5 IRA Mistakes You May Be Making

This article provides information and education for investors. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks or securities.

For some investors, IRAs may be long-term, hands-off investment vehicles. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them completely. This year, give a little love to your IRA and make sure you’re not making these common mistakes.

1. Not taking enough risk

We often talk about risk as a bad thing, but it isn’t always a four-letter word, financial advisors say. A young investor who isn’t planning to touch their IRA for 20 or 30 years should have enough time to weather near-term market swings, meaning they could take on more risk in exchange for potentially higher long-term returns. Advisors say such a portfolio could comprise mostly stocks — or even all stocks — instead of splitting the allocation between stocks and bonds. (Learn more about how to choose investments for your IRA.)

“When it comes to investing, the most powerful commodity is time. However, time is only useful if you know what to do with it,” says Dejan Ilijevski, an investment advisor at Sabela Capital Markets in Munster, Indiana. “Investing in an asset allocation that’s not right for you can be detrimental for your investment success over the long term.”

Simply put, too conservative of a portfolio now could potentially limit returns down the road, making it more difficult to hit your retirement goals. However, it’s equally important to rebalance your portfolio away from those riskier assets as you get closer to retirement.

2. Failing to fully fund your IRA every year

We get it. Long-term IRA investing isn’t as exciting as trading in a taxable brokerage account. But if you’re investing more in a taxable account without first maxing out your tax-advantaged IRA, experts might want a word with you.

By not fully funding your IRA first (that means contributing $6,000 in 2021 if you’re under 50 years old), you’re forgoing enormous tax advantages and the potential opportunity for that money to compound tax-free, says Robert Johnson, a chartered financial analyst and CEO at Economic Index Associates in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Too often people fail to realize the huge advantages of a tax-deferred account, instead investing in a taxable account,” Johnson says. “These advantages are greatest for those with the longest time horizons to retirement.”

Speaking of taxes, it’s also important to know the differences between traditional and Roth IRAs. In short, traditional IRA contributions are tax-deductible, while withdrawals are taxable. Roth IRA contributions are not tax-deductible, but withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

3. Contributing slowly instead of all at once

In many cases, making regular contributions to your investment account — a strategy known as dollar-cost averaging — is sound advice. However, if you’ve got the cash, maxing out your IRA as early in the year as possible may be the way to go.

Any time a large amount of cash is involved, investing it incrementally over time may feel like the responsible thing to do. However, according to John Pilkington, a chartered financial analyst and senior financial advisor with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services in Charlotte, North Carolina, those positive feelings are generally the only benefit.

“Dollar-cost-averaging equates to taking risk later. While you may mitigate short-term regret, you’re more likely reducing long-term returns,” says Pilkington. “A better exercise may be reevaluating your asset allocation target relative to your risk tolerance.”

In other words, dollar-cost averaging could help you avoid the stress that comes from stock market volatility, but more often than not, it leads to lower long-term returns than lump-sum investing, Pilkington says. And if you’re still uneasy about investing all $6,000 upfront, consider a less-risky asset allocation — such as investing more in bonds — instead of spreading out contributions, he says.

4. Failing to explore your investment options

If you started an IRA by rolling over a workplace 401(k), you probably noticed you were no longer confined to the investments offered through your 401(k). This is a pretty big deal, and the influx of options shouldn’t go unnoticed.

“A lot of the IRAs I see are invested in a default investment option,” says James DesRocher, a financial advisor with Park Avenue Securities in Middleton, Massachusetts. “An advantage of an IRA is the flexibility you have of what to invest in. You can really dial in on a specific investment strategy that is tailored to you, and most people do not take advantage of this.”

5. Maintaining multiple retirement accounts

There’s no rule that says you can have only one IRA. As long as your annual contributions don’t exceed the limit, you’re free to disperse those contributions across any traditional or Roth IRAs you’ve opened. But that’s probably not a wise strategy, DesRocher says.

“Keeping multiple IRA accounts rather than consolidating into one very often leads to overlap,” DesRocher says, referring to investing in the same assets in different accounts. “It also takes away from the positive effect of rebalancing, which can reduce your overall risks.”

This goes for hanging on to old 401(k)s instead of rolling them over to an IRA, too. Not only will you avoid overlap and find more investment options with IRAs, but it’s also possible you’ll pay less in fees. (Learn more about how investment fees work.)

Source: nerdwallet.com

15 States With the Most Extreme Weather

Tornadoes are an example of extreme weather
Todd Shoemake / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Filterbuy.

The year 2020 brought a series of historically severe weather-related disasters all over the United States.

In November, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season set a new record for the number of tropical and subtropical storms in a single year. The 2020 wildfire season in the western United States burned millions of acres. In the Midwest, an August derecho brought torrential rain, hail, tornadoes, and sustained wind speeds over 100 miles per hour in Iowa and Illinois.

