Can I Afford to Have a Hot Girl Summer?

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

After a year spent indoors, everyone wants to have a hot girl summer in 2021. But when your financial situation is still recovering from the pandemic, can you really afford to?

Whether you’re struggling to get by or just looking to save a few bucks, use these tips to go big this summer – without going over budget.

Cash in rewards points

Millions of Americans stocked up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants during the pandemic. But many consumers inadvertently hoarded another item: credit card rewards points.

If you’re planning to reunite with high school friends or travel to a bachelorette party, cash in your points and miles to save on the trip. If you had to cancel a vacation due to the pandemic, redeem any remaining travel credit.

If you have more rewards points than you need, you may be able to redeem them for cash or as a statement credit on your card, which you can then use toward your trip.

Don’t have any rewards cards? Now may be a good time to sign up. Chase is currently offering a 100,000-point bonus for new cardholders who apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, or a 60,000-point bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Depending on where you’re going, that’s enough for a couple of flights or hotel stays.

Invite friends over for a swap

My new favorite tradition with friends is to host a swap. Everyone brings items they no longer need, and we take turns picking new-to-us items. Last time I got three dresses, a pair of Madewell overalls, a curling iron, and a dog bed.

You’re not limited to clothes at a swap. I encourage my friends to bring anything, including books, kitchenware, makeup and home decor. It’s a free way to get new items, and it encourages you to declutter your house.

Drink like a college student

Back in college, most people would have a couple drinks at home before venturing to the bars. If you’re going out with friends, consider starting with a drink or two at home.

Another money-saving trick is to eat a full meal before you go out, so you’re not tempted to grab pricey appetizers. If you’re getting drinks with your friends, limit yourself to basic cocktails instead of specialty cocktails, or stick to the draft list instead of buying a fancy bottle.

Create rules for yourself

Now that the world is opening up, it’s tempting to throw your budget away and treat yourself to everything you missed during the pandemic. Before doing that, set up some ground rules to keep yourself from going overboard.

For example, make a rule that if you’re getting dinner or brunch with friends, you won’t get take-out that week. These basic rules will help you spend less without having to give up what really matters.

Use a cash budget

Instead of bringing your credit card with you on a night out, only take the amount of cash you want to spend. You can still use your phone to order an Uber or Lyft, but you won’t have the temptation of a credit card. Decide how much you’re comfortable spending and only bring that amount.

Join a sports league

Group sports leagues like softball, soccer, or kickball are one of the most affordable ways to hang out with friends and get some exercise at the same time.

Most group leagues cost between $50 and $75 a person, depending on the sport, and usually last around six weeks. Sometimes you’ll even get a discount at a local bar where you can hang out afterwards.

Plan a budget-friendly trip

For the past few years, my college friends and I have met up every summer at my in-law’s lake house. The house is located near a small town in Indiana, only a few hour’s drive for most of us.

Instead of picking a more exotic locale, we prioritize saving money. It’s free to stay there, and we split the cost of groceries. I usually spend about $100 on gas, food, and drinks for a three-day trip.

If you’re considering a getaway with friends, get creative. Don’t automatically book a trip to Vegas or Miami. Pick a spot that’s close enough to drive, or near a popular airport where flights will be less expensive.

If you’re not lucky enough to have access to a family vacation home, look on Airbnb and VRBO for affordable destinations. Find a house with a stocked kitchen so you can cook most of your meals.

Pro tip: Use Mint’s free travel budget calculator to help you plan your next adventure.

Budget for it

When the world shut down last year, most of us got used to spending less on gas, bars, and new clothes. But as things start to open up, you may find your spending ramping back up.

Use this time to revise your budget and allocate money toward restaurants, rideshare services, and new outfits. As things return to normal, you may have to change your budget a few times before finding a happy balance. Give yourself some grace, as circumstances may change rapidly.

If you find budgeting for one month at a time difficult, give yourself a weekly allowance to use for non-essential purchases. Redirect some of your pandemic habits, like ordering take-out a few times a week, to your rediscovered social habits, like getting dinner with your friends.

Talk to your friends

While some consumers survived the pandemic without getting laid off, millions of Americans lost their jobs and remained unemployed for months. So while your friends may be ready to party, you might be focused on rebuilding your savings.

If you suffered financially during the pandemic, you may not be able to keep up with your friends this summer. Even though it may seem awkward to discuss your money problems openly, it’s better than making excuses.

If you lie about why you can’t hang out, your friends will think you’re avoiding them. But if you’re honest, they may accommodate you by suggesting budget-friendly activities. Give them the chance to understand, even if it means having an uncomfortable conversation. Who knows – one of them might be struggling as well, but too afraid to speak up.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok

Source: mint.intuit.com

5 Places To Work Remotely That Aren’t In Your Apartment

Trains, local parks and even bars can all double as workspaces.

If you haven’t noticed, the world beyond your window has recently acquired a sheen of normalcy not experienced since the halcyon days of early-2020. Go roll your eyes at “The Batman” and you’re bound to scarf popcorn astride a legion of maskless neighbors. Head to your neighborhood dive, and you’re liable to recognize a few people by face, some of whom you literally haven’t seen in decades, or at least since mid-2021. It’s truly wild, this dance with nostalgia.

And yet.

And yet more than a few things (remember menus?) won’t revert to their pre-COVID ways any time soon, particularly those in which we work. For folks with the means and inclination to clock in via laptop, the benefits of remote work — no commute and greater flexibility to perform one’s professional and/or parental obligations — have been widely reported. Conventional wisdom suggests our new definition of work/life balance will long outlive the pandemic.

That’s why we thought we’d compile a brief list of places to work remotely to power you through the rest of 2022. If variety really is the spice of life, you’d be well-served to refresh your office setting every now and again.

1. Coffee shops

Coffee shop is a traditional place to work remotely.Coffee shop is a traditional place to work remotely.

Let’s go ahead and get the obvious choice out of the way. After all, it’s more than plausible that every (sane) person you know loves a good coffee shop. Many cafés have the decency to open far too early, which lets us delude ourselves with thoughts of getting an early start tomorrow morning.

