Working Poor & Housing

I’ve written before about the working poor and about how folks can make different choices to not be a part of that group, so when I saw this infographic and calculator I wanted to share them. The image explains how many hours a person earning minimum wage would have to work to be able to afford a fair market rent depending on which state one lives in. Last year’s report from The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) states it more clearly than I can:

The ACS is an annual survey of three million households that provides the public with demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics of the American population. After mining this data, our Research team discovered that while wages are stagnating, rental costs continue to rise and more renters nationwide are housing cost burdened.

That means that folks are working hard and not getting anywhere. It means that incomes are not growing, but rental costs are increasing by leaps and bounds! According to Business Insider, “To afford the national average two-bedroom apartment’s rent—$949 per month—a low-income household needs to earn $37,960 annually, which just isn’t happening. That’s $18.25 per hour—they only earn $14.15.”

Whoa! As I’m reading that last sentence again, I’m wondering why one would need a two bedroom apartment? Is it because you have kids? Why is only one person responsible for a two bedroom apartment? If the person is single why don’t they have a roommate? Of course I believe that all people should have a safe, clean roof over their heads however I’m concerned about acting like the people involved in these statistics have no power. I’d like to think that we have options in life. We can’t control everything, but there are things like education, character, procreation, leveraging our networks, creating our opportunities, etc. that we can control. Of course, there are systematic things at play like institutionalized racism, sexism, ageism, sexual orientation … ism … but those things have always been around and there have always been people that made a way out of no-way.

I saw this great series of infographics on The Punk Patrtiot website and I had to steal this one! The image shows how much money outsourced workers (foreigners), local workers (Americans), and CEOs (the 1%) earn per hour and how long they will have to work until they are able to retire. Of course, it’s propaganda (it says so on the image “Propaganda Times”) but in it’s hyperbolic statement it pokes at the reality of life for many around the world.  THIS is the essence of the term “the working poor”. It’s the idea that work is low-paying, the work can rarely (if ever) stop, and that millions of people get up and do it every day. The working poor aren’t lazy. They work hard. The problem is that many times, they don’t work smart.

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. 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, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

Student Loan Forgiveness Bill

I saw this post on Default: The Students Loan Documentary‘s Facebook page and I knew that you would be interested in reading about it:

Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) introduced the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (H.R. 4170) on March 8, 2012. If enacted, this legislation will provide student loan forgiveness for federal education loans, allow private student loans to be refinanced into federal direct consolidation loans and cap all federal student loan interest rates at 3.4%.

This legislation would address some of the calls for student loan forgiveness raised by forgivestudentloandebt.com and the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Of course this has not been passed, but it’s a great step in the right direction. To read the whole article on Fastweb, click here.

To read about more ways to manage your money order a copy of 10 Things College Students  Need to Know About Money. Not sure what’s in it? Check out the reviews here.

 

 

Money Fears

 

What are some of the fears you have about money? The fears you don’t even talk about with your partner? With your family? To yourself?

Before we can start making progress our financial goals, we have to really understand the things that are holding us back. To start the discussion, below is an excerpt from my book 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money:

 

The first step in changing any behavior is recognizing that behavior. Many people don’t really take the time to sit down and think about why they do the things that they do. Let’s take a moment and really think this through. Answer each question honestly, even if only to yourself:

1)      Growing up, my parent(s) seemed __________ about money.

2)      Growing up, a phrase I heard often about money was __________.

3)      My first job was ________________. I used the money to ______________.

4)      When I thought about the costs involved with college, I thought I would pay for them by _________.

5)      When I’m with friends I feel ________ about money.

6)      When I think about managing my money I feel ____________.

7)      The thing that concerns me most about money is _________.

8)      This amount of money in my bank account would make me feel great _____________.

9)      I have that much money now or I’m working towards that goal. Why or why not?

Take a moment to think about these statements and be honest about your experiences. Things may not change overnight, but as you understand your self and your motivations better you’ll be able to make better choices.

 

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. 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, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

Motivation


 

To become wealthy, one first has to define wealth. I choose the word “wealthy” over the word “rich” because wealthy implies, to me, that there are enough resources (money, real estate, investments, etc.) amassed to pass on a sizable inheritance to the next generation.

The key to becoming wealthy is not complicated and it’s not even that difficult. The challenge is that you have to 1) believe that it’s possible 2) make every decision about your choice to become wealthy 3) be willing to stand against the crowd and 4) put  in the work to make it happen.

Believe that it’s possible

The hardest part about helping people achieve their goals is getting them to believe that their goals are achievable. People will tell you that they want to be stable, they want to be rich, they want to be wealthy … but  they say it’ll never happen. I have one response to that, “If you believe you can’t, then you’re right. If you believe you can, then you’re right” – Henry Ford.

 

Make every decision about your choice

Once you think that you can reach your goals you’ll notice that your mindset changes. Every decision that you make will revolve around this goal. If you want to buy a business, start a business, buy  a home, etc. every purchase you make will be decided by one question, “Is this purchase helping me achieve my goal?” It sounds simplistic, but it really is that easy. The average American wastes money every month. What if we could collect all the money that we waste and pool it together to achieve our financial goals? Guess what? We can.

Be willing to stand against the crowd

To make your goals come true you are going to have to be willing to be different from those around you…. or choose people that are headed in the same direction as you. Most of us have friends that we’ve had for years. We didn’t choose them because of their career goals or net worth. We chose them because they attended the same schools we did or they lived in the same neighborhood. As you start to change  your attitude and behavior you may notice that some folks are not supporting you. To achieve your goals you may have to not eat out as much, take as many trips, or spend as frivolously as you did before. People will make fun of you. Some will get angry with you. Others will leave you. Those that see your vision will encourage you. If you’re not willing to stand on your own, then the cause is already lost.

