Study: Over 44 Millions Americans Now Have a “Side Hustle”

The side hustle era is fully upon us, largely thanks to the Internet, where the opportunity to earn extra money by way of entrepreneurial endeavors that have little in common with traditional, part-time jobs is much more expansive.

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As reported by CNN Money, there’s a new study from Bankrate that reveals over 44 million Americans now have some type of side hustle.

Not only that, the money is real. As Bankrate’s Sarah Berger notes, “It isn’t spare change from a lemonade stand.” According to the data, 36 percent of those engaging in a side hustle earn at least $500 per month.

Notably, while it’s younger adults – young “Millennials” – who are more likely to have a side hustle, according to Berger, it is actually older adults – those closing in on retirement age (53 to 62) – who are more likely to earn at least $1,000 a month from their side gigs.

That’s not surprising. It’s reasonable to assume that if more “seasoned” folks are involved in the gig economy to make extra money, it’s because they really need it, and will thus be more serious and deliberate in the pursuit of it. Additionally, older adults can sometimes have built-in advantages when it comes to making more dough, particularly if their side hustles are related in some way to careers in which they worked for decades.

The number of “side hustlers” is on the increase, and they’re pursuing all kinds of interesting, entrepreneurial activities to make their extra money. You may be one of them now.

If not, chances are improving all the time that you will be, one day soon.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Out of Work? Gap in Resume? How You Account for the Time May Determine If You Work Again

Here’s one of the American economy’s worst-kept secrets: It’s tough out there.

Despite (supposedly) plummeting unemployment, there are lots of folks who’ve been out of work for a significant period, and find themselves having to artfully account for that time when they seek work.

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Problem is, too few are doing a good job explaining their resume gaps, and struggling to land work as a result.

An article over at CNBC.com points out that while these gaps don’t have to spell doom to your chances of finding meaningful employment, how much effect they have on your hireability ultimately has a lot to do with just how you explain your situation.

According to certified career development coach Jill Ozovek, your first priority is to expect an interview question about the resume gap, and be prepared to speak intelligently, even impressively, about it.

Ozovek cites answers like ‘I just got laid off and I’ve been trying to figure it out’ as the kind that will help ensure you don’t see the inside of a cubicle again.

Instead, says Ozovek, “Be in control of your story. Whether your gap was self-imposed or not, connect the dots and craft a story.”

And what makes for a great story? Having spent your time out of work productively, and in such a way that it speaks particularly well of you.

Take classes that add to, or enhance, your professional skill set, to include picking up a certification in an area relevant to your career.

“There’s no shortage of ways to continue to improve yourself,” says Ozovek. “You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.”

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Ron Paul: “Not a Total Shock” If Stocks Drop 25% and Gold Jumps 50% by October

In a recent appearance on CNBC, former Republican congressman and outspoken libertarian Ron Paul suggested those stock market investors who’ve seen monstrous gains in their portfolios for years might want to re-think their positions just a bit before too much more time passes.

2017-07-10_6-08-30                                      Paul, speaking on “Futures Now,” echoed the sentiments of a growing number of learned voices who believe not only that the market activity of recent years is unsustainable, but that the very underpinnings of the nation’s economy are not nearly as strong as many think. As a matter of fact, Paul thinks the market is in for a major correction, and that precious metals will benefit from the significant backslide in equities.

“If our markets are down 25 percent and gold is up 50 percent it wouldn’t be a total shock to me,” said the congressman.

“I think it’s a very precarious market, and the Fed better be very careful. Since they are incapable of knowing what to do, I don’t expect much good to come out of anything they do,” Paul continued.

“There are so many mistakes made out there that the correction is almost unlimited.”

Paul conveyed the thoughts of many right now when he added:

“People have been convinced that everything is wonderful right now and that stocks are going to go up forever. I don’t happen to buy this. The old rules always exist, and there’s too much debt and too much mal-investment. The adjustment will have to come.”

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Good News, Fellow Americans: Your Credit Scores Are Improving

Well, this IS good news.

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According to CNN Money, FICO (formerly Fair, Isaac and Company), the credit scoring data analytics firm, says that the average credit score of Americans is now at a robust 700. That’s the highest level seen by the folks at FICO since they began tracking the figure 12 years ago.

The credit score scale runs from 300 (the worst) to 850 (the best), although scores much above 700 are generally considered unnecessary for the purpose of realizing the best consumer credit terms.

Ethan Dornhelm, vice president for scores and analytics at FICO, attributes the trend upward to a variety of factors.

“The relative strength of the economy, with low unemployment and rising home prices are helping those consumers who were struggling during the great recession to recover financially,” he said.

Dornhelm notes, as well, that much greater access to information about credit scores and how they can be affected by any of a variety of consumer behaviors is having a positive impact on those scores.

“As consumers become more educated about the actions they can take to improve their score, we’re seeing the average score rise,” he said, adding that “we believe that consumers are more aware of their credit reports and FICO scores than they used to be.”

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Despite Much Stronger Employment, Americans Slowing Down on Paying Credit Card Obligations

Employment numbers are looking much better, but, oddly, Americans seem to be getting worse at repaying their debt obligations.

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As noted by Newsmax, a report from Moody’s found that banks have seen a notable increase in charge-offs of credit card debt over the two most recent fiscal quarters. As a matter of fact, the jump in charge-offs is the biggest since 2009.

According to experts, the seemingly-curious juxtaposition of good employment figures with higher rates of non-performing credit card debt is attributable to a loosening of underwriting standards that’s come about precisely because employment numbers are so much better. Alex Morrell of Business Insider writes that “American consumers haven’t fallen on hard times so much as banks have started to loosen their standards and issue credit more aggressively.”

In a statement, Warren Kornfeld of Moody’s said, “Although card standards were extremely tight in the years following the financial crisis, if underwriting then loosened materially, as the rise in charge-offs suggests, asset quality could continue to deteriorate rapidly going forward, especially in the event of a recession.”

In the years immediately following the “Great Recession,” lending standards on behalf of a number of financial products, notably home mortgages, were significantly tightened. It’s no secret that banks suffered mightily as a result of the inability to loan money to anyone except the most qualified applicants. Indeed, the economic engine of the entire country slowed to a near-halt as access to credit was greatly restricted during that period.

However, as Kornfeld suggests, if credit once again becomes liberally available, as it was in the years leading up to the 2008 collapse, a whole, new financial disaster could be in store for the nation.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

If Actor Woody Harrelson Can Have a $500 Wedding…Can’t You?

Well, sure you can.

The trend toward looking at less-expensive ways to celebrate marital unions started to gain traction several years ago, when, apparently, the dad of some bride-to-be woke up one day and asked, “Tell me again why we’re spending $100,000 on this wedding?”

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As many have learned, if you dig past the contrived glitz and glamour of the ceremony and reception, and get down to what many recognize as being the real purpose of a wedding…the public expression of love, loyalty, and fidelity to one another in front of family members and valued friends…the rest of it seems so unnecessary that it looks almost silly, in the light of day.

Indeed, some came to this very conclusion long ago, including actor Woody Harrelson.

As detailed in an article posted over at CNBC.com, Harrelson tells Davy Rothbart of the online investing platform Wealthsimple that he’s learned “the least expensive things can be the most personally rewarding. Take my wedding, for example. The whole event cost a total of $500.”

“We didn’t feel the need to shell out a ton of cash and do anything over the top,” Harrelson goes on to say. “It was basically just a bunch of good friends getting together in Maui. I paid for some food and drinks, a few hundred bucks, and that was about it.”

Obviously, getting to and from Maui is not included in the $500, but don’t let that cause you to miss the point: the celebration itself was a very inexpensive affair.

Ask yourself this question: When you think of the most fun, most memorable times you’ve ever had in social settings, were those moments characterized by great expense and “pageantry”? Or were they very casual, very relaxed?

If you’re like so many others, it was the latter.

So why fight it? Recognize it, and plan your wedding accordingly.

Oh, and the money you save? It may well be enough to make a tremendous, positive impact on something of great significance as you get started on your new life together, like a home purchase, or the elimination of all of your existing debt.

Now THAT would be a wedding present.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

The Most Important Question You Should Ask Before Heading to the Doctor

Been to the doctor lately?

In this era of “sort-of insurance,” where many walk around with health coverage that exists in theory only, even routine doctor’s visits have the potential to break the bank accounts of regular Americans. It wasn’t always this way, but an ever-worsening financial climate for health care has made it such that even the most basic of services can end up feeling like a sucker punch to the wallet.

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Still, while there isn’t always a good answer to avoiding these expenses, there’s one simple thing people can do a lot more of to ensure their bills are as low as reasonably possible (besides avoiding the doctor altogether, of course): Be certain the doctor they plan to visit is an in-network provider.

According to an article over at CNN Money, it turns out that one of the biggest “gotchas” people face after a visit to the M.D. comes about when they review the bill that arrives weeks after the appointment, and find that they had visited an out-of-network provider for services.

As it turns out, this happens very frequently. Here’s where people tend to get confused: When they call a doctor, they often ask the office manager or receptionist, “Do you take my insurance?” Where patients often run into trouble is that the staff member answering that question isn’t discerning between the doctor merely accepting the insurance, and the doctor specifically being an in-network provider, which is typically what the caller is really wanting to find out.

Being an in-network provider means the doctor has a contractual relationship with the insurance company preventing him or her from charging any more for a service than the amount already agreed-to by the insurer and the physician.

However, when you have care administered by an office that does no more than “accept” your insurance, the doctor is free to charge their full, regular rate for the service. Insurance will likely pay something, but because the doctor charged the full rate, and not the capped or discounted rate they would charge as an in-network provider, the patient is on the hook for a much higher balance.

Orly Avitzur, medical director at Consumer Reports, tells CNN Money that “if you go to Dr. Smith and he doesn’t participate in your insurance plan, then he can pretty much charge whatever he wants.”

You know what to do. As you’re going through the process of selecting a doctor, call the office first to be sure that the physician is an in-network provider, and get out of the habit of simply asking if they “take your insurance.”

Of course they take your insurance. But now you know that might not be nearly enough.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Think the World’s Leading Investors Have No Use for Gold? Think Again

In what may first appear to be a counterintuitive notion, the record-breaking performances of U.S. equities markets serve as an excellent reminder to astute investors that select alternative asset classes, like gold and silver, can serve important tactical and strategic purposes in the pursuit of both wealth preservation and capital appreciation.

What makes that notion counterintuitive is that as equities continue to climb, the idea that all-equity portfolios are best tends to be naturally reinforced. However, to those with some historical perspective and a solid awareness of the drivers that have helped take markets to these levels, including some of the world’s most renowned professional investors, the lofty heights achieved underscore the point that portfolios absent the right alternative assets can be at significant risk.

These asset managers recognize that the application of strategies limiting portfolio downside, to include the addition of precious metals, is making money. So regardless of whether you are investing in gold and silver in an effort to achieve explicit alpha, or to gain by limiting the potential for loss of portfolio value, the inclusion of precious metals can ably assist you along the path of increasing your net worth and realizing your long-term investment objectives.

For his part, Lord Jacob Rothschild of RIT Capital Partners investment trust has referred to what fiat currency overlords have been doing for years now as “the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world,” and thus sees great investment utility in gold, presently. Pointing to the unbridled use of stimulus programs by central banks around the world, Rothschild declares “the preservation of capital in real terms” to be “as important an objective as any” when it comes to portfolio management. To that end, he increased RIT’s position in gold and gold mining stocks to as much as 8% last year, and maintains a position in the metal today.

Referring to the conflation of problems he sees as threatening global economic stability, Rothschild says, “In these circumstances, our positioning is likely to remain defensive, with an emphasis on returns uncorrelated to the overall performance of equity markets.”

“Uncorrelated,” of course, largely describes the historical relationship between precious metals and equities, and is a key characteristic of those assets relied upon to provide genuine diversification.

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital remains concerned the pro-growth environment President Trump is pursuing will ultimately result in a pronounced inflationary climate. More broadly, Einhorn sees Trump as somewhat unpredictable on the matter of policy, and economic uncertainty is often a high-quality fuel for precious metals price action. Accordingly, he declared a few months ago that his “long-term outlook remains bullish” with respect to gold, and is maintaining it as an asset component of Greenlight.

While Rothschild appears to view gold more from the standpoint of its shorter-term tactical utility and Einhorn sees it from both a tactical and strategic perspective, presently, the overseer of the world’s largest hedge fund, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates (roughly $240 billion under management), firmly believes gold has a place as a fixed, ongoing component to a portfolio, and has famously said that “if you don’t own gold, you know neither history nor economics.”

Dalio’s more secular perspective on gold as a portfolio component contrasts somewhat with his overall view that secularism in investing is a loser. It speaks, however, to his rock-solid belief in the important role gold can play as a fixed alternative (to equities) asset.

There’s rather an odd irony about gold and silver, in that despite their standing as the quintessential symbols of wealth and value since time immemorial, the metals often struggle to find favor with “regular” investors today. Such is not the case, however, with asset managers like Rothschild, Einhorn, and Dalio, who are anything but regular. Whether focused on gold’s inflation-fighting capacity, its organic quality as a store of value, or the metal’s potential to thrive in a world fraught with pronounced economic and geopolitical risk, these investors clearly recognize the important benefit it can provide in helping to maximize total asset value over the course of both shorter- and longer-term time horizons.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

Are You as Busy as Elon Musk? Maybe You SHOULD Be

How badly DO you want success?

Do you want it as much as Elon Musk?

If you’re not as busy as he is, the answer is “probably not.”

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Actually, that’s unfair. Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, is one of the world’s great entrepreneurs and visionaries, and so it makes sense that he might also be one of the very busiest people anywhere. For most of the rest of us, it is not necessary to have such grandiose objectives (like running a company devoted to achieving the colonization of Mars) to still realize accomplishments that qualify as examples of resounding success.

Still, if you are plugging away each day at making the most of your own pursuits, it might not hurt to take a peek at just what an average day looks like for a guy like Musk, to see if there might be more you could, or should, be doing on behalf of your own interests.
Courtesy of Business Insider, here’s a rundown of Musk’s day:

Elon Musk gets up at 7 a.m., and typically skips breakfast. But breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Evidently the super-successful Musk does not agree.

He does make time for a shower, however. In fact, Musk has said it is his most important daily habit.

The key to Musk’s success, in his estimation, is his insistence to work as many hours as he can each week. During what is, for him, a regular workweek, Musk will put in about 42 hours at Tesla, and another 40 at SpaceX.

Something else Musk does that’s key to his productivity: He spends as little time as possible answering phone calls and dealing with emails.

Still, it’s not like he can avoid those mediums of communication entirely. A few years ago, Musk mentioned that he spends time on email while he’s hanging out with his kids.

“What I find is I’m able to be with them and still be on email. I can be with them and still be working at the same time … If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to get my job done,” said Musk.

On that note, Musk says he’d be nowhere if he did not multitask. In his view, multitasking and working as many hours as possible is what allows him to keep on with his Herculean efforts.

When he finally does go to bed, it’s around 1 a.m.

Wow.

It appears the rest of us aspiring to greater levels of success need to get to work, because, compared to Musk, we’re all just goofing off right now.

The information contained here is for general information purposes only. The Financial Writer blog and Bob Yetman disclaim responsibility for any liability or loss incurred as a consequence of the use or application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein. Nothing contained in this article, or any other article featured at this blog, should be construed as a solicitation or recommendation to engage in any financial transaction. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any changes to your personal financial profile.

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