The Best Way to Organize Your Closet

How do you store stuff in your closet?

If you’re the type of person who tosses in everything, transforming your closet into a cluttered hole of hidden treasures, you should consider a new approach.

With a little effort and a few organizational accessories, you can figure out the best way to organize your closet. No longer will you lose items in the overstuffed space or spend too much time searching for an item you know is in there.

Transform your closet so it serves you rather than simply holding your clutter. These closet organization tips will help you set your space up for maximum usage.

1. Complete a purge

folding clothesfolding clothes

Before you can organize, get rid of what’s only taking up space. All the items you don’t wear or even want anymore shouldn’t hang around in your closet. Purging may seem simple enough on paper, but sometimes we keep clothes, shoes, purses or ties because they remind us of our younger selves or hold a special memory.

As you go through your closet clutter, instead of thinking about how the item makes you feel in general, ask yourself if you still feel great when you wear it. Does it still look good on you? Would you even wear it out today? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to part with it.

Once you’ve separated the stuff in your closet into keep and discard piles, you can donate unwanted items. Closet Factory shares some of the most popular charities for donating clothing, shoes or other common closet accessories:

  • Goodwill and Salvation Army often have easy drop points and take just about anything. You can schedule a pick-up if you have a lot of items, or just go to a drop point at your convenience.
  • Soles4Souls and Indigo Rescue handle specialty items. The first sends donated shoes to people in need while the latter collects unwanted jewelry that’s used to fund animal shelters.
  • If you have a lot of professional-style clothing to donate, consider an organization like Dress for Success or Career Gear.

2. Create a closet system

closet systemcloset system

Whether you need to completely organize your closet or are only focusing on one specific area, there’s an organizational solution to any closet issue, according to Good Housekeeping.

This can mean doing a complete overhaul with the help of a full system like Elfa at The Container Store. Using a system lets you design your own closet, along with the option to install the pieces yourself or have it done for you. Many pieces are also modular and easy to change.

When your closet has good bones, and you just want to make a few additions to its overall design, it might be easier to buy organizational items a la carte.


Adding some additional shelving into your closet can create way more storage space. If there’s nothing above your closet rod, a few extra shelves can become a great place to store out-of-season clothing, jackets or even sweaters.

Add a small, folding step-stool to your closet and these items won’t ever be out of reach. Putting a few extra shelves at the bottom of your closet can provide great storage for shoes, handbags and even extra sheets and towels.


If you don’t like the way it looks to have all your clothing stacked on open shelves, consider bins or crates. You can even create a makeshift dresser by stacking these in just the right way. This becomes great storage for smaller items like sandals, socks or accessories. They’re a great way to keep items organized and give everything in your closet a proper place.

3. Add some organizational accessories

closet organization accessoriescloset organization accessories

Once the closet itself starts to feel organized, it’s time to tackle the extra space. You may think, “What extra space?,” but doors, walls and even the sides of your closet system are all begging for organizational accessories to fit even more into your closet without sacrificing its nice and neat appearance. Some great items to add include:

  • Over-the-door shoe racks to hold shoes or store your jewelry
  • Stick-on hooks for walls and any vertical space. Positioned at varying heights, they’re great for everything from purses to belts.
  • A floor shoe rack for easy access to the sandals, sneakers and boots you wear every day
  • Hanging storage that fits right on the closet rod. With multiple compartments, they help you take advantage of vertical space.

Specialty hangers

Another accessory you might not immediately think of for organization are hangers. These essential closet components not only keep your clothes wrinkle-free, but they can create even more room in your closet. Substituting some of your regular hangers with specialty ones can free up space and keep your closet looking perfectly arranged.

  • Multiple and tiered hangers drop down, allowing you to use the footprint from a single hanger to hang more than one piece of clothing
  • Hangers with clips allow you to combine a top with bottoms on just one hanger
  • Hook hangers let you drape multiple items from a single spot

You can also transform a regular hanger into a specialty space-saver with the help of a few shower curtain rings. Attach them to your hanger and then store things like scarves, belts or hats. You can fit your entire collection on a single hanger rather than having it take up too much space in a stack.

4. Work in some decor

closet decorcloset decor

There’s no reason your organized closet needs to look boring. The best way to organize your closet can include a few personal touches. This can help make the space feel welcoming and purposeful.

If you have room, add a mirror or small framed picture. Use hat boxes, vintage luggage, decorative boxes or decorative metal baskets as storage containers instead of more generic, plastic ones.

Get creative when storing small items, such as jewelry, gloves and sunglasses with cigar boxes, vintage lunch boxes or even a small (clean!) tackle box.

What’s the best way to organize your closet?

The best way to organize your closet is to do whatever makes it easiest for you to get to all your stuff. No matter the size, it’s time to embrace your closet’s potential. When you design a closet space that’s easy to access, it will surprise you how motivated you’ll be about neatly hanging up your clothes. Use these closet organization tips to maximize every inch and love your closet again.




What Is a Security – Definition & Types That You Can Invest In

Securities are one of the most important assets to understand when you’re starting to invest. Almost every investment you can make involves securities, so knowing about the different types of securities and how they fit in your portfolio can help you design a portfolio that fits with your investing goals.

What Is a Security?

A security is a financial instrument investors can easily buy and sell. The precise definition varies with where you live, but in the United States, it refers to any kind of tradable financial asset.

Securities may be represented by a physical item, such as a certificate. Securities can also be purely electronic, with no physical representation of their ownership. The owner of a security, whether it is physical or digital, receives certain rights based on that ownership.

For example, the owner of a bond is entitled to receive interest payments from the issuer of that bond.

Types of Securities

There are many different types of securities, each with unique characteristics and a different role to play in your portfolio.


A stock is a security that represents ownership of a company.

When a business wants to raise money — for example, to invest in expanding the business — it can issue stock to investors. Investors give the business money and receive an ownership interest in the company in exchange.

The number of shares that exist in a company determine how much ownership each individual share confers. For example, someone who owns one share in a company with 100 shares outstanding owns 1% of the company. If that business instead had 100,000 shares outstanding, a single share would represent ownership of just 0.001% of the business.

Investors can easily buy and sell shares in publicly traded companies through the stock market. Shares regularly change in value, letting investors buy them and sell them for either a loss or a profit. Owning stock also entitles the shareholder to a share of the company’s earnings in the form of dividends if the company chooses to pay them, and the right to vote in certain decisions the company must make.


A bond is a type of debt security that represents an investor’s loan to a company, organization, or government.

When a business or other group wants to raise money but doesn’t want to give away ownership, it can instead borrow money. Individuals typically borrow money from a bank, but companies and larger organizations often borrow money by issuing bonds.

When an organization needs to borrow money, it chooses an interest rate and the amount that it wants to borrow. It then offers to sell bonds to investors until it sells enough bonds to get the amount of money it wishes to borrow.

For example, a company may decide to issue $10 million worth of bonds at an interest rate of 5%. It will sell bonds in varying amounts, usually with a minimum purchase requirement, until it raises $10 million. Then, the company stops selling the bonds.

With most bonds, the issuing organization will make regular interest payments to the person who owns the bond. The payments are based on the interest rate and the value of the bond purchased. For a $1,000 bond at an interest rate of 5%, the issuer might make two annual payments of $25.

The bonds also come with a maturity date. Once the maturity date arrives, the bond issuer returns the money it raised to the bondholders and stops making interest payments. For example, when it matures, the holder of the $1,000 bond might receive a final interest payment of $25 plus the $1,000 they initially paid to buy the bond.

Interest payments and returned principal go to the person who holds a bond on the payment date, not necessarily the original purchaser. This means that people who own bonds can sell them to other investors who want to receive interest payments. The value of a bond will depend on how much time is left until it matures, the bond’s interest rate, the current interest rate market, and the bond’s principal value.

Money Market Securities

Money market securities are incredibly short-term debt securities. These types of securities are similar to bonds, but their maturities are generally measured in weeks instead of years.

Because of their short maturities and their safety, investors often see money market securities and investments in money market funds as equivalent to cash.

Mutual Funds and ETFs

Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are both securities that purchase and hold other securities. They make it easier for investors to diversify their portfolios and offer hands-off management for investors.

For example, a mutual fund may purchase shares in many different companies. Investors can purchase shares in that mutual fund, which gives them an ownership stake in the different shares that the fund holds. By buying shares in one security — the mutual fund — the investor gets exposure to many securities at once.

The primary difference between mutual funds and ETFs is how investors buy and sell them. With mutual funds, investors place orders that settle at the end of the trading day. That makes mutual funds best for long-term, passive investment. ETFs are traded on the open market, so investors can buy them from or sell them to other investors whenever the market is open. This means ETFs can be used as part of an active trading strategy.

There are many different types of mutual funds and ETFs, each with its own investing strategy. Some mutual funds aim to track a specific index of stocks. Others actively trade securities to try to beat the market. Some funds hold a mix of stocks and bonds.

Mutual funds and ETFs are not free to invest in. Most charge fees, called expense ratios, that investors pay each year. For example, a fund with an expense ratio of 0.25% charges 0.25% of the investor’s assets each year. Fees vary depending on the fund provider and the fund strategy.

Preferred Shares

Preferred shares or preferred stock are a special kind of shares in a company, which have different characteristics than shares of common stock.

Compared to common stock, preferred shares typically:

  • Have priority for dividends over common stock
  • Receive compensation before common shares if a company is liquidated
  • Can be converted to common stock
  • Do not have voting rights


Derivatives are securities that derive their value from other securities rather than any value inherent to themselves.

One of the most common types of derivatives is an option, which gives the holder the right — but not the requirement — to buy or sell shares in a specific company at a set price. Derivatives are more complex financial instruments than generally aren’t suitable for beginners because they can be confusing and come with elevated risk.

How Securities Fit in Your Portfolio

Most investors use securities to build the majority of their investment portfolios. While some people may choose to invest solely in assets like real estate rather than securities like stocks and bonds, securities are highly popular because they make it easy for people to build diversified portfolios.

The mix of investments you choose is called asset allocation. Each type of security fits into an investment portfolio in different ways.

The Role of Stocks

For example, stocks generally offer high volatility and some risk, but higher rewards than fixed-income securities like bonds. People with long-term investing plans and the risk tolerance to weather some volatility may want to invest in stocks.

Within stocks, investors often hold a mixture of large-cap (large, well-known companies) and small-caps (smaller, newer businesses). Typically, larger companies are more stable but offer lower returns. Small-caps can be risky but offer greater rewards.

Large-caps often pay dividends, which are regular payments to shareholders. This makes them popular for people who want to produce an income from their portfolio but who don’t want to shift too heavily into safer, but less lucrative investments like bonds.

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

The Role of Bonds

By contrast, bonds are good for people who want to reduce volatility in their portfolios. A retiree or someone who wants to preserve their portfolio’s value instead of growing it might use bonds.

Bonds experience much less volatility than stocks, with their values changing primarily with changes in interest rates. If rates rise, bond values fall. If rates fall, bond values rise.

If you hold individual bonds and don’t sell them, you can only lose value from the bonds if the issuer defaults and stops making payments. That means that bonds can provide a predictable return, assuming you can hold them to maturity.

Bonds also make regular interest payments, often twice annually, making them very popular for income-focused investors.

The Role of Mutual Funds

A huge number of everyday investors opt to invest in mutual funds and ETFs instead of buying individual stocks and bonds. These funds hold dozens or hundreds of different stocks and bonds, making it easy for investors to diversify their portfolios. There are also many different funds that follow different investing strategies, meaning that almost everyone can find a mutual fund that meets their needs.

One of the most popular types of mutual funds is the target-date fund. These funds reduce their stock holdings and increase their bond holdings as time passes and gets closer to the target date. This makes them an easy way for investors to reduce risk and volatility in their portfolio as they get closer to needing the money,

For example, someone who wants to retire in 2062 might invest their money in a target date 2060 or 2065 fund. In 2020, the fund might hold a 90/10 or 80/20 split of stocks and bonds. By 2060, the fund will have reduced its stock holdings and increased its bond holdings so that its portfolio is a 40/60 split between stocks and bonds.

The Role of Derivatives

Derivatives are designed for advanced investors who want to use more complex strategies, such as using options to hedge their portfolio’s risk or to leverage their capital to produce greater gains.

For example, a trader could use options to short a stock. Shorting a stock is like betting against it, meaning the trader earns a profit if the share price falls. On the other hand, if the share price increases, the trader will lose money.

These are best used by advanced investors who know what they’re doing. Derivatives can be more volatile than even the riskiest stocks and can make it easy to lose a lot of money. However, if they’re used properly, they can be a safe way to produce income from a portfolio or a hedge to reduce risk.

Final Word

A security is the basic building block of an investment portfolio. Most assets that people invest in — like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds — are securities. Each type of security has different features and plays a different role in an investor’s portfolio.

Many investors succeed by investing in mutual funds or ETFs, which give them exposure to a variety of securities at once. If you want an even more hands-off investing experience, working with a robo-advisor or financial advisor can help you choose the best securities to invest in.


3 Essential Window Treatment Options for Renters in 2021 | Apartminty

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This year, there’s going to be a more significant number of apartments rented than ever before. That means more renters will be adding their own unique touch. There will be more rooms customized and more apartments fitted to unique styles.

