online shopping

Millennials’ Habits Are Changing How Shopping is Done

Adulting, Author: #NAMB Guest Author, Uncategorized

Retail stores are slowly dying, and we millennials may be, unknowingly, the cause of it. In 2017, we’ve seen a retail meltdown, with several worldwide brands like Macy’s and Sears announcing the closure of more than 100 stores. On the other side, e-commerce giants like Amazon are hauling in billions dollars of sales, breaking the records year by year. What is happening?

Being a millennial, I believe that traditional retail is dying and possibly will not survive through next ten years unless retailers level up their playing field. A study by Blackhawk Engagement Solutions suggests that millennials are leading the change in purchasing behaviors, and in order the stay ahead of the game, it is incredibly important for retailers understand how to better appeal to millennials. Omnichannel is the big thing now, as consumers — millennials included — prefer to have different methods of shopping available to them, simultaneously. If millennials are changing their shopping habits, retailers will need to have to know-how, and devise strategies to suit and adapt to our new shopping habits. 

We’re using mobile
Admit it. How many of us feel we are missing out “something” when we do not have our smartphones with us? Since Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone in the world, our lives changed. Now, smartphone has become an integral part of our daily lives. We used our smartphones to stay connected with our families and friends, the news, and even to buy things. And we even use them to shop online, from the comfort of our own couches, cars, or even while commuting home on the train. Mobile and social shopping has become our preferred way of shopping due to its convenience. We can do it everywhere. 

Many times, we research on social media before buying
Before making a purchase, 47% of millennials are influenced by research they conduct on social media on products, reviews, and discount deals. Most spend a few minutes searching for coupons and deals before committing to a purchase, and implement discount and promotions strategies. Comparing prices and reviews, finding coupons, and saving money have become new steps in the shopping process. Social media has now become the number one intelligence channel for shopping research. You can see what others truly think about the item, any sales that may be going on, tips for shipping, and actually interact with a brand. 

We’ve all become smart and savvy shoppers
Due to the influence of technology, millennials are savvy and smart shoppers, who are very sensitive to prices. Millennials don’t mind liking a brand on Facebook, or scanning a QR code, just to get more discounts. If we find higher discounts on products somewhere else, we don’t mind switching brands. 

We really like saving delivery fees
Buying online and getting orders delivered to our houses is good. However, buying online, picking it up in-store, and getting an incentive, is even better! Millennials don’t mind picking up item at store if entitled discounts like “$20 off $100.”

We’re more engaged in loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are still great tools for engaging with millennials. A study shows that 69% of millennials are part of a loyalty program

 

About the Author:

Derek Ang
Derek Ang is a millennial and is passionate about shopping smarter and saving money.

life coach

What I’ve Learned in My New Career as a Life Coach, So Far

Author: #NAMB Guest Author, Career Advice

As a self-professed nerd and self-development addict, I have recently started the journey of having a life-coaching, the main reason being my life coach uses a curriculum, so there are set learning objectives and outcomes.This was a huge plus for me because I knew I would be pushed to learn and grow out of this.

My life coach, Andrea Owen (who has a great podcast btw), uses the work of Brene Brown around the concepts of shame and vulnerability and let me tell you, these concepts are powerful! If you haven’t heard of Brown and her work, I would encourage you to listen to one of her two TED talks or read one of her books (Daring Greatly is a good one to start with).

Few disclaimers about life-coaching that I should tell you here: most life-coaches are not therapists and are not reimbursed from insurance. They also tend to be more expensive than therapists.

I have learned so much from my life coaching, and I am not finished yet, but I want to talk some about negative self-talk.

The words we say to ourselves are so incredibly important and something I think we overlook. I do a tremendous amount of research on the brain and will infuse some brain basics in this to really drive home the importance of positive self-talk. Negative self-talk will likely look different for everyone, but for me, it is messages like “you are not good enough, why are you even trying,” or “who do you think you are, you are not qualified for this.” They also creep into what I believe and the stories I make up about relationships. Brown refers to negative self-talk as the gremlins in our brain. I think that visual is a nice one to really help drive the point home. When I think of gremlins, I think of those awful gremlins from the ’90s movie. Not a good look.

Think about your best friend. Would you talk to him or her the way you talk to yourself? Would you say the same things to him or her when they are feeling bad or upset as you say to yourself? Why are we okay with our internal dialogue being so negative even though we wouldn’t say those things to other people.

Negative talk frequently comes from the unconscious part of our brain that dictates most of our choices. Have you ever driven home and forgotten how you got there? That is the work of your unconscious brain. This means we probably aren’t always thinking about the things we say internally and we let those same messages go on repeat. When this happens, the messages begin to stick in our brain and feel real to us even if they are not. The brain is a powerful organ!

