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Patrick Villanova, CEPF®

Patrick Villanova is a writer/editor for SmartAsset, producing comprehensive personal finance content to help consumers make better decisions with their money. His particular areas of focus include retirement, financial planning and investing. Patrick studied English at the University of New Hampshire and currently holds the Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF) designation. Prior to joining SmartAsset, Patrick was a senior writer at MagnifyMoney, where he covered investing. His career began in journalism and included 11+ years at The Jersey Journal, where he covered sports and news as an editor. His work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, MSN,, and The Star-Ledger. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Posts by Patrick Villanova, CEPF®

Data Studies

Where Baby Boomers Are Moving – 2023 Study

While many baby boomers have now entered retirement, many more remain in the workforce with retirement upcoming. As this generation transitions into retired life, many may choose to move to a city more suitable for their new cash flows and routines. Some places may offer better tax advantages, lower cost of living, proximity to family,… Read more…

A row of colorful and beautiful old homes and buildings along an empty street in the French Quarter of New Orleans
Data Studies

Cities Where Housing Vacancy Rates Are Highest – 2023 Study

For five years up until 2022, the housing vacancy rate in the largest U.S. cities fell from 9.3% to 7.3%. During that same period, the median sale price of a home in the U.S. jumped from $322,425 to $457,475, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Vacancy rates may indicate an inefficient use… Read more…

Data Studies

Where People Have the Most Graduate Degrees – 2023 Study

Despite the rising cost of higher education, a larger percentage of Americans are earning advanced degrees when compared with previous years. In fact, Census Bureau data indicates that the number of adults with a master’s degree jumped by more than 50% between 2011 and 2021.  With these figures in mind, SmartAsset set out to identify… Read more…

Data Studies

How Cost of Living in Each State Compares to European Countries – 2023 Study

While the Euro has long been more valuable than the American dollar, the cost of living in the United States is significantly higher than across Europe on average. Basic expenses for a single adult with no children in the U.S. is $2,508, compared to an average $1,746 per month in Europe. However, individual states and… Read more…

Form 1040 is the official form used to file a federal tax return.

What Is the Limit on Taking the Foreign Tax Credit?

Double taxation can occur when laws from two distinct countries require the same income to be taxed. The Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) is a non-refundable tax credit designed to alleviate this burden for U.S. citizens who earn income abroad by offsetting taxes paid to foreign governments and reducing a taxpayer’s U.S. tax liability. A financial advisor… Read more…

Workers earning non-passive income at an office job.

What Is Non-Passive Income?

Non-passive income, also known as active or earned income, refers to the money that you earn through your active efforts, typically by trading your time and expertise for compensation. This is the inverse of passive income, which is earned with minimal effort or active involvement. However you earn your income, a financial advisor can help… Read more…

Data Studies

STEM Cities: Where Science and Engineering Is Most Popular – 2023 Study

As the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) continue to grow, more and more undergraduate college students are focusing on these areas of study. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 42% more STEM degrees were conferred in 2020-21 than 10 years earlier.  With this in mind, SmartAsset examined Census… Read more…

A real estate investor looks out over a city skyline.

Real Estate Crowdfunding vs. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Investing in real estate is an attractive venture for both seasoned and novice investors due to its stability and the potential for substantial returns. However, the traditional approach of purchasing property isn’t the only way to add real estate exposure to your portfolio. Real estate crowdfunding and real estate investment trusts (REITs) are two popular… Read more…

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) can either be open to the public or only available via private placement.

Investing in Private REITs vs. Public REITs

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are a popular choice for investors looking to add real estate exposure to their portfolios without the hassle of owning physical properties. These entities pool money from investors to buy and manage real estate, and return a portion of the profits to those shareholders. However, it’s important to distinguish private… Read more…

An financial advisor explains how an investment-only variable annuity (IOVA) works to a client.

What Is an Investment-Only Variable Annuity (IOVA)?

An investment-only variable annuity (IOVA) is a specialized type of annuity designed primarily for one purpose: investing. Unlike traditional annuities, which may provide lifetime income, an IOVA is primarily focused on growing your investment portfolio. Think of it as a tax-deferred investment account wrapped in an annuity structure. If you’re considering an IOVA, talk to… Read more…