Archives April 2021

10 Cities Near Boston To Live in 2021

The enchanting city of Boston is a beacon of history and culture. From the Freedom Trail to the thriving Financial District, the many charms of this city attract hopeful renters from across the globe. But one look at the average rent prices in Boston may leave you searching for less expensive relocation options.

Whether you are cost-conscious or prefer to live away from the big city vibe, rest assured that there are plenty of cities near Boston where you can still enjoy the best of this world-renowned region.

Here are 10 wonderful cities near Boston with access to the metropolis and unique charms of their own.

Newton, MA. Newton, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 9.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,641 (down 9.6 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,453 (down 11.8 percent since last year)

Newton is a quintessential New England town with 13 unique neighborhoods, charmingly called Newton’s “13 villages.” The communities offer something for every taste — from Chestnut Hill with its farmlands and chestnut trees to the prosperous business district of West Newton.

West Newton claims a convenient stop on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Commuter Rail, allowing Newton residents to bypass some truly awful Boston traffic and arrive in Back Bay in under 20 minutes.

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Concord, MA, one of the cities near bostonConcord, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 20 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,856 (up 5.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,725 (down 0.3 percent since last year)

The city of Concord is a fascinating mix of early-American history and modern natural wonders. The Concord Museum captures the uniqueness of the town since its incorporation in 1635, including Concord’s essential role in the American Revolutionary War. Historic houses in Concord display a charming style of architecture unique to New England.

The Walden Pond State Reservation offers locals and tourists a great place to hit the trails and go for a swim at lake beaches.

Outdoor adventures in Concord pair well with an inspiring visit to Thoreau House, the site of the transcendentalist poet’s home, and the legendary Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

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Natick, MA. Natick, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 21 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,118 (down 5.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,606 (down 5.7 percent since last year)

Natick is known for its Natick Town Center, a charming downtown with historic brick buildings and a cozy atmosphere. Residents enjoy many benefits, including access to a Community Center, the Sassamon Trace Golf Course and Memorial Beach.

On the opposite side of the town exists an entirely different scene with the massive Natick Mall. This shopping center draws in both business and excitement as the largest mall in Massachusetts.

Residents have the best of both worlds, with lovely farmlands in the eastern parts of Natick and the liveliness of the commercial area to the northwest.

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Salem, MA, one of the cities near bostonSalem, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 22.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,444 (up 0.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,049 (up 9.5 percent since last year)

Best known for being the home of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem is rich in history.

The downtown and harbor areas comprise a wide web of streets offering countless shops, restaurants and museums. For a change of theme, visitors can explore worldwide art and culture on display at the Peabody Essex Museum and the historic House of the Seven Gables.

While the height of Salem’s excitement peaks in the month-long celebrations in October, locals enjoy year-round nightlife and a vibrant party scene.

A change of pace is easy to find with the numerous seaside beaches and the expansive nature preservatory at Salem Woods.

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Framingham, MA. Framingham, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 22.7 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,876 (down 7.7 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,357 (down 15.2 percent since last year)

Framingham is a commercial hub that acts as a midway point between Boston in the east and mini-metropolis Worcester farther to the west. In addition to its strategic location, Framingham residents enjoy in-town attractions such as the Garden in the Woods and Jack’s Abbey brewery.

Framingham has several residential neighborhoods and is a popular town for city commuters as the MBTA Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail offers a comfortable ride to both Boston and Worcester.

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Boxborough, MA, one of the cities near bostonBoxborough, MA, one of the cities near boston

Photo source: Boxborough, MA / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Boston: 29 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,806 (down 17.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,868 (down 21.6 percent since last year)

The cozy town of Boxborough is ideal for those wishing to partake in the joys of countryside life while keeping the conveniences of the big city within distance.

Locals here enjoy charming estates, lush greenery and a close-knit community. For schooling and other purposes, this town is often combined with nearby Acton as the Acton-Boxborough area.

Nature lovers enjoy the numerous Boxborough farms selling locally-grown produce. A breath of the wild is always at hand for residents who have access to in-town parks such as Flerra Meadows and the nearby Wachusett Mountain with its hiking trails and ski slopes.

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foxboro mafoxboro ma

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 30.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,144 (up 0.9 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,067 (down 5.3 percent since last year)

Written officially as “Foxborough,” locals refer to this town as “Foxboro” and the “Home of the New England Patriots.” The stunning Gillette Stadium here is the base of Massachusetts’ most beloved football team. During a game, locals across Massachusetts know to give Foxboro a wide berth as the traffic is as legendary as the team playing.

Luckily, Foxboro locals don’t have to leave town to have a great time. The expansive Patriot Place shopping plaza surrounding the stadium offers thrills such as an escape room and a themed cafe.

Fans of nature aren’t left out here — the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog, as well as the numerous bucolic farms and scenic landscape nearby, offer much to explore.

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Bridgewater, MA, one of the cities near bostonBridgewater, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 32.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,878 (up 1.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,211 (up 1.5 percent since last year)

A college town with a youthful vibe and lively downtown, Bridgewater is home to Bridgewater State University and boasts the high energy and hip scene of an international campus.

