CNBC make it 2024-07-10 20:25:32

15 U.S. states with the lowest cost of living—a single person can live there on $20 an hour

As a single person, you’ll need an annual income of $40,000 to cover basic expenses in the cheapest U.S. states, according to a recent SmartAsset analysis.

The state with the lowest costs of living is West Virginia, closely followed by Arkansas and Oklahoma, the analysis says. In West Virginia, a one-person household needs a pre-tax income of $39,386 to pay for necessities like housing, transportation, health care, taxes and other common expenses — as tracked by the MIT Living Wage calculator.

The good news: The median American yearly wage for full-time workers is nearly $60,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But minimum wage workers in many of the least-expensive U.S. states lag significantly behind that figure. With a 40-hour workweek, West Virginia’s $8.75 hourly minimum wage translates to just $18,200 per year, for example.

Here’s a look at the 15 U.S. states with the lowest cost of living, based on how much a single person needs to cover basic costs:

  1. West Virginia: $39,386
  2. Arkansas: $39,724
  3. Oklahoma: $40,211
  4. North Dakota: $40,262
  5. Kentucky: $40,355
  6. Ohio: $40,359
  7. South Dakota: $40,718
  8. Louisiana: $41,233
  9. Mississippi: $41,361
  10. Iowa: $41,678
  11. New Mexico: $41,807
  12. Nebraska: $41,849
  13. Alabama: $41,911
  14. Missouri: $42,024
  15. Wisconsin: $42,062

Based on a 40-hour workweek, these totals work out to an hourly wage that ranges from about $19 to $20. In contrast, the most expensive state for a single person is Massachusetts, where a single person needs $58,009 per year to cover basic costs. That works out to roughly $28 per hour.

While rural states have lower costs, they tend to have lower wages, too. The median household income in West Virginia is $52,460, compared with $75,910 in New York, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data from 2022.

The difference in basic costs between states is largely due to housing, which tends to be most affordable in rural states. Urban areas typically offer a higher concentration of jobs, attracting more residents — and increased housing demand drives up home prices.

Annual housing costs in heavily urban states like California and New York are close to $20,000, compared to roughly half that figure in the 15 least expensive states.

Rural states also tend to have lower taxes than states with large cities, because their public services and infrastructure are less expensive. Taxes vary by about $5,000 to $10,000 per year between states, according to SmartAsset’s analysis.

MIT’s Living Wage calculator is based on data from various federal agencies, adjusted for inflation as of December 2023.

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An investment banker quit her job to become a YouTuber and now makes over $1 million

Personal finance YouTuber Nischa Shah quit her six-figure investment banking job to become a full-time content creator — and it was a gamble that paid off.

After working in banking for a decade, Shah became an associate director at Crédit Agricole in 2022, earning well over £200,000 ($256,000). However, the London-based banker was not satisfied with her career, she told CNBC Make It in an interview.

“It was about nine years into the corporate journey where I had this revelation that this isn’t fulfilling me, it’s not really challenging me, and it’s not intellectually stimulating,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to help other people whilst getting paid for it and what I was doing in banking was helping corporations, sovereign governments.”

She eventually reached a “rock bottom phase” about two-and-a-half years ago and decided to use a Law of Attraction planner — which involves manifesting goals and dreams — to reassess her life.

“I was thinking I want to change the course of my life,” she said. “This Law of Attraction planner had prompts or questions like ‘What would you do if money was not an issue?’”

Shah knew she had a passion for personal finance and making complex information accessible to everyone. She once helped her parents avoid a tax bill of around £14,000 when they were selling their home because their accountant had missed some key information.

“Just having a knowledge in personal finance can have such a huge impact on the money that’s going into your pocket,” she added.

Shah started dabbling with making YouTube videos about personal finance and self-development in December 2021 — and now has over 1 million subscribers on YouTube.

This success led her to quit her investment banking job in January — despite the fact she was due to receive a six-figure bonus two months later.

It was worth the risk. Shah is now earning over $1 million by monetizing her YouTube videos, selling courses and products, doing corporate talks, and partnering with brands.

“I’m making a lot more than I was in banking,” she said. “As a result of not chasing money anymore and just chasing what I’m good at, my passion, and what I really enjoy, it’s managed to surpass everything that I had before.”

