Of Credit Cards, Credit Scores and Creditworthiness

Over the past few years, I have realized that many people have misconceptions about credit cards, credit scores, and creditworthiness. Credit cards are considered as liabilities and looked at as if it’s a loan. However, in reality, a credit card is nothing but just another mode of making payments and much more rewarding as compared to other methods of making payments in terms of credit period, reward points, offers, discounts, and cashback, etc. among other things.

It only gets messier when people behave in an indisciplined manner while using credit cards for spending beyond their means just because people have huge credit limits on their cards—defaulting on payment of credit card bills by not paying the full amount due on time, using credit cards for withdrawing cash in times of emergency, etc. People behave casually while falling into these financial wrongdoings without bothering/realizing that all of this indiscipline comes at a substantial financial cost in terms of massive interest, fines & penalties, and severe damage to their creditworthiness.

If one can use the credit cards efficiently by exploiting their features and benefits without getting into overspending beyond their means and without indulging in any financial wrongdoings, credit cards can be one of the most significant assets. Therefore, a person who follows below discipline while using credit cards can have a very healthy personal finance and creditworthiness:

  • Utilizes his credit cards for making his regular payments, which he would otherwise do irrespective of whether he has a credit card or not;
  • Does not get into overspending just because he has a credit card and a significant limit on it;
  • Pays all his credit card bills in full on or before due dates without any exception;
  • Does not use any of his credit cards for emergency cash in times of crisis;
  • Never takes any loan or spends with costly EMIs on credit cards etc.

Often, a person not having any credit history (i.e., no record of loan or credit cards) is denied loans by banks / financial institutions despite having adequate income levels.

Credit Score / Creditworthiness:

Another big misconception is one or more of the following factors adversely affect the credit score/creditworthiness of a person:

  • Having one or more credit cards
  • Having a considerable credit limit on credit cards
  • Upgrading the credit limit every time there is an offer to do so

The truth is none of the above factors impact a person’s credit score unless there is a default or high credit utilization ratio on his credit card. Apart from theoretical knowledge about these aspects, I have my own practical experiences to back my above observations. I have been using seven different credit cards for the last many years. All of them issued by various banks / financial institutions having different credit limits, and every time I get limit enhancement, I opt for it.

Apart from these credit cards, I also have two home loans and one car loan in my name. Still, my credit score never went below 750 since I took my 1st credit card eight years ago and my latest score, checked yesterday, stands at 800.

How you can effectively use credit limits on your cards to improve your credit score

One of the crucial factors which affect your credit score is the credit utilization ratio. It means how much percentage of credit limit you utilize on an average, e.g., if you spend Rs 10,000 on your credit card, which has a limit of Rs. 1,00,000, you have used just 10% of your credit. Likewise, if you spend Rs. 50,000 on the same card, your credit utilization ratio is 50%. The lower the credit utilization ratio, the better for your credit score/creditworthiness. You can manage your credit utilization ration in two ways, either by keeping your spending on credit cards as low as possible or enhancing your credit limits on your credit cards as high as possible. I preferred to choose the latter.

Over the years, I built a portfolio of 6 credit cards, setting different billing cycles for each one of them so that I get to use all the cards every month for a few days. See the table below for easy understanding:

Card  Bill Date Usage Dates  Credit limit  Spends  Utilization Cumulative Limit Cumulative Spends Cumulative Utilization
 1  3rd  4th – 8th  1,50,000  6000  2.5%  150000  6000  2.5%
 2  8th  9th-13th  2,10,000  10500  5%  360000  16500  4.58%
 3  13th  14th – 16th  5,00,000  5000  1%  860000  21500  2.5%
 4  16th  17th-21st  3,50,000  14000  4%  1210000  35500  2.93%
 5  21st  22nd-28th  1,40,000  7000  5%  1350000  42500  3.15%
 6  28th  29th-3rd  1,50,000  2500  1.67%  1500000  45000  3%

You can see in the above table how one could build a portfolio of credit cards  to make the best use of the credit period by setting different billing cycles and also keep your utilization low by spreading it over several cards in a month.

I have been practicing this for several years now, and it has neither affected my creditworthiness nor the health of my personal finance negatively. Instead, effective utilization has strengthened my personal finance and boosted my credit profile. I hope you find this note insightful.

This is CA Anand Kankariya’s indigenous note on credit cards as part of financial awareness. Please share your feedback/suggestion below.

Is Debt Consolidation Really A Good Idea?

