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Student Loan Delinquencies Going Up + How to Start Repaying Your Student Loan

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Student loans that are at least 90 days delinquent or in default ballooned to a record $166.4 billion in the final quarter of 2018, according to Bloomberg analysis. That means the “seriously delinquent” debt continued to rise even as the unemployment rate fell below 4% — a sign that the robust job market hasn’t generated enough wage growth for recent graduates to make payments. “If you have a choice to pay your student loan or for food or housing, which do you choose?” asked a Bloomberg Intelligence strategist. Warren Taylor, Executive Vice-President at BankMobile, says it is time to start paying off your student loans. 

This blog post will not address all the various types of student loans (Federal, State, the private sector, etc.) and their repayment terms – as that would be a very long blog! This article is more about how to pay off your loans as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Should You Consolidate?

First, you may want to explore loan consolidation. This is where all your student loans are reviewed, with their different interest rates and repayment terms, and then paid off by consolidating them into just one new loan with one monthly payment. For many, this is a good way to go. Your overall interest rate may be reduced, thereby saving you money. It helps that you have one payment to make each month, instead of five loan payments all with different due dates. The only real danger to consolidating loans is that you may lose some benefits that some of your loans may have – like loan forgiveness, loan forbearance, etc.

Choosing the Best Loan Term for You

When choosing a loan term, picking the shortest repayment time in order to get the lowest interest rate may not make sense. Your rate will be lower, true, but your required monthly payment will also be very high. This high monthly payment may hurt your chances of getting other loans – like a mortgage because your “back end” ratio is too high (see my first blog on budgets for an explanation). Picking the longest term may not be wise either. True, your monthly payment will be low, but because you are taking so long to pay off the loan, you will pay the most in interest since the term is longer and your rate will be higher (typically the longer the repayment term, the higher the interest rate). Just when you thought you were “getting” how this loan repayment term thing worked, I need to add another complication. It’s based on rewards. If a ten-year repayment term has a 5% rate, and a 15-year term has a 10% rate, it may be in your best interest to take advantage of the shorter loan term because your interest rate is cut in half.

How to Repay Your Student Loan Off Faster

Let’s get to repaying your loan – and sharing some “tricks” on how to repay a loan faster. The average college student graduates owing $27,000 in debt. This is the amount of the loan in our example. Most loan program terms range from 10 to 25 years – consolidated loans have some shorter terms as well. Your monthly payment for a ten-year loan, at 7% interest, on $27,000 would be $313.49. If you pay an extra $24.18 a month, you will shave a full year off your loan – paying it off in 9 years instead of 10! Making this slightly higher monthly payment will save you over $1,150 during the life of the loan. I use the iOS app “Loan Calculator – What If?” to calculate loan payments.

Using the same example above, I could get a ten-year loan @ 7% interest, or they offer me a 15-year loan at 7.5% interest. I might be inclined to go with the 15-year offer at 7.5% interest. Why? Well, my mandatory monthly payment would drop from $313.49 to $250.29. This lower payment might help keep me under my 36% back-end ratio, thereby allowing me to get a mortgage or other financing if needed. Second, if my spouse or I got laid off, if we had an emergency repair, a health crisis, having a required loan payment of $250.29 would allow me to keep my loan current and take the extra money to pay for the emergency. If you do take the longer term, and here is where you need this discipline, I would still recommend you pay the higher monthly payment of $337.67. By paying this extra $87.38 per month, you would pay off the loan in 9 years and four months.

General Guidelines

So what is the right choice?  Without knowing your ratios, income, debt levels, and other factors, it is very hard to tell you what to do.  However, here are some general guidelines to follow:

1. I would probably suggest going with a fixed rate loan instead of a variable rate loan. Why? Interest rates are at historic lows. There’s a greater likelihood that rates will go up than come down. So taking on a variable rate loan now will likely lead to higher interest rates, hence higher monthly payments, shortly. On a fixed rate loan, your payments will not go up if interest rates go up. Again, choosing the right loan depends on your income, debt, and discipline.

