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

Source: Facebook.com/WOUnews

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

Source: Facebook.com/PacificU

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.

Source: rent.com

Chapter 07: Using the 50-30-20 Rule to Budget

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

So far in this series, we’ve answered important questions about budgeting, such as “What is a budget?” and “Why is budgeting beneficial?” This series has been focusing on how using a budget can help you keep your spending in check and ensure your savings goals are on track.

One way to do that is using Mint’s free 50/30/20 calculator to budget.

The 50/30/20 rule (also referred to as the 50/20/30 rule) is one method of budgeting that can help you keep your spending in alignment with your savings goals. Budgets should be about more than just paying your bills on time—the right budget can help you determine how much you should be spending, and on what.

The 50/30/20 rule can serve as a great tool to help you diversify your financial profile, reach dynamic savings goals, and foster overall financial health.

In this post, we’re taking you through the steps of budgeting using the 50/30/20 approach so that you can learn how to set up a budget that’s sustainable, effective, and simple. Use the links below to navigate or read all the way through to absorb all of our tips on how to budget using the 50/30/20 method:

In the previous chapters, we discussed what to include in a budget and the various ways you can create your own budget, like with a budget template. If you haven’t read through them already, we highly recommend going through them to get a comprehensive overview of budgeting.

What is the 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule?

The 50/30/20 budgeting rule–also referred to as the 50/20/30 budgeting rule–divides after-tax income into three different buckets:

  • Essentials (50%)
  • Wants (30%)
  • Savings (20%)

Essentials: 50% of your income

To begin abiding by this rule, set aside no more than half of your income for the absolute necessities in your life. This might seem like a high percentage (and, at 50%, it is), but once you consider everything that falls into this category it begins to make a bit more sense.

This will include your living expenses each month, which are essential expenses that you would almost certainly have to pay, regardless of where you lived, where you worked, or what your future plans happen to include. In general, these expenses are nearly the same for everyone and include:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Transportation costs
  • Utility bills

The percentage lets you adjust, while still maintaining a sound, balanced budget. And remember, it’s more about the total sum than individual costs. For instance, some people live in high-rent areas, yet can walk to work, while others enjoy much lower housing costs, but transportation is far more expensive.

How much your essential expenses cost will differ for each person depending on where they live and what their lifestyle is. If you’re thinking of relocating to a different part of the country, it’s a good idea to calculate your cost of living beforehand so you can know if you can realistically afford to live in that area based on your current total income.

Wants: 30% of your income

The second category, and the one that can make the most difference in your budget, is unnecessary expenses that enhance your lifestyle. Some financial experts consider this category completely discretionary, but in modern society, many of these so-called luxuries have taken on more of a mandatory status. It all depends on what you want out of life and what you’re willing to sacrifice.

These personal lifestyle expenses include items such as:

  • Your cell phone plan
  • Cable bill
  • Trips to the coffee shop
  • Savings for travel
  • Gym memberships
  • Weekend trips
  • Dining out

If you travel extensively or work on-the-go, your cell phone plan is probably more of a necessity than a luxury. However, you have some wiggle room since you can decide upon the tier of the service you’re paying for.

Only you can decide which of your expenses can be designated as “personal,” and which ones are truly obligatory. Similar to how no more than 50 percent of your income should go toward essential expenses, 30 percent is the maximum amount you should spend on personal choices. The fewer costs you have in this category, the more progress you’ll make paying down debt and securing your future.

Savings: 20% of your income

The next step is to dedicate 20% of your take-home pay toward savings. This is essentially how much you should set aside from your paycheck each month for savings. This can include different types of savings like:

  • Savings plans
  • Retirement accounts
  • Debt payments
  • Rainy-day funds

These are all things you should add to, but which wouldn’t endanger your life or leave you homeless if you didn’t. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but hopefully you get the gist. This category of expenses should only be paid after your essentials are already taken care of and before you even think about anything in the last category of personal spending.

Think of this as your “get ahead” category where you can challenge yourself to save. Whereas 50%(or less) of your income is the goal for essentials, 20%—or more—should be your goal as far as obligations are concerned. You’ll pay off debt quicker and make more significant strides toward a frustration-free future by devoting as much of your income as you can to this category.

The term “retirement” might not carry a sense of urgency when you’re only 24 years old, but it certainly will become more pressing in decades to come. Just keep in mind the advantage of starting early is you will earn compounding interest the longer you let this fund grow.

You don’t want to cash out your 401k to be able to pay off debt. The more you put towards savings now, the quicker you can pay off your debt and achieve financial stability.

Use our compound interest calculator to see how your money can grow over time.

Establishing good habits will last a lifetime. You don’t need a higher paying job to follow the tenets of the 50/30/20 rule; anyone can do it. Since this is a percentage-based system, the same proportions apply whether you’re earning an entry-level salary and living in a studio apartment, or if you’re years into your career and about to buy your first home.

A note of caution, though: Try not to take this rule too literally. The proportions are sound, but your life is unlike anyone else’s. What this plan does is provide a framework for you to work within. Once you review your income and expenses and determine what’s essential and what’s not, only then you can create a budget that helps you make the most of your money. Years from now, you can still fall back on the same guidelines to help your budget evolve as your life does.

