5 tricks to repay mounting debt | Cash Good

If you’re having trouble getting your bills off, here are a few tips that might help you.

SAN ANTONIO – If you are heavily in debt, you are not alone.

US household debt hit a record high of $ 15 trillion in the second quarter of 2021, according to the latest report.

The latest quarterly report on the debt and creditworthiness of households in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says total household debt rose 2.1% to hit $ 14.96 trillion. The report shows that mortgage debt was the largest contributor. Auto loans and loan spending also contributed to the increase.

If you’re struggling to get your bills off, here are five tips that might help.

“A lot of people think that you should cash out your highest-interest credit cards first, but psychologically, I think it’s best to get some out of the way. If you have five or six credit cards, and one of them is very small, pay it off first because mentally you feel like you can accomplish something by getting rid of one credit card, ”said Karl Eggerss, Senior Wealth Advisor and Partner at Federation.

FOCUS ON THE MAP WITH THE HIGHEST INTEREST RATE

“If you can call the institution to try to get a lower rate, I’d advise. If not, you can actually transfer this balance to another credit card on an introductory course. Maybe zero percent or six months or even a year. You’re trying to buy yourself time while you pay for it, ”advised Eggerss.

PAY MORE THAN THE MINIMUM CREDIT

“If you only pay the minimum, you will never pay them off. So make sure you cut the spending elsewhere to pay for that credit card, ”he said.

“Sell things that you no longer need in your house and literally put the money on your credit card,” advised Eggerss.

“You need to know what money is coming in and what is coming out. When it comes to spending too much, you will never get anywhere with these credit cards and it will continue to be a problem. In terms of interest rates, it is getting bigger and bigger and could lead to bankruptcy, ”suspects Eggerss.

Is Worldwide Cash Categorical (IMXI) A Good Lengthy-Time period Purchase?

Voss capital, an investment company, has published its “Voss Value Offshore Fund” investor letter for the second quarter of 2021 – a copy of which can be downloaded here. The fund returned + 11.2% quarterly net return for the second quarter of 2021, ahead of the Russell 2000, Russell 2000 Value and S&P 500 benchmarks, which returned + 4.3%, + 4.2% and +8, respectively. 5% delivered for the same period. You can check out the fund’s top 5 holdings to see their top bets for 2021.

In Voss Capital’s letter to investors for the second quarter of 2021, the fund mentioned International Money Express, Inc. (NASDAQ: WALK) and discussed his stance on the company. International Money Express, Inc. is a Miami, Florida based money transfer company with a market capitalization of $ 715.7 million. IMXI posted a year-to-date return of 18.40% while 12 month returns are up 13.29%. The stock closed at $ 18.40 per share on September 1, 2021.

Here’s what Voss Capital had to say about International Money Express, Inc. in its Q2 2021 investor letter:

“We believe Intermex (International Money Express, IMXI) is a convincing long. IMXI is an international money transfer company primarily focused on transactions originating from the United States and going to Mexico and Guatemala. They make their money by charging a fixed fee for each transfer (85% of sales) and, to a lesser extent, through currency arbitrage on transactions (14%). Her client base consists primarily of low-income, low-bank immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala whose family / friends are staying in their home country and in need of financial assistance. We believe IMXI is an easy to understand story, with a clean capital structure, very low capital intensity (outside of some fluctuations in working capital), a strong brand, adept management, and excellent ongoing execution (z incremental margins). We believe the negative narrative surrounding the company has flaws that we can exploit, namely skepticism about the sustainability of its growth, the stickiness of the customer base, and a misunderstanding about the economics of a digital transfer versus a personal transfer.

The consensus on Wall Street is that IMXI is making a strategic mistake by not going “all-in” with digital transactions like MoneyGram (MGI), Western Union (WU) and well-supported private competitors like Remitly and Wise . You will hear the wave of VC money showing you what the future holds and transfers initiated through brick and mortar stores are dying out. In the digital transition, Intermex will lose its customer base and, given the operational leverage of the model, profitability will be hit hard. Bears also argue that digital is cheaper, easier, and should create a more solid customer base in the long run. In addition, Intermex’s focus on a few markets makes it difficult to scale the business and will quickly hit a wall of growth.

Voss has a different opinion. After in-depth survey of the customer base and research into cultural factors, we believe that the transition to IMXI’s digital customer base will be very slow as digitization requires a bank account and it can take longer for the money to be available to the recipient in cash. As WU and MGI focus on the digital, IMXI continues to gain market share locally and an increasing share of the associated superior profitability of the units. Digital has a much lower Lifetime Value (LTV) / Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) ratio due to intense competition that requires high marketing costs and increases “churn”. Digital isn’t necessarily a cheaper way for customers to send money either, as digital gamers try to grow their revenue with higher currency arbitrage to offset the low advertised transaction fees, something our smart customer base is very much aware of. We’d also argue that IMXI’s personal customer base is probably stickier than the overly digitally minded Wall Street imagines. A worker dropping by the IMXI counter in the same store where they cash their check or buy groceries is routine, and that convenience and familiarity are sticky. Management noted that many of the customers who switched to IMXI’s digital product during the lockdown returned in person after the stores reopened.

Intermex’s disciplined focus on a few markets, instead of striving for growth in every country, enables the company to dominate these high-volume corridors and participate consistently and profitably. In direct contradiction to the bearish mood and narrative, IMXI is constantly growing around 20% faster than its competitors WU and MGI.

