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Financial coaching: Is it necessary?

Let’s face it, school prepares us for everything but the real world which is bogged down with taxes, repayments, loans and other financial baggage. College gives us a taste of it by forcing us to pay bills, rent and fees. However, unless you are a student in finance, financial management might not come easily to you. Some people run themselves into debt the moment they leave college because they simply do not understand the concept of money and how to make it work for you. 

Turn debts into profits

It might sound like a bit of a stretch, but if one lady can manage to dig her way out of debt after being laid off, it goes to show that everyone can. Whether through the help of online loans with no credit check and instant approval to set up a new business or to help you out of a bit of a tight financial spot or simply by offering your skills up for hire, there are definitely ways that one can find a way out of debt and begin creating revenue.

How a financial coach can help 

Some might wonder how is it practical to hire someone to help them out of a financial crisis, while they are in a financial crisis – wouldn’t it be much wiser to use whatever money one has to pay off their debts rather than to run up a bill with a financial coach? The matter of perspective is important here: a financial coach will be able to teach you how to avoid such circumstances in the future and how to get out of the current situation. It is a worthy investment, especially if one is completely clueless in terms of financial management. 

One financial coach defined what she does as, “changing behaviors around money and helping a client see where they can reduce spending to create more savings, or helping them get out of debt or understanding their emotions around money, which may have created obstacles to good financial management.”

What is emotional spending

Everyone has heard the concept of how shopping makes one feel better – when you’re having a bad day or just feeling down in the dumps, retail therapy has been proven to lift spirits and boost one’s mood. Apparently, it ties in with wishful thinking: people purchase items that they foresee they will use in their future. As PsycologyToday puts it, “As people shop, they’re naturally visualizing how they’ll use the products they’re considering, and in doing so, they’re also visualizing their new life.” What this does is it motivates the individual into chasing their new life instead of allowing their current circumstances to stand in the way. However, this behavior can also be damaging when the shopper spends more than they can afford and purchase things which will only bring them deeper debt. 

Therefore, it is crucial to be responsible with one’s finances and if you are finding it hard to control your shopping urges or do not know how to manage your salary, it is definitely helpful to turn to someone who is successful in your life – a brother, aunt or parent – to help you better manage your finances or if you are unable to find such a person, it is time to turn to a financial coach. 

Understanding credit scores below the surface

The finance industry is one that is paved with good intentions and some little tricks under the surface. This is one of the most intricate and deep-rooted industries in the world, and so it should come as little surprise that many people struggle to understand the depths of it. Consider the understanding of credit scores and all they encompass, for example. Credit sores are so important, if for no other reason than because they determine how you can (and if you can) get assistance for contracts, bills, and loans (among other financial backings and innovators).

Perhaps surprisingly, most people do not know much about credit scores, other than knowing what credit score range means (if that). In fact, throughout the United States, there is a surprisingly high percentage of the population that know the bare minimum (if that) about the depths of credit scores. So, what are those depths? What are the important fundamentals of managing and preserving your credit score?

Always pay your bills on time

A monumental 35% of your credit score hinges on your payment history. Late payments stay on your credit report for up to seven years, and the impact of that negative mark against your name can be devastating. It should not even be a consideration to pay your bills late if you can avoid it, but it is still one of the most disarming errors that people continue to make. Even a seemingly small bill, like your mobile phone plan, puts a dint in your credit score if it goes unpaid. So, always pay your bills on time. Stay on top of your finances. Your credit score will thank you, and so will the future you.

Stay on top of your credit utilization

This is the most important core aspect of maintaining and preserving your credit score, after your payment history. Credit reporting agencies do not store your income information; instead, they use something called ‘credit utilisation’ in place of a typical debt-to-income ratio. Your credit utilisation represents 30% of your overall credit score, and is the amount of debt outstanding on your revolving credit sources (think credit cards, home equity lines). Your utilisation means more than you think it does, so pay close attention to it.

