Saving, investing and making money with technology

Category: Money

The Best Financial Moves to Make to Help Improve Your Finances

You know, It’s understandable if you gotten off course financially during the last couple months of the year. But, if you don’t want bad money habits to follow you into the New Year. If your finances have slipped, it’s time to get back on track and devise a plan to tackle your debt efficiently and effectively. Take a step back and evaluate your finances, so you can become more successful. You really need financial experts to help you to get your finances back on track.

Chase Rubin has served the financial industry for more than twenty years. And he is currently sharing his knowledge and expertise regarding the investment industry to inform the general public. There is no doubt Chase Rubin is currently one of the most successful private investors. He moved to New York to further his career in finances and investments and works and lives in the East Village. The expertise he gained as the result of the economic crash of 2008 has prepared him for whatever the market brings in the future.

Here are some tips that can help you refresh your finances and stay motivated.

You Should Review Your finances

Take a look at your overall finances and consider setting both short-term and long-term goals. Confused about where to start? You may want to begin by obtaining a free copy of your credit report at Credit.com. Through Credit.com, you can request reports from all three of the major nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Since you might have been using your credit cards often during your holiday shopping, be sure to check your credit report for any irregularities. Fraud and identity theft skyrocket during the holiday season. While you are checking your credit report, you also might want to check your credit score. If you are using more than 30% of your credit cards, you may see a slight drop in your score in the post-holiday season. While credit scores can fluctuate slightly from time to time, it’s important to recognize when a deep drop occurs so you can find the problem and resolve it as soon as possible.

And Also Set Goals and Make a Plan

We all know if you set goals it will give us something to look forward to and work toward. Make a list of all the financial goals you plan to achieve in the next 12 months or so. Establish a payment strategy that works best to tackle not only your post-holiday debt, but also your overall debt. Consider making a list of all of your debts (secure and unsecure) and devise a plan on how to get them down.

And also, ask yourself what your short-term and long-term goals are. Because you might be looking to save up for a wedding, for retirement planning, or for your student loans. When it comes to loans, consider paying more than the minimum and making payments twice each month to help tackle your debt more efficiently. If you think you won’t be able to tackle all of your debt at once, focus on the highest-interest rate debt first before you work on the rest.

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How Artificial Intelligence is shaping the e-learning scenario in India?

 

Machines direct Artificial Intelligence, and it can be regarded as any study by intelligent agents or device. It functions depending on what it receives from its surroundings and this way it maximizes the chance of giving the best results. With the advancement of technology, e-learning is helped dramatically. The way individual look at education has changed rapidly with the influence of technology including artificial intelligence. Ways to access education through the help of technology has become efficient, and students are able to learn strategically and evaluate well than before. In addition to this, students are able to analyze their own pace of learning. There is little difference between robotics and artificial intelligence and the latter has evolved in every sphere of human lives. It is also used in computer games such as chess master. It is capable of making decisions quickly than human.

By the help of simple searches, students are able to explore the variety of new study material present. It might not be possible for an instructor to remember everything present in a material whereas a machine can do it. In cases of bank exams, there are many aspects that need to be learnt by a candidate. In SBI PO, the officer will be taught to work on various categories like finance, accounting, marketing, billing and investing which might take years for some people to master, but a machine can teach you what you want at your own pace. E-learning may be common to most of the teachers, but they may not be aware of artificial intelligence. With the combination of both e-learning and artificial intelligence, it has made easier both for the teachers and the students to grasp a better insight into the learning of various topics. Other than students, teachers also get the chance of exploring every topic in depth and acquire the knowledge for solving any question.

How artificial intelligence helped human beings?

Artificial Intelligence has an immense contribution to human life, and within the couple years, it is going to influence every sphere of human life starting from communication, travel, to online shopping. It helps to give personalized results to the teachers when they are engaged in any classroom program. In any class, there are remedial students, advanced students, meritorious ones and there are different needs for each of them. What AI or Artificial Intelligence does is that adopt every student’s learning method and work according to the needs analyzing both the strength and the weakness of the students.

