3 Ways to Boost Your Monthly Income

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If you are preparing for a special event or are planning to raise fund for an upcoming big expense, it might be a good solution to start seeking alternatives to boost your income. Some simple or out-of-the-box ways might be available to raise some additional money. These are listed below.

Start Freelance Work

Various sites online propose effective solutions for people to sell their skills by doing additional projects and raise funds. This is done either by bidding on projects or creating pages where buyers would be able to contact sellers for particular products and services. One would only need to be aware of which skills might be in demand and to tap on that.

Cover your car with advertisements

This is a new method of advertisements that allows individuals to earn up to 1000 dollars a month by just placing ads on their car. The persons selected for this would then just have to travel their normal route regularly. The selection depends on the area that the person lives in.

Become a Mystery Shopper or join a focus group

Being involved in market researches is quite lucrative. Several people can earn up to 300 dollar per focus group participation. In order to enrol, you might want to gather information from a local market research agency and they would ask you for information to assess whether you would be eligible. Mystery shopping is quite selective but people who get involved in it would need to provide their opinion on products and get paid for it.

3 factors to consider when choosing a retirement portfolio

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Going on retirement is liberating. It is the moment when you would finally get to relax and forget about your work and intent with which you were focusing on your career. The following questions will help you decide how to allocate assets for your retirement distribution.

Determining your budget and expenses

Making a list of all your necessary expenditures will help you evaluate how much you would be needing from your retirement plan. Your expenses are the main influencing factor of your retirement and having a strong understanding of how they are broken down is key. If are able to determine how much you would be withdrawing for your retirement, you would be able to find out what you would be expecting from your investments.

Determining your expected rate of return

By determining the rate of return on your investment that you would be needing, you can decide what would be the amount of money to allocate in your pension plan. Factors such as risk and time would also have to be taken into consideration.

When would you be needing the money?

Determining when you would actually require the release of your funds would determine which mode of retirement investment to choose and adhere to. Adopting a long-term approach can be beneficial, especially if you are investing in relatively risk-free plans. Factors such as taxes, inflation and the market trends would also have to be considered when devising your long-term retirement investment plan.

Calculations for a Comfortable Retirement

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Generally, owners of small businesses decide to finance their through the sale of their company. While this may be a good plan, business owners often do not consider the amount of money that they will receive during the sale.

Develop a retirement budget in today’s dollars

While developing your retirement budget, you could start by considering your current expenses and forecasting whether these would still exist when you would be retiring. For instance, if you have children, they would probably have grown into adulthood and become self-sufficient. Other financial aspects such as a mortgage would have been paid off. Your retirement income would also need to cater for activities that you might want to indulge in once you would be free from professional obligations.

Estimate any income you will have in retirement

In some cases, you would be eligible for a person scheme. Even though social security might be around, you might want to disregard this income in your calculations. Moreover, some people do not plan to go on full retirement. They would therefore still be receiving an income and this would reduce the amount needed from the retirement scheme.

Consider the effect of inflation

Supposing that you would be about to retire in 15 years. You might need to take into consideration the forecasted level of inflation for the forthcoming decades. Assuming that the inflation rate would be at 2.5% for the next 15 years, to gather a capital of $3.3, the retirement fund would need to be at $4.8.

How To Budget for an Event

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Balancing the budget for an event is one of the challenges faced by planners. The cause of most money issues is generally related to initial discussion stages. The design and planning of an event should start with the financial resources at the disposal of the planner. The tips below might help you estimate the cost.

Outline Each Event Expenses

Expenses related to an event would come from various sources. Once you have all these sources listed down, you would be able to assign budgets to each one. For any event the most obvious expenses would be venue and catering. Overlooking one expense might cause a disbalance in the initial budget.

Discussion with the planner

The role of an event planner is to provide expert guidance on the coordination but also on how to balance your budget. The planner should be able to advise when your ideas are going too much over the top so that you are aware of budget restrictions. You might sometimes also have to adjust your expectations with this regards.

