Planning To Get A Mortgage? Here Are Tips You Must Know

Mortgages are important, they present the common route to owning a home in today’s world. Here are major tips you can use.

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Ah, a mortgage. Few economic contracts are so constantly heard of, yet so poorly understood. We all know they’re used to get houses and, judging from TV shows, we also know they take long to pay and stress you out.

In theory, that should be enough. A longer description could simply say “A mortgage is a loan you get from the bank to buy a house. Essentially, the bank buys the house and lets you live in it while you pay for it. Once you’ve paid it all (as in, the mortgage,) the house is yours.”

But while that description does get the gist of it, there’s more. There’s always more. There are details, tricks, and small print to take care of. Here are some things you should also know before getting one.

The Requirements

Because if you don’t fulfill these there’s no way you’re getting one. In general, the amount of money a bank will be open to lend you via a mortgage will be directly tied to your credit score and your monthly finances.

A person with really bad credit score won’t even qualify for one, while people with a decent score but low monthly earnings won’t be able to apply for a mortgage on a mansion.

The types of mortgage your bank offers

Not all mortgages are the same. The differences between them even go beyond just the numbers, since numbers are something you can actually negotiate.

The type of mortgage refers to the agreement that will rule the whole process. One could divide it in two large groups, being fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages. Fixed rate ones have set monthly payments and interests, while adjustable ones are often recalculated based on several indicators.

There’s more, however. The mortgage you get will often depend on what you’re purchasing real estate for (mortgages for a personal home offer lower interests than mortgages for rentals, or for second properties) so making it clear what you want the property for can go a long way.

If you can’t pay your mortgage it’s not the end of the world – as long as you act quickly

Second mortgages are even more misunderstood than regular ones. The wording itself for the term doesn’t even make much sense, leading homeowners to be puzzled about them.

The actual term behind the “second mortgage” nickname is refinancing, which is what happens when for whatever reason your economic situation changes and you find yourself unable to make your regular mortgage payments.

It is, in essence, a renegotiation of the mortgage contract, usually made to help you keep your house because, believe it or not, banks usually aren’t interested in keeping real estate properties. The trick to get a good refinancing deal is to act quickly.

Don’t wait until you have several months of unpaid bills and an eviction order. The sooner you act, the better a deal your bank will offer you. Many people fail to explore making hay while the sun shines. But, it is the better route to take in this scenario.

Shop around before committing

Don’t just take the first deal you’re offered, or go with the first bank or financial institution you see. Ask around – ask friends and coworkers about their experiences, but also inquire in different places in your own.

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This is important because different institutions will offer you different mortgage terms, and some will be better suited for you than others – in fact, some might even be flat-out superior than others by offering lower interests or smaller payments.

Just as you wouldn’t just buy the very first house you see, don’t take the very first mortgage you’re offered. Wait a bit, think it over, and see what else others can offer. The more the merrier applies in this case and you lose nothing for nosing around for the best deals.

Conclusion

The present depressed economic state of many nations holds some promise to get a good bargain for mortgage in most cases. Though many people are just angling to survive, there is room to go beyond just that.

So, if you have got some mileage, go ahead, and apply the tips above to strike a deal. When the storms of the present settle, you will enjoy the bottom-line.

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You Can Improve The Profitability of Your Business With Accurate Records. Here Is How To Do So

You need a steady approach to build a business. Part of the mix will be accurate record keeping. Here is how this pans out.

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How Accurate Business Records Can Improve Your Profitability

Your business may be on the brink of collapse and you don’t even have an idea! In today’s competitive economies, any business that is not improving is surely on a steady decline. To stay afloat, stave off competition, and turn a decent profit, your business needs a strong record-keeping culture.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” Peter Drucker.