The severe weather events of 2020 are part of a larger trend — the frequency of extreme weather conditions in the U.S. is on the rise as global climate change accelerates. According to the CDC, the effects of climate change are likely to include more variable weather, heat waves, heavy precipitation events, flooding, droughts, more intense storms such as hurricanes, sea-level rise, and air pollution.

Since the 1970s, the frequency of extreme weather conditions in the U.S. has risen

Hurricane flooding
Stratos Brilakis / Shutterstock.com

The frequency of extreme weather conditions in the United States has risen steadily since the 1970s, as demonstrated by the U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI). The CEI was developed to quantify observed changes in climate within the contiguous United States. The index includes temperature, precipitation, drought severity, and hurricane/tropical storm intensity. Based on these measures, extreme weather conditions have trended upward for nearly half a century, and four of the five highest years for this measure occurred within the last decade.

Extreme weather is not just more common — it’s also bringing even greater financial impacts to the areas affected through property damage, business interruptions, and other economic losses. Through the first nine months of 2020, 16 weather and climate disasters produced losses exceeding $1 billion, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). This year is the sixth consecutive year with 10 or more billion-dollar disasters, an unprecedented milestone.

As both the intensity and number of severe weather events increase, so do the total costs of these disasters for the U.S. The same data from NCEI shows a dramatic increase in five-year average costs associated with severe weather events over the past decade, from around $30 billion in 2010 to over $100 billion in 2020.

Not all states experience severe weather in quite the same way, and some are much more susceptible to highly variable weather conditions. To identify which states have the most extreme weather, researchers at Filterbuy created a composite score for each state. Using data from the National Centers for Environmental Information, researchers created an extreme weather score based on each state’s all-time maximum and minimum temperatures, maximum 24-hour precipitation, maximum 24-hour snowfall, and number of annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles.

Here are the states with the most extreme weather.

15. Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland
Hethers / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 55.5

All-time maximum temperature: 109°F

All-time minimum temperature: -40°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 14.8 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 31.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.9 per 10,000 square miles

14. Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 56.3

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -47°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 13.2 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 24.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.1 per 10,000 square miles

13. Texas

Fort Worth Texas
Barbara Smyers / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 56.7

All-time maximum temperature: 120°F

All-time minimum temperature: -23°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 42.0 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 26.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 5.9 per 10,000 square miles

12. Nebraska

Omaha Nebraska
Aspects and Angles / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 56.7

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -47°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 13.2 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 27.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 7.4 per 10,000 square miles

11. Montana

Montana town
Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 58.0

All-time maximum temperature: 117°F

All-time minimum temperature: -70°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 11.5 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 48.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.7 per 10,000 square miles

10. Missouri

St. Charles Missouri
Rob Neville Photos / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 58.8

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -40°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 18.2 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 24.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 6.5 per 10,000 square miles

9. New Mexico

New Mexico
turtix / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 58.8

All-time maximum temperature: 122°F

All-time minimum temperature: -50°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 11.3 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 41.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.9 per 10,000 square miles

8. Oklahoma

Oklahoma City skyline
Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 59.2

All-time maximum temperature: 120°F

All-time minimum temperature: -31°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 15.7 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 27.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.0 per 10,000 square miles

7. Washington

Tacoma, Washington
Druid007 / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 59.2

All-time maximum temperature: 118°F

All-time minimum temperature: -48°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 14.3 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 65.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.4 per 10,000 square miles

6. Kansas

Wichita, Kansas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 63.7

All-time maximum temperature: 121°F

All-time minimum temperature: -40°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 12.6 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 30.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 11.7 per 10,000 square miles

5. South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota
Sopotnicki / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 64.5

All-time maximum temperature: 120°F

All-time minimum temperature: -58°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 8.7 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 52.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 4.7 per 10,000 square miles

4. Colorado

Denver, Colorado
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 67.0

All-time maximum temperature: 115°F

All-time minimum temperature: -61°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 11.9 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 75.8 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 5.1 per 10,000 square miles

3. Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 67.8

All-time maximum temperature: 117°F

All-time minimum temperature: -38°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 16.9 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 36.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 9.7 per 10,000 square miles

2. Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pinkcandy / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 68.6

All-time maximum temperature: 115°F

All-time minimum temperature: -60°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 15.1 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 36.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 5.7 per 10,000 square miles

1. California

San Francisco, California
IM_photo / Shutterstock.com

Extreme weather score: 73.1

All-time maximum temperature: 134°F

All-time minimum temperature: -45°F

All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation: 25.8 inches

All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall: 67.0 inches

Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles: 0.7 per 10,000 square miles

Methodology

A man studies financial data at his computer
NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

To identify the states with the most extreme weather, researchers at Filterbuy created a composite score based on the following factors weighted equally:

  • All-time maximum temperature
  • All-time minimum temperature
  • All-time greatest 24-hour precipitation
  • All-time maximum 24-hour snowfall
  • Annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles

All of the data used in this analysis is from the National Centers for Environmental Information State Climate Extremes Committee Records.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

States With the Largest Increase in Renewable Energy Production

Michigan wind turbine farm
MichaelAnthonyPhotos / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Filterbuy.

