How Long Does It Take To Buy A House?

How long does it take to buy a house? The answer is: it depends. You can buy a house in a matter of weeks or it can take you anywhere from 4 to 6 months. The question is how ready are you? It can take a long time, and that’s just learning about various mortgage options or improving your credit score.

So understanding the various factors involved in buying a house can give you an estimate of how long it will take you to buy the house

Check out now: 5 Signs You Are Not Ready To Buy A House

How long does it take to buy a house? A step-by-step guide.

It can take a homebuyer a few weeks to several months to complete the home buying process. But when determining how long it will take you to buy a house, you first have to find out if you will be pre-approved for a mortgage. There is no sense of shopping for a house to then realize you can’t afford it.

If you are interested in comparing the best mortgage rates through LendingTree click here. It’s completely free.

I. How long does it take to get a pre-approved mortgage letter in order to buy a house?

If you’re serious about buying a house, it’s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage. So when it’s time to make an offer, the seller will know you’re serious. If you don’t have one handy, the seller will likely move to the next buyer.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage in order to buy a house can take longer. That is because you have to make sure your financial situation is in shape. For example, your income-to-debt ratio, your down payment, and your credit score must be good. That’s exactly what a mortgage lender will look at.

Even when these things are in order, shopping and comparing mortgage rates and fees can take several weeks.

Let’s take a look on how long it will take you to get these things in shape before buying a house.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

A. How good is your credit score?

A low credit score can make buying a house take longer, because it can take months to a year to improve a bad credit score.

A conventional loan will usually require a 640+ credit score.

In fact, your credit score is the number 1 item mortgage lenders look at to decide whether to offer you a mortgage. And if it is not where it’s supposed to be, you might get rejected.

Luckily for you there are other ways to get a loan with much lower credit score: FHA loans.

FHA loans only require a credit score of 580 with 3.5% down payment. You may get qualified with a 500 credit score, but you’ll have to come with a 10% down payment.

So before you get into the fun part of shopping for a mortgage or visiting homes, it’s best to know what your credit score is and take steps to improve it.

You can get a free credit score at Credit Sesame.

B. Fix errors on your credit report.

Fixing errors on your credit report in order to get pre-approved for a loan in order to buy a house can take 30 days.

According to Transunion, “most investigations are completed within 2 weeks, but some may take up 30 days.”

Again, we recommend you get a free credit report at Credit Sesame. A credit report will give you a detail analysis of your credit history, how much debt you owe, and how creditworthy you are, etc. If there are any errors or inaccuracies, fix them immediately so there’s no surprise when you’re actually applying for a mortgage.

The best way to do that is by filing a Transunion dispute or Equifax dispute.

C. Do you have a down payment for the house?

How long it will take you to buy a house will also depend on whether or not you already have money saved up for a down payment.

Unless you’re going to buy the house with outright cash, you’ll need a down payment. And saving for a down payment can take a long time. Depending on your income and expenses, saving for a down payment on a house can take years.

Assuming, for example, you want to buy a house that will cost you $450,000, and you’re using a conventional loan to finance the house. With a 20% down payment, you will need to come up with $90,000.

Let’s say again, because of other monthly expenses, you can only save $1500 a month for the down payment.

You see how long it will take you to save for a down payment to buy the house? 5 years. And that doesn’t even take into account other upfront costs of buying a house, such as closing cost.

While it’s possible to get a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% of the home purchase price, it’s advisable to put at least 20% down. The reason is because you will avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the lenders in case you default on your mortgage.

Home buyers with a down payment below 20% are usually charged with PMI.

Another reason for a larger down payment is that it reduces the cost of the mortgage, grows equity much faster, and saves you on interest over the life of the loan.

As you can see, it can take you as much as 5 years from the time you’re thinking about buying the house to the time you’re actually ready to start the process.

But once you have taken care the things above, buying a house can go a lot faster.

II. How long does it take to find a real estate agent?

Average time: 1 day to a month

Once you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, the next step is to find an experienced real estate agent. Finding a good real estate agent can take a day to a month. Websites such as Zillow and Redfin list real estate agents you can use.

III. Shopping for a home.

Average time: a few weeks to a few months

With the help of a real estate agent and your own due diligence, finding a home can can go faster or take longer depending on available homes, the season and your desired location.

But experts say on average it can take a minimum of three weeks to a few months.

IV. Making an offer, negotiation, and inspection.

Average time: 1 to 10 days

Once you have found the home of your dream, the next step is to make an offer. You and the seller can go back and forth negotiating the price.

Once your offer has been accepted, you and the seller sign something called a purchase agreement. Then, the next step is to hire a professional to inspect the home for defects. Depending on your state, a home inspection must be completed within 10 days. And if the inspection finds some defects in the house, that could delay the process.

V. How long does it take to close on a house?

Average time: 30 to 45 days.

Once the inspection is done, your lender will need to officially approve you for the loan. And depending on the lender, it can also affect how long it takes to buy a house. You may need to provide additional documents. But the lender will need to assess the home for its value. And depending on the program (whether it’s conventional loan or FHA loan) it can take anywhere from 30 to 45 days to close on a home.

Bottom line

When asking yourself this question: “how long does it take to buy a house?” The answer is : it depends. If you have your credit score, your down payment, your other finances under control, you can buy your house in two months or less. But if you have to save for a down payment, fix errors on your credit report, raise your credit score, the whole home buying process can take years.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE

Still wondering how long it takes to buy a house? Read the following articles:

  • 5 Signs You’re Not Ready To Buy A House
  • 10 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes To Avoid
  • 3 Signs You’re Not Ready to Refinance Your Mortgage
  • The Biggest Mistakes Millennials Make When Buying a House
  • 7 Signs You’re Ready To Buy A House

Work with the Right Financial Advisor

You can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc). So, find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post How Long Does It Take To Buy A House? appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

How to Make Better Financial Decisions

Woman learning how to make better financial decisions

A key financial decision people struggle to make is how to allocate savings for multiple financial goals. Do you save for several goals at the same time or fund them one-by-one in a series of steps? Basically, there are two ways to approach financial goal-setting:

Concurrently: Saving for two or more financial goals at the same time.

