These 8 Strategies Will Help You Pay Down Credit Card Debt When You Retire

Ah, retirement.

Lazy days in the hammock, bucket list trips to Europe, leisurely drives in your sports car.

Wait, you’ve spent more time jettisoning ideas than planning jet-setting excursions?

Despite your best savings efforts — and unexpected expenses — those idyllic retirement plans may have run into the stark reality that you didn’t end up with the nest egg you had planned on. In fact, you’re headed toward your golden years with credit card debt. Employee Benefit Research Institute

In 1992, 53.8% of families with the head of household ages 55 or older had debt. By 2016, that number had climbed to 68%.

Unfortunately, it’s a nationwide trend, as families just reaching retirement or those recently retired are more likely to have debt — and higher levels of it — than past generations, according to a study by the

Without your former income, you may be starting to worry about making the growing credit card payments on a fixed income, particularly when the average Social Security monthly benefit is $ 1,461.

Putting a dent — permanently — in credit card debt when you’re retired is possible, and we have seven ways to help pay off your debt so you can enjoy that hammock.

8 Ways to Help Pay Down Credit Card Debt in Retirement

Retirement offers unique opportunities and challenges when you’re paying off debt.

You may have new sources of income, like Social Security or a pension, and new expenses, like increased healthcare costs or fun stuff like travel.

So here are eight post-employment strategies that can help you pay down debt.

1. Make a Budget

Tackling credit card payment as you approach retirement starts by re-examining your budget.

Making changes to your lifestyle and using your free time to save money is a good place to start, according to Joseph Valenti, senior policy advisor with the AARP Public Policy Institute, in Washington, D.C.

“One thing we know from studies of retirement is that people have fewer set costs typically compared to when they were working,” he said. “If they have more time, maybe they will be preparing more meals at home.”

If you need help creating your budget, check out our step-by-step guide to budgeting or learn the basics in our Budgeting 101 Academy course.

Once you know where you stand financially, you can start looking for ways to cut the credit card balance.

2. Negotiate With Credit Card Companies

The best way to know where you stand is to look at the numbers — in this case, the interest rate on your cards. It’s easier to pay down a debt if you’re accumulating less interest on top of the original amount (learn more about compound interest in our Credit Cards 101 Academy course).

Asking your credit card company for a new rate is one option, particularly if you’re ready to commit to living credit card-free going forward, Valenti said.

“In some cases, even if you close that card, they will let you pay it down for little or no interest over a period of time,” Valenti said. “That’s assuming you don’t need the card again.”

Pro Tip

When you call the credit card company, the first person you talk to may not be able to help you, even if they think they can. Ask to speak with a manager who handles settlement arrangements.

Check out this post for more tips on negotiating credit card debt.

And if you’re too overwhelmed to deal with the creditors themselves, consider reaching out to a credit counselor, who can help you organize your accounts and may negotiate a lower interest rate for you.

3. Transfer Your Balance to a New Card

Loyalty isn’t necessarily rewarding. If you’ve had the same card for years, transferring your balance to a new card could give you a lower interest rate than you current provider can offer. Reap the most benefits by paying down as much debt as you can during the promotional period.

When you’re considering which card to go with, compare this information for all offers:

  1. Fees (typically at least $ 5 to $ 10 or 3% to 5% of the balance)
  2. Interest (look for 0%)
  3. Duration of the promotional APR (usually 12 to 18 months)
  4. Credit score requirements (generally good or excellent)
  5. Credit limits (make sure it’s more than your current balance)

Here’s what else to consider before transferring a balance.

4. Cut (Former) Work-Related Expenses

Still hanging on to that gym membership, even though you only signed up because it was close to your office?

By reviewing your monthly, periodic and annual budgets, you may discover work-related expenses that have become so habitual you’ve forgotten about them, according to Valenti, who gave transportation, clothing and cell phone expenses as examples.

Cancel subscriptions to professional associations and other automatic billings associated with work (an ink cartridge subscription, for instance) to avoid unwanted surprises at the end of the month. If you have trouble keeping up with recurring payments, try using a subscription tracking tool.

And if you still enjoy hitting the gym, cut costs by asking about senior discounts — AARP has many for its members.

5. Set Up Self-Imposed Limits

Before retirement, those little expenses that broke your budget one month may have been easier to cushion with your regular paycheck. And remembering them all may have been a little easier a few years ago.

To help you track the expenses and avoid unwanted surprises at the end of the month, Valenti suggested setting up alerts from your bank or credit card provider.

“It’s one thing to find out instantly through a text that you’ve reached a limit — even if it’s a self-imposed limit — as opposed to a statement that’s going to shock you at the end of a cycle,” Valenti said.

6. Ask for Professional (Financial) Help

If you’re overwhelmed by managing your day-to-day finances or fear forgetting to pay bills and sinking further in debt, consider hiring a daily money manager.

In addition to tracking bills, daily money managers can help you with balancing your checkbook, collecting tax documents, dealing with medical bills and even avoiding scams.

Pro Tip

Your bank must protect two months’ worth of Social Security benefits from a credit card collector’s garnishment. If your account has more than that, the bank can garnish or freeze the extra money.

Depending on where you live, a daily money manager may charge $ 75 to $ 150 an hour. However, the American Association of Daily Money Managers provides a list of state agencies that provide services to low-income and disabled seniors.  

7. Make Extra Money on Your Empty Nest

Now that the kids have moved out (hopefully), you’re stuck with that big, empty house.

One option for making money is to sell it and downsize to a smaller place, then use the profits to pay off credit card debt. But moving still requires an outlay of cash and can add additional stress as you’re adjusting to retired life.

If you’re seeking something a little less drastic, think about new ways to use your house — and its contents — to earn some cash today, advises Moira Somers, a wealth psychologist based in Winnipeg, Canada, and the author of “Advice That Sticks: How to Give Financial Advice That People Will Follow.”

“Look at the resources you have and say, ‘Could this turn into money somehow?’” she said. “One of the cool things about this period in our life is that there are sometimes ways we can make extra money that wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago — the whole AirBnb thing, for example.”

If you’re looking to make some money on your extra bedrooms, check out our post about how to become an Airbnb host.

And don’t forget about all those buried treasures in the attic. (Did you know that Urban Outfitters sells five-packs of random VHS tapes for $ 40? Yeah. That’s a thing.)

Somers notes taking a complete inventory of your assets — both physical and mental — can help you discover ways to pay down the debt you may not thought of before.

“Do that inventory not only of [your] job readiness skills and social network and what that might be able to help,” Somers said. “But also to look at your existing possessions and how might they be turned into either an income stream or a little bit of a cash infusion.”

8. Earn Extra Money by Working From Home    

When all else fails, there’s always work. But that doesn’t necessarily mean returning to the 9-to-5 grind.

Getting a work-from-home side gig in retirement provides extra money to pay off credit cards without the costs and hassle of your former commute to the office.

In addition to the income, a side job can help stave off the boredom — and resulting spending — that comes from suddenly having extra hours in the day.

Stick with trusted sites like our work-from-home jobs portal — we screen all listings using strict guidelines to help you avoid scammy employment offers.

