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Save Money by Consolidating Your Student Loans

Written by Brett McKay

This is a sponsored post

Because of the high cost of a legal education, I have to take out thousands of dollars in student loans. Even though graduation is still two years away, I’m already thinking about how to pay off my debt. Besides being frugal and managing my money well, my student debt attack plan also includes using student loan consolidation programs.

What many students don’t realize is when the sign up with FAFSA, they’re getting their student loans from several different lenders. Also, if you get student loans each year, each loan might have a different interest rate. Instead of having to pay back your debt to different lenders at different rates, student loan consolidation programs puts all your loans into one easy payment.

My wife and I consolidated our undergraduate student loans last year with Nelnet. There really wasn’t a particular reason, except that they sent us the most mail pitching their service. We were able to lock in at a reasonable interest rate before the rate hikes that happened last year. We’ve been really happy with it so far. Because I’m in school, I’ve been able to defer my payback. Nelnet is very user friendly and we’ve been able to set up an automatic deduction system so we don’t even have to think about writing a check.

PremierStudentLoan.com is another student loan consolidation program. They offer a quick and easy online form to fill out. They also provide a message board where students from different states can discuss student loans. There’s also a nifty student loan calculator. PremierStudentLoan looks like a decent debt consolidator.

Next time you get a letter in the mail encouraging you to consolidate student loans , don’t throw it away. Now is the time to start researching into how you’ll pay back your student debt. Debt consolidation could be a helpful tool.

 

 

Carnival of Credit Cards #13 and Carnival of Debt Reduction #87 Are Up

Written by Brett McKay


Go check out the Carnival of Credit Cards hosted by Credit Card Lowdown and the Carnival of Debt Reduction at Ask Mr. Credit Card. They both did an excellent job putting together this week’s submissions. I would also like to thank them both for including my submissions.

[tags] credit cards, debt, blog carnivals[/tags]

Increase Your Buying Pleasure With Tantric Shopping

Written by Brett McKay


If you want to get handle on your debt, you have to curb your spending. Unfortunately, we live in a society that encourages instant gratification.

You see something you want and you want it now! We’ve all experienced it. We wander through the mall with no intention of buying anything and we see a CD or piece of clothing we must have. We know if we buy it, our lives will be cooler, sexier, or more meaningful. So we buy it. Man, that felt good. And it should. Scientific evidence has shown that shopping gives us a small high.

Fast forward a few weeks. That must have CD or shirt doesn’t seem very necessary anymore. In fact, you feel guilty for spending money on stuff you don’t need. Instead of being a fun experience, shopping has become a burden on your psyche.

Revitalize Your Shopping Life

How can you save money and make shopping a fun uplifting experience again? Practice tantric shopping. This idea is based off of the Indian practice of tantric sex. The purpose of tantra is to delay sexual pleasure in order to intensify it. You can do the same thing with your shopping.

If you see something that you think you absolutely must have, hold back from buying it. Put the item on your “I will buy this in one month list.” If after one month you still think buying the item would be worth it, then get it. The waiting time will make acquiring the item much more pleasurable.

In addition to making shopping more enjoyable, tantric shopping will save you money in two ways.

  1. Usually after a month you realize you don’t really need the item, so you don’t spend the money.
  2. After a month, most stuff goes on sell. If you do decide to make the purchase, you’ll be doing so at a reduced price.

Quit the American way of shopping and embrace the Eastern idea of tantra shopping. Your shopping life and bank account will thank you.

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[tags]frugal, shopping, tantra[/tags]

Interview With Legal Andrew About Managing Law School Debt

Written by Brett McKay

Andrew Flusche is the creator of the excellent blog Legal Andrew. Andrew just recently graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law and is preparing for the bar exam. (Boo.) He will be working for the public service group, American Life League, doing something he’s passionate about. Andrew is one the most passionate bloggers I’ve met. He always produces quality posts on legal productivity and improving your blogging. He also has the coolest blog layout I’ve ever seen. Andrew was kind enough to answer some questions on what he is doing to mitigate his crippling law school debt.

1) How much law school debt have your racked up?

My total education debt amounts to a small mortgage. The grand total approaches $140,000. About 9% of that is undergrad; the rest is from law school. I believe that’s a bit above average, even for UVa Law. We encountered some medical expenses in the past three years (such as my spontaneous pneumothorax), so we received some extra loans to help with that.

2) What action or habit do you think saved you the most money while in law school?

Taking the bus to and from school. As you know, sharing one car with your spouse is a great way to save money. My wife and I have had only one car since we got married (right before law school). Our apartment is right on the city bus line. I take a city bus for 15 minutes, then switch to a university bus for another couple of minutes. Everyone affiliated with the university gets to ride all the buses for free. It’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of it. If you’re looking for a place to live, really think about public transportation options. You just can’t ignore free transportation, especially with gas prices these days. Besides, you’ll help the environment a bit.

3) If you have student loan debt, when would you like to pay it off? How do you plan on reaching your goal?

I’d like to pay it off before I die. I say that laughingly, but the men in my family don’t live too long. A 30-year repayment plan might not reach my “before I die” goal. In reality, I’m extremely lucky. UVa Law has a great loan forgiveness program. Since I’m going to be in public service, the school will pay my law school loans for me. I’ll put my law school loans on a 10-year repayment plan. Assuming I stay in public service for 10 years, the school will keep on paying. I have to contribute some, if my salary is over $35,000. But it’s still a great deal. My undergrad loans will be on a 15-year plan, but I’d like to knock them out in 10 years as well.

4) What other personal financial goals have you set for yourself?

My biggest finance goal right now is to start saving. As soon as I start working full-time, we’re going to setup automatic savings debits, as well as contributions to a retirement account. They might start out at only $20 a month, but it will give us a start. I think that’s important; save regularly, even if it seems like chicken feed. Other than that, we want to buy a small starter home. This might be a year or two away, but it’s definitely a goal.

5) What is your weakness in regards to your personal finances and how do you think you can improve it?

Food. You’d be surprised how much two people could spend on food, between groceries, eating out, coffee, snacks, etc. A “good” month of food expenses for us is about $900. The main problem is dinner. If you can find the perfect way to have affordable, easy, tasty meals, you’d be a rich guy.

6) I know you’re big into GTD. How do you manage your finances? Do you have a system like GTD? Is there a particular software you use to keep track of your money?

I don’t know how closely my financial system resembles GTD. We track everything with Microsoft Money, so we can review spending habits and stay on top of bills. I try to follow the “2 minute rule,” by paying bills as soon as I open them. This keeps them from piling up or accidentally being paid late. Receipts get entered a couple times a week. Paychecks are on direct deposit, so they’re in the bank without effort.

7) What do you think is the biggest money mistake law students make?

This will sound hypocritical, but buying food at school is nuts. I’ve bought my share of soft drinks, but buying lunch there every day could easily amount to $30-40 per week. It’s much cheaper to bring a sandwich or some leftovers from dinner. Heck, even a Stouffer’s frozen dinner would save money.

8)Do you have any suggestions to other law students regarding their personal finances?

Cut back on unnecessary expenses. Do you really need to buy a new car with your summer associate earnings? Do you need the latest and greatest cell phone? Heck, do you need a cell phone at all? I’ve lived without one just fine. What about cable TV? Try Netflix or something instead. And look for casebooks on Amazon or ask to borrow them from a friend. That can save a couple hundred bucks a semester, if you’re lucky.

Thanks, Andrew for taking the time to answer these questions! Stop by Legal Andrew today and look around his site. You’re sure to find something useful and informative.

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[tags] Legal Andrew, law school, debt, saving, frugal[/tags]

Carnival of Personal Finance #100 up at My Open Wallet

Written by Brett McKay

This week’s carnival of personal finance is being hosted by Madame X at My Open Wallet. Madame X was kind enough to include my post on 3 Ways to Save on Your Personal Printer. Thanks My Open Wallet! Go by and check out this week’s submissions. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are a few of my favorites from this week’s carnival:

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[tags] personal finance, frugal, blog carnivals[/tags]

5 Ways to Use Your Old Credit Cards

Written by Brett McKay

credit-cards_69.jpg

One of the fist steps of getting rid of your debt is getting rid of your credit cards. However, instead of just cutting them up immediately, extend your old credit cards’ uses.

  1. Ice Scraper. If you don’t have an ice scraper on hand, try using your credit card. This will probably only work if you just have a light frost on your wind shield.
  2. Door key. If you accidental lock yourself out, press the latch into door by sliding your old credit card between the door and the frame. If the bevel faces the other way, cut the card into an L-shape, insert, and pull toward you. WikiHow has an entry on how to do this. [via Lifehacker].
  3. Guitar Pick. Can’t find your pick? Use the corner of a credit card instead.
  4. Manicure tool. Clean your finger nails with a credit card.
  5. Ruler. When I read, I underline. To make sure my lines are straight, I use my old credit card like a ruler.

What other useful things can you do with an old credit card? Drop me a line.

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[tags]credit cards, tips, money[/tags]