Bridgewater and neighboring towns East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater are great midway points between Boston and Cape Cod.

Residents can take the MBTA Commuter Rail from Bridgewater Station to reach the big city in under an hour or enjoy a scenic drive over the Bourne Bridge to bask on the Cape beaches.

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Gloucester, MA. Gloucester, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 36.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,760 (0.0 percent change since last year)

Located on Cape Ann, Gloucester is a dream come true for those who want to live by the sea. This peninsula paradise has beaches on two sides and is right next to the famous town of Rockport. Locals enjoy fresh seafood and an artsy scene — many creative souls appreciate the breathtaking scenery these towns have to offer.

Keep in mind that summer is the high season for coastal towns like Gloucester, and many of the beachy parts of Cape Ann cater to tourists and elderly snowbirds. While Gloucester is not as touristy as Rockport, year-round residents here should expect the liveliness of summer and a much quieter reprieve in winter.

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Plymouth, MA, one of the cities near bostonPlymouth, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 39.8 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,151 (up 2.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,700 (up 4.5 percent since last year)

Often referred to as “America’s hometown,” Plymouth, founded by the Pilgrims in 1620, offers rich history alongside spectacular views of the ocean. The Mayflower II is on display in the downtown memorial park, not far from the monument protecting Plymouth Rock.

Enthusiasts of early American history will enjoy exploring the world-renowned Plimouth Plantation, where Plymouth residents enjoy a steep discount.

Locals and tourists alike love strolling downtown Plymouth with its waterfront shops and a picturesque harbor. Outside of the main commercial areas, scenic cranberry bogs and numerous nature parks dot the landscape.

Business picks up around Thanksgiving time, but unlike many other coastal parts of Massachusetts that host seasonal residents, Plymouth enjoys a steady population year-round.

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Make one of these cities near Boston your home city

Between a prosperous city life and oceanside charms, it is no wonder that Boston and its surrounding area have some of the most sought-after real estate in the country. Whether you want to bask in the rich history of the region or live an idyllic life by the sea, you can find your ideal place in one of these great cities near Boston.

Properties are in high demand, and space is exclusive, so start looking for your new home today.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments 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.




Real Estate Q&A: Condo Parking Space Ownership

Real estate investor and Zillow Blog contributor Leonard Baron answers questions from readers regarding buying, selling and investing.

Hi Leonard — I have a situation with my condominium association. I’ve owned the condo for more than 10 years. Today the condominium association manager showed me a map in the bylaws about parking spaces, which shows I own different spaces than the ones I’ve been using for 10 years. Is there a common law protecting me since I have used these spaces since I bought the property? The prior owner of my condominium unit also used these exact spaces for about 10 years. Any guidance is appreciated! Ruiming L., CT

Hi Ruiming — Sorry to hear about this issue. I’ve seen similar situations before. This might not be an easy one to resolve — and things might not go your way.

Let me first describe what every buyer of a unit in a common interest development should do before they purchase it to protect themselves when parking spaces come along with their property.

Deeded parking spaces

Many common interest developments’ homeowners associations (HOAs) have a “condominium map” that shows what parking spaces are deeded to each unit. You should also be able to look at the title documents recorded on the property to verify what spaces go with your property. Your title insurance agent should be able to help you sort out these issues, and review the condominium map and recorded documents so you are more comfortable with your purchase.

If those title documents confirm spaces are deeded to your unit, you should also try to get a title insurance policy that includes those spaces. Title insurance may not be available, and you will pay extra, but it’s probably worth the money.

HOA-controlled parking spaces

Sometimes the developer will just assign parking spaces to the units but the spaces are not deeded to any particular unit. There should be a contract of some sort that describes who gets what spaces. The governing documents — called Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) — may retain the rights for the HOA board to change what spaces each unit gets.

If this is the case, you need to ask the board in writing — before you purchase — how this process works and what rights you have to which spaces. You need to know what you are getting, and not just hope things will go well. You might want to get a lawyer involved to review your rights and give you an opinion in a case like this.

Worst case scenario

What if there is no condominium map, or no good written guidance on who gets what spaces? Or what if the original developer had terrible condominium governing documents, or there is a dispute over parking spaces with other owners? In any of these cases — all of which you need to know about before you buy the property — you need to decide if you want to purchase a property where you could lose your parking rights and/or get in a multi-year legal battle over spaces. (Hint: It’s not worth it!)

Now, back to your question. Unless you have something in writing that differs from the condominium map or the CC&Rs, you’re probably out of luck. You should try to work with the HOA first to amicably resolve the issue satisfactorily for all parties. You’ll probably need to hire a lawyer, and it is going to be expensive to get the best outcome for you.

One last thought: In some states, you might have a potential “adverse possession” claim to get ownership. However, in Connecticut, it’s 15 years to adversely possess real property, and the prior owner’s use probably doesn’t help your case.

This is a good lesson for anyone buying a condominium. These issues are rare, but they do occur. Buyers need to do the proper research and due diligence to protect themselves before they move forward with a purchase in a common interest development.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.


