What Should be the Next Financial Step for Recent College Grads?

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

I read the article (below) and I’m not sure if I agree with the steps and suggestions. Or maybe I just read it incorrectly.

Upon graduation, if a person doesn’t already have a job I think they need to hurry and get one, and then begin working a plan that will help you to save and pay off your debt. People should budget to save 10-15% to repay student loans, 10-20% of their earnings for emergencies, 10% for tithing or other donations, 10-20% for investments (which includes saving for that first home), 10% just to save (for something special), and use the rest towards their bills and living expenses. Whatever is left, they should invest in their emergency fund or use towards a vacation fund.

Their biggest debt upon graduation will be their student loans, and 6 months after crossing that stage their lender(s) will be calling and flooding their mailbox with letters. Even if they get a deferment or forbearance, I don’t recommend saving money for large purchases without first allocating funds for loan repayments. Why put yourself further in debt?

Additionally, if the graduate ever defaults on their student loan(s) how do you think that will negatively impact the money they have stashed away in their bank account or retirement plan? How will it affect their credit, and their ability to take out loans of any kind in the future? Could that default cause a domino effect that could lead to a lien, seizure of property, or other traumatic situation?

With more student loans being taken over by the federal government I would caution students and new grads from taking a casual approach to repaying their loans. We have been warned not to play with the IRS, I would also add, don’t play with federal student loans—there’s no where to hide!

Read the article in its entirety here and then share your thoughts: http://www.techyville.com/2013/07/news/which-do-you-do-first-save-money-or-pay-off-student-loans/

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Natasha L. Foreman.

My Response to John Hope Bryant’s Article “If Bill Gates Were Black”

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

 

I wanted to share my thoughts regarding John Hope Bryant’s brilliant article that was posted on and by Bloomberg BusinessWeek today. I also wanted to have a healthy dialogue with those individuals who showed their lack of critical thinking skills before they reacted, and quickly responded in the negative, to the article.

It is my opinion that the moment many of us don’t understand something or it rubs us the wrong the way, the remaining of what we read or hear turns more into an episode of Charlie Brown, just a bunch of whah whah whah blah blah blah…and we don’t hear or interpret anything else. We are then too focused on a counter argument, but never on seeking clarification. Here is the link to John Hope Bryant’s article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-04/if-bill-gates-were-black-dot-dot-dot

Below is my comment that I submitted to Bloomberg, that they will hopefully post in their comments section below the article. After you read John’s article and the comments made by other readers, please share your thoughts about the article and comments (inclusive of mine). Let’s have some healthy dialogue and if possible, some positive solutions to issues facing the Black community specifically, and all underserved communities in general. Here you go:

Economic empowerment and the eradication of poverty first begins with understanding the history of how this country was built, how we rebuild during economic downfalls, and how the least of God’s children are impacted. It requires us to look at the missing piece between the have’s and have not’s. 

So yes, possessing a bank account versus being robbed blind at check cashing centers is a bonus. Yes, having a credit score around or higher than 700, instead of 550 and lower, is a huge predictor of a community’s growth and prosperity—as well as an individual’s ability to thrive not just merely survive. Yes, being financially literate is imperative, because if you aren’t then you run the risk of falling prey to predatory lenders who can smell your desperation miles away.

If you don’t have a bank account then how are you depositing or cashing checks? Are you going to check cashing centers and giving them a portion of YOUR money to gain access to YOUR money? That doesn’t sound like the wisest of choices when you have a choice. Show me one millionaire or billionaire who doesn’t have a bank account. Show me one entrepreneur without a bank account. Show me. I’m sure you can’t.

The banking system isn’t corrupt, there are corrupt INDIVIDUALS in the banking system; just like there are corrupt individuals in countless other systems including government, religious organizations, educational institutions, charities, etc. You can’t blame a crisis caused by unethical behavior on an entire system, because just as there were predatory lenders who knew customers were potentially high risk for loan defaults, there are some ‘victims’ of this economic downfall who knew they bought more house than they could afford, who knew that they didn’t have true job ‘security’ but gambled with the odds anyway, who claimed to earn more than they actually had (and eventually they had more month than money). So unethical decisions from individuals caused our country to suffer these past few years.

