How the Financial Service Industry Evolved through the Years

Gone are the days when people needed to wait in line just to get things done at their banks. Never again should one worry about rushing to the bank just to get everything done quickly and “conveniently.” Thanks to technological advancement in the world of banking, everything has drastically changed for the better.

Simply put, technology has merged with financial services so well that it has become its own bustling industry.

Although traditional banking still exists today, the financial service industry is leaning toward transitioning completely with the integration of technology. As the world seems to be brought closer and closer by the second, banking and other financial services are made more convenient with innovative systems that are designed to help each company meet the demands of today. Transactions are done faster, and customers are less frustrated by the waiting game.

While there are countless technologies being developed today for better customer experience and quality service, there are those that pushed the industry into a whole new level of convenient customer service.

Here we’ll list the innovations in the financial services industry, the various transitions they have undergone, and the different factors that led the entire financial services business to its current state. 

Primary Shift: Bank Card Convenience

During the earlier days of banking, checks and passbooks used to be a common option by almost every bank account owner. Later on, banks acknowledged that they needed to provide customers with something that was more mobile, something as good as money. Hence, bank cards were born.

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According to MasterCard, the first bank card was introduced by Brooklyn banker John Biggins in 1946. He fondly called it “Charg-It” and when customers used it for purchase, the bill was then forwarded to Biggins’ account. Afterwards, the bank reimbursed the merchant and obtained payment from the customer.

It turns out, Biggins’ simple idea shaped the whole future of the banking industry. The plastic credit and debit cards came soon after the “Charg-It”. Soon enough, other transaction cards were invented. ATM cards, fleet cards, and free gift cards became popular with different types of users.

Today, everyone seems to have bank cards on hand all the time, enabling them to pay a merchant for goods and services with one tap or swipe. Since almost everyone has a card or two, it is about time to know how bank cards of today work.

As everybody is aware, there are a variety of cards available for each person, depending on his or her needs. A credit card for example, is a payment card issued to users to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services. All of this is possible based on the cardholder’s promise to the card issuer to pay the amoun, potentially with other agreed-upon charges.

What card issuers do is to create a revolving account and grant card holders a line of credit, from which the user can “borrow” money for payment to a merchant or as cash advance. The catch about credit cards is that there is a credit limit with every account, and a requirement to pay the cash borrowed within a specific period of time. All things considered, credit cards prove to be beneficial if maintained properly.

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The other popular type of bank card is the debit card. A debit card is slightly different from the credit card. It does offer the same convenience of a credit card, but works in a different way. Debit cards draw money directly from your checking account when you make the purchase. This means that when you purchase goods or services for a certain cost, it is placed on hold until the amount is deposited by the purchaser. This is why it may be best to keep a running balance on the debit card so that transactions may be done faster and more smoothly.

Second Gear: Mobile Banking

As the world of finance and banking moves forward to integrating technologies to make everyone’s transactions faster and more customer-friendly, the banking world has recognized that there is a next step toward helping people benefit from using bank cards.  The mobile industry has boomed in the last decade because of its convenience and connectivity. Now, most people could not live a day without their mobile phones. This is exactly why bankers and corporations needed to shift their business to second gear through mobile banking.

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Mobile banking has been many financial service corporations’ answer to the increasing demand for convenience and easier transactions. It is technically defined as a service provided by a bank or other financial institutions that permits customers to do financial transactions online. Using a mobile phone or tablet, banking is made available 24 hours a day. This is possible because of a developed mobile application that can be downloaded to mobile devices, depending on the user’s type of operating software.

The earliest recorded type of mobile banking used to be done in SMS. In  1999, smart phones were introduced into the market, which included WAP support that enabled users to connect to the internet. European companies made sure to take the first step, launching their mobile banking platform. However, with the rapid growth of mobile applications in the last decade, banking corporations evolved to produce applications that fully support banking processes such as viewing account details and previous transactions, balance inquiries, and fund transfers.

However, there is more to mobile banking than what exists right now. With the development of new technology and increasing use of smartphone and tablet-based devices, mobile banking can now enable customers to link their accounts across various aspects of their online life. Certain functionalities on the business end help create new ways of lead generation, prospecting, as well as developing deep customer relationships. Plus, the world of mobile banking would achieve superior customer experience with bi-directional communications.

Tertiera: Variety of Trading Platforms

As mobile banking made spending online more convenient and more accessible, many companies have also tried to tinker with the possibility of establishing various platforms where people can both earn and spend their resources. Usually launched online, these trading platforms allow the power of online banking and trading in one. One of the leading platforms in this regard is PayPal.

PayPal is an online payment service that allows individuals and businesses to transfer funds electronically. The idea behind PayPal is simple: Use encryption software to allow people to make financial transfers between computers. That simple idea has turned into one of the world’s primary methods of online payment.

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PayPal now boasts over 100 million active accounts in 190 markets worldwide. Anyone can send funds to anyone with an email address, whether they have a PayPal account or not. However, in order to receive the funds, the recipient must have a PayPal account associated with a specific email address. Basic PayPal accounts are free, and many financial transactions are free as well, including all purchases from merchants that accept payments using PayPal.

Even the best technology companies lean towards playing a part in this trading platform. Google Wallet, a renowned platform in the United States, boasts the same capabilities, enabling users to wire money even if the recipient has no Google Wallet account. Payza, Paymate, PayMaya and many other platforms are taking part in this bustling business, enabling customers to choose from a wide variety of brands.

It can be expected that banking technology will only move forward from here, with a goal to make it even more convenient for more customers all around the globe.

Six Important Things To Do In Your 20s

Twenties. It’s that period in one’s life when you can either be too adventurous or too conservative. If you want to set yourself up for success in your 30s (or much later in life), it’s best if you make the most out of your 20s by building a career, experiencing new things through travel, connecting with your family and friends, and saving up.

Search or build a career that enables you to work from home

Remote employment has become increasingly popular these days, and you should take advantage of it. One of the best ways to have more control in your life is by working from home, because once you’re home, things can start to shift in your favor as you call the shots in how you do your work.

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Of course, there are various challenges with this set-up. There are relatively few types of jobs that translate to a career from home. That’s why you should first survey the different careers that are typical of at-home workers before you set yourself up for one of them.

Almost every professional who is now working from home has either worked very hard in their twenties to build their own business or has worked hard enough in the past to specialize on a certain skill that has made them highly valuable in the company to replace. The bottom line is that there’s just much freedom and flexibility about this kind of job that it could lead to bigger career changes in the next decade of your professional life.

Travel

Heading out to faraway places and discovering new parts of the world – especially on your own – is definitely a spiritually rewarding experience. It can also tell you that are mature enough to go on your own and learn from other cultures.

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During this time, you won’t have any other pressing obligations and could be carefree for a few moments. Use this opportunity to meet different people, live with them, and understand their thoughts and culture. Plus, you can learn how to survive independently outside the comforts of your usual environment.