How AI analyzes students?

Similar to that of human tutors, AI takes in account the capabilities of the student and tries to deliver the result according to the need of the student. It also tries to know about the learning style of the student and give it customized instruction and support pertaining to the subject of need. Previously, the tutors or the teachers were held responsible for any wrong information that they might have conveyed to the students. But according to the present scenario, for any wrong information that the students have incorporated, the Artificial Intelligence cannot be held responsible for the same. The students should be careful while using the AI for fetching different information.

As the AI analyses the performance of students in the examination or assessments, it is able to judge the condition and the confidence level of the student and identifies well the gap in the course content. Therefore, it provides the required gap based on the performance of the student. In case of any incorrectly answered question, the AI marks those question as zero such that educator is able to understand about the level of preparation of the students. The educator shall further focus on the area of improvement that should be provided to the students.

Get meaningful feedbacks via AI

With the aid of AI, students also get the opportunity to get meaningful feedback pertaining to their performance. They might be uncomfortable with receiving any kind of feedback in the public forum, and thus AI is helpful. In addition to this, the AI also helps in grading when is considered to be one of the tiresome tasks. With the usefulness of technology, AI can easily analyze an examination via the answer key provided. They quickly combine the data and results in the performance level of the students.

Eliminating communication and language barrier

Again, with the involvement of Artificial Intelligence, communication has also become advanced as students can expect ready feedback to any of their queries that they post doubt questions on any forum. They can also find out the query with the help of text messaging, and this shall help the learners to prepare themselves for all kind of competencies. If they wish to get relevant information on any particular topic, then they can easily take the help of AI to get ready resources.

The language barrier that takes place between the teacher and the student is also taken care by AI in which the AI understands various languages and has the ability to comprehend the same. Further, it gives outcomes such that the result is understandable by the students well. The interface is capable of understanding various language, noise, and change in the human voice. The interface is also greatly useful in the distance learning procedure. But, the cost of the same might vary.

Bhola Meena has founded 3 major Internet-based companies-GetMeCab, HinKhoj, and OnlineTyari. His latest venture OnlineTyari helps over a million students every month in their government exam preparations. He has 7 years experience as Tech Lead at Microsoft and he is an IIT-Kanpur Alumni.

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Better Team Relationships Improve Productivity and Finances for Small Businesses

Major corporations may have the deep pockets to help their brands succeed, but small businesses have something up their sleeves as well – happier employees. Studies have proven that people who work for small companies are a lot happier than those who don’t. As an entrepreneur should know, having a team of talented, engaged, productive, and happy group of people, with a professional business plan working for you is invaluable. Not only does this lead to a progressive workforce, but it reduces turnovers, and increases profitability. Below, is a closer look at how small businesses are winning by cultivating positive team environments.

They Realize the Importance of Staff

Large businesses have the capital to invest in tons of software, technology, and the cost of turnover rates. Modern technology such as software, equipment, and devices easily replace the significance of hiring someone while a big budget makes it simple to replace staff that decides to leave. They also have so many more responsibilities to handle, that focusing their time and energy on the happiness and well-being of their staff isn’t always at the top of the list.

Small businesses, on the other hand, realize that every hire is special and a key component to progressing their brand forward. Relying more on the talent and collaborative skills of their team than expensive software, devices, or equipment, smaller companies have a true appreciation for what their staff does to help. Often having more time and reason to focus on the continued growth, happiness, and well-being of their staff, the invest a lot in creating an environment where everyone can work together amicably and productively.

How to Create More Positive Team Relationships

When companies are able to create a positive team environment and keep their staff happy, they experience a wealth of benefits. This includes fewer turnovers, improved productivity, and increased profits. If you’re looking to capitalize on these benefits, the below-mentioned tips should lend you a helping hand.