They also — duh — serve pastries and other savory breakfast staples. Some even sell doughnuts. And then, of course, there’s the reason we bother in the first place, the perennially-necessary caffeine itself, a drug not merely sanctioned but beloved, and the very fuel which makes possible the nascent growth in WFH policies. Combine these elements and you have a near-perfect work environment.

2. Bars and breweries

Brewery

Brewery

Here in Portland, you can’t pass a Heart Coffee or retail weed shop without also passing a brewery. It’s honestly one of the most compelling reasons to move here (not that all of us are suggesting you do so). What folks may not know is that beyond offering a rotating list of delectable concoctions and locally-hopped collabs, a good brewery makes a stellar office.

Think about it. Breweries gift us with spaciously-placed water stations and a variety of pub food, not to mention an array of long wooden tables and reliable Wi-Fi (often with kitschy network names!). Although unique, it’s definitely one of the best places to work remotely. Trust us: a laborer in modern-day America could do far worse than whichever brewery is nearest their home.

3. Parks

Picture of the woods, a great place to work remotely.

Picture of the woods, a great place to work remotely.

OK, hear us out on this one. Yes, the Wi-Fi in your local park is usually atrocious (and often non-existent). And sure, you’re not going to finish that project from atop whichever tree stump just ripped your shoelace, causing you to collapse in an awkward, moss-strewn heap. But before you dismiss the idea that these saintly spaces can, and often do, double as places of productivity, remember what you are likely to accomplish with a traipse through a public wood.

Our guess is that you’ll find inspiration in all that clean oxygen circling your senses, a little motivation tucked beneath the varied scents and burrows bordering your every step. Writers much smarter than yours truly have educated us on the many cognitive benefits of walking outside. We take them at your word, which is why this article was written (i.e., dictated) in a narrow tree hollow somewhere in Forest Park (pictured above).

4. Planes, trains and…well, just those two

Working on a train

Working on a trainLate last year, while in the throes of some such variant, I discovered that trains and airplanes are fine places to conduct business, so long as the project entails light, ideally Internet-free work. Experience has proven that railway travel through the countryside doesn’t provide the most reliable signals.

Except for the world whirring beyond or beneath your window, there’s little to distract you while working aboard a train or plane. Unwanted conversations are easily avoided thanks to handy pair of noise-canceling headphones. The fold-out trays in front of your seat double as effective enough desks, providing you don’t bend them to the other side of their limits. Plus, the overhead light helps those COVID-weary eyes better identify the maddening number of typos littering your work. With snacks at your service and multiple bathrooms in either direction, you may find that your best workdays are those spent barreling across or above the country.

5. Libraries and bookstores

Working in a library is a great place to work remotely.

Working in a library is a great place to work remotely.

Libraries and bookstores are an excellent choice for those looking for a new work environment. And they’re quieter than their coffee shop brethren. The Wi-Fi is strong and almost always free. In either case, one has at their disposal an immense collection of hard copy productivity boosters (i.e., books). On those rare days in which you feel like socializing with a coworker in person, it’s more than likely that your local library offers private conference rooms to help you brainstorm (i.e., doom-scroll and catch up).

If you go the bookstore route, it’s a safe bet you’ll have an espresso bar on site. One that may even feature a light collection of sugary treats and an unsettling amount of bottled kombucha. All of which is to say, one simply can’t go wrong when hauling their laptop to a library or bookstore. Within the comfy confines of a space dedicated to learning and curiosity, one immediately feels calmer, smarter and far more responsible than one might when working in, say, a bar or brewery (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

You do you

Daily life is shifting back into a gear we sort of, kind of recognize, but many things remain forever changed. If you’re one of those people who have no problem brandishing the term “digital nomad” in public, it’s time to embrace our new reality and find new places to work remotely. Much like the world beyond your laptop, this new work/life paradigm is your oyster. Go forth and Slack.

Source: rent.com

Historic Old Hollywood Charm: See Inside Vanessa Hudgens’ Luxurious Los Feliz Estate

After searching for five years, Vanessa Hudgens found the perfect Georgian colonial estate in Los Feliz, Calif. to call home. Find out how the High School Musical star transported an old Hollywood home into her “French” and “vibey” dream house.

Nicknamed “The Little DeMille,” iconic Hollywood filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille built the stunning Los Feliz house for his mistress in 1922.

And now, the Princess Switch star, 32, is opening up the doors of the updated home to Architectural Digest for an exclusive tour.

From her DIY remodel in the kitchen, to her “obsession” with candlesticks and vintage books, to the “sexy” and “cave-like” bathroom, here’s the full scoop on Vanessa Hudgens’ luxe Los Angeles home.

An historic Hollywood home transformed into the perfect “escape” 

According to Daily Mail, Hudgens purchased the luxurious Los Feliz home from Academy Award-winning actor Gary Oldman. After a 5-year house hunt, Hudgens bought the home in December 2018 for just under $5 million. 

The 3,168 square foot Georgian colonial home retains many of its original features. 

Sitting on a half-acre, the stunning estate includes three bedrooms and four bathrooms with a separate one-bed, one-bath guesthouse that sits over a detached two-car garage.

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, the historic Los Feliz home provides the perfect escape for the Tick, Tick…Boom! actress. 

“There were so many things about it that struck me,” Hudgens tells AD of her plush property.

She adds: “Walking through the gate and seeing this house covered in ivy, surrounded by olive trees, it was like I had been transported to France or Italy. It felt like such an escape.”

ivy-covered entrance to vanessa hudgens' house
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Sisters unite! Ashley Tisdale helped Hudgens with the DIY decor

BFF to the rescue!

While Hudgens always “wanted an old home,” there’s no escaping the upkeep and renovations with an older building.

After purchasing the house three years ago, Hudgens enlisted the help of her High School Musical costar and good pal Ashley Tisdale. 

“I got new marble, painted the cabinets, got new knobs and drawer pulls—I really wanted brass. My girlfriend Ashley Tisdale does interior design, and I got her advice on where to shop,” Hudgens says.

vanessa hudgens' lively kitchen
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Hudgens also hired Jake Arnold to help bring her overall vision together, including a vast collection of vintage books, colorful art pieces, the perfect lighting for all her house plants, and a wide selection of candlesticks. 

“I wanted it to be casual, relaxed and cozy,” she says of the interior design, adding, “I’m a big fan of candlesticks, so you will notice them everywhere.”

The luxe Los Feliz pad also has this “big selling point”

Amid the big plants, abstract art and witchy books, Hudgens couldn’t help but gush about the home’s fabulous floors.

“Oh and the floors!” she boasts.

The herringbone wood parquets “were a big selling point for me when I saw this house,” she shares. 

Made from 18th-century French oak taken from an old chapel in Europe, the floors were originally added by Oldman. 

exterior of vanessa hudgens' house and the outdoor pool
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Hudgens took on a pandemic project to improve her new home

Admitting that her kitchen looked “very different” when she moved in, the Powerless star remodeled it during the pandemic.

“I took it upon myself to have a project, and put it all together,” Hudgens says of the DIY project.

“I painted the cabinets, removed some cabinets, and put big oak beams for open shelving,” shares the actress.

kitchen cabinets revamped by actress vanessa hudgens herself
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Including eccentric wallpaper featuring mushrooms and dragons, Hudgens decorated the breakfast nook with designs from the House of Hackney.

“I figured, Why not? I did what I like to call a facelift to it,” Hudgens says of her kitchen renovations. 

The funky wallpaper rests above a custom booth, inspired from “the dopest place ever.”

“I had the booth made for this space,” says Hudgens. “I was really inspired by the restaurant Maison Premiere, this absinthe and oyster bar in New York. It’s the dopest place ever.”

The actress also added extra tile, made of Carrara marble, from the primary bath for the backsplash.

A look at the romantic, the sexy and the cave-like features throughout the plush property 

Hudgens invites fans into her “romantic” dining room, which features an Italian chandelier from 1stdibs. 

Admitting she doesn’t cook often, Hudgens says, “I’m normally a ‘Let’s get everyone over, have a drink or two, put on a playlist, and then we all figure out what we want to eat and I just order it’ type of host.”

Heading upstairs, the Grease: Live star shows off her bedroom that features feminine art and pops of orange.

“For some reason I just really fell in love with the idea of orange for my bedroom,” she shares.

Hudgens is all about body-positivity, and shows fans a nude painting in her bedroom. “I wanted the house to be super feminine, to celebrate women’s bodies, to be a kind of femme palace,” Hudgens says.

When in California, enjoy the sunshine! The beautiful backyard features a pool, pizza oven, fire pit and plenty of outdoor space for entertaining.

“I wanted a yard that felt like a park where I could run around with my friends, have space to play, and just feel safe,” Hudgens shares.

Saving the best for last, Hudgens shows off her Goth black bathroom which is one of her “favorite places in the house.”

actress vanessa hudgens inside her bathroom in her los feliz house
Photo credit: Jenna Peffley for Architectural Digest

Featuring marble countertops, black walls and an egg-shaped tub, Hudgens went for a cave-like aesthetic in the primary bathroom. 

“The bathroom is a sexy cave,” shares the actress.

See the luxurious LA home for yourself! From the ivy exterior, to the poolside murals, to the various Teen Choice Awards and the ghost-like painting of herself, check out the YouTube video for a full tour with the High School Musical star.

More celebrity homes

Zendaya Owns a $4 Million Home Fit for a Disney PrincessThe Story of Taylor Swift’s Holiday House — Home to “the Last Great American Dynasty”
From a Prince to a King: A Look at Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith’s Real Estate Portfolio
Everything We Know About Adam Levine’s House in Los Angeles

Source: fancypantshomes.com

American Women Quarters Program

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

While a handful of women have appeared on coins and special-edition bills throughout the years – Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea and Helen Keller, for example – the number of women featured on U.S. currency is about to be significantly expanded.

Beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will issue up to five new quarter designs each year featuring historically prominent women. Here are the women being honored in 2022.

Maya Angelou

Celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou is most well-known for her autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The book was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 best and most influential non-fiction books.

A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Angelou also worked with Dr. Martin Luther King as a coordinator for his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was also the first African-American woman to read an original poem at a presidential inauguration.

Dr. Sally Ride

The first American woman in space, astronaut Dr. Sally Ride inspired generations of girls to pursue careers in science and technology. Ride flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984.

In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded her a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. After her death, it was revealed that Ride was a lesbian, making her the first LGBTQ person to appear on a US quarter.

Wilma Mankiller

As the Principal Chief of the Cherokee, Wilma Mankiller is the first woman ever elected chief of a major Native American tribe. She oversaw the growth of the Cherokee nation from 68,000 members to 170,000.

Ms. Magazine named Wilma Woman of the year in 1987, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Nina Otero-Warren

One of the few Hispanic suffragists in history, Nina Otero-Warren helped publish suffragist literature in Spanish, encouraging Hispanic women to vote. She also served as chairman for the Board of Health in New Mexico, was a board member for the American Red Cross and was the Inspector of Indian Schools for Santa Fe County, overseeing the schools for Native American children.

Anna May Wong

As the first Chinese-American movie star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong paved the way for countless other Asian actors. She acted in Broadway plays and both American and European films. Anna was also a fashion icon and was once named the world’s best-dressed woman.

She appeared in movies and plays with acting legends like Laurence Olivier, Douglas Fairbanks and Marlene Dietrich. Though Hollywood remained a hostile environment for people of color during her time, Wong stood up against Chinese stereotypes and advocated for fairer portrayals.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok

Source: mint.intuit.com

Conventional Mortgage Loan – What It Is & Different Types for Your Home

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

The mortgage industry is rife with jargon and acronyms, from LTV to DTI ratios. One term you’ll hear sooner or later is “conventional mortgage loan.”

It sounds boring, but it couldn’t be more important. Unless you’re a veteran, live in a rural area, or have poor credit, there’s a good chance you’ll need to apply for a conventional mortgage loan when buying your next house.

Which means you should know how conventional mortgages differ from other loan types.


What Is a Conventional Mortgage Loan?

A conventional loan is any mortgage loan not issued or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 


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Most conventional loans are backed by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). These government-sponsored enterprises guarantee the loans against default, which lowers the cost for borrowers by lowering the risk for lenders.

As a general rule, stronger borrowers tend to use these private conventional loans rather than FHA loans. The exception concerns well-qualified borrowers who qualify for subsidized VA or USDA loans due to prior military service or rural location.


