Three steps to financially affording home improvement renovations

Home ownership is a remarkable achievement. As one of the biggest and most expensive investments that any given individual can ever make in their lifetime, it goes without saying that when this goal is finally achieved (if it is a goal of yours, of course), the feeling is unlike any other feeling in the world. One of the best parts about owning your own home is that you have complete creative control over what the home feels and looks like at all stages of you living in and owning the property. Sometimes, additions, omissions, and updates are necessary or even just wanted. And this is where the renovating process comes into play. Renovations can be either big or small, however ultimately all renovations are geared specifically towards adding comfort and value to the property itself. 


Regardless of the scope of intended renovations, the point is always the same. That point is that renovations are a fantastic way to significantly increase the comfort, convenience, efficiency, and overall value of your home. More than ever, renovations are becoming more and more of a priority for homeowners around the globe, as the current pandemic has forced individuals to stay at home for the most part (even if just temporarily). So, how do you know where to start? There are three key steps to financially affording home improvement renovations.


Create a budget to build on


Renovations do not have to be done all in one foul swoop. In fact, sometimes it is better all around to stagger these projects over a longer period of time. Ultimately, what it all comes down to is the finances that you have to get the renovations underway and completed. That all starts with creating a budget to build upon. This budget is going to be all about giving you complete creative control in realistic ways. Put aside a set amount each paycheck (sometimes add a little extra on top to the funds if you are able to and feel like doing so) so that you have dedicated funds that are geared towards the specific goal of renovating projects. Create an excel spreadsheet as this will make the entire process easier all around.


Do what you can yourself


One of the simplest yet most effective ways to save money during restorations in your home is to take on some of the work yourself. Rather than paying professionals a lot of money to take on the projects, you might be surprised how simple (even if they are time-consuming) some of the renovation projects that you have in mind are. Of course, sometimes it is easier and more effective all around to let professionals handle it (in these cases, prioritise the projects that you know you cannot do yourself). As well as saving some money throughout the process, you also gain a deeper sense of appreciation for the final product, knowing that your own blood, sweat, and tears went into bringing the project to life.


Invest extra into important features

And then of course there are the important features that you want to incorporate into your home the most but might be a little more expensive than others. Whether it is EcoTech windows and doors installing ducted air conditioning/heating split systems throughout the entire property, make it a point to put a little extra money towards these specific home renovation projects. This way, you are ensuring that you are putting in the hard work to bring your entire dream home to life around you.

Small Business Loans for Women: Find Out the Best Options

Small business loans are abundant in today’s environment however some have preferences for visionary entrepreneurial women. This is in consideration of the age-long gender inequality that often finds women at a social disadvantage.

It should be noted that there are no lenders that exclusively offer loans to female entrepreneurs, the law frowns at that. However, there are available tweaks to ease a female’s eligibility for these loans program. By research, the number of female-owned small startup businesses in the US today is twice as much as those owned by males. However, this doesn’t tally with the number of small business loans open to women. Hence there are needs to make adjustments to allow more women to find loans that fit. Here are the best options for women seeking loans.

1. Alternative Lending. 

Most alternate lenders are known to be remarkably flexible in their considerations.  Low credit score, poor cash flow or very slim business operational time or as the case here, gender-related tweaks are all summed up into an applaudable whole.

They also offer short and long term capital and as well as liberty to choose between term loans and lines of credit depending on business needs. 

Here’s a list of notable lenders and the special features they possess. 


Here’s a regular back seat guy when general alternative lending is being discussed. However, with a bit of gender inclination, Lenidio becomes the best alternative lender for Women Entrepreneurs. This is because it has a low-interest rate of 6% and allows annual revenue as small as $12,000 with 6 months of business operational time. 

This is followed by lenders such as;


It works for loans that sit on larger cash flow and it is popular for it. However, it has slight issues with state-dependent availability and in some cases, the cost of securing the loan is ridiculously high. 


This company has consideration for low credit candidates but its minimum loan amount is relatively high and exhibits an unreasonably bogus APR. 


