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Mortgage Rates Today, Wednesday, Aug. 17: 30-Year Home Loans Sharply Higher

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates were sharply higher Wednesday, while 15-year fixed mortgages and 5/1 ARM rates moved up slightly, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders this morning.

This is the first significant move higher for 30-year home loans since a similar sharp increase was noted on Aug. 8.

Mortgage rates make a move

The NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees, the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Mortgage Rates: Aug. 17, 2016

(Change from 8/16)

30-year fixed: 3.63% APR (+0.05)

15-year fixed: 3.02% APR (+0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.50% APR (+0.01)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

New housing construction continues to lag behind demand

The latest data on housing permits, starts and completions continue to reveal a disturbing trend: Construction is still falling behind rising demand. The July report, released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, shows substantial declines year-to-date in multifamily housing permits, with moderate gains in single-family permits.

“New construction is failing to keep up with household formation, meaning that the low vacancies in rentals and the tight supply of homes for sale will continue to be a key theme for housing in the months ahead,” Jonathan Smoke, chief economist, said in a news release. “Single-family is continuing to show gains, but the gains in permits are weaker than the gains in starts. Builders are starting what they already permitted earlier this year but are not bullish about demand this fall and winter.”

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick.

Why You’ll Always Need Cash

In snow-swept Sweden, the rise of mobile payments is making cash so sparse that some bank robbers have been left with nothing to steal.

But in the U.S., that day probably won’t come anytime soon.

People have been predicting the demise of cash for nearly 50 years, says David Stearns, professor of money and technology at the University of Washington. As banks began adopting computers and credit cards made their appearance half a century ago, many predicted the elimination of paper currency. “We read in the mid-’60s about how cash [was] going to go away in a decade,” he said.

“Well, that didn’t happen.”

Not sold yet on mobile payments

It’s true that more people are trying mobile payments. According to a study by research firms PYMNTS and InfoScout, 24% of respondents had used Apple Pay in June 2016, up from 13% a year earlier. But during that same period, the number of people who “rarely consider using Apple Pay” jumped from 23% to 34%. In other words, Apple Pay attracts first-timers but has a hard time convincing them to stay.

What’s more, cash remains widely popular. A 2014 study by the Federal Reserve showed that cash is used to complete 40% of transactions, most of them less than $20. And a solid 30% of consumers also listed cash as their preferred way of paying.

If anything, it seems mobile payments will become just one more way to pay.

Plenty of places take only cash

Odds are that in your town there are a few cash-only restaurants or shops. Indeed, 55% of small businesses in the U.S. don’t accept plastic, according to a survey by financial software company Intuit.

Accepting credit cards can cost a business up to 4% per transaction, says Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation, and mobile payments like Apple Pay can be just as expensive for merchants.

“If [mobile payments are] done in a way that simply replicates what credit cards do, they’re going to suffer from the same sort of disfavoring from merchants as credit cards,” Duncan says.

Currency’s other value

It’s not just necessity that binds us to cash. From the tooth fairy’s quarters to bills received on birthdays, cash can also be sentimental. It can even convey a nation’s values.

Just look at the attention paid to the recent decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Barbara Howard, founder of Women on 20s, a group that advocated the change, says that placing perhaps the most famous of American abolitionists on our currency reveals “a transition in our consciousness.”

Cash is more than a way to pay for stuff, she says. “[It’s] how we project ourselves to the rest of the world.”

» MORE: This Is What the ATM of the Future Will Look Like

Amber Murakami-Fester is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

Sean Talks Credit: You Don’t Have to Pay for Credit Card Fraud

Last year, I became a victim of credit card fraud. I found out about it when my credit card issuer, Chase, sent me a text asking whether I had spent $2,600 at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.

I sat in my kitchen near San Francisco, confused. I was about to call my wife and ask if she had bought something there online. But just as I reached for the phone, Chase called me. The customer service representative told me that the card had been used a second time, at another high-end store in New York. This time the charge was even larger.

Panic set in. I told the service representative that I hadn’t made make the purchases.

So, what was the response? If you think I’m about to tell a cautionary story of financial ruin by way of fraud, you’d be mistaken.

Here’s what really happened: The representative thanked me for my time. She told me the transactions had been removed from my statement, my account had been frozen, and I’d get a new card in the mail in a couple of days. In about three minutes, the mess was resolved.

The reason I tell this terribly anticlimactic story is to illustrate a crucial point: As a consumer, your liability for fraudulent credit card charges is almost always going to be $0. We should do what we can to protect our accounts, of course. But when bad things happen, the issuers and merchants pay for it — not you.

What protects you

It wasn’t a random act of kindness from the credit card issuer that saved me from paying for those fraudulent charges. In fact, my bank was just following the rules.

Here’s what protected me, and what protects you, from paying for credit card fraud:

  • Federal law. The Fair Credit Billing Act caps your liability for credit card fraud at $50 per transaction. It’s $0 for transactions made after you’ve reported your card stolen, or for fraudulent online purchases and other card-not-present transactions. This law isn’t subject to time limits, says Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center. You’re protected even if you report the fraud months after it happens. The FCBA protects consumers’ credit card accounts to a greater degree than similar laws that shield consumers from fraudulent checking or savings account withdrawals or debit card fraud. As a result, credit cards are the safest form of payment.
  • Zero liability protection. Credit card networks, like Visa and MasterCard, take the law a step further with zero liability protection policies. Under these rules, you aren’t liable for fraudulent purchases made on your account unless you’re guilty of “gross negligence.” Issuers define this term differently. For many, it means not reporting the fraud within two billing cycles, or falling behind on payments. But even if you did these things, Saunders notes, you’d still only be liable for up to $50, because you’d still be protected under the FCBA.

Because of these protections, you get the benefit of the doubt when you’re reporting fraud. Your issuer can’t charge you interest or fees on the transaction in question while it’s being investigated. After you dispute the charges, your issuer will freeze your account to prevent more fraudulent purchases and issue you a card with a new number.

Not all unwanted credit card purchases are protected under these rules. Your issuer won’t consider it fraud if an authorized user, such as your spouse or child, goes on a spending spree, for example. And if a purchase was made by a family member or close friend without your permission, it likely won’t be considered “unauthorized” unless you’re willing to file a police report.

But for mystery charges, like the one I received from Saks Fifth Avenue, these policies offer peace of mind. Even if your issuer denies your claim, the law is on your side. If you don’t have any luck with your issuer, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and provide supporting documents to have your dispute reconsidered.

» MORE: How to report fraudulent charges on your credit card statement

Stay calm and read your purchase history

Often, your issuer will catch fraud before you do, as in my case, but don’t rely on that. Some charges can fall through the cracks, and you don’t want to end up unknowingly paying for things you never bought in the first place.

Review your credit card purchases regularly, and report any suspicious charges right away. This way, you can take full advantage of federal protections and your issuer’s zero liability policy.

Here’s how you can monitor your accounts easily:

  • Download your issuers’ apps. Check your recent purchases with a couple of taps on your smartphone.
  • Set up text notifications. Some issuers allow you to get texts whenever a purchase is made on your account.
  • Check your mobile wallet history. With certain banks, you can view your entire purchase history on mobile wallet apps, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay.

Reviewing your purchases doesn’t have to take much time — maybe a few minutes per week, at most. But even a quick review of purchases can save you some hassle and money.

» MORE: How credit card numbers are stolen

Doing our part

As consumers, we don’t have the power to completely eliminate fraud, no matter how careful we are.

We can’t control which issuers and merchants adopt EMV technology, ensuring more secure transactions. It’s not up to us to prevent future data breaches. We’re not going to ask the store clerk prior to every credit card transaction, “Before I go through with this purchase, can you show me proof that your store complies with the latest security standards?”

When it comes to fraud, our main responsibility as credit card holders is to report it. That’s all. We don’t have to investigate it, and we sure as heck don’t have to pay for it. Your issuer’s response upon receiving your report will probably start with “Thank you.”

Sean McQuay is a credit cards expert at NerdWallet. A former strategist with Visa, McQuay now helps consumers use their credit cards more effectively. If you have a question about credit, shoot him an email at The answer might show up in a future column.

