Student Loan Forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness has been a highlight in the news lately, and with the looming end of the student loan forbearance coming up in just a few months (September 30th, 2021) there’s no wonder why. America holds over $1.7 trillion in student debt. President Biden has expressed support of $10,000 forgiveness per person, though Democrats are pushing for a higher $50,000 forgiveness.

It seems that President Biden has swayed in his opinion on forgiveness, as on April 1st he asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona whether it was within the president’s power to cancel $50k in student loan debt. The Department of Education has not yet released its findings. Until the findings are released, we likely won’t see any major moves made. Biden might be able to sign an executive order to cancel some student loan debt per person, or Congress may have to pass a bill if cancellation is outside of Biden’s purview.

As it stands, there are currently a few forgiveness options for those who qualify.

  • If you have a disability, you may qualify for forgiveness and discharge of your student loans.
  • The Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a program that forgives federal direct student loans for borrowers that hold a government or non-profit job, after 120 qualifying on-time payments in an income-driven repayment plan. In recent years there has been some significant issues with this forgiveness program. Since 2007, when the program began, nearly 99% of applicants have not been approved. In 2020 it was found that the Office of Federal Student Aid had been mischaracterizing employers, causing qualified applicants to be labeled as ineligible.
  • Borrowers on an income-driven repayment plan, where the monthly payments are no more than 10% of the borrower’s discretionary income, can have their loan balance forgiven after 20 years for undergrads or 25 years for grad students.

The Wrap Up

Though we won’t know for sure whether student loan forgiveness is on the table yet, there is reason to be hopeful. Over 1 million Americans have signed petitions for forgiveness, and with mounting pressure from the democratic party to pursue student debt, we may see some relief sooner rather than later.

For more information you can visit www.studentaid.gov

Passive Income Ideas

Passive income may be a new concept for you, but we’ve got you covered! Passive income is income that doesn’t rely on a straight hours-worked structure. It is money made from rental property, limited partnership, or other avenues in which you are not trading hours of your life for a set income, and with little to no effort on your part. Sounds like the dream, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. The barrier for entry on passive income may seem daunting, but in all actuality, it’s relatively easy to take the leap and start building your wealth now!

Selling Information Products

If you have any level of expertise in any area, chances are there is a market for the information you have. Writing an eBook or creating a webinar is ridiculously easy these days. And with the right marketing strategy, you can sell your information like hot cakes! Research your target demographic, create a few surveys and connect with beginner groups to figure out what novices want and need!

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an easy way to generate passive income if you’re already building an online business or brand. Connecting with a good affiliate marketing program and keeping up to date on SEO best practices can help take your affiliate income to a whole new level.

Dividend Stocks

By investing in dividend stocks, and opting for a DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan), you can watch your investments grow as you sit idle and enjoy your wealth! This is a great way to ensure you have a comfortable retirement, or a relatively easy way to begin paying down debts.

Flipping Retail Products

If you have time on your hands, you can take advantage of online sales platforms like Amazon or eBay to sell products you find at very low prices. You can pocket the proceeds and make a killing on some great deals. This can also work well if you create a website to help generate interest in your products and deals. Just be sure there is a market for the items you purchase, otherwise you may end up with a garage full of products that won’t sell.

The Take Away

Passive income isn’t an unattainable goal that only the upper class can enjoy. Everyone starts somewhere and you can start today! Get creative and start expanding your passive income streams!

Join us next week for more great personal finance tips and information!

Planning A Vacation During A Pandemic

Though vaccines are rolling out at a steady pace and now available to the public readily, the nation has yet to reach herd immunity levels of vaccination. This can make planning a vacation a bit dicey, especially as cases rise sporadically across the states. We’ve compiled a handy list of tips to help you plan your vacation safely while getting the most bang for your buck!

Be Informed

If you are planning to vacation out of state or out of the country, check that state or country’s local regulations and mandates to ensure you are able to visit with minimal hassle. If you are flying, be sure you are up to date on airline requirements for safe travel. Check the safety protocols for your accommodations. You want to know what will be required of you, and what to expect from your stay. You definitely don’t want to be caught by surprise and have to quarantine for the entirety of your vacation!

Low Risk Vacations

If you are worried about your health but still need to get away, opt for a low-risk vacation. Check out your state’s national parks and campgrounds and get back in touch with nature! If camping isn’t your thing, check out cabin rentals! If you’re looking forward to a roadtrip, you’ll need to put in some extra work, depending on how far you’re planning to cruise. You will want to educate yourself on each state’s rules and regulations to ensure a smooth trip.

Hotel or AirBnB?

