[Targeted] Discover: Earn 6% Cash Back On Grocery Store Purchases ($1,250 Spend)

Update: Some people have the same offer but for gas instead of grocery.

The Offer

No direct link to offer, sent out via e-mail. Unknown subject line

  • Discover is offering some cardholders 6% cash back on grocery store purchases, on up to $1,250 in purchases

The Fine Print

  • Valid until 12/31/21
  • Excludes purchases made at Walmart and Target

Our Verdict

Great deal if you can spend big on grocery stores. $1,250 limit is relatively generous as far as these offers go as well.

Hat tip to reader X W

Source: doctorofcredit.com

Biotech Stocks – What They Are and Why You Should Invest in Them

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

Over the past few decades, innovation in health care has been incredible. If you had said 20 or 30 years ago that HIV and hepatitis C soon wouldn’t be death sentences, no one would have believed you. The same goes for various types of cancers, epilepsy, and several other ailments. 

The driver in the development of new therapeutic options is the same driver behind evolutions in entertainment, shopping, and more: technology. Technological innovation is changing the way we live our lives, and nowhere is that fact more clear than in the field of medicine. 

In fact, technology has played such a major role in the innovation of new therapies that an entirely new market — known as the biotech market — has emerged. 

The emergence of the biotech industry led to extended lifespans and better quality of life for countless patients over the past few decades. It has also led to tremendous growth in revenue, profits, and investor interest in the stocks that represent the companies making novel medicines and treatments. Investment opportunities are being created in the space consistently, making the biotech sector one of significant interest for stock market participants. 

What Are Biotech Stocks?

Biotech stocks represent companies in the biotech sector. These are companies that are focused on the development of new medicines, vaccines, or medical devices through the use of innovative technologies and advanced medical science. 

These companies are working to bring an end to some of the world’s most devastating health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and several rare diseases that most people can’t even pronounce. 

These medical science efforts have been so successful that experts such as the Legacy Research Group suggest that we are entering an age of a biotechnology renaissance.

Biotech stocks include familiar pharmaceutical names like Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and Merck, along with a host of yet-unknown companies with products in early-stage development. 

Pro Tip: Are you looking for the next great investment but don’t have time to do the research yourself? The Motley Fool Stock Advisor, one of the most successful stock picking services, will send you two stock recommendations each month. Netflix, a past recommendation, is up more than 21,000%. Learn more about Motley Fool Stock Advisor.


Biotech Stock Pros and Cons

Investments in biotechnology companies can lead to massive gains and make you feel good. However, when things go wrong, they can go very wrong. As with any investment, these investments come with their fair share of pros and cons. 

Biotech Stock Pros

There are several benefits to making the right investments in the sector. Some of the most important of these benefits include:

1. Potential for Massive Profits

Investing in the biotechnology industry can prove to be overwhelmingly lucrative. Most clinical-stage stocks in this sector trade at prices under $5 per share. However, the successful launch of a new treatment option can send the stock soaring in many multiples. If there’s ever a sector that creates millionaires, biotechnology is it. 

2. The Feel-Good Effect

These days, investors make investments for more than profit. In fact, there’s a trend of socially responsible investing sweeping the globe. With socially responsible investing, you look for and invest in companies that are making positive change in the world. 

Some socially responsible investors look toward solar stocks for environmental change or financial-literacy stocks designed to remove the wealth divide. Others invest in the biotech sector, helping to fund the development of life-saving and life-changing treatment options. That’s something to feel good about. 

3. Better Understanding of Medicine

When investing in any stock in any sector, it’s important to do your research. When doing this due diligence in the biotech industry, you’ll learn quite a bit about the human body, medicine, and the various ailments medicines are being designed to treat and cure. 

There’s value in knowing why your ticker ticks and how to keep it ticking for the long run. Investing in biotech stocks could lead to lifestyle decisions that don’t only improve your financial health, but your medical health as well. 

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

Biotech Stock Cons

There are plenty of benefits to investing in biotech, but every darling has a blemish. There are some drawbacks to investing in this space as well. 

1. Clinical Failure

Any company can fail. In the biotechnology industry, failure can come much easier. A failed clinical trial means the loss of millions of dollars and years in research, generally leading to dramatic losses. 

2. Commercial Failures

Taking a new medical product to market takes quite a bit of work and capital. Even if that product seems as though it will be met with high consumer demand, failure can happen. These failures prove to be extremely costly when they occur, both for the biotech company and its investors. 

3. One-Hit Wonders

Once products are created and commercialized, biotech companies only have a limited amount of market exclusivity. After a period of several years, competitors will launch generics. If the company doesn’t have other products to fall back on, generic treatments could lead to dramatic declines in share values.

4. Poor Financial Foundations

There are an elite few companies in this sector that have created a blockbuster product, brought it to market, made billions, and continued to innovate, growing out a multibillion-dollar, stable company in medicine. The vast majority of biotech companies are in clinical stages and produce no revenue. With poor financial foundations, these companies are at the mercy of the investing community and lenders to stay afloat. 


Biotech Stock Stages

There are multiple stages of a biotechnology business. The stage of a company’s product development tells you a lot about the potential risk and reward associated with an investment in that particular company. 

1. Research-and-Discovery-Stage Biotech Stocks

Research-and-discovery-stage stocks are the most risky plays you can make in the sector. In fact, they are so risky that most of them trade on the over-the-counter (OTC) market because they do not meet key requirements set by major exchanges like the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange. 

These companies have a plan, but no product. They are currently researching to discover the basic foundations of what will become an experimental vaccine, therapy, or device. 

There are several major risks to consider when thinking about an investment in a research-and-discovery-stage company. Among the most important are:

  • Research That Doesn’t Produce Results. The best scientists in the world may look for ways to deliver an effective treatment. That doesn’t mean they’re going to find them. Ultimately, these companies are rooted in research, which doesn’t always yield a viable product. 
  • Capital Requirements. Research in the field of medicine is a highly capital-intensive process. Not only do companies have to pay high salaries, but they also have to pay high costs associated with equipment, regulatory matters, and more. Without a product, research-and-discovery companies don’t generate any revenue. So, this capital must come from debt, grants, or the investing community, neither of which is good for current investors. 
  • Fraudsters. While most research-and-discovery biotech companies are looking for ways to improve quality and length of life in patient populations, there are also plenty of companies out there designed for nothing more than creating a payday for the founders. These companies say they want to perform research, but need to raise capital to do so. That capital goes to paying executive salaries and perks, and the research never happens. This is a common scam in the biotech sector, and investors should be highly diligent in looking for it in these early-stage companies. 

2. Preclinical-Stage Biotech Stocks

Preclinical-stage biotech companies are a bit further along than research-and-discovery-stage companies. These companies have done the research that has led to the development of an experimental product. 