2. Whatever your required loan payment is, pay more. Think about it, in the example above, paying $24.18 more a month (that’s basically 80 cents a day), cuts a whole year off your loan term! Imagine if you paid an extra $54.62 a month (that’s $1.80 a day), you would shave two years off your loan term – paying your student loan off in 8 years instead of 10 years. Isn’t that worth not having one Starbucks coffee a day? Trade in a cup of coffee per day, shave two years off your loan repayment! Perhaps I’ll write another blog on easy ways to save $20 to $200 per month.

3. Always pay your debts on time – even paying them a day late or $1 short can hurt your credit rating. But, if you do want to pay off debt quicker than normal, start with paying the extra money on your highest rate loan. This means you use the extra money you have saved from not going to Starbucks anymore to pay off your credit cards first, student loans next, and your car loan will probably be your lowest interest rate loan. It’s amazing what an extra $1 a day can do to reduce a loan balance!

Maintaining a low level of debt is key to creating a successful financial life for yourself.  Now, let’s shed the debt!

Ash Exantus aka Ash Cash is one of the nation’s top personal finance experts. Dubbed as the Financial Motivator, he uses a culturally responsive approach in teaching financial literacy. He is the Head of Financial Education at BankMobile and Editor-in-Chief at Paradigm Money. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ash Cash and not the views of BankMobile and/or its affiliates.

The Daily Digm (News)

Amazon Prime Day Kicks off W/ Competition + How to Kick off the Habit of Paying Full Price

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Ready, set, go! Amazon’s Prime Day starts today and continues through Tuesday, bringing a whole new meaning to retail wars, as Walmart becomes the latest rival to try to get in on the mid-summer online-shopping bonanza. This year marks Amazon’s fifth year of Prime Day, and according to Salesforce’s Rob Garf, the shopping event has prompted “rising shifts” for the entire month of July. Target and eBay have also announced sales of their own. There is definitely competition in these mean retail streets but how do you compete with yourself to save money?

I have a friend who spent time as an intern and then as an assistant buyer at a Fortune 500 specialty brand, and from her experience, she vowed never to pay full price for a pair of jeans again (unless the price is already right of course). Working in the buying department opened her eyes to reality behind retail. For instance, jewelry can be marked up to at least five times its value. As a buyer, you’re the one who actually chooses what looks go into each door. You also have the privilege of watching sales trends and dealing with a lot of retail math. You consider the cost of goods sold, retail price, and yes, the markup.

Markup is when a company produces or purchases a good at one price and then sells the good for a higher price.

Here’s how it works:

Selling price = [(Cost) ÷ (100 – percentage markup)] × 100.

So, a company buys a pair of jeans at wholesale for $60 and needs to sell it at a 60 percent markup. The calculation would be [($60) ÷ (100 – 60)] x 100. This breaks down to ($60 ÷ 40) x 100, resulting in a selling price of $150.

By having a markup on goods, a company is able to earn profits even when goods go on sale. But what does that mean for the consumer? Well, your pricey luxury shoes, shirt, and hand bag aren’t all that expensive. You just paid an absurd amount for it.

This leads me to the premise of this article – start at the sales rack. Being trendy with your finances should come before fashion. See what deals you can get before paying full price. There is nothing more fashionable then extra cash in your money bag.

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The Daily Digm (News)

Another One! U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Wins Again + How to Win in Your Personal Finances

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The U.S. women’s soccer team are the World Cup champions after beating the Netherlands 2-0. It’s the fourth title overall for the Americans, and the first time they have won back-to-back trophies. The team has also launched itself into the gender pay gap debate with its lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation: the women can expect a guaranteed payday of about $250,000 with Sunday’s title, says the New York Times, while the winning team of the men’s World Cup would have received roughly $1.1 million each, per CNBC.

What about in your personal finances? How do you win? The short-term sacrifice of becoming financially focused early on has long term benefits that are totally worth it also. Here are just a few:

Financial Freedom. The definition of financial freedom varies depending on the person, but it boils down to being able to cover life’s necessities, including food, clothing, and housing expenses. Buckling down in your twenties and thirties to focus on laying a financial foundation leads to financial freedom. And the sooner you get there, the better off you’ll be.

