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Comparing Salary to the Cost of Living

April 12, 2019

Recently, CNBC released an article discussing student loan debt in relation to locations throughout the United States. This has many questioning whether they can find a job title in their field where they want to live, that will support their current bills, payments, lifestyle, and student loans. Depending on the location and cost of living, you could be making thousands less in one location when compared to another. To add more insult you could be expected to pay off more than you are capable of based on your location. When searching for a career path, it’s vital to consider where your job title is going to be the most successful and where you can afford your current lifestyle. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when

Location Expenses

Consider the cost of living in a variety of locations.  Everyday costs like food, housing, utilities, and transportation can all vary depending on where you live in the United States. Let’s see how a location can be affected by each of these variables.

Generally, big cities are known to be more costly compared to rural areas.  The Bureau of Economic Analysis tracks price levels for food, housing and education in each state and compares them to the national level. This information can be put into a dollar value scale to simplify which states are more expensive to live in than others. For example, the value of a dollar in New York, Hawaii, and California is less than the national average dollar. Meaning your dollar bill is comparable to some cent values in other locations. In states like Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio that are not as urbanized the dollar values higher than the national average dollar. Meaning your dollar goes a little further in these areas.

 

Housing Costs

You may be asking, “What makes big cities so pricey?” and there are actually a few different reasons. The main drive for high priced locations is housing. For cities with a high population, there needs to be an abundance of housing. A high population causes overcrowded cities to have a limited amount of space for the number of people wanting to live there.   A high housing demand creates steep prices in the market because everyone is in need of a place to live. If the city life is looking a little out of budget for you, remember living outside the city and commuting is an option, and may be more cost-effective. Aside from the costs of housing, costs like transportation, utilities, and insurance may affect the cost of living.

 

Transportation Costs

We all know how expensive a car, gas, and maintenance can be. When commuting to work or even the supermarket, the distance between point A and point B will affect the amount of money you spend. .Whereas, living in the city you may literally be paying for convenience. You may be spending $200 or more a month on a permanent parking spot for your car, in addition to spending money on transportation fees. For example, in New York you could take a bus to the subway station, costing you around $2.50. Then you commute to work on the subway, costing you another $2.75. If you do this twice a day (at least) the commute will cost $10.50. Spending $10.50 five days a week for a month will get you to a grand total of $210.00 not even considering additional outings.  Please note that these prices may not be the same for all locations. For example, the average bus fare in Los Angeles is $1.75, but in Washington DC the bus fare ranges from $2.00-$5.00 depending on the commute.

 

Utilities

Utilities will also affect the cost of living, the amount depending on where you live. The cost of utilities can vary based on government regulations. Things like how much water, electricity, and gas, you are consuming can be dependent based on the weather where you are located. If you are living in a location where the winter can get very cold, that could be making a dent in your wallet on utility bills. For example, Alaska, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have an average electric rate of $21.62 per Kwh (kilowatt hour) a month.  In a place where it is always warm like Hawaii, the air conditioning may be used more frequently and the average electric rate would be $32.40 per Kwh a month.

 

Additional utility costs may include garbage removal and sewage costs. In the United States, the average cost for garbage removal is from $12.00 -$20.00 a household. Sewage rates are usually included in water rates that can be viewed with the electricity bill and can altogether be around $50.00.  In some cases, if you are living in an apartment, utilities like garbage removal and sewage will be included in your rent, or it can be separate on your electricity bill. Talk to your landlord or call housing management to find out what is included.

 

Insurance

Besides housing, transportation, and utilities, you will have car insurance, renter’s insurance.  The average rate for car insurance in the United States is $118.63 per month but can vary based on the location you are in. For example, the average cost of auto insurance in North Carolina is $865 each year while the average cost of auto insurance in Oklahoma is $1,542 a year. T Auto insurance pricing can depend on the company you have insurance with, your age, and even your gender!  For example, some companies will have a 1% price difference between genders.

 

If you choose to live in the city, it’s likely you may find yourself renting. Renter’s insurance is an additional cost you’ll want to consider.  The average, renter’s insurance in the United State is $187 per year. Renter’s insurance can be more expensive in some areas due to population and crime. If you live in a high populated area, insurance could be priced higher because the crime risk is higher.  The insurance company takes greater measures to cover your belongings in high populated areas. Renter’s insurance in Florida has an average rate of $217 per month, while in South Dakota the average rate is $118 a month.

