Where Is NYCHA Housing Money Going?

The bitter cold spread everywhere in my apartment as I clung to my coat and blanket for warmth. Not a single whit of heat came through the visible pipes. Doing tasks such as completing my homework is difficult when the only way to feel warm is bundling up on the couch. As a tenant who lives on the fifth floor of a six-story New York City public housing building, heat getting cut off in the middle of winter happens regularly.

Our problems at Amsterdam Housing don’t stop at a lack of heat; we also have to deal with no hot water, the elevator breaking down and a slew of neglected repairs in apartments. Sadly, people in other housing projects managed by the New York City Housing Agency face similar conditions. Some people, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio, may believe that these issues are caused by lack of funding but others believe that the bulk of the agency’s problems actually revolve around waste and inept administration.

NYCHA has now admitted to their illegal cover-ups and failure to provide decent housing for their tenants after agreeing to a consent decree with federal officials on Monday.

I’ve called the public housing complex home since I was 5 years old, and since I’ve come of age, I’ve begun to question the reason behind the broken state of my housing complex. Anyone living anywhere else would be appalled at these conditions and would demand immediate change.

NYCHA never takes responsibility for repairs or maintenance when tenants call to complain, but agency workers expect residents to follow their ridiculous rules.

Danielle Jones, 27, is annoyed with having to follow strict rules while the Housing Authority cannot do their job properly.

“I hate it,” said Jones. “They want so much and give so little.”

Jones says that she constantly deals with a lack of hot water and heat in her apartment. She resents that NYCHA takes months to fix the issues in her apartment, but expects tenants to pay rent on time. Another tenant, who prefers to remain anonymous, called the Housing Authority two times to fix the lights in his kitchen and received no response in return.

Even the front door is an inconvenience, leaving seniors to struggle to push and pull the door on a daily basis.

Universal Problem

My building is in horrible condition, but there are other housing complexes that suffer from even worse conditions. In 2016, the Ali family, a family of 10, were living with no bathroom and kitchen at the Queensbridge Houses, preventing the family from showering or drinking water. Their toilet even exploded at one point. Due to the horrible conditions, NYCHA had to pay to move the family to a local hotel for a week.

Out of desperation, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer invited local news affiliate ABC and their investigative series, 7 On Your Side, so that NYCHA would pay attention to these problems.

The Alis aren’t alone, as there are countless families in similar situations. For instance, Norma Concepcion, a resident at Canarsie Breukelen Houses in Brooklyn, had to send her 11-year-old son to live with his grandmother because the mold in their apartment was affecting his asthma. Concepcion no longer calls NYCHA for repairs because NYCHA inspectors only have residents sign forms to show that they inspected apartments, but never return to actually fix the issues for which they were called in to inspect.

It was widely considered wasteful when NYCHA spent $10 million dollars on a report from Boston Consulting Group that documented the issues of NYCHA.

Board members of NYCHA even established an “internal purposes only” clause to keep the data report hidden from the public eye.

To make sure taxpayer money is used efficiently, NYCHA’s management has to be monitored. It is frustrating having to pay to fix problems that are not improving because of poor management, especially when tenants speak out and experience no action in return.

Illegal Coverups

In federal court on Monday, an 80-page civil complaint document was released by Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney in Manhattan. According to de Blasio, NYCHA chose to accept the consent decree rather than face trial. The consent decree allows the court to appoint management to monitor the $1.2 billion dollars in funds for the next five years, including the $200 million that is given to the agency every year. During the federal investigation of NYCHA, numerous illegal coverups were discovered that go against basic human rights.

It was uncovered that between 2010 and 2016, about 19 children were contaminated by lead poisoning due to peeling paint in apartments. In some housing complexes, staff members will shut off water before inspectors arrived so ongoing leaks will not be visible and turn it back on when they leave. NYCHA even had the audacity to give out how-to manuals for their maintenance workers to cover up problems, such as replacing doors and windows with plywood to hide the deteriorated conditions.

