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Derek Silva, CEPF®

Derek Silva is determined to make personal finance accessible to everyone. He writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, serving as a retirement and credit card expert. Derek is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®). He has a degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has spent time as an English language teacher in the Portuguese autonomous region of the Azores. The message Derek hopes people take away from his writing is, “Don’t forget that money is just a tool to help you reach your goals and live the lifestyle you want.”

Posts by Derek Silva, CEPF®

SmartAsset: All About Self-Employment Tax

All About Self-Employment Tax

As an employee, you may have noticed that your paycheck never matches your full salary. This is because your employer has to withhold certain payroll taxes. You might think that you don’t have to worry about those payroll taxes if… read more…

SmartAsset: How Long Does It Take to Get a Tax Refund?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Tax Refund?

Once you’ve gone through the burdensome process of filing your taxes, your sigh of relief might be short-lived. That’s because you’ll likely be wondering, “How long does it take to get a tax refund?” But as excited as you may… read more…

Itemize Deductions
Tax Planning

Who Should Itemize Deductions Under the Trump Tax Plan

When you file a federal income tax return, you have the choice between taking the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions. The option that you pick should depend on which strategy will maximize your tax benefits. Your calculations may also have… read more…

Stock Options
Derivatives Markets

How Do Employee Stock Options Work?

Stock options are something most people have heard of, but you might not know exactly how they work. In brief, stock options are a type of alternative compensation that some companies, including many startups, offer as part of their package… read more…

SmartAsset: How to Invest $100,000
How to Invest

How to Invest $100,000

If you’re looking to invest $100,000, you have a lot of options, and what you decide to go with can affect what kinds of returns you earn. You could also invest in real estate, or put some of the money… read more…

SmartAsset: Single vs. Married Tax Filers
Tax Filing

Taxes: Single vs. Married

When filing federal income taxes, everyone has to choose a filing status. There are five filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and qualifying widow/er with dependent child. Most people are only eligible for one… read more…

filing taxes after divorce
Tax Filing

Filing Taxes After Divorce: A Practical Guide

If you’re getting a divorce, the tax implications probably are not the most pressing issue on your mind. The specifics of filing taxes after divorce and how you draw up your divorce agreement could make a big difference when it… read more…

SmartAsset: Where Can I Get a Tax Refund Loan?

Where Can I Get a Tax Refund Loan?

For many Americans, filing federal income taxes means getting a refund. The IRS says that the average tax refund in 2022 was $3,039, a 7.5% uptick from the previous year. Taxpayers often rely on this money to boost their retirement savings or… read more…

SmartAsset: How to Start Planning for Retirement
Retirement Planning

How to Start Planning for Retirement

According to a 2022 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) Retirement Confidence Survey, many people think they’re doing a good job financially preparing for retirement. EBRI found that over seven in 10 workers remain confident in their ability to live comfortably.… read more…

contribute to your 401(k)

How Much Should You Contribute to Your 401(k)?

Most retirement experts recommend you contribute 10% to 15% of your income toward your 401(k) each year. The most you can contribute in 2023 is $22,500 or $30,000 if you are 50 or older (that’s an extra $7,500). Consider working with… read more…

SmartAsset: How Much Do Financial Advisors Make?
Financial Advisor

How Much Do Financial Advisors Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that the median salary for a financial advisor in 2021 is $94,170, which is well above the national average. However, pay can vary widely by state, city and level of experience. The profile of an… read more…

first time homebuyer
Checking Account

The Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers in 2019

Buying a home requires just as much care as any other significant investment. If being a first-time homebuyer is a part of your American dream, it’s important to choose a home that fits your budget based on your savings at the same time that it meets your other lifestyle needs. First-time homebuyers might find the… read more…

livable small cities
Checking Account

The Most Livable Small Cities in the U.S. – 2019 Edition

Small towns have their charm and big cities offer great opportunities, but what if you’re looking for something in between? Unlike a large metropolis, a small city tends to have a more affordable cost of living, making it easier to build your savings for a house or retirement. It’s also possible to find a great… read more…

