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To benefit from insurance coverage, youâll need to pay a premium. A premium is a payment to your insurer that keeps your coverage in place. Insurance companies determine your premium by deciding what the risk is to insure you. Hereâs a breakdown of the basics to help you understand what a premium is, why you have to pay it, how it works and ways to reduce your costs.
What Is a Premium?
An insurance premium is effectively the cost of your insurance, whether for health, auto or life insurance. Most companies allow you to pay the annual premium via monthly installments. However, some companies may require you to pay your premium on an annual basis or a semi-annual basis. Some may even want the entire insurance premium up front. Companies often decide they want the insurance premium up front if you have previously had your insurance policy canceled for non-payment.
The price of a premium is usually decided by an actuary or underwriter who takes a base calculation. The base calculation determines what the risk is to insure you. After the base calculation, the company may discount it based on your health, driving record, location and other personal details. This is all based on the type of insurance youâre looking to secure, too.
Your premium may also be determined based on your insurance history. Every insurance company uses different criteria to determine premiums. Some companies use insurance scores based on personal factors like credit rating, car accident frequency, personal claims history and occupation. If your personal factors are attractive to certain companies, you may want to secure a plan with one of them. It could mean a lower cost premium.
You may also pay more money for higher amounts of coverage, whether youâre purchasing life insurance, car insurance, health insurance or any other kind of insurance.
The value and condition of what you are insuring can also change the amount of coverage you need. For example, if youâre a healthy 28-year-old with no kids, your life insurance premium may be very inexpensive because you might not need a large policy. However, the price could increase as you age and your health and family situations change because you may need more coverage.
How Can You Lower Your Rates?
The type of coverage you purchase affects your premium. If you get more comprehensive coverage with your insurance policy, it may raise your insurance premium. For example, if you insure your vehicle for all risks, you may have to pay more than if you insured it with a policy that doesnât include collision coverage.
Deductibles can reduce your insurance premiums, as well. An insurance deductible is the cost you pay before the insurance company pays anything. If your car is insured and you have a $1,000 deductible, you have to pay $1,000 before the insurance company will begin to cover any costs. If there are $3,000 in damages to your vehicle, you would have to pay $1,000 and the insurance company would pay the other $2,000. As a general rule, the higher your deductible, the lower your premiums.
In the case of health insurance, taking on a higher deductible, higher co-pays or longer waiting periods may lower your costs. However, if you can afford a plan with a lower deductible, you may want to take that. Lower deductible health plans offer customers more predictable prices for higher amounts of coverage.
Your homeowners insurance premium may be affected by the coverage limits you choose, your deductible amount, optional coverages you select, your homeâs age and condition, your claims history and your credit rating.
Car insurance premiums may be affected by your age, your credit score, your driving record, the age of your car, the type of coverage you chose, coverage limits you select, where you live and drive, and how often you drive.
Your life insurance premium may be affected by the amount of life insurance coverage you buy, the type of life insurance policy you select, the length of your policy, and your age, health, and life expectancy.
Some companies, specific policies or types of coverage have insurance limits. An insurance limit is the maximum amount of money the company will pay. Typically, the higher your insurance limit, the higher your premium. Itâs also the inverse of a deductible. You pay the part of the claim or claims thatâs more than the limit on your policy.
Insurance limits can be on a per occurrence basis or on an aggregate basis. For example, a per occurrence basis could be a $20,000 insurance limit on bodily injuries per person, per car accident. An aggregate insurance limit might be a $100,000 limit on construction costs in the event of a natural disaster.
Car insurance laws and policies typically list liabilities as a set of three numbers that stand for the coverage limits when youâre responsible for an accident. If your numbers were 22/66/15, your insurance would cover $22,000 for bodily injuries per person, $66,000 in total bodily injury coverage per accident and $15,000 for property damage per accident. For personal injury protection, collision and comprehensive coverage, the numbers are listed as a single amount for each type of coverage. Your state may have specific minimum limits for certain coverages, so make sure youâre getting a fair rate.
Healthcare laws often change, and many lifetime and annual health insurance limits are illegal. However, some health insurance policies still list annual limits or limits on the number of times certain treatments will be covered, such as acupuncture, chiropractic services and orthotics. Companies may also place limits on prescription medication to keep costs down. There may be policies such as âstep therapy,â which requires you to try less expensive drugs first, or quantity limits, such as only covering 30 pills in 30 days.
Your homeowners insurance policy will often list separate limit amounts for different types of coverage. The limit amounts for liability coverage â in case youâre sued by someone for property damage or injuries that occur on your property â may be different than the limit amount for damage to your home and personal property. Make sure you review all of your homeowners insurance coverage limits, such as the amount it may cost to rebuild your home (dwelling coverage), liability coverage and personal property coverage.
