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In March I offered some financial advice to Michelle, a Mint user who was struggling with debt, a lack of retirement savings and a bit of family financial drama amongst her siblings.
Michelle was anticipating a cash bonus from her company and wasnât sure if she should save the money or use it to relieve her debt.
I recommended a two-prong approach where she uses the cash to play savings catch-up in her retirement account and knock down some of her debt, which, at the time, included a $3,000 credit card balance and $52,000 in student loans.
Six months later, Iâve checked in with the 38-year-old real estate developer, to see if any of my advice was helpful and if sheâs experienced any shifts in her financial life.
We spoke via email:
Farnoosh: Have your finances have improved over the last 6 months since we last spoke? If so, what has been the biggest improvement?
Michelle: Yes. I’veÂ aggressively been contributing to my 401(k) â about 50% of my pay – and had hoped to reach the annual maximum of $18,000 by June, but looks like it will be more like October. I also received a $40,000 distribution from a project that I closed.
F: What aspects of your financial life still challenge you?
M: Investing for sure. I never know if I’m hoarding too much cash. I am truly traumatized from the financial downturn.Â I just joined an online investment platform, but it wasÂ also overwhelming. Currently I have $45,000 in a regular savings account that earns 1.5%.
Another challenge is not knowing whether to just bite the bullet and pay off my student loans or to continue to pay them monthly. Â I hate that I’m still paying loans 16 years after I graduated and it’s a source of frustration [andÂ embarrassment] for me. Â I owe $36,000. Often times I have an inner monologue about the pros and cons of just paying them off but then my trauma from 2008 kicks inâ¦and IÂ decide to keep my $45,000 nest egg safely where I can check the balance daily.
F: I recommended allocating $45,000 towards retirement. Was that helpful? What are some ways you’ve managed to save?
M: Yes, I recall you saying you recommended having a total of $100,000 towards retirement for a person my age. Currently, I have $51,000 in my 401(k), $35,000 in a traditional IRA and $17,000 in my Ellevest brokerageÂ account, so I’ve broken the $100,000 goal.
I did add a car note to my balance sheet. My old car suffered a total loss (major electrical failure due to a sunroof leak!) and the insurance gave me a check for $9,000.Â I used it all towards the new vehicle (aÂ certified used 2014 Acura) and I’m financing $18,000.
F: Your dad’s home was a source of financial stress, it seemed. Were you able to talk with your siblings and arrive at a better place with that?
M: My dad actually has passed since we last spoke. He passed in February and so his will went to probate. My siblings and I have decided not to make any decisions about the house for at least one year. Yes, this is kicking the can further down the street however, they recognize that I maintain the house and pay the real estate taxes and so they are not pressuring me to move or to sell.
The new deed has been recorded and the property is under all our names and so everyone seems ok with knowing that I can’t do anything regarding a sale or refinance unilaterally.
So, for now, I live rent free other than payingÂ utilities, miscellaneous maintenance on the houseÂ and real estate taxes quarterly. This, too, is helping me saveÂ aggressively.
Also, the new car note has replaced the hospice nurse contribution so I’m not feeling that my budget is overburdened with the new car.
I think ultimately I will buy out at least two of my siblings and stay in the house. Verbally they have expressed being okay with this.
Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org (please note âMint Blogâ in the subject line).
Farnoosh Torabi is Americaâs leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, sheâs become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.
The post Mint Money Audit 6-Month Check-In: How Did Michelle Allocate Her Windfall? appeared first on MintLife Blog.
This page may include affiliate links. Please see theÂ disclosure pageÂ for more information. While the national economy appears to be improving, millions of Americans are still tied down with massive debt loads. For example, total student loan debt has climbed to $1.5 trillion with 44 million borrowers overall. Unfortunately, outstanding debt prevents people from starting a…
The post Your Student Loan Debt Doesn’t Have to be Stressful appeared first on Debt Discipline.
