11 Ways Costco Is Changing This Year

Costco cart
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Costco is one of the most beloved retailers in America. Millions of people have memberships at the warehouse club and spend countless hours each year perusing its shelves.

But nothing in life stays the same, and that includes Costco. Each year, changes — some subtle, some large — make their presence felt at the store. And 2021 is no exception.

The following are several key ways that Costco is changing this year.

1. Perishables are available through CostcoGrocery

Delivery driver picking up package
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As we recently reported, you now can order select cold and frozen foods through CostcoGrocery and get two-day delivery service.

Previously, the two-day service was limited to nonperishables. Items you now can purchase for two-day delivery include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Deli
  • Cheese and dairy
  • Beverages

2. Masks are no longer required

Woman removing her mask
Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock.com

Like most retailers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Costco required all shoppers to wear face coverings throughout most of 2020 and into this year.

But in mid-May, Costco ended the mask requirement for those who are fully vaccinated and shopping in locations with no local or state rule mandating the wearing of masks. However, masks may still be required in some health care settings that result in close contact, such as in the retailer’s pharmacy, optical and hearing aid departments.

In addition, Costco has returned to allowing shoppers to use reusable bags in places where they are not prohibited, as long as shoppers pack their bags themselves.

3. COVID-19 vaccines are available

COVID vaccination
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

Costco pharmacies are providing COVID-19 vaccinations to those who want them. The rules are as follows:

  • All individuals age 12 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.
  • Only the vaccine from Pfizer is authorized for those ages 12 to 17.
  • The vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for those age 18 and older.

At many locations, you can simply walk in and ask for immediate vaccination. Or, you can set up an appointment. Costco notes that either way, it is best to call ahead to make sure the vaccine is available at the particular warehouse location you plan to visit.

4. ‘Senior’ hours have been extended indefinitely

Senior Costco shopper
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Since the pandemic began, Costco has hosted special operating hours for shoppers age 60 and older and those with disabilities or who are immunocompromised. The idea was to keep the most vulnerable Costco shoppers a little safer as the virus circulated.

The threat of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may be fading, but the new hours for seniors and others are here to stay. The special operating hours will remain in place from 9 to 10 a.m., Monday through Friday, until further notice.

Only members who meet the criteria will be able to shop during these hours. Costco notes that the special hours may vary depending on location.

If you take advantage of Costco’s senior hours, you also might want to check out “11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco.”

5. Food courts are making a comeback

Costco food court customers
Cassiohabib / Shutterstock.com

The food court at Costco has been a shell of its former self, thanks to the pandemic. However, this beloved aspect of Costco membership is well on its way to returning to its former glory.

As we reported, Richard Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer, said on a recent earnings call that seating will return to most Costco food courts by June 7. The seating area will look a little different, though: Tables will seat four people instead of six or eight, and there will more distance in between, which will mean a reduced capacity.

The menu itself is also changing. For example, it will feature “new and improved” churros and “high-end” soft ice cream rather than frozen yogurt, Galanti said.

6. Free samples are coming back in earnest

Costco aisle with food samples
ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock.com

During the pandemic, Costco ended its ubiquitous free samples in hopes of keeping the coronavirus at bay. But with COVID-19 on the run, Costco plans to expand its sampling in waves.

The first wave starts this week, when full sampling will return to about 170 locations. Galanti says Costco plans to bring full sampling back to other locations by the end of June if the first wave goes well.

Safety protocols will remain in place, though. For example, samples will be prepared in small batches and behind plexiglass, and distributed to members one at a time.

7. Paper towels look a little different

Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

When the pandemic began, it was a time when all of us were terrified of a deadly virus. But it is ending as a period when we are fretting about the shortage of goods on our shelves.

Paper towels have been in short supply in many places during the pandemic. Now, Costco is ensuring it can keep paper towels in stock by reducing the size of its Kirkland Signature Paper Towels 12-Pack from 160 sheets to 140 sheets per roll, Hip2Save reports.

For more on pandemic-related shortages, check out:

8. Membership fees are expected to increase

Costco Executive membership card
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In an era of inflation, perhaps it is no surprise that Costco membership fees are expected to increase soon. As we reported, Wells Fargo analysts predicted in March that Costco likely would boost its membership fees sometime within the following 18 months.

