The Most Epic Road Trip Routes in the Southwest Region of the United States

The southwest of the United States has long occupied a special place in the cultural imagination of the country’s inhabitants. In the American vernacular, the act of “heading out west” is associated with freedom and a chance to start afresh, and this may be the reason why so many US citizens, as well as foreign tourists, gravitate towards the region every year to spend their holidays.

With its long open roads that take you past some of the most jaw-dropping scenery that you will find anywhere on the planet, the Southwestern States area truly is the land of the free. And what better way to explore and take in the majestic surroundings than from behind the wheel? It probably will not come as a surprise to you that the epic road trip routes here make the area one of the most popular places in North America to hit the open road with nothing to weigh you down but gas in the tank.

And, if you’re a digital nomad, all these locations are simply perfect for internet connectivity but of course, do plan your trip carefully because some of these routes will not have coverage at all. So if you have to work Monday – Friday, make sure you take these road trips during the weekends or during a long holiday weekend.

In this article, we take you through a selection of the best road trips that you can do on your next visit to the southwest. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride!

Phoenix to Las Vegas

Once you have touched down in Phoenix, AZ, and passed through immigration if you are a foreign visitor, pick up a rental car at the airport (make sure to sort out an ESTA visa before you travel to gain entry on arrival – check out this fantastic ESTA guide to see what you need to do to apply). If you are arriving after a long flight and need to catch up on rest, the best place to stay is in one of the great hotel resorts in Scottsdale or Carefree.

Hit the road the next due north toward Grand Canyon National Park. Having passed by the trendy town of Flagstaff and the gorgeous spa town of Sedona on the way, you will be awestruck when you arrive at your destination. The Grand Canyon is a 277-mile long cut into the earth that is 18 miles wide in some places.

On day three, you can make your way across the Utah-Arizona border to Monument Valley. The scene of countless Western movies, the park’s incredible rock formations glow red and orange as the sun goes down. Stop off in Navajo country to spend the night.

On day four, head west to Bryce Canyon. Here, you will see the “hoodoos” – strange-looking spires and fins that reach skyward from the ground. You can stay the night in Page, where you get an amazing view of the most famous slot canyon in the region.

On the way to your final destination of Vegas, where you can gamble and drink to your heart’s content, make sure to visit the Zion National Park. The landscape here resembles heaven on earth with its lush forests, emerald pools and its imposing red canyon walls.

San Francisco to Las Vegas

Set off from San Francisco across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge inland toward Napa Valley. The region is the most famous wine-producing areas in the United States, and it provides ample opportunity to pick up a tasting tour or two. If you are feeling adventurous, sign up for a balloon ride to get a bird’s eye view of the bucolic surroundings.

The next day, carry on east to Yosemite National Park. With over 1,000 square kilometres of pristine nature and landscape to be explored, the park is home to some of the most staggering sights. If you have enough time, take a trip up to Glacier Point for some of the best views of the park. It is worth spending more than a single day here – if you like camping, there are some excellent options.

On day four/five, drive south along Highway 365 over Toga Pass bound for Death Valley. Due to the extremely low altitude here (85m below sea level), temperatures can soar on the salt flats. However, the views of across the desert of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada make braving the high temperatures well worth it. When you have had enough, make the trip to Las Vegas for some debauched fun and games.

The southwestern region of the United States is best explored on four wheels. If you are heading out on a road trip anytime soon, the two routes described above have a bit of everything. Just make sure your vehicle is up to the task!

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Business Growth: 7 Strategic Ways One Must Consider

Right skillset

One of the most critical factors for achieving business growth is to have solid operational skills. But, it is not limited to having efficient plans that enhance the skills and talents of each of your employees. 

A specific and attainable plan Is critical to the success of an organization. Without a plan, a company can lose track rather quickly and lose sight of the end goal. 

Build relationships

Another critical factor for the growth of a business is to have special relationships with clients, employees and suppliers. Companies who value personal relationships having a much stronger chance of repeated business with these clients. People have a natural tendency to realize what companies are genuine and what companies operate only to make a profit. Companies who care more about building a relationship and serving the client’s needs stay relevant and have a healthy business activity than the companies who only care about money. 

Proper plan

In addition, another critical factor for business growth has a plan in a procedure to implement and maintain growth. The growth of a company not only can include increasing the number of employees and clients, but it can also main higher amounts I love investing in research and development to improve a company’s products and services. This could also mean For a company to expand the areas in which they serve. This could result in reaching out to out-of-state clients or opening new operations in different states or counties. 

For a company to effectively grow the founder or president of that particular company needs to know how to delegate appropriately. There are many hours in a day & it is not effective for the starter of that company to take on every single responsibility that comes with the territory. While some people are hesitant to hire employees consistently hiring people to do the small work for you result in you focusing on the bigger picture items that will drive the business forward. 

Stay updated

The next factor that can result in sustainable growth for the business is staying current with different forms of technology. People who are dogmatic in their technology approach often are not as effective as companies who embrace technology. For example, call companies in a lot of different industries but to keep handwritten records however if the company can hire someone who’s proficient in Microsoft Excel you can create electronic files a lot more consistently and quickly compared to having handwritten records. Over recent years, a lot of new technologies have emerged that result in much more effective communication such as zoom, Google Meet etc. 

Companies who adopt these methods can talk with a wide variety of clients and it is not dependent on where that particular person is. With today’s growing technology, in-person conference calls and meetings are becoming less and less relevant. Having the ability to be proficient in these technologies can result in consistent business practices. 

Seek professional help

In addition, seeking professional advisory for business growth is another critical component. The investment can pay for itself many times over if you seek quality advice from a trusted advisor. There is a wide range of business advisors who can help in a multitude of areas including but not limited to financing, marketing, product development, and setting up a legal business structure, such as an LLC or corporation. A consistent business checkup with an advisor can prove to be very beneficial.

Effective marketing strategies

Another factor that results in sustainable business growth is making sure that their marketing is accurate and effective. It is common for businesses that offer quality products and services that are lacking in customer growth because of their inefficient marketing activity. In today’s day & age, online marketing is a big sector of business as a whole. If a company can market themselves effectively online, they can reach a much wider client base which increases their probability of acquiring and retaining customers. 

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Keys to Asset and Brand Planning for Healthcare Companies in a Covid-19 World

The coronavirus has caused major disruptions in the lives of people and the normal working of countries worldwide.

It has also caused businesses to reconsider many of their normal practices, and forced entire industries to adjust how they operate.

One industry that has seen great demand for change and innovation is the healthcare industry. Hospitals, clinics, medical device manufacturers and suppliers, and medical laboratories have been severely taxed during this time revealing its glaring weaknesses.

From supply chains, to product quality, to pricing, the healthcare industry has been under a microscope and often found wanting. And we all know that this industry is one of the most important on the planet. When they do not perform their jobs well, people get sick and some even die, so the stakes could not be higher.

But with covid-19 causing such disruption, how can helthcare companies do asset and brand planning? The key is access to good data and do several other key things.

Work with a Top Provider of Critical Market and Customer Data

If you intend to be successful in the healthcare industry today, you need access to a complete set of reliable data and you need it constantly and quickly. The majority of companies in the industry not only do not know where to look for this data, they also do not have the in-house resources to build a research department that can provide the data resources needed. Therefore the best approach is to work with a top healthcare research company like Cello Health.

For the past 30 years Celio Health has provided healthcare companies with strategically valuable insight that confirms or challenges conventional thinking. Their cutting-edge advanced analytics, and behavioral economics bring added-value to clients. And this information is critical to companies needing strategic and tactical decision-making at key stages of their corporate lifecycle or when asset and brand planning.

