The Pros and Cons of Using Airbnb


Airbnb is an online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. Airbnb users include hosts and travelers: hosts list and rent out their unused spaces, and travelers search for and book accommodations in 192 countries worldwide. A diminution of “air mattress B&B,” Airbnb has grown from appealing to couch-surfing budget-conscious tourists to business travelers seeking a more memorable experience that allows for a different level of collaboration amongst colleagues. Last year Airbnb raised $1.5 billion in funds that brought the value of the company to about $25.5 billion. This made it worth more than the Chicago, Ill.-based Hyatt Hotels Corp (NYSE:H) and the Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J.-based Wyndham Worldwide Corp (NYSE:WYN), respectively.

For more on companies that are shaking up their respective industries, check out How do ride sharing companies like Uber make money?

While questions about the substantial valuation have dominated Airbnb-related news in the past, many people are asking whether or not Airbnb is something that could work for them. Here, we look at Airbnb – what it is, how it works, and the pros

3 Ways to Invest Your Tax Refund


Tax time is around the corner, which means many people are going to be sitting on a windfall thanks to Uncle Sam. While the knee-jerk reaction is to cash that check and spend it, a smarter option is to invest it.

But before you can begin investing it, you need to figure out your goals. For example, are you investing with an eye toward a big purchase like a home or car, or are you socking it away for retirement or for a college education? Or maybe you can create an emergency fund. Either way, your goals are going to dictate your investment style, which is why you need to first figure out what you want to do with your tax refund.

Short-term Goals Mean Your Investment Needs to Be Protected

For investors who are saving for the purchase of a home or a car, the idea is to see your money grow but at the same time keep it protected. After all, you don’t want to lose your entire down payment because you chose to invest in a high-flying stock that imploded. If homeownership is around

Tips for Finding Affordable Health Insurance


When the Affordable Care Act went into full effect in 2014, it gave uninsured Americans a powerful incentive to go out and obtain a health policy: a fee if they didn’t comply. And while the penalty was relatively mild then, it’s only been increasing since 2015. As a result, many individuals who never thought they could afford health insurance are being pushed into the marketplace.

There is some good news for those on a budget, however. The ACA provides more insurance options than before. And those on the lower end of the income scale qualify for subsidies that make premiums a lot more manageable.

If you’re one of the many Americans looking for insurance on their own because they don’t get coverage through work, here’s what you need to know to keep your payments as low as possible.

See if You Can Get a Subsidy

If you’re buying an individual health care plan, you can either do so the old-fashioned way – purchasing it directly from a carrier – or shop policies on your state’s health insurance exchange. An exchange, or “marketplace,” is comprised of private insurers who

Reasons Why Stockbroking Is Getting More Popular In The Past Decade

Stockbroking is becoming more popular since the last decade. Now many people prefer the stockbroking as they find it an easy option to earn money with a right investment. Like any trade and business, stockbroking also demands dedication, hard effort, constant practice, and determination to make long –term profits. But the advantage of the stockbroking is that there will be no constraint of time, no certain educational qualification and you will not need a huge investment. The process might not be that easy. But if you work with the successful traders like CMC markets then the process will be much easier. You can start working as a part-time or full -time job. In the initial phase, you might face some difficulties as you will have to understand the successful techniques and tricks to prove yourself in this trade.

Do you want to know why stockbroking is so popular? Do you want to choose it as a career option? If yes, then go through this article to know why the stockbroking is a favorable option and what the benefits of the stockbroking career are.

Work at your convenient time: For the stockbroking, you do not need

Is a Diesel Vehicle Worth the Investment in Richmond?

When you’re shopping around for a vehicle in Richmond you actually have a number of different options. One of those options is to purchase a traditional gas or diesel vehicle and when you make your decision you have to take into account a number of different factors. Many people think of diesel as only being for large vehicles, like huge trucks and rigs and they think of dirty gasoline in the air at the same time, but there are several things you definitely should know about a diesel vehicle because you may decide you want one.

Lots More Power

A diesel vehicle has more torque in it and that means it can get going faster and it can tow a whole lot more. That’s why trucks use it after all, because they are built to tow a lot of weight. But those vehicles are also built to get up and go too, because the diesel engine is used in a variety of sporty vehicles as well, which you really want to be able to take off with quick. That’s part of the fun right?

Hold Their Value

You always want a vehicle that’s going

6 Steps to Becoming a Real Estate Agent

Becoming a successful real estate agent is a combination of investing time in education, researching a broker who can help you get your first clients and passing state and national licensing exams. But that’s not all there is to the industry. Read on to find out some of the more overlooked aspects of the real estate business.

