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Reaching your twenties is an exciting milestone for most as it means youâve officially entered adulthood. Along with that milestone comes new responsibilities and worries that we didnât picture when our teenage selves dreamed of turning 21. We imagined our college graduation, moving into our first apartment, and launching our new career. That vision didnât include dealing with student loan debt, taking on a low paying entry-level job, or having to confront that despite spending 4 years in college, youâre still unsure how the world of personal finance actually works.
Itâs easy to dismiss it all because well youâre a 20 something, and youâll have plenty of time to play catch up. The reality is that each decade plays an important role in our future financial health. Take the time now to learn about your money and follow the money moves outlined below to put yourself on a path of lifelong financial success and eventual freedom.
Money Moves to Make in Your 20âs:
Learn How To Budget
Building a budget doesnât have to be overly complicated or time-consuming. Itâs actually the first step in putting yourself in control of your finances because it means you know where your money goes each month. The good news is that there are lots of apps and online tools that can make the process a breeze. Consider a system like Mint that will connect to your accounts and automatically categorize your spending for you. The right budgeting tool is simply the one youâll stick with long term.
Pay Off Debt
Debt isnât all bad. It may be the reason you were able to earn your degree, and a mortgage may help you one day buy a home. It can also quickly overrun your life if you arenât careful. Nowâs the perfect time before life gets more hectic with family commitments to buckle down and tackle any loans or credit card balances so you can be debt-free going into your 30âs.
Build a Cash Cushion
The financial downturn caused by the pandemic has reminded the whole world of the importance of having an emergency fund. We donât know what life is going to throw at us and having a cushion can help you navigate the uncertain times. Though itâs not all about having a secret stash of cash to deal with the bad news of life (medical bills, car repair, layoff), it can also be about having the cash to seize an exciting opportunity. Having savings gives you the freedom and security to deal with whatever life brings your way – good or bad.
Your credit score can dictate so much of your life. That little number can play a big role in the home you buy, the car you drive, and even the job you hold as some employers (especially in the finance world) will pull your credit. Itâs important that you check your credit report and score (also available through Mint), learn how itâs calculated, and work to improve it.
Money Moves to Make in Your 30âs:
Invest For Retirement
Now that youâve spent your 20âs building the foundation for your financial life, itâs time to make sure youâre also tackling the big picture goals like saving and investing for retirement. I typically recommend that clients save 10% to 15% of their annual income towards retirement. That may seem like an insurmountable goal, but starting small by saving even 1 to 3% of your salary can make a big difference in the future. Also, make sure to take advantage of any matching contributions that your employer may provide in your retirement plan. If, for example, they offer to match contributions up to 6%, I would try hard to work towards contributing at least 6%.
Buying Your First Home
Buying your first home is a top goal for many, but it also seems to be getting increasingly more difficult especially if you live in a major city. The most important steps you can take is to improve your credit score, pay down high-interest debt, and be aggressive about saving for a down payment. Saving 20% down will help you qualify for the best loan terms and interest rate, but there are still home loans available even if you arenât able to save that much. Just be realistic with your budget and what you can afford. Donât let a lender or real estate agent determine what payment will fit into your budget.
Be Covered Under These Must-Have Insurances
Youâve spent the last several years building your savings and growing your family. Itâs now crucial that you have the proper insurance coverage in place to protect your assets and your loved ones. Life and disability insurance are top of the list. Life insurance doesnât have to be expensive or complex. Get a quote for term-life that will last a set number of years and protect your partner and children during those crucial years that they depend on you. Disability insurance protects your income if you become sick or injured and are unable to work. Your earning ability is one of your biggest assets during this time, and you should protect it. This coverage may be offered through your employer, or you can request a quote for an individual policy.
Invest in Self-Care and Well Being
Mental health is part of self-care and wealth. Most people donât talk about how financial stress and worry affect their overall health. When you can take care of yourself on all levels, you will feel healthier and wealthier, and happier. But it is not easy. It takes work, effort, awareness, and consciousness to learn how to detach the value in your bank account or financial account from your self-worth and value as a human being. When you feel emotional about your money, investments, or the stock market, learn ways to process them and take care of yourself by hiring licensed professionals and experts to help you.
Money Moves to Make in Your 40âs:
Revisit Your College Savings Goal
As your kids get older and prepare to enter their own journey into adulthood, paying for college is likely a major goal on your list. Consider opening a 529 plan (if you havenât already) to save for their education. 529 plans offer tax advantages when it comes to saving for college. There are lots of online resources that can help you understand and pick the right plan for you. Visit https://www.savingforcollege.com. This is also a great time to make sure you’re talking to your kids about money. Give them the benefit of a financial education that you may not have had.
Get Aggressive with Retirement Planning
Your 40âs likely mark peak earning years. Youâll want to take advantage of your higher earnings to maximize your retirement savings especially if you werenât able to save as much in your 20âs and 30âs. Revisit your retirement plan to crunch the numbers so you’ll be clear on what you need to save to reach your goal.
Build More Wealth
Youâve arrived at mid-life probably feeling younger than you are and wondering how the heck that big 4-0 got on your birthday cake. We typically associate being 20 with being free, but I think weâve got it wrong. There is something incredibly freeing about the wisdom and self-assurance that comes with getting older. Youâve proved yourself. People see you as an adult. Your kids are getting older and your finances are more settled. Nowâs the time to kick it up to the next level. Look for ways to build additional wealth. This may mean tapping into your entrepreneurial side to launch the business youâve dreamed of or buying real estate to increase passive income. Nowâs also a great time to find a trusted financial advisor who can help guide your next steps and help you plan the best ways to build your wealth.
Revisit Your Insurance Coverage
Insurance was crucial before, but itâs time to revisit your coverage and make sure youâre protected especially if you decide to launch a business or buy additional real estate. This is also where a financial advisor can help you analyze your coverage needs and find the policies that will work for you.
Consider Estate Planning
Estate planning (think wills, trusts, power of attorney) isnât the most fun / exciting topic. It involves imagining your gone and creating a plan for the loved ones you leave behind. It is also often overlooked by adults in their younger years. Itâs easy to assume estate planning is something the wealthy need to do. It really comes down to whether you want to decide how your life savings will be managed or if you want a court to decide. Itâs also crucial for parents with children who are minors to select a guardian and have those uncomfortable conversations with their family members about who would care for the children if the worst were to happen. Itâs also a good time to visit this topic with your own aging parents and make sure they have the proper documents and plans in place.
Whether you’re in your 20âs, 30âs or 40âs, it can be easy to put off planning your finances especially in the middle of a pandemic. Most of us are busy, and itâs easy to tell yourself that youâll have time to work on a goal in the future. Commit to setting aside one hour each week or even each month to have a money date and review your finances. Donât let yourself reach a milestone birthday (30, 40) and regret not being farther ahead. Follow these money moves now to seize control of your financial future.
The post Money Moves to Make in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s appeared first on MintLife Blog.
As 2020 ended, we left behind some challenging times â and some valuable credit card perks, like $20 streaming and mobile statement credits the on The Platinum CardÂ® from American Express. (Both expired on Dec. 31, 2020.)
Fortunately, Amex hasnât left Platinum cardmembers with nothing in the place of the expired perk. On the contrary, the issuer has added yet another exciting benefit.
See related: Amex adds Uber Eats Pass for Green, Gold and Platinum, Uber Cash credit on Gold
For a limited time, Amex Platinum cardholders will be able to enjoy a $30 monthly PayPal credit. While itâs less than the cumulative $40 in monthly streaming and mobile credits the issuer offered late last year, the perk still offers a great value and can be very versatile.
How the new PayPal credit works
Amex Platinum cardmembers will be able to use the new perk through June 30, 2021. No registration is required, and the credit will be applied automatically.
To use the perk, link your American Express Platinum card to your PayPal account and set it as the default payment method. Now, when you shop at eligible online merchants, you can select to check out via PayPal and get up to $30 credited back to you in your monthly statement. Youâll earn Membership Rewards points on this type of transactions as well.
Note, however, that peer-to-peer payments arenât eligible for this offer, and you also canât use it on gift card purchases or prepaid card reloads.
Receive up to $880 in credits with Amex Platinum in 2021
This perk is far from the first valuable credit offered on the Platinum card.
The credits on the Amex Platinum include annual Uber credits of up to $200 ($15 per month plus an extra $20 in December), an up to $200 airline-fee credit, up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credits per year, a $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Precheck application fee credit every four years and a $100 hotel credit every time you book with The Hotel Collection.
The $30 monthly PayPal credit will be available through June â for up to $180 in PayPal credits in total.
The newly added limited-time perk brings the total credits you can receive from the Amex Platinum up to $880 in 2021 (if you only use the hotel credit once).
Considering the cardâs annual fee is $550, you can get a lot of value from your Amex, especially if we get to see travel finally coming back this year.
The new $30 monthly PayPal credit on Amex Platinum may be less valuable than the discontinued $20 streaming and mobile statement credits, but itâs versatile and easy to use â PayPal checkout is available at thousands of online retailers, including major ones, such as Walmart, Target, Home Depot and others.
Coupled with other credits and perks the Amex Platinum offers, the new benefit drives up the value of the card, making it a travel credit card thatâs worth it to have even in the times when travel is limited.
Buying a new or used car can be an intimidating experience. Many car salespeople may pressure you to leave the lot with a purchased vehicle, so itâs crucial youâre armed with information about the cars you are interested in, the budget you can afford, and the value of your trade-inâif you have one. With these details, you have all the tools you need to negotiate properly.
Here are 10 tips and strategies for making sure you get the best-quality vehicle at the lowest price.
1. Think about Financing
Prior to visiting any dealership, have a sense of what kind of deposit you can put down and what monthly payment you can afford. It also helps to do some research on available auto loans to get a sense of what you qualify for. Or try a service like AutoGravity, which allows you to select rates and terms that fit your budget and then obtain offers from lenders.
