How to Get 8 Free At-Home COVID Tests From Your Health Insurance

If you have private health insurance, you’re eligible for free at-home COVID tests starting Saturday, Jan. 15. The Biden Administration announced earlier this week that private insurers would be required to foot the bill for eight home COVID tests per month for each customer covered under a plan.

But finding tests could still be a challenge in the weeks to come. Also, many insurers won’t have the systems in place that would allow customers to access tests without paying out of pocket. That means it’s likely that you could have to pay up-front for tests and then submit a claim to reimbursement for your insurer.

Want to learn more about how to access free home COVID tests? Here’s everything you need to know.

Is My Insurance Company Required to Provide Free Home COVID Tests?

Yes, if you’re covered by a private insurance plan. If you have coverage through your employer or you bought a plan on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, your plan is required to cover the cost of eight tests per month.

Does Everyone in My Household Get 8 Free Tests?

Yes. The mandate requires insurers to cover eight free tests each month for each person covered under a plan. If you have a family of four and everyone is insured under your plan, your household can receive 32 tests per month.

How Do I Get My Free COVID Testing Kits?

Check with your insurer about whether it has a network of preferred pharmacies and retailers. If you get your test from within your insurance company’s network, you should be able to get your tests with no out-of-pocket cost.

You can also buy your test elsewhere and submit a claim for reimbursement. If you go that route, be sure to save a copy of your receipt. But be aware that your insurer can cap reimbursement at $12 per test if it has a preferred network and you choose to go out of network. If your insurance company doesn’t have a preferred network, they’re required to cover 100% of the cost no matter where you buy your testing kits.

Pro Tip

If your insurer requires you to submit a claim for reimbursement, purchase your COVID tests separately from other items and get a receipt to streamline things.

Will I Need to Pay Up Front?

Check with your insurance company. But there’s a good chance you’ll need to pay out of pocket for tests at the beginning. As The New York Times reported, home tests don’t have the billing codes that insurers need to process claims. Many insurance companies will require customers to save their receipt and submit a claim for reimbursement, just as you would if you went out of network for care.

Can I Buy All 8 Tests at Once?

Yes. You’re allowed to buy all eight tests at once or space out your purchases throughout the month. But keep in mind that as of this writing on Jan. 14, 2022, testing kits remain in extremely short supply.

What if I Don’t Have Health Insurance?

The federal government is purchasing 1 billion home tests and will soon launch a website that will allow anyone to request a free home test. You can also go to a community health center that offers free rapid tests.

Can I Get Free Tests if I’m on Medicaid?

Yes. State Medicare programs and Children’s Health Insurance Programs were already required to cover home testing kits under the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that passed in March 2021.

Can I Get Free Tests if I’m on Medicare?

At-home tests aren’t covered by original Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your plan about whether they’ll pay for home testing. You can also access free tests once the federal test-ordering website launches or go to a community health center for rapid testing.

Will the VA Cover Home Tests?

Veterans Affairs won’t send out free tests for now, but in many circumstances veterans can receive free testing at VA hospitals. Once the federal website launches, veterans will also be able to order free tests.

Will I Get Reimbursed for Tests I’ve Already Paid for?

Check with your insurer. Insurance companies aren’t required by federal law to retroactively cover home tests purchased before Jan. 15, 2022. However, some states already require insurers to cover at-home tests.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Inter-Vivos Trusts: How Do They Work?

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An inter-vivos trust or living trust is a legal arrangement that allows a person to transfer ownership of assets to a trust while they are still alive. Inter-vivos trusts distribute property to beneficiaries when a person dies and helps an estate avoid probate. A financial advisor can guide you through the process of creating an inter-vivos trust and address other estate planning needs.

How Inter-Vivos Trusts Work

While a testamentary trust takes effect when the grantor (person who created it) dies, an inter-vivos trust allows a person or married couple to transfer assets like money, real estate or investments to a separate entity while they are still alive.

An inter-vivos trust can be either revocable or irrevocable. When a living trust is revocable, the trustor can change or cancel it, and can even act as its trustee (person who manages the trust). An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, may not be changed once it is created. Assets transferred to an irrevocable trust cannot be transmitted back to the original owner.

Whether it’s revocable or irrevocable, an inter-vivos trust must have someone assigned as the trustee. Even if the person who established the trust opts to serve as trustee, they still must name a successor trustee to manage the trust when they die. A grantor must also name beneficiaries who will receive assets from the trust at the time of their death.

Last but not least, an inter-vivos trust does not render a will unnecessary. In fact, a will is still needed to execute the trust. Wills can also serve as a backup of sorts and account for any assets not included in the trust. For instance, if you acquire real estate later in life and never added it to the trust, a will can ensure the property is transferred to the proper person at the time of your death.

Advantages of Inter-Vivos Trusts

Property transferred to an inter-vivos trust is not subject to probate, the legal procedure by which a deceased person’s will is processed. This court-supervised process ensures that an estate’s assets are inventoried and distributed properly and that its debts are paid.

By skipping these lengthy and potentially costly proceedings, the assets held by a trust can be smoothly transferred to beneficiaries without becoming public record like a will do.

There are also specific benefits associated with revocable and irrevocable living trusts. A revocable trust gives the grantor the option to add new beneficiaries, remove assets or make other changes. While flexibility is the main advantage of a revocable trust, their counterparts offer more protection for the assets they hold. When a grantor establishes an irrevocable trust, they give up ownership of the assets held by the trust, which protects them from creditors.

How to Create an Inter-Vivos Trust

There are two primary ways to create an inter-vivos trust: enlisting the help of a professional or doing it yourself. A financial advisor, especially one with the accredited estate planner (AEP) designation, or an estate planning attorney can streamline the process for you and ensure that your trust is created properly.

However, a basic living trust doesn’t have to be overly complicated and can even be set up online. If you’re looking to go it alone, you will first need to decide what kind of trust you want to establish and the assets that you’ll transfer to it. Next, you’ll have to pick a trustee and beneficiaries. Then, you’ll create a Declaration of Trust online and sign it in front of a notary. Lastly, you’ll need to transfer the titles of trust property to the trustee (even if it’s you) and then safely store the document.

While it may save you money, be aware of the potential pitfalls and dangers of DIY estate planning, which can create additional problems for beneficiaries when you’re gone.

Bottom Line

An inter-vivos trust is an estate planning tool that helps a person or couple transfer assets to beneficiaries without exposing their estate to the probate system. While some trusts go into effect when a person dies, an inter-vivos or living trust is created when the grantor is still alive. They can be revocable or irrevocable, and can be created with the help of a professional or one’s own.

Estate Planning Tips

  • As mentioned above, a financial advisor who specializes in estate planning can help you navigate what can be a complicated process of planning an estate. SmartAsset’s free matching tool can pair you with up to three local advisors in a matter of minutes. If you’re ready to find a professional, get started now.
  • Depending on the size of your estate and where you live, your assets may be subject to state or federal estate taxes. But remember that up to $11.7 million in assets are exempt from federal estate taxes in 2021. Married couples are also permitted to tap their spouse’s unused portion of this exemption limit, effectively allowing couples to transfer a combined $23.4 million to beneficiaries free of federal estate taxes.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Andrii Dodonov, ©iStock.com/fizkes, ©iStock.com/shapecharge

Patrick Villanova, CEPF® Patrick Villanova is a writer for SmartAsset, covering a variety of personal finance topics, including retirement and investing. Before joining SmartAsset, Patrick worked as an editor at The Jersey Journal. His work has also appeared on NJ.com and in The Star-Ledger. Patrick is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he studied English and developed his love of writing. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, trying out new recipes in the kitchen and watching his beloved New York sports teams. A New Jersey native, he currently lives in Jersey City.

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Source: smartasset.com

How Much Auto Insurance Do I Really Need?

Figuring out just how much car insurance you really need can be a challenge.

At minimum, you’ll want to make sure you have enough car insurance to meet the requirements of your state or the lender who’s financing your car. Beyond that, there’s coverage you might want to add to those required amounts. These policies will help ensure that you’re adequately protecting yourself, your family, and your assets. And then there’s the coverage that actually fits within your budget.

We know it may not be a fun topic to think about what would happen if you were involved in a car accident, but given that well over five million drivers are involved in one every year, it’s a priority to get coverage. Finding a car insurance policy that checks all those boxes may take a bit of research — and possibly some compromise. Here are some of the most important factors to consider.

How Much Car Insurance Is Required by Your State?