For someone who is looking for information online debt consolidation, there are many conflicting reports. For example, some debt consolidation companies will tell you that using their services will not affect your credit rating for future creditors, although it could happen in reality.

So how do you know which company to trust debt consolidation? How can I make sure that you do not get taken by the consolidation company debt that preys on desperate people who are under a lot of financial stress?

There is only one answer. Search. And one of the easiest ways to do this study is online. But you cannot rely entirely on this. You can also talk with several companies about debt consolidation, and feel how they can help you in your situation.

After speaking with several different debt consolidation companies will soon realize how their services differ, and that one is best for you.

Remember to take the time to choose the company. If a bad decision, you can easily make themselves a lot more effort that can be easily avoided if you had done due diligence. Many people find this the hard way each year.

Often wise to find much information before starting the company with debt consolidation, but, (and if you read this, I think they already do). Some companies try to close to “sell” their services and do not necessarily need it. If you have another option to take, such as cutting a little interest and payment rates on credit cards, it might be a better option for you to take.

In summary, you should take your time to find a consolidation company debt. Your priority is to find a company you can trust, especially. The best way is to contact several different companies and see what each can offer.

Make Money Playing Guitar – How To Play Guitar For Profit

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a master guitar player to make good money from playing guitar. Many more important factors come into play than your guitar playing skill.

When I was 13, I begged my parents for a guitar for Christmas. They were reluctant to take that path, I assume, because of the expected ensuing noise, but they went ahead anyway and bought me a guitar and amplifier from JC Penney. Two years later, I was playing in bars almost every weekend and making more money in one or two nights than my friends were making all week working the night shift at Burger King.

So at 15 was I a guitar virtuoso? No. I still basically sucked as did the band I was in. I mean, we were horrible, yet sold out every night we played. Literally, it was standing room only even on weeknights, and we played almost every bar in a 25-mile radius. It was 1980 when it began, and this band still packs them in anytime they play even though they still basically suck.

What was the secret? The leader of this band was a genius at giving people what they wanted. He knew what they wanted and found a way to deliver it. People want to be entertained. If you can entertain people, you can make money by playing the guitar. It is that simple.

At the time Oldies was a big thing, and this band happened to fill a local void by dressing the part, acting crazy on stage, and playing the songs that people wanted to hear. At 15 years old, I was signing autographs, fending off advances from older women, and making money playing guitar. My first experiences making money playing guitar came from merely giving the audience what they wanted.

A few years later, the whole Urban Cowboy thing happened and, I happen to get into another band that was jumping on the country bandwagon. By this time, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play guitar, and my playing and vocal skills had come a long way. I had also learned what it took to be a valuable member of a band even though I still wasn’t the best guitar player in the world. Another band followed that one and so on until I finally retired from playing live on New Years’ Eve 2005.

In addition to all the bands I played in, I also did some solo and dual work and never played in a group that wasn’t working. During that time, I learned the keys to making money playing guitar. The first key is filling the void for your audience. Most guitar players think they should go out there and play what they want to play. That doesn’t work if you’re going to make money playing guitar. People want to hear the songs they like, and they want to listen to it like the recording, solo, and all.

The second key is only to play material you do well. If that means only playing simple songs, then only play simple songs. The audience does not know if a song is difficult, only if it sounded right. You do not get extra credit for trying something hard to play. You only lose points for not doing it right. If you know the audience is going to request a particular song and you can’t pull it off, find an alternative song by the same artist you can play instead.

The third key is that you must be willing to travel. You don’t need to go across the country to make money playing guitar, but you will need to get out of your local town. Here’s an interesting fact: most people will pay a band from out of town more money then they will have a local band. There’s some weird belief that a band can’t be good if they’re local. I don’t get it, but I used it to get paid.

Building a fan base is the fourth key and is more important in the beginning than getting more money. Connecting with your audience, talking with them between sets, having good stage banter with the crowd, all of these things lead to more money. You can act as cool as you want, but it doesn’t pay as well as being friendly. And that goes double with the person that hired you.

You need to make them a fan by showing up on time, turning down if they ask you to, and always cleaning up when you’re done. If they like you as a person, they will have a stronger impression of you as a performer and will pay you more. It is easy to raise your price once you build a fan base.

So now you know a little more about how to play guitar and make money doing it. I have done very well financially playing guitar in my life even though most of the local music scene in my town never knew who I even was. It’s because I followed these keys that I got paid good money for playing guitar while the local “celebrity” bands were sometimes paying out of their own pockets to play. Always remember that being the best guitar player in the world does not mean that you will know how to make money doing it.

