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The new year is right around the corner and if youâre like most people, youâve probably got a running list of resolutions to achieve and milestones to reach. If getting out of debt ranks near the top, nowâs the time to starting thinking about how youâre going to hit your goal. Developing a clear-cut action plan can get you that much closer to debt-free status in 2016.
1. Add up Your Debt
You canât start attacking your debt until you know exactly how much you owe. The first step to paying down your debt is sitting down with all of your statements and adding up every penny thatâs still outstanding. Once you know how deep in debt you are, you can move on to the next step.
2. Review Your Budget
A budget is a plan that sets limits on how you spend your money. If you donât have one, itâs a good idea to put a budget together as soon as possible. If you do have a budget, you can go over it line by line to find costs you can cut out. By eliminating fees and unnecessary expenses like cable subscriptions, youâll be able to use the money you save to pay off your debt.
3. Set Your Goals
At this point in the process, you should have two numbers: the total amount of money you owe and the amount you can put toward your debt payments each month. Using those two figures, you should be able determine how long itâs going to take you to pay off your mortgage, student loans, personal loans and credit card debt.
Letâs say you owe your credit card issuer $25,000. If you have $500 in your budget that you can use to pay off that debt each month, youâll be able to knock $6,000 off your card balance in a year. Keep in mind, however, that youâll still need to factor in interest to get an accurate idea of how the balance will shrink from one year to the next.
4. Lower Your Interest Rates
Interest is a major obstacle when youâre trying to get out of debt. If you want to speed up the payment process, you can look for ways to shave down your rates. If you have high-interest credit card debt, for instance, transferring the balances to a card with a 0% promotional period can save you some money and reduce the amount of time itâll take to get rid of your debt.
Refinancing might be worth considering if you have student loans, car loans or a mortgage. Just remember that completing a balance transfer or refinancing your debt isnât necessarily free. Credit card companies typically charge a 3% fee for balance transfers and if youâre taking out a refinance loan, you might be on the hook for origination fees and other closing costs.
5. Increase Your Income
Keeping a tight rein on your budget can go a long way. But thatâs not the only way to escape debt. Pumping up your paycheck in the new year can also help you pay off your loans and increase your disposable income.
Asking your boss for a raise will directly increase your earnings, but thereâs no guarantee that your supervisor will agree to your request. If youâre paid by the hour, you can always take on more hours at your current job. And if all else fails, you can start a side gig to bring in more money.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Having a plan to get out of debt in the new year wonât get you very far if youâre not 100% committed. Checking your progress regularly is a must, as is reviewing your budget and goals to make sure youâre staying on track.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/BsWei, Â©iStock.com/marekuliasz, Â©iStock.com/DragonImages
The post How to Escape Debt in 2016 appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
Need to get a loan without a lot of credit, but you donât have someone to cosign? Get some tips for how to get a loan without a cosigner from Lexington Law.
More and more are choosing to attend college and work at the same time.
Whether you are working a part-time or a full-time job, it can be tough to balance both. There are many working students in college who are able to manage both, but there are also many who aren’t able to.
If you don’t balance them both correctly, it may lead to stress, lower grades, low-quality work being produced, and more.
No one wants that and I’m sure you don’t either.
Related: 21 Ways You Can Learn How To Save Money In College
This is supposed to be the time of your life where you are growing and changing, not feeling like you are drowning in everything that is going on around you.
There are ways to get around it and manage both successfully at the same time, though.
I took a full course load each and every semester, worked full-time, and took part in extracurricular activities. It was definitely hard and I won’t lie about that. However, sometimes a person doesn’t have a choice and has to do everything at once or maybe you are choosing to multi-task and you are wanting to better manage your time.
Related post: How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500
Whatever your reason may be, below are my tips for working college students. The tips below are what helped save me!
Carefully plan your class and work schedule.
My first tip for working college students is to carefully plan your class and work schedule.
Some students just choose whatever classes are offered. However, it is much wiser to carefully craft your school and work schedule so that everything flows together efficiently with minimal time wasted.
You can do this by researching into what classes are offered when and trying to eliminate any gap that may be in-between each class. Having an hour or two break between each class can quickly add up. Also, if you happen to have time off between classes, then using this time to do your homework and/or study can be a great use of time as well.
