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When someone passes away leaving debts behind, you might be wondering if you have any personal liability to pay them. If you have aging parents, for instance, you may be worried about having to assume responsibility for their mortgage payments, credit cards or other debts. If youâve asked yourself, âCan I inherit debt?â the answer is typically no, even though those debts donât automatically disappear. But there are situations in which you may have to deal with a loved oneâs creditors after theyâre gone.
How Debts Are Handled When Someone Passes Away
Debts, just like assets, are considered part of a personâs estate. When that person passes away, their estate is responsible for paying any and all remaining debts. The money to pay those debts comes from the asset side of the estate.
In terms of who is responsible for making sure the estateâs debts are paid, this is typically done by an executor. An executor performs a number of duties to wrap up a personâs estate after death, including:
- Getting a copy of the deceased personâs will if they had one and filing it with the probate court
- Notifying creditors and other entities of the personâs death (for example, the Social Security Administration would need to be notified so any Social Security benefits could be stopped)
- Completing an inventory of the deceased personâs assets and their value
- Liquidating those assets as needed to pay off any debts owed by the estate
- Distributing the remaining assets to the people or organizations named in the deceased personâs will if they had one or according to inheritance laws if they did not
In terms of debt repayment, executors are required to give notice to creditors who may have a claim against the estate. Creditors are then giving a certain window of time, according to state laws, in which to make a financial claim against the estateâs assets for repayment of debts.
If a creditor doesnât follow state guidelines for making a claim, then those debts wonât be paid from the estateâs assets. But if creditors are less than reputable, they may try to come after the deceased personâs spouse, children or other family members to collect whatâs owed.
Not all assets in an estate may be used to repay debts owed by a deceased person. Any assets that already have a named beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy, a 401(k), individual retirement account, payable on death accounts or annuity, would be transferred to that beneficiary automatically.
Can I Inherit Debt From My Parents?
This is an important question to ask if your parents are carrying high amounts of debt and youâre worried about having to pay those bills when they pass away. Again, the short answer is usually no. You generally donât inherit debts belonging to someone else the way you might inherit property or other assets from them. So even if a debt collector attempts to request payment from you, thereâd be no legal obligation to pay.
The catch is that any debts left outstanding would be deducted from the estateâs assets. If your parents were substantially in debt when they passed away, repaying them from the estate may leave little or no assets for you to inherit.
But you should know that you can inherit debt that you were already legally responsible for while your parents were alive. For instance, if you cosigned a loan with them or opened a joint credit card account or line of credit, those debts are legally yours just as much as they are your parents. So, once they pass away, youâd be solely responsible for repaying them.
And itâs also important to understand what responsibility you may have for covering long-term care costs incurred by your parents while they were alive. Many states have filial responsibility laws that require children to cover nursing home bills, though they arenât always enforced. Talking to your parents about long-term care planning can help you avoid situations where you may end up with an unexpected debt to pay.
Can I Inherit Debt From My Children?
The same rules that apply to inheriting debt from parents typically apply to inheriting debts from children. Any debts remaining would be paid using assets from their state.
Otherwise, unless you cosigned for the debt, then you wouldnât be obligated to pay. On the other hand, if you cosigned private student loans, a car loan or a mortgage for your adult child who then passed away, as cosigner youâd technically have a legal responsibility to pay them. Federal student loans are an exception.
If your parents took out a PLUS loan to pay for your higher education costs and something happens to you, the Department of Education can discharge that debt due to death. And vice versa, if your parents pass away then any PLUS loans they took out on your behalf could also be discharged.
Can I Inherit Debts From My Spouse?
When marriage and money mix, the lines on inherited debt can get a little blurred. The same basic rule that applies to other situations applies here: if you cosigned or took out a joint loan or line of credit together, then youâre both equally responsible for the debt. If one of you passes away, the surviving spouse would still have to pay.
But what about debts that are in one spouseâs name only? Thatâs where itâs important to understand how living in a community property state can affect your liability for marital debts. If you live in a community property state, debts incurred after the marriage by one spouse can be treated as a shared financial obligation. So if your spouse opened up a credit card or took out a business loan, then passed away you could still be responsible for paying it. On the other hand, debts incurred by either party before the marriage wouldnât be considered community debt.
Consider Getting Help If You Need It
If a parent, spouse, sibling or other family member passes away, it can be helpful to talk to an attorney if youâre being pressured by debt collectors to pay. An attorney who understands debt collection laws and estate planning can help you determine what your responsibilities are for repaying debts and how to handle creditors.
The Bottom Line
Whether or not youâll inherit debt from your parents, child, spouse or anyone else largely hinges on whether you cosigned for that debt or live in a community property state in the case of married couples. If youâre concerned about inheriting debts, consider talking to your parents, children or spouse about how those financial obligations would be handled if they were to pass away. Likewise, you can also discuss what financial safety nets you have in place to clear any debts you may leave behind, such as life insurance.
Tips for Estate Planning
- Consider talking to a financial advisor about how to manage and pay off debts you owe or any debts you might inherit from someone else. If you donât have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesnât have to be difficult. SmartAssetâs financial advisor matching tool can help you connect with an advisor in your local area. It takes just a few minutes to get your personalized advisor recommendations online. If youâre ready, get started now.
