Dear Penny: I’m So Frugal I Make My Own Toothpaste, So Why Am I Always Broke?

Dear Penny,
So you need to ask yourself some tough questions. Would you rather work your dream job or a job that offers financial security? How important is it that your job actually uses your master’s degree?
College was a struggle for me. As a student with a learning disability, I struggled and school took longer. When I graduated with my master’s of arts in 2008, the economy collapsed, and we went into survival mode. 
We are struggling to stay on a budget with three kids. With increasing prices for basics, we find ourselves back in that space of struggle, overdraft and panic. We’ve tried using budgeting apps and find them confusing or hard to keep up with. 
You have two part-time jobs. But two part-time jobs often don’t add up to one full-time job in terms of compensation. You may not qualify for benefits like health insurance or a company 401(k) match when you’re not a full-time employee. Career advancement can also be hard when you’re a part-timer. That’s not to mention the brain drain that often comes with working two jobs.
Taking a hard look at your current jobs is going to be difficult. You finally found your dream job after a decade of struggles. You made significant sacrifices to earn your master’s degree, and you’re still paying for your education.
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Keep in mind that most people aren’t working their dream jobs. That doesn’t mean they don’t pursue their passions. It’s entirely possible to work a full-time job because it offers good pay and benefits, and then do what you love on the side. There are countless 9-to-5ers whose true passion is blogging, podcasting, volunteer work or playing in a band.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com


If you earned your master’s in a discipline like arts or social work, you may need to accept that a better-paying job may not take advantage of your degree. That’s not to say you’ll never use the skills you acquired from your education. But you may need to shift gears and look for jobs that don’t require your specific degree.
For example, you might have separate envelopes for groceries, clothing, gas and pet expenses. You put the amount of cash you’ve budgeted for each category in the envelope. If you run out of cash for that envelope, you’re done spending in that category for the month. Only in a true emergency do you turn to your debit or credit card.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
People don’t go broke from buying grocery store eggs and name-brand toothpaste. What you have isn’t a spending problem. You clearly have an income problem — meaning you aren’t bringing in enough income to pay for basic expenses and save for the future.
We have done everything we can to survive: We got our grocery budget down by eating a lot of rice and lentils, by getting eggs from a friend and milk from a local farmer. We use free apps and the library for streaming apps. We make our own toothpaste. We are thrift store champs for clothing. 
-J.
There’s so much you’ve done right here. You’ve found creative ways to be frugal, while still providing for your family. You own a home. You’re making progress on your student loan. Now it’s time to take stock of how to maximize your income, even if that means your passion won’t be your full-time job.
There’s only so much you can cut from your variable expenses, i.e., the ones like groceries, clothing and entertainment that you have some control over on a daily basis. Your fixed expenses, like housing, transportation and student loans, tend to eat up a much bigger chunk of your budget, and they’re a lot harder to cut.
This approach can help you avoid overdrafting. Sometimes it helps people identify areas where they didn’t realize they were overspending. But I suspect that in your case, this method will highlight the difficult reality so many Americans are facing right now, which is that income is the problem.
Privacy Policy
You don’t say what subject you earned your master’s degree in. But it sounds like it’s not in a particularly lucrative field.

Dear J.,

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After 10 years of struggle, I FINALLY found my dream job, which is part time. Now I have a second job that uses my master’s degree, but it’s only 10 hours a week. With family help, we were able to buy a house. With two jobs, I am finally able to start paying on student loans and not defer them. 

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2022

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

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

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

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

Allentown, PA

Allentown, PA

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

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

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

Bethel Park, PA

Bethel Park, PA

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

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

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

Camp Hill, PA

Camp Hill, PA

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

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

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

Collegeville, PA

Collegeville, PA

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

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

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

Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PA

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

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

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

Hershey, PA

Hershey, PA

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

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

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

Lancaster, PA

Lancaster, PA

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

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

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

Perkasie, PA

Perkasie, PA

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

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

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

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA

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

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

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

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

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

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

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

Reading, PA

Reading, PA

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

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

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

Scranton, PA

Scranton, PA

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

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

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

Willow Grove, PA

Willow Grove, PA

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

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

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

Find an apartment for rent in Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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Is a Warehouse Store (Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s) Membership Worth It? – Costs, Pros & Cons

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Smart-shopping blogs and magazines teem with stories about the great deals you can get at warehouse stores. Shopping experts say joining a warehouse club can save you money on nearly everything — groceries, tires, even vacations. 

But there’s one obvious snag. Before you can fill up your cart with these bargains, you have to pay an annual fee of around $50 just to get in the door. How can you tell if your annual savings will be enough to offset this membership fee? 

To answer that question, you need to delve into the murky depths of warehouse store shopping. That means getting the details on how warehouse clubs work, what they cost, and how good the prices are on the items you buy most.

How Warehouse Stores Work

Warehouse stores use a different pricing model from other retail stores. Regular retailers, such as Walmart, make their money from the markup they charge. That’s the difference between the wholesale price they pay to their suppliers and the retail price they charge to customers.

According to Entrepreneur, the markup at a typical retail store is around 50%. In other words, the price you pay is twice what the store paid.

By contrast, warehouse stores charge a much lower markup. For instance, Costco’s markup is only 14% to 15%, according to Forbes. They make up for the lost profits by charging a fixed yearly fee to each customer. 

That’s why these stores sometimes refer to themselves as buying clubs. You pay upfront to become a member, and in return, you get to buy products at rock-bottom prices. In addition, you gain access to various other special deals on everything from health care to travel.

Top Warehouse Store Chains

There are three major warehouse chains in the United States. The biggest is Sam’s Club. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, started this store in 1983 as a supplier for small businesses.

Today, Sam’s Club is a nationwide chain with nearly 600 stores in the U.S. and millions of members. Its products range from groceries and office supplies to big-ticket items like jewelry and furniture.

The closest competitor to Sam’s Club is Costco. This chain started in Seattle in 1983. Ten years later, it merged with another club store called Price Club, which had been catering to business owners since 1976. 

Today, Costco boasts over 100 million members and has hundreds of stores stretching across the United States and beyond. The chain sets itself apart from other warehouse stores with its focus on high-end goods, such as organic food and designer jeans.

The third major chain is BJ’s Wholesale Club. BJ’s is a smaller chain than its competitors, with 200-plus stores in the eastern U.S., Michigan, and Ohio. But like Sam’s Club and Costco, it offers a wide range of goods and services, from groceries to vacation packages.

Warehouse Stores Work

People who love warehouse stores really love them. Forbes reports that Costco members are extremely loyal, with more than 9 out of 10 choosing to renew their membership each year.

