Best Budget Smartphones 2022

• Screen lacks the vivid colors we expect from Android devices
• Camera system could be improved
Maybe you noticed that some cameras with higher megapixels (MP) ranked lower. Why? Megapixels generally don’t matter much. The camera’s sensor technology and quality of glass are more important.

Key Features

Motorola Moto G Power: The Best Battery

Phone Best Price
Apple iPhone SE Best Budget iPhone $429
Google Pixel 5a Best Budget Android $449
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Best Under $300 $282
Motorola Moto G Power The Best Battery $199
BLU G51S The Best Under $100 $99

5 Smartphones that Don’t Break the Bank

The Apple SE phone is on display.
Photo courtesy of Apple
Key Features

  • Access to Apple software and services
  • Excellent 12 MP f/1.8 rear camera
  • Among the best built of selected budget phones
Key Features

  • The best Android smartphone under $500
  • Camera delivers great photos and videos
  • Super fast battery charging
Key Features

  • Large, vivid display for movies and photos
  • 4500mAh battery that lasts longer
  • Fast 33W charging
Key Features

  • Battery lasts up to three days
  • Fast charging: a few minutes = 1 hour of use
  • Low price tag
Key Features

  • A decent smartphone under $100
  • A large 6.4” display for easy web surfing
  • Available in four colors
Our top affordable pick from Apple is the iPhone SE (9). This budget model smartphone still features a solid display, a superb camera and the fast A15 Bionic chip, just like higher end models.
What Are Low-End Devices?
Best Budget Smartphones
If battery life is one of your top priorities, you may want to consider the Moto G Power, which — if you couldn’t tell from the name — puts an emphasis on great battery life.
US networks

Once you know which smartphone you want, there may be even more ways to save, like picking a phone with less storage space or a refurbished phone.
Which Android Phone Is the Best Value for Money?

How We Chose the Best Budget Phones

The updated Google Pixel 5a features a modern design with a large 6.43-inch display that doesn’t scream cheap. Best of all, Google is the core developer of the Android platform, so you’ll get an affordable phone that is optimized for a great experience and fast updates.

After reviewing Android phones, we found the best value is the Google Pixel 5a with 5G (9). The Pixel 5a offers a solid balance of features, including a great display and an excellent camera system. The Pixel 5a even offers fast charging abilities for topping up your battery at a moment’s notice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

• No 5G cellular support
6.4” LCD
Smartphones seem to be getting more and more expensive by the year. Even Apple’s middle-market iPhone 13 comes in at a starting price of 9.
Rear camera
64 MP f/1.8, 2 MP f/2.4 macro
AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon

Other features on the OnePlus Nord N20 5G include the large 4500mAh battery and 33W fast charging ability, which help keep you topped up if needed — great for travelers and concert goers. For those who prefer wired headphones, OnePlus kept a headphone jack on this phone, unlike many phones being released today. All starting at 2.

Financial Stocks – What They Are & Why Should You Invest in Them

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Additional Resources

The financial sector is one of the darling sectors on Wall Street for good reasons. Financial stocks are known for steady, reliable growth that outpaces the rate of inflation. At the same time, the sector comes with some of the best dividends on the market.  

Perhaps that’s why two of the largest holdings in the legendary value investor Warren Buffett’s portfolio are in the financial sector. 

But what exactly are financial stocks, what are the pros and cons of investing in them, and how much of your investment dollars should you allocate to the sector? Read on to find out!

What Are Financial Stocks?

The financial sector is a broad category of companies that work in the financial services industry. The sector includes:

You own shares of Apple, Amazon, Tesla. Why not Banksy or Andy Warhol? Their works’ value doesn’t rise and fall with the stock market. And they’re a lot cooler than Jeff Bezos.
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  • Retail and Commercial Banks and Lenders. Banks and lenders offer deposit accounts like checking and savings accounts and loans like mortgages and auto loans. Two of the most popular companies in this subcategory include Bank of America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC). 
  • Asset Managers and Investment Banking Services. Brokerages, investment banks, and other companies that provide services surrounding the management of assets fall into this subcategory. Some of the most popular players in this corner of the financial sector include JPMorgan (JPM) and Morgan Stanley (MS). 
  • Credit Card Companies. Credit card companies, also known as card issuers, offer revolving loans that can be accessed at the point of purchase using a credit card. Some of the most popular players in this space include Citi (C) and American Express (AXP). 
  • Fintech Companies. Fintech companies blend finances with technology to provide services that make managing your finances easier. Some of the most popular fintech players include Block (SQ) — previously Square — and PayPal (PYPL). 
  • Insurance Companies. Insurance companies that provide health, life, auto, home, and other forms of insurance fall into the financials category. Metlife (MET) and Humana (HUM) are some of the most popular insurance stocks. 

Pros & Cons of Financial Stocks

As with any other sector, there are advantages and disadvantages to investing in the financial sector. Although the sector is known for stable growth and dividends, it’s not the best option if you’re looking for market-leading price appreciation. Some of the most important pros and cons to consider before investing in the space are detailed below.


The financial sector offers a relatively low-risk way to access stable growth and dividends, but that’s not the only perk of investing in the sector. Some of the biggest advantages of financial stocks include:

  1. Lower Risk. The financial sector comes with lower risk than some other sectors like technology and health care. This stability has improved significantly in recent years. According to Davis Funds, the largest U.S. banks are now holding record volumes of cash on their balance sheets thanks to lessons learned during the financial crisis of 2008. Stock prices tend to be more stable in the sector as well. 
  2. Dividend Income. Financial stocks are known for providing strong dividend payments. As of mid-2022, the sector produced a 3.11% average dividend yield, according to 
  3. Strong Growth When Interest Rates Rise. Banks make more money when the Federal Reserve increases the Fed funds rate. As inflation rises, the Federal Reserve has hinted at steady increases throughout the foreseeable future, which suggests bank stocks are worth your attention. 
  4. Outpace Inflation. Historically, financial sector investment returns have significantly outpaced the rate of inflation, making them a great inflation hedge.  


Although there are plenty of reasons to consider diving into financial stocks, there are also a few big drawbacks that you should consider before taking the plunge. 

  1. Financials Aren’t Strong Growers. Financial stocks are known for steady growth, not necessarily strong growth. If you’re looking for growth stocks, you may find a few in the fintech space, but growth investors will be better served by stocks in the tech sector.  
  2. Lower Earning Potential When the Fed Funds Rate Is Low. Although the Federal Reserve has hinted at increasing its rate ahead, the rate is currently below 1%. This low rate means companies in the sector, particularly lenders, have limited revenue potential.  
  3. Lack of Excitement. The best investments are educated investments, meaning you need to research opportunities to be successful in the market. Unfortunately, the financial sector isn’t sexy like technology and biotechnology is for most people. The research process to evaluate financial companies may be daunting for some investors.

Should You Invest in Financial Stocks?

Financial stocks fit well into most investment portfolios. Even aggressive investors who seek to beat the market find them useful as a means of diversification. Nonetheless, there are some investors who won’t find diversification with these assets beneficial. 

You might be a great candidate to invest in financial stocks if:

  • You’re an Income Investor. The financial sector is known for providing some of the strongest dividends on the market today. So, income investors benefit from the outsize dividend yields that come with investments in some of the most established companies in the industry. 
  • You’re Risk-Averse. If you have a low to moderate appetite for risk, financial stocks may be a great home for your investment dollars. These stocks are known for relatively low volatility when compared to stocks in other sectors, and most banks have beefed up their cash and cash equivalent holdings since 2008, making them a force to be reckoned with on the financial stage. 
  • You’re an Aggressive Investor Who Needs Balance. If you’re an aggressive investor who wants to beat the market, chances are you’ll want to invest most of your assets in other sectors. However, you can use financial stocks as a way to diversify your holdings and reduce the overall risk in your portfolio. 
  • You’re a Beginner. If you’re a beginner investor, it’s best to stick with large, safe companies that you know and do business with before venturing into other investments. Financial institutions often fit this bill. In fact, one of the best first investments you can make is often an investment in the stock of the bank you use. That is, as long as you work with a major financial institution. 