Costco last raised fees in 2017, hiking the price of membership by $10 for the Gold Star Executive package and $5 for Gold Star Everyday membership.

When Costco CFO Richard Galanti was asked about the retailer’s membership fees on a May 28 earnings call, he acknowledged that Costco historically has increased its fees every five years and that its last such increase was four years ago. But he stopped short of confirming a fee hike, saying, “We’ll have to wait and see.”

9. A pilot program for curbside pickup is underway

Curbside pickup
JHDT Productions / Shutterstock.com

During the pandemic, curbside pickup became a standard feature at many grocery stores and other retailers.

Costco now is testing curbside pickup service. A pilot effort in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is underway and “has actually surpassed our expectations,” Richard Galanti, chief financial officer, said in a March earnings call.

10. The minimum wage is higher

Workers demand $15 minimum wage
a katz / Shutterstock.com

While labor activists demand a $15 minimum wage nationally, Costco is already there — and then some.

In February, the retailer boosted its minimum wage to $16 an hour. Costco CEO Craig Jelinek has noted that 89% of Costco workers also are eligible for health care benefits.

11. In-store photo centers are gone

Costco photo center
Helen89 / Shutterstock.com

Finally, Costco has bid adieu to its in-store photo centers.

The move — which took place this past Valentine’s Day — might have broken a few members’ hearts. But cheer up: You can still order from the Costco Photo Center website for delivery to a home or business location.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

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For myriad reasons, many seniors and retirees are staying in or jumping back into the job world. Money Talks News reports that by 2028 nearly a quarter of people 65 and older will be working.

Reasons include staving off boredom and loneliness, saving for big expenses, paying off debt or simple financial necessity.

As “8 Signs That It’s Time for You to Unretire” explains, a job also has value for retirees who are losing social connections, getting sedentary or have come up with a great business idea.

But many older workers don’t want the 40-plus-hour weekly grind and are looking for part-time employment.

Here are some of the best part-time options for seniors.

1. Private tutoring

Professor and assistant working on a laptop
Samo Trebizan / Shutterstock.com

Many retirees and seniors spent decades learning and training in their fields, and they are in a prime position to pass that knowledge along and get paid for it.

Tutor.com, Flexjobs, ASAP Tutor and Kaplan.com are some websites where you can find part-time tutoring gigs that, depending on your experience and education, may be open to you.

2. Uber or Lyft driver

Prathan Chorruangsak / Shutterstock.com

Driving is a good part-time gig for retirees who can set their own driving schedules and have more flexibility during the day than the average 9-to-5 worker.

In 2019, when ride-sharing industry blogger Harry “The Rideshare Guy” Campbell surveyed reader-drivers, 43% of Uber and Lyft drivers said they were older than 61, and 10% were over 71.

3. Accountant

Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com

Seniors and retirees who are experienced accountants could be attracted to this occupation, which has many short-term assignments available all over the country for a wide variety of employers.

AARP says that accounting jobs are highly sought-after part-time jobs. Check FlexJobs for accountant gigs that suit you.

4. Dog walking, pet sitting

Fotokostic / Shutterstock.com

Pooch care company Rover gives reasons why dog walking is particularly good for the 50-and-up set:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Extra income
  • Control over your business

See if you have what it takes to be Fido-friendly at these nationwide companies: Rover, Wag and Barkly Pets. At Care.com you can sign up to do not only pet care but also senior care, housekeeping and child care.

5. Deliveries

kurhan / Shutterstock.com

The article “4 Ways to Earn Money Making Deliveries in Your Car” has ideas for seniors and retirees who have flexibility in the hours they can work each day.

Postmates and Shipt are two companies that seniors and retirees can consider checking for part-time delivery gigs. FlexJobs has other types of driver and delivery jobs — even pharmacy deliveries.

If you’re not comfortable driving people around for Uber, you may prefer driving food, for Uber Eats. It’s one of a number of companies hiring food delivery drivers. Instacart, a grocery shopping and delivery service, is another.

6. Concierge

Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock.com

Older residents can use their long knowledge of their city to help hotel guests find good restaurants, family attractions and other activities.