1. Get Educated

No matter in which state you live, you must take pre-licensing courses. However, state requirements differ greatly. For instance, California requires three college-level courses. Others (such as Idaho, which requires two courses totaling 90 hours) require a set number of hours of education. Contact your state’s real estate commission for your state’s requirements for licensing.

Some real estate agencies have specific education requirements. Thus, you may have to take an additional course after being hired on with an agency.

2. Choose a Brokerage

A real estate brokerage is the agency or office from which real estate agents and brokers work. Since working with a broker is a requirement in order to practice as a real estate agent, you will need to contact a broker before graduating from your training course. Brokers have at least three years additional real estate training, and can guide you through

The Return of the three percent Down Mortgage

Although many people believe a home mortgage requires a 20% down payment, that’s just not true. Putting down 20% is simply what it typically takes to avoid being required to take out private mortgage insurance (PMI). (For more see: Private Mortgage Insurance: Avoid It for These 6 Reasons)

Now there’s a way to put down significantly less than 20% and still avoid paying for PMI.

3% Down and No PMI

A new mortgage product from Bank of America Corp. lets a borrower put down as little as 3% of the selling price on a home loan. What’s more, you don’t have to take out private mortgage insurance, a move that could save you hundreds of dollars on your monthly house payment.

Homebuyers who have little money for a down payment often turn to low-down-payment mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), but those require PMI. (For more, see: HUD vs. FHA Loans: What’s the Difference?) Sidestepping the FHA is the key to avoiding the PMI requirement. Going around the FHA also helps Bank of America since the FHA has a habit of fining banks for what BOA considers minor errors in loan paperwork, a move that cost the bank $800 million in 2014.


How to Calculate Your Tangible Net Worth

Your net worth can be calculated by subtracting your liabilities from your assets. If your assets exceed your liabilities, you will have a positive net worth. Conversely, if your liabilities are greater than your assets, your net worth will be negative. You might calculate your net worth to quantify how you are doing financially at this point in time, or to evaluate your financial progress over time. For certain applications, however, this basic net worth calculation may not be adequate. If you are the holder of copyrights, patents or other intellectual property (IP), you may need to calculate your tangible net worth – the sum of all your tangible assets minus the total amount of your liabilities. Businesses, for example, determine tangible net worth to determine the liquidation value of the company if it were to cease operations and be sold. This figure can also be important to individuals who are applying for personal or small business loans, and where the lender demands a “real” net worth figure.

What Is Tangible Net Worth?

Similar to net worth in that it takes into consideration assets and liabilities, your tangible net worth goes one step further and subtracts the value of any intangible assets,

What Will it Cost to Hire an Accountant in 2016?

Not everyone has the time nor expertise to prepare a complicated tax return or balance the general ledger for a small business. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to hire an accountant who can do the work for you.

But before you hire someone, it’s vital that you have a basic understanding of how much an accountant charges. In the world of professional services, the cost isn’t always transparent; that’s why it’s important to ask for rates ahead of time and compare it to other providers. (For more, see How To Find A Smart Accountant.)

Tax Help

Many individuals only talk to an accountant a couple times per year during the heart of tax season. The amount you can expect to pay for help with a filing depends on the complexity of your return and the type of company you engage.

According to a National Society of Accountants (NSA) survey, the average price tag for both a Form 1040 and state return with a standard deduction was $159 last year. Putting together a federal return with itemized deductions takes a little more time; these filings, together with the state return, carried an average cost of $273.

However, the base price will vary based

How Restricted Stock and RSUs Are Taxed

Employee compensation is a major expenditure for most corporations; therefore, many firms find it easier to pay at least a portion of their employees’ compensation in the form of stock. This type of compensation has two advantages: it reduces the amount of cash compensation that employers must pay out, and also serves as an incentive for employee productivity. There are many types of stock compensation, and each has its own set of rules and regulations. Executives that receive stock options face a special set of rules that restrict the circumstances under which they may exercise and sell them. This article will examine the nature of restricted stock and restricted stock units (RSUs) and how they are taxed.

What Is Restricted Stock?

Restricted stock is, by definition, stock that has been granted to an executive that is nontransferable and subject to forfeiture under certain conditions, such as termination of employment or failure to meet either corporate or personal performance benchmarks. Restricted stock also generally becomes available to the recipient under a graded vesting schedule that lasts for several years.

Although there are some exceptions, most restricted stock is granted to executives that are considered to have “insider” knowledge of a corporation, thus making it

5 Countries Where Its Easy to Gain Citizenship To Retire

For any number of reasons, many people consider retiring in another country. A foreign country may offer a lower cost of living, which can be important to seniors with limited retirement savings. Some countries may have especially appealing climates. For some retirees, it may simply be a case of a country they fell in love with during their life travels and vowed to themselves they would one day come back and retire there.

