The Benefits of Planning

Planning ahead in the college application process is one of the most valuable steps towards getting into the right school and acquiring the right education.  High school students need to be highly aware of the application deadlines that start appearing well ahead of their May graduation date.  They also need to plan in advance for the standardized testing.

Colleges and universities use the ACT or SAT to evaluate students on their academic performance.  It is important for students to take these tests very seriously, and therefore students need to aim for the highest possible score as possible.  If the desired college has an application deadline of late fall, all testing will need to be completed by early fall.  With ACT exams only being administered every few months, the timeline needed to accomplish a testing goal must encompass multiple months.

This multi-month action plan can include taking the test more than once to learn it and become comfortable with the environment.  An additional tool that some students use is test prep from a professional service.  Students looking for an SAT tutor should make multiple visits to an ACT or SAT tutor to take practice tests, reduce stress, and understand the types of questions that might be encountered on the exam.  Starting this level of preparation in the spring can really pay off in the late fall when applications are due.

Find the Right Design Team

It’s easy to find a company that can fulfill your specific needs when it comes to customizing certain things.  A clothing store can easily ship you a shirt in the correct size and a restaurant can remove toppings from your pizza or add sides to your order to make your meal complete.  But when you want to personalize something and make it truly unique, not all design teams are equal.

Finding a design team that can share your vision takes patience.  Most companies will claim to be able to deliver exactly what you need, but this might not be the case.  Decorating a custom birthday cake or adding unique words to a birthday card is easy.  Customizing clothing or designing a logo for a new company takes a great deal of communicating from the client and listening from the designer.

One of the better ways to pick a designer is to look for a design tool that lets you create your own image or logo.  A business that offers custom T-shirts in Columbia, MO has a design tool that lets clients build a mock-up design directly on a pretend piece of clothing.  A tool like this saves clients and businesses a great deal of time when it comes to figuring out exactly what the customer wants at the beginning of the design process.

How to Prevent Home Fires

Have your heating system checked by a heating and cooling company.  If the furnace isn’t working properly it could start a fire in your home.  A blower motor that is not cleaned could overheat and catch fire.  Also consider having your chimney and fireplace checked.

The same principle applies to the lint trap of your dryer.  If flammable lint and dust build up in the lint trap for too long, the heat coming from the dryer could set it on fire.  Remove lint from the lint trap after every use to keep anything from igniting, and it can also save you money as the machine remains at its highest efficiency.

Put out small fires before they get bigger.  Given the right conditions, a fire can double in size every 30 seconds, so a small fire should be put out immediately.  Use a fire extinguisher, such as a 5lb Buckeye ABC fire extinguisher.  It only costs $34.  And remember to store your fire extinguisher near an exit.  The kitchen might seem like the most appropriate place because of the stove being in the kitchen, but if a fire breaks out you’ll need to leave.  Having an extinguisher near a door greatly improves your chances of being able to use it before exiting.

How Beer Benefits from Coasters

Every business could benefit from more advertising, and in the same way better advertising is just as valuable, if not more.  The method in which a business sends its message is critical to the overall success of both the message and the business.  Take, for example, the rising business of craft beer.

 

The craft beer market is growing and with it, the ability to advertise with custom coasters. There are five reasons why custom coasters are a craft beer necessity.

  1. Brand awareness- There might not be any better way to make sure a beer drinker learns about a beer other than to tell him or her while they are drinking.  Custom coasters that sit beneath beer glasses and beer bottles are a constant source of brand awareness.  
  2. Boost sales- Custom coasters do more than tell people about new beers, they remind people to drink the brands and flavors they already know about.  An indecisive customer might select a craft beer only because they saw it on a custom coaster.
  3. Coasters are collectible-  If you make a coaster good enough, people take it home and suddenly the coaster becomes a free, long term advertisement.  People will keep their favorite coasters if they like the brand.
  4. Coasters are inexpensive-  The low cost of coasters, combined with their effectiveness, makes these advertisements some of the most cost-efficient ways of sending a message.
  5. Event reminders- Coasters serve as event reminders for upcoming events at a bar or restaurant.  From Karaoke nights to happy hour specials, coasters help people remember to return.