Celio Health uses a bespoke research design that goes beyond traditional methodologies to develop innovative approaches for clients. This allows an organization to have insight that goes way beyond a discussion to gain critical insight needed in planning

They provide the critical foundation for innovation utilizing real, deep insight into beliefs, motivations, and drivers at an emotional as well as clinical, and rational level. The result is a complete alignment with customer needs and a roadmap to understand customer behavior better. Understanding customers intimately allows for better brand planning and asset positioning

Be Prepared to Adapt Quickly

Being prepared to adapt quickly means having employees that are well trained and able to move quickly as market changes occur. Employees are your brand and they bring the real value to your assets. In terms of the coronavirus pandemic healthcare companies are asked to anticipate needs and then to ramp up quickly to meet those needs. Employees must be able to work in high stress situations where certainties shift. This must be true for regular workers as well as management. Arming everyone with the right data helps them to perform better.

Have Flexible Company Protocols

Company operations and protocols must also be flexible. Multiple vendors must be sourced and at the ready to supply or modify orders. Healthcare companies must engage multiple supply chains in case one collapses on short notice. And they must use the data they receive to determine where the market is and where it is heading. At the center of a company’s success in acting quickly and with precision is the constant inflow and management of high quality market and customer data. This forms the foundation for asset and brand planning.

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Construct Your Project Well With These 6 Tricks

Running a construction project involves a lot more than telling men where to hammer things. You are responsible for the core of the project: it’s financials. Learning how to cut costs is key to managing construction projects effectively.

 

Establishing Directive: Short Term Costs vs. Long Term Costs

First, you need to decide if your goals for this project are short term cost savings or long term. These are not always the same. The best goal for a company depends on its situation. Only you will know r current circumstances the best.

Short Term:

If you require to keep costs as low as feasible right now, focus on searching for short term solutions: I.e., Renting vs. Purchasing Equipment.

Long Term:

Long term cost savings can often cost more now. Run your project with as little debt as possible, and you will save huge on interest charges, but you will pay much more upfront.

If the company can afford to spend more now, it’s often possible to position it for a much stronger future thanks to long term savings.

Construction managers have numerous areas within their projects; they can find savings if they look hard. Below are only a few examples. The best construction managers will use them for inspiration and find even more using their experience and creativity.

Equipment Cost

Equipment in construction is one of the largest expenses of any construction project. How you manage these expenses determines in large part the size of the overall budget. Consider the merits of whether you should rent or buy each particular piece of equipment.

Equipment that will be used often should be purchased. Equipment that’ll only be used for one or two jobs a year may be better off being rented.

Labour Expenses

Next up are your labour costs. Sometimes fewer higher-paid workers produce better, more cost-effective results than a larger quantity of unskilled workers. Decide whether it would be best for the project you are assigned to have fewer higher quality workers or a larger quantity of lower quality workers.

Eliminate Wasted Expenses

Keep records of previous projects. In the end, tally up everything that was wasted. Over a year, it is likely thousands of dollars. You won’t ever entirely eliminate waste, but you can save substantially by reducing it some.

Equipment Hire

When you need to break ground on a project and need an excavator, make sure you get the right excavator attachment hire. It is wise to hire construction equipment rather than investing. Else, you waste a lot of time & only using ineffective techniques.

Audit Accounts Regularly

It may be the least glamorous aspect of managing a project, but keeping your books in order is just as important as everything the foreman does. Auditing accounts will let you cut off expenses accruing before they mount too high a cost.

Create Budgets Before Breaking Ground n a New Project

Make sure that for every project you begin, there is a professional estimate that has been done. Never walk blind into a project. That is the easiest way to go way over budget. If you have an idea of where you want the final budget, it is a lot easier to land close to that number.

Bargain With Multiple Vendors For All Regularly Ordered Items

Please do not accept the first price you are quoted for anything you order, whether it’s a piece of equipment, part, or something else.

You can save huge sums if you are negotiating with multiple vendors to find the best prices before ordering things.

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Why Smart Packaging is So Important for Creative E-Commerce Stores

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but the fact remains that the packaging for your product is the first thing people notice. Packaging may also make or break their purchasing decision. More importantly, the packaging can help sell the product even when you’re selling it online.