This quote by successful business mogul, Peter Drucker, should be framed and hung in every business owner’s office as it is a foundational principle. It is critical to keep detailed records of every aspect of your business for the following reasons:

Gauge the effectiveness of your expenditures

There are a thousand and one tools that are being advertised as “driving business growth”. Digital marketing, fancy productivity tools, content development services among others are the in-thing for businesses these days. Most businesses are pushing for a wider audience on social media.

Read Also:6 Entrepreneurial Traits That Make The Difference

These things work, however, there’s often a point of diminishing returns where the amount expended becomes way greater than the revenue generated. Without keeping accurate records, this becomes a cash drain for the business, slowly losing money despite the fact that the customer base is being expanded.

Action point: Measure everything! Most digital marketing tools have analytics such as interactions, click conversions, etc. They’re not there by mistake, run the numbers and be sure that every cent spent is justified by commensurate income.

For productivity tools and others, ensure that your staff give feedback on a regular basis, so you can know which subscriptions to pull the plug on as they’re no longer working.

Fraud Prevention

No matter how careful you are in the recruiting process, it’s inevitable that some of your employees or even partners will try to steal from the business.

Fraud is one of the biggest causes of business failure and it stays unnoticeable until things get really bad. It, therefore, becomes very important to keep detailed records and track the flow of cash through the business.

Action point: If you’re finding it difficult to keep financial records because of the size of your business, you may consider finding an external auditor.

Preferably, you should contact certified professionals such as auditors who will go through the existing records and fish out any previous fraud. Going forward, you can employ a chartered accountant to help track the flow of money through your business.

Legal Agreements, Receipts, etc.

Lots of businesses get into trouble and have to close down after losing huge sums in lawsuits. This often occurs due to inability to keep records of contracts and copies of agreements signed with counterparties. How can you ensure you don’t fall a victim to this? Find out in the action point below.

Action point: If you can afford it, employ a lawyer, possibly on a part-time basis. This legal staff will be responsible for keeping records of contract documents and going over contractual terms to ensure that they’re in your favour and you don’t lose out whenever litigation comes up.

Last Words

Not keeping detailed records can be detrimental to your business. However, by following the above action points, you can plug the leaks and build the profit-generating business you have always dreamed of.

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How To Optimize Your Self-Directed IRA

IRAs are gaining attention around the globe. How best can you optimize them? That is the subject of this guide.

Best Hacks On Self-Directed IRAs

In order to understand the basic misconceptions about the IRA, we first need to have a full grasp of what an IRA is, and what is the major difference between traditional and self-directed IRA.

An IRA or Individual Retirement Account is a way to save money for post-retirement with tax-free benefits. It is an investment option designed for building saving funds for the time of your retirement.

The concept of self-directed IRA has been introduced for quite a long time now, but people are still not comfortable with the idea and have various concerns about it.

 There are multiple misconceptions about the use of funds in self-directed IRA that should be clarified for the better understanding and benefit of common folks

Self-directed IRA is a magnificent financial tool that can help you to generate a huge amount of wealth easily and legally. It opens a huge range of investment options for you that can have huge valuations for your portfolio.

Traditional VS Self Directed IRAs

There is a very small but major difference between the two types of IRA. The difference is about the authority of the custodian about the investment restrictions in either type of IRA.

The custodian has a much more active role in traditional IRA, and it decides the investment direction of your funds. It usually allows people to invest only in areas like bonds, stocks, annuities, and mutual funds, and no other form of investment is welcomed.

Whereas, in self-directed IRA, the custodian doesn’t have that much active role in investment options. The custodian’s responsibilities are limited to mainly tax management and allow you to manage your investments as you desire.

Hence, for self-directed IRA, one can have multiple investment options, in addition to the traditional options, like real estate investment, new start-ups, cryptocurrency, etc.

Self-Directed IRA Misconceptions

Many people have certain misconceptions about the mechanism and processing of the self-directed IRA.

These misconceptions misguide them badly and lead to bad investment decisions and negative financial consequences. So, here we have enlisted all these major concerns to clarify them once and for all.

1. The first misconception is about investment options. As discussed above, traditional IRAs have a limited room for investment options. The reason for the fixed policy is that conventional markets are relatively easier to engage with and monitor compared to alternative options.

For example,cryptocurrency is a very risky investment option that can be unacceptable for traditional IRAs. On the other hand, the self-directed IRA has no such issues and are open to every kind of investment option.

2. The next misconception about self-directed IRAs is that these firms have absolute authority over the money. Whether traditional or self-directed, no IRA firm has any such authority. Their mere responsibility and control are about keeping your money safe.

They can’t invest your money without your permission, and even after investing, you have the authority to cancel their access to your funds.

3. Another common misunderstanding of people is that real estate investments in self-directed IRAs could be used personally. It is not true at all. The only purpose of the IRA-based real estate investment is to make a profit. You can’t use the property or live in it.

4. The biggest misconception of self-directed IRAs is about their legality. The non-traditional investments are generally considered illegal.

Cryptocurrencies, tax liens, venture capitalism, etc. all these are legal forms of investment, where markets are regulated by safety measures and laws.

Uncertainty is at the core of investment. Just because alternative investment options are not widely discussed doesn’t elevate them as riskier than traditional methods.

Real estate is the safest investment option while cryptocurrency is volatile but not overly risky.

 Even in traditional investment options like bonds and stock, uncertainty is inevitable. The more you concentrate on one specific market the higher the risk will be. In any investment market, the simple and best way to avoid risk is diversification.

Conclusion

The self-directed IRA makes you more empowered concerning your fund investment.

You have more liberty to make more money compared to traditional methods by adopting alternative ways.

Take advantage of the greater options and the possible gains available for you and get benefited excessively in your future.

6 Entrepreneurial Traits That Make The Difference

To become a successful entrepreneur requires the development of vital traits that can make the difference. Learn more..

Though there is no hard and fast rule to success it can be achieved through hard work and simply following the common habits, characteristics, and qualities of the successful entrepreneurs.

There are generally six common habits or qualities that I have sorted out here. With every quality, I am going to give you an example of who and how it has benefited others to be the best they can be.

1.Persistence

Arianna Huffington is one the biggest examples of persistence, who after repeated rejections didn’t stop trying to get her second book, ‘After Reason’, published.

She had been rejected by almost 36 publishers at the age of 23 before she finally got it published. She didn’t stop here and ran for governor of California in 2003 but dropped out of the race soon after seeing only 2% support in her favor.

But she learned from this incident how vital the power of the internet is while running the fundraising campaign. As a result, she launched HuffingtonPost.com, 2 years later, which she sold to AOL.com for $315 million ultimately in 2011.

A successful entrepreneur understands the importance of failure. Rejections and failures are the signs to keep pushing forwards instead of stopping due to failure.

They provide you with learning experiences and serve as steppingstones towards success. Being persistent despite the hurdles is the most rewarding experience for entrepreneurs.

2.Forever Learning and Self-Improvement

The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, is famous for being a fast learner.

He declared in an interview that before starting the corporation, he spent a lot of time in reading as many books as he can about rocketry and propulsion to learn about building rockets. In an interview on Reddit, he compared knowledge to a semantic tree.

He stressed that it is important to understand the fundamental principles of the tree like the trunk and big branches before going into the details like leaves, otherwise without basics or the branches, there will be nothing for leaves to hang on to.

Even after all the success with PayPal and Tesla, Elon knew that he would have to learn all about the rockets and rocket propulsion system to become the competent leader of a space flight company.

A feedback loop is very important for constant success. It allows you to think about what you have done, how you have done, and how you could have done it.

Constantly question yourself and get the chance to become better. A successful entrepreneur always strives for knowledge. They know that no matter how successful they are, or how much knowledge they have gathered, there is still room for more success and personal growth.

3.Risk Taking

One of the greatest risk-takers of all times is Bill Gates, who risked his future at the age of 20 by dropping out of Harvard to co-found his software company, Microsoft.

Bill Gates writes that in business and even in real life, you need to take big risks to achieve great success. A big risk can either mean big success or a big failure. Now if we look back, the success of Microsoft seems inevitable, but it wasn’t the case at that time.

At that time, it was the biggest risk of all to start the first personal computer software firm, and everyone thought it is going to be a huge failure.

To be a successful entrepreneur you need to look the potential to take your business to rise heights. What are the potential risks that you are afraid of? What could they benefit you and your business?

The best way to overcome these fears is to get exposure. Surround yourself with other risk-takers and people who encourage you to move forward, rather the ones who discourage and think you would fail.

4.Leadership

During 2008’s massive recession, when Starbucks was at the brink of failure, Howards Schultz’s leadership helped them to get out of the crisis.

Talking about his leadership techniques and what helped him to revive Starbucks, he mentioned that according to his views, leadership is something which has to be decisive, where you need to be ready to take decisions without having perfect information.

The core of leadership is transparency and truthfulness. You don’t need to be vulnerable all the time but there are times when you have to share your mind with people to tell them what you are and what you think, without being afraid.

Leadership is about being decisive and implementing things that will lead to the betterment and success of our business.

If you also have other people as employees, then being a leader you also have to explain to them the logic of your decisions. Taking initiative and responsibility are two main things that you can start with to develop leadership skills.

5.Hustle and Incredible Work Ethic

Oprah Winfrey, the host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, while working hard for the show was not afraid to take on other projects. She worked in about 12 movies and cameos, many other TV shows, documentaries, and even movies.

She kept on appearing in and working on several other projects while keeping her main TV show among the top-rated and winning various awards for it.

Even after the end of the show in 2011, she continued to be a media tycoon by owning her own television network, a channel, a website, a magazine, an XM satellite radio channel and various movies and TV show cameos. 

There is no big secret to success. It only comes to you when you are willing to go for it and work hard to get successful. Oprah worked hard to build up her personal brand. She managed to appear at every channel without compromising the quality of her work.

 It is up to you how you manage to expand your brand on business and can put it on how many platforms. It is time to get activated and bring awareness to your business and brand.

Do not be passive and wait for opportunities to come towards you. Work proactively in the market for your product and make a name there. No one can help you to be successful but you.

6.Focus

In 1996, when Steve Jobs came back to the declining corporation of Apple, what he noticed was that the organization had lost its main focus. By the next year, he reduced the product line from 350 to 10 key products.

Apple’s poor management had caused the company to spread a lot but became too thin. I was very tough for Steve Jobs to focus and kill off various products and projects of the organization. In a conference in 1997, Steve Jobs stated that focusing is no about saying yes, rather about saying no.

A successful entrepreneur knows that the business must not be spread to limits that would make the corporate so thin and feeble that it will lose focus from the originality of the brand.

Keep yourself focused on the original vision of your organization. The only way to do that is to keep things simple. Try to make fewer but quality products, rather making dozens of okay products.

Conclusion

You don’t need to focus on all of these qualities altogether. Adopt one or more that applies to you and start working to improve your business today.

TD Ameritrade: What is it and how can it change the crypto landscape?

The news made ripple as you would often expect in the crypto world whenever any mid to large-size established company jumps in.

TD Ameritrade started a formal crypto division. While the move was somewhat expected, since it had already invested in crypto exchanges, the news still left many people wondering: what does this mean?

What is TD Ameritrade?

In order to know whether this move matters or not, we first need to know the company we’re talking about.

TD Ameritrade is a long-established American broker. With almost fifty years in the market, its mission is to help customers both buy and sell all kinds of stocks, funds, and futures.

In other words, Ameritrade is a very large stock trading house, one with established success in the business.

While this might look as just another financial company trying to break into crypto, the type of company matters a lot this time around.

As we have mentioned in many of our articles, the crypto world is a lot like the stock market. Crypto exchanges, and many crypto investors, work in more or less the same way stock traders do.

So when a company renowned for stock trading options joins in, it can’t but be important. The fact that such a company is jumping into cryptocurrencies means two things:

  1. Its managers see a future to cryptocurrencies, and
  2. They feel the market has settled and is stable enough that they can start offering their expertise without risking much.

Both of these things are huge, since many traditional economy-related businesses have shunned crypto, and at times even outright tried to sabotage it.

But TD Ameritrade trades in many things, doesn’t it?

Yes.

TD Ameritrade works both as an exchange of sorts and as an investments company. Its goals aren’t just to commercialize stocks and values, but to help those looking to invest find the right things to invest in.

To attain this, it offers customers several both premade and customized portfolios containing mixtures of stocks, funds, futures, and now crypto its team of experts consider good investments.

The advantage of these services are huge for clients who don’t know the stock market inside out. With Ameritrade’s guidance, they can choose where to put their money following the advice of leading experts in the market.

This helps minimize, although not eliminate, the risk involved in investments.

TD Ameritrade also offers many specialty plans dealing with managing both one’s own finances and one’s economic future. Customers get help not only investing, but also managing their properties and assets. TD Ameritrade thus seeks to help its customers optimize their own portfolios.

For more knowledgeable customers, it also offers personalized portfolios where they can choose exactly what to invest, although always while receiving advice from professionals in the area.

How important is this for crypto? Is it important at all?

In a way, it’s huge.

One of the main problems with cryptocurrencies is driving adoption. Many people who have thought of investing in crypto have found the whole blockchain-related environment much too confusing.

Even people who are used to trading in the stock market can feel taken aback when talking about private wallets, public wallets, wallet keys, nodes, mining, and so on.

With this move, TD Ameritrade is allowing its customers to invest in cryptocurrencies without needing to know all this.

It’s also offering professional guidance in the process, both to minimize the risk any newcomers face and to help them understand how the crypto world moves.

What this means for the crypto world is that as of now millions of accounts managed by Ameritrade can jump into cryptocurrency investments.

This doesn’t mean that many people will, or that they will even display any interest in it, but that they have the option to.

In other words, there’s now a simple way for people not in the know to invest in cryptocurrencies.

So is this a game changer? Is mass crypto adoption about to happen?

Let’s slow down.

TD Ameritrade entering the market is big, yes. But not necessarily as big as to drive mass adoption on its own. This is but another step towards that goal, but there’s still a long way to go.

First, because we don’t know how many of TD Ameritrade’s customers will actually invest in crypto. For all we know, Ameritrade might roll out this platform only to have it fail to attract any relevant interest and become just another offering with relatively low adoption rates.

Sure, the opposite might happen. It’s always possible Ameritrade’s customers will be thrilled to hear they can now invest in crypto and rush to their services, causing the beginning of a new crypto rush that drives all prices up and leads to a golden age of cryptocurrency.

But being honest, that’s very unlikely. However, TD Ameritrade’s VP has stated his company’s customer base is very interested in crypto investments.

Whether this is true or just a comment to hype up the crowd and help drive adoptions we can’t know, although it does mean the firm is expecting their new program to do well.

So, to be honest, we should keep our expectations tempered about this. It’s a big thing simply because it marks a new household-level investment company joining the crypto world.

This means trust in the market is growing, which at the same time means we’re one step closer to mass adoption. It also will help drive more crypto adoption, but you shouldn’t expect it to cause a rush.

Can I buy any crypto I want with TD Ameritrade?

No, you can’t.

TD Ameritrade, and most brokers, will only trade in select stocks considered by their experts to have relatively low risk.

While it does have high-risk offers, they’re usually offered only to clients who specifically look for them, and even then, they tend to come from already curated lists that ensure a certain degree of predictability.

This is because Ameritrade, as any brokers do, wants its customers to have some success in their investments.

