Best credit cards for streaming services

Catching your favorite show or movie via streaming service is commonplace in this day and age – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – and doing so using a smart device other than a standard computer has gained popularity in recent years.

In fact, 2020 data out of the Leichtman Research Group found that 80% of T.V.-owning households in the U.S. have at least one internet-connected T.V. device – from streaming devices like the Roku Streaming Stick to video game consoles like Nintendo Switch to standard smart T.V.s. And with the uptick in internet-connected T.V. devices, one can assume the popularity of streaming services (coupled with Americans’ ever-heightening presence online) may have something to do with it.

As the popularity of streaming services grows, U.S. households are increasingly cutting the cord with cable

Research published as recently as this year by the Leichtman Research Group indicates that “82% of U.S. households have at least one streaming video service” from 11 of the top direct-to-consumer and subscription-based video-on-demand services – a slight increase from its 2019 findings.

At the same time, numerical estimates from eMarketer forecast that an additional 6.6 million U.S. households will “cut the cord” with cable T.V. subscriptions in 2021, bringing the projected total number of U.S. cord-cutters to 31.2 million.

Overall, it can be inferred that the COVID-19 pandemic could have something to do with these numbers as Americans look for more ways to stay entertained while under stay-at-home orders.

Got streaming subscriptions? A rewards card can help

If you happen to be juggling streaming service subscriptions for personal use – or even to stream calming tunes at your small business or within your (virtual) second-grade classroom, for example – odds are you’re spending a decent amount on these services per month. And while financial tools like a rewards credit card can be helpful, streaming services probably aren’t the first bonus category you check for when scoping out the most “rewarding” card options.

Since these purchases likely make up less of your budget, it makes sense that they won’t be your first priority. Thankfully, though, many great rewards and cash back credit cards now include streaming service bonuses in addition to their ongoing rewards and perks. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite cards that reward streaming.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card*: Best for earning rewards on streaming with no annual fee

  • Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for earning rewards on streaming with an ongoing annual fee
  • Discover it® Cash Back: Best for rotating category enthusiasts
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card: Best for Amazon Prime loyalists
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card: Best for everyday spending
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card: Best for streaming credit
  • Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*: Best for dinner and a movie
  • Best for earning rewards on streaming (no annual fee): Wells Fargo Propel

    For cardholders who prefer a rewards card with no annual fee, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card is a great option. It offers 3X points per dollar on dining, travel and transit, gas station purchases and select streaming services. Cardholders also earn 1X point per dollar on other purchases. Based on the average person’s spending habits, we estimate this card offers an average rewards rate of 1.78 points per dollar, one of the highest rates you can find on a card with no annual fee.

    Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card*

    Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

    Why should you get this card?

    The Wells Fargo Propel card is one of the best no-annual-fee travel cards on the market, thanks to its 3X point bonus.

    Read full review

    Other things to know:

    • 3X points per dollar on dining, travel and transit, gas station purchases and select streaming services; 1X point per dollar on other purchases
    • 20,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
    • $0 annual fee
    • No foreign transaction fee

    If you were to spend $29 a month on streaming services, you’d earn 1,044 points annually with this card. That’s just over $10 a year in cash back from streaming purchases.

    Streaming services eligible for bonus rewards on Wells Fargo Propel

    This card’s video streaming service category includes a number of popular providers. Eligible partners include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Now and more. You can also earn rewards on eligible music streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify Premium and Pandora. With so many providers included, it’s easy to rack up points on your subscriptions.

    Other card perks to consider

    Beyond offering a good rate on streaming services, the Wells Fargo Propel comes with several other perks that make it a valuable option. New cardholders can enjoy a generous sign-up bonus of 20,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first three months. Plus, the Propel card’s bonus categories are particularly valuable for frequent travelers, as they include gas stations, transit, travel and dining purchases.

    Best for earning rewards on streaming (with an ongoing annual fee): Blue Cash Preferred

    The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is a great choice for cardholders looking to earn cash back on streaming service purchases, and the card’s terrific ongoing rewards rate should make it easy to offset the $95 annual fee after the first year.

    You’ll earn 6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (for up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% on transit and U.S. gas station purchases, and 1% on general purchases.

    Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

    Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

    Why should you get this card?

    The Blue Cash Preferred card helps take the sting out of long commutes by offering a generous point bonus on U.S. gas station spending, and it offers one of the highest cash back bonuses you can get when you use your card at U.S. supermarkets.

    Read full review

    Other things to know:

    • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit purchases and 1% cash back on other purchases
    • $150 statement credit if you spend $3,000 in first 6 months
    • 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in first 6 months, up to $200 back
    • Free ShopRunner membership
    • $95 annual fee is waived the first year
    • Terms apply

    The 6% cash back on streaming services is the most generous bonus on this category currently available among rewards cards – especially since there is no cap on how much you can earn. If, like the average person, you pay about $29 each month on various services, you can earn more than $20 a year in cash back on those purchases alone.

    Streaming services eligible for cash back on Blue Cash Preferred

    The Blue Cash Preferred card also boasts a robust list of eligible streaming services, including popular options like Apple TV+, Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, Spotify and Disney+, as well as HBO Max.

    Keep in mind, however, that according to Amex, “If your subscription is bundled with another product or service or billed by a third party (such as a digital platform, a cable, telecommunications, or internet provider or a car manufacturer), your purchase may not be eligible.”

    In other words, if you have an add-on subscription to a service like HBO included as part of your cable service, you won’t earn bonus rewards even if you pay that bill with the Blue Cash Preferred.

    Other card perks to consider

    On top of the highest rate of cash back currently available for streaming services, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a top-tier rate on U.S. supermarket purchases (6% on up to $6,000 in purchases a year, then 1%). If you spend a lot on groceries each month, this card is one of the most rewarding options available. Even with the $6,000 per year spend cap, you can rack up quite a bit of cash back.

    Best for rotating category enthusiasts: Discover it Cash Back

    If you enjoy tracking quarterly rotating categories for higher cash back rates, the Discover it Cash Back might be your card of choice. The Discover it Cash Back publishes its quarterly rotating categories ahead of time.

    In 2021, the Spring (April to June, activate starting March 1, 2021) categories include select streaming services. During the Spring quarter, if activated, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter in the bonus categories, then 1% after that. If you miss the Spring bonus quarter this year, keep an eye out to see if it’s offered again next year.

    Discover it® Cash Back

    Discover it® Cash Back

    Why should you get this card?

    The Discover it® Cash Back offers rotating quarterly rewards category, plus no annual fee.

    Read full review

    Other things to know:

    • Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in various categories throughout the year
    • 1% cash back on general purchases
    • $0 annual fee

    Streaming services eligible for cash back on Discover it Cash Back

    The following streaming services are eligible in this category: Apple Music and Apple TV+, YouTube TV, Spotify, Disney+, HBO Max, AT&T TV Now, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, BET+, CBS All Access, DAZN, ESPN+, Fubo TV, Google Play Movies & TV, Philo, Peacock TV, Showtime, Sirius XM, Starz, Sling and Vudu.

    Note that if your subscription is bundled with another product or service billed by a third party, it may not be eligible in this category. The same goes for add-ons on select streaming services if they aren’t on the list of eligible services.

    Other card perks to consider

    The Discover it Cash Back card offers other great perks, including a sign-up bonus that matches your cash back at the end of your first year of card membership. In addition, it comes with a $0 annual fee and multiple easy options for how you can redeem your rewards.

    Best for Amazon Prime Video loyalists: Amazon Prime Rewards card

    The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card is designed with Amazon fans in mind, making it one of the best options if your streaming service of choice is Amazon Prime Video. The card earns 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases (including your Amazon Prime membership), 2% cash back on restaurant, gas station and drugstore purchases, and 1% cash back on everything else. In order to qualify for the card, an Amazon Prime membership is required – but the card’s 5% rewards rate can help offset the fee.

    Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card

    Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

    Why should you get this card?

    The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card offers a great 5% rate on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.

    Read full review

    Other things to know:

    • 5% cash back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% back on restaurant, gas station and drugstore purchases. and 1% back on other purchases
    • $70 Amazon gift card when you sign up
    • No foreign transaction fees

    Streaming services eligible for cash back on Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature

    While Amazon Prime is technically the only streaming platform eligible for rewards, the Amazon Prime Rewards card should prove surprisingly flexible if you want to juggle multiple subscriptions. In addition to your Prime membership (which includes Prime Video and Amazon Music), you’ll earn 5% back on all Prime Video rentals and purchases, as well as on any subscriptions you add to your membership through Amazon Prime Video Channels.

    With Amazon Prime Video Channels, you can choose from more than 100 add-on video subscriptions, including premium channels like HBO and niche channels like PBS Masterpiece. Here is a brief selection of Prime Video Channels, all of which earn 5% back when added to your Prime Video account:

    • Acorn TV
    • BET+
    • BritBox
    • Cheddar
    • Cinemax
    • Epix
    • Hallmark Movies Now
    • HBO
    • Lifetime Movie Club
    • MLB.TV
    • NBA League Pass
    • Paramount+
    • PBS Masterpiece
    • PBS Kids
    • Showtime
    • Starz
    • Shudder
    • Sundance Now

    To earn rewards on these add-on subscriptions and any video rentals or purchases, be sure your Amazon Prime Rewards card is set as your default payment method for Prime Video. You can adjust this setting in the “Your Payments” section of your account, under “Settings” – or change your payment method for Prime Video Channels in the “Manage Your Prime Video Channels” section of your account.

    Other card perks to consider

    The Amazon Prime Visa also makes a great grocery card for users who live near a Whole Foods location. The 5% cash back you earn on these purchases is one of the best grocery rates available. Additionally, you’ll get a $70 Amazon gift card just for signing up. While this is not the highest sign-up bonus available among rewards cards, it doesn’t require you to meet any spend requirement, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the perk immediately.

    Best for everyday spending: U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card

    If you want to earn rewards on an array of everyday expenses, including streaming services, the U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card is a terrific option without paying an annual fee. Along with the 4X points per dollar you’ll earn on takeout, dining and food delivery purchases, you’ll earn 2X points per dollar at grocery stores, grocery delivery, gas stations and streaming services, then 1X point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

    U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card

    Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

    Why should you get this card?

    It charges no annual fee, offers an impressive rewards rate on a variety of everyday purchases and comes with the added perk of an annual streaming credit.

    Read full review

    Other things to know:

    • 4X points per dollar on dining, 2X points per dollar on grocery store, gas station and streaming service purchases, then 1X point per dollar on other purchases
    • 20,000-point bonus when you spend $1,000 in first 90 days
    • Includes an introductory APR on balance transfers and new purchases
    • No annual fee

    On top of its ongoing rewards on streaming service purchases, the card offers a unique annual streaming credit: When you make 11 consecutive calendar month eligible streaming service purchases, you’ll receive a $15 credit (automatic statement credit will be applied within two statement billing cycles following the eleventh month; you are eligible for this credit once per 12-month period).

    Streaming services eligible for bonus rewards and credit on U.S. Bank Altitude Go Card

    While U.S. Bank does not offer a full list of eligible streaming services, it’s safe to assume based on how merchant category codes are typically assigned that services like Amazon Music, Apple Music, AT&T TV Now, Disney+, Google Music, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, SiriusXM, Slacker Radio, Sling TV, Spotify, Tidal, Vudu, YouTube Music and YouTube TV are included.

    Other card perks to considerinstant card number on approval. As soon as you’re approved, you can load your card number into your favorite mobile wallet and start earning rewards instead of waiting for it in the mail. You can also use the card to pay off a transferred balance or finance new purchases – a major plus considering how difficult balance transfer offers can be to come by.

    students with a limited credit history can also enjoy streaming service perks with the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One. You can earn up to $60 in streaming service credits: $5 per month for 12 months on select subscriptions when you pay on time. Some exclusions apply, but popular services like Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix are included.

    Best for streaming credit: U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card

    The streaming service earning on the newly launched U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card is pay, but it makes up for it with a slightly higher credit of $30 for annual streaming service purchases. Plus, you can still rack up plenty of rewards with the card’s 4X rate on gas and travel, 2X on groceries (including grocery delivery), dining and streaming services and 1X on everything else.

    U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature®

    U.S. Bank Altitude Connect card

    Why should you get this card?

    The new U.S. Bank Altitude Connect offers a leading rewards rate on gas and travel, and its TSA Precheck/Global Entry application fee credit can help offset the annual fee.

