What Are Round-Up Savings?

Round-ups are a feature offered by some financial services companies in which each time a customer makes a transaction, that amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the change is deposited into a savings or investment account.

Once upon a time, people saved up their spare change in jars, cashing their coins in for a tidy sum once the jar was full.

And while the notion of that old coin jar may seem quaint now, there’s a new cashless version of that old tradition. It’s called round-ups.

The theory behind coin jars is as simple as can be.

Back when cash and coins were the most standard form of payment, savers would accumulate change throughout the day—paying for their morning coffee, buying lunch, or making other small routine purchases.

At the end of the day, they’d empty their pockets of coins and deposit all that loose change into a jar, where it would accumulate over time into a more sizable sum.

Once the jar was full, that money would be deposited into a savings account.

How Does Round-Up Savings Work?

Much like the cash jars of yore, round-up savings are also based on the principle that small amounts of money can add up to big savings over time.

For example, let’s say a round-up user makes a purchase for $28.15. If they were paying with cash, they’d have 85 cents remaining in change. With round-ups, the financial institution rounds up the value of the transaction and transfers those 85 cents into a savings account.

5 Types of Savings You Should Consider Having

Round-Up Savings Can Add Up

While saving 85 cents may not sound like much, any jar saver who ever went to the bank with $100 in change will attest that putting away small amounts can add up fast.

For example, saving just five extra dollars a week in round-ups adds up to $260 over the course of the year. This may not sound like a lot of money to save in total, but it can provide a nice boost to augment a more intentional savings strategy.

And that’s not the full amount someone could gain from participating in a round-up program.

Just like other savings or investments, round-ups deposited into a savings or an investment account have the potential to earn interest.

If the proceeds of round-up purchases are deposited to a savings account on a regular basis, that spare change would grow—and could continue growing—each time interest compounds.

For round-up investing, those small savings can, over time, help in the purchase of additional shares which may also grow in value.

Reasons For Considering Round-up Savings

Many Americans have trouble saving money.

For example, more than a third of U.S. adults would not have the extra funds to cover an unexpected $400 expense , and a quarter of Americans don’t have any retirement savings.

There are lots of reasons people have trouble saving—and for some, setting up round-ups can help them consistently set money away without having to think about it.

This can help to eliminate some of the pain and effort of saving.

Round-ups Make Everyday Transactions More Rewarding

One reason round-ups can be a useful tool to help someone stick save is that round-ups help someone pay themselves with each transaction.

Kind of like tipping oneself, round-ups pay the saver a little something extra on their transactions, making everyday spending a little more rewarding.

Round-ups are Automatic

Part of why saving can feel painful is that it requires the saver to make difficult decisions on a regular basis.

Each time money is put into a savings or investment account, the individual must consciously choose to save over other possible expenditures, decide how much to put away, and actually remember to perform the funds transfer.

But once they’re set up, round-ups happen automatically—without requiring conscious sacrifice.

Automating personal finances can be a helpful tactic to keep everyday funds flowing, avoid late fees and other stresses, and encourage healthy habits.

When it comes to automating savings, round-ups are yet another tool that can assist consumers in putting away small amounts of money.

Round-ups Take Some of the Pain Out of Saving

Saving money can be hard emotionally. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, each time an individual makes the decision to save they’re putting their future goals ahead of immediate pleasure.

That may be rewarding in the long run, but saving also typically requires an individual to make some sacrifices now. But because round-ups transfer such small amounts to savings on each transaction, people may not even feel a pinch.

For those who are already putting money into savings on a regular basis, taking advantage of round-up features can help to grow that money more rapidly, putting the ability to achieve your savings goals within even closer reach.

Round-ups May Help Counter Savings Procrastination

While some people save early and often, others may put it off. There are lots of reasons for procrastinating on starting a savings plan.

For those in their 20s, for example, retirement or even things like starting a family and buying a house can seem a long way off. Meanwhile, there can be lots of temptation to spend now, especially for those earning entry-level salaries.

SoFi Money®, account holders can enroll in the Round-up program, so long as they have at least one Vault set up. Vaults allow users to save for different goals within the same account. With the round-up program, transactions will be rounded up to the nearest dollar and deposited into the Vault selected by the account holder. There are also no fees and it’s possible to earn cashback when you spend.

Learn more about how SoFi Money can help you achieve your savings goals.


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 . The umbrella term “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.

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.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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Source: sofi.com

How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

Hello! Please enjoy this article from a reader, Rush Walters, on how he flips garage sale and auction items on eBay as a side hustle to make extra income.

Depending on who you ask, there are pros and cons to being a high school teacher. One con: income, One pro: having summers off.How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

How I Flip Garage Sale Items On eBay As A Side Hustle

Both my wife and I are teachers in a small mid-Missouri town. During my first year (2015) as a high school teacher and head boy’s tennis coach I was making a whopping $38,000 a year.

Needless to say, the budget was tight some months.

When I got married in 2018, I thought a second income would be very helpful, but a second salary would not come until 2019. Long story short, my wife is from Bolivia and was not able to legally work for a year until she received her permanent residency status (green card).

Two people living off of one middle-class paycheck, let alone a teacher’s paycheck, was challenging. Thankfully my wife and I were decent at budgeting, and have been using a successful budgeting process since we have been married, but I’ll save that story for another day.

Financially we were fine, but what about the fun money? What about going out to eat with friends during the weekends? What about going to the movies? What about my “want” purchases?

This is when the idea of flipping items on eBay from garage sales & auctions came into full effect.

At the time, I heard about one of my coworkers making a significant amount of money from flipping sports memorabilia on the side. I thought to myself, “I could do that, I don’t have much of a sports background, but I do have an eBay account and I have been to garage sales before.”

So I began waking up Saturday mornings at 6am, grabbing my coffee thermos, heading to the local gas station to purchase the local newspaper, and marking up the classifieds with my pen.

(Sifting through the junk at garage sales to find the gold!)

Sifting through the junk at garage sales to find the gold!

I would circle all of the sales that started that day only. Forget the 2-day garage sales that started the day before. I am not saying that you cannot find anything of value at these sales, but everything has already been picked through and all the good stuff has been bought. 

Flipping items on eBay quickly became my side hustle! Starting out I sought some advice from my coworker I mentioned earlier.

I mean this guy is really into it, he would travel on the weekends to trade shows in other states and if he was going solo he would sleep in his car to save money. He is frugal, well some people like to call it “cheap,” haha.

Along with advice from him, I honestly learned a lot through experience. Trials & Tribulations. From a good flip I gained money and joy, from a bad flip I learned a lesson. Throughout this process I also learned about the value of my time.

Is it worth spending half a day at auction just for one item that may bring me $20?

I am going to share with you my step by step process for beginners flipping items on eBay. I have made mistakes and I have enjoyed successes, but most importantly is that I learned from my experiences. Experience is one of the best teachers you can find.

Related content:

How I make extra money reselling items on eBay.

Step 1: Mining for Diamonds

You will be mining for the “diamond(s) in the ruff” as they say.

There are three specific tools you will need before you hit the ground running. Let’s start with the most obvious: cash money. Make an effort to go to the bank the day before you go garage saling.

In the morning when I would buy the newspaper at the gas station, I would ask the register if they could change a $20, but I quickly found out that changing a $20 at the local gas station isn’t always reliable. Some gas stations have enough one dollars bills to spare, some do not. That being said, I have done it many times, but sometimes I am only able to get 10 or 15 one dollar bills at a time.

This limits my bartering power. You are not going to be able to go to the bank in the morning because they are closed and ATMs do not output dollar amounts in increments of 1.

My top tip for cash is to always carry $1 bills on you. Reason being, when you barter you will need to have the ability to pay any amount, not just increments of $5. I try to carry twenty one $1 bills on me at all times when I’m garage saling. If you make a purchase that you have larger bills for, use your large bills. Only use your dollar bills when needed.

Tool #2 is the newspaper. Always buy your local newspaper the day of the sale. Your local gas stations should always have a copy. As soon as you get in your car, pull out the classifieds portion of the paper, throw the rest in your backseat, pull out your pen and start circling all the garage sales that open for the first time that morning. Make a mental note of the times, obviously you want to go to the earliest ones first. Don’t spend forever doing this, you are on a schedule!

