A group of real-estate startups is aiming to cash in on the remote-work phenomenon.
With many corporate offices closed because of the pandemic, manyÂ young professionals have left citiesÂ like New York and San Francisco for warmer, cheaper places. A number still plan to return after their offices reopen, leaving them reluctant to buy homes or sign long-term apartment leases.
That situation is creating fresh demand for furnished housing on a short-term basis, a fast-growing niche that many property startups and their venture-capital backers are rushing to fill.
One of them is Landing, which runs a network of furnished apartments across the U.S. When it launched in 2019, the Birmingham, Ala., and San Francisco-based company initially planned to operate in about 30 cities last year. Instead, it expanded to 75, largely because demand grew much faster than expected, said Landing Chief Executive Bill Smith.
âCovid has taken a decade of change that I was thinking was going to happen between now and 2030 and kind of compressed it into a year,â he said.
Legions of remote workers also offer these firms a chance to make up for reduced tourist and corporate business. San Francisco-based Sonder, which rents out furnished apartments by the night, ramped up its marketing of extended stays during the pandemic, according to Chief Executive Francis Davidson. Stays of longer than 14 days now account for about 60% of the companyâs business, up from less than a quarter before the pandemic, he said.
Kulveer Taggar, CEO of corporate-housing operator Zeus Living, said his firm experienced a steep drop in demand as companiesÂ hit the pause button on employee travelÂ and relocations. But he was able to make up some ground by renting apartments to individuals. People working from home now account for about a quarter of the companyâs business, Mr. Taggar said, up from virtually nothing before the pandemic.
Unlike Sonder and Zeus, remote workers were a key part of Landingâs business before the pandemic. Its customers pay an annual membership fee, which gives them the right to rent furnished apartments in any city. The minimum length of stay varies from 30 to 60 days, and the company asks for a monthâs notice before a customer moves out.
The company is popular with college-educated young professionals who donât want to be tied to a single location. Since the start of the pandemic, it has seen a growing number of customers leave New York and San Francisco and move to cities like St. Petersburg, Fla., and Denver, Mr. Smith said.
In November, Landing raised $45 million in venture funding from a group of investors led by Foundry Group and including Greycroft and Maveron, along with $55 million in debt. Mr. Smith said he hopes to expand to 25,000 apartments by the end of this year, up from around 10,000 today.
That growth carries risk if demand from remote workers were to disappear again after the pandemic is over. Still, Chris Moody, a partner at Foundry Group, said the number of furnished apartments available under flexible terms is still so small that he doesnât worry about a lack of customers.
âEven at the end of 2021, we wonât really have scratched the surface,â he said.
The post Remote-Work Boom During Covid-19 Pandemic Draws Real-Estate Startups appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Orchard announced Tuesday its immediate availability to consumers in Houston, as well as future expansion into Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and the Washington, D.C. suburbs in the upcoming months.
Court Cunningham, chief executive officer and co-founder, said he’s excited for Orchard to help consumers in the new markets, where demand has outpaced inventory.
“Weâll make it easier for home buyers in these markets to secure their dream home as soon as they see it, while still selling their old home for top dollar,â he said.
Cunningham added that the Move First initiative, Orchard’s program allowing homeowners to buy their next home before selling their old one, proved popular during the COVID-19 pandemic because it let consumers avoid living in their old home while potential homebuyers toured it.
âBuying and selling homes the traditional way isnât sufficient in todayâs hyper-competitive market,” he said. “With demand at an all-time high, people need to make offers – ideally in cash – without contingencies.”
Houston, according to multiple listing service data, is selling homes above price at triple the rate of 2019, and Cunningham added that the number of homes going under contract within 30 days of listing has increased by 50%.
Orchard adds Houston to a service area that includes Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Denver, and Atlanta.
Originally called Perch, Orchard branched into the lending business in July. This followed the creation of a title and escrow unit, dubbed Orchard Title, in the fall of 2018. It also closed on a $69 million Series C round led by Revolution Growth in September.
In October, Orchard announced the launch of a digital platform that enables homeowners to manage the entire real estate transaction in one place.
The post Orchard expands to Houston, East Coast appeared first on HousingWire.
There is no other way to say it: Real Estate as an industry did not have it easy in 2020. Big plans had to be put on hold, and business growth shrunk. The sub-segment of coliving within the Real Estate industry was especially susceptible to the damage that the world-wide lockdown did to businesses.
At the beginning of this month, my team and I at TheHouseMonk launched the Global Coliving Report 2020. It was the culmination of several months of research within the coliving industry around the world, and us trying to understand how the industry dealt with this impact.
We found comfort in data that we collected directly from operators, and our analysis of geographies and their markets. There are three big takeaways from the report to touch upon here.
Coliving industry growth slowed down
The industry which was estimated to be worth $7.5B in 2019 stood at a market value of $7.9B in 2020. The industry was growing steadily at a pace of 20% YoY but slowed down to 6% this year.
We found that both occupancy rates and rental prices reduced across most parts of the world, giving rise to the new ârevenue-sharingâ model between operators and landlords to help soften the blow of sudden churn, and also reduce liabilities.
China sustains its position as the largest coliving market, followed by the USA and India respectively. While Europe as a collective region presents a reasonably large market, no individual country within the EU presents a large opportunity by itself.
Drop in the occupancy rates and rental prices around the world
The USA and India experienced high drops in occupancy rates and were worst impacted, but South East Asia and China have shown remarkable stability in times of tough lockdowns. Their occupancy rates have remained nearly stable, and they have shown the lowest drop in rental prices.
Funding and IPO news
The year opened up with IPOs for Chinese industry leaders Danke & Qingke, but now their market value is shrinking significantly. This combined with the pandemic slowed the movement of late-stage PE capital into the coliving industry by the end of this year.
On the bright side, multiple companies raised Series B, C, and D rounds of financing. About $200M was invested in coliving companies across the globe this year.
