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10 financial steps to take the minute you lose (or quit) your job

(FINANCE) If you quit your job or get laid off, money can be a tremendous stressor. Here are some ways you can immediately take control.

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finances

Quitting or losing your job?

Whether you saw it coming or not, being laid off is always a bit of a shock. And even after months of consideration, quitting your job can leave you wondering what comes next, and how you’ll stay afloat until that next thing actually comes along.

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Traditional advice emphasizes dipping into savings, but for many Americans, that’s just not an option.

What do you do when you barely have a month’s worth of expenses, if that, and your career is in transition?

Do these ten things and feel calmer, more confident, and ready to conquer that job search with everything you’ve got.

10 things to do right away

(1) What do you have? Checking and savings accounts are an obvious place to start, but don’t neglect stocks, bonds, 401(k)s, and even the cash you have lying around. Depending on how you manage them, credit card points could be a small boon. Liquidate them for groceries, or cash them in to cover moving expenses if your situation is dire. Don’t forget to take into account any debts you owe, through your credit cards, student loans, or otherwise.

(2) What could you get? If you were laid off, you may be eligible for a severance package from your former employer, and this might be something you can negotiate. Don’t sell yourself short here. Being laid off also grants you access to unemployment benefits, and it could only hurt you to wait to apply. It only takes about an hour, and you can expect to hear back in about a week. Expect to receive a maximum of about half your former salary, and in some states you’ll need to fill out a weekly form to prove you’re actively looking for work.

(3) What could you get if you really, truly had no other options? I’m talking credit, and should definitely be your last resort. Nonetheless, it can be reassuring to know what could be there for you if you needed it, and if you inform yourself now about the various interest rates and other terms, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions down the line.

(4) How do you spend? This is going to take some time, but it’ll be worth it. Look at bank statements and credit card statements from the past two or three months to figure out how you’ve been spending your money lately. Keep track of predictable recurring payments like gym memberships and car payments, as well as more variable bills like electricity and water. If you haven’t moved recently, you could even check out utility bills from last year that correspond to the upcoming months, to get a more accurate estimate of what’s in front of you.

After rent and bills, create categories for your spending. You could simply use “Transportation,” “Food,” and “Entertainment,” or you could get more specific: “Transportation,” “Groceries,” “Restaurants,” “Movies,” and “Bars” might cover most things, and you could throw in a “Misc” for good measure. Do what makes sense for you – just be sure you get it all.

(5) How will you spend? Don’t forget expenses you may need to pay now that you’re unemployed. If you got insurance through your employer, you’ll need to find your own coverage. Same goes for gym memberships, public transit passes, etc.

(6) What can you cut? Now you know exactly how much you have, and how much you *want* to have for normal monthly expenditures. But since you don’t have your regular income anymore, unless you’ve been miraculously good at saving, you’re going to need to cut back. It’s important, though, to not cut out every little thing that makes life worth living. Sitting in a cold, dark room eating ramen and drinking tepid water isn’t going to get you fired up for a job search.

Do you actually use and need Netflix, HBO Now, and Hulu to be happy? Pause one or two until you’re back on your feet. Could you run on a trail instead of a treadmill? Could you improve your cooking skills and only eat out occasionally? You have more time on your hands – put it to good use and save some dough.

We recommend checking out Truebill which will find, track, and help you cancel subscriptions (some you won’t even remember you are paying for).

(7) Make a comprehensive budget. After you’ve gotten a handle on your assets and your expenses, plan out a monthly budget for the next six months or so. This is how much you can spend in each category every month, and it should have a little wiggle room for random fun so your soul doesn’t die. If you’re thinking, “There’s no way I have enough money to survive for six months,” don’t worry. Help is coming your way.

(8) Pay attention to your groceries. Do you have a tendency to buy a bunch of stuff that sounds good but that you’ll never cook, or that can’t possibly be combined to make an edible meal? Fix that by planning out your meals in advance and buying what you need for those meals. Limiting the number of trips to the store can also reduce random purchases.

(9) Get a job-related gig. Finding a part-time job of some sort ensures a steady stream of income and enough time to dedicate to your real job – job searching. Were you a copywriter? There are a million freelance copywriting gigs with your name on them. Teacher? Try tutoring. If you can find a gig that falls under your career umbrella, it’ll be worth putting on a resume and you won’t have to explain away an awkward gap.

(10) Get a random gig. Although not ideal, the gig economy has officially arrived, and it means you’ve got options. If your career doesn’t lend itself to part-time gigs, or if you’re ready for a break from your usual job description, consider taking on a different role. Drive for Uber or Lyft (or any number of smaller rideshare companies), deliver with Favor or Postmates – check out the services available in your area, and look at community-based job and gig posting boards like Craigslist for time filling gigs.

This too shall pass

You might get paid to fill out surveys, or be a movie extra, or hand out flyers. As long as it isn’t something that makes you so miserable you have no willpower or time left for writing cover letters, any paying gig could be worth checking out.

If you follow these ten steps, you should feel in control and ready to conduct a calm and thoughtful job search, instead of sending out resumes in a panic and accepting the first offer that comes along. Your next job should be an improvement on the last, and financial security will allow you to focus on finding the right fit.

#Finances

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Business Finance

Clyde helps smaller brands to offer product protection programs

(BUSINESS FINANCE) For small brands that sell not-so-little items, Clyde is a big deal! Now you can offer product protection normally reserved for the big brands.

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product protection

For small businesses seeking to adapt to their new or growing online presence, Clyde, a platform allowing small business consumers to receive extended warranties and protection on purchases may be the answer.

Due to the current pandemic, online retailers have reported on average, a 200% increase in digital sales. Online commerce is only expected to continue its growth with 52% of consumers suggesting they will not return to in-store shopping, post COVID-19. With online shopping in demand, stolen packages, damaged products, and lost goods are also surging.

If you’re ordering from a superstore like Amazon, Target, or Walmart, chances are your items are protected and will be quickly replaced upon a discovery of any of the above issues. However, for smaller companies, protection on consumer goods is usually not offered, not because smaller companies don’t want to give their customers this option, but because finding insurance for small businesses is hard.

Clyde, a company working to provide product protection programs to small retailers through the navigation and connection to insurance companies, intends to change that. Clyde gives small businesses or as their CEO, Brandon Gell, would say, “everybody that’s not Amazon and Walmart,” the opportunity to provide their customers with individual product protection or an extended warranty contract that can be purchased at checkout.

Clyde also provides the retailer with a portion of the insurance profit, serving as an incentive for smaller companies who usually get left out of this profitable market. Product protection is responsible for a whopping $50 billion market, so getting in on the game is key. The company also provides sellers with critical data analytics, product performance statistics, that otherwise would not be obtainable to smaller companies.

Not only is Clyde protecting consumer purchases, but its mantra acts in the best interest of smaller companies normally left out of big commerce perks. The company’s dedication to provide smaller businesses with access to revenue and its consumers with product protection at a time where the demand is higher than ever may allow this company to flourish.

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Business Finance

Will cash still be king after COVID-19?

(EDITORIAL) Physical cash has been a preferred mode of payment for many, but will COVID-19 push us to a cashless future at an even faster rate?

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No more Cash

Say goodbye to the almighty dollar, at least the paper version. Cashless is where it’s at, and COVID-19 is at least partially to thank–or blame, depending on your perspective.

Let’s face it, we were already headed that direction. Apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay have made cashless transactions painless enough that even stubborn luddites were beginning to migrate to these convenient payment methods. Then COVID-19 hit the world and suddenly, handling cash is a potential danger.

In 2020, the era of COVID-19, the thought of all the possible contaminants traveling around on an old dollar bill makes most of us cringe. Keep your nasty sock money, boob money, and even your pocket money to yourself, sir or madam, because I’ll have none of it! Nobody knows or wants to know where your money has been. We like the idea of taking your money, sure, but not the idea of actually touching it…ewww, David. Just ewww.

There is no hard evidence that cash can transmit COVID-19 from one person to the other, but perception is a powerful agent for changing our behavior. It seems plausible, considering the alarming rate this awful disease is moving through the world. Nobody has proven it can’t move with money.

There was a time when cash was king. Everyone took cash; everyone preferred it. Of course, credit cards have been around forever, but they’ve always been just as problematic as they are convenient. Like GrubHub and similar third party food delivery apps, banks end up charging both the business and the consumer with credit cards. It’s a trap. Cash cut out the (greedy) middle man.

Plus, paying with a credit card could be a pain. Try paying a taxi driver with a credit card prior to, oh, about 2014 when Uber hit the scene big time. Most drivers refused to take cash, because credit cards take a percentage off the top. Enter rideshare companies like Uber. Then in walks Square. Next PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay enter the scene. Suddenly, cabbies would like you to know they now take alternate forms of payment, and with a smile.

It’s good in a way, but it may end up hurting small businesses even more in the long run. The harsh reality of this current moment is that you shouldn’t be handling cash. No less an authority than the CDC recommends contactless forms of payment whenever possible. However, those cabbies weren’t wrong.

The banking industry has been pushing for a reduced reliance on cash since the 1950s, when they came up with the idea of credit cards. It was a stroke of evil genius to come up with more ways to expedite our lifelong journey into crushing debt.

The financial titans are very, very good at what they do, at the expense of all the rest of us. The New York Times reported on the trend, noting:

“In Britain alone, retailers paid 1.3 billion pounds (about $1.7 billion) in third-party fees in 2018, up £70 million from the year before, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Payment and processing companies such as PayPal (whose stock is up about 55 percent this year) and Adyen, based in the Netherlands (up 72 percent), also stand to gain.”

All kinds of banking-related industries stand to benefit as well. Maybe we’ll go back to spending physical cash one day, but I don’t think there’s any hurry. Fewer old grandpas are hiding their cash in their proverbial mattresses, and the younger, most tech-savvy generation seems perfectly content to use their smart phones for everything.

We get it. Convenience plus cleanliness is a sweet combo. If only cashless payments weren’t such a racket.

If this trend towards a cashless future continues, future travelers may not experience what it’s like to fumble with foreign currency, to smile and shrug and hand over a handful of bills because they have no idea how many baht, pesos, or rand those snacks are. They may not experience the realization that other countries’ bills come in different shapes and sizes, and may not come home with the most affordable souvenirs (coins and bills).

We shall see what the future holds. Odds are, it may not be cash money, at least in the U.S. I hope the cashless movement makes room for everyone to participate without being penalized. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, people. We need to find more ways to ease the path for people, not callously profit off of them.

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Business Finance

How NASA helps small businesses reach for the stars

(BUSINESS FINANCE) NASA has been providing $51 million in grants to small businesses and innovators.

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NASA grants

With the political and social climate that we are all trying to survive this summer, there only seems to be a few things that bring us a light of hope. For some it’s the little gestures that keeps the smiles on our faces; little helping hands that keep us going from day to day. But thanks to some forethought in our government system, there are some rather large helping hands coming down from the top as well. The organization that sends people to the moon is also making some dreams come true here on Earth.

NASA has just announced their latest batch of small business grants. Grants that amount to a total of approximately $51 million. This money is being sent out at the most crucial early-stage of small business funding. Over 300 businesses are receiving up to $125,000 to develop and bring new technologies to the world.

This grant system has been in place nearly as long as NASA itself. The Small Business Innovation Research/Technology transfer program is designed to bring in entrepreneurs and inventors’ ideas, and combine them with NASA’s assets to bring their dreams to fruition, bringing something from the lab to the marketplace.

It is set up into a three-phase system. According to The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), the first phase, Idea Generation, provides grantees with up to $125,000 for a 6 – 12 month period to “establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II”. If they succeed, they may be eligible to move onto Phase II, where they will be awarded a new grant of $750,000 for 2 years to continue the R&D efforts and start on a Prototype Development. Phase III is called the Infusion/Commercialization stage and it is the culmination of years of work and grant access for these businesses. This also includes a few extra requirements like matching funding for things like marketing.

Over the years, the selection has covered numerous disciplines with an extraordinary range of industries. Some of the highlights this year are high-power solar arrays, a smart air traffic control system for urban use, a water purification system for use on the moon, and improved lithium-ion batteries. These are just a few of the many innovative projects. The list covers a huge assortment, but a few people have noted the number of neuromorphic computing efforts as well.

This list is updated periodically throughout the year as each deadline is met from previous grant holders. It’s a constantly updating assortment of tomorrow’s toys, and a great way to look toward the future.

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