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Cash Back Credit Cards Help Curb Inflation

(NewsUSA) - Whether you are at the gas pump, the grocery store or even shopping online, the higher prices resulting from the current state of inflation are hitting everyone hard. Fortunately, smart consumers can find ways to help reduce the inflation burden.     

One easy way to curb inflation is by getting cash back on your credit card purchases. For the maximum in savings and flexibility, look for credit cards that offer the highest percentages of cash back along with other benefits and opportunities to optimize your investments, as well as your purchases.     

SoFi, a modern personal finance company, has created a unique credit card designed to help you keep more money in your pocket and reach your financial goals.     

“SoFi is a one-stop shop for people’s financial needs. Our unique technology stack and broad suite of products enable us to build offerings that work better when you use them together,” says Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi.     

It is easy to apply for a credit card online, but the ways the SoFi credit card helps consumers makes this one ideal for curbing inflation.     

- Save money simply. The SoFi credit card does not charge an annual fee and lets you earn up to 3% cash back for a full year once you are approved. To qualify for the 3% cash back reward, users must set up direct deposit through the SoFi network. Users can choose to send deposits directly to their high-yield checking or savings account. Also, there’s no need to worry about minimum balance requirements in your accompanying SoFi account; there aren’t any.     

- Enjoy extra benefits. Users who make 12 consecutive on-time payments can lower their APR by 1%. Other benefits include complimentary cell phone insurance coverage of up to $1,000, no foreign transaction fees when traveling overseas and Mastercard ID theft protection, which protects your personal information by identifying and alerting you to potential fraud.     

- Cash in on crypto. The SoFi credit card allows users to redeem their cash back directly into cryptocurrency; the funds go into your SoFi active invest account. This option allows you to trade crypto, as well as stocks and ETFs.     

- Pay down debt. SoFi credit card users earn two reward points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases, but you choose how you use these rewards. Deposit them as cash into your checking and savings account, as a fractional share in your investment account, as cryptocurrency or as payments towards SoFi personal or student loans.     

Keep these smart strategies in mind, and you can make the most of your money and credit to help manage the challenges of inflation. 

Blockchain for A Greener Future: What You Need to Know

(NewsUSA) - Cryptocurrency, NFT, Web 3.0; these buzzwords have gained popularity in recent years. But what do all these terms have in common? They all have the same underlying technology, blockchain.   

Although blockchain-related projects such as NFT collections have been heavily criticized for their extensive energy consumption and negative environmental impact, a new entry into the blockchain space aims to show the world how blockchain technology can be used to benefit the environment.     

Komori, developed by Eco Labs, Inc., is on a mission to utilize NFT technology to drive environmental change on a mass scale through their global ecosystem of sustainability partners. The project follows the ancient creatures known as the Komori, awakening after millions of years, to help save our planet.     

The Komori community is a purpose-driven collective of passionate individuals who want to leave a positive mark on the planet. A primary goal for the Komori project is to help eliminate the environmental misconceptions surrounding blockchain technology, and to encourage businesses, NGOs, and individuals to embrace this technology and leverage it in their own missions to incite social and environmental change.     

“The Komori are here to serve as a clear and powerful representation of how NFTs can restore and protect our planet through direct, mass-scale, real-world impact,”. says Eco Labs founder Kiro Akira.     

“By challenging the traditional ideas and models for driving environmental change, we aim to not only empower the NFT space to adopt more sustainable practices, but to inspire the world to utilize the unprecedented levels of scalability and transparency that blockchain technology provides for social and environmental good,” Akira emphasizes.     

In alignment with Komori’s focus on education, the project intends to spotlight environmentally friendly blockchains, such as Solana.     

Solana is a notably-energy-efficient blockchain which is a key reason why Komori is being built on it and encourages others to do the same. In fact, one Solana transaction uses only 1,939 Joules, which is less than the amount of energy required to complete two Google searches, according to the Solana Foundation. The Solana Foundation, which has offset the entire carbon footprint of the Solana network and has pledged to remain carbon neutral in perpetuity.     

