The Cost of Living in Atlanta in 2021

It’s hard to resist Atlanta’s charm, food and culture — but how does it stack up against your budget?

Atlanta is widely known for its busy airport, pollen counts, mild weather and most recently, for lending itself as the background for several Hollywood movies.

Despite being a big city, Atlanta’s southern charm remains intact as it welcomes many transplants every year. It’s hard to resist a move to Georgia capital with its diversity and robust culture, but what does that entail from a budget standpoint?

While others look to more expensive hubs like Los Angeles and New York City, Atlanta’s cost of living remains significantly more affordable while still providing a thriving economy and amenities.

Right now, for example, Atlanta rents are 49.23 percent lower on average than in New York. However, while its cost of living is 1.1 percent above the national average, this is quickly changing as housing demand increases with newcomers. Get to know the cost of living in Atlanta, from transportation to goods and services.

Housing costs in Atlanta

Atlanta’s housing market — whether you’re renting or buying — is not for the faint of heart. The average rent in Atlanta has gone up 0.11 percent to $1,655 per month for a one-bedroom in the past year. This average rent fluctuates dramatically per neighborhood and amenities offered.

Midtown, Old Fourth Ward and Buckhead are among the most expensive neighborhoods with average rents between $2,180 and $2,500 per month for a one-bedroom. Neighborhoods close to the average rent in Atlanta include Morningside, Westside, Home Park, Kirkwood, Edgewood and Lindbergh.

But if you’re looking to stay inside the city and save a little, you can find an apartment in Ormewood Park for $1,382 a month on average or Embry Hills at $1,260 per month.

The average home price in Atlanta at this time is $380,418. However, this is mainly dependent on the neighborhood. As of March 2021, home prices are up 7.7 percent compared to last year, according to Redfin. Most homes sell in less than 30 days.

cost of living in atlanta - brunch

Food costs in Atlanta

We can’t talk about Atlanta without food. The city currently houses incredible chefs across every cuisine, thanks to its diverse population. You can find anything from Southern fare to authentic Thai, Malaysian, Filipino, Mexican and more locally.

Atlanta’s cost of living for groceries is about 5 percent above the national average. Expect to see eggs for $1.25, ground beef for $4.61 a pound and bread for $3.65.

Utility costs in Atlanta

In the South, we love porch weather. Thanks to Atlanta’s mild winters, you get to enjoy the outdoors most of the year.

But, the city didn’t get its nickname “Hotlanta” for nothing, so know that in the summer, your energy bill will go up.

Thankfully, Atlanta’s utility prices are 15.3 percent below the national average. You can expect your total energy costs to be around $120.82 each month.

For the internet, the city has a limited amount of providers, but your bill will hover around $67.49 a month.

Atlanta skyline.

Transportation costs in Atlanta

Yes, the rumors are true — Atlanta’s infamous traffic is real. The city takes a spot on the worst traffic listicles year after year. The average commute is 35 minutes, according to a recent study. However, once you’re off the highway, the stress tends to diminish as you have more options to get out of your car and get around.

Hop on MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation system, and use the rail and bus system to navigate the city. The options amount to a 49 transit score. It’s not as expansive as the subway in New York, but it makes your commute a little easier to Buckhead, Midtown, the airport and OTP (outside the perimeter).

MARTA allows frequent riders to save by offering a 7-day pass for $23.75 and a monthly pass for $95.

MARTA also connects with the Atlanta Streetcar that navigates the downtown and Edgewood neighborhoods with 12 stops. A round-trip Breeze card will cost $5 (with up to four transfers), and one ride on the Streetcar costs $1 (with no free MARTA transfers).

Atlanta’s bike score is 46, but some neighborhoods are more bike-friendly than others. Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park and Cabbagetown have bike lanes all over that quickly drop you on the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. The BeltLine loop connects all of the city’s 45 neighborhoods. With a walk score of 55, you can also get to know the City in a Forest via foot.

If you decide to drive, motorists are wasting up to $1,043 annually and 50 hours searching for parking. You’ll also spend on average $2,233 a year on gasoline.

All in all, the cost of living for transportation in Atlanta is about 2 percent above the national average.

Atlanta skyline in Piedmont Park.

Healthcare costs in Atlanta

Whether it’s a routine check-up or a more serious health mishap, navigating healthcare systems is never easy. Since everyone’s health situations are different, it’s difficult to come up with overall healthcare spend in Atlanta, but here are some cost guidelines.

In Atlanta, you have access to quality healthcare at Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital. Atlanta healthcare costs are 2 percent above the national average.

A regular doctor visit costs $119.80 on average while a prescription drug can set you back $459.02 on average (without insurance of some kind). You can pick up ibuprofen at your local pharmacy for $8.71 on average.

Goods and services costs in Atlanta

Beyond essential bills, Atlanta remains on par with the national average across different categories. You’ll goods and services will hover around 2.3 percent above the national average.

Atlanta’s neighborhoods are very pet-friendly, so if you get a pup to walk around the city with you, vet services cost $56.23 per visit on average.

More a movie buff? A ticket to a new release on average costs $14.15.

For exercise, you have plenty of choices from pilates, yoga studios, kickboxing and even 24/7-access facilities. A yoga class will average more than $17, but many luxury apartments in the city include a small gym as an amenity if you’re looking to stay on budget.

Luckily, you can have a great time for free as well around the city with plenty of outdoor opportunities at city parks like Piedmont Park and the Atlanta BeltLine.

Ponce City Market in Atlanta, cost of living in atlanta

Taxes in Atlanta

Understanding what county and part of the city you live in will make it easier to decipher your taxes. In Atlanta, the sales tax rate is 8.9 percent — that’s 7 percent for DeKalb and Fulton counties and 1.90 percent additional for the city of Atlanta. In this case, if you spend $100 shopping at Ponce City Market, you’ll pay $8.90 in sales tax.

The state has two sales tax holidays a year, including a back-to-school event. Georgia does not tax grocery items. However, prepared food, alcoholic beverages, dietary supplements, drugs, over-the-counter drugs and tobacco all require taxes applied to purchases. The state’s income tax rate is 5.75 percent for the highest bracket currently.

How much do I need to earn to live in Atlanta?

Most financial advisors recommend keeping your rent payment at 30 percent of your gross income or less. You would need to make at least $66,200 annually to afford a one-bedroom apartment on average in Atlanta. Currently, a one-bedroom costs $1,655 per month on average.

For perspective, an average Atlanta resident makes around $69,000 a year. Want to know where you stand with your current budget? Use our rent calculator to get a high view of how it would change after moving to Atlanta.

Living in Atlanta

Everyone says come to Atlanta in the fall for its beautiful autumn colors, crisp 70-degree weather and outdoor hiking. Yes, it’s not always “Hotlanta.” The cost of living in Atlanta offers access to big city amenities while still finding small corners for recreation and the outdoors. The city’s technology, supply chain and other industries are quickly growing for more job opportunities.

Find great apartments for rent or homes to buy in Atlanta today.

Cost of living information comes from The Council for Community and Economic Research.
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 April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon

Shopper upset about an online purchase
Kate Kultsevych / Shutterstock.com

It’s hard to beat having things delivered straight to your door — even when you’re not stuck at home due to a pandemic.

Amazon has made it easy for anyone to order just about anything and have it delivered to their doorstep. But just because you can purchase something on Amazon, it doesn’t mean you should.

Following are some purchases that we don’t think you should ever make on Amazon — and our reasons why.