Build a Basic Event Budget

Once you have formed an idea of how the event will be and have an idea on the overall budget, you would have to break it down for each component. Another factor to consider is that your initial budget is only a working draft. Other expenses might come in. It is therefore important to keep a buffer, just in case. A 10% buffer is generally adequate. You will also have to include your event planner’s fees when considering your budget.

Tips To Avoid Student Loan Debt

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Federal student loans has experienced considerable progress in the past years. Borrowers who were struggling with their debt have been offered several options in terms of loan repayment and even loan forgiveness programs have been put into place to help them out. However, borrowers having opted for private student loans often do not have so many facilities. The tips below might help you avoid private student loan debts.

Get To Know Your Loan Terms First

It is really important to keep track of the terms of your private student loan. Essential information such as the person dealing with your record, contact details, the repayment status and balance of your loan would need to be constantly checked. This might be hard to keep up with especially if you have contracted different private student loans through each school year. You might want to use your credit report to get all required information to contact your lenders and update them with your address to receive regular statements.

Negotiate With Your Bank and Focus On Earning Extra Income

If you find that you are in difficulty to repay your loans, you might consider contacting your bank to explain your situation and find a solution. Generally banks will propose a win-win solution. The solution might be in terms of lower repayment for a longer period. Another solution would be find alternative ways to generate extra income. It might be by working more shifts or engaging in a side activity that would make your earn some extra money.

Benefits of having a long-term home mortgage

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Long-term mortgages are those that last for 40 years or more and tend to be more expensive due to the greater risk involved in lending for a considerably longer time compared to other loans. If you are reluctant at considering a mortgage, the following reasons could help you in your decision.

  1. Mortgages enable you to build equity

The value of your home will rise over the years and having a mortgage does not affect that value. Instead of spending all your money on buying the property, getting a long-term mortgage will have the effect of increasing your equity while at the same time the value of your home will increase. An increase in equity can help you fund major life events such as weddings, education or retirement.

  1. Mortgages carry low interest rate

Mortgages have low interest rates since you would be putting your house up as a guarantee of your payment. The bank’s risk with this loan is considerably lower as you are offering something huge as collateral, therefore they are willing to reduce their interest rate.

  1. Mortgage interest is tax-deductible and tax-favorable

The interest that you pays on your home loans up to a certain amount is tax-deductible in the U.S. This provides savings on federal and state income taxes.

  1. Mortgage payment gets easier with years

Mortgage payment, especially fixed-rate mortgages become comparatively cheaper over time as your income will undoubtedly increase. Mortgage payments might seem high during the first few years but as income increase, things would start to look easier.

How to protect yourself against credit card hacks

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As per a Consumer Reports Survey carried out in 2012, 22.5% out of five thousand consumers who have received notice of a security breach have found out that they were victims of identity fraud. There are certain actions that you might take to protect yourself in case you find out that your account has been subject to a data breach.

Get a Replacement Card

If you have been informed that you are involved in a data breach, immediately demand that the company get you a new card or you would close down the account. The company should be able to meet your demand.

Daily Check Your Account Online

Finding suspicious activities and disputing them promptly is the best way to be able to solve any issue. Check your account everyday when your new card arrives for a least one month.

Freeze your credit

If you find out that you are the victim of a data breach, you can call the three main credit bureaus and request to freeze your credit report. This would ensure that nobody would have access to your report without your prior consent. In extreme cases of real breaches, you could also freeze your accounts.

Order your credit reports

As per the law, you are eligible to one free credit report each year. If you are a victim of fraud, you would probably to eligible for more regular free reports. Even if you have not been a victim yet, you might be cautious by getting reports every quarter year.

Investment tips for beginners

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Investing can be an intimidating process for beginners. The following tips could be helpful to ease up the process.

