Why Bitcoin? Part 4: Banks Versus The World

So far we’ve taken a look at the history of money; the notion of Bitcoin as ‘digital gold’; and some of the macro-economic forces that shape the global …

In this series on Bitcoin and money, Crypto Briefing takes a deep dive into the complexities of the modern monetary system and how Bitcoin, as the ultimate hard money, can serve as a solution to many of its problems.

In Part Four of the series we examine the banking system: how banks make money, and how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies empower ordinary citizens.

The full nine-part series will be available here.


Bitcoin and Money – Recap

SIMETRI ResearchSIMETRI Research

So far we’ve taken a look at the history of money; the notion of Bitcoin as ‘digital gold’; and some of the macro-economic forces that shape the global economy.

In our last exploration, we posited that the current global monetary system is rife with problems that have enormous consequences, which we see coming to fruition in today’s global economy.

It should be no surprise then, that today’s conglomeration of banks and financial institutions has taken full advantage of these flaws to enrich themselves and their closest allies and friends, at the expense of the rest of the world’s population.

This begs the question: How might a sound monetary foundation instead be used for the benefit of many?


Fees And Inescapable Debt

Many people wonder, how exactly do banks make so much money? The answer is more complicated than first imagined. There was a time that the bulk of a bank’s revenues would have been gathered via fees and loan interest. Over recent decades, however, we have seen banks expanding their reach, extending a broader umbrella over much more economic activity.

While fees and loans do make up a pretty hefty sum of a commercial bank’s revenues, it’s really just scratching the surface of the money that banks can access and thus control.

The key concept that carries through all of the tools that a bank uses to make itself wealthy is that money gets continuously concentrated into greater density, funneling into an ever-tinier proportion of the population.

Fees are certainly one of the major ways banks do generate substantial revenues, often at the greatest expense of those with the least money. One can observe, just by examining fee structures alone, that an inversely proportional relationship exists between banks’ revenues from clients and the economic status of those clients.

To sum up the relationship; the lower the income of the bank client, the higher the proportional cost of accessing bank services tends to be.

The lowest income-earners might even forego using a bank account entirely due to the basic monthly fees that can be unaffordable to those on the socio-economic fringe. Many major banks charge monthly fees to clients who don’t keep a balance of at least $1,500, for example.

Such a potential client might resort to instead using cash or perhaps buying prepaid debit cards with high fees. Any borrowing activity would be of the payday loan nature, where users are often charged predatory interest rates. Such loans, of course, are not of the forward-thinking investment variety, but are instead usually borrowed to cover emergency expenses or basic living costs.

While payday and other unsecured loans have traditionally been under the purview of businesses outside the banking system, the market for these sorts of loans is changing. Not wishing to leave such profitable potential returns languishing on the sidelines, more banks are beginning to offer such lending options to their most financially-vulnerable clientele.

Payday LoansPayday Loans
source: wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu

Moving up a step from the lowest rung of the economic ladder, a bank account holder with limited to moderate means may get access to basic credit cards.

Charging upwards of 15% on any borrowed funds, payment schemes on credit cards are often designed to encourage low-income borrowers to make minimum payments that will squeeze out the maximum amount of interest charges over the longest period of time.

Penalty interest rates charged to these clients for late payments often approach the maximum legal amount of 29.99%. These same clients are often encouraged to increase their credit limit and are enticed with “You’re richer than you think” ads that conflate access to credit and its subsequent debt with actual wealth.

You're richer than you thinkYou're richer than you think
source: blogspot.com

Add to this the cost for overdrafts, penalties for moving accounts or mortgages, commissions on investments, and application fees for any of a wide variety of services, and it’s easy to see how banks can maximize their profits by leveraging the needs of the most vulnerable and, sadly, the most financially inept.

Without meaningful regulation, banks have proven time and time again to be willing to lend well beyond the means of borrowers. These businesses have often been shown to lure clients into unmanageable debts, especially for cars and homes, that they have no business having in the first place.