The impact of packaging goes well beyond the color scheme and buzz words printed on the outside of the box, which is why you’ll need to be creative and find ways to make your packaging stand apart while keeping production and shipping costs low. Let’s learn why smart packaging is so important for creative e-commerce stores.

Lower Logistical Costs

E-commerce companies are shifting from the practice of wrapping a product and putting it in a plain box to ship it to putting products in branded boxes. By investing in branded corrugated boxes, you’re guaranteeing the product is protected during shipping. This means fewer things are returned because they were damaged in shipping, and fewer items are returned to the warehouse because they were lost in the shuffle. There will be fewer demands for refunds, too.

Flexible packaging can also protect the product while taking up less space. It will also lower storage and shipping costs. Services like The Packaging Lab allow you to create custom packaging online in minutes and have it ready to try almost immediately. Shifting from boxes you stuff inside boxes to branded flexible packages that fit inside almost anything allows you to ship in the most economical package available.

Enhanced Branding

Branded boxes and other forms of custom packaging increase the branding of the product as well since the company name is seen by everyone who handles it. Furthermore, the customer knows when your order has arrived instead of seeing one more box on the front step.

More advanced package engineering like in-mold label graphics can help your products stand out even more. Others like embedded smart codes could help you link products to multimedia experiences like interactive recipe books, or instructions on how to properly recycle or dispose of the item when they’re done with it.

Keeping Up with the Customer’s Expectations

Smart packaging helps you keep up with your customer’s expectations. If you ship your product in a standup resealable pouch, your customers will appreciate the convenience. You’ll also gain points with consumers if the new packaging is frustration-free when they open it. When you use less material in the packaging and shipping of your products, you can advertise the fact that you’ve made your product more sustainable as well.

Adding functionality or improving performance is equated to higher quality. For example, a hybrid package that combines flexible and rigid materials could result in a package that stands up by itself on the shelf while remaining easy to ship in a densely packed crate when sent to retailers. Or you could shift to more secure packaging that’s less likely to leak or let in air, extending its shelf-life.

It is probably time to update and upgrade your brand’s packaging, so take the time to do it right. Investing in the right packaging will improve your profit margin as well as customer loyalty.

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Top 6 Major Technology Conferences in the US and Europe in 2020

We are currently halfway through 2020 and to say it has been an eventful year so far would be a bit of an understatement. With the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing on both sides of the Atlantic, the normal order of things has been altered quite dramatically, and nowhere is this truer than in the tech world. Many of the most eagerly anticipated tech conferences that were scheduled for this spring and summer have either been postponed, cancelled or are now taking place online for the first time.

While we all hope that the world gets back to normal sooner rather than later, all is not lost when it comes to the tech event calendar for this year. To help you keep your finger on the pulse of what is hot and what is not in the tech world this year, we have put together this list of the best conferences in the US and Europe that are still set to go ahead in what remains of this year.

  1. Enterprise Data World, Chicago, IL (October 18-23, 2020)

Originally scheduled to go ahead at the end of March in San Diego, California, the 24th annual Enterprise Data World (EDW) Conference has moved location and been postponed until October. EDW is renowned as one of the premier educational conferences on data management in the world. Here, you will find over 1,000 data professionals from around the world, all of whom have come to learn from experts and peers. You will learn a wide range of practical, actionable solutions that you can take back with you to the office.

  1. UXDX Conference, Dublin (October 7-9, 2020)

The annual UXDX Conference taking place in Dublin, Ireland is a place where you can come to listen to the brightest minds in tech. This year’s event will feature actionable talks from high-profile speakers from some of the biggest names in tech, such as eBay, BuzzFeed, Verizon, GitHub and Shopify. UXDX is one of the fastest-growing conferences in Europe, with over 2000 attendees, 50 speakers, 40 talks and 15 workshops.

  1. Black Hat, Las Vegas, NV (August 1-6, 2020)

Attracting an attendance of more than 2000 delegates every year, the Black Hat conference is one of the most important events on the cybersecurity event circuit. Attendees are treated to a host of top names from across the tech industry who come to discuss the newest strategies on how to avoid data breaches. It delves into novel approaches that those at the top of the industry are taking to combat the hacker onslaught.

