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The last thing anyone wants to do right now is reflect on this year.
It was dreadful. Letâs move on.
Before you do, though, itâs a good idea to take stock of how your finances may have changed during the last 12 months and make any needed adjustments.
Here are five areas of your finances to check on so you donât get any unpleasant surprises in 2021.
If youâve been taking advantage of student loan forbearance since March â when all payments and interest on federally held student loans were suspended â itâs time to resurrect those payments.
Forbearance ends Jan. 31, 2021, at which point you start owing and accruing interest on your student loans. Donât delay reaching out to your student loan servicer.
If youâre on the standard repayment plan and are unable to make the payments, apply for an income-driven repayment plan, which could substantially reduce your monthly payments when the forbearance period ends. If youâre already on an income-driven plan, update your income to modify your monthly payment.
Donât let the ghost of credit card purchases past haunt you in 2021.
If you want to start putting a dent in your credit card debt, we have plenty of options, including debt avalanche, debt snowball, debt snowflake and debt lasso methods.
However, if youâre having problems making payments, you should reach out to your lender to ask them about assistance or hardship programs.
Start by looking for a customer service number on a copy of your bill for your mortgage, credit card, auto loan or other loan. When you call, have your account number and a clear explanation about why you will be unable to pay the bill. Be sure to ask about all your options as well as how your payments, balance, interest rate and credit score could be affected.
Early Retirement Withdrawals
If you took a CARES Act withdrawal from your retirement account, you wonât owe the 10% penalty youâd usually owe on an early distribution before age 59 Â½. Be prepared for the tax bill, though.
Normally, youâd owe income taxes on the entire withdrawal when you file your return for the year, but the CARES Act lets you spread the bill over three years. That means you need to be ready to pay one-third of the taxes by April 15, 2021.
If you received unemployment compensation in 2020, you may be in for a shocker. Your unemployment benefits are taxable, but more than one-third of Americans didnât know it.
If you didnât have taxes withheld from your jobless benefits, make sure you file a 2020 tax return even if you canât afford the bill. You can work out a payment plan with the IRS, and you may even qualify for certain tax credits that can offset the amount you owe.
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The IRS says employers that stopped withholding payroll taxes for the last four months of 2020, as ordered by President Trump, will have to collect those taxes during the first four months of 2021. That means if youâve been getting a bigger paycheck as a result of the temporary tax holiday, start preparing for a smaller paycheck now.
Make a bare-bones budget, and set aside any extra money you can so youâll be ready to live on less.
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.
Manufacturing has a special place in the American story, but for the past few decades, this sector has been largely on the decline, impacting many workers and affecting decisions around things like budgeting and where they call home. Since 1997, more than 91,000 manufacturing plants have closed and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, according to a 2020 study from the Economic Policy Center. Still, there are jobs to be had and careers to be built in the world of manufacturing in the U.S., provided you are looking in the right places. To that end, SmartAsset analyzed various data to find the best places to work in manufacturing in 2020.
To find the best places to work in manufacturing, we compared 378 metro areas across the following metrics: manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce, job and income growth between 2015 and 2018, job and income growth between 2017 and 2018, housing costs as a percentage of income and unemployment. 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 fifth study on the best places to work in manufacturing. Read the 2019 version here.
- About one in 10 U.S. jobs is in manufacturing. Manufacturing represents 11.39% of jobs on average across all 378 metro areas we analyzed in our study. The metropolitan area where manufacturing makes up the highest percentage of jobs is Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana, where 57.45% of all jobs are in the manufacturing sector. The area where this rate is lowest is Laredo, Texas, where just 0.84% of the workforce is in manufacturing.
- In recent years, manufacturing income has grown faster than jobs in the industry. From 2015 to 2018, the average number of manufacturing jobs has grown by just 3.66%, while the average income for manufacturing workers has grown by 6.44%.
1. St. Joseph, MO-KS
The St. Joseph metropolitan area, located in both Missouri and Kansas, has 24.74% of its workforce in manufacturing, the 18th-highest rate in this study. Itâs also a place where jobs are fairly easy to come by: The unemployment rate in October 2020 was just 3.1%, 16th-lowest across all 378 areas we studied. St. Joseph scores lower in terms of income growth between 2015 and 2018 â though still within the top half of the study â coming in 145th for this metric, at 7.61%.
2. Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN
In the Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana metro area, home to Purdue University, around 25.23% of the workforce consists of manufacturing workers, the 16th-highest rate for this metric in the study. Income growth between 2017 and 2018 was especially high here, at 16.64%, seventh-highest of the 378 metro areas we analyzed. This seems to be a recent development, though, as income growth between 2015 and 2018 was not as robust at 8.73%, ranking in the top third of the study at 126th.
3. Hinesville, GA
Hinesville, Georgia saw manufacturing job growth of 27.50% between 2017 and 2018, the third-highest increase for this metric in the study. It also finished 38th in terms of job growth between 2015 and 2018, at a total of 14.50%. In this metro area, 17.81% of the workforce is in manufacturing, placing this coastal community 59th in the study for this metric, a top quartile finish.
