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Data Studies

Jul 28, 2021 The leisure and hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. Social distancing rules and health concerns about travel and gathering in large groups kept hotels empty and reduced restaurants to outdoor dining and takeout. Though the pandemic certainly isn’t over, there are signs of the economy rebounding. SmartAsset analyzed data to identify and rank which states are seeing the fastest recovery in leisure and hospitality. Read More...

Jul 27, 2021 The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says that Americans spent $1.4 trillion on transportation costs in 2019. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Expenditure Survey for the same year, transportation is the second-highest  household spending category after housing. In some parts of the country, households spend a larger portion of their income on transportation than in others. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset crunched the numbers to identify and rank the metro areas where people are spending the highest percentage of their income on transportation costs. Read More...

Jul 22, 2021 In April 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7%, the highest rate and largest month-to-month increase in the history of this data since the Bureau of Labor Statistics first recorded it in January 1948. A year later, in April 2021, 3.8 million workers quit their jobs, a record-high for a single month. Data shows a resurgence in the number of workers who are resigning for better jobs or exploring other opportunities - which could be the result of seeking better pay and benefits, improved working conditions, the ability to continue working from home and personal fulfillment. During the first five months of 2021, a total of almost 17 million private sector workers (or an average of 3.4 million workers per month) decided to quit. By comparison, an average of roughly 2.5 million workers quit per month between January 2001 and December 2020. Read More...

Jul 21, 2021 In a 2021 report, the National Association of Realtors says that Gen Xers make up 24% of  homebuyers from the past year, the highest of any generation in that time frame. The report also ranks the age group as the highest-earning generation out of all other homebuyers, with a median income of $113,300 in 2019. Having a higher income allows for the potential to invest more money and be better prepared for retirement. Some states have attracted more high-earning Gen Xers in recent years and a new study by SmartAsset analyzed data to identify the top states to which Gen Xers who make at least $100,000 per year are moving. Read More...

Jul 20, 2021 The nationwide median monthly rent in 2019 was $934 for a studio apartment and $953 for a one-bedroom, according to Census Bureau data. This can add up to anywhere between about $11,200 and $11,400 per year for solo renters. Living with a roommate is a common alternative to  save money, but some residents may prefer to live alone. The good news is that depending on the city, living alone won't break your budget. With this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the top cities where renters can afford to live alone in 2021. Read More...

Jul 16, 2021 The median household income is about $65,700, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. However, the top 20% of earners nationwide makes about twice this amount, potentially increasing their ability to save and invest for bigger financial goals like retirement. In 2019, the threshold to be in the 80th percentile of households according to annual income was $131,349. Read More...

Jul 15, 2021 On June 24, 2021, President Joe Biden reached an agreement with a group of bipartisan Senators for an infrastructure plan that will invest over $1.2 trillion in eight years on roads, water, electricity, broadband internet and other projects. Aimed at revitalizing the American economy, the bill, if passed, would be the largest long-term investment in infrastructure in nearly a century. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the states with the best infrastructure in 2021. Read More...

Jul 13, 2021 Over the past several years new tech hubs have emerged across the U.S., with hotspots such as San Francisco and New York City losing some ground. The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated this trend. According to LinkedIn data compiled by Axios, many more workers in the software and IT services sectors left the greater metro areas of those two cities between March 2020 and February 2021 than during the previous year. Read More...

Jul 12, 2021 Community colleges are an important first step in the higher education of a diverse range of students. They can offer quality education at relatively low costs, potentially allowing students and families to budget better and ultimately save more. According to data from the Census Bureau, although attendance at two-year institutions has declined slightly in recent years, approximately one-third of all college students in America between 1980 and 2015 attended a community college. In 2021, President Biden proposed boosting community colleges by making them free for 5.5 million students. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset has examined data to identify and rank the best community colleges in America. Read More...

Jul 07, 2021 Though they comprise a relatively small fraction of total homes, the number of million-dollar homes in the U.S. is growing. In 2016, about 2.3 million homes were worth $1 million or more. Meanwhile, in 2019, that figure was roughly 3.1 million. However, compared to the total 78.7 million owner-occupied homes, less than 4% of homes are worth $1 million or more. Million-dollar homes are highly concentrated in some states and cities more than others - and for homeowners who may potentially be seeking to upgrade, it could be worth it to seek the services of a financial advisor. In this study, SmartAsset investigated the cities with the most million-dollar homes. Read More...

Jun 30, 2021 The past year has been a difficult time for many working parents who have had to balance remote work, potential job losses, school closings and limited access to childcare. A February 2021 survey by Joblist says that 47% of parents are working more hours per week on average than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, making their work-life balance even more challenging. Additionally, many working parents report financial stress. Since the onset of COVID-19, the percentage of parents who are moderately or extremely concerned about their family’s financial outlook jumped by about 12 percentage points, from 27.3% to 39%. Read More...

Jun 30, 2021 The number of people who move each year within the U.S. has been steadily decreasing for years. The U.S. Census Bureau says that while more than 42.6 million people moved within the country in 1999, that number fell to 31.4 million by 2019. Despite this trend, younger people are more likely to move than those in other generations and some states are particularly attractive for wealthy young professionals. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset examined data to identify and rank the states where rich young professionals are moving. Read More...

Jun 24, 2021 With higher housing costs and smaller living spaces, many large cities are less conducive to families. According to Census Bureau data, average monthly housing costs for homeowners across the 100 largest U.S. cities are more than 23% higher than the national average. Read More...

Jun 23, 2021 Whether you were once cut off by a car with Florida license plates or mercilessly tailgated by a driver in New York, we’ve all had bad experiences with drivers from other states (or our own) at some point. Besides the road rage, these situations can give us a lot of grief when it comes to managing expenses, but it often varies by location. Which states truly have the worst drivers? Read More...

Jun 22, 2021 With more than 40% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated (according to New York Times data as of June 15), the economies of many cities have started rebounding at a faster pace. However, the rebound has not occurred at the same rate nationwide. Factors like vaccination rates, public spending, poverty rates, tax revenue and politics have contributed to varying rates of recovery. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset has identified and ranked the cities with the strongest economic recoveries in 2021 from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More...

Jun 17, 2021 The average 401(k) balance in the U.S. hit $123,900 in the first quarter of 2021, according to a recent report by Fidelity Investments. This marks more than a 70% increase from the average 401(k) balance a decade before ($72,800). But while balances are increasing among individuals with 401(k)s, a significant number of workers in the U.S. - close to 47 million, according to our estimates using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data - do not have access to either a 401(k) or any other employer-sponsored retirement plan. Read More...

Jun 16, 2021 Less than three in 10 six-figure earners in the U.S. are women, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. Though far from equitable, the percentage of women who are breaking the six-figure threshold is increasing, along with the gender distribution of six-figure earners - empowering them to potentially budget, spend, save and invest more wisely. From 2014 to 2019, the percentage of full-time working women earning $100,000 or more increased by almost four percentage points, from 8.34% to 12.11%. Over the same time, the percentage of six-figure earners who are women grew from 26.08% to 29.52%. Read More...

Jun 15, 2021 Buying a home is an important financial milestone. Many homebuyers have to save up for years, even decades, to buy a dream home. For them, this is a long-term investment that can also help them build home equity with each mortgage payment. This is why it's ideal to buy in a housing market where the value of their property can grow steadily over time. To this end, SmartAsset analyzed data from metropolitan areas nationwide to identify and rank the top and bottom markets for growth and stability in 2021. Read More...

Jul 20, 2021 Experienced scratch golfers and duffers alike can agree on one thing: the cost of the game can break the bank over time. According to a 2018 Golfweek article, the median cost for an 18-hole round at a public golf course is $36 (including the cart). Equipment obviously adds some expenses, making accessibility to sporting goods stores and golf courses, as well as the ability to save income, important factors too when watching your budget. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the best cities for golfers in this study. Read More...

