Tag: Stress

 

How to Make Your Life Work with Two Jobs

We talk a lot about saving money, but there’s another big way to improve your personal finances: Make more money. Working a second job can be a good way to do that, and a new study finds workers with two jobs perform just as well as colleagues with one job.

But moonlighting comes at the expense of personal and family time, the study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology finds. The study, led by Brian Webster, an assistant professor of management at Ball State University, looked at the job performance and engagement of a sample of bartenders and teachers who moonlighted in a range of jobs.

Webster believes successful moonlighters understand their employers expect them to be focused at work.

“There seems to be that recognition that if I’m at work and I’m doing this, I’m going to perform adequately,” he said.

If people can’t perform, they leave. Webster noted the study didn’t look at people who used to moonlight, but stopped.

This is good news for employers, who can count on their workers being focused, but that extra time and energy has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere tends to be family, the study finds. Only about 4.9% of workers have multiple jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but over the course of a lifetime, many people could find themselves moonlighting, Webster said.

So how can moonlighters find a healthy balance?

How moonlighting affects you

People moonlight for two reasons, Webster said: To make more money or to do something they enjoy, like an accountant teaching a class on weekends. Warren Robbins, senior sales associate for Policygenius, found himself needing to do the former in 2015, when he took a job as a bartender while working full-time at a health insurance company.

Robbins had just learned his partner, now his wife, was pregnant. The pregnancy wasn’t planned, and the two decided they needed more money.

His solution was to take a second job. Robbins worked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at his day job and took on two overnight shifts at a bar, from Saturday night into Sunday and Sunday night into Monday at 4 a.m.

“My sleep schedule was all messed up,” he said.

The beginning of the week was tough, Robbins said. He would sleep all day Sunday after getting off work early that morning, work a night shift at the bar and then get to the office on maybe four hours of sleep.

His focus and drive at work suffered. So did his personal life.

“It was tough,” Robbins said. “I never saw my wife, and if I did, it was after work on a weekday. We never got to spend quality time.”

The only moments he could take for himself were during closing time, when he would pour himself a Guinness, lock the door and count the money as the sun rose.

How to find balance

Moonlighting can be stressful, but there are ways to make it better, said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. The first is to get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your mental and physical health, he said.

Also, take time each day to rest and recharge to relieve any stress from work.

“It’s free to sit back for 15 minutes and just rest,” Gionfriddo said. “It’s free to spend 20 minutes and take a walk.”

Find even a short amount of time for something you want to do, whether it’s family or a hobby, as a break from people telling you what to do, he said. If work becomes life and life becomes work, you can lose sight of who you are and who you want to be.

It’s important to be able to say why you’re working so hard, whether it’s to save for a trip, or support your family or retire early, he said.

“If you lose purpose in what you’re doing, then you’re in a real downward spiral that can lead to some real serious mental health problems,” Gionfriddo said.

You may not notice the signs of a problem, he said. You don’t necessarily have to feel suicidal to be clinically depressed.

If you feel excessively tired, or your eating habits suffer, those could be signs your mental health is suffering, Gionfriddo said.

“A lot of these things happen on a continuum,” he said. “It’s not that one day I have depression and the day before I didn’t.”

The Mental Health America website has free and anonymous screening toolsthat can tell you whether it’s likely you have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. The tools also offer more information on mental health conditions, referrals to services, self-help tools and engagement with other people who may have the same condition.

If you do have a diagnosable condition, the law offers protections against being fired or disciplined for that condition, Gionfriddo said.

“There’s no shame in having a mental health condition or concern, even a diagnosed one,” he said. “In fact, the sooner you seek help for it if you think you need help, the quicker your recovery and the more likely your recovery is going to be.”

Before moonlighting, you may want to talk to your boss to see if your current schedule can bend enough to take on a second job, Webster said, or try to find a second job flexible enough that it won’t strain your existing schedule too much. You may also want to look for a second job that complements your existing job.

“If you enjoy what you do, the two jobs might benefit or contribute to each other in some way,” he said.

Robbins only moonlighted for three months. The birth of his son made his second job impossible. He wouldn’t moonlight again, given the choice.

“It was this period where you would get revived just to get depleted again,” he said. “I would never do that again.”

A second job isn’t the only way to boost your savings. Try making these small changes.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online.


This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com.

 

Hygge Hacks for Healthy Finances

Have you ever heard of hygge?

The concept of hygge has been around for centuries, but it has recently resurfaced as a popular lifestyle trend. In fact, the word hygge was on the short-list for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016.

So, what does hygge mean? While it can’t be directly translated into English, this well-known word in Denmark loosely means “coziness.” It’s the practice of slowing down and prioritizing time spent with the ones you care about and doing more of the things you love the most. Incorporating hygge into your life can help you find more joy, but it can also improve your finances.

