Want an RV as a Vacation Home? The Benefits and Costs of Recreational Vehicles, Revealed

If you dream of hitting the open road with a house on wheels, you may be thinking about buying an RV, or recreational vehicle. It’s an especially alluring idea these days.

According to the RV Industry Association, between 9 million and 10 million people in the United States own RVs—1 million live in them full time. And the demand for RVs has substantially increased in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not only are we hearing from RV dealers across the country that their sales are up compared to last spring, but new research shows that 1 in 4 Americans intends to take some kind of RV-related action in the next 12 months—such as taking an RV trip, buying or renting an RV, even visiting an RV dealership,” says Craig Kirby, president of RVIA.

Plus, he says, 20% of respondents are more interested in RVs as a recreational travel option in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Part of the draw of RVs is that they allow people to vacation with their families without risking exposure to COVID-19 by boarding a plane or entering a hotel.

“We are also hearing that people [now] are more likely to stay close to home on vacations and take road trips,” Kirby says. “An RV trip is the logical extension of that trend. Still able to stay close to home and drive, but also able to bring your bed and food along with you.”

And the good news is that even in light of recent demand, there is plenty of inventory at RV dealerships to meet interest, according to Kirby.

But is RV life as dreamy as it sounds? Well, here are the factors to consider.

How much money can RV living save on vacations?

If wanderlust is fueling your decision, an RV can help cut costs associated with traditional travel. With an RV, you don’t need hotels or plane tickets, and the ability to cook your meals means you’re not bound to expensive restaurant fare.

In fact, studies show that a family of four (two adults and two children) saves between 21% and 64% by vacationing in an RV rather than booking plane tickets and hotels.

And if you want to live in an RV full time, you’ll enjoy additional savings—like an absence of property taxes, lawn care costs, and other homeowner headaches. In addition, the ability to just move on if you don’t like the weather, your neighbors, or the scenery is priceless.

How much does an RV cost?

Like houses, RVs come in a wide range of prices depending on their size and features. According to RVIA, the cost of an RV can range from $6,000 on the low end for folding camping trailers and truck campers to between $60,000 and $500,000 for motor homes. You can also buy previously owned models at a significant savings.

GoRVing.com has a tool that lets you explore various types of RVs and their costs so you can see what you can get for your money.

While it may be tempting to buy the biggest RV you can afford, consider how much space you really need.

“Many newbies buy too much RV in size, drive-ability, park-ability, tow-ability, and maintain-ability,” says Janet Groene, author of the blog SoloWomanRV and book “Living Aboard your RV.” “Remember that you are now maintaining your own plumbing, water and sewer supply, gas supply for your stove and furnace, your own electrical systems, and all the expenses that go with vehicle maintenance.”

Another ongoing cost of full-time RV life? Fuel. RVs typically get between 10 to 20 miles per gallon of gas. How far you’re driving, how big your RV is, and the price of gas are all factors that will affect the amount you spend on gas.

RV insurance and maintenance costs

As with any vehicle, you’ll need insurance on your RV. The average annual cost for full-time RV insurance is $1,500, but that can vary substantially depending on the type and size of your RV. Note, however, that most policies won’t cover the belongings inside your RV, so you may need to take out a separate policy for them.

In general, RV repairs are more expensive than automobile repairs. How much you will spend on repairs depends again on factors such as the age and type of your RV as well as how many miles you put on it.

But even a new RV isn’t immune to problems.

“Just because it’s new doesn’t mean your RV won’t need repairs,” warns Becca Borawski Jenkins, a full-time RVer since spring 2017. “After three years on the road, I haven’t met a single RVer who bought a brand-new RV who didn’t have some sort of mechanical or structural issues arise in those first few months.”

Instead of taking off for lands far away right away, she suggests starting out by taking short trips before you jump into full-time life on the road. That way as issues arise, you can bring it back to the dealer, and many of the issues may be covered by the warranty.

“Buying your RV early and testing it close to home will ultimately save you time, money, and stress,” says Borawski Jenkins, an editor at FinanceBuzz.

How much are RV parking fees?

You can’t just park your RV at any old place, and most of the time you’ll want to find an RV park with amenities such as power and water. Prices can range from $35 to $100 a night. Even at the low end, those costs can add up. For example, $35 a night for 365 nights comes to $12,775 annually.