Most early-stage companies pushed their growth plans to 2021, hence seed and Series A rounds were infrequent this year.
The Coliving industry is still bullish on growth
We knew that Global Coliving Report needs a direct connection with operators to represent their voice in all its authenticity. The Coliving Operators Survey featured in the report does just that.
The survey observes that despite stiff challenges, the sentiments of over 100 operators from around the world suggest they are still confident that the industry is going to bounce back, albeit in its own time.
48% of respondents in the survey said they were as bullish about the industry as they have ever been, with another 45% suggesting that they remain confident in the long-term prospects.
It also noted that 48% of coliving operators continued to expand their portfolio in 2020, while 20% had to let go of certain properties and reduce their portfolio size. The remaining 32% of respondents had neither increased nor decreased their footprint this year.
Further, 72% of coliving operators feel that it would take more than 1 year for the industry to recover and get back to pre-Covid growth levels.
For those interested, the full Global Coliving Report goes to the depths of the market, understanding the industry and its major players to analyze growth in the year of the pandemic, and also what the future looks like for the coliving industry.
The post Coliving amidst the challenges of COVID-19 appeared first on GeekEstate Blog.
According to numbers for the 2018 holiday shopping season, American shoppers incurred an average debt of just over $1,000. And not everyone could pay that debt off quickly, leading to expensive, long-term credit card debt for some.
But holiday shopping debt isnât the only financial burden people face. Many enter the season with other debt. If thatâs you, donât let debt ruin the holidays. Instead, consider some of these tips to manage debt before the holidays so you can enjoy the festivities with reduced stress.
1. Find Out Exactly Where You Stand Financially
Before you create a plan to tackle your debt, ensure youâre accounting for all of it. According to a 2019 study, around one in five adult Americans werenât sure if they had credit card debt when asked.
Even if you think you have a handle on your debt, itâs a good idea to give your reports a once-over. This lets you ensure you didnât miss something important and that no one has used your identity to run up debt in your name. That could come as a nasty surprise if you try to use or obtain credit for holiday shopping.
You can get a free copy of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Normally, you can get one per year from each of the three major credit bureaus. But because of assistance measures put in place for COVID-19, you can get a free copy from each bureau every week through April 2021. You can also get a free Credit Report Card from Credit.com, which includes your Experian VantageScore 3.0 and regular updates on what is affecting your scores.
2. Create a Monthly Budget
Once you know everything you owe, sit down and take a look at your monthly budget. List all of your regular expenses and decide where you can cut to help put more money toward your debt.
Use tools such as credit card debt calculators to determine how much you should pay every month on debt to reduce it in a certain amount of time. This helps you understand how much money you should be putting toward debt to pay it off before the holidays arrive.
3. Choose a Method for Paying Down Debt
Every situation is different, so the way you pay down debt depends on what might work best for your situation. Here are a few tips to consider.
Go with a Basic Snowball Method
The Snowball Method means you line up all your debts by total balance. You make a minimum payment on each while throwing anything extra at the debt with the smallest balance. You do so because youâll be able to pay off that one the fastest.
Once you pay off the first debt, you take everything you were putting on it each month and add it to what youâre paying on the next-smallest balance. As you pay off each debt, you have more money to put toward the next one. By the time you reach the biggest debt, you can pay it off fairly quickly.
Make Use of Balance Transfer Cards
If itâs not realistic to pay down all of your debt before the holidays, you might want to concentrate on getting your finances in order and ensuring your debt costs as little as possible. One way to do that is to make use of a balance transfer card.
These cards let you transfer existing high-interest credit card debt to a card that has 0% APR for a period of time. If you can pay the debt off within that timeâwhich can range from a year to two years on averageâyou can save a lot in interest.
Consider Taking Out a Personal Loan to Consolidate Debt
If youâre dealing with high-interest debt or payments that simply add up to more than you can handle every month, you might consider a personal loan to consolidate debt. A debt consolidation loan doesnât get rid of your debt, but it might make it more manageable. You might end up with a single monthly payment that reduces how much you must worry about during the holidays.
4. Set a Holiday Budget and Stick to It
Once you have a plan for dealing with your existing debt, ensure you donât re-create it with your holiday spending this year. Spend smart during the holidays. Make a list of what you want to do, the meals and treats you want to make, and the gifts you want to buy.
Assign everything on your list a dollar amount, and then take another look. Can you realistically afford all of this? You might need to make some priority decisions and reduce your list to fit a holiday budget you can afford without racking up too much debt this season.
5. Use Credit to Your Advantage
If you donât let debt ruin the holidays, you might be able to use credit as a financial tool to your advantage as you shop or participate in festivities. The right rewards credit cards help you earn points or miles as you spendâand you can earn even more points for spending in certain categories.
For example, you might have a cash-back credit card that gives you more cash back in the final quarter of the year on travel or grocery shopping. You could use that card to fund expenses as you go visit relatives or prepare a feast when they come to your home.
If you spend on your card only what you were going to spend with cash anyway, you can pay your balances off immediately. That means you get those rewards without any interest cost for doing so. If you donât have a rewards credit card, you can find options to consider in the Credit.com credit card marketplace. Here are a couple to start with.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Blue Cash PreferredÂ® Card from American Express
on American Express’s secure website
0% for 12 months on purchases
Rates and Fees
Snapshot of Card Features
Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
1% Cash Back on other purchases.
Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
Plan ItÂ® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
$95 Annual Fee.