The agency needs extensive management reform because it is inexcusable that children and tenants have to live under such horrible conditions.

These problems engender the direst situations, but they can be fixed. I have hope these changes will be addressed because nothing lasts forever.  

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How Financial Planning Can Make Us Money

Studies show that a financial plan — if it is in-depth — can save us all tons of money. But very few Americans are aware of this fact! A helpful financial plan is one that helps manage details such as savings, investments, planning for retirement, education, emergencies, major purchases and other things like that. There are so many expenses, so why not consolidate them into one cohesive, handleable document or “plan?”

A study conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards shows that only 35 percent of Americans have a plan in place should an emergency arise. The same survey showed that a comprehensive savings plan benefited those even in the lowest income brackets, effectively dispelling the myth that only the rich can benefit from these plans.

“The way you get into the higher income bracket is to have a financial plan,” said Tom Pemberton, a certified financial planner and owner of Charlotte-based DBA Pemberton Financial Planning. The sooner you start making financial decisions, the sooner you know where you want to go. And if you have a plan to get there, you are more likely to attain it. But, if you’re still not convinced:

Don’t have goals? Fin-plans can help you make ’em

The first step to making a plan is, er, figuring out what plan you want to make. Sometimes just sitting down to complete this exercise is enough to jog your mind about what it is you aspire to financially and how you plan to get there. And no, you can’t just think about this at the grocery store or while out for a jog. The act of sitting down and making “a day of it,” makes all the difference in the world.

Got some goals now? Fin-plans will tell you if they’re realistic

You can get a financial planner to do what is called a “cost-benefit” analysis (or do it yourself if you’re bold enough!) to see if you have realistic goals or if owning 30 private jets is just simply not in the cards for you. But generally, according to Pemberton, “it’s usually not that the goals aren’t attainable. It’s that the [allotted] timeline isn’t attainable.” People very often underestimate how long it will take to save. And especially in this climate, it most likely takes longer than you expect to save for that house or for that retirement!

Now, get these goals of yours rollin’, through savin’

Once you have goals — and have made them realistic — you now need to find a way to get your act together, financially speaking. In what manner, and how much, do you need to save in order to reach your goals? You need to ask yourself (or your financial planner) this question. You can’t spend more money than you take in. That one is a no-brainer. But going in-depth and really analyzing your expenses comprehensively often surprises people. Pemberton notes that people often say things like “‘I had no idea I was spending that much on Starbucks!”

Keeping track of progress

Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll likely want to see how fast it is rolling every so often. Just like once you start hitting the gym, you begin looking obsessively in the mirror three times a day to check for a budding six pack (just me? Oops). By setting up measurable, trackable goals, you will know just how well you are doing. Or when you need to tighten the belt even further, and in which areas specifically. Then you can say, a year from now, ‘“Did I accomplish my goals for this year?” Instead of letting it be a guessing game.

Outside help can be crazy helpful

Outside experts are not only experts … they are impartial. Unbiased. And they aren’t going to sugar-coat your financial situation for you. That is, if you are eating sushi every day, you might be too enamored of the food to realize just how damaging that decision is to your finances. Your financial planning expert will let you know, be sure of it! They also can reveal money-making opportunities that you had absolutely no idea even existed. Examples include not taking advantage of flexible spending plans at work or passing up the company 401(k) matching policies that many companies have. Pemberton says that these plans are “a guaranteed 100 percent return on investment.” That sounds pretty good!

Do you know what you’re doing!?

Okay. That sounded dramatic. But do you know, though? Because financial experts can help you see the error of your ways. Things that you never even thought of. That is, you might be taking huge risks that you weren’t aware of. Kind of like driving down a highway in Kansas during a category 10 hurricane (are hurricanes measured in categories? Do they reach 10? I don’t know.) all because you never heard the news’ emergency alert. You are putting yourself in extreme danger. Although this is grim, a lot of Americans don’t provide for things like potential disabilities, injuries or death that could saddle loved ones with loads of debt.

Money, money, monayy

Yep. Devising a financial plan will help you build wealth, too. The CFP Board survey showed that those with a plan also have more money saved and are more likely to pay their credit card bills in full. Notably, even those who make less than $25,000 are more likely to pay their credit card bill if they have a plan than people who make from $25,000 to $49,999 and don’t have a plan — 41 to 26 percent.

So here’s one way to begin

 

  1. Set goals.
  2. Calculate where your money goes.
  3. Get that employer match.
  4. Prepare for emergencies.
  5. Attack toxic debt.
  6. Invest to really grow your savings.
  7. Create a “moat” to protect and grow financial well-being.

That’s one of many basic setups (and really just a ‘for example’), but you also never can go wrong by scheduling an appointment with a financial advisor. The expenditure is minimal in comparison to the payoffs!

Takeaway

Financial advisors can help you figure out how to manage your money, meet your financial goals and even build your wealth. You don’t need to be rich to develop a financial plan. You don’t even need to hire a financial planning expert, although they are certainly worth the money and can really straighten out your finances in a clear and manageable way. But, if not, there are a million sources for how to start developing your financial plan, not just the above blueprint. A simple Google search will show you a myriad of financial planning methods. They are all different, but they all have your financial security in mind. So get to it!

 

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Advice For A Millennial Starting Their First Real Job

Oftentimes, when we start a new job, it can be daunting, to say the least — new people, new responsibilities, a new space to navigate. Plus, where is the freaking bathroom?! Argh!

As a result, people often perform poorly in their first real jobs. This is because they are confused, anxious and unaware of what it is they are exactly doing there (and what is expected of them). They are like Dorothy in Oz. Straight up: Where am I? What am I doing here? And can I survive it all? The answer is yes, and no. Yes, if you know what it is that you need to know. And no, if you just show up after rolling out of bed with absolutely zero preparation whatsoever.

Before anything else

Make sure your résumé is an honest one. And no, not because God will strike you down for your absence of ethics. The reason for this is because you never know who is going to unabashedly fact-check your butt. Employers will either call your references, dig into your resume, try to catch you in a lie, or all three. So, if you have been honest, the truth will roll from off of your tongue like butter (read: don’t eat butter), but if you are lying, it is easy to trip up on your lies.

Don’t lie about any of these things: educational background, professional history or skills. Heck, don’t even lie about whether or not you like dogs. The boss might have a Yorkie, after all. Instead, showcase the skills that you do have, and things should go alright for you. Plus, lying is stressful anyway.

Your first job might be … first-job-like

That is to say, you should expect some grunt work. You don’t get to be outraged or indignant about this. After all, you have zero work experience. Therefore, you have no right to “deserve better” as so many people feel they do these days. Sometimes, in fact, all of the time, we have to pay our dues before we move onto something bigger and better. This is something many — especially millennials, it seems – have forgotten. So be humble and complete what is put in front of you, with enthusiasm and a strong work ethic! If it sucks… you might have to fake it until you make it! 

W4? What’s a W4?

Before your first job, you should be sure to be aware of all the forms that you will come into contact with. Especially the W-4 form. This is the form that you will fill out at the beginning of your employment or anytime your financial situation changes so that your employer knows how much tax should be withheld from your paycheck. You should also have your ID and Social Security number handy for your W-4 needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either! Especially to the people in the Human Resources department. That is their job, after all!

Net versus gross

Gross income is what you earn before taxes, deductions and garnishments are taken out. You might make $5,000 a month in gross income, but if you pay $1,000 in taxes, $350 for health and dental insurance, and $500 in 401(k) deductions, your net income is $3,150 per month. Be sure you know and can compute the difference!

Dress appropriately

If your first job is at an office, then don’t go dressed looking as if you are the Billabong sponsor with fresh shades, a beanie and a tank top. Conversely, if you work at a coffee shop, the owner and manager probably will want you to look approachable. For this reason, it is probably not the best idea to be wearing a suit or tuxedo (read: never wear a tuxedo).