Check your credit reports frequently

This might seem obvious, but it might surprise you how often people do not prioritise keeping on top of their credit reports. Making sure that your credit reports are accurate is an important defining factor of your credit score, because if there is even the slightest of errors, leaving it unchecked can prove to have dire consequences. Sometimes data is entered incorrectly, or someone takes hold of your credit card by stealing it (or any other manner of errors, for that matter), and the result can be that your credit score suffers. So, check your reports frequently and always bring inaccuracies to the attention of the appropriate parties. Your credit score should not suffer because of something that is not your fault, but unless you actively and consistently check your credit reports, you unfortunately cannot always prevent it from happening. 

The relationship between AI and insurance

We are no strangers to technological absolution and further and ongoing digitalisation. The modern world that we currently thrive and live in is more technologically profound than ever. We have never seen the likes of this type of global innovation, and it is true that we may not see it ever again. This drastic jump in species’ advancement and further innovation has been our doing, and we are now standing on the verge of a new world that is not just peppered with technological advancement and rapid digitalisation, but effectively immersed in it.

Every industry that survives and thrives today has found itself yielding to technological influence, in one way or another. It is the way of the modern world that it must entirely shift and realign, always striving to meet new heights and carve new impressions as it moves along. One of those unexpected yet inevitable technologically-charged innovations is the budding relationship between AI (artificial intelligence) and the worldwide insurance sector.

The melding of artificial intelligence technology and the insurance industry

It is true that AI is disruptive in all the best ways, but it is also true that it has taken some time for us to perfect our approach with it all. Modern consumers expect that the ways they interact with the world around them are going to be intrinsically linked with technological prowess, because they have become so used to it, so quickly. This is precisely what has happened, what continues to happen even now. In the insurance industry, AI has disrupted to essentially create a more convenient and wholly accessible future for the industry, and all who use it (either regularly or sporadically).

Why AI is such a fundamentally positive disruption to insurance

AI is designed to work smarter, so that we do not have to. And so, it is. AI in the insurance industry is aimed at giving customers a smoother transition through the processes and systems that come along with organising and maintaining insurance claims, policies, and procedure turnovers. And it is working its magic on the industry from the inside out, too, by automating and taking control of tedious processes, henceforth freeing up more energy and time for those who work in the industry to focus on the more personally-driven aspects of their jobs and the industry itself.

Where we can expect the relationship between the two to bloom next

It does not necessarily matter if one is considering the home insurance rates Ontario, or the insurance plans available in Australia, or even if it is the automation through AI of system processes and outtakes, the point is always the same – especially now. AI has been slowly but surely disrupting industries and innovations around the world for quite some time now, and insurance is its latest and greatest claim to date. This is not new news. What is expected to happen, however, is that AI will just continue to grow, always shifting into its next iteration with relative ease. 

Why coding is becoming such a coveted career in the digital era

It is no secret that we are diving deeper and further into the digital era with every new day. These days, technological advancement and rapid digitalisation are as common as the air we breathe. We have become so comfortable, familiar, and even reliant on these modern innovations. Every facet of modern life, from the way we interact with one another and animals and experience the world around us, to the way we learn and work, has been fundamentally changed from the inside out.

Consider the way we work, for example. Careers in computer science, coding, IT, and programming are becoming more popular choices all the time. It is obvious that this is because we are all pining for a world where technological absolution rules, but it is about so much more than that. Essentially, the lure of careers in these technologically-driven fields is all about being able to do something important, rather than doing something for the sake of it. So, if a career in coding and the like is so important today, why is that?

The advantage of having a digital skillset

Here’s the thing. Individuals with careers in fields like coding and programming today have a distinct advantage over their competitors. When going for jobs these days, even if there is no strict coding and programming involved, there is something to be said about having a skillset that gives you an edge. Employers today look for candidates who have a skillset that sets them apart from the rest, and could potentially make them better at their job, and able to help elsewhere in the company if the opportunity arises. Whether that skillset is a degree in information technology, or expertise in big data engineering, or any other manner of tech-savvy qualifications, the point remains the same: a tech skillset is a direct advantage.

The benefit of having a high-paying, high-impact career

The students of today who are studying degrees in coding and the like, are the very same individuals who will likely go on to become the leading minds in some of the most important careers in the world. because of the exceedingly important impact that careers in areas like coding are having on the world, they are in high demand, and they pay exceptionally well. Students who have the passion, skills, and the determined mindset to excel in a career field like this are drawn to it because of its income bracket, its challenging nature, and its ability to make them not only better at their jobs, but more skilled in life in general.