In itself, traveling is a great provider of knowledge. There are tons of things that you can learn if you invest in a form of travel during your 20s. Try not to go from one hotel to another, but also try going from city to city, or country to country, staying with, when possible, with local families. People learn through struggling, and if you can push yourself to struggle with language, customs, foods, and arts, you can definitely learn a lot.

Build muscle.

There are many rewards of trying to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that “aesthetically pleasing” people tend to be those who are more privileged in life. According to Daniel Hamermesh’s research, “Attractive people are likely to earn an average of 3 to 4 percent more than a person with below-average looks. That adds up to $230,000 more over a lifetime for the typical good-looking person, Dr. Hamermesh estimates. Even an average-looking worker is likely to make $140,000 more over a lifetime than an ugly worker.”

When you do decide to start to working on your dream body, you should do it as early as possible. What you probably didn’t know is that you can buy yourself some time if you’ve been lifting weights regularly during your twenties. When muscles have been built earlier in your life, they tend to stay strong long enough that you can do relatively simpler workouts in your thirties. This plan allows you a lot more flexibility with your workout regimen later on.

Of course, fit and more buff people are generally healthier than the average man. This means that not only do you get more attractive, but you also live longer and not worry too much about avoidable ailments in your old life. There are many other benefits to being fit, and you should start aiming to be one in your 20s. Because living healthy is a lifestyle as much as it is a habit, you need to build up that pattern as early as possible so that your own body would be groomed for a healthier life.

Connect with your siblings

Staying in touch with your siblings in your twenties may not be as fun as it was when you were a toddler. This is the period when people are beginning to make their marks in their communities. They begin to establish their own identities. Some even go as far as becoming their parents or become romantically engaged with someone like their parents.

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At this point, you might be in denial of this new turn in life. You might even stay in that denial stage as long as possible.  This can lead to avoiding anything related to your parents. This includes avoiding your siblings because siblings can always tell when you’re acting like your parents.

According to a study from Harvard, one of the indicators of people who are happy is their relationships with their siblings as an adult. Those who remain close with their siblings are generally happier and more directed in life.

If believe the path to happiness lies in being able to get into exclusive clubs or have the fanciest things money can buy, you should probably choose a new path. These things don’t last. Your siblings are the ones who stay the longest. Give them regular visits and see a different light in your life.

Save as much as you can, even when it means being stingy sometimes.

Money shouldn’t be your primary motivator, but nearly everyone could easily say that you should still focus on sensible financial planning, especially setting away a rainy-day fund to cushion you when you hit inevitable bumps on the road. Start saving and look for guides on the internet on how you can live a generous life without having to spend a lot.

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You can set aside six to 12 months of living expenses. You don’t want to panic or change your lifestyle if something bad happens like injury, sickness, or job loss.

When it comes to treating others, always remember that you really don’t have to impress your friends. For example, you can just look for cheap but memorable – or practical – gifts to your best friend’s wedding like a water heater from your local store or something creative like a survival kit that you can buy online. Indeed, it’s not your task to impress your friends by spoiling them with an expensive night out. Rather, save now and be prepared when the time of need comes.

Realize that 20s is not practice

Your 20s shouldn’t be a rehearsal for your old age. It is real life and the poor choices that you can make can haunt you when you’re older. Don’t worry about something like relocation – it’s true that you can live anywhere, but it’s not true that you’re going to want to live just anywhere. Go on and live with your parents if money is a big issue, but make sure that you are looking ahead after a certain amount of time.

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People in their twenties spend too much time making dead-end decisions that they pretend don’t count. Instead, focus on using a systematic way to try new jobs and new relationships to figure where you fit. Don’t worry that things don’t feel right in your twenties because everything happens so fast. Time does speed up as you get older, and you’re not going to believe how fast your twenties are over.

The Pros and Cons of Angel Investing

The idea of being an angel investor is really tempting, and many angel investors have found a lot of success with their endeavors. Technically, angel investors are those who invest in small startups or entrepreneurs, and often, they are among the entrepreneur’s family and friends. The angel investors may provide a one-time investment to help the business propel or an ongoing injection of money to support and carry the company through its difficult early stages.

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They are called “angels” for a reason. Angel investors, according to other definitions, are also called informal investors, angel funders, private investors, seed investors, or business angels. They are usually affluent individuals who inject capital for startups in exchange for the company’s equity or convertible debt. Some angel investors invest through crowdfunding platforms online or build angel investor networks to pool in capital.

The biggest takeaway as to why most people would consider becoming an angel investor is that being a private investor allows for more favorable terms for both parties as compared to becoming a lender. Lenders would normally invest on the entrepreneur starting the business rather than the viability of the business itself. As an angel investor, they are more focused on helping startups take their first steps, rather than the possible profit they may get from the business.

Essentially, angel investors are the opposite of venture capitalists.

However, there are still challenges that could come along with this investment. It’s like when you get a physical gold IRA or simply invest in the stock market – you need to have a certain level of risk appetite to take on those challenges.

As such, before you decide to go out and start helping entrepreneurs, find out the pros and cons of becoming an angel investor to make sure that you make the most out of your investment money.

Pros:

You do become the Angel that a startup business needs

Becoming an angel investor would mean that you can really make one’s dream a reality. When entrepreneurs have exhausted money from friends and family, personal savings, bank loans, and credit cards for their startups, they may seek angel investors to help them fill their needed equity gap. According to studies, nearly 2/3 of funding for new enterprises is obtained from angel investors. Therefore, angel investor capital can provide a great source of funding for new businesses that have a high potential for growth.

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Flexible Business Agreements

Becoming an angel investor can yield the most flexible business agreement, and you can always get the better end off of a startup business. Angel investors have a more informal investment criteria compared to the traditional financial lenders, including banks and venture capitalists. Since they are investing their own money, their business deals can often be negotiable. Because of this flexibility, they are more likely to be excellent sources of capital for early-stage businesses.

Raising Capital Continuously

Most early-stage ventures require small amounts of money, typically less than $500,000. Angel investors can provide this needed amount by using their own personal funds for the investment. This really gives a lot of mileage for startup businessmen because of the higher potential for more capital. Venture capitalists, on the other hand, typically pool money from different sources, generally invest in later-stage companies that have already established stability and success, and invest in enterprises in need of at least $500,000 to $1 million.

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Getting Rid of High Monthly Fees

Another benefit from raising an angel capital is that there are no outstanding payment rates such as the ones that bank loans and credit cards require. Many entrepreneurs enjoy this element of angel investors, concentrating their time and effort into taking their new business forward rather than worrying about high monthly payments and fees that traditional lenders enforce. It’s like you’re passively gaining the income while getting rid of that extra hassle of outstanding fees.

High Risk, But Definitely High Rewards

You can consider this as either a pro or a con. Angel investing is definitely a high-risk maneuver, but surely a highly rewarding experience. An angel investor’s capital in a new business is considered to be a high-risk investment since the new company has not yet established a solid track record of success. Since they often provide the initial funding for a new company, it can be quite difficult to determine if their invested enterprise can become successful in the long run. Despite the fact that most new businesses fail in their initial years, angel investors tend to be quite optimistic about their investment choices and often request a large amount of returns to counterbalance the risk.

Providing Money That’s Not a Loan

As you take out your small business loan, your bank expects you to repay it, whether the venture succeeds or not. As an Angel investor, you operate inside a different framework. You offer the capital needed to get the ball rolling. The startup businessman would definitely feel blessed because of your existence, especially when most banks would decline him off a business loan. Surely, if the startup takes off, both parties reap the financial rewards. Then again, this might also be considered a con: while providing lesser headaches for the startup businessman, essentially giving away your money without definite collateral might fire back at you when the company falls flat.

Helping Others, Especially the Community

Many angel investors choose to invest locally – therefore, as an angel investor, you are extending your help to someone as they grow inside the community. The capital investment that Angel investors provide for a new business not only assists the launch of a new enterprise, but also helps create employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth by encouraging consumers to purchase their products. Many angel investors take pride in using their expertise in giving back to their community. These are the angel investors who look beyond monetary return.

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Cons:

No Recognition

Anonymity can either be good or bad for Angel investors. While there are well-documented directories of venture capital firms available, there is no national register for angel investors. Due to these differences, angel investors do not have the national recognition as their venture capitalist counterparts. They remain hidden and mysterious but choose to do so in order to have a degree of separation from entrepreneurs who may pester them with their business plans and telephone calls.

Extremely High Risk

Like mentioned before, becoming an Angel investor is a very high risk. Sure enough, you can gain a good amount of control to the business venture, but oftentimes, this wouldn’t be enough to necessarily steer the startup venture in the right manner. Also, the business enterprise could easily fail because you’re making a deal with startups. While everybody has to start from somewhere, not all startup entrepreneurs are good, and they can even be too ambitious for their own good. The high risk of becoming an angel investor may easily be rewarded with results, but they are risks nonetheless.

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Becoming an Angel Investor is Quite Costly

In exchange for providing the needed startup capital for a new company, many angel investors often require a certain percentage of stake in a company, starting at 10% or more, and expect a large ROI for their exit. However, as mentioned earlier, becoming an angel investor requires a huge amount of investment with no return in a short amount of time.

3 Financial Benefits of Being Healthy and Where to Start

Keeping yourself fit and its effects on your overall health is something that you’ve already read about many times. What you may not know is that working out and eating right actually has tremendous financial benefits, too. A lot of research suggests that overweight people spend more on health care. Then again, it’s not just the lean who stand to save. The fact is that regardless of your weight, if you’re a couch potato, you’re most likely missing out on earning and saving opportunities.

Here are some of the benefits of being healthy overall, and how to keep a simple exercise regimen for starters:

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Benefit 1: Total Payoff in every bit of your paycheck

Health care costs aren’t the only way physical activity is a benefit. People who work out regularly – e.g. at least three times in a week – are more productive at work than those who don’t, according to research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Generally, those who get sufficient exercise also miss fewer workdays, according to the same study.

Again, those absences can translate to lost income and lost opportunities for advancement.

Devoting work time to physical activity can lead to higher productivity, a research from Stockholm University also suggested. The study shows that it is possible to use work time for exercise or other health-promoting measures and still attain the same or higher production levels.

The same production levels with fewer work hours means greater productivity, while individuals benefit from better health as a result of the physical activity. This increased productivity comes from people getting more done during the hours they are at work and from less absenteeism owing to sickness.

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Another study published in the Journal of Labor Research found that men who work out regularly can expect to make 6% more than their sedentary counterparts on average. For women, the pay boost is higher: Fitness-savvy females make 10% more on average.

Benefit 2: Lose Weight, Lower Healthcare Costs

This is a no-brainer, but in case you take it for granted, lowering healthcare cost is probably the best reason to start exercising and losing weight. The World Health Organization has stated that people who exercise regularly save an estimated $500 in annual healthcare costs.

Elective procedures are always going to be expensive. Unexpected trips to the emergency room because of unforeseen accidents and illnesses, like fractures and infections are always pricey. Additionally, paying for the medical treatments you can’t predict is hard enough – it is always better to stop shelling out hundreds per year on preventable healthcare costs.

Having an inactive lifestyle is one of the many causes of heart attack, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and depression. Just by doing regular exercise, like walking or swimming a few times a week, you can greatly reduce your risk of serious health conditions and diseases. You breathe better, sleep better, have more energy, and, if you make it a serious lifestyle change, you would most likely be able to dodge pricey health treatments and prescriptions altogether.

Benefit 3: Breaking the Habit

One of the best, if not the best, reasons why you should go out and exercise more often is that it changes your mindset. There’s a cycle that most people follow that keeps them in debt, and makes saving any money at all seem impossible.

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People oftentimes work too much, are constantly stressed out, and never have enough time to eat quality meals or take care of their bodies. This is where the health challenge comes in.

Break the cycle by introducing one of the best stress-busters out there into your routine.

Get excited about trying new healthy recipes, and scour the web for meal plans, snacks, and coupons to keep costs down. Fill up your free time by trying a new class at the gym, or exploring a new hiking trail with your family. Carry your new mindset over into healthcare, treating common aches and illnesses with gentle exercises like yoga, and nutritious foods.

Baby Steps to Getting Fit: Where to start?

If you want to start your road to being healthy, it’s always best if you start small. Commitment to exercise and other workout programs could be daunting to anyone, and what usually happens is that people would stop working out after Day 1 simply because it was just too tiring.

If you have a gym membership, it’s always best to look for an instructor, because they can teach you the proper workout plan, the proper diet, even the proper supplementation. More importantly, they can help you decide on how to properly start your training regimen, like suggesting the best time to workout depending on your working schedule, recommending the top 5 pre workouts for energy before working out (so you can maximize your results), and determining a better meal plan for yourself.

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If you don’t have a gym membership, you can always go to the internet for different programs to follow, especially the ones where you can perform them at home. You can try these simple workouts for beginners:

Note: Perform this workout as a circuit, completing the prescribed number of repetitions of each exercise without resting. Once you’ve done one set of each exercise, rest for two minutes, then repeat the entire circuit one to two more times.

 Bodyweight Squat:

Stand as tall as you can with your feet spread slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level, so that your arms are parallel to the floor.

Keep your torso as upright as you can for the entire movement, with your lower back slightly arched. Brace your abs, and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.

Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do 15 to 20 repetitions.

Incline Push-up:

Assume a push-up position, but place your hands placed on a raised surface—such as a box, bench, ottoman or one of the steps of your stairs—instead of the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head.