  1. Choosing the right investment partner

The most crucial choice when it comes to investment revolves around which brokerage company to solicit. This is an important decision as it will impact on the amount paid in fees, the type of investments that you would be proposed and the expected returns on investment that you would get. A good long-term solution is to choose a discount broker. Choosing one that would not charge high fees and charge low commissions would be ideal. Brokers that offer mutual funds or ETFs (exchange-traded funds) without charging for a commission are perfect for beginners.

  1. Start with basic funds

Mutual funds and ETFs are great for beginners. The advantage of these funds is that they would split your investment across several stocks. This creates a buffer for risks associated with the downfall of any given individual stock. Mutual funds and ETFs are ideal if you want to learn about investment. Some target-date mutual funds offer the advantage of automatic computation of the risk level associated with your investment as you approach the goal you had set (such as your retirement, for instance).

  1. Opt for safer stocks

Safer stocks can come in the form of consumer staple products such as food, clothing and medical supplies. These stocks tend to be less volatile as even when the economy is tough, people would still be looking for buy those products. These stocks have a good long-term prospects but require patience to yield their return.

How to Solve Financial Shortfalls

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If you notice a financial shortfall after calculating your expected expenses, you might have to find solutions in order to eliminate it. Several possibilities might be presented to you and you might have to adapt your solutions as per your situation. The guide below might help you come up with ideas to raise some extra funds.

Reconsider your expenditures

You might wish to go through your expenditure again and to try to eliminate anything that feels unnecessary. However, there are certain expenses that you must not drop. For instance, you might feel tempted to drop your insurance coverage, but dropping them now might be turn out to be problematic in the future. And this decision might turn out to be detrimental in the future.

Review bills and find out how to save

Take a moment to review each of your bills and think about ways to reduce your expenses. You may gather around with your family to decide how you may save on groceries, clothes and other items. You might have to change some of your consumer habits.

Consider your employment

To eliminate certain financial shortfalls, you might think about working extra hours or doing a part-time activity. If your children are teens, you might encourage them to find a job to be able to earn some extra pocket money.

Start Keeping a Log

The log would help you keep track of your expenditure and find out where the money goes. It might be some expensive lunch that you tend to forget about or a habit that has become part of your routine, such as smoking. It could be useful to note these down.

3 tips for choosing a mortgage

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Choosing the right mortgage can be a tough decision. There are many factors that ought to be taken into consideration in order to avoid any contingencies in the years to come. The tips below might be helpful.

Know what you can afford

Most financial decisions would start with this step. Knowing what you can afford is about knowing where you stand financially. You might think about going through your monthly spending to determine what is within your budget in terms of the house, insurance, mortgage and property taxes. You might also think about including monthly maintenance and utility costs. Your credit report would also have to be checked to ensure that get the lowest interest rate possible on your mortgage.

Compare Loans

This shopping around takes time and energy, but it is unfortunately required in order to guarantee the best decision and more savings. You can consider a mortgage lender or mortgage broker. Brokers would sell you a loan from a lender. However, neither of these professionals would be finding the best loan for you. You would have to carry out the research yourself.

Understand loan prices and fees

Customers often make the mistake of accepting the first loan that they are being offered without thinking about looking around for a better deal. You might also keep in mind that lenders and brokers alike have a consideration for the profit that they would receive once you agree to the terms of a particular loan with higher interests or higher fees. Understanding and comparing prices yourself is the best way to strike a deal.

Tips for the first time car buyer

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eharperfinanceBuying your first car, can be filled with a lot of uncertainty. Investing in a car is a big responsibility and it is important you get it right the first time. Here are a few tips to help with the process.

Establish your budget – You should first know how much you can afford monthly, for your car loan. Start with looking at your cost of living, which should include food, accommodation, entertainment, fuel, car insurance etc.

Transportation needs – Figure out what your main transportation needs are and what you will need to transport. If you are using your car for travelling to uni and work on most days, you could opt for a 2 door hatchback.