However, preclinical-stage companies are still quite young in terms of development. In the preclinical stage, companies are looking to prove their concept. For example, if a preclinical-stage company is developing a drug for lung cancer, it may treat mice that have lung cancer with the new drug, looking for signs of the treatment’s efficacy and safety. 

Although mice are quite different from humans, our bodies work in many of the same ways. Therefore, a treatment that works in mice has a better likelihood of working in humans than one that doesn’t. 

In order to move into human studies, these companies have to show regulatory authorities that there is a strong likelihood that a treatment will work and be safe to use in humans. The preclinical stage is centered around doing just that. 

At this point, there are still several risks to consider. The most important of these risks include:

  • Preclinical Failure. If a new treatment is given to a mouse, and the mouse dies as a result of the treatment, it will be difficult to bring that treatment to human studies. As such, if a company at this stage announces a preclinical failure, it could send the stock tumbling. 
  • Capital Requirements. As biotech companies move through the process of developing new therapies, costs only grow. Like research-and-discovery-stage companies, preclinical-stage biotech companies don’t have products on the market and are unable to generate revenue. As a result, they will need to look for funding elsewhere. While some of this funding may come from grants, the vast majority of preclinical companies are funded through transactions — such as public offerings of common stock — that ultimately dilute the long-term value of shares currently held by investors. 
  • Regulatory Hurdles. For a company to go from preclinical to the clinical stages, it will have to receive investigational new drug approval from regulatory authorities. This approval gives the company the ability to test a new drug in humans. All the preclinical data may look positive to the average investor, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may use a different measuring stick. If the company’s investigational new drug application is declined, its stock will fall. 

3. Early-Clinical-Stage Biotech Stocks

Early-clinical-stage biotech companies have a tangible product that is being developed. Moreover, this product has been given the green light by regulatory authorities for experimental testing in humans. 

There are three main phases of clinical studies in this experimental process. Companies in the midst of the first two phases are considered early-clinical-stage companies. 

Phase One Clinical Studies 

Phase One clinical studies are the earliest studies in which human subjects are used. These studies generally consist of small patient populations. In most cases, all volunteers involved in the Phase One clinical studies are healthy adults. The idea of Phase One studies is to slowly escalate the dose of a treatment to find the maximum tolerable dose in the human body.

While Phase One studies will show signs of the treatment’s effectiveness, the main focus of these studies is safety and tolerability. These trials usually aim to answer the following questions:

  • Are there side effects? 
  • Are the side effects tolerable? 
  • Is the new therapy or other medical product safe to use?
  • What dose is needed? 
  • Is there a glimmer of efficacy?

Phase Two Clinical Trials

Phase Two clinical trials are generally proof-of-concept trials. Knowing the maximum tolerable dose for healthy adults, early-clinical-stage companies will open a new trial, enrolling actual patients who are dealing with the ailment the new treatment or device aims to improve or eradicate. During these studies, companies aim to answer the following questions:

  • Is the medical product safe to use in a sick-patient population?
  • Does the experimental medical product produce positive results by reducing the symptoms or eradicating the illness in a small patient population?

Early-clinical-stage stocks come with similar risks to preclinical-stage stocks:

  • Clinical Failure. Although preclinical data must be solid to get to this point, there is no guarantee that results in mice and petri dishes will equate to results in humans. Although there’s a stronger chance of positive outcomes in clinical stages than there is in preclinical stages, there is still a chance of failure. Clinical failures mean the loss of millions of dollars and years of research and can lead to a substantial loss of value in the stock that represents the company in charge of the trial. 
  • Capital Requirements. Even at this stage, the companies don’t have products on the market and face the same capital challenges seen by research-and-discovery and preclinical companies. The difference here is that with a tangible product in development with FDA approval for experimental use in humans, the risk to lenders and institutional investors is lower, often leading to better fundraising opportunities. Nonetheless, these transactions can still cost investors in the long run. 

4. Late-Clinical-Stage Biotech Stocks

Late-clinical-stage biotech companies are at the final step before submitting the applications that allow them to bring new medical products to market. 

These companies are in the midst of Phase Three clinical development. In Phase Three clinical studies, late-clinical-stage companies enroll large populations of patients that have confirmed cases of the illness they are attempting to treat. In the enrollment process, the company will attempt to hit every corner of the patient population, ensuring a wide diversity in age, race, and (often) severity of the condition.

Late-stage biotech companies already have a good understanding of the safety and tolerability profile of their treatment and believe it to be effective. Now, it’s time to prove that it is safe, tolerable, and effective across the vast patient population that would use it once approved and marketed. 

If there is a current standard of care for the ailment being addressed — that is, the standard treatment you would expect with what’s currently available — late-stage companies will generally treat a percentage of the patient population with the experimental drug and another percentage with the standard of care. The goal of these head-to-head clinical studies is to prove that the experimental drug performs better than the current standard of care. 

As with all other stages of biotech stocks, late-stage stocks come with their own risks:

  • Clinical Failure. As you begin to invest in biotech, you’ll see that clinical failure, even in late stages, happens all too often. By this stage, companies have spent incredible amounts of money on research, preclinical testing, and early trials. The process has likely taken several years, if not a decade or more. A failure at this stage is extremely painful, and that’s seen in the stock’s price when it happens. 
  • Capital Requirements. Phase Three clinical trials are expensive. Also, to move out of the clinical stage and into commercial stages, there is a large cost involved in regulatory approvals. If capital hasn’t already been worked out at this point, companies may be forced to move forward with transactions that aren’t in the best interest of investors in order to raise the capital needed to go through the final stages of development and work toward commercialization. 

5. Commercial-Stage Biotech Stock

In the world of biotech, commercial stages are the big leagues. At this point, companies have been through the clinical development process and have either brought or are bringing a product to market. 

This is the point at which companies will need to market properly to bring their treatment to the masses. If all works out, revenue will start to pour in and shareholders will enjoy the fruits of their investments. However, even commercial-stage biotech stocks come with risk:

  • Commercial Failure. Even if a new drug seems like it provides far more benefits than other options, it can fail in the market. A great example of this is MannKind’s Afrezza. The inhaled mealtime insulin treatment frees diabetics from the needle. However, when it hit the market, sales were slow. While the product is still sold, it was nowhere near as successful as many expected it to be. As a result, MannKind stock has fallen from a value of more than $50 per share following the drug’s approval to under $5 per share today. 
  • Early Commercial Capital Requirements. At the point of commercialization, biotech companies have the ability to generate revenue through product sales. However, the marketing and distribution of these products can be extremely expensive. If there is not a commercialization partner involved, the producer of the new medical product will have to pay the costs. Early in the process, this can lead to capital issues that ultimately end in loss of value for investors. 
  • Exclusivity. Patents and exclusivity for a new medicine are only temporary. After the exclusivity period — often five to 12 years — generic options may hit the market at a much lower price than the brand-name drug. This can deeply cut into profits of companies with products that have been on the market for a while. 

How Much Should You Invest in Biotech Stocks?

No single asset or single class of assets should make up 100% of your investing portfolio. Diversification is an important tool to protect you from extreme losses. 

There is no one-size-fits-all allocation strategy. However, there are some factors to consider when determining your asset allocation. 

Never Forget Bonds

Although stocks are the darling of the investing community, you shouldn’t discount the value of bonds. Sure, bonds will generally grow at a slower rate than stocks, but they offer a level of protection that should not be ignored. 

If you don’t already have a bond allocation strategy and are not sure how much of your portfolio should be in bonds, simply use your age. For example, if you’re 32 years old, 32% of your investing dollars should be invested in bonds. This rule of thumb and its many variations provide a solid level of volatility protection that increases as you age. 

The 5% Rule 

Considering that most biotech companies are in clinical, preclinical, or discovery stages, investments in the industry can be highly speculative and therefore carry a high risk. If these are the types of biotech stocks you’re interested in, consider the less-than-five rule: less than 5% of your portfolio should be used in these high-risk investments. That way, if the high-risk investment fails, no more than 5% of your money is subject to the losses you will face. 

If you have other high-risk investments, consider how much of your 5% high-risk cap you want to allocate to biotech plays and what percentage you will allocate to other more speculative investments. 

Lower-Risk Biotech Stock Allocation

Of course, if you’re more interested in established stocks in the sector, such as Gilead Sciences, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AbbVie, and several others with massive market caps, the risks are far lower. The less-than-five rule wouldn’t play into your decision to invest in these more established companies. However, these stocks have already made their dramatic runs and don’t offer the same potential for profit that the higher-risk, late-clinical-stage or early-commercial-stage biotech stocks do. 

Nonetheless, they do make attractive investments for some investors. Big pharmaceutical companies, also known as big-pharma companies, are known for producing slow but steady gains over time while offering decent dividends. 

However, even under these terms, your exposure to a single stock should never be more than 5% of your investment dollars. Again, this is to protect you should a decision to buy one of these stocks result in a turn for the worst. 

Take the time to look into revenue growth, profit growth, continued innovation, dividends, and exclusivity periods for any company you’re considering to get a good idea of the quality of the investment you’re making. From there, decide if it’s worth risking 5% of your investment dollars. Continue to assess in this way until you’ve gone through all of the quality blue-chip biotech stocks you’re interested in. 


Consider Investing in Biotech Funds

Investing in stocks that represent biotech and biopharmaceutical companies can be rewarding. Not only will your investments potentially generate profits, they’ll help improve the lives of patients with debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, and various cancers under the oncology umbrella. 

However, individual stocks aren’t the only way to get involved. 

If you want to invest in the industry but don’t have the time, know-how, or desire to do the research it takes to pick and maintain a portfolio of the best stocks in the space, you may want to consider exchange-traded funds (ETFs). 

ETFs pool money from a large group of investors that’s used to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks based on the fund’s prospectus, and there are plenty of biotech ETFs out there to choose from. 

If you decide to go this route, make sure to look at the fund’s historic performance, expense ratio, and prospectus before you dive in. This will help to ensure that the funds you invest in have a high probability of producing competitive returns while keeping expenses to a minimum. 


Final Word

The biotech industry can be a great place to invest. It can also generate extreme losses if things go wrong. Considering this, there are a few rules to follow when investing in biotech stocks:

  • Never Overallocate. No matter how good an investment in biotech seems, unless you’re an investing pro, never spend more than 5% of your investing dollars on a single stock. Also, never spend more than 5% of your investing dollars across all high-risk investments. 
  • Never Stop Researching. An educated investment decision has far better potential to be a winner than a dumb-money investment. Research the biotech stocks you plan to invest in very deeply before making your initial investment. Once you’ve made your investment, keep a close eye on what the company is doing to ensure that your money is well-invested through the long term. 
  • Always Remember the Risks. The biotech industry can lead to huge profits, but stocks can also lose the vast majority of their value if things go wrong. Always consider the risks before making any investment. 

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Source: moneycrashers.com

What Is Escrow? How It Keeps Home Buyers and Sellers Safe

What is escrow? In real estate, an escrow account is a secure holding area where important items (e.g., the earnest money check and contracts) are kept safe by an escrow company until the deal is closed and the house officially changes hands. Escrow is also a contractual arrangement in which a third party—usually the escrow officer—maintains money and documents until the deal is done and escrow is closed.

How escrow works

The escrow agent is a third party—perhaps someone from the real estate closing company, an attorney, or a title company agent (customs vary by state), says Andy Prasky, a real estate professional with Re/Max Advantage Plus in Twin Cities.

The third party is there to make sure everything during the transaction proceeds smoothly, including the transfers of money and documents, and to hold assets safely in an escrow account until disbursement.

Escrow protects all of the relevant parties in a real estate transaction, including the seller, the home buyer, and the lender, by ensuring that no escrow funds from your lender and other property change hands until all of the conditions in the agreement have been met. Along the way, proper documentation is filed with the escrow agent or the escrow company as each step toward closing is completed.

Contingencies that might be part of the process could include home inspection, repairs, mortgage approval, and other tasks that need to be accomplished by the buyer or seller. And every time one of those steps is completed, the buyer or seller signs off with a contingency release form; then the transaction moves to the next step (and one step closer to closing).

Once all conditions are met and the transaction is finalized, the closing costs are paid and the money due to the sellers is disbursed from your lender. Meanwhile an escrow officer clears (or records) the title, which means the buyer officially owns the home.

How much does escrow cost?

That varies—as well as whether the buyer or the seller (or both) pays—with the fee for this real estate service typically totaling about 1% to 2% of the cost of the home.

The earnest money deposit

Earnest money—also known as an escrow deposit—is a dollar amount buyers put into an escrow account after a seller accepts their offer. The escrow company holds the money in an escrow account for the duration of the transaction.

Another way to think of it is as a “good-faith” deposit into an escrow account, which will compensate the seller if the buyer breaches the contract and fails to close.

Can you borrow earnest money from your lender?

Most home buyers come up with cash for escrow and deposit it into the escrow account from their own funds. The payment amount is small compared with the cost of the home and the loan, and the home buyers may not even have a mortgage lender yet when they make an offer on a home.

However, earnest money can be borrowed from your lender, but there are certain rules involved. First-time buyers are most likely to need to go to their mortgage lender to make this escrow account deposit. Your lender will ultimately count the deposit toward closing costs and the down payment on the house.

How escrow protects you during the real estate buying process

Escrow may seem like a pain, but here’s how it can work in your favor. Let’s say, for example, the buyer had a home inspection contingency and discovered that the roof needed repairs. The seller agrees to fix the roof. However, during the buyer’s final walk-through, she finds that the roof hasn’t been repaired as expected. In this case, the seller won’t see a dime of the buyer’s money until the roof is fixed. Talk about a nice safeguard!

Sellers benefit from escrow, too: Let’s say the buyers get cold feet at the last minute and bail on the transaction. This may be disappointing to the seller, but at the very least, buyers have typically ponied up a sizable chunk of change for their earnest money deposit. This money, often totaling 1% to 2% of the purchase price of a home, has been held in escrow. When buyers back out with no legitimate reason, they forfeit that money to the seller—a decent consolation for the sale’s failure and the expense of making mortgage payments and other expenses while the home was off the market.

Escrow, in other words, is the equivalent of bumpers on cars, keeping everyone safe as they move forward in a real estate transaction. Odds are, no one’s trying to swindle anyone. But isn’t it nice to know that if something does go wrong, escrow is there to cushion the blow?

What is an escrow account on a mortgage account?

When a homeowner makes monthly payments to the mortgage servicer, part of each payment goes toward the mortgage and part of it goes into an escrow account for payment of property taxes and insurance premiums such as homeowners insurance or mortgage insurance. When those bills are due, the escrow service uses the funds in the escrow account to make payment to your insurance company and to the county for property taxes.

If more money accumulates in your escrow account from monthly payments than is necessary to pay property taxes and insurance, the mortgage company sends you a refund check, and may lower your monthly mortgage payment. On the other hand, if insurance premiums and property tax expenses go up, your mortgage holder may send you a bill for the difference, or raise your monthly loan payments.

Source: realtor.com

10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees

Whether you plan to retire at the beach, near the mountains, or to some other dream destination, make sure you check out the local tax situation before packing your bags and hiring a moving van. If you don’t, you might be unpleasantly surprised by a hefty state and local tax bill in your new hometown.

State and local taxes can vary greatly from one place to another. The difference can easily exceed $10,000 or more per year for some people, which is enough to break the bank for a lot of retirees. So, to avoid this kind of bombshell, make sure you do some research before settling on a new location. You can start with Kiplinger’s State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees. This tool maps out the tax landscape for each state and the District of Columbia, and allows you to do a side-by-side comparison for up to five states at a time.

We also identified the 10 states that impose the highest taxes on retirees, which are listed below (we saved the worst state for last). Our results are based on the estimated state and local tax burden in each state for two hypothetical retired couples with a mixture of income from wages, Social Security, 401(k) plans, traditional and Roth IRAs, private pensions, interest, dividends, and capital gains. One couple had $50,000 in total income and a $250,000 home, while the other had $100,000 of income and a $350,000 home. Take a look to see if your state—or the state you’ve been dreaming about for retirement—made our “least tax-friendly” list for retirees (we hope it didn’t).

See the final slide for a complete description of our ranking methodology and sources of information.

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10. Texas

picture of Texas flag in coinspicture of Texas flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: None
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 8.19%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $1,692 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: None

You might be surprised to see the Lone Star State on the list of least tax-friendly states for retirees. Afterall, isn’t Texas one of the handful of states with no income tax? Well, yes, it’s true that there are no income taxes in Texas…which means no taxes on Social Security benefits, pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, or any other type of retirement income. But a lot of states don’t tax these types of retirement income anyway (or at least partially exempt them), so states without any income tax don’t necessarily have an advantage over other states when it comes to taxes on seniors.

Texas’ main problem is with its property taxes. The state’s median property tax rate is tied for the seventh-highest in the country (the tie is with New York). For our hypothetical retired couples, that means an estimated annual property tax bill of $4,230 for the couple with the $250,000 home and $5,922 for the couple with the $350,000 home. Seniors may be able to get a $10,000 property tax exemption, have their tax bill “frozen,” or delay payment of taxes.

Sales taxes are on the high end in Texas, too. The state imposes a 6.25% tax, but local governments can tack on up to 2% more. When combined, the average state and local sales tax rate in Texas is 8.19%, which is the 14th-highest combined rate in the country.

For more information, see the Texas State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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9. New York

picture of New York flag in coinspicture of New York flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: 4% (on taxable income up to $8,500 for single filers; up to $17,150 for joint filers) to 10.9% (on taxable income over $25 million)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 8.52%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $1,692 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: Estate tax

Unfortunately, the Empire State’s heavy tax burden for middle-class families carries over into retirement—especially when it comes to property taxes. Based on New York’s statewide median tax rate, our first hypothetical retired couple would pay about $4,230 each year in property taxes on their $250,000 home in New York. For our second couple, the annual estimated tax bill is $5,922 for their $350,000 home. Those figures are tied (with Texas) for the seventh-highest amounts in the country for those home values. There are some property tax breaks for seniors, though. Local governments and public-school districts can reduce the assessed value of their home by 50%. Under another program, part of a senior’s home value can be exempt from school property taxes.

New York has high sales taxes, too. There’s a 4% state tax, and localities can add as much as 4.875% in additional taxes on purchases in the state. At 8.52%, New York’s average combined (state and local) sales tax rate is the 10th-highest in the nation.

When it comes to income taxes, New York’s tax bite is less severe for ordinary retirees when compared to other states. Social Security benefits, federal and New York government pensions, and military retirement pay are exempt. However, anything over $20,000 from a private retirement plan (including pensions, IRAs and 401(k) plans) or an out-of-state government plan is taxed. Also, for ultra-wealthy retirees, New York income tax rates were always steep, but they’re even higher now — starting in 2021, the highest rate jumps from 8.82% to 10.9%.

New York also has an estate tax—with an unusual “cliff tax” kicker. Generally, the tax is only imposed on that portion of an estate over the $5.93 million (for 2021) exemption. However, if the value of the estate is more than 105% of the exemption amount, the exemption won’t be available and the entire estate will be subject to New York estate tax. Ouch!

For more information, see the New York State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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8. Iowa

picture of Iowa flag in coinspicture of Iowa flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: 0.33% (on taxable income up to $1,676) to 8.53% (on taxable income over $75,420) [For 2022, 0.33% on taxable income up to $1,743 and 8.53% on taxable income over $78,435.]
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 6.94%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $1,529 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: Inheritance tax

The Hawkeye State’s spot on our list of the least tax-friendly states for retirees is primarily based on high property taxes. The statewide median property tax rate in Iowa is the 11th-highest in the U.S. Our imaginary couple with a $250,000 home in the state would fork out about $3,823 per year in real property taxes. The couple with a $350,000 home can expect to pay about $5,352 annually. A property tax credit of up to $1,000 is available to lower-income seniors. (Beginning in 2022, special rules will allow residents who are at least 70 years old with an annual household income of not more than 250% of the federal poverty level to offset increases in property taxes.)

On the income tax front, Social Security benefits are tax-free. There’s also a $6,000 exclusion ($12,000 for joint filers) for most types of federally-taxed retirement income. However, when compared to some ot the tax breaks for retirement income available in other states, the Iowa exclusion doesn’t look all that generous. As a result, income taxes for retirees in the state can be a little on the high end, especially for wealthier residents. (Beginning in 2023, the lowest Iowa personal income tax rate will be 4.4%, while the highest rate will be 6.5%.)

Sales taxes in Iowa are middle-of-the-road. The state rate is 6%, and localities can add as much as 1%. The average combined state and local rate is 6.94%. That puts Iowa in the middle of the pack when it comes to overall sales tax rates.

The Iowa inheritance tax is another thing retirees need to worry about –  at least for the time being. Beginning in 2021, Iowa is phasing out it’s inheritance tax over a five-year period by reducing the rate of tax by 20% each year (the base rates range from 5% to 15%). Therefore, for 2021, Iowa’s inheritance tax ranges from 4% to 12%, depending on the amount of the inheritance and the relationship of the recipient to the decedent. The tax will be completely repealed on January 1, 2025.

For more information, see the Iowa State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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7. Wisconsin

picture of Wisconsin flag in coinspicture of Wisconsin flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: 3.54% (on taxable income up to $12,120 for single filers; up to $16,160 for joint filers) to 7.65% (on taxable income over $266,930 for single filers; over $355,910 for joint filers)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 5.43%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $1,684 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: None

The Badger State suffers from weak income tax breaks for retirement income and high property taxes. While Social Security benefits aren’t subject to Wisconsin’s income taxes, income from pensions and annuities, along with distributions from IRAs and 401(k) plans, are generally taxable. Seniors can subtract up to $5,000 of retirement income (including distributions from IRAs) from Wisconsin taxable income if their federal adjusted gross income is less than $15,000 ($30,000 for a married couple filing jointly). But that exclusion is comparatively small and is only available to retirees with a relatively low income.

Property taxes are the eighth-highest in the U.S. For our hypothetical couple with a $250,000 home in Wisconsin, estimated property taxes would be about $4,210 per year. The make-believe couple with a $350,000 home would have to cough up about $5,894 each year for taxes. Plus, there are limited property tax breaks for retirees. For instance, unlike younger taxpayers, residents age 62 or older don’t need earned income to claim an income tax credit for property taxes paid. Property tax deferral loans are also available for seniors with incomes under $20,000.

There are some bright spots for retirees, though. For example, sales taxes are actually low in Wisconsin. It has the ninth-lowest combined average state and local tax rate in the nation. There are no estate or inheritance taxes, either.

For more information, see the Wisconsin State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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6. Vermont

picture of Vermont flag in coinspicture of Vermont flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: 3.35% (on taxable income up to $40,350 for single filers; up to $67,450 for joint filers) to 8.75% (on taxable income over $204,000 for single filers; over $248,350 for joint filers)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 6.24%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $1,861 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: Estate tax

The Green Mountain State offers cold comfort on the tax front to retirees. It has a steep top income tax rate, and most retirement income is taxed. Vermont also taxes all or part of Social Security benefits for single residents with federal adjusted gross income over $45,000 (over $60,000 for married couples filing a joint return).

Vermonters also pay a lot in property taxes. If our first made-up couple owned a $250,000 home in Vermont, they’d pay about $4,653 in property taxes each year. Our second couple, with a $350,000 home, would pay around $6,514 annually. These property tax amounts are the fifth-highest in the U.S. for those home values. Homeowners age 65 and older may qualify for a tax credit worth up to $8,000 if their household income does not exceed a certain level.

Vermont also taxes estates that exceed $5 million in value (for 2021). The tax is imposed at a flat 16% rate.

Sales taxes aren’t too bad in Vermont, though. Local jurisdictions can add 1% to the state’s 6% sales tax, which results in an average combined state and local sales tax rate of 6.24%. That’s below the national average.

For more information, see the Vermont State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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5. Nebraska

picture of Nebraska flag in coinspicture of Nebraska flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: 2.46% (on taxable income up to $3,290 for single filers; up to $6,570 for joint filers) to 6.84% (on taxable income over $31,750 for single filers; over $63,500 for joint filers)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 6.94%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $1,614 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: Inheritance tax

Nebraska is one of the least tax-friendly state in the nation for retirees primarily because of steep income and property taxes. With regard to the state’s income tax system, the Cornhusker State taxes some Social Security benefits and most other retirement income, including IRA withdrawals, 401(k) funds, and public and private pensions. Plus, the top income tax rate kicks in pretty quickly: It applies to taxable income above $31,750 for single filers and $63,500 for married couples filing jointly. (Note that the state is reducing taxes on Social Security benefits starting in 2021 and eliminating taxes on military retirement pay beginning in 2022.)

Nebraska’s inheritance tax ranges from 1% to 18%. The tax on heirs who are immediate relatives is only 1% and does not apply to property that is worth less than $40,000. For remote relatives, the tax rate is 13% and the exemption amount is $15,000. For all other heirs, the tax is imposed at an 18% rate on property worth $10,000 or more.

The median property tax rate in Nebraska is pretty high. For a $250,000 home, the statewide average tax in the state is $4,035 per year. It’s $5,649 for a $350,000 residence. Those totals are the ninth-highest property tax amounts in country for homes at those price points. People over age 65 with income less than a certain amount may qualify for a homestead exemption that exempts all or a portion of their property’s value from taxation.

The state sales tax rate is 5.5%, but local jurisdictions can add an additional 2.5% to the state rate. The average combined state and local sales tax rate is 6.94%, which is in the middle of the pack when compared to other states.

For more information, see the Nebraska State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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4. Kansas

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  • State Income Tax Range: 3.1% (on taxable income from $2,501 to $15,000 for single filers; from $5,001 to $30,000 for joint filers) to 5.7% (on taxable income over $30,000 for single filers; over $60,000 for joint filers)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 8.7%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $1,369 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: None

While there’s no place like home, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Dorothy (and ToTo, too) fled Kansas when she retired to avoid the state’s high taxes. Looking at the state’s income tax system, distributions from private retirement plans (including IRAs and 401(k) plans) and out-of-state public pensions are fully taxed. Kansas also taxes Social Security benefits received by residents with a federal adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more. Military, federal government and in-state public pensions are exempt from state income taxes, though.

Shopping in Kansas can be expensive, too. The Sunflower State’s average combined state and local sales tax rate is the ninth-highest in the U.S. at 8.7%. Groceries, clothing, and even prescription drugs are subject to state and local sales taxes in Kansas, too.

Property taxes are above the national average as well. The statewide average property tax bill for our first hypothetical retired couple with a $250,000 home in Kansas comes to about $3,423. The bill for our second imaginary couple, with a $350,000 home, is estimated to be $4,792. Those amounts are the 15th-highest in the U.S. Homeowners who satisfy certain age and income requirements may qualify for a property tax refund, though.

The good news is that Kansas does not impose estate or inheritance taxes.

For more information, see the Kansas State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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3. Connecticut

picture of Connecticut flag in coinspicture of Connecticut flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: 3% (on taxable income up to $10,000 for single filers; up to $20,000 for joint filers) to 6.99% (on taxable income over $500,000 for single filers; over $1 million for joint filers)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 6.35%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $2,139 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: Estate tax

The Constitution State is a tax nightmare for many retirees…but at least things are improving on the income tax front. For residents with federal adjusted gross income over $75,000 ($100,000 for joint filers), 25% of Social Security benefits taxed at the federal level are taxed by Connecticut. (Social Security payments are exempt for taxpayers below those income levels.) Plus, for 2020, only 28% of income from a pension or annuity is exempt for taxpayers with less than $75,000 of federal AGI (less than $100,000 for joint filers). But the exemption percentage will increase by 14% each year until it reaches 100% for the 2025 tax year. Military pensions are also excluded from state taxes.

Connecticut has the third-highest property taxes in the U.S., so the $10,000 cap on the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes stings a bit more here. For our two make-believe retired couples, the statewide estimated property tax for a $250,000 home in Connecticut is $5,348 per year, and the estimated annual tax for a $350,000 home in the state is $7,487. The state des offers property tax credits to homeowners who are at least 65 years old and meet income restrictions. Income ceilings are $45,100 for married couples (with a maximum benefit of $1,250) and $37,000 for singles (with a maximum benefit of $1,000).

Connecticut imposes an estate tax on estates valued at $7.1 million or more (for 2021) at progressive rates ranging from 10.8% to 12%. Connecticut is also the only state with a gift tax, which applies to real and tangible personal property in Connecticut and intangible personal property anywhere for permanent residents. Only the amount given since 2005 and over $7.1 million is taxed. Gift tax rates start at 10.8% and go up to 12%.

There are no local sales taxes in Connecticut, so you’ll pay only the statewide sales tax rate of 6.35% on your purchases (slightly below average). Clothing, footwear and accessories priced at more than $1,000; jewelry worth more than $5,000; and most motor vehicles costing $50,000 or more are taxed at 7.75%.

For more information, see the Connecticut State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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2. Illinois

picture of Illinois flag in coinspicture of Illinois flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range:4.95% (flat rate)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 8.83%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $2,165 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: Estate tax

There’s a bit of good tax news for retirees in Illinois: Social Security benefits and income from most retirement plans are exempt. Plus, the state’s 4.95% flat income tax rate is relatively low.

Now for the bad news: Property taxes hit retirees hard in Illinois. The statewide median property tax rate in Illinois is the second-highest in the nation—a staggering $5,413 per year on a $250,000 home and a whopping $7,578 on a $350,000 home. Fortunately, there is some relief for qualifying seniors in the form of a homestead exemption of up to $5,000 ($8,000 in Cook County), the ability to “freeze” a home’s assessed value, and a tax deferral program.

Sales tax rates are high in Illinois, too. The state has the seventh-highest average combined state and local sales tax rate at 8.83%. In some locations, the rate can be as high as 11%! And groceries (1% state rate; additional local taxes may apply) and clothing are taxable.

Illinois also has an estate tax that applies to estates worth $4 million or more. That can be bad news for your heirs.

For more information, see the Illinois State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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1. New Jersey

picture of New Jersey flag in coinspicture of New Jersey flag in coins
  • State Income Tax Range: 1.4% (on taxable income up to $20,000) to 10.75% (on taxable income over $1 million)
  • Average Combined State and Local Sales Tax Rate: 6.6%
  • Median Property Tax Rate: $2,417 per $100,000 of assessed home value
  • Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax: Inheritance tax

Sorry, New Jersey, but you’re the least tax-friendly state in the country for retirees. And, once again, it’s the property taxes that are crushing retirees. The Garden State has the highest median property tax rate in the country. If our first make-believe couple bought a $250,000 home in the state, they would pay an eye-popping $6,043 in property taxes each year based on our estimates. Our second couple would pay a sky-high $8,460 on their $350,000 New Jersey home. The state does offer some property tax relief for seniors, though. Homeowners age 65 or older may qualify for a property tax credit of up to $1,000. There’s also a program (the “senior freeze”) that reimburses eligible seniors for property tax increases. And a $250 property tax deduction is available for senior citizens with an annual household income of $10,000 or less.

Income taxes are comparatively low for retirees in New Jersey, thanks in large part to a generous exemption for retirement income. For example, married seniors filing a joint return can exclude up to $100,000 of income from a pension, annuity, IRA, or other retirement plan if their New Jersey income is $100,000 or less. Single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing a separate return can exclude up to $75,000 and $50,000, respectively. We should also point out that Social Security benefits are not taxed in New Jersey, either.

Sales taxes are reasonable in New Jersey, too. The state sales tax rate is 6.625%, but because some areas charge only half the state rate on certain sales, New Jersey’s average state and local combined sales tax rate is only 6.6%, which is a little below average.

Although New Jersey recently eliminated its estate tax, the state still imposes an inheritance tax. The tax rates range from 11% to 16% on inherited property with a value of $500 or more. The amount of tax due is based on who specifically receives the property and how much the property is worth.

For more information, see the New Jersey State Tax Guide for Retirees.

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About Our Methodology

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Our tax maps and related tax content include data from a wide range of sources. To generate our rankings, we created a metric to compare the tax burden in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Data Sources:

Income tax – Our income tax information comes from each state’s tax agency. Income tax forms and instructions were also used. See more about how we calculated the income tax for our hypothetical retired couples below under “Ranking method.”

Property tax – The median property tax rate is based on the median property taxes paid and the median home value in each state for 2019 (the most recent year available). The data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sales tax – State sales tax rates are from each state’s tax agency. We also cite the Tax Foundation’s figure for average combined sales tax, which is a population-weighted average of state and local sales taxes. In states that let local governments add sales taxes, this gives an estimate of what most people in a given state actually pay, as those rates can vary widely.

Ranking Method:

The “tax-friendliness” of a state depends on the sum of income, sales and property tax paid by our two hypothetical retired couples.

To determine income taxes due, we prepared returns for both couples. The first couple had $15,000 of earned income (wages), $20,500 of Social Security benefits, $4,500 of 401(k) plan distributions, $4,000 of traditional IRA withdrawals, $3,000 of Roth IRA withdrawals, $200 of taxable interest, $1,000 of dividend income, and $1,800 of long-term capital gains for a total income of $50,000 for the year. They also had $10,000 of medical expenses, paid $2,500 in real estate taxes, paid $1,200 in mortgage interest, and donated $1,900 (cash and property) to charity.

The second couple had $37,500 of Social Security benefits, $26,100 of 401(k) plan distributions, $18,200 of private pension money, $4,000 of traditional IRA withdrawals, $2,000 of Roth IRA withdrawals, $2,000 of tax-exempt municipal bond interest (from the state of residence), $2,000 of taxable interest, $4,000 of dividend income, and $4,200 of long-term capital gains for a total income of $100,000 for the year. They also had $10,000 of medical expenses, paid $3,200 in real estate taxes, paid $1,500 in mortgage interest, and donated $4,300 (cash and property) to charity.

Since some states have local income taxes, we domiciled both our couples in each state’s capital, from Juneau to Cheyenne. We calculated their 2019 income tax returns using software from eFile.com.

How much they paid in sales taxes was calculated using the IRS’ Sales Tax Calculator, which is localized to zip code. To determine those, we used Zillow to determine zip codes with housing inventory close to our sample assessed value.

How much each hypothetical family paid (and deducted on their income tax return, if allowed) in property taxes was calculated by assuming a residence with a $250,000 assessed value for the first couple and a $350,000 assessed value for the second couple. We then applied each state’s median property tax rate to that appropriate amount.

Source: kiplinger.com

11 Factors that Make the Price of Bitcoin Go Up

In 2009, the Bitcoin network went live and the world changed forever. The first cryptocurrency started out with a value of $0, and it took years before bitcoins gained value in terms of any national fiat currency. But at the time of writing in late September 2021, the value of Bitcoin had risen to over $47,000, after beginning at $0 just twelve years earlier.

There are a number of factors that drive Bitcoin’s prices — including its soaring highs and lows. Here are 11 factors.

1. Supply and Demand

Part of what determines Bitcoin price is supply and demand. The Bitcoin protocol is designed to limit the supply of new coins. A new block of transactions is mined about every 10 minutes, and miners receive a set reward of new bitcoins for finding each block.

This reward amount is steadily reduced overtime and there are only 21 million bitcoins that can ever be mined. As of June 2021, about 18.74 million bitcoins had been mined, leaving 2.26 million bitcoins remaining. It’s estimated that the final bitcoin will be mined sometime around the year 2140.

On the other hand, the fiat currencies that prices are measured in have no supply cap and are always being created in ever-increasing amounts. This can result in more fiat currencies chasing fewer bitcoins, which can lead to higher Bitcoin prices.

2. Bitcoin Halving

Halving is part of the Bitcoin protocol that contributes to the supply and demand dynamics. Rather than new bitcoins being created at a steady or ever-increasing rate, the reward that miners receive for mining new blocks gets cut by 50% every 4 years or so.

In 2009, the block reward was 50 bitcoins. Over the next 11 years, the reward was “halved” three times, or reduced as follows:

•   2012: 25 bitcoins

•   2016: 12.5 bitcoins

•   2020: 6.25 bitcoins

In this way, Bitcoin remains a deflationary currency thanks to the process of Bitcoin mining. Fiat currencies, being inflationary, work in the opposite manner. Their supply increases each year with no limit on how many currency units can be created.

3. Monetary Policy

Because Bitcoin has a fixed supply limit, the price tends to correlate with the supply of new fiat currency being created. An increase in the money supply can be part of what drives up Bitcoin’s price. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule — and past performance doesn’t always indicate future results.

It is worth noting that throughout 2020 and early 2021, the money supply in the U.S. saw massive increases to the tune of trillions and trillions of new dollars being created. During this same period, the price of Bitcoin rose from under $4,000 in March 2020 to over $60,000 in April 2021. When it comes to questions of what affects the Bitcoin price, monetary policy is thought to be a key factor.

4. Regulatory Factors

Regulatory news can also affect Bitcoin price. Some people believe that national governments will one day create such strict crypto regulations around Bitcoin and companies that use it that the technology will not survive. Because of this fear, sometimes it only takes a simple statement from a regulatory agency to cause prices to tank.

At the same time, some regulation can also be seen as a positive sign. It signals that the technology is seeing increased adoption and becoming more and more accepted. So, when regulatory agencies respond favorably to Bitcoin or announce new regulations that seem benevolent, this can be part of what makes Bitcoin go up.

5. Memes and Social Media

While technical matters and serious issues can contribute to what drives the Bitcoin price, more light-hearted factors can also influence what makes Bitcoin go up or down. Memes circulating on social media can sway sentiment toward crypto markets and possibly impact prices.

This could create a feedback loop where positive meme sharing leads to a bump in prices, which leads to more memes, leading to prices rising more, and the cycle continues. Some of the most popular Bitcoin memes involve phrases like “going to the moon” and references to sports cars like Lamborghinis.

Recommended: How to Use Social Media for Investing Tips: The Smart Way

6. Mainstream Media

In addition to social media, the regular news cycle can also influence Bitcoin price. Almost every time Bitcoin suffers a price correction, numerous mainstream media outlets begin publishing negative news.

Some of these can be so pessimistic that they fall into the category of what’s become known as “Bitcoin obituaries,” where a media outlet proclaims that Bitcoin has died. Sometimes influential politicians, bankers, or bureaucrats make negative statements about Bitcoin too, leading to similar effects on price.

On the other hand, when overall media coverage is positive, this can make the price of Bitcoin go up. In 2020 and 2021, news about famous influential investors making bullish bets on Bitcoin and large corporations adding Bitcoin to their balance sheets were seen as significant factors with regard to what makes Bitcoin go up.

7. Miners

In Bitcoin mining, powerful computers process transactions for the network, keeping Bitcoin running in a decentralized way. Mining operations continue running, at least in part, with funding from the bitcoins that they mine.

But miners have to be very careful about what they do with their new bitcoins. If miners believe the price of Bitcoin will go up in the future, they are likely to hold their coins for some time. If miners believe prices will go down soon, they might sell their coins immediately.

Miners refusing to sell new coins can be part of what makes Bitcoin go up, as new supply never makes it to crypto exchanges where it could drive prices down.

Recommended: What are Bitcoin Mining Pools? Should You Join One?

8. Hash Rate

The Bitcoin hash rate is one of the most important metrics in Bitcoin. The hash rate indicates how hard miners are working to solve the mathematical problems needed to process transactions. The more miners that are contributing computing power, the higher the hash rate.

