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Should I Consolidate My Student Loans?

If it seems like every time you make the payment on one of your student loans, another one is arriving in your mailbox, then it might be time to consider consolidating your loans so that you have just one single payment to deal with each month – along with some other nice benefits that you may not be aware of.

Consolidating your federal loans, private loans, or both may sound like a nice idea, but should you do it? Below, we will explore the pros and cons of student loan consolidation to help you make a decision.

Consolidate Student Loans

How Student Loan Consolidation Works

Depending on the type of student loan debt that you’re carrying, there are actually two ways to combine these loans into just one. For example, if you only have federal student loans, then the government can combine all of this student debt into what is known as a “Direct Consolidation Loan.”

A Direct Consolidation Loan gives you new repayment terms of between 10 and 30 years, depending on the balance of the new loan. The interest rate on the newly consolidated loan will be determined based on a weighted average of the previous loans’ interest rates. Your prior financial history will not be factored into this rate.

The other option you have for consolidating is to either combine or refinance all of your student debt into just one single private loan. This alternative is open to those who have both government and private student loans.

In this case, because you will be going through a private lender, the interest rate on the new loan will be based on your past credit history. This means that the higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate is likely to be. So, if you have good credit, then a lower interest rate could essentially save you a considerable amount of money on your payment – along with the convenience of only having one monthly payment instead of several.

On the off chance you have bad credit, then explore your options anyway to see what is available on the market.

Advantages To Consolidating Your Student Loans

Even just thinking about consolidating your student loans may cause some people to breathe a sigh of relief. This is because tracking just one loan as versus three or four can be much less stressful on your budget.

There can be other advantages to consolidating your student loans, too. For example, if you are able to obtain a lower rate of interest, you will be keeping more money in your own pocket, rather than paying it out to the lender. This means that you can divert those extra dollars over to paying other bills, or even into a savings or investment account.

If you had to have a cosigner on some or all of your original student loans, moving forward with a consolidation loan may allow you to release him or her from this responsibility. Once that happens, your cosigner will no longer be at risk financially for these loans, in turn, allowing them a better opportunity to qualify for loans of their own such as a home or auto.

Factors To Consider

While it may seem that consolidating your student loans only has its perks, there are still some factors to consider prior to moving forward in order to determine if this is really the best option for you.

First, consolidating your student loans can take some time and effort. That being said, if you are getting close to having all (or most) of your loans paid off, it may make sense to simply leave things the way they are and finish paying off the balances.

This is especially the case if you aren’t having trouble with making the payments. In fact, in some cases, a student loan consolidation may end up costing money if the interest rate is higher than what you are currently paying. You may also be required to pay an origination fee and / or other charges in order to get the new loan in place.

In addition, you could end up paying more in total if the repayment schedule goes for many years into the future. For example, if you were originally set to pay off your multiple loans within just a few years, but the new repayment schedule goes out for 15 or 20 years, then the total lifetime amount of repayment could be considerably more with the new consolidation loan. So, it is important to check all the figures.

Also, if you currently hold a Perkins loan, you could lose access to this particular loan’s cancellation program for teachers and other public service employees if you consolidate it into another loan. For this reason, even if you consolidate your other student loans, you might want to consider keeping this one separate.

Is It “Too Good to Be True?”

When shopping for potential loan consolidation alternatives, be sure that you read all of the “fine print” before you move forward on any deal. This is because not all lenders are created equal – and unfortunately, there are some that will take advantage of those who are down on their luck financially.

For example, if you are offered a loan with terms that appear to be substantially better than all of the other lenders, then it could be a sign that it is a scam. Typically, if the terms sound too good to be true, they probably are.

How To Consolidate Your Student Loans

In order to be eligible for consolidating your student loans, there are some criteria that you need to meet. First, you must either have graduated, or only be enrolled less than half-time. Also, you need to consider the type of loan(s) that you presently have. For example, if you currently have private student debt, these loans are not eligible to be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

In all cases, provided that you are eligible to move forward, it is important to ensure that the interest rate and the overall repayment amount make sense for you financially. In addition, be sure that the lender you choose to go with is reputable and in good financial standing. Checking out the lender through the Better Business Bureau is usually a good place to start in terms of finding reviews, as well as information on any complaints that have been filed over the past few years.

