CNN Money recently published an article by Blake Ellis about college graduates delaying some major milestones because of their student loan debt. Ellis cites a survey from the American Institute of CPAs where 41% of the more than 200 participants stated they put off saving for retirement; 40% put off buying a car, 29% are pushing back plans to buy a house. 15% of those surveyed are even postponing marriage due to student loan debt. Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment, but looking at a post-college life filled with debt can put a damper on the excitement quickly. Student debt might be inevitable, but there are ways to minimize the impact it has on your life.
1. Consolidate Your Federal Student Loans.
Consolidating multiple loans into a single payment, not only makes managing your repayment easier, it will probably save you money by reducing your monthly payment, and helping you pay off your debt quicker. Direct Consolidation Loans is a webpage maintained by Federal Student Aid that has information on consolidation, and an application.
2. Consolidate Other Debt
College is also the first time many of us have credit cards, medical expenses, and other loans that we have to repay. The same principle applies to consolidating these debts. Consolidating can make debt easier to manage because there are fewer monthly payments to make. You can also spend less on payments every month and pay less in the long run.
Here’s a video that gives a little more information about how 3Rivers can help you consolidate your debt, and make it more manageable.
It might be tempting to take your savings, and catch the next flight to Vegas, but I’d recommend creating a solid financial plan for your future first.
Smaller paychecks, higher prices and growing debts are leading many consumers to examine their money matters more closely. As WANE-TV and CNN Money reported recently, consumers are cutting back as they feel a new pinch on their money matters. As Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president for market insights at MasterCard Advisors, observes:
People still are acting as if we are in a recession.
Some ways people are taking action include:
- Holding off on major purchases
- Decreasing energy expenses by driving less or turning down thermostats
- Cutting out or reducing spending on splurges like coffee-shop lattes
- Hunting for sales and using coupons more often
One way we at 3Rivers are helping our community overcome money challenges is through something we call WalletCare. We’ve been doing it for 75+ years but only recently gave it a label. We take an honest look at your financial lifestyle and seek ways to help you better manage your debts. Then, we suggest options for using your newly freed-up cashflow to pay down debt faster, save for retirement or have a little extra breathing room to budget more confidently.
A real-life WalletCare example
A member we’ll call “Pat” recently visited us. Through a brief conversation, we learned about 11 different debt payments that Pat makes monthly.
They total just a hair under $1,000 and Pat was starting to struggle to come up with enough to cover all the payments each month. To make things worse, Pat’s credit rating was also starting to suffer because those payment obligations were a big chunk of Pat’s income.
Our team member suggested an alternative to consolidate all those debts into one monthly payment totaling $225 each month – a reduction of more than $760!
Our team member then offered Pat a few different options for using those funds more effectively. Pat chose to use half the savings (about $380 a month) as an extra payment on the principal of the new loan and put the other half into a newly opened IRA.
The WalletCare impact?
Pat went from having a high monthly payment commitment, no retirement savings and a slowly deteriorating credit rating to the prospect of being completely debt free in 55 months (instead of 180) and having an IRA with an estimated $45,000 when retirement comes. And, Pat didn’t have to take on any new debt or make any drastic life alterations.
That’s life changing. That’s WalletCare.
Penn Station Inc. has said their customers should beware of false charges to their debit and credit card accounts as they deal with an ongoing data breach that involves many of the company’s local restaurants.
Though this was first discovered in late April, the Penn Station payments breach has continued for several weeks. For a list of identified locations and answers to frequently asked questions, Penn Station is regularly updating the FAQ on their website.
Members, as always, make sure you review your transaction history (Online Access and Mobile Access are great real-time solutions). If you find suspicious activity on your 3Rivers credit or debit card or in your credit report, report the unauthorized charges immediately.
Additional information generally about data breaches can be obtained from the Federal Trade Commission by contacting the agency toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) (TTY: 1-866-653-4261), or writing to Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.
You may also consider contacting the major credit reporting agencies:
Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.
(800) 525-6285 *
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian Information Solutions, Inc.
888.397.3742/ TDD 800.972.0322
P.O. Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Division
800.680.7289/ TDD 877.553.7803
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634-6790
Nearly half (40%) of low- and moderate-income families rely on credit cards for basic needs like rent/mortgage payments, groceries, utilities, or insurance. In households that have annual incomes of less than $50,000, it’s 45%.
That’s the fact reported from a study discussed in a recent TIME Moneyland article about the growing reliance upon credit cards by more American families. The article is summed up as stating:
It’s a safe bet that many of the households struggling with chronic unemployment will turn to increasingly available credit to alleviate a current cash crunch, only to set themselves up for a long-term cycle of debt.
How about you?
Are you seeing the signs of such a cycle beginning in your life? Or, do you now find yourself in the eye of the storm? Is there a growing (or present) reliance upon your credit cards to pay for essentials like food, fuel and home? If so, unless you’re fortunate enough to be able to pay off those charges each and every month, those things get more expensive every month as interest charges and the myriad of other potential fees get tacked onto the balances you still owe.
Ready to find a way that can put an end to your growing debt cycle? Looking for some breathing room in the moments that come between the paychecks? Let us show you the first steps.
Take your debts, be they credit card, automotive, home, or otherwise. Make the cost of having those debts less so you can actually start making progress in getting rid of them instead of watching them go higher month after month.
Do you ever get that feeling? The one you know you shouldn’t resist, but you keep doing it because you’re not ready to face the inevitable. Don’t check out on me. I’m going to use the “B” word in a little while. But trust me, it will be a whole lot more palatable than you ever imagined possible.
A short while ago, I had with a very open and candid conversation with a group of people about how they manage their money. Everyone agreed on two things:
- they play games when it comes to managing their money matters, and
- they need to start doing better at taking control.
At that time, nobody said it, but we all knew figuring out where to begin is no easy task. And that’s why our Debt in Focus tool was created. It quickly and easily puts your everyday money matters into a simple overview that’s organized, evaluates your personal situation and suggests next steps. Plus, it’s 100% anonymous!
Just answer simple questions about your income, debts and expenses. We do a bunch of crazy math behind the scenes and provide results so you can easily examine your personal money matters, review potential plans for debt repayment, explore your (wait for it…) Budget (which WE CREATE FOR YOU based upon the info you provide) and give you the opportunity to request more guidance (your personal info is shared with us ONLY if you ask for it – remember, it can be 100% anonymous if you choose).
Can it get any easier? Give Debit in Focus a try – and get a grip on your finances.
After that, come back and comment on this post. Share your opinions about Debt in Focus or fess up to some of the “games” you’ve played while managing your money matters.