Prioritize your wants – Your first time car, will not be your only car. Therefore, invest in a car that fits your needs now. Try to stay away from the expensive models with the pricey extras.

Research – Do your research on models you intend to buy. Online research is quite extensive and would give you a good idea of the pros and cons of the car you intend to buy.

Find a dealer – Locate a dealership and speak to a sales person. Find out what models are available within your price range.

Test drive – Take your car for a test drive. This is a great way to get a feel of the car and identify any features you might want added.

Price – Look at the Kelley blue book fair purchase price. This will give you an accurate idea of what you should be paying for your car in your area. You could also speak to a credit union separately or at the dealership.

Increase your Income

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eharperfinanceOne of the most common themes people talk about when asked about goals for the new year, is to earn more. Higher income is associated with more happiness, lower debts and a more stable financial future. Sadly there are no easy solutions but with a bit extra effort you can increase your income.

Ask for a raise

If you work for someone or a business, when was the last time you asked for a raise? While the chances are that you will be unsuccessful, it does not hurt to ask. Sometimes employers don’t see the value in an individual until asked to consider how much they are willing to compensate them.

Look into your field

Before you can expect more income from your workplace research your field and your position. Find out if there is room for higher earning in your chosen profession and what you can typically expect to get paid at higher positions. You might be in the wrong field in terms of income potential.

Change careers

If there really is a limit to the income potential of your current profession then a career change is needed. Sometimes changing careers might see an immediate rise in income levels. It is never too late to change careers, so even if you are later in your career don’t be afraid to explore your options.

The message here is to take stock of where you are and figure out where to go from here. Once you have that information, take action and you can definitely increase your earnings.

How to Find the Right Construction Expert Witness

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How-to-Find-the-Right-Construction-Expert-WitnessIf you’re dealing with a potentially threatening claim and are in need of a construction expert witness, here are some tips that you can use to identify, select, and ultimately choose the right one for your particular case.

Outrageous Claims

Be wary of marketing claims that make outrageous promises. Vendors will attempt to lure you into purchasing their specific resources that apparently grant you inside information that others do not have based on their “unique” systems. Be sure that you do the necessary research and background check on every vendor to determine whether or not they are quality candidates for your case. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Library

Library websites are optimal sources to uncover information on the particular subject that you are looking for. Take the time to visit your local library and search for the specific subject that the claim is based on. Search online catalogs and gather all of the necessary information such as: facts pertaining to the topic, laws and regulations, and relevant information.

Search Engines

There are a variety of online resources that are available to you thanks to the vast regions of the Internet. Scavenging throughout the web however is a difficult task due to the thousands of candidates that you have to click through. There are also expert witnesses from construction consulting services that have had years of experience within the construction field that you can choose from – which are ideal because of their “hands-on” practice.

Bio: Lyle Charles is a structural steel expert, seasoned executive, business coach and mediator. He also runs Lyle Charles Consulting, a construction consulting firm with over 40 years of experience.

Creative ways to save for a vacation

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eharperfinanceMaking a yearly travel plan can be a great idea, but saving for travel can be difficult. However, a vacation, at least yearly, can really help you rest and recover, while creating a sense of excitement and adventure. Here are a few tips to help you save for your next vacation;

Open a travel account – Creating a separate bank account for travel, is a great way to save. This will give you a clear idea of how much you have saved so far and how much more you will need to save. Once you open the account and have some money saved, just remember that these savings should only be used for travel. Online access together with an ATM will be useful to transfer funds into the account and to withdraw money for tickets and accommodation.

Automatic Transfers – Your travel account should be funded monthly, therefore transfer a standard amount of money via an automatic transfer. By just transferring $14 a week, you will end up $730 by the end of the year. This is sufficient for a week long getaway.

A change jar- Your trusty change jar can accumulate a lot of money. If you just put in $1.37 a day you will be up to $500 in a year.

