The Social Security COLA the Year You Were Born

Social Security checks, Social Security card, cash
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Each year, Social Security benefits increase by an amount based on the rate of inflation over the previous year. That’s known as a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, and 2022 saw the biggest one in decades.

The COLA for 2023 is likely to be even bigger — but how does it compare with past increases? We took a look at Social Security data to find out.

Following are the cost-of-living adjustments for every year dating back to 1975, when automatic annual benefit increases began, as well as details for the years prior. Note that each COLA is listed under the year in which Social Security beneficiaries started receiving it.

2022

Retiree holding cash
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 5.9%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2021 (which beneficiaries received in January 2022)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) — which is a measure of inflation — over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2021

2021

President Joe Biden
archna nautiyal / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.3%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2020 (which beneficiaries received in January 2021)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2020

2020

man quarantined at home
Anna Lurye / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.6%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2019 (which beneficiaries received in January 2020)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2019

2019

Social Security and money
J.J. Gouin / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.8%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2018 (which beneficiaries received in January 2019)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2018

2018

Ventura, California home after fire in 2018
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.0%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2017 (which beneficiaries received in January 2018)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2017

2017

President Donald Trump
Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 0.3%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2016 (which beneficiaries received in January 2017)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2016

2016

Man with empty wallet
AJR_photo / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 0%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2015 (which beneficiaries received in January 2016)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2015

2015

Supreme Court after gay marriage was legalized in 2015
Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.7%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2014 (which beneficiaries received in January 2015)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2014

2014

Senior checking her mailbox
Victorpr / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.5%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2013 (which beneficiaries received in January 2014)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2013

2013

Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.7%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2012 (which beneficiaries received in January 2013)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2012

2012

Home destroyed by hurricane
Mishella / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.6%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2011 (which beneficiaries received in January 2012)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2011

2011

Uncle Sam cutting Social Security benefits
Jim Barber / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 0%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2010 (which beneficiaries received in January 2011)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2010

2010

Worried seniors reviewing bills
WHYFRAME / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 0%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2009 (which beneficiaries received in January 2010)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2009

2009

Barack Obama
Ron Foster Shari / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 5.8%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2008 (which beneficiaries received in January 2009)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2008

2008

Newspaper headline about the 2008 financial crisis
Norman Chan / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.3%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2007 (which beneficiaries received in January 2008)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2007

[relared]

2007

First generation iPhone in 2007
marleyPug / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.3%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2006 (which beneficiaries received in January 2007)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2006

2006

Social Security payment
Alexey Rotanov / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 4.1%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2005 (which beneficiaries received in January 2006)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2005

2005

George W. Bush
Joseph August / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.7%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2004 (which beneficiaries received in January 2005)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2004

2004

Facebook on a laptop introduced in 2004
Thaspol Sangsee / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.1%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2003 (which beneficiaries received in January 2004)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2003

2003

Sad senior man
Diego Cervo / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.4%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2002 (which beneficiaries received in January 2003)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2002

2002

2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.6%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2001 (which beneficiaries received in January 2002)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2001

2001

The Twin Towers in New York City, 2001
Benny Marty / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.5%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 2000 (which beneficiaries received in January 2001)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 2000

2000

George W. Bush
Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.5%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1999 (which beneficiaries received in January 2000)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1999

1999

Sad senior looking out a window
didesign021 / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.3%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1998 (which beneficiaries received in January 1999)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1998

1998

Woman getting mail
Spectruminfo / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.1%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1997 (which beneficiaries received in January 1998)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1997

1997

Bill Clinton
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.9%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1996 (which beneficiaries received in January 1997)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1996

1996

Social Security
Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.6%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1995 (which beneficiaries received in January 1996)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1995

1995

Michael Jordan
Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.8%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1994 (which beneficiaries received in January 1995)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1994

1994

Central Perk cafe, a set for the series Friends in 1994
Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 2.6%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1993 (which beneficiaries received in January 1994)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1993

1993

Bill Clinton
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.0%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1992 (which beneficiaries received in January 1993)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1992

1992

1992 Los Angeles riots
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.7%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1991 (which beneficiaries received in January 1992)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1991

1991

senior men having fun
Diego Cervo / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 5.4%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1990 (which beneficiaries received in January 1991)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1990

1990

Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990
Olivier LAURENT Photos / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 4.7%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1989 (which beneficiaries received in January 1990)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1989

1989

George H.W. Bush
mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 4%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1988 (which beneficiaries received in January 1989)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1988

1988

Compact discs or CDs which passed vinyl in popularity in 1988
kazzpix / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 4.2%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1987 (which beneficiaries received in January 1988)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1987

1987

Worried man in retirement
Erickson Stock / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 1.3%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1986 (which beneficiaries received in January 1987)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1986

1986

Social Security Administration branch in Indianapolis
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.1%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1985 (which beneficiaries received in January 1986)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1985

1985

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan
mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.5%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1984 (which beneficiaries received in January 1985)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1984

1984

senior couple working on budget
Lena Evans / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 3.5%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for December 1983 (which beneficiaries received in January 1984)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the third quarter of 1983

1983

Social Security cards
zimmytws / Shutterstock.com

Beneficiaries saw no bump in their benefits in 1983. The COLA that was scheduled to go into effect in July 1983 was delayed by Social Security amendments, which pushed its effective date back to December 1983 and meant beneficiaries started receiving it in January 1984. The amendments also made all subsequent COLAs payable in January instead of July.

The CPI-W on which COLAs were based also changed in 1983. From 1975 through 1982, COLAs had been based on increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending in the first quarter of the year they became effective instead of the third quarter.

1982

360b / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 7.4%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1982 (which beneficiaries received in July 1982)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1982

1981

Ronald Reagan
mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 11.2%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1981 (which beneficiaries received in July 1981)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1981

1980

Lake Placid, New York
nyker / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 14.3%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1980 (which beneficiaries received in July 1980)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1980

1979

Sony cassette Walkman
Ned Snowman / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 9.9%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1979 (which beneficiaries received in July 1979)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1979

1978

Social Security Administration brick sign
James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 6.5%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1978 (which beneficiaries received in July 1978)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1978

1977

Atari video game system, invented in 1972
Pit Stock / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 5.9%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1977 (which beneficiaries received in July 1977)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1977

1976

Jimmy Carter
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 6.4%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1976 (which beneficiaries received in July 1976)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1976

1975

Social Security payments
Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA): 8%

When this COLA became effective: With benefits payable for June 1975 (which beneficiaries received in July 1975)

What this COLA was based on: Increases in the CPI-W over the year period ending with the first quarter of 1975

1974 and earlier

U.S. Capitol
Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com

Prior to 1975, cost-of-living adjustments were not automatic or annual — they happened only by legislation. According to the Congressional Research Service, they included:

  • July 1974: 11% increase
  • April 1974: 7%
  • October 1972: 20%
  • February 1971: 10%
  • February 1970: 15%
  • March 1968: 13%
  • February 1965: 7%
  • February 1959: 7%
  • October 1954: 13%
  • October 1952: 12%
  • October 1950: 77%

The Social Security Act became law in August 1935. Social Security numbers were first assigned after November 1936, and the taxes that fund Social Security to this day were first collected in January 1937.

The first monthly benefit was distributed in January 1940 — it was for $22.54. That’s about $456 in today’s dollars.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

How to monetize a blog: Tips from successful bloggers

There are a lot of ways to monetize your website, but these are the tactics that bloggers say work best.

When Taylor Stanford started blogging, she and her husband were living on food stamps.

“The thought of being able to buy whatever I wanted from the grocery store seemed like a dream I’d never accomplish,” she says.

Stanford wanted to inject more purpose into her life and make a little extra cash (one of many reasons you need a side hustle). So, she started a blog. As she consistently published blog posts, she built an audience. Steadily layering in a mix of website monetization tactics, Stanford was able to bring in about $10,000 a month after a year and a half. 

That blog is TaylorStanford.com, where she still publishes posts about her daily life, provides lessons on how to monetize a blog, and offers other advice and motivation for aspiring bloggers.

“Some days, it still feels like a dream when I get to roll through the drive-through on a Tuesday at noon and order a $5 coffee,” she says.

So, how do you make money from a blog? We asked Stanford and some other pro bloggers for secrets and strategies that have helped them succeed.

4 ideas for how to make money blogging

Many people wonder what types of blogs make the most money, but there are plenty of different types that can be lucrative.

Professional bloggers share their strategies for how to make money blogging.

Bjork Ostrom, who along with his wife runs the food blog Pinch of Yum, says that no matter what type of blog you have, you won’t earn any meaningful income until you’ve built a dedicated readership. If you’re just starting out, Ostrom says, “Hold off on monetization and instead focus on the content, building an audience, and figuring out what really works to engage with fans of your work.”

If you do have a fan base established, then he says now’s the time to think about revenue generation.

Here are four effective strategies for how to make money blogging, recommended by professional bloggers:

1. Display advertising

Those ads you see in the margins of your favorite websites? That’s display advertising, and it can be an effective way to monetize your website if your blog is already drawing a steady stream of visitors.

James Hills, who runs the travel and lifestyle blog ManTripping and blogging community Men Who Blog, found that there weren’t a lot of blogs for adventurous men who prioritized a healthy lifestyle when he first began blogging. However, there were plenty of advertisers looking to reach that audience, and he has been able to make money from both sites thanks to display advertising.

So how much blog traffic do you need to make money? Hills says you can monetize your blog in a meaningful way through advertising and brand partnerships once you reach 10,000 unique visitors per month, but he advises bloggers to aim for at least 25,000.

When deciding how to monetize a blog, many content creators choose to work with a managed ad network because it handles all the complexity that comes with connecting advertisers to websites like yours. Ostrom points out that many of these managed ad networks have traffic requirements. Some large managed ad networks require as many as 50,000 monthly sessions to qualify. Other networks offer their services at lower traffic thresholds, so Ostrom encourages you to do your research and pick the network that works best for you.

2. Affiliate marketing

Sometimes bloggers will link to other websites, where their readers can go to buy products or services. That’s a valuable source of sales for those third-party sites, which can further incentivize bloggers to link to them through an affiliate marketing program. With affiliate marketing, brands and online retail platforms make it easy for bloggers to use affiliate links on their sites. When a reader clicks the link and makes a purchase, the blogger gets paid.

Affiliate marketing for a product or service can help you monetize your website.

“It could be opening a credit card, signing up for a service, or buying a product on their website,” says Jim Wang, who runs the personal finance blog Best Wallet Hacks. Affiliate marketing is the main revenue driver for Wang’s blog.

“Affiliate marketing is all about trust,” says Amanda Williams, who runs the travel blog A Dangerous Business. “Whether you’re recommending something to longtime readers who already know you or you’re trying to sell something to someone landing on your site for the first time, you have to find a way to earn their trust.”

Stanford, who also monetizes her website with affiliate marketing, agrees that maintaining trust is critical. To keep your affiliate marketing true to who you are, she recommends first reflecting on all your favorite brands and then checking to see if they have affiliate marketing programs. Those that do typically provide straightforward instructions for how to leverage them, Stanford says.

Across the board, these bloggers emphasize that affiliate links can help you monetize your website, but they should always add value to your content.

3. Sponsored content

When it comes to how to monetize your blog, sponsored content is a popular tactic. When advertisers pay you to create content about their brand or provide you with content they’ve already created and approved to publish, that’s sponsored content.

For example, if you’re a food blogger, a salad dressing brand might pay you to include their Thousand Island dressing in your next burger recipe. Or let’s say you’re a lifestyle blogger. A sunglasses company might create a listicle of the “10 sunniest destinations to visit in the middle of winter” that you can feature on your blog.

However, professional bloggers say it’s important that you clearly label your sponsored content as such, because that transparency will build trust between you and your readers.

To obtain these kinds of partnerships, pro bloggers recommend creating quality content that brands would want to associate themselves with before you even have the traffic needed to monetize your website.

To get their attention, Stanford says it helps to nudge potential partners through tools like social media. She recommends tagging them in your social posts and also reaching out to them directly via email and by sending them your content. Taking that initiative, she says, can prompt them to ask you about a partnership or improve your odds when you eventually propose a deal. 

Often, though, brands will reach out to bloggers and ask their rate for a certain type of post, says Georgie Morley, whose personal blog helped her launch her photography career.

She typically receives a flat fee for each piece of sponsored content, regardless of how much traffic it gets. “How much you earn is based on your audience size, the kind of content, if the brand is able to license the content for their own use and a few other variables,” Morley says. She notes that the final price you land on can vary depending on the brand’s budget and how influential you’re perceived to be.