- The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act caps the statute of limitations for unpaid debt collections at a maximum of six years, although most states specify a much shorter time frame. However, some debt collectors buy so-called zombie debts for pennies on the dollar and then â unscrupulously â try to collect on them. Hereâs how to deal with such operators.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/NiseriN, Â©iStock.com/AndreyPopov, Â©iStock.com/FatCamera
The post Can I Inherit Debt? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
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A couple years ago, I was invited to participate in a focus group. I visited in-person along with about 15 other people. For two hours, we vented all of our feelings about the ways a particular health insurance company interacts with its customer base.
At the end, we each walked out with $125. The health insurance company wanted consumer feedback on their products and customer service, and it compensated us for providing our insights.
Focus groups can be a lucrative side hustle when you break down per-hour pay. You get to be a part of a companyâs market research efforts, magnifying your opinion above those of other potential consumers.
These days, you donât have to participate in paid focus groups in person. During the pandemic and beyond, you can use online focus group platforms to earn anywhere from $20 to as much as $600 per hour.
Online Focus Groups: a Viable Side Hustle
Focus groups can pay extremely well for the amount of time you actually âwork.â They can provide surges of side hustle income all at once.
However, theyâre not likely to sustain you in lieu of traditional income. Earnings can be extremely inconsistent. First of all, you wonât qualify for every survey, as each focus group has a specific demographic itâs targeting.
Often, though not always, the highest-paying surveys also have the most exclusive demographic requirements. The company may be looking to work with construction foremen who work with specific brands of equipment, for example, or with mobile app developers who use a specific type of programming.
In addition, some consumer research companies will only allow you to participate in one focus group every six months.
Just because work is sporadic doesnât make this a bad side hustle. When the money does come in, youâre getting paid so much per hour that itâs worth setting aside 30 to 90 minutes of your time.
What You Do in a Paid Focus Group
Most focus groups require between 30 minutes and 90 minutes of work. When youâre doing a focus group remotely, you may be asked to fill out a multiple choice survey. Most of the time, though, youâll complete a phone or Zoom interview with a live person.
Topics for focus groups are unlimited: You could find yourself answering questions about your favorite margarita recipe, how youâre coping with pandemic parenting or a survey related to your profession.
Some focus groups may require you to dedicate some time outside the interview itself. For example, you might have to give a specific product a test run or keep a journal of your experiences. This extra time is often accounted for in the compensation.
Where to Find Online Focus Group Jobs
All of the following focus group companies currently have online opportunities. In the past, many national opportunities could be completed remotely. But during the pandemic, even most of the city-specific assignments are virtual, too.
These market research companies pay well for your time and consistently update listings for more opportunities. We surveyed current listings for hourly pay and estimated average hourly pay given the jobs currently available.
An overwhelming percentage of the focus group opportunities listed on Respondent are remote. The majority of the listings are not city-specific, allowing you to qualify regardless of where you live.
Current job listings range between $20 and $400 per hour, with the average focus group paying around $120 per hour.
WatchLAB doesnât have as many opportunities listed, but it does regularly update its inventory on its Facebook page.
Jobs are often city specific, though there is a wide variety of cities with opportunities available. Even city-specific assignments have been primarily remote through the pandemic.
Pay for WatchLAB focus groups ranges from $60 to $150 per hour, with the average focus group paying around $100 per hour.
Focusscope is another smaller consumer research company. It updates its users regularly about new opportunities on its Facebook page, and most studies are now completed remotely.
Focusscope pays $75 to $250 per focus group, with an average payout of $100.
FindFocusGroups.com isnât a consumer research company in and of itself. Instead, itâs a job listing board. It aggregates current opportunities available across the country, and allows consumer research companies to submit listings.
You can search these focus group listings by state. For example, the pay range for current listings in Pennsylvania is $65 to $160 per hour. The average focus group pays around $100 per hour.
If youâre looking for online or over-the-phone focus group opportunities, User Interviewsâ listings are plentiful. However, compared to the other companies on this list, more of these focus group opportunities are in-person. Use filters while you search to ensure youâre only being shown the remote opportunities.
A portion of the listings on User Interviews are medical studies rather than focus groups.
Participating in medical trials can be another lucrative way to hustle together some extra cash.
Listings on User Interviews pay between $25 and $600 per hour â though very few studies get close to the $600 mark. The average focus group pays $60 per hour.
Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
When it comes to excuses consumers give for their poor credit scores, banks and lenders have heard it all.Â
Maybe you lost your job and couldnât pay your student loan payment for a few months.Â Or perhaps you thought youâd gotten a deferment but were too busy job hunting to find out for sure.Â
Maybe you thought you paid your credit card bill but itâs actually sitting on your kitchen counter waiting for the mail.
Whatever the reason for your low credit score, one thing is for certain â lendersÂ donât care.
In fact, banks and other lenders lean on your credit score and other factors to determine whether they should approve you for a credit card or a loan â and thatâs about it. Your personal situation is never considered, nor should it be.
It would be wonderful if credit card companies understood that âlife happensâ and made special exceptions to help people out, but that’s not the world we live in.Â As most of us already know, thatâs not typically how credit works. Credit cards are backed by banks, and banks have rules for a reason.