Have a game plan, you know the town you live in, take the most strategic route you can. Do not go all the way out to the East side of town then turn right around to go all the way to the West side of town. Go to the East side and hit up all the sales along the way. There isn’t a specific game plan that I can give you for what sales to hit first, only some pointers.

Obviously hit the first ones that are open first. Hit the ones that are in the same vicinity. Hit what you are looking for. I personally like to flip old video games for a number of reasons, so if I see a listing mentioning video games, I will put that sale on the top of my list. The final thing you need to consider is the type of garage sale listing. Here are the top 3 listings you need to know:

Moving Sales – The name the game is in the title: “moving.” These sellers are motivated to move and get rid of their items. Sure, getting some extra money is a plus, but they just want to get rid of items so they can move without having to worry about them. They are motivated to sell and are very open to deals.

Estate Sales – The best of the best in my opinion. These sellers are not moving, but they want to get rid of everything. I would argue that they are more motivated to sell compared to anyone else because they are just cleaning the estate of everything, sometimes for any price.

The normal “Garage Sale” – The most common sale, these sellers are more motivated to make money rather than to get rid of items. They are the hardest to barter with, but have some of the most valued items because they are priced to sell.

(Online Garage Sale Ad from my local newspaper)

Online Garage Sale Ad from my local newspaper

All in all, you can probably find deals at any of these sales, the title of them only helps me prioritize which one I am going to first. If both a garage sale and estate sale begins at 7am you better be dang sure that I am going to the estate sale first.

Some local newspapers have a digital version of the classifieds listed as well as a paper copy. The only benefit I’ve found to this compared to the paper copy is that it helps me make my decision on whether or not I want to go garage selling the next day. Typically my paper posts the day-of classifieds for Saturday online starting at midnight, which makes sense. You will have to do your own research if your paper offers this.

So if I see that the online classifieds are only listing two garage sales for the next morning, chances are I will not go unless the listing description is promising/convincing.

Also, people do post ads on Facebook and they should be considered, but I have found that if it is on Facebook it will be listed in the paper too, at least if it’s worth going to.

As soon as you’re done marking up the classifieds and establishing your game plan, head to your first sale, it never hurts to be early. I am going to repeat this, it never hurts to be early. I stress this because although the listing may say that they open at 7am, I have seen them open at 6:50am. Yes 10mins. makes a difference! A 10min window could be your chance to cash in on a great deal or could be a missed opportunity to cash in on a great deal if you show up at 7:00am. If you are there before it opens, no worries, wait in your car until they open. Yes I know I know, it may seem creepy to wait in your car outside their house but hey it will not be creepy when you’re walking away with great items to flip.

Always make every effort to be first.

You need to be the first person at the sale so that you are the first person to see what they have to offer and the first person to land the best deal. People are vultures out there, they want the best meat first and do not care who is in the way.

Last but not least, you will need your smartphone charged and the eBay app up and running. On the app you are able to conduct a search for previously sold items. This tool is your key for finding the current values of items. This tool is great because it is always updated and always accurate.

You find the “Sold Items” button under the filter when searching for a specific item, as shown in the picture below.

Left image: “Sold Items” button              Right image: Sold Items Search Results

Once you have learned more about what sells and what does not, you can move quicker.

Again you are on a schedule, I am not saying you need to run from sale to sale, but if you don’t find any deals at one you are wasting your time just walking around.

Your time could be spent better at another sale, where you could be beating someone else to the punch.

Step 2: Bartering

Here comes the pivotal point. When to say yes, when to say no, what price to ask?

When bartering for objects in the $20 and under range, I most often start by offering half of what they are asking. Example: the item is priced at $10 so I will offer $5. Now I know that 8 out of 10 times I am probably not going to get the item for half off, but it’s a starting point to get the item for at least 25% off the original price. So why do I shoot for half off you might ask?

There is a good chance that they are going to counter your original offer, therefore if you start your offer at 25% off the original price they could counter with 10% off the original price. The seller, as well as the buyer, wants to get that satisfied feeling. You as the buyer are satisfied with getting a deal whereas the seller is still happy with making money although it might be a little lower than what they were asking.

You also need to take in mind that most garage sellers are not out there to make money for a living. Their purpose is to get rid of items they do not want anymore and it is a bonus if they are able to get cash in return, it’s not like they are running a pop-up business. Most of the time they are more motivated to get rid of items compared to just making money.

When you are bartering you also need to establish your stopping point. What is too expensive for you?

The lower the price you purchase your item for, the larger window of opportunity you have to make money. This decision all depends on how much you want to make. The details are in the margins, if you see a video game that sold on eBay for $15 and you bought it for $5 that’s a decent amount of profit.

You tripled your money.

When you look up an item on eBay  you need to be as specific as possible, so your search results are as accurate as possible. If you cannot find an exact copy of the item that was sold, find the most closely related item and use it to set your standard for the value of an item and establish what you are willing to pay for it.

Do not get caught up in the excitement of the deal. Yes it’s exciting and yes it’s enjoyable to have success flipping products, but do not let it cloud your judgement or your knowledge. I am going to be honest, money does not care about your feelings.

Stay focused, get what you set out to get for the right price.

When I run into an item that I am still learning about I always ask myself is it worth the risk of X amount of dollars?

Are you comfortable with potentially losing X amount of dollars?

Risk is always involved.

I can remember when I purchased some collectible Harley-Davidson Steins. I did not know too much about them, I saw what they sold for on eBay and then decided to take a risk. The seller gave me a price that I was comfortable with so I purchased two of them. I broke positive, but only made a few bucks for a good amount of work. I am glad I did not lose money, but I lost my time.

My time is valuable and so is yours.

Behind every flip, there is a lesson to be learned.

Before we get into the final step, I am going to share with you lessons I have learned from my faults and successes.

Lessons to be learned

After dropping my wife off at the airport in the city, I figured I might as well hit up some auctions on my way back home.

At the time, I had been to auctions before so I knew the routine, but I had never been to an auction with the goal in mind to flip items. I had a few successful garage sale flips under my belt so I figured auctions are the next level in my side hustle pursuit.

I saw this collection of old American coins, mostly Kennedy half dollars and some steel pennies that were made during the war due to the shortage of copper.

I did the math, if I sold 50 of them at $5 a pop I would make $250 so I’d be comfortable with spending $200 for the lot. I remember that I liked that fact the coins are a small item so they would be easy to mail. I also liked that it was a collection therefore I could build my inventory without having to go to multiple garage sales to keep my eBay listings updated. I bought the coins, but I had to bid against others which drove up the price and my valuation was wrong 😬.

I did not know much about coin collecting and on top of my little knowledge of the items, I did not have good cell phone service in the building so I could not follow my rule of valuing items on eBay.

I knew that there was a market for collectible coins, but I did not take into consideration the specifics of coin collections. Collecting coins and currency is a whole other ball game. Let alone the quality certifications behind them.

Let’s just say I was in the negative on this flip. I believe I sold around $50 – $70 of the around $200 I spent on them. I also bought a collection of lighters that day for around $90 and sold them for around $20 – $30.

Sad day.

On the flip side of things my first big sell was a fishing lure. I bought a small tackle box of fishing lures and gear for $15 at a local garage sale.

When I was evaluating the price of the lures on eBay I was confident that I could make my money back and I was comfortable with risking $15. I had trouble choosing a listing price for the lures, I just did not know what to start them at.

Let me remind you that this was when I was first starting out. I asked my coworker what he thought, he suggested that I start auctioning them at 99 cents. So that’s what I did. That way I could see if they are worth anything and learn from my first attempt at selling lures.

Certain Fishing lures are very collectible.

I sold one for $100!!

This was my first big sale and I was ecstatic! I caught the eBay fever!

My first big flip: collectable fishing lure

My first big flip: collectable fishing lure

Step 3: Quality eBay Listings

I am not going to go through how to list an item step by step by step, but I am going to discuss my top recommendations when listing an item.