Williams, who runs A Dangerous Business, notes that the proliferation of influencers and bloggers has made it more difficult to pitch brands on partnerships than it used to be. Hills, of ManTripping, has some advice for how to differentiate yourself when reaching out: “The key is to present the brand contacts with a way that you can solve a problem or help them reach an audience that they need to engage with,” he says. “If you can offer that, then there could be opportunities to work together.”

“Whether you’re recommending something to longtime readers who already know you or you’re trying to sell something to someone landing on your site for the first time, you have to find a way to earn their trust.”

Amanda Williams, founder of travel blog A Dangerous Business

4. Selling products and services

For the Ostroms, Pinch of Yum is actually the first of a handful of companies they’ve launched. After seeing a pattern with requests from readers and other bloggers, they realized there was an opportunity to expand their offerings to WordPress plugins and educational courses. Now they offer premium subscriptions to their content on FoodBloggerPro, a recipe card plugin at WPTasty, a nutrition label tool at Nutrifox, and blog-focused content management software at Clariti.com.

Notice a trend with these products and resources? The Ostroms created each one to solve a problem they were running into as bloggers, and they found that others would be willing to pay for the same solutions.

If you don’t think you’re the ultimate expert and are nervous about teaching others, Ostrom says not to worry. “There’s this concept we have around here called ‘expert enough,’” Ostrom says, meaning that whatever your focus or practice area is, you likely have enough firsthand knowledge and experience to teach someone who is a few steps behind where you are. This ethos is what drove the creation of FoodBloggerPro, which helps food bloggers learn how to make money blogging. The Ostroms turned the lessons they learned running Pinch of Yum into original, marketable content.

Stanford also takes this approach to selling educational content on her blog. “Make sure that your product solves a problem for someone or simplifies their life in some way,” she says. On TaylorStanford.com, you’ll find courses on topics like how to get started blogging and how to use social media to drive traffic and revenue. 

How to monetize a blog consistently over time

Williams, who runs A Dangerous Business, emphasizes that making money from blogging does not happen overnight.

“You have to put in the work, and that takes time—months or sometimes even years, depending on what you’re blogging about,” she says.

When considering how to monetize a blog, veteran bloggers suggest posting consistently over time.

As you find new ways to generate revenue from your blog, these veteran bloggers all agree that you can’t take your eye off of some fundamental principles. Here are some more blogging tips that can help you monetize your website for years to come:

Regularly post high-quality content

“Focus on regular posting and cross-promoting at first because if you’re new, you learn a lot by constantly writing and promoting your work,” Wang, who runs Best Wallet Hacks, says.

Having a large body of work not only lets you learn more about what’s resonating with your audience, it also provides more opportunities to integrate display advertisements and affiliate marketing links. 

“Post with a purpose consistently,” Hills, who runs ManTripping, says. “Simply posting random thoughts four times a day isn’t going to do anything. If you know what you need to post, who you want to reach, and what they want to learn or do with the information, then it is absolutely important to post on a regular basis.”

As Ostrom decides what to write about, he first considers what questions people are asking, as well as what people have thanked him for writing about in the past. He says he has found this to be the simplest, most effective way to write content that readers value and return to the blog for.

Lean into your unique voice and point of view

The ManTripping blog targets men who like to travel, but Hills says that’s not the key to his success. Rather, he points to his uniquely tasteful point of view as the reason his blog stands out among a crowded field of competitors. He has found that this refined perspective both keeps his audience engaged and draws the interest of advertisers who want to associate with his website and connect with his readers.

Stanford agrees that her voice has helped her build a dedicated following. Her blog doesn’t have a singular focus. Instead, she writes about a variety of topics, from how to monetize a blog to skin care to visiting Disney World, and it’s her personality that keeps her audience coming back for more.

“When it comes to the internet, there are so many cold blogs and blog posts created by brands just to get their products to rank higher in search engines,” she says. “When I first started, that’s how I thought I had to write to be successful, so I tried it and got absolutely no response from people—no comments and no shares.”

When she went back and looked at the posts she’d been publishing, she didn’t like what she read. Rather than give up, she rewrote her posts as if she were talking to a friend. It was only then, when Stanford embraced her voice, that she began to build an audience.

Cross-promote and collaborate with other bloggers

The most common way to cross-promote your content is to write a guest post for another blog. It takes some effort, but successful bloggers agree that it’s an effective strategy for introducing your blog to another blogger’s audience.

“Start by building relationships with other bloggers because those relationships are very important, especially if you’re just starting out,” Wang says. Eventually, he says, you can ask about writing a guest post to expand your reach.

Sometimes bloggers don’t publish guest posts, but the relationships you build with other bloggers can still be valuable. “The important thing is that blogging can be a very solitary and lonely endeavor,” Wang says. “Making a few friends you can brainstorm and chat about challenges with can be huge.”

“If you know what you need to post, who you want to reach, and what they want to learn or do with the information, then it is absolutely
important to post on a regular basis.”

James Hills, founder of travel and lifestyle blog ManTripping

Grow your social media presence

Social media is a free channel that can help you get your blog in front of new readers and continue to engage with existing ones.

“I use my social channels to supplement my blog because, for me, my blog is always my main focus,” Williams says. She doesn’t actually see a lot of traffic generated by social media, but for her, that isn’t the point. “I create unique content for each social channel,” she says. “Each network is kind of its own audience.”

An influential social presence can also lead to new perks and revenue opportunities, Hills says. Every time he wears his favorite glasses, he tags the brand. And while it doesn’t always lead to a paid sponsorship, he does get free glasses and other products on a regular basis.

Keep your momentum going and monetize your website

Ostrom says that in the early years of his blogging journey, he and his wife were making less than minimum wage.

There’s no guarantee you’ll succeed, he notes, but if you keep grinding, you can increase your odds of success.

“Remember that most of the time in blogging, ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’ because in this world, ‘perfect’ is constantly changing,” Stanford says. “Yes, learn a little and figure out a good starting place, but don’t get stuck learning and never take action.”

Now that you’ve learned how to monetize a blog, keep these tips and strategies in mind as you continue to grow your site into a successful, cash-generating venture. It takes time and effort, but this is how you turn your side hustle into a full-time job.

Articles may contain information from third-parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third-party or information.

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SuperRare Review – One-of-a-Kind Digital NFT & Blockchain Artworks

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SuperRare is a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace founded by John Crain in 2018 and built on the Ethereum blockchain. SuperRare has become one of the top 10 NFT marketplaces based on all-time sales volume, according to Statista. 

SuperRare isn’t like most other NFT platforms you’ll find online. Although all marketplaces claim to focus on crypto art, many of the digital assets they sell are highly pixelated, computer-generated works that would have never passed as art before the NFT boom. 

That’s not the case with SuperRare. The platform is centered around the artistic value of NFTs and doesn’t offer access to any collections of multiple similar pieces. All NFTs you’ll find on the platform are truly one-of-a-kind digital artworks. 

Key Features of SuperRare

When you sign up for SuperRare, you’ll have access to several features. Some of the most appealing to NFT enthusiasts include:

Straightforward Pricing

SuperRare’s fee structure is simple. There are two transaction fees charged:

  1. The Buyer Fee. The buyer will always pay a 3% buyer fee when making a purchase on the platform. 
  2. Primary Sale Fee. The first sale of an NFT is known as the primary sale. The platform retains 15% of the sale price on all primary sales, leaving 85% of the sale price for the artist. Keep in mind that this fee is only charged on primary sales. You won’t pay fees on secondary sales if you’re the seller.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the platform’s fees aren’t the only fees you’ll pay when buying or selling NFTs. Blockchains have their own fees, known as gas fees, that are dictated by the demand on the blockchain at the time of the sale. On the Ethereum network, where SuperRare is built, gas prices can be as low as a few bucks but have been as high as hundreds of dollars in ETH.

The best way to make sure you pay the lowest gas fees possible is to time your trades when the market is less active. There’s less demand on the blockchain at night or early in the morning. So, there’s less demand on the blockchain during these times. As such, making NFT transactions during these times could give you significant savings on gas fees. 

Built on the Ethereum Blockchain

Although Bitcoin may be the most popular cryptocurrency in the world, Ethereum is the most actively developed blockchain. Blockchains are decentralized systems that store data in smart contracts, making it possible to validate transactions and verify ownership. 

As with any technology, there’s a major benefit to using the most actively developed options. SuperRare runs on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning the NFT exchange is built on a blockchain that’s proven itself to be reliable, secure, and accessible. 

Buy Art That Isn’t Listed for Sale

SuperRare’s website displays some digital artworks for sale and others that don’t seem to be. However, everything’s for sale for the right price, and the platform makes it possible to make an offer, even when assets aren’t “listed” for sale. 

If you find a digital item that’s a must-have for your art collection on the SuperRare platform and it’s not listed for sale, simply use the offer feature. The offer you make will be sent to the verified owner of the piece. The owner then decides whether to take your offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer. 

Compatible with Four Cryptocurrency Wallet Providers

Crypto collectibles must be stored securely in a crypto wallet. The NFT marketplace is compatible with four of the most popular crypto wallets. 

The supported wallet brands include MetaMask, FortMatic/Magic, Crypto.com Wallet, and Argent. 

Focused on Art

If you’re an art enthusiast, the fact that the platform is actually focused on art is a major draw. All NFT providers call non-fungible tokens digital art. But let’s be frank here, a majority of images that are minted as NFTs would never have been considered art in the past. Suddenly, a pixelated image of a punk or one of endless iterations of cartoon apes can be claimed to be artwork worth real money.

There’s a chance for that fad to fade, but real art will always have value. 

The SuperRare platform is where some of the top artists sell their single-edition works. You’ll find the same genres of art you’d expect to see in art galleries and museums. Some of the most popular on the website include realism, photography, and animations. 

No matter what type of crypto art you’re looking for, there’s a great chance the platform has something that’s appealing to your visual sensibilities. 

Automatic Royalties on Secondary Sales

If you’re a collector who buys an NFT, you can resell or relist it as a secondary sale to another buyer. The original creator of the NFT often receives a royalty on this secondary transaction.

Although most NFT platforms offer the option to earn royalties on secondary sales, the option is automatic with SuperRare. Artists automatically earn a fixed 10% royalty on all sales of their art in the secondary market. 


Advantages of SuperRare

The platform is one of the top 10 NFT marketplaces online today, offering a long list of advantages to collectors, artists, and enthusiasts. Some of the biggest advantages of the platform include:

  • Artists Automatically Earn Royalties. Traditional artists usually only make money off of the first sale of original works. As a crypto artist, you’ll automatically earn a 10% royalty on all secondary market sales when using SuperRare.  
  • Built on Ethereum. The Ethereum blockchain is the most popular and most actively developed blockchain in the world. Because SuperRare is built on the leading blockchain, you can expect reliability and stability as you transact. 
  • Own Unique Art. You won’t find copies or collections of pieces that look the same on the platform. All art you come across will be single-run productions designed for individual sale. You can rest assured the art you buy on the platform is unique. 
  • Sellers Don’t Pay Fees on Secondary Transactions. The 3% transaction fee is only charged to the buyer. That means you can resell your NFTs without owing a cut to the platform.

Disadvantages of SuperRare

There are plenty of reasons to consider signing up for SuperRare, but there are also a few drawbacks. The most important to consider are:

  • Gas Fees. Etherium provides reliability and security, but gas fees can be very high during peak demand periods. If you’re an artist or a seller, you pay gas fees when you mint NFTs and when you accept an offer from a buyer. If you’re a buyer, you pay gas fees when you buy fixed-price NFTs.
  • Only Accepts ETH Payments. Most NFT marketplaces accept a wide range of cryptocurrency payments, and some accept fiat-money payments like credit cards and debit cards. Unfortunately, SuperRare only accepts ether (ETH) — the native coin of the Ethereum blockchain — as a payment method. 
  • High Transaction Fee. The 3% transaction fee is high compared to popular NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible, which only charge 2.5% transaction fees.  
  • No Custom Royalty Settings. You’ll always earn a 10% royalty on secondary sales of your art through the platform. However, other marketplaces allow you to customize your royalty, with some caps as high as 50%. 

How SuperRare Stacks Up

OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace in the world, so it’s SuperRare’s biggest competitor. Here’s how the two compare:

SuperRare OpenSea
Pay Gas Fees When Minting? Yes No; gas fees are paid only when the NFT sells. 
Payment Methods Ether (ETH) Credit cards, debit cards, and more than 150 different cryptocurrencies. 
Who Pays Transaction Fees? Buyer Seller
Types of NFTs Sold Only single-edition digital artworks.  All kinds of NFTs. 

