7 Ways to Get Your FICO Credit Score for Free

Man checking his credit score
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A good credit score is the key that unlocks the door to better loan terms, an improved chance of getting a rental apartment and even the odds of landing a job.

So, this three-digit number packs a punch. Knowing the score reveals whether you need to work to improve your credit score.

In the past, you’d have to pay to see your credit score. But that has changed. Today, you can get a free score from any of the following sources.

1. Discover

Anyone can access their credit score for free through the Discover Free Credit Scorecard program.

You don’t have to be a Discover customer to sign up for the service. It not only provides your credit score, but also will notify you of new accounts on your Experian credit report and send an alert if your Social Security number is found on the dark web.

2. Credit cards

Through the FICO Score Open Access program, FICO works with more than 200 financial institutions to provide their partners’ customers with free access to credit scores. The following credit card issuers are among those participating in the program:

  • Citi
  • Barclaycard
  • HSBC

3. Lenders

If you have student loans, an auto loan or a mortgage, you may also be able to get a free FICO score through your lender. Here are a few of the loan companies that have partnered with the FICO Score Open Access program:

  • Sallie Mae
  • Payoff
  • Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance

4. Banks and credit unions

Dozens of banks and credit unions across the country also offer access to free FICO scores through FICO Open Access. These include both large and small institutions. Here are a few examples:

  • SunTrust
  • Bank of America
  • Affinity Federal Credit Union

Depending on the institution, free scores may only be available to customers enrolled in certain products, and the program may change.

5. Credit counselors

If you’re using the services of a credit-counseling program to improve your finances, you may be eligible for a free FICO score through that organization via the FICO Score Open Access program.

Partner organizations (see them listed below participating banks and credit cards) include companies with national or regional clients.

These are a few of the credit counseling organizations offering free FICO scores:

  • DebtHelper.com
  • Operation Hope
  • Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Savannah

6. Experian

The credit reporting company Experian offers free access to FICO credit scores through its website FreeCreditScore.com.

You won’t have to enter any credit card information to create a free account and see your FICO score. The company says it does not sell your information to third parties. It updates scores every 30 days.

7. Credit applications

A sometimes overlooked option for getting a free credit score is simply to ask to see it when applying for a loan.

If your credit is being pulled by a dealership, mortgage lender or bank, see if they will be willing to share your score with you. While this won’t work for an automated credit application, such as for a credit card, it is an option anytime you have contact with a company representative.

Keep in mind, though, that a major reason for checking your score is to provide you time to repair or boost your credit score before applying for a loan. If possible, try one of the options above first.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

5 Things You Think Could Hurt Your Credit Score — but Don’t

Surprised senior woman holding credit card
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There are plenty of things that people don’t realize can damage their credit score, from reserving a rental car to canceling a credit card.

At the same time, there are some things that people commonly believe can hurt their credit score — but that actually have no impact on scores.

Following are a few examples of the more persistent myths about what can affect your credit score.

1. Checking your credit report

As we noted in “7 Credit Score Myths: Fact vs. Fiction,” checking your own credit report doesn’t hurt your credit score. It’s actually a good idea to look at your report regularly, to monitor for errors and signs of identity theft.

Under federal law, you are entitled to one free report from each of the three major nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — every 12 months.

Order them through the official website AnnualCreditReport.com. Or, for detailed directions, see “How to Get Your Free Credit Report in 6 Easy Steps.”

2. Unpaid library fines

In the past, it might have been possible for unpaid library fines to hurt your credit score. But credit reporting companies no longer collect information reported through municipalities or municipal court records, according to Consumer Reports.

This is true even if the library sends your unpaid fine to a collection agency. Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian, explains to Consumer Reports:

“A library may work with a collection agency, but municipalities have relationships with collection agencies that prohibit them by contract from reporting. To my knowledge there are no exceptions. We’ve removed all of that information.”

3. Unpaid parking tickets

Like unpaid library fines, unpaid parking tickets are part of municipal records — and, again, credit-reporting companies no longer collect this information.

4. Civil judgments

A civil judgment is effectively a court-ordered debt resulting from a civil lawsuit.

In the past, civil judgments could have appeared in credit reports and thus negatively affected credit scores. But in July 2017, the three major credit-reporting companies changed their standards for the collection of certain court-related records in such a way that civil judgments are generally excluded from credit reports.

5. Recent medical debts

Back in 2016, the three major credit-reporting companies announced that medical debts would not appear on credit reports until after a 180-day “waiting period” had passed.

So, if your insurance company hasn’t dealt with all the claims related to last month’s surgery, don’t worry: Those unpaid bills won’t show up just yet.

Obviously, it’s important to take care of medical debts as promptly as possible. If you’re having trouble paying, see “Successfully Negotiate Your Medical Bills in 7 Simple Steps.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

10 Things That Lower Your Social Security Check

Senior couple on a computer
SUPERMAO / Shutterstock.com

You’ve worked hard for Social Security retirement benefits, and you probably want every dollar you’re entitled to receive.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that there are reasons why your Social Security payments could decrease. Many are in your control, but some are not.

Keep reading to find out how your monthly check could get dinged for everything from poor timing on your part to poor planning on the government’s end.

1. Failing to catch incorrect wage information

A young black man gets angry at his laptop computer while working at his office desk
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

Social Security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings record. If the government doesn’t have the correct wage information for you, the result could be a smaller Social Security check.

To make sure the government has the right info on your wages, sign up for your own account at the Social Security Administration (SSA) website. Among other things, you can use the account to review your earnings history.

For more on Social Security accounts and earnings histories, check out “9 Social Security Terms Everyone Should Know.”

