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In this photo illustration Dollar and Euro notes are displayed, on November 26, 2010 in London, England.
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Money Trees: 10 Tips On Managing Your Finances During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Also, some songs to get you motivated and focused on the path to financial freedom.

The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted the lives of millions as self-isolation has become a brief normal. With students and some people working from home, many folks have also seen a vast change in their finances.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows increases in claims for jobless benefits for the week of March 14 with California taking the top spot with 58,208 claims, District of Columbia second at 16,120; Washington state third, with 14,846 and North Carolina rounding out the top four at 14,413.

As the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters the state received 80,000 unemployment applications last week. “We average about 2,000 unemployment insurance claims a day,” Newsom said. “Two days ago or three days, we saw about 40,000 applications. After that 70,000 applications. Yesterday, 80,000 unemployment applications.”

But each state, job, and situation are different. One thing that remains the same is staying ahead of your finances the best way possible. Hailing from a community who barely enjoys money talk, I know how hard it can be to work against the forces that include Sallie Mae, rent, credit cards, and UberEats orders. It's why I indulge in the gift that is The Financial Gym. With a fitness-inspired take on finances, the company works one-on-one with each client to ensure everyone gets to one step closer to financial freedom.

Below are some tips from the gym as well as your favorite hip-hop songs to keep you accountable and financially healthy.

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1. Scale Back On Extra Expenses

Non-essentials like to hide in plain sight. If there is a service you no longer need but still pay for, now is the best time to cut the cord and pad your bank account.

2. Create An Emergency Fund (If You Don't Have One)

According to Finder, the US average of savings accounts in 2019 was $16,420 with the median savings account holding $4,830. It can be very difficult to keep a savings account due to unexpected expenses but it doesn't hurt an emergency fund for rainy days.

“If you think we’re heading into a recession and you want to be extra safe, then you may increase your emergency savings to 8 months or longer,” suggests Shannon McLay, founder of The Financial Gym.

If this isn't realistic, adapt to your salary and build from there.

3. Don't Forget About D.E.B.T

If you have to adjust payments to fit your current situation, do so. The one thing that can harm you, is ignoring a bill. It won't go away until you make it.

Also, check-in with your bank. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, banks have waived fees and other costs. For example, Ally Bank is waiving fees for overdrafts, excessive transactions for savings and money market accounts for 120 days with expedited shipping of checks and debit cards. They've also pledged $3 million to help the communities where their employees live and work, with special hometown locations of Detroit and Charlotte.

4. Have Some Talents? Use Them!

If kids can make millions on YouTube by playing with toys, imagine what you can do simply by funneling your other talents. Create a YouTube channel. Make a blog. Get into photography. Start making clothes. Don't allow fear and panic to reduce your creative spirit. You might even make some money out of the deal.

5. Look Back On Life Goals

If you're planning on taking a big vacation or making a big purchase, put it on hold. “If your life goals are between two and five years, then you may want to think about a more conservative asset allocation, depending on your risk tolerance,” says Shannon. “However, if you’re life goals are beyond five years out, then the best thing you’re going to do is avoid looking at your statements, watching CNBC, and doing anything rash like selling at the wrong time.” Sure her sentiments were for facing a recession but the gospel applies here.

6. Sell Gently Used Items Online

'Tis the season for spring cleaning. While you're at it, you should empty your closet and fill your pockets. From electronics to gently worn shoes, clothes or accessories, feel free to turn your possessions into gems for the next person.

Also a tip from The Financial Gym:

Since you want to avoid conducting pick-up arrangements, you’ll want to sell on a platform where shipping is the standard. A few places to sell your pre-loved items online include, eBay and ThredUP, buy-sell-trade Facebook groups, and Gazelle for electronics. Just make sure your listed price accounts for costs, like platform fees, PayPal fees, and shipping.

7. Purge Your Photo Library...For Cash

We take a lot of photos we never share. Instead of letting them collect digital dust, sell your images of that sunset in Bali or crowd photos from Afrochella to sites like Shutterstock and iStock Photo.

8. Take Online Surveys

Platforms like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie provide cash for your time but don't quit your day job. Taking surveys online requires a lot of time so don't dump it all there.

9. Prepare For The Next "Pandemic"

Nipping the excess now only makes you a stronger financial warrior in the future. In addition to securing your pockets, accountability is a great quality you will likely spread to other aspects of your life.

10. Join The Financial Gym

The Financial Gym is currently offering a 20 percent discount to join. To get started schedule a consultation call here. All their events in NYC and D.C. are currently virtual experiences through the end of March.

Learn more about The Financial Gym here.

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Here Are All The Hits Played During Ne-Yo And Johntà Austin's Epic R&B Battle

Over the weekend, music aficionados were gifted producer battles from the best in the business. In addition to The Dream and Sean "The Pen" Garrett's wild head to head, Ne-Yo and Johntà Austin's standoff was one for the books.

The gentlemen squared up on Instagram Live Sunday (March 29) after much fanfare. The rules were simple–Show up sober, play 2. 25 songs apiece, no unreleased music, the songs can be from any genre and the time limit would be up to 90 seconds for each song.

Soon, the battle kicked off with sentimental tracks like "Unfaithful" by Rihanna and "I Miss You" by the late Aaliyah. As spectators like Usher, Tyrese, 9th Wonder, Diddy, Tinashe, Snoh Aalegra, Eric Bellinger, Brian Michael-Cox and more entered the chat, the songs got bigger and better.