    Other things to know:

    • 4 points per dollar on travel and at gas stations
    • 2 points per dollar at grocery stores and on grocery delivery, dining and streaming services
    • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
    • 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 120 days
    • $95 annual fee (waived the first year)
    • $30 credit for annual streaming service purchases such as Netflix and Spotify
    • Receive up to $100 in statement credits for reimbursement toward your TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee once every four years.
    • No foreign transaction fees

    While the card does offer 2X ongoing rewards on streaming service purchases, the annual streaming credit offers the real value. Like with the Altitude Go Card, you just need to make 11 consecutive calendar month eligible streaming service purchases, and then you’ll receive a $30 statement credit.

    Streaming services eligible for bonus rewards and credit on U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Card

    There is not a full list of eligible streaming services publicly available, but services like Amazon Music, Netflix, Pandora and YouTube TV are said to qualify.

    Other card perks to consider

    In addition to its high earning rate on travel and gas purchases, the U.S. Bank Altitude Connect card comes with a statement credit of up to $100 to cover your TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee. Since the annual fee on this card is only $95 (waived in the first year), you can easily offset the cost on the years you use this credit. (Note, membership to these programs last five years.)

    Best for dinner and a movie: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

    The Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card has long been a favorite for foodies, thanks to its generous earning rate on both dining and grocery store purchases. But this fan-favorite recently got an upgrade – and with it a new, enhanced rate on streaming service purchases.

    Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

    Why should you get this card?

    The Capital One Savor card offers one of the best cash back rates on dining and entertainment purchases combined.

    Read full review

    Other things to know:

    • 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023
    • 4% cash back on dining, entertainment and streaming services
    • 3% cash back at grocery stores
    • 1% cash back on other purchases
    • $300 if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
    • $95 annual fee

    Streaming services eligible for bonus rewards and credit on Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

    There is not a full list of eligible streaming services publicly available, but services like Hulu, Disney+ and Netflix are said to qualify.

    Other card perks to consider

    The Savor card also recently enhanced its earning rate on grocery store purchases, making it more valuable for those who prefer eating in to dining out. So whether you’d rather order takeout (earning 4% cash back) or stock up for cooking your own meal (3% cash back), the Savor will reward you for your next movie night.

    Final thoughts

    While streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube TV or Tidal might not make up the biggest part of your monthly budget, you can still bring in great rewards on your membership fees by choosing the right rewards card. Whether you prefer a dining, grocery or travel card, you can combine rewards on various purchases with a streaming bonus to maximize points or cash back.

    *All information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card and Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

    Source: creditcards.com

    The Average Salary of a Surgeon

    The Average Salary of a Surgeon

    Surgery is a prestigious field that requires a high degree of skill, dedication and hard work of its members. Not surprisingly, surgeons’ compensation reflects this fact, as the average salary of a surgeon was $255,110 in 2018. This figure can vary slightly depending on where you live and the type of institution at which you work. Moreover, the path to becoming a surgeon is long and involves a substantial amount of schooling, which might result in student loan debt.

    Average Salary of a Surgeon: The Basics

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a surgeon was $255,110 per year in 2018. That comes out to an hourly wage of $122.65 per hour assuming a 40-hour work week – though the typical surgeon works longer hours than that. Even the lowest-paid 10% of surgeons earn $94,960 per year, so the chances are high that becoming a surgeon will result in a six-figure salary. The average salary of a surgeon is higher than the average salary of other doctors, with the exception of anesthesiologists, who earn roughly as much as surgeons.

    The top-paying state for surgeons is Nebraska, with a mean annual salary of $287,890. Following Nebraska is Maine, New Jersey, Maryland and Kansas. Top-paying metro area for surgeons include Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN; Winchester, WV-VA; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; New Orleans-Metairie, LA; and Bowling Green, KY.

    Where Surgeons Work

    The Average Salary of a Surgeon

    According to BLS data, most of the surgeons in the U.S. work in physicians’ offices, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $265,920. Second to physicians’ offices for the highest concentration of surgeons are General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $225,700. Colleges, universities and professional schools are next up. There, surgeons earn an annual mean wage of $175,410. A smaller number of surgeons are employed in outpatient Care Centers, where the mean annual wage for surgeons is $277,670. Last up are special hospitals. There, the mean annual wage for surgeons is $235,770.

    Becoming a Surgeon

    You may have heard that the cost of becoming a doctor, including the cost of medical school and other expenses, has soared. Aspiring surgeons must first get a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, preferably in a scientific field like biology.

    Then comes the Medical College Acceptance Test (MCAT) and applications to medical schools. The application process can get expensive quickly, as many schools require in-person interviews without reimbursing applicants for travel expenses.

    If accepted, you’ll then spend four years in medical school earning your M.D. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’ll almost certainly enter a residency program at a hospital. According to a 2018 survey by Medscape, the average medical resident earns a salary of $59,300, up $2,100 from the previous year. General surgery residents earned slightly less ($58,800), but more specialized residents like those practicing neurological surgery earned more ($61,800).

    According to the American College of Surgeons, surgical residency programs last five years for general surgery. But some residency programs are longer than five years. For example, thoracic surgery and pediatric surgery both require residents to complete the five-year general surgery residency, plus two additional years of field-specific surgical residency.

    Surgeons must also be licensed and certified. The fees for the licensing exam are the same regardless as specialty, but the application and exam fees for board certification vary by specialty. Maintenance of certification is also required. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it qualification. The American Board of Surgery requires continuing education, as well as an exam at 10-year intervals.

    Bottom Line

    The Average Salary of a Surgeon

    Surgeons earn some of the highest salaries in the country. However, the costs associated with becoming a surgeon are high, and student debt may eat into surgeons’ high salaries for years. The costs of maintaining certification and professional insurance are significant ongoing costs associated with being a surgeon.

    Tips for Forging a Career Path

    • Your salary dictates a lot of your financial life, such as how much you can afford to pay in rent and the slice of your paycheck that goes to taxes. However, there are some principles that apply no matter your income bracket, like the importance of an emergency fund and a well-funded retirement account.
    • Whether you’re earning a six-figure surgeon’s salary or living on a more modest income, it’s smart to work with a financial advisor to manage your money. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

    Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/megaflopp, ©iStock.com/XiXinXing, ©iStock.com/shapecharge

    The post The Average Salary of a Surgeon appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

    Source: smartasset.com

    Inspection vs. Appraisal for Home Buyers

    In this article:

    • What is the difference between an appraisal and an inspection?
    • What happens during an appraisal?
    • What if the appraisal comes in low?
    • What to expect from a home inspection
    • How are home inspections and appraisals similar?

    Inspections and appraisals are both important parts of the home buying process, and buyers should do both to protect their financial interest in a home – and give themselves peace of mind that they’re making a smart purchase. Inspections and appraisals serve different functions, but both give you the insights you need to avoid large financial missteps.

