How Can You Get Extra Money from SSDI in 2023?


How can you get extra money from SSDI in 2023?

Navigating SSDI can be a challenge, but supplemental benefits are possible.

How can you get extra money from SSDI in 2023? If you are collecting SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), then unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to increase your payments. Payments are a calculation of former earnings, so your payments are likely set. However, there may be a few ways to increase or supplement your payments.

The SSDI Formula

The Social Security Administration calculates SSDI benefits as follows. Your highest monthly paychecks over your work history are averaged, so long as you have worked full-time and paid FICA taxes for 5 of the last 10 years before becoming disabled. The average of your monthly paychecks will then be adjusted for inflation. You will then receive a percentage of that calculated amount. In most cases, you will receive around 40 percent of your highest monthly average paycheck while you were working.

Your benefits will follow this formula. They are not based on health conditions. Consequently, you can’t reopen your case and try to get more income just because your health deteriorates, or you are diagnosed with a new condition.

Working While Collecting

One way to earn more is to work while still collecting SSDI benefits. SSA allows individuals to go back to work and still collect should their health improve enough to reenter the workforce. You are permitted to work up to 9 months during a 5-year period to see if you are well enough to go back to work full-time. There are no income limits during this trial period. You will have to report your work and benefit income, and there are caps that determine a trial month during the period.

Look for Other Benefits

Often, you may qualify for other benefits beyond just SSDI. Foot stamps, a cell phone credit, assistance with utilities (LIHEAP), and housing assistance are just some of the additional benefits that may exist. You can check availability online, or work with a local office or social worker in your area who can help you navigate the various programs and application processes.


SSI or Supplemental Security Income differs from SSDI, in that it doesn’t require that you have a work history to qualify. Supplemental Security Income is for individuals who don’t have a long enough work history to qualify for SSDI. This benefit program was traditionally known as “welfare” and comes from the government’s general tax fund. Most individuals on SSI receive the maximum benefit. In 2022 it was $841 for an individual and $1261 for an eligible couple.

Collecting SSI automatically qualifies you for Medicare, so your payments may be less than the max in order to cover the health care costs. It is often hard to get an increase in payments on SSI, but many states have supplemental programs where individuals can get more than the federal SSI amount.


The government usually announces a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to benefits including Social Security. There is no guarantee that a COLA increase will be announced every year, however. But this is one of the only other ways to get more benefits from disability.


How can you get extra money from SSDI in 2023? There are unfortunately not many options to increase your monthly payout once you sign up. You do have the option of working during the trial period granted by SSA, and you can seek out other benefits to supplement your disability income. Besides that, you will have to depend on the COLA increases from the government.

Depending on where you live your state may also offer benefits in conjunction with federal benefits. If you are in the process of signing up for disability, then you should work with a professional. Allow an expert to help you navigate the legal procedures and paperwork so you can get the maximum amount afforded to you.

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How to Protect Your Finances During Divorce

It’s easy to let the emotional upheaval of a divorce distract you from your financial responsibilities. After all, your financial situation will likely change as your marriage dissolves. However, you must have a plan for how to protect yourself in this new reality. This guide is designed to help you do just that.

Calculate Your Expenses

It is important to understand how your expenses will change if you are going through a divorce. Calculating your expenses is crucial to protecting your finances during a divorce. This means you need to consider all the costs associated with maintaining your current lifestyle, including rent or mortgage payments, utilities, phone bills, and insurance costs.

You also need to consider expenses for the upkeep of your car and home. For example, if you need new roofing, a stone-coated steel roofing has a Class A fire rating, a Class 4 hail impact resistance rating, is lightweight at only 1.4 lbs. per square foot, and is completely recyclable. This material can help save money in the long run because it will not need to be replaced as often.

Focus on Your Children’s Needs

After a divorce, the non-custodial parent spends around 88 days with the child annually. Therefore, if possible, you should focus on your children’s needs. If you can’t afford to pay for their expenses yourself, you should try to get help from your spouse or the other parent. You can do this by talking to them about it and explaining that you need financial assistance in raising your kids.

Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

It is important to protect your finances and credit if you are going through a divorce. The three major credit bureaus will provide you with a copy of your credit report if you request it. Over four billion records were potentially exposed due to data breaches in the first half of 2019, which is crucial information. You want to make sure you know your credit score and history before applying for loans or new credit cards. You also want to ensure that there are no suspicious charges on your account. If there are, contact the bank or company immediately.

Open a Separate Bank Account

You may not want to think about money when you’re going through a divorce. But it’s important to protect yourself and your finances, so opening a separate bank account is crucial. When you open a new account, ensure your name is on the account, not your spouse’s. Also, be sure to keep track of what goes into this account. It’ll come in handy when it comes time for financial settlements.

Take Stock of Your Assets

Make sure that you have a clear understanding of your finances. Your bank statements, credit card records, and other financial documents will be important during the divorce proceedings. You need to ensure that these are organized and easy to access at all times.

In addition to this basic understanding of your finances, it’s also important to know your assets and how they are valued. For example, if you own property or vehicles, get an appraisal done so that you know exactly how much they’re worth. You may also want to consider consulting with a financial planner before deciding what assets should be sold off as part of a divorce settlement agreement.

Talk to a Financial Adviser Before Settling Anything

A financial adviser can help you understand what’s going on with your finances and ensure that you’re not making any hasty decisions that could hurt your future well-being. They can also help you understand how the divorce process will affect your financial situation and give advice on protecting yourself during this time. Once you have this information in hand, it should be easier for both parties to devise a plan to divide their finances during the divorce process.

If you’re going through a divorce, you’re aware that it’s a difficult time. However, it need not be as challenging as you believe. With the right information in your corner and the right financial preparations, you can get through this process with your finances intact and your future bright.

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

You just scheduled your move with Black Tie Moving, and now it’s time to head to the grocery store. As you have just spent a considerable amount of money on your new home, you’re wondering how you can cut back spending in other areas of your life.

 Cutting back your spending on groceries can save you a ton of money in the long run. Here are some tips if you’re grocery shopping on a budget.

 Create a Budget

 We’ve all left the grocery store shocked at just how much money we spent. It’s easy to overspend on groceries when we don’t show up to the store prepared. If you’re wanting to cut back on your food spending, it’s important that you first set up a budget.

 Creating a grocery store budget doesn’t have to be complicated. You should start with saving receipts from your grocery hauls for a few weeks to keep track of how much you’re spending and on what. After you’ve analyzed where your money is going, it will be much easier to create a budget for your weekly trips to the store.

 Plan Ahead

 Grocery lists are underrated. You don’t often see people pulling out a piece of paper and checking things off their list as they walk down through the produce section. However, creating a list is key when you’re shopping on a budget. Whether you want to keep the list on your phone or write it down, find what works best for you.

 In order to create your grocery list, you’re going to need to plan your meals out ahead of time. You want to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snack items that you like to have on hand. Try and pick meals where you can make them in bulk – like chicken and vegetables!

 Start Couponing

 Coupons are a necessity when it comes to saving money at the grocery store. You may be used to receiving grocery store flyers in the mail and tossing them in the recycling. Not anymore! You’d be surprised with just how much money you could save by using coupons at the checkout.

 You’ll also find coupons in places you wouldn’t expect like local doctor’s offices or on the back of restaurant receipts. You want to use coupons to your advantage. After all, it’s saving you money on products you’d be purchasing anyway. It’s worth the few minutes it takes to cut them out and scan them at the store.

 Shopping Apps

 Did you know that there are some mobile apps that give you money back on grocery items? That’s right, there are currently hundreds of apps that pay you to shop for your food. Some apps are more user-friendly than others, but most of them are simple to navigate once you get the hang of it.

Upside is a popular app that’s designed for both grocery shopping and fueling up your vehicle. It’s incredibly easy to use for the consumer. All you have to do is open the app, check in where you are, select your method of payment, and the app does the rest. You can get up to 14% cash back on your entire grocery bill. The top users make around five-hundred dollars a year by checking in on Upside.



7 Bad Financial Habits You Need to Forget this 2023


With the new year upon us, it’s normal to reflect on the positive changes that we want to make in our lives. So when January 1st arrives, many people resolve to break their bad habits and establish good ones. Since many people struggle with managing their finances, it’s no surprise that many of these changes revolve around regaining control and building a more secure future. If you are looking to improve your money management skills or finally get out of debt, these are 7 bad financial habits you need to forget this 2023.

7 Bad Financial Habits You Need to Forget in 2023

1. Overspending

Your spending habits will set the tone for your lifestyle. If you are spending more than you bring in every month, you cannot establish sustainable habits. Overspending will undermine all your other financial goals. While splurging once in a while isn’t a crime, consistently overspending means that you are setting yourself up for failure.

And if you are prone to impulse shopping, this can be even more damaging. Blowing every penny you earn on things that provide instant gratification prevents any chance of improving your financial situation. Therefore, you must learn to live below your means if you ever hope to get out of debt or reach your savings goals.

2. Overindulging in Your Vices

Many people find comfort and relief through behaviors that aren’t good for their physical and financial health. For example, you may enjoy smoking, drinking, and fast food as a way of dealing with the stresses of everyday life. But, do you know how much it is costing you each month?

The average smoker spends about $1,000 a year and those who eat out regularly can spend the same amount within a month. While these behaviors may be okay in moderation, regular indulgence in these activities can hit your wallet hard. If your vices make it impossible to stick to your budget, then it may be time to kick these bad habits for good.

3. Always Paying with Credit Cards

If you have ever tried to get a loan or line of credit, then you know it’s impossible to obtain anything without a credit history. And credit cards are an important part of establishing that. However, you shouldn’t rely on them to get by from month to month.

If you are unable to pay off your monthly balances, the high-interest rates can quickly bury you in debt, especially if you are only making minimum payments. Those who are already struggling to pay down their debt don’t need this added burden. This is why many financial advisors will tell you to reduce your dependency on them. Monitoring your spending and using cash will make it easy to track your finances.

