2015’s Most & Least Ethno-Racially Diverse Cities

Cities with the Most and Least Ethno Racial and Linguistic Diversity BadgeIn many American cities, the grass isn’t just greener — it’s more colorful, thanks to rapid ethnic and racial diversification within the past four decades. High immigration rates, a surge in native births and a rise in the number of interracial partnerships have significantly altered the social fabric and economic landscape of the U.S.

Since 2011, more than half of all U.S.-born children have been identified as ethnic or racial minorities. By 2020, the total minority population will have grown to 40.7 percent from 30.9 percent in 2000. But change isn’t confined to the next four years. By its estimates, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that no single ethnic group will comprise the majority in the U.S. for the first time in 2044.

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2015’s Most and Least Energy Efficient States

WH Best Badges Energy EfficiencyEnergy is expensive. It’s one of the biggest household expenses for American consumers, who, on average, spend nearly $2,000 a year on energy bills. About half of that pays just for heating and cooling.

But energy has much broader implications on the national economy and the environment. According to a McKinsey & Company report, an estimated $520 billion initial investment on energy efficiency measures could save the economy more than $1.2 trillion in the future and potentially reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons — “the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads.”

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Cashier’s Check Fraud & Scams: How To Spot A Fake

Cashiers Check Scams

Consumers and merchants often rely on the security of cashier’s checks for major transactions such as the purchase of a home, car or jewelry. But “security” in this case simply means that cashier’s checks won’t bounce because the issuing banks take full responsibility for covering payment. They aren’t, however, secure from fraud and scams.

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2015’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities

WH Best People with Disabilities BadgesWhen searching for a new city to call home, most people share a common list of priorities — affordability, jobs, schools and attractions among them. But people with disabilities often have a larger list of considerations. Factors such as the accessibility of various facilities, the quality of health care and even the cleanliness of the air can take precedence over others. The availability of such elements allows them to play an important role in the community and make significant contributions to the economy.

In the U.S., people with disabilities bring valuable skill sets to the workplace that build upon the strength and diversity of the American labor market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly five million people with disabilities were employed in 2014. However, the unemployment rate for those with a disability continues to be almost double the rate for persons without one.

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2015 Banking Landscape Report

2015 Banking LandscapeAfter nearly seven years of historically low, near-zero interest rates, the Federal Reserve is believed to be on the verge of opening the door to better banking returns. But what does that mean for the average consumer or small business owner? Is it time to pull funds out of equities and instead stash them in increasingly attractive, low-risk deposit vehicles – such as savings accounts and CDs? And, if so, which types of accounts will prove most fruitful?

In the hope of answering those pressing questions and providing strategic guidance to frugal consumers, WalletHub analyzed the rates, fees and features associated with more than 2,000 checking and savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs from banks and credit unions of all shapes and sizes across the country. Check out our findings below and use the trends and tidbits we unearth to make the smartest possible financial decisions.

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2015’s Cities with the Fastest Growing Economies

WH-Best-Badges-150x150Some cities have the best of everything: the jobs, the schools, the museums, the nightlife, you name it. They know the recipe for attractiveness. But other cities like Detroit are still mired in recession. Chances of their economies turning upward are slim. And their most productive citizens — an economy’s best chance of recovery — are compelled to search for greener pastures.

In 2014, the U.S. recorded its lowest population gain since the Great Depression. Growth stood at .73 percent, largely in contrast with the 5 percent of the 1990s, a period of prosperity. Demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution attributed the decline to the economic downturn. Not only did the crisis deter job-seeking migrants from flocking to the U.S., but it also discouraged couples from having children. Meanwhile, population numbers shifted across states, creating short- and long-term effects on local economies.

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2015’s Best and Worst States for Teachers

2014 Best and Worst States for Teachers BadgesMost educators don’t pursue their profession for the money. But that doesn’t justify paying teachers any less than they deserve, considering the profound difference they make in people’s lives. In reality, however, teachers across the U.S. are shortchanged every year — their salaries consistently fail to keep up with inflation — while the law demands they produce better students.

It’s no surprise that the high turnover rate within the field has been likened to a revolving door. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about a fifth of all newly minted public-school teachers leave their positions before the end of their first year. And nearly half of them never last more than five.

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2015’s States Where Hispanics Are Most Assimilated

Hispanic Assimilation BadgeComing to America can be a challenge for immigrants. Adapting to a new way of life is another — and sometimes more painful. As one researcher described it, cultural assimilation is “an ongoing social process.” It requires far more than learning to speak the dominant language or count money in the local currency. “Full integration into U.S. society and economy generally takes more than one generation, with children of immigrants reliably outperforming their parents in educational attainment, occupational status, wealth, and home ownership,” according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Today, the Hispanic community comprises 17.4 percent of the total U.S. population and is the second fastest-growing ethnic minority group behind Asians. Much of their growth in the past decade-plus has been fueled by natural U.S. births. If the achievement of full integration indeed requires at least one subsequent generation, as the MPI points out, then areas where such births have occurred theoretically will reflect successful assimilation of a group.

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2015’s Most & Least Fair State Tax Systems

WH-Best-Badges-150x150With summer ending, the 2016 elections are starting to heat up. And, as usual, tax policy is a hot-button issue, as political candidates from both sides of the aisle claim their plan is more “fair.” But what does a fair tax system look like? Which states actually have the fairest tax systems?

WalletHub analyzed and ranked the 50 states based on the fairness of their state and local tax systems — including income taxes, sales and excise taxes, and property taxes. To rank the states, Wallethub used the results of a nationally representative online survey of 1,050 individuals to assess what Americans think a fair state and local tax system looks like. Our analysts then compared public perception to data on the real structure of tax systems in all 50 states.

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2015’s Most and Least Happy States in America

WH-Best-Badges-150x150The question of whether money can buy happiness has continually baffled humanity. The ideal, morally principled response is of course “no.” But money can indeed contribute to happiness — that is, up to a certain dollar amount. A comprehensive study on the topic suggests that life satisfaction — one of the two main components of happiness besides emotional well-being — increases as income rises but only up to $75,000 a year. Beyond that, money makes little difference in a person’s overall happiness.

Reinforcing those findings are the annual results of a Gallup-Healthways poll, which measures well-being around the world. According to the pollsters, “People who make more money tend to report higher positive emotions.” But income isn’t the only determinant of personal happiness. Apart from financial security, a pleasant state of being also depends on one’s physical health, job satisfaction, environment, social connectivity and general outlook on life — among others.

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2015’s Most & Least Recession-Recovered Cities

WH-Best-Badges--Recovery-150x150For many Americans today, the Great Recession is nothing more than the distant shadow of a troubled economic past. The longest downturn since the Great Depression officially ended six years ago. Cities coast to coast have completely bounced back — some even surpassing their pre-recession economic levels, thanks to lucrative industries that helped them rebuild or stay afloat through the crisis.

Yet the effects of the recession still reverberate in various parts of the U.S., falling deeper into debt and leaving millions of Americans wondering whether the recession has indeed blown over. Since 2008, a total of 14 municipalities, including Detroit, have declared the rare Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

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Cost Of Owning A Dog: Averages & Most Expensive Breeds

Cost of Owning a Dog

From food to medical care to pet insurance (should you decide to buy it) there are myriad costs associated with caring for any dog – or any pet, for that matter. In fact, the average dog owner spends roughly $180 each month on their furry friend, according to WalletHub research and estimates from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Pet Products Association (APPA).

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2015’s Best and Worst States to Have a Baby

2014-Best-and-Worst-States-to-Have-a-Baby-BadgeHaving a baby is expensive. And depending on where you raise that bundle of joy, you might need a deeper pocketbook than other expectant parents. Between one-time expenses such as a crib and stroller and ongoing costs including diapers and formula, couples need to take a careful look at their life circumstances as well as their finances before starting a family.

According to the International Federation of Health Plans, Americans pay the highest birthing costs in the world. The average price tag of conventional delivery at a U.S. hospital is $10,002. Add another $5,238 to that for a C-Section. In the Netherlands, the cost of a normal birth pales in comparison at $2,824 and dips to an even more modest $2,251 in Spain.

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2015’s Best & Worst Cities for Sports Fans

Cities-for-Sports-Fans-BadgeTo say that Americans love sports is an understatement. It’s in our blood. We value sports as much for their personal and social benefits as for the thrill and drama of the game. In the U.S., nearly three quarters of all adults claim to be fans. We spend, on average, nearly 8 hours per week tuning in to our favorite sport or about 11 hours playing it.

But we also cheer on our favorite teams with our wallets. Every year, the North American sports industry rakes in upwards of $60 billion from ticket and merchandise sales, media rights and sponsorship fees. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that figure to rise another $10 billion a year by 2018. And let’s not forget the lucrative fantasy-sports market in the U.S. and Canada with nearly 57 million players, each spending an average of $465 a year, or more than $26 billion collectively.

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2015 Auto Financing Report

2015-Auto-Financing-New-BadgeIs it a good time to buy a car? Well, July witnessed over 5 percent year-over-year increase in U.S. light vehicle sales, bringing annualized projections to 17.35 million –more than last year’s output. Both General Motors and Ford enjoyed strong showings, particularly from SUVs, with the former posting a 13.4 percent annual increase in its utility vehicle category and the latter enjoying the growth of sub-brands like Buick, whose Encore model recently posted its 19th consecutive year-over-year sales increase and topped July 2014 numbers by 68 percent.

Domestic lenders also seem to be accommodating the evolving needs of car buyers, with the average loan term approaching six years as the average sale price continues to rise – up 2.5 percent in June to $33,340, according to the Kelly Blue Book.

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2015’s Strictest And Most Lenient States on High Risk Drivers

STRICTEST STATES HIGH RISK DRIVERSAmerica is a nation of big, wide-open spaces, and for the last century, it has also been a nation of the automobile as the most common way to get across those spaces. Whether we’re commuting to and from work, taking the kids to school or heading to the beach for a summer vacation, cars play a big role in the lives of most Americans. In fact, according to an Arbitron study , Americans spend on average more than 15 hours per week in a car – that’s nearly 14 percent of their total waking hours.

With cars and driving such a big part of our lives, it’s important for everyone on the road to drive safely and to avoid risky behaviors. In light of that, WalletHub has been looking into what states are doing to encourage safe driving behavior and to penalize high risk drivers. In the last few months:

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2015’s Best & Worst Community Colleges

Best-Worst-Community-Colleges-BadgeLong perceived as the bottom rung of the higher-education ladder, community colleges are often made the butt of jokes by just about everyone — from university loyalists to cable TV to some of the very students who attend them. But guess who isn’t laughing: Community-college graduates out-earning bachelor’s degree holders. Indeed, the “junior colleges,” as they’re sometimes referred to, are finally garnering the respect they deserve, proving they’re more than just “halfway schools for losers."

Much of their “second-rate college” stigma stems from three factors: price, demographics and graduation times. Although their relatively cheaper tuition rates are a clear incentive, affordability also signals subpar educational quality to skeptics. And with an average student age of 28, the nontraditional profile of the typical community-college attendee perpetuates a misconception — one that assumes these students flunked out of high school and consequently failed admissions standards at “real” universities. But in their defense, a vast majority of these students balance their studies with jobs, family or both — commitments that often limit their enrollment to one or two classes per semester and force them to delay graduation.

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2015’s States with the Best & Worst Community College Systems

States-with-Best-Worst-Community-College-Systems-BadgeCommunity colleges want to remind Americans that the road less traveled is not always the worst path. Once disparaged as inferior to four-year institutions, these two-year colleges are finally stepping up their game — at times even outperforming their traditional university counterparts.

In 22 states, community colleges have expanded to include four-year bachelor’s degree programs in high-demand fields. And soon the federal government also may be granting free rides to community college through the America’s College Promise Act of 2015 — or what the media peddle as President Barack Obama’s “GI Bill.” If passed, the new legislation would allow up to nine million first-time enrollees to earn associates degrees every year at no charge.

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Cashier’s Checks: Where To Get One, Cost & More

Cashiers Check

A cashier’s check is a type of check issued by a bank or credit union and signed by a cashier or teller. Because the funds are drawn directly against the issuing bank’s cash reserves — not a customer’s personal account — the checks cannot bounce. The cashier’s signature, or “endorsement,” on the checks represents this payment guarantee.

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2015’s Healthiest Housing Markets

Healthiest-Housing-Markets-BadgeHousing’s back. Indeed, the very same industry that sent the U.S. economy into freefall during the not-so-distant past is on its feet again — and expectedly has Americans worried that an overheating market will escort us back into recession. It’s hard to blame us for our trust issues, though, especially now that we’re finally getting a taste of normalcy again. But steady economic recovery is exactly the reason some experts dismiss our fears as unfounded.

One such harbinger of good news is insurance company Nationwide, which has been tracking the health of real estate on a quarterly basis. At the beginning of the year, Nationwide reported that “the overall housing market is healthier than at any time since 2001.” With such promise, the insurance company claims the chances of a housing downturn in the near future are slim.

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Our content is intended for general educational purposes and should not be relied upon as the sole basis for managing your finances. Furthermore, the materials on this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you have any legal questions, please consult an attorney. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.