Your Student Loan Debt Doesn’t Have to be Stressful was first posted on May 25, 2020 at 9:18 am.
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I spent my early 20s working hard and clumsily throwing money out the window. Then, I fell in love with a man whoâd done the same, and we decided to get married. The excitement of…
The post 9 Ways We Paid Off $22,000 and Became Debt-Free in 22 Months appeared first on Crediful.
Whereas Dave Ramseyâs Baby Steps have often been dissected one at a time, my goal in this post is to give an overview of the steps as a unit and explain why the order is essential.
Hopefully, these steps can help you create a focused life plan for your finances, regardless of your age or financial well being.
First, the Baby Steps:
- Step 1: $1,000 in an emergency fund.
- Step 2: Pay off all debt except the house utilizing the debt snowball.
- Step 3: Three to six months of savings in a fully funded emergency fund.
- Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans.
- Step 5: College Funding
- Step 6: Pay off your home early.
- Step 7: Build wealth and give.
The Power of Focus
Daveâs premise with the Baby Steps is that people can accomplish great things IF they can just be focused. When you read over these seven steps, you think, âYes. I need to be saving. But I also need to be investing for retirement. I should get my house paid off early. But I also need to be getting out of debt and saving for my kidâs college.”
You would readily agree that all of these goals are important for successful financial planning. The problem is that your stress level kicks into overdrive with the prospect of doing them all. You clench your jaw and do what you are capable of doing while feeling anxious about the goals you place on the back burner.
The Baby Steps plan works because when you stay focused on one step at a time, you can knowingly put some important goals on hold without the nagging feeling that you are leaving something undone.
You can also check out my YouTube video where I break down each of Dave’s Baby Steps here:
Because accomplishing each step puts you in a great position to accomplish the next one.
You begin to feel an empowerment and a sense of control as you get one step behind you and start the next one. You are making progress instead of treading water.
Why Are the Baby Steps in the Order They Are In?
Steps 1 and 2: $1,000 Emergency Fund and Debt Snowball
Notice that Steps 3 through 7 are all about using your money to do something positive for you and your family. Of course this money comes from your income, but the problem with most of America is that we are using our income on debt payments.
Because we are paying others instead of ourselves, we need to get rid of our debt (Step 2) in order to free up our income for Steps 3-7.
âWhat if I could use all the money I am currently paying to creditors to start âpaying myselfâ?
For many people this is $1,000 to $3,000 a month.
Baby Step 2 debt snowball is designed to do just that. Step 1 is necessary before Step 2 because you donât want to start paying off debt without having a small cushion to absorb the little unplanned expenses that will occur during Step 2.
Step 3: 3 to 6 months of Savings
After completing the first two steps, you are out of debt (except for your house) and now have that cash flow you dreamed about: all of the money you used to pay others is at your disposal. The temptation is to start investing for retirement or saving for your kid’s college or pay off your house early.
NOT SO FAST! You will get to those, but doing so prematurely is way too risky.
Stop, take a deep breath and use that cash flow to build up your emergency fund so you will indeed be ready for emergencies. This fund needs to be liquid (in a top savings account or money market account).
If you skipped the step and started any of the ensuing steps, how would you handle emergencies? Pull money from your retirement account? Rob the kidâs college savings? Borrow money against your house? All bad ideas.
Step 3 is therefore always ahead of the following steps
Steps 4, 5, and 6: Saving for Retirement, College Funding, Pay Off Home
You may be asking,
âWhy is retirement ahead of college funding? Wouldnât a good parent put his children ahead of himself?â
Good question. But what if you end up without sufficient retirement income because you made college funding a higher priority? Who will you be depending on in your later years? Your kids!
The thing about retirement planning is that you only get one shot at it. The years go by and you will someday be retirement age. You donât have a choice. On the other hand, college funding is full of choices: kids can get scholarship, they can work, they can attend community colleges, they can find work/co-op programs, etc, etc.
