Three Mobile Apps to Help You Manage Debts and Save

It’s personal finance month here at Eazl and we wanted to share some mobile finance apps we love with you. If you want to learn about managing your credit and money, getting started with investing, and buying a house, go to here to save 40% on Eazl’s new financial empowerment class.

• Acorns automatically invests your spare change. Every time you make a purchase with a card connected to the app Acorns rounds it up to the next highest dollar and automatically invests the difference in a portfolio of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that you select based on your risk preference. When you want to take money out, you withdraw and however much you take out is sold from your portfolio. Acorns costs $1/mo. and is available to people in the US and Australia. Link: https://www.acorns.com

• Digit makes the decision to save for you. It’s an automated savings tool that connects to your checking account, analyzes your income and spending patterns, and then makes micro withdrawals–sometimes as little as $1 or $2–to set aside for you. When you want to access the money, you just text the app and the money comes right back into your checking account. It costs $2.99/mo. and it only works with US banks. Link: https://digit.co

• You Need a Budget (or YNAB) is a budgeting tool that doesn’t let you create budgets around money you don’t have – it forces you to live within your actual income. If you get off track it will help you see what you need to do differently to balance your budget. It also has a built-in “accountability partner” and online classes to help you get started. YNAB costs $50/year and it works everywhere but some direct data import functions only work in North America. Link: https://www.youneedabudget.com

FYI–nobody paid us to share these apps with you!

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United Airlines and China’s Century of Humiliation

David Dao was dragged off a United Airlines plane this week and the video of the brutal incident has gone viral. In China, it is estimated that the video has been watched more than 2 billion times. In this Brain Boost, Eazl business instructor Davis Jones talks about why the explosive Chinese reaction could be rooted in recent history–China’s “Century of Humiliation” and it’s rise to economic power.

“It’s Because I’m Chinese”
David Dao said that he was selected for “involuntary removal” by United Airlines because he is Asian-American. Some in China agree, and the Global Times, a state-owned newspaper ran a piece that gives credibility to Mr. Dao’s claim.

Roots of Humiliation
A phrase that’s known inside China is “The Century of Humiliation.” The beginning of the Century of Humiliation is usually dated around 1850 when free-trade agreements with Britain led to widespread opium addiction and the political unraveling of Qing dynasty. Later, events like the Japanese invasion in the 1930s and the eventual massacre and rape of Nan Jing where an estimated 300,000 citizens were killed and around 20,000 women were raped led Chinese society to bundle these years together as a time when China was fated to suffer terrible humiliations.

New Chinese Consumers
Today, media outlets, political leaders, and Chinese consumers are quick to report any incidents they view as discrimination against China or Chinese customers. As businesspeople and citizens outside China have more interactions with Chinese citizens, it is important to be aware that Chinese society increasingly demands recognition and respect. As their economic power increases, all brands and business owners will benefit by understanding more about Chinese history, the Century of Humiliation, and what that means for the psychology of Chinese citizens

Further Reading:
Chinese Consumers Boycott United
The Global Times says racism might have been a motive (Chinese)

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LifePower: Credit, Debt, Saving, Investing, & Buying a Home

This is the trailer for our newest course on personal finance.

Learn to Master the Financial Tools that Many of Us Were Never Taught
Your ability to use modern financial tools and systems is a crucial ingredient for a successful and happy life. Credit scores, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, tax-deferred investment accounts, and financial instruments like index funds, mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and bonds are fundamental to existence in our modern world. The topics in this course are relevant to people in all developed economies.

Ignorance is an expensive choice and there are plenty of organizations who would be happy to keep taking advantage of people who can’t navigate these systems. In this financial empowerment series you won’t get bombarded with boring math formulas. You’ll have fun. Let’s take on the system together.

Get the personal finance tools that enable you to use the complicated credit, debt, cash flow management, saving, investing, and real estate systems to your advantage.

In this new course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Building and managing your credit score
  • Using credit cards
  • Taking out and managing personal loans
  • Personal budgeting
  • Saving and investing
  • Buying real estate

This course is perfect for smart people who are starting to work, save, and build wealth, through this financial empowerment course you’ll learn how to use credit and debts, how to manage your cash flow, how to save and start investing, how to buy real estate in your name, and more.