Student Loans Without A Credit Check

As the cost of a college education continues to rise, more students and parents are being saddled with taking on financial aid. Unfortunately, given the tough economic times over the past decade, there are many people who may have bad or no credit, which can make it difficult to qualify for certain types of student funding.

For those looking for student loans with bad or no credit, a no credit check loan may be the easy solution. Below, we will discuss how to get a student loan with no credit check as well as some alternatives, such as unsubsidized federal options.

Student Loans With No Credit Check

Student Loans With A Cosigner

One way to help your application through the student loan process is to go in with a cosigner. This way, you have someone else who will share in the responsibility for the debt – even if he or she won’t actually be repaying it. Simply having a cosigner on the application, especially if they have good credit, means that there is another individual who also has an obligation related to the loan, thereby reducing the risk to the lender. This can help to get the financing pushed through with a private lender as well as lower your interest rate.
Refinance Loans

Student Loans Without A Cosigner

In many cases, there may not be the possibility of you getting a cosigner. For one reason or another, you may not have an available family member who is able to cosign. Or, you may simply opt to secure your student funding on your own.

Alternatively, obtaining a federal grant or a scholarship will provide you with money that won’t require repayment. However, these are often not enough to cover everything that you may need. Therefore, you will likely still require some type of loan.

If you have less than perfect credit, then when it comes to educational funding, government-backed financial aid will typically be your best option. One reason for this is because these types of loans are easy to apply for. There are several federal loans that do not require a formal credit check.

Types of Student Loans Available Without a Credit Check

Federal student loans that do not require a credit check include the Stafford Loan and the Perkins Loan. There are subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans. Subsidized Stafford loans are considered need-based. With these types of loans, the government will pay the interest while you are still in school, and also during the grace period prior to the time that you begin repaying the loan.

Stafford Loans – Subsidized and Unsubsidized

With an unsubsidized Stafford loan – which is not considered to be need-based – the government does not pay the interest while you are still in school. Not all students will be eligible for the maximum amount of this type of loan.

Stafford loans can be appealing due to their low, fixed interest rates. Because Stafford loans are guaranteed by the full faith of the United States government, they are offered at lower interest rates than you would be able to obtain through a private lender.

The funds that are received from these loans can be applied towards your tuition, as well as other related expenses such as books and supplies. Certainly, another key factor with these loans is that they are not based on the borrower’s credit.

Perkins Loans

Perkins loans are also a type of federally funded student loan that are available without a credit check. There are three key factors that can determine the amount of your Perkins loan. These include:

  • Your amount of financial need
  • When you apply for the Perkins loan
  • The funding level at your particular school

Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to obtain Perkins loans. As long as you are still in school and you are taking a minimum amount of course load, the repayment on a Perkins loan begins nine months after graduation.

It is important to note that because all schools do not participate in the Perkins loan program, you should check with your college or university’s financial aid office in order to be sure that they do – especially if you plan to apply for this type of loan.

Other Student Loan Funding Alternatives

There are other student loan funding alternatives such as going through a private lender. Typically, though, going this route will require that you have good credit or that you have a cosigner (who has good credit) on the application with you in order to secure the loan.

On the slight chance that you are able to obtain a loan on your own through a private lender without having to go through a credit check, the chances are that you will have to pay a substantially higher rate of interest in order to compensate for the lender taking on what they would consider to be a high risk loan.

If you do go through a private lender in conjunction with a cosigner, you can oftentimes apply to remove the cosigner from the loan after a certain period of time (such as 36 or 48 months of making consecutive, on-time payments).
Refinance Loans

How To Apply For A No-Credit Check Student Loan

Applying for a no credit check student loan means that you will be going for either a Stafford or a Perkins loan – which are both federally funded options. In order to qualify for either of these types of loans, it will be important to follow the application instructions precisely. You must also get your paperwork turned in on time.

The place to begin when applying for any federally funded loan is with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Any student who is interested in financial aid for college will need to get this paperwork filed through the Office of the U.S. Department of Education. In some cases, you may also need to apply for the loan itself.

Final Word

Having bad or no credit should not prevent you from getting the college education that you desire. While you may need to take some alternate routes in order to obtain the funding that you need, there are options available to you for securing the necessary funds. The first step is getting a good understanding of what is available in terms of funding, as well as what you are eligible for based on your specific financial and credit situation.

