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Clyde K. Valle

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Clyde is a business graduate interested in writing about latest news in politics and business. He enjoys writing and is about to publish his first book. He’s a pet lover and likes to spend time with family. When the time allows he likes to go fishing waiting for the muse to come.

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Planning to invest but unsure where to start?

Before rushing into an investment, you should first set out a plan to give you an idea of your next steps. To help you find success as an investor, you should take a look at this guide, which offers you step by step advice for creating an investment plan that works. 

Summarise your situation

Before you even think about investing, you need to decide what you want to achieve in the future. When making this decision, you need to be realistic and consider what you can and can’t afford, while also considering any roadblocks you have experienced in the past and what may happen in the future.

Intelligent Investments: Tips for Buying Jewelry and Precious Stones

Investment Investigations: Which Ones Have High Returns?

You should start by creating a money fact find, which will help you determine how much you can spend on an investment. To do this, you need to answer several financial-related questions, starting with stock analysis, which will help you establish your monthly budget, asset income, and any debts you owe. You can then move on to your goals and aspirations, where you will determine the stability of your income, your money objectives, and future plans. Lastly, you need to analyse yourself and your past experiences in relation to how good you are with money, your time management skills, as well as how much you’re willing to spend on an investment. All of this with offer you a mini guide which will allow you to make smart and savvy investments.

Determine your risk level

With any investment, you will face risk. Therefore, it is important to consider how you would cope with money loss and risk-related ventures. You also need to decide how much risk you’re willing to take. This usually depends on the age of the investor, as the younger you are the more risk you can afford to take.

If you have plenty of years left to invest, you should look into property investment, which comes with some risk, although should offer you massive returns. This includes both quick returns from rental income as well as long-term capital appreciation, and can be put towards your general income or used as savings to buy your dream house for retirement.

Make the right investment

Real estate is one of the most lucrative investments you can make, especially if it is done right. When choosing a property, you need to make sure you’re looking in areas where there are high rental demand and good yields. You should also look for properties with sought-after facilities, such as parking spaces, white goods, large kitchens and more.

To help you make the right investment, you need to work with experts, who know everything there is to know about property investment. They also have several properties and off-plan developments available in locations hotspots like Manchester and Liverpool, which have some of the highest rental yields in the UK. With their help, you can rest assured knowing you’ve invested in a property that will provide you with generous returns.

Monitor your investment 

While you may think your plan ends after you’ve invested, this is not the case. Instead, you need to monitor your purchase, which is a lot easier if you invest in property, as you can take a hands-on approach and perform all landlord-related tasks. This will allow you to have full control of the property and how well it’s doing, and you could even update the property to ensure it reaches its full potential to increase returns.

If you do not have the time to monitor your property constantly, you should hire a property manager or a company who will make sure that everything is running smoothly and your property is tenanted. By outsourcing these tasks, you will have more time to spend on enhancing your investment, and you could even plan to invest in another property to expand your portfolio and increase your profits.

According to official figures, the Chinese economy grew at its slowest pace since the early 1990s in Q2 of 2019.

In this year’s second quarter, China’s economy grew 6.2% from a year earlier. The result was in line with forecasts.

The country has moved to stimulate its economy this year by boosting spending and delivering tax cuts.

China is also fighting a trade war with the US which has hurt businesses and weighed on growth.

The data released on July 15 showed China’s economic growth rate slowed from 6.4% in Q1 of 2019 to 6.2% in Q2 of the same year.

China Economy Grows 6.7% in Q2 amid Trade War with US

China Economy Marks Slowest Growth in 25 Years

China becomes world’s largest economy

According to the national statistics bureau, the figures pointed to a “complex environment” both at home and abroad.

It said the country’s economy had “performed within the reasonable range” in the first half of 2019 but that it faced “new downward pressure”.

While China watchers advise caution with Beijing’s official gross domestic product numbers, the data is seen as a useful indicator of the country’s growth trajectory.

Other data showed some signs of improvement in the world’s second largest economy.

Industrial production rose 6.3% in June from a year earlier, while retail sales rose 9.8% year-on-year – both above forecasts in Reuters polls.

Slowing growth in China has raised concerns about the potential knock-on effect on the global economy.

Earlier this year China announced plans to boost spending and cut billions of dollars in taxes in an effort to support the economy.

It has also moved to provide a liquidity boost by reducing the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve.

The US-led trade war is another factor weighing on growth.

While the US and China agreed to resume trade talks at a recent G20 summit in Japan, they have already placed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods, hurting businesses and casting a shadow over the world economy.

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World No 1 Novak Djokovic saved two championship points in Wimbledon’s longest singles final to retain his title in a thrilling win over world No 2 Roger Federer.

Roger Federer led Novak Djokovic 8-7 40-15 on his serve in the final set but the Serb fought back to win 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in four hours and 57 minutes.

Novak Djokovic, 32, has won 16 Grand Slams – and four of the last five.

The Swiss said letting slip two championship points in his Wimbledon final loss to Novak Djokovic was “such an incredible opportunity missed”.

Image source Reuters

Wimbledon 2019: Simona Halep Wins Her Second Grand Slam Title after Beating Serena Williams

Wimbledon 2018: Novak Djokovic Wins Fourth Title after Beating Kevin Anderson

US Open 2015: Novak Djokovic Beats Roger Federer to Win His 10th Grand Slam Title

It is the second time Roger Federer, 37, has been involved in the longest singles final at Wimbledon – and ended up losing too – after he was beaten by Rafael Nadal in 2008.

Roger Federer has lost his past five meetings with Novak Djokovic in Grand Slams, last beating the Serb at Wimbledon in 2012.

He still holds the all-time men’s Grand Slam record of 20 singles titles but Novak Djokovic now has 16 with Rafael Nadal on 18.

Roger Federer, who during Wimbledon set two new landmarks in winning his 100th match at the championships and his 350th match at a Grand Slam, said holding the record was not what motivated him as a player.

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Former world  No 1tennis player Simona Halep won her first Wimbledon title after beating another former No 1, Serena Williams.

The Romanian crushed Serena Williams’ latest bid for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam success with a devastating 56-minute display of athleticism.

Simona Halep, 27, won 6-2,6-2, in front of an incredulous Centre Court, running after everything the American threw at her.

“It was my best match,” she said after her second Grand Slam title following her 2018 French Open success.

For Serena Williams, 37, it was a third major final defeat in 12 months.

“She played out of her mind, it was a little bit deer in the headlights for me,” she said.

Image source WTA Tennis

French Open 2018: Simona Halep Wins Her First Grand Slam Title After Beating Sloane Stephens

Indian Wells 2015: Simona Halep wins BNP Paribas Open final after beating Jelena Jankovic

WTA Finals 2014: Simona Halep beats Serena Williams with 6-0, 6-2

Serena Williams, like in last year’s final defeat by Angelique Kerber, seemed weighed down by public and personal expectations as she quickly fell 4-0 behind in the opening set.

Simona Halep had said beforehand that she had no pressure on her and that is exactly how she played.

Defeat means Serena Williams’ wait for a first Grand Slam title since becoming a mum continues, as does her pursuit of an eighth Wimbledon singles title.

Simona Halep had lost nine of her previous 10 meetings with Serena Williams.

She has now won the past two Grand Slam finals she has appeared in, having been defeated in the three before that. Serena Williams has lost her past three.

Although 56 minutes is a quick victory, it is some way off the fastest Grand Slam final win – Steffi Graf’s 34-minute French Open win of 1988.

Simona Halep, who began the championships as world No 7, will rise to No 4 when the next rankings are published on Monday, July 15.

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Financial emergencies can hit anybody at any time. Even if you know how to save money effectively and have built up an emergency fund to assist you during a financial crisis, there will be times in your life where you need a lot of money quickly to maintain your quality of life.

There are many different types of financial emergencies that can drain your emergency fund and force you to look outward for additional money. With that said, some financial emergencies are more common than others.

Common Financial Emergencies:

  • Medical bills
  • Funeral expenses
  • Car trouble
  • Cost of living increases
  • Household repairs
  • Job loss

Various Ways to Cover an Unexpected Financial Emergency

When a financial emergency hits, like the ones listed above, it can create a heavy mark on your life. You will need quick financial relief to handle this unforeseen situation, and luckily, there may be several options you could take advantage of.

Using Your Existing Emergency Fund

If you have an emergency fund, you may be tempted to deplete it when you need money to resolve a current predicament. But this may not be the best option for your finances.

Emergency funds are set in place to cushion you from financial instability, but depending on your current situation, you may be better off looking for funds elsewhere. It’s recommended that you only use your emergency funds for those once-in-a-lifetime catastrophes.

But if you must, make sure you use no more than 50% of whatever funds you have managed to save so far. This way you still have an emergency fund for any other financial dilemmas in the future.

Acquiring Money from Friends or Family

There are many great perks to borrowing funds from family and friends, however, just as many pitfalls.

This funding method may not be an option for many, as the amount needed to cover the full cost of a financial emergency may be too great. But if you’re able to acquire the money you need from a family member or friend, then you could save on interest rates and pesky fees. Not to mention, the repayment terms could be incredibly flexible. But there could be many repercussions if the exchange is not handled with care.

If your financial situation doesn’t improve, then you could risk the relationship you have with the individual you borrowed money from. If the terms of the loan were not gone over in detail, the miscommunication could cause a rift in the relationship between you and the family member or friend. 

Using a Quick Payday Loan

If you need a lot of monetary funds to cover the total cost of the financial crisis you are facing, then you may have thought about applying for a payday loan.

Payday loans are unsecure loans, meaning that no collateral is needed to acquire the loan. This is great news, as you do not have to risk a valuable asset like a sentimental piece of jewelry. But while payday loans offer quick financial relief to those facing an emergency with a deadline, they may not be the best option.

These quick relief loans come with many setbacks, such as:

  • High interest rates
  • Short repayment terms (2 weeks)
  • Hidden fees

The name is reflective of the repayment terms, as repayment is typically expected by the borrowers upcoming payday. If you don’t have the full loan amount plus fees by then, you risk incurring even more fees and falling further into debt.

Applying for a Convenient Title Loan

Title loans are another borrowing option that many people turn to. Just as popular as payday loans, with significantly better terms.

Title loans, unlike payday loans, are secure loans. Unfortunately, this means that collateral will be required—in the form of a car. To obtain a title loan, the borrower uses the car as collateral by giving the title to the lender for the duration of the loan.

This downside may not be so grim though, as many lenders allow the borrower to keep driving their car while making payments. And since the loan is secure, the lender may offer better terms.

Title loans could offer borrowers the following benefits:

  • Longer loan terms (up to a few years!)
  • Flexible eligibility requirements
  • Quick approval and funding
  • Competitive interest rates

Title loans are a great funding option for those facing a financial emergency due to their ease and convenience. Credit is typically not the main qualifying factor with title loans, making them easier to acquire than most other types of loans.  

Consider the many funding options available to you, including using your emergency fund, payday loans, and title loans. Consider how much you need and how long you would need to repay any money you borrow. Financial emergencies can pop up out of the blue, but you don’t have to be left adrift.    

President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, have agreed to resume trade talks, easing a long row that has contributed to a global economic slowdown.

The US and China reached agreement at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

President Trump also said he would allow US companies to continue to sell to the Chinese tech giant Huawei, in a move seen as a significant concession.

He had threatened additional trade sanctions on China.

However, after the meeting on the sidelines of the main G20 summit in Japan, President Trump confirmed that the US would not be adding tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

He also said he would continue to negotiate with China “for the time being”.

At a subsequent press conference, President Trump declared that US technology companies could again sell to China’s Huawei – effectively reversing a ban imposed last month by the US commerce department.

The US and China have been fighting a damaging trade war over the past year.

Donald Trump accused China of stealing intellectual property and forcing US companies to share trade secrets in order to do business in China, which in turn said US demands for business reform were unreasonable.

The feud escalated in the months leading up to the G20 summit, after talks between the two countries collapsed in May.

The truce signals a pause in hostilities rather than a resolution of the dispute, which has caused market turbulence and hit global growth.

President Trump said his meeting with President Xi was “excellent, as good as it was going to be,” adding: “We discussed a lot of things and we’re right back on track and we’ll see what happens.”

US and China Agree to Halt New Trade Tariffs for 90 Days

US to Impose New Tariffs on Chinese Handbags, Rice and Textiles

President Trump Threatens $100 Billion More in China Tariffs

China Imposes New Tariffs of Up to 25% on 128 US Imports

China’s state news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi as saying: “China and the US have highly integrated interests and extensive co-operation areas and they should not fall into so-called traps of conflict and confrontation.”

Washington has publicly said Huawei’s technology poses a national security risk, although President Trump has also linked the issue to the trade dispute.

Last month, the US banned Huawei from buying US goods without a license – including from Google, which is crucial to many of its products. The ban could cost the firm $30 billion in revenue this year.

President Trump’s decision to allow US companies to continue to sell to Huawei “where there’s no great national security problem” could be a substantial concession, although exactly how this will play out remains unclear.

He said the Huawei situation would be dealt with “at the very end” of trade talks.

The next summit is due to be held in Saudi Arabia in November 2020.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has continued to face questions in Japan over the murder in Istanbul last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the matter is likely to rumble on.

The UK and Turkey are among the countries still pressing the issue, although President Trump says “no-one blames” the Saudi crown prince.

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Auto liability insurance is neither the most expensive nor the shortest lived thing on a used car. Still, it is sold, rather expensive. No matter if in the car dealership or in the free car market. The car trade lives from it, and that is probably no secret about it.

Check the car market using VIN codes

Vehicle Identification Number helps find information about the car’s place of manufacture. And that’s where we start.

Moreover, in the car trade, there are many online services that provide data on the internals of the car. It is also advisable to look under the hood. Check how the windscreen wipers work. Check if the power windows are not replaced. Check if the front passenger door does not have the stickers you should find on the driver’s door. The next thing worth checking is the insurance.

Which type of insurance should you take?

Here is what you should know when selecting the type of insurance, such as:

  • Liability (damage you inflict on others)
  • The partial coverage in case of, well, partial damage. It may be a broken glass, theft and the likes. A deductible up to 2,500 USD is possible.

Insurance broker or online check?

There are classic insurance brokers who come home when you buy your new old car and help you fill out the application forms. Almost all major insurance companies, by the way, operate a network of full-time and part-time brokers. These guys are familiar with the topic of CheapAutoInsurance. They are also experts in all things “insurance” their bosses have to offer.

Direct insurers can offer cheaper car rates than established companies because of a lean administrative system. You can use the financial advantage for yourself. Auto insurance comparison can help you find a cheap insurance policy with the right range of benefits.

Key Facts

Here is the information you should have at hand:

  1. Type of your vehicle
  2. Regional class
  3. Damage-free discounts in liability and comprehensive insurance. Those who remain accident-free get higher discounts every year
  4. Type of insurance, liability, partial or full insurance

If you buy a used car, you have the option to take over the car insurance from the previous owner. The contract would be written anew, in your name, and the contribution is recalculated according to your personal conditions (for example, your current non-breach class). Still, the majority used car buyers do not make use of this option, but immediately conclude new car insurance with a provider of their choice.

Full insurance and partial coverage in comparison

These two are different. Direct insurers can offer cheaper car rates than established companies because of a lean administrative system. You can use the financial advantage for yourself. Auto insurance comparison can help you find a cheap insurance policy with the right range of benefits.

Summary

The insurance benefits vary at the motor insurers. In liability insurance, the companies are unanimous. It is different in the case of comprehensive insurance. Inform yourself in time about the current additional options, which are currently included in your car insurance. Do you really need all the additional modules? Calculate your contribution to the motor insurance premium best with and without additional options. If you choose workshop binding instead, you will not be able to have your vehicle repaired at any garage without any problem, but the annual fee for your car premium will be considerably lower.

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There will come the point in almost everyone’s life in which they’ll ask the question, “Do I need a loan?”

No matter the reason behind the loan, there are other questions you want to ask yourself before you get one. These questions help you decide if the loan is the best option, or if there are other avenues to explore first.

Before taking out a loan, ask yourself the following five questions.

What is the Purpose of the Loan?

First, you should have a reason as to why you’re taking out a loan. If it’s simply to have more money in your bank account, that likely isn’t the best reason.

If you have a goal in mind and that loan will help you achieve it, then borrowing some money may be what you need.

The goal you have in mind will also help you decide on what type of loan to get. Maybe you’re working on starting a business, in which a business loan would be something to look at. Alternatively, you could require a small cash boost for an unforeseen expense such as car repairs in which payday loans could be an option providing you’ll be able to meet the repayments.

How Much Do I Really Need?

It’s important to know exactly how much you need.

Take some time to get as close of an estimate as possible before going for your loan. You want to find a balance between taking out the minimum amount, and also having enough to pay what you need.

What Will My Monthly Payments Look Like?

One of the biggest questions to ask yourself is what your monthly payments will look like, and if you can afford them. Your answer to this one will ultimately determine if you should go forward with the loan or not.

You can use online loan calculators to give you a general idea of your payments. Add that into your monthly budget to see if you’ll have enough money to pay it off.

What Are the Interest Rates?

Interest rates play a critical role in getting a loan. Each month, a percentage of interest rates gets added to your monthly payments. It’s easy to forget about those rates which make a loan more expensive than initially planned.

Remember, the longer you take to pay back the loan, the more you pay in interest fees. Factor in the interest rates to see if you can afford to pay more than the minimum payments.

Do I Qualify for the Loan?

Do you meet all the requirements for the loan? Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for, there may be strict qualifications you have to keep in mind.

Your credit score factors into almost any loan you get. Too low of a credit score and you’ll likely be denied the loan. Other factors include if you have other debt and what your monthly income looks like.

These five questions will help you decide if a loan is the best option for you, and which type of loan you should get. Speak with your potential lender about these questions. You wouldn’t want to take out a loan to only fall into debt.

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The way you deal with the sourcing and management of inventory within your company can have a direct impact on your profitability. When you aren’t doing this correctly – it can stop your business operating as it should and in effect lose you money. We discuss further in this article.

Look at Inventory Cost

The cost of purchasing and producing inventory plays a large part in what your gross profit will be. Gross profit is the net sales minus your cost of goods. When there are less costs involved when it comes to purchasing inventory – this means the cost of goods sold will decrease. When there is a bigger gross profit, this can in turn translate to higher profit in general. Regularly check in and negotiate with suppliers to see if there are any savings that can be made anywhere.

Inventory Method

There are lots of different methods that can be used for inventory accounting. The most commonly used are First In, First Out, and Last In, First Out. If there are lots of different pricing fluctuations when it comes to inventory costs – this can then directly affect the costs of goods sold.

Level of Inventory

If you overstock – then you are creating storage expense, and potentially labour costs that aren’t necessary. You are also taking up valuable space. On the other hand – if you don’t have enough inventory, then you could suffer from a decrease in revenue and profitability. That’s why it’s important to make sure you get the balance right when it comes to your stock levels. Make sure if you have limited cash flow – that you don’t tie up your money in inventory that isn’t required at that stage.

Inventory Turnover

The turnover of inventory will have a significant effect on how profitable your company is. If you continue to stock items that are no longer selling, will slow down your revenue stream. If you have an accurate idea of which items are the most popular and selling the most – then this will ensure that you continue to get a high number of sales. You need to take the demand levels into careful consideration before you purchase any more stock.

How to Manage Effectively

There are great software’s out there that will help you to manage this effectively. For example, SysAid’s IT inventory management software will allow you to track what stock you have, give you a good idea of how fast products are going. This will allow you to take appropriate action so you can have the correct stock levels and increase your profit overall. It will also allow you to allocate the correct resource levels – so you can manage their time more effectively.

The key takeaway from this article is to understand that asset inventory and management can have a direct effect on the profitability of your business, and to take necessary measures to ensure this is regularly monitored and there are processes in place.

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The Hong Kong dollar is a unique currency for lots of reasons. That’s why traders need to be doubly careful when they decide to take part in the popular USD/HKD Forex market. Hong Kong’s dollar is heavily traded but also completely regulated, unlike most other major world currencies. Many new traders avoid the USD/HKD pair and prefer to stick to more familiar currencies that behave in more traditional ways.

After several months of Forex experience, traders often gravitate to the USD/HKD pair and investigate it further. Like so many other currency pairs, it helps to be diligent and leave emotions out of the equation. For those who finally make the decision to trade this intriguing pair, it’s necessary to follow some of the tried-and-true Forex guidelines even more carefully.

Use Simple Strategies

New traders often feel the need to jump in and employ dozens of complex strategies with the hope that complexity leads to profit. On the contrary, many of the most successful traders use simple strategies when trading Forex, stocks, ETFs or bonds. Especially for traders who have less than one year of experience, it’s smartest to work with just one or two strategies that you know rather than six you barely understand. As you can see here, a professional platform makes a big difference because its automated features can free traders from having to worry about detailed strategies. For USD/HKD enthusiasts, a simple trading method is all that’s needed.

Study the Market and Specialize

Perhaps more than any other frequently-traded currency, the HKD calls for a good deal of research before any trades are made. It’s even more helpful for traders to specialize in the USD/HKD pair. That’s one way of developing a decent amount of expertise and depth in a pair that has as many unique characteristics as this one.

Never Break Your Trading Rules

Sticking to your personal trading rules is always a good idea, but when it comes to the USD/HKD pair, it’s almost a necessity. So many traders become frustrated after putting time and effort into a trade that ends up showing no profit. It happens to the best of them but is a tough pill to swallow sometimes. One common reason for losing trades is lack of discipline. A trader who has a rule about stopping losses can easily get caught up in the mindset that “things will get better soon,” and end up losing more on a given trade than personal rules would have allowed. Letting emotion get the best of you is not the path to success in trading the USD/HKD pair.

Understand the Uniqueness of the Hong Kong Economy

Hong Kong’s economy is unique in the developed world because its political structure is still in a state of flux. For a hundred years, Hong Kong was governed by the U.K. and enjoyed a free-market environment like no other place on earth. After political control reverted to China, the Communist regime of that country has pretty much allowed Hong Kong to itself but institutional traders worry about the future of the currency. For this reason and many others, traders need to spend extra time researching any USD/HKD trade before jumping into a position.

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IMF chief Christine Lagarde has warned that giant tech companies might cause significant disruption to the world’s financial system.

She said just a few companies with big data access and artificial intelligence could run the global payment and settlement arrangements.

Christine Lagarde’s warning came as the G20 finance ministers met in the Japan’s south-western city of Fukuoka.

The G20 summit is also discussing the need to close tax loopholes for internet giants like Facebook and Google.

One of the options being considered is to tax such companies where they make their profits – rather than where they base their headquarters.

She said: “A significant disruption to the financial landscape is likely to come from the big tech firms.”

IMF Revises Down US and UK Economies Growth Forecasts

IMF Cuts US Economy Growth Forecasts

The International Monetary Fund head said such companies “will use their enormous customer bases and deep pockets to offer financial products based on big data and artificial intelligence”.

“This presents a unique systemic challenge to financial stability and efficiency,” she added.

Christine Lagarde cited China as a most recent example.

She said: “Over the last five years, technology growth in China has been extremely successful and allowed millions of new entrants to benefit from access to financial products and the creation of high-quality jobs.

“But it has also led to two firms controlling more than 90% of the mobile payments market.”

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While it is often confused with a life settlement, a viatical settlement actually has some notable differentiating factors regarding how it works and the circumstances of eligibility. A life settlement is when a policyholder sells their life insurance policy for a cash payout. This is typically done when the insured no longer needs the policy, can no longer keep up with the premiums, or if they would simply rather have a smaller payout sooner to cover their financial needs. Viatical settlements, on the other hand, are less common and pursued specifically by those with serious illnesses and short life expectancies. The policy holder sells their life insurance policy to a third-party buyer, usually at a significantly discounted rate, in exchange for an immediate payout. This is usually done because the seller needs financial assistance dealing with their illness.

Viatical settlement history

Viatical settlements have existed along with life settlements since the 1911 Supreme Court ruling in Grigsby v. Russell where it was decided that life insurance policies are personal property that may be lawfully sold to third parties. They didn’t become prominent, however, until the AIDS epidemic of the 80s where young people were suddenly facing the possibility of dying from the disease in just a few years. By selling their life insurance policies, many were able to afford medical treatments that could extend, and in some cases even save, their lives.

Seller qualifications

A seller needs to meet three basic criteria in order to qualify for a viatical settlement. First, they must have a terminal illness with a life expectancy in the timeframe of two to four years. Second, the policy needs to have been in effect for at least two years. Finally, the policy must come to a value of $100,000 or more.

All life insurance policies are acceptable, whether they’re term or permanent policies. There are still a variety of factors, however, that can affect the payout of a viatical settlement. Such factors may include the seller’s illness and its stage, individual policies of companies and brokers involved, the death benefit of the policy, and any other factors deemed relevant.

 Why pursue a viatical settlement?

One of the most common reasons to pursue a viatical settlement is because the seller simply can’t afford their insurance premiums any longer. The settlement frees them from this financial burden and also provides a payout for the seller to pursue medical care or other needs. This is a particularly good choice if the seller no longer has anyone relying on the death benefit of their policy.

A viatical settlement can also be a good choice when a term policy is nearly expired. Instead of letting it run out, it may be possible to convert to a whole policy and sell it. It’s also worth looking into selling a policy if it’s about to lapse. Most companies offer a grace period before the policy lapses from non-payment, and even a small payout is better than just wasting the policy. 

Advantages over other options

There are two main advantages to a viatical settlement over other options for those inclined. A viatical settlement will almost always provide a larger payout than other forms of financial assistance. Viatical settlements also have a specific advantage over life settlements in that they are tax free. They can often be the best option for a seller to improve their quality of life during the time they have left. If one decides to pursue this option, it’s often as easy as a brief application and a payout within days, if a buyer is found.

Imagine your life without a car. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Cars make our life simple, comfortable, and more efficient. However, cars come with their own hazards. Globally, close to 3,700 people meet their untimely death through road traffic accidents.

You read that right: a whopping 3,700 individuals.

If you have a family, the risks are even much higher. When it comes to the death of children and young adults between the ages of 5 to 29 years, road traffic accidents are the foremost cause. If you’ve ever experienced a road accident or you know anyone who has been in a road accident, you know how harrowing and devastating such experiences can be.

Thus, any feature that can ensure your car is safe should not be sneered at. Such measures should be wholeheartedly embraced and implemented. Here are three such measures (accessories).

Auto Emergency Braking

Cars with an Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) are 38% less likely to collide with another car. That’s how efficient an AEB feature is.

An AEB feature slows down your car or completely stops it in the event of a looming accident. It works by alerting the driver of an impending crash, but if the driver fails to take action, the AEB feature takes over and brings the car to a halt.

So, when you decide to purchase a new car, make sure you find a car that has an AEB fitted. For various manufacturers, an AEB feature may have another name. For instance, with Mazda, it is called the Smart City Brake Support while Mitsubishi calls it the Forward Collision Mitigation.  Check with your car manufacturer or retailer to ensure your car has an AEB feature.

Ignition Interlock Device

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, someone is injured in a drunk-driving crash every 90 seconds. This makes DUI related offenses one of the leading causes of road traffic crashes.

There have been various measures implemented to curb drunk driving, particularly license suspensions. However, the most effective way to curtail drunk driving is to use an Ignition interlock device. The device is a car breathalyzer that controls a vehicle’s ignition.

The driver, before starting a car, would be required to provide a breath sample through the mouthpiece of the ignition interlock device. Once the sample returns a breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) value beyond the stipulated value (0.02 for most states in the U.S), the car will not start.

While ignition interlock devices are often mandated for people who have been convicted of drunk-driving, it is also very beneficial for any ordinary driver.

Driver Fatigue Monitoring

Driver fatigue or drowsiness is a major cause of road accidents.

Using a unique pupil identification technique, the feature analyzes the behavior of a driver’s eyes and predicts if the driver is getting drowsy and not in the state to drive.

While the specifics differ by brands, this feature usually comes with WiFi, GPS, and built-in infrared light. If there is any aberration in driving behavior (including calls, tiredness, anxiety, smoking), sound and light alarms will go off. The Driver Fatigue Monitoring tool is especially useful for long journeys.

Wrapping Up

Your life is precious. With car accidents among the leading causes of deaths globally, it is imperative that everyone takes measures to ensure their cars are safe.

Fitting your car with devices such as ignition interlock device and auto emergency braking and making sure your airbags are always functional are crucial ways to keep your car – and more importantly, yourself and your family – safe.

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Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.

The three-time world champion, who underwent a lung transplant in August 2018, “passed away peacefully” on May 20, his family announced.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us,” his family’s statement said.

Niki Lauda, one of the best-known figures in motor racing, took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977 and McLaren in 1984.

For many, the legendary Austrian will be remembered for his remarkable recovery and return to racing after being badly burned in a crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix.

A new generation of fans was introduced to Niki Lauda in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which detailed his rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion.

Image source: Wikimedia

Michael Schumacher health status: F1 champion faces long fight for recovery one year after skiing accident

Niki Lauda, who was born in Vienna in February 1949, was a motor racing legend who went on to be a successful businessman following his retirement from the sport.

However, the Austrian was probably best-known for surviving a crash during the 1976 season which left him scarred for life.

On August 1, 1976, one year after winning his first title, Niki Lauda suffered third-degree burns to his head and face and inhaled toxic gases that damaged his lungs after his vehicle burst into flames at Nurburgring.

Niki Lauda was given the last rites in hospital but made an almost miraculous recovery and returned to racing, still bandaged, just 40 days later.

After his career as a racing driver, Niki Lauda became an airline entrepreneur and, most recently, a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1 Mercedes team, instrumental in bringing in British driver Lewis Hamilton, who has won five world championships.

However, ill health followed him into his later years and he underwent a lung transplant last year.

Niki Lauda had previously had two kidney transplants, the second donated in 2005 by his then-girlfriend Birgit Wetzinger, a former flight attendant for his airline whom he married in 2008.

In January 2019, he spent 10 days in hospital while suffering from influenza.

Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from previous relationships.

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Many people dream of becoming an entrepreneur – having their own shop to sell clothes, shoes, bags and other stuff. It is a good business which can be a stable source of income. However, not many can afford the big capital required to start a store. Budget is indeed a big factor but what if we tell you that there’s a way to fulfill this dream without having to spend too much money to start with? The answer to this is the internet. You can start your shopping business online without needing big money as capital. We will share some tips on how to start a shopping business online.

  1. Come up with a winning business plan – of course you need a plan before you start your business. What are you planning to sell on your website? Do you want to sell shoes, bags, clothes and apparels or do you plan to offer other goods like baked goods or probably handmade jewelries other products? It is important to know what you will offer.
  2. Choose a remarkable domain name – your website is going to be your virtual shop thus you need to come up with a name that can be remembered by users immediately. It is best if they can easily name your site when someone asks them where they purchased what they purchased on your site.
  3. Choose reliable hosting site – It is important that your site is always up and running especially during peak hours wherein many people are browsing and potentially shopping. You should make sure to choose a web hosting site that has good reputation of having zero to low down time and with easy to contact support team.
  4. Have an SSL certificate – SSL certificate allows safe connection between your site and users’ browser. This gives confidence to users that their details are safe on your website.
  5. Design a layout that is easy to navigation – you should ensure that visitors can easily navigate your site. For example, you should immediately show them options where they should go or what they should click from homepage to go to this page or that page. Online users do not want complicated websites.
  6. Provide various payment options – it is also good practice to provide various payment options like Visa, MasterCard, direct bank transfer or 3rd party payment options like PayPal, Neteller, Skrill and others. This makes things a lot easier for customers.
  7. Publish a thorough and easy to follow step-by-step guidelines – another thing to remember is to come up with an easy step by step guide for new users on your site. You should have a guide that they can use so they know how to register, place order, pay and so on and so forth.
  8. Provide a customer hotline or support email or chat – lastly, you should provide a support contact details that users can contact in case they have questions or enquiries.

These tips will help you start your very own online shopping site and eventually fulfill your dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Just like in running a land-based business, you should work hard and be patient. Sometimes it can take a while before the business grows and starts earning so don’t lose focus.

The US has decided to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada in a move that could lead to approval for a new North American trade deal.

In a joint statement, the US and Canada announced that a 25% tariff on steel imports, and of 10% on aluminum, will end in 48 hours.

It is widely expected the US and Mexico will make a similar announcement soon.

In 2018, the US implemented the tariffs on grounds of “national security”.

Under the new agreement, there will be no quotas on how much steel or aluminum the three countries buy from overseas.

However, the US and Canada will monitor imports and if a country is determined to be buying in too much, one of the other nations can request a consultation and potentially re-impose tariffs.

Image source: Pexels

Getting rid of the tariffs is viewed as a key hurdle to approval for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal which was signed in 2018. It replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.

USMCA: US and Canada Reach New Trade Deal Replacing NAFTA

Providing that Washington and Mexico City also announce an agreement to lift levies on steel and aluminum, the US, Mexico and Canada will ask their respective governments to ratify USMCA.

It also targeted US farm goods as well as items like tomato ketchup and household products.

On May 17, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said: “These tariffs were harming workers and consumers on both sides of the border. As we look at moving forward with the new NAFTA, it didn’t make a lot of sense to continue to have tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries.”

EU steel and aluminum exports to the US are still subject to the tariffs, but there has been some good news for trade relations between the two.

On May 17, President Donald Trump delayed a decision on whether to impose levies on cars and car part imports.

The White House has put back the decision by six months to allow more time for trade talks with the EU and Japan.

Tariffs of up to 25% on imported cars and car parts were under consideration.

A report by the Commerce Department claimed that imports of foreign-made cars and auto parts into the US were a threat to national security.

The report has not been published, but in his announcement President Trump cited its findings which conclude that US carmakers are missing out on revenues to invest in research and development (R&D).

The announcement said: “The lag in R&D expenditures by American-owned producers is weakening innovation and, accordingly, threatening to impair our national security.”

President Trump said he agreed with the study’s finding that imported cars and trucks were “weakening our internal economy”.

The deal with Canada, as well as the delay in higher tariffs on EU and Japanese cars and auto parts, come at a critical time for the US and China – the world’s two biggest economies.

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You have to spend money to make money: We’re told that. While that’s true in a lot of cases, it’s not always an absolute requirement. With the right tips, you can improve sales and efficiency at your call center by just spending smarter rather than spending more.

The main issue

The research indicates that 70 percent of people switch to a business rival not because they didn’t like your products or services, but because they didn’t like the customer experience. Increase your customer satisfaction and you will see sales go up accordingly. Here’s how to spend smarter to do just that:

Go omnichannel

Change out your multichannel call center software for omnichannel. Omnichannel seamlessly coordinates communications from your customers across all possible platforms. In practicality, that means your agents can communicate via IVR calls, video or audio calls, messaging, live chat, emails, and more.

Imagine this scenario: You have an issue with a business, so you navigate to their website and pull up the live chat. After a brief conversation, a chat agent advises you to call. You do so, and now you’re talking with a whole new person.

This new person knows nothing about your issue, so you have to explain the whole thing again. Once they hear the issue, they give you another number or an email because they aren’t actually the one who can deal with your issue.

This scenario is exactly how you lose customers to other businesses, even if you have a superior product. Omnichannel call center software is how you integrate all your channels for service that customers will love.

Train your people well

All the software in the world won’t help you get sales if you don’t have the best people on the job. Too many call centers make the mistake of thinking that training is all about scripts, questions, and answers. If you’re wasting money on this sort of training, it’s time to redirect your resources.

Great call center agents need to keep their cool with an irate caller. They need to be good listeners. They need to be smart and capable with the kind of cognitive skills that make it possible to really understand and solve problems.

Great call center agents also need to know how to make good decisions. They need to be warm, polite, and understanding. Some of these traits are natural; others can be taught. Spending your money in recruiting the right people and then training them in these skills is money well-spent.

Set up as many self-service options as you can

Some people always want to talk with a live person when they have a question or issue; but many of your customers would prefer to fix their problems by themselves whenever possible.

Redesign your website by improving your FAQ section and making it easy to find. Provide a search bar that’s easy to spot and returns useful answers. Rewrite technical pages and information in layman’s terms.

You should also get good IVR call software capable of doing more with voice recognition. You want as many callers as possible to get the answer they need early on in a call. Chatbots on your website can provide a similar helpful function.

It will cost a bit to set this all up, but you make it all back, and more, quickly as customers get their questions answered fast. Better yet, pleased customers will start spending more and talk about their good experience on social media.

The bottom line

You can do lots of things to slash costs here and there; but nothing will make such a profound difference in the end as excellent service. To improve your customer service, you don’t need to make drastic, expensive changes. Instead just spend your money wisely, and then watch your profits grow as satisfied customers come back again and again.

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China stocks tumbled on May 6 after President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on Chinese goods, putting a trade deal in doubt.

President Trump announced on Twitter that the US would more than double tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods on May 3 and would introduce fresh tariffs.

Recent comments had suggested both sides were nearing a trade deal.

A Chinese delegation was due to travel to Washington this week for talks aimed at ending the trade war.

However, according to recent reports, China is now considering cancelling those talks, led by Vice-Premier Liu He, that were scheduled to resume on May 8.

Some reports said the Chinese were due to send a 100-person delegation to the negotiations.

US and China Agree to Halt New Trade Tariffs for 90 Days

US to Impose New Tariffs on Chinese Handbags, Rice and Textiles

China Imposes New Tariffs of Up to 25% on 128 US Imports

The Chinese government has yet to officially comment on President Trump’s tweets.

In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 3.7%, while the Shanghai Composite plunged 5.3%.

US stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street.

On May 3, President Trump tweeted: “For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25% on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10% on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday. 325 Billions Dollars….”

“The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!” he continued.

After imposing duties on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods last year, the US and China have been negotiating and in recent weeks, appeared to be close to striking a trade deal.

Last week US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described talks held in Beijing as “productive”.

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, having accused China of unfair trade practices.

Beijing hit back with duties on $110 billion of American goods, blaming the US for starting “the largest trade war in economic history”.

President Trump’s latest move will raise duties on more than 5,000 products made by Chinese producers, ranging from chemicals to textiles and consumer goods.

He originally imposed a 10% tariff on these goods in September that was due to rise in January, but postponed this as negotiations advanced.

However, both US and international companies have said they are being harmed by the trade war.

Fears about a further escalation caused a slump in world stock markets towards the end of last year.

The IMF has warned a full-blown trade war would weaken the global economy.

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Real estate is a wise and popular investment option for several reasons including great returns, tax benefits, and increased value over time. When hopeful investors think about obtaining financing for real estate, the set conditions from traditional lenders stop many of them in their tracks. These include high credit scores, low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, and a down payment of up to 30%.

Banks put these stringent requirements in place after the economic downturn in 2008 and sadly, not everyone can meet them. Even with all the necessary requirements, it can be a lengthy and agonizing process. Fortunately, non-conventional methods of financing have enabled eager investors to realize their dreams of becoming property owners, and in a short time.

These financing alternatives are hard money and private money. Although they both have advantages over traditional lending, they also have downsides. Borrowers must thoroughly research each alternative and each lender to ensure all is a good fit and to avoid disastrous situations.

What is Hard Money?

Hard money is a short term, asset-based type of loan. A hard money loan is suitable for purchasing land, construction, fixer-uppers, and flips. You can get it from a group of investors or a company. Unlike usual lenders, hard money lenders are more interested in the value of the property than your credit report.

The words ‘hard money’ does not imply that this financing is difficult to acquire. On the contrary, it’s quite easy. It actually defines the property being a hard asset. When borrowers have been frustrated by the banks, or they require quick financing, this is a great alternative. The typical payment period is 1 year although it can be increased up to 2-5 years.

Other requirements by lenders may include:

  • Property type
  • The geographical location (some lenders provide their services locally or to particular states)
  • Some may even ask you how many homes you flipped; the higher the number of homes you flipped that have had good repayment records lowers your interest rate
  • Borrower’s plan for the property. The lender may want to know the borrower’s intentions, for example, whether they plan to renovate the property or obtain further financing over the long run.

Properties Financed by Hard Money Loans

Any kind of property can be financed by a hard money loan, including commercial property, land, residential property and industrial property. A few lenders may specify a niche, for example, commercial and not residential. Very few lenders will transact with owner-occupied properties. They involve extra requirements and include loads of paperwork.

What is Private Money?

Private money is short-term financing borrowed from an individual who could be a friend or family member and can be used for financing real estate transactions. The characteristics and benefits are basically similar to those of hard money.

Benefits of Hard Money and Private Money

Quick Approval Process

The process of obtaining the loan from www.justrightloans.com is quick and straightforward. It can take a maximum of two weeks as opposed to a bank’s usual 30-40 days. No time is wasted on filling and signing piles of paperwork or checking your credit history. Lenders make decisions fast. They focus more on the property.

As long as the collateral has good value, they are not worried about whether you will make the payments or not. They will simply sell off the property and probably make more money than what you would have paid back.

Flexible Agreements

Unlike traditional lenders who have their rules set in stone, hard money lenders assess borrowers on a case-by-case basis. This means that you can come to terms about extending your repayment period based on your state of affairs.

Downsides to Hard Money Financing

High-Interest Rates

Interest rates differ for each lender and each geographical location. Areas with several money lending firms will charge lower because of competition. Loans from hard money lenders are high risk, and so they will charge high-interest, usually between 10% and 15%.

High origination free

Hard money lenders will charge a high fee for processing your loan application because the loan is risky. They can charge as much as 5% of the loan compared to banks, which might charge only 1%.

Short Repayment Period

While mortgages typically have long repayment periods of 30-40 years, these loans have a very short period of up to a maximum of 5 years. Real estate properties are not cheap and normally require a longer period to pay back unless the property is highly profitable.

Before taking on a private or hard loan, borrowers should ascertain how long it would take for the property to become profitable. Then they can see whether the repayment period is feasible.

Risk of losing the property

Since the property is the only collateral for the loan, it will end up belonging to the lender if you fail to pay it off.

Loan-to-Value Ratios

Hard money lenders use a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio to decide on the amount of the loan. Most of these lenders provide between 65 and 75% of the total value of the property. They maintain a low LTV ratio so that it’s easy for them to put the property on the market with the likelihood of getting back their money.

Some lenders will use the after-repair value (ARV) to determine the total amount of the loan. This is the future value of a property after it has been renovated by the borrower. A few lenders may even offer to cover the rehabilitation costs of the property on top of a high percentage of the ARV. This would seem attractive to the borrower; however, it makes the deal riskier because of even higher interest rates of up to 18%. If the property is highly profitable, it would be better for the borrower to cover the rehab costs.

Lenders You Should Avoid

Some hard money lenders have ruined the industry’s name with predatory lending actions. They intentionally provide high-risk loans so that the borrower is in a position of not being able to pay. They exploit the borrower’s inability to understand certain financial terms regarding loans.

Sometimes lenders will bait borrowers with attractive schemes and then, later on, switch the scheme without the borrower knowing.

They only discover these several months later when their subsequent payments are much higher. After a thorough investigation, they realize that there was a modification on the interest rate that they were not informed about. Eventually, the lenders end up owning borrower’s property when borrowers fail to pay, as was their intention all along.

Be careful not to fall prey to predatory lenders. The loan may be quick and easy to get, but you need to do thorough research, preferably with referrals if possible. Check your documents completely to make sure that they are consistent with what was agreed. Getting educated with financial terms can save you from a predatory lender.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has put on controls to eliminate this unscrupulous behavior. Many money lenders have adjusted their operations by further assessing the eligibility of borrowers through income documents.

Finding the Right Hard Money Lender

You can find the right money lender by starting with a Google search. Type in ‘your area’ + ‘hard money lenders.’ This will bring up a list of lenders that you can contact. If you have real estate clubs in your neighborhood, you could attend the meetings and find out from other investors.

The lender should ideally have a great track record and should cater to customers’ needs first. You can check out their website for reviews and meet with them to decide if they are the right fit for you. Stay away from lenders who have no reputation to speak of.

If you’re new to private lending, the lender should have several years of experience as well. You need to deal with a transparent, qualified professional who will provide sufficient knowledge about these loans, including the good and bad. This will help you weigh your options.

Although alternative lenders typically charge a high-interest rate, they aren’t all the same. You can still do some digging around to compare and find the one with the best rate for you.

Wrap Up

Every lending opportunity has a good and bad side. The point is that you choose the one that works for your situation. If you are an investor looking for lending alternatives, hopefully, the above information has given you some confidence. You can now approach hard money and private money knowing what to expect.

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Machinery is the lifeblood of any manufacturing business. The ability for your equipment to operate without fail can be a bottom line issue. It has safety implications for your team as well. However, knowing when it’s time to repair or replace vital manufacturing equipment can be challenging for business owners.

Should I replace or repair? How much are repairs going to cost? What is the extended life of the equipment if I repair versus replacing? These are all important questions manufacturers need to ask. There are certainly benefits and pitfalls associated, but we are here to help. The following five machinery replacement essentials to consider can serve as your roadmap to efficiency and productivity. Let’s dive in!

1. Take a hard look at your machinery equipment and maintenance schedule

The costs involved with replacing or repairing machinery equipment are always at the forefront when decisions need to be made by manufacturers. To most business owners, replacing is a last step due to the price tag of new equipment. But the opposite can be true in some cases.

You can get a good idea of potential equipment problems to come. Regular maintenance is good, and many manufacturers take preventive maintenance and care service (PMCS) seriously, doing it weekly. But there is also technology, like vibration sensor that can detect issues early, saving money and time down the road.

2. Don’t make assumptions when it comes to repairs and replacements

Repairs can add up pretty quickly on manufacturing equipment, since the specialization and the parts needed to make repairs have a hefty price tag. And if you combine that with multiple repairs over a fiscal year, and you have a big problem that can negatively affect your bottom line. Instead of assuming repairs are best, examine long-term repair costs versus replacement of the equipment. This will give you a clear picture of what to do.

This is very true for new equipment that needs repair. In most cases, if the machinery equipment is relatively new, repairs may be the best option. Why? Because replacing new equipment with new equipment is not short-term budget friendly. On the other hand, if the equipment that is having issues is older, it may be time to call it a day and replace it.

3. Think about the loss of production before making a decision

This is an important machinery replacement essential to consider, because the workflow and production you put out equals profits that are coming in. Depending on the industry and type of machinery equipment you have in place, repairs can often be done faster than physically replacing a unit. And since time is money, you’ll need to do a bit of math.

Let’s say a piece of equipment takes two weeks to replace, in order to meet state and federal guidelines, as well as implementation standards of your company. This two weeks will cost you $10,000 in production. However, repairing the equipment will take three days, at a cost of $2000. The repair option is definitely more cost effective.

4. Safety is a very important consideration when it comes to machinery equipment

Considering safety should be the first thought when considering replacing or repairing machinery equipment. If equipment is not safe, you are putting the lives of your team in jeopardy. You will need to make a calculated judgement call and balance your bottom line with the safety of your operators.

You also need to consider the safety of nearby equipment. For instance, if a piece of machinery can damage other machinery in your manufacturing facility, the costs of ignoring the problem can be far more dangerous and expensive down the road. Think safety of team first, safety of surrounding equipment second, and monetary cost third.

5. Consider the efficiency gain with new machinery equipment in place

Every manufacturing CEO and facility manager knows that efficiency equals profits. The ability to crank out products faster can be a calling card for retaining current and future clients. This makes replacing problematic machinery a potential must-do. If you can increase efficiency by 25 percent by replacing a piece of machinery equipment, the sticker shock will pass as soon as profits increase. This is a very sustainable manufacturing essential to consider.

In conclusion . . .

Deciding whether to repair or replace machinery equipment can weigh heavy on the mind. It is expensive, time consuming, and has bottom line costs down the road. The above five machinery replacement essentials to consider are not the be-all, end-all, but they are among the most important considerations. Take a deeper look at your equipment and make the right call.

Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman and CEO, has been indicted by Japan’s prosecutors on a fresh charge of aggravated breach of trust.

It is the fourth charge brought against Carlos Ghosn and relates to the alleged misuse of company funds.

Carlos Ghosn is in detention in Tokyo and his lawyers have applied for bail.

The 65-year-old, who denies any wrongdoing, has said the allegations are a result of a plot against him.

Carlos Ghosn was first arrested in November and spent 108 days in custody. While out on bail pending a trial, he was re-arrested in Tokyo on April 4.

Japanese prosecutors allege that Carlos Ghosn made a multi-million-dollar payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman, and that as much as $5million was funneled to an account controlled by him.

Nissan to Acquire Controlling Stake in Rival Mitsubishi Motors

Nissan has filed its own criminal complaint against Carlos Ghosn, accusing him of directing money from the company for his own personal enrichment.

Carlos Ghosn was first charged with under-reporting his pay package for the five years to 2015.

In January, a new charge claimed he understated his compensation for another three years. He was also indicted on a fresh, more serious charge of breach of trust.

The case has put a spotlight on fighting within Nissan alliance and on Japan’s legal system.

Carlos Ghosn was the architect of the alliance formed between Japan’s Nissan and French auto maker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016.

He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.

Earlier this month Carlos Ghosn said the allegations were a plot and conspiracy against him, accusing Nissan executives of backstabbing.

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So you’re ready to shop for a new car (or a used one) — great! But before you get started, you need to think about a few things. There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re shopping for something as expensive as a vehicle, and while you probably already have an idea of things like how much seating or horsepower you need, there are some burning questions that you should take a closer look at before you part with any of your hard-earned money. Here are four things to consider as you shop for your next vehicle.

What is your budget?

Americans are operating under tight budgets these days. Yet this year, many of us will head out and buy a car for far more expensive than we can afford. Lured by the siren songs of “zero down” financing and options for those with “bad credit or no credit,” we’ll take our lenders at their word and bury ourselves in debt. That may give us our dream vehicle in the short-term, but it can trigger financial disasters in the long-term.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. Do the research yourself and make sure that you really can afford the car that you want to buy. Take all of your potential expenses into account, from the down payment to the maintenance and gas costs.

What about our planet’s future (and your wallet’s present)?

Gas-guzzling cars have played a major role in environmental problems like pollution and global warming. And, if you’re not careful, a gas guzzler could also play a major role in draining your wallet! Gas isn’t cheap, and if your car is burning through it faster than is necessary, you’re going to feel the pinch.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are now plenty of great environmentally friendly cars, including those that take alternate fuels, say the experts at a BioFuel company that handles used oil collections and other important tasks that make biofuels possible. Opting for a hybrid, an electric car, or even just a car that gets great gas mileage can help you save money while feeling better about your impact on our planet.

How will your vehicle of choice depreciate?

There are a lot of cars, trucks, SUVs, minivans, and other vehicles out there, and virtually all of them have at least one thing in common: They’re going to drop in value over time (and over the course of the miles you drive). It’s called depreciation, and it’s a certainty with most vehicles. But here’s the thing: Not all used and new cars depreciate at the same rate.

When you’re shopping for a vehicle, it pays to know which makes and models are known for holding their value — and which aren’t. Of course, you should remember that your dedication in caring for your vehicle will have a huge impact on its resale value down the line, too.

Where will you buy it?

Even after you’ve narrowed down your criteria and are well on your way to identifying your dream car, there is still some work to be done. Shopping for a car isn’t something that everyone does the same way, and some tactics have big advantages over others.

Take shopping online, for instance. Many shoppers dislike the dealership experience, where opaque pricing systems and pushy sales associates leave them feeling like they’ve been ripped off. With online shopping, on the other hand, you can bid in auctions on sites like Auto Auction Mall, research while you shop, and do your shopping on your schedule. That can lead to a more pleasant shopping experience and a better deal for you.

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Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of the German auto maker Volkswagen, has been charged in Germany over his involvement in the company’s diesel emissions scandal.

The public prosecutor in Braunschweig charged him and four other managers with fraud.

The auto maker said it would not comment on the indictments.

Martin Winterkorn, 71, is already facing criminal charges in the US, but is unlikely to face trial, as Germany does not extradite its citizens.

He resigned soon after the so called Dieselgate scandal erupted in September 2015.

In a statement, prosecutors accused Martin Winterkorn of a “particularly serious” fraud, as well as a breach of competition laws.