Analysis Identifies Where Financially Responsible Americans Live

At a glance, San Francisco and Pittsburgh seem like completely different kinds of cities. One is home to cable cars, the other has the Duquesne Incline. One is known for fresh seafood, the other for loaded sandwiches. The cities have starkly different costs of living, too. But when it comes to their residents’ money-management skills, both of these cities and their surrounding metro areas have financially fit populations.

These cities aren’t the only places that shine when it comes to money. NerdWallet examined data for the 100 most populous U.S. metro areas to determine where residents are best at managing credit, debt and housing costs. The analysis includes credit scores, debt and account delinquency data from the credit reporting agency Equifax, and data on household income, individual income and homeownership costs from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Top 10 financially responsible metro areas
  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
  2. Madison, Wisconsin
  3. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
  4. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
  5. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan
  6. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin
  7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  8. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts
  9. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
  10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
Data used in the analysis

Here’s a closer look at three key measures of residents’ financial fitness and the metro areas that best exemplify these factors.

The metro areas where residents are best at managing credit. VantageScore is a credit score developed by the three major credit reporting bureaus. This score has similarities with the better-known FICO scores — and like FICO, VantageScore 3.0, the current version of the score, has a 300-850 scale. Creditors use these scores to determine creditworthiness.

Of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, residents in Madison, Wisconsin, have the highest median VantageScore 3.0 at 761. People living in California’s San Jose (755) and San Francisco (752) have the next-highest median credit scores.

NerdWallet also examined the percentage of all credit card and loan balances that are 60 days or more past due in each metro area’s population. Among places in our analysis, the median of overdue balances is 2.16%. The metro areas with the lowest overdue balances are San Jose (0.71%), San Francisco (0.93%) and Madison (0.95%).

The metro areas where residents have the least debt. The analysis weighed each metro area’s debt as a percentage of residents’ income. Of the 100 metro areas, the median of this data is a 2.28% debt-to-income ratio for credit card debt and a 41% debt-to-income ratio for other debt. Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Ogden, Utah, have among the lowest median ratios of credit card debt to median income, with 1.51% and 1.52%, respectively.

The examination of other kinds of consumer debt included mortgages, auto loans and personal loans. San Jose and San Francisco, which have among the highest median annual incomes, have the two lowest debt-to-income ratios, at 12% and 16%. Boston (26%) and Seattle (28%) have among the lowest ratios, too.

The metro areas paying the least in housing expenses. The analysis looked at Census data on median monthly housing costs as a percentage of median household income in each metro area. Among the 100 metro areas, the median housing-to-income figure is 31%. Ogden, Utah (25%), Grand Rapids, Michigan (26%), and Des Moines, Iowa (26%), have the lowest housing expenses in the analysis.

To see the methodology and data on all 100 metro areas, see Metro Areas Where People Are in the Best Financial Shape.

Laura McMullen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @lauraemcmullen. Courtney Miller is a data analyst at NerdWallet. Email:

5 Investing Tips for Your 20s

The years following college graduation aren’t always known for savvy financial moves. Living with parents, maybe. Student loan debt, yes.

Call it a pipe dream, but what those years should be known for is investing. It’s hard to overstate how valuable your 20s are, but on the long, long road to retirement, saving throughout that decade is kind of like putting an extra engine in your car.

Say you wait until age 30 and invest $100 a month for 35 years; you’d put away over $42,000, but end up with $181,000. Invest $100 a month during your 20s, and you’d save only $12,000, but wind up with over $200,000 at age 65. (Note: This assumes you earn a 7% average annual return.) For that growth, you can thank the magic of compound interest.

The problem is coming up with the money and figuring out how to invest it. On a starting salary, even $100 a month can feel like a tight squeeze, and a college education often doesn’t cover investing 101.

Here are five tips to help you invest in your 20s.

1. Accept your employer’s generosity

401(k) is a tax-advantaged retirement account, which means you can contribute directly from your paycheck pretax. Employers that offer this benefit often also match contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. To be clear: Some employers give you money just for saving for retirement.

If your company offers a match, you should contribute enough to get the maximum, or work your way up to that.