And they have many good reasons to feel this way. Warehouse stores offer a plethora of benefits, including the following:

1. Low Prices — At Least on Certain Items

The main reason shoppers love warehouse stores is their low prices. Independent studies have found that warehouse clubs really do offer great bargains in certain areas, such as:

  • Groceries. In 2018, Consumers’ Checkbook went grocery shopping at warehouse clubs and supermarkets. It found that prices at both Sam’s Club and Costco beat major supermarket chains by 17% to 41%. (However, BJ’s prices failed to beat Walmart’s.)
  • Gasoline. A 2020 analysis by CSP compared prices across gas stations around the country. Costco was the winner, beating the national average price by nearly $0.25 per gallon.
  • Prescription Drugs. In 2018, Consumer Reports checked retail prices on five drugs at over 150 U.S. pharmacies. The complete set cost over $900 at CVS, but only $153 at Sam’s Club and $105 at Costco. And some generic drugs at Sam’s Club are only $4.
  • Car Tires. In a 2021 analysis by Clark Howard, Sam’s Club was second only to Walmart for the lowest average price on car tires. All three warehouse clubs were in the top six.
  • Booze. According to Spoon University, Costco offers the lowest unit prices on all types of alcohol. For those willing to buy in bulk, the club charges significantly less for Skyy vodka and Blue Moon beer than other retailers.
  • Pet Food. In a 2019 analysis of name-brand pet food prices by Consumers’ Checkbook, Sam’s Club and BJ’s topped the list for lowest average prices. (Costco, which mainly sells its own Kirkland Signature brand, was not covered.)

2. Access to Services

When you join a warehouse club, you don’t just get access to its products. These stores also offer a variety of services exclusively for members.

For instance, a Costco membership gives you access to Costco’s car-buying service. It provides haggle-free low prices on new and used cars and RVs from approved dealers. It also gives you 15% off car parts and services from participating providers.

Costco members can also save on vacations with Costco Travel. It provides special deals on airfare, hotels, auto rentals, cruises, and travel packages. The store also offers photo printing, banking services, insurance, home renovation, eye care, and bottled water delivery.

Other warehouse clubs offer a similar menu of services. Sam’s Club doesn’t provide banking or insurance services, but it gives members discounts on concert and theater tickets, theme parks, and attractions. 

Sam’s Club also offers discounts on various subscription services. Members can get lower prices on music streaming, video streaming, educational apps for kids, and fitness apps.

Likewise, BJ’s offers travel, vision care, home improvement, and photo services for members. One special perk it provides is free technical support for all its electronics.

3. High-Quality Store Brands

Shoppers are impressed with the quality of warehouse stores’ house brands — especially at Costco. In a 2019 Consumer Reports survey, Costco was one of only three out of 96 grocery chains to earn top marks for the quality of its store brands. 

The magazine’s editors get more specific in a 2017 article. They call several Kirkland products  as good as or better than name-brand competitors. These include laundry and dishwasher detergent, batteries, toilet paper, bacon, mayonnaise, and organic chicken stock. 

Another product that gets high marks from reviewers is Kirkland Signature dog food. According to DogFood.Guide, this brand has “surprisingly high quality” for a store brand. It’s made by Diamond Pet Foods, a leading manufacturer of high-end foods like Taste of the Wild.

Both Kirkland and Member’s Mark, the house brand from Sam’s Club, get good reviews for some wines and liquors. The Beverage Tasting Institute gives ratings of at least 90 points out of 100 to several Kirkland wines and to Member’s Mark tequila, vodka, and gin.

4. One-Stop Shopping

Warehouse stores allow you to condense many errands into one. You can pick up your glasses, shop for shoes, get new tires, book a vacation, and buy groceries all in one trip.

5. Free Samples

On weekends, shoppers at warehouse stores can stroll through the aisles noshing on samples of assorted food items. Naturally, the stores hope that trying the products will inspire you to buy them, but there’s no obligation. You’re perfectly free to chow down and walk away.

6. A Pleasant Shopping Experience

On the whole, warehouse club members are satisfied shoppers. In a survey by Consumer Reports, Costco shoppers reported being more satisfied with their experience than shoppers at nine other major retail chains. 

A 2021 report by the American Customer Service Index found similar results. Costco topped a list of 20 retailers, with 81% customer satisfaction. Sam’s Club and BJ’s came in a bit lower down the rankings, with a respectable 79% and 77% respectively.

7. Good Returns Policies

One likely reason why warehouse store shoppers are so satisfied is that if they’re ever unhappy with a purchase, it’s easy to return. Both Costco and Sam’s Club offer an absolute 100% money-back guarantee on virtually everything they sell.

If you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can return it with your receipt at any time. One exception is electronic items, which can’t be returned after 90 days. BJ’s policy is a bit more restrictive, allowing returns only up to one year.

Costco Warehouse Good Returns Policies

Although warehouse stores have undeniable benefits, they have their drawbacks too. Here are a few good reasons not to do your shopping at a warehouse store:

1. Membership Fees

The most obvious downside of warehouse club membership is the membership cost. The standard annual membership fee for a household or a business is $45 per year at Sam’s Club, $55 per year at BJ’s, and $60 per year at Costco. 

In addition, all three of the major warehouse chains offer higher-tier memberships. They’re called Executive Membership at Costco, Plus at Sam’s Club, and Perks Rewards at BJ’s.

These tiers cost roughly twice as much as a regular club membership. In exchange, they give you 2% back on nearly everything in the store. That means you have to spend between $2,750 and $3,000 per year before the higher-level membership will pay for itself.

2. Oversized Packages and Quantities

Warehouse stores are known for their jumbo-size packages. Buying in bulk to save money makes perfect sense with nonperishable goods, such as soap or paper towels. You can safely stock up on these bulk items as long as you have the space to store them. 

However, bulk buying can be a problem with products that don’t keep well. A five-pound bag of shredded cheese is no bargain unless you can (and actually want to) eat that much cheese before it goes bad.

3. Limited Selection

Warehouse clubs are good for grocery shopping, but you can’t always buy everything on your shopping list there. In the 2018 Consumers’ Checkbook study, the three warehouse stores only carried about half the items in a standard basket of groceries.

BJ’s was the best of the lot, with about 57% of the items available. Sam’s Club had 52% of them, and Costco had only 44%. Moreover, most of the items at all three stores were only available in bulk containers, not standard sizes.

4. Impulse Buys

Warehouse stores are huge and crammed with an incredible variety of goods. Even if all you need is cereal, milk, and toothpaste, you’ll probably have to walk past jewelry, clothes, and toys to get to those three staples. 

This makes it very easy to fall victim to the temptation of impulse buys. You could easily go in with your three-item shopping list and walk out with a whole cart full of unplanned purchases. Worse, some of these could be big-ticket items like a TV set.

5. Restrictions on Coupons

If you’re in the habit of using coupons to save money on groceries, the warehouse store isn’t the place to do it. Neither Costco nor Sam’s Club accepts manufacturer’s coupons at all. BJ’s takes them, but it only accepts select coupons in digital form.

5. Deals That Aren’t So Great

With such a vast assortment of goods gathered together in one store, warehouse stores seem ideal for one-stop shopping. However, if you buy everything on your list there, you’ll probably spend more than you need to.

My local Costco has great prices on a few staple foods, such as nuts. But its fresh foods, such as produce and eggs, are nearly always more expensive than the ones at nearby supermarkets.

Even paper goods like paper towels and toilet paper aren’t such great deals. Two dozen rolls of toilet paper at Costco cost more per roll than one dozen of the store brand from Trader Joe’s.

Warehouse stores also tempt buyers with big-ticket items like appliances, furniture, and electronics. But these products are almost never bargains. 