Final Word

The digital art industry is booming, and many expect it to continue on an upward trajectory. It’s not surprising if you want to get involved. However, SuperRare isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. 

The platform is best for you if you’re an artist who produces one-off digital works or a photographer who’s looking for a simple way to bring your work to a mass audience. It’s also a great option if you’re an art collector who wants to find something truly unique. 

If you’re more interested in collections like CryptoPunks, CryptoKitties, and Bored Apes, popular options like OpenSea are your best bet. 

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Earn a $150 cash bonus when you sign up for a new Albert account, receive a qualifying direct deposit, and use your Albert debit card. No monthly fees.

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Editorial Note:
The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

Source: moneycrashers.com

17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale

A real estate agent posts a for sale sign in front of a brick house that is under construction
Sean Locke Photography / Shutterstock.com

We all like to think that making positive changes to a home can make it more attractive to buyers. However, some renovations that might make you feel more comfortable, actually might not help you sell your home in the long run.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released its latest Remodeling Impact Report, finding that some renovations are less effective than others in convincing buyers to move forward.

Surveying real estate agents, NAR looked at 20 types of projects and asked agents which they’d suggested homeowners do before selling a home. The survey also asked agents whether completed projects had helped close a sale.

Following are the renovations this survey identified as least likely to close a home sale. Specifically, fewer than 10% of real estate agents said these projects helped close a sale.

17. HVAC replacement

New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 7%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 20%

According to the National Association of Realtors report, the estimated cost of completing an HVAC replacement is about $8,200, and the cost recovered in a home sale is about $7,000. So, even though you might be able to recover much of the cost of doing the project, it’s not one that is likely to help you close the sale.

16. New wood flooring

Halfpoint / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 5%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 16%

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reported earlier this year that indoor flooring replacement is the most common upgrade, as we detail in “The 15 Most Popular Home Upgrades – and What They Cost.”

And yet, real estate agents indicate that this project is unlikely to add much to a home’s appeal to buyers.

15. Hardwood flooring refinish

Jo Ann Snover / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 5%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 27%

New flooring isn’t recommended by as many real estate agents as refinishing the wood flooring that’s already there, according to the NAR report.

Even though it doesn’t help much to close a home sale, the report indicates that those who invest in the project see a recovery of 100% of their investment.

14. Bathroom renovation

Susan Schmitz / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 4%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 33%

A third of real estate agents suggest homeowners make this change before they sell, even though this project doesn’t usually help close a sale.

Additionally, you might only see a 57% return on value when you complete a bathroom renovation, according to the NAR report.

13. New vinyl windows

MJTH / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 4%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 12%

With new vinyl windows, homeowners can expect to retain about 73.4% of the cost when they sell the home, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report. Believe it or not, that’s a relatively good cost recouping.

12. Basement conversion into living area

Artazum / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 2%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 5%

Only 5% of real estate agents suggested this renovation to homeowners looking to sell, and for good reason, since it doesn’t contribute much to the ability to close a home sale. However, it does offer homeowners relatively high satisfaction, as we recently reported in “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.”

11. New garage door

Luxury home
karamysh / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 2%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 16%

While this home improvement project might not do much to help close a home sale, it can return nearly all of the cost when reselling your home.

Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report shows that a garage door replacement retains 97.5% of its value upon resale of the home, as we report in “These 10 Home Improvements Offer the Highest Returns.”

10. Add a new bathroom

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 5%

Very few real estate agents suggest this renovation, and even fewer find that it helps with closing a home sale.

It might be best to skip this one since it can cost as much as $60,000 — and only return about 50% of its cost, according to the NAR report.

9. New steel front door

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

While replacing your front door isn’t something that closes a home sale, it can help boost the value of your home — especially if you paint it black, as we report in “Painting With This Color Can Boost Your Home’s Sale Price by $6,000.”

Additionally, this project is likely to bring homeowners joy. The NAR report gave the project what it calls a “Joy Score” of 9.7 out of 10.

8. New vinyl siding

Red and black house
Lindasj22 / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

While it’s not a project much-recommended ahead of selling, new vinyl siding is one of those renovations that offer a relatively high return on value. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report, the replacement of siding retains 75.6% of its value when the home is sold.

7. New wood windows

Woman with dog in house
Ahmet Naim / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 2%

The NAR report gave new wood windows a “Joy Score” of 9.6 out of 10, as we detail in “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.” But these windows aren’t likely to help close a home sale and agents aren’t likely to recommend them as a pre-sale renovation.

6. New master suite

Nenad Aksic / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: Less than 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 3%

Not only is this project unlikely to help close a home sale, it’s also unlikely to pay for itself.

Both a midrange master suite addition and an upscale master suite addition made the list in our article “The 10 Worst Home Renovations for Your Money.”

5. Attic conversion to living area

Attic bedroom
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 2%

This project costs up to $80,000 to complete, and it returns only about 56% of the investment, the National Associations of Realtors report states.

4. Insulation upgrade

Worker insulating an attic
Bilanol / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

Even though this project isn’t one that agents say could help close home sales, the NAR reports that it offers homeowners a relatively good recovery (83%) on the money spent.

3. Closet renovation

A woman picks clothes out of her closet
New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

A closet renovation earned the highest Joy Score possible — a 10 out of 10 — in the NAR’s study.

Even if it won’t help you sell your home, you might enjoy this renovation while you still live in the home.

2. New fiberglass front door

Woman opening a door
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

Even if you don’t close a home sale by replacing the front door, choosing the right color for that front door may add to your home’s sale price.

Plus, as with a new steel front door, a new fiberglass front door is likely to bring homeowners joy. The NAR report gave both projects a Joy Score of 9.7 out of 10.

1. New fiber-cement siding

Artazum / Shutterstock.com

Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 2%

While fiber cement siding can return 76% of the cost and give homeowners satisfaction, it’s not a project that real estate agents say they find helps close a home sale.

What home renovations have you been considering? Share your thoughts in a comment below or over on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

9 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money Working Wedding Gigs

Nearly 2 million couples tied the knot in 2021 — but 2022 is projected to be even bigger, with the most weddings since 1984.

That means lots of opportunity to work a side gig helping couples throw their grand affairs.

9 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money Working Wedding Gigs

Here are nine side hustles and weekend gigs to earn some extra cash while love is in the air.

1. Take Engagement Photos

If you’re a shutterbug, this is a great way to build your portfolio and earn extra cash.