Give our 50/30/20 budgeting calculator a try to see how this budgeting method works:

50/30/20 Budget Calculator

Here’s how much you have for:

Essentials$0.00

Wants$0.00

Savings$0.00

Ask Yourself: Why is a 50/30/20 Budget Necessary?

According to Consumer.gov, there are plenty of different reasons why people start a budget:

  • To save up for a large expense such as a house, car, or vacation
  • Put a security deposit on an apartment
  • To reduce spending habits
  • To improve their credit score
  • To eliminate debt
  • To break the paycheck to paycheck cycle

Identifying the reason why you’re budgeting with the 50/30/20 method can help you stay motivated and create a better plan to reach your goal. It’s kind of like the “eye on the prize” mentality. If you’re tempted to splurge, you can use your overarching goal to bring you back to your saving senses. So ask yourself: why am I starting to budget? What do I want to achieve?

Additionally, if you’re saving up for something specific, try to determine an exact number so that you can regularly evaluate whether or not your budget is on track throughout the week, month, or year.

How to Budget with the 50/30/20 Rule

To make the most of this budgeting method, consider following the steps below:

Deep Dive Into Your Current Spending Habits

Before implementing a 50/30/20 budget, take a long, hard look in the mirror (or maybe your wallet, rather). We’re talking about analyzing your spending habits. Think about whether you tend to overspend on:

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Food
  • Drinks

Figuring out your spending vices from the very beginning will help you learn how to use a 50/30/20 budget that effectively cuts spending where you need it most.

Take a look at your bank and credit card statements over the last few months and see if you can find any common trends. If you find that you’re overspending on going out for food and drinks, come up with a plan for how you can avoid this scenario.

There are plenty of ways to budget and save money without compromising your social life, such as:

  • Cook dinner at home before you go out
  • Have a potluck with friends
  • Find happy hour specials around town.

You can also try budgeting for groceries to make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach and you don’t overspend every time you step foot into the grocery store. The 50/30/20 budget rule is a good way to figure out exactly how much you have to spend on certain expenses.

Pro Tip: Using Mint’s easy budget categorization, you can identify where you can cut back on unnecessary expenses.

Identify Irregular Large Ticket Expenses in the “Wants” Category

Of course, there are expenses in life that we simply can’t avoid. Maybe you need to make a repair on your vehicle, or perhaps you’re putting a down payment on a house in the next six months. Oftentimes these bills are necessary expenses, so you’ll have to factor them into your budget.

When you’re coming up with your 50/30/20 budget, take a moment to look at your calendar so that you can plan for these expenses and adjust your spending in the time before and after you incur the expense.

Add Up All Income

Totaling your income is an important first step when learning how to budget your money using the 50/30/20 rule, but it’s not always as simple as it sounds. Depending on your job, you might have a relatively steady paycheck or one that fluctuates from month to month. If the latter is the case, collect your paychecks from the last six months and find the average income between them.

The last thing you want to happen is to end up in a budget deficit, which is when your spending is greater than your income. If you’re finding that you’re not able to meet that 20% for savings each month, that might mean it’s time to make some changes.

There are various ways you can increase your savings each month, such as:

  • Consider a minimalist lifestyle to cut back on some of your expenses
  • Increase your income with an additional stream of income
  • Negotiate your salary with your current employer

If you want an additional stream of income, but don’t want to leave the house to do so, you should look into how you can make money at home.

What Are the Benefits of the 50/30/20 Rule?

There are many benefits of using the 50/30/20 rule to budget:

  • It can help you get on top of your finances: The 50/30/20 rule is a simple way to get on top of your finances so you make sure you’re not spending beyond your means.
  • It can help you make a financial plan: Everyone’s financial plan looks different, but using the 50/30/20 rule is a great way to outline your finances so that you can figure out exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to invest more, the 50/30/20 rule will help you figure out exactly how much you need to put towards investments.
  • It’s easier to use than some other budgeting tools: There are a myriad of different budgeting tools and methods out there. Some people use financial calculators to calculate their budget, some people use a journal to write down all their expenses. But the 50/30/20 budget rule is often much easier to use than most other budgeting tools. It clearly outlines your expenses and savings so you can figure out if you’re staying on track with your finances.

Is the 50/30/20 Budget Right for You?

The 50/30/20 budget isn’t the only option. Other popular methods include:

  • Zero-sum: The principle of the zero-sum budget is that you must allocate each and every dollar you earn toward a specific expense, savings account, debt, or disposable income account. This style can help deter unnecessary spending because you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend on what items.
  • Envelope budgeting: Swiping your card left and right is easy—but the envelope method doesn’t let you succumb to this temptation. Rather than using your card to spend, you use a predetermined amount of cash as your spending pool, nothing more.

Choosing a budgeting style that works for you depends on a variety of factors; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to budgeting and saving money. That said, the 50/30/20 tends to be a simple yet effective option for getting started on your budgeting journey.

Main Takeaways: How to Budget Using the 50/30/20 Rule

Here are the key tenets of the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting:

  • This budget rule is a simple method that can help you reach your financial goals.
  • This budgeting method stipulates that you spend no more than 50% of your after-tax income on needs.
  • The remaining after-tax income should be split up between 30% wants or “lifestyle” purchases, and 20% to savings or debt repayment.
  • This style of budgeting is a good way to save up for larger expenses, reduce your spending habits, and break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
  • The 50/30/20 budget rule is a much more straightforward budgeting method than some of the other common strategies.