The reasoning I’m not going to go through it step by step is because eBay does a great job at outlining what is required for item listings.

I am going to give you what you need to take your listings from a default basic level to a high quality level.

By now if you were using the “sold items” feature on eBay during step 1, you should already have the eBay app installed on your phone. To list items you need to make a free account on eBay. The company does a great job and gives you a straightforward process for setting up an account.

I don’t have much complaints to say about the app, it provides an easy and understandable process for listing items.

Starting out, I would recommend that you focus on the “auction” listing more than anything else. You have the potential to make money and you can learn how expensive people value your specific item.

When you set up a “buy it now” listing, you set a constant price that won’t change.

Whereas buyers in auctions determine the final price; the sky’s the limit.

Another beautiful aspect that auctions offer is that they drive competition! Think about it, say you’re missing the last few presidents in your campaign button collection and president #3 is up for auction. President #3 is hard to come by so you know that you’re going to do whatever it takes to obtain his button……so is the next guy…..and the next guy…..and the next guy.

That means one thing for you: $$$$$$. I think you get the picture.

I believe this is what happened with my $100 fishing lures. Two guys were going at it, to add to their collection.

Now this doesn’t happen with all items, not all items are a part of a collection. The principle of supply and demand rings true and through auctions you are able to witness this process as a seller.

Let’s get into pricing.

Always start your auction at a price below what the previous item sold for. This may seem like common sense, but I have seen plenty of auction listings starting at the price they are valued at. Let me remind you that they have zero bids!

I wonder why. 😐

My rule of thumb is that the lower the starting price, compared to what it is valued at, the higher attention your listing is going to attract.

With a low starting point, potential buyers are going to see it as a deal to be made! I typically start the listing from $10 to sometimes $20 below what it is valued at. Also do not forget to take into account eBay’s 10% listing sellers fee. For most items eBay only takes 10% of your sold price. Here is a detailed list of eBay’s fees.

Once you have an idea for a ballpark price, you are going to want to take quality pictures of your product.

Display:

  • the back
  • the front
  • the sides, and
  • a bird’s eye view

Display every picture necessary to give potential buyers a full understanding of your item.

Once your pictures are uploaded you need to complete the description of the item, this is often overlooked/partially completed.

Now do not over do it, but your item’s description needs to be specific.

Example, if I am selling a video game that I have never tested on a console and the case is missing the original manual I would put the following in the description:“Untested and missing manual as seen in pictures.”

By saying this, it both informs your buyer and covers your butt. I have had it happen to me a few times where a buyer will purchase a produce that has a defect, that I mentioned in the description and showed pictures of 🙃, complaining that it is broken or not what they originally purchased. I then reference my original posting and they can’t win the argument. I will not refund them their purchase because they did not read the description.

What about reviews from the buyer!?!

If a buyer who is in the wrong attempts to give you a bad review, you can call eBay’s customer service, explain the situation, and ask for it to be taken down. Of course eBay must agree that you are in the right, but if you are right they will back you up.

1 point eBay, 0 points grumpy buyer.

Last tip on listing an item: shipping.

When starting out, always have the buyer pay for shipping. Ebay has a good system in place that calculates how much it will cost per person based upon their location.

All you have to do is enter the item’s weight and dimensions of the box/package that you plan to ship it in. When filling out the shipping portion of your listing, be sure that everything is correct otherwise you will be charged for extra shipping if your items actually cost more than you anticipated.

This is a lesson that I had to learn more than once.

Conclusion

  1. Establish your game plan for garage selling. Know where and how to mine for gold.
  2. Barter like it’s nobody’s business! The lower the price the greater the window of opportunity you have to make money.
  3. Simply follow directions when creating a listing, be thorough with your pictures and description.

Finally and most importantly, learn as you go.

After you do your research and read up on how to flip items on eBay, you need to try it! Experience is one of the best teachers.

I have experienced bad flips and good flips.

The path to success is not perfect otherwise everybody would be doing it.

Author bio: Rush is a Mid-Missouri high school engineering teacher and tennis coach. He and his wife Mia have no kids, only a smart Bernese Mountain dog named Zion. Along with teaching, he runs one blog; Clim & Joe’s. He enjoys exploring, cooking, board games, and time spent with his wife and family. 

Are you interested in flipping items for resale? What questions do you have for Rush?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Tips for Finding a Lost Bank Account

Losing track of money might seem hard to imagine, but it’s actually not uncommon to forget about an old bank account or other source of money that is rightfully yours.

It could be an account you opened a long time ago that, after one or two moves, became both out of sight and out of mind. Or, it might be lost paycheck, an old 401(k), or an unclaimed pension.

In fact, roughly 1 in 10 people have unclaimed assets waiting for them, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) . They report that billions of dollars in unclaimed property are currently being held by state governments and treasuries within the U.S.

If you’ve lost track of money that belongs to you, however, there’s no reason to panic, or consider the money gone for good.

There are a number of ways to locate lost assets from a bank or other type of financial account, and most of them are completely free.

It might take a bit of (virtual) leg work, but finding the unclaimed money due to you can be worth the effort.

How to Find an Old Bank Account

If you’ve accessed the account within the past year, you might be able to recover the account directly from the bank.

Exactly how to recover a lost bank account will likely vary based on the financial institution. Your account information can be found on checks and often on old account statements.

If it’s been longer than a year, you might have to dig a little deeper to recover a lost bank account.

When a bank or other business loses contact with an account holder, they are legally required to turn any assets over to the state, typically after two to three years of inactivity or returned mail.

That’s why a good place to start a quest for older unclaimed property is often through your state’s unclaimed property office . The unclaimed funds held by the state are typically from bank accounts, insurance policies, or your state government.

When you click on a state, you will be directed to its official website. To search for your unclaimed money, you may want to use both your current and maiden name (if you legally changed your last name).

Another good resource for tracking down unclaimed money is MIssingMoney.com . This is a multi-state directory operated by the NAUPA that allows you to search by name for missing or unclaimed money.

If you belonged to a credit union in the past, it may be worth checking the unclaimed deposits listing run by the National Credit Union Administration.

Other Sources of Unclaimed Money

Unclaimed money isn’t limited to forgotten bank accounts.

There are a variety of reasons you could be missing money due to you—perhaps you switched jobs and lost track of a pension plan or 401(k). Or, maybe you forgot to update your address and missed a payment or tax refund.

If you previously worked for a company that offered a pension plan, you can search the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s unclaimed pension database .

For lost or missing retirement plan funds, you could check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits , which is operated by PenChecks Trust, one of the largest providers of retirement plan distribution services.

USA.gov helps you search for assets due from employers, insurance companies, and the government (including tax refunds).

How to Claim Lost Money

If you find unclaimed assets in your name, the next step is to fill out a form or make an online request to make your claim.

Each state will typically have its own rules and regulations for how individuals should go about proving ownership of the unclaimed money held by the government. Generally, states will require substantial evidence that the money rightfully belongs to you.

Claims typically require showing proof of identity (such as information from a driver’s license or passport), any former residential addresses, and documentation showing your right to ownership of the assets.

If the owner is deceased and you inherited the assets, additional documents are typically required. This may include a death certificate, as well as a probate court order.

Are Companies that Help You Reclaim Assets Legit?

As you’re searching for lost bank accounts, you may find businesses that offer to find unclaimed money, generally for a fee.

Sometimes known as “finders,” these are companies that are looking to earn money by reunited people with their lost assets.

While it’s fine to pay someone to help you get lost money returned to you, you may want to keep in mind that you can complete a search and submit a claim for free by yourself.

It’s also a good idea to keep your eyes open to potential fraud. Unsolicited emails or letters offering to return unclaimed property to you for a fee, for example, are often scams.

You may also want to be wary of an organization or individual who claims to be a part of the government and offers to send you unclaimed money for a fee, as these are likely to be scams. Government agencies will not contact individuals about unclaimed money, nor will they charge a fee.

If somebody contacts you regarding missing money, it’s a smart idea to do some research on the business before handing over any personal information, and also to avoid paying any money up front.

The Takeaway

Many people have unclaimed money floating around somewhere.

