Tag: Improve

Crowdsourcing is reshaping the way we think about the marketplace. Why? Because it simulates an open market environment very well. It allows providers to swarm into a market space and sell products and services to consumers, tailoring what they offer to consumer preferences. The swarm of consumers and providers grows, and affordability and quality improve as competition increases. All it takes is a well-designed technology platform which provides the necessary tools for products and services to be traded with reliable and sufficient information.

Peer-to-peer (p2p) solutions, enabled by web 2.0 and mobile technologies, are applying the crowdsourcing paradigm and setting the stage for a more efficient method for customer acquisition, service delivery and sourcing of funds. Some see crowdsourcing as a process of ‘disintermediation’, which is limiting reliance on sales agents, middlemen, brokers etc. and reducing transaction costs.

In the consumer lending sphere, ‘crowdfunding’ has emerged and has brought a fresh perspective on how we think about addressing some persistent issues of accessibility and affordability of financial services.

Two Bay Area based companies – Lending Club and Prosper – are the early birds. Both companies are offering crowdfunding services to borrowers and lenders, through which any individual or institution can lend to or borrow from each other, based on the borrower’s pre-assigned credit-risk rating and the lender’s preferences and risk tolerance. The uptake for the service has been strong – the two companies have reported that in 2011, monthly loan originations doubled to $30 million and tripled to $11 million through Lending Club and Prosper respectively. 24,000 new customers signed up on Lending Club and the platform originated a quarter billion dollars worth of new loans in 2011, more than doubling the previous four years combined. These loans were priced with net annualized interest rates ranging between 5.82% and 12.15%.

It is important to note that these two companies are not focusing on providing services which cater directly to the needs of underbanked consumers, who typically borrow in small amounts and have limited or no credit histories. Lending Club originates loans with an average size of $10,945 and rejects 90% of the loan applications it receives. The reason underbanked consumers are not a priority for these two companies is because of regulatory bottlenecks. The Securities and Exchange Commission regulates p2p loans like securities, with pricing based on assigned risk categories using borrower credit reports. This automatically creates a selection bias for consumers with established credit histories and eliminates most underbanked consumers from the pool of potential borrowers.

Structuring p2p lending platforms like auction markets, which allow market players to transact freely based on their preferences and risk tolerance, will help open-up the p2p lending market to underbanked consumers. As a first step, a regulatory framework for a true auction based loan products market needs to be developed and introduced.

Crowdfunding is a frontier market space, which has immense potential to be scaled to improve the availability of high-quality, low-cost credit options for underbanked consumers. Considering the high level of connectivity, visibility and traceability that p2p platforms offer, p2p lending could prove to be a promising solution, particularly for consumers with weak credit histories and limited access to affordable loans.

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The new year brings with it lots of well-intended resolutions, many of them financial. But it can be easy to procrastinate on money matters when you’re unaware of the consequences of inaction or unsure whether you’re making the right decisions.

Even for a financial planner, the process of setting and achieving financial goals can be overwhelming. This past year, although I focused on specific aspects of my finances, I didn’t take the time to identify important life goals for the year. I did not use my money to ensure that I was enriching my life.

So, like many others, I’m rededicating myself to the process as a New Year’s resolution. To organize and improve your finances in the year ahead, dedicate time each week to following these eight steps:

1. Set goals

Discuss your short- and long-term goals with your family, spouse or significant other. If you’re single, create a list for yourself. This is the most important step. Ask yourself what you want to have, to do, and to be over the next six or 12 months. Be as specific as you can and brainstorm as many items as possible. Next, prioritize these items by picking your top four or five. Assign a realistic cost to these goals to see if they are achievable within your budget.

2. Develop a new budget

Review last year’s spending and determine how it aligns with your values and your goals. Then, develop a new budget using last year’s as a benchmark. Shift your expenses where appropriate to reflect your core values while also incorporating the top four or five priorities from Step 1. Some of these goals will have a cost associated with them; others may not.

For example, my 2021 priorities include doing some maintenance on my home, attending a Coldplay concert, taking regular art lessons, vacationing for a week with my family and good friends in Utah, and creating more balance in my life by simplifying work processes. The estimated cost for the first four items was pretty straightforward, and I added those expenses to my household budget.

Not all of your goals have to be associated with money; creating more free time in your schedule is a good example. For busy professionals, time can be more valuable than money.

3. Open multiple savings accounts

Set aside specific, separate savings accounts for some of the goals that you have established. For example, you may want to have a separate savings account for a vacation, the kids’ education, a new car purchase or a special entertainment expense.

Why separate accounts? This helps ensure that you won’t raid savings for one expenditure to use for another, making it easier for you to spend money where it matters. Also, it can be easier to part with money associated with a personal goal or expenditure if there’s an account specifically designated for that money.

4. Create a summary sheet of your net worth

This should include the value of all assets you own, such as real estate, cash, investments, the cash value of life insurance, art, jewelry and cars. Then list the amounts you owe, such as for car loans, mortgages, credit card debts and student loans. The difference between what you own and what you owe is your net worth. Ideally, your net worth is growing each year as you increase your savings for retirement and reduce your debt.

5. Summarize your insurance

Create another summary sheet for your health, life, disability, liability and long-term care insurance policies. Know when these policies expire and the basics for each one:

  • How much will you spend out of pocket in a year with your health insurance before the insurer pays in full?
  • How much would you receive in life insurance proceeds if someone in your family were to pass away?
  • How much would you receive in after-tax dollars if you were to become disabled?

You may also want to evaluate the cost of life insurance through your employer compared with the cost of an individual policy. Group life insurance plans tend to be more costly once you reach age 45.

6. Review your investments

See if your total exposure to the stock market makes sense given your risk tolerance and personality and your proximity to retirement. In general, it’s wise to reduce your risk five to seven years prior to and after retirement to avoid sharp losses during this critical time period.

7. Do an estate plan checkup

This includes checking the titling of your accounts, your beneficiary designations and your estate planning documents to see whether they still apply or whether any changes are necessary. If it’s been five or more years since your last estate-planning documents were prepared, you’ll probably need to schedule a visit with your estate-planning attorney for some revisions. If you don’t have a will, get one drafted as soon as possible. Dying without a will can create some nasty consequences for those you leave behind.

8. Organize your financial documents

Create a file for all of your financial documents, including investment accounts, wills and other estate-planning files and personal records. This should include a list of all current credit cards, your driver’s license, a list of bills and monthly debits, the location of your safe deposit box and keys, marriage and birth certificates, passports, social media and electronic passwords and accounts, and a video recording of your home contents. Any personally identifiable information should be in a secure, encrypted electronic file or in a safe deposit box.

The bottom line

Each item on this list is important, but you don’t have to everything all at once. Schedule time each week to work on your financial to-do list so it’s not so overwhelming. A certified financial planner can help you organize and optimize your financial life and work with you as your accountability partner.

Whether you work with a planner or tackle these steps on your own, it’s important to set yearly goals and do the work to simplify and improve your financial picture.

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Many of us struggle with the sense of self-confidence that usually arises from us. Moreover, in the midst of facing the current pandemic that has shaken our world of work as well. Here are some tips on how to make ourselves remain confident and charismatic in the midst of a pandemic, quoted from the Wolipop website.

Chat with Yourself

Brooke Lindsay is an expert of confidence that often uploads videos on YouTube. In a recent video, he also talked about how to make a good impression on everyone. In addition to association, this is certainly also important for a career. One of the first ways is by chatting with yourself.

“What you say to yourself reflects and impacts your confidence around other people. Only if you believe in yourself can you be more confident and charismatic,” Brooke said.

What do you have to say to yourself? Make sure that you are a valuable, smart, and beautiful person in your own way. This also needs to be done by knowing yourself to find out what are the strengths that can be ‘sold’.

Don’t Be a ‘Mean Girl’

Brooke says you also have to get rid of the ‘inner mean girl’ inside. According to Brooke many women become ‘bitchy’ or closed not by accident. They do it because the environment continues to say they are not good enough. For that, get rid of the notion that you are not a person ‘shining’ to increase self-confidence and positive aura.

Improve Body Language

Quite often people who have positive charisma and aura have distinctive body language. Gestur becomes the second thing you need to fix afterward. No need to try to be someone else, starting to improve body language with eye contact to use your hands when talking.

“Consider eye contact, how you use your hands when you talk, if your hands are crossed, facial expressions, and how you open yourself will have an effect. Stand up straight, remind yourself that you have important things to say,” he said.

Dare to Speak

People who speak with confidence will appear more charismatic and magnetic. People who tend to be shy may find it difficult to work on but this is worth doing. Expressing your opinion out loud can also make you trusted by your boss at work.

“Speaking confidently comes from knowing that you deserve and understanding what you want to add to the conversation means. Take small steps and know what suits you, it can be like joking or agreeing with someone’s opinion and then building a topic,” Brooke said.

Make Others Comfortable

Charismatic people usually don’t just focus on themselves. They are generally also good at making other people feel comfortable even more open. One key is to listen and respond well to people. If the person feels heard and cared for, it is not uncommon that they will trust you more for work.

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A recent study conducted by Timothy Gubler and Lamar Pierce from the Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis shows that poor physical health is driven by the same psychological factors that determine whether or not you contribute to your retirement plan at work.  See this related article in the NY Times:

In the study, employees who contributed regularly to their 401(k) plan were not only more likely to take steps to improve their health but also had a 27 percent improvement in their blood scores. “Non-contributors continued to suffer health declines,” the paper said.

This study underscores the importance of having a mindset that is focused on planning for the future.

The same mentality that drives you to increase your 401K contributions also inspires you to enhance health measures such as weight and blood pressure. The participants who improved their health scores were incentivized to make changes to their physical health after receiving information and education from the study coordinators. Once informed, they took the appropriate action and their health improved.

Whereas some people are motivated to save and are more future-oriented, others apparently only act when they are forced to make a change. This is something I see frequently in my practice. The clients who are able to pull together their financial statements easily and quickly and who are more organized and committed, fare far better than those who are not as concerned about the future and do not have their financial life organized and top of mind. The key is to be intentional about making the changes you need to improve your future. Helping the client creating a clear vision of the future often helps motivate someone who up to that point had been procrastinating savings and unwilling to address key areas of his or her financial life that needed to be addressed.

A fee only financial planner can act as a personal fiscal fitness coach to provide motivation as well as a well defined action plan to ensure that steps are taken to improve the clients financial independence now and in the future.

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Trying to get a job is really all about the interview part and how well you answer the questions. Most people will admit that they get very nervous during an interview and certain questions will be tougher than others. Though you should feel relaxed, it is actually natural to feel nervous, but you should not allow this to stop you from answering correctly. The best way to be able to feel confident is to come to the interview fully prepared. This means that you should have practiced several questions beforehand so that you will have a few ideas ready before you answer.

Common Interview Question – What is Your Biggest Strength?

One of the most common yet most difficult questions that you will be asked is “What is your biggest strength?” In order to answer this question, you will need to first take these things into consideration.

Be Creative

If you want to stand out from everyone else, you will need to be creative. This means that you simply cannot say “I work hard and I want to be the best.” Try to be as detailed as possible and to outline what your strengths truly are. Depending on what the interview is for, you will be able to prepare beforehand what your strengths can be and how they will help the company out. The interviewer will only have one thing in mind and all they are thinking about is what you can do for the company. If your strength is something that can truly help the company, they will surely consider hiring you. The trick is to figure out what it is you can bring to the table and how you will be able to tell them.

Be Honest

The most important thing to do during any interview is make sure that you are honest. Lying will lead to more problems and it will certainly not do you any good. When you are trying of your strengths, remember that you must not over estimate what you can do. This can often be tough for some people who truly want to get the job but it is very important that you stay honest. Remember that when you are honest, you will be able to speak clearer and you will not stutter during your interview. Some people will get into the habit of lying during an interview but even though you get hired, you will then be expected to perform those strengths.