2. Receiving some types of pensions

Worried senior couple
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

Some workers may not be eligible for Social Security as a result of the nature of their employment. As we report in “6 Types of People Who Can’t Count on Social Security“:

“Not every worker pays into the Social Security system. In certain states, public employees are not covered by Social Security due to receiving a pension. They can include employees of state and local government agencies, including school systems, colleges and universities. In some states, they may also include police officers and firefighters.”

3. Missing the Medicare application window

K.D.P. / Shutterstock.com

While the full retirement age for Social Security has been slowly changing, the age for Medicare eligibility has remained the same. That means that even if you aren’t applying for Social Security until age 66 or later, you need to apply for Medicare at age 65.

Failure to do so could result in late enrollment penalties. For instance, Medicare Part B premiums are 10% higher for every 12-month period a person fails to sign up for Medicare coverage when they are eligible. Because Medicare payments generally are taken from your Social Security benefit, this could lower your Social Security benefit each month.

4. Rising Medicare premiums

Rayjunk / Shutterstock.com

Even if you apply for Medicare on time, you could find that your Social Security payments take a hit from rising Medicare premiums. That’s because Medicare premiums generally are deducted from Social Security payments.

In 2012, people paid $99.90 per month for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient services. For 2020, that premium is $144.60 for most people, with high earners paying more — between $202.40 and $491.60, depending on their income.

5. Claiming retirement benefits early

Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock.com

Claiming your Social Security benefits earlier than your full retirement age (an age set by the SSA) will result in a smaller check going forward. While the government is happy to start sending you monthly checks at age 62, it is going to reduce your monthly payment — possibly by up to one-third or more.

The reduction is permanent, so don’t expect to see a big bump in benefits once you reach your full retirement age.

6. Getting your full retirement age wrong

senior man
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

You may think you’re doing everything right by filing for Social Security benefits at age 65, but filing at that age will reduce your payments as well. Although 65 was long considered the full retirement age, the government has been slowly moving the goalposts.

If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66. The number increases by two months each year (for example, 66 and 6 months for those born in 1957) until reaching a full retirement age of 67 for those born in or after 1960.

7. Earning too much income as an early retiree

sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

If you decide to go the early retirement route, you should think twice about continuing to work while receiving Social Security benefits. In 2021, if you are younger than your full retirement age but old enough to have started taking Social Security, you can only earn up to $18,960 before a portion of your benefits is withheld. In that situation, the government reduces monthly benefits by $1 for every $2 earned above that amount.

If you’ll hit your full retirement age this year, you can earn up to $50,520 in the months leading up to your birthday. Exceeding that amount means the Social Security Administration will take $1 for every $3 you earn over the limit.

Fortunately, these aren’t permanent reductions in your benefits. And, starting with the month you reach full retirement age, there is no limit on how much you can earn. In addition, any benefits withheld because of your earnings will be added back to your benefits each month starting at your full retirement age.

8. Owing taxes or child support

Worried stressed businessman
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The government can also take money from Social Security to pay for back taxes or child support.

Garnishment for taxes is limited to 15% of your monthly benefits. However, if you owe child support, get ready for the government to take as much as 65% of your benefits to pay for that obligation.

9. Defaulting on federal student loans

Student loans
PHOTOBUAY / Shutterstock.com

Thanks to a U.S. Treasury rule, debt collectors for credit cards and other consumer accounts can’t garnish your Social Security benefits. However, that protection doesn’t extend to debts owed to the federal government. If you have defaulted on federal student loans for yourself or loans you took out for a child, some of your Social Security benefits can be withheld to pay off the debt.

10. Outliving the Social Security trust fund

A senior man opens an empty wallet
perfectlab / Shutterstock.com

Your Social Security benefits might take a hit if you outlive the program’s trust fund. According to the 2020 Trustees Report, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund — which pays out Social Security retirement benefits — will run out of cash in 2034.

The retirement of the largest generation in U.S. history, the baby boom generation, is challenging the system as the cost of those workers’ benefits grows faster than the working-age population paying into the system.

After 2034, the program will only have enough income from employed workers to pay 76% of Social Security benefits, the report notes.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

17 Ways to Dig Yourself Out of a Financial Hole

 At age 47 I was jobless, emotionally broken after an abusive marriage, and running through savings to keep a divorce attorney in my corner. Grieving my mother’s death and terrified that my disabled adult daughter and I would end up homeless, I couldn’t see any kind of future for myself.

Within five years I had earned a university degree on scholarship, found a new career as a personal finance writer, paid off divorce-related debt, and started rebuilding my cash reserves. In the next four years, I would open a Roth IRA and a SEP-IRA. I never was homeless, and I’ve never carried any debt since then.

Dig out of a financial hole

It’s possible to dig yourself out of a financial hole if you’re willing to do the work. But you can’t stop there. It’s absolutely crucial to establish smart money habits in order to build your financial future — and to keep from winding up back in the hole.

Maybe you’ve stalled financially because you never learned how to manage money. Or maybe you’re mired in debt due to circumstances beyond your control, such as job loss or serious illness.

It doesn’t matter how you got there. What matters is that you get yourself out. Use these basic tactics to get a handle on your finances.

The best time to have started getting your finances together was 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now.

If you’re in debt, quit adding to it. Easier said than done, I know: My divorce attorney charged by the minute, for heaven’s sake, yet I couldn’t do without representation.

What could I do without? Almost everything else. I’d always been fairly thrifty, so it wasn’t as hard for me as it might be for others. However, I hadn’t done such a deep dive into frugality since my single-mom days, when I did all the laundry (including diapers) on a scrub-board in the sink. Not everyone can (or wants to) go to the lengths I did, such as living mostly on dry beans and homemade soups, using coupon/rebate deals to stretch my budget, buying almost no new clothing for years, recycling cans picked up on walks around the neighborhood, looking for any possible side gig (babysitting, participating in medical studies, shoveling snow) to add a few dollars to debt payoff.