Get Personal – Smaller organizations with fewer employees have the time that is required to get more personal with their staff. By learning who they are as individuals and what their needs are in the workplace, you can create a more positive environment for everyone to work in. It shows them that you care which encourages them to put their best foot forward.

Invest Where it Counts – Employees do their best work when they have the proper tools at their disposal and employers know the value of workplace productivity. If you want a more collaborative team environment that allows them to work seamlessly together, you’ll need to invest where it counts. This includes looking into collaborative software that makes working as a team easier. From cloud storage accounts and messaging or chat applications to note and document sharing platforms and other software, there are an array of tools that can be invested in to increase productivity and profits.

Create the Ideal Space – How your staff works together is extremely important and can essentially control the destiny of your brand. If you want to help your staff build a more positive relationship with one another, you need to create the space for it. Things like brainstorming rooms, open office layouts, and comfortable places for eating, communicating, or relaxing during downtime can help with this. When your staff feels encouraged to come together more often, they get to know one another making it easier for them to work together as a unit.

From the receptionists and secretaries all the way up to management, it’s the people that matter most to small businesses. It is understood that without their skill, passion, and creativity the ability to progress a company forward is nearly impossible. This is why small businesses work so diligently to cultivate a positive working environment that makes their staff happy, cultivates better team relationships, improves productivity, and saves money. Something that most larger organizations simply haven’t learned yet.

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Considerations for Launching a Tech Startup

Now the time to launch your tech startup. You have brainstormed and decided to move forward with your plans. Or maybe, you just have the idea and nothing else.

It could be that you appreciate that tech is a hot sector and having an iron in the fire is most important. Whether you have a product in mind or are just looking to get into the sector with the help of some unsecured small business loans, this article will help you consider what you will have to contend with as you begin your journey:

Current Hot Tech Topics

If you are someone with ideas or are unsure where to focus your efforts, the very first thing to do is research those areas of tech that are gaining traction now. What products are being developed and what opportunities may exist? Here are some of the hottest trending areas.

– Wearable Tech

This has been with us for decades but continued advancements and integration with smart home devices and augmented reality will result in even more options being made available to entrepreneurs.

– Augmented Reality

Yes, virtual reality (VR) is still a thing. Manufacturers of VR devices continue to improve on their offerings, but now augmented reality (AR) is ready to be used by government and business, and eventually household consumers. Opportunities exist to create applications that generate the overlays used with a real-world environment.

– Internet of Things

Smart home devices, traffic cameras, GPS sensors in automobiles, are examples of things that are connected to the Internet but not manipulated by humans. As all aspects of our lives are monitored and controlled by various machines and programs, this segment of technology will continue to grow – as will concerns over the security of IoT and similar tech. When used with other tech, such as AR, numerous possibilities emerge.

Planning for Your Tech Startup

As with any business, you need to clearly define what it is you want to accomplish and put all of this data into a professional business plan. Your business plan is your roadmap to success or failure. It affords you an opportunity to be honest with yourself and with potential investors.

– Research

What are you going to produce? Maybe you have a great idea for an improved smartwatch or maybe you want to create an AR application that can present images of someone else’s smartwatch market yourself as a virtual reseller. Examine your ideas and honestly decide if they may be profitable.

– Capital

How much will this tech venture cost to get off-the-ground and remain afloat? Most high tech ventures are funded by those who specialize in building up tech companies. Seek out those people and make sure you know every word and calculation in your business plan.

Start-up Funding Crowdfunding Investment Venture Capital Entrepreneurship Internet Business Technology Concept.

Understand the Realities of Running a Tech Startup

Whether you receive venture capital for your tech startup or acquire funding from other sources, you have to face the reality of managing your startup. Even if it is just you, and no employees, you need to be able to manage time and resources. If you have staff, there are other considerations to take into account that place demands on your time and take you away from focusing on your desired goals.

Launching a tech startup is a trying, but potentially rewarding undertaking. It’s always worth following a dream and if yours is launching a tech startup, you should go for it. Just appreciate that it involves a considerable amount of work to accomplish, and keep running.