How Much of Your Portfolio Should You Allocate to Financial Stocks?

The amount of allocation you should direct to the financial sector is heavily dependent on your goals and risk tolerance. Here’s how you should decide how much to invest in financial stocks: 

  • Your Goals. Your goals play an important role in determining the best style of investing. If your goals include producing slow, yet meaningful and stable gains while generating income from your investments, the financial sector is a great place to start. Consider allocating a large portion of your stock portfolio to stocks in the sector. However, if you want to produce market-leading gains and you’re not so concerned about income, minimal allocation to financials is best. 
  • Your Risk Tolerance. Financial stocks experience less volatility than stocks in other sectors and are known for maintaining a hefty sum of cash on their balance sheets. As a result, they’re relatively low-risk plays. If you have a low-to-moderate risk tolerance, a large allocation to financials fits the bill. However, if you have a moderate-to-high risk tolerance, you may want to keep allocation to the sector to a minimum. 
  • Your Need for Investment Income. Financial stocks are a great option for retirees because they’re known for high dividend yields. Financial stocks are a great option if you depend on the income your investments generate. So, if you’re a retiree, a heavy allocation to this sector is warranted. 

Don’t forget your safe-haven allocation. Fixed-income investments, gold, and other safe havens protect you from significant losses when stocks take a dive. So, always keep safe havens in mind when determining your portfolio’s asset allocation.  

Consider Financial ETFs

If you don’t know how to research and maintain a balanced portfolio of stocks or don’t have the time to do it, you have another option. You can invest in financial exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  

These funds collect investment dollars from a group of investors to purchase financial stocks and other securities. When the stocks rise in value, investors share in the price appreciation. Moreover, when the stocks held in the fund’s portfolio pay dividends, shareholders receive their share of dividends based on the number of ETF shares they own. 

The best part is that financial ETFs are managed by professionals yet very inexpensive to tap into. With a little research on the best performing funds in the financial sector, you can take a largely hands-off approach to financial sector exposure. 

The best financial ETF for you depends on your investment goals. Popular financial ETFs on the market today include the Financial Select SPDR Fund (XLF), the Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH), and the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE). 

Final Word

Financial stocks are a great addition to just about any investment portfolio. If you’re an income investor or a risk-averse investor, you’ll enjoy the relatively stable price appreciation and meaningful dividends in the financial sector. If you’re a more aggressive investor who’s interested in growth, financial stocks are a great way to bring balance to your portfolio through diversification. 

It’s no wonder that nearly every investing mogul from Warren Buffett to George Soros seems to have at least some allocation to the sector. 

Financial stocks tend to do best when economic conditions are positive and interest rates are on the rise. As of mid-2022, that seemed to be the case. Consumer prices are rising, and the Federal Reserve has hinted at coming interest rate hikes that will bode well for financial corporation profitability. This suggests financial stocks will head up moving forward.

However, not all stocks in the financial sector are created equal. Some grow while others fall. Some pay dividends while others don’t. Simply put, some are winners and some are losers. Always do your research and get a good understanding of what you’re investing in before risking your hard-earned money. 

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

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.


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

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Additional Resources

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

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

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

Key Features of SuperRare

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

Straightforward Pricing

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

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

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

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

Built on the Ethereum Blockchain

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

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

Buy Art That Isn’t Listed for Sale

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

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

Compatible with Four Cryptocurrency Wallet Providers

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

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

Focused on Art

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

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

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

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

Automatic Royalties on Secondary Sales

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

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

Advantages of SuperRare

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

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

Disadvantages of SuperRare

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

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

How SuperRare Stacks Up

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

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

Final Word

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

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

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

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

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


How to Use Google Pay

No need to whip out your wallet at the store anymore. Google Pay will get this one, just tap your phone or smart watch at a supported payment terminal. Google Pay is a digital wallet and payment platform that enables you to make online or in-store purchases using your Android smartphone or watch.

Setting up Google Pay on your favorite Android device is easy and offers other features, such as sending or receiving money from family and friends, the potential to earn rewards and save money on purchases.

What Is Google Pay?

Google Pay — or G Pay — has gone by a few names, including Android Pay for a short stint, but the concept has remained the same. Using Google Pay, you can buy groceries, pick up school clothes and get that new TV online or at stores that accept contactless payments.

Rather than digging through your wallet or bag for a physical card, you can tap your smartphone or watch, pay for your purchase and get on with your busy day. Best of all, many retailers accept contactless payments.

Is Google Pay Safe?

When it comes to your credit or debit card information, you want to make sure that it remains safe. A convenient tap-to-pay service isn’t worth much if your sensitive banking information gets breached. With Google Pay, your device sends a virtual account number to the payment terminal, not your actual card number, which remains secure. Any card information that is saved to your Google Account is encrypted and stored on Google’s private servers.

Unlike your wallet, your phone can be locked down like a vault. Not just anyone can pick up your smartphone and access your info if you have a PIN, pattern or biometric unlock — such as a fingerprint — to use Google Pay.

How to Use Google Pay

Before you start using Google Pay’s contactless payment feature, make sure your Android smartphone is compatible and sports the necessary hardware. iPhones are not compatible with Google Pay’s tap-to-pay function, but can use Apple Pay, which is the equivalent.

Pro Tip

While Google Pay isn’t available on iPhone, Apple users can still download the app to send and receive money from friends and family, and save money on purchases with cashback rewards.

While most smartphones from major manufacturers, such as Samsung, do support Google Pay’s tap-to-pay feature, you can double check on Google’s support page.

How to Set Up Google Pay

Step 1: If you don’t already have the Google Pay app, download it from the Google Play store.

Step 2: Open the Google Pay app. If it’s your first time, confirm your country, select your Google account, then click Continue. You may be asked to verify your phone number.

Step 3: Once inside the Google Pay app, add a debit or credit card. At the bottom, tap the ($) logo for the Insights tab, then select Accounts, and Add Account.

Step 4: Use your smartphone’s camera to scan your credit or debit card. You can also enter your card information manually.

Step 5: Next, you’ll need to verify your debit or credit card using one of the provided options. Once your card is verified, it will be added to Google Pay.

Step 6: If you set up multiple cards, select a card to be the default when you use Google Pay in a store. To set the default card, tap on the card within Google Pay, then tap Make Default.

Using Google Pay In-Store

Before using your Android smartphone to pay for an in-store purchase, make sure the retailer accepts contactless payments. Look for a Google Pay, G Pay or contactless payment icon (it looks similar to the WiFi symbol) on the card reader.

Or just ask the cashier if they take Google Pay. Many retailers are familiar with people paying with their smartphones or watches.

Step 1: If the retailer accepts contactless payments, unlock your Android smartphone. The Google Pay app does not need to be open.

Step 2: Simply tap the top of your device to the payment terminal. A checkmark symbol will appear on your screen once the payment is successful.

Pro Tip

If your phone won’t work with a compatible payment terminal, make sure NFC is enabled. NFC allows your phone to communicate wirelessly. To enable NFC, swipe down from the top and toggle it on.

Other Google Pay Features

Using Google Pay Online

To make online transactions faster, you can use Google Pay on websites that have G Pay or Buy with G Pay buttons at checkout. If supported, tap the button, select your payment method, enter your shipping address if needed and confirm your purchase.

Send or Receive Money

You can also send or receive money from family and friends through the Google Pay app, like Venmo, Cash App and Apple Cash.

To send money, open the Google Pay app and navigate to the Pay tab, denoted by a house symbol at the bottom of your screen. Tap on the recipient and tap the Pay button. Enter the amount of money you wish to send, select your payment method and confirm by tapping Pay.