How to Make Time for a Side Job in College (Full Guide)

Between the smartphone in your pocket and the laptop in your backpack, finding a side job as a college student has never been easier.

You can take the traditional route and work at a coffee shop or wait tables in a local restaurant. Or, you can start a side hustle and work right from the comfort of your own dorm.

Whichever route you go, the hardest thing about working a part-time job is finding the time to do it. If you’re ready to put some extra money in your pocket this semester, here’s our full guide on how to make time for a side job in college.

Be Realistic About Your Time

A side hustle is a great way to make extra money, but there’s one thing you can’t lose sight of:

You already have a full-time job: going to school.

You must do well in your classes and graduate on time so that you can begin your real career. Though making extra money might be a necessity, you can’t let in infringe upon your academics.

Be realistic about your schedule. Don’t take on a side job that requires you to work in the middle of the day if you have classes during that time.

Instead, look for a side hustle that offers extreme flexibility and affords you the option to work whenever you want.

Learn How to Say No

You probably have more free time in your schedule than you think. But in order to find and reclaim that time, you’ll need to learn how to say no.

Resist the urge to go out and party every night. Don’t accept every social invitation that comes your way. You don’t need to become a workaholic or a recluse, but you may need to pass up a party every once in a while.

It’s also important to cut out (or at least cut down on) drinking alcohol. A night of drinking can easily lead to a hangover and a day in bed. That’s wasted time that you could be working on your side job!

It may seem like you never have a free moment because you have a fully-packed social calendar. But if making extra money is that important to you, you may have to pass up a football game here or there or skip your weekly TV binge-fest with your roommates.

Schedule Your Classes Accordingly

Unlike high school kids, college students have ultimate control over their schedules.

Sure, there may be a required class that’s only offered at 10 am, but for the most part, you get to determine your own calendar.

To make more time for a side job, try scheduling all of your classes at the beginning or at the end of the day. Instead of having classes spaced out throughout the day with breaks in between, try to schedule your classes back to back. That way, you’ll have larger blocks of time to focus on work.

If you prefer to work in the morning, start your classes in the afternoon. If you’d rather work in the evening, take as many early morning classes as you can.

When it comes time to pick your classes for next semester, do so in a way that frees up some hours for making money.

Learn How to Organize Your Time

You’ll always accomplish more if you know how to organize your time. Learn to make the most of every hour and you’ll feel like you have more time to do the things you want to do.

If you’re not fully aware of how you spend your time, start analyzing it. Download a time tracker app to record your habits, study them, and see where you can make changes.

Are you wasting two or three hours a day watching TV? Try cutting that back to one hour.

Do you leave campus for dinner every night? You might be able to conserve some time by eating in your dorm or having dinner on campus.

Are you spending too much time on social media? Designate two or three specific times a day to check social pages rather than scrolling all day long.

The better you understand how you’re spending your time, the easier it will be to organize a schedule and stick to it.

Get Up Earlier or Stay Up Later

This is one tip that you probably don’t want to hear, but …

An easy way to make more time for work is to get up earlier or stay up later.

It’s important to get eight hours of sleep every night. Do NOT sacrifice sleep for working, studying, or anything else. But you can stop sleeping in on weekends if you leave the party early so you can get to bed sooner.

If possible, try to get in the habit of waking up one hour earlier or going to bed one hour later each day. That alone will give you seven extra hours a week that you can devote to focusing on your side job.

Conclusion

Part of college is learning how to balance your responsibilities.

You have to sleep, study, and eat. You need time to have fun and be social. You may also have to work so you can put some extra money in your pocket.

There are lots of things that college students have to do, so you must be selective in how you spend your time.

There will never be more than 24 hours in a day, so there’s no point in wishing for it.

In fact, what you can accomplish has nothing to do with how much time exists – it’s all about how you use it.

Author Bio: 

Cory rose authorCory Rose, new to Coronado Place and Towers, brings a new kind of experience to Coronado. He holds a BA from Michigan State and an MBA from Texas A&M and wants to take Coronado to a new level of student housing management. In a highly competitive and challenging market, Cory brings 8 years of multifamily and student housing experience to St. Louis to set a new bar for housing in the Midtown/Central West End/SLU/WashU areas.

Cafe Coffee Day – A Few Thoughts

I saw some people write Cafe Coffee Day in the same sentence with DHFL, Jet, KF, and ILFS. Some even went to the extent of claiming how govt change (and cleaner govt now) forced Cafe Coffee Day owner to jump off the bridge. Even 5forty3 is busy maligning his profile.

So hold your horses guy. First of all, none of the names mentioned above was a fraud. They were businesses, and they made a mistake. And then they died (or May die). That is how businesses work. Most of them fail, some survive.

Now CCD is not a failed company (yet). Cafe Coffee Day was a revolution. For the first time for millions and millions of Indian, there was a clean, safe, and exceptionally well-managed coffee shop.

CCD introduced Indians to Cappuccino, Mochas, Ice coffee, Devil’s own, Cheese Chilly Toast, and many more iconic flavors. CCD was the place where couples met without the fear of being caught by the neighbor wali aunty. CCD was the place where you met your friends and planned your startups. CCD was the place where you searched for a clean washroom. CCD was the place where you could ask to play summer of 69 and Bob Marley, the person behind the counter will play it without making a face. CCD was when Indians met quality in food retail for the first time. CCD ensured a lot happened over a cup coffee.

I know a lot of married couples who met for the first time at a CCD. I am sure everyone has a story about their time at a CCD. Mine started with wondering what the fuck is this menu at XIMB CCD and continued to places like Miramar Beach, Airports, Highways, and so many places in between. The first time my wife and I decided to move to Canada was in a CCD – I asked them a tissue paper, and the whole plan was drawn on that tissue paper!

The business was not a fraud. Siddhartha must have made mistakes – Got wrong PE partners, took too much debt, got involved in shady deals, sponsored politicians, but he was not a fraud. A lot many men are worshipped in this country, and they have way more shady business dealing.

The Cafe Coffee Day brand will struggle to survive now. The stock is hitting 20% lower circuits, and banks will freeze funding. Franchise owners may not get the supplies, and some will default on an annual contract. Maybe Starbucks or someone will acquire the brand.

No matter what happens to the brand now, an iconic chapter in Indian corporate history is over. Siddhartha had dared to dream, and he made millions to dream with him. He created 30K jobs and made the ‘devil’ our own. I hope his legacy gets appropriately recorded!

5 Trends That Will Shape The Mortgage Industry in 2019

This 2019 it will be a tricky year for property buyers. Do you want to know why? It is because they will continue to vie for a lesser supply of properties.

Plus, mortgages rates and home prices are, believe it or not, likely to increase or move upward, peeving affordability. As we move forward to a new year, many home buyers are looking forward to the mortgage trends.

As a home buyer, it is imperative to know and learn the mortgage trends that will likely to happen in 2019. By that, you can prepare yourself for what’s to come. For a little help, here are five mortgage and housing trends to look out for in 2019.

2019 Will Be A Seller’s Market

For the past years, real estate has been, for the most part, a seller’s market. Meaning, there are more home buyers compared to the properties for sale. Thus, putting the negotiating power in the property seller’s direction.

And this 2019, it will still be a seller’s market. However, it will be a bad situation for property buyers if it will still be a seller’s market this year.

But, fortunately, there is a little hope for home buyers. In 2019, the supply of properties will rise. However, the problem is that the demand is also, for the most part, expected to exceed supply, even though there will be more properties for sale.

According to Realtor.com, although the housing situation isn’t getting worse for property buyers, it is also not doing good in most markets. Furthermore, according to Freddie Mac, unless housing construction improves, property costs will ramp up as well, limiting home formation and restricting a lot of people for homeownership.

Housing Costs Will Increase

Housing costs are, like it or not, expected to bring bad news, good news in 2019. So, to start off, the bad news is that the housing costs will keep ramping up. But the good news is that the housing prices will not increase as fast as they did in the past year.

According to the liege economist for the NAR or National Association of Realtors Lawrence Yun, housing cost appreciation will decline, but they will continue to increase. According to him, it is expected that the housing costs will increase in 2019, particularly 2.5 percent, with a median of $265,200.

If you compare it in the past year, it was about a 4.7 percent rise in housing prices, to a median of $258,700. Moreover, Realtor.com and CoreLogic also forecast a slowdown in housing costs in 2019.

Homes Tend To Get Smaller

From a house purchaser’s point of view, most markets require more houses available to be purchased, and they should be on the reasonable end of the value scale. All things considered, a lot of first-time property buyers purchase short-term homes rather than forever homes, with costs under the area’s median. There are indications that property builders are reacting by building more affordable, smaller homes.

According to Robert Dietz, expert for the National Association of Home Builders, proceeding with a multiyear trend, single-family home sizes diminished amid the second from last quarter of 2018. New home size has been slumping over the past three years because of a steady move to additional entry-level housing development.

As indicated by the U.S. Registration Bureau, the middle size of single-family homes began in the second from last quarter of 2018 was 2,320 square feet. That is 4.9% lesser than the middle size of new homes three years sooner, at 2,440 square feet.

Also, he said that home developers were centered around that $500,000-and-up market because the edges were more advantageous, but they’re beginning to discover now that there’s such a significant amount of repressed interest in the lower-end-valued market that they can economically offer networks and new development, and we’ve seen a ton of progress in that space.

Year-over-year average costs for new homes started decelerating in spring 2018. At $309,700, the average price of another home in October was 3.1% lower than the middle new-home value a year sooner. In any case, Fannie Mae and NAR foresee that new-home costs will ascend in 2019.

First-time Home Buyers Will Increase

The real estate and mortgage industries are centered around serving first-time home purchasers, and in light of current circumstances: first-time home buyers have overwhelmed the mortgage industry for as far back as ten years. And they are still increasing today as per an Urban Institute report distributed this mid-year, which includes, we won’t see this changing at any point in the near future.

Prior to the housing disaster, first-time home purchasers took out about 40 percent of procurement contracts, as per the establishment. Recently the novice share has been about 60 percent.

Tian Liu, financial analyst for Genworth Mortgage Insurance, says 80 percent of the development in home deals in the previous three years has originated from first-time purchasers. Do you want to know why? First-time home buyers represent years of repressed demand.

Home Sellers Could Struggle

As referenced previously, 2019 will remain a merchant’s market, where home buyers exceed supply. However, that doesn’t mean home dealers can anticipate offering wars from urgent purchasers.

That is particularly the situation with individuals who are moving homes that cost over the area’s median, Realtor.com financial expert Hale says. First-time purchasers command most markets, and they will, in general, shop for homes estimated underneath their area’s median. As a merchant, Hale says, in case you’re in that above-middle value point, you will need to value aggressively and offer motivating forces for purchasers.

Takeaway

So, 2018 was such a tease in the real estate industry. Will 2019 deliver more of the same outcomes? What are the trends that you should look out for this year? Whether you are staying put, buying, or selling, the above trends are the mortgage trends that you need to know. Keep your eyes and ears open for the upcoming trends by staying up to date with various mortgage groups such as Annapolis Mortgage Group.

The 9 Most Affordable Colleges in the U.S With the Best ROI

College is expensive, but the cost of NOT going to college is even more expensive. Check out this list of the 9 most affordable colleges to find the best ROI.

There is no doubt about it, college is expensive. And it gets more expensive every year.

At the same time, the cost of not going to college is getting more expensive. According to the Pew Research Center, college graduates earn about $17,500 more annually compared to adults who did not graduate from college.

For a young person who is planning to attend college, it’s essential for them to make sure their education is worth it. To make sure earning a degree pays off, it’s vital to consider how to get the best ROI. In other words, you’ll need to compare the cost of a degree versus an estimate of the income you’ll later make.

To help you, we’ve put together a list of the 9 most affordable colleges in terms of ROI, making it easier to narrow down which affordable college is the best fit.

United States Merchant Marine Academy

If you get into the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) and are willing to serve 5 years in the military, it is well worth the time and money. In fact, any military service academy is a great choice.

Students at the United States Merchant Marine Academy attend a rigorous academic program, but school is affordable because taxpayer dollars pay for it. Here’s a little bit more about USMMA:

  • In comparison to other Federal service academies, USMMA requires more credit hours for a baccalaureate degree.
  • Even though the coursework may be challenging, many enjoy the Academy’s Sea Year program which teaches midshipmen the skills they need to perform well on commercial vessels.
  • Upon graduation, graduates are obligated to serve their country for five years. They have the most career options more than any other federal academy.
  • After completing their service, grads are highly sought after by high-paying employers.

Colorado School of Mines

The Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO offers many engineering and applied science degrees that result in high-paying careers upon completion. It’s affordable for many students because it offers many student grants, scholarships, and loans.

However, the school is very selective about admissions. The average student has a 3.8 high school GPA and an ACT score of 31. Learn more about The Colorado School of Mines:

  • Like we mentioned above, most students don’t end up paying full price to attend Colorado School of Mines. Financial aid makes up the difference so that students can afford school.
  • Students who attend receive institutional aid, which means that fewer students have to take out loans.
  • According to Mines, 85% of 2015-16 graduates (BS) started working in the industry right away or continued onto graduate school. What’s more, they also had an average starting salary of $67,229 (BS).
  • To view the full cost of attendance at the Colorado School of Mines, visit this page.