Groene says while it’s less expensive, and sometimes even free, to stay at government campgrounds (e.g., state and national parks and forests), they typically have fewer facilities, and there is usually a limit on how long you can stay.

She also notes that “boondocking,” a term referred to parking for free, is dangerous at best and increasingly illegal.

What are taxes on an RV?

Taxes are included in the rates you pay to stay at commercial campgrounds and RV resorts. You’re also responsible for paying state income tax and sales tax in states that charge them.

Note too that even if you live in an RV full time, you still must have a physical address, which determines the state where you pay income tax and insurance, vote, and exercise many other legal rights and obligations.

Does an RV appreciate over time?

While homes typically appreciate in value over the years, the opposite is often true with RVs. So you have to consider what it means to you to have what is likely your largest asset steadily depreciate over time.

“While a house and land generally continue to appreciate, RVs begin to lose value the moment it’s driven off the lot,” Groene says. “Many people spend far too much on an RV, often one that is far too big and complex for them to drive and maintain. But by the time RV owners are ready to hang up the keys, the nest egg that was their home on wheels is worth little or nothing.”

RV life is full of amazing opportunities and presents many perks financially and otherwise. It’s not, however, without speed bumps (both literal and figurative), and you should carefully consider and weigh your options before making this investment.

Source: realtor.com

Mortgage Interest Rates Today, December 29, 2020 | Key rate highers – Bankrate.com

Mortgage rates showed no clear direction today, but one key rate trended upward. The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased, but the average rate on a 15-year fixed held steady. Meanwhile, the average rate on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages tapered off.

Rates last updated on December 29, 2020. These rates are averages based on the assumptions shown here. Actual rates on-site may vary.

Data source: Bankrate overnight averages data

Rates for mortgages are in a constant state of flux, but they continue to represent a bargain compared to rates before the Great Recession. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, it may make sense to lock if you see a rate you like. Just be sure to shop around.

Compare mortgage rates in your area now.

30-year mortgages

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage is 2.88 percent, up 2 basis points since the same time last week. This time a month ago, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was higher, at 2.94 percent.

At the current average rate, you’ll pay principal and interest of $415.16 for every $100,000 you borrow. That’s an increase of $1.07 over what you would have paid last week.

You can use Bankrate’s mortgage rate calculator to figure out your monthly payments and see what the effects of making extra payments would be. It will also help you computehow much interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

15-year fixed mortgages

The average 15-year fixed-mortgage rate is 2.37 percent, unchanged since the same time last week.

Monthly payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage at that rate will cost around $661 per $100,000 borrowed. That’s clearly much higher than the monthly payment would be on a 30-year mortgage at that rate, but it comes with some big advantages: You’ll come out several thousand dollars ahead over the life of the loan in total interest paid and build equity much more quickly.

5/1 ARMs

The average rate on a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgageis 3.03 percent, falling 1 basis point over the last week.

These types of loans are best for people who expect to refinance or sell before the first or second adjustment. Rates could be much higher when the loan first adjusts, and thereafter.

Monthly payments on a 5/1 ARM at 3.03 percent would cost about $423 for each $100,000 borrowed over the initial five years, but could ratchet higher by hundreds of dollars afterward, depending on the loan’s terms.

Jumbo mortgage rates

The average rate for the benchmark jumbo mortgage is 2.90 percent, up 2 basis points over the last seven days. Last month on the 29th, the average rate on a jumbo mortgage was above that, at 2.98 percent.

At today’s average jumbo rate, you’ll pay $416.23 per month in principal and interest for every $100,000 you borrow. That’s an extra $1.07 compared with last week.

To stay up to date with daily mortgage rates, see Bankrate’s daily rates page.

How to get the best rate

Mortgage rates can vary largely based on overarching market forces, the loan amount, your location, your financial situation and how eager mortgage lenders are to get your business. Remember that the rates we quote are averages–some people will be quoted higher or lower or that exact rate, and the rate may change daily even at the same lender.

It’s key when you’re looking for a loan to shop around and compare and contrast all the terms of your offers, not just the interest rate you’re being quoted. Your best rate and terms may be from an online lender, the bank down the street or perhaps through a mortgage broker. You won’t know unless you shop multiple lenders through multiple channels.

Bankrate is a great place to start, because you can take advantage of our mortgage rate comparison tool and remain current on today’s rates. If you’re not happy with the results there, you should check with the institution where you do your banking, and other small lenders like credit unions or local banks.

Read more:

Searching for the right mortgage lender?

Methodology: The rates you see above are Bankrate.com Site Averages. These calculations are run after the close of the previous business day and include rates and/or yields we have collected that day for a specific banking product. Bankrate.com site averages tend to be volatile — they help consumers see the movement of rates day to day. The institutions included in the “Bankrate.com Site Average” tables will be different from one day to the next, depending on which institutions’ rates we gather on a particular day for presentation on the site.

Source: bankrate.com

Best Cities to Sell a House – 2021 Edition

Best Cities to Sell a House – 2021 Edition – SmartAsset

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Deciding to leave the home you own might be difficult given the precious memories you’ve made within its walls. But the process of selling it can be downright taxing, especially when the real estate market is unpredictable. Your asking price, mortgage rates and other factors will determine how hard this process will be. Location, however, is arguably one of the most important factors. With that in mind, SmartAsset crunched the numbers and identified the best cities to sell a house.

We compared data from 255 U.S. cities and ranked them according to the following metrics: five-year change in median home value, average number of days on the market, percentage of homes sold for a loss, average closing costs and real estate offices per 1,000 residents. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology below.

This is SmartAsset’s fifth annual study on the best cities to sell a house. Check out the 2020 edition here.

Key Findings

  • Western cities are still the best for selling homes. For the fourth consecutive year, all of the cities in our top 10 are located in Western states. This year includes two cities in Colorado, two cities in California and six in Arizona.
  • Home values are up. On average, our study shows that home values have risen by 28.7% in the five-year period from 2014 to 2019. The city where home values have gone up the most is Hayward, California, rising 71.1%. The bottom city for this metric is Waterbury, Connecticut, where home values fell 7.1% in the same period.
  • Selling takes almost three times longer in the bottom 10. The top 10 cities in our study average 46 days on the market. Wait time for the bottom 10 – located in Illinois, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania – can take almost three times as long, averaging 127 days.

1. Aurora, CO

This suburb of Denver is the best city to sell your house, according to our study. The median home value in Aurora has increased 61.7% in the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, the 14th-highest jump for this metric in our study. Aurora homes average 53 days on the market, ranking 46th for this metric. Furthermore, Aurora holds the 24th-highest ranking for the number of real estate offices per resident – 1.92 for every 1,000 people.

2. Mesa, AZ

Mesa, Arizona is the first of six Arizona cities in the top 10 of this list. Houses in this Phoenix suburb average 44 days on the market, ranking 22nd-best for this metric. The median home value has gone up 50.2% in the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, finishing 37th for this metric overall. Additionally, just 12.17% of homes in this city were sold at a loss, ranking 54th-best for this metric across all 255 cities in the study.

3. Palmdale, CA

The median home value in Palmdale, California has gone up by 61.2% from 2014 to 2019, the 15th-biggest five-year jump in the study. This suburb of Los Angeles has 1.53 real estate offices for every 1,000 residents, ranking 55th out of 255 for this metric. Palmdale is also in the top quartile of the study for its relatively low percentage of homes sold at a loss, at 10.79% and ranking 30th. However, it ranks in the middle of this study for closing costs, averaging $4,121.

4. Glendale, AZ

The average home in Glendale, Arizona is on the market for 43 days, which is the 17th-fastest turnaround in our study. This city is another suburb of Phoenix, and has risen 51.7% in median home value over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, ranking 24th out of 255 for this metric. Closing costs for Glendale homes are $3,280, the 50th-lowest in our study.

5. Thornton, CO

Coming in as the No. 5 city in the U.S. to sell your home, Thornton, Colorado is the second suburb of Denver (along with Aurora) that ranks in our top 10. The average time a Thornton home stays on the market is just 41 days, the 12th-shortest selling time in our study. The median home value in this city has also risen 53.0% in the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, ranking 22nd-best for this metric. What’s more, just 12.06% of the homes were sold at a loss, making Thornton 49th-best for this metric overall.

6. Antioch, CA

Located in the East Bay of San Francisco, Antioch is the second California city in our top 10. The median home value rose 65.6% from 2014 to 2019, ranking ninth-highest in the study for this five-year change. Homes there take an average of 22 days to sell on the market, the third-shortest selling time in the study. Closing costs, however, are relatively expensive – averaging $4,722, which ranks 156th out of 255.