If you receive money, you can leave it in your Google Pay account or transfer it to your bank. To transfer money, open Google Pay, then tap your profile icon in the top right corner, tap on Google Pay Balance, then select the Transfer Out option. You’ll need to confirm how much you wish to transfer, then tap Transfer Out once more.

Save Money With Google Pay

By using the Explore tab within the Google Pay app, you can view and activate a variety of coupon codes and cashback offers when shopping at select retailers. Look for the price tag icon at the bottom of the screen. Once an offer has been activated, make the purchase using Google Pay and you’ll find savings headed to your account shortly thereafter.

Some examples in 2022 include:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does it cost to use Google Pay?

There are no fees. Using Google Pay at checkout is the same as using any credit or debit card. In fact, Google Pay may save you money thanks to the discount and cash-back offerings available in the app.

Is it safe to use Google Pay?

Yes, Google Pay is safe. Google Pay is a secure service that doesn’t transmit your card number when you are shopping in-store. Instead, your smartphone or watch transmits a unique account number. This helps keep your credit or debit card info safe. When Google Pay does store your account information, it is encrypted on Google’s private servers.

Does Google Pay need a bank account?

Yes, you will need a bank account to use Google Pay. The service operates by linking a valid debit or credit card to your Google account. If you need a checking account, there are many free checking account options.

Does Google Pay charge a fee to send money?

No, Google Pay does not charge you a fee to send money to family and friends. However, if you use a credit card to fund a transfer instead of cash, you will be charged a standard credit card transaction service fee, which is typically around 3%.

Michael Archambault is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.


9 Ways to Find Affordable Healthy Pet Food

Your pet is part of your family, but that doesn’t mean his food needs to cost as much as yours — even if you’re trying to feed him high-quality food.

But unfortunately, pet food, too, was affected by supply chain woes and shortages during the pandemic. There are fewer drivers transporting the ingredients and products across the country; there are cargo ship delays; and the number of people with pets since pre-pandemic have increased — all leading to the pet food crisis. And now, inflation.

A 2022 survey conducted by Rover found that 71% of dog owners say their pet care costs have gone up due to inflation.

The cost of pet food has risen, and sometimes, it’s difficult to find the food your pooch or kitty wants (there was a cat food shortage earlier this year). So should you switch food? And to what? The range of choices in pet food may make this seem like a daunting task. You can’t ask your furry friends which foods they like best, either.  (You could, but you may not get a satisfactory answer.)

9 Tips From Pros About Affordable Pet Food

We spoke to veterinarians and nutritionists to find out how you can identify the healthiest, most nutritious pet food options that’ll fit your budget and are widely available.

Before you purchase your pet food, speak with your vet about the best options for your pet, especially if your furry friend has special dietary needs.

1. Find Generic Brands From Well-Known Companies

Stephanie Mantilla, an animal trainer and enrichment specialist with Curiosity Trained, always looks for expensive brands disguised as generics. For example, Whole Earth Farms is made by Merrick but costs a fraction of the price, Mantilla says.

The easiest way to find high-quality generic brands is to look at the food brands you don’t recognize in the same section of the store as the high-quality pet food, Mantilla says.

“It’ll be Merrick, Wellness, Instinct and Taste of the Wild brands near one another,” she said. “Then, if you see another brand you aren’t familiar with but is at a lower price, it likely is one of the generic brands.”

Another way to find these generic brands is to search online, Mantilla says. If you have a brand of pet food you like, search for “generic XX food.”

“Sometimes, you’ll find exact match generic brands or recommendations for a similar brand if that company doesn’t make a generic version,” Mantilla said.

A woman smiles at the camera with her dog. The woman in the photos is a positive animal trainer and enrichment specialist with Curiosity Trained.
Stephanie Mantilla, an animal trainer and enrichment specialist with Curiosity Trained, is pictured with her dog, Cleo. She recommends looking online to find out which expensive pet foods have more affordable generic versions. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Mantilla

2. Look for Whole Meat Products

With dog food, whole meat products — rather than by-products — should be the first ingredients on the list.

“Dogs are omnivores, but a food whose first ingredient is grains may not contain enough protein for them,” Mantilla says.

Brands that meet this criteria include Purina Pro-plan, Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand and Blue Buffalo, according to Sakura Davis, a veterinary consultant and technician.

3. Grain-Free Food Isn’t Necessarily the Best

Grain-free food is typically more expensive than the alternatives, but that doesn’t mean that it’s better than the alternatives (unless your dog needs to be grain-free for medical reasons).

In fact, while some humans feel better on a grain-free diet, that doesn’t necessarily hold true for your pets, especially dogs. The FDA found there may be a link between the development of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs that eat grain-free pet food, many of which contain peas, lentils, legume seeds and potatoes as the main ingredients.

4. Look for “Nutritionally Complete” on the Label

Even if you can’t identify the odd-sounding ingredients in your pet’s food, there’s one way to quickly see if the bag of kibble or can of food is nutritionally complete: Look at the label.

Pet food labels should have a Nutritional Adequacy statement, which may also be referred to as the AAFCO statement. You can find this on the back of the bag or can, or on the side in the fold. It should convey the following: whether the food contains all the essential nutrients your pet needs; how this was determined; and what age or stage of life this food was designed to serve.

If you see that the product was intended for intermittent and supplemental feeding only, then you should avoid using it for meals. Use it for treats instead.

5. Dry Pet Food Is OK

A study published in BMJ’s Vet Record found that just 13% of dogs and 33% of cats exclusively eat conventional pet food like kibble. While people may be concerned that the kibble is boring or unhealthy for their pets, that’s actually not the case.

“What they don’t see are the nutrients in that kibble. They don’t see the decades of research behind it,” Sarah Dodd, veterinarian and lead author of the study, told Supermarket News.

6. Avoid Carrageenan Thickener

If you buy wet food, try to avoid brands that use carrageenan, Mantilla says. It’s a derivative of seaweed often used as a thickening agent. It bulks up wet food so it looks like there’s more of the food, but you’re getting fewer calories per serving.

A little girl tries to feed her kitten food out of her hand. This story goes over how to find affordable, cheap and healthy pet food.
Getty Images

7. ‘Premium’ Is a Marketing Term — Ignore It

The word “premium” is a marketing term, according to researchers at the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University. As with the word “natural,” any company can add the word “premium” onto its pet food packaging without justification.

This term is a favorite of brands because many consumers believe the product is better quality when they see it on the packaging, and will thus be inclined to pay more for it. A 2007 study by the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University found that when people are told that they’re tasting an expensive product, they’ll be more likely to believe it tastes better than the inexpensive option.

Pet parents aren’t immune from this. The premium pet food market accounted for 44% of pet food sales in 2001, but that percentage jumped to 61% by 2015. You can save yourself some cash by opting not to buy pet food labeled as “premium.”

8. Change How You Think of the Cost

Instead of looking at the price per bag or even the price per pound, look at the price per kilocalorie, according to Tuft University’s Clinical Nutrition Service. Pet foods pack in kilocalories differently, and as a result, two bags of dry food that weigh the same may differ when it comes to calorie content. A bag with more kilocalories may cost more, but you’ll also need to feed your pets less per feeding.

Here’s how to figure out the price per kilocalorie for pet food. First, determine how much your pet eats each day.  Measure the amount of each food your pet eats and multiply that by the number of calories per cup/gram/can of food. (Not sure how to do this? These calorie calculators can help.)

Once you know how many kilocalories your pet needs to eat, then find out how many kilocalories are in the food, which you can find on the label, and how much the bag or can of food cost.

Plug in the numbers on this calculator  and find out how much it costs to feed your pet each day.  This will give you a better sense of what it would actually cost to feed your pet the food in question than you can get from only looking at price per bag or price per pound.