If you find it tough sledding at first, welcome to the club of being human. Then think about your spending in this way: Adding more debt doesn’t just mean paying extra interest, but also something called “opportunity cost.” Every dollar you spend is a dollar that can’t work for you any other way.

While you’re still in the hole, this means dollars that can’t help you dig your way back out. And once you’re debt-free? It means dollars that can’t help you meet new financial goals: retirement savings, paying off your mortgage, a trip to your family reunion, or whatever will make your life better.

To be clear: Your tolerance for frugal hacks is as unique as you are. I can’t force you to wash out Ziploc bags or to shovel snow for that matter. What I can do is urge you to adopt the main attitude that helped get me through those five years — something I call the Frugal Filter:

  • Do I really need this whatever-it-is?
  • Is there something I already have that might work?
  • If I absolutely must get this item, is there a way to do so for free (borrowing it from a friend, using Freecycle)? And if not, how can I make it as affordable as possible? (Some examples: thrift store, yard sale, cashing in rewards points for gift cards to pay for it.)

Start by adding up all your income sources. Next, list all your obligations, including but not limited to mortgage, minimum credit card payments, utilities, insurance car note, and legally mandated payments (e.g. alimony or child support).

Subtract the second number from the first. If your monthly expenses are lower than your current income, that’s a good sign. But keep in mind that these are your anticipated expenses. You’ll also need money for irregular expenses such as home repair or a replacement vehicle, as well as for vacations, gift-giving, and other things that make our lives richer.

Tracking spending means you’ll know where you stand. The next thing to do is look for the best ways to use your money.

A lot of people swear by the 50/30/20 plan: Spend no more than half your after-tax income on needs, 30% on things you want, and 20% on savings and debt repayment.

Arrange your current spending into those categories. If you’re spending more than you should in any given department, find ways to bring costs down. For example, you might be able to refinance the mortgage and cut grocery costs (more on that in a minute) to get your “needs” spending under 50% of your take-home pay.

The categories can be flexible, though. For example, if debt repayment is more important to you right now than going out to eat, you could use some of your “wants” dollars toward paying down your credit cards.

Speaking of which, you also need to…

Earlier you added up your basic monthly expenses. But what’s the total amount owed? A lot of people honestly don’t know, because they never added it up. Full disclosure: I still don’t know how much my divorce cost, because I don’t want to know. (Hint: It was a lot.)

Don’t be like me. Add up your credit card balances while seated, because the total might make you feel a little faint (especially when you consider how much interest you’re paying). Let that Big Number inspire you to get real about paying it off.

First: If you’re making extra payments on your current mortgage, stop for now and put that money against your credit card balance. Talk with a mortgage specialist about the possibility of refinancing; your loan would be longer, but the money you’d save each month can be used against higher-interest debt.

Next, call your credit card issuers and ask for lower interest rates. There’s no guarantee you’ll get them, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Some people swear by the “debt snowball.” You pay minimum payments on all your credit cards except for the one with the lowest balance (but not necessarily the lowest interest rate); for that one, make the biggest payment you can. Once it’s paid off, you attack the card with the next-lowest balance, and so on.

The theory is that paying one card off quickly encourages you to keep going. Then again, you’re paying more interest on the other cards. That’s why some suggest it’s better to pay off the cards with the highest interest rates first.

Do what works best for you. If you need that encouragement, go with the debt snowball.

Another option is a 0% balance transfer credit card: moving all your debt onto a new card that offers 0% interest for 12 to 18 months. You’ll pay a balance transfer fee, typically about 3% of the total debt. However, if you pay the card in full during the introductory period, you won’t owe any interest.

This could save you a ton of money. (Wish I’d known about it back when I was paying off my divorce debt.) However, you shouldn’t get a 0% balance transfer card unless you have an ironclad plan to pay it off. Otherwise, you’ll wind up paying a ton of interest anyway, in addition to the transfer fee.

Another credit card debt tactic is a personal loan, that is if you can get a decent rate. You’d need an ironclad payoff plan for this option, too. And no matter how you pay off your debt, you absolutely need a plan to keep you from running up the credit cards all over again.

Our consumerist culture tells us that if we want something, then we should have it. This is why some people shop for fun, I guess, even if they don’t technically need anything.

“Need” is the operative word. Food, shelter, basic clothing, and utilities are needs. Everything else is a parade of wants.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting things. But there’s a whole lot that’s wrong with buying things we can’t actually afford. So if you shop for fun, stop doing that. Stop it right now. Un-bookmark your favorite shopping sites. Avoid brick-and-mortar stores.

Delete your stored credit cards, and remember that “one-click” shopping is of the devil.

Sound harsh? Reframe that thought right now: This is prudence, not punishment. It’s part of your plan to meet financial goals, including getting out of debt.

Since we get a nice dopamine rush whenever we find that Really Good Deal, our brain will try to trick you into “just looking.” Look for other ways to feel good, whether that’s The New York Times crossword puzzle or bingeing your favorite shows on an affordable streaming service.

Find a friend who’s also trying to get out of the financial hole, and the two of you can support each other. (“I just saw the most amazing price on cheese straighteners and I really want to get one! Talk me out of it!”)

Here’s what worked for me: Thinking about what I did have, rather than obsessing about what I didn’t. Sounds corny, but hear me out. While living on about $1,000 a month (and still helping my daughter), I made an actual list of my advantages: decent health, a university scholarship, a library card, a part-time job, a 99-cent radio from the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, and the absolute conviction that I would one day be back in the black.

The only person who can help me is me,” I said out loud, more than once, developing a stoic pride in — once more! — making do on nothing. I was dirt-poor but I was not dirt. I had a plan. (I also still had the scrub-board, and even used it sometimes.)

