What is a Brownstone? Pros and Cons of Brownstone Apartments

A brownstone may look like other townhouses, but it’s got some unique qualities.

If you’ve ever pictured yourself living in cities like Chicago, Boston or New York City, you may have envisioned the iconic image of buildings and brownstone apartments lining the streets. Many large, East coast cities are known for the iconic brownstone facades that give the neighborhood a 19th-century nostalgic look and feel.

If you’re considering renting a brownstone, it’s important to know about the rich history of these types of buildings in addition to the pros and cons that come with brownstone homes. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about renting an infamous brownstone.

What is a brownstone apartment?

A brownstone is a row house made specifically from brown sandstone. The brownstone facade is key — it’s the defining feature that sets brownstones apart from other types of single-family homes. Other defining features of brownstone apartments include:

  • A stone stoop leading to the entryway
  • Ornate details carved or etched into the brownstone face
  • Many buildings in a row with no space in between
  • Three to four floors per building

Brownstone itself is soft sandstone that has a natural brown color, hence the name “brownstone.” The stone is easy to mold, cut and shape so you’ll often see ornate carvings on the face of brownstone homes, another feature that sets them apart.

Originally, the brownstone material was inexpensive and less desirable compared to other building materials like brick, marble or granite. Until the 19th century, buildings made of brownstone were cheaper because the brown color was unappealing. However, that changed during the Romantic era when the natural look became popular. Nowadays, brownstones are some of the most expensive apartments on the market.

Brick townhouses

Brick townhouses

What is the difference between a townhouse and a brownstone?

Brownstones and townhouses are similar in the sense that they’re both buildings with multiple floors, units and apartments for rent. They’re both attached to another building. For example, you’ll have your own unit or floor to live on but you’ll share a wall with your neighbors in these kinds of houses.

You can construct a townhouse out of any building material, but many are brick. However, a true brownstone uses brown sandstone building material, otherwise, it’s a regular townhouse. The facades of brownstones are the specific feature that separates them from other types of apartments.

Because many brownstone apartments are older, they may not have modern amenities like brand new buildings. The construction of many brownstones occurred in the early 19th century and living in these may require some maintenance to keep them up-to-date. Keep this in mind when you’re considering renting townhouses versus brownstones.

Things to know about New York City brownstones

While brownstones are in different cities, they’re especially prevalent in New York City. If you’ve seen any movie or TV show set in New York, you’ve likely seen the iconic brownstone homes in beautiful neighborhoods. True brownstones are in a few key neighborhoods of New York City — Park Slope, Upper West Side, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights — to name a few. You can walk up and down the street and see brownstone apartments in these areas of the city.

These houses with their steep stone stoops and ornate brownstone facade give the building charm. They’re often located in desirable neighborhoods, too. Because there’s only a set number of genuine brownstones in New York City, there’s often more demand than supply, so the prices are steep.

NYC Brownstone apartments

NYC Brownstone apartments

Pros of brownstone apartment living

As with anything, there are pros and cons to living in brownstones. Here are some of the pros and cons associated with a brownstone apartment.

Spacious living area

While some single-family homes in a big city are small, brownstones are typically larger. Traditional brownstones will have a parlor floor, which is the second floor from the ground floor. The parlor floor is where you’ll have your dining room and living room. The units usually have three to four bedrooms, but can also have as many as nine bedrooms in each brownstone.

Ornate décor

City brownstones are beautiful buildings. As we’ve mentioned, the appeal of a brownstone is typically the history, the idyllic community and the picturesque neighborhood. The construction of brownstones is ornate and the apartment is usually located on a tree-lined street. When you live in a row house, you’ll enjoy the beauty of the decorative brownstone.

Spacious outdoor area

Some people living in brownstone homes enjoy a nice outdoor space as part of their apartment. You’ll get more room and outdoor seating areas in a brownstone compared to other types of apartments. You can walk up from the ground level and enjoy the front stoop or enjoy private outdoor space in the form of a patio or garden area.

Great location

Most brownstones are in nice neighborhoods with tight-knit communities. Because the units are so close to each other, you’ll be close to the other people living in the same brownstone house. People like the brownstone community as most people end up staying in the brownstone for a long time. The units are often close to different restaurants, so you’ll enjoy the amenities of city life when living in a brownstone, too.

brownstone apartments

brownstone apartments

Cons of brownstone apartment living

For every good thing about brownstones, there are some negatives, too.

Expensive rent

Because brownstones are so desirable nowadays, you’ll pay high prices to live in one of them. In New York, brownstones can sell for up to $10 million. If you’re considering a brownstone, make sure the price is in your budget. If not, you can have a similar experience living in a townhouse without a notable facade.

Older buildings

The historic nature of brownstones makes them appealing but it also means the building is older compared to others. You’ll likely have more maintenance and upkeep in brownstones and may lack traditional amenities and features like air conditioning. Also, the steep stoop and staircases are sometimes problematic as they aren’t as accessible as other spaces.

Close to neighbors

If you’re looking for a place to live with lots of room to roam and privacy, a brownstone isn’t the right option as you’re incredibly close to the people next door. Because these buildings are in a row, you’re literally wall-to-wall with other people. Some love this closeness, while others want more privacy.

Finding a brownstone apartment for you

The intricate design and carvings of brownstone apartments are idyllic. You can’t deny that they look beautiful and conjure images of old-school living in cities like New York. Brownstones have a story and you’ll enjoy the natural look of these buildings. Before renting one, make sure that it’s within your budget as they’re pricy apartments.

Source: rent.com

Renting a Furnished Apartment: Pros and Cons to Think About

Whether you’re a first-time renter or you’re renting your next apartment in a new city, the process of finding an apartment is difficult. From scouting out the perfect location and finding an apartment that fits all your needs to buying furniture and decorations for your new apartment, the entire moving process is stressful.

Then, there’s the question of renting a furnished apartment or an unfurnished apartment in the first place. If you’re considering a fully furnished apartment as your next place, here’s everything you should know about furnished apartments.

Furnished apartment

What is a furnished apartment and what do fully furnished apartments include?

There are three different types of furnished apartments and you may wonder exactly how much furniture comes in a furnished apartment?

There are fully furnished, furnished or semi-furnished apartments. You can find furnished apartments in all apartment sizes — from a studio apartment to a two-bedroom apartment or even, sometimes, a house. Each type of finished apartment can come equipped in a variety of ways.

Fully furnished apartments are move-in ready and can include all your basic heavy furniture, such as a bed, couch, dining room table, bathroom appliances, coffee table and dressers. However, they also go above and beyond and might include amenities like interior design and décor, basic kitchen appliances and, sometimes, even a washer and dryer.

Furnished units usually include basic needs like a bed, end tables, chairs, a microwave and a couch. Some might include more or less but it really depends on the landlord or property owners.

Semi-furnished apartments have fewer items included than furnished apartments. They still come with the basic needs including a bed, couch and some kitchen appliances but you’ll get fewer amenities in something labeled “semi-furnished.”

Before you decide on which apartment to rent, ask the landlord for an apartment tour or even reach out and ask the tenants if they enjoy living there.

Pros of renting a fully furnished apartment

As with anything, there are pros and cons to renting furnished apartments. So, here’s a list of the pros and cons to consider to make it easier to rent your perfect apartment.

moving

Moving is easy

Moving from an old apartment to a new one is time-consuming. There’s so much to get done from boxing up all your belongings to then hiring a moving company or enlisting your friend’s help. You no longer have to worry about moving heavy furniture when you rent a furnished apartment.

Lower upfront costs

If you’re looking to save money upfront, then a furnished apartment might just be for you. With a furnished apartment, not only do you not have to worry about moving furniture, but you don’t have to spend extra money buying your own furniture just yet.

Furniture is expensive and takes a long time to accumulate, leaving you with a semi-furnished apartment for a while. A furnished rental eliminates the additional costs of furniture and saves you more money upfront.

Short-term rental

Renting an apartment is a big commitment you shouldn’t take lightly. If you’re unsure about how long you’ll be in one place, consider moving apartments to a place ready to go.

A business person, college student or someone who only wants to stay in a place for a few months are good candidates for short-term rentals. If this sounds like you, then pre-furnished apartments are great for short-term tenants.

stress

Reduce stress

Renting a new place is stressful, to say the least. Then, add in all the other tasks that go into moving, from filling an empty apartment with new furniture to learning your new neighborhood. A furnished apartment can help to reduce some of the big stresses that come with moving.

Cons of renting a fully furnished apartment

With every pro, there’s a con and a furnished apartment is no exception. Here are the cons of furnished apartments that you should consider before moving.

Higher rent fees

If you already own furniture or are fine to pay for new furniture, then renting a fully furnished apartment is a bad idea. Renting a furnished apartment typically comes with higher monthly rent and a higher security deposit. The higher rent prices are due to the fact that you’re not only paying for the space but also the furniture in the apartment.

