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Buying your first home

Looking to buy a new home? Find out 9 common mistakes that could cost you in the long run.
Buying a home is more like buying a used car than renting an apartment. You need to ask questions, look under the hood and take it for a spin. Turn on all the faucets. Flush the toilet. Blast the heat and see what happens.

Gabby Orcutt of Rockton, Pennsylvania, had this epiphany when she bought her house several years ago. She and her husband only did one tour before submitting an offer. During their final walkthrough, two months later, they didn’t actually “walk through.” Instead they only stayed long enough to stock the fridge and fire up the wood-burning stove.

What they discovered after they had finished signing all the closing documents left Orcutt with thousands of dollars in extra repairs and several key pieces of advice, the first of which is: Don’t be afraid to get your nose close to the carpet.

Here’s why, along with eight other things you should know about the home warranties for first buying before you buy your next home – Paint Tutorial

What to know Before Buying a House; this content will help you:
Turn On All 5 Senses
Use Skilled Professionals
Don’t Fall in Love
Don’t Get Pressured
Know What You Can Afford
Search for a House That Fits Your Life
Buy a House You Can Afford Now … and Later
Be Picky When Choosing an Agent
Don’t Set an Unattainable Timeline
When Orcutt and her husband first toured the home they were about to buy, they noticed a strong wood-burning smell, “like a campfire.” But they didn’t think too much of it because, after all, the house had a wood-burning stove. After they closed on the house, however, they started to notice a different odor mixing in with the wood scent. It came, Orcutt realized, from the carpet.

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“It had a urine smell of some kind I couldn’t put my finger on,” says Orcutt. “I don’t know if it was human, mouse or dog.” Any could have been a possibility since the previous owner had a dog and, the Orcutts realized after the fact, a significant mouse problem.

“I tell people now don’t be afraid to get your nose near the carpet,” she says. “Take a flashlight with you and look under the beds. Move furniture around. If the basement is finished, make sure you knock on the walls to see if they sound hollow. Peek up on closet shelves—that’s where we found mouse poop. Open the dishwasher—that’s where we found ants. Open the dryer—that’s where we found ink stains and melted candy wrappers.”

And that wood-burning smell? Turned out that the firebox was cracked and the flue was defective, filling the house with carbon monoxide. “We needed to buy an entire new heating system,” Orcutt says.

Orcutt’s purchase was directly from the seller, so no real estate agents were involved. This saved on commission, but without someone to advise her, Orcutt made two crucial missteps: She didn’t get a home inspection and did not do a full walk-through before closing.

Orcutt doesn’t regret not using a Realtor, but she does regret putting so much trust in the seller. She also regrets not hiring a better lawyer. It turned out their lawyer was also representing the seller, and he never advised them to have the seller sign a disclosure form. That could have given them more legal recourse after the fact when they had to sue the seller regarding the faulty heating system, damaged appliances and rodent problems. Also, the walls, ceilings, and floorings must also be carefully checked as they require a lot of maintenance once damaged. Professionals like Commercial grounds maintenance Bromsgrove and others might be helpful in this, however, it is always better to check them beforehand.

“Don’t be timid, shy or intimidated about the process,” says Orcutt. “You’re going to sink a lot of money into this. Make a smart buying decision and do your homework.”

When shopping for a new home, leave your heart at the door. Love at first sight is so easy, especially when you’re looking at homes that are a step up from where you are now.

I remember distinctly the feeling of “this is my future!” that cascaded upon me when I first walked into my current house. It had everything we needed: a backyard, a garage and tons of natural light. I swooned. By the time we started talking money I was so intoxicated by the idea of me in that house that I glossed over facts, such as that the down payment required might exceed how much we’d earn on the sale of our current home. It somehow seemed inconsequential because I was in love, and that would make it all OK, right?

Wrong. Don’t shop with your heart. Shop with your mind and be guided by your monthly budget. And don’t look at houses that are beyond what you can afford because that’s the quickest path to disappointment.

When we bought our house, our Realtor called us with great news: The perfect house for us was set to go on the market that evening at 5 p.m. We had to drop what we were doing and race to meet her there. When we walked in, the house was definitely a dream. However, it was slightly more than what we’d hoped to pay visit the site for more details

But, as she told us, the resale would be phenomenal. We were only talking a few extra dollars a month in the mortgage payment. The location was perfect. But—gasp—three people had already seen the house before we had set foot inside.

“I’m sure they’ll have an offer by tomorrow morning,” the Realtor said. “If you’re interested, you have to make an offer tonight.”

What? We had barely started looking for houses. While she said the neighborhood was great, we were unfamiliar with it. And yes, the house was nice, but how could we sink all of our money, hopes and dreams into a house we’d seen for 10 minutes?

I still remember dinner that night with my husband. We had a fear-induced fight. The pressure to act was intense. In the end we accepted that we weren’t ready, and that was a hard pill to swallow. But it was the right one. Don’t let anyone or any circumstance pressure you into making what could be a huge mistake.

When we were shopping for our first home, I submitted a prequalification application with an online bank. A representative called me immediately with great news: We qualified for a $250,000 mortgage.

Really? I was amazed. According to our math, when you considered the mortgage amount, taxes and insurance and all our other bills, the most we could afford was $175,000. But the bank was willing to give us so much more, so I must have been wrong.

I called my husband enthusiastically. Fortunately, he was the voice of reason: It doesn’t matter how much money the bank is willing to loan you. What matters is what you are comfortable paying every month, and that number might be much, much lower.

“The bank, the real estate agents, the loan officer, they should not tell you your affordability, you should tell them your affordability,” says Michele Serro, founder and former CEO of

With our first house, my husband and I dreamed of flower beds and sculpted bushes. What we didn’t think about was all the work that would go into maintaining that beauty. We realized quickly that we didn’t want to spend our weekends pulling weeds, and soon the front and backyard became another chore on the list (one that was all-too-often neglected).

Don’t dream of the house you want to live in. Think about what type of house will fit your life. “The first step should be to visualize home ownership,” says Serro. “What type of life are you looking to lead? How long are you going to be there?”

Affording our first house relied strongly on the fact that both of us were working. So when our daughter was born, we had to do some new math, and the numbers didn’t bend the way I hoped they would. I took six months off before realizing that my fantasy stay-at-home mom life was going to dig us deep in debt.

Think about the expenses you might have down the road. Will you have to pay for private school? For a nanny? Your car is paid off now, but how long before you’ll have to replace it with a new one? Make sure your mortgage leaves you with some wiggle room to take on new expenses when necessary and save more in preparation for them.

One day we drove past a house we really wanted to tour. We didn’t have an agent yet, and so we called the number on the sign. Within an hour he had arranged for a showing. He quickly had a list of other houses he thought we should see. “Now we have an agent,” we thought. “That was easy.”

This was truly the wrong way to hire an agent. We hadn’t asked him a single question about his experience (turned out he was brand new to the job) or how many houses he had sold (not many). Our sole criteria was: He’s here and he seems like a nice guy.

“You need to be interviewing these people and asking them the right questions,” says Serro. “Just like I don’t want you to fall in love with the house, I don’t want you to fall in love with an agent because you believe that they are a nice person.”

When looking for a real estate agent, Serro says a personal referral is the best way to start. If that’s not available, ask a prospective agent for a reference or two. Two-thirds of home buyers only interview one agent before hiring her, according to the National Association of Realtors, which is the wrong way to go, according to Serro. She recommends you always interview several agents before settling on one. Ask how many buyers they are currently representing (you don’t want to be one in a herd trying to get her attention) and their work style. For example, if you hate to talk on the phone, make sure your agent is email and text-savvy. And finally ask yourself: Do I like this person?

“On the buying side, I do think that the emotional stuff is important because there’s going to be moments when you feel really down,” says Serro. “You’re going to want someone you trust there to be able to give you the confidence you need.”

You start your home search in May sure that you’ll be in your new home by the time school starts in September. But don’t be surprised when that is not at all the case. The average home search takes 12 weeks, according to the National Association of Realtors. Once your offer is accepted, Serro says to expect a 90 to 120 day wait before you sit at closing with a pen and a huge stack of papers.

So don’t plan too far into the future. If you’re currently renting, go month to month on your lease if possible. It’s better to take your time and find the house that’s right for you than to be forced into something less-than-perfect because you’re operating on someone else’s timeline.