It rings consistent with the adage of “buy now, pay later” that is so predominant in modern culture. This has resulted in an economy that accepts extreme levels of national and personal debt, teetering on the edge of collapse as it attempts to endure through decades with little hope of escape.

Sadly, however, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how banks really pull in massive revenues.


Betting Against Clients And Workers

To be fair, banks are businesses; not charities. And they should indeed make money for their shareholders. One could make a fair argument for the justification of fees and the imposition of higher interest rates on higher-risk borrowers. Yet, no such argument can be made to support the reckless “investments” banks have been known to dabble in since being given the freedom to do so.

When Goldman Sachs hedged against an imminent housing collapse in 2007, it did so at the expense of its own clientele. Essentially, the firm pawned off bad debt to trusting investors who then were left with the losses.

Goldman went so far as to “sell short”, or bet against these bad debts after shilling them to clients, and then made off with huge profits when their bets paid off. Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, among others, also participated in this nefarious activity, costing American investors billions.

Sylvain R. Raynes, an expert in structured finance, assessed the clear conflict of interest in this all-too-common scenario: “When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else’s house and then committing arson.

Banks and other financial institutions were in on the action, working together to their own benefit, at the expense of the larger population. Unfortunately, when left to their own devices in their constant quest for further deregulation, such entities often do not compete for the betterment of the market at large.

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics and writer of “The Wealth of Nations”, warned of this problem when he explained that businesses will collude, not compete, if left unfettered, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Goodbye, Toys R Us
source: www.engadget.com

Similar predatory behavior is exhibited by private equity firms, which remain free to feast upon the assets of what have been long-standing retail companies, at the expense of their workers.

These financial predators take advantage of near-zero interest rates to borrow funds and purchase companies, not as an investment, but merely to consume them. After hollowing out the subsequently bankrupted companies by selling off their assets and seizing their pension funds, these parasitic institutions have brought an end to many a household name from Sears to KMart to Toys R Us, leaving workers bereft of jobs and deprived of what would have otherwise been secure retirements.


Banks And Criminal Behavior

Again, while banks should indeed be free to profit from legitimate activities, such freedom does not excuse banks from acts of fraud, collusion, and money laundering. Without going into a comprehensive list, here’s just a few recent samples of occasions where banks were caught in criminal behaviour:

  • Wells Fargo was fined for multiple account abuses, stealing funds from their own clients in a series of scams ranging from insurance and mortgage fraud to creating fake accounts and then charging customers fees for the created accounts.
  • HSBC was caught money laundering for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, essentially acting as a willing accomplice in large-scale crime, drug addiction, and murder. Netflix has a documentary about it.
  • JPMorgan Chase has been fined for corruption and fraudulent behavior numerous times, most infamously for their involvement in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. They even managed to pay some of their fines with money that was raised fraudulently.
  • The Bank of America has been bailed out by taxpayers after committing fraud against investors, homeowners, and other clients.
  • Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and other banks are also in on the criminal action.

And these are just examples of the times these criminals have been caught!

Banks have paid billions and billions of dollars in fines… yet the cost of committing these crimes is massively outweighed by the profit in continuing to accept fines as a cost of doing business.


Beating The Drums Of War

Since the innovation of fiat as a monetary system, easy money has gained the capacity to be weaponized, particularly when hostile economies choose alternative currencies that do not fall under the sovereignty of certain military powers.

Libya, Venezuela, and Iran again serve as reminders of this system, whereby the United States uses the dollar as a weapon, via sanctions. Excluding countries from the global monetary system commences a stranglehold that often leads to violent resolution. Thus, weapons, vehicles, and military forces can be produced and deployed, funded by infinitely printed fiat currency.

Weaponizing The DollarWeaponizing The Dollar
source: www.globalresearch.ca

Global authority and acceptance of the dollar is thereby enforced, first through sanctions, but eventually in many cases, through war.