Sure, sometimes I still wanted stuff I couldn’t afford. Most of the time, my attitude of gratitude helped me power through. After all, I had things that were important to me and I knew if I just kept working at it, my debt would be gone. It wasn’t easy. But as my dad used to say, “That’s why they call it ‘work.’ If it were fun, they’d call it ‘fun.’”

Be an adult. Own your mistakes or your misfortunes. And do the work.

Part of the reason I went broke was the financial support I gave to my daughter, whose disability benefit was minuscule. Ultimately she got married, found a job she could do from home, became self-sufficient, and moved to a different city. I kept giving, though: treating them to multiple meals out when I visited, sending numerous “just because” gift cards throughout the year, forgiving them a decent-sized loan (as a wedding gift).

Maybe you do this sort of thing, too. Keeping your grown kids on the family phone plan. Paying for their health insurance. Covering some (or all) of their rent. A financial planner told me some clients routinely buy extra stuff at Costco to bribe their children to drop by.

Perhaps your own kids don’t have to drop by because they’re already there: boomerang offspring who came back due to job issues, or who live with you so they can save up for their own homes. Or maybe your kids never launched in the first place — and why should they? Mom and Dad have a comfy home, a well-stocked fridge, and all the streaming platforms.

It’s natural to want to give our children the best. But here’s the thing: You cannot finance retirement. Your kids have many decades to build their financial lives. You, on the other hand, have a finite number of years to make the right money choices.

If you are in debt and/or have an underfunded retirement, do not set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. Doing so could leave you out in the cold, financially speaking.

To be clear: I would have helped my daughter forever if necessary, but I’m very glad it wasn’t. Those dollars wound up going to retirement savings, my emergency fund (more on that below), and some cash reserves. I refuse to put my daughter in the position of having to support me if I run out of money in retirement. Don’t put that burden on your kids, either.

This may sound counterintuitive. Why save for retirement while I still have balances on 18% credit cards?

Because you can’t finance retirement, remember?

Retirement isn’t a question of simple-interest savings. It’s about growth, and growth takes time. The years you spend not contributing will be felt keenly when you retire — especially if you, like me, got something of a late start.

As noted, the 20% part of the 50/30/20 budget includes saving for the future. Ideally, you’ve already got some retirement savings from your current (or recent) job, and it will continue to grow as you figure things out. Resist the temptation to raid it early; the longer it stays there, the better your chances for its lasting throughout your retirement.

For some people, a 10% (or higher) contribution to their house of worship is absolute. If that’s you, know that it still may be possible to keep tithing at that level — but the money has to come from somewhere else in your budget. As noted above, you can find other ways to cut in order to keep the tithes coming.

If need be, talk to your religious leader about temporarily cutting back or even pausing your contribution. You could always promise to restart and to make up for the lost time.

Even when things were pretty dire for me I gave $20 a month to my church. Sure, that money could have gone toward my credit card debt. But giving to others got me out of my own head. That $240 a year reminded me that not only were my basics covered, I could even afford a little help for others who needed it. Never underestimate the satisfaction and peace this knowledge can bring.

I kept a certain amount of liquid cash while paying off the divorce-related debt. It was tempting to throw every dime I had toward the balance. But I also wanted cash on hand so I could pay for utilities, car insurance, and food in case my job went away.

Some money experts suggest having a year’s worth of expenses banked. Others say that amount discourages people from even trying to save. Instead, they suggest one to three months’ worth as an initial goal, with additional contributions when possible.

I’m in the latter camp. Rather than pressuring yourself to come up with tens of thousands of dollars, aim for a single month’s worth. Go back to that household budget and look for places to cut. Canceling a subscription box you’ve stopped being thrilled by, skipping that automobile detailing you normally get every couple of months, dropping the gym membership that you haven’t been using anyway — these and other budget trims can help plump up the EF faster than you would have thought possible.

Food is the budget category with the most flexibility. You probably can’t negotiate your car payment or your son’s college tuition, but you can cut down on meals outside the home and be choosier about shopping.

Accustomed to stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts? You might be surprised by the organic options available at regular grocers and even discount markets. Take an hour a week to browse different stores, and plan future shopping accordingly.

If you eat most of your meals away from home, gradually change your ways. Buy good-quality coffee and breakfast ingredients so you aren’t tempted to grab takeout every morning. Batch-cook and freeze breakfast sandwiches on weekends, or buy premade ones from a warehouse club (still more affordable than breakfast out).

Carrying your lunch just one day a week could likely save you $10 to $20, or $520 to $1,040 a year. Over time, work your way up to brown-bagging it at least three times a week, and put the thousands of dollars you save toward some other financial goal. In the four years it took to get my degree, I never once bought a single meal at school. An occasional snack or drink, maybe, but I carried all my meals. Again, I’m hardcore and looked at lunch as the fuel I needed to get through the day. Your mileage may vary. Just make sure it’s something you actually like to eat — and again, start slowly so that you don’t set yourself up to fail.

Dinners can be tough since most people arrive home as tired as they are hungry. A little weekend planning or some monthly batch cooking — especially with an Instant Pot — can change the way you eat, and will certainly change how much you spend.

Don’t know how to cook much, or at all? Do an online search for “easy affordable recipes with [your favorite ingredients].” Remember, you didn’t know how to use a smartphone until you made it your business to learn. The same is true of cooking.

It is worth it to shop around for something like car insurance.

Ask me how I know. When I arrived in Seattle, fresh out of my horrible marriage, I used the insurance agent a relative recommended. And wound up paying about $700 more a year than I needed to, for five years. Still shake my head sometimes about that $3,500 worth of opportunity cost, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Look for better deals on Internet, phone, and cable service, too. This can save you some serious bucks, especially if you bundle services.

