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

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

How escrow works

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

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

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

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

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

How much does escrow cost?

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

The earnest money deposit

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

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

Can you borrow earnest money from your lender?

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

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

How escrow protects you during the real estate buying process

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

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

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

What is an escrow account on a mortgage account?

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

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

Source: realtor.com

How to Sell a Car You Still Have a Loan On

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

How to Sell a Car You Still Owe Money On

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

1.    Gather important info.

2.    Determine if you have positive or negative equity.

3.    Pick a selling option.

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

Gather Important Info

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

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

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

Recommended: 31 Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance

Determine If You Have Positive or Negative Equity

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

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

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

Pick a Selling Option

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

•   Selling it to a used car dealership.

•   Selling it privately to another person.

•   Trading it in.

Selling a Car to a Used Car Dealership

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

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

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

Recommended: Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

Selling a Car Privately

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

Steps to take include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

Trading In a Car You Still Owe Money On

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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

Photo credit: iStock/Sakkawokkie

SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.
SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.

Source: sofi.com

Stock Market Today: Inflation Data, Fed Minutes Fail to Budge Dow Much

Investors bored by a drought of news earlier this week had their prayers answered Wednesday with a mess of headlines – yet none of it really gave the market much impetus.

Today’s early headline was September’s CPI reading, which showed a 5.4% year-over-year in consumer prices that was slightly hotter than the 5.3% expected. 

“Some of the transitory components are already moderating, such as airlines, apparels, and used autos. Disruptions due to supply chains not being able to keep up with the spike in demand may take longer but will eventually be fixed,” says Anu Gaggar, Global Investment Strategist for Commonwealth Financial Network. “However, higher rents and wages could prove to be stickier and eat into corporate margins.”

BofA Global Research similarly warns about non-transitory risks. “While one month does not make a trend, this is an early signal of stronger persistent inflation pressures materializing, ultimately supporting continued above-target inflation over the medium term,” a team of BofA economists says.

Later Wednesday, minutes of the Sept. 21-22 Federal Reserve meeting showed that it could begin a “gradual tapering process” starting as early as mid-November and ending by mid-2022.

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“In our view, the bar to get moving on asset purchase tapering is very low for the Fed, and in terms of the likely composition of tapering, there appears to be considerable agreement,” says Bob Miller, BlackRock’s head of Americas Fundamental Fixed Income. “Indeed, we already had the impression in July that the reduction in Treasury securities and MBS would occur at the same time, and assuming a November to June 2022 tapering timeline, this would imply a $15 billion reduction in the purchase pace per month, or a faster meeting-by-meeting adjustment schedule.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered a marginal loss to 34,377. The S&P 500 fared a bit better, up 0.3% to 4,363, while the Nasdaq Composite closed 0.7% higher to 14,571.

Financials (-0.6%) were Wednesday’s worst sector. The Dow’s performance was hampered by declines in components American Express (AXP, -3.5%), Visa (V, -0.7%) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM, -2.6%) – the latter of which fell despite announcing Street-beating revenues and profits to kick off the Q3 earnings season.

“JPM’s pullback today in the face of a fairly positive earnings report does not suggest optimism for banks reporting through the remainder of this week,” says David Keller, chief market strategist at StockCharts.com. 

Speaking to the charts, Keller adds, “After peaking just above $170, the stock has now rotated below $165 yet again, completing a ‘failed breakout’ pattern that implies a lack of investor confidence. I would expect further backing and filling for stocks like JPM before any further upside is likely.”

Stock chart of JPMorgan Chase (JPM)Stock chart of JPMorgan Chase (JPM)

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 climbed 0.3% to 2,241.
  • BlackRock (BLK, +3.8%) shares enjoyed a post-earnings lift today. In the third quarter, the world’s largest asset manager – with $9.46 trillion in assets under management – reported earnings of $10.95 per share on $5 billion in revenues. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings per share of $9.35 on $4.9 billion in revenues. CFRA analyst Catherine Seifert kept her Strong Buy rating on BlackRock: “Despite some tough year-to-year comparisons, we view BLK as a best-in-class asset manager with above-peer growth and profitability metrics set to support the shares’ above-peer valuation,” she says.
  • Delta Air Lines (DAL, -5.8%) was also in focus after earnings. While the airline reported higher-than-expected adjusted profits of 30 cents per share on $9.15 billion in revenues, its results were still below 2019 levels. DAL also warned that higher fuel costs could weigh on its bottom line in the current quarter. Nevertheless, CFRA analyst Colin Scarola maintained his Strong Buy rating on Delta. “The current stock sell-off is hyperfocused on today’s challenges (high oil prices and limited business and international travel), but investors will be better served to think about a year from now, by which time we expect lower fuel prices and a near full recovery for business/international,” he wrote in a note.
  • U.S. crude futures shed 0.2% to end at $80.44 per barrel, snapping a five-day winning streak.
  • Gold futures gained 2% to settle at $1,794.70 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined 6.8% to 18.50.
  • Bitcoin prices firmed up by 3.6% to $57,272.90. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
stock chart for 101321stock chart for 101321

What’s in Your 401(k)?

If you’re like many workplace savers, you might have checked what funds you were holding once, and only once – when you started contributing to your 401(k) and set your initial allocations.

If that sounds like you, consider taking a fresh look, for any number of reasons. Your investment goals might have changed. You might be due for a rebalancing. Or you simply might understand your investment options better now. Importantly, you don’t have to go it alone.