However, it’s crucial to focus on window treatments with any apartment. Natural light, room privacy, and overall customization are vital for any renter. Whether you’re looking for shades or touching up a window with internal blinds, here are three essential window treatment options for renters in 2021.

Magnetic Curtain Rods

If you’re looking to hang a curtain but are worried about the impact it might have on your apartment walls, then magnetic curtain rods may be an ideal choice. These curtain rods can be easily installed as a temporary window treatment.

By magnetically pressing these curtain rods against steel doors or windows, you can hang any lightweight curtain. We particularly recommend sheer curtains for a balance of soft lighting and privacy.

An added tip: curtains on magnetic rods can also be controlled remotely using a smart option in 2021. The SwitchBot Curtain takes 30 seconds to install and motorizes any curtains. You can control this from SwitchBot’s Hub Mini app on your smartphone. 

Command Hooks

Do you have a small curtain or a sports pennant that you want to hang over your window? If so, you might want to try command hooks. These convenient, cost-effective options are among the most popular selections that renters use for apartment window treatment.

Command hooks are made out of different materials such as nickel or plastic. These hooks attach to your walls with adhesive strips and can hang surfaces ranging from metal to tile to wood. However, these hooks cannot hang on vinyl, and it’s recommended that you don’t hang items on command hooks over your bed.

Simply wipe the surface beforehand with rubbing alcohol and attach the command hooks to the wall. After that, you’ll be able to hang lightweight window treatments quickly and easily.

Temporary Shades

If you prefer the functionality of shades, then temporary shades can be a great selection. These lightweight options come in a wide array of styles.

Some temporary shades come in paper shade form. These range in color and can last up to six years. Other temporary shade options can be hung on a tension rod. These types of shades add privacy to your apartment and reduce the amount of heat let in through excess light. This may help save on energy bills as well this year.

No matter your choice, temporary shades can be a wise option for renters.

Renters may not think about window treatment when they first move into their apartment. However, these can be vital choices when it comes to privacy, energy efficiency, and customization. With these tips, renters can find essential window treatment options to enhance their apartments in 2021.

About the Author

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.

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10 Characteristics of the Best Growth Stocks (for High Investment Return)

Your investment strategy plays a major role in your profitability, or lack thereof. One of the most popular strategies investors employ is known as the growth investing strategy. The strategy is centered around finding and investing in stocks that have experienced compelling growth in recent history, and tapping into the ongoing growth potential.

But what exactly is a good growth stock?

Characteristics of the Best Growth Stocks

If you’re looking for stocks with incredible growth potential, ultimately hoping to cash in on the upward volatility to generate profits, you’re looking for stocks that display the following characteristics.

1. Stock Price Growth

For a stock to qualify as a growth stock, it has to be experiencing growth in its share price. Without price appreciation, the stock simply doesn’t fall into this category.

So, how do you determine if a stock is on an upward trend?

The easiest way is to take a look at the stock chart.

  • Look at Three-Month and One-Year Stock Charts. It will be clear whether a stock is trending upward when you look at the chart. If the share price has seen relatively consistent upward movement, there’s a strong chance you’re looking at a growth stock. It’s important to look at the chart over the past three months and one year. The three-month chart will tell you whether the trend is currently upward and the one-year chart will tell you whether the growth in the stock has been sustained over a significant period of time.
  • Forgive Dips. Even in bull markets, stocks that are climbing will dip from time to time as investors take profits or digest pieces of news. What you’re looking for is an overall performance in the upward direction, ignoring short-term dips in the data.
  • Compare the Growth to the S&P 500. The S&P 500 index is the primary benchmark of the United States market. By comparing the growth of the stock you’re interested in over the past three months and one year to growth in the S&P 500, you’ll be able to determine whether the company’s stock price has underperformed, performed in line, or outperformed the wider U.S. market. After all, the goal here is to find high-growth stocks that outperform market returns.

After looking at the charts, if you find that the stock has outperformed Wall Street averages over the past three months and one year, chances are you’ve landed on a solid opportunity to beat the market with your investing dollars.

2. Earnings Growth

Sustained gains in the value of a stock will only be possible if the company you’re investing in sustains growth in profitability. Who wants to continue piling money into a company that’s losing it all?

Determining earnings growth is a relatively simple process, thanks to a tool provided by Nasdaq. To access the tool, visit the Nasdaq website and look up the stock ticker you want to research. On the left of any stock’s profile is a link titled Earnings you can click for more details.

The resulting page will have a graph that shows the earnings per share on a quarterly basis over the past year. Look for consistent quarter-over-quarter growth in earnings. Also, pay attention to the earnings surprises. Stocks that have all positive earnings surprises consistently beat analyst expectations — a great sign for a growth stock.

3. Revenue Growth

It’s also important that the stock you invest in has a track record of impressive revenue growth. There are ways to reduce costs to inflating earnings while revenue is either plateauing or falling. These methods will only last so long, and earnings will begin to falter at some point if there isn’t real revenue growth underneath.

So, it’s important to make sure that the stocks you’re interested in are experiencing consistent and compelling growth in revenue.

To determine whether revenue is growing, simply look into the company’s last four quarterly earnings reports. Take note of the revenue reported in each quarter, keeping in mind normal peaks and valleys seen in the sector.

For example, tech companies tend to do best around the holidays, leading to strong fourth quarter revenue. As a result, companies in this space may see a plateau in revenue, or even slight declines, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter, which would be acceptable as long as revenues sequentially rise throughout the rest of the year.

Pro tip: Stock screeners like Trade Ideas and Stock Rover can help you find companies that meet or exceed most of your requirements for things like revenue growth, earnings per share, and other key metrics.

4. Market Growth

You may be noticing a trend here. The key to growth investing is finding a stock with sustained growth across all metrics, but the stock and the company it represents aren’t the only factors you should be paying attention to.

Growth in the addressable market the company you’re interested in targets is also crucially important to its ability to realize sustained gains in revenue, earnings, and ultimately share price.

If a company is beginning to capture the majority of the market it addresses, it may be going through a growth spurt, but that upward movement won’t be sustainable if the market size remains flat. At some point, the company will have saturated the market and will eventually plateau itself.

So, it’s important to look into market data to determine whether the market in which the company operates is growing at a rate capable of supporting continued upward movement in the stock you’re investing in.

To do so, simply go to your favorite search engine and type “(industry) market size” into the search bar and read through the results. In most cases, several statistics companies have performed detailed analyses of the market, determining the current market size and the size the market is expected to achieve over the next several years.

If the company you’re considering is working within a market that’s plateauing, look into how much of the market the company has already penetrated to determine how much more room is left for upward movement.

