The rising value of real estate and new methods of financing are becoming exciting.

The rise of real estate and alternative methods of financing has given rise to a new possibility of investment. Crowdfunding has been climbing the ladders of popularity for sometime now and the recent rage in investment, especially when one can get in on it for as little as one can possibly imagine. The upsides are of course minimum investment involved, transparency and accessibility. However, it comes with its own share of risks too, like all other modes of investment. Here are some basic guidelines to understand the hows of budget investing through crowdfunds.

What Is Crowdfunding?
It is a specific way of raising capital through friends, acquaintances and other investors who want to invest in diverse sectors. Both accredited and non-accredited investors can find themselves as part of this otherwise niche area of investment. Crowdfunding is mostly made popular through social media and other public forums where even those without any ties to the industry can invest in property.

Minimum Investment
The most alluring part of purchasing property through crowdfunding is the minimum investment involved. The minimum limit for investment of course varies from platform to platform, but some platforms have an official investment limit for as little as £10 which makes it an exciting deal for those looking to invest across diverse sectors or even just the prospect of owning property.

How To Raise Capital
There are a number of platforms for real estate crowdfunding. Do your research and pick your best fit. After you narrow down on your platform, you have to submit your application, which will be then reviewed. If your application is approved, then the next step for you is to attract investors for the project, work towards raising a capital and then get the approval for funding. It might be worth remembering that it could take up to five working days for the funds to clear.

Study The Risks Carefully
Do a thorough research of the pros and cons before you embark on purchasing property through crowdfunding. Understand that crowdfunding platforms are not necessarily financial advisors and you will do well to seek some professional advice before you jump onto the bandwagon. Also, look at how well your crowdfunding platform has done in the past to get an overview of their performances. Also, another crucial factor to consider is that like most investments, you do stand a realistic chance to lose everything you put in, including your initial capital alongside possibilities of all returns. Getting your share of such a property, if it were to be liquidated as well as access to your funds in proper time are all factors to consider before you sign up to own a property through crowdfunding.

Get Good With Numbers
Run through your numbers before you make a commitment. Make sure that the projected figures and returns are realistic and your investment and returns are accessible to you. Look for more details in the agreement and ensure complete transparency in the deal before you move forward with it.

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Three vacation destinations you need to have on your bucket list:  Seville, Spain, Kyoto, Japan, and Patagonia, Chile will all amaze you.

Vacations and bucket lists are a never-ending affair. Every year we mentally mark off areas on the globe that we absolutely must visit and then we end up settling for something more convenient or closer to home. But wanderlust is real and we must organize ourselves a little to bring us a few steps closer to that dream vacation. There are more than a handful of beauties to choose from but here are three top picks that you should definitely consider before setting out for your next adventure.

Seville, Spain
Spain has been pulling in the tourists for longer than we can think of, but the destination that has been projected at numero uno for 2018, is none of those party capitals of Barcelona or Ibiza but Seville, the capital of Southern Spain’s Andalusia region. Home to some remarkable cultural landmarks such as the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, that also boasts of the tomb of Christopher Columbus, Seville is a fascinating mix of history and culture. Also famed from here is the iconic flamenco and you can hop into flamenco clubs and enjoy an authentic experience of this traditional dance. A great destination to immerse oneself in European history, art and culture.

Kyoto, Japan
More than just the land of the rising sun, Japan is an experience in itself. Rooted in history, spirituality, culture and amazing gastronomy; Japan is a must visit for all travelers. While Tokyo is a good choice to experience the mayhem of urban, cosmopolitan Japan, it is Kyoto, which is the preferred choice to experience the heart of Japan. You can enjoy from the multitudinous Zen gardens, where you can experience a culmination of art, architecture, style and spirituality. Not to mention the numerous temples, starting with Steve Jobs’ meditation spot, Ryoanji temple or the famous tangerine colored Fushimi Inari Shrine that you have seen on countless pictures and movies, Kyoto gives you a wholesome experience of the mystical Japanese culture. There is also incredible food and a chance to catch live geisha shows on Gion, the popular street which becomes even more alive post sundown.

Patagonia, Chile
All of South America is breathtakingly beautiful but we pick Patagonia as the place to be this year. Its stunning landscape and hiking trails will give you ample time to reflect and be one with nature. Venture out to Torres del Paine National Park and experience the sky-high mountains, clear glaciers and territorial wildlife.  You must also cruise down Cape Horn, known for its brutally strong wind and glaciers, fringing along the strait between the Antarctic and South America. And if you’re a fan of happy feet, head to Isla Magdalena for your share of penguin watching in their natural habitat. The coastal town of Puerto Natales offers a glimpse into history, with the city’s Municipal Historical Museum exhibiting pieces of indigenous lives. The Mylodon Cave a little further from the city could also be an exciting day trip to wholly experience this vastly rich region.

If you're traveling, be sure to check out AirlineJourneys.com, It's full of information on the worlds most visited airports and the airline that travel there.

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Litecoin - The Next Big Cryptocurrency?

Litecoin has been hitting the news a fair bit just recently. It’s hard currency value is in the ascendency. As I write this, one litecoin is worth $60-93. The value has sky-rocketed by around 1,400% this year! But what exactly is litecoin? What are it’s origins and what is it used for?

Most folk I’m sure, won’t have heard of litecoin. I must confess to being one of them. I had vaguely heard of bitcoin and thought maybe it was some distant relative. Turns out that litecoin is the ‘little brother’ of bitcoin. Bitcoin was the first established cryptocurrency (meaning ‘secret’ currency) back in 2009. This cryptocurrency is made up of a secure encryption and a peer-to-peer networking system – a kind of digital asset. It works like a digital key with which you can prove to anyone on the network that a certain amount of bitcoin is yours. If you decide to spend/sell your bitcoin, you tell the entire network that you have transferred ownership. Anyone managing to get hold of your digital ‘key’ would have total irreversible control of your finances. The history of all the transactions made, is a lasting record of who owns which bitcoin. This record is called the blockchain.

Litecoin is a fork of bitcoin, developed by former Google engineer, Charlie Lee in 2011. It is not the only off-shoot. Others include; filecoin, dogecoin, ethereum and altcoin. Litecoin has far more users than any other cryptocurrency, with the exception of bitcoin. It is similar to it’s ‘older brother’ in the use of peer-to-peer networking. Neither is regulated by any central authority. Litecoin differs from bitcoin in three main ways. It uses a different encryption algorithm(scrypt), it has zero payment costs and has transaction times up to four times quicker. This last point is crucial to litecoin’s upsurge. Bitcoin can be problematic if you wish to make multiple transactions. It is not uncommon to have to wait several days for confirmation of a successful transaction.

The fluidity of litecoin means that it is more often used for smaller purchases. In this respect it is the ‘silver coin’ to bitcoin’s ‘gold coin’. Unlike physical currency, there is an agreed finite amount of litecoin – 84 million. This is exactly four times the amount for bitcoin. The set limit means that there cannot be any i***ationary stimulus as can happen with hard currency, where banks are able to print money as the government sees fit.

Unfortunately, there are a few major hurdles to overcome if litecoin is ever to make it big in the mainstream. The first is the lack of retailers, websites and businesses who accept litecoin. Once you have litecoin, holding on to it whether markets rise or fall is not far off your only option at this time. Getting hold of litecoin in the first place is not the easiest process. Aside from those in the know and the tech-minded, most people wouldn’t know where or how to start. There are a few online sellers. But for some you have to purchase bitcoin first, before you can exchange them for litecoin. Oh, and you’ll need a digital wallet. Rather a hassle, in a world of time constraints and convenience.

It remains to be seen if the value of litecoin will continue to rise. If it does, will it just be an investor’s short-term dream? Or will litecoin develop and expand to become a genuine universal currency.

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How To Choose A Company To Invest In

Managing your finances is crucial in this fast paced millennial of hits and misses. While there are many ways to secure your investment with a potential of doubling or tripling them, investing in a company could be one of the most rewarding ways of taking care of your hard earned finances. Granted that it comes with its fair share of risks, however buying stocks in a company could very well be an ongoing source of income and provide you the much needed cushioning for rainier days.