Related post: How I’m a Work-Life Balancing Master
Eliminate any time that may be wasted.
There are many time sucks that you may encounter each day. A minute here and a minute there may add up to a few hours wasted each day.
The time you save could be used towards earning more money at your job, studying, socializing, or whatever else it is that you need or want to do. For working college students, every minute is important.
There are many ways to eliminate any time wasters including:
- Cut down on your commute time. If you can find a job near your college campus then you can eliminate a lot of traveling time.
- Prep your meals ahead of time. If you can bulk make your meals instead of individually making each one, you will be able to save a lot of time.
- Be aware of how much time you spend on social media and TV. The average person wastes many, many hours on social media and watching TV. Cutting back on this may save you hours each day without you even realizing it.
Related post: 75 Ways To Make Extra Money
Separate yourself from distractions.
Working college students experience a lot of distractions.
Noise in the background, such as with a TV that is on or a party your roommate may be throwing, can distract you from what you need to be doing. If you are trying to study or do homework then you should try to find a quiet place to get work done.
You may want to close your bedroom door, hide the remote from yourself (trust me, this works!), go to the library, or something else.
Related: 16 Best Online Jobs For College Students
Have a to-do list and a set schedule.
Having a to-do list is extremely helpful for working students in college because you will know exactly what has to be done and by when. You will then have your responsibilities sitting there right in your face so that you will have to face reality.
Plus, I know that when I am stressed it can be easy to forget things, so having a to-do list eliminates any valuable minutes I may waste debating about whether I forgot to do something.
Working students in college need to be realistic.
While one person may be able to work like crazy and attend college at the same time, not everyone can do that.
If your grades are dropping, then you may want to analyze whether you should drop your hours at work or school. What is more important to you at this time and for your future?
With the tips above for working students in college, you’ll be able to rock both your job and your college classes at the same time. Don’t forget to fit in time for fun as well. Good luck!
Are you one of the many working college students out there? Why or why not?
The post How To Balance Working And Going To College appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
All articles about college rankings should perhaps be read with a grain of salt and primarily through a lens of what matters most to individuals about the college experience and what theyâre hoping it will be an investment toward.
Prominent publications and people have conveyed a variety of views about whether college rankings matter:
The editor-in-chief of the Science Family of Journals said no in May 2020. âTo any logical scientific observer, the fine distinctions of where schools show up on this (U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges) list are statistically meaninglessâbut try telling that to a roomful of alumni or parents,â H. Holden Thorp wrote.
Ian Bogost, distinguished chair at Georgia Tech, wrote in The Atlantic in June 2020: âThe absurdity of a numerical ranking mechanism for colleges becomes apparent the moment you look at how U.S. News calculates it. The methodology reads like a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet: 8% for class size; 10% for high-school-class standing; 4.4% for first-to-second-year student retention, and so on.â
But just because the consensus leans toward ânoâ doesn’t mean it should be the last word on anyoneâs ultimate decision about where to go to school.
Even U.S. News & World Report says on its best-colleges website: âThe rankings provide a good starting point for students trying to compare schools. â¦ The best school for each student, experts say, is one that will most completely meet his or her needs, which go beyond academics.â
What Are the College Rankings?
There is no single, ultimate, etched-in-stone set of college rankings. All over the world, there are entities using a wide array of criteria to appraise universities.
Rather than expecting a âyesâ or ânoâ to the question of whether college rankings matter, it would be more beneficial to understand why “It depends” could be more appropriate.
If you’re aiming for an education from a prestigious school, and money is no objectâwell, first of all, congratulations and good luck.
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Buying a new or used car can be an intimidating experience. Many car salespeople may pressure you to leave the lot with a purchased vehicle, so itâs crucial youâre armed with information about the cars you are interested in, the budget you can afford, and the value of your trade-inâif you have one. With these details, you have all the tools you need to negotiate properly.
Here are 10 tips and strategies for making sure you get the best-quality vehicle at the lowest price.