5. Free Cash Flow Growth

Money flows in and out of businesses like water. Free cash flow represents the net amount of money that flows into a business once all outflows are taken into consideration. This differs from profitability because free cash flow does not measure non-cash expenses such as depreciation.

It’s important to make sure there’s consistent growth in free cash. This can be seen by looking into the company’s balance sheets over the past four consecutive quarters.

6. A Fair Valuation

Growth stocks are notorious for reaching significant overvaluations after big runs higher, resulting in dramatic declines when investors take profits and move on to the next opportunity. While an average valuation is to be expected, risk levels increase when prices fly too high.

One of the best ways to determine if a stock is undervalued, overvalued, or valued fairly is to look at the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E ratio. A metric commonly used by investors looking for value stocks, the P/E ratio compares the price of the stock to the earnings per share generated by the company over the course of a year.

Every industry will have its own average ratio. By comparing the ratio of the stock you’re interested in to that of the market in which it operates, you’ll be able to determine if the current value of the stock you’re interested in is fair.

7. A Strong Balance Sheet

This has little to do with growth and more to do with general investing due diligence. Any time you buy a stock, you want to make sure that the underlying company has a strong balance sheet.

The balance sheet will clearly outline the value of the assets the company owns as well as the debt it owes, giving you an idea of whether the company is sitting on a strong financial foundation.

8. Clear Competitive Advantages

In order for a company to maintain an upward trajectory, it has to have clear competitive advantages. For example, compare BlackBerry and Apple when it comes to their activities in the smartphone space.

BlackBerry was a clear pioneer, creating some of the first devices classified as smartphones. Over time, competitors came in, taking market share from the company until “BlackBerry” became “Black-What?”

On the other hand, Apple jumped in with a clear competitive advantage. The company consistently innovated new ways to use smartphones, put together an ecosystem including an app store, music service, and more. Apple continues to improve the experience for users of its smartphones to this day, many of whom refuse to switch to other devices despite there being many choices in the smartphone market. As a result, Apple is touted as one of the best growth stocks on the market today.

9. A Solid Management Team

Like a chain, a company’s team is only as strong as its weakest line, and those weak links are sometimes found in management.

When investing in a company, you’re trusting that company with your money, meaning you’re trusting the company’s management team to make moves that will lead to growth.

Why would you trust a team of people you know nothing about?

Before investing in any stock, you should dig into the management team at the helm of the company. How long have members of the team been with the company, and what have they done since taking on their positions? Where did these team members work before, and did their work with previous companies lead to positive outcomes?

These are questions you should know the answers to before you dive in.

10. Forward-Looking Growth Prospects

Finally, before buying a stock you expect to grow substantially ahead, it’s important to take a look at the company’s growth prospects. What is its story for how it will grow and expand into the future?

For example, Gevo, a company focused on the production of clean fuels, is a hot topic among growth investors at the moment. Investors are excited because the company has signed several agreements that will open the door to expanding revenues in the years ahead. Moreover, the company is working to expand its infrastructure to meet increasing demand. Based on the activities taking place at the company, investors are excited about the expectation of meaningful growth in the value of the stock moving forward.

Any growth stock you invest in should have compelling forward-looking growth prospects, such as a plan to enter a new market, a strategy for making their products or services more widely available, or new products in the pipeline.

Consider Investing in Growth ETFs

Finding and taking advantage of growth opportunities in the market can be a cumbersome process, taking quite a bit of time. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to the process, or the expertise it takes to research each and every investment opportunity before risking your money, you may want to consider investing in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with a focus on growth strategies instead of picking individual stocks.

Although investing in growth-focused funds will reduce the amount of research required, it’s still important to look into each fund’s historic performance, expense ratio, and dividend yield before diving in.

Final Word

Investing in growth stocks has the potential to be a lucrative business. The potential to produce market-beating returns has made the growth investing strategy one of the most popular among retail and institutional investors alike.

As with any other investing strategy however, research forms the foundation of successful investment decisions. Taking the time to dive in deep and make sure the stocks you invest in display the above characteristics will greatly increase your potential profitability.


7 Best Vanguard Bond Funds to Buy in 2021

When you think about investing, chances are what pops into your mind first is stocks. However, any well-balanced investment portfolio will include a good mix of both stocks and bonds.

While bonds and other fixed-income investments don’t tend to see the significant price growth sometimes seen in stocks, they’re also not subject to as much volatility. So, including bonds in your diversification strategy ultimately helps to lighten the blow when the overall stock market is trading in the red.

Although there are plenty of investment-grade funds to choose from on Wall Street, some of the most popular among individual investors are from Vanguard. After all, Vanguard funds — be they exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, or index funds — are known for low-costs, allowing investors to hold onto more of the profits their investment dollars generate for them.

But which are the best Vanguard bond funds?

Best Vanguard Bond Funds

As with any investment-grade fund, Vanguard bond funds aren’t all created equal. Each fund comes with its own expense ratio, investment strategy, and historic performance. In addition, Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) provides ratings for companies according to their resilience to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks; ESG ratings provide a way to measure the sustainability and social impact of the entities the fund invests in.

With Vanguard being such a massive fund manager, offering up a long list of bond funds, how do you go about choosing the best for your investment portfolio?

Here’s a list of the seven best Vanguard funds that provide diversified exposure to bonds:

1. Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND)

The Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF was designed to provide highly diversified exposure to the U.S.-dollar-denominated bond market. However, the fund does not invest in inflation-protected bonds or tax-exempt bonds.

Due to the assets held in the fund, it is known for producing high levels of income compared to other bond funds. Moreover, because the fund invests in bonds, prices tend to rise and fall slowly, offering stability in your investment portfolio during bear markets and sudden downturns.

Key Stats

Not only does the fund come with industry-low costs and industry-leading gains, it comes with a strong ESG score, meaning that an investment in the fund may make an impact in causes you care about.

  • Asset Allocation: The vast majority of assets held in the fund are allocated to U.S. government bonds, representing more than 60% of holdings in the investment portfolio. The fund also invests in corporate bonds with credit ratings of BBB, A, AA, or AAA, with nearly half of its corporate bond holdings being rated BBB to maximize returns.
  • Expense Ratio: Vanguard has a track record of offering some of the lowest-cost funds on Wall Street. So, it should come as no surprise that BND comes with industry-low expenses of just 0.035%. According to, the average bond ETF costs 0.35%, meaning this particular fund comes at one-tenth the average cost.
  • Dividend Yield: At present, the dividend yield on the fund is 2.58%. However, according to historical data, the fund’s yield is generally closer to 3%.
  • Historic Performance: Compared to other bond ETFs, this fund comes with an above-average return. Over the past year, the fund has grown by 1.4%. Over the past three and five years, the fund has generated gains of 5.35% and 3.52%, respectively.
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • MSCI ESG Rating: The ESG rating on the fund is a 6.2 out of 10 according to, suggesting this fund is in line or slightly above its peers in terms of sustainability.