  • Choose Your Field
    Narrowing down the area you are interested in, makes it much easier to pick a company. Whether you are interested in social media, or hospitality or the medical industry, there are always multiple companies to pick from. But your area of interest not only makes it easier to pick the right company but also keeps it interesting for you.
  • Study The Company’s Financial Reports
    Looking up the company’s past financial records is crucial to understand if the company is worth your salt. Key elements to look into are revenue, earnings and cash flow. Keep an eye out for the revenue growth recorded by the company and how much debt the company is in. Quarterly and annual reports are released by all public companies. Access their public records or dig online to find their financial performances over the years to give you a fair idea about the company.
  • Invest In A Company You Are Familiar With
    A first hand knowledge of the company is an added advantage to your investment. You can get acquainted with a company through its employees, who could be friends, family members or people you know and they could give you a realistic summary of the company. It could also be a really popular brand or a store that you see abuzz with clients all the time. Be observant. You can also seek out advice from professionals and ask their opinion about a particular company before investing in it.
  • Keep Updated With All Financial News
    Before you decide to invest in a company, make sure to keep a thorough tab on all financial news. Subscribe to social media feed and link your smartphone to all stock market updates to get a good view of the financial status of the respective companies. Or you could rely on the good old ways of the daily newspaper or news channels to give you a constant feed of what is happening in the financial world.
  • Evaluate Your Personal Possibilities
    Before you set out to invest in a company, you must first draw out your own aims and needs that you wish to secure from your investments. Think of how much risk are you willing to take and how much of a continuous investment can you fulfill, alongside any other financial commitments that you have such as mortgages, etc. are all things to consider. Also, mapping out a financial investment plan is also important before zeroing in on a company. Considering all of these factors will help find you the right company.
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Brave's New Idea: The Basic Attention Token

Brendan Eich, the man behind Javascript and Mozilla, has unveiled his vision for a revolutionary new approach to internet advertising. It’s dependent on two key elements; a new web browser called Brave, and a form of cryptocurrency called the Basic Attention Token (BAT).

But just what is wrong with the current model? Well plenty, according to Eich. For starters, websites are overrun with advertisement middlemen. There is shady cross party data sharing, cross-platform tracking and mal advertising. The mobile platform has additional problems. The slow loading of Ad intensive webpages are costing the US customer an average of $23 extra per month in data charges. The slow loading, graphically intensive sites, are taking their toll on mobile battery life too. An average of 21% less battery life is accorded to this type of advertising. It seems everyone loses except the middlemen, fraudsters and bots. The user is subjected to unwanted, obtrusive Ads. Privacy is compromised. The rise of Ad Blockers has hit the genuine advertiser as well as the third party rogue. The publisher has been demonetised severely in recent times(approximately 66% decline), as Ad revenue has not been there.

The solution for the team at Brave software, involves two basic components. Firstly, a new open source browser. Working across all platforms the Brave browser claims to be superfast. Crucially, it has privacy protection at it’s core, blocking third party Ads and trackers. The browser would be able to monitor what adverts the user viewed most often, and for how long. But this information would never leave that particular device due to a built-in anonymity shield.

The second component is the Basic Attention Token (BAT). The BAT is an ethereum based cryptocurrency, an exchange payment between users, advertisers and publishers. The BAT’s value is based around the idea that user’s attention is a valuable commodity. As such, the more time the user spends watching certain adverts, the more BATs they accrue. This user attention is defined as ‘focused mental engagement’. The browser logs information as to where the user spends most of his/her time. The publisher is rewarded accordingly(BAT). The user is rewarded for their focused time(BAT) and protected from unwanted Ads and malware, and the advertiser benefits from more accurate data on user spending. The user can spend the tokens on premium content or services within the Brave platform.

The Basic Attention Token system is in its infancy. The basic tenets appear laudable. The good guys get their due, while the fraudsters and spammers are shut out. It remains to be seen how this idea can be sold to the masses. Brave browser has less than 1% market share at present. How are they going to raise their profile? There are plenty of ‘fast’ browsers out there. As to privacy issues, many users have Ad Blockers and probably don’t care what adverts are blocked – as long as they are! The tokens themselves are of limited use to the user as they can only be used within the Brave platform. Maybe too narrow a field for most people. One thing's for sure, whichever way it goes, it’s sure to be interesting.

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