A Million-Dollar Toddler, Debt Destroyers, and Side Hustle Masters: NextAdvisor’s Top Stories of the Year

Collage image to accompany NextAdvisor article roundup of the top money stories of the year.
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A mom whose toddler is on track to be a millionaire by the time she’s 16.

A burnt-out attorney who erased $150,000 of student debt by launching a thriving online business. 

A Chinese-American money expert who had to forget what her parents taught her to become successful in the U.S.

This year, amid a challenging and volatile economy, we were drawn to stories of people who empowered themselves by learning about money and taking control of their finances. 

“I’m dedicating my life to helping people, especially a lot of people of color that don’t have access to this information, to get access to the information because it can be the thing that changes the financial situation for generations,” Dominique Broadway, CEO of Finances De·mys·ti·fied, told us earlier this year. Broadway is the strategist behind her daughter’s investment portfolio, which is on track to make the 1-year-old a millionaire by the time she’s 16.

“Every time I get a new client, the first thing they say is, ‘It’s just so nice to hear someone talk about money that looks and sounds like me,” Delyanne Barros told us earlier this year. Barros recently quit her full-time job as a lawyer to focus on her investing education business, where she teaches beginners how to achieve financial independence.

Whether you’re writing new rules for your own financial future, shoring up on the fundamentals of debt management and saving, or even buying or refinancing a home, we want to help. This year, millions of readers came to NextAdvisor for news, actionable information, and expert advice for every stage of their financial journey.  

Here are some of our best and most popular stories of the year. From cryptocurrency to investing to paying off debt, they continue to excite and inspire us as we look to the future. Thanks for reading.

Top NextAdvisor Stories of the Year

Cryptocurrency

Image to accompany article about Bitcoin's price history.
Getty Images / Magnilion / Illustration / NextAdvisor

Cryptocurrency had a big year in 2021, capturing people’s attention and compelling investors to consider whether speculative digital assets belong in their portfolio. Bitcoin and Ethereum — the two biggest cryptos — both set multiple new all-time highs, and are set to end the year as valuable as they’ve ever been.

But how do you smartly invest in something like Bitcoin, for which a 15% drop in value is just a normal afternoon? Could new government crypto regulation bring it all to an end tomorrow? And what even is blockchain? A lot of reasonable, everyday investors are asking themselves these questions, and we’ve done our best to reach outside the crypto bubble and connect everyday investors with guidance from diverse money experts who tell it like it is.

Investing for Financial Independence

A photo to accompany a story about Dominique Broadway, who opened an investing portfolio worth $50,000 for her 18-month-old daughter
Dominique Broadway is investing for her daughter’s future. The 1-year-old’s investments put her on track to become a millionaire by the time she’s 16.Courtesy of Dominique Broadway

Time and again this year, we were reminded by experts that the best investing strategy has nothing to do with meme stocks, retail trading, or even cryptocurrency. It’s much simpler: invest early, invest often, and invest in a diversified portfolio for the long term, ideally with low-cost index funds. We’ve compiled all the resources you need to get started, from recommendations for the best online brokerages to advice from a multimillionaire about the simple investing strategy he wishes he’d known when starting out. 

Investing is one of the best ways to build generational wealth and secure your financial independence. And you don’t need years of experience or thousands of dollars to get started. From a mother who’s setting her daughter up for a solid financial future, to a money coach who went from being in debt to being on track to retire early, we’ve collected the stories — and advice — of investors with diverse backgrounds who are using the stock market to pursue financial independence and challenge old notions of investing.

Homebuying, Refinancing, and the Housing Market 

A photo to accompany a story about the Netflix show Marriage or Mortgage
Alex and Whitney Morgan try on wedding dresses while contemplating whether to spend their savings on a marriage or a mortgage. The couple starred on Netflix’s “Marriage or Mortgage” show earlier this year, and shared their reasoning for a choosing to spend their money on a wedding instead of a down payment on a house.Courtesy of Netflix

Between historically-low mortgage rates and a red-hot housing market, this year has presented new opportunities and challenges for homeowners and homebuyers. First-time homebuyers struggled to find a house amid rising home prices and stiff competition, while existing homeowners were able to take advantage of low rates to get a good deal on a refinance or tap into their increased home equity with a cash-out refinance

This year’s housing market was especially tough, but being knowledgeable and prepared can make the homebuying process easier and less stressful. We’ve shared the stories of first-time homebuyers who were able to purchase their dream home after losing bidding wars for four months — as well as a couple who decided that homeownership wasn’t the right choice for them at this time. We covered the systemic inequalities behind the large Black homeownership gap, and highlighted the efforts of people who are working to make the housing market more equitable. We’ve sought advice from mortgage experts and ordinary homebuyers who have been through the process firsthand, to help you make the best homebuying decisions in any market.

Building and Using Credit

Credit cards and loans are powerful financial tools, used daily by millions of Americans. But with that power comes plenty of risk, which can easily snowball into expensive, high-interest debt that holds people down and pushes financial independence further away. Whether you are just starting to build your credit profile, or working to rebuild and improve your credit score, there are great ways to accelerate it. 

For people of color, those from low-income houses, and immigrants, the U.S. credit system can be difficult to access in the first place. We covered that problem, along with ways people can take action to change it. For those who already use credit cards, loans, and other forms of credit, it comes down to the fundamentals: have a plan to make payments on time and in full, and an emergency fund to fall back on if times get tough. Getting out of debt is difficult, but sharing lessons and experience from those who’ve done it is a key part of our coverage.

News 

A volunteer helps prepare food for pickup at a mobile food pantry in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 30, 2021. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) got its largest permanent increase since 2006 in October, a move that means more money to spend on groceries for millions of Americans.
A volunteer helps prepare food for pickup at a mobile food pantry in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 30, 2021. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) got its largest permanent increase since 2006 in October, a move that means more money to spend on groceries for millions of Americans.John Puterbaugh / NextAdvisor

The pandemic was again the big news story of the year in 2021. Its enormous impact was clear in all the major stories this year: unemployment, stimulus packages, child tax credit payments. And with the Omicron variant threatening to bring in 2022 with another big wave, it seems we’re ending the year practically where we started it. 

But behind every challenge Americans faced this year, there are ways to navigate it. When the news cycle moves as quickly as it has the last couple years, it’s even more important to explain not just what people need to know about what’s going on, but what they can do about it.

More People and Their Stories 

A photo to accompany a story about the Child Tax Credit
Rita-Soledad Fernández Paulino, pictured with her family, is a parent and personal finance expert. She shared her plans to put her Child Tax Credit advance payment toward child care costs while saving money for a future down payment on a home. She says parents should feel comfortable using the payments however they feel is most necessary.Courtesy of Rita-Soledad Fernández Paulino

Without people, there is no story worth telling, and no advice worth giving. At the end of the day, everything we do at NextAdvisor is to inform and empower people, and especially those who are most underrepresented in positions of power and influence. So whenever we can, we look for people who have their own stories of empowerment. Here are just a few stories from some of the people who inspired us this year.

Image caption: A young Shang Saavedra, age 12, at Acadia National Park in Maine.
Shang Saavedra, a successful entrepreneur and money expert, moved from China to the U.S. as a child with her family. A 12-year-old Saavedra is pictured here at Acadia National Park in Maine. Saavedra shared her money mindset story with readers earlier this year about how she had to unlearn what her parents taught her to succeed in America.Courtesy of Shang Saavedra