Cardless Launches Miami Marlins Card ($250 Bonus)

New card issuer Cardless has launched a new credit card in partnership with ‘Miami Marlins‘. Card offers the following:

  • 25,000 points when you spend $2,500 within the first three months
  • No annual fee
  • Card earns at the following:
    • 5% cash back at retail and concessions at loanDepot park
    • 5x points on points on Marlins tickets
    • 3x points on dining, food delivery, gas, and drugstores
    • 1x points on all other purchases
  • Points are worth 1¢ each towards statement credit or 1.25¢ towards marlin gear

Cardless has previously launched Manchester United & Cavaliers Cards.

Hat tip to FM


Don’t wait: These credit card offers and credits expire today – The Points Guy

Don’t wait: These credit card offers and credits expire today – The Points Guy

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Can You Work and Collect Social Security? Yes, with Limits

So let’s dive into the particulars that allow you to work while you are retired and collecting Social Security. And then let’s consider some types of work you can do in retirement to bring in some extra income.
If you are not yet at full retirement age but are receiving Social Security benefits, you can make up to ,960 a year without penalty. That’s ,580 a month, or 4 a week. We get into more details later in this post of what happens when you go over that amount.

  • Is my retirement income and Social Security going to be enough for my preferred lifestyle?
  • What am I going to do with myself every day?

But get this: once you reach full retirement age, the money that was subtracted from your Social Security benefits previously are refunded to you. You never really lose those funds, they are just held from you until you reach that magic age.
According to the AARP, bookkeeping is the most popular part-time position for workers of a certain age. This makes some sense: it is not physical, requires patience, and is likely not a popular job among younger people.
The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal makes the remote-job hunt easy. Our journalists scour the web for the best gigs, vet the companies and aggregate the latest listings in one place.

How You Can Work and Collect Social Security

But Senior Centers are also one of the first places employers turn when looking for people to fill paid positions that require attendance and attention. Consider your local Senior Center as a resource for finding a position that suits your interests.

The Meaning of Retirement

If you were born after the 1959 date, your full retirement age is 67 years old. If you were born 1943 to 1952, your full retirement age is 66.
There may also be opportunity in a less structured way. If you have a friend, or a friend who has a friend, with an older family member or neighbor that needs assistance during the day, let them know you are looking for work. You can offer your services to dive them to medical appointments, make lunch or simply provide a few hours of companionship.
If you make more than that, your benefits are reduced by for every you make over the ,960.

Full Retirement Age

Safety and care are uppermost in the minds of school administrations, and they offer several positions for older people interested in part-time work.
Perhaps knowing that you may someday require healthcare assistance, it becomes attractive to offer help to those already in need. Older people are encouraged to apply for jobs as assistants to nursing homes and hospitals.
However, you can start taking Social Security benefits before 65, beginning at 62.
There is no such thing as “officially retired.” There is no legal definition, nor is there a legal designation.
Here are some suggestions of part-time jobs that can bring in some extra money. They may be more about what you want to do than what you have been doing. Check out these 13 ways to make money you might not have thought about. And more:
From cleaning parks to walking through wooded areas looking for environmental concerns (downed trees, unexpected flooding, etc.), being paid to take a walk in nature is not a bad way to spend a day.

Salary Restrictions

Every year earlier reduces the full retirement age by two months. Born in 1958, 66 years and 8 months. Born in 1957, 66 years and 6 months, and so on.
Certainly, certifications will make you more attractive as an employee, but there are jobs specifically for those people who want to help but did not originally work in healthcare and don’t have licenses or certificates.
Now that retirement is bouncing around in your mind, and you entertain the thought of giving up your day job, you ask yourself:

Your full retirement age: If you were born Jan. 2, 1959 through Jan. 1, 1960, your full retirement age for retirement insurance benefits is 66 years and 10 months.

Suggestions for Work Even Before You Reach Full Retirement Age

If you are at what Social Security deems full retirement age, you can collect and keep your full Social Security benefits and make as much money as you want.

A senior citizen woman does book keeping from home.
Getty Images

1. Indoor work

One answer responds to both questions. You can “retire,’’ collect Social Security, still work and be productive. The trick is there’s a limit to how much you can make depending on your age.
Your city or county leisure services or parks department may have work for you. If there’s a forestry department in your area, contact them.

2. Health Care

Many communities have Senior Centers that provide activities and services. Yes, there are people at Senior Centers playing bridge, canasta and chess.
The government has changed the full retirement age stipulations because people are living longer.

Pro Tip
The Social Security Administration website is clear and precise about making money while accepting benefits, but here is what you need to know:

3. Work with Children

You just decide one day you don’t want to work at the job or in the field to which you dedicated the first 30 or 40 years of your professional life. Often this coincides with your 65th birthday because that’s when you qualify for Medicare.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

A senior citizen poses for a portrait with an axe and tree behind him.
Getty Images

4. Outdoor Work

And if you’re so inclined to start your own virtual bookkeeping business you could make up to a hour.
THIS IS IMPORTANT!: If you have reached your full retirement age and you work, you may keep all of your Social Security benefits no matter how much you earn. 

5. Helping Other Seniors

While “crossing guard’’ may be the first thing that comes to mind, schools, colleges and universities need staff that can provide some level of security for special events, and older people who may have grandchildren of their own have built-in radar for the well-being of children.
There are special rules depending on whether you receive a salary or are self-employed when you are working, but they differ based on when they are counted (when you earn the money versus when you get paid). The Social Security Administration website can address those particular items for you.
As simple words go, “retirement’’ carries a lot of weight and a lot of baggage.
If you are not yet at full retirement age but are receiving Social Security benefits, you can make up to ,960 a year without penalty. That’s ,580 a month, or 4 a week.

Paul Merriman Ultimate Buy and Hold Portfolio – Guide to Asset Allocations

Paul Merriman is a financial advisor who founded an investment advisory firm in 1983 and has since retired. He became a legend in the stock market and is known as a Wall Street guru.

Even in his retirement, Merriman hosts podcasts and publishes various free educational articles on his website He’s also regularly featured on the stock market news and analysis website MarketWatch.

The strategies Merriman follows are based on sound investing principles with a focus on outpacing market averages while maintaining peace of mind through less risk.

Although Merriman has developed multiple portfolios, his most famous by far is known as the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio. Learn about this hands-off portfolio model and how you can build it for yourself.

What Is the Paul Merriman Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio?

Merriman’s most famous portfolio falls into a class known among the investing community as lazy portfolios. These portfolios are designed for the buy-and-hold investor who’s not interested in extensive rebalancing efforts or constantly looking for new opportunities in the market.

Instead, the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio follows a strategy of balancing risk and reward. It invests in assets known to outperform the overall market and keeps diversification as a central focus for the ultimate protection against risk.

The ultimate buy-and-hold strategy was designed to give investors the ability to beat market averages without having to devote significant amounts of time to stock picking and risk management.

Portfolio Asset Allocation

Any balanced portfolio will include heavy diversification among multiple asset classes. The Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio is based on investments in a wide range of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), providing access to various corners of the market that vary in levels of risk.

Merriman updates his ETF recommendations for the portfolio annually. For 2021, his recommendations are as follows:

  • 6% in Avantis U.S. Equity ETF (AVUS). Merriman allocates 6% of the portfolio to the AVUS ETF, which includes a wide range of U.S. stocks across various sectors and market capitalizations while overweighting stocks with certain value characteristics in an attempt to beat overall market returns.
  • 6% in Invesco S&P 500 Pure Value ETF (RPV). The investment thesis the portfolio is centered around is heavily focused on value stocks. Thus, 6% of the portfolio is invested in the RPV fund, which includes investments in S&P 500-listed stocks that display strong value characteristics.
  • 6% in iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF (IJR). The recommended allocation allots 6% of the portfolio’s assets in the IJR fund, which provides access to S&P 500-listed small-cap stocks. These stocks are important because quality small-cap stocks are known to outperform large-cap stocks that have already achieved market saturation.
  • 6% in Avantis U.S. Small-Cap Value ETF (AVUV). The AVUV fund combines the outperformance potential of small caps with the high expectations of value stocks, all in one ETF. The portfolio allocation suggests that 6% of your investment dollars should be invested in this fund.
  • 6% in Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund ETF (VNQ). The recommended portfolio invests 6% in VNQ, an index fund of U.S. investable real estate. Because real estate has a historically low correlation with the stock market, these types of investments help to offset risk and volatility in the portfolio as a whole.
  • 6% in Avantis International Equity ETF (AVDE). Another 6% of the portfolio is invested in AVDE, a fund that contains international equities. The fund’s inclusion highlights the fact that Paul Merriman believes any well-diversified portfolio should include exposure to international securities.
  • 6% in iShares MSCI EAFE Value ETF (EFV). The EFV fund is another international fund, specifically focused on investments in value stocks in Europe, Asia, and the Far East. 6% of the portfolio’s assets are allocated to the EFV.
  • 6% in Schwab Fundamental International Small Company Index ETF (FNDC). Merriman recommends allocating 6% of the portfolio’s assets to the FNDC fund, which includes smaller international companies. This is yet another fund whose inclusion shows how much Merriman values small-cap opportunities over large-cap plays.
  • 6% in Avantis International Small-Cap Value ETF (AVDV). Representing 6% of the allocation in the portfolio, the AVDV fund is yet another focused on investing in quality small-cap and value opportunities outside the United States.
  • 6% in Avantis Emerging Markets Equity ETF (AVEM). Among the international investments in the portfolio, emerging markets are important. These developing economies have the potential to generate significant growth, which is why the AVEM fund invested in emerging markets, takes up 6% of the portfolio.
  • 12% in Vanguard Short-Term Treasury Index Fund ETF (VGSH). The portfolio is focused as much on the reduction of risk as it is on the production of profitability. The VGSH fund, which is invested in short-term Treasury debt securities, represents 12% of the portfolio.
  • 20% in Vanguard Intermediate-Term Treasury Index Fund (VGIT) The largest allocation, 20%, goes to VGIT, a diversified fund made up of intermediate-term Treasury debt securities. These securities help to balance risk by maintaining relatively steady value and providing income.
  • 8% in Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF (SCHP). Finally, 8% of the portfolio is invested in the SCHP, a fund made up of Treasury inflation-protected securities, also known as TIPS. These securities aren’t the biggest earners on the market, but they do provide stability like no other asset and protection against inflation.

Pro tip: You don’t have to do this work yourself. If you use M1 Finance, you can simply load the Paul Merriman Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio prebuilt expert pie to gain access to a curated allocation of securities that follows this strategy.

The Investment Thesis Behind the Portfolio

Merriman took a historical perspective when developing the portfolio. He invested in segments of the market with a history of either outperforming the market or maintaining value when bear markets strike.

Merriman named it the “Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio” because he believes in it as a passive investment that consistently outpaces returns from the S&P 500 without any additional risk.

The portfolio follows a 60/40 allocation strategy — 60% in stocks and 40% in bonds — a balance that Merriman believes to be the perfect center between risk and reward.

Importantly, Merriman acknowledges that everyone’s risk tolerance is different and that investors should consider adjusting the allocation based on their financial goals and appetite for risk.

Here’s how the stock and bond allocation theses differ from one another:

Bond Allocation Thesis

The strategy suggests that the bond portion of the investment portfolio should be very conservative, made up primarily of short- and intermediate-term Treasury debt securities.

Perhaps just as importantly, you won’t find a corporate bond in the portfolio at all, because Merriman firmly believes Treasury securities are a much safer bet.

Although this may be the case, there are a couple of major drawbacks to the structure of the fixed-income holdings within this portfolio:

  • Less Focus on Long-Term Bonds. Long-term bonds do come with inflation risks, but they also pay a higher return to offset that risk. This portfolio lacks much exposure to long-term bonds in favor of shorter-term bonds, meaning the portfolio’s bond returns are minimal.
  • Treasury vs. Corporate Bonds. Sure, Treasury securities are safer investments than corporate securities, but again, safer bets often come with minimal returns, as is the case when you compare Treasury bonds to corporate bonds.

As you can see, the bond allocation thesis this strategy follows is simple to understand: Invest the safe-haven side of your portfolio in the safest possible assets for the best possible outcome.

Stock Allocation Thesis

The stock allocation thesis in this portfolio is a bit more complex.

The first part of the stock allocation is focused on investments in large-cap U.S. stocks listed on the S&P 500 index. These stocks are some of the largest, most well-rounded, and most stable publicly traded companies on the market today.

Many of these are blue-chip stocks that pay dividends, making them stable income investments, but they won’t provide the significant growth the portfolio aims to achieve by themselves.

Next up, the portfolio is diversified with exposure to the real estate industry through investments in real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Investing in real estate balances your portfolio with assets that have a low correlation to the stock market, offering further stability and a counterweight against some of the portfolio’s riskier holdings.

Next up, a healthy dose of small-cap stocks is mixed in. Historically, small-cap stocks listed on major exchanges have outperformed their large-cap peers.

This is largely because small-cap stocks listed on major exchanges have great concepts and products but haven’t yet tapped into a mass audience, whereas large-cap companies have generally already saturated their markets.

Next, regardless of the size of the companies, the portfolio places special emphasis on value.

In his research done when developing the strategy, Merriman found that value stocks consistently outperformed growth stocks over the long run. Therefore, by investing in a mix of small-cap and large-cap value stocks, the investor has the potential to outperform the market as a whole.

Finally, you’ll find multiple funds in the portfolio centered around international investments. That’s because Merriman believes that a well-diversified portfolio must include international stocks, so a large percentage of the portfolio is allocated to international value stocks of all market caps, as well as stocks from emerging markets.

Pro tip: David and Tom Gardener are two of the best stock pickers. Their Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations have increased 563% compared to just 131.1% for the S&P 500. If you would have invested in Netflix when they first recommended the company, your investment would be up more than 21,000%. Learn more about Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

Pros and Cons of the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio

Merriman’s Ultimate Buy-and Hold Portfolio has become popular among the retail investing community for good reason: It works. Investors who take part in it consistently outpace the S&P 500 and other benchmarks when comparing their stock portfolios to them.

Nonetheless, as with any portfolio, this one comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio Pros

Some of the biggest benefits offered through the portfolio include:

1. Exposure to High-Return Opportunities

Much of the portfolio is built up of small-cap stocks, emerging markets stocks, and value stocks, all of which are known for generating compelling returns for investors.

2.Heavy Diversification

The portfolio offers significant diversification, both within its stock holdings and from an overall asset allocation perspective. This diversification allows for exposure to high-return assets while providing stability through assets known for low levels of volatility.

3. Low-Maintenance

Many investment portfolios require you to keep a keen eye on the market, economic conditions, and the assets within the portfolio, adjusting your holdings weekly or monthly. That’s a cumbersome process.

Buy-and-hold investing strategies don’t require nearly as much work, making them more appealing to investors who lack the knowledge or desire to commit several hours per week to researching and rebalancing their portfolios.

Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio Cons

Although there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio, there are also some downsides to consider. Some of the most important include:

1. Ultra-Conservative View of Safe Havens

The safe-haven side of the portfolio leaves something to be desired. It’s incredibly conservative, possibly to a fault. To make the most of the portfolio, investors may need to adjust these holdings to produce better returns.

2. International Risk

While the risk in the portfolio is offset by the ultra-conservative safe-haven side of it, there’s also considerable risk involved in investing in international stocks. In some cases, this increased risk could result in excess losses.

3. Emphasis on Small-Caps

While small-cap stocks have historically outperformed the market as a whole, few experts suggest such heavy exposure to them. Small-cap stocks in particular are more susceptible to the whims of the economy and the stock market.

When making small-cap investments, you must take a long-term view that allows you to absorb the occasional painful declines that will take place among these stocks.

How to Customize the Portfolio to Fit Your Needs

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all investment portfolio, although this one is just about as close as it gets. In fact, it could be a good fit for anyone if you’re willing to customize it a bit to fit your goals and risk tolerance.

Adjusting Asset Allocation to Your Risk Tolerance

First and foremost, the 60/40 allocation in the portfolio is the perfect balance for some, but for many, it’s way too conservative — and for others, it might be somewhat risky.

Rather than sticking to a specific asset allocation outlined by someone else, it’s best to think of your specific appetite for risk, keeping in mind that stocks are riskier than fixed-income investments.

If you’re unsure where your allocation center of balance is, it’s best to use your age as a guide.

For example, if you’re 21 years old, you might invest 21% of your portfolio in bonds and the remaining 79% in stocks. By this method, when you’re 55, you’ll have 55% of your investments in bonds and 45% in stocks.

Using this strategy, your exposure to risk reduces as you age, which is especially important for investors working to build a financially stable retirement.

This allocation strategy takes into account the fact that younger investors have more time to bounce back from declines than investors with a shorter time horizon. It makes annual adjustments to match up to risk tolerance as it changes.

International vs. Domestic

About 50% of the stock investments made in the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio are made in international and emerging markets stocks.

While this strategy has worked for many investors in the past, some are uncomfortable with international stocks for a few reasons:

  • National Pride. First and foremost, when you invest in U.S. companies, you’re investing in the businesses that contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. As such, many investors want their investing dollars to stay here at home, rather than supporting companies abroad.
  • Investing in What You Know. Investing in international companies means you’ll likely be investing in companies you’ve never heard of that make products you’ll never use. Many investors find investing in what they know to be a far more suitable option.
  • Risk. Finally, investing in international stocks comes with additional risk, especially when investing in emerging markets. These investments will be susceptible to economic changes within their own regions, as well as supply and demand surrounding their products and the audiences they serve. Ultimately, keeping your investments domestic can yield a lower-risk investment portfolio.

As a result, many investors decide to tweak their holdings, sticking to the basic concepts of the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold strategy, except without the international assets.

To make this change in your version of the portfolio, simply forgo investing in the international ETFs listed in the portfolio’s allocation, and allocate the excess percentage of your portfolio evenly across the remaining stock ETFs that represent domestic investments.

Adjust Fixed-Income Holdings to Your Risk Tolerance

If you’re an ultra risk-averse investor, the fixed-income side of the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio is built for you. It’s very conservative, taking the two key risk factors associated with these types of investments into account:

  • Time. The portfolio is focused on heavy allocation to short-term to intermediate-term income assets. These assets shield the investor from inflation risk, but also limit the investor’s earnings potential in the long run.
  • Issuer. The portfolio only invests in debt securities issued by the United States Treasury, which are backed by the full faith and security of the U.S. government. While that kind of security in your investment is great, Treasury debt securities pay lower returns than corporate bonds.

If you’re OK with taking a moderate amount of risk on the safe-haven side of your portfolio, you’ll want to adjust your holdings quite a bit. Follow these tips:

Follow the 80/20 Rule

Most investors have a long time horizon and would benefit from the higher returns offered on long-term debt securities.

As such, instead of focusing the majority of your bond holdings on short-term offerings, 80% of these holdings should be invested in bonds with longer maturity dates.

It’s also important to keep your time horizon in mind when doing this. Long-term holdings should span the majority of your investment time horizon, if not the entire thing.

Don’t Be Afraid of Corporate Bonds

While there’s slightly more risk involved in investing in corporate bonds issued by companies with solid credit than there is investing in Treasury bonds, the difference is microscopic.

That is, until you look at the returns, which can be significantly larger on corporate bonds than on Treasury debt securities.

As a result, it’s best to consider adding some corporate bonds into the mix if you want to earn some additional returns from your fixed-income securities.

Rebalance Your Portfolio Quarterly

Buy-and-hold investment portfolios like this one are designed to produce maximum benefit to the investor with minimum work. As a result, many investors are under the impression that the act of rebalancing their portfolios is unnecessary when following this type of investment model.

That’s not the case.

In order to stick with the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold strategy, you’ll need to make sure that your allocation stays somewhat consistent, which is impossible without the occasional rebalance because the values of various assets within your portfolio will rise and fall.

While it’s unnecessary to rebalance your portfolio on a monthly basis when following this strategy, it is best to rebalance quarterly.

To do so, simply make sure your allocation percentages align with those outlined in the strategy. If you find that one asset has grown to take up too high a percentage of your portfolio, sell a portion of your holdings to bring it back in line, and use the funds you’ve freed up to bolster your holdings elsewhere in your portfolio.

Who Should Take Advantage of the Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio?

As mentioned above, this particular portfolio could be a fit for just about any investor, especially when you customize it to your needs using the tips above. Without customization, the portfolio is best for:

  • Risk-Averse Investors. This portfolio is designed to expose investors to minimal risk with heavy allocations to some of the safest (but lowest-yielding) investments on the market today. As a result, if you’re a risk-averse investor, it’s likely a great fit.
  • Value Investors. The portfolio puts value above other investment strategies like income and growth. If you’re interested in exposure to value opportunities in the stock market, the strategy is a great fit.
  • Investors Looking for Heavily Diversified Portfolios. There are plenty of portfolios that will suggest you should invest in four or five different ETFs. However, this portfolio suggests investing in 13 different funds, making it one of the most diversified prebuilt portfolios available today.

Final Word

All told, the Paul Merriman Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Portfolio has stood the test of time, with plenty of investors using it as their path to wealth. It offers a seamless balance between risk and reward while focusing on sectors that are known to outperform flagship stock market benchmarks.

Nonetheless, if you’re going to follow the portfolio and the strategy it’s built around, it’s best to take the time to customize it to your unique needs and risk tolerance.

This may require some research and an initial time commitment, but doing so is well worth your while because it will result in a portfolio that matches your needs and allows you to take a lazier approach to investing moving forward.


The Cheapest Places to Live in Michigan

From the Great Lakes to being the birthplace of Motown, Michigan has it all!

Michigan has caught a bad rap with all the water crises and gradual auto industry collapse. But the Great Lakes State still has plenty to offer. Explore the cheapest places to live in Michigan and see how these rent prices stack up against the rest of the country.

Michigan average rent prices

The great news is that the cost of housing in Michigan comes in far below the national average. Things look poised to change though — rent prices are up 22 percent since last year, with the average one-bedroom apartment coming in at $1,315 per month. So, maybe sign a rental agreement sooner rather than later?

The cheapest cities in Michigan for renters

Cities all over Michigan are affordable for renters. Sure, a cheap rental is not right on the banks of one of the Great Lakes, or whatever, but it’s still possible to find a great unit! Let’s dive right into this list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan for renters.

10. Livonia

cheapest places to live in michigan

Photo source: Livonia Community / Facebook
  • Average 1-BR rent price: $1,056
  • Average rent change in the past year: n/a

This Detroit suburb is in southeast Michigan and has a population of just under 95,000, making it the 9th largest community in Michigan. Currently, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Livonia is $1,056.

Livonia has a lot going on — there are major employers like Ford Motor Company, Amazon and Trinity Health providing lots of jobs for area workers. In all, more than 4,000 businesses are in the area, among them several corporate headquarters.

The city also boasts more than 1,300 acres of nature preserves and public parks, behind only Detroit in the entire state. One particular gem is Greenmead Historical Park, which features a working farm and a number of historically significant buildings. The park also hosts lots of great outdoor events and has a full spate of recreational facilities.

For entertainment, Livonia is home to a ton of great breweries, restaurants and shopping (especially antiques and flea markets). Soccer enthusiasts may also choose to join the Livonia City Soccer Club, which has more than 1,300 players currently.

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9. Royal Oak

cheapest places to live in michigan

  • Average 1-BR rent price: $1,029
  • Average rent change in the past year: 6.95 percent

Rent is creeping up in the Michigan city of Royal Oak, with a one-bedroom apartment running 6.95 percent more than this time last year. Currently, such a unit will set you back $1,029 per month. Just north of Detroit, Royal Oak is ideal for people who need to work in the city, but who want a quieter way of life in their downtime.

The most popular spot in Royal Oak is undoubtedly its ultra-walkable downtown area. Here you will find many lofts and high-rises available for rent. In addition to an almost overwhelming array of dining options (more than 45), Downtown Royal Oak has entertainment galore with the Royal Oak Music Theatre, Emagine Theater and Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle.

The city also puts on a popular farmer’s market stocked with fresh produce from local farms. It’s also not unusual for a community art fair or another special event to liven up the streets of Downtown Royal Oak on the regular.

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8. Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo, Michigan.

  • Average 1-BR rent price: $1,018
  • Average rent change in the past year: 11.67 percent

The last city on our list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan that breaks the $1,000 threshold, Kalamazoo is about as fun to live in as it is to say. Smack in between Chicago and Detroit, Kalamazoo County is in Western Michigan. The word is out about this eclectic area, however, so rent is up 11.67 percent since last year for a one-bedroom apartment. The average rent for such a unit is about $1,018.

Kalamazoo has a lot of great things going for it. Notably, the water and water reclamation systems are award-winning (a big deal compared to some other areas of Michigan). There are also many parks, golf courses and lakes to enjoy during the delightfully mild summertime months.

An ideal place to work, Kalamazoo offers positions in a wide array of industries to choose from such as craft beer, pharmaceutical and medical science, among others.

The only problem with Kalamazoo is figuring out what to do first. Take in a concert or show at the Kalamazoo State Theatre downtown. Or, take in nine or so innings of Kalamazoo Growlers Baseball (summer collegiate league) at Homer Stryker Field. If the sport of curling is more your game, join the Kalamazoo Curling Club!

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7. Greenville

Greenville, Michigan.

  • Average 1-BR rent price: $990
  • Average rent change in the past year: n/a

The smallest city so far on our list is Greenville. A small city of under 10,000 people in west-central Michigan (about 25 miles inland from Lake Michigan), this city checks in at under $1,000 per month! A one-bedroom averages about $990.

Greenville is known for its access to outdoor opportunities. A scant seven miles northwest of Greenville is the Woodbeck chain of lakes, where visitors can swim, boat and fish to their heart’s content. The swimming beach at Baldwin Lake is another popular spot during the summer months. Then there’s the Edwards Creek Mountain Bike Trail, which is sure to challenge even seasoned cyclists.

Greenville’s quaint downtown area is another hotspot for local shopping and dining. With over 70 retailers and other businesses, it’s just big enough to get the job done without being overwhelming. It’s also picturesque enough for any movie — Greenville takes great pride in its adorable, newly renovated streetscape!

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6. Wixom

Wixom, Michigan.

Photo source: Wixom, MI – Government / Facebook
  • Average 1-BR rent price: $965
  • Average rent change in the past year: 7.97 percent

About 20 minutes northwest of Detroit, the city of Wixom is teeny-tiny compared to Motor City. At under 15,000 residents, Wixom is far less metropolitan and far more of a tight-knit community — probably why it’s coming in hot on our list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan. Currently, a one-bedroom rental averages $965, up 7.97 percent from one year ago.

Indeed, Wixom puts on a slate of events rivaled by any city in the state, such as seasonal festivals, movies in the park and dog-friendly events. The summer concert series is very popular!

There are seven public parks located throughout Wixom, each with amenities ranging from sledding hills to sand volleyball courts. The Wixom Trail System is especially beloved by local runners, skaters and bikers, as is The Wixom Habitat, a 300-acre nature preserve.

Don’t forget to stop by downtown to take in an authentic Italian meal at the beloved Volare Ristorante.

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5. Flint

Flint, Michigan.

  • Average 1-BR rent price: $929
  • Average rent change in the past year: 30.89 percent

Bad news first. Yes, this is “that” Flint. The one with the five-year-long water crisis that exposed thousands of people to lead and other unsavory things in their drinking water. However, things are under control in the area now, which is why rent has jumped more than 30 percent up to about $929 for an average one-bedroom rental.

Located 60 miles northwest of Detroit, Flint is appropriately located on the banks of the Flint River. The city’s population is just under 100,000, making it one of the larger cities in Michigan.

To the surprise of some, Flint is home to a thriving cultural arts community. The Flint Institute of Music includes the Flint Symphony Orchestra, Flint School of Performing Arts and Flint Youth Theatre — this is just one component of the 30-acre Flint Cultural Center. Don’t forget to stop by the Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum and other culturally significant offerings!

Locals also love to hike around the one-of-a-kind attraction that is Stepping Stone Falls, a man-made waterfall area and dam that holds back the Flint River, thus creating Mott Lake, which is fully stocked with fish. There’s even an evening riverboat cruise!

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4. Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti, Michigan.

  • Average 1-BR rent price: $922
  • Average rent change in the past year: -18.52 percent

Known by locals simply as “Ypsi,” this eastern Michigan city is also mere minutes (seven miles) from the destination town of Ann Arbor. In case you were wondering, you pronounce Ypsilanti like “IP-sill-ANN-tee” — in honor of a Greek hero from the Greek War of Independence.

Currently, people haven’t been fighting over rentals in Ypsi, so rent has fallen by 18.52 percent over the last year. The average one-bedroom apartment here costs $922 — making it one of the cheapest places to live in Michigan.

Ypsi is obviously a college town, but the students and other populations are largely separated. There’s plenty to do for people of all ages. Stop by Depot Town for classic car events, not to mention a regular farmer’s market. Depot Town also hosts a bunch of vintage, novelty and shopping options.

Don’t forget to pop by the local apple orchard or strawberry patch. Here you can pick until your heart’s content. Afterward, take the kiddos to hit the Michigan Firehouse Museum for an authentic look at past and present firehouse efforts.

Adults can top it off with a stop at any of the local bars and breweries Ypsi is known for. Cheers!

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3. East Lansing

East Lansing, Michigan.

Photo source: The City of East Lansing / Facebook
  • Average 1-BR rent price: $906
  • Average rent change in the past year: 1.17 percent

Expect to see lots of green and white in East Lansing, since the city is home to the Michigan State Spartans and all of the students and school spirit that go along with it. As a result, housing is pretty affordable. The average one-bedroom rental is about $906 per month, up 1.17 percent from last year.

Although MSU is the centerpiece of East Lansing, there’s plenty more going on in the area. The city is family-friendly, with attractions such as the Family Aquatic Center, an “interactive outdoor water facility.” It even has a 190-foot-long tube water slide!

Then there’s the East Lansing Film Festival, which draws people from all over to watch all kinds of movies made around the world. Be sure to explore the hopping downtown area in all its food, shopping and entertainment glory.

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2. Lansing

Lansing, Michigan.

  • Average 1-BR rent price: $850
  • Average rent change in the past year: -25.45 percent

The capital city of Michigan is a steal right now, with rent prices down 25.45 percent from last year. A typical one-bedroom unit rents for $850 a month!

Although Lansing got put on the map thanks to the founding of Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897, modern Lansing has a much wider slate of job opportunities, including other forms of manufacturing, education, banking and healthcare, among others. As a result, it’s easy to live, work and play in Lansing.

Lansing is also delightfully diverse, culturally speaking. In fact, Lansing is known for celebrating Black and minority culture year-round. There is an annual African American Parade here, plus historic sites such as the Malcolm X Homesite and the Michigan History Museum.

There’s plenty for people of all ages and persuasions to do around town. Families love Potter Park Zoo, as well as all the outdoor fun that Lansing River Trail offers. The 4-H Children’s Gardens at MSU is another awesome place to stop by with the kiddos.

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1. Saginaw

Saginaw, Michigan.

  • Average 1-BR rent price: $698
  • Average rent change in the past year: -1.68 percent

Topping our list of the cheapest places to live in Michigan, the mid-state city of Saginaw boasts the cheapest rent by more than $150 per month (compared with second-place, Lansing). Rent in Saginaw dropped 1.68 percent over the last year to about $698 for an average one-bedroom apartment.

The city was originally inhabited by the Sauks. So, the word Saginaw literally means “Land of the Sauks.” The area was originally a major lumber hub, thanks to easy water access. Today, it’s known for its technical innovations. In fact, it hovers at the top of the list of most registered patents per capita in the country.

Locals especially love Saginaw’s proximity to waterways. The city is on the banks of the Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay serves as an inlet to Lake Huron. Ultra-popular Ojibway Island is downtown on the river and plays host to lots of events and people who just want to stroll or bike the area. There’s even ice fishing in the winter!

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The 10 most expensive places to live in Michigan

Although on the whole Michigan is more affordable than many other U.S. cities, it still has some relatively swank areas. Take a look at this list of the most expensive cities in Michigan.


Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory as of May 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


Financial Health Checklist for Small Business Owners

If you’re a small-business owner, you know that the daily decisions you make impact your bottom line. Are you exercising the same care for your finances that you apply to the services you offer your clients?

The following is a checklist you can use to evaluate your financial health as a small-business owner.

Are You Focusing on the Big Picture?

There are many pieces to a small-business owner’s total financial picture. Your financial plan, budget and investments are three critical components to keep in mind no matter how busy daily operations become.

1. Financial Planning

         Taxes can be one of the most significant expenses for business owners. In order to identify and follow the most appropriate tax-planning strategies, small-business owners need to be clear about both their business goals and personal financial goals.

Do you:

  • Maintain a prioritized list of business and personal financial goals and refer to it when you need to make new decisions?
  • Have a small-business structure that offers you the most appropriate legal protections and benefits?
  • Reduce or defer taxes and maximize available deductions and credits? This may include timing income and expenses, using charitable gifting and saving for retirement using accounts such as an  individual or solo 401(k), SEP IRA or defined benefit plan.

2. Budget Management

Eighty-two percent of all small businesses that fail cite cash flow problems as the primary reason. One way to identify such challenges before they become lethal is to manage your budget according to your business plan.

Do you:

  • Know how much revenue you must generate to break even and cover expenses before profits?
  • Monitor your income, expenses, inventory, credit and cash regularly, adjusting and rebalancing where required so you cover your fixed expenses and maintain funds in your cash reserve?
  • Use your budget, break-even point and cash flows over time to evaluate your business financing options and identify the ones that make most sense for you, when financing is required?

3. Investments

         Many small-business owners mistakenly invest all of their time and money into their business.

Do you:

  • Maintain a cash cushion for both your personal finances and business needs, so that if you run into a cash flow crisis you have something to access?
  • Save regularly and invest any cash inflows that exceed your current expenses and immediate lifestyle needs into an account outside of your business?
  • Diversify your non-business investments across companies outside of your industry, in different geographies offering services that vary from yours?

Beyond those three critical components of financial health, here are a couple of other factors that small-business owners need to have a firm grasp on.

First, Are You Protecting What You Have?

Many small-business owners wisely purchase insurance to protect their assets from risks unique to them.

Do you:

  • Understand the types of risks that you face in your small business?
  • Own insurance and regularly review it to minimize the impact of your business risks, if they should happen? Examples of insurance that is helpful to small-business owners include:
  • Liability insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Business interruption insurance – for lost income and overhead expenses during a disaster
  • Life and disability insurance – for employees as a fringe benefit and/or for business purposes like funding a succession plan, in case there is a loss of a key person, or collateral for a loan
  • Workers’ compensation insurance – for businesses with three or more employees
  • Health insurance

And Finally, Are You Keeping the End in Sight?

Even if you can’t imagine life without running your business, it is essential to think about what would happen if you could not manage it due to disability, retirement or death.

Do you:

  • Have a business succession plan that considers:  (1) an individual who has the skills, authority and interest in running the business and (2) how the transfer might take place? If you plan to sell, do you know how your successor will obtain the funds to assume ownership?
  • Maintain a retirement plan? Depending on the plan you own, you may be able to reduce your tax obligations today and benefit from tax-deferred growth on the money you save in your plan. A variety of retirement plans are available, from SIMPLE and SEP IRAs to individual 401(k)s and profit sharing plans.

Vice President, Private Wealth Adviser, Procyon Partners

Caroline Wetzel  CFP®, CDFA®, AWMA®, is a vice president and private wealth adviser at Procyon Private Wealth Partners.  She has worked in financial services since 2001 and began specializing in wealth management for affluent multi-generational families in 2015.  Caroline earned a B.S. degree in policy analysis and management at Cornell University and an MBA in finance and advanced certification in marketing from the University of Connecticut School of Business.


How To Repair Business Credit

As a business owner you are probably now aware of how important it can be to have a good business credit score. Having a low business credit score will impact whether lenders will work with you and can determine whether companies will do business with you.

If you do find a lender, the high interest rates and fees will greatly inhibit your business from being successful. Having a bad business credit score can be a slippery slope, as interest rates increase, making it more difficult to pay off debt while also making it difficult to grow the business without the necessary resources. Therefore, it’s very important to know how to repair business credit and build your busineess credit, if your score it low.

How To Repair Business Credit

Here are the primary steps you should take in order to repair your business credit and get back on track with growing your business into a successful company:

[custom_list style=”list-1″]

  • Contact your lenders and attempt to negotiate an alteration in your repayment options. If you’re having financial problems, many lenders would rather restructure your payments, than receive little or nothing if your business were to go bankrupt.
  • It’s important that you focus on also repairing your business’ finances while working on repairing your credit. Put as much of your profit into paying off debt as you can.
  • Contact your lenders and request that they report all account closures and repayments to the credit rating agencies. Although they may already do this, lenders are not required to, therefore it is always a good idea to check with them to ensure that these positive actions are being reported to help repair your business credit.
  • As a Hail Mary you may consider a debt consolidation program. It’s a long term fix, which will make it easier to pay off debt and get back on track, but will take quite a long time. This option is better than filing bankruptcy, but again, it should be a last resort.[/custom_list]

Keep in mind that once you have successfully paid off your outstanding debt, or have gotten back in good standing with your lenders, it’s important to keep a close eye on your credit use. Once you’ve repaired your business credit, you don’t want to ruin it again by over-accumulating debt again.

Using your business credit is a good thing but make sure you use it conservatively. Just like consumer credit, with business credit you should keep a low debt-to-credit-limit ratio. In other words, whatever your business credit limit is, you should keep your balance at 50% or less.

Removing Negative Business Credit Reportings

In many cases, repairing your business credit can be as simple as identifying negative items on your business credit report which were incorrectly filed, or are altogether false. Requesting to have these false, negative items from your business credit report can help to repair your business credit significantly.

If you’re a business owner struggling with bad credit and need assistance repairing your business credit, contact Credit Absolute for proven assistance with business credit repair. There’s no reason your business should suffer due to false or incorrect credit reporting.


ICBC UnionPay: Earn Up To 7.5% Cash Back

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • ICBC is offering up to 7.5% cash back on UnionPay cards.
    • Premier Platinum Card银联白金卡: 7.5% Cash back at Amazon, 4.5% on in person transactions (up to $600)
    • Preferred Gold Card银联金卡 :5% Cash back at Amazon, 3% on in person transactions (up to $300)

The Fine Print

  • This offer is effective from 7/1/2021 to 9/30/2021.
  • During the promotion period, additional total cash back is capped at $300 and $600 respectively for the UnionPay Gold and the UnionPay Platinum card.

Our Verdict

Seems like a great deal on in person transactions. I suspect most DoC readers won’t have this card, but I know some do. Seems like they offer these on a semi regular basis. More information on the card here.

Hat tip to readers Brian & Alex


Buy IHG points for just 0.5 cents each through Aug. 13, 2021 – The Points Guy

Buy IHG Rewards points with a 100% bonus – The Points Guy

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Is the Sapphire Preferred the premier Chase card to get now? – The Points Guy

Is the Sapphire Preferred the premier Chase card to get now? – The Points Guy

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.