And that should leave you plenty of time for your hammock.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder


Sam's Club Membership Offer

5 Life Insurance Wealth-Building Strategies for Black Families

Unfortunately, most people think of death when they think about life insurance. And few want to think or talk about dying. As you may know, designated beneficiaries receive a financial benefit at the time of a person’s death. However, there are several benefits of life insurance to leverage while alive. Here is a look at a few life insurance wealth-building strategies that black families can use.

First, while there are numerous types of life insurance options available, they fall into the categories of term insurance, permanent insurance, or a hybrid:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is the most economical because it provides coverage for a temporary time, like 10 years, 15 years, etc. Unfortunately, less than 1% of term insurance policies pay out. This is because people usually outlive the time frame of the plan.

Permanent Life Insurance

Permanent insurance provides coverage for a person’s entire life. Permanent life insurance policies build cash value. Cash value is a portion of the premiums paid that accumulates in a savings account. Over time, the accumulated cash earns interest and, in cases of mutual insurance companies (owned by its policyholders), dividends.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life is a hybrid of term and permanent life insurance plans. Universal life or UL is a term life insurance plan that can protect the insured for their entire life. If this type of policy is not designed correctly, it can become a big waste of money. If the plan is designed and managed properly, it can be an economical way to have permanent life insurance coverage.

5  Life Insurance Wealth-Building Strategies

Financial experts in the insurance industry share a few wealth building strategies of life insurance to enjoy while alive, as well as for legacy wealth.

Build a Bank of You

Permanent insurance policies have a forced savings mechanism. This accumulation of cash, called Cash Value, is like building your own bank and can be used for numerous things.

“Instead of borrowing money from a bank,” explains Kerry Peabody, CLU, CLTC of Clark Insurance, “the policy owner can take a loan against the cash value for numerous things, like supplemental retirement income, college funding, business startup, etc.”

Benefit While You’re Alive

The most valuable asset a person has is their health and ability to earn money to save, spend, invest and give. However, if diagnosed with a terminal illness, medical expenses can wipe out a person’s savings or inhibit their ability to build wealth while they are alive.

“Some life insurance providers offer an accelerated death benefit rider, which is a provision that allows the policyowner to receive a portion of the death benefit if they were to become terminally ill,” says Yogesh Shetty of Live Well & Earn Insurance. “If diagnosed with a terminal illness, you could cash out a portion of your life insurance to pay off medical expenses.”

[RELATED: Multiple Ways Life Insurance Can Build Wealth for Blacks and Community]

Forced Future Savings

If funds are tight, but life insurance coverage is needed and a seamless way to save money is desired, this type of term life insurance can be an excellent tool for wealth building.

“Return of Premium Term Life Insurance Policy is a great way to build wealth,” says Sa El, co-founder of Simply Insurance. “If the person outlives the term, the Return of Premium Life Insurance Policy will return all the premiums paid into the policy. It is like having protection with cash back.”

Create Trust Babies

Whether people have substantial or modest incomes, life insurance is a way to create trust babies and legacy wealth. A trust is a fund that consists of assets held by a designated trustee for the beneficiaries. The trust owner dictates how the assets will be disbursed to the beneficiary, from the grave, through the trustee.

“Once the Trust is established, the trust owner can designate the beneficiary, the disbursement terms, and the trustee.” El further explains, “A person gets 30 times their annual earned income of life insurance. For example, $ 50,000 income per year would equal to a $ 1.5 million term life insurance policy. They then establish the trust fund as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy and then designates the beneficiary of the trust. This strategy can change the financial landscape of a family and put them in a financially stable position.”

Use Cash Value as Collateral

Whether there is a need for capital for a business startup or business renovations, many minority business owners are having trouble getting approved for small business loans.

“Permanent life insurance policy cash values can be used as collateral for bank loans,” shares Adam Doran, a financial advisor at Prevail Innovative Wealth Strategies. “Even if the bank does not offer, ask if this option can be considered.”

Life insurance is not only a financial benefit to the family upon death; it can be a tool to enhance an investment portfolio and financial plan. Consult with a registered financial adviser or licensed insurance agent for tax and eligibility requirements.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post 5 Life Insurance Wealth-Building Strategies for Black Families appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise


Shop select Free People sale and clearance items at!

You Could Be Paying Less in Taxes With These 7 Strategies

They say it because it’s true: The only certain things in life are death and taxes.

While we’re still working on the whole immortality thing, we have found some ways to reduce that pesky bill from Uncle Sam each April.

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about tax evasion. Throwing some bones to the government is a way better alternative than going to jail. (And besides, who doesn’t like roads and public libraries?)

But there are some totally aboveboard ways to keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

Here are some ways to save money on taxes that won’t get you in trouble with Uncle Sam.

1. Reduce Your Taxable Income

One surefire way to not pay income tax: don’t earn any income!

Of course, for most of us, that plan won’t work. Unless you’re independently wealthy (or Bear Grylls-ing it in the woods somewhere), you need money to live on.

But there are ways to reduce your taxable income while still earning a living — and doing them might put you in a lower tax bracket. (To review: the amount you pay in income tax depends on how much of that income you earn, with higher earners being required, sensibly, to pay a higher percentage.)

The easiest way to reduce your taxable income — without throwing in the towel at work, of course — is to contribute to a tax-deferred retirement savings vehicle, like your company’s 401(k) plan.

Wages you defer to a 401(k) don’t count toward your taxable income for the year you make the contribution, though they will be taxed when you make withdrawals later.

Depending on how much you earn and how much you put away, you might be able to edge yourself down into a lower tax bracket… all while feeding your growing nest egg and setting yourself up for a comfortable retirement. Smart finances all around!

Which leads us to our second suggestion…

2. Contribute to a Traditional IRA

Woman managing the debt

Even if you already have a retirement savings account at work, like a 401(k) or a 457(b), you can still open and contribute to a traditional IRA (Individual Retirement Account) — you just need to have earned taxable income and not yet have reached age 70 ½.

What Is a Traditional IRA?

Just like that company-sponsored retirement plan we were talking about, the funds you contribute to your IRA don’t count toward your taxable income.

The exception: a Roth IRA, in which contributions are taxed today but then grow tax-free thereafter.

How Much Can You Contribute?

For 2018, you can contribute up to $ 5,500 to an IRA, or $ 6,500 if you’re over the age of 50. (Looking ahead to the future? 2019’s contribution caps have been raised to $ 6,000 and $ 7,000, respectively.)

Keep in mind that you have until tax day to max out your contribution for the previous calendar year.

An important caveat: If you’re a relatively high roller (i.e., you earn more than $ 100,000), you may not be able to deduct your full IRA contribution or any contribution at all.

Your specific eligibility will depend on whether you’re filing singly or jointly and whether or not you’re covered by a retirement plan at work; head to the IRS website for full details on these phase-out limits.

3. Consider a Health Savings Account

While IRAs are widely available and applicable to almost everyone, quite a few other investment accounts can get you this same kind of tax break.

What Is a Health Savings Account?

