Income-Driven Repayment Plans for Federal Student Loans – Guide

According to first-quarter data released in May 2021 by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loans are now the second-largest source of consumer debt, outpacing both credit card and car loan debt and second only to mortgage debt. And for many Americans, that debt has become unmanageable. According to CNBC, more than 1 million borrowers default on their student loans every year. And the nonprofit public-policy research organization Brookings expects up to 40% of all borrowers to go into default before 2023.

Unfortunately, defaulting on student loans can have dire consequences, including wage garnishment and destruction of your credit, making it nearly impossible to get another loan — private or federal.

Fortunately, there are multiple repayment options for federal student loan borrowers, including deferment and forbearance, student loan consolidation, and income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. If your federal student loan payments exceed your monthly income or are so high it’s difficult to afford basic necessities, you can lower your monthly student loan payment by taking advantage of one of the various IDR plans.

Pro Tip: If you have private student loans, the federal options are unavailable to you. But you can refinance them through Credible to earn a $750 bonus exclusive to Money Crashers’ readers. Learn more about refinancing through Credible.

How Income-Driven Repayment Plans Work

The default repayment schedule for federal student loans is 10 years. But if you have a high debt balance, low income, or both, the standard repayment plan probably isn’t affordable for you.

But if your payments are more than 10% of your calculated discretionary income, you qualify for the federal definition of “partial financial hardship.” That makes you eligible to have your monthly payments reduced.

That’s where IDR plans come in. Instead of setting payments according to your student loan balance and repayment term length, IDR plans set them according to your income and family size. Even better, if you have a balance remaining after completing your set number of payments, your debt may be forgiven.

These plans are beneficial for graduates right out of school who are not yet employed, are underemployed, or are working in a low-salary field. For these graduates, their paychecks often aren’t enough to cover their monthly student loan payments, and IDR means the difference between managing their student loan debt and facing default.

How IDR Plans Calculate Your Discretionary Income

IDR plans calculate your payment as a percentage of your discretionary income. The calculation is different for every plan, but your discretionary income is the difference between your adjusted gross income (AGI) and a certain percentage of the poverty level for your family size and state of residence.

Your AGI is your annual income (pretax) minus certain deductions, like student loan interest, alimony payments, or retirement fund contributions. To find the federal poverty threshold for your family size, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Using these guidelines, some borrowers even qualify for a $0 repayment on an IDR plan. That’s hugely beneficial for people dealing with unemployment or low wages. It allows them to stay on their IDR plan rather than opt for deferment or forbearance.

And there are two good reasons to take that option. Unless it’s an economic hardship deferment, which is limited to a total of three years, time spent in forbearance or deferment doesn’t count toward your forgiveness clock. However, any $0 repayments do count toward the total number of payments required for forgiveness.

Additionally, interest that accrues on your unsubsidized loans during periods of deferment and on all your loans during a forbearance capitalizes once the deferment or forbearance ends. Capitalization means the loan servicer adds interest to the principal balance. When that happens, you pay interest on the new higher balance — in other words, interest on top of interest.

But with IDR, if you’re making $0 payments — or payments that are lower than the amount of interest that accrues on your loans every month — most plans won’t capitalize any accrued interest unless you leave the program or hit an income cap. The income-contingent repayment plan (a type of IDR) is the sole exception. It capitalizes interest annually.

Student Loan Forgiveness

Any of your student loans enrolled in an IDR program are eligible for student loan forgiveness. Forgiveness means that if you make the required number of payments for your IDR plan and you have any balance remaining at the end of your term, the government wipes out the debt, and you don’t have to repay it. For example, let’s say your plan requires you to make 240 payments. After doing so, you still have $30,000 left on your loan. If you’re eligible for forgiveness, you don’t have to repay that last $30,000.

There are two types of forgiveness available to those in an IDR program: the basic forgiveness available to any borrower enrolled in IDR and public service loan forgiveness (PSLF).

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The PSLF program forgives the remaining balance of borrowers who’ve made as few as 120 qualifying payments while enrolled in IDR. To qualify, borrowers must make payments while working full-time for a public service agency or nonprofit. Public service includes doctors working in public health, lawyers working in public law, and teachers working in public education, in addition to almost any other type of government organization at any level — local, state, and federal. Nonprofits include any organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. They do not include labor unions, partisan political organizations, or government contractors working for profit.

PSLF can potentially benefit those required to have extensive education to work in low-income fields, like teachers. Unfortunately, it’s notoriously difficult to get. According to Insider, the program is still rejecting 98% of applicants after an ongoing history of rejecting borrowers who believed they qualified but weren’t granted forgiveness.

But there may be hope. In May 2021, the Biden administration announced ongoing plans to review and overhaul all the federal student loan repayment, cancellation, discharge, and forgiveness programs, including public service loan forgiveness, to better benefit borrowers, according to Insider.

For the best chance at receiving PSLF, the ED recommends you fill out an employment certification form annually and every time you change jobs. Additionally, once you reach 120 qualifying payments, you must complete a PSLF application to receive the forgiveness.

IDR Loan Forgiveness

For all other IDR borrowers, each program requires them to make a set number of payments — from 240 to 300 — before they qualify to have their loan balances forgiven. At this time, because the program isn’t yet 20 years old and no borrowers have qualified, there is no specific application process for student loan forgiveness.

According to the ED, your loan servicer tracks your number of qualifying payments and notifies you when you get close to the forgiveness date. No one yet knows if there will be a standard application form or if it will be automatic. Hopefully, as the program reaches the age when borrowers can start using the benefit, the process will become standardized.

Drawbacks to Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the biggest advantages of IDR, especially for borrowers with high balances relative to their income. But there are pros and cons of standard student loan forgiveness. First, while forgiveness sounds like it could be a significant financial benefit, the reality is after making 20 to 25 years of IDR payments, the average borrower doesn’t have any balance remaining to forgive.

And if the government does forgive your balance, the IRS counts that as income, which means you have to pay income taxes on the amount forgiven. If you have a high balance remaining and can’t pay your taxes in full, that means making multiple additional payments — this time to the IRS — just when you thought you were finally done with your student loans.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, makes a crucial change to this student loan policy. According to Section 9675, borrowers receiving a discharge of their student loans no longer have to pay income tax on any balances forgiven through Dec. 31, 2025.

That won’t help most borrowers currently enrolled or who plan to enroll in IDR. The first to become eligible for forgiveness only did so in 2019 — those who’ve been enrolled in income-contingent repayment since its beginning in 1994, as noted by the National Consumer Law Center. But some experts believe this change could become permanent, according to CNBC.

Note that balances forgiven through PSLF are always tax-exempt.

What Loans Are Eligible for IDR?

You can only repay federal direct loans under most IDR plans. But if you have an older federal family education loan (FFEL), which includes Stafford loans, or federal Perkins loan — two now-discontinued loan types — you can qualify for these IDR plans by consolidating your student loans with a federal direct consolidation loan.

Note, however, that consolidation is not the right choice for all borrowers. For example, if you consolidate a federal Perkins loan with a direct consolidation loan, you lose access to any Perkins loan forgiveness or discharge programs. Further, if you consolidate a parent PLUS loan with any other student loans, the new consolidation loan becomes ineligible for most IDR plans.

Private financial institutions have their own programs for repayment. But they aren’t eligible for any federal repayment program.


4 Types of Income-Driven Repayment Plans

There are four IDR plans for managing federal student loan debt. They all let you make a monthly payment based on your income and family size. But each differs according to who’s eligible, how your loan servicer calculates your payments, and how many payments you have to make before you qualify for forgiveness.

If you’re married, some calculations can depend on your spouse’s income if you file jointly. Because you can lose some tax benefits if you file separately, consult with a tax professional to see whether married filing jointly or married filing separately is more advantageous for your situation.

Regardless of your marital status, each IDR plan works differently. Your loan servicer can help you choose the plan that’s best for you. But it’s essential you understand the features, pros, and cons of each IDR type.

1. Income-Based Repayment Plan

Income-based repayment plans (IBRs) are likely the most well-known of all the IDR plans, but they’re also the most complicated. Depending on when you took out your loans, your monthly payment could be a more substantial chunk of your discretionary income than for newer borrowers, and you could have a longer repayment term. On the other hand, unlike some other IDR plans, this one has a favorable payment cap.