Seniors and retirees can also find concierge jobs at resorts in high-demand areas like Florida and Arizona, where the snowbirds swarm during the cold-weather months. FlexJobs listed part-time and seasonal concierge jobs when we checked.

7. Holiday jobs

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Holidays bring long lines of shoppers, fitting rooms littered with tried-on clothes and lots of inventory work.

Cashiers, sales associates and customer service workers are typically in high demand by retailers during the winter shopping rush in the hectic weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This a good option for retirees looking for some part-time excitement and end-of-year cash. Retail giants such as Amazon, Kohl’s, Michael’s and Target are among stores that traditionally hire many new workers for their holiday rush. These tips will help you get hired.

8. Consulting

Consultant woman
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

This part-time gig — delivering expert advice to companies — is one of the most lucrative part-time jobs for seniors and retirees and allows them to use their decades of experience.

You don’t need an Ivy League MBA to become a consultant. If you have a wealth of knowledge and training in your field, there may be a company willing to pay for it.

Consulting gigs are among hot jobs that can be done from home, we report. Two companies that show would-be consultants first steps or offer training are Udemy and Learn How to Become.

9. National Park Service jobs

Zion National Park
Fotos593 / Shutterstock.com

The National Park Service has a wide variety of seasonal job listings, including positions as a ranger or a park guide for a few months each year.

Aramark, which operates resorts, recreational activities and lodges at several state and national parks and scenic destinations throughout the United States, lists many possibilities for those looking for seasonal and part-time jobs.

Another option for older workers is being a campground host. Seniors and retirees can interact with the camping public while enjoying nature and getting compensated for it.

10. Sports coach

sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

We are a country full of athletes of all shapes and sizes in every sport imaginable, and many seniors share their sporting passions by working with kids at schools, community centers and youth sports organizations.

It’s a terrific gig for seniors and retirees who can coach on a seasonal basis: football in the fall, baseball in the spring, for example.

11. Blogger

LTim / Shutterstock.com

Websites like Grey Fox, ElderChicks, Senior Planet and The Senior Nomads explode the prejudice that seniors don’t do tech.

If you have a way with words, visual creativity and a lot of great stories and ideas to share, think about starting a blog or a video blog (also called a “vlog”).

Blogging Basics 101 and Pro Blogger have tips and tricks to get you going.

12. Mentor/coach

marvent / Shutterstock.com

Plenty of young entrepreneurs and professionals have great energy, ambition and ideas, but need an experienced person to help mold all of that into success and help them avoid costly pitfalls.

Retirees and seniors who have built their own businesses can become professional trainers. Or volunteer to help early-stage entrepreneurs get on the right track.

13. Personal assistant

Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

These professionals deal with the routine stuff so that their bosses can focus on high-level projects without getting bogged down. Duties can include returning emails, screening calls, running errands and scheduling appointments.

This can be a desirable job for seniors and retirees, affording flexible hours and decent wages without stressful responsibility.

14. Translator or interpreter

Black Translator
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

In our increasingly multilingual world, translators and interpreters are needed more than ever in all sorts of places including government offices, social service agencies and customer service centers.

Bilingual and multilingual seniors and retirees who get certified can pick and choose among a wide variety of possibilities.

15. Substitute teaching

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Senior and retired teachers can bring a lifetime of experience, knowledge and training to the classrooms as substitutes. They know how to handle a room full of curious, energetic and sometimes rowdy kids, who often are very interested in the new adult in the room.

Depending on the state you live in, you might or might not need a teaching license or a substitute teaching license, the National Education Association says, in this state-by-state summary. It’s likely you will need to have a bachelor’s degree.

16. Security guard

Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

In your younger years, maybe you were a cop or gained policing experience in the military.

Those are great backgrounds if you want to pick up some extra bucks as a security guard. These jobs aren’t necessarily in a mall or at a bank. Industries that use security include:

  • Construction
  • Health care
  • Mining
  • Ports
  • Business
  • Condominium management

Security Guard Training HQ is one place to start finding out about training and employment possibilities around the country.

17. Golf course marshal or ranger

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After spending lots of time on golf courses over the years, seniors and retirees might relish the idea of giving back to the sport and making a little money doing it.

Golf course marshals keep fans quiet for players’ shots, look for stray balls, help spectators and generally help make sure things are running smoothly all over the course.