One of the most significant trends over the last decade for the economy, society, geopolitics, and the environment has been the rise of renewable energy. Fossil fuels have been the basis of the industrial economy for generations, powering tremendous economic growth but with dangerous consequences for the environment and public health. With the dramatic expansion of renewable energy technologies over the last decade, power sources like wind, solar, and geothermal have offered a more sustainable—and increasingly more affordable—path forward.

Several factors contribute to the expansion of clean energy. For one, technological advancement in renewables has made energy production and storage more efficient than ever before. The renewables industry has also received a boost from public policies and investments enacted by governments worldwide seeking to decarbonize in response to the threat of climate change. These developments have helped bring down renewable energy production costs over time, allowing market forces to spur continued growth in the sector. In all, electric power generated from renewables in the U.S. has grown by more than 70 percent since 2010.

And although growth is occurring across many renewable sources, wind and solar have been the most prominent success stories of recent years. In 2007, wind accounted for about 35 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity produced in the U.S.; since then, wind production has increased by an average of around 20 million MWh per year, rising to nearly 295 million in 2019. Meanwhile, solar is the fastest-growing of all renewables. Solar production constituted less than 1 percent of renewable energy until around 2010, but experts now project that by 2050, solar and photovoltaic energy will account for nearly half of all renewable electricity production.

Growth in renewable energy production in the U.S. is widespread, but unique features of each region mean that the transition to renewables looks different from state to state. Measured by the proportion of total electricity generated from renewable sources, states in New England and the Western U.S. surpass the rest of the country, largely as a result of renewable-friendly state policies. Vermont generates a remarkable 99.9 percent of its electricity from renewables.

In terms of total electricity produced from renewables, California (97 million MWh), Texas (91 million MWh), and Washington (74 million MWh) are the national leaders. Physical geography explains much of these three states’ strength in renewables. California is the largest producer of geothermal (with the world’s largest geothermal field) and solar (due in part to large installations in the Mojave Desert). With plenty of cheap land and strong winds in many of its regions, Texas dominates the U.S. in wind production. And in Washington, major water features like the Columbia and Snake Rivers provide the basis for the nation’s strongest hydropower sector.

To identify the states with the fastest-growing renewable energy sectors, researchers at Filterbuy used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to calculate the percentage change in renewable electricity production between 2010 and 2019. The researchers also calculated what percentage of total electricity production is accounted for by renewables, as well as the largest renewable energy source currently.

Keep reading to see the states with the largest increase in renewable energy production.

15. North Dakota

North Dakota wind turbines farm
northlight / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 134.0%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 14,392,502
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 6,150,146
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 35.0%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 17.7%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

14. Michigan

Michigan lighthouse with high waves.
John McCormick / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 143.3%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 9,932,713
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 4,083,005
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 8.5%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 3.7%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

13. North Carolina

Davidson, North Carolina.
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 144.3%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 16,709,383
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 6,839,691
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 12.7%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 5.3%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Solar

12. Nevada

Henderson, Nevada aerial photo
Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 155.3%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 11,345,373
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 4,443,943
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 28.4%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 12.6%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Solar

11. Iowa

Iowa farm
By Dan Thornberg / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 155.7%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 26,356,275
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 10,308,651
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 42.7%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 17.9%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

10. Colorado

Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Corey Carrico / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 173.6%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 14,043,640
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 5,132,797
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 24.9%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 10.1%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

9. Illinois

Illinois wind turbines farm
Ken Schulze / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 186.4%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 15,057,518
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 5,256,702
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 8.2%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 2.6%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

8. Utah

Arches National Park
Anton Foltin / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 188.6%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 4,261,269
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 1,476,479
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 10.9%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 3.5%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Solar

7. Ohio

Ohio roadway sign
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 189.8%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 3,272,411
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 1,129,113
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 2.7%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 0.8%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

6. Texas

Texas wind farm
Dallas Events Inc / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 213.9%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 90,922,198
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 28,966,660
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 18.8%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 7.0%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

5. Rhode Island

Enfi / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 228.5%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 472,344
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 143,779
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 6.2%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 1.9%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Biomass

4. New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico
BrigitteT / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 310.1%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 8,496,851
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 2,071,802
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 24.2%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 5.7%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

3. Oklahoma

Oklahoma wind farm
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 377.6%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 33,281,621
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 6,968,743
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 39.1%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 9.6%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

2. Nebraska

Nebraska Wind Turbine
Sovereign Images / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 379.7%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 8,667,568
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 1,807,009
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 23.2%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 4.9%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