    What is the difference between an appraisal and an inspection?

    The main difference between an appraisal and an inspection is that an appraisal deals with the value of a home, while an inspection deals with the condition of the home.

    Appraisal: An appraisal is a walk-through and a general assessment of a home, analyzed with the help of nearby comparable sales. The goal of an appraisal is to determine the fair market value of a property. It is conducted by a licensed professional appraiser. While an appraiser will visit a home in person, the majority of the work will be done in their office, as they compare the home’s features, location, and finishes with other comparable recent sales in the area. An appraisal usually costs around $400, depending on where you live and the size of your home.

    Inspection: An inspection is a deeper dive into the condition of the specific home. A licensed home inspector will spend multiple hours doing a comprehensive review of the home’s condition, both visually and by testing functionality of major systems. After completing the inspection, they will provide recommendations to the buyer on items in the home that should be repaired or replaced before closing. A home inspection costs between $250 and $700, depending on where you live and the size of your home.

    Do lenders require appraisals?

    Yes, most lenders do require appraisals in order to approve financing. Lenders want to protect their investment by ensuring they’re not financing a loan for more than the property is worth.

    Do lenders require home inspections?

    Lenders providing conventional financing do not usually require home inspections, but they are still strongly recommended. FHA or VA loans usually do require inspections.

    Do I need an appraisal and inspection when buying a home with cash?

    Cash buyers often opt to do an appraisal and inspection, even though they’re not required. Some cash buyers, particularly home investors, may waive the inspection or appraisal if the home is being sold “as is” or if they are competing with other offers and want to close quickly.

    Regardless of how you’re paying, an appraisal can give peace of mind that you’re not overpaying for a property, and an inspection can uncover potentially costly issues and necessary repairs.

    What happens during an appraisal?

    During an appraisal, a licensed appraiser evaluates the home you want to buy in person and gives you an estimate on how much it’s worth. Typically, the appraiser is chosen by the lender but paid for by the buyer as part of the closing costs.

    Appraisals cost around $400, but can cost a bit more or a bit less depending on your home size and location. The appointment usually takes about an hour, and then the appraiser will complete the report back at their office.

    1. Assessment of property

    The appraiser will walk through the home, taking note of its condition, finishes and location – consider it somewhat like a light inspection.

    2. Review of comparable sales

    The appraiser will use the findings of their walk-through to identify similar homes that have sold recently in the neighborhood. This will help them decide upon a fair market value.

    3. Final report

    The appraiser will deliver a physical report on the fair market value of the home, including photos and descriptions of comparable sales. In most cases it’s just the lender and the buyer who will receive copies of the report. The seller may request a copy of the appraisal report, but in most cases you are not required to share it.

    Ideally, the appraisal will come back higher than the agreed-upon sales price. That indicates that you’re paying less than the fair market value and your lender will approve the loan.

    What if the appraisal comes in low?

    Appraisals that come in below the agreed-upon sale price are commonly referred to as low appraisals. When an appraisal comes in low it can jeopardize your ability to acquire the loan you were pre-approved to get, causing a headache for buyers.

    Low appraisals can happen for a couple reasons:

    • Bidding wars with multiple buyers drive the price up beyond market value.
    • There’s a lack of relevant comparables to use as a basis for the home value.
    • You’re buying in a high season (like late spring) and the only available comparables are from other points in the year.
    • The appraiser is inexperienced.

    Buyers who are using financing have a few options to work around a low appraisal:

    1. Contest the appraisal: You can contact your lender and point out any glaring issues or errors in the appraisal report, then request a new appraisal.
    2. Pay the difference: To make up the difference between the amount your lender is willing to finance and the offer price, you can pay cash or ask the lender if you can restructure your financing.
    3. Ask the seller for a price reduction: If the appraisal was accurate and the home is indeed worth less than what you’re offering, you may not want to overpay. To avoid having to back out completely, consider asking the seller for a price reduction, using the appraisal report as proof the home is overpriced.

    What to expect from a home inspection

    Scheduling a home inspection is one of the first tasks you’ll want to do after the contract is signed between you and the seller. Although, in some low-inventory markets, buyers sometimes hire an inspector prior to making an offer. It’s up to you to pick a home inspector you trust, and most people ask their agent for a recommendation, get a referral from friends or family members or search online reviews.

    Since the goal of a home inspection is to get a comprehensive report of the condition of the home you’re buying, a home inspection takes between three and four hours, sometimes more. Unlike an appraiser who does a visual check of the home, your inspector will both examine and test functionality of your home’s key systems, including:

    • Plumbing
    • Roof condition
    • HVAC
    • Foundation
    • Appliances
    • Drainage
    • Water damage and mold

    However, a home inspection may not find every potential issue in the home, especially if they are hidden or seasonal, so buyers should discuss any exclusions with the licensed home inspector both before and after the inspection itself.

    Who attends the inspection: Usually, the buyer and their agent will both attend the inspection. This allows you to have the inspector walk you through any red flags in real time, while also giving you the chance to familiarize yourself with how the home’s systems work ahead of moving.

    What happens after the inspection: After completing the on-site inspection, your inspector will provide a written report that highlights their findings, including photos.

    Specialized inspections for buyers to consider

    While inspecting the home’s major systems and features is standard practice, your inspector may recommend a second, more specialized inspection if they notice issues including:

    • Radon
    • Pests
    • Septic
    • Lead paint

    Why home inspections are important

    The few hundred dollars you’ll spend for a home inspection is a small price to pay for the opportunity to confirm that the home you’re about to buy is free of major – and costly – issues. It’s no wonder 83% of buyers reported having an inspection done, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019.

    Risk of not having an inspection: While some buyers opt to waive their inspection contingency to make their offer appear stronger, this means they’re essentially buying the home “as-is,” and any issues discovered after closing will fall 100% to the buyer to repair, even if they were present before closing.

    Why disclosures aren’t enough: In most states, sellers are required to disclose underlying issues in the home that they know exist (specific disclosure requirements vary by state). While disclosures are an important protection, they only cover un-repaired issues that the seller knows about – there’s no guarantee that the home is free of other underlying issues or that the repairs were made correctly. A home inspection is simply the best way to find out about any potential problems in the home.

    If you buy a Zillow-owned home, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the home went through a pre-listing home evaluation process and was renovated by local professionals to make it move-in ready. Of course, you’re always welcome to do your own inspection, too.