Student Loans Without A Cosigner

If you’re a college student, you are probably painfully aware of just how pricey higher education can be. Because of that, student loans – along with student loan debt – have been steadily increasing throughout the years.

Unfortunately, many types of student loans may be difficult for you to obtain without a cosigner. This is because oftentimes students either don’t have strong enough credit and / or just simply don’t have enough income to guarantee the loan’s repayment on their own.

While your parent(s) or other loved ones may want to help out by cosigning on a student loan for you, this can also be a risky financial move for them, as it can make them responsible for tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars in repayment.

The good news is that there are financing options available today that do not require you to have a cosigner. Going with one or more of these alternatives can ease the potential financial burden on your would-be cosigner, while at the same time providing you with the funds that are necessary to move forward on your education.

Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Student Loans With No Cosigner Required

There are a variety of options available – both government and private – that can be explored. These include the following:

Federal Student Loans

The first step you should take in your search for financing without a cosigner is to explore the many benefits offered via federal student aid. The U.S. Department of Education provides financing, as well as grants and scholarships – so not all of the options will require you to repay the funds that are provided to you.

There are numerous funding alternatives available, but the most popular federal student aid options include the:

Stafford Loan

The Stafford Loan is actually available in two different formats. One is need-based on your income, where the U.S. government will pay the interest while you are in school, as well as during the grace period before the repayment period begins. This is referred to as a “subsidized” Stafford Loan.

The other type, an “unsubsidized” Stafford Loan, is not considered to be need-based on your income. With this type of Stafford Loan, any student who submits FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will be eligible to receive the aid. However, you will also be responsible for paying any of the interest that accrues – even while you are still in school.

Perkins Loan

Perkins loans are low-interest federal student loans that are made to both undergraduate and graduate students who exhibit exceptional financial need. With this type of loan, your school actually acts as the lender. Therefore, you will make your repayments to either your school, or to the loan servicer that is working with your school. You can be enrolled either full- or part-time in order to be eligible for a Perkins Loan.

PLUS Loan

PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional students, or parents of dependent undergraduate students, can use to pay either for college expenses or for career schooling. The lender on a PLUS loan is the United States Department of Education, and the most that you can borrow through this type of loan is the cost of attendance (as determined by your institution), minus any other financial aid that you are receiving.

Typically, a PLUS loan will have a higher rate of interest than other types of student loans. However, the rate is still generally lower than the rates that you will find on private loans – and, these loans can be obtained without having a credit check performed on the borrower, which can be a big advantage.

Private Student Loans

In addition to the government funding options, you could also turn to the many alternatives that are available via private lenders. These sources of financing will generally need to be approved through a lender, and as a borrower, you will usually have to have a credit score of at least 660 or higher.

If you do meet all of the necessary criteria, though, obtaining private funding can allow you to obtain flexible terms on your loan such as deferring your payments, or paying interest-only for the first few years until your income increases and you are able to pay more.

There are numerous private student loan lenders. These include large banks and financial institutions as well as other financial entities such as Sallie Mae.

Factors To Consider When Applying Without A Cosigner

Although obtaining financing without a cosigner can provide the benefit of keeping your parents or other cosigner “off the hook” for the repayment, there are still some potential drawbacks to moving forward in this manner.

One of the biggest disadvantages is that you may not be able to obtain as much money as you need. Just like everything else, the cost of education is continuing to rise – and with the maximum caps on federal student financing, these funds may not provide you with enough to pay the entire tab.

Another factor to consider is the fact that when a lender has more security of a repayment, the interest rate provided on a loan is often lower. That being the case, if you apply for private funding on your own, you may end up with a higher rate of interest on your loan than you would have if you went in with a cosigner – and over time, even a slightly higher rate of interest can make a big difference in the amount of money that you will pay back.

How To Take The Next Step

In order to move forward in your quest for student funding, the best first step is to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is typically required by many colleges and universities – and it is a must in order for you to obtain financial aid, especially if you are planning to obtain funds without a cosigner. The FAFSA application can be easily completed online.

When seeking financial support, keep in mind that in addition to just borrowing the funds you need, you should also consider applying for scholarships and grants. That way, you won’t have as much to repay if approved – which can be an extremely wise financial move.

