What is Altcoin Season? Why Does It Happen?

2021 has been a heady time for cryptocurrency. Led by Bitcoin, the whole sector has seen huge rises in prices and tremendous volatility along the way. There’s been a massive development of decentralized finance (DeFi) technology applications and cryptocurrency ecosystems that allow people to trade and lend their tokens without the support of a traditional financial institution.

With all this activity and volatility, some have wondered what it will mean for the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Will Bitcoin continue to dominate and soar? Will other coins rise up to take the top spot in the field? Insiders have already coined a phrase for the possibility of Bitcoin stalling out and other cryptocurrency products and token rising in value. It’s known as “altcoin season.”

Altcoins: What Are They?

Basically, altcoins are cryptocurrencies that aren’t Bitcoin or Ethereum. In fact, Bitcoin is so dominant in the field that even Ethereum is sometimes referred to as an altcoin.

Bitcoin is the big kahuna of cryptocurrency, the one that started it all, the one that’s traded the most every day, the one that’s gotten the most backing from mainstream financial institutions, and, of course, the one that’s worth the most ($885,497,080,149 as of December 17, 2021). Ethereum is similar: a long track record, a variety of projects and systems built on top of it, substantial trading volume, and a high overall value (worth $459,827,737,310 as of December 17, 2021).

Altcoins are just about everything else. Sometimes they’re tokens built on top of Ethereum for DeFi projects, sometimes they’re offered in an “initial coin offering” for use with a specific product, sometimes they’re spun up by developers because they think there’s something wrong or missing in the current crypto ecosystem. This could be variants or forks of mainstream coins (like Litecoin (LTC) or Bitcoin Cash), or a whole new type of coin with a specific usage (stablecoins like Tether or USDC), or tokens for use in a specific ecosystem, like XRP for use in Ripple.

When Does “Altcoin Season” Happen?

Altcoin season happens when there’s steady outperformance of tokens and coins that aren’t Bitcoin.

There’s no promise or guarantee that every runup in Bitcoin will turn into a downturn later or that altcoins will start outperforming the original crypto. In fact, it’s not uncommon for all cryptos to rise together, as excitement about the sector grows and new money goes into all sorts of coins looking for profits.

There are a number of theories for why altcoin season could potentially happen. One popular one is that Bitcoin investors will pocket their gains from a surging Bitcoin, maybe by selling some of it, and then move those gains into other cryptocurrencies.

They might do this for one of two reasons:

1.    To realize gains. This might happen if the value of Bitcoin owned by an investor has gone up relative to the dollar or other fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies, and they want to spend some of those gains on things that can’t be bought with crypto itself.

2.    Expectations of future growth change. After a large runup of Bitcoin, an investor’s projected future growth or value of an asset might change compared to the price of investing. So, with inflated Bitcoin values, it’s possible that altcoins could be a better investment going forward. And if enough investors and traders make that decision, they will be.

How Do You Know If It’s Altcoin Season?

You can’t determine altcoin season just by looking at the price of altcoins or Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency in isolation.

Looking at their “market cap”, or the total value of all the circulating tokens, can be a better indicator of what’s going on with investor valuation of cryptocurrencies. This is because price isn’t just determined by investor interest or disinterest, but also by the number of outstanding coins.

How Are Altcoins Doing Relative to Bitcoin?

To tell if we are in altcoin season, we have to look at two things. The first is Bitcoin’s “dominance” vis a vis the rest of the crypto market as well as the performance of altcoins relative to Bitcoin.

At the time of writing in December 2021, according to CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin’s dominance is 41% of the total market. Near the beginning of this year, it stood at 70%. Bitcoin’s highest dominance was 96% in late 2013, Bitcoin’s lowest dominance was early 2018, when it stood at around 33%. Its lowest this year is around 40%, which it hit in May of this year.

Bitcoin has fallen in value by almost 40%, giving a chance for altcoins to gain value in comparison. But we can also compare Bitcoin market value to that of altcoins:

•   Bitcoin’s market value has grown from $176 billion to $885 billion.

•   XRP, the cryptocurrency associated with Ripple, has had its market cap grow from $9 billion to just under $38 billion.

•   Cardano (ADA), whose token is called ADA, has grown from about $3 billion to $41 billion.

•   Litecoin, a Bitcoin alternative founded in 2011 and thus one of the oldest altcoins, has grown from around $3 billion to $10 billion.

•   Ethereum (ETH), the least alt of the altcoins, the most well established of all non-Bitcoin tokens, has grown from $29 billion to $459 billion.

Whether altcoin season is happening at all — and if so, whether it will continue — still remains to be seen.

The Takeaway

Altcoin season describes a time period when altcoins steadily outperform Bitcoin. There are a few ways to try to determine altcoin season, but it remains impossible to predict. Basically, you’ll know it when you’re in it.

Interested in crypto? With SoFi Invest®, you can trade cryptocurrency online from a selection of more than two dozen coins – from Bitcoin and Ethereum to altcoins like Chainlink, Dogecoin, Solana, Litecoin, Cardano, and Enjin Coin.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio


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

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

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

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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Source: sofi.com

What Is Fibonacci Retracement in Crypto Trading?

A retracement level is the price at which a stock or cryptocurrency tends to see a reversal in its trend. Fibonacci retracement is a popular tool in technical analysis that helps determine support and resistance levels on a price chart.

What Are Fibonacci Retracement Levels?

Fibonacci numbers are a series where each number equals the sum of the two previous numbers. The most basic series is: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377 etc.

When it comes to technical analysis, investors use Fibonacci Replacement Levels, expressed as percentages, to analyze how much of a previous move a price has retraced. The most important Fibonacci Retracement levels are: 23.6% 38.2%, 50% and 61.8%.

Some analysts refer to 61.8% as “the golden ratio,” since it equals the division of one number in the series by the number that follows it. For example: 8/13 = 0.6153, and 55/89 = 0.6179.

The other Retracement levels reflect other calculations: Dividing one number by the number three places to its right equals 23.6%. For example: 8/34 = 0.2352. Bitcoin traders often use 78.6%, which is the square root of 0.618,

Some prefer the 0.618 and 0.382 levels because these are the retracement levels analysts believe are most likely to generate a trend reversal. These levels are considered inflection points where fear and greed can alter price action. When an asset is trending upward but loses momentum, it’s possible that a pullback to the 0.618 price level could result in a bounce upward, for example.

How Does Fibonacci Retracement Work and What Does it Do?

There are several theories as to why the fibonacci retracement works. Some of these include:

•   Fibonacci price levels reflect the effects of extreme fear and greed in the market. To use this to their advantage, traders might buy when people are panicking and sell when others are getting greedy.

•   Fibonacci patterns are often observed in nature as well as in mathematics. For example: fruits and vegetables. If one would look at the center of a sunflower, spiral patterns could appear to curve left and right. Counting these spirals, the total often is a Fibonacci number. If one could divide the spirals into those pointed left and right, then two consecutive Fibonacci numbers could be obtained. Therefore, it’s thought that these patterns may be important in financial markets as well.

•   The law of numbers: If a greater percentage of people practice Fibonacci crypto trading, then the likelihood of its accuracy increases.

At its core, a Fibonacci retracement is a mathematical measurement of a particular pattern. When it comes to Fibonacci in crypto, traders try to apply these patterns to price action to predict future price movements.

Who Created Fibonacci Retracements?

While traders commonly use Fibonacci in crypto today, the number sequences pre-date the invention of cryptocurrency by many centuries. Fibonacci numbers are based on the key numbers studied by mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (or Leonardo of Pisa) in the 13th century, although Indian mathematicians had identified them previously. He was a medieval Italian mathematician famous for his “Book of the Abacus”, the first European work on Indian and Arabian mathematics, which introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals to Europe.

Formula

In an uptrend or bullish market, the formulas for calculating Fibonacci retracement and extension levels are:

UR = High price – ((High price – Low price) * percentage) in an uptrend market; where UR is uptrend retracement.

UE = High price + ((High price – Low price) * percentage) in an uptrend market; where UE is an uptrend extension.

For example: A stock price range of $10 – $20, could depict a swing low to swing high.

Uptrend Retracement (UR) = $20 – (($20 – $10) * 0.618)) = $13.82 (utilizing 0.618 retracement)

Uptrend Extension (UE) = $20 + (($20 – $10) * 0.618)) = $26.18 (utilizing 0.618 retracement)

If a stock pulls back $13.82 could be a level that the stock bounces back to reach higher levels than its swing high price, e.g. $20. In an uptrend, the general idea is to take profits on a long trade at a Fibonacci price extension Level ~ $26.18.

What Does a Fibonacci Retracement do?

Markets don’t go straight up or down. There are pauses and corrections along the way. To buy stocks in an uptrend, one would look to get the best price possible.

Some traders use Fibonacci Retracement to determine how much a stock could pull back before continuing higher. Traders can use these retracement levels to find optimal prices at which to enter a trade.

A swing high happens when a security’s price reaches a peak before a decline. A swing high forms when the highest price reached is greater than a given number of highs around it.

Swing low is the opposite of swing high. It refers to the lowest price within a timeframe, usually fewer than 20 trading periods. A swing low occurs when a lowest price is lower than any other surrounding prices in a given period of time.

Support and Resistance

Support is the price level that acts as a floor, preventing the price from being pushed lower, while resistance is the high level that the price reaches over time. Analysts often illustrate these as horizontal lines on a graph.

A support or resistance level can also represent a pivot point, or point from which prices have a tendency to reverse if they bounce (in the case of support) or retreat (in the case of resistance) from that level.

Learn more: Support and Resistance: What Is It? How To Use It for Trading

Limitations of Fibonacci Retracement

Fibonacci retracements in crypto or other markets may be slightly predictive. But over relying on them can be counterproductive for reasons such as:

•   Fibonacci retracements, like any other indicators, could be used effectively only if investors understand it completely. It could end up being risky if not used properly.

•   There are no guarantees that prices will end up at that point, and retrace as the theory indicates.

