I have a couple of friends who are really into Bitcoin, so I’d heard of it even before it was all over the news this week. But I still don’t think I totally understand what Bitcoin is. It’s a currency with no government behind it, which I get. But if it’s a currency, how are people investing in it? And do they have to pay taxes on it even though it’s not backed by the United States government? Is it a safe thing to invest in? Will it keep going up? My friends want me to buy it, and they each own a ton of it, so I’m in need of some expert help!
Ask the Experts
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I’m set to graduate pretty soon, but I don’t feel totally ready for the real world. One thing that I really don’t think I’m ready for is making big purchases, like buying a car or a house. I try hard to save money when I work over the summer, but I don’t think the budgeting lessons I’ve learned while away from campus for a few months at a time have given me anywhere near the level of knowledge I’ll need to buy a $15,000 car or an even more expensive house! So, experts: any tips?
Sure! You no doubt know that buying a car can often involve taking out a loan, and that buying a home nearly always does. Still, to make a big investment like that, you’ll need some money saved up for a downpayment, a steady income to help you make the loan payments, and a solid grasp of budgeting in order to determine just how much car or home you can afford.
Building a Business
I want to start my own business when I graduate. I think I have the skills and background to do it, and I think my idea is a good one. But, of course, I’m always looking for great advice! That’s why I’m asking the experts what sort of advice the pros give to people who are thinking about starting a company. Specifically, I’d love to know what people think I can or should do while I’m still in school–I have a couple of years left before I graduate, which I think makes my situation kind of unique relative to a lot of other people who are planning to start businesses in the near future. Thanks in advance for all of your help!
So you’re hoping to start a business–good for you! Striking out on one’s own is as American as it gets, and great businesses built by smart and talented individuals are always in demand. Of course, it won’t be easy: more than half of all businesses fail in their first year. So how can you prepare and make sure that yours isn’t one of them?
Defeating Drunk Driving
I know that drunk driving is a terrible thing to do, and it’s something I would never, ever do myself. For a long time, I assumed that pretty much everyone agreed on that–in fact, I wondered how it was even still a problem. But sometimes when I speak to older folks (even some within my own family), I’m surprised by how accepting they seem to be about the idea of drunk driving.
That may seem depressing, but it actually got me thinking kind of optimistically. If younger people are more serious about preventing drunk driving, we must be headed to a better, safer future in that area, right? So I thought I’d ask the experts: in general, how are we doing in the battle against drunk driving?
Drunk driving is a serious thing indeed–and, unfortunately, it’s still very much a problem in the United States. Drunk driving kills over 10,000 people a year and accounts for 29 percent of all traffic deaths in the US. Those sorts of statistics should be enough to make anyone stop driving drunk, but the sad truth is that many still do: 28.7 million people admitted to driving drunk in 2013.
I’m going to graduate next year. That’s starting to feel really soon for me! Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the responsibilities I’ll have as a “real” adult, and I’ve especially been thinking about my living situation. I want to save up and buy a home, but I have a hard time understanding what makes a house valuable. I see really large, nice-looking homes dismissed as “McMansions,” old and poorly maintained homes described optimistically as “fixer-uppers,” and everything in between. Let’s say I wanted to get a house that would really work as an investment and, in the long run, make me money: what would I look for?
There are a lot of very good reasons to consider buying a home instead of renting. The conventional wisdom is pretty straightforward: when you buy a home and pay into a mortgage, your money is going towards an asset that you can then resell or simply enjoy after its fully paid off; rent payments, on the other hand, merely give you a month of living space at a time and do not form any sort of long-term investment.
I’m interested in attending law school, and apparently this has made me the “go-to” expert on all things legal for my family and friends. I have a friend back home who needs a lawyer, and he asked me how to find the best one. Despite my intentions to enter the legal field myself, I have no idea how to find a good lawyer other than knowing someone who knows someone. I don’t want to tell him I have no idea, but I also don’t want to give bad advice. How does a person go about finding a good lawyer?
Lawyers aren’t like doctors–most people don’t have one they meet with regularly. Your friend sounds like most people. Although you may not be able to recommend a specific lawyer to him, there are some resources you can point him to in order to help him find a lawyer that best fits his specific needs and his budget.
After the Accident
I was recently involved in a pretty serious car accident. This just happened recently, so I’m still figuring out what to do now. I was unhurt, but my sister–who was a passenger–thinks she has a concussion. My car seems to be totalled, but we’re waiting to hear for sure from the mechanic. The accident wasn’t my fault, so I don’t think I’ll be sued, or anything, but I’m still a little nervous. And, obviously, now I don’t have car, so I can’t really get around when I want to go off campus!
Experts, do you have any tips on what to do after a big car accident?
A car accident is a stressful and upsetting thing. It’s physically dangerous, of course, but it also comes with a host of other issues trailing along, from the financial strain of a ruined car and the frustrations of dealing with an insurance company to the personal trauma of having experienced something so frightening and stressful.
I’m currently in the process of applying for jobs in a lot of different sectors because my focus during school has been on business and entrepreneurship. I’m not much of a tech person. I can use my smartphone and laptop like everyone else, but a lot of these jobs and their websites mention things like “understanding data solutions” and “streamlining web-based services to the cloud for economic flexibility.”
I don’t want to sound like a total amateur if these topics come up in interviews. Even if they don’t ask me about these things, they seem important to understanding costs for businesses. I don’t need a degree in computer science, but can you please translate some of this jargon so I feel better prepared?
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve hit on an incredibly important topic for businesses everywhere. Like you said, not everyone needs to be a computer scientist or a “tech person” to understand the impact that data creation and storage has on businesses. Most businesses store a tremendous amount of data, and that accumulation of so much data comes with very literal costs: data storage, electricity to support data storage, and, depending on the sensitivity of the data, additional costs for security and data compliance. This isn’t a problem that’s going away, either: according to the IDC, the explosion in data and its ubiquity in day-to-day work will force companies to transform in both internal culture and operations. Why is this happening? Studies have shown an estimated 4300 percent increase in annual data production by 2020, and companies have to figure out a way to store and access their data safely and cost-effectively.
My friends and I live year-round in an off-campus apartment that we really love–except for in one very big way. Our place has all the space we need, is laid out perfectly, and is in a great location, but we don’t have any way to controlling its temperature. I’m not sure how this is possible, but we don’t really have a thermostat, and I can’t seem to control the heaters or find any way to get the A/C on. Sometimes it’s too hot, other times it’s too cold, and honestly, it almost doesn’t matter what season it is: our place seems to be able to be uncomfortable in any weather, and whether it’s too hot or too cold that day is always a surprise. It’s like the place is haunted! What’s going on with this place? Any tips for controlling the temperature without access to any controls?
It certainly sounds like you’re dealing with a very confusing temperature situation in your apartment, and that’s not great. While experts say that it takes very extreme temperatures to have a serious and immediate impact on your health, subtler temperature changes can affect things like mood or productivity. Experts have found that cold rooms (below 68 degree Fahrenheit) lead to more mistakes at work. Problems with the temperature at work can also cause employees to stop working entirely: 29 percent of workers report spending between 10 and 30 minutes a day not working due to temperature issues.
Health and Hospitals
I’m 19 years old, and I’ve never been to a hospital. I mean, I must have been to one when I was born, but I’ve been very lucky in terms of health and injury and stuff. I go to the doctor every once in a while, but I’ve never broken a bone or gotten really, really sick, or anything like that. I know this is all good stuff, but I feel weirdly concerned about it, because I really don’t know anything about hospitals or when I should go to one.
I know this is kind of a weird question, but: when are you supposed to go to the hospital? When do you do that instead of going to your regular doctor? What do I do when I show up–do I just go to the emergency room? Or would I be arriving in an ambulance? Sorry if this is a dumb question.
There are no dumb questions–the experts are here to answer them all! And your question is a good one, because many people may not realize that they aren’t aware of the procedures and decision-making processes they may need to use in the event of an emergency.