Here’s All You Need to Know About Unlimited Chuck E. Cheese Games

Chuck-e-cheese stands outside of a vehicle after a reopening of a Check E Cheese store.
Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Utah. Stephanie Bolling is a former staff writer.

Thinking of having a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese? The Ultimate Fun and Mega Fun party options both come with 2 hours of all you can play for each child.
To keep patrons safe, Chuck E. Cheese has COVID-19 protocols implemented during birthday parties and some aspects of playtime. There are hand sanitizing stations, regular sanitizing of surfaces and touchless pay options, as well as the touchless Play Passes and bands.
You’d think taking the little ones to a pizza and games place like Chuck E. Cheese would bring some distraction-induced reprieve. But alas, they’re coming at you every five minutes for more tokens.
Just think: Your kids might wear themselves out for less than . Might.

How Chuck E. Cheese All You Can Play Works

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If you do a traditional party at Chuck E. Cheese but want social distancing, you can book a VIP party on Saturdays at 8 a.m. or Sundays at 9 a.m.
If you have to cancel a party due to COVID, you can transfer your party deposit to a new date within one year of the canceled date or use it for a to-go party pack.

  • $1 Play Pass
  • $3 Play Pass with coil wristband
  • $7.99 Rechargeable Play Band with $5 worth of game play included

Ready to stop worrying about money?
Some games might still dispense paper tickets, but Chuck E. Cheese has transitioned to e-tickets that are automatically saved to Play Passes. Once kids are done playing, they can redeem their e-tickets at the counter for prizes.
Behold the All You Can Play game option (aka the savior of parental sanity), at participating Chuck E. Cheese locations nationwide.

For birthday parties, you can find an option that works for you based on state or local guidelines, or even do a Party Pack at home through delivery or carryout. If you choose an at-home option, you’ll still get play points and e-tickets to use on your next visit.

Pro Tip
If you find yourself frequently going to Chuck E. Cheese to keep the kids happy, check out their rewards program.

Chuck E. Cheese and COVID-19 Safety

Privacy Policy
Check that All You Can Play is available at your Chuck E. Cheese location before you go.
The allowed number of party guests and Chuck E. appearances will vary by state and local guidelines. If local guidelines don’t allow for Chuck E. to be there in person, he’ll attend virtually on video monitors.
Not today, children.
Currently, unlimited game time comes in 30-minute increments starting at with any Chuck E. Cheese deals purchase and is good any day of the week. Save even more if you go on All You Can Play Wednesday. Mention the promotion at time of purchase and you’ll get an hour of unlimited play for .99.
Kids and families attend the Chuck E. Cheese Baton Rouge, La. Signature Grand Reopening on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 in Baton Rouge, LA. Tyler Kaufman/AP Images for CEC Entertainment
Kids like to touch everything, and at a restaurant like Chuck E. Cheese those instincts run free.

Chuck E. Cheese Rewards

For one flat fee, kiddos can play unlimited games without exception for a selected amount of time.
When you download the app and sign-up, you’ll receive 500 free e-tickets. You’ll get 250 e-tickets on your sign-up anniversary and a birthday surprise for your birthday and half-birthday. Refer a friend and you’ll get one free personal pizza when they sign up.

  • For 50 points, you’ll get 15 minutes of play time, an order of Unicorn Churros or 500 e-tickets.
  • At 100 points, you receive 30 minutes of play time, one personal 1-topping pizza or 1,000 e-tickets.
  • For 200 points, you can earn 60 minutes of play time, one large 1-topping pizza or 2,000 e-tickets.

Kids can use Play Passes or Play Bands, which allow them to load time or points with a tap. Play Passes come in three tiers:
Before your next trip, you can also reload time and points onto Play Passes and Play Bands online. <!–


Being a parent is expensive. And exhausting.

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio – What It Is & How It Affects Your Mortgage Rate

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Additional Resources

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the median home sold for just over $408,000. 

Could you afford to pay that out of pocket? Probably not. That’s why most homebuyers wind up applying for mortgage loans.

Getting a mortgage can be a long process and lenders look at a lot of factors when deciding whether to approve your application. You also have to go through a similar process when refinancing.

One thing that lenders look for when making a lending decision is the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of the loan.

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What Is a Loan-to-Value Ratio?

The loan-to-value ratio of a loan is how much money you’re borrowing compared to the value of the asset securing the loan. In the case of a mortgage, it compares the remaining balance of your loan to the value of your house. On an auto loan, it compares the balance of your loan to the value of your car.

Lenders use LTV as a way to measure the risk of a loan. The lower a loan’s LTV, the less risk the lender is taking. If you fail to make payments and the lender forecloses, a lower LTV ratio means the lender has a higher chance of fully recovering their losses by selling the foreclosed asset. A higher LTV means more risk the lender loses some money.

Lenders may have maximum LTVs that they’ll approve. For example, FHA loans require at least 96.5% LTV. Conventional loans require at least 97% LTV, but only for the best-qualified borrowers — most require 95% LTV or lower. Your loan’s LTV can have other important impacts on your borrowing experience, including your interest rate and monthly payment.

Calculating the Loan-to-Value Ratio

Because LTV plays a big role in the overall cost of your loan, it’s a good idea to calculate it before you apply. 

LTV Formula

To calculate the LTV ratio of a loan, you divide the balance of your loan by the value of your home.

The formula is:

(Loan balance / Home value) = LTV

LTV Calculation Example 

Imagine that you want to purchase a home that appraises for $300,000. You apply for a mortgage and get approved for a $270,000 loan.

The LTV of that loan is:

$270,000 / $300,000 = 90%

If you choose to make a larger down payment and only borrow $240,000, your mortgage’s LTV will be.

$240,000 / $300,000 = 80%

As you pay down your mortgage or as your home’s value changes, the loan’s LTV ratio moves away from this initial value. Typically, as you pay off your mortgage, the LTV ratio drops.

How LTV Affects Your Mortgage Rates

Lenders use LTV as a way to measure the risk of a loan. The higher the LTV of a loan, the higher its risk.

Lenders compensate for risk in a few ways. 

One is that they tend to charge higher interest rates for riskier loans. If you apply for a loan with a high LTV, expect to be quoted a higher interest rate than if you were willing to make a larger down payment. A higher rate raises your monthly payment and the overall cost of your loan.

Another is that lenders may charge additional fees to borrowers who apply for riskier loans. For example, you might have to pay more points to secure an affordable rate, or the lender might charge a higher origination fee. A larger down payment might mean lower upfront fees.

One of the most significant impacts of a mortgage’s LTV ratio is private mortgage insurance (PMI). While PMI does not affect the interest rate of your loan, it is an additional cost that you have to pay. Many lenders will make borrowers pay for PMI until their loan’s LTV reaches 80%. 

PMI can cost as much as 2% of the loan’s value each year. That can be a big cost to add to your loan, especially if you have a large mortgage.

LTV Ratio Rules for Different Mortgage Types

There are many different mortgage programs out there, each designed for a different type of homebuyer.

Different programs can have different rules and requirements when it comes to the LTV of a mortgage.

Conventional Mortgage

A conventional mortgage is one that meets requirements set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While these loans are not backed by a government entity, they must meet Fannie or Freddie’s minimum credit score and maximum loan amount thresholds, among other criteria. Otherwise, they can’t easily be repackaged and sold to investors — the fate of most mortgage loans after closing. 