retirees moving
Financial Advisor

Where Retirees Are Moving – 2019 Edition

According to Census Bureau data from 2017, there are more than 71 million people in the U.S. aged 60 and older. Each year more people reach retirement age and decide to make some changes as they enter a new phase of their lives. One big shift could be relocating to other cities or states with… read more…

raise a family in the midwest
Checking Account

The Best Places to Raise a Family in the Midwest – 2019

If you’re looking to raise a family, the city you call home can affect many parts of your life. It potentially impacts the jobs available to you, how much you earn, how much it costs to live comfortably and how easy it is to build savings. Other factors like local schools and population also play… read more…

working parents
Checking Account

The Top 10 Cities for Working Parents in 2019

In about 62% of two-parent households, both parents work, according to 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up about 1% from the previous year. Not only are more parents working, but Census data also shows that men and women across the country worked more in 2017 than in 2016. It’s also not… read more…

new college grads
Checking Account

The Best Cities for New College Grads in 2019

Once you’ve put in the work to get a degree, you’ve got a big decision ahead of you: Where to start your career? For those who have the ability to relocate, choosing the right city can make a big difference. Some likely considerations are the cost of living and the strength of the job market.… read more…

single homeownership

Where Singles Have the Highest Homeownership Rate – 2019 Edition

Saving for a home can take years, which sometimes makes the idea of switching from renting to buying a daunting one even if you have some help. But if you’re on your own, buying a home can be even more challenging. Not only do you need to have enough money to make a down payment… read more…

SmartAsset: What Is an Investment Portfolio?
Portfolio Management

What Is an Investment Portfolio?

An investment portfolio is a basket of asset classes that typically include stocks, bonds, cash, real estate and more. Investors generally aim for a return by diversifying these securities in a way that reflects their risk tolerance and financial goals.… read more…

where women are most successful
Checking Account

Cities Where Women Are the Most Successful – 2019 Edition

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that women earn approximately 80% of what men do. Though the work to achieve pay gap equity is far from finished, it’s important to recognize the areas in which women in the workforce are making progress now in order to build upon these achievements in the… read more…

afford a down payment

Years of Work Needed to Afford a Down Payment – 2019 Edition

Owning a home is an important financial goal for many Americans. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that at the end of 2018, approximately 64% of people owned their homes. Whether homeownership is affordable for you is the first question to consider, and it’s often a tough one. That’s especially true for buyers in… read more…

best cities for runners
Checking Account

Best Cities for Runners – 2019 Edition

Running is an accessible sport that allows you stay active while saving some money. Of course, one of the biggest requirements for runners is the space to run. That could mean open space, like parks and trails, but it could also mean a gym. If you’re a runner it’s also nice to have a supportive… read more…

wealthy buying homes
Checking Account

Where the Highest Earners Are Buying Homes – 2019 Edition

Different places attract particular residents due to a variety of factors such as job opportunities, climate or lifestyle. Though an ultimate constraint is the cost of a home, some markets seem to draw more high-earning homebuyers than others.  For instance, Zillow estimates that the median home value in San Francisco is approximately $1.37 million (as… read more…

best cities to sell a house
Financial Advisor

The Best Cities to Sell a House – 2019 Edition

Selling a house is a major decision that demands careful consideration. After all, securing more money from selling your home gives you more capital to invest with your financial advisor. Your location, for one, plays a major factor. Houses in some places will sell immediately, while others stay on the market for months. Home values… read more…

raise a family on the west coast
Checking Account

The Best Places to Raise a Family on the West Coast – 2019

It costs more than $233,000 to raise a child through age 17, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Given that high cost, you want to know that you’re living in a place that is conducive to your family’s happiness and success. In this study, we looked at almost a dozen factors, including childcare costs… read more…