Search for golf course “marshal” or “ranger” jobs at Indeed and ZipRecruiter.

18. Tax preparers

A senior couple goes over paperwork with a professional in their kitchen
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

Thanks to the seasonal nature of tax season — roughly December until Tax Day — this is a great job for retirees. You can enjoy the summer months and early fall with family and on vacation, and then earn extra bucks in the dark, tough-weather time of the year when being inside is the best option anyway.

Learn your tax chops by getting trained to be an IRS volunteer providing free tax help for qualifying taxpayers

Or enroll in one of many tax preparer training programs across the country.

19. Librarian assistant or aide

Senior worker in a library
LightField Studios / Shutterstock.com

You love books, and you love helping people. What better place to work than a library? Duties can include shelving books, sending out overdue notices, data entry and helping patrons with all manner of library requests.

Working in the library offers a mellow, air-conditioned environment with lots of learning going on.

20. Greeter

Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock.com

Wear a smile, welcome customers, get paid.

It’s a decent gig for older workers who can’t or don’t want to perform physically arduous tasks in big box stores, restaurants and hotels. Of course, an outgoing personality is absolutely essential to wearing a happy face for hours.

Check for listings at job board sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder and ZipRecruiter.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Annuities: 10 Things You Must Know

Annuities aren’t new. The annuity concept dates back to early Rome, when citizens would make a lump-sum payment to a contract called an annua in exchange for income payments received once a year for the rest of their lives.

As traditional sources of guaranteed retirement income — such as pensions — disappear, many retirees are wondering where to turn. An annuity may be the answer, but not all annuities are alike, and some may not be appropriate for you.

Learn about these products and whether you should invest in them.

Immediate Annuities vs. Deferred Annuities

There are two types of annuities: immediate annuities and deferred annuities. Immediate annuities are best for retirees who want to receive payouts right away

If you invest money in an immediate annuity, an insurance company guarantees that you will receive a fixed payment every month for as long as you live (or as long as you or a beneficiary are alive). But, in most cases, your money is locked up after you hand it over to the insurance company, although some insurance companies allow one-time withdrawals for certain emergencies. So you don’t want to tie up all of your money in an annuity.

Deferred annuities are better for people who are still saving for a future retirement. The money they invest grows tax-deferred until it is withdrawn later.

A deferred annuity, also known as a longevity annuity, requires a smaller outlay of cash. With this annuity, you get guaranteed payments when you reach a certain age. 

How Much Do Annuities Pay?

Even in today’s low-rate environment, a 65-year-old man can buy an annuity that pays more than 6% of his initial investment annually for the rest of his life. That’s because your payouts are both from earnings and a return of your principal, and you pool your risk with other policyholders. You’ll receive the highest payout with an annuity that stops paying when you die.

Annuity Payouts: Single Life vs. Joint Life

If you buy an immediate annuity, you’ll get the highest annual payout if you buy a single-life version—one that stops payouts when you die, even if your spouse is still alive.

But if your spouse is counting on that income, it may be better to take a lower payout that will continue for his or her lifetime, too. (Some annuities are guaranteed to pay for a certain number of years, even if you and your spouse die during that period.) The annual payouts for a 65-year-old man who invests $100,000 in an immediate annuity would shrink from $5,820 for a life-only annuity to about $4,836 per year if he buys a joint life annuity that continues payouts as long as either he or his 65-year-old wife is alive.

You can compare how much you’ll receive for different types of payouts at immediateannuities.com.

Annuity Payouts: Men vs. Women

In general, annual immediate annuity payments are higher for men because men usually have a shorter life expectancy. Now a 65-year-old man who invests $100,000 in an immediate annuity can receive about $5,820 per year, while a 65-year-old woman could receive about $5,448 per year.

Annuity Payouts: Older Buyers vs. Younger Buyers

The older you are when you buy the annuity, the higher your annual payout because your life expectancy is shorter. Currently, a 65-year-old man who invests $100,000 in an immediate annuity can receive about $5,820 per year, while a 75-year-old man can receive about $8,232 per year. For this reason, some people ladder their annuities — investing some money early in retirement to cover expenses, then adding more when they get older to boost payouts.