4. Ignoring Your Financial Situation

As hard as it may be to face the truth, you can’t ignore the reality of your financial situation. Burying your head in the sand won’t make your problems go away, On the contrary, it usually makes them worse. Small issues can quickly snowball into an avalanche of problems.

Therefore, you need to be honest with yourself about your financial habits. Start by assessing your situation to see where you are at. Then, make a plan to track your expenses, monitor your accounts, and regularly check your credit report. Once you know where you stand, you can take steps to get closer to where you want to be.

5. Not Taking Advantage of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Accounts

When you are living paycheck to paycheck, investing in your retirement may not seem as important as keeping the lights on or putting food on the table. While your immediate needs supersede future ones, you have to take action toward future financial security.

An easy way to get started is through employer-sponsored retirement accounts. And the best part is that you don’t need a lot to get started. Even small, regular contributions can grow into a sizeable nest egg over time thanks to compounding interest. If you aren’t taking advantage of your employer matching your contributions, then you are leaving free money on the table.

6. Not Tracking Your Invisible Expenses

Creating a budget is the first step in financial management. However, you have to be sure it is an accurate depiction of your finances.

Everyone knows that you must account for major living expenses like food and housing in your budget. However, many people overlook the “invisible” expenses that are tacked on to your bills. This could be anything from higher interest rates on your loans to increased premiums to hidden fees for services. Things that are easily overlooked and not factored into the final budget can tip the scales and put your finances in the red.

7. Procrastination

Procrastination is one of my worst financial habits. I often say that I will take action to get back on track, but then never follow through to make impactful changes. Without a doubt, it has hindered many aspects of my life.

However, if you don’t break this habit, it can also keep you from reaching financial freedom. This nasty habit encompasses many negative financial behaviors such as delay in creating a budget, not building an emergency fund, waiting to invest, continuing to pay for unused services, or even paying bills late and accruing unnecessary fees. If you are guilty of this as well, perhaps procrastination is one of the bad financial habits you need to forget this 2023.

Breaking the Habits

Like many things in life, breaking bad habits is much easier said than done, especially when they are deeply ingrained behaviors. But if you are serious about changing your finances in the new year, then you need to commit to taking action. You must first acknowledge your financial shortcomings and then find a path forward. But, don’t beat yourself up if you experience setbacks along the way. As long as you are putting in the effort and making progress, you will eventually reach your goals.

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Which States Are Americans Fleeing to Save Money?

The 5 States Americans Are Fleeing to Save Money

People move for many reasons: family, job opportunities, tax advantages, better climate…the list goes on. But, as the economic conditions persist and inflation remains high, the cost of living is becoming a more popular reason for people to move. Unfortunately, life in major metropolitan areas has become too expensive for some. Here are 5 states Americans are fleeing to save money and find a better quality of life for their budget.

The Cost of Living Index

Every year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics collects data from each state to compare the cost of living across the country. It then ranks each state based on the cost of living, or the bare minimum you need to afford basic living expenses such as housing, transportation, healthcare, utilities, and groceries.

As a means of measurement, it then created the cost of living index which provides a standard comparison from state to state. A score of 100 represents the national average. Currently, the average American household spends $5,111 per month on living expenses, or $61, 334 per year. A score below 100 means the cost of living is below average. Meanwhile, states with scores over 100 indicate that the cost of living is higher than the national average.

5 States Americans Are Fleeing to Save Money

So, what are the most expensive places to live? And, which states are Americans fleeing to save money?

1. New York

The Empire State claims the top spot for several reasons. First and foremost, a recent study from the Pew Research Center shows that New York had the single greatest population loss in the country. From 2020 to 2021, 1.58% of New Yorkers left the state. Although it was higher than in previous years, it has been a continuous trend.

Secondly, it has one of the highest cost of living index scores at 148.2. Housing expenses are 2.3 times more expensive than the national average, with the average single-family home valued at $373,880. Meanwhile, the average rent is over $1,700 for a two-bedroom apartment here. And, these averages are much higher if you are only looking at the costs to live in New York City. Those who live in the city have a median rental rate of $5,878 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.

Lastly, people here will find it harder to save and pay down debt. The living wage in New York is $110,225, but the average income is only $111,054. This leaves many living paycheck to paycheck, and looking to New Jersey for financial relief.

2. Hawaii

Hawaii has long claimed the title of the most expensive state. It has an index score of 193.3, reflecting that the cost of living here is nearly double the national average. Furthermore, the cost of housing is triple the national average, with the median value of a single-family home of $730,511. Even renting is expensive at $1,651 per month for a two-bedroom apartment. And since many items have to be shipped to the islands, groceries also cost about 50% more as well.

However, it still has one of the lowest poverty rates. Living wages are estimated to be $107,702 per year while the average income for a family of four is slightly higher at $118,223. Yet according to the analysis, Hawaii still experienced a population loss of -0.71% in 2021 alone, more than double previous years. This migration likely shows those who moved, seeking some relief from the price of living in paradise.

