5 Concepts to Understand Before Taking a Big Loan

Post written by Emma Hughes

When borrowing money, it’s important that you understand some of the key concepts before you choose a lender or a loan. While there are many different loans, the concepts we will go over apply to any loan out there. For instance, loan interest rates are one of the factors to consider when getting a loan, and as Tasneem Panchbhaya discussed it’s also one of the factors to consider when repaying your loan. Interest and other concepts we will cover are important to understand before finalizing any loans and you should avoid the temptation to gloss over them. Here we’ll go over five of the concepts to give you a better idea before taking out a loan.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

When shopping for a business or personal loan, one concept to keep in mind is that the total annual cost of borrowing is called the APR. Many confuse this with interest rate; however, interest is just one aspect of APR, which includes other fees like origination fees and monthly maintenance charges. US News reveals that APR is generally a factor in business lines of credit loans, and term loans among others. Unsecured loans will also have higher APRs than secured ones, so do your research first to find the best type of loan suited to you. In their guide to loans, Marcus points out the importance of comparing loaning agents based on their APR. As such, from where and from whom you get a loan is a deciding factor. For instance, loans from online lenders generally cost more than a bank loan and may have other hidden fees.

Loan Repayments

Repaying your loan involves paying the amount you borrowed, as well as the interest rate. As you understand how loans work, you’ll see that each monthly payment is split into two parts, which CFP Justin Pritchard explains are your interest costs and the loan balance. You’ll also understand that through amortization your interest payments will decrease over time as long as you consistently pay the scheduled payment amount. As we mentioned, in the beginning, a good practice is to pay down the loans with the highest interest as in the long run, you’ll be saving on higher interest charges by prioritizing high interest revolving loans, like credit cards.

Non-Bank Loan Options

More and more Americans are turning to alternative options of borrowing, both online and through traditional brick and mortar institutions. Oracle’s Digital Demand in Retail Banking study on 5,200 consumers from 13 countries points out that over 40% of customers think that non-banks can better serve them with personal money management, and loans for their particular needs. These can include payday lenders and check cashing centers. Other non-bank alternatives offer a variety of loan options including mortgages loans and peer-to-peer loans. When compared to banks, however, these might have higher fees, costlier APRs and very high-interest rates.

Loan Collateral

When qualifying for a loan, lenders will look at your credit history. Good credit shows that in the past you’ve paid back loans, which means you’re a low-risk client who will most likely pay back their loan. However, if your credit isn’t good, if you qualify it might mean higher interest rates and you might also be asked for collateral. It can be anything from a vehicle to a house or anything else that is on par or exceeds the loan’s value. Whatever was agreed upon as collateral can be taken by the lender to be sold in the event you aren’t able to repay your loan.

Loan Default

If you fail to make your loan payments on time, your loan can go into default. The amount of time it takes for this to happen will depend on your loan terms, the lender as well as local and federal laws. With loan defaults not an uncommon occurrence in Canada, The Bank of Canada reported that defaults on Canadian consumer loans incur the highest loss rates. Defaulting on a loan can affect your credit score and in many cases, a default may be sent to the lender’s collections department or sold to a third-party debt collection agency. Worse, a default could result in potential garnishing of wages or tax refunds if a judgment is awarded against you.

Health and Wellness Application: Creating Engagement in the Individual Life Insurance Industry

(2 min read)

The Life Insurance industry has a problem with its policyholders. They don’t know them. They know their address so they can send the premium notice, but they don’t know anything about them. They know what their health was at the tie of application and that they needed life insurance, but they don’t know anything else about them. Why is that? 

The main reason why Life Insurance companies do not know their policyholders is that agents control the relationships and life insurance companies have always viewed themselves as product manufacturers supplying products to agents for them to sell. This has led to the agents being able to move clients at will to whatever carrier they like and the insurance carrier to have limited contact with their policyholders (at the time of application).

Insurance carriers recognize the need for engaging policyholders so that they can lower the risk of an agent moving the policy, increase the ability to sell more than one policy, and guard against a declining agent force by having a direct relationship. The difficulty has been in how to approach creating that engagement without jeopardizing the relationship with the agent and that agent’s relationship with the policyholder. Agents guard those relationships closely as they are the source of their livelihood.