Consider an Inflation-Adjusted Annuity

Standard immediate annuities guarantee that you’ll receive an annual fixed payout that will never decrease for the rest of your life , but inflation could erode the value of your payments over time. Some companies offer cost-of-living adjustments that boost the payouts to keep up with inflation—3% a year, for example—but that will lower your initial payouts by up to 28%.

Low Interest Rates Will Sink Your Annuity Payout

When interest rates are low, payouts from annuities are depressed, too. Payouts are usually tied to rates for 10-year Treasuries, and that rate is historically low. If you’re worried that interest rates could go lower—or you’d like to start receiving at least some guaranteed income now—consider building an annuity ladder. With this strategy, you spread the amount you want to invest in an immediate annuity over several years. For example, if you want to invest $200,000, you would buy an annuity for $50,000 this year and another $50,000 every two years until you have spent the entire amount. If rates rise, you’ll be able to capture them, and if they fall, you’ll have locked in payments at the higher rate.

You’ll Pay Fees for Cashing Out Your Annuity

Although deferred annuities let you cash out at any time, you may not get all your money back. You generally have to pay a surrender charge that starts at about 7% to 10% of the account balance in the first year, and gradually decreases every year until it disappears after seven to ten years. Also, if you take the money before age 59½, you generally have to pay an early-withdrawal penalty of 10%.

Deferred Annuities: Fixed vs. Variable

Most deferred annuities allow you to invest your money in mutual-fund-like subaccounts. Many of these products, known as deferred variable annuities, allow you to add, for an extra fee, guarantees that you won’t lose money even if the underlying investments decline in value. If the market tanks, you can still withdraw about 5% of the guaranteed balance each year. And you can withdraw the actual account value at any time (after the surrender period expires) if your investments increase in value.

Your Annuity Is Protected Even If the Insurer Goes Bankrupt

If you have a fixed deferred annuity or are receiving fixed immediate annuity payouts, then your payouts are protected by the state guaranty association. The level of protection varies by state. Find your state limits at nolhga.com.

Source: kiplinger.com

These Caregiver Jobs Are in Demand — No Medical Training Required

Job seekers can find immediate openings in most areas across the country as companions for retirees. No medical training is required, though most applicants need to have a driver’s license and their own transportation. “Right now, there is a crisis for caregivers. The demand is so high. We all need them,” said Elaine Poker-Yount, director […]

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

The 10 Best Countries to Retire Overseas in 2021

Retiree in Costa Rica
Lopolo / Shutterstock.com

The middle of a global pandemic might not seem like a good time to move away, but it is a great time to explore your overseas retirement options.

Exotic locales where you might live larger for less than in the U.S. include everything from tropical beaches and mountain hideaways to culture-rich cities.

The editors of International Living magazine, a monthly publication for subscribers, recently ranked their top 10 countries for overseas retirement for 2021. Using statistics and on-the-scene journalists, they average scores on these 10 areas important to retirees:

  • Cost of living
  • Housing
  • Health care
  • Retiree benefits
  • Visa/residence requirements
  • Fitting in/entertainment
  • Development
  • Climate
  • Governance
  • Opportunity — even as a retiree, you might want to start a new career

If you go, you won’t be alone. A significant number of American retirees live abroad. The Social Security Administration sent more than 430,000 benefit checks to retired workers in foreign countries as of December 2019, the latest month for which figures are available. That’s up from more than 320,000 sent 10 years earlier.

Here are International Living’s Top 10 rankings, its scores, and what it and others say about the countries. Take a peek and see if any appeal to you.

10. Vietnam

vuong kha thinh / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 75.5

Cheap prices, French-influenced food and wine, pristine beaches, waterfalls in pine-filled forests and the hustle and bustle of developing cities sprouting high-rises lure Americans to Vietnam, say international travel experts such as publisher Live and Invest Overseas.

Vietnam’s location in Southeast Asia also serves as a great base for travel, says Purdie Worldwide, a moving and storage company.

With more than 100 million people in a country just a bit larger than New Mexico, Vietnam is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

9. Malta

Valletta, Malta
fokke baarssen / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 76

This Mediterranean nation of three tiny islands south of Italy boasts plenty of sunshine amid architectural treasures left from the many cultures that once ruled the ancient shipping pitstop.