Prepare your direct deposit beforehand

Not only because it will be easy for you and more time-effective, but you will want to minimize all the possibilities for your competency to be undermined in the eyes of your manager or boss. Things like not knowing about all your forms is one way to undermine yourself. Another way to undermine your competency is to not have your direct deposit prepared. So, open up a checking account with a local or national bank or credit union and make sure you are able to be paid through direct deposit. You can also link a savings account and set up automatic savings transfers. Having a bank account will make the transition to full-time work easier. As for the savings account, let’s be honest, we all could stand to be saving more!

Know your commute time

If you drive, or take a bike, or roller skate, or ride a pony, or a dragon-like Daenerys Targaryen – it doesn’t matter. Just know how long it takes to arrive to work by each one of your rotating methods. If you fail to plan for commute time, you could risk being late during your first week, leaving a bad first impression. It’s another opportunity to look incompetent! Also. FYI. It is better to be too early than to be late. Always.

Positivity/Professionalism

Two main qualities that every employer expects and desires from their new employee are positivity and professionalism. Especially true with a first timer, as their employment is essentially, for the employer, taking a leap of faith and sticking out their neck. You should be doing everything it takes to make your employer’s investment on you pay off, and make it so that your employer doesn’t regret taking a chance with you. Always do too much work rather than too little, and be too nice rather cynical. If someone treats you poorly, you should double-down on your kindness, not treat them in-kind. You can only lose by being petty and getting angry, defensive, or, dare I say it, making an attempt to undermine or embarrass them. Always take the high road. Keep your eye on the prize — your career.

Takeaway and looking ahead

Millennials should go into their first job with an open-minded, professional and positive attitude. They have a lot to prove, while those with whom they will work have less to prove. So always try harder, work longer and generally strive to be better. Lastly, always be forward-looking and ambitious. Always keep your long-term goals in mind. Without paving a road for yourself, how would you know in which direction to move, after all? Good luck!

 

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Handling Medical Bills … That You Can’t Pay

These days, a stay in the hospital can easily run us into the ground, financially speaking. A single hospital bill can hit five figures relatively easily. Once you add up the cost of a bed, an MRI, a million other things, etc., it gets pricey. According to the Federal Reserve, the credit scores of two in five Americans were negatively affected by medical bills. One in six credit reports contains a medical debt. Having said that, sometimes we receive a bill in the mail and it is literally (literally!) Ka-ba-jillion dollars more than you expected it to be. But you still have to deal with it. You can’t just go move to Alaska and live in the woods, hunting bears for dinner. So, here are some ways to tackle these situations where you find yourself with a medical bill that you cannot afford to pay.

Read the bill 17 times

OK, maybe not that many times. But, sometimes pencil-pushers make mistakes. The difference between some pencil pushers and medical pencil pushers is that a mistake with a medical pencil pusher can be the difference between a manageable and an unpayable medical bill. Billing mistakes do happen! Don’t let them charge you for all those costly head injury/concussion meds if you only had ankle surgery.

Don’t run

Don’t run away. You’re not badass enough to survive in the wild, wild West. Oh yeah, and the wild, wild West doesn’t exist anymore. Like aforementioned, unless you plan on living in the woods, you are going to have to face these bills eventually. Phone calls on phone calls on phone calls is what you have to expect if you ignore the bill. Plus your credit score will take a hefty hit.

Credit cards are tempting, but…

We get it. You just want to get the debt collectors off of your back. It is really tempting to just pay with a credit card. But that, my friend, is a slippery slope. This could lead to a never-ending cycle of debt due to high interest payments, and that sucks, as we all already know. Of course, this will also have a negative effect on your credit score. Unlike other payments, medical payments can be negotiated. Usually, it is just the amount of time given to make the payment, but sometimes even the amount of the payment can be negotiated. As long as you pay something, and set up a payment plan, you can get by making smaller payments for a while.

Prompt pay discounts

If you have just almost enough to pay the bill, you might want to consider a prompt pay discount. Some hospital and chill doctors will offer a one-time discount for paying your bill in one lump sum within 30 days. Upwards of 10 percent can be taken off. Some experts suggest asking for even more of a discount. You can get some ammunition for your argument by using the Healthcare Bluebook to see what other nearby hospitals or doctors charge for the type of care you received. If you were charged significantly more, you can argue you deserve a price reduction. If you are literally broke, and can’t pay a cent however…

Apply for financial assistance

A lot of people need FA, so don’t feel bad. That’s the first step here: not feeling bad. Feeling bad only debilitates you. So just accept you’re in this position, and move onto the next step, which is asking the hospital what sort of financial assistance plans they offer. At some, you have to apply for Medicaid first (under 26 and earn less than $15,856? You are definitely eligible). Other hospitals keep things a little bit more simple, although the paperwork is up to the ceiling. You just gotta deal with it.

Here’s a list of 35 other medical assistance programs that can help you get your medical bills covered.

Collection agencies. Ugh.

If your bills have been sent to a collection agency, well then you should just go live in the woods. Actually wait, no, because you still have recourse. That does suck. But here’s what you can do:

  1. Hopefully, it is an internal collection agency and not a third-party debt collector who is just foaming at the mouth to send information to the credit bureau and ruin you.
  2. Know what collectors can do and what they cannot do. Know your rights! First things first. They are not legally allowed to call you at unreasonable hours. Those who do so are breaking the law (before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. are no-gos).

They also can’t:

  • Call you at work if you’ve asked them not to
  • Threaten to sue you without significant reason
  • Tell you that you have committed a crime by not paying
  • Threaten to tell others about your debt (except for your lawyer or spouse)

Debt collectors are not allowed to threaten you. Talking to them can quickly start to feel like you are on the wrong side of a mafioso’s attitude. But don’t get intimidated, these seeming renegades are still bound by the law. They can’t threaten you. For this reason, make sure you are recording any phone conversations that you have with debt collectors in case you need proof of illegal behavior. Once you have come to a civil agreement on a payment plan, make sure to get that plan in writing so nobody can make a claim that you aren’t paying on-time. And all payments that you make should also be in writing so that you can prove that you paid what you said that you paid.  Don’t ever pay any medical bill in cash.

You can offer to pay a little something if you can’t pay in full immediately. Debt collectors, despite their job description, will usually be amenable to this. Be firm and offer to pay what you can and when you can — within the bounds of reason, of course. Expect a few counteroffers, as it is their jobs. But stick to your guns.

Takeaway

It is very unfortunate to have to deal with stressful and exorbitant medical bills after having a likely stressful and traumatic injury that necessitated your need to enter a hospital in the first place, but that is the world we live in. So learning how to deal with those ginormous bills if and when they arrive is an indispensable skill set to have in your pocket.

 

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The NYSE Is Developing Its Own Bitcoin Platform

Although major traditional financial institutions have long ignored Bitcoin, and the digital currency market in general, it looks like this stubborn resistance of a new and perhaps lasting digital trend might be coming to an end. It seems that the New York Stock Exchange wants in on cryptocurrency, which signifies a greater acceptance on Wall Street in general, most likely. If Goldman Sachs’ entrance into the world of cryptocurrency just a few weeks earlier is any indication, the financial power brokers and the big wigs in the traditional world of money-management are now demanding access to Bitcoin and other online currency platforms.

What the heck is this stuff?

The main — or at least most popular — cryptocurrencies are known as “Bitcoin,” “LightCoin” and “Ethereum.” These are, quite simply, digital money that is bought online. But that is probably the most simple aspect to it. With these currencies, there are no bills or coins, and they are not based in another asset such as gold. Also, they do not go through any traditional financial institutions such as banks. They are completely decentralized systems that use “blockchain technologies” to track transactions.

Wait, wait, wait. Hold up. Blockchain?