Budget – This means that you will have to track your expenses, including food, clothing, accommodation, utilities and any other spending done by you doing the month. This way you would have a clear idea of how much you would be able to save. You will be surprised to find out where your money is spent and where you can cut back.

How Capital and Reserve Requirements Work in Banking

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By Phin Upham

Banks are some of the most regulated institutions in America, and much of that is done to help mitigate risk on the part of both the borrower and lender. As we saw in the 2007 financial crisis, banks who were deemed “too big to fail” presented some of the riskiest propositions. Often, as was the case after 2007, banks are required to up their capital reserves in order to help reduce that risk.

The aim of this kind of regulation is to ensure a firm is managed responsibly. When capital reserves are raised, it’s typically done to protect the bank and its customers. However, it also serves the important function of alleviating some of the burden placed by the cost of deposit insurance. Since the government is liable for that, it’s a good way to help put some distance between risk and the taxpayer who would pay for it.

Financial firms typically express these numbers as economic capital, which helps to represent the amount of risk a bank can take on to ensure that it will function under a failing system.

The most comprehensive accords used in the regulation of reserve requirements are the Basel Accords, named after the city in Switzerland where the accords were drafted. We are currently on Bazel III, which is scheduled to be phased out between now and 2019.

It’s important to note that regulation of this type has to be carefully balanced to ensure the opposite doesn’t happen. Capital regulations are meant to keep banks whole. Today, we are seeing some of those regulations contributing to the dissolution of larger companies to pave way for several smaller entities.


Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.

The 5 best money management advice for newlyweds

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Once the wedding and the honeymoon period is over, newlyweds have face living together as a couple. Some couples may follow their own way of managing their finances, which may go against your spouse’s. This can cause a lot of friction between couples, which can then lead to lies and overspending. Money management done as a couple creates a level of trust and security that can strengthen a marriage.

Start talking

Start talking about finances before you get married. talk about how much your earnings are, how much debt you have accumulated, how much you spend and what you spend on in a month.

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What are your goals

Make sure you and your spouse discuss your financial goals for the future. This involves subjects like changing your career, retirement, savings, investments and starting a family. For example if you want to purchase your own home in 5 years, let your spouse know that you would like to work towards this goal.

Bank accounts

Will you maintain your individual bank accounts or create a joint account or both?. If you opt for maintaining individual accounts, you may find that expenses cannot be easily tracked. Many successful couples work with individual and joint accounts. Usually the joint account is used for common household utilities and big ticket items that will be used by both parties.

Create an emergency fund

It’s important to have an emergency fund that can be used for unexpected expenses, for example family illness, loss of job or a home repair. Make sure you discuss how much you would like to put away and how much each individual is expected to invest relative to their income.

Senator William Roth’s IRA Plan

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By Phin Upham

Many of the retirement plans currently put into action involve something called a Roth IRA. The Roth IRA is a unique savings vessel that gives Americans the opportunity to contribute their after-tax spending toward their retirement savings plan. This was a major change from the traditional IRA, which allowed savings, but not tax-free withdrawals.

The bottom line for many Americans is that saving is quite difficult. Most brick and mortar banks offer a paltry return on savings accounts, and taxes will cripple whatever small earnings those lower-income Americans might get through traditional means. The Roth IRA provides an important vessel with some strict limitations. Direct contributions may be withdrawn tax-free at any point in time. Rollover can also be withdrawn, provided the account owner is at least 59 ½ years of age. A Roth IRA’s assets can also be passed down to heirs. There are numerous tax advantages that come with a Roth IRA as well.

However, Roth IRA funds cannot be used as loan collateral. Eligibility for contribution also phases out after certain financial limits are met. Congress can also change the rules regarding tax-free withdrawals, which puts some of those savings accounts at significant risk depending on the state of the national deficit.

The sponsor of the bill was the late Delaware Senator William Roth, who championed the bill. Firs introduced in 1989 as the Packwood-Roth Plan, it was initially referred to as an IRA Plus. The limit of $2,000 was proposed.