Card Details +
This card gives you 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases. You can also get 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit, making it a potentially good card to use when youâre traveling. The Blue Cash PreferredÂ® card allows you to earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards Mastercard
Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards MastercardÂ® Credit Card
on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago’s secure website
0% on Purchases for 12 months
12.90% – 22.90% Variable APR on purchases
12.90% – 22.90% Variable APR on balance transfers
Rates and Fees
Snapshot of Card Features
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 12.90% â 22.90% (V), based on your creditworthiness
Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
Earn Points on Every Purchase! Itâs simple: $1 = 1 Point
No Annual Fee or Foreign Transaction Fee
Select Your Rewards Your Way
No Foreign Transaction Fee
Card Details +
The Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards MastercardÂ® allows you to earn 5X rewards up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories. Categories include dining, groceries, fuel, travel, and other popular spending areas. If youâll be spending in a certain category during the holidays, you could earn extra rewards points to redeem on travel or other purchases.
Itâs never too early or too late to start planning financially for big seasons such as the holidays. If youâre ready to take a step toward that plan today, consider signing up for ExtraCredit. Reward It from ExtraCredit connects you with personalized offers and offers cashback rewards when you sign up and are approved for them.
Reward Yourself This Holiday Season
The post Don’t Let Debt Ruin the Holidays: Proactive Steps appeared first on Credit.com.
A 401(k) retirement plan is one of the most powerful savings vehicles on the planet. If you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that offers one (or its sister for non-profits, a 403(b)), it’s a valuable benefit that you should take advantage of.
But many people ignore their retirement plan at work because they don’t understand the rules, which may seem confusing at first. Or they worry about what happens to their account after they leave the company or mistakenly believe you must be an investing expert to use a retirement plan.
Let's talk about seven primary pros and cons of using a 401(k). You’ll learn some lesser-known benefits and get tips to save quickly so you have plenty of money when you’re ready to kick back and enjoy retirement.
What is a 401(k) retirement plan?
Traditional retirement accounts give you an immediate benefit by making contributions on a pre-tax basis.
A 401(k) is a type of retirement plan that can be offered by an employer. And if you’re self-employed with no employees, you can have a similar account called a solo 401(k). These accounts allow you to contribute a portion of your paycheck or self-employment income and choose various savings and investment options such as CDs, stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds, to accelerate your account growth.
Traditional retirement accounts give you an immediate benefit by making contributions on a pre-tax basis, which reduces your annual taxable income and your tax liability. You defer paying income tax on contributions and account earnings until you take withdrawals in the future.
Roth retirement accounts require you to pay tax upfront on your contributions. However, your future withdrawals of contributions and investment earnings are entirely tax-free. A Roth 401(k) or 403(b) is similar to a Roth IRA; however, unlike a Roth IRA there isn’t an income limit to qualify. That means even high earners can participate in a Roth at work and reap the benefits.
RELATED: How the COVID-19 CARES Act Affects Your Retirement
Pros of investing in a 401(k) retirement plan at work
When I was in my 20s and started my first job that offered a 401(k), I didn’t enroll in it. I was nervous about having investments with an employer because I didn’t understand what would happen if I left the company, or it went out of business.
I want to put your mind at ease about using a 401(k) because there are many more advantages than disadvantages.
I want to put your mind at ease about using a 401(k) because there are many more advantages than disadvantages. Here are four primary pros for using a retirement plan at work.
1. Having federal legal protection
Qualified workplace retirement plans are protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a federal law. It sets minimum standards for employers that offer retirement plans, and the administrators who manage them.
ERISA offers workplace retirement plans a powerful but lesser-known benefit—protection from creditors.
ERISA was enacted to protect your and your beneficiaries’ interests in workplace retirement plans. Here are some of the protections they give you:
Disclosure of important facts about your plan features and funding
A claims and appeals process to get your benefits from a plan
Right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty if the plan is mismanaged
Payment of certain benefits if you lose your job or a plan gets terminated
Additionally, ERISA offers workplace retirement plans a powerful but lesser-known benefit—protection from creditors. Let’s say you have money in a qualified account but lose your job and can’t pay your car loan. If the car lender gets a judgment against you, they can attempt to get repayment from you in various ways, but not by tapping your 401(k) or 403(b). There are exceptions when an ERISA plan is at risk, such as when you owe federal tax debts, criminal penalties, or an ex-spouse under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
When you leave an employer, you have the option to take your vested retirement funds with you. You can do a tax-free rollover to a new employer's retirement plan or into your own IRA. However, be aware that depending on your home state, assets in an IRA may not have the same legal protections as a workplace plan.
RELATED: 5 Options for Your Retirement Account When Leaving a Job
2. Getting matching funds
Many employers that offer a retirement plan also pay matching contributions. Those are additional funds that boost your account value.
Always set your 401(k) contributions to maximize an employer’s match so you never leave easy money on the table.
For example, your company might match 100% of what you contribute to your retirement plan up to 3% of your income. If you earn $50,000 per year and contribute 3% or $1,500, your employer would also contribute $1,500 on your behalf. You’d have $3,000 in total contributions and receive a 100% return on your $1,500 investment, which is fantastic!
Always set your 401(k) contributions to maximize an employer’s match, so you never leave easy money on the table.
3. Having a high annual contribution limit
Once you contribute enough to take advantage of any 401(k) matching, consider setting your sights higher by raising your savings rate every year. For 2021, the allowable limit remains $19,500, or $26,000 if you’re over age 50. A good rule of thumb is to save at least 10% to 15% of your gross income for retirement.
Most retirement plans have an automatic escalation feature that kicks up your contribution percentage at the beginning of each year. You might set it to increase your contributions by 1% per year until you reach 15%. That’s a simple way to set yourself up for a happy and secure retirement.
4. Getting free investing advice
After you enroll in a workplace retirement plan, you must choose from a menu of savings and investment options. Most plan providers are major brokerages (such as Fidelity or Vanguard) and have helpful resources, such as online assessments and free advisors. Take advantage of the opportunity to get customized advice for choosing the best investments for your financial situation, age, and risk tolerance.
In general, the more time you have until retirement, or the higher your risk tolerance, the more stock funds you should own. Likewise, having less time or a low tolerance for risk means you should own more conservative and stable investments, such as bonds or money market funds.
RELATED: A Beginner's Guide to Investing in Stocks
Cons of investing in a 401(k) retirement plan at work
While there are terrific advantages of investing in a retirement plan at work, here are three cons to consider.
1. You may have limited investment options
Compared to other types of retirement accounts, such as an IRA, or a taxable brokerage account, your 401(k) or 403 (b) may have fewer investment options. You won’t find any exotic choices, just basic asset classes, including stock, bond, and cash funds.
However, having a limited investment menu streamlines your investment choices and minimizes complexity.
2. You may have higher account fees
Due to the administrative responsibilities required by employer-sponsored retirement plans, they may charge high fees. And as a plan participant, you have little control over the fees you must pay.
One way to keep your workplace retirement account fees as low as possible is selecting low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) when possible.
One way to keep your workplace retirement account fees as low as possible is selecting low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) when possible.
3. You must pay fees on early withdrawals
One of the inherent disadvantages of putting money in a retirement account is that you’re typically penalized 10% for early withdrawals before the official retirement age of 59½. Plus, you typically can’t tap a 401(k) or 403(b) unless you have a qualifying hardship. That discourages participants from tapping accounts, so they keep growing.
The takeaway is that you should only contribute funds to a retirement account that you won’t need for everyday living expenses. If you avoid expensive early withdrawals, the advantages of using a workplace retirement account far outweigh the downsides.
Is taking money from your 401(k) plan a good idea? Generally speaking, the common advice for raiding your 401(k) is to only take this step if you absolutely have to. After all, your retirement funds are meant to grow and flourish until you reach retirement age and actually need them. If you take money from your 401(k) and donât replace it, you could be putting your future self at a financial disadvantage.
Still, we all know that times are hard right now, and that there are situations where removing money from a 401(k) plan seems inevitable. In that case, you should know all your options when it comes to withdrawing from a 401(k) plan early or taking out a 401(k) loan.
If you take money from your 401(k) and donât replace it, you could be putting your future self at a financial disadvantage.
401(k) Withdrawal Options if Youâve Been Impacted by COVID-19
First off, you should know that you have some new options when it comes to taking money from your 401(k) if you have been negatively impacted by coronavirus. Generally speaking, these new options that arose from the CARES Act include the chance to withdraw money from your 401(k) without the normal 10% penalty, but you also get the chance to take out a 401(k) loan in a larger amount than usual.
Here are the specifics:
The CARES Act will allow you to withdraw money from your 401(k) plan before the age of 59 Â½ without the normal 10% penalty for doing so. Note that these same rules apply to other tax-deferred accounts like a traditional IRA or a 403(b).
To qualify for this early penalty-free withdrawal, you do have to meet some specific criteria. For example, you, a spouse, or a dependent must have been diagnosed with a CDC-approved COVID-19 test. As an alternative, you can qualify if you have âexperienced adverse financial consequences as a result of certain COVID-19-related conditions, such as a delayed start date for a job, rescinded job offer, quarantine, lay off, furlough, reduction in pay or hours or self-employment income, the closing or reduction of your business, an inability to work due to lack of childcare, or other factors identified by the Department of Treasury,â notes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Due to this temporary change, you can withdraw up to $100,000 from your 401(k) plan regardless of your age and without the normal 10% penalty. Also be aware that the CARES Act also removed the 20 percent automatic withholding that is normally set aside to pay taxes on this money. With that in mind, you should save some of your withdrawal since you will owe income taxes on the money you remove from your 401(k).
The Cares Act also made it possible for consumers to take out a 401(k) loan for twice the amount as usual, or $100,000 instead of $50,000. According to Fidelity, you may be able to take out as much as 50% of the amount you have saved for retirement. However, not all employers offer 401(k) loan options through their plans and they may not have adopted the new CARES Act provisions at all, so you should check with your current employer to find out.
A 401(k) loan is unique from a 401(k) withdrawal since youâll be required to pay the money back (plus interest) over the course of 5 years in most cases. However, the interest you pay actually goes back into your retirement account. Further, you wonât owe income taxes on money you take out in the form of a 401(k) loan.
Taking Money out of Your 401(k): What You Should Know
Only you can decide whether taking money from your 401(k) is a good idea, but you should know all the pros and cons ahead of time. You should also be aware that the advantages and disadvantages can vary based on whether you borrow from your 401(k) or take a withdrawal without the intention of paying it back.
If You Qualify Through the CARES Act
With a 401(k) withdrawal of up to $100,000 and no 10% penalty thanks to the CARES Act, the major disadvantage is the fact that youâre removing money from retirement that you will most certainly need later on. Not only that, but you are stunting the growth of your retirement account and limiting the potential benefits of compound interest. After all, money you have in your 401(k) account is normally left to grow over the decades you have until retirement. When you remove a big chunk, your account balance will grow at a slower pace.
As an example, letâs say you have $300,000 in a 401(k) plan and you leave it alone to grow for 20 years. If you achieved a return of 7 percent and never added another dime, you would have $1,160,905.34 after that time. If you removed $100,00 from your account and left the remaining $200,000 to grow for 20 years, on the other hand, you would only have $773,936.89.
Money you have in your 401(k) account is normally left to grow over the decades you have until retirement. When you remove a big chunk, your account balance will grow at a slower pace.
Also be aware that, while you donât have to pay the 10% penalty for an early 401(k) withdrawal if you qualify through the CARES Act, you do have to pay income taxes on amounts you take out.
When you borrow money with a 401(k) loan using new rules from the CARES Act, on the other hand, the pros and cons can be slightly different. One major disadvantage is the fact that youâll need to repay the money you borrow, usually over a five-year span. You will pay interest back into your retirement account during this time, but this amount may be less than what you would have earned through compound growth if you left the money alone.
Also be aware that, if you leave your current job, you may be required to pay back your 401(k) loan in a short amount of time. If you canât repay your loan because you are still experiencing hardship, then you could wind up owing income taxes on the amounts you borrow as well as a 10% penalty.