  1. AI & Big Data EXPO Europe 2020, Amsterdam (November 24-25, 2020)

As one of the leading tech conferences in Europe, AI & Big Data EXPO Europe 2020 is a hotbed for the latest technologies and strategies from the world of artificial intelligence and big data. Attended by over 8,000 industry experts, the expo showcases the most high-tech technologies from over 350 exhibitors and a chance to listen to talks from over 500 speakers sharing their real-life experiences and unrivalled industry knowledge.

  1. CSO50 Conference, Scottsdale, AR (7-9 December, 2020)

The CSO50 Conference in Scottsdale is an event that provides a space for security industry experts to exhibit world-class security strategies. It explores developments in the business risk landscape and how enterprise technology is rapidly advancing and exposing new threats posed by the Internet-of-Things (IoT). This is a great event to attend if you are curious about the level of cyber threat that affects your business. 

  1. UX and Digital Design Week, London (August 10-14, 2020)

Taking place at various locations across London, England, UX and Digital Design Week is one of the smaller events on this list. But while it may be low-key, it is still one of the best places to get inspiration for your current design projects. It provides an immersive experience that gives a chance to get a glimpse of the hottest design trends and latest inventions out there as well as the opportunity to meet the teams behind them.

If you are from the United States but plan to attend one of these great conferences next year when things on the public health front have calmed down a bit, do not forget that the visa process for US citizens coming to Europe is set to change from January 2021 with the ETIAS visa exemption. It works in much the same way as the ESTA visa that EU citizens currently have to apply for before travelling to the United States. For more information on the ESTA visa, check out this excellent ESTA guide.

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4 Essential Business Costs

Most startup owners start with a small budget, so the ability to maximize funds is an important entrepreneurial survival skill. 

However, if you don’t figure out and focus on business spending priorities, it might end up hindering your business growth in the long run. What you skimp on today may cost you big tomorrow. 

We’ve put together some essential business costs that you must factor into your tight budget as a business owner.

Hiring Talent

It is important to find employees to identify and develop different talent when you are looking to move the company forward.

While paying the minimum wage might be enticing to save business expenses, if you have some fantastic talents, you may want to consider paying them fairly. You need to compensate them accordingly if they prove valuable assets to your business.

This not only saves you in employees turnover but it also subsequently saves you money and time as undervaluing your employees may lead to them quitting, which will lead to a costly rehiring process.

Marketing

If potential customers do not know that your business exists, it doesn’t matter how great your products or services are, and you will not be able to grow. Successful enterprises have a strong marketing plan which identifies their target markets and outline strategies to reach them. And while startups may be tempted to lower their marketing budgets to save cash, the fact is that ineffective marketing would hamper business growth.

Insurance

One area you definitely don’t want to skimp on is business insurance. While it may be rare for a business to be hit by an accident or disaster, it absolutely does happen.

Small business owners should invest in insurance companies to provide their company adequate cover and ensure its continued survival in the event of a fire, burglary, litigations and other disasters that could occur. In addition, a good insurance policy will provide added protection for your business products as well as your employees. 

Small business and startup owners are always trying to work out which business area to cut cost and save money. Discussed above are five essential areas not to skimp. With that sorted, you can increase the chances of success for your business. 

Technology

Putting the right frameworks in place from the outset will help improve efficiency and accelerate success. By having technology that can streamline processes now, you can build a solid foundation and start to sustain growth for your business.

Your website is yet another vital component of your business. Never skimp it out. First impressions matter, and because of the way we primarily search for new offers online, it is vital your website looks professional as it will quickly communicate the right message to potential customers.

For a lot of startups, the idea of spending money is daunting. Whether that money comes from a grant, investors or those first few sales, it can be hard to part with. However, the four things outline in this article is some of the key areas where it is necessary to spend money to see real growth and development for your business.