The Drop App Will Pay You $50 to Help End COVID-19

Do you want to help end the pandemic? Do you want to make extra money?

A rewards app called Drop wants to help you do both. It’ll pay you up to $50 when you get your shot and take your coveted #VaccineSelfie.

Here’s how you can cash in on your new antibodies:

  1. Snap a selfie (or have a friend take a picture) when you’re getting vaccinated. A pic with your “Just got my COVID-19 vaccine” sticker works, too.
  2. Post the shot of your shot on your Instagram timeline with the hashtag #DropCOVID, tag @joindrop and GeoTag your location.
  3. Drop will slide into your DMs with a unique code within 24 hours of posting.
  4. Enter your #DropCOVID code into your Drop app and see how much you’ve been paid!

The first 10,000 people to post their selfies will receive $50, and the next 10k will get $20. So the sooner you show off your arm, the more money you could make.

Get $50 — Then Keep Earning Cash From Drop

Drop is a free cash-back rewards app that gives you a kickback just for buying from your go-to brands through their platform.

When you download Drop and quickly create an account, it will show you the best discounts and rewards from your favorite brands and services, like Glossier and Uniqlo — including ones that don’t normally offer reward programs themselves (hello, Apple!). It’s really that simple.

It takes just seconds to find what you’re looking for. Then, when you purchase through the app, Drop will reward you with points you can exchange for gift cards. You can stack discounts on top of each other and be confident you’re getting the best deals on all your shopping.

Even better? If you sign up today with code TPH, you’ll earn an extra 10,000 points (that’s $10!) to use toward gift cards to your favorite stores once you’ve earned your first 1,000 points.

Drop has already paid out $26 million worth of rewards to its millions of users.

Click here to download the Drop app and get your 10,000-point bonus when you use code TPH and earn your first 1,000 points by shopping through the app. And don’t forget to post your #DropCOVID vaccine selfie to unlock additional rewards when you complete all the necessary steps for this promotion!


Barclays 70,000 Hawaiian Airlines Bonus – Annual Fee Not Waived First Year

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Receive 70,000 Hawaiian Airline miles after $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening on the Barclaycard Hawaiian Airlines credit card

Card Benefits & Details

  • Annual fee of $99
  • Card earns at the following rate:
    • 3x miles on all Hawaiian Airlines purchase
    • 2x Hawaiiamiles on gas, dining and grocery store purchases
    • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • ShareMiles, ability to share miles with friends & family
  • Discounted Award Travel
  • Get $100 companion discount off one coach companion ticket for roundtrip travel between Hawaii and North America on Hawaiian Airlines on each account anniversary upon payment of annual fee
  • Free first checked bag

Our Verdict

Previous deal was 60,000 miles but with the annual fee waived for the first year. 70,000 offer is better as long as you value points at 1¢ or more. Some redemption options:

  • You can get flights for 35,000 miles round trip with the card from mainland USA to Hawaii, but there isn’t a lot of space available.
  • Intra island flights are 7,500 miles one way
  • They also sell sunglasses (I forget the brand and amount, but seems to be a popular redemption)

Before applying read these things everybody should know about.

Hat tip to @uponarriving


Get Dividends Every Month

One way for income-hungry investors to keep cash flowing is to assemble a portfolio that shells out dividends every month. For 10 years, I’ve published such a portfolio in Kiplinger’s Investing for Income.

The idea is to assemble 12 stocks or funds with alternating distribution dates so that you never wait long for cash. This strategy can be a complement to a bond ladder, another time-tested tool for putting cash flow on autopilot.

Because share prices are soaring, the current yields on some former dividend favorites have dipped well below 2%. However, many other dividend aces still yield at or above 3%, headed by AT&T’s 6.9%.

So, with the full S&P 500 Index priced to yield just 1.4% (down from 2.4% a year ago), let me recast the Dividend-a-Month portfolio into a high-yield edition whose 12 elements average 3% or better on new money. Capital is spread over numerous sectors – a critical diversification advantage over an undisciplined chase for maximum yield. And you have growth opportunities.

Keep your cool. Do not get impatient over cyclical or short-term principal losses. A big dividend means these shares – oil stocks excepted – tend to trade in a tight price range.

Realty Income, the choice for November, is an exemplar. At $65 a share, it is close to its 52-week high. But every time Realty Income dips a few bucks, it bounces up.

The same holds for Verizon Communications. You can buy these sorts of securities on dips with confidence, presuming we do not suffer another bear market. Even in the spring of 2020, not every company or industry got scared or scarred enough to hack or eliminate dividends.

The timing for the portfolio is based on when you truly get paid, not the earlier date of record for shareholders to qualify for the next distribution. AT&T and Verizon are a dual entry. Both pay together in early February, May, August and November.

Pick one if you prefer, or hold some of each. But if I had scheduled them separately, the communications-services sector would account for too much of the whole portfolio. For more dividend stocks and other income ideas, see 35 Ways to Earn Up to 10% on Your Money; for payouts every month, read on.

