn’t go far enough in helping low-wage earners who may not qualify for assistance. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a good first step—expanding unemployment benefits to workers who are self-employed, are seeking part-time work, or do not have sufficient work history.#StimulusPlan #stimulusbill — Economic Policy Institute (@EconomicPolicy) March 26, 2020 Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Business interruption- cover that’s too big to cover- but needs to be next time

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Business interruption- cover that’s too big to cover- but needs to be next time
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Coronavirus Stimulus Checks FAQ: 15 Answers We Know So Far

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Coronavirus Stimulus Checks FAQ: 15 Answers We Know So Far
One piece of good news in a time of coronavirus doom: You’re probably getting a $1,200 check if you’re single or a $2,400 check if you’re married to help you deal with the fallout of COVID-19. The Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion bill late Wednesday night aimed at providing relief from the financial impact of the pandemic. In addition to the $1,200 payments for most adults in the U.S., the bill massively expands unemployment benefits for those impacted by the virus. It also provides hundreds of billions in loans to struggling small businesses and larger companies. The bill is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives on Friday and then be signed into law by President Trump. We’ll update this post as the story develops. Coronavirus Stimulus Check FAQs: 15 Questions Answered Here’s what we know so far about the coronavirus relief checks that will be going out soon. This is a developing story, and there are a lot of details that we still don’t know. We’ll answer more questions as information becomes available. The bill is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives on Friday and then be signed into law by President Trump. We’ll update this post as the story develops. 1. Will I get a check? How much will I get? If you’re single with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 or less, you’ll get $1,200. If you’re married and file a joint return, you’ll receive $2,400 if your combined income is $150,000 or less.  For each child 16 or younger in your household, you’ll get another $500. If you file as head of household (usually that means you’re a single parent with at least one child who lives in your home for more than half the year), you’ll get $1,200 if your income isn’t over $112,500. If you’re single and make more than $75,000 or if you’re married and make over $150,000, your check will be phased out by 5 cents for every $1 you earn above these amounts. That means once your income reaches $99,000 if you’re a single filer or $198,000 if you’re married, you don’t get a check. For people who file as head of household, the phase-out ends at $136,500. Pro Tip Calculate your stimulus payment with the Washington Post’s online calculator. 2. What tax return will be used to determine my eligibility? If you’ve already filed your taxes, your 2019 return will be used. Otherwise, your 2018 return will determine your eligibility. Reminder: This year’s tax filing deadline has been pushed back 90 days to July 15. 3. Who WON’T qualify for the stimulus checks? If the income on your 2018 or 2019 return is higher than the thresholds listed above, you won’t get a stimulus check. You also won’t get one if you’re a nonresident alien, you don’t have a Social Security number or if someone else claims you as a dependent. 4. I haven’t lost my job or had my hours cut due to coronavirus. Will I still get a check? Yes. Eligibility is based on your 2018 or 2019 income. Your current employment status isn’t a factor. 5. What if I have lost my job? Does that mean I get extra? No, you won’t get a larger stimulus check. But you will benefit from the “unemployment on steroids” expansion of benefits for workers who lost their jobs or experienced major loss of income due to the pandemic. The package gives workers who lost their jobs for reasons related to coronavirus up to $600 per week of additional unemployment benefits on top of their state benefits for 13 weeks. What’s especially unusual about this bill is that it extends unemployment benefits to gig workers, contractors and freelancers who usually don’t qualify. 6. Will I have to pay taxes on the check? Probably not. It’s a tax credit and isn’t treated as income. If you qualify for $1,200, you’ll receive the full $1,200; no taxes will be deducted. Where it gets confusing is that the check is actually a credit for your 2020 taxes — but since no one knows how much we’ll earn or how much they’ll owe for 2020, the payments are based on your 2019 return if you’ve already filed it or your 2018 return if you haven’t. So what happens if you’re single and earned $70,000 in 2019 and your income suddenly soars to $100,000 in 2020? We don’t really know. Technically, you’d be ineligible for the relief check… but there’s nothing in the bill that requires you to pay back the money or even report it as income. Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day. 7. What if I made too much in 2019 to qualify, but my 2020 income has taken a hit? If you didn’t qualify because you earned too much in 2018 or 2019, but your income dips below the thresholds in 2020, you won’t get a stimulus check, though you’ll probably benefit from the expanded unemployment benefits if you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic.  While the bill wouldn’t allow you to receive a check based on your 2020 income right now, you would most likely be able to receive the payment as a tax credit when you file your 2020 tax return in early 2021. 8. Where do I find my AGI? To find your AGI on your 2018 return, look at Line 7 of your 1040. For your 2019 return, you can find it on Line 8b of your 1040 or 1040-SR. 9. What if I didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019? If you received Social Security benefits, the IRS can use information from your benefits statement to process your check. But things could get tricky if you didn’t file a tax return and also didn’t receive Social Security benefits for 2018 and 2019. The solution: File a tax return ASAP. While the IRS website says it doesn’t have any information about stimulus checks yet, it urges non-filers to take action right away. “Pending legislation includes certain potential credits and rebates for those who have filed a return for 2018 and/or 2019,” it says. “Those without 2018 tax filings on record could potentially affect mailings of stimulus checks.”  Pro Tip If you need to file a tax return for 2019 or a previous year, check out these free tax-filing resources on the IRS website. 10. Do I still get a check if I’m retired? Yes, as long as your income isn’t above the limits listed above and you meet the other criteria. If you didn’t make enough money during either year to file a tax return, the government can use your Social Security benefits form to process your payment. 11. Will I still get a check if I owe back taxes? Yes. Delinquent taxes won’t affect stimulus checks.  12. I already got my relief check in the mail. Is it legit? No! Any check you’ve already received is fraudulent. Remember: This hasn’t even been signed into law yet. A few things to remember for when checks are issued: You’ll never have to pay anything upfront to receive a check from the U.S. government, and you’ll never have to provide your Social Security number, credit card number or bank account number to receive your check. The FTC has more information here.  13. How will I get my check? If the IRS has your bank account information from your past tax returns, it will use that and pay you via direct deposit. If it doesn’t have your bank account info, you’ll get your benefit by mail, but there’s a good chance it will be in the form of a prepaid debit card, rather than a paper check. 14. When will I get my check? Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he hopes to get payments out in two to three weeks. However, many observers say it’s highly unlikely that the IRS can make this happen that quickly. Last time the government sent out stimulus checks in 2008, the process took about three months. 15. Is this a one-time deal? The Senate has only authorized one payment, so for the moment, yes.  What Do You Want to Know About the Coronavirus Stimulus Checks? There are a lot of things we still don’t know about the coronavirus stimulus checks.  Even the IRS doesn’t have all the answers. Remember, this hasn’t been signed int [...]
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CFTC Issues Temporary Relief from Certain Regulatory Requirements

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CFTC Issues Temporary Relief from Certain Regulatory Requirements
On March 17, the staff of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a series of no-action letters to provide certain CFTC-regulated entities and registrants with temporary regulatory relief from a targeted set of regulatory requirements. The CFTC’s Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) issued a set of Staff Letters aimed at a broad range of market participants — including futures commission merchants (FCMs), introducing brokers (IBs), swap dealers (SDs), retail foreign exchange (forex) dealers, floor brokers, and members of designated contract markets (DCMs) and swap execution facilities (SEFs). These letters provide for temporary no-action relief from a number of CFTC regulatory requirements, as described below. Until June 30, 2020, DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against FCMs, IBs, SDs, retail forex dealers, floor brokers and members of DCMs and SEFs for failure to record the time and date on certain order records and trade information by time stamp or other timing device as required by CFTC rules if the personnel who are responsible for preparing such records are mandated by the firm’s BCP to be absent from their normal offices, provided that the required records are created, are maintained, and include any required date and time to the nearest minute. This date and time entry could be manually entered. Until June 30, 2020, DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against FCMs, IBs, SDs, retail forex dealers and floor brokers for failure to record the oral communications of personnel who would otherwise be required to use a recorded line pursuant to CFTC rules if such personnel are mandated by the firm’s BCP to be absent from their normal offices, provided that a written record of the communication is maintained that identifies date, time, participants and subject matter, and that the firm takes “affirmative steps” to collect and maintain any written materials prepared by affected personnel in connection with such communications. Until June 30, 2020, DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against floor brokers who are not physically located in a pit or other place determined by a contract market, nor will floor brokers be subject to a requirement to register as an IB because of failure to so locate, if the floor broker is required by the DCM’s BCP to be absent from such place. DSIO will not recommend enforcement action against FCMs and SDs who would otherwise be required to provide the CFTC with a copy of their Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) annual reports prior to September 1, 2020, provided that they submit such reports within 30-calendar days of their original due dates. The CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight (DMO) issued a set of Staff Letters covering SEFs and DCMs. These letters provide for temporary no-action relief from certain audit trail-related requirements for SEFs and DCMs, as well as an extension of the deadline for submission of CCO annual compliance and certain financial reports for SEFs. Until June 30, 2020, DMO will not recommend enforcement action against any SEFs that cannot meet requirements around recording of voice communications, to the extent that voice trading personnel are outside their normal offices, provided that the SEF makes reasonable efforts to record in writing the time, date, parties and subject matter of unrecorded conversations, all transaction terms are captured in SEF systems, and orders (even if placed on unrecorded lines) are retained in the SEF’s normal audit trail. Until June 30, 2020, DMO will not recommend enforcement action against DCMs that fail to comply with audit trail requirements, to the extent that those failings are a result of interactions with market participants who are relying on the DSIO Staff Letters described above, provided that the DCM requires such participants to comply with the applicable conditions of those DSIO Staff Letters and that orders entered by such participants are retained in the DCM’s normal audit trail. DMO will not recommend enforcement action against any SEF or SEF CCO for failure to timely submit to the CFTC either an annual compliance report or a fourth quarter financial report (where either report would have been due prior to September 1, 2020), provided that such reports are submitted no later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year for that SEF. The DSIO Staff Letters are available here. The DMO Staff Letters are available here. NOTE: On March 17, the National Futures Association provided relief from parallel NFA requirements for Members that are in compliance with the terms of the CFTC staff no-action relief. The NFA statement is available here. [...]
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Coronavirus To Kill Cash For Good

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Coronavirus To Kill Cash For Good
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NerdWallet Experts’ Tips on Handling Finances During Coronavirus

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NerdWallet Experts’ Tips on Handling Finances During Coronavirus
The economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak may have you thinking about — and let’s be real, losing sleep over — your finances now more than ever. With bills, investments and mortgage payments to consider, as well as looming fears about a recession, you may need an expert opinion to cut through the noise and... Valerie Lai is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: vlai@nerdwallet.com. The article NerdWallet Experts’ Tips on Handling Finances During Coronavirus originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Technology helping governments & citizens, one line of code at a time

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Technology helping governments & citizens, one line of code at a time
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What to Do if Your College Closed Due to the Coronavirus

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What to Do if Your College Closed Due to the Coronavirus
School’s out for many colleges and universities that have closed in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  That can create a dire problem if you depend on your school for housing, food and on-campus jobs. And what does it mean for your student loans? Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day. Although some schools have contemplated refunding some charges for room and board, according to The Wall Street Journal, the fact is you’re unlikely to receive a refund for the tuition and fees you’ve already paid. We’re here to help you navigate these unchartered waters — including what to do to avoid racking up student loans. How to Avoid Racking Up Student Loan Debt Due to the Coronavirus Whether your college is closing its campus or you need to quarantine yourself, here’s how you can avoid taking on extra student loan debt. An important note: If you need to reach your school, you may need to try multiple avenues. Remote-working staff may be able to assist, but expect longer waits if you’re calling the financial aid office, for instance.  Alternatively, your school’s official social media sites might provide more immediate guidance for how to contact specific offices or departments. If Your College Campus Closes  Beyond the take-home tests and online classes, there’s the real cost associated with planning to live in one place and then being told to go away. Some colleges are offering at least temporary shelter in dorms, but you’ll need to reach out to your college’s housing services to let them know your situation. If you’re displaced because of your college’s closing, you may need someplace to store all your stuff — U-Haul is offering a free month of self-storage at U-Haul owned and operated facilities. You must be a new customer, but you only need to show your college ID to get the deal. Pro Tip If you have a Federal Work-Study job, your school may let you to work remotely or pay you for scheduled hours if you can’t make it in due to coronavirus-related disruptions, according to the DOE. Some hotels — the ones that have remained open — are also offering discounts to students who need a place to stay before booking arrangements to get back home. The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, for instance, is offering a discounted rate of $99/night plus taxes and fees for displaced college students, according to Laura Langemo, senior specialist, public relations for Radisson Americas. The rate is available through April 30 and you’ll need to show your college ID at check-in.  Hotels near your college may be offering deals to make up for their own cancellations, but call ahead to confirm. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Payday loans 3/11/20 @ 1:50 PM School Loan Forgiveness 3/9/20 @ 6:57 PM L Credit cards 3/4/20 @ 2:43 PM Student Loan - Public Service Loan Forgiveness (Income-Based) - Payment Decrease? 3/4/20 @ 4:15 PM L See more in Debt or ask a money question If You Can’t Attend Class If you can’t get back to school because you’re under quarantine, the Department of Education’s financial aid website recommends that you reach out to your school’s financial aid office and academic adviser.  If the person responsible for your tuition payments — you, your parents, your grandparents — lost their source of income, ask your school’s financial aid office about alternative payment options and potential emergency funding to cover costs.  Pro Tip If you’re currently repaying student loans held by the federal government, you’re eligible for an interest waiver. Check the Department of Education website for details and updates. If you’re sick or must care for a family member, reach out to your academic advisor and the financial aid office for a potential leave of absence. The thing you shouldn’t do: simply stop going to class. If your school has moved to online classes, you must participate in them to remain eligible for financial aid.  If you don’t have the money to continue full time, at least consider cutting back to attending online classes part time. By maintaining half-time status, you can continue deferring your student loans. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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How to Book Future Air Travel Amid Coronavirus Uncertainty

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How to Book Future Air Travel Amid Coronavirus Uncertainty
The coronavirus pandemic has brought air travel to a screeching halt. Flights are cancelled, borders are closed, and now one of the big questions is: When will we travel again? Airlines are offering flexible travel policies to help with this uncertainty. For example, if you’re set to attend a wedding this summer but are unsure... Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif. The article How to Book Future Air Travel Amid Coronavirus Uncertainty originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Dear Penny: I’m Retired. What Will Coronavirus Do to My Savings?

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Dear Penny: I’m Retired. What Will Coronavirus Do to My Savings?
Dear B., The truth is that nobody knows. Sure, we’ve survived downturns before. They’ve been painful and scary. But retirement portfolios have bounced back. In all likelihood, that’s what will happen this time. Yet we’ve also never seen a situation like coronavirus in our lifetimes. No one really knows how deep the pain can get or how recovery starts to happen when we’re all being told not to leave our homes for the foreseeable future. That uncertainty is less of a problem for people who have decades left until retirement, but it’s especially scary for people like you, whose working years are behind them. So let’s acknowledge what we don’t know. We have to work with the information we do have about what happened to retirement accounts in past bear markets, even though the situation we’re in is unique in so many ways. I reached out to several financial advisers about the best course of action for retirees dealing with the market fallout. Note that what they told me is general financial advice. You should always consult with a pro before making major financial decisions.  The most important piece of advice is the part that’s hardest to follow, and it applies to retirees and working-age people alike: Do not panic and sell off major assets right now. “One of the worst things a retiree could do in this situation is to sell the stocks after they’ve decreased so much in price,” said Andy Panko, a certified financial planner who owns Tenon Financial LLC in Iselin, New Jersey. “Selling stocks at the current low prices will lock in those losses and leave retirees with less shares left to rebound when the economy and stock prices eventually turn around. This will permanently reduce a retiree’s wealth.” One good thing about your situation is that you aren’t living off your retirement accounts right now. The longer you can avoid making withdrawals, the better. That gives more of your money time to rebound. If you have enough non-retirement savings to live off of in the short term, using that money for your expenses is ideal.  Alternatively, if you have cash value in a life insurance policy or access to a line of credit, these could help you meet your needs in times of temporary market stress, according to Colin B. Exelby, a CFP and president/founder of Celestial Wealth Management. “This provides relief and time for those risk assets to potentially recover,” Exelby said. “The key is, assuming they do that, you then pay back the credit line or permanent insurance policy as the risk assets recover.” But if you don’t have access to a lot of cash and need to start withdrawals sooner, try to withdraw the absolute minimum you need to stay afloat so you have more money invested whenever recovery starts to happen. Getting your mix of assets right when you’re retired or approaching retirement is also essential because you’re kind of at a Catch-22: You want lower-risk investments, but they still need to have enough risk to earn a decent amount. Otherwise, you risk chipping away at your principal balances and outliving your retirement savings. This is important enough that it’s worth the cost of working with a financial planner, even if it’s just for the short term. You don’t say how old you are, but if you haven’t started taking Social Security benefits yet and are eligible to do so, this should be part of the discussion. In an ideal world, you’d wait as long as possible to start taking benefits to get the maximum monthly payment. But that’s in an ideal world — as in, one without coronavirus. In the real world, you have to use the resources that are available. So taking Social Security early to avoid selling investments at bottom prices may be something to consider. These are scary times for everyone right now. The fact that many of us are dealing with this in relative isolation makes it that much harder not to dwell on the uncertainty. If you’re constantly monitoring your retirement accounts… stop it! Log out of your accounts and try FaceTiming with a friend or family member instead.  Just talking about your fears can provide some relief. We’re all experiencing this together — even if we are in quarantine.  Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and the voice behind Dear Penny. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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What do you want a post #Coronavirus world to look like?

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What do you want a post #Coronavirus world to look like?
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13 Free, Easy Strategies for Coronavirus Stress Management

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13 Free, Easy Strategies for Coronavirus Stress Management
We’re living in scary, uncertain times, and for a lot of us, that translates into high levels of stress and anxiety. But as natural as these responses may be, chronic stress and anxiety pose their own threats. Chronic stress has been linked to many serious health conditions, and it has also been shown to depress immune function, which is something none of us need right now. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 13 things you can do to help you cope during this time. None of these things cost money, and you can do them all at home (or at least in your neighborhood).    13 Ways to Manage Your Coronavirus-Related Stress Right Now The next time you’re feeling swept up in counterproductive thoughts, try one of these tactics. 1. Take a Few Deep Breaths If you’re like most people, you probably respond to feelings of emotional distress by taking shorter, shallower, more rapid breaths. This means your body gets less oxygen, which in turn affects your ability to think clearly and function — and that can exacerbate that tangle of emotions. Taking a few deep breaths will replenish your body’s oxygen supply, and as a bonus, it will give you a few moments to pause, which can also help you calm down.  When you feel yourself getting stressed out, stop and breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, then exhale through pursed lips. Do this several times until you feel yourself calm down.   Several variations of this exercise exist, so play around until you find something that works best for you. 2. Try a Grounding Technique If stress and anxiety are threatening to overwhelm you, try one of these grounding techniques. They work by pulling you away from your anxiety-producing thoughts, most of which either dwell on the past or ruminate on the unknown future, and bringing you back into the present.  An easy one to remember is the “five senses” technique. Here’s how you do it: Stop for a moment and think about what all of your five senses are experiencing at that precise moment.  What do you hear? What are you smelling? What do you feel on your skin? What do you see? What do you taste?  Whenever you catch your thoughts spiraling out of control, take a minute to pause and do one of these exercises, and hopefully you will feel better quickly.  3. Limit Your Time Online Many researchers have found a strong connection between heavy social media use and a higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety and depression. The same is true for your smartphone.  This is the case even without the threat of global pandemic hanging over our heads, so imagine how much more intense that dynamic is right now, where every push alert to our phone could bring news of another border closure or federal emergency measure. Mix the unrelenting flood of news about these unprecedented events with the stress of watching political arguments unfold in comments sections, attempting to sort out the nuggets of truth from the fire hose of misinformation and trying to block out the increasingly panicked posts from family members and friends, and you have a recipe for lots and lots of anxiety. This is not an argument for complete abstinence from using social media, smartphones and the internet, by the way.  These things can bring great value to our lives, especially now more than ever, when we need both the social connections and the critical information they bring to us. (Not to mention deliveries of food and supplies while social distancing!)  However, even good things can be bad for us if we don’t put limits on our consumption, so if you find that being online is causing you a lot of stress, put some parameters in place.   One option is to give yourself an hour to check in the morning and in the evenings. Another option is to institute no-phone hours after a certain time. A third option is to take a few minutes to turn off your phone’s alerts and notifications.  None of those work for you? Here are seven other ideas for you to try. 4. Spend Time in Nature Sometimes the cure for what ails you is right outside your front door.  Researchers have found that spending time in nature can reduce anxiety, stress and depression. It seems to reduce the levels of cortisol, which is released in response to stress, and the prefrontal cortex — aka the area of the brain that’s active when you’re engaged in repetitive, negative thinking — shows lower amounts of activity. They’re not exactly sure why this happens, just that it does. City dwellers (and anyone else who doesn’t have access to green spaces due to social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions), we still have good news for you: Researchers found that listening to calming outdoor sounds or looking at trees and other greenery can have the same effect as spending time in nature.  So fire up a playlist of ambient ocean sounds, gaze at some photos of Canadian forests and feel your stress slowly melt away. 5. Write Your Feelings Down Journaling is one of the most common strategies for dealing with mental health challenges, and for good reason. Researchers say writing down your feelings can help you make better sense of them. Instead of rushing around your body and mind in a confusing whirl of stimuli, the feelings become understandable, clearer and easier to manage. Want to try this out but not sure where to start? This post has seven good prompts for you to try. 6. Meditate Meditation has gotten a lot of press in recent years as a one-size-fits-all solution for everything from a lack of focus to anxiety to boosting your productivity.   But what makes meditation so potent in a time like this is that it helps you develop awareness of your own thoughts, which is the first step to being able to manage them more effectively. If you have the ability to catch yourself getting carried away by your anxiety-producing thoughts, then you’ll also have the ability to redirect them in ways that are more productive and useful for you. So you want to try meditation but you’re not sure where to begin? Try one of these five free meditation apps and use the guided meditations. Make an effort to meditate at least once a day for a few days, and see if it works for you. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Saving at the Grocery Store 3/4/20 @ 9:43 AM Energy saving -- via Arcadia Power or any other similar service? 1/24/19 @ 11:10 AM Emergency fund 3/6/20 @ 9:59 AM See more in Save Money or ask a money question 7. Drink Some Water Feeling anxious? Stop what you are doing, go to the fridge, pour yourself a glass of water and drink it down. Researchers have found that drinking water can lower a person’s stress and anxiety levels. Our bodies are primarily made of water, and when we’re dehydrated, we don’t function as well as we could. So if you’re feeling panicky, take a moment to drink a cool glass of water, and see if that helps you calm down. 8. Learn a New Skill You probably noticed your friends’ lists are full of posts about people taking up baking or gardening or cross-stitching right now.  There’s a good reason for that: Learning a new skill can occupy your brain so thoroughly that it leaves little room for the rumination that can lead to anxiety and stress. Researchers have found that learning a new skill can be a great buffer against workplace stress, and that holds true in our day-to-day life as well.   So if you’ve wanted to learn to play a new instr [...]
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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 17 March 2020

