Advertiser Disclosure

Life Events

The Most Popular Retirement Destinations for Seniors

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Many of us look forward to that sweet day when we’ll never have to set an alarm again. You have no boss, no deadlines and no meetings. Most of us would agree that retirement sounds pretty awesome. Which is why it is so important to plan for it properly.

When it comes time to choose where to live, cost of living and general livability for retirees are typically the two main concerns. In past studies, we have endeavored to look at a cross section of retirees’ concerns, so we can rank the best places to retire. But sometimes, the best places to retire doesn’t always line up with where retirees actually move. We hope to shed some light on senior retiree preferences by finding the top retirement destinations. Here’s a look at the most tempting locations.

Key findings

  • The top 25 retirement destinations is dominated by Arizona and Florida metros. Those two states account for 15 of the 25 metro areas with highest net migration of retirees.
  • The Phoenix metro area was the runaway favorite. This area attracted 19,550 new seniors. Only about 12,421 opted to leave. That left a net influx of 7,129 retired seniors making Phoenix their home.
  • Only two metro areas not in Arizona or Florida made it to the top 10: Milwaukee and Nashville, Tenn. Milwaukee saw a net influx of 3,924 retirees, while Nashville gained 2,831.
  • The busiest and least-affordable metros saw the largest loss of retirees. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco tend to lose those who left the workforce. This exodus of retirees does slightly help balance population crises in cities like San Francisco which lost 2,731 retirees.
  • Weather and a sense of “affordability” aren’t the only factors attracting retirees. Florida and Tennessee in particular, and Arizona to a lesser degree, have extremely retiree-friendly tax laws. Florida does not tax any kind of retirement income and has relatively low property and sales taxes. Likewise, Tennessee does not tax social security income, which, apart from the BBQ and music, may explain why Nashville is a top 10 retiree destination.
  • California experiences the biggest loss of retirees. Of the 18 California metro areas we analyzed, 14 saw a net decrease in retirees.

Most popular retirement destinations

Phoenix stole the number one spot that retirees are flocking to. But if you prefer less desert and more beach, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida came in second place. If you’d take a lake over a beach any day, Lake Havasu City in Arizona made its way into the top 10. And thanks to their low cost of living, midwestern cities may be the perfect place to spend your golden years.

If the top 10 is sounding a little crowded for your taste, you could hop on over to the Pacific Northwest. Slightly less popular – but still highly ranked – is Portland and surrounding metro areas in Oregon and Washington. The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area in Oregon and Washington ranked 11th place. And Eugene, Oregon was also highly ranked as the 19th most popular retirement destinations for seniors. We have to say, Portland has a pretty stellar reputation. We found in a previous study, that Portland ranks seventh as one of the best places to live in America if you’re looking for a balanced lifestyle.

The South is looking mighty appealing too. Of course, plenty of spots in Florida made the list, but so did Nashville, Tenn. Who’s ready for some BBQ? If you desire even more southern charm, check out the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin region of South Carolina.

Humidity got you down? Golden coast California didn’t make it into the top 10. Hint: high real estate prices. But sunny San Diego ranked 23rd, which is not too shabby.

Least popular retirement destinations

The New York metro area ranked number one in our list of the least popular retirement destinations for seniors. Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles didn’t fare too well either.

Dream locations like Honolulu, Hawaii, and Orlando, Florida didn’t rank as highly as one would think. And on a not so surprising note, bustling metro areas full of workers bees weren’t desirable spots either. Apparently, there is a lot less need for early bird specials in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Seattle and Chicago.

Be prepared for retirement with these tips

Preparing to retire is a big financial undertaking. One you should take seriously and plan for. Consider these tips as you prep for retirement.

Take advantage of catch-up contributions: If you find yourself over the age of 50 and getting ready to retire but fell behind on saving money, you may want to take advantage of catch-up contributions. Usually, the maximum contribution limit to a 401(k) is $18,500 and to an IRA is $5,000. But for those over 50 years of age, catch-up contributions are more flexible, allowing those total contribution limits to be $24,500 and $6,500, respectively.

Adjust your budget: Tightening your budget so you can see how you’ll live on your new income can help you prepare for the adjustment to life in retirement. You may want to consider saving for unexpected expenses like travelling, assisting family and friends and the potential need for medical care or the option of living in an assisted living facility.