Visit komori.io for more information on how Komori is driving environmental change with blockchain technology.

5 Strategies for LGBTQ+ Couples to Meet Their Financial Goals

(NewsUSA) - Making sense of your personal finances can feel overwhelming for anyone, but for LGBTQ+ couples, financial planning can be particularly complex. A patchwork of state and federal policies can make it difficult for couples to understand all the benefits and challenges the law presents for them. Many LGBTQ+ couples also invest considerable time and resources toward  ensuring that their assets are secure, and their families are protected, should the political landscape change.     

Here are five strategies that LGBTQ+ couples can use to help manage their money and reach their financial goals:     

1. Reimagine your retirement plan. LGBTQ+ couples can work together to fund their retirement in ways you might not have considered. For example, for married couples, a spouse with eligible compensation could make an IRA contribution on behalf of their nonworking spouse. Couples should also make sure their spouse, partner or loved one is named as the beneficiary on their retirement plan.     

2. Make your partnership official. The legalization of same-sex marriage means LGBTQ+ couples might gain financial benefits from getting married, such as federal protection for certain asset types. If you decide not to get married, you may want to consider creating a domestic partnership agreement that incorporates financial planning strategies to protect your assets and your loved one.     

3. Plan for your future family. If you’re interested in having children, you may need to save more and budget for adoption agency fees or fertility treatments, as well as increased health coverage for your growing family.       

4. Create an estate plan. This is particularly important if you own significant assets, such as multiple retirement accounts or real estate. You may want to establish an irrevocable trust for some or all these assets to ensure seamless wealth transfer to your loved ones. Your financial planner will walk you through estate planning to ensure your loved ones are protected. In addition to living wills, LGBTQ+ couples should have documents such as health care proxies and medical powers of attorney in place to support end-of-life decision-making.     

5. Meet with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional. CFP® professionals have the education and experience to help LGBTQ+ couples navigate their unique and complex financial situations. Working with a CFP® professional can help you focus on your financial goals and priorities, whether you want to create a holistic financial plan or just want some financial guidance on a specific topic.     

For more financial planning resources and to find a CFP® professional near you, visit LetsMakeAPlan.org. Use the LGBTQ+ Individuals/Couples filter to narrow your search to CFP® professionals who are allies or members of the LGBTQ+ community.     

By exploring your financial situation together and mapping out a path to follow, you and your loved one will feel more confident about your financial choices.

How to Protect Your Aging Parents From Financial Fraud

(NewsUSA) - Today, many adults have elderly parents who live independently. As the number of digital scammers preying on the elderly increases, however, your aging parents are at higher risk of financial fraud.     

“You must be ready to safeguard your parents against the growing threat of digital scammers and become their trusted advocate,” says Laura J. LaTourette, CFP.® Not long ago, LaTourette had to come to the aid of her own mother, who had been targeted by scammers pretending to help upgrade her computer.     

Here are several tips LaTourette offers for protecting your parents’ finances as they age:     

• Talk it over. Sometimes talking about money is tricky, even with close family members. Older adults need to understand that they are at risk for fraud if they don’t have someone to help manage their money as they age. Ask about spending, saving and philanthropic habits, and know who has access to your parents’ account information.     

• Form a team. Enlist other family members if needed, and identify other trusted contacts with whom your parents feel comfortable discussing money matters. If your parents work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, set up a meeting to talk about fraud protection and create an elder care plan for your parents.     

• Make safety simple. Set up online account information, and show your parents how they and you can monitor account activity. Set up automatic withdrawals for monthly bills. If your parents still like to review and balance their checking accounts each month, use that as an opportunity to identify anything that looks out of the ordinary.     

• Establish power of attorney. As parents age, they may need someone else to communicate with financial institutions or health care providers. Make sure your parents have an updated power of attorney that lists you and/or any other trusted contacts. The same goes for a medical power of attorney.     

• Shred what you can. Many older adults have financial documents that don’t need to be kept, but because of sensitive information cannot simply be thrown out or recycled. Once you identify old financial documents, either shred them yourself at home or gather boxes of material to take to a community shredding event, which occur periodically in most communities.     

• Check their credit. Be sure to monitor your parents’ credit reports at least once a year; this helps ensure that no one is opening any false accounts using their identities.     

Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org for more information on how to assist your parents in safeguarding their finances as they age.

Reissue: June 15, 2022

Vacation Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank: 5 Tips for Summer Trips

(NewsUSA) - Summer marks the beginning of fun warm-weather activities, which for many people may include an eagerly anticipated summer vacation. U.S. travelers spent about $150 billion on summer travel in 2021, according to the Allianz Partners’ Vacation Confidence Index. Experts predict that spending will be higher in 2022.     

While summer trips can involve a hefty price tag, they don’t have to. Setting and sticking to a vacation budget will help you keep costs down. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional can work with you to plan ahead and save up for the vacation you want without sacrificing your financial health.     

Here are five tips to help you make the most of your summer vacation dollars:     

  1. Determine your total trip budget. Determine what you can afford and how much you are comfortable spending. Be sure to include often-overlooked costs such as parking fees, tips, internet service and souvenirs, as well as unexpected expenses. If you are traveling internationally, check the currency exchange rate and include any related fees in your budget.       
  2. Plan as far ahead as possible. There are typically more options and lower prices for lodging, flights, and rental cars when you book early. Planning ahead also gives you more time to save for your trip before departure day.    
  3. Get creative. You may be able to save money by booking flights for one or two family members at a time or buying one-way tickets instead of round-trip fares. In some places, private rentals may have lower nightly rates than hotels. Opting to travel by train, bus or an RV instead of flying might also cut costs.   
  4. Look for free or reduced-price activities at your destination. Festivals, farmers markets and concerts in the park are a few outdoor events that are often free to attend. Museums, historic sites and other popular attractions may offer coupons, discounts for advance ticket purchases or lower rates at certain times of day. And if you have children, be sure to check if discounted rates are available for certain age groups.         
  5. Pack your snacks. When possible, consider bringing food with you on a trip, or if your accommodations allow it, buying groceries when you arrive at your destination. Many grocery stores also sell pre-made sandwiches and other goodies that can save you money on lunches and snacks. If you’re staying at a resort, check to see if it offers an all-inclusive package. 

To find a CFP® professional near you to help you plan your next vacation, visit LetsMakeAPlan.org. With some thoughtful planning and careful budgeting, you can enjoy your time off without worrying about the financial consequences.

4 Different Ways Your Retirement Could Play Out

(NewsUSA) - 100.

That’s the age that 69 percent of Americans say they want to live till, according to a just-released “Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement” study conducted by financial services firm Edward Jones in partnership with Age Wave and The Harris Poll.  

If that seems surprising, it may be because most of us envision what used to be called our “golden years” unfolding far differently than they did for our parents and grandparents.  “Today’s retirees have a growing array of opportunities to stay engaged, possibly reinvent themselves, and enjoy the freedoms that stage of life affords,” said Edward Jones’ Ken Cella.

Ah, but, just how enjoyable your later years wind up being depends on which “path,” as Edward Jones calls it, you follow.

Purposeful Pathfinders

1.Purposeful Pathfinders

You’ve seen the photos of older couples hiking or happily sightseeing outside the Eiffel Tower, right?  Unless they inherited their wealth or hit the lottery – two things you don’t want to depend on – it’s likely because they began saving for retirement earlier (age 34, on average) than most of the more than 4,000 retirees surveyed and invested their money wisely along the way.  Ergo, with 78 percent of this group reporting that they’re in “great shape financially,” four words describe their retirement:  happy, engaged, productive and contributory.  

Relaxed Traditionalists

2.Relaxed Traditionalists

Rest, relaxation and generally enjoying life free from past responsibilities typify them.  They, too, have mainly heeded Edward Jones’ most important warning: “The value of financial foresight cannot be underestimated since the conventional three-legged stool for funding retirement – pensions, Social Security and personal savings – has become even more wobbly, and unexpected expenses like healthcare can arise.”  

The most open to relocating – including to an adult living community –moving was made easier for them since they’d been saving since age 37 and may even have used the sale of their house to finance it.    

Challenged Yet Hopefuls

3.Challenged Yet Hopefuls

Okay, here’s where things start to get a bit dicey.

Most of those surveyed said they should have started saving at age 29; this group, ruefully as they now admit, actually started at 45, which was seven years later than the average of those polled.  

Consequently, while they lead active lives and are doing the best with what they have, their retirement years are what you would call “constrained.”  

How constrained?  Half admitted to often worrying about outliving their money and 54 percent with retirement accounts have resorted to early withdrawals.

Regretful Strugglers

4.Regretful Strugglers

The name says it all.

The least prepared for retirement, they’re also unfortunately the largest group of retirees (31 percent) and have little if any savings.

They’re also the most unhappy, the most regretful about the choices they’ve made, and the most down on life in general.

Sounds bleak?  Wait, it gets worse.

A whopping two-thirds of them seriously worry about outliving their savings.  A fate you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy and one you can potentially avoid by consulting a financial advisor, like a trusted local one at Edward Jones, who can help bring you closer to the future you see for yourself.  Plus, one of the firm’s free online tools even lets you calculate whether you’re on track to save enough to retire when you want.    

Whether you live to be 100 or not is an entirely different story.

Reissue: June 15, 2022

2022 Champions League Final: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool Preview and Betting Picks

(NewsUSA) - Two of the biggest clubs in European soccer will face each other in the 2022 Champions League final as the Spanish top-flight league champions Real Madrid take on Liverpool. With 13 Champions League titles, Real Madrid are the most successful team in the most prestigious competition, while Liverpool’s six trophies are sitting third. Here are the Champions League predictions for the most anticipated match of the season, according to analysts at BetUS TV.

Real Madrid: Comeback Masters     

Real Madrid booked their place in the semi-finals after beating Chelsea 5-4 on aggregate, with Benzema scoring the winning goal in extra time.

“Outstanding comebacks are increasingly a staple of the modern Champions League, and this season they have belonged almost exclusively to Los Blancos, who took their UCL comebacks to another level,” says Gordon “Flash” Watson, senior soccer betting analyst and on-air personality at BetUS TV. “Not many fancied them to get through against PSG with the best striker of the season, Karim Benzema, scoring twice in two minutes to turn the tie on its head and set Madrid en route to the final.”

In the semi-finals, Los Blancos trailed Manchester City 1-0 heading into the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Pep Guardiola’s team leading 5-3 on aggregate. Two goals from Rodrygo, in the space of 90 seconds, forced extra time, and Carlo Ancelotti’s team set up a meeting with Liverpool in Paris when the one-and-only Karim Benzema scored from the penalty spot to claim a 3-1 victory.

Liverpool: Most Complete Team in Europe     

Liverpool beat Chelsea twice on penalties to win the FA Cup and League Cup. Jürgen Klopp’s side are sitting second in the Premier League behind leaders Man City, and the Reds have reached the Champions League final. The Reds extended their lead over Man United as England’s most successful club with 50 major trophies, and they still have the opportunity to move seven honors clear of historic rivals this month with the UCL final in sight. We could say that Liverpool had an easier path on their way to the final beating Villarreal, Benfica and Inter but still, they look to be one of the most complete teams in Europe’s top five leagues.

Real Madrid vs. Liverpool Betting Picks     

At this level, the margins are impossibly fine. The Champions League odds favor Liverpool but why risk a bet on the winners’ market when we know that this match will be a goal-fest? Both squads possess individual talent and skills, and they are fully packed with world-class players to make this a high-scoring affair. The potency of both teams has been evident all season across all competitions. Madrid’s last five UCL games have seen at least three goals on the scoresheet, while more than 2.5 goals have been scored in three of Liverpool’s previous four Champions League fixtures. Recent matchups between the two also favor the over, as two of their last three meetings have seen exactly four goals scored.

Pick: Both teams to score and over 2  goals in the match at -105.

Watch the full episode at BetUS TV as analysts discuss their betting strategies ahead of the UCL Final.  

Planning Your Financial Future with A Professional You Can Trust

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional makes a commitment to CFP Board to act as a fiduciary, which means acting in their clients' best interests at all times when providing financial advice. You should want a financial adviser who makes this commitment directly to you. Therefore, whomever you choose as your financial professional, including a CFP® professional, you should consider getting a written engagement that requires them to have a fiduciary obligation to you.

Professional standards are important to protect consumers. CFP Board's Code and Standards sets forth the commitment that all CFP® professionals make to CFP Board. This includes duties to maintain the confidentiality and protect the privacy of client information.

In addition, CFP® professionals commit to CFP Board to disclose any conflicts of interest that might affect the professional relationship and compromise the CFP® professional's ability to act in their clients' best interests.

Approximately one year ago, CFP Board updated its Code and Standards to mandate that all CFP® professionals commit to CFP Board to act as fiduciaries for their clients when providing financial advice.

"Simply put, someone acting as a fiduciary should deliver financial advice that is clear, specific, objective and thorough," says Dan Candura, a CFP Board Emeritus® member and Founder of Candura Group, LLC.

Professionals who follow CFP Board's Code and Standards commit to fulfilling three key duties as part of their fiduciary duty:

- Duty of Loyalty. This means putting their clients' interests first.

"Your interests should be placed above the interest of the CFP® professional and the CFP® professional's firm," according to CFP Board's website.

- Duty of Care. This means being careful, acting with prudence and diligence in making recommendations to clients.

For example, if you receive a sudden windfall of money that you want to delay investing, a CFP® professional who abides by a commitment to CFP Board will review the reasonable options and consider factors such as risks and interest rates in making the best recommendation.

- Duty to Follow Client Instructions. This means complying with all objectives, policies, restrictions, and other terms on which you have agreed, and "all reasonable and lawful directions of you, the client," according to CFP Board.

"Meeting these three duties enables CFP® professionals to honor their commitment to CFP Board to act as a fiduciary, in the client's best interest. Certainly, that is what every client deserves," Candura says.

To learn more about how CFP Board's Code and Standards for CFP® professionals help protect consumers, visit LetsMakeAPlan.org.

 

Storied Clubs Face-Off in Champions League Final: Odds on the Move

(NewsUSA) - The most-anticipated match of the club soccer season approaches, as Liverpool takes on Real Madrid in the Champions League Final, May 28th at the Stade de France. Combined, these two have won the Champions League an astounding 19 times.

Liverpool currently sit as -170 favorites to hoist the trophy, while Real Madrid offer Champions League odds of +140.

Money Moving In on Madrid

La Liga champions Real Madrid proved themselves as the comeback kings of the Champions League this season. They stunningly overturned a last-minute, two-goal deficit in the second leg of the semifinal vs. Manchester City. In one of the most enthralling matches in the tournament's history, striker Karim Benzema scored the winning penalty to clinch Real's first UCL final since 2018.

Now, the 90-minute odds are gradually moving in Real Madrid's favor -- opening at +275, Real dropped in price to +250. (Another extra-time thriller is viewed as slightly less likely at +270.)

Los Blancos have one of the winningest managers in Champions League history, Carlo Ancelotti. His side have been on cruise control since clinching La Liga with four games to spare. Currently, Madrid's entire starting eleven is available for selection.

Fatigue, Injuries Cause Line Movements

Liverpool opened at -105, but have been expending energy in search of an unprecedented quadruple trophy haul. Liverpool's boisterous German manager, Jürgen Klopp, has constantly rotated his squad while juggling multiple concurrent competitions.

On the other hand, Madrid should have fresh legs, and analysts at the sports-betting website PointSpreads.com suggest that is why money backing Madrid has flooded in, moving Liverpool down to their current +105 winning odds.

Liverpool won the FA Cup final last weekend -- a penalty shootout victory over Chelsea -- but their second trophy of the season came with a cost. Leading scorer Mohamed Salah and key center back Virgil van Dijk left early with injuries.

Ballon d'Or Contenders on Both Sides

Real Madrid's Benzema, the imminent La Liga golden boot winner, will undoubtedly be on the shortlist for the prestigious Ballon d'Or. Liverpool's Salah and Sadio Mane have also played themselves into the conversation and Salah is the Premier League's joint-leading scorer. With no shortage of world class talent on display, bettors responded by taking the over.

Despite over 2? goals sitting at -135 odds, the last three Champions League finals finished with two or fewer goals. 

Reissue: June 15, 2022

12 Things You Need to Know Before Betting The 2022 NBA Finals

(NewsUSA) - The matchups are yet to be decided, but here are 12 facts you should know before placing your NBA Finals bets. Some of these little-known facts and figures can be the keys to placing winning bets. But keep in mind, betting lines are subject to change. Online sportsbooks such as BetUS.com update their NBA odds regularly.

* The winner of Game 1 has claimed the title in 14 of the last 20 NBA Finals.

* The home team has won Game One in 15 of the last 16 NBA Finals, excluding the 2020 championship, which was played on a neutral court. That trend could continue, so keep an eye on the NBA lines once the Finals are decided.

* The team with home-court advantage has also won the championship in 14 of the last 20 NBA Finals. Golden State will have home-court advantage no matter its opponent. Dallas would have homecourt advantage over Boston but not Miami.

* Since the NBA Finals MVP was first awarded in 1969, only two players -- Joe White (1976) and Chauncey Billups (2004) -- are among eligible players on the outside looking in at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The other 51 are either enshrined, still active or waiting to become eligible. That means the MVP will be: Steph Curry (+225), Jayson Tatum (+250), Jimmy Butler (+550) or Luka Doncic (+650).

* The East has not had consecutive titles from different teams since Detroit and Chicago won back-to-back championships in 1990 and 1991. The winner of Miami and Boston will try to end that streak after Milwaukee won last year.

* The last time a team outside the top two seeds represented the West was the 2012 Mavericks, who won the title vs. Miami as a No. 3 seed. The last time a No. 4 seed did the same? The 2008 Mavericks, who lost the championship series to Miami. Could we see a rubber match?

* The 2008 Celtics were the last No. 1 seed from the East to win a title without LeBron James on their roster. Miami has a chance to change that.

* The last three head coaches to win NBA titles -- Nick Nurse, Frank Vogel and Mike Budeholzer -- were all first-timers. Golden State's Steve Kerr has three titles, and Miami's Erik Spoelstra has two, while Dallas's Jason Kidd and Boston's Ime Udoka are in search of their first rings as head coaches.

* The average NBA Finals score has leveled out since skyrocketing to 236 points per game in 2017. Averages were about 217 PPG in both 2018 and 2019 before dipping to 214.5 in 2020 and sneaking back up to 221 in 2021. Keep an eye on the totals (or over/unders), as anything outside that range may give you a leg up.

* Dallas finished 6-2 in the regular season vs. the three other remaining teams. Golden State went 4-4, Boston 3-4 and Miami 2-5.

* How long will the series last? History says six games is the most likely result. Since the 1976 merger, six series have been 4-0 sweeps, 10 have ended in Game 5 and eight have finished in a do-or-die Game 7. The other 22 went six games.

* Titles have been relatively even between the two conferences. The West holds a 26-24 advantage over the last 50 championship series, and the last 10 are split evenly at 5-5.

Smart bettors read between the lines, and keeping these twelve little-known stats, facts and figures in mind when laying your NBA Finals bets this year should improve your odds of making a profit as we send this year's NBA season off to the history books.

 

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