Try the 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule & Take Control of Your Finances

Mint offers budgeting software and a helpful budgeting calculator that makes it easy to live in accordance with the 50/30/20 rule (or any budget that suits your lifestyle) so that you can live life to its fullest. After spending just a little bit of time determining which of your expenses fall into which category, you can create your very first budget and keep track of it every day. And when your situation undoubtedly changes, Mint lets you adjust, so your budget can change with you.

Sign up for your free account today, build your 50/30/20 budget, and make this the year you build a strong foundation for your future.

Now that you know what the 50/30/20 budget rule is and how you can use Mint to make a budget, you can move onto the next chapter in the series, which covers zero-based budgeting. Continue reading our series to learn more about how budgeting can help you reach your goals and achieve financial stability.

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

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Source: mint.intuit.com

In Search of Relief at the Pump

Matthew Lewis is a professor in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University and a gas price expert. 

What factors have contributed to the sharp rise in gas prices?

An increase in crude oil prices is the main reason. To a secondary extent, disruptions to the refinery market and pipeline distribution system can affect prices, but the most recent increase is primarily driven by fluctuation in oil prices. Much of the initial shock this spring had to do with all the reshuffling that had to happen as refiners looked to get oil from different places after economic sanctions triggered by the war in Ukraine led to a disruption of oil from Russia. 

When crude oil prices rise, gas prices tend to increase quickly, but they fall much more slowly when oil prices decline. Why is that?

The most common reason is consumer behavior. When consumers see a price for gas that’s higher than what they’re used to paying, they search around more carefully for a gas station with a lower price. But when oil prices start to fall, gas station owners know that if they lower prices just a little bit, consumers will think that they’ve found a good deal and won’t continue to search around. That softens competition between gas stations and reduces the pressure for them to continue to lower the price of gas. 

Do gas station owners earn more profits when prices are rising?

When you get an oil price shock or refinery disruption, the price increase will be passed on to consumers quickly, but stations earn very low profit margins because the market for gas is so competitive. They’re barely covering rent and other costs when gas prices are going up. The only time they’re able to cover the costs and make any money for themselves is when prices are falling.

Why do gas prices sometimes vary considerably among individual stations?

Because of variations in state gas taxes, there are differences across state lines. In addition, some brand-name gas stations charge higher prices because some consumers believe that their gas is better than gas sold at off-brand stations. And some stations that are attached to large convenience stores are able to charge lower prices because they sell a lot more gas. 

Does that mean it’s worth using tools such as GasBuddy to shop around for lower prices?

Given the amount of price differences in some parts of the country, I would say yes. In places like California, where gas prices are high, it can definitely pay to shop around. You certainly don’t want to drive across town to save 5 cents, but it’s usually not that hard to save more than that by just checking an app and pulling up a map.

How long will gas prices remain high?

Although it’s difficult to predict oil prices, the oil futures market is about as good a predictor as you can get, and it’s forecasting that prices won’t fall anytime soon. But it’s a little misleading to compare oil prices now with the past two years because prices were artificially deflated by a decline in demand due to the pandemic.

Source: kiplinger.com

Where to Find Low-Cost and Free Mental Health Services

When you have poor or no health insurance, you might prioritize other issues over mental health care. A single session with a therapist could cost $100 to $300 or more, which can be a major burden — or just an impossible cost — for a lot of people.

This could mean ignoring undiagnosed issues or skipping treatment you know you need. Even if you don’t suffer from mental health issues, you might neglect your need for support through a major life event when you see the cost of therapy.

As with any physical ailment, not seeking mental health care could be detrimental to your health in the long term, so we want to help you find the care you need with whatever resources you have.

12 Ways to Find Free or Low-Cost Mental Health Services

Instead of forgoing care or winding up in debt over medical bills, try these options to find affordable or free counseling and other mental health care services.

1. Find a Training Clinic

Like other areas of health and medicine, students need to practice working with the public before they become clinical or counseling psychologists.

That’s good news for any of us who want to save money on therapy.

Training clinics are usually located near or as part of universities. You’ll attend sessions with a graduate student supervised by a licensed psychologist. These clinics typically charge on a sliding scale (which could be as low as $0, if that’s where your scale slides…)

To find one near you, you can browse the Association of Psychology Training Clinics for member clinics. Or just search “[your city] psychology training clinic.”

2. Visit a Community Mental Health Center

Community mental health centers may offer access to support groups, individual counseling or resources to learn more about your mental health concerns.

Find a center through the Department of Human Services at your state’s government website.

You can also find services through private nonprofit organizations. YMCA offers low-cost and sliding scale behavior health and family services for kids and adults. Look for counseling and mental health services through your local Y.

3. Attend a Support Group

While you miss out on the personalized care and complete anonymity of private sessions, support groups can be the perfect solution for free or low-cost therapy.

Organizations like the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) host free community support groups in person or online.

If you want to work with a particular therapist but can’t afford private sessions — because you lost insurance coverage, for example — ask if they offer group sessions. These should come at a lower rate you could potentially afford out of pocket.