2. Check Your Credit Score
Knowing your credit score can be helpful as well. JustinÂ Lavelle, chief communications officer forÂ BeenVerified, says, âHaving a good idea of your credit report and credit score and the interest rates available can help you negotiate a good deal and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.â
3. Shop Around
Research the cars you might be interested in before you head to a dealership, rather than going in unprepared. To determine what kind of car you want, use resources like US News Best Cars, where you can search anything from âbest cars for familiesâ to âbest used cars under 10k.â Another resource is Autotrader, which can be used to search new and used cars in your area by make, model, price, body style, and more.
4. Compare Prices
Lavelle also stresses getting detailed pricing info in advance: âPrice the car at different dealerships and use online services to get invoice and deal pricing.â A reliable tool is Kelley Blue Book. Use the siteâs car value tool to find out the MSRP and the dealer invoice of a car as well as a range of prices you can expect to see at dealerships. TrueCar is also helpful to use. You can search for and request pricing on any make, model, or year of car. You may get a slew of phone calls, emails, and texts from dealers immediately after, but having information from different dealerships can help you negotiate prices. You should also visit dealer sites to look for rebate offers.
5. Research Your Trade-Inâs Value
If you have a trade-in, donât wait for the salesperson to tell you what itâs worth. On Kelley Blue Book, you can get a sense of the value ahead of time so you know if youâre receiving a good offer. Or try the Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer feature, where dealers will give you a guaranteed price for a trade, eliminating complicated haggling at the dealership.Â
6. Test Drive Potential Purchases
You may want to pass on the test drive if youâre familiar with a particular make and model, but Lavelle recommends taking the time to do it anyway. âIt is a good idea to inspect the car and give it a good test drive just to make sure all is working and there are no noticeable squeaks, rattles, or shimmies that could cause you headaches after your purchase,â he says.
7. Look at Car Histories
Before selecting dealerships to visit, search for consumer reviews so you can avoid having a bad experience. However, Lavelle warns that just because a car sits on a reputable, well-reviewed lot does not necessarily mean that the car is issue-free. So he recommends digging deeper, especially for used cars. âServices like CARFAX represent that they can tell you about the carâs life from first purchase forward, so that might be a good place to start,â he says. He also recommends checking the title, which you can do online via the DMV.
8. Find Repair Records
In addition to checking the repair history on the specific car you are interested in, Autotrader suggests looking up the repair record of the make and model. âCheck J.D. Power and Consumer Reports reliability ratings to see if the vehicle you’re considering is known to be aÂ reliable one,â the site states. It also recommend Internet forums and word of mouth.
9. Spring for an Inspection
Autotrader also suggests telling the seller you require an inspectionÂ from a mechanic before purchase to ensure there aren’t any problems. âWhile a mechanic may charge $100 or more for such an inspection, it can be worth it if it saves you from thousands of dollars in potential repairs,â it recommends. Some sellers may try to dismiss a mechanic’s inspection. Don’t give inâthe seller could be covering up a serious issue with the car. Insist an inspection is done, or rethink your purchase.
10. Know Your Rights
Shopping for a car can be frightening, but with the right research and preparation, you wonât have any regrets. Use the tips and resources above, and snag a free credit report from Credit.com so you know what kind of financing you can expect.
It is common occurrence on American highways for near-accidents to occur. It is also a common occurrence on American highways for people in near-accidents, to look at the license plate of the near-accident-causer and think to themselves, âOh, well of course theyâre from Massachusetts.â Or some other state. It seems like almost every state has a reputation for having terrible drivers. Thanks to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration we can confirm some of those myths and dispel others.
Looking to move? Check out mortgage rates in your new area here.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration around 32,000 people were killed in vehicle-related incidents in 2014. Of course some incidents are genuinely accidents, while some are clearly the fault of one driver, like in the event of drunk driving. But deaths and DUIs are not the only metrics to measure bad driving, people who receive speeding tickets or do not have automobile insurance can also be considered negligent drivers.
To find the states with the worst drivers SmartAsset looked at number of drivers, DUI arrests, people killed, google trends in speeding tickets and percentage of people who have auto insurance. To find out how we put all these numbers together to create our index please read the full methodology below.
No Massachusetts. Boston drivers usually have a reputation as bad drivers but the numbers we analyzed donât bear that out. Massachusetts ranks 48 on our list. While we have no data on non-fatal accidents, the fact that they lead the nation in insured rate is a positive sign.
Be careful when driving in the southeast. Maybe itâs the heat causing road rage, but four out of the top ten states in our study are located in the southeast.
Florida is often plagued with a reputation for bad drivers. The numbers seem to show that this might, in fact, be true. Floridians google âspeeding ticketsâ and âtraffic ticketsâ more than any other state. They also have the second lowest number of insured drivers in the nation.
Another southern state and another state in which one ought to be extra careful when driving through. Mississippi had the 5th highest deaths resulting from vehicular incidents. One area where Mississippi can improve is in DUIs. Mississippi had the 12th highest rate of DUI arrests per driver in the country. Like Florida relatively few people are insured. They rank 3rd worst in that category with only 77% insured.
Buying car insurance? Avoid these 6 mistakes.