 It is renowned for unparalleled convenience, but you may have to contend with the regular annual percentage rate (APR) issue and an unclear billing pattern. Kabbage also offers an advantage for businesses that run supported accounting software.

Funding Circle: 

Helps peer to peer lending, if you need bulk funds to expand or jumpstart a big female-owned business, try Fund Circle’s term loans. However it has no option of a non-collateral loan, and there are borrower biases to contend with. 


It offers microloans with no interests, makes it look like a term loan that defies the norms, even better than LOC in some cases. If your required fund falls in the $10,000 range, Pursue Kiva, you be glad you did. 


Accion works best for small female-owned startups, its margin with Kiva is little but present. 

OnDeck: notable for allowing continuous borrowing. 

QuarterSpot: helps improve your credit score. 

2. Micro Loans. 

This works best for sole proprietor female entrepreneurs, stay home moms or freelancers, because a term loan funding may not apply to cases like this. 

They also are built to be cautious of businesses with a short operational period.

3. SBA Loans

The Small Business Administration is a state-backed financing option, organized by the Government to improve financial access for credible candidates. It has special plans for different categories: startups, business expansion, and even women empowerment programs. In simple terms, it’s a structure that allows lenders to share loan risk with the government as a portion of loans given out under this construct is subsidized as applicable to whichever of its sub-categories. 


With these, it comes to light that there’s no one size fits all kind of answer to the question of which loan is best for female entrepreneurs. Many factors apply and as obvious, your business needs dictates which one works best for you. 

If your business still struggles with the startup phase, try Accion or Kiva under the alternate lending tab, they operate easy choices for startups.  

On the other hand, if an expansion of your business coast is what is needed, look more towards Funding circle or Kabbage. However, for an all-round coverage, let Lendio be your choice. 

It’s also important to mention the remarkable inflection between microloans and SBA 

In what is called the SBA microloan program. This is pretty much all that a small business loan for women should look like. It’s a mix of government backing and no profit funding, with the required collateral being as small as a vehicle. It’s good for startups with an uncertain direction, like say a female food vendor looking towards a food truck or a localized restaurant and the likes. With all that has been highlighted, an erroneous choice becomes highly unlikely. 

Thanks for reading.  Do share a thought or two in the section provided below. 

Why store files in the cloud?

Individuals and companies alike, quite reasonably, have data storage concerns. There are myriad ways to store important files and documents including external hard drives, flash drives and online companies that rent server space. While all available options have their advantages and disadvantages, one excellent way to keep your items safe and secure is by using the cloud.

The cloud has become a popular option for both consumers and the public. You might use it yourself. But do you know what the cloud is?

For the uninitiated, the cloud is defined as servers that can be accessed online, along with the software and databases that run on those servers. Cloud servers are located literally all over the world. Thanks to cloud computing, users don’t have to have their own physical servers or run software applications on their own computers.

Because the cloud holds files, users can access them from any computer or device, creating a significant convenience for them. So let’s say a computer or device becomes outdated, obsolete or irreparably broken. The files in the cloud are safe, available and accessible. Enterprise customers benefit from the cloud as well, since they don’t have to assume costs related to buying and maintaining their own physical server.

We know the cloud is convenient, but is it safe?

Even though using the cloud places your data and important files in the care of others, cloud computing does offer levels of security. For one thing, cloud servers themselves are usually set up in warehouses where they can’t be tampered with or accessed by unauthorized personnel. Also, files that are stored on cloud servers are encrypted, making it difficult if not virtually impossible for cyber criminals and hackers to access.

Additional safeguards include firewalls, which can either be hardware- or software-based, that are designed to filter out unwelcome traffic and keep out unwanted visitors. Also, cloud servers’ security tools are updated on an ongoing basis. As new updates become available, companies that own servers and lease server space are generally diligent about keeping security measures as current as possible.

One other level of security practiced by many if not most cloud companies is data backup, often to multiple other servers. Because cloud servers are computers, they can develop technical issues, so having several backup copies of your files ensures that you will always have access to them and nothing will be lost.

We’re now also seeing artificial intelligence, or AI, being used as yet another protective measure.

