What Are Mutual Funds?

What Are Mutual Funds?

The easiest way to explain mutual funds is to compare them to a betting pool. Say there’s a game going on, but you only have $5 to put down on it. That’s not very much to lose, but it also won’t yield you much if you win. If you get together with a bunch of friends though, and you all pool your spare cash then you can put down a much bigger bet than any of you could make individually. This gives you a bigger investment to make, and if you win you can split the pot according to how much each person put in.

That’s sort of how mutual funds work, except without all the fancy jargon and investing terms.

Put another way, a mutual fund is a pooled investment where all investors contribute, and the fund manager invests the pool. The funds in the pool may be used to purchase government bonds, stocks, securities, and a number of other investment vehicles, and the profits made on all of those are divided equally among all who invested according to how much they invested.

Why Invest in Mutual Funds?

Investors who already have hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial leverage don’t, strictly speaking, need to invest in mutual funds. For those who want to be able to make big investments without a big lever though, these funds allow you to throw your weight in with a lot of other small investors so that, combined, you can all do something pretty big.

Mutual funds, despite their obvious appeal, aren’t a guaranteed investment. It’s entirely possible that the person managing the fund buys stocks that plummet, or buys bonds that turn to lead overnight. It’s just as important to check the performance history and content of a mutual fund as it would be to research a company before buying stock in it. If a mutual fund has a solid performance history though, and it looks like it would be a solid place to plant your seed then there’s no reason not to use it to grow a money tree.

Other Investment Articles

If you found this article helpful, then check out some of the others I’ve written regarding investing and finances.

What Is The Gold Standard, And Why Is It No Longer In Use?
What is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?
How to Make Money on The Foreign Exchange (Forex) Market
How to Make Money on The Stock Market
What Are Binary Options, And How Do You Make Money With Them?

References

“Definition of ‘Mutual Fund’” by Anonymous at Investopedia
“What is a Mutual Fund?” by Kent Thune at About

What You Can Learn from My Experiences Trying to Get a Closer Shave Without Cuts, Nicks and Bleeding

Do you have trouble shaving without cutting or nicking yourself? Tough beard, perhaps? You’ve tried double-bladed razors and triple-blades and even those fancy new razors with the 17 blades. (They don’t actually have a razor with 37 blades…yet.) In the future, of course, everyone will be using sound waves to shave, but until then, here are some ways to find success with good old-fashioned sharp pieces of metal slicing across the surface of your face. All of them tried and true, if not necessarily totally successful for me personally.

Look Sharp

It may seem like a no-brainer that needs to be go unspoken, but clearly this is not the case. It does need to be spoken. A lot of times the reason that your attempts at a smooth shave leaves you a bloody mess is due to just one reason: your blade has become too dull. Multiply by that effect by as many as five different blades stuffed into one razor and you can clearly see the problem. Maybe all five blades are equally sharp and maybe each individual blade is on its own level of dullness. The point is, if you regularly encounter blood after shaving, you probably need to start changing razors at a more rapid pace.

Hair Conditioner

If shaving cream is just not cutting the mustard (by which I mean cutting the hair on your body), you might want to give hair conditioner a try. This is especially useful advice if you are one of those men (like me) who likes to shave while showering. The bottle of hair conditioner is right there and it’s not like you’re ever going to use it on your hair, right? For some reason, hair conditioner differs from shampoo in that it has a consistency not terribly dissimilar from some of those shaving creams you can buy in a tube. Personally, I found hair conditioner produced rather inconsistent results. One day it would produce a fairly smooth shave and the next it would leave way too much stubble. Still, no question that when hair conditioner works as shaving cream, it really works well. So try it, why not?

Baby Oil

If your problem with getting a close shave is the result of your skin being too dry to allow for the smooth, uninterrupted passage a sharp razor, consider applying baby oil instead of shaving cream. The baby oil will not only keep your skin moist, but reduce the effects of friction when you drag the razor across. If you are currently attempting to take advantage of the humidity inside a hot shower to help reduce cuts and nicks and therefore have been substituting soap for shaving cream, then you seriously need to give baby oil a shot. Most soaps are going to cancel out the effects of humidity by creating a dry landscape that is hardly suitable for shaving.

