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Tag Your Photographer!!

Yes you read that title! Tag Your Photographer! Not only is it a sign of respect, but it's also a way to help that photographer get more clients. In a field that's totally saturated, photographers depend heavily on word of mouth.....

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Them Thrones Yall! Episode 5 Recap

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Them Thrones Yall! Episode 5 Recap

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     So I'm the biggest Game of Thrones fan there is and this second to last season is really heating up! They are dropping all kinds of dimes on us. Last night's episode was full of moments that made the realest fans lose their freaking minds! 

1. Jon Snow and Drogon became buds when Drogon senses the Targaryan in Jon! More on that Targaryen blood later. 

2. Bron won't let Jamie die without being paid. That's a good ally to have for Jamie. He's gonna need him because Cersei is always 3 steps ahead of Jamie. 

3. Cersei pregnant again!!!?? Whaaaa!!! She so bold with power now that she said she don't care if anyone knows that her brother is the father. But is he the father?? 

4. Gentry and Jon Snow become BFFs!! Yes Ned Stark's bastard and Robert Baratheon's bastards are cool! Some real ish about to go down!!

5. Oh Gilly!! Sam all in his feels but Gillu just unlocked once of the biggest conspiracy theories on the show! Apparently Rheagar Targaryen annulled his marriage to his first wife and had a secret wedding with an unknown woman. We all know what was Lyanna Stark!! Those are Jon Snow's parents, which means he's the rightful heir to the Iron Throne and not Daenerys!! She won't take that too well. 

6. Little Finger is way smarter than anyone gives him credit for. He's setting up the Stark sisters to fight one another. A House divided can't prosper.  

7. Jorah Mormont just can't stay out the friend zone. He's been around for a few suitors, nearly died in battle, beat the deadly stone disease by getting his skin ripped off, but Dany still doesn't want him. He's the ultimate sucker. Just stop man! Nothing you do will ever work! She's just not that into you!

8. Tormund still got a thing for Brianne! She need to stop tripping and get with that Wildling guy. They would spare for fun together. 

9. Dany has a weird obsession with people bending the knee. It's gotten so old now. Like dang we get it. You're a queen. One thing for sure, she has no issue using her dragons anymore. Roasted Tully anyone?

10. Game of Thrones just unleashed it's own version of the Suicide Squad! You got Jon Snow, Tormund, Gentry, the Hound, Jorah,  Thoros, and Beric!! It's about to go down!! They all went north of the Wall to steal a White Walker. 

 

Can't wait to see episode 6!! Each episode this season has been awesome!!  

What are some things you caught in last night's episode? Don't be shy. Drop a comment.  

 

 

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How My Credit Score jumped 246 points in 5 Months

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How My Credit Score jumped 246 points in 5 Months

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          Yes, you read that correctly. I improved my credit score by 246 points in a little less than 5 months. No, I didn't have a person "clean" my credit. By the way, those people that do that are really stealing your money. You can do most of that yourself and not pay anything, but I will touch on that later. I did it all by myself. Well, I did use an app; but, I was motivated by a good friend that made me feel terrible because she was improving her score as well.
 

Disclaimer: I am in no way a financial advisor. The steps I took to improve my score worked for me and they may not work for you. This is solely to show what I did and can be used as a guide to help others.

That Awful Moment You Realize You Are In Trouble  

             I must do something that I rarely do on this blog. I must get extremely personal. Revealing your credit score to others is worse than talking on stage in front of a million people. Especially when I remember how bad my credit score was. However, in the spirit of transparency, I must disclose where I began, in order to emphasize the improvement.

             Now, I wasn't out here just not paying bills. I just never really paid attention to my credit. Mainly because I bought everything in cash and I have been so against buying a house. Those aren't excuses, but they played a major role in why I neglected my credit for so long. There was a time when I had good credit. Then I divorced and all hell broke loose.

             It all started back around March of this year. I was speaking with a good friend, Crystal, about her wanting to buy a house. My first thought was to be a hater and discourage her and tell her how awful that would be. Why? Not because I thought it was an awful idea, but mainly because I wasn't able to do the same. She went on the tell me that she had been cleaning her credit and that I should as well. Prior to this, I ignored my credit. It was already bad, so why even bother with it? She told me to download the Credit Karma app. That way I could see my score and know what all was on my credit report. That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew my score was bad, but I didn't think it would be that bad. The number shook me to my core. It was at that moment I realized I had a problem. That number was 425.

         A $13 bill? Really?
 

           Yes, my score was a 425. I had never thought about a number having so much power. It was basically my worth. It was the number that defined me. I was instantly ashamed, as I had to reveal this to my friend. She was very encouraging and said we could attack our credit together. It sort of became our little competition. I highly suggest having someone you can confide in and to be there to uplift you and keep you from giving up. Trust me, I wanted to give up several times.

          So we looked over my credit report and all my past due accounts. There were several by the way. I was about $20,000 in debt at that point, which surprised me a little. The one thing that really made me feel ashamed was that I had a bill for $13 that was 5 years old! Yes! Just $13! It was a copay I forgot to pay. They’re petty for keeping that account open for that long though, lol.
 

