Crowded: Easy and Secure Banking for Student Groups
Student groups, sororities, and fraternities have been around for centuries, yet it seems that the banks haven’t caught up with their needs yet. Business banking doesn’t offer the flexibility and ease of use that our student clubs need. Why is it so hard to manage student group finances? And is there a solution?
1. Slow Access to Funds
One of the major issues with banking for student clubs is the allocation of funds. Aside from the cash box, the treasurer of the club is typically the only one with access to finances via a debit card. Group chairs are generally given a budget and will make purchases with their own money then submit the receipts for reimbursement later.
One issue with this is the slow access to funds. Not all chairs will have the available funds to make the required purchases, especially if it is rush season and there are tons of events to organize. A delayed reimbursement process could result in a chair being hundreds of dollars out of pocket for the club’s expenses. Some societies use bank checks for reimbursements, which can take days to clear.
Conventional banks have little flexibility when it comes to banking for clubs. While businesses have secondary credit cards, most student club banking services are restricted to debit cards. This means that the treasurer has to hand over the main bank card if a member needs access to funds. Hardly an efficient or secure process.
2. Possibility of Fraud
Fraud and embezzlement are, unfortunately, a common complaint in student societies. When it comes to banking for Greek Life, accounts and cards are often issued in the name of the officers. This means that when there is a change of officers, the bank has to be notified to transfer ownership to the new officer.
It also means that an officer— or anybody who has hold of the card —has full control over funds. Reddit is full of horror stories about members who made off with society savings at the end of the school year.
For associations with multiple chapters, banking for chapters can present even more of an issue as chapter banking is not exactly transparent. You have to trust presidents and treasurers to manage the finances for their respective chapters and it can often be too late when you reconcile bank statements and discover discrepancies in the accounts. Even if things run cleanly and smoothly, reconciling expenses and tracking their reimbursement from a hundred different members’ personal accounts is perhaps the biggest nightmare.
3. Overdue Payments
While student associations are a family, they need to be run like a business as well. The bane of banking for associations is often the lack of cashflow. Students are not the most organized bunch and paying their club or fraternal dues can be the least pressing of their numerous commitments. Therefore, a treasurer will need to develop a thick skin when chasing up bills.
Billing members is a large part of any executive’s banking duties. It can be difficult to ask your friends for money, especially when they paint you as the bad guy. But, regardless of your fellow members’ financial woes, your organization stalls without funds. Keeping track of payments and chasing up overdue payments can be stressful and messy, but it is an essential part of the job for e-board members..
Crowded.me is a mobile-first banking service designed specifically for sororities, fraternities and student clubs. Crowded digitizes your society’s financial transactions, allowing you to track expenses and make payments easily. Treasurers even have a dedicated portal to track accounts and payments in one place.
Remember how annoying it can be to allocate funds? Crowded allows treasurers to issue digital debit cards to society members so you can keep your main card safe and secure. Individual users can request funds and have them loaded onto their one-time digital debit card. No more out of pocket purchases that upset your peers, and no more tedious reporting for you!
Best of all, the member app comes with payment reminders, members are sent push notifications every day after a payment due date until the payment is settled, so say goodbye to those awkward social situations.
Crowded is better banking for clubs and groups. A one-stop-shop to incorporate, bank, track budgets, collect payments, apply for grants, allocate funds and file taxes. Let Crowded handle the bureaucratic and financial headaches, so that you can remain focused on the important work you do for your members and for society!
With Crowded’s rich suite of customizations and permissions organizations of any size and budget can build a multisided platforms with embedded banking for both members and executives, chapters and regional, national or campus governing bodies. Let Crowded do the heavy lifting and focus on enriching the life of your chapter!
Reviewing the Recent Google Page Experience Desktop Update
As the undisputed leader of the search engine market, Google has always been at the forefront of defining criteria that help improve the user experience; with the latest addition being the Google page experience for desktops. Google originally announced this a year ago and now has officially confirmed that the update rollout will be complete by the end of March 2022.
SEOs and webmasters are no strangers to Google’s frequent algorithm updates. Some even posit that search engine optimization is dead because of the constant changes in the inner workings of Google Search. But according to King Kong, the highest converting traffic still comes from Google’s organic listings. The impact of the most recent change, however, could be far-reaching including your website’s PageRank and traffic.
Google has stated that the page experience for the desktop will be based on the same set of signals that were originally introduced last year for mobile. So, what does this mean for businesses based on the information we have?
Page Experience Breakdown
In 2020, Google announced that they were about to define a new set of signals to measure the quality of the users’ experience with a webpage. These metrics would include all aspects of how users interact with a given webpage and how well it meets their expectations.
When Google revealed these signals, some of them like fast loading times and mobile-friendliness were long-known in the industry and many businesses had adjusted to them already. However, some were new criteria defined to better measure things like interactivity, visual stability, and speed. Google called them Core Web Vitals. Now that we know these metrics are being applied to desktops, let’s take a look at each to see what they measure and how improving them will increase the visibility of our website in search.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
The Largest Contentful Paint is about how fast a webpage is perceived to be loaded by the user. As such, it focuses on the elements that users can see on the screen. The goal is to measure how quickly the user can access the main content of a given page.