  • Monthly Payment Amount: You must pay 15% of your discretionary income if you were a new borrower before July 1, 2014, and 10% if you borrowed after that date. If the amount you’re required to pay is $5 or less, your payment is $0. If the repayment amount is more than $5 but less than $10, your payment is $10. If you’re married and your spouse owes any student loan debt, your payment amount is adjusted proportionally.
  • Discretionary Income Calculations: For IBR, discretionary income is the difference between your AGI and 150% of the poverty level for your family’s size and state of residence. Your loan servicer includes spousal income in this calculation if you’re married filing jointly. They don’t include it if you’re married filing separately.
  • Payment Cap: As long as you remain enrolled in IBR, your payment will never be more than you’d be required to pay on the 10-year standard repayment plan, regardless of how large your income grows.
  • Federal Loan Interest Subsidy: If your monthly payments are less than the interest that accrues on your loans, the government pays all the interest on your subsidized loans — including the subsidized portion of a direct consolidation loan — for up to three years. It doesn’t cover any interest on unsubsidized loans.
  • Interest Capitalization: If your monthly payments are no longer tied to your income — meaning your income has grown so large you’ve hit the payment cap — your servicer capitalizes your interest.
  • Repayment Term: If you borrowed any student loans before July 1, 2014, you must make 300 payments over 25 years. If you were a new borrower after July 1, 2014, you must make 240 payments over 20 years.
  • Eligibility: To qualify, you must meet IBR’s criteria for partial economic hardship: The annual amount you must repay on a 10-year repayment schedule must exceed 15% of your discretionary income. If you’re married and filing jointly and your spouse owes any student loan debt, your loan servicer includes this debt in the calculation. IBR excludes only the parent PLUS loans from eligibility.
  • Forgiveness: Your remaining loan balance is eligible for forgiveness after you make 20 or 25 years of payments, depending on whether you borrowed before or after July 1, 2014.

2. Pay-as-You-Earn Repayment Plan

The pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) plan is possibly the best choice for repaying your student loans — if you qualify for it. It comes with some benefits over IBR, including a potentially smaller monthly payment and repayment term, depending on when you took out your loans. It also has a unique interest benefit that limits any capitalized interest to no more than 10% of your original loan balance when you entered the program.

  • Monthly Payment Amount: You must pay 10% of your discretionary income but never more than you would be required to repay on the standard 10-year repayment schedule. If the amount is $5 or less, your payment is $0. If the amount is more than $5 but less than $10, you pay $10. If you’re married and your spouse owes any student loan debt, your payment amount is adjusted proportionally.
  • Discretionary Income Calculations: For PAYE, your servicer calculates discretionary income as the difference between your AGI and 150% of the poverty line for your state of residence. If you’re married and file jointly, they include your spouse’s income in the calculation. They don’t include it if you file separately.
  • Payment Cap: As with IBR, as long as you remain enrolled, payments can never exceed what you’d be required to repay on a standard 10-year repayment schedule, regardless of how large your income grows.
  • Federal Loan Interest Subsidy: If your monthly payments are less than the interest that accrues on your loans, the government pays all the interest on your subsidized loans for up to three years. It doesn’t cover any interest on unsubsidized loans.
  • Interest Capitalization: If your income has grown so large you’ve hit the payment cap, your servicer capitalizes your interest. But no capitalized interest can exceed 10% of your original loan balance.
  • Repayment Term: You must make 240 payments over 20 years.
  • Eligibility: To qualify, you must meet the plan’s criteria for partial financial hardship: the annual amount due is greater than 10% of your discretionary income. If you’re married and filing jointly and your spouse owes any student loan debt, this debt is included in the calculation. Additionally, you can’t have any outstanding balance remaining on a direct loan or FFEL taken out before Sept. 30, 2007. You must also have taken out at least one loan after Sept. 30, 2011. All federal direct loans are eligible for PAYE except for parent PLUS loans.
  • Forgiveness: As long as you stay enrolled, you remain eligible for forgiveness of your loan balance after 20 years of payments if any balance remains.

3. Revised Pay-as-You-Earn Repayment Plan

If you don’t meet the qualifications of partial financial hardship under PAYE or IBR, you can still qualify for an IDR plan. The revised pay-as-you-earn (REPAYE) plan is open to any direct federal loan borrower, regardless of income. Further, your payment amount and repayment terms aren’t contingent on when you borrowed. The most significant benefits of REPAYE are the federal loan interest subsidy and lack of any interest capitalization.

However, there are some definite drawbacks to REPAYE. First, there are no caps on payments. How much you must pay each month is tied to your income, even if that means you have to make payments higher than you would have on a standard 10-year repayment schedule.

Second, those who borrowed for graduate school must repay over a longer term before becoming eligible for forgiveness. That’s a huge drawback considering those who need the most help tend to be graduate borrowers. According to the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of those with six-figure student loan debt borrowed it for graduate school.

  • Monthly Payment Amount: You must pay 10% of your discretionary income. If the amount you must pay is $5 or less, your payment is $0. And if the repayment amount is more than $5 but less than $10, your payment is $10. If you’re married and your spouse owes any student loan debt, your payment amount is adjusted proportionally.
  • Discretionary Income Calculations: Your discretionary income is the difference between your AGI and 150% of the poverty line for your state of residence. If you’re married, they include both your and your spouse’s income in the calculation, regardless of whether you file jointly or separately. However, if you’re separated or otherwise unable to rely on your spouse’s income, your servicer doesn’t consider it.
  • Payment Cap: There is no cap on payments. The loan service always calculates your monthly payment as 10% of your discretionary income.
  • Federal Loan Interest Subsidy: If your monthly payment is so low it doesn’t cover the accruing interest, the federal government pays any excess interest on subsidized federal loans for up to three years. After that, they cover 50% of the interest. They also cover 50% of the interest on unsubsidized loans for the entire term.
  • Interest Capitalization: As long as you remain enrolled in REPAYE, your loan servicer never capitalizes any accrued interest.
  • Repayment Term: You must make 240 payments over 20 years if you borrowed loans for undergraduate studies. If you’re repaying graduate school debt or a consolidation loan that includes any direct loans that paid for graduate school or any grad PLUS loans, you must make 300 payments over 25 years.
  • Eligibility: Any borrower with direct loans, including grad PLUS loans, can make payments under this plan, regardless of income. If you have older loans from the discontinued FFEL program, they are only eligible if consolidated into a new direct consolidation loan. Parent PLUS loans are ineligible for REPAYE.
  • Forgiveness: As long as you remain enrolled, your loans are eligible for forgiveness after 20 years of payments for undergraduate loans or 25 years for graduate loans.

4. Income-Contingent Repayment Plan

The income-contingent repayment plan (ICR) is the oldest of the income-driven plans and the least beneficial. Your monthly payments are higher under ICR than any other plan, and you must make those payments over a longer term. Additionally, although they limit the amount of capitalized interest, it’s automatically capitalized annually whether you remain in the program or not.

There is one major plus: Parent PLUS loans are eligible. But you must still consolidate them into a federal direct consolidation loan to qualify.

  • Monthly Payment Amount: You must pay the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or what you would pay over 12 years on a fixed-payment repayment plan. If you’re married and your spouse also has eligible loans, you can repay your loans jointly under the ICR plan. If you go this route, your servicer calculates a separate payment for each of you that’s proportionate to the amount you each owe.
  • Discretionary Income Calculations: For ICR, your servicer calculates discretionary income as the difference between your AGI and 100% of the federal poverty line for your family size in your state of residence. If you’re married filing jointly, your servicer uses both your and your spouse’s income to calculate the payment size. If you’re married filing separately, they only use your income.
  • Payment Cap: There is no cap on payment size.
  • Federal Loan Interest Subsidy: The government doesn’t subsidize any interest.
  • Interest Capitalization: Your servicer capitalizes interest annually. However, it can’t be more than 10% of the original debt balance when you started repayment.
  • Repayment Term: You must make 300 payments over 25 years.
  • Eligibility: Any borrower with federal student loans, including direct loans and FFEL loans, is eligible for ICR. For parent PLUS loans to qualify, you must consolidate them into a federal direct consolidation loan.
  • Forgiveness: As long as you remain enrolled, your loans are eligible for forgiveness after 25 years of payments.

How to Apply for Income-Driven Repayment Plans

To enroll in an IDR plan, contact your student loan servicer. Your servicer is the financial company that manages your student loans and sends your monthly bill. They can walk you through applying for IDR and recommend the most beneficial plan for your unique situation. You must complete an income-driven payment plan request, which you can fill out online at Federal Student Aid or use a paper form your servicer can send you.

Because your servicer ties payments on any IDR plan to your income, they require income information. You must submit proof of income after you complete your application. Proof of income is usually in the form of your most recent federal income tax return. Have this handy when applying over the phone. They also need your AGI, which you can find on your tax return. You must also mail or fax a copy of your return before your application is complete.

It generally takes about a month to process an IDR application. If you need them to, your loan servicer can place your loans into forbearance while they process your application. You aren’t required to make a payment while your loans are in forbearance. But interest continues to accrue, which results in a larger balance.

You can change your student loan repayment plan or have your monthly payments recalculated at any time. If an IDR plan is no longer advantageous to you, you lose your job, you switch jobs, or there’s a change in your family size, contact your student loan servicer to either switch your repayment plan or have your monthly payments recalculated.

You aren’t obligated to do so if the change would result in higher monthly payments. However, you must recertify each year.

Recertification

You must recertify your income and family size annually by providing your student loan servicer with a copy of your annual tax return. You must recertify even if there are no changes in your family size or income.

Loan servicers send reminder notices when it’s time to recertify. If you don’t submit your annual recertification by the deadline, your loan servicer disenrolls you, and your monthly payment reverts to what it would be on the standard 10-year repayment schedule.

You can always reenroll if you miss your recertification deadline. But there are a couple of reasons not to be lax about recertification.

First, if your income increases to the point at which your monthly payment would be higher than it would be on the standard 10-year repayment schedule, you can’t requalify for either the PAYE or IBR plans. But if you stay in the program, your payments are capped no matter how much your income increases.

Second, if you’re automatically disenrolled from your IDR plan because of a failure to recertify, any interest that accrues during the time it takes to get reenrolled is capitalized. That means your servicer adds interest to the balance owed. Even after you reenroll in your IDR plan, you begin earning interest on the new capitalized balance, thereby increasing the amount owed. And that’s true even if you place your loans into a temporary deferment or forbearance.


How to Choose an IDR Plan

The easiest way to choose the best IDR plan is to discuss it with your loan servicer. They can run your numbers, tell you which plans you qualify for, and quote you monthly payments under each plan.

Don’t just choose the plan with the lowest monthly bill unless you can’t afford a higher payment. Instead, balance your current needs with the long-term costs of any plan. For example, one plan might offer a lower monthly payment but a longer repayment term. Further, although your interest rate remains fixed on all the IDR plans, some offer benefits like interest subsidies that can reduce the overall amount you must repay.

Even if you think you’ll qualify for PSLF, which could get you total loan forgiveness in as little as 10 years, it’s still worth it to weigh your options. Currently, too few borrowers qualify for PSLF, so it might not work out to pin your hopes on it until the program becomes more streamlined.

Note that IDR plans aren’t suitable for everyone. Before enrolling in any IDR plan, plug your income, family size, and loan information into the federal government’s loan simulator. The tool gives you a picture of your potential monthly payments, overall amount to repay, and any balance eligible for forgiveness.


Final Word

If you’re struggling to repay your student loans or facing the possibility of default, an IDR plan probably makes sense for you. But they aren’t without their drawbacks. It pays to research all your options, including the possibility of picking up a side gig to get those student loans paid off faster.

Student loan debt can be a tremendous burden, preventing borrowers from doing everything from saving for a home to saving for retirement. The faster you can get rid of the debt, the better.

Source: moneycrashers.com

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4. Motley Fool Options

Motley Fool Options is a beginner-friendly service for options traders. In the aggregate, its recommended options trades are profitable a staggering 85% of the time, although (as always) past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Motley Fool Options also has a comprehensive education platform called Options University. It’s designed to prepare investors who may or may not be absolutely clueless about options trading to more than hold their own in the field, regardless of whether stock prices rise or fall.

All this for $999 per year.

Who It’s For: Motley Fool Options is clear that it’s made for novice- to intermediate-level options traders looking to use options to boost their stock market earnings without committing huge sums of money to the practice or using sophisticated, high-risk strategies.

That said, all options trading involves significant risk, so Motley Fool Options is not for investors more comfortable with a buy-and-hold-only investment strategy, nor for new investors in general.

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5. Everlasting Stocks

Everlasting Stocks is a newer stock picking service built to mimic the personal portfolio of Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool co-founder. Priced at $299 per year, it’s overseen by the same team behind the Motley Fool Stock Advisor service and touts the same eye-popping 4x returns over the S&P 500 since that service’s inception.

New Everlasting Stocks members get immediate access to 15 top Motley Fool stock picks, plus new stock picks every month. Tom Gardner owns every stock in the portfolio, giving subscribers confidence that he and his team have skin in the game. And Everlasting Stocks has the same risk-free 30-day trial period that eases investors into Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers.

Who It’s For: Everlasting Stocks is ideal for Motley Fool subscribers who want the added conviction of investing in companies Tom Gardner owns. The modest pricing is beginner-friendly too, regardless of investing strategy.

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6. Everlasting Portfolio

Everlasting Portfolio is another Gardner-validated portfolio, albeit considerably more expensive at $2,999 per year than Everlasting Stocks. Backed by $15 million of The Motley Fool’s own money, the portfolio contains the only individual stocks Gardner himself owns (some of which also make an appearance in the Everlasting Stocks service).

Each stock pick comes with a recommended allocation as a total percentage of the investor’s portfolio, plus periodic buy and sell recommendations to keep subscribers’ holding in line with Gardner’s own.

In other words, Everlasting Portfolio is the closest regular Motley Fool subscribers can get to profiting directly from a co-founder’s money moves.

Who It’s For: Everlasting Portfolio is not cheap, so it’s best for well-capitalized investors aiming to replicate the investing success of a Motley Fool co-founder.

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7. Everlasting: Industry and Trend Packages

Like the Rule Breakers industry and trend packages, Tom Gardner’s Everlasting packages drill down on specific trends and opportunities for buy-and-hold investors in the 2020s and beyond.

In keeping with the theme of Everlasting Stocks and the Everlasting Portfolio, these services’ stock picks are potential game-changers for their respective industries — and names that Gardner feels good about owning himself. Unless otherwise noted, each Everlasting package costs $1,999 per year.

Cloud Disruptors 2020

This package focuses exclusively on the best stocks to buy in the cloud computing space. According to The Motley Fool, Tom Gardner believes in his picks so much that he staked $500,000 of his own money on them.

Global Partners

This package surfaces high-potential, mainly micro-cap stocks trading on equities markets outside the United States. In 2019, it more than doubled the performance of the S&P 500, according to The Motley Fool.

Rising Stars 2021

This package targets small- and micro-cap stocks with market capitalizations under $6 billion. That’s about one-twentieth of the $145 billion market capitalization of the average Stock Advisor pick, according to The Motley Fool. The original Rising Stars portfolio, launched in 2017, outpaced broader small-cap indexes by about 2.5 times since inception.

The Ownership Portfolio

This package is a portfolio made up solely of founder-led companies — that is, companies whose founders remain involved in day-to-day operations. Tom Gardner and his team back it with $250,000 of The Motley Fool’s own money, and the portfolio’s early returns have been impressive: 650%, compared with 95% for the S&P 500 over the same period.

IPO Trailblazers

Tom Gardner and his team built this package to capitalize on the wave of initial public offerings (IPOs) coming to market in the late 2010s and early 2020s.

Pointing to the success of high-profile IPOs like Beyond Meat (up 163% on its IPO date) and Zoom (up 72% on its IPO date and a lot more in the months that followed), IPO Trailblazers invites participants to cash in on what The Motley Fool calls “the Golden Age of IPOs.” IPO Trailblazers is backed by $1 million of The Motley Fool’s own money.

Boss Mode

Boss Mode consolidates every Everlasting package in a single master service priced at $4,999 per year. If you plan to purchase three or more Everlasting services, Boss Mode is a better deal.

Who They’re For: Each Everlasting package provides exposure to a different market sector, trend, or investor thesis, all validated by Tom Gardner and his stock-picking team. Because they’re so specific, individual Everlasting portfolios are best used as supplements to diversified investment portfolios rather than the main focus of users’ investments. But the fact that they’re backed by real money from Tom Gardner or The Motley Fool lends confidence and conviction to the picks.