If you’re renters who plan on planting roots in one place for more than a few months, then this could be one of the bigger cons of furnished apartments to consider. In the long run, renting unfurnished apartments might actually save you money. If you’re looking to buy your own furniture but on a budget, then second-hand furniture is a great option to fill your unfurnished apartment. And over time, you’ll save the extra money that you would have had to pay for rent. This is something that future tenants should take time to consider and budget out which option is best for them.

cheap furniture

Poor quality and lack of personality

Another con of furnished apartments is you don’t know the quality of the furniture. It could be old, damaged or even dirty from previous renters. You should talk to the landlord and ask about the quality and maintenance of the furniture before you rent.

You may not like the furniture in the house or it isn’t your taste or have the amenities you’re looking for, either. And while you can add little touches here and there, it’s important to live comfortably in your space and furniture does contribute to that.

Fear of damages

It’s one of the fears all renters have — damaging the apartment, or in this case, the furniture in the apartment. Damaging your own furniture is bad enough but damaging the furniture in your furnished apartment is even worse and can result in fees. If you spill or your pooch decides the couch is their new chewing toy one day, that could mean you’ll get charged or even lose your security deposit.

This can make you feel like you’re walking on eggshells in your own apartment and is something you should really think about before you rent. It’s also a good idea to ask your landlord about their specific damage policies. This will help you also avoid rental scams.

To rent furnished or not to rent furnished

Renting a new apartment is a big moment in life for anyone. Whether you decide to rent a furnished or unfurnished apartment, you’ll finally have a space that’s all your own. A furnished rental is a great option for people who don’t own enough furniture, people who are short-term renters or people who aren’t committed to a new location. Talk to your landlord about the furnishings included if you go this route.

Source: apartmentguide.com

7 Ways to Show Proof of Renters Insurance to Your Landlord

No one wants to have an apartment break-in happen to them or lose their personal belongings to an unexpected tornado but sometimes life happens. When the unexpected occurs, everyone wants financial coverage and know that they have a backup plan or safeguard in place.

That’s where renters insurance comes in. While property owners will have insurance policies covering the apartment complex and building in place, it’s often up to the tenants to provide their own renters insurance where the policy covers personal belongings. In fact, most landlords are requiring proof of renters insurance to rent their property before signing the lease.

We’ll help you understand the fundamentals of a basic tenant insurance policy and provide ideas on how to show proof of renters insurance if your landlords require it.

What is a renters insurance policy?

Simply put, insurance is protection against financial loss. Renters insurance is a type of insurance policy that’s specific to tenants and renters only. Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance does not usually cover the structure of the building, but it does cover the renter’s personal property that’s housed inside the apartment.

Renters insurance exists to protect you and your personal belongings should an incident — like theft or fire — occur while you rent. The insurance policy would then pay you for the damage caused to your belongings. Renters insurance also protects renters from liability in case someone gets hurt within your apartment.

Renters insurance covers property from a burglary

Why every renter needs renters insurance coverage

Landlords are requiring tenants to provide proof of renters insurance. This helps safeguard property managers from liability, but it also protects renters. People who have renters insurance can breathe easy knowing it protects their personal property. Here are a few reasons you need to purchase renters insurance:

  • Offers protection of your personal items from theft or natural disasters
  • Covers you from personal liability if someone is hurt within your apartment
  • Often required to sign a new lease
  • Sometimes required for lease renewal
  • Can save you money should something happen to your personal belongings
  • Provides peace of mind to tenants
  • Helps expedite the rental process and avoid waiting periods if you already have a policy

Regardless of the reason you purchase renters insurance, it’s smart to have it when you live in a rental unit.

What exactly does renters insurance cover?

We’ve talked about the benefits of having renters insurance, but what exactly does renters insurance cover? Your coverage will vary based on your insurance company and policy, but in most cases, renters insurance policies offer these types of coverage:

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage includes repairs or replacements for lost or damaged property, such as furniture, electronics and clothing. Depending on the policy, it may cover the costs of things like jewelry, but you’ll have to check with your insurance provider to see how much coverage comes with your plan.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage protects the tenant in case an injury occurs to someone within the apartment and needs medical attention. There’s often a cap on how much liability coverage there is, so read your policy carefully.

Renters insurance will cover a hotel room if you

Additional living expenses coverage

Additional living expenses coverage includes the cost of hotel or travel bills should your apartment become unlivable due to an incident that occurs on-site. This part of a policy will not cover property damage to the building itself — that’s usually the landlord’s responsibility — but it will cover your hotel bills while you find a new place to rent.

You’ll likely have increased premiums when you purchase more coverage and it’s up to you to determine how much renters insurance you need and how much coverage your landlord requires. Do your research to select the best policy for you.

How to show proof of renters insurance to your landlord

We’ve mentioned that landlords require proof of insurance to rent a rental property. But how do you show proof of renters insurance to a landlord? Here are several ways to show proof of renters insurance.

1. Provide the declarations page to your landlord

Every renters insurance policy will have a declarations page that outlines the details of your coverage. The declarations page will include things like your name, the policy number and how much coverage you purchased. You can send a digital copy directly to property management as proof.

Send a digital copy to your landlord.

2. Share a digital file with the landlord

You can show digital proof of your insurance by emailing the landlord a copy of the entire policy or the declarations page itself. When you send electronic proof, you have a digital footprint that shows your communication with the landlord. You can even ask your landlord to store this electronic copy on their property management software so you have a record of it.

3. Show them the physical copy of the renters insurance policy

If you’re more old-school, you can print out a physical copy of the policy as a way of showing proof of coverage. Print out a copy for your records and print out a second copy for the landlord to have, as well.

4. Have your insurance agent contact your landlord to confirm

If your landlord will accept verbal confirmation, you can ask the insurance company to call the landlord directly to show proof of insurance. Let your landlord know when your insurance agent will contact them so they can prepare for the call.

5. Add the landlord as an interested party to the policy

On any insurance policy, you can add an interested party to the policy. This is one way to show proof that the tenant has insurance. When the insurance agent is writing the policy, they will add the landlord as an interested party and then, notify the landlord upon completion of the policy.

6. Share the policy number and insurance agency with your landlord

Another way to show proof when renting is to share details of the policy with your landlord. You can share things like the number of the policy, the name of the insurance company and agent or the amount of coverage purchased.

Simply tell your landlord you have renters insurance.

7. Give verbal assurances of your renters insurance policy

Depending on the property managers, you can show proof by giving verbal confirmation of coverage. While this is only as good as your word, some landlords are OK with this type of proof. Keep in mind that there’s often no digital or written record of verbal assurances, so it’s not the most concrete or secure way to show proof of renters insurance.

These are some of the most common and accurate ways to show proof of coverage when property owners require proof.

How much does renters insurance cost?

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive and ranges from $15 to $20 a month, or $180 to $220 per year. The cost of the policy will depend on how much coverage you purchase. Some landlords will even require that you have a certain amount of coverage, but that varies by location, by the landlord and even by state. When you’re analyzing your budget, it’s important to include renters insurance with your other utilities.

Keep in mind that most policies renew annually and if you don’t automatically renew your policy lapses and you may temporarily lose coverage. You also need to pencil in the cost of compensation for the agent, if they charge a fee to draft a policy.

Signing the renters insurance policy.

How to get a renters insurance policy of your own

If you’re trying to rent an apartment and can’t sign the lease until you have proof of renters insurance, then it’s time to find a policy for you. There are ways to find an insurance agency who you get you set up:

  • Ask your new landlord for a recommendation
  • Use your existing insurance agency and bundle it with your car insurance, for example, to save money
  • Use an online comparison tool to find an insurance company
  • Do an online search to find an insurance agency
  • Ask your neighbors who they use
  • Go to your local insurance broker

Proof of renters insurance is key

Once your policy is in place, you’ll be happy to know that you can then sign the lease, move into your new apartment and feel secure knowing you’re protected from the unexpected.

Source: apartmentguide.com

How To Decorate Your Home On A Budget

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

While finding the right house is important, the way you furnish and decorate a space is what really makes it home. But when you’re on a tight budget, it can be difficult to create the vibe you’re looking for.

The good news is, you can drastically drive down the cost of furnishing and decorating with a little creativity. Here are some of our best tips.

How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

Decorating a new house can be more expensive than you realize. Read below for ideas on how to find furniture, decor and accessories without busting your budget. 

Shop at consignment stores

Many high-end consignment stores carry furniture and decor for half off of their original cost. You can find a West Elm dining room table for hundreds of dollars less than the retail price. 

Do a Google search for the best consignment stores in your area and visit their websites to see if they sell furniture and decor. If they do, plan to visit or follow them on social media to see what they post. 

Local liquidation stores often carry furniture and decor from name brands and designers. One liquidation store near me only carries items from Target, so you can find cute throw pillows, candles, mirrors and home accessories at clearance prices. 

Some furniture stores may also have outlets near you where they sell last season items for a huge discount. 

Visit flea markets

While antique stores carry expensive furniture pieces, flea markets can have hidden gems for much lower prices. Flea markets can be a fun place to find decor and furniture items like chairs, coffee tables and dressers. 

