The firms that hold the 50 largest US based hedge funds on the Barron's Penta Top 100 Hedge Funds have roughly $6.1 trillion in assets. That’s more than the gross domestic product of the 37 smallest U.S. states combined. Furthermore, the $11+ billion that the 25 richest hedge fund managers made in 2016 is enough to end family homelessness within a decade. And the highest-paid hedge fund managers make over 45,000 times more than the average American worker.
So it makes sense that people pay attention to what they’re buying, selling and holding. We want to replicate their success. Hedge funds’ quarterly public disclosures, mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, give us a window into their recent activity.
After toiling in the workplace for decades, it seems only natural to expect financial security in our golden years. But few of us can look forward to a cushy retirement. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey, six in 10 workers reported feeling at least somewhat confident that they’ll have adequate finances to retire comfortably, but only 18 percent reported a high level of confidence. Nearly four in 10, in fact, have little or no retirement savings whatsoever. Many are even worried about covering basic living expenses once they leave the workforce.
If such a large proportion of American workers cannot grow a nest egg for their future, what other options provide a pathway to a comfortable retirement? For some, the only solution is to keep working. The EBRI survey found that four in 10 workers today expect to retire at age 70, as opposed to the median expected retirement age of 65. The alternative? Relocate to an area where you can stretch your dollar without sacrificing your lifestyle.
What should you expect when you’re expecting? Besides possibly the greatest joy of your life, you can expect to take a big hit to your wallet because having a baby is expensive. Between one-time expenses such as a crib and stroller and ongoing costs that include diapers and formula — not to mention unexpected financial emergencies — it’s easy to exceed even the most immaculately conceived budget.
One important expense to keep in mind is medical and hospital bills. According to the International Federation of Health Plans, Americans pay the highest birthing costs in the world, with the price tag of normal delivery averaging $10,808. A C-section goes up by another $5,298. Without maternity health coverage, including Medicaid, you can expect those prices to double or even triple.
The Verdict: The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card is both the best card that Wells Fargo (a WalletHub partner) has to offer and one of the best cash back credit cards from any issuer. But a limited-time offer has a lot to do with that. New applicants can now earn a $200 cash bonus for spending just $1,000 within three months of account opening. That’s tied for the second-biggest cash bonus among consumer credit cards, according to WalletHub’s database of 1,000+ offers.
Without its initial bonus, the Cash Wise Card is still very good, just not elite. It doesn’t charge an annual fee, which makes it over $16 per year cheaper than the average credit card offer. It gives you at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which is roughly 50% higher than the average cash rewards card’s base earning rate. And you even get a bit more (1.8% back) on mobile-wallet purchases for the first 12 months.
Drunk driving takes a terrible toll on the United States – one measured not only in dollars, but also far more importantly, in lives lost. It was to blame for 29% of motor vehicle fatalities in 2015, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It claims roughly 10,000 lives per year. And it costs Americans more than $44 billion annually.
There is good news, though. Drunk-driving fatalities dropped by 57% from 1982 to 2014, according to the NHTSA, as states have cracked down on the practice. As a result, motor vehicle crashes are no longer among America’s top 10 causes of death.
In an ideal world, children live carefree and have access to their basic necessities: nutritious food, a good education, quality health care and a sturdy roof over their heads. They need to feel safe and to be loved and supported by caring adults. When all such needs are met, children often have a strong chance of stability in adulthood. But in reality, not every child is so privileged — even in the richest and most powerful nation in the world.
The U.S., in fact, has the seventh highest rate of child poverty — over 29 percent — among economically developed countries. And by the end of the day, more than 1,800 cases of child abuse or neglect will have been confirmed, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.
To many of us, pets are family — only furrier, slimier and sometimes cuddlier than our human relatives. Naturally the nearly 85 million pet parents in the U.S. today seek out the places where their beloved companions can enjoy the highest standard of living — hopefully at the most reasonable cost.
Years ago, pet owners had access to only a handful of businesses offering animal services and supplies. Petco and PetSmart were among the biggest names. But new pet businesses are cropping up every day to fill the demand of this growing breed of consumers. Today, we spoil our pets with all kinds of luxuries, such as gourmet pet cuisine, upscale hotel accommodations and even pet “dating” services.
More Americans have access to health care today, but cost and service quality can vary widely from state to state. The overall health of the population, more advanced medical equipment and a general lack of awareness regarding the best types of treatment, for instance, can all drive up costs. Today, the average American spends nearly $10,000 per year on personal health care, according to the most recent estimates from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and that figure is expected to increase over time.
But higher costs don’t necessarily translate to better results. In its latest analysis of global health care quality, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the U.S. remains outperformed by several other wealthy nations on several measures, such as health coverage, life expectancy and disease burden, which measures longevity and quality of life. However, the U.S. has progressed in others, particularly “its ability to promote health and provide high-quality care, with some recent improvement in the accessibility of that care and a slowing of spending growth.”
Ultimate Rewards is the name of Chase’s rewards program, having replaced “Flexible Rewards” a few years ago. The Ultimate Rewards program features some of the most popular cards on the market, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus for Business.
Location, location, location are the three most important words in real estate. But the mantra applies to education, too. Indeed, where you live doesn’t just affect the value of your property; it also reflects the worth of your college degree — the same degree that may have put you in debt. With 11 percent of all student-loan debts in delinquency or default as of Q1 2017, graduates need to be selective with the places in which they choose to put their degrees to work. New York City, for instance, might boast a high average salary for a certain profession, but the high cost of living can outweigh the gains, leaving little to pay off college debt.
Save for mortgages, student loans make up the largest component of household debt for Americans. And our collective debt keeps growing. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, total outstanding college-loan balances disclosed on credit reports stood at $1.34 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The latest figure represents an increase of $34 billion since the end of 2016.
If you’re among the millions of HGTV viewers who’ve seen an episode of “Flip or Flop,” you’ve probably thought about the thrill of gutting a house and turning a five- or six-figure profit. But before you demo that pink-tiled ’80s kitchen, you need a stern reality check from the Property Brothers. Any experienced home flipper would caution you that transforming a real-estate beast into a bankable beauty is never as easy as it looks on TV.
In other words, don’t get your hands dirty until you’ve learned a thing or two about real estate, construction and how much damage your project could do to your wallet — and to the beam that’s keeping the roof from collapsing. Breathing new life into a low-cost property won’t necessarily return your full investment and allow you to pocket another $62,624, the average gross flipping profit in 2016. While home flipping enjoys its highest rate since 2007, according to RealtyTrac, the current homeownership rate is near the previous half-century low of 62.9 percent, which may translate to fewer potential buyers off the bat, depending on the location of your revamped property.
The dream of retiring on a sunny beach in Florida is alive and kicking. Despite more workers expecting to retire past the age of 65, Florida is still the destination that comes to mind when Americans envision their golden years. And the reason is simple: Florida crosses off many items on a retiree’s wish list, starting with cheap living costs, one of the biggest considerations for older Americans who’ve stopped working and rely on a smaller income. And while Florida’s health care needs work in some areas, it does boast high marks in direct primary care and pharmaceutical access, in addition to maintaining relatively good senior health, which is important for lowering out-of-pocket health costs in the state.
Beyond practical qualities, this Southern charmer is teeming with excitement. Here, retirees are likely to avoid boredom and burnout — common problems among this group — with a wide variety of choices for indoor and outdoor activities, coupled with volunteer opportunities and part- or full-time jobs. Throw in the wraparound coastline and foodie-worthy cuisine, and there will be nothing left to crave. Best of all, no one pays income tax, so every dollar goes a long way.
Securing a child’s academic success begins with choosing the right schools. But how can parents decide where best to enroll their kids? Because children develop and learn at different rates, the ideal answer to that question varies based on each student’s needs. Unfortunately, most parents don’t have the luxury of placing their children in exclusive, private or preparatory schools that are known for providing their students with greater individual attention.
For the majority of U.S. families, public education is the only option. But the quality of public school systems varies widely from state to state and is often a question of funding. Public elementary and secondary education dollars traditionally flow from three sources: the federal, state and local governments. According to EdCentral, states contribute nearly as much as local governments, while the federal government supplies the smallest share of the total. Some researchers have found that more resources — or taxes paid by residents — typically result in better school-system performance.
Homeownership isn’t for everyone. More than 111 million Americans have opted instead to rent their homes because of convenience, cost or both. But renting isn’t always a cheaper or better alternative to owning a property. Total expenses depend on the type of residence, the dweller’s income and local market health, among other important factors requiring careful consideration prior to signing a lease agreement.
Rental prices, for one, have soared over the years, according to a recent analysis of housing affordability by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Between 2010 and 2015, median home rent grew an average of 2.3 percent year over year while personal income declined by 0.4 percent annually over the same period. And with demand for affordable housing exceeding supply, 11.1 million renters today spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing, a group that federal housing agencies describe as “severely cost-burdened.”
You can forget Christmas in July. A number of states across the country are offering sales-tax holidays primarily during the dog days of August. Seeing as state sales taxes can be as high as 7%, these newfangled holidays offer a great savings opportunity for back-to-school shoppers, perhaps also giving those planning to wait for sales following the start of school reason enough to move up their timeline. This is especially true since After all, most sales-tax holidays specifically target for popular back-to-school items such as clothing, footwear, electronics and sports equipment.
College opens many doors. Besides providing invaluable cultural experiences and the opportunity to build lifelong connections, a college education can lead to better job opportunities and increase future earning potential. And the more degree holders earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
One way to strengthen an economy, the EPI suggests, is to attract well-paying employers “by investing in education and increasing the number of well-educated workers.” In states where workers have the least schooling, for instance, the median wage is $15 an hour compared with $19 to $20 an hour in states where 40 percent or more of the working population hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Local governments appear to be catching on and maximizing the appeal of their cities to college graduates.
Big cities are getting even bigger — fast. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, large urban centers today are growing at nearly twice the rate recorded during the opening decade of the 21st century.
And the factors fueling greater population density seem obvious: Big cities epitomize opportunity, economic or otherwise, which appeals especially to young professionals seeking advancement in their careers and social lives. The other main draw? Easy access to diverse dining and entertainment options that are comparatively scarce in more rural settings.
Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Today, about one in eight individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.
Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove detrimental to society as a whole. According to a report from Mission: Readiness, for instance, 71 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military due primarily to a lack of basic academic skills, criminal records or health issues such as obesity and diabetes. Research shows that environments where such problems are most prevalent often increase an adolescent's risk of adverse outcomes, including economic hardship, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood.
A credit card balance transfer is when you repay existing debt with a new credit card. This moves your balance to the new card but does not reduce the amount you owe. It can, however, get you a lower interest rate. And that would make your debt less expensive, allowing you to save money and pay off what you owe much faster.
Stress is inevitable. Everyone experiences some type and level of it. But it’s not always a bad thing. Certain kinds of stress can have positive effects on a person’s well-being — at least, in the right doses. According to Psychology Today, “A little bit of stress, known as ‘acute stress,’ can be exciting—it keeps us active and alert.”
When stress reaches an unmanageable level, however — that is, when it turns “chronic” — we become vulnerable to its damaging effects such as health problems and loss of productivity. In the U.S., stress affects more than 100 million people. The leading causes? Money tops the list, followed by work, family and relationships. By one estimate, workplace-related stress alone costs society more than $300 billion per year.