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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 17 March 2020
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4 Things We Know So Far About the Coronavirus Tax Extension

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4 Things We Know So Far About the Coronavirus Tax Extension
If you owe taxes for 2019, you just got an extra 90 days to pay up as part of the federal government’s coronavirus relief efforts. Most taxpayers who owe the IRS will now have until July 15 to make their payments, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a press conference Tuesday. During the 90-day window, taxpayers won’t be charged interest or penalties for what they owe from last year. Wondering if you’ll qualify for the extended timeline? You probably will, as the extension applies to individuals who owe up to $1 million and corporations that owe up to $10 million. 4 Things to Know About the 2020 Tax Extension The IRS hasn’t released the full details of the extension, but we’ll update this post as more information becomes available. Here are a few things to keep in mind, though, if you haven’t filed your return. 1. You Still Need to File a Return by April 15 Sorry, procrastinators: Mnuchin only announced an extension to pay your tax bill, but didn’t announce any change to the filing deadline.  So for now, plan on filing your return by April 15, as you would have in a normal (read: pre-coronavirus) year. The July 15 extension will only come into play if you owe money. You can also ask for an extension for filing your return on April 15 — just as you would during any other year — which would allow you to move your filing deadline to Oct. 15. Just know that your taxes will still be due on July 15; they’d normally be due on April 15, even if you filed for the six-month extension. 2. The IRS Is Still Processing Refunds as Usual The average tax refund is $3,012 for 2020, according to the latest IRS stats, and despite coronavirus, refunds are still being processed. So if you’re getting a refund, go ahead and file that tax return, particularly if you’re worried about losing your job or a significant chunk of income. Pro Tip It takes more time to get your refund the longer you wait. That means that if you’re anticipating a refund and you expect you’ll need cash soon, you should file ASAP. 3. Your State Income Taxes Could Be Due Sooner If you live in one of the 43 states with its own income taxes, you’ll need to check with your state about its deadline, because the 90-day extension applies to federal taxes only. Check out the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ list of state tax deadlines for the latest information. 4. If You Can’t Afford to Pay in July, You’ll Still Need to File The idea of owing the IRS when you can’t afford to pay may send shivers down your spine, but the situation probably isn’t as bad as you think. If you file your return on time but can’t make the payment, you’ll owe 0.5% per month of your unpaid taxes, up to 25% of what you owe. But if you don’t file a return? The penalty increases 5% per month, up to 25% of the unpaid bill. Should You Take Advantage of the 90-Day Extension? If you can’t afford your tax bill and you’re worried about your job or paying bills as coronavirus havoc continues, it absolutely makes sense to keep the cash in your pocket for as long as possible.  If you’re still experiencing hardship come July, it might even make sense not to pay the full amount you owe and work out a payment plan with the IRS instead. Think about it: If you’re hit with a 0.5% a month penalty, that amounts to 6% per year. That’s a lot less than what you’d likely pay in interest for a credit card or loan. But if paying your tax bill now won’t put your finances in jeopardy, you might as well pay up. Coronavirus or not, if you owe money, the IRS will never forget. Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder.   This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Niche Fintech Could Catch The Coronavirus Bug

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Niche Fintech Could Catch The Coronavirus Bug
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CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee to Meet on March 24

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CFTC’s Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee to Meet on March 24
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC) announced that it will hold a public meeting at 9:30 a.m. on March 24 at the CFTC’s headquarters in Washington, DC. At the meeting, the EEMAC will consider the CFTC’s proposed rule regarding the establishment of position limits for derivatives contracts that provide for physical delivery. Specifically, the EEMAC will examine the proposed position limits for spot months, single month, and all-months-combined and the proposed bona fide hedging exemptions from such position limits and related procedures. The CFTC’s Market Intelligence Branch will also make a presentation on recent developments in the energy derivatives marketplace. The meeting is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as via conference call. More information is available here. For more information on the CFTC’s proposed rule regarding Position Limits for Derivatives, please see the January 31, 2020 edition of Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest. [...]
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Time to check US Consumer debt, delinquencies, and refinancing applications

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Time to check US Consumer debt, delinquencies, and refinancing applications
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Your Last Chance for High CD Rates Is Right Now

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Your Last Chance for High CD Rates Is Right Now
The coronavirus pandemic has upended life around the world, threatening peoples’ health and causing countless disruptions to their daily lives. But if you are able to take the time to reassess your savings strategies, a certificate of deposit can be a solid way to grow your funds right now. Savings account rates are dropping and... Spencer Tierney is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: spencer.tierney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd. The article Your Last Chance for High CD Rates Is Right Now originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Coronavirus Hotel Cancellation and Change Policies: Updates

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Coronavirus Hotel Cancellation and Change Policies: Updates
As the COVID-19 virus continues to disrupt travel for the foreseeable future, hotel brands have begun offering flexible change and cancellation policies, similar to those offered by airlines. These policies are evolving and expanding by the day, so make sure to check the hotel brand website for the latest information. Nerd Tip: “Free” change policies... Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif. The article Coronavirus Hotel Cancellation and Change Policies: Updates originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 10 March 2020

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XBRL news for Week Ending Tuesday 10 March 2020
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How the Coronavirus Is Changing the Gig Economy

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How the Coronavirus Is Changing the Gig Economy
The new coronavirus is shaking things up in the gig economy. Gig companies and their workers are reacting to the spread of COVID-19 in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for employers and businesses, which recommend workers stay home when they’re sick or work from home if the company’s tech infrastructure permits. Due to being classified as independent contractors, gig workers typically don’t receive benefits – including sick leave. And because of the very nature of gig services, they can’t simply bring their work home. Over the past week, some well-known gig companies have announced changes to their policies and app features that are aimed at curbing the spread of illnesses — with some companies announcing paid leave under certain conditions. Here’s what’s changing. Delivery Gigs Delivery orders are surging nationwide. Grocery delivery company Instacart has seen a 10-fold increase in recent orders and 20-fold increases in California and Washington, Reuters reported. The company announced a “Leave it at my door” feature to limit interactions between the customer and delivery worker. Postmates and Doordash followed suit. “We know there are always people who, for health and other reasons, might prefer a non-contact delivery experience and we believe this will provide customers with that option,” Postmates said in an announcement of the feature. The bills don’t stop just because you’re ill. Here are six ways to make quick money if you need to take unpaid sick leave. The contactless delivery features are also appealing to some health-conscious ride-share drivers who would rather avoid having customers in their vehicle. For Uber drivers, the transition to food-delivery gigs is pretty seamless. Once workers are approved for the ride-sharing service, they’re eligible to start taking orders on Uber Eats using the same driver app. But there are also unforeseen hiccups. In advice groups on Facebook and Reddit, grocery delivery drivers have been venting frustrations about item shortages at grocery stores, saying that many customers’ orders include items that are out of stock. Freelance Gigs For freelancers, who are best suited for remote work, not a whole lot is changing. Projects may even increase in the short term. Several staffing agencies and freelance platforms, including TopTal and Outsize, told Forbes that freelance business is up. To stay productive, traditional businesses may turn to freelancers as they implement remote work policies and accommodate higher rates of sick leave. Pro Tip Uninsured or underinsured? Try one of these affordable health care options for freelancers (gig workers, too). Professional freelancers are also better in control of their workload and earnings than typical gig workers, and may have better luck negotiating deadlines if they fall ill. But they still don’t get paid sick days and have to foot medical costs themselves. Freelance photographers, however, are particularly vulnerable since the job often requires field work. How many freelance photographers have lost jobs due to the coronavirus? — Kacy Burdette (@KacyBurdette) March 9, 2020 Kacy Burdette, photo editor of Adweek, tweeted to her freelance photography followers, asking how the coronavirus is affecting their gigs. Scores of freelancers replied, reporting lost or delayed contracts – especially international- and event-related gigs – due to travel restrictions and cancelations of major conferences and festivals like SXSW. Ride-Share Gigs Ride-share apps and workers are perhaps most affected by recent developments with the coronavirus. Uber and Lyft encouraged their drivers and passengers to stay home if they contract the coronavirus, a potentially unworkable solution for drivers who can’t afford to go without a week or more of wages. Then, in an unprecedented development among gig companies, both ride-share providers announced that they will offer paid sick leave for quarantined or infected gig workers. “Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold,” Uber said in an announcement. Doordash announced a similar policy shortly afterward. In all three cases, drivers’ accounts are suspended until they recover. Several drivers told The Penny Hoarder they are concerned that the changes in people’s traveling habits will impact their earnings. Drivers who rely on airport fares seem disproportionately affected. Other drivers decried the cancellation of large events, which are usually ripe for picking up fares and increasing their earnings through surge pricing. Many colleges and universities are implementing online classes for the remainder of the semester, further impacting drivers’ income. “Here in New Orleans the mayor just cancelled all events this weekend,” ride-share driver June Erie said. “Drivers are worried about [the cancellation of] even bigger events coming up” such as French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest. A fearless variety of ride-share drivers see the pandemic as an opportunity to earn more money, as some competing drivers in their area may decide to stay home. Some say the hype is to blame.  “No issues. No fear either. I’m just working as normal,” said Illinois-based ride-share driver Kristin Eiswert. Other drivers are fearful and keep driving nonetheless. Reports and videos depicting drivers in makeshift hazmat suits and bubble-like contraptions that separate them from their passengers are flooding ride-share advice groups. New York Lyft driver seals himself in airtight bubble to protect himself from the Coronavirus https://t.co/oIgHDVA3sa — Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) March 10, 2020 While most drivers share such photos for comic relief, the phenomenon seems to highlight a unique sense of unease for gig workers.  It’s true that the coronavirus may not directly impact their health. The effects on their bottom line are another story. Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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CFTC Designates Small Exchange, Inc. as a Designated Contract Market

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CFTC Designates Small Exchange, Inc. as a Designated Contract Market
On March 10, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it had issued an Order of Designation approving the application of the Small Exchange, Inc. (Small Exchange) for designation as a contract market (DCM). As required under Section 5 of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC Regulation 38.3(a), the CFTC issued the order after finding that the Small Exchange had demonstrated its ability to comply with the provisions of the CEA and CFTC Regulations applicable to DCMs. The CFTC press release is available here. A full copy of the Order of Designation is available here. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 13 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 13 March 2020
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4 Steps You Must Take Now to Financially Prepare for the Coronavirus

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4 Steps You Must Take Now to Financially Prepare for the Coronavirus
It’s official: The World Health Organization has officially declared the current coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. That doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. That’s neither necessary nor advisable. But a little planning now will really pay off if things take a turn for the worse later. There’s plenty of information circulating about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus... [...]
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Does My Travel Insurance Cover the Coronavirus?

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Does My Travel Insurance Cover the Coronavirus?
If you’ve got some travel planned soon and you’re considering rescheduling because of the novel coronavirus, you might think that your travel insurance will cover you. So will it? As with many things in life, the short answer is “it depends.” And the long answer is that it truly depends on what type of coverage... Jon Nickel-D'Andrea is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article Does My Travel Insurance Cover the Coronavirus? originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score? Get the Facts

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Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score? Get the Facts
Debt consolidation is usually billed as a smart financial move, because it can boost your credit score and save you money. But a few mistakes could actually hurt your credit or cost you more money in the long run. Here’s what to keep in mind when deciding whether to consolidate your debt and how to choose the best way to do it. How Does Debt Consolidation Work? Debt consolidation usually means taking out a loan to pay off existing debts, most commonly credit card debt. These are technically personal loans that lenders often market as “debt consolidation loans,” which isn’t inaccurate; it’s just their way of letting you know how they can help you. You’ll take out the loan, receive the funds and use them to pay off your credit card balances. Then you’ll repay the loan over time like any other loan. You could also consolidate with a balance-transfer credit card or other kind of loan, such as a retirement account loan or home equity loan. However, personal loans typically have the advantage of lower interest rates and no collateral requirement. People with a lot of high-interest debt tend to look to consolidation because it simplifies repayment, and could reduce the cost of the debt through lower monthly payments, a lower interest rate or both. Pros of Debt Consolidation Replace a bunch of monthly payments with just one. Potentially get a lower interest rate. Potentially owe less each month. Boost your credit score — we’ll talk about how below. Cons of Debt Consolidation The debt might cost you more over time. Some mistakes could hurt your credit score — we’ll talk about what to avoid below. You’ll owe one large monthly payment, instead of several spread over the month. Your payment could be larger than minimum credit card payments. You might pay fees upfront or over time. Alternatives to Debt Consolidation  You might come across companies offering one of several ways to fix your debt. They’ll each have a different effect on your credit score and apply to different situations: Consolidation refers to “combining” several debts into one. A single loan or credit card pays off the balance on several others, so you’re left with just the one line of debt. Consolidate debt when you want to streamline repayment of several debts. Refinancing works like consolidation, but the term usually refers to paying off a single debt. You pay off one loan balance with a new loan that gives you a better interest rate and repayment terms. Refinance your debt if your credit and finances have improved since you first borrowed. Debt relief is an umbrella term that includes consolidation and refinancing, and it often includes some amount of debt forgiveness. The term is often used by companies that facilitate debt consolidation or a “debt management plan” — you’re generally best off doing a little research and managing the debt on your own. Settlement is when you agree with a creditor on a reduced repayment amount that it’ll consider payment in full. This will show up on your credit report and could have a negative impact for several years, but will help you pay off the debt faster. Restructuring is more common for companies than individuals and usually happens in dire situations. The effect is similar to refinancing, but it involves reorganizing the existing debt rather than replacing it with a new one. Do You Need Good Credit to Consolidate Debt? You don’t necessarily need a high credit score to take out a loan for debt consolidation, but better credit gives you a better chance at a low interest rate and favorable terms. Watch out for predatory lenders if you have a low credit score; some unscrupulous companies are willing to give you a loan you can’t afford with a super high interest rate. A loan you can’t afford to repay could put you in a worse situation than you are with credit card debt. Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score? Consolidating debt could help your credit score in two major ways: Lower your credit utilization: The amount of available credit you use weighs heavily into your score. A bunch of maxed-out credit cards looks bad. Consolidation pays off those balances and reduces your utilization. A positive line on your credit report: The loan is a way to demonstrate your creditworthiness as long as you stay current on payments. Consolidation itself doesn’t leave a negative mark on your credit report, like debt settlement does. But the loan (or credit card) shows up as a new credit line, which could temporarily lower your score. FROM THE CREDIT FORUM Payoff Focus 2/24/20 @ 3:22 PM Credit Score impact for paying off an auto loan ? 2/25/20 @ 7:43 PM BUILDING CREDIT FINANCING A PHONE 1/12/20 @ 4:41 PM Build credit 2/16/20 @ 10:50 PM B See more in Credit or ask a money question How to Consolidate Credit Card Debt Without Hurting Your Credit A few common debt consolidation mistakes could hurt your credit score or cost you money. Here are a few tips to make the right decision for your situation. Don’t Close the Paid Accounts After you pay off credit cards, don’t close every account. Having them on your credit report affects these factors that make up your credit score: Age of credit history: Creditors want to see you’ve been around the block with credit. When you close old cards, your average credit history gets shorter. Credit mix: This is the variety of types of debt you have — installment loan versus credit card versus mortgage, for example. It has a small but significant effect on your credit score. Utilization: More cards open means more available credit. Cut up your cards to avoid growing that balance again, and that unused credit will keep your utilization ratio low. Keep up With Payments Your credit card consolidation loan or balance-transfer credit card is still debt with monthly payments you have to keep up with. Budget before you take out the loan so you know you can afford the monthly payment. Staying on top of the payments should help your credit score over time — but getting behind will hurt. If you opt for a balance-transfer card — which usually comes with an introductory 0% APR for about a year — plan to pay the debt off during the introductory period. Any longer, and you’ll probably face a high interest rate and annual fees. Compare Consolidation Options Shop around before committing to any debt consolidation option. Consider what kind of consolidation — personal loan, balance-transfer card or secured loan — works best for you based on your budget, existing debt and creditworthiness. Online loan marketplaces can help you quickly see and compare personal loan offers from lenders side by side. To evaluate a debt consolidation loan, consider: Interest rate: Aim for an interest rate that’s lower than the combined rate on your existing debt. A loan with a higher rate could still give you the relief of a lower monthly payment and fewer creditors, but it will cost you more money. Monthly payment: Reorganizing your debt to land a smaller monthly payment could outweigh the long-term savings you’d get with a shorter repayment term or lower interest. A smaller bill could make the difference between paying on time or not, which has a major impact on your cre [...]
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USDA Home Loans: What They Are and How to Apply for One