Georgia Tech

The Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as Georgia Tech, is one of the leading research universities in the United States. It is also a top-ranked public college, so if you want the experience of a large university, but with the academics of a smaller school, GT is worth consideration

  • It ranks in the top 10 in the country for best undergraduate computer science programs and engineering.
  • According to PayScale.com, Tech is ranked #1 for annual in-state return on investment.
  • It provides education in a variety of fields from engineering and computing to design and liberal arts.
  • According to Georgia Tech, as of Spring 2018, employers had already offered 66% of undergraduate students a job. Also, the average salary was $70,500 which doesn’t even include bonus offers! That’s pretty impressive!

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Out of state students can rejoice because The Missouri University of Science and Technology is one of the most affordable schools for students looking to cross state lines. In addition to being affordable, the degrees offered by Missouri S&T are well worth the investment.

Missouri S&T is one of the top engineering schools in the country and has made several lists stating that the university has some of the best ROI degrees in the United States.

You can view a full cost estimate here.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Not only is South Dakota School of Mines & Technology affordable, the cost of living in Rapid City, SD only adds to its value. After completing a bachelor’s degree, recent grads who decide to advance their education or start a career make around $61,346 as their starting wage.

  • SD Mines is a STEM university, and the industry recognizes its students as very talented scientists, engineers, and graduates with excellent work ethics.
  • They focus their research on advanced energy, materials for extreme environments, manufacturing, and more.
  • A School of Mines education prepares students for high levels of achievement in engineering, and students can rest easy knowing their education and knowledge won’t compromise their financial future
  • Students benefit from over $16 million in financial aid from multiple funding sources.

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is one of the least expensive schools on our list. Even though it’s affordable doesn’t mean the degrees aren’t valuable.

It’s true that other students who graduate from different universities might have a slightly higher-paying job after graduation. However, NMT is a smaller university (which means students get paid more attention in class), with an affordable location to boot.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University offer valuable and high-quality education, making it one of the top engineering schools in the United States. The University, also known as Virginia Tech, provides some of the best STEM and business programs.

  • Virginia Tech is rated as a top military-friendly school.
  • In June 2017, Virginia Tech’s natural resources program ranked No. 1 in the nation for its third consecutive year.
  • The student body is also known as one of the happiest in the country, but that doesn’t mean they’re afraid of hard work.

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

Montana Tech is one of the most picturesque small schools on this list. Located in Butte, MT (population just over 33,000), this is the ideal school for someone who wants to be close to nature while receiving a world-class education. It’s also encouraging that during the 2016-2017 school year, around 86% of students received some type of aid.

Purdue University

Purdue has a long history of producing successful graduates, including 24 astronauts. US News ranks Purdue as the #1 Biological/Agricultural Engineering schools and they also have some of the top chemistry and pharmaceutical programs.

In closing, it’s nice finding a university where the education is affordable, but costs isn’t everything. It’s value that matters the most.

Students must weigh the cost of their degree with how much their income may be in the future. If tuition costs a lot now, but later you’re given the opportunity to work for a high-paying company, paying off student loans shouldn’t take long. And when the upside far outweighs the initial cost, the degree is definitely worth it.

A common motto is to “follow your dreams,” and you should. However, it’s still essential to make wise decisions in regards to which school is best to attend as well as which degree to get. Also, let’s not forget how crucial future job opportunities are.

The right university will open up endless possibilities, making the investment worthwhile.

 Author Bio:

The 9 most affordable colleges in the u. S with the best roi 1Rachael Miesen has been with Continuum Partners since 2017. Rachael supports the Market Station leasing team and also works as project team support for the development team on the Market Station project in Denver, Westridge project in Midland Texas and Produce, LA in Los Angeles. Rachael previously worked as a project coordinator for a multifamily developer with projects in Denver and Phoenix.

Should You Buy an Anti-Virus?

Safety is a major concern on the Internet.  All it takes is one visit to a sketchy website to ruin your device.  But how do we protect our computers from potential harm?  Using common sense can save you from most troubles.  For example, you shouldn’t click a random link in an e-mail from someone you don’ know.

Unfortunately, we all make mistake from time to time.  An experienced system admin can still get a virus on his computer from a simple mistake, that’s why you should always depend on an anti-virus.What exactly is an anti-virus, and why is it important? Let’s start with defining the term “anti-virus”.

1.   What exactly is an anti-virus?

When your computer is infected with a virus, your computer itself doesn’t know.  Computers aren’t sentient.  Acknowledging this, companies have manufactured software known as anti-viruses.

