Cryptocurrencies Beyond Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the most valuable and well-known of all cryptocurrencies. It has always been a trendsetter and has brought about a wave of cryptocurrency options that are built on a decentralized, peer-to-peer network. But if you are considering investing in cryptocurrencies, you may be wondering which crypto options beyond Bitcoin are worth investing in. While Bitcoin might be in the news more often, here are some alternative options that are definitely not going unnoticed.

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Ether (ETH)

Ether, the token of the Ethereum network, is the first alternative to Bitcoin on most investors’ lists. Ethereum is a decentralized software platform enables Smart Contracts and Decentralized Applications (DApps) to be built and run without the risk of downtime, control, fraud, or interference from third parties. Ethereum’s goal is to create a suit of decentralized financial products that anybody can have free access to around the world regardless of who they are. As of January 2021, Ether had a per-token value of $1,218.59 and a market cap of $138.3bn.

Litecoin (LTC)

Launched in 2011, Litecoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies to be introduced after Bitcoin, and has sometimes been referred to as the ‘silver to Bitcoin’s gold’. It is based on an open-source global payment network that is not controlled by a central authority. It possesses many similarities with Bitcoin; however, trading Litecoin differs with faster block generation rates leading to faster transaction times overall. Today, there are a growing number of developers and merchants that accept Litecoin, and in January of this year, Litecoin was the sixth-largest cryptocurrency worldwide with a per-token value of $153.88 and a market cap of $10.1bn.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

Bitcoin Cash is an important altcoin since it is one of the earliest and the most successful hard forks of Bitcoin. As a background, a fork will take place as a result of debates and disagreements between the developers and miners in the cryptocurrency world. Because digital currencies are decentralized, wholesale changes to the code that underlies the coin or token at hand need to be made due to general consensus. In some cases, the digital currency will be split when an agreement cannot be reached, with a new chain beginning as an alternative version of the prior coin. As a result of one of these splits, Bitcoin Cash was formed in August 2017. BCH increased the block size from 1MB to 8MB, allowing it to hold more transactions and speed up transaction time. It had a per-token market value of $513.45 in January 2021.

Stellar (XLM)

This open blockchain network was designed to connect financial institutions for the purpose of large transactions, providing enterprise solutions. Large transactions between investment firms and banks that would usually take up to several days and cost a large sum can now be done using this network immediately and at little to no cost to those making the transaction. Although it’s an enterprise blockchain designed for business transactions, Stellar is an open blockchain that can be used by anybody, and allows any currencies to be easily transacted across borders. As of January 2021, Stellar Lumens had a market capitalization of $6.1bn.

While Bitcoin might be the cryptocurrency that gets the most airtime, if you are considering investing in digital currencies, these other options are worth considering.

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Is It More Expensive to Rent Than Buy?

Are you currently renting a home or apartment? If so, you may have questioned a few times as to whether or not buying a home is the cheaper option. While in the long run, buying a house is most likely the least expensive option, this doesn’t mean that renting doesn’t have its perks.

Upfront Costs

When moving into an apartment you are typically asked to provide a security deposit that matches your monthly rent and your first and possibly last month’s rent. While this can be costly, the price does not measure up to upfront costs when purchasing a home.

Depending on where you live, if you rent you may be looking at about $5,000 on upfront costs. However, when purchasing a home you will be looking at upfront costs that include your down payment, closing costs, inspection fees, and a few other expenses that can definitely add up to more than $5,000.

Monthly Costs

On the contrary, your monthly costs or mortgage can be more favorable when owning your own home. Keep in mind that when renting, your landlord is typically charging you the cost of the mortgage plus some because they have to make money too. So right away, you are more likely to spend more money monthly on renting a home rather than if you owned it yourself.

Another thing to keep in mind when determining if renting or buying a home is the right choice for you is the cost of utilities. Utility fees can vary, but when renting, it’s not uncommon to see a few, if not all, utilities included in your monthly rental fee.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining a property, fees can certainly add up. You may run into a leaking roof that requires repair, a malfunctioning AC unit, and more. The bright side of renting is that when any problems occur, you won’t have to pay for them to be fixed. In contrast, when owning your own home, these expenses will be yours to handle and pay for.

Miscellaneous Costs

Fees such as property taxes, home insurance, and more are some additional expenses that come into play when purchasing a home. When renting a home or apartment, it is still wise to have renter’s insurance however, it is typically a nominal fee compared to homeowner’s insurance.

If you no longer believe renting is the best option for you, check out this house payment calculator to determine what price range you can afford when searching for a home to purchase.

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5 Tips to Remember When Creating a New Home Office for the Family

COVID-19 has changed much of our lives and now people are working from home or doing distance learning. Although folks can do these anywhere in the home – even outside if they’d like – people are vying for a home office. 

A home office gives homeowners the feeling that they can do their work in a dedicated space, and once their work day is over, they can close the door and forget about it. The home office is becoming a hot commodity so much so, HomeLight’s Q3 2020 survey shows that 45% of real estate agents say homeowners are turning a spare room into a home office. The survey also shows 14% of agents are adding features specific for home learning, like built-in desks, storage bins, and bookshelves.

If you’re tired of sitting in the living room or dining room table and want to build a home office, here are a few things to keep in mind!

1. Set a realistic budget

One of the things that homeowners love to do when starting a project is to look at various design ideas online. The fancy furniture, the luxurious finishes, and so on are fun to look at and picture in your own home… But these things add up and can get very expensive! 

That’s why you need to set a budget for your project. Not only do you have to set a budget, you have to have the discipline to stick to it

2. Give yourself plenty of time to complete it

It doesn’t matter how long you think a project will take to complete, you should always give yourself an extra day or two (or more if it’s going to be a huge renovation) to get it done. Some projects may only take an afternoon to finish (like painting a room) and other tasks like removing and replacing the floor will take a bit longer. 

The point of giving yourself a little more time than you expect to need is because you don’t want to hurry through it just to meet a deadline. That’s when things go wrong and would take even more time!

3. Decide what item(s) you want to splurge on

Although you have a budget and need to stick to it, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend your money on nicer things. Think about what you’re doing to the room and what items you’ll need in it. Then you can choose where you can splurge. 

Let’s say you’re someone who works best in the morning. You could allocate a portion of your budget to install a large window that would bathe the room in sunlight. Maybe you have a bad back and need an aerodynamic office chair, you could spend a little more money and purchase a good chair. 

Of course, keep in mind that if you splurge on some things, you’ll have to save on others!

4. Hire a contractor if you’re doing extensive renovations

There are some things that the average homeowner can do without the help of a certified contractor. Things like painting, rearranging furniture and possibly even switching out light fixtures can be done on your own. However, if you need electrical work done, replacing windows, or even refinishing hardwood flooring, you may want to hire a professional so you know the job is done right. 

If you do hire a contractor, make sure you factor labor into your budget. 

5. Step away from the project if you’re overwhelmed

These are stressful times, to be sure. Adding a renovation project on top of that isn’t going to help matters either. When you feel overwhelmed or frustrated as the project progresses, don’t force yourself to keep working – that’s when accidents and mistakes happen. 

It’s perfectly fine to take a step back and give yourself some time to calm down. Once you’re feeling better, you’ll be less likely to make a mistake once you start again. Taking a break isn’t just good for your sanity, it’s great for your safety!

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