Note: The same rules will generally apply if you quit your job and move out of the United States as well, so donât think that moving away can get you off the hook from repaying your 401(k) loan. If youâre planning to leave the U.S. and youâre unsure how to handle your 401(k) or 401(k) loan, speaking with a tax expert is your best move.
Keep in mind that, with both explanations of a 401(k) loan and a 401(k) early withdrawal above, these pros and cons are predicated on the idea you can qualify for the special benefits included in the CARES Act. While the IRS rules for qualifying for a coronavirus withdrawal are fairly broad, you do have to be facing financial hardship or lack of childcare due to coronavirus. You can read all the potential qualification categories on this PDF from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
If You Don’t Qualify Through the CARES Act
If you donât qualify for special accommodation through the CARES Act, then you will have to pay a 10% penalty on withdrawals from your 401(k) as well as income taxes on amounts you take out. With a traditional 401(k) loan, on the other hand, you may be limited to borrowing just 50% of your vested funds or $50,000, whichever is less.
However, you should note that the IRS extends other hardship distribution categories you may qualify for if youâre struggling financially . You can read about all applicable hardship distribution requirements on the IRS website.
Taking Money Out of Your 401(k): Main Pros and Cons
The situations where you might take money out of your 401(k) can be complicated, but there are some general advantages and disadvantages to be aware of. Before you take money from your 401(k), consider the following:
Pros of taking money out of your 401(k):
You are able to access your money, which could be important if youâre suffering from financial hardship.
If you qualify for special accommodations through the CARES Act, you can avoid the 10% penalty for taking money from your 401(k) before retirement age.
You can take out more money (up to $100,000) than usual from your 401(k) with a 401(k) withdrawal or a 401(k) loan thanks to CARES Act rules.
Cons of taking money out of your 401(k):
If you take money out of your 401(k), youâll have to pay income taxes on those funds.
Removing money from your 401(k) means you are reducing your current retirement savings.
Not only are you removing retirement savings from your account, but youâre limiting the growth on the money you take out.
If you take out a 401(k) loan, youâll have to pay the money back.
Alternatives to Taking Money from your 401(k)
There may be some situations where taking money out of your 401(k) makes sense, including instances where you have no other option but to access this money to keep the lights on and food on the table. If you cash out your 401(k) and the market tanks afterward, you could even wind up feeling like a genius. Then again, the chances of optimally timing your 401(k) withdrawal are extremely slim.
With that being said, if you donât have to take money out of your 401(k) plan or a similar retirement plan, you shouldnât do it. You will absolutely want to retire one day, so leaving the money youâve already saved to grow and compound is always going to leave you ahead in the long run.
With that in mind, you should consider some of the alternatives of taking money from a 401(k) plan:
See if you qualify for unemployment benefits. If you were laid off or furloughed from your job, you may qualify for unemployment benefits you donât even know about. To find out, you should contact your stateâs unemployment insurance program.
Apply for temporary cash assistance. If you are facing a complete loss in income, consider applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which lets you receive cash payments. To see if you qualify, call your state TANF office.
Take out a short-term personal loan. You can also consider a personal loan that does not use funding from your 401(k). Personal loans tend to come with competitive interest rates for consumers with good or excellent credit, and you can typically choose your repayment term.
Tap into your home equity. If you have more than 20% equity in your home, consider borrowing against that equity with a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). Both options let you use the value of your home as collateral, and they tend to offer low interest rates as a result.
Consider a 0% APR credit card. Also look into 0% APR credit cards that allow you to make purchases without any interest charged for up to 15 months or potentially longer. Just remember that youâll have to repay all the purchases you charge to your card, and that your interest rate will reset to a much higher variable rate after the introductory offer ends.
The Bottom Line
In times of financial turmoil, it may be tempting to pull money out of your 401(k). After all, it is your money. But the ramifications to your future financial wellbeing may be substantial. The CARES Act has introduced new options to leverage your 401(k), without the normal penalties. Find out if you qualify and take time to understand the details behind the options. We recommend speaking to a tax expert if you have any questions or concerns regarding possible tax penalties.
The traditional wisdom is to leave your retirement untouched, and we agree with that. If you’re in a financial bind, consider other options to get you through the rough patch. Tapping into your 401(k) should really be your last resort.
The post Should I Take Money Out of My 401(k) Now? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
After falling to the lowest rate in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey’s near 50-year-history last week, the average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan remained at a survey-low 2.67% this week.
Last weekâs announcement of a 2.67% rate broke the previous record set on Dec. 3, and was the first time the survey reported rates below 2.7%.
The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage also fell this week to 2.17% from 2.19%. One year ago, 15-year average fixed rates were reported at 3.16%.
âAll eyes have been on mortgage rates this year, especially the 30-year fixed-rate, which has dropped more than one percentage point over the last twelve months, driving housing market activity in 2020,â said Sam Khater, Freddie Macâs chief economist. âHeading into 2021 we expect rates to remain flat, potentially rising modestly off their record low, but solid purchase demand and tight inventory will continue to put pressure on housing markets as well as house price growth.â
Freddie Mac has reported survey-low rates 16 times in 2020, proving beneficial to borrowers looking to buy or refinance a home amid economic turmoil outside of the industry.
Mortgage spreads continue to compress, per Freddie Mac officials, with the 10-yearÂ TreasuryÂ yield remaining at or above 90 basis points through the beginning of December.
This week’s 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.71%, down from last week when it averaged 2.79%. That’s another sharp drop-off from this time last year, when the 5-year ARM averaged 3.46%.
The Federal Open Market Committee revealed earlier this month that the Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rates low until labor market conditions and inflation meet the committeeâs standards. Overall, Fed purchases have helped to drive mortgage rates and other loan interest rates to the lowest level on record by boosting competition for bonds.
