On Desert Ground: Steven Seagal Selling 12-Acre Spread in Scottsdale

The action star Steven Seagal has decided to sell his high-drama hacienda in Scottsdale, AZ, a rugged 12-acre estate he has listed for $3,775,000.

After marrying his fourth wife, Erdenetuya Seagal, in 2009, the “Under Siege” tough guy bought the dramatic desert digs for $3.5 million in 2010. The outspoken conservative turned reality-show cop has ties with controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and even toyed with running for governor of Arizona in 2014, according to the Washington Post.

But his political run in the desert never materialized, because Seagal hadn’t yet reached the five-year residency threshold for eligibility.

Now, it seems he’s moved on from the Grand Canyon State, leaving behind this exquisite 2001-built home with five bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, and nearly 9,000 square feet, sitting on 12 acres of pristine desert in north Scottsdale.

With views of the Chiricahua Golf Course and city views of Phoenix and Scottsdale, the home is built for luxury living, in harmony with the rugged desert that surrounds it.

Highlights of the home include a home theater, copper roof, a three-car garage with copper doors, negative-edge heated pool, and 600-square-foot guesthouse.

Exterior of Steven Seagal's desert homeExterior of Steven Seagal's desert home
Exterior

(realtor.com)

Stairs in Steven Seagal desert home in Scottsdale Stairs in Steven Seagal desert home in Scottsdale
Stairs

(realtor.com)

Family room at Steven Seagal home in Scottsdale Family room at Steven Seagal home in Scottsdale
Family room

(realtor.com)

Steven Seagal dining room in Scottsdale home Steven Seagal dining room in Scottsdale home
Dining room

(realtor.com)

Kitchen in Steven Seagal Scottsdale, AZ home Kitchen in Steven Seagal Scottsdale, AZ home
Kitchen

(realtor.com)

Main bedroom suite Steven Seagal home Main bedroom suite Steven Seagal home
Main bedroom

(realtor.com)

Home theater in Steven Seagal home in Scottsdale Home theater in Steven Seagal home in Scottsdale
Home theater

(realtor.com)

Patio Steven Seagal home in Scottsdale, AZPatio Steven Seagal home in Scottsdale, AZ
Patio

(realtor.com)

These days, Seagal likes to spend time in Russia with his bro Vladimir Putin, whom he has called “one of the great living world leaders,” procuring Russian citizenship in the process. Seagal is also a citizen of Serbia, where he owns a martial arts studio.

Seagal is currently on tour in Europe telling tales from his colorful life and career. He’s also no stranger to real estate deals. The star of “Above the Law” owned properties in Eads, TN, and across California over the years, including a Hollywood mansion purchased by actress Reese Witherspoon and a plot of undeveloped land in Montague, CA, near Oregon, according to Variety.

Now a lucky buyer has the chance to live like a star and scoop up this delicious desert dojo with 1990s action-star pedigree. Kimonos entirely optional.

Source: realtor.com

Other Uses for Life Insurance You May Not Know About

Did you purchase a life insurance policy years ago to protect your loved ones? Just over half of adult Americans have a life insurance policy, and more say they’re interested in purchasing one. However, needs can change later in life when the kids are grown up and a retirement nest egg seems big enough to absorb financial shocks. Those nearing and in retirement may see less reason for their life insurance policy than when they first purchased it and may see the premiums they pay as burdensome.

But for many, there are potential benefits to continuing a life insurance policy or purchasing certain types in retirement, when it comes to taxes, estate planning and long-term care. Here are some ways to use a life insurance policy that you may not know about.

What Are the Tax Benefits of Life Insurance?

The tax benefits of a life insurance policy are potentially even more valuable now that the “stretch IRA” is no more. In 2019, the SECURE Act  (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) eliminated the option for most non-spouse beneficiaries to stretch out RMDs (required minimum distributions) over the course of their lifetime. Now, most non-spouse beneficiaries must drain tax-deferred retirement accounts within 10 years of the original owner’s death. Depending on how much is in the account and the beneficiary’s tax situation, this could mean an increased tax burden and a faster end to the tax benefits of the inherited account.

In contrast, life insurance proceeds paid to beneficiaries are generally income tax-free. In fact, some individuals should consider using life insurance to help transfer wealth to the next generation. Life insurance policies can provide business owners additional opportunities, such as paying off business debt, funding buy-sell agreements related to someone’s business or estate, or funding retirement plans. 

What Are the Long-Term Care Benefits of Life Insurance?

It’s estimated that 70% of Americans age 65 today will need long-term care at some point, and the costs can be staggering: The median annual cost for an assisted living facility is $51,600 and the median

annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is over $105,850. Yet, many Americans nearing and in retirement do not have long-term care insurance. Many people who do want to plan for long-term care costs may not want to invest in traditional long-term care insurance, because premiums can rise significantly, and there are typically no benefits if the owner ends up never needing long-term care.

As a result, traditional long-term care insurance has become less popular in the last decade. An alternative option is to use a life insurance policy with long term care benefits. These policies combine the benefits of long-term care insurance with those of permanent life insurance through the purchase of an optional rider. They can still provide a death benefit if the owner passes away without having needed long-term care. If the owner does need long-term care, a certain amount of money or time is allotted to cover costs. If this amount isn’t used up, some policies can offer a “return of premium” guarantee upon death or termination of the policy. If a remaining amount is passed on, beneficiaries may be able to enjoy it tax-free, depending on the policy.

Unlike traditional long-term care insurance, this type of life insurance policy’s premiums don’t rise. However, some require lump-sum payments at the start, which can make purchasing a policy difficult for some.

The Bottom Line

While your financial planning needs may change as you near and enter retirement, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your life insurance policy is obsolete. There are many potential benefits to life insurance beyond its traditional use to look into when creating a retirement or estate plan. A professional can help you understand how your particular policy works, and if any of these strategies could apply to your financial plan.

Harlow Wealth Management is an independent financial services firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. Harlow Wealth Management Inc. is an SEC Registered Investment Adviser and an insurance agency registered with the state of Washington and other states. They do not provide tax or legal advice. Legal and tax advice should come from qualified professionals who can provide advice on these topics.
Insurance guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing company. Life insurance riders may be available for an additional annual premium; riders may not be available in all states. Life insurance policies are subject to medical underwriting, and in some cases, financial underwriting. Optional LTC benefits are NOT a replacement for long term care (LTC) insurance. Living benefits and LTC riders are not available on all index universal life products. Accelerated death benefits and LTC riders are subject to eligibility requirements.

CEO, Harlow Wealth Management

Chris Harlow is a Certified Public Accountant and CEO of Harlow Wealth Management, serving metropolitan Portland and southwest Washington to help clients craft their financial strategies for retirement. Chris’ past experiences have instilled in him a dedication to guiding clients through tax and retirement strategies. He has passed the FINRA Series 65 securities exam; holds life insurance licenses in Washington, Oregon and Arizona; and has his CPA license.

Source: kiplinger.com

The Best Cheap Shampoo for All Types of Hair

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got curly hair, oily hair, natural hair or color-treated hair. You want your hair to look fabulous and a good cheap shampoo can make that happen.

Yes, even drugstore shampoos can give you luxurious locks for less than $9 a bottle, way less. Watch for sales, especially buy-one-get-one free details, to maximize your savings on the best cheap shampoo. 

If $9 for a bottle of shampoo seems high consider how much use you’ll get out of it. If you are using the suggested amount, you could get 30 washes out of an 8-ounce bottle. That’s about 30 cents a wash. Not bad. 

Shampoo can be as super cheap as that bottle of Suave or VO5 that you’ll find in any Dollar Tree, but you’re not just after cheap for your beauty routine. You’re after quality shampoo for less that can keep you from being tempted by the uber-pricey stuff. we’re looking at you Olaplex at nearly $30 for 8.5 ounces. Think about how that much shampoo is per wash!

We spoke to dermatologists and hair experts for their best tips on identifying quality shampoo that’ll keep your locks clean and healthy, whether you’ve got frizzy hair, oily hair, color treated hair or straight hair. 

6 Best Cheap Shampoos to Try

  • 1. Pantene Fortifying Damage Repair Shampoo with Castor Oil
  • 2. Neutrogena Shampoo The Anti-residue shampoo
  • 3. Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo
  • 4. SheaMoisture Detangling Shampoo
  • 5. Hask Hemp Oil & Agave Moisturizing Shampoo
  • 6. Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo
  • What Shampoo Is

    Shampoo consists of two basic components: water and surfactants, which is what’s responsible for the lathering and cleansing.

    Those two elements comprise between 50 to 80% of the contents, says Nikki Goddard, a certified hair stylist and shampoo expert from San Jose, California, and senior editor at The Right Hairstyles magazine. 

    The rest includes silicone, thickening agents, perfume, natural oils and extracts. 

    Why Some Shampoos Are So Expensive

    Both cheap and inexpensive products contain surfactants that remove oil and dirt almost equally well. So why are some of them so outrageously expensive, while others cost less than $5?

    Sometimes the higher prices are simply due to marketing, says Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist based in South Florida. 

    “Other times, I think it could be due to imported materials or products that may come with their own unique high costs,” she says.

    The shampoos may also have fragrances and conditioning agents to leave hair feeling soft and smelling good, says Vanessa Thomas, a cosmetic chemist, founder of Freelance Formulations. 