A good launching pad for researching how much car insurance you need is to check what your state requires by law. Only two states do not require a car owner to carry some amount of insurance: New Hampshire and Virginia. If you live elsewhere, find out how much and what types of coverage a policyholder must have. Typically, there are options available. Once you’ve found this information, consider it the bare minimum to purchase.

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

As you dig into the topic, you’ll hear a lot of different terms used to describe the various kinds of coverage that are offered. Let’s take a closer look here:

Liability Coverage

Most states require drivers to carry auto liability insurance. What it does: It helps pay the cost of damages to others involved in an accident if it’s determined you were at fault. Let’s say you were to cause an accident, whether that means rear-ending a car or backing into your neighbor’s fence while pulling out of a shared driveway. Your insurance would pay for the other driver’s repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and other related costs. What it wouldn’t pay for: Your costs or the costs relating to passengers in your car.

Each state sets its own minimum requirements for this liability coverage. For example, in California, drivers must carry at least $15,000 in coverage for the injury/death of one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $5,000 for damage to property. The shorthand for this, in terms of shopping for car insurance, would be that you have 15/30/5 coverage.

But in Maryland, the amounts are much higher: $30,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $60,000 in bodily injury liability per accident (if there are multiple injuries), and $15,000 in property damage liability per accident. (That would be 30/60/15 coverage.)

And some may want to go beyond what the state requires. If you carry $15,000 worth of property damage liability coverage, for example, and you get in an accident that causes $25,000 worth of damage to someone else’s car, your insurance company will only pay the $15,000 policy limit. You’d be expected to come up with the remaining $10,000.

Generally, recommendations suggest you purchase as much as you could lose if a lawsuit were filed against you and you lost. In California, some say that you may want 250/500/100 in coverage – much more than the 15/30/5 mandated by law.

Recommended: What Does Liability Auto Insurance Typically Cover?

Collision Coverage

Collision insurance pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident with another car that was your fault. It will also help pay for repairs if, say, you hit an inanimate object, be it a fence, tree, guardrail, building, dumpster, pothole, or anything else.

If you have a car loan or lease, you’ll need collision coverage. If, however, your car is paid off or isn’t worth much, you may decide you don’t need collision coverage. For instance, if your car is old and its value is quite low, is it worth paying for this kind of premium, which can certainly add up over the years?

But if you depend on your vehicle and you can’t afford to replace it, or you can’t afford to pay out of pocket for damages, collision coverage may well be worth having. You also may want to keep your personal risk tolerance in mind when considering collision coverage. If the cost of even a minor fender bender makes you nervous, this kind of insurance could help you feel a lot more comfortable when you get behind the wheel.

Comprehensive Coverage

When you drive, you know that unexpected events happen. A pebble can hit your windshield as you drive on the highway and cause a crack. A tree branch can go flying in a storm and put a major dent in your car. Comprehensive insurance covers these events and more. It’s a policy that pays for physical damage to your car that doesn’t happen in a collision, including theft, vandalism, a broken window, weather damage, or even hitting a deer or some other animal.

If you finance or lease your car, your lender will probably require it. But even if you own your car outright, you may want to consider comprehensive coverage. The cost of including it in your policy could be relatively small compared to what it would take to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged or stolen.

Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage

Several states require Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments coverage (MedPay for short). This is typically part of the state’s no-fault auto insurance laws, which say that if a policyholder is injured in a crash, that person’s insurance pays for their medical care, regardless of who caused the accident.

While these two types of medical coverage help pay for medical expenses that you and any passengers in your car sustain in an accident, there is a difference. MedPay pays for medical expenses only, and is often available only in small increments, up to $5,000. PIP may also cover loss of income, funeral expenses, and other costs. The amount required varies hugely depending on where you live. For instance, in Utah, it’s $3,000 per person coverage; in New York, it’s $50,000 per person.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Despite the fact that the vast majority of states require car insurance, there are lots of uninsured drivers out there. The number of them on the road can range from one in eight to one in five! In addition, there are people on the road who have the bare minimum of coverage, which may not be adequate when accidents occur.

For these reasons, you may want to take out Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage Many states require these policies, which are designed to protect you if you’re in an accident with a motorist who has little or no insurance. In states that require this type of coverage, the minimums are generally set at about $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. But the exact amounts vary from state to state. And you may choose to carry this coverage even if it isn’t required in your state.

If you’re seriously injured in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t carry liability car insurance, uninsured motorist coverage could help you and your passengers avoid paying some scary-high medical bills.

Let’s take a quick look at some terms you may see if you shop for this kind of coverage:

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI)

This kind of policy covers your medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering after an accident when the other driver is not insured. Additionally, it provides coverage for those costs if any passengers were in your vehicle when the accident occurred.

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD)

With this kind of policy, your insurer will pay for repairs to your car plus other property if someone who doesn’t carry insurance is responsible for an accident. Some policies in certain states may also provide coverage if you’re involved in a hit-and-run incident.

Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM)

Let’s say you and a passenger get into an accident that’s the other driver’s fault, and the medical bills total $20,000…but the person responsible is only insured for $15,000. A UIM policy would step in and pay the difference to help you out.

Recommended: How to Pay for Medical Bills You Can’t Afford

Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) Insurance

Here’s another kind of insurance to consider: GAP insurance, which recognizes that cars can quickly depreciate in value and helps you manage that. For example, if your car were stolen or totaled in an accident (though we hope that never happens), GAP coverage will pay the difference between what its actual value is (say, $5,000) and what you still owe on your auto loan or lease (for example, $10,000).

GAP insurance is optional and generally requires that you add it onto a full coverage auto insurance policy. In some instances, this coverage may be rolled in with an auto lease.

Non-Owner Coverage

You may think you don’t need car insurance if you don’t own a car. (Maybe you take public transportation or ride your bike most of the time.) But if you still plan to drive occasionally — when you travel and rent a car, for example, or you sometimes borrow a friend’s car — a non-owner policy can provide liability coverage for any bodily injury or property damage you cause.

The insurance policy on the car you’re driving will probably be considered the “primary” coverage, which means it will kick in first. Then your non-owner policy could be used for costs that are over the limits of the primary policy.

Rideshare Coverage?

If you drive for a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft, you may want to consider adding rideshare coverage to your personal automobile policy.

Rideshare companies are required by law in some states to provide commercial insurance for drivers who are using their personal cars — but that coverage could be limited. (For example, it may not cover the time when a driver is waiting for a ride request but hasn’t actually picked up a passenger.) This coverage could fill the gaps between your personal insurance policy and any insurance provided by the ridesharing service. Whether you are behind the wheel occasionally or full-time, it’s probably worth exploring.

Recommended: Which Insurance Types Do You Really Need?

Why You Need Car Insurance

Car insurance is an important layer of protection; it helps safeguard your financial wellbeing in the case of an accident. Given how much most Americans drive – around 14,000 miles or more a year – it’s likely a valuable investment.

What If You Don’t Have Car Insurance?

There can be serious penalties for driving a car without valid insurance. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios: If an officer pulls you over and you can’t prove you have the minimum coverage required in your state, you could get a ticket. Your license could be suspended. What’s more, the officer might have your car towed away from the scene.

That’s a relatively minor inconvenience. Consider that if you’re in a car accident, the penalties for driving without insurance could be far more significant. If you caused the incident, you may be held personally responsible for paying any damages to others involved; one recent report found the average bodily injury claim totaled more than $20,000. And even if you didn’t cause the accident, the amount you can recover from the at-fault driver may be restricted.

If that convinces you of the value of auto insurance (and we hope it does), you may see big discrepancies in the amounts of coverage. For example, there may be a tremendous difference between the amount you have to have, how much you think you should have to feel secure, and what you can afford.

That’s why it can help to know what your state and your lender might require as a starting point. Keep in mind that having car insurance isn’t just about getting your car — or someone else’s — fixed or replaced. (Although that — and the fact that it’s illegal to not have insurance — may be motivation enough to at least get basic coverage.)

Having the appropriate levels of coverage can also help you protect all your other assets — your home, business, savings, etc. — if you’re in a catastrophic accident and the other parties involved decide to sue you to pay their bills. And let us emphasize: Your state’s minimum liability requirements may not be enough to cover those costs — and you could end up paying the difference out of pocket, which could have a huge impact on your finances.

Finding the Best Car Insurance for You

If you’re convinced of the value of getting car insurance, the next step is to decide on the right policy for you. Often, the question on people’s minds is, “How can I balance getting the right coverage at an affordable price?”

What’s the Right Amount of Car Insurance Coverage for You?