Now, hereâs the good news: Credit cards can help rebuild your credit, earn cash back for each dollar you spend, make travel easier, and serve as an emergency fund if youâre stuck paying a huge bill at the last minute. This is true even if you have poor credit, although the selection of credit cards you can qualify for may be somewhat limited.Â
Keep reading to learn about the best credit cards for bad credit, how they work, and how you can get approved.
Best Cards for Bad Credit This Year
Before you give up on building credit, you should check out all the credit cards that are available to consumers who need some help. Our list of the best credit cards for bad credit includes some of the top offers with the lowest fees and fair terms.
- Total VisaÂ®
- Discover itÂ® Secured
- Credit One BankÂ® VisaÂ® Credit Card
- Secured MastercardÂ® from Capital OneÂ®
- MilestoneÂ® Gold MastercardÂ®
- Credit One BankÂ® Unsecured VisaÂ® with Cash Back Rewards
#1: Total VisaÂ®
The Total VisaÂ® is one of the easiest credit cards to get approved for in today’s market, and itâs easy to use all over the world since itâs a true Visa credit card. However, this card does come with high rates and fees since itâs available to consumers with poor credit or a limited credit history.
Processing your application will cost $89, which is extremely high when you consider the fact that most credit cards donât charge an application fee. Youâll also pay an initial annual fee of $75 and a $48 annual fee for each year thereafter.
Once you sign up, youâll be able to pick your preferred card design and your credit card payments will be reported to all three credit reporting agencies â Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. This is the main benefit of this card since your on-time payments can easily help boost your credit score over time.Â
For the most part, the Total VisaÂ® is best for consumers who donât mind paying a few fees to access an unsecured line of credit. Since this card doesnât dole out rewards, however, there are few cardholder perks to look forward to.Â
- APR: 35.99% APR
- Fees: Application fee and annual fee
- Minimum Credit Score: Not specified
- Rewards: No
#2: Discover itÂ® Secured
While secured cards donât offer an unsecured line of credit like unsecured credit cards do, they are extremely easy to qualify for. The Discover itÂ® Secured may not be ideal for everyone, but it does offer a simple online application process and the ability to get approved with little to no credit history.
Keep in mind, however, that secured cards do work differently than traditional credit cards. With a secured credit card, youâre required to put down a cash deposit upfront as collateral. However, you will get your cash deposit back when you close your account in good standing.
Amazingly, the Discover itÂ® Secured lets you earn rewards with no annual fee. Youâll start by earning 2% back on up to $1,000 spent each quarter in dining and gas. Youâll also earn an unlimited 1% back on everything else you buy.
The Discover itÂ® Secured doesnât charge an application fee or an annual fee, although youâll need to come up with the cash for your initial deposit upfront. For the most part, this card is best for consumers who have little to no credit and want to build their credit history while earning rewards.
- APR: 24.74%
- Fees: No annual fee or monthly fees
- Minimum Credit Score: Not specified
- Rewards: Yes
#3: Credit One BankÂ® VisaÂ® Credit Card
The Credit One BankÂ® VisaÂ® Credit Card is another credit card for bad credit that lets you earn rewards on your everyday spending. Youâll earn a flat 1% cash back for every dollar you spend with this credit card, and since itâs unsecured, you donât have to put down a cash deposit to get started.
Other benefits include the fact you can get pre-qualified for this card online without a hard inquiry on your credit report â and that you get a free copy of your Experian credit score on your online account management page.
You may be required to pay an annual fee up to $95 for this card for the first year, but it depends on your creditworthiness. After that, your annual fee could be between $0 and $99.
- APR: 19.99% to 25.99%
- Fees: Annual fee up to $95 the first year depending on creditworthiness; after that $0 to $99
- Minimum Credit Score: Not specified
- Rewards: Yes
#4: Secured MastercardÂ® from Capital OneÂ®
The Secured MastercardÂ® from Capital OneÂ® is another secured credit card that extends a line of credit to consumers who can put down a cash deposit as collateral. This card is geared to people with bad credit or no credit history, so itâs easy to get approved for. One downside, however, is that your initial line of credit will likely be just $200 â and that doesn’t give you much to work with.Â
On the upside, this card doesnât charge an annual fee or any application fees. That makes it a good option if you donât want to pay any fees you wonât get back.
Youâll also get access to 24/7 customer service, $0 fraud liability, and other cardholder perks.
- APR: 26.49%
- Fees: No ongoing fees
- Minimum Credit Score: Not specified
- Rewards: No
#5: MilestoneÂ® Gold MastercardÂ®
The MilestoneÂ® Gold MastercardÂ® is an unsecured credit card that lets you get pre-qualified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. You wonât earn any rewards on your purchases, but you do get benefits like the ability to select your cardâs design, chip and pin technology, and easy online account access.
You will have to pay a one-time fee of $25 to open your account, and thereâs an annual fee of $50 the first year and $99 for each year after that.
- APR: 24.90%
- Fees: Account opening fee and annual fees
- Minimum Credit Score: Not specified
- Rewards: No
#6: Credit One BankÂ® Unsecured VisaÂ® with Cash Back Rewards
The Credit One BankÂ® Unsecured VisaÂ® with Cash Back Rewards lets you earn 1% back on every purchase you make with no limits or exclusions. Thereâs no annual fee or application fee either, which makes this card a winner for consumers who donât want to get hit with a lot of out-of-pocket costs.