At its current valuation of ~ 8x NTM FCF and 7x EBITDA, the market’s expectations for this 20% organic grower are exceptionally low. We believe they can sustain 10-20% growth and pave the way for the stock to double in the next 2-3 years through a combination of continued organic growth and multiple expansion as the market realizes that their runway is a lot is longer than currently forecast. Our price target is $ 29 (90% up) based on 10x our EBITDA estimates for 2023. If the stock’s price doesn’t improve by then, we believe it’s both private equity and There are strategic buyers interested in buying the entire company. “

The story goes on

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

According to our calculations, International Money Express, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMXI) couldn’t find a place on our list of The 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds. IMXI was there fifteen Hedge fund portfolios at the end of the first half of 2021 compared to 18th Average in the previous quarter. International Money Express, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMXI) returned 18.43% over the past 3 months.

The reputation of hedge funds as shrewd investors has been tarnished over the past decade as their hedged returns have not kept up with the unsecured returns of market indices. Our research has shown that hedge fund small-cap stock selection beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the outperformance margin has been decreasing in recent years. Nevertheless, we were able to identify a selected group of hedge fund holdings in advance that exceeded the S&P 500 ETFs by 115 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to pre-identify a select group of hedge fund holdings that lagged the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly, the underperformance margin of these stocks has increased in recent years. Investors who take long positions in the market and short these stocks would have earned more than 27% annual return between 2015 and 2017. We’ve been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

At Insider Monkey, we search multiple sources to discover the next great investment idea. For example, the Federal Reserve created trillions of dollars electronically to keep interest rates close to zero. We believe this will lead to inflation and drive house prices higher. So we recommended that Real estate stocks to our monthly premium newsletter subscribers. We go lists like 10. by best EV stocks to pick the next Tesla that delivers a 10x return. While we recommend positions in just a tiny fraction of the companies we analyze, we review as many stocks as possible. We read letters from hedge fund investors and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. You can subscribe to our free daily newsletter on our homepage.

Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider monkey.

Boston Beer CEO acknowledges Q2 arduous seltzer gross sales miss – ‘we don’t look very good’

Boston beer CEO David Burwick said Friday the company was surprised by the Truly Hard Seltzer sales disappointing in the second quartersaid CNBC in an interview that management doesn’t “look very smart” according to its previous forecast.

“The trade-off between buying grocery and liquor stores and consuming it at home in bars during this time, especially since the summer hit really hit us,” Burwick said “Closing bell.” “And to be honest, it hit us hard and fast. … We don’t look very smart if we miss these instructions. “

Boston Beer shares plunged Friday to close 26% at $ 701 apiece as Wall Street reacted negatively to the company’s worse-than-expected quarterly results Thursday night. Boston Beer reported earnings per share of $ 4.75 on sales of $ 603 million, while analysts surveyed by Refinitiv reported earnings per share of $ 6.69 and sales of $ 658 million. Dollars were looking for. The lower than expected demand for Truly was a major reason for the loss of profits.

Goldman Sachs said in a message to his customers Thursday that the decline in the second quarter raised questions about the company’s long-term growth plans and its ability to correctly predict its results, although the hard-seltzer category was expected to follow theirs glowing growth in recent years. Analyst Bonnie Herzog downgraded the stock from Buy to neutral.

Boston Beer owns brands like Samuel Adams, Twisted Tea, Truly Hard Seltzer, Angry Orchard Hard Cider, and other local craft beer brands.

Burwick said the company felt “very confident” in the tough seltzer category through mid-May and Memorial Day, with the unexpected slump not becoming apparent until later and in June when further Covid-related restrictions were eased.

“One of the things that is going on here, different from the March-April period, is that the country opens in May and people go to bars and restaurants. Hard Seltzer is not that well developed in these channels.” yet, “said Burwick, adding,” It will be and it will arrive. “

However, the company made no advance notice to alert investors and analysts to worrying sales developments that the executive said could be a point “for us to learn in the future.”

Despite the poor numbers for the second quarter, Burwick believes hard seltzer is a category that will continue to grow – even if the category has certainly slowed from its old triple-digit growth rate.

He believes the fall of the Hard Selters is actually a “positive sign of reopening” as people move from grocery stores to bars, preferring draft beer to Selters.

“We’re going to win a stake. The question is where the category goes. And you know, if someone out there can give a better feel for it, we’re all ears but we can’t control it,” said Burwick, who has been since 2018 President and CEO of the company and on the Board of Directors since 2005.

Boston Beer’s Truly Hard Selters and Twisted Tea brands remain the two fastest growing brands in the hard seltzer category, Burwick said. He also said the company expects the category to consolidate in the future after many new brands have entered, which would help Truly.

Overall, the company’s revenue increased 33% year over year in the second quarter.

“I don’t think there is another listed beverage manufacturer [alcoholic] or not alc, that’s close to that kind of top-line growth, “said Burwick.” We’re running the business long term and it’s obviously not a good day for investors, but we’ll be back, “he added.” In fact, we’re nowhere going with the same Gone company that we were two days ago. We are just as confident about our future. “

Skip Faculty? Not if You Need to Make Extra Cash | Sensible Change: Private Finance

Where you live after graduation also affects its value, according to a May 2020 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank.

“In general, college degrees are a good investment, but the return on investment when it comes to cosmopolitan areas is phenomenal,” said John Winters, associate professor of economics at Iowa State University who conducted the study.

In cities, undergraduate graduates earn an average of $ 95,229, an 86.2% premium compared to an employee with a high school degree and a 55.7% premium compared to an associate degree.

According to Winters, this is mainly because cities have a higher concentration of jobs in areas that often require a four-year degree, such as engineering, finance and marketing. Workers in these areas earn higher wages, which translates into a higher return on investment for deals.