Itâs important to shop around for insurance because different companies have different target clients. You may be the target client for one company, but not for another. That means your premium may be lower with one company than another. The price you pay for your insurance may include taxes or fees, as well. And these could differ from company to company. Before shopping around, call your insurance company and see if theyâre willing to lower your premium.
In addition, insurance companies may decide to pursue a new market segment. That can lower rates on a temporary basis, or on a more permanent basis if that works for the company. In either case, you can get a better deal on your insurance if you are part of the demographic that insurance company wants to attract.
The best insurance company for you may not be the best insurance company for your parents or your best friend. It all depends on your age, location and many other factors.
The Bottom Line
Your insurance company will assess the financial risk of insuring you. The greater they perceive that risk to be, the more your premium will cost. Itâs important to make sure you let your insurance company know all the ways in which you are a low-risk or lower risk client in order to get premium reductions. After shopping around, youâll be able to find the insurance policies that are best for your financial situation.
Tips for Reducing Insurance Costs
- Consider all of the insurance options available based on your individual circumstances. This can help you save money. A comprehensive budget calculator can help you understand which option is best.
- If you need extra help weighing your insurance options, you might want to consider working with an expert. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs can be easy. SmartAssetâs free tool will match you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to learn about local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/skynesher, Â©iStock.com/kate_sept2004, Â©iStock.com/AndreyPopov
The post A Beginnerâs Guide to Insurance Premiums appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
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Your grocery bill can add up fast. From dinner entrÃ©es to snacks, the amount you spend directly affects your other financial goals. Luckily, there are some guidelines to ensure youâre not overspending.Â
Use the grocery calculator below to estimate your monthly and weekly food budget based on guidelines from the USDAâs monthly food plan. Input your family size and details below to calculate how much a nutritious grocery budget should cost you. Of course, every family is different. Some love coupons and leftovers, while others prefer fresh fish and aged cheese. Once youâve established your budget, use the slider to adjust your estimate to your spending habits.Â
Getting your food budget on point takes practice. With this grocery calculator and the right spending habits, youâll have enough for your living expenses and exciting financial goals like paying off loans or buying a house.
Grocery Budget Calculator
A moderate grocery budget will run you:
Weekly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
Monthly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.
What kind of spender are you?
Does your estimate look right? If your spending habits don’t add up, explore these other budget options and choose what’s best for your lifestyle.
Thrifty This is the USDAâs estimated food budget for families that receive food assistance like WIC or SNAP.
Cost-Conscious This is an ideal budget for nutritious meals if youâre looking to save a little extra cash with leftovers and coupons.
Moderate This is the standard for affordable, nutritious, and balanced portions for most families.
Generous This budget gives you some spending wiggle room for finer foods or extra portions.
See where the rest of your budget is going Sign up for Mint
Monthly Grocery Budget
Ever wonder how much you should spend on groceries?Â The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases.
Hereâs a monthly grocery budget for the average family. This is based on the national average and likely varies by location and shop. For instance, New York City grocers are going to be far more expensive than Kansas City shops. Additionally, organic grocery stores like Whole Foods are pricier than places like Walmart or Aldi.
Youâll also want to consider dietary choices, like gluten-free or vegan diets. These can significantly affect your budget, so consider planning your grocery list online to compare prices and find your preferred alternatives.
Finding a reasonable monthly grocery budget ensures you and your family have what you need, while not overspending. Look back at previous months using a budgeting app or credit card statements to see what youâve spent at the grocery store. Decide if you want to maintain your current budget or cut back.
Purchasing Groceries vs. Dining Out
Donât forget what you spend at restaurants when you consider your food budget. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend 11 percent of their take-home income on food. It doesnât all go towards groceries, though. Approximately six percent is spent on groceries, while five percent is spent dining out â including dates, lunches with coworkers, and Sunday brunch.
With this framework in mind, you can calculate your total food budget based on your take-home income. For example, Rita makes $3,500 per month after taxes. She would budget six percent for groceries ($210) and five percent for restaurants ($175). So sheâll need a total of $385 for food each month. With a little practice, sheâll better learn her habits and be able to accurately adjust her budget.
Tips for Reducing Your Budget
There are several ways to cut back on what you spend without sacrificing the quality and taste of your food. Trimming your food budget can help you stow away more for your financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a dream vacation.