    And some professional product lines made for hair salons can include components and formulations that actually do improve the health of the hair and the scalp, says Goddard. For example, she says sulfate-free and all-natural products usually cost more, but she believes the higher price is justified.

    Shampoo Ingredients to Seek Out — and Ones to Avoid

    You can get a sense of which inexpensive shampoos will be of good quality by checking out the ingredient list. Look for these ingredients, all of which serve a purpose in keeping your hair clean and healthy: 

    • Moisturizing agents (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lanolin)
    • Anti-sebum ingredients (ketoconazole, piroctone olamine, zinc)
    • Keratin
    • Collagen

    “Note that adding vitamins, fruit acids, antioxidants, SPF agents and less than 25 to 30% herbal extracts makes no point,” Goddard says “They won’t penetrate and nourish hair.”

    If you see superficially active substances (SAS) like magnesium laureth sulfate, decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside along with those moisturizing agents, you can safely assume the shampoo will be an effective product.  

    Of course, you should also take your own specific needs into consideration. 

    Advice for Sensitive Skin

    Hair experts have plenty of advice for people who have skin issues and need to find the best shampoos. 

    If you have skin-related infections, like eczema or dandruff, you’ll want to look for shampoos that contain ketoconazole, selenium sulfide and/or pyrithione zinc, which are antifungal agents that can help treat itching, flaking and dry skin on your scalp, says Dawn Clemens, founder of Larwe Hair, which sells wigs and hair extensions. 

    On the other hand, try to avoid sulfates, paraffins, silicones and peroxides within haircare products, as they add frizz and can damage your hair, Chacon, the South Florida dermatologist, says.

    Make sure that a cheap shampoo does not include toxic SAS (which includes the majority of sulfates, cetrimonium chloride, lauramide DEA, and PEG-150 distearate), mineral oil, BHA and BHT, stylist and magazine editor Goddard says. 

    You should also try to avoid formaldehyde, triclosan, dimethicone, cocamide MEA and artificial perfume agents. These chemicals have come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons. For instance, the FDA banned triclosan for use in hand and body washes in 2016, while formaldehyde can pose a problem for people with sensitive skin.

    Should You Ever Opt for More Expensive Shampoo?

    Women who have specific hair concerns — and we don’t just mean dry ends or hard-to-control frizz — may need to opt for something a little pricier. Typically, a cheaper shampoo brand will sell products that aren’t necessarily geared toward a specific hair type, cosmetic chemist Thomas says. 

    If you have specific needs for your hair, here’s what you should look for when shopping for shampoo:

    • Dry, damaged hair: Avoid clarifying shampoo, which are clear shampoos focused on removing oil from the scalp. Instead, opt for shampoos and conditioners with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and avocado oil. 
    • Fine hair: Avoid heavy moisturizing shampoos, especially those containing silicones, as they will weigh down the hair. Silicones are best for controlling frizz, as they coat the hair follicle, locking out moisture. 
    • Thick, coarse hair: Opt for a product containing oils and humectants in a creamy formula, and avoid volumizing shampoos, Thomas says. Black women typically wash their dryer and textured hair once per week or may co-wash, which is washing with only a conditioner. Dry, brittle hair that’s washed too often will become damaged. 

    6 of the Best Cheap Shampoos That Pass the Ingredient Test

    Here are six inexpensive shampoos that have the ingredients you want — and none of the ones you don’t.

    1. Pantene Fortifying Damage Repair Shampoo with Castor Oil

    Got some damage? This shampoo will strengthen your hair, thanks to the castor oil. ($8.69 at CVS)
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    2. Neutrogena Shampoo The Anti-Residue Shampoo

    Use this just once a week to remove up to 90% of residue caused by your products and other shampoos. It’s made for every hair type. If you go in the pool or in the ocean, this shampoo is a must, as a clarifying shampoo is essential for preventing salt and chlorine from damaging your hair. “The price is quite low due to a modest composition that includes only the most essential clarifying components,” says Monica Davis, a professional hairstylist and founder of the MyStraightener blog. ($6.99 at Neutrogena)

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    3. Dove Daily Moisture Shampoo

    It’s got glycerin to keep hair super moisturized and soft, and the scent is similar to a sweet hairspray that leaves a subtle scent behind. “The formula includes glycerin, which is both safe for the hair and scalp, and makes hair softer and smoother,” blogger Davis says. ($3.49 at Target)

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    4. SheaMoisture Detangling Shampoo

    If you need moisture and effective detangling, this shampoo is a universal solution, Davis says. Due to the natural softeners, such as cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil you can even use this to straighten your curls. “The natural components are actually cheap, and it’s not surprising that the price for this pretty bottle is that low,” Davis says. $8.50 at Walmart

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    5. Hask Hemp Oil & Agave Moisturizing Shampoo

    This is incredibly moisturizing (so much so, that if you have excess oil, this isn’t the shampoo for you). The smell is fresh and sweet, and this leaves you shiny with great slip. $3 at Ulta

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    6. Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo

    Containing zinc pyrithione and all the ingredients needed to combat yeast causing dandruff (scalp itching), as well as the ingredients needed to keep your scalp clean, this contains all the essential for less than $10, says Purvisha Patel, a dermatologist in Memphis, and the founder of Visha Skincare. ($6.99 at Target)

    Back to top ↑

    The Penny Hoarder contributor Danielle Braff is a Chicago writer who specializes in consumer goods and shopping on a budget. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Real Simple and more. 

    Source: thepennyhoarder.com

    Stock Market Today: Stocks Slip as Tech, Energy Come Up Lame

    The stock market struggled on Thursday, hobbled by tech and energy, as Wall Street faced a blast of data.

    The day started with China reporting slowing but still robust 7.9% economic growth for the second quarter, down from its wild 18.3% boom in Q1.

    Here in the U.S., initial jobless claims for the week ended July 10 declined by 26,000 to a pandemic-low 360,000 filings, which was in line with estimates. Industrial production grew 0.4% month-over-month in June, which was slightly weaker than the 0.6% expected. A regional reading of mid-Atlantic factory activity showed its slowest pace of growth since December, but a New York-area manufacturing survey surged well above expectations to its highest reading ever.

    “I thought the China data was more important today,” says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange. “Q2 GDP did slightly miss, but the June industrial production and retail sales both came in ahead of expectations.”

    Tech names including Nvidia (NVDA, -4.4%) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, -2.4%) weighed on the S&P 500 (-0.3% to 4,360) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.7% to 14,543). Energy (-1.4%) was the market’s worst sector, however, as U.S. crude oil futures declined 0.4% to $72.85 per barrel amid yesterday’s OPEC production deal and indications that U.S. demand might be slipping.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average, led by Honeywell (HON, +2.2%), eked out a 0.2% gain to 34,987.

    Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

    Other action in the stock market today:

    • The small-cap Russell 2000’s struggles continued, with the index closing down 0.6% to 2,190. 
    • Oatly Group (OTLY) was a notable decliner on Wall Street after Ben Axler of Spruce Point Capital Management said shares of the non-dairy milk company are worth less than $10. Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Axler called OTLY “one of those inflated bubble stocks,” and accused the firm of misstating its financial results. The stock closed down 5.2% at $19.48, but remains above its late-May initial public offering (IPO) price of $17 per share.  
    • UnitedHealth Group (UNH) shares gained ground after the insurance giant reported earnings. For its second quarter, UNH brought in adjusted earnings per share of $4.70 – off roughly 34% from what it earned a year ago, but above analysts’ consensus estimate. Revenue, meanwhile, rose 14.8% year-over-year to $71.3 billion, topping Wall Street’s expectations. The Dow stock ended the day up 1.3%.
    • Gold futures gained 0.2% to settle at $1,829 an ounce, marking their third consecutive win.
    • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) recovered by 4.2% to 17.01.
    • Bitcoin declined 3.5% to $32,724.50. Cryptocurrency site CoinDesk notes that Google searches for “Bitcoin price” have reached their lowest point since December – a sign that retail interest is at least temporarily waning. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
    stock chart for 071521stock chart for 071521

    The Child Tax Credit (And What It Could Do for Stocks)

    Thursday’s biggest financial winners, however, were American parents.

    On July 15, the Treasury began sending out payments as part of the expanded 2021 child tax credit (CTC). Our FAQ breaks down everything you need to know about this year’s program, but the highlights include increased payouts, wider eligibility and monthly advance payouts between July and December.

    Just like most quick influxes of spending – like the three national COVID-related stimulus payments and the major infrastructure plan being hashed out in Washington – the temporarily boosted CTC is expected to stimulate wide swaths of the American economy … but naturally, some more than than others.

    Wall Street has its eye on a few select industries, and indeed, several stocks have been specifically singled out as potential beneficiaries of a child tax credit spending boom. However, not every last one of them is a buy. Read on as we look at eight stock picks that could enjoy a lift from the child tax credit, and examine how much (or how little) opportunity the pros see in each.

    Kyle Woodley was long NVDA as of this writing.

    Source: kiplinger.com

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account?

    I’ll never forget setting up my first bank account as a kid. My mom drove me over to the local bank to set up a savings account where I could deposit cash and checks, including annual birthday gifts from family and any other money I came upon at a young age.

    When I was 16, my mom took me to the grocery store branch of a Nationwide bank to get my first checking account. While this “free checking for life,” didn’t quite live up to its name, having a checking account did give me access to a financial system that many Americans don’t have the knowledge or ability to enjoy.