4. Decatur, IL
Decatur, Illinois, in the central part of the Land of Lincoln, saw income for manufacturing jobs increase by 33.08% between 2015 and 2018, the fourth-highest increase in the study for this metric. The one-year increase in manufacturing job income between 2017 and 2018 was 12.88%, the 10th-highest bump in the study. Decatur is also a fairly affordable place to live, as housing costs represent just 10.81% of income on average, the fifth-lowest rate for this metric across all 378 metro areas in the study.
5. Spartanburg, SC
In Spartanburg, South Carolina, manufacturing jobs represent 25.05% of the entire workforce, the 17th-highest percentage for this metric overall. Spartanburg also ranks in the top 20 for both job-growth metrics: It comes in 15th for job growth between 2017 and 2018 (11.45%) and 18th for job growth between 2015 and 2018 (18.98%).
6. Fond du Lac, WI
In Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, 20.98% of the workforce holds jobs in manufacturing, the 30th-highest percentage we saw in the study for this metric. The unemployment rate in Fond du Lac for October 2020 was 3.7%, the 32nd-lowest rate on this list. The Fond du Lac metro area ranks toward the middle of the study in terms of housing costs as a percentage of income, placing 155th at 19.29%.
7. Columbus, IN
Manufacturing employees constitute 27.78% of the workforce in the Columbus, Indiana metro area, the 10th-highest rate for this metric in the study. From 2017 to 2018, the manufacturing job base grew just 1.67%, ranking 177th of 378 overall. The metro area also ranks toward the middle of the study in terms of housing costs as a percentage of income, ranking 160th with housing costs at 19.37% of income on average.
8. Rome, GA
Between 2017 and 2018, income for manufacturing workers actually went down 0.09% in the Rome, Georgia metro area, placing the locale in the bottom quarter of the study for this metric. However, the job market there is fairly strong right now: The unemployment rate in October 2020 was just 3.7%, 32nd-lowest overall. The Rome metro area is also a fairly robust town for manufacturing job opportunities, with 17.98% of jobs being in manufacturing, the 57th-highest rate we analyzed for this metric and a top-quartile result.
9. Appleton, WI
The workforce in the Appleton, Wisconsin metro area is 20.08% manufacturing employees, the 37th-highest rate of the 378 areas we studied. It also ranks strongly for long-term income growth, with pay for manufacturing jobs increasing 16.33% between 2015 and 2018, the 34th-largest leap we analyzed. Appletonâs job growth over the same time period is strong but not quite as robust, placing 102nd overall, at 8.63%.
10. Staunton-Waynesboro, VA
The final entry on this list is the Staunton-Waynesboro, Virginia metropolitan area. The metro area saw manufacturing jobs decrease by 0.32% between 2017 and 2018, ranking 256th overall for this metric. However, it performs well in terms of income growth between 2017 and 2018, for which it places 23rd of 378, at 9.97%. The Staunton metro area also ranks well for job growth between 2015 and 2018, with a 15.26% jump that places it 34th in the study for this metric.
Data and Methodology
To find the best places to work in manufacturing, we compared 378 metropolitan areas across the following metrics:
- Manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce. This is the percentage of all workers employed by manufacturing firms. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Three-year job growth. This is the percentage change in the number of people employed by manufacturing firms from 2015 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2015 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureauâs 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
- One-year job growth. This is the percentage change in the number of people employed by manufacturing firms from 2017 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2017 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureauâs 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Three-year income growth. This is the percentage change in manufacturing workersâ average incomes from 2015 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2015 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureauâs 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
- One-year income growth. This is the percentage change in manufacturing workersâ average incomes from 2017 to 2018. Data comes from the Census Bureauâs 2017 County Business Patterns Survey and Census Bureauâs 2018 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Housing costs as a percentage of average income for manufacturing workers. Data on median housing costs comes from the Census Bureauâs 2019 1-year American Community Survey. Data on the average income for manufacturing workers comes from the Census Bureauâs 2017 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Unemployment rate. Numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for October 2020. This rate incorporates all professions, not just manufacturing-specific ones.
First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. From there, we found the average ranking for each metro area, giving an equal weight to all metrics except for manufacturing as a percentage of the workforce, which we double-weighted. We then ranked the areas based on this average ranking. The metro area with the best average ranking received an index score of 100 and the metro area with the worst average ranking received an index score of 0.
Tips for Manufacturing a Solid Financial Strategy
- Find an expert who will help you build a financial plan. Whether you work in manufacturing or some other industry, a financial advisor can help you make the most of your income and other 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.
- To buy or to rent? If youâre moving to a new city to work in a manufacturing job, youâll need to find a place to live. Use SmartAssetâs free calculator to see whether it makes sense to buy or rent.
