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Description      Welders utilize heat to weld or join different types of metals together. There are different techniques to do so and welders choose the best techniques for the situation. TIG, MIG or Arc welding are some techniques used to weld metals together. Welders also monitor, adjust and maintain welding equipment. Welders work with molten metal and use welding machines to assist them in their line of work. Welders provide metals for all sorts of work. Some examples are ship manufacturing, airplane factories, bridges, buildings, and factories. Some unique areas that welders are involved in are building components of racecars, medical equipment and even the cell phones you carry in your pocket. Chances are, if something contains steel, a welder was probably involved in some capacity. Types 70% of the workforce is in manufacturing. Commercial welders – Typically work on commercial high rises, shopping malls, schools and other large structures. They also work in high places so it is definitely not for someone who is afraid of heights. Commercial workers may sometimes work on artistic projects. Industrial Welders – Typically work for the government or military. Their work sometimes takes them overseas. They will take on big projects such as the construction of airports, rail stations, plants and large factories. They also work on bridges. Ship Welder/Underwater Welder – Mainly work on building ships. They make ocean liners and oil tankers. They can work on military or luxury ships. Some work underwater and work on shipwrecks, submarines and other underwater projects. A diving license is necessary if you are going to work underwater. Qualifications/Skills      Welders need to have knowledge on the different types of metals as different techniques may be required for different metals. Welders read electrical schematics and blueprints so this knowledge is crucial to succeed in the field. AutoCad is a common software that is used, so taking a course in AutoCad would be helpful. Computerized Aided Manufacturing (CAM) is another helpful software to know. Welders also work with computerized equipment. Some welding is being automated so these skills are necessary in order to remain a competitive candidate in the field.      Good hand eye coordination is necessary as you are always working with your hands. It is important to be able to keep your hands steady and use the tools that are required for the job. You also need to be able to inspect the welds you do to make sure they meet certain standards. Critical thinking skills will aid you on the job as sometimes you have to figure out how to make things work with what you have. Welders also work with all types of tools, so knowledge and experience with each tool is required for the job. Welders work with electrical welding machines so knowing how to operate these machines is required.      Certifications can be completed in as little as 6-12 weeks. A certification isn’t necessary but it is definitely helpful when looking for work. If you plan on becoming an inspector or working with computerized/automated equipment, a certification is necessary. They are offered at vocational/technical schools or community colleges. Apprenticeships are another way where you can learn the skills to become a successful welder. Training Apprenticeships typically last 3-4 years. As you achieve milestones, your pay will increase. Sometimes additional classroom instruction will be required on top of the regular work. Community colleges and trade schools offer courses that will help you learn and gain skills that are valuable for the career. Work Environment      Commercial welders generally tend to work inside. They will be working on construction sites, so the area will be dusty and require safety gear. They sometimes have to work in high environments so this is another thing to consider about the career. Sometimes you may have to work in tight spaces. Lifting heavy objects or tools may also be required.      Industrial welders work on complex projects. They may work inside or outside depending on the project. They may have to work during bad weather conditions. They will work around other heavy-duty equipment such as cranes and forklifts. Being aware of your surroundings is very important for safety as accidents can happen if you don’t pay attention. Industrial welders may face tight deadlines. Some projects may be very long and can last years.      Ship building/underwater welders can work on the dock or on the water. Underwater welders will have to dive and have to weld while underwater. Weather conditions can get very bad at sea.  The environment may also be very dark.      