•   Fibonacci retracement sequences are often close to each other, therefore it may be tough to accurately predict future price movements.

•   Using technical analysis tools like Fibonacci retracements can give investors tunnel vision, where they only see price action through this one indicator. Assuming that any single indicator is always correct can be problematic.

A Fibonacci retracement in crypto trading could wind up being even less predictive than in other financial markets due to the extreme volatility that cryptocurrencies often experience.

Fibonacci Retracements and Bitcoin

Fibonacci retracements can also be used for trading cryptos such as Bitcoin (BTC), similarly to how they’re used in stocks. In this case, one would use the levels 23.6%, 38.2%, 50%, 61.8% and 78.6% to determine where the cryptocurrency price would reverse.

Crypto prices are very volatile, and leverage trading is common. Leverage is the use of borrowed funds to increase the trading position, beyond what would be available from the cash balance alone. Therefore, it can be important to have some reference as to when the price could reverse, to not incur major losses.

Using the Fibonacci Retracement Tool to Trade Cryptocurrencies

In order to get started with a Fibonacci Retracement Tool, a trader could find a completed trend for a crypto, say, Bitcoin, which could either be an uptrend or downtrend.

Below are some steps on how to use Fibonacci retracement tool:

1.    Determine the direction of the market. Is it an uptrend or downtrend?

2.    For an uptrend, determine the two most extreme points (bottom and top) on the Bitcoin price chart. Attach the Fibonacci retracement tool on the bottom and drag it to the right, all the way to the top.

3.    For a downtrend, the extreme points are top and bottom and the retracement tool could be dragged from the top to the bottom.

4.    For an uptrend or downtrend, one could monitor the potential support levels: 0.236, 0.382, 0.5 and 0.618.

Recommended: Crypto Technical Analysis: What It Is & How to Do One

Fibonacci Retracement Example for Bitcoin

In December 2017, Bitcoin fell from $13,112 to around $10,800, within a short timeframe. After that, it rallied up to $12k twice, but did not break above that level until 2021. That indicates a bearish pattern, as it couldn’t break above its previous high. In technical analysis it is called a double top.

On the Fibonacci tool, the $12k resistance point coincided with the 50% level of retracement. When the price could not reach this level, it started to fall again. In this scenario, traders using Fibonacci Retracement might consider this a good time to exit a long position or establish a short position. A short trade is based on the speculation that the price of Bitcoin is going to fall.

By February, 2018, the trade materialized as Bitcoin continued its downtrend falling all the way to $9,270. The short trade would have worked and traders could have realized a profit from using the crypto Fibonacci Retracement tool, although those who managed to HODL for years after that would have made even more.

FAQ

Does Fibonacci retracement work with crypto?

While the Fibonacci retracement tool is traditionally used for analyzing stocks or trading currencies in the forex market, some analysts believe it is also helpful in determining a crypto trading strategy.

How accurate is fibonacci retracement?

In crypto, Fibonacci retracement levels are often fairly accurate, although no indicator is perfect and they are best used in combination with other research. The accuracy levels increase with longer timeframes. For example, a 50% retracement on a weekly chart is a more important technical level than a 50% retracement on a five-minute chart.

What are the advantages of using fibonacci retracement?

Here are some benefits of using Fibonacci Retracement.

•   Trend prediction. With the correct setting and levels, it can often predict the price reversals of bitcoin at early levels, with a high probability.

•   Flexibility. Fibonacci Retracement works for assets of any market and any timeframe. One must note that longer time frames could result in a more accurate signal.

•   Fair assessment of market psychology. Fibonacci levels are built on both a mathematical algorithm and the psychology of the majority, which is a fair assessment of market sentiment.

The Takeaway

The Fibonacci Retracement tool can help identify hidden levels of support and resistance so that analysts can better time their trades. Analysts believe this tool is more effective when utilized with types of cryptocurrency that have higher market-capitalization, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, because they have more established trends over extended time frames.They consider it less effective on cryptocurrencies with a smaller market capitalization.

Whether you use Fibonacci Retracement or other methods to create your cryptocurrency trading strategy, a great way to get started is by opening a brokerage account on the SoFi Invest investment app. You can use it to trade more than a dozen different coins, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Cardano, and Dogecoin.

Photo credit: iStock/HAKINMHAN


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

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

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

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
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

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2022

  • Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State for its role in U.S. history
  • The state’s roots are deep in manufacturing, including industries such as coal and steel
  • Living in Pennsylvania gives you access to all the riches of the state, no matter what city you call home

Pennsylvania holds a notable place in the history of this country. Not only did it help shape our formation into the United States, but its roots are deep in the coal, steel and railroad industries. Living in the Keystone State puts you among historic locations that paved the way for the development of so much of this country.

It’s a lofty reputation to hold up, but staying grounded in industry and opportunity has enabled the state to maintain itself as an attractive spot for those looking for employment. With affordable housing across the state, plenty of colleges and universities and a slew of historic landmarks, why wouldn’t you want to call this northern state home?

For all these reasons, the best places to live in Pennsylvania stretch from one side of the state to other. Some cities are easily recognizable, while others you may hear about for the very first time. Regardless, you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to finding the perfect home in Pennsylvania.

Allentown, PA

Allentown, PA

  • Population: 125,845
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,885
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,027
  • Median home price: $187.750
  • Median household income: $41,167
  • Walk score: 59/100

A rich Dutch history gives Allentown a unique look and feel. Situated on the Lehigh River, this busy city is full of beautiful parks and gardens. It offers up a diverse collection of inhabitants with plenty to do to accommodate any lifestyle. There are plenty of job opportunities and thriving districts for the arts, theater and culture.

A day out and about in Allentown isn’t complete without a walk through the Allentown Art Museum, The Liberty Bell Museum, America On Wheels Museum and more. If the season is right, grab tickets to see the infamous Lehigh Valley IronPigs AAA baseball team go a few innings as well.

Bethel Park, PA

Bethel Park, PA

  • Population: 33,577
  • 1-BR median rent: $975
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,099
  • Median home price: $240,000
  • Median household income: $79,894
  • Walk score: 46/100

A Pittsburgh suburb, Bethel Park combines affordable housing with excellent schools and an abundance of green space. The city’s population is a combination of retirees and young professionals, but it’s also a great place for families. In addition to the parks, you’ll find plenty of bars, coffee shops and retail outlets.

With less than 30 minutes between Pittsburgh and Bethel Park, the town draws in those still commuting in for work, but who are looking for a quieter place to end each day. On weekends, locals will stay put and enjoy everything from the Montour Trail to the Hundred Acres Manor.

Camp Hill, PA

Camp Hill, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Society Hill
  • Population: 8,130
  • 1-BR median rent: $890
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,422
  • Median home price: $225,900
  • Median household income: $87,008
  • Walk score: 34/100

One of the best places to live in Pennsylvania is a small city along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Camp Hill gives you a nice amount of waterfront to explore. The town is also home to the northernmost engagement of the Gettysburg campaign during the Civil War. To honor this piece of history, you can follow the West Shore. There you’ll find historic buildings and battle sites.

For outdoor lovers, Camp Hill is a perfect home base to access hiking, biking, skiing and water activities. There are also plenty of local parks for a simple stroll.

Collegeville, PA

Collegeville, PA

  • Population: 5,043
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,060
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,655
  • Median home price: $380,000
  • Median household income: $112,500
  • Walk score: 44/100

As a suburb of Philadelphia, Collegeville got its straightforward name from Ursinus College. Academic life still plays an important role here, although the city is also a popular destination for a variety of businesses.

While there’s plenty of shopping and plenty for college students, the area’s top feature is the Perkiomen Trail. This 20-mile path follows the river, connecting many parks and historical sites. You can walk, bike and even ride horseback along the path.

Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PA

  • Population: 50,099
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,137
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,407
  • Median home price: $199,025
  • Median household income: $39,685
  • Walk score: 55/100

As the state capital, Harrisburg is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania as much for its location within the state as for its history. Living here puts you near the Susquehanna River, Appalachian Trail and the cities of Hershey and Gettysburg. You can easily sample a little nature and history with so much close by.

Within Harrisburg itself, you have access to the city’s own island. Here you’ll find a beach, riverboat, arcade and more. It’s a great stop during the day. When the sun goes down, keep yourself occupied with the upscale bars and restaurants downtown.

Hershey, PA

Hershey, PA

  • Population: 13,858
  • 1-BR median rent: $915
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,075
  • Median home price: $339,900
  • Median household income: $69,688
  • Walk score: 57/100

Yes, it’s named after that chocolate bar. Hershey is often referred to as one of the sweetest places on earth because, to this day, Hershey’s still calls the city home. This not only means a variety of job opportunities working with chocolate but plenty to lure in tourists. The city also boasts Hersheypark, which has rides and a zoo, Hersey Gardens and Hersheypark Stadium.

Although the city grew up around a single company, today, it contains all the attractive elements of a smaller town one could want. Step away from the more touristy areas to find scenic hiking trails, museums, restaurants and shops.

Lancaster, PA

Lancaster, PA

  • Population: 58,039
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,269
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,453
  • Median home price: $225,625
  • Median household income: $45,514
  • Walk score: 56/100

Situated alongside Amish Country, Lancaster is home to the Pennsylvania Dutch. While you can tour Amish attractions and even immerse yourself into the lifestyle for a special experience, locals have plenty of other activities to occupy their time.

As one of the best places to live near Philadelphia, the downtown area is full of shops, theaters, restaurants and art galleries. Underground caverns provide a little adventure for those seeking something different. You can also take a ride on the country’s oldest operating railroad or see a different side of the city’s history with a ghost tour.

Perkasie, PA

Perkasie, PA

  • Population: 9,120
  • 1-BR median rent: $995
  • 2-BR median rent: $995
  • Median home price: $425,000
  • Median household income: $77,420
  • Walk score: 38/100

Another commuter town, Perkasie is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania because it’s a great small town that’s only about an hour away from downtown Philadelphia. Once known for its factory that made baseballs for the major leagues, Perkasie today has managed to grow while holding onto its rural appeal.