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5 Ways Having Bad Credit Impacts Your Life

Do you have bad credit, but don’t see much reason to try and fix it right now? It’s not uncommon for those with a ton of debt or financial problems to give up or never start the process of improving their credit. The thought of spending the next few months or years living on a tight budget to pay off what seems like an impossible amount of debt is overwhelming, to say the least. Sure, improving your credit history is going to take some hard work and time, however, it can be accomplished. When you consider the consequences of doing nothing, you suddenly find yourself inspired to do the right thing.

Bad Credit Limits Your Borrowing Options

Let’s start with the most obvious consequence to having bad credit – your inability to get a loan. Loans can be very convenient for affording things you want and getting you out of a bind. There are plenty of loans you could consider, however, if you have a poor financial record, you can forget about getting approved by most lenders.

Side note: If you’re really in a jam and your credit isn’t getting you very far, there is the option to apply for alternative payday loans for bad credit. Although not as much cash as you could get with a traditional loan or the attractive low-interest rates you see advertised, it does provide relief. If approved you could receive as much as $1250 in your checking account the next business day.

Bad Credit Could Make it Difficult to Find Housing

Thought that your bad credit would only impact you if you were interested in buying a home? Although it would be challenging to get a mortgage with a negative financial history, that’s not the only form of housing that could become unattainable to you. As more landlords look for reliable tenants, credit checks are fairly common. A tenant who has a history of not handling their finances is a red flag and could get your rental application rejected.

You Can’t Get a Car with Bad Credit

If you have bad credit in a town where public transportation isn’t readily available, you’re going to be in a world of trouble. Getting approved for a car loan is an uphill battle with poor credit. Which means you’ll need to find a car you can pay for upfront with the cash you have available in the bank. Since most people don’t have thousands of dollars stashed away for a new ride, chances are you’ll be catching an Uber or Lyft around town until you’ve saved enough to buy your own.

Forget That Job if Your Credit Sucks

Why in the world would an employer need to know your credit score in order to determine if you’re a good fit for the job? While in some industries, like finance, if you’re unable to handle your personal finances, you probably shouldn’t be responsible for handling anyone else’s. Other employers review credit reports to get a good idea of the type of person you are. Are you responsible and trustworthy? A bad credit history may tell a different story.

Expect Life to Get Pretty Expensive

If not being able to get a loan, housing, buy a car, or land that dream job wasn’t enough of a blow to your life, then this next one’s a doozy. Those with bad credit will pay a lot more on average on things you need. When you have a negative financial history, you’re required to pay deposits for utility or television services. If you are approved for a loan, you’re going to pay a lot more in interest. Products like car insurance will automatically skyrocket. The list goes on.

You may have thought that having bad credit was no big deal. Perhaps, at the moment it isn’t. However, if you plan on doing any of the above-mentioned things in the next 7 to 10 years, you may want to do something about it. That means figure out ways to improve your credit and start adopting more positive financial habits that will set you up for a better future. If you’re seriously having trouble with debt, talking with a debt counselor or financial advisor can guide you down the right path.

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Motive Partners

In the current world, financial trading has become one of the daily sources of life for many people. As a result of this, millions in terms of financing has been directed to new discoveries on the same line. This has made it possible to trade in the same. Thus tech guys also ventured in this line and as a result there was a revolution in the financial technology. Many and different organizations have allocated some part of their resources to this business venture to discover new and better methods so as to furnace thousands from the same. As a result, some huge investors have taken to the business of helping start-up companies that have new ideas in the financial technology line or as it is best known as the FinTECH industry. There are a variety of investors and some are the Motive Partners who we are going to discuss in depth below.

Motive Partners is a group that contains various entrepreneurs and investors all from different fields and all have different expertise in the various environments to ensure that they help start-up businesses that have decided to venture in the financial technology sector. On top of this they also ensure that old businesses that are focused to improve the financial technology are also boosted and given some sort of backup. The company is made up of people who have different expertise including: operators, investors, industry leaders as well as technologists all that help guide the said company to ensure its success. The core mission for the investment firm is to build as well as backing of the various start-up financial technology organizations to ensure that the said firm has a stable and bright future.

The above investment firm will take the company that they plan to invest in hand in hand through all the hardships that they face. Since many people in the world are taking into ensuring that they manage their accounts as well as their property personally ensuring that financial institutions do not handle this, they educate the public about the various financial technologies that they have. This will ensure that the start-up company has a stable and steady customer platform. The start-ups suffer from different hardships and the main ones are that they do not have enough capital to ensure that their ideas transform to something tangible. The investment firm will ensure that in a case where the idea is a good one, your ideas will be helped so that they can manifest to something tangible. They will also help different start-ups to ensure that there is an innovation that is line with the financial sector.

Since time in memorial, there has been domination from the financial institutions in the financial services and as a result there may be some sort or reluctance from this institutions. The group Motive Partners will fight for financial stability as well as the rights of their customers to ensure that there is some competition to the financial institutions so that the services offered also improve. The economic situation is also affected by the ways in which the financial institutions carry out their businesses. This is caused by the fact that most institutions in the line currently do not get the share of the capital that they intended to have. As a result they will have to better their services or face death due to the fact that most people are taking matters to their own hands. The group Motive partners has also had a hand in this due to the fact that they have educated their customers on the business.

The group has changed the FinTECH market through the following ways investing, innovating and also operating. In the investing arena, the group has taken to the different areas to figure out the various methods that may result to the improvement of the financial technology. Through this, they have invested in the different firms and made the ideas from the firms develop to actual algorithms or more tangible material to trade in the financial market. Through innovation, they have seized opportunities that others deemed not possible to ensure that there is sanity in the financial trading sector. They have also made vast changes that are visible to people in the financial services department. Through operation, they have helped the organizations that they partner with in their managerial areas so that they have stable companies and as we all know happy workers give the best results in any working condition.

Photo of a creative business team busy at a meeting

The group in itself also has a chain of command within itself. The group that manages the investment firm is broken into three parts that include: Managing Partners, the founding partners and finally the team that is in the administrative role. The managing partners include Rob Heyvaert, Stephen C Daffron, Mike D Hayford and one man that is known as Andy Stewart that was just promoted from the partner’s level.

The next level of managerial, comes the founding partners that include: Frank Martire III who is the general head of counsel in the firm. Next is Etienne Castiaux who is in charge of the technology and has a title as the chief technology officer in the firm. Luc Philippi is next on the list and he is in charge of the operations that occur within the firm. Jon Bradford was one of those founding father to the company from its early stages and has since held a part in this managerial office. Alastar Lukies is the final member within the founding partners.

The group that is held responsible for the organization of the firm consists of people who are the principals in the investment sector the people that fill this shoes include Sam Nayden, Neil Cochaine and finally Yuting Zeng. There are also two people who act as the principal chiefs of staff and the two include: Brad Yankiver and Sam Tidswell. Next there is a man that is responsible for the investments and acts as the vice President to the principals and his name is Jeff Yellin. Jessica Roy is next in the ranking order and she is the director in human capital sector. AK Patel is the guy that is head in the IT area. There is an associate that is added to the list and his name is Ashvin Sinnathamby.

Early this year, the firm took an investment in a company that is known as LMRKTS. The amount that they invested in the said company as of now has not yet been revealed to the public. The company is responsible for reducing counterparty risks in most banks. The company is based in New York.

The investing firm is located in the current day New York as well as in London.

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What the Online Business Really Needs

E-commerce businesses need the website and the product or services to sell, right? Well, yes, but it needs much more than that. How are you going to handle technical issues or a hacking? Where on earth will you advertise? E-commerce sites are an excellent business option, but the internet is saturated with them and you are going to need to navigate some things that you may not have thought before. If you have an e-commerce business in the works, take a moment and read this list of things you need to really think about.

Accepting Payments

Unless you decide to run your basis on COD (cash on delivery), and no one ever does that, you are going to have to consider how you are going to accept payments. The options for online payment solution need to be examined in order to make the best selection based on your needs. Do you want payment processing that is strictly online? Some companies like an option to include invoice payments, phone and email payments using a virtual terminal, and even subscription billing. Are you going to be a strictly local e-commerce site or are you opening your products or services on a global platform? What if you want to start small and grow later? The one recommendation we make is that when you look for a payment processing solution, make sure it can accommodate your growth as a business. You do not want to change processors frequently!

Protecting Your Livelihood

Although hacking occurs on a regular basis, doing everything you can to protect yourself is vital. Who wants to spend a lot of time and energy bouncing back after losing money? If you are willing to lock your car, home, and valuables then the same should happen to your business. It all begins with considering your hosting options for the website. There are lots of very inexpensive hosts out there and they come with very cheap security. When you are looking for a web host, do research on their history with hacking. How often have they been hit? How much information was stolen? How quickly did they resolve the issue and what did they do to prevent it? Another thing you can do is backup your data on a regular basis. It makes bouncing back a lot easier and can help you learn how to better protect the information. But rather than learning from mistakes, simply invest in excellent tools that are designed to keep your site safe.

Finding Your Clients

While a medium-sized town can have four McDonald’s locations and each do very well, most e-commerce sites struggle to get the much-needed clientele because of the saturation. You have to find that one thing that makes you stand out and a bit different than other sites, even if you are offering the same product or service. To whom and where you advertise will have a huge impact on gaining customers. Know your target market and start there, it can always expand later! Peruse marketing platforms and find that one that seems the most helpful to what you want to gain. Can they help convert traffic into sales? What is their success rate for providing customer support? How helpful are they in tracking site trends?

Handling Legal Issues

A customer is upset with the product/service and is angry at how it was resolved. They decide to sue you. How on earth are you going to handle that while trying to run a business? Some people opt to hire an e-commerce lawyer because it saves them time and energy. It can be pricey but if you can afford it then we highly recommend it. If you can’t, you need to read up on the laws surrounding e-commerce. Learn as much as you can and you should be okay. It can help you head off some small issues initially and hire that lawyer if things are bigger than your capability.

The biggest mistake some people make is to treat their online store as a hobby. It’s your livelihood and will help you achieve your dreams. Protect it well, work smart, and care about it. You should be just fine!

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Google Pixelbook: Review

Google is a company that’s in a class by itself and it has continued to grow into the super internet giant that it has become today. I visit the Google search engine everyday as do the same as billions of other visitors, too. Google has entered the new zones lately and mastered them to the fullest.

Meet Pixelbook — the new high performance Chromebook — and Pixelbook Pen1 — the smart, responsive stylus — designed to enhance the way you work and play. It’s the first laptop with the Google Assistant built in2, so you’ll be able to get more done faster and smarter. From its ultra-thin design to its collection of apps, Pixelbook is beautifully versatile and effortlessly adapts to your lifestyle. And because it’s powered by Chrome OS, you’ll always have the latest security and software features 3.

Google is the most trusted company

Pixelbook is the first laptop with the Google Assistant built in2. It’s easily accessible via the dedicated Google Assistant key on the keyboard, or by using the “Ok Google” wake word you’re already familiar with. You can even access it with Pixelbook Pen1 : simply press and hold the button, then tap the pen on Pixelbook’s screen to get help from your Assistant. And there is an offer to save $100 from 3/25 – 4/7

The best and most versatile

At just 10.3mm, Pixelbook is Google’s thinnest laptop ever, with a lightweight aluminum construction that enhances portability. The 360° touchscreen and versatile 4-in-1 design will seamlessly adjust to whatever you’re doing, too. You can sketch or edit photos, stay productive with GSuite apps that Drive automatically backs up to your device5, and enjoy on-or-offline access to movies and TV shows with apps like Google Play Movies and YouTube Red.