Shah walked CNBC Make It through how she grew her YouTube channel and prepared to quit her investment banking job.

‘It took 11 months to get to 1,000 subscribers’

Shah’s videos cover topics ranging from “Money Habits Keeping You Poor” and “7 Passive Income Ideas,” to “How to invest your first $1000, and her videos receive anything between 100,000 to 9 million views. 

Loyal subscribers will be familiar with Shah’s no-nonsense approach, straightforward advice, and black turtleneck. But back in 2021, Shah’s YouTube account was merely a side hustle that she wasn’t taking very seriously.

“In June 2022, that all changed. Shah decided to start posting twice a week, every week, and finally, in September, one video — a day in her life as an investment banker — resonated. She gained 50,000 subscribers in one month and earned £3,000.

“So it took me 11 months to get to 1,000 subscribers, and then two months to get to 100,000 which was crazy,” Shah said. “It’s just literally the power of compounding in a nutshell, not knowing when that lucky break is going to be.”

Shah says her audience includes many young adults, women and people who may not have had access to financial education.

“When I talk to the camera, I think of it as I’m just talking to me when I was 22-years-old or 23-years-old,” she said.

“There are many people younger in their careers who are at a point where they have started making money, but they just want to get better with it. They just want to know ‘What do I do with my savings? How do I grow wealth? How do I set myself up so I can quit a job that I don’t like?’”

Shah saw an opportunity to become a trusted figure on the subject due to her banking experience and accountancy qualifications, especially as misleading financial content runs rampant on social media.

“There’s incorrect advice being given on TikTok and Instagram, and it’s sad because giving the wrong advice on shampoo or lip gloss will cost someone like £7, but giving the wrong advice about finance could cost someone their life savings.”

Use your day job to fund your side hustle

A day job that provides a stable income can help accelerate the success of your side hustle, Shah says.

“If you don’t come from a family which is well-to-do, it’s really important to have a steady income coming in … but also having a job where you can learn from without consequences,” she explained.

Setting up a business is a learning curve, according to Shah, and if there’s no backup income, the consequences — like losing all of your savings — could be dire.

“If you’ve got income coming in from your day job, but you’re also building a business on the side, you’re working from a place of creativity, rather than from a place of ‘I need to make sure I pay the bills and I need to make sure I make ends meet’,” she said

“That makes you operate from a place of stress, which I think has a huge impact on whether you’re able to succeed in the entrepreneurial world.”

When Shah first started making YouTube videos, she used her investment banking income to invest in a £1,000 camera.

“I would advise, for as long as possible, to continue exploring side hustles or side businesses alongside a day job. It gives you security. It gives you freedom or creativity. It helps you build an emergency fund and it gives you extra cash that you can then plug into your side businesses to help it succeed,” she said.

Shah built up an emergency fund to support her for at least nine months after she quit her job. “It doesn’t need to cover my fancy holidays. It doesn’t need to cover any clothes or bags or anything like that. It just needs to cover my living expenses.”

She acknowledged that if she waited to quit only after she’d made a lot of money from YouTube, it would have taken much longer to make the jump.

“It was really important that I just went all in, and I had my emergency fund as a buffer, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I thought: ‘I’m at a crossroads. I’ve done what I known for the last nine years and that hasn’t made me happy … so now is the point for me to take my life in my own hands and just go for it.’”

Shah’s salary was verified by CNBC Make It via her contract and a tax form, but the exact figure will not be disclosed for privacy reasons. Her YouTube earnings from May 2023 to May 2024 were also verified by CNBC Make It via bank statements.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

How to avoid the No. 1 kind of regret people have when they die, from an Ivy League instructor

Of all the things I fear — spiders, needles, rejection — regrets take the cake. I have a deep-rooted fear of getting to the end and feeling woefully disappointed — not so much by the life I lived but by the life I didn’t live.

In many ways, I have my mother to thank for waking me up and helping me course-correct. She died at 58 with a litany of regrets. After losing her, I was gripped by the fear of dying with my own laundry list of “if onlys.” 

I committed to live a regret-free life or die trying. Now I’m hell-bent on helping us all make the most of our time while we’re lucky enough to be above ground. I want us to live regret-free lives we can feel proud of. 