A fantastic park system and revitalized downtown area provide the perfect combination of hometown activities for residents. There’s no shortage of restaurants, shops, music venues and more.

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA

  • Population: 1,603,797
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,872
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,102
  • Median home price: $260,000
  • Median household income: $45,927
  • Walk score: 84/100

The most populated and well-known city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia definitely has one of the rooms where it happened. Not only is it the original home of the Liberty Bell but it also housed our Founding Fathers as they signed the Declaration of Independence into being.

Popular in its own right, Philadelphia offers additional appeal for its proximity to New York City. Hop a train into the city for work or a weekend of fun. You can also stay close to home and snack on an authentic Philly cheesesteak as you enjoy the art and history of downtown. There’s no shortage of 300-year-old buildings, cultural attractions, quaint parks, bars, restaurants and shops.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Population: 302,971
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,435
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,890
  • Median home price: $217,000
  • Median household income: $48,711
  • Walk score: 69/100

Bookending the state, Pittsburgh is the most populated city on the opposite end from Philly. Known as the City of Bridges, Pittsburgh has long shared a connection with steel, however, the industry is only part of what makes this area so special. As a highly walkable city, you can easily explore on foot but wear comfortable shoes. With over 712 sets of city-maintained steps, you’re going to get a great workout.

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry, Pittsburgh has you covered. For sports fans, this affordable town is home to professional baseball, football and hockey teams. For those looking toward higher education, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are the notable tip of Pittsburgh’s collegiate iceberg.

Reading, PA

Reading, PA

  • Population: 95,112
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,475
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,540
  • Median home price: $160,000
  • Median household income: $32,176
  • Walk score: 69/100

Named after the Reading Railroad, which all you Monopoly players should know well, the town of Reading sits in the southeastern part of the state. Today, it’s uniquely known for the variety of pretzel companies that call the area home. Reading is also a combination of culture and history. It’s easy to divide your day between looking at an Egyptian mummy in the Reading Public Museum and hiking through the Nolde Forest. You can also check out Daniel Boone’s birthplace for some real American history.

With plenty of affordable, suburban housing, residents get drawn into Reading for the charms of the city itself, as well as its proximity to Philadelphia. These two cities on the list of best places to live in Pennsylvania are only about 60 miles apart.

Scranton, PA

Scranton, PA

  • Population: 76,328
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,184
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,095
  • Median home price: $149,000
  • Median household income: $40,608
  • Walk score: 58/100

Laid out more like a traditional small town, Scranton has tight-knit neighborhoods clustered around a thriving downtown. You’ll find trendy restaurants, boutiques and art galleries nestled among the historic Lackawanna County Courthouse building.

Taking into account its high population of young professionals and families, Scranton caters to its residents with plenty of special activities, including cultural festivals and monthly art walks. Scranton also pays homage to its nickname, the Electric City, with The Electric City Trolley Station and Museum. The first streetcars, successfully powered by electricity, ran here in the 1880s.

Willow Grove, PA

Willow Grove, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Willow Pointe
  • Population: 13,730
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,907
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,230
  • Median home price: $300,000
  • Median household income: $79,162
  • Walk score: 57/100

A small town with big fun, Willow Grove offers residents a quiet, laidback community that doesn’t lack the amenities you’d want close by. There are plenty of shopping and dining options that you’d expect to find in bigger cities.

As a Philadelphia suburb, Willow Grove has the nearby city going for it as far as activity goes, but it’s not without its own set of museums and historic sites to occupy residents. Visit the 42-acre grounds and home at Graeme Park or check out the indoor playground at Urban Air Adventure Park for something really different.

Find an apartment for rent in Pennsylvania

The best places to live in Pennsylvania spread to all four corners of the state. Each city has its own charm, beauty and history to explore, not to mention job opportunities and affordable housing.

Once you decide what area is right for you, begin the hunt. Look for apartments for rent in Pennsylvania to see all your options. Then, start narrowing things down by location, amenities and more. You’ll find the perfect place to call home in no time.

The rent information included in this summary is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of December 2021.
Median home prices are from Redfin as of December 2021.
Population and median household income are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The information in this article is for illustrative purposes only. This data herein does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

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TV Deals for Watching the NFL’s Bigggest Game

Ready to shop? Here are some of the best bargains that we found on big screen TVs and a couple of smaller ones if you’ll be watching from your bedroom or the kitchen.
Super Bowl LVI (No. 56 for the Roman numeral challenged) will be held on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. SoFi Stadium is the state-of-the-art, gorgeous new home shared by the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.
If you search for TVs on Amazon, you will see several choices for “limited time” deals, although there is no explanation as to what “limited time’’ means specifically.
You can also save 0 on the Sony X80J 65” 4K UHD LED Smart Google TV With Dolby Vision HDR and Alexa Compatibility, with a price drop from 0 to 0.
HDR stands for high definition range, which is the top current technology in color, contrast and clarity.
A new big screen TV will come in handy for the Winter Olympics from Beijing, Feb. 4-20, which are also being broadcast on NBC. There are other ways to watch the Winter Games.

How Many of Us Watch Football’s Biggest Game?

Walmart is offering a 55” Samsung Class 4K Crystal UHD (Ultra High Definition) LED Smart TV with HDR for 8 plus tax, down from 9.
A huge TV — the 75” Westinghouse UHD Smart Roku TV — is selling for 0, down from 0, at Target. Westinghouse is a lesser known brand among TV manufacturers, and this TV is not LED or UHD.
Best Buy offers the LG 24” Class LED HD TV for 0, and the step up LG 24” Class LED HD Smart webOS for 0.

The Best Super Bowl TV Deals

Most TV monitors today are smart TVs, meaning that they connect to streaming services, which is how people watch live NFL football these days if they have cut their cable service.
If you are brand loyal to LG, Best Buy is offering the LG 48” Class Ai Series OLED 4K UHD Smart webOS TV for 0, down 0 from the original selling price of ,200. Or, you could save 0 and go big with the 77” LG Class C1 OLED 4k UHD Smart webOS TV for ,000.

Walmart

Best Buy has reduced the price of the LG 65” Class UP7000 Series LED 4K UHD Smart webOS TV from 0 to 0 which makes it a worthy big game TV deal.
Last year’s big game attracted 96.4 million viewers, but that was the lowest TV audience for an NFL championship game since 2007. That number includes people who watch the game in bars and restaurants, which was likely affected by fewer people gathering because of the pandemic. There was growth, however, in streaming service viewership.
However, if you are a Sony person and you want the best TV possible, Sony has the 65” Class Bravia XR A8OJ Series OLED 4K UHD Smart Google TV for ,200, a drop of 0, which may make you feel better but there are better TV deals out there .  This TV is rated best premium 4K TV by Popular Mechanics.
The NFL reports that nationally televised, regular-season games draw about 17 million viewers. How to account for the huge jump in viewership? The championship game is now combined with big parties and clever commercials that help drive more eyeballs to the game. Many people “watch” the game who never see another one all season.
One of the limited time deals offered a savings of almost 0 on the Vizio 58” M7 Series Premium 4K UHD Quantum Color LED HDR Smart TV with Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast Built in. The price drop of 0, from 0 to 0, was one of the best deals on the site in terms of percentage of savings.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Keep this in mind as you check out the TV deals: How will the big screen TV be delivered to your house? Do you have a vehicle big enough to transport it or will you need to pay for delivery of your new TV to watch the biggest football game of the year? You’ll have to factor that into the savings. And, will you need to pay for set up?

Best Buy

The 4K reference indicates the top level for movie viewing. While most top line television monitors today offer either 4K for movie viewing or UHD for live action viewing, this Samsung has both technologies.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
UHD is the next step up from high definition, an improvement from a display resolution of 1,920 pixels to 2,160 pixels.
According to Popular Mechanics, the best 4K LED TV is the Sony X85J 4K UHD Roku Smart TV. A 65” version is selling at Walmart for ,098, reduced from ,237.

Amazon

Super Bowl Sunday — this year Feb. 13 — is the most official unofficial holiday on the calendar, and 100 million people watch that game annually. So it’s the perfect time to be looking for TV deals unless you’re one of the lucky people who’ve snagged a ticket to watch it in person.
There is one time of the year that TV retailers know you are going to be watching your television and are in the market for the best TV deals.
Yes, curved crystal. The screen is curved, a significant upgrade for any live action viewing.

Roku or Amazon Firestick? We’ve got the details to help you decide which one is right for you, but honestly, it’s a coin toss.

Target

Your TV monitor is never going to be more important than it will be on Super Bowl Sunday, which is why many sitcoms have tackled the big game for story fodder. Remember the King of Queens episode when Doug tried to cozy up to Carrie’s boss so they could watch the big game in hi-def on his big-screen TV?
If you have a tabletop TV in your kitchen, and you plan to watch the game while cooking for others or for yourself, a 24-inch monitor is your best bet. You should pay less than 0 for any of these, including the Vizio 24” D-Series Full HD 1080p Smart TV with Apple AirPlay and Chromecast Built-in at 8 on Amazon.

Watching the Game in the Kitchen

Retailers want to provide you with the best possible TV screen so that your football viewing is the best it can be. That’s why January is the best month to buy a new TV. Retailers are offering monitors at the lowest prices of the year because they know you are shopping right now.
A TV that does fit the 4K UHD model is the 65” Element 4K UHD Roku TV, selling at Target for 0, down from 0. Again, Element is a lesser-known brand of TV manufacturer.
Not big enough for you? Try the Samsung 65” 4K Curved Crystal UHD LED Smart TV with HDR for 7 plus tax, reduced from 0.
If ever there was a time to shop around for  TV deals for the big game, or to place your best internet shopping hound dog on the hunt, this is the time.
WebOS is a smart TV operating system owned by LG. It allows for more advanced features and connected devices to operate the TV monitor remotely.

Upgrade Your Saturday Morning: 10 Weekend Breakfast Ideas Worth Trying At Home

Stay in your pajamas and pretend you’re a master chef with these weekend breakfast ideas!