To get a ballpark figure in mind, consider these numbers:

Type of Coverage Basic Good Excellent
Liability Your state’s minimum •   $100,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $300,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

◦   $100,000 for property damage

•   $250,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $500,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

◦   $250,000 for property damage

Collision Not required Recommended Recommended
Comprehensive Not required Recommended Recommended
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Your state’s minimum $40,000 Your state’s maximum
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (UM, UIM) Coverage Your state’s minimum •   $100,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $300,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

•   $250,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $500,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

Here are some points to consider that will help you get the best policy for you.

Designing a Policy that Works for You

Your insurance company will probably offer several coverage options, and you may be able to build a policy around what you need based on your lifestyle. For example, if your car is paid off and worth only a few thousand dollars, you may choose to opt out of collision insurance in order to get more liability coverage.

Choosing a Deductible

Your deductible is the amount you might have to pay out personally before your insurance company begins paying any damages. Let’s say your car insurance policy has a $500 deductible, and you hit a guardrail on the highway when you swerve to avoid a collision. If the damage was $2,500, you would pay the $500 deductible and your insurer would pay for the other $2,000 in repairs. (Worth noting: You may have two different deductibles when you hold an auto insurance policy — one for comprehensive coverage and one for collision.)

Just as with your health insurance, your insurance company will likely offer you a lower premium if you choose to go with a higher deductible ($1,000 instead of $500, for example). Also, you typically pay this deductible every time you file a claim. It’s not like the situation with some health insurance policies, in which you satisfy a deductible once a year.

If you have savings or some other source of money you could use for repairs, you might be able to go with a higher deductible and save on your insurance payments. But if you aren’t sure where the money would come from in a pinch, it may make sense to opt for a lower deductible.

Recommended: Different Types of Insurance Deductibles

Checking the Costs of Added Coverage

As you assess how much coverage to get, here’s some good news: Buying twice as much liability coverage won’t necessarily double the price of your premium. You may be able to manage more coverage than you think. Before settling for a bare-bones policy, it can help to check on what it might cost to increase your coverage. This information is often easily available online, via calculator tools, rather than by spending time on the phone with a salesperson.

Finding Discounts that Could Help You Save

Some insurers (including SoFi Protect) reward safe drivers or “good drivers” with lower premiums. If you have a clean driving record, free of accidents and claims, you are a low risk for your insurer and they may extend you a discount.

Another way to save: Bundling car and home insurance is another way to cut costs. Look for any discounts or packages that would help you save.

The Takeaway

Buying car insurance is an important step in protecting yourself in case of an accident or theft. It’s not just about repairing or replacing your vehicle. It’s also about ensuring that medical fees and lost wages are protected – and securing your assets if there were ever a lawsuit filed against you. These are potentially life-altering situations, so it’s worth spending a bit of time on the few key steps that will help you get the right coverage at the right price. It begins with knowing what your state or your car-loan lender requires. Then, you’ll review the different kinds of policies and premiums available. Put these pieces together, and you’ll find the insurance that best suits your needs and budget.

A Simple Way to Get Great Car Insurance

Feeling uncertain about how much auto insurance you really need or what kind of premium you might have to pay to get what you want? Check out SoFi Protect, which uses the Root mobile app to measure your driving habits. The better you drive, the more you can save.


Insurance not available in all states.
Gabi is a registered service mark of Gabi Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
SoFi is compensated by Gabi for each customer who completes an application through the SoFi-Gabi partnership.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com

Factoring Inflation into Your Retirement Plan

Right now, inflation is top of mind for everyone, perhaps especially retirees.

Inflation is important. But it is only one of the risks that retirees have to plan for and manage. And like the other risks you have to manage, you can build an income plan so that rising costs (both actual and feared) do not ruin your retirement.

Inflation and Your Budget

Remember that in retirement your budget is different than when you were working, so you will be impacted in different ways. And, of course, when you were working your salary and bonuses might have gone up with inflation, which helped offset long-term cost increases.

Much of your pre-retirement budget was spent on housing — an average of 30% to 40%. Retirees with smaller or paid-off mortgages will have lower housing costs even as their children are busy taking out loans to buy houses, and even home equity loans to pay for home improvements.

On the other hand, while health care looms as a big cost for everyone, for retirees these expenses can increase faster than income. John Wasik recently wrote an article for The New York Times that cited a recent study showing increases in Medicare Part B premiums alone will eat up a large part of the recent 5.9% cost of living increase in Social Security benefits. As Wasik wrote, “It’s difficult to keep up with the real cost of health care in retirement unless you plan ahead.”

Inflation and Your Sources of Income

To protect yourself in retirement means (A) creating an income plan that anticipates inflation over many years and (B) allowing yourself to adjust for inflation spikes that may affect your short-term budget.

First, when creating your income plan, it’s important to look at your sources of income to see how they respond directly or indirectly to inflation.

  1. Some income sources weather inflation quite well. Social Security benefits, once elected, increase with the CPI. And some retirees are fortunate enough to have a pension that provides some inflation protection.
  2. Dividends from stocks in high-dividend portfolios have grown over time at rates that compare favorably with long-term inflation.
  3. Interest payments from fixed-income securities, when invested long-term, have a fixed rate of return. But there are also TIPS bonds issued by the government that come with inflation protection.
  4. Annuity payments from lifetime income annuities are generally fixed, which makes them vulnerable to inflation. Although there are annuities available that allow for increasing payments to combat inflation.
  5. Withdrawals from a rollover IRA account are variable and must meet RMD requirements, which do not track inflation.   The key in a plan for retirement income, however, is that withdrawals can make up any inflation deficit. In Go2Income planning, the IRA is invested in a balanced portfolio of growth stocks and fixed income securities. While the returns will fluctuate, the long-term objective is to have a return that exceeds inflation.
  6. Drawdowns from the equity in your house, which can be generated through various types of equity extraction vehicles, can be set by you either as level or increasing amounts. Use of these resources should be limited as a percentage of equity in the residence.

The challenge is that with these multiple sources of income, how do you create a plan that protects you against the inflation risk — as well as other retirement risks?

Key Risks That a Retirement Income Plan Should Address

A good plan for income in retirement considers the many risks we face as we age. Those include:

  1. Longevity risk. To help reduce the risk of outliving your savings, Social Security, pension income and annuity payments provide guaranteed income for life and become the foundation of your plan. As one example, you should be smart about your decision on when and how to claim your Social Security benefit in order to maximize it.
  2. Market risk. While occasional “corrections” in financial markets grab headlines and are cause for concern, you can manage your income plan by reducing your income’s dependence on these returns.  By having a large percentage of your income safe and less dependent on current market returns, and by replanning periodically, you are pushing a significant part of the market risk (and reward) to your legacy. In other words, the kids may receive a legacy that reflects in part a down market, which can recover during their lifetimes.
  3. Inflation risk. While a portion of every retiree’s income should be for their lifetime and less dependent on market returns, you need to build in an explicit margin for inflation risk on your total income. The easiest way to do that is to accept lower income at the start.  For example, under a Go2Income plan, our typical investor (a female, age 70 with $2 million of savings, of which 50% is in a rollover IRA) can plan on starting income of $114,000 per year under a 1% inflation assumption. It would be reduced to $103,000 under a 2% assumption.

So, what factors should you consider in making that critical assumption about how much inflation you need to account for in your plan?

Picking a Long-Term Assumed Inflation Rate  

Financial writers often talk about the magic of compound interest; in real numbers, it translates to $1,000 growing at 3% a year for 30 years to reach $2,428. Sounds good when you’re saving or investing. But what about when you’re spending? The purchase that today costs $1,000 could cost $2,428 in 30 years if inflation were 3% a year.

When you design your plan, what rate of inflation do you assume? Here are some possible options (Hint: One option is better than the others):

  • Assume the current inflation of 5.9% is going to continue forever.
  • Assume your investments will grow faster than inflation, whatever the level.
  • Assume a reasonable long-term rate for inflation, just like you do for your other assumptions.

We like the third choice, particularly when you consider the chart below. Despite the dramatically high rate of today’s inflation that affects every result in the chart, the long-term inflation rate over the past 30 years was 2.4%. For the past 10 years, it was even lower at 2.1%.

A Long-Term View Smooths Inflation Spikes

A table shows what a $1,000 item would cost today if purchased in years ranging from 2020 to 1991, showing inflation rates of 6.9% currently, down to 2.4% for 30 years.A table shows what a $1,000 item would cost today if purchased in years ranging from 2020 to 1991, showing inflation rates of 6.9% currently, down to 2.4% for 30 years.

Managing Inflation in Real Time

Whether you build your plan around 2.0%, 2.5% or even 3.0%, it is helpful to realize that any short-term inflation rate will not match your plan assumption. My view is that you can adjust to this short-term inflation in multiple ways.