Note: Many people have ditched cable entirely in favor of streaming services. If you haven’t investigated these lately, you’ll be surprised by the options — and the potential savings.

All of it. You won’t get out of the financial hole overnight, so it’s essential to note individual steps along the way. For some, a spreadsheet makes things easier.

Or use my daughter’s method, which is to list debts on a whiteboard. Each time you make a payment, you get to amend the total to reflect the change — and oh, my, how satisfying it is to literally wipe the debt off the board.

Once you’re back in the black, keep those savvy money moves in place. Spend less than you earn. Contribute to retirement regularly. Build an emergency fund to guard against the unexpected.

Source: newretirement.com

Study: Credit Cards Hijack Your Brain, Leading to More Spending

Excited woman with credit card
Photo by Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

Credit cards get you to spend by creating a “purchase craving” in your brain, according to a new study out of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Researchers say the study is the first to show evidence that a consumer’s choice of payment method can trigger different types of brain activation.

In the words of two of the study authors — Drazen Prelec of MIT and Sachin Banker of the University of Utah — when you use a credit card instead of cash, it serves to “step on the gas,” driving more spending “by putting costs out-of-mind regardless of the price of the product.”

In a press announcement from the MIT Sloan School of Management, Prelec says:

“Prior studies have shown that credit cards have a different effect on consumers than cash and are often blamed for overspending and household debt. But it is unclear from standard research tools whether credit cards ‘release the brakes’ by removing the pain of payment or ‘step on the gas’ by creating a craving to spend.”

The study found that paying with a credit card sensitizes reward networks in the brain. The process involves the striatum, a dopaminergic reward center that drugs like cocaine and amphetamines exploit.

Once these reward networks are sensitized, credit card use drives an increase in purchases.

As Prelec says:

“The reward networks in the brain that are activated by all kinds of rewards are activated by a credit card purchase. The act of putting that plastic credit card in your hand is associated with enjoyable purchases.”

The study also found that different types of cards — and the way they are used — elicit different types of spending. So, a card used at a restaurant or during a vacation spurs a different appetite for spending than a card used to fill up your gas tank, for example.

Looking for a new credit card — hopefully one that will not make you spend more? Stop by Money Talks News’ Solutions Center and search for the perfect credit card for you.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

13 Ways to Get Out of Debt

Stressed businessman looking at laptop
GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.

In 2020, Fidelity reported that the majority of people who were making financial resolutions for the new year wanted to achieve a debt-free life. While fortunes have shifted during the coronavirus pandemic, it is still a very worthy goal.

Not sure how to get out of debt? You have options.

Don’t play tug of war with your money. Get out of debt and align your finances on your side!

Based on my experience, there are quite a few methods for getting out of debt. Some require brute force, others discipline and there are even methods that are fairly passive and pain-free.

Find the right way for you to get out of debt.

1. The Debt Snowball

Studio Peace / Shutterstock.com

Endorsed by Dave Ramsey and many other personal finance gurus, this works.

What is it? It is a debt snowball!

Start with your smallest debt and pay it off as quickly as possible, all while making the minimum payments on all the other debts.

When your first debt is gone, apply that usual payment amount to the payments you make on your next-largest debt. Follow this pattern until you’ve officially slain the dragon and all debts are paid.

Why is this my favorite? Because people stick with it.

When you pay off a debt and strike it off your list, something inside you just goes berserk with enthusiasm. You want to do it again! “What’s the next debt? Let’s kill that one too!” And you just go absolutely nuts until all the debts are completely gone.

2. The Debt Avalanche

Man with sledgehammer hitting "Debt" ball
BsWei / Shutterstock.com

What does the debt avalanche do that the debt snowball doesn’t?

It considers the interest on your loans.

The debt avalanche applies a different methodology for how to get out of debt.

Instead of ordering your smallest debts to your largest, you pay them off from the largest interest rate to the smallest. Maggie McGrath did some great analysis on Forbes if you’re interested in the math and want to get your nerd on, but apples to apples, the avalanche does pay off debts faster than the debt snowball.

However, fewer people make it through this plan because you don’t get to see immediate wins to keep you motivated.

If your highest interest loan is your $20,000 maxed-out credit card, it might take you a full year to pay it off. By that point, most people have lost motivation and moved onto the next shiny object of life.

If you’re super nerdy and determined to get rid of your debt, however, the avalanche will probably work for you. If you need the small wins to pep you up and put that spring in your step, use the debt snowball.

3. Loan Consolidation

Couple meeting with loan officer
megaflopp / Shutterstock.com

If you have a few debts that have a high interest rate, and if you’re more passive about getting rid of them, then setting up a simple loan consolidation might be your best bet.

Set up the term length, negotiate the new, lower interest rate, and you’ll get rid of your debts at a pre-determined time — hopefully long before your retirement date. It’s not the most effective way to pay off your debts, but it is better than ignoring your debts entirely.

4. Transfer Balance to a Low- or Zero-Interest Credit Card

couple earning cash back while shopping online
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Depending on your credit score and debt burden, you may be able to transfer your debts onto a zero-interest credit card and really focus on paying down the balance as quickly as possible — preferably before that introductory interest rate resets to a higher one.

This is great if you are committed to truly getting rid of the debt.

5. Talk to Your Creditors About a Lower Interest Rate

A woman with a smartphone and credit card is taken by surprise
garetsworkshop / Shutterstock.com

Particularly with credit card debt, you may be able to talk with your creditors and ask them for an interest rate deduction.

The worst they can say is no. And, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

6. Try Negotiating a Settlement

Two pair of clasped hands on a conference table.
vchal / Shutterstock.com

Your creditors want you to succeed. They make money when you are able to pay back the loan.

If they think that you won’t be able to pay back the money you owe them or if they think they can get their money back faster, then they may be willing to make it easier for you.