The allure of contributing to the future of the world

Careers in coding, computer science, information technology, and programming are some of the most instrumental pillars of the future of the world. As we become more digitally inclined, the world has more need for individuals who can contribute to the most important parts of modern society. Coding and programming are important because the more digitally inclined we become, the more coding and programming become an instrumental part of modern society. With digitalisation comes the coding and programming that spurs it onward.

The legal changes to bring autonomous vehicles to global roads

The laws surrounding the global shift towards autonomous vehicles and if they should be legally allowed to operate on global roads have always been complicated. In the relatively short time that these types of laws have gone into their draft stages, the world of autonomous vehicles has experienced leaps and bounds in terms of progression – and not all those leaps and bounds have been overly positive. The rise of autonomous vehicles has brought with it much excitement and controversy, and it is important to take a step back and consider this issue from all angles.

First, it is important to note that autonomous vehicles are, as of yet, not a reality. Currently what we are working with are semi-autonomous vehicles. These are cars that can detect movement around them and take some of the driver’s responsibilities from their hands. Think reverse parking or sensor detection (i.e. vehicles that have light detections on side mirrors to let drivers know when it is safe to merge into the next lane over, or vehicles that detect the sides of the road and stop the vehicle from veering into them). But what is the single largest issue with the laws surrounding semi-autonomous vehicles, and what do they mean for the future of autonomous vehicles on the world’s roads?

The current issues with semi-autonomous vehicles

The legal implications currently surrounding on-road incidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles have everything to do with the problematic history of such vehicles in their introductory stages. In as little as two to three years, there have been up to five fatalities involving semi-autonomous vehicles around the world. While of course a period of trial and error is to be expected with any form of technology, there is something to be said about the harrowing impact that “trial and error” have when it comes to something as life-changing as autonomous vehicles being brought to the market, and to the roads around the world.

Why the law changes are so extraordinarily important

In addition to the standard or extraordinary legal implications of injuries or fatalities involving autonomous vehicles, comes the inevitable hiring of injury lawyers from law firms like Olympia Injury Lawyers. The issue of morality and legal accountability is one that is still pulled into question daily; in the case of a semi-autonomous vehicle striking and injuring or killing a person, is the individual behind the wheel responsible, since the vehicle was operating without the individual in the front seat physically controlling it? This is exactly it. The core underlying issue that speaks volumes of why specific laws surrounding road incidents involving semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, is so crucial.

The legal move for change continues to rage on

It is no secret that the laws surrounding this particular issue (and so many others, for that matter) are currently undergoing a massive remodelling. Road incidents involving semi-autonomous vehicles and the like are more complex in nature than those that involve standard vehicles, because of the role that tech plays in controlling and driving the vehicle. This is a global movement that is raging on everywhere, and that will continue to do so until a core agreement has been reached on how to handle such road incidents going into the future.

Growing digital nomad population signals new frontier for travel

For the longest time, there has been the widespread, and frankly incorrect, notion that travel was something that the clear majority of people could only afford in between working. For decades, people have been playing this insane but understandable game of ping pong, bouncing between working to go on holiday, and going on holiday to escape work. For a long time, many people genuinely believed that this was their only option if they wanted to travel. However, in recent years all that is changing. That misconception is being blown apart, as more and more individuals join the ever-expanding global remote workforce.

The allure of travelling never dies

Travelling is something that we all (well, most of us, anyway) love to do. There is something undeniably exhilarating about getting on a plane, or a train, or a bus, or even into a car or onto a bike, and taking off to explore the big, wide world. That sense of pure exhilaration is only intensified when you arrive in your destination, surrounded by a whole new experience, and excited to take it all in. The best part about travelling is that it awakens the adventurous wild one in us, and it makes us want to work harder so that we can have more of it. We want it all, and travelling reminds us of why we want it all so badly.

The rise of a workforce that allows the best of both worlds

Gone are the days where people had to work for their vacations, and take time off work to enjoy said vacations. While there is nothing wrong with that, this is no longer the only option – and it is quickly becoming the less popular option, at that. Remote work allows you to travel the world and work simultaneously, successfully bridging the gap and quite literally having it all, without having to sacrifice one for the other in an ongoing see-saw activity spiral. Working remotely gives you direct control over how you work and where you work, and all you need is a reliable device, your device charger, a back-up system, and a steady internet connection.