Kiplinger has begun its annual look at the market’s most popular 401(k) funds – a list of 100 products that are commonly found in company 401(k) plans nationwide. And naturally, we’ve started this year’s exploration with one of the most popular names among thrifty investors: Vanguard.

Vanguard funds account for a whopping one-third of the 401(k) world’s top products, so chances are your plan offers up at least a couple of its funds. We look at each of the fund provider’s actively managed and target-date products that rank in the 100 most popular 401(k) funds, rating them Buy, Hold or Sell – and explaining what you get out of each one.

Source: kiplinger.com

The Cost of Living in Reno

With tons of outdoor adventure activities just a short drive away, beautiful scenery all around and manageable traffic, Reno, NV is a great place to live. The overall cost of living is slightly above average — but does it fit into your budget?

Reno is a smaller city with 246,500 residents. Many who live here like that it’s a small city with big-city amenities. They don’t have to worry as much about crime and traffic, but they still get to enjoy amazing restaurants, exciting events and some of the best shopping in the country.

Plus, for those who love a desert climate, Reno is ideal. It’s warm most of the year and, though there isn’t a drastic change from season to season, the spring wildflowers are a sight to behold.

The cost of living in Reno is above the national average by 8.3 percent, a 4.5 percent drop since last year. That’s awesome news for residents, especially when considering the average rent in Reno. But rent isn’t the only thing you have to consider when deciding whether a city is right for you or not. We dig deep into what makes up the cost of living in a city so you can see whether Reno is the best choice when it’s time for a move.

Townhouses in Reno, NV

Townhouses in Reno, NV

Housing costs in Reno

The housing market in Reno is not for the faint of heart. Just in the last year, the average rent in Reno increased by 63 percent to $2,353 per month. Overall, the cost of housing in this city is higher than the national average by 28.8 percent.

While there are a few neighborhoods that are even pricier (like South Meadows, where the average rent is $3,101), there are some more affordable options. If you’re looking for something under $2,000 per month, the following neighborhoods might fit your needs nicely.

You can even find rentals in Downtown Reno that can fit your budget (average = $1,811) and keep the cost of living in Reno lower than average.

Average rent prices in cities near Reno

Another way to find affordable rent in Nevada is to look at rental properties in the suburbs of Reno or other nearby cities. Here are a few cities with rent prices that can keep your cost-of-living expenses low.

Home prices in Reno

If you truly want to live the American Dream, then at some point you’ll want to consider owning your own home. Is Reno the right city for you to do that? Perhaps. The average cost of a home on the market right now is $500,000.

Housing prices are up in this city by nearly 18 percent from last year. The housing market is somewhat competitive with some homes receiving multiple offers. The average home sells for between 2 and 5 percent above the asking price. Homes typically sell between 5 and 20 days after they’re listed.

How do mortgage payments compare to the average rent in Reno? As a reminder, the average rent is $2,353. If you put $50,000 down on a $500,000 home, you’ll pay $2,850 per month (4.25 percent interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage). If you put $100,000 down (the often-recommended 20 percent down payment), you’ll pay $2,343 each month.

Food in Reno, NV

Food in Reno, NV

Food costs in Reno

Another factor that can significantly drive up the cost of living in Reno is food. Whether you like to eat out a lot or prefer to stay home and cook, you’ll still end up paying about 7.6 more than the national average. Fortunately, food prices fell 6.3 percent over the past year.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the prices you can expect at the grocery store and how they compare to the U.S. average.

  • Fried chicken: $1.23 in Reno; $1.32 – national average
  • Tuna: $1.00 in Reno; $0.99 – national average
  • A dozen eggs: $1.80 in Reno; $1.47 – national average
  • Half-gallon of milk: $3.04 in Reno; $2.10 – national average
  • Sausage: $4.24 in Reno; $4.09 – national average
  • Ground beef: $5.56 in Reno; $4.10 – national average

The average cost of a meal out (for one person) is approximately $17, though some restaurants (like Fourk Kitchen can cost $19 per person, not including beer or wine). And if you’re like most people, you’ll probably eat out somewhat regularly — both for fun and for convenience. You’re in luck because Reno has some amazing restaurants. You’ll find cuisine of all sorts including Mexican, Thai, German, Eastern European, Italian, French, Northern Californian, Korean, Chinese and Farm-to-Table.

Of course, it’s important to remember that if you’re living on a budget (and really, who isn’t?), you might have to limit how often you eat out if you’re paying the average rent in Reno. The combination of higher grocery prices and the convenience prices of someone else cooking for you can quickly cause the cost of living in Reno to spike.

Utility costs in Reno

One area in which the cost of living in Reno is below the national average is utility costs. On average, utility bills are 17.2 percent cheaper.

The average monthly energy bill in Reno is $160.97, which is about 0.14 percent lower than the U.S. average. Other utility costs include:

  • Internet: Average plan price is $63.30
  • Cable: Prices are dependent on the provider and plan you choose but costs range from $39 to 65 per month
  • Cell phone service: Prices depend on which provider and plan you choose but range between $39 and $90 per month
  • Water: Again, rates vary on usage, but the average is $70.39 per month

Additional utility costs include garbage and recycling pick-up and home security.

Reno, Nevada highway

Reno, Nevada highway

Transportation costs in Reno

The transit and walkability scores in Reno (34 and 52, respectively) aren’t great. But the bike score (59), due to existing bike infrastructure, proves that the city is above-average for folks who like to get around on a bike. And that can help residents save some money on the cost of living in Reno.

However, a bike isn’t suitable for every errand, so you might need to decide between using RTC Ride, Reno’s public transit system and owning a vehicle.

RTC Ride’s single fair is $2, while a day pass is $3. You can purchase a 7-day or 31-day pass for $14.50 and $65, respectively.

If you decide to own a vehicle, you’ll have to factor fuel, maintenance, registration and insurance fees into the cost of living in Reno. Gasoline currently costs $3.31 per gallon (the national average is $2.76), which is pricey but still less expensive than Sacramento, California at $4.49 per gallon. A common maintenance fee is tire balancing and rotation, which experts recommend doing every 5,000-7,500 miles, or every 2 years. In Reno, the cost for this service is $60.67.

Overall, the cost of transportation in Reno is 17.6 percent higher than the national average. While that seems like a big jump above average, transportation costs in Reno have dropped by 12.8 percent in the past year.

Healthcare costs in Reno

It’s difficult to state with certainty how much healthcare costs will impact the cost of living in Reno. Healthcare is such a unique topic because each person has their own needs. Some people have chronic illnesses or low immune response, which makes them more susceptible to illness. Healthcare costs are naturally higher for those people.

On average, healthcare costs in Reno are 6.1 percent higher than the national average. Thankfully, this has dropped over last year, when the rate was 16.9 percent higher than the national average.

Here’s a breakdown of some common healthcare costs and how they compare to the median cost in the U.S.

  • Doctor check-up: $125 in Reno; $112.81 – national average
  • Dental check-up: $110 in Reno; $99.44 – national average
  • Eye exam: $105 in Reno; $105 – national average
  • OTC Ibuprofen: $11.46 in Reno; $9.80 – national average

On the whole, prescription medications are 3.87 percent lower than the U.S. average.

Man with his dog in Reno, NV

Man with his dog in Reno, NV

Goods and services costs in Reno

Once you’ve spent your hard-earned income on the basic necessities, now it’s time to consider the non-essentials: miscellaneous goods and services. These are things you spend money on that are fun and make life more enjoyable. In this category are items like:

  • Clothing
  • Salon visits
  • Haircuts
  • Pet grooming
  • Going out to the movies
  • Date night or girls/guys night out
  • Personal sundries

Surprisingly, these costs are 2.9 percent cheaper than the national average. This is one area where Reno residents get a break!

Let’s say you have a fun day planned. You’re going to start the day with some shopping (you really need a new pair of pants). Then, you’ll head to your stylist to update your hairstyle. After that, you decide you really need to work out some tension (it’s been super stressful lately), so you go to a yoga class. When class is over, you head home, clean up and then, head out with your friends to go to the movies and get some pizza and beer. This is what your expenses for the day would look like:

  • Women’s pants: $23.66 in Reno; $30.37 – national average
  • Haircut: $23.33 in Reno; $20 – national average
  • Yoga class: $17.50 in Reno; $15 – national average
  • Movie: $10 in Reno; 11.12 – national average
  • Pizza: $11.49 in Reno; $10.49 – national average
  • Beer: $9.24 in Reno; $9.66 – national average
  • Totals: $95.22 in Reno; $96.64

As you can see, these “extras” add up quickly and they can absolutely impact the cost of living in Reno. Do your best to find out how much you spend on these things so you can determine whether you can afford the average rent in Reno or need to look for an apartment in a more affordable neighborhood.

Taxes in Reno

If you’re looking for a tax-friendly state, Nevada is for you! There’s no state income tax. Instead, the government collects money through sales tax, property tax and “sin” taxes on things like alcohol and cigarettes. And since it’s a big gambling and hospitality state, the government collects tax money from the casino and hotel industries, as well.

Property tax rates are some of the lowest in the country, too. So, if you decide to purchase a home, you’ll save some money on this expense! At the current Washoe County tax rate (0.62 percent), you’ll pay $3,100 per year on a $500,000 home. Compare this to New Jersey, the state with the highest property tax rate in the country. Someone who purchases a $500,000 New Jersey home will pay 2.39 percent in property taxes, an average of $11,950 per year.

Sales tax in the state is 8.27 percent, which is a combination of the Nevada sales tax rate (4.6 percent) and the Washoe County sales tax rate (3.67 percent). If you made a purchase of $1,000, you’ll pay an additional $82.70 in sales tax.

How much do you need to earn to live in Reno?

How much you need to earn to live in this city depends on all the factors mentioned above, along with how close you want to live to the action.

The average Reno resident earns $58,790 annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The average rent in Reno is $2,353, or $28,236 per year. If you were to pay the average rental fee, you spend nearly half your income on that alone. Is that something you can afford?

If not, remember that there are several more affordable neighborhoods and suburbs with apartments for rent that fit into the recommended 30 percent maximum goal. If you’re not sure if you can afford a Downtown Reno apartment, check out our free rent calculator to get a better idea of what rental fees fit into your budget the best.

Understanding the cost of living in Reno

Moving to a new city is a big decision. It can be a lot of fun to go somewhere new and start a new chapter in your life. But before you take a leap of faith, it’s best to do some digging. Investigate the cost of living in Reno to see if it will really fit your budget. Try to get as much info as possible about your new city so you can have confidence that you’re making a truly informed decision.

If, after all of your investigating, you decide that Reno is indeed your city of choice, make sure to check out our listings to find apartments for rent in Reno. Using our filter feature, you’re sure to find a rental that fits all your needs.

Source: rent.com

11 Best Browser Extensions to Save Money While Shopping Online

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Additional Resources

Americans are shopping online more than ever before. According to the United States Census Bureau, online retailers in the U.S. took in about $759 billion in 2020. That’s more than 13% of all retail sales in the country.

As we spend more online, we’ve become more interested in finding ways to save online. We use sites to compare prices across multiple sites and search for coupon codes that provide deals like discounts or free shipping. Tricks like that can save you money, but they take extra time — sometimes more than it’s worth to save a dollar or two.

Fortunately, there’s an easier way to save when you shop online. All you have to do is install a browser extension, a plug-in that extends the capabilities of a Web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. But to leverage the online savings, you need to choose the best browser extension for your shopping needs. 

Several money-saving browser extensions can do the work of online bargain-hunting for you. Some compare prices, some find and apply coupon codes, and some help you cash in on cash-back deals. And the best of the bunch can do all three.

1. Capital One Shopping

The Capital One Shopping add-on is an online shopping assistant that uses real-time data from its millions of users to find you better deals. As more people use Capital One Shopping, it gets better at finding low prices and coupon codes that work.

Capital One Shopping combines several of the features of other browser add-ons in one. These include:

  • Price Checking. When you search for a product online or scan a bar code in a store, Capital One Shopping searches for better prices elsewhere. It displays all the prices it finds from Amazon sellers and other top retailers on a single page. 
  • Coupon Checking. When you add something to your online shopping cart, Capital One Shopping goes into coupon-checking mode. It checks multiple coupon codes to see which ones have worked for other Capital One Shopping users and automatically applies the one that gives you the bigger discount. 
  • Price Tracking. If you decide not to make a purchase, Capital One Shopping continues to track prices for the product. If it goes on sale, the app notifies you so you can jump on the bargain.
  • Shopping Rewards. Capital One Shopping also functions as a rewards app. When you shop through the extension, you earn rewards credits at its partner stores, including eBay and Walmart. You can cash in your credits for gift cards at these same stores at Capital One Shopping’s website.

Capital One Shopping is available for Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. There’s also a Capital One Shopping mobile app for iOS and Android.

Read our Capital One Shopping review for more information.

Add Capital One Shopping Extention

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you sign up for Capital One Shopping using the links we provided.

2. Honey

Of all the money-saving extensions you can add to your browser, none get more rave reviews than Honey by PayPal. This free add-on saves you money in various ways:

  • Coupon Codes. Honey automatically seeks out promo codes for over 30,000 online retailers, including Amazon, Macy’s, Target, and even eateries such as Pizza Hut. The extension compares all the available codes for the site you’re shopping and automatically applies the one that gives you the biggest discount.
  • Amazon Price Comparison. When you shop on Amazon, Honey tells you which of the site’s many sellers offers the best final price on a product, including sales tax and shipping. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, Honey factors that in when calculating shipping costs.
  • Price History. Honey also tracks price changes on Amazon. It can show you how a product’s price has changed over the last 30, 60, 90, or 120 days. If you don’t like the current price, you can add the product to your Droplist and have Honey notify you when the price drops.
  • Cash Back. Shopping with Honey earns you cash back, or Honey Gold, at over 4,500 participating sites, including Macy’s, Groupon, and Walmart. Just click a browser button to activate your rewards, and Honey applies them while searching for coupons at checkout. You can cash in Honey Gold for gift cards from participating stores.
  • Referral Bonuses. You can also earn bonuses for referring your friends to Honey. You send them a link, and when they sign up and make their first purchase, you earn 500 Honey Gold — the equivalent of $5.

Honey works with Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, and Safari browsers.

Honey also offers a rewards app for iOS versions 13 and up called the Honey Smart Shopping Assistant. Like the browser add-on, it can automatically find and apply coupon codes and deals, but it has an extra perk: You can access all your favorite stores at once through the app. That allows you to find the best deal and cash in without having to visit multiple sites.

Read our Honey review for more information.

Add Honey Extension

3. Rakuten Cash Back Button

The rewards site Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) offers a browser extension called the Cash Back Button. It gives you access to both cash back and coupon codes at over 2,500 stores. 

The extension displays a pop-up message to tell you when there’s cash back available at a store you’re shopping. If there is, you can just click to activate it. Rakuten can even show you which sites have cash-back offers directly in your search results on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. You can compare cash-back offers across multiple stores and choose the best deal. 

The money you earn goes into your Rakuten account, and you can cash it in once per quarter for a check or PayPal credit. You can also choose to use the Cash Back for Change feature to donate some of your credit to charity. Rakuten rounds your check or credit down to the nearest dollar and divides the change among three worthy charities.

The Cash Back Button also seeks out coupon codes when you shop. Just click “Apply Coupon” at checkout, and the extension automatically applies the coupon or promo code that gives you the best discount. It can even let you know when there’s a Groupon offer available at a local business you search for on Yelp or Google Maps.

The Rakuten Cash Back Button is free to install. It’s available for Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Read our Rakuten review for more information.

Add Rakuten Extension

4. CouponCabin Sidekick

CouponCabin Sidekick is a free browser extension from the rewards site CouponCabin. It has two primary features: coupon codes and cash-back offers.

To get cash back from CouponCabin Sidekick, you must log in to your CouponCabin account before shopping (you can’t receive cash back if you added a product to your cart before logging in). Click through from your account to one of CouponCabin’s 3,500 partner stores to see how much cash back you can earn there. 

There are a few limitations when shopping with Sidekick. You can’t earn cash back on orders through a store’s mobile app or those placed online and picked up in-store. You can’t use the extension with a firewall or ad-blocking software. And you can’t combine cash-back offers from Sidekick with any coupon that’s not from CouponCabin, even one from the store itself.

