⏲️ The Clock Is Ticking for TikTok
Legislators have been talking for some time now about banning the popular video streaming app TikTok. The movement started when former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban the app in 2020. President Joe Biden revoked the order when he took office, but replaced it with one directing the government on evaluating the risk of foreign apps. Lawmakers fear that TikTok, which is owned by the private Chinese company ByteDance, could put sensitive information on US citizens in the hands of the Chinese government. Or, since TikTok has the eyes of hundreds of million Americans, it could be used as a propaganda tool. Concerns over the app had recently begun to die down. But, after the recent Chinese spy balloon fiasco, there has been a renewed interest in banning TikTok.
A new bipartisan bill has been introduced by Senate Intelligence Committee chair Mark Warner (D-VA) that could ban or prohibit foreign technology, including TikTok. This legislation follows a bill introduced by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which would give President Biden the ability to ban TikTok.
Congress has already banned TikTok from government devices – a move that has also been implemented by the Canadian government and the European Parliament.
No More TikTok?
While these bills show the government’s continued interest in banning TikTok, it will still take quite some time for a final version of the bill to be approved – if it gets that far. ByteDance will surely fight back against any attempt to ban TikTok. Meanwhile, some groups argue that banning the app is a violation of the right to free speech. If you’re an avid TikToker, it’s worth noting both rock and hard place – your personal data could be at risk overseas, while the app itself may be at risk stateside. Regardless, it’s worth keeping an eye on this story while it develops. As of now, nothing is set in stone.
💲 Changes Coming to Social Security
Social Security is a key retirement program that helps support millions of Americans during their golden years. Soon, this crucial safety net may get a much-needed makeover. In fact, lawmakers have already introduced a new bill designed to make Social Security easier to navigate. This bill should hopefully solve a common issue among retirees: collecting benefits too early. Most Americans start collecting their benefits when payouts first become available at age 62. But, by doing so, the Bipartisan Policy Center claims that they are collectively losing out on $3.4 trillion total, or roughly $110,000 per person.
Social Security’s Secret
One key aspect of the Social Security program is that it rewards people who delay their payments. Retirees can legally start accepting Social Security benefits starting at age 62. However, they have until 70 to start collecting. And, the longer you wait to receive benefits, the higher your monthly checks will be. The specific amount that you can collect depends on your work history. However, as a reference point, a 62-year-old will earn at least $700 per month from Social Security. Meanwhile, a 70-year-old will receive $1,240. So, if you can wait until you are 70 to start collecting your benefits, you can secure an extra $540 per month, or $6,480 per year, at least. However, while this knowledge is public, it may not be common. Plenty of retirees inadvertently default to accepting benefits at age 62 – locking themselves into a lower rate for the rest of their lives.
This stipulation isn’t meant to be a secret. While many Americans start collecting early due to longstanding concerns that Social Security funds are running low, or because they need a cash infusion sooner, for many more it may simply be a communication problem. Lawmakers believe most people start collecting benefits due to unclear language, leaving Americans unsure of when they should start. A bipartisan group of senators have announced efforts to communicate clearer with Social Security beneficiaries. Meanwhile, some Democratic senators have pushed to raise the payroll tax cap to replenish Social Security funds, which some estimates say could be depleted by as early as 2033. President Joe Biden recently met with them to discuss Social Security, leaving some experts expecting he will support the move. Either way, a change may be coming soon to Social Security. When something official happens, we’ll keep you in the loop – but hopefully this means that the Social Security Administration will do a better job of letting you know, too.
In addition to Social Security benefits, most Americans need an additional cash cushion to retire comfortably. Check to see if you're on track with your retirement savings.
🏠 Higher Credit Score, Lower Mortgage
Why Your Score Matters
Over the past year, mortgage rates have skyrocketed, making it much more expensive to buy a home. For the most part, the cost of mortgage rates is out of your control. However, there’s one way to improve your chances of getting a lower rate: by improving your credit score. When applying for a mortgage, your credit score plays a crucial role in the interest rate that you’ll be approved for. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get a lower rate. Having a credit score that’s just a few points higher can result in thousands of dollars saved over the course of your mortgage.
3 Tips To Improve Your Score
To start, did you know that you can actually fact-check your credit score to make sure it’s accurate? You can do this by requesting a copy of your report from AnnualCreditReport.com. If there are any errors, you can request to have them corrected. This process usually takes a few months, but it’s an easy way to give your score a boost. Another way to improve your score is to request a higher limit on your credit card. If you’ve been consistently using the same card, and paying it off, then you should have no difficulty getting a higher limit. Having a higher credit card limit will help paint you as a more attractive borrower to other lenders. Finally, the most tried-and-true way to improve your score is to consistently make efforts to pay down your debt. The less debt you have attached to your name, the better your score will be. This includes credit card debt, student loan debt, auto loans, and other forms.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Improving your credit score is like getting in better shape. You can’t just run five miles in one day and expect your body to transform overnight. It takes at least a few months of consistent work to notice changes.
Similarly, even if you paid off all your debt today, it might still take time for your credit score to improve. Just like investing, the best time to start improving your credit score was years ago. The second-best time is today!
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