Because the fiat currencies of the world have no genuine market value, sanctions and violence are the necessary means of coercion for maintaining a market “value” for such currencies. Thus, central banks and their allies continuously push for war in an effort to maintain the status quo.

This is performed in an effort to stave off economic slowdown and, importantly, to maintain the authority of fiat.

The enforced acceptance of easy money in the place of genuinely valuable hard money, which can instead be freely accepted by willing market participants, contributes to the corruption of monetary priorities in government policy.

This monetary perversion is most evident when one observes the astronomical government spending, nearing a trillion dollars annually when all components of military spending are counted, on America’s military industrial complex.

Military Expenditures By Country 2018Military Expenditures By Country 2018
source: wikimedia.org

Through taxation and highly effective inflationary tools like quantitative easing, American citizens are forced to fund a military that consumes more than half of all annual discretionary federal spending.

This totals an amount greater than the next ten countries spend on their military programs together.

To put this further into perspective, consider that the second highest spending priority in America’s discretionary federal budget is Health and Human Services, which includes Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care act. At a budget under $90 billion, less than 10% of what is spent on the military is spent on these programs.

Federal discretionary spending on education stands at $70 billion.

Trump Discretionary Budget Request 2019Trump Discretionary Budget Request 2019
source: nationalpriorities.org

Yet, the same spending policies continue from year to year, from term to term, and from government to government. With a constant stream of military contractors voraciously lobbying the government and convincing citizens of the ongoing need for more war, defense is no longer a priority.

Instead, perpetual war is the order of the day and, frankly, is necessary to keep the dollar on top against all competitors. Orwell had a point.


The Cantillon Effect

The undue influence of central bank fiat production and manipulation emerges most damagingly in what is referred to as the Cantillon Effect. In summation, central banks create buying power at the top amongst those who first have access to funds at no cost, with newly printed currency being filtered down through the economy as it gradually diminishes in value against assets.

This phenomenon results in inflation as the currency eventually trickles down to those at the bottom. Those who first receive the newly created money see a rise in income while those who receive it last experience a decline in purchasing power.

Because central and commercial banks, along with other financial institutions, hold a monopoly on the production and initial acquisition of previously non-existent money, they can purchase goods, services, and assets prior to the devaluation of the currency. This results in the lion’s share of the economic benefit concentrating further towards these institutions at the expense of the rest of the market.

The Cantillon Effect causes a sort of modern feudalism whereby an oligarchy of financial institutions has become the new “landowner” class, gathering up ownership of the vast majority of real-world assets, with the working citizenry taking on the role of the serfdom:

In the same manner as the landed aristocracy of times past extracted rent by virtue of monopolistic ownership of land, so today the financial oligarchy extracts interest and other financial charges by virtue of having concentrated the major bulk of national resources in their hands in the form of finance capital.” – Ismael Hossein-Zadeh and Anthony A. Gabb.

These modern-day feudal lords are able to acquire virtually interest-free money, enabling them to hoard real-world assets at the lowest possible cost. They can then profit from lending out the wealth at higher interest, returning even greater wealth back to themselves in an oppressive feedback loop that is predicated on the creation of fiat currency from thin air.


How The Monetary System Could Work For Individuals

It’s clear that the global monetary system needs a complete reboot. But such an enormous shift can’t be of the top-down nature. Clearly, it is against the interests of a tiny minority of extremely wealthy and powerful financial authorities to see such a monetary transformation take place.

This is a change that must happen organically. It can only be accomplished through the principle of decentralization.

With the creation of decentralized money, namely Bitcoin, no central authority can directly produce and enjoy the benefits of money creation and its initial distribution at the expense of all others. Competition and the freedom for anyone to participate in its production, distribution, and acquisition is baked into the protocol.

With hard money as the base layer, quantitative easing becomes impossible, allowing citizens to retain value in their money.