4. Negotiate and Ask for Discounts

You might not realize it, but your medical bills are totally negotiable. By a lot.

Don’t be afraid to lowball here — this isn’t a business deal, so you don’t have to worry about making a bad impression.

When you receive a bill for services, contact the provider to simply let them know you can’t afford it. They may be willing to cut the cost by more than half if you can pay a chunk upfront.

If you don’t have the cash handy, ask for a payment plan. Get on it before the bill goes to collections, and ask for a monthly payment you can handle.

This illustration shows someone seeing a therapist online.
Getty Images

5. See a Therapist Online

Telehealth (or telemedicine) is convenient for a lot of people and could save you a ton of money on health care.

Through an app like Teladoc, you can meet with a health care professional for physical or mental health issues for a fraction of the cost — and time — of a trip to the clinic. Telemedicine doctors can diagnose, recommend treatment and even prescribe medication if necessary.

Or opt for a subscription to a therapy app like Talkspace or BetterHelp. You get access to a licensed therapist via audio or text messaging, or live video chat for around $60 to $150 per week, paid monthly.

6. Lean on Your Spiritual Community and Leaders

If you’re involved with an organized religious group, you could find the help you need within that community.

Does your organization host free support groups or retreats where you can connect with others in your situation? Maybe your minister or other leaders in the community offer free individual or couples counseling.

If you’re worried about opening up about your struggles within a small community, remember: Everyone coming to group therapy is looking for help, just like you are.

7. Use Services at Your School or College

College or university students and faculty often have access to health care services through their schools. Your tuition and fees subsidize them, so you might as well take advantage!

Children enrolled in a K-12 school may have access to sessions with a school counselor, as well. Lean on these options when your family can’t afford private mental health services.

8. Consult the Internet

Going online to self-diagnose your ailments is no replacement for professional diagnosis and treatment.

But if you already know what you’re dealing with, consulting a relevant association’s website could help when you have questions and lack access to a doctor.

For example, if you suffer from anxiety, you can find reliable resources at these websites:

Some people also find online forums like Reddit (content warning: suicide) or Facebook groups useful for connecting with other people who understand your situation.

Just be careful to take suggestions from random individuals with a grain of salt, and never rely on them for a diagnosis or medical advice

9. Call NAMI

If you prefer to speak with someone directly, you can call the NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to get answers about symptoms, treatments and resources. The Helpline itself doesn’t offer counseling, but it can help you connect with programs in your area.

10. Check Your Employee Benefits

Some companies and government agencies offer something called an employee assistance program (EAP), which could cover some free counseling sessions, among other benefits.

Check with an HR representative to learn whether your organization offers this kind of benefit and ask how you can take advantage of it.

In some cases, the available counselor is someone working as a consultant with your company and may consult with company leadership as well as counseling employees. They’re likely bound by certain confidentiality requirements, but if you have any concern about your privacy in the workplace, state those requirements in advance.

11. Stop by an LGBTQ Center

If you’re seeking safe and affirming support as an LGBTQ person, look for local LGBTQ centers and support or advocacy organizations. They might offer support groups, access to counseling or resources for LGBTQ-friendly care.

You can search “LGBTQ center in [your city or town],” or browse these resources:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shares a list of LGBTQ support and advocacy groups.
  • The Trevor Project, focused on LGBTQ youth support, offers a crisis line you can call, text or chat online with. It also offers text, chat and phone counseling.
  • Find a PFLAG chapter near you for support for LGBTQ people, friends and families.

12. Join a Therapy Collective

Open Path is a nonprofit psychotherapy collective that offers low-cost counseling for people with financial need.

You can join the collective for a one-time fee of $59, then receive care for between $30 and $60 per session (up to $80 for couple and family sessions).

The collective lets you search for therapists in your area or speak with someone online, so you should be able to find the help you need no matter where you live.

OpenPath doesn’t require income verification for membership, but it asks that you only use the service if you’re uninsured, underinsured, have a household income less than $100,000 a year or otherwise can’t cover market rates for therapy.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Inflation Is Soaring. Here Are 12 Ways to Manage Higher Costs

A graphic shows a shopping cart full of items climbing a graphic illustrating rising inflation

Getty Images and Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

The cost of living is going up and up, thanks to inflation — which is the highest it’s been in 40 years.

You’ve likely felt the financial pinch at the grocery store, at the gas station and when making other everyday purchases.

If you’re looking to stabilize your rising costs, you’re going to have to think a bit differently about the way you shop.

12 Savvy Ways to Fight Price Inflation

Here are a dozen savings tips to help you fight price inflation on everyday purchases.

1. Shop Your Pantry

Before you go grocery shopping, make a habit of checking the shelves of your pantry first. Canned goods, pasta and other pantry staples have a tendency to get forgotten in dark corners.

By taking inventory of what you already have at home, you’ll avoid mistakenly buying multiples of the same item. You might be able to shorten your grocery list (and spend less). You’ll also reduce the chance of food going bad before you remember to eat it.

Try a pantry challenge to use up what you’ve already got at home instead of going out and buying overpriced groceries. Don’t just limit your challenge to pantry items. Check what you’ve got in the freezer and what toiletries you already have before buying more of the same stuff.

2. Do Meal Prep

Planning out your meals and making grocery lists based on a meal plan means you’ll be less likely to waste money on something that looks good in the store but you never get around to eating.