Continuing on the theme of states with low insured driver rates, Oklahoma has the least. Only 74% of drivers in Oklahoma are insured. It does not get much better for the state in the other categories we looked at. They have one of the 15 worst scores in DUIs per thousand drivers (7.74), number of people killed per thousand drivers in vehicular incidents (.21) and rate of googling parking and traffic tickets (52.13).
4. New Jersey
The Garden State has the infamy of being the state with the second most deaths per driver at 0.62. New Jersey drivers are more likely to be insured than some of the other states on our list. New Jersey drivers are insured at a rate of almost 90%, coming in 22nd on our list.
New Jerseys neighbor and rival for worst drivers in the northeast, Delaware is unfortunately the only state with more deaths per driver than New Jersey. One curious statistic is that while Delaware has the lowest DUI rate per driver, 40% of deaths occurred when the driver was above the legal limit for drinking, which is the 4th highest rate in the country.
Another southern state and a similar story to the others with pretty bad scores all around. One bright spot â Alabama has the 4th best score with only 1.42 DUI arrests per thousand drivers. Like Delaware, though, that statistic does not tell the whole story, 33% of deaths in Alabama resulted from a driver being over the legal alcohol limit.
Vermont leads the nation in DUIs per driver with 50 per thousand drivers. However, they also have the lowest percentage of deaths resulting from drunk driving, at 20%.
Tennessee is one of the least insured states in the country, with 20% of people not having car insurance. Tennessee also has the 18th highest number of deaths per thousand drivers. One positive is that they are in the better half of the country for DUI per thousand drivers at 5.7.
Tragically for Texas it has the highest percentage of deaths coming from drunk drivers at 40% and yet it is in the better half of states for DUI arrests. Recent news that Uber and Lyft will both be leaving Austin may have an impact. According to MyStatesman, Austin only has permits for 756 legal taxis and is hoping to increase that to 1,161. But for a tech hot-spot with a population of 850,000 even this may not be enough.
Nevada is the 3rd worst state for traffic and speeding tickets (when comparing googling trends) as well as being the 17th worst state for DUIs. The good news is that 88% of Nevada drivers are insured.
Data and Methodology
In order to find out which state had the worst drivers SmartAsset collected data across 4 metrics.
Percentage insured. Data is taken from the Insurance Research Council.
DUI per thousand drivers. Number of drivers is taken from the Federal Highway Administration. Number of DUIs is taken from the State Justice Department.
Deaths per thousand drivers. Data is taken from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Google trends on driving tickets. This data is the average of the scores each state got in google trends for the 8 phrases: speeding ticket, âspeeding ticket,â speeding tickets, âspeeding tickets,â traffic ticket, âtraffic ticket,â traffic tickets and âtraffic tickets.â
We then indexed each factor for every state giving equal weighting and then finding the average score per state to create the final index.
Questions about our study? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/Ben Harding
The post States With the Worst Drivers â 2016 Edition appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
In the era of lockdowns and social distancing, you’re probably relying most heavily on your credit card, as you shop online for many of your purchases.
But you might run into a snag and not be able to complete your transaction if you’re trying to use your card after its expiration date.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to keep those purchases coming all year long.
See related: How do credit cards work?
Wear and tear
While your credit card account itself doesn’t expire at a certain time, the piece of plastic associated with it does.
That’s because “magnetic stripes wear out, cards bend,” says Nessa Feddis, a senior vice president at the American Bankers Association.
Because of their propensity to show wear and tear, “issuers want to make sure to get working cards into customers’ hands,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst for CreditCards.com.
Cards with magnetic stripes typically wear out faster, so they usually expire after three years, Rossman says.
EMV cards, which contain computer chips embedded in them, tend to show less wear than those with magnetic stripes, Rossman says. As a result, many issuers are extending the expiration date on those cards to five years.
Sending you a new card periodically also allows issuers to implement design upgrades and technology updates, according to a spokeswoman for Discover.
Credit cards for retailers such as Macy’s can be an exception and there may be no expiration date on such cards.
Safety and security
Expiration dates also serve as a security measure. If you’re making a purchase online or by phone, you’ll typically be asked to provide your account number, the three- or four-digit security code on the card and the credit card expiration date.
The expiration date helps to verify that your transaction is valid, Feddis says. “It’s another data point to match up.”
For the card issuer, putting an expiration on a credit card helps the company manage its credit card portfolio, Rossman says. About 20% to 30% of credit cards that are issued are never activated.
Having an expiration date on a card serves as a “mechanism for re-evaluating a customer’s standing and potentially clearing dormant cards off the books,” Rossman says.
According to the American Bankers Association, Americans held 373 million credit card accounts in the second quarter of 2020. But that was down from 374 million in the second quarter of 2019. It was the first time the number of accounts has fallen since 2012, no doubt tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, credit card debt fell by $74 billion from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020, according to the New York Federal Reserve. The drop was driven by the economic recession caused by the pandemic.
See related: Many Americans say they’ll spend less after the pandemic than before
Where to look
If you want to check your credit card’s expiration date, you’ll often find it embossed on the front of your card, under your account number and above your name.
It will be embossed with the two-digit month and two-digit year, such as 02/21.