Read on to learn more about how practicing hygge can help you can spend less, save more, and prioritize your financial future.

Does hygge lead to happiness?

Hygge is a Danish concept (pronounced hoo-ga). According to Visit Denmark’s website, hygge is described as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” Visit Denmark goes on to say: “The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cozying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.”

And they must be onto something. Denmark has been named one of the happiest countries in the world for the last four years, according to studies done by the World Happiness report.

So, it certainly doesn’t hurt to incorporate some hygge into your daily life.

What does hygge have to do with your finances?

The concept of hygge means trying to find joy in the little things in life – and usually those things are cheap or even free.

You don’t need a fancy lifestyle in order to be happy. You don’t need an enormous house, expensive cars, or luxury vacations to find joy or peace. You can find hygge by slowing down, taking in the moment, and spending more time doing the things you truly love.

How to embrace the concept of hygge this year

There are dozens of ways you can incorporate hygge into your life – for free. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Stay in instead of going out

You can have just as much fun spending an evening at home as you can going out to a fancy and expensive restaurant. So, try having a hygge-ful evening by lighting the fireplace, baking some cookies and reading a book.

By staying in, you won’t just sneak in your fill of hygge, but you could save a good chunk of change simply by not going out on the town.

  • Give hygge-related gifts

Gifts can not only be expensive, but can often be forgotten after a year or two. Maybe it’s time for you to give the folks you care about the gift of hygge.

Gifts like candles, cozy socks, books, and gourmet coffee make great gifts and these presents also give the gift of well, presence. These gifts won’t break your budget and your loved ones will also get the chance to incorporate hygge into their lives.

  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal

What could be more hygge than a home-cooked meal? By cooking at home more often, you’ll get to regularly enjoy the benefits of hygge.

Not only can you eat dinner in your favorite and most comfortable clothing, but you can create a warm and inviting ambiance by lighting candles and dimming the lights. As if this isn’t enough, you’ll save a boatload of cash.

So, instead of going out, invite your friends and family over for a home-cooked meal. Or, lower the cost and increase the hygge even more by hosting a potluck, where everyone can bring over their favorite, home-cooked dishes to share.

  • Decorate with frugal, hygge decor

With winter just around the corner, now is the perfect time to invoke a sense of coziness in your home and practice hygge while you’re at it. Fortunately, home decor doesn’t have to be pricey – there are plenty of frugal ways to liven up your home.

You can decorate with candles, family photos and plants. From there, get creative. These items are easy to find, don’t cost much money, and up the hygge level of your home.

Prioritize time with family and friends

The bottom line: the idea behind hygge is to spend time doing more of the things that are truly important to you.

As you can see by the examples here, you don’t have to plan extravagant get-togethers or even leave the house in order to enjoy time with your loved ones. In fact, most people can claim that the best memories spent with family or friends are the times spent just sitting around, catching up at home.

Now it’s your turn to up your hygge ante. So, invite guests over, crack open a bottle, and enjoy shared plates around the fireplace this winter. By doing so, you’ll save money while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

 

6 Tips for Paying Off Debt on a Small Income

If you aren’t earning a lot of money or you’re barely making ends meet, paying off your debt may seem impossible.

People fall into debt for a variety of reasons. Regardless of whether you have mounting credit card bills from past financial mistakes, student loans, medical bills, or something else, debt can feel all-consuming and completely overwhelming. Yet, did you know that it’s possible to pay off every last penny you owe? It’s not always easy, but with some determination and dedication, you can pay off your debt, save more money, and improve your entire financial situation.

Here are 6 tips for paying off debt when you have a small income.

1. Create an emergency fund first

While you may be eager to jump right in and start tackling your debt, if you don’t have an emergency fund, this should be your first goal.

Without an emergency fund or financial buffer, any unexpected costs can derail your debt repayment process. Maybe your car breaks down and needs repairs, or you had a larger heating bill than you budgeted for. Whatever the case, when emergencies come up, you need money – and fast.

So, start an emergency fund now with a separate savings account. This way you aren’t tempted to use it for your day-to-day spending. If this feels overwhelming, start small. Even $500 saved up can help you out in a stressful financial situation.

2. Develop a “minimum needs” budget

A “minimum needs” budget is a budget that covers just your most basic living expenses, such as rent, groceries, and debt-repayment. It should be pretty bare-bones and should eliminate all non-essential spending.

To start your budget, you first need to determine the cost of your everyday living expenses.

These are bills you can’t cut out – bills that need to be paid every single month, like rent, groceries, and utilities.

As you create your budget, see if there is any way you can work to lower your bills. For instance, if you have an extra bedroom, can you find a roommate to save money on rent or your mortgage? Can you lower your grocery budget by clipping coupons and signing up for your grocery store’s rewards program? Perhaps you can consider cutting out cable to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year. Every little bit helps. The point of a minimum needs budget is to free up as much cash as you can. Every dollar you have to spare can be put towards paying down your debt.