This expert meal prep advice simply lays out how to get started planning your meals in advance.

3. Minimize Food Waste

When you’re paying more for food, the last thing you want is to let it go to waste. It’s like throwing your hard-earned cash in the trash.

Use these tips to reduce food waste so you’ll never have to toss out moldy cheese or stale bread again.

4. Choose Store Brands Over Name Brands

Name brand groceries are already priced higher than their store brand counterparts. And many times, you can barely tell the difference between the two.

With prices going up, switch to generic brands to lower your grocery spending. You may even discover a new favorite.

5. Buy in Bulk

While you’ll pay more money upfront for stuff in larger quantities, it’s actually a smart move to buy in bulk. Typically, you’ll pay less per item.

If you don’t need a three-box bundle of cereal or 10 pounds of macaroni noodles, you could always split your shopping haul with a friend or family member. Or you could just use this as an excuse to do less grocery shopping throughout the month.

6. Cut Back on Meat

Cutting back on meat will have a significant impact on your grocery bill, because beef and pork and chicken tend to be some of the more expensive items in the store — inflation or not.

Going meatless a day or two a week and turning to cheaper alternatives, like beans and lentils, can help you cut costs.

7. Save Money on Produce

Even with prices going up, you can still find ways to save on fruit and vegetables — without growing them in your backyard.

Buying from local farmers, sticking to what’s in season or choosing frozen over fresh are just a few ways to save money on produce.

8. Buy Reusable Instead of Disposable

Which is better: Buying something for $5 that you use once and throw away, or purchasing something similar for $10 but that you can reuse over and over again?

Reusable products cost more upfront than their disposable counterparts, but they’re usually a better deal because they last much longer. Being better for the environment is an added plus.

These nine comparisons show how buying reusable instead of disposable can help you save.

9. Be Smart About Filling Up

The price at the pump keeps going up and up, not only due to inflation but also as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Still, you have places to go — which means gas is an essential.

Carpooling to the office can help you cut costs. So can signing up for fuel reward programs or using fuel comparison apps to find the lowest gas prices around. This article on how to save on gas has additional advice to lower your spending even as prices rise.

10. Share Tools and Equipment

Splitting the cost of something you’ll only use occasionally is a better deal than paying full price for something that’ll end up collecting dust most of the time.

Consider sharing pricy tools and equipment — like a stand mixer or a leaf blower — with a neighbor or nearby friend or family member.

11. Learn to Barter

You can also fight price inflation by choosing to barter with a friend or family member, rather than paying full price for goods and services.

Perhaps a friend has extra lumber from a home renovation that you can use in exchange for doing free graphic design work for their small business. Or maybe you can dog sit for a family member while they’re out of town in exchange for a few free meals.

12. Get Free Things from a Buy-Nothing Group

Getting free items from a local Buy Nothing Group, means you can bypass high prices at a store — and you don’t even have to offer up anything in exchange. These groups focus on donations rather than trading or bartering.

Join your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What Is the Average Annual Income in America? -Salaries in the USA

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Additional Resources

Income is a key part of a healthy financial picture. You can use your income to cover expenses, make investments, and build your net worth. 

In some cases, your income comes from active sources like a full-time job or a collection of side hustles. In other cases, you’ll have income coming from passive sources such as dividends from your investment portfolio. 

But how does your income stack up against your peers? Let’s see how income breaks down across the United States.


What Is the Average Annual Income in America?

As of 2020, the average wage was $55,628.60, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).


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The SSA is one of the best sources for U.S. income information because it uses the average wage index to track raw wages each year. 

Raw wages are employment compensation that is subject to federal income taxes, as reported on W-2 forms. The income included on your W-2 would cover regular wages, tips, and more. 

Average Household Income in America

The average income index is used by the SSA to make adjustments on an annual basis. But the national average wage index doesn’t measure a household’s entire income throughout the year. Instead, it leaves out any income received through side hustles and investment dividends. 

Because many people don’t earn traditional W-2 wages, the median household income tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau is important to consider as well. In 2020, the median household income was $67,521, which was a decrease of 2.9% from the median household income of $69,560 in 2019. This decrease was likely due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Meanwhile, the slight increase in wages reported by the SSA reflects a long-term trend of increasing average wages across the country. Although nominal income has increased over time, real wages take inflation into account. And with that, the gains in nominal wages are eaten away by inflation. 

Mean vs. Median Wages and Income

When looking at the numbers, it’s important to differentiate between mean and median wage and income figures. 

The mean income or wage represents what most people refer to as average income. If you take the income of all earners in the country and divide it by the number of workers, you have the average income. 

The median income or wage refers to the place in the distribution where there are an equal number of higher and lower figures on either side. To find the median income or wage, you need to line up the income of all earners from smallest to largest, then pick the value exactly in the middle. 


Average Household Income in the U.S. By Demographics

Household income in the U.S. is tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau. As mentioned above, the median household income in 2020 was $67,521.

However, median household income varies dramatically by age, race, education level, gender, and region. To gain a better understanding of the average income in America, we need to break down the data by demographic category.Luckily, the Census Bureau provides a clear breakdown in its 2020 report on Income and Poverty in the U.S.

Age

With age comes experience, but how does that impact your earning potential? 