Prices and yields are as of April 9.
  • Jan.: Physicians Realty Trust (DOC, $18, yield 5.0%)
  • Feb.: Valero Energy (VLO, $71, 5.5%)
  • March: American Electric Power (AEP, $86, 3.4%)
  • April: Coca-Cola (KO, $53, 3.2%)
  • May: AT&T/Verizon (T, $30, 6.9%; VZ, $57, 4.4%)
  • June: Pfizer (PFE, $37, 4.2%)
  • July: Cisco Systems (CSCO, $52, 2.9%)
  • Aug.: General Dynamics (GD, $183, 2.7%)
  • Sept.: Truist Financial (TFC, $60, 3.0%)
  • Oct.: Kimberly-Clark (KMB, $137, 3.3%)
  • Nov.: Realty Income (O, $65, 4.3%)
  • Dec.: Chevron (CVX, $103, 5.0%)

These are familiar names, and you may already own a few. They may not be cheap, though none scream over­valued. I advise you to buy on dips or make phased purchases. I am also not claiming there aren’t equally good alternatives. But I have followed each of these with confidence for years.

American Electric Power is not the only fine utility, but I have always appreciated its straightforward business model. Kimberly-Clark just declared a 5.5% dividend boost, and General Dynamics raised its payout by 8%; both are generous at this time.

Truist trades at a moderate price-to-book-value ratio compared with its peer banks, and the Federal Reserve has taken the shackles off bank dividends. Valero is a refiner and marketer, which balances oil producer Chevron. The two REITs cater to entirely different groups of tenants. You get the idea. Enjoy your dividends.


The Risks and Rewards of Naked Options

Naked options are a type of option strategy where the investor does not hold a position in the underlying asset. This options strategy can be a way to make money for nothing, or—as recent history has shown with the Gamestop frenzy of early 2021—a way to suffer incredible trading losses.

What is a Naked Option?

A naked, or “uncovered,” option is an option that is issued and sold without the seller setting aside any shares or cash to meet the obligation of the option when it reaches expiration.

When an investor buys an option, they’re buying the right to buy or sell a security at a specific price either on or before the option contract’s expiration. An option to buy is known as a “call” option, while an option to sell is known as a “put” option.

Investors who buy options pay a premium for the privilege. To collect those premiums, there are investors who write options. Some hold the stock or the cash equivalent of the stock they have to deliver at the option’s expiration. The ones who don’t are sometimes called naked writers, because their options have no cover.

Naked writers are willing to take that risk because the terms of the options factor in the expected volatility of the underlying security. This differs from options based on the price of the security at the time the option is written. As a result, the underlying security will have to not only move in the direction the holder anticipated, but do so past a certain point for the holder to make money on the option.

Recommended: A Guide to Options Trading

The Pros and Cons of Naked Options

There are risks and rewards associated with naked options. It’s important to understand both sides.

Naked Writers Often Profit

The terms of naked options have given them a track record in which the naked writer tends to come out on top, walking away with the entire premium. That’s made writing these options a popular strategy.

Those premiums vary widely, depending on the risks that the writer takes. The more likely the broader market believes the option will expire “in the money” (with the shares of the underlying stock higher than the strike price), the higher the premium the writer can demand.

But Sometimes the Options Holder Wins

When an option writer sells an option, they’re obligated to deliver the underlying securities (in the case of a call option) or cash (in the case of a put) to the option holder at expiration. But because a naked writer doesn’t hold the securities or cash, they need to buy it or find it if the option they wrote is in the money, meaning that the investor exercises the option for a profit.

In cases where the naked writer has to provide stock to the option holder at a fixed price, the strategy of writing naked call options can be disastrous. That’s because there’s no limit to how high a stock can go between when a call option is written and when it expires.

Naked Options in Recent Headlines

The high-profile trading drama surrounding the stock of video game retailer GameStop showcased some of the danger of naked options. As the stock soared to a peak of $483 per share in late January of 2021, there were naked call options in the hands of investors that entitled them to buy the stock for $87 per share.

While that sounds like great news for the options holders, it had the potential to be catastrophic for the naked writer—because they’d have to find the money to buy the stock to cover those options. And because they weren’t holding the stock during its runup, they would have to either go into their cash reserves or sell other investments to buy the stock they were required to deliver.

But during that period of wild trading in GameStop, naked writers were still at work. With the stock trading at nearly $200, naked options writers sold 33,000 put options betting the stock would close at under fifty cents in the near future. Those writers potentially stood to pocket the entire premium.

How to Use Naked Options

While there are some large institutions whose business focuses on writing options, some individual investors can also write options.

Because naked call writing comes with almost limitless risks, brokerage firms only allow high-net-worth investors with hefty account balances to do it. Some will also limit the practice to wealthy investors with a high degree of sophistication. To get a better sense of what a given brokerage allows in terms of writing options, these stipulations are usually detailed in the brokerage’s options agreement. The high risks of writing naked options are why many brokerages apply very high margin requirements for option-writing traders.

Generally, to sell a naked call option, for example, an investor would tell their broker to “sell to open” a call position. This means that the investor would write the naked call option. An investor would do this if they expected the stock to go down, or at least not go any higher than the volatility written into the option contract.