Often this money comes from funds found in banks, financial institutions, or companies that haven’t been in contact with the owner for over a year and, as a result, the funds have been turned over to the state.

A good place to start looking for unclaimed assets is NAUPA’s database of records from all 50 states . From there, you can find links to each state’s official unclaimed property program.

What to do if you come into some unexpected money? Whether your windfall is large or small, you may want to consider putting it into a cash management account like SoFi Money®.

SoFi Money allows you to earn competitive interest, spend, and save–all in one account. And, SoFi Money doesn’t have any account fees, monthly fees, or many other common fees.

Make the most of the money you have–and any new money you find–with SoFi Money.



SoFi Money®
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20 Questions To Ask When Renting a House

While renting an apartment is as easy as a quick tour and signing your lease, when it comes to renting a house, it often is a bit more complicated.

The lease signing process is similar if you are going to rent a house or rent an apartment. However, you’ll probably have more questions to ask when renting a house.

You have more space to take care of, possibly a backyard, potential roof leaks, alarm systems and other things you usually don’t worry about when you live in an apartment complex.

Whether you have a private landlord or a property manager looking over the property, make sure you protect yourself before signing the agreement to make sure this is the best move for you. Here are 20 questions to ask when renting a house.

1. What is the application process?

Rental application on a tablet.

This should be one of the first questions to ask when renting a house.

Before looking at the place person, ask the landlord what the application process looks like and screen for the right tenant. Knowing the application process ahead of time will help you come in prepared for the showing. The application process will vary from house rental to house rental. Some landlords will require you to submit a credit report and reference, while others just accept an application and the security deposit.

Always ask if the credit report inquiry is hard, which affects your credit score, or soft, which does not. If the landlord doesn’t know, proceed with caution. Determine if the screening process is the right one for you, and always be skeptical of those asking for your personal information.

2. Will this be a year-long lease, month-to-month or something else?

Not every rental house comes with a standard year-long lease as many apartment complexes. There’s a lot of flexibility in dealing with a private landlord or property company for houses.

Ask the landlord what kind of lease they are looking to sign with the new tenant — may be one year and then month-to-month or three months at a time. Pick what works for you, your budget and your plans.

Make sure you read any clauses that have to do with the timeline of the lease agreement to go over payment, due dates and any early termination fees. If month-to-month, how long do you have to let the landlord know you’re leaving, for example.

3. When will the house be available for move-in?

As you start looking for your next rental house, it’s important to sync up your leases if you can. Ask the landlord when will the house be available for move-in so you can start thinking about timelines. This date should occur the day after a deep clean takes place, so the space is ready for the next tenant.

If you’re able to overlap a few days for both leases, do so as it will allow you to move a little slower and have enough time to clean your other apartment.

4. Who is responsible for yard work and upkeep?

questions to ask when renting a house, who is responsible for yard work

At your apartment complex, you never have to worry about how tall the grass is or any landscaping outside the apartment. But with a rental house, that’s the first thing on your weekend list. Ask the landlord if they will pay for someone to come cut the grass for you and landscape versus you doing it.

If you’re responsible, make sure that this service fits your budget. Also, the neighborhood may have specific landscaping requirements, so confirm this with the landlord, if applicable.

5. What is the parking situation?

Do you have to pay for parking? How many spaces do you get? Do you have visitor parking spaces? Do you have a driveway or do you have to park on the street? Knowing your parking situation may affect whether this is a good option for you or not, depending on your budget and safety concerns.

Your lease agreement should have a parking clause if it’s not free.

6. Am I allowed to paint the walls or perform minor renovations?

Upgrading your rental can quickly make it feel like home. Ask the landlord if you can paint the walls, change hardware in the bathroom or any minor renovations to level up the rental house. The landlord may agree to leave them on or ask for you to change things back upon moving out.

During your initial walk-through, ask the landlord about potential changes, make notes and then get them in writing with the landlord’s approval. This will save you big headaches later in your lease term when getting your security deposit back.

7. Is smoking allowed in the property?

These days, most establishments are smoke-free and many landlords are moving to do the same for their rental properties. Ask the landlord if it’s OK to smoke inside the home before applying for the home.

The smell of smoke is difficult to remove from surfaces, so make sure you’re not penalized later. If needed, your landlord should designate a space for you to smoke outside the home.

8. What is the pet policy?

Unpacking an apartment with a dog.

When it comes to pets, it can get tricky in rental properties. Between cats and dogs, breeds, weight maximums and how many pets may occupy the space, it’s important to have clear communication from the start. Ask the landlord the following:

  • What kind of pets do they allow?
  • What’s the weight maximum on each pet allowed?
  • How many may live in the home?
  • Do you have any restrictions on breeds?
  • Is there a monthly pet fee or just a one-time pet fee?
  • Is the pet fee non-refundable?
  • Do you need to clean up after your dog in the backyard?
  • Upon moving out, what’s the cleaning protocol for pets?

9. How often are the locks changed?

You may not immediately this of this question to ask when renting a house, but it’s important for your safety.

If the locks were not changed recently and you love the rental, ask the landlord to change them on his or her budget before moving in.

You never know who has a key in their possession, and you don’t want a strange coming into your home unannounced. Make a list of the locks needed for your landlord and put a deadline on it.

10. Which utilities are my responsibility?

Don’t assume what utilities you will need to pay in your new house rental.

Ask during your showing what utilities are your responsibility every month. For example, the landlord may take care of water and trash (similar to an apartment complex), and you’re in charge of everything else. Or you’re responsible for all utility bills.

Clarify this both in person and through the lease agreement to make sure you open the correct accounts.

11. When did you last replace the smoke detectors?

questions to ask when renting a house, when was the smoke detector last changed?

When you go see the rental home, keep an eye out for smoke detectors. Not having smoke detectors is a big red flag you can’t ignore.

Smoke detector units should be replaced every 10 years, and the batteries should be replaced at least once a year. Ask the landlord when was the last time they checked them and had the batteries replaced. Request the smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide if available) be inspected and tested to make sure they work correctly.

12. Which furnishings and appliances come with the house?

Whether you’re an out-of-towner or a long-time resident of your city, you need to know what’s included with renting a house. Some rental homes only come with the bare minimum — stove and fridge. Others come with more appliances, including a washer and dryer and even some furnishings.

Confirm the age of the appliances are and what will be in place when you move in. Include any repairs and maintenance in the lease agreement to avoid paying in the future. If applicable, ask the landlord to remove any remaining furnishings if you don’t plan to use them.

13. Is renter’s insurance required?

Renter’s insurance helps you cover the cost of your belonging in case of theft or fire in your rental home.

Some landlords require tenants to have it before approving their application. If needed, it will be in the lease agreement. Check out the lease to make sure they don’t require a certain policy amount or company.

In the end, it’s smart to have renter’s insurance, required or not, to protect your valuable belongings in case of an emergency.

14. How do I submit a repair request?

Man repairing a pipe under the sink.

Roof leaks, broken appliances, plumbing issues — repair concerns are often more extensive and complex in rental homes than apartment complexes. Read the lease to get familiar with repair request procedures.

Confirm that the landlord covers appliances, structural concerns and other home issues by hiring their people or letting you call someone. If it’s minor repairs, it might be better for them to let you deduct it from the rent payment if needed, but that’s still up to the landlord.

Make sure that you agree on a timeline from request to repair — often 48 hours — before signing the agreement. Many landlords will sit on a request for months before addressing it, leaving you inconvenienced.

15. Have you had any break-ins in the area?

Something often not listed on the house rental flyer, but vital to know is any past break-ins.

If possible, search the area around the rental home on a crime map and drive around at night to see if you feel comfortable. Follow up with the landlord and ask them if there have been any break-ins on the street and home, plus any relevant details.

Also, ask them how fast repairs occurred on the house, if applicable, to the break-in. It will help you make an informed decision on the property.

16. What’s your policy on roommates and/or subletting?

Depending on previous experiences, landlords tend to have specific restrictions regarding what type of tenant can live in their property.

A few don’t allow roommates due to rowdy house parties, and others aim to have only couples live in the house. Be honest with your potential landlord about the possibility of a roommate now or down the road.