On the plus side, CouponCabin Sidekick lists the available offers both when you shop and when you search on Google. For instance, let’s say you’re searching for a DVD set. Right in your search results above the name of each store that offers the DVD set, the extension displays a little cabin icon showing what discounts and cash-back offers are available at that particular store.

CouponCabin Sidekick is available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari.

Add CouponCabin Sidekick Extension

5. Ibotta

Ibotta, a popular mobile coupon app, is also now available as a Firefox or Chrome extension. To use the Ibotta extension, you must first set up an Ibotta account if you don’t already have one. The Ibotta extension requires you to log in to your account before shopping to earn rewards. 

It works with over 1,000 online retailers, including Overstock, Petco, and Bed Bath & Beyond. When you purchase through one of these sites, the app displays a button showing how much cash back you can earn. Click it to activate rewards, then shop and pay as usual.

This browser add-on also works with online grocery delivery services like Instacart. When you shop through these services, the extension highlights cash-back offers with a pink box around the cash-back-eligible product. Click to buy, and the cash shows up in your Ibotta account within 24 hours. 

As soon as you have at least $20 in your account, you can log into the Ibotta app on your mobile device to cash in your earnings. You can opt for a bank transfer, PayPal deposit, or gift card.

Reach out Ibotta review for more information.

Add Ibotta Extension

6. Earny

If you like lotteries and sweepstakes, Earny is for you. This Chrome extension earns you cash back on your online purchases and enters you into a prize drawing with every action you take on the app. The more tickets you earn, the higher your chances of winning prizes such as cash, prepaid Visa cards, and free Amazon gift cards.

Other features of Earny include:

  • Cash back on up to 5,000 brands
  • Extra cash back when you share links with friends
  • Price tracking and price drop alerts for goods on your Amazon wish lists
  • Up to 90 days of price protection on purchases at more than 15 major retailers
  • Notifications when an Amazon package arrives late so you can request compensation

Add Earny Extension

7. The Camelizer

Frequent Amazon shoppers already know about the website CamelCamelCamel, which tracks the prices of millions of Amazon products over time. Since prices on Amazon change daily (sometimes even minute by minute), being able to see a product’s price history helps you figure out whether the current price is a good deal or not. 

CamelCamelCamel also offers a free browser extension called The Camelizer for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. This add-on lets you see a product’s price history directly from Amazon without having to visit a separate page. And like the website, it can also import your Amazon wish list and alert you when the price of any product on it drops.

Currently, The Camelizer only tracks Amazon prices. But it has covered a couple of other retailers in the past and could do so again in the future.

Add The Camelizer Extension

The free PriceBlink extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari helps you find the best price for a product. But instead of tracking prices over time on just one site like The Camelizer does, PriceBlink compares prices across thousands of sites and lets you know when there’s a better deal elsewhere.

For instance, let’s say you’re looking at a pair of boots Amazon sells for $100. PriceBlink recognizes the brand and style and instantly searches more than 4,000 other sites to see if any other retailer carries the same boots for less. If it finds one, the lower price pops up on the PriceBlink toolbar, and you can simply click to view the listing.

PriceBlink can also help you find coupon codes. When you visit a retail site, the PriceBlink toolbar shows you a list of the best coupons available on that site. Click on an offer to copy the coupon code to your clipboard. Then, paste it into the appropriate field at checkout. 

If you’re not sure what product you want to buy, PriceBlink can help you there too. When looking at a product on a retail site, you can click “Ratings” in the PriceBlink toolbar to see how users rated the product on other sites. That gives you a better overall picture of users’ opinions than the ratings on just one site.

If that sounds like a lot of information to have cluttering up your screen, don’t worry. The PriceBlink toolbar stays hidden most of the time and only pops up when it finds you a deal on a particular product you’re viewing.

Add PriceBlink Extension

9. Fakespot

Comparing online product reviews through PriceBlink is handy, but there’s one problem: You can’t be sure those reviews are authentic. Sometimes, sellers on Amazon and other sites hire people to post good reviews for their products. You can’t always tell if a product has a 5-star overall rating because it’s a fantastic product or because the company paid lots of people to say it is.

That’s where Fakespot comes in. This free plug-in for Firefox or Chrome (also available as an iOS or Android app) analyzes reviews on Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, TripAdvisor, Sephora, Steam, or Yelp. It looks for suspicious patterns that suggest the reviews are fake. It then gives the product a grade from A to F to indicate how trustworthy the reviews are. 

If you want, you can click on this grade to see a more detailed analysis showing which phrases reviewers are using most often and what percentage of the reviews appear to be legit. It also highlights the most important points made in the legitimate reviews. 

Fakespot also checks ratings for eBay and third-party sellers on Amazon. If the reviews suggest a seller is unreliable, the extension recommends an alternative seller for the same product. 

Fakespot has several options to make it easier to use. For example, it can show Fakespot grades on Amazon product pages and listing pages so you can simply skip over products with a bunch of bogus reviews. It can also sort and filter Google search results based on Fakespot grades. But you can turn these features off if you don’t want to use them.

To use Fakespot, you must either have a Google account or create a Fakespot account. If you choose the latter option, Fakespot tracks your product searches and sends you product updates and offers from its partners.

Add PriceBlink Extension

10. InvisibleHand

InvisibleHand compares prices when you shop and links to the lowest price on a product you’re viewing. But InvisibleHand works with fewer retailers than PriceBlink: Sears, Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Newegg.