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USDA Home Loans: What They Are and How to Apply for One
You want to own your own home. It’s part of the American dream, right?  But saving up that magical 20% for a down payment seems impossible. Even 10% would take years. All you want is a nice, affordable house in the suburbs, or even out in the country. You might be in luck, thanks to a little-known mortgage program. If you qualify, it could help you buy your dream home with a $0 down payment. What’s a USDA Home Loan? The USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture, and one of its main purposes is to support rural development. The USDA home loan program is one of the ways the agency accomplishes that. Pro Tip The program’s full name is a USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan. You may also see it referred to as a Section 502 loan.  USDA home loans offer qualified borrowers a chance to purchase a home with no money down, mortgage rates that are below the market average, and even reduced mortgage insurance premiums.  The program is designed to help people with average or even below-average income buy their own homes, so don’t let that “qualified borrowers” part scare you away. USDA home loans are made to help those who need them, so a less-than-perfect credit score and lower income may be enough to qualify you. Who Qualifies for a USDA Home Loan? Like most loan programs, there are some eligibility requirements. Here are the basic qualifications for a USDA home loan: U.S. citizenship or permanent residency The ability to prove creditworthiness, typically with a credit score of at least 640 Stable and dependable income The ability and willingness to repay the mortgage – generally 12 months of no late payments or collections Adjusted household income is equal to or less than 115% of the area median income The property has to serve as the primary residence and should be located in a qualified rural area, which is defined as an area with a population under 10,000 (or certain areas with fewer than 20,000 people who are underserved with mortgage credit for low to moderate-income families). See if your area qualifies.  There may be exceptions to some of these qualifications based on the standards of individual lenders.  “The main limits are on location and income,” said Miguel Morales, a loan officer with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. “There are also rules for debt to income ratio and minimum credit scores. Most lenders need a 640. My company allows a 620 if we get automated approval and meet all approval criteria.” The income requirements are pretty straightforward. You probably qualify if you earn less than $86,850 for a household of up to 4 people, or less than $114,650 for a household of 5-8 people. The USDA has an income eligibility calculator you can use to determine if you could qualify for a USDA home loan. What Do You Need To Know About USDA Home Loans? If you qualify for a USDA home loan, you should get great mortgage rates and you won’t need a down payment. However, you still need to be ready to cover some basic costs of the loan. “The main benefit is that [the loan] does not require a down payment, but it does have closing costs,” Morales said. “The seller can often help pay some or all of the closing costs in a purchase scenario. A buyer can get into a home with little money as long as they meet the criteria. They will need funds for the earnest money deposit, appraisal and any home inspections, at the very least.” An earnest money deposit is basically a “good faith” deposit made to the seller. The deposit, which can be between 1% to 10% of the mortgage, is held in escrow until closing, at which point it’s put towards the down payment.  The average cost of an appraisal for a single-family home runs between $300 and $400, according to HomeGuide.  The cost of a home inspection typically ranges from $280 to $390. These loans also carry a 1% fee, which is paid at closing.  So if you’re looking at a rural home with a cost of $150,000, you may still need to have $1,500 or more for the earnest money deposit and another $650 or so for the appraisal and inspection. Then you’ll need $1,500 for the USDA fee. That’s $3,650. That’s still a lot less than a 20% down payment of $30K, right? Another thing to consider is that buying a home with a USDA home loan could be a slower process than your typical home-buying experience. “It can take a little longer to process a USDA loan since the USDA has to approve the loan after the lender has completed their final approval, which would include appraisal review and final underwriting,” Morales said. “So instead of closing a loan in 30 days, it may take 45 days or so to close a USDA loan.”  If you decide to pursue a USDA home loan, be aware that not every bank or mortgage company handles USDA Home Loans. To find one near you, check out the USDA’s list of approved lenders.  The USDA home loan program is targeted to a rather specific set of home buyers. If you’re looking to purchase a home in a rural or suburban area, make less-than-average income, and have decent credit, it could be perfect for you.  Tyler Omoth is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 6 March 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 6 March 2020
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Coronavirus Travel Guide: Choose Your Own (Re)Booking Adventure

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Coronavirus Travel Guide: Choose Your Own (Re)Booking Adventure
You pick up the phone, dial the customer service number and ask to speak to a representative. You get put on hold for two hours. Welcome to the world of coronavirus travel. The now-global outbreak has upended the travel industry (airlines are already projected to lose $63 billion to $113 billion in 2020, according to... Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif. The article Coronavirus Travel Guide: Choose Your Own (Re)Booking Adventure originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How to Change/Cancel Existing Bookings Due to Coronavirus

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How to Change/Cancel Existing Bookings Due to Coronavirus
The outbreak of COVID-19 illness caused by a novel coronavirus has continued to grow, with seemingly new cases and travel advisories popping up on a regular basis. Companies have canceled employee travel plans, and the Summer Olympics in Tokyo could possibly be postponed to later in 2020. Given the uncertainty surrounding the potential pandemic, airlines,... Elina Geller is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: egeller@nerdwallet.com. The article How to Change/Cancel Existing Bookings Due to Coronavirus originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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How to Trade in a Car With Negative Equity

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How to Trade in a Car With Negative Equity
When you walked into the dealership, you fell in love with your current car. It was so shiny and new.  Five years later, you’ve fallen out of love with your gas-guzzler with the thread-bare tires and are wondering if you could just trade it in for the next beauty. Then you remember you still owe on your current hunk of junk. And that to get monthly payments low enough for you to afford that car, you jumped at the six-year (or seven-year… or eight-year) term the dealer offered. You’re not the first person to fall for a set of wheels that’s beyond reach, especially as car loans have continued to climb. The average loan amount for a passenger vehicle set a new record high in the first quarter of 2019 at $32,187, with average monthly payments ballooning to $554, according to Experian. To offset these costs, more people are lengthening their loan terms to lower their monthly payments. New car loan terms between 85 and 96 months (that’s seven- to eight-year car loans) increased 38% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2018.  Then consider that new cars lose 20% of the value the moment you drive them off the lot and depreciation accounts for more than a third of the average annual cost to own a car, according to AAA. All of those factors combine to create the scenario where you owe more than your car is worth, which means you have negative equity in your loan — aka, your car loan is upside down or underwater.  Unfortunately, there’s not much use staring in the rearview mirror at this point about what you should have done with your old car’s loan, but you still have options to recover — it’s just a matter of making smart financial decisions. What to Do If You Have an Upside Down Car Loan Before we get ahead of ourselves, are you sure your vehicle is worth less than what you owe? Let’s run the numbers. How to Calculate Your Car’s Equity Here’s how to calculate the equity in your vehicle: Value of your vehicle – loan payoff amount = equity You can find out how much your vehicle is worth by checking National Automobile Dealers Association’s Guide, Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book.  Pro Tip Each of the price guide websites may vary in the estimate for your car’s value, so check with all three and then use the average number for the value of your vehicle. When figuring out how much you owe on the loan, use the loan payoff amount and not the principal, as the payoff amount may include things like fees and taxes you still owe on.  So if your car’s value was $18,000 and your loan payoff was $15,000, you’d have $3,000 in positive equity. Yay! If you want to trade in your car for a newer one, the dealer should apply that $3,000 toward your down payment, thus reducing the overall amount you pay for your next car. Congrats! However, if your car’s value was $18,000 and your loan payoff amount was $20,000, you’d have $2,000 in negative equity — you owe more on your car than it’s worth. Sorry.  But that’s why we’re here, so let’s look at your options and get you on the fast track to financial freedom. How to Trade in a Car With Negative Equity Stuck with an underwater car loan on a vehicle that you need to unload? Then let’s start with the worst idea and work our way up.  1. Roll Over the Amount You Owe Into a New Auto Loan If you’ve heard or seen any dealership ads that promise to pay off your loan and put you into a new car, you may be thinking what a great idea it is. Well… “This is a terrible idea, but it’s an option, and a lot of people take it because it seems easy, but it makes things worse,” said Todd Christensen, AFC and Education Manager at moneyfit.org. “It makes it even harder to get out of debt.” Pro Tip If you get in an accident and the car is totaled, the insurance company will pay for the value of the car, not how much you owe on it. Consider buying gap insurance to cover the difference. That whole promise to pay off your loan isn’t exactly accurate, according to the FTC — the dealership will pay the bank to satisfy what you owe, but they’ll add that amount to your next loan or subtract it from your down payment.  And maybe they’ll tack on a fee, just for good measure.  And because the dealer had to finance the remainder of your old loan plus the new one because you couldn’t pay off the first — thus making the new loan riskier — you can also expect to pay a higher interest rate. And adding your negative equity to your new loan amount probably puts you underwater on the next car loan as soon as you sign the papers. So the vicious cycle continues. It all adds up to a bad idea. But if this is your only option, Chistensen did suggest ways you could minimize your next loan: Downsize to a cheaper car. If you’re currently paying for a half-ton pickup and can rollover your loan into a midsize sedan, you could be looking at a smaller payment even after adding the underwater debt amount into the new loan. Also, skip the premium package. Apply for a shorter loan term. You’ll pay more per month, but if you agree to a five-year loan instead of taking the seven-year term, you’ll pay less in interest in the long run and it helps reduce the chances you’ll end up with another underwater loan. Look for cash-back offers on the next car. If the rebate is large enough, you might be able to use it to pay off the negative equity on your old loan. Get a loan preapproval. Shopping around for a preapproved auto loan for your new loan potentially helps you snag a lower interest rate than the one a dealership would offer. None of these options will absolutely prevent you from starting out underwater on your next car loan, but they can help reduce the time you’ll spend climbing out of the hole. 2. Roll Over Your Loan Into a Lease Although leasing a car means you won’t own the vehicle, you can benefit from the fact that you don’t have to keep paying down negative equity when you reach the end of the lease term. “I rarely recommend leasing a vehicle, but this would often be a better idea than rolling over your negative equity into your next car loan,” Christensen said. “It makes their lease payments larger — that’s obviously a negative — but on the positive side, they don’t have to worry about being underwater with a lease.” 3. Pay Down the Negative Equity Paying down the negative equity on the car as quickly as you can is better than the first two options because you’re actually helping yourself get out of debt financially instead of just passing it through to your next payment.  If you have the cash to pay off the negative equity, that’s an obvious choice, but you can also consider picking up a side job or temporarily cutting personal expenses — you could even get paid to drive your car and let the old hunk of junk earn its keep.  Use every extra dollar you make to pay down the debt and get your car loan back above water before you trade it in for the next vehicle. FROM THE DEBT FORUM Debt consolidation help in Canada 2/27/20 @ 1:10 PM Emergency debt 1/30/20 @ 10:14 AM The Snowball Method for Paying Off Debt 1/11/19 @ 7:58 AM I Need Debt Consolidation Knowledge 2/18/20 @ 1:16 AM See more in Debt or ask a money question [...]
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Concerned About Coronavirus? How to Prepare Your House, Mind and Bank Account

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Concerned About Coronavirus? How to Prepare Your House, Mind and Bank Account
Coronavirus. It’s all over the news. It’s trending on Twitter. It’s on your TV. And it’s dominating the push alerts on your phone. Coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China. Cases have now been detected in at least 50 locations internationally,... Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd. The article Concerned About Coronavirus? How to Prepare Your House, Mind and Bank Account originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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`Before me, everything was done manually` says the `Blockchain` Figure muppet

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`Before me, everything was done manually` says the `Blockchain` Figure muppet
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Wells Fargo Review: Big Sign-up Bonuses Come With High Fees