Dramatic cliffs, picturesque fishing harbors and vinyards of wine grapes abound. Food from bakeries, fishmongers and local cafes runs cheaper than in the U.S., says International Living, but you’ll pay a premium for sea-view homes.

As a British colony that gained independence in 1964, Malta lists English along with Maltese as the official languages of its half-million people.

8. France

Provence, France
Konstanttin / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 76.4

Retirees find life tres magnifique in France. Hundreds of museums and galleries, historic sites, cafe culture and revered cuisine may draw you to the romance of pricey Paris, home of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Arc de Triomphe. Or you can find a variety of lifestyles and living costs from small Provence villages to the French Riviera’s Mediterranean beaches, experts such as Live and Invest Overseas say.

France has 68 million residents and is almost the size of Texas. Health care is great, but the cost of living and lack of availability of middle-class housing might be a deterrent, says Purdie Worldwide.

7. Malaysia

The Strait of Malacca in Malaysia
nelzajamal / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 79.8

If you’re looking for a hot destination — literally — try Malaysia, where the daily temperature averages 82 degrees, says Purdie Worldwide.

Cross-Asian influences create an extraordinary and affordable melting pot of customs, dress, architecture and cuisine in Malaysia. Choose from big-city living in Kuala Lumpur or explore the natural beauty of its rainforests and white-sand beaches. Another plus for retirees: Foreigners are allowed to own land freehold, notes USHEALTH Group’s rankings of overseas retirement communities.

The country of 33 million on the Malay Peninsula totals an area a bit larger than New Mexico.

6. Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador
Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 83

Facing the Pacific Ocean and lying directly on the equator in the northwestern corner of South America, low-cost Ecuador offers T-shirt weather and sandy beaches year-round. You’ll find cooler climates as you move up into its mountains.

But even its populous capital, Quito, at more than 9,000 feet above sea level, is too warm to see snow, and you don’t have to shovel its frequent rain.

In an area slightly smaller than Nevada and with a population of 17 million, Ecuador uses the American dollar as its currency, the CIA World Factbook notes. Explore Incan and colonial architecture, hike in the Andes mountains or the rainforest, or hit the beach. The Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean are also part of Ecuador.

5. Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal
Steve Photography / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 83.2

Portugal offers lots of sunshine, plenty of beaches along its sliver of Europe’s coastline and relatively bargain-level prices, especially away from its big cities such as Lisbon, says Live and Invest Overseas.

Despite its medieval cobblestone appearance, Portugal is full of modern conveniences. English is commonly spoken in the Algarve region, where many European retirees live.

The country of 10 million is about the size of Virginia and is generally peaceful, but watch out for pickpockets on its jammed public transit system, the U.S. State Department warns.

4. Colombia

Medellin, Colombia
Luis Echeverri Urrea / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 83.3

Showcasing the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains and coastlines along both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, Colombia is more naturally diverse than most any other place on Earth.

Colombia’s population of 50 million in a country twice the size of Texas is found mostly in the north and west. With its easy residency requirements, you can enjoy seaside living, the friendly big city of Medellín or smaller mountain-nestled villages showcasing Spanish colonial architecture.

3. Mexico

Mexico City cathedral
WitR / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 83.5

With two coastlines boasting beautiful beaches, mild year-round temperatures and a budget-stretching cost of living, it’s no wonder our southern neighbor, Mexico, is already home to 1.5 million Americans.

About 130 million people live in the culturally and historically rich country about three times the size of Texas.

Top-notch affordable health care, zesty food-and-fun-filled festivals, proximity to the U.S. and easy residency requirements are all part of Mexico’s lure. That is true whether you are in expat havens like beachside Mazatlán or closer to the capital, Mexico City.

2. Panama

Panama City, Panama
Milosz Maslanka / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 84.4

Best known for its canal connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, Panama lures visitors with its natural splendor of coastal beaches, unique jungle plants and animals, and a tax-advantaged retiree program that includes discounts on a lifestyle already discounted compared to U.S. costs.

While Panama is slightly smaller than South Carolina, about half of its population of 3.9 million clusters mainly around the capital, Panama City. Smaller cities attracting expats include Santa Fe in the highlands and Pedasi, surrounded by Pacific beaches.

