Baltimore May Sell Homes for $1 Each

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Like Philadelphia and Detroit, Baltimore has lots of empty, crumbling houses. The solution has been to tear the houses down but it looks like a program from the 1980s to help people become home owners may get a second chance:

From the Greater Greater Washington website:

The estimated cost to restore the properties was as a high as $100,000, so the city made low-interest loans available to new owners. With a one percent interest rate, Clarke’s resolution notes that new homeowners could pay as little as $300 per month to repay the loan. With the same terms in the 1980s, H.O.M.E.S. says no new owner defaulted on their loans.

Buying an old dilapidated house is not the feint of heart. The house is falling apart, in some cases, and the neighborhood doesn’t have many retail businesses available that a young person or young family might want. You’ll put lots of blood, sweat, and tears into a house to make it a home. For some, the work won’t be worth it but for others …  it might just be a dream come true.

 

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$10,000 African American Study Abroad Scholarship

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Did you know that the United Negro College Fund had a $10,000 scholarship to help Black students in the United States study at a University on the continent of Africa?

The Joseph A. Towles African Study Abroad Scholarship is named in memory of Dr. Joseph A. Towles, a black social anthropologist and specialist in the study of African cultures. Dr. Towles, a native of Virginia, earned his doctorate at the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

This makes me wish I was still in school so I could apply for this scholarship. I’ve been to twenty countries on five continents but I’ve never had the pleasure of studying at a university abroad. There are only three more days to get your application in. Hurry. This is a great opportunity.

African American Study Abroad Scholarship
United Negro College Fund
Deadline to Apply: Nov. 3, 2017
Award Amount: up to $10,000

By providing financial assistance for UNCF students to study at an established university within the continent of Africa, The Joseph A. Towles Scholarship will allow students to receive an incredible academic experience and exposure to the rich traditions within African cultures.

Click here to visit the United Negro College Fund’s page.

Financial Apps for Lazy People

lazyIf you’re like me, you want to use your money well. You want to buy things you want. You want to pay yourself first by setting a few dollars aside for emergencies and investing a few coins for retirement. You want to pay your bills on time, and in full every month but those things rarely happen the way you know they should. Behavioral economics explains that most people do better when things are automated and we don’t have to actively make choices. Why do you think so many people know exactly what they need to do and then they still don’t do it?

Making good financial decisions with every single purchase day in and day out is challenging. Instead of making things harder for yourself why not use automatic savings and/or investment apps? Here is a round up of what’s available.

 

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Apps for Automatic Saving

Digit – There is a free trial period of 100 days. It’s $2.99 a month after that. It basically uses an algorithm to figure out how much money can be moved from your checking account into your Digit savings account. Digit accounts are FDIC insured. There is a desktop version and an app. FAQs are here.

Qapital – Free. You set “rules” that tell the app when and how much money to move to your Qapital account to reach your savings goals. It’s a little more complicated than Digit. Qapital accounts are FDIC insured. App only. FAQs are here.

To read a comparison of Digit and Qapital, click here.

 

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Apps for Automatic Investing

Acorns – It’s $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000 in them. The app rounds up the change from purchases and invests the change in the stock market. Find out more here.

Stash – There is a $5 minimum and $1 monthly fee for accounts under $5,000. You decide when to invest and how much to invest. Find out more here.

 

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Apps to Manage it All

Mint – Free.

YNAB You Need a Budget – Free for 34 days and $4.17 every month after that.

 

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Personal Finance Software

Quicken Money – if you’re not a fan of phone apps but you’d still like to keep an eye on your money, this may be the software for you. It tracks spending, can track investments, and even comes with a free app if you’re so inclined.

 

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Other Options

If all this sounds like a little too much, you can stick with the tools provided by your financial institution (many offer programs to help you save the change from transactions or create a holiday savings account), invest in your 401k or 403b through your job, or invest for retirement on your own by opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) through whatever company suits you.

Whatever works for you is best. There is no right or wrong. It’s important that you start now though. Even if you can only use the change from your purchases, something is always better than nothing. Take advantage of compound interest and start now.

 

 

 

 

Good Bye MyRA

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MyRA was a program started to help young people and the working poor invest for retirement. Contributions could be as low as $5. The hope that young people and people with few resources could take part in investing for retirement (because we all know Social Security isn’t gonna be enough) was a lofty goal. This may have been especially helpful for people of color since we’ve all read the studies about net worth and cycles of poverty.

Unfortunately, the MyRA program will be stopped under the Trump administration. It was never really given the resources to take off. That was the main reason given for its close. The working poor don’t have lots of options to move up the socio-economic ladder and now they’ll have one less option.