Age of householder Median household income
15 to 24 years old $46,886
25 to 34 years old $71,566
35 to 44 years old $85,694
45 to 54 years old $90,359
55 to 64 years old $74,270
65 years and older $46,360

The median household income of $76,800 for those under age 65 contrasts sharply with a median household income of $46,360 for those older than 65. Income only rises with age until 55, after which it begins to drop quickly. 

Education Level

Education level has a big impact on the median household income. Generally, education is positively correlated with income — the farther you get in school, the higher your earning power.

Education level Median household income
No high school diploma $29,547
High school diploma, no college $47,405
Some college $64,653
Bachelor’s degree or higher $106,936

However, the type of degree you get does matter. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), found that the average wage for a physician or surgeon was $208,000 per year. But those jobs require several more years of school — and more student debt, on average — than most professions. 

Race/Ethnicity

Income inequality is painfully apparent when you look at the income statistics by race and ethnicity. 

Racial Groups Median household income
White $71,231
White, non-Hispanic $74,912
Black $45,870
Asian $94,903
Hispanic, any race $55,321

It’s easy to see that income earners are impacted by their race or ethnicity. Asian Americans have a dramatically higher family income than the median household income in the U.S., while Black and Hispanic Americans of any race have lower household income than the average. 

Gender

The gender income gap is also disheartening. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women are over-represented in lower paying jobs. Additionally, the pay gap grows as they age. In fact, the Quarterly Workforce Indicators put out by the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that women earned 30% less than their male counterparts. 

Based on data from the BLS, women earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2020. Women who worked full-time in 2020 earned a median income of $50,982, compared to $61,417 for their male counterparts. 

Household status Median household income
Female householder, with no spouse present $49,214
Male householder, with no spouse present $67,304
Female householder, non family $35,574
Male householder, non family $47,259

Based on these numbers, it’s painfully obvious that women earn less than men. Although the gender pay gap has regularly shrunk since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, there’s still a significant difference. One reason for this is that women are over-represented in lower-paying industries. 

State/Region

The area you live in has a big impact on your earning opportunities. Luckily, Census Bureau data offers a closer look at the median household income by U.S. region. 

The Northeast covers the Eastern Seaboard states from Maine to Maryland. The South includes everything south of Delaware and west past the Mississippi River into Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. The West includes the Pacific coast states inland to the Rockies. And the Midwest covers everywhere else. 

Region Median household income
Northeast $75,211
Midwest $66,968
South $61,243
West $74,951

The South has the lowest household income, just slightly behind the Midwest. With higher costs of living in many parts of the Northeast and West regions, it’s not terribly surprising that the median household income is a bit higher. 

Beyond the region you live in, whether or not you live inside of an official Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) matters. Typically, rural workers — people living outside MSAs defined by the U.S. Census Bureau — have lower median earnings. 

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Status Median household income
Inside MSA $70,956
Outside MSA $51,616

Bigger population centers tend to have more employment and business opportunities. But cost of living tends to be higher in cities and suburbs too.


Putting the Average American Salary in Perspective

The average American salary can be sliced and diced in so many different ways. But two of the most interesting ways to look at these numbers include the distribution of incomes in relation to the poverty line and how these numbers are changing over time. 

Income Distribution in the U.S.

The median salary of workers in America is $55,628.60. But by definition, 50% of Americans earn less than the median. Many of them earn less than the federal poverty level.

Whether or not a household is living in poverty is determined by considering the household income and the number of people living in. 

For example, a household with one individual over the age of 65 would need to earn at least $12,413 to be considered above the poverty line. But a three-person household would need to earn $20,932 to break the poverty line. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate was 11.4% in 2020. That figure represents 37.2 million people in poverty that year. 

In sharp contrast to the poverty line are the top 1% of earners in the country. The 1% threshold varies dramatically based on your state. According to data from the IRS and BLS analyzed by Smart Asset, American families needed to earn at least $597,815 in 2022 to be considered the top 1%. 

Average American Salary Over Time

The average American salary has grown over time. 

In 1951, the national average wage index was $2,799.16. Since that first year of data collection, the average American salary has grown to $55,628.60. 

It’s clear that wages have grown. But what about when inflation is taken into account? 

When you look at the national average wage index of 1951 in inflation-adjusted dollars, it would be $27,894.59 in 2020. Since the average household income was $55,528.60 in 2020, real wages have approximately doubled the inflation rate during that time. 


Average American Income FAQs

Still have questions about the average income in America? Here are the answers to some of the most common ones. 

What Is a Good Income in 2022?

The definition of a good income varies dramatically based on your individual situation. For example, if you live in a higher cost of living area, you’ll need to make more to live comfortably. 

In most of the country, a single person earning $67,521 or more per year should be comfortable. After all, that’s the median household income for the U.S. That equates to approximately $1,300 in weekly earnings. 

The definition of a good income changes based on your household size. If you have kids, you need to earn more to be financially comfortable. 

Additionally, where you live has an impact on your income needs. For those in a high cost of living area, a higher salary is necessary just to make ends meet. All else being equal, you can’t stretch a $67,000 salary as far in New York City or San Francisco as you can in a small rural town.

Of course, more income is always a good thing, regardless of your family size or where you live.. 

Does the Average U.S. Salary Make You Middle-Class?