First off, blockchain technology can be distributed but not copied. This, you could say, is the backbone, or the motor, of this technology. It is how it got its visibility as such a game-changing and ingenious concept in the first place. It is what is so secure about this technological money-management innovation called cryptocurrency. It was originally devised for the digital currency known as Bitcoin — the first cryptocurrency to gain popular traction — but, interestingly, is now being used for other technologies that could benefit from enhanced transactional security. But here’s a quick breakdown of how it works:

  1. Someone requests a transaction and that transaction is then broadcast to a P2P network that consists of “nodes,” AKA computers.
  2. The node network — or series of computers — validates this transaction. In other words, the network vets it — as well as the user’s status. This is done through various algorithms.
  3. After this process, the transaction is considered complete. As the last step, a new “block” is added to an existing “blockchain” in a way that is permanent, unalterable and virtually unhackable.

Now that that’s out of the way

To purchase something with Bitcoin, a Bitcoin client — let’s call her Diane — has to log into her “Bitcoin wallet.” To do this, Diane uses a unique combination of letters and numbers. Of course, usually, the transaction would get sent to two banks, one on each side of the transaction (let’s call the receiver Tom). These banks then record the transaction by subtracting from Diane’s account and adding to Tom’s account. However, here, the transaction is not shared with any centralized facilitators, but instead, with everybody in the Bitcoin network. This particular transaction is then added to a shared list of recent transactions (that’s the blockchain we defined earlier. The block is a transaction. And the blockchain is all the recent transactions on the Bitcoin platform).

An odd detail

This is a bit weird, I know. But after the blockchain is formed, to ensure that each block of transactions on the chain is verified, a subset of the Bitcoin network joins a race to solve a very difficult algorithmic math puzzle. And whoever solves it first gets the honor of having their record of the block of transactions be the official record of the block of transactions. They are also rewarded with some Bitcoins of their own. And the new network gains another block on the chain as a result.

That is where this whole “mining” thing you have been hearing about comes from. But instead of mining for rock or precious ore, what is being “mined for” are extremely difficult puzzles. Or technological rock basically. The fact that many computers are competing to verify a block ensures that no single computer can monopolize the Bitcoin market. The puzzle becomes harder when more computers join the race in order to ensure that the race stays fair and equally timed for all competitors involved. Bitcoin protocol says that mining continues until there are 21 million Bitcoins in existence. That is supposed to happen around 2140, if Bitcoin lasts that long. Why 2140, you ask? Who knows. Just go with it.

If Bitcoin lasts that long

That brings us to the topic du jour. Is Bitcoin picking up some credibility-steam here? Well, it looks that way, considering that the New York Stock Exchange is now working on a Bitcoin-trading platform. It is not exactly the NYSE, but its parent company, that is said to be developing its very own market for Bitcoin. This new online-exchange will be geared toward heavy-hitters in the investment arena. By the way, this is the kind of investment behemoth that the cryptocurrency founders have been waiting for so anxiously. Could this be a big moment in the cryptocurrency history?

Although the whole undertaking could still fall apart, backing from Intercontinental Exchange (The NYSE’s parent company) is a good sign for the currency’s longevity. Or, at least, for its initial success. According to the report, delivered to The New York Times, “the new [online currency] operation at ICE would provide more direct access to Bitcoin by putting the actual tokens in the customer’s account at the end of the trade.” The operation would still be undertaken, however, through a series of “contract swaps” that ultimately deliver Bitcoin to a client’s account.

Directly from the NYT’s report:

“The swap contract is more complicated than an immediate trade of dollars for Bitcoin, even if the end result is still ownership of a certain amount of Bitcoin. But a swap contract allows the trading to come under the regulation of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and to operate clearly under existing laws — something today’s Bitcoin exchanges have struggled to do.”

NYSE’s parent company is endeavoring to introduce a revolutionary element to the cryptocurrency business, not merely planning on just getting involved. It is possible that these swap contracts with have greater appeal with cryptocurrency investors who are looking to eschew the institutional banking’s more entrenched players.

Why now? Why?!