If the investor who writes a naked call is right, and the option stays “out of the money” (meaning the security’s price is below a call option’s strike price) then the investor will pocket a premium. But if they’re wrong, the losses can be profound.

This is why some investors, when they think a stock is likely to drop, are more likely to purchase a put option, and pay the premium. In that case, the worst-case scenario is that they lose the amount of the premium and no more.

How to Manage Naked Option Risk

Because writing naked options comes with potentially unlimited risk, most investors who employ the strategy will also use risk-control strategies. Perhaps the simplest way to hedge the risk of writing the option is to either buy the underlying security, or to buy an offsetting option. The other risk-mitigation strategies can involve derivative instruments and computer models, and may be too time consuming for most investors.

Another important way that options writers try to manage their risk is by being conservative in setting the strike prices of the options. Consider the sellers of fifty-cent GameStop put options when the stock was trading in the $190 range. By setting the strike prices so far from where the current market was trading, they limited their risk. That’s because the market would have to do something quite dramatic for those options to be in the money at expiration.

The Takeaway

With naked options, the investor does not hold a position in the underlying asset. Because this is a risky move, brokerage firms may allow their high-net-worth investors to write naked options.

Investors looking to take an active role in their investments might consider opening an account with SoFi Invest®. With SoFi Invest, members can trade stocks, ETFs, crypto, and may participate in upcoming IPOs.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

SoFi Invest®
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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
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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.
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.
IPOs: Investing early in IPO stock involves substantial risk of loss. The decision to invest should always be made as part of a comprehensive financial plan taking individual circumstances and risk appetites into account.
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 [email protected] 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.



Cheap Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20 Including Shipping

While some families feel safer reuniting for Mother’s Day this year with vaccination programs rolling out across the country, others are still keeping their distance as they wait for everyone to get shots.

Pandemic aside, some of us live across the country or state from dear old Mom and can’t treat her to brunch. Whatever’s keeping you and Mom apart this Mother’s Day, May 9, there are plenty of ways you can show her you love and miss her. Not only that, but you can do it all while going easy on your wallet.

To help, we’ve put together a list of 20 Mother’s Day gifts under $20 you can order online. And that $20 includes shipping — free for some items.

Mother’s Day Gifts That Will Help Her Get Outdoors

The outdoors is a safer place to hang out than inside thanks to the coronavirus.

Pickleball Glove for Mom

Pickleball is the hottest team sport these days. This is the perfect season to play socially-distanced and outdoors. If your mom is seriously into this sport, you can pick her up a brand-name pickleball glove on Amazon for between $18 and $20. If you have Prime membership, shipping is free, keeping you under budget.

Annual Flower Bulbs

Does Mom love gardening?

Give her a gift that keeps on giving with annual bulbs. Plant these flowers once, and they will bloom year after year. Bulbs that need a freeze to bloom (iris, daffodils, tulips) are typically put in the ground in the fall before it gets too hard for digging and they pop up and blossom in spring. The following bulbs can be planted in the spring to bloom in the summer.

Gladiolus Flower Bulbs

Gladiolus are beautiful and you can get a lot of them even on a budget. You can pick your color, ordering a bag in white or purple for  $13.95 on Walmart’s platform. Shipping is free.

Lily Flower Bulbs

You can get about three lily bulbs for under $20. Some options from Walmart sellers include:

These options run between $13.95 and $15.99 and come with free shipping.

Gift Certificate to a Local Garden Center

Maybe Mom doesn’t have space for a garden, but does love having flowers and plants around. In this case, consider getting her a gift certificate to her local garden center for $20.

There’s an added bonus to sending your card on Mother’s Day; when she goes shopping after the holiday, excess inventory will be marked down dramatically, giving her more bang for her buck.

A blue butterfly stands out amongst a group of red butterflies.
Getty Images

Butterfly Habitat

Butterfly habitats may be marketed towards children, but Mom can enjoy one, too! This kit from Target is $19.99, and comes with a habitat and voucher for live caterpillars — which ship separately. Your order should qualify for free shipping.

Mom will be able to watch the caterpillars as they build their chrysalises and grow into butterflies, eventually releasing them into the wild. Bonus points for sending a card with a cheesy analogy about how she helped you grow into a butterfly, and what a great job she did.

Sweets & Culinary Gift Ideas for Moms

Mother’s Day is a great time to shower your mom with sweets. Or, if Mom’s great in the kitchen, it’s a fun time to celebrate those skills with gifts.

Personalized Recipe Cards

Mom’s a great cook. Everyone’s always asking her for recipes. Pick her up a set of personalized recipe cards on Etsy so she’ll get full credit when she shares her skills. This set costs $10.75 and ships free to the US.

Heart-Shaped Pan

We’ve all been cooking at home this past year — perhaps way more than normal. Turn the mundane fun with this heart-shaped pan from Ecolution on Whether your mother’s making pancakes or eggs, she’ll appreciate that Ecolution’s products are eco-friendly yet durable. You’ll appreciate that it clocks in at just $12.51 and ships free with Prime membership.

Fruit Infusion Pitcher

We haven’t just been eating at home a lot more often — we’ve been drinking at home a lot more often, too. This fruit infusion pitcher is great for making mimosas and flavored water alike. It is $19.99 on and ships free with Prime membership.


Believe it or not, you can get a fair amount of good chocolate for under $20. The “ G-Cube” from Godiva comes with an assortment of 22 flavors, and costs $11.95. With shipping, you can expect to pay around $19.95.

Delivery from a Local Bakery

Ask your mom about her favorite local bakery recommendations. Then, place an order for delivery with them on Mother’s Day. This allows you to not only get mom a gift, but also support small businesses in her community.

If the delivery fee would put you over budget and Mom is vaccinated, you can find another way. You could likely request curbside pickup or she could take a very quick trip inside while double-masked to pick up the treats herself.

Self-Care Gifts for Mother’s Day

We all need a little more self-care these days. Help Mom relax with these soothing Mother’s Day gift ideas until you can see each other again.

Comfortable Sleep Mask

A lot of people have experienced insomnia throughout this pandemic. If Mom’s one of them, you might want to consider helping her get some better shut eye. This silk satin sleep mask from Kessom on Walmart’s platform not only comes in under budget with no shipping costs, but also comes with a matching scrunchie and storage pouch.

Shea Butter Replenishing Bar Soap

This shea butter soap, infused with essential oils, lots of benefits. Rebourne Home + Body says it can:

  • Fight inflammation.
  • Heal chapped, dull or prematurely aging skin.
  • Fight eczema.
  • Improve skin elasticity.
  • Increase blood circulation.

Rebourne sells high-quality bath and beauty products. This one will cost you around $19.45 to send to mom after accounting for shipping costs.

A woman puts cucumbers over her eyes as she sits up with a charcoal facial mask on her.
Getty Images

Luxe Face Masks

Charmed Bath & Body offers several different face masks available via Etsy. You can choose from:

  • Matcha
  • Rose clay.
  • White clay
  • Charcoal
  • Turmeric

It should cost you around $15.95 in all to purchase and ship one of these mask powders for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Coloring Book

Give Mom an opportunity to de-stress with this Mother’s Day coloring book from Amazon. Each page comes with intricate drawings to color in and encouraging and cute quotes about motherhood.

This book is $14.99 and ships free for Prime members.

Blue Light Glasses

We’ve all been spending a lot more time in front of screens over the past year. That means we’ve been spending a lot more time staring at blue light, which can cause migraines, damage our vision and even throw off circadian rhythms, our natural sleep-wake cycles.

Help Mom out with some self-care she didn’t even know she needed with these blue light blocking glasses from Nordstrom. They’re only $15 and shipping is free.

Sentimental Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20

These sweet, mom-centric products will highlight your relationship as you take a trip down memory lane.

Tell Me Your Story Book (Grandma Edition)

You know what’s been happening a lot less often thanks to the pandemic and social distancing? We aren’t telling each other as many stories on a regular basis. That includes grandmas telling their own life stories and family histories to their grandchildren.

Compensate for the loss over the past year with this memory journal. It’s available for $10 on with free shipping for Prime members.

Tell Me Your Story Book (Mom Edition)

Don’t have kids, but love the memory book idea?

Fear not. There is a version of these products for children to give directly to their moms — no procreation required. This daily journal of childhood memories will run you $12, once again with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

You & Me Mom Journal

Want to make the memory journal thing a two way street?

This journal from Uncommon Goods can be sent back and forth between you and your mother. Each page has prompts encouraging the two of you to reflect on your life memories and love together over the years. It will run you $13, and should come in just under $20 after accounting for shipping costs.

Photo Book

There’s nothing moms love more than pictures of their kids and grandkids . Photo books can often be cumbersome to create, or come with deceptive discounts and “deals” that don’t account for exorbitant shipping costs.

You can get around all that by creating a book with Google Photos. You can easily import all the pictures already on your Google account, and can create a 20-page, soft-cover photo book that’s sure to put a smile on her face for just $13.95 including shipping.


You’re shopping on a tight budget, so your wallet is probably thin right now. She might not want to admit it, but money might be tight for your mom in this pandemic, too.

Instead of buying her physical presents, consider sending her the cash. If Mom’s on Venmo or CashApp, you can keep things completely socially distant. Be sure to send a card or heartfelt note.

Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. She blogs at 


8 Tips to Stop Being Ashamed of Your Debt and Take Control

What would you be more embarrassed to shout from the rooftops: your weight or your credit score?

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling conducted a poll asking participants to finish this sentence: “I’d be most embarrassed to admit my…” Perhaps surprisingly, a whopping 37% of respondents answered that their credit card debt was the most embarrassing, followed by 30% of respondents admitting they wouldn’t want to fess up to their credit score. Weight made only 12% of people sweat and came in a distant third place.

If you’re tired of debt hanging around your neck, it’s time to retake control and pay it off permanently.

Why Shame Is Counterproductive

You might think that debt shame isn’t such a bad thing — after all, if you feel bad about it, you’re less likely to incur more, right? Unfortunately, it’s not so simple.