Ask if your roommate will have a separate lease, or you will be in charge of everything — this may increase the risk for you.

Related to potential roommates, make sure to look over the clauses for subletting. Ensure that if you see a future when you’d like to sublet your room, your lease allows it and what kind of information you need to share with the landlord.

17. Do you allow for early-lease terminations?

While most standard lease agreements come with an early termination clause, landlords tend to have different policies around it. Life happens — so you need to make sure that you have a way out without being penalized, if possible. Confirm all fees associated with early lease termination as well as the timeline.

Ordinarily, the lease will say that the tenant must pay two to three months of rent for terminating their lease early. Sometimes less or it’s every month the property stays untenanted for the rest of the lease. This is important to note as you’ll need to prepare to cover these fees and give a good heads up to avoid losing your security deposit.

18. What payment methods do you accept for rent?

In the era of Venmo, Paypal and ACH, it’s hard to believe that some landlords still prefer checks for rent payments.

Ask them about the grace period for rent payments (past the first of the month) and how you can pay. But for those without a bank account or without checks, digital wallets are the way.

Confirm payment methods available and get it in writing. It’s important to always get a receipt after each payment, too.

19. Can I have guests stay at the house?

questions to ask when renting a house, can you have overnight guests?

Depending on the landlord, they may not want house parties or long-term guests to stay at the house. Check the lease for any guest-specific clauses, like quiet hours or stay maximums, and discuss them with your landlord.

Ensure that you specify how long a guest can stay without penalty and if there are any requirements or stipulations for your friend or family to stay over.

20. If I can’t reach you, who’s my backup contact for emergencies?

While your landlord will be available through phone or email to address repairs and other concerns, sometimes things happen or they go on vacation. Make sure you know who to call if you have a pipe issue or another emergency.

Maybe your landlord has a trusted handyman that is on call if he’s out. It’s important to confirm how to handle these situations while the landlord is out and get it in writing.

Be prepared with questions to ask when renting a house

Taking your time to go over details about this potential rental home, despite your excitement, will pay off and make the experience go a lot smoother. Our questions to ask when renting a house are just suggestions. You may have other things you want to know, such as additional details surrounding utilities, yard work or lease clauses.

The process can seem overwhelming, but as long as know the right questions to ask when renting a house, you’ll be on your way to a great living experience.

Source: rent.com

10 Cities Near Seattle To Live in 2021

With its natural beauty and laid-back culture, there are many excellent reasons to move to the Seattle area. But the city has seen rapid population growth in recent years, along with an increased cost of living — causing a drawback for some. Fortunately, there are plenty of cities near Seattle that offer fantastic alternatives for every lifestyle.

Whether you’re looking for a safe suburb to raise a family in, a home base for outdoor excursions or a hip neighborhood with a thriving nightlife, there’s a city that offers what you’re looking for, all without traveling more than 30 minutes or so outside downtown Seattle. Consider adding the following places to your list.

Kirkland, WA. Kirkland, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 11.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,069 (down 3.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,521 (up 5.8 percent since last year)

Located on the Northeastern shore of Lake Washington, Kirkland offers easy proximity to downtown Seattle combined with a wooded, suburban feel. Many families find Kirkland appealing as an alternative to Seattle. They can find more space, excellent schools and the opportunity to live close to an urban center.

The city of Kirkland is on the waterfront. Its popular public parks on the lake offer opportunities for boating, swimming and beach volleyball. It also showcases a picturesque collection of restaurants and shops, perfect for an evening out.

Commuters to Seattle will enjoy a short drive into downtown, or you can choose the excellent public transit connections.

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Redmond, WA. Redmond, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 15.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,141 (down 7.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,712 (down 5.8 percent since last year)

Redmond is perhaps best known as the home of Microsoft. A resulting concentration of tech talent has attracted other tech companies as well as their employees, creating a diverse community of young professionals and families.

Redmond is sprawling and spacious, with wide sidewalks and plenty of trees. Many streets have bike lanes and paved bike paths connect to other nearby cities.

The city is in a beautiful natural setting and is home to Marymoor Park, which hosts outdoor concerts and features dozens of sports fields and a climbing wall.

Redmond also has excellent schools and a pleasant, walkable downtown core with many shops and restaurants.

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Des Moines, WA. Des Moines, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 14.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,425 (down 1.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,767 (down 1.8 percent since last year)

Des Moines is a quiet, affordable waterfront city located midway between Seattle and Tacoma along the Interstate 5 corridor. The municipality stretches along the water, with many options for stunning views of Puget Sound.

The small downtown includes some great restaurants and waterfront walks, with plenty of nearby trails and parks that offer hiking, biking and even camping.

Des Moines is on a rapid transit line that makes it easy to access nearby SeaTac and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or commute south to Federal Way or Tacoma.

The city will appeal to families and young professionals seeking an affordable option without sacrificing livability.

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Issaquah, WA. Issaquah, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 17.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,013 (down 13.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,389 (down 14.7 percent since last year)

The city of Issaquah spreads from the Sammamish Highlands down across the valley and into the hills known as the Issaquah Alps. Homes on these hills have beautiful views of the valley, while those in the lowlands are close to the quaint downtown core, which offers restaurants, cafes and many shopping options.

A dispersed, suburban city with an excellent school system, Issaquah has long been a popular choice for families. Recent development has also added housing choices for young, single professionals seeking an option outside the city.

There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area, including hiking and mountain biking trails at the popular Tiger Mountain. Close enough to the wilderness for the occasional cougar sighting, Issaquah is also near enough to Seattle for an easy commute along Interstate 90.

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Sammamish, WA. Sammamish, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 21 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,665 (up 1.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,945 (down 2.5 percent since last year)

The Sammamish Plateau is known for world-class golf courses, but that’s not all it has to offer. This city to the east of Seattle frequently appears on best-of lists for livability, yet it is still more affordable than many similar cities nearby.

Some areas of Sammamish have an almost rural feel, while others are much denser. It’s possible to find a home that feels tucked in among the woods or an urban apartment, all in the same city.

In addition to golf, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the bike path around nearby Lake Sammamish and the proximity to wooded trails in the mountains.

Families will appreciate the above-average schools and quiet, safe streets.

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Snoqualmie, WA. Snoqualmie, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 28.5 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,699

If you’ve chosen to live in the Pacific Northwest for the outdoor adventure opportunities, Snoqualmie has a lot to offer. Just under 30 miles east of Seattle along I-90, Snoqualmie is perhaps best known for the iconic Snoqualmie Falls, which are not only a scenic tourist attraction but also power generators that provide electricity to the town.

Natural beauty surrounds Snoqualmie, with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the surrounding Cascade foothills in all seasons.

While it has become increasingly popular as a bedroom community for Seattle, Snoqualmie retains its own identity and small-town feel. It has a vibrant arts community, restaurants and shopping options.

In 2019, it was rated the safest city in Washington.

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Everett, WA. Everett, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 28.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,570 (down 6.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,758 (up 3.6 percent since last year)

For those looking for an urban feel at an affordable price, Everett offers a great alternative to Seattle.

With an economy historically based on manufacturing for companies such as Boeing, Everett retains a blue-collar sensibility that does not prevent it from offering a vibrant art and culture scene, as well as many interesting restaurants and bars.

Sports fans can cheer on the Everett Aquasox, the local minor league baseball team, and for hockey enthusiasts, there is the Everett Silvertips. The Angel of the Winds Arena is one of the major sports and concert venues in the region, offering plenty of entertainment options.

With Puget Sound to the west and the Snohomish River to the East, Everett, like many nearby cities, has a deep, natural beauty that adds to the appeal.

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North Bend, WA. North Bend, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 29.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,014 (up 12.9 percent since last year)

North Bend is the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Its location amid the Cascade mountains’ foothills puts you close to hiking trails, mountain biking and winter skiing opportunities.

Popular local hikes, such as Mount Si and Rattlesnake Ridge, are just minutes away. Even for those who are less inclined to search for adventure, picturesque peaks provide a gorgeous backdrop for everyday life.

