What is Debt Consolidation and How Does it Work?

If you’re repaying a variety of different debts to different lenders, keeping track of them and making payments on-time each month can be a hassle. It isn’t just tough to keep track of these various debts, it’s also difficult to know which debts to prioritize in order to fast track your debt repayment. After all, each of your cards or loans have different interest rates, minimum payments, payment due dates, and loan terms.

credit card debt.

It consolidates all of those existing loans into one loan, which means you go from having several monthly payments and various interest rates to just one. This is not the same as debt or credit relief, where a credit counselor helps you reduce interest rates or eliminate debt altogether. Credit relief programs can help you consolidate your debt, but they aren’t getting you a new loan—it’s only consolidation.

While you are able to consolidate many different types of loans, the process for consolidating student loans is different. Keep reading to understand how they are different.

Applying For a Debt Consolidation Loan

When choosing a debt consolidation loan, look for one that has an interest rate and terms that fit into your overall financial picture. The overall goal when consolidating debt is to save you money, either on interest in the long term, or on monthly payments in the short term (which may end up making it more costly over the life of the loan).

Once you apply and are approved for a debt consolidation loan, it may take anywhere from a few days to a week to get your money. Sometimes the lenders will pay your debts off directly, other times they will send you the loan money, and you’ll pay the debts off yourself.

The Benefits Of Debt Consolidation

The most significant benefit of consolidating debt is that it is possible to qualify for a more competitive interest rate, which could help save money over the life of the loan. Debt consolidation loans tend to come with lower interest rates than credit cards.

A debt consolidation loan may be an option to consider if your monthly payments are feeling way too high. When you take out a new loan, you can extend the term length to reduce how much you pay every month.

It’s important to note that the longer the term length of your loan, the more you’re likely to pay in interest over the life of your loan. Still, if you’re struggling with your monthly payments, it might be worth it to consolidate your debt and extend your repayment timeline. This way, you won’t be struggling to stay afloat every month, and you’re less likely to miss payments.

Alternately, you could shorten your term length if you’re trying to aggressively pay off your debt and get rid of it more quickly. This could help reduce the cost of interest over the life of the loan.

Consolidating could potentially help improve your credit score. That’s because if you carry debt on credit cards or lines of credit, your score might suffer if you’re using more than 20% to 30% of your available credit. By taking out a consolidation loan and depending on how much you qualify for, you could be creating more available credit, instead of racking up a credit card tab.

Finally, if some of your current debts are secured loans, debt consolidation might be worth considering because they are typically unsecured loans. With secured loans, you use an asset like a home or car to guarantee the loan. If something happens and you cannot repay the loan, then the bank can seize the asset that is acting as collateral. An unsecured debt consolidation loan can help you avoid putting other assets on the line.

Consolidating Credit Card Debt

Tired of dealing with mounting credit card debt? Consolidating credit card debt is the most obvious form of debt consolidation. This is because people can save a considerable amount by consolidating their high interest credit card debt with a new lower-interest loan.

The first step is generally applying for a credit card consolidation loan. There are many banks, credit unions, and online lenders who offer loans for consolidating debt. In some cases, the application process can be completed online.

Credit Card Interest Calculator.

For example, say a borrower has $10,000 on a credit card, paying 20% in interest, and the minimum payment is 4%. If they pay the minimum statement balance each month, it would take 171 months, or 14 years and three months, to pay it back. It would cost a total of $6,989.36 in interest.

But if you consolidate that debt with a new loan that has an 8% interest rate and a 10-year term, you will pay $4,559.31 in interest. Not only would you save money in interest by consolidating your credit card debt, but you could potentially improve your credit score by paying back your consolidated loan on time.

Who is Eligible for a Personal Loan for Debt Consolidation?

Borrowers who have one or more sources of debt where the interest rate is higher than 10%, it may be worth exploring a personal loan. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a lower interest rate, you can’t know unless you get quotes from a few lenders. (And these days, it’s a pretty painless process because lenders often offer quotes online. If it proves difficult, find yourself a different lender.)

Those with the best credit scores will typically qualify for the best rates on their new personal loans, but don’t let an average or even low score keep you from requesting quotes. This is especially true if you have more than $10,000 in credit card debt and those cards charge exorbitant interest rates.