Flea markets usually don’t help with delivery, so you’ll need to bring a large car, rent a van or ask a friend for help. Make sure to include the cost of renting a car or truck when deciding if the price is fair. 

Flea markets and thrift stores can also be a fun place to find knickknacks and tchotchkes. Also, look through old boxes of childhood items and family heirlooms for things to display around the house.   

Find frugal picture frames

Custom framing can cost hundreds of dollars. Instead of getting your art or pictures custom framed, scour through your nearby thrift stores for a suitable frame. Make sure to measure the art beforehand. If you can’t find a perfect-sized frame, find one that’s slightly bigger and buy a mat that fits the picture online.

You could also visit a framing store and pay them to add a mat. You’ll still be saving hundreds of dollars compared to the cost of custom framing.

Find second-hand furniture and decor 

Every day, homeowners post furniture and decor for sale on sites like OfferUp, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You can also find special Facebook groups devoted to selling furniture and other items within your neighborhood. Your neighborhood NextDoor community is another place to find cheap or free items. 

Freecycle is a site where you can find free items that people are donating. You can subscribe to get daily emails to see what people are giving away. 

Sometimes you can find people who will deliver the furniture to you for free or for a small fee. The fee may be less than what you’d pay buying new furniture. 

Look for plants and planters that people are donating. These are another easy way to spruce up a place without spending a bunch of money. 

Bring out your crafty side

You can save a lot of money on home furnishings by getting a little crafty. Try spray painting furniture or frames a different color. If you have more time, you can also sand wooden furniture and stain it a different shade. 

Find ways to update old furniture that you already own. For example, your grandma’s dresser may look frumpy now, but with some new knobs or handles, it can look like a completely different piece of furniture. 

Print pictures

If you have high-resolution photos of beautiful locales, consider printing and framing them. Printing large pictures can cost less than $10, and if you print a standard frame size, you can buy a regular picture frame instead of needing a custom frame.

Use sites like Shutterfly or the Costco photo center, which offer low prices for printing services. Choose a matte finish, which will look more refined and high-end than a glossy finish.

Don’t underestimate the power of paint

Decorating a white wall with art and pictures can be expensive and time-consuming. Instead, consider painting the wall a bold color, which can have a huge visual impact. 

When you paint a wall, you don’t have to hang as much art. If you already have art or pictures in mind that you want to hang, make sure to pick a paint color that will match those frames. 

Use social media

Before you visit a furniture store, post on social media what you’re looking for. You never know who might be getting rid of the exact item you need. People may also have suggestions on where to get a good deal on what you want. 

If social media doesn’t work, you can also make a post on your local Freecycle.org group or on your neighborhood’s Facebook or NextDoor page. 

Don’t Feel the Pressure to Decorate Quickly

When you buy a new house, you’re likely spending a lot of money on moving expenses, minor upgrades and basic necessities. You may feel pressure to put the house together quickly, but this can result in you buying cheap furniture instead of quality pieces you’ll have for years to come.

Instead, take your time to save up and invest in items that you’ll enjoy for a while. Don’t worry if a room or wall is blank for several months.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Mahima Dutt

Source: mint.intuit.com

A Complete Renter’s Guide To Understanding Your Apartment Lease Agreement

Here’s an overview of the types of lease agreements and important terms to understand before signing on the dotted line.

Renting your first place with a roommate or paying rent on your own for the first time means you need to submit a rental application to rent a residential property. Once a landlord accepts your rental application, you’ll review and sign an apartment lease agreement.

Understanding the terms of a rental lease agreement is important for both the landlord and tenant. Legally binding contracts are not something a property owner or property management company takes lightly.

It’s important for both the tenant and property manager to understand what’s included in an apartment lease agreement before it’s signed.

The lease agreement also protects both parties since the terms can’t change once it gets signed. The landlord can’t change the monthly rent amount or add a pet fee if the lease doesn’t include a pet policy.

What is a rental lease agreement?

A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant for a particular piece of real estate. It outlines the rules agreed upon by both the landlord and the tenant in clear lease terms. The lease agreement includes important details, including the type of real estate, monthly rent amount and the lease term.

A security deposit is part of lease agreements, even in a month-to-month lease agreement. Sometimes, house rules include a pet policy not allowing pets or no smoking allowed in the unit or on the real estate property. These house rules should be in the lease agreement so there are no misunderstandings.

Verbal agreements are difficult to enforce. Anything discussed should be in the final rental or lease agreement. A verbal agreement is useless if one of the parties forgets what they said or flat out denies it.

If a landlord doesn’t offer aan apartment lease agreement, a tenant could ask for one.

Read your rental lease agreement and know what it means.

Read your rental lease agreement and know what it means.

Types of leases in a rental agreement

There are many lease agreements available when someone rents a property.

Most fixed-term lease agreements include a lease period of 12 months. A month-to-month rental lease agreement is not uncommon. Each rental lease agreement includes how much rent the tenant pays each month and when the monthly rent amount is due. It also notes the security deposit amount, whether there’s a pet deposit and the lease end date.

It also includes other details, such as who is responsible for utilities, property maintenance, property repairs and whether parking is available as part of the real estate to those who pay rent or if it’s included in the monthly rent.

Legal terms, monthly rent details and other things in an apartment lease agreement

A lease agreement is a legally binding contract. Take the time to read it so you know what you’re renting, what you can do on the property and what you can’t.

While many are standard agreements, each rental agreement should outline, for example, how much advance notice you need to provide should the lease end date need to change or what the pet policy is for the rental properties.

Governing law refers to the state laws that govern the lease. In most cities, standard residential leases are governed by and construed in accordance with state laws.

It’s important to review the rental lease agreement closely as it outlines what is considered normal wear and tear.

For example, if a tenant decides to paint the whole apartment or remove blinds and put in curtains and there’s no written consent as part of the lease terms, the security deposit may not be returned if the rental property manager needs to pay to have the unit repainted or add blinds.

What each section means in a sample lease

Lease agreements are pretty standard but it’s good to note what each should include. Here are what each section means in a sample lease.

Property details

The rental lease agreement should include basic facts about the rental property. Each agreement includes the address, landlord or property manager’s name and contact information. It notes when the lease begins and ends, the monthly rent amount and what the monthly rent includes, such as appliances and parking.

Don

Don

Payments, deposits, lease termination, late fees

In addition to how much rent is expected every month, the lease agreement should make it clear when each month’s rent is due by and what, if any, late fees can be expected if you pay rent late. If you have a roommate, what might happen should one of you need to end the lease early?

Does the lease agreement note you’ll need to provide the first month’s rent and last month’s rent and a security deposit?

If a security deposit is due upon the signing of the lease, how is it handled upon lease termination? What’s considered normal wear and tear and what will be covered by a security deposit?

How much advance notice does a tenant need to give a landlord of their intent not to renew a lease once the lease expires or once the landlord lets the tenant know the monthly rent amount will increase? It should note the monthly rental rate does not increase during the fixed period of the lease.

Resigning or breaking your lease

Life happens, a new job opportunity in another city presents itself or something happens in which you need to break your lease. There are things your landlord will appreciate as part of a good landlord-tenant relationship.

It’s a good idea to review the details of the agreement, including what kind of advance notice you must give. There could be many reasons why you may have to break your lease. It’s important to know what’s at stake if you have to break a lease. You could lose your security deposit and your last month’s rent. You could also be responsible for finding someone to sublet your apartment or need to pay each month’s rent until your lease ends.

Include everything in writing to save time and money

Renting a new apartment can be a fun experience. Knowing the terms of your new home by reviewing the lease agreement can save both time and headaches in the short and long term. Having this legally binding agreement can help avoid misunderstandings, too.

Source: rent.com

How To Save Money on Rent: 10 Ways To Reduce Your Rent Payment

With rent climbing higher than ever, these tips can help you save money and stay within your budget.

If you’re apartment hunting right now or are on the verge of renewing your lease agreement, you’re probably noticing a trend. The rent is getting higher and higher. After a slump in rental prices caused by the pandemic, the price of rent is rebounding by hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. Rent has already been climbing steadily over the past few decades, but this recent spike is pricing many people out of their homes or cities.

Thankfully, not all hope is lost for renters. While the high cost of rent is scary, there are ways you can reduce your monthly payments or find cheaper rates that fit your budget. Sometimes, you can negotiate with your landlord based on years of good behavior as a tenant or in exchange for services like maintenance repairs. Other times, it’s changing the location of where you live or how big your space is. Here are 10 tips for how to save money on rent.

Why is rent so expensive right now?

If it feels like rent is especially high right now and just keeps getting higher, that’s because it is. Due to a variety of factors, the cost of monthly rent has been climbing all over the U.S. But why has rent suddenly gotten so expensive?

The pandemic is partly to blame. When it began, many people moved away from big, pricy cities and metropolises seeking more room and space. With more units available and less demand, many landlords lowered their rents. But now, with people moving back to big cities, the demand is back and prices are jumping accordingly, with rents adjusting to and surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Because of the extremely hot and competitive housing market, more people are staying renters instead of becoming homeowners. This means there are more and more people looking at and applying for a narrowing amount of rental units.