Zone Ten Product Photography Studio

One of the best ways to excel in business today is to maintain a clean, strong online presence.  Websites rely on sharp, high-resolution photographs to show products off to consumers. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have high-quality photos taken of your product.  Zone Ten Product Photography Studio specializes in product photography.

One of the chief advantages to using this studio is the rapid return time.  Other studios might encounter projects that move slowly and face delays.  Zone Ten features product photography with a 10-day production window.  That ten days begins when a client sends products to Zone Ten Product Photography Studio.  In less than ten business days, items are professionally photographed in high resolution on a white background.  Some products work better standing alone, but others are best in groups, so Zone Ten handles the project accordingly.  Zone Ten Product Photography Studio will even visit clients in the St. Louis area if the subject matter cannot be moved.

The advantages of working with a small studio nearly guarantee that clients are satisfied with their product photography experience.  Zone Ten is a small studio that communicates directly with the product owner to deliver exactly what is needed.  After the photos are taken, customers view and download the prints as JPEGs from the Zone Ten website.  Items are even returned if the product includes a return label.  The product photography of this company is one of the best opportunities for a business to present its product well online.

 

Two Great Home Loans in Missouri

There are two types of home loans in Missouri that offer noticeable benefits. Both are worth pursuing, if you qualify.

The first is a Missouri USDA loan. If you are looking for a mortgage in a rural area, consider a Missouri USDA home loan. With this program, over 1 million homebuyers have bought homes with little or no money down. The other USDA benefits are complete financing, 30 year fixed rates, and low payments. These advantages don’t apply to everyone though. Knowing if you qualify first can be a smart first step.

To qualify, consider your location, income, and credit. Location is dependent on the property being USDA eligible. Income refers to the cap which you must stay under, which is $75,000 per year. It must also be under 115% of the average income in the area. Credit refers to credit score. You must have a score of at least 620 or a strong credit history. Contact a mortgage consultant to learn more.

The second type of loan is for veterans in St. Louis. Qualifying for a Missouri VA loan is often easier than a regular mortgage. Anyone who served in the armed forces should consider the 100% financing and lack of down payment that comes with a St. Louis VA loan.

Benefits vary widely based on how long you served, but three things that are always necessary are having a good credit score, income, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility.

Considering a Missouri USDA loan or a St. Louis VA loan could save you significant amounts of worry, hassle, and money in the long run.

What Are Labor Unions

Unions Explained, the Pros and Cons

There are a lot of misconception surrounding unions. Politicians love to talk about unions, most showing support on the campaign trail. However, politicians rarely do anything with regards to unions. Some politicians are vocally opposed to unions noting the adverse affects a union might have on a business or the economy. Though for many Americans, there’s still a lot of confusion with regards to unions.

For almost a century, unions have been a major part of business in the United States.  Greatly benefiting from FDR’s New Deal economic policy, unions grew at extraordinary rates in the 1930s.  Today, labor unions are much different.  With manufacturing jobs having been shifted towards automation and some overseas, the union-heavy labor fields aren’t as big.  Still, millions of Americans belong to a trade union.

First off, it’s important to understand the definition of a union or trade union.  An organization of workers who have come together to achieve common goals such as protecting the integrity of its trade, improving safety standards, achieving higher pay and benefits such as health care and retirement, increasing the number of employees an employer assigns to complete the work, and better working conditions.

That definition is pretty straight-forwards and basic.  Additionally, there are two types of unions.  They are as follows;

Craft (or Trade) Union

Craft unions are typically independent of a particular organization or employer.  Craft unions consist of workers who specialize in a skill and profession.  Doctors and lawyers are part of craft unions.  Tests and a required skill set may be part of a craft union.

Industrial Union

Industrial unions consist of all workers that are in the same trade or work for the same employer.  They may not be skilled workers.  Often times, in industrial unions, all employees at a certain company are required to join a union.  This ensures that the union can control the supply of labor.

Unions can end up being controversial.  Different sides of the political spectrum have a different understanding of the pros and cons of unions.  If you’re economically conservative, you’ll probably see the cons more than the pros.  Conversely, if you’re economically liberal, the pros are probably more evident than the cons.  Both sides are right to some degree.  Unions have both helped workers and organizations while they’ve also done more harm than good.

Unions; the Pros

The main positive result attributed to unions is higher wages, better working conditions, and trade protection.

