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County ranked 6th in state for savings

According to a recent study, Covington County ranked sixth in the state and was above the national average of best places where it pays the most to save money.

Smart Asset calculated the results by calculating the net median income by subtracting the average cost of living for a household with two adults from the median household income in each county.

To compare income tax burdens across counties, they applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating federal, state and local income taxes for a family making $50,000 annual income in each location.

Next, they created an effective tax rate index for each county that reflects the counties with the lowest ratio of income taxes to the assumed $50,000 annual income. They subtracted the taxes the family would have to pay on the net median income in each county and assumed the difference would be put into a savings account for the next five years. Next, they applied the average savings account rate in each county to this amount and calculated how much interest the money would earn over the next five years. When there was no county-level savings account rate data, they applied the statewide average to that county.

With Covington County, they calculated that the net median income was $10,000, the effective tax rate being 17.57 percent, the average savings account rate being 0.38 percent, the interest earned being $160, the savings rate return being 0.41 percent and the savings return rate index being 8.43.

The top five counties in the state above Covington County were Dale County at five, Talladega County at four, Blount County at three, Russell County at two and Madison County at one.

With the holiday season coming around, Andalusia High School alumnus and financial advisor Evan Brooks has tips for people looking to save money.

“The first thing that I would say is that it is important to have a budget,” Brooks said. “I would say make one that includes things that you spend the most on outside of your monthly bills. Most of the time, people make a budget that says, ‘I spend this much on power, water, rent and gas,’ but they don’t really account for things like eating out or entertainment. It is important to be honest with yourself with how much you are spending outside of your fixed expenses.”

Another tip Brooks said is to pay off debt that has the highest interest rate first.

“Things like credit cards, you want to take care of first,” Brooks said. “It’s tempting when you have, let’s say, $5,000 left to pay off on a car to just go ahead and pull the trigger, but most of the time, you are going to be better served paying off your highest interest debt first.”

One thing that could be detrimental to someone’s wallet during the holiday season is payday loan services, Brooks said.

“The problem with predatory lending, which is what those are, is that most of the time there will be a promotional interest rate then after a period of time, you’ll have to pay interest on not only what you have left, but also what you have already paid off,” Brooks said. “Let’s say you took a loan for $1,000 at two percent for six weeks. If you don’t pay that off in six weeks, even if you’ve already paid off half, they are going to charge you the higher interest rate on the whole shebang. That’s how people get stuck in that loan shark cycle.”

Since Andalusia is a smaller town in the state, Brooks suggests finding a credit union instead of joining bigger banks.

“Banks like Wells Fargo and Regions are intended to serve larger businesses,” Brooks said. “And their monthly fees and stuff like that are going to be a lot higher than with a local credit union. The longer you have a relationship with a credit union, when you actually want to buy a house or a new car, they are going to be able to give you a much better lending rate than a bank would.”

If anyone would like to speak with Brooks about saving money, contact 334-488-3243. He said he would be glad to answer any questions.