J.D.'s note: Last week's talk by Vicki Robin was hosted by the School of Financial Freedom, a Portland-based organization I'm friendly with. At that talk, I met Naomi Veak, one of the school's coaches. She and I have a lot in common (grew up poor in small towns, attended the same college, etc.). I asked if she'd share her story with Get Rich Slowly readers. She agreed.
Have you ever thought how different your life could have been if you’d taken someone’s advice? What if I told you it may not be too late?
I recently rediscovered a letter my mother wrote to me when I was 19, attending a small liberal arts college in another state.
Last night, as I do from time to time, I met with a GRS reader. Actually, Debbie doesn't read this site but her sister does. And Debbie means to. Although I met Debbie's sister last year at a Camp FI event, I'd never met Debbie before.
"So, what's your situation?" I asked after our waiter had brought us each a glass of wine. "What do you want to know about money?"
"Everything," Debbie said, laughing. "I feel like I don't know much at all right now. I guess deep down, I know what I need to do. I just don't do it."
My friend Amy recently wrote with an interesting dilemma. "Should I pay off my mortgage early?" she wonders.
Amy has a high-paying job and has managed to save enough that she could be completely debt-free if she wanted to. And she kind of wants to! But is this the best choice? She's aware that this is a nice problem to have — but it's still a bit of a muddle. She'd like some guidance.
Here's an abridged version of her email: Continue reading...
This is a guest post from Travis Hornsby, founder of Student Loan Planner. I met Travis last year and realized he knows a lot about something that's a blind spot for me. I asked him if he'd be willing to whip up an article for GRS readers about refinancing student loans. Here it is!
How would you like spending $4000 each year and have nothing to show for it? Sounds crazy, right? Yet that's exactly what happens when you find yourself buried in debt -- whether it's credit-card debt or student loans.
Let me give you an example.
To conclude "back to basics" month at Get Rich Slowly, today we're going to explore an important concept, one that's new to most people. Today, I want to talk about building a wealth snowball.
After nearly twelve years of writing about money, I've gone from not knowing anything to having some very strong opinions.
I now believe know, for instance, that the single most important thing you can do to improve your financial situation is also the most elementary: Increase the gap between your earning and spending.
As part of back to basics month, let's use today to explore how you can get out of debt without gimmicks or games.
After twelve years of reading and writing about money, I've come to believe that debt reduction ought to be a side effect and not a goal. Getting out of debt is a target, not a habit. And, as we've been discussing recently, good goals are built around actions instead of numbers. If you restructure your life so that you're spending less than you earn, you will get out of debt. It's a natural side effect.
Having said that, I realize that a lot of GRS readers are struggling to get to square one. Getting out of debt is their goal and primary obsession. That's okay.
It's been a crazy couple of months for me. Since April, most of my time has been dedicated to selling our condo and buying a new home. Now, at last, the turbulent times are almost over. Kim and I closed on the condo last week, and we'll close on the "country cottage" next Monday. On July 1st, we'll move to the new place and a new chapter of our lives will begin.
As some semblance of normalcy returns to my world, I've been sorting through my Money Boss inbox. I love reading what you folks write to me (even if I don't always respond!), especially when you share your goals and dreams for the future.
Debt is Slavery
For instance, here's part of a message from a woman we'll call Irene. Irene recently experienced an epiphany:
Each time tuition rises, students become more dependent upon loan programs to pay for school.
But the long-term consequences of those decisions means students and graduates will spend years working to get rid of the financial strain associated with student-loan debt.
Time.com put it best: "This year, more than two-thirds of college graduates graduated with debt, and their average debt at graduation was about $35,000, tripling in two decades."<
The graduation parties are over, and it's time to get down to business. Armed with a sense of maturity and independence, you are ready to conquer your coursework in order to snare your first dream job. But if you're like most college students, your pocketbook has nary a dollar to its name.
Whether you're a rising freshman, a dorm veteran or a parent of either, here are 21 commonsense money-saving strategies that can stretch your dollar and ease your financial strain while in college.
1. Drop the latte habit
This one is a no-brainer. Skip the white-chocolate-cinnamon-chai-latte* with extra pumps and learn to love ... plain old coffee. And, of course, brew it yourself in your room (single-serve coffeemakers are quick and easy) or get your coffee as part of your meal plan. Consider this: According to a report by CBS News, the average cost for a single trip to a nationally recognized coffeehouse is $3.25. Not bad for a quick pick-me-up, right? But three trips a week add up to $42.25 a month. Even cutting back on one trip a week puts $126 back into your pocket over a typical school year of nine months. Other ideas: Instead of ordering a latte, ask for an Americano and add your own half-and-half. Or ask for a medium-size specialty drink with a large-size cup full of ice for a larger iced coffee drink at a lesser price. (*real drink!)
[This is the third installment in a series examining repaying student loans. Part I was a best practices guide for repaying student loans. Part II discussed an alternative payment plan, Revised Pay As You Earn or REPAYE.]
In my last post on REPAYE, the new student loan repayment program, I mentioned that it might be possible to artificially lower your adjusted gross income (AGI) in order to lower your required monthly payments under REPAYE.