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8. Market Pass

Market Pass is a package deal that includes subscriptions to Motley Fool Stock Advisor, Motley Fool Rule Breakers, and an exclusive stock picking service called Ultimate Portfolio.

The bulk of its $1,499 annual price tag is borne by Ultimate Portfolio, which The Motley Fool says has outperformed the broader market by more than 2x since inception. As the name suggests, Ultimate Portfolio is a collection of what The Motley Fool calls “the right stocks to buy right now,” from names that have consistently beaten the market to up-and-coming companies poised to take off in the months and years ahead.

Who It’s For: Market Pass is built for people who want to profit from the insights and recommendations produced by the Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers teams while adding exposure to an exclusive custom portfolio that The Motley Fool believes has high potential to beat the market over time. Whether the $1,499 price point is worth it really depends on how well the Ultimate Portfolio performs.

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9. Rule Your Retirement

Rule Your Retirement is a modestly priced service ($149 per year) for the long-term investor looking ahead to a stable, prosperous retirement. The package includes:

  • Access to Robert Brokamp, CFP®, a financial advisor who has been doling out advice to current and future retirees for over a decade
  • Three sets of model retirement portfolios with custom allocation and rebalancing advice for each
  • Insights and guidance around specific mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to supplement or replace an all-stock portfolio
  • Social Security tips and tricks
  • More content about topics of interest to current and future retirees, including estate planning, long-term care insurance, and more

Who It’s For: Rule Your Retirement is an excellent resource for investors planning for retirement and for those managing their nest eggs after they’ve left the workforce for good. With a relatively low annual fee and access to a financial planner, it offers very good value for active retirement investors and those who wish they’d asked more questions sooner.

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10. Real Estate Winners

Real Estate Winners is an industry-specific service that helps subscribers build market-beating portfolios with outsize exposure to U.S. and international real estate markets, always through publicly traded entities like real estate investment trusts (REITs). Priced at $249 per year, its highlights include:

  • At least one real estate investment opportunity recommendation each month, with more if the Real Estate Winners team finds timely picks that can’t wait for next month
  • A quarterly rotating list of The Motley Fool’s top 10 real estate picks
  • Access to a community of real estate investors and content about real estate investing

Who It’s For: Real Estate Winners is built for novice and intermediate investors looking to build income-producing real estate investment portfolios that consistently beat the market. Since real estate is just one of many market sectors that round out a diversified investment portfolio, Real Estate Winners is best used as part of a comprehensive investing strategy.

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11. Mogul

Mogul is another real estate investing service that builds on the Real Estate Winners foundation and offers access to more opportunities in the space — including those not available to the general public. Priced at $2,999 per year, its main selling points are:

  • A proprietary Mogul Score rating system that The Motley Fool uses to evaluate real estate investing opportunities
  • Timely recommendations for both public real estate investing opportunities (such as REITs) and private placement deals not traded on any exchange
  • Exclusive, detailed real estate tax guidance from The Motley Fool’s tax partners
  • Private events and enrichment opportunities for members, including exclusive webinars, workshops, and in-person gatherings

Who It’s For: Mogul is pricey. But, as one of the few Motely Fool packages not oriented around traditional stock market investments, it’s worth the cost for serious real estate investors with ample capital to invest in the public and private placement deals it surfaces.

Because private placement real estate deals generally are available only to accredited investors, Mogul isn’t a good deal for subscribers who can’t consistently clear the accredited threshold. For individual investors, that means those consistently earning $200,000 per year ($300,000 for married couples) or with a net worth in excess of $1 million.

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Final Word

The Motley Fool offers a subscription product for everyone. At least, for just about every type of serious equities market participant.

From the flagship Motley Fool Stock Advisor to industry- and trend-specific Rule Breakers and Everlasting packages, The Motley Fool offers more premium services and financial content than just about any other peer-driven investor resource, including Seeking Alpha — its current rival in the space. It’s been doing so for more than two decades and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

The Motley Fool does owe some of its longevity to an enthusiastic and loyal group of core members. But those members wouldn’t keep coming back without its other big differentiator: a seemingly never-ending supply of proprietary wisdom and advice from co-founders Tom and David Gardner and their team of market experts. If you do eventually come to the conclusion that a Motley Fool subscription (or several) is worth the cost, you’ll have them to thank.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Moving With Kids: What Did They Love, Hate, And Learn?

Deciding to move is exciting, but the actual moving part can be downright tough. You try to plan for everything while juggling the process of settling into the new place. But, when you’re moving with kids, it’s a different challenge altogether! Not only are you tasked with helping them understand why they’re moving to a new place, they need help adjusting once you’re all there.

When we first decided to move, our youngest wasn’t on board, but our oldest was. It took a lot of discussion, but eventually everyone was excited for this new chapter. It’s been a month and a half since we moved, so I decided to sit down with my two kiddos, Kennedy (age 14) and Kelsey (age 13), to get their perspective on all things moving and the new house. 

moving with kidsmoving with kids
Kennedy and Kelsey sit down to give their own perspective on moving.

“What was your most favorite part of moving?”

Kennedy: “I love my new room!”
Kelsey: “We didn’t have a bathtub in our last house, so being able to take baths and use bath bombs is fun.”
Me: “Finally getting into the home we’ve been building for the past 6 months. In my head I’ve been planning things out, but it was finally time to make this house our home.”

TIP: When moving with kids, a great way to ease the transition is to celebrate any new home features that maybe you didn’t have before. In our case, we surprised the girls with bath gifts to celebrate having a new bathroom! It’s a small gesture, but can really help if they’re struggling to feel at ease. 

moving with kidsmoving with kids
To celebrate having a new bathroom, we surprised the girls with bath bombs and nail polish.

“What was the most stressful part of moving?” 

Kennedy: Figuring out which box I put my stuff in because I wasn’t very specific with my labeling.
Kelsey: Unpacking took FOREVER.
Me: Coordinating between all the deliveries and different companies who came to the house the first couple days. After that, getting unpacked and still enjoying the new neighborhood, it was definitely a balance.”

TIP: Moving with kids can be another level of stress not only for you, but for them. Having a smart, well-communicated moving plan and organized system in place can help minimize moving anxiety. 

(READ MORE: 5 Stress-Free Tips to Settle Into Your New Home Build!)

moving with kidsmoving with kids

“How have you made your new room feel like home?”

Kennedy: I’m redecorating my room the way that I want and what makes me happy.
Kelsey: I’m being more intentional with my room décor and only keeping things that I really like.
Mom: Even though I’m a DIY/ home décor blogger, I’m letting the girls take full control on their rooms. I haven’t decided if I’m even going to share their rooms on social media out of respect for their privacy. They’re getting older and privacy is a big thing right now.

“What do you wish you’d done to make the moving process easier?”

Kennedy: I should have labeled my boxes better.
Kelsey: I shouldn’t have dumped all my boxes out at once; I should have unpacked them one at a time.
Me: We didn’t have the wire racks put in the closets and wanted to do built ins instead. We should have installed the build-in closet system prior to moving. 

moving with kidsmoving with kids
Kelsey learned the hard way that dumping all the boxes at once wasn’t a good idea.

“What do you feel you need in the new environment? What are your concerns?”

Kennedy: Having everything in place and set up before we go back to school.
Kelsey: Making new friends in the neighborhood.
Mom: I want the girls to get adjusted to being in new schools and hopefully making new friends. We live in a great neighborhood, but they’re both in new schools this year and I want them to not feel so isolated like they did last year.

“What were you most thankful for during the moving process?”

Kennedy: The weather wasn’t too hot and we have a lot more room in our new house to move around.
Kelsey: I feel safer now that we live in a gated community.
Mom: The girls were able to go paddle board on the lake and go to the pool while we did the boring unpacking stuff. It’s great that they had that option and we felt safe letting them go do those things on their own. 

One of the perks of the new house is having a little lake behind the house for the girls to paddle board.

Always Remember to Check In and Show Gratitude

I loved sitting down and hearing what the girls had to say about moving and getting settled. Prior to moving, we all talked about packing, labeling, and unpacking — but in true teenager fashion, they didn’t quite listen. Now, they know firsthand why those plans were in place, and it gave us an opportunity to talk about what they’d learned and would do differently in the future. So take note, moving with kids can create some teachable moments!