For instance, the current Costco savings brochure advertises LED TV sets for $700 to $3,000. But the top-rated LED TV in the same size range at Best Buy costs just $600. And a laptop Costco advertises for $700 is similar to one Lenovo sells for $565.

Deals That Arent Great

Deciding Whether It’s Worth It

The best way to figure out whether a warehouse club membership is worth it for you is to check it out in person. Scout up and down the aisles, check prices on the items you buy regularly, and  compare them to the prices at your local supermarket.

There’s just one problem with this plan. Most warehouse stores won’t even let you in the door to check prices without a membership card. One way to get around this problem is to ask a friend who’s a member to let you tag along on their next trip. 

Also, nonmembers are allowed to shop at Costco with a store gift card. However, only Costco members can buy these cards. To get around that rule, ask a friend to buy one for you or buy one secondhand through a gift card exchange site.

Two Real-Life Examples

Back in 2006, my husband and I took advantage of a free day pass to check out the prices at our local BJ’s Wholesale Club. We found that for most items we buy, BJ’s didn’t have lower prices than other stores. 

For instance, the $18 DVDs and $700 laptops in the electronics section couldn’t beat online deals. A 12-pound bag of baking soda cost more per pound than a supermarket store brand. And 24-roll packs of toilet paper cost nearly twice what we paid per roll at Trader Joe’s.

We still found good deals on a few items, like cereal, rice, and chocolate chips. But crunching the numbers, we found that we wouldn’t save enough on these items in a year to pay for the club membership.

But in 2017, we decided to give Costco a try. My husband needed new glasses, and we found the savings on those would more than pay for the $60 membership cost. 

Once we were inside the store, we started finding deals on all sorts of other things we buy regularly. Organic sugar, raisins, nuts, oatmeal, milk, and olive oil were all cheaper at Costco than at local supermarkets.

Here’s a sample of our savings from a single Costco trip. For each item, I’ve listed the amount we bought, the price, and what the same amount would have cost at the next cheapest store.

Product Costco Price Competitor’s Price Savings

Raisin Bran (14.34 pounds) $21.87 $24.38 (Aldi) $2.51

Brussels Sprouts (2 pounds) $4.99 $4.99 (Trader Joe’s) $0

Clementines (5 pounds) $5.49 $5.49 (supermarket sale) $0

Birdseed (80 pounds) $27.98 $31.96 (Lowe’s) $3.98

Organic Raisins (4 pounds) $10.79 $11.96 (Trader Joe’s) $1.17

Walnuts (3 pounds) $10.89 $14.97 (Aldi) $4.08

Canola Oil (6 quarts) $7.69 $9.00 (Shop-Rite) $1.31

Organic Sugar (10 pounds) $7.99 $17.45 (Trader Joe’s) $9.46 (less packaging waste as well)

On this one trip, we saved a total of $22.51 on a bill of $99.54. That means we saved about 22% off our entire bill. According to our credit card statement, we spent a total of $723.50 at Costco in 2018. If we saved 22% on everything we bought there, that’s a savings of $159.17.

In addition, by becoming members, we qualified for a Costco credit card. It offered 4% cash back on gas, 3% on restaurants and travel, and 2% on everything at Costco. Those rewards save us another $34 per year or so.

So, all told, our Costco membership is saving us over $193 per year. That’s more than three times the cost of the membership card. 

Factors That Affect Your Choice

As you can see from our experience, warehouse stores aren’t all the same. BJ’s Wholesale Club definitely wasn’t a money-saver for us, but Costco definitely was.

However, what works for our family isn’t necessarily what will work for yours. It depends largely on what you buy and how much you pay for it.

Based on our experience, these are the factors most likely to make a warehouse club membership a good deal for you.

Bulk Buying

On our initial trip to BJ’s, we had to pass up a lot of deals because the containers were too big. A 30-pound sack of rice cost less per pound than a 10-pound bag, but it would have taken us years to go through it all.

However, if you have a large family or a small business, you probably go through supplies faster. That makes these jumbo-sized packages a more reasonable deal for you. All you need is enough storage space to hold them and keep them fresh.

Brand Loyalty

My husband and I usually prefer to buy store brands rather than name brands. For most products, we find their quality is just as good and their price is much lower. Most of the products we buy at Costco are the ones that come in the Kirkland store brand. 

That’s one reason we didn’t have much luck at BJ’s on our first trip. Most of its products, at least at the time, were name brands. The store’s price for Star-Kist tuna was cheaper than the price for Star-Kist at our local Stop & Shop, but no cheaper than the Stop & Shop store brand.

However, many people are loyal to specific brands. For instance, your family may insist on Heinz ketchup or Downy fabric softener. If so, there’s a good chance that a warehouse store can offer you a better price on it than your regular supermarket. 

But before you sign up for a membership, make sure the warehouse store actually stocks the specific brands you want. If you shelled out $50 for a membership card and then find out the store doesn’t carry Heinz ketchup, you’re out of luck.

Few Local Supermarkets

Nearly all our food savings from Costco come from just a few items. On most foods, especially fresh foods, the warehouse can’t beat the prices at our area supermarkets. Even if their regular prices are higher than Costco’s, we can always wait for a sale.

However, in some areas — especially rural areas — there are no big supermarkets. The main food sellers are local grocery stores and convenience stores with high prices and few great sales. If you live in an area like this, the regular prices at warehouse stores look a lot more appealing. 

A Convenient Location

Finally, location matters. If the nearest warehouse store is 50 miles away, it isn’t practical to shop there more than once or twice per year. That hardly gives you a chance to get your money’s worth out of your membership. Plus, the cost of gas will eat into your savings. 

But if the distance to the store is less than 10 miles, regular trips become practical. You can visit every few weeks to stock up on everything you need. 

Factors Affect Choice

Avoiding the Pitfalls

If you decide to invest in a warehouse club membership — or you already have one — use it wisely. To get the most for your money, maximize the benefits of warehouse shopping and minimize the drawbacks.

Don’t Give In to Temptation

Impulse buys are one of the biggest hazards of the warehouse store. This can happen at the supermarket too, but Costco and Sam’s Club have a much wider array of shiny toys to tempt you. 

However, you can avoid them the same way you would in any other store. Make a shopping list and stick to it. If you see something that looks irresistible, don’t stick it right in your cart. Instead,  jot down the item and the price and walk away. 

The next day, take another look at your note. If you still want the item, you can go back to the store and get it. But chances are, by the time you’ve had 24 hours to cool off, the new toy will have lost a lot of its appeal.

Check Unit Prices

Warehouse stores don’t always beat the supermarket on price. However, comparing prices is tricky because the containers at the warehouse store tend to be so much larger. 

To be sure you’re getting a good deal, compare unit prices. That’s the cost per ounce, quart, or whatever unit the product is measured in. 

Some stores have the unit prices of different products marked on the shelf. However, if your warehouse store doesn’t, it’s easy to calculate. Just whip out your phone and divide the total price by the container size. 

Then compare this number to the price you’re used to paying at your regular store. It helps to keep a grocery price book that lists each store’s unit prices for items you buy often. That way you don’t have to try to remember one number while staring at another.