 

Before completely scaring you back into your parent’s house for life, there are a few resources you can use to find a job and field of your choice, in areas that could be most profitable.

 

Job Search Resources

 

SimplyHired

https://www.simplyhired.com/salaries

SimplyHired will estimate the salary your specific job will be making in different locations. All you have to do is type in the job title you are looking for, and the city and state, into the search engine. Using this tool you can find out things like a nurse can make $50,000 in Dallas, Texas but, in Indianapolis, Indiana is making closer to $40,000. Although this does not calculate the cost of living, this website pulls up jobs from all over the United States. SimplyHired gives users easy access to salary information when starting to compare careers in different regions.

 

Check Out These 3 Steps to Negotiating Salary

 

Expatistan

https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/nashville

Cost of living is an important factor when searching for a location that is right for you and your preferred career. Hence why we created this helpful blog! Expatistan has a feature that pulls up a spreadsheet estimating how lifestyle choices may cost in different cities or even countries. For example, when searching in Nashville, Tennessee, Expatistan created a page that included potential prices for food, housing, clothes, transportation, personal care, and entertainment. Expatistan estimated:

 

Rent 900 Sq Foot Apartment – $1,408/month

Lunchtime Meal – $14

Sports Shoes – $98

Shampoo– $6

 

This website is a great place to find detailed estimates of what you may be spending on everyday items.  A tool like this can be very helpful when trying to manage the salary and lifestyle you are looking for.

 

CNN Money

https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/index.html

After finding an estimated salary and cost of living for a specific location, you can compare it to other areas with CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator.  You’ll need to input

  • where you live now
  • where you are considering living
  • give an estimate of how much your salary is now (or what the salary is in the field you are searching for)

Based on the information provided, the calculator will estimate how much you would be making somewhere else. For example, if you live in Atlanta, Georgia right now and are making $50,000 a year, and you would like to move to Bozeman, Montana, the comparable salary is $50,709, which is around the same amount. Now if you moved, from Atlanta with a $50,000 salary to San Francisco, the comparable salary is $97,470. Once again, the cost of living will factor in what you can afford in each region.

 

Comparing salaries, regions, and the cost of living can help you determine where you’re aspiring jobs can be the most beneficial for your lifestyle. Consider where you will have the most financial wiggle room. Educate yourself on the cost of housing, transportation, utilities, and insurance before jumping into the car moving to a new city. Optimize your options by looking at the cost of convenience versus living outside of a location for less and other opportunities. What city you will feel the most at home in? If you are not satisfied with your options, try a different job title or location, you’re not a tree. Scope out all of your alternatives and find one that betters your lifestyle in the long run.

Top 7 Money Mistakes For Young Professionals

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

 

Resources

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/05/10/cost-of-living-value-of-dollar-in-every-state/34567549/

https://ask.metafilter.com/37074/Why-is-it-more-expensive-to-live-in-a-city 

https://www.priceoftravel.com/595/public-transportation-prices-in-80-worldwide-cities/

https://www.chooseenergy.com/electricity-rates-by-state/

https://www.thezebra.com/auto-insurance/average-auto-insurance/#state

https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-cost-renters-insurance#nogo

https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-cost-life-insurance#nogo

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2020-02-25
7 Great Things to Spend Your Tax Refund On

By Kat Tretina   While tax season fills most people with dread, there’s one thing everyone looks forward to — tax refunds. According to the IRS, approximately 71% of American tax filers receive a tax refund. In 2019, the average tax refund was a whopping $2,869. If you’re like many people, that may be the biggest lump sum you’ll see all year – so it’s important to use it wisely.   

7 Best things to spend your tax refund on

During tax season, retailers compete for your business. You’re bombarded with advertisements and sales trying to get you to spend your newfound money. But before parting with your hard-earned funds – it is money you worked for, after all – focus on using your tax refund on things that will improve your finances, your future financial prospects, and overall well-being.    Need inspiration? Here are seven smart ways to use your tax refund.   

1. Student loan lump sum payments

Student loan debt can be a substantial burden, causing you to put off other goals like saving for retirement, relocating to a new city, buying a home, or even getting married.    Using your tax refund to make a lump sum payment on your debt could allow you to save money on interest fees and help you pay off your loans ahead of schedule.    For example, let’s say you had $30,000 in student loan debt at 6% APR. With a minimum monthly payment, it would take you 10 years to repay your loans. And, you’d repay a total of $39,970; interest charges would cost you $9,970.    But let’s say you received $2,869 as a tax refund. If you applied the entire amount to your student loans as a lump sum payment, you’d pay off your loans 15 months early and you would repay just $37,801. By using your tax refund to make an extra payment on your debt, you would save $2,169 in interest charges.    You can make your tax refund work even harder for you by refinancing your student loans to possibly lower your interest rate. Use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator to see what you could save by refinancing your student loans.*   

2. Medical procedures

If you’re like many people, you may have put off going to the doctor or visiting a dentist because you simply couldn’t afford it. In fact, 25% of Americans reported putting off necessary medical procedures due to cost. However, skipping routine medical and dental care can cause more expensive issues later on, so it’s important to stick to a preventative care routine.    If you haven’t been to the doctor or dentist because you were short on cash, using your tax refund to take care of your health is a wise investment.   

3. Car repairs

Cars are often money pits, causing many people to skimp on routine repairs because of the expense. AAA reported that the average car repair is $500 to $600, but can often cost much more. Keeping up with your car’s maintenance and making necessary repairs can improve your car’s lifespan and fuel efficiency, helping you avoid more costly issues later on.    If you’ve been putting off any repairs or need to replace your tires, use your tax refund to finance that purchase so you can get to and from work safely.   

4. Professional development

With technology changing so quickly, it’s essential that you keep on top of the latest trends in your field so that you remain competitive in the job market. If you want to take your career to the next level, consider using your tax refund to invest in your professional development. You can attend a conference, take a class, or hire a career coach.   

5. Investments

If your finances are in otherwise good shape – meaning you don’t have high-interest debt or a pressing immediate expense – you can use your tax refund to build long-term wealth. Consider using your refund to invest your money by making contributions to your retirement accounts or an individual taxable account.    Don’t think your tax refund can make that much of a difference? Think again. Over time, your money can grow significantly.    For example, let’s say you’re 30 years old and deposit your $2,869 into an individual taxable account. If you don’t deposit another cent and your money earns an average annual return of 8%, that account will have grown to $31,374 by the time you’re 60.    If you’re not sure where to start, check out robo advisors like Betterment® or WealthFront®. They automatically invest your money based on your goals and risk tolerance, so you don’t have to be an investment expert to reap the rewards.   

6. Exercise equipment

Investing in your health and wellness is a good use for your money. Over time, it can help you save on health insurance and medical bills, too.    Consider using some or all of your tax refund to purchase exercise equipment you’ll actually use. Or, sign up for a gym membership or take a few sessions with a personal trainer to ensure you’re using the equipment correctly.   

7. A new computer

If you freelance or are thinking of starting a new side hustle, you may want to use your tax refund to purchase a new computer or software so that you can work more efficiently. With better tools, you may be able to improve your earning potential. And, you may be able to deduct the cost of a new computer or software on next year’s taxes (talk to a tax professional about your unique situation).   

How not to spend your refund

There are a lot of bad ways to spend a tax refund. But one of the worst is using it to purchase a car you can’t really afford. Unfortunately, using a tax refund to buy a new car is incredibly common.    Using your tax refund as a down payment can help you qualify for a car loan. But car values depreciate rapidly, and you could end up with a car that is too costly for your budget, or you could end up owing more than the car is worth. That issue can put you in a precarious financial position, and it’s hard to dig yourself out of debt.    If you need reliable transportation, use your tax refund to purchase an inexpensive, used car that you can comfortably afford. If you need to take out a loan, financial experts recommend that you choose a loan term no longer than 36 months; if you need a longer loan term than that to manage the loan payments, the car is likely more than you can truly afford.    There’s seven things that you should spend your tax refund on, along with one that you shouldn’t! Regardless of your situation, focus on spending your refund responsibly.    For more information, learn how to create a monthly budget.  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.    Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2020-02-18
Why Experiences are the New Measure of Wealth

By Caroline Farhat  

For the past half-century of American history, material objects have been a primary source of value to the working class of Americans. Following World War II, many Americans dreamt of owning a suburban home, driving a car, and joining in on the baby boom. The U.S. saw significant expansion through the 40s and 50s, gross national product rose dramatically, as did personal expenditures on things. By the end of the 50s, the majority of families owned a television, a car, and a home. By 1960, blue-collar workers became avid buyers, enjoying more disposable income through the 1970s.

 

Today is a different story. A study found 74% of Americans value experiences over things. The reason for this shift in ideology can be tied to a number of things, such as younger adults having watched the effects of the 2008 recession and, as a result, feel less of a need to be tied to material objects. This is leading to many millennials skipping the mall to attend music festivals, skipping homeownership to live in the city, and putting off having children for added freedom. Rather than defining wealth by what they have, many young adults are measuring wealth by what they can experience.

 

Typical Measure of Wealth

Wealth is typically measured by calculating a person’s net worth. This is calculated as assets - liabilities = net worth. Assets can include homes, cash, retirement accounts, and stocks. Liabilities can include all debts such as student loans, auto loans, and mortgages. Take a look at this example to calculate net worth: 

  • If a person owns a home valued at $500,000, a car valued at $22,000, they have $15,000 saved in a bank account and $33,000 saved in a retirement account, they would have a total of $570,000 in assets.
  • If there is a mortgage on the home for $200,000 and a car loan for $5,000 and student loan debt of $30,000, this person would have liabilities totaling $235,000.
  • This person’s net worth would be $570,000 - $235,000 = $335,000.

The net worth that is considered “wealthy” is subjective, however, a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve in 2017 found that the median net worth of families was just $97,300. Calculating net worth allows a person to see numerically how much wealth they have, but it is not the only way people define wealth. 

 

Why Millennials Value Experiences

Calculating net worth may be considered an old measure of wealth by millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996), but why?

 

To begin with, millennials value relationships with others more than material objects. The benefit of being able to experience things with their friends and significant others seems to outweigh the benefit of accumulating wealth.

 

While millennials do seem to understand the value of saving money, they also understand the need for work-life balance. A study conducted by Deloitte found 57% of millennials say traveling is their top aspiration. This supports the notion that being able to enjoy life and experiences is a measure of wealth to millennials. This supports the notion that being able to enjoy life and experiences is a measure of wealth to millennials.

 

Another reason for the shift in measuring wealth is millennials are facing financial struggles that previous generations did not experience. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, more millennials have student loan debt compared to previous generations, and the amount of student loan debt they have is also greater. If you are dealing with student loan debt and high monthly payments, you may feel you are not able to purchase a home, start a family, or build the traditional standard of wealth. But even with a low net worth, millennials can partake in great experiences that add value to their life and make them feel wealthy. 

 

Options to Build Your Wealth

If you have student loan debt, whether federal or private student loans, you may be feeling you will never be able to grow your net worth or have the life experiences you want – but that is not the reality. Student loans do not have to hinder you from growing your wealth. Check out these options to build your wealth:

  • Start a side hustle. Earning extra money outside of your day job allows you the freedom to use the money how you want. It doesn’t have to pay the bills, it’s extra money that you can use to travel or put away for retirement. Plus your side hustle may lead you to passions and causes that are important to you which only further enhances your life!
  • Refinance your student loans. When you refinance your student loan you may be able to lower your monthly payment and save interest over the life of the loan. The extra money you have monthly could go towards experiences to enrich your life and extra savings in the bank for emergencies. How much savings can you expect a month? Check out our student loan refinance calculator on our site to get an estimate of your savings.* Student loan refinancing is easy with the right lender. With ELFI you never pay an application fee or origination fee. You also receive a personal loan advisor who guides you through the process of refinancing.
  • Create a zero-based budget. What if you were told to “spend” all of your income each month?  This might sound crazy at first, but many financial experts regard this method as the most effective one out there. The concept of zero-based budgeting is that your monthly income minus your expenses should equal zero. The idea is that each dime you make should have a “job” and fall into a certain category in your budget. For example, if your take-home pay is $5,000, you have exactly $5,000 to spend, save, or invest. This can help you take control of your finances and ensure every dollar is put to good use.
  • Use an effective debt-payoff strategy. Using the debt snowball or debt avalanche method of paying off debt can make payoff simpler and more effective. The debt snowball involves paying off debts with the lowest balances first, then moving onto the next smallest balance. The debt avalanche method involves paying off the largest debt first, then moving on to the next largest balance. Both strategies have their pros and cons, but both will also lead to a debt-free life.
 

Bottom Line

Wealth is more than just the possessions you own or the car you drive. Experiencing a full life with great relationships and experiences can lead to happiness overall. By getting a handle on your student loans not only will your typical financial wealth increase, but so can your experiences in life. No matter how you measure wealth, you can achieve it while paying your student loans!

 
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2020-02-14
We’re In Love with These 7 ELFI Customer Reviews

Whether you're spending time with the girls for 'Galentine's Day' or spending the holiday with that special someone, today is a day to share some love with those you care about!   At ELFI, we show our love to our customers through top-notch customer service paired with low rates and flexible terms for refinancing their student loans – and sometimes they show us love back through great TrustPilot reviews. In light of Valentine's Day, we're sharing 7 ELFI customer reviews that we're simply in love with!  

All reviews below were given by real Education Loan Finance customers on TrustPilot. Results may vary.

 

Review #1:

“Loved the personal loan advisor experience … When she called me and left me a voicemail, she sounded like a friend, not a scary loan robot, and it really put me at ease through the process.”
No one likes a scary loan robot! It's great to see that our personal loan advisors help put our customers at ease through the refinancing process by giving them guidance, answering questions, and keeping them informed of updates along the way!    

Review #2:

"I wish I'd done this sooner! The refinance process was fairly straightforward and easy to manage, and having the added benefit of a loan advisor was super helpful. The rates are competitive and they have plenty of options for every person."
We hear "I wish I'd done this sooner" pretty often from customers, but it's always nice to see how happy they are once they've made the decision to refinance. If you still have a significant amount of student loan debt, it's probably not too late to refinance!  

Review #3:

"Promote this woman!! Candace was so knowledgeable, prompt, and helpful during every step of the process- made the experience seamless."
So much enthusiasm from this customer! They don't need to worry – we take great pride in the service given by our personal loan advisors and we love
showing people how great they are. They truly do make the refinancing process as seamless as possible.  

Review #4:

"Did not expect to be assigned to an actual representative so good on elfi for that.. Further.. I can tell that Ivan knows what he's doing. He's professional, with prompt responses. It's one thing to put a representative in place, but another for that person to actually provide value. Sometimes with companies, you don't even know who to contact to begin with, let alone, the company reaching out to you first, with a representative who's coherent and professional."
This means so much to us! We aimed to reshape the student loan refinancing industry by offering every customer with a single personal loan advisor that can understand their situation and guide them through the process... Receiving reviews like this truly make us blush because it shows that our process works!  

Review #5:

"Andrea was incredibly helpful! It was nice to have someone take the time to answer all of my questions, provide explanations and keep me apprised of next steps. Refinancing was a breeze...thanks ELFI and Andrea!"
Kudos to Andrea for making refinancing a simple process for this customer! Regardless of your lender, there are always going to be several steps involved in the refinancing process – but having someone there to show you the path ahead really makes it a breeze.  

Review #6:

"Great rates and very helpful customer service. Didier walked me through the process and made it very easy to me to get my loans set up quickly and painlessly. I highly recommend ELFI to anyone looking to refinance their student loans. I compared payment options to several other companies, and Education Loan Finance by far had the best options. I was able to reduce my monthly payments and now I will be paying off my loans in 7 years, rather than 10. Five stars!"
This customer cut three years off of their repayment term by refinancing with ELFI, and they sure seemed happy about it!  

Review #7:

"I’ve been afraid to refinance for years. ELFI was rated well on NerdWallet so I decided to apply. They actually made it easy to understand what I needed to refinance, how the process works etc. I also had someone assigned to help me and answer any questions. I’m so happy to have my loan with a company designed for the modern age who is actually transparent and helpful."
Shucks! This customer was putting off refinancing for years, and we couldn't be happier to be their refi match made in heaven. Our transparent process and personalized customer service really made the difference here!     What else can we say? We love our customers, and these reviews show us that the feeling is mutual. Our average TrustPilot rating currently stands at 4.9/5 stars, with over 800 reviews! Don't just take our word for it – check our all of our reviews here.   Interested in finding your student loan refinancing match in ELFI? Our personal loan advisors are just a call, text, or email away. One of our PLAs will be dedicated to you from the moment you apply and will work with you each step of the way to ensure your ELFI refinanced loan is the optimal fit for you. Contact us to get started!*   Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day from ELFI!  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.