Famous as the filming location of the TV show Twin Peaks, North Bend has a genuine small-town feel, with a quaint downtown featuring cafes, restaurants, boutiques and breweries.

North Bend has grown rapidly in recent years, with many of its 7,423 residents choosing it for its rural location. Despite the remote vibe, it is just over 30 minutes from Seattle along I-90, making it a popular choice for commuters.

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Tacoma, WA. Tacoma, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 33.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,734 (up 11.2 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,978 (up 13.1 percent since last year)

Tacoma is a city with a lot to offer at an affordable price.

The historic downtown faces Puget Sound, with gorgeous waterfront views. You’ll find great restaurants and shopping options. The downtown area is compact and walkable, but you can also get around easily by bus and rapid transit.

In the downtown core, you’ll encounter young professionals and students from the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

Up the hill, you’ll find residential neighborhoods, each with its own unique feel. Families enjoy good schools and quiet neighborhood streets.

Anyone who has driven through the city will have seen the Tacoma Dome, an event space that hosts events from car shows to concerts. Those in search of culture will also enjoy the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass.

On the waterfront, Point Defiance Park is a popular destination for hiking, boating or picnicking with a view.

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Lake Stevens, WA. Lake Stevens, WA.

Photo source: City of Lake Stevens, WA / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 36.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,500 (up 22.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

Located on the lake for which it’s named, Lake Stevens is a growing community that is particularly popular among families with children.

With more affordable prices than many surrounding cities due to its slightly longer drive time to Seattle, Lake Stevens has a small-town feel with an emphasis on community. The city is a good option for those looking for a calm, quiet location well outside of Seattle.

Lake Stevens is a popular boating destination in the summer, and the town and its surroundings are full of natural beauty.

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Make one of these cities near Seattle your next home

Find a home that’s right for you in one of these Pacific Northwest cities. Your next apartment near Seattle awaits.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory pulled in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

The 7 Most Common Questions About IRAs

An individual retirement account (IRA) can be an important part of retirement investing. But before investors save money in this type of plan, it makes sense to know the basics about who it’s for, how it can help, and which type of IRA is right for you.

This article will cover the seven most common questions people have about IRAs to help you decide whether it’s a good retirement investment vehicle for you.

1. How is an IRA different from a 401(k)?

Both IRAs and 401(k)s are tax-advantaged ways to grow money for retirement, but whereas a 401(k) is an employer-sponsored plan that is offered through a person’s job, an IRA is an account you can open on your own.

Benefits of 401(k)

On the one hand, a 401(k) can be beneficial to people who want to “set it and forget it”—and have money deducted automatically from their paycheck into their retirement account, without worrying about making payments.

Additionally, the maximum allowed yearly contributions to a 401(k) are larger than that of an IRA. For 2021, employees can contribute up to $19,500 to their 401(k), with an additional $6,500 in catch-up contributions if they’re over age 50. Employers can also contribute “matching” funds to your account, for a total of $58,000 (or $64,500 including catch-up contributions) per year.

Benefits of an IRA

For people who may have money that’s currently sitting in a checking, savings, or investment account, an IRA might be a good place for it to grow and help prepare you for your future.

An IRA can also be good for people who are not offered a 401(k) plan through their employer. IRA contribution limits are less—$6,000 per year as of 2021, with an additional $1000 in catch-up contributions for people over age 50.

The bottom line, however, is that you don’t need to choose between these two different retirement plans. If you have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k), it’s often a good idea to contribute as much as possible, then supplement with an IRA if desired.

Recommended: How to save for retirement if you don’t have an employer-sponsored 401(k)

2. Traditional vs. Roth: How do they work?

The two most common types of IRAs are traditional and Roth. (There are other kinds, like SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, but those are geared toward people who are self-employed or running small businesses. If that applies to you, read more about SEP IRAs.)

The biggest difference in a traditional vs. Roth IRA is when your money is taxed. With a traditional IRA, you get a tax deduction when you contribute money—so the money going into your account is tax free, and when you withdraw it in retirement, it will be taxed.

With a Roth IRA, you don’t get a tax deduction when you contribute but your money grows tax-free—meaning that when you withdraw it in retirement, you won’t pay taxes on the withdrawals. While that may be appealing to some people, it’s worth noting that Roth IRAs have restrictions around income when it comes to opening an account. In 2021 individuals must make below $125,000 (people earning more than $125,000 but less than $140,000 can contribute a reduced amount); for married people who file taxes jointly, the limit is $198,000 (or up to $208,000 to contribute a reduced amount).

Recommended: Rolling over your 401(k) is a pain—here’s why it’s still worth doing

3. Which IRA type is best for me?

While everyone’s situation is different, and only you can determine which kind of IRA is best for you, there are a few things to consider. If you have money sitting in a 401(k) from an old job, you might choose to roll that money over into an IRA (some employers will also let you roll over an old 401(k) into your current plan). Even if your employer previously paid the 401(k) fees, many stop doing that and pass them on to you when you leave. Plus, companies can merge or go out of business, and if that happens it may be more difficult to roll over your money.

Since the contribution limits are the same for both a traditional and Roth IRA, neither offers an advantage in that regard. So if you do qualify for both, one way to figure out whether a traditional or a Roth IRA is best for you is to think about your current tax bracket and what tax bracket you’re likely to be in when you retire.

If you don’t expect to earn any passive income in retirement (for example, from investments or rental income) and will thus be in a low tax bracket, you may want to take the tax deduction today and open a traditional IRA. If, on the other hand, you’re currently in a low tax bracket and expect to make more during retirement, you might opt for a Roth IRA.

Recommended: Traditional IRA or Roth IRA: Which one works for you?

4. How much should I put into an IRA?

Your goal generally should be to try to hit that maximum of $6,000 per year—or as close to that as your budget will allow. The important part is to make contributing a habit, and let the power of compound interest take over.

5. When should I make IRA contributions?

One simple way to fund your IRA is to set up an automatic contribution once a month that takes money from your checking or savings account and puts it directly into your IRA. Then, you never have to worry about forgetting to contribute, and you won’t miss (or spend) money that you never see. Use our IRA calculator to help determine which contributions you can make.

You don’t have to contribute monthly—the frequency is totally up to you, and many people contribute once annually, after they receive a year-end bonus, for example, or before the annual deadline of when taxes are due in April of the following year. (For tax year 2020, however, the deadline for contributions and filing has been extended to May 17, 2021.)

But consider this: the sooner you put money into the IRA, the more time it has in the market. Of course, investing isn’t without risk, but more time in the market means more time to (hopefully) grow.

6. Does everyone benefit from an IRA?

There are some potential drawbacks of an IRA for high earners. Here’s what to consider for each type of plan.

Traditional IRAs

Anyone earning an income can open a traditional IRA and contribute to it, but in some cases, traditional IRA contributions may not be considered tax-deductible. For instance, if you’re single and you’re covered by a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), your traditional IRA tax deduction starts to become reduced when your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)—your gross income minus what you put into your 401(k) and medical premiums—is $66,000 for 2021.

For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse who makes the traditional IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the deduction starts to go away when that person’s MAGI is $105,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction starts to phase out if the couple’s MAGI is $198,000.

Roth IRAs

As mentioned above, you can open a Roth IRA and contribute the maximum to it only if your income is below a certain level. For individuals who make more than $140,000 and married people who file taxes jointly and make more than $208,000, the Roth IRA is not an option.

If you fall into one of these categories, what should you do? If you or your spouse has a 401(k), one option is to start by maxing out that contribution each year.

7. How do I open an IRA?

An IRA can be an important part of an individual’s retirement investment strategy. Between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, it’s likely that you will find a plan that works with your timeline and goals.

Like so much else these days, opening an IRA can be done online. Though all the IRA rules are complicated, the process of opening one up with SoFi Invest® takes just a few minutes.

Find out how to get started with your retirement planning, with SoFi Invest.


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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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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.