However, Winters’ results also mean that having a four-year degree is less important if you want to live in a smaller metropolis or rural area. Undergraduate graduates in non-urban areas have a median income of $ 67,893, which is a premium of 46.4% compared to high school diploma holders and a premium of 29.6% compared to associate degree holders.

Degree does not guarantee equal opportunities

In some ways, college degrees can exacerbate income and racial inequalities, such as student debt and the ability to repay that debt, says Marshall Anthony Jr., a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a public policy research organization.

Good About Cash: Doing what you don’t wish to do

By

A few weeks ago, the Good News Network told the story of a gentleman who immediately returned a wallet containing $ 10,000 to his owner. “I never took the idea of ​​keeping the money seriously,” he said. “It’s just easier to do the right thing.”

Nick Maffeo

Of course he’s right. And often in life it is also easier to do what you don’t want to do.

Some examples:

1. This spring, the Boston Globe consumer advocate wrote about a young woman who had signed up for a 2020 summer course at UMass. The course was $ 1,500 and UMass would send her an invoice.

Then she lost interest. “For no particular reason,” she told the Globe. But she never informed UMass. “I didn’t realize I had to drop out,” she said.

When the bill came in for the course, this young lady made a time-consuming attempt to get UMass to waive the $ 1,500 fee.

But, as the Globe consumer advocate noted when he was involved, a student at UMass is considered enrolled until a formal “drop” form is submitted.

The posters in the Globe story comment section pretty much confirmed UMass’ idea that it is a college student’s responsibility to drop out of a class.

It was interesting how much time and energy this young lady put into trying to get the fees waived, including going to the Globe. It would have been so much easier to fill out the drop class form.

She is not unique. Everyone has had several situations in which, in retrospect, it would have been so much easier to take the time to do something they didn’t want to do. And often much less expensive. Failure to act is always an option, but it can be costly – or very costly.

2. At the Canton Cooperative Bank’s last HomeBuyer Info Session, a local realtor pointed out how much work a homebuyer has to do to get an offer in this red-hot seller’s market. He said the “most important and critical part is preparation”. Even if this means selling your current home first, your offer for a new home may be without a home sale contingency.

Selling and moving to a short term rental can be a chore. But it’s another great example of when it can be easier to do what you don’t want to do. (Taking out a bridging loan can be an option, but that too takes time and planning.)

3. A colleague told me about a developing situation where friends and family are very worried about a person who is bored with their job and who spends tens of thousands on seminars and Facebook advertising to start a passive income business.

These “buy my system” options have been around for decades. They used to be seen on late night TV. Now it’s the internet. The reality is that these companies are often unsuccessful.

Silicon Valley executive coach Bryan Franklin said, “So many times have I seen people strive for passive income and instead suffer active losses.”

Finding out the value of an opportunity is critical before starting any savings, retirement plan, available credit card balance, or hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity. Work with an objective local financial expert who can help you avoid going too deep. Pay attention to the concerns of the people who really care. It is not easy to give up a hoped-for dream. But doing what you don’t want to do in a situation like this can absolutely help you avoid an avoidable train wreck.

Nick Maffeo is President and CEO of the Cantonal Cooperative Bank in Canton. Have a question? Email submissions@thecantoncitizen.com.

Short url: https://www.thecantoncitizen.com/?p=75695

Australian sensible metropolis needs to be the subsequent Silicon Valley

A computer generated aerial view of Greater Springfield near Brisbane, Australia.

Springfield City Group

If you drive the sunny coast of Australia’s Gold Coast 25 kilometers outside of Brisbane, you’ll find Greater Springfield, a city that’s different by nature.

You may never have heard of it. Not surprising; The city is not yet 30 years old. But that doesn’t hold it back. In a few years, it could be the next Silicon Valley, says developer Springfield City Group (SCG).

“The world has learned a lot from Silicon Valley,” founder Maha Sinnathamby told CNBC. “We said, this is 85 years old. Let’s design the latest version.”

Sinnathamby is the brains behind Greater Springfield, Australia’s only privately built city and its first planned city since the founding of the capital Canberra more than a century ago. The octagonal real estate tycoon, who has had a 50-year career developing residential and commercial buildings across Australia, said his most recent project, as well as his inspiration Silicon Valley, is about creating a modern business hub based on technology, Education and health care.

We are trying to attract the Microsofts and Googles of the world.

Maha Sinnathamby

Founder and Chairman of the Springfield City Group

And now he’s looking for big-name companies to help him reach the next level of his cherished $ 68 billion vision.

“We’re trying to attract the world’s Microsofts and Googles,” said Sinnathamby, noting that the group is currently in talks with a multinational tech company.

An innovation center for the Asia-Pacific region

Developed on 7,000 acres for $ 6.1 million, Greater Springfield – the 10th largest planned community in the world – is already a living, breathing city that has changed dramatically from the 1992 disused Sinnathamby forestry operation.

Sinnathamby is now home to 46,000 residents, 16,500 homes, 11 schools, a national university campus, a hospital and a railway line that connects it to neighboring Brisbane.

However, it will take more companies to make it a true hub of innovation in the Asia-Pacific region and meet its goals of triple its population and create 52,000 new jobs by 2030. To date, the SCG project has created 20,000 direct and indirect jobs, it said.

“We want to charge it with highly respected companies that are highly talented and want a lot of profit,” said Sinnathamby. “We can’t do this massive job alone.”

Greater Springfield is the first privately built city in Australia and the 10th largest planned master parish in the world.