Decentralization of money production also negates the Cantillon Effect. With hard money as the base currency, easy money can not simply be fabricated out of thin air and doled out to those with the privilege of having first access to the funds. Decentralized, free-market money thus ends modern monetary feudalism by enabling “serfs” to become “landowners” themselves.

The benefits do not end with the abolition of quantitative easing and the Cantillon Effect. With wealth no longer being controlled strictly “at the top”, commercial banks can no longer gamble away client investments on bad debt, nor can they bet against the economy with the same degree of knowledge and influence previously available to them.

Even problems as simple as exorbitant fees can be minimized, as there would be no need for funds to be held in traditional bank accounts. Fees would be of the free-market nature, required for confirmation of transactions and to cover the costs of other financial services.

Borrowers could complete applications for loans via smart contracts, with decentralized lending made available on a broader scale. Clients could choose a lender with far greater market competition and freedom, rather than depending on a select few central authorities to approve loans.

Decentralized money also succeeds in removing the capacity for central and commercial banks to collude against clients. Without direct control of the currency, the technology significantly reduces the capacity of banks to commit acts of fraud or money-laundering. Banks can no longer so easily act as the laundry machine of cartels, with the distributed open ledger of Bitcoin being visible for all to examine and scrutinize.

The implications even reach into the corrupt lobbying of political systems and the current militarized condition of the world. No longer would a military industrial complex have the same undue influence on the government as it currently does with its access to easy money.

A political campaign funded by Bitcoin, for example, would be transparent and accountable, with donations being tracked and known. This eliminates the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” mentality of the current political campaign lobbying relationship.

Money can no longer be weaponized as it is with the current fiat system, since a decentralized monetary system holds no sway on a nation’s ability to trade with another nation. Thus, the capacity for military aggression and war diminishes.

In a decentralized monetary system, citizens enjoy financial sovereignty. Hard money, by nature, incentivizes saving, wiser spending, and investment.

As funds for unwanted costs cannot simply be siphoned away by banks and financial institutions via the printing of easy money, citizens can choose instead to spend on societal benefits and their own free market choices, without the need for any form of coercion by central powers.


In Part Five of this series, we move into more political territory, considering the thesis that political extremism inevitably results in greater centralization: in a highly-controlled markets such as under a Communist government, that may be a nepotistic oligarchy; while under unfettered free-market capitalism, it might manifest as a corpocracy.

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Industries Economics
Blockchain Tech Economics

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How to improve your credit score for loan applications

You can use an online credit reference agency such as Equifax, Experian or Credit Karma to check your credit file for free. On your credit file, you will …

Applying for loans can be stressful, especially if you have a low credit score. Whether you’re applying for car finance, a mortgage, credit card, personal loan or any other type of credit, you’ll usually need a good credit score to be accepted for a loan.

If you’ve ever been refused car finance in the past or any other type of loan, you’ll know how disheartening it can be. Your best chance of being accepted for different types of loans is to increase your credit score. There are a few easy ways in which you can increase your credit score.

Check your credit file

The first thing you should do before you apply for any sort of loan is check your credit file. Before you can start rebuilding your credit score you should know where you stand. It can also be surprising if you don’t know how good or bad your credit is. You can use an online credit reference agency such as Equifax, Experian or Credit Karma to check your credit file for free.

On your credit file, you will get access to a credit score, personal details, a list of your credit accounts, any financial partners, public record information such as County Court Judgements, electoral roll information and previous/current addresses. All of this information can be viewed by yourself and is sometimes available to some potential lenders, depending on the type of search they provide on your credit file.

Improve your credit score

Register on the electoral roll

Many people don’t know that this is an easy way to increase your credit score. In the UK, the electoral roll is an official list of people in a certain area who are entitled to vote in an election. Even if you don’t care about voting, being registered on the electoral roll can increase your credit score. This information is provided on your credit file and lenders use this info to very that you are who you say you are and your current address. Lenders tend to favour people who don’t move around as much so this can strengthen your applications.