Cloud computing creates convenience, provides protection and helps contain costs. Lots of companies now offer the service, so whether you’re an individual, a small business owner or the head of IT at a major corporation, you should be able to find a provider that offers exactly what you need. Explore the marketplace and become informed. Even if you’re using hardware now to store files, it might be a practical idea to consider the cloud as well.

Four Things to Consider If Your Identity Is Ever Stolen

No one wants it to happen, but all too often it does. You receive an email from one of the companies whose credit cards you use. The message is chilling: someone just made a bunch of purchases using your account number. Your identity has been stolen.

Or maybe you find that a secure website for which you’re a registered user has been accessed using your name and password. There’s confidential data in your account under virtual lock and key, but the key has been turned and your information has been compromised.

Hopefully these hypothetical scenarios won’t happen to you. If you practice smart security habits, they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are a crafty lot who spend their days in the shadowy recesses of the Internet making life difficult for regular people.

That said, if your online security does become compromised and identity stolen, here are some things you should consider doing.

Identify where the problem might have started.

Try to find out the origin of the hack by going through your emails from the past few or several days. Consider recent links on which you might have clicked and emails to which you might have responded. If so, pull up those messages and look closely at them to determine the source. Also think about websites you might have visited or from which you might have inadvertently—and innocently—downloaded something dangerous.

Notify your credit card companies.

If the problem included unauthorized charges on one or more of your credit cards you’ll want to contact them right away. It’s also possible that they might contact you first if any purchases made were uncharacteristic of your usual activity, like substantial expenditures of numerous purchases. Let them know what you believe happened and ask them to freeze or even close your accounts to ensure that no further problems occur. Also, ask them to place a fraud alert on your accounts for at least 90 days and change all of your passwords. Once you’ve done this, continue to change your passwords on a regular basis. Finally watch your credit report over the next several months to be sure that your credit rating hasn’t been affected.

Determine whether a security breach might have occured before.

As you’re dealing with your current situation, look at the recent past to see if any other problems might have occurred. If you don’t have hard copies of past credit card bills, go online to access old statements and look to see if there are any other charges you don’t recognize. Even if you discover small charges that don’t look familiar it could be criminal activity. Also important is regularly checking the credit card accounts you haven’t used is some time to see if they’ve been accessed.

Contact the police.

Local police departments are active in the fight against cyber crime. Should your identity be compromised or stolen, it’s good to let them know so they can be on the lookout for similar incidents and even help catch the criminals. Often, of course, the criminals aren’t located in the immediate area (and might even be in a different country, which is very common), but the local authorities are often briefed on activity that’s occurring elsewhere and what to look out for. An advantage, by the way, of reporting cyber crime to local authorities is that it will create a paper trail that documents the situation.

Managing Money Matters: Creating an Envelope Budgeting System

It’s no secret that our society prizes immediate gratification. Because of this mentality, the average American carries nearly $38,000 in personal debt. Moreover, the vast majority of us live paycheck to paycheck.

With this lifestyle, small emergencies can completely abolish any chance of financial security, forcing us to accrue even more debt. How can we disrupt this cycle? How can we get out of debt? At such times, taking out an emergency loan could make more sense rather than ignoring the emergency.

When it comes to learning how to cut back on costs and save money every month, few strategies are as effective as the envelope budgeting system. 

If you want to control the spending on each of your budget categories for the month then the envelope system is for you. You need to pre-decide the exact amount of money you want to allocate to each budget category and put the cash in different envelopes.

Keep reading for our step-by-step guide on implementing this strategy in your life.

1. Understand Your Finances

First, you need to take the time to dig into your bank statements to understand where all of your money goes each month. Most people are shocked to see how much unnecessary spending they do on things like eating out, getting coffee, shopping, and more.

Figure out exactly how much money you make each month, how much is spent (on average), and where it goes. From here you can get a good idea of how much cash to put in each envelope as well as where you can afford to cut back.

2. Create Expense Envelope Categories

Now it’s time to create the categories for your envelope budgeting system. Use the following categories but feel free to modify as necessary:

  • Groceries
  • Bills
  • Gas
  • Short-term savings (for budget traveling, house renovations, etc.)
  • Long-term savings or investing
  • Health (gym memberships, supplements, etc.)
  • Personal care 
  • Non-essentials (dining out, entertainment, etc.)