Springfield City Group

The bait, as Sinnathamby puts it, is the city’s green field, which gives companies like Silicon Valley space to experiment. This includes offering dedicated facilities in which large companies and smaller start-ups can innovate. In the meantime, the “Living Lab” offers space to test new technologies related to intelligent working, living, learning and playing.

Engie SA is a company currently testing the waters. In 2018, the French utility signed a 50-year strategic alliance to make Greater Springfield Australia the first net-zero energy city.

Engie plans to work for the city by 2038 generate more energy than it consumes by focusing on five pillars: urban planning, mobility, buildings, energy and technology. Improving the infrastructure for electric vehicles, prioritizing public transport, building green buildings, introducing solar panels on all available roofs, and maintaining 30% of the area’s land for open green spaces are among the different methods by which this is achieved .

Earlier this month, Sydney start-up Lavo chose Greater Springfield as the production center for its 30-year hydrogen battery set “world first” should be able to supply a house with electricity for two days on a single charge.

Developing a knowledge workforce

The new business will be located in Greater Springfield’s Knowledge Precinct, the city’s main employment hub, designed to attract knowledge workers with skills related to the core pillars of technology, education and healthcare.

Health City, a 128-acre health district developed with Harvard Medical International, will offer world-class healthcare as well as thousands of medical jobs, Sinnathamby said. In the meantime, the city’s growing education network, which includes two new universities and a focus on indigenous communities, will nurture the new generation of professionals, he said.

I want partners to come who are committed to this vision.

Maha Sinnathamby

Founder and Chairman of the Springfield City Group

“We are working very hard to ensure that this knowledge district is not just a gift for Australia, but perhaps the world as well,” said Sinnathamby.

However, the timing of the project cannot be ignored. The pandemic has caused a lot of people Reconsider the attractiveness of major business centers, with some estimates as many as suggest 53% of US tech and media workers have already left the rising cost of living in big cities or are planning to leave them behind.

However, Sinnathamby is confident that his vision for Australia’s future city will stand – and maybe even provide a blueprint for others. With its focus on emerging industries, Greater Springfield appears to have weathered the pandemic better than some other places Unemployment rate of 3.9% compared to Queensland’s nationwide share of 5.9%.

“I’m committed to this as a nation-building project,” said Sinnathamby. “Now I want partners to come who are committed to this vision.”

Good About Cash: Tricks to keep away from on-line scams

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“Phone scams keep coming – here are tips on how to avoid them,” read the headline of a recent Boston Globe consumer protection column.

Nick Maffeo

Tips to Avoid Fraud? In theory good, but with so many scams coming from so many directions, it is best to be aware of the new twists and turns in general as you actively prepare for what you will do when one day you are on the receiving end of a threatening one Message that actually makes you anxious or even terribly anxious.

When I was talking to a local businessman the other day, the “Professional Photographer / Copyright Infringement” scam came up. An email comes with a threat of legal action and a link that the recipient should click to see the allegedly outrageous “copyright infringement” for themselves.

This gentleman had just received the “Professional Photographer / Copyright Infringement” email again that morning but was not concerned because he had seen it about three times before.

The first time he wanted to send the email to his web person in case a photo was innocently misused. But first he came up with the idea of ​​Googling “professional photographer email scams”. Millions of Google results confirmed that it was indeed a scam.

Calmed and relieved, he deleted the scam email and didn’t even bother reaching his web person. When a very similar email came in a few months later and then again the other day, he knew what it was and just hit delete.

Recently, a couple in Hingham lost $ 17,000 to a fraudster who claims to be the police chief. They believed the call was genuine because the main police department business number was on their caller ID. Fear overwhelmed them so quickly that they followed the deceiver’s instructions exactly.

The Hingham police were very sorry about what happened to this couple. They urged people not to rely on caller ID “as it can be changed to display any name or phone number”. That’s 100 percent true.

Perhaps you wouldn’t be afraid of this or that scam. People get better at spotting and ignoring the most common scams.

But scammers keep adapting and specialize in pushing emotional buttons with downright believable claims. One day a scam might “come to you”.

It will be a situation where you fear what you are being told may be true. The scammer will put tremendous pressure on you to act before you have time to think about or control the adrenaline rush, just like the couple in Hingham.

Take this opportunity now, like a fire drill, to plan how you, your family and friends will deal with an “alarming news” that could lead to a “terrible” potential outcome.

First, don’t trust the messenger no matter who he is or what is on the caller ID. Don’t act right away. Break the contact and take a 10-minute break. Get some water. Fraudsters often push for “secrecy”. So, talk to someone who you are sure will keep calm. Think about your options to independently review alarms. Google is a great fraud confirmation tool. Your local police force and bank are resources to you at such a moment as well. Call them on phone numbers given in person from their official websites.

Find out what you’re really dealing with and then your next steps will be clear – especially if it is a scam. If your “prior preparation” prevents you from falling for a scam, spread the word. Tell others what happened and learn how to prepare to save themselves.

Nick Maffeo is President and CEO of Canton Co-operative Bank in Canton. Have a question? Email to submissions@thecantoncitizen.com.

Short url: https://www.thecantoncitizen.com/?p=74644

Interested by shopping for inventory in AMC Leisure, Biolase, Vivint Sensible Residence, Marathon Digital, or Riot Blockchain?

NEW YORK, May 14, 2021 / PRNewswire / – InvestorsObserver issues critical PriceWatch alerts for AMC, BIOL, VVNT, MARA, and RIOT.

To see how InvestorsObserver’s proprietary rating system rates these stocks, check out the InvestorsObserver’s PriceWatch alert by selecting the appropriate link.