Step 4 is therefore ahead of step 5. But notice that Step 4 is 15% of your income. If you have cash flow greater than 15% you can apply that to college funding immediately, and if you have more than enough cash flow to accomplish both steps 4 and 5, you can use all of the extra to pay off your house early (step 6).
Note that Step 6 comes behind retirement and college funding because reversing the order could possibly give you a paid for house at the expense of a dignified retirement or helping your kids through college. Most of us wouldnât want that.
Not sure where to start investing for retirement? Here are some tips:
- Best Places to Open a Roth IRA – Figuring out where to start investing your 15% of income can be confusing. A great place to start is a Roth IRA, but deciding a broker is confusing. This list will help you pick the best broker for your Roth IRA.
- Best Online Stock Broker Sign Up Bonuses – You can get hundreds of dollars or thousands of airline miles just for opening up a brokerage account.
- Beginner Investing Strategies – If you’ve never invested before it can be overwhelming. This list breaks down getting started into manageable pieces.
Step 7: Build wealth and give.
Life is now very good! You have no debt, a great emergency fund, and a paid for house. All of the cash flow that used to go toward debt reduction and house payments is now at your disposal.
This, by the way, is the step Mandy and I are on. Being semi-retired, we donât have a huge income, but it is very sufficient because we also donât have any debt. We continue to invest every month and we are able to give more than we have ever given before.
Once we got our house paid off, we started to budget âblessâ money, which we put into an envelope every month just to have available so we can bless others as we see the needs. We are also able to help our grown daughter and daughter-in-law cash flow their college.
As I said, life is good. Mandy and I are experiencing great financial peace and we are very grateful for Dave Ramseyâs Baby Steps.
I wish the same for you.
This article is a general overview of what Dave Ramsey has to offer and is not intended to replace his course, nor is this sponsored or endorsed by Dave Ramsey or the Lampo Group.
The post Dave Ramseyâs Baby Steps Explained appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
In borrowing, there are two types of debts, recourse and nonrecourse. Recourse debt holds the person borrowing money personally liable for the debt. If you default on a recourse loan, the lender will have license, or recourse, to go after your personal assets if the collateralâs value doesnât cover the remaining amount of the loan that is due. Recourse loans are often used to finance construction or invest in real estate. Hereâs what you need to know about recourse loans, how they work and how they differ from other types of loans.
What Is a Recourse Loan?
A recourse loan is a type of loan that allows the lender to go after any of a borrowerâs assets if that borrower defaults on the loan. The first choice of any lender is to seize the asset that is collateral for the loan. For example, if someone stops making payments on an auto loan, the lender would take back the car and sell it.
However, if someone defaults on a hard money loan, which is a type of recourse loan, the lender might seize the borrowerâs home or other assets. Then, the lender would sell it to recover the balance of the principal due. Recourse loans also allow lenders to garnish wages or access bank accounts if the full debt obligation isnât fulfilled.
Essentially, recourse loans help lenders recover their investments if borrowers fail to pay off their loans and the collateral value attached to those loans is not enough to cover the balance due.
How Recourse Loans Work
When a borrower takes out debt, he typically has several options. Most hard money loans are recourse loans. In other words, if the borrower fails to make payments, the lender can seize the borrowerâs other assets such as his home or car and sell it to recover the money borrowed for the loan.
Lenders can go after a borrowerâs other assets or take legal action against a borrower. Other assets that a lender can seize might include savings accounts and checking accounts. Depending on the situation, they may also be able to garnish a borrowerâs wages or take further legal action.
When a lender writes a loanâs terms and conditions, what types of assets the lender can pursue if a debtor fails to make debt payments are listed. If you are at risk of defaulting on your loan, you may want to look at the language in your loan to see what your lender might pursue and what your options are.
Recourse Loans vs. Nonrecourse Loans
Nonrecourse loans are also secured loans, but rather than being secured by all a personâs assets, nonrecourse loans are only secured by the asset involved as collateral. For example, a mortgage is typically a nonrecourse loan, because the lender will only go after the home if a borrower stops making payments. Similarly, most auto loans are nonrecourse loans, and the bank or lender will only be able to seize the car if the borrower stops making payments.
Nonrecourse loans are riskier for lenders because they will have fewer options for getting their money back. Therefore, most lenders will only offer nonrecourse loans to people with exceedingly high credit scores.
Types of Recourse Loans
There are several types of recourse loans that you should be aware of before taking on debt. Some of the most common recourse loans are:
- Hard money loans. Even if someone uses their hard money loan, also known as hard cash loan, to buy a property, these types of loans are typically recourse loans.
- Auto loans. Because cars depreciate, most auto loans are recourse loans to ensure the lender receive full debt payments.
Recourse Loans Pros and Cons
For borrowers, recourse loans have both pros and and at least one con. You should evaluate each before deciding to take out a recourse loan.
Although they may seem riskier upfront, recourse loans are still attractive to borrowers.
- Easier underwriting and approval. Because a recourse loan is less risky for lenders, the underwriting and approval process is more manageable for borrowers to navigate.
- Lower credit score. Itâs easier for people with lower credit scores to get approved for a recourse loan. This is because more collateral is available to the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan.
- Lower interest rate. Recourse loans typically have lower interest rates than nonrecourse loans.
The one major disadvantage of a recourse loan is the risk involved. With a recourse loan, the borrower is held personally liable. This means that if the borrower does default, more than just the loanâs collateral could be at stake.
Loans can be divided into two types, recourse loans and nonrecourse loans. Recourse loans, such as hard money loans, allow the lender to pursue more than what is listed as collateral in the loan agreement if a borrower defaults on the loan. Be sure to check your stateâs laws about determining when a loan is in default. While there are advantages to recourse loans, which are often used to finance construction, buy vehicles or invest in real estate, such as lower interest rates and a more straightforward approval process, they carry more risk than nonrecourse loans.
Tips on Borrowing
- Borrowing money from a lender is a significant commitment. Consider talking to a financial advisor before you take that step to be completely clear about how it will impact your finances. Finding a financial advisor doesnât have to be difficult. In just a few minutes our financial advisor search tool can help you find a professional in your area to work with. If youâre ready, get started now.
- For many people, taking out a mortgage is the biggest debt they incur. Our mortgage calculator will tell you how much your monthly payments will be, based on the principal, interest rate, type of mortgage and length of the term.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/aee_werawan, Â©iStock.com/PictureLake, Â©iStock.com/designer491
The post What Is a Recourse Loan? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
If you are looking for tips on how to save money as a college student, then one of the top things you need to learn is how to save money on textbooks such as through cheap textbook rentals. In this post, I will be including a Campus Book Rentals review because I used this textbook rental company throughout college and was able to save a great amount of money with cheap textbook rentals.
P.S. I also have a Campus Book Rentals coupon code at the end of the post, so do not miss out on this valuable Campus Book Rentals coupon for the best textbook rental company out there!
When I was in college, I always made sure to save as much money as I could. College is expensive, and everyone knows that. The costs can quickly add up. Between the tuition, lab fees, parking fees, textbook costs, and more, college costs can quickly get out of hand.
I know and understand this. I graduated with around $38,000 worth of student loan debt, and that was even with me carefully managing my costs. Thankfully I paid off my student loans (read about how I paid off my student loans within 7 months), but I do like to help others in as many ways as I can.
According to the National Association of College Stores, the average college student spends around $700 per year on the cost of textbooks.
That could be a total of a little less than $3,000 for a 4 year degree just for the cost of textbooks, and as everyone knows, the cost can actually be much higher than that.
