Advertising
Advertising

7 Tips For Taking Out Student Loans Right

7 Tips For Taking Out Student Loans Right

One of the hot debates in recent years has been over the true value of a college degree. It still remains the most viable way to have a good career with decent compensation, but the rising cost of college tuition has put the cost–benefit question to the forefront.

Students these days are leaving college with a mountain of debt. Student debt is now estimated at over one trillion dollars. Graduates are also heading into a tough job market to boot. Paying back student loans can be easier with some forward thinking. Here are seven tips to keep your student debt manageable:

1. Keep Debt No More Than Your First Job’s Salary

A good rule of thumb when you take out student loans is to have the total amount of debt not exceed your first year’s salary when you get into the workforce. When you decide what to major in you can develop a good idea of what a starting salary will be. Whatever you rack up in college debt should not exceed this.

Advertising

Students will eventually be working in the real world. Things like rent, car payments, food and utilities will need to be figured out as part of monthly budgets. College debt will be part of that budget. Having a debt payment you can afford will be essential in your future.

2. Choose Federal Loans Over Private Loans

Federal student loans traditionally have better rates than private ones. The loans are subsidized by the federal  government. Private loans are provided by banks, credit unions and lending institutions. Federal loans have advantages that can help with repayment.

Federal loans allow a grace period of repayment after you graduate. Private loans may not offer this. Federal loans also offer deferments if you are faced with situations that affect your ability to pay. Options like these are at the discretion of individual private lenders.

Advertising

3. Choose a Career in Public Service

Some positions in public service have incentives that assist in making student loans easier to deal with. Occupations like teachers, fire fighters, and law enforcement can be subject to these options. One example is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, made effective October 1, 2007. If you make 120 full, on-time, monthly payments to your student loan while working full time in the public service, the balance of your loan will not need to be paid.

4. Go to Community College

Many local community colleges are able to provide quality education at a lower price than private schools. This is another thing to think about when taking out student loans. If you plan on getting a four-year degree, think about going to community college for the first two years. Look at the criteria of transferring to a four-year school before enrolling.

5. Plan Your Course Load

One thing to plan for when taking out student loans is your course load. What will be your status, full time or part time? If part time, you may not be eligible for full or even only partial financial aid. If you work and go to college part time, you may be responsible for more out-of-pocket education costs than a full-time student.

Advertising

Know what courses you will be taking and when. Many majors have a course sequence where select courses are only offered in the spring or fall semesters. Make sure your course load is on track with anticipated completion dates so there are no outstanding courses you need to take to finish your program.

6. Cut Costs

For young students starting out, graduating and going into the world of work may seem far off. It’s something they may not give much thought to with college requirements taking up their present mindset. Thinking about student loans that have to be paid after completion of college doesn’t seem like a priority.

College costs are an obligation that must be repaid. It’s only after graduation that the true realization of this may hit. To minimize the size of your debt and the possible shock associated with it, cut costs during your academic career. If you are able to minimize the need for student loans it will serve you well in the future.

Advertising

7. Find Work That Works

One of the ways students have found to lessen the need for taking out large student loans is to find work. This can range from regular paid jobs to work-study programs with the school. Money made can help with expenses and even go toward tuition.

Working can be great but find something that works with your schooling. Get something that has flexible hours around class to help with scheduling for class and life. Find employers that have access to cost-effective transport.

College is still arguably the best option for securing and maintaining a successful career. But taking out student loans the smart way can help in the years ahead.

Featured photo credit: Simon Cunningham via lendingmemo.com

More by this author

7 Tips For Taking Out Student Loans Right 7 Ways To Easily Get Noticed During A Job Search Why You Can Get Any Job With Your Current Experience The Real Differences Between Short-Term Verses Long-Term Happiness 10 Questions You Should Ask When Facing A Tough Career Decision

Trending in Money

1 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 2 The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind 3 How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements? 4 The Definitive Guide to Get Out of Debt Fast (And Forever) 5 35 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

Advertising

How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

Advertising

Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

Advertising

There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

Advertising

How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Read Next