Womenâs earnings in the U.S. make up about 81% of menâs, according to Census Bureau data from the past several years. Though this figure has steadily grown over the course of decades, researchers predict the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could set back pay for women. Bureau of Labor Statistics data unequivocally shows that the COVID-19 crisis has had a disproportionate impact on womenâs participation in the labor force and unemployment, and many analysts theorize this will carry over to womenâs earnings.
In this study, SmartAsset uncovered the best cities for womenâs pay leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. We compared the 150 largest U.S. across four metrics: median earnings for women, growth in womenâs earnings, womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings and the change in womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings. Both metrics that examine changes over time consider the years 2017 and 2019. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAssetâs third annual study on the best cities for womenâs pay. Check out the 2020 version here.
- Midwestern cities lag. Among the top 10 cities for womenâs pay, the Northeast, South and West are all represented. There are two cities in the Northeast, three in the South and five in the West. The first Midwest city in our ranking, however, is Overland Park, Kansas, coming in at 19th. Though both Chicago, Illinois and Cleveland, Ohio squeeze into our top 25, womenâs earnings fall significantly short of menâs. The pay gap in all three Midwest cities in our top 25 is greater than 10%.
- Median earnings for women do not equal or surpass menâs earnings in any city in our study. Last year, we found that median earnings for women were equal to or exceed median earnings for men in four cities: Yonkers, New York; Spring Valley, Nevada; Tempe, Arizona and Aurora, Colorado. Though Sacramento, California has the highest womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings this year, it is still at 99.05%.
1. Raleigh, NC
Raleigh, North Carolina ranks in the top quartile of cities for all four metrics in our study. It has the 32nd-highest median earnings for women (about $50,300), and womenâs earnings make up the 10th-highest percentage of menâs earnings (almost 96%). Between 2017 and 2019, Raleigh had the sixth-greatest increase in earnings for women (18.62%) and fourth-highest increase in womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings (13.05%).
2. Tacoma, WA
Women in Tacoma, Washington earn roughly $49,700 on average. Though this figure does not fall in the top fifth of the study, Tacoma ranks within the top 15 cities for our other three metrics: Womenâs earnings increased by more than 17% between 2017 and 2019 and womenâs earnings make up about 93% of menâs earnings â almost 10% higher than in 2017.
3. Huntington Beach, CA
Womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings increased the most in Huntington Beach, California compared to any other city in our study. Census Bureau data shows that the gender pay gap closed by almost 16% between 2017 and 2019. Huntington Beach also has the 12th-highest median earnings for women, at $61,148.
4. Sacramento, CA
Sacramento, California has the smallest pay gap of all 150 cities in our study. In 2019, womenâs earnings made up 99.05% of menâs earnings. This figure is 7.27% higher than it was 2017. As a gross figure, median earnings for women in Sacramento are about $50,400, 31st-highest of the cities we considered.
5. Jersey City, NJ
Earnings for women in Jersey City, New Jersey grew by the second-highest rate of any city in the study. Between 2017 and 2019, median womenâs earnings increased by 22.82%. As a result of that growth, 2019 median earnings for women in Jersey City are the seventh-highest overall, at $62,530.
6. St. Petersburg, FL
Womenâs earnings in St. Petersburg, Florida have grown substantially over the past couple years. In 2017, median earnings for women were less than $40,400, and in 2019, they were greater than $45,700 â marking a two-year growth of 13.39%, 19th-highest in our study. Relative to men, women in St. Petersburg earn about 8% less on average.
7. Honolulu, HI
Honolulu, Hawaii ranks in the top third of our study for all four metrics we considered. It has the 38th-highest median earnings for women (about $47,700) and ranks 45th-best for womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings (88.51%). Between 2017 and 2019, the capital of Hawaii had the 20th-greatest increase in womenâs earnings (13.24%) and 19th-largest change in womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings (almost 7%).
8. Portland, OR
From 2017 to 2019, median earnings for women in Portland, Oregon increased by 18.40% â the third-highest increase of any city in our top 10 and seventh-largest overall. With that increase, Portland has the 17th-highest 2019 median earnings for women, at more than $55,200.
9. Baltimore, MD
Baltimore, Maryland ranks in the top 20 cities of the study for two metrics: womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings (92.31%) and growth in womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings (6.47%). Census Bureau data from 2019 shows that median earnings for women in Baltimore are about $47,500, 39th-highest across all 150 cities in our study.
10. Boston, MA
Boston, Massachusetts rounds out our list of the top cities for womenâs pay. Womenâs earnings in Boston are the 11th-highest in our study, at roughly $61,700. Boston additionally ranks in the top 25 for womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings (91.88%) and the two-year growth in womenâs earnings (12.23%).
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities for womenâs pay, SmartAsset looked at the 150 largest cities in the U.S. We compared those cities across four metrics:
- Median earnings for women. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings. This is median earnings for women divided by median earnings for men. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Growth in womenâs earnings. This is the change in median earnings for women from 2017 to 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2017 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
- Growth in womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings. This is the difference between womenâs earnings as a percentage of menâs earnings in 2017 and 2019. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2017 and 2019 1-year American Community Surveys.
In all cases, earnings figures are for full-time workers 16 years and older.
To determine our final list, we ranked each city in every metric, giving a full weighting to all metrics. We then found each cityâs average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
Tips for Maximizing Your Paycheck
- Contribute to a 401(k). A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored defined contribution plan in which you divert pre-tax portions of your monthly paycheck into a retirement account. Some employers will also match your 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary, meaning that if you chose not to contribute, you are essentially leaving money on the table. Take a look at our 401(k) calculator to see how you and your employerâs contributions can add up.
- Consider professional help. A financial advisor can help you make smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money. Finding the right financial advisor doesnât have to be hard. SmartAssetâs free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youâre ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Questions about our study? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/AndreyPopov
The post Best Cities for Womenâs Pay â 2021 Edition appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
Sisoje/Getty Images; Julie Migliacci; erhui1979/Getty Images; photoman/Getty Images
In some ways, buying a home got a lot easier in 2020, and in a lot of ways, it didn’t. Welcome to the mixed-up, unpredictable, unprecedented pandemic world we’ve all been living through. It’s truly been a year like no other. But no matter which way the pendulum was swinging, realtor.com was here to help you make the best of it.
Whether you were a first-time home buyer house hunting during the pandemic or a seller wondering how to get the best price for your property, we brought expert-approved insights to you all year long.
We’re (finally) just a couple of weeks away from 2021, but to help you head into the new year as a well-informed home buyer, seller, or owner, we thought we’d reflect on the top lessons we learned about real estate this year.