Treating the Injuries

Should none of these tips prove useful for improving the effects of shaving and you still exit the process with tiny little spots of blood where your razor nicked you a little too closely, forget all about walking around with tiny little pieces of toilet paper on your face. It looks ridiculous and, even worse, toilet paper is going to do as little as possible to actually stop the flow of blood. Instead, run a standard black teabag under cold water and press against the site of the cut. Not only will the teabag work much quicker to stem the tide of blood, it will also do something that no toilet paper has ever done: relieve the stinging sensation.

The Pros and Cons of Moped Scooters

There are many benefits to owning and using a moped for transportation. Having primarily used my own scooter for over two years, I can testify that the vehicles are quite convenient. What makes moped scooters so great?

1) Gas
These scooters have small gas tanks and get more miles per gallon than any car on the market. My own scooter boasts a one and a half gallon tank that cost less than five dollars to fill up. This gallon and a half often last me two to four weeks depending on the amount of travel done. One simply cannot beat this fuel efficiency.

2) Insurance
50cc scooters (which are the most common) do not require insurance. This saves riders hundreds to thousands of dollars per year on the added expense of insurance.

3) Maintenance
In the time I’ve owned my scooter, I’ve never spent more than forty dollars on any given part. This cannot be said for the Saturn that my mother and I own. This car has cost us thousands of dollars over the past four years. In two years, I’ve spent less than three-hundred dollars on my scooter which was heavily used before it ever came into my possession.

Despite the many benefits of moped scooters, there are many dangers and other issues associated with the vehicles. Such issues include:

1) Other Drivers
Whether you’re on a moped, a full-sized motorcycle or a bicycle… many motorists think they own the road. It is not uncommon for drivers to ignore two-wheeled vehicles completely which is dangerous. I’ve been run off the road by a car in the past. Why do people act this way? Who knows! Is it really so difficult to go around the moped that cannot go over thirty-five miles per hour?

2) Weather
On two wheels, you have to protective roof overhead. You are completely exposed to the elements. Ona hot day, it can be quite nice to experience the breeze on your face. On a cold winter evening, this could be a far less enjoyable experience. Rain also hurts quite a bit when it pounds against your body as you ride along at thirty miles per hour.

These vehicles have the potential to be your greatest asset or your worst enemy. The decision to own a moped scooter is yours alone. I can merely state that I have never regretted owning mine. Be sure to remember all of the pros and cons when deciding if purchasing a moped scooter is right for you.

Effective Project Management Techniques

Having employees with the skills and knowledge for effective of project management is essential for a company to succeed. Projects need to be properly planned, monitored, completed on time and provide the best possible results. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Challenges need to be anticipated and handled correctly. There are effective project management techniques and processes that can provide success.

According to an article in Colorado Business Magazine, “Most companies engage in numerous projects during any given year and most have no idea how much their projects cost, how well the money is being spent or how much was being achieved in returns. Ironically, by applying basic fundamentals, project management is easy to do well.”

Planning
Once the idea for a project is presented, there are those who want to begin working on it immediately. This could cause a number of problems as the project develops. The only way for a project to be successful is with careful planning. All aspects of the project need to be identified. The investment of time to develop an effective plan at the beginning of a project, will provide better results when its completed. It will enable better use of funds, a higher quality project, and provide a realistic completion date.

Projections
Once the definitions of a project have been identified, the planning can begin. A working plan will have each step of the project established. Completion dates and all aspects of the what will be delivered needs to be determined. In some cases, a project model will be discussed. At this point, it’s important to cover all the details of the project. There will still be uncertainties involved, but that shouldn’t prevent the project from moving forward.

Procedures
It’s important for procedures on how to manage the project be included in the plan. The resources to be utilized for managing the project also need to be identified. The management of specific issues, risks involved, as well as communication methods and more, should be part of the planning process. The goal at this stage of project is to be as proactive as possible. There needs to be a common understanding of how the project will be handled among all the team members involved.