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Wells Fargo Review: Big Sign-up Bonuses Come With High Fees
Wells Fargo is a Big Four bank that made big headlines back in 2016 and 2017 over a scandal where employees created millions of fake accounts to hit their sales targets. But it’s up to you to decide whether you should or shouldn’t trust Wells Fargo with your money. We’re here to give you an honest look at the bank’s checking and savings features for individuals and small businesses, as well as its overall convenience and mobile banking features in this Wells Fargo review. Wells Fargo Review: Pros and Cons What we like: The monthly service fees for Wells Fargo’s basic checking and savings accounts are easily waived. The Automatic Refund feature is free and will reverse some overdraft fees. Low-fee checking and savings options for small businesses. Wells Fargo is currently offering a $400 bonus to new customers who open a checking account and set up at least $4,000 of monthly direct deposits for three consecutive months. What we don’t like: The APY on savings accounts is well below the national average. Not for habitual overdrafters: The standard overdraft fee is $35, and overdraft protection costs $12.50 per transfer. The trust factor: Remember that whole fake account scandal? Checking  Grade: C Wells Fargo’s most popular checking option, the Everyday Checking account, has a pretty standard minimum opening deposit of $25. It has a $10 monthly service fee, but Wells Fargo will waive it if you meet one of the following conditions: You have 10 or more debit transactions. Have $500 or more in direct deposits. Maintain a daily balance of $1,500 or more. Are between the ages of 17 and 24. The money you keep in the Everyday Checking account won’t earn you interest, but if you opt for the Preferred Checking account, you’ll earn a minuscule 0.01% APY if you maintain a balance of at least $500. Wells Fargo’s overdraft fees are a steep $35, with a limit of three per day. Overdraft protection is available if you have a linked Wells Fargo savings account or credit card — but the transfer to cover your overdraft will cost you a hefty $12.50. However, we do like the Automatic Refund feature, which will waive some overdraft fees if Wells Fargo receives an automatic transfer that covers at least the amount you overdrafted by before 9 a.m. the following business day. This feature is free and is automatically applied to all checking accounts. Wells Fargo is known for pretty sweet bonus offers for new customers: If you’re a new customer and you open a checking account, you’ll receive a $400 bonus if you set up and receive at least $4,000 in monthly direct deposits for three consecutive months. The offer is good through July 31, 2020. Savings Grade: C Wells Fargo’s basic savings account, the Way2Save Account, also has a $25 minimum opening deposit. There’s a $5 monthly service fee that’s waived if: You maintain a daily balance of at least $300. You set up at least one automatic transfer. You’re under 18. We’re also fans of the optional Save As You Go program, which transfers $1 into your savings account for each non-recurring debit purchase and automatic online bill pay transaction. But the Way2Save Account isn’t exactly a way to earn interest, as your balance will earn just 0.01% APY, which is well below the national average. The Platinum Savings Account has a standard APY of 0.05%, still below average, and requires a minimum balance of $3,500 to avoid the $12 a month service fee. Wells Fargo’s standard CDs require a deposit of at least $2,500, and APYs are also below average. To see Wells Fargo’s CD rates near you, click here. Small Business Banking Grade: B+ We think Wells Fargo is one of the best banks for small businesses in general. What we like its small business checking and savings account offerings because of their low fees. The Simple Business Checking Account has a $25 minimum opening deposit. There’s a $10 a month service fee that’s waived with an average balance of $500. You’ll also get 50 free transactions and $3,000 worth of free cash deposits each month. The Business Market Rate Savings Account also requires just $25 to open. It has a $6 a month service fee that’s waived with an average balance of $500. The account comes with 20 free check deposits and $5,000 worth of free cash deposits per month. Convenience Grade: A Wells Fargo is hard to beat on convenience, with more than 5,400 branches and 13,000 ATMs in the U.S. There’s also 24/7 customer service. Of course, like most big banks, Wells Fargo offers a lot of digital features (more on these in a minute) like mobile deposit and text banking that make it less important to be able to visit a physical location or interact with an actual human. While this Wells Fargo review is limited to its checking and savings options, it’s a convenient place to bank if you want a full suite of financial products, like credit cards, mortgages, car loans and investment accounts, all under the same roof. Mobile Banking Grade: A Customers give the Wells Fargo Mobile app solid reviews. It gets 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store and 4.6 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store. We also like the Control Tower option that lets you easily turn your card off if you’ve misplaced it. There’s also a cool cardless ATM option that allows you to access cash using your mobile phone — no debit card required. The app has several neat financial management tools that let you track your spending in real time, create a budget and make a savings plan. Granted, there are tons of other budgeting apps that do the same things, but it’s nice to have these features rolled into your banking app. Our Bank Review Methodology The Penny Hoarder’s editorial team considers more than 25 factors in its bank account reviews, including fees, minimum daily balance requirements, APYs, overdraft charges, ATM access, number of physical locations, customer service support access and mobile features.  To determine how we weigh each factor, The Penny Hoarder surveyed 1,500 people to find out what banking features matter most to you.  For example, we give top grades to banks that have low fees because our survey showed that this is the No. 1 thing you look for in a bank. Because more than 70% of you said you visited a physical bank branch last year, we consider the number of brick-and-mortar locations. But more than one-third of you use mobile apps for more than 75% of your banking, so digital features are also considered carefully. Banks are graded across the following categories: Personal checking accounts Personal savings accounts Small-business banking Convenience Mobile banking Credit card and loan products are not currently considered. Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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SEC Proposes to Modernize Infrastructure for NMS Securities Market Data

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SEC Proposes to Modernize Infrastructure for NMS Securities Market Data
On February 14, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed to modernize the infrastructure for the collection, consolidation and dissemination of market data for exchange-listed national market system (NMS) securities, including by expanding the content of included NMS market data and introducing a decentralized consolidation model with competing data consolidators. The rules that govern the content and dissemination of NMS market data have not be updated since the 1970s. The proposal will be published on SEC.gov and in the Federal Register. There will be a 60-day comment period following publication. More information from the SEC is available here. [...]
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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 21 February 2020

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Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 21 February 2020
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How to Become a Graphic Designer: Here's What It Takes

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How to Become a Graphic Designer: Here's What It Takes
A picture is worth a thousand words — and maybe just as many dollars. Graphic designers work in a competitive but exhilarating and fulfilling field in which they combine their passion for art and love of technology to create compelling design work for logos, websites, flyers, brochures, infographics and more. If you have been a lifelong artist and are looking for a way to apply your talents in your career, consider finding out how to become a graphic designer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for graphic designers is $50,370, plus the benefits that come with working in a typical office role (paid vacations, paid holidays, sick leave, health insurance, etc.). What can make graphic design an even more lucrative career choice is the flexibility to do freelance work. A common hourly rate for freelance graphic design work is $65 to $150, though as a freelance designer, you can set your own hourly or per-project rates above or below that range. What’s the Day-to-Day Work Like for a Graphic Designer? Parker Myers is a graphic designer at the Nashville, Tennessee, office of market-research firm Forrester Research, headquartered near Boston.  Myers told me in 2018 that he spends his days using software like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft PowerPoint to build presentation graphics, interactive tools for websites, infographics and similar materials. He also keeps an ongoing dialogue within his organization regarding branding (fonts, colors, etc.). Aside from the actual graphic-design work, Myers’ role involves a lot of collaborative conversations with clients and the employees who interact directly with them, who are ultimately responsible for what he designs. But it’s not just the 9-to-5 that consumes Myers’ design skills. “My free time is taken up by freelancing projects and volunteer work as a designer for the church that I go to. Freelancing very much comes in waves. Right now, I’ve got a consistent flow of work, enough that my evenings are really busy. That’s why the full-time work is a great combination with freelancing if you don’t mind spending 90% of your waking time on design stuff.” Skills and Qualities of a Successful Graphic Designer Myers has been in the design field for the past five years, long enough to achieve a fair amount of success. The biggest driver of success is communication or, as Myers calls it, understanding and empathy.  “[You are] constantly putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” he explained — meaning at times, you have to sacrifice your own personal aesthetic to create your client’s vision or to maintain your company’s brand. “The ability to see how others see — being able to get out of your own head — is really important.” Of course, the more obvious skill that a successful designer needs in is what I, someone with no eye for design, would call a talent you are born with: a well-nurtured aesthetic sense. But in the 21st century, that artistic vision must be coupled with a thorough understanding of technology, including programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as web languages; a lot of design work is web-based nowadays. Myers also explained that minimalism is a helpful trait — “stripping down a solution to its core and making sure it functions perfectly, then dressing it up a little. That’s how I try to approach [design].” How to Become a Graphic Designer Graphic designers take varied paths to get where they are — and there’s no “right way.”  1. Consider Education in Graphic Design Myers attended college to become a journalist and realized closer to graduation that he wanted to pursue design. He ended up graduating with a journalism degree with a concentration in design, which is definitely not the most common route. “You can get there without [a degree],” Myers told me, “but if you’ve got the opportunity to go to school and study it, you’ll definitely be better off. School gives you a safe place to earn your wings and work out the kinks.” If you intend to go the full-time route, an associate’s degree at the very least is recommended; coursework will cover the basics of typography, web design and color theory.  The more common and preferred route is a bachelor’s degree. In pursuing your bachelor’s, you will take courses in digital and print production, media management and entrepreneurialism. Some graphic designers even get a master’s degree. 2. Put Together a Portfolio Perhaps just as important as the degree is the portfolio. Develop a portfolio that shows your special skills, your range and your understanding of core competencies.  If you need to build a portfolio and have no professional projects to include, volunteer your talents with a local nonprofit or offer to work for a reduced rate to start-up companies willing to give you a chance. 3. Create as Many Designs as Possible Myers emphasized the importance of doing as much work as possible. “Volume of work is essential to getting better,” he said. “In that sense, I like to think of it like a physical skill, like a jump shot in basketball. The more time you spend in the gym, the better you’ll be. Find ways to create every day. Put in the reps. Create random prompts for yourself. Take on any work you can find: brochures, posters, logos, flyers, programs, whatever. Do it all. Don’t turn down projects. And don’t be afraid to spend a lot of time on every project,” “It’s very hard to fake your way into being good at design. It’s just something that gets sharper and sharper over time..” The Challenges of Being a Graphic Designer Communication can be a graphic designer’s best friend or ultimate downfall. Most of your work as a designer will be in translating someone else’s vision. Talented designers are able to listen and ask the right questions to successfully act on someone else’s ideas. Hand-in-hand with this challenge is another: Sometimes colleagues or clients with no eye for design will push their ideas on you even when they conflict with your expert guidance. Designers must find the fine line between pushing back when novices try to influence the design direction and making clients happy. “Resisting trends is very tough for me,” Myers said. “I get really wrapped up in what everyone else is doing and want to chase it.”  That’s fine now and then, according to Myers, but it’s your own unique methods and stylistic touches that will set you apart from the competition when going in for a job interview or bidding for a client. Interviewing and bidding for work may be the biggest challenge of all; the field is highly competitive. While graphic designers are in large demand, the field is saturated by artists hungry for a challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career field should see only 3% growth between 2018 and 2028 (slower than the national average). If you decide to pursue graphic design, be ready to fight hard to earn work, whether full-time or freelance. FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM Extra money on the side 1/27/20 @ 6:48 PM S Make money from home 2/2/20 @ 5:47 AM Is there Really a way to make MONEY ONLINE? 2/14/20 @ 7:34 PM Earn well with little Money? 2/14/20 @ 8:06 PM [...]
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Flood insurance- where the rising tide has NOT raised all ships