They said the former VW boss should have alerted car owners and authorities in Europe and the US about the manipulation of diesel emissions tests sooner.

They also accused Martin Winterkorn of approving a “useless” software update designed to conceal the true reason for the cars’ higher emission levels.

If found guilty, Martin Winterkorn could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

VW Emissions Scandal: Former CEO Martin Winterkorn Investigated for Fraud

Martin Winterkorn Could Receive $67 Million Severance Package

Prosecutors did not name the other four senior managers charged.

VW first admitted in September 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat US emissions tests.

The devices, which allowed cars to perform better in test conditions than they did on the road, were installed on almost 600,000 vehicles sold in the US from 2009 though 2015 and millions more globally.

They came to light after a study of emissions by researchers at West Virginia University in the US.

The Dieselgate scandal sparked investigations in Germany and other countries.

To date, the emissions scandal has cost Volkswagen roughly €28 billion, ($31 billion).

Last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued VW and Martin Winterkorn, accusing the company of “massive fraud” over the emissions scandal.

The SEC claims VW misled investors by issuing billions of dollars worth of bonds and securities, without disclosing that it had cheated emissions tests.

VW said it would contest the SEC lawsuit vigorously.

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Of all the money invested in startups annually, $130 billion came from venture funds in 2018. This was the first year that that number crossed the $100 billion dollar line. Venture funds have also raised record amounts, and deal sizes have surged. United States firms alone have invested 4x more money into startups than they did 15 years ago.

Venture capitalism is changing, and the start of 2019 have made those shifts more apparent. For starters, the world venture capitalism tends to be different depending on who you ask—everyone from investors to startup founders have had different experiences, and the perception of what’s happening in the industry varies. Some people consider it a golden ticket to growth, while others believe today’s business climate means it’s better left avoided. But regardless of differing perception, one thing is clear: for emerging startups, VC funding is often the best (and only) option. Here’s how the world of venture capitalism is changing in 2019.

A Shift in Power Change

One of the first changes many have noted in venture capitalism is the slow but sure shift in power change. “With the large majority of VC returns coming from a small number of deals and more startup capital on the table, the power dynamic is shifting,” says Miruna Girtu, who specializes in researching and writing on the startup ecosystem. “Increasingly, we hear of startups picking their VCs rather than the other way around.”

More Differentiation Among VCs

With a slight shift in power change noted, venture capitalists are continuously looking for ways to differentiate themselves in a business sphere where the amount of VCs in the startup world is surging. With so much competitive pressure, venture capitalists are always looking for unique ways to tips the odds in their portfolio’s favor.

“Today, venture capitalists need to have more than just capital,” says Lee Jacobs, a former partner at AngelList. “With so many other firms on the hunt, it’s important to distinguish your model and approach. Today’s VCs need to think about what makes their firms valuable and original; ask yourself, what can you bring to the table—besides capital—that others VCs cannot?”

Image by kai kalhh from Pixabay

There ae several ways VCs can set themselves apart from their competition, and some of those methodolgies were outline at a panel called, “The Shifting Funding Landscape.” Here are a few notable ways VCs are carving a unique approach:

  • Using thesis-based investing, which analyzes how speficifc trends or industries will evolve over longer periods of time, and matching potential investments to ensure they align with their thesis model
  • Forming agencies to provide functional and operational expertise to their investments. By offering value-add services, VCs are able to attract more startups with a bigger batch of benefits
  • Investing in scouts who keep their eyes and ears open for the best potential startup investments

In-House Software

To aid the process of discovering the companies most likely to yield a high ROI, some VC firms have gone the extra mile to design in-house software. For example, InReach Ventures, a Europe-based VC, designed an internal proprietary tool called DIG. DIG uses data aggregation, workflow management, and automated proactive outreach to increase the efficiency of their sourcing efforts.

“We have been in business for only 3 years, therefore, there’s still a lot to prove,”  Roberto Bonanzinga and Karolina Kukielka, investors at InReach, told Forbes. “However, we have had some interesting validations of our unique model. For example, Shopify acquired our portfolio company Oberlo last year. When we invested in Oberlo, very few people knew that the company existed and we found them thanks to our unique data-driven approach.”

Motherbrain is another data-driven tool employed by EQT Ventures. It was designed to filter out the noise of the VC world and track and prioritize leads. According to its Investment Lead, David Fogel, this allowed them to make faster investment decisions.

A Team of Mentors & Support

Some VC firms are beginning to operate much like a long-term accelerator. This is because, to accelerate the growth of their companies, they’re bringing in a diverse team of startup specialists to help guide their investments. These specialist range in talent, offering everything from everything marketing support to product design and business intelligence.

One London-based fund called Forward Partners has conducted research to prove that this approach to helping startups grow has helped their portfolio of 50+ companies excel. According to them, by helping their startups with the right guidance and operational support, their portfolio companies are 4x more likely to reach Series A with 55% higher valuation. Those services are also offered at one-third of the typical costs.

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With nearly 60 million credit cards floating around the UK, it’s fair to say plenty of us are using multiple credit cards at once.

But how many is too many?

If you’re wondering about opening another account, consider the pros and cons before you make a move.

Lower your credit utilisation

Multiple credit cards, if used correctly, are great for your credit score. This is because of a feature called credit utilisation and how credit providers perceive it.

Credit utilisation is, in short, the percentage of credit you are using against your credit limit. For example, if you had a monthly credit limit of £1,000 and were using £800 a month, your utilisation would be 80%. £500 would be 50%, £200 would be 20%, and so on.

Where your provider is concerned, high utilisation is bad news and will affect your credit score negatively. Providers like to see utilisation of no more than 30% so, if you are close to your credit limit on one card (indeed anything above 30%), it benefits you and your credit score to spread the debt across several cards.

Spread the spend

Speaking of spreading your debt, the same process is beneficial to those struggling with a lot of debt on one card or looking to spread out a purchase cost (and avoid high utilisation).

Where high interest debt is concerned, you can use multiple cards to transfer a balance from a high interest account to a new, 0% interest card or two in order to release the pressure on an account building interest. It’s a temporary solution but saves you money in the long run.

Back yourself up

If credit cards are your main source of payment, it’s worth having multiple cards so one can be used as a backup or for emergency use.

This is useful if your card provider freezes your main card, for example if it suspects fraudulent use, or an unexpected payment comes up that needs dealing with immediately.

Reap the rewards

Credit cards offer various incentives to spend, and different credit cards offer different perks. An example would be a percentage cashback amount on certain purchases across the month.

Using different cards on the right purchases means you’re getting the most back from your spending.

Don’t lose track

The big risk with multiple cards is that they can, if mismanaged, rack up debt and harm your credit score.

The more cards you have, the easier it is to lose track of both spending and repayments. Purchase frivolously and you may spend more money than you have. Meanwhile, missing repayments can mean interest and a hit on your credit score.

The combination of the two is a vicious and very damaging cycle you don’t want to find yourself in.

Unwanted extras

Whilst you’ll no doubt be looking for the best interest deals and lowest charges, introductory offers do come to an end and many cards come with an attached monthly fee.

If you’re running a handful of cards, such fees and interest can add up, leaving you with unwanted costs at the end of the month.

Fraud risk

Just as it’s easy to lose track of your spending and repayments, it’s also harder to notice possible theft or fraud across multiple accounts if you’re not paying too much attention.

An unlikely occurrence, but another thing you need to be on top of.

So, how many cards?

The answer is no one really knows!

It depends on your current situation with outstanding debt and your future plans. More than anything your ability to responsibly manage your finances will be the determining factor in selecting the right number of credit cards for you.