For most of my life, I could afford to use my credit for shopping, cars, and trips. I had finally reached the point where I was saving up for a downpayment on a new house. Unfortunately, there was economic downturn and as a result, I lost my job. I had an emergency fund, but after that was gone, I dipped into my house fund and eventually burned through my savings. Soon after, I found myself buried in debt that I couldn't pay off. Then the phone calls started and I was constantly getting bombarded from debt collectors from unpaid credit card bills and I lost the ability to borrow or any line of credit from a bank. I was on the verge of losing everything I had worked so hard to get.

So, when confiding in some of my buddies about my financial situation, I was surprised to learn about Lexington Law. One of my friends promised they'd be able to help me take control of my financial issues, and get my life back in order, but I was pretty skeptical. He told me their team of lawyers uses legal strategies to challenge creditors about items on your report which helps improve your credit score. With nowhere else to turn, I decided to check them out.

I learned that they are a leading credit repair law firm that systematically uses the law to help eliminate negative entries on credit reports, and they have a method to help drive up credit scores. This all sounded great, but I was still a bit skeptical about how they could help me take control of my finances. After learning that Lexington Law removes an average of 10 items off your credit report in the first 4 months , and has a credit-coaching program teaching clients how to improve and maintain a higher credit score, I decided to give them a try.

Getting started was simple. I gave them a call and the representative answered my questions with patience and knowledge. She made me feel confident about improving my credit score, and explained that Lexington Law would send challenge letters requiring creditors to respond or refute. If they're unable to make a case, the items will be removed from my credit report.

After the first three months, seven items were removed from my credit score. During this time, communicating with my representative was easy with access to my personal online dashboard. The dashboard allowed me to see my credit score from all three bureaus along with the positive and negative items impacting my credit. The best part was that I could even challenge items on my report directly from the dashboard. Each time I made a challenge, my representative would get an alert, and she and her team would begin working on them right away. Watching the items get removed from my credit report made me feel like I was taking control of my finance.

For many people, their credit score does not accurately describe what kind of person they are. Despite being a conservative spender, I have faced many years of financial distress. I'm glad I decided to learn more about Lexington Law and was able to turn around my score. Working with them for even a short period of time, they helped me get rid of the big blemishes on my credit report. My goal this year is to make the next big purchase in my life (buying a house), and Lexington Law has made that possible for me.

Update: Lexington Law is offering our readers free credit repair consultation, which includes a complete review of your FREE credit report summary and score. You can follow this link, or call 1-833-825-3700 to take advantage of this no-obligation offer.

Call anytime between 7am and 11:59pm EST to get your free credit report and score!

Call 1-833-825-3700

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.