If a 401(k) isn’t an option, or you’re already earning a match, see if you meet the income requirements for a Roth IRA. Unlike a traditional IRA or a 401(k), it won’t give you a tax break on contributions, but it offers something potentially better: You won’t pay federal taxes when you pull money out in retirement. That’s right, your contributions and investment earnings grow tax free.

» MORE: Roth IRA vs. traditional IRA: Which is best for you?

One other note here: Some companies offer a Roth version of the 401(k). If yours is one of them, you should probably take advantage.

The payoff

Want a million dollars? Let’s say you earn $35,000 a year and your employer matches half of your 401(k) contributions, up to 6% of your total salary.

If you contribute 6% beginning at age 22, you’ll have over $1.2 million by 65, assuming a 7% return and annual salary increases of 3%. Without that employer match, you’d have just $800,000. And without contributions to a 401(k), you’d have — $0, of course.

2. Make risk your friend

Many millennial investors make the mistake of avoiding risk. That investment example above, where $12,000 grows into $200,000? It would require a reasonable allocation toward stocks; while investing in stocks can be riskier than say, putting your money in a savings account, over the long run stocks have shown to be a much more rewarding investment.

Of course, when you invest in stock, you’ll probably see drops in the short term. That’s why the market is generally a no-go if you need the money within five to 10 years. But history shows us that, in the end, you’ll come out ahead for long-term investments like retirement. One reason why investing in your 20s is so important is that you’re looking at a very long term, which allows you to capitalize on all that growth.

According to a Vanguard analysis, a portfolio of 70% stocks and 30% bonds — a reasonable stock-to-bond allocation for growth — had an average annual return of 9.1% between 1926 and 2015 (even with some rocky years, including 1931 and 2008). Bonds are a safer, lower-return investment that can counter the risk of stocks. But those who played it safe and stuck strictly to bonds saw a return of only 5.4% on average within that same period.

The payoff

Let’s use the same 401(k) scenario in the last example. The difference between a 9.1% return and a 5.4% return is close to $1.3 million. It’s not reasonable to count on a 9% return, but you can take appropriate risk and hope for the best.

» MORE: How to invest your 401(k)

3. Keep it simple with index funds or ETFs

The best way to invest in stocks or bonds is through index funds or exchange-traded funds. These funds hold pieces of many investments, and they’re designed to mimic the performance of an index. An index tracks the performance of a portion of the stock market; for example, the S&P 500 tracks 500 of the largest companies in the U.S.

Instead of buying the stocks of all of those companies — or even buying individual stocks, period, which takes more time and research than most of us want to commit — you can buy into an S&P 500 index fund that holds shares of those stocks.

The idea is to invest in several of these funds within your 401(k) or IRA to build a diversified portfolio that includes U.S. stocks, international stocks and a small allocation of bonds. For each fund, you’ll pay an expense ratio, which covers the cost of running the fund.

A 401(k) will have a small, curated list of fund choices. In general, you can decide between two funds in a category — an example of a category would be U.S. large-cap, or large company, stocks — by going with the one with the lowest expenses.

A tough roadblock for new IRA investors are fund minimums, where funds require minimum investments of $1,000 or more. A 401(k) allows you to avoid that. An IRA workaround: ETFs don’t have minimum investment requirements. These funds trade like a stock throughout the day and are purchased for a share price, which for some funds can be as low as $50. That can get you in the door of several ETFs for very little money.

The payoff

Not to question your stock-picking skills, but researching, selecting and managing individual stocks is challenging — even the pros can screw this up. Going with index funds could easily save you a few hours, or roughly six Pokemon Go sessions, a week.

» MORE: How to invest $500

4. Get help managing your money

An index fund makes investing easier, but if you still need help, you’re lucky to be living in an age when you can get it for cheap.

With a 401(k), that help is typically available through a target-date fund. This type of fund adjusts to take less risk as you age. You can pick one by using the date in its name, which is supposed to line up as closely as possible to when you plan to retire. So if you’re 25 now, for example, you’d add around 40 years and pick a fund tagged 2055 or 2060.