Pay all your bills on time

This may seem simple, but it can be quite hard if you have had trouble in the past making repayments on time. However, even a few months’ worth off meeting all your financial deadlines can increase your credit score. Your credit score is all about future predictions, so showing evidence to potential lenders that you are a responsible borrower can work in your favour. If you struggle making repayments, why not set up direct debits for the day after you get paid or use payment reminders on your phone or calendar? You should also try to make your payments in full as making the minimum payment requested on credit cards or store cards may indicate to lenders that you are struggling to handle your current credit.

Check your file for mistakes

As mentioned, the first thing you should do is check your credit file. When you check your file, you should make sure all your information listed is accurate and up to date. Even an incorrect address history or spelling mistake can affect your credit score. You should also look for any fraudulent activity. If you suspect any fraudulent activity, you should contact your credit reference agency as soon as possible. Your identity could be used to build up debt which you will be liable for. You should also ask the credit reference agency to make a note of any corrections on your credit file to make it clear that the activity was not your fault.

Check for any financial partners

You can take out joint credit with other trusted partners to strengthen your credit applications. For example, many people who are search for bad credit car finance many be worried about being accepted so providing a joint application can increase your chances of being approved. If you have taken out credit in the past with someone as a joint application, you may still be financially linked. If you no longer have an open application with someone else, it’s best to disassociate yourself. If your financial partner has credit difficulties, this can also drag your score down too. You should contact the credit reference agency to make a note of the dissociations on your credit file.

Keep your credit utilisation low

When you take out credit, you will have a credit utilisation which is the amount of available credit which you actually use. For example, if your available credit is £1,000 and you’ve used £500, this means your credit utilisation ration is 50% Usually using less of your available credit can be seen a positive thing to lenders. As a general rule of thumb, you should only use around 30% of your available credit. This indicates to lenders that you are responsible with the money you have borrowed.

Don’t make multiple credit applications

When you apply for any sort of credit, potential lenders will usually check your credit file. If you are shopping around for the best loans, it’s best to stick to companies who only provide a soft search on your file. A soft search is recorded on your credit file but won’t affect your credit score and isn’t visible to lenders. A hard search however is recorded on your credit file so lenders will be able to see when you have been declined for credit. Multiple hard searched in a short space of time can lower your credit score and affect your chances of being approved for loans.

Consider a credit building card

If you have a low credit score because you have no credit history, you could consider a credit building card. A credit building card is designed for people who have little or no credit and can also help people with bad credit. You can use these cards to make a few payments each month and then pay them back on time and in full, this can provide strong evidence that you are able to make your repayments. However, you should only consider a credit building card if you are confident you can make your payments on time. Never take out a credit building card if you are unsure about repayments as this may result in more debt if you can’t keep on top of your payments.

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MediaValet Settles $1.2M of Convertible Debentures

VANCOUVER , Sept. 12, 2019 /CNW/ – MediaValet Inc. (MVP.V) (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that, further to its news release of August 21 …

VANCOUVER , Sept. 12, 2019 /CNW/ – MediaValet Inc. (MVP.V) (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that, further to its news release of August 21 st, 2019, it has closed its offering to the holders of its convertible debentures (the “Debentures”) and associated common share purchase warrants (the “Debenture Warrants”) in exchange for units (the “Units”) at the rate of one Unit for each $0.525 principal amount of the Debentures retired. The Units consist of one share and one common share purchase warrant, each warrant exercisable to acquire an additional common share for $0.90 per share for a period expiring on September 12 th, 2022. The expiry of the warrants is subject to acceleration on the same terms as the warrants issued pursuant to the private placement offering which closed on September 10 th, 2019.

Pursuant to the Debt Settlement, the Company has issued 2,287,162 Units for a total settlement of $1,200,762 convertible debentures. The participating holders of the Debentures and Debenture Warrants have agreed to the cancellation of their respective Debentures and Debenture Warrants in Exchange for the Units. Holders of an aggregate $350,000 of the Debentures and 466,666 Debenture Warrants, have elected to not participate and will retain their existing Debentures and Debenture Warrants.

