Forbes

According to Forbes, there are over 44 million student loan borrowers who owe more than $1.4 trillion dollars in debt. Yes, trillion. That sum is staggering, and for many the monthly minimums you're required to pay back on your loans is unmanageable. Over 1 million borrowers default on their student loan payments every year. By 2023 the U.S Department of Education estimates that around 40% of borrowers will go into default.

What happens when you default on your student loans?

Defaulting on your student loan payments means you haven't been able to make a single payment towards your debt for about a year. The debt for the total amount of minimum monthly payments you've missed gets sent to collections. Your credit takes a nosedive.

By the time your student loan goes into default, your credit score will have dropped at least 60 points. If you didn't start off with great credit in the first place, your rating after defaulting will likely be considered "very poor", making it harder to get a mortgage or qualify for decent interest rates. According to research from the Urban Institute, record high student loan debt is part of the reason millennials aren't buying homes.


Saving for a home mortage Shutter stock

When you go into default on your loans, some states will even go so far as to suspend your driver's licenses . And because of high interest rates, the total amount you owe in student loans after defaulting increases by about 10%. When you're already having trouble paying your monthly minimums, that increase can be devastating.

Is there a way to get rid of your student loans for good?

When you're unable to pay back other types of debts (your mortgage, a bank loan, etc) you're allowed to file for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy on student loan debt however has historically been extremely difficult. It isn't impossible though.

In 2005, congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. Under the exception, borrowers have to prove their student loans are causing them undue hardship in order to include the debt in bankruptcy filings. What qualifies as "undue hardships"? That's the problem. Congress didn't define the term and courts are left to interrupt it.

Adam Minsky, a lawyer who recently spoke to The Huffington Post, says you need to prove three different factors to the courts. You're unable to maintain a minimal standard of living, based on your current income and expenses, if you're forced to repay your loans. You have made decent efforts to try to repay your loans. Other factors out of your control, that may continue for a long time, are affecting your ability to pay.

Minsky claims, the most successful way of filing for bankruptcy on your student loan debt is to go the route of an adversary proceeding. This essentially means you're suing your student loan lenders for the amount that you owe. Adversary proceedings can be a long and expensive process, but if you can prove your student loans are unmanageable, you might just get rid of your student loans for good.

Borrowers who successfully sued and won were either unemployed, had a medical condition, or could prove their income had dropped from the last year. If you fall into any of these three categories you have a decent chance of winning. 40% of borrowers who file for bankruptcy and include their student loan debt get all or at least a portion of it removed.

Student loan repayment appShutterstock

If you don't want to file for bankruptcy but need help navigating your student loan payments, consider trying a loan repayment app. Apps like ChangED and The Student Loan Hero consolidate all federal and private student loans, and come up with a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible. You can even sync you bank accounts and credit cards to save the change on your purchases. ChangED deposits that change into the app and sends an automatic extra payment to your loans every time it reaches $100.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.