    Looking at households that look like the one I grew up in, I figured everyone took checks to the bank to make a deposit. I thought most people would send money to others using a check, or later an online service like Venmo or PayPal. As an adult, I learned that is far from the case.

    What’s Ahead:

    Who is unbanked and underbanked?

    Who is unbanked and underbanked?

    Who is unbanked and underbanked?

    Being unbanked means an individual or family has no traditional bank accounts at all. Underbanked households have a checking or savings account but also use alternative financial services such as money orders, check cashing, international remittances, payday loans, refund anticipation loans, rent-to-own services, pawnshop loans, or auto title loans, according to the FDIC.

    While about 97% of white households have all of their banking needs met, the numbers are not nearly the same for America’s minority populations. 2017 data from the FDIC shows that 3% of white households are unbanked. However, about 17% of black and 14% of Hispanic households don’t have bank accounts. When you expand that to include the underbanked, those who have accounts but lack access to some essential banking services, about 30% of black households and 29% of Hispanic households are missing out.

    According to the 2017 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, the most likely populations to not be fully banked are lower-income households, less-educated households, younger households, black and Hispanic households, working-age disabled households, and households with volatile income.

    Why are some households unbanked and underbanked?

    According to the FDIC survey, there are several common reasons U.S. households don’t have a bank account.

    • Not enough money: More than half of those who are unbanked say that they don’t have enough money to keep in an account. This is the most common reason to not have a bank account.
    • Don’t trust banks: About 30% of respondents said that they “don’t trust banks.” This is the second most common reason to not have a bank account.
    • Bank fees: The third most common reason to not have a bank account is bank fees. Many people said that fees were either too high or too unpredictable.

    While these are common reasons to not have a bank account, the best solution is choosing a bank you can trust that offers low-fee accounts with no minimum balance requirements. When you choose an account with no recurring fees and favorable fee structures for customers, you can rest easy that your money is safe, insured, and won’t be subject to surprise charges.

    Some consumers don’t have accounts because they are not conveniently available or they lack financial literacy. If there are no nearby banks, it may not be possible for many Americans to open a bank account even if they do have the time and money to do so. One of the best solutions for this, if internet access is available, is to set up an online bank account through a bank like Chime

    Accessing your payroll from work

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Accessing your payroll from work

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Accessing your payroll from work

    According to NACHA, the organization responsible for managing the nation’s direct deposit system, 82% of Americans are paid via direct deposit. But if you don’t have a bank account, getting paid via direct deposit isn’t an option.

    You also don’t have the ability to deposit your paycheck into your checking account with your phone, a free service that takes less than 30 seconds. Instead, you have to cash your paycheck with a check-cashing service. It could look like this:

    • Cash the check at the issuing bank: Most banks will cash a check drawn on a customer’s account. Some charge a flat fee of a few dollars for this service while others will do it for free. Either way, you have to take a trip to the check writer’s bank, not your own, to do this.
    • Cash the check at a grocery store: Supermarket chains like Walmart and Kroger offer check cashing partially because they hope you will spend your money there. Walmart charges $4 or $8 to cash a check. At Kroger-owned stores, fees start at $3 per check cashed and vary by state.
    • Payday loan or check cashing stores: Fees are often higher at check-cashing or payday loan centers. They often require a flat-fee plus a percentage of the check amount.

    I had never tried to cash a payroll check until a few years ago when I participated in FinX from the Center for Financial Services Innovation. I was sent into Hollywood with a payroll check and a list of errands. Before even getting to the errands, I had lost about 7% of my check to fees while spending over a half hour getting the cash. But this is normal without a bank account.

    Paying the gas or power bill

    When your electricity, gas, or water bill shows up in your mailbox or email inbox, you might have it set to pay automatically with a checking account, credit card, or debit card. But if you don’t have those accounts, you need to pay another way.

    Instead of paying for free with a few taps on your phone or clicks on your computer screen, paying utilities without a bank account requires a bit more effort. You might be able to pay at a local office or grocery store, but you can’t always pay with cash and you might have to pay additional processing fees if you go this route.

    Other options include mailing a money order, which takes a fee of a few dollars, a stamp, and an envelope or a prepaid debit card, which also requires fees and more time to load the card.

    In any case, paying bills without a bank account takes a lot more time and often more money. In many ways, it’s like an added tax for being poor or not knowing about how the banking system works.

    Making a purchase where only debit or credit cards are accepted

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Making a purchase where only debit or credit cards are accepted

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Making a purchase where only debit or credit cards are accepted

    Debit cards, and often credit cards, are another financial service most people take for granted. You can just take that card anywhere you go and swipe it to pay. In most cases, you won’t pay any extra fees.

    But what about businesses that don’t take any cash? If you want to shop online at Amazon, ride in an Uber, or visit a business that doesn’t take cash, you need a plastic card to pay. Without it, you could have to pay more to shop at a local store instead of online or pay more for a traditional cab instead of a ride-hailing service.

    The solution here is another one that comes with extra fees and probably sucks up hours of time. Prepaid cards, which you often see at convenience stores and grocery stores, give you many of the features of a debit card. However, you usually have to pay to buy one, pay to load them, and have extra fees depending on how you use the account.

    When I tried one out during the FinX experience, I spent about $5 in fees to buy and load a card and it didn’t even work. After a half-hour on the phone waiting and talking to customer service, my team realized the money might be locked up for a day or more.

    When you’re already living paycheck-to-paycheck, that could lead to late fees or skipping dinner for your family. Prepaid cards are okay when they work, but they’re still an extra expense low-income people have to pay that those with bank accounts don’t.

    Sending money to family or friends

    When splitting a cost with family or friends, or sending money for any other reason, people with bank accounts can use free services like Venmo, Square Cash, or Zelle to send funds quickly to anyone else with an account.

    If you don’t have a bank account, however, these accounts won’t work as intended. You might still be able to access some features, but you obviously can’t transfer to or from a linked bank account.

    Instead, most unbanked and underbanked consumers look to paid services to send funds. That could include mailing a money order or cashier’s check or using a transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram.

    Western Union charges based on where you are sending funds. To find out exactly what it would cost, I checked on the cost for transfer within the U.S. where you pay cash in a store. For a $500 transfer, you would pay $15, or 3%. Plus, it takes time to go to the store to drop off the money and set up the transfer. That adds up to a big cost you don’t have to pay when you have a regular bank account.

    Borrowing money

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Borrowing money

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Borrowing money

    Many people with bank accounts also have other traditional financial products like credit cards, auto loans, and home loans. But qualifying for a traditional loan may not be possible without a bank account.

    Those with a good enough credit can use a credit card in a pinch, which often carries an interest rate of around 10% to 29% depending on your credit history. Personal loans and secured loans may offer lower rates in some cases.

    When you have poor credit and don’t have access to traditional banking, common sources of funds during challenging financial periods include payday loans, auto title loans, and pawnshop loans.

    Payday loans are particularly worrisome, as they often carry triple-digit interest rates. While 16 states and Washington D.C. now cap interest rates at 36% or less, the average annual percentage rate (APR) for these loans is 391%, according to the Center for Responsible Lending. That means borrowers would pay the principal back multiple times over every year if they continually extend the loan.

    Saving money for emergencies and long-term goals

    If you don’t have enough money to keep a bank account, you probably don’t have enough for long-term savings. But if you are able to scrape the funds together to put something away for a rainy day, where do you keep it if you don’t have a bank account?

    While banks offer security and FDIC insurance, cash-based households may keep extra money around the house, in a vehicle, under a mattress, or buried in a can in the backyard. Really!

    There are many problems with stashing cash around your home. The money could be lost or stolen. It could be destroyed in a fire, flood, or other accident. And it doesn’t earn any interest.

    Rather than save it, however, many low-income families are forced to spend their money on basic needs like groceries and rent.

    Here are some options for the unbanked and underbanked

    If you don’t have a bank account or the handy mobile banking app that comes along with it, financial services look very different. Basic tasks like cashing a paycheck or paying for your home utilities are a lot harder, and often more expensive.

    Many lower-income households look to payday lenders, check cashing businesses, pawnshops, car title lenders, and other sometimes predatory services to meet their money needs. Instead, it would be better to open a traditional checking account at a bank that helps customers succeed with their money.

    Without a bank account, basic financial services like money orders and check cashing could easily add up to $500 in annual expenses where those with a bank account can do these things for free.

    Here are examples of no-fee and low-fee banks that are ideal for people opening a checking account for the first time or are returning to banking after a period away:

    Chime

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Chime

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - ChimeChime is an online-only app that offers an excellent checking account with no minimum balance and no recurring fees. Chime includes a wide range of additional features at no added cost. Depositing a check with your phone, paying bills, and other basic financial tasks are easily handled in the Chime mobile app.

    There are no overdraft fees, foreign transaction fees, minimum balance fees, service fees, debit card replacement fees, or fees for online transfers to other banks. You can really use this account for free forever in many cases. That makes it a great choice for anyone with a smartphone that wants to handle their money with a safe and trustworthy account at work, home, or on the go.

    Chime Disclosure – Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

    Novo

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Bank Novo

    What Does Life Look Like Without A Bank Account? - Bank NovoNovo is a great bank for small businesses looking to avoid common business banking fees. Optimized for independent business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, Novo accounts have no hidden fees and make managing your business finances simple.