Be Sincere

Being sincere during the whole interview is very important. The people that conduct the interviews have seen thousands of interviews and so they know exactly when a person is being sincere or not. This is why it is very important to practice as much as you can beforehand so that you will be able to simply repeat what you will be doing. As easy as this may sound, it really just depends on how you deliver the words that you are going to be saying. It is also very important that you do not want to sound arrogant when you are talking about your strengths and you simply want to state them as humble as possible.

Common Interview Question – What is Your Biggest Weakness?

Another of the most common interview questions is “What is your biggest weakness?” This is a question that a lot of people have trouble with, and so it is a good idea to prepare for this question beforehand so that you will be comfortable answering it when you are in that position. If you are serious about being able to answer this question perfectly, take these simple things into consideration.

Identify Your Weakness

Though this might seem like common sense, it is a good idea to first have your weaknesses laid out on paper. Look through your weaknesses and figure out which weakness is the worst. This is very important because you simply do not want to stutter during your interview without a clear answer. Remember that answering “on the go” is simply the best way to mess up and ruin your interview. Focus on first identifying your weaknesses and then choose which one to share.

Avoid Telling The Whole Truth

Though this may not seem like the best advice, it is a good idea to avoid saying a weakness that will hurt your chances of getting the job. This is because a company looking to hire a manager will not want someone that is “unorganized and lazy.” You will need to pick your poison and choose a weakness that you know you can improve on. Most people will make the mistake of saying a weakness that will truly ruin their chances and so you will need to choose wisely.

Choose A Weakness That Can Be Fixed

When you are trying to figure out what to say, you must remember that it should be something that you can reassure will be fixed. When you say something like “my biggest weakness is that I often read instructions correctly” then you should reassure them that you will double check everything and that you will read everything thoroughly. Remember that you need to still let the company feel comfortable with hiring you and still being able to tell your weakness.

Be Honest

The last thing that you need to remember is that you cannot lie about anything. Though you can choose what to say, remember that you cannot simply say that you have no weaknesses. Often times a company will be more open to someone who is completely honest and they will sometimes commend this. When you are being honest, you will realize that it is also very easy to speak and you will not stutter at all. This is because you are not making anything up and you will be able to simply answer their question.

Before your interview day comes, you need to feel prepared. Remember that it can be tough to practice what you will be saying repeatedly but it is the only way. Once you feel confident about what you will be answering, nothing can really go wrong. The goal is to simply walk out of the interview feeling like you did your best. Whether you get the job or not, remember that you will be going against a lot of other people and you can just chalk it up as experience. With just a little patience and hard work, you will surely be able to get that job easily.

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Bankruptcy. Debt collections. Foreclosures. These things can do serious damage to a person’s credit score. The damage can be long-lasting. But it’s not always permanent.

There are certain things you can do to repair the damage caused by a negative event, such as bankruptcy. In this article, you’ll learn the best ways to improve a credit score quickly.

7 Things That Can Ruin Your Credit

Before we go any further, we need to discuss the reasons your score might have dropped in the first place. Here’s a quick rundown of the most harmful items:

Filing for personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or 13)
Having your home foreclosed upon
Missing payments, or making late payments, on a credit card or loan
Having an account “charged off” by a creditor or lender
Defaulting on a loan
Having a debt sent to a collection agency
Maxing out your credit card limits

Below, you’ll learn the best ways to improve a credit score after any of these negative events. The damage done by these things will vary, depending on several factors. For example, a single late payment on a credit account could lower your FICO score anywhere from 50 to 100 points. So it’s hard to assign exact numbers to these events. Just know that the steps outlined below have the potential to restore your credit quickly.

The Best Ways to Improve Your Score

No matter how bad your credit is right now, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t say exactly how long it will take you to rebuild your credit rating — nobody can. There are too many variables for such a prediction. But I can tell you the even that most significant damage can be ameliorated over time. I have personally seen someone go from a 550 FICO score to a 720 in just over a year’s time. Below, we will discuss some of the steps she took to improve her credit rating so quickly.

Let’s take a look at the five primary factors that influence your FICO score. We also need to talk about the relative strength they have, in terms of helping or harming your credit.

This chart shows five categories of information that can affect your FICO credit score. But I want to direct your attention to two of the categories in particular. You’ll notice that the dark-blue and red slices of the pie, when combined, account for 65% of your score. You’ll also notice that the next-largest slice (yellow) is determined by the length of your credit history, which is something you can’t really control.

What does all of this mean? It means that if you want to see quick results, you should focus your energy on the blue and red sections. Those are the best ways to improve your credit score quickly. So let’s talk more about those two areas:

1. Bill Payments — Steady as She Goes!

Your payment history can make or break your score, all on its own. Earlier I mentioned that a single late payment of 90 days could lower your FICO rating by more than 100 points. That’s a significant amount of damage for a single negative event. That’s why it’s critical that you make all of your payments on time.

In this context, I am primarily referring to the types of accounts that show up on your credit reports. These include retail charge cards, car loans, credit cards and the like. If you haven’t done so already, you should get copies of your reports. AnnualCreditReport.com is the official website for this purpose.

2. Amounts Owed — Pay Down Those Balances!

I know, it’s often easier said than done. But if you can pay down your credit card balances (or any other form of revolving debt that you have), you’ll be able to improve your score more quickly. It’s okay to have balances on one or more cards. In fact, this can help you improve your score over time. But the key is to maintain low balances, relative to the card’s limit.

This is referred to as your utilization ratio. A higher ratio will result in a lower FICO score. Create a payment plan that allows you to reduce your balances over time. It’s one of the best ways to improve your credit score quickly.

These are certainly not the only things that affect your rating. But they are two of the most important factors. You can clearly see this when you look at the pie chart presented above. Remember, this strategy is intended to help you rebuild your score as fast as possible.

If you want to see some significant changes in months, as opposed to years, you need to start with the “Big 2″ items described above. There is no getting around this. Stay on top of your bills — don’t let a single bill become delinquent. And do whatever you can to reduce the balances on your existing credit accounts.

I’d like to move on to talk about another strategy you can use to boost your credit rating. It actually piggybacks on the “payment history” concept mentioned earlier.
How Long Does it Take?

No one can tell you how long it will take to improve your credit score. If somebody claims to know this information, they are probably trying to sell you something. Even the people who developed the FICO scoring model admit that it’s impossible to make such predictions. Earlier, I said I knew someone who boosted her score from 550 to 720 in just over a year. This is true. But her situation may be much different from yours.

Here’s one thing we know: It generally takes longer to recover from a history of negative events, as opposed to an isolated event. If I have a bankruptcy filing on my credit record, but it’s the only negative entry on my reports, I’ll probably recover much faster than somebody with a dozen negative entries.

The speed with which you implement these strategies will also play a role. For instance, consider the reduction of credit card balances we talked about earlier. You’ll probably be able to rebuild your credit rating faster if you reduce your balances quickly, as opposed to “chipping away” at them over a period of months. In the latter scenario, you are improving your credit-utilization ratio much more slowly. So the results will also be more gradual in nature.

When you consider how long things can stay on your credit reports, you might be discouraged:

“Why should I even try to rebuild my credit history, if a single late payment can stay on my report for up to seven years? What’s the point? Can I make any improvements in the meantime?”

Yes, a negative entry can stay on your report for a long time. But you can actually boost your FICO score even while those negative items remain. They tend to have less impact over time. So it’s certainly worth the effort. Start with the strategies listed above — it’s the best way to improve your credit quickly.

In all honesty, it might take several years to fully recover from a catastrophic event such as bankruptcy. But you can still benefit from the incremental improvements you’ll make along the way. For instance, if you can boost your score by 50 points or so in the short term, you’ll qualify for better interest rates on loans, credit cards, etc. And the sooner you start your campaign to rebuild your credit, the sooner you’ll reach the finish line — regardless of how far away it might seem.

Important Notes: Every financial situation is different. The tips offered in this article applies to most credit situations. But there are exceptions to every rule. This information has been provided for educational purposes and should not be viewed as financial advice. I strongly encourage you to continue your research beyond this article.

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