After a long week, nothing is better than sleeping in a bit and enjoying a filling and delicious breakfast. So, plan to skip long brunch lines and treat yourself at home with these easy weekend breakfast ideas.

From mouthwatering omelets to make-ahead strattas and casseroles, here are 10 helpful ways to upgrade your weekend breakfast plans.

1. Pour a cuppa (or two)

Cup of tea.

Cup of tea.

Instead of rushing out the door on a Saturday or Sunday morning for a day jam-packed with activities, linger a little longer at home and treat yourself to a lowkey tea party.

Make a pot of your favorite tea, slice up your favorite fruit into a salad and nibble on a scone or two. If you’re feeling luxurious, whip up a bowl of heavy cream and add the homemade whipped cream into your teacup or mug.

Want to have tea like the Queen? Buy or make your own clotted cream and add a little into an English tea. According to tea expert Ashita Agrawal, “English breakfast tea is a favorite for its full-bodied, rich and very refreshing tasting notes. It pairs excellently with eggs, sweetbreads or salads.”

2. Swap scrambled eggs for a homemade omelet

Omelet.

Omelet. Scrambling eggs is easy, but it can get old very quickly if it’s your go-to weekend breakfast idea. Turn your kitchen into a fancy brunch spot and treat yourself to an omelet.

  1. Prep your eggs: Grab two or three eggs per omelet, crack them into a bowl and lightly beat them with a fork.
  2. Melt your butter: Heat a nonstick skillet on medium-low heat and add in some butter.
  3. Pour in your eggs: Once you add your eggs to the pan, let them sit for about 60 seconds. Take a spatula and start to gingerly lift the cooked eggs around the edges of your pan.
  4. Add your fillings: Without overstuffing your omelet, add the filling as your eggs start to set in your pan.
  5. Fold it: Use your spatula to fold your omelet in half. Let it sit a few more seconds and voila — you just made an omelet.

Need help deciding what should go into your homemade omelet? Take your pick!

Cheese fillings:

  • Asiago
  • Blue
  • Boursin
  • Cheddar
  • Chèvre
  • Comté
  • Cream cheese
  • Feta
  • Fontina
  • Goat cheese
  • Gouda
  • Gruyère
  • Manchego
  • Monterey Jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Pimiento cheese
  • Taleggio

Meat fillings:

  • Bacon
  • Pancetta
  • Chorizo
  • Country ham
  • Crab
  • Diced ham
  • Lobster
  • Sausage
  • Shredded chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Smoked salmon
  • Steak
  • Trout

Vegetable and herb fillings:

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Avocado
  • Basil
  • Bell peppers
  • Caramelized onions
  • Chile peppers (jalapenos or poblano)
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Hash browns
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes

And if you want to kick our omelet experience up a notch — consider topping your breakfast with the following:

  • Caviar (if you’re feeling luxurious)
  • Chili (from a can or homemade)
  • Everything but the Bagel seasoning (pick it up at Trader Joe’s)
  • Hot sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Mixed greens
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Pesto
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salsa

3. Make a yogurt bar

Yogurt bowl.

Yogurt bowl.

Not only is yogurt delicious, but it has loads of protein, calcium and potassium (as well as numerous vitamins and minerals). If you want an easy and healthy weekend breakfast idea, plan to create an at-home yogurt bar.

Simply grab your favorite kind of yogurt flavor and then consider all your options for toppings. You can add as many or as few toppings as you want — there are no rules here. Need help dressing up your yogurt? Go to town with some of these:

  • Almonds
  • Almond butter
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cacao nibs
  • Cereal
  • Chia seeds
  • Chocolate chips (dark or white)
  • Coconut
  • Cookie butter
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Flaxseed
  • Fruit jam
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola
  • Grapes
  • Hemp seeds
  • Honey
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Peanut butter
  • Pecans
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

4. Bust out your cookie cutter collection

Cookie cutters.

Cookie cutters.

Whether you have kids or you’re just a kid at heart, bring your cookie cutter collection into your weekend breakfast routine. Cookie cutters can help turn your morning eggs or pancakes into whatever shape you want.

Making eggs? Add a little bit of butter or oil to a pan and heat it. Place your cookie cutter into the pan and when the butter or oil is hot enough, drop your egg into the cutter. Your egg will form around the cookie cutter!

Opting for a sweeter Sunday morning brunch and making pancakes? Place your cookie cutter on your griddle or pan, the same way as the eggs, and pour your batter into the middle of the cutter.

5. Build a smoothie bowl

Smoothie bowl.

Smoothie bowl.

Since it’s the weekend and you’ve got more time to spare, one of the best weekend breakfast ideas is to pour your smoothie into a bowl (instead of a glass or to-go tumbler). Just make a thicker smoothie (adding frozen fruit will help do this) and pour it into a bowl before adding in your favorite toppings (check out the yogurt bar topping ideas).

Since it will take you longer to spoon your smoothie into your mouth (and chew your chosen toppings) than sucking it down with a straw, your morning smoothie will take a little longer to consume. Consider this your weekend moment of mindfulness!

6. Let your toaster sleep in

Toast.

Toast.When you think toast, think beyond your toaster. Since it’s the weekend and you have a little more time, move past spreading butter on a piece of bread and calling it a meal. Opt for making hearty toast that will keep you full for hours.

Simply heat a slice or two of your favorite bread in a skillet over medium heat. Don’t worry about putting butter or oil down — the bread will toast directly on the pan. Leave each side down for about 2 minutes.

Need inspiration beyond your plain avocado toast? Any of these weekend breakfast ideas will do:

  • Hummus — topped with mushrooms, garlic, crushed red pepper and sage
  • Smashed avocado, chickpeas and crushed red pepper
  • Shaved pears layered on top of whipped ricotta and honey
  • Peanut butter (or any type of nut butter you prefer) topped with bananas and honey — you can even add granola, nuts or the seeds of your choice!
  • Open-faced BLT — Egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato, add hot sauce for spice or avocado
  • Smashed avocado with pistachios and honey — add granola or seeds if you’re feeling extra crunchy!
  • White cheddar, avocado, strawberry and sea salt. If you’re feeling extra, drizzle a teaspoon of honey on top of your toast!
  • Smashed avocado, corn, cotija cheese and pickled red onions. Splash some hot sauce on this to kick up the flavor!
  • Watermelon radish on top of smashed avocado, topped with sesame seeds or Everything But The Bagel seasoning
  • Sliced apples on top of almond butter, add a drizzle of honey
  • Avocado drenched in cottage cheese and pesto with pine nuts to top it off

7. Turn weekend brunch into a cocktail hourBloody mary.Bloody mary.

Say cheers to the weekend with an adult beverage or two! Instead of paying top dollar for a breakfast cocktail, make your own at home. Try these brunch menu favs:

  • Bellini: A sweet effervescent drink with peach puree and prosecco.
  • Bloody Mary: Tomato juice and vodka are the base of the ever-popular Bloody Mary, but don’t forget the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, hot sauce, horseradish, lemon and lime juice, fresh herbs and a celery stick. Popular garnishes to include:
    • Asparagus
    • Bacon
    • Cheese cubes
    • Crab legs
    • Cucumbers
    • Jalapenos
    • Peppers
    • Pepperoncini
    • Pickles
    • Okra
    • Radishes
    • Shrimp
  • French 75: A spritely and refreshing cocktail made of gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar.
  • Irish Coffee: Upgrade your coffee with Irish whiskey, sugar and whipped cream.
  • Kir Royal: A red-hued cocktail, this drink features champagne and creme de cassis.
  • Mimosa: A classic — mix chilled juice (orange juice is the traditional go-to, but you can use any type of juice) and champagne.

8. Make your breakfast the night beforeStratta.Stratta.

One of the best weekend breakfast ideas is to simply make your breakfast the night before…or at least prep so the most you have to do is pop it into the oven and bake.

Making a breakfast dish ahead allows you to sleep in later and enjoy the fruits of your labor with little effort the next day. Here are some options:

  • Breakfast burritos
  • Breakfast polenta dishes
  • Egg casseroles
  • Egg muffins
  • French toast
  • Frittatas
  • Hash brown casseroles
  • Homemade muesli
  • Homemade nut bars
  • Latkes
  • Muffins
  • Overnight oats
  • Slow cooker oatmeal
  • Smoothie kits
  • Strattas

9. Pay attention to the details

Pancakes served in bed.

Pancakes served in bed.

“There are lots of simple and fun ways to elevate your home brunch,” says Liz McCray from Bloody Mary Obsessed. “Infuse vodka with jalapeños for a spicy addition to a Bloody Mary or use fresh or frozen fruit to make from scratch juices for your mimosas!”

Additionally, Liz says, “Small splurges like chocolate chips in your pancakes or using a fluffy and buttery brioche bread for French toast will up-level your home brunch game. Grab a bouquet of fresh flowers from the farmers market or Trader Joe’s as a centerpiece and you’ve got an elevated home brunch!”

10. Eat like a chef

Breakfast tacos.

Breakfast tacos.

According to California Bay Area chef Garrett Adair, “If you want to eat like a chef, there’s one thing to make — breakfast tacos.”

You heard the professional. Plan to make breakfast tacos this week — here’s what you’ll need:

  • Eggs: Fried or scrambled, however you prefer.
  • Beans: Refried beans are perfect for breakfast tacos, but black or pinto beans work well, too.
  • Cheese: Cheddar cheese or cotija will do the trick.
  • Avocado: Slice it, smash it or make some guacamole.
  • Salsa or hot sauce: Pick your favorite and splash it on.
  • Tortillas: Corn or flour

If you want a heavier breakfast taco, feel free to add your favorite meat. Chorizo, chicken and steak also make excellent breakfast taco toppings.

Bon appétit!

Whether you live for savory breakfast dishes or a sweeter morning snack, there are plenty of delicious and easy-at-home weekend breakfast ideas to try. So, next time you look for brunch reservations — just stay in your pajamas and treat yourself (if you’re feeling generous, your friends, too) instead!