You’ll generally pay higher expenses in a target-date fund, but some investors find the simplicity is worth it. Keep in mind that you can always swap to a different fund later.

If you’re investing in an IRA, you could open that account with a robo-advisor, which is a computer-based investment management company. These companies charge a percentage of your account balance for their services. Many big players such as Wealthfront and Betterment cost less than 0.50%, and that includes investment expenses and management fees.

The payoff

Target-date funds have an average expense ratio of 0.57%; stock index funds average just 0.11%. Robo-advisors, as noted, might cost a total of 0.50% of your investments. But a little oversight and a buffer against your own mistakes earns you peace of mind, which could be well worth it.

5. Incrementally raise your savings rate

Starting where you are is just fine, and if that means contributing $100 or less, at least you’re putting away something. But over time, you need to save more, as $200,000 does not a retirement make.

To figure out how much you should shoot for, use a retirement calculator, preferably one that gives you a monthly savings goal. Then work your way there in little jumps. One of the easiest ways to do that: Up your savings rate every time you get a raise.

The payoff

Carrying through that 401(k) example, if you also increase your savings rate by half of every 3% annual raise, your balance at age 65 would be closer to $3 million.

Arielle O’Shea is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @arioshea.

7 New-Car Safety Features That Could Save Your Life

It happens in an instant. Maybe your kids are arguing in the back seat or it’s pouring rain. You lose control or focus while driving — and another car comes out of nowhere.

Ever wish your car could react for you? Maybe it can.

The auto industry is blooming with futuristic new ways to prevent collisions, check blind spots and change lanes automatically. The Mercedes-Benz E550 even senses when you’re driving drowsy and alerts you with a coffee cup icon. Welcome to the future.

In newer cars, these safety features — called advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS — are often included in the base model. They may also be offered in packages, such as “premium” or “technology,” or as single installations. If they’re not included, upgrading can cost thousands.

“They have the potential to prevent accidents and give you a little more awareness about what’s going on,” says senior consumer advice editor Ronald Montoya. “Unfortunately, the bundles are expensive packages, and I don’t want to tell anyone to spend more money than they need to.”

It’s hard to keep track of everything available and what’s worthwhile when you’re buying a new car. Here are some of the most common recent features:

1. Automatic parking

Squeezing into tight spots with other cars zooming past you, while carefully avoiding bumping fenders, can fry anyone’s nerves. Auto-park drivers need only pull up to the car in front of the open spot, and their cars use cameras and radar to park themselves. Drivers may still need to switch into reverse and drive, and regulate the brake pedal — but the hard part of twisting into the spot is taken care of.

Automakers have different versions, also known as Park Assistant or Active Parking. Toyota’s Prius can have Intelligent Parking Assist, and the Lexus LS has self-parking that both parallel and angle parks.

2. Adaptive cruise control

Today’s cruise control doesn’t just keep you at a certain speed — it also uses radar to detect traffic patterns and slows and speeds up accordingly. A driver still sets speed parameters as with normal cruise control but also selects how much distance to leave from the car in front. Adaptive cruise control is also usually blended with collision warning or automatic braking features.

This feature is ideal for stop-and-go traffic, long trips and jam-packed commutes. But it’s typically one of the priciest ADAS and can cost over $1,000 on its own.

3. Forward collision prevention/automotive emergency braking

Collision avoidance refers to a car’s ability to detect an impending collision with another vehicle or large object, and slow or stop before it happens. The system can be for highway speeds, but some operate only at lower speeds.

Rear-end collisions are extremely common, so 20 auto manufacturers committed to standardizing automatic braking on all new vehicles by September 2022.

4. Lane monitoring/lane departure warning

Lane monitoring uses road markings to detect if you’re drifting without a turn signal and will alert you with a sound, flashing light or vibration. More advanced systems intervene with corrective steering or braking. The feature favors highways, as it can have trouble reading country or suburban roads.

Several cars have more complex systems. For example, the Infiniti Q50S has hands-free lane keeping and slows and stops as cars in front of it do.

5. Blind-spot monitoring

Blind-spot monitoring is a favorite ADAS feature these days, with many shoppers making it a deal-breaking inclusion.