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Flood insurance- where the rising tide has NOT raised all ships
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What’s the Best Use of Your Tax Refund? 8 Smart Ideas

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What’s the Best Use of Your Tax Refund? 8 Smart Ideas
Getting a sizable tax refund can seem like winning the lottery. All at once, you’re a few thousand dollars richer. It can be tempting to blow that cash without thinking, but you’re wiser than that. You know that your tax refund isn’t free money — it’s your money. If you’re unsure of the best use of your tax refund, remember that it’s a portion of the hard-earned cash you worked for throughout the year and consider these eight smart ways to put that money to good use. 1. Build Up Your Emergency Fund Saving cash aside for emergencies gives you peace of mind that you can financially weather a crisis. Unfortunately, many Americans have much less than the recommended amount for an emergency fund. If you have less than three-to-six-months worth of living expenses, funnel some of your tax refund to your emergency fund. Pro Tip Keep your emergency fund savings in a liquid, no-risk account that’s easy to access when you need it. Earn interest with a high-yield savings account or money market account. 2. Pay Down Debt Relieve yourself of some of the pressure weighing down on you from debt. If you’re a fan of the snowball method of debt repayment, put your refund toward one or two of your smaller debt balances. Once they’re paid off, work on your next largest debt.  If you’re more of a debt avalanche fan, use your tax refund to pay down a larger balance that has the highest interest rate. Even if you don’t pay it off completely, reducing the balance means you’ll pay less in interest. 3. Contribute More to Your Retirement Funds Hopefully you’re already contributing to a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA), but are you maxing out your contributions? The 2020 401(k) contribution limits are $19,500 for individuals younger than 50 or $26,000 for those 50 and up. This year, you can contribute up to $6,000 in an IRA if you’re younger than 50 or up to $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. The more you add to your retirement accounts, the greater your money can potentially grow. Even if you can’t afford to increase the percentage of your paycheck that goes to retirement each month, you can use your tax refund to make a one-time, lump-sum contribution. 4. Save for a Big Bill Think about what big expenses you have coming up on the horizon that you haven’t budgeted for — like your auto insurance premiums or getting braces for your teen. If your monthly income can’t support such an expense in addition to all your regular bills and obligations, using your tax refund is a smart choice in lieu of dipping into your emergency fund or turning to credit cards. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM Changing my eating habits is changing my finances 1/8/20 @ 2:56 PM Family Budgeting Strategy for Youth 2/10/20 @ 4:42 PM K Pay all bills on one day or spread throughout the month?? 2/6/20 @ 5:59 AM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question 5. Fill Out Your Sinking Funds You’re probably juggling multiple savings goals. Maybe you’re trying to stack cash for a cross-country move while saving for a wedding. Or you’re saving to welcome a new baby into the family while putting money aside for your older kid’s birthday party and concurrently saving for a down payment on a minivan. Each sinking fund — which is just a personal finance term for a pool of money you add to over time to break up a large expense — could probably use an influx of cash. Distribute a portion of your refund money to each savings goal — or funnel it all toward your most pressing need. 6. Invest in Yourself Sometimes it takes money to make money. Is there a certification program you can take or a piece of tech equipment you need to enhance your career and help you get a better-paying position?  Or perhaps you have a business idea you’ve been wanting to get off the ground but just needed some initial capital. Invest your tax money in something that’ll help you generate more income. 7. Save for Your Kids’ College Education College is a big-ticket expense for most parents. Even with scholarships and financial aid, families can expect to have significant out-of-pocket costs. Get in the habit of putting your tax refund toward saving for college to help offset your child’s looming tuition bill. A 529 college savings plan is a common option to store your funds. Pro Tip If your kid is still in diapers, it may seem more practical to put your extra money toward more immediate expenses, like the cost of daycare. There’s always time to save for college later. 8. Make Home Improvements Home upgrades can be expensive, but they can also increase the value of your home when it’s time to sell. If your roof is due for replacement, you’ve got major appliances that are decades old or you simply want to give your kitchen a facelift, tap into your tax refund to take care of those home improvement projects. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Small Business Fintech is levelling the playing field with big business over cost of capital

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Small Business Fintech is levelling the playing field with big business over cost of capital
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FINRA Requests Comments on Proposed Amendments to CAB Rules

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FINRA Requests Comments on Proposed Amendments to CAB Rules
On January 14, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued Regulatory Notice 20-03 announcing that it had concluded its retrospective review of Rule 5250 (Payments for Market Making), which generally prohibits members from receiving payments for market making. Based on the review, FINRA has elected to maintain the rule without change. Regulatory Notice 20-03 is available here. [...]
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Bitcoin price surges. Is Coronavirus behind it?

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Bitcoin price surges. Is Coronavirus behind it?
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5 Cellphone Plans That Come With Free Streaming TV

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5 Cellphone Plans That Come With Free Streaming TV
This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com. All major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile now offer incredibly competitive unlimited data plans. In their effort to win your business, these carriers (and some smaller mobile companies) are now offering streaming service as a free perk for signing up for one of their unlimited plans. So, if you’re in the market for an... [...]
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Australian Fintech Assembly Payments Lands JV with Standard Chartered Bank

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Australian Fintech Assembly Payments Lands JV with Standard Chartered Bank
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Speaking of Blockchain, what of its place in insurance?

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Speaking of Blockchain, what of its place in insurance?
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50 Diverse Takeaways from Davos WEF2020

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50 Diverse Takeaways from Davos WEF2020
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Nimbla To Take Invoice Insurance Mainstream With Barclays Deal

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Nimbla To Take Invoice Insurance Mainstream With Barclays Deal
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Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020

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Security Token news for Week ending 24 January 2020
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Australia’s Open Banking Dream Drifts Away

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Australia’s Open Banking Dream Drifts Away
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What Walmart’s Switch to Capital One Means for Your Credit

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What Walmart’s Switch to Capital One Means for Your Credit
On Oct. 11, 2019, Walmart’s massive credit card portfolio is due to transition from Synchrony to Capital One. And for existing Walmart cardholders, this major switch raises a big question: Will changing issuers affect my credit? The short answer: Probably not, because of credit reporting conventions that issuers follow. “A transition of account ownership does not... Claire Tsosie is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7. The article What Walmart’s Switch to Capital One Means for Your Credit originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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Survey: Lack of Financial Literacy Means Lower Incomes, Less Savings

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Survey: Lack of Financial Literacy Means Lower Incomes, Less Savings
Almost one quarter of Americans have no savings and even more — 40% — don’t keep a budget. One driving factor: a lack of financial literacy in the U.S., according to a survey by The Penny Hoarder. The problem, say experts from government organizations, advocacy groups and academia, comes from a lack of education on personal finance topics, beginning at home and continuing in school. “Parents will sooner talk about sex, drugs and alcohol than they would about money,” said Rob  Sansome, director of strategic initiatives at the Florida Prosperity Partnership, which partners with local organizations and agencies to promote economic stability. The survey also found that one-third of Americans while growing up did not discuss basic personal finance topics, such as credit scores, debt, being a smart shopper or opening a basic savings account. Only 13% of those surveyed talked about their own family’s financial situation. It’s like teaching a kid how to ride a bicycle. We didn’t get them a book on balance and motion, we put their butts on a bicycle and let them scrape their knees a little bit. The April 2019 survey of more than 1,500 adults underlines just how much early financial education impacts financial health in adulthood: 17% of those who discussed finances growing up have no savings at all. That figure balloons to 40% among those who had no early financial literacy. 18% of those who talked about money management at home report household income of less than $50,000. But for those who didn’t talk about money, almost a third — 31% — earn less than $50,000.  Here are some other survey highlights: 13% of those surveyed talked about their family’s finances while growing up. Only 20% of Americans learned about the importance of credit scores. 40% of Americans do not maintain a budget. 23% of Americans have no savings; 40% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. So how did we get here? Financial Literacy Gap Widens Across Generations Teaching basic financial concepts to children leads to better money outcomes when they grow up. It’s a point experts can’t emphasize enough, but it’s easier said than done. Embarrassment is one of the main reasons parents struggle instilling financial literacy in their children. They might be embarrassed about their own finances and even bringing up the topic brings on pangs of regret. “I can’t tell my child not to go into debt without cursing myself because I’m in debt,” Sansome said. “It all comes together in this quiet, creeping lack of knowledge.” Another factor driving financial illiteracy, Sansome said, is our culture’s obsession with tackling debt versus saving in the first place. For example, if you turn on the TV you’re far more likely to be hit with a barrage of advertisements for loan refinancing services rather than budgeting apps. “I call it the Smokey Bear concept,” said Bill Mills, president and CEO of the Florida Prosperity Partnership. “We need to have a national campaign on the good of saving and not have it be perceived as spending’s stinky brother.” Further compounding the problem with saving, those who didn’t discuss personal finance topics while growing up are more likely to fall within a low-income stratum, according to The Penny Hoarder survey and an analysis of data Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Our survey found that nearly one-third of Americans who didn’t talk money management as children report household income of less than $50,000. That and other factors can lead some parents to question their own financial knowhow and whether they’re qualified to be passing on information to their kids, said DeAndrew Geels, a senior who works as a financial adviser at Texas Tech’s Red to Black financial literacy program. “Money is such a taboo topic,” he said. “It’s something you don’t really like to talk about, and that can be pretty harmful for everyone.” For one, it’s a factor driving the rise in student loan debt, which has soared past $1.5 trillion this year. Many parents and students don’t take the time to understand the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The form determines whether a prospective student is eligible for financial aid.  Students or parents who miss FAFSA or other deadlines for financial aid awards leave free money on the table — and end up taking on debt to fill the void, said Erin Dunn, associate director of financial aid at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. “Students were coming in the door without ever being exposed to financial concepts, and it was a much bigger conversation than financial aid,” she said. The repercussions stretch into the retirement years. In 2000, 12% of Americans over the age of 64 — about 4.1 million workers — were in the labor force, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number increased to  20%, or roughly 10.6 million people, this year. “People are very concerned about not having enough money for retirement and many people don’t,” said Helen Colby, assistant professor of marketing at Indiana University, who studies consumer financial decision making. FROM THE ANNOUNCEMENTS FORUM Some bittersweet news! 9/19/19 @ 11:42 PM This week in... The Penny Hoarder Community! 7/30/19 @ 3:26 PM This week in... The Penny Hoarder Community! 8/6/19 @ 2:47 PM New announcement: We've introduced a few new threads! 1/23/19 @ 5:32 PM See more in Announcements or ask a money question Financial Literacy Programs Can Help Break the Cycle There are hundreds of financial literacy programs run by nonprofit and educational groups throughout the country that are based on the FDIC’s MoneySmart program. The federal agency offers a guided online course that ends with a nifty certification.  In the 15 board game-style modules, the FDIC covers everything from making sure you get the best deal on a credit card to identity theft. And you can even order a physical copy for free. For those who aren’t into playing games, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau broadcasts free monthly webinars on personal finance topics. The agency also has a database of answers to questions its experts have been asked over the year, and you can ask your own if you don’t find what you’re looking for. Pro Tip When crafting a monthly budget, be as specific as possible. You’ll be surprised at how much more you spend than you think. Every cup of coffee counts. The Penny Hoarder Academy offers simple, easily digestible information on budgeting, credit scores, groceries and even homebuying if you’re that far along on your financial journey. College students who want to get out ahead of looming debt have some options right on campus. Dunn, from USF St. Pete’s financial aid office, recently launched AFLOAT, a campus financial advising program that has attracted freshmen interested in budgeting, juniors and seniors interested in learning about student loan payment options and post-graduates hoping to catch up on personal finance topics. Dozens of colleges have programs like USF’s AFLOAT and Texas Tech’s Red to Black available free to students. For many students, college is the first time they’re de [...]
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Discover Bank CD Rates: How They Compare