Conventional mortgages have a maximum LTV of 97%. That means your down payment will need to equal at least 3% of the home’s value. If your LTV is higher than 80% to begin with, you’ll have to pay PMI until your LTV drops below 78%.

Refinancing Mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage lets you take your existing loan and replace it with a new one. This gives you a chance to adjust the interest rate or the length of your loan.

Most lenders aren’t willing to underwrite refinance loans above 80% LTV, but you might find lenders willing to make an exception.

FHA Loans

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are popular with homebuyers because they allow low down payments and give people with poor credit the opportunity to qualify.

If you’re applying for an FHA loan, the maximum LTV is 96.5%, meaning you’ll need a down payment of at least 3.5%. If the LTV value of your mortgage starts above 90%, you’ll have to pay PMI for the life of the loan. If your LTV is less than that amount, you can stop paying PMI after 11 years.

VA Loans

VA loans are secured by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They’re only available to veterans, service members, members of the National Guard or Reserves, or an eligible surviving spouse.

These loans offer many benefits, including the option to get a loan with an LTV as high as 100%. That means that you can borrow the full amount needed to purchase your home. The only upfront costs you need to pay are the fees associated with getting the loan.

USDA Loans

USDA loans, guaranteed by the US Department of Agriculture, are designed to help people purchase homes in designated rural areas. Borrowers also have to meet certain maximum income requirements.

USDA loans can have LTV ratios of 100%, letting borrowers finance the entire cost of their home. The LTV of the loan can exceed 100% if the borrower chooses to finance certain upfront fees involved in the loan.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-backed mortgage companies. Neither business offers loans directly to consumers. Instead, they buy and offer guarantees on loans offered by other lenders.

Together, the two companies control a major portion of the secondary market for mortgages, meaning that lenders look to offer loans that meet their requirements.

For a single-family home, Freddie Mac has a maximum LTV of 95% while Fannie Mae sets the maximum at 97% for fixed-rate loans and 95% for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs).

Limitations of LTV

There are multiple drawbacks to the use of LTV ratios in mortgage lending, both for borrowers and lenders.

One disadvantage is that LTV looks only at the mortgage and not the borrower’s other obligations. A mortgage with a low LTV might seem like it has very little risk to the lender. However, if the borrower has other debts, they may struggle to pay the loan despite its low LTV.

Another drawback of LTV is that it doesn’t consider the income of the borrower, which is an essential part of their ability to repay loans.

LTV ratios also depend on accurate assessments of a home’s value. Typically, homeowners or lenders order an appraisal as part of the mortgage process. However, if a home’s value increases over time, it can be difficult to know the home’s actual worth without ordering another appraisal.

That means that you might be paying PMI on a loan without realizing that your home’s value has increased enough to reduce the LTV to the point that PMI is no longer necessary. You can always order another appraisal, but you’ll have to bear the cost — typically around $500 out of pocket.

LTV vs. Combined LTV (CLTV)

When looking at a property, lenders often use combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratios alongside LTV ratios to assess risk.

While an LTV ratio compares the balance of a single loan to the value of a property, CLTV looks at all of the loans secured by a property and compares them to the home’s value. It’s a more complete way of assessing the risk of lending to someone based on the value of the collateral they’ve offered.

For example, if you have a mortgage and later get a home equity loan, CLTV compares the combined balance of both the initial mortgage and the home equity loan against your home’s appraised value.

LTV Ratio FAQs

Loan-to-value ratios aren’t easy to understand. If you still have questions, we have answers. 

What Is a Good LTV?

What qualifies as a good LTV ratio depends on the situation, the loan you’re applying for, and your goals.

An LTV over 100% is pretty universally seen as bad because you wouldn’t be able to repay your loan even if you sold the collateral asset.

In general, a lower LTV ratio is better than a high LTV ratio, especially if you want to avoid paying for PMI on top of your mortgage loan payment.

The 80% threshold is a particularly important breakpoint, especially for conventional loans. If you have an LTV of 80% or lower, you can avoid PMI on conventional mortgages, saving hundreds of dollars per month early in the life of your loan. At 80% LTV, you’ll qualify for a good interest rate, though dropping to 70% or even 60% could drop your rate further.  

How Can I Lower My LTV?

There are two ways to lower the LTV of your mortgage: pay down your mortgage balance or increase the value of the property.

Your loan’s LTV will naturally decrease as you make your mortgage payments. You can speed up the process by making additional payments to reduce your balance more quickly.

If you make improvements to your home, it can increase your home’s value. Real estate prices may also rise in your area, bringing your home’s value up too. However, to formally update the value of your home, you’ll need to pay a few hundred dollars to get it appraised again.

What Does a 50% LTV Ratio Mean?

A 50% LTV ratio means that you have 50% equity in your home. In other words, the total loan balance secured by the home — whether it’s a first mortgage, home equity line of credit (HELOC), home equity loan, or some combination of the three — is half the appraised value of the property.

As an example, your loan-to-value ratio is 50% if your home is worth $200,000 and you still owe $100,000 on your mortgage.

What Does a 75% LTV Ratio Mean?

A 75% LTV means that your loan balance is three-quarters of your home’s value. For example, if your home is worth $200,000 and your remaining mortgage balance is $150,000, your LTV is 75%.

Final Word

LTV ratio is one way that lenders look at the risk of making a loan based on the value of the collateral securing it. In the real estate world, LTV is a very important measure because it impacts things like private mortgage insurance and mortgage interest rates.

If you’re looking to avoid paying PMI or trying to get out of paying PMI on your loan, you’ll want to take steps to lower your mortgage’s LTV ratio. You can do this by investing in home improvements that increase the value of your home, then ordering a professional appraisal, or by paying extra principal each month to reduce your mortgage balance faster.

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

TJ is a Boston-based writer who focuses on credit cards, credit, and bank accounts. When he’s not writing about all things personal finance, he enjoys cooking, esports, soccer, hockey, and games of the video and board varieties.


Stock Market Today: Stocks Stumble as Inflation Remains Red-Hot

It was a choppy day for stocks as investors unpacked the latest consumer price index (CPI). Data released by the Labor Department this morning showed that prices consumers paid for goods and services in April rose at an annual rate of 8.3% – down from March’s 8.5% pace to mark the first drop in inflation in eight months. While encouraging at first glimpse, there were concerning signs deeper inside the report.

For instance, the decline in CPI last month reflected a drop in gas prices, which have since rebounded. Food prices remained elevated, while airfare and restaurant bills increased ahead of the key summer travel season. And core CPI, which excludes the volatile energy and food categories, rose 0.6% on a sequential basis – double what it was in March.

“While this report appears to mark the first that shows some moderation from the ever-rising pace of inflation since September of last year, one data point does not necessarily make a trend; and the rise in core CPI should lead to some consideration that the moderation in inflation will not be quick,” says Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at wealth management firm Glenmede. 

With prices already high, Pride said, it should be harder for the CPI to continue to rise at the same pace, especially with the Federal Reserve also hiking interest rates to combat higher prices. “However, it will likely take multiple reports for such a trend [of moderating inflation] to clearly establish itself,” he says.

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This sentiment is echoed by Mike Loewengart, managing director of Investment Strategy at E*Trade. “Today’s read is a stark reminder that the journey to pre-pandemic levels of inflation will be a long one,” Loewengart says. “Although inflation slowed from March, the market’s reaction suggests that record high prices continue to weigh heavy on investors psyches. And with inflation persistently hot, the Fed has more fodder for increased rate hikes, which the market doesn’t often welcome with open arms.”

