Why You Should Think About Renting Your Assets

renting your assets

With the rising cost of living and inflation rates, it has become necessary for many Americans to take on second jobs or look for a side gig. Today, nearly 45% of people have a side hustle of some sort. However, this can take a lot of extra time and energy that you probably don’t have. So, why not put the assets you already own to work for you? Here are a few reasons you should consider renting out your assets for extra cash.

Uncertainty for the Future

Since losing my dad last year, it has been tough for my whole family. While trying to navigate our lives without him, I have also taken on the responsibility of helping my mom with his finances and taking care of their property. I’m learning just how much of a physical and financial responsibility this really was. And, we aren’t certain if it is feasible or sustainable in the long term.

In addition to my mom’s physical limitations and health concerns, she is also living on a fixed income. It takes a lot to upkeep an acreage. However, she isn’t ready to leave the family home just yet. So, we’re looking at other ways to recover costs and maintain the property.

The idea that seems most promising is renting out assets to earn passive income. It could be a good opportunity for extra income if we can clear out some space and get things working again.

5 Advantages of Renting Out Your Assets

After talking to a few family, friends, and neighbors, here are a few reasons why we may consider renting out assets from my parents’ estate.

1. You can turn a profit from assets you aren’t using.

The most obvious advantage is the extra income. There are online platforms that provide a new way for you to earn money by renting out things you already own. And, you don’t have to invest any more money into it. You simply post your items, and the site facilitates the rest, including liability coverage to protect your assets.

If you aren’t sure that you have things people would want to rent, do some research. You might be surprised what people are looking for. For example, you can list:

  • a second home
  • extra bedrooms for tourists or long-term renters
  • office space
  • parking spaces in urban areas or near attractions
  • large outdoor spaces to host events
  • unused land for animals or agriculture
  • pools during the summer months
  • any type of storage space (including closets, basements, attics, garages, and outbuildings)
  • vehicles
  • tools
  • electronics
  • cameras and photography equipment
  • outdoor gear and sporting goods
  • designer clothing
  • baby items
  • extra bandwidth
  • money through peer-to-peer lending platforms

And this is just a short list of the most popular items. If you have any of the assets but don’t use them regularly, then you may want to consider renting them out for profit.

2. People earn more than you might expect.

The second advantage is just how much more you can make. On average, miscellaneous household items usually rent for $10-$50 per day. Although these could bring you a few hundred dollars every month, others could earn thousands.

If you don’t believe me, consider these facts:

    • Airbnb reported the average user made an additional $924 a month.
    • HyreCar says it’s possible to make an extra $12,000 a year by renting your car.
    • Designer apparel and accessories rent for hundreds of dollars per item per week.
    • A garage usually rents for around $600 a month. A large storage space, such as my dad’s pole barn, would rent for at least twice that amount.
    • Cash loans through peer-to-peer lending platforms earn an average of 5-6% on your investment. However, crowdfunding through real estate sites like Groundfloor can yield double-digit returns.

Although every investment comes with risks, it seems this is one side hustle that may pay off.

3. Most websites provide coverage for liability and property damage.

My biggest hesitation comes down to the risks that come with renting out your assets. These were my dad’s things. While they have value to others, we still want to show them proper respect.

When you rent things out, you expect to have maintenance and general wear and tear. However, we want to keep them in working condition. And if we decide to use the property, we don’t want to be liable if anything happens.

So, I was pleased to learn that most sites provide coverage for liability and property damage to protect your assets. Some sites like FriendWithA also run background checks to ensure you are dealing with trustworthy people. With these kinds of measures in place, my family is more likely to give it a try.

4. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Many items like tools and outdoor gear are expensive to buy, especially if you only plan to use them once. Although you may be able to borrow from someone, this isn’t always a great option.

On the other hand, many people who have these items don’t use them regularly. Not only does this take up space, but you also don’t get your value from them.

So, renting your assets is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties. In our case, my mom gets additional monthly income and the renters get a better price than if they rented from a commercial supplier.

5. It’s easier than other side hustles.

Every day, I see people making money through delivery and ride-share services. Others are earning extra cash from second jobs and other side gigs. But, the truth is that it’s tough. The average person puts in about 13 hours a week just to supplement their primary source of income.

Although she tries, my mom just doesn’t have as much energy as she used to. And she can’t commit as much time as it would require to see significant profits. But if she could rent out things she already owns, it’s a much easier way to earn passive income. And thousands of others are already doing it.

Things to Consider Before Renting Your Assets

While this may be a solution to my family’s financial problems, there are a few things to consider before jumping in head first.

  • You need to find the right platform and make your listing as appealing as possible.
  • Consider if the items you have are valuable to other people and what they are worth.
  • If you market yourself across multiple platforms for maximum exposure, you’ll be more successful.
  • Pay attention to the legalese in rental terms and protection policies to ensure you are covered.
  • Be careful when renting to family or friends.

If you are smart and find a niche that doesn’t have much competition, there is huge potential for growth. With enough success, you may discover that reinvesting in additional equipment could be a very profitable move.

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Budget Friendly Renovations to Increase Curb Appeal

As a homeowner, you want to keep your property looking and feeling fresh. One of the best ways of doing this is by undertaking a renovation project. In fact, according to House Method, 93% of homeowners said their quality of life improved after a home renovation. Here are a few cost-effective renovations to consider to increase your home’s curb appeal.

1. Plant Lasting Landscaping

You can create a landscape that draws the attention of anyone who passes by your property while still sticking to a budget. The secret is picking plants that require little maintenance and last a long time, such as irises, hostas, and peonies. Start with a small selection, then expand your collection by dividing perennials and trading with your neighbors and friends.

2. Set Up a Place for Relaxation

For a small amount of money, attractive outdoor seating can significantly improve the curb appeal of a porch or garden. Invest in simple yet eye-catching pieces of outdoor chairs or a reclaimed wooden bench. Use colorful pillows and cushions made of strong, weatherproof materials to add vibrancy.

3. Update House Numbers

Although they primarily serve a functional role, house numbers also offer an opportunity to add a touch of personality. Hang them on a mailbox post, wall-mounted plaque, planter, or anywhere else you want to add personality. Ensure the numbers are clearly visible from the street, especially at night, to make it easier for guests to find your address.

4. Repurpose Lantern Lights

Vintage lanterns and other thrift store finds are a great way of introducing a retro aesthetic to your home’s façade. Keep an eye out for unique lighting fixtures or other one-of-a-kind porch décor at garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. Lighting, patio furniture, and planters are great items for upcycling.

5. Introduce Symmetry

Almost everyone can agree that symmetry is attractive to the eye, but if your house wasn’t constructed with balance in mind, it could be challenging to achieve the effect. However, by styling your front porch or pathway with symmetry in mind, you can improve your home’s curb appeal without taking on an extensive remodeling project such as replacing the siding, which costs $8,500 on average, according to Inch Calculator. You can place identical rocking chairs on either side of the front entrance or matching potted plants flanking a flight of stairs.

6. Decorate With the Seasons

You can revitalize your home’s look with the seasons without forking out a lot of money. Choose simple, fresh accents inspired by nature to stay within budget. Purchase a few gourds, squash, and pumpkins for your fall decorations, then hang evergreen branches decorated with red ribbons for the winter. Colorful, in-season blooms are ideal for summer and spring.

7. Buy a Porch Swing

A porch swing creates a comfortable outside space to unwind and is like a breath of fresh air for your home’s exterior. Even though they may look expensive, porch swings can be affordable if you buy them in the off-season. If you’re up for the task, you can DIY your swing in only one weekend.

8. Highlight Your Favorite Features

A high-end aesthetic doesn’t always mean top-to-bottom luxury. The trick is to play to your home’s architectural style and strengths. If you’re on a tight budget, make one aspect of your exterior like the front door, lights, or shrubbery the focal point. Sculpted topiaries and well-maintained shrubs are also a great choice.

9. Install New Shingles

While the upfront cost of installing a new roof is high, its benefits will offset the investment. For example, new asphalt shingles last about 10 to 30 years, according to Peak View Roofing. You’ll enjoy reduced maintenance and repair needs in that period, saving you money.

Your curb appeal says a lot about the rest of your home. While enhancing it can be quite expensive, it doesn’t have to be. This read highlights budget-friendly renovations that’ll have a significant impact.

4 Ways to Survive in Your First Year of Business

Congratulations on starting your new business! The first year can be exciting and challenging, but with the right preparations, you can survive and thrive. One essential aspect to focus on is conducting necessary inspections and investing in your business’s infrastructure. Use this guide to help you through some of the essential steps you need to follow to have a successful first year.

1. Lease Renewal Negotiations

As a new business owner, money is likely one of your top concerns. Securing the right location for your business is crucial for success, and your lease terms can significantly impact your finances. Experts suggest that starting lease renewal negotiations 12 to 15 months in advance gives you plenty of time to create competition between landlords, ensuring you secure the best deal possible. The time buffer will also allow you to explore other options if you need to move.

By planning ahead and being proactive in negotiating lease renewals, you can save a substantial amount of money. In addition, you can ensure that your business has a stable home during its crucial first year. Perhaps most importantly, you get to live where you want!

2. Update Web Designs

In the digital age, your website is often the first point of contact between your business and potential customers. 38.5% of web designers believe that old designs are the top reason why visitors bounce out of a website. If your website is not visually appealing and user-friendly, you could be losing customers before they even have a chance to learn about your products or services.

Investing in a professional, modern web design can make a significant difference in attracting and retaining customers. Ensure that your website is easy to navigate, visually appealing, and accurately represents your brand. The investment can help increase customer engagement and conversion rates, ultimately boosting your bottom line.

3. Data Center Temperature Control

If your business relies on data centers, it’s important to keep them running efficiently and effectively. One critical aspect of this is maintaining the correct temperature. Around 80% of data centers employ or want to install hot or cold aisle containment systems. The systems help to keep servers at the correct temperatures and reduce energy use.

Investing in temperature control measures for your data center can save you money on energy bills. It will also extend the lifespan of your equipment. This will not only help your business run more efficiently but also contribute to its overall sustainability.

4. Embrace Customer Feedback

Incorporating customer feedback into your business practices can make a significant difference in your first year. Listening to your customer’s needs, concerns, and suggestions can help you identify areas for improvement and adapt your strategies accordingly. By making an effort to gather feedback and act on it, you demonstrate to your customers that you value their opinions and are committed to delivering the best possible experience. This approach will ultimately lead to increased customer loyalty, repeat business, and a positive reputation that will serve as a strong foundation for your company’s future growth.

Surviving your first year of business can be challenging, but by focusing on essential inspections and investing in crucial aspects of your infrastructure, you can set yourself up to reach your goals. Be proactive in lease renewal negotiations, ensuring that you have the best possible terms for your business location. Prioritize a modern, user-friendly web design to attract and retain customers. If your business relies on data centers, invest in temperature control systems for efficiency and longevity. Finally, take customer feedback seriously, and you’ll soon be on your way to running the successful company you’ve always wanted. Best of luck as you continue your journey!

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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