1. Kansas

Kansas Wind Farm
KSwinicki / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage change in renewable energy production (2010-2019): 511.0%
  • Total renewable energy production 2019 (MWh): 21,218,058
  • Total renewable energy production 2010 (MWh): 3,472,565
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2019: 41.7%
  • Renewable energy share of total production 2010: 7.2%
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Mark Agnor / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Net Generation by State dataset. Researchers ranked states based on the percentage change in renewable electricity production between 2010 and 2019. For the purpose of this analysis, renewable energy sources include wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric. Researchers also calculated the proportion of total electricity generation accounted for by renewable sources in both 2010 and 2019, as well as the largest renewable energy source in 2019 for each state.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

7 Cities Experiencing Record Low Temperatures

Freezing woman outside
Leszek Glasner / Shutterstock.com

Just when it looked like the nation was about to turn the corner on winter — with spring barely a month away — another polar vortex has blown across the U.S., putting millions of households into a big chill.

Some cities are suffering worse than others, including places not typically known for sub-freezing days and nights. Residents of those cities are shivering through bone-rattling cold that is shattering thermometers — and historical records.

Following are several cities experiencing record-low temperatures.

Oklahoma City

Hoarfrost near Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City
Richard G Smith / Shutterstock.com

Low temperature on Tuesday: -14 degrees Fahrenheit (coldest temperature since 1899 and second-coldest on record)

Weary residents of the Sooner State are more than ready to say “later” to the record cold that has swept in unexpectedly. Some residents have been without heat for more than a week.

One city resident — Angie Smith — is hoping that a very modest dream will become reality soon. “I just want a working heater,” she told local TV station KFOR. She added:

“I understand even a day or two — I’m an understanding person — now we’re eight days into it. It’s negative whatever it is outside.”

Dallas

Record cold grips Dallas in February 2021.
Marouanesitti / Shutterstock.com

Low temperature on Tuesday: -2 degrees Fahrenheit (coldest temperature since 1930 and second-coldest on record)

The cold that has plunged all the way down to Texas has gripped the nation’s attention — and its collective sympathy. At least 21 Texans have died as a result of the brutal cold snap, and millions are without power.

Fingers of blame are pointing everywhere in light of the still-unfolding tragedy. Some reports suggest frozen wind turbines and limited gas supplies are largely responsible for the power failure.

Some deaths in the state have been attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from residents running cars or generators indoors. As one medical official in Houston said to local television station KPRC-TV, “This is an absolute public health disaster.”

Houston

Ice and snow on a car in Houston during a cold snap in February 2021.
Si Vo / Shutterstock.com

Low temperature on Tuesday: 13 degrees Fahrenheit (coldest temperature since 1989)

It’s rare to see Arctic cold weather seeping all the way down to Houston, but this polar vortex did not spare Space City.

Officials have told residents to boil water or use bottled water, as many homes are getting little or no water pressure due to several days of power outages. One resident is using melted snow to flush his toilet, the Weather Channel reports.

San Antonio

San Antonio in winter
lise Vanasse / Shutterstock.com

Low temperature on Tuesday: 12 degrees Fahrenheit (coldest temperature since 1989)

How cold is it in San Antonio? The National Weather Service office in the city issued its first-ever wind chill warning.

City residents are trying to be resourceful, but remain worried. Juany Torres, a University of Texas graduate student and San Antonio resident, told NBC News:

“We just have so many blankets, like quite a bit, and we are going to the car and trying to heat up there and get a charge for phones and trying to brave [the electricity] switching back and forth. It’s not sustainable.”

Little Rock, Arkansas

Winter in Arkansas
Olikbas / Shutterstock.com

Low temperature on Tuesday: -1 degrees Fahrenheit (coldest temperature since 1989)

Winter’s icy grip has left Little Rock — and the entire state of Arkansas — bundled up against the teeth-chattering cold. Local television station KARK reports that several inches of snow have fallen on “every square mile of the state,” and that several locations in Arkansas recently fell below zero for the first time in 60 years.

At least one city — Arkadelphia — has never experienced weather this cold in its recorded history, which goes back to 1899.

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas, Washington County Court House
shuttersv / Shutterstock.com

Low temperature on Tuesday: -20 degrees Fahrenheit (possible coldest temperature on record)

Temperatures in the Fayetteville area dropped to a bone-rattling -20 degrees Fahrenheit at the weather station at Drake Field, a municipal airport.

The temperature might be the lowest ever recorded in the city. It certainly is the lowest recorded at the Drake Field weather station, with records dating back to 1905.

However, a weather observation site at the University of Arkansas reportedly recorded a temperature of -24 degrees Fahrenheit in 1899.