Don’t Overbuy

When you compare unit prices, the biggest container often looks like the best deal. However, a five-gallon tub of mayonnaise is no bargain if it goes bad before you use it up. 

If you’re buying something with an unlimited shelf life, such as shampoo, then buying by the case is no problem. But when you’re shopping in the food department, try to be realistic. Go for a size you can handle, even if the unit price is a bit higher.

Focus on the Best Deals

It’s tempting to take advantage of the warehouse’s store’s variety and do all your shopping in one trip. But if you do this, you’re almost sure to overpay for something. To get the most bang for your buck, focus on the items that are great deals at your particular store. 

This goes double when you’re shopping for a big-ticket item, such as jewelry or electronics. Don’t assume the warehouse store’s prices are lowest. Take the time to shop around and look for the best deal.

Focus Best Deals

Final Word

A single visit may not be enough to figure out whether a warehouse club membership is a good deal for you. If you’re still on the fence, try signing up on a trial basis. 

From time to time, BJ’s Wholesale Club offers a free 90-day membership to give shoppers a chance to get to know the store. Keep your eyes out for these offers in your mailbox and in coupon circulars.

If you don’t want to wait, try BJ’s discounted membership offer. It gives you all the benefits of membership for $25 — less than half the regular price. It’s not free, but it’s a chance to try the store without risking the full $55.

Moreover, all three warehouse chains — BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club — promise a full refund of your membership fees at any time if you’re not satisfied. You can give any of these stores a try for a month or two, then cancel if you decide it’s not for you.

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

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Get 8 Free At-Home COVID Tests From Your Health Insurance

If you have private health insurance, you’re eligible for free at-home COVID tests starting Saturday, Jan. 15. The Biden Administration announced earlier this week that private insurers would be required to foot the bill for eight home COVID tests per month for each customer covered under a plan.

But finding tests could still be a challenge in the weeks to come. Also, many insurers won’t have the systems in place that would allow customers to access tests without paying out of pocket. That means it’s likely that you could have to pay up-front for tests and then submit a claim to reimbursement for your insurer.

Want to learn more about how to access free home COVID tests? Here’s everything you need to know.

Is My Insurance Company Required to Provide Free Home COVID Tests?

Yes, if you’re covered by a private insurance plan. If you have coverage through your employer or you bought a plan on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, your plan is required to cover the cost of eight tests per month.

Does Everyone in My Household Get 8 Free Tests?

Yes. The mandate requires insurers to cover eight free tests each month for each person covered under a plan. If you have a family of four and everyone is insured under your plan, your household can receive 32 tests per month.

How Do I Get My Free COVID Testing Kits?

Check with your insurer about whether it has a network of preferred pharmacies and retailers. If you get your test from within your insurance company’s network, you should be able to get your tests with no out-of-pocket cost.

You can also buy your test elsewhere and submit a claim for reimbursement. If you go that route, be sure to save a copy of your receipt. But be aware that your insurer can cap reimbursement at $12 per test if it has a preferred network and you choose to go out of network. If your insurance company doesn’t have a preferred network, they’re required to cover 100% of the cost no matter where you buy your testing kits.

Pro Tip

If your insurer requires you to submit a claim for reimbursement, purchase your COVID tests separately from other items and get a receipt to streamline things.

Will I Need to Pay Up Front?

Check with your insurance company. But there’s a good chance you’ll need to pay out of pocket for tests at the beginning. As The New York Times reported, home tests don’t have the billing codes that insurers need to process claims. Many insurance companies will require customers to save their receipt and submit a claim for reimbursement, just as you would if you went out of network for care.

Can I Buy All 8 Tests at Once?

Yes. You’re allowed to buy all eight tests at once or space out your purchases throughout the month. But keep in mind that as of this writing on Jan. 14, 2022, testing kits remain in extremely short supply.

What if I Don’t Have Health Insurance?

The federal government is purchasing 1 billion home tests and will soon launch a website that will allow anyone to request a free home test. You can also go to a community health center that offers free rapid tests.

Can I Get Free Tests if I’m on Medicaid?

Yes. State Medicare programs and Children’s Health Insurance Programs were already required to cover home testing kits under the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that passed in March 2021.

Can I Get Free Tests if I’m on Medicare?

At-home tests aren’t covered by original Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your plan about whether they’ll pay for home testing. You can also access free tests once the federal test-ordering website launches or go to a community health center for rapid testing.

Will the VA Cover Home Tests?

Veterans Affairs won’t send out free tests for now, but in many circumstances veterans can receive free testing at VA hospitals. Once the federal website launches, veterans will also be able to order free tests.

Will I Get Reimbursed for Tests I’ve Already Paid for?

Check with your insurer. Insurance companies aren’t required by federal law to retroactively cover home tests purchased before Jan. 15, 2022. However, some states already require insurers to cover at-home tests.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

5 Best Esports Stocks to Buy in 2022

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

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

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

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

Best Esports Stocks to Buy in 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Can’t Talk About Gaming Without Mentioning Activision Blizzard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2. Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA)

Leader in Sports Gaming With Massive Franchises 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Yes, Amazon is in Gaming Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4. Huya Inc. (NYSE: HUYA)

An Underdog That Could Become a Massive Winner 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Growing Company with Significant Upside

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

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

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

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

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

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


Consider Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

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

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

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


Final Word

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

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

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

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Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Best West Elm-Style Home Decor From Walmart – Us Weekly

Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.

Decorating a home can feel daunting, but nothing feels as rewarding as seeing a space come together. Once we complete a new room, we feel like we’re an expert on HGTV. But don’t worry, Chip and Joanna Gaines, we’re not at your level quite yet. Our biggest challenge is achieving an elevated aesthetic at an affordable price.

If you’re trying to furnish your place without breaking the bank, we’ve got you covered. We rounded up our favorite finds that give you the West Elm look on a Walmart budget. Think rustic yet classic — these polished pieces will serve as the focal points of your foundation.

This Kitchen Cart and TV Stand

rolling kitchen cart, TV stand
Walmart

This rolling kitchen cart is so versatile! Part island, part bar cart and part TV stand, this multi-purpose portable product features wood and metal construction, shelves and drawers for added storage and locking wheels. “Beautiful!” one shopper declared. “My favorite new piece of furniture.”

See It!

Get the Whalen Santa Fe Kitchen Cart with Metal Shelves and TV Stand Feature for $169 (originally $229) at Walmart!

This Tufted Push Back Recliner

tufted arm chair, recliner
Walmart

Sit back and relax in this push back recliner, available in beige and grey. With bronze nail-head trims and button-tufted details, this armchair looks straight out of West Elm! “They are beautiful and so comfortable,” one customer commented. “Surprised such an amazing product came from Walmart.”

See It!

Get the Better Homes and Garden Tufted Push Back Recliner for just $259 (originally $299) at Walmart!

This Media Fireplace

media fireplace, entertainment system
Walmart

For an all-in-one entertainment experience, check out this multi-functional media console — complete with a working fireplace! If you plan on spending all winter bundled up binging TV, then this is the storage system for you. “I am in love with this beautiful fireplace!” one shopper gushed. “It is going to be so useful during the holidays it makes everything look more festive and my living room has not ever been more cozy looking.”

See It!

