Money & Relationships: What to do if your adult children ask for money

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Money is known to mar even the best of relationships. The conflict over cash could invade the privacy of spouses over something as innocuous as spending habits, rend the sibling bond over a legacy leading to legal disputes, or rip apart a friendship over borrowed money. While we do not aim to span the legal scope of financial disputes in this column, we will try to deal with financial dilemmas and reduce money-induced friction in relationships, be it family, friends or colleagues.

Should you ask your colleague to return the money he borrowed and forgot? What do you do if your relative asks you to be a guarantor to a loan? What if your sibling wants you to be a partner in his startup?

In this new series, we will help you tackle the awkwardness in a relationship caused by money. To start with, we explain what you should do if your adult child seeks financial aid. Should you give him whatever he asks for without considering its impact on your own financial situation? Or should you simply decline? Here are the six questions that will help you take a decision.

1. Is it a one-time help or has it been a frequent demand?
Your decision should be based on the child’s track record regarding such demands. If this is the first time or a rare instance that he is asking for money, you could consider it. If you know him to be facing a financial crisis, or is in a phase of life where your assistance could set him up professionally, you can offer the money, but on the condition that it is returned in a pre-determined time frame. If, on the other hand, this is only one in a long list of monetary demands that have sprung up from time to time ever since he achieved adulthood, it’s high time you put an end to it.

2. Is it likely to impact your retirement?
This is probably the most crucial question to ask yourself. If you do not have spare cash and dipping into your savings could slash your retirement corpus considerably, you should politely turn down the request. No startup or business venture is worth jeopardising your retirement.

If the child needs the money to tide over a crisis, suggest alternate sources of funding: he can monetise his assets by taking a loan against his securities, insurance or gold; he can sell his less important personal assets; use his credit card to meet an emergency; or as a last resort, take a personal loan. He will probably have enough time to shore up his depleted resources, but you may not be able to do so if you have a few years left for retirement. Also, he can take a loan to meet his financial needs; you can’t do the same to fund your retirement.

3. Is the money for a life-threatening situation or buying an asset?
If it’s the former, no parent can say ‘no’. In case of a medical emergency, parents would willingly empty out their coffers for their progeny. A better option is to be prepared for medical crises and advise the child to buy adequate health insurance. If such an option doesn’t exist, try to monetise your assets first.

If, on the other hand, the money is for acquiring a big financial asset like a house or a car, make sure it is offered as a loan and that you retain the joint ownership for the specified asset. Also lay down the terms of the loan clearly, with no ambiguity over the amount, time frame or ownership.

4. Is the money to be given as loan?
Except for medical emergencies, all funds offered as assistance to an adult offspring should ideally be in the form of loans. It is likely that you have already spent a small fortune on educating your children or for their weddings. If you have empowered the child to earn his own living and establish himself professionally, there should be few occasions for him to run to you for financial help. Avoid being the financial crutch for your child and let him meet his own financial challenges or find solutions to the crises he is facing.

5 Should you have a written agreement?
If the sum you are offering your child as a loan is large, make sure that you draft a legal agreement, clearly delineating the loan terms, including the purpose of the loan, exact amount or principal being offered, interest rate, time frame for repayment, options in case of defaults, and any other conditions you want outlined.

Even if the loan amount is not big, have a written contract in place to avoid family disputes later on. Both the parties should have a copy of the agreement and it should ideally be framed with the help of, and in the presence of, a lawyer. Do not be carried away by emotion and treat it as a business transaction to avoid an unlikely fallout at a later date.

6 Are the other siblings aware of it?
While the level of privacy involving the financial help to an adult child may depend on the dynamics of the family concerned, it is advisable to keep the other siblings in the know to avoid family disputes over inheritance. Also, if you are not in a position to offer the entire sum yourself, the other siblings could be asked to join in and reduce your financial burden.

Make sure, however, that all the transactions are in writing and all the parties have a copy of the agreement. In fact, you should also include the details of the loan in your will, so that if you die before the money is repaid, the amount can be deducted from the child’s inheritance and there is no ill-will involving other siblings.

If you have a wealth whine, write to us…
All of us have been in a financial dilemma when it comes to relationships. How do you say no to a friend who wants you to invest in his new business venture? Should you take a loan from your married brother? Are you concerned about your wife’s impulse buying? If you have any such concerns that are hard to resolve, write in to us at [email protected] with ‘Wealth Whines’ as the subject.

Disclaimer: The advice in this column is not from a licensed healthcare professional and should not be construed as psychological counselling, therapy or medical advice. ET Wealth and the writer will not be responsible for the outcome of the suggestions made in the column.

[“source=economictimes.indiatimes.”]

Your apps are spying on you

Awareness around data integrity is improving every day, but are your efforts to shore up your sensitive personal information in vain?

Unfortunately, the answer appears to be yes.

Have you ever had a phone conversation about a brand or product, only to hop onto your browser later that day and be inundated with ads for the same product?

It’s enough to make anyone do a double take, and it’s been the source of an old legend: our phones record our conversations.

In their 2018 study, undergraduate Elleen Pan and doctoral candidate Jingjing Ren set out to test this very theory, analysing over 17,000 of the most popular Android apps.

The result?

9,000 of those apps had the potential to be unfaithful to the user.

While no evidence was found of recorded conversations, the apps in question took screenshots of activity before forwarding them onto third parties.

Oh dear.Oh dear.

That’s just a tad horrifying.

David Choffnes, who was one of two computer science professors who oversaw the study, commented on the findings: “We found that thousands of popular apps have the ability to record your screen and anything you type.

“That does include your username and password, because it can record the characters you type before they turn into those little black dots.”

“We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack,” Choffnes said, “and we were surprised to find several needles.”

Although the privacy breaches over the course of the study were largely benign, it drives home just how easy it could be for your phone to be exploited for cash.

“This opening will almost certainly be used for malicious purposes, it’s simple to install and collect this information,” said Christo Wilson, the other computer science professor on the research team.

“And what’s most disturbing is that this occurs with no notifications to or permission by users.

“In the case we caught, the information sent to a third party was zip codes, but it could just as easily have been credit card numbers.”

It should be noted that while the study was only conducted on Android apps, the study concluded that iOS apps were likely guilty of similar breaches.

So, how do we combat this betrayal?

Android Q teases new and improved privacy controls

While there’s no quick fix for this loophole, greater app security is a major point of emphasis in the upcoming Android Q release.

In the new edition of the popular OS, a status bar feature displays when sensitive phone permissions are in use and which apps are responsible.

Source: arstechnica Source: arstechnica

Among these fresh features will be a list that displays:

  • Apps by most frequently accessed permission
  • Apps by most permission use
  • Apps that gained recent permission access

This will be a significant upgrade over Android’s current permission screen, which is a simple series of on/off switches.

Other improvements include greater visibility on why apps need certain permissions and GPS services being actively turned off when an app is running in the background.

In theory, these updates should help users make informed decisions around which apps could be up to no good.

[“source=finfeed”]

How to encourage your new hires to be creative

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In today’s work environment, you need more from an employee than just strong technical skills. Sure, software engineers need to be familiar with the appropriate programming language, and data analysts need to know their way around a spreadsheet. But these things alone won’t make them effective. They need to know how to think outside the box.

But how do you cultivate creativity, and keep it growing among your new hires? After all, good ideas don’t just come out of thin air. Here are some practices that you might want to try.

1) Explain your thinking style

Not everyone will think the way you do–and when you work with people, you need to be clear about how everyone works. If you are a backward thinker, you begin at the end and work backward to the beginning. You define your goal clearly and you focus on that exact goal and move forward in well-defined steps.

If you are a forward thinker, on the other hand, you begin with a rough idea, and you move forward by reacting and correcting until you arrive with something concrete.

You’ll avoid frustration when you explain how you think. I once hired a talented young researcher. Every time she brought in her work, I responded by asking her to look at the problem another way. After her third presentation, she said to me, “I can’t work with you anymore. You don’t know what you want. I’m quitting.”

That was a wake-up call for me. From that point on, I make sure to explain my thinking style to everyone that I work with–and that meant going back and forth until we get there. When I do this, I create a platform for creative collaborations–by enabling others to work in a way that suits their thinking style, while making sure that they understand mine.

2) Make sure to challenge different creative muscles

In Lateral Thinking—a book about unleashing creativity–physician and psychologist Edward De Bono likened creativity to pouring hot wax into a block of wax. The first time you pour, you create a new hole–the second time you pour, your wax goes into the same hole, only deeper.

Sometimes it takes experimentation to elicit creativity, and that means pouring new holes into the wax. Don’t just ask your new hires to come up with three versions of a marketing plan. Ask for a strategic roadmap or ideas on making your website user-friendly. This gives your new hires a chance to exercise a different creative muscle, and they can learn what it takes for them to come up with a great idea.

3) Focus on what’s missing, not what’s wrong

When you watch yourself on video, you will most likely fixate on a particular flaw. You may obsess about how your smile seems crooked, how often you blink, how many “ahs” and “ers” you say in a minute. So what happens as a result of this kind of analysis? You pause, you clamp your jaws, you pop your eyes open, you have long, empty pauses. Focusing on flaws doesn’t work.

You have to look instead at what’s missing. If you speak with too many “ahs” and “ers” what’s missing is a connection between your speaking and your breathing, not that you’re stopping too much. You need to adopt the same kind of mind-set with your team’s creativity. Don’t focus on what they’re doing wrong. Instead, give them ideas on what they can do.

Whether you’re giving feedback or delivering a message, you have to approach it in a more–not less– perspective. As one of my clients explained, “When my boss asked us how we were going to cut costs, my colleagues presented their cost-cutting plans. I told him how I was going to sell more.” That client is one of his company’s top sales leaders.

4) Give feedback at a concept level

When you’re giving feedback to a new hire, you have to leave room for them to solve the problem. For example, suppose you walked into a room that had a fireplace at one end and two chairs against the back wall. When you say, “That’s ridiculous. Why don’t you move your chairs closer to the fire?” you’re jumping into solution mode.

Supposing instead you said, “I’d like you to consider how to optimize the experience of being in this room.” Now you’re challenging someone to think about what to do, and empowering them to come up with their own solutions. Your team might find the answers from the get-go, and you might need to tell them so. That’s okay, as long as you give them the space to be creators and problem solvers, not just doers.

5) Expect mistakes

Years ago, I was working with a leader from Toyota. He was talking about a discussion he’d had with a visitor from Ford, “I told him we have a system when employees notice a problem, they stop the line. We had 47 stops last month.” The Ford leader was impressed with the Andon process and adopted it right away. Then he came back a month later and proudly announced to my client, “We only had seven problems last month.”

My Toyota client explained that he’d missed the point. When you focus too much on avoiding mistakes, you’re actually blocking your creativity because you operate from the position of fear. You need to think of mistakes as a chance to fine-tune and improve the process. After all, creativity often comes from trial and error and you need to give your team the psychological space to do that.

Creativity doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. Often times, it requires trying different things before landing on something that works. Expect the same when it comes to your new hires. Be patient with the process, and you might just end up with something amazing.

[“source=medicalnewstoday]

Three Ways To Understand And Apply Social Media Insights To Your Business

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The internet has impacted the way most, if not all, industries have evolved. Keeping up with industry trends and available platforms is a job in and of itself. In particular, social media is shaping the way many companies engage with customers and drive sales.

In the education industry, the internet has revolutionized the way people learn and how they interact with their peers. Based on my experience working with social media influencers to engage students, I’d like to share three tips for entrepreneurs in any industry.

Learn how your target audience is using social media.

You can never stay hot for too long in the world of social media. One minute Snapchat is the app of the hour, the next it’s Instagram, and the cycle continues. Social media has secured credibility in recent years as a trusted source of information not only for news but also as a platform for consumers to engage with companies and exchange information.

My company’s target audience is students, and we have found that students today use social media in ways that are foreign to generations that did not grow up in the digital age. For example, “study with me” videos have become a popular internet sensation among youth. My company decided to capitalize on this opportunity by partnering with YouTube influencers to learn how students are using YouTube to study; we then applied that information to our platform to better help our users succeed academically.

Understanding how your target audience is using and benefiting from social media is critical to success. This applies to any business. Many companies are under the impression that all there is to social media is a simple press of a button to post content, but that’s not where the value lies. Building your presence is important, but understanding why you have that presence will help you properly utilize your channels and benefit in multiple ways.

To do so, connect with your target audience and customers. Create surveys, send personal emails or even make phone calls to understand how your customers are using social media and in what ways your business can have a valuable impact. Get a deeper understanding of your audience behavior and which channels you should focus on.

[“source=forbes]