  • The 4% withdrawal rule: Generally you’ll need to withdraw around 4% from your nest egg each year. This means that if you have $1 million saved for retirement, you would withdraw $40,000 each year for costs like food and medical supplies. This is just one way of looking at the expected cost of retirement.
  • 75% of income rule: You can also follow the principle of the 75% of income rule. This guideline advises that you should spend between 75% to 85% of your current annual income each year in retirement. Generally your expenses drop after retirement, so ideally this should be enough income for you to live comfortably.

Review and pay off debt: Taking care of debt before you retire is something to seriously plan for. Seniors with credit card debt have a net worth worth of 43% less than those without credit card debt. The high interest rates associated with credit cards can destroy nest egg income.

Because the average credit card interest rate is 14%, seniors who have credit card debt (on average, $4,786) will pay an average of $670 every year for interest charges. With the average investment portfolio not earning more than 8% every year, seniors will on average earn only $4,508 from their portfolio. Sadly, this means that credit card interest can eat up more than 15% of a nest egg income.

Methodology

Data comes from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS). In order to rank the top retirement destinations for seniors, researchers looked at two metrics. Specifically we looked at the number of residents over 65 who were out of the labor force who moved into a metro area and compared it to the number of over 65 residents who were out of the labor force who moved out of a metro area. Those two numbers were then combined to create a net migration figure. This study is ranked based on that net migration figure.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarco |

Jacqueline DeMarco is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jacqueline here

Advertiser Disclosure

Life Events, Pay Down My Debt

23 Ways to Get an Engagement Ring Without Going Into Debt

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

23 Ways to Get an Engagement Ring Without Debt

A marriage proposal can lead to much happiness, but it also can mean having to purchase an expensive engagement ring and, subsequently, getting into debt. If the diamond industry has anything to say about your engagement ring purchase, you’ll spend anywhere from one to three months’ salary on a diamond engagement ring. On average, couples spent $4,000 on engagement rings in 2012, according to a 2013 report from Jewelers of America.

However, a little forethought and some creativity can lead to significant savings and even a debt-free engagement ring. Think of it this way: It can be far more romantic to propose with a paid-for ring than to drag the equivalent of a car payment into your marriage. Here’s how you can purchase that ring without breaking your bank.

Set a budget

1. The first step you should take in the ring-buying process is setting a realistic budget for yourself. Don’t just go shopping with no maximum price in mind, as that may lead to you making a purchase you can’t really afford. If you know what you want to spend beforehand, and make sure you stick to that, you are already showing the kind of discipline that can help you avoid serious debt.

Heirlooms are a wallet’s best friend

Jewelry passed from generation to generation denotes sentimentality and fiscal prudence. Ask your family, or your future spouse’s family, if they have any heirlooms they would like to pass on. Keep in mind: Heirloom jewelry will be free, but the service and upgrades can run from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. If you do obtain an heirloom ring, consider these three options.

2. Leave the ring intact (except for resizing and repair).

3. Create a new setting for an heirloom diamond.

4. Incorporate a new band into the old ring design.

Buy your diamond on the cheap-ish

Real diamonds are never truly inexpensive, but knowing what and when to buy can save you a bundle.

5. Shop in the summertime. Because winter proposals are very popular (think Valentine’s Day), it can make a lot more financial sense to buy your diamond in the off-season. The summer months can offer stable pricing at a discount.

6. Buy diamonds shy of critical weights. If you want a full-carat diamond, look for something around .9 carats instead. You’ll get close to the same look at a nice discount.

7. Look before you buy. Compare diamonds at various areas of the color and clarity spectrum. If you can’t tell the difference in the diamond’s appearance, choose the less-expensive option. Also, be sure to comparison shop at different retailers; don’t just go with the first ring you love, as you may find something very similar, for less, at another shop.

Replace the diamond, save the difference

Thanks to the diamond industry’s multi-decade, multi-billion dollar advertising campaign, diamonds remain the most popular stone in engagement rings, but forgoing the traditional gem can save you thousands. Consider these emerging trends.

8. Choose synthetic diamonds. Diamonds created in labs share the same properties as mined diamonds, but they cost up to 75% less than traditional diamonds, and they are a great choice for those seeking to avoid conflict diamonds.

9. Replace a diamond with moissanite. A gemologist will never tell you this, but moissanite (a synthetic material) is the hardest gemstone used in jewelry next to diamonds, and it ranks high on clarity and color scales, too. It’s not a valuable gem, but it is beautiful. (Pro tip: Ask your future spouse before you go this route. Many people do prefer authenticity.)

10. Pick an alternative gemstone. Pearls or jade are popular choices outside of the United States, and garnet and topaz are gaining popularity stateside. If you want something out of the ordinary, consider alternative gemstones, but be aware that some gemstones are actually even more expensive than diamonds.

11. Skip gemstones altogether. Ornamental rings (especially knots) are popular choices for those who want to skip traditional gemstones. Handcrafted gold rings can be purchased for as little as $200 on Etsy.

Forgo tradition

Some of the best ways to save money on engagement rings involve breaking tradition, and some couples are more open to an alternative ring style than others. These are a few ring choices that definitely buck tradition.

12. Wooden rings: Wooden engagement rings occupy a large niche in the market, and can be a cost-effective alternative to precious metals. Wooden rings run anywhere from $50 for simple bands to several thousand dollars for rings that include ornate details and gemstones.

13. Tattooed rings: Some couples chose to get tattoos instead of rings, citing that nothing says forever quite like a tattoo. Keep in mind that this may be a dangerous option, as you will have a much harder time removing a tattoo than a ring if your relationship ends (either before or after the marriage).

14. Leather rings: Leather rings can include braiding, engraving and colored beads, among other stylings, and will certainly save you a bundle compared to a diamond. If you don’t want to go with real leather, faux leather can work as well.

15. Go dutch. If the ring in question is outside of your price range, consider asking your sweetheart to split the cost with you. As you’ll be combining finances after you’re married, this may actually lead to some great money-focused conversations.

Save money now, upgrade later

If your partner has a big diamond taste, but you’ve got a small budget, then consider upgrading later on. Here’s how.

16. Propose with costume jewelry. If you think you can save up for the real ring by the time of your wedding, an inexpensive piece of costume jewelry may be just right for the proposal.

17. Build as you go. Start with a simple band and stone, and add more or bigger gems for anniversary milestones, or upgrade when you can afford it.

Buy used

Consider buying a ring that already has a history. You can have the ring professionally cleaned to give it new beauty and make it “yours.”

18. Visit pawn shops. You may be buying the ring of a recent divorcee, but the savings can be irresistible.

19. Search estate sales. If you regularly shop estate sales, you might uncover a vintage ring at a spectacular price. Rings that aren’t presented with a certificate of authenticity will give you room to negotiate on price, but you may accidentally buy overpriced junk. This technique is best for people with an eye for authenticity.

20. Shop on eBay. Pre-owned rings from eBay can represent about a 30% discount over identical new rings, and many owners provide certificates of authenticity.

Creative ways to get cash

Whether you’ll spend a few hundred dollars or thousands, an engagement ring doesn’t have to mean big debt. Consider a few creative ways to save the cash you need to pay for a ring in full.

21. Sell your memorabilia. Your partner may not be too enthusiastic about your KISS memorabilia, or your 27 signed hockey jerseys. Selling these to help pay for an engagement ring will be a double sign of your love.

22. Save up, way in advance. If you’re not currently in a serious relationship, but you think you’re the marrying kind, consider setting aside some cash for a future ring purchase. While some people may find this a strange thing to do, there is no harm in being over-prepared. If you don’t end up using the money to buy a ring, it will be on-hand for other potential purchases (think a wonderful vacation, or a luxury item you really want).

23. Get a side hustle. People are increasingly taking on side hustles to earn extra cash, even if they have full-time jobs. This can include selling your artistic creations on Etsy, becoming an Uber or Lyft driver or writing freelance articles. Then you can put all the extra money you earn into an account for a ring.

Consider a personal loan

It is definitely ideal to be able to purchase an engagement ring without going into debt at all. However, if you simply have to finance at least part of the ring’s purchase, you might consider a personal loan, as you may be able to get a better interest rate than with a credit card, depending on your own credit and where you are able to obtain your loan.

Bottom line

Getting married can be an expensive undertaking, and you don’t want to put yourself in a difficult financial place just by purchasing the engagement ring. Keep in mind the alternatives to the traditional pricey diamond, and also remember that the love you share with your partner should be far more important than buying a ring with a sky-high price tag. Avoiding debt as much as you can also means you’ll be starting off your new marriage on a financially healthy note.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah here

Advertiser Disclosure

Life Events, Mortgage

What Is Mortgage Amortization?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Getty Images

One of the biggest advantages of homeownership versus renting is each mortgage payment gradually pays off your mortgage and builds equity in your home. The difference between your home’s value and the balance of your loan is home equity, and your equity grows with each payment because of mortgage amortization.

Understanding mortgage amortization can help you set financial goals to pay off your home faster or evaluate whether you should refinance.

What is mortgage amortization?

Mortgage amortization is the process of paying off your loan balance in equal installments over a set period. The interest you pay is based on the balance of your loan (your principal). When you begin your payment schedule, you pay much more interest than principal.

As time goes on, you eventually pay more principal than interest — until your loan is paid off.

How mortgage amortization works

Understanding mortgage amortization starts with how monthly mortgage payments are applied each month to the principal and interest owed on your mortgage. There are two calculations that occur every month.

The first involves how much interest you’ll need to pay. This is based on the amount you borrowed when you took out your loan. It is adjusted each month as your balance drops from the payments you make.

The second calculation is how much principal you are paying. It is based on the interest rate you locked in and agreed to repay over a set period (the most popular being 30 years).

If you’re a math whiz, here’s how the formula looks before you start inputting numbers.

Fortunately, mortgage calculators do all the heavy mathematical lifting for you. The graphic below shows the difference between the first year and 15th year of principal and interest payments on a 30-year fixed loan of $200,000 at a rate of 4.375%.

For the first year, the amount of interest that is paid is more than double the principal, slowly dropping as the principal balance drops. However, by the 15th year, principal payments outpace interest, and you start building equity at a much more rapid pace.

How understanding mortgage amortization can help financially

An important aspect of mortgage amortization is that you can change the total amount of interest you pay — or how fast you pay down the balance — by making extra payments over the life of the loan or refinancing to a lower rate or term. You aren’t obligated to follow the 30-year schedule laid out in your amortization schedule.

Here are some financial objectives, using LendingTree mortgage calculators, that you can accomplish with mortgage amortization. (Note that MagnifyMoney is owned by LendingTree.)

Lower rate can save thousands in interest

If mortgage rates have dropped since you purchased your home, you might consider refinancing. Some financial advisors may recommend refinancing only if you can save 1% on your rate. However, this may not be good advice if you plan on staying in your home for a long time. The example below shows the monthly savings from 5% to 4.5% on a $200,000, 30-year fixed loan, assuming you closed on your current loan in January 2019.

Assuming you took out the mortgage in January 2019 at 5%, refinancing to a rate of 4.5% only saves $69 a month. However, over 30 years, the total savings is $68,364 in interest. If you’re living in your forever home, that half-percent savings adds up significantly.

Extra payment can help build equity, pay off loan faster

The amount of interest you pay every month on a loan is a direct result of your loan balance. If you reduce your loan balance with even one extra lump-sum payment in a given month, you’ll reduce the long-term interest. The graphic below shows how much you’d save by paying an extra $50 a month on a $200,000 30-year fixed loan with an interest rate of 4.375%.

Amortization schedule tells when PMI will drop off

If you weren’t able to make a 20% down payment when you purchased your home, you may be paying mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance protects a lender against losses if you default, and private mortgage insurance (PMI) is the most common type.

PMI automatically drops off once your total loan divided by your property’s value (also known as your loan-to-value ratio, or LTV) reaches 78%. You can multiply the price you paid for your home by 0.78 to determine where your loan balance would need to be for PMI to be canceled.

Find the balance on your amortization schedule and you’ll know when your monthly payment will drop as a result of the PMI cancellation.

Pinpoint when adjustable-rate-mortgage payment will rise

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are a great tool to save money for a set period as long as you have a strategy to refinance or sell the home before the initial fixed period ends. However, sometimes life happens and you end up staying in a home longer than expected.

Knowing when and how much your payments could potentially increase, as well as how much extra interest you’ll be paying if the rate does increase, can help you weigh whether you really want to take a risk on an ARM loan.

The bottom line

Mortgage amortization may be a topic that you don’t talk about much before you get a mortgage, but it’s certainly worth exploring more once you become a homeowner.

The benefits of understanding how extra payments or a lower rate can save you money — both in the short term and over the life of your loan — will help you take advantage of opportunities to pay off your loan faster, save on interest charges and build equity in your home.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Denny Ceizyk
Denny Ceizyk |

Denny Ceizyk is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Denny here

Compare Mortgage Loan Offers for Free

Home Purchase Quotes

Home Refinance Quotes

(It only takes 3 minutes!)

NMLS #1136 Terms & Conditions Apply