Regardless of what type of welder you are, safety is always a priority. The job is not easy on the body, so it is imperative that you take care of yourself. Some older welders may have issues with their eyes or skin if proper precautions aren’t adhered to. Construction environments are usually dusty so this is another thing to consider before becoming a welder as having a dust allergy may make it difficult for you in this line of work. Welders will have varying schedules depending on the job or project. If there are tight deadlines, you will get overtime and get paid extra as a result. You may have to work overnight at times. Pros      Welding is a very rewarding career. There are many growth opportunities. You have the option of becoming an inspector after you gain some experience. Despite automation, welders who learn how to use computerized equipment and software will be safe as welds have to be inspected by humans. As with many physical jobs, it is extremely satisfying to see your final work. There is work all over the country. In some areas, welders are in high demand and make extremely good money. You are also able to open up your own shop, however less than 10% of welders have their own shop or are self-employed. Cons      There are dangers involved with the career. Injuries can happen and it is tough on the body. Welders can work in bad weather conditions and tight spaces. Safety is extremely important. Fumes and gases are hazardous to your health. Fire and explosions are something to watch out for as they happen from time to time. Underwater welding is the toughest on the body and can lead to issues with hearing, muscle aches and cognitive issues. Another issue is that there are more welders in cities and this causes the pay to be less in these areas. Salary Total Employment: 47,330 Mean Annual Wage: $47,480 Median Annual Wage: $42,580 Top 5 Highest Paying States State Employment  Annual mean wage  Hawaii 380 $72,330 New Jersey 950 $71,300 Illinois 1,330 $69,590 Alaska 70 $61,030 Washington 2,110 $59,780  Top 5 States with Highest Employment State Employment  Annual mean wage California 6,600 $56,150 Texas 4,530 $36,530 Florida 3,770 $37,000 New York 2,480 $55,620 Washington 2,110 $59,780   Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Scoop      Overall, welding is a great career that pays well. Qualified welders are hard to find in some areas and these areas provide opportunities for money and career growth. Even though automation is changing the industry, inspectors and people who handle the equipment will always be needed. New structures are always being built, so welders will be in demand. It is a skill that can be used all over the world. Welding is a great career for someone who likes a physical job that also requires being creative at times. It is also good for someone who likes working with their hands and using various tools. Helpful Links and References: The website above has a lot of detail on the welding profession and is something you should read if you want to learn more about the career. The American Welding Society The American Welding Society has a lot of resources on the welding profession. This is the website you use to register for the welding certification exam. Stay up to the on the profession, keep up with the latest news and much more. Career Guide How to become a Welder "Full Version" by The Clever Job Hunter This book gives a lot of insight into the welding profession. Learn even more about what is required in order to become a welder and learn about what you will experience as a welder. This book will equip you with the knowledge to get started on your welding career.
Description      A glazier is a person who installs, removes or repairs glass. Glaziers work on cutting, installing and repairing glass in all types of environments. Glaziers install glass in window frames and other surfaces. They work in stores, residential homes, commercial buildings, museums and other environments. They have to follow specific blueprints for each job. The work includes driving specific trucks that can transport glass, fabricating and installing metal sashes or molds to hold glass, weatherizing and sealing joints for glass installations, and securing work sites by removing old or broken glass before new installations.      It is very important to have good hand eye coordination, and have a basic understanding of cutting and joining things. Glaziers also work with aluminum, steel, granite, marble, plastics and other glass substitutes. They use tools such as glass cutters, circle cutters, drills, saws, grinders, heat guns, heating irons, breaking blocks, files, lead, knives, soldering irons, and even computer programs. Precision and detail are necessary since it is such a hands on job. Good balance, hand eye coordination and physical strength are also valuable skills for being a glazier since it may involve climbing heights and using various technical tools. Types Residential – They work on home projects. This includes removing and repairing home windows, shower doors, glass tabletops and other types of display cases. Commercial – These glaziers typically work on high rises and storefronts. Specialty – These glaziers work on art glass installations for galleries, museums, hotels, casinos and other private and public spaces. Stained glass artist would also fit in this category. Qualifications/Skills      It is very important to have good hand and eye coordination, and have a basic understanding of cutting and joining things. Glaziers also work with aluminum, steel, granite, marble, plastics and other glass substitutes . They work with all different types of tools. Knowledge of working with different tools is essential for the job. Precision and detail are necessary as it is a very a hands on job. Good balance, hand eye coordination and physical strength are also valuable skills for being a glazier as it may involve climbing heights and using various technical tools. It also involves lots of bending, lifting, and working with fragile materials and reading blueprints.      