Controlling Debt While You’re in College

1. Don’t wait until you finish school to start paying back those student loans. Even if you’re only paying the interest that’s accruing month to month, start paying what you can as soon as you can.

2. Get a job while you’re in college.  Wait tables, run a cash register.  Just do something to earn money.

3. Get your own place, off campus, as soon as possible.  Many colleges require you to live in a dorm the first year, but as soon as that’s over, get a place!  (If you’re in the same city as your parents, and if it’s feasible, live at home while you’re in school.

4. Skip the college meal plan.  You can make your own food for far less than it will cost you to eat in the cafeteria all the time and you can make food you really like!

5. Keep your day to day expenses to a minimum.  Skip that $6.00 cup of coffee!  Make your own at home.  Take a snack, pack a lunch, park the car and walk.  Whatever it takes, cut your daily expenses.

7. Skip the partying.  Let’s face it, alcohol is EXPENSIVE.  Parties are expensive.  You’re in school to earn a degree so that you can earn a living.  Keep your partying to a minimum and concentrate on your studies.

Getting Your First Apartment?

Are you a recent college graduate? Starting a new job in a new city? Maybe you’ve just now saved up enough money to get your own apartment? Maybe you’re just moving from one rental to another? Whatever your reason for moving, one thing that you don’t want to neglect is rental insurance! Even if you think you have nothing to insure, you really do when you think about it.. and there are other reasons for rental insurance, too.

Even though you’re just starting out, or even if you’ve been renting for a while, you will almost certainly be required to have insurance on your furniture, your personal items, and even, in some instances, your pets! And while it’s tempting to just call the place where you have your car insured, that may not be your best option. You still want to make sure you’re getting the best price and the best coverage for that price.

The Best Time to Improve Your Credit?

Ever wonder when is the best time to work on your credit score?

Should you work on it around the first of the year when you’re looking at your budget, taxes, and spending for the previous year?  When you’re wishing you had enough money to take a vacation this summer?  Should you work on your credit when you’re in desperate need of a credit card so you can afford Christmas gifts?  How about when your car goes kaput and it’s past time to invest in another one?  Or when you want to buy the home of your dreams?

The truth is that there is no perfect time to start improving your credit score!

Why wait until a major expense looms and you’re scurrying around trying to find somewhere, anywhere to get the funds you need to get past the latest financial crisis?  Instead, why not start working on your credit score now, before you need good credit, before you’re forced to accept that higher interest rate mortgage, car loan, or credit card!

Let’s be perfectly honest here, the time is going to pass anyway, so why not work on your credit now?

Summer Vacation is Looming!

Summer is almost here! 

Are you planning a vacation?  Or are you still trying to figure out how you’ll afford to take even a small vacation?

You know, one of the easiest ways to save money (and be able to afford that vacation) is to cut expenses, and the easiest way to cut expenses is to cut something that you won’t miss.  Like credit card interest charges!   Think about it… you’re already spending the money, but if you were able to cut out that monthly interest, what would you miss?  The answer is absolutely nothing!  Not only would you have to do without something, but you’d have more money each month.  Money that you could save for that summer vacation!  Or use to pay off your credit card early, or use to buy something that you really need, or any one of a hundred other things!  Who wouldn’t want to save money that way?

Of course, if you’ve already paid your credit cards down, and you’re actually planning to use them to take your summer vacation, then that opens up even more possibilities.  Have you figured out which credit card you’ll use?  Have you looked at the interest rate you’ll pay?  Does it have travel rewards or cash back rewards?

Would you benefit by getting a different credit card that better suited your needs?

And, don’t forget your credit score! If your credit score has improved over the past few months, or years, depending on how often you review your credit cards, then you definitely need to make sure you’re carrying the right card before you ever leave the driveway this summer!

Planning Your Next Vacation

Even though it’s the dead of winter, it’s not too early to start planning your next vacation… after all, spring break really is right around the corner! And it’s never too early to start planning your summer vacation, either.

Of course, any vacation planning nearly always starts with your budget. Where are you planning to go? Do you know how much you’ll spend over spring break? How much will that condo or beach house cost for a week or two? What will you eat? What will you do for entertainment while you’re on vacation?

More importantly, how will you pay for your vacation? Will you take cash? Or does it make more sense to use a credit card? Personally, I prefer to use a credit card with either a cash back reward, travel reward, or a 0% interest rate. Why? Because let’s face it, most credit cards offer far more protection for you than cash!

Not only are credit cards far safer than cash, but it’s far easier to replace a credit card than a wallet full of cash! And, with so many choices, you can not only save money with credit cards, but you might even earn cash back or free air miles (it all depends on what you want).

So, how will you pay for your spring or summer vacation?

Don’t Forget Your Auto Loan

Looking at your monthly expenses? Maybe you’ve been getting ready to do your taxes and you’re sorting through all those receipts, monthly statements, and bills for the year, comparing interest rates, calculating payments, and figuring your budget for the coming year? Maybe you’re looking for ways to put a little extra cash in your budget? Perhaps you’re reviewing your credit score and the improvements you’ve made over the past year? Or maybe it’s just time to think about replacing your current vehicle with one that’s more reliable, or newer, than the one you’re driving?