7. Surprise, AZ

Surprise, Arizona is the third suburb of Phoenix in the top 10. The average home takes 49 days to sell on the market, ranking 35th for that metric in our study. The median home value in this city has risen 39.5% in the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, with less than 13% of homes sold at a loss. Surprise has 1.46 real estate offices for every 1,000 residents, which, being a county-level metric, ties for 73rd out of 255.

8. Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix, Arizona has seen a 51.0% increase in median home value in the five years from 2014 to 2019, ranking 32nd for that metric in the study. Phoenix ranks 39th-lowest out of 255 for the average number of days a home takes to sell on the market – less than two months (51 days). That said, 15.95% of homes are sold at a loss, which places Phoenix in the bottom half of the study for that metric.

9. Gilbert, AZ

Gilbert, Arizona is the fourth suburb of Phoenix in our top 10. This city’s population has boomed from almost 30,000 in 1990 to more than 255,000 in 2019, making it one of the 10 largest municipalities in Arizona. Gilbert homes have the 19th-shortest selling time on our list, averaging 44 days on the market. Gilbert’s median home value has grown 42.2% over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, ranking 65th overall for that metric. Closing costs in this city average $3,773.

10. Tempe, AZ

Located in the East Valley of metropolitan Phoenix, Tempe rounds out the top 10 in our study on the best cities to sell a house. Homes in this Arizona city average 37 days on the market, the seventh-shortest selling time on our list. The median home value has risen 38.4% in five years, from 2014 to 2019. Less than 14% of Tempe homes were sold at a loss – 13.54% to be exact, ranking 87th out of 255 for that metric.

Data and Methodology

To find the best cities to sell a house, SmartAsset considered available data for 255 of the largest U.S. cities across the following metrics:

  • Five-year change in median home value. This is the percentage change in median home values from 2014 through 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2014 and 2019 5-year American Community Surveys.
  • Average number of days on the market. This is the average number of days a home is on the market before it is sold. Data comes from SmartAsset’s December 2020 study on the healthiest housing markets.
  • Percentage of homes sold for a loss. This is the percentage of homes sold for a price lower than the previous sale price. Data comes from SmartAsset’s December 2020 study on the healthiest housing markets.
  • Closing costs. This represents average closing costs by city. Data comes from SmartAsset’s December 2020 study on places with the lowest closing costs.
  • Real estate offices per 1,000 residents. This is the number of real estate offices per 1,000 residents. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.

To create the final scores, we ranked all of the cities in each metric. Next, we found each city’s average ranking, giving a single weight to all measures except for the one measuring change in home value, which received a double weight. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100 and the city with the worst average ranking received a 0.

Tips for Selling Your Home

  • Don’t sell yourself short. Invest in expert guidance. If you’re looking to sell (or buy) a house, a financial advisor could help you create a plan to set and reach financial goals for your home. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Take note of all possible costs. If you want to figure out the cost of buying a new home, SmartAsset’s closing costs calculator will help you estimate how much you could end up paying.
  • Relocating? Forecast your new paycheck taxes. If you’re moving to work in one of the cities from our study, SmartAsset’s paycheck calculator will help break down your new take home based on local taxes.

Questions about our study? Contact [email protected] 

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Feverpitched

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, Mic.com and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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Do Warehouse Clubs Really Save You Money?

Warehouse clubs have been around for decades, offering members a way to save money on everything from bulk toilet paper and ground beef to big-screen TVs and tires (in the same shopping trip). But even with their cult followings, it can be hard to justify paying a membership fee just to be able to shop there.

Whether you’ve walked the long aisles of your local warehouse club before or are brand new to the idea, here are just a few ways that one of these memberships can save you money on many of the things you buy.

Getting a warehouse club membership

I’ll be honest: one of my favorite perks of being a Costco member is the samples. There’s just something about hot (free) food at the end of an aisle to really make your Saturday shopping experience better.

Of course, food samples alone aren’t worth the cost of my annual membership. To make that expense worthwhile, I have to take a look at how much money I’m saving each time I shop at a warehouse store, and how often those savings really come into play.

I’ll be signing on again when my membership comes up for renewal next month, because I have discovered that I definitely save serious cash with club prices. But warehouse clubs admittedly aren’t for everyone. To make that annual fee worthwhile, you’ll really have to do the math and look at your family’s needs, to see if this style of shopping makes sense.