9. Make Your Own Pet Food

The most inexpensive way to feed your dog a high quality meal is to make the food yourself (though it is still less expensive to feed your dog kibble), says Emma Bowdrey, an ISCP-trained dog trainer in Easterton, United Kingdom.

Include proteins, carbs and nutritious vegetables, and avoid onions, garlic and chives. Bowdrey recommends going to the butcher for internal organs, such as liver, kidneys and heart.

“These are rich in proteins, fats, Vitamins A, B and iron, and are fairly inexpensive, so you get a lot of nutritious bang for your buck,” Bowdrey says.

These three recipes will help you make delicious, healthy treats for your pooch — and they’re all budget-friendly, too.

Combine these with other good quality muscle meat, potatoes and vegetables to create a well-balanced and tasty meal for your dog. Turmeric and ginger, which are anti-inflammatories that can improve gut health, can be added during the prep process, Bowdrey says.

Raw bones are also a great addition to keep teeth clean and remove tartar, but avoid cooked bones, as these are prone to splintering. For extra variety, foods such as apples, sardines and strawberries make a great snack.

What’s the Difference Between Cat and Dog Food?

Cats are carnivores, while dogs are omnivores. This means that cats must eat meat, while dogs need meat and vegetables. Cat food is higher in meat-based protein than dog food which has more plant-based ingredients. If your dog eats cat food on a regular basis, it could lead to obesity, pancreatitis and stomach upset. On the other hand, if your cat eats dog food on a regular basis, he will lack the nutrients he needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Affordable Pet Food

We’ve rounded up the answers to the most commonly asked questions about affordable pet food.

What Type of Pet Food is Least Expensive?

You’ll have to read the labels and do some math (!) to find this out. Skip the “premium” label, which is just a marketing term. Then, look at the price per kilocalorie, as you may be able to get away with feeding your pet less if the kilocalories are higher. Do this by measuring the amount of food your pet eats daily, and multiplying that by the number of calories per cup/gram/can of food. Alternatively, you can use this calorie calculator. This will tell you how many kilocalories your pet requires. Look at the amount of kilocalories in a bag of food (it should be on the label), and compare the food using this measurement rather than price per bag.

What Do I Do If I Can’t Afford Dog Food?

There are pet food pantries if you need help feeding your pooch. You can also contact your veterinarian to see if they have food samples; and you can ask your local animal shelter if they have extra food. Other national organizations such as Pets of the Homeless will help if you’re struggling.

Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Dog Food?

This depends on how much you spend on your dog’s food, which could range from $15-$75 for a bag of dry kibble (wet food is significantly more expensive). Homemade dog food from a store may cost about $5 per day, but you can get this cost down to about $2 per day by making your own dog food, which is less than feeding your dog a high quality commercial wet and dry food diet.

How Can I Feed My Cat Cheaply?

Kibble is less expensive than wet food  and if your cat likes a particular brand, you should follow them on social media to get coupons and discounts. Always buy in bulk for the biggest discount and look at the cost per day rather than the cost per pound or kilogram to estimate how much you’re paying for the food. The Humane Society has a list of national and local organizations that will help with free pet food if you’re in need.

Is It Cheaper to Feed Cats Wet or Dry Food?

While canned pet foods tend to have better quality ingredients and may be more filling, dry cat food is less expensive than wet food. It’s fine to feed your cat a 100% dry food diet.

The Penny Hoarder contributor Danielle Braff is a Chicago writer who specializes in consumer goods and shopping on a budget. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Real Simple and more. 




Stock Market Today: May Delivers One Final Roller-Coaster Ride

May’s final session was a fitting one for a wild month, with the major indexes swinging up and down Tuesday before closing in the red.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said during a speech in Germany that he expects 50-basis-point interest-rate increases to continue into the later part of the year – a departure from previous dovish statements from Fed members suggesting hikes of that magnitude would be limited to the next two summer meetings.

That sent bond yields spiking Tuesday, with the 10-year Treasury yield reaching as high as 2.88%.

“It is really too bad that the Fed can’t learn to speak with one voice on this,” says Dean Smith, portfolio manager and chief strategist of investment technology platform FolioBeyond. “The constant seesaw from hawkish to dovish is increasing uncertainty in the market and in the economy. The ‘buy-the-dip’ mentality that has been nurtured in a generation of investors is being supported and encouraged by these carelessly dovish Fed speakers. In the end, all it does is make their job harder.”

Also Tuesday, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation – the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index – rose by 4.9% year-over-year and 0.34% month-over-month, which was more than expected.

“The April increase represents the third month of more muted, but still solid, increases,” UBS analysts note.

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The consumer discretionary (+0.5%) and communication services (-0.1%) sectors were the best performers in a largely down day. That was largely thanks to (AMZN, +4.4%), whose shareholders on Friday approved a 20-for-1 AMZN stock split set to take effect June 6; that lifted spirits at Alphabet (GOOGL, +1.3%), which intends on executing its own 20-for-1 GOOGL/GOOG stock split in July. (Indeed, 2022 is shaping up to be quite a busy year for stock splits.)

That helped the Nasdaq Composite deliver the smallest loss among the major indexes Tuesday: a 0.4% decline to 12,081. However, the tech-heavy index posted a 2.1% decline for the entire month. The S&P 500 (-0.6% to 4,132) finished May marginally higher, however, as did the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.7% to 32,990).

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Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 slid 1.3% to 1,864.
  • Gold futures declined 0.5% to $1,848.40 ounce, clinching the yellow metal’s second consecutive monthly decline.
  • U.S. crude oil futures were down 0.4% to $114.67 per barrel, good for a nearly 10% gain in the commodity across May. Oil had a back-and-forth session; gains from the European Union’s agreement to ban most Russian crude oil imports were negated after a report that OPEC+ was considering suspending Russia from its oil-output deal.
  • Bitcoin rebounded hard during the long weekend, improving by roughly 10% to $31,649 from its Friday afternoon prices. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.) 

As Red Flags Mount, Stock Up on Quality

A few cracks are starting to show in the American economic engine. Wealth management firm Glenmede’s Jason Pride and Michael Reynolds say that several U.S. leading indicators are signaling slowing growth.

“Last week, the Flash Composite PMI, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, fell,” they say. “The latest round of retail earnings reflects slowing demand as consumers grapple with higher costs and pivot their spending from goods to services. The housing market is starting to show signs of softening as sales of newly built homes fell 16.6% in April from March (rising mortgage rates are reducing buyer demand).”

This has Glenmede’s recession model projecting a 10% probability of recession within the next 12 months, up from 0% projections to start the year.

That’s the kind of environment that, unlike the year-plus of rip-roaring gains out of the COVID bottom, necessitates selectivity – every stock pick isn’t just going to stick to the wall, so to speak. Defensively minded investors, for instance, will want to focus on stocks that seem best positioned to perform in bear markets. Dip-buyers will need to make a distinction between “cheap” and “undervalued” – the latter you’re likely to find in these high-growth-potential stocks boasting low prices.

And on the whole, it pays to invest in the best of the best. These 10 S&P 500 stocks, for instance, represent the best the index has to offer right now, in the eyes of Wall Street’s analyst community. Each of them is teeming with bullish pros who believe they have anywhere between 20% to 110% upside over the next year.


What Is Market Overhang?

Market overhang is a market phenomenon whereby investors hold off trading a stock that’s seen a drop in price, because the expectation is the price will drop even further.

A market or stock overhang can be precipitated by the awareness that a large block of shares — say, from an institutional investor — is about to hit the market, potentially driving a stock’s price down. But it can result from other factors as well. Although the event has not happened, investors may hesitate to sell or buy shares in anticipation of price drop — and this can further depress the stock price.

While there is also a business use of the term “overhang,” we’ll primarily focus on how market overhang works in finance and what it means for investors.

Market Overhang Definition

In its broadest use, an overhang describes a somewhat artificial market condition brought on by an anticipated shift in supply and demand (a.k.a. the price of a stock). Market overhang has a couple of uses in the business and finance worlds, and in an IPO market as well.