The lack of available units and rental units is another factor. There are simply not enough apartments and rental spaces available on the market to meet the large demand. Knowing that renters are desperate and have few options, a landlord can charge inflated prices.

These and other factors combine to make an expensive, difficult-to-navigate rental market. Potential renters also face challenges like real estate agents or investors with deep pockets who can pay upfront for a whole year or pay far more than the landlord is asking for the rental price.

Higher rents also mean a higher security deposit and other fees associated with renting like getting a background check on your credit report. If you don’t have enough savings, it’s hard to afford this process multiple times.

Combine all this and the high rental rates with the increasing cost of monthly expenses like utility bills and groceries, and lots of people are feeling the pinch right now. Luckily, there are steps you can take to save money and keep your rent down.

Tips for saving money on your monthly rent payments

Is your rent too darn high? Try these tips on how to save money on rent at your current or future apartment.

Move out of the big city.

Move out of the big city.

1. Move away from a city center

Sorry Petula Clark, but downtown is no longer the place to go to escape your worries and not be alone. Why? Because living downtown or near the city center is generally more expensive and you’ll likely need a roommate to afford it.

There’s more demand to live close to the heart of a city. It’s usually closer to offices and work, and it also lets you take advantage of all the perks of living in a big city. Dining, shopping and entertainment are all close by. But, you do pay a premium in rent for that access and proximity.

Even in the most expensive big cities, you can find more affordable rents in outlying neighborhoods and districts. When it comes to finding lower rental rates, choose your location wisely and live outside the city center. Yes, you’re not as close to all the city action. But you will save more money to actually enjoy those big-city attractions.

2. Find a smaller unit

Smaller apartments will have a smaller price tag. If you want to save money on rent, downsizing the size of your apartment is a great way to do so.

Larger apartments like two-bedroom apartments will always fetch higher rent. They’re bigger with more square footage, storage and other desirable amenities. So, if you’re finding yourself priced out of your two-bedroom apartment, look into smaller options like a one-bedroom apartment or a studio. With less square footage, these smaller apartments offer discounted rent.

You sometimes don’t have to look far for a more affordable new apartment, either. If you really like where you’re living but can no longer afford your current apartment, look at other units in your apartment complex. Apartment complexes will usually have numerous unit options size-wise. Yes, it does mean you’ll have a smaller room and smaller apartment overall. But it’s also a better deal.

A roommate will help you save money on rent.

A roommate will help you save money on rent.

3. Move in with a roommate

Having a roommate is one of the oldest tried and true ways to save money on rent. If your apartment or house is big enough to accommodate it, sharing the space and costs with a roommate — or several — helps a lot rent-wise. Everyone in the house splits the rent, so when it comes time for the landlord to collect rent, it will hurt your wallet a bit less.

Having roommates is also a great way to keep an apartment or house if rent has suddenly increased. If the rent has become too high but you can’t bear to part with your beloved home or moving out isn’t feasible for you, start looking for roommates. Living with a roommate, you can also split other housing costs like utility bills. It keeps costs down for everyone in the apartment or house.

Of course, this option won’t work for everyone. Some people value their personal space and alone time too much. Others don’t have big enough units to accommodate more people. But it can also be a lot of fun. You can meet new people and make new friends. Or, you can live with friends or move in with a significant other.

4. Pay more money upfront

If you have enough savings, you can offer the landlord more money upfront in exchange for reduced monthly rent. Think of it as similar to a down payment on a house. The more you pay upfront, the less you have to pay per month. For renting, it would reduce the amount you owe each month.

This is a more unconventional option, so you need to discuss it with your landlord in advance to see if it’s an option they’d consider.

A longer lease agreement will help save money on rent.

A longer lease agreement will help save money on rent.

5. Sign a two-year lease agreement

Scared of those pandemic rent price jumps that are going on? Rentals that were far cheaper in 2020 and 2021 now upping rent by hundreds or even thousands of dollars? One way to avoid those rent hikes is by signing up for an extended lease.

Instead of a standard one-year lease, sign an extended lease for two years or longer if you really like the place and want to stick around. There are numerous benefits to signing a long-term rental contract.

First, since they’ll have a new tenant locked in for several years, a landlord will sometimes reduce the monthly amount for rent. Since they know they won’t have a vacancy for a while, a price cut is sometimes acceptable.

Also, by signing a long-term lease, you can lock in the current rate for longer. After one year, even if rates are going up in other units, yours can’t change for another year. It’s good protection against a fluctuating market and high demand.

6. Search for rentals in the fall or winter

The time of year you’re looking at new rentals can also influence the price of rent because demand varies throughout the year.

Summer is usually the worst time to look for a new apartment. For one thing, the school year is over, so it’s an ideal time for families to move. People also have more time and availability on summer vacation. College students are also out for the summer and are moving cities. This time of flux for work and school means there are lots of people looking for new places to live.

Time your move and apartment search to happen during the fall and winter to find a better deal. Schools will be back in session, families are busy and there’s less hustle and bustle in the renting market. The cost of rentals may also be down due to reduced demand during this time period. Even if there’s not a big difference in cost, you can take advantage of the lack of demand to negotiate for less money.

Don

Don

7. Give back your parking space

If your unit comes with a parking space but you don’t have a car or use it, you can use it as a negotiation tactic.

Especially in the middle of a city, parking is in high demand. Landlords who can provide spaces to park cars have a definite advantage. Renters prefer to have a designated spot instead of hunting for parking on the street. It’s also safer for the car.

So, if you have a space you don’t intend to use, you can offer to give it back in exchange for reduced rent. In large apartment complexes where there aren’t enough spaces for all the tenants, your landlord might give you a discount for this convenience.

You’ll also save yourself from having to pay the additional fee that usually comes with having a parking space.

8. Look for units that aren’t updated

Newer and flashier comes at a premium.

One way a landlord can entice applicants is by updating units. Those fancy new apartments with updated appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors and other splashy amenities will cost more because of all those upgrades. Yes, they look great. But the amount the landlord is charging is far more than the unit is actually worth.

To save money, look for units that haven’t been recently updated. This usually means they’ll have older appliances. They aren’t as attractive, and sometimes, they’re inefficient appliances because they’re not the newest models. But they’ll still get the job done. And, if they don’t work or end up breaking? That’s what landlords and maintenance are for.

Another way to save money on rent? When given the option between a furnished and an unfurnished unit, opt for the unfurnished place. They’re more affordable. Plus, it’s always more fun to bring your own furniture and make the place your own.

Fix everything yourself if you hav the skills.

Fix everything yourself if you hav the skills.

9. Offer to fix things yourself

Are you handy at fixing things? That may earn you a break on rent.

A landlord needs someone to fix things and offer maintenance services for their units. Usually, they’ll source this out. If you have verifiable experience as a handyman or can show your adeptness for fixing things, that someone could be you.

In exchange for your help around the property fixing minor issues and doing small repairs, your landlord may offer to discount your rent in exchange for these services.

10. Negotiate

Finally, one of the simplest ways to save money and pay less on your rent? Negotiate for a lower rate with your landlord.

As with any negotiation, it may not always work. Especially right now, landlords might not negotiate. But it never hurts to ask, and there are some circumstances where it can come out in your favor.

Say you’ve lived in the unit for a long time and have been a model tenant, but your lease is almost up and you’re facing an increase. Now is an ideal time to talk with your landlord. As a good tenant, you have some leverage. Explain that you want to stay but the new lease amount is too much. You can request a reduced amount based on your history as a model tenant. Your landlord may or may not go for it, but if they do, congratulations.

How much should I spend on paying rent?

The general rule of thumb is that you should only spend around 30 percent of your gross monthly income on rent. The idea behind this is that it creates a balanced budget. That goes toward your housing cost, leaving 70 percent for everything else like food, utilities, bills, savings and more.

This is a good idea in theory, but it definitely doesn’t apply to everyone and it can vary. You can always find an affordable place that’s under budget and less than 30 percent. Or, maybe you’re paying a bit more than 30 percent for rent, but you don’t have as many additional expenses.

The 30 percent is a good baseline, but it does vary. So, figure out what works best for you and your budget. You can check how much your rent is per month using our rent calculator.

Save more when the time comes to pay rent

Being able to afford rent is a serious challenge these days. These tips on how to save money on rent will pay off come the beginning of each month.

Source: rent.com

Outdoorsy Review: Enthusiasts on This Site Want to Rent an RV From You

Start your RV business and bring in rental income today. Listing is free and the earning potential is high.
For renters, the episodic insurance Roamly offers through Outdoorsy grants peace of mind that includes up to million in liability protection and roadside assistance.
With Outdoorsy, you get paid at the beginning of the RV rental period, rather than at the end. You’re paid within 24 to 48 hours of handing off the keys to a renter.
And Outdoorsy verifies each renter and audits their driving history, so you know your rig is in safe, capable hands.

What is Outdoorsy?