Also know that credit score isn’t the only data point that’ll be considered in determining whether someone qualifies for a loan and at what rate. Potential lenders typically also consider employment history and salary, and other financial information they deem important in determining loan-worthiness.

A personal loan isn’t for everyone. If you’re doing it only for convenience and there isn’t a legitimate financial motive, it’s probably not worth it. Instead, focus that energy on paying back the money you owe as efficiently as possible.

While personal loans can be a great tool to reduce interest payments, it doesn’t reduce the actual debt you owe. If you’re looking to get out of debt so you can focus on other financial goals, but the interest rates on your debt are making it nearly impossible, a personal loan could be helpful.

When Consolidating Debt Makes Sense

Which types of debt make the most sense to consolidate? Any debt that has high interest rates or unappealing terms. If the loan term is longer than you want it to be, if the interest rate is variable and you’d prefer fixed, if your loan is secured and you’d rather it not be attached to collateral—these are all reasons that might merit debt consolidation.

There are many loans to consolidate debt, but some may have their drawbacks. Make sure you shop around when looking for consolidation lenders, and only choose a reputable lender that you know you can trust.

Some people considering a personal loan feel overwhelmed by having multiple debt payments every month. A personal loan could lighten this load for two reasons. For one, it may be possible to lower the interest paid on the debt, which means it’s potentially possible to save money in interest over time.

Secondly, it can also make it possible to opt for a shorter term, which could mean paying off credit card debt years ahead of schedule. If it’s possible to get lower interest than you have on your current debt, or a shorter term on your debt to pay it off faster, a personal loan could be worth looking into.

On the other hand, you’ll also want to be careful about fees that might come with your new loan, separate from the interest rate you’ll pay. For example, some online lenders charge a fee just to take out a personal loan, and some don’t, so you’ll want to do your research.

Debt Consolidation for Student Loans

It’s possible to consolidate student loans like other forms of debt. Consolidating student loans with a private lender is often referred to as “refinancing.”

If you have only federal student loans, you can consolidate them with a Direct Consolidation Loan. This program allows borrowers to combine all their federal loan into a single, consolidated loan. The new interest rate is the weighted average of the existing loans, so it won’t result in a decreased interest rate. Direct Consolidation loans still qualify for many federal loan protections and programs.

Borrowers with both private and federal loans are able to roll them all into one refinanced loan with a private lender. Student loan refinancing could potentially allow you to qualify for a lower interest rate than the federal loan consolidation program.

The major drawback is that refinancing your federal loans with a private lender means you give up your federal student loan protections, including access to the income-driven repayment programs, deferment, and forbearance.

The Takeaway

Debt consolidation allows borrowers to combine a variety of debts, like credit cards, into a new loan. Ideally, this new loan has a lower interest rate or more preferable terms to help streamline the repayment process.

In the long term, debt consolidation could potentially help people spend less money over the life of the loan, if they are able to secure a lower interest rate on the consolidation loan.

One type of debt consolidation is student loan refinancing. This could help borrowers streamline their student loan repayment by consolidating debt into one loan. Depending on the terms and interest rates, borrowers could also spend less money in interest long-term.

Thinking about consolidating your debt or refinancing your student loans? SoFi loans can help you get there—and may save you money along the way.



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IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website on credit.
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Source: sofi.com

5 Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Whether you’re a social butterfly or a homebody, getting friendly with the folks next door will make your new house feel like home.

Leaving friends and neighbors behind can be the toughest part of moving to a new home.

These five tips will help you make connections and settle into your new community in no time.

1. Knock, knock

For an extrovert, walking over to a neighbor’s home to say hello may feel like a no-brainer. But for more reserved personalities, this tried-and-true method usually requires a bit of a warmup.

Start with a friendly wave as you drive by, then work your way up to a face-to-face introduction. Remember, timing is everything. You don’t want to disturb your neighbors in the middle of dinner or while they’re struggling to get a fussy toddler down for the night.

Try to catch them when they’re already outside, or aim for a weekend afternoon when everyone is much more likely to be relaxed and open to a brief, friendly chat.

2. Snail mail

Can’t work up the nerve to knock on doors? In this age of electronic communication, a nice handwritten note can be a welcome surprise.

Write a few lines for your closest neighbors, introducing yourself and inviting them over for a cup of coffee or cocktail at their convenience.

Be sure to personalize each note by including a small conversation starter (e.g., the roses in front of your home are absolutely stunning! We’re poodle lovers too!), then drop your letters at your neighbors’ front door or in their mailbox.