While there’s disagreement about whether or not hash rate is part of what affects the price of Bitcoin, there does appear to at least be some correlation. If nothing else, a higher hash rate makes the network more secure and signals confidence in the near-term.

Recommended: What is a Good Hash Rate?

9. Network Adoption

Bitcoin is the world’s first decentralized monetary network. The more people using the network, the more valuable it tends to become. (This same principle holds true for things like social media networks, too.)

When it comes to the Bitcoin network, one of the main metrics used to measure adoption is the number of new crypto wallets being created. New wallets indicate that more people are using Bitcoin, some of them presumably for the first time. Sometimes when a lot of new wallets are coming online, this can be a sign of confidence in the technology and be part of what makes Bitcoin go up.

10. Risk Appetite

General sentiment in financial markets can be part of what makes Bitcoin go up. When investors feel comfortable taking on more risk than usual, they could be more likely to put money into Bitcoin.

On the other hand, some Bitcoin proponents believe Bitcoin to be more of a safe haven asset (the opposite of a risk asset). Bitcoin has a limited supply.

11. Technical Analysis

Crypto technical analysis can influence the price action of almost any tradeable asset. TA involves patterns identified by computer-generated data and from human eyes identifying patterns on charts. When a certain pattern emerges, it’s thought that prices could be about to move upward or downward, depending on the type of technical setup.

The Takeaway

When it comes to what makes Bitcoin go up, there are at least a dozen potential factors. Many of them are related to market sentiment, the status of the Bitcoin network, and supply-and-demand dynamics.

For individuals who want to invest in Bitcoin, SoFi Invest® may be a good place to start. With SoFi, you can trade cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Solana, Enjin Coin, Cardano, Litecoin, and more.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/cokada


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.
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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.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
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Source: sofi.com

How to Sell a Car You Still Have a Loan On

When someone wants or needs to sell a vehicle, but they still owe money on it, the process can be different from selling one without a loan balance — in other words, with a vehicle that’s been paid off in full. This post will guide you through how to sell a car with a loan under a few different scenarios and then will offer tips on buying the next vehicle.

How to Sell a Car You Still Owe Money On

At a high level, selling a vehicle with a loan has three main steps:

1.    Gather important info.

2.    Determine if you have positive or negative equity.

3.    Pick a selling option.

We’ll explore each of these steps in more depth next.

Gather Important Info

First, get a sense of what the car is worth. This will depend upon its condition, so objectively look at your vehicle. How clean is it? How well has it been maintained? What does the body and interior look like? Examine other used cars like yours for sale and see how they’re priced.

Look at used car valuation guides, as well. They will have different values for trade-ins (when working with a dealership) than for private-party sales (when selling to an individual), and will also list retail values. Look at the one that will fit the situation.

Also, verify the payoff amount on the vehicle’s loan. This will include the principal balance plus any accrued interest and is often available online or can be obtained by calling the lender. During the conversation about selling a vehicle with a loan, you can also find out how to send the payoff amount to the lender and when the lender wants to receive it (before or after the sale of the car).

Recommended: 31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

Determine If You Have Positive or Negative Equity

The vehicle’s equity is the difference between the resale value and the amount owed on it, and this number can be positive or negative.

Let’s say that a vehicle is valued at $20,000 with a loan amount of $10,000; that car has a positive equity amount of $10,000. If, though, the vehicle is valued at $20,000 and the outstanding loan amount is $25,000, then it has negative equity of $5,000. Loans on cars with negative equity are referred to as “upside-down” or “underwater.”

So, when figuring out how to sell a car with a loan, the processes will differ based on whether the vehicle has positive or negative equity as well as the selling option you select.

Pick a Selling Option

If you have a car with an outstanding loan balance — and it isn’t practical or even possible to pay it off — then selling a car with a loan can typically be handled in one of three ways:

•   Selling it to a used car dealership.

•   Selling it privately to another person.

•   Trading it in.

Selling a Car to a Used Car Dealership

If a car dealership will buy used cars without requiring that you buy one from them during the transaction, then the process will probably be pretty straightforward. The dealer will offer you a certain dollar amount and, if you agree, they will pay off the lender in exchange for getting the vehicle’s title.

If there is positive equity on the vehicle, then you’ll get the money that remains after the loan balance is paid off. If it’s a negative equity situation, then you’d need to pay the difference between what the used car dealer is willing to pay and what it takes to pay off the loan.

For example, If a dealer offers $15,000 on a vehicle that has a $10,000 loan, then the dealer would take care of the loan payoff and provide the person selling the car the remaining money (minus any fees involved). In a negative equity situation, for example, if the vehicle’s value is $10,000 and the outstanding loan is $13,000, then the seller would need to chip in the difference (in this case, $3,000 plus any fees) to complete the sale and transfer the title to the buyer.

Recommended: Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

Selling a Car Privately

With a private sale, you might get more money than you would from a used car dealer (who needs to re-sell the vehicle at a profit), but you’d also need to take on more responsibility for managing the sale. This includes the transfer of title and payment of fees among other duties.

Steps to take include the following:

•   Get the current loan payoff from the lender (there will likely be interest owed beyond the principal amount).

•   Find out what paperwork they’ll need and how they want the process to work.

•   Have the buyer follow the lender’s procedures when paying for the car.

From the lender’s perspective, they want to ensure that they get paid. So, as just one possibility, they may have a buyer pay them the agreed-upon price for the vehicle. If it’s more than what’s owed, then the lender could give you the overage. If it’s less than what’s owed, you could give the bank the difference between the price and loan amount.

When selling a car with a loan privately, you’ll also need to handle any fees and forms with the motor vehicle department of your state.

Trading In a Car You Still Owe Money On

As a third possibility, you could trade in the car with a loan balance to a dealer as part of purchasing either a new or used car. The dealer will offer a certain amount of credit for the trade-in vehicle and if its value is more than the loan amount, that difference would go towards the purchase of the replacement vehicle.

If the loan amount is higher than the value, then the dealer may agree to combine the vehicle’s negative equity with the loan for the replacement vehicle. If this is the chosen route, the term may need to be extended to create affordable payments and this will potentially lead to more interest being paid on the new loan.

Recommended: Leasing vs. Buying a Car: What’s Right for You?

The Takeaway

Selling a car with a loan is a little different from selling one that’s paid in full. When thinking about how to sell a financed car, it’s easier to do so if you have positive equity in your car but still can be doable with negative equity. Some options include selling to a dealer or to an individual or trading in the vehicle towards another one.

Setting up a SoFi Money® Vault as a car fund can be a good option for saving towards a new car if you’re considering selling your current vehicle. Account-holders earn interest on their deposits and pay zero fees, so more of your hard-earned money can be put toward your financial goals.

Learn how you can save, spend, and earn all in one place with SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/Sakkawokkie


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