- Work hard; save hard. Chances are, you donât want to be in the workforce at your manufacturing job for your entire life; eventually, youâd like to retire. If your company offers a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), make sure to take advantage of it, as it is the easiest option for saving for retirement.
Questions about our study? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/shironosov
The post Best Places to Work in Manufacturing â 2020 Edition appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
We are in the midst of a major economic shift. While workers in the past could expect to keep a stable job with a traditional employer for decades, workers of today have found they must either cobble together a career from a variety of gigs, or supplement a lackluster salary from a traditional job by doing freelance work in their spare time.
Though you can make a living (and possibly even a good one) in the gig economy, this kind of work does leave gig workers vulnerable in one very important way: retirement planning.
Without the backing of an employer-sponsored retirement account, many gig workers are not saving enough for their golden years. According to a recent report by Betterment, seven out of 10 full-time gig workers say they are unprepared to maintain their current lifestyle during retirement, while three out of 10 say they don’t regularly set aside any money for retirement.
So what’s a gig worker to do if they don’t want to be driving for Uber and taking TaskRabbit jobs into their 70s and 80s? Here are five things you can do to save for retirement as a member of the gig economy. (See also: 15 Lucrative Side Hustles for City Dwellers)
1. Take stock of what you have
Many people don’t have a clear idea of how much money they have. And it’s impossible to plan your retirement if you don’t know where you are today. So any retirement savings should start with a look at what you already have in the accounts in your name.
Add up how much is in your checking and savings accounts, any neglected retirement accounts you may have picked up from previous traditional jobs, cash on hand if your gig work relies on cash tips, or any other financial accounts. The sum total could add up to more than you realize if you haven’t recently taken stock of where you are.
Even if you truly have nothing more than pocket lint and a couple quarters to your name, it’s better to know where you are than proceed without a clear picture of your financial reality. (See also: These 13 Numbers Are Crucial to Understanding Your Finances)
2. Open an IRA
If you don’t already have a retirement account that you can contribute to, then you need to set one up ASAP. You can’t save for retirement if you don’t have an account to put money in.
IRAs are specifically created for individual investors and you can easily get started with one online. If you have money from a 401(k) to roll over, you have more options available to you, as some IRAs have a minimum investment amount (typically $1,000). If you have less than that to open your account, you may want to choose a Roth IRA, since those often have no minimums.
The difference between the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA is how taxes are levied. With a traditional IRA, you can fund the account with pre-tax income. In other words, every dollar you put in an IRA is a dollar you do not have to claim as income. However, you will have to pay ordinary income tax on your IRA distributions once you reach retirement. Roth IRAs are funded with money that has already been taxed, so you can take distributions tax-free in retirement.
Many gig workers choose a Roth IRA because their current tax burden is low. If you anticipate earning more over the course of your career, using a Roth IRA for retirement investments can protect you from the taxman in retirement.
Whether you choose a Roth or a traditional IRA, the contribution limit per year, as of 2018, is $5,500 for workers under 50, and $6,500 for anyone who is 50+.
3. Avoid the bite of investment fees
While no investor wants to lose portfolio growth to fees, it’s especially important for gig workers to choose asset allocations that will minimize investment fees. That’s because gig workers are likely to have less money to invest, so every dollar needs to be working hard for them.
Investing in index funds is one good way to make sure investment fees don’t suck the life out of your retirement account. Index funds are mutual funds that are constructed to mimic a specific market index, like the S&P 500. Since there is no portfolio manager who is choosing investments, there is no management fee for index funds. (See also: How to Start Investing With Just $100)
4. Embrace automation
One of the toughest challenges of being a gig worker is the fact that your income is variable — which makes it very difficult to plan on contributing the same amount each month. This is where technology comes in.
To start, set up an automatic transfer of an amount of money you will not miss. Whether you can spare $50 per week or $5 per month, having a small amount of money quietly moving into your IRA gives you a little cushion that you don’t have to think about.
From there, consider using a savings app to handle retirement savings for you. For instance, Digit will analyze your checking account’s inflow and outflow, and will determine an amount that is safe to save without triggering an overdraft, and automatically move that amount into a savings account. You can then transfer your Digit savings into your retirement account.
5. Invest found money
An excellent way to make sure you’re maxing out your contributions each year is to change your view of "found money." For instance, if you receive a birthday check from your grandmother, only spend half of it and put the rest in your retirement account. Similarly, if you receive a tax refund (which is a little less likely if you’re a gig worker paying quarterly estimated taxes), send at least half of the refund toward your retirement.
Any gig workers who often receive cash can also make their own rules about the cash they receive. For instance, you could decide that every $5 bill you get has to go into retirement savings. That will help you change your view of the money and give you a way to boost your retirement savings.
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The Wall Street Journal lists 15 important numbers that everyone should know to make better financial decisions. Here they are, broken down by category.
The post 15 Numbers You Need To Know To Make Smart Financial Decisions appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright Â© Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.