Why Your Emergency Fund Needs $500

“If you are human, have a pet, kids, a house or a place to live, something is going to happen that will cost you money,” said Cornfield.

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Traditional wisdom says one needs about 6 months of income squirreled away in an emergency fund to be in good financial shape. For many, that number seems astronomical and folks don’t even start because it seems like a battle they can’t win. Though more money is usually better, I’m gonna buck conventional wisdom and say that if six months’ income seems too steep a hill to climb, perhaps your goal should be $500.

*clutches pearls*

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Every year the Federal Reserve puts out a research study about the financial state of American households. This year, the board found out that the average American wouldn’t have $500 for an emergency. Of course, there are larger emergencies out there but for many people an unexpected expense might be a blown tire, automotive engine work, a broken appliance, or some other emergency expense that might cost around …  you guessed it …  $500.

From The Atlantic:

” …. what was happening to me was also happening to millions of other Americans, and not just the poorest among us, who, by definition, struggle to make ends meet. It was, according to that Fed survey and other surveys, happening to middle-class professionals and even to those in the upper class. It was happening to the soon-to-retire as well as the soon-to-begin. It was happening to college grads as well as high-school dropouts. It was happening all across the country, including places where you might least expect to see such problems. I knew that I wouldn’t have $400 in an emergency. What I hadn’t known, couldn’t have conceived, was that so many other Americans wouldn’t have the money available to them, either.”

 

Obviously, having $500 won’t solve all of your problems but “I’d rather be caught with it”. * in my Xzibit voice*

If you haven’t started an emergency fund, head over to your credit union and open a savings account asap.

 

FREE Workshop: Paying for College

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There have been some changes to the way high school students apply to FAFSA. Families need to know what the changes are, what the important dates not to miss are, and how to get students graduated from college not mired in debt.

Financial education speaker and the author of “10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money” Shay Olivarria will be facilitating a FREE workshop in San Diego, CA to help families figure it all out.

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In this dynamic one hour workshop students and parents will learn about the changes to the FAFSA application, scholarships, student loan types, and repayment options.

Families will leave with a handout of important terms, tips, and dates. Graduating from college is not just about having the grades to get in. It’s about finding a school that’s a good fit, paying for it without going broke, and creating a network to build a career.

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FAQs

What can I bring into the event?

Bring a pen or pencil. This is a workshop (you’ll be engaged) not a lecture.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Call (323) 596-1843

What’s the refund policy?

Early Bird ticket holders will receive a free copy of “10 Things College Students Need to Know About College” at the event. If you don’t show, you don’t get your copy. Books will NOT be shipped.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

Yes. Seating is very limited so tickets will be necessary. Showing your ticket on your phone also works (save a tree).

Is it ok if the name on my ticket or registration doesn’t match the person who attends?

Yes. Whoever shows up needs access to a ticket. If you booked a ticket for yourself and now your cousin wants to come instead, that’s fine.

 

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Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. Previous clients include: SCE Credit Union, American Airlines Credit Union, the Yorba Linda Water District, Verizon, among others. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. Shay has been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, NBC Latino and The Credit Union Times.The 2nd edition of “10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money” is available now.

 

 

Wells Fargo Customers to See Money from Fraud Settlement

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You may remember the scandal involving national bank Wells Fargo opening accounts (checking, saving, credit cards, etc.) for people that had no idea those accounts had been opened. If you have no idea what I’m talking about read this article. As more people come to understand that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a great tool to help resolve complaints with large financial services companies (they also work to help with mortgage companies and credit card companies) complaints against banks are skyrocketing (which is why I advocate for using credit unions, but I digress).

If you were a Wells Fargo customer between May 2002 and April 2017, you may be owed some money (if not for them opening a fraudulent account for you, perhaps for charging you ridiculous fees on your mortgage). The types of accounts that were opened include:

  • Checking accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Lines of credit
  • Identity theft protection

Some customers have already been refunded for fees associated with the fraudulent accounts (the Los Angeles times says around $3.2M so far) but others have yet to be contacted. Notices for customers that have already been identified should be mailed out toward the end of September. Customers that have not yet been identified should visit the Wells Fargo settlement website: https://wfsettlement.com/

The money probably won’t be out until 2018 as the judge has to approve all the settlements. The scheduled court date is January 4th. To find out more about the Wells Fargo settlement read “Wells Fargo’s $142-million sham accounts settlement: What you need to know” from the Los Angeles Times.