The Bank of Mom & Dad- Rising Tuition Costs

Parent Loans

 

As rising tuition costs pile mounting debt on students, lenders and colleges are asking for additional alternatives: Load more debt on their parents.

A rising number of private student loan lenders are introducing parent loans, which allow borrowers to fund their kid’s education without putting their student on the hook. The loans mirrors a similar federal program (Parent Plus Loans) but don’t charge the hefty upfront fee levied by the government (4.3%), which could make them cheaper and encourage more use.  Parents will be able to borrow at interest rates ranging from about 3.75% to 10%, with 5 or 10 years to pay it off, depending on the lender.

The average student debt for graduates with a bachelor’s degree is projected to be $37,000 for 2016, up 78% from a decade ago, according to a recent WSJ article.

This is mostly due to the fact that the average annual cost of a four-year, private college, including room and board, has climbed 53% in the past 10 years, to $43,921, according to the College Board.  For public schools, it is up 61%, to $19,548 for in-state students.

3 Top Excuses Why You Are Not Saving

1) I Don’t know where to get started when is coming to savings?

About 50% of millennials and nearly 40% of Generation X feel they do not know what their best investment options are, according to a survey by Schwab Retirement Plan Services.

A good place to start is your workplace retirement account — likely a 401k plan.  Ideally, set aside 15% of your annual pay but contribute at least enough to get the full matching contribution from your employer, if it offers a match.

2) I Have Too Much Student-Loan Debt

More than 1/3 of millennials say they cannot set aside more money for retirement because they are still paying off student loans, according to the Schwab Retirement Plan Services survey.  Look into loan consolidation and refinancing programs so you can lower your monthly payments and save money by doing so. Take that savings and set up a savings or investment account.

3) I Need to Save for a House

Homeownership still is a big part of the “American dream.” In fact, nearly 2/3 of adults view homeownership as either “an accomplishment to be proud of” or “a dream come true,” according to a survey by Wells Fargo. However, if you aspire to own a home, you likely dream of retiring someday, too.

In fact, you should start saving for retirement as soon as possible, then start putting money away for a home when you can afford to do both.  Another option is to look for ways to earn extra income and cut unnecessary expenses in order to save for the down payment.

What You Should Know About Student Loans and Marriage

It’s that time of year again when wedding bells start ringing a little more loudly! Spring heralds the beginning of “wedding season,” and with that comes a union of more than just two lovebirds. Newly wedded couples will share families, a home and (perhaps a bit less romantically) any accrued debt. If you’re tying the knot, make sure you look objectively at your options for money management, such as student loan debt consolidation. Read on in the infographic below for our tips and tricks on merging wedded bliss with student debt, so there won’t be any reason that these two can not be wed!

Tying the knot

 

 

 

How To Consolidate Your Student Loans

College students who rely on student loans to pay for their education will often find themselves with several, if not a dozen or more, separate loans upon graduation.

The complication of managing multiple loans has made loan consolidation an appealing service to many cash-strapped graduates. However, like many things involving finances, deciding whether consolidation is right for you and determining how to go about it can seem complicated on the surface.

This guide explains how to consolidate your student loans online. As we explore the process, you will learn about the benefits and guidelines for determining if consolidating your loans is right for your financial situation.

How to Consolidate

What is student loan consolidation?

Student loan consolidation is where you take two or more of your unpaid student loans and combine them into one. This option is most appealing to the student who has become buried in multiple loan payments that have become due.

When you consolidate your student loans, this means that a lending institution pays off your loans for you and replaces them with a new single loan. Now, instead of making multiple monthly payments to each of your lenders, you would make a single monthly payment to your new lending institution.

What are the benefits of student loan consolidation?

The primary benefit of consolidating is that it frees up more cash for other expenses. What often happens is that graduates will be stuck with so many different loan payments, that they can’t even afford to make all of the minimum payments without sacrificing on the necessary expenses of independent living such as rent, food, and utilities.

The timing is often unfortunate for the recent graduates: they must make the most payments when they are just starting their careers and probably have the lowest income they will ever have in their lives. For many, consolidating their loans can be an effective way to get the breathing room they need while they figure out how to raise their income and manage their finances.

How do I know if consolidation is right for me?