Keeping your body rigid, lower your body until your upper arms dip below your elbows. Pause, and then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible.

Do 12 to 15 repetitions.

Hip Raise:

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms out to your sides at a 45-degree angle, your palms facing up. Now try to make your tummy as skinny as possible and hold it that way—this gives you a tight core—while breathing normally.

Keeping your core tight, squeeze your glutes and raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause for five seconds—squeezing your glutes tightly the entire time—then lower body back to the starting position.

Do 10 repetitions.

Side Plank:

Lie on your right side with your knees straight. Prop your upper body on your right elbow and forearm, which should be directly below your right shoulder. Place your left hand on your left hip.

Similar to the hip raise, try to make your tummy as skinny as possible and hold it that in while breathing normally. Then raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. With your core tight, hold this position for 30 seconds. Roll onto your other side and repeat.

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You can also always start off trying out running and/or jogging for at least 30 minutes per day. Cardio exercises go a long way in terms of keeping yourself healthy and active with just a little bit of time commitment every day.

3 Financial Factors to Consider When Buying Your First Car

Buying one’s first car is something that is special because it is all enthusiasm from that point and moving forward. With good reasons, considering the fact that having a car can provide convenience since one is now able to take the road for new exciting adventures faster and easier.  For some, it can be a symbol for luxury, its leather seats providing the best comfort and that majestic sensation.

Either way, getting a car entails some major financial implications to a person or family who is making the decision. This is why it is important for every person to consider a number of financial factors before making that big purchase.

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Many people have already recognized that a car is more of a need than luxury. In fact, almost everyone in the United States has a car or has registered for a driver’s license, accounting for a rise from 167 million to about 214 million just in 2014. Car ownerships are continuing to rise mainly because of the benefits of having a personal or family automobile, all the more reason why everyone else should take time to list down some important things first before purchasing their own.

Here are some of the considerations one should sit down and look at before deciding to buy his or her first car:

How much is Affordable?

The rookie mistake for each person trying to get a new car is that it’s almost always certain that he will want the best line of the top tier brand. No one can blame them, as having a new car can induce a kind of excitement that is incomparable. Financially, however, the primary factor to consider for anyone about to purchase their dream vehicle at this point is his budget and how much is he willing to actually spend on it.

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Setting up a realistic budget before any decision to purchase is compulsory to any person wanting to be financially smart. This is to project whether the purchase would bring more benefits or more financial stress in both the short term and long term future. Is that new Cadillac 2017 XT5 Crossover fit one’s budget, or is it just there only to put more financial stress? Is the 2017 Toyota Yaris of great value to a person and his family considering that it’s cheaper?

Making a decision for a new car can be both exciting and stressing at the same time.

With regard to prices, one does not only have to look for brand new cars. The point is that there are so many car lines being produced today, and as the integrations of technology add to its mechanisms, the prices are pushed to the ceiling. As a smart consumer, it isn’t necessarily good.

Cars being introduced today are not really affordable for many people, which is why buying used cars can be the answer to this hindrance. According to Experian’s most recent State of the Automotive Finance Market report, used vehicles definitely cost less – a LOT less, with an average financed amount of $18,850. That’s more than $10,000 less than the amount for a typical new auto!

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The common misconception of buying a used car is it is not as classy and as hot compared to brand new ones. The image formed in one’s mind when looking for second hand cars is it is ragged and craggy, rusty and may be break down easily when you drive a mile up.

That’s not necessarily true.

Secondhand cars can still provide the same dreamy, classy ambience emanated from a brand new car. Buying used cars is gaining popularity over the years because beyond its apparent cheapness, they are tuned, durable and most definitely reliable. In fact, for as low as $10,000, people can find good quality Toyota used cars in the market today!

Availability of Payment Options

As one has already set the budget and has projected the amount that he needs to pay, it is now time to take into account the availability of payment options. A good payment option lessens the financial stress of a person as he or she continually pays for the car. Usually, cars are sold less when bought at a full price, but that is not the common thing for many people to do as car prices are steadily going up.

A variety of banks are actually offering car loans which actually help those who want to purchase a new car. It is a good payment option mainly because a carbuyer doesn’t have to take out a huge amount of money in the succeeding payments. This partitions the full amount to a number of payable months which is achievable for many. The important thing however is to look for banks which offer little interests or collaterals since a missed payment can cost huge losses for a payor. Reading the contract with full understanding should be mandatory.

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There are also numerous payment options for second hand vehicles. While it is true that one would typically pay a higher interest rate on a loan for a used vehicle than he will on a loan for a new vehicle, historically low rates mean that many automakers can offer attractive financing options for their Certified Pre Owned (CPO) vehicles. Certified pre-owned cars (CPO) present an attractive alternative to buying a higher-priced new car. For less money, a CPO buyer can afford a car that feels almost new, even if the odometer is showing some miles.

In addition, shopping for a CPO car is easier than shopping for a used car. This is because the certification process removes one of the major drawbacks to buying a used car: uncertainty about the mechanical condition of the vehicle. A factory-trained mechanic inspects a potential CPO car to ensure it measures up to the requirements of that manufacturer’s program. The dealership that’s performing the certification replaces or repairs anything that’s worn beyond the limits of that manufacturer’s program.

Ownership Expenditures

What most people fail to consider in buying their first car is their assessment of what is called the ownership costs. Most people think that the cost for a car is seen on based on what the salesman offers. This is a wrong notion since the purchase is just the start of the financial stress.

When buying a car, many customers determine the value that a vehicle offers by comparing the price tag versus the features and benefits. For example, if one car costs a bit more money but has better gas mileage and more cargo room, most would consider that a good value. Based solely on that criterion, they would be correct. However, most customers don’t consider all the costs that go into a vehicle.

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It may be smart to check out Intellichoice.com, a site which does a great 5-Year Cost of Ownership projection for new and even used cars. This projection takes all of the different factors into account including costs depreciation, financing costs, repairs, maintenance, fuel, and insurance. It totals them all up over the cost of 5 years, and compares that to the industry average for that vehicle’s class. Depending on how far above or below the total number is from the average, Intellichoice places a rating on the car.      

3 Financial Considerations Before Starting a Family

Starting a family can be one of the most fruitful decisions a person can make in his or her life. This opens doors for any couple as they become more aware of their responsibilities to each other and, soon enough, as parents. Then again, starting a family doesn’t necessarily go smoothly every time, especially when it comes to finances.

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As adults, each person has to face the financial stress of this chapter in their lives. Starting from the expenses related to marriage and then having children, and eventually, having to provide for those children – all of which becomes a trying, albeit fulfilling, challenge for those involved. Normally, the latter is one of the toughest realities but offers the most lessons for any family. Ultimately, management of financial resources is vital to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

For this reason, it is integral for every family to be aware of the things that can help them endure the ups and downs of their financial aspect of their marital life. Even from the start of the marriage, each person in a blossoming relationship should be kept accountable for and to each other in order to take on any challenges to come. As such, these financial tips should be kept in mind to help ease, if not totally avoid, any financial distress of starting a family.

Evaluate Personal and Family Expenses

An unfortunate fact in this world is that people often disregard proper financial management in their lives, causing monetary disasters evident in the many cases of debt, unpaid and growing interest in bank loans, and even bankruptcy. The experience can be quite excruciating, given the implications of such financial problems, not to mention today’s economic instability and decline.

doing their finances

In this day and age, financial advising and management can draw the fine line between an impending catastrophe and smooth sailing most notably for anyone who wants to start a family.

Assuming that both partners are working, it is important that people grow a better understanding of financial management to better prepare themselves for their future. The most modest yet most profound lesson any professional financial adviser can give anyone is for them not to spend money he or she doesn’t have.

As for anyone living in the trend-dependent, erratically extravagant and luxurious lifestyle of this generation, the inevitable thing to happen is for a person riding the mainstream waves. This can ultimately have people running off to swipe their credit cards left and right anytime and anywhere they like. There is nothing wrong about wanting and having the fancy accessories, luxurious gadgets, and the expensive clothing from time to time. However, the real issue comes in on how a person programs his or her mind on spending, or how he or she evaluates the significance of any purchase.

Sadly, and most ironically, ‘Shoppaholics’ are now more socially-accepted than ever. Impulsive buyers are swinging around in Gucci bags and Louis Vuitton’s not caring whether they have enough savings or finances for future use. This is something that people in the working bracket should be avoiding. To break the curse of being an impulsive buyer, one should always try to evaluate the importance of their major purchases. Looking it over and over to process if it really is essential is important because purchases entail financial repercussions.

Both partners should be held responsible for each other’s expenses as each should be responsible for themselves in the first place. A good financial status in a family starts when all individuals involved have discipline and self-control with regard to their spending. If people in a relationship are already under financial stress, it may be best to make that call to Creditfix – IVA to ask help with the family’s finances. It may very well be that one thing that can help avoid any further financial downward spiral.

A Family that Saves Together Stays Together

The most common way to go about being financially learned is by saving. As a child, it is rewarding when a person actually fills his piggy bank, and then eventually open it for Christmas to buy his desired toy. Come to think of it, this is the same rewarding feeling any person can have if he or she decides to save. This feeling of euphoria is compounded if couples are one with the goal of saving up for something really special – like a house or a brand new car.

Saving is an important facet in everyone’s financial life. This is because there comes a time when financial problems arise. It may happen when business may not be doing too well, or when one becomes ill and is unable to be productive. These challenging circumstances are exactly when saved money can provide its best benefit.

Nothing beats having an emergency fund or rainy day stash to expend on these harsh times, especially when the other person in the relationship is struggling with regard to his or her health.

saving pennies

In essence, the bigger question is not how important saving is, but how one goes about it. Any good saver first establishes where to put his or her money. This can be manifested in opening bank accounts, preferably savings accounts where the person can deposit his money. Even a traditional coin bank may actually be a good idea, considering it can be significant money when the time comes.

At the end of the day, each penny counts when a person is aware of the inevitable financial stress that may come his or her way.

Investing is Genius

Investing is integral for people who are aware of the financial wonders it can bring to any individual. Investing early is much more preferred especially for those starting a family. The question is – where does one invest?

Banking is one of the most common used approaches for saving money. In fact, it is a form of investing as well. Over time, money saved in a bank account can accumulate interest. The amount of interest can be noteworthy for people who put a lot of money in their account. Couples can opt to have a joint account to share ownership, but they can still opt for individual accounts to make it more personal.

couple talking to financial advsior

Most banks only part interest not greater than 5% to the savings account. Naturally for lower money deposited, lower interest is accrued. Considering this, an alternative method to actually save wisely is by investing the money in the stock market.

Various firms and companies cater to those who want to start using their bank-deposited money in stock market. In a nutshell, the amount is used by the investing companies as their principal in during stock exchange. Eventually, mutual funds “promise” an interest at the end of the year that may be much higher than that of the banks. It is a brilliant alternative to save up the money while not actually getting involved in any task.

Considering this path, the name of the game is patience.

On another note, a person can actually “play” at the stock market personally by investing at the stocks companies. A person can buy or sell his stocks online, giving him an idea of the current money he has. By calculated selling and buying trends of the stocks, one can exchange a previously bought stock for a higher amount. The small earnings one gets from each stock unit eventually multiplies as the number of sold stocks arise. This is the core of Wall Street and the expertise of many professional money makers.

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Ultimately, all the money saved can be used for other ventures such as setting up a new businesses or franchising brands.

Finding Fraud: How to Spot Insurance Scams

Deciding when or where you’re going to invest in insurance is a very important decision in life.
It is a tremendous financial turning point where you’re making decisions in entrusting your hard-earned savings through insurance providers that can accommodate your needs. This type of decision is especially difficult to make when struggles such as old age, sickness, or injuries are more likely to occur. Financially investing in life insurance providers is important as you can only do so much in preparing for the future since diseases or accidents can never really be forecasted.

Unfortunately, life insurance as a business entails opportunities for some delinquents who commit insurance fraud. According to Investopedia.com,

Insurance fraud from the issuer (seller) includes selling policies from non-existent companies, failing to submit premiums and churning policies to create more commissions. Buyer fraud includes exaggerated claims, falsified medical history, post-dated policies, viatical fraud, faked death or kidnapping, murder and much more.”

The specifics of life insurance investments are also complex. With many providers such as State Farm Group, facilitating for different plans for definite needs ranges from handling insurance on cancers, obesity, mental health and even issues on divorce. Such complexities can come by, especially when scammers begin to set their sights on a big fish.

Types of Fraud

Insurance fraud comes in two main categories: seller fraud and buyer fraud. Seller fraud occurs when the seller of a policy hijacks the usual process in a way that maximizes his or her profit. Buyer Fraud occurs when the buyer bends the process to obtain more coverage, or claim more cash, than he or she is rightly entitled to.

Investopedia added, “Insurance fraud is basically an attempt to exploit an insurance contract. Insurance is meant to protect against risks. It isn’t meant to be a tool to enrich the insured. Although insurance fraud by the policy issuer still occurs, the majority of cases have to do with the policyholder attempting to receive more money by exaggerating a claim. More sensational instances such as faking one’s own death or killing someone for the insurance money are comparatively rare.

With a lot of factors and guidelines to consider, you may never be completely safe from different insurance fraud (and any financial investment fraud for that matter!). Here are some early warning signs to help you spot a potential fraud:

Types of Seller Fraud

Seller Fraud involves those deals that providers make which exploits policy contracts, benefiting the seller while mainly harming the buyer. There are many variations of seller fraud, but they all center on these four basic types:

Ghost Companies

Ghost companies or ghost brokers are fraudsters who sell apparently cheap insurance deals but issue policies that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. In this scenario, policies are issued and premiums accepted from policyholders, but the company underwriting the policy isn’t legitimate and often doesn’t exist.