The country uses U.S. currency, so there’s no worrying about exchange rates.

1. Costa Rica

Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock.com

Average index score: 85.2

You don’t have to be rich to retire comfortably in Costa Rica, which literally means “rich coast.”

Although prices are rising along with the popularity of the Central American beach-rainforest-mountain country, you can still live there for less than in the U.S., especially away from its capital, San Jose, experts say.

About 120,000 Americans, including many retirees, lived in the country pre-pandemic. Slightly smaller than West Virginia, Costa Rica has a population of just over 5 million. While the country is known for peace and abolished its military in 1948, petty theft and drug-related crime are rising, the State Department warns.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

6 Safe and Smart Investments for Retirees

Senior landlord
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

If you are ready to retire, “safe and smart” investments probably sound more appealing than ever before.

Most of us want to dial down risk in our post-work years. Without a steady paycheck to count on, a little more caution seems prudent.

But the reality is that while work eventually ends, expenses go on and on. Finding ways to cover those costs becomes one of your biggest post-career jobs.

Following are a handful of safe and smart places where retirees can put their cash. While some involve a degree of risk, none is typically as volatile as investing in the stock market.

1. Municipal bonds

Municipal bond
Vitalii Vodolazskyi / Shutterstock.com

Long a staple of retirement investing, municipal bonds offer two potential tax advantages:

  • The interest you earn on them is free of federal income taxes.
  • The interest may be free of state and local taxes if you live in the state that issued them.

However, be careful here: Holding too much money in municipal bonds could actually force you to pay taxes, or to pay more taxes, on your Social Security benefit. So, “tax-free” municipal bonds might end up costing you money.

Confused? We clarify in “5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security Income.”

2. Peer-to-peer lending

Giving money to charity
Emzii F Clef / Shutterstock.com

Become a real-life banking mogul by joining the world of peer-to-peer lending.

With peer-to-peer lending, individuals post loan requests on a peer-to-peer lending site such as Prosper, and you agree to fund the loan. In return, you earn cash based on the loan’s interest rate.

Sounds like a great deal, and it can be. But peer-to-peer lending is not without risks. For example, the borrower could default, damaging your returns. In general, the more risk you are willing to take on, the greater the danger — but also, the higher the return.

The bottom line: This is a relatively safe — although not absolutely guaranteed — way to earn cash.

3. Annuities

Increasing cash flow
Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock.com

Annuities are a way to save money in retirement without having to worry about the vagaries of the stock market. In exchange for putting some amount of money down, you will get money flowing into your retirement coffers.

As Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has pointed out, some types of annuities are like CDs from insurance companies, while others more closely resemble payments from a pension plan.

Annuities are among the safer places to put your money in retirement, but they also come with a few drawbacks — some of them significant. For more, check out Stacy’s take in “Your Top 5 Retirement Questions, Answered.”

4. Treasury inflation-protected securities

Uncle Sam and taxes
Sean Locke Photography / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve been paying attention over the past year, you know that Uncle Sam has been spending money like a sailor on shore leave. And if recent events are any indicator, it appears the government’s profligate ways are unlikely to end any time soon.

Many experts worry that the trillions of dollars the government has spent attempting to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus pandemic eventually will ignite runaway inflation. Those who share such concerns should consider purchasing Treasury inflation-protected securities.

Better known as TIPS, these instruments pay interest like a normal bond, but also adjust the principal to cover inflation.

The inflation adjustment is tied to the Consumer Price Index. So, no matter how bad inflation gets, you should keep pace — or something close to it — with rising prices and not lose purchasing power as the years roll on.

TIPS have drawbacks: The core rate they pay out typically is lower than that of other bonds, the inflation adjustment is measly when prices don’t rise, and TIPS can lose money if we have deflation.

To learn more, check out “Should I Buy Inflation Bonds?”

5. Real estate

Happy senior couple retirees homeowners
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Housing values are soaring, but that is not what we’re talking about here. After all, we’ve all learned that soaring highs quickly can give way to plummeting lows when it comes to home values.

Instead, we’re talking about rental real estate. Whether you plan to purchase a rental home or simply want to rent out your basement, you can turn any property into an investment that will provide income for years to come.