If you can, opt for a private AirBnb. You’ll have less contact with others and won’t have to worry about housekeeping entering your room and touching your stuff. Depending on your destination, AirBnB may be a cheaper alternative too!

Scheduling

Try to plan your vacation and outings around peak times so you can avoid big crowds. If you’re hitting the beach, choose to go in the middle of the week so you can avoid the weekend flocks of tourists! You’ll find a spot to soak up the sun much easier, and you’ll be able to practice social distancing much easier.

Hit The Pool

Outdoor pools offer the same lower levels of risk as beaches, but offer the added benefit of chlorine, which kills COVID. Just be sure to bring your own towels and avoid the locker rooms if possible.

Opt for Outdoor Events

Summertime is perfect for vacations because so many events are held outside and spaced out. Hit up a local farmer’s market, tour a farm or visit a wildlife sanctuary! There are tons of fun options that can be done safely!

You can still enjoy your vacation time and get some much needed rest and relaxation while minimizing your risks, financially and health-wise!

Come back next week for more helpful tricks and tips that will save you money and time!

The Best Coupon Sites!

Whether you’re simply looking to save a few bucks on your groceries or are a seasoned coupon clipper, you’ll want to check out these coupon sites today!

  1. Rakuten

Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten is a coupon and cashback site that is completely free and can earn you cashback on hundreds of websites. If you love to shop online, this is the site for you! With coupons and cashback, what more could you want? Simply install the Chrome browswer extension and get 1%-12% cashback, paid out to a PayPal account or via check, your choice!

  1. Ibotta

This coupon and cashback app saves you money when grocery shopping! By simply scanning your purchases into the app, watching short videos or leaving a comment on a product, you can earn cashback quickly!

  1. Swagbucks

This site offers printable coupons to use in-store, as well as cashback for online shopping! Each time you print a coupon, you earn Swagbucks! Redeem your Swagbucks for gift cards and earn more by watching videos, taking surveys and using it’s dedicated search engine.

  1. Groupon

Groupon helps you find deals for services, entertainment, and restaurants near you! You can also find some great travel deals, including accommodations, airfare, car rentals and more!

  1. com

Find coupons for in-store and online retailers with this great site! Coupons.com updates its coupons every month and allows you to earn cashback by linking your debit card to the site.

  1. SmartSource

SmartSource allows you to print off the same coupons that circulate in the Sunday newspaper.

  1. The Krazy Coupon Lady

The Krazy Coupon Lady is the epitome of savvy shopping! The site offers printable and online coupons, tons of information to teach you the coupon ropes, and notifies you of fantastic deals! If you want the most bang for your buck, this site is a must!

Join us next week for more great online shopping tips and education!

Managing Identity Theft

If you’ve been notified that your identity has been stolen, or discovered it on your own, there are steps you need to take to ensure that you’re not on the receiving end of the financial and legal backlash. Today we will break down the process and steps you need to take first!

 

Cancel Your Cards

If you haven’t already, you need to cancel your cards and have new ones issued. This will stop additional charges from racking up in your name.

 

File A Police Report

If you lost your wallet and someone has run up charges on your cards, you need to file a police report as soon as you realize what’s happened. The police can gather evidence and prove that you are not responsible for the charges.  The police report will be necessary proof for the bank or credit card issuer.

 

Notify Relevant Companies

Contact all companies that you have financial ties to, especially if you have autopay set up. You’ll need to change all your banking information to ensure your bills are still paid on time. No need to rack up additional fines and late fees on top of the stress of having your identity stolen.

 

File A Report With The FTC

Contact the Federal Trade Commission immediately. The FTC will help you make an identity theft report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation.

 

Fraud Alert

Place a fraud alert on your credit report. If you use a site like CreditKarma.com, they will have a guide to help you in the process. If you don’t, contact the federal credit bureaus individually.

 

Freeze Your Credit

Placing a freeze on your credit can ensure that your information cannot be used to take out credit lines in your name for a set amount of time. This will deter the identity thief from future attempts.

 

Reset Passwords

Do a deep dive on all of your online accounts, from social media and email to shopping and banking. Reset everything and create unique passwords for each individual site to ensure maximum security and lower the risk of future breaches.

 

By taking these steps quickly, you can minimize the amount of financial harm that can result from identity theft.

Building Generational Wealth

If you have children or want children, you’ve probably thought about generational wealth at one time or another. Unfortunately, around 75% of Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck, and aspirations of generational wealth are pushed to the wayside in favor of simply attempting to make it to the end of the month without accruing overdraft fees or experiencing a financial emergency. As lockdowns ease and the world begins to reopen, employment will be more easily attained once again, offering more opportunities for stability. This means people can once again refocus on their financial goals. Read on for our practical tips to help you begin your journey to generational wealth.