What Is an Overhang in Business?

An overhang in a business context can refer to the practice whereby a company, typically an industry leader, delays the release of a new product in order to stoke greater consumer demand for that product.

A familiar example might be the release of a new technology product or video game. The anticipation of the new release may cause consumers to avoid buying other products as they wait for the arrival of the new one. The overhang may result in lower purchases for existing products — and higher purchases of the newly released product. While this practice can be considered manipulative, it’s not uncommon.

What Is an Overhang in Finance?

More commonly: An overhang in finance is used to describe a dynamic that’s specific to how investors’ expectation about supply and demand can impact a company’s share price.

A market overhang is when a stock’s price declines because investors expect a further price drop on the horizon. Thus, some shareholders may hesitate to sell their shares, because that could further drive down the share price. Other investors may also hesitate to buy shares because of the anticipated price drop.

The business use of the term and the finance use describe different situations, but the common element is how investors’ anticipation of a future event can impact a company’s revenues or share price.

Needless to say, a market overhang can cast a shadow over a company’s performance, influencing share price, liquidity, and more, especially if the situation is prolonged. In many cases, though, market overhang is relatively short-lived and temporary. The difficulty for investors is knowing when the overhang, like bad weather, is finally going to pass. To that end, it helps to know some conditions that can cause a market overhang.

How Market Overhang Is Created

There are a few conditions that can lead to a market overhang. Often these conditions can overlap.

A Stock Decline

The first is where a stock is already declining, perhaps owing to a change in key economic indicators or market conditions, and there is a buildup of selling pressure as investors hesitate to let go of their shares in a down market. This type of market overhang may be resolved once there are signs of price stability (even if it’s at a lower level).

The Role of Institutional Investors

Another type of stock overhang can be created by institutional investors — or companies that manage investments on behalf of clients or members of a firm. Institutional investors tend to have a larger stake in a particular stock compared with individual investors. This means that when the institutional investor plans to sell a large portion of their shares, a market overhang could kick in when investors become aware of this possible sale.

The anticipation of a large block of shares entering the market could drive prices down, and thus investors might hold off trading this particular stock — impacting its price, even before the institutional investor has made a move.

The stock overhang might be worse if it occurs during a price decline. In that case, investors may see the decline in share price, become aware that a large investor may sell a block of shares (which could further depress the price), become even more wary of buying or selling the company’s shares.

IPOs and Market Overhang

A third way that market overhang may occur is after an initial public offering (IPO). An IPO market can be a hot market, after all, and a company may get significant press coverage as its IPO approaches, which can drive up the stock price.

But if the IPO isn’t a big hit, and the share price isn’t what investors hoped (in IPO terms), there might be a bit of an overhang as investors wait for the lock-up period to end. The lock-up period is when company insiders can sell their shares, potentially flooding the market and further lowering the price.

Understanding the Effects of Market Overhang

Market overhang can last for a few weeks or even months — sometimes longer. The chief impact of a market overhang is that it can artificially depress the price of a stock, and if the market overhang is prolonged, that can have a negative impact on company performance.

As noted above, a market overhang typically ends when a stock price stabilizes. Unfortunately that often occurs at a lower price point than before the shares began to decline.

Example of Market Overhang

While some consider the market overhang phenomenon more anecdotal than technical, it’s something to watch out for. It could present an opportunity. And it doesn’t require a complicated, technical stock analysis to understand.

For example, let’s say a large tech company is trading at $300 a share. But there are reports that the company has been facing some headwinds, and it may undergo a rebranding and repositioning. In the face of this change and uncertainty, it’s natural that it might impact company performance and the share price might wobble a bit. But then, if enough investors are concerned about the company’s “new direction,” there could be a bigger shift in trading behavior that might further depress the share price in advance of the company pivot — creating an overhang.

While this isn’t ideal for current shareholders, a market overhang like this could be a “buy” opportunity for other investors. It depends on a number of factors, and it’s always important to understand market trends as well as company fundamentals. But it’s possible that some investors may view the company as a good prospect, despite a currently undervalued share price, and buy shares with the hope they might rise to their previous levels.

Why Market Overhang Matters

Market overhang is a valuable phenomenon for investors to be aware of, largely because it reflects many of the basic tenets of behavioral finance, which is the study of how emotions can impact financial choices. A market overhang could be viewed as the result of loss aversion and herd mentality — two well-documented behavioral patterns among investors.

Loss aversion is, as it sounds, the wish to avoid incurring losses. Herd mentality is, not surprisingly, the tendency for investors to behave as a group: buying or selling in waves. You can see how these two very human impulses — to protect oneself from losses, and to follow the herd — might create a market overhang.

The good news, though, is that investors are capricious and markets can be volatile, which means the market overhang will usually pass, and the stock will regain its normal momentum, whatever that may be. As an investor witnessing the changing weather, so to say, it’s up to you whether a stock overhang might present a buy opportunity or a sell opportunity — if you need to harvest some losses, for tax purposes.

What Market Overhang Means for Shareholders

Market overhang affects different shareholders differently. Since institutional investors tend to be the ones who create market overhang, they also tend to have the upper hand on what it means for their investments.

Regular investors might worry that some of their shares are losing value. But with the ebbs and flows of the stock market, a price can rise and fall at various times throughout the year — even throughout a given day. Fluctuation is normal and this is part of the risk in investing in the stock market. Consider waiting out the storm to make an informed decision. There’s a chance the stock could rise to new highs and your investment will be worth even more.

The Takeaway

What is a market overhang? While this type of trend is considered more behavioral in nature, it’s worthwhile for investors to keep it in mind when a stock isn’t performing as expected. In some cases, when investors anticipate an event that could drive down a stock’s price, they may hold off on trading that stock, further depressing the price and creating a market overhang.

In that sense, a market overhang can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Institutional investors can create a market overhang, for example, when they contemplate selling a large portion of their holdings. This might spook other investors, who likewise decide not to trade their shares, creating a sort of temporary downward spiral in the share price. But because two common investor dynamics are at play here — the fear of losses, and the desire to comply with what other investors are doing — the emotions are usually temporary, and the market overhang passes. And just because a price decline might upset some investors, it could present a buying opportunity for others.

If you’re ready to start your own portfolio, consider opening an Active Invest self-directed brokerage account with SoFi Invest. You can set it up easily on your phone or laptop, and start trading stocks, ETFs, crypo, IPO shares, and more. SoFi members even have access to complimentary financial advice from professionals. Get started investing for your future today!

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The Best College Towns in Oregon

You’ll find all the good stuff you remember from college and more in these appealing locations.

Now that we’ve entered what looks, feels and sounds like a COVID off-ramp (knock on wood, fingers crossed, etc.), we thought it a perfect time to explore the best college experiences the Beaver State has to offer. After all, if there’s anything we’ve learned over the last two years, it’s that #FOMO is more than just the worst Millennial invention on record. It’s a physiological condition that demands a serious commitment to breweries, coffee shops and literally every record shop you see.

You know. Oregon college town things!

Eugene, an oregon college town

Eugene, an oregon college town

If you’ve ever witnessed an oversized waterfowl parading around ESPN’s “College GameDay” set, or Google-searched “richest billionaires named Phil,” you’re likely already familiar with the University of Oregon, the green-and-yellow-clad institution that makes Eugene a proud and bustling college town.

Originally established in 1876, UO remains one of the largest public universities in Oregon. Actually, the largest, if your sole criteria is the number of “O” bumper stickers spotted in any random parking lot.

Home to numerous bars (Max’s, anyone?), restaurants (you simply must visit Cornucopia — treat yourself and order Cody’s Naked Wings) and a few nearby hikes worthy of a Sunday afternoon (Spencer Butte is a personal favorite), Eugene is perfect for folks both in and out of college.