Get the Whalen Barston Media Fireplace for TV’s up to 55 inches for just $224 (originally $259) at Walmart!

These Table Lamps

steel table lamps
Walmart

These stunning steel table lamps are lit, as the kids say. Topped with bright white drum shades, this set of two works perfectly on matching nightstands or end tables. According to one review, “These lamps are very attractive and will go with pretty much any decor. Also, they use 100 watt bulbs which are hard to find.”

See It!

Get the Regency Hill Modern Table Lamps Set of 2 Brushed Steel Metal White Drum Shade for Living Room, Family, Bedroom for just $60 (originally $70) at Walmart!

This Bathroom Organizer Shelf

bathroom organizer, shelf
Walmart

If you’re searching for more storage space in your bathroom, look no further. This organizer shelf fits the bill! Made of durable wood, this bathroom rack features open shelving and drawers for additional organization. One customer called it “stylish, sturdy and easy to build.”

See It!

Get the Costway Over The Toilet Space Saver Bathroom Organizer Storage Shelf w/ 2 Drawers White for just $110 (originally $160) at Walmart!

This Console Table

console table, hallway
Walmart

Get you a table that does both — acts as an entryway table or a sofa table. “I absolutely love it,” shared one shopper. “Very sturdy and when you put your items on it, it looks so homey. Highly recommended.” This sleek console table comes in four different shades of rich dark wood.

See It!

Get the Mainstays Parsons Console Table, Multiple Colors Available for just $55 (originally $69) at Walmart!

This Woven Throw Pillow

woven throw pillow, boho
Walmart

Spice up your space with some modern boho decor. This woven throw pillow is a must-have! One review reported, “These pillows are great quality and so affordable! Very pleased with this purchase. They are definitely more decorative than for actual lounging, but perfect for bedroom throw pillows.”

See It!

Get the Lr Home Zanthia Alabaster Stripe Beige, Natural 20″ x 20″ Indoor Square Hand – Crafted Throw Pillow for just $36 (originally $73) at Walmart!

This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as face masks, self tanners, Lululemon-style leggings and all the best gifts for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.

The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at [email protected] Happy shopping!

Source: usmagazine.com

How to Style a Gallery Wall

After moving into a new place, the biggest question you’re asking yourself is likely, “How am I going to decorate?”

A great use for all that blank, white space is a gallery wall. This is an easy way to feature your favorite framed artwork and personal photographs.

Follow our tips to style your own gallery wall:

1. Decide what to hang: Choose your medium (painting, drawing, photograph), size, and frame (including color, material, and shape). Don’t be afraid to mix and match! When adding variation, just make sure it’s balanced and doesn’t clash. If you have a collection of various frames but want to make everything uniform, consider painting them all the same color.

2. Plan the arrangement: Play around with the layout before you start putting nails into the wall. Decide if you’re going to group multiple pieces in a shape (diamonds, squares, and rectangles work well) or in a straight line. You might want to do a little sketch on paper (to scale). Then lay out your collage on the floor. Place each frame approximately one or two inches apart for cohesiveness. If you’re mixing sizes, start with the biggest piece and work around them with the smaller ones. Consider choosing one piece of art as the focal point and place it in the center.

3. Test your layout: Once you’re happy with the arrangement, cut out pieces of paper that fit each framed piece. Mock up your collage on the wall with paper and tape to help visualize the result. Make tweaks, and move the pieces around until the layout is just right.

4. Start hanging: This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Break out your hammer and nails. Place the frames over the paper, replacing each cut-out with the actual piece.

Once you’re done, take a few steps back to admire your work! One of the best things about a gallery wall is that you can swap personal photos and art if you find a new piece that you want to feature.

Source: century21.com

The 15 Best Neighborhoods in Detroit for Renters in 2022

Motor City is full of neighborhoods that provide gorgeous views, active nightlife and world-class culture.

While there’s no shortage of amazing places to live, actually choosing one is difficult. Luckily, the best neighborhoods in Detroit have great rental opportunities to fit just about every lifestyle. And you’ll be deeply invested in your new neighborhood — like a true Detroiter should — before you know it.

Here are the 15 best neighborhoods in Detroit.

  • Walk Score: 62/100

Bagley is a neighborhood that offers the best of many worlds. Located near University Park, along Livernois, you’ll have access to amenities on the vibrant Avenue of Fashion, one of Detroit’s top commercial strips. McNichols Road is another commercial center with bars and coffee shops. Local restaurants also abound, ranging from casual Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles to fine dining at Table No. 2.

Perfect for people who enjoy living and breathing Detroit’s energy while paying reasonable prices, living in Bagley means quality amenities, a great location and no shortage of activities.

  • Walk Score: 73/100

As the oldest Detroit neighborhood, Corktown has apartments with charm, character and an assortment of price points. Though a popular tourist destination for the shops, bars and restaurants located right on Michigan Avenue, this one strip is just a part of Corktown’s appeal.

Leave Michigan Avenue behind and explore the cutest collection of mixed-era buildings as you make your way to Mudgie’s for the tastiest sandwich in town. Other gathering spots locals flock to are Trumbull & Porter, a local and tourist hangout, and Batch Brewing Co., where they make elevated bar food and beer on site.

Downtown Detroit, MI

Downtown Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $2,097
  • Median 2-BR rent: $2,587
  • Walk Score: 94/100

Almost overnight it seems as if Downtown Detroit transformed from a sleepy retail and business area to a thriving city center with new apartments steadily being developed, in both new and vintage buildings.

Some of the best parks are home to Downtown Detroit. That includes Spirit Plaza and Cadillac, and most museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts. With event spaces, restaurants and pubs on every street and the riverfront, there’s no better place to live for those who move with the beat of the urban landscape (and who don’t like to drive).

  • Walk Score: 59/100

Warren Avenue bisects East English Village, a major street providing access to key bus lines that will easily take you into the downtown area and bike lanes aplenty. While community-strengthening redevelopment efforts are in progress, you can still visit the historic Alger Theatre and the classic Detroit bar Cadieux Café — the only place in the entire country where they offer feather bowling.

Heralded as one of the best neighborhoods in Detroit for years, East English Village has apartments for rent that are modest, well-maintained and affordable.

Gold Coast, Detroit, MI

Gold Coast, Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $699
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,652
  • Walk Score: 62/100

Home to large apartment buildings, the Gold Coast sits along Detroit’s riverfront outside of Downtown. Located next to everything, you have your pick of the best food, bars, venues and entertainment Detroit has to offer.

Along with amenities and activities, there are great schools and tons of parks so kids will always have something to keep them interested. In this densely populated area, you’ll get the true urban experience and some amazing views from your living room window.

  • Walk Score: 48/100

Jefferson-Chalmers is officially recognized as a National Treasure, which pretty much means it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Detroit. A waterfront neighborhood, blocks of apartments line riverfront streets and even have backyard access to waterways that lead to the Detroit River and Lake Saint Clair.

A great place to hang out, Jefferson-Chalmers has a yacht club, amazing architecture, a fishing park, great shopping and more. Known for its business investment and community development, Jefferson-Chalmers is continually evolving and will remain a wonderful place to settle into.

