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New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 11 Review: Hiding Behind My Smile

With every installment, New Amsterdam pays the entitlement of one of the most beautiful and decidedly human serial on the air.

Of track, New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 11 was another exemplary hour strengthening it. It was too directed by the incomprable Lucy Liu, and she did a exceptional job.

How is it possible to enjoy a series that prepares one this feeling without fail every time?

All Strapped In - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 11

The doctors of New Amsterdam go above and beyond even when they’re battling wizards and overcoming obstacles of their own.

For most of them, the ones we hold dear, they share a quality of being earnest and genuine in their seek to regenerate, plow, and save the people they come into contact with mind, person, and soul.

They become attached to each case in such a real way because of how they take their go with their patients. It makes all of the doctors the best at their jobs, and the hour leant that acquire character on display with Floyd, Lauren, Iggy, and Helen.

Helen in Charge - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 11

But the whiz of this installment was Helen Sharpe. We’re at the midway target of the season, and Helen has had a rough go of it.

Her demotion break her tones in a way we never could have expected, and the process of her getting a new badge and all and her expressing that she felt like a stranger in a hospital she once viewed as her home captured how unnerving recent events were for her.

Helen: Turn around.Assistant: Why? Helen: Probable deniability.

Permalink: Turn around. Reasonable deniability .

Added: January 21, 2020

But she came to life channeling Max. The partnership between the two of them remains the series in top form.

He trusts her implicitly. They use as one as if they’re extensions of each other and render each other a necessary balance that continues everything in their world in order.

Her Demotion - Tall - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 10

Despite Helen’s demotion, parties still ogled to her as second in dictation. She is Max’s right hand, and when he is unavailable, she’s who everyone turns to in their hour of need.

She has always sufficed as a gateway in that form, and the short montage of everyone coming to her with ailments and asks kept that into perspective.

Helen taking the reins and not only doing as she imagined Max would do but what she required and hope to do too was exhilarating.

Max: There’s something wrong with Luna. Helen: Max, do you know what it is? Max: they don’t know. Is it something you are required to? Helen: Nothing. I’ll handle it.

Permalink: Nothing. I’ll handle it .

Added: January 21, 2020

It was her predominate at the hospital, and the best part about it was you knew Max would have her back no matter what. Hell, he was proud of her by the hour’s end. Who wasn’t?

Helen's Defender - Tall - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 9

She was a natural coming up with solutions to whatever problem she was presented and improving Max’s idea that had everyone else in a tizzy.

The representation when she told the woman to turn around while she ratified Max’s signature was comical. It was a total boss move, too.

Helen was feeling herself in this position, and she got a taste of what it has been like for Max all this time.

Helen: Max, I have been your safety net for so long. I’m going to need you to start being excavation. Max: How can I cure?

Permalink: Max, I have been your safety net for so long. I’m going to need you to start being pit .

Added: January 22, 2020

Their final background was another beautiful Sharpwin moment. The season has done a splendid undertaking touching on their respective roles in their relationship and ignore the fact all of the things Helen does for Max.

Never Done - tall - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 10

She was right when she said he was his safety net. She’s always been that for him at the hospital, and now she wants to be unleashed and for him to return the favor, and he gaily will.

Helen and Max are all the goals. Their friendship is evolving and extending, and it’s such a special bond.

But now, I have to ask. What do you guys think of Alice?

Alice: Hi, I’m expectant Alice. Max: And I’m hiding behind my smile Max.

Permalink: And I’m hiding behind my smile Max .

Added: January 21, 2020

They say physicians utter the worst cases, and it extends to them as parents of the patients, very. Max was beside himself with dwell over Luna.

Alice - Tall - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 11

Given his experiences, it wasn’t a bombshell when he freaked out over the glob and reckoned she could have cancer.

Luna’s doctor told him claim in the end, and it’s a succour Luna was OK. God knows the man can’t take any more pain and neither can we.

But Alice procreated him feel better. They hit it off delicately, and they both understood what it was like to raise a kid on their own as widows.

Alice handed Max her amount so the babes could have a play date, but it was as much for them as the kids.

Playing with the Baby - Tall - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 11

New Amsterdam Fanatics have been so hectic picking slopes on whether or not Max and Helen could and should be something more, but not many people have broached the topic of Max dating someone else.

Would it be too soon for that?

It’s iffy Max and Alice will be anything more than a alliance. It’s hard to imagine Max with anyone anytime soon, but Alice most likely has some people abuzz anyway.

Helen: Troy I have some bad news, the reactions you have are from the lymphoma. It means it has returned. Troy: So back to chemo?

Permalink: So back to chemo ?

Added: January 21, 2020

The hour went more feelings from there with Trey’s ravaging case. The teenage was braver than many adults.

Iggy's Effs Up - tall - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 8

He made the story that he was dying in stride and when he explained why he didn’t want to tell his mothers the truth, he made a strong enough case where you understood what he was coming from.

He was a very mature teen who thought things through, so it didn’t take much elicit from Iggy for Trey to come around.

All it made was another string of talk — or rather his speech that was nothing if not a tearjerker. As he cancelled fond memories of how much his mothers affection and took care of him, he got suffocated up.

internet marketing articles View Slideshow: New Amsterdam Season 1 Report card: What Worked and What Needs Work!

He knew he couldn’t deprive his parents the truth and the chance to spend time with him before he died, and he realise he wanted to spend time with them too.

Is it an hour of New Amsterdam unless you’re ugly crying?

It also applied to Lauren’s case, where she decided what to do with her inheritance. After hearing and watching the fight of her patient and recognizing how little works there are to help elderlies, she passed her coin to him.

Lauren Adapts - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 3

It was inconceivable and such a pure number, it left speechless. Lauren’s growth during this season has been a real highlight.

And not to be outdone, Floyd was willing to do whatever it took to help his case, who was in desperate need of blood.

It sufficed as another great Helen moment more when Helen discounted Dragon Lady badgering her about what forging Max’s signature, and she practically brandished the woman away.

She and Floyd had a life to save, and they discovered a highway to get it on, and there were no confessions to be made about how they got there.

Family Dinner with Floyd - tall - New Amsterdam Season 1 Episode 22

If it was one of the last suits Floyd could work on before attempting to move to San Francisco, it was a damn good one.

He should’ve known Max was not going to let him off easy, though. Max isn’t willing to let him go.

It was some time since they had one of their fraternal moments, and it comes down with a remembrance of how Max hired Floyd first. They had a special bond very, even though they are we don’t see it nearly enough.

Max is Struggling - Tall - New Amsterdam Season 1 Episode 13

Do you think Floyd will make it to San Francisco? After a day like the one “hes had”, he has to know how rewarding it is to stay at New Amsterdam. It’s no way the hospital can lose their best cardio doctor.

Kapoor was generating all the feelings too with welcoming Ella into his home. They are so precious and dessert together.

Kapoor needs Ella every bit as much as she needs him now. He hasn’t moved on from his wife’s death or his son’s absence. His home felt like a temple to them both.

By moving Ella into his infinite and wreaking up the nerve to create a space just for her and the newborn, he took a huge step.

Kapoor's Service - tall - New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 7

Kapoor’s ongoing grief and longing for a family has calmly been in the background of the sequence for a season and a half now, and it was a lovely route of putting it on display.

But then the sequence made us right back to concern and fret with Iggy. As expected, he’s still reeling from Tabitha’s statement about NPD.

Helen wasn’t much facilitate when he brought it up to her, and he hasn’t had the chance to sit and go over it with anyone in detail.

Looking For Answers - New Amsterdam

He objective the hour with the DSM-V manual on his desk, which wasn’t so bad, but when he went to his garbage drawer and started binging on all of his sweets, that’s when such concerns grew.

He’s a stress eater, and while it was amusing to see his special treat drawer( and a throwback to Brenda on The Closer ), there’s too a sincere dread to seeing how changed he is by this news.

You don’t require him to fall into bad practices. Oh, Iggy is about to break our nerves futher. You can already tell.

Iggy Investigated - New Amsterdam Season 1 Episode 20

Can we please protect Iggy at all costs ?!

It was another emotional hour of the line. What stroked you “the worlds largest”? Sound off below with all of your reactions.

Don’t forget you can watch New Amsterdam online now via TV Fanatic!

And we sure would appreciate receiving a follow of our new Twitter account as we work to rebuild our audience! You can finds us:

@TVFanatic

new amsterdam View Slideshow: 27 Registers That Will Warm Your Cold, Dead Heart !

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César Escudero Andaluz. So many ways to mess up with surveillance capitalism

Back in 2016, César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal hacked an old calculator and turned it into Bitttercoin “the worst Bitcoin miner ever”. Relying on a rudimentary technology, the machine takes an excruciatingly long time (estimated to an eternity) to validate the pending transactions in the blockchain. Meanwhile, the complex computational operations are printed on a seemingly endless scroll. I’ll be forever grateful to the two artists for creating a work that materialises so clearly the invisible calculations, physical dimension and ecological impact of blockchain technology. It’s one of those works that make your life easier when you have to explain an otherwise abstruse technological innovation.

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César Escudero Andaluz, Tapebook, 2014 Photo: Florian Voggeneder (CC-BY-NC-ND) Ars Electronica

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César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, BittterCoin. Photo by Marcin Maziej

César Escudero Andaluz, Bitcoin Miner Orchestra

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César Escudero Andaluz, Tapebook, 2014

Today I’m interviewing César Escudero Andaluz (hopefully one day, i’ll get to talk with Martín Nadal as well!) César is an artist and researcher whose practice investigates Human-Computer Interaction, interface criticism, digital culture and its social and political effects. Although it always has elements of playfulness and humour about it, his work is grounded in the kind of socio-political interrogations that make our time so infuriating and stimulating.

The artist’s critical approach to technology can be found in works such as an orchestra of musical instruments that mine for Bitcoins, a 3D printable kit to cut undersea internet cables, a series of cassettes which audio emerges from the data extracted on the social media profiles of The Yes Men, Nuria Güell, Oliver Grau, Noam Chomsky, Alexei Shulgin, Lynn Hershman, Vuk Cosic, etc.

César Escudero Andaluz, Inter_fight

I caught up with the artist as he was busy writing essays and preparing shows:

Hi César! Inter_fight is a series of physical bots, of “DataPolluters”, that roam over touch-screens and mess with the user’s social networks, browsers and webs. Their function is to provide wrong information for tracking and website analysis and thus fight against Surveillance Capitalism. How about people who don’t have these helpful little bots? Can they too counteract the drive to monetise our everyday online gestures?

And wouldn’t the disorder created by these robots make the life of their user too confusing and complicated? Do we necessarily have to trade convenience for privacy and data ownership?

Hi Régine, thanks for your interest in my artistic practices and for your precise questions. The extraction and monetization of private data is a reality affecting all citizens of the world. On the internet and in normal life citizens need privacy, self-expression, voice, information, learning, social life, communication. As users we are aware of the social, political and economical impact of the actual technological generation and practices known as Big Data, and we need mechanisms to transform and benefit from these technologies.

Interfight (2015) is an example of critical artwork capable of obfuscating the mechanism of data capture and data analysis, but there are more interesting examples coming from hacker communities, Cypherpunks, political activists or Tactical Media movements. For example the art project Fango, Facebook Amazon Netflix Google Obfuscator developed by Martín Nadal in 2019 consist in a device with the appearance of a phone charger, and a microcontroller embedded inside, programmed to behave as a random bot able to take the control of the smartphone when the user loads it. Fango, is an example of Camouflage technology, hiding a second functionality behind the telephone.

Besides, there are many examples online, –forms of resistance and counter-strategies consisting of simple individual actions such as blocking, covering, isolating or disrupting signals as effective neutralization techniques.

For example, the webpage Internet Noise gives the opportunity to fake search history by opening automatically random tabs on Google searches website. Or TrackMeNot a browser extension that generates randomly and periodically queries to popular search engines, like Yahoo! or Google. Or with a similar name, Do Not Track (DNT) is a free and open-source browser extension created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) able to block advertisements and tracking cookies or the plugin AdNauseam that clicks on every blocked ad, registering a visit on ad networks databases.

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César Escudero Andaluz, Inter_fight

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César Escudero Andaluz, Inter_fight

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César Escudero Andaluz, Inter_fight

BitterCoin is a calculator machine hacked to be used as a miner validating the pending bitcoins transactions. The operations are displayed on the calculator screen and then printed. I’ve always liked BitterCoin. Mostly because the first time i looked at the video of the project i finally understood the bitcoin mining process and its impact on the environment. The project made the technology tangible and that’s something I desperately needed at the time. Do you know how much has changed in terms of speed, energy and computer power required to mine a single Bitcoin since you launched the project? How much these might have increased?

Wow! Thanks, that’s a very nice comment. 🙂 Bittercoin, is a project developed in collaboration with Martín Nadal in 2016. For us it was very important to condense and visualize our research on the mining process and its environmental impact. As result we wrote “Critical Mining” published in the book Artist Re:thinking the Blockchain, 2017 by Ruth Catlow, Marc Garret, Nathan Jones and Sam Skinner. In “Critical Mining” we analysed the consequences of the bitcoin mining process in four aspects: Ideological, economical, technological and environmental.

Back to your question. Yes, Bitcoin miners have suffered a huge technical evolution. In 2009-2011 everyone could mine bitcoins with a normal computer, but the competition increased and CPU technology became obsolete, miners started to use more and more powerful and less energy-demanding hardware to follow economic sustainability. In 2011 CPU technology was mostly obsolete and the GPU technology took command. Just to make an estimation a GPU is 100 times faster than the first CPU. Then in 2012 FPGAs were a bit faster and since 2013 the ASICs technology especially designed for mining bitcoins is one million times faster than first CPU.

As mining has become progressively more efficient, simultaneously miners are becoming obsolete faster, generating even more waste. This infrastructure grows too fast with its energy implications. Today the Bitcoin network consumes the same electricity as a country like Austria. And we have to add the problem that most energy consumed by these miners come from coal-fired power plants located in China, with estimated annual emissions of almost 23 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere and generating almost 310.97kg of CO2 per transaction.

Somehow, the Cypherpunk dream of building a distributed and equal system was pretty fast transformed in a hyper-capitalistic competition where the most expensive equipment and powerful technology have more opportunities to get the bitcoin reward. To visualize it or “make it tangible “ we decide to give life back to an old obsolete calculator machine and transform it into a modern Bitcoin miner.

In terms of efficiency we paid a lot of effort to develop the slower miner ever, Bittercoin is able to calculate one hash per ten minutes, consumes 80mA, Watts 220V * 0.08A = 17.6W and 10m of paper per hour.

In November 2018, the price of Bitcoin fell below 4000 euros, which forced some farms to close, while reducing the electricity needed to exploit Bitcoins. Current miners are less profitable. This has caused paradoxical situations, for example the Bitmain Antminer S15 miner developed in early 2019 will take 430 years to be profitable. Although we have put all our efforts to develop the worst miner ever, reality overcomes fiction; In terms of profits at that time Bittercoin, was the fifth better bitcoin miner.

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César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, BittterCoin. Photo by Patricia Cadavid

César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, BittterCoin

I’m currently wondering about the carbon footprint of Blockchain technology and finding that several projects promise to use Blockchain in a “sustainable”, “eco-conscious” way but i’m wondering how realistic it is. Do you have any idea about this possibility of a “green blockchain”? Are these promises mere greenwashing?

In the beginning there were some crypto-optimist building farms powered by wind or solar panels, that’s happened when the competition wasn’t so high, and a simple CPU could validate transactions and get the reward of bitcoins. They didn’t succeed.

On the other hand, the Proof of Stake proposed by Ethereum reduces the competition, but also the distributed idea behind the Blockchain.

From the art field there are some project such as Harvest (2017) by Julian Oliver, a Miner powered by wind generator, or Terra0 that proposes to create a forest self-managed by a DAO, (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) that manages land areas through a “Smart Contract” in Ethereum Blockchain.

I consider Blockchain an experiment in an early phase, probably the next generation of digital ledgers will solve all these problems.

You designed a 3D printable cutting tool for submarine fiber-optic cables! I suspect this project has provoked a few heart attacks. Other artists have pointed to the vulnerability of communication infrastructures but [FUCK-ID] goes even further by suggesting most people’s worst nightmares (the possibility of being disconnected, the vulnerability of critical infrastructures) is just a few .stl files away. What kind of debates and reactions were you hoping to trigger with this work?

FUCK-ID is an artwork in the context of critical thinking and speculative design. Inside this context is launching questions like: Why is the Internet dominated by political and economical alliances? Why is it organized and controlled to favour mass-surveillance and the interception of “Big Data”? Why do we have this situation of massive control and surveillance? Why can’t citizens control the destination of the data they produce? FUCK-ID never have had bad reactions, probably because is presented always in an art context, most people laugh when they see it. But out of the art context we can find for example the first 3D-printable firearm handgun The Liberator, created by Cody Rutledge Wilson. The Liberator could be considered a critical artwork acting as a trigger to visualise a real fact involved with the creation, seriation and distribution of arms and its black market.

In response, the artists Kyle McDonald launched in 2013 Liberator Variations borrowing the idea from “One coffee cup a day” producing several variations of the original file, sharing the idea that 3D printed gun file is not something to be feared, but treated critically, carefully, humorously, seriously. In McDonald’s words: “When something is impossible to regulate, it makes more sense to focus on education and discussion than censorship”.

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F.U.C.K.- ID. Free Universal Cut Kit for Internet Dissidence. Photo: Kristijan Vučković

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F.U.C.K.- ID. Free Universal Cut Kit for Internet Dissidence. Photo: Kristijan Vučković

The Cryptocene diagram you created together with Martín Nadal is impressive. If i understood correctly, it charts the respective stories and interconnections between surveillance and the monetisation of knowledge on the one hand and resistance to these forces on the other. You define the Cryptocene“ as a period of time featured by a significant use of cryptographic systems and its impact on the surface of the Earth with ecological, economical and political consequences.” I think your other works related to blockchain/bitcoin explore the ecological aspect but how about the political ones? Can you develop the kind of impact the cryptocene is already having and might soon have on politics?

First, I need to mention that the diagram was supervised and developed within the framework of the workshop Research Values 2018 at Transmediale and published in the open access research journal APRJA, initiated by Christian Ulrik Andersen and Geoff Cox, Søren Pold and Winnie Soon.

The Cryptocene diagram is full of political content, in fact, there is so much content that I don’t know how to start talking about. In it we describe a journey through the history of cryptography, from Mesopotamia to beyond the Blockchain development.

Cryptography has always been a weapon in the service of knowledge and power. It has been used to conceal messages in war, in business dealings and politics. Cryptography has been a monopoly at the service of the government. In 1988 Timothy C, wrote the crypto-anarchist manifesto, –a premonitory text in which cryptography redefines the power structures within society, especially between individuals and governments. Crypto-anarchism refers to the policy based on cryptographic methods. Also in the late 1980s, the vision of protecting privacy and anonymity was embodied in an activist movement called Cypherpunk.

