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.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.