Pro Tip: Have you considered hiring a financial advisor but don’t want to pay the high fees? Enter Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. When you sign up you’ll work closely with an advisor to create a custom investment plan that can help you meet your financial goals.

2. Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VBTLX)

As an Admiral Shares fund, the minimum investment requirement in this fund is $3,000. However, with a low expense ratio and industry-leading historic returns, it may be worth making the large initial investment.

The Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund Admiral Shares fund seeks to provide diversified exposure to the United States Market by investing in treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. The maturities on these investments range from short to intermediate and even long-term commitments.

With the fund being made up of investments across several segments, it was designed to be the core bond holding in your investment portfolio.

Key Stats

As is the case with just about any fund offered up by the firm, the VBTLX offers a compelling historic performance and comes with a very low expense ratio.

  • Asset Allocation: The vast majority of assets held by the fund are invested in treasury bonds. However, the fund also holds mortgage-backed securities and corporate bonds with a range of maturities.
  • Expense Ratio: With an annual cost of just 0.05%, the fund comes with some of the lowest costs on the market today.
  • Dividend Yield: The dividend yield on the fund is currently 2.18%. Historically, dividend yields have been from 2.18% to 2.59%.
  • Historic Performance: When it comes to bonds, the performance on the VBTLX has been impressive. Over the past year, investors have enjoyed growth of 1.34%. Throughout the past three and five years, returns have come in at 5.33% and 3.55%, respectively.
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • MSCI ESG Rating: Not available.

3. Vanguard Long-Term Treasury ETF (VGLT)

The Vanguard Long-Term Treasury ETF was designed for one purpose: to give investors diversified exposure to U.S. Treasury bonds with long-term maturities.

As a result of its investments in the U.S. Treasury, the fund is known for coming with a sustainable, yet high income level. While there are some intermediate-term treasury bonds held in the fund, the vast majority are long-term bonds, with the portfolio maintaining a dollar-weighted average maturity of 10 to 25 years, making it a great opportunity for those looking for long-term income investments.

Key Stats

As with all funds on this list, the VGLT comes with a highly competitive expense ratio and is known for producing compelling gains and income. Here are the key stats:

  • Asset Allocation: 100% of the assets held in the fund’s investment portfolio are U.S. Treasury bonds with maturities ranging from 10 years to 25 years.
  • Expense Ratio: The expenses on the fund come in at 0.05%, making it yet another fund with one of the lowest costs you’ll find.
  • Dividend Yield: The current dividend yield on the fund is 2.42%. As with most funds on this list, the historic dividend yield has been quite a bit higher, with yields dropping as interest rates dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Historic Performance: The past year has been painful for investors in this fund, with losses of 6.35%, but the historic performance of the fund makes it well worth your attention. Over the past three and five years, returns have come in at 8.69% and 4.15%, respectively.
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • MSCI ESG Rating: The ESG rating on the fund is 6.10 according to, suggesting that the fund is an attractive option for impact investors.

4. Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCIT)

The Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF was designed to provide exposure to the intermediate-term corporate bond market. The majority of holdings in the fund have terms ranging from five to 10 years, reducing the interest rate risk associated with longer-term bond investments.

Moreover, the fund invests primarily in high quality, investment-grade corporate bonds. As a result, the fund provides moderate income and a high level of sustainability.

Key Stats

As a fund developed by Vanguard, this ETF comes with an industry-low expense ratio. However, low costs don’t mean you’ll have to give up performance.

  • Asset Allocation: All assets held in the fund’s portfolio are corporate bonds. The issuers of these bonds have credit ratings ranging from below BBB to AAA, with more than 50% of holdings in BBB-rated issuers and more than 39% in A-rated issuers. This strategy helps to increase income while reducing exposure to undue credit risk.
  • Expense Ratio: The costs associated with the fund come in at 0.05%, making it one of the most competitively priced funds on Wall Street.
  • Dividend Yield: The dividend yield on the fund clocks in at 3.02%, making it one of the best income generators on this list.
  • Historic Performance: Due to its compelling investment strategy, the historic performance of the fund is hard to beat among funds in its class. Over the past year, investors have enjoyed returns of 3.31%, with returns over the past three and five years coming in at 7.14% and 5.49%, respectively.
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • MSCI ESG Rating: According to, the ESG rating on the fund is 6.42, making it yet another strong option for those looking to make an environmental or social impact with their investing dollars.

5. Vanguard Tax-Exempt Bond ETF (VTEB)

Next up, the Vanguard Tax-Exempt Bond ETF was developed to track an underlying benchmark that tracks investment-grade municipal bonds in the United States.

Importantly, more than 80% of the fund’s assets are invested in securities that are considered tax-exempt, ultimately reducing that tax burden of your investment portfolio. The fund is designed for investors who are looking for exposure to tax-exempt income through their investment portfolio.

Key Stats

The VTEB is yet another fund with industry-low costs and a compelling historic performance. Here are the key stats:

  • Asset Allocation: The vast majority of holdings in the fund’s investment portfolio are municipal bonds that provide tax-exempt income. Moreover, credit ratings on bonds held in the portfolio range from BBB to AAA, with around 3% of holdings in the fund being investments in issuers that have not been rated. AA-rated issuers make up nearly 50% of the portfolio, with the next largest holdings being in AAA-rated issuers.
  • Expense Ratio: With an expense ratio of 0.06%, the fund comes with some of the highest costs on this list. Of course, that is still well below the industry average of 0.35% for bond ETFs.
  • Dividend Yield: The VTEB fund comes with a dividend yield of 2.14%. While it’s not the highest yield on this list, the vast majority of income generated by this fund comes with no tax burden.
  • Historic Performance: The fund is another top performer when it comes to funds focused on bond investments. In the past year, investors have enjoyed growth of 1.14%, with growth rates over the past three and five years coming in at 4.68% and 3.27%, respectively.
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
  • MSCI ESG Rating: Not available.

6. Vanguard Mortgage-Backed Securities ETF (VMBS)

As its name suggests, the Vanguard Mortgage-Backed Securities ETF was designed to provide investors with diversified exposure to the U.S. mortgage-backed securities market.

The fund aims to provide a sustainable level of income while limiting exposure to the volatility associated with investing in stocks. Moreover, the fund works to provide dollar-weighted average maturities between three and 10 years, keeping interest rate risk levels lower than would be experienced with longer-term maturities.

Ultimately, investing in the fund provides exposure to some of the most successful government-sponsored mortgage companies in the United States.