Still, I give huge kudos to these two because they have been a tremendous help. Between loading the moving truck, unpacking, helping with the dogs, and countless other things, we were able to have a pretty successful move. Now that we’re almost two months into our new home, the move doesn’t seem that bad and now we can focus on making new memories as a family. 

Questions About Building a New Home?

If you’re considering a new home build, check out Homes.com’s “How to Build” guide, a comprehensive look at the process from start to finish. From financing to finishing touches, it’s your one-stop resource for all your home building questions!


Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

Source: homes.com

What You Need to Know Before You Move to Massachusetts

When it comes to the New England region, Massachusetts is the most populous state. Home to prestigious schools, many historic sites, and booming businesses, this coastal state has become the sixth-most popular destination for foreign travelers. The Bay State is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, and the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Great for urbanites and nature lovers alike, Massachusetts has a variety of different communities and regions.

Boston SkylineBoston Skyline

Housing Trends in Massachusetts

Since Massachusetts is a popular state, you’ll want to get on board with home scouting quickly. One of the most prominent housing trends in Massachusetts is the lack of supply. This shortage has created a surge on home prices according to a recent statement by the Eric Berman, director at the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. In fact, there were fewer than 10,000 single-family homes for sale in December and January in Massachusetts, compared to 38,000 in September 2006.

A Seller’s Market

Yes, it’s a seller’s market in Massachusetts. Here’s the lowdown. Although single-family home sales in January were slightly down — 1.2 percent — compared with the same period last year, the median price jumped 4 percent to $369,000, per the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. For condominiums, the median price increased more than 6 percent to $355,000 for the month of January, though sales fell by about 7 percent.

Why the price hikes? It’s due in part to the lack of available land for new construction. Also, in some of the more affluent areas, people seem to be staying put in favor of remodeling or adding extra space. Together, these decisions may limit housing supply – at least in some areas – for first-time buyers and moderate budgets.

Renting in and Around Massachusetts

Should you rent instead? If the idea of buying appeals to you but you just can’t pull it off, renting may be an option. The average rent for an apartment in Boston is $3,001, a 3% increase compared to $2,925 in 2017. For this price, you may get – on average – 815 to 986 square feet.

But other cities may be more reasonable. As of May 2018, the average rent for an apartment in Springfield was $1,061 which is a 0.94% increase from last year when the average rent was $1051, and a 1.23% increase from April 2018 when the average rent was $1048. Naturally, you need to factor in your location needs and maximum tolerance for commuting.

Primary Housing Styles in Massachusetts

With a history of settlement since the Pilgrims in 1620, New England boasts a spectrum of architectural styles that are older and more varied than in any other part of the country. One of these, not surprisingly, is the Cape Cod. It is one of America’s oldest home styles and has a very cozy feel. Other popular styles include an easy-living ranch and a country-style with a wrap-around porch.

Harvard SquareHarvard Square

Multi-Faceted Massachusetts

Massachusetts has something to offer whether you prefer the beach or big city bustle. Here are a few places to keep in mind when you are ready to put down some roots. What is your neighborhood style?

  • The Quainter Side of MA: To experience the quainter side of Massachusetts, you may want to head about an hour’s drive north of Boston to the seaside town of Rockport for, yes, rocky beaches, seagulls, and probably a lobster roll. Marblehead, a town of about 20,000 people, is less than an hour north of Boston and is often called the birthplace of the American Navy. Its known for its yachting, sailing, kayaking, etc.
  • Mountain Hip: Great Barrington has a Railroad Street, the Guthrie Center, eateries and folk music with some skiing close by if you like winter sports.
  • Outdoor Adventure: 90 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through Massachusetts, so get your hiking boots and head out for a long-distance or day hike. Or walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile, brick-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites in Boston.
  • Way Cool: Three of Boston’s neighborhoods get high marks for cool and are cited by the Boston Globe: (1) Jamaica Plain as “edgy cool,” (2) Allston – Brighton as well-educated and “up-and-coming,” and (3) Davis Square for trendy, walkable, and “prime hipness.”
  • Charmed I’m Sure: Massachusetts really turns up the charm in Cambridge. A classic university town, here you can find cobblestone streets, musicians busking, street vendor artists and small cafes. Harvard Square in the center is always action filled and great for people watching.
  • Great Day for a Swim: Woods Hole in southern Cape Cod could make for a perfect day at the beach. This area shows off a great bike path along the coast leading to Falmouth, golden beaches, aquariums devoted to marine biology, shops, and the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. Provincetown, aka P-town, is another Cape Cod city that attracts events like the International Film Festival, a strong LGBTQ community, art galleries, and craft stores.
  • High Crime: North Adams, Fall River, and Brockton are areas to watch for. You can also check current FBI stats to help you determine whether to pass through or put down roots.
  • Tech-Savvy: Cambridge is home to MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology so there’s potential recruiter heaven. According to Built in Boston, there are 50 start-ups to watch over the next year, as Boston’s tech sector flourishes and venture capital firms pour money into edtech, fintech, and healthtech.

It seems that modern Massachusetts is also somewhat of a global leader in biotech, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade. Perhaps this is why Forbes ranks Boston #30 in its list of Best Places for Business and Careers and #77 in job growth.

Find Your Perfect Home in Massachusetts

We can help you find your perfect home in Massachusetts. Whether it is to rent or buy, start your search on Homes.com today!


Rana Waxman parlays years of work experience in several fields into web content creation aligned with client needs. Rana’s versatile voice is supported by a zest for research, a passion for photography, and desire to provide clients with a purposeful presence online. In her non-writing hours, Rana is a happy yogini, constant walker, avid reader, and sometimes swimmer.

Source: homes.com

Part 3 – Credit Scores Broken Down – Age of Credit – Credit Absolute, How Credit Scores Work

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The 3rd part of the “How Credit Scores Work” series, Derick Vogel explains Age of Credit and its part in your total credit score.

As Derick explains in the video, age of credit, as part of your credit score, makes up about 15% of your total score, which comes out to 82.5 points. It is also probably the simplest of factors that make up your total score as it’s fairly straightforward. Basically, the “age of credit” factor is based on when your credit report starts – or, the age of your credit report.

For instance, if the first time you ever used credit – such as your first credit card – was in 2000, the age of your credit would be about 19 years, at the time of this article being posted. That seems simple enough, right? Well, it is, however, it is still important to understand how you could potentially influence the age of your credit.

How Your “Age of Credit” Could Change

A credit factor such as “age of credit” doesn’t seem like something that could ever change. It’s based simply off the oldest of your credit accounts. But let’s consider an example scenario that could change your “age of credit”.

Say, for example, your first credit account is a credit card that you opened in the year 2000. You used that credit card for a few years with some positive payments but also have a few late payments and, perhaps, you even default on the card. Years later you are working on repairing your credit and decide to try and dispute the record of that card – given that it has some late payments and that you defaulted on the card which are negative items on your credit report.

Let’s say that you were able to successfully dispute those negative items from your first card which, in turn, removed the record of that card from your credit report. Now, let’s also say that after you had that card you didn’t open another line of credit or get a new credit card until 2015. Once you’ve successfully disputed your first card, hoping to improve your credit by removing a negative item, your “age of credit” would now only go back to 2015 rather than 2000. This would take 15 years off the age of your credit.

Now, remember, “age of credit” is worth 82.5 points of your total score so, by removing that first credit card from your report you could drastically affect your score. Despite removing a negative item, you could end up reducing your score rather than improving it. That’s why it’s important to understand every aspect of your credit report rather than just trying to go in and dispute any and all negative items.

If you’re not sure how you should approach repairing your credit or have any questions, please give us a call today!

Source: creditabsolute.com

Charleston, SC: From Vacation Destination to Home Base

Historic Charleston, SC is not only the second largest and the oldest of cities in South Carolina, but according to World Population Review, it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the United States as well. The reason, aside from the preservation of the historic charm of Charleston, the revitalization of downtown is not only drawing people in but making them want to stay forever. However, it wasn’t always been like that.

A symbol of hospitality, the Pineapple Fountain in Charleston’s Waterfront Park

Joseph P Riley, the longest standing mayor of 40 years in Charleston, was at the helm of revitalizing Charleston. It was taken from a city in despair with a high crime rate, to one that continuously makes the list of top vacation destinations. According to Travel and Leisure, Charleston SC has been ranked their “Top city in the United States” every year since 2013. The revitalization brought new places to eat, new things to do, and most importantly 6 million people each year who come to visit. The growth and expansion also brought additional jobs and according to USA Today, Charleston, SC was ranked #5 in 2018 for rising median income.