  • Walk Score: 84/100

East of Downtown, Lafayette Park is a historic neighborhood with the largest collection of buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe in the world. It’s hailed for its progressive architecture and rare stability. It’s one of the most important and successful urban renewal zones in the entire country.

Located near many activities, it’s a short walk to Eastern Market and Downtown and a quick bike ride to the Riverfront. The area is dedicated to its residents, with some living there since its founding and newcomers who actively participate in the care of Lafayette Park.

Midtown, Detroit, MI

Midtown, Detroit, MI

  • Walk Score: 93/100

Just outside of Downtown Detroit, Midtown is a neighborhood anchored by Wayne State University, nearby hospitals and the Detroit Institute of Arts. This is an ideal place to live if you relish having the ability to walk everywhere. You’ll be near Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena, venues for major sports teams and entertainment.

Adjacent to major areas of shopping and fine dining, it will be impossible to stay inside when Grey Ghost, City Bird and Bottom Line Coffee House are all within walking distance. A cultural district connecting major libraries and museums will also call Midtown home.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,762
  • Median 2-BR rent: $2,225
  • Walk Score: 91/100

A lively neighborhood and business district, New Center is full of vibrancy and diversity, as well as first-rate shopping, dining and entertainment. Dominated by Fisher and Cadillac Place, formerly the General Motors building, it’s an ideal place to work, play and live.

Living in New Center will also give you a special treat every Fourth of July weekend when Comerica TestFest occurs, a premier music and food festival. The streets of New Center transform completely as the music takes and good times take over.

Palmer Park, Detroit, MI

Palmer Park, Detroit, MI

  • Median 2-BR rent: $800
  • Walk Score: 54/100

The apartment district in Palmer Park is a part of the National Register of Historic Places. This neighborhood is one of the few that’s close to the action without breaking the bank. Apartments have eclectic architecture and many sit around Palmer Park, a gorgeous green space with walking paths, picnic areas and a fountain.

State Fairgrounds provides Palmer Park residents with a wide range of amenities and there are many bars, restaurants and brunch places springing up all the time to fall in love with.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,250
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,800
  • Walk Score: 75/100

When living in Rivertown Warehouse District, you’ll see freighters, kayaks and boats cruising on the Detroit River regularly. A neighborhood with mostly apartments and condos, the river is the backyard of most residents.

Adding to Rivertown Warehouse District’s natural beauty are parks, outdoor spaces, greenways and the Riverwalk — Detroit’s crowning achievement. The Riverwalk is three and a half miles long, offering incredible views of the skyline and river. It connects neighborhoods and an island, taking you through splash pads, fishing areas, beaches and parks.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $725
  • Median 2-BR rent: $825
  • Walk Score: 59/100

Schulze is a strong neighborhood full of residents that know what makes their community great. It’s perfect for young families and professionals who don’t need proximity to the city. The Northwest Activities Center is the heart of Schulze, providing programming, events, activities and services to more than 300,000 visitors every year.

When living in this area, residents are serious about their block clubs as they keep residents in the know of everything happening in the area. Another Detroit neighborhood that aims to build and improve together, Schulze continues trending up.

Southwest Detroit, MI

Southwest Detroit, MI

  • Walk Score: 70/100

A sprawling neighborhood, Southwest Detroit is a growing and very active area united by Mexicantown, a strip of businesses lined with bakeries, shops and restaurants so popular they constructed a shared street.

Vibrant murals cover the buildings and the streets spill over with people during the holidays, enhancing the neighborhood’s already infectious vibe. Clark Park is also located in Southwest Detroit. It’s one of the cleanest and most fun parks in the city and the city is planning additional park amenities.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,160
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,725
  • Walk Score: 59/100

Diverse, friendly and teeming with pride, Detroit’s University District is a neighborhood of buildings with lavish architecture and elaborate marble and stone facades. Bound by Livernois Avenue, called The Avenue of Fashion by locals, there are boutiques,. But you’ll see more art galleries and creatives spaces, with some even dubbing it Gallery Row.

Though near premier greenspaces, restaurants, parks, libraries and the Detroit Golf Club, University District is ideal for students, retirees and other residents who enjoy a quieter city lifestyle and enjoy access to high-quality amenities.

West Village, Detroit, MI

West Village, Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,095
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,395
  • Walk Score: 75/100

If you’ve never cared for walking the beaten path, West Village, located on the east side of the city, is the best neighborhood in Detroit for you. Primarily a residential area, West Village has apartments constructed from 1890 to 1920. And the stylings are Colonial, Mediterranean Revival and Tutor architecture.

Packed with local businesses, bars and restaurants for such a small area, West Village is where Detroit Vegan Soul, Belle Isle Pizza, Marrow Detroit and Sister Pie can all be found. Ripe for development, grabbing an apartment in this ever-evolving neighborhood is a good idea.

Find the Best Detroit Neighborhood for You

A special city in the country and the world, it’s nearly impossible to choose where to move to when looking for apartments to rent in Detroit.

One thing is sure, when you do choose the best neighborhood in Detroit to make your new home, you’ll be alongside some of the friendliest, most caring neighbors.

The rent information included in this article is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of November 2021 and is for illustrative purposes only. This information does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

Source: rent.com

What Is a Ledger Wallet? An Overview

Ledger is a brand of crypto hardware wallets. They are among the most trusted in the industry and were responsible for bringing the first hardware wallets to market.

In the years since Ledger’s debut, many other wallet makers have hit the scene. But the Ledger name is still synonymous with secure crypto hardware wallets. The company derives its name from blockchain technology. Understanding the question “what is a crypto ledger” sheds light on why the company chose this name.

What Is a Crypto Ledger?

The term “crypto ledger,” or simply ledger, refers to the public ledger of transactions recorded on the blockchain. These transactions are recorded in the form of Bitcoin addresses. Whenever someone makes a transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain or any other blockchain, the transaction is recorded in the blockchain ledger along with the relevant information. This includes the time the transaction occurred, the amount sent, the sender and recipient’s addresses, and the current number of network confirmations.

A new blockchain begins with something called a “genesis block.” This is a manufactured block to start things off because no transactions have occurred yet. From that point on, transactions are grouped into additional “blocks,” with each block being added to the one that came before it. Subsequent blocks form a “chain,” giving rise to the term blockchain. A blockchain is, therefore, a public ledger of transactions.

Ledger, the company, is a leader in the cryptocurrency hardware wallet space. In 2014, they released the first such wallet to the general public.

Recommended: Cryptocurrency 101: A Beginner’s Guide

How Does a Ledger Wallet Work?

First, a brief answer to the question “what is a cryptocurrency wallet”: Wallets are where people send and receive crypto. Hot wallets hold private keys online while cold wallets (such as hardware wallets) hold keys offline. Hot storage vs. cold storage in crypto is an important distinction to make.

Ledger wallets are designed for newer users. Getting started is rather easy. The wallets require a separate application, also made by Ledger, to work. This app, called Ledger Live, lets users interact with their hardware wallet on a desktop or laptop computer.

The display of a Ledger crypto wallet has two parts: the small screen on the device itself and the Ledger Live app on a computer or mobile device. Most users’ actions take place in the app, although pushing one or both small buttons on the device itself is required to confirm some actions, like sending transactions.

The buttons are also used to navigate between the different cryptocurrency wallets. Each wallet is referred to as its own app within Ledger Live. For each crypto they want to manage, users have to install the appropriate app first.

What Are the Different Types of Ledger Wallets in Crypto?

Ledger makes two different wallet types:

1.    Ledger Nano S

2.    Ledger Nano X

Ledger Nano S

The Nano S has become known as one of the most popular and best-selling crypto hardware wallets to date. That said, it only has enough memory for about three apps at a time. That means users who want to work with more than three cryptocurrencies will have to repeatedly uninstall and reinstall new apps.

For example, say someone holds Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. If they also want to use Dogecoin, they will have to uninstall the Litecoin app and install the Dogecoin app. Any Litecoin balance will still be held on the wallet, but to access it and send transactions, the Litecoin app will need to be reinstalled, which would require uninstalling an existing app.

Apps for different cryptocurrencies take different amounts of memory, so the potential number of installed apps may be higher than three. While limited currencies can be managed at one time, the list of Ledger-supported crypto is 1,800 coins long.

Ledger Nano X

The Nano X is the newer, upgraded version of the Nano S. Both wallets work with the Ledger Live app, and function in generally the same manner. However, the Nano X has a few extra features and allows for the storage of many more crypto apps at once.

While the Nano S supports only 3-7 apps at a time, the Nano X supports up to 100. Ledger Nano X users can connect to the app via mobile devices as well, thanks to the Nano X’s Bluetooth compatibility.

The Nano X can also run off of battery power and connect to a mobile device via Bluetooth. All of these extra features and upgraded functionality help explain why someone might choose the more expensive Ledger Nano X over the Nano S.

Why Consider Getting a Ledger Wallet?

The biggest reason to consider getting a Ledger wallet is for the additional security. Holding crypto in a hardware wallet results in greater security for two main reasons:

1.    Coins can be held offline in cold storage.

2.    Private keys are held by the individual.

Holding coins in cold storage means the private keys aren’t connected to the internet, so there’s no way for hackers to access them. While a hardware wallet generally has to be connected to an internet-connected device to send transactions, when not doing so the wallet will be completely offline.

Holding the private keys yourself means there’s no need to trust a third-party like an exchange. If an exchange gets hacked, and there’s no insurance policy, then users could be left empty-handed. This might be why those who hold large sums of crypto choose to make the investment in a hardware wallet like those made by Ledger.

Let’s take a closer look at how hardware wallets, and wallets made by Ledger specifically, come with increased security for long-term storage of cryptocurrency.

Ledger Hardware Wallet Security

Ledger wallets come with the following security features:

1.    24-word backup recovery seed phrase

2.    PIN

3.    Certified Secure Element (CC EAL 5+) hardware

When setting up a new wallet, users have to create a PIN that will be used to access the wallet. A seed phrase is also provided.

This 24-word string can be used to restore the balances held on a wallet. It’s best to keep that phrase somewhere safe and never store it digitally. Anyone with access to the seed phrase can steal the private keys, and therefore the coins, from your wallet. The seed phrase and PIN come standard with most hardware wallets.

Ledger uses something called Secure Element chips. Chips like these are also used to protect credit cards, SIM cards and passports. Ledger wallets are certified as being secure by an independent third-party.

There are different degrees of Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL), and Ledger has achieved the level EAL 5+. There are only two levels higher than EAL 5. According to Ledger , they are the only company that makes hardware wallets that have earned this level of security certification.

The Takeaway

A Ledger wallet for digital currencies can be used to hold crypto in a more secure manner. Cold storage is considered to be the ultimate in blockchain security measures.

While hardware wallets like those made by Ledger come with increased security for crypto, they also require greater user responsibility. Using a hardware wallet means you hold the private keys to your crypto, rather than them being held on an exchange. If you make a mistake like losing your PIN and backup seed phrase, the crypto held on that wallet will be gone forever. There’s nothing that Ledger or anyone else will be able to do to help.

That’s why investors holding a small amount of crypto might not need a crypto wallet like Ledger. For some people, a trusted third-party custodian like an exchange might be the best option.

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

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

Photo credit: iStock/Free Life Design


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

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

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

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com

The Best Places to Live in California in 2022

From the beautiful beaches to the world-renowned redwood forests, California spans 900 miles along the Pacific coast and is the third-largest state in the U.S. The Golden State is home to almost 40 million people, making it the most populous state in the country. Full of iconic attractions, places and cities — think Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood, to name a few — people love this state.

With a landmass of 155,779 square miles and so many cities to choose from, where are the best places to live in California? Well, that depends on your budget and interests. Whether you’re a surfer looking to hang 10 or a wannabe actor seeking stardom, there’s a city that’s right for you.

Take a look at our list to see the best places to live in California.

Anaheim, CA

Anaheim, CA

  • Population: 346,824
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,730
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,995
  • Median home price: $770,000
  • Median household income: $71,763
  • Walk score: 63

Disneyland is in Anaheim so Mickey Mouse will be your neighbor! Snag yourself a season pass to Disneyland and you’ll have endless entertainment all year long. It’s the happiest place on earth. Well, that’s what Disney lovers will say, anyway.

Disney aside, Anaheim is a great city for families. It’s a suburban city full of apartments and homes that are affordable, compared to other cities in California. It’s also safe with good school systems.

You can enjoy time outside with a year-round mild climate, too. Take a walk through Yorba Regional Park or take your furry friend to La Palma Dog Park. Anaheim is full of parks, trails and outdoor activities. Everyone will find something to do here.

Irvine, CA

Irvine, CA

  • Population: 307,670
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,865
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,489
  • Median home price: $1,161,000
  • Median household income: $105,126
  • Walk score: 47

Irvine is home to one of the famous UC schools — UC – Irvine. But there are eight other universities in the town, as well. If you’re looking for a city with many opportunities for higher education, this is a great pick.

Irvine is making gaming history as the headquarters for Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard Entertainment is the largest employer in the city and produced popular games like “Worlds of Warcraft” and “Diablo.”

A few other fun facts about Irvine: SNL star and actor Will Ferrell was born and raised in here. You can check out his elementary, junior and high school. And Irvine was the backdrop for scenes from “Ocean’s 11.”

Apartments in Irvine range in price but the city is in a great location and is constantly ranked one of the safest cities in California. Irvine is full of great parks, trails and sanctuaries so you’ll get a good blend of nature and city life.

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

  • Population: 3,898,747
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,725
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,739
  • Median home price: $950,000
  • Median household income: $62,142
  • Walk score: 79

Los Angeles, better known as L.A., is the second-most-populated city in the nation. When you think of L.A., you may think about celebrities and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, complete with more than 2,600 stars. From Universal Studios to Warner Bros., the film and TV industries have several headquarters here. Want to see the set of Central Perk from “Friends?” You can do that here. Care to visit Universal Studios theme park? Go ahead! For any film or TV buff, this is the city for you.

Los Angeles is one of the best places to live in California because it offers a little bit of everything. You’re within close proximity to several beaches. You can hike Griffith Park and see the Hollywood sign, see fossils from the Ice Age at the La Brea Tar Pits, check out more than 100 museums within the city and eat at a variety of restaurants and bars. To summarize, there’s no shortage of things to do in Los Angeles.

