The hurdle all recent college grads face is getting a job. Some have a job lined up before graduation. Most search for a job for a couple months after. And some struggle to find employment within 6 months of their graduation date. But the best thing you can do during that student loan grace period is to earn some kind of income — especially if you have private loans.
The average amount a college grad owes in student loans upon graduation is around $37,172. The 6-month grace period is meant to give graduates enough time to find their first job before loan payments start becoming due. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.
If you do find yourself out of work when your loan payments come due, you have a few options. With federal loans, you can apply for a payment adjustment based on your income. An Income-Based Repayment Plan is based on income, family size and residence, not on the amount borrowed. For most, these payments are capped at no more than 15 percent of a borrower's discretionary income. Additionally, loans taken out on or after Oct. 1, 2011, these payments are capped at 10 percent of discretionary income.
Unfortunately, uninsured private loans and Perkins loans are ineligible for an Income-Based Repayment Plan. If you do have private loans, you may be able to work out a reduced payment with your lender or your lender might have options to refinance. But this can vary. It would be much better to be able to make the payments, or at least be able to pay some amount, right?
Obviously, when searching for a job, you don't have control over whether you get hired or not. You can do everything right. Make a good first impression, have great references, and a stellar résumé — but still don't get the job. However, you can still earn some income or save money while you're looking for your first full-time job. And if you can, it would go a long way to begin making payments during your grace period. But if it's too much a strain, then don't worry about it.
Consider taking a paid internship with flexible hours or pursue freelance work. Sure, you could take a part-time retail job, but probably it won't offer the flexibility or experience a job in your field will. The goal is to find something with some income (even if it's less than ideal) while you're looking for a great full-time job. And if it's in your field, you can list it as applicable experience on your résumé and maybe even get a good reference out of it.
So, if you want to become a teacher and you're struggling to find work, try substituting with your local school district. Want to work in advertising? Try to find a short-term position or a paid internship. If they end up liking you, you might also be hired full-time. If you want to work as a journalist or another kind of writer, freelance work is your best bet. Evaluate your options based on your field and choose what works best for you.
The goal is to earn some money — even if you can't find a job right away — so you don't have to worry about making your student loan payments when they come due.
When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.