Key Stats

Although average for Vanguard, the expense ratio of the fund is well below the average across the industry. Like other funds on this list, you won’t be giving up potential returns in exchange for low costs. It also has one of the best Morningstar ratings on the list. Here are the key stats:

  • Asset Allocation: 100% of the holdings in this investment portfolio are government-sponsored mortgage companies, with the vast majority being invested in bonds issued by Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
  • Expense Ratio: The costs associated with the VMBS clock in at 0.05%, well below the industry average.
  • Dividend Yield: Although it’s not the highest on this list, the dividend yield of 2.02% means that investors enjoy a decent level of income. Moreover, due to the assets held in the portfolio, this income is highly consistent.
  • Historic Performance: As with others on this list, the VMBS has a pretty strong track record in terms of performance. Over the past year, investors have experienced growth at a rate of 1.61%. Throughout the past three and five years, returns have come in at 4.03% and 2.48%, respectively.
  • Morningstar Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
  • MSCI ESG Rating: Not available.

7. Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCSH)

Last, but definitely not least, the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF was designed to give investors exposure to high-end corporate bonds with a relatively short maturity.

With a dollar-weighted maturity of one to five years, this fund includes the shortest-term holdings compared to any other option on this list. Although shorter terms may cut into returns, they also lead to a reduction of exposure to interest-related risks.

Key Stats

Known for low expenses and strong returns, the VCSH has become a popular choice among investors. Here are the key stats:

  • Asset Allocation: As mentioned above, 100% of the assets in the investment portfolio are invested in short-term corporate bonds. The issuers of these bonds range in credit ratings from less than BBB to AAA, with 46.9% of its holdings in BBB-rated companies and 44.2% invested in A-rated companies.
  • Expense Ratio: Like the majority of options on this list, the VCSH comes with an expense ratio of 0.05%, a full 30 basis points below the industry average.
  • Dividend Yield: The fund offers a dividend yield of 2.15%, meaning investors can expect to generate meaningful income.
  • Historic Performance: The fund is known for producing relatively consistent returns, with gains coming in at 3.06% over the past year. Throughout the past three and five years, returns have come in at 4.48% and 3.37%.
  • Morningstar Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
  • MSCI ESG Rating: With an ESG rating of 6.72 according to, an investment in the fund represents a sustainable move, making it a great choice for impact investors.

Final Word

Investment-grade bonds are an important part of any investment portfolio. They provide a figurative cushion when bear markets set in. One of the best ways to gain diversified exposure to bonds is through bond funds.

As is the case with any investment, it’s important to do your research before risking your hard-earned money. In particular, pay close attention to expense ratios, dividend yields, and historic performance. If you’re interested in making an impact with your investments, you’ll also want to look into ESG data.

Nonetheless, with a small amount of research, investments in bonds can add the perfect balance to your portfolio.


The Best Places to Live in Nevada in 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carson City, NV.

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

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

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

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

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

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Fallon, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

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

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

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

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Henderson, NV.

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

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

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Las Vegas, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

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

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

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

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

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Laughlin, NV.

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

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

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

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North Vegas, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

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

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

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

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Reno, NV.

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

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

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Sparks, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

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

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

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

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Sun Valley, NV.

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

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

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Find your own best place to live in Nevada

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

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


7 Slick Oil Stocks to Buy Now

Oil stocks have been pretty slick in 2021, rising sharply in anticipation of a massive recovery in global economic activity as the COVID-19 pandemic fades.

Indeed, oil stocks have been one of the strongest recovery plays to be found – and analysts say the sector has plenty of room left to run.

The Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Index, which measures the performance of nearly three dozen stocks across the industry, was up 27% for the year-to-date through April 19. That compares to a gain of just 10.8% for the broad-market S&P 500, and a rise of 11.3% for the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Of course, not all oil stocks are created equal, and the sector still faces plenty of headwinds. The economic recovery could stumble, for one thing. And even if it doesn’t, recovery-chasing increases in production are forecast to limit upside in crude oil prices from current levels.

Despite those challenges, Wall Street is decidedly bullish on oil stocks in general, and really has the hots for a short list of names in particular.

To find analysts’ favorite oil stocks to buy now, we screened the Russell 3000 for oil stocks with the highest analyst recommendations, per data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Here’s how the recommendation system works. S&P Global Market Intelligence surveys analysts’ stock recommendations and scores them on a five-point scale, where 1.0 equals a Strong Buy and 5.0 is a Strong Sell. Any score between 2.5 and 1.5 equals a Buy recommendation. Scores below 1.5 equate to recommendations of Strong Buy.

After limiting ourselves to oil stocks with only the highest conviction Buy or Strong Buy consensus recommendations, we dug into research, fundamental factors and analysts’ estimates to suss out the best oil stocks to buy.

With that, have a look at analysts’ absolute favorite oil stocks to buy now. 

Share prices are as of April 19, unless otherwise noted. Analysts’ consensus recommendations and other data are courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Stocks are listed by strength of analysts’ consensus recommendation, from lowest to highest. 

1 of 7

Phillips 66

Phillips 66 signPhillips 66 sign
  • Market value: $34.1 billion
  • Dividend yield: 4.6%
  • Analysts’ average rating: 1.72 (Buy)

Analysts are increasingly bullish on oil stocks in the refinery sector as we approach summer, and one of the players they like best is Phillips 66 (PSX, $77.94).

The independent oil refiner gets a solid consensus Buy recommendation on Wall Street. Sweetening the deal, this oil stock sports a generous dividend yield to boot.

“Overall, we still see PSX as a best in class, diversified business model with a secure balance sheet that has weathered the storm,” writes Raymond James analyst Justin Jenkins, who rates the stock at Outperform (the equivalent of Buy). “We still view PSX as a long-term core holding in energy. PSX’s business should justify a premium valuation relative to the group.”

PSX is widely considered among the pros to be one of the best oil stocks to buy now. Of the 19 analysts covering Phillips 66 tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, eight rate it at Strong Buy, seven say Buy and three have it at Hold. One has no opinion on shares in the oil stock.

The Street expects the company to generate average annual earnings per share (EPS) growth of 7.8% over the next three to five years. Given that outlook, PSX’s valuation – trading at 11.7 times estimated earnings for 2022 – appears eminently reasonable. 

With an average target price of $91.71, analysts give the oil stock implied upside of about 18% over the next year or so.

2 of 7

Devon Energy

Silhouettes of oil derricksSilhouettes of oil derricks
  • Market value: $14.8 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.9%
  • Analysts’ average rating: 1.63 (Buy)

One way Devon Energy (DVN, $22.03) differentiates itself from other oil stocks in the exploration and production (E&P) sector is by way of management’s restraint and discipline.