Communication
All those involved with the project need to have regular status updates communicated to them. In many cases, the success or failure of a project will impact others that are in progress or being planned. Effective communications is the best way to ensure decisions are made based on the latest information.

Execution
Once a plan has been created, and understood by all those involved, work on the project can begin. The plan needs to be reviewed regularly. The size of the project will determine how often it needs to be reviewed. A large project may need to be reviewed every few weeks. A small project plan may need to be reviewed once a week.

Monitoring
All activities associated with the completion of a project need to be carefully monitored. When activities are not progressing as planned, adjustments need to be made. Resources may need to be distributed differently, activities may need to be changed, the plan may need to be altered and more.

Flexibility
There are times when a project has started, and it needs to be changed. Unanticipated things can be discovered. Effective project management will be flexible enough to adjust when necessary. Unrealistic estimations of team member’s abilities, funding requirements not being met, insufficient resources, can all happen during a project. The ability to be flexible when challenges occur can keep a project moving toward completion.

BOBB3E Has These Amazing Lessons to Teach You About Lego Mindstorms EV3

BOBB3E is one of the supplemental robot projects from Lego’s Mindstorms EV3 Robotics kit (kit # 31313). Easily downloadable through the Mindstorms program interface for your PC or Mac, this pint-sized forklift packs plenty of punch in both entertainment value and building up your skills for your own robot designs. Like TRACK3R , BOBB3E uses a caterpillar track system of movement that I prefer for stability and ease of control. Additionally, the use of the medium motor for the lifting and lowering of the fork arms provides plenty of power to lift some fairly impressive weights. Digging a little deeper, here are some amazing lessons that BOBB3E can teach us:


Use of Gears

Gear use is one of those skills that will always come in handy in a Mindstorms EV3 project. BOBB3E is no exception with the clever use of gears in conjunction with the medium motor to make up the mechanism that controls the lifting/lowering of the forks. Although not terribly complex, the 36-tooth gear is used together with the 12-tooth beveled gear to create the device. Additionally, the 20-tooth gear and the 12-tooth gear make up the motion mechanics of the tank tracks using the large motors as their source of power. Getting familiar with some of the more basic uses of gears will prepare you for more complex applications such as those used with the GRIPP3R robot.

The Switch Loop

One of the great strengths of the Mindstorms EV3 kit is the ability to program your creations to do whatever you want. BOBB3E comes with a fully functional program that you can use as soon as you are done constructing the robot. The heart of this program is the adept use of the switch loop together with the EV3 IR (Infrared) remote control. The switch loop allows the programmer to build in actions to perform given a set of conditions, or ‘cases’, to the input being received. For example, one of the ‘cases’ that BOBB3E might encounter is what to do when both the top red and top blue buttons on the IR remote control are pressed. In this situation a programming sequence takes over that rotates both large motors forward, which in turn moves BOBB3E forward. The great versatility of the switch loop is that a specific case and associated action can be built around every conceivable situation that BOBB3E might encounter.


BOBB3E’s Missions

BOBB3E also comes with the ability for its programming to be modified, which gives you the opportunity to complete various challenges or missions. Anything from minor modifications such as adding sounds during actions or manipulating the motor strength to larger scale redesign such as adding the ability for different IR remote control channels to be used can be made to the original program. This provides a great way to experiment and learn more about how to work in the program design space without worrying about losing anything critical.

Udacity Educational System Will Change Education for the Better

Founders

Sebastian Thrun is a Research Professor at Stanford University and CEO of Udacity. Sebastian’s background in the tech world covers his time as the founder of Google X and as the Project Lead on Google Glass and the inventor of the autonomous car. Fortune Magazine has named him one of the 50 smartest people in Tech and Fast Company has named him the 5th most creative person in business. Time magazine focused on Sebastian and his inventions in their 50 Best Inventions of 2010 article.


Vish Makhijani is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Udacity. His background at Zynga, Yandex and Yahoo led him to develop great things at highly successful internet companies but his passion for improving education and making it accessible to all was always lying dormant.

