The Best Credit Cards For Grocery Shopping In 2020

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As the corona-virus pandemic has put a halt on restaurant dining, Americans have found themselves cooking at home more and in turn, spending more money on grocery shopping. When increasing your spend in a certain category, it’s important to think about how you can maximize these purchases and your budget by building rewards. You may want to consider a rewards credit card that can help you earn over $100 a year on your groceries. 

We read an interesting article from CNBC select that discussed the best credit cards to apply for if your grocery spending has increased or is a large chunk of your monthly budget. The average American spends about $5,174 a year, or roughly $431 a month, on groceries, according to a sample budget based on the latest spending data available from the location intelligence firm Esri. That’s more than Americans spend on dining out, which comes to about $3,675 annually. 

The best grocery rewards cards offer up to 6% cash back at supermarkets. While they usually exclude wholesale clubs such as Costco and BJ’s, and big box stores like Target and Walmart, you can still take advantage of these rates at Whole Foods, Krogers and other big name grocers.

CNBC Select analyzed 26 popular rewards cards using an average American’s annual budget and digging into each card’s perks and drawbacks to find the best grocery store rewards cards based on your spending habits. 

Here are CNBC Select’s top picks for credit cards offering supermarket rewards

If you find that your grocery bill takes up a large portion of your monthly budget, take a look at these credit cards, to see if you could capitalize on your spending. Additionally, no matter where you spend the majority of your money, whether it’s travel or dining, make sure you look into credit cards that are the best fit for you. If you have any questions on your portfolio or credit cards to maximize your spending, please reach out to us at info@shermanwealth.com

Here’s How The Pandemic Has Upended The Financial Lives Of Average Americans: CNBC + Acorns Survey

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The coronavirus pandemic has upended many Americans’ financial lives. While millions are unemployed and sufferings, there is actually more positive financial data than you would think. 

According to CNBC and an Acorns Survey, many are saving more and spending less. In fact, 46% of the respondents said they are “more of a saver now” compared to before the pandemic. Additionally, 60% consider themselves “savers,” up from 54% last year. The poll, conducted by SurveyMonkey Aug. 13-20, surveyed 5,401 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of +/-2%.

 

About half, or 49%, said their monthly spending has decreased, compared to 33% last year. Some of those savings can be attributed to the fact that people stayed home and didn’t do things like dining out, said personal finance expert Jean Chatzky, co-founder of HerMoney.

While many have been struggling these last few months, others have picked up on some financial skills, learning how to save dollars here and there, cutting out old subscriptions, and being smarter spenders. By prioritizing wants versus needs and taking a look at how much money is going out each month, people have picked up better spending habits that will help them navigate these bumpy waters ahead. 

With extra cash and savings in the bank, it’s important to talk with an advisor about options and investing that makes the most sense for you, whether it be saving for retirement, college tuition, or something else. If you have any questions for us, please reach out at info@shermanwealth.com and we would be happy to set up a time to discuss a financial plan for your future.

 

Here’s The Importance of Financial Literacy

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Sherman Wealth has long been advocates of promoting financial literacy and empowering our world to become more educated on how to manage all aspects of their financial lives. We want to highlight an interesting article we saw on www.evidenceinvestor.com, discussing several reasons why “high flying professionals fail at investing”. This piece highlights the lack of financial literacy in our country, regardless of occupation or socio-economic upbringing. According to the article, “the best investors often times aren’t those with the highest IQs or who’ve read the most books, it isn’t knowledge, but SELF-knowledge, that really sets them apart.” 

Often, high-earning professionals think they are saving enough but countless financial complexities exist within a professional services career track. Biases or mental errors are some of the biggest things standing in the way of financial success, mainly because they’re not easy to recognize in ourselves. Additionally, people are naturally resistant to change and most people are hesitant to pay small costs even for big gains. 

Failure to rebalance is also something that many people struggle with and contributes to financial literacy. People are reluctant to take action to rebalance a portfolio. It’s too much fun to let winners run. It’s also psychologically difficult to sell winners to buy losers. But failure to rebalance quickly causes the client to be dangerously exposed to a downward turn in the markets

People also tend to overestimate the significance of recent events and irrationally discount longer-term trends. Those of us over a certain age remember Black Monday on October 19th, 1987. The stock market lost a quarter of its value in a single day. That spooked a lot of people – and many got out of the market right after. Looking back at it now, Black Monday barely registers as a blip on the graph. This is an example of recency bias. Recent losses play havoc on our emotions and cause us to lose perspective. The long-term trend of the stock market makes any single day’s volatility look insignificant in comparison, so when we look back at a single day like Black Monday on a chart, we wonder how we could have panicked. Furthermore, given the current climate with COVID-19, it’s important to consider this idea, as people may have panicked back in March, selling assets in their portfolio, instead of holding onto them as the economy recovers. While it often seems natural to panic during an economic downturn, it’s important to remember that these dips recover naturally over time. 

These are just a few examples of how society and perception can lead us to make poor financial decisions. Given the current climate we are living in today, it is crucial to make sure you fully understand the decisions you make within your portfolio and that they are long-term, strategic moves. With a lack of financial literacy amongst all career fields and economic classes in our society, we realize the importance of being financially educated and would love to help you to make smarter decisions. If you have any questions or would like to set up a time to talk about your finances, please feel free to reach out at info@shermanwealth.com. Check out more of our blogs that discuss the importance of financial literacy.

How Much Longer Until The US Economy Is Back To Normal? This New Index Shows We Have A Long Way To Go

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As we approach the six month mark from when COVID-19 turned our world upside down, we are beginning to adjust our lives to this new “normal”. As we continue to adapt to this different way of life, some things are seeming back to the way they were before, but much remains new and strange. We are going about our days wearing masks and social distancing, watching our favorite sports teams play in “bubbles”, empty stadiums and arenas, and spending our work day in sweats and from the comfort of our homes. 

As we begin to normalize some of these news ways of living, it raises the question of how far we really are from our old way of life? How much progress are we making towards this new “normal” that will be our future? As of right now, we’re seeing what’s called a “K” shape recovery, which is that the stock market is recovered, but the economy and mainstreet remains suffering. People are wondering if there will be a double dip recession potentially in the fall and winter months if the virus comes back. 

We’ve been thinking about how to tackle these difficult and unknown questions and found an interesting article by CNN Business and Moody’s Analytics, which raises some of these questions as they relate to the economy.

According to their analytics team, the U.S. economy remains far from normal. Based on the back-to-normal Index that they constructed, which takes into account 37 indicators, including traditional government stats and metrics from a host of private firms to capture economic trends in real time, the U.S. economy was operating at only 78% of normal as of August 19th. They are using the economic data from prior to when the pandemic struck in early March as a baseline as “normal”. They are saying that the “economic activity nationwide is down by almost one-fourth from its pre-pandemic level-far from normal”. 

Even though that data is not so promising, it’s important to note that it is substantially better than the darkest days of the pandemic in mid-April, when we were unsure of how dangerous this virus could be. As business re-opened between mid-April and mid-June, according to their back-to-normal index, the economy opened too quickly, with many surges in coronavirus cases throughout the summer leading to states halting their reopening plans. 

While our country is recovering slowly but surely from this deadly pandemic that has swept our world, we still have ways to go to reach our pre-pandemic “normal”. While the economy still needs time to recover, it’s the best time to think about your finances and how to manage your money to make sure you come out of these unprecedented times strong. Find out how much risk you are taking on, what investments you have and where you want to be given the circumstances and with the all time highs in the markets. If you have any questions about your portfolio or ways you can manage your money during these rocky times, please reach out to us and we’d be happy to help. 

Financial Literacy More Important to Americans Than Health and Wellness

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As we’ve mentioned previously, financial literacy is a skill that is lacking in our education system and amongst individuals across the country. A recent survey by Charles Schwab discusses the importance of financial literacy to Americans and how it should take precedence over health and wellness. 

According to the survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for basic personal finance and money management skills. Nearly 63% of U.S. adults said financial education was the most important supplementary graduation requirement to Math, English, and Science. That’s comparable with 43% of individuals who said health and wellness was more important. 

History shows that everytime our country faces a detrimental crisis, “the need for greater financial literacy becomes more apparent,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation.

The following data was collected to support the need for financial education within our schooling system and within our country. 

Nearly nine in 10 Americans (89%) said a lack of financial education contributes to some of the country’s social issues, including poverty (58%), lack of job opportunities (53%), unemployment (53%) and wealth inequality (52%).

They survey found half of respondents would be hard-pressed to cover a $1,000 or less emergency expense in the next month if they had to. Financial education stresses the importance of saving and building up an emergency fund. 

Many respondents indicated that they wished they had been taught financial skills when they were younger, including the value of saving money (59%), basic money management (52%) and how to set financial goals and work toward them (51%). Due to this lack of financial education, so many individuals are lost when it comes to how much they should be saving, where they should save, where they should invest and more. 

Sherman Wealth has long been a strong advocate of increasing financial literacy in our country and encouraging our youth to educate themselves early on in their lives. A thorough financial education is now more important than ever. Learning the proper way to manage money and set yourself up for financial success will ensure you are prepared at all times, even during an economic crisis, such as a pandemic. 

Many schools across the country are realizing the importance of beginning a financial education at an early age. Studies show that having state-required classes can have a significant impact on students’ money moves in the future. Forty-five states now include personal finance education in their curriculum standards for kindergarten through 12 grades. In addition to programs in schools, Wall Street Bound is an organization that provides urban youth with financial, educational, and technical resources to get them closer to Wall Street. If you are passionate about spreading awareness about financial literacy, you can support Wall Street Bound with a donation.  As always, Sherman Wealth is here to answer any questions you may have and most importantly, happy to help educate you and those around you on what money means and how you should make financial literacy a priority.

Millennials Slammed by Second Financial Crisis Fall Even Further Behind

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If one economic recession wasn’t enough for millennials to grapple with, why not throw another their way? 

The economic hit of the coronavirus pandemic is looking pretty bad to millennials. We’ve been reading many articles discussing how unemployment seems to be looking the worst for their generation in contract to others. 

The 12.5% unemployment rate among millennials is higher than that of Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), and baby boomers (1946 to 1964), according to May figures from the Pew Research Center

Millennials have found it fundamentally more difficult to start a career  and find jobs in comparison to other generations who are now married and have children. Research shows that even the most educated millennials are employed at lower rates than older college graduates and millennials’ tendency to work at lower-paying firms has caused them to lag behind in earnings.

As a result, the millennial generation has less wealth than their predecessors had at the same age, and about one-quarter of millennial households have more debt than assets, according to the St. Louis Fed. 

Between February and May, millennials got hit the hardest in terms of unemployment, according to the chart below by St. Louis Fed. Millennials are now at risk of falling further behind because they entered the pandemic in a weaker position than older Americans. 

For millennials who have been impacted by this second economic recession, it is important to take a step back and start re-evaluating their careers and financial lives. It is also crucial to start early, set up a plan, and stick to it to see it through in the long run. Building up your wealth is crucial, especially while you are stuck at home during the pandemic and economic recession. Putting aside even just a little bit of money each week or month will grow over time due to compound interest.  Think about investing some of the money you might have spent on going to the movies or out to eat or having some of your paycheck put directly into a different account that is solely for saving.  However, make sure you still treat yourself to a morning latte or favorite takeout from time to time – you CAN save for your future without sacrificing all the little extra things that make you happy.  

 Now is the time for millennials to consider seeking financial help and guidance to navigate these bumpy waters and prepare a plan to help them succeed financially in the long term. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out and we would be happy to help create a financial plan to suit your individual needs. 

How Much Does it Take to Be Wealthy?

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The coronavirus pandemic has certainly shaken almost every aspect of the lives of Americans.  The stay at home orders, high unemployment rate and volatile market have many people thinking differently about the value of their money than they did before COVID-19 erupted in the country.

A survey conducted by Charles Schwab in January of 2020 regarding financial stability asked participants what it took to be financially comfortable, and survey participants cited an average of $934,000 in net worth. This number shifted down by 30% in June, to $655,000.

What is considered to be wealthy changed exponentially as well.  Respondents stated that $2 million in net worth today is considered wealthy, down by 23% from $2.6 million in January. In 2019, respondents said it took $2.3 million to be wealthy, down slightly from $2.4 million in the two prior years.

Americans’ attitudes about money play a role in their overall happiness, but when asked about the most important factor to their overall happiness today, survey respondents regarded those drivers in the same order as before the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Relationships – 39%
  • Health – 27%
  • Money – 17%
  • Lifestyle – 14%
  • Career – 3%

After months of stay-at-home orders and a change of lifestyle, the coronavirus pandemic has vastly impacted the way we think about the value of money. 57% percent of respondents said the coronavirus has financially affected them or a close family member.

At the same time, many respondents mentioned that they are more likely to start saving in general than they did before the pandemics onset. The need for an emergency fund is now more important to many than ever before.  Others said they are much more likely to consider hiring a financial advisor to set up a strong financial plan. 

If the coronavirus pandemic has impacted your finances or you are uncertain about your financial plan, please reach out and we would be happy to help you find a plan that works for you. If you have any questions, contact us at info@shermanwealth.com and we will answer any questions you might have. 

Here’s How to Prepare your Finances

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With the additional $600 per week unemployment benefits coming to an end this week, it is important to think about the ways in which you can prepare your finances for the months ahead. Many Americans are currently jobless and have been relying on these additional COVID-19 related unemployment benefits. There is much uncertainty as we navigate through the pandemic the best we can, but there is great value in coming up with a plan to start saving and getting your finances in order as your benefits may decrease in the coming months. 

Here are some key ways to be prepared for your future and what you should expect as any additional unemployment relief comes to an end. 

Adjust your Budget 

A great place to start in uncertain times is with your budget. Sit down and attempt to cut out all unnecessary expenses along with looking into other options that may be cheaper. It’s important to think of all your essential monthly costs and see where you can save a buck or two. For example, take a look at your housing, food, utilities, and car payments to see if there are places you can cut down. Also make sure to take a look at bank and credit card statements to cut out those annoying hidden fees or unnecessary charges such as ATM fees. Also, think about selling items you may not use anymore for some extra cash. 

Contact your Creditors 

If you have not already called your creditors, you should consider reaching out to them and discussing your options moving forward. If you are only able to pay the minimum payment on your credit card bill, make sure to let your creditors know so they can figure out a plan and help you out. Many creditors may be able to offer you “financial hardship assistance” so that you can keep your credit in good standing even if you can’t pay more than a certain amount each month.

Build an Emergency Fund Even if You Don’t Think You Can 

We all know it’s important to have a cash cushion, especially in times of economic crisis. However, it can be difficult to think about how to build one when you are already strapped on cash. But, it’s never too late to start saving. The first step is to start reducing any debt. You should also try to put yourself into a “saving mindset” by incrementally setting aside a small stash of cash every month. You can contact your bank to set up auto payments to your savings account each month, which will help you get consistent with your saving habits. 

Expect a Drop in Your Credit Score 

While it’s important to maintain a strong credit score, in times of financial crisis it is okay to expect a drop in your score. As mentioned above, make sure to give your creditors a call to keep them in the loop about your situation. Also, if you are unable to pay your credit card balance in full, at least pay the minimum amount to keep your credit stable. 

Understand Your Costs

When you are strapped for cash, it is important to know which bills you should be prioritizing, for example, housing payments. While the additional unemployment relief is ending, so are the eviction moratoriums. Make sure to do some research and have a conversation with your creditors, landlords, and banks to fully understand the regulations and rules associated with your payments. 

Get Creative and Seek out Resources

Our current environment is a new adjustment for everyone, so don’t be afraid to seek out help even if you never have before. Your local city and state government offer information and resources ready to help you. When the additional coronavirus unemployment relief runs out, you may be able to qualify for government programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, and HEAP, according to CNBC. There are also many charities and organizations that are doing their best to help out those in need. 

Ask your friends and family for advice and we encourage you to seek out a financial advisor for guidance and clarify on your financial situation. If you have any questions or are uncertain about the future of your financial life, we are happy to help you in any way and help you figure out your financial future. Please contact us to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

 

Recently Graduated? How to Establish A Good Credit Score

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Are you a recent college graduate? Are you starting your first job? While it’s extremely important to save money when you are first starting out, it’s also quite important to know how to spend money and understand the concepts behind your credit score and establishing good credit. 

As your first paycheck starts rolling in, make sure you are opening multiple lines of credit, including opening credit cards, putting your name on your school apartment lease, and signing your name on the comcast bill. However, when you open these lines of credit and sign your name, make sure you are paying your bills in full each month. If your roommate hasn’t paid your cable bill, make sure to stay on top of them so it doesn’t impact you down the road. However, if you have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and can’t pay the full bill, make sure you understand to pay the minimum and reach to your creditor to figure out a reasonable solution or game plan. 

Here are five important credit concepts that you should be aware of:

  1. Low credit scores can cost  you thousands 
  2. Your credit score actually measures your risk of not paying
  3. Credit repair companies charge for services that maybe you can do yourself 
  4. Your age has nothing to do with your credit score, except for how long you’ve been borrowing credit
  5. All types of companies can check your credit score

Unless you have a perfect credit score, there is always room for improvement. The bottom line is that when you are just starting out, it’s easy to overlook the small steps needed in establishing a good score. However, having a good credit score is something that should be maintained and will impact many financial decisions you are able to make in your lifetime. If you have any questions about your credit score, how to obtain credit or how to fix a bad credit score, please contact us for a free 30 minute consultation.

 

5 Ways to Manage Your Finances Under COVID-19

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Managing your finances isn’t simple. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and you might be finding yourself overwhelmed and unprepared for the future. Now is the time to self-educate and start finding ways to manage your money for both the short and long-term. 

Here are a few tips on how to manage and improve your financial situation during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

  • Focusing on building savings

 

While it is always important to invest and allow your money to compound, it is crucial to focus on building up your savings account to ensure you have a cash cushion for a rainy day, or in our case, the coronavirus pandemic. While you may be currently saving around 20-30% of your income, right now focus on investing 10% of your income towards a long-term goal, such as your retirement plan. 

 

  • Spending money on take-out/delivery, and supporting local businesses

 

As we approach the beginning of July, finally entering country-wide re-opening stages, it is still important to be supporting local businesses who have suffered a beating these last few months. Ordering takeout/delivery is a great way to mix up your daily meals and give your kitchen a break, while also stimulating the economy. 

 

  • Building a larger emergency fund

 

As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to have a cash emergency fund to be able to cover around 6 months of living expenses. No matter your job, we see how great of an impact unprecedented global events can have on our economy, so knowing you have a few dollars in your pocket is a great reassuring measure to take. 

 

  • Buying Comfort

 

As we slowly begin to reacclimate into our daily routine, it is important to put our spending into perspective. While there is nothing wrong with retail therapy, there are ways to make online shopping less expensive. Make sure to use free browser extensions to get cash back on your purchases. Also, if you always pay your full credit card balance monthly, you can use your credit card to accumulate miles and points. Lastly, remember to ask yourself if your purchase is necessary and worth it before submitting your order. 

 

  • Giving more

 

Now more than ever, it is important to give back to the community and help those who are less fortunate. If you are in a stable financial situation, remember to help those around you by directing your extra income towards donating to charities and organizations you strongly believe in. 

 

By re-evaluating your financial situation and altering the ways you use your money, you can set yourself up for long-term financial success. Consider speaking to a financial advisor before making any big changes to your current financial plan. We offer a 30-minute complimentary financial consultation for those who have questions or concerns about their personal situation and how we may be able to assist you. If you have any questions on your current situation, please contact us and we will be happy to help you!