    How are home inspections and appraisals similar?

    Despite having two different processes and requiring the services of two different professionals, appraisals and inspections do share some similarities:

    1. Appraisers and inspectors are licensed

    Both roles require licenses and extensive training. Both appraisers and inspectors act as impartial third parties, paid to provide their professional opinion.

    2. Buyers pay for both inspections and appraisals

    Usually, the buyer selects the home inspector they want to work with and the lender selects the appraiser. The buyer pays for both the inspector and the appraiser, unless otherwise negotiated.

    3. Appraisal and inspection both occur during escrow

    The home inspection usually happens within the first week after your offer is accepted – the sooner the better, so there’s time to fix any issues flagged in the inspection report or renegotiate with the seller. The appraisal also happens during the escrow period, usually a week or two before closing.

    4. Appraisal and inspection results allow for negotiations

    Assuming you’ve structured your offer to include contingencies for both the appraisal and inspection, you’ll be allowed to renegotiate your offer based on the findings. If the appraisal comes back low, you’re allowed to renegotiate with the seller to figure out how to cover the difference between the appraised price and the offer price. Similarly, if the inspection report uncovers significant repairs, you’ll have a period of time where you can request repairs or credits, or back out of the deal without losing your earnest money.

    The post Inspection vs. Appraisal for Home Buyers appeared first on Home Buyers Guide.

    Source: zillow.com

    Buying a Home? Plan for These Hidden Costs

    You’re excited because you just found the perfect home. The neighborhood is great, the house is charming and the price is right.

    But the asking price is just the beginning. Be prepared for additional – and often unexpected – home-buying costs that can catch buyers unaware and quickly leave you underwater on your new home.

    Expect the unexpected

    For almost every person who buys a home, the spending doesn’t stop with the down payment. Homeowners insurance and closing costs, like appraisal and lender fees, are typically easy to plan for because they’re lumped into the home-buying process, but most costs beyond those vary.

    The previous owners of your home are the biggest factor affecting your move-in costs. If they take the refrigerator when they move out, you’ll have to buy one to replace it. The same goes for any large appliance.

    And while these may seem like a small purchase compared to buying a home, appliances quickly add up – especially if you just spent most of your cash on a down payment.

    You’ll also be on the hook for any immediate improvements the home needs, unless you negotiate them as part of your home purchase agreement.

    Unfortunately, these costs are the least hidden of those you may encounter.

    When purchasing a home, definitely hire a home inspector (this costs money too!) to ensure the home isn’t going to collapse the next time it rains. Inspectors look for bad electrical wiring, weak foundations, wood rot and other hidden problems you may not find on your own.

    Worse still, these problems are rarely covered by home insurance. If an inspector discovers a serious problem, you’ll then have to decide if you still want to purchase the home. Either way, you’ll be out the cost of hiring the inspector.

    Consider the creature comforts

    Another cost is your own comfort. There are a number of smaller considerations you may not think about until after you move in.

    Are you used to having cable? If so, is your new home wired for cable? It’s much harder to watch a technician crawling around punching holes in your walls when you own those walls.

    And if you’re moving from the world of renting to the world of homeownership, you’ll probably be faced with much higher utility bills. Further, you could find yourself paying for utilities once covered by a landlord, like water and garbage pickup.

    Plan ahead

    The best way to prepare for the unknown and unexpected is through research and planning. This starts with budgeting before house hunting and throughout your search.

    Look at homes in your budget that need improvements, and then research how much those improvements could cost. Nothing is worse than buying a home thinking you can fix the yard for a few hundred dollars and then realizing it will cost thousands.

    There’s really no limit to how prepared you can be. Say you find a nice home that’s priced lower than others in the area because of its age. You may save money on the list price, but with an older house, you could be slapped with a much higher home insurance payment, making the house more expensive in the long run.

    This is where preparation comes in. Research home insurance and property prices in the areas you’re considering to make more educated decisions before you ever make that first offer.

    Clearly define how much you intend to put toward your down payment, and then look at how much cash that leaves for improvements and minor costs, like changing the locks. That way, when you find a house at the high end of your range, you’ll know to walk away if it requires a new washer and dryer or HVAC system upgrade.

    Establish a rough estimate for as many costs as you can think of, and be extremely critical of homes at the top of your budget – otherwise, you could easily end up being house-poor.

    Know your budget and plan ahead. Buying a home is a lot less scary when you know what you’re getting into.

    Top featured photo from Offset.

    Related:

    Originally published August 2016.

    Source: zillow.com

    Easy Ways to Increase Your Earning Potential Today

    Are you sick of feeling as though you always have more bills than income? Every month, you work hard to bring home a decent wage to support your family. Yet, somehow, when you need funds, there never seems to be anything available in your bank account. Sometimes, the problem might be that you’re struggling to manage your budget. Not knowing how to properly look after your money could mean that you spend too much, too fast. In other circumstances, your issue might be that you’re not taking advantage of opportunities to increase your earning potential. If you’re already doing everything you can to reduce excess spending and improve your financial habits, but you’re still facing money worries, then the following earning boosters could be just what you need. Let’s look at some quick and easy ways to turn your life around.

    Consider a new job

    All jobs have their pros and cons to consider. However, some roles definitely pay more than others. If you feel as though you’ve already gotten everything you can out of your current position, and there’s no room left to grow, a new role might be the best option. If you don’t want to switch away from the current company that you’re with, you could ask about switching to a different department. If there’s nowhere else for you to go in your current business, then it might be a good idea to see what someone can offer you elsewhere. Many people who switch jobs can take advantage of looking to improve earning potential than those that stick with the same role. Remember, if you do decide to switch to somewhere new, take your time to find something that actually appeals to you. Don’t just jump at the first offer you get. Play the field first.

    Stick with learning about topics that you’re genuinely interested in. This will give you an opportunity to get a job in a space that you enjoy.

    Improve your reputation

    Reputation can make a big difference in your earning potential these days. In a world where we’re constantly connected to the internet, your image online might help you to find a new or higher-paying job. For instance, if you’re connected to the right people on LinkedIn, then you might speak to someone who can give a good word for you in a higher-paying department in your company. Start by auditing your existing personal brand online. See what people will find if they look for your name. If you have any unprofessional social accounts that are set to public, make them private immediately. Once you’re ready to begin building a name for yourself, look for opportunities to network and show off your skills. This could mean that you join some professional groups, comment on forums, or even visit local events from time to time.