Debentures settled by insiders of the Company accounted for 1,952,531 Units representing approximately $1,025,080 of the principal amount settled. Such participation constituted a “related party transaction” within Multilateral Instrument 61-101 – Protection of Minority Security Holders in Special Transactions (“MI 61-101”). The issuance to the insiders is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements of MI 61-101 as the fair market value of the Units issued, or the consideration paid by such person, did not exceed 25% of the Company’s market capitalization.

All securities issued in connection with the settlement of the Debentures are subject to a statutory hold period of four months plus a day in accordance with applicable securities legislation ending on January 13, 2020 .

The transaction is subject to the final approval of the TSX Venture Exchange.

This new release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any of the securities in the United States . The securities that are issued pursuant to the Exchange Settlement Offer have not been and will not be registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “U.S. Securities Act”), or under any state securities law and may not be offered or sold within the United States or to U.S. persons unless registered under the U.S. Securities Act and applicable state securities laws or an exemption from such registration is available.

About MediaValet Inc.

MediaValet stands at the forefront of the enterprise, cloud-based, digital asset management industry. Built exclusively on Microsoft Azure and available within 140 countries, across 54 Microsoft data center regions around the world, MediaValet delivers unparalleled enterprise class security, reliability, redundancy and scalability while offering the largest global footprint of any DAM solution. In addition to providing all core enterprise DAM capabilities, local desktop-to-server support for creative teams, and overall cloud redundancy and management for all source, WIP and final assets, MediaValet offers industry leading integrations into Slack, Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office 365, WorkFront, Wrike, Drupal 8, WordPress, Hootsuite and many other best-in-class 3rd party applications.

Follow MediaValet: Blog, Twitter and LinkedIn

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENT

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Information set forth in this news release contains forward-looking information and statements that are based on assumptions as of the date of this news release. These statements reflect management’s current estimates, beliefs, intentions and expectations. They are not guarantees of future performance. The terms and phrases “goal”, “commitment”, “guidance”, “expects”, “would”, “will”, “continuing”, “drive”, “believes”, “indicate”, “look forward”, “grow”, “outlook”, “forecasts”, “intend”, and similar terms and phrases are intended to identify these forward-looking statements, including but not limited to statements regarding the receipt of regulatory approvals for the settlement. The Company cautions that all forward looking information and statements are inherently uncertain and that actual performance may be affected by a number of material factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control. Such factors include, among other things: risks and uncertainties relating to the Company’s ability to receive all necessary regulatory approvals. Accordingly, actual and future events, conditions and results may differ materially from the estimates, beliefs, intentions and expectations expressed or implied in the forward looking information. Except as required under applicable securities legislation, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise forward-looking information.

SOURCE MediaValet Inc.

View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/September2019/12/c4434.html

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Mogo Finance Technology (TSE:MOGO) Downgraded by BMO Capital Markets

BMO Capital Markets lowered shares of Mogo Finance Technology (TSE:MOGO) from an outperform rating to a market perform rating in a research …

Mogo Finance Technology Inc logoBMO Capital Markets lowered shares of Mogo Finance Technology (TSE:MOGO) from an outperform rating to a market perform rating in a research note published on Friday, August 16th, BayStreet.CA reports. They currently have C$3.50 price target on the stock, down from their previous price target of C$7.00.

Shares of MOGO stock traded down C$0.17 during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting C$3.87. 6,771 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 64,272. Mogo Finance Technology has a 52-week low of C$2.71 and a 52-week high of C$5.23. The company has a market cap of $109.79 million and a PE ratio of -9.44. The company has a quick ratio of 7.74, a current ratio of 8.04 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 996.95. The firm has a fifty day moving average of C$3.70 and a 200 day moving average of C$3.94.

Mogo Finance Technology Company Profile

Mogo Finance Technology Inc operates as a financial technology company in Canada. The company offers solutions that help consumers to manage and control their finances. It offers free credit score monitoring; MogoProtect, an identity fraud protection solution; MogoCard, a Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card; MogoMortgage, a digital mortgage solution; MogoCrypto account; and MogoMoney that enables the buying and selling of bitcoin, as well as access to consumer credit products.

Featured Article: What is a Leveraged Buyout (LBO)?

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Free yourself from living paycheck to paycheck

To start, Credit Karma gives you free access to your credit score and can help you compare the best offers for credit cards and loans that won’t hurt …

(BPT) – About 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, often struggling between paydays. If this is a challenge for you, here are three easy ways that can help you get from one paycheck to the next with ease, avoid financial pitfalls, and even come out ahead.

Avoid overdrafts and late fees

Since most people are paid bi-weekly, money you’ve already earned is being held up, often right when you need to pay bills. Instead of overdrawing your bank account and getting hit with fees or using high-interest credit cards to bridge the gap to payday, there are apps you can use to get your pay when you need it.

With Earnin, community members can use Cash Out to access pay they’ve already earned with no fees, loans or hidden costs. Community members pay what they choose for the service (even $0) and can access up to $100 per day or $500 per pay period. Once your paycheck is deposited, the money is automatically paid back to Earnin.

Avoiding overdrafts can be challenging, especially if you have automatic withdrawals. Earnin also offers members a Balance Shield feature, which sends out push notifications anytime your account falls below a certain amount. While most banks send low balance alerts to customers, Earnin allows members to choose to link to Cash Out, so that up to $100 will automatically be transferred into your account if it falls below $100 — and that’s money from your own upcoming paycheck, with no fee.

Paying for everyday essentials like food, rent, bills and transportation are among the top reasons the Earnin community accesses their pay before their pay period. An internal Earnin analysis found that if community members made the same purchases but hadn’t used Earnin, they would have incurred over $100 million in overdraft fees in June 2019 alone.

Look for alternative services to help manage your money

A new crop of innovative apps, services and resources can help you get into a better financial mindset when it comes to saving and investing for your future. Before you refinance your student loan, commit to new health insurance or take a loan out, educate yourself on the options available to you.

To start, Credit Karma gives you free access to your credit score and can help you compare the best offers for credit cards and loans that won’t hurt your credit. If you are looking to incorporate investing as part of your savings strategy, apps like Stash, Acorns and Robinhood can be great beginners’ tools to help you save money but ease you into the world of investing. Or if you’re in the market for renter’s insurance, which can help protect your personal property in case of theft, fire, vandalism or water loss like from burst pipes, Lemonade is a low-cost option to pay claims faster, and any leftover money goes to a charity of your choosing. Did you know renter’s insurance can also help pay for temporary living expenses and even personal liability and medical bills?

Negotiate

Consider investing your personal time to call service providers — cable, cell phone, car insurance or creditors — it can pay off. Many companies and utilities will negotiate a better deal or help you organize a payment plan so you can pay a portion of your balance each month. It helps to contact them proactively, rather than waiting until bills are past due.

If you, your spouse or child has outstanding medical, dental, vision or mental health bills, Earnin may be able to help with its new product Health Aid. Members simply send a photo of an unpaid medical bill through the app, and Earnin community advocates work to negotiate the bill on their behalf to get a more favorable payment plan, find financial aid options or even get the bill reduced. Results are delivered within two business days, and members pay what they choose for the service after they’re presented with their savings options. Currently, this service is only available to Earnin members who use Cash Out, and will be rolled out to others in the future.

Using these tips may help you breathe again, knowing you aren’t paying high-interest loans, getting hit with exorbitant fees or asking friends and family to spot you money to get you through until payday. You can have more peace of mind and more control over your financial future by avoiding the damage caused by the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

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