The Charleston Harbor and the famed Ravenel Bridge as seen from Pitt Street Bridge

The appeal of a beautiful city, amazing weather, tons of activities, and financial prosperity quickly turned Charleston, SC from vacation destination to a place to call home. As a result, the housing market shows no signs of slowing down compared to other cities across the nation. Due to the demand for housing, there is an increase in home values. With more people wanting to move to Charleston and the surrounding area, the real estate supply is having a hard time keeping up with the demand. My family and I have witnessed this first hand, in the past 6 years since we have lived in the Charleston area, a steady increase in our own home value. The increase in property values, in turn, makes buying a home in Charleston a very smart financial investment. To sweeten the deal, if this is your primary residence, you may qualify for a break in your property taxes. An even greater appeal to families are the amazing schools that rank at the top of the state.

Balcony view of King Street from Belmond Charleston Place Hotel

Not only has Charleston, SC attracted retirees and families over the years, but the appeal to the younger generations has been on the rise as well. With a college campus nestled into the heart of downtown Charleston, many graduates are sticking around after graduation and others are coming from other cities. According to World Population Review, the median age is 34 thanks to the booming social scene, increase in jobs, and overall appeal of Charleston, SC. The year-round ideal temperatures keep this city very active. Within the last couple of years, downtown Charleston has seen an added a bike rental company, for those who want to get around and see the city or another means of transportation. It has also seen an increase in the fitness industry and the array of studios that are popping up. All of which are an appeal to the younger generations.

Joseph P Riley Park, home of the Charleston Riverdogs and named after the mayor who changed the scope of Charleston

While Charleston, SC has been the perfect spot for a family vacation, destination wedding, or even a romantic getaway, it has won the hearts of many. You can’t help but fall in love with the charm, the deep history, and the overall beauty of this city. Couple that with a booming economy and it’s easy to understand why so many people call Charleston, SC home.


Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

Source: homes.com

What are the Ideal Homes for America’s Generations?

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When it comes to homes, there’s no one size fits all – or in this case, one size fits all generations. Individuals and families age and transition, and so do their real estate needs. While one segment may be snatching up luxury condos downtown, others may be searching for a sprawling estate on land. Knowing what each generation is seeking in their next home will make you a better seller or investor. From Generation Z to Baby Boomers and in between, each group requires specific needs and desires in their homes.

Millennials, Geration X, and Baby Boomers road signs 3d Illustration.Millennials, Geration X, and Baby Boomers road signs 3d Illustration.

Generation Z

By far the youngest of the generations, the vast majority of Generation Z is still in high school with the oldest just now reaching their mid-twenties. You won’t find many Generation Z buyers. Instead, these are the young adults staking claim on the rise of communal multi-family student housing popular in many college towns. Due to secondary education, crippling student loans, and transitional life plans, most are opting to rent rather than buy – primarily due to finances and primarily due to much of their future is still up in the air.

Steve Cook, former VP of Public Affairs at NAR, explains that “though the oldest members of Generation Z are just entering home-buying age (23-25 years old), they have learned a lot from their millennial brothers and sisters”.  A recent PropertyShark study found Generational Zers would sacrifice location and an easy commute, but not space and amenities such as smart appliances and smart homes. He goes on further to state that “Generation Z also prizes parking space far more than energy efficiency in a home, quite the opposite of Millennials”.

You can expect a heavy demand for communal style apartment living as Generation Z leaves on-campus student housing. With demand for convenience, technology, and location, you’ll find these young adults cohabitating for financial reasons and also a desire to be near the hub of the social scene.

Millennials

By and large, this is the group that wants to buy houses – eventually. With the youngest of millennials fresh out of college and the oldest creeping on 40, these young professionals are balancing work life, home life, social scene, finances and budgeting… and student loan debt. Researchers have found that home ownership declined the most significantly in the age group of 30 and below. This decline is attributed to student loan debt and also to a delay in millennials marrying & having children as opposed to previous generations.

Happy, young couple getting keys to new home from realtor.Happy, young couple getting keys to new home from realtor.

Statistically, the millennials that have purchased homes are the ones that have settled down with a family – although there are single millennial homeowners. Whether they’re buying or renting, the Millennial Generation is the driving force in real estate. With over 80 million millennials, this group has the numbers to dictate not only the home buying market but the rental market as well. Specifically, millennials tend to start gravitating towards the suburbs as they age, while the youngest of this generation still opt for downtown city living. While Generation Z is all about the communal multi-family housing, 75% of millennials are opting for single-family homes. Not surprisingly, technology is also a large factor for the Millennial Generation, including green technology.

Generation X

More removed from transitional and communal living, Generation X ranges from mid-thirties to pre-retirement. With almost 62 million people in Generation X, this group has distinctive needs that set them apart from Generation Z and the Millennial Generation. By and large, Generation X has made the trek to a single-family home in the ‘burbs. This generation typically resides in larger homes due to expanding families, multi-generational housing due to aging parents, and also due to increased salaries and financial stability.

With increased financial stability, Generation X can afford to buy nicer, larger homes that sit on spacious lots. This generation isn’t looking to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Instead, this generation may want more land to “play on,” media rooms to lounge in and enjoy at their leisure, and expansive, professional kitchens for entertaining. Interestingly enough, this is also one of the generations that earned their stripes in real estate by buying and surviving (or not) the recession, so as they recover, they may also be more timid in their purchases.

Baby Boomers

Near the top of the largest home buying generation is the Baby Boomer Generation, with 32% recently buying homes. With the youngest boomers in their early 50s and most retired from their careers, this generation is arguably the most financially secure. While many opt to “age in place,” their needs may change over time. Due to age and health, many baby boomers prefer smaller, one-level single-family homes. Boomers are seeking low-maintenance finishes, flexible spaces, and accessible design. Experienced in home buying (and selling), baby boomers are cautious and precise when buying a home. They typically know what they want and don’t want to settle.

An older couple holding hands in front of home in depth of field image.An older couple holding hands in front of home in depth of field image.

Baby boomers are also more likely to pick up stakes from their homestead and head to sunnier destinations like Florida. In part to the boomers, resort market sales increased by over 50% in the last year. The majority of baby boomers are female, over 50% actually, and as they continue to age, a new multi-generational trend has developed – Granny Pods. This new trend allows female boomers to maintain independence while being near family as they age in place.

There Is No One Size Fits All

While one home might fit one generation, it may be totally wrong for the needs of the next generation. Each generation has specific preferences to meet their needs. However, combined these generations are dictating the future of real estate and home design.


Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

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Source: homes.com

Top U.S. Cities to Find the Oldest and Newest Homes for Sale

Let’s face it — after a year of quarantining and social distancing, Zoom socials, working from the couch instead of a bustling office, being at home has gotten a bit old. Even brand new houses can feel “same old, same old” when we’re unable to travel, visit friends, or spend the day reading in a coffee shop instead of our living rooms. Still, when it comes to houses, the difference between feeling old and being old is significant. And while some people love the history and character of older homes, others prefer that new paint smell, sleek architecture and state-of-the-art appliances. So, we wanted to know: where in the United States are the oldest and newest homes for sale? Here’s what we found!

Methodology

Using Homes.com’s “Year Built” filter, we searched for listings within each city built by 1940, before 2000, in 2000 or later, and between 2016 and 2020. These date ranges allowed us to separate listings into four categories: pre-war homes, older homes, newer homes, and modern homes. To establish parameters for “older” and “newer” houses, we looked to arguably the most important part of a house—the roof. Roofing typically lasts between 20-30 years. We decided on the earlier end of needing a replacement roof, and determined any house built before 2000 to be “older,” while anything built in 2000 or later (and just reaching the age of needing a first roof replacement) is “newer.” For the most modern homes in our review, we looked to the last four years for listings in every city.

oldest and newest homesoldest and newest homes

Pre-War Home Listings

Homes built between 1890 and 1940 underwent a transition in both design and function, developed with a greater emphasis on artistry and comfort. Decorative moldings, soaring ceilings, and charming fireplaces became standard elements in pre-war home architecture, and many of these features make such houses even more attractive to today’s buyers. But where will buyers looking for pre-war houses have the most luck? The Eastern United States.

oldest and newest homesoldest and newest homes

Providence, Rhode Island has the highest number of pre-war houses for sale, with almost 45% of the city’s overall listings built by 1940. Despite a devastating hurricane in 1954 and $41 million dollars worth of damage, the city’s pre-war homes remain standing. Six other Northeastern cities—New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, and Pittsburgh—also have significant numbers of pre-war home listings. It’s worth noting that all seven of these cities have pre-revolutionary roots and are home to some of the earliest European settlements of the United States. While today’s pre-war houses aren’t that old, it’s fitting to find so many of them in cities with such historic beginnings.

Older Homes Across America

If you aren’t looking for a house built before the invention of color television but still want something with age and character, homes built before 2000 make up at least half of the listings in most of the 20 cities with the highest numbers of older homes. Interestingly, many of these cities also rank highly among cities with the most pre-war listings. 

oldest and newest homesoldest and newest homes

Both Washington D.C., at the top of the list with over 69% of older homes in the city’s listings, and Minneapolis, filling the final spot on the list at 49%, have significant numbers of pre-war listings as well. Of the 20 cities with the most older homes for sale, only seven are not also among the 20 cities with the most pre-war home listings—Indianapolis, Virginia Beach, Dallas, San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, and Phoenix.

New Millennium, New Homes

The turn of the century ushered in new styles of houses, from smart homes to tiny homes, but also new industries and job markets. Advancements in agriculture, technology, and manufacturing meant expanded opportunities for college graduates and others seeking stable and future-facing employment—often in unexpected places. As a result, lesser known cities with ties to such industries, like Raleigh, Portland, and San Diego, experienced notable population growth after the year 2000, and all of those relocated people needed somewhere to live. New construction was the answer.

While booming job markets, affordable housing, and higher standards of living may explain construction in many of the cities with the most newer homes for sale, the case may be one of rebuilding rather than breaking new ground in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left 80% of the city under water, when the failure of the city’s levee systems resulted in severe flooding in much of its residential areas. Today, new construction constitutes almost 41% of home listings in New Orleans.

Modern Living

If state of the art appliances, brand new building materials, and the latest technology are important components of your future home, you may want something built in the last four years. While most of the cities with high numbers of pre-war homes were located in the Northeast, modern construction seems to be more spread out across the southern part of the country. 

New Orleans takes the number one spot again, with almost 22% of the city’s listings made up of modern homes. Cities that have continued to grow alongside key industries, like Raleigh and Seattle, also make an appearance on this list. Of the 20 cities with the most modern homes for sale, all but three—San Antonio, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City, also have the highest numbers of new homes for sale. If you’re looking to be at the top of a house’s line of ownership, look southward.

Final Thoughts

With rising costs of living and low inventory of affordable housing, finding a home can be overwhelming. Whether you’re looking for a home that saw an American family through World War II or a home that reflects the latest technology and architectural trends, Homes.com can take the stress out of house hunting. Explore what’s available in your area and start your home-buying experience today!


Homes.com is where you connect with real estate professionals to find your forever home the #simplysmarterway

Source: homes.com

Home Ownership Trends in 2019, By Age and Income

Taking the plunge into homeownership can be daunting, especially for first-time buyers. There are seemingly endless options when it comes to selecting where to live, what type of home to buy, and understanding all the money-related facets to home buying. Housing market trends are constantly changing due to price and preference fluctuations, such as home design popularity and neighborhood values rising and falling.

As these trends change, they impact home buying among all generations and income levels. The ways we approach homeownership vary from person to person. Online home improvement network Porch recently conducted a study to identify what these home buying trends actually look like.

Explore the results below and compare how your home buying experience relates or is different from those across generations and among differing home values.

How much do we put down on our homes?

Purchasing a house involves way more than signing your name and being handed the keys. Beyond the surface-level actions of viewing homes and making decisions lies a world of contracts, agreements, approvals, estimates, inspections, and more. One of the first major decisions someone faces when buying a home is determining how much money they can commit to on a down payment. Among those surveyed, the majority were able to contribute between 0-10% of their total home cost on a down payment.

Financing a down payment can come from a variety of sources but the top two methods among survey respondents were self-funding their down payment or using their income from a previous home to put down on their new home.

Age and household values: who is paying the most?

Financial stability is less and less of a possibility for many Americans, with the ideal home being defined more by someone’s means and less by their desires. With the exception of notoriously inflated housing market prices in large cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, many experts recommend that a home’s value should not exceed 2.5 times a person’s annual income. This data indicates that most fall within those parameters, but many of those surveyed are feeling the brunt of historically housing prices and steadily rising costs across the board.

Overall, home values appear cap out at around $300,000 for about 90% of respondents under the age of 25. In fact, younger generations appear to have a more concentrated range in housing prices. This could be due to younger members of the workforce who are more likely to be saving for the first home. Starter homes typically have lower home values than a second or third home, as they represent a stepping-stone for first-time buyers just entering into the role of a homeowner.

Income, related to home ownership and home buying

When comparing household incomes to home values among age groups, the data implies that this relationship looks like a curve—the youngest and oldest respondents making less money than those between 25-64 years old. The outlier age groups are either entering salaries roles for the first time or they are retired and sustain themselves on a fixed income. Generations in the middle are more likely to earn more and their income levels are more evenly distributed, with between 25-35% of people ages 25-64 earning over $120,000.

An observable rise in housing costs is expected to continue, specifically in desirable cities and metropolitan areas. As a result, many residents are being priced out of the neighborhoods they have lived in for generations. With the development of new condos and luxury housing on the rise, there is a looming crisis that will need to be addressed by these city officials to find a balance between attracting new real estate investments and protecting the local residents within their growing cities.

Find the houses you’re looking for at Homes.com

As younger generations enter the workforce, they will be the next in line to take the plunge into home ownership. Knowing more about the ins and outs of the housing market can help equip these future-first-time-buyers with the right tools to make the decision that is best for their goals. At Homes.com, you can search for properties in your desired area to see what appeals to you and begin making the first steps to thinking about buying a home. Being prepared is the first step, so head over to our Simply Smarter Home Search to begin the process early.


Amanda Woolley heads up public relations and communications at Porch, a leading home repair marketplace. Porch helps homeowners make home maintenance and repair easy by connecting them with the right professional to get the job done.

Source: homes.com

12 Hidden Costs of Raising a Child – Expenses Parents Should Budget For

A USDA report pegs the total cost of raising a child at $233,610, or $284,570 if you factor in future inflation. That includes only the basics however, and excludes costs like helping with college education, birthday parties, and holiday gifts.

Include those, and you’re looking at $745,634, according to a report by NerdWallet — a jarring amount, no matter how much you earn.

Most of us know that kids come with extra costs like clothing, food, and possibly college tuition. But what about the hidden costs of raising a child? Kids require more than food and clothes, and often the less obvious costs get lost in estimates of just how much children cost to rear.

As you consider having children or plan your finances for an existing family, keep the following costs in mind. Just remember that although these expenses are common, they’re not written in stone, and you do ultimately control how much your own children cost you.

Hidden Costs of Raising a Child

Many parents, particularly mothers, take a career break to raise young children in their first years and often up to school age. It’s not like pressing the pause button and resuming play where you left it. Taking an extended break comes with significant costs, some less obvious than others.

1. Lost Income

On the obvious side, you lose out on the income from those years spent outside the workforce.

Imagine a family where both partners work, and upon having their first child, the mother decides to take a career break. They have a second child three years later, and the mom decides to stay at home until the youngest starts kindergarten at age 5.

That’s eight years of lost income. At a median full-time salary of $52,312 calculated by BLS, that comes to $419,496 in lost wages, not including wage growth over the next eight years.

This says nothing of lost retirement benefits, such as 401(k) matching, or lost returns on your own contributions to investments you could have made with that extra income. Compounded over the next 30 years, those lost returns can amount to millions of dollars.

2. Lost Career Momentum & Potential

Beyond the lost years of income, becoming a stay-at-home parent can stunt your career potential.

By the time you’re ready to reenter the workforce, you’ve fallen vastly behind your colleagues who have had many years to climb the corporate ladder. They’ve been advancing and winning promotions, while you’d be lucky to reenter your industry at the same level where you left.

The opportunity cost doesn’t end there, either. In today’s world of disruption and fast-paced change, eight years of falling out of touch with industry trends, best practices, and technological innovations puts you at a deep disadvantage compared to people still in the workforce and up to speed.