RV owners who rent out their RVs on sites like Outdoorsy save about 25% on average when using Roamly for coverage. That’s because Roamly won’t force you to switch from a personal to commercial policy for renting out your rig.
Most personal RV insurance policies won’t allow you to rent out your rig. Your insurance company will either force you to pay a higher premium for a commercial policy or drop you.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Outdoorsy and Roamly have also partnered to provide protections for renters with “episodic insurance” that must be purchased by anyone looking to rent an RV through Outdoorsy. This trip insurance protects both you and the renter and includes up to million in liability protection for renters as well as roadside assistance should the renter opt for that coverage.
Outdoorsy invites a wide range of RV types to its rental marketplace:

Becoming a Highway Hotelier 

Plus, there are affordable insurance solutions that’ll give you true peace of mind and put any worrying thoughts to rest.
The comprehensive insurance policies still may not put your mind at ease if it’s your first time renting out your rig to people you’ve never met.
Outdoorsy is a meeting place for people to share recreational vehicles safely and with full confidence on both sides. That confidence is founded in renter verification and the protections assured by comprehensive insurance policies for all parties involved.
Outdoorsy has done a spectacular job in helping owners and renters get comfortable with the rental RV experience. The company has clearly applied lessons it learned early on to make the experience on par with renting out rooms on Airbnb, renting out rides on Uber and renting out private cars on Turo.

Towable RV Rentals
  • Trailers
  • Folding trailers
  • Utility trailers
  • Fifth wheels
  • Toy haulers
Drivable RV Rentals
  • Class A
  • Class C
  • Class B
  • Camper vans
  • Truck campers
  • And More

The platform also lets you detail your amenities and display them prominently in eye-catching tiles on the page to attract potential renters to take their next RV adventure in your rig.
Part of why you’re listing your RV rental on Outdoorsy is because you want to share your passion for RVing and the great outdoors with people who appreciate both just as much as you.

Ease of Use

Roamly explicitly permits you to rent or consign your RV on peer-to-peer platforms like Outdoorsy. And the more you rent out your RV on Outdoorsy, the more you’ll save on premiums with Roamly.
Plus, it’s your way or the highway: You get to determine when your rig is available to rent, how renters can use it, how long they can borrow it and how much they’ll pay for the privilege.
Yes. Outdoorsy is a trusted RV rental marketplace that offers driver verification and multiple options for insurance protection, including comprehensive and collision coverage.

Promoting Your Property

Ever come across pictures tagged with #VanLife on social media? There are people, young and old, all over the country who’d love to borrow your RV, camper or van to make memories at some of our nation’s natural treasures.
Registering is straightforward, and so is creating an attractive listing with photos and descriptions of amenities. And if you need a little coaching to help your listings stand out, you can book a session with the company’s support staff to help you promote your property.
It currently enjoys a 4.4/5 on Trustpilot, 4.6/5 on Google Play and 4.8/5 on Apple’s App Store and has highly positive ratings in other Outdoorsy reviews.
Outdoorsy lets you get granular in detailing your listings. Your daily, weekly and monthly rates are clearly visible on your listing — remember, you get to specify how long your RV can be rented, and you can even set a minimum amount of time a renter can take it out.
More than just a rental marketplace, home to about 40,000 listings, Outdoorsy is a symbiotic community made up of people who love RVs. The only difference is that some RV enthusiasts loan out their vehicles, while others pay their hard-earned money to rent one.
Outdoorsy will ask you to give your renters some space while they vacation, but you can also get in touch with them through the app or website if there’s something important you need to relay to them.

Safety Measures

Can’t stop talking about your RV? You can share that passion for life on the road with people interested enough to actually pay you to rent an RV.
You get to set your own rates, including the security deposit.

Safe to Roam

Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
The platform awards you for being a good host and facilitating a great experience for drivers who are fully aware that they’re being entrusted with something that’s special and prized by you, the RV owner.
The other reason is that your RV is just sitting there, when it could be making you a lot of money.
It’s free to list your RV rental on Outdoorsy. You’ll get paid within 24 to 48 hours after a renter departs and you don’t pay listing fees until after you’ve got your money.
Some of the many amenities you can promote include a kitchen sink, tow hitch, generator, audio players, audio inputs, microwave, stove, an inside shower, outside shower and many other selling points.
And if you use an RV-rental marketplace called Outdoorsy, you’ll get renter verification, short-term insurance plans built into the booking flow that protect your RV, and the potential to earn 0 to 0 a night.
We all need boundaries in life, and Outdoorsy has in place a framework for setting and enforcing the ground rules. But as an RV owner, you determine just how tight or loose the boundaries are for renters.

Support (Fees, Compensation, Customer Service)

Whether your RV rental is booked within weeks or minutes, there’s no upfront cost to list your vehicle on Outdoorsy. After they receive your payment from the renter, Outdoorsy will deduct its service fees from your earnings and then pay you.
Outdoorsy even has an entire insurance division in a sister company called Roamly to make sure you’re totally covered, no matter how unique your situation.

Service Fees and Compensation

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Safety and security are important to you, and Outdoorsy’s safety measures have always included insurance options so RV owners and renters don’t run afoul of their everyday policies and have their coverage dropped.
Roamly, a self-service insurance platform, serves both renters and RV owners in all 50 states. It provides renters with trip insurance and it offers RV owners personal policies without any commercial exclusion clauses.
The fastest way to get in touch with Outdoorsy is by phone, via a 1-800 number or online through their chat service. You can also email them if it isn’t a pressing matter.

Outdoorsy Customer Support

Road Rules
Outdoorsy maintains several avenues for you to get the support you need, whether that’s guidance on setting up your listing or facilitating roadside assistance for a renter suffering a no-fault incident on the road.
Privacy Policy
This Outdoorsy review will rate the platform’s ease of use, safety measures and customer support.

Frequently Asked Questions

With Outdoorsy, everything you need for listing your RV (or several RVs) is at your fingertips, whether you use Outdoorsy’s app or website.

Can I just use my own insurance?

You don’t have to go the extra mile, but doing so will make renters rave about you and attract more people to your listings.
The more positive reviews and social shares your listings get, the more Outdoorsy boosts the visibility of your ads.
Your security deposit collected at the start of the RV rental process encourages renters to keep your RV clean. So keep sanitation tasks in mind when setting a security deposit.

How should I deliver my RV to renters?

Their 20% cut covers a lot: insurance, listing your ad, promoting your ad, facilitating the reservation and providing support services.
Here’s where Roamly can really save you serious money. They’re one of the few companies that won’t drop your coverage or force you to pick up a commercial policy with a much higher premium if you decide to rent out your RV on a platform like Outdoorsy.

Who’s responsible for cleaning the RV?

You can decide whether to allow pets, smoking, tailgating and festival attendance, among other things. You can also limit or unbound mileage or generator usage.
For most consumers, a website or app’s user experience pretty much tells you all you need to know about a company. All of the other elements consumers care about, like security and support, all tie into the user experience.

Is Outdoorsy reputable?

You have a lot in common with the verified renters on Outdoorsy. You both love the outdoors, the open road and all the diverse landscapes North America has to offer.
Still have a few more questions after reading our Outdoorsy review? Here’s a roundup of some of the more frequently asked questions people have when looking into Outdoorsy and similar RV rental companies.

Bottom Line

You also get to set your cancellation policy. Outdoorsy lets you select from three frameworks: flexible, moderate and strict cancellation policies.
Both you and the renter share responsibility for keeping your RV clean. While renters are responsible for picking up after themselves and returning it in the same condition they found it, you will be responsible for sanitizing your rig and restocking supplies after each rental period.
Just talk to some of the other RV owners in the Outdoorsy community for helpful insights from people using their RV to finance their next vacation, their grandchild’s tuition, home improvement or even a bigger rig.
RV owners can pocket thousands of dollars just by loaning out their RVs to other adventurers, especially when the weather warms up and social media users unofficially vie for the season’s “best vacation photos.” <!–

–>


And remember: You get the final say about who rents your RV. You can ask questions of the renter before deciding whether to rent to them, and there’s no penalty for saying “no thanks.”

Home Birth vs. Hospital Birth Costs – Is Natural Birthing with a Midwife For You?

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Additional Resources

When preparing to have a child, it’s crucial to consider the financial aspects. It may not be as costly as financing an adoption, but pregnancy and childbirth bring a financial burden. And the total cost largely comes down to whether you choose a home birth or hospital birth. 

As soon-to-be parents, you naturally want to make the choice that gives your baby the greatest chance to survive and thrive. However, the cost of giving birth in the United States is high, and health insurance plans are complicated. 

While there are many personal and emotional reasons to choose home or hospital birth, you must also consider the financial implications.   

Home Birth vs. Hospital Birth Costs 

When deciding between giving birth at home or in a hospital, look at the cost of having a baby in either situation. Four primary factors are involved: pregnancy and prenatal care, labor and delivery, a hospital stay, and postpartum care. 


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Home Birth Cost Factors

Home birth seems like it should be less expensive than a hospital birth. But the costs can add up quickly if you go in unprepared.

