Smart Money Podcast: The Future of College Debt, and Rent vs. Buy (With a Dog)

Kate Wood
Sara Rathner
Liz Weston, CFP®
Sean Pyles
By Sean Pyles,  Liz Weston, CFP®,  Sara Rathner and  Kate Wood 
Published
Edited by Sheri Gordon

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Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.

This week’s episode starts with a discussion on the future of college debt.

Then we pivot to this week’s money question conversation with Brenna, a listener who is wondering whether to keep renting or buy a house.

Check out this episode on either of these platforms:

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at [email protected]. To hear previous episodes, go to the podcast homepage.

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Episode transcript

Sean Pyles: Hey Liz, when you and your husband bought your house, where did space for a dog fall on your priority list?

Liz Weston: I don't even think it was on the list, Sean. How about when you and your partner were home shopping?

Sean Pyles: Well, to be honest, our dog was the reason that we started home shopping in the first place.

Liz Weston: You are such a millennial.

Sean Pyles: Proudly. Welcome to the NerdWallet Smart Money podcast, where you send us your money questions and we answer them with the help of our genius Nerds. I'm Sean Pyles.

Liz Weston: And I'm Liz Weston. Listeners, remember to send us your money questions. Maybe you need help sorting out what to do with your tax refund or you're slightly embarrassed by how much takeout you order and want help regaining control of your spending. Whatever your question, leave us a voicemail or text us on the Nerd hotline at (901) 730-6373. That's (901) 730-NERD. You can also email us at [email protected].

Sean Pyles: And you can send your voice memos to [email protected] as well.

In this episode's Money Question segment, my other co-host, Sara Rathner, and mortgage Nerd Kate Wood talk with a listener about finding a place to live on a budget and with a dog. Should they rent or buy?

But to kick things off, we're taking a look at the future of college debt. No, not whether cancellation is actually going to happen. Although, the odds are not looking good, by the way. We're looking into what the next generation of college students might face when it comes to student debt. NerdWallet data studies writer Liz Renter is here to tell us about some of her recent reports, and it's not exactly a pretty picture. Welcome back to Smart Money, Liz.

Liz Renter: Thanks, Sean. I'm happy to be here.

Liz Weston: So Liz, you've published three studies on college debt this spring. First, you looked into whether it's possible for anybody to work their way through college today. What did you find?

Liz Renter: Well, on paper, it's actually improved a little bit since the last time I looked. And I say on paper because when we do these analyses, we talk about averages and nationwide, which is great for looking at trends, but certain individuals may say like, "Well, that doesn't quite sound right for me." So the two numbers that I look at in this analysis are wages, and specifically the minimum wage, and also the net cost of attendance for public four-year universities and colleges. And wages have risen. Over the past few years, several states have raised their minimum wage, and so the average state minimum wage across the country is $10.40 an hour. Also, the net cost of attendance at the most affordable colleges has actually come down just a little bit over the past few years. So between these two things, I've found that if you wanted to work your way through college without accumulating any student loan debt, you would need to work about 35 hours a week, and that's on top of your course load and your studying and... yeah.

Sean Pyles: So essentially, you could potentially work your way through a four-year degree if you were a robot who did absolutely nothing except work, study, and sleep.

Liz Renter: Yeah.

Sean Pyles: The sleep is maybe questionable at that point too.

Liz Weston: Yeah, I would put that low on the list.

Liz Renter: Right. And social engagements, friends, all of that would fall by the wayside. A big part of whether it makes sense to work through school is like you've got to be able to stay in school.

Sean Pyles: And hopefully enjoy it too.

Liz Renter: Your likelihood of success and getting decent grades when you're working that hard and unable to keep up, it kind of decreases. I mean, we know that about 40% of undergrads work while in college, but I think it's pretty unlikely that many are paying for their entire degree as they go.

Liz Weston: OK, so what about Pell Grants, Liz? Those used to cover the vast majority of college costs for qualifying students, right?

Liz Renter: Yeah, that's right. So Pell Grants are the largest source of federal need-based grant aid. They're there for nontraditional and lower income students.

A little personal history. In the '80s, my mom was raising me and my brothers as a single mom working on her undergrad, and at that time, the maximum Pell Grant could cover over 160% of average tuition and fees at four-year schools.

Liz Weston: Wow.

Liz Renter: Yeah, right? Flash forward 20 years, I was in a similar boat, early 2000s. I'm raising my daughter and working on my bachelor's degree as a single mother, and it covered over 90% of the average tuition and fees. Now it covers 68%. So yeah, it hasn't kept up over the last few decades. The cost of college has risen by 64% after adjusting for inflation, but the maximum Pell Grant has risen only by 6%.

Liz Weston: Wow.

Liz Renter: If there's any good news, it's that institutional grant. So grants coming directly from the colleges themselves have really picked up some of the slack.

Sean Pyles: So does that put more of the onus for getting grants, scholarships on students?

Liz Renter: Yes and no. I mean, when you fill out your application for student aid every year, this is going to sort of put you in the pool for the Pell Grant, for institutional grants, for state grants. So I wouldn't say the onus is more on the students, but it is something you have to take into consideration and it might be worth looking at when you're researching what colleges to consider, what sort of grant funding does this institution have available.

Sean Pyles: What do things look like for the class of 2023 if average costs are coming down a bit? Does that mean less student debt?

Liz Renter: Potentially. So class of 2023, the high school class of 2023, I look at their potential costs annually in a college cost outlook, which analyzes data from the Department of Education, and I found that this year's high school grads could take on as much as $37,000 in student loan debt for their bachelor's degree. Now, that assumes they're taking out loans every single year that they're working on their bachelor's, and it is a few hundred dollars less from my projections last year, but it's still a lot of money and it's more than the maximum amount of federal loans that you're allowed to borrow as a dependent student.

Liz Weston: Yeah, because that limit hasn't changed in quite a while.

Liz Renter: That's right. It's currently $31,000 for dependent students. And once you hit that cap, you have to look elsewhere for funding. So it could be a job, it could be work study, it could be private loans, it could be parent PLUS loans. I mean, so there are options out there once you reach that cap, but it gets a little trickier.

Liz Weston: What do students and parents need to know as they look ahead to the next school year? How do you plan for these costs?

Liz Renter: It's really tough. I mean, I've said a few times in the past few minutes that college costs have come down a little bit or stopped rising, which is true, but we are looking ahead to this fall and we know that some institutions are planning on beginning to raise them again.

So what you need to know is to apply certain practices every year of your college career, and that includes filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. It also includes looking at scholarships. You spend a lot of time as a senior in high school working with your guidance counselor and getting ready for college, but once you're out there in the world as a freshman and a sophomore, you still need to continue doing these things that qualify you for these grants and scholarships.

And then if it comes time to borrow, you've exhausted your grants and scholarships, prioritize federal student loans before you look at private loans or before your parents even consider parent PLUS loans. The reason we say to look to federal loans is because they have certain protections and repayment options that private loans don't always have.

And then I guess the last note I would say is to parents, and that is to prioritize your retirement savings. I'm a parent. I know we kind of want to take any burden we possibly can off our child, but you don't want to do it at the risk of jeopardizing your long-term financial goals. We found last year in a survey that 26% of parents who took out parent PLUS loans said that they'd be unable to retire the way they expected because of those loans. Your student's going to school to increase their potential earning power throughout their adult life, and they're just getting started. They will have time to pay down their student debt. So you need to think really critically before you consider taking on additional debt for them as a parent.

Liz Weston: Yeah, that's a really good point, and I'm glad you brought that up. I also wanted to mention, with regard to scholarships, if you're getting need-based financial aid as a student, those scholarships can actually reduce the aid that you get from the school. So we always see stories this time of year about all these unclaimed scholarships out there. It's like yeah, but they're not the panacea. They are not the magic bullet to solve this college affordability question. They can help, especially if you're not getting much need-based aid, but they're not really the answer.

Liz Renter: That's right.

Liz Weston: Well, congratulations to the class of 2023. If you are starting college, make sure to talk to your loved ones about how you're going to pay for it. And if you're finishing a degree, make sure to factor in those student loan repayments into your budget.

Sean Pyles: And don't forget, if your student loan repayments have been paused since 2020, they are all but certain to restart this summer. We're still waiting on that decision from the Supreme Court about student debt cancellation. If news breaks on that, we'll be sure to let you know. And Liz, thank you again for joining us.

Liz Renter: Yeah, absolutely. And if you don't mind, I want to add one more thing. I'm actually getting ready to travel to watch my daughter get her bachelor's degree.

Liz Weston: Congratulations.

Liz Renter: Thank you. Yeah, she'll be graduating from Appalachian State University. So I just want to say congratulations, Maya. I'm super proud of you.

Liz Weston: That's awesome.

Sean Pyles: Congrats, Maya.

Liz Weston: Congrats, Maya.

Sean Pyles: All right. Well, now let's get on to this episode's money question segment with Sara and Kate.

Sara Rathner: For this episode's Money Question segment, Kate and I are joined by Brenna, a listener caught in housing limbo. She's wondering whether to buy or rent, but is having trouble finding a place with her partner that can accommodate their budget and most importantly, Brenna's American bulldog Annabelle. Brenna is 29 years old and lives in Washington state. Welcome to Smart Money, Brenna.

Brenna: Thanks so much for having me, guys.

Sara Rathner: Brenna, it's great to have you. Before we get into this conversation, the NerdWallet legal team would like to remind you that we're not going to tell you what to do with your money. The goal of this conversation is to provide you with the information to make your decision with as much confidence as possible. So that all being said, Brenna, big picture question. Can you tell us about your financial life right now? How are you feeling about your finances and what sorts of challenges are you facing?

Brenna: Yeah, so I'm a nurse. I'm actually working three jobs, and it makes my income kind of, well, very variable. I feel like I'm doing well compared to the average, but because it's so variable, it's definitely hard to get an idea of how much exactly when it averages out, like how much am I really making every month and how much am I really spending every month. My income and my costs vary so much, it's just hard to get an overall picture.

Kate Wood: That kind of fits in with one of the things that you'd asked about, particularly in a high cost area like you are, and then also with having a variable income, thinking about different ways that you might use your savings, right?

Brenna: Exactly. Because I'm saving different amounts every month also, and that's kind of one of the biggest things for me is how much should I have saved and how much should I really be saving every month. Which in a really high cost area, when we're looking at changing rents or moving into different things, it just adds so much pressure to know what I'm really sitting at, what level I'm at. Am I doing really well? Am I behind? How do I know?

Kate Wood: So Brenna, let's get to the reason you're here today. What are your money questions for us?

Brenna: Yeah, so my first question was when living in a high cost area, how much should we be allocating towards saving for big budget items like buying a house or really high rent versus saving for retirement and our emergency funds?

Sara Rathner: Yeah, I would say definitely don't miss out on the importance of the emergency funds, especially when your monthly expenses are high, because if you or partner were to lose your job or something were to happen to you, that's the money that's going to make it so that you can continue to afford your expenses for a time while you work out and hopefully improve your situation. And it's also just there for all those unexpected costs, the vet bills. I know you know what I'm talking about. Annabelle eats something that she shouldn't, has to go to the emergency vet. You might be out a few thousand dollars just like that. So having emergency savings can make it really possible to afford those types of expenses without necessarily having to put them on your credit card and get into debt. Kate, what do you think?

Kate Wood: I mean, yeah, I really relate to this and I think it's something that probably a lot of our listeners will relate to, because the entire country is on the verge of becoming a high cost of living area. Although, being where you are in Washington, particularly if you are considering something like renting versus buying, your options are both hard ones to deal with. And because you're considering potentially moving in together?

Brenna: Yeah. So my partner and I have been together for just over a year and a half. Like I said, we're both 29, so we're in kind of that area where we're ready to take the next step, but it's really hard when we look at our renting situation. So we're both kind of lucky in that we're both paying significantly less than the average in our area. But that being said, we both have a bunch of roommates. But because of that, if we were to move in together, both of us would be taking a really big rent hike. So how much of a rent hike would you suggest is reasonable to adjust to when moving to a higher rent apartment, house, taking on a mortgage payment? Because we are open to buying a house. But again, it's going to be a really big shift for us, and it's hard to predict even if we're saving a good amount right now, just that big change can be really daunting.

Sara Rathner: A rule of thumb is to spend no more than 30% of your pretax income on rent. But obviously, in high cost of living areas, I'm sure lots of people who are living in New York, San Francisco, LA are laughing at this because you're often spending much more than that 30% of your pretax income on rent. Sometimes more than half of your income goes just toward living expenses. That means that other costs have to get lowered just to accommodate. So your budget has to get tighter in other areas. It could mean that you can't necessarily afford to travel as much as you want to, or you can't go out and dine out, or you have to cut out hobbies and other monthly expenses just to afford rent or take on additional work to earn extra income to be able to accommodate those costs too.

So not knowing what percent of your pretax income you're currently spending on your rent payments, each of you as individuals, and then what is a typical rent payment on the kind of home you might be looking for together, and then how that translates to what percentage of your shared pretax income that might be. So have you worked out some of those numbers yet?

Brenna: Yeah, so right now, like I said, because we're kind of in very lucky situations, I live with some of my best friends and they own their house, so they charge me very little. And he gets housing through his job, so he, again, pays a very small amount of his income. So our percentage is low, like maybe 10% of our income is going towards housing. That's maybe, if that. Whereas housing in the area that we're looking at, I mean, for a one bedroom, one bath, for a house one or two bedrooms, small houses, that's what we're talking about, our rent would at least quadruple, and that's even splitting it.

Sara Rathner: Wow.

Brenna: So then it would kind of go up to more like 50% of our income. So again, it's like, "Can we afford it?" Yes, but like you said, we'd be changing our budget so drastically. And I guess that's part of what I'm worried about is is it really advisable to change your budget so drastically, or are we going to run into issues? You know what I'm saying?

Sara Rathner: I mean, it's definitely going to change your life on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis to have a significantly higher housing cost. So one thing that can be pretty helpful in your situation is what's called reverse budgeting. While you're living in a very affordable situation, it's easy to say, "Hey, whatever money's left at the end of the month goes into the down payment fund." But if you have an expensive month and no money's left, you're not going to end up saving. But with reverse budgeting, you automate deposits into savings accounts for different goals, like a down payment account or just an emergency fund or something like that. You pay your bills and then whatever is left, you can spend freely. It sounds like in your situation, with your housing costs being as low as they are, have you been able to take advantage of this time and perhaps save a bit more aggressively in order to have extra money available when you do make that move?

Brenna: Definitely. And again, we're so lucky in the situations we're in because I've definitely been able to save up more than I would have been able to otherwise. It allowed me to switch from my full-time night shift nursing job to kind of the more flexible three jobs, variable schedule kind of life I'm living. But I've also been able to save way more.

But also at the same time, I mean, because we're looking at moving into something that's going to be so much more expensive, our savings goals are also going to change. When you think of an emergency fund, they say three months’ worth of all of your expenses. Well, if our expenses are changing so drastically, our savings goals are going to be changing really drastically at the same time. This is kind of where it gets so complicated in my head, right? So if a higher amount of my income is going towards my rent, I'm going to be saving less. But at the same time, my savings need to be higher to account for my required expenses being higher every month. How do we know when we're ready to make that step? So if our rent increases drastically, do we need to have that all saved up before making that move? Or how much should we have saved before making that move? And again, keeping in mind that we live in such an expensive area, what's a realistic goal for us or in general?

Sara Rathner: So that three months, that's also a rule of thumb, and rules of thumb are not the law, they're just suggestions. You might not be able to save as aggressively, but it is still something. You drop the amount of money you put into that fund every month. And then every month you don't need to tap into it is victory and it just allows it to continue growing. And maybe when you are ready to take the step of moving in together, you don't necessarily have three months yet, but maybe you even have one month, and that is certainly better than nothing, because you still have money available in case of an unexpected cost.

Brenna: Do you think it's super necessary to have our emergency fund completely tied up in a bow for our new expenses going into a move like that?

Sara Rathner: I mean, ultimately, it's about what helps you sleep at night. And for some people, they can't sleep at night unless they have a year of their take-home pay saved in a savings account, which is, I mean, definitely valid. And some people can sleep very comfortably at night knowing that they can probably float themselves for a couple weeks before things begin to get a little rough. So really, it's not about a specific number. Saving for things doesn't happen in a vacuum. There's always going to be something going on in your life, and sometimes you have to put the brakes on one savings goal to accommodate something else.

But what's important is if that is still a goal for you when things settle down, then reigniting that commitment to that goal and starting to save again, even if you have to save a reduced amount. Let's say before you moved, you were comfortably able to put $200 a month into your emergency fund, and now you can only realistically put $50 a month in. Well, $50 is certainly better than nothing. So that is still a step in a good direction. It's just a smaller step because you have so many more obligations.

It's really about thinking not so much a percentage, but just like, "What can I do now? What can I do when things get really expensive for a short time? And then what can I do once things settle down, and when can I expect things to settle down?" So how long of a hiatus am I talking?

And then also just establishing with your partner, "What do we consider an emergency? What do we consider worthy of tapping into this fund for?" Versus what is something that we feel more comfortable paying out of our checking accounts or with a credit card and then paying off the credit card versus declaring something an emergency.

Kate Wood: For me, anything with my dog, it is an emergency. Maybe that's just me, but I feel like on this call, that's not just me.

Sara Rathner: No.

Kate Wood: Something that really struck me from your initial question, Brenna, was obviously that you have Annabelle and that she's part of your housing equation as well.

Brenna: Yeah.

Kate Wood: For me, I have a dog who is my heart and soul in life. When I was considering making a big move, that was a really big part of it. I was having a lot of trouble finding a rental that would take my dog, and he is a small dog who doesn't face any breed restrictions, and it was just very difficult to find anything. I actually went for about three years being in a long distance relationship with him, which I do not recommend at all. That was horrible and traumatizing for both of us. And in the end, a big part of why I bought a house was so that I could live with my dog. So I was kind of wondering where Annabelle fits into all this for you.

Brenna: Yeah. I've had Annabelle for six years. She is a rescue dog. She's now 11 years old. So honestly-

Kate Wood: Good girl.

Brenna: ... she sleeps 90% of the day. And trying to explain that to people when you're looking to rent is near impossible. They look at she's a bulldog, she looks like a pit bull, and she's 70 pounds, so she's a big, chunky little puppy, and I'm immediately shut down. She doesn't have accidents, she doesn't get into things. She's a very easy dog. But again, they look at, "She's a pit bull. She's a big dog," and it's really hard to find housing that would allow her to be there.

So having that also being tied into the equation of making sure we have a yard space for her really makes it hard. Again, in a place where it's high cost of living, there's not a lot of options, when you start tying that in, renting is going to be really hard, because it has to be somewhere that allows a dog, that has a yard, which makes it so realistically, buying a house would be the easiest option. But buying a house and you have to worry about your down payment and all this other stuff that goes along with it. So it really does limit our options so much, and that's been really hard as well.

Sara Rathner: Yeah, I will say I have a 65-pound pit bull mix. So I'm with you. They're the sweetest dogs. He's like a giant cat.

Brenna: They're little couch hippos.

Sara Rathner: Yeah, he's a couch hippo. And then we take him to a dog park and then he runs his little heart out and then he goes home and he stretches out on the floor for the rest of the day and barely ever barks. I mean, guys, pit bulls are the best.

Brenna: Yeah. Yeah.

Sara Rathner: They're the best dogs. They're such good girls and boys. I don't understand why there's so much fear. Anyway, you bring up an interesting point about the things that you want out of a home that might make buying a more realistic option for you, just because you can have a little bit more control over the space that you have and how it's used and who lives in the home. Mostly Annabelle, but also humans. But let's be real, Annabelle's the main priority here, of course.

So buying a home in a high cost living area, that is a whole different ballgame. You mentioned saving up for a down payment. When you need a down payment that's sizable enough to afford a home in a more expensive area, that can take years to save up for.

So Kate, I'm going to throw this question to you as a mortgage Nerd. When you are looking to buy in a high cost area, even saving the minimum down payment for some conventional loans, which is 3% of the cost of the home, is a lot of money. So what sorts of programs exist out there that can be helpful to buyers who want to be able to own a home but can't necessarily save up enough for that down payment?

Kate Wood: This is exactly why I cannot say enough about first-time home buyer assistance programs. Every state has this, usually through the Housing Finance Authority. Washington state would certainly have it. Depending on where in Washington you're looking, you might find things that are at the county or city level. But these are programs that are designed for people who are first-time home buyers. Sometimes they have income restrictions, sometimes they don't. They're always going to have locations restrictions because obviously, if it's Washington state helping you, they want you to buy a home in Washington state. But they can offer a lot of kinds of down payment assistance, and that can come in different forms. Sometimes it's a low interest loan, but other times you can look out for grants, which are just free money that you can get toward your down payment. So that can be tremendously helpful.

And often the main criteria, aside from the geography stuff, is just that you need to take a home buyer education class. That can be helpful in other ways as well, just because learning about the process and your lender might also give you some credit for having taken a home buyer education class, because then they consider you a safer, more reliable buyer. But it's something to look into because again, it's something that I feel like people don't know enough about. I mean, these are state programs, they don't always have the funding to kind of get the word out.

For anyone listening who's curious about this, usually these programs consider you a first-time home buyer if you haven't had an ownership interest in a house in at least three years. So say you'd been in a previous situation where you were on the title for a home, but now you haven't been, you'd still be able to take advantage of first-time home buyer benefits. So that can be really helpful.

But like Sara said, when you are in a high cost area, even saving something like 3% for a down payment is a considerable amount of money. But at the same time, there are all these intangibles, right, like getting a yard for your dog. So there are a lot of factors to think about. There are the numbers and then there's the kind of beyond the numbers stuff.

Brenna: Yeah. So about the first homeowner assistance programs, do you have to have any sort of down payment saved at all for those, or are they able to help you with all of it?

Kate Wood: The amount of contribution that they're going to help you with is going to vary depending on the program. Also, usually there are multiple programs within each state. So they'll have different types of loans or they might have ones that are targeted toward people who are buying in a very specific area or who have a certain type of job. As a nurse, that is something that you could look into as well, are mortgage programs that are designed specifically for assisting people who are in medical professions. Doctor mortgages are very common, but there are also programs out there that help workers who are in other health care fields.

Brenna: Thank you. Yeah, that's really helpful.

Sara Rathner: I wanted to ask a final question. So having just kind of talked through some of these issues that you're facing, what do you think your financial decision will be? Are you going to pull back on some savings goals to accommodate a higher cost of living or think about renting versus buying? What direction are you sort of heading in at this point?

Brenna: I think it's really going to take some time. I think doing some budgeting with my partner together, both of us sitting down and looking through it all. I think we do want to make a move probably within the next year or two. Whether it's going to be renting or buying is going to be largely dependent on his job situation. I think we still want to make that move, and I think we will probably end up buying. It's just going to be so dependent on location and kind of all of the variables.

Sara Rathner: Yeah, big decisions and a lot can change in a year. A lot of good stuff can happen.

Brenna: Exactly. Big decisions, so many variables.

Kate Wood: Brenna, thank you so much for talking with us today.

Brenna: Yeah. Again, guys, thank you so much for having me on. I learned a lot. It was a really fun experience.

Kate Wood: I'm so glad to hear that.

Sara Rathner: So Kate, now that we've spoken to Brenna, what are your takeaways from our conversation with her?

Kate Wood: I think the biggest one is just that knowing what kind of your own priorities are is really what's important more so than the different kind of rules of thumb that we keep bringing up or the kind of static advice. Especially since they're giving themselves a nice, juicy timeline to work with, that's a good amount of time to not just increase their savings, but also really dig into researching and weighing their options.

Sara Rathner: You can talk about rules of thumb, like 30% of take-home pay for this or 3% of it for a down payment for that, but it might be a better exercise to take some time to do some cost comparisons and compare a similar rental to a similar owned home. Like if you're looking to a two bedroom, one bathroom house with a yard, look at renting it versus buying it, not renting an apartment versus buying a house. And also pricing out the costs of moving. Maybe some estimated repair costs, furniture costs, things like that. So rather than think about it as a percentage of your take-home pay, you're thinking about it as here's a realistic amount of money we would need to save up to comfortably afford this thing that we're starting and we're doing together. And it's nice that they have a long time horizon, because that gives them time to do that research and save up the money that they'll need.

Kate Wood: That's true.

Sara Rathner: Well, that is all we have for this episode. Do you have a money question of your own? Turn to the Nerds and call or text us your questions at (901) 730-6373. That's (901) 730-NERD. You could also email us at [email protected]. And if you have a dog or cat, send a photo of them. Also, visit nerdwallet.com/podcast for more info on this episode. And remember to follow, rate, and review us wherever you're getting this podcast.

This episode was produced by Rosalie Murphy, Tess Vigeland and Sean Pyles. We had editing help from Liz Weston. Rosalie and Kaely Monahan mixed our audio. And a big thank you to the folks on the NerdWallet copy desk for all their help.

Kate Wood: And here is our brief disclaimer. We are not financial or investment advisors. This nerdy info is provided for general, educational, and entertainment purposes, and it may not apply to your specific circumstances.

Sara Rathner: And with that said, until next time, turn to the Nerds.