dcsimg


Is income-based student loan repayment right for you?

Published 9/19/14

Is income-based student loan repayment right for you? By Georgie Miller

According to a popular estimate, more than 40 million Americans now owe a combined $1.2 trillion in student loans. That's made the issues surrounding these loans -- including income-based loan repayment plans -- a hot topic lately.

Income-based repayment plans may lower your monthly payments and, over time, even eliminate some of your student debt. But not every borrower is eligible for an income-driven plan, and if you are eligible, there's lots to consider when deciding if it's the right choice for you.

Income-based repayment options

The standard repayment plan for a federal student loan is 10 years. However, as you will learn about money after graduation, your grown-up salary may not be as big as you think it is. You will also have other priorities, including savings and retirement, and maybe even an occasional vacation.

According to the Federal Student Aid website, an income-driven plan is worth considering "if your outstanding federal student loan debt is higher than your annual income or if it represents a significant portion of your annual income."

There are three main types of federally available income-driven plans:

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

Read the full article »

Today, scandalous celebrity photos. Tomorrow, your financial records?

Published 9/11/14

Today, scandalous celebrity photos. Tomorrow, your financial records? By Justin Boyle

Can you believe it? If Jennifer Lawrence, Rhianna and other A-listers are vulnerable to major thefts of information like the high-profile leak perpetrated in August, wouldn't it be just as easy to swipe personal data from all of us regular people?

For anyone who uses online savings accounts or personal finance apps, the news that's come out since the attack has a twofold upshot: The bad news is that your data might be insecure, but the good news is that you can take steps to guard your account info against would-be attackers.

How it happens

Authorities initially pointed to Apple's cloud hosting service, iCloud, as the source of the vulnerability, but those accusations have since been dismissed as simplistic. Apple, for one, has avowed that none of the cases of data breach they'd seen were the result of iCloud being compromised.

Apple spokespeople report that the victims' accounts were most likely accessed using their actual usernames and passwords, rather than through a "back door" into the iCloud backup server. If that's the case, then the stolen data was mainly vulnerable because of poor security on the user side.

In other words, you can likely protect yourself better than the victims here. Here's how to do it.

Read the full article »

How separate finances can work for married couples

Published 9/3/14

How separate finances can work for married couples By Georgie Miller

Generally, the expectation when a couple says "I do" is that one of the first financial tasks they will handle is to switch to joint accounts. However, joint finances are not mandatory and may not work for everyone.

Here are some things married couples should keep in mind when considering maintaining separate finances.

1. Separate accounts foster a sense of autonomy

No matter how long you dated before tying the knot, going from an "I" to an official "we" can be overwhelming. Especially if one partner makes more than the other, merging accounts can make the lesser-earning spouse feel as if they don't have as much of a say when decisions need to be made. Additionally, when accounts are jointly held, it is easy for one partner to end up with all the responsibility of bill-paying -- whether they are interested in doing so or not.

Keeping accounts separate puts each spouse in charge of how the money they earn is spent.

Read the full article »

New credit score rules: Will you benefit?

Published 8/29/14

New credit score rules: Will you benefit? By Peter Andrew

If your credit score's less than perfect, this could be the most cheerful thing you're going to read all day. That's because FICO, the company whose scoring systems are used in 90 percent of all lending decisions, and two of the three major credit bureaus are making changes that might give your score a boost -- without you having to lift a finger.

In other words, one morning soon, you could wake up with a significantly better credit score, simply because of the way these scores are tallied.

FICO Score 9: the best sequel ever?

In August, FICO announced that it was launching a new version of its credit scoring system. And FICO Score 9 includes some big changes that could save you money the next time you borrow.

The first affects those who have medical collections on their reports. Up until now, these have had the same negative impact on scores as all other debts. But they're set to be counted differently. And the company estimates that the median impact on its 300 to 850 scale for those who have medical collections as the only major negative references on their reports should be a score boost of 25 points.

Others who might benefit include those with "thin files."

Read the full article »

Is there a financial literacy crisis among US teens?

Published 8/12/14

Is there a financial literacy crisis among US teens? By Justin Boyle

In what might seem like a dispatch from the Tell-Me-Something-I-Don't-Know Department, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released data last month that indicate American teenagers have a below-average grasp of personal finance for their age.

The NCES study, known as the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, asked 28 million 15-year-olds various questions that tested their financial literacy and problem-solving skills. The results revealed that many kids from the U.S. don't know much about income tax or basic compound interest, let alone financial planning or investment principles.

Is this a crisis? Here's a look at the numbers.

The stats don't lie

First, the bad news: Just 9 percent of U.S. students tested at level 5 or above for financial literacy. That's the level that includes long-term investment planning, big-picture financial concepts and unstated implications in financial documents, which, frankly, many adults don't even understand.

What's more troubling is that 18 percent of U.S. students surveyed tested below level 2 on the study's rating scale.

Read the full article »

How to save money during a move

Published 8/5/14  (Modified 8/12/14)

How to save money during a move By Georgie Miller

My husband and I recently moved after living in the same place for over five years. Whew! I'd forgotten how much work it is. While moving expenses can add up fast, your move doesn't have to become a cash emergency. Think ahead and try these strategies on for size.

1. Only move what you have to

There's no sense in moving more stuff than is necessary. Depending on how far in advance you start making your plans, you have several options for getting rid of stuff you no longer want or need.

  • Start by selling. If you have valuable items that are in good condition, selling is the first step. Selling items online, hosting a yard sale and consigning items at thrift stores are all options.

  • Then try donation. Anything that doesn't sell but is still in nice condition can be donated to a charitable organization. You get a tax break and will have fewer boxes to pack. Plus, many organizations will come and pick items up from your house!

Read the full article »