The primary use of InvisibleHand is for finding travel deals. When you search for flights on an airline’s website, InvisibleHand lets you know if there’s a cheaper flight available to the same destination and gives you a link directly to the lowest price. It can also find deals on hotels and rental cars.

Another unique feature of InvisibleHand is that it can find hidden prices on retail sites. Some retailers don’t reveal the price of merchandise until you put it in your shopping cart. Typically, they do that because they’re not allowed to advertise the product for less than a certain minimum price. InvisibleHand gets around that limitation, ferreting out and showing you the real price of the product.

InvisibleHand is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Add InvisibleHand Extension

11. Piggy

The Piggy extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari is primarily a coupon finder. It works with thousands of online stores, including major retailers like Macy’s and Walmart, hotel chains like Hilton, car rental services like Hertz, and deal sites like Groupon. When you shop on these sites, Piggy seeks out and tests every coupon code available for that site and applies the one that gives you the most savings.

However, Piggy has a perk other coupon apps don’t have: It can find you special deals at hotels, including rates hotels haven’t officially published online. That makes Piggy an excellent choice for frequent travelers.

Piggy also has a cash-back feature. In addition to looking for coupons when you check out, it lets you earn cash back at more than 6,000 stores. When the earnings in your Piggy account reach $25, it automatically sends you a check.

Add Piggy Extension

Final Word

Each of these browser extensions can save you money on its own. However, there’s no need to limit yourself to just one. 

For instance, if you’re shopping on Amazon, you can use Fakespot to see if the reviews are legit. If it looks good, you can consult The Camelizer to see how Amazon’s price for the product looks today and whether you should wait for a better deal. And finally, you can check PriceBlink to see if there’s a better price available on another site.

Even when two different add-ons have similar benefits — for instance, finding coupon codes and cash-back offers — it can’t hurt to have both installed. The list of retail sites that work with Honey isn’t necessarily identical to the list for Rakuten or CouponCabin Sidekick, so installing all three increases your chances of finding a deal. 

You can’t earn cash back from more than one extension for the same purchase. However, you can sometimes use a coupon code from one and earn cash back from another. By having an assortment of browser add-ons to choose from, you can ensure you always get the best possible combination of deals.

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Source: moneycrashers.com

​18 Deal Sites and Tools for Finding Online Shopping Bargains

Those deep discounts you’re seeking while shopping online could be eluding you if you’re not comparison shopping. But racing around the internet looking for the lowest price could be a dive down a rabbit hole, a time suck, especially when time isn’t on your side. You need that bargain right now.

We surveyed smart shopping experts and evaluated a variety of deal sites and online shopping tools ourselves to identify these 18 sure-fire ways to save money every time you shop online.

If shopping for discounts is as exciting to you as shopping for clothes or gadgets themselves, consider visiting some of our favorite deal sites to search for special offers yourself.

Or let a browser extension do the work for you. They can speed through the web hunting for deals on laptops, clothing, household items, jewelry and more in a matter of seconds. (All the recommended browser extensions here are free and available on Chrome, Firefox and Safari.)

Take a look.

Best Site to Find Free Shipping Deals

When shopping online, finding a great deal gets even sweeter when you can score free shipping, too, a perk Amazon Prime forged into a mainstay of internet shopping. But trying to track down promo codes that actually work, as well as retailers that offer the perk, can be frustrating if you don’t know where to look. Skip hopping from site to site and check out FreeShipping org. It’s a web site that aggregates all of the retailers — big and small — that offer free shipping and other discounts to customers. The site includes the terms and conditions of the free shipping deal and the promo code, where applicable. For example, a recent promotion we found on the site for Lands’ End included 40% off full-price styles plus free shipping when using the discount code BRIGHT.

Best Sites and Browser Extensions for Price Comparisons

Save yourself the hassle of digging into multiple websites to find the best price on items you’re buying online. Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch recommends the browser extension Popcart, which sends a pop-up notification any time a product you’re looking at is cheaper on a competitor site. In addition to retail price comparisons, the browser extension also compares unit prices on items (check out this video to see how).

Woroch also digs deal aggregator site CouponFollow.com. It organize coupons by store name to help shoppers pinpoint the best deal quickly. 

You probably already buy a lot at Amazon.com. Should it be even more? Install the Amazon Assistant browser extension, says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge of TrueTrae.com, to see how Amazon’s prices stack up as you shop products on competing sites. See how it works here.

Best Deal Sites and Browser Extensions for Coupons and Promo Codes

Our sources recommend CouponCabin.com for its vast collection of online promo codes and printable coupons that can be used in-store. Consumers can find deals from online and brick-and-mortar retailers such as Nike, Overstock.com and Target. The site also maintains a list of retailers’ active cashback offers. Savvy shoppers might even be able to combine coupon codes and cashback offers to maximize savings, says TrueTrae.com’s Trae Bodge.

The Honey browser extension helps save shoppers time and money by doing all the work, says Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com. After registering for the site and downloading the extension, you’ll see a Honey widget appear when you check out at any participating retailer. The widget searches the web for all relevant promo codes and applies the one with the biggest savings to your order. A note to Amazon loyalists: If you’re searching for a specific product, this browser extension will track down the lowest price among Amazon sellers offering the same item and notify you. It even factors in shipping costs before selecting the best seller. Watch this YouTube clip for a tutorial on how to install and use Honey.

Next time you go on an online spending spree, consider using Cently, recommends consumer savings expert Woroch. It’s a browser extension that automatically searches for coupon codes while you shop, tests them and applies the one with the biggest savings to your order. You can even score cashback on your purchases when using Cently. Unlike similar extensions, you don’t have to divulge your personal information by becoming a registered user. Watch this video to see how it works.