I have learned from personal experience that overcoming negative self-talk will change the way you see yourself and see the world. When I stopped the gremlins when they started to pop up and changed those thoughts my outlook on myself and life changed. It was crazy! A great first step is to try to identify the negative self-talk. If you are hearing negative words in your brain and they are making you feel bad, identify them as negative self-talk. Start first by literally internally telling the gremlins to stop. It sounds weird and hippy-dippy, but try it.

Eventually, the goal is to change the thoughts you hear in your brain and to replace them with other statements and affirmations. So, when you internally hear “you’re not qualified, so why are you even trying,” replace it with “I am qualified to do my job and am doing a great job at it.” Even if you don’t really believe that at the beginning, repeat it internally because remember, when you repeat things they get imprinted into your brain and you will start to believe them. Just flip the negative self-talk with the positive to have those outcomes that you want.  

 

About the Author:


Jessica Sharp is a 27-year-old social justice advocate living in South Carolina. She works in healthcare diversity and loves her job. She is passionate about empowering underserved groups, diverse representation, and brain education. She regularly blogs for GenTwenty, but is stretching her wings a bit because she loves #NAMB!

loans

How I Dumped $22,500 of Debt Using Student Loan Forgiveness

Adulting, Author: #NAMB Guest Author

Yes, that’s right, $22,500! It took me five years of working as a teacher, but that’s 22.5 grand that I didn’t have to pay off, and it’s 22.5 grand in my pocket!

Now, how did I do this?

Well, it all started in college, when I was told about the opportunities to teach in a low income school and have my student loans forgiven. I took this opportunity and ran to a position that would allow me to reap the benefits of loan forgiveness for teachers.

Due to the fact that I am a math teacher, I was eligible to receive up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness, but it’s important to note that other teachers in different fields received different amounts. Not to mention, other professions — including medical, nursing, and federal government work — offer student loan forgiveness in different amounts.

Above, I’ve only accounted for $17,500 of my student loans. You may be thinking, where did the other $5,000 come from then? I got lucky enough to stumble onto a second form of student loan forgiveness. This program forgave 100% of my Federal Perkins loans over the course of five years. Luckily, I stumbled onto this option a year after I started teaching and was still able to have $5,000 of my $5,700 loan forgiven.

Now, what steps did I take?

My process of having my student loans forgiven can only be explained as confusing. To try and avoid as much confusion as we can, let’s look at some background knowledge on each loan type, and explain the steps to receive student loan forgiveness.

Federal Perkins Loans forgive 100% of loan balance to teachers in low-income schools over five years. During those five years of teaching, loans are deferred (no payment required). Interest accrued is also forgiven at the end of each year. At the end of each school year, applicants have to fill out a form. This form defers the payments for the upcoming school year, and forgives a portion of the balance each year.

What did this all mean for me? After five years of filling out forms, my Federal Perkins Loan was forgiven in full. That’s $5,000 gone — so now, let’s talk about the other $17,500.

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans forgive up to $17,500 for Math/Science/SPED Teachers after completion of five years of teaching. During those five years of teaching, monthly payments are still required, and interest still accrues. If you are in school, you can defer payments to these loans. Direct Subsidized Loans (undergrad) do not accrue interest during the deferral period, and Direct Unsubsidized Loans (graduate) accrue interest during the deferral period.

It took some creative measures to receive the full $17,500 in loan forgiveness. In December of 2013, I only had $11,573 of Direct Subsidized Loans left. Based on my required payments, the loan would have been paid off prior to my completion of five years of teaching.

I was averaging paying off $4,000 of principal in six months. December of 2013 was just over 18 months from the date of completing my 5th teaching year. Luckily, I was looking into graduate school and a representative from a university had mentioned that I could have my loans for graduate school forgiven at the end of my 5th year of teaching. I was shocked, but I also had to use this newfound knowledge. I made the decision to take out a loan for more than $6,000, which would put me over $17,500 in student loans. I did this in the spring semester of 2014, and just let the money sit in my savings account.

While that money sat in a savings account, the student loans were in deferral, because I was attending graduate school. Therefore, my loans from undergrad remained at $11,573, and they did not accrue any interest. My loans from grad school, however, did accrue interest.

In June of 2015, I printed out the required forms and filled them out as described. On August, 11, 2015, I was notified that my student loans had been forgiven in full!

Crazy things happen all the time in life. Just make sure to have a backup plan, like some of the tips offered here about refinancing your student loans. We made sure to have $17,500 in the bank, just in case something happened. Nothing crazy did happen, and we were able to put a down payment on a house.

 

About the Author:

 

Seth Boschen is starting his 8th year as a teacher and runs his own personal finance blog over at Summit of Coin. Through meticulously watching his money and extreme frugality, he was able to pay down over $29k in student loan debt in just seven months. You can learn more about his story and follow him here.