One major reason that workers decide to unionize is to avoid low wages and poor benefits.  When workers unionize, they can choose to strike or restrict the availability of labor until their employer meets their demands.  These demands can range from better health benefits or higher wages.

A second reason workers unionize is to campaign for better working conditions.  Better working conditions are not only beneficial to workers but also the employer.  Happy and motivated workers can perform better-reducing inefficiencies.

Unions; the Cons

Unions can end up causing adverse affects not only to businesses but also those in the union.  Large unions are often of the most concern to businesses.  Large unions, typically industrial unions, have an extraordinary amount influence on a business.  When large unions abuse their power, it can lead to higher wages, however, this could mean lower profits for the business.  Though unions will often get workers higher wages, the higher wages have effects on businesses.  These adverse effects could be reflected in layoffs and reduced profitability.

Additionally, some law firms and organizations have noted abuse by unionized workers.  Often times, unionized workers are protected and are very hard to terminate.  Therefore, some unionized workers take advantage of their employer.  Along the same lines, feeling immune from disciplinary action, some unionized workers by complete their job inefficiently.

The main concern with unions is that unionized labor will lead to an increase in costs and therefore, reduced revenue and profitability.

Overall

This post shows only a small portion of the union debate.  Unions are a complex issue.  On one hand, they are able to advocate for living wages, better working conditions, and increased benefits.  At the same time, inefficient and reduced revenue can arise from unionized workers.

The Most Common Types of Lawyers

The 5 Most Common Types of Lawyers

Not all lawyers are the same.  Not only are some lawyers and law firms better than others but not all lawyers can represent a crime or issue.  Estate lawyers can’t represent a client accused of domestic abuse and a criminal defense attorney can’t draft a will.  We’ve compiled a list of the most common types of lawyers and attorneys.

The Most Common Types of Lawyers

The Most Common Types of Lawyers

Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers represent clients who have been injured or involved in accidents.  Personal injury lawyers work to earn clients compensation from individuals or organizations.  Common injuries that personal injury attorneys are called upon to represent clients include car accidents, misdiagnosed illness, or workplace injuries.  Personal injury lawyers take a pre-determined percentage of any compensation won as a result of their representation in court.

Real Estate Lawyers

Real Estate Lawyers

Estate Lawyer

Most families or individuals will hire an estate lawyer.  Estate lawyers organize an individual’s or household’s assets prior to death or critical injury.  College trusts and wills are drafted by estate lawyers.

Divorce Lawyers

Divorce Lawyers

Divorce Lawyers

Each party in a divorce will end up calling upon a divorce lawyer.  Divorce lawyer’s main priority is to get their client the most assets possible.  Occasionally, divorce lawyers not only work towards getting assets but also custody of children.

Criminal Defense Lawyers

Criminal Defense Lawyers

Criminal Defense Lawyers

Criminal defense lawyers or criminal defense attorneys represent those who have been wrongly convicted of a crime.  Crimes include drug-related violations, domestic abuse, murder, assault, and federal crimes. The main goal criminal defense attorneys work toward is a not guilty verdict or the least amount of jail time or fines possible.

Business Lawyers

Business Lawyers

Corporate Lawyers

Corporate lawyers deal with a variety of issues.  These issues can range from mergers to working with unions.  On the business side of things, corporate lawyers work on forming companies, acquiring other companies, and mergers.  On the employee side, corporate lawyers will work with individual employees or unions.

What’s The Best Loan Origination Software?

Searching for the right Loan Software

Many lenders only begin looking for new loan origination software when they begin to have problems with their current LOS. Lenders have either spent so much time waiting on updates, creating workarounds for non-customizable issues, or their loan origination system no longer functions for their business model.

There are ways to avoid these software issues, if you get the right system in the first place, there should be no problems down the road. Therefore, when searching for either your first loan origination solution or completely new loan origination software, you should never forgo the research process.

It’s important in this new age of technology to do as much research as you can—maximizing results while trying to minimize time spent.

When you’re looking at new loan origination solutions for your businesses, make sure you keep these questions in mind so you get the right system in place from the start.

What is the Best Loan Origination Software?

What is the Best Loan Origination Software?

Does the system allow for a good partnership?

This should never be forfeited for a cheaper price or flashy system. A long-term partnership where a team knows and understands your business strengths and weaknesses helps whoever you choose to ensure clients get the attention they desire and the support they need.

Does it deliver speed to market?

Speed to market is an important element because getting your business back on track quickly is essential.

Is it a secure system?

It is extremely detrimental to business if a customer’s data is compromised. Not only is there sensitive and private information out there causing damage to the customer, but your company looks ill-equipped to deal with the realities of modern cyber security. Many loan origination software providers will use things like highly redundant data centers when dealing with clients.

PCI compliance is also important. PCI compliance is 12 requirements businesses must meet to ensure the security of customer and client data. They are in place to protect stored data and minimize vulnerabilities when it comes to unauthorized data access.

Does the system adapt to your company?

Nearly every lender varies in how they run their business. Choose a LOS that allows for basic needs and adds the right amount of customization to ensure clients have a perfect solution specific to their business. Choose a platform can grow with your business. Does it offer easily adaptable new features? Can their systems keep up with the growth of your lending demand?

What sort of technical and customer service options are available with the software?

Thankfully, many companies are starting to see the customer demand for outstanding customer service. Many software companies assign a designated Project Manager who will learn about the customer’s lending process and assist them with their ongoing needs. Make sure you know if you’ll have dedicated service or if you’ll be stuck waiting for a random call center representative who doesn’t know your business.

Fitbit’s smartwatch: all of the news and rumors

It’s no secret that Fitbit is hard at work on its new smart wearable. And since its purchase of Pebble in 2016, expectations for what’s next from the popular fitness company have risen exponentially.

Looking back on its last effort, the Fitbit Blaze, fitness tech aficionados have clamored for something more. Something that continues to track the usual batch of workouts and activities, but does so while bringing along a unique batch of apps, quirky watchfaces and with a design that rivals premium smartwatches from the likes of Apple, LG, Samsung and more.

But will it deliver? It’s still a little too early to say with certainty, especially since reports suggest that the device has had a troubled development. However, Fitbit’s track record is solid, even if some of its recent devices haven’t really rocked the wearables world from an innovation perspective.

Here’s everything we know about Fitbit’s next smartwatch, including news and rumors. 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Fitbit’s sophomore smartwatch effort
  • When is it out? Reportedly delayed from Spring to an autumnal launch
  • How much will it cost? Realistically, anywhere from $199 to $299 (about £231)

Fitbit watch price and release date

We’ve known since the that Fitbit is working on a full-fat smartwatch, but we’ve only learned recently that its projected Spring launch target has instead stumbled into late 2017, closely aligning with whatever Apple has planned for its autumn event.

However, this reported delay hasn’t stopped us from thinking about .

But just how much could such a smartwatch cost you? Given that the Fitbit Blaze launched at $199 (about £153), then soon after worked down to where it is now, at about $149, there’s a slim, but ever-present possibility that the smartwatch will land for a similar price. It’s much more likely that it will be $50 or up to $100 above the cost of the Blaze, at most. 

The Fitbit Blaze

Fitbit watch news and rumors

What we know to be true: Fitbit is currently working on a new smartwatch. Things we do not know: a lot of stuff about it, though this has changed of late.

Just recently, we might have gotten our first look at the Fitbit smartwatch, which is supposedly donned with the code name “Higgs”. What’s there to parse from a code name like that?

Credit: Yahoo Finance

Thankfully, the leaked render above gives us a pretty clear idea of how Fitbit’s next smart wearable may come together.

It’s rather easy to see how the Blaze and this Higgs render fall from the same tree. Many of its physical features look similar to that of the Blaze, but it’s all more refined looking around every corner.

We’ve heard reports that this wearable will feature swappable bands, a classic Fitbit move. In addition, sources say Fitbit’s upcoming smartwatch hosts a full color screen with 1,000 nits of brightness, an aluminum body and built-in GPS.

While it’s unclear how Fitbit’s smart, touch-based operating system has matured since the Blaze, there’s no question that its Pebble acquisition will likely result in a big improvement. At best, Higgs will be the most intuitive Fitbit model yet.

Additionally, the smartwatch is said to also allow mobile payment, music playback through Pandora, and, of course, heart-rate monitoring.

We’ll keep this section updated as more news, both confirmed and unconfirmed, comes through.