Complete peace of mind

With Chrome OS, you’ll always have the latest security and features with software that automatically updates3 in the background. Pixelbook’s ready to go when you are, too: it starts up in under ten seconds, stays fast, and has a fast-charging, all-day battery6 that gives you up to ten hours of go from a single charge7

Apps for work and play

Do more of what you love with apps including Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail, Photos and more. You can always download your favorites from YouTube Red and Google Play Movies to enjoy even without Wi-Fi.

1. Pixelbook Pen is sold as a separate accessory, subject to availability.

2. Requires internet connection.

3. Auto-updates and auto-backup require an internet connection.

4. Intel and Intel Core are trademarks of the Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

5. 500 most recently opened and 500 most recently shared with you. Accessible offline through Drive when enabled in Drive settings.

6. Battery performance is based on a mix of standby, web browsing and other use. Charging time requires a battery to be at least 5% charged, the device to be inactive, and use of included charger. Actual results may vary.

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Understanding The Various Loan Options

Depending on your lender and the type of loan you choose, your required down payment can range from 2.25% to 20% of the purchase price of the home. Establishing a monthly budget will help you put away enough money for your down payment. Once you’ve assessed what your budget will support, consider having money automatically deposited from your paycheck or bank account to a savings account to make it easier and more convenient to put aside money each month. The Associates Home Loan of Florida offers loan options to you including self employed loans. An account like Discover Bank’s AutoSavers Plan can help you start saving today. If you won’t be able to come up with a large down payment, then you should look into an FHA loan, which helps home buyers who can only make a small down payment.

How to take out a home loan

You know home loans hit a 14-year low as rates had risen on April 25, 2014. The mortgage industry’s output of new loans is at the lowest point in 14 years, according to estimates from a trade publication. Inside Mortgage Finance said Thursday that even in the depths of the financial crisis, mortgage lenders were busier than during the first quarter of 2014. One factor is the end of a refinance boom as interest rates have risen well off their record lows. But though the rates are still great by historical measures, mortgages written for home purchases have been weak as well, as sales of new and previously owned homes have slowed.

Use a mortgage broker

The traditional mortgage process involves approaching three home loan lenders, listening to them spruik their products and then choosing the most attractive offer.This is time-consuming and – unless you’re a finance expert – can be very confusing as well.
That’s why more than half of Australians now use mortgage brokers, middle-men whose job is to help a borrower organise a suitable home loan with a lender.Brokers are home loan experts, so theyunderstand the mortgage market’s complicated rules and baffling jargon.

Mortgage brokers generally work with anywhere from 10 to 40 lenders – far more than the three you might visit on your own. That means you’re exposed to a far wider variety of home loan options.
Another advantage of brokers is that they generally won’t charge you for their services. Instead, they’ll charge the lender (in the form of a commission) if they end up organizing a home loan for you.

However, there are also several downsides associated with mortgage brokers.First, there are about 150 mortgage lenders in Australia, which means you’ll get exposed to only a minority of options if you organize a home loan through a broker.Second, some unscrupulous brokers might steer you to a particular home loan not because it’s in your best interest but because it pays them the highest commission.

Go direct to lender

Some people prefer to take full control over the home loan application process rather than outsource it to a mortgage broker whose motives or competence they might not trust.But a word of warning: while going direct-to-lender might give you greater control and you can apply for a hard money loan. Some bank employees can’t be relied on to give independent advice. That’s because their job is to promote their own products, not to tell you about better options from a rival provider.If you do decide to go direct-to-lender, make sure you do your research before deciding on your home loan provider of choice.You might be tempted to automatically pick your current bank. However, there are about 150 banks, credit unions, building societies and non-bank lenders in the mortgage market – so the odds of your bank having the most suitable home loan for you are actually remote.