3. California

Although the cost of living here has always been notoriously high, inflation has made it even more expensive to live in the Sunshine State. The current index score is 142.2, over 40% more than the national average. The price of gas makes transportation costs here the second-highest in the country. And, housing expenses are more than twice the national average. The median value of a single-family home is $683,996 while the average rent runs about $1,600 per month. But, you can expect it is much higher in larger cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

With these prices and current wages, it’s hard to keep up with the cost of living. The current living wage is set at $110,255, but the median income is only $105,232. When you look at these figures, you can understand how it has the highest rate of homelessness in the country.

Life in California has become unsustainable for so many, that they have decided to seek greener pastures elsewhere. During the span of the study, California saw a population loss of -0.66%. And, this figure will likely increase as economic conditions persist.

4. Massachusetts

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes the fourth spot on our list of states that Americans are fleeing to save money. An index score of 135 makes it the fourth most expensive state to live in. However, it should be noted that the cost of living in Boston is much higher than in other areas of the state.

On average, residents of Massachusetts pay 77% more than the national average for housing. The average single-family home runs $518,203 and the median rent is about $1,360 a month. But, you will need triple this figure if you are looking in Boston. People in the Bay States also pay nearly 20% more for healthcare and groceries here.

However, it also has the highest household income in the nation at $140,309 while living wages are set at $121,414. But a population loss of -0.53% by 2021 proves that wages alone are not enough to keep people from leaving.

5. Illinois

Looking at the consumer price index and an index score of 94.3, Illinois may seem out of place on the list. However, it has one of the highest population losses with -0.89% growth from 2020 to 2021. This is the eighth consecutive year with 69% of all moves going out of state.

So, why are so many people leaving? The analysts at Kiplinger believe it is because Illinois is the least tax-friendly state for the middle class, with higher than average income, property, and sales taxes.

However, it is also important to point out that the figures for Chicago are drastically different from the rest of the state. And with almost 22% of the state’s population, it’s worth looking at Chicago on its own. The cost of living in the city is 33% higher when compared to the rest of the state and 25% higher than the national average. In this context, it makes more sense. Between the high cost of living and bitter winter weather, it’s no wonder people are looking for milder conditions.

Final Thoughts

Although many Americans are fleeing these states to save money, we can’t assume that the only reasons are financial. However, one thing is for certain; people are moving in search of a lower cost of living and a better quality of life.

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7 Things That Are Disappearing With the Pandemic

Things That Are Disappearing During the Pandemic

Many things have changed since the early days when Covid-19 first started to spread. And while more people are vaccinated now and life is returning to some sense of normalcy, no one can deny that certain things have permanently changed. For example, the way we view public health, how we communicate, and how the workforce is organized will never be the same. Looking back over the last few years, here are 7 things that are disappearing with the pandemic.

7 Things That Are Disappearing with the Pandemic

Although many things have changed, here are a few things that have affected nearly everyone since Covid-19 became a household concern.

1. Handshakes

When doctors and national agencies first realized we were in the midst of a pandemic, health experts recommended precautions to protect people from the virus. In addition to handwashing and masks, one of the most important was to minimize person-to-person contact.

Since Covid-19 is highly contagious, it makes sense that people would eliminate handshakes to reduce their risk of contracting it. However, people got inventive. Some started using other gestures to greet one another and seal business deals. Although it is a culturally entrenched behavior, handshakes may be phasing out with new generations who have been taught the danger of passing contagions through physical contact.

2. Offices

As the world went into lockdown, businesses had to adjust to keep their employees safe and their operations running. Therefore, many people were allowed to work remotely. Today, some companies have tried forcing employees back into the office. But, people seem to enjoy working from home. Not having to commute allows them more time with family and a better work-life balance.

Companies are also seeing the benefits. Since they no longer have to lease offices or pay utilities on large, commercial spaces, it drastically reduces their operating costs. Although some companies are resisting the transition, others have gone fully remote. If more corporations realize the financial advantages, Covid-19 may trigger the end of traditional office culture.

3. Local Shops and Restaurants

The service and retail industries were two of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Many locally owned shops and businesses suffered huge losses when the government implemented new public health standards for social distancing. But reducing staff and hours of operation wasn’t enough for some to survive.

After several months, smaller stores and restaurants were unable to pay their staff and continue covering the costs to do business. Unfortunately, they couldn’t compete with national retailers. So, many smaller shops had to permanently close their doors.

4. Movie Theaters

As a teenager, I spent every Friday night at the movies with my friends. And, the location changed every week since we had several different theaters to choose from around the city. Even as streaming services became more popular, many movie theaters were still thriving before the pandemic.

However, now a good number of them are scrambling to stay out of the red. Although many theaters have changed ownership or branding, you will still be able to find places to catch the latest flicks. But, it seems like they are fading away and may never reclaim the prominence they once had.

5. 24-Hour Walmarts

When it first entered the scene, this giant in the retail world set itself apart as the store that was always open. You could find anything you needed at Walmart, day or night. However, they announced that they would reduce their store hours when the pandemic hit in 2020.

Nowadays, stores no longer remain open overnight or maintain the same hours of operation during holidays. Although the policy changed two years later, it is still in place. Many hopeful shoppers have shared rumors that Walmart would return to their former 24-hour schedules. But, the Director of Walmart Press Office Corporate Communications confirmed there are no plans to make this happen. So, it seems the days of 24-hour Walmarts are already fading into our collective memory.

6. Cash

The decreased circulation of cash is not a new concern. In recent years, some governments have even tried to eliminate cash currency and have discussed ideas to go fully digital.

Although it may seem like a plot from a science fiction movie, digital payments have become more popular and e-commerce has been booming long before the pandemic began. In fact, it spurred their development and acceptance in the marketplace. And at the rate people are utilizing them, digital payments may replace cash transactions entirely someday.

In 2017, only 30% of all transactions were paid in cash. However, this has decreased even more thanks to Covid-19. With the fear of spreading germs through paper money and coins, even fewer use cash today. If people continue to choose alternative forms of payment, cash may not be the only currency disappearing with the pandemic.

7. Privacy

One of the greatest losses over the last few years has been our personal privacy. If you have a smartphone or use the internet, you should assume that you have no privacy, and you need to act accordingly.

Nowadays, hackers and businesses alike can track every keystroke and click you make. Some use it to steal your information while others analyze your web activity for marketing purposes. However, even your personal devices track your movement with sensors and GPS data. And, if you use a smartwatch, they can even access information about your personal health

While you should always take precautions to protect your data, it is nearly impossible to operate in modern society without the internet. That is, unless you plan to live off the grid. So unless you can rely on your survival skills, personal privacy may be a thing of the past.

Keep in mind this list is not intended to be all-inclusive since many things are disappearing with the pandemic. What do you think has changed most since the pandemic began? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

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Are Porch Pirates Affecting Your Holiday Plans?

Are Porch Pirates Affecting Your Holiday Plans?

While wooden ships and hidden treasures may be a thing of the past, piracy is still alive and well. However, it looks a little different today. People have adapted to modern trade and e-commerce. Instead of waiting in ambush, now porch pirates will take things right from your front steps. Here’s what you need to know to make sure their crimes won’t interfere with your holiday plans.

What Is Causing the Rise of Porch Pirates?

Porch pirates are not a new phenomenon. There have always been people who seize packages from homes while the owners are away. It’s only recently that they have been dubbed “porch pirates.”

And sadly, it seems like it is becoming a more common practice. Part of the reason is that so many more people shop online. So, it’s relatively easy and most people get away with it. Some rationalize their actions because they see it as a victimless crime since most shippers or retailers replace stolen goods.

In most instances, porch piracy is a crime of opportunity. Walking off with an unknown package could result in a big payoff if it contains expensive electronics or other items they can resell. Unfortunately, it is occurring more frequently and will probably only get worse.

How Much Financial Damage Do They Cause?

When asked, nearly 64% of Americans reported that they had stolen packages last year. And although the holiday season has just started, a recent survey found that an estimated 260 million packages have already “gone missing” this year.

The sheer number is staggering. But when you consider that the average value of these packages ranges from $50 to $200, the financial impact becomes clearer. According to UPS, 1.7 million packages go missing every day, totaling $25 million in lost or stolen goods.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Porch Pirates?

Although you may be tempted to take things into your own hands, it’s wiser to take preventative measures against future theft. You don’t want to end up in a legal situation because you were trying to protect your personal property or teach someone a lesson.

1. Install a security system.

Even those who work from home can’t be there all the time. But, you can install a quality security system. Adding a doorbell camera, motion detector lights, and a security system will help you keep an eye on things while you are away.

Video surveillance allows you to monitor activity and confirm deliveries, and possibly provide evidence if someone does steal your packages. As an added bonus, you can speak directly to people through the doorbell camera to scare them off. Something as simple as posting a sign and making cameras clearly visible could also act as a deterrent.

2. Track your package and verify delivery.

Merchants usually send you the tracking number with your purchase. If the package is taking longer than expected, check the status online. You can also set alerts and updates, and many carriers will send photos of the delivery. However, you can add an extra layer of security by requiring a signature so packages are not left outside.

3. Become familiar with your delivery people.

One thing people don’t often think about is discussing mail issues with their carriers and delivery people. Sometimes they make mistakes and send things to the wrong house. Other times, there are errors on the shipping labels.

But if you are dealing with porch pirates, you can make them aware of the problem. And, you could also ask them to place your packages somewhere out of sight so porch pirates don’t target your home.

4. Add delivery instructions for your packages.

Another idea is to include delivery instructions at the time you order. Many sites provide space to include special instructions. If you are afraid the package will go missing, specify where you want it left so it isn’t in plain view. Then, there is less chance someone will see it and be tempted to steal it.

5. Talk to your neighbors.

Our neighbors frequently end up with our packages. So before I make any claims, I check around to see if it was delivered to the wrong house. However, if other people have had packages go missing as well, it could turn everyone on to a bigger problem.

Networking in your neighborhood is always a good idea. You can watch for suspicious activity and keep an eye on each other’s homes when you are away. Creating a neighborhood watch could prevent more thefts and major holiday headaches.

6. Contact the seller and shipping service.

If you are certain your item was stolen, contact the seller or shipping service. They may already have theft insurance. Furthermore, many carriers offer reimbursement or compensation through their claims process. So even if something goes missing, you will likely receive a replacement once you file a claim.

7. Purchase homeowners or renters insurance.

There are several good reasons to purchase homeowners’ or renters’ insurance.  Porch pirates are one more you can add to the list. Your policy should protect against financial losses caused by package theft under personal property coverage. Just be aware of the policy limits, because it may not cover the full expense of electronics, fine art, jewelry, or cash.

8. Send your packages to the office.

You can avoid the issue altogether by having packages sent to your office or place of business. It’s a convenient option for smaller packages, but may be impractical for larger ones. Just remember to make sure that your boss is aware and okay with the arrangement before you flood the mail room with your holiday purchases.

9. Pay for receiving services.

If you receive multiple packages each week, it may be worth paying for receiving services. Many large delivery services rent lockers for a monthly fee. It could be a secure and practical solution for you if they have locations near your home or office.

10. Pick up your packages in person.

While it may be more inconvenient, sending your packages to the post office or distribution center is 100% secure. The only person they will release your package to is you. Picking up your items in person will ensure that you get every delivery on time and that nothing goes missing.

What Do You Do If You Are a Victim?

If you are a victim, follow the same steps to document everything as if you were making a claim for a car accident.

The first step is to contact the police and file an official report. The insurance companies may require it later during the claims process. You should also include all additional documents or photos you have. For example, you can provide any video footage you have of the theft. And, include any notifications and documentation of the delivery.

When you have everything in order, contact your insurance company to file the claim. But, you don’t want to delay too long since claims have to be promptly submitted. If you wait too long, it could cause them to deny your claim.

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10 Low Paying Jobs in Need of a Salary Increase

10 Low Paying Jobs in Need of a Salary Increase

Many of us are feeling the impacts of the economic downturn and rising inflation rates. But as the cost of living continues to rise as well, minimum wage workers fear that they will no longer be able to afford the bare essentials. And with 125 million or 61% of Americans already living paycheck to paycheck, there is cause for concern. However, some positions have been notoriously underpaid for decades, hardly providing a living wage. Here are 10 low paying jobs that desperately need a salary increase to keep up with the rising inflation.

10 Low Paying Jobs in Need of a Salary Increase

Based on the reported earnings to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics from 2021, the following list includes low paying jobs in need of a salary increase. Keep in mind that this list doesn’t look at each position, but rather groups several low paying positions by industry. If you would like to see the breakdown by each job, you can view the full report here.

1. Fast Food Workers

The fast-food industry has been one of the hardest hit by labor shortages. But after learning how much they earn, it leaves little doubt as to why.

Fast-food service remains among the lowest-paying industries. Most positions are below the poverty threshold to support a 4-person household. Cooks are the lowest earners with an annual average salary of $25,490. Counter Workers come next at $26,060, and dining room staff earns slightly more with $27,690 per year.

2. Restaurant Staff

The restaurant industry in general has been struggling since the pandemic began. Although more people have returned to eating in restaurants, some never recovered and were forced to close their doors.

When the restaurant isn’t earning much money, then it can’t afford to pay its staff. Unfortunately, employees who relied on tips were not even earning minimum wage at times. When you see how much restaurant positions take home before taxes, some salaries are barely enough to live on, let alone build savings.

    • Host/Hostess $26,000
    • Dishwashers $27,350
    • Servers $27,520
    • Bussers and Barbacks $27,690
    • Food Prep and Service $28,810
    • Bartenders $30,340

3. Entertainment and Recreation Attendants

People need entertainment as an outlet from the demands of their job and the stresses of daily life. Attending events, going to amusement parks, and catching a movie can help you slow down and enjoy life.

However, those who provide these services may be experiencing their own financial stresses. This category includes different types of positions from ticket-takers to ushers and attendants. Any way you look at it though, they only earn an average annual salary between $26,110 and $27,170, depending on the position.

4. Cashiers

Any business that sells products or services will need cashiers to handle the transactions. While it is an entry-level position, they plan an important role in the corporate structure. But a position as a cashier usually means working long hours for little compensation. Most companies hire people for an average salary of $26,770 a year.

5. Child Care Workers

You would think that the people we trust to care for our children would be higher up the pay scale. Sadly, child care positions are low paying jobs in need of a salary increase. Child care workers have a very busy and demanding job. Furthermore, the well-being of many children directly depends on them. However, they only earn an average salary of $27,680.

6. Hospitality Staff

When you are traveling, it is easy to overlook how important each position within the hotel is. From check-in and food service to special requests, hospitality staff make it their job to take care of you when you’re away from home.

Unfortunately, they don’t earn much for their efforts. A desk clerk earns about $28,040, while maids and housekeeping cleaners make a little more at$29,580. Baggage carriers and porters can expect about $30,040 per year.

7. Healthcare Aides

Medical professionals have been tried and tested over the last few years. The strenuous conditions have caused many people to retire or leave the field. The resulting staffing shortages have made healthcare all the more difficult.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are trying to promote and train doctors, nurses, and new medical staff to meet the demand. Many employers are even offering more financial incentives to fill these positions.

But, there has been little financial gain for healthcare aides who have an important function in day-to-day care. Orderlies take home about $33,440 while personal care and home health and personal care aides earn slightly less at $29,260 a year.

8. Agricultural Workers

Farmers across the country are responsible for growing the food that feeds our country. However, agricultural workers have a very thankless job. It includes long hours, hard work, and minimal pay. Although agricultural workers can earn more depending on their skills and training, the average agricultural worker brings home about $32,450 a year.

9. Security Guards

Security guards play an important role in assisting the local police. They often provide manpower to patrol buildings, monitor commercial areas, and investigate suspicious activity. Many even carry a weapon. However, they are not well compensated for the level of danger the job entails. A security guard earns an average salary of $35,830 per year.

10. Teachers

In other cultures, teachers hold revered positions. But, that isn’t the case in the U.S.

It’s no secret that teachers don’t get into it for the money. A preschool teacher is the lowest paid position requiring a degree. They earn an annual salary of $36,460 while other teachers earn anywhere from $10-$20k more. But even this salary bump is very low when you consider how important they are in shaping young minds.

Final Thoughts

While gaining new skills, certifications, or degrees can help you increase your income, it doesn’t change the fact that some jobs are severely underpaid. Having held many of these position on this list over the years, I understand why people get burnt out working long hours for little pay. However, the nation could be facing a serious labor crisis if people decide they are burnt out and no longer willing to perform these jobs at the same pay level.

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Is the Housing Boom Over?

Is the Housing Boom Over?

For the last two years, the housing market has been booming. But after going on a tear, there are signs that changes are ahead. Many hopeful people are wondering, is the housing market finally cooling off? This would come as welcome news for prospective buyers who have been priced out of homes or stuck in bidding wars. Based on market analysis and recent trends, there are several indications that the housing boom may be over.

The Housing Market Since Covid-19

There have been drastic fluctuations within the real estate and housing markets over the last few years. Namely, everything has gotten more expensive. The national average price of homes has increased by 30% since the pandemic began. In 2020, the national average was $329,000, but prices peaked in May 2022 at $430,000.While people expect the normal increase between 3-5% each year, prices rose by 12% in 2020, and 15% in 2021.

These figures represent the national average, but home prices vary greatly between states. California, Hawaii, and Washington D.C. have seen the greatest increases with the most expensive average home prices. However, the median cost for a home in Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia is well below the national average.

As the economy rebounded from the impacts of Covid-19, it became a seller’s market. There were growing demands for homes, but only a 1.7% increase in the number of available units. Since the supply couldn’t keep up with the demand, home prices skyrocketed across the country. But now that prices are stagnating, economists believe that there are changes ahead.

8 Signs the Housing Boom is Over

Due to recent trends, some analysts believe that the spike in the housing marketing may be leveling off, with hopeful anticipation that it may even be in decline. Based on recent sales data, there may be some indications that the housing boom is over.

1. Major markets are cooling down.

Cities like Phoenix, San Diego, and Denver saw some of the steepest increases in the real estate market. However, prices have started receding in the last few months.

In August 2021, prices increased by 30.9% in Phoenix. However, a year later there was only a 17.8% increase. In San Diego, prices were up 23.2% in 2021, but only 13.7% for 2022. Additionally, Denver residents saw an 11.4% increase in 2022, down from 19.5% in the previous year. If these trends continue for the next few months, it’s safe to say that some of the hottest markets look to be cooling down.

2. Inventory is increasing.

Of course, available inventory will vary between markets. But generally speaking, there are more homes available on the market today than in the last two years. Based on data compiled by Redfin, there were 1.8 million homes for sale in August while only 1.1 million were listed in January of 2022. And if there is more competition, that usually means lower prices.

3. Prices are falling.

The national average for the price of homes peaked in Q2 of 2022 at nearly $430,000. Since then, median home prices have fallen, now settling around $389,500.

Although this is s positive sign, it should be taken in stride. Sales data can change from month to month, with slight increases in some cases. However, the general trend shows that prices are falling. This comes as a huge relief to potential buyers who have been priced out of purchasing a home or forced into bidding wars. If prices continue to fall, more people may finally be able to afford their own homes, providing further relief in the rental market as well.

4. Houses are selling below the asking price.

During the height of the boom, realtors expected nearly every home to sell above the asking price. In many instances, interested buyers had to incentivize owners to sell to them by waiving inspection fees, writing personal letters, or paying extra to convince them to sell. Now, more homes are selling at or below the original asking price.

5. Homes are staying on the market longer.

Looking back, it was also common for a home to sell the first day it listed, sometimes within hours. People rushed to snatch up listings before the competition had a chance to act. Because of this, homes rarely stayed available for more than a few days and brought dozens of interested buyers.

However, houses have been staying on the market longer. In August 2021, the average number of days on the market was 17; in 2022 it was 26 days. This number is likely to continue growing as the holidays approach and the year comes to a close.

6. Sellers are reducing the asking price.

Sometimes people make mistakes and misprice their homes. This can scare people off, so the seller may reduce the asking price to attract more attention. But, more and more people have had to lower their initial asking price in recent months.

The same figures from August show that 21.7% of listings had to reduce their price, a drop of 9.2% from the year before. If the tide is turning to a buyer’s market, homeowners will have to become more conservative when they set their price point.

7. Mortgage rates are increasing.

The rise in the housing markets hasn’t gone unnoticed by the federal government either. One way national policy can influence the housing market and slow price increases is by increasing interest rates. Since it affects mortgage rates, it often discourages people from buying homes. As a result, buyers become more hesitant to purchase a home, and prices tend to drop.

According to Freddie Mac,  the average 30-year fixed-mortgage rate was at 3.22% at the beginning of 2022. However, it soared to 7.08% by the end of October.  Although experts hope rates won’t continue to increase, the trend is likely to continue until inflation has been curbed.

8. Home construction is also increasing.

The lack of available homes put an enormous amount of pressure on the housing market. Since the cost of construction materials was high, it severely limitd the number of new builds. But, more people are breaking ground and building new homes. THis should help supply issues and help stabilize prices over the next few years.

Getting Down to the Brass Tacks

No one can deny that the market has been on a tear since the pandemic. However, national sales data shows that these drastic increases may be slowing. It could be a sign that the housing boom is over and turning from a seller’s to a buyer’s market. Or, it could just be a slight stagnation as inflation continues to affect prices. We can make educated guesses, but no one can predict what the markets will do.

While it’s wise to try and buy when prices are low, you shouldn’t put off a home if you need to buy now. If these trends continue, it may be a good idea to start looking at prospective properties or shop around for mortgage lenders. That way, you’ll be ready and pre-approved for a loan when the right opportunity comes along.

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Can Your Credit Score Affect Your Apartment Rental Application?

Rental properties are an extremely popular housing solution for many people. Around 35% of households don’t own a home, and instead choose to rent from landlords. If you’re one of the many people that choose to rent instead of own a home, it’s important to save money, get your finances in order, and improve your credit score. Below are some of the many reasons your credit score will impact your rental application, and what you can do to fix them.

Bad Credit Might Indicate You Can’t Pay Bills

Around 35% of your credit score depends on how promptly and reliably you pay your bills. Prospective landlords will want to see that you will be able to make rent on time every month. If your credit score is low because of late or unpaid bills, it might send a red flag that you won’t be able to afford your monthly rent or don’t have the ability to spend your money appropriately.

There are a few things you can do to improve this part of your credit score. Start by ensuring all your bills are paid on time every month. You might also want to set up automatic payments so you never have to worry about forgetting a bill again. If you have any outstanding debt, make sure to pay it off as soon as possible. The sooner you can show landlords that you’re responsible with your money, the better chance you have of getting an apartment rented in your name.

Bad Credit Might Mean Higher Interest Rates

If your credit score is low and you’re approved for a rental, you might be asked to shell out more money each month. Landlords could require a higher deposit or ask for last month’s rent upfront. In some cases, they might even ask for a co-signer on the lease to help mitigate any risk they perceive in renting to you.

A good credit score can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it’s important to take the time to improve your credit before applying for an apartment. You can improve your credit score by reducing your debt. If you have any outstanding debt, make sure to speak to a debt consolidation company about getting rid of your debt by allowing you to pay it off over time with a lower interest rate.

Bad Credit Might Keep You from Getting Approved

If your credit score is really low, some landlords might deny your application outright. In this case, you’ll need to take the time to improve your credit before applying for another apartment. Fortunately, for those with severe debt, filing for bankruptcy might be a good option. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debts like credit card balances, medical bills, personal loans, and overpayments can be discharged, giving you greater freedom as you move forward. While it will stay on your credit report for 7-10 years, it can give you a chance to rebuild your credit and improve your financial standing.

Bad Credit Can Make You Suspicious to Landlords

When landlords are looking at rental applications, they’re not just looking at your credit score. They’re also looking at your rental history, employment history, and criminal background. If you don’t have a strong rental history or if you’ve been fired from jobs in the past, that can alarm prospective landlords. In some cases, a shady past combined with a low credit score can be enough to keep you from getting approved for an apartment.

If you’re looking to improve your chances of getting approved for an apartment, start by working on your rental history. If you don’t have much of a rental history, get a roommate or try to sublet an apartment for a few months. This will show landlords that you’re responsible with money and capable of paying rent on time. If you have any arrests or convictions on your record, make sure to disclose them upfront so there are no surprises later on.

No matter what your financial situation is, it’s important to remember that your credit score matters. If you’re looking to rent an apartment, make sure to take the time to improve your credit score