Weld Community Credit Union

Q: I’d love to improve my credit score, but I can’t get ahead of my monthly payments. I also find that my spending gets out of control when I’m paying with plastic. How do I use my credit cards responsibly?

A: Using your credit cards responsibly is a great way to boost your credit score and your financial wellness. Unfortunately, though, credit card issuers make it challenging to stay ahead of monthly payments and easy to fall into debt with credit card purchases. No worries, though; Weld Community Credit Union is here to help!

Here’s all you need to know about responsible credit card usage.

Refresh your credit card knowledge

Understanding the way a credit card works can help the cardholder use it responsibly.

A credit card is a revolving line of credit allowing the cardholder to make charges at any time, up to a specific limit. Each time the cardholder swipes their card, the credit card issuer is lending them the money so they can make the purchase. Unlike a loan, though, the credit card account has no fixed term. Instead, the cardholder will need to make payments toward the balance each month until the balance is paid off in full. At the end of each billing cycle, the cardholder can choose to make just the minimum required payment, pay off the balance in full or make a payment of any size that falls between these two amounts.

Credit cards tend to have high interest rates relative to other kinds of loans. The most recent data  shows the average industry rate on new credit cards is 13.15% APR (annual percentage rate) and the average credit union rate on new credit cards is 11.54% APR.

Pay bills in full, on time

The best way to keep a score high is to pay credit card bills in full each month — and on time. This has multiple benefits:

Build credit — Using credit responsibly builds up your credit history, which makes it easier and more affordable to secure a loan in the future.

Skip the interest — Paying credit card bills in full and on time each month lets the cardholder avoid the card’s interest charges completely.

Stay out of debt — Paying bills in full each month helps prevent the consumer from falling into the cycle of endless minimum payments, high interest accruals and a whirlpool of debt.

Avoid late fees — Late fees and other penalties for missed payments can get expensive quickly. Avoid them by paying bills on time each month.

Enjoy rewards — Healthy credit card habits are often generously rewarded through the credit card issuer with airline miles, reward points and other fun benefits.

Tip: Using a credit card primarily for purchases you can already afford makes it easier to pay off the entire bill each month.

Brush up on billing

There are several important terms to be familiar with for staying on top of credit card billing.

A credit card billing cycle is the period of time between subsequent credit card billings. It can vary from 20 to 45 days, depending on the credit card issuer. Within that timeframe, purchases, credits and any fees or finance charges will be added to and subtracted from the cardholder’s account.

When the billing cycle ends, the cardholder will be billed for the remaining balance, which will be reflected in their credit card statement. The current dates and span of a credit card’s billing cycle should be clearly visible on the bill.

Tip: It’s important to know when your billing cycle opens and closes each month to help you keep on top of your monthly payments.

Credit card bills will also show a payment due date, which tends to be approximately 20 days after the end of a billing cycle. The timeframe between when the billing cycle ends and its payment due date is known as the grace period. When the grace period is over and the payment due date passes, the payment is overdue and will be subject to penalties and interest charges.

Tip: To ensure a payment is never overdue, it’s best to schedule a time for making your credit card payments each month, ideally during the grace period and before the payment due date. This way, you’ll avoid interest charges and penalties and keep your score high. Allow a minimum of one week for the payment to process.

Spend smartly

Credit cards can easily turn into spending traps if the cardholder is not careful. Following these dos and don’ts of credit card spending can help you stick to your budget even when paying with plastic.


When making a purchase, treat your credit card like cash.

Remember that credit card transactions are mini loans.

Pay for purchases within your regular budget.

Decrease your reliance on credit cards by building an emergency fund.


 Use your credit card as if it provides you with access to extra income.

Use credit to justify extravagant purchases.

Neglect to put money into savings because you have access to a credit card.

Using credit cards responsibly can help you build and maintain an excellent credit score, which will make it easier to secure affordable long-term loans in the future.

J.K. Rowling

She grew up in poverty and spent years struggling to get by as a single mom. She battled severe depression and her first book was soundly rejected by a dozen publishers.

And then she went on to become the wealthiest author of all time.

Welcome to the magical world of J.K. Rowling.

The early years

Joanne Rowling was born on July 31, 1965, in Yate, England, where she lived with her parents and sister, Dianne.

“As soon as I knew what writers were, I wanted to be one,” Rowling writes on her website. She wrote her first book at age 6 — and has been writing ever since.

Rowling’s childhood was far from idyllic. The family didn’t have much money and her mother’s 10-year battle with multiple sclerosis affected each of them in myriad ways.

The author studied French at Exeter University, where she claimed she did “no work whatsoever.”

After college, she worked as a researcher and secretary for human rights organization Amnesty International in London.

While riding a train from Manchester to London in 1990, the idea for the story of a young boy who doesn’t know he’s a wizard took root in Rowling’s mind. By the time the ride was over, Rowling had a basic outline for a seven-book series.

So goes the origin story of a legend.

Hard times

Rowling describes the day her mother died as the most traumatic event of her life. She was 25 years old at the time, and six months into writing the early drafts for the Harry Potter series.

After her mother’s passing, Rowling moved to northern Portugal, where she dated Jorge Arantes. She worked afternoons and evenings teaching English and devoted her mornings to writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

In 1992, Rowling married Arantes and, in 1993, she gave birth to a daughter, Jessica Arantes. However, the couple separated four months after Jessica’s birth.

Following the split, Rowling relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be nearer to her sister while experiencing the darkest time of her life. Desperately poor and relying on welfare to survive, the single mom battled severe depression that sometimes bordered on suicidal thoughts. She was jobless, penniless and she had a small girl depending on her for her every need.