Insurance Coverage for Home Births

Some states’ insurance allows coverage for home births — but not all of them. As of May 2020, only 21 states covered home birth under the Medicaid program, for example. 

As you’re preparing, a couple of things are essential: asking your insurance carrier what types of birth they cover and ensuring you choose something that fits the bill. Some insurance companies may only cover a home birth with a certified nurse-midwife attending, while others may only cover a midwife if you give birth in a birthing center. 

So it’s key to communicate clearly with your insurance provider. Find out what your out-of-pocket costs are for any deviations from their typical requirements. 

Home Birth Prenatal Options

Home birthers typically receive a similar level of prenatal care as those having a hospital birth. However, when you decide on a home birth, you might work closely with a midwife, doula, or both. Each birth assistant has different roles and responsibilities.

  • A doula is a guide who provides physical and emotional support before, during, and after childbirth. They may be doula-certified, but they are not necessarily medical professionals. 
  • A midwife is a trained professional who assists healthy individuals in childbirth and provides prenatal and postnatal care. Training varies, but certified nurse-midwives have completed a training program, making them the safest (and most expensive) option.

Doula and midwife fees vary greatly based on geographic location and services provided. It’s usually more expensive in cities and higher-cost-of-living areas. 

For example, in a large city in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, metro area, you can find doula packages ranging from $1,600 to $2,500. But in a significantly smaller city like Abilene, Texas, they’re less than $1,000. But going to an even higher cost-of-living area like New York City may mean a minimum of $2,000.

Typically, the doula fee includes a specific number of prenatal visits, prenatal support and information, assistance during labor and delivery, and at least one postpartum visit. Typically not included are prenatal vitamins, any required lab work, or any type of hospital visit. 

Midwives are generally more expensive. Because of the wide variance in things like certification status, it’s hard to put a solid number on midwife costs. But expect to pay on the high end of doula costs at a minimum. But some midwives may charge $5,000 or more.

Note that the fees for doulas and midwives may not include necessary medical exams like regular OB-GYN visits and ultrasounds. And those cost just as much as they would for a hospital birth if they’re not included as part of your package (some midwives and doulas work with OB-GYNs).

You also need prenatal vitamins, which are relatively inexpensive. For example, many prenatal vitamins range from about $0.08 to $0.48 apiece at Walmart. Over nine months of pregnancy, that’s only between about $20 and $130. Fortunately, you don’t need a prescription, so there’s no added cost for a doctor’s visit.

Home Birth Labor & Delivery Costs

Fortunately, if you’re electing for a home birth, you’re skipping one of the most significant expenses associated with childbirth: the hospital stay. That’s a major benefit many expectant parents appreciate about the home-birth option. Ideally, you’d incur zero hospital costs. 

And doula and midwife packages typically include labor and delivery. 

A midwife will usually provide equipment like IVs, sterile gloves, gauze pads, a thermometer, and waterproof bed covers. You may want to ask your midwife just to be sure, though. Doulas may provide some of this equipment, but they’re not authorized to insert IVs unless they’re also medical professionals. 

You may also have to purchase special equipment if your doula or midwife doesn’t provide them. Costs vary, depending on the types of supplies you need. 

Even if your midwife or doula doesn’t provide them, simple items like waterproof mattress covers cost under $40 on Amazon. But if you need a birthing tub, you’re looking at $100 or $200 and up at a retailer like Oasis or La Bassine. You can also look into renting one, though you may not save much money if you need to keep it for several weeks.

Fortunately, midwife and doula fees include some services hospitals may ask you to pay for, such as facilitating skin-to-skin contact. Even if it doesn’t cost much, it’s annoying to pay to hold your own baby.

If your home birth expenses come down to just a few thousand dollars paid to a midwife, that may sound like a simple decision from a financial standpoint. 

But you need to consider the safety of both the mother and baby. The infant mortality rate for babies born at home is several times higher than the rate of babies born at hospitals, according to a 2010 to 2017 study featured in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

And just because you plan to give birth at home doesn’t mean it will turn out that way. So plan your ideal situation and have a Plan B in case complications arise. Have enough money saved for a hospital stay for both Mom and Baby. If things go smoothly, just add it to Junior’s college fund.

Postpartum Care After a Home Birth

Most doulas and midwives include some form of postpartum support and care in their packages. Your specific agreement may vary, but it’s fairly standard to offer at least one postpartum checkup. (Babies should see a pediatrician for their post-birth care.) 

Those with postpartum depression or psychosis must seek mental health treatment from a source other than their doula or midwife unless they’re also qualified therapists. That treatment may include talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

You may also wish to seek the advice of a lactation consultant. Most midwives and doulas are trained to help, but a board-certified lactation consultant may provide further assistance if you need it. A home visit can be around $200 or more per hour, depending on your location. 

Insurance may cover some of these costs, but you can also get free online assistance at La Leche League. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also offers WIC breastfeeding support. Online resources are freely available to anyone, though you must qualify for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to get personalized support. Your local health department may have resources as well.


Hospital Birth Cost Factors

Hospital births are often more expensive than home births, but that may not necessarily be true. In general, insurance covers hospital births more thoroughly than home births, meaning a home birth could lead to higher out-of-pocket costs. 

But a hospital birth costs considerably more than a home birth unless your insurance covers the majority. Know what your insurance pays for and what it doesn’t. 

Hospital Birth Insurance Coverage 

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care are essential benefits that qualified health plans must cover. That said, if you’re a dependent on a parent’s or guardian’s policy, coverage may vary, so look into that sooner than later.

Note that its status as an essential benefit doesn’t prevent insurers from charging copays, coinsurance, or deductibles, so that doesn’t necessarily mean insurance covers the full cost.

But if you’re tempted by a home birth only for the cost savings, your insurance could drop the amount for a hospital birth to a very comparable number. So check into your coverage and do the math.

Some policies cover prenatal care at a higher level than others. Additionally, high-risk pregnancies require a greater level of care and could cost more, even with insurance. But you should likely opt for a hospital birth anyway.  

Whatever type of insurance coverage you have, know how much your deductible is, the length of hospital stay covered, and what doctors and hospitals are in your network to achieve maximum coverage. 

Additionally, if you require prenatal tests your insurance doesn’t cover, be mindful that you may incur those costs and can ask your doctor how much they are. For example, not all plans cover genetic testing.

Fortunately, there’s a cap on how much you can pay out of pocket on all medical care each year. On the most affordable Bronze level ACA insurance plans, the maximum individual out-of-pocket cost in 2022 is $8,700 for in-network medical services for an individual ($17,400 for a family). The max gets lower as you buy more expensive plans.

However, your pregnancy will last around nine months, meaning you could easily straddle two plan years, making the maximum overall individual out-of-pocket potential on the lowest plan $17,400. So that’s another factor to consider.

If you don’t have health coverage through an employer or your spouse, go to Healthcare.gov to see if you qualify for a special marketplace enrollment period based on a qualifying life event, such as losing your employer-sponsored health benefits or changes of state of residence.

While pregnancy is not a qualifying life event, it may give you access to programs like Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (commonly known as CHIP). And even if you only qualify for open enrollment toward the end of your pregnancy, it can still save you significant cash.

Hospital Birth Prenatal Care Options 

The Kaiser Family Foundation says prenatal care totals an average of about $2,000, including about 12 doctor’s visits at $100 to $200 each if you don’t have ACA-compliant health insurance.

Hospitals also often provide free childbirth and infant care classes, so take advantage of those opportunities, especially if you’re a first-time parent. 

Your obstetrician will recommend prenatal vitamins and other preventative strategies to ensure your and the baby’s health throughout the pregnancy. The vitamins cost the same as they would for a home birth at around $21 to $130 for the whole pregnancy unless your doctor prescribes something special. 

When charged separately, ultrasounds range in cost from an average of $319 in New Jersey to $2,295 in Florida, according to a 2021 survey by Hospital Pricing Specialists. The national average cash price for an ultrasound came out to $745, so research prices in your area carefully.

General office visits to your obstetrician during pregnancy run about $207 if out-of-network or uninsured and $105 if insured and in-network, according to Fair Health Consumer. 

Prenatal care packages at hospitals and birthing centers typically detail how many visits and ultrasounds they include and what types of additional care they offer, which can save you money on those costs. But if you have insurance, ensure your plan covers a package before you buy it.

Hospital Birth Labor & Delivery Costs

Despite the cost, there are advantages to a hospital birth. It allows you to have an epidural, even if you initially planned against it. Epidurals will put the cost of a vaginal birth toward the upper range of any uninsured rate estimates. 

At the hospital, you can choose a cesarean delivery if it becomes medically necessary (even a certified nurse-midwife cannot legally perform a C-section). 

And that’s important because the type of delivery you have can also influence the cost. For example, health care cost transparency advocate Fair Health Consumer states that the national average charge for a vaginal delivery is $12,290. The national average charge for a C-section is $16,907. (That’s as of 2018.)

But those are just averages. How much it truly costs varies widely based on where you live and what services you want or need. 