3. Magic school bus

If you’ve got school-age children, accompany them to the bus stop for the first few days of class.

You’re likely to run into at least one other parent who can fill you in on both neighborhood and school happenings — and people love to talk about their kids, so you won’t have to worry about awkward silences and finding common ground.

Exchange contact info and invite the family over for some weekend fun.

4. Man’s best friend

Our pets often are the friendliest members of the family, so let your four-legged companion break the ice for you.

Dog parks are a natural spot for meeting new friends, both canine and human. You can also meet fellow pet lovers while walking your dog through your neighborhood — cleaning up any messes, of course.

You can get recommendations for trails, vets and parks, as well as ask about any pet-themed meetups in the area.

5. Turn the page

Don’t let the name fool you: Book clubs are as much about socializing as they are about reading.

Check out your library or local bookstore for groups near you, or you can find one online. If possible, contact the host ahead of time to ask whether you should bring any refreshments (wine!), and come armed with a few key insights about the book and recommendations for the next session.

Who knows? You could pick the next talk of the town.

Bonus: life of the party

Once you’ve made a few connections, team up to host a neighborhood block party. Volunteer to handle snacks and other logistics, and ask your more established neighbors to spread the word.

Pick a seasonal theme — hot dogs and lemonade for summer, cookies and warm cider for fall — and spend an afternoon meeting new friends and getting the inside scoop on the best places to eat and play near your new home.

Before you call it a day, pass the torch to another neighbor and make the block party a new tradition.

Related:

Originally published September 3, 2015.

Source: zillow.com

Pros and Cons of using Gas Credit Cards

The choice on whether to go for gas credit cards or use other financial tools at the pump is not an easy one. This cashless system is marketed as a convenient and easy way to fuel your car. That said; there are high rates and other limitations to contend with. To help you make an informed decision, here are the pros and cons of using gas credit cards.

Pros

Discounts on Purchases

Gas Credit CardsGas Credit CardsOne of the driving factors of having a gas credit card is the discounts associated with their use. With most of these cards you get to pay less per gallon than the fuel pump price. Considering the ever increasing gas prices, this cash backs can go a long way in saving you money which can go towards other purchases.

These programs are structured in a way that you get larger discounts during the first few months after card issuance. For example, the ExxonMobil fuel card offers 12 cents off per gallon for the first 2 months and 6 cents off thereafter.

Accumulating Reward Points

Another incentive to using a fuel card is the reward program. These are points per gallon that you accumulate with each gas purchase. A typical reward of 1 point per gallon gives the average American driver about 540 points yearly. This calculation is based on an estimate of 25 Miles/Gallon and 13,476mi which is the average annual miles per driver. Reward points can be redeemed once they accumulate to 100 and over. These can be used for gas or other needs like snacks and carwashes at select businesses.

A Hassle-free and Convenient Payment System

When using cash, one has to line up at the till to pay for gas. This can lose you precious time from your busy life. However with a gas card, all you need is to pull up at the gas station, fuel and swipe at the pump and in a few minutes you are back on the road.

Another plus on using a gas card is the convenience that it offers. This comes in handy because you may not always have cash to fuel your car. Just like other credit cards, you get billed at the end of the month for your purchases. This helps you in keeping track of your gas bill; essentially making you stick to your budget.

Cons

High Interest Rates

One of the major disadvantages of using a gas credit card is the high interest rates that they attract. On average they charge 24% on interest. That is 9 percentages points more than the average rate for all credit cards which is currently at 15% APR. A card whose balance is not cleared at the end of the month can end up accruing a sizable debt. This may be much more than the discounts and rewards can make up for.

Simply put, continued misuse of the card can lower your credit score. One of way to mitigate this is going for cards with a 0% introductory offer. This will at least cushion you for a few months as you get your gas budget in order.

Ease of Spending

When using cash, you can’t gas your car with more than what is in your wallet. A gas card on the other hand eliminates this ‘inconvenience’. However the card can lead to uncontrollable spending with total disregard to your budget.

Think of it this way; without gas money, you will probably have to do with public transport. This will unconsciously save you money when you are cash-strapped. But why would you go through the hassle if that small plastic card can fill up your tank?

