May 28, 2024

Work for yourself? Here's how to get a mortgage loan

If you run your own business — or are a gig worker, freelancer or independent contractor — financing a home could prove challenging. One of the first things lenders look for is a steady, verifiable income. Without a regular paycheck or W-2 statement, it can be harder to prove how much you make, and how reliably you make it. But just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to have a hard time getting a mortgage. 

Learn what's required to get approved for a loan when you’re self-employed by checking out my newest piece for Bankrate, available here.

May 21, 2024

Two-wheeled intensity

Jeff Steber has worn a lot of hats in his life, from carpenter to guitar builder to car customizer. But he’s most proud of his role as founder and CEO of Intense, the bicycle company he launched in 1993. Over the past three decades, Steber and his team have crafted high-caliber mountain bikes—renowned for their innovative designs, choice of materials and components, build quality, speed and durability.

Learn more about Intense and the rugged bikes they craft by reading my newest article for The Costco Connection magazine, available here.

May 16, 2024

Cineversary podcast honors 70th birthday of On the Waterfront

Michael Phillips and Stephen Rebello
In Cineversary podcast episode #70, host Erik Martin lights 70 birthday candles for Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando. Two esteemed guests join him this time around: Stephen Rebello, author of the forthcoming book A City Full of Hawks: On the Waterfront Seventy Years Later; and Michael Phillips, film critic for The Chicago Tribune. Together, they examine why this movie still matters seven decades later, what makes it a movie masterwork, salient themes, and more.

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download, or subscribe to Cineversary wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, Castbox, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at and email show comments or suggestions to

May 8, 2024

Demystifying the facts behind down payment assistance

Down payment assistance programs help aspiring home buyers afford the upfront costs of buying a home. Typically administered by state or local housing finance agencies and nonprofit organizations, DPA programs offer a mix of grants, deferred-payment loans, forgivable loans and mortgage tax credit certificates to eligible buyers.

While DPA programs are common, many buyers are confused about who can qualify for assistance and how they work. To help clear up some of the most persistent down payment assistance program myths, why they endure, and the facts about applying for and getting DPA, read my first article for new client Quicken Loans, available here.

April 29, 2024

Vetting voicebot vulnerability

Alexa, Siri, Google, and other voice assistants are listening to more people than ever before. For proof, consider that the number of US voice assistant users is forecast to exceed 162 million by 2027, up from 145 million in 2023, with around 46 million millennials and 45 million regularly using voice assistants today, according to Insider Intelligence data. Market Research Future expects the voice assistant market to grow to $30.72 billion by 2030.

But note that nearly 7 in 10 consumers worldwide are either somewhat or very concerned about their privacy online, per the IAPP Privacy and Consumer Trust Report 2023, with 57% of consumers believing that AI poses a major threat to their privacy. Many of these worries pertain to the increasingly ubiquitous and pervasive presence of voicebots and voice assistants used by companies, especially in customer service capacities. People are becoming more aware and troubled about the collection, storage, and utilization of their data by corporate America, particularly in terms of data security and privacy.

Learn more about this topic by reading my newest article for Speech Technology Magazine, available here.

April 23, 2024

How to get a car loan

It’s challenging to come up with enough scratch to afford the full price tag on a new or used vehicle. Per Kelley Blue Book’s most recent data, the average transaction price of a new car is $47,401.

Meanwhile, reports that the average price of a used car stands at $27,297. If you’re like many drivers, chances are you’re going to need some financing help in the form of a car loan.

Take the time to better understand how car loans work, the advantages and disadvantages of getting a vehicle loan, eligibility requirements, who offers car loans, steps involved in the process, what to consider carefully before signing on the dotted line, and alternatives to ponder by checking out my latest article on this topic, available here.