The Four Best Ways To Invest In Your Children’s Financial Future

When speaking of the four greatest ways to invest in your children’s future, one must start at home.

Childhood Training

Proper upbringing is an investment that will continue paying dividends into a child’s future. Some basic examples may include:

* Doing household chores in turn for a small allowance

* Encouraging part time jobs to save for college or their first car

* Setting up their first savings account

* Giving to a favorite charity or at church

Educational and Health Plan Coverage

With today’s unstable and volatile economic environment it would be wise to begin setting up a fund for the children’s education. Be it for a four-year degree program or a vocational certification course, having at least some funds in place will help make their road a little less strenuous when having to come up with tuition and other education expenses.

No one knows if any national health insurance will be in place when the time is needed. Therefore, preparing for a viable health plan for one’s children is another way to not only anticipate health expenses in the future but to be in a better position to confront them when they do occur. This can be done through company health plans or self-pay plans such as HMOs but health coverage is a must in any event.

Information Research

Today, through the Internet, parents can easily obtain the investment knowledge needed to make the best investments. By carefully researching each investment vehicle available and not moving too quickly, parents can fully formulate, within reason, what path to best take for their child’s financial future.

Carefully researching the vast depositories of knowledge available on the Internet’s “information highway” is a vitally important part of financial planning — and a prerequisite.

Setting Up A Financial Strategy

How can one know the best path to take if one doesn’t know the destination? Having specific goals and the strategic planning to achieve them are essential especially during times of economic uncertainty. As they grow older, teach the basic differences of having short-term, medium term and long-range goals. Also, show them some common investment vehicles for each category. Some examples of different investment classes may include:

  • Short-Term: U.S. Treasury Bills or Notes
  • Medium-Term: CDs or U.S. Savings Bonds
  • Long-Term: real estate and commodities such as gold

Childhood training, preplanned education/health plans, information researching and financial planning are truly the greatest ways to invest in your child’s future. Needless to say, it would be wise for parents to begin investing for their children as early as possible.

A Career Tip for Students – Have a Back-Up Plan

How many people do you know from college who ended up employed in careers entirely unrelated to their degrees? I know a few…actually, quite a few. Indeed, I would venture to say that a sizeable majority of college grads are now doing exactly what they did not set out to do. Out of survival necessity, or because a new dose of reality changed their interests or plans, they defaulted to something that simply did not figure into their original thinking. Dave has a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Washington, but, six years of stock clerk jobs later, along with some significant re-schooling, we see him working as a software engineer with Lockheed Martin. Janet has a B.S. in art history, but marriage, children, the cost of living, and the job market have directed her to re-train as a medical assistant. She is now working at a major hospital. These are both fictional characters and events, but they are based on an army of real cases.

So, if you are a student early in your college career and you are still thinking about choosing a major, or if you are a high school graduate looking forward, here is a piece of advice — don’t choose a major. Choose TWO majors. Particularly if your chosen major (which you are passionately attached to) is not something “hot”, as the job market goes, you may want to explore a second major that piques your interest but at the same time will afford you practical work opportunities as soon as possible after you graduate. In other words — HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN. This may mean taking a few extra courses. This may mean re-orienting your thinking a little about your future and your dreams. Here is a good first step in that direction: Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook online by going to bls.gov/oco.

This is an excellent and comprehensive source of information about a variety of occupations. It is produced and updated by the U.S. Department of Labor and it is entirely online — no need to purchase or order anything or complete an online registration form. For hundreds of occupations, this Handbook will tell you about training and education required, salaries, what the workers do on the job, the working conditions, information about the job market for each state, and, perhaps most relevant to our topic — expected job prospects and job search tips. After you have done a little homework with this and any other sources you can get your hands on, then look at the school programs and requirements related to your choice (or short-list of choices, as the case may be).

Always remember that, no matter what your career passion is at the moment, it is a good thing to diversify. Go for two or more skill/education sets, rather than one. You may be glad you did…and you may have a little more control over your future as a result, instead of the other way around.

How to Manage Your Student Loans More Effectively

With today’s current state of economy, it is not really surprising if you find yourself resorting to loans in order to cover for your financial needs. Loan is a indeed a part of one’s financial life. There are some situations where you can’t just avoid having a loan, and a good example of it are student loans. More often than not, students do not really concern themselves with their college loans while they are still in school. But once they have graduated they should definitely be careful so that they can pay their college loans without the burden of extra fees and high interest rates. Repayment of student loans can indeed become a little overwhelming. Fortunately there are tips that you can follow in order to minimize the burden of your student loans.

  • One of the most important thing that you can do is to familiarize yourself with your loan. It is imperative that you keep track of the lender, balance and the repayment conditions for each of your college loans. These information can inform you about the details with regards to your loan payments and forgiveness. Do not hesitate to inquire about the details of the loan from your lender.
  • Another thing that you should keep in mind with regards to your student loans is the grace period. The grace period of loans varies depending on the type of loan. Grace period in student loans refers to the allotted that is given to you before you need to make your first payment. As it is mentioned before, grace periods vary so it is important that you make the proper inquiries with regards to it so you avoid missing your first payment.
  • Always make sure that you stay in touch with your lender. If ever you are changing address or phone number, be sure that you let your lender know about it as soon as possible. There are bound to be problems if your lender tries to contact you and you are unreachable, it will cost you a lot of money. You should always read messages and emails with regards to your student loans. Ignoring the bills and payments is not the way to deal with student loans. Keep in mind that your lender works with you so you can settle the loan in the best way possible.
  • If you can, try getting a temporary job even if it has nothing to do with your field of study. Finding a job that fits your field of study can potentially take a long time. So while you wait for the right job for you, a temporary job can help you save money in order to pay your student loan.
  • It is not an easy thing to do, but if you can then try to limit your spending habits. Avoid making any unnecessary big purchases. If it is possible to move in back to your parents then it won’t hurt if you can. Every penny that you can save will definitely help in paying off your student loans.

How to Take Charge of Credit Repair – Your Role

As everyone knows, bad credit can take a toll on your finances and leave you with the inability to take out the loans or live the lifestyle that you would prefer. Credit repair is a way of improving FICO scores, helping improve your quality of life. One of the biggest mistakes that people make in their approach to FICO restoration is to only focus on the removal of black marks on their reports, by disputing them. However, there are a number of other ways that you can tackle this problem and often a more participatory role in the credit repair process is recommended, when working with a credit repair service.

The first step in repairing your FICO is to sit down with a professional service and have your consumer credit profile examined. Certainly, it’s important to take note of any suspicious derogatory information on the report. However, score optimization and deficiencies (lack of established accounts) are two other important puzzle pieces that help restore and or establish a rating. The services should include counseling on how to manage existing debt, opening revolving accounts to establish new credit and closing those accounts that are weighing heavily on a person’s rating. The individual and the repair agency should work together to achieve the best results and make the process of credit restoration an ongoing one.

In the event that a deficiency is the biggest problem, then you will need to open new account, which a repair service can assist in pointing you in the right direction. You will need to open the accounts that are geared towards giving you the best score benefit. Simply paying bills on time is no longer enough in today’s evolving financial ratings formula. A person needs to understand the fundamental building blocks involved in restoring credit and approach it from all of the three angles mentioned above. A professional service is the best way to go to solve these problems swiftly and without incident.

Why Do We Need Software Engineering?

To understand the necessity for software engineering, we must pause briefly to look back at the recent history of computing. This history will help us to understand the problems that started to become obvious in the late sixties and early seventies, and the solutions that have led to the creation of the field of software engineering. These problems were referred to by some as “The software Crisis,” so named for the symptoms of the problem. The situation might also been called “The Complexity Barrier,” so named for the primary cause of the problems. Some refer to the software crisis in the past tense. The crisis is far from over, but thanks to the development of many new techniques that are now included under the title of software engineering, we have made and are continuing to make progress.

In the early days of computing the primary concern was with building or acquiring the hardware. Software was almost expected to take care of itself. The consensus held that “hardware” is “hard” to change, while “software” is “soft,” or easy to change. According, most people in the industry carefully planned hardware development but gave considerably less forethought to the software. If the software didn’t work, they believed, it would be easy enough to change it until it did work. In that case, why make the effort to plan?

The cost of software amounted to such a small fraction of the cost of the hardware that no one considered it very important to manage its development. Everyone, however, saw the importance of producing programs that were efficient and ran fast because this saved time on the expensive hardware. People time was assumed to save machine time. Making the people process efficient received little priority.

This approach proved satisfactory in the early days of computing, when the software was simple. However, as computing matured, programs became more complex and projects grew larger whereas programs had since been routinely specified, written, operated, and maintained all by the same person, programs began to be developed by teams of programmers to meet someone else’s expectations.

Individual effort gave way to team effort. Communication and coordination which once went on within the head of one person had to occur between the heads of many persons, making the whole process very much more complicated. As a result, communication, management, planning and documentation became critical.

Consider this analogy: a carpenter might work alone to build a simple house for himself or herself without more than a general concept of a plan. He or she could work things out or make adjustments as the work progressed. That’s how early programs were written. But if the home is more elaborate, or if it is built for someone else, the carpenter has to plan more carefully how the house is to be built. Plans need to be reviewed with the future owner before construction starts. And if the house is to be built by many carpenters, the whole project certainly has to be planned before work starts so that as one carpenter builds one part of the house, another is not building the other side of a different house. Scheduling becomes a key element so that cement contractors pour the basement walls before the carpenters start the framing. As the house becomes more complex and more people’s work has to be coordinated, blueprints and management plans are required.

As programs became more complex, the early methods used to make blueprints (flowcharts) were no longer satisfactory to represent this greater complexity. And thus it became difficult for one person who needed a program written to convey to another person, the programmer, just what was wanted, or for programmers to convey to each other what they were doing. In fact, without better methods of representation it became difficult for even one programmer to keep track of what he or she is doing.

The times required to write programs and their costs began to exceed to all estimates. It was not unusual for systems to cost more than twice what had been estimated and to take weeks, months or years longer than expected to complete. The systems turned over to the client frequently did not work correctly because the money or time had run out before the programs could be made to work as originally intended. Or the program was so complex that every attempt to fix a problem produced more problems than it fixed. As clients finally saw what they were getting, they often changed their minds about what they wanted. At least one very large military software systems project costing several hundred million dollars was abandoned because it could never be made to work properly.

The quality of programs also became a big concern. As computers and their programs were used for more vital tasks, like monitoring life support equipment, program quality took on new meaning. Since we had increased our dependency on computers and in many cases could no longer get along without them, we discovered how important it is that they work correctly.

Making a change within a complex program turned out to be very expensive. Often even to get the program to do something slightly different was so hard that it was easier to throw out the old program and start over. This, of course, was costly. Part of the evolution in the software engineering approach was learning to develop systems that are built well enough the first time so that simple changes can be made easily.

At the same time, hardware was growing ever less expensive. Tubes were replaced by transistors and transistors were replaced by integrated circuits until micro computers costing less than three thousand dollars have become several million dollars. As an indication of how fast change was occurring, the cost of a given amount of computing decreases by one half every two years. Given this realignment, the times and costs to develop the software were no longer so small, compared to the hardware, that they could be ignored.

As the cost of hardware plummeted, software continued to be written by humans, whose wages were rising. The savings from productivity improvements in software development from the use of assemblers, compilers, and data base management systems did not proceed as rapidly as the savings in hardware costs. Indeed, today software costs not only can no longer be ignored, they have become larger than the hardware costs. Some current developments, such as nonprocedural (fourth generation) languages and the use of artificial intelligence (fifth generation), show promise of increasing software development productivity, but we are only beginning to see their potential.

Another problem was that in the past programs were often before it was fully understood what the program needed to do. Once the program had been written, the client began to express dissatisfaction. And if the client is dissatisfied, ultimately the producer, too, was unhappy. As time went by software developers learned to lay out with paper and pencil exactly what they intended to do before starting. Then they could review the plans with the client to see if they met the client’s expectations. It is simpler and less expensive to make changes to this paper-and-pencil version than to make them after the system has been built. Using good planning makes it less likely that changes will have to be made once the program is finished.

Unfortunately, until several years ago no good method of representation existed to describe satisfactorily systems as complex as those that are being developed today. The only good representation of what the product will look like was the finished product itself. Developers could not show clients what they were planning. And clients could not see whether what the software was what they wanted until it was finally built. Then it was too expensive to change.

Again, consider the analogy of building construction. An architect can draw a floor plan. The client can usually gain some understanding of what the architect has planned and give feed back as to whether it is appropriate. Floor plans are reasonably easy for the layperson to understand because most people are familiar with the drawings representing geometrical objects. The architect and the client share common concepts about space and geometry. But the software engineer must represent for the client a system involving logic and information processing. Since they do not already have a language of common concepts, the software engineer must teach a new language to the client before they can communicate.

Moreover, it is important that this language be simple so it can be learned quickly.