Coupons are easy to find in the mail, in store, in your inbox, and even in a Google search. Many popular grocery stores are rolling out apps that track your coupons and savings. Be sure to download and register your email for new updates and sales. These usually work in person or online, so you can shop when and how you like.Â
While a single coupon might not give you a large discount, you can save a lot with multiple coupons. Itâs also important you make sure you actually need the item youâre purchasing instead of buying it for the sale. This can quickly get out of hand and push you over budget.Â
Freeze Your Food
Freezing your fresh food before it goes bad helps your wallet and the environment. You can plan ahead and freeze prepared produce to save time on weekday cooking, or chop and freeze last weekâs produce before shopping for more. Frozen vegetables are great in soups and stews, and you can use frozen fruits for healthy breakfast smoothies.Â
Plan a Weekly Menu Ahead of Time
Plan your meals ahead of time to determine the food items and quantities you need before you head to the grocery store. This way youâre more likely to buy the exact items you need and can plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to plan for recipes that use the same ingredients so thereâs less to purchase. You can also make larger meals and plan leftovers for lunch so you have less to plan and purchase.
Bring Lunches to WorkÂ
A $13 lunch out might not seem like much, but it can blow your food budget fast if it becomes a habit. Push your monthly food budget further with delicious lunches from home. Salads, sandwiches, and leftovers are all easy, inexpensive, and nutritious.Â
Buy Store BrandsÂ
Many packaged products have a huge price disparity between brand name and generic items, and store brand items tend to be cheaper without sacrificing much quality. You can easily save 10 cents to a dollar per item, which adds up quickly over many trips.Â
Shop at a More Affordable Store
Your local farmers market, chain grocery, and organic store will all offer different specialties and sales. Check out the different shops in your area to find the best combination of quality and price. Some stores might even offer bulk items â great for your favorite products and those with a long shelf-life. Choosing cheaper staple items like milk and yogurt can also make a huge difference over time.Â
An accurate food budget that works for you helps you feel more confident and in control of your finances. Build a budget, learn your spending habits, and keep a grocery list to keep you on track and responsible so you can reach bigger goals, like a new vehicle or a down payment on a house.Â
Sources:Â USA Today |Â EurekAlert | Persistent Economic Burden of the Gluten-Free Diet
The post How Much Your Monthly Food Budget Should Be + Grocery Calculator appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you’re one of those investors with very little time to research and invest in individual stocks, it might be a good idea to look into investing in mutual funds.
Whether your goal is to save money for retirement, or for a down payment to buy a house, mutual funds are low-cost and effective way to invest your money.
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What is a mutual fund?
A mutual fund is an investment vehicle in which investors, like you ad me, pool their money together. They use the money to invest in securities such as stocks and bonds. A professional manages the funds.
In addition, mutual funds are cost efficient. They offer diversification to your portfolio. They have low minimum investment requirements.
These factors make mutual funds among the best investment vehicles to use. If you’re a beginner investor, you should consider investing in mutual funds or index funds.
Investing in the stock market in general, can be intimidating. If you are just starting out and don’t feel confident in your investing knowledge, you may value the advice of a financial advisor.
Types of mutual funds
There are different types of mutual funds. They are stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds.
Which funds you choose depends on your risk tolerance. While mutual funds in general are less risky than investing in individual stocks, some funds are riskier than others.
However, you can choose a combination of these three types of funds to diversify your portfolio.
- Stock funds: a stock fund is a fund that invests heavily in stocks. However, that does not mean stock funds do not have other securities, i.e., bonds. It’s just that the majority of the money invested is in stocks.
- Bond funds: if you don’t want your portfolio to fluctuate in value as stocks do, then you should consider bond funds.
- Money market funds: money market funds are funds that you invest in if you tend to tap into your investment in the short term.
- Sector funds. As the name suggests, sector funds are funds that invests in one particular sector or industry. For example, a fund that invests only in the health care industry is a sector fund. These mutual funds lack diversification. Therefore, you should avoid them or use them in conjunction to another mutual fund.
- Index funds. Index funds seek to track the performance of a particular index, such as the Standard & Poorâs 500 index of 500 large U.S. company stocks or the CRSP US Small Cap Index. When you invest in the Vanguard S&P 500 Index fund, youâre essentially buying a piece of the 500 largest publicly traded US companies. Index funds donât jump around. They stay invested in the market.
- Income funds: These funds focus invest primarily in corporate bonds. They also invest in some high-dividend stocks.
- Balance funds: The portfolio of these funds have a mixed of stocks and bonds. Those funds enjoy capital growth and income dividend.
Related Article: 3 Ways to Protect Your Portfolio from the Volatile Stock Market
The advantages of mutual funds
Diversification. You’ve probably heard the popular saying “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Well, it applies to mutual funds. Mutual funds invest in stocks or bonds from dozens of companies in several industries.