To help you get going, start budgeting on a spreadsheet or use a budget app. And remember: no matter how you choose to track your money, the most important thing is to set a budget and stick to it.

3. Consider refinancing

If you have debt, it’s a good idea to find out if you can save money by refinancing your loans.

Refinancing your debt essentially means another company buys out your debt. In return, you start making payments to your new debt servicer, and this new company then collects your interest payments.

Refinancing companies typically offer you a lower interest rate to gain your business. This helps you because over time, you won’t have to pay nearly as much money in interest and can make a bigger dent in your principal loan balance.

Take it from me: it’s worthwhile to do your research and refinance if possible. A few years back, my husband and I refinanced some of our student loans and now pay a two percent lower interest rate than we were originally paying. This is saving us thousands of dollars in the long-run.

4. Set goals and find accountability

You can’t succeed on your own. Without solid goals and accountability, you’re much less likely to ever become debt-free.

In fact, in a study done by psychology professor Gail Matthews of Dominican University, it was found that sharing your goals with a friend is the key to accomplishing your goals. In her study, Matthews found that people who both wrote down their goals and had an accountability partner had a 76 percent success rate of accomplishing their goals. In comparison, there was another group in the study which was instructed to only think about individual goals. Only 43 percent of those people accomplished their goals.

So, practice writing down goals following the SMART method. With this method, your goals meet the following criteria – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Once you’ve developed your SMART goals, share them with a friend or two. Ask a trusted friend or family member to check in with you and hold you accountable.

5. Focus on increasing your income

Cutting back on your spending certainly helps you pay off debt faster. But unfortunately, there is only so much you can cut out.

The secret to paying off debt quickly is to trim your expenses and increase your income at the same time. Then, use your freed up cash to throw extra payments towards your debt. There are thousands of ways you can increase your income. For you, maybe that means finding a higher paying 9 to 5 job. Or, you can start side hustling to earn a few extra hundred dollars each month. These are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Drive for Uber or Lyft
  • Babysit on the weekends
  • Start blogging or freelance writing
  • Have a garage sale
  • Mow laws
  • Pick up part-time or seasonal work

Once you start earning more money, put the entire amount of extra cash towards your debt. You’d be amazed at how much faster you can progress when you can put $100, $500, or even an extra $1,000 a month towards your debt.

6. Give yourself a guilt-free allowance

Even if you’re taking all the right steps, it can take years to pay off debt. In order to stay in the debt-repayment game for the long-haul, it’s imperative that you give yourself a little break once in a while.

The idea here is to give yourself a small, guilt-free allowance each month. Because it’s already in your budget, this is money you can freely spend without feeling regretful. The concept of a financial allowance is a lot like dieting. People are more successful when they allow themselves a rest day and a cheat meal once a week. It keeps them from feeling deprived and prevents large, impulsive purchases later.

So, factor a little free spending into your budget. Whether you give yourself $15 a month to go to the movies or $30 for a night out with friends, the choice is yours to enjoy…guilt-free of course.

Improving your financial situation

Paying off debt isn’t easy, especially on a small income. But with grit, hard work, and a whole lot of commitment, it is possible to live a life free from the burden of debt. Are you ready to follow these 6 steps and get started?

 

Biggest Financial Regrets Across America

For three years in a row, American adults have the same top financial regret. A May 2018 survey from Bankrate looks at the top financial regrets among Americans and how they deal with those financial regrets. By looking at the most common regrets, we know where we can best focus our future efforts on our investments, bank accounts, and beyond.

The top financial regrets of Americans

The number one financial regret among Americans is not saving for retirement early enough. This financial regret claims the top spot for the third year in a row in Bankrate’s annual Financial Security Index survey. This answer was number one for 18% of respondents.

Number two on the list is not saving enough for emergency expenses, with 14% of respondents most regretful about this. For workers in any profession, an emergency fund is an important part of maintaining financial stability. For freelancers and entrepreneurs, it is best to save at least six to 12 months of expenses in emergency savings.

The third most common regret is taking on too much credit card debt, with 10% of responses marking this as number one. This is no surprise, as Americans have over $1 trillion in credit card debt. The average household holds $8,600 in credit card debt.

Number four on the list is taking on too much student loan debt, a top regret for 8% of respondents. Americans have nearly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. 44.2 million Americans have student loans, according to Student Loan Hero data.

The fifth most common financial regret is not saving enough for a child’s education, coming in with 7%. Both number four and five on this list share a commonality: they relate to a high cost of college. Number one and number five also have a big common trait: they both involve savings. These two topics are an important part of Americans’ biggest financial struggles.

Last on the top financial regrets list is buying more house than you can afford, with two percent of respondents choosing this answer. Like college, housing costs generally go up, up, up over time. In some areas, buying even a modest home takes up a huge portion of take-home pay.

Here is the full results care of Bankrate:

Biggest financial regrets
via Bankrate

How Americans respond to financial regrets

The list of common financial regrets does not yield many surprises to those who follow economic news, but how people respond to their biggest regrets is a bit more interesting. A full 25% have no plans to deal with their biggest financial regret and continue to go on living with it.

Dealing with financial regrets
via Bankrate

A nice relief, however, comes from the 49% who are already working on addressing their biggest financial regret. Whether it is debt, savings, or something else, a good budget and focus on finances can help overcome most money challenges.

While better than the quarter of Americans with no plans to address financial regrets, 19% plan to start work on their money problems within a year while six percent plan to do so later on in the future.

Only with a long-term focus on your finances can you rise above the statistics and go forward with no money regrets. While most of us would want to be wealthy someday, it takes a real effort to turn that dream into a reality.

Avoiding the biggest financial regrets

The best way to avoid many common financial regrets is simple: avoid going into debt. While it may not seem like a big deal swiping a credit card for a TV or choosing the expensive out-of-state school, credit card debt and student loan debt payments are a very real.

The next major focus to avoid a big regret is to save. Start with even $1 per week. No amount is too small. You can always increase it later. But if you don’t start saving, you will never build up savings to pay for a home, education, or retirement.

Thanks to the time value of money, the sooner you save, the better. Compound interest and compound investment values help your money grow over time. If your money has more time to grow, the impact of that growth is exponentially helpful.

Live a life free of financial regrets

Recovering from financial regrets is very difficult. Rather than turn around a difficult situation, avoid it from the start. That is one of the best paths to lifestyle satisfaction and a life free of financial strain and worry.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

How to Avoid Regrets About How You Spend Your Money

How you spend your money is a loaded subject. Nearly half of Americans deem finances a hard subject to address with others. They rate it more difficult to navigate than politics or religion. Sixty-eight percentwould rather disclose their weight than talk about finances. More than 40 percent don’t even broach the subject with the person they marry before entering into holy matrimony. Even to yourself, how y0u spend your money is a topic you most likely avoid thinking about.

However, treating money as a taboo subject hurts people. Families tend to feel chronically anxious due to a lack of clear conversations about money. Many times, with little discussion about goals and expectations, people end up following some financial gurus’ guidelines to the letter. This can actually be damaging to their personal finances. Plus, it can make them feel like “financial sinners” for making different choices. That”s why it’s time to think differently about how you spend your money.

Rules About How You Spend Your Money Can Lead to Regret

James Lenhoff, CFP, the president of Wealthquest and the author of “Living a Rich Life,” has seen dozens of clients who’ve accumulated a lot of money in their later years — and a lot of regrets. “Many of them get to a stage where they realize they didn’t create many memories with their money,” Lenhoff says. “They’re watching their kids have families and regretting all the things they didn’t do — they’re seeing the breaks or weaknesses in the logic.”

These clients often see their own kids are reluctant to take vacation time or splurge on a family excursion, yet many of these behaviors have been “inherited.” However, it’s hard to lay all the blame at their feet in a society that champions short-term “good” feelings over long-term satisfaction. “Society reinforces this mistake of thinking that status symbols and things are worth more, encouraging us to buy the bigger house, the newer car. The messaging is all geared toward making us feel better about ourselves,” Lenhoff explains. “In the end, we all want experiences, but society has confused us into thinking products areexperiences.”

In order to combat that messaging, most personal finance books give us rules to follow that keep us from splurging. But, it’s a Catch-22 because the money “rules” teaches us to grit our teeth and “do the right thing.” This is always assumed to mean saving more. “There’s an assumption among some financial experts that we need to treat people like children, give them harsh black-and-white boundaries,” Lenhoff says. “Like kids, they develop a sense of shame for disappointing Mom and Dad. The behavior is so deeply ingrained that even when they have saved enough, they are paralyzed by the ‘rules,’ and they can’t let go and use some of their money to enjoy themselves.”

Forces That Impact How You Spend Your Money

These two forces are always fighting within us. That means many people end up being filled with money-driven regret for one of two reasons. First, they spent their money on products, which didn’t fulfill them. Second, they hoarded their money, waiting for the right time to spend it.

However, they could never relax enough to do so when it was time. The good news is that those outcomes aren’t inevitable. There are steps you can take to avoid financial regret.

As Lenhoff says, “Nobody lived beyond their means because they couldn’t do math; they were emotionally motivated to do something.” He recommends that younger savers and spenders approach their relationship to money in a way that may be antithetical to the “rules.”

Find out where you stand

Because of the taboos surrounding money discussions, most people don’t actually know where they fall on the financial spectrum. Are they in a healthy position or not? Many couples, Lenhoff explains, contain a “Go” and a “Whoa”: The “Whoa” is the self-controlled saver, while the “Go” is the free-spirited spender. “Go” assumes they’re fine, but “Whoa” assumes they’re not. The problem is that neither one really knows who is right.

To overcome this, you must have a clear-headed conversation to lay out what you have and where you’re going. What does it take to make your life work right now? And, what are your non-negotiable goals for your family? A financial planner can help you outline how far ahead or behind you are on hitting those targets. Then, once you’re confident that you’re saving what you need to save each month to fund your goals, you can spend the rest as you like.

Don’t be fooled by others’ exteriors

In a world where we’re constantly cajoled to keep up with the Joneses, people often look around and feel their neighbors, friends, and family members are doing better.

But, the secrecy surrounding money — and the prevalence of living on credit cards — has erroneously led us to assume others are killing it. In reality, they could simply be swimming in debt. Don’t make decisions on how you spend your money based on how well you believe others are doing.

Use your net worth as your golden rule

Many people are overly focused on their income as a measure of progress. However, your income doesn’t matter if you aren’t using it to grow your net worth. If your net worth didn’t go up last year, that’s a problem no matter how much income you had. Your net worth changes only through saving or paying down debt.

You should be doing both. Don’t focus so much on paying down low-cost debt that you miss opportunities to save for future goals. Make sure you’re using your income to grow your assets over time. A growing net worth is the clearest indication of financial health.

Avoid budgets

Budgets are very restrictive, and they start from made-up numbers. Lenhoff says, “Most people approach budgets with ‘What can I squeeze myself into?’ They should start with ‘What’s my current reality?’” Just because you could eat freeze-dried Ramen for six months doesn’t mean it’s likely you will.

And, a shoestring budget that’s a far cry from your usual existence will feel overly prohibitive. Also, it’s impossible to stick to. Instead, create a spending plan that focuses on how you’ll spend your money rather than on how you’ll avoid spending your money. Acknowledge that you will be spending money so you can plan to spend it wisely.

Think not just about how the money will serve you in the future

There’s truth in the saying, “You can’t take it with you.” Therefore, you need to celebrate milestones along the route to your biggest goals. Enjoying the money you’ve earned while meeting your financial obligations and saving for your long-term goals shouldn’t be considered taboo but smart. It’s giving you pleasure now and later. This is what money that exceeds your necessities is intended to do.

While money may often be treated like a dirty secret, it doesn’t have to be a source of pain and regret. By shifting your mindset about how you spend your money now, you can ensure you use it in a way that brings you peace today and security tomorrow.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

Money Stress Is an American Problem; Here’s How to Fix That

Americans are stressed out about money.

The statistics about Americans and money aren’t great in most cases; in 2015, 76% of CFP’s said that their clients number one financial stressors was healthcare costs. A 2016 survey of Baby Boomers revealed that 60% fear running out of money in retirement. And 30% of adults in the US feel stressed about money constantly.

Money is supposed to be a tool. But when you don’t understand it, or earn enough of it, it gets to feeling stressful really quickly.

If you’re feeling stressed out about money, here are a few ways to calm down and sort the situation out.

Take a Deep Breath

When you’re beginning to feel that money stress get out of control, take a deep breath. Stress is physically unhealthy for us and it keeps us from being really productive. Before you can do anything else, you need to take care of yourself.

Figure Out Your Numbers

Numbers always tell the truth. Sometimes it might be difficult to hear that truth, but it’s always the first step.

You can start by listing out all your monthly expenses and categorizing them into needs and wants. This helps you see where you can cut back, if you can cut back at all. Second, do the same thing with your debts; list them out so that you know what you owe and where to send it.

Knowing your numbers gives you the power to change them. Whatever your next move is, reduce your money stress with figuring out the numbers.

Learn About Money

Learning and reading about money is a great way to demystify it. If something feels foreign to you it’s probably going to stress you out more than the thing that feels familiar. Money stress will go away over time as you learn more about money.

You can read blogs and books about money. Start listening to money podcasts. You can talk to friends and family about how they manage their money. There are a lot of options to learn about money once you start looking. Here’s a list of three books about money to kickstart your journey.

Start Small

Taking one step today and one step tomorrow is the way to go. Don’t try and climb your money mountain all at once. Small things become big things, and time can be your friend.

For example, something you’ll hear a lot in the personal finance world is that you need to have an emergency fund with 6 months living expenses saved in it. That can take months, if not years to save! But starting off my saving $50 a month is great- it lays the groundwork for your emergency fund and introduces the habit of saving.


This article originally appeared on Due.com.

