Losing Weight Can Save You $30,000

Between society’s addiction to sugar, and the amount of time we spend sitting, weight loss isn’t always easy. But if you’re at an unhealthy weight, losing those extra pounds is worth it, and not just for the sake of your health. Your wallet will benefit from it, too.

For a recent study, researchers at Johns Hopkins set out to determine what the price of obesity really is over the course of a lifetime. What they found? If you’re an obese 20-year-old, losing enough weight to meet the “overweight” BMI classification will save you $17,655 over the course of your life. And if you can reach a healthy BMI range, you’ll save nearly $30,000.

“Over half the costs of being overweight can be from productivity losses, mainly due to missed work days… This means that just focusing on medical costs misses a big part of the picture, though they’re a consideration, too,” study co-author Bruce Lee said in a statement, noting that of course medical bills contribute to this number as well. “Productivity losses affect businesses, which in turn affects the economy, which then affects everyone.”

Unfortunately, the CDC estimates that one-third of Americans are obese—so we’ve got a lot of work to do. If you need to lose weight, be sure to eat enough vegetables, move more, and avoid losing weight at a rapid pace. According to research, slow and steady wins the race—so go easy on yourself and know it takes time.

Shop Around For Car Loans First

When they step foot in a dealership, car shoppers generally focus on haggling the best price for their ideal vehicle, having researched every aspect of their new purchase. Gas mileage, safety aspects, and all the dings and whistles are calculated when figuring the optimal price.  But when doing your homework, don’t forget: car loans are shoppable, too.

Secure Financing Before Buying a Car for Smoother Negotiating

If you’re going to finance your car rather than buy it outright, it’s easy to assume you have to go with the dealer’s financing. But as a recent study suggests, it’s important to shop around.

The study was co-authored by professors at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business. They looked at data on over 4 million car loans from 326 different financial institutions across the U.S. According to the study, there are a few interesting findings:

“Search frictions”—including the time and hassle of researching and applying for alternative financing options—make it much less likely consumers will get the best interest rate for their credit profile.

Less than 20 percent of borrowers in the study’s sample successfully originated an auto loan with the lowest available interest rate…

Most borrowers would only need three interest-rate quotes to get close to the best rate.

As Professor Christopher Palmer of MIT pointed out, “Consumers often fail to shop around for lower interest rates. It can be a costly choice —small differences in monthly payments really add up, and many people find they can afford a newer car when they secure a better rate.”

Next time you’re in the market for a car, let this serve as a reminder: shop around. Check auto loan terms at local bank and credit union branches. It takes a little extra time to get a few quotes, but the money you’ll save on interest is worth it. Meaning, you can still go home with the perfect vehicle, but also the perfect financing.

Is Social Security Failing?

There’s a lot of mystery and anxiety surrounding the future of social security and the availability of retirement benefits when we actually stop working. We’ve all heard the fact that the social security trust fund will run out of money around 2033 and that worries people who plan on collecting benefits from the program after that date.

However, what most people don’t know is that the majority of social security given out over the course of a year is funded by payroll taxes from that year, a whopping 77%. Therefore, most people approaching retirement now should not see a significant cut to their benefits. That’s not to say that there won’t be changes. More of your social security money could be made taxable, which would result in a net loss to the monthly checks.

This may change your plans to retire early. Some of the people for whom this was the plan should rethink it, not only because of the (somewhat) uncertainty of the program, but also because the benefits are high for those who work longer. For each additional year you work after retirement age, your benefits jump 7-8%, which isn’t chump change!

Finally, those close to retiring but in need of some extra change CAN collect benefits while still working, which helps ease some of the anxiety of getting older. However, you don’t get a full amount – social security takes about half of what you earn for them and saves it until you’re officially retired, which means you can’t fully drain the account. Hey, maybe these social security people do know what they’re talking about!

Good News In Housing Market

We have good news if you’re in the market for a new home (which, considering the rising rates of mortgages nationwide, is pretty remarkable)! After the market crash in 2008, lender were requiring a larger down payment to protect their assets from irresponsible buyers. Many are now easing those restrictions, which is excellent news for budget or first time buyers!

This has in part to do with the Federal Housing Administration lowering insurance premiums for homebuyers in 2015 by as much as half a percentage point, a dramatic change that has opened the market to many new buyers. “We’re starting to get back to what’s reasonable,” said Anthony Hsieh, CEO of LoanDepot. “The crisis has shaken the market so much that there is no doubt there was an overreaction.”

Another factor that jump started this trend was the actions by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to lower their minimum down payments by as much as 2%! Both programs help first time buyers afford homes, so the fact that they’ve cut the minimum down payment by almost 50% is big news for this eager group of buyers.

All of this signals that the housing market is still steadily rebounding, and that first time or riskier buyers are again getting the chance to become property owners. It’s good news for the economy and the American people – as long as it can last!

Update On The FTC

The Federal Trade Commission takes an annual poll of complaints from Americans (eek! what a job!) and this year, the top issue we had was identity theft. It’s no surprise, considering the revelations of the massive Equifax leak and the idea the possibly as many as 1 in 2 Americans’ identities are not secure.

However, having your identity stolen is only part of the picture. Identity theft can also effect you if a person is impersonating someone to you on the internet. They may call pretending to be debt collectors or other officials, or they may approach you in a more friendly way. Either way, last year the Federal Trade Commission received 160,000 complaints of these or a similar nature.

The lesson Americans have had to learn recently – and it’s been a hard one – is how to identify who and what is real. For example, if the IRS calls to collect a debt, they will first notify you through the mail. Through real, physical mail. They’ll also never as for a debt or money wiring. Americans have had to get savvy very quickly, and they’ve been complaining to the FTC consistently about it.

Other popular complaints include telephone and mobile services, banks and lenders, and debt collection, all of which are mostly classic offenders for the Federal Trade Commission.