According to the Pew Research Center, the middle-class is defined as those making between two-thirds to double the national median income. Since the median household income is $67,521 in 2020. The average household income of $55,628.60 would be considered middle-class. 

What Does the Top 1% Make in America?

According to 2022 data from the IRS and BLS analyzed by Smart Asset, American families need to earn at least $597,815 per year to be considered in the top 1%. But the 1% threshold varies dramatically based on your state.

For example, if you live in Mississippi, an annual income of $361,462 puts you in the top 1% of earners in the state. But you’d need to earn at least $810,256 to be in the top 1% of earners in Massachusetts. 


Final Word

Beyond keeping food on the table, higher income can help you tackle your personal finance goals. 

Although it’s tempting to compare yourself to the U.S. household income numbers, don’t take these numbers too personally. Instead, pursue an income that will allow you to live a comfortable life. It’s not necessary to be in the 1% to build a solid net worth. 

If you want to see how your net worth stacks up against the average, dive into the numbers with us. 

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I’m also including a bio here: Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys helping people make better financial decisions. When not nerding out about money, Sarah enjoys traveling, hiking, and reading. You can connect with her on her blog Adventurous Adulting.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Become a Trivia Host

Trivia nights are becoming must-have entertainment at bars across the country, where a good host can make $50 to $250 a night depending on if they work for a company or themselves. The friendly competition is also a regular feature at many restaurants, craft brweries, private parties and churches.

Google “trivia nights Atlanta” and more than 70 listings pop up. Search in a much smaller town such as Marietta, Ohio, population 14,000, and around 15 trivia nights display.

For the outlets that aren’t hosting a trivia night, it’s not hard to convince them to try it, according to Thor Dollar, who owns Hammered Trivia in Raleigh, N.C. He started the year working four locations with one other host and now has 12 hosts working 22 trivia nights at different places.

“Some of the places where we host trivia, it’s their busiest night of the week. Busier than Friday or Saturday. People are there three hours on average and some stay after (trivia) and keep spending money,” he said.

Dollar said his average game has 20 teams, with an average of four or five people on each team. That adds up to 100 people dropping $20 to $40 in a night.

Based on that math, bars and restaurants make $2,000 to $4,000 from trivia-playing customers — and know it’s well worth paying the trivia host $200.

Is It Hard To Be a Bar Trivia Host?

First off, you don’t have to be Alex Trebec. You don’t even have to come up with good questions, much less know the answers.

“You do not have to be a whiz kid to have a good time,” Dollar said. “A good host is really quick thinking, energetic and fun. You’re the host of the party, so you should be having fun.”

Compile Trivia Questions

The Internet is full of hundreds of lists of thousands of trivia questions. Or you can subscribe to a service that supplies questions for a flat fee.

For example, StageTimeTrivia.com charges $100 a month, for weekly rounds of trivia questions, answer sheets and score cards. DeliverMeTrivia.com charges $19 a week for the same.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match. Dollar says he subscribes to a service but also puts in a few of his own questions, sometimes tied to local people and events.

Project Your Voice

“You have to be able to read. You have to be loud and clear and able to project your voice. It’s really public speaking at the end of the day,” said Casey Wyatt, another host with Hammered Trivia.

She’s always loved going to trivia nights, so she just started hosting as a side gig to her day job with an educational data analysis company.

Add a Little Humor

Again, you don’t need to be a stand-up comedian, but throwing in a little humor or friendly ribbing at a team here and there makes the crowd feel engaged with the host and each other.

On a recent trivia night, Wyatt asked: “What is the orchestral piece at the beginning of an opera?” The correct answer is: “Overture.”  But when she was reading out answers she said:

“Prelude….,” and some patrons cheered and others cringed, “is the most popular wrong answer. The right answer is overture.”

Not Too Hard and Not Too Easy

To keep the crowd having fun and coming back, most people should be able to answer six or seven questions from each round of 10, Dollar said.

Most pub quiz questions are general knowledge a lot of people know, while a few are for someone who happens to have knowledge in a unique area or remember something they learned in high school anatomy.

Thor Dollar hosts a trivia night at a bar.
“A good host is really quick thinking, energetic and fun,” said Thor Dollar, owner of Hammered Trivia in Raleigh, N.C. “You’re the host of the party, so you should be having fun.” Photo courtesy of Thor Dollar

“Every good host should be constantly reading the room and getting feedback from players,” Dollar said. If they seem frustrated or they aren’t having fun, adjust your questions.

A Little Technical Know-How

Trivia hosts usually play music in the background from their laptop or phone between rounds and when players are thinking of answers. Some also play snippets of songs for music trivia rounds.

While some bar trivia hosts use pen and paper, many have guests scan a QR code to see the questions and submit answers from their phone.

This allows your pub quiz to include photos, book covers, illustrations or anything that can be scanned and seen on a phone.

How to Start a Side Gig Hosting Trivia

There are two ways to host trivia night: Find your own gig with a restaurant or bar or sign up with a local or national trivia company.

Landing Your Own Trivia Night

Find an establishment that doesn’t have a trivia night and ask if they have ever considered it. If they say they tried and trivia didn’t draw a crowd, explain why you can do it better.

Use the math from above to show how long teams of players stay and how much they spend.