After bouncing between gains and losses in early trading, markets took a decisive turn lower this afternoon. At the close, the Nasdaq Composite was down 3.2% at 11,364, the S&P 500 Index was off 1.7% at 3,935 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1.0% lower at 31,834. 

stock price chart 051122stock price chart 051122

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 retreated 2.5% to 1,718.
  • U.S. crude futures surged 6% to end at $105.71 per barrel.
  • Gold futures gained 0.7% to settle at $1,853.70 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin slid below the $30,000 for the first time since July 2021, down 5.9% at $29,477.50. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
  • Roblox (RBLX) was down as much as 10% in after-hours trading Tuesday after the video game developer reported a first-quarter loss of 27 cents per share, wider than the 21 cents per share Wall Street was expecting. The company’s revenue of $631.2 million also fell short of the consensus estimate, as did bookings of 54.1 million. Still, the metaverse stock managed to finish today up 3.4% after Chief Financial Officer Michael Guthrie said on the company’s earnings call that year-over-year growth may have bottomed in March, sooner than anticipated. 
  • Coinbase Global (COIN) shares plunged 26.4% on Wednesday after delivering a pretty disappointing quarterly report. Q1 revenues were off 27% year-over-year to $1.17 billion, widely missing analysts’ expectations for $1.50 billion. Meanwhile, the company swung to a $430 million loss after earning $388 million in the year-ago period. Monthly users were down 19% YoY, too. Also raising eyebrows in the cryptocurrency community was an update to the Risk Factors section in its Form 10-Q, warning that users could potentially lose access to their assets in the event Coinbase ever had to go through bankruptcy proceedings.

Inflation Remains a Top Concern for Investors

Inflation remains top of mind for investors. This is according to the latest Charles Schwab Trader Sentiment Survey, which reviews the outlooks, expectations and trading patterns of 845 Charles Schwab and TDAmeritrade clients. Inflation was the main concern for those surveyed in the report (20% of respondents), followed by geopolitics (15%) and recession/domestic politics (12% apiece). And nearly half of participants (45%) do not believe inflation will begin to ease until 2023. 

“Overall, in the second quarter, market sentiment among traders is unquestionably skewing bearish,” says Barry Metzger, head of trading and education at Schwab. But market participants do see investing opportunities, the report notes.

Among the sectors survey respondents are most bullish on at the moment are energy (70%) and utilities (54%). The industries they are most upbeat toward include cybersecurity (71%) and agriculture (70%). 

And 70% of those surveyed are interested in seeking out opportunities in defense stocks. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unsettled many parts of the stock market, it has also sparked an increase in global military spending, which could create a potential boon for the industry. Here, we’ve compiled a quick list of defense stocks that are poised to benefit from this spending build. The names featured include familiar names as well as some under-the-radar picks – and they all sport top ratings from Wall Street’s pros.


5 Stocks to Sell or Avoid Now

It’s been a horrific year so far for equities, and yet the market remains littered with stocks to sell in anticipation of even deeper losses.

True, one of the worst starts to a year in market history has surely created a smorgasbord of bargains. But it hardly follows that every stock is worth buying on the dip. 

Although being greedy when others are fearful is a generally fine first principle, remember that some stocks go down for good reasons. Such stocks to sell have plenty of room to decline even further.

Given that negative ratings on equities are exceedingly rare on Wall Street, it seemed like a good time to see which names analysts collectively single out as stocks to sell now. To that end, we used data from YCharts and S&P Global Market Intelligence to screen the Russell 1000 index for the stocks with the highest-conviction consensus Sell recommendations by industry analysts.

Here’s how the ratings system works: S&P surveys analysts’ stock calls and scores them on a five-point scale, where 1.0 equals a Strong Buy and 5.0 is a Strong Sell. Any score equal to or below 3.5 means that analysts, on average, rate the stock at Sell. The closer a score gets to 5.0, the stronger the consensus Sell recommendation.

After running the screen we were left with a very short list of names. (As we said above, Sell calls are rare.) And although they come from sectors as diverse as retail, insurance and utilities, they all have one thing in common: The Street expects them to underperform the broader market handily over the next 12 months or so.

Read on for more information about Wall Street’s top five stocks to sell now.

Share prices, price targets, analysts’ recommendations and other market data are as of March 9, courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence and YCharts, unless otherwise noted. Stocks are listed by conviction of analysts’ Sell calls, from weakest to strongest. 

1 of 5

Hawaiian Electric Industries

offshore electricity wind generatorsoffshore electricity wind generators
  • Market value: $4.6 billion
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 3.6 (Sell) 

Hawaiian Electric Industries (HE, $41.99) stock is holding up pretty well so far in 2022. It’s essentially flat for the year-to-date vs. a drop of 16% for the S&P 500. 

The Street, however, says that outperformance is set to come to an end in a big way.

The five analysts covering this utility stock collectively view it a hair on the negative side. The average price target of $41.60 implies that the stock is a little overvalued, and ratings lean to the sell side, at three Holds, one Sell and one Strong Sell, per S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The pros who have Hawaiian Electric among their stocks to sell believe the company is set for a fall. UBS Global Research analyst Daniel Ford rates the stock at Sell, and his price target of $36 gives HE stock implied downside of about 15% in the next 12 months or so.

That’s due in part to the company’s unique total exposure to its state. Hawaiian Electric Industries comprises three operating subsidiaries: Hawaiian Electric, an electric utility serving 95% of Hawaii; American Savings Bank, one of Hawaii’s largest financial institutions; and Pacific Current, an independent subsidiary that aims to advance Hawaii’s sustainability goals.

As such, HE was sort of a COVID-19 recovery play, but now much (if not all) of the upside has been baked in. The valuation would certainly appear to support that view. 

Indeed, shares trade at just under 20 times the Street’s 2022 earnings per share (EPS) estimate. Meanwhile, analysts forecast the company to generate modest average annual EPS growth of less than 8% over the next three to five years.

2 of 5

Southern Copper

Copper miningCopper mining
  • Market value: $45.1 billion
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 3.75 (Sell) 

Southern Copper (SCCO, $58.38) stock is off more than 5% for the year-to-date. Although that’s beating the broader market by a wide margin, the Street says its days of outperformance are coming to an end 

Shares in the copper miner, smelter and refiner get a consensus recommendation of Sell, with fairly strong conviction. Of the 16 analysts covering SCCO tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, eight rate it at Hold, four say Sell and four call it a Strong Sell.

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The bearishness stems primarily from political and social upheaval in Peru, where the company maintains a key presence. SCCO saw copper production tumble 10% in the most recent quarter after community protests forced it to halt work at its Cuajone mine. 

The mine has since returned to full capacity, but tensions remain high. Indeed, BofA Securities joined the pros listing Southern Copper among their stocks to sell earlier this year, downgrading shares to Underperform because of the potential for further unrest in Peru.

At the same time, SCCO is also struggling with lower ore grades and recoveries at other mines, notes CFRA Research analyst Matthew Miller, who rates shares at Hold. Those headwinds forced the company to cut its full-year production guidance by 3%, the analyst adds. 

The Street also worries about Southern Copper’s heavy dependence on the Cuajone mine, as it accounts for 40% of the company’s production in Peru.

3 of 5


A person using a copying machineA person using a copying machine
  • Market value: $2.7 billion
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 4.00 (Sell) 

Xerox (XRX, $17.24) stock has lost nearly a quarter of its value so far this year, but you won’t find any analysts imploring clients to buy the dip on this long-time market laggard. 