Source: rent.com

5 Best Esports Stocks to Buy in 2022

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

According to Grand View Research, the esports and gaming industry is growing rapidly. By the year 2027, it will be worth around $6.82 billion after enjoying a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 24%. 

Many esports and gaming enthusiasts who are looking for ways to exploit the stock market for financial freedom are starting to make investments. These investors know which companies in the space are the top dogs. The fact that most people enjoy video games makes research far less daunting when investing in esports than in other, less sexy industries like utilities. 

But with so many esports and gaming companies out there to choose from, how do you choose the best companies in the space to invest in? Here are some top stocks to consider.

Best Esports Stocks to Buy in 2022

The esports and gaming industry is booming, with much of the growth being a side effect from the recent pandemic. When COVID-19 took hold around the world, traditional sports halted, and consumers were looking for things to do while under lockdown orders. 

During this time, esports viewership grew rapidly. According to Statista, the growth in gaming interest is likely to continue. 

During the pandemic, those who were into video games had nothing better to do, and many who wouldn’t have considered playing them in the past found themselves picking up the controls and immersing themselves in the gaming ecosystem. 

Now, with a whole new wave of consumers in gaming and a growing esports audience, it’s time for the big players in the industry to capitalize. 

What stocks give you the biggest opportunities in the industry? Below you’ll find my top five picks, all of which are great options to consider.

1. Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI)

You Can’t Talk About Gaming Without Mentioning Activision Blizzard

  • Market Cap: Activision Blizzard is one of the largest gaming companies in the world, trading with a market cap of more than $54.5 billion. 
  • Earnings History: The company has a strong history of beating analyst expectations in terms of earnings, which it has done for the past four consecutive quarters. All told, the company has produced an average positive earnings surprise of over 9%. 
  • Dividend Yield: The current dividend yield on the stock is 0.67%. Over the past five years, the dividend yield on the stock has ranged from 0% to 0.88%, averaging 0.57%. 

Many who follow the esports and gaming industry closely will be surprised to see Activision Blizzard on this list, considering the wave of blues that has hit the company and the stock. To address the elephant in the room, the stock has recently seen a dramatic decline as a result of delays in the launches of Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV, leading analysts to downgrade the stock. 

On top of the delays, the company has been dealing with a PR nightmare after an employee walkout resulting from management’s tone-deaf response to allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment. Additionally, co-head Jen Oneal stepped down after a short run in the leadership role that began in August 2021. 

Nonetheless, there’s a strong probability that a significant undervaluation in the stock exists. 

The company is the owner of several esports leagues, hosting several esports events per year. Keep in mind, we’re talking about the company behind Call of Duty and Overwatch, two of the most popular video games ever made and the center of some of the most popular esports tournaments in the space.  

Although delays and discrimination are concerning, the stock has been thoroughly hammered, falling more than 32% from its highs in February. 

Keep in mind that these declines have happened even in the face of gains in revenue and earnings, and consistent earnings beats quarter after quarter. 

The bottom line is that even though the company is shrouded in bad press at the moment, general consumers and esports teams alike consider the company’s games to be legendary. 

Moreover, the biggest declines were seen shortly after the company announced delays in the launches of Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV. However, delays in game launches have become more commonplace these days, as the world’s leading producers of video games have begun focusing more on launching polished games free of glitches rather than rushing to market and patching bugs later. 

All told, there’s no question that Activision Blizzard will bounce back. The only real question is when it will happen. When it does, those who own the stock will be grinning from ear to ear. 


2. Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA)

Leader in Sports Gaming With Massive Franchises 

  • Market Cap: EA is another of the world’s largest esports and gaming companies, trading with a market cap of nearly $40 billion.  
  • Earnings History: EA has produced stellar earnings over the past four consecutive quarters, beating analyst expectations each step of the way. Over the past year, the average quarterly earnings surprise has been 18.7%. 
  • Dividend Yield: Like many others in the gaming and esports space, Electronic Arts currently pays no dividend. 

While Electronic Arts had its ups and downs throughout 2021, the stock has remained relatively flat, gaining less than 2% cumulatively. However, this is yet another company that many believe to be undervalued. 

Electronic Arts, better known as EA, isn’t just any game developer. It’s the developer that has signed into partnerships with the National Football League (NFL), Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and several other massive sports franchises to develop a long line of games like Madden NFL and FIFA. The company is also the publisher behind non-sports-related hits like The Sims and Apex Legends. 

In the world of competitive gaming, there are few in the esports industry that have garnered nearly as much attention as EA. Gamers from all over the world dream of competing for six-figure prizes at some of the gaming industry’s most popular tournaments hosted by the company. 

If EA’s past is any indication, there will be plenty for investors to look forward to in the future. 

One of the biggest draws for investors has to do with the company’s coming game releases. Not only have EA’s sports-related titles done incredibly well, in November 2021 the company launched Battlefield 2042, another game in its popular Battlefield franchise. Many experts expect this to be the best-selling title from the franchise to date, setting the stage for strong Q4 revenues, as the game is likely atop many holiday shopping lists. 

All told, EA is a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry, and thanks to a lackluster year of performance in the stock in 2021, a clear undervaluation is being born, setting the stage for a strong growth opportunity. 


3. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN)

Yes, Amazon is in Gaming Too

  • Market Cap: Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, currently trading with a market cap of nearly $1.8 trillion. 
  • Earnings History: Historically, the company has smashed earnings expectations, beating analyst projections in the past three out of four consecutive quarters. Even with a painful 32.75% miss in the most recent quarter, the average quarterly earnings surprise over the past year has clocked in at 38.2%. 
  • Dividend Yield: Throughout its history, Amazon hasn’t been a dividend-payer. Instead, it piles its profits back into the company in an effort to expand, and with the company being one of the largest in the world, those efforts have definitely been fruitful. 

You may be surprised to see Amazon on a list of the top gaming and esports companies, but it’s important to keep in mind that the company isn’t just an e-commerce powerhouse. It has its fingers in various areas of the tech industry as a digital conglomerate. 

The company isn’t a game publisher, although it does sell video games on its e-commerce platform. Nonetheless, the company is a key player in the gaming market even beyond its role in the retail distribution of video games.

Amazon acquired Twitch, one of the largest game-streaming platforms in the world, in August 2014. 

Twitch is a lot like YouTube. However, the big difference between the two is that while YouTube provides various types of streaming content, Twitch is a platform that focuses on streaming gameplay, giving players a way to show off their skills and esports teams a great venue for connecting with their audiences. This makes Twitch a top-pick among esports enthusiasts in terms of digital entertainment. 

However, when you purchase shares of this stock, you’re not just purchasing exposure to Twitch. You’re purchasing exposure to Amazon.com’s entire ecosystem of opportunities and enjoying the stability that comes along with investing in one of the world’s largest companies. 

At the end of the day, Amazon has grown from nothing to a dominant player in several high-value markets over the years and, by all accounts, that growth is far from over. 


4. Huya Inc. (NYSE: HUYA)

An Underdog That Could Become a Massive Winner 

  • Market Cap: Huya is the smallest company on this list by market cap, trading at an enterprise value of around $2.67 billion, and just making its way onto the large-cap playing field.  
  • Earnings History: As a smaller, newer company, Huya’s earnings have been interesting to follow. During a couple of the past four quarters, analysts didn’t even provide expectations. In the most recent quarter, analysts didn’t even expect that the company would produce a penny of profit, but it surprised investors by reporting earnings of $0.34 per share. 
  • Dividend Yield: Huya has not yet declared a dividend. 

Of all companies on this list, Huya is definitely the smallest and one of the riskiest bets. However, many argue that the stock is significantly undervalued at current levels, and I happen to agree. 

Huya was one of the pioneers in the game streaming industry in China and has quickly grown to become the largest game streaming platform in the region. As a result, many have compared it to Twitch, calling it the Twitch of China. 

As a game streaming service, the company plays an integral role in the esports industry in the region, connecting fans with teams and setting the stage for the next wave of Chinese esports stars. 

While what the company is doing from an operational perspective has been impressive, the idea behind the investment is more of a political bet than one aimed at the company’s operations. 

Over the past year, the Chinese government has been flexing its muscles, enacting a wide range of laws that have hampered businesses in several sectors, including gaming. As a result, investment interest in companies in the region have faded amongst fears that new laws may impact corporate earnings capabilities. 

Unfortunately, the selloff has been significant for some stocks, and Huya is one of those stocks. In the past year, the stock has given up more than 50% of its value, with no real negative catalyst to speak of. At the same time, the stock had no real reaction to the recent and dramatic earnings beat announced by the company. 

Over time, political fears in the region are likely to subside, and when this happens, the hardest-hit companies in the recent Chinese stock selloff will look like heavily discounted gold nuggets. I believe Huya falls into this class of stock. 


5. Take-Two Interactive Holdings, Inc. (TTWO)

A Growing Company with Significant Upside

  • Market Cap: Take-Two Interactive may not be the largest company on this list, but its market cap of more than $20 billion is nothing to shake a stick at.  
  • Earnings History: The company isn’t just known for beating earnings expectations, it’s known for smashing them. Over the past year, the average earnings surprise produced by the company was over 100%. 
  • Dividend Yield: Like many in the tech industry, TTWO does not pay dividends. 

Take-Two Interactive Holdings is a game developer that has had some pretty significant hits in the past. Its portfolio of companies includes game publishers like Rockstar Games, 2k, and Firaxis Games. Companies under its umbrella are the developers behind wildly popular franchises like Grand Theft Auto, BioShock, Borderlands, and Civilization, plus a wide range of other games that capture consumer attention and imagination like nothing else. 

Beyond its activities as a game developer, Take-Two is also a major player in the esports industry. The company currently owns a 50% stake in the NBA 2K League, one of the most popular esports leagues in the world. 

Unfortunately, however, 2021 wasn’t a great year for the stock. While the company smashed expectations in all earnings releases all year, the investing community seems to have shunned the stock, leading to declines of 12%. 