(Note: you may need to copy this link into your browser and then press the button [ENTER] Key.)

InvestorsObserver’s PriceWatch alerts are based on our proprietary valuation method. Each stock is valued based on short term technical, long term technical and fundamental factors. Each of these ratings are then combined into an overall rating that determines a stock’s general suitability for investment.

SOURCE InvestorsObserver

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Sensible Cash Podcast: Free Well being Insurance coverage and Discovering Scholarships

Liz Weston: Welcome to the NerdWallet Smart Money podcast, where we answer your personal finance questions and help you feel a little smarter about what you do with your money. I’m Liz Weston.

Sean Pyles: And I’m Sean Pyles. To have your money questions answered on a future episode, turn to the Nerds. Call or text us on the Nerd hotline at 901-730-6373. That’s 901-730-NERD, or email us at [email protected].

Liz: One last plug before we get to the episode, we want to hear from you, our listeners. We put together a quick two-question survey. You can find the link in the episode description. Please take a few seconds to fill it out. We’re always working to improve the show for our listeners, and this is your chance to help.

Sean: On with the show. On this episode, Liz and I answer a listener’s question about how to find scholarships and make higher education more affordable. First, though, in our This Week in Your Money segment, we’re talking about why you might be entitled to free health insurance right now. Liz, you recently wrote an article on just this topic. Can you give us the details of what people should know?

Liz: Absolutely. It’s really surprising how much change there has been with health insurance, but those $1,400 stimulus checks really stole all the headlines, so I think a lot of people missed some of the big changes. One of the biggest had to do with the changes in who qualifies for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges.

Liz: Before the new relief package that President Biden signed in March, people with incomes greater than 400% of the poverty line typically didn’t qualify for subsidies. Now, people with incomes up to 600% of the poverty level can qualify. What that means is if you’re a single person and your income is just under $77,000, you can get a subsidy. If you have a family of four and your income’s about $157,000, again, you can qualify for subsidies. That’s a big change. A lot more people are going to get help.

Sean: I also understand that the relief package that passed in March also reduced premiums for the vast majority of people who get their own health insurance.

Liz: In fact, nearly half of the 29 million people who are now uninsured can qualify for a free plan. That’s a big change, yeah.

Liz: Yeah, it is. If you have income at, I think 150% of the poverty line, which is about $19,000 for a single person and just under $40,000 for a family of four, you can now qualify for zero-premium silver plans with annual deductibles of just $177. There’ve been some reduced cost-sharing measures and some other changes that have made these really affordable.

Sean: One of the other big changes also affects people who receive unemployment, which we know a lot of people have received. One thing that people should know is that if you get unemployment benefits for any part of 2021, you can qualify for a zero-premium silver plan with the ACA.

Liz: I know I’ve been telling my friends about this, and the reaction is, “No, that can’t possibly be true.” But, if you got even a single unemployment benefit check, you can get this free silver plan with all these cost-sharing reductions for free. Go check this out. This is really important.

Sean: Well, that brings me to my next question, which is how people can qualify and find these plans.

Liz: These plans need to be purchased through the Obamacare exchanges, the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Healthcare.gov is where most people can go. If you have a state plan, it will funnel you to your state plan. Otherwise, you can buy your insurance on healthcare.gov. If you already have a policy, the refunds should be automatic. You shouldn’t have to do anything. But, if you don’t have a plan, you should sign up if you qualify.

Sean: We’re currently in a special enrollment period that people can take advantage of through Aug. 15 of this year.

Liz: I wouldn’t wait, because you never want to be without healthcare insurance, but you do have some time to take advantage of these.

Sean: Well, speaking of unemployment, there was also a change to COBRA coverage, where people can get free COBRA coverage.

Liz: When people lose their job, a lot of times their preference is to extend the coverage that they had through their employer, right? You’re familiar with that plan. You’re familiar with that insurer. You just want to keep that going. The problem is, even though you do have access to your employer’s health insurance, typically for up to 18 months, you have to pay the full freight, and that can be extremely expensive. Most employers subsidize your healthcare insurance, even though most people are paying a premium, they’re not paying the full premium. When you suddenly have to do that, a lot of people simply can’t afford that.

Well, this new law says that the government essentially will be paying your insurance, your COBRA premium from April through September. If you don’t qualify for other insurance, if you’ve lost your job and your spouse doesn’t have coverage, for example, you can get this free COBRA coverage for six months. Then, if you’re still unemployed at the end of that, there’s going to be a special enrollment period, so you can hop on the Obamacare exchanges and get your coverage that way.

Sean: That’s a great benefit.

Liz: Yeah, it’s pretty neat. As we mentioned earlier, a lot of people don’t know about this. If you’re in a situation where you don’t have employer-provided coverage, or you recently lost your job, this is something you really want to check into.

Sean: Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your neighbors, tell anyone you know, because they can get free health insurance if they qualify.

With that, let’s get onto this week’s money question.

Sean: This episode’s money question comes from Brittany in Oregon, so she must be my neighbor. She writes, “My questions revolve around my college because I feel lost at the moment. I am currently in my final year for my BA in library science, and I have been trying to figure out if there is some way to help with the blow of student debt before I graduate.” Ooh, I’ve been there before.

“My questions are,” Brittany writes, “one, where do I start looking for scholarships? Two, how do I know what is a scam and what is real? Three, are there advisors aside from my school that I could contact? Four, how come I am not qualified for many of the ones I have found? Thank you so much, Brittany.”

Liz: To help us answer Brittany’s question on this episode of the podcast, we’re joined by student loan Nerd Anna Helhoski.

