5 No Cost Things You Can Do to be Financially Stable

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People that teach financial education often talk about lowering your expenses and increasing your income to increase your financial stability. Of course those things are good but today I want to focus on the five free things you can do to increase your financial stability.

Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute WorkbookFor all of my personal finance tips, order my book “10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money“. If you already have a few challenges, order my Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook“.


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#1 Open an Account at a Credit Union

One of the best financial decisions you can make is to open a checking account at a credit union. It costs nothing to open an account and the benefits are many: better customer service, often lower account fees, usually cheaper car loans, mortgages, and credit cards, and the opportunity to build a relationship with a financial institution with all these great benefits before you need to ask for a loan. Check here to find the credit union closest to you.


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#2 Check Your Credit Reports

You may know that there are three credit reports and three credit scores for each of us but did you know that you can have free access to your reports? The credit bureaus have the right to control who has access to the scores that they’ve created the mathematical formulas to create, BUT the records …  the information that make up the data those formulas use is your data and is free for you to access. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your reports once every 12 months.


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#3 Collect Your Change

For years I’ve told people that an easy way to find money to build up your Emergency Fund or invest in a no-load mutual fund was to throw your spare change in a jar. I still believe it’s true. On average, you’ll have about $50 per month is quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. Instead of that spare change ending up under the couch cushions, in your car’s ashtray, and at the bottom of your purse throw it in an empty water jug or an actual piggy bank. Don’t believe me? Check out this blog.



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#4 Open a High Yield Savings Account

Since I’ve been badgering you to create an Emergency Savings Account, I thought I’d help you out by providing you with the latest lists of accounts with the highest interest rates (you’ll earn more money than at your local financial institution) across the US. Check out the highest yielding savings accounts here.


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#5 Choose You

This is the hardest free thing you might ever have to do: choose yourself over everything. Choose to save some money for an emergency instead of eating out. Choose to invest some money in a mutual fund instead of purchasing an extra excursion on a trip. Choose to think you’re going to create the exact life you’d like to have …   and then do the prep work so when your opportunity comes, you’re ready.







Credit Scores Could Rise This Fall

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This fall credit scores across the country may rise. There are four new changes to the VantageScore  (a new thing created by the big 3 credit bureaus) that may increase credit scores for those that need it most. Unfortunately for those looking to buy a home the FICO scoring model will not be effected.

KETV says, “The new method is being implemented later this year by VantageScore, a company created by the credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. It’s not as well-known as Fair Isaac Corp., whose FICO score is used for the vast majority of mortgages. But VantageScore handled 8 billion account applications last year, so if you applied for a credit card, that score was likely used to approve or deny you.”

The changes include:

Trended data CNBC says, “Using what’s known as trended data is the biggest change. The phrase means credit scores will take into account the trajectory of a borrower’s debts on a month-to-month basis. So a person who is paying down debt is now likely to be scored better than a person who is making minimum monthly payments but has been slowly accumulating credit card debt.”

Legal data – Civil judgments, medical debt and tax liens will no longer affect your score. Mortgages are still primarily using FICO scores so don’t get too excited but for other types of loans (credit cards, auto loans, etc.) this could really help some folks out.

High Limits – the debt ratio portion of scoring for VantageScore is about to be turned on it’s head. Instead of the lower the debt ration, the better people with “excessive” credit card limits could be hurt. the rational is that those with higher limits could rack up more debt, faster.

Less Robust History – According to the Motley Fool those that have fewer items on their credit histories may also see an increase in their score due to, “The model will examine thousands of various consumer behaviors in an effort to identify those who have a propensity to pay their bills on time, because these are the people that lenders want to attract.

Some changes may help and some may hurt depending on what’s going on with your credit scores right now. Motley Fool gives the easiest explanation of the biggest changes. Read more here.


ShayOlivarriaHeadshotShay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. Previous clients include: the Yorba Linda Water District, Verizon, and Friends of Allensworth, 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.