“We have no intentions of adding any growth projects until demand fundamentals recover, inventory overhangs clear up, and OPEC plus curtailed volumes are effectively absorbed by the world markets,” said Devon CEO Rick Muncrief on a conference call with analysts in February. 

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Indeed, DVN has hunkered down through sales and divestitures to concentrate on just a handful of oil-rich U.S. basins. Devon’s $12 billion all-stock merger with WPX Energy, which closed in January, furthered its goal of strategic focus and cost control. 

Those moves and others have made Devon one of the most popular names in the industry with analysts.

“Devon has a highly productive portfolio of top-tier assets, mostly located in shale-rich basins with relatively low extraction costs,” writes Argus Research analyst William Selesky, who rates DVN at Buy. “This provides the company with a competitive advantage, especially with oil prices above $50 per barrel.”

Seventeen analysts covering DVN tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence call it one of the best oil stocks to buy now, at Strong Buy. Another 10 say Buy, and five call Devon a Hold. They expect the firm to deliver average annual EPS growth of 6% over the next three to five years. Meanwhile, shares trade at just 8.9 times their 2022 earnings estimate. 

With an average price target of $30.35, the Street gives this oil stock implied upside of about 38% in the next 12 months or so.

3 of 7

Pioneer Natural Resources

photo of oil fieldphoto of oil field
  • Market value: $32.2 billion
  • Dividend yield: 1.5%
  • Analysts’ average rating: 1.62 (Buy)

Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD, $148.58) is another one of analysts’ favorite oil stocks in the independent E&P sector. 

The most recent boost to the bull case came in early April when Pioneer announced the acquisition of privately held Doublepoint Energy for $5.5 billion in cash and stock, along with the assumption of $900 million in debt.

Analysts note that the deal enhances PXD’s position in the Midland Basin, which has some of the strongest well economics in the greater Permian Basin.

“PXD is building a powerhouse of a Permian Basin play, with no federal land exposure,” writes CFRA Research analyst Stewart Glickman, who rates shares at Buy. “We are somewhat surprised by the timing of this deal, coming so soon after closing the Parsley acquisition [in January], but we think PXD is being opportunistic.”

CFRA’s Glickman is very much in the majority when it comes to his stance on the oil stock. Of the 34 analysts covering PXD tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 19 rate it at Strong Buy, nine say Buy and six have it at Hold. Their average target price of $192.81 gives shares implied upside of about 30% over the next 12 months or so.

Like a number of oil stocks on this list, cautious sentiment appears to have kept PXD’s valuation in check. The Street projects the firm to generate average annual EPS growth of 8% over the next three to five years, and yet shares change hands at less than 11 times estimated earnings for 2022.

4 of 7

Diamondback Energy

oil rigoil rig
  • Market value: $14.0 billion
  • Dividend yield: 2.0%
  • Analysts’ average rating: 1.58 (Buy)

Some recent dealmaking, a diversified business and comparatively low cost of supply has the Street stampeding into the bull camp for Diamondback Energy (FANG, $77.67).

As investors in oil stocks know all too well, the industry underwent an intense period of consolidation amid the pandemic-driven rout in energy prices. And FANG has been among the more active acquirers. 

In the past few months, Diamondback closed a $2.2 billion deal for QEP Resources and acquired assets of privately held Guidon Energy for nearly $1 billion.

The moves were met with approval by analysts who cover oil stocks. 

“Diamondback Energy is well-positioned to outperform in a volatile commodity environment based on its strong cash margins, defensive attributes and synergies associated with the recent acquisitions of QEP and Guidon,” writes Stifel equity research analyst Derrick Whitfield, who rates shares at Buy.

“The company’s relatively low cost of supply, balance sheet, minerals and midstream ownership are a few of the reasons it is well-positioned to outperform as activity returns,” Whitfield adds.

On the whole, the pros see Diamondback as one of the best oil stocks you can buy now. Of the 33 analysts covering FANG tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 20 rate it at Strong Buy, seven say Buy and six have it at Hold. Their average target price of $94.19 gives this oil stock implied upside of about 21% over the next year or so.

As for valuation, FANG changes hands at 7.9 times analysts’ 2022 earnings estimate. They expect the company to deliver average annual EPS growth of 3% over the next three to five years, per S&P Global Market Intelligence.

5 of 7


oil rigoil rig
  • Market value: $68.8 billion
  • Dividend yield: 3.4%
  • Analysts’ average rating: 1.50 (Strong Buy)

If it isn’t clear by now, the Street believes many of the best oil stocks to buy now are in the E&P industry, and few are more popular than ConocoPhillips (COP, $50.89). Indeed, COP, with a rating of 1.50, is the first of our oil stocks to get a consensus recommendation of Strong Buy.

The January completion of ConocoPhillips’ purchase of rival Concho Resources for $9.7 billion added to Wall Street’s ardor. 

“We also have a favorable view of Conoco’s recent acquisition of Concho Resources, which will provide an attractive portfolio of low-cost assets and expand the company’s resource base by more than 50%,” writes Argus Research’s Selesky, who rates the stock at Buy.

It also helps that COP,  the world’s largest independent E&P company, is well-suited to grapple with a prolonged period of flattish prices. Although benchmark U.S. crude oil prices are up about 32% for the year-to-date, Kiplinger’s Economic Outlook doesn’t expect them to move much from current levels.

“In this challenging energy environment, we believe that a company’s balance sheet strength and place on the cost curve are critical, and favor those E&P companies that are well positioned to manage a potentially long period of low oil prices,” Selesky writes in a note to clients. “COP is one of these companies, as it benefits from its size, scale and combination of major long-cycle and unconventional short-cycle projects.”

Of the 29 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 16 say it’s a Strong Buy, 10 say Buy and two have it at Hold. One analyst has no opinion. They also see a strong year ahead for COP’s shares. Their $65.10 average price target implies 28% upside in the next 12 months. 

Shares trades at 14.9 times estimated earnings for 2022. However, that’s not exactly a screaming buy in light of analysts’ 6% long-term EPS growth forecast.

6 of 7

PDC Energy

Oil rigsOil rigs
  • Market value: $3.5 billion
  • Dividend yield: N/A
  • Analysts’ average rating: 1.31 (Strong Buy)

PDC Energy (PDCE, $35.42) is the second of our independent E&P oil stocks to score a Strong Buy consensus recommendation from Wall Street analysts. S&P Global Market Intelligence counts 12 Strong Buy calls, three Buys and one Hold rating on the stock. 

Analysts like this small-cap’s base of assets and its ability to punch well above its weight in generating free cash flow (FCF). 

“In our view, PDCE offers investors a compelling asset mix between the Delaware Basin and Niobrara Shale in the DJ Basin with a resilient asset base and a top-tier balance sheet,” writes Stifel analyst Michael Scialla, who rates the stock at Buy.