For example, Fair Health Consumer puts the average uninsured cost of a vaginal delivery with pre- and post-delivery care in New York City’s priciest Manhattan zip code at between $12,380 and $24,666, depending on the specific care you need. But in Boise, Idaho, it’s only $4,180 to $16,269.

Note that those numbers don’t include prenatal or newborn care, which Fair Health Consumer shows comes in at several hundred (potentially close to $1,000) dollars per day, assuming there are no complications.

The Fair Health Consumer site can give you a ballpark idea of how much you’ll pay if you search based on your specific location.

Skin-to-skin contact is another aspect of the birth experience that might incur a charge. Although it may seem silly, after a surgical birth, the mother may be unable to safely hold her baby, making it necessary to have an additional nurse on hand to assist her.

Most hospitals allow parents and babies to have skin-to-skin contact as a matter of routine, but it never hurts to ask. It’s unclear what the average cost is, but the charge that went viral was $40. 

Postpartum Care After a Hospital Birth

If you’ve chosen a hospital birth, you should have plenty of help in the realm of postpartum care. Most hospital birthing packages include at least one follow-up visit soon after the baby is born. You should take the baby to a pediatrician for their follow-ups, which is an entirely separate charge.

If you experience a high-stress birth, such as having emergency surgery, you will need greater care in the following days and weeks. It may be as simple as family members assisting you after the cesarean procedure so you don’t overexert yourself. But it could be something more costly. 

Even if the delivery went smoothly, your OB-GYN will screen you for potential post-birth issues, such as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression could lead to serious expenses. Insurance should cover much of the cost of treatment, but if you’re uninsured, the rates can rack up fast.

In most areas of the country, one session with a psychologist runs between $100 and $200. It’ll cost even more if you need to see a psychiatrist (a medical doctor who can diagnose and treat mental disorders and prescribe medication). Rates per session are similar to a psychologist’s, but an initial visit could be $300 to $500.

Postpartum care may also include physical therapy and pelvic rehabilitation to help restore pelvic floor muscles. The cost for these can vary by location, but expect to pay between $150 and $400 per 45- to 90-minute session.

Many mothers also seek lactation assistance. It can save money in the long run if your baby breastfeeds instead of needing formula, so the investment in a consultation (around $200 per hour) can be well worth it. 

But you might get plenty of lactation help through your hospital as well. Some offer one or more free sessions initially and quite reasonable follow-up visits. For example, Baptist Health of Lexington, Kentucky, offers one free lactation consultation and follow-up visits for $25. 

And you have the same free or low-cost options as you would for a home birth, including the La Leche League, WIC breastfeeding support, or your local health department. 


The Verdict: Should You Choose Home Birth or Hospital Birth?

Overall, home birth costs are typically lower than those of hospital births. But the decision-making process isn’t as simple as looking at the numbers. 

It doesn’t help when you consider that hospitals negotiate rates based on factors like a patient’s insurance, whether you pay in cash, or whether you’re out of network. It’s tough to know the “official” cost of childbirth.

But there are things you can consider to help you make the decision.

A Home Birth Makes Financial Sense If…

Finances shouldn’t be the only reason you choose a home birth. But they can play a significant role in your decision. A home birth makes financial sense if:

  • You Need to Save Money. Home births are often cheaper. But if possible, don’t allow money to be the sole deciding factor in your birth plan. You must also consider your and your baby’s health and safety and your personal preferences. 
  • You Don’t Have Any Health Risk Factors. If you don’t have underlying risk factors like obesity or diabetes that could put you or your baby in danger, a home birth is less likely to result in emergency hospital expenses. 
  • You Have a Solid Backup Plan. Even if you don’t have risk factors, you need to prepare for an emergency hospital trip. That means setting up an emergency fund. If you don’t use it, you can spend it on the baby or set up a college fund.
  • You Live Near a Hospital. Don’t plan for a home birth unless you can get to a hospital quickly if something goes wrong during delivery. Emergency care will probably be more expensive than a hospital package, especially if you have to be air-lifted.
  • You Have a Trusted Midwife and Amazing Support Team. A doula or midwife with solid credentials (ideally a certified nurse-midwife) can save you money by providing similar care for less money, working with (not against) your medical team, and calling for medical intervention as early as necessary.
  • Your Insurance Covers Home Births. If your insurance covers home births, crunch the numbers to determine how much it can save you. While home births are already cheaper than hospital births, insurance can make it even cheaper.
  • You Don’t Have Insurance. If you’re uninsured, a home birth can save you a ton if you’re healthy. But it’s still a gamble. Complications could land you in the hospital anyway. It may be better to see if you qualify for open enrollment or wait until you do to try to become pregnant.

A Hospital Birth Makes Financial Sense If…

There are some circumstances in which a hospital birth is the best choice. In fact, medical professionals overwhelmingly recommend hospital births. Regardless of the cost, you should have your baby in a hospital or birthing center in the following situations. 

  • You Prefer the Greatest Level of Access to Medical Care. Opting for a hospital birth means having licensed OB-GYNs available on-site and top treatment and surgical options. Many things can impact labor and delivery, and the hospital can provide access to a C-section and pain medication as needed.   
  • Your Insurance Has Better Hospital Birth Coverage. Insurance can make hospital birth competitive with home birth. And you can always have a midwife or doula with you in the delivery room. 
  • You Have Contraindications to Home Births. If you have risk factors like diabetes or obesity, are carrying multiples, have had a prior cesarean delivery, or there are any issues with the fetus, plan a hospital birth. Home birth won’t save you money if you have to go to the hospital anyway, and it’s safer to be there from the beginning.

Both Make Financial Sense If…

Both home and hospital birth can be a high-quality childbirth experience as long as you have top-notch care. Choose the one that makes the most sense to you in these situations.  

  • You Have a High Income. If your household income is high enough that the cost difference between a home and hospital birth doesn’t matter, go with your preference. 
  • Cost Is Equal in Both Situations. Some people will find that the financial cost of using a midwife to facilitate a home birth is quite comparable to that of a hospital birth. If the cost is similar for both options, go with your personal preference. 
  • You Want the Best of Both Worlds. A hybrid approach in which you do much of the laboring process at home and then move to the hospital as labor progresses may lessen the amount of time spent in the hospital since early labor can be quite a long ordeal. 

Final Word

The choice between home birth and hospital birth isn’t purely a financial issue. 

A home birth has other distinct advantages: the potential for greater freedom in choosing your birth plan, a more intimate experience, and a more comfortable environment in which to bring your baby into the world. 

If you’re underinsured and worried about the costs of a hospital birth, in some situations, a home birth can be a safe alternative, especially if you’re healthy and build your emergency fund to cover unexpected hospital expenses. 

On the other hand, hospital births are safer, and infant mortality is much lower. You have access to more advanced care and licensed physicians, which can bring immense peace of mind during what can be a very uncertain and emotional few days. And insurance coverage can help lower hospital costs, even if you need a C-section.

Overall, the decision is an important and personal one. Examine your insurance coverage to help you evaluate the options and choose the right birth plan for your family.

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Kate Underwood is a former high school French and English teacher who has turned her obsession with personal finance into a career. Her work is featured at Money Crashers and elsewhere on the web, covering side hustles, debt payoff, investing strategies, and more. She loves making finance more accessible to everyone. In her free time, she loves to hike and hang out with her husband and kids.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Get a Free Credit Score Report

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A credit report is a detailed overview of your credit history, including your payment history, lines of credit, and how consistent you’ve been with paying off your credit balances. Three national credit bureaus issue credit reports: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. While your credit report doesn’t contain your credit score, they help lenders understand your risk tolerance and eligibility for things like loans, insurance policies, jobs, and credit cards.

Your credit score, on the other hand, is a three-digit number that shows lenders how risky a borrower you are and is a crucial component of your financial health. Your credit score plays a key role in determining what loans you qualify for and the interest rate you will pay on all types of things, from mortgages to renter’s insurance to car loans. Your credit score comes from the information contained in your credit report, such as your payment history, credit utilization ratio, and age of credit, and is calculated using an algorithm. As critical as this little number is, many Americans are in the dark when it comes to their credit scores.

Fortunately, federal law entitles citizens to get a free credit report every year from the three major credit bureaus. Below, we’ll cover how to get a credit report, so you can understand where your financial health lies. Read end-to-end to learn how to get a free credit report and FICO score, or use the provided links to jump to a section of your choosing.

The Importance of Your Credit Report

Your credit report houses all sorts of pertinent information about your financial background, including your credit payment history, credit utilization ratio, and age of credit. Credit scores have become such a huge influence in the lives of consumers that millions are greatly disadvantaged by their lack of knowledge about their scores. In fact, roughly 26 million Americans are “credit invisible,” meaning they don’t have a credit report with one of the three national credit bureaus. On top of that, an additional 19 million Americans have credit scores that are unscorable by a credit-scoring model. Not having a credit score can make it difficult to get approved for a loan for a mortgage, car, or home improvement project because lenders will have no way to assess your risk level as a borrower. 

