Money-Saving Hacks to Implement Now

Redo your monthly budget (and stick to it)

You can do plenty of things to improve your budget, and it's not all about pain and suffering, as many would have you believe. Everyone has a few things they overspend on. The challenge lies in identifying those particular items and weeding them out. A good place to begin is with restaurant spending, grocery bills, and impulse buying. A wise general philosophy is to assign a destination for every dollar you earn and place that category on your budget. Try cutting restaurant expenditures in half, reducing impulse buys at convenience stores, and shopping for groceries just once each week to regulate what goes toward food items.

Refinance your education debt

If you have any education debt still hanging around after all these years, refinancing student loans through a private lender is a way to lessen your monthly expenses. Not only can you get a longer repayment period, but have the chance to snag a favorable interest rate. But the clincher for money-saving enthusiasts is that your monthly payments can instantly go way down. That means extra cash for whatever you want. Use the excess to fatten savings or IRA accounts, or pay off high-interest credit card debt.

Install a programmable thermostat

For less than $20, it's possible to chop at least three percent off your utility bills and perhaps much more than that. 

Programmable thermostats are easy to install. You don't need special tools or advanced skills. Be sensible about summer and winter settings and you'll see a difference in your electric bill almost immediately, especially during the hottest months of the year. Don't forget to program the device to go into low-use mode while you're away for long weekends or longer vacations.

Join a shopping club

Although shopping clubs come with annual membership fees, the savings on groceries, household items, and gasoline usually offset them within a month or two of actively using the membership. That leaves the other months of the year for you to save money on household necessities. 

For people who drive a lot, shopping clubs with on-site gas stations offer one of the best deals going. Not only do the clubs offer gasoline for about 10 cents off the regular price, but some also offer free car washes and coupons for repair work at participating shops. Although shopping clubs are a win for most anyone, a family of three or more can log thousands per year in savings.

Refinance your home or car

If you have owned your home or car long enough to ride the interest rate waves, you likely qualify for a refinancing agreement. This strategy is excellent for consumers who have better credit now than when they made the original purchase. 

Young couples are perfectly positioned to refinance a home after several years of making payments on it. Likewise, anyone who still owes on a vehicle and can get a lower interest rate should look into a car or truck refi. Not only can you get additional months to pay off the obligation, but with a lower rate, you stand to save a nice chunk of money.

Take bagged lunches to work

One of the oldest, more reliable ways to instantly cut personal expenses is to prepare and take your own lunch to work each day. Not only do you save money by not eating out or buying lunch in the company cafeteria, but you also have added control over what you eat. That means you're doing a favor for your wallet and your health at the same time. 

Don't fall into the rut of eating at your desk. Consider taking your bagged meal outside and enjoying the scenery, taking a walk after eating, or joining friends in the cafeteria to socialize. 

Use public transportation as often as possible

If you live on or near a bus or light-rail route, do the logistical planning necessary to travel to work at least a few times each week by public transit instead of by car. 

Unless you reside in a small town, chances are you have access to buses and trains for commuting purposes. Once you get into a habit of using the public transit system, consider buying a one-month or annual pass, which can represent a major discount on one-time fare prices. Public transportation can take a bit longer to get you to your destination, but it's easy enough to make use of the time reading, catching up on work, or just relaxing.

Use credit cards wisely

If you use credit cards to make purchases you can't afford, you're headed for trouble. But if you use your plastic wisely, you can reap real benefits.

If you have a good credit rating, you'll likely qualify for cashback cards that give a percentage of your money back on some or all of your purchases. You can use that cash to pay for a portion of your monthly credit card bill. You could also let your cashback savings accumulate and use it to pay for larger purchases in the future.

Just make sure not to outspend your monthly budget so you're able to pay your credit card balance off in full each month. Keeping a balance on your cards is counterproductive because you'll also be paying interest fees.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

Not all students can cover the cost of their college education with the grants or scholarships in their financial aid packages. Some begin their college careers by taking out student loans, while others look for part-time jobs and work-study positions. Students who are trying to avoid taking on too much debt may wonder what their job prospects look like outside of their college campuses. To help them out, we ranked the best cities in the country for working students.

This is the second annual study of the best cities for working students. Read the 2016 study here.

Study Specifics

For the second year, SmartAsset took a look at the best cities for working students. Our analysis focuses on the employment opportunities for college students attending the top-ranking four-year university in 232 different cities.

To complete our study, we created two different scores: a college value score (based on findings from our study of the best value colleges in America) and a jobs score (based on three factors, including the local minimum wage, the median rent and the unemployment rate for adults with some college education). It is important to note that we changed our methodology slightly this year, so this year’s study is not directly comparable to last year’s. For a full explanation of how we conducted our analysis, read the methodology and data sections below.

See how long it’ll take to pay off your student loans.

Key Findings

  • Minimum wages are rising. Nineteen states and dozens of cities saw their minimum wages increase at the start of 2017. Any boost in pay is sure to benefit working students and other low-wage workers around the country.
  • Check out the Midwest. Four of the best cities for working students are located in this region, thanks in part to their low unemployment rates. In places like Lincoln, Nebraska and Fargo, North Dakota, the unemployment rate among adults with some college education is below 2%.
  • New England ranks well. Four other cities in the top 10 are part of this region, where minimum wages are relatively high. In Portland, Maine and New Britain, Connecticut, for example, the minimum wage is above $10.

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

1. Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield is about 91 miles from Boston by car. One reason why it’s on our list of the best cities for working college students is its high minimum wage. On Jan. 1, Massachusetts’ minimum wage rose from $10 to $11. Massachusetts, Washington state and Washington, D.C. currently have the highest minimum wages in the nation. That’ll change eventually since cities and states like California are planning for their minimum wages to hit $15.

2. Lincoln, Nebraska

Thanks to its strong job market conditions, Lincoln ranks as the second-best city for working students in 2017. The unemployment rate for workers with either an associate’s degree or some college education is just 1.5%, according to one-year estimates from the 2015 American Community Survey. Among all workers ages 16 and over, the city’s unemployment rate is about 3.1%

In addition to having access to a lot of job opportunities, students who attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln can get plenty of bang for their buck. Our analysis of the best value colleges found that UNL was the top-ranking university in the Cornhusker State in 2015 and 2016.

3. New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain has a few different colleges. Central Connecticut State University is the oldest public university in the state of Connecticut. Finding a job in New Britain shouldn’t be too difficult for students trying to pay their way through school. The unemployment rate for workers with some college education is just 3%.

4. Omaha, Nebraska

This is the second time that Omaha has appeared on our list of the best cities for working students. Last year, the “Gateway to the West” took the 10th spot on our list. Since we published the 2016 edition of our study, the city’s unemployment rate for workers with some college education has fallen to 2.7%.

Working students in Omaha face a diverse economy. Key industries include health services, education, transportation and utilities, meaning that there are a variety of options for students looking for part-time gigs and internships.

5. Portland, Maine

Finding part-time work may not be difficult for students in Portland, Maine. In this city, the unemployment rate among adults with an associate’s degree or some college education is just 3%.

Students who live off campus may have to pay a pretty penny for rent. The median rent in Portland is $923. Fortunately, the city’s minimum wage is relatively high at $10.68.

Related Article: The Best College Towns to Live In – 2016 Edition

6. Tempe, Arizona

Arizona is another state that saw its minimum wage increase on New Year’s Day. In fact, it went up by almost $2. Thanks to the approval of Proposition 206, part-time and full-time workers will now earn $10 per hour. By 2020, the minimum wage will be $12. That’s good news for working students attending one of the many colleges and universities in Tempe, such as Arizona State University.

7. Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma is a mid-sized city in southwest Washington. The unemployment rate for workers in the city with some college education is 5.6%. According to the Census Bureau, that’s lower than the unemployment rate among all adults in Tacoma ages 16 and over (6.5%).

The state of Washington has one of the highest minimum wages in the country and Tacoma’s minimum wage is a bit higher. In 2017, working students in Tacoma will get paid $11.15 per hour.

8. Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo has the lowest unemployment rate in our study among workers with some college education: 0.6%. And thanks to the state’s low income tax rates, working students don’t have to worry about taxes taking a big bite out of their paychecks. Best of all, many students attending colleges in Fargo have access to a quality, yet affordable education. For the 2016-2017 school year, base tuition at the North Dakota State University – the top-ranking college in the state according to our best value colleges list – will be less than $7,000.