Higher rates may be around the corner, as the calendar flips to 2021 and the promise of a second COVID-19 stimulus check along with a vaccine reaches consumers. The Mortgage Bankers Association has forecasted rates for 30-year fixed-rate loans rising to an average of 3.2% by the end of 2021.
But if the virus is not controlled in the new year, investors may remain cautious and consumer confidence could wane – keeping rates low, according to the MBA.
The post Mortgage rates remain at record-low levels appeared first on HousingWire.
Halloween typically scares up a major boost in U.S. consumer spending, to the tune of $8.78 billion in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. Though this yearâs celebration will be scaled down in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade group still projects that Americans will shell out $8.05 billion on things like candy, costumes, decorations and greeting cards. Despite the fact that many city governments are discouraging trick-or-treating and the CDC is recommending extensive safety guidelines, itâs still possible for families to get in the spirit of the holiday with the proper protocols in place. Whether youâre planning to don costumes and go house to house with your pod or attend a Zoom masquerade, not all locations are equally conducive to enjoying the festivities. Thatâs why SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find the best cities in the U.S. to celebrate Halloween in 2020.
To do this, we analyzed data for a total of 210 cities. We considered a range of metrics that we grouped into four categories: family friendliness, safety, weather and candy & costumes. For this yearâs study, we included metrics like internet connection and recent COVID-19 infection rates to account for the different ways Americans will celebrate the holiday as a result of the pandemic. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAssetâs 2020 study on the best places to celebrate Halloween. Read our 2019 study on the best places to trick-or-treat here.
California cities take a number of hallowed spots at the top. Cities in the Golden State dominate the top 10 of this study. Five California cities â Vacaville, Fremont, Livermore, Oceanside and Menifee â are in the top 10, and there are four more in the top 15. The major factor driving a lot of these California cities to the top is their safety rating. Two of the above cities, Livermore and Fremont, rank in the top five for safety. The three other California cities finish within roughly the top 15% of the study for this category.
Halloween towns without frightening housing costs. A person who is burdened by housing costs is spending at least 30% of income on housing, with the threshold for âseverely housing cost-burdenedâ at 50%. All the cities in our top 10 have housing costs below that 30% threshold, with residents of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina spending just 17.99% of income on housing costs (ranking first in the top 10 and fifth overall for this metric). The city in the top 10 with the highest housing costs as a percentage of income is Menifee, California, at 28.32% â still coming in below the 30% threshold. The average figure for this metric across all 210 cities in the study is 23.58%, so many families may still have some money left over â no doubt a âboo-nâ for their costumes and candy budget.
1. Vacaville, CA
The best place to celebrate Halloween in 2020 is Vacaville, California. There are a study-topping 13.94 candy stores per 10,000 total establishments in Vacaville, which ensures trick-or-treaters will have plenty of sweet options to stick in their pumpkin pails and pillowcases. This, combined with a ranking of 38th out of 210 for the 34.84 costume shops per 10,000 total establishments (a top-quintile ranking), puts Vacaville at ninth in the candy & costumes index for this study. The city also finishes 32nd overall for the safety index, which includes a daily COVID-19 infection rate of 8.27 per 100,000 residents, 58th out of 210.
2. Sparks, NV
Trick-or-treaters who donât have warm or waterproof costumes can rejoice: Sparks, Nevada has the fifth-best ranking for the weather category in this study. That includes a precipitation probability of just 1.0% on Halloween (ranking ninth out of 210) and an average temperature that is just 3.4 degrees off the ideal Halloween temperature of 60 (ranking 44th out of 210). Nearly 22% of the population in Sparks is younger than 14, the 33rd-highest percentage for this metric in the study and an indication that youngsters will have many in their demographic available to participate in some spooky fun.
3. Fremont, CA
Fremont, California ranks fourth in our study for the safety category. It is tied for the third-lowest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the study, at 3.31 each day per 100,000 residents. Fremont also finishes 24th out of 210 in terms of its relatively low violent crime rate, with just 211 cases per 100,000 residents each year. Whatâs more, the city finishes 16th in the family friendliness index, buoyed by a population where 95.07% of homes have internet access, seventh-best in this study and helpful for those who want to take their Monster Mash online.
4. Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach, Virginia also scores well in the safety category â ninth-best in the study out of all 210 cities. The violent crime rate in Virginia Beach is particularly low, ranking eighth overall, with just 117 incidents per 100,000 residents each year. In terms of COVID-19 cases, Virginia Beach falls just outside the top quartile, finishing 55th, with 8.16 new cases per 100,000 residents each day. The city also ranks 37th of 210 for its relatively large concentration of costume shops, at almost 35 per 10,000 total establishments.
5. Livermore, CA
The third California city in our top 10 is Livermore, located on the Bay Areaâs eastern edge. Livermore ranks third in the safety category, on the strength of being tied for third-fewest new COVID-19 infections, at just 3.31 per 100,000 residents each day. Livermore also has the 21st-lowest rate of violent crime overall (ranking in the best 10% of the study), at 203 incidents per 100,000 residents each year. Furthermore, the city has the 14th-best family friendliness index in the study, powered by an eighth-place ranking for the percentage of homes with internet access, at 95.00%, making it that much easier to use the World Wide Web to show off that homespun spider web decor.
6. Elgin, IL
Elgin, Illinois ranks 11th out of 210 in the family friendliness category of our study. Housing costs represent just 19.87% of income on average, the 24th-best percentage for this metric overall. The population is 22.61% children under the age of 14, ranking 26th out of 210. Elgin is also a fairly festive place for Halloween. There are 12.29 candy stores per 10,000 establishments, the fourth-highest rate for this metric in the study.
7. Mount Pleasant, SC
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina ranks 12th overall for the candy & costumes category out of all 210 cities we analyzed. That includes having 52.93 costume shops per 10,000 establishments, the sixth-highest rate in the study for this metric. Mount Pleasant is also a relatively affordable place to live, having the fifth-lowest housing costs as a percentage of income overall, at just 17.99%.
8. Oceanside, CA
Although housing costs in Oceanside, California make up 28.02% of income (ranking 193rd out of 210), this coastal city near San Diego has the 14th-best weather index score in the study, which is great news for trick-or-treaters who donât want to be soaked and shivering while theyâre participating in contactless candy pickup. There is just a 1.4% chance of precipitation on Halloween in Oceanside (ranking 19th of 210). Plus, the average temperature there, at 8.2 degrees away from 60 degrees, ranks in the top half of the study.
9. Dearborn, MI
Dearborn, Michigan finishes in the top 45 for all four data categories we considered, including ranking 33rd of 210 (a top-quintile ranking) for the candy & costumes category. There are 34.57 costume shops for every 10,000 establishments, the 40th-best rate for this metric in the study. Dearborn is also a very young city: It has the fifth-highest percentage of residents younger than age 14, at 24.87%, which might help costumed kiddos feel a little less like the pandemicâs gotten everyone stuck in a real ghost town.
10. Menifee, CA
Menifee, California ranks 22nd out of 210 for the candy & costumes category. It has 6.78 candy stores per 10,000 establishments, ranking 32nd overall for this metric. Itâs also unlikely your Halloween will be rained on in Menifee â there is a 0.6% chance of precipitation on Oct. 31, the best rate for this metric across all the cities we examined.
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities to celebrate Halloween in 2020, we analyzed 210 cities in 10 metrics across four categories:
Family Friendliness Metrics
Percentage of residents 14 years or younger. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
Housing costs as a percentage of income. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
Percentage of households with internet access. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureauâs 2019 1-Year American Community Survey.
Violent crime rate. This is the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBIâs 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting database as well as NeighborhoodScout.com.
Property crime rate. This is the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBIâs 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting database as well as NeighborhoodScout.com.
Daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. This is the seven-day moving average of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 17. Data comes from Halloween2020.org.
Halloween Weather Metrics
Precipitation probability. This is the chance it rains 0.5 inches or snows 0.1 inches on Halloween. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Average temperature. This is the average maximum temperature on Oct. 31, from 1981 to 2010. We compared the average maximum temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which we think is the perfect temperature for trick-or-treating. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Candy & Costumes Metrics
Concentration of candy stores. The number of candy stores (including confectionary and nut stores) per 10,000 establishments. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns survey
Concentration of costume shops. The number of costume shops (including clothing accessory stores, other clothing stores and formal wear and costume rental stores) per 10,000 establishments. Data comes from the 2018 County Business Patterns survey.
First, we ranked each city in each metric, assigning equal weight to every metric except for the two crime metrics, which each received a half-weight. Then we averaged the rankings across the four categories listed above. For each category, the city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0. We created our final ranking by calculating each cityâs average score for all three categories.
Tips for Managing Your Money to Avoid Spooky Surprises
Save yourself the toil and trouble. Organizing your finances doesnât need to be a nightmare. A financial advisor can help make your life much easier. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Make sure your mortgage doesnât haunt you. If you want to buy a home in one of these great Halloween cities, which are also fantastic locations to lay down roots as a family, consider using SmartAssetâs free mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payment might be.
Budgets donât have to be blood-sucking. A budget can help you get on track to be able to spend a bit extra in October to enjoy Halloween properly. Use SmartAssetâs budget calculator to avoid vampiric bites to your savings account.
So here we are just a month later, in a full-blown economic panic, and at the start of the most sudden recession ever.
The pandemic has spread much further and faster than most uninformed people (including me) would have ever guessed, and the whole world is on some form of lockdown. Nothing quite like this has ever happened before in the modern world.
What should we do?
On the financial side, I’ve seen media stories about “The End of FIRE movement”, and a close friend even said to me, “Well, I’ve got to go back to work now because with all my investments down 35%, I’m not financially independent any more.”
And I’ve seen plenty of similar statements out there on the Internet:
Even worse, some people are trying to time the stock market, selling off their investments at a discount in the hopes of “protecting” them, hoping to subsequently outsmart everyone else and re-buy them at an even lower price just before some future rebound.
On the human side, we have seen a death toll of thousands of people per day in the US alone with best-case forecasts of 200,000 by the time things calm down, which implies several million worldwide.
And so far, we have not been performing like a best-case country so these numbers will probably be higher.
This all sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
It makes sense that many people are fearful and pessimistic. So why is it that I remain as optimistic as ever, with the full expectation that you and I will come through this humbled but also wiser and better than ever?
It’s because I already know how this all ends.
The world will keep rallying and doing its best to slow down contagion. Caring people will keep helping each other. People will stay home and heal, hospitals will expand, nurses and doctors will do their best to save as many lives as possible, and the 80% of us in jobs that allow us to keep working, will keep doing our jobs.
Meanwhile, innovators are still innovating all over the world. People are staying up late working in labs, vaccines are being tested, genes are being sequenced and the current virus will end up beaten and then written up as a very significant chapter in the history books.
But apart from all of this, there is still way more going on out there, which just isn’t making it to the headlines. Engineers and scientists are still inventing things that will drastically improve the future. Solar panels are still streaming out by the trainload and being installed worldwide. Better and better batteries which will eventually displace all fossil fuel use are evolving. The most efficient factories in history are being built. Gene therapies are advancing which will eventually make a mockery of all of our current health conditions. Internet connectivity and education is becoming more widely available and cheaper which is allowing the next generation of brilliant kids to to grow up and learn faster and do more than you or I could have even dreamed. And all this will happen regardless of the course of the current pandemic.
If all that is true, then why is the world so Scary right now?
I get it – never before has something from the daily news come home to affect our daily lives so much. Grocery stores are cleaned out, people are wearing masks, and you probably have friends who are currently unemployed, or sick, or both.
But in this situation, it really helps to understand the big picture of what is actually going on. The world is not ending. The air outside your windows is not a swirling cloud of certain death.