Sequentially: Saving for one financial goal at a time in a series of steps.

Each method has its pros and cons. Here’s how to decide which method is best for you.

Sequential goal-setting

Pros

You can focus intensely on one goal at a time and feel a sense of completion when each goal is achieved. It’s also simpler to set up and manage single-goal savings than plans for multiple goals. You only need to set up and manage one account.

Cons

Compound interest is not retroactive. If it takes up to a decade to get around to long-term savings goals (e.g., funding a retirement savings plan), that’s time that interest is not earned.

Concurrent goal-setting

Pros

Compound interest is not delayed on savings for goals that come later in life. The earlier money is set aside, the longer it can grow. Based on the Rule of 72, you can double a sum of money in nine years with an 8 percent average return. The earliest years of savings toward long-term goals are the most powerful ones.

Cons

Funding multiple financial goals is more complex than single-tasking. Income needs to be earmarked separately for each goal and often placed in different accounts. In addition, it will probably take longer to complete any one goal because savings is being placed in multiple locations.

Research findings

Working with Wise Bread to recruit respondents, I conducted a study of financial goal-setting decisions with four colleagues that was recently published in the Journal of Personal Finance. The target audience was young adults with 69 percent of the sample under age 45. Four key financial decisions were explored: financial goals, homeownership, retirement planning, and student loans.

Results indicated that many respondents were sequencing financial priorities, instead of funding them simultaneously, and delaying homeownership and retirement savings. Three-word phrases like “once I have…,", “after I [action],” and “as soon as…,” were noted frequently, indicating a hesitancy to fund certain financial goals until achieving others.

The top three financial goals reported by 1,538 respondents were saving for something, buying something, and reducing debt. About a third (32 percent) of the sample had outstanding student loan balances at the time of data collection and student loan debt had a major impact on respondents’ financial decisions. About three-quarters of the sample said loan debt affected both housing choices and retirement savings.

Actionable steps

Based on the findings from the study mentioned above, here are five ways to make better financial decisions.

1. Consider concurrent financial planning

Rethink the practice of completing financial goals one at a time. Concurrent goal-setting will maximize the awesome power of compound interest and prevent the frequently-reported survey result of having the completion date for one goal determine the start date to save for others.

2. Increase positive financial actions

Do more of anything positive that you’re already doing to better your personal finances. For example, if you’re saving 3 percent of your income in a SEP-IRA (if self-employed) or 401(k) or 403(b) employer retirement savings plan, decide to increase savings to 4 percent or 5 percent.

3. Decrease negative financial habits

Decide to stop (or at least reduce) costly actions that are counterproductive to building financial security. Everyone has their own culprits. Key criteria for consideration are potential cost savings, health impacts, and personal enjoyment.

4. Save something for retirement

Almost 40 percent of the respondents were saving nothing for retirement, which is sobering. The actions that people take (or do not take) today affect their future selves. Any savings is better than no savings and even modest amounts like $100 a month add up over time.

5. Run some financial calculations

Use an online calculator to set financial goals and make plans to achieve them. Planning increases people’s sense of control over their finances and motivation to save. Useful tools are available from FINRA and Practical Money Skills.

What’s the best way to save money for financial goals? It depends. In the end, the most important thing is that you’re taking positive action. Weigh the pros and cons of concurrent and sequential goal-setting strategies and personal preferences, and follow a regular savings strategy that works for you. Every small step matters!

Like this article? Pin it!

Want to know how to allocate savings for your financial goals? We’ve got the tips on how to make financial decisions so you can be confident in your personal finance! | #moneymatters #personalfinance #moneytips


Source: feeds.killeraces.com

How Much Your Monthly Food Budget Should Be + Grocery Calculator

.food-budget-calculatormargin:30px auto;border:2px solid #ebebeb;border-radius:8px;border-top:0;border-top-left-radius:8px;border-top-right-radius:8px;padding:30px 30px 0;padding-top:0;position:relative@media(max-width:610px).food-budget-calculatorpadding:0 20px 0.calc-headerfont-family:Avenir,sans-serif;font-size:35px;color:#fff;font-weight:700;width:calc(100% + 62px);border-top-left-radius:8px;border-top-right-radius:8px;background-color:#33a6a5;padding:40px 0 40px 0;text-align:center;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box;margin:0 -31px.calc-subheaderdisplay:block;text-align:center;font-size:18px;margin:20px -31px 0;border-bottom:1px solid #75767b;padding:10px 10px 25px;position:relative.calc-subheader.arrow:after,.calc-subheader.arrow:beforetop:100%;left:40%;content:”;display:block;position:absolute;width:0;height:0;border-left:30px solid transparent;border-right:30px solid transparent;border-top:20px solid #bcbcbc;margin-top:1px;z-index:10.calc-subheader.arrow:afterz-index:20;border-top:20px solid #fff;margin-top:0@media(max-width:609px).calc-headerwidth:calc(100% + 42px);margin:0 -21px.calc-subheadermargin:10px -21px 25px.calc-household-wrapdisplay:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;margin:0 -31px;-webkit-box-shadow:0 1px 0 0 #75767b6b;box-shadow:0 1px 0 0 #75767b6b;overflow-x:auto;-ms-scroll-snap-type:x mandatory;scroll-snap-type:x mandatory;scroll-padding:60px;scroll-behavior:smooth;-webkit-overflow-scrolling:touch;position:relative;scrollbar-width:thin;scrollbar-color:#33a6a5 #beecf1@media(max-width:608px).calc-household-wrapmargin:-25px -20px 0.household-wrap-arrow,.household-wrap-arrow-prevdisplay:none;position:absolute;top:318px;bottom:auto;width:28px;right:0;height:405px;background:linear-gradient(to right,transparent 0,rgba(255,255,255,.99) 100%);z-index:12.household-wrap-arrow-prevleft:0;background:linear-gradient(to left,transparent 0,rgba(255,255,255,.99) 100%).household-wrap-arrow span,.household-wrap-arrow-prev spanposition:absolute;top:40%;left:48%;font-size:60px;line-height:1;cursor:pointer;color:#2c77bf;opacity:.5;transition:opacity .25s ease-in-out.household-wrap-arrow-prev spanleft:auto.household-wrap-arrow span:hover,.household-wrap-arrow-prev span:hover,.household-wrap-arrow-prev:focus-within span,.household-wrap-arrow:focus-within spanopacity:1.calc-household-wrap::-webkit-scrollbarwidth:12px;height:12px.calc-household-wrap::-webkit-scrollbar-thumbbackground:#33a6a5;border-radius:10px.calc-household-wrap::-webkit-scrollbar-trackbackground:0 0.calc-persondisplay:none;padding:30px;scroll-snap-align:start;-webkit-transform-origin:center center;-ms-transform-origin:center center;transform-origin:center center;-webkit-transform:scale(1);-ms-transform:scale(1);transform:scale(1);-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform .5s;transition:-webkit-transform .5s;-o-transition:transform .5s;transition:transform .5s;transition:transform .5s,-webkit-transform .5s;position:relative@media(max-width:480px).calc-personmin-width:330px.calc-person.activedisplay:block.calc-person:nth-child(even)background-color:#f8f8f8.calc-groupmargin-bottom:15px.calc-group:last-of-typemargin-bottom:0.calc-group labelfont-weight:400;color:#2e2f30;font-size:18px.calc-group:not(.dietary)display:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center@media(max-width:480px).calc-group:not(.dietary)flex-wrap:wrap.calc-group:not(.dietary) labelwidth:260px.calc-person input[type=checkbox]border-radius:0;height:18px;width:18px;-moz-appearance:none;-webkit-appearance:none;-o-appearance:none;border:1px solid #75767b;outline-offset:-1px;-webkit-transition:all .2s;-o-transition:all .2s;transition:all .2s.calc-person input[type=checkbox]+labelmargin-left:12.5px;margin-right:20px;position:relative;top:-2.5px.calc-person input[type=checkbox]:checked+label:after,.calc-person input[type=checkbox]:not(:checked)+label:aftercontent:”;background-image:url(https://blog.mint.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/check@2x.png);position:absolute;top:6.5px;left:-29.5px;font-size:1em;line-height:.8;color:#09ad7e;-webkit-transition:all .2s;-o-transition:all .2s;width:16px;transition:all .2s;background-repeat:no-repeat;height:17px;background-size:100% auto.calc-person input[type=checkbox]:not(:checked)+label:afteropacity:0;-webkit-transform:scale(0);-ms-transform:scale(0);transform:scale(0).calc-person input[type=checkbox]:checked+label:afteropacity:1;-webkit-transform:scale(1);-ms-transform:scale(1);transform:scale(1).calc-person input[type=checkbox]:checkedbackground-color:#2c77bf.calc-person input[type=checkbox]:checked+label:aftercolor:#fff.calc-person h3margin-top:0;margin-bottom:20px;color:#00a6a4;font-weight:700;font-size:18px.dietary-labeldisplay:block;margin-bottom:8px.food-budget-calculator selectfont-size:16px;padding:9px 8px;margin-left:20px;width:87px;-ms-flex-item-align:center;-ms-grid-row-align:center;align-self:center@media(max-width:480px).food-budget-calculator selectmargin-left:0;margin:10px 0.food-budget-calculator select#householdwidth:57px.placeholdermargin-left:auto;margin-right:auto.calc-containerwidth:100%;font-family:Avenir,sans-serif;border:2px solid #ebebeb;border-radius:8px;border-top:0;border-top-left-radius:0;border-top-right-radius:0;padding:30px;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box.calculation-sectiondisplay:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-orient:horizontal;-webkit-box-direction:normal;-ms-flex-direction:row;flex-direction:row;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center.calculation-section pfont-size:18px;color:#333;font-weight:700.user-input-ms-flex-item-align:start;align-self:flex-start;padding-top:0;padding-left:0;padding-right:10px.user-input pmargin-top:0.user-input labelfont-size:14px;color:#75767b;font-weight:500;position:relative.user-input inputborder:1px solid #bababd;padding:10px;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box;margin-top:10px.result-display pfont-weight:700;color:#33a6a5;font-size:14px;text-transform:uppercase;text-align:center;margin:0.result-displaybackground-color:#f8f8f8;padding:25px 15px 25px 15px;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box.rent-textcolor:#333!important;font-weight:700;font-size:48px!important;padding:20px 0 20px 0;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box.calc-gen-pfont-size:18px;color:#333;margin-top:30px;margin-bottom:30px;text-align:center.bold-pfont-weight:700.slider-sectionborder:1px solid #75767b;padding:30px;padding-left:26px;padding-right:26px.slider-directionsfont-weight:700;text-align:center;width:73%;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;margin-top:0;margin-bottom:30px.slider-divwidth:100%;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box.slider-webkit-appearance:none;-moz-appearance:none;appearance:none;height:12px;width:calc(100% + 35px);border-radius:8px;background:-webkit-gradient(linear,left top,right top,from(#5da3a3),color-stop(25%,#5da3a3),color-stop(25%,#6ebf7d),color-stop(50%,#6ebf7d),color-stop(50%,#edbd46),color-stop(75%,#edbd46),color-stop(75%,#e7984c),to(#e7984c));background:-o-linear-gradient(left,#5da3a3 0,#5da3a3 25%,#6ebf7d 25%,#6ebf7d 50%,#edbd46 50%,#edbd46 75%,#e7984c 75%,#e7984c 100%);background:linear-gradient(to right,#5da3a3 0,#5da3a3 25%,#6ebf7d 25%,#6ebf7d 50%,#edbd46 50%,#edbd46 75%,#e7984c 75%,#e7984c 100%);margin-bottom:30px.slider:focusoutline:0!important.slider-spender>div.active::before,.slider::-webkit-slider-thumb-webkit-appearance:none;appearance:none;width:35px;height:35px;border-radius:50%;background:#f8f8f8;-webkit-box-shadow:0 2px 4px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.2),0 3px 6px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.19);box-shadow:0 2px 4px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.2),0 3px 6px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.19);cursor:pointer.slider-spender>div.active::before,.slider:focus::-webkit-slider-thumbborder:1.5px solid #33a6a5.slider-spender>div.active::before,input[type=range]::-moz-range-thumb-webkit-appearance:none;-moz-appearance:none;appearance:none;width:35px;height:35px;border-radius:50%;background:#f8f8f8;box-shadow:0 2px 4px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.2),0 3px 6px 0 rgba(0,0,0,.19);cursor:pointer;margin-left:-17.5px.slider-spenderdisplay:block;margin-bottom:30px;height:12px;width:100%;border-radius:10px.slider-spender-wrapmargin-bottom:50px.slider-spender>divdisplay:inline-block;width:25%;height:100%;position:relative;cursor:pointer;transition:all .25s ease-in-out;z-index:1;margin:0 -2.5px;.slider-spender>div.activetransform:scale3d(1.125,1.55,1);z-index:2.slider-spender .thriftybackground-color:#00a6a4;border-radius:10px 0 0 10px.slider-spender .cost-consciousbackground-color:#21c374.slider-spender .moderatebackground-color:#ffdc00.slider-spender .generousbackground-color:#ff9331;border-radius:0 10px 10px 0.spender-wrappadding:30px 0;margin-top:45px.moderate-budgetfont-size:18px;text-align:center;margin-bottom:30px.slider-resultsdisplay:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-orient:horizontal;-webkit-box-direction:normal;-ms-flex-direction:row;flex-direction:row;-ms-flex-wrap:wrap;flex-wrap:wrap;-webkit-box-pack:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center.slider-textdisplay:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-ms-flex-pack:distribute;justify-content:space-around.slider-text pfont-size:18px;font-weight:800;width:25%;text-align:center;white-space:nowrap;position:relative@media(max-width:644px).slider-text pdisplay:none.slider-text p.activedisplay:block;width:auto@media(min-width:768px).slider-text pfont-size:13px;font-weight:600@media(min-width:900px).slider-text pfont-size:15px;font-weight:800@media(min-width:1100px).slider-text pfont-size:18px.kind-spendermargin:70px 0 0;text-align:center;font-size:24px.result-boxwidth:258px;margin:4px;padding:10px;height:100px;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box;background-color:#f8f8f8;position:relative.result-2-headerfont-size:14px;text-transform:uppercase;text-align:center;font-weight:700;margin:0;margin-bottom:10px;width:-webkit-max-content;width:-moz-max-content;width:max-content;display:block;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;position:relative;-webkit-box-sizing:border-box;box-sizing:border-box.tooltip-iconposition:absolute;right:-25px;bottom:17%;width:13px;height:13px.tooltip-textbackground-color:#75767b;color:#fff;font-family:Avenir,sans-serif;font-size:14px;padding:8px;position:absolute;border-radius:12px;width:150px;display:none;position:absolute;left:85px;top:52px;z-index:1;text-transform:none;font-weight:400;text-align:left;white-space:normal.tooltip-icon:focus+.tooltip-text,.tooltip-icon:hover+.tooltip-textdisplay:block.slider-text p .tooltip-iconleft:0;right:0;top:50px;margin:auto.slider-text p .tooltip-textleft:0.result-box p .tooltip-textleft:110px;top:30px@media(max-width:600px).result-box p .tooltip-text,.slider-text p .tooltip-textleft:auto;right:0.tooltip-wrapperposition:relative;width:-webkit-max-content;width:-moz-max-content;width:max-content.rent-tipleft:55px.rent-headercolor:#33a6a5.other-headercolor:#2683e6.discretionary-headercolor:#ff9331.savings-headercolor:#00cadc.silder-result-numberfont-size:36px;color:#333;text-align:center;font-weight:700;margin:0.printables-button,.signup-2width:60%!important;margin-right:auto.printables-button,.signup-calcfont-family:Avenir,sans-serif;font-size:16px;color:#fff;background-color:#ff9331;text-align:center;height:48px;width:158px;border:none;border-radius:5px;cursor:pointer;width:100%!important;display:block;margin-right:auto.printables-buttonbackground-color:#1a7de5;height:60px;width:300px!important;margin-top:10px;margin-bottom:10px.printables-button:focus,.printables-button:hovercolor:#1a7de5;background-color:#fff;border:2px solid #1a7de5.cta-pdisplay:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;margin-top:80px.signup-calc:focus,.signup-calc:hovercolor:#ff9331;background-color:#fff;border:2px solid #ff9331.signup-2height:60px;width:300px!important;margin-top:10px;margin-bottom:10px@media screen and (max-width:645px).calc-gen-p amargin-left:10px@media screen and (max-width:500px).printables-button,.signup-2margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto.calc-containerdisplay:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-orient:vertical;-webkit-box-direction:normal;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:90%;border:2px solid #babbbe;border-top:none;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;border-radius:0.calculation-section,.slider-resultsdisplay:-webkit-box;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-orient:vertical;-webkit-box-direction:normal;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:90%;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto.user-inputmargin-left:auto;margin-right:auto.user-input pfont-size:25px;padding-bottom:20px;margin-bottom:20px;border-bottom:1px solid #75767b#incomewidth:100%.slider-sectionborder:none;border-top:1px solid #75767b;padding-left:0;padding-right:0;padding-bottom:0.result-displaymargin-top:30px;width:100%;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto.result-boxwidth:100%.calc-gen-pwidth:80%;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;font-size:15px.calc-gen-p amargin:auto.cta-ptext-align:center;margin-top:0;margin-left:auto;line-height:1.2222;margin-right:auto;width:100%;font-size:20px;-webkit-box-orient:vertical;-webkit-box-direction:normal;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column.signup-calcmargin-top:30px;margin-left:0;width:80%.signup-2height:60px;width:300px;margin-left:30px.sliderheight:22px.slider::-webkit-slider-thumbheight:45px;width:45pxinput[type=range]::-moz-range-thumbheight:45px;width:45px.user-input labelfont-size:18px.user-input inputfont-size:14px.slider-directionsfont-size:18px.silder-result-numberfont-size:27px.result-2-headerfont-size:12px.rent-textfont-size:40px!important

Your grocery bill can add up fast. From dinner entrées to snacks, the amount you spend directly affects your other financial goals. Luckily, there are some guidelines to ensure you’re not overspending. 

Use the grocery calculator below to estimate your monthly and weekly food budget based on guidelines from the USDA’s monthly food plan. Input your family size and details below to calculate how much a nutritious grocery budget should cost you. Of course, every family is different. Some love coupons and leftovers, while others prefer fresh fish and aged cheese. Once you’ve established your budget, use the slider to adjust your estimate to your spending habits. 

Getting your food budget on point takes practice. With this grocery calculator and the right spending habits, you’ll have enough for your living expenses and exciting financial goals like paying off loans or buying a house.

Grocery Budget Calculator

012345678910

Person 1

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 2

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 3

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 4

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 5

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 6

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 7

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 8

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 9

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

Person 10

0-34-812-1819-5051-7071+
0123456789101112131415161718192021

A moderate grocery budget will run you:

Weekly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.

$0.00

Monthly Grocery Cost Food costs per individual are based on USDA research regarding Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and follow MyPyramid nutrition guidelines.

$0.00

What kind of spender are you?

Does your estimate look right? If your spending habits don’t add up, explore these other budget options and choose what’s best for your lifestyle.

Thrifty This is the USDA’s estimated food budget for families that receive food assistance like WIC or SNAP.

Cost-Conscious This is an ideal budget for nutritious meals if you’re looking to save a little extra cash with leftovers and coupons.

Moderate This is the standard for affordable, nutritious, and balanced portions for most families.

Generous This budget gives you some spending wiggle room for finer foods or extra portions.

See where the rest of your budget is going Sign up for Mint

Monthly Grocery Budget

Ever wonder how much you should spend on groceries? The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases.

Here’s a monthly grocery budget for the average family. This is based on the national average and likely varies by location and shop. For instance, New York City grocers are going to be far more expensive than Kansas City shops. Additionally, organic grocery stores like Whole Foods are pricier than places like Walmart or Aldi.

You’ll also want to consider dietary choices, like gluten-free or vegan diets. These can significantly affect your budget, so consider planning your grocery list online to compare prices and find your preferred alternatives.

FAMILY SIZE SUGGESTED
MONTHLY BUDGET
1 person $251
2 people $553
3 people $722
4 people $892
5 people $1,060
6 people $1,230

Finding a reasonable monthly grocery budget ensures you and your family have what you need, while not overspending. Look back at previous months using a budgeting app or credit card statements to see what you’ve spent at the grocery store. Decide if you want to maintain your current budget or cut back.

Purchasing Groceries vs. Dining Out

Mockup of grocery list and food inventory printables with fresh produce

 

Download grocery list and inventory printables button.

Don’t forget what you spend at restaurants when you consider your food budget. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend 11 percent of their take-home income on food. It doesn’t all go towards groceries, though. Approximately six percent is spent on groceries, while five percent is spent dining out — including dates, lunches with coworkers, and Sunday brunch.

With this framework in mind, you can calculate your total food budget based on your take-home income. For example, Rita makes $3,500 per month after taxes. She would budget six percent for groceries ($210) and five percent for restaurants ($175). So she’ll need a total of $385 for food each month. With a little practice, she’ll better learn her habits and be able to accurately adjust her budget.

Tips for Reducing Your Budget

Illustration of grocery coupons and meal planner.

There are several ways to cut back on what you spend without sacrificing the quality and taste of your food. Trimming your food budget can help you stow away more for your financial goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a dream vacation.

Cut Coupons

Coupons are easy to find in the mail, in store, in your inbox, and even in a Google search. Many popular grocery stores are rolling out apps that track your coupons and savings. Be sure to download and register your email for new updates and sales. These usually work in person or online, so you can shop when and how you like. 

While a single coupon might not give you a large discount, you can save a lot with multiple coupons. It’s also important you make sure you actually need the item you’re purchasing instead of buying it for the sale. This can quickly get out of hand and push you over budget. 

Freeze Your Food

Freezing your fresh food before it goes bad helps your wallet and the environment. You can plan ahead and freeze prepared produce to save time on weekday cooking, or chop and freeze last week’s produce before shopping for more. Frozen vegetables are great in soups and stews, and you can use frozen fruits for healthy breakfast smoothies. 

Plan a Weekly Menu Ahead of Time

Plan your meals ahead of time to determine the food items and quantities you need before you head to the grocery store. This way you’re more likely to buy the exact items you need and can plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to plan for recipes that use the same ingredients so there’s less to purchase. You can also make larger meals and plan leftovers for lunch so you have less to plan and purchase.

Download meal planning printable button.

Bring Lunches to Work 

A $13 lunch out might not seem like much, but it can blow your food budget fast if it becomes a habit. Push your monthly food budget further with delicious lunches from home. Salads, sandwiches, and leftovers are all easy, inexpensive, and nutritious. 

Buy Store Brands 

Many packaged products have a huge price disparity between brand name and generic items, and store brand items tend to be cheaper without sacrificing much quality. You can easily save 10 cents to a dollar per item, which adds up quickly over many trips. 

Shop at a More Affordable Store

Your local farmers market, chain grocery, and organic store will all offer different specialties and sales. Check out the different shops in your area to find the best combination of quality and price. Some stores might even offer bulk items — great for your favorite products and those with a long shelf-life. Choosing cheaper staple items like milk and yogurt can also make a huge difference over time. 

An accurate food budget that works for you helps you feel more confident and in control of your finances. Build a budget, learn your spending habits, and keep a grocery list to keep you on track and responsible so you can reach bigger goals, like a new vehicle or a down payment on a house. 

Sources: USA Today | EurekAlert | Persistent Economic Burden of the Gluten-Free Diet

The post How Much Your Monthly Food Budget Should Be + Grocery Calculator appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

How to Change the Executor of a Will

A last will and testamentDrafting a last will and testament can help to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. You can also use your will to name a legal guardian for minor children or choose an executor for your estate. It’s possible to make changes to your will after it’s written, including removing or adding an executor if necessary. If you’re wondering how to change the executor of a will after the fact, the process is easier than you might think. As you go about the process, it may behoove you to find a trusted financial advisor in your area for hands-on guidance.

Executor of a Will, Explained

The executor of a will is the person responsible for carrying out the terms of a will. When you name someone as executor, you’re giving him or her authority to handle certain tasks related to the distribution of your estate.

Generally, an executor can be any person you name. For example, that might include siblings, your spouse, adult children or your estate planning attorney. Minor children can’t serve as executors and some states prohibit convicted felons from doing so as well.

There’s no rule preventing a beneficiary of a will from also serving as executor. While beneficiaries can’t witness a will in which they have a direct interest, they can be charged with executing the terms of the will once you pass away.

What Does the Executor of a Will Do?

Being executor to a will means there are certain duties you’re obligated to carry out. Those include:

  • Obtaining death certificates after the will-maker passes away
  • Initiating the probate process
  • Creating an inventory of the will-maker’s assets
  • Notifying the will-maker’s creditors of the death
  • Paying off any outstanding debts owed by the will-maker
  • Closing bank accounts if necessary
  • Reading the will to the deceased person’s heirs
  • Distributing assets to the persons named in the will

Executors can’t change the terms of the will; they can only see that its terms are carried out. An executor can collect a fee for their services, which is typically a percentage of the value of the estate they’re finalizing.

Reasons to Change the Executor of a Will

While you may draft a will assuming that your choice of executor won’t change, there are different reasons why making a switch may be necessary. For example, you may need to choose a new executor if:

  • Your original executor passes away or becomes seriously ill and can’t fulfill his or her duties
  • You named your spouse as executor but you’ve since gotten a divorce
  • The person you originally named decides he or she no longer wants the responsibility
  • You’ve had a personal falling out with your executor
  • You believe that a different person is better equipped to execute your will

You don’t need to provide a specific reason to change the executor of a will. Once you’re ready to do so there are two options to choose from: add a codicil to an existing will or draft a brand-new will.

Using a Codicil 
to Change the Executor of a Will

Woman changes her will

A codicil is a written amendment that you can use to change the terms of your will without having to write a new one. Codicils can be used to change the executor of a will or revise any other terms as needed. If you want to change your will’s executor using a codicil, the first step is choosing a new executor. Remember, this can be almost anyone who’s an adult of sound mind, excluding felons.

Next, you’d write the codicil. In it, you’d specify the changes you’re making to your will (i.e. naming a new executor), the name of the person who should serve as executor going forward and the date the change should take effect. You’d also need to validate the codicil the same way you did your original will.

This means signing and dating the codicil in the presence of at least two witnesses. Witnesses must be legal adults of sound mind and they can’t have an interest in the will. So, a beneficiary to the will couldn’t witness your codicil but a neighbor or coworker could if they don’t stand to benefit from the will directly or indirectly.

Once the codicil is completed and signed by yourself and the witnesses, you can attach it to your existing will. It’s helpful to keep a copy of your will and the codicil in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box. You may also want to give a copy to your estate planning attorney if you have one.

Writing a New Will to 
Change the Executor of a Will

If you need to change more than just the executor of your will, you might consider drafting a new will document. The process for drafting a new will is similar to the one you followed for making your original one.

You’d need to specify who your beneficiaries will be, how you want your assets to be distributed and who should serve as executor. The new will would also need to be signed and properly witnessed.

But you’d have to take the added step of destroying all copies of the original will. This is necessary to avoid confusion and potential challenges to the terms of the will after you pass away. If you’re not sure how to draft a new will to replace an existing one, you may want to talk to an estate planning attorney to make sure you’re doing so legally.

What Happens If You Don’t Name an Executor?

Probate court hearing form

If, for any reason, you choose not to name an executor in your will the probate court can assign one. After you pass away, eligible persons can apply to become the executor of your estate. The person the court chooses would then be able to carry out the terms of your will. If you don’t have a will at all, then your assets would be distributed according to your state’s inheritance laws.

That’s why it’s important to take the time to at least write a simple will. This way, there’s no question of your estate being divided among your heirs the way that you want it to be.

The Bottom Line

Making a will can be a good starting point for shaping your estate plan. Naming an executor means you don’t have to rely on the probate court to do it. But if you need to change the executor of your will later, it’s possible to do so with minimal headaches.

Tips for Estate Planning

  • Consider talking to a financial advisor about creating an estate plan and what you might need. If you don’t have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesn’t have to be complicated. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can help you connect with an advisor in your local area. It takes just a few minutes to get your personalized recommendations online. If you’re ready, get started now.
  • A will is just one document you may need as part of your estate plan. You may also consider setting up a trust, for example, if you have extensive assets or own a business. Life insurance is something you may also need to have, along with an advance health care directive and/or power of attorney.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/eric1513, ©iStock.com/kate_sept2004, ©iStock.com/courtneyk

The post How to Change the Executor of a Will appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

How to Negotiate Salary Increases and Promotions

There are only two ways to get extra money to save. Either you can cut your expenses or start earning extra income. While reducing your expenses is a good first start to sticking to your budget, there’s only so many soy lattes and unused gym membership that you can get rid of. It’s often much more productive to focus your energy on increasing your income. 

There are a couple of different ways to earn more money. You might consider a side hustle or starting your own business. You can look for another job that pays more or try to get more money from your current employer. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to negotiate salary increases and promotions and make sure that you’re getting paid what you’re worth.

The difference between a promotion and a raise

One important distinction to make is the difference between a promotion and a raise. A promotion is usually a change in job title and/or job responsibilities. A raise is just what it sounds like – more money. The two often come together, but not always. Be careful when you get a promotion that it comes with a salary increase commensurate with the added responsibilities you’ll be taking on.

Know how much you’re worth

Knowing how much you’re worth is a key factor in the negotiations for a promotion and salary increase. There are many online sites where you can see the average salaries for just about every type of job out there. Compare several different sites to see where your salary fits in. If you can show data that you’re underpaid for someone with your experience, education and responsibilities, that can be something your manager can take to HR to approve your promotion and raise.

Track your accomplishments

If you’re looking to negotiate a salary increase or promotion, start by acting the part. Promotions and raises generally are backwards-looking. What that means is that you’re likely to get a raise for work that you’ve done or are doing ALREADY. If you’re planning on talking to your supervisor about a salary increase or promotion, it can be helpful to track your accomplishments. 

If you’ve gone above and beyond your job description, or if you’ve received praise from a customer or co-worker, keep notes of when and what. That can be useful ammunition to show why you deserve this raise. Avoid the temptation of comparing yourself to your peers – instead, look at the job responsibilities of the role you’re aiming for. If you have detailed descriptions of how you’ve been doing those responsibilities already, you’ll be well on your way to getting that promotion.

Have regular conversations with your supervisor

Healthy companies have regular conversations between supervisors and the employees that they manage. It is a trait of a good manager to care about the employment and advancement of the employees that they manage. Don’t be afraid to talk with your supervisor regularly – ask her for constructive and timely feedback, and ask for concrete steps on what you would need to do to merit a promotion. Then document those steps and come back in a few months with details of how you’ve met those steps and deserve a promotion and a raise!

Be prepared to come with a backup plan

It’s important to understand the pay and compensation structure of the company you’re at. Many companies have pay “bands” or ranges of compensation for a given role. Knowing where your salary fits within that range can be helpful when you’re preparing to negotiate a salary increase. 

Also, if the company has announced a hiring freeze or layoffs, it might not be the best time to ask for more money. Understanding the bigger situation can help you pick the right time to have the discussion. Be prepared for what you’ll do or say if your supervisor turns your request for a raise down. Is there anything else that would be meaningful to you? Maybe it’s a more flexible working arrangement, deferred compensation like stock options or other types of non-monetary compensation.

Don’t be afraid to leave

At the end of the day, you’ll have to decide how much working at this job is worth it to you. It’s always a bit nerve wracking to quit your job, but it’s generally much harder to get a significant raise without moving to a new company. You don’t want to be hopping around from job to job every few months, but it’s also important to feel like you are getting paid the money that you are worth. 

If you don’t get the promotion you’re looking for, then it may be time to start exploring other options. After all, the best time to look for a new job is while you still have your OLD one (and don’t have to worry about making ends meet)

The post How to Negotiate Salary Increases and Promotions appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

How Much Credit Card Debt is too Much?

Most Americans have credit card debt and will die with credit card debt. It’s one of the most accessible types of credit there is, becoming available as soon as you’re financially independent. It’s also one of the most damaging, as too much credit card debt could hurt your credit report, reduce your credit score, and cost you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

But how much debt is too much? What is the average total debt for American consumers and households and when do you know if you have crossed a line?

How Much Credit Card Debt is too Much?

The average credit card debt in the United States is around $5,000 to $6,000 per consumer. However, this doesn’t paint a complete picture as these figures don’t differentiate rolling balances. In other words, even if you repay your balance in full every month, that balance will still be recorded as debt until it is repaid.

For many consumers, $6,000 is not “too much”. It’s a manageable sum that they can afford to clear. However, if you’re out of work, relying on government handouts and have no money to your name, that $6,000 can seem like an unscalable mountain. And that’s an important point to note, because everything is relative.

To the average American, unsecured debt of $50,000 is catastrophic. It’s the sort of debt that will cause you to lose sleep, stress every minute of the day, and panic every time your lender sends you a letter. To a multi-millionaire homeowner who runs several successful businesses, it’s nothing, an insignificant debt they could repay in full without a second thought.

One man’s pocket change is another man’s fortune, so we can’t place an actual figure on what constitutes “too much debt”. However, this is something that credit reporting agencies, creditors, and lenders already take into consideration and to get around this issue, they use something known as a debt-to-income ratio.

Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Your DTI can tell you whether you have too much debt, and this is true for credit card debt and all other forms of debt (student loans, car loans, personal loans, and even mortgages). 

DTI is not used to calculate your credit score and won’t appear on your credit report, but it is used by mortgage lenders and other big lenders to determine your creditworthiness and if you don’t past the test then you won’t get the money.

To calculate your DTI, simply calculate the amount of debt payments that you have and compare this to your gross monthly income. For instance, let’s imagine that you make $400 in credit card payments and $600 in auto loan payments, creating a total debt payment of $1,000. Your gross monthly income is $4,000 and you don’t have any investments.

In this scenario, your DTI would be 25%. as your monthly debt payments ($1,000) are 25% of your monthly income. If you have a $1,000 mortgage payment to make every month, your obligations increase and your DTI hits 50%, which is when you should start being concerned.

Many lenders will not accept you if you have a DTI greater than 50%, because they are not convinced you will make your payments. $2,000 may seem like a lot of money to have leftover at the end of the month, but not when you factor tax, insurance, food, bills, and everyday expenses into the equation.

If your DTI is below 50%, you may be safe, but it all depends on those additional expenses.

How to Tell If You’ve Borrowed Too Much

Your debt-to-income ratio is a good starting point to determine if you have borrowed too much, and if it’s higher than 50%, there’s a good chance you have borrowed more than you should or, at the very least, you are teetering on the edge. However, even if your DTI is above 30%, which many consider the ideal limit, you may have too much credit card debt.

In such cases, you need to look for the following warning signs:

You Can’t Pay More Than the Minimum

Minimum payments cover a substantial amount of interest and only a small amount of the actual principal. If you’re only paying the minimum, you’re barely scratching the surface and it could take years to repay the debt. If you genuinely don’t have the extra funds to pay more money, then you definitely have a debt problem.

Your Credit Card Balance Keeps Growing

The only thing worse than not being able to pay more than the balance is being forced to keep using that card, in which case the balance will keep growing and the interest charges will keep accumulating. This is a dire situation to be in and means you have far too much credit card debt.

Your Debt is Increasing as Your Take-Home Pay is Reducing

If your credit card bill seems to be going in the opposite direction as your paycheck, you could have a serious problem on your hands. You may be forced to take payday loans; in which case you’ll be stuck repaying these on top of your mounting credit card interest, reaching a point when your debt eventually exceeds your disposable income.

You Don’t Have Savings or an Emergency Fund

A savings account or emergency fund is your safety net. If you reach a point where you feel like you can no longer meet the monthly payments, you can tap into these accounts and use the funds to bail you out. If you don’t have that option, things are looking decidedly bleaker for you.

Dangers of Having Too Much Credit Card Debt

The biggest issue with excessive credit card debt is that it has a habit of sticking around for years. Many debtors only make the minimum monthly payment, either because they can’t look at the bigger picture or simply can’t afford to pay more. 

When this happens, a $1,000 debt could cost them over $2,000 to repay, which means they’ll have less money to their name. What’s more, that credit card debt could impact their credit score, thus reducing their chances of getting low-interest credit and of acquiring mortgages and auto loans.

It’s a cycle. You use a credit card to make big purchases and are hit with a high-interest rate. That interest takes your disposable income away, thus making it more likely you will need to use the card again for other big purchases. 

All the while, your credit utilization ratio (calculated by comparing available credit to total debt and used to calculate 30% of your credit score) is plummeting and your hopes of getting a lower interest rate diminish.

What to do if you Have too Much Credit Card Debt?

If you find yourself ticking off the boxes above and you have a sinking feeling as you realize that everything we’re describing perfectly represents your situation, then fear not, as there are a multitude of ways you can dig yourself out of this hole:

Seek Counseling

Credit counselors can help to find flaws in your budget and your planning and provide some much-needed insight into your situation. They are personal finance experts and have dealt with countless consumer debt issues over the years, so don’t assume they can only tell you what you already know and always look to credit counseling as a first step.

Avoid Fees

Credit card companies charge a higher annual percentage rate to consumers with poor credit scores as they are more likely to default, which means they need those extra funds to balance their accounts. Another way they do this is to charge penalty fees, penalty rates, and cash advance fees, the latter of which can be very damaging to an individual struggling with credit card debt.

Cash advance fees are charged every time you withdraw money from an ATM, and the rate is often fixed at 3% with a minimum charge of $10. This means that if you withdraw as little as $20, it’ll cost you $10 in charges, as well as additional interest fees.

If the cash flow isn’t there, this can seem like a good option, but it will only make your situation worse and should be avoided at all costs.

Use Debt Relief

Debt management, debt settlement, and debt consolidation can all help you to escape debt, creating a repayment plan and clearing everything from credit card debt to student loan debt in one fell swoop. You don’t even need an excellent credit score to do this, as many debt management and debt consolidation companies are aimed towards bad credit borrowers.

Balance Transfers

A balance transfer credit card moves all of your current credit card balances onto a new card, one with a large credit limit and a 0% introductory APR that allows you to swerve interest charges for the first 6, 12, 15 or 18 months. It’s one of the best options available, assuming you have a credit score high enough to get the limit you need.

Monitor Your Situation

Whatever method you choose, it’s important to keep a close eye on your finances to ensure this never happens again. You should never be hit with an unexpected car payment or mortgage payment, because you know those payments arrive every single month; you should never be surprised that you have interest to pay or that your credit score has taken a hit because of a new account or application. 

If you paid attention to your financial situation, you wouldn’t be surprised, you would understand where every penny goes, and as a result, you will be better equipped to deal with issues in the future.

How Much Credit Card Debt is too Much? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Best credit cards for international travel

The best credit cards for international travel can make traveling a more comfortable and rewarding experience, and in more ways than one.

The right rewards credit card can help you score valuable travel perks like airport lounge access and expedited airport security. Some cards even let you avoid unnecessary foreign transaction fees. The top travel cards in the market also let you earn points and miles you can redeem for free flights, hotel stays and more.

If you’re in the market for a credit card for international travel, you’ll want to compare all the top cards to see how they might work for your travel style and goals. Keep reading to learn about the best credit cards for travel overseas, what they offer in terms of perks and rewards and how you can sign up.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Best for lounge access: The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Best for flexibility: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for infrequent international trips: Chase Sapphire Preferred® card*
  • Best with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
  • Students: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students*
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best credit card for international travel

    The Chase Sapphire Reserve is frequently listed as the top travel credit card on the market today, and for good reason. This card gives you 3X points on travel and dining purchases plus 1 point per $1 on everything else you buy. Through March 2022, you will also earn 10 points each dollar you spend on rides with Lyft. As an added bonus, you will earn 3X points on up to $1,000 per month in grocery spending through April 30, 2021 as well.

    New cardholders are also eligible to earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening. That’s worth $750 in travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

    Redemption options are very flexible: You can redeem rewards as statement credits toward any travel purchase, or for travel through the Chase portal to get a 50% redemption bonus (making your points worth 1.5 cents apiece). Also, you can transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to 11 travel partners, including United MileagePlus and Southwest Rapid Rewards.

    In exchange for the $550 annual fee, you’ll also receive excellent travel benefits like a TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit and a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership. Furthermore, the card comes with some of the best travel protections around, including trip cancellation and interruption insurance and primary car rental insurance.

    The card also offers a $300 annual travel credit that applies to most travel purchases. So, if you make at least $300 in travel purchases each year, you’ll cancel out most of the card’s fee.

    if you do the math, you’ll find that the Sapphire Reserve is usually the better value if you travel often, despite its higher fee.