debt

the ultimate financial checklist to get your s#%! together

See if you can relate:

You’re in your 20s or early 30s and always manage to pay the bills on time but your savings account never seems to grow.

You can’t afford a gift for your friend’s bridal shower but always have the means to buy drinks at the bar at 2:30 in the morning.

You buy the latest and greatest Mac but have no emergency fund.

why i'm choosing not to pay off my mortgage early

Exactly 4 years ago around this time at the ripe old age of 26, I was smack dab in the middle of house-hunting. I had been saving for a down payment for a few years and had finally hit my goal, so off I went into the world of starter homes and cute bungalows to find a house for this single gal that would be mine and all mine.  Well, mine and the bank’s.  At least for 15 years.

Luckily I didn’t have to deal with some of the house-hunting nightmares that others have had to endure, and I found a cute little place in the area I wanted for a great price.  We were still coming out of the recession so it was a buyer’s market, and with interest rates so low, I jumped at the deal.

7 tips to increase your credit score quickly (and save thousands!)

I know most of you think your credit score isn’t a sexy topic, but did you know having a crappy one could potentially cost you a year’s salary?

When I bought my home in 2013, we were just beginning the incline out of the recession that had blindsided (most of) us in 2008. It was a buyer’s market, meaning homes were priced to sell and there were a lot of the market.  On top of that, my credit score was sitting pretty in the high 700s, meaning I qualified for the lowest interest rate on my mortgage. Did I know prior to that point how much money that score saved me? Absolutely not.  But when I started crunching the numbers on my house situation, I soon found it.

how to cut your student loan payment in half

Guess which generation has been burdened with the most student loan debt in history? Yep, we millennials.  And it’s not getting any better.

We owe $1.3 trillion in student loans alone (and that’s not even getting into auto or credit card debt) with an average balance of $28,400 per borrower.  60% of all students who graduate college do so with student loans to repay.  And 11.8% of us are defaulting on those loans[1] (which, by the way, you have to repay no matter what – bankruptcy can’t even get you out of those). Even for those of us blessed with graduating without any, we see the strain on the people we date, our best friends, our family members and feel the pressure to save for the ungodly amount our children will undoubtedly need. How’s that for a positive outlook?

credit cards: the good, the bad, and the best one for you

Time warp back to 2009, and you’ll find yours truly, a recent college grad ready to take on one of the scariest financial plunges for any young 20-something:  opening a credit card.  I had heard of all the risks, and while scared beyond reason that I would forget to pay one month and a) be penalized with extremely high interest and b) ruin my credit, I still signed up because I thought I needed it to build credit.  I began by using it only for gas, but after a law was enacted in 2011 that caused most companies to end their debit card rewards programs, I started paying for most of my expenses with my credit card.  Hey, if I was going to be spending the money anyways, I might as well earn a little cash back on it, right?

If you’re a listener to the popular finance guru Dave Ramsey, you’d know that he would probably call me an idiot for doing so. Per his philosophy, credit cards are the root of all evil, causing you to spend more and pay ridiculous amounts of interest if you aren’t responsible with them.  And for that, he’s got a point: