Umbrella Insurance: The Safety Net You Need

 

Umbrella Insurance: The Safety Net You Need

by Amy Lignor

 

The realm of insurance is just about the most difficult maze to get through. Each and every day it seems the financial and insurance industries are changing. What is not changing, however, is the fact that lawsuits fill up the courts more and more – lawsuits that award cash to third parties even if you don’t happen to have that cash saved. More and more, the words “umbrella insurance” are coming up in both conversation and in advertising on TV. Before getting lost in another “maze,” it is best to look into exactly what umbrella insurance means and why you should consider it for yourself.

excess liability insurance policy, financial future, lawsuits, protection, coverage, peace of mind, assets, future income, risk

Umbrella insurance is a personal excess liability insurance policy; meaning that it protects you above and beyond the limits that already come on your homeowners insurance, car insurance and other personal insurance policies you already own. Umbrella insurance was specifically designed to give you added liability protection, and it is definitely an inexpensive way to protect your financial future or already established assets.

 

It is added insurance, which means to attain an umbrella policy you first need to have a primary policy in place. Your primary policy would first pay out on a claim before the umbrella coverage would go into effect. Take, for example, a home insurance policy that you own. If something occurs and you are liable (whether it be accident, roof damage, property damage, etc.), your primary policy will pay out. If and/or when the homeowner policy is exhausted or maxed out, the umbrella insurance would kick in, which means there is more protection for you and your family.

 

Umbrella insurance can help with a great many things, such as litigation arising from property damage or injury, as well as associated legal defense costs if you get sued for damages to other people’s property. People with established assets that they want to protect can lose significant amounts of money in a lawsuit, which means having the extra umbrella insurance gives them more peace of mind.

 

So…what if you do not fit that criteria? Umbrella insurance is still something to give careful consideration to even if you have no established assets. We live in a world that loves to bring lawsuits, and if you are just starting out, don’t think for one moment that a court won’t award benefits if you are held liable for damages. They really are uninterested how many assets you have; if you’re at fault, you will still be obligated to pay off the damages awarded – which means your future income is already at risk.

 

And you’re really not talking about a large added cost when it comes to purchasing a personal liability umbrella insurance policy. Depending on how much coverage you decide to purchase, it could cost as little as one hundred dollars annually for 1 million dollars of coverage, and would increase depending on how much coverage you have. It is literally the cheapest “million dollars” you could ever buy. And it is important to note that some companies can double or even triple the coverage you receive, yet the cost of the coverage does not double or triple. Getting quotes from various companies is a must.

 

When it comes to trying to establish how much coverage you should put in place, there are three very simple questions you need to ask yourself: What are the value of your assets? What is your potential loss of future income? What risks do you think you might face? Once you do this and research policies that are out there, it will be easier to find the policy that will work best for you.

 

Just remember, in order for the umbrella policy to start paying out coverages, a primary liability policy must be in place, and have maxed out on payments. With the more assets you have, the greater the requirements you have to protect yourself, so make sure that the policy you choose is the right one.

 

Lawsuits aren’t going away anytime soon. You will need a safety net now and in the future, and the “umbrella policy” is the best net possible.

 

Source:  Baret News

 

 

Need a Job in 2017? Feel “Free” to Make One for Yourself

 

 

Need a Job in 2017? Feel “Free” to Make One for Yourself

by Amy Lignor

 

One truth in the business world, when it comes to careers, is that being a “freelancer” is what most people want to do. In fact, it has become one of the most popular career choices in 2017. Not really a shock, seeing as that job security has basically gone out the window. There are lists of industries that want freelancers (and, no, you do not have to be a computer genius for most of them.)

Do you like dealing with people and have an attention to detail that borders on being a general in the U.S. Army…why not be a wedding planner? Do you have this skill, talent and need to correct people who spell wrong and can’t seem to understand what freelancer,  personal freedom, talent, personal brand, careers, finance, money, resume, freelance work, digital ageconstitutes bad grammar? Be a freelance editor for either publishing companies or authors, themselves. And, yes, if you are a computer genius, there are a slew of companies who want freelancers: everything from graphic designers who can help build their brand to software developers who can set up and maintain programs. If you have both – computer knowledge as well as being a detail lover who communicates and works extremely well with others – then the fairly new freelance job of virtual assistant (VA) would be perfect for you.

 

It’s no surprise that freelancers are in high demand. Any business who seeks to hire a freelancer, and lands one who can do the job and do it correctly, not only earns an “employee” they trust, but also an “employee” they don’t need to worry about paying sick time, vacation time, or overtime to; nor do they have to worry about covering them under the dreaded healthcare plan that is given to an on-staff, full-time worker.

The business owner lucks out, but so do you, the freelancer. You may not receive that healthcare plan, but you will receive good wages that you will set yourself based on the industry and your own talents. You will also achieve the one thing everyone wants in their daily lives: absolute personal freedom. You still have deadlines and still have to get projects done right and within the required time frame to be a success, but you do not have a boss staring over your shoulder, or co-workers that you can’t stand yapping over by the water-cooler while you’re trying to get your work done.

 

The first step down this freelancing path is the most vital step of all: You have to decide if freelancing is actually right for you. Plain and simple. If you decide this is the right career choice, then start making a list of your own skills. Remember, just because you work in the field of…say, accounting right now, you do not have to become a freelance bookkeeper. After taking stock of your skills, you may see that you own expertise is better for another industry – one that will also be more creative and that you will enjoy doing a great deal more.

 

Now, it’s time to change the resume. Your new freelancer resume has to be so unique that it hits the business owner right between the eyes. You are creating, after all, your own personal brand that is relevant for the industry you have chosen. And, of course, share this resume – unleash this personal brand of yours onto the world. This is the digital age, so use the thousands of social media sites out there to build your name in the industry, make connections, and begin landing clients. You also should invest your time and energy in making a website that buries the competition. That way, prospective buyers will see your site and not need to see anyone else’s for the job, because you fit the bill perfectly.

 

If you want to change your career path, try something new. With the financial and political worlds being what they are, full-time employees may not even be required by businesses in the future. But don’t worry. With hard work, determination, and the ability to meet the needs of clients, you can be the next successful freelancer.

 

freelancer,  personal freedom, talent, personal brand, careers, finance, money, resume, freelance work, digital age

 

Source:  Baret News

Tax Tips for Gifting in 2017

 

Tax Tips for Gifting in 2017

by Amy Lignor

 

It may seem silly to be speaking about contributions, donations to charity, and holiday gifting when the temperature gauges in some areas of the U.S. are still reading three digits. However, as anyone can see when they go to retrieve their mail, more and more envelopes, newsletters, magazines and promotional material is being sent out by organizations requesting donations. From the beautiful 2018 calendars being sent from places like the National Parks Conservation Association; to the lovely Christmas card samples being sent by the National Wildlife Federation, more and more mail is headed to your house from truly great organizations needing help to continue their work.

Tax benefit, gifting, money, charitable contribution, deduction, qualified organizations,

Tax season may also seem a million years away. However, when it comes to these organizations asking you to contribute, tax season has to be taken into consideration. By giving money, not only will you be ‘saving’ something or someone, you will also (in most cases) be able to receive a tax benefit because of the charitable contribution you make.

 

But how do you know which donations qualify for a deduction? What are the pros and cons when it comes to distributing your money as contributions, and how do you know which are actually qualified organizations? This is information you need to know – even when the lazy days of summer have yet to fade away.

 

1) When wondering what defines a qualified organization, in general, all government, religious, and non-profit organizations qualify for charitable deduction purposes. Examples include: churches, money given to a federal, state or local government to be used for public purposes, a non-profit organization, a war veteran’s organization, a volunteer fire company, a civil defense organization and more. On the other hand, types of organizations that will never qualify for the charitable deduction include: sports clubs, labor unions, and donations to politicians, among others. (*see the IRS’s complete rules for the full details)

 

2) If you find that organization you truly wish to support, and make a donation, the rules when it comes to your tax deduction are straightforward. If you do not receive anything in return, you simply deduct the entire donation amount. If you do receive something in return for your donation, you can deduct the donation amount, minus the reasonable market value of whatever you received.

 

It’s important to note that there are a slew of major charities out there, big names that a great many millions of people donate to every year (i.e., The Salvation Army) that will provide you with a donation guide. It is also important to remember that there is an annual limit for charitable contributions which is no more than 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

 

3) Last, but not least, the biggest thing when it comes to contributing money to an organization is making sure that the organization is definitely exactly what it claims to be. Make sure to follow a checklist when it comes to this. If you’re not sure whether donations to a particular charity are tax-deductible, make sure to confirm an organization’s tax-exempt status by checking with the group or by going straight to the IRS website.

 

When this is done, make sure to give directly to the charity you want to support, and not to a professional fundraiser who may contact you on the phone. In addition, request privacy in regards to your donation. You can and should tell all groups you’re supporting that you do not want your name and contact information to be sold, exchanged, or rented to other groups or for-profit companies, which can be a common practice among some charities. Always check a charity’s privacy policy before giving.

 

And, always understand that there are “sound-alikes” out there. What this means is that some charities have pronounced themselves with names that are almost duplicates of high-rated charities out there in the U.S. Groups may be just fine and only have similar names because they are focusing on the same cause as another charity; however, there are others that simply adopted an almost duplicate name in order to deceive donors.

 

To narrow things down, some top organizations to donate to when it comes to the environment or conservation causes (which is one of the largest industries that request donations), are; The Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club Foundation, as well as the Trust for Public Land. These are all great organizations with missions that focus on everything from protecting national parks to cleaning-up wildlife habitats, to bringing back to life the land and the oceans that are necessary for both human and animal survival. And if you’re looking to delve into other areas that you wish to support, check out CharityWatch (www.charitywatch.org) and you will find the ones that perfectly match your own mission in life.

 

Giving is a wonderful way to support the best of humanity, and receiving a tax deduction for your kindness is an added bonus.

 

Source:  Baret News

 

Is Social Media Still Growing?

 

Is Social Media Still Growing?

by Amy Lignor

 

It was in 1999, Bill Gates wrote a book titled, “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” Within these pages, the man who became the computer world’s wizard made massively bold predictions that, at the time, sounded ridiculous and outrageous to those who read them. But when you look at how the social media realm has grown over the past few decades, it is important to take note that not only did his predictions from 1999 come true, but they are also responsible for seeing social media continue to grow by leaps and bounds to this day.

Business @ the Speed of Thought, social media, entrepreneurs, Chatbots, social messaging platforms, OTT apps, smart advertising

“Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.” This was one prediction that was scoffed at by many who, of course, had their own ‘reasons’ for why this would not occur. Now, of course, you can easily search for a product on Google, Amazon, and a slew of others to get different prices for the same product. More and more sites are coming about in 2017, allowing comparison shopping across all industries, adding to the growth of social media.

 

Gates also stated: “People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”

 

What should be a shock to anyone out there is that any ‘professional’ came out of the woodwork back in 1999 to say Gates was foolish about this prediction. However, experts did. What do we see this day? The list is long. From Smartphones to smartwatches to actual headphones you can wear while driving to check your news, email and more – technology and social media joined together and exploded.

 

From constant video feeds that are now installed in homes that actually inform the owner of who visited while they were away; to the inventions of Facebook, Snapchat, and a million more, Gates hit the nail on the head with all of his “bold” predictions back in 1999. And each and every one of these products and services that were created made social media a ‘must have’ for consumers and businesses.

 

If you are a seller of products or services, social media is a must. From having websites to setting up businesses on Facebook, to social advertising across all networks so your product or service will most likely end up on Pinterest – and other avenues where consumers are speaking to each other – social media is a winding road that the businessperson must learn and utilize in order to grow their company.

 

It is a fact that Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and tons more have already called out to two billion people across the globe, with even more signing up on a daily basis. They are even searching for smaller social networks where they can become members. What’s behind all this is ‘smart advertising.’ With smart advertising in 2017, businesses view purchasing trends to create advertisements tailored to the consumer’s preferences. Advertisers are utilizing all of this new technology to target users based on everything from click history to personal interests to purchasing patterns.

 

Social media is not only still growing in 2017, however, it remains to be one of the fastest changing industries out there. The social media trends that have dominated 2017, thus far, include the world of social messaging. Over-the-top messaging (OTT) and SMS messaging are what millennials prefer when it comes to communication. Over 60% are more loyal to brands that engage them via social media channels and it has been estimated that two billion users will be messaging through OTT apps by 2018.

 

Another social media area that is growing bigger this year comes from businesses taking advantage of the huge audience base found on social messaging platforms. As more brands start to realize the value of social messaging compared to regular social networks, they are making more and more effort to make sure their presence is known by all consumers.

 

Social media is also changing in 2017 with the explosion of live video. YouTube was built on this premise, but now social media is taking it to the next level by offering content in real-time. Social videos have been responsible for a lot of growth on Facebook this year, and even news sources are citing Facebook Live videos when covering major events.

 

Chatbots are also becoming the next ‘big craze’. Artificial intelligence that allows people to have a conversation with someone else, Facebook integrated Chatbots within Facebook Messenger, and businesses are now using them to communicate with customers. Because of the latter, these Chatbots are already helping businesses improve customer service by being able to quickly respond to all comments and questions. Fast, efficient and brief, the popularity of Chatbots in 2017 is growing exponentially.

 

With each day bringing new inventions and entrepreneurs to the marketplace, social media shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Source:  Baret News

 

Is Coin Collecting a Lost Art?

 

Is Coin Collecting a Lost Art?

by Amy Lignor

 

Once upon a time collecting coins was a beloved hobby that a great many people liked to do. Before the art of scrapbooking became big, coin collecting (numismatics) was the choice for those who wanted an activity to do during their leisure time that would provide pure entertainment.

coin collecting, hobbies, counterfeit, risk, historical, value, Pawn Stars, metal detector, treasure hunt

Some will say that coin collecting became ‘lost’ in the shuffle. However, with the highly-rated list of TV shows (Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, American Pickers, etc.), people are seeing coin collections being discovered in old barns and storage lockers and are becoming excited about numismatics once again.

 

A hobby allows you to have fun, and be creative. Coin collecting is not a hobby, however, that the wallet can take if you are a person who takes hobbies far too seriously and looks at them as being competitive. There are those in coin collecting that shell out hundreds – even thousands – of dollars to purchase a single coin. But it still remains true that the coin you spend the least amount to own, or that cool coin you find buried in the back yard that perhaps was dropped by an actual Yankee or Confederate soldier, is the one coin that will have the most value to you.

 

It didn’t help coin collecting either when, back in 2009, hobby periodicals were reporting that more than a million counterfeit coins were being discovered; coins that people actually ‘lost their shirts on’ when they believed they were ‘special’ and ended up being worthless.

 

If you actually wish to be a coin collector, you need to look at the big picture. Coin collecting should begin at a beginner’s level, much like stamp collecting. This level is a great deal of fun, will build your collection over time, and not give you a heart attack over how much money you may be taking out of your wallet.

 

To begin, start your own coin collection with the change you receive on a daily basis while you’re learning all the ins-and-outs of the hobby. The State Quarters are the most often chosen series for people who want to start that coin collection. In circulation all over the country, the series has a great deal of interesting coins, with each state having their own unique design. And by collecting these, you take no risk whatsoever. If you learn that coin collecting is not for you, than you can simply spend the coins – no cash lost whatsoever.

 

Another great series to choose at the beginning is the Presidential Dollar series. This is the next step up, seeing as that this particular series of coins is not as widely available as the State Quarters. But you can go to your local bank and see which coins they have available, or even do a search on eBay or Amazon. (NOTE: Presidential Dollar coins for the current year can be found on the U.S. Mint’s site.)

 

Your next step would be to find an inexpensive album to utilize in order to keep the coins organized. There are ‘special’ albums already made for those State Quarters as well as other particular series. When one is filled, you can move on to the next series that catches your eye and gets those creative juices flowing.

 

When it comes to coin collecting, just remember that the one key to being good at the hobby while also having a good time is knowledge. Knowing the history about the coins you’re searching for is a must, and learning the history is extremely cool. And, by all means, never get discouraged. If your collection isn’t growing as quickly as you want it to, you can go back to the bank, take the “duplicates” you have and trade them in for a roll of new quarters. In that roll you most likely will find one you don’t have as of yet. Look at it as a treasure hunt. A little “Indiana Jones” to make the hobby even more adventurous.

 

And speaking of adventure…get out there with your metal detector or borrow a friend’s and get to work. If you live in the Deep South, the West that was being “won” long before you came into the world, or in New England – an area that is filled with history – you have a very good chance of finding historical objects in the ground. Coins can certainly be among them just waiting for you to dig up and bring back into the world.

 

By starting small and working your way up to more valuable coins, your knowledge will increase each and every day. But, above all, make sure that coin collecting is fun for you, because that’s what a hobby is all about. Have a great time while learning more about something that really interests you!

 

Source:  Baret News

 

 

 

Add Value with Summer Home Renovation Projects

 

Add Value with Summer Home Renovation Projects

by Amy Lignor

 

There are a whole list of summer activities for you and the kids planned. Most of them, of course, you want to be nothing but fun, such as grilling outside on the patio or swimming in the pool. However, having the backyard pool and patio are two things you really need in place before either of those activities could be enjoyed. And building this area could be a great summer project in order to not only get the house you really want, but add value to the home for a future sale.

smart technology, The National Association of Home Builders, highest ranking projects, costs recovered, financial tax credits,

Whether you’ve been dreaming of updating, customizing or integrating more “smart technology” into the design of your current home, there are certain projects that provide a way for you to create that “high-value” The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has compiled a list of the highest ranking projects being done, as well as the high percentages of cash that homeowners are recouping from these various renovations.

 

The largest and most popular project in the U.S. is remodeling the kitchen. According to the NAHB, the number of remodelers working on kitchens is over 81%, with the average cost being spent on the remodel of $20,000. These minor kitchen remodels have homeowners recouping over 80% of the cost at the time of sale. (Major remodels of the kitchen have raised to an average of $62,000 in price, with a lower recoup of 65%).

 

It is important to take note with the kitchen area that before diving into the renovation project, have a plan in place. Interior designers have stated to look at this area like a ‘work triangle’ between sink, refrigerator and range. Creating that safe and enjoyable triangle that offers easy functionality includes taking into account lighting fixtures, storage and work surfaces, as well as the heavy traffic areas of those who run through each and every day.

 

The second project that has homeowners recovering almost 65% of costs spent comes in the form of remodeling the bathroom. When upgrading the bath, adding to the trends and great design pattern would mean making the room more accessible (widening doorways, adding grab bars to the tub, enlarging cabinets, and replacing lighting fixtures). In addition, creating a decorative space that offers the perfect vinyl wallpaper surrounding new tile work, updated shower controls, and more.

 

Another project comes in the form of room additions. Adding extra rooms to the house, such as a family room or a master suite, can range in cost from minor to major considering the plan you have in mind. However, up to 71% of these costs can also be recovered at sale time, depending on the design. Staying “on trend” is a good thing when it comes to the latest in technology, lighting and heating fixtures, and music systems, yet buying into all color and design trends on the market the minute you’re doing your renovation can be a mistake for resale value. After all, trends come and go, but the classic colors remain the same.

 

Lastly, if you’re looking for a project that will raise the value of your home even higher, replacing windows, doors, and insulation are good things. Starting with the front door of the dwelling, replacing this has earned the second-highest return on investment when compared to other remodeling projects, with homeowners who spent an average of $1,413 recouping 90.7% of the cost. (Remodeling’s 2017 Cost vs Value Report). And when it comes to garage door replacements, as well as upscale window replacements, not only do homeowners recoup a great percentage of costs, but they also improve curb appeal and make the home more energy-efficient. You can also receive financial tax credits from various local, state or federal tax credit programs in the U.S.

 

So, as you plan your summer renovation project, just know that money can be made whether adding a room or even converting the basement into a multi-functional living space for the whole family. Of course, if youngsters are present, you can add a little added extra home improvement by sound-proofing the walls.

 

Source:  Baret News

 

Your Investment Adviser Has New Rules

 

Your Investment Adviser Has New Rules

by Amy Lignor

 

So, what is a fiduciary? It’s quite simple, really. A fiduciary is any person whose recommendations for buying or selling allocations are in the client’s best interest. They are the people out there who give you that ultimate advice when it comes to contributions, distributions, IRA’s, annuities, insurance policies, and so much more. They are also the people who take compensation for giving you all this spectacular advice. However, at one time the people who doled out this data were not all certified fiduciaries.

fiduciary rule, investment professionals, finance, CFP, tax-advantages, retirement

Now, let’s be honest, there are millions (okay, thousands) of investment professionals, advisers, etc., who are down to earth and as honest as honest can be. They want to sit down with you and your family to figure out the best investment plan possible. They want to set your finances up so that you will be able to pay for that home you want so badly, pay for the children’s college educations, and still (somehow) end up with enough money to retire on where you will be able to enjoy that fancy sports car and not just have enough money to pay for your own funeral expenses. After all, isn’t that what those “smart, educated” children are for?

 

But more and more people are becoming cynical when it comes to simply handing someone their money and saying: “Go invest this. Heck, I trust you.” There have been too many “schemes” and too many “evil ones” to make you step away from your cash and just hope the person you hired to invest it is one of the “best.”

 

Now you must throw into the mix the new “fiduciary rule” which was implemented just last week on June 9. It was probably difficult to even know about the rule considering all eyes were focused on this ‘FBI vs. Trump’ yapping. But, beginning now and rolling out in what the business world calls a graduated process that runs through Jan. 1, 2018, rules are being put into place as to how all investment professionals out there can now dole out advice to you, the consumer. This covers a menu of retirement funds, such as, IRAs, Roths, Health Savings Accounts and Coverdell Education Accounts.

 

This will not really touch anyone already using a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) for their financial needs. A CFP receives a standard fee, and has a one-on-one relationship with you. However, if you do not have a personal relationship with an adviser, but use a call-in center instead to allocate your IRA contributions, buy or sell stocks or make other changes to your investments, you should know that from here on out even though the people who answer the phone can still process your transaction, they can no longer help you decide what to do. They cannot dole out advice. Under the new rule, they can do what YOU want, but if you need or want advice or help to swim the shark-ridden business waters, you will need to search for your own personal adviser who gets paid a standard fee.

 

The second area that will be affected is if you are rolling over a 401(k) plan into an IRA. While this rule will not affect retirement plans already set up at your current job, if you change jobs and need a rollover, anyone who is going to advise you about moving those funds into an IRA will have to be a fiduciary.

 

This also comes into play when you are considering purchasing an annuity or life insurance plan. If you are using funds from a retirement plan, the person advising you about the transaction has to be a certified fiduciary. There are fee-only insurance advisers who are fiduciaries, if you want to make sure you are getting an independent take on such a major purchase. IRAs are being focused on the most, but there are other tax-advantaged retirement accounts that are covered by the new rule.

 

In the end, if you are unsure which accounts are changing and which advisers are supposed to be certified, ask questions, get information from independent consulting firms if need be, and always remember that there will be no government agency, such as the IRS that will be looking out for you, the consumer.

 

You have to make sure that your money is being properly taken care of – and by a person who is legally able to do just that – so that when retirement day arrives, you still have enough in the coffers to enjoy life.

 

fiduciary rule, investment professionals, finance, CFP, tax-advantages, retirement

Original Source:  Baret News

The Hottest Locales for Small Business in the U.S.

 
The Hottest Locales for Small Business in the U.S.

by Amy Lignor

 

No, Silicon Valley is not being replaced. However, with the Kauffman Foundation releasing its annual Startup Activity Index last week showing, in detail, trends in U.S. business startups for 2017, it was revealed that California has been booted out of first place. The top spot for new businesses to be built and thrive in the United States has been taken over by the big, sunny city of Miami, Florida.

Kauffman Foundation, Knight Foundation, South Florida, StartupBootCamp, small business startups, Miami

For those out there looking to not only land five minutes on “Shark Tank,” but also want to know where small businesses are thriving as opposed to hanging up For Sale signs in windows, they should most definitely read up on Kauffman’s latest data. Not only did Miami come in first overall but they also tied with L.A. for having the highest rate of new entrepreneurs – 0.56 percent. What that means is that in a given month 560 out of 100,000 adults living in Miami actually started a business in 2017, and there are nearly 108 startups for every thousand employer businesses currently operating in Miami.

 

Now this may not mean, of course, that all new businesses beginning in South Florida in 2017 will end up being venture-backed startups that succeed brilliantly. But when it comes to California losing the top spot, the major blow for that state comes in the form of San Francisco and San Jose dropping significantly where new business openings were concerned. The rate of new entrepreneurs giving it a go, so to speak, has declined dramatically in both areas; whereas the Miami startup scene grew by leaps and bounds when the Knight Foundation made 200+ investments totaling $25 million in entrepreneurs and their initiatives in South Florida. But they weren’t alone in doing so. StartupBootCamp, the largest helper of entrepreneurs stemming from Europe, began helping fund startups in the U.S. in 2015. Beginning in Miami in the digital health field, StartupBootCamp has truly helped Miami’s small business activity grow exponentially.

 

If looking at small business success on a slightly smaller-town angle, more data was released (WalletHub) in regards to where small businesses are doing the best in 2017, when it comes to opening in non-cities. Bigger is not always better when you’re talking about where to open up “a shop.” By comparing various locations using factors like, available workforce, cost of labor, office space, and growth potential, there are five specific smaller towns that rated extremely high for small business startups. Not only are they business friendly, but they are also worth making the move to live in.

 

If your particular business is something that would be more successful in a smaller pond, the locations of Holland, MI; Carbondale, IL; Springville, UT; East Chicago, IN; and Jefferson City, MO, come in as being the top five U.S. locations for producing successful new small businesses.

 

Flipping the coin over, whether you wish to live and open your new business in a big city or a smaller community, a multitude of data has been compiled and is out there waiting for you to research. But to narrow down that search even further, it is important to note ahead of time which five states scored the worst when it came to producing successful 2017 business startups.

 

For Hawaii, it is the state’s high cost of living that is the top challenge small business owners have to face, causing the state to come in dead last as being the worst for startups. Maine also comes in on the negative side of things. The state’s low density of startups is debatable, but the state also puts up extremely low productivity numbers, with $37,958 GDP per capita being the seventh lowest in the country. Along those same lines, Vermont has too many unemployed residents and only about 3,000 jobs open. On top of that, the costs are far too high for the small business to incur. Wisconsin and Arkansas round out the five states that new startups should most definitely stay away from in 2017.

 

So as you move forward researching the future of your business, know that the sunny world of Miami is, thus far, the right place to start.

Original Source:  Baret News

The Best Car Investments of 2017…So Far

 

The Best Car Investments of 2017…So Far

by Amy Lignor

 

When the automobile industry ushered in its ‘best’ with the New Year, the rankings were released by U.S. News & World Reports, as well as other critics out there. And some have most definitely lived up to the hype. As we get ready to place the first half of 2017 behind us, and more and more buyers are looking to invest in a new automobile, it’s time to review what can arguably be called the most efficient autos with the safest technology features ever produced.

Honda Accord, Malibu, Maxima, Mazda3, Volkswagen GTI, Honda Fit, Kia Forte, Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai’s Sonata

Beginning in the most popular category – midsize automobiles – the 2017 Honda Accord is among one of the best. For decades this car has held a high-quality reputation among other sedans out there. Now, a Sport SE trim has added to the visual appeal, as well as advanced updates that make this a comfortable ride and allows the owner to save money on fuel because of its excellent CVT transmission. Add in a dual-screen information/entertainment system that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you have a wonderful investment.

 

Staying in the midsize category, Chevy has done well with the Malibu. A nine-speed auto transmission and a choice of engines that include the 1.5 liter (36 mpg on the highway/27 mpg in the city) and the 250-horsepower 2.0 liter gives buyers a great line-up. Not to mention, a spacious interior, comfortable, roomy seats and the Chevrolet MyLink information/entertainment system is provided.

 

But it is Hyundai’s Sonata that earned the No.1 ranking from U.S. News at the beginning of the New Year and has yet to let anyone down. Cabin and trunk space is huge when it comes to this comfortable ride that offers a slew of features. Among these are smart tech for accessing all that space, like the hands-free power trunk, and upfront tech that includes the BlueLink system.

 

If you’re looking at purchasing a large vehicle, the 2017 Maxima has kept its high ranking among them all. The interior is pure luxury, the entertainment system is top-of-the-line, and the 300 horsepower V6 engine provides the owner with 30 mpg when it comes to heading out on the highway.

 

Buick can also claim a hit in the large car arena with the 2017 LaCrosse. This is one of those rides that was completely altered. The old, tired look is gone (which all the commercials tell you.) This car is now sleek, stream-lined and modern, with a 310-horsepower V6 engine giving 31 mpg on the highway, while also providing the driver with intuitive safety features and customized screens in the interior.

 

For those searching for a compact vehicle, the Kia Forte has also received a ‘face-lift’ for 2017 and people are enjoying the new look. Kia also adapted the car with safety features like autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control – two things that are normally found in larger automobiles. Buyers and critics have been admiring the interior that gives the ‘look’ of a European luxury car with easy-to-use touch-screen systems for information and entertainment purposes.