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Discover Bank CD Rates: How They Compare
+ See a summary of Discover Bank CD rates Discover Bank CD rates 2019 1-year: 2.40% APY 3-year: 2.45% APY 5-year: 2.50% APY 10-year: 2.60% APY Discover Bank’s CD rates are competitive with other online banks and are some of the highest you can find. The range of terms is extensive, from three months to 10... Spencer Tierney is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: spencer.tierney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd. The article Discover Bank CD Rates: How They Compare originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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United Miles No Longer Expire: What This Means for You

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United Miles No Longer Expire: What This Means for You
United surprised us with a pretty generous announcement: Starting today, United miles will no longer expire. That’s right — you no longer have to worry about losing your miles because you didn’t keep your MileagePlus account active over the last 18 months. This announcement was made on the heels of news that United is doing... Ariana Arghandewal is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: travel@nerdwallet.com. The article United Miles No Longer Expire: What This Means for You originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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FINRA Issues Regulatory Notice Reminding Members of the SEC’s Adoption of a Best Interest Standard of Conduct

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FINRA Issues Regulatory Notice Reminding Members of the SEC’s Adoption of a Best Interest Standard of Conduct
On August 7, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued Regulatory Notice 19-26, reminding members of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) adoption of a “best interest” standard of conduct for broker-dealers and a relationship summary (Form CRS) delivery obligation. Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), adopted by the SEC on June 5, 2019, establishes a “best interest” standard of conduct for broker-dealers and associated persons making a recommendation of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities to a retail customer. Other new rules and forms were adopted that will require broker-dealers and investment advisers to provide a Form CRS to retail investors. Firms must comply with Reg BI and the Form CRS delivery obligation by June 30, 2020. In connection with the new rules, a staff committee with representatives from the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, Division of Trading and Markets, Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations and Office of the General Counsel was established to assist firms with planning for implementation. Firms may send any questions by email to IABDQuestions@sec.gov. In addition, FINRA will produce written and online content and hold in-person meetings and workshops to assist firms with their implementation efforts. A webpage is also available for members to obtain information about the new rules. The Notice is available here. [...]
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Got Credit Card Debt? Paying Biweekly Could Save You Hundreds on Interest

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Got Credit Card Debt? Paying Biweekly Could Save You Hundreds on Interest
It happens every month: The credit card bill is due. You dutifully send your minimum payment on the due date — but watch the balance grow ever larger. But what if you could pay half that amount every two weeks instead of one payment every month? More payments, you say? Thanks, I’ll pass. But what if the new payment schedule could save you hundreds of dollars? Biweekly payments are a simple way to reduce your balance and the amount you pay in interest. Here’s what you need to know. How Do Biweekly Payments Work? You may have already heard of — or received offers for — biweekly payment plans for debts like your mortgage. Here’s how one works: Let’s say your monthly payment for a debt is $500. If you pay that amount each month, you’ll make 12 payments each year for a total of $6,000. If you make biweekly payments, you pay $250 every two weeks. But because there are 52 weeks in a calendar year (thanks to that wacky Gregorian), you’ll make 26 half payments or 13 full payments each year, for a total of $6,500. That reduces your principal by $500 in one year and thus reduces the amount of interest you’ll pay on the remaining balance. Depending on how much you owe and how your debt is structured, you could shave months or years off of a payment plan. An amortization schedule is a table listing regular payments for the life of a loan. Each amount includes a little more toward principal and a little less toward interest as your balance goes down. You can check out your loan’s amortization schedule and online biweekly payment calculators to see just how much you’ll save by paying off principal early. How to Decide if a Biweekly Payment Plan Is Worth It There are three questions to ask about your debt before switching to a biweekly payment plan, according to Brian Walsh, Certified Financial Planner and manager of financial planning at SoFi, a personal finance company: 1. What is the interest rate on the debt? Before you start planning out a new payment schedule, you should first know if it’s worth your effort. That starts with knowing how much interest you’re being charged on a debt. “We consider good debt as anything with an interest rate below 7% and bad debt, anything with an interest rate above 7%,” Walsh said. Rather than paying off  “good debt” early, you can often put your money to better use by investing in IRAs, 401(k)s and other accounts that offer a higher interest rate than the one you’re paying. Pro Tip Considering biweekly payments for a student loan? Current interest rates on direct federal loans for undergraduates is 5.05%, while Direct PLUS Loans for parents or graduate students is 7.6%. So if you have a mortgage charging 5% interest and an IRA earning 8%, you’ll make more money in the long term by continuing with your current monthly debt payment plan and putting that extra money toward your IRA. But if you have an auto loan charging 9% interest, you should consider a biweekly payment plan to pay down that debt faster. 2.  Are there any prepayment penalties associated with the debt? Before starting a biweekly payment plan, review loan contracts to be sure it doesn’t include a prepayment penalty. If it does, you’ll be charged extra for paying off a loan or a large portion in a single payment, which could offset any benefits you reap in interest savings. 3. Can you apply the extra payments toward principal? This question typically requires you to simply tell your lender — via phone, email or letter — that you want extra payments applied toward your principal amount, not the interest. That allows you to pay down the debt faster and avoid paying extra in interest. When it comes to meeting all three criteria, there’s typically one debt that’s a clear winner, according to Walsh. “Whenever we come across credit cards, to me, that’s a no brainer,” Walsh said. “People should be setting up biweekly and more frequent payments when it comes to a credit card.” Why You Should Set Up Biweekly Credit Card Payments If there’s ever a chance you’ll carry over a balance from month to month on your credit card, biweekly payments can save you hundreds in interest, according to Walsh. A grace period is the time between when a statement closes and the due date. The 2009 Credit Card Act requires that if a credit card company offers a grace period, it must last at least 21 days. The problem with credit card debt is that unless you pay off the full balance every month, you lose the grace period credit cards typically offer and start accruing interest on a daily basis. By making biweekly payments, you’ll not only knock out more of the balance, you’ll avoid accruing additional interest in those 14 days between payments. Why Biweekly Mortgage Payments May Not Be Worth It So credit card biweekly payments may sound all well and good, but what about knocking out most people’s biggest debt, the mortgage? Not so fast, say the experts. Using a biweekly payment plan to pay down your mortgage typically isn’t the best financial decision, according to Jason B. Ball, a certified financial planner with Ball Comprehensive Planning in West Linn, Oregon. To illustrate this, Ball offered a scenario using the example of a house purchased for $300,000 with a down payment of $50,000 and an interest rate of 4.2%:   Traditional Monthly Payment Biweekly Payment Payment Amount $1,256.97 $628.49 Total Interest Paid $182,510.84 $153,169.81 Pay-off Date 30 years 25 years, 8 months Here’s how much you can expect to save by making a biweekly payment as opposed to a traditional monthly payment: Interest: $29,341.03 Time: 4 years, 4 months “In our example, it looks to save about four years,” he wrote in an email. “It is also interesting to note that most people do not live in their home that long. The typical buyer could be expected to stay in a single-family home roughly 12 years before moving out.” Yes, you’d save on interest (although not as much if you move out before you finish paying off the mortgage), but Ball notes that at 4.2%, you could put your extra payments to better use by investing that money in higher yielding investments like a 401(k). And although it might make you feel better about not having a mortgage hanging over your head (and there are other benefits to paying off your mortgage early), there’s a good chance a paid-off house won’t help you out that much financially even if you do decide to stay there when you retire. “If you put all your money into your mortgage, you may be house rich at retirement, but you need to look at how you will turn that asset into a monthly paycheck at retirement,” Ball wrote. “Typically, pre-paying the mortgage yields a lower probability of retirement success than other options.”   FROM THE DEBT FORUM What is the best way to consolidate my credit cards into one payment 6/5/19 @ 7:03 PM My townhome is just a money pit 6/4/19 @ 4:48 PM Senior Couple drowning in debt 1/22/19 @ 9:44 AM B Great Student Loan payoff apps. 5/8/19 @ 4:44 PM See more in Debt or ask a money question Should You DIY Biweekly Payments? So you’ve weighed the pros and cons, and you’re ready to put yourself on a biweekly payment plan. Now what [...]
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