“I was the biggest failure I knew,” Rowling said during a 2008 Harvard University commencement speech.

Throughout the five years following her mother’s death, Rowling continued creating the secret wizarding world of Harry Potter, further outlining the series while writing the first draft of the first book. She’d sit in cafes throughout the city, painstakingly writing her manuscript on small scraps of paper that she would later transfer to pages using a rickety typewriter. Finally, in 1995, the first book in the series was complete.

Harry Potter was ready for his grand debut. Not everyone was quite as ready, though.

Getting published

The muggles of the world had no idea that an entire society of spell-casting wizards inhabits the same planet as they do, but J.K. Rowling was ready to reveal all — if only someone would agree to publish her book!

Rowling submitted her manuscript to 12 different publishing houses. The publishers must have been under a confundus charm, as each one soundly rejected the manuscript, claiming it was far too long for a children’s book. Ironically, at 320 pages, it is the shortest book in the series, with the fifth and longest book measuring nearly three times its length.

Finally, Rowling commissioned the Christopher Little Literary Agents to find a publisher for the story of The Boy Who Lived. After several failed attempts, the series was accepted by Bloomsbury, a small publishing house in London. The publishers encouraged Rowling to use initials for a book geared toward young boys, and after adding a “K” for her paternal grandmother, Kathleen, Joanne (Jo to her friends) became J.K. Rowling.

On June 26, 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hit the bookstores — and it was an instant sensation. All 500 copies of the initial printing sold rapidly, and just three days after its release, American publishing house, Scholastic, paid $105,000 for the rights to print the book in the United States. Rowling celebrated by purchasing her own apartment.

On July 2, 1998, Bloomsbury published the second book in the series, with an initial print run in the U.K. of 10,000.

In October of the same year, Scholastic published the first book in the series with a slight name change, illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, and an initial print run of 50,000. To date, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has sold 120 million copies around the world.

Also in October 1998, Rowling signed a seven-figure deal with Warner Bros. to turn the books into movies. The chart-topping series ended in 2011, with total sales from the franchise grossing at $21 billion, making it the most profitable movie franchise of all time.

Rowling continued writing Harry Potter books with just one-year breaks between each release until her catapult to fame finally caught up with her after the release of her fourth book in July 2000. She needed a break.

“The pressure of it had become overwhelming,” she told The New Yorker in an interview. “I found it difficult to write, which had never happened to me before in my life.”

Rowling also explained that she hadn’t had time to process the level of her fame and wealth.

“I needed to stop and I needed to try to come to terms with what had happened to me,” she said.

During this break from writing, on Dec. 26, 2001, Rowling married anesthesiologist Neil Murray. The couple have two children.

In June 2003, she published Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the longest book in the series. The sixth book was released in July 2005, with a record-breaking 10.8 million copies sold in the U.S.

In 2004, Forbes reported that Rowling was the first person in the world to become a billionaire by writing books. She later dropped off the billionaire list after giving much of her fortune to charity.

Harry Potter casts his final spell

In 2007, Rowling finished the series with the fastest-selling book of all time: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The seven books have collectively sold more than 500 million copies around the world.

In 2010, Universal Studios opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a theme park where guests can visit Hogsmeade, choose a magical wand and ride a roller coaster on a Hippogriff.

Rowling often speaks about how the hardships she endured in the early years of her life enabled her to create the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

“I couldn’t have written this book if I hadn’t had a few years where I’d been really as poor as it’s possible to go in the U.K. without being homeless,” Rowling said in 2012.

Elsewhere, Rowling said that she used her experience of depression to describe the despair and blackness the Dementors spread in Harry Potter’s world.

“It was entirely conscious,” she told the Times.  “And entirely from my own experience. Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced.”

The author’s net worth stands at $92 million. The very best thing her wealth has given her, she writes, is the absence of worry. “I have not forgotten what it feels like to worry whether you’ll have enough money to pay the bills. Not to have to think about that anymore is the biggest luxury in the world.”

Rowling pays it forward with her remarkable philanthropy, giving special attention to charities that serve orphans.

The magic of Harry Potter lives on.

Should I take the 0% finance option offered at the dealership?

Q: I’m in the market for a new set of wheels, and I’ve seen some dealers advertising zero-percent financing. Should I take this offer?

A: An auto loan without any interest sounds like a dream; however, there are many considerations before deciding to take out a zero-percent financing loan. Let’s take a closer look at zero-percent financing so you can make an informed, responsible decision about your auto loan.

What is zero-percent financing?

An auto loan offer of zero-percent financing means the dealer financer is offering to lend the buyer money without charging any interest over the life of the loan.

With traditional loans, the lender is willing to extend money to the buyer because the lender will reap the benefits of the interest payments over the life of the loan. A zero-percent car loan, though, offers no reward for the lender. In fact, the loan is actually being offered by the auto manufacturer. The automaker stands to benefit from the loan as much as it would from an upfront cash payment for one of its cars. The only difference is that the money is earned over a longer time span. Automakers may offer zero-percent financing on slower-selling models or to help clear out stale inventory to make room for newer models.

Can anyone qualify for zero-percent financing?

Zero-percent financing may be heavily advertised, but it can be difficult to qualify for one of these loans. They are typically only offered to buyers who have excellent credit, including a credit score above 700 and a long credit history. These buyers are more likely to make every payment on time and they may even pay off the loan early, making it low risk and profitable for the automaker.

It’s also important to note that not everyone can afford to take out a zero-percent financing loan. Since the lenders are only profiting from the actual sale on these loans, they will rarely agree to bargain down the price, nor do they offer any other incentives, such as cash-back rebates.

When is zero-percent financing a good idea?

For buyers who qualify, a zero-percent financing loan may be a way to save on steep interest payments throughout the life of an auto loan. A buyer can easily save several thousands of dollars in interest payments over the life of a zero-financing loan.

It is crucial that qualifying buyers crunch the numbers to be sure they can easily afford the monthly payments on a zero-interest loan. If all the numbers add up and the buyer’s credit makes the cut, a zero-interest loan can be a great way to save money on a new set of wheels.

When is zero-percent financing a bad idea?

Zero-percent financing may not be in the best interest of buyers who can’t actually afford the loan. As mentioned, lenders generally will not bring down the price on a car with a zero-percent financing offer. Buyers may be blinded by the temptation of not paying any interest and therefore consider a vehicle that has a higher monthly price tag than they originally planned.

Another point to consider before committing to a zero-down financing loan is the term of the loan. Some of these loans feature longer terms than traditional auto loans, as much as six years. Six years is a long time to be paying for a car. The buyer’s auto needs may change before then and they won’t own the car for a year longer than they would have through a traditional loan. On the flip side, lots of zero-percent financing loans are only four years long, which can significantly increase the monthly payment amount.

Even if the loan terms do meet the buyer’s needs, it still may be worthwhile to skip the zero-percent financing and take out a traditional loan so the buyer will not miss out on cash-back rebates. These are typically not available on auto loans with special financing offers, and can mean missing out on robust incentives.

Let’s take a look at the purchase of a single car and run it through both kinds of loans.

A car is selling for $20,000 with the offer of a zero-percent financing loan that needs to be paid off in four years. Monthly payments on this loan will amount to $416.

Alternatively, the buyer can consider a traditional loan for the same car. An auto loan furnished by a credit union at the average national rate according to data extracted by the NCUA would give the loan an annual percentage rate (APR) of 3.45 percent. Over five years, this would amount to a monthly payment of $363.

In addition, with a traditional loan, the buyer can take advantage of manufacturer rebates. If this car would have an offer of a $2,500 cash-back rebate, its price would drop to $17,500. Through a Weld Community Credit Union loan with an APR of 3.45 percent, the monthly payments would only be $318. The total amount paid on the car would also be less than the amount paid through the no-interest loan, at $19,080.

If the buyer chose to take out a loan through a bank, with auto loan APRs averaging at 5.10 percent, the monthly payments (without the manufacturer’s rebate) would be $378. If the manufacturer offered a rebate, that amount would fall to $331 a month.

Evidently, when there is a shorter loan term involved, it is not always worthwhile to take out a zero-percent financing auto loan.

If the offer does not feature a shorter loan term, the difference between scenarios wouldn’t be as dramatic. A five-year loan on $20,000 with zero interest would cost the buyer $333 each month, only $15 more than the traditional loan through a credit union after the rebate; however, a five-year loan term may not be an option on a no-interest loan. Also, when you take out a loan through Weld Community Credit Union, you’ll enjoy personalized service and zero pressure to make a decision.

It’s best to run your own numbers through a free auto loan calculator to see what your actual monthly payment would be before taking on a loan. It’s the best way to determine if you can afford the payments without overextending your budget.

If you’re ready to get started on your auto loan, stop by Weld Community Credit Union today to get started. We’ll have you seated behind your new set of wheels in no time!


Bobby Hoyt gets it: Personal finances for millennials can be tough. There’s home ownership to consider, a career path that’s still somewhat undefined, and a staggering amount of student loan debt to pay off. What’s a cash-strapped millennial to do?

Hoyt is here to help. The teacher-turned-financial blogger offers struggling millennials solid financial advice and tips on his blog, millenialmoneyman.com, and on his Facebook page. Hoyt makes it clear that he is not here to judge anyone’s choices. The philosophy behind Millennial Money Man, or M$M, is simple: “I’m going to teach you how to make more money, save more, and pay off debt … and make sure you have fun while you do it.”

Hoyt is not your typical financial guru. In fact, he’s had no professional training in the field of personal money. Instead, he brings readers and followers tips and ideas from his own journey toward a debt-free, financially healthy life.

When he graduated college in December 2011, weighed down by a whopping $40,000 in student loan debt, Hoyt was determined to get rid of it as quickly as possible — on a teacher’s salary. The high school band director took the extreme step of moving in with his partner’s parents and living as frugally as possible until the loan was paid off. There were no vacations, no fun nights out, and absolutely no privacy. But after “living like a monk” for 18 months, the debt was gone.

Liberated and inspired on the other side of his debt mountain, Hoyt became newly passionate about responsible money management. He started teaching his high school students all he had learned about personal finances, and blogging about it in his spare time. Soon after, he launched MillennialMoneyMan.com.

Six months later, Hoyt had made only $3 from display ads on his blog.

Frustrated with the blog’s slow growth and eager to leave his day job, Hoyt started moonlighting as a digital marketer. He taught himself how to manage websites, oversee email campaigns and run Facebook ads for local businesses. Finally, in 2015, he quit his day job to invest all his time in his blog and side hustles.

Things were looking up, but they only started taking off in a big way when Hoyt’s debt payoff went public. In September 2016, CNBC featured Hoyt’s story of how he dedicated most of his teacher’s salary toward paying down debt and then quit his job to make money online. Traffic exploded on his site, and the ad revenue was finally steady and reliable.

Hoyt spent the next few years building a tight group of followers on M$M. He quickly noticed many of them were looking for a way to side hustle while paying down debts.

In January 2018, Hoyt set out to teach his audience how to do just that. Together with his friend, Mike Yanda, he launched the Facebook Side Hustle Course, an online course that teaches everything you need to know about making money through Facebook ads. In the first weekend after its launch, the young business pulled in a staggering $120,000 in sales. Later in the year, the pair started Laptop Empires, where they teach people how to make extra money online.

Today, while running his online businesses, Hoyt helps the M$M audience of over a million people each year pay off debt, build side hustles and save for long-term goals.

You can check out millenialmoneyman.com, follow Hoyt on Twitter and find out why the private Facebook group is 45,000-plus members strong. You’ll find loads of useful content designed to help you live a more financially responsible life.

Mark Zukerberg

He was placed on probation at Harvard, sued by two former classmates for $65 million and forced to testify before Congress for a data breach that may have impacted 87 million Americans. But Mark Zuckerberg, innovator of the social media world, has soldiered on despite all odds to create an online kingdom that has forever changed the way we socialize.

The early years

Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, N.Y., and raised in nearby Dobbs Ferry. At age 12, the young Zuckerberg created “Zucknet,” a platform used for inter-office communication at his father’s dental practice.

Zuckerberg attended the Academy of Phillips Exeter, an exclusive preparatory high school in New Hampshire. For his senior year project, Zuckerberg wrote a music player called the Synapse Media Player, a precursor to iTunes Genius. The program utilized artificial intelligence to study the user’s listening habits and recommend music the user might enjoy. Both Microsoft and AOL expressed interest in buying Synapse at $1 million and hiring Zuckerberg as a developer, but he turned them down and went on to Harvard University.

A Harvard legend

At Harvard University, Zuckerberg quickly built a name for himself as the go-to computer programmer on campus. During his sophomore year, Zuckerberg hacked the Harvard University student database to create Facemash, a controversial program that randomly selected two students of the same gender and posted their pictures, asking viewers to vote on their attractiveness. The administrative board at Harvard came down hard on Zuckerberg for acquiring private information. The coding genius was forced to take down the site and was placed on probation. Zuckerberg was duly chastised, but he had learned an important lesson about the addictive quality of an interactive social network.

Facebook is born

In November 2003, Harvard students Divya Narendra and twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss approached Zuckerberg for help in creating a social network for Harvard students. “UConnect” would feature photos of each student, along with their personal information and useful links. Narendra and the Winklevoss twins wanted Zuckerberg’s help with the programming. Zuckerberg agreed, while harboring an idea for a social network of his own.

On Feb. 4, 2004, Zuckerberg, along with roommates Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz, and friend Eduardo Saverin, launched TheFacebook.com, an online directory to connect Harvard students. The site, managed out of Zuckerberg’s dorm room, became an instant hit. When asked to comment on the network for the Harvard student paper, The Crimson, Zuckerberg said, “I have no idea why it’s so popular. I was pretty surprised.” Zuckerberg also reassured the Harvard student body that the program would never be used for profit and would likely not be expanded beyond Harvard. Just one month later, though, TheFacebook was open to students attending Stanford, Columbia and Yale. Soon afterward, the expansion included all Ivy League and Boston-area schools. Zuckerberg dropped out of college after completing his sophomore year to pursue full time the development of his website, now called Facebook.com. By the end of 2004, the site had 1 million users. One year later, with the site open to high school students as well, the user base ballooned into 5.5 million. In September 2006, the website was open to anyone over the age of 13 and within three months, boasted a staggering 12 million users. Less than a year later, in October 2007, that number had exploded to 50 million.

The explosive growth rate attracted interest among venture capital firms, including Accel Partners, which invested $12.7 million in Facebook in 2005. Since then, the company has received multiple acquisition offers from the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo, but Zuckerberg refused to sell. He remains CEO and president of Facebook. The pioneering social media platform hosts an average 1.62 billion daily users and has a market cap of $598 billion.

In January 2010, TIME magazine named Zuckerberg Person of the Year.

“The social network created by Mark connected almost every tenth person on the planet,” Richard Stengel, TIME editor-in-chief, said.

The social media platform hatched in a Harvard dorm room has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Under attack

Zuckerberg’s road to fortune and fame was far from smooth.

First, in September 2004, the coding genius was sued by the Winklevoss twins and Narendra for allegedly stealing their idea for UConnect and using it to create Facebook. The case dragged on for years, until Zuckerberg agreed to pay a settlement of $65 million in 2008.

Ten years later, Facebook was under investigation again, this time on a much larger scale.

On March 17, 2018, The New York Times reported that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested personal information of 80 million Facebook users through the Facebook app, “This is Your Digital Life.” The data was allegedly used to support political campaigns, including those of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

In April 2018, Zuckerberg testified before Congress, taking full responsibility for the hack. He reassured the public that the company would strengthen its security measures to protect against further data breaches; however, the public was skeptical. Facebook lost an estimated 15 million users after the scandal broke, and the publicly traded company fell $35 billion in value.

Facebook has faced several smaller breaches since what has been dubbed “The Great Hack,” but Zuckerberg has persevered through them all.

Net worth and personal life

In 2010, Forbes magazine featured Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest billionaire on its famous list. Zuckerberg’s net worth at the time was $4 billion. In 2015, Zuckerberg took seventh place in Forbes’ ratings of the 400 richest people in the United States, with a net worth of $40.3 billion.

As part of his business strategy, Zuckerberg has made a point of purchasing any business that poses a potential threat to Facebook. This includes the acquisition of Instagram in April 2012 and WhatsApp in October 2014.

The most recent statistics on Facebook users show that there are 2.6 billion active monthly users on the social media platform. Every 60 seconds, there are 317,000 status updates, 400 new users, 147,000 photos uploaded and 54,000 shared links on Facebook.

Zuckerberg has given generously to numerous causes, including a donation of more than $100 million for the school system of Newark, N.J. Most recently, Facebook has matched $10 million of donations to the CDC to help fund research for COVID-19.

As of May 5, 2020, the company has a market cap of $600.8 billion. Zuckerberg owns over 375 million Facebook shares and has a worth of $78.6 billion.

He and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, live in Palo Alto, Calif., with their two daughters, Maxima and August.

Barbara Corcoran

She floundered through her education, earning straight D’s all through high school and college. By the time she turned 23, she’d already had 20 different jobs. Barbara Corcoran was looking at a life of financial struggle and the futile chase of success.

But then, she started her next job and everything changed. This is the story of the small-town girl who turned a $1,000 loan into a real estate company worth $5 billion.

The early years

Corcoran grew up in Edgewater, N.J., the second-oldest of 10 children. Her father worked as a printing-press foreman and her mother was a housewife. She struggled through school, and in 1971, she graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College before setting out to earn a living.

While working as a server shortly after graduating, Corcoran met New Jersey-based home builder Ray Simone. The two began dating, and soon after, Simone lent Corcoran $1,000 to establish her own business. The couple then founded Corcoran-Simone, an apartment locator service in New York City. The girl from Edgewater who’d struggled through school was now a business owner.

Building a business

The couple worked out a fair agreement, with Simone owning 51 percent of the company and Corcoran acting as the agent dealing directly with clients. One day, Corcoran was showing a rental to an engineer who decided to buy the unit instead of renting it. The $3,000 commission earned from the sale was too great a reward to ignore. The next day, Corcoran decided to shift the firm’s focus to sales. She posted an ad for a sales agent immediately.

The young company was soon on the path to explosive success using a simple business plan: Every time Corcoran earned $180, she used the money to post a 3-line ad in The New York Times for a new sales agent. Each new agent generated more money for the company, and within two years of its founding, Corcoran-Simone had a team of 14 agents while earning more than a half-million dollars in sales annually.

Everything was going smoothly until Simone broke up the relationship between the two owners and asked to divide the company. It took several years to complete the task, but in 1978 the job was done and Corcoran was on her own. As they parted, Simone told Corcoran she’d never be able to succeed without him. Instead of serving to discourage her, his words fueled her ambition. She was going to be a success, no matter what it would take.

At the time, the NYC real estate market was dominated by men, but that did not deter Corcoran. She’s been blessed with a fighting spirit and has never been afraid to fight convention. She wasted no time launching the Corcoran Group, the first female-owned real estate firm in the Big Apple. Within a year, the company was pulling in more than $350,000 in revenue.

A tough leader

Corcoran was a demanding leader. She handed the reins of everyday operations to her employees, and claims she didn’t even know what the firm’s revenue was, placing complete faith in her accountant. The Corcoran Group thrived.

Always the innovator, Corcoran started selling real estate online in 1993, a full two years before most competing agencies in the city. She also cleverly seized web domains that would likely be sought out by her competitors. This way, her rivals were forced to call her when they wanted to start selling on the internet, alerting her each time a competitor was entering the online market.

Selling out

In 1988, Corcoran married her second husband, Bill Higgins. The couple wanted a child, and after eight years of fertility treatments, they welcomed a son, Tommy. It was a dream come true for the couple, but a game-changer for Corcoran.

In 2001, the Corcoran Group reached an impressive level of growth and had more listings in every category than any real estate firm in New York. Corcoran was now the top broker in the entire city. That was when she had her watershed moment. As she says, she realized she needed to be there 150% for her family at the Corcoran Group, while also being there 150% for Tommy. Since it was impossible to divide herself in two, Corcoran decided it was time to sell.

Corcoran continued to push herself forward until 2006, when she actively began seeking out a buyer. With a powerful sales force of 850 agents and annual revenues approaching $100 million, the Corcoran Group generated lots of interest from real estate firms in and around the city. At the time, New Jersey-based NRT, Inc. was aggressively buying up firms in New York, and Corcoran sought them out as her buyer. In a brilliant move, she hired an attorney who was also a member of NRT’s board of directors. The lawyer brought Corcoran an offer from NRT for $20 million, but she refused to sell at that price, saying she wouldn’t take less than $66 million. She claimed 66 is her lucky number and instructed the attorney not to get back to her unless he had found a buyer who agreed to her price. Just a few days later, a contract was signed.

The next stage

Today, Corcoran is a who’s who in business and her self-help books include the bestseller, Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business!. She has also become a motivational speaker and a popular TV personality, with regular roles on NBC’s Today Show, and on ABC’s hit Shark Tank, through which she has invested in 80 businesses to date. She also hosts her own business podcast, Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran.

Corcoran openly talks about her academic struggles in school and the fight to get to the top. Her feisty attitude and fiery ambition continue to inspire women and business owners around the world.

Tens of millions of Americans have found themselves out of work as the economy reels from the impact of COVID-19. A record 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance in the four weeks leading up to April 11.

Unfortunately, when there’s bad news, the scammers aren’t far behind. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans have lost a collective $13.4 million to coronavirus-related fraud since the beginning of 2020, and unemployment scams have contributed their fair share to the loss.

The panicked rush to fill out claims, along with the overloaded unemployment websites and phone lines, provide the perfect cover for con artists. In light of the pandemic, the federal government has also waived some regulations of unemployment insurance, including the requirement to actively be seeking work in order to be eligible for benefits. The looser criteria have only made it easier for scammers to pull off their schemes without getting caught.

Here’s all you need to know about the circulating unemployment scams.

How the scams play out

An unemployment scam can involve a con artist filing a claim in someone else’s name and then collecting their benefits or claiming to have been employed by a place of business where they have never held a job. The victim will thus be denied their own benefits.

According to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor, these cons can also take the form of a scammer impersonating a government employee and offering to help the victim fill out their application form for unemployment insurance. The victim, seeking assistance with their claim, will willingly comply with the scammer who is only out to get information so they can nab the victim’s benefits. Or worse, the scammer may use this information to steal the victim’s identity.

Other times, while allegedly helping the victim fill out their forms, the scammer will ask the victim to make a payment via credit card to enable them to receive their benefits. Of course, this money will go straight into the scammer’s pocket and the victim’s unemployment claim will never be filed.

In yet another variation of the unemployment scam, fraudsters create bogus websites that look like the federal websites used for claiming benefits. Scammers use sophisticated software to create these sites and lure unsuspecting victims via social media posts or emails. Once the victim is on the site, they willingly share information and assume they are actually filling out their unemployment forms.

Unemployment scams can make a challenging situation all the more difficult by leading to theft, delaying an unemployment claim or completely disqualifying a victim from receiving unemployment insurance.

How to spot an unemployment scam

As always, arming yourself with knowledge is the best way to protect yourself against an unemployment scam.

First, it’s important to note that there is no fee involved in filing or qualifying for unemployment insurance.

Second, government officials will never ask you to share personal information over the phone unless a phone appointment was preplanned and scheduled for a specific date and time. This includes a full Social Security number, date of birth, employment history and financial information.

Finally, sensitive information should never be shared on a site without first verifying its security. Each state will have its own website dedicated to filing and checking unemployment claims, but you can look for the lock icon next to the URL and for the “s” after the “http” in the web address. It’s also best to visit your state’s unemployment site on your own instead of clicking on an ad or a link that’s embedded in an email.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it, costing lives and devastating the economy. People are now looking toward the future while determining their next step in the new reality. Part of the recovery process involves picking up the pieces of economic ruin and keeping or putting personal finances in order. Scammers are out to thwart this process, but you can outsmart them. Always stay alert for potential scams and practice vigilance when sharing sensitive information online or over the phone.

Stay safe!

Steve Jobs

He spent his early school years dreaming up pranks and he couldn’t make it through the fourth grade without bribing from his teacher. He dropped out of college after just six months and was ousted from the company that he co-founded. But Steve Jobs went on to build an empire that revolutionized the world.

This is his story.

The early years

Born on Feb. 24, 1955, to his biological parents Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, Jobs was soon adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs and named Steven Paul Jobs. The Jobs family lived in Mountain View, Calif., part of an area that later would become known as Silicon Valley.

A brilliant child with a creative mind, Jobs was easily bored in school. His extraordinary performance on exams prompted the school administrators to suggest he skip a grade, but his parents rejected the idea.

The young Jobs was fascinated by electronics. His father, a machinist by trade, often would invite Jobs to work with him on electronics in the family garage. Under Paul Jobs’ tutelage, the small boy learned how to take machines apart and then reconstruct them, a hobby that filled him with confidence and proficiency with electronics.

Jobs was introduced to his future business partner, Steve Wozniak, while attending Homestead High School. The two bonded instantly over common interests and, in Wozniak’s words, “an independent attitude about things in the world.” They kept up steady contact until Apple’s official launch several years later.

He spent his early school years dreaming up pranks and he couldn’t make it through the fourth grade without bribing from his teacher. He dropped out of college after just six months and was ousted from the company that he co-founded. But Steve Jobs went on to build an empire that revolutionized the world.

This is his story.

The early years

Born on Feb. 24, 1955, to his biological parents Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali, Jobs was soon adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs and named Steven Paul Jobs. The Jobs family lived in Mountain View, Calif., part of an area that later would become known as Silicon Valley.

A brilliant child with a creative mind, Jobs was easily bored in school. His extraordinary performance on exams prompted the school administrators to suggest he skip a grade, but his parents rejected the idea.

The young Jobs was fascinated by electronics. His father, a machinist by trade, often would invite Jobs to work with him on electronics in the family garage. Under Paul Jobs’ tutelage, the small boy learned how to take machines apart and then reconstruct them, a hobby that filled him with confidence and proficiency with electronics.

Jobs was introduced to his future business partner, Steve Wozniak, while attending Homestead High School. The two bonded instantly over common interests and, in Wozniak’s words, “an independent attitude about things in the world.” They kept up steady contact until Apple’s official launch several years later.

After graduating from high school, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Ore., but dropped out after six months. For the next year and a half, he drifted aimlessly, taking the occasional creative class at Reed. After a short 1974 stint as a video game designer for Atari, he flew off to India on a quest for spiritual fulfillment that ended in experimentation with psychedelic drugs.

Launching Apple

In 1976, at 21 years old, Jobs was ready to make his mark in the world of technology. His singular goal: “To put computers in the hands of everyday people.”

Together with Wozniak, Jobs launched Apple Computer, a small corporation based out of the Jobs’ family garage. Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak traded in his beloved scientific calculator to help fund the venture. They were ready to do anything to make it happen.

The pair pooled their smarts and skills to create computers that were small, cheap and accessible to the common consumer. With Jobs in charge of marketing and Wozniak working on production, the Apple I was rolled out, retailing at $666.66. The personal computer earned the young corporation $774K. The Apple II followed soon after, increasing the company’s sales by 700 percent in just three years to a staggering $139 million.

Apple Computer became a publicly traded company in 1980, with a market value of $1.2 billion by the end of its first day of trading. When the company reached this milestone, Jobs asked marketing expert John Sculley of Pepsi-Cola to take over the role of CEO for Apple.

The company was riding a high wave of success when it hit a sudden dip. The next few products Apple launched had considerable design flaws, leading to many recalls and growing consumer disappointment. IBM soon surpassed Apple in sales and the company struggled to reclaim its footing.