All that has changed is that we are in a self-imposed economic slowdown that has been created purely to save the lives of our most vulnerable people.
Which is one of the most compassionate things our society has ever done. To me, this is a remarkable and wonderful moment and I would not have guessed that such a capitalist country would ever have the balls to do it.
To put it into a visual, we have decided to prevent the following worst-case scenario:
(IMPORTANT NOTE: The timing of these hypothetical deaths is not real medical data, just an illustration of my own personal guess – made with a mouse pointer rather than a spreadsheet. However the US background death rate really is about 2.8M per year per the CDC)
And turn it into this:
In the worst case, our public officials would all downplay the risk of COVID-19, and we’d keep working and traveling and spreading it freely. We’d maximize our economic activity and let the disease run its course.
From the disease models I have seen so far, about 70% of us would eventually contract it. Half of those would have no symptoms or very mild ones, a smaller (but still huge) number would get sick or very sick, 10% might end up in a very overloaded hospital system, and in total about 1-2% of our population would die from complications – partly depending on how quickly we could put up temporary treatment centers to cycle through 30 million people in only a few years.
It would feel cruel and chaotic, but in reality we would still not be even approaching the conditions that people in the developing world deal with every day. Our world has always been cruel and chaotic in so many ways which affect a much larger number of people – we just happen to be used to them. And one thing that humans are exceptionally good at, is getting used to things.
In the more compassionate case which we are currently following, we drastically reduce the amount of contact we have with each other for a few months, which cuts the number of deaths in the US down from 3-6 million, down to perhaps 200,000. In exchange, our economy shrinks by several trillion dollars (it was about 21 trillion in 2019) for a year or more.
Assuming we are preventing 3 million early deaths, this means our society is foregoing about one million dollars of economic activity for each person’s life that we extend and frankly, it makes me happy to know we are capable of that.
So that’s the big picture: we are cautiously and temporarily buckling down and making some sacrifices, in order to help other people.
To me, that is not a cause for panic or fear – it’s a chance to try even harder and be thankful for such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Meanwhile, some good stuff is happening as a byproduct:
We are driving around and polluting far less. The air is drastically cleaner everywhere.
People are out walking with their kids far more. The streets of my town are nearly free from cars, and are being enjoyed by (appropriately spaced) bikes and people for the first time.
Our expectations are being reset. Someday soon, it will feel like an absolute joy and privilege to walk into a store and see things fully stocked and prosperous again. And imagine the feeling of taking a vacation or attending a big event or a restaurant or a party!
People in rich countries may realize that we can afford to be helpful and compassionate after all – while actually increasing our long term wealth and happiness rather than compromising it.
And the world is getting a valuable “practice run” at handling a pandemic, with a relatively mild disease rather than something even more serious.
So How Does This Affect my Retirement?
Once you really get the big picture above, you can see that we are going to come through this better in every way.
Just as with any recession, weaker companies will go bankrupt, stronger ones will streamline their operations and get smarter, and the chaos and broken pieces will become the raw materials from which an enormous batch of brand-new companies will form.
Better ways to track and treat disease, more scalable and less bureaucratic hospitals, more options for remote medicine and more support for remote work and virtual offices and virtual learning in general. More home delivery services and fewer big box stores and wasted parking lots, more support for biking and walking, and a million other things that a billion other people will think of.
The end result will be a better, more resilient and richer world than ever. Yes, that will also eventually mean more money in your retirement account, but more importantly it means better and happier living conditions for every living thing on Earth.
While this all sounds like optimistic magic, it’s actually just a byproduct of human nature. We are a lazy and change-averse creature and we become complacent when our fearful and primitive brains think things are “good enough” for survival and reproduction.
So, oddly enough, we often need a good slap upside the head to get off of our collective asses and actually make some improvements. Observe the wisdom of our elders:
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
As old and repeated as these slogans might be, they stick around because they keep proving to be remarkably true. They are the real-world manifestation of a badassity that is built right into our Human DNA, which is why they are some of my favorite phrases in life.
Are things a bit hard right now?
See you in the inevitable and incredible boom-time that will result.
Other Interesting Things That Might Help You Feel Better:
The Simple Path to Wealth, by my longtime author/blogger friend JL Collins, explains long-term investing in the most simple and calm way imaginable.
Towards Rational Exuberance is a more technical and detailed (but still very fun to read) history of the stock market and how the Federal Reserve bank serves to stabilize our system. Although I read this book over fifteen years ago, it has underpinned my understanding and confidence in long-term investing ever since. I would love it if author Mark Smith would add a few chapters to cover the two most recent market crashes as well!
A Guided Meditation for when the Stock Market is Dropping, is Jim’s witty YouTube reminder of the same thing, which he somehow created long before any of this panic started – how could he possibly have known in advance??
Good News, there’s Another Recession Coming is my own magical forecast of the present moment, made over two years ago.
Why We are Not Really All Doomed, my 2014 take on why the world was (and still is) well positioned for many decades of future prosperity.
How To Retire Forever on a Fixed Chunk of Money gets into the reason why stock market drops like the present one don’t really hurt an early retiree (it’s because the vast majority of your shares will be sold several decades from now, when the present panic is barely a blip on the graph.
And finally, just for fun here’s an example of something that is not written to make you feel better. In recent weeks, I spent several hours writing out some interview answers for an article in the New York Times.
I was truly excited to share the details of why the Principles of Mustachianism are more useful than ever in times like these, and it’s quite the opposite of “The End of FIRE” that the silly and financially naive media have been peddling in recent stories.
I was disappointed in the end result. Most of my answers were cut out, and instead the article is focused on “hardships” that other early retirees are currently working through. And the clickbaity title sets the expectations wrong to begin with:
They All Retired Before They Hit 40. And Then This Happened.
(that link will take you to my Twitter post about it, where an interesting discussion has formed in the comments – what do you think?)