Health and Wellness applications can create engagement with policyholders that meet the needs of both carrier and agent. First, the carrier builds engagement by providing an application that is a benefit reward for health behavior. Second, because policyholders using the application will provide data on their health, insurance coverages, investments and life events – the carrier can make offers on products or provide advice in real-time and in the context of the client’s needs. Third, when the client accepts the offer, an appointment is booked with the agent who can then have a contextual discussion with the client with accurate information which builds trust for the agent.

The Health and Wellness application is perceived by the clients as a value add from both the carrier and the agent which creates affinity for both. The process of information gathering allows for the right offers at the right times with an accurate understanding of the client and their needs for a contextual discussion between agent and client that builds lasting trust.

How to Remain Healthy at Your Workplace

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A 9-5 job can be very consuming. Additionally, the 8 hours long workday does not begin at 9 and end at 5; it starts from the time you wake up and prepare to go to work until the commute back home. With such a tight schedule it can be easy to prioritize work and chores over health. However, neglecting your diet and physical activity can have deleterious long-term effects. An unhealthy body can further have adverse effects on a person’s mental health as a good diet and regular exercise are essential to maintaining a positive mind. The following tips share how a person can be healthy throughout the day during a workday:

  • Never Skip a Meal: No matter how important a call/task or meeting it, it is crucial to find the time to eat a filling lunch. This will keep you powered up throughout the rest of the day and improve your work performance. Eating out regularly can be unhealthy. Conversely, meal prep in the morning can be time-consuming and you may have to sacrifice some precious sleep to pack your food.  We suggest preparing your meal the night before and refrigerating it. This way you get your daily intake of healthy food and catch some extra minutes of sleep!
  • Physical Exercises: Almost all corporate jobs are desk jobs. Toiling away at your desk all day long promises little productivity. To keep yourself fresh, move around your office every 1-2 hours and get the blood flowing. Furthermore, try to incorporate small exercises (also called deskercises!) while you are sitting at your desk such as shaking your legs and stretching. While the physical effort is minimal, the results can be substantial.
  • Limit Your Caffeine Intake: Caffeine is an essential item in a working adult’s lifestyle. While there is nothing more tempting than chugging cup after cup of coffee or tea, the caffeine can drastically affect sleep and even concentration. Limit your intake to one cup per day. Moreover, avoid coffee after 7 pm so it does not impact your sleep.
  • Make Healthy Choices: Offices often have free food items and snacks lying around in the kitchen. These can be enticing for their easy reach and value for money. But you should keep in mind the nutritional value of each snack. While they may be seemingly harmless, these snacks can pack on calories over-time. Combine this with an inactive work lifestyle and you have a recipe for disaster.

Optimity offers tons of activity packs that employees can make use of to lead a healthier and happier lifestyle. Whether you are a yoga aficionado or a gym beast, we promise we have something right up your alley!

Stress in the Workplace: Signs Your Employees are Burning Out

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Stress is one of the leading causes of death in the world; it fuels heart problems, cancer and much more. Not only does stress lead to physical manifestations of diseases but it can also lead to mental health problems. It is crucial for employers to regulate stress-levels in the workplace by introducing fun activities and promoting a work-life balance. Conversely, employees who are chronically stressed may underperform or even burnout. Some of the signs of burnout that employers should be on the lookout for are as follows:

  • Fatigue- Fatigue is one of the most common and early symptoms of burnout. Employee fatigue can range from decreased socialization to the inability to keep up with the work schedule due to tiredness. Sometimes, people experience both fatigue and insomnia leading to a vicious and perpetual cycle of exhaustion.
  • Difficulty Concentrating– If you find that your employees have a problem concentrating on their work and often forget their tasks, they might be burning out. Despite their best efforts, some employees cannot focus on their job due to feelings of low self-esteem, alienation, and loss of future goals, among others. It is important for the HR official to have an open and empathetic conversation with the employee; merely berating someone for low performance will do little to no good.
  • Mood Swings- If your employee displays patterns of erratic behavior and is constantly shifting between feelings of anger and sadness, they may be physically and/or emotionally exhausted. Sometimes employees find it difficult to have an honest conversation with their higher-ups, due to a fear of being looked upon in an unfavorable light. If employers can spot the danger signs and initiate conversation, it can make the job less intimidating for the workers.
  • Cynicism/ Hostility– When employees are good at hiding their emotions, it may be difficult to spot burnout symptoms. Instead, the company should look at more indirect signs such as pessimism about the future, newly developed hostility towards certain subjects, feelings of hopelessness etc. 

What are some steps that employees can take to prevent burnout?