Remote work is the future workforce for the adventurous

If there is one thing that remote work has taught the world thus far, it is that this is without a doubt the future workforce for the adventurous at heart. Sure, remote work technically is branching out to become exactly that right now, but the iteration has not yet come full circle. Soon enough, the remote workforce will welcome career-driven individuals from all different backgrounds, with all different qualifications and skill sets, and all different professional goals. Whether you want to be the owner of a walking tours agency, travelling the world to expand your brand and your business model, or a writer that works for themselves, anywhere in the world, or any other manner of career pathways, the remote workforce is for you.

Could Bringing Back the HECM Saver Save the Reverse Mortgage Industry?

Seniors looking to obtain a reverse mortgage have a few different products available to help them withdraw equity from their home.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Standard and the HECM Saver.

Both products require borrowers to be at least 62 years old to qualify and provide consumers access to their home equity in the form of a lump sum, term or tenure payments, a line of credit, or a combination of the options.

While they’re very similar, there are some important differences potential borrowers need to consider.

HECM

The HECM was released in 1989 and comprises most reverse mortgages, according to data from HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The product sets itself apart by allowing borrowers to withdraw a significant amount of equity from their homes. To access such a large amount of equity, borrowers are required to pay higher insurance premiums to the government, which insures the loan.

To obtain a HECM Standard, borrowers must pay an initial 2% insurance premium of the maximum claim amount and an annual insurance premium of .50%.

HECM Saver

The HECM Saver was released in 2010 by the FHA to provide seniors a low-cost way of accessing the equity in their home.

While the product is still relatively new, the number of consumers choosing the HECM Saver is increasing.

Borrowers who take out a HECM Saver are required to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium of .01% of the maximum claim amount and an annual insurance premium of 1.25%. As a result of paying less in fees, borrowers also receive less money than they would from the HECM Standard.

Earlier this year, the HECM Saver received praise from the financial planning community as a great tool to help seniors be more prepared for retirement.

“[Taking out a reverse mortgage] is going to result in a better scenario,” said John Salter, Texas Tech professor and wealth manager for Evensky & Katz Wealth Management when discussing older Americans’ retirement. “This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. If you can tap into the value of a home, you’re going to be better off.”

HECM Standard vs. HECM Standard

Both reverse mortgage products provide seniors a safe and secure way of accessing their home equity, but one might make more sense than the other.

The table below compares the products, fees and proceeds and how they differ. The information is based on a 72-year-old borrower who has no mortgage balance on a home valued at $300,000.

Product Rate Initial Insurance Fee Net Principal Limit
HECM Fixed Standard 4.00% $6,000 $195,817
HECM Fixed Saver 4.50% $30 $150,300
HEMC Standard Adjustable 2.74% $6,000 $192,817
HECM Saver Adjustable 2.99% $30 $159,587

Principle Limited Calculated using ARLO™ calculator

While the HECM Saver might have a higher rate, the amount of fees is significantly lower than for the HECM Standard. Since borrowers are paying less in fees, the product also provides less in proceeds than the regular HECM.

But if you’re using a reverse mortgage to eliminate monthly payments, a HECM Standard might be a great choice.

Fixed Rate Options

The Adjustable Rate Standard Program will also still be available for borrowers who need the full draw, as well as the Saver Program for the adjustable rate loans. Borrowers who are purchasing using a reverse mortgage can still do so with the Adjustable Rate program and the full draw on the Standard Program but those who want only a fixed rate after March 29th will have to bring in the extra cash to close and use the Fixed Rate Saver Program. This may affect how much house some borrowers can afford if their down payment funds are limited so the adjustable rate loan may be their best option.

At any rate, the Fixed Rate program is a relatively new loan as it was not even available for more than just the last few years. Borrowers have been closing adjustable rate reverse mortgage loans for over 25 years. Those borrowers who really want the Fixed Rate Standard Program need to know the deadline as there is no way to know if HUD will ever bring the program back or not (and what the rates would be at that time if they did). But those who are not able to close on this program should know that borrowers have been successfully closing on the adjustable rate product for some time now and while the fixed rate may have been their first choice, they do have other viable options.

Home décor industry trends

From technology that allows people to bathe in colors to minimalist furniture with rustic energy, there have been many changes in the trends of the home décor industry. While the discussion on the decrease of people interested in home ownership continues, it is evident that those who do own a home want it to look magnificent. The home décor trends have seen major changes in the past few years especially with the rise of technology in the home design industry providing even more options to consumers. For example, rather than buying simple curtains, people can now choose to use smart blinds in their homes that are not only convenient, but a great way to save energy. Additionally, millennials have also acquired different tastes in how they want their homes to look. This is clear through the rise of minimalist home décor which has currently become one of the biggest trends in the industry. The options of designing homes are not only affordable and convenient in today’s world, but also make ones home look like it is straight out of a magazine page. Either way, all these new innovations and interests in the industry allow one to choose the best design to create a comfortable and fulfilling living space.

Technology has disrupted almost every industry, including that of home décor and design. Technological trends in home décor are not just purchasing smart home gadgets, but also using technology as a means to figure out how to decorate one’s home in the first place. For example, several apps, including some with virtual technology, allow one to take pictures of their living space and use a device to fill it with different furniture and décor. Additionally, smart home technology is an ever growing trend of home décor especially as more companies focus on creating technological products with added style. For example, people can now purchase smart speakers, or smart trashcans, or integrate thermostats into one’s home to create the best living environment. Home technology can also be beneficial as it can serve many different purposes with less equipment, enhancing one of the other rising trends in home décor, minimalism. With shows such as Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, more and more individuals are creating minimalist homes. Moreover, the minimalist approach is used increasingly by millennials who are constantly traveling and hence do not require a lot of home décor in the first place. A lot of companies are using this trend and creating more options for homeowners in the minimalist space. For example, providing multi-use furniture to reduce space and increase affordability in the purchase of home décor.

Overall, many trends are changing the home décor industry, creating a wider range of cost-effective products with added convenience. Home décor today is also highly influenced by social media as more people choose to share images of their living space online, inspiring others to create similar living spaces. The home décor industry is constantly growing, as can be seen by the various companies starting to invest time and effort into it. It is interesting to see the manner in which the trends will continue to change and create new options for one to choose from to create the decorated and designed home of one’s dreams.

4 New Technologies That Will Disrupt the Legal Industry

Law is one of the world’s oldest and most well-respected professions. Its legacy extends back hundreds of years and due to the enormous amount of education, work, and dedication required to become an effective practitioner, a position at a tried-and-tested legal firm is one of modern society’s most stereotypical status symbols. But new technologies are coming – or have come already – that aim to change the world, and the legal industry will be forced to adapt. The conversation about the changes underway in the world of law is already underway, but some technologies look to be more significant than others.

Self-driving cars

Inevitably, the first industry on people’s lips when self-driving cars come up is transportation. Full-time truck drivers and package and post delivery drivers are alleged to be particularly vulnerable, but somewhat less frequently mentioned is how automated cars will affect the way traffic violations and accidents are litigated. Car accidents are a major subset of personal injury law, a broad canopy under which many lawyers make a living. It’s tempting to think that without drivers to hold accountable, there can be no lawsuits or paychecks, but that’s not necessarily true, although the landscape will change. Forward-thinking firms like Seattle’s Davis Law Group are optimistic about their ability to help their clients navigate an unfamiliar landscape, where many of the defendants will likely be larger tech companies.

DNA databases

The use of genetics in the legal system is a relatively new phenomenon; even the forensic science of fingerprinting is surprisingly recent. Non-profit groups like the Innocence Project make headlines by lobbying for the application of new DNA evidence to exonerate criminals believed to have been wrongly convicted. But the newest development is a sort of Facebook of genetic data, a growing collection of information submitted by people for ancestry tests and entertainment value that police are now accessing in order to try and incriminate family members who may be suspects in a criminal investigation.