 

3 Ways to Prepare for Student Loan Payments

The time has come. College grads are about to walk into the real world.

If you fall into this group, this also means it may be time to start paying back your student loans. According to Student Loan Hero, 71 percent of 2017 graduates carried student loan debt.

And, monthly student loan payments are typically between $200 to $300 a month. That’s a lot to swallow, especially if you won’t be earning much at your first job.

To help you tackle your student loan payments, it’s important that you first understand your repayment options, including the ins and outs of grace periods. Take a look at our primer on preparing to pay down your debt.

Understand your “grace period”

First things first: What is a grace period?

A grace period gives you a period of time after you graduate during which you do not need to make payments. When this timeframe ends, you’re on the hook to start making payments. If you don’t have a grace period, your payments start kicking in immediately.

“The first thing recent grads should do is see if they even have a grace period,” says Adam S. Minsky, an attorney specializing in helping student loan borrowers.

While most undergrad loans do have some sort of grace period, Minsky says the length of time can vary depending on the type of loan you received. For example, direct subsidized government loans have a grace period of six months, whereas The Federal Perkins Loan Program has a nine month grace period.

Got multiple student loans that you’re thinking of consolidating? If you really need a window of time to prepare become making payments, be aware that consolidating loans can make that grace period go away. Yet, there is a way around this caveat: make sure you put a grace period “delay” on your application. This will alert the servicer not to process the loan consolidation application until the end of your grace period, says Minsky.

Weigh your repayment options

Did you know that as a borrower you can choose different options for paying back your loans?

In the case of federal loans, you have seven different repayment options to choose from, depending on your eligibility. These repayment plans determine how much you pay, when you pay, and how long it will take you to completely pay off your loans.

Typically, if you do not request a repayment option, you’ll automatically be placed in the Standard Repayment plan. Under this plan, your monthly payments are fixed and spread out over 10 years. However, there are several other plans that may work better for you.

For example, you may qualify for an Income Driven Repayment Plan, whereby payments would comprise 10 percent of your discretionary income. In order to start the process and be considered, you must first fill out the application on the StudentAid.gov site. Another option is the Graduated Repayment Plan. For this option, your monthly payments start out on the low end and increase over time. Only certain types of federal loans are eligible for this plan. You can find out whether or not you are eligible by visiting StudentAid.gov. To figure out which repayment option is best for you, you can also run the numbers via calculators provided by StudentLoans.gov and StudentAid.ed.gov.

Some types of borrowers – particularly those with government jobs or those employed by a non-profit – can enroll in a repayment program under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). This program forgives the balance on Direct Loans after you make 120 qualifying payments.

The earlier you start making qualifying payments, the sooner you’ll reach the requirements needed for forgiveness. Just be aware: any payments you make during a grace period don’t count, so you’ll have to forgo the grace period by immediately enrolling in a repayment program, according to Minsky.

Start making payments ASAP

Let’s say you landed a job right out of college. If this is the case, you’ve got some money coming in and you may want to start paying back your student loans during your grace period.

“Since 2012, there’s no interest subsidy for most federal loans during the grace period, so you can save money long-term by paying something towards your student loans during this time,” says Minsky.

Even if you don’t have a full-time job lined up, you can still start paying back your loans immediately. Perhaps you can get a part-time job while you’re hunting for a job in your field. Or, you can start a side hustle and take advantage of the gig economy.

You can also sit down and create a budget incorporating your student loan payments.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the more you understand your student loan repayment options, the better off you’ll be. So, make sure you educate yourself on the types of loans you have and your applicable grace periods. From there, you can create a plan to pay back your loans. Once you wrap your mind around this and budget for your payments, you can start saving for your other goals.

 

Gender Pay Gap: What Jobs Really Offer Equal Pay?

Most logical people would argue that two people doing the same job should earn equal pay, but we know that is not always the case. In many roles at many companies, women are paid less than men for doing the exact same thing, which is known as the gender pay gap. While we know this is wrong, a number of professions actually do offer gender pay equality. If you want to know what jobs have successfully removed the gender pay gap, follow along to learn more.

How bad is the gender pay gap?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, on average, women make 83 percent of what men do across all industries. The worst profession for women is in the legal industry, where women make a little over half of what men earn. Sales, security, production, and personal care professions all offer women 25 percent of what men earn, or worse.

In fact, according to the 2016 report (based on 2014 data), there was no industry where women made as much as men for the same job. The best was construction and extraction related jobs, which offer women 91.3 cents for every dollar male counterparts bring in.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Researchers are working on understanding causes of the gender pay gap and identifying solutions. But in the meantime, there are some great opportunities out there where women do get their fair share, according to BLS data from 2016.