  • Where possible, defer purchases that are affected by temporary price hikes.
  • Where you can’t defer purchases, use your liquid savings accounts to purchase the items, and avoid drawing down from your retirement savings.
  • If you believe price hikes will continue, revise your inflation assumption and create a new plan. Of course, monitor your plan on a regular basis.

Inflation as Part of the Planning Process

Go2Income planning attempts to simplify the planning for inflation and all retirement risks:

  1. Set a long-term assumption as to the inflation level that you’re comfortable with.
  2. Create a plan that lasts a lifetime by integrating annuity payments.
  3. Generate dividend and interest yields from your personal savings, and avoid capital withdrawals.
  4. Use rollover IRA withdrawals from a balanced portfolio to meet your inflation-protected income goal.
  5. Manage your plan in real time and make adjustments to your plan when necessary.

Inflation is a worry for everyone, whether you are retired or about to retire. Put together a plan at Go2Income  and then adjust it based on your expectations and investments. We will help you create the best approach to inflation and all retirement risks you may face.

President, Golden Retirement Advisors Inc.

Jerry Golden is the founder and CEO of Golden Retirement Advisors Inc. He specializes in helping consumers create retirement plans that provide income that cannot be outlived. Find out more at Go2income.com, where consumers can explore all types of income annuity options, anonymously and at no cost.

Source: kiplinger.com

Dear Penny: Will My Husband’s Bad Health Choices Drain My Life’s Savings?

Dear Penny,

My spouse suffered from a stroke three years ago. He is unable to work and is receiving Social Security and is very noncompliant about his health. I am currently and have been the breadwinner for this family. 

My concern is that he is going to financially take everything I have saved and worked hard for with his consistent medical expenses. I fear he could end up in a nursing home. 

I have thought about divorce, but I know he would take half of my retirement. I am 62, and I hope to be able to retire at 65. How can I protect my retirement from the possible nursing home and medical expenses? 

-T.

Dear T.,

Watching your spouse jeopardize his health and risk your future in the process has got to be agonizing. Unfortunately, the threat of unmanageable medical bills is far too common since Medicare only covers the first 100 days of skilled nursing care.

Paying for a nursing home can quickly erase a lifetime’s worth of savings. The average cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility is over $7,700 per month, according to Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care survey. Eventually, Medicaid will kick in — but only after someone has depleted almost all of what’s called countable assets, which include things like retirement accounts and other investments, cash, bank accounts and homes that aren’t used as a primary residence.



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When one spouse needs Medicaid but the other doesn’t, the non-applicant spouse can typically keep no more than $137,400 of countable assets. That’s not much if you’re expecting a long retirement.

But you do have options for preserving the money you’ve worked hard for over the years. It’s essential that you consult with an elder care attorney. Medicaid planning is extraordinarily complex, and the laws vary significantly by state. You can use the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys database to search for an attorney near you.

You’re correct in that if you divorced, your husband would probably be entitled to part of your retirement. But most attorneys don’t recommend getting divorced solely to qualify one spouse for Medicaid for a host of reasons that are too complicated to delve into here.

One option you should discuss with an attorney is a Medicaid-compliant annuity. In a nutshell, Medicaid considers the income of the spouse who’s applying for coverage, but the other spouse’s income is off-limits. A Medicaid-compliant annuity takes part of your assets and converts it into a fixed income stream. The payments are based on your life expectancy, calculated according to Social Security’s life expectancy table.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you have $257,400 in countable assets, which would put you $120,000 above Medicaid’s threshold. You use that $120,000 to buy an annuity. If your life expectancy is 10 years, you’d immediately start to get payments of $1,000 a month, or $12,000 annually, for the next 10 years.

The insurance company makes its money by investing your principal. It’s a good tool for married couples when only one spouse needs care because, remember, the income of the other spouse isn’t used for Medicaid eligibility.

There are many rules an annuity has to follow to be considered Medicaid compliant. For example, it has to be a single premium immediate annuity, meaning you buy it in a lump sum and the payments start right away. If you’d opt to go this route, it’s important to look specifically for a Medicaid compliant annuity. Annuities advertised as “Medicaid-friendly” often don’t meet all the rules.

If you have debt, you could also use part of your assets to pay it off so you can keep your expenses minimal in retirement. Paying off a mortgage balance, a personal car loan or a credit card balance generally won’t violate Medicaid’s rules. If the two of you own your home, there’s no limit on your home equity as long as you continue to reside there.

You could have other options depending on your state. For instance, if you live in Florida or New York, you may be able to use a spousal refusal strategy, where you essentially sign a written statement refusing to contribute to the cost of your husband’s care.

These are just a few strategies that may be possible in the event that your husband needs long-term care. However, I can’t stress how important it is to consult with an experienced attorney about how to protect your assets. You may not need to take any action right away. But just knowing what options you have will set your mind at ease.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Stock Market Today: Dow Hits New Record, Nasdaq Takes a Spill

Monday’s fairly broad market rally turned into more of a two-pronged move Tuesday as economic data and rising interest rates sparked gains in cyclical stocks.

The Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers’ index reading for December declined 2.3 points to 58.7, well below estimates for 60.0 (anything above 50 represents expansion). However, Barclays economist Jonathan Millar saw in the numbers “significant easing of supply pressures, which is an encouraging sign with disruptions from the omicron variant likely not fully reflected in December.”

Also dragging on stocks was another hike in the 10-year Treasury, whose yield reached 1.68% to close in on highs not seen since November. That helped spark cyclical sectors including financials (+2.6%), energy (+3.5%) and industrials (+2.0%), but it proved a weight on technology (-1.1%) and consumer discretionaries (-0.6%).

“If this all sounds familiar that’s because it is as we’ve seen these bouts of Treasury volatility drive massive rotations within equity markets throughout much of last year,” says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist with the New York Stock Exchange.

As for the major indexes?

Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6% to easily rewrite the record books with a close at 36,799, while the S&P 500 Index slightly dipped from yesterday’s new high, to 4,793. The Nasdaq Composite took a dive, however, off 1.3% to 15,622.

stock price chart 010422stock price chart 010422

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 jumped 1.1% to 2,268.
  • U.S. crude oil futures rose 1.2% to settle at $76.99 per barrel.
  • Gold futures edged up 0.8% to $1,814.60 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin tacked on 0.8% to $46,256.15. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
  • Ford Motor (F) stock surged 11.8% after the Detroit automaker said it would almost double annual production of its electric F-150 pickup by mid-2023. The company is slated to start taking orders for the pickup tomorrow, Jan. 5.
  • Fellow carmaker General Motors (GM) was another big mover today, jumping 7.5%. This came after GM said dealer inventories totaled 199,662 at the end of the fourth quarter, up 55% from the record low of 128,757 at the end of the third quarter. Nevertheless, CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson maintained a Hold rating on GM, saying “we remain skeptical that GM’s new EV offerings will be as successful from a sales perspective as those of competitors such as Ford and Tesla, noting that most models will not be coming to market until 2023 or beyond.”

Buckle Up, We Could Be in for a Bumpy Ride

The early innings of 2022 could be a doozy, especially if you’re overweight a few sectors in particular.

“Given the rising threat of the omicron variant and its potential impact on economic conditions and consumer behavior, the first quarter of 2022 will likely feature the elevated volatility that we saw in the fourth quarter of 2021,” says David Keller, chief market strategist at StockCharts.com.

“The deepest pullback in the S&P 500 [in 2021] was only about 6%, while most years will experience at least one drawdown of over 10%. Higher volatility also suggests a higher probability of deeper corrective phases, so 2022 may return back to the normal routine of at least one steeper drawdown of over 10%. … I would not be surprised if that deeper pullback occurs in the first quarter.”

Two sectors stand out as particularly vulnerable given both their sensitivity to interest-rate moves of late and their sky-high valuations: technology firms and consumer discretionary companies, which are the priciest pockets of the markets based on expected earnings for the year to come.

The latter is number one with a bullet, at a multiple of 31.1 versus 21.1 for the S&P 500. Such high prices can act as a natural handicap against returns, especially in a volatile market, so individual-stock investors will have to be particularly discriminating when evaluating opportunities for the year ahead.

As we near the end of our sector-by-sector look-ahead, check out our latest: the top consumer discretionary picks for 2022.

Source: kiplinger.com

The Fair Housing Act: Anti-Discrimination Laws for Renters and Buyers

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In June 2020, Florida homeowners Abena and Alex Horton decided to take advantage of low interest rates due to the pandemic and refinance their mortgage. So their lender sent a professional appraiser to their home in a predominantly white area of Jacksonville.

Homes in the Hortons’ well-to-do neighborhood typically sell for $350,000 to $550,000. They expected theirs to appraise for about $450,000, a comfortable midpoint. But that’s not what happened. And it all came down to race.

Why We Need Fair Housing Laws 

In the Hortons’ case, the appraiser pegged the value at just $330,000, well under the going market price for comparable homes nearby.

To its credit, the lender agreed the appraisal was too low and ordered another. It came in at $465,000, in line with the homeowners’ expectations.

The Hortons didn’t undertake any last-minute home improvement projects or even take steps to improve the home’s curb appeal in the interim. They made only one change: removing any evidence that a Black person lived in the house. 

Before the appraiser arrived, Abena Horton, who’s Black, took her son shopping. She replaced mantel photos of herself and her son with images of Alex Horton, who’s white, and his white family members. She removed holiday cards from Black families. She even took books by prominent Black authors like Toni Morrison off the shelves.

The ordeal was humiliating but not surprising.

“I [knew] what the issue was,” Abena Horton told The New York Times. “And I knew what we needed to do to fix it, because in the Black community, it’s just common knowledge that you take your pictures down when you’re selling the house. But I didn’t think I had to worry about that with an appraisal.”

The Hortons’ low appraisal was neither a fluke nor the work of a rogue, racist appraiser. The family’s experience plays out in countless households of color across America more than a half-century after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act. 

That law’s goal was to protect minority homeowners from discrimination. It was a vital component of a larger package of legislation — the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — meant to build upon the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The Fair Housing Act explicitly prohibits certain types of discrimination in the sale and rental of housing and mortgage lending against members of certain protected classes.

Subsequent legislation and court decisions have strengthened and expanded the act in meaningful ways.

Unfortunately, the Hortons’ experience shows that the Fair Housing Act did not usher in a world free from housing discrimination. 

Indeed, the National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2019 Fair Housing Trends Report recorded more than 31,000 housing discrimination complaints in 2018, an 8% increase from 2017 and the highest figure since the National Fair Housing Alliance began tracking housing complaints in 1995.

About three-quarters of these complaints were filed with nonprofit housing organizations compared with just under 6% filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Many involve more egregious infractions than the Hortons’ lowball appraisal.

Some would-be homeowners or tenants dealt with outright denial of rental housing. Others experienced discriminatory mortgage lending practices that increased foreclosure risk and cost affected borrowers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.

It’s true that not all Americans experience housing discrimination. But all Americans participate in the country’s housing market, even the housing-insecure. And any unequal treatment distorts that market, no matter how localized. That makes discrimination a collective problem, even when it doesn’t directly affect us as individuals.


Key Fair Housing Act Protections for Renters & Buyers

The Fair Housing Act protects most homebuyers, mortgage applicants, and renters from discrimination based membership in a protected class, including race and sex. The act prevents property owners, sellers, selling agents, and housing lenders from taking specific actions defined as discriminatory against members of its protected classes.

Certain identities not explicitly mentioned in the act, notably gender identity and sexual orientation, can be covered by explicit protections of the act, such as sex and disability status (which covers chronic health conditions like AIDS and the virus that causes it). Coverage for these identities is subject to judicial interpretation per the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County.

Likewise, many states have enacted laws that expand and complement provisions of the federal law. However, the Fair Housing Act does have important exemptions that limit its applicability in certain situations, such as owner-occupied or unmarketed small-scale rental housing.


Protected Classes Defined by the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act’s protections extend to members of the protected classes or identities outlined in the law. These protections cover both explicit and indirect or implicit discrimination.

Race or Color

This protection applies to official Census-recognized racial categories: 

  • White American
  • Asian American
  • Black or African American
  • Native American and Alaska Native
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race
  • People of two or more races 

It also applies to informal racial or ethnic categories and perceived categories, such as assumptions based on a person’s dialect or accent. An offender need not definitively know the race of a buyer or renter to discriminate against them based on it.

Religion

The Fair Housing Act requires equal treatment of members of all religious groups, including nonbelievers. For example, in most cases, an apartment community or municipality can’t advertise itself using religious labels like “Christian” or “Jewish.”

National Origin

The Fair Housing Act prohibits activities that favor or disfavor buyers, renters, or borrowers based on national origin. For example, while it’s not illegal under federal law for property owners and other housing providers to ask applicants for proof of United States citizenship or legal residency, it is unlawful to do so only for certain applicants.

Familial Status

This protection prohibits discrimination based on family organization, marital status, and age in most cases. For example, a property owner who prefers not to rent to college students can’t simply deny housing to all applicants under age 23. 

Though the Fair Housing Act does not explicitly protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination, the familial status class does include same-sex couples.

Sex

Any unequal treatment based on sex is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act. That includes restrictive policies enacted in the name of safety, such as refusing to rent first-floor walkout apartments to single women. It also covers any form of sexual harassment or coercion during the rental or sale process.

Disability

This protection covers individuals with significant documented disabilities, whether physical or cognitive. That includes those with chronic addiction disorders, such as alcoholism or substance abuse disorder, provided they’re engaged in treatment or recovery programs. 

Those engaged in the sale or rental of housing can’t ask about perceived disabilities or deny housing to those with disabilities. That’s true even when the offender’s intentions are pure, such as preemptively asking a person in a wheelchair if they require a first-floor apartment. 

Also, in rental housing, disabled tenants must be permitted to make reasonable improvements at their expense, and public areas and entryways must be accessible.


Explicit Prohibitions of the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act explicitly prohibits dozens of specific actions taken against members of any protected class by property owners, sellers, real estate agents and brokers, mortgage lenders, leasing agents, public officials, civil service, and insurance professionals. 

Some of these prohibitions pertain specifically to the sale or rental of housing, while others apply in the narrower mortgage lending context.

Actions Prohibited in the Sale or Rental of Housing

These actions include egregious violations, such as posting a sign restricting applications to a particular race, gender, or sexual orientation. But they also include more subtle offenses, such as steering nonwhite buyers away from predominantly white neighborhoods.

Some actions, such as eviction, may be legal when the intent or result is not discriminatory. For example, if local regulations allow, a property owner is within their rights to evict a tenant who’s seriously behind on rent as long as they treat all such tenants equally regardless of protected status.

Prohibited actions are:

  • Outright refusal to rent or sell housing
  • Refusing to negotiate the sale or rental of housing
  • Refusing to confirm housing is available for sale or rent
  • Discouraging the sale or rental of housing
  • Segregating housing (for example, grouping tenants of the same ethnic or racial group on a specific floor or building or in a specific neighborhood)
  • Extending favorable terms or unique incentives (for instance, charging opposite-sex couples lower rent than same-sex couples)
  • Making mention of any prohibited preference (for example, “families preferred”) in housing advertisements
  • Using different applications, screening or qualification criteria, or qualification processes (such as running credit checks for nonwhite applicants only)
  • Harassing applicants, tenants, or occupants or conditioning approval of a housing application on the applicant’s response to harassment
  • Evicting tenants or guests
  • Delaying or declining to make necessary repairs or maintenance
  • Offering property insurance on unequal terms (for example, asking higher premiums from members of certain protected classes, though underwriters may use indirect methods like credit scoring to account for higher perceived risk from certain occupants)
  • Profiting or attempting to profit by persuading homeowners to sell because members of a particular protected class are moving nearby
  • Denying real estate agents or brokers access to local agent organizations or multiple listing services

Actions Prohibited in Mortgage Lending

These actions also include a mix of egregious and subtle violations. However, all involve lenders’ or loan servicing companies’ refusal to treat mortgage applicants or borrowers equally based on their identities.

  • Refusing to provide information about loan opportunities
  • Refusing to originate mortgage loans to otherwise qualified applicants
  • Refusing to provide other financial assistance to otherwise qualified applicants
  • Offering unequal terms or conditions — such as higher rates, fees, or points — on mortgage loans
  • Discriminating during the appraisal process
  • A secondary lender or loan servicing company refusing to purchase a home loan
  • Conditioning issuance of a loan on the applicant’s response to harassment or coercion

HUD’s fair lending guide details mortgage applicants’ fair housing rights and mortgage lenders’ obligations under the law.

These actions are prohibited in all housing-related contexts:

  • Threatening, intimidating, or otherwise interfering with anyone attempting to exercise their rights under the Fair Housing Act or assist others in doing so
  • Retaliating against anyone who has filed a fair housing complaint or assisted with a fair housing investigation

State & Federal Housing Protections for LGBTQ Individuals

The Fair Housing Act does not explicitly forbid housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexuality, or gender identity. However, HUD requires lenders insured by the Federal Housing Administration (a HUD agency) to observe its Equal Access Rule. That rule prohibits certain acts of lending discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Additionally, the Fair Housing Act effectively forbids discrimination against LGBTQ individuals or families in circumstances covered by other class protections. And many state laws explicitly prohibit housing discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

Common Examples of Anti-LQBTQ Housing Discrimination Covered by the Fair Housing Act

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation-funded TexasLawHelp.org highlights common examples of circumstances in which explicit Fair Housing Act protections extend to LGBTQ individuals:

  • Sex Discrimination. A rental housing operator asks a transgender woman not to dress in women’s clothing in her building’s common areas; a property manager refuses to rent to a gender-nonconforming applicant.
  • Disability Discrimination. A property owner evicts a gay man whose HIV or AIDS status qualifies as a disability under the Fair Housing Act.
  • Equal Access Rule. A mortgage lender denies a loan to two same-gender co-applicants presumed to be a couple.

State Laws Protecting LGBTQ Individuals From Housing Discrimination

HUD maintains a list of states with laws prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or both. Jurisdictions that forbid housing discrimination on both grounds include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Washington state

New Hampshire and Wisconsin prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity or expression.


Noteworthy Fair Housing Act Exemptions

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing types and the vast majority of housing units available for sale or rent in the U.S. However, it does have important exemptions and carve-outs for certain housing types:

  • Small-Scale Rental Housing. Owner-occupied rental properties with four or fewer units (such as duplexes and quadplexes) and single-family rental housing that is not marketed or rented with help from a real estate broker. In the latter case, the exemption does not apply when the property’s owner owns more than three qualifying properties.
  • Housing Operated by Exempt Organizations. This category includes housing operated by legally recognized religious organizations or private clubs that limit eligibility to their own members.
  • Senior Housing. Multifamily communities that meet one of two criteria may legally deny housing to younger applicants: a) every resident is 62 or older or b) at least 80% of occupied units have at least one resident age 55 or older.

Why the Fair Housing Act Matters Today

It’s clear from the massive (and growing) volume of fair housing complaints tabulated by the National Fair Housing Alliance that the Fair Housing Act remains necessary and relevant to modern renters and homebuyers. And many acts of housing discrimination go unreported.

Though egregious examples of overt housing discrimination still occur, modern examples tend to be subtle, even covert. Modern housing discrimination often occurs without victims’ knowledge and sometimes without agency or intent on the perpetrator’s part. 

The Hortons’ first appraiser might not have acted on conscious animosity toward people of color or an explicit directive from their employer. They might well have acted on unconscious bias — an internalized, unquestioned notion that Black-owned homes are less desirable than white-owned homes.

Even if you believe you’ve never experienced housing discrimination and aren’t at risk from it in the future, you need to understand what housing discrimination looks like in practice. You also need to know how to recognize the financial, economic, and social consequences it can wreak. 

These consequences can and do affect all Americans’ personal finances and overall well-being. The effects can be direct financial issues for victims of discrimination or indirect harm to local economies and a fraying social fabric. 

For example, the subprime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s was fueled partly by discriminatory lending practices that resulted in higher default rates by borrowers of color. It resulted in millions of job losses, including those of many Americans who didn’t apply for a mortgage before or during the crisis.


Real-World Examples of Housing Discrimination

Theoretical examples from HUD and nonprofit fair housing organizations like the National Fair Housing Alliance provide a basis for public understanding of the various forms of housing discrimination.

Sadly, these theoretical examples have far too many real-world analogs. Many happened (or continued) during the 2010s. Another was a widespread historic ill that profoundly influenced America’s urban geography.

Disability-Based Discrimination in Dozens of Multifamily Housing Communities

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a civil settlement with multistate apartment community operator Miller-Valentine Operations Inc. and Affiliates. According to the DOJ, the company stood accused of violating disability protections enshrined in the Fair Housing Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the DOJ required the operator to “take extensive corrective actions” to improve accessibility at more than 80 properties in more than a dozen states and establish a $400,000 fund to compensate disabled individuals affected by its violations.

Illegal Lending in Sacramento & Philadelphia

Banking giant Wells Fargo has been accused of discriminatory lending practices by federal, state, and local authorities since at least the 2000s. 

The bank agreed to pay more than $230 million in 2012 to settle a DOJ civil action alleging a “pattern and practice” of lending discrimination against Black and Latino borrowers from 2004 to 2009. 

In 2017, the city of Philadelphia sued Wells Fargo over similar claims. The bank settled for $10 million in 2019, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A similar lawsuit filed by the city of Sacramento, California, in 2018 (per CNN) remains pending.

Racially Discriminatory Housing Ordinance & Enforcement

In 2019, the DOJ sued the city of Hesperia, California, and the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department alleging that a city ordinance and its enforcement constituted discrimination against Black and Latino renters, according to U.S. News. 

A HUD investigation found that enforcement of the ordinance resulted in more than 140 evictions over alleged criminal conduct in 2016. In some cases, entire families were evicted over allegations leveled at a single tenant or guest. 

Enforcement disproportionately targeted minority neighborhoods, with Black tenants four times more likely to face eviction than white tenants.

Refusal to Rent to a Same-Sex Couple

In 2017, a federal court ruled that the denial of rental housing to a same-sex Boulder, Colorado, couple constituted prohibited discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and applicable state law. According to Lambda Legal, the property owner refused to rent to the couple over concerns that doing so would harm her standing in the community.

Racially Restrictive Covenants

Restrictive covenants are clauses in housing deeds that restrict future homeowners’ activities and are not in and of themselves illegal. 

However, one particular type of restrictive covenant has long been rendered unenforceable by state and federal law: racially restrictive covenants that forbade homeowners from selling to buyers of certain races or nationalities — often simply anyone who was not white. 

Racially restrictive covenants were common in the first half of the 20th century in cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, and the Kansas City metropolitan area. Where widespread, they contributed to profound housing segregation. They were often used in conjunction with redlining, a common lending practice that diverted nonwhite borrowers into specific neighborhoods. 

These practices helped create majority-minority neighborhoods that subsequently experienced ills including disinvestment, neglect, and civil unrest.


Potential Consequences of Housing Discrimination

Real-world housing discrimination has real-world consequences for homeowners, renters, and their communities. 

Some are direct, such as harmful effects on victims’ long-term wealth-building capacity. Others, while indirect, can be more devastating at scale. Generations on, many cities continue to grapple with the far-reaching consequences of early- to mid-20th century redlining and restrictive covenants.

But all are incredibly harmful, both to the individuals who experience them and others. 

Greater Exposure to Environmental Health Risks

High-profile calamities like the lead drinking-water crises in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, underscore the disproportionate environmental health risks low-income communities face. These risks are particularly prevalent in low-income communities of color, like Flint and Newark. 

That isn’t merely a media narrative. A 2018 Environmental Protection Agency study found that people of color are more likely to live near sources of air pollution and breathe polluted air, often due to historical settlement patterns influenced by redlining and restrictive covenants. 

And a 2016 study published in the journal Environment International found that long-term exposure to particulate matter correlates directly with housing segregation. That is, residents of highly segregated areas inhale more particulate matter than those in less segregated areas.

Lead Exposure in Older Housing Stock

Affordable housing tends to be older. Subsidized housing available through programs like the Section 8 voucher scheme does as well. 

Unfortunately, many older homes still contain lead paint or water service lines. Lead exposure can cause a host of serious health and developmental problems in both children and adults. (Lead water service lines are typically benign but can cause problems when drinking water is not properly treated, as occurred in Flint). 

Inadequate Nutrition

The market opportunity is greater in moderate- to high-income areas. As such, full-service grocery stores with well-stocked produce sections tend to favor these places over low-income neighborhoods. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food access atlas shows regions that qualify as “food deserts” with limited nutritional resources. These places often occur in low-income urban neighborhoods and small rural towns served primarily by corner stores and dollar stores with little if any fresh produce.

Higher Incidences of Gun Violence & Other Serious Crime

According to a 2019 study published in PLOS Medicine, gun violence incidence closely correlates with higher rates of poverty and income inequality, low rates of social mobility, and low levels of trust in public institutions.

The legacy of residential segregation exacerbates these ills. For example, a 2018 mapping project by The Trace found that two low-income neighborhoods in highly segregated Cincinnati accounted for a disproportionate share of that city’s shootings.

Unequal Access to Quality Schools

NPR reports that a 2016 study by EdBuild found a $23 billion funding gap between predominantly white and predominantly nonwhite school districts. The gap is caused in part by two government-imposed phenomena. 

Districts rely heavily on local taxes, which generate more revenue in wealthier, predominantly white districts. Then there’s the principle of “local control,” which limits the equitable distribution of state education funds to poorer districts. 

This gap contributes to unequal educational outcomes, reinforcing the very racial wealth disparities responsible for it.

Impact of Discriminatory Lending on the Broader Economy

A 2010 study published in the American Sociological Review cited a “highly racialized process” of “differentially market[ing] risky subprime loans” to borrowers of color as a cause of the late-2000s subprime mortgage crisis that precipitated the Great Recession. 

It’s a stark example of the potential for discriminatory lending to impact the broader economy negatively. 

On a more granular level, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council data cited by the Center for American Progress found that home prices in predominantly Black neighborhoods decreased by 6% between 2006 and 2017. During the same period, home prices in majority-white neighborhoods increased by 3%. 

This divergence disadvantages all homeowners in affected neighborhoods, not just members of the area’s ethnic or racial minority.

Increasing Racial & Cultural Tension

In a 2019 Pew study conducted before widespread protests over police violence in 2020, 58% of all Americans and 71% of Black Americans said race relations were bad in the U.S. 

Meanwhile, 65% of all Americans said it had “become more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views” since Donald Trump was elected president. And 45% said it had “become more acceptable” to do so. 

While it might give comfort to characterize this as an aberration attributable solely to a particular political leader or party, that’s not the entire story. These alarming figures spotlight a fraying of the American social fabric caused in part by decades of residential segregation.

Despite incremental integration since 2000, a Washington Post visualization shows that most Americans continue to live in “majority” neighborhoods where one racial or ethnic group predominates. For example, a 2017 Harvard University study found that roughly 69% of the U.S. population lived in majority-white neighborhoods between 2011 and 2015.

Political Polarization & Increased Mistrust of Institutions

Residential segregation also exacerbates political polarization and public mistrust of institutions. 

Writing for Bloomberg CityLab shortly before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, urban studies professor Richard Florida noted that geography was increasingly predictive of political affiliation. 

Democratic voters cluster in cities and inner suburbs, while Republican voters favor lower-density geographies. This self-sorting creates bubbles of relative ideological homogeneity. That often manifests in antagonistic relations between local and state leaders, which came to a head during the COVID-19 pandemic in states including Texas and Wisconsin. 

It also leads to dysfunction in state and federal governments and coarsening public discourse. A 2016 study by researchers at the University of Mississippi and Stony Brook University, SUNY, found that the percentage of positive political ads declined from 90% during the 1960 U.S. presidential campaign to less than 15% during the 2012 presidential campaign.


Final Word

Selecting the “best” neighborhood is a fundamental part of finding new housing. Every prospective renter or homebuyer gives some thought to the characteristics of the communities they consider moving to and ranks them based on priorities like access to quality schools, open space, or urban amenities.

Few prospective renters and homebuyers think much about why certain communities have characteristics that make them desirable. They also never wonder why those same communities are often less accessible to those the Fair Housing Act exists to protect, from persons with disabilities to historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups. 

That’s understandable. The exercise is a discomfiting one, but it’s also necessary. 

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Take These 4 Steps to Lower Your Cost of Living — Without Moving

Ready to stop worrying about money?
It takes less than a minute and just 10 questions to see what loans you qualify for — you don’t even need to enter your Social Security number. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices? Unless you live in Ohio, North Carolina or New Hampshire — the cheapest states to get car insurance in 2021 — you’re probably paying too much. And that can make a big dent in your lower cost of living.
Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.
And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to 36%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

1. Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Privacy Policy
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of 9 a year.
What does your credit card have to do with your cost of living? Well, no matter where you live, credit card debt payments can be keeping you from saving more money and investing it somewhere smart.
So whether you live in Huntsville or The Hamptons, you can cut your cost of living anyway. Take these steps to slash your bills and give your budget a Mississippi makeover.

2. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has only lived in the most expensive states the last 10 years and has definitely paid for it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Target and are about to overpay?
You don’t need a perfect credit score to get a loan — and comparing your options won’t affect your score at all.  Plus, AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
But no matter where you live, you should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
Seriously — it has the lowest cost of living overall, taking into account grocery, housing and transportation expenses.
But packing up everything you own and moving somewhere just because it’s cheaper doesn’t actually make sense for most people. Jobs, family, friends and just plain old loving where you live means buying a piece of property outside Jackson isn’t always a viable option.

3. Find Out If You’re Overpaying

Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.
In the last year, this has saved people 0 million.
Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.
Dollar for dollar, your cash will probably go further in the Magnolia State than if you were to live in a major urban cluster like New York, California or Florida. And you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck than if you lived in Hawaii — the state with the highest cost of living.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
If you’re determined to have the lowest cost of living among every other human being in the United States, move to Mississippi. <!–

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The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 2.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

Take These 3 Steps to Lower Your Cost of Living — Without Moving

If you’re determined to have the lowest cost of living among every other human being in the United States, move to Mississippi.

Seriously — it has the lowest cost of living overall, taking into account grocery, housing and transportation expenses.

Dollar for dollar, your cash will probably go further in the Magnolia State than if you were to live in a major urban cluster like New York, California or Florida. And you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck than if you lived in Hawaii — the state with the highest cost of living.

But packing up everything you own and moving somewhere just because it’s cheaper doesn’t actually make sense for most people. Jobs, family, friends and just plain old loving where you live means buying a piece of property outside Jackson isn’t always a viable option.

So whether you live in Huntsville or The Hamptons, you can cut your cost of living anyway. Take these steps to slash your bills and give your budget a Mississippi makeover.

1. Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices? Unless you live in Ohio, North Carolina or New Hampshire — the cheapest states to get car insurance in 2021 — you’re probably paying too much. And that can make a big dent in your lower cost of living.

But no matter where you live, you should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

2. Stop Paying Your Credit Card Company

What does your credit card have to do with your cost of living? Well, no matter where you live, credit card debt payments can be keeping you from saving more money and investing it somewhere smart.

And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to 36%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 2.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

You don’t need a perfect credit score to get a loan — and comparing your options won’t affect your score at all.  Plus, AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes less than a minute and just 10 questions to see what loans you qualify for — you don’t even need to enter your Social Security number. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

3. Find Out If You’re Overpaying

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Target and are about to overpay?

That’s exactly what this free service does. And if you want to have a lower cost of living, you should be taking advantage of the lowest prices available on the internet.

Just add it to your browser for free, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites, including Walmart, eBay and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. Plus, you can get coupon codes, set up price-drop alerts and even see the item’s price history.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.

In the last year, this has saved people $160 million.

You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.

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

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She has only lived in the most expensive states the last 10 years and has definitely paid for it.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Commodities Trading Guide for Beginners

Investing in commodities — e.g. agricultural products, energy, and metals — can be profitable if you understand how the commodity markets work. Commodities trading is generally viewed as high risk, since the commodities markets can fluctuate dramatically owing to factors that are difficult to foresee (like weather) but influence supply and demand.

Nonetheless, commodity trading can be useful for diversification because commodities tend to have a low or even a negative correlation with asset classes like stocks and bonds.

Commodities fall firmly in the category of alternative investments, and thus they may be better suited to some investors than others. Getting familiar with commodity trading basics can help investors manage risk vs. reward.

What Is Commodities Trading?

Commodity trading simply means buying and selling a commodity on the open market. Commodities are raw materials that have a tangible economic value. For example, agricultural commodities include products like soybeans, wheat, and cotton. These, along with gold, silver, and other precious metals, are examples of physical commodities.

There are different ways commodity trading can work. Investing in commodities can involve trading futures, options trading, or investing in commodity-related stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, or index funds. Different investments offer different strategies, risks, and potential costs that investors need to weigh before deciding how to invest in commodities.

Unique Traits of the Commodities Market

The commodities market is unique in that market prices are driven largely by supply and demand, less by market forces or events in the news. When supply for a particular commodity such as soybeans is low — perhaps owing to a drought — and demand for it is high, that typically results in upward price movements.

And when there’s an oversupply of a commodity such as oil, for example, and low demand owing to a warmer winter in some areas, that might send oil prices down.

Likewise, global economic development and technological innovations can cause a sudden shift in the demand for certain commodities like steel or gas or even certain agricultural products like sugar.

Thus, investing in commodities can be riskier because they’re susceptible to volatility based on factors that can be hard to anticipate. For example, a change in weather patterns can impact crop yields, or sudden demand for a new consumer product can drive up the price of a certain metal required to make that product.