As a cardholder, youâll get free access to your Experian credit score, zero fraud liability, and access to a mobile app that makes tracking your purchases and rewards a breeze. You can also get pre-qualified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
- APR: 25.99%
- Fees: No annual fee or application fee
- Minimum Credit Score: Not specified
- Rewards: Yes
The Downside of Credit Cards with Bad Credit
While your odds of getting approved for one of the credit cards for bad credit listed above are high, you should be aware that there are plenty of pitfalls to be aware of. Here are the major downsides youâll find with these credit cards for bad credit and others comparable cards:
- Higher fees: While someone with excellent credit can shop around for credit cards without any fees, this isnât the case of you have bad credit. If your credit score is poor or you have a thin credit profile, you should expect to pay higher fees and more of them.
- Higher interest rates: While some credit cards come with 0% interest for a limited time or lower interest rates overall, consumers with poor credit typically have to pay the highest interest rates available today. Some credit cards for bad credit even come with APRs as high as 35%.
- No perks: Looking for cardholder benefits like cash back on purchases or points toward airfare or movie tickets? Youâll need to wait until your credit score climbs back into âgoodâ or âgreatâ territory. Even if you can find a card for applicants with bad credit that offers cash back, your rewards may not make up for the higher fees.
- No balance transfers: If youâre looking for relief from other out-of-control credit card balances, look elsewhere. Credit cards for bad credit typically donât offer balance transfers. If they do, the terms make them cost-prohibitive.
- Low credit limits: Credit cards for bad credit tend to offer initial credit limits in the $300 to $500 range with the possibility of increasing to $2,000 after a year of on-time monthly payments. If you need to borrow a lot more than that, youâll have to consider other options.
- Security deposit requirement: Secured credit cards require you to put down a cash deposit to secure your line of credit. While this shouldnât necessarily be a deal-breaker â and it may be required if you canât get approved for an unsecured credit card â youâll need to come up with a few hundred dollars before you apply.
- Checking account requirement: Most new credit card accounts now require cardholders to pay bills online, which means youâll need a checking account. If youâre mostly âunbanked,â you may need to open a traditional bank account before you apply.
Benefits of Improving Your Credit Score
People with bad credit often consider their personal finances a lost cause. The road to better credit can seem long and stressful, and itâs sometimes easier to give up then it is to try to fix credit mistakes youâve made in the past.
But, there are some real advantages that come with having at least âgoodâ credit, which typically means any FICO score of 670 or above. Here are some of the real-life benefits better credit can mean for your life and your lifestyle:
- Higher credit limits: The higher your credit score goes, the more money banks are typically willing to lend. With good credit, youâll have a better chance at qualifying for a car loan, taking out a personal loan, or getting a credit card with a reasonable limit.
- Lower interest rates: A higher credit score tells lenders youâre not as risky as a borrower âa sign that typically translates into lower interest rates. When you pay a lower APR each time you borrow, you can save huge amounts of money on interest over time.
- Lower payments: Borrowing money with a lower interest rate typically means you can usually get lower payments all your loans, including a home loan or a car loan.
- Ability to shop around: When youâre an ideal candidate for a loan, you can shop around to get the best deals on credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, and more.
- Ability to help others: If your kid wants to buy a car but doesnât have any credit history, better credit puts you in the position to help him or her out. If your credit is poor, you wonât be in the position to help anyone.
- More options in life: Your credit score can also impact your ability to open a bank account or rent a new apartment. Since employers can request to see a modified version of your credit report before they hire you, excellent credit can also give you a leg up when it comes to beating out other candidates for a job.Â
In addition to the benefits listed above, most insurance companies now consider your credit score when you apply for coverage. For that reason, life, auto, and home insurance rates tend to be lower for people with higher credit scores.
This may seem unfair, but you have to remember that research has shown people with high credit scores tend to file fewer insurance claims.
How to Improve Your Credit: Slow and Steady
When you have a low credit score, there are two ways to handle it. If you don’t mind the consequences of poor credit enough to do anything about it, you can wait a decade until the bad marks age off your credit report. Depending on when your creditors give up and write off your debt, you may not even need to wait that long.
If you donât like the idea of letting your credit decay while you wait it out, you can also try to fix your past credit mistakes. This typically means paying off debt â and especially delinquent debts â but it can also mean applying for new loan products that are geared to people who need to repair their credit.
If you decide to take actionable steps to build credit fast, the credit cards on this page can help. Theyâll give you an opportunity to show the credit bureaus that youâve changed your ways.
Before you take steps to improve your credit score, however, keep in mind all the different factors used to determine your standing in the first place. The FICO scoring method considers the following factors when assigning your score:
- On-time payments: Paying all your bills on time, including credit cards, makes up 35% of your FICO score. For that reason, paying all your bills early or on time is absolutely essential.
- Outstanding debts: How much you owe matters, which is why paying off your credit cards each month or as often as possible helps your score. According to myFICO.com, the amounts you owe in relation to your credit limits make up another 30% of your FICO score.