Generally speaking, it is wise to use about 20% of your income to pay off your long-term debts no matter what your income level. This insures that you will not be burdened by debt for too long yet leaves enough income to live on without having to make unreasonable sacrifices.

You can use this “20% Rule” as a guideline. Sometimes, by having multiple loans, you will be forced to pay more than 20% of your income towards your debts because of the sum of all the minimum payments and because of the fact that you have a relatively low income because you are just starting out in your career.

However, simplifying doesn’t guarantee savings. If your only reason for consolidating is because you have a hard time keeping track of all the payments you may want to consider using auto-debit and using a service like Personal Capital to track all of your debt in a single location.

The goal of consolidation should be to reduce the monthly payment requirements by eliminating the need for multiple minimum payments. Do the math. If the numbers work then it may be a good option for you.

What if I have a poor credit score?

If you have a “fair” or “poor” credit score you may want to focus on improving your credit score before you try to consolidate your loan. You will likely not be able to get a good interest rate or even a loan at all. If you have a poor credit score and can’t afford to make your payments, applying for forbearance on your federal loans may be a better option for you. You can use the extended grace period to save some money and get a better paying job.

saving money

Understanding Your Student Loans

You likely have multiple student loans. To make matters more complicated, you might even have several types of loans. Each type of loan has it’s own rules. Here’s the basic of what you need to know:

Federal Loans

This type of loan is funded with government money. Typically, they come with low interest rates and flexible repayment options. These loans do not require any collateral or credit check, making them very popular with students. Federal student loans come in one of three forms:

  • Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized)
  • Perkins Loans
  • PLUS Loans

Private Loans

These loans are provided by private lenders and do not use government funding. Students usually turn to these loans if the financial aid offered through their school was not enough to cover tuition. The interest rate on these loans is determined by your credit score and will typically be higher than federal loans but lower than credit card interest. In all likelihood, any loan you have that is not a Stafford, Perkins, or PLUS is a private loan.

Choosing Federal vs. Private Consolidation

You have two basic options for combining your student loans: federal consolidation or consolidating into a private loan (refinancing).

Federal Consolidation

This option is available only for federal loans (e.g. Perkins, Stafford). The government combines your separate loans into a single loan and your new interest rate is a weighted average of your previous rates.

Federal consolidations offers two key advantages:

  • Income-driven repayment plans – if your monthly student loan payment is more than 10% of your income you can lower your payments by providing proof of your income.
  • Public service loan forgiveness – if you consolidate your direct loans (e.g. Stafford and Perkins) you can have your remaining loan balances dissolved after 10 years in a public service job.

However, there are a couple of drawback you need to be aware of:

  • Longer loan repayment schedule – while you can get your monthly payments reduced based on your income, this means that you may need to add additional years to your repayment plan because of all the extra interest you will be paying.
  • Loss of Perkins loan forgiveness – The Perkins loan has its own loan cancellation programs for teachers and other public service employees. You may lose these benefits if you consolidate your Perkins loan into other loans. Read the requirements carefully and make a decision that is best-suited for your plans.

Private Refinancing

Refinancing offers you a new interest rate based on your financial condition. If you have a good credit score and a steady income you could combine all your loans and get a lower interest rate. You can consolidate both your federal and private loans through a private loan consolidation firm.

Of course, the drawback of using a private loan consolidation firm is that you will forfeit the protections you had with your federal loans such as forbearance and loan forgiveness programs. Also, you will need a good credit score to benefit from a private loan refinance.

piggy bank

Deciding on a Repayment Plan

The simplest way to pay off your debts is to allocate 20% of your income towards debt payments. Calculate what that number is and pay that every month by using auto-debit. If your income increases then you increase your monthly payments accordingly. This plan will insure that you pay off your debts in a timely manner yet still have enough income leftover where you won’t have to make unreasonable sacrifices.

Bundling Your Loans With Your Spouse’s Loans

Many debt-ridden graduates find themselves in a position where they are married to a spouse who has student loans as well. It is possible to consolidate both persons loan into a single loan. Just don’t take this decision lightly. If you should ever divorce your spouse you will be responsible for the entire loan if the other is unable to pay. If you are going to consolidate your loans together you need to be intensely committed to staying married through life’s ups and downs and never divorcing.

Gathering the Needed Information

Once you’ve decided to consolidate your loan, you need to gather all the essential info. You will typically be required to complete the application in one sitting so you don’t want to be shuffling around trying to find the information during the application.