Indeed, shares in the digital printing company have carried a consensus recommendation of Sell for more than a year, and it’s not hard to see why. XRX underperformed the broader market by pretty much epic margins in five of the past seven years.

Apparently there’s little reason to see it snapping that streak anytime soon.

“Prior to the pandemic, Xerox had faced pressure from the rise of the paperless workplace and the corresponding decline in imaging equipment revenue,” writes Argus Research analyst Kristina Ruggeri (Hold). “The increase in work-from-home practices during the pandemic further accelerated this trend.”

At the same time, supply-chain disruptions are impeding the company’s efforts to manufacture higher-margin products, and inflation is taking a heavy toll on input costs.

“We expect these headwinds to weigh on sales and earnings well into 2022 and believe that it will take time for the company’s transformation efforts to gain traction,” Ruggeri says.

The majority of the seven analysts with opinions on XRX have it among their stocks to sell. Specifically, three call Xerox a Hold, one says Sell and three have it at Strong Sell.

4 of 5

Mercury General

Mercury General stock sell auto insurance Mercury General stock sell auto insurance
  • Market value: $2.8 billion
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 4.00 (Sell) 

Only one analyst covers shares in property and casualty insurer Mercury General (MCY, $49.80), which should give would-be investors pause in and of itself.

That the sole analyst tracking MCY slaps a rare Sell call on it makes this name only that much more unattractive.

Raymond James analyst C. Gregory Peters rates MCY at Underperform (the equivalent of Sell), citing a number of factors. For one thing, the insurance underwriter continues to be hurt by the supply-chain problems and inflationary pressures endemic to the auto and property markets.

In addition to the fact that consumers don’t need to buy insurance for cars they can’t find or afford, MCY is struggling with the California Department of Insurance’s rates policies.

“The CA Department of Insurance is notoriously anti-insurance industry and political, which we believe could make rate approvals even more problematic considering it is an election year,” Peters writes. “In a worst-case scenario, the CA DOI could delay rate increases by up to two years.”

MCY stock is beating the broader market year-to-date, but it’s still off about 6%. Raymond James’ Peters doesn’t have a price target for the stock, saying it’s not material at this point.

“Our Underperform rating is primarily a reflection of the longer-term structural challenges associated with California,” he says.

5 of 5


A storefront of video game retailer GameStop (GME)A storefront of video game retailer GameStop (GME)
  • Market value: $7.5 billion
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 4.33 (Sell) 

The godfather of meme stocks is set for a massive fall, at least as far as Wall Street pros are concerned. And that’s after falling by more than a third for the year-to-date already.

Analysts’ average target price of $26.50 gives shares in GameStop (GME, $98.79) implied downside of 73% in the next 12 months or so. Their consensus recommendation, needless to say, stands at Sell.

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To be fair, we’re talking about a miniscule sample size of recommendations here. Only three analysts bother issuing opinions on GME anymore. Of those who remain, one rates the stock at Hold and two call it a Strong Sell, per S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Once upon a time – before shares in the brick-and-mortar video game retailer became a plaything for social media day traders – as many as 10 analysts covered GME. But once the stock’s price action became divorced from reality – it gained 1,740% over the course of a few weeks at one point in early 2021 – fundamental research became pointless. 

That schism remains a real problem for analysts who refuse to drop coverage of the name.

“The share price continues to trade at levels that are completely disconnected from the fundamentals of the business due to ongoing support from certain retail investors,” writes Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. “As a result, we continue to believe that an Underperform rating [the equivalent of Sell] is warranted.”


Best Jobs for Military Spouses and Where to Find Them

All marriages require work and dedication, but being a military spouse to an active-duty member of the armed forces involves extra commitment and flexibility.
You don’t need to be a CPA to be a bookkeeper. You don’t even need to be in the same town as your clients!
If writing isn’t your specialty, there is always a need for freelance graphic designers, video editors, those who know computer coding, and executive assistants. These nine freelance websites will help you start connecting with clients.
Expect to deliver transcription assignments within a few days — or even hours — of receiving them.
There are few costs in setting up a bookkeeping business, and you can earn an hour in this specialty.

Opportunity Abounds With Remote Work

Fast, accurate typists can make to per hour as transcriptionists. Transcriptionists are needed especially in the legal and medical worlds, where lawyers and doctors will often verbalize client and patient notes and then rely on a transcriptionist to convert those audio clips into written notes.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work is more popular now than ever.
Private tutors can expect to earn to per hour.
Some fields are especially well-suited for military spouses and their often-changing life circumstances. Check out these promising fields.

Resources for Military Spouses on the Job Hunt

Some virtual assistant jobs can begin to mix with other tasks such as creating editorial or social media calendars, having a hand in planning company events, or onboarding other employees.

  • USA JOBS: This website that posts open jobs in the federal government also has an initiative designed to help spouses of active-duty military members find a government job. A job is not guaranteed, but the program allows you to apply in a “non-competitive” environment and then have your resume reviewed to see if you may be a good fit for any open federal government roles.
  • National Labor Exchange: The NLX has an entire search engine dedicated to finding jobs that are not tied to a location and are work-from-home-friendly.
  • Hiring Our Heroes: The organization “connects the military community with American businesses to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce.” You can leverage Hiring Our Heroes to attend in-person and virtual hiring events, fellowships that allow you to work in the civilian workforce, and networking sessions to meet other military spouses.
  • USO Pathfinder Transition Program: This program serves to help active duty military members, veterans, and military spouses find and keep careers that are rewarding to them. The Program provides professional development and job counseling to help individuals craft an action plan to find a job or career path they love.
  • Military One Source: Military One Source has myriad resources for military spouses considering a job or looking for a new one. Whether you want to search for a job, improve your resume or pursue further education, Military One Source has guidance on how to reach your goals.
  • VirtForce: VirtForce is an online network dedicated to helping military spouses find sustainable telecommuting and remote work. VirtForce has a military spouse community of more than 60,000 spouses, providing them with free training and networking to help land and keep a job.
  • Career Pursuit: This not-for-profit magazine, published annually, provides consolidated career advice to the military spouse community. Career Pursuit has grown so much in popularity it is now backed by the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
  • LockHeed Martin: The technology company that works closely with the U.S. government, is dedicated to helping military spouses explore a variety of career paths. LockHeed Martin provides a military spouse fellowship. The fellowship is similar to an internship and allows military spouses to get hands-on training and experience in the civilian professional world. LockHeed Martin provides training and guidance to spouses in the fellowship, as well.
  • USAA: The military-focused insurance provider, has its own military spouse employment program. You can search by location, level of education and years of experience.
A woman works from home.
Getty Images

Career Paths for Military Spouses

You can proofread transcripts, like court proceedings or medical dictation, blogs, journals and book manuscripts. Using just an iPad, you could make about per hour no matter where in the country (or world) you are located.

1. Freelancing or Contract Work

From kids to adults, tutoring services are always in demand.
Freelancing covers a multitude of fields, but freelance writing is an especially popular pursuit.
Virtual assistants are generally contractors and may work on a fixed-term schedule of employment. This can work well with any predicted moves or hectic times in your life, too.

2. Virtual Assistant

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-from-Home jobs portal is updated five days a week with new remote opportunities, many in customer service positions. Bookmark it and check it often!
If you can catch a typo quicker than anyone, consider working as a proofreader.
Thanks to this trend, military spouses have a wealth of job opportunities to pursue without needing to explain an upcoming move or inability to come into an office.
Even if a job description doesn’t explicitly state it is remote-friendly, it is still worth applying to. You may find via conversations with the recruiter or hiring manager that they will consider remote applicants who are well-suited for a role.