    The account makes most business needs free including ACH transfers, mailed bill payment checks, mobile check deposits, incoming wires, and ATM visits. Novo even automatically refunds other bank’s ATM fees. If you’re looking for a small business bank with very few fees and no minimum balance requirements, Bank Novo is a good choice.

    Summary

    When you have an account with a high-quality bank, you won’t have to pay any recurring fees and don’t have to worry about minimum balances. You can deposit checks using your phone and send funds to friends and family for free in just a few moments.

    Every American should have access to a quality checking account with low fees, but that simply isn’t the case today. By helping more people get access to the U.S. banking system, everyone benefits.

    Read more:

    Source: moneyunder30.com

    Steak Prices Are Rising. 5 Steps to Take to Save

    Prices keep rising and rising. Inflation is back with a vengeance. This is especially true at the grocery store, where we keep getting sticker shock at the checkout counter.

    Just look at the news headlines:

    Beef prices are surging worldwide, Reuters reports.

    As food prices continue to rise, beef and pork have surged out front, the Washington Post says.

    If you’re a steak lover, you might be out of luck. Just as grilling season kicks into high gear, prices are sky-high.

    Overall, inflation rose 5% over the past year — the biggest jump since 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    How can you keep up with rising prices? We’ve got some ideas.

    1. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Groceries

    What’s your favorite cut of steak? Ribeye? T-bone? Filet mignon?

    No matter how strategic you are, groceries still account for a good chunk of your budget. Everybody’s got to eat. You may as well earn a little money back while your groceries are being bagged up.

    A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying staples like toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.

    Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.

    You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards.

    Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something.

    2. Pocket up to 5% Cash Back at the Grocery Store

    If you’re not getting rewarded every time you go to the grocery store, you’re missing out on extra money.

    Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back on your debit card purchases. For example, right now it gives you 0.5% cash back at Walmart and Target, and 5% cash back at places like Brandless. (For a full list of cash-back percentages, visit Aspiration’s website.)

    It takes just five minutes to sign up for a new debit card with the Aspiration Spend and Save account.

    Never leave extra money behind at the grocery store again.

    3. Shop Groceries Online (or At Least Pantry Items!)

    If you have a massive shopping list, grocery shopping can easily become overwhelming. Next thing you know, you’re lugging out hundreds of pounds of groceries — or at least that’s what it feels like.

    Make life easier for yourself (and your arms) by buying your pantry and dry goods online — and earn cash bonuses along the way.

    A free website called Rakuten has connections with more than 2,500 stores, which means it can give you a cash kickback when you shop at one. When we checked, we found deals at Amazon, Safeway, Sam’s Club, Boxed and Walmart.

    It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account. All you need is an email address. Plus, if you use Rakuten to earn money back within the first 90 days of signing up, it’ll give you an extra $10.

    Now you don’t have to worry about fitting that 36-pack of toilet paper in your trunk or hauling a box of cat litter across the store. Just have someone deliver it to your door and earn cash back along the way!

    4. Stop Overpaying for Groceries You Order Online

    Do you pick up groceries after shopping online first? Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert any time you’re shopping online and you’re about to overpay?

    That’s exactly what this free service does.

    Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.

    Let’s say you’re shopping for a new pair of shoes, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact pair of shoes is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.*

    In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.

    You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.

    5. Get an Extra $225 to Use Toward Groceries This Month

    If we told you that before you head to the grocery store, you could get paid to watch cooking videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.

    No way, right? But we’re serious.

    A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute, you might watch a chef teach you how to make fudge brownies, and the next, you might get the latest celebrity gossip.

    All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut to you.

    Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s possible to earn up to $225 per month watching these videos, which could make a serious dent in your grocery bill.

    It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll get a $5 bonus to get you started.

    The bottom line is, prices at your grocery store are going to keep going up. The price of steak will keep rising.

    Like it or not, that includes the price of everything you eat — including steak.

    If you start following at least a couple of these tips, you’ll put yourself in a better position to handle rising grocery prices. And keep eating steak.

    Any of these strategies will help.

    Just pick one to start with.

    Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He likes his steak medium rare.

    *Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the link provided.

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    Source: thepennyhoarder.com

    Make an Offer on a House in 6 Steps

    It can be hard to find the sweet spot when making an offer on a home, but the home-buying process involves more than naming a price.

    Assuming that you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage and that you’re finding homes in your price range, there’s a usual method to follow in submitting an offer that stands out but also protects you.

    In a red-hot market chock-full of bidding wars, waived contingencies, and cash buyers, a house hunter may end up making multiple offers without success and getting caught up in the frenzy. (One suburban Washington, D.C., fixer-upper attracted 88 offers in four days, 76 of them for all cash, and sold for well over the list price.)

    But let’s imagine a less heated market. Here’s a general guide to submitting an offer that can take you from homebuyer to homeowner.

    Let’s Make a Deal

    1. Determine Your Offer Price

    A home’s listing price is often determined by comparing it to similar homes in the area that are for sale, then adjusting up or down based on additional amenities or detrimental issues. But as the old saying goes, “A home is generally worth what someone is willing to pay for it.”

    You might find a property that’s fairly well priced, but you may want to adjust your offer if you feel that it’s priced too high or needs a lot of work.

    There are lots of things to consider when trying to find the right offer price.

    •  A common way to break down a listing amount is by price per square foot, but that often includes only the heated, livable spaces. A home can (and should) be priced higher than average for the area if it includes extra rooms like a garage or attic, outbuildings, or extra land. Workmanship or permitting can play a role.

    •  Check the home’s history on the multiple listing service. It records every transaction related to the house, including previous buy and sell dates, price fluctuations, and how long the home has been on the market. It can give you a good idea of where the sellers are coming from.

    •  Take a look at other properties in the area that have recently sold. Is the price per square foot more or less than the home you have your eye on? One key to an accurate read on the local market is to ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, garage space, and other amenities.

    2. Incorporate All the Fees

    It can also be important to look at factors not directly related to the price of the property that could affect your overall cash flow. One big consideration is closing costs, which typically average 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home.

    Some closing costs are traditionally split by the buyer and seller, but if you’re short on cash, you may consider a higher offer price as long as the seller pays your portion of the closing costs.

    It’s also important to estimate the amount of money you’ll spend making repairs or changes to the property once you move in. As long as the repairs are not related to health or safety issues, which could affect financing, one tactic could be to lower your offer price in order to free up cash for future upgrades.

    3. Determine Your Earnest Money Deposit

    Earnest money is a good-faith deposit that buyers place with the offer upfront, usually amounting to around 1% to 2% of the offer price, to show that they are serious.

    It’s held in escrow by the title company, and showing purchase intent is one way to help a buyer get to the top of the seller’s list.

    Customs and laws pertaining to an earnest money deposit can vary from state to state, and even from county to county, so it’s important to understand the rules that determine when the money is (and isn’t) refundable.

    4. Protect Yourself With Contingencies

    The time between a signed offer and closing day is called the due diligence period, and it’s when the buyer will normally set up a home inspection and possibly a land survey or other inspections for specialty items, such as a septic system or a pool, and the lender will order an appraisal.

    Because the contract is signed before inspections and the appraisal take place, contingencies give you an out if you discover a deal-breaker.

    Here are the most common contingencies:

    •  Financing. This lays out the specifics of the financing that will be used by the buyer, which must be fully approved by the lender within the contingency period. This protects the buyer in case financing falls through.

    •  Appraisal. If the appraisal comes back lower than the agreed-upon price, the seller and buyer may find themselves renegotiating.

    •  Inspection. The buyer usually has 10 days after signing the contract to order an inspection, and the contingency remains in place until it comes back without uncovering any major issues with the property that were previously unknown. Based on the findings, the buyer can cancel the contract or negotiate repairs or the purchase price.

    •  Title search. A preliminary title report shows the home’s past and present owners and any liens or judgments against the property. If any title disputes are unable to be resolved before closing, you have the option to exit the sale.

    In some situations, the list of contingencies can be long. But once they’re all satisfied and lifted during the given time frames, the option to buy turns into a binding commitment to purchase the home.

    5. Submit a Written Offer

    In real estate, the best way to make an offer official is to put it in writing. If you’re working with a real estate agent, the agent will have a form that you can fill out together that lists the offer price and contingencies and covers all the state rules and regulations.

    If you’re flying solo, working with a real estate lawyer or title company can help to ensure that your offer covers all the necessary legal language and is legally valid.

    This concept goes both ways. As the buyer, it’s a smart idea to make sure all correspondence, counteroffers, and property disclosures are put in writing by the seller as well.

    6. Move Ahead, Move On, or Move Things Around

    Once you submit your written offer, one of three things is likely to happen: The sellers sign the document and enter into a binding contract, they reject the offer outright, or they submit a counteroffer.

    In this last case, the sellers might counter back with changes that are better suited to them. (If your offer includes a price reduction to accommodate repair costs, for example, the seller might ask for the full asking price and offer a credit back at closing instead.)

    A counteroffer puts the ball back in the buyer’s court for approval, rejection, or another counteroffer, and it can keep going back and forth until both parties agree to the terms and sign the document or one party calls it a day.

    What If You Change Your Mind?

    Contingencies give you a way out in the event of some unforeseen issue, but what if you just decide you don’t want the house?

    Although the laws vary by state on this topic as well, in most instances a buyer is allowed to withdraw an offer until the moment the offer is accepted, However, once the offer document is signed by both parties, it’s considered a binding agreement.

    At that point, the sellers may be well within their rights to walk away with your earnest money.