    Once you’re ready to begin building a name for yourself, look for opportunities to network and show off your skills.

    Develop your skills

    Sometimes, jobs will pay you a higher wage for a reason. A career that requires a specialist skill will often pay more than a basic entry-level job. With that in mind, it might be worth building on the talents that you already have. Think about the kind of things that you enjoy doing. Maybe you could work on something like coding or improving your technical expertise. The best way to boost your chances of getting your new skills recognized is to check out some student loans and head back to school. There are tons of different courses that you can take to add new certifications to your resume. You could also look into building out your knowledge about other topics online, taking free courses in your spare time. Stick with learning about topics that you’re genuinely interested in. This will give you an opportunity to get a job in a space that you enjoy.

    Ask for a promotion

    When’s the last time you just asked your boss whether they could pay you more? If you know that you’ve been delivering excellent work for a good while now, then it might be a good time to ask for a raise. Most business leaders won’t want to take the risk of losing an employee that’s valuable to the team. Check websites that list job openings and find out if there are any higher-paying companies out there that provide a better wage for the role you do now. This will give you a good starting point when you start asking for a wage. If you’re nervous, remember that hiring new team members comes with its own costs. If you’re a great employee, your boss would prefer to keep you around most of the time—even if that means paying more.

    If you want to be able to pay your bills each month without worrying about your bank account, it’s worth keeping your mind open to ideas that could increase earning potential.

    Start a side hustle

    Finally, if you’ve already gone and built some new skills at school, but you haven’t found the perfect job to use them in yet, why not try creating your own career with a side hustle? This is basically a job that you can do on the side to add more income to your bank. Many people have discovered that they can put a few extra hours into their work online each day and make a hefty amount of additional income. Thanks to the gig economy, it’s easy to find opportunities to make cash with things like graphic design, content writing, website development, and more. Start by making a list of the kind of things you’d be interested in doing. You might even decide to create your own business and sell items online using a dropshipping company. Dropshipping services handle things like manufacturing and shipping products for you, so you just need to build a brand and find customers.

    Increase your earning potential

    Money might not make you happy, but it’s one of the most important things in many of our lives. If you want to be able to pay your bills each month without worrying about your bank account, it’s worth keeping your mind open to ideas that could increase earning potential. Whether you’re developing new cash opportunities with your current employer or thinking about becoming your own boss with a side hustle, make the conscious effort to invest in yourself this year. The quicker you start working on your new earning opportunities, the more money you’ll make for your future.

    Source: quickanddirtytips.com

    The Half Payment Budget Method Explained

    The post The Half Payment Budget Method Explained appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

    The half payment budget method might be what you need.  If traditional budgets do not work, you really might want to consider this method instead.

     

    half payment budget method

     

    If you do any research, you will find many ways to budget.  However, many times, the options you find do not work for you.  That is why it is important to find the right budget for your needs.  A new one you may not have tried is the the half-payment budget method.

    This system helps many people stop living paycheck to paycheck.  Simply explained, it is where you take your regular, recurring payments and divide them in half.  Each payday, you set aside the necessary money out of each check so that you have the full payment available when it is due.  The half payment is not paid at that time, but rather you hang onto it and pay it on the due date.

    If you are just learning about budgeting, you will want to check out our page — How to Budget. There, you will learn everything you want to know about budgets and budgeting.

    HOW TO USE THE HALF-PAYMENT BUDGET METHOD

    In order to explain this in a simple manner, here is how this system might look for you:

    Monthly income: $2,500 (paid $1,250 every other week)

    Recurring monthly payments (other than utilities):

    Mortgage/Rent: $900
    Vehicle Payments: $450
    Auto insurance: $100

    When you apply the half-payment method, your weekly budget would look something like this:

    Paycheck #1 – $1,250

    Set aside $450 for rent/mortgage
    Set aside $225 for vehicle payments
    Set aside $50 for insurance

    Leaves $525 out of your paycheck for other expenses

    Paycheck #2 – $1,250

    Take $450 from previous paycheck and add $450 and pay $900
    Take $225 from previous paycheck and add $225 and make full $450 payment
    Take $50 from previous paycheck and add $50 to make $100 payment

    Leaves $525 out of your paycheck for other expenses from each check

     

    Now, let’s compare this to the method that many use – to just pay when the bill is due:

    Paycheck #1 – $1,250  

    Rent – $900

    Leaves $350 for all expenses

    Paycheck #2 – $1,250

    Vehicle payments – $450
    Insurance – $100

    Leaves $700 for additional expenses

    If you do the math, you will notice that you still have the same to spend over the course of a month, however, you will see a difference in the amount from each paycheck.  You might show that you have more money left after your 2nd paycheck of the month, but will you really save that?  Most people do not. If they have extra month to spend, they just spend it.

     

    How to Start

    I would not recommend that you jump in and change all of your bills so that they are paid using this method.  That may be too much and you might quit before you even really get started!  Instead, select one bill, such as a car payment, and try using the half payment method for a few months.  Once you see it works, you can transition other bills into this same payment method.

     

    Why it Works

    So, why would you use the half payment method?  For many it works better because you have around the same income to spend out of every check, rather than cutting your spending in half like you see in the second example.  For many, there is always that paycheck that makes spending tough.  When you have to pay a few larger bills all out of one check, it often leaves little to no money left for other purchases.

    By changing to the half method, you are still paying your bills, but you are just earmarking money to pay a bill due later in the month.  You still have the same income.  You still pay your bills on time. However, you have more disposable income every two weeks by doing it in this way.

    What is great about this method is that it works no matter how you are paid.  If you are paid monthly or weekly you might try using a quarter payment method every week (breaking out your check to leave spending weekly).

     

    If you want to learn more about understanding your money attitude, change your spending habits and get out of debt once and for all, check out the Financial Rebook eBook.

    The post The Half Payment Budget Method Explained appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

    Source: pennypinchinmom.com

    What Are Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)?

    What Are Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS)?

    Inflation, or a sustained period of rising consumer prices, can take a bite out of investor portfolios and reduce purchasing power as the prices of goods and services increase.

    Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, are one way to hedge against inflation in a portfolio. These government-issued securities are inflation-protected bonds that adjust in tandem with shifts in consumer prices to maintain value.

    Investing in TIPS bonds could make sense for investors who are seeking protection against inflation or who want to increase their conservative asset allocation. But what are TIPS and how exactly do they help to minimize inflationary impacts? This primer answers those questions and more.