This feature senses cars in your blind spot and warns you with an audible or visual alert — often a ring of light around your sideview mirror. Some go further: showing camera footage of what’s in your blind spot. This is particularly helpful in SUVs and pickup trucks with difficult blind spots.

6. Backup camera

Few features offer such peace of mind as the backup camera. It’s the horrible truth that 50 children under age 15 are hurt or killed from back-over collisions every week in the U.S.

However, backup cameras are becoming more standardized. Also called rearview cameras, they provide live footage of what’s behind your car, viewable from a screen on your dashboard. As of their 2015 models, Acura, Buick, Honda and Infiniti equipped all vehicles with them, and other automakers are following. Federal rules will require backup cameras on all new vehicles starting in 2018.

7. Alertness monitoring

Long trips, bumper-to-bumper traffic and late nights can cause anyone to drift off — but the mistake can be disastrous. At least 846 people died in 2014 in accidents related to driving tired, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Automakers are combating this with sensors that detect erratic driving likely caused by tiredness, such as drifting across the road or sudden deceleration. Volvo calls its Driver Alert Control and warns drivers with an acoustic warning signal and visual alert. Volkswagen’s Fatigue Detection features do the same.

Your decision

These features can add important safety checks to your driving, but there’s no denying cost is still an obstacle. It will take time for ADAS to become standard, and adding premium packages can cost thousands. On the other hand, some car safety features can save you money on insurance.

For focused drivers on a tight budget, they may be less of a necessity. If you’re considering a newer model anyway and have distractions while driving (kids in the back seat, phone calls, frequent city driving), they can be a life-changing option.

Nicole Arata is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:

Simple Ways to Teach Your Children About Money

By Heather Castle

Learn more about Heather on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

As your children grow up, the lessons you teach them become more sophisticated. That should be true even when the topic is money.

But many people are uncomfortable discussing finances, so you might feel unsure of where to start or how to convey increasingly complex concepts.

Here are a few conversation starters and activities you can use to begin — and continue — teaching kids about money and personal finance.

1. Use cash

You can introduce even very young children to the idea of money through simple activities like shopping. Make cash purchases, and let your kids help count the money. Use coupons to teach them about discounts — and save some money at the same time.

Shopping can also show slightly older kids how to compare prices. For example, when you’re at the grocery store, point out price differences for various sizes of certain products. Describe how you’d calculate the price per ounce so your children can compare prices on their own.

2. Promote entrepreneurship

Starting businesses can get kids of all ages more comfortable with money. Younger kids can open lemonade stands; older kids can branch out into areas they enjoy. For example, a kid who likes to draw or paint could open a card-making business. A kid with a green thumb could start a flower or vegetable garden. Help them determine how much to charge for their goods by calculating the costs of production and adding a premium for their time.

You could also use this as an opportunity to give your children a loan and explain interest and the borrowing process.

It’s up to you how involved your children should become in their businesses, but starting one can be a fun and rewarding way for them to understand the value of work. And remember, it’s also a great way to spend time with your kids.

3. Set up a bank account

Once your kids are earning some money, whether through their own businesses or allowances, consider setting up bank accounts in their names. Kids will take great pride in it, and it will teach them about banking, saving and record keeping when they note deposits and withdrawals. If you want to get more in-depth, open up an interest-bearing account and show them how this interest can compound over time.

4. Create money goals

Now that your children have a place to put saved money, they can start setting it aside for things they want. Help them determine all of the costs associated with their goals and then develop a budget and a savings plan. It’s a great way to teach them about reducing expenses so they can reach their goals more quickly. And the more excited they are about their rewards, the more likely they are to stick with their budgets.

5. Encourage giving

If philanthropy is important to you, talk to your children about charitable donations. Help them research a few organizations that support causes they believe in, and then help them set and save up for a donation goal. Each time they get money for their birthdays, their allowances or from paychecks, encourage them to set some aside for the cause. And if the charity is local, consider volunteering together or visiting for a tour.