Usage Limitations

If you depend on your credit card for all your fueling, you may find yourself with fewer options on where to buy. This is because the cards are mostly issued by gas stations to be used in their own branded outlets. This puts you at a disadvantage if you move or drive to a state where the brand doesn’t operate, or has few outlets.

Bottom Line

Gas credit cards are a convenient way of fueling your car. They come with reward points and can save you money via their discount programs. The advantages can however be diminished by high interest rates and the danger of overspending. It is therefore advisable to weigh both the pros and cons before you make your decision.

Source: creditabsolute.com

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2021

The story of the state (technically Commonwealth) of Pennsylvania has three parts: the eastern metropolis of Philadelphia, the Midwest river city of Pittsburgh and the vast land in-between with a slew of mid-sized historic and revitalized northeastern cities.

But from the Delaware Valley to the Lehigh Valley, the Ohio River Valley to the Wyoming Valley, there are innumerable places to call home, whether in Wawa country or Sheetz land. Here is our list of the 10 best places to live in Pennsylvania.

Allentown, PA.

  • Population: 120,139
  • Average age: 38.36
  • Median household income: $41,167
  • Average commute time: 29.03 minutes
  • Walk score: 59
  • Studio average rent: $1,379
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,395
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,599

The Allentown of today is nowhere near the hulking coal and refinery town Billy Joel sang about. But while the factories did shut down long ago, you still can’t keep a good man down. Allentown is one of only three cities in Pennsylvania with a population of over 100,000. Equidistant from Philadelphia and Scranton, Allentown is a big city with a lot more to offer than many realize.

The westernmost of the Lehigh Valley’s tri-cities, Allentown is a story of reinvention. When manufacturing disappeared, Allentown had to revitalize itself for modern-day living. As a result, the city’s downtown received honors from the Urban Land Institute as a “national success story” for its transformation.

As a rebuilt service economy, many companies call Allentown headquarters, including several in the energy industry. While downtown is rife with office buildings and corporate campuses, retail is more found around Allentown’s several large shopping malls in and near the city.

However, sports, always a big deal in the Lehigh Valley, are drivers in changing that. The areas around its popular minor league venues are becoming shopping, nightlife and dining hubs. Hockey’s Phantoms, top minor league affiliate for the Flyers, play downtown at the seven-year-old PPL Center and baseball’s IronPigs, a Phillies farm club, take the field at Coca-Cola Park across the river on Allentown’s East Side.

Bethlehem, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 75,236
  • Average age: 42.01
  • Median household income: $55,809
  • Average commute time: 29.29 minutes
  • Walk score: 64
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,182
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,391

Much as its neighbor to the west had to do, the steel city of Bethlehem also found itself having to reinvent. Now, Bethlehem is the arts and entertainment hub of Lehigh Valley.

A case in point is the iconic Bethlehem Steel. The former world’s largest steel company operated in the city for nearly 150 years, from 1857 to 2003. Today, the site of the former mill is now home to cultural works the size of Disneyland.

The vast SteelStacks district consists of the ArtsQuest performing arts center and three outdoor music venues including Levitt Pavilion, a PBS station and the Wind Creek Bethlehem casino. The massive blast furnace structure still stands serving as a backdrop along the river.

Over the last two decades, Bethlehem’s downtown has started to thrive with restaurants and retail along Main and Broad Streets. And on the south side of town, the region just north of Lehigh University is a vibrant college town district with bars, shops and cafés.

Along the riverfront is a park complex that includes athletic facilities and hiking and biking trails.

While about half the size of Allentown, Bethlehem has a higher median income than its next-door neighbor by about $15,000. However, rents across the board are cheaper in Bethlehem making it a bit better value for renters.

Harrisburg, PA.

  • Population: 49,277
  • Average age: 37.69
  • Median household income: $39,685
  • Average commute time: 25.17 minutes
  • Walk score: 55
  • Studio average rent: $837
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,038
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,272

State capitals often make wonderful places to live and work. The swath of legislators and lobbyists that call them home make sure the economy is sound, infrastructure is top-notch and access to entertainment and culture abound. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, is no exception. The city of 50,000 is in south-central Pennsylvania about half as close to Philadelphia as it is to Pittsburgh.

The State Capitol complex sits in the center of downtown, along the Susquehanna River. State and federal combined, nearly 40,000 government employees work in Harrisburg. With politicians and their staff coming and going each electoral season, the rental industry is key in Harrisburg. Luckily, it’s the cheapest big city in the Keystone State for studio apartments and one-bedrooms, and among the lowest for two- and three-bedroom units.

A great place to have kids, Forbes named Harrisburg one of the top 10 “Best Places to Raise a Family” in the nation. There is much to do for residents of all ages. Its downtown, once rich in jazz clubs and cocktail bars, is seeing a revitalization from nightclubs to the performing arts.

For a different diversion, the city is also home to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest agricultural expo in America.

Harrisburg also benefits from its geography as the center of one of Pennsylvania’s top tourist regions. The Capitol Building is just a half-hour from HersheyPark and Hershey Chocolate World and under an hour to Lancaster and the heart of Amish Country.

Lancaster, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 59,168
  • Average age: 38.10
  • Median household income: $45,514
  • Average commute time: 26.23 minutes
  • Walk score: 56
  • Studio average rent: $887
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,097
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,344

While a wonderful lifestyle to visit and experience, Lancaster is more than Amish Country, horse buggies and shoofly pie. An affordable city of 60,000, Lancaster (pronounced “LANK-is-ter”, not “LAN-cast-er”) is an Eastern Pennsylvania healthcare, manufacturing and tourism hub.

Lancaster is a surprisingly diverse city. Sure, there are a ton of residents of German ancestry, home of the Pennsylvania Dutch (as in “Deutsch,” German for “German”). But the city is also nearly 40 percent Latinx and 16 percent Black.

While average incomes hover around $56,000, lease prices are among the lowest in the Commonwealth. In fact, a three-bedroom unit rents for $1,455, the cheapest among Pennsylvania’s largest cities.

Along with Amish tourism, Lancaster is also a mecca for outlet shopping. Combined, the area’s two large outlet centers offer nearly 200 stores.

The historic downtown is awash in quaint boutiques, vintage stores, art galleries (many along Gallery Row), vegan restaurants and German beer bars. In the heart of downtown is legendary music venue the Chameleon Club as well as Lancaster Central Market on Penn Square, one of the nation’s oldest farmers’ markets.

Philadelphia, PA.

  • Population: 1,569,672
  • Average age: 40.63
  • Median household income: $45,927
  • Average commute time: 40.79 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,673
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,145
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,901

There are two Philadelphias. The one most people know is the Birthplace of America, home of the Liberty Bell, the Rocky Steps, cheesesteaks and the Broad Street Bullies. The other is the city that over a million and a half people call home. And real Philadelphians have an appreciation for both.

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and each has a personality all its own. When someone reveals they are from Overbrook, Fishtown, Kensington, Society Hill or another of Philly’s nearly 200 neighborhoods, it says a lot about their personality. But together they are all SEPTA riders and hoagie eaters and Birds fans.

Philly residents are a lucky bunch. The cradle of American democracy is at their doorsteps. But it is also an extremely livable city. There are some of the nation’s largest and most enjoyable parks and green spaces, including Fairmount Park and Wissahickon Valley Park. Several shopping hubs dot the city from South Street and Liberty Place to Chestnut Hill and University City.

And commuting is easy with access to I-95, the Schuylkill Expressway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, three superregional rail stations, 13 regional rails as well as the Broad Street subway and Market-Frankford elevated train. As well, the city offers stellar walk and bike scores, 84 and 76, respectively.

Surprisingly, Philadelphia is affordable. As expected, rents are the highest among Pennsylvania’s big cities. However, Philly’s cost of living is 20 percent-30 percent cheaper than similar cities and its northeast corridor neighbors.

Pittsburgh, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 305,049
  • Average age: 41.68
  • Median household income: $48,711
  • Average commute time: 28.93 minutes
  • Walk score: 69
  • Studio average rent: $1,255
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,522
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,831

While they share space inside the Keystone State, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are a five-hour drive and a world apart. Pittsburgh is a Midwest city with a bit of East Coast ancestry. It’s the Northeast but also Great Lakes. It’s not your father’s smoggy city of Black and Gold. Today’s Pittsburgh is a modern, livable metropolis that traded in steel mills and coal mines for shiny office towers, a thriving tech industry, vast parks and big-city nightlife.

Sure, downtown Pittsburgh at Golden Triangle is a gleaming, teeming modern smog-free city. But even if you take the steel out of the city, you can’t take the steel out of its citizens. Pittsburgh will always be the city of fries on a sandwich, confluencing rivers and the Steel Curtain.

The people of the City of Three Rivers are as diverse as the neighborhoods in which they reside. Pittsburgh offers a plethora of cultural enclaves, with large populations of those with German, Irish, Polish, Italian, Black, Jewish, Lithuanian and Puerto Rican backgrounds.

And for its size and might, Pittsburgh is quite affordable. Although Pittsburgh technically lies within one of those pricey Northeastern states, rents in the Steel City are assuredly more Midwest. The average income in Pittsburgh is higher than that across the state in Philly. But rents are lower across the board, including a reasonable $1,500 a month for an average one-bedroom.

reading pa

  • Population: 88,302
  • Average age: 36.09
  • Median household income: $32,176
  • Average commute time: 30.78 minutes
  • Walk score: 69
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,302
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,733

If it’s good enough for Taylor Swift, it’s good enough for you. Yes, that Taylor Swift. The super-slash singer/songwriter is not a native of Tennessee or Texas. She was proudly born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Maybe it’s the laid-back small city vibe that left an indelible mark on Ms. Swift. Reading is the fifth-largest city in the Commonwealth and sits just 90 minutes from Center City Philadelphia. But Reading feels much smaller, a tight-knit community of 90,000. It offers both urban convenience and Appalachian mountain town charm with a populous nearly 60 percent Hispanic and Latinx and 30 percent under age 18.

And Readingers have plenty of diversions. The wooded area surrounding Mount Penn includes many recreational activities and hiking trails. It is also the site of Reading’s most famous landmarks, William Penn Fire Tower, Peace Rock and the Pagoda, a century-old Japanese-style building that contains a café, gift shop and observation room overlooking the city.

Sports also loom large in Reading. The city has been home to the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate for over 50 years and Team Penske’s open-wheel race car operations for nearly as long.

scranton pa, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 76,624
  • Average age: 42.35
  • Median household income: $40,608
  • Average commute time: 23.68 minutes
  • Walk score: 58
  • Studio average rent: $1,100
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,226
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,469

Alfredo’s Pizza Café. Froggy 101. Steamtown Mall. Anthracite Heritage Museum. Yes, all those references in The Office are actual, real-world places in Scranton. Dig deep enough and any Scrantonian will sheepishly admit that the depiction of the hard-scrabble former coal city in the show is pretty accurate.

The Electric City is the state’s seventh-largest, a working-class town just about two hours from both Philadelphia and New York. Like many Pennsylvania cities, Scranton leaned into revitalization as coal mines and steel plants closed.

Today, Scranton is booming in healthcare, technology, social services, finance and particularly tourism, leaning into both its unique railroad history and its proximity to top northeastern ski resorts.

Scranton’s revival helped its downtown boom. The pedestrian-friendly district has seen a bevy of new cafés, restaurants, shops and bars surrounded by loft apartments. Many of these are in restored, architecturally significant buildings that recently sat empty.

While many new residents are coming for the first time, the city has seen a large number of Scranton natives moving back from big cities. Cost of living is a big factor, but so is security. Among Pennsylvania’s largest cities, Scranton is the safest.

West Chester, PA.

  • Population: 19,698
  • Average age: 34.74
  • Median household income: $61,837
  • Average commute time: 27.91 minutes
  • Walk score: 54
  • Studio average rent: $1,350
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,598
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,995

Just 25 miles from Center City Philadelphia, the Philly suburb of West Chester is the smallest city on our list. It is also the wealthiest, with an average income of over $80,000. Fortunately, that high wage level hasn’t completely translated into high rent prices.

An average studio apartment leases for just $1,350, while one and two-bedroom units are $1,598 and $1,995, respectively.

West Chester, not far from Philly’s ritzy Main Line, offers a high quality of living. West Chester schools rank highest on our list while the average age, at just under 35, is the youngest. Though a suburb, the borough’s downtown offers much for its young and affluent residents.

In addition to several upscale and trendy bars, restaurants and retail, many businesses have set up shop in this vibrant hamlet. But West Chester’s most notable business? On the edge of town is the world headquarters and studios of the QVC shopping network. And on the south end of town is West Chester University, ranked a “Top 10 Public Regional Universities in the North” by U.S. News.

What else does West Chester offer these up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow? The borough has also been rated one of the “10 Most Exciting Places In Pennsylvania” and a top three “Great American Main Streets.”

York, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 44,055
  • Average age: 36.62
  • Median household income: $33,906
  • Average commute time: 27.97 minutes
  • Walk score: 53
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,160
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,256

Most cities in Pennsylvania orient themselves with their proximity to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. However, York residents find themselves just 15 miles from the Maryland border and 45 minutes from Baltimore.

The 16th largest city in the Commonwealth, York is best known as the first National Capital, in 1777. But iron-benders know it as headquarters of York Barbell and the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame, and chopper heads know it well for Harley-Davidson’s largest manufacturing plant.

Hungry for a snack? Stauffer’s animal crackers — made here for over 150 years — call York home. Also, it is the site of one of the four Starbucks roasting facilities in the whole world.

With deep roots in American Revolutionary history, tourism is important to the York economy.

For York residents, day trips abound. Lancaster and Amish Country are just a half-hour to the east. HersheyPark is only 45 minutes north. And the Gettysburg Battlefield is under an hour west. Working at the State Capitol? Harrisburg is only 30 minutes away.

Looking for something a little more pastoral in Central Pennsylvania? The historic York State Fair is the nation’s oldest, dating back to 1765.

Find your own best place to live in Pennsylvania

The best places to live in Pennsylvania are also some of its most renowned cities. No matter your tastes, you can set up shop somewhere great from the corner metropolises to the coal towns to the suburbs. And you can find your next great Keystone State city right here on rent.com, whether you enjoy your Primanti’s covered in fries or your Jim’s bathed in whiz wit.

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

Source: rent.com

Stock Market Today: Markets Settle Down, But Backdrop Remains Rosy

Monday’s blowout session that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to new heights was followed by much calmer, more horizontal, trading on Tuesday.

But it wasn’t for a lack of additional positive ammunition following Friday’s blockbuster jobs report.

This morning’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) was another window into an improving employment situation, showing that U.S. job openings hit a two-year high in February. Also, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgraded its 2021 outlook for both U.S. economic growth (from 5.1% to 6.4%), and global economic expansion (from 5.5% to 6.0%).

Still, the major indices spent Tuesday digesting the prior session’s gains; the Dow slipped 0.3% to 33,430, the S&P 500 was off 0.1% to 4,073, and the Nasdaq Composite was marginally off to 13,698.

Recovery-oriented stocks were among the day’s individual winners, especially those in the restaurant industry. Yum Brands (YUM, +3.1%), Domino’s Pizza (DPZ, +2.4%) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG, +2.4%) all finished solidly in the black.

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 declined by 0.3% to 2,259.
  • U.S. crude oil futures improved by 1.2% to $59.33 per barrel.
  • Gold futures also were higher, by 0.8%, to $1,743 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin prices closed 1.3% lower to $58,242. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
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E-Commerce Can Still Get It Done

As great as “reopening plays” have been of late, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all of 2020’s COVID-assisted trends are duds.

Take e-commerce, for instance.

While you might imagine a vaccinated America abandoning its keyboards for the malls, the smart money recognizes that COVID only further entrenched the already growing digital-spending trend, and they see further promise even as more people get ready to go out.

“The convenience offered by eCommerce will continue to be an important consideration to consumers as they return to travel and social activities, and those people who tried shopping online for the first time during COVID are likely to continue using these services with greater frequency moving forward,” says a team of Canaccord Genuity analysts.

Many of the best individual plays are the very same stocks that enjoyed a COVID lift, and some are considered among the market’s most innovative companies — an important quality that can drive outsized long-term returns.

But if you’re hesitant to put all your chips on one or two individual names that could get choppy over the short term, we don’t blame you, and we have a solution: e-commerce funds. Read on as we highlight nine e-commerce ETFs that leverage the growth in digital spending in a variety of ways, and explain how each one might suit different individual investors’ tastes.

Source: kiplinger.com

The Hidden Cost of Convenience

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When I am running out of toilet paper, I tap my Amazon app to order toilet paper (along with a weeks worth of groceries to make the order purchase minimum) to be delivered straight to my door within hours. For dinner, I often order on Postmates or GrubHub and about 30 minutes later, dinner is served.

When I am feeling tight, I order an in house- massage right to my doorstep through Zeel. Yes, you can also tap an app to do your laundry, mail packages and have someone walk your dog. But with convenience, there always comes a price, and believe me– it always add up. It’s like magic: the convenience comes to your front door  for anywhere between $4.99 and $7.99 per order, depending on the distance and restaurant–and then like magic, it all disappears.

Where did all my money go?

How much do you really pay for having your culinary indulgences delivered at the touch of a button?

It wasn’t until I checked my Mint app that I realized the hidden cost of convenience.

According to data from Lux Research report, businesses like Blue Apron and UberEATS are developing business models that show just how much diners are willing to pay for not having to prepare or pick up their own meals. Lux’s research shows that, on average, consumers are willing to pay 11 percent more for each added layer of convenience in the food chain in anything from online grocery delivery to restaurant take-out. (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/16/consumers-pay-more-for-on-demand-convenience-personal-touch.html)

Sure you can keep simplifying life with tech, but make sure to keep tabs too. Apps like Mint can help you take a look at the bigger picture of how much this “convenience” is truly costing you. You can easily create budgets, and see their suggestions based on your spending on convenience and all the fees you acquire.

What I love is that Mint helps create budgets you can actually stick to, and see how you’re spending your money. If you like earning cash back (who doesn’t?), the app also gives helpful tidbits of information to find savings.

Pro Tip: I found out on Mint that you can earn 4% back on dining, 3% back on hotel & airfare, 2% back on online purchases, and more with the Uber Visa Card. Who knew?

As much as I like making my life more efficient, I was able to  add up one month’s worth of convenience and found that I have been spending $598.10 on convenience/delivery fees. OUCH! Ain’t nobody got money for that!

So here’s a breakdown of some apps and fees — make sure you look through it to see what would serve you best and use Mint to help you budget.

POSTMATES COST TO CUSTOMER: They charge a “small cart fee” of $1.99 on all orders that are less than $10-15 depending on the market you are in. On their website it says: sometimes we don’t know exactly what the items you’ve ordered are going to cost at the store, so we may quote you a small cart fee but not charge it (yay!) or we may not quote it but end up charging it (boo!).

During peak times, delivery prices may surge* (or Blitz).

Service Fee: The Postmates service fee is a variable percentage based fee applied to the purchase price of your items. You will be able to verify the service fee for your order on the checkout screen.

AMAZON PRIME NOW COST TO CUSTOMER: Amazon Prime Now is included with an Amazon Prime membership ($100 a year). Two-hour delivery is free, and you can pay $8 for expedited one-hour service. A minimum order of $20 is required for free delivery.

GRUBHUB COST TO CUSTOMER: Depending on the restaurant. Once you enter your address then a list of restaurants that are able to deliver to you will pop up and show the delivery fees for each restaurant and once the items are in your bag you will see the tax that is applied. Also the tip is completely up to you.

GOOGLE EXPRESS COST TO CUSTOMER: Membership to Google Express costs $10 a month, or $95 a year, and includes free delivery on all orders that meet the service’s minimum requirements. Delivery for non-members starts at $5, but varies depending on the size of the order and the delivery time.

INSTACART COST TO CUSTOMER: The delivery fee depends on the size of your order and the delivery time that you choose. The fee for each delivery will be displayed when selecting a delivery window during checkout, before you place your order.

All orders must be $10 or more. When they experience high demand for a delivery time, a Busy Pricing delivery fee may apply.

DOORDASH  COST TO CUSTOMER: The fee amount varies by region and restaurant and, at times. The site says:  you may notice the fee is waived if we have a special arrangement with the restaurant.

UBEREATS COST TO CUSTOMER:

The primary cost of using UberEATS is the Booking Fee, a flat delivery fee that is typically around $4.99 but can vary city to city. The rest of the cost of your order comes from the food you ordered, taxes, and an optional tip.

So next time you’re looking for convenience, take a look at your Mint app and make sure you’re budgeting for it.

Jessica Naziri is the founder of TechSesh.co, a lifestyle website for women inspired by tech. She has been a technology news reporter for The Los Angeles Times, CNN and CNBC.com. Since then, her work has also appeared in TechCrunch, The Washington Post, Mashable, CBS, The Travel Channel, CNN, NPR, USA Today, Inside Edition, Yahoo!, and Business Insider.

Follow Jessica on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or reach out directly via email Hello@techsesh.co.

The views and opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or view of Intuit Inc, Mint or any affiliated organization.
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Source: mint.intuit.com