Previous experience in construction helps. You will handle glass that weighs hundreds of pounds. There is also a lot of standing involved. You will have to adjust the glass as people don’t always follow the blueprints or the blueprint may have something that may not work. Every job is a little different. This is a great career for people who like to think and be creative. Metal fabrication is a part of the job. Navigating blueprints is a key part of the job so it is essential to get good at it. Construction is done all over the country so you can find work anywhere. More work will be available in cities that are growing.      Precision and detail is extremely important. Glaziers work with custom glass that is very expensive. Messing up or missing a detail from a blueprint will cause delays as some glass may have to be special ordered. Sometimes glaziers will work with computer programs that measure and design glass with even more precision.      The Glass Installer Technician Certification is not necessary but it is helpful to have. Only 1 state, Connecticut, requires a license where you must pass a test. Florida used to require a license but removed that requirement in 2012. As always, check your local state website to see if anything has changed. Training      A typical glazier apprenticeship is 3-4 years . It typically consists of 2000 hours of paid training and at least 144 hours of classroom instruction every year. Classroom instruction may be at night after a day of work. Your salary will typically go up as you hit certain milestones during your apprenticeship. Work Environment      As stated before, this is a very physical job. Glaziers typically work for glass companies or construction companies. Safety is very important, as you will be handling expensive and dangerous equipment. It is important that you follow all safety protocols when on the job. If you were afraid of heights, it would be best to avoid being a commercial glazier as they often work on high-rise buildings. Your hours may vary depending on the construction job (sometimes you may have to work at night or early in the morning). You may have to work overtime to get a job done before a certain date. Pros      A glazier is a unique and interesting job. It is great for people who like to think and be creative. You can also work on many different types of projects so there will always be something new to learn. There are good growth opportunities in the future especially in big cities that are growing. A lot of new buildings are made out of glass. There is also a lot of work in many parts of the country so you are not limited geographically. You are also able to create your own custom glass company once you get enough experience. You get to interact with a lot of different professions so you can learn a lot. You can also transfer your skills to other parts of the construction industry if you would like to take on different types of work. Cons      This is a very physical job. It will tire out your body, so if you aren’t used to physical work or have physical ailments, this may not be the job for you. If you are not detail oriented, it is extremely easy to make an expensive mistake. If you prefer a job that is more repetitive, this may not be the job for you as each job will be a little different. You will sometimes have to deviate from the blueprint to make sure the job gets done. You also may have a lot of driving involved some days as glass needs to be transported in special vehicles. Salary Total Employment: 47,330 Mean Annual Wage: $47,480 Median Annual Wage: $42,580 Top 5 Highest Paying States State Employment  Annual mean wage  Hawaii 380 $72,330 New Jersey 950 $71,300 Illinois 1,330 $69,590 Alaska 70 $61,030 Washington 2,110 $59,780  Top 5 States with Highest Employment State Employment  Annual mean wage California 6,600 $56,150 Texas 4,530 $36,530 Florida 3,770 $37,000 New York 2,480 $55,620 Washington 2,110 $59,780   Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Scoop      Overall, a glazier is great job for someone that can handle the physical aspects of the job. You have good growth opportunities and you get to work on interesting projects. You will always learn on the job. As you gain more experience, your value as a glazier will rise. It is also good to be able to admire your work after it is done. A job site that isn’t complete looks completely different after everything is put together. Helpful Links and References: National Glass Association The National Glass Association is a great resource for a glazier. It has a lot of educational resources and is great to follow to keep up with industry news. It is a must for glaziers who want to stay on top of their careers. Online Glazier training by the National Glass Association The National Glass Association has an online class for glaziers. While an online glass is never a substitute for actual hands on experience, it will position an aspiring glazier and separate them from their competition. The classes include an introduction to the trade, safety protocols and information, glass and metal fabrication, and more. Glaziers: Stories From People Who've Done It by Gigi Little ( AMAZON ) This book is a MUST READ for someone who is serious about becoming a Glazier. The author goes over her personal experience and gives a lot of insight into the different aspects of glazing. The author has a lot of experience in different parts of the glazing industry so you get first hand experience into what the different aspects of glazing involve.  