1. Kirkland-branded items

Costco's Kirkland Signature brand of organic creamy almond butter
David Tonelson / Shutterstock.com

When you buy Kirkland-branded products on Amazon, you are buying from a third-party reseller, as Costco doesn’t sell its private-label products on Amazon. Costco says on its website that “Costco.com will not be liable for merchandise once it has been signed for and approved by the third party facility.”

Additionally, because Kirkland products on Amazon have gone through a third-party reseller, it’s possible that some of those products could be counterfeit or expired. A 2019 Quartz analysis also found that Kirkland products tend to be more expensive on Amazon.

If you have a Costco close to you, consider shopping there. Many items are also available to order on Costco.com and can be shipped to your home.

Even if you don’t have a membership, you still can shop at warehouses if you pay with a Costco gift card and shop online if you pay a surcharge, as we detail in “7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership.”

2. Add-on items you don’t need

Amazon boxes seen piled up on a doorstep
Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock.com

Amazon offers what it calls “add-on items” — items that are low-priced but only available for purchase if your order totals $25.

While many of the add-on items are great deals, you will end up spending money to save money — which is never a good idea — if you buy an add-on item you don’t need.

Stick to buying add-on items that are already on your shopping list and avoid buying ones that simply looked good at the time.

3. Trader Joe’s products

R.A. Walker Photography / Shutterstock.com

Trader Joe’s items sold on Amazon can come with a high markup compared with buying in a store. They are sold by third-party sellers who may list damaged, expired or even counterfeit products.

A Trader Joe’s representative told Refinery 29 in 2019, “We do not authorize the reselling of our products and cannot stand behind the quality, safety or value of any Trader Joe’s product sold outside of our store.”

For more TJ’s shopping guidance, check out “15 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s.”

4. Paper towels

Couple using paper towels
LightField Studios / Shutterstock.com

It’s easy to assume that household items such as paper towels are cheaper on Amazon. However, Money Talks News managing editor Karla Bowsher has a different take:

“Every single time I’ve compared per-square-foot prices, Costco’s Kirkland paper towels have been cheaper than even Amazon’s own brands of paper towels (Presto and Solimo). That was even the case on Prime Day.”

You might also find cheaper paper towels at stores like Walmart. So, compare prices before pulling out your credit card.

5. Ikea products

monticello / Shutterstock.com

Since Ikea locations can be out of the way, it’s tempting to order their products online via Amazon. But Ikea no longer sells products online via Amazon, so everything you see on Amazon comes from third-party sellers.

Ikea offers many of its items online. You’ll pay at least $5 for shipping, but you’ll know that what you are getting is a new and genuine Ikea item.

6. Off-brand accessories for Apple devices

think4photop / Shutterstock.com

Acessories for Apple devices are not cheap, so it’s tempting to hop on Amazon and search for off-brand versions. But knock-off chargers, for example, can damage your iPhone’s motherboard — which isn’t easily or cheaply repaired.

Vice explains:

“The Geniuses at the Apple won’t be able to help, either — they can’t make repairs to the motherboard. So if you don’t want to be stuck buying a new phone, you’ll have to go to an independent repair shop that offers microsoldering services. They’re the only ones who will be able to revive a mangled motherboard. Of course, it’s much easier to just avoid knock-off chargers in the first place.”

7. Almost anything else that is cheaper elsewhere

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Don’t assume that Amazon has the best price on everything. At least comparison-shop at other online retailers before clicking the “buy” button.

Amazon’s prices also fluctuate, so something may be cheaper one day and more expensive the next. But free tools like CamelCamelCamel can tell you how the price for a certain item has fluctuated over time, which gives you a sense of whether Amazon’s current price is good.

To learn about other tools like CamelCamelCamel, check out “7 Free Tools for Saving More Money on Amazon.”

8. Fresh produce

nd3000 / Shutterstock.com

If you order your food through Amazon Fresh — Amazon’s grocery delivery and pickup service — the quality of fresh produce can vary. You are relying on a shopper to select produce for you, so you may not get what you want.

When you go to a local store, on the other hand, you can pick out your own produce, ensuring you get the best size and quality for the price.

9. Anything with reviews you didn’t vet

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

You find what seems like a great product at an even better price and all the reviews are glowing. That’s an automatic buy, right? Not necessarily. Amazon has had issues with fake reviews in the past — as CNET reported in 2019, for example — so you might not want to take Amazon reviews at face value.

Fortunately, free tools like Fakespot and ReviewMeta can help by giving you an idea of how authentic reviews of a particular item are.

10. Designer items sold by third parties

Nejron Photo / Shutterstock.com

While some designers sell their products through Amazon, many of the listings you will find are from third parties. So, it’s important to scrutinize each listing to ensure that the item you’re buying is sold by the company or an authorized reseller.

When buying through a third-party seller that is not an authorized reseller, there is no way to verify that what you’re getting is authentic.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Amazon Subscribe & Save – 9 Ways to Save the Most Money on Deals

If you’re trying to save money on a tight budget, signing up for subscription services is probably the last thing on your mind. After all, things like cutting your cable subscription or canceling underused subscriptions are quick ways to lower your monthly bills.

But subscription services aren’t necessarily bad for your wallet. While subscription boxes aren’t always worth it, e-commerce giants like Amazon have created a new way to save time and money when ordering everyday essentials.

With Amazon Subscribe & Save, you can simplify your life and save up to 15% on thousands of Amazon products. If you’re tired of overpaying for daily necessities and want to spend less time shopping in stores, Subscribe & Save is definitely worth trying.

How Amazon Subscribe & Save Works

It’s already easy to save money by shopping on Amazon. Between competitive prices and free shipping on thousands of products through Amazon Prime, it’s clear why Amazon dominates e-commerce sales in the United States and much of the world.

Amazon Subscribe & Save is simply another program in Amazon’s money-saving toolkit, albeit an incredibly powerful one. With Subscribe & Save, you save money by subscribing to regular Amazon deliveries for thousands of different products. Household items, grocery store products, cleaning supplies, pet food, and personal care products are popular categories, and getting started with the program takes only four steps:

  1. Select Products. Shop for eligible Subscribe & Save products from the subscriptions page. Eligible items also have a Subscribe & Save option on their product detail page that you can select when browsing Amazon.
  2. Choose Quantity and Schedule. Select the product quantity and shipping schedule for every product you add to your subscription. Your auto-delivery options range from two weeks to six months.
  3. Create Subscription. Confirm your subscription and delivery address. Each product indicates its delivery date so you know when to expect your first order.
  4. Manage Existing Subscriptions. Amazon sends a reminder email in advance of their next delivery. This email outlines the products you’re subscribing to, their current prices, and any price changes since your last order. You can change delivery frequency, remove products, skip deliveries, and change delivery location as long as you make changes before your next order ships.

Almost every Subscribe & Save product saves at least 5% for creating a subscription. Plus, shipping is always free for Prime members, though non-Prime customers may pay shipping costs for their first delivery (but not subsequent deliveries). Whether you’re a Prime member or not, there aren’t any cancellation fees for ending your subscription.

However, Subscribe & Save truly shines when you get serious and add more products. If you add at least five products to an order for a single address, you save 15% on everything. When you consider how affordable Amazon is alongside these savings, Subscribe & Save is an effective way to save money on household products and other essentials.

As with other Amazon products, prices fluctuate. If you check your subscription reminder email and don’t think the extra savings are worth it, you can always swap products or skip your upcoming subscription.


How to Save Even More Money With Subscribe & Save

Adding at least five products to save 15% is the best feature of Subscribe & Save. However, truly frugal shoppers can also make use of other strategies to cut costs.

1. Join Amazon Prime

An Amazon Prime membership is already a worthwhile investment for avid Amazon shoppers since it provides free shipping on thousands of products and exclusive deals. Additionally, your Prime membership can help you save money on baby expenses through the Amazon Family program.

Prime members who order at least five products are eligible for 20% off diapers, baby food, and a range of vitamins and supplements. Having a baby is expensive, so a 20% discount on child care essentials certainly lessens the financial strain.

You don’t have to order five baby products to get 20% off. As long as your total Subscribe & Save order has five products, products eligible for 20% off get that discount. If you don’t need enough available baby products, you can subscribe to filler items you’d buy anyway, like paper towels or toothpaste, or grocery products you might normally buy in the store to maximize your discount.

2. Clip Coupons

If you’re a fan of coupon apps or extreme couponing, you can get similar savings by clipping Subscribe & Save coupons directly on Amazon.

Subscribe & Save coupons provide discounts on your order that go beyond regular savings. Many Amazon coupons offer 20% to 40% off your first order or $5 to $10 off regular pricing the first time you order a product. Plus, coupons are available for a range of products, including:

  • Batteries
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Supplements
  • Beauty products
  • Detergent
  • Pet supplies
  • Food and kitchen products

Once you select “clip coupon,” your discount automatically applies when you add the product to your Subscribe & Save order and check out. Coupons stack with existing Subscribe & Save deals, meaning you can save an impressive amount.

3. Use the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa

Another way to make the most of Subscribe & Save is to shop with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card. This cash-back credit card has various Amazon-specific perks, making it a must-have for any regular Amazon shopper. Cardholder benefits include:

  • 3% cash back at Amazon and Whole Foods
  • 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores
  • 1% cash back on utilities, rideshares, and all other purchases
  • A $50 Amazon gift card sign-up bonus

There’s no annual fee, although you must be an Amazon Prime member to become a cardholder. However, the $50 free Amazon gift card already covers a significant portion of your annual Prime membership, and it’s a strong cash-back credit card overall for anyone who regularly shops on Amazon.

4. Get Creative for 5 Products

If you don’t add five products to your Subscribe & Save order, you’re missing out on a lot of savings. However, you can get creative to reach five products and get the most benefit from the program.

Start by reviewing your weekly shopping list and then check Subscribe & Save for those products. Toilet paper, grocery items, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and garbage bags are examples of eligible products, so adding these products to your subscription is a straightforward way to reach five products.

You can also add things you need to replace on a specific schedule, like air conditioner filters or toothbrushes. Putting them on Subscribe & Save acts as a reminder to change them out.

Subscribe & Save has thousands of eligible products, so reaching five products isn’t a challenge for most. In fact, surpassing five products in your subscription is likely once you get used to ordering online since Amazon is both affordable and convenient.

If you’re still at a loss, you can create an order for yourself and a family member, close friend, or neighbor. Subscribe & Save orders must ship to the same address to get the full discount. But if you regularly see the other person, you can simply hand off their products and have them transfer money to you.

Finally, if you’re a business owner or plan to start your own business, check out eligible office products to reach your five items. That’s a simple way to cut costs for your business and maximize Subscribe & Save’s potential.

5. Always Read Subscribe & Save Emails

Amazon emails you before every upcoming delivery, listing the products in your order and their prices. It’s crucial to read the email to confirm you need to replenish the products in your order. Additionally, Amazon prices are dynamic, and the last thing you want is to overpay because you skipped an email. That also means it pays to keep track of what your local brick-and-mortars charge for the products on your list.

It’s free to skip or modify your order if you’re fully stocked or dissatisfied with the price. Keep stock of essentials you’re running low on, and regularly check Subscribe & Save to see if there are more affordable alternatives. It takes an order or two to get your delivery frequency right, but the savings are worth it.

6. Compare Different Quantities

You can select a two-week delivery window for Subscribe & Save. But it’s often cost-effective to buy in bulk and have less frequent deliveries.

For example, categories like pet food, toilet paper, and batteries often become cheaper the more you buy. While spending more upfront is unpleasant, if you know you’re going to use the products and they won’t go to waste, bulk shopping can save more money. Plus, you can always update your delivery dates and quantities if you start running low on something or decide bulk shopping isn’t for you. Just make sure you have the space to store everything you buy.

7. Don’t Stop Deal Shopping

One risk of subscription services is that you end up paying for something you don’t use. Subscribe & Save is different in this regard since it focuses on everyday essentials. But that doesn’t mean you should become complacent.

Amazon prices are generally competitive, but there are other ways to save money on everyday purchases. For example, shopping in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club might rival some of your Subscribe & Save products in price and quality. Alternatively, for some essentials, local or online dollar stores might be a cheaper option.

There are also plenty of shopping sites with free shipping and perks that can rival Amazon. For example, both Walmart and Target offer fast and free shipping on orders over $35. Walmart also offers Walmart+, a membership program that grants free delivery, free shipping, and faster in-store checkout. And customers who use the Target REDcard also receive free two-day shipping. (Though neither has a subscription program if that’s what you’re looking for.)

Ultimately, think of Subscribe & Save as one of many platforms to help cut down on spending, not your only shopping option.

8. Use Shopping Browser Extensions

There’s no excuse for not using a shopping browser extension to find deals and save money if you shop online.

That’s also true for Subscribe & Save, and there are several browser extensions you can use to maximize savings:

  • Honey. Honey automatically adds coupon codes when you check out at thousands of online stores. On Amazon, Honey also compares prices between products you’re considering to ensure you find the best deal. You can also create price-drop alerts to receive an email when Amazon products you’re interested in drop in price. Read our Honey review.
  • Capital One Shopping: Like Honey, Capital One Shopping also automatically applies coupon codes to save time and money when shopping online. You can also shop at Capital One partners to earn credits, which are redeemable for various free gift cards. If you have a specific product in mind, the product search feature finds the best online price, so you can check whether Amazon is the most affordable option. Read our Capital One Shopping review.
  • CamelCamelCamel: If you want to time your shopping trip to buy products when they’re at historically low prices, CamelCamelCamel is a powerful research tool you need to try. This Amazon price tracker displays price history charts for millions of Amazon products and lets you create price-drop alerts. While it’s difficult to time your shopping for Subscribe & Save orders, CamelCamelCamel is an effective way to reference price history to avoid scheduling at historically peak price windows.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.

9. Try Cash-Back Rewards Websites

Another simple way to save more with Subscribe & Save is to earn cash-back rewards for your online shopping. Websites like Rakuten and TopCashback partner with thousands of online retailers and pay you cash back for shopping. Both platforms are free, and you can also earn a $10 sign-up bonus for joining Rakuten to kickstart your savings.

Amazon discounts aren’t always available on these platforms. However, if you can time a Subscribe & Save order with a cash-back bonus, you’re looking at even more savings. Plus, Rakuten and TopCashback work with thousands of other online retailers, so they’re worth trying even if Amazon savings aren’t currently available.

Rakuten pays out cash back quarterly through PayPal or check as long as you have more than $5 in your account. TopCashback lets you withdraw any time through PayPal or free gift cards. You can also install the Rakuten extension and TopCashback extension to receive notifications when the website you’re shopping on is eligible for cash-back rewards.