Increase Your Income Streams

Whether you take up a side hustle or begin to invest in the stock market, you need to expand your income streams. Most millionaires have an average of 7 income streams. Once you establish an additional income stream, aside from your 9-5, it’s time to establish some passive income streams. This may mean writing an eBook, creating a webinar or launching a blog that is well monetized.

Educate Yourself

Continue building your skillsets, both financially and generally. The more varied your skillsets, the more opportunities you will have for increasing your income. Never stop learning, growing, and applying what you learn to your financial journey.

Live Below Your Means

Keeping money is just as important as making it. If you are hemorrhaging money each month, you won’t have the opportunity to invest that money. Living below your means means being intentional with your purchases, living frugally, and not trying to keep up with The Jones’. If generational wealth is your goal, you don’t need a McMansion or a Benz when your home in the suburbs and a used sedan can get the job done. It also means you ensure that you have emergency funds set aside to keep you afloat without having to access your investments.

Flesh Out Your Portfolio

Once you have your bases covered with a healthy emergency fund, passive and active income streams, and are living below your means, it’s time to focus on your investments and expand your portfolio. If you are not yet comfortable managing your own portfolio, visit a financial advisor or fund manager to get some guidance. If you’ve educated yourself and feel comfortable with managing your own investments, begin the process of expanding and diversifying your investments.

The Bottom Line

Generational wealth doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. With some strategy and hard work, you can ensure the financial security of your family for generations to come. By educating your children and instilling those same ethics, you can ensure that your wealth endures.

Join us next week for more education and insight to help you find your financial freedom!

Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Spring is upon us, and for many, that means throwing open the windows, dusting the rugs and doing some deep cleaning and decluttering. It’s also an opportunity to deep clean your finances! Here are some helpful tips to aid in the process of that spring cleaning spree you don’t want to forget.

 

Declutter

Channel Marie Kondo and do a deep dive on decluttering your home. Get rid of the clothes you haven’t worn for years, the gadgets and gizmos you have long forgotten the use for and make some money in the process! Tackle one room at a time and sort everything into piles; keep, sell, donate and trash. List the stuff you think will sell on sites like OfferUp, CraigsList, Facebook Marketplace. Almost everything else can be donated and your trash pile will likely be minimal. Be sure to keep your donation receipts so you can claim them as deductions next tax season.

 

Tackle the paper pile

Get rid of that beat up file cabinet and upload your most important documents. Back them up to the cloud and save them in an external hard drive so they’ll always be secure. You’ll likely free up a ton of space and staying organized will be a breeze. For vital documents like birth certificates and social security cards, invest in a portable fireproof safe. If it’s not valuable enough for the safe, it’s not worth keeping a physical copy of. Make sure you shred your documents after you’ve uploaded them to ward off identity theft.

 

Financial Goal Benchmark Check

If you set personal finance goals at the beginning of the year, now might be the time to check in and check your progress. If you are coming up short and not where you want to be, you can take this time to reevaluate your budget, spending habits and goals.

 

Trim the fat

Apps like Truebill and Trim are the perfect tool to use while decluttering your finances. The apps will track your finances and notify you of subscriptions that are draining your funds so that you can cancel them easily and quickly.

 

Check your credit

It’s recommended that you check your credit at least a few times a year so that you can identify and resolve any discrepancies quickly. Take a few minutes and browse your recent history for any suspicious transactions.

 

Happy Cleaning!

Mitigating the Effects of Eviction

The eviction moratoriums put in place during 2020 will soon be coming to an end, which means millions of Americans may soon be facing homelessness and the repercussions of eviction. Having an eviction on your record can bar you from finding housing and damage your credit score, creating even more barriers to finding your footing again after such a turbulent year. Here are some ways you can mitigate the effects of eviction.

 

Pay Off Judgements

If you have been evicted and the judge placed a monetary judgement against you, pay it off as quickly as possible. Though an eviction won’t show up on your credit report, it will show up on other consumer reports that property management companies tend to run. Your credit score will be impacted by unpaid collections accounts and can make it harder to secure loans or even get a credit card.

 

Pay Rent

Even if you are “renting” space on your auntie’s couch and only chipping in on the utilities, create a record of all payments made and the informal rental agreement. This can be vital for demonstrating responsibility to potential future landlords.