Gold IRA for Kitco Precious Metals

There is no substitute for holding physical precious metals in your IRA.

Conventional IRAs are limited to the usual menu of paper assets – cash, stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Even exchange traded funds focused on gold or silver or mining stocks won’t provide the security investors need in these volatile times.

Banks and brokerages can and do fail. The dollar perpetually declines in purchasing power. Physical bullion endures.

One of the reasons of why they are the best is because not only can you purchase, hold, and sell real precious metals with a tax-advantaged Self-Directed Precious Metals IRA account, but also you can withdraw your bullion and take direct physical possession of it under normal IRA distribution rules.

Few Americans have any idea about these fantastic options, because their brokers have never told them!

How a Gold IRA works:
Step 1:

Choose a custodian and fund your self-directed IRA account — tax free!

There is absolutely no good reason for your IRA to be limited to investments in paper assets.

Conventional banks and brokerages get paid handsomely for trading paper, so they limit their customers’ choices. You can take the exit and get control of your investment choices with a self-directed IRA. Money Metals recommends New Direction IRA (see below) because this trustee company offers the lowest fees and best customer service for our clients. But we can work with any firm providing self-directed accounts – additional companies are listed at the bottom of this page.

New Direction Trust Company (NDTC) is a Self-Directed IRA provider that specializes in holding physical precious metals as well as other assets like real estate and private loans. New Direction allows clients to use a variety of depositories — giving customers more choices than many other trustees do — and still has highly competitive fees (starting at only $75/year). Diligent customer service and quick processing speeds are among New Direction’s core strengths.

Step 2:

Lock pricing on the gold, silver, platinum or palladium bullion you want to hold.

Your IRA may hold a wide array of bullion coins, rounds, and bars offered by Money Metals Exchange. Here is a list of all metals that can legally be held within your Self-Directed IRA account. (No slabbed/graded “rare” coins are allowed, which should not be a concern because they are highly risky and tend to be poor investments.) You’ll receive payment confirmation from Money Metals Exchange and be able to track your shipment all the way to the depository.

Step 3:

Complete your transaction.

We’ll send you confirmation and any other form that needs your signature immediately after we lock your pricing. Simply sign and fax or email the forms back. Your custodian will issue payment for the metals on behalf of your IRA and we’ll ship the metals to the depository you have chosen for safe storage.

We will buy the metals you hold back at any time based on the current spot prices. Investing in beautiful, tangible coins, rounds, and bars in your IRA is the easiest option your broker or financial adviser will NEVER tell you about!

**Please Note: We can partner with ANY self-directed IRA custodian. Here are examples of other firms with which we have worked:

Mountain West IRA
Millennium Trust
IRA Services
Ramsey National Bank
Kingdom Trust Company
Equity Institutional
GoldStar Trust Company
Regardless of which firm you choose as custodian for your IRA account, we can deliver the physical gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion you want – and at great prices!

What is the difference between IRA Approved products and products that are not flagged as IRA Approved?
The IRS mandates that gold held in an IRA be at least .995 pure (.999 or higher for silver). The agency created an exemption to also allow gold American Eagles, minted by the U.S. Mint, which are 22 karat purity (or .9167 pure). Unfortunately, this exemption also includes those scandalously priced “proof” Eagles, a form of Ripoff Gold that unscrupulous dealers pressure IRA customers to buy.

Meanwhile, depositories and IRA custodians generally have more stringent requirements. They often require bars and rounds to carry a mint mark from a COMEX approved refiner or certification that the items were produced by a firm with ISO 9001 quality controls. This measure is intended to protect their customers.

Some items at Money Metals Exchange are designated “IRA Approved” for precious metals backed Individual Retirement Accounts and some are not. This designation is really based on two sets of criteria — one that comes directly from the IRS code governing IRAs and one that comes from the firms that provide storage and IRA custodial services.

Unscrupulous dealers took advantage of customers ordering for their IRA accounts — particularly when the metals were headed into an unallocated or unsegregated type of storage account. Dealers shipped the least desirable and most difficult to market items. IRA orders represented a quick way to offload anything tarnished, scratched, and oddball.

These dealers knew the customer was unlikely to ever actually see the metal they purchased. And, if they did, the dealer could point the finger elsewhere. After all, the metal was delivered back out of an unallocated account, which means it could have originally come from any other dealer and any other customer.