A Health Savings Account (HSA), is a tax-exempt option if your healthcare plan has a high deductible. Not only are your contributions deductible, but withdrawals aren’t taxed, either, as long as they’re used for qualified medical expenses.

How Much Can You Contribute?

In 2019, you can contribute up to $ 3,500 to an HSA if you have individual coverage, and up to $ 7,000 if your high-deductible health care plan (HDHP) covers a family.

And you don’t have to spend it all, either — you can leave funds in your HSA indefinitely since they’re not subject to required minimum distributions. (And if you’re like most of us, you’ll have more health care-related costs as you get older, anyway.)

However, do keep in mind that if you receive Medicare coverage, you might not be eligible to make HSA contributions, since you’ll have coverage outside of your HDHP.

4. Put Your Kids Through College

If you’ve got kids, chances are you’re already gritting your teeth just thinking about paying for college — even if you’re not planning on paying for all of it.

According to U.S. News & World Report, average costs range from $ 9,716 to $ 35,676 for a single year of education, so it’s important to get ahead of that bill now.

What Is a 529 Plan?

A 529 plan is an investment vehicle specifically built for educational savings. You can use it to pay for your kids’ college tuition — or even to send yourself or your spouse to school. The exact tax benefits vary by state, and the contributions aren’t deductible on your federal return.

But more than 30 states offer full or partial tax deduction or credits on 529 contributions, and the funds are allowed to grow tax-free. They won’t be taxed on withdrawal, either, so long as they’re used for qualified educational expenses.

What Expenses Qualify for the 529 Plan?

What qualifies, you ask? College tuition, fees, books and computers all count, and in some cases, it’ll cover room and board.  You can also take out up to $ 10,000 per year to pay for tuition at private or religious K-12 schools. (That’s $ 10,000 per beneficiary.)

But if you try to take the money out to pay for red Solo cups, you’ll be subject to regular income tax on the withdrawal, as well as an additional 10% penalty. So keep those noses in the books if you want to keep your own books nice and tidy!

5. Give It Away

Woman sorting through clothes in her home.

Looking for a way to save money on taxes… and get that warm, fuzzy feeling? Charitable donations are tax-deductible, and they can be a great way to lower your overall tax liability.

The easiest way to go about this strategy might be to just write a check to your favorite charity. But if you’re KonMari-ing your life, you can also itemize those trash-bagged Goodwill donations as deductions. (Of course, you will need to say “yes” when the attendant asks if you want a receipt, should you want to do so.)

But Keep the Books

Of course, doing so does mean keeping track of the estimated value of each of those old t-shirts and coffee makers. But lots of tax software includes tools to help you.

For instance, TurboTax’s ItsDeductible module will keep a running tally of your donations year-round, and help you make those value estimations in the first place.

The cans you drop off at the local food bank count, too, as do certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred by volunteering, such as gas and mileage.

You’ll save money while serving your community — what more could you ask of a tax-reduction strategy?

6. Know Your Deductions

You may already know that certain expenses are tax-deductible. But which ones, exactly?

Major medical bills: If you’ve spent more than 7.5% of your AGI (adjusted gross income) on qualified medical expenses, you may be able to write them off.

Student loan debt interest: Deductible up to $ 2,500

Mortgage interest and local property taxes: These may both be eligible for partial deductions — and if you’re a first-time buyer, you may be able to make penalty-free withdrawals from that IRA we were talking about earlier.

Charitable donations: These have a tax-deductible status, as mentioned above.

Business-related deductions: If you’re a freelancer or you work from home, you should also look into business-related deductions, like the cost of your home office space.

You might also be able to deduct certain supplies, travel expenses, and even meals and entertainment. Here are the full deets on freelancing deductions.

Itemizing your deductions does take time, however, and not everyone has enough to supersede the standard deduction — which is a fairly hefty $ 12,000 for single filers and $ 24,000 for joint filers in 2018.

So if you haven’t footed any of the expenses we mentioned, consider skipping this strategy.

7. Take Advantage of Tax Credits

In certain scenarios, the IRS extends credits to eligible taxpayers — for instance, those pursuing continued education or returning to school.

American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning Credits: Depending on your enrollment status, AGI, and how you’ve paid for educational expenses, you may be entitled to the American Opportunity or Lifetime Learning Credits, along with tuition and fee deductions. (Check out this quick quiz from the IRS, which will tell you if you’re qualified in just 10 minutes.)

Earned Income Tax Credit: If you’re not quite making fat stacks, you might be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit the IRS extends to low-to-moderate earners.

Your credit depends on your exact level of income as well as your marital status and number of dependents. For details, check out the IRS’ Earned Income Tax Credit fact sheet.

The cool thing about tax credits is that they don’t just reduce the amount you’ll pay in income taxes. Rather, they count as an actual reduction of your total tax bill.

So, for instance, if you would have owed $ 500 and claim $ 1,000 in tax credits, not only will your payment be waived — you’ll also receive a $ 500 return.

3 Ways to Save Money on Taxes Today and Tomorrow

A young couple going through their paperwork together at home

While the strategies above are great ways to get ahead of a nasty tax bill this year, taking a proactive approach can help you pay less in taxes every year hereafter. Here are our suggestions.

1. Adjust Your Withholdings.

If you work for an employer, you’ve filed a W-4 — which is the document where you specify how much of your wages should be withheld for taxes.

It might seem intuitive to keep your withholdings as low as possible so you keep more of your paycheck in your pocket. But if you found you owed money in April, you might want to go in and tweak it so you don’t run into the same problem next year.

2. Automate Your Contributions to Those Tax-Deferred Accounts.

Chances are your employer automatically deposits your deferrals into your 401(k). But if you open an IRA, HSA or 529, you’ll have to make contributions manually… and it’s all too easy to forget to do so (or, let’s be honest, spend the money on something else.)

Most account providers will allow you to set up automatic contributions on a regular basis, be it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. That way, you’ll be sure to add enough funds to the account to significantly lower your tax bill while boosting the savings you’ll use for those qualified expenses down the line.

3. Work for Yourself? Don’t Forget to Pay Your Quarterlies!

Freelancers get a lot of autonomy, but it does come with a substantial drawback: Nobody’s withholding your taxes for you, so you’ve got to pay them yourself.

And if you don’t keep up with your estimated quarterly tax payments — or if you forget about self-employment tax, which adds an additional 15% to the usual 20% — you could be facing a downright scary situation come April.

So funnel about a third of every paycheck you make into a separate account, and label it “PROPERTY OF UNCLE SAM: DO NOT TOUCH.”

It can be painful to see how much of your hard-earned hustle money has to be shipped off to the government… but not nearly as painful as having to cut a five-figure check come springtime.

Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool, Roads & Kingdoms and other outlets. Learn more at

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder


Sam's Club Membership Offer

Spring Cleaning for Your Budget: 9 Strategies for Organizing Your Finances

I want to like spring cleaning. I go nuts for the New Year and Lent, because I’m all about self-improvement. Similarly, spring cleaning is a time to reorganize and start over in many areas.

But I despise it. I hate any cleaning, really. Folding laundry is about the only thing I do that qualifies as housework.