1. Think about Financing
Prior to visiting any dealership, have a sense of what kind of deposit you can put down and what monthly payment you can afford. It also helps to do some research on available auto loans to get a sense of what you qualify for. Or try a service like AutoGravity, which allows you to select rates and terms that fit your budget and then obtain offers from lenders.
2. Check Your Credit Score
Knowing your credit score can be helpful as well. JustinÂ Lavelle, chief communications officer forÂ BeenVerified, says, âHaving a good idea of your credit report and credit score and the interest rates available can help you negotiate a good deal and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.â
3. Shop Around
Research the cars you might be interested in before you head to a dealership, rather than going in unprepared. To determine what kind of car you want, use resources like US News Best Cars, where you can search anything from âbest cars for familiesâ to âbest used cars under 10k.â Another resource is Autotrader, which can be used to search new and used cars in your area by make, model, price, body style, and more.
4. Compare Prices
Lavelle also stresses getting detailed pricing info in advance: âPrice the car at different dealerships and use online services to get invoice and deal pricing.â A reliable tool is Kelley Blue Book. Use the siteâs car value tool to find out the MSRP and the dealer invoice of a car as well as a range of prices you can expect to see at dealerships. TrueCar is also helpful to use. You can search for and request pricing on any make, model, or year of car. You may get a slew of phone calls, emails, and texts from dealers immediately after, but having information from different dealerships can help you negotiate prices. You should also visit dealer sites to look for rebate offers.
5. Research Your Trade-Inâs Value
If you have a trade-in, donât wait for the salesperson to tell you what itâs worth. On Kelley Blue Book, you can get a sense of the value ahead of time so you know if youâre receiving a good offer. Or try the Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer feature, where dealers will give you a guaranteed price for a trade, eliminating complicated haggling at the dealership.Â
6. Test Drive Potential Purchases
You may want to pass on the test drive if youâre familiar with a particular make and model, but Lavelle recommends taking the time to do it anyway. âIt is a good idea to inspect the car and give it a good test drive just to make sure all is working and there are no noticeable squeaks, rattles, or shimmies that could cause you headaches after your purchase,â he says.
7. Look at Car Histories
Before selecting dealerships to visit, search for consumer reviews so you can avoid having a bad experience. However, Lavelle warns that just because a car sits on a reputable, well-reviewed lot does not necessarily mean that the car is issue-free. So he recommends digging deeper, especially for used cars. âServices like CARFAX represent that they can tell you about the carâs life from first purchase forward, so that might be a good place to start,â he says. He also recommends checking the title, which you can do online via the DMV.
8. Find Repair Records
In addition to checking the repair history on the specific car you are interested in, Autotrader suggests looking up the repair record of the make and model. âCheck J.D. Power and Consumer Reports reliability ratings to see if the vehicle you’re considering is known to be aÂ reliable one,â the site states. It also recommend Internet forums and word of mouth.
9. Spring for an Inspection
Autotrader also suggests telling the seller you require an inspectionÂ from a mechanic before purchase to ensure there aren’t any problems. âWhile a mechanic may charge $100 or more for such an inspection, it can be worth it if it saves you from thousands of dollars in potential repairs,â it recommends. Some sellers may try to dismiss a mechanic’s inspection. Don’t give inâthe seller could be covering up a serious issue with the car. Insist an inspection is done, or rethink your purchase.
10. Know Your Rights
Shopping for a car can be frightening, but with the right research and preparation, you wonât have any regrets. Use the tips and resources above, and snag a free credit report from Credit.com so you know what kind of financing you can expect.
Home can feel like one of the safest places in the world, but dangerous and even deadly disasters such as earthquakes, floods and storms can threaten that safety.
When disaster strikes, being prepared is crucial to your survival. For apartment-dwellers, it’s critical that they understand how their apartment could be at risk during common disasters and what they or the community’s management should do to prepare.
Apartment living doesn’t make one safe from the threat of floods and the damage that they do. Often, flooding is caused by leaks, such as those from malfunctioning appliances or faulty pipes, but it can also be caused by natural causes, such as hurricanes and prolonged rain.
Water from flooding can damage both personal belongings, such as furniture and electronics, and the apartment itself. Mold and structural damage to flooring and walls are some of the common problems that come from flooding.