Here’s a look at some of the things to keep in mind when debating a club membership, and some of the ways warehouse stores really can save you money.

How to save money at warehouse stores

Today, warehouse clubs are ten times better than the way I remember them from my childhood. They offer so many more products and perks, at pretty reasonable membership rates.

With a little strategy, you can save some serious cash at your local warehouse store.

You can buy organic

For years, I avoided buying a warehouse club membership because our family bought mostly organic food. Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that Costco has quietly become the largest organic retailer in the country, surpassing even Whole Foods.

You can buy everything from organic fruits and vegetables to milk, eggs, juices, meats, and more. Whether you prefer conventional food or non-GMO and organic, you can still find what you need at a warehouse store … and often for a much more competitive price.

Shop sales

Did you know that warehouse stores don’t just offer bulk prices? Most chains also publish weekly circulars with sales, promotions, and rebates.

Try to double up on the savings by taking advantage of promotional pricing. If you have manufacturers’ coupons, many warehouse stores will accept those, too.

Save even more on Black Friday

Forget fighting at your local Walmart for deals on Black Friday. Clubs like Sam’s and Costco offer additional promotions on already-low prices, and often have huge discounts that are available in the days leading up to Black Friday — so you don’t even have to stand in line at 4 a.m.

Fill ‘er up

Certain warehouse store locations will offer gas pumps for members. You can easily save a few dollars every time you fill up, just by buying there instead of a typical corner store. (I usually save $0.10 or more per gallon).

Book your next vacation

It was only last year that I discovered the value of warehouse store vacation pricing. You can buy everything from local theme park tickets to Disney passes, cruises, and family vacation packages to destinations around the world, all at a discounted rate.

You can take a look at the discounts available in your local store, or call your preferred warehouse chain’s vacation booking line to price out your own trip. Sometimes, you may still be able to find a better deal elsewhere, but it’s yet another way to potentially save on travel and experiences.

Compound savings with a credit card

By signing up for a warehouse club credit card, you can further compound your savings.

Some cards offer extra rewards for all purchases made at the warehouse store. Others may reward you for all of your everyday spending. And some may even come with promotional membership fee credits.

Take advantage of return policies and guarantees

Warehouse clubs are notorious for having excellent customer service, great return policies, and satisfaction guarantees.

At Sam’s Club, you can return items opened or unopened within 30 days for a full refund … no questions asked. Hate that new yogurt but bought a 60-pack? Yep, you can return it.

At Costco, electronics are the only returns with a specified timeframe — everything else is open to the staff’s discretion. Oh, and if you’re unhappy with your membership at any time? They’ll refund that, too.

Things to Keep in Mind

Of course, warehouse stores aren’t for everyone, and the fee isn’t always worth the cost.

It probably won’t be your one-stop-shop

Even though today’s clubs offer a huge variety of products and even organic offerings, you’ll probably still need to visit your local grocery store as well. If you’re used to knocking out all of your household’s shopping in one trip, this may be an added pain.

You’re not saving money if you’re wasting

Yes, you can save money per-unit by buying in bulk. But if you don’t need 300 of something — or cannot eat your way through a warehouse store-sized box before the food goes bad — you’re still wasting money in the end.

Don’t fall into the trap of buying more than you need. That dog food might be on an amazing sale, but it’s still not a good purchase for you if you don’t have any pets.

Budget Still Matters

It’s easy to go to Costco or BJ’s and buy a year’s worth of supplies. However, it’s important to still keep your budget in mind, and make sure that you can afford to stock up all at once.

Saving a few dollars a month over the course of the year is great…but not if you wreck your budget in the process or have to carry a credit card balance to do so.

Many warehouse clubs will offer day passes or even have promotional weekly passes for potential members. If you’re considering buying a membership, this can be a great way to look around and gauge your interest.

–By Stephanie Colestock

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

You’ll Be Climbing the Walls of This Tiny Home

This tiny home packs a bouldering wall, a roll-up garage door and a full-sized soaking tub into just 250 square feet.

There’s no need to park in the mountains when the rock climbing is right at your doorstep. 

At least that’s what the team at Tiny Heirloom figured when they set out to design a tiny home for an intrepid couple looking to take adventure on the road.