3. Transcribing

Everyone needs their hair cut eventually, right? No matter where your base is, folks will need a haircut. Although you will need some basic training in order to be able to cut hair well, hair stylists make between ,000 – ,000 per year before tips (which can add up to 20% on top of your base salary).
The frequent moves, specificity of military culture and sometimes remote living areas all contribute to the difficulties a military spouse may face when looking to build their career.

4. Hairstyling

Military families are required to relocate, every few years or even more than once in a year, and the moves can sometimes be sudden and unpredictable. This lifestyle can make it tough to hold down consistent jobs as a military spouse, 88% of whom are female.

5. Proofreading

Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on military topics, lifestyle and wellness. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Here is a guide to finding the best jobs for military spouses.

6. Customer Service

Thousands of call center jobs in retail, health care, airlines and many more fields shifted to remote work during the pandemic.
Virtual assistants provide organizational help all via online applications. You may be asked to manage someone’s meeting schedule and emails or coordinate when an office is due to reorder supplies.

7. Tutor

Freelancing can be an excellent path for military spouses because it is often remote and flexible schedule-wise. As a freelancer, you are self-employed, but may be hired on as a temporary contractor for a company to help them complete a project or to backfill a position for a specific duration of time.
You don’t have to start from scratch searching for a suitable job. Here are free career resources available for military spouses.

8. Social Media Management

Work with home-schooled students on subjects their parents aren’t confident teaching; offer after-school sessions in students’ homes or at the library; or work with a tutoring company to host SAT prep classes.

9. Bookkeeping

Small business owners know they need to have a social media presence, but many don’t have the time or know-how. If you’re comfortable and knowledgeable about the most popular platforms, you could manage social media accounts for small businesses.
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In fact, many employers view having a widespread workforce as a strength, bringing geographic diversity and tapping talent pools nationwide. <!–


Becoming a virtual assistant is a fantastic way to earn at least K per year (and as much as in the six-digits) from the comfort of home — wherever that may be.

How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim (After a Loss)

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Additional Resources

If you have a mortgage, it’s very likely you also have an active homeowners insurance policy. Virtually all mortgage lenders require borrowers to carry home insurance, which helps protect the value of their investment — and yours.

You might not think much about your policy. The typical homeowner goes many years without filing a home insurance claim and some never have to. But it’s nice to know your policy is there when disaster strikes.

But insurance companies don’t just send you money when something goes wrong. That’s why it’s important to know what you should expect if and when the time comes to file a claim.

How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim

Homeowners file home insurance claims for all sorts of reasons, from physical damage caused by storms or fires to monetary losses caused by theft or burglary to injuries sustained by guests on the premises. 

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The details of the claims process depend on what happened along with factors specific to the property insurance company. But if you follow this step-by-step guide, you can easily file and manage a homeowners insurance claim. 

1. File a Police Report (if Applicable)

If you have reason to believe you’re the victim of a crime, file a police report as soon as you become aware of it. Common crimes involving residential property include:

  • Vandalism
  • Arson
  • Burglaries and break-ins
  • Home invasions
  • Theft of personal property

To file the report, call your local police department’s nonemergency phone number or visit its website and look for an option to report a crime online. Only if the crime is still in progress or you believe there’s an ongoing threat to your safety should you call 911.

You must provide official identification, such as a driver’s license number, and may be required to visit the police station in person. Expect to meet a police officer or detective at your home as well, as they’ll need to document the damage. Get the name and badge number of every investigator on the case — the insurance company might need this information later.

Don’t clean anything until they tell you it’s OK to do so. And don’t be surprised if it takes them a few days to get to you, especially if you live in an area where property crime is relatively common.  

Don’t file a police report if your home sustained damage in a natural disaster such as a storm, wildfire, or flood. You should only involve the police if you’re the victim of a person or group of people acting maliciously or negligently.

2. Contact the Insurance Company

Next, contact the insurance company or your insurance agent to begin the claims process. 

Most insurance companies make it easy to file straightforward claims online. Expect to work through a claims representative or your insurance agent for more complicated or high-value claims. 

If you’ve set up an online account with your insurance company, log in and look for a Claims tab or button. It should point you in the right direction — either to the digital forms you’ll need to complete or submit or to a phone number you can call to start the process.

During your initial conversation with the insurance company representative, ask:

  • Whether the claim is likely to be covered by your policy based on your description
  • For a rough estimate of the claim value
  • By when you must file the claim
  • What they need from you to process the claim, including any repair cost estimates

3. Document the Damage

If you filed a police report, ask your contact at the police department if you can use the photos and notes they took at your property. 

If you didn’t file a police report or you have trouble getting photos and detailed notes from the department, do the following:

  • Take as many photos as possible of the damage
  • Make a detailed home inventory of damaged, destroyed, or missing items
  • Write up a detailed summary of what happened to the best of your recollection

Even after documenting the damage, don’t clean anything up or make any cosmetic repairs until an insurance company representative visits the property or tells you it’s OK to tidy up. Otherwise, they might not get a complete picture of the damage and might lowball your payout.

4. Make Temporary Repairs Only if Absolutely Necessary

There are two exceptions to the don’t-clean-up rule. If either applies, make temporary repairs as soon as you’ve finished documenting the damage.

First, if the property is unsafe due to structural damage or other hazards, hire an engineer to recommend repairs and a building contractor to execute them. You might need to relocate temporarily to a hotel or short-term rental until they complete the repairs.

Second, if not repairing the damage would make it worse, do whatever’s necessary to stabilize things. For example, if your roof is open because a tree limb crashed through it, remove the limb and replace that section of the roof before the next rainstorm — or at least fit a tarp over the hole so it doesn’t leak. Any amount of water coming into your home’s living area will cause further damage and increase your total repair costs.

Keep all invoices and receipts associated with these repairs, even if you do the work yourself. You can include them with your claim and may qualify for reimbursement.

5. Submit the Claim

Next, complete your insurance claim. Fill out a proof-of-loss form — the claim form — and provide:

  • Details about what caused the loss
  • The part or parts of your home damaged if it’s not a total loss
  • An inventory of the personal property damaged, destroyed, or stolen
  • The estimated value of the loss or damage
  • The police report if you have one
  • Photos or video of the damage
  • Receipts for costs incurred before the company approved your claim, including for emergency repairs and additional living expenses

If the claim has a liability component — say, a guest or worker sustained a serious injury on the property — include additional documentation like:

  • Any medical records related to the claim, such as itemized medical bills 
  • Any legal records or correspondence related to the claim, such as letters from attorneys representing people injured on the property
  • Contact information for third parties involved in the claim, such as health care providers and lawyers

Submit everything through your insurance company’s online claims portal, by fax, or by mail. If you still owe money on your mortgage, notify your mortgage servicing company of the claim. They might want to hold the payout in escrow while your home is being repaired and could be entitled to keep a portion of it. 

6. Prepare for the Insurance Adjuster Visit

Most home insurance claims require a site visit by an insurance claims adjuster. That’s the person who confirms the damage or loss occurred, determines how extensive it is, comes up with a more precise estimate of the value, and confirms it’s covered by your policy.

If the damage is confined to a single part of the home or property and is clearly visible from the outside, you might not need to be around when the adjuster arrives. But if they need to enter your home or inspect less obvious signs of damage, you must be on-site. They might ask you to be there anyway, as there’s a good chance they’ll want to interview you in person.

Before the adjuster arrives, do the following:

  • Write your story in note form to ensure you have clear, truthful answers during the interview
  • Organize photos and videos of the damage in case the adjuster misses anything 
  • Make notes of specific damaged items or parts of the home you definitely want the adjuster to see
  • Write down any questions you have about the process so you can ask them in person

7. Get Repair Estimates

Once the adjuster confirms the damage is covered and gives you an estimate of its value, get repair estimates from local contractors. Look for contractors that:

  • Are licensed in your home state for the type of work you need done
  • Are adequately bonded and insured — ask the contractor for their insurance company’s name and call them to ensure the contractor has a paid-up policy 
  • Accept payments from home insurance companies, as your insurer might insist on paying part of the settlement directly to the contractor
  • Have good reviews from previous clients and few or no complaints with customer protection organizations like the Better Business Bureau

Get at least three quotes for each repair job. Don’t automatically go with the lowest estimate — you want the job to get done right the first time. However, ensure the total value of all repair estimates is comfortably below the estimated settlement amount your adjuster gave you. If the cost of the job increases due to hidden damage or higher-than-expected costs for labor or materials, you could end up spending more than you get from your insurer.

8. Track the Claim & Follow Up

After submitting the claim, use your insurance company’s online claim tracking tool to monitor its progress. You should be able to access this tool through your online account. If you don’t have one, now is a good time to set one up. 

Follow up with the claims department if you don’t see any progress on your claim for several weeks. Most states require insurers to approve or deny claims within a certain period after filing, typically 30 to 40 days.

Respond promptly if the insurance company contacts you by phone, email, or snail mail. They might need more information to process your claim, and failing to respond could delay processing or even result in a denial.

9. Review the Settlement Offer

If your home insurance claim is approved, your insurance company will present you with a settlement offer. This is a proposed payout based on the assessed value of the damage and the cost of repairs necessary to bring the property back to its previous condition.

If you feel the first settlement offer is fair, tell the insurance company you accept it and prepare to receive the payout. If you believe the offer is too low, you can contest it. 

Your chances of getting a higher offer will be much better if you can provide repair estimates from licensed contractors and show that the insurer’s offer isn’t enough to cover the rebuilding costs.

If the insurer continues to lowball your settlement offer, you can hire a public adjuster. This is an independent insurance adjuster whose job is getting you the best possible settlement, not saving the insurance company money. They negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and advocate for a higher payout.

But a public adjuster doesn’t come cheap. They’ll most likely charge a percentage of the total insurance payout — typically between 15% and 30%, with the proportion declining as claim value increases. For bigger claims where the insurance company’s initial offer was insultingly low, you’ll probably recover this cost and then some. For smaller claims, hiring a public adjuster might not be worth it.

10. Receive the Payout & Make Repairs

Once you’ve accepted the settlement offer, figure out how the insurance company plans to pay it.

For simple claims that involve straightforward repairs, expect the insurance company to cut you a check or execute an electronic transfer for the full balance of the payout. It’s your responsibility to put that money toward repairs and other expenses stemming from the incident.

If your claim is larger or requires complicated repairs, you won’t receive a lump sum for the full payout. 

If you paid for temporary repairs or paid out of pocket to live somewhere else because your house was unsafe, expect a direct payment for part of the claim value. The insurer might even issue this payment before your claim is officially approved.

If you still have a mortgage, the lender is entitled to a portion of your payout. Expect them to hold their portion in an escrow account you or the repair contractor can draw on to pay for repairs as needed. If you live in a condo or co-op, your community manager or homeowners’ association may do the same.

Alternatively, your lender or homeowners association may simply review and approve the proposed settlement amount, clearing the insurance company to send it to you. If that’s the case, you won’t need to go through an escrow account.

The insurer should also send you a portion of the payout directly. You can use it to cover repair costs without going through the escrow account or getting lender approval.

Ensure you understand how the insurer plans to divide your payout and when you can expect each installment. You don’t want contractors to add late payment fees to your already-hefty repair bills or place a lien on your house because you didn’t have enough money to pay them.

What to Do If Your Homeowners Insurance Claim Is Denied

What happens if the insurance company denies your claim? You have options. 

Start by reviewing your claim and insurance policy. It’s possible you missed an exclusion in your policy that clearly rules out the type of claim you made. If that’s the case, the denial is probably legitimate, and you might not have recourse.

If your insurer sent a letter or digital message explaining why it denied your claim, read it carefully. The message should explain the company’s reasoning in plain English and offer clues as to what you can do to get the company to reconsider. If you’re unclear on anything in this letter, call the insurance company’s claims department and ask them to review your file.

If your homeowners insurance policy covers the issue that prompted the claim, it’s possible the insurer denied it because you didn’t provide clear evidence of damage or loss. More or better photos and videos of the damage or more supporting documentation related to a liability claim might be enough to get the insurer to reconsider.

Home Insurance Claim FAQs

If you still have questions about filing a home insurance claim and working through the home insurance claims process, this quick list of frequently asked questions can help.

How Long Does the Home Insurance Claims Process Take?

It depends on how complicated the claim is. Many states require home insurance companies to approve or deny claims within a certain period, often 30 to 60 days. Simple claims can take just a few days to approve.

Insurers typically make the first payment within 30 to 60 days of approving a claim. Depending on the amount of repair work required, further payments might not come for weeks or months. The last payment for a total rebuild might not come for a year or two.

Does Home Insurance Cover Temporary Living Expenses?

Yes, provided your policy specifically says they are. Look for references to “loss-of-use coverage” or “Coverage D,” depending on the insurer. 

Most policies include loss of use coverage. If you’re unsure your policy covers temporary living expenses, review your policy documents or call your insurance company to confirm. 

If you don’t have it yet and don’t want to pay out of pocket for temporary housing, consider adding it before you actually need it. Doing so will raise your premiums a bit, but you’ll be protected if your house becomes uninhabitable for a time. 

Will Filing a Claim Affect My Home Insurance Rate?

Probably. It’s possible your policy allows you a mulligan — that is, it ignores the first claim on the policy when recalculating your rates. Check your policy documents to see if you’re so fortunate.

Otherwise, expect your premium to increase after you file a claim. How much depends on the type of claim you file and your previous claims history.

Insurers are more forgiving of one-off claims and weather-related claims homeowners can’t control. They’re less forgiving of claims related to burglary, theft, and property damage caused by guests. 

They especially frown on liability claims arising from unsafe conditions at your property. In fact, it’s common for insurers to drop homeowners who file liability claims. And your premiums may increase by more for subsequent claims than for the first one made on your policy.

Can I Keep Any Leftover Payout Funds After I Make Repairs?

Often, yes. But some caveats apply:

  • Restrictions Written Into the Policy. Many home insurance policies don’t expressly prohibit homeowners from keeping unused settlement funds. But some do. If yours does, you must return the balance to the insurer once an inspector approves the repairs.
  • Contingent on Inspection. For bigger jobs, expect an adjuster to verify the work is proper and complete. If they suspect you skimped so you could pocket the payout, they may require you to do more work or simply ask for the unused funds back.
  • Funds Withheld or Held in Escrow. You’re not entitled to keep any portion of the payout held in escrow by your lender or withheld by the insurance company pending completion of repair work. If you don’t end up needing those funds, don’t expect to see them.

Final Word

Filing a home insurance claim takes time and can cause considerable frustration. However, it’s often the best way to reduce the financial burden of damage or losses caused by storms, burglars, or unruly guests. If you don’t have an umbrella insurance policy, a home insurance claim might be your best — and perhaps only — protection from a potentially ruinous lawsuit.

However, you shouldn’t file a home insurance claim lightly. Doing so is likely to raise your premiums. Depending on the type of claim, your insurer might even choose not to renew coverage. That could force you to scramble to find backup coverage, likely at a higher cost than before.

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.


What Is a Trust Fund – How It Works, Types & How to Set One Up

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When most people hear “trust fund,” they think of wealthy people living in fancy estates using them to pass immense amounts of wealth to their heirs. But that isn’t always the case.

A trust fund is simply a legal entity that holds assets of value like property or stocks and bonds on someone else’s behalf (in trust). They’re useful for numerous reasons, including estate planning, protecting assets, avoiding complications during probate, and minimizing taxes.

Trust funds are helpful for estates of varying sizes. But before you set one up, it’s best to understand what it is and what it can and can’t do.

What Is a Trust Fund?

A trust fund is a legal entity that can hold valuable assets on behalf of an individual person, group, or organization. There are many different types of trust fund, each designed to achieve a different goal.

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Trusts give the person establishing them more control over their estate than a will does. They can also provide legal protections or tax benefits that reduce the taxes the person establishing the trust or its beneficiaries may owe.

How a Trust Fund Works

Establishing a trust fund requires three parties:

  1. The Grantor. The person who establishes the trust and places assets into that trust is the grantor. They determine the beneficiaries and any rules or stipulations they wish to put in place, such as only allowing the beneficiary to use the money to pay for college.
  2. The Beneficiary. The person, people, or organization that benefits from the trust is the beneficiary. They don’t own the assets but will benefit from them, often by receiving access at some point or getting monetary distributions from the trust.
  3. The Trustee. The person or organization responsible for managing the trust and its assets is the trustee. They must act as a fiduciary for the beneficiary and follow the rules or stipulations laid out in the trust documents.

To establish a trust, the grantor typically works with a lawyer to draw up a document outlining the terms of the trust, the beneficiaries, the trustee, and the details of how the trust will work. 

For example, a grandparent might establish a trust for their grandchildren, name their children as trustees, and stipulate that they must use the money for their grandchildren’s college education.

One perk for beneficiaries is that they do not pay taxes on their distributions. Instead, the IRS taxes the trust directly.

Trusts are a popular estate planning tool because they’re more binding than something like a will. In the example, the grandchildren must use the trust fund to pay for college costs. If the grandparent instead distributed that money in a will simply noting they want it to go toward college costs, the grandchildren don’t have the same legal obligations to use it for that. 

Types of Trust Funds

One of the benefits of trusts is their flexibility. You can establish one for almost any purpose. And there are many types of trust funds available to suit various needs. 

Living Trusts

Living trusts are trusts that you create while you’re alive. The benefit of a revocable trust is that they let the assets in the trust avoid probate, the process by which the executor of the estate determines how to distribute the property left behind. Probate can be a lengthy process, which living trusts let families avoid.

They come in two primary forms: revocable and irrevocable.

A revocable trust gives the grantor more power over the trust’s assets. The grantor can amend the trust documents at any time after creating a revocable trust, changing the terms of the trust, or naming different beneficiaries. 

Once the grantor dies, a revocable trust becomes an irrevocable trust and cannot be altered.

In contrast, irrevocable trusts are more permanent. Once the grantor establishes an irrevocable trust, they cannot make changes to it or name different beneficiaries without the consent of the current beneficiaries.

An irrevocable trust has additional tax benefits for the grantor. Because they can’t make changes or remove assets after forming the trust, any assets placed in the trust are no longer the grantor’s property.

That means the grantor can take advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion by making gifts to an irrevocable trust.

Testamentary Trust

You can also create a testamentary trust through your last will and testament. Essentially, it instructs the executor to create the trust after your death.

While that means testamentary trusts don’t provide all the benefits of avoiding probate you could get from a living trust, they still carry other benefits. For example, it allows the decedent to establish another kind of trust, like an educational trust, for an heir. It also lets them place more restrictions on how their heirs use the money left behind.

Educational Trust

An educational trust simply specifies the beneficiary must use the assets for educational purposes. It can be revocable or irrevocable.

Depending on the grantor’s wishes, the trust can specify where the beneficiary has to study, what subjects they need to study, how frequently it will make distributions, and what types of expenses it will cover.

For example, it could state that it will only cover the beneficiary’s tuition costs or make a lump-sum distribution each year the beneficiary is in school and leave it to the beneficiary to decide how best to spend the money for education.

Of course, these restrictions could have consequences. If the beneficiary doesn’t go to college or leaves money in the trust once they leave school, you need a plan for what to do with it.

Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust is a trust designed to help care for someone who is disabled or otherwise requires accommodations without disqualifying them from receiving government assistance.

Many government assistance programs require aid recipients to have a limited income or limited assets. If their income rises or they receive a large gift, it can stop them from receiving essential government aid.

A special needs trust can hold assets on behalf of someone receiving government care and ensure the trustee uses those assets to help the beneficiary.

The rules for these trusts can vary from state to state, but they must typically be irrevocable and give the trustee significant control over how to use or distribute the assets.

Charitable Remainder Trust

Charitable remainder trusts allow the grantor to benefit from charitable contribution tax deductions while still receiving income from their assets. In exchange, the funds remaining in the trust go to a charity once the grantor dies.

For example, Brianna could establish a charitable trust and name a local museum as the charity of her choice. If she places $100,000 in the trust, the trust might give her (or another named beneficiary) an annual payment of $5,000 each year until she dies.

When Brianna establishes the trust, she receives a tax benefit for making a charitable contribution to the museum. However, she does have to pay taxes on the distributions she receives.

Once Brianna dies, whatever money she left in the trust goes to the museum.

Charitable remainder trusts can be highly complex when it comes to taxes, so it’s essential to work with a tax professional when considering whether one is right for you.

Common Collective Trust Fund

A common collective trust fund is a trust fund managed by a bank or trust company. It combines assets for multiple investors, often pooling assets from things like profit-sharing, pension, and employee stock bonus plans. 

These funds are very similar to mutual funds and are commonly held in employer retirement plans.

Perpetual Trust Fund (Dynasty Trust)

A perpetual trust fund, also called a dynasty trust, is a trust that aims to pass wealth to future generations while avoiding taxes like the estate tax, gift tax, or generation-skipping transfer tax. A properly designed dynasty trust can last for many generations, creating a family dynasty of wealth.

These trusts usually include clauses to change their beneficiaries over time. For example, it might start benefiting the grantor’s children, then change to benefit the grantor’s grandchildren once they reach a certain age or all of the grantor’s children die.

Because the goal of dynasty trusts is to last for a long time or even forever, the grantors of these trusts typically name a financial institution or bank the trustee.

Assets in the trust aren’t the property of any of the beneficiaries, so they can avoid taxes like capital gains and estate taxes. However, they do have to pay income tax on distributions.

Spendthrift Trust

A spendthrift trust is one designed to protect the beneficiary from creditors and their own poor financial habits. These trusts typically give the trustee more control over the assets in the fund.

The effect is that the beneficiary can’t sell the trust’s assets or access significant amounts at once to squander. But neither can creditors if the beneficiary racks up considerable debt.

Social Security Trust Fund

The Social Security Trust Fund is the trust fund the Social Security Administration uses to hold all the assets used to pay benefits like Social Security and disability. It’s not a trust you can create, but almost every American pays into it and hopes to benefit from it someday, so it’s important to know how it works.

The trust fund owns interest-bearing government securities, such as bonds, and gets its funds from payroll tax deductions paid by both employees and employers.

When the benefits paid out by Social Security exceed the income received from payroll taxes, money from the trust fund pays those benefits. When payroll taxes exceed benefits paid, the additional revenue goes into the trust.

As of the Social Security Administration’s 2021 report, the Social Security Trust fund held $2.908 trillion in assets.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Trust Funds

Trusts have many tax benefits and can give the person establishing the trust more control over how the beneficiary ultimately uses their money. However, they’re not perfect for every situation.

Advantages of Trust Funds

Trusts can give their grantors control over their hard-earned money in life and in death, ensuring more of it goes to their beneficiaries than the government. A trust’s many benefits include: 

  1. Grantor Control. The person establishing the trust can set rules for how beneficiaries should use the funds in the trust, and the beneficiary must follow those wishes, even after the grantor dies.
  2. Tax Incentives. Various types of trusts can help the grantor and beneficiary avoid or reduce taxes like capital gains and estate taxes.
  3. Probate Avoidance. When someone dies, their estate goes through probate, a legal process by which the state or executor distributes assets, whether or not they have a last will and testament. Assets in a trust can skip this process, meaning loved ones can access the assets sooner. It also reduces the chance of the grantor’s wishes being ignored.
  4. Privacy. The probate process is public, which means the estate and wishes of someone who dies become public record. Trusts offer a more private option.

Disadvantages of Trust Funds

Though there are advantages to trusts, they aren’t right for everyone. Carefully consider these disadvantages before setting one up.

  1. Limited Benefit for Small Estates. One of the reasons to establish a trust is to avoid taxes. But smaller estates are unlikely to face taxes, anyway. For 2022, the estate tax exclusion is $12.6 million federally, though some states have lower limits. For example, Massachusetts and Oregon have the lowest exclusions as of this writing, taxing estates that exceed $1 million.
  2. Cost. Setting up a trust means working with expensive professionals like lawyers and tax professionals. The cost may exceed the benefit for some.
  3. Finding a Trustee. Establishing a trust means finding a trustee to manage it. You either have to ask a friend or relative to take on this task, which might be a large one depending on the trust’s assets, or pay a professional to handle the work.
  4. Loss of Control. While trusts give the grantor more control in some ways, setting up an irrevocable trust means losing control in others. Once you establish an irrevocable trust, you can’t make changes, which means losing some level of control over your assets.

How to Set Up a Trust Fund

Setting up a trust fund is a multistep process. If you’re looking to create a simple trust, you could finish in a few weeks. If you want to construct a more complicated one with many restrictions and beneficiaries and a large number of assets, you should expect a monthslong process. But the steps you take are the same either way.

1. Figure Out the Goals of Your Trust

The first step to set up a trust fund is to figure out your goals for establishing the trust.

Do you want to use the trust to have more control over how your beneficiaries use your assets after your death? Is avoiding taxes your primary goal? Do you want a way to donate money to charity but retain a stream of income for retirement? 

You can use a trust to accomplish each of these goals, but each requires a different type of trust.

2. Find a Trust Professional

Once you know your goals, you’re ready to sit down with a professional. Most major financial institutions offer fee-based trust services if you have sufficient assets with them. For example, Fidelity manages trusts of $1 million or more. Fees start at 0.45% of the invested assets, but the percentage decreases as you add funds. You can work with the professional to hammer out details.

3. Choose a Trustee

You also have to determine who the trustee and the beneficiary will be. For some types of trusts, such as a dynasty trust, you need a professional trustee, like a bank or financial institution. Other trusts, like educational trusts or spendthrift trusts, more naturally lend themselves to having a family member serve as trustee.

4. Make the Trust Official

Once you’ve worked out the details, your estate planning attorney, the trustee, and any financial advisors will help draft the trust documents. You just have to sign on the dotted line to make it official. 

5. Fund the Trust

Once you’ve signed the paperwork, you’re ready to start funding the trust. You can put pretty much any asset of value into the trust, including cash, real estate, and stocks.

6. Register the Trust

You must register your trust with the IRS so it can get a taxpayer identification number and file tax returns. If you’re working closely with a financial institution to manage the trust, your trustee can help. Otherwise, the tax professional, lawyer, or brokerage company holding the trust’s assets can help register it.

Trust Fund FAQs

Trusts are complicated, and there are many ways to set them up. But first, it’s essential to understand how they work and how you can use them to accomplish your financial goals.

What’s the Difference Between a Trust & a Trust Fund?

People often use the terms trust and trust fund interchangeably, but they’re slightly different things.

A trust fund is the legal entity that contains assets or property for the benefit of someone else. A trust is a legal document outlining the rules of who the trust fund benefits and how the beneficiary can use assets in a trust fund.

How Is a Trust Fund Handled in Probate?

One of the most popular reasons to set up a trust is to avoid the probate process, which can be lengthy and prevent your loved ones from accessing the money you leave behind when you die.

Any assets in a trust avoid probate court and can skip the normal legal process.

Who Should I Make My Trustee?

Naming your trustee can be difficult because you’re trusting that person with managing your assets and following the wishes you outlined in the trust. 

Some types of trusts naturally lend themselves to making a family member the trustee. For example, if you establish a trust to benefit your grandchild, it makes sense to name their parents (your own child) as the trustee.

Longer-term trusts may require a financial institution or a long-lasting entity to serve as the trustee. But that can mean paying management fees.

How Does a Trust Fund Affect Estate Taxes?

You can use a trust fund to reduce or avoid estate taxes to some degree. The IRS considers money placed in an irrevocable trust a gift in the year you place it in the trust.

Each year, taxpayers may make gifts up to a certain amount ($16,000 in 2022) without it counting against their lifetime gift limit. That means the grantor of a trust can add $16,000 to the fund each year and pay no taxes on that amount, reducing their potential estate tax liability.

What Is a Trust Fund Baby?

A trust fund baby is a pejorative term used to describe a young person whose parents or family established a trust fund for them. This trust provides them with a sufficient income to live comfortably without having to work or find significantly gainful employment.

The common image of a trust fund baby is that of a privileged young adult coasting their way through life with little to no responsibilities.

These situations certainly exist, but the term doesn’t accurately describe most people benefiting from trust funds. Trust funds are simply a legal tool people can use to protect their assets and ensure their beneficiaries follow their wishes. 

Many middle-class families use trust funds for reasons as simple as avoiding probate or keeping assets safe from creditors, not to let their children live a life of luxury without having to work.

Final Word

Trust funds are a powerful legal tool you can use for reasons ranging from estate planning and tax avoidance to caring for a loved one. Though they may have a negative reputation as a toll available only to the wealthy, many groups can benefit from using them.

If you’re thinking about setting up a trust fund, it’s also a good opportunity to think about taking inventory of your finances and ensuring everything is in order. You might also consider talking to an estate planning attorney to draft a will if you don’t already have one. Being prepared only benefits your family in the long run.

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TJ is a Boston-based writer who focuses on credit cards, credit, and bank accounts. When he’s not writing about all things personal finance, he enjoys cooking, esports, soccer, hockey, and games of the video and board varieties.