How to Manage Your Chronic Pain Through Diet and Exercise

Author: #NAMB Guest Author, Real Life Stories

Many people, millennials included, suffer from some sort of chronic pain — defined as lingering pain following an illness or injury. Though some turn to medications, which certainly have their place in some scenarios, they can lead to the development of a dependence.

Rather than relying solely on medications, it’s a good idea to give attention to things like having a proper diet and getting enough exercise (and the right kind) to help you manage your chronic pain. Now, how can we get started managing all this?

Reduce inflammation to reduce chronic pain
“Inflammation is the body’s immune response to toxins as it works to ‘purify’ itself. There are many ways to treat and manage chronic pain [but] one of the most exciting approaches, however — because it is all natural — is adopting an anti-inflammatory diet,” says The Cleveland Clinic.

Eat foods that help fight inflammation
Need a list of them? Here’s one. Also avoid foods that are known to cause inflammation. Try to eat as many fruits and vegetables that you can every single day. Include cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, sprouts, and broccoli into your diet as well as fish and nuts.

Avoid certain foods
Unfortunately, this list is pretty long. Studies have shown that fried foods, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and dairy can all cause inflammation. It may help to begin a sort of elimination diet and remove all of these at first, and reintroduce some to see what effect they have on your pain. Take baby steps until you figure it out.

Drink more water
No, you can’t go through your whole life drinking nothing but water — nor would you want to. But you can surely reduce the amount of things you drink that aren’t water. What you drink affects you just as much as what you eat. And if you think about all the things we drink, so many of them can cause inflammation.

Drink less caffeine and sugary drinks
Coffee and tea (due to caffeine), alcohol, sugary sodas, and milk can all exacerbate chronic pain if you buy into the inflammation model. And what about diet drinks? Well, according to Health.com, “The artificial sweetener [aspartame] found in diet sodas and many sugar-free sweets is part of a chemical group called excitotoxins, which activate neurons that can increase sensitivity to pain,” says Health.com. Try drinking diet sodas sweetened with other artificial sweeteners, but if you find that you are not feeling any better, stick to water.

Start with moderate exercise 
Many chronic pain sufferers feel as though they are in too much pain to get up and exercise, even when exercise is the very thing that could make them feel better. Break out of the unproductive cycle by easing into exercise. Find exercise scenarios that put less stress on your muscles and joints, such as stretching, yoga, pilates, and other low-impact (but still somewhat strenuous) exercises. Also remember there are the “lifestyle exercises” like gardening and swimming.

Listen to your body
Whatever exercise you do, don’t push yourself to the point of extra pain. Listen to your body and know your limits. In the end, any exercise you get — however minor — is going to help. There’s nothing worse for chronic pain than being sedentary.

 

About the Author

Jackie Waters is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com.

Donald Trump’s Misogyny is Appalling

Author: #NAMB Guest Author, Current Events/Politics

Misogyny
noun
dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

In the decades leading up to when he was elected president, Donald Trump’s misogynistic behavior was on display. He mistreated his ex-wife, Ivana, who accused him of rape. He called a breastfeeding lawyer “disgusting.” He insinuated Megyn Kelly was menstruating during a debate. He called a former Miss Universe contestant “miss piggy” and an “eating machine.”

In his most appalling moment (that we know of), he was caught on tape saying he sexually assaults women. Not only saying it, but proudly saying it. That he “grabs them by the p***y.” And then nearly half the country turned around and voted for this walking atrocity.

That brings us to Trump’s recent comments.

Last Thursday, Trump went off on Twitter on Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC, first calling her intellect into question and then saying she was “bleeding badly from a face lift” during a party on New Year’s Eve at Mar-A-Lago.

The response to Trump’s attacks against Brzezinski was swift and came from both ends of the aisle, with many saying it was beneath the office of the presidency. And yet, what is being done about it?

As was the case after his “grab them by the p***y” remarks were leaked, the outrage has been followed by… nothing.

What Trump is doing is spitting on the decades of progress that has been made by women, who are still battling for equal rights that shouldn’t have to be battled for. His thoughts about women and the cringe-inducing ways he expresses them would get most people fired from their jobs. And it’s honestly impossible to fathom how any woman who voted for Trump can look their children in the eye at this point and even attempt to justify their vote.

Trump is not going to get impeached for the revolting things he says about women. The 25th amendment is not going to be invoked because of them. But if you add everything up and take a step back and look at the carnage of word-vomit Trump has left in his wake — both about women and otherwise — it’s fair to wonder if there will be a breaking point for Republicans, when they finally examine the totality of what’s happened and say enough is enough.

Perhaps that won’t happen. Perhaps we’ll have to answer at the polls in 2018, by voting many of Trump’s spineless Republican allies out of office. In the meantime, parents should make it a point to speak to their children about what Trump has been saying about women. To explain that these are hateful and shameful words from an unbalanced man.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.