 

Build Goodwill

Pay back your previous landlord as quickly as possible. When you show good faith and put things to rights with your previous landlord, you may be able to get them to remove derogatory marks on your credit report. You may also request a letter of reference from the landlord that will go a long way with future landlords.

 

Gainful Employment

If you lost your home due to unemployment, the first thing you want to focus on is getting a job. Most landlords want 3 months proof of employment. They need to know you can pay your rent. Factor this time frame in with whoever you are crashing with while getting back on your feet.

 

Find a Cosigner

If you are out of time and need a new place asap, it may be time to reach out to a relative to ask if they can cosign for you. Only reach out to a potential cosigner that has impeccable credit. Keep in mind that being a cosigner is a huge risk and if you fail to pay your rent, they will be held responsible so not everyone will be willing to put themselves on the hook for you.

 

Losing your home can be traumatic and stressful, but it isn’t insurmountable. By taking steps and being proactive, you can regain your stability and security.

The Skinny on Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Ethereum have been making major waves in the investment world. Savvy investors with their finger on the pulse of that world have made millions on their investments. But investing in cryptocurrency is not for everyone. We’ll explore cryptocurrency and the pros and cons associated.

 

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency used to buy and sell goods and services using an online ledger with cryptography to secure online transactions. Real currency can be traded for cryptocurrency or “tokens” that can be used to access those services and goods. Cryptocurrencies use a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is decentralized technology spread across many computers around the world that manage and record the transactions and keep the ledger.

 

There are currently nearly 7,000 different cryptocurrencies available for public trading. The total value of all cryptocurrencies is over $1.6 trillion. The most popular cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, with a value of nearly $60,000 for one Bitcoin (BTC)

 

Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies are popular because they are seen as the currency of the future. Some users love the fact that cryptocurrency removes central banks from the equation and the decentralized processing system can be more secure than traditional payment systems.

 

Is crytpocurrency a good investment?

Cryptocurrency can be a risky investment, and unless you are in a position that losing the money you invest won’t place you in a financially perilous position, it can be a dicey decision. Cryptocurrency is a volatile and unpredictable market. In 2017, Bitcoin was trading around $20k, but dropped to around $3k a year later, and currently it is at nearly $60k. Depending on the cryptocurrency you choose to invest in, you can purchase fractional shares. If you are looking to invest in cryptocurrency in an ICO, read the fine print carefully. Know who owns the company, who the major investors are, what your investment will gain you (stake in a company, currency or tokens). Even if the cryptocurrency is backed by legitimate and big name investors, it does not ensure that the cryptocurrency will perform well.

 

The risks and drawbacks

One of the biggest risks of cryptocurrency is the risk of theft by hackers. One high-profile exchange declared bankruptcy in 2014 when hackers stole hundreds of millions of dollars in bitcoins. Traditional investments hold significantly less risk. Another issue to keep in mind is the legality. Cryptocurrency is legal everywhere in the U.S, but China has banned virtually all cryptocurrencies. Check your local, state and federal laws before making any decisions.

Tackling Student Loans

One of the most challenging barriers to wealth is student loan debt. Millions of Americans will default on their loans at some point in their life. Some people spend their entire lives paying back student loans and it can be a weight around your neck! By tackling your loans and paying them down aggressively and quickly, you unburden yourself of the debt and can begin to allocate those funds towards your long-term financial goals. Here’s our top tips to help you pay down your student loans quickly!

 

Make Extra Payments

There is no penalty for paying your student loans early or paying over the minimum. Be sure that you notify your student loan servicer that you want the increased payments to applied to the current balance and not the following month’s payment. This will help you pay off your debt at a much faster rate. If you owe $20,000 with a 4.5% interest rate, by paying an extra $200 every month you can be debt-free more than 5 years ahead of schedule on a 10 year repayment plan.

 

Refinance

Refinancing can be scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. But by refinancing your student loan, you can pay it off faster by increasing your payments and shortening the length of time for repayment. This also saves you thousands in interest. Only do this if you have good credit and a stable, steady job.

 

Autopay

Many federal student loan servicers offer a .25% interest rate decrease when you opt for autopay. It won’t save you thousands, but it will help in the long run.

 

Biweekly Payments

Opting for biweekly payments ensures that you’ll make at least one extra payment a year, shortening the time it takes to pay off your student loan and decreasing the interest you’ll pay over time. Just make sure you rearrange your budget to accommodate the changes!

 

These simple steps can help you tackle those loans and pay them off at a faster rate, saving you time and money that could otherwise be allocated towards investing in your portfolio, adding to your 401k, and increasing your life insurance policy. Escaping the rat-race means clearing away the debt, and student loans can be the first one to go on your list!