Even a relatively stable commodity such as gold can be affected by rising or falling interest rates, or changes in the value of the U.S. dollar.

In the case of any commodity, it’s important to remember that you’re often dealing with tangible, raw materials that typically don’t behave the way other investments or markets tend to.

Commodity vs Stock Trading

Take stocks vs. commodities. The main difference in stock trading vs commodity trading lies in what’s being traded. When trading stocks, you’re trading ownership shares in a particular company. If you’re trading commodities, you’re trading the physical goods that those companies may use.

There’s also a difference in where you trade commodities vs. stocks. Stocks are traded on a stock exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq. Commodities and commodities futures are traded on a commodities exchange, such as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYME) or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

That said, and we’ll explore this more later in this guide, it’s possible to invest in commodities via certain stocks in companies that are active in those industries.

Types of Commodities

Commodities are grouped together as an asset class but there are different types of commodities you may choose to invest in. There are two main categories of commodities: Hard commodities and soft commodities. Hard commodities are typically extracted from natural resources while soft commodities are grown or produced.

Agricultural Commodities

Agricultural commodities are soft commodities that are produced by farmers. Examples of agricultural commodities include rice, wheat, barley, oats, oranges, coffee beans, cotton, sugar, and cocoa. Lumber can also be included in the agricultural commodities category.

Needless to say, this sector is heavily dependent on seasonal changes, weather patterns, and climate conditions. Other factors may also come into play, like a virus that impacts cattle or pork. Population growth or decline in a certain area can likewise influence investment opportunities, if demand for certain products rises or falls.

Livestock and Meat Commodities

Livestock and meat are given their own category in the commodity market. Examples of livestock and meat commodities include pork bellies, live cattle, poultry, live hogs, and feeder cattle. These are also considered soft commodities.

You may not think that seasonal factors or weather patterns could affect this market, but livestock and the steady production of meat requires the steady consumption of feed, typically based on corn or grain. Thus, this is another sector that can be vulnerable in unexpected ways.

Energy Commodities

Energy commodities are hard commodities. Examples of energy commodities include crude oil, natural gas, heating oil or propane, and products manufactured from petroleum, such as gasoline.

Here, investors need to be aware of certain economic and political factors that could influence oil and gas production, like a change in policy from OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). New technology that supports alternative or green energy sources can also have a big impact on commodity prices in the energy sector.

Precious Metals and Industrial Metals

Metals commodities are also hard commodities. Types of metal commodities include precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum. Industrial metals such as steel, copper, zinc, iron, and lead would also fit into this category.

Investors should be aware of factors like inflation, which might push people to buy precious metals as a hedge.

How to Invest in Commodities

If you’re interested in how to trade commodities, there are different ways to go about it. It’s important to understand the risk involved, as well as your objectives. You can use that as a guideline for determining how much of your portfolio to dedicate to commodity trading, and which of the following strategies to consider.

Recommended: What Is Asset Allocation?

Trading Stocks in Commodities

If you’re already familiar with stock trading, purchasing shares of companies that have a commodities connection could be the simplest way to start investing.

For example, if you’re interested in gaining exposure to agricultural commodities or livestock and meat commodities, you may buy shares in companies that belong to the biotech, pesticide, or meat production industries.

Or, you might consider purchasing oil stocks or mining stocks if you’re more interested in the energy stocks and precious or industrial metals commodities markets.

Trading commodities stocks is the same as trading shares of any other stock. The difference is that you’re specifically targeting companies that are related to the commodities markets in some way. This requires understanding both the potential of the company, as well as the potential impact of fluctuations in the underlying commodity.

You can trade commodities stocks on margin for even more purchasing power. This means borrowing money from your brokerage to trade, which you must repay. This could result in bigger profits, though a drop in stock prices could trigger a margin call.

Futures Trading in Commodities

A futures contract represents an agreement to buy or sell a certain commodity at a specific price at a future date. The producers of raw materials make commodities futures contracts available for trade to investors.

So, for example, an orange grower might sell a futures contract agreeing to sell a certain amount of their crop for a set price. A company that sells orange juice could then buy that contract to purchase those oranges for production at that price.

This type of futures trading involves the exchange of physical commodities or raw materials. For the everyday investor, futures trading in commodities typically doesn’t mean you plan to take delivery of two tons of coffee beans or 4,000 bushels of corn. Instead, you buy a futures contract with the intention of selling it before it expires.

Futures trading in commodities is speculative, as investors are making educated guesses about which way a commodity’s price will move at some point in the future. Similar to trading commodities stocks, commodities futures can also be traded on margin. But again, this could mean taking more risk if the price of a commodity doesn’t move the way you expect it to.

Trading ETFs in Commodities

Commodity ETFs (or exchange-traded funds) can simplify commodities trading. When you purchase a commodity ETF you’re buying a basket of securities. These can target a picture type of commodities, such as metals or energy, or offer exposure to a broad cross-section of the commodities market.

A commodity ETF can offer simplified diversification though it’s important to understand what you own. For example, a commodities ETF that includes options or commodities futures contracts may carry a higher degree of risk compared to an ETF that includes commodities companies, such as oil and gas companies, or food producers.

Recommended: How to Trade ETFs

Investing in Mutual and Index Funds in Commodities

Mutual funds and index funds offer another entry point to commodities investing. Like ETFs, mutual funds and index funds can allow you to own a basket of commodities securities for easier diversification. But actively managed mutual funds offer investors access to very different strategies compared with index funds.

Actively managed funds follow an active management strategy, typically led by a portfolio manager who selects individual securities for the fund. So investing in a commodities mutual fund that’s focused on water or corn, for example, could give you exposure to different companies that build technologies or equipment related to water sustainability or corn production.

By contrast, index mutual funds are passive, and simply mirror the performance of a market index.

Even though these funds allow you to invest in a portfolio of different securities, remember that commodities mutual funds and index funds are still speculative, so it’s important to understand the risk profile of the fund’s underlying holdings.

Commodity Pools

A commodity pool is a private pool of money contributed by multiple investors for the purpose of speculating in futures trading, swaps, or options trading. A commodity pool operator (CPO) is the gatekeeper: The CPO is responsible for soliciting investors to join the pool and managing the money that’s invested.

Trading through a commodity pool could give you more purchasing power since multiple investors contribute funds. Investors share in both the profits and the losses, so your ability to make money this way can hinge on the skills and expertise of the CPO. For that reason, it’s important to do the appropriate due diligence. Most CPOs should be registered with the National Futures Association (NFA). You can check a CPO’s registration status and background using the NFA website.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Commodity Trading

Investing in commodities has its pros and cons like anything else, and they’re not necessarily right for every investor. If you’ve never traded commodities before it’s important to understand what’s good — and potentially not so good — about this market.

Advantages of Commodity Trading

Commodities can add diversification to a portfolio which can help with risk management. Since commodities have low correlation to the price movements of traditional asset classes like stocks and bonds they may be more insulated from the stock volatility that can affect those markets.

Supply and demand, not market conditions, drive commodities prices which can help make them resilient throughout a changing business cycle.

Trading commodities can also help investors hedge against rising inflation. Commodity prices and inflation move together. So if consumer prices are rising commodity prices follow suit. If you invest in commodities, that can help your returns keep pace with inflation so there’s less erosion of your purchasing power.

Disadvantages of Commodity Trading

The biggest downside associated with commodities trading is that it’s high risk. Changes in supply and demand can dramatically affect pricing in the commodity market which can directly impact your returns. That means commodities that only seem to go up and up in price can also come crashing back down in a relatively short time frame.

There is also a risk inherent to commodities trading, which is the possibility of ending up with a delivery of the physical commodity itself if you don’t close out the position. You could also be on the hook to sell the commodity.

Aside from that, commodities don’t offer any benefits in terms of dividend or interest payments. While you could generate dividend income with stocks or interest income from bonds, your ability to make money with commodities is based solely on buying them low and selling high.

The Takeaway

Commodities trading could be lucrative but it’s important to understand what kind of risk it entails. Commodities trading is a high-risk strategy so it may work better for investors who have a greater comfort with risk, versus those who are more conservative. Thinking through your risk tolerance, risk capacity, and timeline for investing can help you decide whether it makes sense to invest in commodities.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to invest in commodities, including futures and options (which are a bit more complex), as well as stocks, ETFs, mutual and index funds — securities that may be more familiar. To explore some ways you might invest in commodities, open an online brokerage account with SoFi Invest®. And remember: SoFi members have access to complimentary financial advice from a professional.

Photo credit: iStock/FlamingoImages


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected] Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing. Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.
SOIN1021480

Source: sofi.com