Eric Hughes in the Cypherpunk Manifesto (1993), makes an analogy between privacy and secrecy to defend the rights of open society to point out that privacy is the power to selectively reveal itself to the world. But probably one of the most relevant events in the defence of strong encryption for public use was the publication of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) by Phil Zimmermann in 1991. Zimmermann distributed a freeware version of PGP when he foresaw the threat of legislation, which would require the creation of backdoors in all cryptographic solutions developed within the USA. PGP is used to sign, encrypt and decrypt texts, emails, files, directories and entire disk partitions, as well as to increase the security of email communications.

César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, Bitcoin of Things (Bot)

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César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, Bitcoin of Things (BOT). Images by Janez Janza in Aksioma, Critical Tiggers exhibition and workshop

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César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, Bitcoin of Things (BOT). Images by Janez Janza in Aksioma, Critical Tiggers exhibition and workshop

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César Escudero Andaluz and Martín Nadal, Bitcoin of Things (BOT). Images by Janez Janza in Aksioma, Critical Tiggers exhibition and workshop

Together with Nadal, you also run successful Bitcoin of Things (BoT) workshop that show participants how to build their own playful bitcoin miner. How approachable are the workshops? how much practical knowledge about technology do you need to have when you enrol?
What were the most interesting/amusing/surprising examples of bitcoin miners created during these workshops?

Martin and I joined forces to carry out a workshop suitable for all participants, without the need for prior knowledge.

We consider it like an expanded artwork. Our main interest is to communicate the result of our research.

Every single object has its own connotations and opens dialogs I could not choose one in particular.

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César Escudero Andaluz, Data Polluters

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César Escudero Andaluz, Data Polluters

Any other upcoming events, fields of research or projects you could share with us?

I am working in a new project together with the Slovenian activist Tomo Kriznar, Bojana Pivk Križnar, Masa Jabez and Martín Nadal in collaboration with Trbovlje new media setting and RUK to create devices to provide a network of communication in Nuba, South Sudan.

Also with Martín we will show our last research about art and blockchain in MoneyLab#8, 24 & 25th of March, organized by Aksioma and Institute of Network Cultures together with artists and researchers such us Evgeny Morozov, Max Haiven, DYNE.ORG (Denis “Jaromil” Roio, Jaya Klara Brekke, Demystification Committee, Martin Zeilinger, Patrice Riemens, Pirate Care (Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak, Valeria Graziano), RYBN, Sašo Sedlaček and others.

Thanks César!

If you want to read more from César, i’d recommend reading the essays he wrote on topics such as art, activism, data-caption, distributed infrastructures, Graphic User Interface, etc.

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How to Pay for Fertility Treatment

Deciding to start a family is a thrilling decision filled with happiness and dreams of the future, but adding a bundle of joy to the family doesn’t come easy for everyone. Having a baby can require medical intervention in some cases, with some people risking all they have or taking out a personal loan to make their family plans come true.

Couples today face a slew of obstacles standing in the way of conceiving naturally, including male infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, prior surgeries and cancer diagnoses. Age is also a factor, as 50% of millennials delay starting a family to do things like pursue careers, focus on education and build financial stability.

However, insurance carriers don’t cover expenses unless there’s a proven fertility problem. Almost all of the couples seeking fertility preservation, or single mothers by choice, carry the financial burden of fertility treatments entirely by themselves.

Same sex couples also face unique challenges in their quest to bring new life into the world. Some LGBT families deal with medical infertility on top of the situational infertility that comes with being in a same sex couple. Transgender adults, for instance, risk permanently losing their fertility after starting hormone therapy or transitioning. As a solution, some couples consider alternatives to LGBT fertility clinics, such as adoption or surrogacy, to begin their family.

Fertility implications from radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery may also be serious considerations for some families looking to conceive. According to the latest data from World Cancer Research Fund International, there were over 17 million new cancer diagnoses in 2018 alone.

A sudden cancer diagnosis can bring up discussions for future fertility and family planning. Some families turn to egg or sperm preservation prior to starting their cancer treatment. Aggressive cancers requiring treatment right away and can leave families gasping for air as they come to grips with the diagnosis and make decisions on ensuring their ability to conceive without breaking the bank.

What to expect

More than 85,000 people seek fertility treatments annually. Many of them struggle financially to afford treatment, and some give up on having a family completely due to the price tag. In Florida, for example, Jan and Glenda Knight* (names have been changed to protect their identities) are a lesbian couple who used intrauterine insemination (IUI) to conceive their baby boy. They were taken by surprise by the cost of sperm vials.

“For an IUI, [it] was only a few hundred. The sperm was the expensive part though. Depending on the cryobank, one single-use [sperm vial] can average to about $1,000 per month for only 0.5 milliliters! That’s basically like a drop of water,” said Jan.

Knowing the different treatment options available and the costs can help you decide your best course of action.  Jan said it’s important to do your research beforehand because both she and her partner felt doctors “sort of just expected you to know everything and what your plan was to have a baby” when they were going through the process.

Average cost of infertility treatment

Some of the more common infertility treatments and their average costs include:

  • Consultation — $200 to $400
  • Medications — $3,000 to $5,000
  • PDG genetic testing — $3,000 to $6,000
  • IUI insemination — $300 to $1,000
  • IVF — $12,000+
  • Egg preservation — $8,000+
  • Surrogacy — $90,000+
  • Injectable fertility drugs — $2,750

Some in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics have money back guarantees ranging from 70% to 100% refunds for unsuccessful treatments or unused cycles. Others offer discounted multi-cycle programs to make repeated attempts more budget friendly. Ultimately, refund programs are designed for younger people with higher chances of success.

Eligibility requirements usually include:

  • Age limitations
  • Minimum number of IVF cycle attempts
  • Body mass index (BMI) restrictions
  • Blood level requirements

If you’ve already undergone several failed IVF cycles and would like to try again, you may not be eligible to participate in the refund program. Some programs also have restrictions on refunds after a miscarriage.

The expense of fertility treatments leads many couples consider alternatives like adoption, which is a chance to add to the family while also giving a loving home to a child in need. Many are caught by surprise at the average $20,000 to $40,000 cost attached to private adoptions in America, and the $20,000 to $50,000 price tag for international adoptions. In contrast, adopting from foster care runs between $0 and $2,500.

Any type of adoption process can be fraught with parenting challenges, frustrations and risks, but people who successfully adopt a child are the first to say it was worth every penny and every struggle to have their child in their lives.

Dealing with the implications of infertility is devastating for some. Linda Mata* (the name has been changed to protect her identity), a soon-to-be mom in south Florida, is currently pregnant with her first child and said it took over two years to conceive.

“It was taking an emotional toll on us, but I kept reminding myself, when the right time comes, it’ll happen,” she said.

Mata said that the possibility of needing fertility treatments is tough for many couples to accept.

“I avoided going to the doctors about it because I was worried there was something wrong with me, and I didn’t want to face it,” Mata said.

Fortunately, the stigma associated with fertility treatments is vanishing as the number of people seeking treatments increases. According to a Marketdata report, the infertility services market is up 21% from 2016 and has a forecasted average annual revenue growths of 7% through 2023. The U.S. market for fertility drugs is also growing at 6% annually and is presently worth $600 to $700 million.

The explosive growth is likely due to an increasing number of millennials choosing to put off having children until they are in their 30s. They are waiting to be in a better position personally, professionally and financially to give their offspring the best chances in life.

As businesses recognize their employees’ desires to delay having children, companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are offering egg freezing as an employee perk to cater to women choosing to delay pregnancy to focus on other pursuits.

With more women looking to preserve their future fertility, investors are hearing the cash registers ring to signal the sound of an untapped market, and they may be right. Marketdata’s report states 75% of potential clients don’t use infertility services.

Private equity firms and venture capitalists are hoping to stake their claim on the market by persuading women in their 20s to take proactive steps to ensure their future fertility. To raise awareness and increase accessibility, they’re plunking millions into national fertility clinics, frozen egg banks and fertility assessment products. Female-focused health startups received $392 million in funding capital in 2019 alone, which is almost four times the amount from just six years ago. Some startups are using the money to develop fertility products like tests to show women in their 20s and 30s where their fertility stands.

Evaluating the cost

Fertility treatments are time sensitive. A woman’s greatest reproductive years occur in her 20s, with gradual declines in her early 30s and significant decreases every year after 35. A 35-year-old woman undergoing IVF has a 39.6% chance of conceiving while a woman over 40 has an 11.5% chance. Success rates improve as technologies advance, but most people feel that waiting until they’ve saved up enough money isn’t an option.

Does my insurance cover this?

The vast majority of states don’t have infertility insurance coverage laws. Of the 18 states that do, only half mandate insurance coverage for fertility preservation resulting from iatrogenic, or medically-induced, infertility. These states include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

Elective fertility preservation procedures like egg and sperm freezing are rarely, if ever, covered — unless there’s a medical diagnosis that jeopardizes future ability to conceive.

States like California and Louisiana also explicitly exclude IVF coverage. Others like Montana, Ohio, Utah and West Virginia have restrictions on infertility services or fail to define the scope of services qualifying for coverage.

The map below gives a quick overview of coverage in all states with mandated fertility insurance coverage. For a complete list of laws, refer to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s patient education website, ReproductiveFacts.org.

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If you live in a state with coverage laws for infertility and have health insurance through your employer, check with human resources to determine whether your plan is fully insured or self-insured. Only fully insured plans are required to follow state law. Your company size, where your employer’s policy was written and other factors could affect whether your insurance carrier is required to comply with state infertility coverage laws.

Always verify with your health insurance provider directly to make sure the type of fertility treatment you’re seeking is covered under your plan. You can speak with the billing department and request a copy of your explanation of benefits (EOB) to review what you’re entitled to. Some other questions to consider asking are:

  1. Is fertility testing covered, and what types are covered?
  2. How many cycles of infertility treatment are covered?
  3. What coverage do I have for surrogacy and adoption?
  4. Are there any age restrictions on fertility testing or treatment?
  5. What are my coverage limitations when it comes to infertility treatments?
  6. Is coverage any different for same-sex couples or single parents by choice?

Special insurance considerations for same-sex couples and single parents by choice

Those with situational infertility are hit especially hard by insurance limitations. Jan and her partner said the best thing to do was “put money aside before starting or look into payment plans because insurance doesn’t cover much, if at all, for some people.”

While health insurance providers offering infertility benefits can’t withhold coverage for services because of sexual orientation or gender identity, many have rules in place stating there must be an infertility diagnosis to qualify. Insurance providers won’t cover purchasing sperm, and very few policies pay for surrogacy. As with heterosexual couples, elective fertility preservation is generally not covered.

The majority of adults with situational infertility presently have limited choices for a biological child, but the future looks promising. Some employers are stepping in as they recognize the coverage gap and are looking for better insurance plans and alternative solutions to offer all their employees.

How to cover out-of-pocket costs

Since insurance may only partially cover expenses, and coverage may depend on your plan and the services needed, many people look into other options to pay for treatments and procedures. The table below lists popular financing options and their benefits and considerations.

Method Benefits Considerations
Credit card Many cards offer 0% intro APR for specific period. –

Can earn points, miles or cash back rewards, depending on the credit card.

Cards geared toward fertility treatments and adoption offer higher credit limits.

Standard purchase APR applies to remaining balance after intro period.

Standard APRs for credit cards are significantly higher than personal loans.

Credit limits may not be high enough to finance entire treatment.

High debt-to-credit ratio can negatively impact credit scores.

Personal loan Interest rates are fixed and are lower than many other financing options.

Can refinance in the future for better rates or repayment terms.

Lending limits are often $50,000 or more.

May have a cosigner for better rates or approval.

No restrictions on use of borrowed funds.

Approval times as little as one day.

Hard credit pull may temporarily lower credit scores.

Some lenders charge percentage-based loan origination fees.

Home equity loan Can get lower APRs since home is used as collateral.

May qualify even with bad credit.

Can draw money only as needed.

Risk losing home if can’t pay make payments.

Must pay closing costs on loan.

May have high upfront fees.

HSA/FSA Uses pretax money to pay for fertility treatment expenses.

Most health insurers offer HSAs or FSAs.

Putting money in HSA or FSA reduces your taxable income.

Uses your cash to pay for treatments so no worries about paying back.

– Only an option if fertility treatment costs are an eligible expense. – Accounts have annual contribution limits and are most likely not enough to fund entire treatment.
Retirement savings/401(k) Can withdraw all contributions to the account.

Qualified distributions from traditional IRA can be taken without penalty.

Borrowed funds don’t enjoy market growth rates.

May owe early withdrawal penalties and fees.

Money taken from 401(k) must be returned within five years or immediately if you leave your job.

Organizations that can help

Several organizations also offer funds to make fertility treatments more affordable. Many are open to all permanent U.S. residents and are not location-dependent.

Organization What’s Offered Eligibility State Available
Baby Quest Foundation Funds a range of procedures including egg and sperm donation, egg freezing, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, embryo donation, and gestational surrogacy. Open to all genders, singles, same-sex couples and all who are permanent residents of the U.S. All
The Tinina Q. Cade Foundation Helps with costs medical infertility treatments and domestic adoption. Open to all; applicants must have a diagnosis of infertility from their doctor and must be legal, permanent U.S. residents. All
Cleveland Clinic Offers emergency and other medically necessary hospital-level services free of charge. Currently an eligible recipient of the General Assistance or the Disability Assistance Programs and income is at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. OH, FL, NV
The Fertility Foundation of Texas Gives one time grants to qualifying uninsured infertility patients of up to $10,000 toward embryology services, laboratory services, medications and hospital or facility fees. Must be a Central Texas resident. TX
The Hope for Fertility Foundation Awards grants of up to $5,000 to be used toward a variety of treatments like IUI, IVF, embryo adoption and cryopreservation. Available to couples who are married, are legal residents of the United States and have been officially diagnosed with infertility by a medical professional. All
Parental Hope Family Grant Has an IVF grant and frozen embryo transfer grant covering the full cost of treatment. Open to all; at least one applicant must have an infertility diagnosis. Grant requirements also dictate all medical services must be conducted at the Institute for Reproductive Health in Cincinnati, Ohio. All

The bottom line

While a large segment of people seeking fertility treatments are struggling to conceive, a growing portion of women are choosing fertility treatments to keep their future options open. Millennial women are holding off on having children in their 20s and early 30s to achieve their goals and build a stable home. Investors and venture capitalists are recognizing the opportunity and are making fertility treatments more accessible to the public.

Health insurers and policymakers, on the other hand, have been slow to join the trend. Only a handful of states have infertility insurance coverage laws, and mandates vary vastly by state. People with situational infertility like LGBT couples or single moms by choice, or who undergo elective fertility treatments for reasons other than a medical necessity, have to pay for costly fertility procedures and treatments out of pocket.

While fertility treatments can total tens of thousands of dollars, financing choices offer affordable opportunities. Personal loans, for instance, have lower interest rates than credit cards, don’t require your home as collateral and have no restrictions on how funds are used. Several organizations also offer fertility grants for anyone struggling with infertility but are unable to afford treatments.

Together, financing and grants options can be just what’s needed to make your current or future dream of conceiving come true without risking your financial stability and well-being.

The post How to Pay for Fertility Treatment appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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The Easy Path to Retirement

Sarah and I are aiming to retire before the traditional retirement age of 65; in fact, we’re probably hanging up our professional careers when our youngest son moves out in about a decade or so.

When I tell people that, they usually assume that we either must have some sort of financial secret, we’re earning a lot more money than we are or that we live like hermits. None of these things are true.

For starters, besides a couple of exceptional years where we nearly killed ourselves with work, neither Sarah nor I have earned six figures in a year. We’re not exceptional income earners.

We don’t live like hermits, either. In general, if Sarah or I want something, we have it. If you went through our home, you wouldn’t think of it as much different than the typical American home.

So, what’s the story here? How is it possible?

The “trick,” if there is one, is just understanding what you need to do to retire comfortably, and it’s not hard to understand at all. You just need to live on a large portion of what you earn and save the rest. That’s it. Nothing else needs to be done.

It’s really all about the savings rate.

Let’s say a person makes $50,000 a year. If that person manages to pay for all of their expenses in life — taxes, bills, food, fun, everything — with just $45,000 a year, that means they have $5,000 a year to save. That’s a 10% savings rate, since 10% of $50,000 is $5,000.

The larger your savings rate, the faster you’ll reach a point where you can retire without seriously affecting your quality of life.

Here’s how that works. If you keep putting money into a retirement account, and the money in that account is invested sensibly, you’ll eventually reach a point where the money is growing fast enough that you can stop contributing to it and start withdrawing enough each year to live on without the account emptying out before the end of your life.

So, let’s jump back to that savings rate example. If you’re living on $45,000 a year and saving $5,000 a year out of your $50,000 a year income, you simply need to keep saving until you can safely withdraw $45,000 a year from that account without it emptying out before the end of your life. You need $45,000 to live on, after all.

(Yes, you’ll eventually get away with withdrawing less because of Social Security benefits; we’ll get back to that in a bit.)

The question then becomes how much do I need in that account to withdraw $45,000 a year without much risk of emptying that account before the end of my lifetime?

That’s known as the “safe withdrawal rate,” and there are a lot of studies on that topic. Basically, if the money in your retirement account is properly invested, a 3% withdrawal rate is extremely likely to be safe for as long as you’ll possibly live and a 4% withdrawal rate is extremely likely to be safe for 30 years of withdrawal and probably safe for many years beyond that. Sarah and I are looking at a 3.5% withdrawal rate, which means that we can safely withdraw 3.5% of the balance of the account on the day we retire each year for the rest of our lives. If we retire and there’s $1 million in our retirement accounts, we can withdraw $35,000 per year for the rest of our lives with a very high degree of safety.

So, in that example where you need $45,000 a year to live on and you wanted to have a 3.5% safe withdrawal rate, you’d divide $45,000 by 0.035 and get $1.29 million. If you have $1.29 million in your retirement account when you retire and it’s properly invested, you can withdraw $45,000 a year for the rest of your life pretty safely.

There’s a problem, of course. For most people, numbers like $1 million and $1.29 million seem like enormous numbers. How does someone ever save up to that point?

Let’s again go back to our savings rate example. This person makes $50,000 a year, saves $5,000 per year for retirement, and spends $45,000 per year. Thus, they need $45,000 per year to live on, right, and as we noted above, that means you have to save $1.29 million in total.

On the surface, that seems impossible. You’d have to save for 258 years (!) for $5,000 a year to turn into $1.29 million. It’s not happening in your lifetime!

That’s where the magic of investment returns and compound interest comes in.

Invest early, invest often.

If the money you put into a retirement account is invested aggressively, it should net an average annual return of 7% on your money. I base that conclusion on Warren Buffett’s own estimations of the stock market going forward; it’s a number I trust to be not too optimistic, but not too pessimistic, either.

So, you put $5,000 into your account, right? After one year, it grows to $5,350 — a 7% return. Then, the next year, that $5,350 grows by another 7%, to $5,724.50. The next year, that $5,724.50 grows by another 7%, to $6,125.22. You’ll notice that each year, the amount of growth is bigger than the one before it, right? The jump to $5,724.50 from $5,350 is bigger than the jump from $5,000 to $5,350, and each year the jump is bigger and bigger and bigger.

That’s the power of compound interest. If you put money into something that grows in value by a certain percentage year over year, it will grow faster and faster and faster as time goes on.

If you put $5,000 in an account earning a 7% average annual return and wait 30 years, it will be worth $38,061.

It’s that power of compound interest that makes retirement savings possible. If you start saving for retirement early in your career, compound interest does most of the work for you. Sarah and I started saving in our 20s and 30s, and now we’re looking seriously at retiring early.

What if you’re later in your career? Compound interest still definitely helps, but you’re going to have to contribute more to catch up than you would have needed to contribute early on. It’s still doable, but it’s not quite as easy.

So, what does that look like? Assuming that our friend making $50,000 a year puts his $5,000 a year into an account earning a 7% annual rate of return, he should reach his target number of $1.29 million in the account in 43 years.

43 years? Ouch. That seems like a long time. But not all hope is lost; there are a lot of things that can be done to make that number smaller without making major sacrifices.

Remember, it’s all about the savings rate.

It turns out that if our friend here can bump his savings rate to 20%, that number drops to 32 years.

If our friend can bump that savings rate to 30%, that number drops to 25 years.

To put it simply, the higher you can boost your savings rate, the smaller the number of years needed until you can walk away from work.

But how do you boost that savings rate without making your life miserable?

The “frugality” strategy has some big advantages.

Frugality is definitely one strong strategy for improving your savings rate. Take our example of a person making $50,000 a year. That person is currently saving $5,000 a year and spending $45,000 a year, right? Well, if that person can come up with some painless ways to cut their annual spending from $45,000 a year to $40,000 a year, that not only boosts their savings from $5,000 to $10,000 a year, but also reduces their target number from $1.29 million down to $1.14 million.

In other words, frugality both boosts the savings rate and cuts the target number you need to get there.

Cutting your cable and sticking with just streaming services you already have and over-the-air channels would save the average American household $1,300 a year, for example. If our friend just eliminated cable, that’s a quarter of the difference, right there.

Buying store brands versus name-brand equivalents saves our family about $25 a week at the grocery store, adding up to about $1,250 a year.

Making some simple energy improvements to your home, like fixing windows that leak air, adding some insulation and installing energy-efficient light bulbs, can save hundreds a year without any change at all in quality of life. Here’s an enormous list of simple energy-saving steps anyone can do to trim their energy bills without continuous effort.

Just making those simple changes — cutting cable, buying store-brand goods, and making a few energy improvements — gets our target person pretty close to their goal, and it doesn’t involve any major negative lifestyle changes.

The key is to actually put that saved money aside for retirement rather than just spending it on other stuff, so when you commit to a frugal change or make a permanent change to your spending, you should immediately adjust your automatic retirement contributions so that the money is accounted for. You’re still left with the pool of spending money you had before; it’s just that some of your previous bills now have that money put directly into retirement.

“Earning more” is another powerful strategy, too.

Along with frugality, the other major tool people have for improving their savings rate is to simply earn more money, whether it’s an increase in their salary or pay at their current job, switching to a better paying job, adding a second job or launching a business of some kind. All of those paths can result in a significant bump in your income, and that can definitely help improve your savings rate as long as you don’t bump your expenses at the same time.

Let’s say our friend making $50,000 a year, of which he saves $5,000 and spends $45,000, suddenly sees a pay increase to $60,000 a year. He bumps his spending to $48,000 a year, but at the same time increases his savings for retirement to $12,000 a year. He’s suddenly gone from a 10% savings rate to a 20% savings rate and, as noted above, he just shaved 11 years off of the time it’ll take him to reach his goal.

By simply increasing one’s income without similarly increasing one’s spending, you can see a big jump in your savings rate. However, there’s something very important to note here: if you get a raise and then increase your lifestyle spending, you’re actually hurting your retirement savings goal. You’re raising your amount of annual spending, which raises your overall goal, which means that it will take more years of growth for the money you already have saved to get to that goal.

Again, the key here is to put aside most or all of your additional income and continue to live on what you earned before. If you receive a big bump in income, you should match that with a big bump in your retirement savings rate, leaving you living on a similar amount to what you were living on before but with a massive increase in retirement contributions. Remember, your raise is buying you years of freedom, not more forgettable stuff.

A few key questions come to mind.

All of these ideas will likely bring a few questions into your mind, so let’s address a few of the common ones.

What about Social Security? Social Security is a nice financial benefit that will kick in for many Americans in their 60s. Social Security checks will cover a nice percentage of one’s retirement spending. Alone, Social Security isn’t enough to have a robust life, but it can definitely complement other retirement savings to allow you to live a great life in retirement.

I generally do not include Social Security when I’m calculating retirement savings, because, for one, I’m unsure as to what form it will take when I reach Social Security age. There’s also another major issue when it comes to reaching retirement age.

What about medical costs? Right now, I include the cost of buying insurance as part of living expenses when I’m considering a typical American’s case. My wife’s career path includes health care coverage in retirement, which is a blessing for us, and I was using her health care coverage before I switched careers anyway because it was far better than what I previously had. For many people, however, health care in retirement will mean Medicare, the possibility of supplemental insurance, and then the costs of deductibles and other expenses not covered by Medicare.

In general, I assume that Social Security will handle these additional expenses for us and if there is Social Security money left over, it’s a bonus. Not only does this simplify our calculations substantially, but it also reflects the fact that we simply don’t know what form Social Security and medical insurance will have when we reach retirement age. I basically assume that if we’re close to where we need to be with just retirement savings alone, Social Security will make up the difference while also covering the medical costs.

This perspective does make saving for retirement seem harder than it probably needs to be, but on the other hand, it’s better to save too much than not enough.

What about inflation? Inflation is baked into all of these numbers assuming that your workplace gives out cost of living raises. If inflation is at 2% and your workplace gives you a 2% raise and you maintain your savings rate, everything remains just as it was, basically. Your target number goes up a little (2%), but so does the actual amount you’re putting into the account each year (2%). The end result is a microscopic difference, not enough to really change the math very much. Again, the key is to not spend raises and to stick with your savings rate.

Retirement, particularly early retirement, is about buying freedom. Start now.

I don’t look at retirement as a period where I’ll be doing nothing. I don’t look at it as a period of failing health and loneliness. Rather, I look at it as freedom — freedom from the requirement of having to exchange my time and energy for money. I can do whatever I want with all of my time, and that freedom cannot possibly come soon enough. It is that freedom that motivates me to save as much as I can for retirement, giving up a few of the affluent perks I could have. Our television doesn’t have cable and our cupboards are full of store brands, but Sarah and I will have freedom from having to work for money far earlier than our parents.

What can you do to get there? Start now. Put aside as much as you reasonably can for retirement right away, then look for reasonable ways to cut your spending without reducing the quality of life and also seek ways to earn more without adding misery to your life. The more you sock away earlier in your life, the faster you’ll hit your number and you’ll have that freedom, too.

The path might be a long path, but it’s an easy path. Just bump up your retirement savings rate every chance you get, and you’ll get there.

Good luck!

The post The Easy Path to Retirement appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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The Best Condo Insurance Companies

If you are living in a condo and don’t have condo insurance, think again. Here are our top five picks to protect you and your home.If you are living in a condo and don’t have condo insurance, think again. Here are our top five picks to protect you and your home.

The post The Best Condo Insurance Companies appeared first on Money Under 30.

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Wealthsimple Review 2020 – Robo Advisor & Wealthsimple Trade [UNIQUE PROMO]

Now that Wealthsimple Trade has launched, and the robo advisor service has gotten so popular, I figured that it was time to take a serious look at the service.  If you’re the TLDR type, then this Wealthsimple review might be a bit lengthy for your tastes.  Feel free to navigate using our table of contents…

The post Wealthsimple Review 2020 – Robo Advisor & Wealthsimple Trade [UNIQUE PROMO] appeared first on Million Dollar Journey.

Wealthsimple Review 2020 – Robo Advisor & Wealthsimple Trade [UNIQUE PROMO]

Now that Wealthsimple Trade has launched, and the robo advisor service has gotten so popular, I figured that it was time to take a serious look at the service.  If you’re the TLDR type, then this Wealthsimple review might be a bit lengthy for your tastes.  Feel free to navigate using our table of contents…

The post Wealthsimple Review 2020 – Robo Advisor & Wealthsimple Trade [UNIQUE PROMO] appeared first on Million Dollar Journey.

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The Truth About the Vaping Crisis (Ep. 398)

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After more than 40 demises, some states and metropolis have censored vaping produces, many of which are used as smoking-cessation manoeuvres. Meanwhile, roughly 500,000 people die each year from inhaling, and cigarettes are still widely available.( Photo: Burton/ Getty)

A recent eruption of illness and death has get everyone’s attention — including late-to-the-game regulators. But would a ban on e-cigarettes do more harm than good? We smoke out the facts.

Listen and are contributing to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the chapter, encounter the links at the bottom of this post.

***

Unless you’ve been hibernating, you’ve probably been hearing about the dangers posed by e-cigarettes and vaping.

CBS News: Two more beings have died from vaping-related illness, this time in Minnesota. This generates the national toll to 31 deaths across 22 states.

Good Morning America: Public health officials report there are nearly 1,300 probable or confirmed injuries applicable to vaping in 49 nations.

These specimen involve a severe respiratory ailment that’s been labeled EVALI, or “e-cigarette, or vaping, product-use-associated lung injury.” Doctors in Detroit recently accomplished double lung-transplant surgery on one EVALI victim. Even though beings have been vaping for years, the deaths are new, and the information has been met with something between alarm and panic.

PBS NewsHour: The Federal Government today counselled Americans not to use e-cigarettes following various strange deaths having links to vaping.

The caution is understandable. More than 40 million people around the world now vape, up from really 7 million less than a decade ago. In the U.S ., roughly 1 in 5 high-school kids vape.

Vivek MURTHY: I think that when it is necessary to specially the health of our children, we cannot afford to take risks.

That is former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

MURTHY: And once millions of children are using e-cigarettes who should have never been exposed to these devices.

But while the U.S. is trying to beat back the ebb of vaping, there’s different countries that’s been encouraging it.

Michael SIEGEL: In the U.K ., they’ve actually espoused electronic cigarettes as a damage reduction programme.

But what about EVALI and the risk of death?

SIEGEL: I don’t know of any cases of respiratory failure that have been reported in the U.K.

How can that be? Today on Freakonomics Radio, a falsehood of two public-health strategies. One that leans towards abstinence 😛 TAGEND

MURTHY: We don’t have the comfort, I repute right now, of trying to parse which flavors might be okay, which may not be okay.

The other, trauma reduction 😛 TAGEND

Dorothy HATSUKAMI: It certainly thumps 7,000 chemicals that you get from cigarettes.

What’s known — and not known — about vaping.

***

Before there were e-cigarettes, there were cigarettes. Merely how favourite were cigarettes? In the 1950 s, 45 percent of adult Americans indicates that they smoked — and that’s a self-reported number, so the actual amount may have been even higher. Back then, cigarette ads were still stood on TV.

Vintage Camel Cigarette Jingle: How mild, how mild, how mild can a cigarette be? Make the Camel 30 -day test, and you’ll watch.

Cigarettes had some influential endorsers.

Vintage Camel Cigarette Advertisement: Harmonizing to this reiterated national questionnaire, more doctors inhale Camels than any other cigarette.

They shaped smoking music fairly darned good.

Vintage Chesterfield Cigarette Advertisement: Medical doctors reports no adverse impact for the nose, throat, or sinuses from inhaling Chesterfields. Now, don’t you want to try a cigarette with a record like this?

But eventually, a ridge of scientific sign developed — much of which had been suppressed by cigarette companies — showing that cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk for a number of cancers as well as myocardial infarction, movement, and other bad outcomes. In many countries, smoking is still incredibly common. According to the World Health Organization, 76 percentage of adult servicemen in Indonesia still smoke cigarettes; in Russia, it’s 59 percentage; in China, 47 percent. But in non-eu countries, the smoking charge has precipitated steeply and continues to fall. In the U.S. and the U.K ., for instance, only about 20 percentage of adult males now smoke. This wane is considered one of the greatest public-health success of all time. How did it happen?

Jonathan GRUBER: So, certainly, the sort of firstly disturbance to the system was the spread of information that smoking is bad for you, which started a big drop in smoking, but predominantly among the well-educated.

That’s Jonathan Gruber, a health care economist at M.I.T.

GRUBER: If you look at smoking frequencies by education radical, it fell precipitously for the most improved and much more slowly for the least educated.

Beyond the information channel, there are still regulations that led to much higher premiums and taxes. And that, Gruber says, specially helped drive down smoking among younger people.

GRUBER: We have lots of evidence that youths are extra-sensitive to price, which kind of becomes appreciation, right? Youths don’t have a lot of fund.

In the late 1990 ’s, more than 35 percent of American high-schoolers smoked; today, that figure is less than 10 percent. That said, cigarette smoking in the U.S ., as in many other countries, remains the leading cause of preventable death. The Centers for Disease Control attributes 1 of five American fatalities to smoking. That’s nearly half a million deaths per year, or 1,300 beings a daytime. If you add up all the people who die from booze and illegal drugs and automobile accidents and suicide and slaying — those are still outnumbered by smoking fatalities. How can this be? How can something so demonstrably dangerous be freely consumed by so many parties? In a word, nicotine, the stimulant may be in the foliage of the tobacco plant.

HATSUKAMI: What nicotine does is, it targets neural receptors in the mentality.

That’s Dorothy Hatsukami, a psychiatry prof at the University of Minnesota. She’s a prominent expression in cancer avoidance and a member of several national scientific-advisory boards dealing with tobacco use and other drug abuse.

HATSUKAMI: Targeting those neural receptors leads to the release of a number of compounds in the mentality, and these compounds feign mood as well as cognition. And the committee is also actually makes people want to seek more nicotine.

In other words, nicotine is most addictive. The lust for nicotine has helped condition civilization. The tobacco plant, thought to be native to the Americas, has been smoked or ruminated for at least 2,000 years, often held to religious or cultural ceremonies. European explorers to America brought tobacco back home in the 16 th century, and its use spread speedily. This require have all contributed to big tobacco plantations back in America, which in turn fed the demand for slave labor. Much of the early American economy was organized around tobacco; it was even used as currency. But here’s the thing: nicotine, tobacco’s most valuable component, the ingredient that represents it so hard to quit smoking — nicotine is not the biggest villain of this story.

HATSUKAMI: What is problematic is that nicotine is delivered in a really dirty delivery system, and that’s the cigarette, which contains a number of toxicants.

Among the toxicants that get into your lungs when you smoke a cigarette are benzene, ammonia, arsenic , and lead. And what about the nicotine itself?

HATSUKAMI: Nicotine is not harmless, by any means. Nicotine effects addiction. It has negative effects on a fetus. It might increase the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and also it apparently does feign the developing brain. But it’s certainly not the most harmful constituent in a tobacco commodity.

Nicotine also has some established benefits.

HATSUKAMI: Yeah, certainly nicotine “ve been able to” some beneficial effects on cognition. And it can help sustain attention, for example.

It may disappear even beyond that. Paul Newhouse, a psychiatry professor at Vanderbilt, told us a few years ago that nicotine rehabilitation may prove useful for a number of ailments.

Paul NEWHOUSE in a previous Freakonomics Radio bout: Things like memory-loss diseases, Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve looked at ADHD. Other inspectors have looked at everything from Tourette’s Syndrome to feeling disorders to recession. I think that the full potential of nicotine and nicotinic dopes is genuinely not even perfectly is known.

Others are not so hopeful.

Robert WEST: I consider the potential benefits of nicotine are at best controversial, to be honest.

Robert West is a professor of health psychology at University College London and journalist of the periodical Addiction.

WEST: There was a lot of research back in the 80′ s and 70′ s around the idea that nicotine might help with concentration and be a cognitive enhancer. But that kind of research didn’t really bear fruit. Whether it’s helpful in other conditions — I intend some people have suggested Parkinson’s — I think is moot, to be quite honest. Even if it were beneficial, I disbelieve much needed whether it would be as effective as the other treatments we already have.

HATSUKAMI: Well, there probably isn’t as much known about that area as we would like.

What is known about nicotine is this: it is so advisable, so addictive, that millions upon millions of people are willing to inhale cigarette smoke — including the lead, arsenic, ammonia, and benzene — in order to get the nicotine. Not that they undoubtedly want to: approximately 70 percent of U.S. adult smokers say they want to quit smoking.

HATSUKAMI: So one of the goals, then, is to actually try to reduce the addiction to these highly toxic concoctions and genuinely change smokers over to less-harmful products.

Less-harmful nicotine commodities have been around for years: gum and patches and nasal sprayings. How effective are they? Not extremely. One analysis pointed out that exactly 14 percent of smokers are able to quit when they use one programme of nicotine-replacement therapy. The figure increases to 17 percentage when using, say, a nicotine spot and gum at the same time.

HATSUKAMI: So one of the problems with the smoking-cessation pharmacological implements is that they are unappealing. They don’t have some of the sensory outcomes that people like when they’re smoking their cigarettes.

How about a inoculation against nicotine addiction? That is something Hatsukami worked on for years. In the early, proof-of-concept study, the results were promising. But ultimately came a large clinical trial.

HATSUKAMI: The results from this chapter 3 clinical trial, they were not positive. So that was unfortunate, but that’s not went on to say that the nicotine vaccine is a bad idea. I think it simply needs to be developed further.

So for years, that’s where things stood. Millions and millions of smokers, most of whom didn’t want to smoke but couldn’t stop. Nicotine-replacement cares that weren’t very effective. A inoculation that wasn’t ready. And then, in 2007, a brand-new make came to market. They’ve since come to be called Demise: electronic nicotine delivery systems — more commonly known e-cigarettes.

SIEGEL: When e-cigarettes first came on the market, my first assumption was that this is just another tobacco-industry ploy that they can say is safer but really isn’t and time goes more people to use tobacco.

That’s Michael Siegel, a physician and prof at the Boston University School of Public Health. He’s been researching tobacco topics for more than 30 years.

SIEGEL: After studying the issue, it became clear to me that this was very different. And the tobacco companionships actually weren’t involved at all. They didn’t get into the picture until 2011. And in fact, this was a much safer concoction and was helping numerous beings to quit smoking.

The earliest e-cigarettes didn’t have good battery life or deliver their nicotine efficiently. But the technology evolved, with the thousands of firebrands put forward by a variety of vaping maneuvers — some of which could be used for vaping other, more humorous substances. Here’s how the National Institute on Drug Abuse summarizes the category: “Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated machines that beings use to inhale an aerosol, which are usually contains nicotine( although not always ), flavours, and other chemicals. They can resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes, cigars, or hoses, or even daily entries like writes or USB memory sticks.” E-cigarettes proved fantastically favourite, for a number of reasons.

SIEGEL: There’s physical stimulant. There’s holding a cigarette. There’s feeling the throat smack, construing the cigarette comes out. There’s social stimulu — smoking with other parties in social settings.