Before negotiating, make sure you know exactly how much you can pay back and in what time frame. Be prepared to demonstrate to the creditor how exactly you are going to be successful. Prepare a compelling argument for why they should reduce the total amount of what you owe.

7. Refinance Your Mortgage

buying a home
ShutterOK / Shutterstock.com

Interest rates are near an all-time low right now.

If you have a mortgage, it may be incredibly profitable for you to refinance into a lower interest rate.

Just be sure to consider closing costs.

8. Refinance Your Home and Consolidate Other Loans Into Your Mortgage

Coins and Monopoly hotels and houses
igorstevanovic / Shutterstock.com

If you have a mortgage and additional debts, you can really take advantage of low interest rates by refinancing your mortgage and securing a home equity line of credit (HELOC) at the same time.

The refinancing can lower the interest rate on your mortgage. Assuming the HELOC is at a lower rate than your other debt, you can your HELOC funds to pay off other higher interest loans.

9. Ramp Up Your Earnings

Winking woman with money
Alliance Images / Shutterstock.com

Being in debt can be a great motivator to find ways to earn more money.

The extra cash from a side gig or a raise can help you pay off your debt. And, bonus, when you no longer have those payments, it will be easier for you to save for retirement!

10. Cut Existing Expenses

Woman with piggy bank
Jason Stitt / Shutterstock.com

If ramping up your earnings does not seem to be an option, but you really want to accelerate your debt payments, you should consider cutting existing expenses and using those savings toward your debt.

It is not exciting or tricky, just the old-fashioned, tried-but-true method of eliminating debt.

11. Commit to Getting Out of Debt

Woman looking in the mirror while trying on new clothes
immfocus studio / Shutterstock.com

How do you get out of debt? You simply commit to getting out of debt! As your mom might have told you: Where there is a will, there is a way.

12. Stop Saving and Pay Off the Debt

Senior man gesturing stop to protect his money
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Yes, you need to be saving money. You definitely need to save and invest those savings.

However, it may be a better short-term financial decision to stop saving and use the funds that you would otherwise be socking away to pay off your debt.

This is a good strategy if you have debt with high interest rates.

You may want to compare the interest rate on your debt with the rate of return you could earn on savings for a quick assessment of where to put your money. Put your finances toward the higher rate.

13. Run Scenarios and Compare!

Man using too much data on his phone, tablet and laptop
Bacho / Shutterstock.com

Not sure paying off your debt will really make a big difference to your financial life? Try it out.

The NewRetirement Retirement Planner is a really detailed and powerful DIY financial planning tool.

After configuring the system with your personalized profile, you can try different scenarios. See what happens if you:

  • Use the debt snowball or debt avalanche techniques.
  • Pay off all your credit cards in the next year or two.
  • Pay off your mortgage before retirement.
  • Downsize and eliminate your existing mortgage.
  • Consolidate all debts into a lower interest rate.

Once you see how accelerating your debt payoff can impact your finances (now and into the future), you may have the motivation you need to get rid of debt.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

The Fastest Proven Ways to Destroy Debt

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Ever since I wrote my first book, “Life or Debt,” nearly 20 years ago, I’ve been trying to guide readers and viewers to a debt-free life. Why? Because debt is like a cancer that eats away at your financial future.

The money you pay to use other people’s money — aka, interest — is money that’s not around to help you reach your financial goals.

Destroying debt is easier said than done, but whether you carry a small balance on your credit card or have a million-dollar mortgage, there are specific steps you can take to become debt-free at the earliest possible moment.

In this week’s “Money!” podcast, we’re going to find out what they are. As usual, my co-hosts will be financial journalist Miranda Marquit and producer Aaron Freeman.

Sit back, relax and listen to this week’s “Money!” podcast:

Not familiar with podcasts?

A podcast is basically a radio show you can listen to anytime, either by downloading it to your smartphone or other device, or by listening online.

They’re totally free. They can be any length (ours are typically about a half-hour), feature any number of people and cover any topic you can possibly think of. You can listen at home, in the car, while jogging or, if you’re like me, when riding your bike.

You can listen to our latest podcasts here or download them to your phone from any number of places, including Apple, Spotify, RadioPublic, Stitcher and RSS.

If you haven’t listened to a podcast yet, give it a try, then subscribe to ours. You’ll be glad you did!

Show notes

Want more information? Check out these resources:

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and I have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement

Surprised retiree
cheapbooks / Shutterstock.com

Most of us spend decades working and dreaming of a day when we can retire. But when we finally arrive at our post-work destination, it’s not unusual to find ourselves in a world of surprises.

Knowing what to expect in advance can help you prepare for — and adjust to — life in your golden years. The following are some key things no one tells you about before you retire.

Housing will remain your biggest expense

Senior couple at home
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Many retirees dream of paying off their mortgage so they will be free to spend money on travel and other activities. But the reality is that housing likely will remain the biggest expense in your budget for as long as you live.

U.S. households led by someone age 65 or older spent an average of $17,472 on housing in 2019, as we detail in “Here’s How Much Retiree Households Spend in a Year.” That is easily more than these households spent in any other expense category.

Work will not end — it will simply change

older worker
michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

You will probably work in retirement — and not just because you have to. More than 70% of people say they want to work during retirement, according to the findings of “Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations,” a joint study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave.

As you age, chances are good that the nature of work will change, though. The study found that 3 in 5 retirees plan to launch a new line of work that differs from what they have done in the past. Working retirees also are three times more likely than pre-retirees to own their own business.

If you’ve never volunteered before, you won’t start in retirement

Senior volunteer
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

About 90% of Americans say they would like to do volunteer service for someone or some cause that needs their help, but just 25% actually do so, according to the Stanford Center on Longevity.