Corvallis, OR

Corvallis, OR

Situated about 90 minutes south of Portland, Corvallis, home to Oregon State University, is one of the most charming Oregon college towns you’ll ever visit. The school opened just a few years after the conclusion of the Civil War. Since then, OSU has had its share of notable alumni. That list includes former Nevada Senator John Ensign and NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton.

Residents of Corvallis get stunning views of Bald Hill and the surrounding foothills, and those in search of a good beer or snack have no shortage of popular salves, including the legendary Local Boyz, Sky High Brewing and Wise Cracks Cafe, among others. What’s more, Corvallis is one of the youngest and most well-educated towns in Oregon, making it an ideal landing spot for anyone looking to indulge their curiosity.

La Grande, one of the best oregon college towns

La Grande, one of the best oregon college towns

With a population of just 13,000 residents, La Grande is the second-smallest college town on this list (and, one must think, anywhere in the U.S.). Home of the Eastern Oregon University Mountaineers, it tends to skew younger than most towns in Oregon, and rents remain far below the state average. Located four hours east of Portland, the vibe in La Grande is best described as earnestly American. Think “Twin Peaks,” only less creepy.

Locals and tourists alike have plenty to keep them busy in La Grande. Side A Brewing serves some of the tastiest beer in Oregon, and The Dusty Spur is a favorite diner. And for those looking for a quieter, more caffeinated experience, Joe Beans is a reliably pleasant option.

Ashland, OR

Ashland, OR

If you haven’t yet visited Ashland you really should. Like, grab your stuff and hustle. It’s that pretty. We’re talking the kind of beauty that reasonable folks might call absurd. Home to Southern Oregon University since 1872 (the school has been in its present location since 1926), Ashland also hosts the annual Shakespeare Festival, one of the most notable events of its kind in the United States.

Foodies have Peerless and Creekside Pizza (among many other delectable eateries), and those searching for a more rustic experience could do far worse than the appropriately named Acid Castles and Fairy Ponds.

Located just north of California, Ashland’s a bit of a drive for Portlanders. The population skews a bit older than the other Oregon college towns on the list. And rents aren’t quite as cheap as those available in La Grande and Klamath Falls. But with geography this gorgeous, you’d be a fool not to consider making your home in Ashland.

Monmouth, one of the best Oregon college towns

Monmouth, one of the best Oregon college towns


Remember when we told you La Grande was the second-smallest college town on this list? Well, that’s because we’re also plugging Monmouth, home of the Wolves of Western Oregon University. Despite a population just south of 10,000, Monmouth is the ninth-youngest town in Oregon, with rents hovering around the state average.

WOU’s has an equally diminutive stature. Its student body is less than a third the size of UO’s. Nevertheless, the school has sent a fair number of football players to the NFL. That includes current Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams.

Home to perennial favorites Yeasty Beasty, Rick’s Place and Grain Station Brew Works, residents can (and should) take advantage of Monmouth’s food and beer scene. And lest the outdoorsy among us begin to feel excluded, remember that Monmouth is notable for Sarah Hemlock State Park and the creepily-monikered Coffin Butte Trail.

Klamath Falls, OR

Klamath Falls, OR

Students looking to specialize in engineering, psychology and applied sciences would be well-served to consider the Oregon Institute of Technology, located four-and-a-half hours southeast of Portland, in Klamath Falls. Originally established to train and reorient veterans of WWII, OIT now serves students across campuses in Wilsonville, Salem and Seattle, WA.

With more renters than homeowners, Klamath Falls tends to skew young and cheap (apartment-seekers can expect to save nearly $300/month compared to the state average). What’s more, Klamath Falls proudly boasts Nibbley’s, Rooster’s and the Ruddy Duck, easily the three greatest restaurants (based solely on the name) ever referenced in sequential order.

Salem, one of the best Oregon college towns

Salem, one of the best Oregon college towns

Less than an hour south of Rose City, Salem’s Willamette University is the oldest university in the Western United States. Though even smaller than EOU, Willamette University is no slouch when it comes to notable alumni. Among others, former students include Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Oregon’s most famous ex-governor, Mark O. Hatfield.

Locals enjoy easy access to a whole host of entertaining diversions in Salem, from Oregon’s Enchanted Forest to the Hallie Ford Museum to downtown’s famous Liberty Street, which features numerous cafes, bars and restaurants.

McMinnville, OR

McMinnville, OR

Set deep in the heart of Oregon’s wine country, Linfield University has welcomed its fair share of future-famous alumni since opening its doors in 1858. Among those who once donned the Wildcats’ signature purple and cardinal are Mark Few. He was the head coach of the perennially-successful Gonzaga Bulldogs. It also educated acclaimed author Amy Tan and local musician Laura Gibson.

For those less interested in all things Linfield, McMinnville is one of the most lovable towns in Western Oregon. Go wine tasting or simply stroll along one of McMinnville’s many parks and bike paths. You’re sure to make a fond memory or two along the way.

Forest Grove, one of the best Oregon college towns

Forest Grove, one of the best Oregon college towns


One of the oldest colleges in the state of Oregon is a mere 40 minutes west of Portland, in Forest Grove. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Nancy Wilson once roamed the halls of Pacific University, as did Harvey W. Scott, the school’s original graduate and former editor of “The Oregonian.”

Locals prize Forest Grove’s verdant farmlands, which from certain angles appear to extend in perpetuity. They also love the Forest Grove Farmer’s Market, in operation each summer from May through October. Art galleries, children’s events, and quick access to the surrounding wine country are all notable highlights of a life well-lived in Forest Grove.

Portland, OR

Portland, OR

One of Oregon’s youngest universities is also its second-largest. Located in Portland’s once-bustling urban center, Portland State University remains a premier institution for those looking to pursue their academic goals in a kinetic, open and progressive environment. Students who opt for the dormitory experience should swing by the Cheerful Tortoise and Rogue Hall. These are two unabashedly youthful dive bars that are conveniently within walking distance of nearly everything Viking-related.

As we’ve mentioned previously on this blog, the Rose City offers its residents plenty in the way of entertainment, from an assortment of indie movie theaters to a seemingly endless supply of nearby hikes. Rents here are a bit higher than what you’ll find in La Grande or Klamath Falls. But what Portlanders lose in financial flexibility they more than gain in greenways. They also get expansive public transit. And, of course, the sort of pop-culture cachet that only Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein could deliver.

All about that college life

Oregon boasts a bastion of well-established and up-and-coming college towns. Whether you’re a soon-to-be high school graduate or simply looking to relocate someplace hip and affordable. And now that we’re finally allowed to exit our homes and explore these campuses in person, what better way to while away a weekend afternoon? Believe me, you don’t want that #FOMO.


Chapter 01: What Is a Budget & How to Create One

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

Creating a budget can offer you peace of mind and give you more confidence in managing your finances. A budget can help make you more aware of how you spend your money, and the places where you may be spending too much, so you can figure out how much to save.

So, what is a budget?

A budget is essentially a summary of how much money you bring in and how much money you spend on a monthly basis. The idea of creating a budget might be intimidating, but it actually doesn’t have to be all that complicated. You just have to calculate the amount of money you make and compare it to your expected expenses. A basic budget is one of the most important things you need to take charge of your money—and help achieve more of your financial dreams.

In this series, we’ll be answering important questions like “What does budget mean?”, “Why is Budgeting important?”, and more. This is the first chapter of our budgeting series, and we will go over the basics of what budgeting is and how to create one. To learn more about budgeting, continue reading, or use the links below to jump to a section of your choice.

Intro to Budgeting: What is a Budget?

So before we get into any more details about budgeting and how to create one, let’s first answer the question of: What is the meaning of budget?

A budget is a financial outline designed to measure and guide your income and expenditures for a certain period of time, such as one month, a quarter, or a year. With an understanding of the budget basics, you can track the amount you’re making compared to what you’re spending and saving.