Well, it could be theorized that, after hearing about how Goldman Sachs will be opening up its very own Bitcoin trading operation, the NYSE got a bit antsy — maybe even developed some FOMO. The difference is that the NYSE will be diving in headfirst, instead of merely dipping its toes, like Goldman Sachs has done. Goldman Sachs, however, will be actually be dealing solely with contracts that are linked to rises and falls in the price of bitcoin, and not actually in Bitcoin itself. For Goldman Sachs, the decision to invest in cryptocurrency came as a result of an overwhelming interest on behalf of its clients.

Takeaway

Bitcoin has risen to the dizzying height — monetarily speaking — of more than $10,000 a share. And many believe that a regulatory path, paired with major institutional involvement, could really knock the cryptocurrency game up to the next level. Is this the major financial institutional move that cryptocurrency moguls have long been waiting for? Well, first the NYSE’s cryptocurrency market must succeed and thrive before anything can be decided. All this fuss has even raised the question whether the Feds should create a FedCoin!

 

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D.R.E.A.M.: Starting Financial Literacy Conversations In Urban Communities

 

BoldBiz: How Can We Exemplify Budgeting To Kids?

Co-Founder and CEO of D.R.E.A.M. (Developing Responsible Economically Advanced Model-Citizens, Inc.) Femi Faoye joined #BoldBiz to discuss the importance of providing financial literacy education to youth. #BoldTV #BoldLife

Posted by BoldTV on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

D.R.E.A.M.

Femi Faoye is a native Brooklynite and investment banker. His dream was to develop his company called D.R.E.A.M. which teaches high schoolers to be financially literate (D.R.E.A.M. stand for Developing Responsible Economically Advanced Model-Citizens). Growing up, his mother instilled in him a value of saving. He hated it at the time, but as he grew up, he realized why it was so important to save birthday money, Christmas money, and the like. He also realized how a lot of his friends were not getting some of the same lessons from their parents. This was due to how taboo a topic finances were between parents and their children.

Financial superheroes

Faoye believes that parents are very often financial superheroes. That is to say, the way they allocate, save and find money for their children is amazing. He only wishes they would share their expertises, tips, tricks and even struggles with their children in order to help them grow up to be financially independent and literate adults. The mission of D.R.E.A.M is focused in New York City but expands all around the world.

One of the emphases of D.R.E.A.M. is to get Black and Hispanic communities talking about money and finances. In many of these communities, Faoye laments, these conversations are just not being held. That needs to be changed, Faoye said.

Why high school though?

Faoye said it is pretty simple. They are aiming to start with kids in high school because, at that time, they are impressionable and willing to change. Not that older people are lost, but they are more stuck in their ways, Faoye said. During their formative years, they are willing to learn, and, what’s more, biologically more attuned to learning.

What does D.R.E.A.M. do, specifically?

D.R.E.A.M. has two main programs: Financial Empowerment 101, and Invest in Success. With the former, D.R.E.A.M. goes to schools and brings a short curriculum with them that they teach to the students. Invest in Success, Faoye said, is perhaps the program that D.R.E.A.M. is most well known for. With Invest in Success, students are taught fone Saturday out of every month for three years in a school or community area, and they learn a new financial topic every year. Faoye compared it to bootcamp programs and gave examples such as how a credit card works and what a checking account is for yearly topics that are comprehensively analyzed.

Takeaway

Faoye believes that not only should high schoolers learn to become financially literate, but they should learn to take an interest in entrepreneurial endeavors. Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit is extremely important to Faoye personally and to D.R.E.A.M’s mission as a whole.

“Those with the entrepreneurial mindset have better career outcomes in the long-run,” Faoye said.

 

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What Are The Best Financial Apps For Millennials?

According to a new study by Bankrate, 63% of smartphone users have one or more financial apps on their phones. In fact, seven in 10 people with financial apps use them at least weekly. Here are a few more findings from the study, as well as some financial apps that may be useful to you.