When asked why they don’t follow through on the wish to help, Americans most commonly cite a lack of free time. Yet, retirees — with plenty of time on their hands — do not volunteer at rates that are any higher than those of workers.

And among people who did not volunteer during their working years, just one-third finally begin volunteering during retirement.

Retirement can be especially lonely for single men

Sad senior man

In some ways, retirement is more challenging for women. Because they live longer than men, they will have to stretch the funds from their nest eggs over a longer period. To make matters worse, women generally start with less in retirement savings than men do.

But women who are single have one big advantage over their male counterparts: They are less likely to be lonely.

Just 48% of retired men who live alone say they are very satisfied with the number of friends they have, according to an analysis of Pew Research Center survey findings.

However, a robust 71% of women who live alone are satisfied with the number of friends they have.

Health issues likely will catch you by surprise

Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock.com

Slightly more than one-third of retirees say health problems have put a damper on their retirement years, according to a survey from the Nationwide Retirement Institute. And 75% of those folks say their health problems emerged sooner in life than they expected.

To make matters worse, about one-quarter say health-related expenses keep them from living the retirement of their dreams. Such sobering numbers underscore why many people planning for retirement would benefit from opening a health savings account and stashing as much cash as possible into that HSA.

As you grow older, you will feel younger

Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Everyone has heard the cliche: “You’re only as old as you feel.”

If that is true, here is some good news for retirees: Paradoxically, the older people get, the younger they are likely to feel, according to “Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality,” a paper from the Pew Research Center.

For example, among people ages 18-29, about half say they feel their age, one-quarter feel older than their age and another one-quarter feel younger.

However, among those 65 and older, 60% say they feel younger than their age and 32% say they feel exactly their age. Just a scant 3% say they feel older than their age.

Your early golden years might not gleam as you had hoped

Unhappy senior woman
Asier Romero / Shutterstock.com

Nearly one-third of recent retirees — 28% — say life is worse in retirement than it was during their working years, according to the Nationwide Retirement Institute survey.

What is the source of this gloom and doom? Money — or lack thereof.

Among those who lament post-work life, 78% cite a lack of income and 76% cite a high cost of living as the top factors in giving them the blues during their golden years.

The message to future retirees is obvious: Save early, save often and keep saving. For more tips, check out “9 Ways to Rescue Your Retirement in 2020.”

Initial disappointment will give way to later satisfaction

Happy senior couple
David Tadevosian / Shutterstock.com

If you are among those disappointed with retirement, take heart: As with so many things, retirement is what you make it. You can take steps to boost your overall satisfaction with life during your golden years.

For example, researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom found that people who volunteer are less likely to be depressed and more likely to be satisfied with life. There is even evidence that volunteers live longer.

So, if retirement has got you down, stop gazing at your navel and start looking outward at ways to help others.

A lot of other research has found that a happy marriage and spending time with close family and friends can greatly boost retirement satisfaction.

Even if you don’t take steps to make yourself happy, you might just end up feeling joyous anyway. The Pew Research Center found that 45% of adults 75 and older believe life has turned out better than they expected.

Just 5% say it has turned out worse.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon

Woman shopping online
Jelena Zelen / Shutterstock.com

While a Prime membership is the single best way to get the most out of Amazon, the retailer’s website offers plenty of features for everyone.

They can be overlooked easily, but these hidden features can save you money, streamline shopping and even help eliminate clutter.

Keep reading for lesser-known tactics for getting more out of Amazon.

1. Use a price tracker

Stock market
violetkaipa / Shutterstock.com

Honey, a browser extension, and CamelCamelCamel, a website and extension, are free tools that offer Amazon price tracking.

That means you can use one of these tools to find out how the price of a particular product on Amazon has changed over time, and to keep tabs on its price going forward. This helps you get a better deal.

Learn more: We explain more in “7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon,” or you can head straight to Honey’s website or CamelCamelCamel.com.

2. Get stuff for free

A woman smiles while enjoying reading an e-book on an e-reader and lying on the grass outside
baranq / Shutterstock.com

Who doesn’t love free stuff? You can get plenty of it on Amazon, regardless of whether you have a Prime membership.

Freebies range from e-books to valuable home goods that you could receive by registering for wedding gifts from companies such as All-Clad, Mikasa and Kenmore.

Learn more: See our article “10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon” for details on these and other freebies offered through the site.

3. Shop the secret departments

PixieMe / Shutterstock.com

Amazon is already known for its bargain prices on many goods, but there are additional savings to be found if you know where to look.

Visit the “Bargain Finds” page for low-priced goodies of all kinds. Or hit the Outlet to find discounted overstock items. You can also visit the Renewed section for refurbished electronics.

Learn more: More on these and other secret departments can be found in our story “7 Secret Departments of Amazon You Should Know About.”

4. Trade your clutter for gift cards

Amazon gift card
Nicole S Glass / Shutterstock.com

Minimalists might bemoan Amazon as a way to quickly fill up your house with unnecessary purchases, but the retail giant also can help you cut your clutter.

The Amazon Trade-In program lets customers send in unwanted electronics, books and more. In return, they receive an Amazon gift card.

Learn more: Visit the Amazon Trade-In program page, where you can also see how much credit you could get for a particular piece of clutter that’s sitting around your home. Click on a product category to get started.

And for more tips like this, check out “5 Ways You Can Score Free Amazon Gift Cards.”

5. Check for coupons

carballo / Shutterstock.com

Yes, Amazon has coupons — lots of them. No scissors necessary: You can “clip” these digital coupons with the tap of a button, either on a product’s webpage or Amazon’s coupons page.

Learn more: Visit the “Amazon Coupons” webpage to view all coupons that are currently available.

6. Buy exclusive generic brands

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

It’s well-known that generics can cost significantly less than their brand-name counterparts, but did you know that Amazon has its own generic brands as well?