Lately, however, I’ve been seeing posts about “financial spring cleaning.” Applying spring cleaning to money? This idea is perfect for me! I can work toward self-betterment without having to pick up a sponge.

How to Spring Clean Your Finances and Organize Your Personal Budget

Here are a few ways you can scrub the dirt off your finances this spring.

By the way, you don’t have to take on all nine of these goals. Actually, please don’t! When I read lists like this one, my perfectionism kicks in and I get overwhelmed by how many changes I think I should make.

Just choose one way to clean your financial home this spring. Maybe two ways, if you’re feeling adventurous. Remember, your goal is progress, not perfection.

Start with one small, measurable goal. The sense of empowerment you will experience from being successful in that area can give you the confidence to take on the next small challenge.

1. Reevaluate Your New Year’s Resolutions

Maybe you set financial New Year’s resolutions for 2019. But considering the success rate for resolutions (how’s that exercise program going?), there’s a good chance you’ve let at least one of those goals fall by the wayside.

Resist the urge to see yourself as weak; instead, consider yourself older and wiser. Spring is the perfect time to modify resolutions that weren’t realistic.

So you didn’t make any resolutions? That’s OK. Peruse the rest of the ideas on this list and choose one or two personal spring cleaning goals that feel manageable.

2. Start an Emergency Fund

It’s a common opinion that people should have at least three months’ expenses in savings at any given time. Then if you lose your job or your car breaks down, your life doesn’t suddenly fall apart.

Guess how much money I have in my emergency fund? A whopping $ 0. Yeah, starting an emergency fund has earned its place at the top of my spring cleaning list.

To start your emergency fund, calculate your expenses for one month. Consider the cost of rent, utilities, transportation, insurance and debt. Don’t forget sneaky expenses such as personal hygiene products.

Then multiply that number by three. That’s how much money you should aim to have in your emergency fund.

Where should you open an account? The key is that you want your money to be accessible in case of an emergency, but not so accessible that you’re tempted to withdraw it when you want to go on a weekend trip with your friends.

I recommend opening a separate savings account with your bank or a money market account. Money market accounts typically require a higher minimum balance, but the interest rate can be higher — which means more money for you!

3. Keep Track of Your Debts

For six months, I was aware that I had debts to repay. I knew that I owed my in-laws money, that my husband had some vague amount to repay on his student loans, and that I had a little credit card debt (although precisely how much was on each of my three cards was a bit fuzzy).

I finally took 30 minutes to create a spreadsheet in Excel listing all our debts, including the grand total. I update that document every Monday.

Seeing everything in print gives me a better idea of where we are financially. And every time that grand total gets smaller, I do a little dance in my chair!

Looking at those numbers every Monday, especially the total, gives me the momentum to keep chipping away at our debt.

4. Sort Out Your Credit Cards

Everyone’s credit card situation is different.

If you have eight credit cards and little willpower, consider canceling a few of those cards. (But first, check how canceling your credit card could affect your credit score. Canceling isn’t always the best idea.)

If you have a low credit score but high willpower, maybe you should get a card and use it responsibly to establish good credit.

I (incorrectly) held the belief that credit cards were pure evil for years. But some credit cards pay you for signing up, hook you up with travel points, or give you extended warranties on certain purchases.

Do your research and find out how you can make credit cards work for you rather than against you. I recently paid off the last of my credit cards that carried a balance. Yay, me! Now I’m trying to decide on my next step.

5. Act to Improve Your Credit

First of all, if you don’t already know your credit score, get a free credit report. If you don’t like what you see, don’t freak out; there are plenty of ways to boost that number!

Simply paying off your debts and paying your bills on time can improve your score. If you’re not sure what’s keeping your credit score so low, check out Credit Sesame. The free site lays out exactly what factors are affecting your credit score and offers advice on how to change them.

A few years ago, I had good credit, but I wanted excellent credit. So I set up a loan with my bank. They gave me $ 2,000 to pay back over two years. I immediately put that money in a separate account, set up automatic withdrawals and never had to worry about it. (Except when I had to take out money a couple times for emergencies. See why I’m motivated to set up an emergency fund?)

That was the easiest way I could have imagined to improve my credit score. I got it all set up in just one trip to the bank and ended up raising my credit score to 787.

6. Set Short Term Goals for Your Side Hustle

Whether you’re a freelance writer, Uber driver or Etsy shop owner, it’s always good to set clear objectives.

Setting concrete goals has helped me understand my long-term vision for my freelance writing side gig. I created a list of aims, and that document acts as a source of accountability. I look at that list whenever I decide whether to take on a new project.

I ask myself, “Is this decision in line with my goals? Is it helping me move toward my long-term vision?” Setting goals has motivated me to take action.

I now have a couple of steady gigs, so I’ve started setting monthly and weekly financial goals, as well.  With fewer surprises, I can plan for how much of this extra money I want to channel toward paying off my debts.

7. Contribute More to Your Retirement Account

If you’re contributing anything to your retirement account, high five!

But if the very thought of doing financial spring cleaning depresses you, make your “one thing” to bump up your 401(k) or IRA contributions a tad. If you currently contribute 4% of your income, try bumping it up to 5% or 6%. Chances are, your wallet won’t feel the difference. If you find out your budget can’t handle the financial strain, you can decrease your contribution later.

Increasing your contribution by such a small amount may not seem worth it. But don’t forget the power of compound interest!

If you haven’t opened a retirement account yet and don’t know what all these letters mean, don’t panic. Read this simple explanation of a 401(k) and IRA. It’s never too late to start. My mom is kicking herself for putting off contributing to a 401(k) until 10 years ago, but hey, at least she started!

8. Begin Investing

Making your first investment is daunting. Especially if you’re like me and know nothing about the subject.

I urge you to take that leap, though. When you invest, your money makes you more money. There are several ways to take your first step.

My husband and I chose to pass the torch to our financial advisor. We set up automatic withdrawals with his company to put money into our IRAs. Since we are still in the early stages of saving for retirement, once we hit a certain balance in those accounts, our advisor will start making investments from our IRA nest eggs to help the accounts grow. We won’t have to worry at all.

If you don’t want to pay an advisor, ask a family member or friend who understands investing to take you under their wing and explain their strategy.

You can also use apps to get started. We checked them and found the best apps to help you start investing here.

9. Consider Your Insurance Needs

My brother’s apartment burned down at 32 years old, and he lost almost everything. Believe it or not, the exact same thing happened when he was 20! (Neither fire was his fault, by the way.)

While upsetting, the second fire was far less financially devastating because he had renter’s insurance. The insurance company paid for food and a hotel while he looked for a new place to live and gave him $ 10,000 to replace items lost in the fire.

We like to think we don’t need insurance. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it. But if you don’t have renter’s, homeowner’s, life or catastrophic insurance (for those of you whose employers don’t offer medical insurance)… seriously look into it.

Of course, not everyone needs all these types of insurance! Carefully review your needs to see which ones you should consider, and which aren’t necessary for you.

Don’t freak out if you haven’t already accomplished all nine of these tasks. That’s what spring cleaning is for! Focus on one thing this season, whether it’s purchasing renter’s insurance or bumping up your credit score. Happy spring!

Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer who is always looking for ways to save money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder


Sam's Club Membership Offer

Switch up your networking strategies for career success

There’s a misconception that networking is strictly for job hunting, but the most successful people do it on a daily basis, all year long. Your network is your professional currency, and trust me, you want to be rich. And it’s not Instagram followers you need, but meaningful connections in real life. Kathryn Rose, CEO and…
Living | New York Post


Effective self-control strategies involve much more than willpower

It’s mid-February, around the time that most people waver in their commitment to the resolutions they’ve made for the new year. Many of these resolutions require us to forego a behavior we want to engage in for the one we think we should engage in. In a new report, leading researchers in behavioral science propose a new framework that outlines different types of self-control strategies and emphasizes that self-control entails more than sheer willpower to be effective.
Consumer Behavior News — ScienceDaily


Don’t Lose Your Home. Fight Eviction With These 4 Strategies

A few months before the housing market began to implode, 22-year-old Alisa Daly and her boyfriend — now husband — were expecting their first child.

Working at a small trucking company in Arizona, she was close friends with the office manager, and her mother worked for the same firm. So Daly was shocked when her mom called and told Daly she was about to be laid off. Then, a few months after that, the couple’s car broke down and her boyfriend was fired when he didn’t show up for work.

“It made us feel miserable, overwhelmed, depressed and angry,” Daly says.  “We couldn’t get a job anywhere, doing anything. And no one would hire someone that was pregnant.”

As a renter in 2007, she was able to avoid eviction, unlike the 958,000 tenants who were evicted during the housing crisis. But she was on the precipice of a life-changing, community-altering tragedy, according to recent data compiled by the Eviction Lab, a project spearheaded by Princeton University professor Matthew Desmond with millions of dollars in support from the Gates, JPB and Ford Foundations and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Luckily, Daly, now a homeowner, negotiated a week-to-week payment plan to avoid falling behind in rent — demonstrating what experts say is your best bet if you’re facing eviction. She said dividing the rent into weekly amounts made it easier to budget for.

But when she moved to break her lease after an attempted burglary at her apartment, she also avoided any additional fees by hiring a lawyer and arguing that the landlord had violated the lease by not maintaining the apartment adequately — another option to fight an eviction proceeding.

Even as foreclosures have fallen 67% since the Great Recession, rental evictions declined only 9.6% to 898,479 in 2016, the latest year that statistics are available. And with experts growing concerned about housing affordability, particularly for renters, and wages remaining mostly stagnant, the eviction epidemic is likely to continue.

“If you live in a community that is plagued by eviction, then it is absolutely an epidemic, but it’s an epidemic that’s always been occurring,” said David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference and former housing policy adviser at the U.S. Treasury Department. “And if you don’t live in one of those communities, it’s an epidemic that’s been easy to ignore.”

Here’s Some General Advice on How to Stop an Eviction

A mattress and other belongings are piled hapazardly on a sidelwalk outside the garage door of a house.

Since the Eviction Lab had difficulty compiling all eviction records from some states, including New York and California, the real numbers of people evicted are likely in the millions each year. It could be your neighbor. A family member. It might even be you.

As Alisa Daly’s story shows, you could end up facing eviction through no fault of your own.

Maricopa County, Arizona, Judge Pro Tem Jeremy Rovinsky can see 100 eviction proceedings during a busy day as he does temporary time behind the bench in civil court.

“It’s very difficult for me I have to look people in the eye, people who are struggling, people who are suffering, and tell them they have to leave their home,” he says. “The worst part of my job is having go look them in the eye and say this is the law.”

So how does an eviction work?

First, it’s illegal for landlords to try to evict you by themselves by changing the locks, turning off utilities or through any other method. They must go through the court system.

In most cases, you’ll be served with a notice to vacate, after which you will go before a judge. Be aware that it’s rare for a tenant to win an eviction case for nonpayment. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a law enforcement officer will show up and you’ll be forced out of your home.

Although specific eviction laws vary state-by-state, there are some general things you can do if you are facing eviction due to nonpayment of rent. Below, you can see the specific time frames landlords must follow during eviction proceedings, depending on your state.

Negotiate Any Way You Can With Your Landlord or Leasing Company

Usually, it’s in your landlord’s best interest to work out a payment plan so you don’t fall too far behind on rent. For Daly, that meant a week-to-week plan, but it could even be a grace period until you get back on your feet.

But be certain you get whatever agreement you come to in writing.

“[The landlord] neither wants the headache of going to court [n]or that apartment empty,” Rovinsky says.

Documents, Documents, Documents

Depending on your state, or county, there are technicalities that could force your landlord to halt eviction proceedings. These include failure to keep up the property or any sort of retaliation for demanding the landlord follow local tenant laws.

But you’ll need plenty of evidence. Hang on to your lease and read it thoroughly — or if you lost it, pick up a copy from your local Clerk of the Court. Save emails, memos and letters from your landlord and take photos of the property.

“Pictures really are worth 1,000 words in these situations,” said Alan Mills, executive director of the Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago. “Judges have to figure out who’s telling the truth, and the more documentation, the better chance you have.”

Find a Legal-Aid Service or Church Group Near You

With all of the fine print in each state’s landlord-tenant laws, it was difficult enough just researching this article. If you lose a job, and especially if you have a family to look after, it can be head-spinning to figure out your legal options in an eviction process.

For one, know that a landlord can never lock you out or turn off the utilities — so stay calm and figure out your next move with the help of a local legal-aid office. Most are low-cost or free, and because they focus on working with marginalized folks, they’ll likely have an expert on tenants’ rights.

Rovinsky, the Arizona judge, recently had an eviction case in which a church congregation stepped in with $ 500 so a tenant could afford to avoid eviction for at least that month. Sometimes it can take just a month for you to get back on your feet.

Have a Backup Plan if You Can’t Fight the Eviction

“Make a contingency plan,” Mills says. “The worst thing that can happen to anyone is having the sheriff come put your stuff out on the street.”

That means using what savings you may have to rent a cheap storage unit for a month. And make sure you have a plan to keep your kids and family in place — whether that be with relatives or a homeless shelter.

Your first step should be to call the nationwide resource assistance hotline 211.

Once you are stabilized, know that an eviction will remain on your record. So before you pay for a background check when you are looking for a new apartment or home to rent, be up front with the landlord. You could spend half a month’s rent on background checks alone if you get denied a few times, Mills said.

But don’t lose hope; nonpayment of rent is the least harmful type of eviction to have on your record.

“If landlords only rented to people who have never been evicted, there would be a lot of open property,” Rovinsky said. “It doesn’t mean you’ll never rent again or that your life is over.”

Here Are State-By-State Eviction Guidelines

A couple who look sad hug in a room that is filled with moving boxes.

These brief guidelines will help you understand the timeline and some rights you have as a tenant if you can’t pay rent on time. There are many legal variations in each jurisdiction and even by housing type — and we are not authorized to give legal advice — so we have provided contact numbers for legal-aid services and tenants’-rights groups.

These organizations should help you understand your rights better and may help fight a potential eviction.