And also the mortgage industry’s output of new loans is at the lowest point in 14 years, according to estimates from a trade publication. Inside Mortgage Finance said Thursday that even in the depths of the financial crisis, mortgage lenders were busier than during the first quarter of 2014. One factor is the end of a refinance boom as interest rates have risen well off their record lows. But though the rates are still great by historical measures, mortgages written for home purchases have been weak as well, as sales of new and previously owned homes have slowed.

Get your financial documents in order

When you apply for a mortgage, you will need to provide your lender with a number of financial documents. Having these documents already assembled will help accelerate the processing of your loan application. At a minimum, you should be prepared to provide your last two pay stubs, your most recent W-2, your last two years of tax returns, and current bank and brokerage statements.

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Calculating the Price Tag of Driverless Cars

Excitement is building within the driverless car industry as the entrance into consumer market moves closer everyday. Arrival dates differ from expert to expert. According to some, driverless cars will be fully functional and on the road within a decade, while others are predicting it will just be a few years from now. There are also those who are sticking to the conservative ten year mark.

Beyond the release date, a few things need to be worked out before the driverless cars hit the road. The technology, for one, continues to need refinement.

Right now, laser-based systems, known as LIDAR (short for “light detection and ranging”) appear to be the most promising technology under development. However, if the cars themselves are expected to be able to prevent all collisions and avoid causing car accident injuries, work still needs to be done. Major companies like Google, Amazon, and Velodyne – along with over 50 startups – are entering the competition to release the most effective model.

The size of the technology and number of components necessary also make for less than attractive car styling. A LIDAR sensor on the roof with the possibility of adding secondary ones elsewhere, alternate radar systems, and cameras all need to be mounted onto the vehicles. The result looks ungainly and inelegant. Before the research can focus on reducing the size of the units, the industry needs to unanimously support a standard.

However, the biggest obstacle confronting the permeation of driverless cars into the mass market is their price tag.

Cost Will Dictate Adoption by Consumers

Individual teams of researchers and developers are already promoting their own cost-effective solutions to the problem of the high prices of driverless car technology. Meanwhile, they’re pointing out the high expense of their peers. A small start-up named Ouster claims their system will only run consumers $12K, while the Velodyne’s tech costs $75K.

Of course, no one knows the final figures, but even at $12K on top of the cost of the car itself, the price will remain out of reach for most consumers. Waymo, a Google spin-off company, says it has reduced costs of its $75K system by 90%, or to about $7.5K.

The average American car purchaser spends about $34K on a new vehicle. Convincing them that a 33% mark-up for a driverless car is worth it–or even needed–is going to be a hard sell.

Cost predictions, however, need to be examined for clarity. The $7.5K low-end estimate from Google is certainly cheaper than others, but that’s only how much the main LIDAR device will cost. Smaller assist versions will likely be needed around the car as well. This currently runs up a tab of about $8K each, unless Waymo can figure out how to reduce that by 90%, too.

Factor in an additional radar system at $10K and necessary cameras ringing in at around $5K, and the equipment costs quickly jump back into the five-figure range. Which is, again, in addition to the cost of the computer system that runs and coordinates all of the tech in addition to the original cost of the car.

The Prices Will Drop

Taken together, best case scenarios call for around $25K worth of driverless car tech to be added. This is almost the current price consumers are willing to pay for a car alone.

To put some comparative context around that, it’s the difference between buying a new Chevrolet Corvette for around $60K and a new Impala for around $30K. Both are nice cars, but most consumers are opting for the Impala price-range.

It’s the nature of technology that prices will come down. Miniaturization, for instance, brings manufacturing costs down, as does scalability. In 2007, the iPhone cost almost $600 in today’s currency, versus the now-routine $200 versions of each new iteration. Flat screen TVs cost around $5K for a 42” screen ten years ago and can be had for less than a tenth of that today.

Time will dictate the real costs, which will undoubtedly be cheaper than they are presently. Until then, we can all anticipate the safety and convenience, and try to wait as patiently as we can.

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