Best Site for Daily Deals

DealNews.com is a go-to resource for the retail experts here at Kiplinger. The site offers a curated selection of product deals — ranging from electronics to home goods — that gets updated daily. Bargain hunters can also find smart shopping tips on the site’s blog. Some recent topics include a list of the retailers with the best customer rewards programs, as well as determining when is the best time of year to buy a smart phone. Also, we often call on DealNews experts during the holiday shopping season for advice on where to find the best Black Friday sales.

Best Sites for Deals on Travel

If you’re planning to travel during the pandemic, you can still take advantage of historically low prices on airfare and hotel packages. To find the best travel deals, we often recommend these three sites to help get the most value for your money:

Best Sites for Deals on Gift Cards

No matter if you’re buying a gift card as a present or purchasing one for yourself (to prevent overspending), you can always find them at a lower price through an online gift card exchange site compared to buying direct from the retailer or at retail displays of gift cards in supermarkets. Try these two:

  • GiftDeals (formerly CardPool) offers discounted gift cards from the likes of Best Buy, Nordstrom and Patagonia for up to 35% off face-value. For example, we spotted a $25 Fandango gift card selling for $18.76 — that’s 25% off. The cards available on GiftDeals have no expiration date, no fees and come with a 60-day purchase guarantee of validity. The site says it does this to encourage buyers to use the cards sooner rather than later.
  • GiftCardGranny is another gift card exchange site worth a look thanks to its vast selection and cashback rewards, says TrueTrae.com’s Bodge. You can earn cashback by purchasing select gift cards (think: Lowe’s, Uber Eats and Apple’s App Store) and then redeem the rewards for a direct payout or free gift cards once you’ve earned at least $5 in rewards. In addition to big name retailers, you can also find gift cards for local businesses based on the zip code you enter into the search field.

Also, if you’re a warehouse club member (think Costco), you may be able to pick up gift cards at a discount price in-store or online.

Best Apps and Browser Extensions for Cash-Back Rebates

We’ve previously written about browser extension Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) and why you should take advantage of its rebate offers while shopping online. Once you’ve downloaded the browser extension, sign up for a Rakuten account. After you’ve registered, you’ll gain access to 2,500 online retailers where you can earn up to 40% in cashback rewards. Participating stores include Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Best Buy. You can also find travel and vacation deals from Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and VRBO where you can earn as much as 5% cashback after booking your travel arrangements. Rakuten even has a blog with helpful tips on how to get the most bang for your buck (and maximize cashback rewards) when shopping on partner sites. 

If you frequently shop using a smart phone, consider downloading a mobile app such as Ibotta that lets you earn cashback on everyday purchases, suggests Rather-Be-Shopping.com’s James. You can score money back on everything from grocery items to pet supplies purchased through the app, which requires linking a credit or debit card to your Ibotta account.

“You can even supercharge your cash back earnings by using your cash back card with a cash back payment app — you will earn 4% cash back every time you pay using the Slide with one of their partner stores,” says Woroch. “Since payments are ultimately processed through a linked credit card, you will get double the rewards just like that.”

Best Sites for Deals on Insurance

Don’t limit your comparison-shopping to traditional retail purchases such as clothes, electronics and household goods. You can even use online sites and tools to help score the best rates on insurance policies. One such site we recommend at Kiplinger is Policygenius.com (listen to our Your Money’s Worth podcast episode with the company’s co-founder and CEO), where you can get price quotes for a range of policies including life, homeowners, auto and renters insurance.

If you need life or long-term care insurance, consider using AccuQuote.com. You’ll have to cough up your contact information so an agent can follow-up with you directly at a later date, but you’ll immediately receive a list of insurers that match your profile and estimated monthly premiums for each plan. For help on selecting the right life insurance plan, see our story How to Shop for Life Insurance.

Source: kiplinger.com

8 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buying

Woman playing the violin
Minerva Studio / Shutterstock.com

A friend once told me she planned to buy a snowblower.

My first thought was, “Why?”

She lived in a fairly mild region that, in some years, doesn’t get any snow at all, let alone enough to require mechanical intervention. She had three healthy teenagers at home, and shovels are much cheaper.

Plenty of purchases that seem like great ideas at the time wind up as costly clutter. Maybe you’ve seen a friend with a garage or storage unit jammed with stuff they don’t use but can’t seem to get rid of. (If you’ve got one of those yourself, check out “Have Too Much Stuff? 10 Ways to Cut the Cost of Self-Storage.”)

What follows are examples of tools and equipment you should rent as needed, rather than buying them only to curse the cost later.

1. Recreational vehicle

sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

Unless you love camping, buying an RV is probably a bad idea.

In “7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make,” we point out several reasons not to buy:

  • They can be expensive to buy. Low-end vehicles cost as little as $6,000, but those are pretty basic. Larger vehicles can go for upward of half a million dollars or more.
  • They cost a lot later on, too. Gas, maintenance, insurance — it adds up. And if you’re towing a trailer, factor wear and tear on the family vehicle into your calculations.
  • They can be hard to store. Parking your RV on a public street or even in your own driveway might be against the rules where you live. If so, you’ll have to rent a place to keep it all year, every year. One analysis shows monthly rates for RV storage ranging from as little as $40 to as much as $500 per month.

Until you’re sure you’ll travel enough to make it worthwhile, keep renting. You can get an RV from a rentals dealer or from an individual owner through peer-to-peer services like RV Share Renter.