Nonetheless, many argue that the declines are an opportunity. The company has produced stellar revenue and earnings all year, and experts suggest more growth is on the horizon with positive guidance. 

Many investors, like Warren Buffett, have made massive amounts of money buying stocks when companies were down on their luck or the stocks were simply undervalued. What we’re seeing from Take-Two Interactive stock suggests it might be one of these opportunities. 


Consider Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

If you’re not interested in doing the research required to choose individual stocks — or simply don’t have the time or don’t know how — don’t worry. There’s another way to gain exposure to solid picks in the esports industry. 

One of the best ways is to buy into a themed exchange-traded fund (ETF) that’s centered around esports. A couple funds to look into in this category include the VanEck Video Gaming and eSports ETF (ESPO) and the Global X Video Games & Esports ETF (HERO). 

ETFs pool money from a large number of investors and use those funds to buy shares in esports companies. As the companies grow or pay dividends, the profits are enjoyed by all shareholders of the fund. 


Final Word

The esports industry is an exciting one. Whether you’re a gamer or esports enthusiast, or you don’t play games at all, it can be an incredibly lucrative investment opportunity. 

However, as is the case when investing in any sector, it’s important to do your research before risking your hard-earned money. After all, each company is unique, offering investors a different mix of opportunity and risks. 

Fortunately many people find researching gaming stocks to be fun. After all, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the companies behind the games you play, find out about upcoming titles, and potentially earn a return for doing so. 

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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

Discount Grocery Stores: Are They Worth the Savings?

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Additional Resources

Like most people, I’d rather not spend any more at the grocery store than I have to. Over the years, I’ve tried every trick in the book to save money on groceries. And the single best way I’ve found to cut my grocery bill is to shop at discount grocery stores. 

Discount grocers like Aldi and Lidl offer much lower prices than big chains like Walmart and Kroger — not just on a few products, but on nearly everything they sell. When I hit my local store, I save money on every single item on my shopping list with no extra effort.

Admittedly, discount grocery stores have their limitations. They offer a smaller selection of products than a regular grocery store, and their quality can be uncertain in some cases. Hours are often limited, and the atmosphere isn’t fancy. But the savings make it well worth it.

Types of Discount Grocery Stores

The term “discount grocery store” can refer to two types of store: salvage stores and limited-assortment stores. Both types of discount grocers offer low prices. However, their selections and the strategies they use to keep their prices low are quite different.

Salvage Stores

Salvage stores sell goods rejected or discarded by other grocery stores. They’re also known as surplus grocery stores, closeout grocery stores, bent-and-dent stores, or grocery outlet stores. Like outlet fashion stores, they sell products other stores can’t at significantly reduced prices.

Salvage Store Inventory

Salvage and outlet stores can get goods at a discount for various reasons. Their merchandise includes: 

  • Overstock. Sometimes, supermarkets find themselves with more of a product than they can sell. They sell them to a salvage retailer at a steeply reduced price to clear their shelves. The salvage store passes the savings on to its customers. 
  • Discontinued Goods. Grocery stores often need to unload merchandise they no longer want to carry. Some of these are out-of-season goods, such as Halloween candy in November. Others simply didn’t sell well.
  • Damaged Goods. Supermarket shoppers prefer food in perfect condition. Slightly damaged food, such as dented cans or ugly-looking veggies, tends to get left on the shelf. Grocers sell them to salvage stores for less fussy customers to buy.
  • Late-Dated Goods. Some of the wares on a salvage store’s shelves are approaching or even past their expiration dates. However, that doesn’t mean they’re unsafe to eat. Their quality is no longer guaranteed, but they’re still safe and often still perfectly good.
  • Unsuccessful Products. Sometimes, a company like Kraft or General Mills tests a new product or new packaging for an existing one and finds it isn’t a hit. Rather than discard the unsuccessful products, they sell them to an outlet store.
  • Wreck Salvage. A few goods at salvage stores are literally salvaged. When a truck carrying groceries gets into an accident, goods often fall off. Salvage retailers reclaim the surviving items from these wrecks and put them on their shelves.

Because salvage stores sell items recovered from larger chains, most of their offerings are name-brand products. However, these rejected products sell at much lower prices than usual. 

The selections at salvage stores aren’t limited to food, either. You can also find wine and beer, health and beauty products, cleaning supplies, and pet food. There are even some non-grocery products like garden supplies, office supplies, or clothing.

But the selection at these stores is a bit haphazard. It varies weekly based on what other retailers happen to discard. And a few products at salvage stores are unfit for consumption, such as half-rotted produce or severely dented cans.

In short, shopping at salvage stores is a bit like a treasure hunt. You can pick up some real gems, but you might have to dig through a lot of doubtful bargains to find them.

Examples of Salvage Stores

One sizable chain of salvage stores is Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. It has over 400 locations, mostly in the northwestern part of the United States. 

This chain’s offerings include fresh meat, produce, frozen foods, health and beauty products, and wines. These goods can be as much as 70% off their retail price. Items marked as “WOW deals” are particular bargains.

There are also many independent salvage stores located across the U.S. They’re especially common in Amish country. 

You can find stores near you by consulting the directory at Extreme Bargains or searching online for “discount grocer near me,” “outlet grocer near me,” or “salvage grocer near me.” 

There are also chain stores known as job-lot or liquidation stores that sell salvaged and overstock goods. They don’t specialize in groceries, but they usually have some food products for sale. One example is the Ocean State Job Lot in the Northeast.

While not identical to salvage stores, dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General are similar. Their pricing model sets these stores apart, with most inventory priced at $1.

Dollar stores don’t focus on food, although most carry some grocery items. However, they often use the same methods as salvage grocery stores to score bargains on overstock and discontinued goods.

Limited-Assortment Grocery Stores

Limited-assortment grocers are just like regular grocery stores but with a smaller selection of products. Many of them offer just one brand and size for each product they sell. The stores are smaller and need fewer employees to stock the shelves. That helps keep prices down. 

Limited-assortment stores also keep prices low by cutting out extras. For example, they typically don’t have fresh bakery, deli, or floral sections. These no-frills stores often display products right in their shipping cartons so employees spend less time stocking shelves. 

If you shop at a limited-assortment store, expect to bag your own groceries. You must also bring your own bags or pay extra for bags at some stores.

Some chains even require customers to pay a $0.25 deposit to use a grocery cart. This small fee encourages shoppers to bring the carts back rather than leaving them in the parking lot. That way, the store doesn’t have to pay employees to collect them.

Limited-Assortment Store Inventory

Limited-assortment grocery stores tend to focus heavily on their own private-label store brands. At some stores, that’s practically every product on the shelf. 

In fact, some limited-assortment stores, such as Trader Joe’s, have built a bit of a cult following around their store brands. Devoted customers regularly visit these stores for products they can’t find anywhere else.

If you’re loyal to any name brands, you probably can’t do all your grocery shopping at limited-assortment stores. But it’s worth visiting them for staple foods that are often similar regardless of brand. Examples include flour, sugar, salt, vinegar, and cooking oil.

Examples of Limited-Assortment Stores

There are many limited-assortment grocery chains in the U.S. Major ones include:

  • Aldi. This German chain has more than 2,000 stores across the U.S. Its stores are small — about one-third the size of a traditional grocery store. It sells primarily store brands, including organic, gluten-free, and European specialty food items. 
  • Dollar General. This chain has over 17,000 stores in 46 states. Many of them are in small towns and rural areas with few other stores. Its fresh food options are limited, but it has great prices on staple foods, household goods, and non-food items like clothing.
  • Food4Less. Part of the Kroger family, this chain includes about 50 stores in Southern California, Illinois, Indiana, and Nevada. Its deeply discounted selections include produce, bakery, dairy, meat, and foreign foods.
  • Lidl. This European chain entered the U.S. in 2017. It now has over 150 stores along the East Coast, from New Jersey to South Carolina. It has higher-end goods than many discount grocers, including organic products, fresh-baked goods, and affordable wines.  
  • Save A Lot. There are over 1,000 Save A Lot locations in over 30 states, many in areas with few or no other stores. Its small, no-frills locations carry primarily store brands. But it gets high marks for its inexpensive meats and fresh produce.
  • Trader Joe’s. Loyal fans flock to Trader Joe’s for its high-quality store brands. Its specialties include wine, cheese, organic foods, and goodies like cookies and frozen dumplings. The chain has over 500 locations in 43 states.
  • WinCo. This employee-owned discount chain has over 100 bare-bones stores concentrated in the western U.S. Most stores are open 24/7. One notable feature of WinCo is its use of bulk bins like the ones at Whole Foods to cut down on packaging.

How to Save Money at Discount Grocery Stores

To get the most for your grocery dollar at discount stores, you have to shop strategically. Some grocery shopping strategies are the same for both salvage and limited-assortment stores. Others are more useful for one type of store or the other.

Check the Store Hours

Many salvage stores have limited store hours, which helps keep costs down. They’re only open on certain days or hours each day.

But it’s seriously annoying — and a big waste of gas and time if the store’s far away — to plan a special trip to a closed salvage store. So always check the store hours before you go.

Confirm Coupon Policies

One of the most popular ways to save money on groceries is clipping coupons. Unfortunately, that trick doesn’t always work at discount grocery stores. Most salvage stores and many limited-assortment stores refuse manufacturer coupons.

But at the few stores that take them, such as WinCo, the savings can be significant. 

For example, suppose you have a coupon for $1.50 off a 12-ounce bag of ground coffee. At a regular grocery store, that coffee might cost $8.49. That means your price with the coupon would be $6.99.

But at a discount grocery store, you might find that same bag of coffee for as little as $3.99. With your coupon, you’d pay only $2.49. That’s less than one-third the regular retail price.

To find out whether you can score bargains like this at your local discount store, check the store’s coupon policy. If you can’t find it on the store’s website, ask a cashier.