- New credit: Apply for too many new cards or accounts at once can impact your score in a negative way. In fact, this determinant makes up another 10% of your FICO score.
- Credit mix: Having a variety of open accounts impresses the credit bureau algorithm Gods. If all you have are personal loans right now, mixing in a credit card can help. If you already have four or five credit cards, it may be wise to back off a little.
- Length of credit history: The length of your credit history also plays a role in your score. The longer your credit history, the better off you are.
If you want to improve your credit score, consider all the factors above and how you can change your behavior to score higher in each category. Itâs pretty easy to see how paying all your bills early or on time and paying off debt could make a big positive impact on your credit score when you consider that these two factors alone make up 65% of your FICO score.
If you want a way to track your progress, also look into an app likeÂ Credit Karma, one of my favorite tools. This app lets you monitor your credit progress over time and even receive notifications when your score has changed. Best of all, itâs free.
Should You Use a Credit Card to Rebuild Your Credit Score?
If youâre on the fence about picking up a credit card for bad credit, your first step should be thinking over your goals. What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
If youâre looking for spending power, the cards on this list probably wonât help. Some are secured cards, meaning you need a cash deposit to put down as collateral. Others offer low credit limits and high fees and interest rates, making them costly to use over the long-term.
If you really want to start over from scratch and repair credit mistakes made in the past, on the other hand, one of these cards may be exactly what you need. If youâre determined to improve your score, they can speed things along.
You may pay higher fees and interest rates along the way, but itâs important to remember that none of the cards on this list need to be your top card forever. Ideally, youâll use a credit card for poor credit to rebuild your credit and boost your score. Once youâve reached your goal, you can upgrade to a new card with better benefits and terms.
College is expensive and everyone knows that.
Between paying for tuition, parking, textbooks, extra fees, and everything else, you also have basic living expenses to pay for as well.
All of these costs are either brand new or somewhat new to you most likely as well, so you might not even know how to survive on a budget, let alone a college budget.
Don’t worry, though, surviving on a college budget is possible. Learning how to save money in college is possible!
Related post: How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans In 7 Months
Whether you are trying to survive the whole year off of what you made over the summer or if you have a steady job throughout the school year, there are ways to budget your money and not fall into any extra debt. Plus, you can still enjoy your college years on a low budget as well!
Below are my tips on how to survive on a college budget.
Use your student ID.
Your student ID is good at many places beyond just your college campus. Before you buy anything, I highly recommend seeing if a company offers a student discount.
Your student ID can be used to save money at restaurants, clothing stores, electronics (such as laptops!), at the movies, and more. You may receive a discount, free items, and more all just by flashing your student ID.
After all, you are paying to go to college and you are paying a lot. You might as well reap one benefit of paying all of those high college costs.
Make extra money.
You may need to look into making extra money if you just don’t have enough to survive on. I am a firm believer in making extra money and I think extra time can be wisely spent doing this.
Some online side gigs with flexible schedules include:
- Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. I made over $150,000 last year by blogging and will make more than that in 2015. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
- Survey companies I recommend include Survey Junkie, American Consumer Opinion, Product Report Card, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! It’s best to sign up for as many as you can because that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
- InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free!
- Swagbucks is something I don’t use as much, but I do earn Amazon gift cards with very little work. Swagbucks is just like using Google to do your online searches, except you get rewarded points called “SB” for the things you do through their website. Then, when you have enough points, you can redeem them for cash, gift cards, and more. You’ll receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up today!
- Check out 75 Ways To Make Extra Money for more ideas.
- Read Best Online Jobs For College Students
Use coupons to stay on a college budget.
Just like with the above, you may want to start using coupons.
By doing so, you can save money on nearly everything. You can find coupons in newspapers, online, and in the mail. They are everywhere so you should have no problem finding them and saving money today.
Related post: How To Live On One Income
Learn how to correctly use a credit card or don’t have one at all.
Many college students fall into credit card debt, but I don’t want you to be one of them.
Many college students will start relying on their credit cards in order to get them through their low college budget, but this can lead to thousands of dollars of credit card debt which will eventually seem impossible to get out of due to significant interest charges that keep building up.
In order to never get into this situation, you should avoid credit cards at all costs if you think you will rely on them too heavily.
You should think long and hard about whether you should have one or not. Just because many others have them doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing! However, if you think you will be good at using them, then there are many advantages of doing so.
Related post: Credit Card Mistakes That Can Lead To Debt
Only take out what you need in student loans.
Many students take out the full amount in student loans that they are approved for even if they only need half.
This is a HUGE mistake. You should only take out what you truly need, as you will need to pay back your student loans one day and you will most likely regret it later.
I know someone who would take out the max amount each semester and buy timeshares, go on expensive vacations, and more. It was a huge waste of money and I’m still not even sure why they thought it was a good idea.
Just think about it – If you take out an extra $2,000 a semester, that means you will most likely take out almost $20,000 over the time period that you are in college.
Do you really want to owe THAT much more in student loans?
Skip having a car.
Most campuses have everything you need in order to survive – food, stores, and jobs. In many cases, you do not need to have a car whatsoever.
By foregoing a car, you may save money on monthly payments, maintenance costs, car insurance, gas, and more.
Related post: Should We Get Rid Of A Car And Just Have One?