This is a brilliant post by John Hope Bryant, that clearly expresses the sentiment that if African Americans had a Bill Gates-type-entrepreneurial role model then the vision for the Black community would not be limited to a mindset of ‘only the lucky get out’, and the ‘victory’ would not be narrowed to simply having a ‘Black President”.  

Think about it, if Bill Gates was a Black man, the money he donates and invests would be injected within his community first and then worldwide. Don’t most of us consider taking care of ‘home’ before we take care of the rest of the world? Don’t we start local and then go global? Well if this were the case, then Black communities would be resuscitated through Gates community giving, and the country (and world) would see a different ‘picture’ of these communities. 

John Hope Bryant is NOT saying that Black people don’t have entrepreneurial role models; he is saying that we need MORE business owners who are employing thousands, not merely hundreds (or less). He’s saying we need more innovators, more businesses in technology, etc. that provide a competitive advantage within the U.S. in general, and within Black communities specifically. He’s saying we need MORE Black entrepreneurs going into the community, going into the schools and teaching and sharing the ‘magic’ in their success. 

He is saying that in order to eradicate poverty and gain economic empowerment in the Black community it is going to take the Black community, not government, not charity, not handouts, but hard work and each person reaching back to an open hand and providing a hand up out of the pit. It’s going to require Black people with 700+ credit scores teaching those with 550 and lower credit scores how they did it. It’s going to require Black entrepreneurs to hire within their community, to bring on interns to learn the ropes at their company, and to mentor young Black children.

The majority of our role models that our children regularly see come from entertainment and sports backgrounds, which there is nothing wrong with that, except if you lack talent in either area, then what? 

Additionally, and no disrespect, but Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson, and others have built BRANDS that employ–but none to the extent of a Bill Gates level; and all three brands represent entertainment or sports. In 2007, Microsoft employed a reported 79,000 people. That was in 2007. Name one Black-owned company that employs 79,000 people?  

So John Hope Bryant’s article says, “what if Bill Gates were Black?” What changes would you see in the Black community? What would Black children aspire to become if they saw a Black employer hiring thousands of people within their community? How many Black people could be employed (since unemployment is HIGHEST in the Black community)? How many of our children would be encouraged to excel in STEM courses and pursue careers in those fields so that they too could grow up to ‘be like Bill’?

We need to take the emotion out; we need to stop wanting to attack everything we don’t understand, and start acting like we are intelligent enough to ASK for clarification if needed, and to ASK how we can individually and collectively help solve the problem.

How many of you volunteer in the Black community? How many of you work with the underserved and underrepresented? How many of you are helping to work towards a solution? Or are you merely only focusing on picking at and tearing down the things you don’t understand, and the things you are against? If you aren’t doing anything to help the Black community, and other underserved and underrepresented communities, then what does your opinion really mean, and what are you truly adding to this conversation? 

John Hope Bryant you did an awesome job with this piece. We need our children to aspire to be entrepreneurs as much as (or more than) they aspire to be athletes and entertainers. Great, they want to be a football star, but let’s teach them to also start and build a business (now) as an additional revenue stream—so when their football career ends, they still have a career…and wealth, not just temporary riches! 

A broke mindset only gets the same results…an unfinished puzzle!

 

 

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Trump the Chumps: Part Two

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

Are you ready to pick up where we left off ? Let’s go!

First let me say…OUR President announced late last night that the U.S. has confirmed that they killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan after OUR President gave the okay to engage in combative measures to eliminate Bin Laden and his associates as a threat. So…uh Donald Trump and all of you small-minded morons out there so concerned with OUR President’s birth certificate, maybe now you can see what pressing issues that he found more important to follow up on instead of tracking down his birth certificate from the 60s. Now this is a perfect segue into part two of my post on Trump the Chumps…

I want to see Trump’s transcripts from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Matter of fact I want to see his transcripts from Fordham before he transferred to Wharton. I want to see his academic honors he claims to have earned while attending the New York Military Academy (when he was acting up as a teenager as his parents sent him there to get his attitude problem adjusted). I want to know what gives a person who comes directly from Scottish (mother) and German (father and paternal grandparents) roots the right to question someone’s heritage and citizenship.

I want to know what a person who claims to have an interest in the U.S. economy, jobs, business development, and competing in the global marketplace- and says that OUR President is doing an awful job (the worst of all presidents he claimed) can do anything to turn our country around when in 1991 he filed for corporate bankruptcy (and almost filed for personal bankruptcy); watched banks and bondholders lose hundreds of millions of dollars while he restructured his debt to avoid losing more money in court. What can this man say when in 1992 his Trump Plaza Hotel was forced to file a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

Two years later Trump lost the Trump Shuttle, was forced to sell a parcel of his West Side yards to Asian developers without retaining ownership- only allowed to keep his name on the buildings that were built on those yards so a premium could be charged for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the breaking point when he became fixated on Asians, more specifically the Chinese as being enemy number one.

I want to know why Trump feels he’s qualified to run this country when in 1998 his Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts were profitless and could barely pay the interest on nearly $3 billion in debt; which kept them from making necessary improvements on the properties. I want to know how he feels he is capable of running our country and reducing our deficit when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought a financial-reporting case against Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc in 2002 alleging that the company had misleading third-quarter 1999 earnings release statements. Then two years later the company announced they were restructuring their debt reducing Donald’s individual ownership from 56 percent to 27 percent, and giving bondholders stock in exchange for surrendering part of the debt.

So who’s company had to file for bankruptcy November 2004? Trump’s. So who relinquished his CEO position but retained his role as Chairman of the Board? The Donald. So after re-emerging as Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings in 2005 and appearing to be on the upswing even with legal issues who then had to file for Chapter 11 again on February 17, 2009 after the “Chairman of the Board” said he would resign from the board four days earlier? Trump Entertainment Resorts.

How is Donald John Trump, Sr. qualified to be the President of the United States? Does he think it’s because he knows how to say, “you’re fired” and he thinks that shows signs of a strong leader? Maybe it’s because while he was a student at the New York Military Academy he was the captain of the baseball team in 1964 and received the Coach’s Award that same year. Or maybe it was because his senior year there he was promoted to the Cadet Captain-S4 (Cadet Battalion Logistics Officer). For those of you who don’t know what this title means- The Donald was “responsible for the maintenance, security, record keeping, issue, and turn-in of all U.S. government property (except ordinance).” That is definitely grounds to claim a stake at the presidency isn’t it?

His attack on OPEC and belief that as President he could force them to do what we say and “stop robbing us blind” is supported by what experience exactly? Does he think his real estate career has laid the foundation for dealing with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries?

Maybe Donald thinks he’s better suited for the Presidency since he knows the viewpoints from all sides since he’s been a supporter of the Reform Party, Republican Party, and the Democratic Party. Donald needs to choose a party first, commit to it, and I would suggest having had experience voting in primary elections- since according to an April 23rd report by New York-based TV station NY1 (and confirmed by a city board spokeswoman) Donald hasn’t voted in a primary election in New York City for 21 years.

I want to see Donald’s tax returns for the past four years. I want to see his academic achievements highlighted for verification. I want to see the report his “people” gave him when their intel said that OUR President’s birth certificate did not exist and then eluded that it was because he was Kenyan born.

I mean seriously, Donald’s foreign policy concept is imperialistic and pimpish. I thought our country is pushing an anti-bullying movement with our children- but we’re still saying, “do as I say not as I do”. He told CNN last week that we should have told the Arab League that we would go into Libya and take Gaddafi out of office for $5 billion and then we could go in there and get their oil. He then also found a way to attack China and place some blame their way because they haven’t sent their military troops to Libya.

Yes, China’s cleaning our clock economically and academically- how is that their fault that we got caught slipping on innovation and education? Donald why don’t you invest in our schools, bring in more textbooks and supplies, fund before-and-after school programs (in underserved and underrepresented cities) that offer tutoring as early as 6am and as late as 7pm during the week, and weekend programs open from 8am to 6pm?