Money Metals Exchange protects your privacyThe “IRA Approved” items at are accepted by all of the major IRA custodians/depositories and meet the IRS requirements.

So, should you limit yourself to “IRA Approved” bullion products? Only if you’re buying specifically for inclusion in an IRA. There are great products including Krugerrands and Pre-1965 90% silver U.S. coins that don’t meet IRA eligibility, but are a cost-effective way to buy the metals. There are also products — 1 oz silver rounds in particular — that often do not carry a mint mark. Your best assurance of quality will be in choosing a reputable dealer.

Why Don’t Financial Advisers Recommend Silver and Gold IRAs?
Very few U.S. investors own even an ounce of gold bullion or silver bullion, so it should come as no surprise that almost none of them know of the various options to hold bullion in an IRA account. The lack of awareness is generally compounded by financial professionals – the very people whose job it is to educate investors.

Most investment advisers tout “diversification” as the ultimate investment strategy, then turn around and limit their clients to IRAs with the traditional menu of nothing but paper investment options – stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Brokers are not anxious to promote true diversification away from these paper assets, as they would lose out on management and/or transaction fees.

Alert investors who are concerned about a portfolio limited to paper assets have a much better option. This option is known as the self-directed IRA.

By giving yourself full authority over your portfolio, you can then invest directly in other things besides registered securities – real estate, privately held companies, and precious metals, for example.

You can take matters into your own hands by opening a self-directed account. In it, you can purchase qualifying silver or gold bars and coins, and get immediate protection from the devaluing dollar in real, tangible metal.

And, when you are ready, you can actually take physical possession of that metal through distributions from the IRA. You completely avoid exposure to the dollar or paper assets denominated in dollars.

Many investors in precious-metals-backed ETFs have been moving out of such proxies and into self-directed IRAs holding physical bullion, stored at facilities of the investors’ choosing. While ETFs offer a few advantages for short-term or high-frequency traders, the risks of holding precious metals ETF shares are increasingly coming to light.

Can You Invest Your 401k in Gold?
You almost certainly won’t be able to buy bullion using funds in a 401(k) plan (unless the plan sponsor has set up a self-directed option, which is extremely rare). However, you may be able to convert some or all of your 401(k) balance into a self-directed IRA – the type of retirement plan you need to hold physical gold and silver. As a rule of thumb, you can make this “rollover” if you are no longer employed by the sponsor of your 401(k). If you are still working for the firm sponsoring your plan, you will be limited to the investment options they have chosen for you.

But just about any conventional IRA, whether Roth or traditional, can be converted to a self-directed account. Switching is easy. Most providers can enroll you right online – no need to print forms, complete them, and then mail them off. That’s it. The provider will work directly with your existing IRA/401(k) custodian to transfer funds.

And it is definitely worth doing. Traditional IRAs are the products of banks and brokerages. They offer the usual lineup of paper assets – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and money markets. Self-directed IRAs don’t just allow you to hold physical gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. They also allow you to hold real estate, shares of an LLC company, promissory notes, and more.

Is Opening a Home Storage IRA Prudent?
No, it’s a bad idea. A small handful of outfits in our industry recently sprang up and started heavily promoting a so-called “self-storage” or “LLC” IRA. The pitch is for you to establish an LLC company to store the metals on behalf of your IRA in your home (or nearby).

At first glance, it sounds like an attractive option. Investors buy metals to increase privacy and control. Some do not want to rely on third-party vaults and would prefer having personal access to their metals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We totally agree with this sentiment when it comes to precious metals that you personally and directly own. But anyone considering this “self-storage IRA” scheme should be extremely careful and aware of the risks.

In short, the scheme appears likely to blow up. The IRS may one day disallow the whole thing and declare taxes immediately due on the entire IRA balance, along with any applicable penalties.

First, a little background on the IRA structure. The IRS requires the assets in your retirement account to be held by a third party.

The intent is to stop account holders from using or accessing IRA assets for personal benefit because doing so would be tantamount to a fully taxable distribution. There are also a number of prohibited transactions and disqualified persons.

The innovation these dealers promote involves IRA holders setting up a stand-alone LLC company which they personally manage. The investor takes possession of the metals on behalf of their IRA rather than personally, thereby supposedly meeting the third-party requirement.

LLC IRA promoters haven’t convinced the IRS or any court that, in the context of precious metals stored at home, the LLC company scheme can be reliably managed to avoid impropriety with regard to IRA rules.

As one expert frames it; “you can own a bakery with your IRA, but you cannot be the baker.” Owning a business with your self-directed IRA is okay. Hiring yourself and paying a salary is a definite no-no. Likewise it is perfectly fine to buy investment real estate, but your IRA cannot purchase your personal residence.

Creating an LLC company to purchase gold and silver coins and then storing them in your home safe – e.g. next to the rifles and some coins you inherited from grandma – hasn’t been found definitively to be a violation of IRS rules, but it sure looks like trouble, particularly because IRS rules do state that IRA assets cannot be commingled with other property.

IRS Has Signaled It Will Disqualify “Home Storage” IRAs
It is easy to imagine the IRS ruling against attempts to store IRA metals at home – nailing people with a huge bill for taxes and penalties. In fact, the agency is now issuing warnings. Laura Saunders of the Wall Street Journal recently covered the topic; “The Internal Revenue Service says it ‘warns taxpayers to be wary of anyone claiming that precious metals held in your IRA can be stored at home or in a safe-deposit box.’”

So, thanks to the recent hype, these schemes are now on the IRS’s radar. Although we are the last ones to say that the IRS is always right in their interpretation of the law, it does appear they will start going after “home storage” IRAs soon. We doubt many of our customers would want to be a test case for this iffy strategy.

Here are some other reasons to tread with caution:

The rules around third-party management and control of IRA assets are highly complicated, and it would be easy to trip up and violate them.
There can be significant costs of setting up and maintaining the LLC’s operating agreements and state LLC filings.
Costs could be higher if the holder takes a bit more prudent course and has prospective transactions reviewed by an attorney and/or CPA.
There is currently a lack of clarity on what coins, rounds, and bars can and cannot be held in the LLC IRA, even assuming the structure itself withstands legal muster.
If that still isn’t enough to give investors pause, we are also troubled by what we discovered when looking into some of the people who are aggressively marketing the “home storage” IRA scheme. Some of the characters involved are connected to shady, or even failed, rare coin dealers. They may tell you they have several letters from attorneys they’ve paid which declare the scheme is perfectly legal. They will charge what always amounts to huge set up fees. And they may try to sell you some of their overpriced “proof” coins to hold in the account.

But they may not mention any tricky nuances about what metal products might be allowed, assuming any would be allowed at all. They won’t focus on the complicated reporting and file keeping that is required in order to have a reasonable chance of defending the scheme against an IRS attack. And they certainly won’t take the fall for people when the IRS disqualifies the scheme and demands tax and penalty on one’s entire precious metals holding.

In our view, the hype underplays – or outright ignores – the potential risks. Investors should only go down this road with their eyes wide open. And do so only after consulting your own attorney and accountant.

If you actually want to explore this, please do some additional due diligence. And don’t limit your investigation to IRS rules and guidance. Check out your prospective dealer as well. The internet is a great tool. You can check the Secretary of State’s website in the dealer’s home state to find out how long a firm has been in business. Look for the firm’s owners and key personnel, then do an internet search on those names.

If you do that, don’t be surprised to find complaints, lawsuits, or ties to a precious metals dealer that went out of business while facing a prosecution for deceptive business practices. You can also find out what people are saying about their experiences with the dealer online – at the BBB’s website and elsewhere.

There really is only one right way to own physical metal in your IRA. Choose a custodian and set up a self-directed account, purchase bullion from a reputable dealer, and store it in a professional third party vault. Many people can even find such a facility close to home.

At Money Metals, we help people to establish proper gold and silver IRAs daily. At a minimum, they save a fortune in coin premiums and set-up fees, and they are likely to save a whole lot more in taxes and penalties.

How Can I Avoid Taxes and Penalties for with Liquidating an IRA to Buy Gold?
There is a simple way to buy physical bullion and avoid the taxes and penalties associated with liquidating an IRA prior to age 59-½. You can set up a Self-Directed IRA with a firm that specializes in them and buy and hold your bullion obtained from Money Metals Exchange.

Simply transfer funds from your existing IRA into a self-directed IRA account, choose a depository who can provide storage, then buy the physical metals you want. It is all done within IRA guidelines and completely without consequences in terms of taxes or penalties.

Unfortunately, a lot of investors aren’t aware of this option despite the fact that people have been using it to hold assets such as real estate, privately held company shares, and bullion for decades. The IRAs marketed so effectively by banks and brokerages never include the self-directed option. Instead most IRAs are limited to the usual lineup of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds — all of which are financial instruments, of course. The reason is that self-directed accounts will not generate the handsome fees and commissions that Wall Street loves.

Bring up the idea of opening a self-directed account and using it to buy physical gold or silver and your broker will probably shudder and try to talk you out of it.

Now does appear to be an opportune time to switch some of your investments in stocks into bullion. Stock prices are near all time highs. Precious metals, on the other hand, are enjoying a great start in 2016, but have a very long way to go before recovering to the 2011 highs.

And, yes, the financial system looks like trouble. Banks are even larger than they were in 2008 and, by many measures, are even more leveraged than prior to the last financial crisis. Investors are starting to pay attention to that fact.

The share price of Deutsche Bank, one of Europe’s largest, is very near its crisis lows as the market is factoring an increasing risk of failure. The potential ramifications of default at Deutsche Bank (DB) would be hard to overstate. DB is a much larger institution than Lehman Brothers, whose collapse set off the chain of events that led to the 2008 catastrophe.

The Basics of Cryptocurrency

In the times that we’re living in, technology has made unbelievable advancement as compared to any time in the past. This evolution has redefined the life of man on almost every aspect. In fact, this evolution is an ongoing process and thus, human life on earth is improving constantly day in and day out. One of the latest inclusions in this aspect is cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency is nothing but digital currency, which has been designed to impose security and anonymity in online monetary transactions. It uses cryptographic encryption to both generate currency and verify transactions. The new coins are created by a process called mining, whereas the transactions are recorded in a public ledger, which is called the Transaction Block Chain.

Little backtrack

Evolution of cryptocurrency is mainly attributed to the virtual world of the web and involves the procedure of transforming legible information into a code, which is almost uncrackable. Thus, it becomes easier to track purchases and transfers involving the currency. Cryptography, since its introduction in the WWII to secure communication, has evolved in this digital age, blending with mathematical theories and computer science. Thus, it is now used to secure not only communication and information but also money transfers across the virtual web.

How to use cryptocurrency

It is very easy for the ordinary people to make use of this digital currency. Just follow the steps given below:

You need a digital wallet (obviously, to store the currency)
Make use of the wallet to create unique public addresses (this enables you to receive the currency)
Use the public addresses to transfer funds in or out of the wallet
Cryptocurrency wallets

A cryptocurrency wallet is nothing else than a software program, which is capable to store both private and public keys. In addition to that, it can also interact with different blockchains, so that the users can send and receive digital currency and also keep a track on their balance. Cryptocurrency is also a valuable asset for the Crypto Captial Venture firms who invest in the future blockchain ventures.

The way the digital wallets work

In contrast to the conventional wallets that we carry in our pockets, digital wallets do not store currency. In fact, the concept of blockchain has been so smartly blended with cryptocurrency that the currencies never get stored at a particular location. Nor do they exist anywhere in hard cash or physical form. Only the records of your transactions are stored in the blockchain and nothing else.

A real-life example

Suppose, a friend sends you some digital currency, say in form of bitcoin. What this friend does is he transfers the ownership of the coins to the address of your wallet. Now, when you want to use that money, you’ve unlock the fund.

In order to unlock the fund, you need to match the private key in your wallet with the public address that the coins are assigned to. Only when both these private and public addresses match, your account will be credited and the balance in your wallet will swell. Simultaneously, the balance of the sender of the digital currency will decrease. In transactions related to digital currency, the actual exchange of physical coins never take place at any instance.

Understanding the cryptocurrency address

By nature, it is a public address with a unique string of characters. This enables a user or owner of a digital wallet to receive cryptocurrency from others. Each public address, that is generated, has a matching private address. This automatic match proves or establishes the ownership of a public address. As a more practical analogy, you may consider a public cryptocurrency address as your eMail address to which others can send emails. The emails are the currency that people send you.