Eat out less.
Now, I’m not saying you should stop eating out entirely if you are trying to survive on a college budget. I know how it is to be in college and to want to hang out with everyone. These are your college years after all.
However, you should try to eat in as much as you can, make your own meals, and try to eat out only during happy hours or when food is cheaper, such as during lunch time. Eating out can ruin your college budget!
Have a roommate.
The more people you live with, generally the less you will pay when it comes to rent and utilities. If you are living on your own, then you may want to find roommates so that you can split the costs with them.
This will help you to lower your college budget and you may even find some awesome friends.
Related post: What I Learned Having Roommates
What college budget tips do you have?
The post Learning How To Survive On A College Budget appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
The post A Parent’s Guide to Setting a Successful Budget for a College Student appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
Â You are getting ready to send your child off to college. Before you start helping them pack their belongings, there is one thing you need to do.
You need to help them create a budget. You need to teach them how to manage their money so they can learn the tools theyâll use long after they graduate.
WHY DO COLLEGE STUDENTS NEED A BUDGET?
The truth is everyone needs a budget. It does not matter your age. If you are dealing with money, a budget is necessary.
- Allows you to control your money. Rather than your money telling you what it wants to do, you get to tell your money where it needs to go. You are always in control when you have a budget.
- It teaches financial skills. A budget helps ensure that expenses such as rent, tuition, food, insurance, transportation, and housing are paid â before spending money on the fun stuff. (It also helps to make sure you donât spend more than you make.)
- Makes you aware of where your money goes. When you use a budget, you see how you spend. It is very simple to see if too much is going toward dining out when you should be building your savings.
- Helps you track your goals. You need to cover expenses but you should also work on building savings at the same time. Your budget allows you to not only see those goals but track them in real time.
DOESNâT A BUDGET MEAN YOU CANâT HAVE FUN?
Not at all! If anything, your budget will allow you to have guilt-free fun.
For example, the budget may allow you to spend $50 a week dining out. That means you can go to dinner with friends once (possibly twice) a week and enjoy yourself. You wonât be left wondering how you are now going to make rent.
WHAT TYPE OF BUDGET SHOULD YOUR STUDENT USE?
There are various methods of budgeting such as the 50/30/20 and the zero-based budget. For most college students, the zero-based is the simplest and easiest to follow.
The reason is that you track everything. You give every penny a job. That means if you earn $1,500 for the month that you âspendâ the entire $1,500.
You will first cover the needs (food, shelter, transportation) and then your wants. If there is money âleftoverâ after this is done, it can be added to your savings.
You can use other types but if you have never budgeted before, using this method is the simplest.
WHAT SHOULD A COLLEGE STUDENT INCLUDE IN A BUDGET?
The budget will vary for each person, as the income and expense will be different. However, these are the most common categories that need to be included in a budget:
- Renterâs insurance
- Car payment
- Car insurance (also saving for annual renewal fees)
- Utilities (phone, electricity, gas, water, etc.)
- Entertainment (movies, games, concerts)
- Dining out
- Emergency fund savings
Again, you may have items that are not included above or see some that you do not need.
However, the most important thing of all is that every penny is given a job. Account for everything you will spend each month so you never have too much month and not enough money.
HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF YOUR BUDGET?
For most college students, apps or digital trackers are the best options.Â But, before you rush and sign up, keep the following in mind.
- Cost. Many apps are free and they will work perfectly fine. Other apps have a monthly fee attached to them. If you plan to use one of them, make sure you include that as one of your regular expenses. However, do not let the cost alone be a single factor when it comes to clicking the sign-up button.
- Security. Your security trumps all else. You need to make sure the app uses encryption as well as two-factor authorization.
Some of the best apps include:
- You Need a Budget (YNAB)
However, your student may also like the traditional paper and pencil method â and that is OK as well.
Find the right one that works best for your student. That is all that matters.
TEACHING THEM TO BUDGET
Knowing you need a budget and where to track it is just the beginning. You need to teach your child how to budget.
Start by looking at each category that they need on their budget. You may already know the cost for each category but if not, you may need to make phone calls or do research to know.
For example, you know the rent for the apartment is $850 a month but how much are the average utilities? Ask the manager for these costs so you can include them in the budget.
Next, decide how much they want to allow themselves to spend on food. Show them how much a meal costs for a single person at each restaurant you eat at so they can create an average.
You will then have them decide how much âfun moneyâ they want to include as well. You can base this on them wanting to go to the movies two times a month, one concert a month, or attending three events.
Now you can see the expenses for your student. Add their income to the budget and deduct the expenses. They will see if they are operating in the black (money left over) or in the red (spending more than they make).
Show them how to adjust the numbers by increasing their savings or lowering the amount they can spend on clothes â until the budget equals zero. Zero meaning they are spending every penny they earn.
And making them keep track now will help ensure they stay on track well into the future.
The post A Parent’s Guide to Setting a Successful Budget for a College Student appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
If you have an irregular income, you know how great the good times feelâand how difficult the lean times can be. While you can’t always control when you get paid or the size of each paycheck if you’re a freelancer, contractor or work in the gig economy, you can take control of your money by creating a budget that will help you manage these financial extremes.