To protect your valuables, get flood insurance in addition to renters insurance. This type of insurance will cover damage caused by flooding, where renters insurance alone may not.
Another important step in protecting your valuables is to place items that can be destroyed by water in a location that’s high enough to be out of the way of rising water in the event of a flood. These types of items should be moved off the ground and away from areas, such as bathrooms that may flood accidentally.
Residents living in flood zones should ask apartment management about sandbags during heavy rainfall, which can prevent outside water from reaching ground-level apartments. Unplug electrical items if the apartment begins to flood during a storm, and if possible, vacate the premises.
In a hurricane, people living in an apartment face damage from heavy rain and winds that can be as strong as 155 mph. This may result in windows breaking and damage to the apartment’s roof. Flooding from rain creates another concern during hurricanes.
To protect the apartment, bring in any patio/balcony furniture that high winds may toss against windows. Board up windows and sliding doors, and ask the apartment management if they’ll provide the necessary materials.
People who live on upper floors should shelter in apartments at lower levels when possible. Regardless of where the unit is located, stay toward the center in a room with no windows. Closets and bathrooms are good spots within an apartment to seek shelter. Keep a battery-operated radio on, and evacuate if instructed to do so.
Renters, particularly those who live in hurricane zones, should also verify that they’re covered with hurricane insurance.
Tornadoes are highly destructive, with winds that reach as high as 300 m.p.h. This can lift objects like trees from the ground and the roof off of a building. Damage to an apartment may include harm to walls and windows from outside projectiles and roof damage that ranges from mild to ripped off entirely.
The first step of protecting your apartment and yourself is to purchase an insurance policy that covers tornado damage. This is crucial for individuals living in areas that are at high risk for tornadoes.
To reduce the risk of projectiles, remove furniture from the patio or balcony. Speak with management about securing or removing items that can be lifted by high winds. The management should also trim branches in the complex that may break and fly through the air. Individuals living in high-risk areas should also talk with the management about the installation of storm shutters.
During a tornado, apartment residents generally don’t have a basement to shelter in. Instead, they should avoid windows and go to an apartment or room on the lowest floor, if possible. The room you choose to take shelter in should be near the center of the apartment. If staying in a bathroom, get into the bathtub. Wherever you go, covering your head and neck or wearing a helmet can help to prevent injury.
When the violent shaking of an earthquake hits, it can cause more than just serious injury â it may also damage the structural integrity of an apartment. This could include cracks in walls, the ceiling or the foundation itself, should it shift during the quake. Earthquakes may also shatter or crack windows in the apartment.
Steps that you can take beforehand include anchoring heavy or breakable items that may fall or be flung around, such as mirrors, TVs and heavy and tall furniture like bookshelves. These items should be anchored to the floor or the wall.
Breakable or heavy items that can’t be anchored should be kept on lower shelves and never stacked. You should also check your renters insurance policy to ensure you’re covered for earthquake damage.
During an earthquake, renters should move away from mirrors or windows that may shatter and cut them. Ideally, they should find a sturdy desk or table to seek shelter under. Once under shelter, covering the back of the head and neck with one’s arms can help prevent serious injury.
If there are no objects to duck under, crouch against a wall inside of the apartment, protecting the head and neck. Stay indoors and under shelter until the shaking stops completely. Avoid going down apartment stairs during the quake and avoid elevators.
Before a crisis strikes, create an evacuation plan for when leaving the home is advised. Everyone living in the home should know what the plan is and have practiced it.
When creating an evacuation plan, families should have locations in mind where they can stay. Often, evacuated people will stay in a public shelter, or one can make plans to stay at the home of a friend or family member if the need arises.
Hotels and motels are options, but if evacuating with a pet, be sure to find out where pet-friendly hotels are located. Because families must also have a way to contact each other, every family member should have a list of phone numbers that are kept in a wallet or purse, including the number of an out-of-town friend.
Putting together an emergency supply kit is another universal and necessary step when preparing for potential disasters. An effective supply kit contains items that are crucial to a person or family’s survival following a disaster like a first aid kit, batteries, a flashlight and a battery-powered radio.