Thus, your risk is spread. If a stock of a company is not doing well, a stock from another company can balance it out. While most funds are diversified, some are not.
For example, sector funds which invest in a specific industry such as real estate can be risky if that industry is not doing well.
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Mutual funds are professionally managed. These fund managers are well educated and experienced. Their job is to analyze data, research companies and find the best investments for the fund.
Thus, investing in mutual funds can be a huge time saver for those who have very little time and those who lack expertise in the matter.
Cost Efficiency. The operating expenses and the cost that you pay to sell or buy a fund are cheaper than trading in individual securities on your own. For example, the best Vanguard mutual funds have operating expenses as low as 0.04%. So by keeping expenses low, these funds can help boost your returns.
Low or Reasonable Minimum Investment. The majority of mutual funds, Vanguard mutual funds, for example, have a reasonable minimum requirement. Some funds even have a minimum of $1,000 and provide a monthly investment plan where you can start with as little as $50 a month.
Related Article: 7 Secrets Smart Professionals Use to Choose Financial Advisors
The disadvantage of mutual funds.
While there are several benefits to investing in mutual funds, there are some disadvantages as well.
Active Fund Management. Mutual funds are actively managed. That means fund mangers are always on the look out for the best securities to purchase. That also means they can easily make mistakes.
Cost/expenses. While cost and expenses of investing in individual stocks are significantly higher than mutual funds, cost of a mutual fund can nonetheless be significant.
High cost can have a negative effect on your investment return. These fees are deducted from your mutual fundâs balance every year. Other fees can apply as well. So always find a company with a low cost.
How you make money with mutual funds.
You make money with mutual funds the same way you would with individual stocks: dividend, capital gain and appreciation.
Dividend: Dividends are cash distributions from a company to its shareholders. Some companies offer dividends; others do not. And those who do pay out dividends are not obligated to do so. And the amount of dividends can vary from year to year.
As a mutual fund investor, you may receive dividend income on a regular basis.
Mutual funds offer dividend reinvestment plans. This means that instead of receiving a cash payment, you can reinvest your dividend income into buying more shares in the fund.
Capital gain distribution: in addition to receiving dividend income from the fund, you make money with mutual funds when you make a profit by selling a stock. This is called “capital gain.”
Capital gain occurs when the fund manager sells stocks for more he bought them for. The resulting profits can be paid out to the fund’s shareholders. Just as dividend income, you have the choice to reinvest your gains in the fund.
Appreciation: If stocks in your fund have appreciated in value, the price per share of the fund will increase as well. So whether you hold your shares for a short term or long term, you stand to make a profit when the shares rise.
Best mutual funds.
Now that you know mutual funds make excellent investments, finding the best mutual funds can be overwhelming.
Vanguard mutual funds.
Vanguard mutual funds are the best out there, because they are relatively cheaper; they are of high quality; a professional manage them; and their operating expenses are relative low.
Here is a list of the best Vanguard mutual funds that you should invest in:
- Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Funds
- Vanguard 500 Index (VFIAX)
- Total International Stock index Fund
- Vanguard Health Care Investor
Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund
If you’re looking for a diversified mutual fund, this Vanguard mutual fund is for you. The Vanguard’s VTSAX provides exposure to the entire U.S. stock market which includes stocks from large, medium and small U.S companies.
The top companies include Microsoft, Apple, Amazon. In addition, the expenses are relatively (0.04%). It has a minimum initial investment of $3,000, making it one of the best vanguard stock funds out there.
Vanguard S&P 500 (VFIAX)
The Vanguard 500 Index fund may be appropriate for you if you prefer a mutual fund that focuses on U.S. equities. This fund tracks the performance of the S&P 500, which means it holds about 500 of the largest U.S. stocks.
The largest U.S. companies included in this fund are Facebook, Alphabet/Google, Apple, and Amazon. This index fund has an expense ration of 0.04% and a reasonable minimum initial investment of $3,000.
Vanguard Total International Stock Market
You should consider the Vanguard International Stock Market fund of you prefer a mutual fund that invests in foreign stocks.
This international stock fund exposes its shareholders to over 6,000 non-U.S. stocks from several countries in both developed markets and emerging markets. The minimum investment is also $3,000 with an expense ratio of 0.11%.
Vanguard Health Care Investor
Sector funds are not usually a good idea, because the lack diversification. Sector funds are funds that invest in a specific industry like real estate or health care. However, if you want a fund to complement your portfolio, the Vanguard Health Care Investor is a good choice.
This Vanguard mutual fund offers investors exposure to U.S. and foreign equities focusing in the health care industry. The expense ration is a little bit higher, 0.34%. However, the minimum initial investment is $3,000, making it one of the cheapest Vanguard mutual funds.