In the past, the raised numbers were needed on the front of a credit card because merchants would use a machine to make an imprint of the numbers on a receipt, and customers would have to sign the receipt. Now those machines are few and far between.
Today you may have a newer chip credit card that has no raised numbers on the front, and the account number is printed on the back.
With those cards, you’ll also find the expiration date on the back of the card, below your account number.
The expiration date is listed as a month and year, so your card is valid through the last day of that month, the Discover spokeswoman says.
Your new card should be sent to you well in advance of the expiration date. Once the new card arrives, be sure to activate it using your computer or by calling in to the number listed on the sticker placed on your card. Sign your card and be sure to destroy your old one.
See related: What do the numbers on your credit card mean?
If you use your credit card to make recurring payments, you’ll need to update your card information with the merchant to make sure your payments continue to go through, the Discover spokeswoman says.
However, many merchants subscribe to credit card issuers’ account updater services. If you get a credit card with a new expiration date, or you receive a card with a new account number, the service updates that information to the merchant, so your credit card payment will continue to be processed.
If your account information doesn’t automatically update, you may receive an email from the merchant, asking you to go to the company’s website and update your information.
Paying attention to your credit card expiration date can help keep your transactions on track throughout the year.
A four-bedroom townhouse with park views and tons of charm has recently hit the market, and we’re dying to tell you all about it. The listing, brought to market by Compass’ Michael J. Franco, is right next to Prospect Park, Brooklynâs second largest park, and has plenty of outdoor space (and a rooftop deck to boot).
The townhouse sits in one of Brooklynâs trendiest, most desirable neighborhoods — Park Slope — with its leafy streets lined with brick and brownstone townhouses, many of which were built near the turn of the 20th century and have been lovingly updated over the decades by young families migrating from Manhattan. Much like its neighboring properties, the 2,600-square-foot townhome at 15 Prospect Park was originally built more than a century ago in 1915 and retains its old-world charm — but has been carefully updated to meet modern standards of living.
With 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a generously sized living room, and a finished basement, the Brooklyn townhouse also comes with a few rare features for a New York home: ample outdoor space and private parking (that includes a private garage and its own driveway).
The layout is split on three levels, with the first floor housing a large living room and open dining room — both with distinctive pre-war features like classic moldings and arches — and a renovated kitchen that opens up to a lovely terrace.
The second floor is home to 3 bedrooms and a sizeable landing which is perfect for either a library or a home office, while the third floor is dedicated to the primary bedroom suite and its massive walk-in closet, renovated bath with skylights and soaring ceilings, with a separate sitting area/den. The third level also provides access to the townhouse’s own rooftop deck, which adds more outdoor space and looks like a perfect place to entertain guests.
The property is listed for $4,400,000 with Compass associate real estate broker Michael J. Franco.
More beautiful New York City homes
This Brooklyn Condo Has a Dreamy Backyard that Will Make You Forget Youâre in the City
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The post Newly Renovated, 1915-Built Townhouse in Park Slope Asks $4.4 Million appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a new appreciation of backyards and other outdoor spaces. With many of us spending hours and hours at home, we’re all looking for places to relax other than the living room sofa and kitchen. If you have a yard with ample space for you and your family, consider yourself blessed.
But in 2021, outdoor space owners might want to consider taking it up a notch with one of the most sought-after features: an outdoor kitchen.
âI looked at this as an investment our family would enjoy for the next 20-plus years,â says lifestyle expert Evette Rios, who recently embarked on her own outdoor kitchen project.
For people who dream of spending even more time cooking outside and enjoying their backyard, an outdoor kitchen is a must. And now’s the time to get to work to ensure your kitchen is ready when the warm, sunny days arrive.
Take a look at the tips below from experts who have successfully completed outdoor kitchen projects of their own.
1. Set a budget
Outdoor kitchens are not a cheap investment, but the price range is really broad. The cost of an outdoor kitchen ranges from $5,406 to $21,699, according to HomeAdvisor.com. Therefore, there are many ways to tailor your kitchen to your budget.
That being said, you should always prioritize durable materials in an outdoor kitchen.
âInterior furnishings afford a bit more leeway on where you splurge and save,â says HGTV starÂ Laurie March. âBut for outdoor kitchens and living spaces, performance and durabilityâwhen it comes to cabinetry and appliancesâwill always be worth it.â
2. Seek out American-made products
Photo by Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens
March says COVID-19 has caused major global supply chain interruptions, which has made acquiring building materials and appliances difficult. But sourcing for your outdoor kitchen might be easier if you opt for American-made products.
âI selected Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, which are manufactured in Connecticut. It made the process so much easier,â says March.
She says it wasnât only about convenience, but also craftsmanship, quality, and the company’s established history.
3. Order appliances early in the planning process
Appliances are what will make your outdoor kitchen shine. But youâll want to order them sooner rather than later because some companies have long lead times or backordered items.
March advises finalizing appliance picks first and ordering as quickly as possible.
âItâs easier to store them until youâre ready to install rather than have to wait for them to arrive, which can add substantial time to your project,â she says.
4. Design with four seasons in mind
Photo by Chicago Green Design Inc.
Rios highly recommends designing your outdoor kitchen for year-round enjoyment. For example, in her outdoor kitchen, she knew she wanted durable, high-quality cabinets to keep contents dry even in rain or high humidity.
âHeating elements in different zones of the outdoor space are also crucial,â says Rios. âIn the kitchen, our pizza oven helps keep us warm during food prep, and the fire pit is a cozy spot for guests to gather.â
If you have a covered outdoor space, she recommends planning and budgeting for ceiling-mounted heat lamps, or invest in one or two free-standing, mobile heating units.
5. Find the right people for the job
March says homeowners should do their homework and hire the right professionals to guide them through their vision, flag any potential pitfalls, and elevate the overall aesthetic.
âFor me, bringing a landscape designer onboard brought the whole vision for our outdoor kitchen and yard together,â says March.
Rios says itâs also important to lock in a trusted contractor and installer to ensure the vision and layout for your outdoor kitchen is doable and within your budget.
6. Have fun with color
Photo by DeGoey Designs
Rios says an outdoor kitchen is the perfect space to have fun with color, whether taking cues from the surrounding landscape or going bright and bold.
âBlues and greens can so easily play off of surrounding elements outdoors. Iâm over the all-white kitchen, and I think outdoor kitchens are the perfect opportunity to embrace brighter hues,” says Rios, who used a beautiful juniper-green, powder-coat finish on her outdoor kitchen cabinetry.
7. Design based on how youâll use your space
âAsking yourself the right questions as you think through design options can provide a lot of helpful guidance,â says March. âHow do you want to live outdoors? Whatâs not working with your current or past space, and how could it rise up to meet you a bit better?â
She says itâs also important to consider whoâs going to use the outdoor kitchen space. Does it need to be wheelchair-accessible or suitable for pets and kids?
âThese details will dictate so much of your design,â says March.
For her space, she envisioned how it could pivot from a space to cook to a space to entertain. The big, open shelf she installed, for example, serves as additional landing space for items she brings out from the indoor kitchen.
The post How to Dine Al Fresco Year-Round: 7 Outdoor Kitchen Design Tips for 2021 appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
If you want to whip your finances into shape, hereâs a good New Yearâs resolution: improving your credit score.
A lot of New Yearâs resolutions fail because theyâre so extreme. Think of all the bonkers weight-loss and money-saving goals that surface at the start of every year.
This resolution is different. No extreme measures are required. But there arenât any shortcuts. Building good credit is a goal you need to commit to 12 months a year.
How to Build Good Credit in 10 Steps
Ready to make 2021 the year you finally prove your creditworthiness? Or are you looking to recover from a 2020 setback? Hereâs how to build good credit in 10 steps.
1. Stay on Top of Your Credit Reports
Itâs essential to monitor your credit reports, especially if you received a hardship agreement from a lender due to COVID-19. Under the CARES Act rules, lenders are supposed to report your account as paid in full while the agreement is in effect, as long as you werenât already delinquent. But mistakes happen. Even in normal times, about 1 in 5 credit reports contained inaccurate information.
Through April 2021, you can get one free credit report per week from each bureau. (Typically, youâre only entitled to one free credit report per year from each bureau.) Make sure you access your reports at AnnualCreditReport.com, rather than one of the many websites that offer âfreeâ credit scores but will make you put down your credit card number to sign up for a trial. File a dispute with the bureaus if you find anything you think is inaccurate or any accounts you donât recognize.
Your credit reports wonât show you your credit score, but you can use a free credit-monitoring service to check your score. (No, checking your own credit doesnât hurt your score.) Many banks and credit card companies also give you your credit scores for free.
If the bureaus agree to remove information from your credit reports, expect to wait about 30 days until your reports are updated.
2. Pay Your Bills. On Time. Every Single Month
Yeah, you knew we were going to say this: Paying your bills on time is the No. 1 thing you can do to build good credit. Your payment history determines 35% of your score, more than any other credit factor.
Set whatever bills you can to autopay for at least the minimums to avoid missing payments. You can always pay extra if you can afford it.
A strong payment history takes time to build. If youâve made late payments, theyâll stay on your credit reports for seven years. The good news is, they do the most damage to your score in the first two years. After that, the impact starts to fade.
3. Establish Credit, Even if Youâve Made Mistakes
You typically need a credit card or loan to build a credit history. (Sorry, but all those on-time rent and utility payments are rarely reported to the credit bureaus, so they wonât help your score.)
But if you have bad credit or youâre a credit newbie, getting approved for a credit card or loan is tough. Look for cards that are specifically marketed to help people start or rebuild credit. Store credit cards, which only let you make purchases at a specific retailer, can also be a good option.
4. Open a Secured Card if You Donât Qualify for a Regular Card
Opening a secured credit card is one of our favorite ways to build a positive history when you canât get approved for a regular credit card or loan. You put down a refundable deposit, and that becomes your line of credit.