    The Takeaway

    How to make an offer on a house? It pays to understand comps, contingencies, the temperature of the market, earnest money, and counteroffers.

    If you’re just starting to shop for a mortgage, getting a feel for your rate and loan amount might be inspiring.
    SoFi offers fixed-rate home loans with competitive rates and as little as 5% down.

    Find your rate in a snap today.


    SoFi Loan Products
    SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

    SoFi Home Loans
    Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

    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.

    SOMG19027

    Source: sofi.com

    15 Best Ways to Save Money on an RV Road Trip

    According to the RV Industry Association, recreational vehicle vacations are cheaper than other types of vacation travel. Specifically, savings range from 21% to 64% for a four-person trip, whereas two-person trips can be 8% to 53% cheaper.

    But expenses can rack up quickly, whether you’re taking a short RV trip with your family or enjoying the full-time RV lifestyle. Fuel expenses, campground fees, and rental costs alone can put your trip over budget if you aren’t careful.

    If you want to save money on your RV trip, there are several travel tips that can cut costs while letting you travel comfortably and do plenty of sightseeing.

    The Best Ways to Save Money on an RV Road Trip

    Many RV travel money-saving methods involve trimming major costs like gas, food, and rental fees. Additionally, some saving tips are general guidelines you should follow since they help keep your trip low-cost.

    In combination, these RV hacks ensure your next road trip is on budget without having to change your travel plans drastically.

    1. Join RV Clubs

    Joining an RV club is one of the best ways to save money on RV trips, even if you only RV two or three nights per year. RV clubs provide members with perks like discounts on various campgrounds and parks. Some clubs also offer deals at various hotels, mechanics, and insurance companies for members.

    Several leading RV clubs you can join to score discounts include:

    • Boondockers Welcome. This RV club costs $50 per year and lets you find free off-the-grid camping spots from over 2,900 hosts worldwide. Boondockers Welcome also provides members with various discounts for services like RV mobile Internet and additional campgrounds.
    • Escapees RV Club. For $49.95 per year, you get 15% to 50% off at over 800 RV parks. Members also get discounts for certain RV mechanics, insurance, and roadside assistance.
    • Good Sam. Good Sam’s RV club costs $29 per year, making it one of the cheapest RV clubs. Members save 10% on 2,100 partner campgrounds and gas and diesel at Pilot Flying J gas stations. Members also save 15% on propane at Camping World and Gander RV & Outdoors in addition to enjoying merchandise discounts at these two retailers and other Good Sam partners.
    • Harvest Hosts. This RV club costs $99 per year and lets you camp for free at over 2,400 farms, breweries, wineries, and museums across North America.
    • Passport America. For $44 per year, Passport America lets you save 50% at over 1,450 campsites.

    The cheap annual membership and significant campground and RV park savings make these clubs cost-effective. RV campsites generally cost $20 to $50 per night. Even if you RV once per year, getting 10% to 50% off campgrounds can cover your membership cost after two to three nights.

    While planning your RV road trip, check various RV clubs to see if they have partner campgrounds along your route or plan your route based on your membership. RV clubs list campground partners on their websites so you can cross-reference their partners to find affordable camping spots as you drive.

    If you’re a AAA member, you can also take advantage of several RV member discounts (which vary by AAA club) and add RV coverage to unlock perks like:

    • Free RV towing up to a certain number of miles, depending on your level of coverage
    • Flat tire service
    • Fuel delivery service
    • Vehicle locksmith credits
    • Free car rentals
    • Discounts on parts and accessories at partner auto parts stores

    AAA also has other member benefits, depending on your level of coverage and location, and includes roadside assistance. Plus, members get discounts to partners like Carfax, Hertz, Shell, and various hotels.

    Between possible AAA discounts and savings from an RV club, you can reliably save on campground costs and potential vehicle repairs and towing.

    2. Travel Off-Season

    RVing usually involves sightseeing in the cities you drive through. That means paying for extras like park passes, guided tours, and day passes to various attractions.

    But you can save money by traveling off-season. Hotels, parks, and tourist attractions often have cheaper rates during nonpeak tourism season. For example, according to Visit Arizona, lower fall and winter rates for popular attractions include:

    • 40% off lodging for the Canyon de Chelly National Monument
    • 10% off hotels in Flagstaff
    • Lower hotel prices and a better touring experience of the Grand Canyon

    Visiting Phoenix or Tucson in the summer can also save a lot of money since the intense heat wards off more vacationers, so accommodations and tours are less expensive.

    Arizona is just one example, but the same concept applies in other cities, depending on when tourists typically visit.

    3. Shop Around for Affordable RV Rentals

    More than 11 million U.S. households own an RV, according to RV Industry Association data. But for new RV enthusiasts who don’t own their own recreational vehicle, renting is likely the only choice unless you can borrow an RV from someone you know.

    But RV rentals from dealerships can easily cost hundreds of dollars per day if you opt for larger Class-A or Class-C motor homes. Thankfully, the sharing economy has propelled the rise of several Airbnb-style marketplaces where you can rent inexpensive RVs.

    Some popular RV rental websites include Outdoorsy, Rvezy, and RVshare, though there are many other popular RV rental companies.

    The most effective way to save money on an RV rental is to stick with smaller vehicles like camper vans, travel trailers, and Class-B motor homes. On person-to-person RV rental sites, you can usually rent Class-B motor homes for around $100 per day (or even less if you find a deal), and travel trailers can be as cheap as $50 per day.

    It’s one of the most effective ways to save money on rental fees.

    4. Save Money With RV Relocation Deals

    RV dealerships and websites like Cruise America sometimes offer relocation deals. Relocation deals are essentially cheap one-way RV road trips. For example, you might find a relocation deal that asks you to transport an RV from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Seattle, Washington.

    Many relocation deals cost $1 in rental fees or are significantly lower than paying the standard daily rate for the vehicle. Deals also often include a free daily mileage limit and reimburse you for gas. Some deals even throw in free extras like cooking and bedding kits or a meal stipend.

    Several websites where RV dealers list relocation deals include:

    The catch is that you have to reach the drop-off point by a specific date and time. That doesn’t allow for much sightseeing, and you can face late penalties and pay full price for any additional miles and time you spend on the road.

    Some relocation deals let you extend the time you’re driving if you want to move at your own pace. But it’s uncommon, and extending your trip usually means paying full price for each additional day you drive. Plus, since you’re not driving the RV home, you have to find another way home, like booking a cheap flight or hopping on a train.

    Ultimately, relocation deals are the cheapest way to take a speedy RV road trip. But if you want to travel slowly and create your own itinerary, it’s not the right travel choice.

    5. Book Your RV Early

    The last thing you want is to plan an incredible road trip only to find the available RV rentals are all more expensive than you thought. You also want to avoid not being able to rent an RV and having to drive to another city to pick up your rental.

    Start researching RV rental options as early as possible and contact the dealership or RV owner to confirm availability for your travel dates. Booking earlier also helps you lock in lower pricing and gives you time to shop around for cheaper RVs. When you call an RV dealer, also clarify mileage limits and ask questions about what’s included in your rental.

    6. Only Rent Add-Ons You Need

    Buying your own camping supplies or tent is a significant upfront expense, so renting sometimes makes sense if you only road-trip once every few years. But if you’re a frequent RVer and camper, buying your own supplies makes sense. And they sell more than tent add-ons.

    RV dealerships and rental marketplaces often let you rent basic personal supplies. For example, you can rent cooking and bedding kits that come with basic kitchen supplies and necessities like blankets and pillows. The kits are convenient, but they’re also a waste of money.

    For example, a kitchen kit from Cruise America, a popular RV dealership, costs $110. Similarly, personal kits cost $60. If you rent four personal kits, that’s $240 alone in additional fees for your trip.

    Instead of renting, prepare DIY RV kits at home. You can buy inexpensive kitchen and travel supplies from any dollar store. Similarly, bring blankets and sheets from home or purchase extras from Amazon. If you RV multiple times over the next few years, it could result in potentially hundreds of dollars in savings for very little effort.

    You can also buy used camping gear on Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace to avoid paying full price. Or check Nextdoor to see if a neighbor can loan you some supplies or sell you their secondhand goods.

    Other rental options you can skip if you plan ahead include:

    • Campaign chairs
    • Camper stoves
    • Bikes
    • Lawn games

    7. RV Insurance Research

    If you’re renting an RV, you usually pay a daily RV insurance fee alongside the daily rental price. But some companies let you choose how much coverage you have, which influences costs.

    For example, Outdoorsy offers multiple levels of insurance for renters with deductibles depending on the value of the vehicle. Typically, deductibles range from $1,000 to $4,000 for physical damage and comprehensive and collision coverage.

    Similarly, RVshare insurance plans start at around $10 per day for towable RVs with basic collision, weather, and theft coverage. Renters can also upgrade to have additional broken glass and falling object protection for towable RVs starting at $18 per day. Large motor home insurance starts at $20 per day for collision, weather, and theft coverage, but renters can upgrade for broken glass and falling object protection starting at $41 per day.

    When researching RVs to rent, factor in the size of the vehicle and what deductible you’re comfortable with. An otherwise affordable RV trip can become a financial nightmare if you’re suddenly on the hook for a $4,000 deductible because of vehicle damage.

    As for RV owners, finding affordable insurance is also essential. Popular RV insurance companies include National General and Progressive, so start your insurance search by using the online quote tools to compare premiums for your class of motor home.