    Recommended: Smart Ways to Hedge Against Inflation

    What Are TIPS?

    Understanding Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities starts with understanding a little about how bonds work. When you invest in a bond, whether it’s issued by a government, corporation or municipality, you’re essentially lending the issuer your money. In return, the bond issuer agrees to pay that money back to you at a specified date, along with interest. For that reason, bonds are often a popular option for those seeking fixed income investments.

    TIPS are inflation-protected bonds that pay interest out to investors twice annually, at a fixed rate applied to the adjusted principal of the bond. This principal can increase with inflation or decrease with deflation, which is a sustained period of falling prices. When the bond matures, you’re paid out the original principal or the adjusted principal—whichever is greater.

    Here are some key TIPS basics to know:

    •  TIPS bonds are issued in terms of 5, 10 and 30 years

    •  Interest rates are determined at auction

    •  Minimum investment is $100

    •  TIPS are issued electronically

    •  You can hold TIPS bonds until maturity or sell them ahead of the maturity date on the secondary market

    Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities are different from other types of government-issued bonds. With I Bonds, for example, interest accrues over the life of the bond and is paid out when the bond is redeemed. Interest earned is not based on any adjustments to the bond principal—hence, no inflationary protection.

    How Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) Work

    Understanding how TIPS work is really about understanding the relationship they have with inflation and deflation.

    Inflation refers to an increase in the price of goods and services over time. The federal government measures inflation using price indexes, including the Consumer Price Index. The federal government measures inflation using the Consumer Price Index, which measures the average change in prices over time for a basket of consumer goods and services. That includes things like food, gas, and energy or utility services.

    Deflation is essentially the opposite of inflation, in which consumer prices for goods and services drop over time. This can happen in a recession, but deflation can also be triggered when there’s a significant imbalance between supply and demand for goods and services. Both inflation and deflation can be detrimental to investors if they have trickle-down effects that impact the way consumers spend and borrow money.

    When inflation or deflation occurs, inflation-protected bonds can provide a measure of stability with regard to investment returns. Here’s how it works:

    •  You purchase one or more Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities

    •  You then earn a fixed interest rate on the TIPS bond you own

    •  When inflation increases, the bond principal increases

    •  When deflation occurs, the bond principal decreases

    •  Once the bond matures, you receive the greater of the adjusted principal or the original principal

    This last part is what protects you from negative impacts associated with either inflation or deflation. You’ll never receive less than the face value of the bond, since the principal adjusts to counteract changes in consumer prices.

    Are TIPS a Good Investment?

    Investing in inflation-protected bonds could make sense if you’re interested in creating some insulation against the impacts of inflation in your portfolio. For example, say you invest $1,000 into a 10-year TIPS bond that offers a 2% coupon rate. The coupon rate represents the yield or income you can expect to receive from the bond while you hold it.

    Now, assume that inflation rises to 3% over the next year. This would put the bond’s face value at $1,030, with an annual interest payment of $20.60. If you were looking at a period of deflation instead, then the bond’s face value and interest payments would decline. But the principal would adjust to reflect that to minimize the risk of a negative return.

    Recommended: Understanding Deflation and How it Impacts Investors

    Pros of Investing in TIPS

    What TIPS offer that more traditional bonds don’t is a real rate of return versus a nominal rate of return. In other words, the interest you earn with Treasury Inflation Protected Securities reflects the bond’s actual return once inflation is factored in. As mentioned, I Bonds don’t offer that; you’re just getting whatever interest is earned on the bond over time.

    Since these are government bonds, there’s virtually zero credit risk to worry about. (Credit risk means the possibility that a bond issuer might default and not pay anything back to investors.) With TIPS bonds, you’re going to at least get the face value of the bond back if nothing else. And compared to stocks, bonds are generally a far less risky investment.

    If the adjusted principal is higher than the original principal, then you benefit from an increase in inflation. Since it’s typically more common for an economy to experience periods of inflation rather than deflation, TIPS can be an attractive diversification option if you’re looking for a more conservative investment.

    Recommended: The Importance of Portfolio Diversification

    Cons of Investing in TIPS

    There are some potential downsides to keep in mind when investing with TIPS. For example, they’re more sensitive to interest rate fluctuations than other types of bonds. If you were to sell a Treasury Inflation-Protected Security before it matures, you could risk losing money, depending on the interest rate environment.

    You may also find less value from holding TIPS in your portfolio if inflation doesn’t materialize. When you redeem your bonds at maturity you will get back the original principal and you’ll still benefit from interest earned. But the subsequent increases in principal that TIPS can offer during periods of inflation is a large part of their appeal.

    It’s also important to consider where taxes fit in. Both interest payments and increases in principal from inflation are subject to federal tax, though they are exempt from state and local tax. The better your TIPS bonds perform, the more you might owe in taxes at the end of the year.

    How to Invest in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities

    If you’re interested in adding TIPS to your portfolio, there are three ways you can do it.

    1.   Purchase TIPS bonds directly from the U.S. Treasury. You can do this online through the TreasuryDirect website. You’d need to open an account first but once you do so, you can submit a noncompetitive bid for inflation protected bonds. The TreasuryDirect system will prompt you on how to do this.

    2.   Purchase TIPS through a banker, broker or dealer. With this type of arrangement, the banker, broker or dealer submits a bid for you. You can either specify what type of yield you’re looking for, which is a competitive bid, or accept whatever is available, which is a noncompetitive bid.

    3.   Invest in securities that hold TIPS, i.e. exchange-traded funds or mutual funds. There’s no such thing as a TIP stock but you could purchase a TIPS ETF if you’d like to own a basket of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities. You might choose this option if you don’t want to purchase individual bonds and hold them until maturity.

    When comparing different types of investments that are available with ETFs or mutual funds, pay attention to:

    •  Underlying holdings

    •  Fund turnover ratio

    •  Expense ratios

    Also consider the fund’s overall performance, particularly during periods of inflation or deflation. Past history is not an exact predictor of future performance but it may shed some light on how a TIPS ETF has reacted to rising or falling prices previously.

    The Takeaway

    Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities may help shield your portfolio against some of the negative impacts of inflation. Investors who are worried about their purchasing power shrinking over time may find TIPS appealing.
    But don’t discount the value of investing in stocks and other securities as well. Building a diversified portfolio that takes into consideration an investor’s personal risk tolerance, as well as financial goals and time horizons, is a popular strategy.

    With a SoFi Invest® online investing account, members can choose from stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrency options in one place. You can start investing with as little as $1, and manage your account from the convenient mobile app.

    Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.


    SoFi Invest®
    The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
    1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
    2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
    3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
    For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal. Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
    Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
    Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments.
    Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at investsupport@sofi.com. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
    Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
    Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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    The post What Are Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)? appeared first on SoFi.

    Source: sofi.com

    How to Balance Your Life and Budget: 12 Tips to Stay Organized

    Life’s a juggling act. You could be building your career, spending time on hobbies, and making time for those you love all at once. Finding a healthy way to navigate all three can be a hard code to crack. Often, one aspect of your life ends up taking more resources than the rest. While hustling your way to the top is good for your career and earnings, you may find yourself out of balance with your health or family. Ultimately, an unbalanced schedule can result in exhaustion, stress, and even burnout.

    Learn how to balance your life, career, and budget while reaching your biggest goals. You’ll be working smarter, not harder — here’s how.

    make-your-money-work-for-you

    How to Balance Your Budget

    Balancing your budget is essential for financial success. When you’re free of financial burden, it’s easier to feel relaxed and in control of your life. There are a few tricks to finding a budgeting rhythm that works for you — using a budgeting app is a great place to start.

    1. Simplify Your Budget

    Make budgeting easy by investing in what you love and saving on what you don’t. Start by downloading our app and tracking your earnings and expenses. Then, see what unnecessary expenses you can cut out. You may love eating out with your friends, but to avoid racking up a hefty bill, limit eating out to once a week.

    2. Budget for Extra Expenses

    It’s not sustainable to only spend money on things you need. Being strict with your budget could send you into a shopping spiral. There are times when you want to buy a new pair of shoes or eat out with your friends. If you have the money to do so, treat yourself without going overboard by sticking to your budget. Once you find a budget that works for you, set aside a specific amount to spend on extras.

    3. Automate What You Can

    Make your money work for you without thinking about it. Set a budget and try it out for a few months — adjust as needed. For example, if you feel like you always go over your grocery budget but you never use all of your gas money, reallocate those funds. Once you have all the kinks worked out, set up automatic payments for recurring expenses such as savings account contributions, debt payments, and living expenses. You won’t have to worry about missing a payment or creating a new budget every month.

    4. Follow Trusted Financial Gurus

    Weed through your social media feeds. Do you follow people that have a bad influence on your spending habits? How about financial experts that help you manage your money? Every month, sift through who you follow and remove accounts that negatively impact your money habits. It’s always a good idea to follow accounts that have a positive effect. For example, Mint’s Instagram account could be the right influence for you!

    work-smarter-not-harder

    How to Balance Your Work and Personal Life

    Working is what helps you pay your bills and live the life you want. But it can easily fill your schedule if you’re overly invested. Whether you work from home or an office, it’s important to make time for things you love — whether it be your family, friends, hobbies, or all three.

    5. Set Boundaries In and Out of the Office

    When you’re at work, stay focused on work. When you’re at home, stay focused on your loved ones, hobbies, or relaxing. If the lines get blurred, set rules for you and your loved ones. Turn off your work notifications after hours to avoid interference. When you’re working, silence your phone to steer clear of distractions and stay in your workflow. You may find yourself more productive and with extra time to take on more tasks — this could help you earn that promotion.

    6. Prioritize Your Time

    It’s hard to make time for everything you want to do. Lessen stress by prioritizing your time like you would your budget. List your most important tasks for the next day, followed by your lower priorities. Reference your list throughout the day to help you stay focused on what you need to do. This method saves you time and energy preparing for the day ahead.

    7. Make Your Workplace Work for You

    To set yourself up for success, start with your work environment. Get focused by creating different “zones” in your home or office. Section off places for working, eating, relaxing, and sleeping. Working in bed feels comfortable, but lacks balance. You could find yourself online shopping over focusing on your work task at hand.

    8. Schedule Daily “You” Time

    Having back-to-back meetings, tasks, or events can drain your energy, especially if the majority of your time is being spent on things you’re not passionate about. Create time for you by putting it on the calendar. Find a few times that work for your schedule and add in non-negotiable breaks. For example, block off your lunch break to check in on your budget.

     

    health-is-wealth

    How to Balance a Healthy Lifestyle

    Having a balanced lifestyle is essential for your mental and physical health. No matter what, there’s always someone to respond to or something to do. If you’re the “yes” person, it’s easy to spread yourself too thin. Instead of taking on every burden thrown at you, here are some tips on how to hit pause and put yourself first.

    9. Eliminate Negativity

    Filter through your lifestyle stressors by having honest conversations with yourself and others. Do you have friends that don’t positively impact your life? Or do you have a job that doesn’t bring you joy? If so, it may be time to cut ties with negative people or situations. Having relationships that don’t make you happy could influence bad purchasing decisions or habits.

    10. Make Time for What You Love

    During your free time, what do you do for fun? Working out, going on long walks, curling up with a good book, or anything else that brings you joy. Instead of only enjoying your favorite activities only on the weekends, add them to your daily routine. Make room in your budget for your favorite things throughout the work week.

    11. Listen to Your Body

    Some days you feel happy and ready to take on tasks thrown your way; other days you’re overwhelmed when it comes to meeting expectations. Fluctuations in your mood are normal! It’s how you handle them that makes the biggest impact. If you’re feeling down, listen to your body and treat yourself to a relaxing self-care evening that’s easy on your budget.

    12. Be Patient With Yourself

    Know we all have our good and bad days. Instead of being hard on yourself for a day gone sour, list out things you can do to prepare for the future. For example, you may have had a bad day at work. Take some time, stay calm, and brainstorm what you could have done differently in the situation. As you learn from your mistakes, you’ll grow into your career and potentially earn a promotion.

     

    are-you-living-life-unbalanced

    This process may entail establishing new habits and breaking old ones. In most cases, updating your daily habits takes time. Be patient with yourself and your budget as you seek balance. It isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but could save you daily stress.

    Sources: The U.S. Sun | World Population Review | Stress | U.S. Travel

    The post How to Balance Your Life and Budget: 12 Tips to Stay Organized appeared first on MintLife Blog.

    Source: mint.intuit.com

    4 Roadblocks to Saving Money — And How to Get Past Them

    Saving money can be a struggle. Our present spending takes priority over putting money aside for the future. There’s always one reason or another why we can’t save more. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be doomed to have puny savings forever. Here are four common roadblocks that prevent people from saving money — and the […]

    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.

    Source: thepennyhoarder.com