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Top 10 Student Loan Tips for Recent Graduates and Not So Recent Too

Whether you just graduated, you’re taking a break from school, or have already started repaying your student loans, these tips will help you keep your student loan debt under control.

By “under control” I’m talking about:

  • avoiding fees and extra interest costs
  • keeping your payments affordable
  • protecting your credit rating
  • paying those loans in full as quickly as possible

If you’re having trouble finding a job or keeping up with your payments, there’s vitally important information here for you, too.

female student worried over student debt and bills

1. Know your loans

It’s crucial that you keep track of the lender, balance, and repayment status for each of your student loans. These details determine your options for loan repayment and possibilities for forgiveness.

If you’re not sure, ask your lender or visit StudentAid.gov. You can log in and see the loan amounts, lender(s), and repayment status for all of your federal loans.

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Ask Me Anything: Tamari, Dishwasher Cleaner, Expired Sunscreen, Toilet Rings, and MORE

It’s time to reach into the inbox to answer more questions from my loyal readers—answers to which I suspect might be of interest to others.

I love receiving your questions, by the way, so keep them coming!

A mailbox full of mail against a blue and puffy white cloud sky

 

Contents

1. What is tamari?

2. What happened to Glisten?

3. Secret in sunscreen

4. Stubborn toilet ring 

5. Shrinking tuna

6. Get out Wite-Out

7. Insolvent parents

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Should you Repair or Replace your Broken Appliances?

You’re worried the washing machine may be on its last spin cycle. It makes a horrible screeching sound and needs a lot of coaxing to make it all the way through a full cycle. Should you spend $319 to fix this inefficient appliance or replace it with a $999 new model that will use less electricity and water?

Deciding whether to repair or replace your broken appliance—especially when trying to discover which option will save money in the long run—can be challenging.

Set of household kitchen technics on yellow background. Set of a

Consider these basic guidelines and suggestions to help you decide, based on costs for replacement and repairs and the advantages of new models.

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What to Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills?

You’ve lost your job. You’re furloughed. Perhaps your hours have been severely cut back. For whatever reason, suddenly you don’t have enough money to pay all of your bills.

You’re scared, angry, worried, and seriously overwhelmed. You may have promises of unemployment benefits and stimulus-type money coming, but when? What are you supposed to do right now? Which bills should you pay first and which ones can slide for a while?

couple worried stress over bills

This is not easy. But I want to assure you that it is doable. As bleak and horrible as things look right now, you will come through this. We’ll do this together.

Here’s a basic rule of thumb according to the Boston-based National Consumer Law Center in its book, Surviving Debt:

“Always pay essential expenses first. If any money is left, you can decide which nonessential debts, if any, to keep in your expense budget.”

That’s a great directive, but what is an essential expense? How do you know the difference between essential and non-essential when you need groceries, the car payment is past due, and the bank just left a threatening voicemail message?

Grab paper and pen

Create two columns and label them: Essential, Non-Essential. Now, let’s take that stack of bills and the expenses you have right now and separate them into those two columns by asking this question of each one: What’s the consequence if we don’t pay it right now? 

  • An essential expense represents a serious obligation that if not paid could produce immediate severe, even life-threatening consequences. These are the expenses you must pay first, in order of the severity of the consequence if you don’t pay.
  • A non-essential expense represents an obligation that if not paid right now might harm your credit score, or require you to make a phone call, make you feel embarrassed—but will not result in a serious consequence right now.

As you fill the two columns, keep in mind not all of your essential expenses of food, essential medication, and gasoline. You won’t have a statement for those “bills,” but they are critical expenses and you must allow for them in this process.

Rule to follow right now

Here’s the rule to follow as you make your two lists and then prioritize them by the severity of the consequences to either pay or let slide:

Do not make payments on non-essential expenses and debt when you have not paid essential expenses even if your nonessential creditors are breathing down your neck with phone calls and threatening messages.

We’re going to concentrate first on your essential expenses that if you do not pay will create life-threatening or otherwise very serious consequences. And we’re going to do this in a specific order.

Do not misunderstand!

I am not suggesting that you should just walk away from your financial obligations. You must pay your creditors, you must pay your bills. To not pay them is not an option.

Of course, it is not ideal to let some of your bills slide for awhile. But your situation is what it is. Your resources are severely limited. In time, as things improve (they will) you will be able to get caught up completely.

But for now, you need to know how to get through this month.

Prioritize

Once you’ve determined which bills are essential, prioritize them according to the severity of the consequences you will suffer for non-payment.

Here is a guide to follow, listed by priority. Read more

5 Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

Is money a little tight? Hoping a raise will come through soon? I hate to burst your bubble, but even if it is exceptional, a raise probably won’t do much good. 

By the time a raise is adjusted for taxes, you’ll be lucky to see half of it in your bank account. And if that’s not bad enough, it’s a common problem that when you earn more, you automatically spend more. Reckless spending can consume a lot of cash, fast. 

Woman opening bright pink wallet to discover complete lack of money

 

The degree of reckless spending seems to rise in direct proportion to income. It won’t be long until you are back in your old financial rut just barely getting by. Sadly, until you get serious about your spending, more money will never be enough.

The secret to getting cash inflow to exceed outflow is to reduce the outflow. That is a solution available to almost everyone.

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9 Easy Moves That Will Simplify Your Spending

Confused and stressed out about how to manage your money so you don’t run out before payday? Put these nine easy moves into action and you’ll be well on your way to simplify your spending.

a chess board covered in US five dollar bills with chess pieces in play

 

I know what you’re thinking—simplify and spending in the same sentence? Ha! Like that’s even possible when we have credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, bills, bill-pay, auto-pay, fees, penalties, interest rates, and fees to keep track of. How can we possibly make managing money simple?

By having a plan. By choosing to become accountable and then using every tactic possible to streamline and de-stress your money.

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Savvy Shopper Tricks and Treats

You think shopping is what you do when you buy things. That’s true, but it’s more than that. Shopping is a competition with you on one side and retailers on the other. And whenever the store gets more of your money than you planned to leave behind, they’ve executed a brilliant shopping trick. They win.

What follow are the tricks that retailers don’t want you to know. Learn them well and you’ll you’ll turn the tables on them. You’ll start winning at the shopping game!

girl in black dress and witch hat holding shopping bags, looking at camera and smiling

TRICK: Buy only the loss-leaders and get out of there

A loss leader is something retailers sell so cheap, they’re losing money on the deal. Buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) is a great example. It’s like bait to get you into the store because they know if they can do that, you’ll buy other stuff at full price. The trick is to take just enough cash so you can buy up all of the loss leaders you will use and then get out of there.

Why stores hate this trick. Retailers hold sales to increase their cash flow—not to save you money. They do anything they can to get you through the door. Statistics tell them that once you’re in the door, there is a high statistical likelihood that you will pick up enough full-priced items to more than make up for that loss leader. It’s a risk on their part and when you don’t follow their plan, they lose. You win.

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How to Win the Credit Card Balance Transfer Game

There’s nothing fun about credit card debt. An outstanding balance of $5,000 that is subject to 19.99% interest means you’re paying about $1,000 a year just in interest. Imagine if that $1,000 could go directly to repaying the balance instead. You could pay it off in record time instead of stringing it out for many years.

If you’re carrying credit card debt, transferring that balance to a new credit card with a 0% introductory rate could be the way out of your heavy debt situation. Just beware: There are pitfalls in the balance transfer game that if not avoided could end up making your situation worse, not better.

 

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To play the balance transfer game well requires financial maturity and personal discipline. Are you up to it? Should you wish to play, you’ll need to adopt this strategy to come out a winner:

Fine print

Find a balance transfer credit card application. You want one that offers at least 15 months of 0% interest, has no annual fee, and a small if any, balance transfer fee. Search at IndexCreditCards.com. Read the application very carefully. Know exactly what’s in the terms and conditions.

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