3. Determine How Much Money You Need for Each Envelope

Once you have your categories, you need to decide how much money to put in each envelope. Give yourself a practical amount, allowing for small fluctuations. For example, your general grocery bill will be higher during weeks when you need to buy extra items like dog food, personal products, etc.

However, remember that the goal is to save as much money each month as possible, so think minimally.

4. Maintain Rigidity in Your Envelope Budgeting System

While it may be tempting to shuffle funds around to leave yourself more money for the fun stuff, remember that without rigidity, the envelope budgeting system doesn’t work. Now, if you have funds in a category left over at the end of the month, you can put that money towards rewarding yourself with dining out, shopping, or entertainment. However, it’s important to keep your financial goals in mind when feeling impulsive.

5. Be Prepared for Contingencies

Finally, while rigidity is important, you also need to prepare for potential contingency situations. For example, a lot of bills, services, and products are paid for online. In this scenario, we recommend using fake money or slips of paper with specific amounts written on them to be place holders in the corresponding envelopes. 

Looking for More Tips on Budgeting or Saving Money?

As we always say, you don’t have to be rich to live rich. Check out the other articles about you and your money on our blog to learn more about budgeting techniques, saving money, and retirement planning. Good luck and remember, consistency is key with any type of goal!

Organized Sports: The Benefits for Your Child’s Present and Future

Parents of children know the importance of group activities and organized sports for building self esteem and providing social and interpersonal benefits. Our own childhood memories of youth sports can influence the decisions we make when we consider which sport to sign our kids up for. Remember, just because you were a hockey goalie doesn’t mean your child will follow suit. It’s important to consider your child’s personality and how they will best fit in.

More assertive children may prefer the group atmosphere of being on a team and feel more comfortable playing soccer or hockey. On the other hand, more reserved children might prefer the independence of solo sports like track and field where they can go at their own pace.

While team sports provide a number of benefits, individual sports build self-reliance and internal drive. As a result, there are positives for each option; so whether your child plays for the baseball team or swims on the swim team, sports will likely help foster their independence, confidence and a myriad of other positive social skills.

I often compare the lessons learned from taking part in youth sports to the lifelong habits a child will retain as an adult in the workplace. Even if your child isn’t destined to become an NHL player or an Olympic athlete, you as their parent will still have helped them cultivate their success in the future through participation in sports.

Once a child finds a sport they like, encourage them to stick with it. This will teach them responsibility and show them that it takes hard work and dedication to achieve their goals. (a great lesson that can be applied to the workplace, too). Also, taking part in competitive sports requires an ability to handle disappointments and accept personal responsibility for any mistakes.

Think about a time when you overlooked an important task. It can take a while for children (and even grown adults) to accept failure and learn not to blame others when things go array. Participating in organized sports as a child can teach important lessons about the value of using setbacks as learning opportunities.

Social skills and teamwork are also important to a child’s future in the corporate world. Sports such as basketball, baseball or hockey can teach kids to rely on others to achieve a common goal and put the team’s needs before their own. Social skills are also developed through youth sports and are invaluable to landing a job interview and communicating with co-workers, management and customers.

Lastly, signing your child up for an organized sport gives them a healthy habit of physical activity. From daily workouts to being outside in the fresh air, participation in sports sees kids right through to adulthood and may help them ward off many ailments. A win-win for everyone.

Making Financial Transactions Through Apps: How to Protect Yourself

From IPads to smartphones, there are now an endless number of apps that can be used to transfer funds, whether you’re sending or receiving money on Paypal or using your personal banking app to access your account.

Online shopping and other ecommerce apps also require you to input some of your financial details. In fact, any app that is used to process payments can expose you up to security risks.

Here are some ways to protect yourself when making financial transactions using apps.