Your friends may want to hire a professional photographer for the wedding itself, but they might like to save a little money on their engagement photos.

Be sure to look at professional engagement photos beforehand to get ideas for poses, and then upload the edited shots to a photo-sharing platform so the couple can easily download them and order prints.

If you’re an experienced photographer, you probably already have what it takes to start your own wedding photography business.

2. Address Envelopes

Many couples want the address on their save-the-dates, invitations and thank you cards to be perfect. And many are willing to pay top dollar for perfection: professional calligraphers charge $3 to $4 per envelope!

If you have good penmanship, offer to address envelopes for a fraction of the price.

Even at $1 per envelope, you’ll still earn $100 for a 100-person wedding.

Two people create cupcakes.
Getty Images

3. Bake Desserts

Wedding cakes cost an arm and a leg. If you’re talented in the kitchen, here’s an area where you can definitely profit.

Choose a dessert you excel at making, or one that’s meaningful for the couple.

Cupcakes are an obvious choice — they’re cheaper than a cake, easier to transport and trendy. Bake a few different flavors to please the varying tastes of the guests, and decorate them to wow the crowd.

4. Provide Musical Entertainment

Help make the day special with your musical talent.

If you’re a guitarist, play and sing while the bride walks down the aisle, or during the cocktail hour. If you have a band, get the crowd going at the reception.

Love to sing? Consider working weekends as a wedding singer to earn $400 and up per gig.

Or if you have the gear, spin up a wedding DJ side hustle.

Nick Smith from Southwest Indiana bought his first set of DJ sound equipment when he was 20 years old from a local bar that was closing down.

Sixteen years later, Smith runs his own successful wedding DJ business where he pulls in upwards of $1,000 a gig.

DJing involves some initial upfront costs, like music licensing fees and reliable transportation to move your gear.

But finding work is easy, Smith said. He’s performed at over 200 weddings, most of which came from friend referrals and word of mouth.

5. Create Decorations

Crafty people, rejoice! Weddings provide an abundance of opportunities for you to get your glue gun on.

Everything from centerpieces to place cards to favors is cheaper to make than to buy, so offer to design and execute all decorative needs for the wedding.

Shop at discount stores and buy in bulk to save money on your supplies.

6. Pick Up Catering Gigs

With wedding season in full bloom, now is a great time to find catering side gigs.

From bartenders and cooks, to servers and general kitchen staff, catering gigs run the gamut. Most shifts take place on the weekends and last seven to 10 hours per shift.

Catering staff tend to get paid better than restaurant staff. Expect to earn around $13 to $17 an hour, with some high-end events netting upwards of $25 an hour.

A woman looks happy as she looks in the mirror while getting her hair and makeup done on her wedding day.
Getty Images

7. Do Wedding Makeup and Hair

Every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. That’s why people who do wedding makeup and hair earn big bucks.

If all your friends come to you for beauty advice, this might be the perfect job for you.

Be sure to do a test run a few weeks before the wedding. This gives you and the bride a chance to agree on a style, and helps avoid unwanted surprises on the big day.

If you want to take your bridal makeup business to the next level, get licensed and obtain limited liability insurance.

Make sure to Google the cosmetology laws in your state as well.

8. Love to Sew? Do Alterations

Sewing is a rare skill these days, but if you know your way around a needle and thread, you could earn major money altering clothes — specifically, wedding dresses.

Brides want their dress to fit like a glove — but don’t want to pay the high alteration fees charged at bridal shops.

Market yourself as an independent seamstress who can offer the same quality at a lower price, and you’ll have brides knocking at your door in no time.

9. Be an Officiant

If you aren’t shy around large groups and don’t mind delving into a few state and local laws, becoming a wedding officiant could land you a few hundred dollars per gig.

Becoming ordained is simple. It takes about five minutes and is usually free.

But according to FindLaw.com, Alabama, Connecticut, Virginia, Tennessee — and certain parts of Pennsylvania, New York and Las Vegas — don’t recognize online ordinations.

To be certain, you should ask a clerk at your county courthouse. You can also use this interactive map of state licensing requirements from the American Marriage Ministries.

If you want to start performing ceremonies on a regular basis, you will need to set a rate: $75 to $100 is a good starting point for officiants on average.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Here’s the Average Retirement Age in Your State

George Rudy / Shutterstock.com

Most Americans may think of age 65 as the target retirement age, but many people stop working before they reach that age.

Money Talks News analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey to determine the average retirement age in each state — or, more precisely, the age at which a majority of people in each state stop working.

The average retirement age nationally is 64, and the average retirement age by state is as low as 61, our analysis found. Only in a few states do a majority of residents work past age 65.

As we note in “8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will,” some workers end up having to leave the workforce sooner than they intended:

“Many workers today are counting on working into their late 60s and early 70s. But poor health, a job loss or the need to care for loved ones can force people to retire before then.”

Read on to learn the average retirement age in every state and Washington, D.C.

Age 67

MH Anderson Photography / Shutterstock.com

The nation’s capital has the nation’s highest average retirement age, with most District of Columbia residents staying in the workforce until age 67.

Of course, Washington, D.C., also has a steep cost of living, so working longer may be necessary for lots of folks. As of the second quarter of this year, its cost of living was higher than that of any U.S. state except for Hawaii, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC).

A recent Zillow analysis found that the median cost of a starter home is higher in Washington, D.C., than in any state, even Hawaii, as we report in “How Much Is a Starter Home in Your State These Days?”

Age 66

CREATISTA / Shutterstock.com

Hawaii might be the ideal retirement destination for many people, and South Dakota was named the best state to retire in by Bankrate last year. But the Aloha State and the Mount Rushmore State are among three states with the second-highest average retirement age in the nation.

Those states are:

  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • South Dakota

Incidentally, Hawaii and Massachusetts have the highest and fifth-highest cost of living, respectively, according to the MERIC ranking. South Dakota, however, ranks in the middle of the pack among U.S. states based on its cost of living.

Age 65

retirement party
Ulf Wittrock / Shutterstock.com

The big 6-5 isn’t just the traditional retirement age. It’s also the most common average retirement age among U.S. states, shared by 15 of them.

Those states are:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

Age 64

Spotmatik Ltd / Shutterstock.com

Sixty-four is the average retirement age in 11 states — including the one that WalletHub rated as the best U.S. state for retirees in 2019.