I actually think this number that is estimated is wrong, because I don’t really know anyone who bought their college textbooks and only spent $350 or less from their college bookstore on the cost of textbooks. That wouldn’t have even covered two college textbooks for me from my college bookstore.
When I was in college, many of my college textbooks were around the $200 price for just one textbook, and I often took 7 or 8 classes a semester. This means if I paid full price for each book (whether I bought them online or from my college book store), I would have sometimes paid around $1,600 each SEMESTER!
Or $3,200 a YEAR!
That is just insane.
Below are my tips on the best ways to save money on college textbooks:
Rent your college textbooks through cheap textbook rental websites such as Campus Book Rentals.
When I was in college, I saved a great deal of money by renting my college textbooks. As I said above, college textbooks for me were expensive if I were to not shop around and just stick with the expensive books at the college bookstore. Who wants to waste a ton of money on the cost of textbooks by buying them at full price?
NOT ME! You can save a lot of money on the cost of textbooks by renting them instead.
I often rented my college textbooks that were $200 at my college bookstore for less than $50 for the semester. There are definitely some cheap textbook rentals out there!
I often found cheap textbook rentals for $25 as well That is a STEAL! I always used coupon codes as well, as they can be found everywhere. Lucky you, if you keep reading I have a CampusBook Rentals coupon code as well! 🙂
It was easy to rent textbooks online. Here is the step by step process of renting textbooks online and my Campus Book Rentals review:
- I just had to find my college textbooks online such as on CampusBookRentals. Campus Book Rentals is the best textbook rental I used when I was in college. They made it easy and have a large college textbook selection for students to choose from so that you find the exact textbook you need.
- I would then order the textbook for whatever time frame I needed. You can usually rent them for 45 days, two months, a full semester, or even longer. The longer the time frame, the more expensive they are, of course.
- I would use the textbook for a class. Of course, this is not a surprise!
- Once you are done with the textbook, all you have to do is return it. You will be provided a return label, so the return shipping is absolutely free. You don’t have to worry about the textbook being outdated, a new edition being published, losing money, etc.
I also have a Campus Book Rentals coupon code for 5% off your total purchase plus FREE SHIPPING if you need one as well. I genuinely believe they are the best textbook rental company out there right now, or else I wouldn’t be writing this whale of a Campus Book Rentals review post. The Campus Book Rentals coupon code is snowfall5. All you have to do is click on my affiliate link (the Campus Book Rentals coupon code only works with the affiliate link) and once you are ready to check out, enter snowfall5 as the Campus Book Rentals promotional code.
Skip the college bookstore for cheap textbook rentals or buy textbooks used.
The college bookstore can be a big rip off. Sorry to everyone who has ever worked at one.
I have three college degrees, and have visited the college bookstore many times to compare prices, and I do not think there was a single occurrence where the price at the college bookstore was cheaper than the price I found somewhere else, such as through CampusBookRentals.
Sell your college textbooks.
Some of you might be saying, well why didn’t you just buy your textbooks used and then sell them back, instead of renting college textbooks? Well, this is because it often turned out that whenever I bought a textbook, the very next semester they would be considered “old” because a new edition would be published. No one really buys old editions of finance books as they are considered “outdated” by many professors.
However, there are many instances where selling your college textbooks can be a great idea, and you can make some money as well. If you are looking to save money in college, then you should learn how to sell your college textbooks back so that they aren’t just hanging out in your house collecting dust.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this Campus Book Rentals review and that you learned how to save money on textbooks and a new way on how to save money as a college student.
How do you save money on your college textbooks?
Campus Book Rentals coupon code for the best textbook rental company!
P.S. Here is the Campus Book Rentals coupon again as well since you took your time to read my Campus Book Rentals review. I have a Campus Book Rentals coupon code if you need one for even cheaper cheap textbook rentals. The discount will give you 5% off your total textbook purchase rental plus FREE SHIPPING. The Campus Book Rentals coupon code is snowfall5. All you have to do is click on my affiliate link (the Campus Book Rentals coupon code only works with the affiliate link) and once you are ready to check out, enter snowfall5 as the Campus Book Rentals promotional code. This coupon code is good until April 30, 2015, so you have plenty of time to use it for this semester’s classes.