     So, you’ve done it! After many long weeks searching for jobs, applying to as many as humanly possible, or at least the ones you felt would be a good fit for you and the company, going through several rounds of interviews, you have finally received an offer (or several). Now what should you do? The salary may not be as high as you hoped but it is more than your current salary. You don’t have as many vacation days as your last job but there are some other nice perks.      Now in your mind you are having doubts. Should you risk asking for more? What if they reject you? You never negotiated a job offer before. You should not worry as negotiating offers on a new job is a standard part of business and you have nothing to fear.      First, let's change your mindset. The company has given you a job offer because they thought you were the most qualified fit for the position. Most companies will not rescind their offer just because you asking for something better. Make sure to do your research beforehand so that you know what a person with your skills and background is worth.      A job negotiation actually starts well before the job offer. Managing the interview effectively can easily get you a job offer thousands more than you would have got had you not done the right things. So where are some places where you can do job and salary research? Here are some helpful sites.      This website is a time capsule as the layout takes you to the early days of websites. However, despite the looks, you can actually find some good data here that will give you the information you need to figure out how much you are currently worth, or how much a potential career can pay you.      Spend a few minutes filling out a survey with your background and skills. They ask for a lot of information but it does give you a very accurate salary. This is a good way to figure out what the average pay is for someone with your skillset. has a good amount of free salary info. They also have reports where you can get even more data, but at this time we can’t comment on that as we have not used this part of the service. The free report gave us some pretty good info. If you are on the job hunt and do not have much to go off of, it may be helpful to spend a little extra on the the paid data.      Every job search must contain a visit to Glassdoor . Glassdoor has many company reviews and many salaries. You can learn a lot about the culture of companies (and even specific departments) and it was extremely helpful to me while I was actively searching for a job. This research helps you understand which companies pay more or which companies offer the better benefits. It is also possible to learn about how the interviews are conducted and what you may expect during one. Going forward into a job interview with this knowledge will give you a leg up over someone who has not done their research. Any Job Board          Another way to figure out salaries is to just search up jobs. Look up what the salary estimates are on sites like Indeed or Monster. See what the salary ranges are for current jobs that you would apply to. Now that you have done your research, you know what is an acceptable range for the positions you are trying to apply for. You should have 3 numbers. A high but realistic number. This is a number that you are extremely satisfied with and would easily accept. A fair number. This is a number that you are happy with. The absolute minimum salary you would expect. Any salary lower than this number is not worth your time      One thing to note is that the salary that is posted for a job ad may be completely different than the one the company offers you . This can be for many reasons. There are cases where a candidate has a unique skillset or background that is worth a lot to the company. Sometimes you may even be told that they are considering you for another position. I had a previous manager of mine who interviewed for an analyst position, but the person at the time who had interviewed him realized that he would be great for the managerial position that just opened up. So, he went in applying for one position and came out with a different position that paid much more!      As I said before, salary negotiation starts well before the job offer. An interviewer will ask if you are comfortable with the salary. They may ask for your past salaries. They will also ask you what salary you are looking for. The company is trying to figure out what salary range you are comfortable with (and what they can get away with). In most cases, they are trying to give you as little money as they can.      You are on the other end. You are trying to get as money as you can. In order to do this, it is generally best to delay discussing salary until the job offer is made . Interviewers/employers are more likely to dismiss someone who discusses salary too early. Only once a job offer is made is the employer is more flexible discuss this, as they know more about you and your skillset and have narrowed you down as a possible candidate for the position.      Okay, so let's think about it this way. You are at the mall and you see a jacket that you like but the price tag is $1,000. You tell yourself, “That’s too much” and pass on the store. Now imagine your friend has the jacket. You try it on. He tells you that it’s $1,000 but says he has had it for 5 years. He is tired of buying jackets that don’t keep him warm or just wear out after one or two winters. The jacket looks fairly new. It’s the warmest jacket that you have ever felt and it feels amazing. Aren’t you more likely to purchase the jacket at this point? If the only thing the employers knows about you is your price tag, they are more likely to make a decision based solely off that price tag.      If salary comes up early on during the interview you can say any of the below. Salary isn’t my main concern. I want to see if this job is the right fit for me. Once we figure out if I am right for the job, then I would like to discuss salary State that you would like to be paid a fair market wage. You can give a range but make sure it is big (don’t give a range of 85k-86k). You can also state that you would like to learn more about the role and the responsibilities before giving any salary info. Mention how you are flexible with salary and that you can give a better answer later You can mention that it is a principle of yours that you don’t discuss salary before an offer is made. Say that you will gladly give a salary range once you have learned more about the job.      As you get more comfortable, you can try different things. One important thing about salary negotiations is that you should avoid negotiating over email . The way you come off in email can be very different than how you come off on the phone or in person. You don’t want to risk coming off as rude because the person reading your email couldn’t see your body language or hear the way you would have said something. You can also judge the reactions of the people you are negotiating with to get a feel for how they react to your answers. You have everything to gain once you avoid email.      There is more to a job than just salary. Sometimes companies can be more flexible when it comes to negotiating benefits and perks. A company may not be flexible on salary but they can be flexible on insurance, expense accounts, company cars, vacation days and relocation expenses. You can negotiate a flexible working arrangement (telecommute 2 days a week) and this may be more valuable for your situation than money. A company car can easily save you thousands a year on insurance and maintenance expense. Figure out what is important and valuable to you and then see if the company can offer you a package that works best for you.      I have only briefly touched the world of salary negotiation. If you need more info and are actively in negotiations, I would highly recommend purchasing the books below. You can easily make a $1,000 a minute by negotiation properly. Disclaimer: Affiliate Links Below Negotiating Your Salary: How To Make $1000 a Minute by Jack Chapman - AMAZON This article used the tips and guidelines from this book. This book is worth every penny and is a must read if you want to make sure that a job pays you every single penny that you deserve. Secrets of Power Negotiating, 15th Anniversary Edition: Inside Secrets from a Master Negotiator This is a general book on negotiation. You negotiate in all aspects of life and I would highly recommend reading this along with the other book so you get a more holistic approach to negotiation. You will learn how to handle all types of negotiations and learn how to spot negotiation tactics and how to properly counter them.
     Moving and renting can be extremely exhausting. This is especially true for those attempting to rent in big cities that have very competitive rental environments, such as New York City and Los Angeles. The good news is that you can certainly find your dream rental or at least be on the path to one if you understand the logistics of the rental game. There can be many obstacles preventing someone from renting in their desired unit. These obstacles include, foreigners with lack of credit or individuals with bad credit, lack of sufficient income to meet the minimum threshold, no job, prior evictions, and even discrimination. But once you understand how the rental market operates, it makes the task much more bearable.      There are many avenues to take when deciding on your search platform. You can use popular sites and applications such as StreetEasy , Trulia and many others. These platforms have pretty good filter functionalities which can really help narrow down and tailor the search to your specific needs. You can filter for things such as location, price points, pet friendly options, public transit proximity and more so, who deals with the rental unit(broker, owner, management,etc). I will explain why this is important shortly. You can also use Craigslist to find some pretty good options as well but that also comes with risks. Avoid sending anyone any money for any reason . Security deposits are always given via certified check AFTER you have examined the unit and during the contractual lease signing between you and the landlord. So be mindful when using Craigslist or even any of the major realty sites for applications. You can even search the old fashioned way and look for buildings with “For Rent Call XXX-XXX-XXXX”. Some of these buildings are not listed on any commercial platform. They still acquire their rental applicants from people that pass by and pass on the contact.      After you have established how to search and have fished through the sea of scams, you finally come across a great selection of places to live and are ready to apply. But…. they required a minimum credit score of 700! As discussed in our previous article , life hits hard and it can really hurt your credit score. This can be a nightmare for those that are looking for a decent place. The reality is that owners in big cities get so many applicants that they can afford to create these thresholds and maintain a steady flow of “better” applicants. But as we know a credit score does not at all reflect the actual applicant. An individual with an 850 credit score can lose their job tomorrow and completely default on rent. Credit scores simply do not always indicate financial stability. The best way to approach the situation as a renter would be to look for listings that were listed by the landlord. Landlords tend to be a little more forgiving of your situation as opposed to the management companies that follow strict guidelines. If your credit is truly bad but you have good cashflow, it would be best to save a few months of rent so you can provide the landlord that money upfront. This incentives the landlord to trust that you will in fact pay your rent. This may not be realistic for someone who is tight on money. If money is tight and your credit score is not good but also not horrible, you may consider using a lease guarantor or cosigner. This is someone who vouches on your behalf, and will also become liable on your behalf as well. This can be a family member, friend or a guarantor service. Most big cities have dedicated services like these. If your credit is horrible and you have no funds available it would be best to assess your credit situation and save some money before sending out applications.      Application fees …..ugh. As you search you will notice that many buildings will require an application fee ranging from 20 dollars to 80 dollars for a standard non-luxury unit. This is a fee just to be considered for the building. Although part of the fee does in fact contribute to credit checks and background checks, most of the time it is very highly inflated. Unfortunately, every management company and landlord can set their own rules, so if you really want that specific unit, you must pay the fee. This can be good if you have decent cash flow because the fee will naturally cause less people to apply, which increases your chance of getting the unit. However, if you are trying to save money at any cost you can always filter and search for “No fee” apartments. There are always large amounts of No Fee units available. It would be ideal to have a mix of both. Apply for a couple of dream rentals with fees and many no fee rentals.      If you have a prior eviction, you will have to take the same route as if you have bad credit but even more so! Evictions are court orders that affect your rental record quite negatively. You can argue that credit does not always translate to how good of a tenant you are but an eviction literally says you were a bad tenant in the eyes of a landlord. It would take a very heartfelt reason to persuade the landlord to give you a chance but it can be done. Think about the reason and prepare to explain it to the owner in person.      One of the most important things you can do is research the area before you start to send out applications. The reality is discrimination is still a very real issue. Learn the demographics and safety levels of the neighborhood and make sure you would feel comfortable moving you and your family there. The more subtle discrimination that occurs after you meet the landlord face to face can not be easily proved unfortunately. You will have to just accept that as a risk of the rental search. People will deny you for superficial and discriminatory reasons and you may never know. You must take it and move on. Never dwell on rental rejections (don't wear that ugly sweater!).      After you have settled on a unit and you have met the person(s) in charge, it is very important to get everything in writing. The lease should be read over before signing and the terms should clearly be understood. Many people have issues in the future that could have been avoided had they read the and understood the lease terms beforehand. Issues such as whether the unit is pet friendly or smoke friendly, etc. Always make sure all terms are understood.      Obtaining a rental is a mentally draining task, especially after consecutive rejections. It is important not to let that discourage you. It is just the reality of the rental game. The good thing is that you only need to find 1 you like. No matter the situation, you can obtain a rental of your liking as long as you know how to play the game.                                
     What is phishing? The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information. This personal information that is obtained can be things such as passwords or credit card numbers. You yourself have probably received an email or two stating that your bank needs you to verify your info or perhaps that you need to log in to a known website you commonly visit to confirm some information.      Phishing commonly is the act of impersonating someone else with the intent to extract personal, often extremely sensitive information from you, so that it may be used for malicious purposes. Phishing frequently is used to get passwords to your accounts, credit card information, or extremely sensitive information such as your social security number.      Phishing emails have been around for a long time. Some are extremely easy to spot, while others can fool even the most alert people. Here is a recent example my friend sent me. This a screenshot of the message he received below.     