Even if a discount store doesn’t take manufacturer coupons, it may issue its own store coupons. For instance, you can sign up for the mailing list at Grocery Outlet to get deals such as $5 off any $25 purchase. Most limited-assortment stores also offer special deals to subscribers, though Aldi and Trader Joe’s do not.

Bring Cash

Few salvage stores accept credit cards, and some limited-assortment stores follow suit. That’s because credit card issuers charge merchants a fee to use their cards. 

Most stores pass these fees on to customers through higher prices. By refusing credit cards, discount stores can keep prices lower. 

Some stores are starting to relax their no-credit policies. For instance, on my most recent trip to Aldi, I was able to pay with my credit card instead of having to use cash. But to be on the safe side, bring cash or a debit card on your first visit to any new store.

Examine Containers Carefully

At salvage stores, it’s common to encounter food in damaged packaging, such as dented cans. In most cases, the food is still safe to eat. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it’s not dangerous to eat canned food if the dents are slight.

However, if a can has a deep dent — big enough to lay your finger in — leave it on the shelf. Deep dents can compromise the seal, letting bacteria in.

The same guidelines apply to rust. A little rust on the surface that rubs right off is no problem. However, heavy rust can create tiny holes that admit bacteria.

Food in torn or dented boxes is also safe as long as the plastic bag inside the box is intact. Boxed foods with no inner liner, such as pasta, are OK if the box is only dented. But if a box is torn open to expose the food, it’s best to leave it.

Examine Fresh Produce

Fresh produce at discount grocery stores is a mixed bag. On some trips to Aldi, I’ve failed to find a single bag of potatoes without at least one that was visibly rotten. On the other hand, the bagged Brussels sprouts and miniature avocados at Trader Joe’s have never let me down.

Since quality is hard to predict, it’s best to examine all produce carefully for signs of spoilage before you put it in your cart. In fact, that’s a good policy at most grocery stores. Even at big supermarkets, I often find a couple of mushy strawberries in a quart container.

Understand Expiration Dates

Food at salvage stores is often close to or even past the expiration date on the package. But that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to eat. Dates on food are there to assure food quality, not food safety. 

There are several different types of expiration dates, each with its own meaning:

  • Best if Used By means the flavor or quality of the food is best before the given date. Past this date, crackers might be a bit stale, or powdered milk might have an off-taste.
  • Sell-By dates tell stores how long to keep the product on their shelves. Food is still good up to this date and for several days after. For example, milk doesn’t go sour until five to seven days past its sell-by date.
  • Use-By dates tell consumers when the product will be at peak quality. They’re not an indication of safety for most products. The only product it’s unsafe to buy or use after its use-by date is baby formula.

Most products, including canned and frozen foods, are still safe after any of these expiration dates. The only time frozen food might be unsafe is if it has been thawed and refrozen. If the freezers at the store have puddles around them or don’t feel cold everywhere, pass them by.

There’s one non-food product on which dates are important: over-the-counter drugs. According to the Food and Drug Administration, drugs degrade over time. Any medicine past its expiration date may be unsafe or ineffective.

Know How to Spot a Good Deal

Although discount grocery stores generally offer low prices, they’re not always the lowest possible. Sometimes, you can do better at a regular grocery store by buying store brands or stacking sales with coupons.

The best way to spot the true deals is to keep a grocery price book. It’s simply a record of the prices you typically pay for the grocery items you buy most often.

For instance, the page for peanut butter in my price book tells me that the best price I can usually get is $2.85 per pound at Costco. So if I go to a discount store and see peanut butter for only $2 per pound, I know it’s time to stock up.

Consider All Brands

Salvage stores have a wide variety of brands on the shelves. Some are familiar name brands you know and love, like Campbell’s or Coca-Cola. When you find these, you can take the opportunity to stock up on your favorites.

But these name brands aren’t always available. Often, they carry off-brands you’ve never heard of before, like Banquet mayonnaise or Finest refried beans.

Similarly, when you shop at limited-assortment stores, there are very few name-brand products for sale. Most of the offerings are store brands, though they don’t always have the store’s name.

For instance, Aldi calls its cereals Millville and its snack foods Clancy’s. Save A Lot names its store brands after former employees, like McDaniel’s coffee and Sunny’s cookies.

Don’t discount these brands just because they’re unfamiliar. Some of them are just as tasty as the name brands you’re used to. But you can’t be sure until you try them.

To be on the safe side, buy the smallest package the first time you try an unfamiliar brand. If you like it, you can stock up on it next time. And if not, you haven’t wasted much money.

Stock Up When Appropriate

Discount grocery stores are great places to stock up on goods you use a lot. Even if you can’t use something right away, it makes sense to buy plenty, especially at salvage stores. Their stock is ever-changing, so the product might not be there the next time you shop.

But stocking up only makes sense for nonperishable goods or those you know you can use before they go bad. There’s no point in buying six avocados if four of them are going to turn black before you eat them.

The best products to stock up on are canned foods, shelf-stable foods, and produce with a long shelf life. Potatoes, onions, and garlic can all last a long time if you store them in a cool, dry place. Frozen foods are also a good choice if you have a big enough freezer to store them all.


Final Word

If you don’t like the offerings at one local discount store, don’t let that put you off the idea altogether. Each discount grocery store is different. If you don’t like the store brands at Aldi, maybe you’ll prefer the ones at Save A Lot.

Also, remember that the selection at salvage stores changes frequently. If you didn’t find anything you liked at your local store the first time, it’s still worth going back to see if it has anything better next time.

Shopping at discount grocery stores requires an open mind. The brand names aren’t as familiar, and the packaging isn’t as pretty. But if you’re willing to take a little extra time, these stores offer a way to save money every time you grocery shop.

For more tips on saving at the grocery store, check out our shopping archive.

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Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Guide to Discover it Cash Back rewards and benefits

The Discover it® Cash Back credit card is one of only a handful of credit cards offering rotating category rewards. When you combine this card’s generous cash back opportunities with its other benefits and perks, the Discover it Cash Back card offers big value for no annual fee.

To start with, Discover it Cash Back offers 5% cash back on popular shopping categories that rotate every quarter, for up to $1,500 in combined bonus category purchases per quarter. All other purchases receive 1% cash back. If you manage to max out those 5% categories, you can earn up to $300 in cash back just in rotating-category purchases.

What’s more, this card offers a unique opportunity to double that haul in your first year. Discover’s Cashback Match doubles all the cash back you earn in your first 12 months as a cardholder. So if you max out your 5% categories your first year – charging $1,500 per quarter in each category – you could potentially earn $600 in cash back.

All this makes Discover it one of the best cash back cards on the market. But cash back rewards aren’t the only benefits. Here’s a guide to everything the Discover it Cash Back credit card has to offer, including how to make the most of your Discover it Cash Back bonus category rewards.

How to maximize Discover it 5% categories

If you want to maximize your Discover it Cash Back rewards, you need to know how to take advantage of your 5% bonus cash back categories.

Start by planning ahead. If you know wholesale clubs will be one of the next quarter’s 5% bonus categories, for example, you can start thinking about what purchases you might want to make in the next quarter to max out your 5% cash back bonus. Maybe it’s time to stock up on paper towels, fill your freezer with groceries or buy that outdoor camping equipment you’ve been wanting.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of how close you are to hitting your $1,500 quarterly maximum. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you think you’re going to earn 5% cash back on a big purchase, only to find you’ve already spent $1,500 on your bonus categories that quarter.

Want to get the most out of your Discover it Cash Back rewards? Have a strategy. The more you know about which 5% cash back categories are coming up, how much you’ve spent on your current 5% categories and how close you are to hitting that $1,500 quarterly maximum, the better off you’ll be.

2022 Discover it Cash Back calendar

Discover announces its quarterly bonus categories at the beginning of every year. Here’s the 2022 Discover it Cash Back calendar. These categories are pretty consistent year to year. As you can see, the 5% opportunities for Q1 include purchases at grocery stores and fitness clubs, as well as gym memberships.

Quarter Bonus categories
Winter (January – March)
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gym memberships
Spring (April – June)
  • Gas stations
  • Target
Summer (July – September)
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
Holiday (October – December)
  • Amazon.com
  • Digital wallets

Remember to activate

Before you can start earning 5% cash back rewards, you need to activate your quarterly bonus categories. It’s easy to do. Just log in to your online account or mobile app and follow the instructions to activate. Discover will even send you a one-click activation email, with no log-in required, to make the activation process as simple as possible.

Keep in mind you won’t be able to start earning 5% cash back on your quarterly bonus categories until you activate them. This means if you buy a gym membership on Jan. 2 but don’t activate your holiday quarter categories until Jan. 15, you won’t earn 5% cash back on that Jan. 1 gym membership purchase. Instead, you’ll only earn 1% cash back – which is why it’s important to activate your bonus categories as soon as possible.

Best ways to redeem Discover it rewards

Want to redeem your Discover it cash back rewards? Discover gives you plenty of options – whether you turn your rewards into a statement credit, use your rewards when you check out with Amazon.com or PayPal or give them to a good cause by making a charitable donation.

Plus, Discover recently allowed cardholders to automatically convert their cash back rewards into statement credits, which means you no longer need to worry about remembering to redeem your rewards. Instead, Discover will automatically apply your cash back rewards to your next credit card bill. You can request that Discover always apply the full amount of your cash back rewards to your credit card bill, or designate a certain dollar amount to be converted into a statement credit – your choice.

Take advantage of Discover it benefits

In addition to offering top-level cash back rewards, the Discover it Cash Back credit card offers a number of other benefits. Here’s what you need to know to take advantage of every credit-building, debt-reducing and fraud-preventing feature that comes with your card.

FICO scores

Want to check your credit score for free? Discover’s Credit Scorecard offers free access to your FICO credit score, giving you the opportunity to track and improve one of the most important metrics associated with your credit.

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In most cases, you’ll need good or excellent credit before your Discover it Cash Back application will be approved. If your credit is currently falling a little short, there are some steps you can take to improve your credit score quickly.