Those 11 states are:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Age 63

Flashon Studio / Shutterstock.com

Age 63 is the third-lowest average retirement age by state, and it’s shared by a dozen states.

They are:

  • Arizona
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina

Age 62

Senior black couple
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Seven states share the second-lowest average retirement age, 62, which also happens to be the age at which you generally become eligible to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma

Age 61

Eric Fahrner / Shutterstock.com

Two states enjoy the distinction of having the nation’s lowest average retirement age of 61:

  • Alaska
  • West Virginia

Are you surprised by the average retirement age in your state? Share your thoughts by commenting below or on the Money Talks News Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

How to Use Stress to Create a Happy and Relaxed Retirement

Stress free woman with computer and many obligations
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This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.com.

Less than 50% of people have a written retirement plan. The majority of people simply don’t have enough saved for this time in their lives. And, even if you have significant assets, retirement is a massive lifestyle change and a huge financial responsibility. Thinking about retirement can be stressful.

However, there is actually a way to use stress to your advantage — read on for tips.

Stress can actually be beneficial

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It goes without saying that stress is no fun — especially if you don’t know how to do it right.

Psychology suggests that there are good reasons for stress and good ways to use stress to your advantage.

Emotions, even negative emotions, have a purpose in our lives. Envy can help drive you toward goals. Anger can enable you to prevent exploitation. Stress, anxiety and worry can help you exert caution and discipline.

Before you retire, you need to have exerted major discipline to have saved adequately. And, you need to be cautious and plan very carefully before you move forward.

Use stress to your advantage when planning your retirement!

Fight or flight — the most common reaction to stress

Worried man
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Even though stress, anxiety and worry can be positive, most of us have a negative — not very productive — reaction to stress.

When we feel stress, our body is pumping chemicals into our bloodstream and those chemicals typically drive us to fight or flight:

  • We fight to try to extinguish the perceived foe.
  • We fly to get as far away from the threat as possible.

Fight and flight can be awesome defenses against immediate threats. Our brains developed the fight or flight reaction to protect us from real dangers like snakes hiding in the grass, a leopard leaping at us from trees, and other wild dangers.

However, fight and flight aren’t great reactions to things like retirement planning.

How many of us “fly away” – avoid, procrastinate, ignore – our retirement planning needs?

Following are four more positive and effective ways to deal with retirement planning stress.

1. Stress does not need to be harmful

Baby boomer friends in a kitchen
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

Stress is only harmful to you if you believe that it is harmful to you.

Kelly McGonigal is a psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. In her Ted Talk, she teaches us that you can eliminate the harmful impact of stress.

Yes, stress can be extremely damaging. A University of Wisconsin study found that stress can increase your risk of dying by 43%. And, McGonigal estimates that believing stress is bad for you might be “…the fifteenth-leading cause of death in the United States.”

However, research abounds that you can eliminate the harmful effects of stress. One study from the University of Buffalo found that you can reduce or even eliminate the damaging aspect of stress by spending time helping loved ones, friends or neighbors. “When you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience,” McGonigal said.

If you are stressed about finances and retirement, try reaching out to friends and family to talk about it. Offer them your best tips and commiserate and problem-solve.

If you’re not comfortable talking about finances with people you know, join a Facebook group or talk with a financial adviser.

2. Change your perception of stress

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University of Rochester psychologist Jeremy Jamieson has proven that the mere belief that stress can be useful can, in fact, improve your outcomes.

In one experiment, a group of students was preparing for an exam.

  • Jamieson told one group that stress can help you rise to the occasion of the test.
  • He told the other group to just focus if they get stressed out.

The group who were simply told that stress is enhancing did significantly better on that test and subsequent tests than the group that was told to focus.

Your mindset can actually impact how stress impacts you. Stress can increase your productivity.

Stressed about finances? Remind yourself that the stress is there for a reason and let it help you deal with the issues.

Stress can help you get started tackling your retirement plans.

3. Acknowledge your stress

Woman with e-reader and coffee
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Too often, we don’t actually acknowledge big long-term stressors like retirement. Retirement is an abstract concept in that it’s hard to think about in concrete terms.

However, your future financial security is probably gnawing at you.

If you can acknowledge and label any stress you feel, then your brain activity will actually shift and go to work dealing with it.

Researcher Matt Lieberman used brain scans to illustrate how recognizing stress can make you more reactive tackling problems.

In one study, participants were shown negative images. When they were asked to acknowledge and label the emotions they felt when viewing the picture, the activity in their brains moved from the emotional part of the brain to the prefrontal cortex — the area where we consciously think and plan.

4. Start small

couple using a budget app
mavo / Shutterstock.com

Planning retirement is indeed a massive task. You are trying to account for the next 20 to 30 years of your life with various unknowns and a finite set of resources.

Even so, one study found that people spend more time researching and buying a television than they spend on retirement planning. This certainly sounds like a “flight response” to the overwhelming stress of long term planning.

One way to deal with retirement planning stress is to start small.

You don’t need to tackle everything all at one time. You can break down the task into manageable chunks.

The NewRetirement retirement planning system is ideal for this. The tool is the most detailed and personalized online. It saves your information and allows you to plan at your own pace.

  • Start by documenting the broad outlines of your current finances.
  • See where you stand now.
  • Discover ways to strengthen your financial future.
    • Figure out the ideal time to start Social Security.
    • How much savings do you need? Don’t have enough? What if you delay your retirement date or plan to spend less?
    • What is your withdrawal strategy?
    • Will you have an estate? Is it as valuable as you’d like it to be?
    • And more …

Get started today. And then, keep adding to your plan.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

The 10 Best Countries for Retiring Overseas in 2022

Retired couple at the beach overseas
P l u s h S t u d i o s / Shutterstock.com

After pushing an estimated 2.4 million Americans into early retirement and increasing our anxiety about financial security, the pandemic has us rethinking what’s important in our lives.

Some people retire early due to job uncertainty; others hope to work longer to make up for tapping retirement savings during pandemic-related job losses.

People in huge numbers see themselves at a crossroads, says Jennifer Stevens, executive editor at International Living magazine, a monthly subscription-based publication that recently ranked their top 10 countries for overseas retirement for 2022.

“Going overseas can provide a path to that better-balanced, more affordable life folks are craving,” Stevens says.