After about a year of making your payments on time, youâll typically qualify for an unsecured line of credit. Just make sure the card issuer you choose reports your payments to the credit bureaus. Look for a card with an annual fee of no more than $35. Some secured card options we like (and no, weâre not getting paid to say this):
- Discover it Secured
- OpenSky Secured Visa Card
- Secured Mastercard from Capital One
5. Ask for a Limit Increase. Pretend You Never Got It
Increasing your credit limits helps your score because it decreases your credit utilization ratio. Thatâs credit score speak for the percentage of credit youâre using. The standard recommendation is to keep this number below 30%, but really, the closer to zero the better.
If you have open credit, ask your current creditors for an increase, rather than applying for new credit. That way, youâll avoid lowering your length of credit, which could ding your score.
The downside of a higher credit limit: Youâll have more money to spend that isnât really yours. To get the biggest credit score boost from a limit increase and avoid paying more in interest, make sure you donât add to your balance.
Donât believe the myth that carrying a small credit card balance helps your credit score. Paying off your balance in full each month is best for your score, plus it saves you money on interest.
6. Prioritize Credit Card Debt Over Loans
Tackling credit card debt helps your credit score a lot more than paying down other debts, like a student loan or mortgage. The reason? Your credit utilization ratio is determined exclusively by your lines of credit.
Bonus: Paying off credit card debt first will typically save you money, because credit cards tend to have higher interest rates than other types of debt.
7. Keep Your Old Accounts Active
Provided you arenât paying ridiculous fees, keep your credit card accounts open once youâve paid off the balance. Credit scoring methods reward you for having a long credit history.
Make a purchase at least once every three months on the account, as credit card companies often close inactive accounts. Then pay it off in full.
8. Apply for New Credit Selectively
When you apply for credit, it results in a hard inquiry, which usually drops your score by a few points. So avoid applying frequently for new credit cards, as this can signal financial distress.
But if youâre in the market for a mortgage or loan, donât worry about multiple inquiries. As long as you limit your shopping to a 45-day window, credit bureaus will treat it as a single inquiry, so the impact on your score will be minimal.
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9. Still Overwhelmed? A Debt Consolidation Loan Could Help
If youâre struggling with credit card debt, consolidating your credit card debt with a loan could be a good option. In a nutshell, you take out a loan to wipe out your credit card balances.
Youâll get the simplicity of a single payment, plus youâll typically pay less interest since loan interest rates tend to be lower. (If you canât get a loan that lowers your interest rate, this probably isnât a good option.)
By using a loan to pay off your credit cards, youâll also free up credit and lower your credit utilization ratio.
Many debt consolidation loans require a credit score of about 620. If your score falls below this threshold, work on improving your score for a few months before you apply for one.
10. Keep Your Credit Score in Perspective
All the credit-monitoring tools out there make it easy to obsess about your credit score. While itâs important to build good credit, look at the bigger picture. A few final thoughts:
- Your credit score isnât a report card on the state of your finances. It simply measures how risky of a borrower you are. Having an emergency fund, saving for retirement and earning a decent living are all important to your finances â but these are all things that donât affect your credit score.
- Lenders look at more than your credit score. Having a low debt-to-income ratio, decent down payment and steady paycheck all increase your odds of approval when youâre making a big purchase, even if your credit score is lackluster.
- Donât focus on your score if you canât pay for necessities. If youâre struggling and you have to choose between paying your credit card vs. paying your rent, keeping food on the table or getting medical care, paying your credit card is always the lower priority. Of course, talk to your creditors if you canât afford to pay them, as they may have options.
Focus on your overall financial picture, and youâll probably see your credit score improve, too. Remember, though, that while credit scores matter, you matter more.
Now go crush those goals in 2021 and beyond.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
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.
Choosing a card with an introductory APR can be a great move for a small business. You can pay off large purchases over time without worrying about accruing interest â allowing you to truly invest in your business.
If you have a large business purchase looming ahead that you want to finance, there are plenty of great small business credit cards that offer 0% interest on new purchases for the first few months of card ownership.
Read on to learn about some of the best business credit cards with an intro APR.
See Related: How does credit card APR work?
Chase Ink Business CashÂ® Credit Card
Best intro APR business card for office supplies: Chase Ink Business CashÂ® Credit Card
The Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers one of the longest introductory periods available on the market â 0% for the first 12 months on purchases (13.24% to 19.24% variable APR thereafter). Plus, the card comes with a competitive earning rate that makes it a particularly good choice for small business owners who need to stock up on office supplies.
|Chase Ink Business CashÂ® Credit Card|
Why should you get this card?
If youâre determined to keep costs to a minimum, the Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card offers a lot of cash back on your business purchases â including purchases made on employee cards â for no annual fee.
Read full review
|Other things to know:
Beyond a competitive intro APR, the Ink Business Cash card offers plenty of potential value for cardholders with a competitive rate of cash back on internet, cable and phone services, office supplies, gas and dining purchases. If you spend a lot of money on office supplies or you frequently charge client dinners to your business card, you can rack up plenty of rewards with the Ink card.
Best intro APR business card for a flat rate on all purchases: American Express Blue Business Cashâ¢ Card
The American Express Blue Business Cashâ¢ Card offers an intro APR of 0% on new purchases for the first 12 months of card ownership (13.24% to 19.24% variable APR thereafter). Unlike the Ink Business Cash card, the Amex Blue Business Cash offer the same 2% cash back on all purchases, up to $50,000 per calendar year (1% thereafter). If you have a wide variety of purchases to make for your business, this flat rate might equate more rewards.
|American Express Blue Business Cashâ¢ Card|
Why should you get this card?