As you can see from the above screenshots, they name a trusted bank and make it seem trustworthy by telling you not to share the code with anyone. This is the hook, which gets the uninitiated to call the number, however a quick search online will reveal that when you call this number, an automated system answers (one that is different from Bank Of America’s automated system). The automated message tells you that your card has been compromised. The message will then ask for your credit card number (you know the one that will be compromised if you give them the number).      Always be careful. The tactic here is to get you worried so that you are stressed out and to catch you off your guard.  You should always Google the numbers that call you if they state they are a representative of your bank. Phishing attempts happen quickly.       I have another friend who received a call from who he thought was USAA asking him to verify some info. The call seemed unprofessional and got cut off after he verified his info. They asked him for his debit card Pin (a big no no). He called USAA back and they seemed confused. Within the next hour, he had close to 10k in withdrawals from his account. These people often want the security questions for your account, so that they can call and impersonate you. The people who called used his information to call USAA and state that they wanted to increase the ATM limit of his card. The people behind these types of phishing scams are often good at Social Engineering. They will say, “Oh I am currently travelling and need to withdraw some cash because of an emergency”.      Always be wary of filling out information online. Some phishing scams even attempt to recreate the website entirely. This makes it look like you are logging into your online bank account, when in reality you are just logging into a cloned website, which is a portal that someone created to steal your information. You must absolutely be careful when you click links within your email. It is always better to enter the URL into your browser.      The most important accounts you have are your primary email accounts, online bank accounts and any other accounts that contain money (cryptocurrency accounts). I would highly recommend that you use different passwords for these accounts. It sucks if your password for the forum you frequent is stolen, but it will not cause you any financial loss. If however, they have your bank login details, you are in a world of problems.      Often times smaller sites are hacked and hackers then have access to your email address and password for that site. People often use the same password for many websites, so a hacker will then try to check if they can get into your email. If they can do that, they will try to extract and download anything sensitive (tax returns, scans of IDs, account information etc).      There are a few ways you can protect yourself. One way is to check your online accounts regularly to monitor any suspicious activity. Another step you can take to protect yourself is to use a 2-factor authentication system on your important accounts. You can use text message or an app on your phone (Authy or Google Authenticator). They will send you a text message with a code that you have to enter, or you have to enter a code from the authentication apps. It is a little annoying, but it is much more annoying to have your bank account compromised (you may have to file a police report, cancel your current credit cards, and talk on the phone to clear the situation and figure out how exactly your account was compromised). If you have a cryptocurrency account compromised, you can pretty much kiss that money goodbye. The good thing is that for accounts such as your email, you can turn off 2-factor authentication for computers you use on a regular basis. This way you only need to enter the code on devices that you have not used before (a friends computer).      If you are the victim of phishing, immediately change your passwords and contact the appropriate parties such as banks and credit card companies. Monitor your account for any suspicious activity. Phishing attacks evolve with technology so make sure to always be a little skeptical. Newer fishing techniques involve the use of social media accounts. People may pose as your friends in an attempt to get you to send some money to them. A lot of phishing attempts happen at the workplace. People will target the workplace and send email attachments in an attempt to compromise your computer. Your company should provide some sort of training regarding this. Phishing attempts also try to target people who are less technically savvy such as the elderly or children. Educate yourself and stay alert and you can easily avoid falling victim to a phishing attack.