Antowoine Winters, a financial planner and principal at Next Steps Financial Planning, LLC, says creating a budget with a variable income can require big-picture thinking. You may need to spend time testing out different methods when you first start budgeting, but, âif done correctly, it can really empower you to control your life,” Winters says.
How do you budget on an irregular income? Consider these four strategies to help you budget with a variable income and gain financial confidence:
1. Determine your average income and expenses
If you want to start budgeting on a fluctuating income, you need to know how much money you have coming in and how much you’re spending.
Of course, that’s the basis for any budget. But it can be particularly important if you’re trying to budget on an irregular income because you may have especially high- or low-income periods. You want to start tracking as soon as possible to build up accurate data on your average income and expenses.
For example, once you have six months’ worth of income and expenses documented, you can divide the total by six to determine your average income and expenses by month.
Many financial apps and websites can help with the tracking, including ones that can connect to your online bank and credit card accounts and automatically pull in your transactions. You may even be able to pull in previous months’ or years’ worth of data, which you can use to calculate your averages.
If you’re budgeting on a fluctuating income and apps aren’t your thing, you can use a spreadsheet or even a pen and notebook to track your cash flow. However, without automated tracking, it can be difficult to consistently keep your information up to date.
2. Try a zero-sum budget
“There are several strategies you can use to budget with an irregular income, but one of the easiest ones is the zero-sum budget,” says Holly Johnson. As a full-time freelance writer, she’s been budgeting with a variable income for over seven years and is the coauthor of the book Zero Down Your Debt.
With a zero-sum budget, your income and expenses should even out so there’s nothing left over at the end of the month. The trick is to treat your savings goals as expenses. For example, your “expenses” may include saving for an emergency, vacation or homeownership.
“There are several strategies you can use to budget with an irregular income, but one of the easiest ones is the zero-sum budget.”
Johnson says if you’re budgeting on a fluctuating income, you can adopt the zero-sum budget by creating a “salary” for yourself. Consider your average monthly expenses (shameless plug for tip 1) and use that number as your baseline.
For example, if your monthly household bills, groceries, business expenses, savings goals and other necessities add up to $4,000, that’s your salary for the month. During months when you make over $4,000, put the extra money into a separate savings account. During months when you make less than $4,000, draw from that account to bring your salary up to $4,000.
“We call this fund the ‘boom and bust’ fund,” Johnson says. “By building up an adequate amount of savings, you will create a situation where you can pay yourself the salary you need each month.”
3. Separate your saving and spending money
Physically separating your savings from your everyday spending money may be especially important when you’re creating a budget on an irregular income. You may be tempted to pull funds from your savings goals during low-income months, and stashing your savings in a separate, high-yield savings account can force you to pause and think twice before dipping in.
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An easy way to put this tip into action when creating a budget with a variable income is to have all of your income deposited into one account, then disburse it into separate savings and spending accounts. “Transfer a set amount on the first of every month to a bill-paying account and a set amount to a spending account,” Winters, the financial planner, says.
“The bill pay account is used to pay for all of the regular expenses, like rent, insurance, car payments, student loans, etc.,” Winters says. These bills generally stay the same each month. The spending account can be used for your variable expenses, such as groceries and gas.
When considering your savings accounts, Winters also suggests funding a retirement account, such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
If you’re budgeting on a fluctuating income as a contract worker or freelancer, you may also want to set money aside for taxes because the income and payroll taxes you’ll owe aren’t automatically taken out of your paychecks.
4. Build up your emergency fund
“The best way to weather low-income periods is to prepare with an adequate emergency fund,” freelancer Johnson says. An emergency fund is money you set aside for necessary expenses during an emergency, such as a medical issue or broken-down vehicle.
Generally, you’ll want to save up enough money to cover three to six months of your regular expenses. Once you build your fund, you can put extra savings toward other financial goals.
When you’re budgeting on a fluctuating income, having the emergency fund can help you feel more at ease knowing that you’ll be able to pay your necessary bills if the unexpected happens or when you’re stuck in a low-income period for longer than anticipated.
A budget can make living with a variable income easier
It can be challenging to budget on an irregular income, especially when you’re first starting. You might have to cut back on expenses for several months to start building up your savings and try multiple budgeting methods before finding the one that works best for you.
“Budgeting requires a mindset change regardless of which type of budget you try,” Johnson explains.
“The best way to weather low-income periods is to prepare with an adequate emergency fund.”
However, once in place, a budget on an irregular income can also help free you from worrying about the boom-and-bust cycle that many variable-income workers deal with throughout the year.
The goal is to get to the point where you can budget with a variable income and don’t have to worry about when you’ll get paid next because you set your budget based on your averages, planned ahead during the high times and have savings ready for your low times.
The post 4 Tricks for Budgeting on a Fluctuating Income appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
CARES Act: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was the first coronavirus relief package passed in March 2020. It expanded unemployment assistance, authorized ,200 stimulus checks and provided relief for small businesses, among several other things. Under this law, those who are partially or fully unemployed as a direct result of the coronavirus may receive up to 39 weeks of federal unemployment benefits.
Beyond helping those who were laid off, PUA offers benefits to people who canât go to work or lost income due to a variety of coronavirus-related reasons. Some examples include contracting COVID-19, caregiving for someone who has COVID-19 or staying home to take care of your kids whose school closed due to COVID-19 lockdown rules.