Sean: Hey Anna, welcome on the podcast.

Anna Helhoski: Thanks for having me, Sean and Liz, appreciate it.

Liz: Anna, let’s start with the basics. What are scholarships?

Anna: Scholarships provide students with free money for college. There are a ton of them out there that are up for grabs, but you have to know where to look, and you also have to qualify for them. Scholarships and grants, unlike student loans, don’t have to be paid back, so they’re really the best first place to start when you’re talking about financing a college education.

Sean: This sounds like a great deal. You’re basically getting some money based on your application. How are scholarships typically awarded?

Anna: They’re usually awarded based on financial need or on merit, or some kind of combination of both need and merit. Scholarships are a lot of times confused with grants, and they essentially do the same thing, but grants are always based on financial need. Both of them are known as gifted.

When you’re looking for a scholarship, availability is really going to vary. They can come from all kinds of places. It could be your school, community groups, private companies or individuals, and national nonprofit organizations. Your school might also award scholarships, especially if it’s a scholarship that’s based on need, or you might have to apply for it. I would say if it doesn’t come from your school, you’re probably going to have to apply. Scholarships are primarily going to be based on family income or merit requirements, as I mentioned, such as GPA or academic or artistic achievements. You might have to apply to them using letters of recommendation, a résumé of your school or volunteer accomplishments, and some kind of an essay.

Sean: You mentioned income, which is something that I wanted to home in on. That’s how I actually was awarded a good amount of scholarships in my undergrad from my very expensive liberal arts college, and it helped me tremendously. Can you go in a little bit about what need-based scholarships look like?

Anna: Yeah. Need-based scholarships usually have some kind of a means test in them. Usually they use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which you need to submit every year in college in order to access federal, state, as well as school financial aid.

Liz: I had a question about the need aspect of it, because my understanding was that if you had a lot of need-based financial aid, if you got a scholarship, that could actually replace one of the grants you got. Is that something that people need to be concerned about?

Anna: It really depends on the kind of aid that you’re talking about. If you’re awarded a federal Pell Grant, for example, that’s never going to be reduced if you win a private scholarship or a scholarship from your school, even if you end up getting a scholarship that exceeds the cost of attendance. The Pell Grant is really based on your estimated family contribution, not on financial need. Any kind of other changes in financial aid don’t really affect the amount of the Pell Grant that you get. But, if you’re awarded multiple scholarships, that could affect any kind of school grants that you might receive, or if you’re even able to accept all of that money, because you can only get financial aid up to the cost of attendance.

Liz: OK. We just want to let people know this might be a possibility, so they don’t break their necks trying to find a scholarship that just winds up leaving them in the same position that they started in.

Sean: All right, I also want to talk about how to find scholarships, because that’s a pretty central part of Brittany’s search as well. How do you think people should go about locating the best ones for them?

Anna: I can honestly say I did not do enough of this when I was an undergrad, and I wish that I had. But, what you need to do is cast a very wide net. The more scholarships that you apply for, the greater your chance of receiving one. But, that doesn’t mean that you should just go about applying for any scholarship that comes to you. The key is really applying for scholarships that you’re going to be eligible for, so ones that you can actually win. Scholarships could be a one-time thing, but the best ones are ones that are going to be renewable each year.

Sean: When I was in college, I applied for scholarships that were specific to my niche, so LGBT student scholarships and also journalism student scholarships. I’m wondering if this is still a good route for students to go.

Anna: It definitely is, and I also got a journalism student scholarship, so I know how that went. Niche scholarships are really the ones where you can distinguish yourself. That could be through volunteer work, club membership, athletics, classes or what you plan to study. But, you really can find scholarships that are also related to identity, could be by race or ethnicity, LGBTQ identity, religion, community, where you live, hobbies, interests, any kind of volunteering that you do, civic involvement, if your family member has military status, could also go by immigration status or nontraditional student status. That could be being a parent, an older student or if you’ve just received a GED.

Liz: I want to circle back to what you said about renewable scholarships. This was something that you had experience with, right?

Anna: I did. My freshman year of college, I ended up getting quite a few scholarships, and that really helped pay for my expensive liberal arts college. But, that was really just a freshman year scholarship. I ended up needing to actually transfer to a state school because it just wasn’t going to be affordable for me anymore to try and attend a college in the middle of Manhattan when I really couldn’t afford that after my first year. A lot of times when you front load a lot of financial aid, that can put you in that same kind of position, where, sure, you can afford your college your freshman year, or maybe even your sophomore, but as time goes on, it’s just going to end up being more expensive and you could end up taking on more debt that’s going to be really difficult to repay after you graduate.

Liz: We should also talk about where to look for these scholarships. We talked about finding the ones where you can distinguish yourself, but where do you actually go to find them?

Anna: Using the U.S. Department of Labor scholarship search tool is kind of my go-to when I’m giving anyone advice on looking for a scholarship. But you should also talk to your own school. If you’re in high school, talk to your guidance counselor. If you’re in college, talk to your school’s financial aid office.

There also could be industry organizations related to your field of study that you might want to look into. You can search locally at community organizations, local businesses, religious organizations or civic groups. You also could inquire about scholarships that might be sponsored by your parent’s employer or your own employer. Then, of course, there are a ton of scholarship databases; Cappex.com, Scholly, College Board, the Ultimate Scholarship Book, Fast Web, Big Future, Scholarship America, Unigo, there’s a ton of them out there. It’s also going to be really important that, once you have your big list of scholarships that you want to apply for, to pay attention to those deadlines. Make that list early, take note of the dates so that you can really keep track.