In 1984, Apple released the Macintosh, marketing the desktop computer as youthful and creative. The Macintosh sold well, but still could not compete with IBM’s PCs.

Sculley believed Jobs was hurting the company and urged Apple’s executives to subtly push him out. Jobs was given a more marginalized position, which triggered his departure from the company in 1985.

NeXT and Pixar

After leaving Apple, Jobs launched a hardware and software enterprise called NeXT, Inc. The tech company created a specialized operating system, but the everyday consumer wasn’t enamored by the product.

While working on the development of computer-generated graphics for animated movies, Jobs, in 1986, took interest in Lucasfilm, Ltd. He acquired the company and turned it into Pixar. The company dabbled in several small projects with varying degrees of success until the release of the hit movie Toy Story in 1995. Jobs was named executive producer of the film. Pixar thrived under his leadership, becoming one of the most successful animated movie studios of all time, producing titles like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The company merged with Walt Disney in 2006, making Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder.

Apple purchased NeXT in 1996 for $429 million and asked Jobs to return to a leadership position in Apple. Jobs agreed, assuming the role of interim CEO from 1997 to 2000, and then becoming permanent CEO until his eventual resignation in August of 2011.

Reinventing Apple

When Jobs accepted the role of CEO at Apple, he quickly put together a new management team, modified the stock options and started rolling out a line of innovative products.

The first product launched under Jobs’ reinstated leadership was the iMac. The personal computer didn’t offer improved performance or functionality over any competing product, but it looked fantastic and a bit different from the norm. Consumers were hooked. More than 800,000 iMacs were sold within five months.

From there, Jobs went on to build an empire. Branding Apple as a company that only did several things and did them extraordinarily well, he rolled out ground-breaking products like the iPod in 2001 and the iPhone in 2007. Apple products revolutionized the world, creating a dynamic shift in technological demands and in the way we interact with people on a daily basis.

Jobs’ true genius was his marketing. He played the public like a fiddle. Before the release of any product, he’d drop subtle hints about its release to the press, providing just enough details to whet their appetite without revealing anything concrete. He’d also purposely and consistently leave a gap between a new product’s anticipated demand and its supply, creating a frantic rush toward its purchase. Finally, he charged a premium for every Apple device.Through his brilliant marketing and branding, Apple products became status symbols and the company acquired a cult-like following.

Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, but continued serving in his capacity as CEO until his resignation on Aug. 24, 2011. He died just a few months later, on Oct. 5.

Steve Jobs was a legend whose imprint on the world will be felt for years to come.

Henry Ford

His father wanted him to spend his life working on the family farm. His friends told him his idea was crazy. But Henry Ford defied all odds, paving the way for today’s automobile industry through his audacity to challenge convention and to persevere through all obstacles.

Let’s take a look at how this unlikely hero built a legacy of triumph and success that lives on years beyond his passing.

The early years

Henry Ford was born in Greenfield, Mich., in 1863. When his mother died in 1876, his father wanted him to work on the family farm, but Ford had no interest in farm work. From an early age, he displayed a remarkable talent with machinery. He built his first steam engine at the age of 15, and when he took apart and rebuilt a watch his father gifted him as a teenager, he soon gained a reputation as a skilled watch repairman.

After his marriage to Clara Jane Bryant at the age of 25, Ford reluctantly returned to farm work to provide for his young family. But his heart was clearly elsewhere.

In 1891, Ford joined Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. Just two years later, at the age of 30, he was promoted to chief engineer. Ford’s work sparked his fascination with gasoline-powered engines, and he devoted all his spare time and resources to building one of his own. After achieving his goal in 1893, Ford turned his time and energy to chasing after his next, much bolder dream: to build a gasoline-powered automobile.

The Detroit Automobile Company

The “Quadricycle,” a crude contraption made of two bicycles placed side-by-side and powered by a gasoline engine, was Ford’s first triumph in the world of automobile production. It took more than a decade to build, but in 1896, it was finally complete. Ford was enormously proud of his hand-built “horseless carriage.” He took Detroit lumber tycoon William H. Murphy for a ride. By the time the ride was over, the two men were in business.

The Detroit Automobile Company opened in 1899, with Ford as superintendent in charge of production. Unfortunately, the business folded by the end of the year. Ford was skilled in building cars, but he couldn’t build them quickly enough to keep the company solvent.

Instead of throwing in the towel, Ford moved to a new plan: build a racer and use racing as a means to spread his name and his company throughout the country. Though he held a personal dislike for racing, Ford learned the art and quickly became a skilled racer. His efforts paid off, and in June of 1903, he had the financial support he needed to launch the Ford Motor Company.

Ford Motor Company

Ford founded his second company as he was nearing age 40. At the time, “horseless carriages” were outrageously expensive and owned by a wealthy few. Ford’s dream was to build an automobile that would be cheap enough for the average person to own while still enabling his company to turn a profit.

Ford quickly set to work designing and producing automobiles, rolling out the Model A in early summer of 1903. By the year’s end, more than 500 Model A vehicles had been sold at $850 each. The company’s next model was launched in 1907. The Model N retailed at $600 and was well received, with 7,000 sold in just one year.

But Ford was still unsatisfied. Where other automobile manufacturers poured their resources into making their cars more luxurious, Ford was after the simpler and the cheaper.

In 1908, Ford Motor launched his dream car: the Model T, retailing at $850. The no-frills automobile was more reliable and cheaper to build than the Model A and the Model N. Nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie,” the Model T was so popular, 6,389 cars were sold within a few months and the demand for the car quickly outpaced the supply.