You should have the following items ready:

  • Loan servicer names, addresses, and phone numbers
  • Loan types (e.g. Stafford, Perkins, PLUS, etc.
  • Account numbers
  • Balances
  • Federal Student ID
  • Personal information: driver’s license, address, phone number, email address
  • Employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • Two references (full names, addresses, phone numbers, and relationships to you)
  • Your last 2 paystubs

The actual application requirements may vary slightly depending on the institution and your financial circumstance, but it’s best to be over prepared than trying to scramble to find the right document before you run out of time.

Applying for a Consolidation Loan

If you’d like to apply for a federal loan consolidation, you can do that at StudentLoans.gov. If you’d like to apply for a private loan consolidation you can take advantage of Cedar Education Lending’s consolidation application. We work with a lot of different lenders to provide the best rates and repayment options available.

Can Love Conquer Debt? 5 Questions for the Serious Dater to Consider

Conquer Debt
Meeting that special someone is one of the most exciting experiences in life. Finally, you’ve found someone who understands you, someone who shares the same interests and passions as you.

But at some point in the relationship, finances will become an issue of concern. Many people rarely consider finances until after they’re married. This is bound to lead to trouble though, as finances are the #1 cause of conflict between married couples.

Now, you don’t need to sit down and cross every “t” and dot every “i” in regards to money before you get married. But if you sense the relationship is getting serious, there are some important questions that you will want to discuss with your significant other before you can confidently move forward towards marriage.

1. Do you have a similar philosophy when it comes to handling money?

Undoubtedly, you will have at least slightly different opinions on handling money. Your partner may be more willing to tolerate risks (or vice versa). You may be a deal hunter while they prefer specific brands, or perhaps one person has an expensive hobby.

These differences in preferences is inevitable. Part of maturing in a relationship is learning to understand the other person’s needs and wants and being willing to accommodate them.

However, while different preferences can be tolerated, what is extremely difficult to overcome is having fundamentally different philosophies on money-handling. For example, you will want to make sure that you are on the same page with the following questions:

Does your partner believe in saving/investing for the future?
If you’re religious, does your partner believe in tithing to your local church?
Is your partner willing to cut back expenses if needed to ensure your income remains higher than your expenses?
If either one of you brings debt to the relationship, do you have similar views on the best way to pay off the debt? (e.g. a fixed percentage of your income, consolidation, a debt forgiveness program, etc.)

If you can come to an agreement on these fundamental questions, then it’s just a matter of discussing definitions. What may seem like an “investment” to one person may be seen as an “expense” to the other. Or what one may be seen as being “thrifty” might be seen as “stingy” to the other.

These are not always easy issues to resolve, but if you have the same fundamental views of money-handling you can at least agree on the basic purpose of your money.

Hidden Debts

2. How is your significant other financing their current lifestyle? Do they have hidden debts?

At the point you start dating, your significant other will have a certain lifestyle that they have grown accustomed to. It is worth asking yourself how they finance their lifestyle.

For example, consider these common causes of debt to find out if your partner is living in a bubble that will pop sooner or later:

Reduced income/same expenses – A very common source of debt stems from simply not bringing in enough income to pay regular expenses. Someone might lead a modest lifestyle but may be relying on credit cards to make up the difference in their basic expenses like groceries, rent, utilities, cell phone, etc. If your significant other does not seem to be working much yet lives a “normal” lifestyle, you may want to raise this concern to find out where they are getting their income.

Gambling – This can be a serious issue and one that might be difficult to detect. There are many ways to gamble and most can be easily hidden or even seem harmless on the surface. Obviously, if you’re concerned you should just ask your partner. If you (or your friends or family) still suspect there might be a problem you will want to keep your eyes open–it will become apparent soon enough. You may want to reconsider the relationship if a gambling problem becomes evident.

Medical expenses – This is an unfortunate form of debt that many people struggle with. The good news is that medical expenses usually don’t indicate a character problem, but nevertheless debt is debt and must be dealt with accordingly. If your partner requires frequent operations or expensive medications you will want to make sure that they have a definite plan for paying off that debt and securing enough income to be able to afford the needed medical expenses.