6. Open the door for investing

Just as bank accounts help kids learn about saving, opening simple investment accounts for young adults and teens can teach them the basics of investing. Pick a short list of stocks or other investments you’re comfortable with purchasing and help your children research the ones you’ve chosen to find their favorites. Then you can easily open low-cost trading accounts and help them buy stock. Many kids are amazed when they encounter a product from a company in their portfolio — they’re excited to have “ownership” in that company!

7. Discuss the risks of bad credit

Give older kids a lesson on credit scores. Explain that behaviors such as paying bills on time increase your score, while paying bills late or missing payments can lower it. You can also describe how having bad credit can make it harder for you to borrow money to pay for a car, school or a house, or even to rent an apartment — and make it more expensive to borrow when you are approved.

To make the lesson more tangible, pull your own free credit score and talk about how it has impacted your family. This can open up the conversation to other areas of your family’s finances, giving your children even greater understanding about earning, spending and saving. And as they get older, you can also help them decide how to protect themselves from identity theft, which can damage their credit scores.

8. Recruit outside help

Consider asking your family’s financial advisor or attorney to help explain complicated subjects such as trusts or IRAs. This will open lines of communication with these financial authorities so teens and college-age kids feel more comfortable talking with them in the future. Many professionals also speak at events for educational purposes. Attending a talk with your children can be beneficial.

By teaching your children about money early in their lives, you’ll help them start their journey toward financial independence. Fortunately, there many ways to get them started on the right foot financially.

Heather Castle, CFP, is the founder of Castle Wealth Advisors LLC in Los Angeles.

This article also appears on Nasdaq.

Mortgage Rates Today, Monday, Aug. 15: Only Small Moves

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates inched lower Monday, while 15-year fixed home loans and 5/1 ARM rates ticked higher, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders this morning.

Mortgage rates tread water

The NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees, the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Mortgage Rates: Aug. 15, 2016

(Change from 8/12)

30-year fixed: 3.58% APR (-0.01)

15-year fixed: 2.99% APR (+0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.49% APR (+0.01)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

A move back to Middle America?

Vibrant job markets on both coasts have drained the population of America’s heartland, but a new survey anticipates a reversal of this trend.

Zillow surveyed more than 100 housing experts about their future expectations for the industry. Over half of the respondents said they believe the migration from Middle America to the East and West coasts would reverse — and may have already begun — as businesses look for cheaper locations to expand.

It would mark a U-turn of a 10-year trend.

“Now, as labor markets tighten and the country approaches full employment, employers will have to look elsewhere to keep costs in check,” Dr. Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, said in a news release. “For some businesses, this will mean relocating away from expensive coastal areas to more affordable interior communities. Sooner or later, workers will follow the jobs, providing an impulse to local housing markets.”

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick.

How to Sell Your Old Phone

Have an old smartphone lying around? Don’t let it sit and collect dust. Instead, sell it for cash.

Online marketplaces make it easy to sell smartphones you’re no longer using. You just need to answer a few questions, post a picture or two, and wait for a buyer to bite.

Allan Hammell recently listed his wife’s Samsung Galaxy S5 on Swappa. It sold in 45 minutes.

“I don’t know how many phones that I have set aside thinking I might repurpose, but never got around to it,” says Hammell, a project manager from Minnesota. He netted about $100 from the sale after postage and fees. “Better to reclaim some value while it still is worth something,” he adds.

» MORE: 5 places to buy a used cell phone

Swappa gives users total control over the sale: You set the price, deal directly with potential buyers, and package and ship the phone when it’s sold. Other sites, including Gazelle, do most of the work for you.

Where to sell your old phone

Craigslist can have scammers on both sides of the transaction — but other sites protect both phone buyers and sellers. Here are a few to consider:

  • Swappa: Your phone must be fully functional to be listed on Swappa. That means the screen, buttons, battery and ports must all work. It must also have a “clean” serial number, meaning it’s not stolen or under a contract or repayment plan with a cell phone carrier. To create a listing with Swappa, submit a photo that shows the full device, with the screen on and case removed, next to a listing code provided by the site.
  • LetGo: This app, which is available on Apple and Android devices, lets you sell your phone locally. Start by downloading the app and creating an account using your email address, Facebook login or Google account. Then upload a photo. LetGo doesn’t charge fees to sell or buy phones. It also isn’t stringent about the condition of the phone, so you sell devices with a little more wear and tear.
  • NextWorth: Don’t want to deal with selling your phone? Trade it in for cash or a gift card. Just answer a few questions on NextWorth’s website to get a quote for your phone, then send it in for inspection to receive the final offer. If you agree to the price, you’ll receive payment within seven business days. If you don’t, they’ll return your phone at no cost to you, says Brendan McCue, a sales manager at NextWorth. You can also trade in tablets, laptops and other electronics.
  • Gazelle: This site works a lot like NextWorth. You select the make and model of your phone, as well as its condition and whether it’s factory unlocked or with a carrier, and Gazelle gives you a quote. Then send your phone in and wait for your payment via PayPal, check or Amazon gift card. Allow a week or two for your phone to be shipped and inspected and another seven to 10 business days if you opt to be paid via check. Payment via PayPal and Amazon is instant. Gazelle only accepts phones from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon.

» MORE: 4 surprising things about cell phone insurance

Another way to get cash from your phone: An old-fashioned garage sale.

Joe Howard recently sold his iPhone 4 for $50 at a garage sale he organized with a few friends in Washington.

“It wouldn’t turn on and there was no proof someone could get it working,” Howard says — but he adds that it was one of the first items to sell. “Considering I didn’t have to do any extra work at all to sell it, that was a win for me.”

Before the sale

Do a little housekeeping before you sell your old phone.

First, confirm that the phone is no longer under a contract or payment agreement with your carrier. If it is, your buyer won’t be able to activate it and your seller reputation could take a hit, making it hard to sell any used devices in the future.

» MORE: Still on your parents’ cell phone plan? Read this

One you have a buyer, Lauren Fairbanks — owner of Digital Remedy, a chain of electronics repair shops — recommends taking the following steps.

  • Back up your phone book, photos, videos and any other important information stored on your phone.
  • Unlink your accounts from your phone. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Google, iCloud, Find My Phone and Instagram.
  • Perform a factory reset to wipe any other stored data. On an Android device, go to “Settings” and select “Backup and reset,” then choose “Factory data reset.” On an iPhone, you’ll find the reset option under “Settings” and “General.”

Android users can also encrypt their data before performing the factory reset on their old device to ensure stray texts or selfies stored on the phone aren’t visible to its next owner. The same is true for anyone selling an iPhone 4 or older model. Apple owners with an iPhone 4S or newer need not take this step; your personal data is encrypted by default.

Kelsey Sheehy is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @KelseyLSheehy.

Mortgage Rates Today, Friday, Aug. 12: Standing Pat

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates moved a notch higher Friday, while 15-year fixed home loans fell slightly and 5/1 ARM rates were unchanged, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders this morning.

Mortgage rates lack direction

The NerdWallet Mortgage Rate Index compiles annual percentage rates — lender interest rates plus fees, the most accurate way for consumers to compare rates. Here are today’s average rates for the most popular loan terms:

Mortgage Rates: Aug. 12, 2016

(Change from 8/11)

30-year fixed: 3.59% APR (+0.01)

15-year fixed: 2.98% APR (-0.01)

5/1 ARM: 3.48% APR (NC)

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

Homeowners often surprised by the value of their home

Home values have been steadily climbing — in fact, median sales price reached another record high in June — but homeowners are often shocked by the value of their home as revealed by an appraisal. And it’s not always a pleasant surprise, according to research released by Quicken Loans.

“While those on the West Coast are being surprised by their high appraisals, homeowners in the Northeast and Midwest are more likely to be shocked by their low values,” Bob Walters, Quicken Loans chief economist, said in a news release. “If homeowners keep an eye on local home sales, they can be better aware of their current home value and not be shocked when they go to sell or refinance.”

The study found appraised values nationwide were an average of 1.69% lower than what homeowners expected in July. Appraised values were generally higher than homeowners’ perceptions in Denver, San Francisco and San Jose, California. However, homeowners in Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Chicago were more likely to be disappointed with their appraised values.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published APR with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. Annual percentage rate quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick.

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