The emergency kit should also include enough nonperishable food for at least three days and a gallon of water per person per day. Also, pack important documents and an extra supply of medications in a waterproof bag.
- Tornado Safety Tips for Apartments
- Hurricane Preparedness for Apartment Dwellers
- Tornado Safety Checklist (PDF)
- Tornado Safety
- What to Do During a Tornado Event
- Where Is the Safest Place in a High-Rise Apartment During a Tornado?
- Get Ready for a Major Earthquake. What to Do Before and During a Big One
- Tips for Tenants
- Here’s What to Keep at Home in an Emergency Supply Kit
- Emergency Preparedness: Make a Plan
- Family, Health, and Safety Preparation
- Putting Together Your Emergency Supply Kit
- Disaster Preparedness Guide for Seniors and Caregivers
- Emergency Preparedness Checklist (PDF)
- Build Your Own Pet Emergency Kit
- Disaster Preparedness: A Checklist (PDF)
- These Are the Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency
- Checklist for Disaster Preparedness (PDF)
- Preparedness Guide for Disasters and Emergencies: Personal Preparedness (PDF)
- Floods and Flash Floods
- How to Prepare for Hurricane Season
- Seven Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
- Hurricane Preparedness Tip
The post Disaster Safety for the Apartment Renter appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
Cleaning an iron is a household task thatâs easy to forget about. However, with all the shirts to press, sheets to smooth and pants to unwrinkle, itâs no wonder our irons get worn out. Giving your iron the TLC it needs can be simple and way cheaper than opting for a newer model.
There are many different ways to clean and shine your iron using some elbow grease and a few items you may already have in your home. Keeping your iron clean is necessary to keep the chore easy and productive, so check out these tips to clean an iron without any fancy cleaning products required.
1. Clean with baking soda
Baking soda is used to clean almost anything, whether itâs your household appliances, fruits and veggies or your iron. You can create a stain-fighting paste using two tablespoons of baking soda mixed with one tablespoon of warm water. Gently rub the paste on a cool iron plate, coating areas that have mineral deposits. Wipe the paste off using a damp cloth.
Pro tip: Avoid getting the paste in the ironâs steam holes. If you manage to get it in there, use a damp cotton dipped in distilled water or a wooden toothpick to clean it out.
2. Clean with sea salt
Believe it or not, using salt to clean your iron can get the job done. Turn your iron on the hottest setting and lay out a brown paper bag or newspaper on your ironing board. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the paper bag or newspaper and begin to iron the salty surface. Continue this process until the salt takes away all the dirt on your iron. After this, wipe the salt residue away with a damp cloth.
Pro tip: Iron in circular motions to maximize the amount of dirt you take off.
3. Clean with a towel and vinegar
If your main issue with your iron is corrosion, the towel and vinegar trick will make it look good as new! Soak a towel in vinegar and then set the iron onto the towel with the soleplate facing down. Let the iron sit in the vinegar-soaked towel for 30 minutes before wiping it down.
Pro tip: Place your soaked towel in a bin or other container to avoid vinegar seeping into unwanted areas.
4. Clean an ironâs steam holes
A common problem with dirty irons is the steam holes getting clogged. A good indication of some much needed cleaning is when the iron sputters and leaves mineral-filled or rusty water spots on clothing. Mix Â½ cup of vinegar and Â½ cup of distilled water into the ironâs reservoir and inspect the steam ducts in an upright position.
Use an old toothbrush, wooden toothpick or cotton swab to clear away build-up. Test the iron by heating it up and depressing the steam button until the steam flows out freely. Let the iron cool before pouring out the mixture into the reservoir.
Pro tip: Never use metal to clean the soleplate of your iron as this could scratch or damage it.
5. Clean with nail polish remover
Not only does nail polish remover clear away nail polish, but also the gunk on your iron plate! Heat up your iron and dip a cotton ball into some acetone nail polish remover. Use a heat-protecting glove like an oven mitt and wipe the cotton ball along the surface of the hot iron. This method helps dissolve any unwanted residue on your iron. Let your iron cool and wipe away excess nail polish remover.
Pro tip: Perform this cleaning method outside so that your household doesn’t breathe in the strong chemical fumes.