Knowing how to get a credit report can help you gain a better understanding of your financial health. As important as the information on your credit report is, you need to make it a priority to get your hands on it to help you not only find out what your current score actually is, but what is affecting it, and if there are any errors on it that are unfairly dropping your score.

Why is Your Credit Score Report So Helpful?

Considering the importance of credit scores on your financial portfolio, it makes sense to have a clear understanding of your credit’s health, which can only be identified on your credit score report. The information in your credit report is used to generate your credit score, which is what your potential lenders will see before they decide to approve you for a loan.

Your credit report includes important financial information, such as:

  • The types of credit that you use
  • How long your accounts have been open
  • How much money you owed
  • Whether you’ve paid your bills in full and on time
  • How efficiently you paid your bills
  • Late payments

It gives lenders information about how much credit you have used, and if you are looking for new sources of credit. There are a variety of lenders you might come across that look at your credit report to conduct business, such as:

  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Landlords
  • Car dealers
  • Credit card companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Department stores
  • Cell phone and cable providers
  • Utility providers
  • Employers

Your credit score has a huge influence on lenders’ decisions to approve or deny your loan applications. Many facets of your borrowing habits will be outlined on your credit report. Lenders use the information on your credit report to gauge their credit decisions on their applicants and customers from credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Lenders and other companies use the information in your credit score report to assess your applications for credit, loans, insurance, and even renting a residence.

How to Get a Free Credit Report

Many consumers wonder how to get a free credit score report. According to FTC.gov, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the three national credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—to provide free copies of credit reports once every 12 months to consumers who request one. They must also set reasonable prices for scores for consumers who need to retrieve their credit report more than once per year.  Here are some guidelines on how to get a credit report:

  • One way to access your credit report for free is by visiting the official government website AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling their toll-free number at 1.877.322.8228. Through this website, you can request your free credit report from one of the three bureaus, or have one of each credit report sent at the same time, depending on your intended use. For example, if you want to verify that all of your information, such as name, address, credit accounts, and amount owed, is accurate, you might want to request all three at once to compare. Or, you can spread out each credit report by requesting one every four months, for example.
  • Aside from obtaining a free credit score from one of the three national credit bureaus, you can also gain access to your credit report for free through other means, such as through Mint. At Mint, we team up with TransUnion to provide free credit scores. Mint’s free credit report and score simply requires you to verify your identity and once verified, you’ll have your free credit report summary within minutes. Through Mint, you can also enjoy credit monitoring, which provides credit alerts whenever TransUnion receives new credit information from any of your creditors.

For those wondering how to get a free credit score report, you can use the government’s free website AnnualCreditReport.com, or get your free credit report from websites like Mint.

taking out a home mortgage, you might want to view your credit report right away. There are three ways you can request a credit report: online, through the phone, and by mail. Here’s how long each method takes:

  • Requesting a free credit report online: When you request a free credit report online, such as through AnnualCreditReport.com or through Mint, you can get your credit report immediately. 
  • Requesting a free credit report through phone: If you order your free credit report by calling 1.877.322.8228, your credit report will be processed and mailed to your address within 15 days.
  • Requesting a free credit report through mail: You can write a letter requesting your annual credit report or fill out and mail the Annual Credit Report Request Form to the following address:

Annual Credit Report Request Service

P.O. Box 105218

Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Requesting a free credit report through mail will be processed and mailed to your address within 15 days of receipt, which can bring your total wait time up to two to three weeks for delivery.

What to Do While You’re Waiting for Your Credit Report

Whether you called to request a free credit report or mailed in an annual credit report request form, you can take a few actions to pass the time.

Check your credit score

Checking your credit score is important for a variety of reasons. It gives you an overview of your financial health, can help you spot any errors, and can show you areas of improvement. As you review your credit score, you may come across two different types: FICO and Vantage.

  • FICO Credit Score: Fair Isaac Corporation created the FICO scoring model to provide an industry-standard for determining credit-worthiness that was fair for both consumers and lenders. FICO is the most widely used credit score and uses credit scoring models that are bureau specific, meaning there is a separate scoring model for Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Because each credit bureau has different information on file, your credit score might not be the same. However, in most cases, your score only differs by a few points—anything more might be due to a mistake. 

Most FICO scores range between 300-850— the higher the score, the less risky you may seem to lenders. A “good” credit score, according to FICO, is anywhere between 670-739. In order to get a FICO credit score, you need to have at least one account open for at least six months or longer, along with at least one account that has been reported to a credit bureau within the last six months.

  • Vantage Credit Score: The VantageScore Model was created by the three credit reporting companies— Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Together, industry-leading experts created a credit scoring model using credit report information from each credit bureau. Earlier versions of the VantageScore have a credit range between 501 and 990. The new VantageScore 3.0 uses the same credit score range as the FICO credit score, which is 300-850. Similar to the FICO credit score, a “good” credit score is anywhere between 670-739.

Unlike the FICO credit score, Vantage’s credit score accepts consumers who are new to the credit market, who would otherwise be invisible to lenders. Because lenders from all three credit bureaus can use the VantageScore, credit scores should remain fairly consistent. The only time a change would occur is if a lender provides a new piece of data to a credit bureau.

With Mint, you can check your credit score for free as many times as you’d like without hurting your credit score. Mint works by using the VantageScore model, which is determined by six different factors: age and types of credit, credit utilization, payment history, total balances and debt, recent credit inquiries, and available credit. Check your free credit score with Mint today to see where your credit score stands.

Understand your credit score

Before you work on increasing your credit score, it’s important to know what your credit score looks at. There are a variety of credit score myths out there that you might believe, which is why understanding what can impact your credit score can help you make thoughtful actions to improve your score.

Here’s a list of what most credit scores measure:

  • Payment history: Your payment history is just one piece of your credit history. Your payment history looks at your past credit payments and whether they’ve been paid on time. Missed or late payments can tell lenders that it might be risky to lend to you because you may miss a future payment. Paying off your credit balance on time in full, every time can help keep your credit score in check.
  • Age of credit: The longer the credit history, the higher your credit score might be. This is because the age of your oldest account provides more data and shows lenders you have more experience managing credit. 
  • Types of credit: Your credit mix, such as credit cards, loans, mortgages, and retail accounts, can show lenders you have experience managing and paying off multiple types of credit.
  • Credit utilization: Credit utilization is the amount of money you owe compared to your available line of credit. Often expressed as a ratio, high credit utilization may make lenders view you as risky because you’re borrowing close to your limit. For example, if your credit line is $10,000, and you bought a used car for $7,000 with a credit card, your credit utilization ratio will be 70%. Experts believe you should have a credit utilization ratio of no more than 30 percent of your credit limit.
  • New credit accounts: Opening a new credit account can result in a hard inquiry, which can hurt your credit score because it shows that a lender is looking at your credit report.

Understanding what credit scores measure can help you make smart financial decisions, such as making credit card payments on time, maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, and effectively managing different types of credit.

What to Do If There’s an Error on Your Credit Report

An error on your credit report can deal a significant blow on your credit score and report. An error on your credit report can happen for a variety of reasons, such as a careless mistake, inputting wrong information, or even identity theft. Regularly checking your credit score can help you look for any discrepancies that can damage your credit score. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can issue a credit dispute for any information you think is incorrect without negatively impacting your score. If you notice an error on your credit report, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Submit a letter in writing or online to the credit reporting company that details the information you think is inaccurate. With your letter, provide any copies (not original files) that support your claim, and information such as your name, address, and the information you want to be removed or corrected on your credit report.
  • Step 2: Wait for the credit reporting company to respond. A response typically takes around 30 days from the day they receive your letter. During this time, they will investigate your claim and send the information you sent to the lenders that provided the information. If the lender finds there was a mistake, they must inform all three credit bureaus.
  • Step 3: Write a letter to the lender or information provider that may have made a mistake detailing the item you think is wrong in your credit report. Provide any copies of important information that supports your dispute and have them review your claim.
  • Step 4: Review your results. Each credit reporting company is required to provide you with the results of your investigation. If the dispute wasn’t resolved, you can have the credit bureau make a note on your future credit reports that there was a dispute.

As stated, disputing a credit report doesn’t hurt your credit score. If you believe there is an error on your credit report, take the time to resolve the error. Not doing so can lower your credit score, which can make it challenging to get approved for a loan or urge lenders to tack on higher interest rates for loans.

Mint.com is the Best Place to Go for Your Credit Score Report

Credit scores are an essential component of your financial portfolio. Now Mint offers a new feature that allows you to access your free credit report summary to help you understand what is influencing your credit score so you can learn how to improve it. You’ll be able to find out your credit score for free without ever having to use a credit card.

This new feature is just an extension of Mint’s commitment to giving consumers like you access to critical information that influences your financial health. All you have to do to get your free credit score from Mint is log into your Mint account and get started. With Mint, you can also work toward improving your credit and financing standing overall, create a budget, and stay on top of bills. If you’re not yet a member of Mint, learn more at Mint.com about becoming a member to gain access to all their helpful financial tools today!

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