Automation

Automation won’t replace lawyers, but it will replace a lot of the work that they – and especially paralegals and assistants – do on a regular basis. Two things are likely: First, the adoption of software that automates the more menial and mechanical aspects of legal work will become necessary for success in a competitive marketplace, and it will significantly change how legal professionals bill their hours and what kind of work they focus on. Second, the firms that truly excel will be the ones who use advanced technology creatively, to help predict odds in trial cases and parse relevant case information.

Home Assistants and the internet of things

This is a technology that’s already here, but as the biggest technology companies engage in mortal combat for custody of our personal data, the portable and in-home devices they use to collect it will become a new variable lawyers will have to contend with as they work to protect their clients’ confidentiality and manage control over their cases. The possibility that the unassuming little robot might suddenly decide to send privileged conversations to randomly-selected third parties is an unfortunate reality that tomorrow’s attorneys will have to deal with.

The global finance industry goes digital

It is no secret that the world we live in is positively shrouded in feats of technological advancement and incredible digital impact. We have quite literally created the world that we exist in, and we have done so with both brilliant clarity and a knack for understanding that lessons will be learned, and challenges will be overcome – even if they take time. No matter what, at the forefront of it all are technologies and digital innovations. And many of these innovations have arrived on the scene hand in hand with their learning curves, many of which erupt into cases of trial and error if they are not navigated carefully. Practically every industry today has had its fair share of challenges and exciting navigations, and they have all – for the most part – emerged out the other side being better and stronger for it all. The finance industry, for example, is currently embracing digitalisation in multiple ways, and it is already proving itself to be an exceptionally brighter sector because of it.

The modern consumer lives in a world that is positively immersed in and surrounded by technological innovation and rapid digitalisation. As such, they have come to expect these traits to be present in all aspects of their lives. From life at home to their financial holdings (and everything in between and surrounding), digitalisation is finding its ways to disrupt even the unlikeliest of sectors. In terms of the finance industry, the everyday experience is being taking online by the introduction of apps and websites, as well as instantaneous global transactions and even cardless cash or phone-handled payments. Even tax season is becoming easier, with some individuals even being able to do their entire return online in under an hour (some people even complete it in under thirty minutes). These are all seemingly small, but together they mark the beginning of an all-new revolution in finance. And it doesn’t stop with the everyday experience with the finance industry, either.

Let us first consider the average consumer’s experience with insurance companies, for example. Insurance companies have historically been notorious for being confusing, time-consuming, daunting, and frustrating, all at once. Now, companies are coming into active effect to bridge the gap and take the pressure of individuals wanting to look into insurance-related inquiries and concerns. Companies like Informeo are literally designed to help you get a handle on your insurance, to help you live a more financially responsible life. And now, thanks to rapid digitalisation in vivid motion, these companies are expanding their reaches exponentially via their websites. The power in digital marvels like the worldwide web is that they present an opportunity for companies and even entire industries to have a global stage for exposure, rather than a mostly (if not solely) local platform. And then there is blockchain as well.

Blockchain is essentially an encrypted virtual network of highways that allow for secure and private transference and storage of information. Initially designed in correlation with the release of cryptocurrencies, blockchain is now used in the financial industry for everything from immediate transfers, the sending and receiving of important financial documentation, and more. Because of the encrypted nature of blockchain, it makes it more difficult than ever- if not seemingly impossible – to hack or change any information being sent, as well as the direction it is being sent to and from. This is an incredible digital innovation that has changed the finance industry from the inside out, and for the better. And it is only just getting started. The finance industry is not without its lessons, but currently it seems to be filled with more exciting innovations than lessons, and that is something to celebrate.

The world we live in is one of our own design. Immersed in waves of our explorations and further advancements of technologies and digital innovations, we are the drivers of this new era we find ourselves living in, the reason it exists at all. Practically every industry has gone through its fair share of innovations and respective challenges because of the nature of this new modern world, and the finance industry is no different. Currently, the finance sector is going through one of its greatest evolutions in history: the rise to meet the digital. Widespread and rapidly paced digitalisation is the aim of the game these days, and the finance world is rising to meet the challenge, and even to exceed it. Digitising an entire industry is no easy feat. In the case of this, the finance industry, it is a process that has been ongoing for months, and is still even now. Taking facets of the financial industry online has taken time and practice, and for now it is a process that continues. The future for finance is brighter than ever – and digitalisation is to thank.