I would also say this- the man who is so concerned about our economy, jobs, and competing with China whom he calls our country’s “enemy” should take the $100 million he offered to donate to the White House for a stinking ballroom and instead inject that into our economy for a booster shot and job creation. If he’s so concerned about jobs and says OUR President is incompetent at creating jobs, then The Donald should start hiring U.S. citizens in all of his companies, and since he has the money supposedly, why doesn’t he open more businesses to answer the supply and demand needs which will help to trigger positive consumerism trends in those states?

Let’s be real shall we…Donald Trump is the epitome of the capitalist that people detest- he is all about money and how he can acquire more only for himself, and not concerned with job creation except to help him achieve and maintain his financial wealth. I want to know as he’s attacking OUR President about our country not having enough U.S. based companies and U.S. made products, how many of his employees in Dubai, Turkey, South Korea, Canada, Scotland, and Canouan Island are U.S. citizens? How much of the generated revenues from these locations are being re-distributed back into the U.S. economy? I want to know what U.S. products he is helping to produce that are being exported to other nations to help boost our economy and help to pay down our staggering debt?

Let me say in closing that I see that Donald’s son Eric has a foundation- The Eric Trump Foundation for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital- but where’s Donald’s foundation? I researched and discovered on Trump’s website that “The Trump Family is proud to participate in and provide support for…” The Eric Trump Foundation, Girl Up United Nations Foundation, New York City Police Foundation, Operation Smile, and The Police Athletic League (PAL)…I will let you reflect on that for a moment and not to diminish the contributions made by and to these great organizations but just ask yourself where the support of education and job creation is present by the Trump conglomerate!

Then I want you to think about this…OUR so-called “incompetent” President has done something no other President before him has been able to do and that was whoop up on, defeat, and bring back the body of Osama Bin Laden snatching that magnet of fear out of the world. You may be able to huff and puff, and fire a bunch of people Donald, and Sarah Palin may be able to hunt deer and elk in Alaska but NONE of you fools have what it takes to deal with ordering the elimination of Bin Laden while being under attack from hate mongers who question your patriotism, nationality, citizenship, loyalty, and religion every single day; while also trying to bring up the spirits of the country, rebuild our schools, produce jobs for the unemployed and underemployed, and deal with back-to-back crisis situations affecting our country domestically and abroad- while raising a family and trying to be a loving and attentive spouse. Let’s not discuss your family lives and careers!

To my readers let me say…you know that I await your feedback!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

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>What’s Behind the Credit Score?

>By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

I just read an insightful article How Your Credit Score is Calculated written by Simon Zhen that explains how your credit score impacts your life, how it is calculated, and the benefits of earning and keeping a good credit score. As many of you may know your creditworthiness is based on a Fair Isaac Company (FICO) credit score with a range of 300 to 850. The FICO score is calculated based on certain measurements:

1. Payment History (35%): the most impactful on your credit score
2. Amounts You Owe and Credit Limits (30%): this measurement looks at your debt utilization ratio which is the total amount you owe divided by total amount you borrowed (and/or can borrow)
3. Length of Credit History (15%): the longer you have had credit the more experienced you are as a debt manager- and most likely the higher your credit score
4. Types of Credit (10%): revolving credit (credit cards) and insallment credit (mortgages)
5. New Credit Inquiries (10%): every time you apply for credit it is recorded on your credit report whether you receive the new line of credit or not.

This article gives you a breakdown of these five measurements and even provides a link to a MyBankTracker article, How to Make Yourself Creditworthy: The 7 Don’ts of Credit that is very informative and helpful.