A new word entered the global vocabulary — “vaping, ” or assimilating the vaporized content of these devices.

SIEGEL: I recall more than anything, what vaping offers to smokers is an identity. You don’t have an name as a nicotine-patch-user. Nicotine-patch-users don’t get together in groups and have forums and gatherings for the weekend, but vapers do.

It wasn’t long before a vaping champ was crowned: Juul Labs, founded in 2015 and headquartered in San Francisco. The Juul e-cigarette was elegant and minimalist and it came in flavors including mango, cucumber, and mint. By 2017, Juul was the U.S. supervisor in market share, selling one of every 3 e-cigarettes. Following the adjournment of 2018, the company was valued at $ 38 billion, and it sold off a 35 percentage stake to Altria, the tobacco being previously known as Phillip Morris. Why did Juul become so much more popular than its rivals? Michael Siegel has one answer.

SIEGEL: Juul has a very different nicotine formulation that offsets it something much addictive. It’s a nicotine salt. It’s sucked much more rapidly into the bloodstream. And because of that, it simulates the specific characteristics that you get with a real cigarette. And that is what represents Juuling so addictive.

And how does Juuling, or vaping any nicotine-based e-cigarette, compare to combustible cigarettes when it comes to toxicity? Dorothy Hatsukami again.

HATSUKAMI: Delivering nicotine via the electronic cigarette is far less toxic than the cigarette, but you still have constituents delivered — foreign ingredients delivered to the lung.

SIEGEL: In the testing that’s been done on e-cigarette aerosol, in many cases, they find no detectable different levels of any unwanted compounds. In other specimen, there are some substances, but only a few cases. And that doesn’t mean that the products are safe. Those substances could induce problems if applied over the long term. But the toxicological profile of these products indicates that they’re much safer than cigarettes.

HATSUKAMI: It’s not going to be a harmless concoction, but it certainly beats 7,000 chemicals that you get from cigarettes.

SIEGEL: The strongest evidence that demonstrates how these products are safer are clinical studies that have been done where smokers have switched to e-cigarettes and there’s been a drastic improvement in their respiratory run, both subjectively through their reported symptoms and objectively through spirometry testing, which has shown improvement in lung part among these now ex-smokers.

And what about the long-term effects of vaping, versus smoking cigarettes? What’s the data there?

SIEGEL: There’s no long-term data, because the products have not been on the market long enough to be able to do death studies to show that using e-cigarettes as opposed to cigarettes is going to lower mortality. The detail that we don’t have long-term studies doesn’t mean that it’s not going to save lives. We know it’s going to save lives based on the short-term clinical data that we do have.

So based on the current evidence: e-cigarettes sound like a considerable improvement over cigarettes, at least on some key features. This is the sort of tradeoff known in public-health curves as “harm reduction.” When parties engage in risky behavior, there are at least two ways to help. One is to simply point out how risky their behaviour is, and encourage them to stop. This is the abstinence approach. Abstinence may gaze good on paper, and it may seem perfectly logical to a public-health official or a programme producer who’s never been tempted by any risky behavior themselves. But when it comes to something like cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction — as the data have shown — abstention is a tough sell.

Harm reduction takes a different approach. This entails recognizing that some people are going to engage in risky behavior, and it’ll be a cyberspace better if you can come up with a less-risky version of that behavior. That’s the idea behind needle exchanges for heroin admirers and free condoms for boys. Or putting seat belts in autoes rather than restricting gondolas on the grounds that they’re too dangerous. Or getting cigarette smokers to use e-cigarettes instead. To a cancer researcher like Dorothy Hatsukami, this notion did not come easily. What was her original objective?

HATSUKAMI: Well, first, it was elimination of the use of tobacco concoctions wholly. But because so many people are addicted to the product, then my focus became, well, let’s take a look at harm reduction. If people can’t retire, then let’s “ve been thinking about” commodities that would reduce harm.

If someone like Dorothy Hatsukami could embrace, nonetheless reluctantly, e-cigarettes as suffering reduction, you’d think it would be a slam dunk for U.S. policy makers. But it wasn’t. In fact, e-cigarettes are currently not allowed to be marketed or promoted as smoking-cessation tools, the behavior nicotine gum or spots are. Why not? Okay, this is a little complicated but it leads like this: The Food and Drug Administration was only granted jurisdiction over tobacco makes, believe it or not, in 2009. E-cigarettes were still relatively new.

Rather than categorize them as tobacco commodities, the FDA categorized them as drug-delivery designs — which have much stronger limiteds than cigarettes — and the agency subsequently showed them illegal. The outcome was that their auction was, essentially, banned. The e-cigarette fellowships could have prosecuted sanction as a drug-delivery device. Instead, they sued, and triumphed, which led to the loss the FDA to reclassify e-cigarettes as tobacco products. This hoisted the ban on their marketing, but it also made they couldn’t be promoted as smoking-cessation manoeuvres since, according to the FDA, an e-cigarette mostly is a cigarette.

Now, this isn’t to say that plenty of smokers didn’t take up vaping; they did. A recent analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 54 percent of e-cigarette users too inhale regular cigarettes, but that 30 percent of vapers had quit smoking. At least for the time being. But if you are an e-cigarette company and you can’t market your concoction as a safer alternative to existing smokers, who might you market to instead? Specially if your make comes in spices like mint and mango and cucumber?

SIEGEL: Juuling has become quite popular among youth.

That’s right. While adult smokers trying to quit certainly drove the proliferation of the vaping manufacture, another demographic was coming secured at the same time. Vaping usage in the U.S. today is highest among people aged 18 to 24. Again, bear in mind e-cigarettes only came into existence 12 year ago. Roughly 20 percent of high-schoolers now vape regularly — more than double the share that smoke cigarettes. Which means that a lot of them didn’t smoke before e-cigarettes came along.

SIEGEL: There’s no question that a culture of smoking is being replaced by a culture of vaping. There is a very strong negative correlation between the prevalence of cigarette smoking among young persons and the prevalence of vaping among boy. And I think that it’s really the boy addiction to nicotine that’s their own problems. It’s not vaping itself. It’s the fact that kids are addicted. If you exactly vape for a couple of years as a high school student or a college student, there’s really not going to be any major adverse health effects. But if you become addicted to vaping and then you be brought to an end vaping for many, many years, there could be long-term health effects.

And the vape of alternative among young Americans is Juul. Was this intentional on Juul’s behalf? If you go to Juul’s website today, you’ll learn its mission is to “improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes.” Note the words “adult” and “smokers” — that is, people who already inhale cigarettes. So how did Juul become so popular among adolescents who hadn’t previously smoked?

A study from the Stanford School of Medicine analyzed Juul’s early commerce activity, including many tweets that the company had since deleted. The researchers found that, mention, “Juul’s advertising imagery in its first six months on the market was patently youth-oriented. For the next two-and-a-half times it was more muted, but the company’s advertising was widely distributed on social media canals frequented by kid, was amplified by hashtag extensions, and catalyzed by reimbursed influencers and affiliates.” So, I’m no marketing expert but that is pretty purposeful. In all such cases, the sale of Juul’s sweet and fruity vaping machines skyrocketed among young people and drove the company’s valuation into the billions. It would also originate Juul the target of angry mothers, late-to-the-game regulators, and everyone trying to figure out why dozens of people were unexpectedly dying from vaping.

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In the U.S ., there are two different people of people who use e-cigarettes: older adults, many of whom are trying to give up cigarettes; and young adults and adolescents, many of whom never smoked. Older adults vaping in order to quit smoking could be considered a public-health victory. Younger beings taking up vaping is considered a public-health disaster.

MURTHY: There really is no evidence that supports what was a widely shared thought a couple of years ago, that if these kids are using e-cigarettes, then that’s actually going to prevent them from consuming regular cigarettes.

That, again, is Vivek Murthy, who provided as U.S. Surgeon General under President Obama.

MURTHY: That was an argument that was widely made by the proponents of e-cigarettes several years ago.

But Murthy says there isn’t sufficient evidence for that debate. In other names, even if vaping is less injurious than smoking, vaping might eventually lead to smoking cigarettes.

MURTHY: The other issue is that even though e-cigarettes are nearly always going to be less destructive than traditional cigarettes — because again, they’re not combusted, and they don’t have the full display of harmful toxins — that doesn’t mean that they’re harmles. There are other chemicals in them. And because these were being produced and sold with so little oversight and regulation, we actually didn’t know, and still don’t know, in many cases, “whats in” these products.

DUBNER: Why has there been so little oversight and regulation?

MURTHY: I don’t a hundred percentage know why, but I do think it’s been route too slow. I do think that we have not done the job we need to do as a federal government. And once millions of children are using e-cigarettes who should have never been exposed to these devices.

DUBNER: So the British government took pretty much exactly the opposite approach of the U.S. Federal government departments. And they mostly looked at it years ago and said e-cigarettes are probably not the greatest thing in the world for people, but we believe that as a substitute for smoking, they could save a lot of lives. And the British government and their cancer and anti-smoking institutions offer evidence to argue that they have been correct.

MURTHY: Yeah. So the U.K. did take a different approach in some ways. They were more optimistic on the prospect of e-cigarettes being helpful for cease. But the U.K. was also very concerned about protecting children. And they actually made more regulatory measures — including restrain the amount of nicotine in e-cigarette products — which are things that we did not do here in the United Country. They tried to go at the problem more with a scalpel as opposed to with a blunt instrument. And I believe we struggled with that here in the United Commonwealth.

SIEGEL: Yeah, the U.K. has a very different approach to electronic cigarettes than we do in the U.S.

That, again, is Michael Siegel, the Boston University tobacco researcher.

SIEGEL: And that is that the U.K. has adjusted these products. And more importantly, there is a limit on the amount of nicotine that’s allowable. You are simply have up to 20 milligrams per milliliter of nicotine in your e-liquids. In the U.S ., there’s no restriction at all. So Juul comes along, they articulated 54 milligrams per milliliter in their make, and it’s no surprise that kids are get addicted. People may not realize this, but there is Juul in the U.K ., but they don’t have a youth Juuling problem. And the reason for that is you don’t have Juul at 54 milligrams per milliliter, you have Juul at 17. In this country, these commodities have not been cuddled for trauma reduction, but they’ve actually espoused electronic cigarettes as a mischief reduction policy. And as a result, the health care expenditure in the U.K. are going down.

Why have both countries approached the issue so differently? Here’s how Michael Siegel interprets it. In the U.S ., he says 😛 TAGEND

SIEGEL: There’s a huge stigma attached to smoking, and people who smoke have much less political strength, so it’s very easy to dismiss their concerns. In the U.K ., I don’t think that demonization has existed. There’s a lot less of this kind of prohibitionist or puritanical examine of wickedness that we have here. There’s a lot more expressing its concern about smokers and trying to find ways to get them to improve their health and save their lives.

And, as a result 😛 TAGEND

SIEGEL: The U.K. has not had as much of a problem with teenager vaping as we have. There are youth who vape, but the rates are not nearly as high and they don’t have a lot of youth who are addicted.

When Siegel says the British youth vaping rates are “not nearly as high” — well, he is not exaggerating: are in accordance with Public Health England, fewer than two percent of Britons under senility 18 application e-cigarettes at least weekly, the vast majority of whom smoke cigarettes as well. Among young people who don’t smoke, vaping is almost nonexistent.

SIEGEL: So I think that the lesson we need to learn is that you don’t superseded when you have a popular product by banning it. What works is regulating the product. And I belief had the FDA been regulating e-cigarettes from the beginning, had they position safety standards, including peak nicotine tiers, we would never have gotten into this mess. Juul could never have appeared because it wouldn’t have been allowed to come on the market with that high-end nicotine level.

So Michael Siegel’s proof is pretty interesting: public-health officials in the U.K. developed a regulatory plan for e-cigarettes that was meant to maximize smoking cessation among adults while restraint boy uptake. In the U.S ., meanwhile, an early try at a proscription have all contributed to a gloomy regulations and rules that didn’t further either those goals. It likewise left a company like Juul free to make and market a make that many beings now concur is too potent and extremely popular with too many young people. But the lack of regulation around vaping did more than simply that. It also paved the space for a public-health tragedy that seemed to come out of nowhere.

CBS News: A fourth demise has been reported from a severe lung illness linked to vaping.

CBS News: This draws the national fee to 31 fatalities across 22 states.

Actually, as of this record, the fatality total is 42, with more than 2,000 gashes, across nearly every state, all attributed to EVALI — “e-cigarette, or vaping, product-use-associated lung injury.” The problem involves chest pain, shortness of breath, and vomiting; and it’s been overwhelmingly centralized among young people — nearly 8 in 10 were under 35.

CBS News: Health officials believe some chemicals found in e-cigarette and dopes vaping products be held accountable, but they’ve not marked any single manoeuvre, concoction, or element that’s responsible.

And because no single device or make was identified, all vaping commodities were lumped in together as is practicable culprits — all the different designings and inventions and flavors, including the e-cigarettes thought to be the safest. You couldn’t accused parties for panicking.

PBS NewsHour: The Federal Government today told Americans not to use e-cigarettes following several inscrutable extinctions linked to vaping.

Michael Siegel again 😛 TAGEND

SIEGEL: The state of Massachusetts ratified an emergency ban of sales of all vaping commodities. There are still several other states that have ordained an emergency ban on time flavored e-liquids.

Juul came under particularly intense pressure. Its valuation slumped , its CEO resigned, it laid off hundreds of employees — all this as its home city of San Francisco was ordaining what amounted to a ban on all e-cigarette auctions.” This temporary moratorium wouldn’t be necessary if the Federal government departments had done its enterprise ,” said San Francisco’s metropoli attorney.” This is a decisive step to help prevent another contemporary of San Francisco children from becoming addicted to nicotine.” But what about the abrupt outbreak of vaping illness and demises — would banning Juul and other e-cigarettes fix that problem? Siegel didn’t think so.

SIEGEL: I think it’s extremely unlikely that any store-bought nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are involved in this outbreak.

Why was he so self-confident? Well, there were a number of clues — starting with what was happening in the U.K. Which was pretty much nothing.

SIEGEL: So far, I don’t know of any cases of respiratory failure that have been reported in the U.K. And that’s important because it tells us that it can’t be traditional e-cigarettes because those products have been sold in the U.K. and in other countries for a decade or more, and they haven’t had any problems. Something different is going on here.

So what was going on now?

SIEGEL: I think what is going on different is that we have a huge black market, especially for THC concoctions. And I think it’s those commodities that are predominantly responsible for the outbreak.

THC, if you don’t remember from chemistry class, is the primary psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. And the Core for Disease Control, in surveying the victims of the EVALI outbreak, had learned–

SIEGEL: The CDC has reported that nearly 89 percentage of the cases are attributable to THC or black-market vaping petroleums, whereas 11 percentage of the cases did not admit to using THC. Now that doesn’t mean that those cases were consequently attributable to nicotine e-liquids, for a number of reasons. The more important of which is that beings tend to underreport their smoke help, specially youth.

In other messages, it seemed these vaping deaths and injuries weren’t mainly being caused by e-cigarettes. Perhaps e-cigarettes had nothing to do with the outbreak. It’s important to note that all e-cigarettes, which are designed to deliver nicotine, are vapes; but not all vapes are e-cigarettes.

SIEGEL: There is a difference between the types of manoeuvres that can be used to vape cannabis as opposed to designs that can be used to vape nicotine-based liquids. These are very different types of liquids.

E-cigarettes use liquids that are generally ocean or alcohol-based, while THC vaping liquids are oils.

SIEGEL: The cannabis distillate actually needs an oil base to dissolve properly. You’re mostly talking about vaping oil versus vaping liquid. And the devices that can handle those types of liquids are quite different. And we’ve got to be very careful not to conflate the two.

But there was a lot of conflation going on between spray or alcohol-based nicotine e-cigarette maneuvers and oil-based vaping maneuvers. Not simply in the media reporting on the outbreak, but in how some state governments were approaching e-cigarette bans.

SIEGEL: First of all, their own policies I don’t think are justified because there’s no evidence that store-bought nicotine e-liquids are involved at all in this. So why set all these vape stores out of business when it’s not going to have any significant impact in curtailing the outbreak? But furthermore, there is going to be some severe negative public-health consequences of these prohibitions. Countless ex-smokers who are dependent upon vaping concoctions to stay off tobacco are going to switch to smoking when their commodities are taken off the shelves.

There are also the hundreds of millions of smokers in places like Indonesia and Russia and China who, if you’re rooting for public health generally, you might want to see have easy access to e-cigarettes. In the midst of all this came a couple of surprising developings. The Trump Administration and the FDA had been leaning toward implementing a outlaw of most flavored e-cigarettes in the hopes of curtailing youth vaping. But the White House then reversed itself. But Juul Labs, in the face of that expected spice banning, had already announced that it was discontinuing all its sweet and fruity nicotine cartridges — mango, cucumber, even its more popular, spate, all gone. The only flavors Juul would continue selling in the U.S. are menthol, “Virginia tobacco” and “classic tobacco.” Now, was this a public-health victory? Michael Siegel doesn’t think so.

SIEGEL: I think what a lot of parties don’t realize is there is no such thing as an un-flavored e-liquid. Every e-liquid has a flavor, it’s just that tobacco is something of those spices, and then there’s hundreds of other flavors.

So when the FDA was considering a ban on these spices — and that boycott may still happen, it’s hard to say — what was the idea behind that?

SIEGEL: The idea behind that, probably, is that youth are more likely to use the non-tobacco spices than the tobacco flavor. The difficulty with that is that so are adults. Adult smokers who have quit successfully utilizing these produces have predominantly abused flavored concoctions, and they specific don’t like the tobacco produce because it reminds them of cigarettes. The entire phase of swapping to vaping is to get away from the tobacco suffer, and so many vapers actually spurn the idea of using a tobacco e-liquid. So to take these spices off the market and to tell smokers, “Okay, well, just go back to the tobacco” — that’s just not is happening. What are the smokers was just going to do? They’re basically going to get two alternatives. Either they just go back to smoking or they try to obtain these products off the black market.

And what about younger vapers who’ve get accustomed to — or addicted to — flavored vaping?

SIEGEL: I feel a good deal of youth are going to transition from flavored e-liquids over to THC oils because those are the products that are going to be available. It’s incredibly easy to get these black-market THC products. You just go onto the internet. You say you’re 21. They will use what’s available. And what’s going to be available is going to transition towards THC petroleums. And that could actually stimulate the outbreak worse rather than better.

Because the outbreak, recollect, the deaths and injuries, seems to be not be driven by e-cigarette use.

SIEGEL: I reflect the strongest evidence is simply that in 90 percent of the patients admit to using THC, even though there’s a lot of underreporting, testing of the THC cartridges has uncovered Vitamin E acetate petroleum. And still further , not a single nicotine liquid that’s been measured has had any aberrations in it.

Indeed, in early November, the CDC affirmed it had identified what it considered a, mention, “very strong culprit” for the vaping deaths and injuries: Vitamin E acetate oil, as Michael Siegel had supposed. What is Vitamin E acetate petroleum? It’s a thicken part that’s recently begun present up in vaping liquids — particularly in black-market THC commodities that are thought to come primarily from China. So, to be clear, as of now it appears that most, if not all, of the deaths and illnesses were compelled not by e-cigarettes but instead by skimpy black-market THC commodities. But in the best interests — and in the course of carrying out a programme that seems to be driven more abstention than injure reduction — mood and city governments and some state health departments have already taken steps to curtail the availability of e-cigarettes. What does Michael Siegel think of this?

SIEGEL: I recollect from the perspective of legislators, this is a really easy way to be able to tell your ingredients that you care about kids. You care about health. You are out there restricting the flavored e-cigarettes. It’s very easy to do that because there is no opposition. The vaping manufacture doesn’t have a powerful foyer like the tobacco manufacture does. And what’s very interesting is that these same politicians who want to ban flavored e-liquids don’t want to touch cigarettes. They don’t want to have any increased restraints for the sale of tobacco. They don’t want to take tobacco off the shelves. So I is of the view that what they’re doing is basically exactly witnessing some practice that they are able to, without having to actually take any kind of politically gutsy act, make it look like they’re really taking a strong stance.

From the perspective of health districts I don’t think that they’re being insincere, I envisage their goals are to try to improve health, and I’m not inquiring that. What I do think is going on with the mood health agencies, though, is one of two things. I think that a lot of state health departments just take their direction from the CDC. They don’t want to conflict with what CDC says. And there are many health organizations that really have just been against e-cigarettes from the start. And they see this as an opportunity to take advantage of this outbreak, to advance their agenda of get e-cigarettes boycotted, or at least getting the spices banned. And in fact, many of the states are doing this through emergency guilds, bypassing the legislative process. And the problem with that is it infringes the breakup of supremacies.

Health districts is not have the authority to establish law. They’re supposed to enforce the law that the legislature sets out. What they’re doing is declaring an emergency because of the outbreak, and then responding by banning e-cigarettes that don’t have anything to do with the eruption. I don’t think that there are politics involved in what the territory health districts are doing. I think that these are dedicated professionals. I think they’re sincere. I think they’re well-intentioned. But I just think there’s an underlying bias that mass their thinking.

And how would Michael Siegel, if he left the ivory tower of academia for some large-scale public-health department that was wrestling over the future of e-cigarettes, how would he step the line between abstention and harm reduction?

SIEGEL: I foresee the most important thing that could be done to limit youth access to these products is to restrict the sale of not only e-cigarettes, but all tobacco produces, including real cigarettes, to stores that are only open to people who are over 21 years old and that simply sell tobacco products or e-cigarettes. Similar to the way we handle liquor in most states in the U.S. I envision a second thing that we need to do is to have direct regulations of e-cigarette marketing, and to allow companies to tell the truth to consumers — namely that this organization is concoctions that are designed for smoking cessation. And I consider one of the problems right now is, because companionships would not be able to even inform their consumers truthfully that people are using these products for smoking cessation, they have nothing to fall back on in their ads other than trying to start e-cigarettes or vaping examination glamorous.

At the moment , nothing of it is looking very glamorous.

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Freakonomics Radio is produced by Stitcher and Dubner Productions. This bout was produced by Zack Lapinski, with help from Alvin Melathe. Our staff includes Alison Craiglow, Harry Huggins, Matt Hickey, Greg Rippin, Corinne Wallace, and Daphne Chen. Our intern is Ben Shaiman. Our theme song is “Mr. Fortune, ” by the Hitchhikers; all the other music was composed by Luis Guerra. You can are contributing to Freakonomics Radio on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas in this episode 😛 TAGEND

SOURCE

Jonathan Gruber, economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and administrator of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Program on Health Care. Dorothy Hatsukami, clinical psychologist at the University of Minnesota, and superintendent of the Tobacco Research Programs. Vivek Murthy, physician, and onetime United States Surgeon General. Michael Siegel, physician, and professor of society health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. Robert West, psychologist at the University College London, writer of the publication Addiction, and administrator of the Tobacco& Alcohol Research Group.

RESOURCE

Different Doses, Spans, and Models of Delivery of Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Smoking Cessation ,” by Nicola Lindson, Samantha C. Chepkin, Weiyu Ye, Thomas R. Fanshawe, Chris Bullen, and Jamie Harmann-Boyce( Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, 2019 ). “JUUL Advertising Over its First Three Years on the Market ,” by Robert K. Jackler, Cindy Chau, Brook D. Getachew, Mackenzie M. Whitcomb, Jeffrey Lee-Heidenreich, Alexander M. Bhatt, Sophia H.S. Kim-O’Sullivan, Zachary A. Hoffman, Laurie M. Jackler, and Divya Ramamurthi( Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising, 2019 ). “Toxicological Comparison of Cigarette Smoke and E-Cigarette Aerosol Using a 3D in Vitro Human Respiratory Model ,” by Lukasz Czekala, Liam Simms, Matthew Stevenson, Nicole Tschierske, Anna G. Maione, and Tanvir Walele( Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 2019 ). “Health Effects in COPD Smokers Who Switch to Electronic Cigarette: a Retrospective-Prospective 3-Year Follow-Up ,” by Ricardo Polosa, Jaymin B. Morjaria, Umberto Prosperini, Cristina Russo, Alfio Pennisi, Rosario Puleo, Massimo Caruso, and Pasquale Caponnetto( International Journal of COPD, 2018 ). “Prevalence and Distribution of E-Cigarette Use Among U.S. Adults: Behavioral Jeopardy Factor Surveillance System, 2016 ,” by Mohammadhassan Mirbolouk, Paniz Charkhchi, Sina Kianoush, Iftekhar Uddin, Olusola A. Orimoloye, Rana Jaber, Aruni Bhatnagar, Emelia J. Benjamin, Michael E. Hall, Andrew P. DeFilippis, Wasim Maziak, Khurram Nasir, and Michael J. Blaha( Annals of Internal Medicine, 2018 ). “Chemical Composition of Aerosol from an E-Cigarette: A Quantitative Comparison with Cigarette Smoke ,” by Jennifer Margham, Kevin McAdam, Mark Forster, Chuan Liu, Christopher Wright, Derek Mariner, and Christopher Proctor( Chemical Research in Toxicology, 2016 ). “Inventing Conflicts of Interest: A History of Tobacco Industry Tactics ,” by Allan M. Brandt( American Journal of Public Health, 2012 ).

EXTRA

How to Make People Quit Smoking( Ep. 161 )” Freakonomics Radio( 2014 ).

The post The Truth About the Vaping Crisis( Ep. 398 ) showed first on Freakonomics.

Read more: freakonomics.com

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The biggest truth in personal finance

For the past six weeks, I’ve been hard at work writing my “introduction to financial independence and early retirement” project for Audible and The Great Courses. It’s been challenging — and fun — to rework my past material for a new audience in a new format.

Naturally, I’m emphasizing two important points in this project: profit and purpose.

  • I believe strongly that you need a clear personal mission statement in order to find success with money (and life).
  • I also believe that the most important number on your path to financial freedom is your personal profit, the difference between your income and your spending. (Most people refer to this number as saving rate. I prefer the term “personal profit” because it’s, well, sexier.)

That last point is important.

Too many people want magic bullets. They want quick and easy ways to get out of debt and build wealth. They believe (or hope) that there’s some sort of secret they can uncover, that somehow they’ve missed. Well, there aren’t any secrets. Money mastery is a combination of psychology and math. And the math part is so simple a third-grader could understand it. Wealth is the accumulation of what you earn minus what you spend.

There are only two sides to this wealth equation — earning and spending — but a disproportionate amount of financial advice focuses on the one factor, on spending, and that’s too bad. Sure, frugality is an important part of personal finance. And if you’re in a tight spot and/or have a high income and still struggle, then cutting expenses is an excellent choice. But the reality is, you won’t get rich — slowly or otherwise — by pinching pennies alone.

The biggest truth in personal finance

The Biggest Lie in Personal Finance

Recently at his excellent blog, Of Dollars and Data, Nick Maggiulli wrote about the biggest lie in personal finance. What is that lie? He writes:

While there are lots of people who are in financial trouble because of their own actions, there are also lots of people with good financial habits who just don’t have sufficient income to improve their finances.

That’s why the biggest lie in personal finance is that you can be rich if you just cut your spending. And the financial media feeds this lie by telling you to stop spending $5 a day on coffee so that you can become a millionaire.

With charts and graphs and data, Maggiuli demonstrates that the problem facing people with low incomes isn’t their spending — it’s their earning. If you’re living at the poverty line — currently $26,200 per year for an American family of four — you’re not going to escape through thrift. Thrift is an emergency measure, a stopgap. It’s a bandage on a major wound.

Here’s the bottom line:

  • If you’re poor and hope to be not poor, your attention should be focused on increasing income, not on cutting costs. Your expenses are likely already very low.
  • If you have an average household income — currently $63,179 according to the U.S. Census Bureau — your path to building wealth will probably include both frugality and income enhancement.
  • If you have a high income but still struggle to make ends meet, your attention should absolutely turn to cutting costs. You need to rein in your lifestyle. But you won’t accomplish this with frugality; you’ll do this by optimizing the big stuff.

Maggiuli is fed up with the Biggest Lie. It “triggers” him.

“This is the same financial media who write stories about how people save money by living in a trailer, making their own dish soap, or reusing their dental floss,” he writes. “Yes, it’s that ridiculous. But what really gets me is how these examples are provided as ‘proof’ of how cutting spending can make you rich.”

From my experience, this sort of stuff is perennially popular because it’s easy. It’s easy to write and it’s easy to read, even if it doesn’t offer any real solutions. It’s more difficult to write about boosting your income. And, it’s more difficult to act on that information because it takes time, effort, and actual sacrifice.

Real-Life Examples of the Biggest Lie in Action

Just this morning, Trent at The Simple Dollar published an article about optimizing dishwashing for money and time. Trent writes:

If I can invest some time and thought and effort into optimizing a routine I do three times a week, and that optimization trims off five minutes of effort and $0.50 in cost, I’m literally saving 13 hours per year and $78 per year for the rest of my life.

Trent isn’t wrong. If his math is correct (and his discipline too), he will literally save 13 hours and $78 each year by optimizing how he does dishes. This isn’t a lie. In this case, the lie comes from what is implied: Do this and you’ll grow rich. You’ll reach financial freedom by becoming a smarter dishwasher.

Here’s the truth: You don’t reap the thirteen hours and $78 annual benefit as a one-time win. You’re saving five minutes and fifty cents per day. This may seem like a niggling point, but it’s important. If you gain thirteen hours or $78 at once, that’s something real and tangible, something you can work with. But an extra five minutes and fifty cents per day? Not so much.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t optimize your dishwashing routine. Do it! But don’t expect it to make you rich. Because it won’t.

Here’s a bigger example of the lie in action.

Elizabeth Willard Thames writes at Frugalwoods, which is one of my favorite money blogs. Recently, especially, Liz has been publishing lots of amazing stuff. I look forward to each new article. (Those of you who make use of the Spare Change list of links on the GRS front page have probably noticed that I bookmark Frugalwoods frequently.)

As you might guess from the name of her blog, Liz focuses (almost?) exclusively on thrift. She and her husband practice extreme frugality. She wrote a book, Meet the Frugalwoods [my review], that documented their journey from poor college students to achieving financial independence on a 66-acre farm in central Vermont.

Now, there’s no doubt that Liz and Nate are thrifty. They practice what they preach. But their frugality is not the reason for their wealth, the reason they were able to retire early. You can’t buy a 66-acre farm in Vermont simply by optimizing your dishwashing routine. Or clipping coupons. Or hosting potlucks. To do this, you also need a high income. And that’s a part of the story that Liz doesn’t share with her readers. She and her husband made a lot of money, and that’s how they got rich — not through frugality.

I’m sure Liz doesn’t mean to obfuscate the truth, but that’s the net effect. She’s complicit in “the biggest lie in personal finance”.

To her credit, Liz seems to be incorporating more of the truth in her writing. Today, for instance, the About page at Frugalwoods acknowledges their high incomes. This didn’t used to be the case.

Now, I don’t mean to dog on Liz and Trent. They’re both good people and fine writers. But I think they do their readers a huge disservice by covering just one aspect of the wealth equation, by rarely (if ever) mentioning income. They’re active participants in Maggiuli’s “biggest lie”.

And I’ll confess: For a long time, I was guilty of the same thing. Sometimes, I still am. Hell, I’ve spilled a lot of words lately about my quest to optimize my food spending, haven’t I? I’m not claiming to be any better than Liz or Trent. But I want to at least acknowledge the lie — and the reciprocal truth.

The Biggest Truth in Personal Finance

If frugality isn’t the path to riches, what is? The answer is simple: Big Wins. Big Wins are the quickest way to wealth.

You can scrape your dishes and rinse them in cold water every day for the rest of your life, and you still wouldn’t match the benefits you’d obtain by purchasing a cheaper home. Or choosing a more fuel-efficient car. Or negotiating your salary.

The best way to spend less is to cut back on the big stuff.

If the average American family were to trim their housing costs by 10%, they’d save roughly $150 per housing payment — more than twenty times the benefit of optimizing your dishwashing routine. Transportation offers similar opportunities. According to the American Automobile Association, the average driver spends just over $9000 per year on her vehicle. Reduce this spending by less than one percent and you’ve accomplished the same thing as a year of diligent dishwashing.

But, as Maggiuli notes in his article, income is the elephant in the room, the subject that too many writers ignore.

You can only cut costs so far. There’s no way to reduce your spending below zero, and most of us can’t come close to that. As I mentioned earlier, the U.S. poverty line for a family of four is currently $26,200. (For two people, it’s $17,240.) Not counting his business, Mr. Money Mustache (a famously frugal fellow) spent $13,068 in 2019.

If you’re living like this and want to escape, you shouldn’t look for ways to cut costs. That stuff is useless to you. If somebody tells you otherwise, they’re lying. In these circumstances, you should be trying to increase your income. And even if you have a standard middle-class salary, boosting income is usually the best way to meet your goals.

There are three primary ways to earn more money.

  • First, become better educated. Despite the dire details in the gloomy mass media, one fact is undeniable: The more you learn, the more you earn. In the U.S., education has a greater impact on lifetime earnings than any other demographic factor. It’s more important than your race, your religion, your gender, your location. (In fact, the Census Bureau says education has five times the impact of gender on annual earnings.) That’s great news because while you can’t control your age or race, you have total control over your education.
  • Second, become a better employee. I read a lot on Reddit (and other places) where people piss on their employers, complaining about how their boss (or company) is out to screw them. This stuff is counter-productive. Sure, there are some shitty employers out there, but most are happy to promote and reward their best workers. If you want to earn more, work longer and harder than others will. If you’re in a situation where hard work goes unrewarded, switch jobs.
  • Finally — and most importantly — learn to negotiate your salary. Study after study shows the same thing: Failing to negotiate your salary can cost you over half a million dollars during the course of a typical career. Half a million dollars! For over a decade, I’ve been pushing Jack Chapman’s book, Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute. Let me do so again.

“You can’t frugalize income you don’t earn,” Liz writes in Meet the Frugalwoods. She speaks the truth! The biggest truth.

I’m no enemy of thrift. Yes, absolutely, pinch your pennies, if that makes you happy. Frugality is an excellent way to build good habits. Over the long run, many frugal habits combined can make a big difference to your financial situation.

But if you have a low income, do not focus on thrift. It’s a red herring. Instead, turn your attention to Big Wins. And, especially, to increasing your income. Because this is the biggest truth in personal finance: You can’t get rich through frugality alone.

The post The biggest truth in personal finance appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

Two Veterans Are Assembling the Avengers of Thru-Hiking

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While doing a chore check of legislating vehicles in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, in 2006, Sergeant Trey Cate and his person soldiers were attacked. Standing in wall street, the initial blast–triggered by a suicide bomber–shattered his legs. Minutes last-minute, gunmen disguised on nearby rooftops to fire, hitting him in the back, weapon, and helmet. A stray missile touched a cask of gasoline, and ardor enveloped the wounded soldiers, including Cate.

Remarkably, every soldier represented it out alive. But when Cate got to the hospital, a doctor told him he’d never walk again. Cate didn’t countenanced it. “Watch me prove you wrong, ” he told the doctor.

“They told me I didn’t understand how injured I was, ” says Cate. “I told them they don’t understand my mentality.”

Thirteen year later , is not simply does Cate, 35, saunter, but he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2017 and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018.

Cate was introduced to former Marine Jeremy “Mac” McDonald, 34, as part of the thru-hiking community. Together, the two ex-servicemen are organizing one of the most ambitious thru-hiking expeditions in recent years: a 12-person team that will take on the 6,875 -mile Great Western Loop.

McDonald spent eight years in the Marine Corps, did three safaruss in Iraq, and was the head of Marine security at the U.S. embassy in Dakar, Senegal. “I’ve backpacked in some of the craziest neighbourhoods, time because I’ve gotten to travel so much, ” he says. In 2014, after he left the Marines, McDonald hiked the Appalachian Trail.

But Cate has the more surprising thru-hiking conversion story. Stuck in the hospital as he recovered from his war injuries, Cate would expend hours figment. “I’m in a infirmary bed, and beings are telling me I’ll never walk again, and so all I could think about was accompanying again, ” he says. Not acquiring he’d spend his life in a wheelchair, Cate obliged himself to get out of bed and rehearsed putting one hoof in front of the other.

“While walking around, the hospital aide-de-camps would follow me with a couch on rotates for when I’d fall, ” Cate says. “I’d lost a lot of value at this point–I’m six foot three, and I weighed 140 pounds.”

It was Cate’s younger brother who firstly told him about the Appalachian Trail. When Cate construed photos of how happy his brother seemed while trekking a 30 -mile section, he immediately knew he wanted to thru-hike the part thing. “I had already been daydreaming about “ve got something” with my legs, ” says Cate. “Why learn to walk again if I don’t do something incredible? ”

But it wasn’t merely the hurts to his legs that Cate was trying to overcome. The explode left him with a traumatic ability hurt, and when he first came to in research hospitals, he had amnesia. “When I woke up, a woman was hugging me, and I reviewed, Wow, my girlfriend is old, ” says Cate. “I shoved her away. But turns out it was my mom.” He recognized her after a few daytimes, but his recalls never fully returned.

After Cate retired from the Army and graduated from the University of South Florida in 2015, he decided to fulfill the promise he’d made to himself on research hospitals berthed years ago. He began preparing to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, but Cate says a side effect of his brain harm was that it left him too relying of others. On White Blaze, a meeting for Appalachian Trail hikers, an anonymous consumer toy a joke on him, feeding him false information about what thru-hiking necessitated. He told Cate that if he started hiking the Appalachian Trail in January, he wouldn’t need anything warmer than a 30 -degree sleeping bag.( That is very incorrect; temperatures often remove to single digits .) Cate likewise believed it when the stranger told him that the backcountry refuges had electric outlet, and that he could charge his telephone there at night.( Too not true .)

Cate ended half of the hike, starting in Georgia and going off trail at Harpers Ferry in West Virginia because he wasn’t appropriately organized. He then should be going, studied what he did wrong, and tried again the next year. That period he successfully hiked the part line, and he loved it.

Jeremy McDonald (left) and Trey CateJeremy McDonald( left) and Trey Cate( Photo: Jeremy McDonald)

The two got the idea to tackle the Great Western Loop because they wanted to do more with their passion for the outdoors, “something really interesting that gets the attention of the entire thru-hiking community, ” says Cate. Taking a dozen beings on the longest thru-hike in the United State certainly certifies.

The loop links together five existing long-distance footpaths: the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Grand Enchantment Trail, the Arizona Trail, and the Pacific Northwest Trail. Its footpath follows the Sierra, the Cascades, and the Rocky Mountains and surpasses through 12 national parks and 75 wilderness areas. To appointment, only two beings had previously been hiked the Great Western Loop to completion in a calendar year, one of whom is Outside columnist Andrew Skurka.

To accomplish their objective, Cate and McDonald set up the expedition as an LLC called the Push Beyond and partnered with a marketing company for notoriety and to acquire patronizes to provide furnishes and funds to the hikers, which include McDonald. They spent much of the last year getting patronizes and now have a budget of around $250,000. With the contrive in place, they are ready to start hiking in March, beginning and ending in Cuba, New Mexico.

Because of the logistics required, Cate volunteered to follow the hikers in a supporting van rather than hike himself. “This level of organization is what we used for military missions, ” Cate says. “You have to consider everything down to the final detail: the condition, the gives, the travel.” Two vehicles will follow the hikers, ferry them to town, and resupply them with food. Support staff will also gauge pick-up phases, respond to emergencies, and even do their laundry.

“There surely will be a rate of harm, ” says Phaneendra Kollipara, one of the thru-hikers selected for the expedition. Kollipara, a 27 -year-old engineer from India living in Michigan, has hiked all three main roads in the U.S. “There are things we can do to help prevent injury, but bad luck can happen to anybody, ” he says.

Seven men as well as five ladies between the senilities of 22 and 36 and applauding from four countries were selected. All are suffered thru-hikers. Each selected a donation to raise money for, including the Pacific Crest Trail Association, the Semper Fi Fund, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and they’ll be seeking subscriptions while they hike as well as questioning patronizes to support their chosen makings.

Cate and McDonald initially spread message of their plans in person and by posting in thru-hiking Facebook groups, and soon enough, applications began flooding in. Experience in long-distance hiking was requisite, but not sufficient: Cate probed for individuals who were patient and easy to get along with and who followed tacks well. “I tried to stay away from people who wanted to’ race’ the whole time or would get angry the moment something didn’t go their nature, ” Cate says. They missed people from different backgrounds, they recruited internationally, and they tried to balance the number of men and women. Because 12 people is an unwieldy number on a route where campsites rarely fit more than four tents, the team will be divided into four groups of three beings, with staggered start times.

Skurka was the first person to ever hike the Great Western Loop, completing it in 206 epoches in 2007. “It was complicated enough when I did it by my dreary, ” he says. “I can’t imagine what it would take to organize for 12 people.”

He points out that the biggest challenge the group will face will be hiking through the Sierra Nevada once the blizzard starts to melt around mid-May, and then booking it all the way to the Rockies, where it’ll have to exit the San Juans of southern Colorado before the snow precipitates in October. “You’re mostly hastening against winter the whole time, ” says Skurka. “You need to throw down 30 or 40 miles a period. That’s the inherent difficulty.”

Even if you can handle the physical challenge, says Skurka, it is possible to just as tough psychologically.

“I would is difficult to do that expedition nowadays, because it’s came so many mind-bogglingly boring miles, hour after hour after hour, ” he says. “You can’t do these things for fame and luck, you have to desire it at the end. There are too many hours at some tier of suffering to make it worthwhile otherwise.” That said, Skurka glances back on the Great Western Loop as one of the best things he’s ever done. “I hope they can experience that, too.”

Cate and McDonald are hopeful that the success of this expedition will allow them to host brand-new outdoor challenges in the future. But for now, they’re counting the working day until the undertaking begins.

“I am very excited, ” says McDonald. “I wish we were starting yesterday.”

Read more: outsideonline.com

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Review

The provides a solid introductory offer of zero interest, along with rewards you can earn easily through regular spending. The card also comes with Mastercard protection, meaning you’ll be insured nearly anywhere you shop.

Another enticing feature of this card is that you don’t need excellent credit to qualify. Even customers with fair credit could get this card. If you’re looking to build up your credit, a no-fee card like this is a fantastic choice. Plus, the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® is one of the few credit cards that also doles out excellent rewards to customers with lower credit scores.

What we like about the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard®

  • Get $150 as a statement credit after you put $1,200 worth of expenses on the card in the first three months
  • Each quarter, ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® offers 5x points on certain purchases on a rotating basis, like bills, travel and dining; this additional perk applies only to the first $1,500 each quarter, but that can easily add up
  • Each dollar you spend on the card will earn you one reward point, and you’ll get extra points when you buy from an ABOC partner
  • Select between several categories when redeeming your rewards points
  • There’s no limit to the number of points you can earn using this card, so you’ll get points for every purchase you make all year
  • This card doesn’t charge an annual fee for cardholders, so you don’t pay to receive rewards

Things to consider

  • Although earning 5x points on certain purchases quarterly is fantastic, all other purchases only earn 1x point
  • To maximize your rewards, you have to track categories each quarter and make sure you are spending up to $1,500 in them

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® details

One of the best features of this card is its surplus of options for redeeming the rewards you’re earning. Many credit cards are more strict and let you use your points only toward one category, like hotel stays or cash back. However, the has several redemption choices for cardholders.

You can choose to use your rewards for credit on your statement, miles, cruise vouchers, gift cards or merchandise. You can also decide to combine your rewards into several different categories. To redeem your points, simply call customer service or use the online platform.

Fee details

The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® doesn’t come with an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Thus, you won’t get hit with an extra fee for each purchase when you use your card abroad. The only extra cost you might find with this card is a late fee up to $35 or a returned payment charge of up to $25.

How does it compare to other rewards cards?

The is great for anyone looking for high rewards on rotating categories each quarter, but there are other cards you might want to consider if you’re hoping for more simplified rewards. The Citi Double Cash Card and the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card are two fantastic options that don’t ask you to track category changes every few months.

Card Ongoing Purchase APR Annual Fee Intro Bonus Credit Needed Key features
14.40% – 24.40% Variable APR on purchases None $150 statement credit after you spend $1,200 in the first three months Average
  • 5x points on specific categories
  • Will accept members with average credit scores
  • Can be used with a digital wallet and earn points
Citi® Double Cash Card 15.49% – 25.49% (Variable) $0 None Excellent
  • Earn cash back twice — 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off
  • Cash back rewards apply to all purchases
  • No APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months
Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card 12.49 – 15.49% (variable) $99, $0 the first year 3% cash back on nearly all purchases for the first year Excellent
  • 2.5% cash back after the first year on all purchases
  • Potentially low APR
  • No foreign transaction fees

The bottom line

If you’re a customer looking to rebuild credit while also getting a little return, you could do very well with the . As long as you’re willing to put in the work to follow the rotating rewards categories, you could rack up a lot of rewards while increasing your credit score. The fact that the card comes with no annual fee and a reasonable APR means you can easily earn points even if your credit score is lower.

However, some cardholders might want to look elsewhere. If you’re hoping to earn more than one point per dollar spent on everything except for the items in the quarterly categories, it might be a good idea to seek out a different card. Other cards can give more enticing benefits, especially if you have a high credit score. Also, although some members will see the flexible redemption categories as a perk, if you want a card dedicated to cash back or travel, there are more versatile options out there.

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.

The post ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Review appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Economy

How Rent to Own Works

I’ve been renting for over a decade.

And I’m getting kind of tired of it.

But what if my credit isn’t as good as it could be and I don’t have the savings needed to cover a down payment? Do I have any options?

Yes, there is rent-to-own.

Rent-to-own is a viable option for people that are looking to plant their roots but can’t take on a mortgage.

So how does rent-to-own work? Typically, a rent-to-own arrangement occurs when a tenant signs a lease with the option to buy the property later. These leases are usually three-year agreements, and the tenant pays rent along with an additional payment that goes towards the down payment of the house.

Think of it as higher rent that turns into a mortgage later.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this type of arrangement because this decision has long term consequences.

What it Means to Rent to Own

When you sign a rent-to-own agreement, your monthly payments will consist of two things.

  1. The typical market-rate rental payment. In other words, the amount of money you would usually pay if you were renting the property.
  2. An additional payment each month that goes towards your down payment for when you’re ready to buy the home. Your lease should list the rental amount, how much of that payment goes towards the down payment, and the projected selling price.

Basically, you’re paying rent and a portion of the down payment every month.

The Process for Rent to Own

There are two variations to the rent-to-own lease. And there’s a major difference between them, don’t make this decision lightly.

There’s lease option agreements and lease-purchase agreements.

Although they sound like similar contracts, there is one crucial difference. When you enter a lease option agreement, it gives you the option to buy the home once your lease expires.

A lease-purchase agreement requires that you purchase the property at the end of your contract.

One gives you the option, the other forces you to buy the property. If you enter a lease-purchase agreement, you are legally required to buy the home. Only enter this agreement if you’re completely committed to going through with it.

The Benefits of Rent to Own

One of the biggest benefits of a rent to own agreement is to get breathing room with your credit score.

If your credit score is too low, you might not be able to get approved for a mortgage at all. Even if you can get a mortgage, you want a credit score that’s as high as possible. A higher score means you’ll save tens of thousands of dollars from having a lower interest rate on your mortgage..

If your score isn’t high enough, a rent-to-own agreement works in your favor. The lease gives you the time to raise your credit score before applying for a mortgage. Assuming you make all your debt payments on time, your score will be higher when your rent-to-own agreement ends than it is today.

Be careful though, taking on a mortgage is the single biggest purchase that most of us will make. If it was me, I’d wait longer, save up a down payment, and get my credit score pretty high before buying a house. I wouldn’t use rent-to-own to get a house at a lower credit score.

Another benefit of entering a rent-to-own agreement is locking down the price of your dream home. This can be extremely beneficial if it looks like the housing market is destined to increase the cost of your desired home.

The biggest benefit is that some of your rental payments go towards the down payment on a home. You’re building equity into the property before purchase. Be sure to check the math in your agreement. Your total rent will be higher than market rate and only a percentage of your total payment goes towards the down payment. If that portion is higher than the rent increase, you come out ahead. If not, you’d be better off renting and saving for a down payment like normal.

And, of course, you get to live in your home sooner. This is probably the biggest benefit. There’s a couple of situations that would benefit greatly from this:

  • You need to get into the right school district but don’t have a down payment saved up yet.
  • Unexpectedly, you need to move closer to family to help care for a relative.
  • For whatever reason, you’re forced to move and have a lifestyle or requirements that don’t work in an apartment building.

If you’re forced to move and don’t already have a downpayment for a house, rent-to-own could be a good option. It gets you into a house now and allows you to buy it later.

I particularly like the lease option agreement. I’d be able to try the house for a few years and see if it’s truly a good fit before committing to a whole mortgage. Some problems can’t be detected until you’ve lived in the house:

  • Crazy neighbors
  • A horrible HOA
  • Major repairs that weren’t picked up during the inspection
  • If it truly fits with your lifestyle

After you’ve lived in a house for awhile, you’ll know if it’s a good long-term fit.

The Problems With Rent to Own

There are some serious downsides to entering a rent-to-own lease. Many landlords, when establishing a rent-to-own contract, require their tenants to handle the property’s maintenance and repair costs. These costs can be substantial.

You might even be responsible for any HOA fees or property taxes while you’re renting the home. The landlord could also make utilities like landscaping, trash collection, or water your responsibility as well. While it’s typical for landlords to cover all this, they don’t have to if the lease agreement assigns these costs to you. Landlords can also neglect to maintain the property if the contract doesn’t define their exact responsibilities.

Even if you have the option not to buy the house, landlords are incentivized to encourage you to move. They’d keep all the extra payments and still have the option to sell the property or rent it out again.

That’s why it’s crucial to go over a rent-to-own lease with a legal professional. You never know what a landlord will include, and you want to make sure you’re able to fill your contractual obligations.

Rent-to-own agreements often consist of something called option money. This money is a one-time required payment given to the seller as a nonrefundable fee.

Paying this “option money” grants you the opportunity to buy the property. In some cases, the seller puts this payment towards the home’s equity, but there is no guarantee.

While there is no set option money amount, it’s usually a percentage of the property’s price. Many landlords require three to ten percent of the property price upfront, and then you pay an above-market rent while you live there. Doing this allows landlords to collect market rent and use the extra money towards the final price of your home.

Let’s recap all the fees:

  • Higher rent to account for a portion of it going towards a future down payment.
  • The option fee that you pay when entering the lease.
  • Possibly all maintenance, upkeep, and taxes depending on the agreement.

On top of all this, your landlord retains ownership of the property.

If anything terrible happens to your landlord, and they fail to pay the mortgage– you could lose your right to buy the house.

The potential problems don’t stop there.

Let’s say your landlord stops paying property taxes or even suffers from bankruptcy.

You could be left in the dust as your rent-to-own lease becomes null and void. You’re taking on significant risk that your higher rent payments, option fee, and maintenance costs amount to nothing.

That’s too much risk for me on the biggest purchase that I’ll ever make. I’d rather keep things super simple and wait until I can get a standard mortgage.

What happens if you decide not to buy the property, assuming you have the option in your contract?

Well, you likely forfeit all your previous payments. Rent-to-own isn’t like a normal savings account. You can’t take that down payment elsewhere. If you walk, the landlord keeps it. That could be a hefty cost for not buying the property.

Is Rent or Own Right for You?

If your credit isn’t high enough to get the mortgage that you want, I don’t recommend getting a rent-to-own lease. The fees are too high, there’s too much risk if something happens to the landlord, and there’s lots of ways for these agreements to work against you.

Too much risk and not enough benefit.

I’d only consider a rent-to-own agreement if I was forced to move, couldn’t get an apartment, and was willing to pay extra in the short term for the option to buy later.

Even then, Id try to rent a house normally first.

And I’d be paranoid about every term in the lease agreement if I did move forward with a rent-to-own lease.

That said, if the benefits outweigh the costs for you, rent-to-own is an option.

How Rent to Own Works is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

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Charlotte Awbery, Lady Gaga, A Star Is BornWe’re far from the shallow now!
A woman named Charlotte Awbery is going viral for her gorgeous rendition of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-winning song “Shallow,”…

Best Small Business Loans

I personally hate debt. Both in business and my personal life.

That said, there’s a time and a place for it. Whether it’s for startup costs, equipment, expansion, refinancing, or just some help covering operating expenses, a loan at the right time can make all the difference.

But there are hundreds, if not thousands, of places to get a small business loan. The options are overwhelming.

If your business needs money at favorable lending terms, I’ll show you the best small business loans, the different types of small business loans, and how to find the best lender for your needs.

The 10 Best Small Business Lenders

Most small business owners start their loan search at a bank. But according to Forbes, just 27.3% of small business loan applications are approved at large banks.

This is a new record high approval rate, but it’s just barely above one in four odds. I don’t like those chances. That’s why you won’t find any big banks on my list.

These ten small business lenders below are the first places I’d look if I needed a loan today.

BlueVine

BlueVine offers business loans from $5,000 to $5 million, with rates as low as 4.8%. You can get approved in just five minutes by applying online.

This lender has three different funding solutions based on the specific needs of your business:

  • Line of Credit — Borrow up to $250,000 on a revolving line and only pay for what you use. No prepayment penalties.
  • Term Loan — Lump sum of cash up to $250,000. Pay a fixed weekly rate with no origination fees.
  • Invoice Factoring — Use unpaid invoices to get a credit line up to $5 million. No long-term contracts and only fund the invoices you select.

BlueVine has helped more than 15,000 customers secure over $2 billion in funding. They have an outstanding reputation and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Kabbage

Over 200,000 small business owners trust Kabbage for their lending needs. This is one of the most popular loan solutions on the market today.

With that said, Kabbage is not for startups. There are two main requirements before you can consider applying for a loan:

  • Your business must be operating for at least one year.
  • The revenue of your business must be $4,200 per month or $50,000 per year.

Assuming you meet these qualifications, you’ll give Kabbage read-only access to your bank account so they can review the performance of your business.

Once approved, funds are available immediately. You can withdraw funds from your line of credit from any device at any time.

Kabbage offers up to $250,000 at 6, 12, or 18-month loan terms. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. You won’t be charged anything for getting approved. Only pay when you withdraw from your line of credit.

Lendio

Lendio is a bit different from some of the other options on our list. It’s a loan marketplace, so you aren’t borrowing directly from them.

There are more than 75 lenders in the Lendio network, including Chase, American Express, Kabbage, and some of the other lenders in this guide.

Just take 15 minutes to fill out an application online, and Lendio will automatically match your business with potential lenders for your needs. They’ll show you the list of loans that your company qualifies for and give you access to cash as fast as 24 hours after approval.

Since Lendio works with so many different lenders, the platform offers a wide range of small business loans:

  • Business line of credit
  • Equipment financing
  • Commercial mortgage
  • Term loans
  • Startup loans
  • Small business credit cards

Lendio has funded 73,000+ loans totaling over $1.4 billion.

Fundbox

Fundbox offers lines of credit to small business owners. To apply, simply connect Fundbox to your bank account or accounting software.

Their algorithm will give you a credit decision in just a few minutes. If approved, you’ll be able to transfer funds into your account as soon as the next business day.

One potential drawback of using Fundbox is the loan must be paid back in 12 or 24 weeks, depending on the terms you choose. So it’s not ideal if you want to borrow a lump sum and pay it back for over the next two years.

Fundbox will automatically debit weekly payments from your account, so you won’t have to worry about paying the loan back manually or forgetting to write a check.

Another interesting service offered by this lender is the ability to extend credit to your customers. If you’re a merchant that sells high-ticket items and want to give your customers the ability to buy now and pay later, Fundbox can get you paid upfront and they’ll assume responsibility for collections. You’ll just have to pay a merchant fee depending on the lending terms.

Funding Circle

Funding Circle is one of the largest and most well-established small business lenders. They’ve loaned $10.9 billion to 77,000+ business owners across the globe.

Small business owners can borrow between $25,000 and $500,000 with Funding Circle at rates as low as 4.99%. Choose repayment terms between six months and five years.

Unlike other lenders on our list, Funding Circle does charge a one-time origination fee, which costs between 3.49% and 6.99% of the loan amount. But this is really the only drawback of getting a loan from this lender, and it’s common practice for larger loans.

Fortunately, you won’t incur any prepayment penalties if you decide to repay the loan early.

I’d recommend Funding Circle for the following types of loan purposes:

  • Equipment financing
  • Purchase order financing
  • Inventory financing
  • Business expansion

It takes just six minutes to apply for a small business loan online. Once approved, you can have access to funding in as little as three business days.

Kiva

Kiva is perfect for microloans under $10,000. It’s a nonprofit crowdfunding platform offering loans at 0% interest. To qualify for a Kiva loan, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be living in the US
  • Use the loan for business purposes

While you won’t have to pay interest to borrow money from Kiva, the approval process is quite lengthy compared to other loan options on our list.

The application itself takes up to 30 minutes and the fundraising process takes another month. However, Kiva lets you repay your loan up to 36 months, which is exceptional at no interest for a small loan amount.

If you’re launching a startup and need access to smaller sums of cash, but you’re not in a rush to get it, Kiva should definitely be on your radar.

Accion

Accion is another nonprofit small business lender. For more than 25 years, they’ve delivered loans to more than 500,000 entrepreneurs across the US.

You can get a term loan from Accion for up to $250,000 at fixed interest rates as low as 7%.

The whole purpose of this nonprofit organization is to empower entrepreneurs and create jobs in their communities. They go beyond lending money by providing other business resources and guidance to business owners. Every borrower is matched with a dedicated loan expert to guide them through the entire process.

Accion lends money to:

  • Business owned by women
  • Minority-owned businesses
  • Businesses owned by veterans
  • Businesses owned by people with disabilities
  • Small business owners
  • Companies “going green”
  • Startups
  • Food and beverage businesses

The application process is simple and straightforward. Apply online in just 15 minutes.

OnDeck

OnDeck has loaned $12+ billion to businesses throughout the world. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and a 4.9/5 star rating on Trustpilot.

There are two types of loans you can get from OnDeck:

  • Line of credit from $6,000 to $100,000 with rates starting at 10.99% APR.
  • Term loans from $5,000 to $500,000 with rates starting at 11.9% APR.

OnDeck serves more than 700 industries, but it does have some industry restrictions. For example, they won’t loan money to drug dispensaries, firearms vendors, casinos, adult entertainment companies, nonprofits, and a handful of other high-risk businesses.

There are also minimum requirements you must meet before applying for a loan with OnDeck.

  • Business must be operating for at least one year.
  • Personal credit score of at least 600.
  • Business annual revenue of $100,000.
  • Need to have a business bank account.

With that said, OnDeck says their typical customers have been in business for more than three years, generate $300,000+ in annual revenue, and have a personal credit score of at least 650. So meeting the bare minimum requirements might not be enough to get favorable loan terms.

StreetShares

StreetShares offers business loans up to $250,000. This lending service lets you borrow money from a network of nearly 70,000 members and investors. They provide:

  • Unsecured business loans
  • Secured business loans
  • Veteran business loans
  • Business lines of credit
  • Short term loans
  • Inventory financing
  • Equipment financing
  • Merchant cash advance loans
  • Working capital loans

StreetShares has a reputation for funding veteran-owned businesses. However, you don’t have to be a veteran or have any affiliation with a veteran to apply for a loan.

Loan terms range from 3-36 months. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and takes less than ten minutes to fill out a form online. Alternatively, you can call StreetShares, and they’ll walk you through the process over the phone.

Currency

Currency specializes in equipment loans and working capital loans. They offer various funding options and loans up to $500,000. You can get flexible loan terms up to 72 months.

Currency doesn’t charge prepayment penalties and even has some 0% interest programs for eligible businesses.

In addition to the loan options, Currency also provides payment processing solutions for large ticket items. They specialize in processing transactions over $10,000.

So if you’re in need of a loan and a new high-ticket payment processor, you can potentially get both from the same provider.

Currency’s loan process is very fast. You can apply and get funded within minutes.

Types of Small Business Loans

There are several types of business loans that can be used for different purposes. The type of loan you get will also impact your interest rates, payback period, and other term details.

Here’s a quick overview of the different ways to get a small business loan:

  • Business line of credit — Lenders approve you for a revolving line of credit (similar to a credit card). You’ll be charged interest only on the amount you borrow, as opposed to the maximum limit of your credit line. A business line of credit can be used for any business-related needs.
  • Term loans — Get a lump sum of cash for a fixed term and repayment amount. Each payment covers both the principal and interest of the loan.
  • Equipment loans — As the name implies, these loans must be used to finance equipment purchased by your business. In many cases, a down payment will be required, and the equipment will serve as collateral against the money you borrow.
  • Invoice financing — Also known as invoice factoring. Best for businesses struggling with cash flow because of unpaid invoices. You can sell portions of outstanding invoices to lenders at a discount for a fee based on the percentage of the invoice, plus interest on the cash received in advance.
  • Merchant cash advance — Lenders provide your business with a lump sum of cash in exchange for a percentage of future sales. You’ll pay back the loan, plus fees, with debit and credit card sales on a daily or weekly basis. These loans typically have high interest rates.
  • SBA loan guarantee — SBA-backed loans are offered by commercial lenders approved by the Small Business Administration (a government agency). The SBA guarantees 85% of loans up to $150,000 and 75% of loans higher than that amount. This reduces the risk to lenders, so the borrower can get favorable lending terms.
  • Real estate loans — These are usually long-term and fixed-rate financing for real estate projects and equipment. Funds can be used to purchase land, buildings, machines, construction projects, or renovations.
  • Franchise loans — For business owners who want to purchase or expand a franchise. You can use the funds to pay for things like franchise fees, operating expenses, and marketing costs.
  • Business credit cards — Just like a personal credit card, a business credit card is a great way to pay for everyday expenses on credit. The approval process is quick, and you can get multiple credit cards from different financial institutions.

How to Choose The Best Small Business Lender

With so many options to choose from, finding the best small business lender for your needs can be challenging. This is the methodology that we used to decide which business lender is the best.

Type of Lender

These are the different places you can get a small business loan:

  • Banks and credit unions — In most cases, banks loan money to large and well-established businesses. That’s why such a large portion of small business loans get rejected. But if you have an existing relationship with a bank, you can start your search here. This is the best way to get an SBA-backed loan.
  • Direct lenders — A direct lender funds your loan without a middleman. So there’s no broker, private equity firm, or investment bank involved in the loan. You’ll borrow money directly (hence the name) from a direct lender.
  • Alternative lenders — An alternative lender can usually offer more flexible terms compared to large national banks. That’s because there are fewer restrictions and less regulations on the types of loans they can offer.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders — Online P2P lending connects business owners with investors. The loan amount of your small business loan will usually be divided among multiple investors in the P2P lending network. P2P financing poses a greater risk for lenders, so interest rates are generally higher.

Assess the different lender types to see what you’re most comfortable with, and what you’ll qualify for.

Loan Amount

The funding amount you’re seeking will have a significant impact on the lender you choose.

Some lenders only offer microloans of up to $10,000, while other lenders will give small business owners loans of up to $500,000 or $5 million.

Make sure you find a lender that can fund the loan amount you need.

Loan Type

All lenders do not offer every single loan type.

One lender might offer equipment financing, but that’s useless to you if you need the money to buy inventory or pay for operating expenses.

Lenders that offer business lines of credit will usually be your best option. You can use a line of credit for anything, and you only have to pay interest on the amount you borrow.

Qualification Terms

Most lenders will require specific qualification terms to accept an application. Depending on the lender, some of these terms are stricter than others.

In most cases, qualification terms include:

  • Minimum length of time in business (usually one year).
  • Minimum personal credit score.
  • Minimum annual or monthly revenue.
  • Age requirements.
  • Residency requirements.

Always check the qualification terms before you apply for a loan. Some lenders will require “read-only” access to your bank account to verify your business history.

Application Process and Funding Time

The application process varies by lender. Some online forms can be filled out in just a few minutes, while others will take about half an hour.

Once your application has been completed, how long will it take for you to get approved? In some cases, lenders give you an approval answer immediately, with access to funds in less than 24 hours. Other lenders have a more lengthy approval process.

For me, waiting a few days to get money isn’t a big deal if it means getting the loan I need at terms I’m comfortable with. But if you’re in a jam and need financing ASAP, you’ll need to find a lender that can accommodate you.

Interest Rates

Always shop around for the best interest rate. Loan terms will vary significantly based on the lender, loan type, your qualification terms, and the loan amount.

There are some 0% interest rate options out there, but usually, rates range from 7% to 39%.

BlueVine has interest rates as low as 4.8%, but you’ll need to have exceptional credit to qualify for those terms.

If you don’t need a loan right away, it’s worth waiting if you can improve your credit score to get favorable financing terms. The difference between paying 11% interest and 5% interest is enormous, especially for larger loans.

Don’t rush this process. It’s worth taking the time to find the best lender and loan type for your small business needs.

Best Small Business Loans is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Best Small Business Loans

I personally hate debt. Both in business and my personal life.

That said, there’s a time and a place for it. Whether it’s for startup costs, equipment, expansion, refinancing, or just some help covering operating expenses, a loan at the right time can make all the difference.

But there are hundreds, if not thousands, of places to get a small business loan. The options are overwhelming.

If your business needs money at favorable lending terms, I’ll show you the best small business loans, the different types of small business loans, and how to find the best lender for your needs.

The 10 Best Small Business Lenders

Most small business owners start their loan search at a bank. But according to Forbes, just 27.3% of small business loan applications are approved at large banks.

This is a new record high approval rate, but it’s just barely above one in four odds. I don’t like those chances. That’s why you won’t find any big banks on my list.

These ten small business lenders below are the first places I’d look if I needed a loan today.

BlueVine

BlueVine offers business loans from $5,000 to $5 million, with rates as low as 4.8%. You can get approved in just five minutes by applying online.

This lender has three different funding solutions based on the specific needs of your business:

  • Line of Credit — Borrow up to $250,000 on a revolving line and only pay for what you use. No prepayment penalties.
  • Term Loan — Lump sum of cash up to $250,000. Pay a fixed weekly rate with no origination fees.
  • Invoice Factoring — Use unpaid invoices to get a credit line up to $5 million. No long-term contracts and only fund the invoices you select.

BlueVine has helped more than 15,000 customers secure over $2 billion in funding. They have an outstanding reputation and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Kabbage

Over 200,000 small business owners trust Kabbage for their lending needs. This is one of the most popular loan solutions on the market today.

With that said, Kabbage is not for startups. There are two main requirements before you can consider applying for a loan:

  • Your business must be operating for at least one year.
  • The revenue of your business must be $4,200 per month or $50,000 per year.

Assuming you meet these qualifications, you’ll give Kabbage read-only access to your bank account so they can review the performance of your business.

Once approved, funds are available immediately. You can withdraw funds from your line of credit from any device at any time.

Kabbage offers up to $250,000 at 6, 12, or 18-month loan terms. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. You won’t be charged anything for getting approved. Only pay when you withdraw from your line of credit.

Lendio

Lendio is a bit different from some of the other options on our list. It’s a loan marketplace, so you aren’t borrowing directly from them.

There are more than 75 lenders in the Lendio network, including Chase, American Express, Kabbage, and some of the other lenders in this guide.

Just take 15 minutes to fill out an application online, and Lendio will automatically match your business with potential lenders for your needs. They’ll show you the list of loans that your company qualifies for and give you access to cash as fast as 24 hours after approval.

Since Lendio works with so many different lenders, the platform offers a wide range of small business loans:

  • Business line of credit
  • Equipment financing
  • Commercial mortgage
  • Term loans
  • Startup loans
  • Small business credit cards

Lendio has funded 73,000+ loans totaling over $1.4 billion.

Fundbox

Fundbox offers lines of credit to small business owners. To apply, simply connect Fundbox to your bank account or accounting software.

Their algorithm will give you a credit decision in just a few minutes. If approved, you’ll be able to transfer funds into your account as soon as the next business day.

One potential drawback of using Fundbox is the loan must be paid back in 12 or 24 weeks, depending on the terms you choose. So it’s not ideal if you want to borrow a lump sum and pay it back for over the next two years.

Fundbox will automatically debit weekly payments from your account, so you won’t have to worry about paying the loan back manually or forgetting to write a check.

Another interesting service offered by this lender is the ability to extend credit to your customers. If you’re a merchant that sells high-ticket items and want to give your customers the ability to buy now and pay later, Fundbox can get you paid upfront and they’ll assume responsibility for collections. You’ll just have to pay a merchant fee depending on the lending terms.

Funding Circle

Funding Circle is one of the largest and most well-established small business lenders. They’ve loaned $10.9 billion to 77,000+ business owners across the globe.

Small business owners can borrow between $25,000 and $500,000 with Funding Circle at rates as low as 4.99%. Choose repayment terms between six months and five years.

Unlike other lenders on our list, Funding Circle does charge a one-time origination fee, which costs between 3.49% and 6.99% of the loan amount. But this is really the only drawback of getting a loan from this lender, and it’s common practice for larger loans.

Fortunately, you won’t incur any prepayment penalties if you decide to repay the loan early.

I’d recommend Funding Circle for the following types of loan purposes:

  • Equipment financing
  • Purchase order financing
  • Inventory financing
  • Business expansion

It takes just six minutes to apply for a small business loan online. Once approved, you can have access to funding in as little as three business days.

Kiva

Kiva is perfect for microloans under $10,000. It’s a nonprofit crowdfunding platform offering loans at 0% interest. To qualify for a Kiva loan, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be living in the US
  • Use the loan for business purposes

While you won’t have to pay interest to borrow money from Kiva, the approval process is quite lengthy compared to other loan options on our list.

The application itself takes up to 30 minutes and the fundraising process takes another month. However, Kiva lets you repay your loan up to 36 months, which is exceptional at no interest for a small loan amount.

If you’re launching a startup and need access to smaller sums of cash, but you’re not in a rush to get it, Kiva should definitely be on your radar.

Accion

Accion is another nonprofit small business lender. For more than 25 years, they’ve delivered loans to more than 500,000 entrepreneurs across the US.

You can get a term loan from Accion for up to $250,000 at fixed interest rates as low as 7%.

The whole purpose of this nonprofit organization is to empower entrepreneurs and create jobs in their communities. They go beyond lending money by providing other business resources and guidance to business owners. Every borrower is matched with a dedicated loan expert to guide them through the entire process.

Accion lends money to:

  • Business owned by women
  • Minority-owned businesses
  • Businesses owned by veterans
  • Businesses owned by people with disabilities
  • Small business owners
  • Companies “going green”
  • Startups
  • Food and beverage businesses

The application process is simple and straightforward. Apply online in just 15 minutes.

OnDeck

OnDeck has loaned $12+ billion to businesses throughout the world. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and a 4.9/5 star rating on Trustpilot.

There are two types of loans you can get from OnDeck:

  • Line of credit from $6,000 to $100,000 with rates starting at 10.99% APR.
  • Term loans from $5,000 to $500,000 with rates starting at 11.9% APR.

OnDeck serves more than 700 industries, but it does have some industry restrictions. For example, they won’t loan money to drug dispensaries, firearms vendors, casinos, adult entertainment companies, nonprofits, and a handful of other high-risk businesses.

There are also minimum requirements you must meet before applying for a loan with OnDeck.

  • Business must be operating for at least one year.
  • Personal credit score of at least 600.
  • Business annual revenue of $100,000.
  • Need to have a business bank account.

With that said, OnDeck says their typical customers have been in business for more than three years, generate $300,000+ in annual revenue, and have a personal credit score of at least 650. So meeting the bare minimum requirements might not be enough to get favorable loan terms.

StreetShares

StreetShares offers business loans up to $250,000. This lending service lets you borrow money from a network of nearly 70,000 members and investors. They provide:

  • Unsecured business loans
  • Secured business loans
  • Veteran business loans
  • Business lines of credit
  • Short term loans
  • Inventory financing
  • Equipment financing
  • Merchant cash advance loans
  • Working capital loans

StreetShares has a reputation for funding veteran-owned businesses. However, you don’t have to be a veteran or have any affiliation with a veteran to apply for a loan.

Loan terms range from 3-36 months. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and takes less than ten minutes to fill out a form online. Alternatively, you can call StreetShares, and they’ll walk you through the process over the phone.

Currency

Currency specializes in equipment loans and working capital loans. They offer various funding options and loans up to $500,000. You can get flexible loan terms up to 72 months.

Currency doesn’t charge prepayment penalties and even has some 0% interest programs for eligible businesses.

In addition to the loan options, Currency also provides payment processing solutions for large ticket items. They specialize in processing transactions over $10,000.

So if you’re in need of a loan and a new high-ticket payment processor, you can potentially get both from the same provider.

Currency’s loan process is very fast. You can apply and get funded within minutes.

Types of Small Business Loans

There are several types of business loans that can be used for different purposes. The type of loan you get will also impact your interest rates, payback period, and other term details.

Here’s a quick overview of the different ways to get a small business loan:

  • Business line of credit — Lenders approve you for a revolving line of credit (similar to a credit card). You’ll be charged interest only on the amount you borrow, as opposed to the maximum limit of your credit line. A business line of credit can be used for any business-related needs.
  • Term loans — Get a lump sum of cash for a fixed term and repayment amount. Each payment covers both the principal and interest of the loan.
  • Equipment loans — As the name implies, these loans must be used to finance equipment purchased by your business. In many cases, a down payment will be required, and the equipment will serve as collateral against the money you borrow.
  • Invoice financing — Also known as invoice factoring. Best for businesses struggling with cash flow because of unpaid invoices. You can sell portions of outstanding invoices to lenders at a discount for a fee based on the percentage of the invoice, plus interest on the cash received in advance.
  • Merchant cash advance — Lenders provide your business with a lump sum of cash in exchange for a percentage of future sales. You’ll pay back the loan, plus fees, with debit and credit card sales on a daily or weekly basis. These loans typically have high interest rates.
  • SBA loan guarantee — SBA-backed loans are offered by commercial lenders approved by the Small Business Administration (a government agency). The SBA guarantees 85% of loans up to $150,000 and 75% of loans higher than that amount. This reduces the risk to lenders, so the borrower can get favorable lending terms.
  • Real estate loans — These are usually long-term and fixed-rate financing for real estate projects and equipment. Funds can be used to purchase land, buildings, machines, construction projects, or renovations.
  • Franchise loans — For business owners who want to purchase or expand a franchise. You can use the funds to pay for things like franchise fees, operating expenses, and marketing costs.
  • Business credit cards — Just like a personal credit card, a business credit card is a great way to pay for everyday expenses on credit. The approval process is quick, and you can get multiple credit cards from different financial institutions.

How to Choose The Best Small Business Lender

With so many options to choose from, finding the best small business lender for your needs can be challenging. This is the methodology that we used to decide which business lender is the best.

Type of Lender

These are the different places you can get a small business loan:

  • Banks and credit unions — In most cases, banks loan money to large and well-established businesses. That’s why such a large portion of small business loans get rejected. But if you have an existing relationship with a bank, you can start your search here. This is the best way to get an SBA-backed loan.
  • Direct lenders — A direct lender funds your loan without a middleman. So there’s no broker, private equity firm, or investment bank involved in the loan. You’ll borrow money directly (hence the name) from a direct lender.
  • Alternative lenders — An alternative lender can usually offer more flexible terms compared to large national banks. That’s because there are fewer restrictions and less regulations on the types of loans they can offer.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders — Online P2P lending connects business owners with investors. The loan amount of your small business loan will usually be divided among multiple investors in the P2P lending network. P2P financing poses a greater risk for lenders, so interest rates are generally higher.

Assess the different lender types to see what you’re most comfortable with, and what you’ll qualify for.

Loan Amount

The funding amount you’re seeking will have a significant impact on the lender you choose.

Some lenders only offer microloans of up to $10,000, while other lenders will give small business owners loans of up to $500,000 or $5 million.

Make sure you find a lender that can fund the loan amount you need.

Loan Type

All lenders do not offer every single loan type.

One lender might offer equipment financing, but that’s useless to you if you need the money to buy inventory or pay for operating expenses.

Lenders that offer business lines of credit will usually be your best option. You can use a line of credit for anything, and you only have to pay interest on the amount you borrow.

Qualification Terms

Most lenders will require specific qualification terms to accept an application. Depending on the lender, some of these terms are stricter than others.

In most cases, qualification terms include:

  • Minimum length of time in business (usually one year).
  • Minimum personal credit score.
  • Minimum annual or monthly revenue.
  • Age requirements.
  • Residency requirements.

Always check the qualification terms before you apply for a loan. Some lenders will require “read-only” access to your bank account to verify your business history.

Application Process and Funding Time

The application process varies by lender. Some online forms can be filled out in just a few minutes, while others will take about half an hour.

Once your application has been completed, how long will it take for you to get approved? In some cases, lenders give you an approval answer immediately, with access to funds in less than 24 hours. Other lenders have a more lengthy approval process.

For me, waiting a few days to get money isn’t a big deal if it means getting the loan I need at terms I’m comfortable with. But if you’re in a jam and need financing ASAP, you’ll need to find a lender that can accommodate you.

Interest Rates

Always shop around for the best interest rate. Loan terms will vary significantly based on the lender, loan type, your qualification terms, and the loan amount.

There are some 0% interest rate options out there, but usually, rates range from 7% to 39%.

BlueVine has interest rates as low as 4.8%, but you’ll need to have exceptional credit to qualify for those terms.

If you don’t need a loan right away, it’s worth waiting if you can improve your credit score to get favorable financing terms. The difference between paying 11% interest and 5% interest is enormous, especially for larger loans.

Don’t rush this process. It’s worth taking the time to find the best lender and loan type for your small business needs.

Best Small Business Loans is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

When Is Debt Good? 4 Life Events When It’s OK to Owe

Debt is typically considered a four-letter word when it comes to personal finance. 

But there are moments when going into debt can be a good idea.

How?

It depends on a few factors, including the interest rate you’re paying on the debt.

If you have a debt that you’re paying 5% interest on, many financial experts advise that you could earn more by investing the money rather than use it to pay off the debt. Note: You should still make your regular payments — we’re talking about the additional money you’d use to pay off a debt faster.

And yes, there are plenty of life events for which you should not go into debt, but there are good reasons to go into debt — and ways to keep from going too far. Here’s what you need to know.

4 Life Events It’s OK to Go Into Debt For

Here are four life events when debt might not only be necessary but a good thing.

1. When You Take Out a Mortgage

If you have a quarter of a million dollars in cash hiding under your couch cushions, by all means pay for a house in cash. (Also, your couch must be incredibly uncomfortable.)

If you don’t have that kind of spare money, you’re like most home buyers, who have to take out a loan to pay for the bulk of their purchase.

And as scary as a six-figure debt can be, repeat after me: Real estate is an investment.

Why does that matter? Because buying a house isn’t like paying for a vacation, furniture or even a car — it typically appreciates in value rather than depreciates. So over time, real estate will be worth more than what you paid for it (probably — all investments come with risks, you know).

Pro Tip

If you’re ready to buy a home but aren’t sure where to start, check out The Penny Hoarder Academy course Homebuying 101.

Additionally, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped to 3.45% as of Feb. 6, 2020. At that rate, you could potentially earn twice as much by putting additional money toward an investment vehicle like an IRA or 401(k) rather than paying down your mortgage.

A new home is a major investment, and that means any loan you take out for it is a major commitment as well. To avoid getting in over your head on a mortgage, you should figure out realistically how much house you can afford based on your budget, income and ownership costs. 

2. When You Start a Business

If you want to make money, you need to have money (said the rich person to the poor entrepreneur).

Starting your own business often requires upfront capital to get operations going. But if you don’t have a stash of cash to fund your venture, your business could fail before it has a chance to thrive.

And if you choose to empty your savings or use credit cards to fund your business, you could end up in more debt than if you took out a small business loan with a lower interest rate.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a program to help business people get financing after they demonstrate success for a few years. Then, if your business fails to pay back the loan, the government will pay the lender.

If you’re still not sure about loans to start your business, consider using multiple funding sources — we have 11 ways to help you get small business financing.

FROM THE DEBT FORUM

3. When You Enroll in College

Ideally, you wouldn’t need loans at all to go to college. You and your parents would spend your childhood saving for college and supplementing that with scholarships, so you’d leave school debt-free. 

And maybe you’ll do that.

But remember that a college education is still a fairly solid investment in your future — the Federal Reserve noted the average rate of return for a bachelor’s degree in 2019 remained high at around 14% — a solid return if you consider direct federal student loans offered a fixed interest rate of less than 5%.

And if you’re coming up short and you have the skills and dedication to succeed, student loans don’t have to be evil. 

Pro Tip

Check out these five strategies for avoiding student loan debt before you get your diploma, no matter where you go to college or what your major is.

The key to avoid becoming a statistic — you know, like joining those holding $1.48 trillion in student loan debt — is to avoid unnecessary student loans.

You can start by being realistic about your options — the College Scorecard allows you to customize a search by potential debt compared to earnings based on their field of study and institution.

But also consider loans the last funding option for college — check out these eight ways to pay for your own education without student loans.

4. When You Need Medical Care

We have ways to save on medical costs and to figure out what to do if you can’t afford your medical bill. But in the end, this is your health.

If you don’t pay for medically necessary treatment because you can’t afford it now, you’ll likely end up paying more for a pricier treatment later — or worse.

And here’s the thing: Unlike your mortgage lender or credit card company, your doctor or hospital almost certainly doesn’t regularly report missed medical payments to the credit bureaus. That means that unless your medical debt becomes delinquent, it won’t affect your credit score.

During an emergency, it can be tough to make a financially savvy decision, but if at all possible, avoid these mistakes when it comes to dealing with medical debt:

  1. Paying your bill with a credit card (especially a medical credit card)
  2. Consolidating your medical bills
  3. Taking money from your retirement plan

If you can negotiate prices or ask about financial assistance programs instead, you’ll be able to recover from a medical debt more quickly and with less financial stress.

Just a friendly reminder that this article is not a free pass for going into debt. Anything you put on a credit card is going to result in an interest rate that will leave you paying for an impulse purchase long after you forgot why you absolutely had to have it.   

But if you utilize debt in a way that lets you grow your money in the long term, a dip into debt could really be worth the trouble. 

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Interview with Rachel Uwa, founder of the School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe

The School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe has recently announced its programme of workshops, trips, scholarship and classes (PDF) for 2020. This year, the school will be looking at drones as a means to investigate concepts of borders, history, politics and human experience; Smell as another way to engage in storytelling; Sensual Technologies that delve into embodiment, desire and the senses; Ethics, AI and the potential of data to disrupt larger systems; there’s also a Made In China program taking place in Shenzhen and focusing on the creative exploration of digital fabrication and IoT. And much more.

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The Berlin-based School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe works with renowned artists, hackers, designers and other creators to teach and explore art, technology, design and human connection. Students learn new skills, manipulate new tools but they also get to inquire the political and human dimensions of technology.

I’ve been involved with the school a couple of times and each time i was amazed by the range of seriously interesting people i met there. The teachers but also the thinkers and tinkerers who attended as students. In my experience, the courses always end up taking the form of an energising exchange between people who have different backgrounds and competences. Another aspect that makes the school so appealing is that it is constantly shifting focus depending on the tech issues and tools that feel most urgent and meaningful at the moment.

I’m not paid to write these lines by the way, i’m just genuinely impressed by the School’s ethos and dynamics.

School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe was founded by Rachel Uwa. Rachel is an artist, educator and organiser with a background in audio engineering and VFX compositing. She’s also the editor of the art/tech zine ¡MEOW! I talked with her during the Winter break:

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Hi Rachel! You’re the face and founder of the School of Machines, Making and Make-Believe. Does it mean that you’re the one deciding the type of topics and technologies the courses are going to engage with? What guides the themes of the courses and workshops? Is it technology, requests from students, makers and thinkers? Something else?

Humans and society guide the themes of the school more than anything. Each year I look around at the current state of things and ask, Where are we humans at on the whole? Where are we missing the mark and what feels important for us to know now?

I don’t believe in embracing technology because we can but rather in questioning it and its purpose in our lives.

Some years ago I used to wake up and only seconds after reach for my phone. Then our alcoholic neighbour burned down his flat and we didn’t have internet for a year and a half because the fire burned through the cables. Needless to say, I was forced to reevaluate my relationship to this technology.

This is my approach to it, using technology as a tool that helps us to question the world we live in and ourselves.

So I design educational programs to do just that.

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I love the title of the school. Why Make-Believe? What does the concept brings to the spirit and image of the school?

For me, Make-Believe has always been about imagining a world that doesn’t exist and pretending it’s so for reasons of play (fun), experimenting with what could be (future), and simply survival. These are all super important and underrated life skills that as much as possible I try and bring to the fore.

It’s the kind of education I would love to have had— a gentle and metaphorical approach to dealing with ourselves by putting the focus on something much easier to deal with— technology.

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Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the school is that you make it a priority to work with women and persons from under-represented communities. I wish it wasn’t that ground-breaking to operate this way in the 21st century. And yet, things are moving very slowly it seems. But maybe i’m wrong? Do you feel that the whole tech & creativity world is finally waking up to the facts that talents don’t have to be white and male?

I used to work in audio, then visual effects before getting into the code and tech world. At the time, in each of these fields, there were almost no women to speak of. I’ve always been a person who made it a point to start the women in— audio, tech, etc. group to try and change that.

Looking around now, the situation appears much improved. But not everywhere. I hear often from women in Eastern Europe for example that it’s still a struggle to be taken seriously and it is not isolated to that part of the world only.

One of the things I also see is a lack of confidence in under-represented people in tech (understandably so), so helping people build up confidence to even ask for a seat at the table is another priority for me.

Of course, men always receive more attention even still, let’s be honest.

So we tackle each of these aspects and keep up the good fight until it’s better everywhere. In the end, it’s everyones responsibility to improve this situation, to do better. Even white men!

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The school was born in 2014. I actually thought it was created earlier given how much it has accomplished in such a short amount of time. What are the moments, achievements you’re particularly proud of? 

To still be alive, surviving and constantly evolving is right up there on my list of achievements. I see so many organisations shut down operations. Without any institutional support it’s really a tough world out here.

I also feel proud about having run programs and workshops in other countries which I’ve been doing for several years. Thus far we’ve been in Italy, Serbia, Spain, China and Ireland. It’s immersive learning on all fronts— via culture, technology, community, ourselves. I hope to add more countries to the list soon.

The School offers many courses to learn about IoT, VR, data viz, drones, AI, etc. Which sounds very tech-driven but how does the school address a more systemic critique of tech and challenge western-centric notions of progress and innovations?

As I tried to allude to earlier, yes, we run workshops on technology but it’s not to fully embrace it; the first step is always to question it.

How does this technology make our lives easier? How is this technology used against us? In what ways can we use this technology to express who we are and what we care about (because it matters)?

Last year I was part of a think tank where one guy stood up and was like, “I don’t agree with this idea about diversity in the workplace. I don’t see race or gender.” After being annoyed because he was actually referring to my comment about the lack of diversity the day before, I realised he did have a point.

In the workplace people mute who they are and what they care about because that’s the culture. So you can look around at a group of diverse people and not necessarily see any diversity. I believe that self-suppression, which is very much a part of corporate culture, is doing way more harm than good, giving the false impression that diversity brings nothing to the table. I hope slowly this will start to change.

Of course, I address all these kinds of things and more in each of our programs. These are the fundamentals.

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This is going to sound super cheesy but i’ve always admired your maverick and daring attitude. You didn’t chose an easy path. An US citizen alone in Berlin builds up her own school from scratch. Would you do things differently if you had to do it all over again?

Well, first of all, Régine, thank you. You know I feel the same way about you! To answer the question, I think living through painful shit makes you a survivor. Of course, I don’t wish a hard life on anybody. But I do believe if we have lived through something, in childhood or onwards, sometimes we can use the injustice of our world to fuel our courage.

That said, while I don’t have a problem with courage, I do have a problem asking for help. So I’m starting to learn better how to navigate that world of asking for what I need because I finally understand what I need. It can feel so awkward and difficult. If you’re a person who’s received such an email from me, well, now you know, I’m still learning!

And yet communication is one of those all-important skills we need for survival.

I’ve been watching some Tupac and Biggie documentaries lately and from what I can tell, it seems if only they’d had a chance to really talk, the story of their lives could have played out so differently! So I think regardless of how it feels, it’s worth it to keep at it, to keep trying to improve communication until the end.

And on the other hand, what are the advantages of throwing yourself at a project with a lot of audacity and independence but not a lot of financial backing?

Lots of people have ideas but don’t make progress because all they see are the obstacles: I need money, I need a developer, I need fill-in-the-blank. Having an alternative mindset is imperative to a life of making things happen. Would I like funding and financial support? Yes, and if someone reading this would like to give it to me, please get in touch!

But I’ve been running the school for five years, designing over 27+ four-week, full-time programs with hundreds of brilliant students and instructors from over 52 countries and I am a better person for it. So I recommend to anyone, move forward on ideas that are important whatever it takes and allow these experiences to change and guide you.

Have you ever been tempted to set up the school back in the US?

I’ve definitely had ideas about running programs in a few states specific to organisations and people I’d like to work with. But there are so many fascinating people and places in the world that in comparison the US feels kind of limiting. I’m not opposed to it. But it’s not at the forefront of my mind just yet.

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Can you take us through the 2020 programme of the school?

Sure! Well, overall it has to do with this idea that if we want better societies we have to become better people.

So what does it mean to become a better person? I’m suggesting that we start off by becoming the greatest observers of ourselves and our own human needs and experiences, because if we want to know others it starts with knowing ourselves. It’s not the whole story, mind you, but it’s a brave start.

So 2020 classes are all aimed in that direction and are about exploring human experience through play and technology— our senses (Smell, Crafting Food Experiences), our bodies (Sensual Tech), nature (Nature, Generative Art & Machine Learning), our ability to tell intriguing stories and change minds (Transmedia Storytelling), the messages we convey when taking art out of the gallery and into public space (Interactive Berlin), our data and our selves (Ethics, AI and Data) and finally ever-growing in importance, our relationships to other cultures and to machines (Made In China II, Drones, Physical Machines).

My curriculum is my art! Haha. In part, anyway.

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Any other ambitions, projects and wishes for the future of the SoMM&MB?

Always! I’m working on— documentation of the first five years, more online classes, a symposium on designing better societies, more collaborations with humans and institutions I believe in, consultancy in education design, more pancake society events and ¡MEOW! zines, expanding to other countries and holding classes in languages other than English—for a start. And finally securing some funding! After all these years and all this work, I think we deserve it!

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Thanks Rachel!

Early program applications and hardship scholarship applications are currently being accepted. Deadline to apply for either of these is 26 January 2020. Early program applicants will be eligible to receive a 20% reduced fee if they are accepted.

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The United℠ Explorer Credit Card Review

The is a highly practical choice if you’re interested in getting an airline credit card. It offers extensive travel perks that will benefit both frequent and occasional travelers alike, including a free checked bag, priority boarding and protection for trip delays or lost baggage. The United℠ Explorer Card also uses the Visa payment network, so it’s widely accepted wherever you go. Plus, you won’t be charged foreign exchange fees when using it abroad.

United boasts a comprehensive domestic and international route network, serving more than 300 airports across 48 countries in total. With this card, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use your rewards, regardless of whether you tend to travel within the U.S. or around the world. So, what’s the catch? The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but this is waived in the first year.

What we like about the United Explorer Card

  • Promising rewards rate: You get 2x miles per dollar on United purchases, restaurants and hotels. While many airlines offer 2x miles for airline purchases, there aren’t many that offer the same rate for spending at restaurants and hotels.
  • Long list of travel perks: Cardholders are also entitled to 25% back on in-flight United purchases, two United Club passes per year, a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ ® credit every four years, no blackout dates, collision damage waiver on eligible car rental and upgrades at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
  • Shop confidently with a 12-month extended warranty and purchase protection for 120 days against theft or damage.

Things to consider

  • Annual fee: At $95 per year (waived first year), you’ll need to travel often enough to compensate for the annual fee.
  • No intro APR period: This card doesn’t offer an interest-free period for purchases and balance transfers, although many travel credit cards on the market do.
  • High rewards tied to United Airlines: Although you can redeem miles for things like Apple products, merchandise and gift cards, you get the best redemption value when you redeem for United flights. It’s best to fly with United when using this card to fully utilize your rewards.

Travel rewards details

To earn miles, simply use your when making purchases to be awarded 1x mile per dollar spent at the end of each billing period. You’ll earn 2x miles for spending at restaurants and hotels that you book directly. You’ll also get 2x miles for United purchases such as flights, in-flight purchases and Wi-Fi.

There are different redemption options, but the overall process to redeem your miles is easy. Use your miles to make your vacation more enjoyable with flight upgrades, hotel stays or car rentals. You can also redeem your miles for merchandise, gift cards or event tickets, but the redemption value varies with each option.

To make the most of your United℠ Explorer Card and take advantage of the travel perks, you should fly with United. For example, you can have your first bag checked in for free. And at a cost of $30 per bag, you save $60 per round trip.

Fee details

Apart from the $95 annual fee (waived first year), you can expect a late payment fee of up to $39, a returned payment fee of up to $39 and a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% (whichever is greater). But you won’t have to pay any foreign transaction fees.

How does it compare to other airline credit cards?

The is a fantastic option if you enjoy dining out and can fly at least once or twice a year to enjoy the perks that come with the card. If you prefer a card with no annual fee, then the also offers 2x miles spent on restaurants worldwide and purchases from United. The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card also has no annual fee, offers 2x miles on grocery purchases and uses the widely accepted Mastercard network.

Card Ongoing Purchase APR Annual Fee Intro Bonus Credit Needed Key features
17.99% – 24.99% Variable $0 Intro for First Year, then $95 Limited-time offer! Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. Excellent 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
17.24% – 26.24% Variable (See Rates & Fees) $0 (See Rates & Fees) 15,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Expires 4/1/2020. Terms Apply. Excellent Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide, 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card $0 17.49% – 26.49% (Variable) 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening Good to excellent 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services, 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

The bottom line

As long as you fly with United every now and then, the should be worth the annual fee. While there are better rewards rates with other travel cards, the travel benefits with the United℠ Explorer Card makes it a promising choice.

For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, please click here.

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser’s page for terms & conditions.

The post The United℠ Explorer Credit Card Review appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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