6. Clean with paracetamol
An unusual yet excellent hack for cleaning your iron (especially with burnt residue) is paracetamol (like Tylenol). In fact, any acetaminophen tablet will do. First, turn your iron on the highest setting. Once the plate is hot, use an oven mitt or other heat-protecting glove to press the pill directly onto the burnt area of your iron. The pill should melt into a gel which then dissolves the burnt spot on your iron. Use a damp cloth to clean the soleplate and repeat if necessary.
Pro tip: Donât use tweezers or pliers to press the pill onto your hot iron. One slip could result in scratching your iron or burning your fingers!
7. Clean an iron with wax paper
Similar to the salt trick above, you can use wax paper with coarse salt to clean your iron. Place wax paper on your ironing board or a cutting board and sprinkle about a tablespoon of sea salt over the wax paper. Heat the iron to its highest temperature and iron the salt without applying much pressure. The residue will stick to the salt and your iron will be good as new!
Pro tip: Make sure the steam function is off while you perform this cleaning trick.
8. Clean with toothpaste
Toothpaste not only clears the plaque on your teeth but the muck on your iron as well. All you need to do is smear a small amount of white toothpaste on any affected areas on your ironâs soleplate. Leave the toothpaste there for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth.
Pro tip: Finish things off by filling your ironâs reservoir with distilled water and setting it down on a towel. Steam your iron leaving in for an additional few minutes to work through.
9. Clean with dryer sheets
Dryer sheets have more uses than freshening up your drying clothes. One way to use a dryer sheet you may not have heard of yet is to clean your iron. Simply rub the soleplate with dryer sheets while the iron is on its lowest heat setting. As soon as you feel the dryer sheet get too hot, grab a fresh one. Repeat this process until the iron is clean.
Pro tip: Itâs always a good idea to wear a heat-protecting glove or mitt when touching an iron soleplate. You should be fine while in the lowest setting, but be cautious.
10. Clean an iron with ice cubes
If you accidentally left your hot iron near something plastic, you probably have a bit of a mess to deal with. However, melted plastic is easy to get off an iron by using simple items like a big bowl, ice cubes and a plastic knife or spatula. Place your iron in a bowl or pan full of ice to harden the plastic. If your plastic is already hardened, you can skip this step. Now take a plastic knife or spatula and scrape the plastic away, then wipe it down with a damp rag until you feel the ironâs surface to be smooth.
Pro tip: Itâs crucial to get plastic off your iron before you use it again, otherwise the plastic will melt into your garments.
How often should I clean my iron?
The answer to this question heavily depends on how often you use your iron. On average, you should make it a habit to clean your iron every other month to remove mineral deposits. If your iron begins to dull or you see any build-up on the soleplate, then you can do a quick cleanse to avoid having to do a deeper clean.
What is the black stuff on my iron?
Most people notice their iron is dirty when they see âblack stuffâ on the soleplate. The âblack stuffâ you see is a result of burn marks, dirt, dust, spray starch and fabric fiber buildup. Additionally, if you leave water inside your iron, it could begin to rust cause rusty spots. Itâs important to maintain your iron to avoid it from damaging or ruining your clothing.
Maintaining a clean iron
To maintain a clean iron, there are a few things to consider. First, try using distilled water rather than ordinary tap water in your iron. Tap water contains minerals which over time results in rust and mineral build-up. Another consideration to avoid rust and mineral build-up is to make sure you empty the reservoir and place it in an upright position before storing it in your laundry room.
To keep your ironâs soleplate sleek and shiny, never iron over metal zippers, buttons, snaps or any other decorative item. The plate will last much longer and keep your iron maintenance low. Maintaining an iron may seem low on the to-do list, but itâs a great laundry hack that will save you a lot of time in the long-run.
The post How To Clean An Iron To Make It Look Brand New appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
Apartment? Loft? Flat? Condo? Duplex? What do all those terms mean anyway? And you said rent is HOW MUCH? Bring on the face palm emoji.Â When you just want a place to live that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, the different housing terms and buzzwords can start to run together in your […]
The post The Ultimate Guide to Different Apartment Types appeared first on Apartment Life.
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.
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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.
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