2. Specialized tools

Couple renovating
Mcky Stocker / Shutterstock.com

Some DIYers feel they can never have enough tools.

But seriously: Do you tackle enough projects to justify buying some types of specialized equipment, like a concrete saw, floor stripper, carpet-drying fan, texture sprayer, stump grinder or hydraulic torque wrench?

These and many other construction, demolition and remediation tools can be rented — or possibly even borrowed from your local library.

We burn wood most winter evenings. But we don’t own a log-splitter. They’re expensive, and we wouldn’t use it often enough. Instead, every few years we rent one for the day rate of about $100.

Do the math and save.

3. Blu-ray discs and DVDs

Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

These days, you can pay just a few dollars for Blu-ray discs or DVDs of older or more obscure flicks.

But for new releases, you’ll wind up spending $20 to $30 apiece, and more for an entire season of a TV show.

Hey, all you collectors: Count the DVDs on your shelves, figure out what you’ve spent thus far and ask yourself how many times you’ve actually watched them.

Stop buying! Try some of these options instead:

  • The public library. Many libraries have extensive Blu-ray and DVD collections, free for the borrowing.
  • Redbox. Perhaps a single, inexpensive reviewing of the latest superhero flick will help you realize you don’t need to see it again. (Pro tip: Search online for “Redbox code” to save money on rentals.)
  • Streaming services. Hulu, Amazon Prime and other streaming services have loads to watch, including movies.
  • Free sources. You might be able to watch movies without paying at all. See “15 Free Streaming Services to Watch at Home” for the details. You’re welcome.

4. Pickup truck

Man driving a pickup truck
Lazor / Shutterstock.com

There’s just something about owning a truck, apparently.

How else to explain why otherwise sane people with no need for hauling capability drop a ton of dough on these things?

Insurance website The Zebra reports that, on average, sedans are almost $9,000 cheaper. It costs more to insure a pickup, too.

If you’ve got a big project in mind — home improvement, say, or moving your household — rent a truck for the day to transport your lumber or move furniture to the new place.

Speaking of moving, here’s another reason you don’t want to own a pickup: People you know who need to move across town or pick up an IKEA furniture purchase will be calling to ask, “Hey, do you still have that truck?”

If you’re a farmer or a contractor who regularly hauls stuff, owning a pickup truck might make sense. But if you’re a suburban resident who happens to love country music, stick with a fuel-efficient vehicle that’s cheaper to buy and insure.

5. Power washer

Worker pressure-washing a deck
bubutu / Shutterstock.com

A power washer is super-useful when you want to repaint the house or clean up a weathered deck.

But how often do you do either of those things?

Consumer Reports suggests it’s cost-effective to buy a power washer if you normally use it three or more times a year. But what’s more likely is that you’ll power-wash your deck or home every few years, if that often.

Oh, and brace for this: Once it’s known you have a power washer, friends and neighbors are going to ask to borrow it. It would be pretty frustrating to lend out your power washer repeatedly and have it die while you’re preparing your own house for repainting.

True, you can buy a low-end power washer for under $100. But, when you buy cheap you often get cheap, so read reviews before plunking down even that little.

6. Boat

Senior man fishing off a boat in Alaskan waters.
Dan Thornberg / Shutterstock.com

An old joke holds that “boat” is an acronym for “Break Out Another Thousand.”

A boat owner must keep a weather eye on hull maintenance, engine repair and, yes, the weather. (Hurricane season is particularly gut-clenching.) That all costs money. Lots of money.

So what’s a seadog wannabe to do? Rent your time on the water. As we note in “4 Ways to Go Boating Without Buying a Boat,” you can take advantage of peer-to-peer boat sharing, timeshares, boat clubs and charters.

Always do your research and ask plenty of questions. The rules (and fees) vary. You’ll need to know stuff like:

  • Who pays for the gas?
  • Who fixes breakdowns?
  • What kind of licensing/training is required?
  • Does the rental cost include insurance?

7. Sports equipment

lassedesignen / Shutterstock.com

After one unseasonably warm summer here in Anchorage, my niece’s friend took to a local lake on a $400 stand-up paddleboard. So much fun! You should totally get one!

No doubt it was fun. But my niece is a single mom of two. She’s not going to drop four Benjamins on equipment she’ll maybe use one or two days a summer, assuming it’s warm enough.

If the heatwave trend continues she might shell out $15 for a paddleboard rental, to see if it really is her kind of sport. If it isn’t? Think of the money she didn’t waste.

Try it before you buy it. The same is true with skis, snowboards, water skis, kayaks, canoes, mountain bikes and so many other kinds of sporting equipment.

You’ll thank us later, when the rental proves that your lower back isn’t cut out for snowboarding, or that your balance isn’t good enough for a paddleboard.

8. Musical instruments

Music cello
Minerva Studio / Shutterstock.com

So, your kid has signed up for the school band or private music lessons: What a great opportunity! You should run out and buy the best-quality cello or sousaphone out there. Right?

Not even close to right, says The Washington Post. Suppose your kid quickly decides that he hates practicing? Or that the viola is a horrible mistake and what she really wants is a flute?

Don’t buy any instrument until you’re sure the kid is going to commit.

Instead, rent from a music shop, or ask if your school has an instrument rental program. It can take a couple of tries to find the right fit with instruments for young musicians.

Speaking of fit, here’s another reason to at least wait to buy: Kids grow. The violin Junior plays at age 5 eventually will need to be replaced. (Unless, of course, he gets bored and quits.)

So rent, don’t buy it.

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Source: moneytalksnews.com