They go by names like AmazonBasics and Amazon Elements, and some products from these brands are among the site’s bestsellers.

Learn more: Visit Amazon’s “Explore Our Brands” page to get a quick sense of the array of brands and products.

7. Subscribe and save

Mom and daughter brushing teeth together,
Creativa Image / Shutterstock.com

Put your shopping on auto-pilot using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save feature. A wide variety of products are eligible for Subscribe & Save orders — from toothpaste and diapers to dog food.

You select the items and the frequency of the shipments. Amazon will not only send the items to you automatically at the frequency of your choice, but it also will ship them for free.

What’s more, you’ll see extra savings of 5% or, if you subscribe to five or more items, up to 15%.

Learn more: Visit Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” page.

8. Return purchases to a Kohl’s or UPS Store

Eric Glenn / Shutterstock.com

Amazon has made returns easy for Prime and non-Prime members alike. You no longer have to hunt down a box and packing tape or print a shipping label.

Instead, you can simply take the item to your local Kohl’s or UPS Store for a free return. You can do this at certain Whole Foods Market locations as well.

You will receive a QR code from Amazon. Then, at the store, an associate will scan the code, take the item you are returning, and package it up and ship it back to Amazon for you.

Learn more: To find out whether this return option is available for a particular item that you wish to return, log in to your Amazon account and go to Your Orders, Amazon says.

9. Use old boxes to donate to charity

Amazon packages
Hadrian / Shutterstock.com

Wondering what to do with the empty Amazon boxes collecting in your garage? You could recycle them — or you could use them to send your unwanted goods to charity instead.

Amazon partners with Give Back Box to encourage people to declutter their homes and donate to charity.

It works like this: After you’ve unpacked your Amazon order, look around your home for items that are in good condition but that you no longer need or want. Then, put them in the Amazon box, go to the Give Back Box website for a free shipping label and send your excess off to a good cause.

Learn more: Visit the Give Back Box website. To print a free shipping label, click on Amazon’s logo.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Where Are Millennials Buying Homes?

Millennial couple walking through their new neighborhood as homeowners
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Porch.

Millennials have a notoriously low homeownership rate, which despite inching upward in recent years is far lower than the rates of previous generations at the same age.

The Urban Institute finds that a variety of factors contribute to depressed homeownership among young adults, including a propensity to delay marriage, increased student loan debt, lack of affordable housing and geographic preferences.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the national homeownership rate is 63.9%. For millennials, the homeownership rate stands at just 39.5%.

Recent evidence shows that millennials are fleeing large, more expensive cities for more affordable, smaller locales. While millennials helped boost urban growth after the Great Recession, in recent years, the population of older millennials and younger Gen Xers has declined in these cities.

The COVID-19 pandemic may continue to fuel this trend, as dense city living becomes less attractive. Additionally, the economic and financial uncertainty that many Americans now face will make buying a home in pricey, large cities less feasible.

To find the metropolitan areas where millennials are buying homes, researchers at Porch, a marketplace for home services, analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Zillow. The Pew Research Center’s definition of millennials is people born from 1981 to 1996; therefore, people ages 22-37 were used in the analysis of the Census data.

The researchers ranked metro areas according to the homeownership rate among millennials. In the event of a tie, the metro with the larger number of millennial homeowners was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated the median home price, the typical monthly mortgage payment, median earnings for full-time millennial workers and the cost of living.

Here are the large metro areas (with populations above 1 million) with the highest rate of homeownership among millennials.

15. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut

The skyline of Hartford Connecticut, where median rents are relatively low
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 43.4%
  • Median home price: $241,177
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $856
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $50,000
  • Cost of living: 2% above average

14. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 43.7%
  • Median home price: $187,285
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $664
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $40,000
  • Cost of living: 8% below average

13. Oklahoma City

4kclips / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 43.7%
  • Median home price: $160,931
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $571
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $37,000
  • Cost of living: 9% below average

12. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee
jdross75 / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 44.1%
  • Median home price: $287,200
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $1,019
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $40,000
  • Cost of living: 5% below average

11. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 44.1%
  • Median home price: $290,686
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $1,031
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $44,000
  • Cost of living: 3% below average

10. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 44.3%
  • Median home price: $297,468
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $1,055
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $50,000
  • Cost of living: 7% above average

9. Rochester, New York

Rochester, New York
Sirichai netthong / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 44.8%
  • Median home price: $161,366
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $573
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $40,000
  • Cost of living: 2% below average

8. Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 45.6%
  • Median home price: $171,641
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $609
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $40,000
  • Cost of living: 11% below average

7. Louisville, Kentucky

A historic district of Louisville, Kentucky
Philip Rozenski / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 45.7%
  • Median home price: $185,506
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $658
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $40,000
  • Cost of living: 10% below average

6. Pittsburgh

esb-professional / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 45.9%
  • Median home price: $162,803
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $578
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $43,000
  • Cost of living: 7% below average

5. St. LouisGateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri

photos.us / Shutterstock.com

  • Millennial homeownership rate: 46.7%
  • Median home price: $183,000
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $649
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $41,600
  • Cost of living: 9% below average

4. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan
Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 47.4%
  • Median home price: $187,529
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $665
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $41,500
  • Cost of living: 5% below average

3. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, Utah
Joe Guetzloff / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 47.9%
  • Median home price: $391,450
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $1,389
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $40,000
  • Cost of living: 1% below average

2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis
Roger Siljander / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 48.6%
  • Median home price: $301,440
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $1,069
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $48,300
  • Cost of living: 3% above average

1. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 56.8%
  • Median home price: $227,246
  • Monthly mortgage payment: $806
  • Median earnings for full-time millennials: $40,000
  • Cost of living: 8% below average

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com