Rounds 3 and 4 saw the big guns come out. Austin played tracks from Aaliyah and Chris Brown with Ne-Yo playing his own songs and hits from Beyonce. "When all else fails, you got to bet on yourself" he hilariously said before playing his 2008 hit, "Miss Independent."

The final round left fans in a frenzy as Austin played Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" and Ne-Yo ending with "Irreplaceable" by Beyonce. The entire match was a delight as both men praised each other for their pen game.

Superproducers Swizz Beats and Timbaland helped kicked off the current trend last week when they gave fans part 2 of their 2018 match. We also got to see a match between Boi-1da and HitBoy over the weekend with an unleased track with Roddy Rich and Drake.

But Sunday's battle was all about R&B, specifically tracks from the aughts that are often sampled today. Most fans and spectators landed at a draw for the battle as it was just too hard to land on a winner.

See the full list of tracks dished out below.

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Round One

Johntà - "Get Gone" by Ideal (1999)

Ne-Yo- "That Girl" by Marques Houston (2003)

Johntà- "I Miss You" by Aaliyah (2002)

Ne-Yo- "Unfaithful" by Rihanna (2006)

Johntà- "Like That" by Mariah Carey, Fatman Scoop and Jermaine Dupri (2005)

Ne-Yo- "Knock You Down" by Keri Hilson featuring Ne-Yo (2009)

Johntà- "Don't" by Bryson Tiller (2014)

Ne-Yo- "She Got Her Own" by Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo and Fabolous (2009)

Round Two

Johntà- "Stingy" by Ginuwine (2002)

Ne-Yo- "Own It" by Mack Wilds (2013)

Johntà- "Yo! (Excuse Me, Miss) by Chris Brown (2006)

Ne-Yo- "Stay" by Ne-Yo featuring Peedi Peedi (2006)

Johntà- "Don't Forget About Us" by Mariah Carey (2005)

Ne-Yo- "Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson (2005)

Johntà- "Just Be A Man About It" by Toni Braxton (2000)

Ne-Yo- "Do You" by Ne-Yo (2007)

Round Three

Johntà- "Shortie Like Mine" by Bow Wow featuring Chris Brown and Johntà Austin (2006)

Ne-Yo- "Bust It Baby Pt. 2)" by Plies featuring Ne-Yo (2008)

Johntà- "Need A Girl" by Trey Songz (2009)

Ne-Yo- "Go On Girl" by Ne-Yo (2007)

Johntà- "Sweet Lady" by Tyrese (1998)

Ne-Yo- "Make Me Better" by Fabolous featuring Ne-Yo (2007)

Johntà- "Like You" by Bow Wow featuring Ciara (2005)

Ne-Yo- "Leave You Alone" Jeezy featuring Ne-Yo (2011)

Round Four

Johntà- "With You" by Chris Brown (2007)

Ne-Yo- "So Sick" by Ne-Yo (2005)

Johntà- "Shake It Off" by Mariah Carey (2005)

Ne-Yo- "Take A Bow" by Rihanna (2008)

Johntà- "Can't Help But Wait" (2007)

Ne-Yo- "Sexy Love" (2005)

Johntà- "I Don't Wanna" by Aaliyah (1999)

Ne-Yo- "Flaws and All" by Beyonce (2006)

Round Five

Johntà- "Come Over" by Aaliyah (2003)

Ne-Yo- "Miss Independent" (2008)

Johntà- "Poppin'" by Chris Brown (2007)

Ne-Yo- "Mirror" by Ne-Yo (2006)

Johntà- "Be Without You" by Mary J. Blige (2005)

Ne-Yo- "Let Me Love You" by Mario (2004)

Johntà- "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey (2004)

Ne-Yo- "Irreplaceable" by Beyonce (2006)

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Michael Jackson announces plans for Summer residency at the O2 Arena at a press conference held at the O2 Arena on March 5, 2009 in London, England.
Tim Whitby/Getty Images

Michael Jackson's Estate Donates $300,000 To Coronavirus Relief Efforts

Broadway Cares, Nevada’s Three Square Food Bank and MusiCares are receiving a big donation from the estate of Michael Jackson to help with those affected by the coronavirus. 

Rolling Stone reports each organization will receive $100,000. Comprised of entertainment and service workers, the donation will help with those who have been hit the hardest due to production and stores closing in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. The move to issue relief was also inspired by the passing of Manu Dibango, the legendary Afro-jazz saxophonist who died earlier this week from the virus in Paris.

Dibango's career started in the 1950s, and he worked with the likes of Fela Kuti, Robbie Shakespeare, and others, but he's perhaps most known for "Soul Makossa" – which along with being popular in its own right, was sampled by Michael Jackson on the Thriller hit "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin.'"

“This virus strikes at the heart of the communities we are close to,” John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson, said in a statement. “We learned today that the legendary Manu Dibango passed away from the virus. Other performers and support staff in music and on Broadway are sick or have been left without work and are facing an uncertain future. And in Las Vegas, which has been so welcoming to Michael Jackson, the entire city has been shut down leaving thousands of workers and their families devastated and without an income.”

“MusiCares is very grateful for the outpouring of generosity we’ve seen from many in the music industry to grow the COVID-19 Relief Fund,” Steve Boom, MusiCares chair, said in a statement to the outlet. “The challenges that our industry is facing right now are enormous. It is contributions such as these that will help our community survive in this unprecedented time of tremendous need.”

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