  • Take regular breaks. It is scientifically impossible for anyone to concentrate for hours at a stretch. Thus, rather than wasting time by trying really hard to concentrate, employees should just take well-deserved breaks. Examples include going out for coffee, chatting with other employees and stretching.
  • Have intense bouts of productivity. While working, employees should aim to concentrate very intently on the work they are doing and not get distracted. This strategy works hand in hand with taking breaks, as having intense bouts of productivity will give employees more chances to take breaks.

What are some steps employers can take to prevent burnout?

  • Provide positive workspaces. Including napping pods, music/disco rooms, reading spaces etc. provides a lot of incentive for employees to work hard. Additionally, painting the workspace in positive bright colors or having a greenroom can be great mental boosters as well.
  • Receptively listen to employees: Employers should openly listen to the concerns of employees. If an employee is worried about their health and wellness, it is imperative that the employer do whatever is needed to make them feel better.
  • Invest in corporate wellness programs. This is where Optimity comes in handy! Optimity aims to foster productivity and reduce burnout in the workplace by promoting health and fitness activities. Workplaces that use this platform have reported an 84 percent increase in health score. The benefits of Optimity transcend the simple prevention of burnout: the company feels well-integrated, employees cultivate great relationships with their colleagues and they get monetary rewards for being healthy!

 

How you can lead a blissful life

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The vast majority of us go on to lead a normal middle-class lifestyle, bogged down on a daily basis with our nine to five office job and family responsibilities. Sure, people can go to nightclubs and other entertainment events to socialize and have fun, but is that really the definition of true happiness?  I’m sure that we’ve all heard of the saying “follow your bliss”, yet we tend to mistakenly brush it off as another one of those “empty” motivational phrases.

Well, you may ask, what could that possibly even mean and why should I do it? First and foremost, bliss can be characterized as that internal, fulfilling drive to satisfy your personal needs. To put it simply, following your bliss is the only pathway to true, long-lasting happiness. Ignoring materialistic needs, individuals on their deathbeds will often take the time to reflect and voice any regrets on certain fundamental life choices they made. Obviously, we’re not saying that you should prepare to meet your demise soon! Instead, making immediate blissful adjustments to your daily lifestyle will allow you to reap priceless benefits and live your best and happiest life possible.

As stated before, achieving an ever-lasting state of happiness requires you to follow your bliss and therefore take the necessary actions. We have listed four of our favourite activities below so you can kickstart your blissful journey on the right foot!

Make amends with hardships in your past

We know that it is never easy to forgive individuals who have hurt you deeply in the past, but keeping that hatred all your life will never make things better. If you carry that love and forgiveness attitude wherever you can expect to break down emotional walls and spread positivity. Never forget, but always forgive!

Treat your body right

You’ve only got one body so make the right choices. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is one of the many institutions bringing light to the link between food and mental health. Make sure you eat a balanced diet that is dominated by fresh, colourful vegetables. Try your best to buy organic and avoid highly-processed foods with ingredients you have never even heard of. The healthier the food, the better you can expect of your mental and physical health. Of course, make sure to indulge in your favourite, unhealthy foods once in a while too! Just make sure you maintain that balance of your body’s wants and needs.

Spend more time with loved ones

This one is hands down the most popular regret among those who are on their deathbeds. This may seem like a no-brainer, but millennials nowadays are so dominated by their jobs and social media that they often forget about their family. Make sure to spend more time with your parents as they get older, and surround yourself with positive friends who will support you all the way, no matter what. By valuing relationships, you will be able to effortlessly expand your social circle while retaining the old ones.

Mind your own business

Especially with the integration of social media into our daily lifestyle, we seem to care more about what our friends are up to rather than ourselves. The truth is that our own lives are so difficult to manage, let alone the weight of keeping up with a loved one. We’re not telling you to only care for yourself and be selfish. Instead, we just want you to put your personal affairs at the top of the priority list. Get rid of any forms of negativity in your life and boost your self-confidence. Eventually, you’ll start to see firsthand the freedom that comes with these boundaries.

Here at Optimity, we recognize that your personal wellness should come before anything else! That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, ranging from in-seat stretches to meditation sessions, so you can easily integrate them into your daily schedule! If you would like to learn more about us, feel free to visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

The Wonders of Journaling

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Journaling has captivated the health and wellness industry for a variety of reasons, but the topic is often surrounded by these questions that circle around our heads:

  • What’s the point?
  • Why spend hours writing about your life?
  • Does it work?