 

Also proving to be a fantastic compact car of 2017 is the Volkswagen GTI. A lot of fun, this Sport model has a turbocharged engine that brings up to 220-horsepower. Because of the hatchback layout, there is cargo room and comfortable rear seat space, with the driver and passenger also getting extremely well-crafted seating to enjoy the ride.

 

Jumping into the high-ranked compact car arena is Mazda with the Mazda3. Extremely fun to drive, the handling of this car is perfect and offers excitement and adventure with great fuel economy that comes in at 37 mpg on the highway. Ergonomic, a floating center stack screen is just one part of the upscale interior.

 

Last, but not least, the subcompact car category has seen the Honda Fit become the hands-down winner. Giving the owner extremely good fuel economy with 40 mpg on the highway, this small car has an intricate, versatile interior that provides multiple seating configurations and ample cargo space with the rear seat folded.

 

So no matter what category you are looking into, make sure to research these great names before spending that hard-earned cash. And always make sure to drive safe.

 

Original Source:  Baret News

The Brotherhood of Politics and the Economy Drop Mortgage Rates

 

The Brotherhood of Politics and the Economy Drop Mortgage Rates

by Amy Lignor

 

The political arena and the financial arena always walk hand-in-hand. As it is with the healthcare field being up in the air right now and people rushing to their doctors in order to get their “free” health services before they are, perhaps, all taken away again – the real estate world is seeing a rush to buy attitude because of lower mortgage rates.

international tensions, weak economic data, Treasury securities, 2017 mortgage rates, Trump’s decisions, find the best lenderWhen it comes to the 30-year mortgage rate, numbers fell 11 basis points to 3.97 percent, dropping below the 4 percent level for the first time since November of 2016. This comes from the combination of weak economic data and the ever-growing international tensions between Trump and others that are driving investors to jump aboard the much safer world of Treasury securities and taking their money out of the “risky” arenas. With this shift in investment, based on politics, mortgage rates have won – with rates moving lower than they have in a good long time. (It was more than a year ago that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged only 3.59 percent.) When it comes to the 15-year FRM, the average is 3.23 percent. (A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.85 percent.)

With these numbers, thus far, 2017 has made home ownership far more attainable for families out there.

Now, this is an extremely difficult ‘world’ to view, seeing as that all of the so-called ‘experts’ out there across America have far different opinions on where 2017 mortgage rates could eventually go. They talk consistently about Trump’s decisions eventually forcing mortgage rates to turn and go up throughout the latter part of 2017; some even stating that by the end of the year – worst-case scenario – 30-year FMR’s could knock on the door of 5 percent.

 

So…who can you believe? It is a fact that with each new political day, mortgage rates will remain unbalanced because of all these new policies and problems America is experiencing with the international community. But if searching for a home, what you need to do before diving in is to learn about the mortgage rates in your state. From there, you must truly use that Internet search to find the best lender with the best rates that will actually care about you and your family coming out ahead. This process is necessary for those who are purchasing for the first time or even refinancing in order to do renovations that will better the home and increase re-sale value.

 

After comparing rates, the next step in the process should be to polish your credit score. Make sure to keep your credit in tip-top shape. The higher your score the better your interest rate and the more loan choices you’ll have to choose from.

 

Then, attempt to increase your down payment. Paying more up front will also help you to grab that better interest rate and save you money as you pay down your loan. Many lenders out there will charge you higher costs when it comes to mortgage insurance if you come in with a lower down payment.

 

Last, but not least, before diving into the purchase of a house, take more than a few minutes to consider how long you’ll actually be living there. If you already know that you will sell in a short amount of time, put your focus on the adjustable-rate mortgages. This way, you can take advantage of the lower initial interest rates of the ARM’s and then sell before the rates can reset. If ARM’s seem too risky, there are also the shorter-term fixed rate mortgages that will cause larger monthly payments, but bring a much lower interest rate at the same time. With this path, you’ll pay less over the life of the loan and build equity much faster.

 

In the end, the brotherhood of politics and the economy in 2017 will cause the mortgage rates to waver. It all depends on what the ‘men in charge’ think of next.

 

Source:  Baret News