Virtual Book Launch June 8th


As you all know, I am ecstatic about the printing of the 2nd edition of 10 Things College Students Need to Know about Money! I’m so excited that for the first time ever I’m hosting a virtual book launch on Facebook. What is a virtual book launch you ask? Good question.  *wink*

A virtual book launch is an opportunity for you to ask me about the book, win some cool gifts and score an AMAZING discount on the book. I’m so excited.

Sign up to receive my emails and get another gift.

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See you Wednesday, June 8th between 6:30pm and 8:30pm Pacific Standard Time.

Economic Summit and Student Leadership Conference – Las Vegas


The Economic Summit and Student Leadership Conference was held in Las Vegas at the College of Southern Nevada – Cheyenne Campus on Saturday, December 13th. Shay Olivarria, financial education speaker and author, spoke to three sessions of students and parents while representing the Center for Financial Empowerment in Irwindale, CA.

Topics covered included credit scoring, credit monitoring, credit cards, ROI and the differences between traditional banks and credit unions. Each presentation was about 50 minutes long and included PowerPoint, videos and large group discussion. The teens (both high school and college students) and parents were very vocal and were genuinely interested in in sharing what they knew and learning more about the topics.

The event was well attended and very well run. Perhaps Shay will be back in 2015.

Should Utilities Be Included in Credit Scores?

In Sunday’s LA Times “Changes weighed that may boost credit scores” talks about a recent hearing before the House Financial Services Committee headed up by Los Angeles Representative Maxine Waters. Due to the recession many Americans that had favorable credit scores have seen their scores decline due to job loss and stagnant pay. Water is advocating for negative things to fall off of one’s credit report in 4 years instead of the 7 years that it is currently and for the inclusion of so-called “alternative credit data” such as rent payments and utility bills (water, power, cable, etc,).

Many think that including these payments will help people increase their credit scores because they will be recognized for paying these bills every month. Others think that it might make things worse because many people prioritize payments and when money is tight choose to pay their rent and wait to pay their utilities that would trigger 30-day-late and possibly 60-day-late marks on credit reports thereby lowering scores.

What do you think? Would you like to see alternative credit data included in credit reports?


WEBINAR: Pay Off Holiday Debt


In an effort to reach even more people, Bigger Than Your Block will be hosting a series of FREE financial education webinars. The first in the series is Pay Off Holiday Debt. In this informative webinar you’ll discover the two most important strategies to pay down debt, how the CARD Act helps you pay down debt faster than ever before and how to make your credit card work for you!


The webinar is WEdnesday, January 19th 6pm PST/9pm EST.


In case you missed the live webinar, you can check out the replay at https://www.anymeeting.com/WebConference-beta/RecordingDefault.aspx?c_psrid=EF51DB878048

Shay on Multicultural Familia Radio

Financial Education Speaker & Author Shay Olivarria was on the Multicultural Familia Radio Show a while ago. For those that were not able to join us, Shay has taken the time to jot down a few thoughts about the major themes covered in the interview. Here are a few things that were covered:

Why are you so passionate about money management?  What prompted you to become a financial educator to kids and young adults?

I’m passionate because of all the mistakes I made in my youth! I even named them my most recent book, All My Mistakes. I look back and think, “Why didn’t anyone tell me to invest a percentage of my income?” or “Why didn’t anyone tell me about the beauty of compound interest?”. I started Bigger Than Your Block back in 2007 because I had been working with youth and I noticed that the things I didn’t know back then, they didn’t know right now. I wanted to help them learn from the mistakes that I made.

What are some financial mistakes that you’ve made and how did you overcome them?

There are so many, where should I begin?  I’d have to say that the worst mistake I made was not taking advantage of compound interest. I talk a lot about the mistakes and how to avoid them in 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money. If I had invested only $50 per month from the time I started working at sixteen until I completed undergrad when I was about twenty six (ten years) I would have amassed $6,000. Let’s pretend that I had invested that money every month into an investment account that returned 8% per year (the average is 10% over most ten year periods, so I’m being conservative), I would have $9,000 at the end of those ten years. That’s $3,000 that was given to me because of compound interest. Let’s take it a step further and say that I never put another dollar into that account and I just let it grow. That $9,000 would turn into $217,000 by retirement!  Imagine if I had kept it up!