To read the Zhen article for yourself visit MyBankTracker

Let 2011 be the year you reclaim your credit and your life!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.
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>Credit: The debt game

>

The January 2010 issue of Essence Magazine (p. 85) has an eight-page Money and Career Guide that is rather interesting. As I flipped through the guide I took notice of The Credit Quiz that asks you five questions to help you assess whether you should seek assistance from a debt management company or handle your issues personally with your creditors. The five questions that you are to answer either yes or no to ask:
        Does your debt include credit and department store cards, credit lines or unsecured loans?
        Can you make consistent monthly payments?
        Is there a good possibility you won’t take on additional debt in the near future?
        Can you negotiate well and commit to following up with your creditors?
        Are you okay with having a significant ding on your credit report?
If you answered “yes” to three or more of the questions then they suggest you check with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to begin screen debt management companies to assist you. If however, you answered “no” to three or more questions then you should use the extra money you have left over after covering your recurring costs in order to pay off one debt at a time. For those who could not select yes or no to one or more questions, because you simply could not decide which answer was most fitting to your current situation, the article suggested going to http://ftc.gov/credit  to read more about the process and making an informed decision after that point.
What I believe this article failed to do was educate consumers on the risks and rewards of using debt management companies versus tackling creditors alone. The last question uses the word “significant” in relation to how impactful one’s credit report could be affected by either handling the situation one way or another. What do they consider “significant”? What does this “significant” ding mean to the person and their credit? How long does this “ding” stay on their credit?
I’m not a credit card person. I remember getting one at the age of 18, like so many other college students who were pounced on at college campuses. Mine was with a well-known bank seen all over the country. I did as many other financially illiterate people do and allowed my credit card to be used for frivolous purchases that weren’t being paid off in full each month. I looked out for loved ones who claimed to need this or that, when it was only a case of instant gratification gone wild. Of my $800 limit I at most spent $100 on myself. Sad but true. I was making payments on the card, paying what I could and hoping that the other people who were there when it was time to make purchases, would also step forward with money in hand to pay off the debt. It was like saying “hello” at the Grand Canyon…the only person you hear is yourself.
Eventually because no one helped me pay back the charges and associated fees that accrued, I found myself in a pickle after losing my job. I was then sent to an outside collection agency that made a deal with me…“Pay us $600 right now on the phone and we will wipe out the balance owed…” I ran and got my checkbook and rattled off my account number over the phone. Months later I moved and guess what I received in the mail? A demand letter from the bank requesting more than $900 to be paid immediately; they claimed to have no knowledge of my earlier payment and although I said the agency’s name they refused to accept that I had made an agreement to eliminate the amount initially in question for a reduced fee. They wanted me to pay the money in full and began their fear tactics on me in hopes that I would break down and be naïve enough to give them the money. I refused. I felt as though someone had taken advantage of me and until it became clear who the culprit was, and that what I said was factual, no one was getting a lint ball from my pocket.
For years I battled with this bank. There was no way I was going to pay a combined total of $1,300 for an $800 credit limit. I had learned my lesson…matter of fact I learned several of them. I quickly paid off my card from a clothing store in 1997 and closed the account (also not aware of how that would affect me until I saw my credit report several months to a year later). I was 20 years old and free of credit cards!
Although I had sworn off credit cards my mother several years later thought it was important to have a secured credit card for “emergencies” and decided to add my name without my knowledge to her account so in case something happened to her I could immediately have access to the funds. What my mother did not understand was that the minimum monthly payment MUST be paid on time each month even if you don’t use the card. This wasn’t how her American Express card used to work! Long story short…guess who pulled their credit report and noticed “dings” for late payments?
Yep…me! Talking about being livid; I almost dislocated my jaw I was whooping and hollering so much. I had gotten out of the credit card rat race and found myself right back in its claws without ever having received one perk from the card’s use.
I’m not saying credit cards are bad or evil. Not at all….what I am saying is this, educate yourself on the associated costs, fees (both plainly seen and hidden), and penalties for both using the card and for cancelling the card. Know why you are applying for a credit card and what purchases you think you should make using it instead of cash. I understand that a credit card comes in handy, especially when renting cars (and you don’t want them freezing the funds in your account until you return the car), or securing hotel rooms, etc. Here’s the thing you should always consider however…If you can’t afford to pay the bill in full each month then you should opt to use cash for the purchase or defer it altogether until you can afford one lump-sum payment, or layaway. Just think about it!
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved

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