Enroll now to get started on mastering your personal finance and assets!

How Social Media is Changing Credit Scores

LifePower, the Financial Empowerment Series from Eazl, just launched!☆

The credit system is one of the core systems of our society and it tends to lag behind social changes. There’s a perfect storm of social media platforms, big data, and fintech startups who are changing how we build credit and get credit scores.

Problems with the System:
Credit scoring systems are designed to predict the likelihood of future repayment by a borrower and currently, the credit scoring industry has problems…

Problem 1: There is currently a near-monopoly in the system. Three companies who set the credit scores of everyone in most of the developed world: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian

Problem 2: Older models are becoming outdated. Specifically, more companies are running credit checks for all sorts of reasons and each inquiry lasts for 2 years on your credit score. The problem is that too many inquiries drive down your credit and also, these frequent credit checks are insecure. Last year, Experian lost the SSNs and much more for more than 15m t-mobile customers. Additionally, credit ratings agencies give people a boost for having the same job for 5 years straight. That’s a problem in a world where 40% of the US workforce will be freelancers by 2020.

• Social Credit Scoring:
Today, live in a world where we share tons of personal data on social media platforms. Soon, credit scoring will likely include information from our use of platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. Instead of analyzing our past behavior to predict our creditworthiness, models will work to build an idea of who we are based on the patterns we reveal about ourselves on social media.

• Real World Examples:
One example of a company leveraging social credit scoring is Germany-based Kreditech, a company that uses more than 20,000 datapoints from social platforms and other sources to determine the creditworthiness of people with no prior credit history. Recently, the World Bank made an investment in Kreditech because social credit scoring is likely to help millions of people get access to the global financial system.

Key takeaway: Your interactions online are already starting to have an impact on your financial health.

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Explained: ISPs, Your Data, and Internet Privacy

Recently, the US Congress has made moves enable widespread data collection from Internet users in the United States. Internet service providers (ISPs) see this as a big win. Why? How are they going to use your data? Here it is explained:

What’s an ISP?
Internet Service Providers or ISPs handle all of your network traffic– meaning they can see everything you browse, watch, click on, and more unless it’s encrypted. Even when it is encrypted, they can still see most of what you’re doing online.

ISPs are different from web companies like Google because you can use the internet without Google but you can’t use the internet without an ISP.

Who Regulates ISPs?
Last year while Barack Obama was in office, the Federal Communications Commission or FCC created major privacy rules for ISPs that gave consumers more control over what’s collected and how it’s used. The rules were slated to go into effect this year but now, those rules will never go into effect.

ISPs want to be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission or FTC instead of the FCC. That’s because they say that the FCC is stopping them from innovating. The FCC tends to write rules that govern the current marketplace while the FTC tends to provide broad guidelines that lay out what constitutes harm and deception of consumers.

What’s at Stake?
There are two things at stake here: our privacy and money from the growing online advertising industry. Currently, Google and Facebook are the largest sellers of digital advertising. ISPs want some of that money and they plan to make it selling your browsing data to advertisers and other companies. One thing they really want to do is help advertisers figure out who you are across all your devices like your computer, tablet, phone, and TV.

Innovation with your data could get weird. For example, ISPs could sell your data to HR technology firms who decide not to hire someone because they don’t like something in their browsing history or insurance providers could use purchased browsing data to deny coverage for someone because it looks like they’ve been on WebMD trying to self-diagnose a health issue.

Currently, ISPs are able to opt you into data collection schemes by default. However, opting out of these schemes can be difficult because ISPs don’t want you to do it.

Now you decide: by letting ISPs be collect and sell your data by default, does this support innovation or does it abuse consumers?
Answer in the poll now and leave your comment below.

Further reading on this issue:
• Google’s Terms of Use state that Gmail users: “give Google (and those [Google] work[s] with) a worldwide license to use … create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services) … and distribute such content.” See http://bit.ly/2oemAJr.