Why do I want a budget? says making a budget can help you determine your spending plan and in turn, show you where you should limit your spending and what you can afford to spend more money on.

There are many ways you can maintain a budget — with a spreadsheet, paper and pen, or through a budgeting app.

Whether you’re new to managing your own finances, never learned how to budget, or are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, this post is for you. In our Budgeting 101 guide, we’ll go over some budgeting basics, show you how to create a budget, teach you how to avoid common budget-related mishaps, and ultimately, give you a budget calculator and some budgeting tips to create a budget that’s efficient and functional for your lifestyle.

Who Needs to Use a Budget?

Any person who wants to take control of their finances and feel more financially secure could benefit from a budget. A budget isn’t just for people who want to cut back their expenses and save money. A budget can be for anyone! Even if you’re comfortable with your income and your expenses, you can still benefit from being aware of how and where you spend your money.

A budget is especially beneficial for people who need to save money for various reasons, like if you need to budget for your wedding or save for a down payment on a house. Having a budget can also be helpful for people whose income is unpredictable or who are going through a career change and need to be more aware of their finances.

To make a financial plan, you need to have a budget. A financial plan is a great way to organize your financial situation and figure out your goals and how you can achieve them. Without a budget, there’s no way to find out how much money you’re saving vs spending, which is imperative in achieving your personal and financial goals.

Everyone’s budget will look different, but generally speaking, a budget will include your various living expenses, like how much you spend on rent, groceries, transportation, healthcare costs, and loans.

You might overlook some things when it comes to your expenses, but having a budget can really help you hone in on how you spend your money. Your living expenses can easily add up, so it might be helpful to do things like calculate your monthly grocery budget so that you can figure out exactly how much you have to spend.

Living expenses will also differ for every person depending on where they live, but you can use a cost of living calculator to help figure out if it’s possible to maintain your current standard of living based on your income.

Why Is Budgeting Important?

There are countless reasons why having a budget is important and how it can positively impact your finances, such as:

It Helps You Control Your Spending

Without a budget, you would have no idea if you were spending beyond your means. A budget will help you control your spending by making you more aware of how much you spend on a daily basis in comparison to how much you’re bringing in. It also might be a good idea to try a more minimalist lifestyle so you can cut back on unnecessary costs.

It Helps You Figure Out Your Long-Term Goals

We all have different long-term goals that we want to achieve, and creating a budget can help you achieve them. For instance, if one of your goals is to retire by 50, a budget can help you figure out how much you need to save for retirement each month. There are various tricks to help you save so that you can feel like your long-term goals are actually attainable.

It Can Make You Feel More Financially Secure:

There’s nothing worse than feeling overwhelmed with your finances. Fortunately, having a budget can make you feel more confident and secure in your financial health, so you’re always prepared for any unexpected expenses.

It Can Help You Get Out of Debt

There are a lot of different things that can put you in debt: credit cards, medical bills, college loans, unpaid taxes, the list goes on. Being in debt is terrifying, but one way you can get out of debt is by budgeting. Budgeting can help you save part of your paycheck so you can put that towards paying off your debt.

It Keeps You Organized

It’s easy to get disorganized when it comes to your finances, but having a budget can help you manage and organize your monthly bills, debt payments, and other expenses.

It Helps You Save Money

One of the main benefits of budgeting is that it helps you save money. Rather than living pay-to-paycheck, budgeting helps you stay ahead of the curve so you can save money for the present and future. You can also increase your income streams at home and make even more money to put towards savings.

How to Create a Budget: 5 Actionable Steps

To plan your budget, you’ll need a few key pieces of information. With these basic components, you’ll have a foundation for your budget that you can tweak as the months go by and as your financial circumstances change. To get you a step closer to your financial goals, let’s go over how to create a budget step-by-step.

1. Calculate your monthly income after taxes

An accurate monthly income is the cornerstone of a successful budget. Without figuring out how much money you actually have in your wallet, it’s pretty hard to allocate funds towards saving, spending, and settling outstanding debts. But calculating your monthly income takes a little bit more effort than glazing over your monthly paychecks.

To find out how much you’re actually earning, you’ll need to do a little bit of simple math—don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the entire way.

Calculating your monthly income as a salaried employee

One of the benefits of being a salaried employee is knowing exactly what to expect on your paycheck—month in and month out—and this pay structure will serve as an added perk when you’re building a monthly budget. To calculate your pre-tax monthly income as a salaried employee, all you need to do is divide your annual salary by 12.

Let’s look at an example:

Laura is a salaried employee who makes $60,000 a year. To calculate her pre-tax monthly income, she would divide $60,000 by 12, which equals $5,000 gross monthly pay.

Now that you have your gross monthly income figured out, you’ll need to deduct taxes and other expenses that may dock your pay—such as medical benefits and contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. We’ll show you how to estimate this number in just a moment, but first we’ll go over how hourly employees can calculate monthly income.

Calculating your monthly income as an hourly employee

If you’re an hourly employee, your monthly income isn’t always as consistent as you might like it to be, but with the proper budgeting technique you can definitely nail down a budget that maximizes your monthly income and gets you closer to meeting your greater financial goals. Here’s how to figure your monthly income as an hourly employee:

Let’s take a look at an example:

Keith is an hourly employee who makes $15 an hour working 40 hours per week, making his gross weekly income $600. Keith multiplies this number by 50 to reflect the weeks he plans to work throughout the year (minus his two-week vacation). Then, he divides by 12 and estimates that his gross monthly pay is $2,500.

Remember, this number does not factor in the deductions that may impact his take-home pay, so now he’ll have to subtract these from his gross monthly income to get an accurate picture to build his monthly budget.

Subtract taxes and other deductions from your gross monthly income. If you’re unsure of where to find this information, one place you can look is your employer-provided pay stub. You’ll be able to see how much is deducted by checking the net pay that’s deposited to your checking account.

To get the most accurate picture of your monthly take-home pay, you’ll need to subtract taxes and other deductions from your income.

2. Identify fixed and variable expenses

Once you have a clear picture of how much money you’re actually working with each month, it’s time to figure out how you’re spending it…or how you should be spending it. There are two main types of expenditures you need to account for as you build your budget: fixed and variable expenses. The difference between the two is that fixed expenses tend to cost you the same amount each month while variable expenses…vary.

You can look for payments toward your living expenses on your monthly bank statements and credit cards.

Fixed expenses

Your fixed expenses like rent payment, groceries, transportation, and health care costs are likely to absorb a large chunk of your budget, which makes them all the more important to track as the months go by.

To determine how much of your budget is going towards fixed expenses, start by creating a list of your regular expenditures. Here’s a list of common fixed expenses to help you get started:

Once you’ve built a complete list, calculate a monthly estimate for each one, so you know how much of your income should be dedicated to it. If you’re not sure how much something costs, review previous bills and credit card statements to see what you’ve spent in the past.

Variable expenses

Whether you belong to a gym, go on a weekly date, or make a purchase on a shopping app, make sure you account for these costs in your budget. As opposed to fixed expenses that stick to relatively the same cost each month, these miscellaneous items may change month over month.

Some examples of variable budget expenses include:

Determining how much you spend on variable living expenses each month can be tricky since it may be rarely consistent, but it’s important to get a close estimate so that you can determine whether you can maintain the same spending habits or if you need to cut back in certain areas. Use your monthly bank statements to help you estimate your variable expenses, and in turn, set limits for each category.

How to factor expenses into your budget

If you’re using one of our free budgeting templates, simply input the values of these fixed expenses into your budgeting spreadsheet to help plan out your financial strategy each month. In the Mint app, you can connect your bank account to easily identify recurring expenses, or enter in your own budget for fixed expenditures.

3. Set savings and debt payoff goals

As you saw in step two, if you have student loans and credit card balances, you’ll want to attribute part of your monthly budget to paying them off. Each month, allocate a certain amount to these monthly payments. The sooner you pay off debts, the less interest you’ll pay overall, and the closer you are to meeting your greater financial goals.