WM18107

Source: sofi.com

How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
To keep clients living at home longer — even once they need some assistance — all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer some kind of program through Medicaid that lets clients choose a family caregiver who is paid with Medicaid funds. In many states they can choose a friend or family member, often an adult child or spouse, to be their designated caregiver.
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The American Council on Aging strongly recommends finding a Medicaid planner to help with applying for caregiver roles and other benefits.
Medicaid wants its elderly clients to be safe, but prefers they be safe in a financially efficient way. With that in mind, it benefits the government agency to keep aging clients living in their home instead of a long-term care facility.

How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member

State-specific eligibility can be found here. If a senior is already enrolled in Medicaid, the next step is contacting their state’s Medicaid office.
“The vast majority of older adults want to stay in their homes as they age, and allowing them to pay a friend or family member to help with their daily needs can make that possible,” said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president of AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “The pandemic provided a push for states to expand this option, and we hope many of them will make their policy changes permanent.

  • Home and Community Based Services Waivers are offered by the majority of states. But many have a limited number of these waivers, so there may be a waiting list. This waiver allows the Medicaid participant to hire a friend or relative as a personal care assistant. This is also referred to as the 1915 C waiver.
  • The Self-Directed Personal Assistance Services State Plan Option allows a Medicaid participant to hire, train and pay the personal care assistant they choose. Based on the budget Medicaid offers, the participant decides what the assistant is paid. One unique part of this option is the participant pays employment taxes on the assistant. An intermediary helps with this financial aspect of the process.
  • Community First Choice, also called the 1915 state plan option, actually applies to Medicaid recipients who are in nursing homes but need personal care services. Instead of paying extra for a staff member at the facility to provide that care, this option allows friends or family to help with bathing, grooming, light housekeeping and transportation. According to the American Council on Aging, the following nine states offer this option: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
  • With the Caretaker Child Exception, Medicaid doesn’t pay the adult child a wage to care for their parent but allows the parent’s house to be transferred to the adult child as a form of payment. This comes into play when an elderly Medicaid participant is moving into a nursing home but wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid because they own their home.

Learn More About Medicaid 

Katherine Snow Smith is a staff writer for The Penny Hoarder.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
“Paying family caregivers is a solution that saves states money and meets the growing need for long-term care.”
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Medicaid eligibility in general, not just for these programs and waivers, is not consistent across the country. A general rule of thumb as of 2021 is senior applicants can’t have more than ,382 in income and ,000 in assets.

The Best Places to Live in Illinois in 2021

There is more to Illinois than Chicago, although the largest city in the state is home to almost three million people.

When thinking about some of the best places to live in Illinois, you probably immediately consider Chicago and its densely populated suburbs. While these are all great places to live, there are hidden gems all throughout Illinois that you should consider.

So, whether you’re seeking an affordable apartment in Chicago or a quiet tree-lined city downstate, you have a number of great options from which to choose.

Here are the best places to live in Illinois.

Aurora, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 199,687
  • Average age: 37
  • Median household income: $71,749
  • Average commute time: 35.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 45
  • Studio average rent: $1,142
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,344
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,590

The second-largest city in Illinois with almost 200,000 residents, Aurora offers a mix of options that appeal to everyone from young and single professionals to families.

During the first Friday of each month, food trucks serve up dishes along Benton Street Bridge. In addition, the revitalized downtown district has a great range of restaurants, from steakhouses to coffeehouses, and the area also has destination shopping outposts.

Plus, Aurora is nestled along Fox River, so nature-lovers will appreciate the opportunity to kayak and explore other activities nearby.

Bloomington, IL.

  • Population: 78,023
  • Average age: 39.8
  • Median household income: $67,507
  • Average commute time: 20.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $827
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $865

Bloomington often shares the limelight with its neighboring city, Normal, since it’s the home of Illinois State University.

While Bloomington lies in the heart of Illinois, at the junction of Interstates 55, 39 and 74, and within a few hours from Chicago and St. Louis, there is plenty to do in Bloomington.

Residents enjoy great restaurants, shopping and visiting attractions such as the historic Ewing Manor, named Sunset Hill by the Ewing family, or the David Davis Mansion which delights history buffs and garden lovers alike.

Bloomington is also the headquarters for State Farm Insurance and COUNTRY Financial.

Champaign, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

Photo source: Visit Champaign County / Facebook
  • Population: 85,008
  • Average age: 36.5
  • Median household income: $48,415
  • Average commute time: 19.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 61
  • Studio average rent: $435
  • One-bedroom average rent: $629
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $947

Like Bloomington, Champaign is often associated with its neighboring city, Urbana, since the cities share the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus.

Champaign has a thriving arts scene, award-winning restaurants and great outdoor spaces. It’s a mix of rural and urban, giving residents options, whether they want a more quiet rural setting or a bustling urban environment.

Chicago, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 2,721,615
  • Average age: 40.2
  • Median household income: $58,247
  • Average commute time: 43.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,796
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,287
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,150

There is no shortage of things to do in the largest city in Illinois. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and like any major metropolitan city in the country, it’s home to award-winning restaurants, world-class museums and Cloud Gate, the bean-like sculpture in Millennium Park also known as “The Bean” among locals.

In addition, the lakefront and the many parks throughout the city offer its residents a place to rest and enjoy their surroundings.

Rental rates vary based on the neighborhood but, in general, the closer to the downtown district and Lake Michigan, the higher the rental rates. Also, depending on where you live, it’s entirely possible to live in Chicago without needing a car since public transportation is pretty robust and accessible.

Evanston, IL.

Photo source: City of Evanston Illinois / Facebook
  • Population: 75,574
  • Average age: 41.4
  • Median household income: $78,904
  • Average commute time: 39.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 82
  • Studio average rent: $1,720
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,141
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,974

Evanston borders the northern part of Chicago and while it’s a northern suburb, parts of it feel very much like a busy metropolitan city.

Northwestern University calls Evanston home so part of the north and east part of Evanston is home to students as well as established families who live in older and grand single-family homes.

Residents love their tree-lined and quiet streets and easy access to the beaches along Lake Michigan.

The city is large enough to have a few distinct shopping districts, including downtown Evanston, which has been completely transformed over the past decade with a large movie theater and larger retail establishments, while Central Street has more independent boutiques.

Naperville, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 144,752
  • Average age: 41.3
  • Median household income: $125,926
  • Average commute time: 41.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: $1,286
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,483
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,828

The original home of the fictional Byrde family before they moved to the Ozarks, Naperville is a picturesque western suburb of Chicago.

The Naperville Riverwalk curves along the banks of the DuPage River and features independent boutiques, restaurants, bars and hotels with river views.

The DuPage Children’s Museum has fun hands-on exhibits that attract both residents and visitors to the area. In addition, the Naper Settlement is a family-friendly, 13-acre outdoor history museum that traces the history of Naperville.

Oak Park, IL.

  • Population: 52,227
  • Average age: 42.1
  • Median household income: $94,646
  • Average commute time: 43.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,427
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,651
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,707

Oak Park is a tree-lined suburb just west of Chicago.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green Line includes several Oak Park stops, making it particularly convenient for those who want to live in a suburb but still have easy access to Chicago.

Even so, Oak Park is a bustling city with an active downtown full of restaurants and independent boutiques, strong schools and active community members. It’s also home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, which attracts thousands from around the world to see the architect’s prairie-style home.

Peoria, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 114,615
  • Average age: 40.8
  • Median household income: $51,771
  • Average commute time: 22 minutes
  • Walk score: 44
  • Studio average rent: $678
  • One-bedroom average rent: $771
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $954

Peoria is a laid-back city and most residents work for one of the major employers: Caterpillar (which still employees thousands despite its corporate move to Chicago), OSF Healthcare Saint Francis Medical Center or the school district.

Nestled along the Illinois River, it’s located between St. Louis and Chicago, which is approximately a two-and-a-half-hour drive. There is a mix of things to do in the city, from hiking outdoors to enjoying a cocktail at one of the many restaurants, bars or casinos.

In mid-2014, Peoria began offering bus route service on Sundays, something it hadn’t been offering since 1970, making it easier to get around town for those without a car.

Rockford, IL.

  • Population: 148,485
  • Average age: 41.9
  • Median household income: $44,252
  • Average commute time: 25.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $714
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,070

There is no shortage of outdoor entertainment options for those living of visiting Rockford. There are pools to swim, a river to kayak and nature preserves to hike.

The Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden as well as the Anderson Japanese Garden attract thousands of garden lovers.

Residents can choose between downtown lofts to quieter tree-lined streets in historic neighborhoods. Each Rockford community is active in its own way, with great restaurants, museums and shops located throughout the fifth-largest city in the state.

Springfield, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 115,968
  • Average age: 43.2
  • Median household income: $54,648
  • Average commute time: 22.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $665
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $749

Home to the Illinois State Capitol, Springfield is a mix of those who serve the legislative and executive branches of the government during sessions as well as residents who live in the city full-time.

It’s also home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum which honors and documents the life and work of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln so the area gets a lot of tourists year-round.

Springfield feels a bit like living in a suburban setting but also has plenty of bars, restaurants and parks to keep locals and visitors entertained.

Choose among the best cities in Illinois

With world-class attractions, sprawling rural towns to fast-paced urban cities, Illinois has something for everyone. If you’re thinking about moving to the Land of Lincoln, we hope this list of the best places to live in Illinois helpful.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

What Does it Mean to Rent to Own?

Some things you don’t want to rent to own. Bowling shoes, for instance. But a home? Yes indeed, that’s a great option for many people.

A rent-to-own agreement is a solid option for people who long to live in an honest-to-goodness home, but who can’t get a mortgage or don’t have a lot of down payment money. Any legal agreement requires intense scrutiny and understanding, so read up on the basics of rent to own before going any further. It’s for your own good, promise.

What does rent to own mean?

The phrase “rent to own” is fairly straightforward.

Renters pay a set amount per month in rent. On top of that, the renter also pays a preset amount. These extra funds go into an escrow account for future use as a down payment on this particular home. This is also known as a rent credit or rent premium and is usually 20 percent above-market rent.

So, a person could pay $1,000 per month in rent, plus $250 per month for the eventual down payment. Think of it as forced saving, if you will. It’s also standard for the renter to put down 3 to 5 percent of the home’s value as a nonrefundable deposit before taking residence.

Rent-to-own agreements can vary in length but are usually one to three years.

A rent-to-town lease agreement A rent-to-town lease agreement

Types of rent to own agreements

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that legal mumbo jumbo sounds the same, so it means the same. In fact, that’s a pretty financially perilous error. There are a number of different ways to structure a rent-to-own agreement. These are the two most common.

Option to buy agreement

This type of agreement lets the tenant choose whether or not to buy the home at the end of the agreed-upon period. The risk here is that if the renter chooses not to purchase the home they forfeit any accrued rent premiums, not to mention the option fee. Ouch. This is also known as a lease-option agreement. In order to proceed at the end of the agreement, the renter must obtain a mortgage. The owner cannot sell the home out from under the renter during the agreement. The renter can also opt not to buy the home at the end of the agreement. The purchase price is usually frozen at the beginning.

Obligation-to-buy agreement

Also known as a lease-purchase agreement, there’s no wiggle room here. This type of contract means that you will buy the home once the lease expires. Hence, the word “obligation.” If you don’t buy the house, you’ll lose any premiums paid during the process. There might also be legal ramifications. Clearly, this is a much riskier option.

How to rent to own

So you want to rent to own. How do you go about it? Here are some solid options.

Find a real estate agent

It might be tempting to do the legwork yourself, but a great agent can save you tons of time and money. First, they have access to search resources and property networks that you don’t. Second, they work with sellers all the time and can spot crooks from a mile away. They are also adept at helping to negotiate a contract that’s reasonable to both the tenant and the seller.

Find a rent-to-own program

Companies have emerged in recent years that will actually buy the home you’re interested in, and agree to lease it to you for a period of time. After which you can choose whether or not to purchase. Renter and seller choose a purchase price at the beginning, which is a big boon for the renter if the market trends upward.

One of the most well-known such companies is Home Partners of America, which doesn’t even require the renter to build equity during the process. This is ideal in areas where rentals are scarce, such as good school districts.

Approach the landlord directly

Perhaps you’re already renting a home that you love. Ask the landlord if he’s interested in selling in the future. Who knows? He might be about ready to cash out. Or, keep an eye on the real estate listings. If a home hasn’t sold after a long time with no movement the owner could entertain other options.

A backyard of a blue house. A backyard of a blue house.

Things to remember before you rent-to-own

Whether you use an agent or not, denote in the contract if the landlord or the tenant (you) is responsible for home maintenance, repairs, landscaping, homeowners association dues, property taxes and so on. Failure to do so could cause some nasty and expensive surprises.

Also, complete a thorough home inspection before you sign the contract. No one wants to rent to own a home with a major foundation or other pricey problem. While you’re at it, check out the seller’s disclosure to find out about any hidden past problems.

Lastly, make sure to discuss your situation with a future lender. You’ll need to be able to afford the home in one to three years. Are you on the right path? If not, what needs to change?

Pros and cons of rent-to-own

  • Pro: A rent-to-own agreement with a rent credit forces the renter to put away money. Saving for the future is a good thing!
  • Pro: Rent to owns are a good way to break into a desirable area.
  • Pro: The purchase price is typically set at the beginning of the agreement, so this could be great if the market explodes.
  • Pro: A contract leaves little doubt as to who’s on the hook for what.
  • Con: If a renter chooses not to purchase the home they forfeit rent credit money (and any deposit).
  • Con: Many rent-to-own homes are not located in such desirable areas, so it might take extra legwork and patience to find one.
  • Con: The market could also tank, leaving you to weigh whether to pay more than the current value of the home or not.
  • Con: Be sure to follow your contract to a “t,” so that you don’t wind up losing a deposit or get fined.

There’s no place like a rent-to-own home

The path to homeownership has changed tremendously just in the last decade or two. As long as you consult with trusted experts and weigh your individual situation carefully, selecting a rent-to-own home is a great route to take.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

When you order Nachos BellGrande…

A man conducts an interview with a person outside of Taco Bell during one of their hiring parties.


Taco Bell will hire 5,000 people at 2,000 stores across the country. The fast food chain will be taking COVID-19 precautions by conducting interviews in parking lots. Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

When you order Nachos BellGrande at the Taco Bell drive-thru on Wednesday, April 21, you can request a job as well. The fast food empire is hiring 5,000 people at “hiring parties” in parking lots at 2,000 stores throughout the country.

The chain is growing toward its goal of operating 10,000 stores across the globe by the end of the decade, according to a hiring announcement. Taco Bell currently has 7,000 company-owned and franchise locations in the United States and 600 in other countries.

The jobs available vary based on location but include all levels, from “bellhops” who take orders on tablets at drive-thrus, to general managers. Click here to see what positions are open in your area. Interested candidates can fill out an application on that same site in advance or do it in person at a store on Wednesday

Not every Taco Bell is having a hiring party so job seekers should go to TacoBell.com/locations to get phone numbers of stores near them and call to see if they are participating in the event.

Taco Bell will interview candidates outside in order to follow COVID-19 precautions. In some locations applicants won’t even have to get out of their cars. Everyone must wear a mask and stay six feet apart. You can bring a resume and references, but that is not necessary, according to Meagan Ashner, a spokeswoman for Taco Bell.

“While we are hopeful for strong, qualified talent among all applicants, attending a hiring party does not guarantee a job,” she added.

According to Indeed.com, Taco Bell’s wages start at $10.26 an hour for kitchen team members. A shift manager can make $23,494 a year and an assistant manager can make $43,969.

The restaurant gives employees a free meal during a shift, according to Indeed.

Benefits for general managers of company-owned stores have recently been expanded to include up to four weeks of accrued vacation a year and four weeks of “baby bonding” time for new parents and guardians. The company also offers eight weeks of fully-paid short term disability after the birth of a child.

Taco Bell fared well during the pandemic, adjusting quickly to the shutdown of indoor dining. The drive-thru was already a key part of its business, and the chain made it easier for customers to order and pick up food.

The rollout of new “Go Mobile” stores this year is fueling part of the need for more employees. These smaller restaurants cater only to digital orders and drive-thru pickups.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com