The City of Angels is home to more than 10 million people. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it here in this diverse, urban city.

Oakland, CA

Oakland, CA

  • Population: 440,646
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,113
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,947
  • Median home price: $885,000
  • Median household income: $73, 692
  • Walk score: 83

If you’re a sports fanatic, then you’ve found your city. Oakland, CA, is the only city in the state to have three professional sports teams. You’ve got the Raiders, the Warriors and the A’s. Between football, basketball and baseball, you’ll be able to cheer on the home team year-round in one of the best places to live in California. Not a sports fan? Don’t worry. Oakland has a lot more to offer than sports.

One fun fact is that you’ll find hundreds of gnomes living here, too. Yes, you read that right — gnomes! Throughout the city, painted gnomes grace the utility poles. A mysterious artist paints them throughout the city for you to discover.

Oakland is a diverse city full of culture and history. It has a mild climate year-round and is full of great parks, trails and outdoor areas. Living in Oakland you’ll find the cost of apartments is comparable to other California cities.

Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs, CA

  • Population: 44,575
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,955
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,095
  • Median home price: $523,000
  • Median household income: $53,441
  • Walk score: 39

Palm Springs is a diamond in the desert. It’s an affordable city with luxurious amenities like swimming pools, golf courses and tennis for all. If cities like L.A. or San Francisco are too big for you, Palm Springs is a perfect pick.

Tourists love it here but it’s also a popular place for retirees. Palm Springs is one of the best places to live in California if you’re looking for a low-key, relaxed atmosphere while still having the perks of California living. You’ll find great apartments in Palm Springs, lots of outdoor activities and a diverse cultural scene. But, it’s in the desert so expect extreme temperatures!

Palo Alto, CA

Palo Alto, CA

  • Population: 68,572
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,317
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,700
  • Median home price: $3,730,000
  • Median household income: $158,271
  • Walk score: 73

Palo Alto, also called “The Birthplace of Silicon Valley,” is one of the best places to live in California. It’s also a world-renowned tech hub. Some of the world’s most infamous tech unicorns, like Apple and Tesla, emerged from Palo Alto. Nearby is Stanford University, a top-ranked college. Palo Alto is a great city for tech-oriented students or individuals who are looking to start a company or join the ranks of one of the booming tech companies located there.

While Palo Alto is full of new tech and innovation, it’s also full of rich history. Spanish settlers explored and settled here. The city is even named after a 1,000-year-old tree located along the San Francisquito Creek.

This city is smaller compared to other cities in California, with around 65,000 residents. It’s a beautiful and safe place to live but you’ll find that rent and home prices are more expensive.

Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, CA

  • Population: 524,943
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,057
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,327
  • Median home price: $465,000
  • Median household income: $62,335
  • Walk score: 60

If you want to live in the heart of the state, Sacramento is the city for you as it’s the state’s capital.

This city is known for some pretty cool things. First, its nickname is the “City of Trees,” because it has more trees per capita than any other city in the world — although Paris is also a top contender. Despite the intense summer heat, the abundance of trees actually helps cool the city down. The community has lush, green trees and there is beauty in nature everywhere around you.

Another cool thing about Sacramento is its devotion to farm-to-fork eating. What’s that you may ask? Sacramento is full of produce and farmer’s markets — exactly 40 of them. That’s right! Forty in one city alone. Local farmers provide produce to local restaurants so the food you’re eating is literally from the farm straight to your fork (or mouth). You’ll eat well here.

This is a large city and you’ll find 1.5 million people living in Sacramento. You’ll also have plenty of things to do and will enjoy walking around this tree-lined city.

San Clemente, CA

San Clemente, CA

  • Population: 64,293
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,150
  • 2-BR median rent: $4,600
  • Median home price: $1,433,000
  • Median household income: $110,434
  • Walk score: 62

If you’re looking for a city with nostalgic, old-town beach feels, San Clemente is for you. Located right on the beach in Orange County, this charming city is like a postcard.

You’ve got the San Clemente Pier plunging into the ocean. You can take a stroll, go fishing or have a bite to eat. The beaches are stunning and appeal to avid surfers and young children alike. The lifeguards ensure that surfers have their own area to catch a wave while boogie boarders and families have their own space to swim in the ocean, too. Take a stroll along the coast on some awesome beach-side trails, too.

There are several boutique stores and restaurants on the famous T-street, as well. San Clemente is one of the best places to live in California if you’re looking for a quaint beach-side town. You can find apartments in the city that meet your budget and lifestyle needs.

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

  • Population: 1,386,932
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,582
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,285
  • Median home price: $800,000
  • Median household income: $79,673
  • Walk score: 71

San Diego is a beautiful, ocean-side city known for its great weather and scenic views. The average temperature is 70 degrees, so it’s sunny and pleasant almost every day of the year. You’ll find amazing beaches here and a town full of friendly people.

The U.S. Navy is the biggest employer in the city and has a naval base there. The Pacific Fleet stations in San Diego with 46 navy ships. Take a harbor cruise or visit the maritime museum to learn more about the naval history in San Diego.

If you’re looking for a city that’s easy-going, look no further. It’s a tourist destination, but it’s also home to over 3 million people. You can find a great apartment here and make it your next home.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

  • Population: 873,965
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,193
  • 2-BR median rent: $4,257
  • Median home price: $1,480,000
  • Median household income: $112,449
  • Walk score: 93

The Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and Alcatraz are just some of the iconic things you’ll find when living in San Francisco. You’ll also live in a city that’s full of diversity. San Francisco is known for being a liberal, open-minded city. In fact, it was home to the hippie movement of the ’60s. If you’re looking for a city that’s progressive, this is a good place to consider.

It’s also full of career opportunities. The tech sector is booming so you’ll find great job prospects in that industry. Keep in mind that the cost of living is more expensive here than in other cities in California.

San Francisco is both a large, urban city and a nature retreat. You’ll find everything you need downtown but then you can escape to Muir Woods where you’ll see redwood trees and forest scenes. If you’re looking for the best place to live in California, San Fran might be a good option to consider.

Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica, CA

  • Population: 93,076
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,190
  • 2-BR median rent: $4,677
  • Median home price: $1,908,000
  • Median household income: $96,570
  • Walk score: 85

The pier in Santa Monica is arguably the most famous one of all. This iconic pier along the coast has an amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel (it’s solar-powered!), roller coasters and funnel cakes to go around. While that’s a tourist location, it’s fun for locals to stroll the pier and beach after a busy day at work.

Santa Monica is one of the best places to live in California because it’s a city that has it all. You’ll find great restaurants and shopping in the downtown area. You’ll enjoy relaxing walks along the beach. And you can rent great apartments in the city center. The demographics skew younger as you’ll find young professionals making this city home. Rent prices are steeper compared to other cities, but it’s a coveted place to live in California.

Find an apartment for rent in California

So, have we convinced you that California is the place for you? Whether you’re looking for a location in a bustling metro area or a beach-side apartment with ocean views, there are several best places to live in California. Pick your city, find your apartment and soon the Golden State will be your new home.

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

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