Sean: All right, so Brittany was also worried about scholarship scams. How can people identify whether a scholarship they’re looking into is legitimate or not?

Anna: Yeah, so this one’s tough, because you want to believe that anybody giving you free money is just going to hand it over, right? You really need to be careful where you apply and what kind of information that you’re providing. Some signs of a scam could be pressure tactics, so they’re pushing for money or personal information a little bit too quickly. They want your bank account or credit card information right upfront. They want you to pay a fee to guarantee that you’ll win by paying money, even if they say there’s some kind of a money-back guarantee if you don’t. The FTC actually says that oftentimes those guarantees come with some kind of a condition that make it pretty much impossible to get your money back. Your safest bet is to try and stick with free scholarship search services.

There are also ones that are asking you to submit your FAFSA for a processing fee. Those aren’t technically illegal, but in order to submit the FAFSA, you’ll need to provide them documentation and information that you would need to gather anyway, so it’s really best to do it yourself, since the hardest part is gathering all of that personal and financial information together.

Sean: It seems like the elements that help anyone identify any kind of scam are relevant here, too. Where someone’s trying to get your bank account information, and they’re trying to get your personal information, they’re trying to get you to pay for something that you shouldn’t have to pay for. Those are common red flags across all personal finance decisions that you might be dealing with a scam.

Anna: The FTC also lists some kind of telltale lines about scholarship scams on its website, like the scholarship’s guaranteed or your money back, or you can’t get this information anywhere else, or we’ll do all the work, you just pay a processing fee. Those are all going to be come-ons that are not going to be true and could very well lead you to be getting scammed.

Sean: All right. What should someone do if they think they have been scammed?

Anna: If you have been scammed and you have given them some personal information, or you have handed over your bank account information, halt all payments if you’ve provided that, and you also may want to freeze any credit cards that could be on file with one of these predatory companies. Then, you definitely want to file a complaint. File with the FTC, file with your state attorney general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau so that they can log this.

Liz: We might also recommend that they freeze their credit, because if they’re handing over all this personal information, it might not just be a one-off. It could be sold to other bad guys or used in other ways.

OK, so Brittany was also interested in contacting advisors who can help her. What’s your advice about that?

Anna: I always go for the free ones first. Your best advisor would really be your guidance counselor at your high school, or your school’s financial aid office or advising office. But, there are coaches and mentors and consultants that you can pay to help you get into college, get scholarships, etc. But, those services can be costly, hundreds of dollars or some kind of a monthly fee. They might be able to help you, but there’s no guarantee that that will be the case, so it really depends on your comfort level.

Sean: One thing I want to talk about is how folks aren’t going to get approved for every scholarship they apply for, which can be pretty demoralizing. I had that experience when I was applying when I was in college. I’m wondering what some common reasons are that people might not be granted the scholarship that they do apply for.

Anna: You might not meet the requirements. That usually is there, especially if it’s some kind of a niche scholarship, or if there is a financial need component that you really just don’t fit. There also could just be a lot of competition. Unless it’s a local-only scholarship, where you’re not really competing with a ton of people, it’s best to try to apply for scholarships that you definitely can fit the bill. You don’t want to apply for a scholarship whose criteria you really don’t meet, because the competition for most scholarships is pretty high. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep looking. Really figure out what it is about you that’s unique, or how you can fit your experiences or your volunteerism into some kind of a niche category. There’s probably a scholarship for you out there, but you’re just really going to have to look for it. Try and talk to your school counselor about your options, and look through an online database or two.

Liz: Do you have any other tips for how people can minimize college expenses?

Anna: Definitely. Scholarships are great, but so are other gift aid, like grants and work study, if you’re eligible. Maximizing all kinds of free aid can really help you then keep your student debt low. Most students are going to have to take on some kind of a student loan debt in order to go to college. There is really a hierarchy of financial aid that we try and follow, so that’s maxing out all free aid first before turning to federal loans, and eventually private loans, if you do need them. But, it really all starts with submitting the FAFSA.

Sean: I have another question that is outside of the realm of what Brittany was wondering about, and I’ll admit is kind of in the self-interest of my household, specifically my partner, who is going to be entering grad school in the fall. I’m wondering if you have any advice for people who are looking for scholarships or ways to make grad school more affordable.

Anna: Yeah. I mean, first off, congrats to your partner. Grad school enrollment is really up right now, so that’s really great to hear. Scholarships for grad school, similar rules are really going to apply, but you might want to look for some grad-school-specific scholarships. Again, start with that U.S. Department of Labor scholarship search tool. But this could also be an opportunity to really check in with professional associations, especially if you’re going to grad school after having been in the workforce for a little while. Some grad-school-specific search engines are Go Grad, Sallie Mae Grad School Scholarship Search, but you can also find them on Fast Web, Big Future, Scholarship America, etc.

Liz: OK, so we’ve been focusing on scholarships, but grad schools kind of work differently than undergraduate anyway. Are there other options for reducing your expenses?

Anna: Yeah, so many grad and PhD programs are actually designed to offset your expenses. They’ll pay your tuition and fees, and in exchange you teach courses. But not all programs are like this, or they may have limited slots, depending on the program.

Sean: All right, I have one last thing I want to throw at you, Anna, and also this is for you, Liz, and for me to talk about a little bit, too. We got another listener question from Andrea, who is wondering whether it is, quote, in their words, “A really stupid idea to put tuition on a credit card for the zero APR period, and then continue to transfer the balance to future similar cards until it’s paid off.” For a little bit of additional context, they said their tuition will be somewhere between $35K and $95K, their credit score is currently over 800, and that they’ve done this before with other credit card debt. Throwing that out there, anyone take a little bit of that information and let’s talk about it.