It doesn’t look good for a broker to have many clients who end up losing their investments, particularly if they count the elderly among their main demographics.

So even when offering “risky” investments, TD Ameritrade will want to limit the risk.

The crypto market, as we know, isn’t particularly stable. Any crypto investments offered by Ameritrade will be considered high-risk right away, due to the unpredictability of the market. Allowing customers to invest in about any coins will only make it worse.

There’s another reason to limit their crypto offerings. As of November 2018, there were over 2,500 available cryptocurrencies.

That’s a ridiculous number, and making customers browse through such a list trying to understand what each of them is and get a grasp of the risk involved wouldn’t be an option for any brokers.

Also, the vast majority of those cryptocurrencies would make for really awful investments nobody would ever recommend even to their worst enemies.

In the spirit of making it easier for their users to understand what they’re getting and to avoid them going bankrupt, TD Ameritrade is for now only offering Bitcoin and Litecoin.

Is there any logic behind these choices?

Yes, although it might not be the kind of logic most crypto users would follow.

Bitcoin is there mostly because it’s easily recognizable. Also, because it’s been relatively stable over the past year, with a tendency to rise the last couple months. But most of all, people know about it.

General media often uses “bitcoin” to mean cryptocurrencies in general, and while most people might not know what Ethereum or Ripple are, they do have a grasp of what Bitcoin is. After all, it was all over the news just a year and a half ago.

Bitcoin is indeed unstable, outdated, slow, and it will never become the crypto for widespread use. We know that. But many of the people looking into crypto will go straight for Bitcoin, because that thing was once worth almost $20,000 each.

Also, Ameritrade is offering crypto as an investment solution, meaning users getting it through them will mostly be parking it.

They won’t buy and sell stuff with it, since that’s not the goal its customers are after. Since Bitcoin is well-known and has kept a stable price with a tendency to rise this past year, it’s an easy choice.

As for Litecoin, it has been on the market for long, has a decent price record, and once again has been rising this last year.

Being a fork of bitcoin, it also isn’t likely to ever attain mainstream use. But once again, this is investment. These people will see it as a value, not a proper currency.

The fact that Bitcoin’s value is mostly based in expectations and isn’t actually tied to anything other than public perception doesn’t matter either. As long as its value keeps going up, people will want to invest in it.

Will this affect the market?

It sure does.

Part of Bitcoin’s rise over the past two months can be attributed to this, among other things. BTC is currently experiencing a bit of a renaissance thanks to several projects being launched around it.

The fact that the crypto market is quickly growing into maturity and BTC’s price is basically an indicator for public trust in crypto also helps.

Should we expect this rise to continue?

We can’t tell. There are currently actors predicting another BTC rise, along with a rush to $50,000, but the last time such a thing was predicted it was quickly followed with a crash once the bubble burst.

Since bitcoin’s nature is that of a bubble, it’s better to remain wary of any extremely positive predictions.

It might even not be in the crypto world’s best interests to have Bitcoin grow too much, in fact. BTC is known for being outdated, and the sooner another, newer crypto takes over the market the better.

BTC reaching a ridiculously high price will make this very, very difficult – which would in turn make widespread use and adoption of crypto about as difficult.

On the other hand, BTC creating another bubble and bursting would be even worse. Crypto already had a terrible 2018, and it’s only now recovering and making it to the news again.

Another quick price drop would erode public trust in crypto in general, which would greatly slow down general adoption for crypto.

The best we can expect is for BTC to keep rising… a bit. And then stabilizing. A stable market is a requirement for widespread adoption and use.

People can’t trade using a coin that’s constantly changing its value, after all. BTC stabilizing would help bring stability to the market as a whole, which might lead a few high-profile companies to start accepting some cryptocurrencies for payments.

If enough of these companies do so, we’ll start seeing widespread use of crypto.

Adolph Obasogie is a Partner at Harrison Global Capital. Get firsthand info from help@harrisonglobalcapital.com