For a person planning to settle down permanently in a foreign country, it is usually desirable to obtain citizenship in that country since it simplifies things such as opening bank accounts and owning property. Some may choose to go for dual citizenship, obtaining a second passport, while others may prefer to dump their U.S. citizenship altogether and simply become citizens of their new home countries.

Some countries allow dual citizenship and some do not. It is no secret that more and more wealthy Americans, feeling their fortunes threatened by oppressive U.S. taxation, have chosen to renounce their U.S. citizenship in favor of becoming citizens of nations such as Singapore or Chile.

There are a number of factors to consider in regard to obtaining new citizenship and a second passport. Among

The 6 Most Anticipated IPOs of 2016

As far as tech startup companies go, 2015 will likely go down as one of the most unmemorable for initial public offerings (IPOs) in many years. The most anticipated tech IPO was Square, which didn’t fare too well. GoDaddy wasn’t a huge IPO but at least it performed well post-public offering. However, 2015 was very significant in terms of private funding, with more than $25 billion flowing into late-stage tech startups from venture capitalists. The availability of private funding may be one reason why there weren’t more tech IPOs in 2015, but it has also created a backlog of companies with billion-dollar valuations that are ripe for IPOs.


If Uber Technologies Inc. goes public in 2016, it could be the largest IPO since Alibaba in 2014. Its current valuation of $60 billion would eclipse Facebook’s valuation of $50 billion at the time of its IPO. The worldwide car-sharing phenomenon is growing at an unprecedented rate, with total bookings tripling from nearly $3 billion in 2014 to an expected $10.8 billion in 2015. With Uber collecting 20% of every fare, it is generating serious revenue. Investors

Your App Is Safest

For most people, accessing your bank or investment account information online now feels very ordinary. You may not give it a second thought, but experts say that you should. In a world where cyber threats are increasing and attacks are becoming more sophisticated, it’s time to take steps to make your online banking experience as safe as possible. (For more, see How Online Banking Evolved Into a Financial Tool.)

Don’t Assume Your Bank Is Protecting You

It would be nice if your bank kept your money 100% safe, but that’s an impossible task without seriously limiting what you can do online. There are two things you can do to help protect yourself. First, choose a strong password, one that includes letters and numbers that don’t contain personal information. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If it’s connected to you in any way, hackers can make that connection, too.

Second, enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication requires not just a username and password but some other form of identity that only that person can hold. Often it’s a random code generated from another device. Unfortunately, many banks don’t use two-factor authentication, but if yours does, enable it.

Download the App From Your Bank

You can download your

Social Security for the Self Employed How It Works

When you work as an employee for someone else, that company or organization takes Social Security taxes out of your paycheck and sends the money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If your annual salary is $50,000, the amount that will go to Social Security over the course of the year is $3,100 because the Social Security tax rate is 6.2%. Your employer will match an additional $3,100 over the course of the year, and it will also report your Social Security wages to the government. When you retire, or if you become disabled, the government will use your history of Social Security wages and tax credits to calculate the benefit payments you’ll receive. (Learn more in Tax Withholding: Good for Government, Bad for Taxpayers and Understanding the US Tax Withholding System.)

What Happens When You’re Self-Employed?

The process is a bit different if you are self-employed. You’re both the employee and the employer, so it’s your responsibility to withhold Social Security from your earnings and contribute the employer’s matching portion of Social Security as well as the individual’s portion. But instead of withholding Social Security taxes from each paycheck – many self-employed people don’t give themselves regular paychecks, after all –

How Elon Musk Will Revolutionize the Modern World

Throughout history, humans have dreamed of what the future will be like. We have envisioned flying cars, teleportation devices, vacations to outer space, and much more. A lot of it is pretty farfetched, some of it is impossible, and yet other aspects aren’t as far away as you might think.

Elon Musk, Founder, and CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) (and other companies) has brought the science fiction fantasies much closer to reality than many people realize. His concepts and inventions could potentially revolutionize the way that we do life.

Digital Currency

While most came to know Elon Musk as the CEO of Tesla, Musk is also the co-founder of PayPal Holding Inc. (PYPL). It all started back in 1999 as a financial services company simply named In 2000, it merged with Confinity and developed the online payment system we now know as PayPal (the name was officially registered in 2001). When eBay Inc. (EBAY) purchased PayPal in 2002, Musk was able to fund his other projects. He then quietly slipped into research mode for the next dozen years or so.

PayPal has already revolutionized the way

What to Do Before Marrying Saver vs Spender

You’ve found the one you love and have decided to get married. However, while making plans for your shared life, you and your soon-to-be spouse discover that one of you is a spender and the other is a saver! Luckily, there are ways to manage joint finances that will leave both partners happy. Here are some tips to help you successfully navigate your way to a financial agreement:

Talk About Your Feelings Toward Money

Much of our approach to money comes from our feelings: Money may make you feel anxious or excited, and money management may fill you with calm or dread. Take some time before you get married to explore how you feel about money and why. Did you grow up in a household where money was tight? Did you never worry about where money was going? Your upbringing will have a strong impact on your feelings toward money, and your future spouse may not always agree with your stance.

If you understand the source of your spouse’s point of view regarding money, you’ll be better able to empathize and communicate compassionately if you disagree on a financial issue. (For more, see 5 Ways to Control Emotional Spending.)

Discuss How You’d Like to

inding the Best Accounts in 2016

Many people think of a money market account (MMA) as a type of investment. It’s important not to confuse a money market deposit account with a money market fund (MMF). While a money market deposit account is protected by either the FDIC or NCUA​ , a money market fund has no such protection. MMA’s and MMF’s are wildly different animals. If you want your money to grow safely, choose a money market account. If you want your money to grow aggressively, you’re a likely more suited to money market funds.

Overview of Money Market Accounts

While money market accounts can earn respectable interest rates, it’s better to think of them as a savings account with perks. Like a savings account, a money market account is a good place to park your money for a long period of time. But unlike a savings account, a money market account actually allows you to write checks. Some MMA’s even include a debit card.

You may be wondering why you shouldn’t simply use a high interest MMA instead of a checking account. That could work for some people. But very few.

Most people shouldn’t rely on an MMA for their checking goals. That’s because there are limits on

Does Buying a Guaranteed Life Insurance Policy Make Sense

Does it make sense to buy a guaranteed life insurance policy? Generally, when you buy a product or service that is guaranteed you are making a decision to transfer, for a cost, the risk of product or service failure back to the manufacturer or provider.

We all make choices about retaining (self-insuring) or transferring risk (buying insurance) every day—sometimes knowingly and sometimes inadvertently. For example, when selecting a higher or lower deductible on your homeowner’s, health and auto insurance or when deciding whether or not to buy travel insurance for a vacation.

The challenge is understanding how the risk could affect your financial situation and whether you should retain or transfer it. The decision depends on many factors including the amount at risk, the reason for the coverage and your financial situation. For instance, if you are self-employed, and your liquidity can vary, you may opt for coverage with guaranteed fixed payments. While someone with a more stable income or greater wealth may feel more comfortable taking the chance that premium payments could vary.

Guaranteed VS. Non-guaranteed Policies

Insurance is all about the management of risk. Unlike individuals, insurers can manage risk by pooling together a large number of individual policies. Depending on

How to Optimize Taxable Portfolios in Bear Markets

A drop in the stock market is not generally considered a pleasant thing, but it can provide an opportunity for financial advisors to help their clients upgrade their taxable portfolio.

Go Shopping

If your clients have cash waiting on the sidelines looking for a good opportunity to put this money to work, a down market is the time to go shopping. Buying good investments at a lower price is the ultimate buy low, sell high strategy. As always be sure the investments you are looking to buy are still good long-term bets and they are not cheap for reasons other than prevailing market conditions. This is especially true with individual stocks. (For more, see: Top Tax Planning Tips for Volatile Markets.)

The advantage in a taxable account is the preferential treatment of long-term capital gains if the investment is held for at least a year and a day. Another advantage is the ability to use appreciated investments that have been held for a year and a day to make charitable donations for those clients who are charitably inclined.

Tax-Loss Selling

If the weakness of early 2016 and the summer of 2015 have caused some of your taxable holdings to drop it might be time to

Top Tips for Advisors Transitioning Into an RIA

The rules and compliance headaches that come with using a broker-dealer have caused many independent financial advisors to move to a registered investment advisor (RIA) platform that affords them greater freedom and fewer compliance trip wires. But this transition must be handled with great care in order to minimize potential errors and unforeseen circumstances.

Here are several steps that you can take to help ensure that your company makes a smooth transition into the RIA arena and protects both you and your clientele. (For related reading, see: RIAs and Brokers: What’s the Difference?)

Due Diligence

Before you do anything else, look around at other RIA shops to see how they operate. Talk to some of them to find out what issues they encountered when they switched and how their clients reacted to the change. Try to get a feel for the different types of platforms and approaches there are available to advisors in this sector and how well they fit with your style of management. And, of course, make certain that any platform that you move to has all of the products and services that your clients will need, such as alternative offerings, private equity and other money management services.

If your clients will