The post How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
From Jan. 1 through March 31, 2021, the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flexâ cards will offer 5% cash back at wholesale clubs; select streaming services; and internet, cable and phone services.
The promotion includes up to $1,500 in combined spending as long as you activate by March 14, 2021. If you wait to activate (but still make the deadline), you’ll retroactively earn 5% back on bonus category purchases made after Jan. 1, 2021. Once you reach $1,500, you’ll earn 1% cash back.
At first glance, Iâm not particularly excited about these categories, but your mileage may vary. Itâs a big win for people who frequent wholesale clubs (I donât). These stores havenât been a Freedom 5% category since Q4 2018. But it makes sense, as many people are stocking up more frequently at warehouse clubs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more from our credit card experts.
Ask Ted a question.
Earning at wholesale clubs
Note that Costco, the largest wholesale club, only accepts Visa cards in-store. The original Chase Freedom card was a Visa card, but it stopped accepting applications in Sept. 2020. Cardholders who still have one can take advantage of this 5% promotion in Costco stores. The Freedom Flex essentially replaced the Freedom, with some new perks like enhanced travel, restaurant and drugstore rewards. But itâs a Mastercard, so itâs not accepted in Costco stores. It is accepted at Costco.com. Freedom Flex cardholders can, of course, earn 5% back in Q1 at other warehouse clubs such as Samâs Club, BJâs and others.
See related:Â Best credit cards for Costco purchases
The Q1 list in 2020 also rewarded Freedom cardholders for spending money on certain streaming services and internet, cable and phone services, but gas stations were on the list instead of wholesale clubs. Chase included gas stations during Q1 rotating categories each year going back to 2016. Amid the pandemic, itâs likely a favorable trade to wholesale clubs if you have a membership, and many Americans do. Costco has over 100 million members, Samâs Club has more than 50 million and BJâs has more than 5 million. Thereâs some overlap (and some of Costcoâs members live in other countries), but itâs reasonable to estimate that about half of U.S. adults have a wholesale club membership.
Spending at gas stations is more universal, but the average gas expenditure is around $175 per month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I think thereâs a good chance weâll see gas on the calendar later this year, probably in the summer when a lot of Americans tend to hit the open road. And donât fret if you do most of your food shopping at grocery stores rather than warehouse clubs. Groceries tend to be a Q2 Freedom bonus category.
How Iâll use my card in 2021
Since I donât belong to any wholesale clubs and I spend very little on streaming, my Q1 Freedom Flex strategy will focus on internet, cable and phone services. By paying my April bills a little early, Iâll be able to squeeze four monthsâ worth of expenses into Q1. Iâll probably end up a little more than halfway to the $1,500 limit for 5% transactions.
Assuming the Freedom calendar follows its typical blueprint, Q1 should be my weakest of the year. As long as groceries are included in Q2, I wonât have any trouble maxing out that quarter. In 2020, Q3 included Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market. I spend a lot at Amazon.com, and if Iâm right about gas, that would make the summer quarter even more lucrative. Q4 generally focuses on holiday shopping, and especially if it includes PayPal again, that will be easy to optimize.
Even though I wonât use it a ton in Q1, the Freedom Flex remains a strong player in my overall cash back strategy. Subsequent quarters should be even stronger. This no annual fee card provides a lot of other benefits, too, like purchase protection (which saved me $299 in 2020) and 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores. I havenât traveled in a while because of the pandemic. But when I do, I plan to take advantage of 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase portal. The Freedom Flex is a very valuable all-around card, even if your spending doesn’t line up with every rotating category.
Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me atÂ firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ and Iâd be happy to help.