The American Express Blue Business Cash Card comes with a major selling point: 2% cash back on your first $50,000 of purchases each year for no annual fee.
Read full review
|Other things to know:
Adding to its appeal for small business owners, the Blue Business Cash card comes with access to top-notch business perks from Amex, including expense-tracking tools and the ability to enroll in Working Capital Terms.
Alternate #1: The Blue BusinessÂ® Plus Credit Card from American Express
If points are more your speed than cash back, the Blue BusinessÂ® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressÂ offers the same generous rewards rate as the Blue Business Cash â with one key difference. Rather than cash back, Blue Business Plus cardholders earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $50,000 in spending each year and 1 point per dollar on all purchases thereafter.
value Membership Rewards points at an average of 1.19 cents per point. If you redeem your rewards strategically, you can stretch them a long way.
Plus, the Blue Business Plus card offers the same lengthy introductory interest rate on new purchases â making it a top-notch card for financing large purchases in the first year (after that, it’s 13.24% to 19.24%).
Alternate #2: Chase Ink Business UnlimitedÂ® Credit Card
Another popular Chase small business credit card, the Ink Business UnlimitedÂ® Credit Card offers the same 12 months interest-free for new purchases (13.24% to 19.24% variable APR thereafter) as the Ink Business Cash. But unlike the Ink Business Cash card, the Ink Business Unlimited offers the same flat rate of cash back on all purchases â 1.5%.
Though a slightly lower rate than the Amex Blue Business Cash or Blue Business Plus, this earning rate is still great for cardholders who donât weigh their spending heavily to one particular category. For a card with no annual fee, it is a pretty generous earning scheme. Plus, there are no caps on what you can earn. If you spend significantly more than $50,000 per year on your business, the ongoing flat rate of 1.5% might make more sense for you.
Other intro APR business cards
While a 0% interest rate is a compelling reason to choose a business rewards card, you should also ensure that the rewards rate on the card closely matches your spending habits. This will boost your ability to eke plenty of value out of the cards even after the intro APR ends.
If none of these Chase or American Express cards seem right for your spending, Capital One also offers two cards with introductory APRs. Both the Capital OneÂ® SparkÂ® Cash Select for Business* and the Capital OneÂ® SparkÂ® Miles Select for Business* offer a 0% APR on new purchases for the first nine months (13.99% to 23.99% variable APR thereafter).
Though this introductory period is shorter than those on competing business cards, it might be worth taking a shorter offer if one of these cardâs rewards better suits your spending. With the Spark Cash Select, you can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase. The Spark Miles Select comes with 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, while other purchases earn 1.5 miles per dollar.
Business credit cards are a valuable resource, as they can improve your cash flow while allowing users to rack up rewards on all their business purchases. By choosing a card with an introductory APR, you can pay off large purchases or debt over time without racking up interest â saving yourself money to reinvest in your business.
*The information about Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business and Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
realtor.com, Steve Granitz/WireImage
Sylvester Stallone has punched up a purchase in Palm Beach, FL. According to the Palm Beach Daily News, the Hollywood legend has scored a compound in the Sunshine State.
The star of âRockyâ reportedly paid $35,375,000 for the waterfront spread. The property, listed in âpending saleâ status, came on the market in June for $37.85 million. Stallone seems to have snagged a minor discount.
With seven bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms, and two half-bathrooms, the mansion, built in 2014, offers 13,241 square feet of living space and 250 feet of sandy beach on the lake, the listing description states.
What it describes as a âsensational estateâ offers three structures, which include a main house, guesthouse, guest pavilion, and an open cabana across from the pool.
The waterfront property also offers a boat dock and is designed with âcasual eleganceâ in mind. Modern interiors include multiple living spaces, a formal dining room, a huge eat-in kitchen, and multiple French doors that open to the lawn outside.
A spacious master suite features a sitting area, private balcony,Â enormous walk-in closet, and bathroom.
In addition, the layout includes a gym, wine storage, library, and a family room with a wet bar. Outside, the grounds feature a pool with a beachfront spa that practically touches the lake.
Stallone joins numerous other celebs in the area. Jon Bon Jovi, Rod Stewart,Â the author James Patterson, and the former wife of Tiger Woods, the model Elin Nordegren, own homes in the upscale enclave. President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago is also nearby.
The âRamboâ star has been busy on the real estate front. This spring, he placed his desert getaway in La Quinta, CA, on the market for $3.35 million.
Stallone bought the four-bedroom home, located inside the Madison Club, for $4.5 million in 2010. But it eventually became expendable. He wound up selling the golf retreat at a loss, for $3.15 million.
Stallone, 74, has been a screen star for decades. He’s known for the âRockyâ series, which more recently led to the spinoff âCreedâ films.
Lawrence Moens with Lawrence A. Moens Associates holds the listing.
The post Sylvester Stallone Reportedly Buys Palm Beach Compound for $35.3M appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.