     Life is unpredictable, and sometimes we are dealt a bad financial hand from the start. It is very important to understand what to do when we have hit rock bottom and see no way out. Everyone has the opportunity to be financially free. Here is what you need to know.      Hitting rock bottom implies that you are financially exhausted. You are in massive debt and have no way of getting out. It is extremely stressful. Debt collectors are calling nonstop and you are getting a bunch of debt relief offers in the mail. It is very important to differentiate between various debt liquidation techniques. Please understand that these are the last resort options and will absolutely harm your credit. We will explain what this means and how to deal with it as well.      Debt relief : Debt relief agencies are third party negotiators to keep it as simple as possible. They will talk to the lenders of all unsecured debt. Unsecured debt would include things such as personal loans, credit card debt, etc (mortgages and car loans are considered secured debt because they are secured to an asset. Your house can enter foreclosure or they can repo your car). Debt relief services will talk to your creditors and try to negotiate a lower consolidated amount for you to pay on a monthly basis. You pay them, they take their cut and they pay your creditors the remainder. When you contact this service and agree to their terms they will tell you to immediately stop paying all of your bills. Here is an example of how the process goes:      Context: Man owes $120,000 mixed between credit cards, personal loans, a car loan, and student loan debt. They will tell him to stop paying his credit cards and personal loans but continue to pay the car loan and student loans. The car loan is secured debt and can’t be easily settled. The student loans can NOT be discharged under any circumstances.      Although this may seem like a great solution, it can have detrimental consequences. Debt relief is simply another party trying to negotiate with your creditors. Your creditors can still sue you during this process and your credit score will immediately tank due to missed payments which are very hurtful to any credit score. From the day you stop paying, until the day all bills have been settled on an agreed upon consolidated amount, you can potentially be sued. This method of dealing with debt isn’t the most ideal. Honestly, almost all creditors would prefer for you to negotiate terms with them directly, as opposed to using a debt relief agency. The middle man is simply not needed to negotiate with creditors.      Bankruptcy : Bankruptcy involves paying off some of the debt you owe or simply having the entire debt discharged depending on the chapter classification (chapter 13 vs chapter 7). The important part about bankruptcy is that once the petition has been filed, you can no longer be sued by creditors. This method deals with the courts and has very strict procedures in terms of how things are done. Just like debt relief your credit score will take a big hit once the bankruptcy hits your report. This derogatory mark stays on your credit report for 7-10 years depending on the type of bankruptcy.      Chapter 7 : Discharges all debts except student loan debt (as well as debt related to tax bills, etc). Any other secured debt linked to an asset such as a car can be seized and used to pay your creditors if it is determined that the car is not needed or if it is an extra luxury car and not your daily driver .  Chapter 7 will remain on your credit report for 10 years but its affect will fade over time with proper financial habits. In fact, in as little as 3 months, you will notice offers for more credit cards. This is because creditors know that once you file bankruptcy you can not file again for 5 years or so. They just want you to repeat the cycle. This can be a great way to rebuild credit after being discharged but it can also bring you back to square one if you did not address the underlying issues that lead you to bankruptcy in the first place.      Chapter 13 : This type of bankruptcy is a consolidated payment plan. The debt won't be completely discharged. Typically you pay only the principal in one monthly payment which then gets split up among your creditors. These monthly payments can last for 3 or 5  years depending on your plans terms. Chapter 13 will remain on your credit report for 7 years . Due to the fact that you are paying a portion of this money back, it takes a shorter amount of time to be cleared from your reports, but the initial impact is still the same.      The most important lesson is understanding why you got into the situation in the first place. Fixing your financial habits is the most important thing you can do during the whole process regardless of what method you choose. 20% of people that have filed bankruptcy will file again when eligible. This is mostly because they did not fix the underlying issues that brought them there. Debt relief and bankruptcy are NOT an easy way out, it is simply a solution for those that have made mistakes or those that are dealing with unfortunate circumstances that are out of their control.      Ways to quickly get back on track: Once you have gone through the process and have fixed your financial situation, you will want to start the rebuilding process. Immediately pull your credit report from the major credit Bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) and make sure that all debts have been discharged and everything is stated correctly. Once the credit card offers and loans start inevitably rolling in again, it is very important to choose a card carefully. Don’t accept every offer. One card is good enough and make sure to maintain a perfect payment history. It only takes one slip up to fall back into previous bad habits Your score will start to rebound in no time. There are many other solutions and keeping an  emergency fund is important so that you never fall behind on payments.    
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