The bottom line: parents who take a break of several years from their career may reenter the workforce at a lower level than they left, and advance less over the remainder of their career. While there’s surprisingly little research on this effect, one study by Adzuna found that Brits who took a five-year career break took an average annual salary loss of £9,660 (about $12,500).

3. Less Time for Side Hustles

Even among parents who don’t take a career break, they simply don’t have the same free time to build extra income through a side hustle.

Historically, I spent much of my Saturdays working on either my business or writing. When my daughter was born, that came to an abrupt end, first because I was so sleep-deprived and later because my wife wouldn’t hear of it.

My father told me growing up that the 40-hour workweek was a baseline for survival, and it’s what you do outside those hours that determines your success, particularly in your 20s and 30s.

Although I believe in creating passive income streams and pursuing financial independence, you need to save a lot of money in the beginning to build momentum. That comes from a high savings rate and a high income, which often requires side gigs.

It’s not so easy to run a business on the side of your full-time job when you have young children.

4. Higher Housing Costs

A family of two can share a one-bedroom apartment. A family of three, four, or five? Not so comfortably.

At the time of this writing, Apartment Guide lists the average one-bedroom apartment rent at $1,621, compared to the average two-bedroom apartment rent of $1,878. That’s a difference of $257 per month, or $3,084 per year, just to add one more bedroom.

Larger homes cost more money, whether you rent or buy. And with the extra square footage comes higher utility costs to light, heat, cool, and power the property and everything in it.

They also require more maintenance for homeowners. The larger the roof, the more square footage there is to spring a leak. The larger the lawn and grounds, the more time and/or money they cost to maintain. And so on.

Expect to pay thousands of dollars more each year for a home that can accommodate your children, not just you and your spouse.

5. Transportation Costs

The same logic applies to transportation.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost to buy a new compact car is around $20,000. The cost to buy a midsize SUV? A hefty $33,000, representing a 65% increase in cost.

As with housing, the difference in costs doesn’t end at the sticker price. It costs more to insure and fuel a beastly SUV than an efficient compact. When your kids reach their teenage years and start driving, they’ll need car insurance, which many parents pick up.

(Personally, I had to pay for my own as a teenager, and I recommend you do the same with your kids to give them practice earning and budgeting for real world expenses. But I digress.)

Some parents even go so far as to give their teenage kids a car, whether a hand-me-down or buying it for them as a gift.

Again, these costs remain voluntary. But it’s harder to drive your kids, their friends, and their gear to hockey practice in a sporty compact than in a minivan or SUV.

6. Medical Costs

People of all ages need medical care. And in the United States, medical care is expensive, no matter how you approach it.

Higher Health Insurance Premiums

Adding more people to your health insurance plan adds to your monthly premium. Period.

Well, not quite period. Some insurers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, charge for each additional child up to the first three, then stop charging extra and only charge for the three oldest under the age of 21. Regardless, expect to pay more for family health insurance when you have children than you’d pay as a couple.

You may also decide you need more coverage as a family with kids than you did as a couple. For example, you may opt for dental coverage, or more inclusions, or a lower yearly ceiling on out-of-pocket expenses.

Higher Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Kids get into trouble, break their arms playing soccer, step on rusty nails while running around the neighborhood barefoot. And before they do that, babies require plenty of checkups and medical care of their own.

Every time they visit a doctor, need a prescription filled, or look cross-eyed at the health care system, you can expect to get hit with an out-of-pocket bill. Few health insurance plans cover 100% of all medical expenses with no deductible, and those few charge outrageous premiums.

And kids come with other medical costs. If you don’t want your kids to have crooked teeth, suddenly you find yourself with orthodontist bills. Eye exams, contact lenses, glasses — the list goes on.

Your kids will need plenty of medical care between birth and when they enter the workforce, and you’ll be on the hook for every penny.

7. Lessons, Tutoring, and Other Extracurriculars

If your child has dyslexia, they may need special tutoring to help them learn how to read. Many children need speech therapy as young kids. Many others require academic tutoring at some point or another.

If your kids want to learn an instrument, dive deeper into a sport, or pick up just about any hobby, they’ll need lessons.

Parents always forget to budget for these sorts of expenses until they strike, but kids — and just as often their parents — may want or need more than what resources their school offers for free. And when it happens, you need to be prepared to open your wallet.

8. Baby Paraphernalia

I was shocked and appalled at the amount of baby paraphernalia that flooded our apartment when we had a baby.

At every turn, I fought my wife to stop buying so much stuff. And at every turn, I lost the battle. She insisted on buying every gadget, every “cute” piece of baby clothing, every piece of nursery furniture she could get her hands on. From infrared baby monitors to smart chips that attach to diapers to track vital signs, we have it all.

As a minimalist, it drives me insane. Like so many middle-class parents, we have far more baby items than we need. Eventually, I stopped tallying the cost because it was pushing my cortisol levels through the roof.

You may consider yourself a reasonable human being, vigilant against unnecessary spending. But new parents get both anxious and excited — and their response to both is usually to buy more stuff. When you or your spouse gets pregnant, budget extra for spousal splurges when you try to predict how much it costs to have a baby.

9. Toys and Gifts

Again, parents all too often go wild buying gifts, toys, and unnecessary clothes, all in the name of spoiling their children.

It’s so insidious that many parents go into debt each holiday season. Between gifts, swag, and travel, the average American family spends $1,050 at the holidays according to a 2019 National Retail Federation study reported by USA Today.

You can and should fight the urge. But parents overspend on gifts and toys all the time, so it bears including here.

10. Electronics

Increasingly, kids need electronics for schoolwork, not just as frivolous gifts. In the era of COVID-19, they’ve become mandatory learning tools.

Laptops and tablets aren’t cheap though, and they come with notoriously short lifespans as they slip into obsolescence after a few short years. Between the time a child is old enough to use one and the time they move out and pay their own bills, they’ll likely go through dozens of devices between phones, tablets, laptops, and gadgets that haven’t been invented yet but will be all the rage 15 years from now.

Added together, that comes to tens of thousands of dollars.

11. Travel Costs

My wife and I once looked up the cheapest flights for the following week from our then home. We booked flights to Bulgaria for $160 round trip per person and spent only a few hundred dollars over the entire next week.

That doesn’t happen when you have kids, for several reasons.

First, you can’t just up and go during the travel offseason when you feel like it. Your kids have school, so you have to travel when everyone else and their mother travels: during school holidays. Which means always traveling during the expensive high season.

Second, you have to pay for more, well, everything. More airline tickets. More hotel rooms, or a larger home on Airbnb. And then come the meals, entertainment, entrance passes, and so forth. All of it costs more money.

When you travel with an infant, you can avoid many of those costs. But they don’t stay infants very long, and soon you find yourself traveling with teenagers who insist on doing the exact opposite of what you want to do. So you end up paying to do both.

And good luck doing low-key travel like backpacking or hiking trips with social media-addicted kids and teens.

If you really want to travel the way you used to with your spouse, you end up either having to hire a nanny or ship your kids off to summer camp — both of which cost an arm and a leg in themselves.

12. Life Insurance

Many couples can responsibly dodge life insurance, provided they both work. If the worst happens, the surviving spouse can still pay their bills, albeit with the possible need to downsize.

Add children to the mix, however, and you have more mouths to feed — plus all the other expenses outlined above. Losing one spouse, particularly a primary breadwinner, could tip the family into poverty or at the very least require a massive, painful change in lifestyle.

Having children doesn’t necessarily require you to buy life insurance. I don’t have it, as one of the many side benefits of the FIRE lifestyle. But when you have children, you need to plan for contingencies like losing a spouse, and making sure your family can survive without them.

Often that means a life insurance policy, and even when it doesn’t, you still need a plan in place.


Final Word

Having children is not all financial doom and gloom. Yes, some expenses remain unavoidable, no matter how frugally you live. But many of the expenses above represent average expenses among parents with little financial literacy. You can minimize many of them with a little more awareness, and avoid others entirely.

The costs of raising children also operate on an economy of scale. While you and your spouse don’t want to share a bedroom with your child after the first few months, you can put two children in the same second bedroom, for example. Younger children can benefit from hand-me-downs such as cribs, strollers, and clothes. And once you bite the bullet to buy a minivan, having a third child doesn’t change your transportation needs any further.

It doesn’t have to cost $745,634 to raise a child. But it certainly can if you’re not careful.

Source: moneycrashers.com