Whatever your reason for looking at your finances and where you can save money, the one area that you shouldn’t overlook is your auto financing. Even though you already have an auto loan, it doesn’t mean that you have the best auto loan for you or your current financial situation. Especially if you’ve made significant improvement in your credit score, refinancing your auto loan could be a smart move. Typically, if you have a low credit score when you buy a new vehicle, you pay a much higher interest rate than if you have a good to excellent credit score, so if your credit score improves, you’ll definitely want to consider refinancing later on. Not only could you see huge savings over the length of the loan, but you could also lower your monthly payments, putting more money into your budget!

And if you are looking for a new or used vehicle? You’ll definitely want to see what your options are BEFORE you go to the car dealership! Remember, the dealer usually gets a finder’s fee for that car loan, so their financing options are not always your best option. Know what you can do before you go and you are far more likely to get the best deal for you.

Here are some options that you’ll want to consider when it comes to auto financing:

The Best Way to Pay Off Those Christmas Bills

As the year winds down, the first of all those Christmas bills has undoubtedly already arrived in your mailbox, and if you’re anything like the rest of us, the bill is more than you expected. And it will take longer than you thought to pay it off, too. I don’t know about you, but I hate starting off the new year with last year’s bills hanging over my head, knowing that the interest alone will keep me from paying it off anytime soon. That’s why one of the first things I do after the holidays is to take a long, hard look at my credit card bills.

How much did I charge this year? What’s the interest rate on the credit cards with balances? What fees do those credit cards charge? How long will it take me to pay the credit card balances off if I only make the minimum payments? What impact will the bills have on my monthly budget? And if I’m not happy with the answers to those questions? Then I look for options.

What are your options? You could get a personal loan to consolidate all of your credit cards into one lower monthly payment, and if you have a lot of debt, that can be your best option. But a personal loan also has an interest rate attached to it and the term is usually anywhere from two to five years, so you’ll want to take both into consideration when figuring out how to pay off your debt. The other option that you have is one that I personally like to use when I’ve got a couple of credit cards that I want to get paid off quickly.

Balance transfer credit cards typically come with an introductory period of 0% interest on either purchases that you make with the card or on balances that you transfer from other credit cards. This introductory period can last anywhere from a few months to almost two years. That means you won’t pay any interest if you pay the card off within that introductory period! That’s right, NO INTEREST. That can really save a lot of money AND you may even have extra in your monthly budget. Just make sure that you plan your payments so that the balance transfer is paid off before the introductory period expires!

Where do you start? Why not start with one of these offers:

More Personal Loan Options

In our last post, we discussed the benefits of consolidating your credit card bills into one, low monthly payment with a personal loan.  Not only does this save you money on interest, but you’ll be able to pay the loan off sooner than simply making minimum payments on your credit cards, and you will probably end up with extra money in your monthly budget, too!

With that in mind, we wanted to share even more personal loan options with you:

Winding Down

As the year draws to a close, one of the most important things that you can do for yourself is to take a good look at where your money is going every month.   Besides housing, transportation, and other basic necessities, how many credit card bills do you pay every month?  And of those, how much money goes to interest every month?  Would you benefit from a lower interest rate?  

What if you were able to consolidate all of those bills into one lower monthly payment?  What if you could drastically reduce the amount of interest that you pay each month?  Would you be interested?

One of the best ways to consolidate your monthly bills, drastically reduce the interest that you pay, and free up cash in your budget is to consolidate all of those credit card bills into one personal loan with one monthly payment. 

That’s right, instead of making all those minimum payments, and never getting anywhere when it comes to paying off the balances, you can make one single payment every month AND you’ll have everything paid off in as little as a couple of years.  (If you’ve ever looked at the length of time that it takes to pay your credit card off by making just the monthly payment, you can appreciate the idea of bills being paid in full that soon!)  

And, depending on your credit score, a personal loan may have a MUCH LOWER INTEREST RATE than you’re paying on those credit cards!

So, why not start the new year right by combining all those monthly bills into one easy payment?  

Here are some of the best personal loan options available today:

Balance Transfers Can Save You Lots of Money

As the year draws to a close, many people take a long, hard look at their finances, looking for ways to save money on anything and everything.  Personally, I like to take a look at my credit card balances because that’s one of the best places to find savings.  If you can cut out just a fraction of the monthly interest on any one credit card, you can save money, but what if you could cut out all of the interest on all of your credit cards?   How much would those savings amount to?

If you’ve got good credit, cutting out all of the interest on one or more of your credit cards is actually fairly easy if you transfer the balances to a new credit card with a balance transfer incentive.  Right now, many credit card companies are offering up to 18 months interest free with balance transfers, and that gives you the opportunity to lower your monthly payments AND pay off the balance if you plan your monthly payments to coincide with the expiration of the interest free period.

Does a balance transfer card make sense for you?  Truthfully, a balance transfer card makes sense for most people.  After all, who wouldn’t want to save money on credit card interest over the course of the next year or so?

Not sure how much you could save?  Check out these balance transfer options: