5 Reasons You Should Pay for a Pre-Drywall Inspection

When building a new home, there are architectural requirements along with city and state codes that the builder must follow; and while general builder inspections are required along the way, it’s still a good idea to pay for your own inspections, especially the pre-drywall inspection. 

If you’re building (or thinking about building) a new home, congratulations! Unlike buying an existing home, you get to select everything you want from top to bottom, inside and out, to create your dream home. We’re currently building our new home and recently had our pre-drywall inspection. You usually don’t hear much about these kinds of inspections, so I wanted to share with you why we did a pre-drywall inspection, and what we learned.

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Our soon to be new home!

Isn’t the Builder’s Pre-Drywall Inspection Enough?

During the builder’s inspection, the builder will go over anything you added during the design process,  explain how things work, and show you where things are located inside your walls before the drywall is added. It’s the perfect time to ask questions — but what if you don’t know what to ask? This is where a pre-drywall inspection is beneficial.

Think of it as more of a pre-drywall “walk through”  and not so much of a traditional inspection. The purpose is to look at every aspect of the home, not just the pretty parts. If there are potential issues with the foundation, plumbing, electrical or roof, it’s better to address them sooner and not after signing the papers and moving in.

(READ MORE: The Pros and Cons of Building vs. Buying as a First-time Homeowner)

What the Process Looked Like for Us

We used Chad Brittingham with Cardinal Home Inspections, LLC out of Charleston, SC. The timing of this inspection was perfect because we scheduled to meet with the builder for their pre-drywall walk through a few days later.

Mr. Brittingham went through the house several times and with each pass, looked at different building aspects. The first pass involved the foundation, followed by framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and the roof. We walked with him and he explained the reason for certain building items, pointed out any issues and took pictures for his report, and also took the time to explain how certain systems worked. As an inspector, his job was to comb through the fine details and find potential issues that we as buyers may overlook because we just don’t know. 

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Chad Brittingham, home inspector, testing the window function.

5 Benefits of a Pre-Drywall Inspection

  1. It can address any issues: Once the drywall is installed it will be more challenging to fix any issues involving the internal items behind the drywall. Cracks in foundation, poor building materials, mold, etc., will simply be a lot harder to see later.
  2. It can check on any modifications you added during your design meeting: We added recessed lighting to some rooms, extra outlets, a security light and a few other things. But, during our pre-drywall inspection, we discovered that a few of those items were not there. It’s a lot easier to add them before the dry wall; like the builder put it, it would be like doing surgery on your house and then leaving scars!
  3. You can visualize where important pieces are in your wall: Word of advice, take pictures. When you move in and you need to find a stud, you’ll have a better idea where they are located within the wall. Most importantly, you’ll know where plumbing, gas lines, and electrical lines are located so you can avoid them before you hang anything or secure anything to your walls. 
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Taking pictures before hanging drywall will help you avoid any costly repairs when affixing items to the wall.

4. It can reveal workmanship and materials: While builders have a construction manager who oversees everything, each part is handled by a different subcontractor. Getting a chance to see the work of the electrical team, plumber, roofer, HVAC, etc can not only ensure they’re not only using the proper materials, but that these systems are installed within code.

5. It can protect your investment and your peace of mind: You’ll have a written record of the issues that were found and you can document how it was fixed. This is your home that you’re spending your money on and you want to know that your home is sound. After the inspection was over, we were more confident that we picked a great home for our family.

Man bending over pointing to the floor in partially constructed house. Man bending over pointing to the floor in partially constructed house.
Mr. Brittingham pointing out construction details.

After the Pre-Drywall Inspection: Next Steps

At the end of the pre-drywall inspection, Mr. Brittingham gave us a couple items that he felt were of a greater concern to keep an eye on, but overall felt that the items he found were typical for this stage in the building process. Mr. Brittingham provided us with a full inspection report, including the items he found with pictures of areas that needed to be addressed, which I forwarded to the builder prior to our walkthrough. As the buyer, we definitely felt our inspection better prepared us for the walk through with the builder.

While the builder is bound by certain laws and codes, and their own inspections, the pre-drywall inspection we paid for independently, is acting on our behalf as the buyer. I definitely don’t believe our builder is trying to “slide anything past us,” and we did our research on the builder prior to signing. This was just one more step to further protect our investment, which will ultimately protect our family. 

Need More Home Building Advice?

Be sure to check out the Homes.com “How to Build” section, with videos and articles covering a range of topics that’ll carry you on the building journey from start to finish!

Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

Source: homes.com

5 Myths (and 5 Truths) About Selling Your Home

True or false: All real estate advice is good advice. (Hint: It depends.)

Everyone has advice about the real estate market, but not all of that unsolicited information is true. So when it comes time to list your home, you’ll need to separate fact from fiction.

Below we’ve identified the top five real estate myths — and debunked them so you can hop on the fast track to selling your property.

1. I need to redo my kitchen and bathroom before selling

Truth: While kitchens and bathrooms can increase the value of a home, you won’t get a large return on investment if you do a major renovation just before selling.

Minor renovations, on the other hand, may help you sell your home for a higher price. New countertops or new appliances may be just the kind of bait you need to reel in a buyer. Check out comparable listings in your neighborhood, and see what work you need to do to compete in the market.

2. My home’s exterior isn’t as important as the interior

Truth: Home buyers often make snap judgments based simply on a home’s exterior, so curb appeal is very important.

“A lot of buyers search online or drive by properties before they even enlist my services,” says Bic DeCaro, a real estate agent at Westgate Realty Group in Falls Church, Virginia. “If the yard is cluttered or the driveway is all broken up, there’s a chance they won’t ever enter the house — they’ll just keep driving.”

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a bundle to improve your home’s exterior. Start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and clearing away any clutter. Then, for less than $50, you could put up new house numbers, paint the front door, plant some flowers or install a new, more stylish porch light.

3. If my house is clean, I don’t need to stage it

Truth: Tidy is a good first step, but professional home stagers have raised the bar. Tossing dirty laundry in the closet and sweeping the front steps just aren’t enough anymore.

Stagers make homes appeal to a broad range of tastes. They can skillfully identify ways to highlight your home’s best features and compensate for its shortcomings. For example, they might recommend removing blinds from a window with a great view or replacing a double bed with a twin to make a bedroom look bigger.

Of course, you don’t have to hire a professional stager. But if you don’t, be ready to use some of their tactics to get your home ready for sale — especially if staging is a trend where you live. An unstaged house will pale when compared to others on the market.

4. Granite and stainless steel appliances are old news

Truth: The majority of home shoppers still want granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Quartz, marble and concrete counters also have wide appeal.

“Most shoppers just want to steer away from anything that looks dated,” says Dru Bloomfield, a real estate agent with Platinum Living Realty in Scottsdale, Arizona. “When you a design a space, you need to decide if you’re doing it for yourself or for resale potential.”

She suggests that if you’re not planning to move anytime soon, decorate how you’d like. But if you’re planning to put your home on the market within the next couple of years, stick to elements with mass appeal.

“I recently sold a house where the kitchen had been remodeled 12 years ago, and everybody thought it had just been done because the owners had chosen timeless elements: dark maple cabinets, granite counters and stainless steel appliances.”

5. Home shoppers can ignore paint colors they don’t like

Truth: Moving is a lot of work, and while many home buyers realize they could take on the task of painting walls, they simply don’t want to.

That’s why one of the most important things you can do to update your home is apply a fresh coat of neutral paint. Neutral colors also help a property stand out in online photographs, which is where most potential buyers will get their first impression of your property.

Hiring a professional to paint the interior of a 2,000-square-foot house will cost about $3,000 to $6,000, depending on labor costs in your region. You could buy the paint and do the job yourself for $300 to $500. Either way, if a fresh coat of paint helps your home stand out in a crowded market, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.


Originally published April 1, 2014.

Source: zillow.com

This Often-Overlooked Way to Fund Your Roth IRA Has Many Advantages

A Roth IRA is a uniquely powerful retirement savings tool, because you won’t pay taxes on the money you withdraw during retirement. An annuity is a way of generating guaranteed income. Put them together, and you have a powerful retirement protection tool that can provide guaranteed income for life, with a big plus: It’s completely tax-free.

Anyone may roll over part or all of an existing Roth to a Roth annuity.  You may transfer all or part of the funds in an ordinary Roth to a Roth annuity. While there are income and contribution limits for new money going into a Roth IRA, they don’t apply to rollovers — including rollovers to a Roth annuity.

Different types of annuities accomplish different things and have distinct pros and cons — like the Swiss army knife of personal finance. Since they’re so varied, one type or another can work well for a Roth IRA.  Investment choices, fees and contract provisions vary, so work with an annuity agent who will educate you about your choices and clearly lay out the pros and cons.

What kind of annuity works for a Roth? It depends on which stage of your financial life you’re in. In the accumulation stage, you’re building wealth for retirement. In your decumulation stage, you’re retired and receiving income from your savings.

Here’s how Roth annuities can work in each stage.

Building wealth for those approaching retirement

One attractive option is a fixed indexed annuity. With the stock market continuing to break records, it may be vulnerable to a major long-term downturn. When you’re young, you can ride out the ups and downs. But if you’re in your 50s or 60s, you may want to get growth potential without taking the risk of losing Roth money you’ll need during retirement. If so, an indexed annuity might be a good choice for you.

It pays interest based on an underlying market index, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. While the interest earnings are locked in, up to a stated cap (you may not get all of the upside) each year, you’ll never lose money when the index declines.

While indexed annuities are linked to one or more underlying market indexes, their value does not vary from day to day. Instead, they pay a varying amount of interest that is credited and locked in each year on the anniversary date of the contract. Since equity markets can be volatile, indexed annuities are designed to be held long-term, whether yoked to a Roth IRA or not.

A fixed-rate annuity — also called a multi-year guarantee annuity, or MYGA — is a more conservative choice. It works like a bank CD, paying a set interest rate for a set period. Fixed-rate annuities these days pay much more than CDs of the same term. As of April 2021, you can earn up to 2.90% a year on a five-year fixed-rate annuity and up to 2.25% on a three-year contract, according to AnnuityAdvantage’s online rate database. The top rate for a five-year CD is 1.25% and 1.05% for a three-year CD, according to Bankrate. 

Fixed-rate annuities can play a key role in asset allocation. Let’s say you decide to split your Roth assets up 50-50 between equities and fixed income. A fixed-rate annuity can give you a much higher rate of interest than you’d get today with safe fixed-income alternatives, such as CDs and Treasury bonds.

For current annuity rates, see this online annuity database. Interest is paid and compounded annually.

How to get tax-free lifetime income during retirement

Other than a traditional employer pension or Social Security, an income annuity is about the only vehicle that can guarantee an income for as long as you live. And by combining an income annuity with a Roth, that income is tax-free.

If you need income from your Roth very soon, consider an immediate income annuity. You can open a Roth annuity with a single payment (such as a tax-free rollover from an existing Roth IRA) to an insurance company. The insurer in turn guarantees you a stream of income. You can choose how long the payments will last — for instance, 15 years. Most people, however, choose lifetime payments as “longevity insurance.”

You can receive your first monthly income payment a month after your annuity contract is issued.

If you’re married, consider the joint-income option. With it, your spouse will receive regular monthly income payments for the remainder of his or her life too. Payments to a surviving spouse are always tax-free.

If you don’t need income right now, consider a deferred income annuity. Here, your income stream will begin at a future date you choose. By deferring payments, you let the insurer credit more interest over the years on your behalf, and you’ll ultimately get more monthly income. For instance, by delaying lifetime annuity payments from age 65 to 75, you’ll get about 85% to 90% more each month. On the other hand, you and/or your spouse won’t receive the deferred payments as long.

Another option is an indexed annuity with an income rider. The rider guarantees a certain income regardless of the performance of the annuity. It provides income like a deferred income annuity, plus the potential upside of an indexed annuity. It’s sometimes called a “hybrid” annuity.

The downside is cost. The rider typically costs about 1% of the annuity value annually. The insurer deducts this amount from your policy.

The advantage is retaining your money. Unlike an income annuity, which typically has no cash surrender value, an indexed annuity with an income rider lets you keep your money while guaranteeing lifetime income, starting on a date you choose.  You thus have flexibility. If you need the money, it will be there for you to withdraw or annuitize. (Wait until the surrender period is over to avoid any penalties.)  If you don’t need the money, you can pass on any remaining value to your heirs.

Is the extra cost worth it?  It all depends on your situation and goals and your desire to leave money to your heirs.

Whether you’re saving for future retirement or are currently retired or soon will be, annuities offer a range of often-overlooked strategies for the Roth IRA and amplify its advantage of tax-free retirement income.

A free quote comparison service with interest rates from dozens of insurers is available at https://www.annuityadvantage.com or by calling (800) 239-0356.

CEO / Founder, AnnuityAdvantage

Retirement-income expert Ken Nuss is the founder and CEO of AnnuityAdvantage, a leading online provider of fixed-rate, fixed-indexed and immediate-income annuities. It provides a free quote comparison service. He launched the AnnuityAdvantage website in 1999 to help people looking for their best options in principal-protected annuities.

Source: kiplinger.com

5 Best Industrial Stocks to Buy in 2021

The industrial sector helped to build the United States as we know it today. It all started in the late 1700s when Samuel Slater opened the first industrial mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. However, there’s a bit of a dark history surrounding this mill.

Many argue that the cotton mill Slater launched was the result of a design that was stolen from a British model, making the industry one that was built on intellectual property theft. Nonetheless, industrial textiles would drive the beginning of the United States’ industrial revolution.

Today, the American industrial sector produces far more than textiles. The majority of U.S. industry is centered around the distribution of machinery, equipment, and supplies used in the manufacturing, construction, and defense sectors.

Everything from raw materials, like iron, to safety products, machined components, and logistics solutions fall into the industrial category.

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.

Best Industrial Stocks to Buy Now

As with any other sector, all stocks in the industrial sector are not created equal. Some industrial stocks have a strong track record of solid performance, while others don’t. As such, picking the right stocks when investing in the space is extremely important. Here are five of the top industrial stocks to watch.

1. Raytheon Technologies (NYSE: RTX)

Raytheon Technologies was recently founded, coming to life in April of 2020 as the result of a merger. However, its component companies have a long history in the industrial sector.

The two companies that merged to create Raytheon Technologies were Raytheon Company and United Technologies, founded in 1922 and 1934, respectively. Between the two, there are almost two centuries of dominance in the industrial sector.

The combined company works across several subsectors of industry. Its main focus is aerospace and defense, with the company specializing in missile defense, cybersecurity, electronic warfare, and precision weapons.

This core focus on aerospace and defense offers up a strong strategic advantage. While most companies in the industrial sector are cyclical, or at the mercy of economic conditions, Raytheon Technologies is shielded from economic hardship. The vast majority of the company’s business comes from the U.S. government, which provides a steady stream of revenue for the company regardless of economic conditions.

Nonetheless, this can sometimes prove to be a negative. Because Raytheon is a defense contractor, the company is dependent on the defense budget and heavily exposed to the political risks associated with it.

Raytheon Technologies is currently working to solve this problem. In order to reduce its exposure to the risk of U.S. defense budget tightening, the company is increasing its focus on diversification into the aerospace industry as well as international sales of its defense technology.

In fact, the company even pushed into the personal protective equipment market during the coronavirus pandemic.

As you could imagine, these types of moves cost quite a bit of cash. Raytheon has an incredibly strong balance sheet, featuring plenty of cash to foot the bill. The balance sheet at the company is so strong that it not only has the cash to expand into aerospace and international markets, but also continues to return value to investors by repurchasing stock and paying hefty dividends.

At the moment, Raytheon’s dividend yield sits at 2.59%, making it a great option for those looking for both industrial and dividend stocks.

While the stock was a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, investors are beginning to realize that the stock price declines actually created a discounted opportunity to get in on future gains. As a result, Raytheon has seen strong valuation growth year-to-date, climbing from around $68 per share to around $75 per share.

With a strong history of service to the U.S. defense sector, increasing uptake of the company’s products on the international stage, and innovation in the aerospace sector, Raytheon Technologies’ stock is already one for the watchlist. Add in a nearly perfect balance sheet, aggressive dividend payments, and valuations that are far lower than they should be, and you’ve got a stock that’s hard to ignore.

2. General Electric (NYSE: GE)

The beginning of 2020 was painful for General Electric. Unfortunately, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, industrial stocks across the board took a beating. However, GE began making a strong recovery toward the end of the year and into early 2021.

General Electric’s products play a big role in Boeing (BA) jet engines and gas turbines. Unfortunately, with the dangers of contracting COVID-19 in mind, the travel industry has come to a standstill, with few passengers willing to fly. That is beginning to change as vaccines make their way into arms and consumers become more willing to venture away from home.

The good news is that even through the pandemic, GE had something going for it: the company’s health care arm became increasingly active. Some believe the stock was — and still is — undervalued as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

GE has already benefited from declining COVID-19 numbers, and this trend is expected to continue. Many analysts suggest General Electric will make a return to profitability in early 2021.

Nonetheless, it is important to consider the risks. Wall Street experts point to General Electric’s aviation portfolio as the strongest part of its business. This portion of the business will not make a full recovery until consumers feel safe flying again, which could take some time, even as COVID-19 case counts decline.

General Electric is a longstanding company that has been through its fair share of hard times. All in all, if you’re looking for a potentially high-growth stock as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic and you would like to stay within the industrial sector, General Electric is one that’s well worth considering.

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

3. 3M (NYSE: MMM)

3M is one of the most diversified companies in the industrial sector. In fact, industrial is only one of the four major sectors in which the company operates; 3M is also a major player in the transportation and electronics, technology, health care, and consumer goods sectors.

As a result of this diversification, 3M currently delivers thousands of different products to consumers, corporations, and municipalities alike, and its innovation isn’t likely to come to an end anytime soon. In fact, throughout the company’s history, it has put around 30% of its free cash flow and borrowing power back into research and development.

As a result of this capital allocation strategy, the company has done a great job of keeping its competitors at bay. This has allowed 3M to consistently deliver solid revenue and earnings growth and free cash flow, even through tough economic times. Perhaps that’s why 3M stock has seen one of the strongest recoveries among industrial stocks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company also greatly values its investors. Throughout its history, it has consistently provided 30% of its free cash as a return of value to investors through growing dividends. In fact, 3M has increased its dividend payout every year for more than 50 years, and there’s no sign of slowing on that front. The stock has traded with an average dividend yield of 2.82% over the past five years according to YCharts. Moreover, the company is known for repurchasing shares, further returning value to its shareholders.

With the cash that’s not used for dividend payments and research and development, 3M tends to complete accretive acquisitions, adding to the underlying value a share of the company’s stock holds.

Considering the continued innovation at 3M, the company’s dedication to its investors, and a fortress of a balance sheet, 3M is a stock that’s well worth your attention.

4. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)

Lockheed Martin is another industrial stock that has seen serious declines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s core focus is within the aerospace and defense subsectors of the industrial sector. The company has a long history of serving the United States military with advanced technology systems designed to give the U.S. a competitive edge.

Relying extensively on contracts with the military can be risky business because budgetary restraints may hinder growth. Lockheed Martin hedges its bets on business with the U.S. government by also serving some of the biggest companies in the aerospace industry. The company provides key technological components found in many aircraft today, and continues to research and innovate in order to maintain its top-dog position.

While Lockheed Martin’s steady stream of cash from the U.S. government has served it well during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s activities in the aerospace industry have seen some slowing, as can be expected with the vast majority of consumers being afraid to travel.

Nonetheless, Lockheed Martin is an industrial stock that represents yet another COVID-19 bounce-back opportunity. As consumers begin to venture out of their homes and into the wild again, demand for the company’s products and services in the aerospace sector will likely recover, leading to a strong bounce-back in the price of the stock.

Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, Lockheed Martin’s financial resilience has been clear. The company has even continued to pay dividends to investors and plans to keep doing so. The stock has traded with a dividend yield averaging 2.52% over the past five years, according to YCharts. With such a strong dividend yield, even with coronavirus weakness in mind, Lockheed Martin makes a strong income investment.

Adding to the opportunity here is the fact that, although many industrial stocks have made a strong comeback since the coronavirus pandemic set in, Lockheed Martin isn’t one of them. While it’s definitely not trading at lows, there’s a clear argument that the stock is still highly undervalued compared to its peers, making it a strong play for the value investor.

With the financial backing associated with the work the company does in the defense sector, a strong history of dividend payments, displays of financial resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and what appears to be a heavy discount on the stock, Lockheed Martin is one of the top industrial stocks to buy right now.

5. Honeywell (NYSE: HON)

Honeywell is another industrial stock that took a major hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, unlike Lockheed Martin, Honeywell has made a strong recovery, now trading well above the bargain levels it was trading at when the pandemic took hold of the market.

As one of the largest industrial companies in the world, Honeywell has its fingers dug deep into the Internet of Things (IoT), aerospace, cybersecurity, and several other corners of the industrial sector.

The company’s aerospace division is touted by Wall Street experts as the most important segment of Honeywell. The company’s technology is a common component in all areas of aircraft, including commercial, defense, and space travel. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, far fewer consumers are willing to travel, throwing a stick into the spokes of the aerospace industry. So, while the company has made a strong recovery to date, there is still plenty of room for growth as consumers begin to travel again.

The New York Times recently published an article suggesting the pandemic in the United States could be over sooner than once predicted, perhaps as early as mid-2021. COVID-19 vaccines are already hitting the market and becoming increasingly available in the U.S. and around the world. When the pandemic passes, consumers will likely be itching to do so, which could lead to an incredible rebound for the airline industry and all who serve it.

Nonetheless, throughout the pandemic, Honeywell’s fundamentals have remained strong. In fact, with a strong balance sheet, the company continued paying dividends to its investors, even in the depths of the pandemic.

Honeywell is a massive company that got where it is as a result of tremendous innovation, great management, and a respect and appreciation for its investors. Although the stock has already made a strong recovery from pandemic-related lows, there’s still plenty of room for growth as the aerospace industry has yet to come back to life.

Consider Buying Industrial ETFs

Investing in individual stocks can be rewarding, but can also be a daunting task. The most successful investments are generally the result of detailed research that takes quite a bit of time.

However, there is one way you can gain access to the industrial sector without having to devote so much time to research. Simply invest in industrial-focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Industrial-focused ETFs are a great option for a novice investor or if you simply don’t have the time to do adequate research on multiple individual industrial stocks.

Keep in mind that ETF investing isn’t research-free investing. It’s still important to look into a fund’s historic performance, expense ratio, and holdings before diving in.

Final Word

The industrial sector helped to strengthen the U.S. economy early on and continues to do so today. At the same time, the growth in the sector has led to incredible investment opportunities over time.

However, if you’re going to invest in the industrial sector, it’s important to keep in mind that the sector is cyclical in nature. Investing in stocks that also have offerings in other sectors or manufacture products for the government can help reduce the risks associated with these cyclical plays.

As stocks in the industrial sector continue to make strong recoveries, compelling opportunities in the space are beginning to emerge. With vaccines and treatments becoming available and the pandemic becoming a thing of the past, the recovery in the industrial sector as a whole will likely be impressive, suggesting that now is the time to consider opportunities in the space.

Disclosure: The author currently has no positions in any stock mentioned herein nor any intention to hold any positions within the next 72 hours. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and not necessarily those of other members of the Money Crashers team or Money Crashers as a whole. This article was written by Joshua Rodriguez, who shared his honest opinion of the companies mentioned. However, this article should not be viewed as a solicitation to purchase shares in any security and should only be used for entertainment and informational purposes. Investors should consult a financial advisor or do their own due diligence before making any investment decision.

Source: moneycrashers.com

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Source: thepointsguy.com

What to Say When You Don't Know What to Say

Have you ever been in a work situation where someone said something so inappropriate that you didn’t know how to respond? Radical Candor author Kim Scott has some simple tips from her new book, Just Work: Get Sh*t Done Fast and Fair.


Kim Scott
March 31, 2021


10 Things to Know About Living in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is a great place to live with more than 130 distinct neighborhoods, excellent dining and entertainment venues and one of the most diverse population’s in the nation. Many people think that everyone in D.C. is a lobbyist or a bureaucrat. While politics is a prevailing part of the culture, Washington is more than just a government town.

Recognized for its top-notch colleges, non-profit associations, high-tech and biotech companies and healthcare facilities, Washington D.C. offers opportunities and impressive cultural experiences.

1. One of the nation’s strongest job markets

As the capital city, Washington has historically ranked as one of the strongest job markets in the U.S. D.C. area residents typically work for the federal and state governments, universities and hospitals, government and private contractors, information technology companies, law firms, business and finance companies, non-profit organizations, hotels and tourist attractions.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, long-term projections predict that the job market will stabilize and continue to grow in the coming years.

2. It is pricey to live here

The cost of living in Washington D.C. is higher than the U.S. average, especially high housing costs. On average, you’ll find a one-bedroom apartment for about $2,400 and a two-bedroom apartment in D.C. for around $3,200 a month depending on the neighborhood. Both of these prices are considerably higher than the national average.

Living in the city is more costly than in the suburbs. When making a decision of where to live, it’s important to consider the stress of commuting and the cost of public transportation. D.C. has a good transit system, but the Metro is one of the most expensive subway systems in the country with prices ranging from $2.25 to $6 for a one-way ride. D.C. sales tax is relatively low at six percent. A beer at a bar will cost $8 while a meal at a sit-down restaurant will set you back $35-50, on average.

Evening traffic overview in Washington D.C. Evening traffic overview in Washington D.C.

3. D.C. has some of the worst traffic in the nation

Traffic has to be one of the more frustrating things about living in Washington D.C. Rush hour lasts for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. There are too many tourists who don’t know the roads. There are traffic circles that are confusing. But there are also plenty of public transportation options.

However, if you live in the city, it’s pretty easy to get around. Many areas are easily walkable.

4. Washington is bike-friendly

The nation’s capital is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.

Capital Bikeshare was the first bike-share program in the country and allows people to use a bicycle to easily get around the busy urban areas. In recent years the city has expanded bike lanes across the city. With many parks and green spaces, D.C. residents enjoy bicycling for recreation as well as transportation.

Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

5. Many free things to do

Washington D.C.’s most famous landmarks are free to visitors. National memorials dedicated to the country’s founding fathers and war heroes are aplenty. The Smithsonian museums and many others exhibit a wide range of historic artifacts ranging from dinosaur fossils to early spacecraft to modern art and technology.

All branches of the armed forces offer free concerts throughout the summer and a variety of festivals are also held throughout the year. In addition, as home to 175 foreign embassies, D.C. has endless opportunities to celebrate cultures from around the world.

6. Diverse population

Washington is much more diverse than the average U.S. city. with a wide variety of people from different ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, religions and economic levels.

Many residents are transplants who moved to the nation’s capital to work for the government, a law firm or a non-profit organization. Most are highly educated and ambitious to get ahead in their field or to make a difference in the community. In recent years, the population has been growing with an influx of young people who enjoy the city lifestyle.

Row houses in Washington D.C. Row houses in Washington D.C.

7. Centrally located on the east coast

Washington D.C. is centrally located on the east coast within an easy drive to cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia and Richmond, the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic coast or the mountains in western Maryland or Virginia. The region offers a wide range of places to visit and things to do. Getaways are endless.

8. Great live music and theatre

Washington D.C. attracts some of the nation’s top talent to perform at its venues. Theatergoers enjoy performances at the Kennedy Center, the National Theater, the Warner Theatre, Arena Stage, Fords Theatre and other theaters. The Capital One Arena, Constitution Hall, the 9:30 Club and other venues around town hold concerts throughout the year.

In summer, free concerts are held in various neighborhoods throughout the city. The Capitol grounds hosts its annual concerts for Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. The National Mall is periodically used for special events that include live music.

9. Washington loves its sports teams

D.C. sports fans are dedicated to their home teams. The Washington Nationals are a member of the Eastern Division of the MLB’s National League and have a state-of-the-art ballfield built in 2008. Washington Football plays at FedEx Field and has long had a strong following. The Capitals ice hockey and DC United soccer games are fun to watch at the Capital One Arena.

Washington D.C. Capital Hill at night.Washington D.C. Capital Hill at night.

10. Endless ways to volunteer

People flock to Washington D.C. to make a difference. There are hundreds of non-profit organizations that are in constant need of volunteers to help with fundraising events and the daily operations to help promote their cause.

You’ll find something to love about living in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is a great city with endless opportunities to learn new things and take in our nation’s history and culture. Whether you prefer a quiet residential area or a bustling urban community, you’ll find a neighborhood that fits your budget and lifestyle.



Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Pay Off Dental School Debt and Thrive as a New Dentist

In dental school you’re taught all you need to become a successful dentist—but what you don’t learn is how to effectively handle your dental school debt.

The typical dental school graduate enters the profession with a student loan burden topping $292,000, according to a recent survey of dental school seniors by the American Dental Education Association.

That’s $90,000 more than the average medical school debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Right when dentists are ready to hit “go” on their careers, the reality of repayment presents a hurdle.

The good news, of course, is that you’ve picked the right profession when it comes to ROEd—the “return on education” you should reap down the road.

The net annual average salary is $205,000 for general dentists and more than $343,000 for specialists, the American Dental Association says as of 2019.

Creating a Palatable Payment Plan

So sure, your education was expensive—but you’ll likely make that money back and more.

At this stage of the game, it’s important to have a plan for paying down your debt as efficiently as possible. Getting your finances in order early is especially critical if you anticipate borrowing more money down the road, whether to open your own practice or buy a house.

Here’s a review of various student loan payment options available—and how to know which one makes the most sense for you.

Student Loan Refinancing

For many dental school grads, consolidating a number of student loans into a single loan with a private lender, and then refinancing the balance at a lower interest rate, makes sense.

Refinancing makes it easier to manage your finances: You’ll get one bill each month from a single lender, instead of several bills for varying amounts that are based on different rates.

Depending on how you structure your loan, a lower interest rate might allow you to pay back your debt faster—and save a substantial amount of money over the life of the loan.

You could also choose a term that lowers your monthly payments, leaving more money in your pocket to be used for other things, including building an emergency fund, preparing for your first child, and investing for retirement.

One decision you’ll have to make if you refinance is whether your new loan should have a fixed or variable rate. With a fixed-rate loan, the interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan—the borrower pays the same monthly amount until the loan is paid off.

With a variable-rate loan, the interest rate will depend on the rate banks charge to borrow from one another. That rate changes from month to month, so a loan holder can expect payments to change each month, too. Borrowers who take out variable-rate loans often start out at a lower rate than they would have with a fixed-rate loan, but they can’t be certain that rate won’t rise.

Student Loan Consolidation

Federal student loan consolidation lets you combine federal student loans into a single new loan with a fixed rate, the weighted average of the old student loans’ interest rates rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percentage point. That means the rate might actually be slightly higher than the prior rate on some of the loans.

You can’t include private student loans in a Direct Consolidation Loan.

If the borrower’s monthly payment decreases, it’s likely the result of lengthening the term (up to 30 years), which can mean paying more interest over time.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans and Loan Forgiveness

If you have federal student loans and your credit history prevents you from refinancing, an alternative is to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. The federal government offers four such plans, each with its own eligibility requirements, but they all set your monthly loan payment at an amount deemed affordable based on your income, with any remaining principal eligible for forgiveness after 20 to 25 years.

Thanks to their higher income, dental professionals often pay off their loans before the end of the repayment period, making the forgiveness benefit irrelevant.

If your income is over a certain threshold, you are not able to benefit from the programs.

In addition, the interest you’ll pay over the life of that loan may be higher than it would have been had you refinanced over a shorter term. The math might work out in your favor, but it’s worth a close look before you commit.

Then there’s the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program if you start your career at an eligible nonprofit or public service agency.

Work for a local, state, tribal, or federal government organization or for a nonprofit organization and you may be eligible for federal Direct Loan forgiveness after 10 years in an income-based plan.

Serving as a full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteer also counts.

Examples of qualifying government employers are the U.S. military, public colleges, and public child and family service agencies, but not a government contractor.

There are also a number of federal and state loan-repayment assistance programs that reward dentists for providing service to certain segments of the population.

The Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program, for example, offers dentists who serve American Indian communities $20,000 per year toward the repayment of school loans.

Student loans from private lenders do not qualify for PSLF.

The Takeaway

Graduating from dental school? Liberating. Student loan debt? That bites. But a smart repayment plan is within reach. It’s time to read up and get down to making your financial future healthy.

It’s good to revisit the details of your loans, because the rate you were given when you took out the loans isn’t necessarily the rate you’re stuck with.

When you refinance student loans with SoFi, there is no origination fee and no prepayment penalty. SoFi offers flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.

How much could refinancing save you? Play with some numbers with this calculator and get prequalified in just two minutes.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com