0% balance transfers

One of the best ways to improve your credit score is by paying off old debt – and one of the best ways to pay off old debt is by using a balance transfer credit card. The Discover it Cash Back card offers 14 months of 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, making it an excellent tool to help you pay off old credit card balances without worrying about interest charges.

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Identity freeze

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Discover’s Freeze it feature allows you to freeze and unfreeze your credit card through your online account or mobile app. Once your credit card is frozen, new transactions (including cash advances and balance transfers) will not be processed – but recurring transactions, such as payments to subscription services, will still go through. That way, you can protect yourself from credit card fraud without losing any of the automatic payments you’ve set up.

Bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back card offers cardholders everything from 5% cash back on everyday purchases to 14 months of 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. When you add up all of the rewards and benefits associated with Discover it Cash Back, it’s easy to see why this is one of the top rewards credit cards on the market.

Source: creditcards.com

Understanding Economic Indicators

An economic indicator is a statistic or piece of data that offers insight into an economy. Analysts use economic indicators to gauge where an economic system is in the present moment, and where it might head next.

Governments use economic indicators as guideposts when assessing monetary or fiscal policies, and corporations use them to make business decisions. Individual investors can also look to these indicators as they shape their portfolios.

There are different types of economic indicators and understanding how they work can make it easier to interpret them.

What Is an Economic Indicator?

An economic indicator is typically a macroeconomic data point, statistic, or metric used to analyze the health of an individual economy or the global economy at large. Government agencies, universities, and independent organizations can collect and organize economic indicator data. In the United States, the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are some of the entities that aggregate economic indicator data.

Some of the most recognizable economic indicators examples include:

•   Gross domestic product (GDP)

•   Personal income and real earnings

•   International trade in goods and services

•   U.S. import and expert prices

•   Consumer prices (as measured by the Consumer Price Index or CPI)

•   New residential home sales

•   New home construction

•   Rental vacancy rates

•   Home ownership rates

•   Business inventories

•   Unemployment rates

•   Consumer confidence

Private organizations also regularly collect and share economic data investors and economists may use as indicators. Examples of these indicators include the Fear and Greed Index, existing home sales, and the index of leading economic indicators.

Together, these indicators can provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the economy and shine light on potential opportunities for investors.

How Economic Indicators Work

Economic indicators work by measuring a specific component of the economy over a set time period. An indicator may tell you what patterns are emerging in the economy — or confirm the presence of patterns already believed to be established. In that sense, these indicators can serve as a thermometer of sorts for gauging the temperature of the economic environment or where an economy is in a given economic cycle.

Economic indicators can not predict future economic or market movements with 100% accuracy. But they can be useful when attempting to identify signals about which way the economy (and the markets) might head next.

For example, an investor may study an economic indicator like consumer prices when gauging whether inflation is increasing or decreasing. If the signs point to a steady rise in prices, the investor might then adjust their portfolio to account for higher inflation. As prices rise, purchasing power declines but investors who are conscious of this economic indicator could take action to minimize negative side effects.

Recommended: How to Invest and Profit During Inflation

Types of Economic Indicators

Economic indicators are not all alike in terms of what they measure and how they do it. Different types of economic indicators can provide valuable information about the state of an economy. Broadly speaking, they can be grouped into one of three categories: Leading, lagging, or coincident.

Leading Indicators

Leading indicators are the closest thing you might get to a crystal ball when studying the markets. These indicators pinpoint changes in economic factors that may precede specific trends.

Examples of leading indicators include:

•   Consumer confidence and sentiment

•   Jobless claims

•   Movements in the yield curve

•   Stock market volatility

A leading indicator doesn’t guarantee that a particular trend will take shape, but it does suggest that conditions are ripe for it to do so.

Lagging Indicators

Lagging indicators are the opposite of leading indicators. These economic indicators are backward-looking and highlight economic movements after the fact.

Examples of lagging indicators include:

•   Gross national product (GNP)

•   Unemployment rates

•   Consumer prices

•   Corporate profits

Analysts look at lagging indicators to determine whether an economic pattern has been established, though not whether that pattern is likely to continue.

Coincident Indicators

Coincident indicators measure economic activity for a particular area or region. Examples of coincident indicators include:

•   Retail sales

•   Employment rates

•   Real earnings

•   Gross domestic product

These indicators reflect economic changes at the same time that they occur. So they can be useful for studying real-time trends or patterns.

Popular Economic Indicators

There are numerous economic indicators the economists, analysts, institutional and retail investors use to better understand the market and the direction in which the economy may move. The Census Bureau, for example, aggregates data for more than a dozen indicators. But investors tend to study some indicators more closely than others. Here are some of the most popular economic indicators and what they can tell you as an investor.

Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product represents the inflation-adjusted value of goods and services produced in the United States. This economic indicator offers a comprehensive view of the country’s economic activity and output. Specifically, gross domestic product can tell you:

•   How fast an economy is growing

•   Which industries are growing (or declining)

•   How the economic activity of individual states compares

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates GDP for the country, individual states and for U.S. territories. The government uses GDP numbers to establish spending and tax policy, as well as monetary policy, at the federal levels. States also use gross domestic product numbers in financial decision-making.

Consumer Price Index

The Consumer Price Index or CPI measures the change in price of goods and services consumed by urban households. The types of goods and services the CPI tracks include:

•   Food and beverages

•   Housing

•   Apparel

•   Transportation

•   Medical care

•   Recreation

•   Education

•   Communications

CPI data comes from 75 urban areas throughout the country and approximately 23,000 retailers and service providers. This economic indicator is the most widely used tool for measuring inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles the consumer price index, it’s a way to measure a government’s effectiveness in managing economic policy.

Producer Price Index

The Producer Price Index or PPI measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers of goods and services. In simpler terms, this metric measures wholesale prices for the sectors of the economy that produce goods, including:

•   Mining

•   Manufacturing

•   Agriculture

•   Fishing

•   Forestry

•   Construction

•   Natural gas and electricity

The Producer Price Index can help analysts estimate inflation, as higher prices will show up on the wholesale level first before they get passed on to consumers at the retail level.

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is an economic indicator that tells you the number of people currently unemployed and looking for work. The BLS provides monthly updates on the unemployment rate and nonfarm payroll jobs. Together, the unemployment rate and the number of jobs added or lost each month can indicate the state of the economy.

Higher unemployment, for example, generally means that the economy isn’t creating enough jobs to meet the demand by job seekers. When the number of nonfarm payroll jobs added for the month exceeds expectations, on the other hand, that can send a positive signal that the economy is growing.

Consumer Confidence

The Consumer Confidence Index can provide insight into future economic developments, based on how households are spending and saving money today. This indicator measures how households perceive the economy as a whole and how they view their own personal financial situations, based on the answers they provide to specific questions.

When the indicator is above 100, this suggests consumers have a confident economic outlook, which may make them more inclined to spend and less inclined to save. When the indicator is below 100, the mood is more pessimistic and consumers may begin to curb spending in favor of saving.

The Consumer Confidence Index is separate from the Consumer Sentiment Index, which is also used to gauge how Americans feel about the economy. This index also uses a survey format and can tell you how optimistic or pessimistic households are and what they perceive to be the biggest economic challenges at the moment.

Retail Sales

Retail sales are one of the most popular economic indicators for judging consumer activity. This indicator measures retail trade from month to month. When retail sales are higher, consumers are spending more money. If more spending improves company profits, that could translate to greater investor confidence in those companies, which may drive higher stock prices.

On the other hand, when retail sales lag behind expectations the opposite can happen. When a holiday shopping season proves underwhelming, for example, that can shrink company profits and potentially cause stock prices to drop.

Housing Starts

Census Bureau compiles data on housing starts. This economic indicator can tell you at a glance how many new home construction projects in a given month. This data is collected for single-family homes and multi-family units.

Housing starts can be useful as an economic indicator because they give you a sense of whether the economy is growing or shrinking. In an economic boom, it’s not uncommon to see high figures for new construction. If the boom goes bust, however, new home start activity may dry up.

It’s important to remember that housing starts strongly correlate to mortgage interest rates. If mortgage rates rise in reaction to a change in monetary policy, housing starts may falter, which makes this economic indicator more volatile than others.

Interest Rates

Federal interest rates are an important economic indicator because of the way they’re used to shape monetary policy. The Federal Reserve makes adjustments to the federal funds rate — which is the rate at which commercial banks borrow from one another overnight–based on what’s happening with the economy overall. These adjustments then trickle down to the interest rates banks charge for loans or pay to savers.

For example, when inflation is rising or the economy is growing too quickly, the Fed may choose to raise interest rates. This can have a cooling effect, since borrowing automatically becomes more expensive. Savers can benefit, however, from earning higher rates on deposits.

On the other hand, the Fed may lower rates when the economy is sluggish to encourage borrowing and spending. Low rates make loans less expensive, potentially encouraging consumers to borrow for big-ticket items like homes, vehicles, or home improvements. Consumer spending and borrowing can help to stimulate the economy.

Stock Market

The stock market and the economy are not the same. But some analysts view stock price and trading volume as a leading indicator of economic activity. For example, investors look forward to earnings reports as an indicator of a company’s financial strength and health. They use this information about both individual companies and the markets as a whole to make strategic investment decisions.

If a single company’s earnings report is above or below expectations, that alone doesn’t necessarily suggest where the economy might be headed. But if numerous companies produce earnings reports that are similar, in terms of meeting or beating expectations, that could indicate an economic trend.

If multiple companies come in below earnings expectations, for example, that could hint at not only lower market returns but also a coming recession. On the other hand, if the majority of companies are beating earnings expectations by a mile, that could signal a thriving economy.

The Takeaway

Economic indicators can provide a significant amount of insight into the economy and the trends that shape the markets. Having a basic understanding of the different types of economic indicators could give you an edge if you’re better able to anticipate market movements when you start investing.

You can use these indicators to help shape your investing strategy. One way to get started building a portfolio is by opening an online brokerage account on the SoFi Invest trading platform, which you can use to trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), cryptocurrency and even IPOs.

Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade


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Source: sofi.com