Mission of Udacity

Udacity mission statement is to make education accessible, affordable, engaging and highly effective. Udacity believes that higher education is not just for young people but all people. With the average person having many careers in today’s world, continued skill-oriented education is important and there is a demand. In the old days, one person could make due with one education because it was more than likely they would have only one career. Not true in today’s world. Udacity focus will be to combine critical thinking with modern mathematical science coupled with a real world grasp on modern technology to make their graduates ready for a job skill-specific career.

The revolution in education

Nanodegrees will bridge the gap and not require the 4 to 5 years to learn like a conventional college or University. These Nanodegrees will take anyone from 6 to 12 months to complete determined by the students pace and how many hours they dedicate per week towards completing the modules. The Nanodegrees will be segmented to include five aspects of learning, from self assessment, course work, hands-on-design of projects, elective courses to solidify their background and specify their expertise, capstone projects showcasing your work, and Udacity sending out their resume to it’s industry partner’s recruiters.


Courses Offered

All courses are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced. An example of a beginner course is “Intro to Computer Science.” It offers a two week, “love it or leave it trial period” and costs $99 per month. The course is estimated at 3 months in length if the student allocates 6 hours per week to study. All students can move at their own pace so a fast learner can most likely finish the course in one month if they devote 20 hours a week to the course work. In this course, you will learn out to build your own search engine and a social networking site. There is no prior computer programming experience necessary. You will also learn how to manage data, how programs execute, and how to solve programming problems with universal techniques.

Summary

Udacity is the type of education to help people who are downsized or lose their job due to technological advances and need the further education to regain their place in the workforce. This is not a one and done answer to education but a lifetime educational opportunity at a fair cost and the educational modules are short enough so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel from the start and not being bankrupt or owing tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.


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How to Go About Getting Your Credit Score

In order to build the best credit score you can, you first have to know where you stand. That means you need to get your credit score in the first place. And you need a way of retrieving it on a regular basis too.

One sure way to have regular access is to sign up with one of the different credit monitoring services available nowadays. These services will provide you with one or more credit score retrievals plus other features and benefits. Each service differs in some way from the others when it comes to features. You need to see for yourself what they have to offer to determine which one’s right for you. Here are what I consider the three best subscription services. Each one offers a different mix of services and pricing. But each one does offer some sort of free trial period so you can get a good sense of how the service would work for you without paying a dime.

Unfortunately, there is no real way to get just your credit score for free – unless of course you’ve been denied credit in which case the lender is obligated to provide you with your credit score information – but that’s too late to do you any good.

You can buy your credit score from the individual credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax) if you desire. You can also go to the Fair Issac Corp. website (myFICO.com) to purchase either the TransUnion or Equifax versions – Experian doesn’t work with myFICO. The cost is variable but as an example, myFICO was charging $19.95 for a credit score as of this writing. I think this is a little expensive for one-off credit scores, but if you want to go in that direction, here’s the contact information you need.

What About Free Credit Reports?

Credit reports are different animals than credit scores. Your credit report isn’t a score; it’s a compilation of information on how you pay your bills, if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, and other public reported information such as arrests or lawsuits. Unlike credit scores, credit reports are available for free because the Fair Credit Reporting Act (of 2011) mandates that each credit bureau supply one per year to anyone who asks.

But don’t be fooled by those TV commercials, there’s only one website authorized to handle these free credit report requests.

You can order 1 free credit report per year from each of the credit bureaus. That means 1 from Equifax, 1 from TransUnion, and 1 from Experian for a total of 3 reports per year – or 1 about every 4 months. For many people, this is enough to monitor their credit activity. If you want more up-to-the-minute monitoring, or even daily access, you should purchase a credit monitoring package (see above).

Does Checking Your Credit Score Affect Your Credit?

Your own credit score retrievals won’t negatively impact your credit. However, inquiries made by businesses with whom you’ve applied for credit will knock your score down a tiny bit. Several inquiries over a short period of time has long been a tell-tale sign of potential credit problems and the credit score calculations take that into account.