Make sure the app is secure

It’s not always easy to know whether a hacker created an app to deliberately steal your personal information or take over your bank account. To ensure you are using a legitimate app, only download from a trusted website or from a well-known company. Most major apps from legitimate providers are safe. Oftentimes, banking, money management and e-commerce companies invest heavily in making sure that their sites are secure, and that your information is protected.

Be alert

Although it’s convenient to jump on someone else’s WiFi or do your banking at the local coffee shop, it’s not always safe. Make sure you are accessing your financial apps from a secure web browser with protected connection; mainly your home WiFi that has been protected with a password and two-step identification.

Don’t overshare your information

Be very careful of apps that ask you to share more information than seems necessary for them to work. When you are sharing your credit card information or bank details with a third-party app, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to identity theft and other fraud. One way to prevent a security breach is by looking into the encryption methods used by the app and how it secures your data. Rest assured that most large providers take data security extremely seriously.

Only log on to apps using secure passwords

When it comes to transferring money on a dedicated financial app, be sure to use a dedicated email address and password to sign up, ideally one that you don’t use for anything else. Your login information should be anonymous and not contain pertinent information like your name or or birthdate.

Most financial apps are secure providing they come from a trusted source, but others may not be up to par. With a bit of due diligence and a little research, you can stay safe online. Just make sure you know exactly what app you’re using before sharing any private information.

4 Things That Need To Be Known About Money Laundering

Money laundering has been around ever since money existed and laws were put in place to avoid fraud. We often see numerous reports about companies or individuals caught breaking the law and being involved in some sort of laundering activity. Banks and governments are constantly working on different technology that can be used to track money launderers and dirty money. The problem is that money laundering compliance is never enough since criminals also take full advantage of technology. They use modern strategies like digital currencies or online gambling in order to launder funds. 

Official estimates released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime state that around $2 trillion are laundered every single year around the world. Money laundering can easily allow organized crime to get finances and even gain influence over officials, so it is important that it is properly fought. 

Although many different things need to be known about money laundering, some facts that are particularly important are presented in the following paragraphs. 

Technology Changes Money Laundering

The internet offers a high level of anonymity. This is especially the case when referring to the use of digital currencies that can offer great resources for launderers to hide the trace of the money used. It is very easy to add dirty money to online marketplaces like gaming platforms to then be cashed out as money that is labeled as being clean. 

Such methods are simply updated versions of much older money washing techniques, like the famous mule scam, which had unwitting consumers asked to perform a favor of some kind. Usually, the favor is transferring an asset that can be used by criminals to clean profits by using the accounts of the victim. 

Using digital currencies is a new operation that is used by money launderers. Even online gaming can be used. For instance, there were documented cases in which World Of Warcraft was utilized in order to launder money. 

Money Laundering Through Real Estate

It is possible to make illicit funds seem to be completely legitimate when real estate transactions are used. This usually involves the use of limited liability companies. These buy real estate and shell companies are utilized in order to move money around. Usually, luxury properties are utilized in order to be able to launder larger amounts of money at the same time. 

Honest Organizations Can Be Involved In Illegal Laundering Activities

Most people believe that just shady organizations end up being involved in dishonest money laundering activities. In reality, even large corporations and banks ended up being charged with this crime. A famous case is that of the Wachovia Bank, which ended up settling money laundering allegations in 2010. This was done as the bank made it public that it failed to detect, identify and then report some suspicious transactions. 

Other popular banks that ended up being accused of some sort of money laundering include Credit Suisse, Bank of China and HSBC. 

The Money Laundering Countries

The US State Department dictates that some countries are of a “primary concern” when it comes to money laundering. Their list includes many nations that have financial firms renowned to launder money. Usually, such activity is handled for drug traffickers but this is not the only source. Surprising countries that are on the list include Russia, China and the United Kingdom. The main countries that are now involved in money laundering activities are China and Russia.

While some countries are more prone to be involved in money laundering activities, it does not mean that there are no cases present in any other country. In fact, many companies in the US were charged with this and had to pay really hefty fees in the process.

3 ways through which the world is becoming more connected

A few centuries ago, traveling a short distance could be a very serious issue. Most people used leg and had to use days to complete a journey that would take cars a few hours and airplanes a few minutes to complete. Traveling over water required the use of boats that were also slow and had a high risk of capsizing. However, the world is currently more connected than ever even as more research is being carried out about how to make the world even more connected. 3 major ways through which the world is becoming more connected today are discussed.

The airplane is one of the major achievements of the twentieth century. The century witnessed the first successful flight to tens of thousands of flights taking off and landing across the world daily. The implication was that it was now possible for people to move across continents within minutes and hours depending on how far the continents were from each other. A journey that would take a week on a ship could easily be achieved by an airplane within a few hours. Thus, it is now easier for people to travel to any country of their choice by just sparing a few hours for the trip itself and boarding a flight. To make flying even more affordable for those that are on a budget, there are now platforms such as KLM flights and Skyscanner that compare the price of various airlines so that an individual can easily opt for the cheapest among their favorite airlines.

Phone calls
Just as we were starting to get used to the idea of flying, telephones were also invented. What started as landlines that needed to be installed in homes, quickly metamorphosed into mobile phones that could be moved around while being used to make and receive calls. Mobile phones were further developed to become smarter and in all of these, they helped to make the world more connected. You don’t have to travel a long distance before you can hold a simple conversation with someone in another country or continent. You also don’t have to endure the long wait of letters getting delivered and replies being sent, especially when it comes to urgent matters. Thus, the fact that you can instantly call, speak to a person and hear the person’s voice in real-time is a major factor that made the world more connected. It is also on the success of the phone calls that the Internet was built.

The Internet is easily one of the most powerful technologies in the world today. It has made the world become connected in many ways. Apart from instant messaging, video calls and other forms of communication that the Internet affords, there are other ways it is making the world connected. For instance, it is now possible to transfer money across the world and to maintain an account in a particular country and access it in another country. Furthermore, information sharing has never been easier as you can with the aid of the Internet, share information that can be retrieved, viewed and even edited in real-time across the world. The Internet has thus, caused a major revolution in making the world more connected and continues to do so.

4 ways to spend less on a holiday

If you are planning to go on holiday, it is important to ensure that you plan properly. In most cases, you should start planning and saving for the holiday for months. With this, you would already make up your mind on the country and city you intend to visit, what you should spend and how to raise the money by the date you intend to leave. You also get other benefits like preparing early and making early payments that could come with discounts or at cheaper prices. If you are seeking ways to spend less during a holiday, here are some major things you should do.

Use comparison websites
Many websites provide a comparison of different categories of services that you would need during your trip. This includes flight comparison websites like CheapOAir to other websites that compare prices for car rentals, accommodation, and tickets to tourist attractions among others. When you use the services of this type of website, you would be able to find the cheapest services to use during your trips. With this, you would be able to save money on virtually every aspect of your trip. This will make it possible for you to achieve more during your trip or save some money to go back with.

Book early
Another way to enjoy discounts when you are traveling is to book early for the services you would need. In most cases, tickets are mostly more available at an earlier time to every date. Thus, they would most likely be available at a cheaper price. As the date gets closer, demand continues to increase and so does the price. A flight ticket that you could get for 100 USD if you booked 2 weeks earlier could quickly rise to as high as over 500 USD for the same class of seats if the seats left are less than 3 and there is an indication that several more people would want to take the flight. The same applies to other aspects of your trip including tickets to tourist attractions.

Look for discounts
Another way you can save money when you are going on a holiday is to look out for a discount. For instance, you could get a discount for buying a return ticket as opposed to buying a single-way ticket. You might also get a discount from a hotel for paying for 7 nights as you book as opposed to paying one night at a time. You can also get discounts during your shopping by buying everything you need in an all-in-one store that would boost the amount you have as opposed to buying from different stores.

Eat at cheaper restaurants
Another way to save money is to eat at cheaper restaurants as much as possible. You might want to occasionally give yourself a treat and eat one or two expensive meals. However, you would observe that there is not much difference between the expensive meals and eating at cheaper local restaurants especially when it is the local food in the city you are visiting. You could easily save over 100 USD on each meal by just eating in smaller local restaurants as opposed to the classy expensive restaurants.