Mutual funds are great options for beginner investors or investors who have little time to research and invest in individual stocks. When you buy into these low cost investments, you’re essentially buying shares from companies.
Your money are pooled together with those of other investors. If you intend to invest in low cost investment funds, you must know which ones are the best. When it comes to saving money on fees and getting a good return on your investment, Vanguard mutual funds are among the best funds out there.
They provide professional management, diversity, low cost, income and price appreciation.
What’s Next: 5 Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Financial Advisor
Speak with the Right Financial Advisor
- If you have questions beyond knowing which of the best Vanguard mutual funds to invest, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
- Find one who meets your needs with SmartAssetâs free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.
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The post What Are Mutual Funds? Understanding The Basics appeared first on GrowthRapidly.
Though the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in widespread fitness center closures, many Americans still want to stay as healthy as possible. Depending on the level of services and equipment required, staying active can affect peopleâs budgets in a variety of ways. For now, virtual exercise classes and home gyms are the route most people are taking. Eventually, though, gyms will reopen at full capacity, and everyone will be able to reestablish his or her normal workout routine. When that happens, some places will be more conducive to jumping into a full-on fitness frenzy, and SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find where they are.
To locate the most fitness-friendly places for 2021, we compared 301 metropolitan areas across the following metrics: percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, fitness professionals per 10,000 workers, fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments, the percentage of restaurants that are fast-food establishments and the average wage of personal trainers. 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 seventh annual study on the most fitness-friendly places in the U.S. Read the previous version here.
- Western and Midwestern metro areas populate the top. For the second straight year, cities in the Midwest and West dominate the top 10 of this list. Six metro areas are in the West and three are in the Midwest. Western metro areas do well in terms of fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments â all rank within the top 8% of study for this metric â and they also rank within the top 14% of the study for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work. Only one metro area in the top 10 is not in either of these regions â Ithaca, New York.
- Fitness-friendly cities are light on the drive-thrus. On average, across the 301 metro areas in our study, fast-food establishments represent 45% of all restaurants. Though fast food is popular, convenient and inexpensive, it tends to be relatively high in calories and low in nutritional value â making it tougher to be healthy if you eat a lot of it, regardless of your exercise levels. In the top 10 of this study, all but three metro areas have fewer than 40% of their restaurants serving fast food, so there is less temptation to go for an easy-but-unhealthy meal that can ruin all your hard work. The metro area with the lowest percentage of restaurants that are fast food is Wenatchee, Washington, where it is just 27%.
1. Missoula, MT
The Missoula, Montana metro area is the most fitness-friendly place in the U.S. for 2021. There are 131 fitness establishments â including places like gyms and sporting goods stores â per 10,000 total establishments in Missoula, the third-highest rate for this metric in the study. There are also plenty of fitness professionals living in Missoula, 59 per 10,000 workers, placing it sixth-best for this metric. Residents in Missoula also get plenty of exercise simply by walking or biking to work: 7.1% of residents choose to do so, the 17th-highest rate for this metric across the 301 areas we studied.
2. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
The La Crosse, Wisconsin metro area, which also includes parts of Minnesota, has 130 fitness establishments for every 10,000 total establishments, the fourth-highest rate for this metric. The metro area finishes in the top quartile for three other metrics as well, ranking 28th for fitness professionals per 10,000 workers (with 42), 33rd for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work (at 5.2%) and 64th for the percentage of restaurants that are fast-food establishments (around 39%).
3. Bend, OR
The Bend, Oregon metro area cracks the top 10 for two of our metrics. It places fourth in terms of fitness professionals per 10,000 workers with 61, and seventh for fitness establishments per 10,0000 total establishments, at 116. Bend can be a bit pricey of a place to stay in shape, though. The average hourly wage of personal trainers is $18.72, placing Bend at 176th out of 301 for this metric.
4. Ann Arbor, MI
There are 67 fitness professionals per 10,000 workers in the Ann Arbor, Michigan metro area, the second-highest rate for this metric of the 301 metro areas we analyzed. For their commutes, 7.4% of residents walk or bike to work, the 15th-highest percentage in this study. There are also plenty of fitness establishments in the metro area if you prefer to work out in a dedicated space: At 112 per 10,000 residents, this is the 10th-highest rate of the 301 places we analyzed.
5. Bloomington, IN
Folks in the Bloomington, Indiana metro area might have more of an opportunity to get a workout in during their commute, with 8.0% of residents walking or biking to work, the eighth-highest rate in the study for this metric. Bloomington has two other metrics for which it finishes in the top fifth of the 301 metro areas of the study â fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments (ranking 48th-highest, with 93) and average wage of personal trainers (ranking 49th-lowest, which makes it cheaper for the consumer, at $14.53).
6. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
The metro area around Santa Cruz, California finishes ninth overall for its relatively low percentage of restaurants that specialize in fast food, at 33%. Santa Cruz also comes in 12th for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, at 7.5%. If youâre looking for help getting in shape, though, itâll cost you. The average wage of a personal trainer in the area is a steep $20.59, ranking in the bottom third of this study.
7. Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, Arizona has the third highest percentage of residents who walk or bike to work we saw in this study, at 11.5%. There are also 109 fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments, the 14th-highest rate we observed. Flagstaff is hurt, though, by its price: The average wage of a personal trainer in this metro area is $22.27, in the bottom sixth of this study.
8. Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins is the first of two metro areas in Colorado to rank in the top 10 of this study, and it gets there on the strength of having 113 fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments, ranking ninth of 301 metro areas for this metric. It also scores in the top 15% of the study for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work (5.2%) and fitness professionals per 10,000 workers (46).
9. Boulder, CO
Boulder is the second Colorado metro area in the top 10, and it has two metrics for which it finishes in the top 15 out of 301 in the study overall. It comes in 11th for fitness professionals per 10,000 workers, at 53, and 12th for the percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, at 7.5%. Its final ranking is dragged down a bit due to its bottom-10 finish for the average hourly wage for personal trainers, at a pricey $27.25. However, it still ranks in the top 20 of the study for fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments, at 105.
10. Ithaca, NY
A whopping 14.5% of residents of Ithaca, New York walk or bike to work, the second-highest percentage in this study for this metric. Ithaca finishes eighth in terms of fitness establishments per 10,000 total establishments with 114. It is very expensive to get help with fitness in Ithaca, though. The average hourly wage for a personal trainer is $29.30, finishing third-worst out of 301 metro areas in this study for its high cost.
Data and Methodology
To find the most fitness-friendly places in the country for 2021, we examined data for 301 metro areas across the following five metrics:
- Percentage of residents who walk or bike to work. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Concentration of fitness professionals. This is the number of fitness professionals per 10,000 workers. Our list of fitness professionals includes dietitians and nutritionists, recreational therapists, athletic trainers as well as fitness trainers and aerobics instructors. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2019.
- Concentration of fitness establishments. This is the number of fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments. Our list of fitness establishments includes sporting goods stores and fitness and recreational sports centers. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2018 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
- Concentration of fast-food restaurants. This is the percentage of restaurants that are limited-service establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2018 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
- Average hourly wage of personal trainers. Given the limited availability of direct data about the cost to consumers for personal training services, this metric acts as a proxy to indicate the relative affordability of hiring a personal trainer in a given metro area. Data comes from the BLS and is for May 2019.
First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. Then we found each placeâs average ranking, giving all metrics a full weight except for concentration of fast-food restaurants and average hourly wage of personal trainers, each of which received a half weight. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The metro area with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, and the metro area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
Tips for a Fit and Financially Secure Life
- Find the right financial fit. No matter what your fitness goals are, financially you want to make sure you are secure, and a financial advisor can help. Finding the right financial advisor doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Consider the health of your budget. If you live somewhere where fitness is expensive, make a budget so that you can work the price into your monthly spending.
- Making bigger money moves? If youâre considering moving to one of the places we listed above, use SmartAssetâs tool to find out how much house you can afford before you make the big move.
Questions about our study? Contact email@example.com.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/PeopleImages
The post Most Fitness-Friendly Places for 2021 appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
2020 has shaped all of us in some way or another financially. Whether it is being reminded of the importance of living within our means or saving for a rainy day, these positive financial habits and lessons are timeless and ones we can take into the new year.Â
While everyone is on a very unique financial journey, we can still learn from each other. As we wrap up this year, it’s important to reflect on some of these positive financial habits and lessons and take the ones we need into 2021. Here are some of the top financial lessons:
Living Within Your Means
Itâs been said for years, centuries even, that one should live within one’s means. Well, I think a lot of people were reminded of this financial principle given the year weâve had. Living within your means is another way of saying donât spend more than you earn. I would take it one step further to say, set up your financial budget so you pay yourself first. Then only spend what is leftover on all the fun or variable items.
Setting up your budget in the Mint app or updating your budget in Mint to reflect the changes in your income or expenses is a great activity to do before the year ends. Follow the 50/20/30Â rule of thumb and ask yourself these questions:
- Are you spending more than you earn?
- Are there fixed bills you can reduce so you can save more for your financial goals?Â
- Can you reduce your variable spending and save that money instead?
The idea is to find a balance that allows you to pay for your fixed bills, save automatically every month and then only spend what is left over. If you donât have the money, then you cannot use debt to buy something. This is a great way to get back in touch with reality and also appreciate your money more.Â
Have a Cash Cushion
Having a cash cushion gives you peace of mind since you know that if anything unexpected comes up, which of course always happens in life, you have money that is easy to liquidate to pay for it versus paying it with debt or taking from long-term investments. Having an adequate cash cushion this year offered some people a huge sigh of relief when they lost their job or perhaps had reduced income for a few months. With a cash cushion or rainy day fund, they were still able to cover their bills with their savings.
Many people are making it their 2021 goal to build, replenish, or maintain their cash cushion.Â Typically, you want a cash cushion of about 3- 6 months of your core expenses. Your cash cushion is usually held in a high-yield saving account that you can access immediately if needed. However, you want to think of it almost as out of sight out of mind so it’s really there for bigger emergencies or opportunities that come up.
Having the right asset allocation and understanding your risk tolerance and timeframe of your investments is always important. With a lot of uncertainty and volatility in the stock market this year, more and more people are paying attention to their portfolio allocation and learning what that really means when it comes to risk and returns. Learning more about which investments you actually hold within your 401(k) or IRA is always important. I think the lesson this year reminded everybody that itâs your money and it’s up to you to know.
Even if you have an investment manager helping you, you still need to understand how your portfolio is allocated and what that means in terms of risk and what you can expect in portfolio volatility (ups and downs) versus the overall stock market. A lot of people watch the news and hear the stock market is going up or down, but fail to realize that may not be how your portfolio is actually performing. So get clear. Make sure that your portfolio matches your long term goal of retirement and risk tolerance and donât make any irrational short term decisions with your long-term money based on the stock market volatility or what the news and media are showcasing.
Right Insurance Coverage
We have all been reminded of the importance of health this year. Our own health and the health of our loved ones should be a top priority. It’s also an extremely important part of financial success over time. It is said, insurance is the glue that can hold everything together in your financial life if something catastrophic happens. Insurances such as health, auto, home, disability, life, long-term care, business, etc. are really important but having the right insurance policy and coverage in place for each is the most important part.
Take time and review all the insurance coverage you have and make sure it is up to date and still accurate given your life circumstances and wishes. Sometimes you may have a life insurance policy in place for years but fail to realize there is now a better product in the marketplace with more coverage or better terms. With any insurance, it is wise to never cancel a policy before you a full review and new policy to replace it already in place. The last thing you want is to be uninsured. Make sure you also have an adequate estate plan whether itâs a trust or will that showcases your wishes very clearly. This way, you can communicate that with your trust/will executorâs, beneficiaries, family members, etc. so they are clear on everything as well.Â
Financial lessons will always be there. Year after year, life throws us challenges and successes to remind us of what is most important. Take time, reflect, and get a game plan in place for 2021 that takes everything you have learned up until now into account. This will help you set the tone for an abundant and thriving new financial year.Â
The post Financial Lessons Learned During the Pandemic appeared first on MintLife Blog.
Dan Stous works in financial planning and wealth management. Online savings accounts initially came on his radar when he saw their interest rates steadily rise.
“The whole reason I was looking for an online account was because deposit rates at traditional brick-and-mortar banks have continued to stay low despite rising interest rates,” says Stous, who is the director of financial planning at Flagstone Financial Management in Lincoln, Nebraska.
He and his wife opted for a DiscoverÂ® Online Savings Account, named Best Savings Account by NerdWallet in 2020, and started making monthly transfers into it to help save for a car. They were pleased to find the funds growing quickly with the account’s high interest rate and annual percentage yield (APY).
Whether you’re saving for a new set of wheels like Stous and his wife, a home down payment, an emergency fund or [enter your next big financial goal here], an online savings account could be your ticket to success.
What are the benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account? Here are six things to know about a Discover Online Savings Account that will help you take your savings game to the next level:
1. You can grow your savings with a high interest rate
Regardless of your financial goal, you’ll want your savings to earn interest (and then you’ll want that interest to earn even more interest). One of the benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account is that you can grow your money with a savings account interest rate over 5x the National Savings Average.1
You earned it.
Now earn more withÂ it.
Online savings with no minimum balance.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
With online banks offering superior yields compared to traditional banks, Stous recommends online savings accounts to his clients as a financial strategy. “We have been steering people to online accounts because the rates have been so much better,” Stous says.
2.Â You can save yourself the hassle of fees
A bank account fee here and there can really add up. And who wants sneaky fees to eat into your hard-earned savings? One of the top benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account is that you won’t be charged an account fee.* Common fees that you won’t see with your Discover Online Savings Account include fees for:
- Monthly maintenance
- Official bank check (there’s also no fee if you need expedited delivery of your check)
- Deposited item returned
- Insufficient funds
- Stop payment order
- Account closure
Another thing to know about a Discover Online Savings Account is that the lack of maintenance or activity fees means you don’t have to stress about initiating certain account behavior (say, a regular direct deposit) to avoid a charge that could set your savings back.
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“The whole reason I was looking for an online account was because deposit rates at traditional brick-and-mortar banks have continued to stay low despite rising interest rates.”
3. There’s no balance requirement
When considering important things to know about a Discover Online Savings Account, add no minimum balance requirement to the list. If you are just getting started with your savings (way to go!), it can be challenging to set aside a large chunk of cash just to avoid a balance requirement fee. With the Discover Online Savings Account’s no minimum balance requirement, you can start small and continue to add to your savings as your budget allows.
Getting ready to make a big withdrawal for an exciting big purchase? No problem. If you’ve reached a goal and need to put your savings to work, go right ahead. You won’t need to stress about getting charged for the lower balance that remains in your Discover Online Savings Account, and you can start building up your funds again for the next big thing.
4. You can manage your account onlineâand on the go
Your life is online and on the goâso your savings account should be right there with you. You can open a Discover Online Savings Account from the comfort of your couch (or when commuting in your rideshare) in three easy steps:
- Enter the essentials (personal information like your address and Social Security number).
- Fund the account with a starting balance of your choosing (or come back and do it later if you prefer).
- Check your inbox for an email confirmation.
Once you are up and running, you can easily transfer funds between different accountsâDiscover accounts as well as external onesâand set up automatic transfers into your savings account so you can grow your funds on autopilot.
If you’re on the move, the account’s mobile app is control in your hands via your smartphone or tablet. Whether you’re in line for a coffee or waiting for your child’s extracurricular activity to wrap up, you can easily transfer money between your Discover Online Savings Account and other accounts, view your account activity and electronically deposit checks. Only have a second but want to check in? Quick View is a benefit of a Discover Online Savings Account that allows you to view your savings account balance without having to log in.
“The mobile app is very user friendly,” says Rick Vazza, financial planner and president of Driven Wealth Management. “It’s easy to use and easy to sync with a checking account. There’s a seamless flow.”
5. You can experience top-notch customer service
Customer service can be hard to evaluate, but the ability to quickly speak to a real person is certainly one sign of good customer relations.
“I’ve been seeing people particularly attracted to value-added services. The first being customer service,” Vazza explains.
Discover’s customer support is 100 percent U.S.-based and offers the ability to speak with a live person 24/7 without having to go through a bunch of automated prompts. Having knowledgeable and friendly customer service adds to the benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account.
“People like the fact that Discover is an all U.S.-based service,” Vazza adds.
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“I’ve been seeing people particularly attracted to value-added services. The first being customer service. People like the fact that Discover is an all U.S.-based service.â
6. You can easily access your funds2
When and how you can withdraw money is important to know before you open a savings account. “How easy it is to get the money is a huge question, particularly with older generations,” Stous says. Having multiple ways to withdraw is a plus.
With a Discover Online Savings Account, your withdrawal options include:
- Setting up electronic transfers between your Discover Online Savings Account and other internal or external bank accounts.
- Requesting a no-fee official bank check.
- Initiating an outgoing wire transfer.*
On your mark, get setâsave!
Understanding the things to know about a Discover Online Savings Account could help you make the decision to open an easy-to-use and high-yield financial solution for storing your cash. Whether you’re saving up for something special or creating a savings safety net, it’s tending to these areas of your financial plan that will better prepare you for what comes next.
Learn more about a Discover Online Savings AccountÂ today.
* Outgoing wire transfers are subject to a service charge.
1 The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) for the Online Savings Account as of 01/01/2021 is more than five times the national average APY for interest-bearing savings accounts with balances of $500 as reported by Informa Research Services, Inc. as of 01/01/2021. Interest rates and APYs are subject to change at any time. Although the information provided by Informa Research Services has been obtained from the various institutions, accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
2 Federal law limits certain types of withdrawals and transfers from savings and money market accounts to a combined total of 6 per calendar month per account. There are no limits on ATM withdrawals or official checks mailed to you. To get an account with an unlimited number of transactions, consider opening a Discover Cashback Debit account. If you go over these limitations on more than an occasional basis, your account may be closed. See Section 11 of the Deposit Account Agreement for more details.
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