Education – A very common source of debt, especially among Millennials. Experts argue whether or not student loan debt is “worth it” but if you have it you will need to make sure that you can find a market demand for your abilities and can market yourself so you can quickly turn your experience and expertise into a reasonably high income.

Lack of savings – If your partner seems to constantly “get in trouble” financially you may need to ask them if they regularly save. You do not need to bring this up during the moment of the crisis, but perhaps after things settle down you can ask how they approach saving money. We can expect life to give us trouble from time to time and having some money set aside can give us a cushion for these “expected surprises” rather than having to get into debt every time.

3. Are they willing to undergo financial training with you?

Mastering your finances takes time and discipline so you shouldn’t expect your partner to have everything perfectly together financially. However, you do want to make sure that they are willing to learn. If they willing to learn and correct their mistakes then all of the above problems can be overcome. But if they seem to shrug off financial education as something “boring” or “stupid” then this may an early warning sign: they may never come around.

Here are a few financial training resources that many people have benefited from:
The Richest Man in Babylon – a classic book on financial wisdom written as a series of parables. It was written in 1926 and is still a bestseller today!
Dave Ramsey – a very popular financial advisor and author. Good for those who feel they need the “tough love” approach.
Ramit Sethi – very popular with Millennials. Shows you how to rely more on automation and less and willpower to make your money go where it needs to go.

4. Are they future-oriented?

Handling money requires a future-orientation of some degree. Most of the material things in life that matter most (e.g. house, education, passive income, career advancement, etc.) require thinking ahead and making plans. Very often, to obtain these things we must sacrifice some things that we might want in the moment (e.g. eating out, entertainment, hobbies, etc.).

Much of life is a balancing act between future-orientation and present-orientation. On the one hand, if we spend all our money on pleasures in the here-and-now we will still be poor and maybe even worse off when we are older. On the other hand, if you neglect the present, you may find yourself with more money but also a career that you hate, an unhappy family life, and very few real friends.

The reason you want to know if your significant other is future-oriented is because future-orientation is a result of maturity. Present-orientation is a natural childlike state (that we sometimes lose if we obsess over material success.) You want to marry someone who both enjoys life and can make good life decisions!

Emotions of Debt

5. Do they let their emotions determine their financial decisions?

In a manner of speaking we usually make financial decisions based on emotions. We pay for what we value. We exchange our money for things we believe will make our lives happier.

However, it is dangerous if one is unable to check those emotional desires with logic. There will always be some shady salesman or marketer that will peddle useless products by appealing to the buyer’s emotions.

It’s perfectly fine to get excited and purchase things that will bring pleasure and betterment to our lives. We just have to be able to discern, to the best of our ability, both if something is “legit” and if it is an appropriate purchase given the present situation.
Does your significant other pass the test?
The compatibility of your financial philosophies doesn’t need to be viewed as a “pass/fail” test. Nobody’s perfect and true love and trust can overcome financial problems. But financial problems don’t go away overnight and you can expect to be in it for the long haul. So before you “tie the knot” be sure that, in addition to simply enjoying each other, there is a foundation of general agreement and transparency when it comes to finances.

Degrees with the Best/Worst Employment Opportunities

Finding the right career involves a lot hard work and research. Take a look at this infographic highlighting the best bachelor’s degrees. We list the best and worst careers according to salary, projected job growth, and, current job environment.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, not shocking, are high up on the list. Actors and oil rig workers, unfortunately, are among the occupations at the bottom of the list

best degrees

 

 

How Federal Loan Consolidation Works

How federal loan consolidation works

If you choose to consolidate your federal loans, the federal government pays off your existing loan balance and replaces your loans with a direct consolidation loan. What should you expect?

1. A new interest rate, which is the weighted average of all your prior loans’ rates rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of 1%. (If the average comes to 4.36%, for instance, your new interest rate will be 4.475%.) Interest rates on direct loans are fixed, which is different from a variable rate, which can fluctuate based on market conditions.

2. The government then will assign you a new repayment schedule based on your loan balance. Below if a table that lists how the government determines the length of your repayment term:
Federal Student Loan Consolidation

What are some of the advantages? For one, you can postpone payments on a loan during times of economic hardship. You are also given theopportunity to take advantage of plans that allow you to make payments tied to your income.

Remember, consolidating your loans with the federal government is free. You can consolidate your loans through studentloans.gov.