The Penny Hoarder also analyzed eviction rates — the percentage of rental properties where tenants faced an eviction in 2016 — to show the cities with the most evictions. For context, the national eviction rate is around 2.3%.

Alabama Arizona Arkansas California Colorado
Connecticut Delaware Washington DC Florida Georgia
Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont
Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming


In Alabama, the landlord must give the tenant notice and seven days to vacate unless the rental agreement is met. During that week, the tenant can pay the rent and the landlord is legally not allowed to pursue an eviction.

Legal Services Alabama, Statewide, 866-456-4995

Montgomery — 5.82%

Gadsden — 5.53%

Hueytown — 3.76%

Tillman’s Corner — 3.76%

Mobile — 3.66%


In Arizona, where Rovinsky hears cases, tenants have five days’ notice ahead of being evicted. But there are three ways to fight an eviction in this state: Pay the rent in full within the five days; pay the rent in full and cover any applicable late fees after five days; or, before a final judgment, pay the rent, late fees and any court costs.

Drexel Heights — 6.15%

Tucson — 6.03%

Casas Adobes — 2.91%

Marana — 2.53%

Catalina Foothills — 1.99%


In Arkansas, landlords have two ways to evict you from your rental: a civil lawsuit or a criminal charge. If they pursue the former, they have to give you a three-day written notice that they will be suing you for “unlawful detainer” if you don’t vacate the property. After you receive a court summons, you have five days to object to the eviction.

In the case of a criminal charge, they will give you a 10-day notice of failure to vacate. If you don’t leave in 10 days, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and could be fined up to $ 25 for each additional day you stay.

Legal Aid of Arkansas, Jonesboro, 800-967-9224

Center for Arkansas Legal Services, Little Rock, 501-376-3423

Legal Aid of Arkansas, Statewide, 800-952-9243

Jacksonville — 1.99%

Marion — 1.96%

West Memphis — 1.85%

Little Rock — 1.76%

North Little Rock — 1.68%*

*These are eviction filings as opposed to actual evictions.


California law requires landlords to provide a three-day notice to vacate. If a tenant doesn’t pay rent within those three days, the landlord can file an eviction.

Bay Area Legal Aid, Oakland, 510-663-4755

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, 323-801-7991

Hemet — 5.08%

Moreno Valley — 4.81%

Perris — 3.31%

Arden-Arcade — 2.97%

Rancho Cordova — 2.86%


Like California, Colorado also provides a three-day window before landlords can move to evict a tenant. But in this state, if you pay rent within that three-day period, the landlord can’t proceed with the eviction. If the tenants move out within three days, they are still liable for rent, and if the security deposit doesn’t cover the amount owed, the landlord may sue the tenant for the difference.

Colorado Affordable Legal Services, Denver, 303-996-0010

Northglenn — 6.24%

Aurora — 5.52%

Welby — 5.4%

Sherrelwood — 5.16%

Thornton — 4.64%


Connecticut has one of the more lenient nonpayment-of-rent laws, with the tenant given a nine-day period before the landlord can begin pursuing an eviction. But after that time frame, the landlord can give a three-day notification to move out of the rental.

Then, as in other states, a judge will weigh both sides during an eviction hearing if the tenant wants to challenge the eviction.

Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Hartford, 860-247-4400

Connecticut Legal Services, Middletown, 860-344-0447

Waterbury — 6.1%

Hartford — 5.73%

Bridgeport — 5.03%

New Britain — 4.68%

Meriden — 4.45%


Tenants in Delaware have five days after the missed rent period to pay their landlord (once served with a notice to pay). If they don’t pay in that time frame, they will have to either fight the eviction in court or vacate the premises.

Legal Services Corporation of Delaware, Wilmington, 302-734-8820; 302-575-0408

Delaware Legal Help Link, Statewide, 302-478-8850

Wilmington — 7.62%

Glasgow — 7.05%

Dover — 6.94%

Bear — 6.04%

Brookside — 4.29%

Washington DC

In Washington, D.C., a landlord has to provide a 30-day window for the renter to pay rent in full with an official notice. But this is sometimes waived in rental agreements.

If a judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant has three days before removal from the property. D.C. is also a “pay-and-stay” jurisdiction, where tenants have until U.S. Marshals remove them from the rental to pay the rent and associated late fees.

D.C. Tenants’ Rights Center, Washington, 202-681-6871

Howard University School of Law Fair Housing Clinic, Washington, 202-806-8082

Districtwide — 2.59%


In the Sunshine State, a landlord must send an official three-day notice for the tenant to pay rent. If the tenant pays within three business days of receiving the notice, the landlord cannot legally proceed with an eviction. But, if you fail to pay rent within those three days, you will be served with a summons and have five days to respond to the eviction lawsuit

Florida Housing Coalition, Tallahassee, 850-878-4219

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, 904-356-8371

Lauderhill — 7%

Pine Hills — 5.88%

Jacksonville — 5.34%

University (Tampa area)  — 5.26%

Miramar — 4.65%


Landlords in Georgia do not have to wait between notifying tenants about missing rent and filing an eviction notice. So once tenants receive a notice, they may end up in eviction court right away.

Also, Georgia law doesn’t require a written eviction notice, so a landlord can verbally serve an eviction notice. But Georgia law does allow the tenant to pay without penalty the owed rent within seven days after receiving a court summons.

Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, 404-521-0790

Georgia Legal Services Program, Atlanta, 404-206-5175

Redan — 13.99%

Union City — 11.67%

East Point — 11.3%

Candler-McAfee — 11.17%

Warner Robins — 10.69%


Landlords in Hawaii must provide tenants with a written five-day notice before pursuing an eviction.

Hawaii Fair Housing Enforcement Program at Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Honolulu, 808-536-4302

Hilo — 0.51%

Kihei — 0.41%

Kahului — 0.26%


Idaho law also requires a written three-day notice be provided to the tenant before proceeding with the eviction process. A tenant can pay rent within that window to stop the eviction proceedings.

Also, Idaho law allows tenants to withhold rent to request repairs..

Idaho Legal Aid Services, Boise, 208-336-8980

Nampa — 1.31%

Post Falls — 1.29%

Burley — 1.2%

Caldwell — 1.18%

Twin Falls — 1.16%


Illinois law calls for a five-day notice before a tenant can be sued for eviction. If the tenant pays rent in that time frame, the landlord can’t pursue an eviction.

Illinois Tenants Union, Chicago, 773-478-1133

Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, Chicago, 312-986-4000

Matteson — 5.92%

Crest Hill — 5.5%

Kankakee — 5.35%

East St. Louis — 5.27%

Bolingbrook — 4.67%


Indiana may have a high eviction rate compared with the rest of the country, but it does have a more lenient landlord-tenant law, at least when it comes to the notice. Landlords are required to provide a 10-day written notice before filing suit, during which time the tenant can pay back rent.

Indiana Legal Services, Statewide, 844-243-8570; Bloomington office, 812-339-7668 or 800-822-4774

Indiana University Bloomington Tenant Assistant Project

Griffith — 11.27%

Marion — 8.52%

Elkhart — 8.50%

Auburn — 8.06%

Kokomo — 7.95%


Iowa landlords are required to give tenants a three-day window to pay the owed rent before filing an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant pays rent during that time frame, the landlord can’t sue for eviction.