Anna: Sure. You technically can use a credit card to pay for college, but it’s kind of a bad idea. Schools aren’t like other merchants, they usually charge convenience fees that are pretty high, so that could be around 2.75% up to 3%, maybe even higher. That can end up costing you more than the rewards on that card might actually net you. Usually you have to get rid of your balance fast to take advantage of those 0% interest periods, and even if you end up juggling the balance using different zero interest cards, you can get hit with transfer fees. Then if that zero interest period runs out, you’re looking at a pretty high interest rate compared with federal student loans.

Say you have $35,000 on a credit card, as the reader estimated was on the low side of her potential balance. If you have an 18% interest rate and want to make a minimum payment of $350 a month — that’s around the typical student loan payment, by the way — your payment wouldn’t even cover the interest. Your more realistic monthly payment would be closer to $800. You’d end up paying over $22,000 in interest, and it would take you six years to pay it off.

Sean: That’s a nightmare.

Anna: Yeah, so your much better bet is to take a federal student loan at a low interest rate. It’s currently 2.75% for undergrad and 4.30% for direct unsubsidized loans for grad students.

Liz: One thing I have noticed is people who do use these balance transfer offers tend to expect them to always be available. As we know now, that’s not always true. When the economy goes bad or lenders start to get nervous, even great credit scores might not guarantee your approval, or you might not get a large enough credit limit to move the whole balance over, and then you’re in that situation that Anna just talked about, where you’re paying incredibly high interest on this debt.

Sean: What makes me a little bit nervous about this is that, I’m sure that at some point in Andrea’s life, a curve ball is going to come her way, and maybe she will miss a payment on something, she’s on vacation and just forgets to pay a bill one day. Anything could happen that could make her credit score go beneath 800. That could make it go beneath the point where she’d even qualify for one of these cards, and then she’s kind of out of luck.

Anna: Weirdly, [federal] loans provide you a safety net. They provide you with opportunities for loan forgiveness, but also income-driven repayment plans that tie your payments to a portion of your income. They really are just a better idea.

Sean: OK. Well, you said the word student loan forgiveness, so I have to ask you as someone who reports on this a lot, what are your current thoughts, if you could look into a crystal ball about what folks’ odds are that they might get some student loan forgiveness this year?

Anna: I’m not going to place any bets. However, signs are sort of starting to point in the direction that we could at least see some kind of a proposal. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen in Congress. That is very clear by how hard Congress is pushing Joe Biden to make an executive order on this. Now, at this point, we’re really just in a wait-and-see.

Sean: All right, well, thank you so much. If that happens, we might drag you back to talk about it.

Sean: OK. Well, thank you for talking with us, Anna.

Anna: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Sean: With that, let’s get on to our takeaway tips. First up, leave no rock unturned when looking for scholarships. The more scholarships you apply for, the greater your chances are of receiving one.

Liz: Next, also focus on your applications. You may be more likely to win a scholarship that’s specific to your niche.

Sean: Lastly, know how to spot scams. Common red flags are scholarships that use pressure tactics or ask for your bank or credit card information.

Liz: That’s all we have for this episode. Do you have a money question of your own? Turn to the Nerds and call or text us your questions at 901-730-6373. That’s 901-730-NERD. You can also email us at [email protected]. Also, visit nerdwallet.com/podcast for more information on this episode, and remember to subscribe, rate, and review us wherever you’re getting this podcast.

Sean: Here is our brief disclaimer, thoughtfully crafted by NerdWallet’s legal team. Your questions are answered by knowledgeable and talented finance writers, but we are not financial or investment advisors. This Nerdy info is provided for general educational and entertainment purposes and may not apply to your specific circumstances.

Liz: With that said, until next time, turn to the Nerds.

Cash Good: How will stimulus checks be spent?

The third round of federal stimulus checks will be distributed to the Americans. Depending on who you ask, here’s how the money is likely to be spent.

SAN ANTONIO – The third round of federal stimulus testing is gradually being distributed to Americans. Depending on who you ask, here’s how the money is likely to be spent.

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a historic $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The legislation is designed to help the economy by providing financial aid to the struggling Americans. The relief plan calls for payments of $ 1,400 for most Americans. The checks are based on the recipient’s most recent tax return.

There are some polls that show various snapshots of how Americans are going to spend the money. According to Mizuho Securities, an investment banking and securities firm, some people plan to invest in stocks and bitcoin. However, according to data from a US Census Bureau survey and a US Bank survey, people reported that they plan to use the money to pay off debts.

“I think if people really need these stimulus checks, they’re going to be using them for all sorts of things that suit their needs, not their needs. I don’t know if as many people are getting money on the stock market with their stimulus checks as reported, ”said Karl Eggerss, Senior Wealth Advisor Partner of Federation. “The most recent round of stimulus has a lower income threshold, so not so many people are receiving the stimulus.”

While the aid package is supposed to save the Americans, Eggerss stressed that it will have an impact on the economy.

“Unfortunately, it’s a lot of money that is likely to be wasted. You think of $ 1.9 trillion. We would have fought against it over a year ago, ”said Eggerss. “This money doesn’t come from a helicopter for free, $ 1,400 checks. It has to be repaid by the next generation at some point. It usually does this through inflation or taxes. We actually saw gasoline prices go up. We have seen the prices of wood go up, we have seen all kinds of raw material prices go up. That’s inflation. “

The IRS has a so-called “Get My Payment” tool online on its website. Click here to check it out the status of your check.

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