           The Attack Plan


          I planned to attack my bills head on from the smallest to the largest. Some like to take a set amount and apply to all their past due bills, but I didn't want to do that. I like to see things vanish and have instant feedback. This is what works for me. Do what works best for you. I had 4 small bills totaling $200 that I paid off instantly. I called them up and paid them. I also asked that it be removed from my credit report. Additionally, I requested that they emailed or mail correspondence showing it was paid in full.
           Next up, I knew I needed more lines of good credit, so I decided to get a credit card. No one would give me one so I went the secured credit card route. The real beauty of these cards is that you're using your money. It's almost like a little savings account that can also help you build credit. You're also less likely to mess up your own money. I put $200 onto the secured credit card. I knew I had to keep spending less than 30%, so I added my Netflix account to the card and bought gas each week. I made sure I paid this off as soon as I got paid or a few days after. Why? Well, Credit Karma checks for changes more often than each month. While the credit card companies don't report that often, you still have more uses for them to report. That makes your score go up. I used that car each week and paid it off each week. I still have Netflix coming out automatically from it. I never go over $50 a month with this card.
             Thirdly, I disputed every past due account that I felt wasn't accurate. In doing so, I was able to knock away a large chunk of my debt. This is what those folks that charge lots of money to “clean” your  credit do. Essentially, they send out letters to the creditors and hope they don't respond within the mandatory 30 days. If they don't respond, the account is closed and your score goes up. Again, let me reiterate, YOU can totally do this yourself and for free with the Credit Karma app. Don't waste your money!
             About a month or so in, I noticed my score had improved about 100 points. I was happy with this, but I set a goal go being in the 600 club. I knew to do that I needed more lines of credit and a better payment history. So I decided to get another credit card. This time I was approved for an unsecured card with a $500 limit on it. I cut the cable cord years ago and my main way of viewing TV is through Netflix and Playstation Vue. Due cost about $30 a month, so I have it coming directly out of this card. I also used this card to pay a few bills. I also use this card to get groceries. It never goes over $150 per month


              600 Club Yo!
 

            I noticed my score was stuck around the 575 range for a while. I was paying some bills off, but I wasn't seeing the jump I really wanted. I had about 5 bills left on my credit report and they were largely significant. I knew I was going to need more lines of credit to get the boost I needed. So, I applied for another credit card. The beauty of Credit Karma is that they have these little card suggestions and they tell you what your odds are of getting these cards. Luckily, I applied and I got approved for a card with a $1,000 limit. I had hit the big leagues! LOL. I used that to instantly pay off a $400 bill I had. (I used $300 from the card and $100 from my savings). The next month I saw that I had finally arrived in the 600 club!
            I worked extra at work, scored a few photography gigs, paid off another bill, and the credit cards, and BOOM! My score jumped again! I hit 648! I was at a point where I could buy a house if I wanted. Trust me, I looked for a minute and was almost going to pull the trigger, but I decided I wanted to now be in the 700 club! See how I make it into a little game? That's how I remain focused.
           That's pretty much it. That's how I improved my score. I know you're wondering how does he come up with a 246 point jump when 246 from 648 is only 223. I know right! Bad math. Well, while looking at homes, my car decided to crap out on me. It was still drivable, but it was drinking coolant every other day. I knew it was time to get a new car and I decided this was probably the best time to do so. I applied for a loan and was approved with an interest rate that was great for me. When I looked at the loan paperwork, my credit score was actually at 671! Hello semi decent credit!! I'm coming for you 700!
           

          In part 2, I will tell you how I got out of a car loan with 24.49% interest rate and got almost 12K off the MSRP of a 2017 model car. 

Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

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A ballerina in the river

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A ballerina in the river

            I recently took Maddy down to the "beach" area somewhere near Wolf River. No, I won't tell you how to get there. That's what exploring all about. Get out there and get lost! Anyways, I've been testing out my new Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8 lens and decided this was a great place to snap a few pics. This is by far one of the sharpest lens I have ever used. The weather wasn't the best but we made the best of the beach, river and her tutu! Here are some photos from this little in town adventure. 

 

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Sand castles  

Sand castles  

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Something touched my foot!!! 

Something touched my foot!!! 

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Life is for Living, 

Michael B.  

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I got a parking ticket

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I got a parking ticket

          Yep, I got a parking ticket. I haven't gotten a ticket in like forever. I'm not tripping because I got a ticket. If I parked illegally, then I will pay my fine and keep it moving. I'm not above the law. What I'm more upset about is the time I got the ticket. 845 ON A SATURDAY NIGHT!!! 

          Yes! You read that correctly! The parking meters were free on weekends the last time I parked downtown and now that's been snatched away. Want to know the new hours for parking meters? Monday through Saturday 6am-10pm!  10pm! No bueno Memphis. Also it's now $1.50 an hour with a 2 hour limit weekdays and 4 hours on the weekend. It was normally $1.25 an hour. Let's be real here, sometimes that ain't enough time. Try going to the Orpheum followed by a dinner on Main, thats way over the 4 hour limit. This ain't gonna work Memphis!  

           Finding a parking spot is already horrible downtown and now this? I will pay my ticket, but I ain't happy about it at all. I don't know what prompted this change or if it was even announced. It probably was announced but I more than likely missed the news report. Can a brother get some media access?  I think I will just Uber downtown from now on. At least I won't have to worry about coming back to my car with a ticket or a broken window.  

Life is for Living,

Michael B.  

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The Sunflower Series

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The Sunflower Series

            It's that time of year again Memphis! A time when the sunflowers at Shelby Farms are in full bloom! I love sunflowers and apparently so does all of Memphis! The crowds of people snapping pics of these huge clumsy flowers are huge. Everyone from kids inter Sunday's best to Instagrammers, looking for the next viral pic, were out there. You don't need a fancy camera either. An iPhone or other cell phone can do a great job. I took the opportunity to try so new fancy tricks I've learned. So now I present, The Sunflower Series.

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