Put in the work

At the end of the day, no one can do it for you. Folks can support you, encourage you, and be there with you, but you’ll have to do the heavy lifting on your own. There is no short-cut for this part. You know what your goal is (you’ve written it down) and you know what you’ll need to do to get there.

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. 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, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

 

Passport Day 2012

Shay visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Osaka in 2011.

Why is there a photo of Shay standing in a train station in Tokyo? Saturday, March 10th is Passport Day! The company is named “Bigger Than Your Block” for a reason. We believe that travel is an integral part of education. We’re encouraging everyone to go get your passport tomorrow (even if you don’t know where you’d like to go or if you don’t have the money to pay for it) because taking that first step will start changing your mindset.

Officially, Passport Day is “On Saturday, March 10 only, apply for your U.S. passport at a Regional Passport Agency without an appointment. You will be able to apply for standard processing (4-6 weeks) or pay an additional $60 for expedited processing (2-3 weeks, door-to-door).”

Necessites un Passport de America?

Applying to a  get a passport is SUPER easy. You just bring your birth certificate, two regulation sized photos (get ’em at AAA for about $10), a photo ID and pay your fee. Beware: the office is going to take your birth certificate (they will mail it back to you with your passport). The whole thing will last about 5 minutes and you’ll end up with the ability to travel the world!

U.S. Dept. of State website:

First-time applicants

Renewals

Minors (under 16)

Shay at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in 2006.

Now, Americans can get a passport (for the WORLD!) and a card to travel to Canada and Mexico for about $25. When I was a kid, I started a file with all the the places I wanted to visit. It took me a while to get started (I was 27) but I’ve managed to visit 9 counties on 3 continents. I wish I would have known it was this easy a loooong time ago.

Read more about it at:
I’m Black & I Travel
Los Angeles Times

 

Happy travels!

 

 

How to Write Down Your Financial Goals

How to Write Down Your Financial Goals

By: Shay Olivarria

It’s come to my attention that some folks are unclear about how to write down their financial goals. When I ask people to do it (so that we can create a spending plan, for example) they give me vague and general goals that are unhelpful. To that end, here is a brief how-to guide on writing down your financial goals.

Imagine your meta-goal & write it down
The first thing that has to be done is to come up with a goal that you’d like to achieve…. and write it down.

Example “I want to own a home.”

Clarify meta-goals with the S.M.A.R.T. technique
Whatever you wrote down is probably not as detailed and clear as is most useful. To help you clarify what you want, use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). With the example below, it’s clear what my idea of a “home” is. It also helps to better understand how much money I might need. Buying a studio condo, on average, will cost less than a house in the same market. A two bedroom house, on average, will cost less than a three bedroom house in the same market. Be specific about what you want and put a time limit on it. That will give you some accountability.

Example “I want to own a three bedroom, two bathroom house in a cul-de-sac in my city by 2020.”

Write down several sub-goals for each meta-goal
Once you have your meta-goal you’ll need to think about what steps you’ll need to take to reach those goals. Again, be as specific as possible. Saying that you’ll need a down payment is obvious, but it may not help you pass by the Starbucks in favor of a home-brewed cup of tea. Understanding that you’ll need to have a specific amount of money by a specific amount of time may.

Example “Save $20,000 for a down payment by 2020.”

Write down steps to reach your sub-goals
Okay, so we know that you’ll need twenty grand. That’s a HUGE number. Breaking it down to the small things we can do that will make a large difference may help. Try to look at the ways that you currently spend money and find out where the small opportunities to make a big difference are.

Example “I will pare my spending down by $100 a month by eating out less and purchasing bottled drinks in bulk instead of buying from the café at work.”

Example “I will contribute $150 monthly to my CD laddering strategy to grow my down payment.”

By the end of the exercise your paper should look similar to this:

Meta-goal – To own a a three bedroom, two bathroom house in a cul-de-sac in my city by 2020.

Sub-goal – save $20,000 for a down payment.

Steps to achieve this goal:
I will pare my spending down by $100 a month by eating out less and purchasing bottled drinks in bulk instead of buying from the café at work.
I will contribute $150 monthly to my CD laddering strategy to grow my down payment.

Timeframe:
December 2020

It may seem silly to be this thorough, but you’d be surprised how easy things seem when you take the time to write them down. Life is complicated and messy. Writing things down can often help make things simple.

 

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. 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, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.

 

National Consumer Protection Week

A few months ago, I wrote about the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and their work to help average Americans. Well, this week is National Consumer Protection Week! I thought I’d help get the word out, so here it is:

In case you forgot what the CFPB does, the website says:

We’re taking your complaints. We started with credit cards, moved on to mortgages, and now have the ability to take your complaints about a wide range of financial products and services provided by banks and credit unions.

We launched our supervision program. We are responsible for supervising not just banks, but also other financial businesses, such as payday lenders, mortgage companies, private student lenders, and others – collectively known as nonbanks. We will visit these businesses to make sure they are following the law and assess risks to consumers.

We adopted a rule to increase protections for consumers who transfer money internationally. One of our jobs is to write rules that tell financial institutions how to follow the law. This regulation will help protect consumers who send money electronically to another country.

We’re developing tools to help you make better financial decisions. Our Student Debt Repayment Assistant helps people with student loans determine their repayment options. We’re also working to provide educational materials to service providers working directly with consumers in their communities. Nearly 5,200 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) locations around the country received materials from us that they can use to help encourage taxpayers to save some of their 2011 federal income tax refunds.

We’re looking out for you. All finance is personal, but some populations have unique needs. Staff from our offices for older Americans, servicemembers, and students are out in the field gathering information and looking out for consumers’ interests.

Tell a friend!