Hastings, Nebraska

Frozen lake in Hastings, Nebraska
Todd Stahlecker / Shutterstock.com

Low temperature on Tuesday: -30 degrees Fahrenheit (coldest temperature on record)

There is cold weather — and then there is positively glacial weather.

Temperatures dipped to a mind-numbing -30 degrees Fahrenheit in Hastings on Tuesday. That might be a walk in the park for hearty folks in the far north — the unofficial record low in Embarrass, Minnesota, is -64 degrees Fahrenheit, after all — but it is plenty cold for most of us.

The record cold snap in Hastings allowed temperatures to fall 48 degrees below normal for two days straight. But keep your chin up, folks — spring is right around the corner.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Watermark Home Loans Review: Loan Amounts Up to $10 Million

Posted on February 15th, 2021

If you’ve been comparing mortgage rates and shopping your home loan lately, you may have encountered “Watermark Home Loans” along the way.

They advertise quite a bit on some of the mortgage comparison websites, but aren’t necessarily a household name like some of the bigger guys.

Of course, bigger isn’t always better, nor does it tend to be cheaper in my experience. So let’s learn more about them to see if they should be included in your home loan search.

Watermark Home Loans Fast Facts

  • Direct-to-consumer retail mortgage lender
  • Offers home purchase financing and refinance loans
  • Founded in 2006, headquartered in Irvine, CA
  • Licensed in 36 states and the District of Columbia
  • Funded more than $1.2 billion in home loans last year
  • Appears to specialize in refinancing for existing homeowners

Watermark Home Loans is a direct-to-consumer mortgage lender based out of Irvine, California, which is essentially the mortgage capital of the United States.

There are tons of mortgage companies situated nearby in Orange County, including big names like New American Funding and techy newcomer LoanSnap.

Anyway, they essentially operate a call center whereby you can phone in to get started on a mortgage application. This differs from lenders who offer brick-and-mortar locations as well.

While they offer both home purchase loans and refinance loans, they appear to specialize in the latter, with such loans accounting for about 70% of total volume, per the latest HMDA data.

Last year, they originated roughly $1.2 billion in home loans, with nearly half of total loan volume coming from their home state of California.

At the moment, they’re licensed in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

They don’t seem to do business in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, or the Dakotas at the moment.

How to Apply with Watermark Home Loans

  • You can either call them up directly or fill out a short online contact form
  • Once you speak to a loan officer to get pricing you can apply online
  • Their digital loan application is powered by fintech company Blend
  • It allows you to link financial accounts, electronically sign documents, and check loan status 24/7

When it comes to applying for a mortgage, Watermark Home Loans makes it pretty easy.

That’s because they’ve chosen to partner with fintech company Blend, which is a leader in the digital mortgage space.

Their software allows borrowers to link financial accounts using bank or payroll credentials, sign documents and disclosures electronically, and collaborate with their loan officer or loan processor in real time.

Additionally, customers can track the status of their loan application 24/7 by simply logging on to the borrower portal via the Watermark website.

But before you get to the application, you’ll need to either call the company directly to link up with a loan officer, or fill out a short form on their website.

Once you do that, you’ll be able to discuss mortgage rates, fees, and loan options – assuming you like what you hear, you can move along to the application.

All in all, Watermark makes it easy to apply and track your home loan from start to finish.

Loan Programs Offered by Watermark Home Loans

  • Home purchase loans
  • Refinance loans: rate and term, cash out, streamline
  • Conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Jumbo home loans up to $10 million loan amounts
  • Government-backed loans: FHA, USDA, and VA
  • Reverse mortgages for seniors
  • Interest-only mortgages
  • Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate options available in various loan terms (including 40-year terms)

Watermark Home Loans appears to be big on mortgage refinancing, with rate and term refinances accounting for about 50% of volume.

Another 20% or so is devoted to cash out refinances, in which existing homeowners pull equity from their properties to pay for other expenses.

The remainder is devoted to home purchase loans, with many of them conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

They also do quite a bit of jumbo home loan lending, which makes sense given their headquarters being in pricey Southern California. In fact, they offer loan amounts as high as $10 million!

Borrowers can also take out a government-backed mortgage, such as an FHA loan, USDA loan, or VA loans.

Speaking of VA loans, Watermark Home Loans says it donates a portion of loan proceeds to the Warrior Foundation – Freedom Station, which assists wounded veterans.

With regard to specific loan programs, you can get a fixed-rate mortgage such as a 30-year or 15-year fixed, or an adjustable-rate mortgage like a 5/1 ARM.

They actually say they offer loan terms as long as 40 years, along with interest-only home loans, both of which are somewhat outside-the-box and harder to come by these days.

So you shouldn’t be limited when it comes to loan choice, which is another plus.

Watermark Home Loans Mortgage Rates

While they don’t list their mortgage rates on their website, they do say you can call in for a free, no obligation quote.

You may also come across their mortgage rates when comparing lenders on websites like Bankrate.

If so, you might be able to get an idea of their loan pricing, along with closing costs if also listed.

My assumption is they’re pretty competitive in the pricing department because they’re essentially a direct-to-consumer online mortgage lender.

That should mean less overhead and a streamlined approach, which hopefully translates to lower costs and cheaper mortgages for their customers!

But you’ll need to call them or fill out a form on their website to obtain pricing for your particular loan scenario to find out.

Once you’ve got that in hand, be sure to compare their rates and fees to a few other lenders to ensure they offer the best price.

Based on their many positive customer reviews, homeowners seem satisfied with their pricing.

Watermark Home Loans Reviews

The company comes highly rated, with a 4.81-star rating out of a possible 5 on Zillow from nearly 1,300 customer reviews.

Many of the reviews on Zillow indicated that the interest rate and/or closing costs were lower than expected, which gives us another hint about pricing.

Over at Bankrate, they’ve got an even better 4.9-star rating out of 5 from more than 700 reviews, with nearly all of them 5-star reviews.

Similarly, they’ve got a 4.6-star rating out of 5 on Google from more than 600 reviews.

But wait, there’s more – at LendingTree they have a 4.9-star rating from over 30 reviews and a 97% recommended rate.

Lastly, they are an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau and currently hold an ‘A+’ rating based on their interactions with customers. They’ve got a 3.9/5-star rating based on about 30 customer reviews as well.

In summary, Watermark could be a good choice for an existing homeowner looking to refinance thanks to their perceived low rates and plentiful loan options, coupled with their easy digital loan process.

Watermark Home Loans Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • Can apply for a home loan via their website in minutes
  • Offer a digital mortgage application powered by Blend
  • Lots of loan programs to choose from including jumbos and interest-only options
  • No closing cost and $0 application fee options
  • Excellent customer reviews across all ratings sites
  • A+ BBB rating, accredited company
  • Free mortgage calculators on site

The Cons

  • Not licensed in all states
  • No physical locations
  • Do not publicize mortgage rates or fees

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

College Student Spending Habits for 2021 – Lexington Law

college students studying in library

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

College students face a crucial point in their financial lives—it’s the time where most take out student loans and apply for their first credit cards. Very often, they graduate with the burden of debt.

The cost of college has increased 135 percent in the past 10 years for public four-year universities according to the College Board. On top of that, college students face a diverse set of personal obstacles that affect their finances since they vary greatly in age and life experience. While some students are fresh out of high school, others are returning to school after having a child or serving in the military.

The average student spends a lot of money trying to get their degree. Our guide is refreshed for 2021 to reflect the ways things like spending habits and spending power fluctuate over the years. Before diving into college student spending habits, we’ll first take a look at this group’s overall spending power.

College Student Spending Power 

College students had $376 billion in spending power in 2019. The 21.4 million college students in the country earn money in a variety of ways. Most college students make some sort of financial contribution to their education and many pick up jobs to cover these costs. Take a look at the stats below to see how college students earn their money. 

  • College students had $376 billion in spending power in 2019. [Source: Refuel Agency]
  • 67 percent of millennial college students received $2,000 or less from their parents each year in 2020. [Source: OppLoans]
  • 44 percent of millennial college students worked every year they were in school in 2020. [Source: OppLoans]
  • 86 percent of millennial college students worked summer jobs in 2020. [Source: OppLoans]
  • 65 percent of millennial college students had to take out student loans to pay for their degree in 2020. [Source: OppLoans]
  • 74 percent of millennial college students contributed to funding their education in 2020. [Source: OppLoans]
  • U.S. households planned to spend around $1,059.20 on back-to-school shopping for college students in 2020. [Source: NRF]

How Much Do College Students Spend on Food?

College students spent a total of $39.6 billion on food alone in 2020. Food costs range from groceries and coffee to eating out. There are several reasons why college students spend so much on food. 

The rise of social media and the need to purchase things for status are a couple factors that encourage students to splurge on Instagram-worthy food when they really shouldn’t. Other reasons include using food as an excuse to socialize or to take breaks from studying. Read on to see how college students spend on food.

  • College students spent $39.6 billion on food alone in 2020. [Source: Refuel Agency]
  • For back-to-school shopping among college students, individual students expected to spend $111.32 on food items in 2020. [Source: Statista]

  • For millennial college students receiving spending money from their parents, 76 percent said they mainly spent it on eating out in 2020. [Source: OppLoans]
  • 53 percent of millennial college students who received spending money from their parents in 2020 said they spent it on drinks and snacks. [Source: OppLoans]

How Much Do College Students Spend On Books and Supplies?

While the amount of course materials students are purchasing hasn’t changed, the cost of them is on the downward trend thanks to more affordable options like renting and digital copies. Read on to see different highlights of college student spending on course materials.

Course Material and Supply Costs

College textbooks vary in price, but can cost a small fortune depending on the degree. Some students go to extreme lengths to afford their textbooks including skipping meals and skipping trips home. Below are the different costs college students face when purchasing course materials and other supplies.

  • For the 2019-2020 academic school year, college students spent $413 on average on required course materials and supplies. [Source: On Campus Research]
  • The $413 average spent on course materials for the 2019-2020 school year indicates a 41 percent decrease since 2007, when the average was $701. [Source: On Campus Research]
  • For the 2019-2020 academic school year, college students spent around $47 per class on required course materials. [Source: On Campus Public Research]
  • The amount college students spent on required course materials for the 2019-2020 academic school year decreased by 6 percent since the 2018-2019 school year. [Source: On Campus Public Research]
  • Of all the different categories of spend that college students planned to budget for in 2020, 89 percent reported school supplies as the top category. [Source: National Retail Federation]
  • Students acquired an average of 7.7 required materials for the 2019-2020 academic school year. [Source: On Campus Research]
  • 30 percent of students said they spent more money on textbooks in 2019 as compared to what they spent in 2018, while 28 percent said they spent about the same. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 40 percent of students chose not to purchase at least one of their assigned textbooks due to its high cost. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]

Types of Materials and Where They’re Buying

College students are frugal when considering where they’ll buy course materials and what types of course materials they purchase. Some options, like renting or buying digital books, save a lot but come with their own drawbacks. Read on to see how college students differ when deciding what materials to get and where to buy them.

  • 26 percent of college students used free methods to obtain course materials in 2020. [Source: On Campus Research]
  • Of all course materials college students purchased in 2020, 54 percent were bought from a campus store. [Source: On Campus Research]
  • 49 percent of students opted to purchase used textbooks instead of buying them new in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 31 percent of students purchased a combination of used and new textbooks in 2019.  [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 47 percent of students who purchased at least one used textbook in 2019 said they chose an older version of it for the sake of affordability. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 29 percent of students said they only bought one digital version of an assigned textbook in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 30 percent of students said they didn’t buy any digital versions of their assigned textbooks in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 65 percent of students who opted for digital textbooks purchased them individually, while 29 percent reported purchasing them through a subscription in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 58 percent of students bought at least one assigned textbook on Amazon in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 51 percent of students said they bought at least one of their assigned textbooks at their campus bookstore in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • Only 17 percent of students made online textbook purchases directly from the publisher in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]
  • 30 percent of students said at least one of the textbooks they purchased online was not from Amazon in 2019. [Source: FlatWorld Knowledge]

How Much Do College Students Spend on Clothing and Personal Care?

College students spent a combined $9.5 billion on clothing and accessories in 2019. The rising trend of natural, eco-friendly products is one factor that is possibly driving purchases up in this sector. Take a look at the stats below to learn how much money college students sacrifice for clothing and personal care.

  • College students anticipated spending a combined $67.7 billion for the 2020 school year on clothing and accessories, food, electronics, personal care items, and furniture. [Source: Statista]
  • Individual college students anticipated spending around $148.37 on clothing and accessories for the 2020 school year. [Source: Statista]
  • Individual college students anticipated spending around $64.91 on collegiate branded clothing and accessories for the 2020 school year. [Source: Statista]
  • 59 percent of millennial college students who received spending money from their parents said they would primarily spend it on clothes in 2019. [Source: OppLoans]
college students planned to spend $235 on electronics, $148 on clothes and accessories, $120 on furniture and $65 on collegiate branded gear for the 2019–2020 back-to-school season.

Take a look at what individual college students planned to spend during the 2019-2020 back-to-school shopping season:

  • Electronics: $234.69
  • Clothes and Accessories: $148.37
  • Furniture: $120.19
  • Collegiate Branded Gear: $64.91

How Much Do College Students Spend on Rent and Transportation?

College students spend an average of $11,140 on living accommodations and $2,800 on transportation over the course of their time in school. The cost of rent, room and board, and transportation for college students depends greatly on where they attend. Costs can greatly differ between in-state and out-of-state colleges and between private and public colleges. Learn more about how these costs differ and how much students pay for rent and transportation alone.

  • Students pay an average of $11,140 for room and board at a public four-year university. [Source: Credible]
  • Students pay an average of $12,680 for room and board at a private four-year university.[Source: Credible]
  • College students spend an average of $2,800 on transportation during their time in school. 
  • Around seven to 12 percent of the total U.S. rental housing market is taken up by student housing rentals. [Source: NHMC Research Foundation]
  • The average cost of rent for student housing is $637 per month. [Source: NHMC Research Foundation]
  • Students will spend an average of $1,050 to $1,800 on transportation costs alone annually. [Source: College Board via Edmit]
  • College students planned to spend an average of $129.76 on dorm or apartment furnishings in 2020. [Source: National Retail Federation]

  • More than 70 percent of college students say the high cost of living is their main concern at school. [Source: Chegg]
  • The cost of living for college students varies greatly based on location: New York University’s room and board costs for 2020 are around $19,244 per year, compared to $10,196 per year at University of Nebraska Omaha. [Source: Credible]

Typical College Student Budget

While the exact details of every college student’s budget are different based on where they attend school and the costs of living associated with different locations, there are some trends in the main categories of spend. The main cost difference is found in tuition, which is more than double for out-of-state students compared to in-state students. Learn more about the different budget trends for students attending college in-state and those attending out-of-state for the 2020-2021 academic school year. [Source: Statista]

Yearly Budget for College Students: In-State

  • Tuition and fees: $10,560
  • Room and board: $11,620
  • Books and supplies: $1,240
  • Transportation: $1,230
  • Other expenses: $2,170

Yearly Budget for College Students: Out-of-State

  • Tuition and fees: $27,020
  • Room and board: $11,620
  • Books and supplies: $1,240
  • Transportation: $1,230
  • Other expenses: $2,170

College Student Debt

Student loan debt is at the forefront of the news and many outlets are reporting on the struggles millennials, baby boomers and everyone in between face. Other everyday costs like food and housing also contribute to the list of expenses college students need to cover while taking classes.

We found that most Americans would rather attend an affordable college than a highly ranked school. This shows that college students are highly aware of the costs of attending college and the financial sacrifices they may need to make. Read on to learn about the impact of college student debt.

Student Stress and Debt

Students feel a lot of stress from their finances. Many students feel the pressure of piling debt and many cite financial stress as even more impactful than stress felt from academics. To get a better idea of these stressors, take a look at the stats below.

  • Student loan debt has reached over $1.67 trillion as of August 2020. [Source: Bankrate]
  • The total student loan debt is higher in 2020 than it was in 2019, when it averaged $1.598 trillion. [Source: Credible]
  • College students carried an average student loan debt of $33,654 individually in 2019. [Source: Credible]
  • College students paid an average of $393 per month towards student loans in 2019. [Source: Credible]
  • There were 43 million student loan borrowers in 2019. [Source: Credible]
  • 2.8 million students who borrowed loans in 2019 owe $100,000 or more. [Source: Credible]
  • 67 percent of students said that finding a job that provided them with financial security was a primary concern in 2019. [Source: Chegg]
  • For every five students, four report the high cost of education as the primary issue impacting them in 2019. [Source: Chegg]
  • Over 50 percent of students said mental health was a primary concern throughout school in 2019 due to financial strain and academic pressure. [Source: Chegg]
  • Women hold nearly two-thirds of student debt in the country, totalling nearly $929 billion in 2020. [Source: AAUW]
  • First-generation college students are burdened with more debt when they graduate in 2020.  [Source: AAUW]
  • The cost of a college education has increased by 103 percent since 1987.  [Source: AAUW]

Family Sacrifices

College debt often causes stress not just for students, but for their families as well. Many parents choose to sacrifice things like recreation and retirement to financially support their children. Take a look below at all of the ways debt also impacts families.

  • 91 percent of millennial college students said they spent money responsibly in 2019, but 29 percent of their parents disagreed. [Source: OppLoans]
  • For millennial college students who received spending money from their parents in 2019, 45 percent report spending it “very responsibly,” but just 18 percent believed their parents would agree. [Source: OppLoans]
  • 51 percent of students’ parents anticipated increasing the amount they spent on virtual learning tools for their kids in 2020. [Source: PR Newswire via Deloitte]
  • 50 percent of low income families are worried about their ability to afford upcoming tuition payments in 2020, compared to 30 percent of families overall. [Source: PR Newswire via Deloitte]

  • 52 percent of families had a plan for how they’d pay for their kids’ college tuition for the 2019-2020 academic school year. [Source: Sallie Mae]
  • Around $30,017 was spent by families on college for the 2019-2020 academic school year. [Source: Sallie Mae]
  • 44 percent of college costs were paid from parents’ income and savings in 2020. [Source: Sallie Mae]
  • 8 percent of college costs were paid with borrowed money by parents in 2020. [Source: Sallie Mae]
  • 20 percent of parents borrowed money to cover their kids’ tuition in 2020. [Source: Sallie Mae]

The financial choices college students make can follow them for years after graduation. We’re all aware of the student loan crisis, but other financial decisions like late payments and maxed out cards can also take a significant toll if not immediately addressed. It can get particularly overwhelming if you haven’t checked your credit report in a while and feel unsure about what’s on it.

You should regularly check your credit report to ensure all of your information is accurate and fairly reported. If you need help tackling negative items you find on your credit report, you can get in touch with the team at Lexington Law to learn about how credit repair might be able to help clean up your credit report.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com