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Why Skilled Implementation Is Critical To Business Strategies

If you’re aware of the importance of business strategy, you most likely know that it’s much easier to put your thoughts to paper than to actually implement your ideas. For many business owners, implementation doesn’t always come naturally, though nearly 39% of business owners know that skilled implementation is key to driving their strategies home. But what does this mean? Just as you would require a specialist to implement a winning marketing strategy, it’s important to involve professionals when it comes to business strategy, too.

The Formulation Of Strategy 

One of the most important parts of a business strategy is the actual formulation. In many cases, formulation of the strategy can take as long as the actual implementation. Resources exist to help with the formulation of the strategy, but if you’re not familiar with the processes or terminology, this might just be lost on you. It’s during this process where defining critical factors such as SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) become integral. Fortunately, business coaches and strategists have the skills to ask the right questions in order to formulate a successful strategy, and consulting them for advice or guidance can be crucial to your roll out.

The Implementation Of Change Management 

Change management can be particularly tough, especially if this change eats into operational output and time constraints for the business. It can also place staff under severe pressure if the new processes are foreign to the leadership and support is not readily available. While this might not be an important factor for new businesses, it can play a defining part for those who are already familiar with existing processes and systems. The risk of ineffective change management can tank particularly if the change is due to operational risk, legislature, or technological advancements in the market.

Effective change management requires the assistance of business strategy consultants who can provide the support and training needed to facilitate the change. It’s important that the business strategists are able to monitor the progress of the change management to ensure it takes place in a timely and cost-effective manner. Without this, businesses can lose out on their strategic objectives, significant investments, and perhaps even fail to meet industry requirements.

The Oversight To Bring Strategic Objectives Home 

A business strategy means very little when it’s implemented, but there is no objective or goal to reach. One of the ways to ensure that a business strategy meets its objectives is to use a SMART business plan. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals provide business strategists with the criteria for setting an achievable business plan in place. The single most important component of SMART goals to drive strategies home is “T” for time-based. It’s impossible to reach a business goal or objective successfully without knowing what the timeframe is. Not only will it create a sense of urgency around the objectives, but it will also keep the strategy top of mind. The other components of SMART goals are most essential in the formulation and implementation stages.

A business strategy is important to reach specific business goals. With the right team behind it, a business strategy transitions from being just a dream, and instead, becomes actionable objectives.

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How Tech Is Changing Investment

The nature of how we invest has changed an incredible amount in a very short time. Today, it seems incredible that there was once a time in the not so distant past where placing an order for stock required calling up your stockbroker and explaining exactly what you wanted them to do. Instead of going through the rigmarole of going through a human third party, the digital revolution changed the world of investment so that it is barely recognizable from the past. Much of investment is now done through handheld smartphones via online brokerage apps like the FXTM mobile app, which allows people to trade stocks and shares in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, South Africa, and Mauritius. This has democratized the world of investment, making it accessible to the many and not just the few.

If there is one thing that is for certain, it is that the inexorable pace of technological change will bring even more revolutionary advances to how we invest in the future. Here are just a few groundbreaking developments that we might see in the near future.

1. Blockchain

Blockchain is the name for the sophisticated coding which allows cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to run. While blockchain is mainly used for cryptocurrencies at the moment, developers are only just waking up to its vast potential for use in a wide array of other arenas, one of which is investment.

The incorporation of blockchain into the stock exchange in the near future is set to revolutionize the nature of how transactions are realized. A stock exchange which runs using blockchain will majorly cut down on costs and the time it takes to complete a transaction. Lower running costs will likely have a positive knock-on effect for investors in the form of lower fees.

2. AI Wealth Managers

One of the biggest changes that is already upon us has to do with artificial intelligence. Algorithms used in technology that has come to be known as “fintech” is now sophisticated enough to compete with traditional methods of delivering financial services.

Data from recent studies show that an increasing number of investors now consider the advice given by AI financial advisors as more useful and accurate than that given by their human counterparts. These opinions have been borne out in evidence that shows that AI has helped to save investor returns in the 2020 market crash.

As AI technology moves even further into the realm of science fiction, the door has been left open to the possibility that human investment experts could realistically be supplanted by AI and super-intelligent algorithms in a few years.

3. Next-Gen Financial Instruments

Since the advent of the modern financial markets, the proliferation of new financial instruments has been simply breathtaking. New financial innovations appear every year, and this trend is only set to accelerate as we move into a new age of technology. Indeed, keeping up with the bewildering array of new tools at our disposal is something that even investment experts struggle with. There seems to be literally no end to the number of new ways that we can speculate using advances in technology.

4. Increased Personalization

One of the great things about the tech revolution is that it has allowed people who would previously have had no access to the stock market to participate. At just the click of a button, anybody with an account with an online brokerage account can now invest and make money on any asset class using any financial instrument they choose. As mobile technology improves, so will the access that people have to investment opportunities. This could theoretically have the effect of leveling the economic playing field, reducing the inequality that exists among people in different geographic regions of the globe.

The world of investment has always been at the cutting edge of technology. Where money is concerned, investors are prepared to use any advantage that they can derive from technology that they can to maximize profits and minimize risk. While it is hard to predict the future, we can be certain that technology will continue to play a massive role in how markets run and how we make the decisions that inform our investment choices. We can only hope that these advances will help to bring the potential of investing closer to more people.

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Finding Funds – 5 Places To Source Emergency Money In A Time Of Crisis

With 22 million people in America now unemployed, having enough money for groceries, rent and bills is a serious concern. The novel coronavirus is tragic because of the loss of life but also because of the severe economic impact it’s having on people worldwide. 

If you are struggling to make ends meet and need money urgently, it can be easy to slip into a feeling of hopelessness, and many people get trapped into borrowing from unscrupulous lenders with high-interest rates and inflexible repayment terms. To avoid this situation, consider the five tips below before going ahead with a loan.

Assess Your Loan Options

All loans are not created equally, and choosing the wrong one can lead to a negative cycle of debt from which it is hard to escape. We have all seen the quick cash advertisements on TV promising money in your account straight away, but it’s crucial that you read the fine print and compare your options. 

You can find payday loan alternatives online and through various banks. Some providers offer loans specifically designed to help low-income earners through financial hardship by setting you up with low or no interest.

Use Your Emergency Fund

If you have been financially savvy and in a position to save up an emergency fund, now is the time to use it. When you are risk-averse and economically conservative, it can be a difficult decision to dig into your savings. But if you have been collecting spare funds for a rainy day, rest assured – this is that rainy day.

Check Your Government Entitlements

If you have lost your job or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, there are a variety of government support options to which you may be entitled. Check online to find out if you are eligible.

Sell Some Things Online

If you are out of work at the moment, you might have some spare time to do a cleanout at home. In times of crisis, the secondhand economy is even more critical than ever. Kids still wear through their shoes, grow out of their clothes, and people may still need a table, television, or kitchen item. 

Once you have sorted through the things you no longer need, take a look on Gumtree, eBay, and Craigslist and see what similar items are available and the prices listed. Find a spot with good lighting to shoot your photos, and include as much detail as possible. The more information you add, the less time you spend sending 25 people the dimensions of your item! 

As a bonus, you will get the satisfaction of doing a good cleanout at home. Just remember that some restrictions may apply to item pickup – check your local social distancing guidelines.

Access Your 401K

Financial advisors have always recommended that you don’t touch your 401K until retirement. To discourage early withdrawals, funds generally have hefty fees if you want to access this money before you reach retirement age. However, given the unprecedented economic downturn, penalties for accessing this account have been loosened. Qualified individuals can take an early distribution from their fund of up to $100,000 without penalty. Keep in mind that you should only access your retirement fund as a last resort. 

The COVID-19 pandemic will have an enormous impact on millions of families around the world. If you are one of those families and you are struggling financially, explore the suggestions listed above. If you need extra assistance, try reaching out to a credit counselor to discuss your options. 

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