• Here’s a transcript of Obama’s speech at the FTC on the internet and personal privacy

• This is a pro-privacy pressure group in Washington and this is a think tank that believes that personal data in the open is good for the economy

• Here’s a podcast episode about this issue from NPR

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The Well-Balanced Ego (Excerpt from The Confidence Code)

*Find the full course here and grab a $5 coupon while you’re at it: http://bit.ly/palmer5*

In this excerpt from our course, The Confidence Code: Self-Esteem and Empathy w/ Palmer Jones, Palmer describes how an ego that is too big or too small can hold you back in your life and career. Listen to what Palmer says about getting your ego in check and having empathy for others.

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How to Design Your Offering as a Freelancer or Online Business Specialist

Learn how to reinterpret concepts for enterprise strategy so that they’re relevant for you as a freelancer or online entrepreneur. The fact is this: strategic thinking is crucial, but the academic/business education world doesn’t apply these concepts for small businesses, freelancers, and online businesspeople.

This video is an excerpt from our course, Freelancing: Launch Your Career as a Successful Freelancer.

From TEDx: David Allen and The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Productivity guru and coach David Allen talks about “Stress Free Productivity” at TEDxClaremontColleges.

David Allen created a methodology for productivity that we can all integrate into our lives and benefit from. Watch David’s talk on TEDx to change your perspective on your To Do List and set yourself on the path to stress free productivity.

Book mark this post for those days when you are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, I just put it on in the background on a Monday morning so I can start the week focused.

Useful links:
David Allen’s Getting Things Done Methodology
David Allen on Facebook
Getting Things Done Network on LinkedIn
David Allen on Twitter

About TEDx:
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

 

eazl-free-training

Does the Government Hate Freelancers?

As tax time comes in the US, Eazl has a question: does the government hate freelancers? Should we rework the tax code to make sense for self-employed people? Have your say! Answer the poll at the end of this video or leave your comment.

• The New 40%: Freelancers and self-employed people represent the fastest-growing portion of the labor market in the US and in many countries around the world. There are currently 55mm freelancers in the US and by 2020 freelancers will be 40% of the work force [1]. This trend will only continue as millennials and Gen Z are the largest groups who opt in to the freelancer work style.

• Support for Big Business: Meanwhile, governments around the world continue to flow money towards massive corporations. For example, the CATO Institute found that $10bn in farm subsidies went to publicly-listed industrial agriculture businesses, $4.4bn in special financing was directed towards Boeing, and Walmart has received more than $150mm in land grants and financing at the expense of US taxpayers. [2]

• 43.3% Tax Rate: Now that it’s tax time, freelancers are cutting relatively huge checks to federal and state governments… and taxes on self-employed people are rising. In her Piece for the Huffington Post, Nancy Humphries shows that freelancers who make under $110k annually pay an effective tax rate of 43.3% in the US [3]. That’s a higher rate than most billionaires! The US isn’t alone in raising taxes on self-employed people. The UK just passed a hugely controversial law requiring self-employed people to pay higher National Insurance Contributions [4] which many self-employed people say makes it even harder to survive.

Sources:
[1] See https://www.slideshare.net/upwork/freelancing-in-america-2016/1
[2] See https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa592.pdf
[3] See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-k-humphreys/selfemployed-pay-highest-_b_2397853.html
[4] See https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/09/self-employed-nics-increase-budget

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Viri Vlog: VIRI is Dead (+ What We Learned)

Well, it’s over. It was a fun ride, VIRI. In this vlog, you’ll find out why we decided to kill VIRI (and return our investors’ money) and what we learned from this experience.

What’s next? Bigger, better, stronger Eazl. Soon, Davis, is going to launch an equity crowdfunding vlog where you will see how we’re organizing communities around local entrepreneurs, helping them create jobs, and improving communities where people live . Our goal is to create a small business revolution and keep putting power into the hands of individuals. Ludell is going to be working on Eazl’s first physical space!

Link mentioned in this video:
How I Built This Podcast

Note: if you have full access to VIRI’s files, you will continue to have access to those files.

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