Jun 10, 2021 Estimates on the return on investment from having a financial advisor vary. In a 2019 whitepaper, Vanguard assessed an “Advisor’s Alpha,” or the value that a financial advisor adds to a client’s portfolio, to be about a 3% net return per year, depending on a client’s circumstances and investments. Separately, Morningstar researchers calculated how much better off clients are after engaging in optimal financial planning strategies. They found a 1.82% annual net difference between a typical baseline investment portfolio and an advisor-optimized portfolio. Read More...

Jun 08, 2021 When planning a wedding, the costs can add up pretty quickly. There’s the venue, the music, the photographer, the catering and the outfits and adornments, among other common expenses. While the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. fell to $19,000 in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Knot says that American couples spent on average $28,000 on weddings just one year earlier. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset examined data to identify and rank the best U.S. cities to host a wedding. Read More...

Jun 02, 2021 Biking is an eco-friendly, cheap, fun and healthy way to commute in the city. But not all cities are equally accessible for riders - some cities have designated bike lanes, while others simply lack the infrastructure. Nor are all cities the most affordable for the more savings-savvy cyclist.  Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the most bike-friendly cities in America for 2021. Read More...

Jun 02, 2021 Historically, first-time homebuyers have made up about 40% of all homebuyers in the U.S. However, over the past decade, the share of first-time homebuyers has fallen below that norm, hovering around in the mid-thirties according to data from the National Association of Realtors. In fact, it dipped still further over the past year - falling two percentage points from 33% in 2019 to 31% in 2020 - with many researchers attributing the drop to tightening inventory and rising prices. Read More...

May 25, 2021 Depending on your circumstances, renting or buying a home can be a smart financial decision. Homeownership can help you build equity and lower taxes, while renting offers greater flexibility and convenient services. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset ranked the 50 largest U.S. cities according to price-to-rent ratio. Read More...

May 24, 2021 Over the past decade, the cost of a college education in the U.S. has increased significantly. Accounting for inflation, data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) shows that prices for undergraduate four-year public and private institutions rose respectively by 22.84% and 21.20% between school years 2008-2009 and 2018-2019. Notably, however, public universities remain distinctly more affordable. In 2018-2019, the average net price of attendance (i.e. total cost minus grant and scholarship aid) among four-year public universities was $12,607. Four-year private universities by comparison cost almost twice as much, roughly $23,000. Read More...

May 20, 2021 The COVID-19 pandemic has made road races less frequent and temporarily closed down many indoor workout facilities. Now, as restrictions ease amid the increased percentage of vaccinated Americans, many may be poised to reclaim their exercise routines. In light of these dynamics, SmartAsset has identified and ranked the best cities for runners. Read More...

May 19, 2021 Buying a home has become increasingly difficult during COVID-19. Though low mortgage rates mean that many purchasers will spend less in interest over the course of their mortgage, home prices have risen and housing inventory has dropped. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, the median existing-home price rose by 17.2% from March 2020 to March 2021. Over the same time, the number of units available for purchase decreased by 28.2%. SmartAsset has identified and ranked the hardest places to buy a home. Read More...

May 18, 2021 Remote work has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering many young professionals greater flexibility to live farther away from their jobs. But it is unclear whether this employment trend will become permanent. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey shows that more than two-thirds of executives think that employees should be in the office at least three days a week to maintain a strong company culture. This suggests that while remote work options may be more available in the future, professionals might still need to live near the office. With all this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the best cities where young professionals are living in 2021. Read More...

May 12, 2021 A 2019 report from the Federal Reserve on the economic well-being of U.S. households says that only 37% of Americans think that their savings are on track for retirement. The rising costs of living, medical expenses and long-term care can make it difficult to save enough for  annual retirement expenses. With this context in mind, SmartAsset compared data from 100 cities nationwide to identify and rank the places where seniors are the most and least financially secure. Read More...

May 11, 2021 While  saving up for a down payment and closing costs can be difficult, the U.S. Census Bureau says that individuals in some cities are increasingly buying over renting. According to a recent report, almost three out of 10 owner-occupied homes are one-person households, which means that 36.2 million homes in 2020 were owned by single homeowners. SmartAsset crunched the numbers to identify and rank the cities where single homeowners are buying the most. Read More...