When creating a personal budget, include these types of debts into your planning:

If you’re all caught up on your bills and want to stow away funds for retirement or save up for a new car, it’s helpful to establish concrete goals, then break them down into achievable bite-size chunks. Having trouble coming up with realistic, meaningful financial goals? Take a look at these short-term and long-term examples:

Short-term financial goals

Long-term financial goals

If you’re using the Mint app, you can set up custom goals for your savings in the budgeting section. Simply add a budget, define a dollar amount, and monitor your progress.

4. Record your spending

You know that feeling when you’re checking out at the grocery store, the cashier announces your total, you swipe your card, and by the time you’re loading your grocery bags into your car, you realize you didn’t even register the total amount you paid. It’s a concerning, out-of-body experience—but we’ve all been there.

This is why tracking your spending is so important. It’s easy to become complacent about the amount of money you’re spending and end up with revolving debt ruling your finances. Depending on the budgeting method you choose—budgeting app, pen and paper, or online budgeting tool—you can pick a way to record your spending that best suits your lifestyle.

Here are a few tips to make expense tracking easier and more efficient:

5. Track your budgeting progress, review, and revise

Creating a basic budget is a huge financial victory. It helps you ensure you can cover your expenses and reach for exciting milestones, like buying a house or paying off your student loans. As you continue to budget, make adjustments as you see fit. Your income, expenses or lifestyle might change, and it’s important to ensure your budget keeps working for you and your future.

Set up a budget schedule and make it a point to review your budget on a regular basis—each week, every month, or at least every quarter to see if any major changes, or milestones have taken place. Not only will this help you recognize and celebrate your successes, but it will also encourage you to reevaluate and tailor your strategy as needed.

Budgeting Breakdown for Beginners

Now that you know how to make a budget, it’s time to discuss best practices and budgeting basics to ensure your budget works for your money and your lifestyle.

How to Choose the Budgeting Style That Works for You

Here’s the thing about budgeting. There’s not really a one-size-fits-all approach that works for every individual. Depending on your spending habits, financial goals, lifestyle, and your relationship with money in general, one budgeting tactic might make more sense for you than another. Let’s take a look at a few budgeting methods you can try.

Starting simple with your bank statements

One easy way to start budgeting is to take your previous month’s bank statements and create a budget using the deposits as your monthly income and categorize all the withdrawals on the bank statement for:

Then you can see what last month’s budget looks like to be able to make adjustments to this month’s spending. This allows you to better accomplish your life goals and ensure you’re placing money where it needs to be in order to make progress.

Keep tabs on transactions with the envelope method

The envelope system is a simple budgeting approach that involves spending with cash instead of plastic.

If you budget $100 for eating at restaurants, put that amount into an envelope. When the money’s gone, you have to wait until next month to eat out again.

If you budget $200 for groceries</span id=”anc6″>, put $200 in a “grocery” envelope. If you’re at the checkout line and the total comes to $203, you’ll need to put something back.

The envelope method helps you be more strict with your budget. The pockets of cash are a visual and tangible reminder of how much money you’re dedicating to each area of your life.

Follow the 50/30/20 rule

Financial experts recommend the 50/30/20 guideline as a basic financial strategy, especially for young professionals. You can also use the new 50/30/20 budget calculator to help create your new budget.

The rule says that you should allocate a 50%, 30%, and 20% of your income to the following categories:

50/30/20 Calculator

50/30/20 Budget Calculator

Here’s how much you have for:




Consider a zero-based budget

With the zero-based budgeting technique, each month begins and ends with zero dollars. When you build out your zero-based budget, every dollar has a purpose. Let’s take a look at a sample budget using the zero-based method. If you make $3,500 every month, attribute each dollar to an expense. You might put $1,750 toward living expenses, $700 toward paying off debt, and $1,050 toward personal expenses like going to the movies or saving for vacation. At the end of the month, your balance is zero, because every dollar is accounted for.

Keep in mind, the zero-base doesn’t mean you’re spending every dollar that you earn, but rather, that each one is allocated to a different category—savings account included!

Selecting a Budgeting Tool That Suits Your Lifestyle

As we mentioned before, the one-size-fits-all methodology is a no-go when it comes to personal budgeting. Your financial situation is completely unique to you whether we’re talking about your income, expenses, or your financial goals, so it only makes sense to tailor your budgeting strategy to your individual preferences.

Here are a few tips to help you find a budgeting tool that makes sense for you:

As you select a budgeting tool, consider how you’ll use it and how the tool fits into your lifestyle and financial goals. Our budget templates include the following categories:

Common Budgeting Obstacles and Mistakes

Before you set sail on your journey towards better budgeting, it’s time to talk about some of the obstacles you may encounter on your way. Like most things in life (or the sea in this case), budgeting isn’t always clear-cut—there can be aspects that are difficult or ambiguous. Factoring in random, one-time expenses or calculating a part-time gig can complicate your budget, but trust us, your voyage can (and must) continue! Here are a few tips to ensure you have the most accurate budget—no matter the circumstance.

1. Estimating irregular income

If you’re a freelancer or work a side hustle, you likely have an irregular income that can be hard to predict. In these cases, it’s best to estimate a conservative (low) amount, so you don’t overspend. Review the past 3-6 months of income and watch for any patterns. Can you find an approximate hourly rate or weekly rate for what you bring in? If you’re new to a job, like being a waitress, ask a coworker how much they typically make in tips to help you forecast your monthly tip outs. Above all, do your best to create an income estimate—knowing you can tweak it along the way.

2. Paying for emergency expenses

Unfortunately, accidents and unexpected bills happen to everyone. From car troubles to job loss and medical expenses, emergencies can be expensive and having a backup emergency budget can help cut down expenses. An unexpected bill can throw off our budget, and set you back. If an incident does occur, try to factor the expense into your budget while paying your other bills. For instance, you may want to cut back on dining out for the month, or pick up an extra shift to help you cover a bill. If you can, build an emergency fund into your budget to safeguard your finances against future unexpected situations.

3. Forgetting one-time expenses

Items like annual memberships, vacations, and gifts for family and friends are often forgotten when creating budgets. If you can, set aside a small amount of cash every month for these extra expenses. You can estimate the expected cost for the year and account for them in your monthly budget. For example, if you typically spend $300 on Christmas gifts, set aside an extra $25 every month to account for these added expenditures. By the time December comes, you’ll have the cash available to spend on gifts.

How Often Should You Review Your Budget?

So now that you’ve learned how to actually create a budget, you’re probably wondering: How often should I review my budget?

It’s ultimately up to you, but you should aim to review your budget at least once every few months. Some people even prefer to do it each week or new month, so that they can ensure they’re always on top of their expenses.

You may want to consider checking in quarterly and doing annual budget reviews so you can see if you’re on track for your long-term financial goals. Budgeting isn’t just something you do one month and then never again. Budgeting is a long-term process, so it’s crucial to regularly review your budget to make sure you’re living within your means and not overspending.

A budget tracking template is a good way to keep your finances organized so you can create a reviewing system that works for you.

Key Takeaways: Budgeting 101

Bottom Line: Budgeting Can Help You Take Control of Your Finances

So, now that you have a better idea of what a budget is and how to create one, you can answer the question: What is your budget?

Every person’s budget will look different, and creating a budget that works for you may take some time. So for help with your budgeting journey, you should continue reading this series which will cover budgeting tools, tips for managing your budget, and more. And once you have a good understanding of what a budget is, you can move on to the next chapter in the series, which covers what to include in a budget.

Sign up for Mint to help you stick to your budget and goals Let the Mint app do the heavy lifting for you. It can calculate your income, total your spending by category, and help you conquer your savings goals. Tracking expenses with the app is simple and accessible—no matter where you are.

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


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