Using statistics and on-the-scene journalists, International Living averages scores on these 10 areas important to retirees:

  • Cost of living
  • Housing
  • Health care
  • Retiree benefits
  • Visa/residence requirements
  • Fitting in/entertainment
  • Development
  • Climate
  • Governance
  • Opportunity — even as a retiree, you might want to start a new career.

If you go, you won’t be alone. The Social Security Administration sent more than 441,000 benefit checks to retired workers in foreign countries as of December 2020, the latest month for which figures are available. That’s up from more than 333,000 sent 10 years earlier.

It’s important to note that if you’re planning to retire abroad in the near future, you need to check with the State Department for important advisories about safety and COVID-19.

Here are International Living’s Top 10 rankings for 2022, its scores and what it and others say about the countries. Take a peek and see if any appeal to you.

10. Uruguay

Daniel Zappe / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 74.6

If spectacular beaches, warm climate and friendly locals top your wish list, check out this Spanish-speaking country sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina on southern South America’s Atlantic coast where January and February are mid-summer months.

Freezing temperatures are almost unknown and clean drinking water is abundant in the country that’s about the size of Virginia and West Virginia combined, says the CIA’s World Factbook. Nearly half the population of 3.4 million lives in and around the capital of Montevideo.

Uruguay’s colonial heritage, strong economy and historic Italian influence give the country a European feel, says international travel publisher Live and Invest Overseas.

Outside of high import duties on cars, the cost of living runs less than in the U.S. but higher than other popular retiree destinations.

9. Spain

Valencia, Spain
karnavalfoto / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 75.3

With 300-plus days of sunshine and 3,000 miles of coastline along the cool Cantabrian Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the north and the warm Mediterranean to the south, this Iberian Peninsula country in the southwest corner of Europe delights retirees from many lands, travel publishers say.

Spain’s diverse geography creates diverse climates, landscapes including beautiful mountains as well as sunny beaches, and enchanting culture-rich towns and cities worth exploring. Its population of 47.3 million is densest around Madrid, the capital, and Barcelona, the popular port city.

Parts of Spain offer luxury living on a Social Security budget.

8. Malta

Valletta, Malta
fokke baarssen / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 75.7

This Mediterranean nation of three tiny islands south of Italy boasts plenty of sunshine amid architectural treasures left from the many cultures that once ruled the ancient shipping pitstop.

About 15% of the nation’s half-million residents are expats, says International Living. Its capital, Valletta, was the 2018 European Capital of Culture.

Dramatic cliffs, picturesque fishing harbors and vineyards of wine grapes abound. Food from bakeries, fishmongers and local cafes runs cheaper than in the U.S., says International Living, but you’ll pay a premium for sea-view homes.

As a British colony that gained independence in 1964, Malta lists English along with Maltese as the official languages.

7. France

Retiree in Paris, France
Lena Ivanova / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 78.3

Retirees can find life tres magnifique in France. Hundreds of museums and galleries, historic sites, cafe culture and revered cuisine may draw you to the romance of pricey Paris, home of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Arc de Triomphe. Or you can find a variety of lifestyles and living costs from small Provence villages to the French Riviera’s Mediterranean beaches, experts such as Live and Invest Overseas say.

France has 68 million residents and is almost the size of Texas. Health care is great and average rents are about a third less than U.S. averages.

6. Colombia

Medellin, Colombia
Luis Echeverri Urrea / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 81.7

Showcasing the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains and both Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea coastlines, Colombia is more naturally diverse than most any other place on Earth.

Colombia’s population of 50 million is found mostly in the north and west of the country twice the size of Texas. With its easy residency requirements, you can enjoy seaside living, the friendly big city of Medellín or smaller mountain-nestled villages filled with Spanish colonial architecture.

5. Ecuador

Ecuador
Ecuadorpostales / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 83.1

Facing the Pacific Ocean and lying directly on the equator in the northwestern corner of South America, low-cost Ecuador offers T-shirt weather and sandy beaches year-round. You’ll find cooler climates as you move up into its mountains.

But even its populous capital, Quito, at more than 9,000 feet above sea level, is too warm to see snow, and you don’t have to shovel its frequent rain.

In an area slightly smaller than Nevada and with a population of 17 million, Ecuador uses the American dollar as its currency, the CIA World Factbook notes. Explore Incan and colonial architecture, hike in the Andes mountains or the rainforest, or hit the beach.

4. Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal
Steve Photography / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 83.3

Portugal offers lots of sunshine, plenty of beaches along its sliver of Europe’s coastline and relatively bargain-level prices, especially away from its big cities such as Lisbon, says Live and Invest Overseas.

Despite its medieval cobblestone appearance, Portugal is full of modern conveniences. English is commonly spoken in the Algarve region, where many European retirees live.

The country of 10 million is about the size of Virginia.

3. Mexico

DC_Aperture / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 83.8

With two coastlines boasting beautiful beaches, mild year-round temperatures and a budget-stretching cost of living, it’s no wonder our southern neighbor, Mexico, is already home to 1.6 million Americans.

About 130 million people live in the culturally and historically rich country nearly three times the size of Texas.

Top-notch affordable health care, zesty food-and-fun-filled festivals, proximity to the U.S. and easy residency requirements are all part of Mexico’s lure. That is true whether you are in expat havens like beachside Mazatlán or closer to the capital, Mexico City.

2. Costa Rica

Mihai-Bogdan Lazar / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 85.1

You don’t have to be rich to retire comfortably in Costa Rica, which literally means “rich coast.”

Although prices are rising along with the popularity of the Central American country of beaches, rainforests and mountains, you can still live there for less than in the U.S., especially away from its capital, San Jose. In 2021, Costa Rica passed a law that lowered the minimum investment for residency to $150,000, introduced 100% tax exemptions on imported vehicles and household goods and eliminated tax on money earned abroad.

About 120,000 Americans, including many retirees, lived in the country pre-pandemic. Slightly smaller than West Virginia, Costa Rica has a population of just over 5 million.

1. Panama

Panama City, Panama
GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 86.1

Best known for the canal connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, Panama lures visitors with its natural splendor of coastal beaches, unique jungle plants and animals, and a tax-advantaged retiree program that includes discounts on a lifestyle already discounted compared to U.S. costs.

While Panama is slightly smaller than South Carolina, about half of its population of nearly 4 million clusters mainly around the capital, Panama City. Smaller cities attracting expats include Santa Fe in the highlands and the sleepy beach city Las Tablas.

The country uses U.S. currency, so there’s no worrying about exchange rates.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com