Dollar suggests offering to host three nights for free or a reduced rate, then when a certain number of teams play consistently raise your rate.

Tell the owner or manager that as the trivia host, you’ll provide all the materials including questions, answer sheets, pens, pencils etc. But suggest the business might offer gift cards worth $25 to $75 for three levels of prizes to the winning team or teams.

A woman holds a drink while sitting at a table at a corporate event.
Casey Wyatt signed on as a host with local company Hammered Trivia in Raleigh, N.C., rather than joining a national chain. Photo courtesy of Casey Wyatt

Get in with Trivia Companies

National bar trivia chains hiring hosts nationwide include Geeks Who Drink, Team Trivia, Top Shelf Trivia and many more. According to Indeed.com they pay $20 to $35 an hour for a trivia night that lasts two to three hours.

Wyatt, who recently signed on with Hammered Trivia, decided to go with a local company after playing several trivia nights around town and applying to the one where she thought the crowd had the most fun.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but they also paid the best,” she said.

How To Keep Trivia Players From Cheating

It’s a given that people cheat at trivia. And when players are submitting answers on their phones, there is even more opportunity to Google an answer or two.

“People cheat all the time,” Dollar said. “Your biggest way to keep the game honest is knowing the players. I go around and talk to the players.”

He also intentionally asks at least three extremely hard questions that raise a red flag if a team gets them all correct.

“Then I strike up a conversation with them. If a bunch of 22-year-old dudes get all the questions about musicals right I say: ‘So which one of you is the Andrew Lloyd Weber fan’ or ‘what was your favorite show that played at the Durham Performing Arts Center last year.”

Another tactic: Catch cheaters in the act of searching for answers on their phone.

“When I know they’re cheating,” Dollar said, “I tell them I’m not going to check their scores anymore but they can still play along for the rest of the night.”

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill, N.C. and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker, Missteps & Lessons Learned.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Dear Penny: Can My Deadbeat Son Fight My Decision to Disinherit Him?

Dear Penny,

I am 73 and have one son who is unmarried and lives in the same town. I also have five siblings. I am very close to my youngest sister who is on disability. I paid my home off two years ago, and I have some 401(k) savings. 

I am planning on leaving my home and all of my 401(k) and savings accounts to my sister. I owe no money to anyone. I have a $10,000 life insurance policy I put in my son’s name. 

I know he will be upset, but he has been stealing from me for years as he did with his dad when he was living. He has a set of master keys and gets in even after I’ve changed my locks and also stole my extra car key! Can he fight my decision in court to get the money and house after I pass on?

-L.

Dear L.,

I can’t promise you that your son won’t fight your decisions in court. But it’s actually quite difficult to win such a challenge. Still, there are a few things you can do to make it even harder for your son to successfully contest your final wishes.

Your son probably has standing to contest your will and beneficiary designations. That doesn’t mean he’d actually win — it just means he’d have the right to make the case. In many states, any close relatives who would automatically stand to inherit assets from someone if they died with no will can mount a challenge, as can anyone named in a previous version of the will.


Winning is much more difficult. Your son would probably have to prove that you lacked mental capacity or were under improper influence when you made your estate plan. Or he’d have to prove that the relevant documents weren’t signed in accordance with your state law. He doesn’t have a right to an inheritance just because he feels entitled to one.

One way to avoid a court dispute is to keep as many assets out of probate as possible. Retirement accounts, like your 401(k), pass directly to whomever you name as your beneficiary. So as long as your sister is listed, that money will avoid probate and go directly to her.

You can also make your bank accounts payable on death to your sister so they can bypass probate as well. It’s a little more complex when you’re dealing with your home. One option to explore is putting your home in a revocable trust and making your sister the beneficiary. You could also use a revocable trust to pass personal property, like your car, furniture and any valuables, to your sister.

It’s still possible for your son to contest your beneficiary designations, but it’s harder to do. Unlike probated property, assets that pass through beneficiary designation won’t become part of the public record. Your son obviously knows you have a home and would be able to see that it was transferred to your sister through property records. But he wouldn’t know what retirement and bank accounts exist since the details would be private.

Assuming you have a will, you may want to revise it to explicitly state that you don’t want your son to receive anything beyond the life insurance money. Attorneys often recommend taking this step in case the disinherited person tries to claim they were accidentally left out of the will.

It’s essential to name a contingent beneficiary, who will receive your property if your sister dies before you do. Assets that typically avoid probate will be distributed by a court if there’s no living beneficiary. In that event, it’s quite possible your son would inherit your home or money. If you aren’t close with your other siblings or family members, you could name a close friend or charity.

Hiring an attorney to review your estate plan is worthwhile here, given your concerns that your son may try to fight. But since your sister is on disability, you should also discuss how an inheritance will affect her finances. An inheritance wouldn’t jeopardize her disability payments, but it could put certain other benefits, like Medicaid, at risk.

I’d also suggest investing money in a home security professional who can help you equip your house and car against your son’s future break-ins. The fact that he has such easy access makes me worry for your safety.

The odds of your son clawing money out of your estate are pretty slim. If your estate is relatively small, it may not even be worth it for him to fight, given the substantial costs involved. But for peace of mind, consult with an attorney to be sure your estate plan is as airtight as possible.

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

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com