That’s why I left my job as a corporate executive to become a “stop squandering your life” speaker and coach. It’s why, while I was in the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Applied Positive Psychology program, I wrote a 101-page thesis about “reflecting on mortality to inspire vitality and meaning in life.” And it’s why I recently published my book, “You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End With No Regrets.”

The 2 major kinds of regrets

As terrifying as regrets are, they can be useful, because they can motivate us to change our behavior and improve our lives. That is, they can help us after we simmer in the uncomfortable awareness of what could have been if we’d only made a way better decision.

We tend to value regret more than any of the negative emotions out there, studies show, because we understand its value and power.

There are two main categories of regrets you want to pay attention to:

  1. Regrets of commission: These include things we did that we wish we hadn’t done. We tend to be able to rationalize regrets of commission through the softening of time.
  2. Regrets of omission: These include the paths we didn’t take, the things we wish we’d done that we never did. Regrets of omission tend to haunt us. 

Regrets of commission ‘cool off over time’

Also known as hot regrets, regrets of commission tend to feel intense at first. They’re often stupid things we do that make us burn in the short run with shame, guilt, or remorse, and then cool off over time.

Here’s a true-crime sampler from my clients and workshop attendees: 

  • “Being mean to Kandy on the schoolyard in sixth grade” 
  • “Having an affair” 
  • “Telling that client what I really thought of them” 
  • “Getting a DUI” 
  • “Leaving my vintage baseball card collection at home for my mother to later throw out” 
  • “Giving Tom the finger after quitting in a huff” 
  • “Eating three-day-old sushi” 

Regrets of omission ‘torment us’

Also known as wistful regrets, regrets of omission can torment us until the end of time. 

Real-life client examples include: 

  • “Not backpacking across Europe after college” 
  • “Not running that marathon”
  • “Not finishing law school” 
  • “Not fixing my relationship with my brother” 
  • “Not writing that children’s book”
  • “Not ordering desserts just for myself; I wish I’d had more pieces of cake all to myself” 
  • “Not telling my first crush I loved him”

Regrets of omission plague us mostly because these are paths not taken. They shine a glaring spotlight on the chasm between our actual selves and the person we’ve imagined as our ideal self, one that could make our dreams come true.

How to prevent the most painful regrets 

Anticipating our regrets before they come to fruition — or what I call our “pre-grets” — gives us a chance to live a life that feels right. 

In my book, I share several exercises, assessments, and tips designed to help you identify your pre-grets and figure out how to use them to your advantage. Here’s one way to start: 

  • Get comfy in bed. Yes, for real — recline your body and take a deep breath. Imagine you’re lying on your deathbed. You’re not in pain. You feel lucid and at peace. You’re near the end and reflecting back on your life. Start to zero in on your regrets of omission — not the things you did do but rather the things you didn’t do. 
  • Make a list of what comes up for you.
  • Circle the entries that make your heart beat fast, or make it ache or skip a beat. Any heart-related reaction is a good indication that this one matters
  • Pay close attention to the pre-grets that want to hide on the page because they’re fragile and afraid to be exposed. Perhaps you feel fear of failure or rejection or ridicule. That’s a sign that it’s important to protect and be kind to those dreams.
  • Start brainstorming ways to take even one step forward. Better yet, write one down right now. 

An unflinching awareness of your pre-grets can change the trajectory of your life.

That’s because we don’t have to continue down the paths we’re on and resign ourselves to regrets of omission. We don’t have to merely imagine the paths not taken.

We can go down entirely different paths if we choose. We just have to recognize what matters deeply to us and take action.

Jodi Wellman is a former corporate executive turned executive coach. She has a master’s in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she is an instructor in the master’s program and a trainer in the world-renowned Penn Resilience Program. She runs her own business, Four Thousand Mondays, and is the author of ”You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End With No Regrets.”

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

Excerpt adapted from ”You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End With No Regrets″ by Jodi Wellman. Copyright © 2024. Reprinted with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. All rights reserved.

Why Serena Williams tried to deposit her first $1 million check at a drive-thru ATM

In the early days of her tennis career, Serena Williams cared so much about winning that she forgot to collect her earnings — repeatedly.

Williams, 42, brought in $94.8 million in prize money as a tennis player before retiring in 2022, according to the Women’s Tennis Association. Early in her career, she nearly left a decent chunk of it behind: She was so singularly focused on her performance that she’d nearly leave cities without picking up her money, she told First We Feast’s YouTube talk show “Hot Ones” last week.

“Is it true that you rarely collected your winnings your first year on tour and then once tried unsuccessfully to cash your first million-dollar check in a drive through ATM?” host Sean Evans asked her.

“Those are all true,” responded Williams, who won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 73 career singles titles during her 27-year career. “I never played for money. I played because I loved the sport … I wanted to win.”

Williams’ professional debut — in which she played a single game, losing a qualifying match at the 1995 Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada — reportedly resulted in a $240 check. At age 14, she was in no rush to spend that money, she said.

The same was true when Williams got her first million-dollar check. People around her were excited about the dollar figure, but all Williams wanted to do was deposit it and get back to work, she recalled.

“I never really spent a lot of money,” said Williams. “I just went through the drive-thru and the guy was like, ‘Uh, I think you need to come inside for this.’”

As her career evolved, her “tax guy” had to remind her to get her money while she toured, she recalled.

″[He] would be like, ‘You didn’t get your money?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get that one in Zurich. I forgot that one in Moscow,’” Williams said. “I was playing to win, and if I didn’t win, I wasn’t thinking. I was just so angry that I wanted to just figure out a way to get better and win the next time.”

When to teach kids money lessons

Williams’ early-career experiences were part of her financial literacy education: When she started making her own money as a teen, her dad Richard made sure that she was in charge of it, she told Bloomberg’s ‘The Deal’ podcast in May.

“I remember having to figure that out and having to learn how to manage from a very early age and not get crazy with it, and so he empowered us to do that,” Williams said, adding that when it came time to weigh sponsorship deals with companies like Puma and Nike, she always had a seat at the table.

“I’m 16, my dad is negotiating, they’re going back and forth, and he wants me there for the whole time to make sure I know what to do in the future,” she said. “I learned early on that your paycheck from tennis — maybe that’s why I forgot them — should be your smallest earning.”

Personal finance lessons for kids are important, experts say. If you start teaching kids basic money lessons as early as ages 5 to 8, they’ll be ready to learn about concepts like saving, spending and investing by ages 8 to 12, Eric Landolt, head of family advisory and art & collecting at UBS Global Wealth Management, told Make It last year.

By the time they’re teenagers, they’ll be well-equipped to effectively manage a small budget or allowance, said Landolt.

“Financial literacy should be a basic skill, a basic skill in the sense of like, reading or writing or doing so something in a way that should be brought to everyone in any circumstance,” he said.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

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The No. 1 question to ‘always’ ask in a job interview, from a LinkedIn career expert

The final minutes of a job interview — when the interviewer is done with their questions and opens up the floor — is time you don’t want to waste. 

Asking smart, thoughtful questions can give you an edge over other candidates and help you decide whether a role is the right fit for you. 

There’s one question, in particular, that you should “always” ask in a job interview, says LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill.

“What does success look like to you in the first 90 days of this role?” 

By asking how success is measured within the team or company, you’re demonstrating that you’re proactive, and someone who wants to learn the skills needed to excel in the role, McCaskill explains. 

The first 90 days of a new position is the most common timeframe employers use to assess your fit for the job and company culture, McCaskill adds, so it’s a helpful reference point to include — otherwise, the question might feel too broad.

“It cues to the interviewer that you’re curious, and really thinking about how you can help them solve whatever challenges they’re facing at the moment,” he says.

With this question, you’ll better understand what kind of learning curve you’ll face and how your performance will be evaluated. 

The interviewer’s response could make you feel more confident about the role or uncover some red flags. 

If the hiring manager avoids spelling out the specific tasks and responsibilities of the role or is vague about scheduling and expectations for working overtime, “those could be signs that a job is high-stress,” McCaskill explains. 

This question can also help you prepare for any follow-up interviews.

“It gives you a vantage point into what skills and traits the employer is prioritizing in hiring for this role, and what language they use to describe their ideal candidate, so you can mirror it,” says McCaskill. “It helps you get to the very heart of what they’re looking for.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

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