Most Americans who go to college today borrow money to earn their degree. The average amount of debt per student has climbed to $33,000 - a number that continues to grow. 1 After graduation, many people find themselves overwhelmed by the burden of repaying their student loans. Monthly payments are often high and can absorb a good chunk of your paycheck leaving you with very little left over to plan for the future - forget about having any fun. But student loan debt shouldn't make you put your life on hold. Thankfully there is Credible, a free service that allows you to compare personalized prequalified rates from multiple lenders to find the best options for refinancing student loan debt. Here's how Credible helped these graduates ease the weight of their student loan debt.

How Emily Cut Her Interest Rates with Credible and Saved $11,000

Emily Pritchard didn't need an accounting degree to tell her that $100,000 in student loan debt was a tall mountain to climb, but she set her sights on paying off her student loan debt before she was 30. It wasn't until she was halfway through college that she realized the gravity of the debt she'd been accumulating.

"Halfway through, I almost transferred to another school because of the cost," Pritchard recalls. Undeterred, she completed her degree and made it her mission to educate herself on how best to repay her student loans. "When I graduated in 2012, the interest rate on one of my loans was 11 percent, which is outrageous." She tried many options, and eventually found the Credible marketplace to be the perfect solution for her.

After graduating, options for refinancing were limited. "Because I work in financial services, you are hearing about interest rates all the time," she recalls. "I started Googling, 'Who does student loan refinancing? What is the process?'" The first time she refinanced, she went through a credit union which gave her a 6.5% variable interest rate. Knowing she could do better, she found Credible and was able to refinance again into a loan with a 4.75% fixed interest rate and a shorter repayment term. With these new terms, she estimates she's able to save an additional $11,000 over the life of her loan. On top of that, her loans haven't put her life on hold. While there's still a journey ahead toward repayment, her financial discipline and commitment to paying off her loans has put her on a path to a better future.

How Refinancing Through Credible Saved Stephanie $23,000

In 2007, Stephanie White graduated with two bachelor's degrees and $55,000 in loans to repay. Working two and sometimes three jobs but barely paying off her loan principal, she wanted to boost her earning potential and become a nurse practitioner. By getting an accelerated bachelor's in nursing and working in an ER while earning her master's, she was certified as a nurse practitioner. But she now found herself $85,000 in debt.

"Suddenly, I have a lucrative career as a family nurse practitioner, but I'm paying more than $1,000 a month on my student loans," says White. "They say, 'You're a high earner,' but I had no disposable income." With her loan payments being consumed by interest, she believed she'd be stuck in debt until her 40s. White needed a better solution, and that's when she went through Credible.

She's used Credible twice to help refinance her loans.

"The first time, I just refinanced my higher, 6.8 percent interest rate loan," she recalls. "I was skeptical, but it saved me a ton of money. I realized there were no loopholes and refinanced three more loans." She expects to save $23,000 over the life of her loan by reducing her interest rates to 3.5%. Thanks to Credible, she's able to spend less time worrying about her debt and now uses her disposable income on things she actually enjoys.

The Credible marketplace can save borrowers money by showing them real rates they're prequalified for with multiple lenders. Fill out a short form, and Credible's integrations with lenders and credit bureaus provide eligible borrowers with personalized rates in minutes, without affecting their credit score. Best of all, Credible's services are free -- there are no hidden fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties when refinancing student loans. And because your personal information isn't shared unless you see an option you'd like to proceed with, you won't be bombarded with marketing materials just because you checked your rates.

Whether your goal is to pay off your loans early, reduce your monthly payments, or decrease the total lifetime repayment costs of your loan, Credible is an ideal resource.

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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.