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Weâre big on investing. Itâs an important way to grow your money and set yourself up for retirement someday.
But is it dangerous to be too obsessed with the stock market?
You bet it is. Our financial advice columnist, Dear Penny, recently heard from a reader whose husband stopped funding his 401(k) so he can bet on the stock market, instead.
Is it OK that heâs stopped contributing to his 401(k) so he can trade stocks? the reader asked. How do I ask him what heâs actually investing in? Iâm worried that heâs gambling money that we need for our retirement.
Thatâs not the way to go. Here are five safer ways to invest and grow your money.
1. Just Steadily Invest Like a Normal Person
Instead of betting all your money on the stock market, just steadily invest in it. Take the long view. The stock market is unpredictable, which means that sometimes stock prices go up, and sometimes they go down â but over time, they tend to go up.
If you havenât started investing and have some money to spare, you can start small. Investing doesnât require you throwing thousands of dollars at full shares of stocks. In fact, you can get started with as little as $1.*
We like Stash, because it lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. But it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals. Want to invest conservatively right now? Totally get it! Want to dip in with moderate or aggressive risk? Do what you feel.
Plus, with Stash, youâre able to invest in fractions of shares, which means you can invest in funds you wouldnât normally be able to afford.
If you sign up now (it takes two minutes), Stash will give you $5 after you add $5 to your invest account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**
2. Grow Your Money 16x Faster â Without Risking Any of It
Save some of your money in a safer place than the stock market â but where youâll still earn money on it.
Under your mattress or in a safe will get you nothing. And a typical savings account wonât do you much better. (Ahem, 0.06% is nothing these days.)
But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Not too shabby!
Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash. Your money is FDIC insured and they use a military-grade encryption which is nerd talk for âthis is totally safe.â
3. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company
One way to make sure you have more money is to stop wasting money on credit card interest. Your credit card company is getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? Youâll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), youâll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but donât worry â they wonât spam you with phone calls.
4. Cut Your Bills by $540/Year
Another way to grow your money: Stop overpaying on your bills.
For example, whenâs the last time you checked car insurance prices? You should shop your options every six months or so â it could save you some serious money. Letâs be real, though. Itâs probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesnât have to be.
A website called Insure makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and itâll show you your options â and even discounts in your area.
Using Insure, people have saved an average of $540 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
5. Add $225 to Your Wallet Just for Watching the News
Hereâs a safe way to earn a little cash on the side.
Weâre living in historic times, and weâre all constantly refreshing for the latest news updates. You probably know more than one news-junkie who fancies themselves an expert in respiratory illness or a political mastermind.
And research companies want to pay you to keep watching. You could add up to $225 a month to your pocket by signing up for a free account with InboxDollars. Theyâll present you with short news clips to choose from every day, then ask you a few questions about them.
You just have to answer honestly, and InboxDollars will continue to pay you every month. This might sound too good to be true, but itâs already paid its users more than $56 million.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and start getting paid to watch the news.
Mike Brassfield (email@example.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He tries not to be obsessed with the stock market.
*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
**Youâll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Increase in Credit Card Fraud during the Holidays In 2015 U.S. consumers spent over $70 billion on Black Friday and spend, on average, $830 billion on Christmas and holiday gifts. It goes without saying that U.S. consumers spend more during the winter holidays than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, this increase in spending […]
The post Increase in Credit Card Fraud during the Holidays appeared first on Credit Absolute.
For Americans seeking a more affordable and less crowded alternative to the bustle of a big city but not interested in very small towns, a mid-sized city might be the best place to put down roots. But not all of them are equally suited to meet the needs of their inhabitants. Thatâs why SmartAsset crunched the numbers on a variety of financial factors to find the mid-sized cities that are the most livable.
To do so, SmartAsset considered data for 227 cities across the following eight metrics: Gini coefficient, four-year home value change, median monthly housing costs, poverty rate, median household income, July 2020 unemployment rate, percentage of residents without health insurance and average commute time. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAssetâs fourth study on the most livable mid-sized cities. Check out the 2019 edition here.
- Unemployment is on par with the national average. The average unemployment rate for the mid-sized cities in our study was 10.7% in July 2020, just slightly higher than the national unemployment rate of 10.2%. A few cities we analyzed, though, have significantly lower unemployment rates. In Meridian, Idaho, the unemployment rate was just 5.0%, part of the reason it ranks fourth overall. The lowest unemployment rate we found was 3.6% in Provo, Utah.
- Some consistency in the most livable mid-sized cities year over year. Exactly half of the cities in the top 10 of this yearâs study were also in the top 10 last year: Rochester, Minnesota; Overland Park, Kansas; Meridian, Idaho; Centennial, Colorado and Arvada, Colorado. This suggests that while there is some consistency, some of the numbers that varied widely year-to-year, like unemployment and poverty rate, may have had a big impact in the reordering of this list.
1. Rochester, MN
Rochester, Minnesota has an average commute time of just 16.2 minutes â the fifth-lowest in the study â so you donât need to worry about adding on an extra few hours to your work day that youâll have to spend in the car. The city had an unemployment rate of 7.0% in July 2020, the 31st-lowest of the total 227 cities we studied. It also ranked 42nd for its relatively low poverty rate, which comes in at 7.4%.
2. Olathe, KS
Olathe, Kansas ranks 12th-best for the Gini coefficient, a metric that measures income inequality. Olathe has a poverty rate of 6.3%, 24th-best among the 227 cities we analyzed. The cityâs July 2020 unemployment rate is tied for 19th-lowest, at 6.6%. Median household income in Olathe ranks 34th overall and is third-highest in the top 10, at almost $94,300.
3. Overland Park, KS
Overland Park, Kansas ranks within the top 20% of study for four of the eight metrics we considered. The poverty rate in the city is 3.8%, eighth-lowest in the study. Overland Park is tied for 19th in terms of July 2020 unemployment rate, coming in at 6.6%. The city also places 31st for the percentage of residents without health insurance, at 5.2%. Furthermore, the median household income in Overland Park is 39th-highest out of 227, at $91,518.
4. Meridian, ID
Meridian, Idaho saw home values increase by 55.61% from 2015 to 2019, the ninth-highest jump in the study and the highest in the top 10. The July 2020 unemployment rate in the city was a low 5.0%, the second-best rate of all 227 cities that qualified for this study. Meridianâs Gini coefficient is the 14th-best, implying relatively low levels of income inequality.
5. Centennial, CO
Centennial, Colorado is the first of two cities in the Rocky Mountain State to crack the top 10. Centennialâs poverty rate is 3.0%, the second-lowest in the study. Centennial also has the 14th-highest median household income of all 227 cities we analyzed, $111,257. The city ranks 11th in terms of the percentage of residents without health insurance, with just 3.9% of people in Centennial being uninsured.
6. Arvada, CO
The second Colorado city in the top 10 of this study is Arvada, where home values have risen 46.18% over the four-year period from 2015 to 2019 â the 25th-highest jump in the study and third-highest in the top 10. While Arvada doesnât fare as well in terms of commute, coming in 155th out of 227 with an average commute time of 29 minutes, the cityâs unemployment rate in July 2020 was a relatively low 7.2%, ranking 32nd out of 227.
7. Hillsboro, OR
Hillsboro, Oregon has the 17th-best Gini coefficient in this study, indicating relatively low levels of inequality. Hillsboro ranks within the top 50 of the study for median household income ($86,038) and the percentage of residents without health insurance (5.6%). It also ranks within the top 60, or roughly the top quartile of the study, for its relatively high 2015-2019 change in home value and its relatively low poverty rate.
8. Santa Clara, CA
Santa Clara, California has a median household income of $147,507, the third-highest in the study and highest in the top 10. That said, it ranks near the bottom of the study for its relatively high median monthly housing costs, at $2,629. Home values have gone up quickly in Santa Clara, increasing by 47.65% over the past four years, the 18th-highest jump across all 227 the cities we analyzed. The city also ranks 10th out of 227 for its relatively low poverty rate and 14th of 227 for its relatively low percentage of residents without health insurance.
9. Round Rock, TX
Round Rock, Texas has the 15th-lowest July 2020 unemployment rate in the study, at 6.2%. It also has the 23rd-best Gini coefficient and the 20th-lowest poverty rate, at 6.0%. Round Rock does rank in the bottom half of the study for its fairly high percentage of residents who are without health insurance, at 10.4%, but it ranks within the top 50 of the total 227 cities for median household income ($86,145) and 2015-2019 change in home value (40.76%).
10. Sparks, NV
The final city in the top 10 is Sparks, Nevada, where home value increased by 44.85% from 2015 to 2019, the 30th-highest increase for this metric in the study. Sparks ranks 50th-best for its July 2020 unemployment rate overall, 8.1%. While Sparks ranks within the bottom half of the study for median monthly housing costs, which amount to $1,354, the city has a Gini coefficient of approximately 0.39, indicating relatively low income inequality.
Data and Methodology
To find the most livable mid-sized cities, SmartAsset first compiled a list of all the cities with at least 100,000 residents, excluding the 100 most populous cities. Note: Some cities that have appeared in past studies may not be in this yearâs version because of shifting population totals. We compared all of the cities across the following eight metrics:
- Gini coefficient. This is a statistical measurement of income inequality. A Gini coefficient of zero indicates total equality of wealth distribution, while a coefficient of one indicates total inequality of wealth distribution across groups. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
- Median home value change. This is the percentage change in median home values from 2015 through 2019. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2015 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
- Median monthly housing costs. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Percentage of residents below the poverty line. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Median household income. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Unemployment rate. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is for July 2020.
- Percentage of residents without health insurance. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Average commute time. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
First, we ranked each city in every metric. We then found each cityâs average ranking, giving each metric an equal weighting. We used this average ranking to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100, and the city with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.
Tips for Managing Your Money
- Seek professional financial advice. Regardless of where you live, if you want to make your money work harder for you, consider finding a financial advisor. Finding a financial advisor doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool connects you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors, get started now.
- Look into the future of your mortgage payments. If youâre considering moving to one of these mid-sized cities, use SmartAssetâs mortgage calculator to see what youâll be paying each month before your deal is even finalized.
- Take every advantage that helps you save more towards retirement. Some people move to smaller cities to relax after theyâve retired. To make sure youâre able to afford that, start thinking about retirement early, and use a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan if that is available to you.
Questions about our study? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/jhorrocks
The post Most Livable Mid-Sized Cities â 2020 Edition appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
In March I offered some financial advice to Michelle, a Mint user who was struggling with debt, a lack of retirement savings and a bit of family financial drama amongst her siblings.
Michelle was anticipating a cash bonus from her company and wasnât sure if she should save the money or use it to relieve her debt.
I recommended a two-prong approach where she uses the cash to play savings catch-up in her retirement account and knock down some of her debt, which, at the time, included a $3,000 credit card balance and $52,000 in student loans.
Six months later, Iâve checked in with the 38-year-old real estate developer, to see if any of my advice was helpful and if sheâs experienced any shifts in her financial life.
We spoke via email:
Farnoosh: Have your finances have improved over the last 6 months since we last spoke? If so, what has been the biggest improvement?
Michelle: Yes. I’veÂ aggressively been contributing to my 401(k) â about 50% of my pay – and had hoped to reach the annual maximum of $18,000 by June, but looks like it will be more like October. I also received a $40,000 distribution from a project that I closed.
F: What aspects of your financial life still challenge you?
M: Investing for sure. I never know if I’m hoarding too much cash. I am truly traumatized from the financial downturn.Â I just joined an online investment platform, but it wasÂ also overwhelming. Currently I have $45,000 in a regular savings account that earns 1.5%.
Another challenge is not knowing whether to just bite the bullet and pay off my student loans or to continue to pay them monthly. Â I hate that I’m still paying loans 16 years after I graduated and it’s a source of frustration [andÂ embarrassment] for me. Â I owe $36,000. Often times I have an inner monologue about the pros and cons of just paying them off but then my trauma from 2008 kicks inâ¦and IÂ decide to keep my $45,000 nest egg safely where I can check the balance daily.
F: I recommended allocating $45,000 towards retirement. Was that helpful? What are some ways you’ve managed to save?
M: Yes, I recall you saying you recommended having a total of $100,000 towards retirement for a person my age. Currently, I have $51,000 in my 401(k), $35,000 in a traditional IRA and $17,000 in my Ellevest brokerageÂ account, so I’ve broken the $100,000 goal.
I did add a car note to my balance sheet. My old car suffered a total loss (major electrical failure due to a sunroof leak!) and the insurance gave me a check for $9,000.Â I used it all towards the new vehicle (aÂ certified used 2014 Acura) and I’m financing $18,000.
F: Your dad’s home was a source of financial stress, it seemed. Were you able to talk with your siblings and arrive at a better place with that?
M: My dad actually has passed since we last spoke. He passed in February and so his will went to probate. My siblings and I have decided not to make any decisions about the house for at least one year. Yes, this is kicking the can further down the street however, they recognize that I maintain the house and pay the real estate taxes and so they are not pressuring me to move or to sell.
The new deed has been recorded and the property is under all our names and so everyone seems ok with knowing that I can’t do anything regarding a sale or refinance unilaterally.
So, for now, I live rent free other than payingÂ utilities, miscellaneous maintenance on the houseÂ and real estate taxes quarterly. This, too, is helping me saveÂ aggressively.
Also, the new car note has replaced the hospice nurse contribution so I’m not feeling that my budget is overburdened with the new car.
I think ultimately I will buy out at least two of my siblings and stay in the house. Verbally they have expressed being okay with this.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at email@example.com (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit 6-Month Check-In: How Did Michelle Allocate Her Windfall? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Credit cards exceptional financial instruments. They allow you to buy without any cash and earn rewards while at it. Another interesting feature is the option of adding another person as an authorized user to your card. However, credit card usage does have a huge impact on your creditworthiness. So, does removing your name from a […]
The post How Removing Your Name from a Shared Credit Card Affects Your Credit Score appeared first on Credit Absolute.