Put simply, ghost companies operate in two ways:

1.) Policies are bought from legitimate insurance companies using false information and then doctored before being sold to the unsuspecting client.

2.) Fake policy documents designed to look like they have been issued by legitimate insurance companies are created and sold to customers.

These downright illegal scams can easily be considered a type of boiler room operation, where a team of high-pressure scam artists dial likely victims to sell them false policies. The problem with this is (and unfortunate as it could get) that the fraud isn’t usually discovered until someone tries to file a claim on the policy that their family member thought was in effect.

Premium Theft

Premium theft is when the insurance representative takes the premium for a policy, but doesn’t use for its intended use, rendering the expected policy to be invalid. In essence, the agent simply takes the money for himself or herself.

Fortunately for most people, premium theft has become less of an issue as more companies have moved towards direct deposit models. Then again, premium theft is still possible in some cases especially when a deal provides for suspicious and highly-broken down payment policies.

Churning

Churning basically refers to a situation where the insurance representative strongly advises the customer to either cancel, renew and/or open new policies in a way that is beneficial to him or her, instead of beneficial to the client.

This type of insurance fraud often targets customers who are easily driven by the agent’s passion. As such, the agent gets a client to sign up for more policies, thus more premium. In turn, the fraudster gets larger commissions.

According to Money & Career Cheatsheet.com, “For conservative, long-term investors, it is considered general wisdom that buy and hold strategies are the best way to go. So, if you are receiving confirmations once or twice a week, or 10 or more times per month, this may be a warning sign that your broker is excessively trading your account.”

Over or Under Coverage

Similar to churning, over- or under-coverage scams happen when an insurance representative tries to convince customers to buy coverage they don’t need, or sells a lesser policy and represents it as a complete policy.

This type of fraud can easily happen in other business, and the best thing about it (for the scammers) is that it doesn’t look like a scam. However, you should understand that the insurance rep is essentially trying to maximize his commissions, as well as to ensure the sale rather than focusing on meeting the client’s needs.

Types of Buyer Fraud

Much like Seller Fraud, Buyer Fraud also comes in a number of ways, but the overall theme is buyer dishonesty, “allowing” the fraudster to prematurely the supposed benefits from the policy:

 

Post-Dated Life Insurance

Post-dated life insurance is a type of insurance fraud wherein a policy was created after supposedly insured’s death. The fraudster makes it as if the policy has been in effect well before the passing of the documented insured, thus, resulting to claim from the company.

This kind of scam is often carried out by delinquents with the help of a charismatic insurance agent. Since record-keeping nowadays have been more rigorous than before, post-dated life insurance fraud is fortunately easier to detect.

False Medical History

This one is by the textbook. Falsifying medical history is one of the most common types and essentially the easiest type of insurance fraud. By omitting tiny details, such as a medical condition or a smoking habit, the buyer hopes to get the insurance policy at a cheaper deal than he or she would have gotten otherwise.

Lack of Insurable Interest

Some people are willing to do passively but chaotically dark deeds just to make a better deal. It is true that there are buyers who insure people they shouldn’t be insuring, in hopes that they will die. This constitutes fraud.

Faking Death or Disability

Many life insurance policies have riders for disability, and this is a good opportunity for scammers to prematurely get the payout. However, some people take it a step further and fake their own deaths! In both cases, the fraudster has to deal with the possibility of being discovered through an investigation.

As the old saying goes, insurance is a business that is built on risk analysis and probabilities. This makes every instance of insurance fraud very detrimental to the enterprise, whether it is from the seller or the buyer. For this reason, companies are forced to build contingency funds to protect them against fraud and any other unforeseen events.

While security is good from the client investor’s perspective, personal life insurance premiums tend to be higher. At the end of the day, it all boils down to both parties being honest as well as both parties being vigilant in spotting dishonest activities.

 

3 Financial Tips for Business Starters

Starting up a new business presents a variety of challenges that not only extends to the physical and mental side of things but also to the financial facet of the professional endeavor. Business planning and market studies involve intricate methods that need a lot of mental fortitude. The truth is that establishing a start-up business requires ample amount of time and actual physical presence for any involved business owner in order to check if everything is going as planned.

business-plan

The bottom line is that one of the most important factors to check is whether the business’ finances actually balance out. Simply put, money and financial management eventually become the deciding factor if starting a business is feasible in the first place.

Start-up business owners and aspirants alike are having a hard time finding out solutions to the challenges of these hard economic times. This is the main reason why anyone who’s aspiring to be a success in the field of business should look to inform themselves about some important financial tips that can actually make a difference in their work. In this regard, these financial tips and tricks that for startup business owners can help guide the any entrepreneur find their footing in the business world:

Financial Management Starts Personally

One thing that stands out as a part of the basics for any successful business is that a business should minimize expenditures and maximize profits. Business owners do the best that they can to cut luxurious services or even redundant equipment in their establishments, while still producing at the optimum level.

Then again, being money-smart is not a one-time thing if a person really wants to be a significant player in the market. It should be part of a consistent attitude that roots from culturing one’s self to be financially wise. Thus, financial management starts personally.

Financial advisers would always tell their clients that there are a variety of ways on how to handle their finances. It should take into account both the present and future of one’s money management.

financial-management

This is where saving comes in. Saving is an important facet in everyone’s financial status. This is highly critical especially when financial problems arise or the business may not be going too well. In fact, these unfortunate circumstances serve as the perfect moment when saved money presents its best benefit.

An alternative method of saving is investing. Investing is an integral for any individual, especially for those who wants to make it big in the long run. As such, investing early is much more preferred since money does require time to grow.

But where does one invest?

Banking is the most common used approach for saving money, and is in fact a form of investing in itself. Over time, money saved in a bank account can accumulate interest. Similarly, investing money in the stocks market can also be an option for those who want to involve themselves in trading.

While everything mentioned above tackled gains, financial management also puts a highlight on considering future events like retirement. Being able to get an individual insured is one of the better things when it comes to finances. Getting an insurance policy which entitles a person financial protection or reimbursement against losses is imperative for a money-smart individual.

Taking this into consideration, insurance serves as an individual’s protection from the risks of financial losses, damages or liability from damages caused by a third party. Insurance companies can vary in wide arrays, but the most significantly popular ones involve health and protection. The truth is that rigorous medical examinations are involved in getting the actual policy, but smarter people opt to take advantage of no exam life insurance which is much simpler.

Whatever form of investment one opts to go for, at the end of the day, using money to earn more money is a good set-up for any business.

Breakeven is not Necessarily Bad

The ultimate goal of any business is to gain profits consistently. However, before any real gain happens in a business, the inevitability of losses should also be considered since business may not be flourishing every time.