Stress Free Living. Most stress is self-imposed and generally centered around money. Some relationships crumble due to tension perceived by finances. The highest liability we encounter is housing. The second and third largest consist of health care and food. While food and medicine are ongoing obligations, owning a home can eliminate a chunk of financial responsibility, freeing up more money to save and invest. Start early when it comes to homeownership. You may miss a few parties, but the peace that comes with owning the home you rest in will be made up for it.

Generational Wealth. Chances are you’re considering starting a family. What better way to honor those you love with an abundant financial future? Each generation should be able to start a notch above the last. Investing five years of your young adulthood can make a 10-year difference in the lives of your unborn children. This sacrifice isn’t only for you but for those to come after you.

More Time. We are not so much looking for more stuff but for more time to enjoy the stuff we already have and the people we can share that stuff with. The reason most look to retirement is to enjoy what they have worked so hard for. The moment you decide to be financially responsible is the moment you begin to enjoy the journey, both the highs and lows of creating wealth. By all means, don’t save the party until the end. Celebrate while you build but remember to never lose focus of the building. 

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Nike AIMS to Get on the Right Side of History + How to Be on the Right Side of Your Legacy

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Nike has pulled a U.S.A-themed sneaker from its range after receiving objections from Colin Kaepernick, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing anonymous sources. The former NFL player reportedly told the company that the early American flag featured on the Air Max 1 USA, created in celebration of July 4, was offensive due to its connection to slavery. Nike also recently stopped selling some products in China after a designer’s support for Hong Kong protests sparked backlash, and reportedly cancelled a sneaker in May following objections.

The flag in particular is the Betsy Ross flag which Wikipedia states: The Betsy Ross flag is an early design of the flag of the United States, attributed to Betsy Ross, using the common motifs of the alternating red-and-white striped field with five-pointed stars in a blue canton. Grace Rogers Cooper noted that the first documented usage of this flag was in 1792.[1] The flag features 13 stars to represent the original 13 colonies with the stars arranged in a circle. The 13 Colonies has a deep connection to Slavery which is where the objection is coming from.

It is good to see that someone is using their influence in the right way, but also this tells you how influence can affect the bottom line. This move is helping Nike create or clean up its legacy.

We are now in graduation season, and for many students, graduating college is an enormous feat that starts the beginning of their legacy. But after you are now free to do as you wish, how do you continue to add to that legacy? Yes, you are going to start a billion dollar business or work as an exec for a fortune 500 company but beyond your title and accolades, what else can you bring to the table? The truth of the matter is that what you do with your money is more important than how much you have. It is said that a good man (or woman) leaves an inheritance for his (or her) children’s children. And even if we don’t have children, leaving an inheritance of wealth on earth for the benefit of others is the truest form of what we call being rich. If one is truly wealthy, he or she freely gives. Making your riches count is found in your legacy. So, while we may not fully understand what our legacy will be when all is said and done, we can aim to leave the following:

Knowledge & Wisdom.

Maya Angelou told Oprah Winfrey that no one truly knows their legacy because they can influence different people differently. No matter your level of education, you have the ability to give a word of wisdom because the wise are those who have experienced life and learn lessons along the way. Never underestimate your ability to encourage another person.

Kindness.

Ellen DeGeneres is synonymous with kindness. At the end of each show, she can be heard saying Be Kind to One Another. The impact that she has had on students, families, young stars, and animals is surely a legacy. Something as simple as kindness, an ability we all have access to because it resides in us, goes a very long way. It literally changes lives.

Money & Assets.

Robert Kiyosaki said money isn’t everything, but it does affect almost everything in our lives that is important. Leaving beyond money and financial assets to your children and their children can put your loved ones ahead 10, 20, and even 50 years. While you are building wealth, keep future generations in mind. Most of our early adulthood is spent paying school loans, discovering our purpose, and laying a financial foundation. Imagine what life would be like if your parents set up twice as much as they did for you financially. You’d most likely be at least five years ahead of where you are.

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