When consumers feel a deep sense of shame, guilt, and embarrassment over debt, an opposite effect can take place. Instead of curbing spending and improving debt payoff rates, the embarrassment causes debt to fester unacknowledged and keeps consumers from getting the help they need to take control of their finances. Furthermore, a study published in The Economic Journal found that people with “problem debt” (defined as debt that is burdensome) are more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

You obviously made choices to put yourself in a position of debt, but berating yourself for those choices doesn’t solve the problem. Remember that overspending and going into debt aren’t character flaws or signs of stupidity, but behavioral issues. Financial guru Dave Ramsey put it succinctly: “Debt is not a math problem. It’s a behavior problem.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with you. As with so much else in life, the first step is simply acknowledging you have a problem, so you can start solving it.

Tips to Take Control of Your Debt

No one likes feeling like they don’t have control over their financial situation. And nothing leaves people feeling financially powerless like spiraling debt.

Take these steps to wrestle back control over your bills and finances, and get back on track for your long-term goals.

1. Stop Digging

When you want to get out of a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging it deeper.

Cut your credit cards in half, or lock them away in a drawer somewhere. Erase saved cards from online shopping sites.

From now on, you can only spend the money in your actual checking account. No new debt balances allowed!

2. Plan and Prioritize Your Debt Elimination

It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed when you look at a half dozen debts and wonder how you’ll ever repay them all.

So? Start with one.

As for which one, start with either your smallest debt or your highest-interest debt. Then follow either the debt snowball or debt avalanche methods of paying off your debt.

In the debt snowball method, you put all your monthly savings into paying off your smallest debt first. Once you pay that off, you then put all your spare money into the next smallest debt, then the next smallest, and so on until you’ve paid all debts in full. With each debt you pay off, you have more money to put toward the next one: hence the name “debt snowball.”

The debt avalanche method works the same way, except you prioritize your debts in order of interest rate rather than balance.

If you don’t know which to try, follow the debt snowball method. It provides a quick win to boost your morale as you pay off your first debt in full.

Note that you don’t necessarily need to pay off your home mortgage or your auto loan early. Just knock out high-interest unsecured loans like credit card balances, student loan debts, and personal loans.

3. Revisit Your Budget

It’s time for some tough love: if you’ve accumulated significant debt, you probably have a broken budget.

That doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up. It does mean you need to fix your budget.

Begin by creating a new budget in Google Sheets. Don’t worry for now about your current spending — draft your ideal budget unencumbered by your current expenses.

Only after you’ve set a target, then review your current budget and spending categories. Don’t feel discouraged by the wide gap between your current and target budgets. It takes time and effort to bridge that divide.

Start with the low-hanging fruit — the easy but small spending habits. Try cutting these 12 simple costs to save over $13,000 each year. But note that for the greatest savings, you need to change your structural spending on big expenses like housing, transportation, and food.

4. Set Up Automated Payments

We humans only have so much self-discipline and motivation. It runs out or fails us all the time.

So don’t count on self-discipline to do the right thing. Automate it so it happens without you having to set calendar reminders or tie strings around your finger.

Set up automated recurring debt payments for all your debts. Most of these can be your minimum monthly payment, but for whichever debt you’re targeting for fast payoff, set up automated payments to coincide with your paychecks. Every payday, money should automatically leave your bank account to pay down your debts. It leaves you with no wiggle room, no excuses, no way to spend more than you have.

As soon as you pay off that debt, switch over your automated payments for the next target debt. It’s that simple, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you make progress toward becoming debt-free.

5. Track Your Progress Monthly

It feels disheartening, watching all your extra money fly out the door with nothing tangible to show for it.

Which means you must make your progress tangible.

Each month, track your debt balances in a single spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just one column with the debt name, and another with the remaining balance. Only include your unsecured debts for now, and leave your home mortgage and auto loan out of it.

As you watch your balances shrink month after month, it will show you hard proof that your work is paying off, and reinforce your resolve.

6. Find an Accountability Partner

One way to trick yourself into saving more money is to check in every month with an accountability partner.

One study reported in Entrepreneur magazine found that simply committing to a goal out loud to a friend boosted participants’ odds of achieving it by 65%. Those who checked in regularly with a friend about their progress nearly doubled their odds of success, with a 95% increase.

Keep it simple. Once every week or month, touch base with your accountability partner for a quick phone call. Share your progress — as tracked by your spreadsheet described above.

7. Increase Your Income

Budgeting works wonders. High earners who spend every penny don’t build wealth. Full stop.

But at the same time, earning less money means less room to save. Which means you should attack the problem from both sides, simultaneously spending less while earning more.

Earning more money could mean negotiating a raise or changing jobs for a higher salary. Or it could mean picking up a side hustle, whether in the gig economy or starting your own business on the side of your full-time job.

Just make sure you put your higher earnings toward paying down debt, rather than lifestyle inflation.

8. Boost Your Financial Literacy

The more you know about personal finance and investing, about all the ways you can put money to work for you rather than vice versa, the faster you’ll not only escape debt but build true wealth.

Surprising no one, there’s a well documented link between spending habits, and financial literacy — for example, a study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology. People with low financial literacy are more likely to spend compulsively, use credit, and suffer from changes in income or unforeseen events.

Take time to educate yourself about money. Financially literate people don’t count themselves among those ashamed of their credit report or card statements.

Start simple with free financial newsletters. Read personal finance blogs (cough, cough) and listen to financial podcasts. Talk to friends and family members who know more about money than you do. Speak with a financial advisor if you want professional financial advice.

Most middle-class Americans know little about money — and have no idea what they don’t know.

Final Word

You can’t build wealth while straddled with high-interest debt. While you’re paying 24% interest on credit card debt, it makes no sense to invest in the stock market for an historically average 10% return.

But once you shed the yoke of your debts, you can start funneling money into building true wealth. You can start building passive income streams, start working toward financial independence, start designing your ideal life.

You can waste mental energy feeling embarrassed or ashamed. Or you can acknowledge that you’re only human like the rest of us and you made some mistakes, and start taking steps to climb out of debt so you can start working toward your long-term financial goals in earnest.


How long does it take to get a credit card? – Lexington Law

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

If you’re considering getting a new credit card, you may be wondering how long you’ll have to wait before you can start using your card and building credit. Typically, it takes a few weeks from the time of application to receive the card in the mail. To determine the specifics, it’s important to understand the three stages of acquiring a credit card: application, approval and mailing.

Most of the time, applying and getting approved for a card happens within a matter of minutes. The main holdup is waiting for the card to come in the mail, which may take up to 10 business days. You may also spend more time waiting if you applied for a card that requires exceptional credit, which requires issuers to manually review your application and credit history.

How long does it take to get a credit card? Application time takes less than hour, approval time ranges from minutes to weeks, and mailing time ranges from 5 to 10 business days.

Step 1: Apply Online

Total wait time: Less than an hour

How to Apply for a Credit Card

When you apply for a credit card online, you’ll need to enter personal information like your name, address, income, employment status and identification info, like a Social Security number. Within minutes, you’ll likely receive an approval or denial, because most credit cards have preset approval criteria.

Getting Preapproved

Getting preapproved or prequalified for a credit card will help you get a card faster because it automates the approval process. You may either receive a preapproval offer in the mail or complete an online form with some personal and financial information. Filling out preapproval forms doesn’t have any impact on your credit score and allows your credit card offers to be more personalized.

Step 2: Get Approved

Total wait time: Anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks

How Does the Credit Approval Process Work?

If you are preapproved or apply for credit cards with preset criteria, you’ll likely know if you’re approved or denied within minutes. However, if you apply for a credit card that requires exceptional credit, you won’t receive an instant verdict. This is because the credit card issuer must manually review your application and credit history. This can take anywhere from a few days to a week or longer. They may look at:

  • Negative items: Derogatory marks like late payments and delinquent accounts
  • Debt load: Including your debt-to-income ratio and credit utilization ratio
  • Credit score: A high-level indication of your credit health

How to Check Your Application Status

If you’re waiting on a mail-in application or approval that’s hard to get due to high standards, you may be able to check your application’s status online. Most major credit card issuers—except Capital One, Chase and Synchrony—allow users to check their application status online. If that option isn’t available to you, or if you prefer talking to someone, call the issuer’s card services number.

How to Increase Your Chances of Approval

Make sure to only apply for credit cards with criteria that fit your credit health. For example, some credit cards are designed for people with bad credit, while others require excellent credit. Overall, if you don’t have much credit history or if you have bad credit, you likely won’t be approved for cards with great rewards and interest rates.

Step 3: Receive Card

Total wait time: Five to 10 business days

How Long Does It Take for Credit Cards to Come in the Mail?

Unless you applied for a card requiring excellent credit, most of the waiting time is eaten up by the mailing process, which typically takes five to 10 business days.

What to Do If My Card Is Taking Longer Than Expected

If you urgently need the card or are wondering what’s taking so long, consider doing the following:

  • Request an expedite. Expedited delivery for new and replacement cards is offered by many issuers—and sometimes, it’s even free.
  • Track the card. This won’t help the card arrive faster, but it will give you a better idea of its progress. You can either check the card’s status online or call the issuer using a tracking number. This will help you learn when the card was sent and when you can expect it to arrive.
  • Call the issuer. If it’s been more than 10 business days or the amount of time estimated for delivery, your card may have gotten lost in the mail, or even stolen. Consider calling your issuer and requesting that they cancel the old card and issue a new one. Even though this will take longer, it’s a wise safety measure.
Credit card taking longer than expected to arrive? Request an expedite, track the card, call the issuer.

Can I Use My Card Before It Arrives?

If you need to pay bills or make important transactions before your card is scheduled to arrive in the mail, you may be able to access your card number immediately after approval. Check with your issuer to see if it offers this feature, and request an instant card number as soon as you’ve been approved. Applying and getting approved for a credit card has never been easier, especially if you’ve been practicing good credit management. Remember to use your new card responsibly to keep your credit score in the best shape possible. And remember that we’re here to help with credit repair if things happen that are outside of your control, like unfair or inaccurate reporting. Talk to us today to get started.

Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.