Final Word

When you consider how affordable and convenient shopping on Amazon is, it’s easy to understand why this e-commerce giant is so popular.

Subscribe & Save is yet another Amazon feature that rewards you for your loyalty. At the very least, you can save 5% on products you use regularly and cut down on gas costs by shopping in person less frequently. At best, you can save 20% or more on everyday essentials and simplify your life without committing to expensive subscription terms or locking yourself into a contract.

The only caution is to avoid buying products you don’t need or overstocking on perishable goods. It might take time to get your delivery frequency and products right, and you have to be diligent with reading order emails. But once you get into a rhythm, there’s no reason to pay full price for most of your daily necessities thanks to Amazon.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Ready to Work Remote? Here Are the Home Office Essentials You Need

As work-from-home jobs become more ubiquitous, so do requirements for home offices.

We’ve noticed some trends in home-office requirements — some very reasonable and others… not so much. For example, some employers give thousands of dollars in stipends to deck out your home office while others require specific 17-inch dual-screen monitors without providing reimbursement.

Most remote jobs are somewhere in the middle, but it’s likely that you’ll need to invest a little in your home office before it’s work-from-home ready.

This list of home office essentials is based on common remote job requirements and advice from remote employees. It will give you an idea of what items your home office might need and how much it will cost to transition into a work-from-home career, particularly in the sales, customer service or IT fields.

Typical Office Requirements for Work-From-Home Jobs

Computer Setup

Portability is a large consideration for remote jobs. After all, half the fun of working at home is curling up in bed with your laptop on those lazy days. If that’s the case, a light laptop is your best option. But computer prices may make you feel a little queasy.

Work-from-home reporter James Duren agreed.

“Spending more than $1,000 on a MacBook, for example, isn’t always feasible, even if we write them off [on taxes],” Duren said.

He uses a $170 Chromebook.

“The most beneficial aspect of it is that everything is stored in the cloud,” Duren said. “So I’m never at risk of losing documents in the event my laptop dies.”

This is a double-edged feature, however. The biggest adjustment may be the availability of apps and programs. The Chromebook is its own operating system, which means some popular applications aren’t available to download.

For jobs that require specific sales or IT software, an inexpensive PC with the latest Windows operating system may be the best choice.

High-Speed Internet

Besides a computer, the most common requirement for a work-from-home job is a steady, hard-wired internet connection. That means your laptop or computer must directly connect to your modem with an ethernet cable — not through Wi-Fi.

Typically, employers will require minimum upload and download speeds. The sweet spot seems to be 10 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload. Try Ookla’s internet speed test to see if your current connection meets that standard.

To find the best deal, there are many websites that compare internet providers based on speed, price and area of availability. According to an estimate by internet and phone service search engine WhistleOut, you will likely pay $30 to $50 a month to meet the minimum internet speed requirement for most work-from-home jobs. (WhistleOut is owned by Clearlink, which also owns The Penny Hoarder.)

But be sure to do some comparisons on your own to get a more accurate number, as your location may affect prices.

Landline and Phone

In the customer service and sales industries especially, a solid home-office phone is a godsend. You’ll typically need call forwarding, holding, conferencing and voicemail features in your day-to-day, which is pretty standard for most office phones. Amazon has a slew of models between $50 and $80. It’s probably overkill to spend more than that.

If you were hoping to skirt landline costs by using a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service like Google Voice or your own cell phone, most employers in phone-reliant industries forbid it. They typically want a dedicated landline.

Landlines are becoming antiquated as VoIP services are taking over, but some large companies like AT&T provide plans for less than $25 a month when bundled with internet services. If you already have a landline service, adding an additional line or bundling it with your current internet or cable provider may save you some cash, too.

A woman takes a work from home call while wearing a headset at her home office.
Getty Images

Headset and Microphone

Headsets are frequently required, but even if the job listing doesn’t specify them, a noise-canceling headset can do wonders for productivity. And during meetings or phone calls, you’ll probably need your hands free for note taking.

“For telecommuting, the most important tool is a good headset that allows me to comfortably attend meetings without the noises of my neighborhood intruding,” remote content writer Arwen Brenneman said.

Several remote workers recommended their favorite pair of headphones and headsets to The Penny Hoarder. If you have the funds, software developer Austin Grandt recommends Bose QuietComfort headphones.

“The headphones are perfect for working at home or in a shared setting like a co-working space, as the noise-cancelling puts me into my own zone,” Grandt said. “The built-in microphone on the cable of the headphones also works great for when you have to have video chats or phone calls.”

The Bose headset can range anywhere from $200 to $400 on Amazon, depending on the model.

If you’re looking for a cheaper setup, Srhythm has a highly rated noise-reduction headset with a built-in microphone for around $50.

Desk

It would be pretty rare for a job listing to specifically require a desk. It’s kind of a given.

But desks are sometimes overlooked. Realistically, the standard cubicle-sized desk doesn’t work for apartments or home offices.

So it’s good to consider your size and storage limitations when shopping around.

“I believe the best purchase I ever made was a stand-up desk,” said Matt Schmidt, a remote insurance adviser. “Being able to go from a sitting desk to standing desk throughout the day was a lifesaver.”

Schmidt recommended the xec-FIT desk, which runs for around $300, but you can find adjustable desks for half that price on Amazon.

What about portability?

“A $15 IKEA bed-tray is my go-to for working from the cozy comfort of my couch,” Brenneman said.

An office desk and chair are shown in this photo. Both a desk and office chair are essential items to purchase when working from home.
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Office chair

If there is one home office essential to splurge on, it’s the office chair. Being uncomfortable is really distracting, and bad posture leads to a host of other long-term issues. Creature comforts are important when it comes to sitting for hours at a time.

“One of the most important items for me personally is a comfortable and posture-support chair,” said Nicholas Kinports, a remote business development executive.

His go-to chair is from Aeron. The model he suggested will cost you up to $500, but Kinports said it’s worth every penny.

For a more budget-friendly option, try the Alera Elusion Series Mesh Chair. According to ReviewGeek, it’s the best chair if you’re trying not to sell an arm and a leg to support your back.

“It’s the little things that can cause distractions and discomfort,” Kinports said. “Make sure you invest in exactly what you need to achieve your best focus everyday.”

Dual Monitors

Monitor specs are usually contained to the IT, sales or customer service industries. But as a writer, I find dual monitors extremely beneficial. They help me stay organized by separating tabs and tasks to certain screens.

“As a [software] developer, an extra screen is also a must,” said Grandt. “Something that is larger than the 13-inch laptop… keeps me productive.”

PC Magazine rated the best monitors of 2021, and Lenovo’s ThinkVision M14 received a great review. Its screen brightness and portability make it ideal for home-office use. And in most home offices, desk space is a luxury. Consider adding a monitor mount for an extra $30 or so.

The Little Extras

Although they may not be considered “essential,” making your home office comfortable enough to work in every day may require a few more touches of comfort. You may not need any of the following items to get started, but you’ll likely want to incorporate some of these extras into your home office eventually:

  • Office supplies. Think notepads, pens and paper clips.
  • Power strip. The more electronics you accumulate, the more you’ll appreciate extra outlets.
  • Good task lighting. Your eyes will thank you for it.
  • Shelving or an organizational system. Yes, you can be totally digital. But you still may want a place to store professional reference books or your coffee mug collection.

If you land a work-from-home gig that doesn’t cover home-office costs, be prepared to dish out $700 as a one-time investment to ensure your workspace is up to snuff. For the costlier options on the list, it could run you up to $2,500 — not including monthly internet, phone payments or pajamas.

And freelancers, be sure to write these expenses off as itemized deductions on your taxes.

Adam Hardy is former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Save Money When You Buy Frozen Produce Over Fresh

“A broccoli floret is a broccoli floret whether that be store brand or Birds Eye,” Wesley said. “It is a single-ingredient food. It is a broccoli floret. Period. End of story.”
The fruit and vegetables that end up in the frozen foods aisle of your local supermarkets are often picked and frozen at the peak of freshness. Essentially, they end up being more “fresh” than some of the produce that has to travel from farms to the stores to your kitchen counter.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily She said that people who keep their favorite produce stocked in the freezer tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. For the healthiest outcome, make sure you’re buying frozen produce that doesn’t include added sauces or seasoning, which will increase your saturated fat and sodium intake.
In addition, frozen produce often is a better choice because it reduces food waste. Frozen berries and green beans, for example, can last up to a year in the freezer. If you accidentally leave their fresh counterparts in the fridge for longer than a week, you’ll end up with moldy berries and limp green beans that you’ll have to throw away.
“I’ve had a lot of my patients tell me that they do not consume fruits and vegetables because they cannot afford organic,” said Wendy Wesley, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based registered dietician and nutritionist.
The winning quality of frozen fruits and vegetables is that they’re ready when you are, Wesley said. With fresh produce, on the other hand, the clock is ticking to eat it before it goes bad. Privacy Policy
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. The high price of fresh, organic produce can be a deterrent for shoppers who want to be healthy but need to stick to a budget.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
From a nutritional standpoint, there is no downside with frozen produce, Wesley said.
“For a long time, I would only buy fresh produce,” Wesley said. “I wasted a lot of fresh produce, because life got in the way and I didn’t get to it in time. And that’s when I became an advocate for frozen vegetables.” <!–

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Choosing frozen produce over fresh also means there’s more of a chance for you to find manufacturer or store coupons to help cut down the price. Keep in mind, however, there’s often little to no difference in the generic version of frozen produce versus its name-brand counterpart — and you can usually save money by buying the cheaper store brand.

The Best Places to Live in Nevada in 2021

Nevada is typically thought of as a hot, dry desert with Las Vegas being the main reason people visit or choose to live there. But the state offers so much more!

The best places to live in Nevada include many family-friendly cities, some of which are close to beautiful lakes and stunning mountains. There are places for boating, hiking and even winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding.

On the financial side of things, it’s one of the few states that doesn’t have personal income tax! So take a look and explore the best places to live in Nevada.

Boulder City, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

Boulder City is small, family-friendly and pretty safe—which is very different from the larger, more famous city of Las Vegas that lies only 30 minutes away.

It has small-town vibes and a very tight-knit community, making it an attractive place for young families wanting the fun and excitement of Las Vegas without living in such a vast, bustling city.

Plus, you’ve got Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam nearby for outdoor recreation.

Find apartments for rent in Boulder City
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Carson City, NV.

Nevada’s state capital, Carson City, is fairly unique to most other cities in Nevada, with it being close to anything you might enjoy, be it outdoor recreation or big city lights.

Because it lies much further north than Las Vegas, its weather isn’t always hot and dry. You can enjoy all four unique seasons, including some snow in winter.

You’re also less than an hour away from the beautiful shores and mountains of Lake Tahoe, where summer swimming and boating are popular and winter skiing is available.

Plus, there’s Reno nearby in case you want to explore a Vegas-like city that’s not quite so large.

Carson City itself still has great restaurants in its downtown area and is family-friendly. Even with all of this great stuff, it’s still one of the least-crowded cities in America.

Find apartments for rent in Carson City
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Fallon, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

Because it’s fairly quiet and mellow, Fallon draws in both young families and retirees who are looking to live life at a slower pace. This has given the town the nickname of the “Oasis of Nevada.” There are also many military families due to the naval base nearby.

It’s a great place for those that are adventurous and enjoy exploring since it’s within two hours of Lake Tahoe, the Nevada state capital of Carson City and Reno’s bright lights.

Plus, there are plenty of community events and festivals throughout the year for locals (and visitors) to attend.

Find apartments for rent in Fallon
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Henderson, NV.

As part of the greater Las Vegas city, Henderson is big city living, but in the suburbs. It’s less than a 30-minute drive to get to the strip, with many of Las Vegas’ great restaurants and shopping spots located even closer.

Henderson is very focused on building a safe community and bringing people together, so there are lots of great events and activities going on. One of the most popular is a downtown art festival, where many local artists and art-lovers gather each month to support each other.

Find apartments for rent in Henderson
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Las Vegas, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

One of the most well-known cities in the world, Las Vegas draws in a diverse crowd of tourists and residents alike.

There’s never a dull moment and something for everyone is easily found at every corner. Restaurants, shows, shopping and even major league sports are all part of Vegas.

Because it’s a large city, it’s divided up into neighborhoods, some of which give residents a “big city” feel and others that are a little bit quieter and calm.

Plus, the location is ideal —in just a few hours, you can find yourself at the beaches near Los Angeles or the mountains of Utah.

Find apartments for rent in Las Vegas
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Laughlin, NV.

You’ll find Laughlin nestled right on the Nevada-Arizona border, near the banks of the Colorado River.

It offers adventurous desert living, where off-roading is a favorite pastime and it’s warm and sunny, making it perfect for anyone that enjoys swimming frequently in the Colorado River.

You’ll always meet new people in Laughlin as its economy thrives on tourism — it’s full of casinos and resorts that bring in new crowds every day of the year.

Find apartments for rent in Laughlin
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North Vegas, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

North Las Vegas is the happy medium for anyone wanting to feel like they live in the hustle and bustle of Vegas, but without feeling like they’re in the overcrowded streets of downtown and the Strip.

It’s been experiencing a revitalization and the city has been recently focusing on improving safety, entertainment and diversity in the area.

You’ve still got the Strip and main city nearby, plus endless restaurants and shopping, but at the end of the day, you don’t have to deal with constant traffic and tourists walking everywhere. It’s not too close, yet not too far away!

Find apartments for rent in North Las Vegas
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Reno, NV.

The “biggest little city in the world” is one that’s full of surprises. Reno is typically known for gambling and casinos, but it actually has many great ski resorts for winter sports. But it’s not just winter that makes it exciting—it’s less than an hour to Lake Tahoe, so expect exciting and fun summers.

Reno has one of the best bar scenes, most of which are open 24-hours. And because it has so much room to grow, many large businesses are building offices in the area, further stabilizing the already-stable economy.

Find apartments for rent in Reno
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Sparks, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

If you’re a fan of Reno, then you’ll probably also like Sparks, which is a small town that’s basically a suburb of Reno. It’s close to all of the excitement that the bigger city offers with a relaxed vibe.

And with the growth of Reno’s business sector, Sparks is seeing a lot more development to accommodate the increasing number of jobs and residents in the area.

There’s a pretty diverse age group, with everyone from college students, young professionals, families and retirees mingling throughout the city.

Find apartments for rent in Sparks
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Sun Valley, NV.

As yet another town near Reno, Sun Valley is also seeing much growth but is still more rural than the main city center and Sparks. Many of its residents actually like that there are very few stores and restaurants in the area, as it keeps it quiet and not many random tourists end up wandering through.

Because of its lack of city recreation, there are many community events that provide opportunities to get to know your neighbors and interact with the other locals. It’s full of humble, eccentric people that are always welcoming to newcomers and outsiders.

Find apartments for rent in Sun Valley
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Find your own best place to live in Nevada

Las Vegas isn’t the only place to live in Nevada, especially if you’re looking for a little less of the “big city.”

There are plenty of other cities and suburbs that give you everything you could imagine. From community events to all-year outdoor recreation — you only need to open your mind up to the possibilities of Nevada.

Source: rent.com

Instacart vs. Shopping in Person: Which is Best for You?

You work eight hours a day, get stuck in traffic, hit the gym and somehow, you still need to scrunch up the energy to make a trip to the grocery store before getting home to cook. We’re tired just thinking about it.

Grocery delivery app Instacart aims to save you time by providing you with an on-demand personal shopper that picks up your groceries on the same day you place the order. Your first order is free and all subsequent orders include a small delivery fee when you spend $35 or more.

The catch, however, is the prices you pay for grocery items through Instacart may be slightly higher, often with a markup of up to 20 percent. Those higher prices can be worth it if you lead a busy life. But you also have to take into account the delivery fee (starting at $3.99), the driver tip (20 percent) and the service fee for the order. Each order requires a minimum of $10 on the cart.

To bring perspective into your decision, we’ve put together a list of items available at Publix, one of Instacart’s grocery store offerings, that shows the difference between picking it up at the store or ordering from Instacart.

1. Kashi cereal

Publix’s famous BOGO deal is available both in-store and through the app for Kashi Cereal. However, the buy one, get one free of equal or lesser price is cheaper in store. Most cereals in-store are priced at $4.49, but on the app, it’s 50 cents higher at $4.99.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

2. 4-grain eggs

The 12-count, 4-grain, large brown vegetarian eggs are on sale for $2.25 (regularly $3.35) on Instacart, but the Publix in-store flyer lists an offer of two cartons for $4.00.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

3. Califia Farms almond milk

For those that opt for Instacart, you’ll miss out on Publix’s 3 for $10 Coconut Almondmilk 48 oz. bottle deal. Each bottle on the app is $3.69, only $0.76 off.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

4. Cottonelle 12-roll package

Shoppers at Publix will save nearly 70 cents on top of the current sale of Cottonelle 12-roll package of double rolls if they stop by their local store instead of going the Instacart route.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

5. Romaine hearts

If you’ve got a Caesar salad in the works, romaine hearts are first on your shopping list. A 3-ct bag is 2 for $4, versus $3.29 each on Instacart.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

6. Annie’s mac ‘n cheese

Annie’s Homegrown shells and white cheddar mac ‘n cheese sells for $2.19 in-store, versus Instacart’s $3.09.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

7. Italian parsley

On the other hand, certain produce like Italian parsley are the same price in-store or via the app ($1.69) signaling true time savings since the cost is the same.

Verdict: Same price on both

8. Dove body wash

In the Instacart app, Dove moisturizing body wash (22 oz.) is $6.34 each with the help of an in-app coupon, same as in-store.

Verdict: Same price on both

9. Smithfield bacon

Smithfield’s natural hickory smoked bacon is up for grabs at Publix in-store for $5.58 (or through a BOGO offer). The BOGO offer is also available through the Instacart app, but it’s $6.19 each.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

10. Blueberries

Each pack of blueberries on Instacart is $3.69. That same pack of blueberries is going for 3 for $10 at your local Publix – an offer not available in the on-demand app.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

Adding it all up

There’s no right choice as the on-demand service is meant to be a complement to your busy life. If less stress and more time is worth spending a little extra money, then click away and wait for your order to arrive. If you’d rather save your money, then grab a shopping cart and hit the aisles.

These figures were accurate at the time this article was composed in February 2019. Prices on Instacart and Publix may have fluctuated since that time.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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Digital Conglomerate Stocks – What They Are & Why You Should Invest

Conglomerates have become an important part of the United States economy. A conglomerate usually starts with a small company that does well. When the small company builds into a large one with plenty of free cash flow and looks to expand, it purchases other companies. Soon enough, the once-small company becomes a massive corporation with several subsidiary companies working underneath it.

Over the past few decades, the world has become digitized. In light of this technological revolution, there’s a new type of conglomerate — and it’s proving to be more valuable than any other class of conglomerates in history.

These are digital conglomerates. Naturally, with the emergence of these titans, investing dollars are flooding into them.

Although there are definitely perks to investing in digital conglomerates, every investment comes with risk, and the risk-vs.-reward profile should be carefully considered before investing your hard-earned money.

What Are Digital Conglomerates?

Digital conglomerates are just like any other conglomerate in the sense that they generally start as small companies that work their way to becoming massive companies through both organic growth and acquisitions. The difference between digital conglomerates and the conglomerates of yesterday is technology.

Digital conglomerates start with one piece of cutting-edge technology, living and breathing around the perfection of that technology. Once the technology is perfected and a proven success, the company begins to grow, driving new revenues, profits, and eventually free cash flow.

Instead of paying this free cash flow out in the form of dividends, a growing technology company will sometimes make the decision to use its free cash flow to purchase smaller companies with complementary or competing technologies that the acquiring company can work to integrate or perfect.

In this way, over time, the small digital company with a great idea can become a massive digital conglomerate with several subsidiary companies under its belt.

Digital Conglomerate Example: Alphabet

Alphabet started as Google, a company founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in late 1988. The goal of the company was to create a digital directory that put a massive database of information at the fingertips of the average consumer.

The plan worked.

When people want to know the name of an actor they can’t quite place the name of, a new recipe for a pound cake, or where to get the cheapest gas, the common solution since the 1990s has been to Google it. Google started as a brand surrounding an innovative technology and has today become a verb.

As Google began to accumulate massive amounts of free cash flow, the company decided to start purchasing smaller companies in technology and biotechnology. By August 2015, the company had revenue coming in from so many different subsidiaries that the name Google simply didn’t make sense anymore.

As a result, the company changed its name to Alphabet. The company not only owns the world’s largest search engine and advertising platform, but also owns robotics companies, cloud computing companies, and companies across various areas of the digital world.


COVID-19 Greatly Accelerated the Emergence of Digital Conglomerates

Google and Amazon.com were already digital conglomerates well before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold around the world. However, COVID-19 has greatly sped up many corners of the digital revolution, and it has sped up the emergence of digital conglomerates.

Due to COVID-19, consumers around the world have been told to stay home and stay safe. Stepping foot into a crowded restaurant, department store, or convention could be dangerous. As a result, people are staying home.

Staying home changes the way you do things.

While younger generations were already visiting doctors, buying goods, and managing their finances online, there’s a large older population who liked doing these activities the traditional way, face to face. This is the same population that is at the highest risk of severe medical events as a result of COVID-19.

Because of this, the consumers who were previously the least eager to shop, bank, and visit their doctors online are now embracing the opportunity to do so. Due to social distancing measures, the company Zoom — a brand that offers online conferencing capabilities — may quickly grow to become a digital conglomerate. Like Google before it, its name is becoming a verb.

These rapid, large-scale changes in consumer behavior may prove to be good or bad for digital conglomerates — unless you can see into the future, it’s impossible to know.

When the economy reopens completely and life goes back to normal, digital conglomerates are likely to continue to benefit from online users who tried these new technologies, but the real question is how many users will go back to more traditional services once the option is available to them again.

That question is impossible to answer until the economy fully reopens, and it represents an increased level of risk when considering an investment in one of today’s emerging digital conglomerates.

Pro tip: Earn a $30 bonus when you open and fund a new trading account from M1 Finance. With M1 Finance, you can customize your portfolio with stocks and ETFs, plus you can invest in fractional shares.


Digital Conglomerates Stocks Pros and Cons

No matter what type of investment you’re considering, it’s important to dive into the pros and cons before risking your hard-earned dollars.

Digital conglomerate stocks, as with any other type of stock, come with their own list of pros and cons that should be carefully considered before deciding to invest in the space. Without taking the time to do so, you’re not investing, you’re gambling with your money.

Pros of Digital Conglomerates Stocks

Digital conglomerates are massive, well-known companies that come with a sense of stability not seen with up-and-comers.

As a result, there are several benefits that come with investing in these types of stocks. Some of the most significant of these benefits include:

1. Digital Conglomerates Are Established Companies

Any company that has become a conglomerate has been around for a while and has seen incredible success. Think of the digital conglomerates that have already emerged. Alphabet paved the way with Google, and now has its fingers in nearly every area of the technology industry.

Amazon is another great example. The company revolutionized the way Americans shop by bringing great prices on one of the world’s largest catalogs of items to your computer, simplifying shopping and achieving great success in the process.

Today, Amazon owns Amazon Web Services, Audible, Zappos, and a long list of other digital shopping, media, and entertainment companies.

There are several traits these two massive digital conglomerates have in common, but the most important to consider are:

  • They’re Popular. Could you imagine a world without Google or Amazon? Neither could most people. These companies are popular companies that have become household names.
  • They’re Profitable. Both of these companies also have a strong history of generating free cash flow for their investors.
  • They’re Established. Combining a history of strong popularity among consumers and profitability tells you that Amazon and Google are well-established companies.

Investing in companies that are well established greatly reduces the risk associated with your investment.

2. The Digital Revolution Will Continue

At the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impressive growth in the digital revolution may slow, but it will not stop. The move to a digital world is one that surrounds simplicity.

Human instinct is to follow the path of least resistance. Digitizing the world simply creates a path with less resistance for the end consumer to do something valuable.

For example, when a salesperson rang your doorbell in the past, you would have to stop what you were doing, go to the door, and tell them you’re not interested. Today, Nest — an Alphabet subsidiary — provides a doorbell with a camera and a speaker, allowing consumers to answer someone at the door from their phones, simplifying the process. This is great in a time of social distancing, but also convenient during normal times too.

As long as human beings follow their instinct to take the path of least resistance, the technological revolution will continue. So, opportunities in the emerging digital conglomerates space will continue as well.

3. Gain Ownership In Companies You’re Already Familiar With

If you’re like most Americans, you have an intimate knowledge of Google, Amazon, and other digital conglomerates. Unless you live under a rock, the names at least ring a bell.

The most successful investors invest in what they know best. The idea is that the more you know about a company you’re considering investing in, the better your chances are of understanding the true long-term value that the company has to provide.

So, there’s significant value in familiarity when you’re considering an investment.

Because digital conglomerates are massive, well-known companies, you likely already know a great deal about the underlying story of the company you’re considering investing in and have a sense of its potential to yield long-term value.

Cons of Digital Conglomerates Stocks

Digital conglomerates are great investment vehicles for some. However, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all investment vehicle.

As with any rose, digital conglomerates come with a few thorns that investors should be aware of before they dive in headfirst.

1. Valuations Suggest a Bubble in Some Digital Conglomerates

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in digital conglomerates has been overwhelmingly high. In the stock market, high demand for a stock or a class of stocks results in increased prices, the result of the law of supply and demand.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, investors are looking for opportunities to achieve monumental growth in their portfolios through the stocks that benefit from the crisis. This has led to tremendously high valuations.

According to Investopedia, the average price-to-earnings ratio across the S&P 500 ranges between 13 and 15. Moreover, traditionally a price-to-book value of somewhere between 1 and 3 is considered to be an acceptable average range.

Now look at these key valuation metrics for the stocks of digital conglomerates Alphabet and Amazon as of September 2020:

Alphabet:

  • Price-to-Earnings Ratio. Alphabet currently trades with a price-to-earnings ratio of 34.05.
  • Price-to-Sales Ratio. Alphabet currently trades with a price-to-sales ratio of 7.09.

Amazon:

  • Price-to-Earnings Ratio. Amazon currently trades with a price-to-earnings ratio of 119.78.
  • Price-to-Sales Ratio. The stock also has a price-to-sales ratio of 4.94.

As you can see from the valuations above, Alphabet and Amazon shares currently trade at around double what their average valuation should be according to these traditional valuation metrics. These high valuations suggest that a bubble may be taking place in the space.

Should this be the case, at some point the bubble could burst and substantial losses may be the result.

2. Significant Growth Has Already Taken Place

When you invest in a conglomerate — digital or otherwise — you’re accepting the fact that the stock you’re investing in has already undergone significant growth.

The fact of the matter is that as a company gets bigger, it becomes harder to grow. Think of it this way:

A young company with a cutting-edge product that nobody knows about yet has plenty of room for growth. For example, a young Google in the early ‘90s had the world to capture. However, when a company has saturated its market to the extent that Amazon and Alphabet have, there is far less of a pool from which to grab new customers.

As a result, growth tends to slow and, in some cases, plateau. As a result, an investment in digital conglomerates isn’t the best option for those looking for more momentous growth opportunities in the stock market.

3. Diversification Is Difficult

Digital conglomerates fill some big shoes:

  • They have a massive following.
  • They’ve achieved a position of market leadership.
  • They generate incredible revenues.
  • They own a significant number of subsidiaries.

In other words, these companies have achieved a level of success that few companies ever do. That’s a great thing, but it also creates a problem for investors.

The most successful long-term portfolios tend to be well-diversified portfolios. Diversification is a great way to shield your portfolio from significant losses.

When investing in a class of stocks in which there are very few options, proper diversification becomes difficult. After all, the 5% rule suggests that you should never invest more than 5% of your portfolio in a single stock, no matter how little perceived risk it comes with.

That means to invest only in digital conglomerates, you would have to find 20 compelling opportunities. That’s nearly impossible to do.

Pro tip: Before you add any digital conglomerate stocks to your portfolio, make sure you’re choosing the best possible companies. Stock screeners like Stock Rover can help you narrow down the choices to companies that meet your individual requirements. Learn more about our favorite stock screeners.


How Much Should You Invest in Digital Conglomerates?

No single sector, asset class, or stock should encompass your entire investing portfolio. But how do you decide how much of your portfolio should be invested into digital conglomerates?

Here are a few tips that will help you decide:

Consider Your Appetite for Risk

There are some serious risks to consider when investing in digital conglomerates as the world seeks solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s a chance that the vast majority of people who have been reluctantly introduced to online services will continue to go digital. There’s also a chance that the opposite will happen when it becomes safe to venture away from home.

Should the economy reopen and revenues among digital conglomerates suggest that market valuations have gone too high too fast, significant losses may be the result.

As such, at least until a few months following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, an investment in digital conglomerates should be considered a medium-risk investment at best, and potentially a high-risk play.

Therefore, if you have a weak stomach and are not a fan of high-risk, high-reward opportunities, digital conglomerates may not be the place for you to be right now.

However, with the chance that consumers will continue to veer toward digital options post-pandemic, there’s also the opportunity for significant growth. If you have a healthy appetite for risk, you could scratch your itch by adding digital conglomerates as a relatively small (10% or less) portion of your portfolio.

Think About Your Goals

Digital conglomerates are hard to fit into most investing goals as they stand. Although these stocks have achieved tremendous growth in recent years, most growth investors look for opportunities for continued growth ahead.

With more questions than answers about the potential for continued growth without a correction post-pandemic, this space may not be the choice for growth investors.

At the same time, valuations are incredibly high among most digital conglomerates. As a result, value investors who are looking for a discount on the future potential of the company won’t find what they’re looking for here either.

Finally, at this stage of the game, most digital conglomerates are going through an expensive growth phase in which they are acquiring other brands. As a result, there’s not much cash left for dividends, making it a tough play for dividend investors too.

Nonetheless, digital conglomerate stocks do have their place. Again, these are large, highly successful companies, most of which have a strong history of growth. So, although there are definitely risks to consider, there’s a possibility that growth will continue in the space and make all the risks mentioned above moot.

Investors often make great returns banking on unorthodox moves like this. For example, Amazon has been overvalued from a traditional valuation perspective since the stock hit the market. Investors justified the overvaluation by looking at the company’s potential to revolutionize shopping. That bet paid off, and Amazon stock has seen tremendous gains.

Now, the company is working to revolutionize cloud computing, biotechnology, transportation, and much more. So, the high valuations can be justified by its work to revolutionize these industries and the potential profits that could come from success.

Yes, it’s a risky play. But for the speculative investor who enjoys risk from time to time, digital conglomerate stocks could become a big win. Again, just keep investments in these stocks to a minimum, with the combined total investment in the space not exceeding 10% of your portfolio, given current market conditions.

A Variation on the 5% Rule

The 5% rule is one of the most important general rules for beginner investors to follow. It is a method of diversification that protects your portfolio from significant losses, should one of your investments take a turn for the worst.

The rule suggests that you should never invest more than 5% of your portfolio into a single security and no more than a total of 5% high-risk securities.

Digital conglomerates come with serious risks to consider and fall in the gray area between low- and high-risk stocks. You don’t want to limit yourself to 5% on all digital conglomerates as you would with high-risk stocks, but you also don’t want to overallocate to this category because there are some added risks.

As such, it’s best to keep exposure to a minimum or no more than 10% of your portfolio’s total value. This means that if you have $10,000 to invest, no more than $1,000 of your portfolio should be invested in digital conglomerates.

You might also cap your investment in each digital conglomerate stock a little more conservatively than you would other individual investments.

For example, let’s say that you are interested in Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple. Because of their high valuations and concentration in the tech sector, you should invest no more than 2.5% of your portfolio value into any single option listed.

In this example, let’s say that you believe Alphabet has great potential, Amazon has medium potential, and Apple is a long shot but worth consideration. In this case, you might invest 2.5% of your portfolio value in Alphabet, 1.25% of your portfolio in Amazon, and 0.5% of your portfolio in Apple.

That works out to a $250 investment in Alphabet, a $125 investment in Amazon, and a $50 investment in Apple.


Final Word

Digital conglomerates have quickly become some of the largest companies in the world. With strong investor interest leading the charge, it seems like there’s nowhere for these stocks to go but up. However, the harsh reality is that there’s always a possibility of declines.

While high valuations and COVID-19-related risks may be red flags for many investors to stay away, savvy investors with a healthy appetite for risk and a belief that digital conglomerates will continue to fly may be in for strong rewards ahead if all the cards are dealt just right.

Nonetheless, given current valuations and market conditions, if you decide to invest in digital conglomerates, it’s important to limit your positions and heavily diversify to protect yourself from the potential for significant declines ahead should things go in the wrong direction.

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Cost of Living Keeps Rising — How to Make Your Money Go Further

Groceries are a huge part of the high cost of living, so they’re a big target for savings. Try preparing for the week ahead with some meal planning.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to ,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
How would they pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Now’s a good time to start planning for the future by looking into a life insurance policy.
Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something.
That’s exactly what this free service does.

1. Cut Your Food Budget by Planning Ahead

And research companies want to pay you to keep watching. You could add up to 5 a month to your pocket by signing up for a free account with InboxDollars. They’ll present you with short news clips to choose from every day, then ask you a few questions about them.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of 0 a year.
Yup. That could be 0 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

2. Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper

With the cost of everything rising, you have to watch every penny. Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert any time you’re shopping on Amazon or Walmart.com and you’re about to get ripped off?
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
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First, figure out how many meals you’re responsible for making every week. If it’s just you, your answer might be 21: seven breakfasts, lunches and dinners. If you have a family, count meals per person — a dinner for three people counts as three dinners, even if you all eat the same thing.
You just have to answer honestly, and InboxDollars will continue to pay you every month. This might sound too good to be true, but it’s already paid its users more than million.

3. Stop Overpaying for Stuff Online

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for buying toilet paper and more than 250 other items at the grocery store.
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
Keeping up with the cost of living is a little easier when you can add a little more income. For example:
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Every dollar counts here. Cutting necessary expenses can make a huge difference. So when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?

A woman stands from the sunroof of a car, catching the wind in her hair.
Getty Images

4. Knock $540/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

In the last year, this has saved people 0 million.
The government has a handy way to measure this — a thing called the Consumer Price Index, which is essentially the price of common things we pay for all averaged together. The Bureau of Labor Statistics just compared prices in February 2021 to those of one year before, and found that grocery prices had increased by 3.5%!
Now figure out how much food you’ll need to buy to make it until your next grocery trip. If you buy the same items repeatedly, you know which ones to stock up on when they go on sale. Stocking up on sale items also helps you freeze meals for the future. If there’s a way to buy in bulk and prep the foods you eat the most often, do it!
Talk about the high cost of living: Credit card debt is the most expensive kind of debt, and your credit card company is just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne can help you fight back.
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5. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company

There’s been a surge of interest in life insurance during the pandemic, as more Americans are realizing they probably need it. Also, more people are seeking out no-exam life insurance because they don’t want to go to a doctor’s office for an in-person exam. Companies like Bestow use algorithms instead of medical exams to evaluate applicants.
While wages have gone up over the past couple of decades, they haven’t kept up with inflation. To add insult to injury, the cost of big-ticket purchases, like houses, cars and college degrees has increased faster than the pace of inflation. In other words, the cost of everything is rising a lot faster than your salary is.
In the big picture, the cost of living has essentially doubled over the past 30 years, according to a number of studies and this cost of living calculator from the American Institute for Economic Research.
No matter how strategic you are, groceries still account for a good chunk of your budget. Everybody’s got to eat. You may as well earn a little money back while your groceries are being bagged up.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and start getting paid to watch the news.

6. Add $225 to Your Wallet Just for Watching the News

You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards.
In summary, keeping up with the cost of living is tough. But following these seven steps can give you a leg up.
Let’s face it: The cost of living is kicking our butts. If you’re wondering why you’re having trouble getting ahead, it’s because the game is rigged against you.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new pair of shoes, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact pair of shoes is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.*

7. Leave Your Family up to $1M

Since the cost of living keeps rising, have you ever thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone?
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes — and you could leave your family up to million with a company called Bestow. Rates for life insurance policies start at just a month.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He, too, is struggling to keep up with the cost of living.
It’s been a historic time for news, and we’re all constantly refreshing for the latest updates. You probably know more than one news-junkie who fancies themselves an expert in respiratory illness or a political mastermind.
Having trouble keeping up? We’ve got seven money moves you can start making today:
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If you owe your credit card companies ,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.