Iowa Legal Aid, Statewide, 800-532-1275

Waterloo — 5.73%

Davenport — 4.72%

Clinton — 4.02%

Ottumwa — 3.72%

Council Bluffs — 3.49%


In Kansas, landlords must provide a three-day notice for tenancies that have lasted less than three months and a 10-day notice for those that have been in place longer.

Kansas Legal Services, Topeka, 800-723-6953

Edwardsville — 7.68%

Park City — 6.88%

Kansas City  — 5.60%

Bonner Springs — 4.86%

Wichita — 4.44%


In Kentucky, tenants are given a seven-day window to pay rent before a landlord can pursue eviction. But like most states, a tenant can fight the eviction in court if the landlord did not hold up his or her end of the lease agreement.

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, Lexington, 859-431-8200

Kentucky Legal Aid, Western Kentucky, 866-452-9243

Legal Aid Society, Louisville, 502-584-1254

Shively — 5.45%

Franklin — 4.84%

Louisville — 4.82%

Lexington-Fayette — 4.59%

Campbellsville — 4.48%


Louisiana law calls for a five-day notice before a landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. However, that five days is only a grace period to vacate; the state does not allow the tenant to pay rent and avoid eviction.

Legal Services of North Louisiana, Shreveport, 318-222-7186

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Baton Rouge, 225-448-0331; Hammond, 985-345-2130; Covington, 985-893-0076

Woodmere — 7.23%

Baton Rouge — 6.45%

Slidell — 5.49%

Baker — 5.13%

Marrero — 4.30%


In Maine, a tenant must fall seven days behind in rent before a landlord can issue a notice of eviction. After that, a tenant has seven days to pay rent to stop the eviction proceedings.

Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Portland, 207-774-8211

Waterville — 5.25%

Lewiston — 4.79%

Sanford — 4.68%

Augusta — 4.28%

Biddeford — 4.25%


Maryland is one state that has no notification period for landlords who want to evict a tenant. Technically, they can sue a tenant for eviction the day after they serve the resident with a notice.

Still, if tenants pay rent, late fees and court costs on or before the day of the hearing, they can avoid eviction.

Public Justice Center, Baltimore, 410-625-9409

Maryland Legal Aid, Baltimore, 410-951-7777

South Laurel — 7.14%

Chillum — 3.37%

Bowie — 1.93%

Laurel — 1.88%

College Park — 1.50%


To avoid being sued for eviction, tenants in Massachusetts have a 14-day period to pay rent or vacate their rental after a landlord serves legal papers.

Alliance of Cambridge Tenants, 617-499-7031

Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-818, ext. 4

Haverhill — 2.93%

Lynn — 2.75%

Weymouth — 2.71%

Brockton — 2.69%

Framingham — 2.53%


Michigan-based landlords must serve a written seven-day notice before they can file to evict a tenant. The tenant can pay the owed rent within that window to remain in the rental, however.

Lakeshore Legal Aid, Statewide, 888-783-8190

Michigan Poverty Law Program, Ann Arbor, 734-998-6100

Muskegon — 10.91%

Saginaw — 10.54%

Battle Creek — 9.98%

Dearborn Heights — 9.82%

Jackson — 9.71%


In Minnesota, landlords aren’t required to give any notice before pursuing an eviction unless the tenant is “at will” — meaning under an informal, usually month-to-month lease. In that case, a landlord must provide a 14-day notice to vacate before suing for eviction.

Home Line, Minneapolis, 866-866-3546

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, St. Paul, 888-575-2954

East Bethel — 2.59%

Brooklyn Park — 1.86%

Brooklyn Center — 1.44%

Moorhead — 1.38%

Ramsey — 1.23%


Mississippi law requires a three-day notice to pay rent before a landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against a tenant for nonpayment.

Mission First Legal Aid, Jackson, 601-608-0050, ext. 2

Mississippi Center for Legal Services, Statewide, 800-498-1804

Horn Lake — 11.90%

Gulfport — 9.68%

Pascagoula — 9.38%

Jackson — 8.75%

Southaven — 7.86%


Unlike most states, Missouri doesn’t have a specific time requirement for a landlord to demand rent before filing an eviction. However, most legal sites do recommend that landlords give at least three days’ notice.

Arch City Defenders, St. Louis, 855-724-2489

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, St. Louis, 314-534-4200 or 800-444-0514

Spanish Lake — 14.33%

Old Jamestown — 12.76%

Bellefontaine Neighbors — 11.51%

Berkeley — 9.13%

Murphy — 8.75%


In Montana, a a tenant has three days to pay rent upon being served with a notice of late payment by the landlord.

Montana Legal Services Association, Statewide, 800-666-6899

Evergreen — 3.69%

Lockwood  — 2.02%

Hardin — 1.92%

Butte-Silver Bow — 1.86%

Great Falls — 1.81%


In Nebraska, a landlord must serve a three-day notice to a tenant who is late on rent. The renter can avoid eviction by paying within that three-day window.

Legal Aid of Nebraska, Statewide, 877-250-2016

Plattsmouth — 4.79%

Omaha — 3.87%

Waverly — 3.24%

Chalco — 2.68%

Bellevue — 2.63%


Nevada state statutes require landlords to serve a tenant with a five-day notice to pay rent before proceeding with an eviction. If the tenant pays rent in that window, the landlord can’t pursue the eviction.

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, 702-386-1070

Nevada Legal Services, Las Vegas, 702-386-0404; Reno, 775-284-3491 or 800-323-8666

Whitney — 6.82%

North Las Vegas — 5.82%

Sunrise Manor — 5.31%

Winchester — 5.15%

Paradise — 4.33%

New Hampshire

New Hampshire law provides a one-week time frame for a tenant to pay rent to avoid eviction. This seven-day period begins when the landlord serves the tenant with a written notice, and tenants can pay rent in full plus $ 15 during that period.

New Hampshire Legal Aid, Statewide, 800-639-5290

(No data on percentage of evictions available.)

New Jersey

New Jersey law doesn’t require a landlord to give a tenant a window to pay rent that is owed, so a tenant may face an eviction lawsuit immediately after failing to pay rent.

New Jersey Tenants Organization, Fort Lee, 201-342-3775

Fair Share Housing Center, Cherry Hill, 856-665-5444

South Plainfield — 0.07%

Newark — 0.05%

Westfield — 0.04%

Clifton — 0.03%

East Orange — 0.03%

New Mexico

New Mexico law requires landlords to serve tenants with a three-day notice to pay rent before pursuing an eviction.

New Mexico Legal Aid, Statewide, 833-545-4357

Albuquerque — 4.72%

Clovis — 3.58%

Roswell — 3.53%

South Valley — 3.10%

Grants — 2.93%

New York

New York landlords must give tenants three days to pay rent before pursuing an eviction. If the renter pays within that window, the landlord can’t sue for eviction.

Legal Services NYC, New York, 917-661-4500

Legal Services of Central New York, Syracuse, 877-777-6152

Poughkeepsie — 2.76%

Auburn — 1.74%

New York — 1.615 (Bronx, 6.23%, Brooklyn, 1.28%, Staten Island, 3.42%)

Watertown — 1.45%

Middletown — 0.95%

North Carolina

If a tenant is late paying rent in North Carolina, the landlord must serve a written notice that gives the renter 10 days to pay before filing an eviction. If the tenant pays within that window, the landlord can’t proceed with the eviction.

Pisgah Legal Services, Statewide, 828-253-0406, 800-489-6144

Graham — 11.14%

Kinston — 10.24%

Shelby — 9.10%

Henderson — 9.08%

Wilson — 8.60%

North Dakota

In North Dakota, a landlord must provide the tenant a three-day notice of eviction, and it must be served by a process server or deputy.


In Ohio, the landlord must give a tenant a three-day notice before suing for eviction. However, unlike in other states, the landlord is not obligated to accept a rent payment during that period or halt the eviction process.

Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, 513-241-9400, 800-582-2682

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Tenant Information Line, Cleveland, 216-861-5955. (For legal help, dial 216-687-1900 or 888-817-3777.)

Legal Aid Society of Columbus, 614-241-2001

East Cleveland — 8.87%

Middletown — 8.41%

Canton — 8.34%

Euclid — 7.93%

Trotwood — 7.72%


Oklahoma law requires a landlord to serve the tenant with a five-day notice to pay rent before pursuing an eviction.

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, 405-521-1302

Neighbor for Neighbor, Tulsa, 918-425-5578

Tulsa — 7.77%

Del City — 7.32%

Midwest City — 6.63%

Durant — 6.46%

Oklahoma City — 6.19%


Oregon has a more lenient law for nonpayment of rent, with a landlord required to wait eight days before serving the tenant with a notice of eviction. Then, the tenant has three days to pay rent or face an eviction lawsuit.

But the landlord has another option: Serve a six-day notice to pay rent on the fifth day after rent is due. Both give 11 days for a tenant to catch up on rent.

Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Portland, 503-224-4086

Portland Tenants United, 503-836-7881

Gresham — 2%

Springfield — 1.86%

Hayesville — 1.65%

Medford — 1.62%

Salem — 1.62%


Pennsylvania law requires a landlord to give a 10-day notice of eviction to the tenant, who can pay during that period and avoid eviction.

Regional Housing Legal Services, Glenside, 215-572-7300

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, 215-981-3700

Glenolden — 10.03%

Folcroft — 6.99%

Brookhaven — 6.91%

Reading — 6.22%

Uniontown — 4.29%

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, tenants have 15 days to pay rent after the due date before a landlord can serve them with a five-day notice to pay. If the renters don’t pay in those five days, the owner can pursue an eviction.

Rhode Island Legal Services, Providence, 401-274-2652

Providence — 3.82%

Cranston — 2.63%

Warwick — 2.44%

South Carolina

South Carolina law requires the landlord to serve a five-day written notice when the tenant is late with rent before filing an eviction lawsuit. However, the landlord can file suit without notice if the following language is in the lease agreement:

“IF YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR RENT ON TIME. This is your notice. If you do not pay your rent within five days of the due date, the landlord can start to have you evicted. You will get no other notice as long as you live in this rental unit.”

South Carolina Legal Services, Statewide, 888-346-5592

Ladson — 24.00%

St. Andrews — 20.66%

Dentsville — 19.01%

Hanahan — 17.84%

Florence — 16.65%

South Dakota

South Dakota law gives tenants three days to pay rent after it is due. The landlord can serve a three-day notice and file an eviction lawsuit if the rent isn’t paid in that window.

Dakota Plains Legal Services, Mission, 605-856-4444, 800-658-2297

East River Legal Services, Sioux Falls, 800-952-3015

Summerset — 1.9%

Brandon — 1.28%

Box Elder — 1.26%

Harrisburg — 1.09%

Rapid Valley — 1.09%*

* These are eviction filings as opposed to actual evictions.


In Tennessee, landlords must serve a 14-day notice to pay rent once the tenant is late. If the rent remains unpaid, then the owner can sue for eviction.

Memphis Area Legal Services, 901-523-8822

West Tennessee Legal Services, 17 counties, 731-423-0616 or 800-372-8346

Memphis — 4.89%

Athens — 4.13%

Clarksville — 3.90%

Cleveland — 3.51%

Nashville-Davidson — 3.42%


Texas is another state that requires a three-day notices before the landlord can file for eviction.

Austin Tenants Council, 512-474-1961

Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston, 800-733-8394

Killeen — 7.67%

White Settlement — 6.39%

Dickinson — 6.23%

Texas City — 5.98%

Fresno — 5.62%


Utah law requires a landlord to give the tenant a three-day notice before suing for eviction.

Utah Legal Services, Salt Lake City, 801-328-8891 (in Salt Lake County), 800-662-4245 (outside Salt Lake County)

Murray — 2.31%

West Valley City — 2.26%

Taylorsville — 1.97%

Midvale — 1.82%

Magna — 1.79%


Vermont is another state with lenient laws regarding nonpayment of rent. When a tenant is overdue on rent, the landlord must issue a 14-day notice to pay before filing an eviction lawsuit.

Vermont Legal Aid, Statewide, 800-889-2047

Barre — 0.23

Montpelier — 0.11

St. Johnsbury — 0.08

St. Albans — 0.06


In Virginia, landlords must issue a five-day notice to pay rent before starting eviction proceedings against a tenant.

Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, Northern Virginia, 571-572-2238

Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, 434-529-1849

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, 21 counties and municipalities, 800-868-1012

Petersburg — 17.56%

Hopewell — 15.69%

Portsmouth — 15.07%

Richmond — 11.44%

Hampton — 10.49%


Washington requires a  landlord to issue a three-day notice to pay rent before suing a tenant for eviction.

Fair Housing Center of Washington, Tacoma, 253-274-9523

Everett — 2.06%

Parkland — 1.99%

Lakewood — 1.89%

Longview — 1.74%

Spokane — 1.66%

West Virginia

West Virginia laws allow landlords to immediately terminate a lease and file an eviction lawsuit as soon as the tenant fails to pay rent on time.

Legal Aid of West Virginia, Statewide, 866-255-4370

Martinsburg — 10.22%

Ranson — 8.09%

Westover — 7.83%

Elkins — 7.14%

Beckley — 5.75%


A landlord has two options for evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent. The owner can issue a five-day notice, in which time the tenant can pay up to avoid eviction. Or the owner can issue a 14-day notice to vacate, in which the tenant has no choice but to move out or face eviction.

Legal Action of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 414-278-7722

Tenant Resource Center, Madison, 608-257-0006 ext. 5

Racine — 5.56%

Beloit — 4.34%

Milwaukee — 4.25%

Kenosha — 3.89%

Janesville — 3.39%


Wyoming-based landlords must provide a three-day notice to tenants before pursuing an eviction lawsuit.

Legal Aid of Wyoming, Statewide, 877-432-9955

Casper — 1.76%

Riverton — 0.91%

Lander — 0.85%

Rock Springs — 0.80%

Evanston — 0.78%

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder


Sam's Club Membership Offer