Goldman Sachs analyst Neil Mehta recommended that clients buy PDCE during the March pullback thanks to his expectation that the firm will produce $1.1 billion in free cash flow over the next two years. Note well that $1.1 billion in FCF would represent almost a third of PDCE’s entire market value. 

Lastly, the Street applauds the company’s debt-reduction efforts and its intention to return $120 million in cash to shareholders through a stock repurchase plan and a new dividend program set to launch later this year. 

Analysts’ average target price of $47.00 gives PDCE implied upside of about 33% over the next year or so. And even after a hot start to 2021, shares still look compellingly valued. 

PDCE trades at just 7.7 times estimated earnings for 2022 – even as analysts project average annual EPS growth of 7% over the next three to five years. 

7 of 7

Whiting Petroleum

A fracking well in a cornfieldA fracking well in a cornfield
  • Market value: $1.4 billion
  • Dividend yield: N/A
  • Analysts’ average rating: 1.29 (Strong Buy)

Whiting Petroleum (WLL, $36.65) is by far the smallest among the seven best oil stocks to buy now, but it also easily sports the strongest Strong Buy consensus recommendation.

Keep in mind, however, that as a small-cap play, WLL doesn’t get nearly as much attention from analysts as the other oil stocks on this list. That can skew the ratings.

Indeed, S&P Global Market Intelligence tracks only eight analysts who cover the independent E&P company. Six of them call WLL stock a Strong Buy, one says Hold and one has no opinion. 

It’s also worth noting that Whiting was the first major oil-and-gas company to file for bankruptcy during the pandemic. The company entered restructuring on April 1, 2020, and emerged from bankruptcy protection in September. 

That said, Whiting’s Chapter 11 period was a salubrious experience. The company, under the direction of new CEO Lynn Peterson and a new CFO James Henderson, labors under a manageable long-term debt load of $360 million (down from $2.8 billion pre-bankruptcy) and has access to a $750 million reserve-based revolving credit facility.

The bottom line is that the Street is increasingly optimistic about WLL’s bottom line. 

“Estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising,” notes Zacks Equity Research, which rates shares at Strong Buy. “We expect an above-average return from the stock in the next few months.”

With an average target price of $41.57, analysts give WLL implied upside of about 13% in the next 12 months or so. Shares trade at 8.2 times analysts’ estimated earnings for 2022, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The Street’s projected long-term EPS growth rate stands at 19% over the next three to five years.


Does Checking Your Credit Lower Score Lower It?

Your credit score is an important financial metric that can have a significant impact on your life. Good credit makes it easier to qualify for loans and makes borrowing money cheaper by reducing the interest you pay. If you have poor credit, you’ll have to pay higher interest rates when you get a loan or might have trouble borrowing money at all.

Checking your credit report regularly can help you have an idea of the loans and credit cards you can qualify for, as well as what you need to do to boost your score. It’s also a good way to monitor for identity theft or to notice incorrect information on your credit report.

When a lender checks your credit, it usually reduces your credit score by a few points. However, checking your score on your own is typically safe. Let’s explore why.

What Is a Credit Inquiry?

Your credit report contains a history of your interaction with credit and debt. That includes information about your history of making on-time versus late payments, the amount of debt you have, how many loans and credit cards you have open, and recent applications for credit.

When you apply for a credit card or a loan, the lender usually reaches out to one of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and Transunion — to ask for a copy of your credit report. The lender uses the information in that report to make its lending decision and to set the interest rate if it decides to offer a loan.

The credit bureau that supplied your credit report makes a note of that application on your credit report. Other lenders who request a copy of your credit report from that credit bureau can see your recent application for a loan through that note.

Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

When a lender asks a credit bureau for a copy of your credit report to make a lending decision, that’s called a hard inquiry. Hard inquiries show up on your credit report, and other lenders that check your credit can see hard inquiries in your credit history.

Lenders don’t check your credit only when you apply for a new loan. Lenders can check their customers’ credit at any time and often do so when the borrower asks for an increased credit limit or as part of regular risk assessments of their borrowers.

Individuals can also check their own credit reports using the many free credit tracking apps and websites on the market. These apps need to reach out to the credit bureaus to request copies of customers’ credit reports, but aren’t using those reports to make lending decisions.

In general, when you ask a credit bureau for a copy of your own credit report, it’s counted as a soft inquiry. Occasions when a lender checks someone’s credit to pre-approve them for an offer or as part of regular risk assessments — rather than as part of an application for a new loan or credit card — also count as soft inquiries.

Soft inquiries do not appear on credit reports, which means they don’t affect credit scores. This means that you can safely check their own credit reports without having to worry about damaging your credit.

How Credit Inquiries Affect Your Credit

Each hard inquiry on your credit report drops your score by a few points, usually between five and 10 points. One hard inquiry won’t have a large impact on your score, but they can quickly add up, so having lots of inquiries on your report can really damage your score.

This is because frequent applications for loans are a red flag for lenders. Someone who needs to borrow money repeatedly is likely to be having financial difficulties, meaning they’ll struggle to repay their loans.

The impact of each credit inquiry decreases over time. After a few months, an inquiry’s impact is relatively small and is usually offset by other positive factors on the credit report.

Credit inquiries stay on a credit report for two years, after which they fall off the report. That means that each inquiry only affects a person’s credit score for a maximum of two years.

Reducing the Impact of Credit Inquiries

People who are applying for large loans, like mortgages or auto loans, often want to shop around and get offers from multiple lenders so they can find the best deal. Even a small difference in the interest rate on a large loan can save thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage, so shopping around is more than worth the effort.

Credit bureaus and FICO, the company behind the most popular credit scoring models, understand the importance of rate shopping, so most scoring models account for it when generating your credit score.

Depending on the model used, all credit inquiries for loans like mortgages, auto loans, or student loans that happen within a 14- to 45-day period are combined when calculating credit scores. If someone applies for four mortgages in a week, it will only count as a single hard inquiry.

That means you don’t have to worry about tanking your credit by shopping for the best interest rates when applying for a large loan.

Does Checking Your Credit Lower Your Credit Score?

The majority of credit monitoring apps, websites, and services use soft inquiries to check your credit report and provide that information to you. That means it’s safe to check your credit using one of these services.

Credit bureaus only take note of hard inquiries into your credit by lenders making lending decisions. Soft inquiries do not impact your credit score or appear on your credit report.

Final Word

Healthy credit is an essential part of healthy finances. Your credit impacts your ability to borrow money and how much interest you have to pay.

If you want to keep track of your credit score, there are many services you can use to help, all without impacting your credit. One way to keep your score high is to only apply for loans and credit cards that you need, which reduces the number of inquiries that show up on your credit report.