The Portland, OR-based company combined two of the things its clients enjoyed most — fitness and being outside — into a 250-square-foot, custom-built home, said Jason Francis, creative director and co-founder at Tiny Heirloom.

The idea for a tiny home with a bouldering wall came from organic brainstorming, Francis said.

“The rock wall really started as a long-shot idea, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got,” Francis said. “So we figured out a way to make it happen!”

“We’ve built many custom homes,” Francis added, “but this was definitely one of our most unique.”

His team added some rich design elements, including a roll-up garage-style glass door, to bring the outdoors inside. The couple intends to use the place as their primary residence.

The home cost about $145,000, but $35,000 of that went to building the custom climbing wall.

The home is 24 feet long and 13 feet tall, providing plenty of room for outdoor climbing. The bouldering wall is on one side of the home, and the handholds can be reconfigured to change up the climbing route.

One side has a traditional entryway, while the other has the roll-up door to provide expansive views of wherever the home is parked.

The living space contains two lofts: one with an office and the other with a bedroom. Designers hung a chandelier made of Edison bulbs between the two.

The kitchen features a farmhouse sink and full-sized oven. The cabinets are a rich blue color with brass accents. There are two open shelves above the countertops.

The home also contains a dining space with bench-style seating that doubles as storage.

An arched blue-tile doorway leads to the bathroom, which has a full-sized soaking tub, white subway tiles and a rainfall showerhead.

After completing the tiny home and sharing it on social media, Francis said they’ve had a number of inquiries about building similar spaces for clients.

“Ideas have spread from it quite a bit, but no one else has bought the exact same thing,” Francis said. “We have had a client request a rock wall system in the house as a way up to the lofts for his two young boys.”

Photos courtesy of Tiny Heirloom.

Related:

Originally published March 2018

Source: zillow.com

Medicare made simple

It is important to have a thorough understanding of Medicare when heading into retirement. Medicare is not an income producing piece of your retirement plan so unfortunately it gets overlooked by financial advisors. We believe at J.A. Lawrence Wealth Management that understanding our expenses is a vital step in retirement planning. Since healthcare is a substantial piece of our expenses in retirement, it is important to do your due diligence on this subject.

Medicare is a federal insurance program for the elderly. All our adult working lives we have been paying into the Medicare system via the FICA tax. The FICA tax is broken into two parts. The first part is known as OASDI (Old age survivor, disability, and insurance). OASDI is often referred to as social security. This portion of the FICA tax represents about 80% of the total FICA tax. The Hospital insurance (HI) makes up the remaining 20%. The HI portion is also referred to as Medicare part A.

There are four parts of Medicare everyone needs to be knowledgeable about. Parts A, B, C, and D. Each part is vitally important and needs to be included in your health insurance strategy.

PART A: Also known as Hospital Insurance or HI. This part simply gets you in the building and in a bed. This does not pay for the physician treating you. This part of Medicare is paid for via the FICA tax. Generally, everyone qualifies for Medicare at age 65 and above. At the very least you must sign up for this portion of Medicare. People have been paying into this their entire adult lives and its time to reap some benefit.

PART B: This part pays for the physician service. Things like blood tests, equipment costs, home health care, and outpatient care are just some of the services Part B covers. The proper way to look at it is Part A gets you in the door and Part B pays for the services inside the building. Part B is not paid for by FICA. This on average costs $135 per month. If adjusted income is higher than $170,000 year when married Part B becomes more expensive. In my opinion part B is just as vital as part A.

Medicare parts A&B, also known as original Medicare, consist of 80% of Medicare. Part C and D make up the other 20%.

PART C: Also known as Medicare supplement. This part allows you to see doctors/specialists for non-emergencies. There are two options for this part Medigap and Medicare advantage.

MEDIGAP: Medigap is between $100-200 per month. Any doctor that accepts part A/B also accepts Medigap. It is very important to know that you are always within issue for Medigap when signing up parts A and B. In layman’s terms, everyone qualifies for Medigap if they sign up when enrolling in parts A and B. However, if you decline Medigap and elect for Medicare Advantage, we’ll talk about that in a moment, than you have to be underwritten down the road. Please know that Medigap will be sold through insurance companies. The plans are listed as such: Plan N, Plan F, etc. No matter the insurance company, each “plan N” will be identical in coverage to another insurance companies “Plan N”. Therefor if one insurance company is charging more for their “Plan N” then always choose the least expensive option. They are identical Medigap plans.

MEDICARE ADVANTAGE: Medicare advantage is also operated by insurance companies. However, it is operated like what we are used to in private health care system. Medicare Advantage is operated on a network base. If the network is strong in your geographical area, this is a potentially good option because Medicare advantage is typically less expensive then Medigap. This becomes important especially in the case of travelling throughout the US. For instance, there is no Medicare Advantage network available in Alaska, therefor Medicare advantage patients cannot use their Medicare Advantage coverage there. Because Medicare Advantage is similar to health insurance before turning 65- there are a lot of changes year to year. These can be difficult to keep up with-especially in retirement as we age. Medigap is a much more stable network with less changes than Medicare Advantage.

PART D: This part covers prescription drugs. Some Medicare advantage policies will include part D. Medigap does not have part D. Part D on average can cost $35/month. If you are going the Medicare advantage route you need to go through a broker and not a captive agent. There is just a lot to it and its constantly changing. Do not do it on your own. Just like home/auto insurance brokers, these health brokers will shop for you through various companies and sell you the optimum policy. Captive agents can only sell you the company they work for. Obviously, you want to be sold the policy that benefits you the most and not just the insurance company.

Do yourself a favor and understand the true cost in regard to Medicare. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to John Lawrence with J.A. Lawrence Wealth Management.

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

What Happens When You Pay Off Your Car Loan?

July 20, 2020 &• 5 min read by Julia Eddington Comments 1 Comment

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According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, around 2.3 million car loans originate every year. Car loans can take years to pay off. So when you finally pay it off, you might be wondering—now what?

What happens when you pay off your car? What should you do with the money you were previously putting towards your monthly payments? We’ve got a few ideas, but keep in mind that everyone’s finances are different. So while our suggestions might work for some people, they probably won’t work for everyone.

What to Do When You Pay Off Your Car

Firstly, paying off your car loan is a huge accomplishment. So congratulations! Paying off any loan isn’t always easy. And now you finally own your car, which is a pretty big deal.

Luckily for you, the hard part is over. But there are still a few steps you should take after you pay off your car.

1. Get Your Car Title

You usually don’t have to take action for this step. In most states, your lender notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles—or BMV or other equivalent entity in your state—of the title change. Once the paperwork clears, the title is mailed to you.

There’s not much for you to do except keep an eye on the mail. If you don’t get your title a few weeks after paying off your loan, call your lender. You’ll need the title if you ever want to sell your car or use it for collateral when applying for credit.

2. Reconsider Your Finances

If you’re paying off a vehicle and not planning to buy another with a new loan, you’ll have a little more extra room in your budget. In 2019, new car buyers committed to an average monthly payment of around $550. So when you pay off your car loan, there’s a good chance you’ll have an extra $300 (or more) per month.

You might be tempted to splurge on fun stuff or to make large purchases you’ve been putting off. But unless your transportation situation is radically changing soon, you’ll always need a car. And that means you’ll eventually need to pay for the next one.

Plus, owning a car is expensive—even if you’ve completely paid it off. You’ll have to your oil changed, new tires and much more. And that’s just regular maintenance. If you get in even a minor accident, you could have a major repair expense on your hands.

That’s why it’s a good idea to put that some of that extra money in savings. If you end up getting a new car eventually, you can pay for all or part of your next vehicle with cash. That reduces how much you have to finance, which can significantly reduce the total cost of your next vehicle. Another option is to use the money to continue to pay down other debt to put yourself in a better financial situation in the future.

It’s also worth putting part of that cash in your short-term savings. You could easily dip into those funds if you need to get any work done on your car. But whatever you plan to do with the money, take the time to look at your personal budget. That gives you a chance to see exactly where this extra money might make the most difference.

3. Notify Your Car Insurance Company

Notify your car insurance company when you’ve paid off your loan so you can remove the lien holder from your policy. You don’t need to wait until you have the title in your hand to make the call.

This step is important because if your financed vehicle were totaled in a wreck, the insurance payment would go to the lender. Once you’ve paid off the car and own it outright, the payment goes to you.

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4. Consider Any New Insurance Options

Most states have requirements for what type of coverage you must carry on your car. At minimum in most states, you need bodily injury and property damage liability that will cover the losses of other people if it’s caused in a wreck that is deemed your fault. There are some exceptions to those requirements, though.

But your lender will likely require additional insurance coverage until you pay off the loan. Many lenders require you to also carry comp and collision coverage. This is the part of your insurance policy that pays for damage to yourvehicle if you get into an accident that is deemed your fault.

Lenders require this extra coverage to protect their investment. They want to know that if your car is totaled, they can recover the value that you owe them. Once you pay off the loan, whether or not you carry this level of coverage might be your choice.

Talk to your insurance agent to find out what your options are and if you can save money by changing your insurance coverage. Just remember that if you drop this coverage and get into an accident, you may have to cover the costs of repairs or a new vehicle on your own.

You can also check rates for auto insurance online. In addition to saving money on your monthly vehicle payment, you may be able to save a lot on your insurance coverage.

Does Paying Off Your Car Loan Early Hurt Your Credit?

To get out of debt or change your current car, you might decide to pay off your car loan early. Your credit isn’t penalized by making early payments on debt. However, paying off an entire account can cause a small dip in your credit score temporarily. That’s because open accounts with a positive payment history impact your score more than closed accounts with positive payment histories.

Your wallet might also take a small hit depending on how your loan is structured. Find out if your loan includes any penalties for paying off the principle early before you make a decision to go this route.


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Source: credit.com

6 Places to Get a Cheap or Free Flu Shot This Year

A mother receives a flue shot as her daughter holds her hand.

Darcie Magnuson, daughter of Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, receives her flu vaccination from certified medical assistant Sirena Brito at Denver Health, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Kailani Magnuson, 3, holds her mother’s hand. David Zalubowski/AP Photo

If there was ever a time to get the flu shot, it’s probably amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having two potentially deadly viruses that share some of the same symptoms makes getting the flu vaccine important for both protecting yourself from the flu and reducing the strain on healthcare facilities responding to the coronavirus.

The good news: Flu activity in the U.S. is unusually low at this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It attributes the drop to precautions taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, including a record high number of Americans receiving doses of the flu vaccine.

But getting vaccinated doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s where to get a flu shot for cheap or free — plus where you could actually snag a little extra spending money by taking your shot.

Where to Get a Free or Low-Cost Flu Shot

The annual flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu and reduce the severity if you do contract it.

The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Although September and October are the ideal times to get vaccinated, the CDC notes that you can get a vaccine so long as the flu virus is circulating — flu season doesn’t officially end until around April or May.

If you have health insurance, you’ll likely be able to get a free flu shot. But even if you don’t have insurance, you can still find affordable — and sometimes free — options.

Pro Tip

Under the Affordable Care Act, all marketplace insurance plans must cover the cost of the vaccine. However, check your plan for details, as some set limitations on where you can get the shot for free.

Ready to protect yourself from the influenza virus? Here’s where to go for your shot.

1. Local Retailers, Grocery Stores and Pharmacies

Just by showing your insurance card, you can get a free flu shot at many places you’re already visiting, which makes this a convenient option for most people.

Pro Tip

Some providers may have limited supplies of the flu vaccine remaining — check with your location before you go.

If you don’t have insurance, you can typically get the shot for less than $50 at the following businesses:

2. Your Doctor and Urgent Care Clinics

If you have health insurance, you can get a free flu shot at a variety of places, including your doctor and urgent care clinics.

While the shot may be free, the office visit may not be — check before you make an appointment or show up at a clinic.

3. Your Workplace

If your office closed due to the pandemic, your employer might not be offering free flu shots this year. However, if you’re still showing up to work, it doesn’t hurt to ask your human resources department if your company would sponsor an on-site flu vaccination.

4. Your College Campus

If campus is open, there’s a good chance your college is still offering free flu shots to college students. Most times, all you’ll need is your student ID.

5. Community Health Centers

Community-based health centers are available in areas with limited access to affordable health care services. They provide services regardless of a patients’ ability to pay and charge for services on a sliding scale.

Depending on where you live, your local health center may offer free flu shots, regardless of your insurance status. Locate a center near you by clicking here.

6. VA Health Centers

If you’re a veteran enrolled in the VA health care system, you can get a flu shot for free at a VA health care facility or an in-network retail pharmacy or urgent care location near you. Just present a valid, government-issued identification and this flyer.

And if none of these places work for you, check with VaccineFinder.org for vaccination locations near you. Regardless of where you choose to , get your shot as soon as possible.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com