    Additionally, check your current auto and homeowners insurance provider to see if you can save by bundling motor home insurance with your existing policy. For example, Allstate and Nationwide offer insurance discounts for having multiple policies. Allstate also provides discounts for retirees, and Nationwide becomes cheaper if you pay your policy in full and remain accident-free for 36 months.

    You can also get RV insurance and additional perks like extended roadside assistance if you’re a AAA member and insure your RV through AAA.

    You shouldn’t skimp on RV insurance to save money if it means taking on a higher deductible than you can comfortably afford or risking being on the hook entirely if your RV suffers damages. But like any insurance policy, it pays to shop around and leverage discounts when it makes sense.

    8. Plan Inexpensive Driving Routes

    You’re always going to spend money on a road trip, but the route you take heavily influences how much you spend on things like gas and overnight stays.

    One of the most crucial things to look for when planning is free or cheap campsites. Spending $20 per night versus $50 means hundreds of dollars in savings over your road trip. You still want to find pleasant campsites with electrical, sewage, and water access, if possible, but compare prices to locate the cheapest campsite in each area.

    Other considerations you should have when planning an RV route include:

    • Points of interest along the route
    • Cheap gas station availability
    • Avoiding areas of congestion and toll roads

    Factoring all this data into a trip that spans hundreds or thousands of miles isn’t simple. But you can use RV trip-planning tools to find affordable routes instead of manually researching routes.

    RV Trip Wizard is one planning tool that has over 10 million data points for campgrounds, state parks, and points of interest. The planner also lets you estimate fuel and campground costs. It’s $49 per year, but considering how much time and money you save, it’s worth it.

    RV clubs like Good Sam also let members use a trip-planning tool comparable to RV Trip Wizard. If you’re already a Good Sam’s member, it’s your best choice.

    Finally, Roadtrippers has a free trip-planning tool that lets you create a simple route with five waypoints (overnight stops). It doesn’t let you save many points of interest, but the map still highlights campgrounds, parks, restaurants, and attractions along the way. If you want to save up to 150 points, have offline map access, and view live traffic, Roadtrippers Plus costs $29.99 per year.

    If you don’t want to spend money, you can create your own road trip itinerary using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. RV Leaguers has a free RV itinerary template you can use to record the campgrounds you’re stopping at each night, daytime stops, campground costs, and points of interest to see.

    Regardless of your trip-planning tool, account for mileage limits. Most RV rentals only let you drive a certain number of miles per day before charging mileage overages. Once you know how many miles you can drive per day, create your road trip plan and map out where you’re stopping each night to stay within your limit.

    9. Book Free Campsites

    Campsite expenses can derail an otherwise inexpensive RV trip if you book multiple sites. But one advantage of RV living is that you can set up camp for the night without much notice.

    That flexibility means you can leverage free campgrounds along your route to avoid staying at more expensive parks. Websites like Free Campsites and FreeRoam have a directory of free campgrounds and parks, though the latter focuses on sites without hookups for water, electricity, or your sewage system.

    Additionally, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains information on camping on public land, including info on permits and fees and tips for campsite selection. You can also search BLM partner site Recreation.gov for free spots along your road trip.

    Similarly, you can search the National Forest Foundation’s website to find free public forests to camp in. Some forests require a national park pass from the National Park Service. The pass costs $80 per year, but there’s plenty of free land to camp on.

    In general, if you’re road-tripping across a popular route, you can find free camping spots. Some Walmarts also allow free overnight parking if you have an RV. According to Walmart.com, you should contact store management to ensure the store allows overnight parking. You can find a specific store and phone number with Walmart’s store finder tool. Rest stations along highways are another free overnight RV option.

    10. Try Boondocking

    Boondocking refers to RVing without having hookups to water, electricity, or a sewage system. When you boondock, you’re usually camping overnight on free public land. But even staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot is technically boondocking.

    Boondocking is generally free, so it’s an immediate way to save money on RV travel. In some cases, you must pay an overnight fee if you’re boondocking at a campground, but it’s still cheaper than staying at a campground where you hook up to an electrical, water, and sewage system.

    Just remember to keep an eye on your gray water tank (water waste) and black water tank (regular waste) before boondocking. It’s illegal in most instances to dump gray or black water on the ground, so you need to find a dump station before boondocking if you’re close to full. Truck stops sometimes have dump stations, as do RV parks.

    Being off-grid isn’t for everyone, and if you need a shower at the end of the day or want access to electricity, boondocking isn’t for you. But to save money and potentially enjoy more wilderness during your RV trip, boondocking is a frugal travel trick worth trying.

    11. Save Money on Gas

    One of your most significant RV expenses is fuel. While it has less of an impact on local RV camping or short drives, saving money on gas is a must if you’re planning a major road trip.

    The simplest way to save on gas is to downsize. Class-A and Class-C motor homes consume more fuel than smaller vehicles like Class-B motor homes or camper vans. But even if you need a large RV, you can do things to reduce your overall weight and fuel consumption, such as avoid towing.

    Smaller tricks also help cut fuel costs. For example, using less air conditioning, driving slower, and regularly emptying your waste tank reduce gas consumption.

    You can also refuel at cheaper gas stations along your route. Apps that find low-priced gas include:

    • GetUpside. The GetUpside app lets you save $0.25 per gallon. The primary difference is that your savings don’t apply directly at the pump like with GasBuddy. Rather, you earn cash back that’s redeemable for PayPal cash and free gift cards. You can also earn cash back on groceries and restaurant purchases, which is useful for food shopping during your road trip.
    • GasBuddy. Like GetUpside, you can save up to $0.25 per gallon on gas by using GasBuddy’s gas card. Additionally, the free app helps you find cheap local gas stations along your route. GasBuddy also has a gas cost calculator so you can estimate your fuel costs while planning your trip.
    • Waze. Waze helps you save money on gas by highlighting traffic and accidents so you can avoid congested areas and unnecessary idling. The app also highlights tolls, police, and speed cameras to help you avoid toll fees or potential tickets. Additionally, Waze users can report local gas prices to help other members find cheap gas stations, and the entire app uses real-time feedback from users to help you drive more efficiently.

    GasBuddy and GetUpside are the best apps for finding the cheapest gas and earning cash back for refueling. But you should always drive with Waze to avoid traffic, accidents, and road closures, provided you have unlimited data on your cell plan.

    12. Watch Your Gas Mileage Limits (if Renting)

    When you rent an RV, there’s usually a daily mileage limit you can drive. If you go over that limit, many rental companies charge around $0.35 per additional mile.

    That means going 50 extra miles can cost an additional $17.50 in fees, plus gas. If you go several hundred miles over your limit during your trip, you’re looking at $100 or more in mileage fees.

    13. Use a Cash-Back Credit Card

    Gas rewards cards let you earn cash back at the pump, which is useful for expensive RV refuels. And if you open a card before your trip, you usually benefit from a welcome bonus of extra points for spending a certain amount within the first few months of opening a card.

    And they’re not just useful for gas or RV trips. In addition to getting cash back on regular driving, such as your daily commute and running errands, many come with perks like cash back on groceries and dining, which can also lower the cost of both daily living and your RV trip.

    Some popular gas rewards credit cards include:

    • American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card. Get 3% back on gas and transit costs and 6% cash back on groceries (up to $6,000) and dining plus cash back on everything else. This card also comes with a hefty six-month spending bonus and 20% cash back from Amazon for the first six months. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. Read our American Express Blue Cash Preferred card review for more.
    • Citi Premier Card. This card lets you earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining, gas, groceries, and travel. You also get 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 within the first three months of becoming a cardholder, so it’s wise to open this card right before heading off on your road trip and spending on road trip preparations. The primary downside is that there’s a $95 annual fee. Read our Citi Premier card review for more.
    • U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card: Get 4 points per $1 spent on travel and gas plus 2 points per $1 spent on groceries and dining purchases. There’s also a 50,000-point bonus for spending $3,000 within your first four months, so open this card before your trip. This card waves the $95 annual fee for your first year. Read our U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature card review for more.

    Depending on your shopping habits, more specific gas credit cards you already have can also help you save during your road trip. For example, the Costco Anywhere Visa® card by Citi lets Costco members earn 4% cash back on gas on their first $7,000 in gas spending at Costco gas stations and other qualifying stations. You also earn 3% cash back on travel and restaurant purchases, which is useful for road trip dining or occasional hotel stays. Read our Costco Anywhere Visa card review for more details.

    Similarly, the BP Visa credit card lets you save $0.10 per gallon at participating BP and Amoco gas stations. Cardholders also get 3% cash back on grocery store purchases, so it’s a well-rounded card to have on your road trip if your route passes numerous BP and Amoco gas stations.

    As you plan your trip, think about how you can use your current credit cards to maximize savings for travel costs like fuel and food. If you don’t have a cash-back credit card, choose a card that helps you save on your road trip and regular purchasing habits. For example, there’s little point in getting the BP card just because there are savings opportunities along your route if you don’t have a BP or Amoco station near your home. Other cards can provide similar benefits.

    14. Prepare Your Own Food and Drinks

    One of the fastest ways to turn a cheap RV trip into an expensive vacation is to eat out for your meals. For example, daily restaurant spending for a family of four quickly adds up (prices approximate).

    • Breakfast at Dunkin’: $11.80 (two medium coffees, two apple juices, and four doughnuts)
    • Lunch at Subway: $21 (four 6-inch subs of the day plus drinks)
    • Dinner at Cracker Barrel: $50 (four daily dinner specials plus nonalcoholic drinks)

    Total Cost: $83

    Even if you make breakfast in your RV and occasionally cook lunches and dinner, eating out gets expensive quickly.

    It’s easy to cook your own meals if your motor home comes with a kitchen. But even if you’re in a smaller vehicle without a kitchen, you can buy an affordable two-burner camping stove for under $80 on Amazon. You can also buy bundles of firewood for around $5 at most campgrounds or find dry kindling and logs in the woods and cook the old-fashioned way over an outdoor campfire.

    When you’re set up to cook yourself, daily food costs for a family of four get much more budget-friendly.

    • Breakfast: $2 (two instant coffees with creamer, two juice boxes, and four packets of instant oatmeal)
    • Lunch: $8 (ham, lettuce, and cheese sandwiches with two water bottles and two juice boxes)
    • Dinner: $14 (pasta with sausages, a side Caesar salad, and fruit juice)

    Total Cost: $24

    The same premise applies to alcohol. For example, if you go out at night for drinks, you’re likely spending around $5 or $6 for domestic beer and $8 for import beer, depending on where you go. In contrast, a 24-pack of Heineken from Walmart costs around $27, or just over $1 per beer. That’s around 500% to 600% less than paying for drinks at a bar or restaurant.

    Desserts and snacks are other areas to save on food. Rather than going to Dairy Queen and spending $18 on four medium Blizzards, buy ingredients for s’mores from the grocery store instead. A package of marshmallows, graham crackers, and a chocolate bar is around $7 at Walmart, and you can use the ingredients for several nights of snacking before running out.

    By dining in, you can likely save 50% to 75% or more on food and drink costs for your RV trip. Additionally, if you use various grocery saving tricks like shopping with reward apps like Fetch Rewards or Ibotta, you can trim costs even more. Plus, if you’re traveling with kids, RV cooking is an excellent bonding and educational experience.

    15. Save Money on Maintenance and Repairs

    One way to derail a cheap RV trip is to let simple repairs force you off the road and into a mechanic’s shop. Like all vehicles, RVs inevitably experience wear and tear and need repairs. But that doesn’t mean you should spend a fortune.

    If you’re an owner or rent frequently or long-term, learn how to maintain your vehicle properly to prevent damage. For example, you should apply RV roof sealant once per year to reduce the risk of leaks. Similarly, many RV generators suggest changing the oil every 100 to 150 hours (around four to six days) of usage.

    DIY repairs also let you save money on your RV. Examples of DIY RV fixes include tasks like fixing clogs in your plumbing system with a plumbing snake, replacing a flat tire, or even break repair.

    But stay within your comfort zone. Don’t tackle a problem if you don’t know what you’re doing since with certain tasks, such as electrical fixes, you risk worsening the situation and self-injury.

    If you break down on the road, your only real option is to tow your RV to a local mechanic for repairs. That’s why having roadside assistance or complimentary towing with a company like AAA is beneficial. According to RVshare, it’s a smart move to shop around at RV mechanics if you encounter serious issues, so if possible, call several mechanics and get preliminary quotes before towing your RV.

    But maintenance is still the best preventative measure, so a resource like “The RV Handbook” by Dave Solberg is a must-read for RV owners. If you don’t know how to do DIY repairs, take your RV to a local mechanic before departing to get an inspection and possible tune-up. That’s especially crucial for older vehicles and vehicles you haven’t serviced regularly.


    Final Word

    RV life isn’t for everyone, and for many, an all-inclusive vacation on a Caribbean beach probably sounds more fun than driving across the country, camping in the wilderness as you go.

    But for RV enthusiasts, RVing can truly become a way of life. But it’s always important to stick to a travel budget and find ways to save on your vacation where you can.

    At the very least, focus on the most impactful cost-cutting areas, like saving on food costs, gas, and campgrounds. As long as you can trim most of the fat from your RV travel costs, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the RV lifestyle without harming your finances.

    Source: moneycrashers.com

    A Woman’s Guide to Long-Term Care

    Women face unique challenges as they age. According to the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington based think tank, women live about seven years more than men. Living longer means planning for a longer retirement. That sounds good, but a longer retirement increases the odds of needing long-term care. A 2004 AARP study found more than 70% of nursing home residents were women.

    Living longer also increases the odds of going it alone, as living longer may mean outliving a spouse. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, “In 2018 women comprised 74% of solo households age 80 and over.”

    For these reasons, women should think about how to plan for long-term care.

    Ability to pay

    Long-term care is costly. The average private room at a long-term care facility is over $13K a month in my home state of Connecticut, according to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey. Florida is a little cheaper. In the Naples area a private room is about $11K a month.

    Of course, there are ways to keep the cost down, like paying for care at home. Home health care is about $5K a month in Naples, Fla. (Genworth 2020 figures). Multiply these numbers by 1.44 years – the average duration of care for women, according to the study – and these numbers can get big fast.

    Medicare and Medicaid

    Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are tricky. Medicare may cover some long-term care expenses, but only for the first 100 days. Medicare does not pay for custodial care – at home long-term care. Medicaid pays for long-term care, but you must qualify financially. Also, most long-term care facilities in my experience only have a set number of Medicaid beds available.

    Spending down an estate to qualify for Medicaid is one way to pay for long-term care, but it’s not ideal in my opinion.

    The risk the facility you want is not available for Medicaid recipients looms large. Also, to qualify for Medicaid may leave you financially destitute, not ideal after a lifetime of working. Finally, the rules for Medicaid can change. For some, Medicaid is the only option. For others, who have time on their side and the resources available, now is the time to start planning.

    Run the Retirement Projections

    The first step when mapping out a road trip on a GPS is to enter in your starting and destination point. It’s the same with retirement and long-term care planning. When I take on a new client, we always review the retirement projections. We start with an ideal scenario. This may mean both spouses live long happy lives. Or it could mean no long-term care is needed. Then I play a series of “what-if” scenarios. What-if the husband passes early? How does that impact their retirement? What if a female client lives to 100? Will she have enough to live on? What-if a single woman needs long-term care for dementia? Alzheimer’s and dementia can last for years, wreaking havoc on a retiree’s nest egg. I always stress test the ideal scenario.

    Below is one example. In the base or ideal scenario, the client had a modest retirement success rate of 78% out of 100%. The higher the success rate, the better the chance the client does not run out of money. However, the odds drastically decrease when we plug in a long-term care expense for two years at her age 86.

    Side-by-side pie charts show a woman as a 78% retirement success rate with no long-term care needs, but only a 29% rate if two years of care are needed at age 86.Side-by-side pie charts show a woman as a 78% retirement success rate with no long-term care needs, but only a 29% rate if two years of care are needed at age 86.

    Planning for long-term care

    The outputs drive the recommendations. If a female client has a high retirement success rate – even with the long-term care expenses added into the analysis – then she may want to self-insure her future long-term care expenses. Self-insuring can mean setting up a designated long-term care investment account solely to be used for future long-term care expenses. This account can be a brokerage account or IRA or health savings account if available. Long-term care costs have increased by about 3%-5% over the years, a diversified portfolio is a smart way to keep pace with inflation.

    If a female client has a modest degree of retirement success, like in the example above, the planning may be slightly different. The woman in this example may want to decrease current expenses to save more for the future. She may also want to review long-term care insurance. I may recommend in this scenario some combination of both – self-insuring and purchasing a small long-term care policy. The long-term care insurance is a backstop – preventing her from completely depleting her nest egg in the event of a long, protracted illness.

    Some states also offer “partnership plans.” A partnership long-term care plan is a private insurance policy with a special perk. The plan allows an individual to keep some of the nest egg and still qualify for Medicaid. For example, if a partnership long-term care plan pays $300K in long-term care benefits, then $300K of personal investments or cash may be excluded from the Medicaid qualifying calculation. This is helpful if you do end up needing Medicaid to pay for long-term care.

    Partnership plans have specific policy provisions like inflation protection. It’s best to seek help from a qualified agent familiar with partnership plans.

    Other planning implications

    Women can also consider delaying taking Social Security till age 70. If women live longer, the extra benefits accrued by waiting can help with long-term care. Women with a higher-earning husband may want to encourage the higher-earning spouse to delay until age 70 if appropriate. When the higher-earning spouse passes away, the widow can step into the higher benefit.

    The average break-even age is generally around 77-83 for Social Security. If an individual can live longer than 83, the more dollars and sense it makes to delay collecting till age 70.

    Finally, getting the right estate documents in order is a must. Women – and men – should have a power of attorney (POA). A POA gives a trusted individual the ability to write checks and send money to pay for long-term care. Women and men should also have a “trusted contact” on all their investment accounts. A trusted contact cannot transact money but is notified in the event of suspected elder abuse or fraud.

    The moral of the story is to start planning! Women especially need to think about the impact a longer life can have on their retirement. Start with running the retirement projections. Play the “what-if” scenarios. The more a prospective client procrastinates, the fewer options are generally available. A change in health could prevent someone from qualifying for long-term care insurance. Delaying saving for a future long-term care expense can mean less growth on the investment.

    When it comes to planning, patience is often not a virtue. Delaying or kicking the can down the road may prove costly.

    For more information or to discuss your retirement and long-term care, please send me an email at maloi@sfr1.com.

    Further reading: 3 Ways to Pay for Long-term Care

    CFP®, Summit Financial, LLC

    Michael Aloi is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Practitioner and Accredited Wealth Management Advisor℠ with Summit Financial, LLC.  With 17 years of experience, Michael specializes in working with executives, professionals and retirees. Since he joined Summit Financial, LLC, Michael has built a process that emphasizes the integration of various facets of financial planning. Supported by a team of in-house estate and income tax specialists, Michael offers his clients coordinated solutions to scattered problems.

    Investment advisory and financial planning services are offered through Summit Financial, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser, 4 Campus Drive, Parsippany, NJ 07054. Tel. 973-285-3600 Fax. 973-285-3666. This material is for your information and guidance and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Clients should make all decisions regarding the tax and legal implications of their investments and plans after consulting with their independent tax or legal advisers. Individual investor portfolios must be constructed based on the individual’s financial resources, investment goals, risk tolerance, investment time horizon, tax situation and other relevant factors. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to Summit Financial LLC. The Summit financial planning design team admitted attorneys and/or CPAs, who act exclusively in a non-representative capacity with respect to Summit’s clients. Neither they nor Summit provide tax or legal advice to clients.  Any tax statements contained herein were not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state or local taxes.

    Source: kiplinger.com

    The Cheapest Places to Live in Wisconsin

    Most people think of cheese or the Green Bay Packers when they think of Wisconsin but don’t always realize this Midwest state includes cities with vibrant communities, a strong cultural scene, gorgeous outdoor spaces to enjoy (and if you like snow and winter, even better) and cheap places to live.

    If making a move to or within Wisconsin is in your near future, there are some cities to consider at all price points. Here are the 10 cheapest places to live in Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin average rent prices

    While some cities throughout Wisconsin have experienced a significant increase in rent over the past year, fortunately, most cities have kept their rent increases below double-digit percentages and some rent prices reduced immensely. In fact, Wisconsin as a whole has seen a monthly rent decrease in the last year. Luckily, the average one-bedroom apartment is $1,151 — down 5.7 percent since last year.

    The cheapest cities in Wisconsin for renters

    Budget-conscious renters can expect to pay between $726 to $1,028 for a one-bedroom apartment in the top 10 cheapest cities in Wisconsin.

    If living in one of the most hospitable Midwest states is on your agenda, here are the 10 cheapest cities to live in Wisconsin, based on current one-bedroom rent prices.

    10. Waterford

    cheapest places to live in wisconsin

    Photo Source: Explore Waterford / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $1,028
    • Average rent change in the past year: 0 percent

    Situated between Milwaukee and Lake Geneva in the southeastern part of Wisconsin is Waterford, a city that includes 1,100 acres of navigable water to enjoy by canoe or kayak. The family-friendly community actively hosts farmer’s markets, golf outings, corn hole tournaments and more to residents.

    If you want to live in a tight-knit and community-oriented city, complete with a downtown Heritage District, Waterford is worth exploring.

    Find apartments to rent in Waterford
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    9. Marshfield

    Wisconsin.

    Photo Source: Visit Marshfield / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $975
    • Average rent change in the past year: 8.9 percent

    For those who want a bit of a suburban feel but easy access to cities like Stevens Point, Marshfield provides residents with a great healthcare system through the Marshfield Clinic Health System, strong elementary and high schools and great “Main Street” shopping along Central Avenue, too.

    The city even has its own free zoo — the Wildwood Park and Zoo.

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    8. Kronenwetter

    cheapest places to live in wisconsin

    Photo source: Village of Kronenwetter, WI / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $971
    • Average rent change in the past year: N/A

    Next on our list of the cheapest places to live in Wisconsin is one that’s really a village in Central Wisconsin called Kronenwetter. The town of Kronenwetter gets its name from Sebastian Kronenwetter — a state legislator and prominent pioneer resident of Marathon County.

    Residents enjoy several parks and recreation centers throughout the area and the village serves two public school districts: one that serves students in the northern half of the village and one for the southern half.

    The active village residents help plan events ranging from movies under the stars in nearby parks to farmers markets.

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    7. Waukesha

    cheapest places to live in wisconsin

    Photo source: The City of Waukesha / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $970
    • Average rent change in the past year: -2.5 percent

    The city of Waukesha is a rich mix of neighborhoods, offering residents excellent schools, a variety of shopping choices, a diverse industrial base, an active arts community and beautiful parks and recreational amenities.

    Just 18 miles west of Milwaukee, it has an urban suburb feel filled with young professionals and families attracted to the strong school system, parks and restaurants.

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    6. De Pere

    Wisconsin.

    Photo source: De Pere Parks, Rec & Forestry / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $894
    • Average rent change in the past year: 9 percent

    Whether you love to go on long walks or hikes, runs, cycling or in-line skating, there is a trail for you to enjoy in De Pere since it has three separate trail systems of almost eight miles to enjoy year-round.

    Here, swimmers can enjoy either the VFW Aquatic Facility or Legion Pool. Additionally, in De Pere, art lovers will appreciate the rich public art throughout the city. Moreover, this suburb of Green Bay has its own unique homes and restaurants, schools and shops.

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    5. Fond Du Lac

    Snowy Wisconsin.

    Photo source: Fond du Lac County Historical Society / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $789
    • Average rent change in the past year: -1.4 percent

    A family-friendly community with a strong sense of history, Fond du Lac residents enjoy several amenities including a public library and active sporting centers with year-round programming. With all that said, Fond du Lac is a perfect city to call home.

    The Fond du Lac County Historical Society helps connect residents to the town’s local history and there are plenty of restaurants and bars for locals and visitors to enjoy.

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    4. Hales Corner

    Hales Corners, Wisconsin.

    Photo source: Hales Corners Recreation Department / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $785
    • Average rent change in the past year: -7.70 percent

    Located just over 10 miles from Milwaukee, Hales Corner in the state’s southeastern part has a small suburban feel where it’s easy to meet and get to know your neighbors.

    Expect to find great brewpubs, greenery in the form of parks and hiking trails and even a botanical garden here. The Boerner Botanical Gardens features 11 specialty gardens — including a bog walk and rose garden, too.

    A one-bedroom apartment in Hales Corner decreased by 7.7 percent since last year. Fortunately for renters here, it’s possible to find an apartment for less than $800 a month.

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    3. Merrill

    Wisconsin.

    Photo source: City of Merrill, Wisconsin / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $778
    • Average rent change in the past year: 17.3 percent

    Nicknamed “The City of Parks,” thanks to its many parks located throughout Merrill, the city is also home to approximately 10,000 residents. Merrill is on the Wisconsin and Prairie rivers.

    The active community hosts several year-round events for its residents, from a farmers market to parades. Since there are so many parks and nearby rivers to enjoy, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities from fishing and kayaking to hiking and birding, too.

    Merrill is also home to several businesses included Agra Industries, Church Mutual Insurance Company, Lincoln Wood Products and Merrill Manufacturing.

    Find apartments for rent in Merrill

    2. Racine

    racine wi

    • Average 1-BR rent price: $758
    • Average rent change in the past year: 1.20 percent

    Located on the shore of Lake Michigan and just 22 miles south of Milwaukee, Racine takes advantage of its proximity to the lake with many opportunities to enjoy lakefront activities, whether it’s yoga or swimming at one of its popular beaches or canoeing or kayaking.

    Art and architecture fans will appreciate having close access to the Racine Art Museum, home to the country’s largest contemporary crafts while visitors from all over the world make the trek to Racine to see the S.C. Johnson’s world-renowned architecture headquarters, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

    And, of course, residents have bragging rights to kringle, the oval-shaped Danish pastry produced mostly in bakeries in Racine County. Furthermore, you can’t come to Racine without having a kringle or two.

    Its downtown area is charming and filled with independent boutiques and restaurants. In addition to being home to S.C. Johnson, other businesses such as Twin Disc, Modine and In-Sink-Erator have locations in Racine.

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    1. Wisconsin Rapids

    wisconsin rapids wi

    Photo source: Wisconsin Rapids Downtown Farmers Market / Facebook
    • Average 1-BR rent price: $726
    • Average rent change in the past year: 13.1 percent

    Most people don’t know cranberries grown in the United States come from Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington and the Wisconsin Rapids area is well-known as cranberry country.

    Besides cranberries, Wisconsin Rapids is an attraction magnet. There is the award-winning Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers, a show waterski team, the Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo and even the Tri-City Curling Club, one of only 80 facilities in the country that offers training and competitions for locals and visitors to enjoy.

    Additionally, Wisconsin Rapids is also known for its arts and cultural institutions. A downtown farmers market takes place twice a week from early June through end of September, as well as many unique shopping opportunities and family-operated restaurants, cafes, food trucks and taverns.

    Luckily, there is no shortage of fun and activities in the Wisconsin Rapids area and more people flock to this area as a one-bedroom apartment increased in rent by more than 13 percent over the past year. Even with the double-digit increase, it’s possible to find a place for around $726 a month.

    Find apartments for rent in Wisconsin Rapids
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    The most expensive places to live in Wisconsin

    It’s possible to find a one-bedroom apartment in Wisconsin for less than $1,500 a month. Even some of the most expensive places to live in Wisconsin, such as Saint Francis or Kenosha, offer a one-bedroom apartment for $1,469 and $1,436 respectively.

    If budget is a concern, here are some of the most expensive places to live in Wisconsin.

    Methodology

    Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of June 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

    We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.

    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