Journaling is the notion of keeping a diary or journal to record your life. The main idea is to write down your emotions and thoughts, keeping track of your past experiences and gaining wisdom about yourself. Each day is unique and each page is to be filled with data that is unique to you. This is information that you can process and analyze to better understand the limitations, behaviour changes and the environment surrounding your life.

In this day and age, we are constantly looking to evolve concepts to better support our lives and journaling fits right into this adaption. It can be considered to the umbrella concept, as there are many subtopics within the subject. Aside from the traditional method of writing in a journal, it has transitioned into apps that allow you to track your fitness, log your meals and remind you to think.

Stress Management

The awareness that you give yourself allows you to be competent for the success that you value. Our society has witnessed a spike in mental health illnesses and we continue to chase solutions that can provide support. This is where journaling can be more than you might think. Stress, anxiety or depression are all examples of issues that can be addressed through journaling. If we keep track of the barriers that block the road, we can understand why it occurs and what needs to be done to avoid the recurring problem.

In different segments of our lives, this concept can be a game changer and this is exactly what The Research Journal of the National League for Nursing wanted to test.  The research targeted strategies that can be applied to nursing students to decrease stress and anxiety “that may be brought about by the psychiatric mental health clinical experience”. The study consisted of thirty undergraduate students that were given the task of tracking their progress to mitigate their anxiety and the results were evident. The self-reflection tool provided support for these students to reflect on their work and limit their anxiety to develop.

How to Journal

The University of Rochester Medical Center reiterates the benefits attached to this concept and implies the necessary steps to ensure success. Here are a few tips that we think you should do to value journaling to its full potential:

  • Make an effort to write everyday
  • Write whatever comes to your mind even if it’s messy
  • Make it convenient to write anytime, anywhere
  • Use your journal as you see fit

Here at Optimity, we recognize that people who commit to journaling on a daily basis tend to tail off after a couple of weeks. That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, ranging from in-seat stretches to meditation sessions, so you can easily integrate them into your daily schedule! If you would like to learn more about us, feel free to visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

 

Steps Towards a Positive Body Image

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As we count down the remaining days until summer officially kicks in, we will surely be seeing more and more commercials showing individuals with the classic “beach body”. Considering the role social media plays in the average millennial’s lifestyle, self-conscious individuals tend to draw negative comparisons between themselves and professional models. Even though these pictures are often intentionally staged and edited, many people are so determined to mirror the look that they knowingly cause physical and mental harm to themselves.

If you happen to be struggling with body image issues, we have four tips that will help you embrace the beauty that is your very own body!

Be active

Yes, we know that you’ve probably heard this one a million times by now but there’s a reason why! That’s because, in order to feel positive about yourself, you need to be in good physical shape. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise not only prevents a number of health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity but has also shown to improve mood and anxiety issues. Exercise releases “feel-good” endorphins which provide a similar calming effect to cannabis, and allow you to temporarily take your mind off any worries.

Surround yourself with positivity  

We’ve all had an experience where a certain individual in our group or team was constantly being a negative force and dragging us down. If you are making efforts to improve your body image, it is crucial that you surround yourself with positive influences. Some ideas to get you started include:

  • Hit the gym with a supportive group of friends
  • Strengthen relationships with those close to you
  • Wear your favourite outfit whenever you feel down
  • Compliment others to spread love and positivity  

Lose weight in a healthy way    

If you are trying to lose weight, make sure you are doing it in a way that is healthy and sustainable. Some methods such as skipping meals or cutting out entire food groups can actually backfire and hurt you even more. The key is planning out a detailed and balanced diet plan to ensure you are still getting all the essential nutrients while cutting down on the calories. Be sure to supplement this with adequate exercise and eight glasses of water each day. The whole journey is supposed to be hard but fun at the same time, so you can always sneak in a cheat day every so often!

Never give up

Especially at the start, you may find it difficult adjusting to a new routine – don’t be discouraged! Everyone has a bad day once in a while and it’s ok to cut yourself some slack. The important thing is to recognize the importance of following through on what you started and getting right back into it the next day. Rome was not built in a day, and your body is no different. As we mentioned beforehand, surround yourself with positive influences who will be there every step of the way. If you remain diligent and follow all our steps, you will feel great about how you look in no time and in turn, how you feel every day!

Here at Optimity, we make personal wellness our number one priority! That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our app, aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and positive self-perception. To find out more, visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution