What Are the Costs of Living for the Average American?

By information.com — Published September 19, 2017

Cost of living is the money a household needs to sustain an average level of living. The basic expenses taken into account for determining living costs include food, housing, healthcare and taxes. They differ from one geographical area to another, and are used to determine the salary and minimum wage of a state. For instance, the cost of living in a state with a minimum wage exceeding $8 is higher than the nationwide cost of living.

Living expenses to factor in


Expect rent or mortgage payments to make up a large chunk of your monthly expenses. Breaking it down further, a homeowner's housing costs will include principal and interest payments, property taxes, hazard insurance premiums and homeowner's association fees.


The cost of utilities will depend on the amount of electricity, gas and water your household consumes. The average price of electricity is between $50 and $100 per month, subject to variations depending on the size of your home and energy-efficient appliances used.

Your annual energy bill will depend on the time you spend cooking on your stove. Gas is more efficient than electric. According to electric company MGE, the average cost of running a gas range without a pilot light is $2.34/month while an electric range costs $5.94 per month.

Internet costs average $50/month, while monthly cellular service with a data plan costs about the same.

The cost of water, sewer and garbage depends on the Homeowner's Association and type of house (single-family, condominium or other); if you're a renter, the cost will be included in your monthly rent and arranged for by your landlord.


According to statistics from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spent approximately 10% of its total budget on food. The average food cost for a household is $6,602. Wish to know how to save on grocery expenses? Flexible meal planning and couponing can help you lower your monthly out-of-pocket grocery costs.


Nearly 90% of American households report spending an average of $3,000/year on gasoline. Besides the $250 average cost of gas, you will also need to calculate your car's scheduled maintenance costs, tolls and parking fees.


The average annual healthcare costs per person is $10,345 per individual, and changes to the healthcare bill will have a significant impact on the extent to which Americans will be able to access and afford healthcare.


Discretionary spending on clothes, restaurants, movie theaters, live sports and books has increased over the years. The average cost of entertainment hovers around $2,500/year. Actively seeking out bargains and booking when prices are low can go a long way in helping you save on the cost of living.

The most expensive states to live in include Rhode Island, Connecticut, California, New York and Massachusetts. Among the least expensive states are Mississippi, Indiana, Michigan, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

10 Things Not to Do if You were Fired

By Mark. M — Published February 22, 2018

Getting fired is not a pleasant experience and it can be emotionally trying for a number of people. It can have a bad impact on your current financial situation and you may be confused about the next step to be taken. Getting fired can make a person very emotional and it can lead to unreasonable and erratic behaviors from former employees.

In certain situations, getting fired may not have been purely due to the fault of the employee in question. This can be quite traumatic for employees.

News of termination can often lead employees to make harsh decisions and cause them to act without thinking. It is quite important to maintain your composure in such situations. Erratic behavior can affect your future employment. Here are ten things you should not be doing if you get fired.

Never speak negative
Employees who were terminated due to no fault of their own have a tendency to turn resentful towards their employer. This can mean a flurry of legal threats that include suing the company. Remember that such an action creates a bad impression on the company. You may not be able to get a favorable reference from the employer or even your colleagues for that matter. Never broadcast your intentions when you are fired. Instead stay calm and composed and exit with grace.

Not saving any important documents
Storming off the work premises on hearing the news of termination is never a smart move. It is always important to save your work as it is instrumental in applying for the next job. Make sure not to be careless with anything that can be useful to your employment and career.

Threatening to expose company secrets
Such threats arise out of bitterness and anger at being fired. Threatening to expose the company's secrets can mean a permanent end to your career. Measure your words and think carefully before you make any such threats. Good recommendations can go a long way but a bad recommendation can be detrimental.

Not asking for recommendations
Gracefully accepting your termination may not seem like an easy task, but it is the best way out. You are entitled to ask for a good recommendation from your employer and a little composure goes a long way. An employer may be more than willing to give you a good recommendation but your hurt ego may make it seem like an unnecessary favor. This is not true. It is always best if you can leave your company with a good recommendation.

Blaming the organization
A number of employees who have been terminated tend to blame their coworkers and the organization as a whole for their poor performance. This does not sit well with any company and the enemies you make in your professional life are the worst. A background check can dig up such behavior and it will seem as though you are not a team player.

Never stoop down to cursing and calling out names. That is unacceptable behavior in all aspects of life and can affect your self-esteem. Termination is hard, but cursing and name calling can cause you to lose favor among your colleagues and change their opinion about you. Always stay professional.

Do not let your ego take the best of you
News of termination can affect an employee's ego and this can lead them to make disparaging comments about the organization. Employees often tell their employers that the company will not survive without them. Such behavior will simply convince your employers that firing was the best decision they made.

Rejecting a company's actions to make the termination easier
Most companies will try and offer their employees a smooth transition in case of termination. This can make the whole process of termination much easier on the employees. Some employees may choose to reject such offers by the company. This is a bad move, especially since you stand to benefit from positive referrals and any additional perks that the employer feels you are entitled to.

Refusing to leave
You may not be prepared to leave the organization you were working for. But it is never a good idea to say this when you are being fired. You may be compelled to list out reasons and excuses, but all this does is convince the employer that you were not right for the company. You can definitely ask for a brief insight into the reasons that led you to get fired. Accept your termination with grace and choose to leave with dignity.

Yelling out a resignation in anger
In the heat of the moment, you might be compelled to yell out that the company cannot fire you because you choose to resign. While it may seem soothing for your hurt ego, it can actually hurt your reputation. An employer may have been considering giving you an option of resigning instead of terminating you. Harsh words can lead your employer to think otherwise and convince him or her that giving you such an option is a mistake. Remember, if you are given the option of resigning, it is a much better option rather than having your future employer asking you questions about why you were terminated.

Can You Retire Offshore and Still Receive Social Security Benefits?

By Mark. M — Published February 22, 2018

Retiring offshore was once exclusive to an elite few. However, things have changed drastically in modern times. Today, it’s possible for someone to retire in a country other than the United States and live a relatively comfortable life.

In fact, there are several expatriate communities that already exist in many countries and a fairly large chunk of these communities are made up of Americans. Great, right? Well, of course, it is.

However, there seems to be a misconception that offshore retirement is still the domain of rich people. Many still doubt the idea because of the assumption that they can’t afford to retire abroad.

One of the most common questions (in this context) that people have is whether they can get social security while living outside the United States? This is a fairly reasonable concern.

So, can you get social security while living outside the United States?
Well, you can. However, there are certain requirements that you will have to meet. Let’s take a look at some of them here.

To retire abroad and continue earning your social security benefits, you are, firstly, required to have contributed to the social security fund for about 40 quarters, which is the same as 10 years. You can start collecting the benefits at age 65 if you were born prior to 1937. For those born after 1960, social security benefits are made available after age 67.

Even so, there is a possibility to start collecting the benefits at the ages of 62 and 70. However, early access to the benefits means that a reduced amount will be granted each month instead of the original amount. For late retirees (above 70), the monthly amount is higher than normal.

So, essentially, the main point here is that you can collect your social security benefits if you’re in an offshore location. Barring the above-mentioned condition, you’ll have to make sure that the country you’re retiring in offers you the facility to collect your social security checks.

The process
There are a few options as to how you can receive the money. For starters, you can have the money deposited into a US bank and transferred to an overseas account. Then, there is also the option of having the check mailed to you. But, you will have to place a request with the Treasury Department for this.

You will also be sent a questionnaire (before you enter the retirement phase) on a periodic basis that will assess your eligibility for future payments. This is to ensure that the funds will be used appropriately. The questionnaire is likely to carry questions regarding your family situation, possible disabilities, and even employment.

The questionnaire is typically sent every year or once in two years. This usually varies according to your location (in the US), age, and whether you have a representative payee.

It is important to alert Social Security to key changes such as a change in address, marital status, or employment. If you don’t fill the questionnaire or report changes, there can be consequences. This is even more likely when the information you’ve shared is found to be false.

Post-retirement employment
You are allowed to collect social security benefits even if you have found employment in your offshore retirement location. However, your earnings cannot be more than the yearly exempt amount, which changes annually. To stay updated on the limit, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

Working abroad
If you’ve worked abroad, there is a possibility that you can still be eligible for social security even if you haven’t contributed to the fund. However, it depends on the bilateral social security treaty signed by your host country and home country (US).

These agreements are called Totalization Agreements and the US has signed 25 of them. So, there are 25 countries where you can work, retire, and still claim social security benefits.

Creative Ways to Get Out of Debt

By Eddie V. — Published February 22, 2018

One of the worst financial mistakes to make is getting into debt. Ideally, a debt must be avoided as much as possible. But, sometimes, things just go wrong and you have no option but to rely on a credit card or loans to get by.

However, the good thing is you can always put an end to your debt eventually. In fact, we have a few suggestions here that can help you get out of debt. Take a look.

Put on a yard sale
Do you have things lying around at home that aren’t being used? Well, as they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Those “unused” things do have a certain value and all you need to do is cash in on that value.

So, start collecting all those toys, clothes, and electronics that are in good shape but aren’t being used. Conduct a yard sale and use the proceeds to pay off your debt.

Apart from having a yard sale, you can also sell used goods on sites like eBay. In fact, there’s a market out there even for damaged goods. For instance, there are collectors on these sites looking to get their hands on even the most obscure items. So, don’t hesitate to put up your “not so appealing” stuff for sale. You might just get lucky.

Save the change
Most of us have the habit of ignoring the change in our pockets until an actual need shows up. In fact, some of us just dump them somewhere and completely forget about them. Change is money at the end of the day and it’s a foolish thing to treat change like its rubbish.

So, instead of throwing them away or ignoring them, it’s better to start collecting and saving the change. Get yourself a change jar for the sake of convenience and start putting all the change in there. Before you realize it, you’ll end up with a substantial bit of money, which can be used to make a few debt payments.

Use coupons
People who swear by coupons are often ridiculed for being “stingy” or “miserly”. Well, truth be told, they’re the smart ones. Coupons are an excellent way to solve your debt problem. They allow you to make purchases at reduced prices. The more coupons you use, the more you’re likely to save.
So, never miss out on a coupon. If you find one that’s still fresh, use it and save money.

Save on certain services
Some of us rely on businesses and people to do certain things and we pay them for it. However, more often than not, a lot of these services happen to be things we can do ourselves. By doing them ourselves, we can actually prevent money from being spent.

For instance, how hard is it to clean your own car? Do you really need to go to a professional car wash as often as possible?

As you can deduce, it is far more cost effective to do things on your own. You’re basically saving money this way. The saved money can help pay off your debts.

Get a side job
Getting a second job is another way to earn extra money and get out of debt. The best part is it isn’t even a hard or complex thing to do. There are several second job options that are so easy to take up that they wouldn’t even qualify as a “real job”.

One example would be paid surveys. Here, you basically get to make money by participating in a survey. There are plenty of companies out there carrying out regular market research and they’re always on the lookout for respondents.

By signing up with these companies, you can get paid for being a respondent in their study. In fact, there are paid survey aggregators that will keep sending you fresh surveys from multiple companies all over the globe. You just have to answer the survey and collect your fee. The aggregator might take a commission, but you get to keep most of it.

The extra money you earn can go towards paying off your debts.

Best Job Websites - Top 10 Best Career Search Websites

By Kelly B. — Published February 21, 2018

When it comes to looking for a new job, there are several ways you can go about your job search. However, one of the most effective ways to do it is by using a career website or job website. Job sites are very effective in that they provide users with a wide variety of tools to simplify their search and also be more specific with it.

For instance, you can search for jobs according to your location, specialization, and various other criteria.

Now, job websites can typically be split into two categories, that is, job boards and job search engines. The key difference is that job boards allow you to search the job listings that are specifically listed on the board. Job search engines, on the other hand, allow you to search company postings, other job boards, and various other sources.

In fact, you even have job websites that focus on specific fields or employers. So, if you want a high volume of quality results, it would be a good idea to include such sites in your online job search efforts.
Never limit yourself to just a handful of sites. Each career website offers a unique set of benefits and to enjoy every benefit under the sun, it’s best to use as many sites as possible. But, of course, that doesn’t mean every site you see out there is worth your time.

So, how to search for a job online, when not every site can be trusted? Well, we’ve taken up the task of making things a little easier by providing you with a list of the best job websites online right now. It’s a mix of both, job search engines and job boards.

So, go through the list and consider utilizing every single one mentioned.

A job website list is incomplete without CareerBuilder. This is one of the largest job boards that you can currently find online. It boasts an excellent search function that provides filters such as degree, the pay range, and location.

Plus, CareerBuilder is known to source job listings via its connections with the media. So, if you’re looking for jobs in media, this should be your first choice.

Apart from that, CareerBuilder also offers useful advice and provides several resources for job hunters.

Jobs.com is another major job website. It offers, apart from the usual job listings, job alerts, a resume builder, and job search advice. You can also upload your own resume for prospective employers to have a look.

Indeed functions as a job search engine and it's probably the best one out there. It provides users with a consolidated list of job boards, which means you have all kinds of job listings from a range of sources. So, basically, you have a gazillion options to choose from.

You can also carry out global job searches on Indeed.

LinkedIn is primarily a social networking platform for professionals. So, needless to say, it didn’t take very long for employers to leverage it as a talent source. Apart from actual job listings, which are directly posted by employers and recruitment agencies, you can also follow companies, join job search groups, and basically do a lot to land your next job.

As the name indicates, this is a “monster” of a job site and probably one of the oldest on the list. So, you’re likely to find a massive number of listings in here. You can upload your resume for employers and even join networking boards.

You also have search alert services that let you know if something interesting shows up.

If you’re specifically looking for tech jobs, Dice is your site. You can search using a range of filters such as title, employment type, location, and company. Apart from that, the site lets you upload your resume, upload cover letters, acquire salary information, and track jobs. There’s also a career advice section.

Glassdoor is more of a career community where you can find more than just jobs. You have user uploaded reviews of job positions and even entire companies. So, there’s basically a “first-hand” information vibe that can be quite helpful.

Google for Jobs
Google for Jobs is a job search engine that basically provides a list of jobs from multiple sources. There are filters you can use to refine your search. However, the greatest benefit here is that this uses Google’s own search algorithm, which means you’re going to get the best search results possible.

Idealist caters to those looking for volunteer and internship opportunities. You can search for organizations based on the opportunities they provide and their mission. The site also allows direct networking.

Another job search aggregator that offers email alerts and even lets you save specific searches. What sets it apart is that you can search for jobs based on the employer’s eco-friendly practices, diversity rate, and propensity towards hiring veterans.