Take a look back at our best real estate advice of 2020, and click each headline to dive deeper into the topics that were top of mind for all of us.
Should I Buy a House During the Coronavirus Crisis? An Essential Guide
As if deciding whether or not it’s time to purchase a home isn’t a tough enough decision, the coronavirus pandemic made everything even more shaky.
Many potential home buyers have been wondering if it’s even safe to shop for a home during a pandemic, and that’s a very fair question. And even if you do succeed in finding a home you like, is this the right time to pull the trigger?
Here’s what our top finance experts had to say about whether now is the time to buy.
Can’t miss tip: Mortgage rates reached historic lows in 2020, but experts believe they’ll rise quickly in 2021. Now may be a good time to buy if you want to lock in those low interest rates.
6 Home Upgrades Buyers Want in the COVID-19 Era
Photo by mercer INTERIOR
It’s no secret to sellers that refreshing the inside and outside of your home is a great way to bring in potential buyersâand multiple offers. But in 2020, the world became a different place, and stay-at-home orders, plus the closures of schools, restaurants, and gyms, made us look at homes much differently.
Knowing they’d be spending much more time at home (working, schooling, exercising, and just about everything else that used to be done elsewhere), buyers started prioritizing features they might have overlooked in the past.
Watch: Talking About the Top Real Estate Markets for 2021
Find out what new upgrades buyers are seeking in the COVID-19 eraâand what formerly hot upgrades are now so 2019.
Can’t miss tip: Home buyers in 2020 and beyond are looking for a place where a lot can happenâand maybe all at once. This means the once-desired open floor plan is now a turnoff, and separation of space is where it’s at.
Is It Safe To House Hunt During the Coronavirus Crisis? This Is What You Must Know
Safety is still top of mind for most active home buyers and sellers.
While the majority of real estate agents are doing everything they can to lessen the risk for their clients, there are still some home buyers who just don’t feel comfortable taking on the process in-person.
Read along as we explain every part of the process that can now be done remotely, and how to make sure it works for you.
Can’t miss tip: A good home-buying experience always starts with choosing the right real estate agent, and it was never more true than in 2020. If you’re looking for a virtual home-buying experience, it’s important to connect with a real estate agent who knows exactly how to make it work to your advantage.
It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI
If you found yourself with a little extra time on your hands this year, you may have decided to take on a few DIY home improvement projects. Because you were at home already!
It makes sense, then, that you’d wonder which ones would give you the biggest return on investmentâthe home projects that will earn you more money when you decide to sell. No one wants to waste their time on fruitless labor, so check out which DIY projects tend to promise the biggest payoff.
Can’t miss tip: It’s not always those giant projects that yield the biggest profit. One expert says bells and whistles don’t always pay off, and instead recommends homeowners take on several, smaller projects for a better ROI.
5 Bad Omens That Could Curse Your Homeâand Jeopardize Your Sale
If you’re trying to sell your home, it’s important you take everything into considerationâand we mean everything.
It doesn’t matter if you believe in omens or not. There are a lot of potential home buyers who do, which means seeing a bad token could be a complete deal breaker, no matter how much they love your home.
Click through to find out what some of the more common bad omens are, so you can get to work clearing them out of your space.
Can’t miss tip: Those adorable rocking chairs on your front porch might seem like a warm welcome to you, but if the wind blows and they rock, it may send some home shoppers running. Thankfully, there’s something you can do to keep it from happening, without moving your chairs to the garage.
First-Time Home Buyer Confessions: ‘How We Beat 32 Offers and Got the House’
Every home buyer’s worst nightmare is finding a dream house and having to battle other buyers for it. But what if there were 32 other buyers?
That’s exactly what happened to these buyers, and they came out victoriousâeven without placing the highest bid. Keep reading to find out exactly how they made it happen.
Can’t miss tip: Today’s real estate market is very fast-moving in many areas, which means there’s very little time (if any) between viewing a house you love and placing an offer. Study up on the neighborhoods you’re shopping in, so you’re ready to make an informed decision on the spot.
5 Coronavirus Real Estate Myths Everyone Thinks Are TrueâDebunked
It’s true that COVID-19 has turned the real estate market on its head, but that doesn’t mean you should believe everything you hear. In fact, falling for some of the real estate myths may cause a potential home buyer or seller to miss out on a golden opportunity. Read on to find out what’s being said, and what’s actually factual.
Can’t miss tip: You may have heard that home prices are plummeting because of COVID-19, meaning it’s not a good time to list your house. In actuality, the opposite is true thanks to low interest rates.
5 Weird Reality Checks You’ll Get If You Buy a Country Home
Due to the pandemic, this year found many city dwellers moving out of the city into quieter, less populated areas. That means sprawling yards, quiet neighbors, dark nights, and lots of peace, right? Truth be told, country life isn’t always idyllic. In fact, it has some strange quirks that you may not expect.
Find out what happened when one city dweller bought a rural home and discovered that even in the country, things can get weird.
Can’t miss tip: Country living is all about co-existing with woodland critters, so if you move out of the city, be prepared to share your spaceâboth inside and outâwith deer, mice, and other wildlife.
The post The Best Real Estate Advice of 2020: How the Pandemic Transformed Housing This Year appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
When your valentine wants a little extra love, all he or she has to do is take a strip out of the jar and read one of your messages.
If you canât afford a bouquet of roses, see if your local flower shop is selling single roses. A single red rose often says more than a whole dozen.
Remember mixtapes? Bring that sentiment to the 21st century by making your special someone a Spotify playlist. You donât even need Spotify Premium; just get the free version of Spotify for your desktop, build the perfect list and share it with your valentine.
22 Last-Minute Valentineâs Day Gift Ideas Under $5
Donât want to give away your only copy of your favorite read? Find it in a used bookstore. You can often get used books for under , and they make excellent presents.
If you read the Modern Love column in The New York Times, you might have seen the piece about The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.
2. Lloyd Dobler Serenade
Still scrambling for that perfect Valentineâs Day gift?
Weâve already got you covered with at-home date ideas â for whether you are together in-person or far apart. Here are 50 last-minute gifts that all cost less than .
Even the most humble of grocery store bouquets can become beautiful with a little help. Take the flowers out of the plastic, trim them and put them into a vase. Or, if you donât have a vase on hand, get a glass jar out of the recycling bin, rinse it out and put the flowers in.
3. Bulk Candy
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
If youâre giving bulk candy, presentation matters. Put it in an attractive bag or box, tie it up with a ribbon and make your gift as special as the recipient.
4. Handmade Card
Write your valentine a love poem. It worked for Shakespeare, and it could work for you. Choose one of the classic poetry formats, such as the sonnet or the villanelle, or create your own.
Nothing says âIâm in this for the long termâ like âThis was my old stuffed bear, and I hope youâll love it as much as I do.â
Take the iconic image of Say Anythingâs Lloyd Dobler holding a boombox over his head as you model and get ready to tell your valentine that âIn your eyesâ¦ I am complete.â
Nicole Dieker is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Keep this pattern going until the notebook is full. A shared journal is a lovely way to write about hopes, dreams and plans for the future.
Take your poem one step further by setting it to music. How many people get a song written just for them? Perform it for your special someone on Valentineâs Day, and youâll learn that the best gifts donât have to cost a thing.
8. Band Performance
Take an old T-shirt and turn it into a pillow. This Instructables guide will help you get started. Youâll need to get something to stuff the pillow with, which you can generally get at a craft store or even Target or Walmart for under .
9. Request a Song
Your cost investment depends on how many art supplies you currently have around, but a hobby store often sells affordable individual sheets of art paper. Even an ink drawing on a piece of good paper can look beautiful.
10. Old Shirt Turned into a Pillow
Find an excuse for your special someone to be out of the house or apartment on Valentineâs Day morning and then scrub, wash, sweep and fold. Top it off with a few flowers in a vase or a plate of homemade cookies on the table.
11. Old Stuffed Animal
Want a gift that your valentine will really love? Try a perfectly cleaned home.
All youâll need for this one is a jar and a few pieces of paper. Tear or cut the paper into strips and write something special on each strip. Then, fold the strips in half and put them into the jar.
Sometimes the simplest gifts are the best. If your local radio station takes requests, request your special song. Text your valentine when itâs time for your song to play, or listen to it together.
Get an inexpensive notebook, write a journal entry and give it to your Valentine with the instructions to read whatâs inside, write a new journal entry and give the notebook back.
13. Homemade Cookies
While everyone else is getting expensive bouquets delivered to their valentines, why not give your date a plate of delicious homemade cookies? You can also take these cookies with you for a picnicking or stargazing adventure.
14. Love Thoughts in a Jar
Get some massage oil, put some towels over freshly washed sheets and give your special someone the massage he or she has always wanted. Look for resources online, like these massage tips from Canyon Ranch resort, that will show you how to give a safe, proper massage.
Spend an evening asking your valentine those questions â and answering them yourself â and it becomes an evening youâre unlikely to forget.
15. Book of Memories
Use an actual boombox if you can get your hands on one, or pull out your iPhone and crank up the volume.
16. Coupon Book
Wondering how youâre going to get your special someone something truly special â without spending a lot of money in the process?
If your special someone owns a Kindle, a Nook or another e-reader, there are gobs of books available for under . Look for the 99-cent listings so you can give multiple books and make your gift look extra-special. You can also look for deals from Bookbub.
17. Massage Night
Giving the gift of an old stuffed animal shows your special someone that you love and trust them enough to share one of your most treasured possessions.
18. Shared Journal
Why not make this Valentineâs Day the start of a Wednesday letter tradition of your own? Give the gift of a love letter, and tell your valentine that it is the first of many to come.
These questions, which include âWhat would constitute a âperfectâ day for you?â and âWhen did you last cry in front of another person?â are designed to build intimacy and bring people closer together.
19. Love Letters
Does your valentine like picking the movie you watch together? Does your valentine like not having to do the dishes? Choosing the right coupons is what makes this gift special.
Have you read the book âThe Wednesday Lettersâ? Itâs the story of a man who writes his wife a new love letter each Wednesday.
20. Clean All The Things
Anyone can go to the grocery store and get a 99-cent card with a pre-printed message. Only you can make a one-of-a-kind card with your own heartfelt statement of love.
Even if youâve only got in your pocket, you can still make this Valentineâs Day memorable.
21. The 36 Questions
The coupon book is another classic gift that has almost become clichÃ©. The secret to making it work is to put together coupons that your valentine actually wants.
Have a favorite book that you think your valentine will also love? Take it off your bookshelf, write an inscription and turn it into a gift. Itâs just as intimate as giving a stuffed animal, and you can talk about the book together afterwards.
A handmade card can often be one of the best and most treasured Valentineâs Day presents.
22. One Rose or Grocery Store Flowers
Maybe your special someone likes jelly beans or chocolate-covered almonds. The bulk candy aisle offers plenty of choices for putting together a gift that tastes better â and is much more personalized â than a cheap box of waxy Valentineâs candy.
Do you have painting or sketching skills? Make your special someone a piece of original art. Itâs hard to go wrong with a flattering portrait or a sketch of the place where the two of you shared your first kiss.
This one works best if your Valentine is a fan of classic â80s movies.
Buy an inexpensive sketchbook or notebook. Then, fill each page with a memory â the place you first met, the first time you held hands, the concert the two of you attended last spring. Draw, write, glue in ticket stubs â do whatever you want to make this book a true book of memories. Chances are it will be an unforgettable gift.
Got a friend who can play bass and a buddy who knows the drums? Teach them the song you just wrote, or ask if theyâll be willing to help you cover a song that has a special meaning for you and your valentine. Then give your valentine a never-to-be-forgotten concert.
While winter weather can make going outside seem less than inviting, you can entertain your family indoors with your favorite movies and shows in a home theater. With a little help, your theater setup might make the cold a little more bearable. Here are six must-haves for your home theater.
1. Theater Seating
Comfortable leather recliners with cushy armrests are a staple of any home theater. The amount of seats is reliant on the size of your space; viewers shouldnât feel too cramped. Also, the distance you place them from your screen dependsÂ on the screenâs size. An easy way to determine seat distance is to take the horizontal length of your screen and multiply it by two to get the minimum distance. Multiply it by five to get the maximum distance. For example: A 60-inch screen would have a minimum distance of 120 inches, or ten feet, and a maximum distance of 300 inches, or 25 feet.
2. Video Projector
Installing a quality video projector can ensure that you and your viewers enjoy the best picture possible. Pay attention to the projectorâs throw distance, or the distance at which it should be placed away from your screen. Also, consider how far down you should hang your projector and at what angle to tilt it. Most projectors have vertical lens shift, which allows you to adjust the projection regardless of how you mount your projector. For those that donât, hang your projector with an extension pipe so that you can adjust the hanging distance to perfect the projected image.
3. Projector Screen and Lighting
For screen placement, pick a wall where light does not fall on it directly. You can even paint your walls a dark color to avoid glare. Mount the screen on your wall so the bottom is between two or three feet off the ground. This helps every seat in your theater achieve the perfect view. Try adding dimmable overhead lights to add an authentic cinema feeling.
4. Surround Sound
The most common speaker system for home theaters is 5.1 surround sound. This six-speaker system is comprised of five full-range speakers and one low-range speaker known as the woofer. The ideal setup for 5.1 surround sound is three speakers and the woofer toward the front of the room, with the remaining two on either side of the back end of the room. Place each speaker at least 20 inches from the wall. If six speakers seemÂ excessive, try a simple three speaker setup with a speaker in front of your screen and two others to the left and right.
5. Sound Paneling and Acoustics
Rectangular windowless rooms generally have better acoustics than square ones, but you might not be able to remodel just for your home theater. Sound absorption panels to prevent echoes, although standard dry wall paneling is usually adequate acoustic material for home theaters. Installing carpeting may also improve the acoustics of your in-home theater and add a level of comfort for viewers.
6. Mini Fridge
Keep a small refrigerator in your home theater and stock it with refreshments that are easily accessible. After all, you wonât have to stand in line and worry about missing your movie when youâre home! You may also want to stock old movie favorites like popcorn and candy in a non-refrigerated unit in the theater. Just donât eat too loudly during the movie.
With these home theater features, being snowed in this winter might not seem so bad!
The post 6 Essentials for an In-Home Movie Theater first appeared on Century 21Â®.
If you havenât checked car insurance rates in a few months, you could be overspending and not even know it.
And while itâs probably not something on the top of your to-do list, you should set a reminder to get a few quotes every six months. And if you do it through a website called SmartFinancial, you could be getting insider-level rates as low as $22 a month.
SmartFinancial is a digital marketplace for insurance. It has unique relationships with many of the top auto insurance providers, making it super easy for you to enter your information once and see all your quotes in front of you â making sure you get the best rate possible, without all the work.
See If You Can Save Up To $715 A Year On Car Insurance
When you fill out a one-minute form on Smart Financialâs website, youâll be able to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you know youâll get the best rate. If you want, you can speak to an agent to secure a low rate and finish the process in 10 minutes.
And donât worry, your info is totally safe. Smart Financial has bank-level security and guarantees you wonât be spammed when you trust them with your phone number and email.
Rates start as low as $22 a month and can save you up to $715 a year â thatâs some major cash back in your pocket. And if you bundle it with home insurance, you can save even more.
So if you havenât checked car insurance rates in a while, you are doing yourself a disservice. Get started here to see how much money you can save today with a new policy.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Hello! Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery business? Well, good news, this article will tell you what you need to know. Plus, you can sign up for this free training workshop that will teach you how to start your own side hustle baking and selling dog treats.
Hi! My name is Kristin Larsen, and I run Believe in a Budget, a blog about personal finance and my experience with various side hustles. (It feels like I’ve tried them all over the years!)
As I’ve written about before here on Making Sense of Cents, my favorite online side hustle is working as a Pinterest virtual assistant. Managing Pinterest accounts is a great way to earn an income entirely online.
But today, I’m here to talk about a completely different side hustle, one that can be run entirely offline if you want (or entirely online, or a combination!).
While I love being able to work from home (or anywhere) on my computer, there is something to be said about stepping away from the computer and doing work that doesn’t involve the ‘virtual world’ – work that requires you to move around a little instead of being planted in front of a screen all day long!
In the case of this side hustle, it involves moving around the kitchen baking up beautiful and delicious dog treats.
Yes, dog treats!
The side hustle I’m speaking of is starting a dog treat bakery and I’m so excited to share it with you today. As a successful dog treat baker myself, I know first-hand how in-demand and lucrative this business can be.
How do you start a dog bakery?
How I Took My Dog Treat Bakery from Passion to Side Hustle to Full-Time Job
My dog treat bakery story started over ten years ago when I was an interior architect and designer at my 9-5 job.
At the time, I was the proud dog mom of Bella, a sweet-but-very-high-maintenance pup. Her birthday was coming up and I wanted to give her a birthday treat that fit her ‘diva dog’ personality.
I went to the local pet store and perused the aisles, but all I could find were treats filled with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce that looked like they had been sitting on the shelves for years. After a disappointing visit, I walked out the door and decided that I was going to bake Bella a treat.
This was kind of laughable since baking was not something I had done much of in my life, but I was going to figure out a way to make it work.
I decided to do some research by going to a local bakery and spending a lot of time staring at the baked goods (awkward!), trying to figure out which one I could recreate for Bella. I finally decided on a pretty cupcake adorned with white icing.
I went home, researched dog-safe ingredients and got to work planning Bella’s birthday treat. After a quick trip to Target to buy a mini cupcake tin, I started baking.
About an hour later, her birthday cupcake was baked, iced and ready to serve. Despite its small size, it was a huge success – she loved it!
As soon as I saw how much she loved her treat, you could say I became a little obsessed with making wholesome, healthy treats for her. Soon, I started gifting them to friends and family.
I went from developing a single cupcake recipe to developing over 20 different dog treat recipes – everything from treat bones to cookies to brownies to cakes!
Pretty soon, the friends and family who were on the receiving end of my gifts were saying: ‘Kristin, our dog(s) LOVED your treats. Can we buy some to gift? Can my friends/family/co-workers/neighbors buy some?’
With those questions, Diva Dog Bakery™ was born!
My little ‘obsession’ quickly became a side hustle, first bringing in $100 to $200 a month, then over $500 a month, just selling through word-of-mouth. It was the easiest money I had ever made!
In a serendipitous turn of events, I ended up losing my 9-5 job a few months after I started Diva Dog Bakery™. It was during the Great Recession, so I couldn’t find a job in my industry anywhere. My unemployment checks weren’t enough and I was quickly going through my savings.
I was initially stuck in a ‘dog treat bakery = side hustle’ mindset, so it didn’t immediately occur to me to try to turn my side hustle into a full-time business. But when my money was drying up, it finally clicked: I can turn this into a full-time business!
I went all-in on my bakery and hustled hard. I sold at multiple farmers markets every Saturday (shout-out to my parents who helped me ‘be’ in multiple locations at once!), started a successful Etsy shop and also sold products wholesale.
Pretty soon, I went from going broke to making a solid $3,000 to $4,000 per month… despite the economy being in the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic!
The especially exciting thing about my earnings is this was nearly ten years ago when the dog treat industry wasn’t nearly as hot. These days, my efforts could easily bring in double that!
The Opportunities in the Dog Treat Industry (Why You Should Start a Dog Treat Bakery)
When I first started my dog treat bakery, the idea of buying homemade cupcakes or brownies or cookies for your dog was still considered a little ‘out there.’
These days, dog owners are much more tuned in to the idea of pampering their pooches and they’re willing to spend money to make it happen.
Here are a few interesting stats for you:
- The dog treat market is incredibly hot right now and getting even hotter… to the tune of almost 7 BILLION dollars in sales in just 2020 alone! (source)
- Over six out of ten dog owners are concerned about the safety of the dog treats they purchase. (source)
- Dog owners are especially interested in purchasing dog treats with wholesome, easy-to-pronounce ingredients. (source)
It’s never been a better time to get started with a homemade dog treat bakery!
How Much You Can Earn Baking Dog Treats at Home
If you just want to run a fun-but-profitable hobby, you can easily earn $500 to $1,000 a month with a dog treat bakery as a side hustle.
At this level, you can do all of the work yourself in just a few hours a week. If you have kids, you can also have them pitch in. A dog treat bakery is a great family business!
If you want to turn your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, you can scale it into four figures a month, or even five figures a month.
If you want to scale your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, expect to work 30 to 35 hours a week yourself. If you want to have a heavy farmers market presence, you will probably need to bring on some help for a few hours each week so you can have a presence at multiple farmers markets at the same time. (The best ones are usually on Saturday mornings.)
If things get really busy, you can bring on baking help, marketing help, shipping help and more! You can make this business as big (or as small) as you’d like.
Where to Sell Your Dog Treats
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can run your dog treat baking business in a way that suits your lifestyle. You can run it offline, online, or both!
There are so many ways and places to sell your treats, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Word-of-mouth sales (e.g., friends, family, co-workers, church)
- Farmers markets
- Wholesale to local businesses (e.g., pet stores, veterinarian offices, gift shops)
- Etsy shop
- Social media for local sales
- Social media for nationwide sales
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Dog Treat Bakery?
Like nearly all businesses, starting a dog treat bakery comes with a few start-up costs, but you will easily earn these back when sales start coming in, or you can even take pre-sale orders! (Have I mentioned that the profit margin on dog treats is amazing?!)
Typical start-up costs for homemade dog treat bakeries in the U.S.* include:
- $20 to $50 for the initial ingredients, plus a few inexpensive baking tools if you don’t already have them in your kitchen
- $0 to $75 for treat packaging costs
- $25 to $50 for a business license
- Between a $25 one-off fee to up to a $50 per-treat fee to register your treats with your state – this will depend on your state’s regulations
*Costs and laws outside of the U.S. will vary from what is listed here.
Are Dog Treat Bakeries Regulated?
Yes, but not nearly as much as ‘people food’ bakeries. (Good for would-be dog treat bakers, but a little sad for our furry friends!)
In the U.S., the exact regulations you will need to follow are decided by your state and sometimes your local area (e.g., county, city). This is easy information to find out by contacting the following agencies:
- State department of agriculture or feed control office
- State and local health departments
You can also contact your state’s business agency and tell them you want to start a pet treat bakery. Many states have information on file about pet treat bakeries that tell you everything you need to do.
Don’t be intimidated by this process – in most cases, all you have to do is fill out a few forms and pay a few small registration fees!
How to Get Started as a Dog Treat Baker
When I first started Diva Dog Bakery™, I honestly had no idea what I was doing.
Although I saw success pretty quickly, there was a lot of trial-and-error because I had no one to guide me. I didn’t know anyone who owned a bakery, let alone a dog treat bakery.
The one thing I definitely did right at the beginning – and what I recommend to you if you want to become a homemade dog treat baker – was to spend some time in the kitchen learning how to make treats.
Because I wasn’t much of a baker (and maybe you aren’t either), getting a little baking experience under my belt was very helpful.
I also tested out my treats on my dogs and the dogs of some of my friends and family. Dogs may not be able to talk, but you can tell pretty easily which treats they love eating and which treats they’ll turn their nose up at!
With this data, you can start to package up and sell the most-liked treats. You can scale it from there and start to build up your business.
If the idea of going it alone on a dog treat bakery business sounds a little intimidating, I’d like to welcome you to join the Diva Dog Bakery™ course where I’ll teach you exactly how to build a thriving dog treat bakery business!
Here’s what the course covers:
- How to best make and store dog treats (this is where you’ll practice your baking techniques)
- How to turn your hobby into a legal dog treat business
- How to package your treats beautifully without hours of effort (beautifully packaged treats command premium prices!)
- How to price your dog treats so you maximize your revenue
- Where to sell your dog treats: offline, online or both
- The best methods for accepting payment
- How to most efficiently and inexpensively ship and deliver your treats
- The best ways to promote your business so you build up a following of raving fans and repeat customers!
You’ll also receive valuable bonuses, including:
- My full dog treat recipe book, which includes the most popular and profitable recipes I used in my bakery
- Guaranteed analysis/nutrition labels to use on your treats (required by certain states)
- 30 days of free access to the Diva Dog Bakery™ Community so you can get all of your questions answered while you grow your business, including live training
It has been so exciting to help new dog treat bakers launch their businesses! Cheering on every baking success and every business success is truly the best part of my day.
Lessons Learned from a Cupcake… and a Phone Call
I like to say that Diva Dog Bakery™ started with a cupcake.
But it really, truly started when, after gifting treats to friends, one of those friends called me and said: ‘Kristin, can I buy a bag of your dog treats?’
Until that moment, I had no idea that anyone would actually want to pay for the treats I had been making as a labor of love.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: there is a market out there for so many different products and services. Whether it’s a product or service that we dream up on our own or that we learn from a course, there is probably someone who wants to buy it from us.
We just have to figure out a way to make that sale happen… and then make it happen again and again!
Dog Treat Bakeries are a Great Business to Start
If you’re interested in starting a business that’s ‘outside the box’ of the typical online businesses, then I highly recommend starting a dog treat bakery.
The industry is booming, the work is enjoyable, the profit margin is fantastic and (maybe the best reason of all) you have the cutest customers!
To get started on your dog treat bakery journey, I’m offering a free dog treat bakery workshop! Check out the sales page here and sign up for the free workshop.
If you have any other questions about starting a dog treat bakery after watching the workshop, just email me and I’d be happy to answer them.
Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery?
The post How I Earned Up to $4,000 Per Month Baking Dog Treats (With Zero Baking Experience!) appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
If you’re a die-hard Supernatural fan like us, you’re probably still reeling from the show’s finale and coping with the fact that there won’t be any new Winchester adventures for us to follow. But weâre not here to talk about that, but rather snoop into the private life of one of the series’ leading men. More specifically, Jensen Acklesâ house — which we actually think Dean Winchester would approve of.
The actor starring in CWâs longest running show and his wife Danneel opened up their 7,500-square-foot home in Austin, Texas to Architectural Digest, giving us a rare glimpse into the heartthrob’s home and personal life.
As the story goes, the couple was relocating from Los Angeles and initially considered buying a house down the road when they noticed this property (that wasnât even for sale). But since they fell in love with it, the couple went ahead and asked the previous owners if they’d be willing to sell. And since it’s not easy resisting Jensen Ackles’ charms, they managed to convince the owners so the Acklesâ moved on to the next step â- redecorating the house.
To help out, they hired architect Paul Lamb and interior designer Fern Santini and together they came up with some brilliant ideas on how to best revamp their already-stunning new house.
âIt was imperative that the house express the Ackleses — young, bold, and irreverent,â Lamb told AD.
Jensen Acklesâ house, which boasts five bedrooms, revolves around Danneelâs decorating outlook of âmore is more is more!â There is a lot of color, texture, a lot of wood work going on to make it look like a lake house and endless decorations with some of the coolest background stories.
Let there be music
In Supernatural, Jensen loves music. Remember his spontaneous Eye of a Tiger outtake? Still fun to watch! Thereâs definitely more of where that came from in real life, since Jensen did his best to create an amazing acoustic sound in his house.
The living room is scattered with guitars and all across the shag rug lie comfy and colored floor pillows. All this because the couple loves having friends over, sitting on the floor, singing and playing the guitar.
Jensen was excited to talk about one of his favorite features of the house: âThe hand-scraped wood floors undulate quite heavily, and weâve got these giant beams and wood all around that feel like youâre in the hull of a giant ship.â âWhat that does is it creates an amazing acoustic sound,â he continues. âWeâve always had music in our lives, and we wanted to pass on that tradition.â
Jensen’s kick-ass bar
Theyâve taken care of the music, and to complete the ambiance they got rid of the formal dining room (that nobody used anyway) and replaced it with a kick-ass bar.
Placed on one end of the large living room, the bar is made out of black walnut with black and white veined marble. The cabinets were specially made to light the expensive bourbons it holds inside.
The master suite
Thereâs a master bedroom swaddled in Trove wallpaper bearing vintage photography of 1920s opera boxes.Â The wallpaper is covered in sections by Japanese-inspired barn door panels âbecause sometimes you need an audience and sometimes you donâtâ.
The master bathroom has a beautiful
bathtub sitting in front of a large window that provides a stunning view to the
The Mr. and Mrs. own two separate counters, because, you know, it just makes things easier in the mornings; and the inspiration for their master bathroom shower came from an Architectural Digest story featuring a steel and glass shower in the home of Neil Patrick Harris.
Jensen Ackles’ bright, wood-framed home
Thanks to exposed beams, larger expanses of windows, and rich wooden ceilings, the architect managed to simplify and open the spaces. They simply tore down walls to let more natural light into the home.
Jensenâs favorite space is the breezy two-story screened porch that transformed the entire profile of the house; and his favorite piece â a custom long table made using a 2,000-year-old cypress log.
Parents of three
Jensen and Danneel have three beautiful children, so they had to choose the decor and furniture according to their needs as well. It appears that the coupleâs eldest daughter would make a great interior designer once she grows up. The six-year-old girl, JJ, helped pick out all her own bedroom decor.
Unsurprisingly, the kidsâ favorite toy is a rolling acrylic table from the â50s, placed in the kitchen. Everybody loves a happy kitchen!
Jensen Ackles’ home is full of hidden gems
The actorâs house is a personalized, eccentric, yet highly livable place. It was designed to resemble the Laurel Canyon bungalow the couple had once lived in and itâs a testament to the old school, Austin-style lake house.
The space is filled with all kinds of eccentric and eclectic objectsâsome useful, some decorative, some both. The decorations could be found in abundance in Austin during its bohemian period (the Acklesâ are active supporters of local art), as well as in late-60s California.
More beautiful celebrity homes
Rob Loweâs Gorgeous House in Montecito is Back on the Market for $42.5 Million
Luxurious Malibu Estate Previously Owned by Kelsey Grammer On the Market for $20M
âHunger Gamesâ Actor Josh Hutcherson is Selling His Celebrity-Magnet âTree Houseâ in Hollywood Hills
Jessica Albaâs Los Angeles House is a Pinterest-Perfect Dream Home
The post Inside Supernatural Star Jensen Ackles’ ‘Very Hip’ Lake House in Austin appeared first on Fancy Pants Homes.
The death of aÂ loved oneÂ is hard to take and while aÂ life insuranceÂ payoutÂ can ease the burden and allow you to continue leaving comfortably, it won’t take the grief or the heartbreak away. What’s more, if thatÂ life insurance policyÂ refuses toÂ payout, it can make the situation even worse, adding more stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration to an already emotional period.
But why would aÂ life insurance claimÂ be refused; what are theÂ causes of deathÂ that may cause yourÂ lifeÂ insurance coverageÂ to become null and void? If you or aÂ loved oneÂ has aÂ life policy, this article could provide some essential information as we look at the reasons aÂ death claimÂ may be refused.
WhatÂ Causes of DeathÂ are Not Covered?
The extent of yourÂ lifeÂ insurance coverageÂ will depend on your specific policy and this is something you should check when filing yourÂ life insurance application. Speak with yourÂ insurance agent, ask questions, and always do your due diligence so that you know what you’re buying into and what sort of deaths it will provide cover for.
Life insurance policiesÂ have something known as aÂ contestability period, which typically lasts for 1 to 2 years and begins as soon as the policy starts. If theÂ policyholderÂ dies during this time, they will investigate and contest the death.Â
This is generally true whether her you die of aÂ heart attack, cancer or suicide. However, if this period has passed, they may only contest the death if it results from one of the following.
Suicide is a contentious issue where life insurance is concerned. On the one hand, it’s a very serious issue and one that’s often the result of mental health problems, so there are those who believe it is deserving of the same respect as any other illness.Â
On the other hand, theÂ lifeÂ insurance companiesÂ are concerned that allowing such coverage will encourage desperate people to kill themselves so theirÂ loved onesÂ will be financially secure.
It’s a touchy subject, and that’s why many companies refuse to go anywhere near it. Some will outright refuse to pay outÂ for suicide, but the majority have aÂ suicide clause, whereby they onlyÂ payoutÂ if the death occurs after a specificÂ period of time.
If it occurs before this time, they may return the premiums or pay nothing at all. And if they have reason to believe that theÂ policyholderÂ took their own life just for financial gain, they will almost certainly investigate and may refuse to pay.
Dangerous Hobbies and Driving
If you die in aÂ car accidentÂ and it is deemed that you were driving drunk, your policy may notÂ payout.Â Car accidentÂ deaths are common, and this is aÂ cause of deathÂ that policies do generally cover, but only when you weren’t doing something illegal or driving recklessly.
Deaths from extreme activities like bungee jumping orÂ skydivingÂ may be questioned, especially if these hobbies were not reported during the application.Â
Your claim can be denied if you are committing an illegal act at the time of your death. This can include everything from being chased by the police to trespassing. A benefit may also be refused if you die for an intentional drug overdose using non-prescription drugs.Â
Smoking or Pre-existingÂ Health Issue
Honesty is key, and if you lie during the application or “forget” to tell them about your smoking status or pre-existingÂ medical conditions, they may refuse toÂ payout. It doesn’t matter if they performed aÂ medical examÂ or not; the onus is not on them to spot your lie, it’s on you not to tell it in the first place.
This is one of the most common reasons for anÂ insurance contractÂ to be declared void, as applicants go in search of the cheapest premiums they can get and do everything they can to bring those costs down. They may also believe they will get away with their lies, either because they will give up smoking in a few months or years or because they will die from something other than their preexisting condition.
But lying in this manner is risky. You have to ask yourself whether it’s worth paying $100 a month for a valid policy that willÂ payoutÂ without issue or $50 for a policy that will likely be refused and will cause endless stress for your beneficiaries.
Life insurance benefits generally don’t extend to the battlefield. If you’re a solider on the front line, your risk of death increases significantly, and many insurance policies won’t cover you for this. This is true even if you’re not in active duty at the time you take out the policy. More importantly, it also applies to correspondents and journalists.
You don’t invalidate your policy by going to a war-torn country and reporting, but if you die resulting from that trip, your policy will notÂ payout.
Your life insurance policy likely won’t pay forÂ dismembermentÂ orÂ critical illness, but there are additional policies and add-ons that will provide cover. You can get these alongsideÂ permanent life insuranceÂ andÂ term life insuranceÂ to provide you with more cover and peace of mind.Â
They will come at a significant extra cost, but unlike traditional life insurance, they willÂ payoutÂ when you are still alive and may make life easier after experiencing a tragic accident or serious illness.
We recommend focusing on getting life insurance first, securing theÂ amount of coverageÂ you need from a permanent orÂ termÂ life policy, and only then seeing if there is room in your budget for these additional options.
How Often DoÂ Life Insurance PoliciesÂ Payout?
We have recommended life insurance many times at PocketYourDollars and will continue to do so. We often state that it is essential if you have dependents and want to ensure they’re cared for when you die. But as much as we recommend it and as simple as the process of applying often is, there is one simple fact that we often overlook:
LifeÂ insurance companiesÂ rarelyÂ payout.
It’s a stat you may have seen elsewhere and it’s 100% true. However, contrary to what you might have heard or assumed; this is not the result of a refusal to pay theÂ death benefitÂ when theÂ policyholderÂ passes away. Sure, this accounts for some of those non-payments, but for the most part, it’s down to one of the following:
TheÂ PolicyholderÂ Survives the Term
The majority ofÂ life insurance policiesÂ are set to fixed terms, such as 10, 20 or 30 years. If anything happens during thisÂ period of time, yourÂ loved onesÂ collect yourÂ death benefit, but if you survive, the policy ends, no money is paid out, and if you want another policy you will need to pay a larger sum.
TheÂ PolicyholderÂ Accepts theÂ Cash Value
WholeÂ lifeÂ insuranceÂ policiesÂ are like investments crossed with life insurance. YourÂ loved onesÂ get aÂ death benefitÂ if you die, but it also accrues interest and can be cashed out. When this happens, the insurer collects, you get a sum of money, and it feels like a win-win, but in reality, the insurer has just dodged a bullet.
TheÂ PolicyholderÂ Stops Making Payments
As soon as you stop making yourÂ premium payments, you lose cover and you run the risk of your policy being canceled. This is true for pretty much anyÂ type of policyÂ and it happens regardless of theÂ policy term.Â
Unlike aÂ credit cardÂ company, which may chase you for payments, aÂ lifeÂ insurance companyÂ will place the burden of responsibility on you. After all, a creditor loses money when you don’t pay, whereas aÂ lifeÂ insurance companyÂ comes out on top.
This often happens when individuals take out substantialÂ life insurance policiesÂ at a young age, only to suffer drastically changing circumstances. Imagine, for instance, that you’re 20-years-old and you buy a house with your spouse-to-be, with a view to settling down and starting a family. You assume that you’ll need it for a long time, so you take out a 30-year-term.
But 10 years down the line, your spouse leaves you, the family you wanted didn’t happen, and you’re all alone with no dependents, and with growing debts, bills, and obligations. At that point, life insurance becomes a burden, so you may stop making payments, thus allowing theÂ insurance companyÂ to profit from 10 years of insurance premiums.
Summary: It’s Not That Cut-Throat
You don’t have to look far to find consumers who feel they have been wronged byÂ lifeÂ insurance companies, consumers who will expend a great deal of time and effort into calling out these companies for their perceived wrongdoings. But they often exaggerate the situation due to their extreme anger and this creates unrealistic anxieties and expectations.
The truth is, while there are people who have been genuinely wronged, they are in the extreme minority. The vast majority ofÂ family membersÂ who were refused aÂ death benefitÂ were let down by theÂ policyholderÂ and by the lies they told on their policy.
PolicyholdersÂ lie about their weight, smoking status, andÂ medicalÂ conditions, and when caught up in this lie, they often claim they made an honest mistake. But the truth is, most life insurance companies will overlook simple mistakes and only really care when it’s obvious that theÂ policyholderÂ lied.Â
And let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how forgetful you are, you’re not going to forget that you’re a chain smoker, alcoholic, drug user, extreme sports fan or that you recently had a medical crisis!
If the policy was filed honestly, you shouldnât have an issue when you collect, even if it’s still in theÂ contestability period. As discussed above,Â lifeÂ insurance companiesÂ stack the dice in their favor. They use statistics and probability to carefully set the premiums and benefits, and they rely onÂ policyholdersÂ forgetting to pay and outliving the term. They don’t need to “rob” you in order to make a profit. So, be honest when applying and you won’t have anything to fear.
What Causes of Death are not Covered by Life Insurance? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
So youâre at the point in your life where buying a home is not a question of if, but when. Youâre scrimping. Youâre saving. Youâre dreaming of walking through the front door of your very own home.
But as the decision draws near, you start questioning everything. Is now a good time to buy a house? Or is this the worst time? Is it more financially responsible to buy a house right now or wait? And what if you mistime the market, buying too soon or too late, and miss out on lower home prices?
Ultimately, the experts say the answer is less about economies, markets and pandemics and more about you.
So, how do you think through this decision? Youâll want to take time to thoroughly review your personal financial situation and life goals. At the same time, youâll need to gain some understanding of the market dynamics that impact home costs.
This process will take some time, but itâs well worth the effort. With a firm grasp on your personal situation and some context on the housing market, youâll be able to confidently go forth knowing youâre making a fiscally informed decision about whether to buy a house right now.
Honestly assess these aspects of your finances
Financial security is always important if youâre trying to determine when youâre ready to buy a home. To decide if now is a good time to buy a house, ask yourself the following questions about your finances:
How secure is your income?
Job or income stability is an important factor if you are buying a home in a rocky economy, such as the one triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, says real estate economist Gay Cororaton. Even in a robust economy, your income security should be top of mind when youâre thinking of buying a house right now.
If you have any inkling that your position may be eliminated or that youâll be making a career change, you may want to delay buying a home. Even a recent break in employment that caused you to draw down some of your savings may raise a red flag with lenders, says Kate Ziegler, a real estate agent with Arborview Realty in the Boston area.
If youâre considering buying a house right now, you should avoid opening any new lines of credit right before purchasing a home.
Do you have enough money saved?
After income stability, savings is the next-most-important financial factor youâll want to consider to determine if now is a good time to buy a house, Ziegler says. The old rule of thumb was to save 20% of the price of the home for your down payment. While that is ideal, itâs not necessaryâfar from it, Ziegler says. In fact, it has become more common for first-time buyers to put down much less than 20%.
How much house can you afford?
The down payment is one side of the affordability coin. Your monthly mortgage payment is the other side. You need to know how much you can spend on both to determine if you can afford to buy a house right now, says Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow. Aim for a monthly mortgage payment that doesnât stretch you too thinâexperts typically put this at around 28% of your monthly gross income, according to Bankrate.
With those guidelines, you can determine what you can afford. For example, if you make $4,000 a month, you should typically spend no more than $1,120 on your monthly mortgage payment in total.
How much house that buys you depends on multiple factors: mortgage rates, property tax rates, homeowners insurance andâif you donât have the savings to put down 20%âprimary mortgage insurance, or PMI. To get a rough estimate, plug your income details into an online calculator. For a more specific figure, talk to a local lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage, Ziegler says.
Once you know your price range, you can determine how much savings you need in the bank to buy a house right now. Youâll also need to have money saved for closing costs, which vary but typically run 2% to 5% of the loan amount, according to Bankrate.
Again, Ziegler recommends talking to a lender to really understand what your individual down payment and closing costs would be. Finally, be sure to add a line item in your budget for home maintenance that will inevitably pop up after you move in. Whether itâs a dishwasher on the fritz or a leaky roof, you donât want to be caught off guard, so be sure to save money for emergency home repairs.
How is your credit?
Your credit profile is also important to lenders, and it will likely be a factor in what interest rate youâre offered. Given that, you should be checking your credit report and know your credit score before investing in a home. If youâre considering buying a house right now, you should avoid opening any new lines of credit right before purchasing a home, Tucker says.
What is your debt-to-income ratio?
Another factor lenders check is your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, Tucker says. This is the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes to paying monthly debt payments, plus your new mortgage. Lenders typically require this ratio to be 45% or less but prefer it even lowerâin the 33% to 36% range.
Have you considered the opportunity cost?
Another financial consideration when deciding if now is a good time to buy a house is the opportunity cost of delaying a home purchase, Ziegler says. If youâre renting in a market where the rent is higher than your would-be monthly mortgage payment, you may be spending a lot more money each month than if you were to purchase a home. And of course, with a mortgage, your monthly payment increases your equity.
After taking a clear-eyed look at your income, savings and these other financial factors, you will have a better sense of when youâre ready to buy a home and whether nowâs the time for you to dip into the market.
Consider key market factors
Next, take a look at factors that are outside of your control, but still influence your purchase: prices, interest rates and national employment trends.
Where are housing prices?
As youâre looking at the market, one of the biggest considerations when you are ready to buy a home will be housing prices and availability. Research your local market by talking to real estate agents who work specifically in the area where you want to buy and asking them about market trends, Ziegler says.
Track current listings and recently sold prices to get a sense of how prices look today. Generally, the tighter the inventoryâmeaning the fewer houses availableâthe higher prices will be, Tucker says.
Whatâs going on with interest rates?
When youâre ready to buy a home could also depend on another major economic factor: interest rates. When interest rates are low, your housing budget is effectively supercharged, Tucker says, and you can afford a more expensive house because youâre spending less on interest. When they are high, the opposite is true.
This is what compels people to buy when interest rates are lowâyou get more for your money. If you get a 30- or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, you lock in that rate for the entire life of the loan, which could save you money now and into the future, Tucker says.
How does employment look nationally?
Finally, if you want to get a general idea of where the housing market may be headedâif prices will drop or rise soonâcheck out the national employment trends, Cororaton says. Low unemployment means prices will generally trend upward because more people can afford houses, boosting competition and prices, she says.
But if unemployment is inching up, then people are losing jobs and will be more likely to remain in their current homes. As a result, there tends to be less competition for them, lowering prices.
You donât need to be an expert in the market to determine if now is a good time to buy a house, but a baseline understanding of these big-picture forces can give you the confidence you need to embark on your home-buying journey.
Think about your future plans
After reviewing your savings and income and assessing the market conditions, take a step back and think about your life plans over the next few years. Your lifestyle and goals will help determine whether now is a good time to buy a house.
âFor buyers who are not certain whether they will still be living in the same place in three or five years, I would caution against locking themselves into a certain location,â Ziegler says. âIf theyâre just not sure what the future holds, it may be better to have that flexibility.â
Itâs unlikely in many markets that you will see substantial financial gain from homeownership if you move within five years, Ziegler says. Your equity gains will likely be offset by the transaction costs of buying and selling your home.
That goes for remote workers, too. Are you working from a home office these days? While widespread remote work may allow buyers to consider homes farther from their offices, ask yourself: Is my company going to permanently allow employees to work from home? Do I think there will be other remote opportunities in the future?
While youâre thinking about the next three to five years of your career, also consider the next three to five years of your personal life. Will you have a family? Will that family grow?
These can be weighty topics, so be sure to think them through on your own schedule. Buying a house is a big decision, and itâs not one to be rushed. By taking the time to assess your life, from your job security to your financial health to your lifestyle, and considering the impact of market factors, youâll have a clearer sense of when you are ready to buy a home.
If youâve decided that buying a house right now is the best decision for you, itâs time to learn more about how it will impact your budget. Get started by reading up on these eight unexpected expenses when buying a home.
Articles may contain information from third-parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third-party or information.
The post Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House? appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.