Ford now had a new problem. How could he increase the production rate of the Model T without raising the price?

The moving assembly line

Ford’s innovative solution to his quandary also became his legacy. His idea for a moving assembly line was built on the assumption that, if each worker remained in one place and performed one assigned production task, they could roll out completed automobiles at a much faster pace.

Ford’s assumptions proved to be correct. After the completion of a new 60-acre production plant in Highland Park, Mich., the Ford Motor Company was able to churn out a completed Model T in less than six hours. This cut the old production time of 12+ hours by more than half. After Ford worked on perfecting the system, the factory was producing a new car every 93 minutes.

The reduction in production time enabled Ford to slash hundreds of dollars off the price of his car and helped him realize his lifelong dream of building an automobile the average person could afford. Sales continued to climb as the price continued to drop until the price tag for the Model T reached its low of $290 in 1927.

A legacy that endures

Ford’s work transformed the automobile industry and the moving assembly line sparked a modern-day industrial revolution. The Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century. With 16.5 million cars sold between 1908 and 1927, the Model T continues to hold its place in the top-10 list of the most-sold cars of all time.

Unfortunately, the twilight of Ford’s life brought a slew of challenges, among them a decreased mental capacity and the loss of his only son.

Yet, Ford’s legacy endures.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, 2020, recognizes the risks of elder abuse and neglect of older people. It’s a day for family and caregivers around the world to learn how to take proactive steps to protect loved ones and for older people to learn how they can protect themselves..

What is elder abuse and neglect?

Elder abuse is physical, emotional, financial or sexual harm inflicted upon an older adult, or neglect of welfare by people who are responsible for their care. In the United States alone, approximately 1 in 10 people aged 60-plus have experienced some form of elder abuse. Sadly, victims of elder abuse are often too physically frail or have a diminished mental capacity, which makes them unable to recognize abuse and, therefore, incapable of fighting it.

Elder abuse is most commonly perpetrated by family members, including adult children, spouses and partners, but it can also occur by a hired caregiver who is working in the older person’s home or in an institutional setting, such as an assisted living facility.

What are the effects of elder abuse?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), older people who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been mistreated. The exact cost of elder financial abuse and fraud to Americans is unknown, but is estimated to be as much as $36.5 billion each year.

The many forms of elder abuse

Physical elder abuse involves the intentional use of force against an elderly person, resulting in injury, physical pain or impairment. This includes physical assault, hitting, shoving and the inappropriate use of restraints and drugs.

Emotional elder abuse involves treating an older adult in a way that causes emotional or psychological pain or distress, including intimidation by threats or yelling, humiliation, habitual blaming, ignoring, isolating the older person from friends or activities and terrorizing them.

Sexual elder abuse involves any sexual contact with an older person without their consent and/or showing them pornographic material against their will. It also includes forcing the person to undress when unwarranted.

Elder neglect involves the failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation, such as ensuring the elderly person’s nutritional needs are met; dressing them in an appropriate manner; not maintaining an acceptable level of hygiene and not meeting their medical needs. Elder neglect constitutes approximately half of all reports of elder abuse.

Financial exploitation involves the unauthorized use of an elder’s funds or property, including stealing cash, using an elder’s checks or credit cards, forging their signature and/or identity theft.

Healthcare fraud and abuse involves Medicare/insurance fraud, overmedicating or under-medicating, double-billing for medical care or services, charging for healthcare services that were not rendered and recommending fraudulent remedies.

Warning signs of elder abuse

Signs of elder abuse can be difficult to recognize since they are often mistaken for symptoms of dementia or physical frailty. If you suspect abuse, look for the following warning signs:

  • Unexplained injuries, such as bruises, scars, broken bones or dislocations
  • A report of drug overdose or failure to take medication
  • Signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists
  • Caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the older person alone
  • Threatening, belittling or controlling caregiver behavior
  • Behavior that mimics dementia, such as rocking or mumbling to themselves
  • Bruises around breasts or genitals
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Unusual weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Being left dirty or unbathed
  • Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather
  • Unsafe living conditions
  • Unexplained withdrawals from financial accounts
  • Sudden changes in financial condition
  • Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles and policies
  • Addition of names to the senior’s signature card
  • Duplicate billings for the same medical service
  • Evidence of overmedication or under-medication

Preventing elder abuse and neglect

Caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed may be in danger of abusing or neglecting the older person. It’s important to reach out for help and support as soon as the early signs of burnout appear.

  • Take immediate steps to relieve stress. This can include mindfulness exercises, a break from work or just a nightly jog around the neighborhood.
  • Request help from friends, relatives, local respite care agencies or an adult day care program.
  • Put self-care first. An empty vessel cannot pour. Be sure to get adequate rest, eat well, tend to your own health-care needs and exercise regularly.
  • Seek help for depression from a mental health professional.

If you are not the primary caregiver of a loved one, take the following steps to prevent abuse in the hands of the person who is directly responsible for the older person’s care:

  • Call and visit as often as possible. This will enable you to frequently monitor physical condition and home environment.
  • Offer to stay with the person so the caregiver can have a break. If possible, try to do this on a regular basis.
  • Monitor medications to ensure the amounts being taken correspond with the prescription dates.
  • Watch for financial abuse by asking the older person if you can check their financial accounts and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions.

Resources and support

If you suspect elder abuse and the victim is in need of immediate assistance, dial 911. You can also call 1-800-677-1116 for support, or find local resources at the National Center on Elder Abuse.

For more information on elder abuse and neglect, see these links:

Administration for Community Living (ACL): Protecting Rights and Preventing Abuse

National Center on Law & Elder Rights

USC Center on Elder Mistreatment

CFPB Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans

Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)