How a Conventional Mortgage Loan Works

In a typical conventional loan scenario, you call up your local bank or credit union to take out a mortgage. After asking you some basic questions, the loan officer proposes a few different loan programs that fit your credit history, income, loan amount, and other borrowing needs. 

These loan programs come from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Each has specific underwriting requirements.

After choosing a loan option, you provide the lender with a filing cabinet’s worth of documents. Your file gets passed from the loan officer to a loan processor and then on to an underwriter who reviews the file. 

After many additional requests for information and documents, the underwriter signs off on the file and clears it to close. You then spend hours signing a mountain of paperwork at closing. When you’re finished, you own a new home and a massive hand cramp.  

But just because the quasi-governmental entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back the loans doesn’t mean they issue them. Private lenders issue conventional loans, and usually sell them on the secondary market right after the loan closes. So even though you borrowed your loan from Friendly Neighborhood Bank, it immediately transfers to a giant corporation like Wells Fargo or Chase. You pay them for the next 15 to 30 years, not your neighborhood bank. 

Most banks aren’t in the business of holding loans long-term because they don’t have the money to do so. They just want to earn the points and fees they charge for originating loans — then sell them off, rinse, and repeat. 

That’s why lenders all follow the same loan programs from Fannie and Freddie: so they can sell predictable, guaranteed loans on the secondary market. 


Conventional Loan Requirements

Conventional loans come in many loan programs, and each has its own specific requirements.

Still, all loan programs measure those requirements with a handful of the same criteria. You should understand these concepts before shopping around for a mortgage loan. 

Credit Score

Each loan program comes with a minimum credit score. Generally speaking, you need a credit score of at least 620 to qualify for a conventional loan. But even if your score exceeds the loan program minimum, weaker credit scores mean more scrutiny from underwriters and greater odds that they decline your loan. 

Mortgage lenders use the middle of the scores from the three main credit bureaus. The higher your credit score, the more — and better — loan programs you qualify for. That means lower interest rates, fees, down payments, and loan requirements. 

So as you save up a down payment and prepare to take out a mortgage, work on improving your credit rating too.  

Down Payment

If you have excellent credit, you can qualify for a conventional loan with a down payment as low as 3% of the purchase price. If you have weaker credit, or you’re buying a second home or investment property, plan on putting down 20% or more when buying a home.

In lender lingo, bankers talk about loan-to-value ratios (LTV) when describing loans and down payments. That’s the percentage of the property’s value that the lender approves you to borrow.

Each loan program comes with its own maximum LTV. For example, Fannie Mae’s HomeReady program offers up to 97% LTV for qualified borrowers. The remaining 3% comes from your down payment. 

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Your income also determines how much you can borrow. 

Lenders allow you to borrow up to a maximum debt-to-income ratio: the percentage of your income that goes toward your mortgage payment and other debts. Specifically, they calculate two different DTI ratios: a front-end ratio and a back-end ratio.

The front-end ratio only features your housing-related costs. These include the principal and interest payment for your mortgage, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and condo- or homeowners association fees if applicable. To calculate the ratio, you take the sum of those housing expenses and divide them over your gross income. Conventional loans typically allow a maximum front-end ratio of 28%. 

Your back-end ratio includes not just your housing costs, but also all your other debt obligations. That includes car payments, student loans, credit card minimum payments, and any other debts you owe each month. Conventional loans typically allow a back-end ratio up to 36%. 

For example, if you earn $5,000 per month before taxes, expect your lender to cap your monthly payment at $1,400, including all housing expenses. Your monthly payment plus all your other debt payments couldn’t exceed $1,800. 

The lender then works backward from that value to determine the maximum loan amount you can borrow, based on the interest rate you qualify for. 

Loan Limits

In 2022, “conforming” loans allow up to $647,200 for single-family homes in most of the U.S. However, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow up to $970,800 in areas with a high cost of living. 

Properties with two to four units come with higher conforming loan limits:

Units Standard Limit Limit in High CoL Areas
1 $647,200 $970,800
2 $828,700 $1,243,050
3 $1,001,650 $1,502,475
4 $1,244,850 $1,867,275

You can still borrow conventional mortgages above those amounts, but they count as “jumbo” loans — more on the distinction between conforming and non-conforming loans shortly.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

If you borrow more than 80% LTV, you have to pay extra each month for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Private mortgage insurance covers the lender, not you. It protects them against losses due to you defaulting on your loan. For example, if you default on your payments and the lender forecloses, leaving them with a loss of $50,000, they file a PMI claim and the insurance company pays them to cover most or all of that loss. 

The good news is that you can apply to remove PMI from your monthly payment when you pay down your loan balance below 80% of the value of your home. 


Types of Conventional Loans

While there are many conventional loan programs, there are several broad categories that conventional loans fall into.

Conforming Loan

Conforming loans fit into Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan programs, and also fall within their loan limits outlined above.

All conforming loans are conventional loans. But conventional loans also include jumbo loans, which exceed the conforming loan size limits. 

Non-Conforming Loan

Not all conventional loans “conform” to Fannie or Freddie loan programs. The most common type of non-conforming — but still conventional — loan is jumbo loans.

Jumbo loans typically come with stricter requirements, especially for credit scores. They sometimes also charge higher interest rates. But lenders still buy and sell them on the secondary market.

Some banks do issue other types of conventional loans that don’t conform to Fannie or Freddie programs. In most cases, they keep these loans on their own books as portfolio loans, rather than selling them. 

That makes these loans unique to each bank, rather than conforming to a nationwide loan program. For example, the bank might offer its own “renovation-perm” loan for fixer-uppers. This type of loan allows for a draw schedule during an initial renovation period, then switches over to a longer-term “permanent” mortgage.

Fixed-Rate Loan

The name speaks for itself: loans with fixed interest rates are called fixed-rate mortgages.

Rather than fluctuating over time, the interest rate remains constant for the entire life of the loan. That leaves your monthly payments consistent for the whole loan term, not including any changes in property taxes or insurance premiums.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs)

As an alternative to fixed-interest loans, you can instead take out an adjustable-rate mortgage. After a tempting introductory period with a fixed low interest rate, the interest rate adjusts periodically based on some benchmark rate, such as the Fed funds rate.

When your adjustable rate goes up, you become an easy target for lenders to approach you later with offers to refinance your mortgage. When you refinance, you pay a second round of closing fees. Plus, because of the way mortgage loans are structured, you’ll pay a disproportionate amount of your loan’s total interest during the first few years after refinancing.


Pros & Cons of Conventional Home Loans

Like everything else in life, conventional loans have advantages and disadvantages. They offer lots of choice and relatively low interest, among other upsides, but can be less flexible in some important ways.

Pros of Conventional Home Loans

As you explore your options for taking out a mortgage loan, consider the following benefits to conventional loans.

  • Low Interest. Borrowers with strong credit can usually find the best deal among conventional loans.
  • Removable PMI. You can apply to remove PMI from your monthly mortgage payments as soon as you pay down your principal balance below 80% of your home’s value. In fact, it disappears automatically when you reach 78% of your original home valuation.
  • No Loan Limits. Higher-income borrowers can borrow money to buy expensive homes that exceed the limits on government-backed mortgages.
  • Second Homes & Investment Properties Allowed. You can borrow a conventional loan to buy a second home or an investment property. Those types of properties aren’t eligible for the FHA, VA, or USDA loan programs.
  • No Program-Specific Fees. Some government-backed loan programs charge fees, such as FHA’s up-front mortgage insurance premium fee.
  • More Loan Choices. Government-backed loan programs tend to be more restrictive. Conventional loans allow plenty of options among loan programs, at least for qualified borrowers with high credit scores.

Cons of Conventional Home Loans

Make sure you also understand the downsides of conventional loans however, before committing to one for the next few decades.

  • Less Flexibility on Credit. Conventional mortgages represent private markets at work, with no direct government subsidies. That makes them a great choice for people who qualify for loans on their own merits but infeasible for borrowers with bad credit. 
  • Less Flexibility on DTI. Likewise, conventional loans come with lower DTI limits than government loan programs. 
  • Less Flexibility on Bankruptcies & Foreclosures. Conventional lenders prohibit bankruptcies and foreclosures within a certain number of years. Government loan programs may allow them sooner. 

Conventional Mortgage vs. Government Loans

Government agency loans include FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans. All of these loans are taxpayer-subsidized and serve specific groups of people. 

If you fall into one of those groups, you should consider government-backed loans instead of conventional mortgages.

Conventional Loan vs. VA Loan

One of the perks of serving in the armed forces is that you qualify for a subsidized VA loan. If you qualify for a VA loan, it usually makes sense to take it. 

In particular, VA loans offer a famous 0% down payment option. They also come with no PMI, no prepayment penalty, and relatively lenient underwriting. Read more about the pros and cons of VA loans if you qualify for one. 

Conventional Loan vs. FHA Loan

The Federal Housing Administration created FHA loans to help lower-income, lower-credit Americans achieve homeownership. 

Most notably, FHA loans come with a generous 96.5% LTV for borrowers with credit scores as low as 580. That’s a 3.5% down payment. Even borrowers with credit scores between 500 to 579 qualify for just 10% down. 

However, even with taxpayer subsidies, FHA loans come with some downsides. The underwriting is stringent, and you can’t remove the mortgage insurance premium from your monthly payments, even after paying your loan balance below 80% of your home value.

Consider the pros and cons of FHA loans carefully before proceeding, but know that if you don’t qualify for conventional loans, you might not have any other borrowing options. 

Conventional Loan vs. USDA Loan

As you might have guessed, USDA loans are designed for rural communities. 

Like VA loans, USDA loans have a famous 0% down payment option. They also allow plenty of wiggle room for imperfect credit scores, and even borrowers with scores under 580 sometimes qualify. 

But they also come with geographical restrictions. You can only take out USDA loans in specific areas, generally far from big cities. Read up on USDA loans for more details.


Conventional Mortgage Loan FAQs

Mortgage loans are complex, and carry the weight of hundreds of thousands of dollars in getting your decision right. The most common questions about conventional loans include the following topics.

What Are the Interest Rates for Conventional Loan?

Interest rates change day to day based on both benchmark interest rates like the LIBOR and Fed funds rate. They can also change based on market conditions. 

Market fluctuations aside, your own qualifications also impact your quoted interest rate. If your credit score is 800, you pay far less in interest than an otherwise similar borrower with a credit score of 650. Your job stability and assets also impact your quoted rate. 

Finally, you can often secure a lower interest rate by negotiating. Shop around, find the best offers, and play lenders against one another to lock in the best rate.

What Documents Do You Need for a Conventional Loan?

At a minimum, you’ll need the following documents for a conventional loan:

  • Identification. This includes government-issued photo ID and possibly your Social Security card.
  • Proof of Income. For W2 employees, this typically means two months’ pay stubs and two years’ tax returns. Self-employed borrowers must submit detailed documentation from their business to prove their income. 
  • Proof of Assets. This includes your bank statements, brokerage account statements, retirement account statements, real estate ownership documents, and other documentation supporting your net worth.
  • Proof of Debt Balances. You may also need to provide statements from other creditors, such as credit cards or student loans.

This is just the start. Expect your underwriter to ask you for additional documentation before you close. 

What Credit Score Do You Need for a Conventional Loan?

At a bare minimum, you should have a credit score over 620. But expect more scrutiny if your score falls under 700 or if you have a previous bankruptcy or foreclosure on your record.

Improve your credit score as much as possible before applying for a mortgage loan.

How Much Is a Conventional Loan Down Payment?

Your down payment depends on the loan program. In turn, your options for loan programs depend on your credit history, income, and other factors such as the desired loan balance.

Expect to put down a minimum of 3%. More likely, you’ll need to put down 10 to 20%, and perhaps more still.

What Types of Property Can You Buy With a Conventional Loan?

You can use conventional loans to finance properties with up to four units. That includes not just primary residences but also second homes and investment properties. 

Do You Need an Appraisal for a Conventional Loan?

Yes, all conventional loans require an appraisal. The lender will order the appraisal report from an appraiser they know and trust, and the appraisal usually requires payment up front from you. 


Final Word

The higher your credit score, the more options you’ll have when you shop around for mortgages. 

If you qualify for a VA loan or USDA loan, they may offer a lower interest rate or fees. But when the choice comes down to FHA loans or conventional loans, you’ll likely find a better deal among the latter — if you qualify for them. 

Finally, price out both interest rates and closing costs when shopping around for the best mortgage. Don’t be afraid to negotiate on both. 

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Why a Pension Lump Sum Option Is Better Than an Annuity Payment

Often, the decision to take a pension annuity option over an available lump sum option rests on which option provides the greatest income. And that makes perfect sense if all of the other factors relating to this decision are excluded from the due diligence process.

But when considering all the factors that accompany this decision, whether to take a pension annuity option over an available lump sum option becomes more about control than it does the amount of the payment.

The Problems with Pensions

Today we are seeing fewer pensions than we did 20 years ago, and there is a reason for this downward trend.  The truth is that pensions are facing systemic problems, which is why we see private sector companies replacing these defined benefit plans with defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s.

There was a time when employees worked until they could no longer physically do their job, and when they retired they died shortly after. What we see today is employees retiring much sooner in the cycle and living longer, which translates to significantly higher pension costs that are simply unsustainable.

Speaking of sustainability, historically pensions have used 4.5% to 7.5% to calculate their projection of benefits and with interest rates far below this range, it goes a long way in improving the optics of the plans, but does very little to change their actual solvency. 

Interest rates have been far below these percentages for decades and when you couple that fact with a projected 10-year benefit period you can see how the math appears great on paper. But the reality is that if someone retires in their 50s (which is most often the case when a pension is involved) and live well into their 70s and 80s, you can see that 10-year estimates are short of reality.

Nearly 1 million working and retired Americans are currently covered by pension plans that are in imminent danger of insolvency, according to a 2017 Daily News article.

So, what happens if a pension is unable to pay its promised benefits? According to The Heritage Foundation, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which is similar to the FDIC, found that for a promised benefit of $24,000 a year, they are insured only up to $12,870. 

To compound the problem, this insurance has the same problem as the FDIC. The FDIC has billions in reserves but has exposure to trillions of dollars in banks accounts.  The same issue exists within the PBGC. The promise of insurance benefits is not mathematically supported. If PBGC goes insolvent, that $12,870 promise is really only able to cover $1,500 under the insurance benefit.

The concern here is that when you retire and are relying on an annuity payment from a pension, you are placing a lot of trust in the pension calculations. And if the calculations are off, there is not enough insurance to recover the loss.

A Lump Sum Gives You More Control of Your Assets

I began this article by suggesting that the decision to take a pension annuity payment over an available lump sum option often rests on which option provides the greatest income. But when you add it all up, the decision to accept a lump sum offer is more about controlling and preserving your future income sources than it is the annuity payment you are promised from the pension.

Now, I am not suggesting that all pensions are destined to go broke, but there should be consideration for this possibility when structuring your income sources that are designed to sustain you for the rest of your life.

By accepting a lump sum from the pension, you gain the control over your income assets.  Even if the income generated from the lump sum is less than the promised annuity payment from the pension, you gain control over the assets.

Even without the risk of a default, this lump sum option is a significant factor when you consider the following:

  • Your income needs can fluctuate in retirement, and the control of the assets backing your income gives you flexibility to meet your income needs.
  • You’re in a better position to take care of your spouse if you were to predecease them by owning the assets and leaving them behind for your spouse to continue to receive income.
  • Your heirs can be the beneficiary of the assets after you and your spouse pass when a pension is guaranteed to disinherits your heirs since it doesn’t pass to your children. In some cases, a child could receive a vested portion of the pension not already paid out. 
  • You have access to the assets if there comes a time in your life when you may need cash, and having control over the assets grants you that option.

If You Must Go with an Annuity, Single-Life Option Gives You More Control

Of course, not all pensions have a lump sum option, which means you have no choice but to accept an annuity payment.  If that is you, there are a few things to consider before selecting your irrevocable annuity option.

As with a lump sum, the idea is to move as much into your control as possible. It can be tempting to accept a reduced benefit to support a spouse or loved one after your passing, but this option only hands more control over to the pension.

A single-life annuity option is often your highest monthly benefit, and it is the quickest way to get the most from the pension in the shortest period of time. The downside to electing this option is that it can leave your spouse with an income shortage because payments would stop after your passing. That is why if you are married and choose to make this election, your spouse must sign off on that decision.

So, you have two options to protect your spouse:

  • You can buy insurance outside of the pension. With this option you would accept the single-life benefit, taking the highest annuity payment and then paying a premium to an insurance contract that would pay a lump sum to the surviving spouse or children if you predecease them. This approach also gives you the flexibility of canceling the policy if circumstances change and the benefit is no longer needed.
  • Or you can buy insurance through the pension. In this case you would go for a joint-and-survivor annuity, electing to take a reduced annuity payment in exchange for the benefit to continue to your spouse if you were to predecease them. Essentially, you are paying for the insurance with your lower benefit amount. It is worth mentioning that this benefit only has one beneficiary, so it would disinherit the children if you choose this option.

The Hidden Costs of a Joint-and-Survivor Benefit

One important factor when going with a joint-and-survivor annuity is the cost of buying the insurance through the pension.  Of course, you have premiums in either scenario but when purchased within a pension there are unique circumstances that most people completely overlook.
If your pension has a cost-of-living adjustment built into it, you should recognize that because a joint-and-survivor benefit is lower, it will receive a smaller cost-of-living increase than a single-life benefit would, which means that the difference between what the maximum benefit and the reduced benefit would be compounds over time. That translates to an ever-increasing cost for the insurance against inflation.

A quick example of this: Say you have a maximum benefit of $5,000 per month with a single-life annuity, and a reduced benefit $4,000 per month with a joint-and-survivor annuity. That leaves you with a monthly cost for the insurance of $1,000 per month. When you factor in a cost-of-living adjustment of 3%, that is 3% on the benefit being received. So 3% on $5,000 would be $150, whereas 3% on $4,000 would be $120, a difference of $30 per month. This income gap compounds over time. Projected out over 20 years, the gap grows to over $1,800 per month.

And if that wasn’t enough of a reason to not buy the insurance from the pension, consider the fact that the longer the pension recipient lives, the fewer years the spouse is receiving the insurance from the pension.  When you think about this, buying the insurance from the pension means that you are accepting an arrangement where you are paying an ever-increasing monthly premium for a decreasing benefit.

And unlike a life insurance policy purchased outside of the pension system, this pension insurance for the spouse only extends to your spouse, unless you were to choose a child as the beneficiary.

Be Careful

Now, if you go with a single-life annuity and choose to purchase the insurance outside of the pension system, it is critical that the type of policy you purchase and the amount of insurance obtained are in alignment with what you need to protect your family.  One misstep in this process can leave your policy at risk of lapsing or expiring, leaving your spouse vulnerable to a significant income gap.

To download my free guide that will take you through the process of determining benefits and the type of life insurance best suited for protecting the benefits, visit www.thepensionelectionguide.com.

Benefits and guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the insurance company.

Securities offered through Kalos Capital Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB and investment advisory services offered through Kalos Management Inc., an SEC registered Investment Advisor, both located at 11525 Park Wood Circle, Alpharetta, GA 30005. Kalos Capital Inc. and Kalos Management Inc. do not provide tax or legal advice. Skrobonja Financial Group LLC and Skrobonja Insurance Services LLC are not an affiliate or subsidiary of Kalos Capital Inc. or Kalos Management Inc.

Founder & President, Skrobonja Financial Group LLC

Brian Skrobonja is an author, blogger, podcaster and speaker. He is the founder of St. Louis Mo.-based wealth management firm Skrobonja Financial Group LLC. His goal is to help his audience discover the root of their beliefs about money and challenge them to think differently. Brian is the author of three books, and his Common Sense podcast was named one of the Top 10 by Forbes. In 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 Brian was awarded Best Wealth Manager, in 2021 received Best in business and the Future 50 in 2018 from St. Louis Small Business.

Source: kiplinger.com

10 Things You’ll Spend More on in Retirement

Even if your real retirement is years away, you’ve already had some practice.

That came during the pandemic lockdown and into its aftermath, when many of us were tucked away at home, working remotely. Except for the part where you’re actually working and getting a full paycheck, this is similar to what life is like for many retirees.

So ask yourself: How did your spending fare on that retirement test drive?

Before you can determine how much you will need to save for a fulfilling retirement, you first need to know how much you will spend in retirement. You’ll also need to factor in soaring prices on everything from gas to groceries. Sure, inflation affects everyone, but it could hurt more in retirement when your income will probably be lower.

Financial planners have estimated that retirees need 80% or more of preretirement income to maintain their standard of living, though individual situations vary greatly. Another data point that correlates: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual survey on consumer spending, the average retired household spends 25% less than the average working household each year.

That said, some items to do stand out in a retired household, including big-ticket expenses such as health care and travel. Here’s a look at 10 budget categories where retirees are likely to spend more and some tips on keeping costs in check.

1 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Travel in Retirement

A senior man and his wife holding hands walking up a hill on a footpath looking away from the camera at the view. The fishing village of Polperro is behind them.A senior man and his wife holding hands walking up a hill on a footpath looking away from the camera at the view. The fishing village of Polperro is behind them.

Most retirees put “travel” at the top of the list of things to do more of in their post-work years.

Maybe you plan to set off on a cruise or two. Or perhaps you simply want to pack up your car for weekend getaways with your grandkids. Either way, you may find yourself spending more on travel in retirement than you bargained for. The customer-starved travel industry is eager to get retirees back on the boat, bus, train – or into an RV.

While overall transportation expenses decline throughout retirement, many retirees take the kind of trips they could only dream about while working full time. For instance, compared with their working peers, retirees were choosing (at least, before the pandemic) longer cruises and cruises that visit more destinations, according to travel experts.

Deborah L. Meyer, a Certified Financial Planner and founder of fiduciary advisory firm WorthyNest, recommends a five-step plan for pre-retirees looking to turn these dreams into reality, :

  1. Assign specific cost estimates to travel goals
  2. Break the big savings goal into monthly or quarterly allocations to savings
  3. Adjust income and expenses to make room for the regular savings
  4. Don’t compromise on future goals (that is, beyond the trip)
  5. Act on achieved goals

2 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Health Care in Retirement

Close-up of senior woman sorting weekly medication. Close-up of senior woman sorting weekly medication.

It’s a blast to kick back and make big travel plans in retirement. Less fun: The reality that we spend more on medical care after we retire –  and that those costs keep increasing as we age.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute found that the percentage of a household’s total spending on health care increases from 8% in preretirement households to up to 13% by the time a household is past the age of 85. A similar finding turns up in a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Council.

Unpredictable and costly new diagnoses and hospitalizations drive much of the increase inhealth care spending for the average retired household, but overall spending rises for general health needs, health insurance, prescription medication, medical supplies and medical services as well. As the National Council on Aging reports, 84% of people 65 and plus have at least one chronic condition.

3 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Utilities in Retirement

Mature Man Using App On Phone To Control Digital Central Heating Thermostat At HomeMature Man Using App On Phone To Control Digital Central Heating Thermostat At Home

If you noticed your utility bills spike while you were working remotely, welcome to another reality of retirement.

The average retired household spends more each year on utilities than the average working household, according to the Urban Institute. Why? If retirees are home more often, they’re simply using utilities more. If you’ve seen a bump in your bills – gas, electric, water and sewer, cable and streaming services – think of it as a precursor. On the plus side, chances are you’ll have finished paying off your mortgage (or come pretty close) when you reach retirement age. That means you’ll be saving thousands each year.

4 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Moving and Relocating in Retirement

Senior couple having a break surrounded by cardboard boxes in an empty room Senior couple having a break surrounded by cardboard boxes in an empty room

Empty-nesters tend to take flight in retirement. Downsizing that multi-bedroom home for smaller living quarters, and ones that may be more elderly friendly, is an obvious strategy that could save money in the long run. For the most part, that’s true. But the move-out process can set you back thousands of dollars.

Take it from experience. My wife and I recently moved into our “retirement” home and community. I put retirement is in quotes because we haven’t actually left our jobs. But the right house in the right city popped up on our radar at the right time and we went for it. Fortunately, we’re still working and were able to cover the thousands of dollars in related expenses:

  • Getting one home ready to sell
  • Listing our existing house
  • Buying a new home
  • Settlement and moving costs

Not to mention upgrading appliances, new lighting, window treatments, and all the other tweaks you’ll do to a new living space.

According to Mike Palmer, a certified financial planner with Ark Royal Wealth Management in North Carolina, downsizing in full retirement can present huge unexpected costs for some of his clients, particularly when they want to stay within urban areas. “I see a lot of folks thinking they’re going to walk away with $200,000 [by downsizing], but that’s rare. In most cases, it will be lateral,” he says. To avoid this, he recommends trying to move from an urban area to a more rural one.

It can be nearly impossible to predict every moving expense as it comes, but Squared Away can help: It offers a calculator that estimates what you’ll spend.

5 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Fitness in Retirement

A multi-ethnic group of seniors is attending a fitness class. They are indoors. The group is doing yoga. A multi-ethnic group of seniors is attending a fitness class. They are indoors. The group is doing yoga.

Research indicates that retirement itself is a motivator to get fit. With a flexible schedule free of commuting and the stress of a busy work week, many retirees drop unhealthy habits and pick up healthier ones, raising their spending on gym memberships and fitness classes and equipment (a new bicycle, perhaps?)

Approximately 53% of retired Americans participate in physical activity and allocate about 13% of their annual spending to fitness and leisure activities. Because of this, Fung Global Retail & Technology says that the fitness industry is starting to cater to seniors as well, offering more specific (and pricey) gym options for aging populations. (See Gyms for Older Exercisers.)

Marguerita Cheng, the chief executive officer of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, says that fitness is one of the biggest new expenses she sees her retired clients take on. For her clients, she says, it is often the fear of declining health as they age that motivates them to take fitness seriously. Some of her clients put so much time and money into fitness that they schedule meetings with her around their yoga or spinning classes.

You may have a workaround to gym costs: Some Medicare Advantage plans have a free gym membership as part of their benefits.

6 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Day-to-Day Expenses in Retirement

Close up of a group of seniors enjoying food in a restaurantClose up of a group of seniors enjoying food in a restaurant

As they transition into retirement, many people’s lives aren’t radically altered. They may still drive to meet with friends or associates, grab coffee from around the corner, or use their laptop do work from the comfort of their couch. What often does change after leaving the workforce, however, is who picks up the bill for a lot of the small stuff — lunches, parking, dinners, concert tickets. In short, so long, expensing!

“Small-business owners and professionals who retire are often surprised at how many of their expenses were picked up by their company,” says Bert Whitehead, president of Cambridge Connection, in Franklin, Mich. “It is a jolt when they discover how much it adds up to.”

7 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Debt in Retirement

Hispanic man paying bills on laptop in kitchen Hispanic man paying bills on laptop in kitchen

Retirees are especially vulnerable to accumulating debt and subsequent interest. Although the average debt ballooned across all age groups between 1989 and today, older retirees were by far the hardest hit. According to a study from the National Council on Aging, the average debt held by people 65 and older keeps climbing. The total median debt for those 65 and up in 2016 (the latest year available) was $31,300. That’s 2½ times more than what it was in 2001.

Credit cards with high interest rates carry the greatest risk to retirement security. According to the research and advocacy group Demos, roughly half of those older than 50 reported using credit cards to pay medical expenses, as well as groceries, utilities and even rent.

If bills are beginning to pile up, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Focus on paying off the cards with the highest rates first, and consider consolidating your balances on a card offering a 0% interest rate if it will take more than a few months to pay off each card.

The National Council on Aging also offers tips for seniors to manage debt.

8 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Charitable Giving in Retirement

Photo illustration of two hands cupping a heart symbolizing charityPhoto illustration of two hands cupping a heart symbolizing charity

Americans age 65 and up, even with their reduced income, contribute almost 11% more to religious, educational, charitable and political organizations than people from 55 to 64. Retirees age 75 and older donate even more, on average.

Part of this phenomenon is psychological. Researchers have found that older adults take more pleasure in charitable donations than their younger counterparts. On the other hand, older retirees may have less control over their finances than they realize. A diminished capacity for financial decision-making in retirement is “extremely common,” says Daniel Marson, a neurology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “In fact, I might say it’s inevitable.”

While many retirees have no problem managing their money into old age, it never hurts to have a trusted family member keep an eye on things. Services such as EverSafe, for example, allow a designated family member to monitor a retiree’s finances and get alerts in case of excessive withdrawals, changes in spending patterns and other unusual activity—all without the retiree losing control of their money.

9 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Reading in Retirement

Woman Reading and Relaxing in RowboatWoman Reading and Relaxing in Rowboat

Before retirement, the average household spends $101 each year on reading. Yes, it’s a category tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that includes the cost of books and audiobooks, as well as devices such as a Kindle. In retirement, the average household spends $173 each year, a 73% increase.

A greater number of subscriptions to newspapers, magazines and audiobook services—the result of a more flexible schedule—accounts for some of the increase.

How do you cut those expenses? Try your local library for free hardcover books, audiobooks, magazines and, increasingly, online access to streaming services.

10 of 10

You’ll Spend More on Financial Planning in Retirement

Shot of a senior couple meeting with a consultant to discuss finances at homeShot of a senior couple meeting with a consultant to discuss finances at home

If you’re entering retirement with accumulated wealth, that’s great. You may have done so with guidance from a financial planner, but then again, maybe you’ve had good luck along with regular 401(k) contributions using some sort of robo-adviser service. 

But remember, the more wealth you’ve collected, however, the more elbow grease it’ll take to manage that money and make it work for you. That’s where financial planners come in. Their services can be invaluable, but they’re not free. Depending on the management style you prefer, figuring out what to do with your money can become an expense in its own right.

Fee-only planners may charge a flat annual retainer (which could run a few thousand dollars or more), or they may charge on an hourly basis (often from $100 to $250 per hour), by the project (from $1,000 up to $10,000 for a comprehensive plan) or, if they’re managing your investments, as a percentage of assets (from about 0.5% to 1.25% of your investable assets). Or they may use some combination of those billing models.

In a recent survey of financial planning firms, Fidelity found that 23% of all clients were older than 70, and they held as much as 28% of total assets. According to AARP, retirees should continue to use financial planners to assist with relocating, with managing new medical expenses and to address changing financial needs.

Source: kiplinger.com