Eight years later, Senator Roth championed the new bill as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997.


Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or LinkedIn page.

3 Credit Card Budgeting Tips to Abide By

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Most people give you very different answers when you ask them how they use their credit cards.

Also, it’s common that a number of them will admit that they have trouble managing their accounts apart from debt.

Here are 3 credit card budgeting tips to abide by:

1: Avoid spending more than you have

Credit cards are usually a line of credit that is offered to customers. In other words, money that they do not have. Yet it is this that is the root cause of debt. So, keep the amount of the outstanding balance below your available funds. This will help you to pay it off fully and on time. This way, your credit card becomes a method of payment and nothing more. Best part: you will never incur interest and debt as a result.

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2: Check balances regularly

To make purchases, credit cards offer the best security and convenience. Given how easy it is to use a credit card, people often lose track of their spending. This is why they are shocked when the monthly statement arrives. While it was not possible to check your balance until the monthly statement came, now you should be able to do this using your online account. Smartphone apps are also provided for your to check your transactions easily too. The reason why you should check your balance is because you’ll know how much you are spending too.

3: Pay off your balance early and often

If you are already in debt, then make your payments as early as possible. This will reduce your charges because it is calculated based on your average monthly balance. Apart from this, you can also make a couple of payments every month if you wish. This will work out for you if you are receive a pay check every two weeks.

The Classification of Construction Claims

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Claims in the construction industry have been increasing in popularity due to the complexity of building projects. It’s more or less become common in the working environment, unfortunately. Construction claims consultants have become invaluable due to the upward trend of drafting claims for the many inevitable faults in a contract.

 

There are various ways to classify a construction claim, each one specifically targeting a certain area of the project. This categorization helps the construction claims management aspect by maintaining a well-organized plan.

 

Contractual claims primarily deal with terms within the contract. Such things as: delays, valuation, and variation. Extra-contractual claims deal with a breach of contract. You can expect to see this type of claim filed if a project required more work because of the client providing defective products. Lastly, ex-gratia claims are drafted when the contractor believes that there is a justified call for action based on moral grounds. For example, if material prices were to suddenly increase; causing the contractor to go over the allotted budget, he could seek out a construction claims expert to have them draft a claim requesting the funds needed to resume the project.

 

Consulting and hiring a construction claims consultant is recommended to help speed up the claim process. Also, by ensuring the claim is accurate and well-managed, there will be a noticeable difference in how effective it will be in the long run.

 

The scale of projects has become larger – with that brings a larger pricing structure to work with. Legal approaches, by both owners and contractors, have become more policy-stricken and reliant on claims and claim management.

3 Things to Consider Before Getting A Short-Term Small Business Loan

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It might be easy to get a short-term small business loan but there’s no doubt that it can turn out to be far more expensive than traditional loans.

The application for such a loan is usually done through a broker and the money is deposited into your account within a few days. You pay the loan back in a year either by daily or monthly payments.

Here are 3 things to remember before signing on the dotted line for this type of loan:

eharprefinance1: Check for fees

It’s vital that you know what additional fees you have to pay when you obtain the loan. In some cases, money lenders charge fees for a loan upfronts. Others will charge if you set up an automatic payments or miss a payment in the future. Check for these fees and how much it will cost too.

2: Know the APR

It must be pointed out that many money-lenders do not inform their clients about annual percentage rates for the loan products that they offer. For your benefit, if you do know the APR, this can help you to compare the cost of the loan to others. Also, if you want to know how much you can borrow based on the monthly payments that you can afford, there are a number of online calculators available online.

3: Check if they report to credit bureaus

It’s been known in the past that a number of money lenders do no report loan information to credit bureaus. This is despite the small business paying the loan off in full. Of course, without this option, a small business cannot build up credit in order to qualify for a traditional loan. Don’t get caught off-guard – check whether they report information before you do anything else.