Of course, life as a landlord isn’t always pleasant. So, go in with your eyes open.

6. Social Security at 70

Social Security payments
Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

This may be the most overlooked option on this list — and just possibly the best.

Annuities are a great way to bring in secure, guaranteed income, but many come with a large drawback: The payouts do not adjust for inflation. Over the years, this can seriously eat into your returns, potentially lowering your standard of living.

It’s true that you can buy annuities that will adjust for inflation, but they are expensive. So, if you can afford to be patient, a better option might be to wait until age 70 before applying for Social Security benefits.

For each year after what’s known as your “full retirement age” that you delay claiming, up to age 70, your benefit will increase by up to 8%. Plus, Social Security benefits generally receive an inflation adjustment each year.

It is tough to beat an inflation-adjusted monthly payment that is good for life and backed by the U.S. federal government.

So, for some people, it might be smart to spend some savings now if it means you can push off filing for Social Security until later. Consider that current spending a “smart investment” in your future.

For more on this strategy, check out “The Annuity Everyone Needs — and Anybody Can Get.”

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Why New Braunfels, TX is Booming with New Homes

New Braunfels, Texas: A Developer’s Dream

New Braunfels, Texas continues to bridge the gap between San Antonio and Austin, Texas, and so there are several opportunities for many businesses, real estate groups, and everyone in between to capitalize upon the growing population and booming economic conditions. In this post, we’ll be discussing the benefits of New Braunfels from a living and financial perspective. The positive attributes are abundant and have been drawing individuals, families, and retirees to the greater New Braunfels area for years. Now it’s potentially your turn to experience one of central Texas’ best-kept secrets.

Influx of New Residents

As with any booming city, there will often be an influx of new residents. New Braunfels is no different in this sense. However, when examining the wide variety of new residents, we’ve noticed a great diversity of individuals, families, and retirees. New Braunfels is truly transforming into a metropolis of sorts attracting all ages, backgrounds, and life paths. Whether you’re seeking a new career, starting a new business, or simply deciding to settle down; New Braunfels is an excellent choice for nearly anyone seeking a better quality of life.

Affordable Cost of Living, Land, & Luxury

When one hears “booming economy,” “excellent schools,” and “great job opportunities” they may believe the cost of living with the associated city is sky-high (as it is with most economically sound and well-developed cities). Yet here in New Braunfels, there are very affordable housing options for a large range of budgets which are attractive in both their design and pricing. It’s truly a dream scenario where you’re able to set up shop in a city which welcoming, affordably priced, and is growing at an exponential rate.

Booming Infrastructure in New Braunfels

More and more companies are catching wind of the economic happenings circulating throughout the greater New Braunfels area, and so the infrastructure will only continue to expand. There are so many amazing things happening each and every day in this great city and we’re only scratching the surface of the opportunities you can expect to see in the coming months, years, and decades. As the population increases, the job opportunities will flourish and grow, as will the overall development of roads, schools, commercial real estate, etc; all leading to an increased value in your home as time goes on.

Technology is a Driving Force

With Texas as a whole becoming the new “Silicon Valley” of sorts in the Southwest, it’s no surprise there is a large number of technology-based startups forming or setting up offices in the city of New Braunfels. Being that New Braunfels is the bridge between Austin and San Antonio, there are startups related to the growing population seemingly popping up every month. Ranging from Austin urgent care startups which extend statewide, to IT support firms dedicated to assisting with the large number of companies generating new business, to large, corporate conglomerates setting up offices throughout the city. Technology will continue to help bridge the gap between San Antonio and Austin, all yielding fantastic results in the form of new business development and overall economic growth.

Learn More About New Braunfels from Homes.com

If you’re considering making the move to New Braunfels, be sure to check out our large selection of homes for sale right here. We’ll be sure to connect you with an agent who will guide you through the process of finding your dream home and becoming a resident of New Braunfels, Texas. We look forward to hearing from you soon and can’t wait for you to begin experiencing all of the wonderful qualities of New Braunfels.

Katie Kuctha is a gardening guru and amateur foodie. She can often be found with a taco in one hand and a margarita in the other, follow her on instagram @atxtacoqueen.

Source: homes.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