For this purpose—as the name suggests—Google has come up with a solution that measures the loading time of the largest image or text block on the page. In order to be considered good in this regard, a website should aim to have an LCP of 2.5 seconds or less. Anything between 2.5 to 4.0 seconds needs improvement and pages with an LCP of over 4.0 seconds are considered to be poor-performing.
First Input Delay (FID)
First Input Delay was defined to weed out unresponsive websites. It aims to measure how responsive a given page feels to the users when they try to interact with it.
FID does this by calculating the time it takes for a webpage to respond to an action a user has taken. An example of this would be the duration of time from the moment you click on a button or submit a form until the moment the page starts (emphasis on the start) to process it. An FID of 100 milliseconds is considered to be highly responsive and an FID of over 300 milliseconds is considered to be sluggish and poor.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Unlike the other two Web Vital scores that focus on speed, Cumulative Layout Shift targets visual stability. Sometimes the pages we visit start to shift and move around out of nowhere while we are in the middle of reading content or clicking on a link or button. These unexpected movements can be downright annoying or sometimes even result in actions we never intended to do. We may not experience it too often compared to the other problems we mentioned earlier but when it happens, it is detrimental to the user experience. CLS measures how often it happens to the visitors of a website.
It is imperative that businesses make sure they are meeting these requirements to the best of their capabilities in order to get good Core Web Vital scores as part of their page experience score.
Another signal that complements the Core Web Vitals is the HTTPS requirement. This is a security protocol that protects the data transferred between the user and the site’s server. Security is a top priority for Google because they do not want to rank unsafe websites and risk compromising user data.
HTTPS encryption helps prevent data interception and modification from attackers and provides authentication mechanisms that ensure users are communicating with the intended server.
No Intrusive Interstitials
Intrusive interstitials are pop-ups or content displayed over an expected page. We all have had this experience where we go to a website and are bombarded with different banners that obscure the website’s content. In these situations, we have no option other than clicking off of them which is intrusive and hinders the user experience.
So, when websites want to use attention grabbers such as slide-ins, pop-ups, or exit intent banners, they need to implement them in ways that don’t frustrate users by preventing them from accessing website content aggressively.
MTHFR Mutations: All You Need to Know
The acronym MTHFR may seem amusing, but the effects of the associated genetic mutation can be serious. Although it is relatively common, MTHFR mutations and their related health risks are still being researched. Here is what we currently know about MTHFR gene mutations and how they could affect the people who have them.
What is MTHFR?
MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme that is produced by the gene of the same name. MTHFR interacts with folate (vitamin B9) to break down the amino acid homocysteine. Once broken down, homocysteine is converted by the body into methionine, which is used in many important processes as such protein building.
Just like any gene, the MTHFR gene is susceptible to variants or mutations. All of us carry two MTHFR genes—one inherited from each parent. Therefore, people can have no variants, a variant in only one gene (heterozygous), or variants in both genes (homozygous).
C677T and A1298C are the two most common variants of the MTHFR gene and the subject of active research. Scientists estimate that approximately 25 percent of Hispanic Americans and 10-15 percent of Caucasian Americans have homozygous C677T variants, meaning that the biological effects that result from this mutation can have widespread consequences.
Conditions Linked to MTHFR Mutation
On the whole, an MTHFR mutation can cause the associated enzyme to function poorly or not at all. This can lead to the body being unable to break down homocysteine efficiently, resulting in elevated levels of the amino acid in the blood. It is believed that being heterozygous is less likely to lead to severe health issues than being homozygous.
Exceptionally high levels of homocysteine (hyperhomocysteinemia) cause folate levels in the body to be depleted. This can impede normal biological functions such as red blood cell production, cell repair, and DNA synthesis. It can also contribute to some severe medical conditions.
As studies into MTHFR is still ongoing, there is no definite proof of the diseases that MTHFR mutations can cause directly. However, some conditions are associated with MTHFR mutations and hyperhomocysteinemia, including hypertension, blood clots, heart disease, psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, and certain forms of cancer.
In addition, MTHFR mutation is a risk factor that can lead to recurrent miscarriages, preeclampsia, or infants developing a neural tube defect such as anencephaly or spina bifida. Although neural tube defects are rare (0.1-0.2%), studies suggest that mothers with homozygous C677T variants are twice as likely to have a baby with a neural tube defect.
Testing for MTHFR Mutations
It is not standard screening procedure to test for MTHFR mutations. Furthermore, the value of a positive MTHFR variant result is up for debate as there is no consensus in the medical community about its direct implications. However, the MTHFR genotype test may help your doctor to figure out if your condition is related to your genetics.
An MTHFR genotype test may be recommended by your doctor if you have elevated levels of homocysteine with no discernable cause or if your homocysteine levels cannot be controlled with supplementation. You may also be advised to take the test if you or your family have a medical history of cardiovascular diseases at a young age.
Living with MTHFR
For most people, minor folate deficiencies caused by MTHFR malfunctions can be corrected by taking standard supplements. However, if your positive MTHFR mutation test result is accompanied by hyperhomocysteinemia and proven vitamin deficiencies, your doctor may suggest other medications or treatments to target certain diseases or disorders.
You should also consider changing your lifestyle to lower your homocysteine levels. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that contains folate-rich whole foods like dark leafy greens and lentils. Stay away from toxins like cigarettes and alcohol if possible. Support your body’s natural elimination pathways by staying hydrated and getting plenty of exercise.
People who suspect that they have mood and mental imbalances due to MTHFR variations should take measures to manage their stress. Adequate sleep, frequent exercise, and spending time in nature can help to improve your headspace. Relaxing activities like meditation can help you to decompress, stay grounded in the present, and relieve anxiety and stress.
Sometimes, standard supplements and natural management techniques are simply not enough to offset the effects of an MTHFR deficiency. Certain versions of synthetic folate (folic acid) may not only be ineffective but counterproductive. In that case, you should add high-quality methylfolate supplements to your daily nutritional regime.
Methylfolate, also known as L-methylfolate, is the biologically active form of folate. This means that this compound has a proven capability to stimulate a biological reaction in your body. When you consume folic acid supplements or dietary folate, these compounds go through a long metabolic process and eventually become methylfolate.
If you suspect that you have an MTHFR mutation, taking a proprietary methylfolate supplement may address imbalances and alleviate perplexing symptoms that you have been experiencing for years. You cannot avoid your genetics but you can manage your condition. With a healthy lifestyle and careful supplementation, living with MTHFR is a walk in the park.
4 Tips to Relocate Smoothly During COVID
It’s final – you are moving. While you’re excited to start at the new job awaiting you in another state, uprooting your entire life is not easy, especially as the COVID situation and regulations are rapidly changing. Here are four reminders to help you relocate smoothly and in good health during the pandemic.
Get All The Help You Need
Moving is challenging; even shifting your items through the door can be a headache! Engaging professional cross country movers can help you relieve the immense stress of figuring out how to move everything alone.
Get help to pack, store your belongings, and remove unwanted items from your home with minimal hassle. Outsourcing the tricky, laborious tasks early in your preparation can free up your time and energy to complete other personal tasks that you can’t delegate to others.
Moving doesn’t only tire you physically but mentally and emotionally too. Despite the constant self pep talk, you can’t shake off the nagging feeling that you haven’t added a particular task to your to-do list. You also find yourself doubting your decision from time to time, wondering if you can adapt to a new environment and support yourself financially there.
But preparing for a move will leave you with little time and energy to spend on your loved ones, making the preparation more isolating and distressing for you. Rallying your family and friends to help pack your belongings, accompany you on your errands or deliver your boxes for donation, can help support you emotionally and help you to stay on track with your preparation.
Transfer or Look for New Utility Providers
Check with your existing utility providers if they are available in your new state. This list includes your Internet service, water, and electricity. Besides informing them about your move, you should also schedule an installation date or look for new providers in your new state altogether.
The expenses you will incur for the move are hefty, but you can start saving on your future expenses even before the move. Review the utilities you have now; you may want to stop your cable TV subscription for good or change to a more affordable Internet service plan that better suits your usage.
Besides ensuring that you aren’t incurring extra costs for utilities, having the essential utilities up and running at your new home can create a warm welcome and ease you into unpacking and organizing your belongings over the next few days and weeks.
You won’t have to worry about not having water or electricity to prepare simple meals or an Internet connection to troubleshoot (every answer is an online search away!) and keep up to speed with the latest news and health regulations.
Sort Out Your Personal Documents
Regulations differ from state to state. Before moving, check if you have completed the necessary paperwork for entry. In particular, ensure that you meet the vaccination requirements ahead of your move. If you are on any long-term medication, stock up in advance to keep up with your regular prescription while looking for a new health practitioner.
Unpacking and organizing your new home can come with its fair share of cuts and scratches; pack some basic first-aid equipment to treat any wounds during the move. Update your health insurance coverage to ensure that your plan is in force even after moving across states. This will help defray any health-related expenses you might incur.
Besides your health-related documents, you may also need to update other essential personal documents, including your mail and licenses. If you haven’t already done so, differentiate the documents you can update before and after your move. Creating two separate lists will help you focus on what you can do now and plan for what you can only do after moving.
Before moving, update your new address with the postal service and government agencies. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on important mail such as your Social Security and bank letters. After moving, you may also need to register for a new driver’s license or pet license if you have pets in tow.
Honor The Process
Preparing to move can be overwhelming as you race against time to complete your to-do list. Instead of powering through when you are tired, taking a 10-minutes breather or calling it a day can clear your mind and sustain your energy to tackle your to-do list more effectively. Prioritizing your health during the preparation can also prevent you from falling sick, setting you back in your move.
As you move out of a home where you have spent most of your life and start anew in an unfamiliar environment, savor the moving process. The transition is not any less important than your final destination. Take stock of your growth and appreciate what you have as you transit from home to home.