Industries with equal gender pay

The 2016 BLS study found that on average, women make 82 percent of what men do on average. But a few jobs stood out where women make equal or more than their male counterparts. Women workers for the win! Here is a list of professions where women can expect equal pay, with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Occupation Women’s earnings compared to men’s
Sewing machine operators 111%
Combined food preparation and serving workers 106
Teacher assistants 105
Counselors 102
Transportation, storage, and distribution managers 100
Stock clerks and order fillers 99
Physical therapists 97
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks 97
Receptionists and information clerks 97
Advertising sales agents 97

While these jobs may not all be the most desired in the world, there are some great professions on here with solid earning potential. For example, the average physical therapist makes $85,400 per year (2016 BLS data). That is a great income level no matter your gender. If you are trying to overcome a gender wage gap, the small 3 percent gap isn’t a huge hurdle to overcome.

Combat the gender pay gap in your business

If you are a male and lead an organization, do your part to promote gender pay equality. You have access to all data and have the power to instantly solve the gender pay gap in your business. Of course, that does come with some costs. But these are costs that should have been happening all along! If you already offer fair and equal pay among your employees, kudos. You are doing the right thing.

If you really want to make a difference as a man in business, start a business and ensure fair pay practices across genders. If you are a woman, consider starting your own business, as women-owned businesses are often quite successful! And if you are not a business owner, be an outspoken advocate for equality in the workplace. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this problem won’t be solved in one. But with a long-term focus on fixing the gender pay gap, a solution is attainable.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

Financial Infidelity: Do You Keep Money Secrets from Your Spouse?

Financial infidelity means keeping a money secret from your spouse. With a divorce rate today of about 50 percent, any form of infidelity could easily lead to a relationship breakdown. And while a little white lie about money may seem like no big deal, but financial infidelity is as serious as any relationship secret. Let’s take a look at how money and relationships intersect and what you can do to make your relationship as open, honest, and fair as possible with a focus on long-term relationship success.

Is financial infidelity a big problem?

Before we dive into how to solve money troubles with a significant other, it is important to understand the problem. If you fight with your significant other about money, you are not alone. A study last year found that 48 percent of American couples argue about finances. That is huge! Nearly half of all couples argue about money.

study from SunTrust found that money is the leading cause of relationship stress. The survey found that 1 in 5 Americans has made a purchase of $500 or more secretly without telling their spouse. Six percent of respondents go as far as to keep a secret bank account! If you don’t trust your spouse so much that you need to secretly keep money without their knowledge, you probably have bigger relationship and trust issues than just money, but money is clearly the big symptom of the discord.

How to avoid money fights in a relationship

There are a few specific personality traits and money disagreements that tend to percolate to the top. According to Elite Daily, here are the four biggest causes of money friction in a relationship:

  1. Spending versus saving – If you have a saver mentality and are dating or married to a spender, you know how frustrating it can be when your SO (significant other) splurges on even the smallest purchases. From a daily lunch at the local burrito or sandwich shop to a big dollar purchase online or at the store, watching money fly out the window can push you to the edge! If this is an issue in your relationship, consider the other’s perspective and try to calmly explain yours. Finding middle ground and creating fun money budgets for each half of the couple can help smooth things out.
  2. Expectations that one partner pays more – The battle over who pays goes far beyond the first date. Even long-time couples often have different views on who should be bringing what to the table. In many cases, the male is expected to pay for the majority of costs, even if both partners have similar earnings. There is no right or wrong way to approach this. Open communication and setting clear expectations can help avoid this little argument turning into a blowout.
  3. One partner earns a lot more – If you earn a lot more than your partner, or they earn a lot more than you, stress and double standards are probably not far behind. It is easy for the lower earner to expect the higher earner to pay more. But when income in a relationship is not distributed equally or distributed as earned, it can lead to resentment.
  4. Wants versus needs – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One partner’s need is another partner’s frivolous purchase. What one of you thinks is a need versus a want may differ. It is okay to have different values, as long as they don’t bust the budget. This is where a fun money budget comes into play. If you have a certain amount to spend guilt-free, you don’t have to fight over it.

Set shared goals but allow for individual freedom

In real life, things don’t always look like a movie. After the honeymoon period wears off, real-life goals, stresses, and obligations remain. Never go into a relationship expecting your partner to change. If you don’t like their money habits, it may be better to cut things off from the start. (Credit score dating anyone?)

When you do get into a serious relationship, you have many money questions ahead. As you tackle them one by one, remember that it isn’t reasonable to expect your SO to never spend money. Even if you are the primary income earner with a stay-at-home spouse, you have to expect that they will want to treat themselves every once in a while. And that’s just fine!

To find the right balance between family savings, shared fun money, and individual fun money, work together to create a good budget you can stick with over time. Tweak as necessary until you have it right and both of you are on board with the plan.

Work together for a financial infidelity free lifestyle

Just as you wouldn’t want to find out your significant other had a secret relationship on the side, it can be devastating to land on the wrong end of financial infidelity. If you are keeping financial secrets, it’s time to change that and move to an open and honest relationship with clear, trusted communication about money. If you suspect your spouse is cheating with money, consider confronting them for an honest discussion. Long-term financial success requires an effort on both sides, and with honesty and a team driven focus on your money goals, you can get on track for a long and happy financial future together.


This article originally appeared on Due.com

 

Easy Ways to Stretch Your Household Budget (Without Sacrificing Convenience)

It’s no secret that stretching your family budget can go a long way.

Yet, when you think about cutting expenses, you may dread the thought of giving up lattes, foregoing dining out to eat at home, and negotiating lower rates for your Internet service. More importantly, cutting out your favorite things may not work long-term.

So, we’ve come up with other ways to save money. Check out these 6 ways to stretch your household budget.

Grocery Services

Buying groceries online is convenient and can also save you money.

For starters, when you shop for food online, you won’t have to deal with the temptation of walking through the store and picking up items that weren’t on your list. Plus, as you add food items to your virtual cart, you’ll see your total charges increasing – instead of waiting to hear the damage report at the checkout counter. This way, you can always remove items if you know you’re spending too much.

Online grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and Google Express all have garnered great reviews, but they come with monthly fees. So, if you shop at a local Walmart, Meijer, Kroger or other regional supermarket chain, find out if your store offers a free grocery pick-up service. This way, you can order and pay for your items online. From there, you can schedule a time to go to the store and pick up your groceries curbside.

Switch Your Cell Phone Provider

If your phone bill is outrageously high each month, you don’t have to ditch your phone entirely to get it under control. It may be time to look into switching to a prepaid phone service, which is often cheaper than a contract service provider.

Republic Wireless is a prepaid company that I’ve been using for three years. Their plans start at $15 per month and come with unlimited talk and text. You can also choose how much you want to pay based on the amount of data you need on a monthly basis. Plus, you can keep your smartphone if it’s compatible or use one of Republic’s Motorola or Samsung smartphones.

Other affordable prepaid phone services include Straight Talk and Boost Mobile, both of which are compatible with iPhones. As an added bonus, Boost Mobile offers affordable family plans with unlimited data, so the whole family can stay connected.

Amazon Subscribe and Save

If you shop frequently on Amazon, you may have heard about the company’s Subscribe and Save program. It allows you to choose from thousands of products and set up recurring deliveries for these items automatically within a one to six-month time frame.

This is an ideal service to use for toiletries and household items. Plus, when you sign up to receive at least five items in one month, you’ll unlock up to 15% in savings for your merchandise – on top of Amazon’s current discounts and free shipping. To make your shopping experience more convenient, Amazon sends a reminder email days before your next shipment will go out. This way you can review everything and make any necessary changes.

Baby Reward Programs

If you’re a parent, you know how expensive it is to run a household with children.

Registering with diaper and baby product companies is a sure-fire way for you to get samples, coupons, and other freebies. For example, Huggies provides coupons and discounts on diapers via its website, while Pampers has a rewards program that allows you to earn points for purchases. You can then redeem your points for free diapers and other baby products.

If you’re looking to save on other baby items, the Honest Company has subscription bundles for diapers and wipes, as well as formula and other necessities. You can automatically order product bundles every four to six weeks and cancel at any time.

Kids on the way? You can still save! If you’re expecting, consider setting up a registry with Target. This will net you more than $50 in free items, including samples of diapers and wipes, breastfeeding storage bags, diaper rash cream, and other products from top brands like Honest and Pampers.

Online Consignment Shops

Shopping for gently-used clothing is often more affordable than going to department stores and paying full price. At the same time, shopping at thrift stores can be a time suck as it can take hours to find what you’re looking for.

This is why you may want to try out online consignment shops instead. This way, you can find the used clothing you need quickly, pay a fraction of the retail price, and have the items delivered to your door.

ThredUp is one of the top online consignment shops specializing in women’s and children’s clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories. ThredUp buys gently-used clothing and resells the merchandise on its site. So, while you’re shopping, you may also want to consider making some extra money by decluttering and selling some of your unwanted clothes.

Switch to a Bank With Lower Fees

An easy way to stretch your household budget is to check on your bank fees to see if you’re incurring any unnecessary charges.

It’s important to find a bank that offers a free checking account, free ATM withdrawals, and overdraft protection. If your current bank is costing you in fees, you can easily switch to a bank with no hidden fees and save money.

Saving Isn’t Always a Hassle

Saving money and stretching your dollars doesn’t always have to be a penny-pinching hassle.

To get a jump-start, go over your budget and identify the areas where you’re spending the most money. Then, start using some of these free tools to effortlessly cut back on your spending.

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