Tips for Rebuilding Credit After Bankruptcy

Rebuilding credit after bankruptcy won’t be easy but it is definitely possible. In fact the best way to start is prior to you becoming bankrupt. You need to speak to your bankruptcy attorney to check that this suggestion will work in your particular circumstances not to mention where you live. If you have an OK credit score you should apply for a credit card with a totally different company to the ones you currently owe. Open the account but do not use it. As you don’t owe anything on the credit account you shouldn’t have to declare it on your bankruptcy filing nor should you have to advise the financial institution. Although bankruptcies are a matter of public record, not all banks will check on existing account holders. Then when your Chapter 7 liquidation has been finalized you can start to use the credit card account but only put small amounts on the card and pay it off straight away. This will help to build up your credit score as you are using your card responsibly.

Regular savings is key

Second tip is to start a savings account once your bankruptcy has been finalized. Set up a standing order into this account and save regularly over the next months and years. It is amazing how often people forget this step but showing a record of savings can help to offset a lot of the effects of having poor credit. This is particularly true if you hold your savings account at a bank that you later use to borrow money from.

Pay bills on time

Always pay your bills on time and never ever miss a payment. The bankruptcy is on your credit record for a set period of time and there is nothing you can do about that. But from now on you want a blemish free report. Keep an eye on your credit report to make sure that there are no errors or unusual transactions. You don’t need any more problems.

Which type of bankruptcy should you file?

There is some argument over which is the best type of bankruptcy to file with regard to the impact on your credit score. Some people believe filing for Chapter 13 is better than Chapter 7 but we are yet to be convinced. Under a Chapter 13 you are tied in making repayments for three to five years whereas under a Chapter 7 the slate should be wiped clean. All your debts will be gone and you get to start over with hopefully more cash in your pocket. Listen to your attorney and take his or her advice as they are the experts in this area of law and also in the way your State operates with regard to bankruptcy. Some are more forgiving than others!

Don’t apply for new credit

Don’t apply for new credit. Too many new applications will adversely impact even the highest credit score but for those with a poor credit rating it will only make things a lot worse. Get into the habit of operating in cash and only buy stuff when you can afford it and not before.

Consider a pre-paid credit card but only if really needed

If you really need a credit card and didn’t think to open an account prior to going bankrupt or were unable to do so, have a think about a prepaid credit card. With these cards you have to deposit the money you could spend as security and you are only allowed to spend up to whatever limit has been set on the card. The interest rates are high and there may be other charges as well such as an annual fee. These cards are best avoided if at all possible. You really don’t want to pay out any more money in unnecessary charges.

Don’t use a credit repair agency

Do not use a credit repair agency as they can’t do anything other than what we have recommended above. They often suggest that clients apply for credit using a slightly different social security number. Or they may suggest you start up a new social security account. Both these tricks are illegal as it is fraud and it really is not worth getting into trouble with authorities. The Judge won’t care who advised you to do it and you could find yourself doing jail time.

Rebuilding credit after bankruptcy isn’t the only thing that is important

Rebuilding your credit score is obviously important but it is not the biggest issue you will face after bankruptcy. You need to rebuild your self confidence and self belief too. As part of your bankruptcy filing you will have had to attend a financial management course. Take this opportunity to really master your finances so that you never face the prospect of filing for Chapter 7 or 13 again.

These tips for rebuilding credit after bankruptcy do work but the best lesson of all is to learn how to manage your money. That is the only way to financial freedom, something we should all be aiming to achieve.

Basic Stochastic Trend Binary Options Strategy

Stochastic is a well-known indicator that works well in forecasting price movement for binary options trades. In this strategy it is used in the process of technical analysis for the purpose of identifying a price trend. Trends are among the best types of price movement, as they provide the clearest view of upcoming price direction. Although asset prices can be quite volatile at times, other times they are going to move in a single direction for a period of time.

Price trends include both upward and downward price movement. At times the price of an asset will start to rise or fall quickly. Other times the change is more gradual. Fast movement, or spikes, typically do not allow a lot of time for trading. This type of price action is usually short-lived because it causes the price to reach an area of resistance rather quickly. Slower movement will allow more time to execute a number of trades in accordance with the current direction.

This binary options strategy can be put to use within the live trading platform at: https://www.mayfairoptions.com. Included are two different methods which may be used to verify a price trend. Both methods should be used to increase the accuracy of your technical analysis. The first method is visual confirmation, the second uses stochastic along with various time-frames to assess the upcoming price movement.

Visual Verification of the Trend

Visual verification consists of simply pinpointing the trend via the use of a basic price chart. Most brokers provide this type of chart, and it should include the ability to see past price movement for various time-frames. Basic charts show just a single line that moves up and down along with the action price movement. This makes it extremely easy to see exactly how high or low the value of your selected asset has gone for a specified period of time.

Additionally, you can use trend lines for visual confirmation. These lines connect successive highs and lows inside a chart. A series of high peaks typically points to an upward moving trend, a series of lows typically points to a downward moving trend. Whenever neither of these types of movement are noted, the price is said to be range-bound and not trending. The Stochastic indicator will show you all of this, but note that it is less reliable under ranging conditions.

Stochastic Verification of the Trend

Stochastic only provides an entry point when the price shows a number of high or low peaks in succession. High peaks point to “Call” opportunities, while low peaks point to “Put” opportunities. Whenever stochastic validates the trend, you’ll enter the market once stochastic is aimed in the same direction as the current price movement. If you have visual confirmation and stochastic is providing confirmation as well, enter into a trade when the stochastic generates a new trough and points up or down.

There will be times when the prevailing trend is extremely clear, resulting in little need for in-depth analysis. Even so, it is wise to still analyze the movement so as to determine just how long the trend may last. Using short-term trades such as 60 Seconds, you may be able to execute a number of profitable binary options trades within a short time-frame.

Tips on How to Find Cheap Car Insurance

Everybody is seeking cheap car insurance, but what many individuals want to know is how to find it. If your car insurance is presently high, there are several steps that you can take to lower your monthly premiums. If you are seeking a bargain-basement policy, remember that switching insurance companies may not be the best approach, especially if your present insurance company is trustworthy. Decreasing your cost may not make any sense if you end with a company that is questionable. Here are some great tips on how to find cheap car insurance.

1. Comparison shop
Often times the best deals can be acquired with your present insurance company, but sometimes the best deals will take you elsewhere. By comparison shopping, you may be able to uncover some cheap insurance companies that you may not have been originally aware of.

2. Bundle your policies
Many Insurance companies offer competitive auto insurance rates when you bundle your home owner’s insurance and car insurance with the same provider. The multi-discount can sometimes be in excess of 10%.

3. Raise your deductible
The Insurance Information Institute has reported that consumers can save as much as 20% on their car insurance if they increase their deductibles from $200 to $500. It is also important to understand that the higher the deductible, the higher the out of pocket expenses. If you are in a car accident and you have to put the deductible on a credit card, the cheap insurance is no longer cheap when you are paying credit card interest.

4. Ask about discounts for which you qualify
Take the time and ask your insurance agent about available discounts. For example, if your car is parked in a garage, you may qualify for a discount because your car is less likely to be stolen and it is protected from any possible weather damage.

5. Purchasing the right type of car
If you are in the market for a new car, the type of car you purchase can ultimately affect your insurance premiums. Cars that are expensive to repair or replace result in higher insurance premiums. Some safety features can also result in lower insurance premiums. Most major insurance companies provides discounts for air bags, anti-lock brakes, and anti-theft devices.

6. Don’t purchase unneeded insurance coverage
If you have an older vehicle that does not cost very much to replace, you can save by removing the collision and comprehensive coverage. Many experts state that insurers should do this when the actual cash value no longer justifies the insurance coverage.

7. Consider removing medical protection
Also, there is no need to pay for additional medical protection if you have already have good health insurance. This will also dramatically lower your insurance premiums.

A good insurance agent will discuss what is essential and what is not. These tips should assist you in finding the cheap car insurance.