These anti-viruses are tools that your computer can use to detect any threats to your system.  This is not to be confused with anti-malware.  While anti-viruses can detect malware, anti-malware CANNOT detect viruses.

2.   Ok, so how do they work?

When you download a program or click a sketchy link, your computer adopts a “no questions asked” policy.  While convenient, this method isn’t secure.  Anti-viruses adopt their own policies for your own good.

Programs or files that get downloaded to your system must pass a security check, done by the anti-virus.  The anti-virus will proceed to reference a database of known viruses and malware. If any of these are found in the files, the process in question is stopped.  This is when the anti-virus notifies you of the potential threat.

Now, you’re probably wondering how an anti-virus can protect you from unknown viruses.  The short answer is a process known as heuristics. Heuristics is a process where an anti-virus tests and spectates a file or program when it is opened.  If a file is infected, it will exhibit strange behavior.  Examples of this strange behavior include rapid replication, modifying unrelated files, and opening other files/programs.

Once the anti-virus notices this strange behavior, it treats the file just the same as known threats.  From then on, the now-known virus is reported to the company that owns the anti-virus so they can update security parameters.

Now, there are other ways heuristics are used,though these other processes are only used in more advanced anti-virus solutions.  These advanced solutions can isolate files in their own sandbox, so no harm can’t be done.  There are varying options depending on the type of anti-virus you buy, so be sure to research the anti-virus’ operations.

3.   Yes, but why exactly do I need one?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, mistakes happen.  No matter how much common sense you possess, viruses and malware can hide in any program they want.

Certain video games on Steam have been known to possess spyware, and I highly doubt you planned on buying malware.  An anti-virus program will be able to detect what you can’t, making this tool invaluable.

On the other hand, some people question the effectiveness of anti-virus programs.  If you regularly spend time on tech forums, you might notice ranting about McAfee or Norton, two prominent anti-virus solutions. Not all anti-virus programs are equal to each other, that much is true. Luckily, we don’t have to play Russian roulette when it comes to choices, as many websites have documented success rates.  As long as you do perform proper research,you can’t make a bad choice.

4.   What if I Still don’t get one?

If after all this you still don’t want to download an anti-virus program, there are still other protective measures you can take to protect yourself from harm.

The first option is to keep your system updated.  Honestly, you should be doing this anyway.  Keeping your operating system updated will make sure any holes in security are patched.

Don’t stop updating at the operating system level.  Keeping your BIOS updated is extremely important as well.  A computer’s BIOS doesn’t require constant updating, but the few updates that coexist are usually for hardware and security vulnerabilities.  This is especially true on brand new hardware that hasn’t been tested properly.

One other form of protection you can use is turning Windows Firewall on.  The firewall is meant to keep threats from infecting your computer through network-related issues.  Think of a firewall like…a wall.  Pretty self-explanatory, right?  A firewall focuses on external threats, while an antivirus focuses on internal threats.  Having the firewall on is vital to your system.

Lastly, common sense is a lifesaver.  I’ve already mentioned it a few times now,but most threats can be avoided through logical thinking.  If a website looks sketchy leave.  If a stranger sends you an e-mail with a sketch link, don’t click it.  Simple, but effective.

5.   So, should I buy an anti-virus?

Maybe or maybe not.  The answer depends on how you plan on using the anti-virus program.  If you want the best of the best and plan on using it for company-wide operation, you might want to spend money on an anti-virus solution.

If you plan on using an anti-virus for personal computer use, payment isn’t really needed.  Many popular anti-viruses are free to use for basic operations.  Windows even comes with its own anti-virus solution, Windows Defender.

My personal recommendation is to install a quality anti-virus and pair it with a good anti-malware solution.  While an anti-virus can detect malware, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  I use Avast as my anti-virus, with Malware bytes as my anti-malware.

One thing to note is that even free anti-virus software can have paid options.  Avast will scan and take care of viruses for you but paying for a membership can give you access to more options.  An anti-virus is essential for any computer, that’s a fact. The only thing you must decide is which one you need.

 About the Author:

Should you buy an anti-virus? 2

Jack is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. A passionate digital safety advocate himself, Jack frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on topics such as whistle blowing and cybersecurity tools. https://www.techwarn.com/author/jack-warner/

10th Anniversary of The Bubble Burst That Soaked The World

“The ability of Wall Street traders to see themselves in their success and their management in their failure would later be echoed, when their firms, which disdained the need for government regulation in good times, insisted on being rescued by government in bad times. Success was an individual achievement; failure was a social problem.”

In his book “The Big Short”, non-fiction author and financial journalist, Michael Lewis, uses the above lines to perfectly describe the situation which started to appear in the year 2007, and by the time it was the September of 2008, had reached a stage which rained doom on the financial markets and the economies around the world. Ten years ago, the world saw a financial crisis, which not only caused the housing and mortgage market to collapse in the US but also was the cause of a worldwide recession.

This disease which crippled the financial system had its roots running deep within the whole political and financial framework of the United States and also in how these two came together to ensure that the only people having their interests fulfilled were the few people in great positions of power.

When the deregulation of the financial sector started in the 1970s, no one could have seen the shape that it could take in the future. The first and the biggest step which took place in the formation of the big housing market bubble was the formation of something that is known in the financial community as ‘Derivatives’. The deregulation, coupled with the availability of new technology led to these creations. Hailed by bankers and its creators as the stabilizing factor of the markets, these actually made the whole scenario even more riskier as now the bankers and investors could bet for and against anything.

Up till the year 1997, Derivatives were a 50 trillion-dollar unregulated market. Any attempts of introducing regulatory measures were thwarted by the former wall street big players who were also now sitting at important positions within the Clinton administration or were nominated to big financial institutions.

By 2001, the financial sector in the US was more powerful and bigger than ever before and all different aspects of it had its few big players. There were Goldman Sachs, Lehmann Brothers, Merrill Lynch etc. as the big investment banks. S&P, Moody’s were the big rating agencies and players like AIG were the big names in the insurance sector. Also by this time, the formation of the biggest financial bubble in history started with something called the Securitization food chain. Here, instead of the traditional home mortgage system of a lender lending out a mortgage to a home buyer who would then pay it back in some agreed time, the lender now sold these mortgages to investment banks.

The investment banks would now combine these expensive mortgages with other forms of loans to create something called a Collateralized Debt Obligation(CDO), which was then sold to investors in the market as safe investments. During this, they would get the help of the rating agencies who would rate these CDOs as the best investment possible, which was ensured by stamping a AAA rating (highest possible rating). Through this whole procedure, everyone sought a means to make quick but huge profits. The lenders now kept offering even more and even riskier loans (subprime loans being the majority as it had the highest interest rate) without making sure than the borrower is even capable of paying it back, the investment banks borrowed huge sums of money in order to purchase these mortgages and sold even more CDOs and the rating agencies kept churning out AAA ratings while being compensated for all of them.

Now that anyone could get a home mortgage, the prices of houses skyrocketed. All these times, the amount of loans taken by the investment banks also skyrocketed. In financial terms, the Leverage Ratio (the ratio of a bank’s borrowed money to its own money) of the various firms were even higher, even going up to 33:1 in some cases. And during all of this the big CEOs and heads of the companies made millions of dollars, money which no government had the power to seize from them. Any attempt of any sort of regulation midway through this bubble were completely shut out and the government authorities stood mum even when many experts and authorities were warning them of the oncoming dangers.

Raghuram Rajan, the then Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund presented a paper predicting the crisis and how the risks taken for these extreme short term gains were huge. He was ridiculed by the financial elites of the US and was subdued so that the IMF may not interfere in the way of the ongoing cash flow.

During the late 2007 and early 2008, the Securitization food chain imploded, and the lenders now had no more loans to give out as they had no money. The investment banks now had millions of dollars of real estate, CDOs and mortgages which now they could not sell, added to the huge amounts of debt they were in due to the borrowings. So, the crisis had already started, but the government were clueless of the extent of it. Many small investment and lending firms went bankrupt and the government took over them but there was no stopping it.

On September 15, 2008 Lehmann Brothers filed for bankruptcy in the largest filing the US had ever seen, which was when the bubble had burst completely and took the world economy with it. As the Federal government prepared the largest bailout in the history of finance, people lost their homes, jobs and all of their hard earned life savings.

Recession hit the world market as economies such as Singapore, China and some European markets took a great tumble. While AIG was being bailed out due to the huge losses it incurred compensating the insurance it sold for securities against CDOs, its CEO enjoyed saving the earning of a lifetime. Same was with every big gun in the industry, who after using all sorts of resources to influence the government and the academia, were now lying comfortable in their huge money piles whilst the common folk lost everything.

Now, 10 years later, the world has risen quite significantly from the falls of the crisis but the bruises are still blue and black. The Wall Street still has quite control of the financial sector and we can only hope that anywhere around the world, everyone is ready enough to tackle the small stuff so that the big disaster is averted.

About the Author: Ranjib Rudra is an undergraduate student at Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India.