Financial apps

The most commonly used type of financial apps are known as “full-service” banking apps. This may include the mobile apps for your banks, such as Citibank or Chase, from which people can conveniently check their balances and accounts. The more complex apps, such as those used for investing, are not quite as popular. As it turns out, people are still afraid of complex charts with arrows pointing up or down. Still, apps such as Stash, Acorns and Betterment are growing in popularity and are increasingly used for investing.

Budgeting and investing apps are found on only 18 percent of smartphones. Amongst the most well known budgeting apps are Mint, Clarity Money and Wally. If you want to save a certain amount of money before an important date, such as a birthday, Mother’s Day, or any costly event, using these tools can come in handy.

The average smartphone user actually has 2.5 financial apps on their phones. Amongst millennials, the average is 3.6 financial apps. Naturally, the number drops with increasing age. Gen Xers, for instance, only have 2.3 financial apps, while Baby Boomers (aged 54-72) have 1.4. According to the same poll, 31 percent of millennials even prefer financial apps to other apps. 

Best apps

So, what are the best financial apps to use? Clarity Money scans your purchases for subscriptions and gives you discounts accordingly. Also consider Varo Money, which provides current balance information and predicts income. It  also keeps their users on track with their customizable savings goals. Debitize tracks credit card expenditures and puts the amount you spend in your checking account into a reserve account. Other options include MoneyLion, Long Game Savings, and Stash and Digit, which makes small withdrawals from your checking account to help you build savings. Bankrate explains all these suggestions here.

Takeaway

An increasingly large percentage of the population is beginning to seek the aid of money-management mobile apps to help solve their financial issues. Use these apps to start taking control of your spending, your savings, and your financial future.

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Amazon, now selling Avocados.

 

Whole Foods has organically grown the reputation of overpriced honey, vats of kombucha and lavender goat soap. Its prices always have been higher than other traditional grocery stores, meaning the majority of shoppers never strictly have been working millennials. The company changed owners in a June 2017 deal when Amazon agreed to buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion dollars. Amazon is a consumer-driven website that can supply every product you could need, including a crazy cat lady action figure and a pound of marshmallows, all of which can be purchased from the comfort of your own laptop or cellphone.

Amazon’s adherence to the traditional business model of classic fixed-cost operation will be tested as the company moves offline and into Whole Foods stores. There is some hesitation in this purchase as Amazon and Whole Foods are different businesses completely. Amazon is an internet company that runs on low prices and fast online shipping, and Whole Foods has earned the nickname “Whole Pay Check” with its sophisticated and pricey in-store products .

What will Amazon be doing?

Amazon will now be present in more than 460 Whole Foods stores, giving people a grounded Amazon shopping experience. On the first day of Amazon running operations, prices dropped up to 43 percent. Avocados are now $1.99 as opposed to $2.79, and a rotisserie chicken is now only $9.99 as opposed to $13.99. High prices are what previously separated Whole Foods from other grocery-store chains. Those prices where justified by all the products being the highest quality, as well as being organic. Now with Amazon bringing the same quality at a cheaper shelf price, the influx of millennial shoppers is sure to rise.

Millennials like quality food products

Millennials are more food-centric than previous generations; they care about ingredients and where their food comes from. Jeffries Alix Partners released a study “Trouble in Aisle 5” that looked at the food shopping habits of millennials between 1982 and 2001. The report revealed that while millennials still buy cheap fast food, they also are willing to spend more money on fresh produce, meats, and dairy.

Millennials are more food-conscious in that they prefer specialty food items and are not tied to brands like previous generations. This shift in purchasing already has re-focused the food industry to more natural, organic and specialty foods — all of which Whole Foods provides.

However, with Amazon’s new pricing, the store most likely will be re-branded.  Whole Foods will then no longer be perceived as the place where wealthy moms shop for their children’s gluten-free waffles, but as an open market for younger generations, seeking quality whole food but with low Amazon prices.

Takeaway

Amazon buying Whole Foods was risky, and its profits will soon tell how successfully Amazon is at running a grocery store. The trendy, online company known for its service and low prices may just be all that Whole Foods needs to start trending with younger generations.

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