9. Lowell, Massachusetts

Since we released the 2016 edition of our analysis, the median rent in Lowell has increased by about 9%. But the state’s minimum wage has risen as well. College students who need to find part-time jobs can expect to be paid at least $11 per hour in 2017.

10. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota and has a population of roughly 171,530. The unemployment rate for workers with some college education is only 2.4%. So students have a good chance of finding a job, particularly if they’re looking for positions in one of the city’s top industries, such as the banking, food processing or bio-medical fields.

The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017

Methodology

To find the best cities for working students in 2017, SmartAsset found the unemployment rate (for workers with some college education or an associate’s degree) and the median rent for 232 U.S. cities with at least one four-year college or university. We also pulled the minimum wage for each of these places.

We took each of our three factors (the median rent, unemployment rate and the local minimum wage) and found the number of standard deviations each city rated above or below the mean. Then we totaled those values and created a single job score reflecting the strength of the job markets in all 232 major cities.

We also developed a score using the index from our study of the U.S. colleges offering the best bang for your buck (based on several factors including average starting salaries and the cost of college tuition). Whenever we had a city with multiple schools on our list of best value colleges, we looked at data for the local top-ranking school (based on our analysis).

Finally, we combined our job score with our college value score, giving the job score triple weight and the college value score full weight. We created our ranking by assigning each city a score between 0 and 100. The highest-ranking city for working students received a 100 while the lowest-ranking city for working students received a 0.

Note that in the 2016 edition of our analysis, we created our ranking by averaging our two scores. This year, we changed our methodology slightly to give more weight to our job-related factors.

Data Sources

Rent and unemployment data are based on one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Minimum wage data is based on the appropriate city, state or federal minimum wage.

In some states, the minimum wage for large companies is higher. In these instances, we used the state’s lowest minimum wage (i.e. the minimum wage for small businesses). In states with a different minimum wage for small business employees with benefits, we used the minimum wage for employees without benefits. In the states with a minimum wage that’s below the federal threshold, we used the federal minimum wage.

The data analysis for this study was completed by Nick Wallace.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/oneinchpunch

The post The Best Cities for Working Students in 2017 appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Martha’s Vineyard Estate From 1688 Tops This Week’s List of the 10 Oldest Homes for Sale

Martha's Vineyardrealtor.com

There’s something soothing about looking at things that have withstood the test of time. Perhaps that’s why our regular peeks at the oldest homes on the market are so darn popular.

The 10 oldest homes available for sale this week date all the way to the establishment of the 13 ragtag Colonies. Each represents a long-standing commitment to the stories they have to tell and to all the people who took care of these homes through the years.

The list is topped by an estate on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, that was established in 1688. The James Allen House sits right next to Chilmark Pond and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

The “newest” listing to crack the list was completed in 1760 and once served as a stagecoach stop. Today, it’s a lovingly updated family home with a living room where the tavern used to be.

Have a look at this week’s 10 oldest homes—we think they’ll serve as a refreshing antidote to today’s world.

1. 260 South Rd, Chilmark, MA

Price: $4,195,000
Year built: 1688
James Allen House: Spread over 6 acres, this waterfront estate includes a private Atlantic Ocean beach and deeded access to a dock on Chilmark Pond. The listing notes that generations of the same family have lived in and loved this Martha’s Vineyard retreat.

The grounds are landscaped with stone walls, fields, lawns, and walking paths. Buildings on the property include a two-bedroom guest cottage, a one-bedroom bunkhouse, garage, and garden shed.

The three-bedroom main house has a number of fireplaces and is surrounded by lovely views of the water.

Chilmark, MA
Chilmark, MA

realtor.com

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2. 99 Fisher St, Westborough, MA

Price: $579,900
Year built: 1727
Antique Colonial: Updated and well-maintained, this three-bedroom historic home sits on more than an acre at the end of a quiet dead-end street.

Highlights include a four-season room, a large dining room space with water views of Mill Pond, and a family room with beamed ceiling, plus a pellet stove. There’s also a basement, as well as a freshly renovated kitchen and bathrooms.

Westborough, MA
Westborough, MA

realtor.com

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3. 886 Vaughn Rd, Pottstown, PA

Price: $1,550,000
Year built: 1734
All-inclusive estate: Enormous by every conceivable definition, this estate of over 31 acres is only 40 minutes from downtown Philadelphia. The main house is a six-bedroom stone farmhouse dating to the Colonial era.

The spread includes the main home, a guest home, and a barn converted into a contemporary office building. The eclectic offering also has such amenities as an in-ground pool, a tennis court, paths, natural pond, motocross race course, and a field of solar panels.

Pottstown, PA
Pottstown, PA

realtor.com

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4. 10690 Allens Fresh Rd, Charlotte Hall, MD

Price: $925,000
Year built: 1739
Westwood Manor: This landmark home sits on a hill, surrounded by views and 30 acres of crop land.

The three-bedroom main house is one of only two known brick 18th-century gambrel roof structures still standing in Charles County. The home has retained many of its original details, including wood floors, molding, and two staircases.

Charlotte Hall, MD
Charlotte Hall, MD

realtor.com

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5. 540 Belmont Ave, Southampton, PA

Price: $549,900
Year built: 1745
Lemon Hill Farm: Behold this four-bedroom Bucks County retreat, recently updated with a new kitchen and bathroom.

Only the second home to be built in the original village, it’s brimming with antique details, like the pie stairs, millwork, wide-plank hardwood floors and built-ins. The 2.5-acre spread includes a carriage house that has been converted into a garage with a loft.

Southampton, PA
Southampton, PA

realtor.com

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6. 325 Main St, Old Saybrook, CT

Price: $895,000
Year built: 1746
Deacon Timothy Pratt House: A local landmark, this five-bedroom, center-chimney Colonial was recently renovated. It features a “treetop” third-floor bedroom suite with cathedral ceiling, exposed beams, sitting area, and private bath.

The half-acre property is listed on the National Historic Register and could be used as a bed-and-breakfast, according to the listing.

Old Saybrook, CT
Old Saybrook, CT

realtor.com

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7. 75 Fleshman Mill Rd, New Oxford, PA

Price: $400,000
Year built: 1740
Commercial potential: The seller is looking for someone to make an offer on this historic three-bedroom home, which is zoned for potential commercial use.

The owner is currently expanding the home to create two more bedrooms, and has a written history of the place ready to pass on to a buyer.

The 4-acre spread may need some work, but appears to have investment potential, plus plenty of historical value.

New Oxford, PA
New Oxford, PA

realtor.com

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8. 107 Changebridge Rd, Montville Township, NJ

Price: $998,000
Year built: 1752
Doremus House: This old home needs your finishing touches. According to the listing, the interior of this historic four-bedroom has been demolished and is ready for a new owner to finish the renovation of this classic property.

On more than 4 acres, it’s ready to be transformed into something special, and, for a development-minded buyer, the property has the potential to be subdivided.

MOntville Township, NJ
Montville Township, NJ

realtor.com

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9. 49 Gregory Hill Rd, Princeton, MA

Price: $849,900
Year built: 1760
Charles Russell House: This quaint, 4-acre property is bordered by stone walls and lilacs. The five-bedroom main house has wide pine floors, a walk-in pantry, and a sunroom overlooking the backyard.

The oversized attached barn has basement storage, plus a two-bedroom apartment with an updated kitchen and separate utilities.

Princeton, MA
Princeton, MA

realtor.com

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10. 310 Pleasant View Ave, Smithfield, RI

Price: $445,000
Year built: 1760
Steere-Harris House: Restored throughout, this antique four-bedroom Colonial offers a spacious 2,922 square feet of living area.

It was once a stagecoach stop, and the family room once served as the tavern. There’s also an outbuilding formerly used as a wash house, as well as a post-and-beam barn being used as a workshop.

For buyers interested in growing their own produce, the listing notes that the fenced-in vegetable garden has incredibly rich soil.

Smithfield, RI
Smithfield, RI

realtor.com

The post Martha’s Vineyard Estate From 1688 Tops This Week’s List of the 10 Oldest Homes for Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com