Losses are particularly hard to take especially for starting businesses, since it might bring about professional discouragement. While there are various possibilities in business, there comes a point when everything just ends up leveling to zero –no gains, no losses. Simply put, breakeven.

The bigger question now presents itself – is breakeven bad? The answer is not necessarily so. The actual decision whether it is good or bad comes from the circumstance it is in. If breakeven points come at a time when the business incurred losses from the months before, then it might be a good thing. If a business is consistently breaking even from the start, then it may be time to rethink about the business model of one’s establishment. Breakeven is studied deeper in economics. This is called break-even analysis.

break-even-analysis

Break-even analysis is used to determine the point at which revenue received equals the costs associated with receiving the revenue. Break-even analysis calculates what is known as a margin of safety, the amount that revenues exceed the break-even point. This is the amount that revenues can fall while still staying above the break-even point.

Break-even analysis is a supply-side analysis; it only analyzes the costs of the sales. It does not analyze how demand may be affected at different price levels. The break-even point is the point at which gains equal losses. Reaching the break-even point is a business’s first step toward profitability.

Good Profits with Better Business Partners

Establishing a new business is not always a one-man team. Often times, it comes as a result of collaboration from business partners with the same goal: to gain higher profit. Business partnering is not new. However, as today’s business world becomes more uncertain and more volatile, the imperative for business partnering is greater than ever.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) defines business partnering as a finance professional who works alongside other business areas, supporting and advising their strategic and operational decision-making through insights that drive better business. The speed and quality of decision-making is becoming increasingly essential to a business’ success, and may actually be that competitive edge they need. New research with senior executives from around the world identified a common need for faster, better decision-making processes.

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Real business value is created through knowledge, intellectual property, collaboration and partnerships throughout the company. Now, more than ever, financial leadership has an opportunity to contribute tangibly to the success and future of the business. However, they can only do this successfully if they are effective business partners, which require a special set of both technical and behavioral skills: an understanding of the business and what is actually driving the numbers, as well as good people and leadership skills.

Before anything else, getting a good business partner should be done carefully and with proper thinking. Because partners join forces for a variety of reasons and expectations, sometimes, the strengths of each individual may be overlooked. The most obvious strengths are evidently recognized; however, underlying strengths, when effectively brought out, can often make a big difference in long term motivation, commitment and success.

Each person in the partnership has his own reasons for being in the business endeavor. Sometimes, people seek a partner for capital, expertise, and even connections. These are not always expressed, yet they remain as an underlying expectation. If the expectation isn’t met, the relationship can become strained.

Because each person’s expertise, motivation and personality are different, it’s important to have this discussion before anything is committed contractually.

Penny Power – How to Save Money without Pain

Saving money shouldn’t be too painful a task for you. You don’t need to be hungry, nor be that stingy friend who wouldn’t come to concerts or basketball games because you’re trying too hard to save every penny. The following are painless ways for you to save money that can lead you to your much deserved financial freedom.

Track your money

It’s usually in doing the little things that you can start to save up bigger and bigger as the days go by. There could be parts of your expenses that you may have overspent on, and you still would’ve enjoyed your life without it. The best way to know this, though, is by keeping track of your money.

recording-finances

Tracking your spending also forces you to look at your financial reality, and that’s not a bad thing. If you ask anyone older than you if they regret not getting a handle on their finances sooner, most would say yes. Take advantage of your younger years – start tracking your spending now to have more security and freedom later. Your future self might thank you.

The truth is that you have a finite amount of money to allocate to certain categories, as they are usually based on what you earn. Laying out your expenses compels you to prioritize where you want your money to go. Mindlessly spending on things isn’t going to get you where you need to go. You need a plan, and tracking your spending is one way to create that plan. If you want to accelerate saving or paying down debt, having a clear picture of your finances can also help you determine how you can accomplish both all at the same time.

Improve your credit score

A good credit score can save you thousands of dollars in interest on everything – from a home loan to a car loan, and from school loans to credit cards. When you apply for a credit card, mortgage or even a phone hook up, your credit rating is checked. Credit reporting makes it possible for stores to accept checks, for banks to issue credit or debit cards, and for corporations to manage their operations. Depending on your credit score, lenders can determine what risk you pose to them.

credit-score

According to financial theories, increased credit risk means that a risk premium must be added to the price at which money is borrowed. Basically, if you have a poor credit score, lenders may not shun you (unless it is utterly awful); instead, they would lend you money at a higher rate than the one paid by someone with a better credit score.

If you’ve never focused on your credit score before, the place to start is to get your free FICO score online. Once you know where you stand, you can begin to improve your score and lower your interest payments.

Refinance your mortgage

The results of improving your credit score can also affect other aspects of your finances, like with your mortgage. Some people opt for refinancing to get a new mortgage to replace their original mortgage, which ultimately aids in the improvement of their credit score.

saving-money

Refinancing is done to allow a borrower to obtain a better interest term and rate. The first loan is paid off, allowing the second loan to be created, instead of simply making a new mortgage and throwing out the original mortgage. For borrowers with a perfect credit history, refinancing can be a good way to convert a variable loan rate to a fixed, and obtain a lower interest rate. Then again, for borrowers with less than perfect, or even bad credit, or too much debt, refinancing can be risky.

One of the main advantages of refinancing, regardless of equity, is reducing an interest rate. Often, as people work through their careers and continue to make more money they are able to pay all their bills on time thus increase their credit score. With this increase in credit comes the ability to procure loans at lower rates, and therefore, many people refinance their mortgage aiming to get better rate. A lower interest rate can have a profound effect on monthly payments, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars a year.

If you can reduce your interest rate by one percent or more, it is often beneficial to refinance. By doing so while making payments on a mortgage, people are able to take out substantial home equity lines of credit as the difference between the appraised value of their home increases, and the balance owed on a mortgage decreases. This is particularly true for those with high rates due to less than stellar credit scores. If your score has improved, you may qualify for a better rate.

Start Cooking!

Another big source of spending splurge usually comes off of eating out in fancy restaurants, or trying to get by lunch through fast food. The thing is, no matter the situation, eating out is always more expensive than cooking for yourself. Plus, cooking your own food allows you to keep track of the nutrition (or lack thereof) of the food that you take in.

cooking-money

They say that the key to saving money with meals is to look for healthy foods that are versatile and nutritious. The long list includes: peanut butter, oatmeal, canned beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, eggs, almonds, apples, bananas, grapes, fresh or frozen spinach, carrots, kale, canned tomatoes, chicken breasts, broccoli, onions, garlic, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, nuts, tofu, and milk (almond, soy, rice or cow’s). Thankfully for you and for the rest of the world, many online guides are showing this trend of making cheap and easy meals under $5.

By the end of the day, you would find out that you won’t need to spend so much money just to eat good food.

Take the cheaper or the more valuable options all the time

Look at your constant expenses and see if you can lower their costs. For example, try looking at your internet connection and how much you really need: if you won’t need so much data allowance or so much speed, you can lower your monthly costs to an internet connection that would cater to your needs.

You can also consider getting rid of your home telephone. This is a great way to save money. Many don’t do it because of the 911 service, and that’s understandable. Other than that, with today’s technology, more often than not, there’s no reason to keep a landline. If you do, consider reducing your service to the minimum, and only use the phone in an emergency.

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Also, if you can choose appliances labelled as “energy-saver,” look long term and calculate if you can save more money if you replace your current appliances. Try to replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFLs) bulbs. These bulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer. They do take some getting used to, and they won’t work in every light fixture. However, using them where it makes sense can save energy and money.

Furthermore, do look at your variable expenses, especially your leisure ones. Even buying concert tickets or flight tickets can be lowered significantly if you know how to. For example, look for tips to save on tickets for the Clippers games online, and you would learn that you won’t actually need to spend hundreds of dollars if you just find the right timing to purchase one.

There’s so many ways that you can get the most value out of your money, you just need to know where to look for them.

The Financial Benefits of Online Learning

Students around the world are continuously seeking alternatives for traditional education, especially now that high tuition fees, shortage in terms of course availability and institutionalized budget cuts, among many other challenges, have been on the rise. The most famous and effective alternative for the past four years, however, has been online learning. As world-wide technology improves, the viability of full-time online learning has become more established month after month.

learning-online

With more than three million students currently enrolled in fully online degree programs, and six million others who are taking at least one online course as part of their degree program, online education has clearly become one of the most popular higher education alternatives. The continually improving reputation of online learning has also helped fuel its expansion, as initial skepticism has faltered in the face of overwhelming evidence that shows how online learning can be just as effective as face-to-face education.

The benefits of enrolling in online courses and programs span not only from the elimination of traveling; it also involves the availability of more programs and courses, higher levels of academic productivity, and significantly lower financial requirements imposed on students. Below are eight benefits of enrolling in online courses that can make anyone consider taking up this alternative learning method:

Variety of programs and courses

Before, online courses have been limited to arts and creative writing, such as Multimedia Studies, Multimedia Arts, Literature and other arts disciplines. Nowadays, the plethora of available programs and courses has grown exponentially. Furthermore, because of the viability of online courses, the availability of these programs has increased – now, anyone can be enlisted in their choice of university/college with their preferred course without the fear of classes being “full”.

From traditional four-year-university programs to completely online vocational workshops, higher education today offers a variety of options for students. This means that no matter what students wish to study, from Nursing and Neuroscience to Education and Environmental Science, they can find the courses or degree programs they need online. They can also earn every academic degree virtually – all the way from a career certificate to a doctorate.

Reducing the Total Cost of Studying

Online programs can be a more affordable option than traditional colleges, because of the amount of money that can be saved simply by not physically being in a school. Though not all online degrees have less expensive net tuition prices than traditional colleges, associated costs are almost always less expensive.

online-learning

For one, there are no commuting costs. A student can save $40 to $60 (sometimes even more) every month just because they don’t need to take the bus, a cab or even their cars when going to school. Renting out a dormitory is out of the question, and that’s a lot of savings for a student. Furthermore, there are much less required course materials such as textbooks or handouts because their digital alternative is often available for free online.

Eliminating Commuting

Aside from the amount of money that students can save by eliminating the requirement of commuting, there are also safety issues that can be solved through online learning. Students can be safe from natural disasters, road accidents, or even rogue attacks from pick-pockets (though that’s not exactly likely) through in-house schooling.

During snowstorms and thunderstorms, colleges may cancel classes; if they don’t, you run the risk of getting hurt in dangerous driving conditions. Rather than miss important class sessions, students in online courses can always “attend” by participating on discussion boards or in chat sessions, turn in their work on time, and watch lectures or read materials. Not having to commute from home to the college poses a lot of benefits for all types of students.

More comfortable learning environment:

Studies have shown that students with the most comfortable learning environment learn the most – that is, depending on how the students perceive comfort. Some students prefer studying in their pajamas. There are students who prefer studying in cooler environments, while some prefer room temperature. Sometimes, campus seats aren’t the most comfortable ones, too! The truth of the matter is that enrolling in online courses allow students to choose (or make) their own comfortable learning environment.

learning-at-home

At the end of the day, there is one underlying benefit of being enrolled in online courses: there are no physical class sessions. Lectures and other materials are electronically sent to the students who can then complete assignments in the comfort of their own den. Students do not have to endure the stresses of going through heavy traffic, finding parking spaces, leaving work early to get to class on time, or missing out on other important engagements as opportunity costs.

Plus, online course students can also take a power nap whenever they want to without having to deal with the banter of professors. Their learning environment is of their own making, and they can customize it to the fullest to achieve the best learning environment.

Aside from comfort, students can also make their learning more effective by having access to tools or supplements that aren’t generally allowed during class. For example, students can enjoy munching on brain food such as nuts while listening to a lecture or taking an examination.

Convenience and flexibility:

Online courses give students the opportunity to plan their study time around the rest of their day, instead of the other way around. Students can study and work when they are at their peak energy, whether that’s early morning or late at night. If a student is an innate night owl, they can easily adjust their schedule to effectively attend to their class requirements.

studying-on-home-desk

Also, course materials are always accessible online, so there’s no need to schedule special trips to the library. The best part is that should a student miss a lecture (because of an emergency or a medical issue), he or she can view the materials any other time of the day. Furthermore, students have the chance to use the resources from available applications like that from Team Treehouse or Khan Academy as the need arises. All of these makes online learning a good option for students who need to balance their work, family time or any other commitments.

More Ways for Students to Concentrate:

Online courses offer students facing challenges in terms of socializing (such as innately shy ones and socially anxious ones) the opportunity to participate in class discussions or chats with more ease than face-to-face class sessions.

Online courses help introverts or students with social anxiety cope better in terms of learning. They won’t need to talk more, to be forced in recitations, to put themselves in embarrassing situations, or be hindered from learning just because they simply can’t socialize as well as others.

Career advancement:

With the technology right now, students can take online courses and even complete entire degrees while working, while in-between jobs, or while taking time to raise a family.

woman-working-at-home

This academic work can explain any discontinuity or gaps in a resume as well. Also, earning a degree can show prospective employers that the student is an ambitious and driven individual, and would want to remain informed and prepared for any new challenges.

Improve other skills like technical skills:

Even the most basic online course requires the development of new computer skills. As students learn to navigate different learning management systems and programs online, they acquire basic skills pertinent to their future profession.

The skills students learn while participating in their online courses translate to actual profession job skill set, including creating and sharing documents, incorporating audio/video materials into assignments, completing online training sessions, among other functions. These are tasks that students, however they completed their education, need to know while working in the workplace anyway.