Millions of newly eligible folks now have access to benefits. But the new programs put state unemployment agencies in a tricky position. They are receiving record-breaking surges in applications at the same time that they are tasked with creating and paying out brand new benefits. The result: overburdened websites, unclear instructions and lots of jargon.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, remote work and other unique ways to make money. Read his âlatest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Hereâs a primer on seven key terms that youâre sure to come across as you apply for benefits.
Take, for example, this update to applicants on Arkansasâ unemployment website after the second stimulus package passed:
The 2 Unemployment Programs You Definitely Need to Know
DOL: The federal Department of Labor oversees all statesâ unemployment systems. Your state may have its own agency named the Department of Labor that administers its unemployment benefits. Generally speaking, DOL refers to the federal agency.
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Also referred to as Unemployment Compensation, UI is the longstanding benefits program run by each individual state. Itâs for people who are out of work at no fault of their own. To qualify for UI, you have to have made a certain amount of money in the recent pastÂ â typically from a W-2 job with an employer that paid into the unemployment system through payroll taxes. Specifics like previous employment duration or earnings vary.
PEUC: Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extends the length of Unemployment Insurance aid for a maximum of 24 weeks. The first stimulus deal extended UI benefits for 13 weeks, and the second stimulus package added an additional 11 weeks. New applicants (after Dec. 27, 2020) are only eligible for the 11-week extension. This program does not extend Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
âUnderstanding the difference with all these programs and acronyms is going to be confusing,â said Michele Evermore, an unemployment benefits policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.
These two foundational programs provide the bulk of unemployment aid through weekly payments. Once you understand the difference between them, a lot of the other programs will start to make sense.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
âSome extensions and changes to federal UI programs will include the reinstatement of the FPUC program, extension of PUA program and PEUC program for those who qualify,â the notice states.
The overwhelming majority of people relying on unemployment benefits are receiving aid from two key programs. According to figures from the Department of Labor, more than 13 million people are collecting Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.
Our plain English guide will help you make sense of it all. Consider bookmarking this page and referencing it as you trudge through the process of getting your benefits.
DUA: Disaster Unemployment Assistance is not Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. You may come across this long-standing natural disaster assistance program on your stateâs unemployment website. Do not apply. Despite their similar names, they are very different.
7 Quick Definitions to Important Unemployment Terms and Programs
FPUC: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation boosts unemployment benefits by 0 a week for up to 11 weeks between Dec. 27, 2020, and March 14, 2021. Anyone who is approved for at least of unemployment benefits will automatically receive this bonus. No separate application or action is needed. This program previously paid out 0 per week under the CARES Act, but that version expired in July 2020.
Additionally, to collect UI, you have to be able to work, available to work and actively seeking work. Some states have waived the âactively seeking workâ requirement during the pandemic.
Depending on your state, average UI payments are between 0 and 0 per week, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor. The duration of UI programs also depends on your state. They last between 12 and 30 weeks (without any extensions). The most common duration is 26 weeks.
Since the start of the pandemic, mass unemployment has rocked the nation. To help mitigate the damage, two economic stimulus packages allotted unprecedented sums of money to create new benefits programs that assist people who are out of work.
EB: Extended Benefits are available in every state except South Dakota. EB is a state-level benefit that extends Unemployment Insurance by six to 20 weeks â depending on your state and your local unemployment rate. To qualify during the pandemic, you may have to exhaust a federal unemployment extension first. (See PEUC below.)
For the first time nationally, gig workers and freelancers, who are considered 1099 independent contractors, have been able to receive unemployment benefits through PUA.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a new federal unemployment program. Itâs up and running in all 50 states. The first stimulus package created PUA in March 2020. Throughout the pandemic, PUA has been a lifeline for tens of millions of jobless people who donât qualify for regular UI benefits.
CAA: The Continued Assistance Act, aka Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers, is part of the 0 billion stimulus package that became law on Dec. 27, 2020. It extends many of the unemployment programs created by the CARES Act.
Because PUA is a federal program, all states must offer it for a maximum of 50 weeks. The minimum weekly payments vary by state, however, because theyâre calculated as half your stateâs average UI payment. With average state UI payments between 0 and 0, you can expect minimum weekly PUA payments between and 5 depending on your state.
Use this tool from the Department of Labor to find your stateâs unemployment website and start a UI claim.
After reading that sentence, you may have a couple choice acronyms yourself. Maybe, âOMG â WTH does that mean?â
Now that you have a better understanding of the two major unemployment benefits programs, letâs look at extensions, payment enhancements and other important programs that you may be eligible for.
Buying a car is almost a rite of passage. Making that first car purchase, negotiating with the seller, and arranging financing (if you need an auto loan) all require a certain amount of savvy.
And, once you successfully achieve the car-buying milestone, another signpost looms in the distance: Refinancing.
Whether youâre getting an auto loan for the first time, or you want to refinance your existing car debt, itâs important to be an informed consumer. Hereâs what you need to know.
Get your finances in order
Before beginning your car search, you need your finances in order, according to Joe Pendergast, the vice president of consumer lending for Navy Federal Credit Union.
âKnow your budget, check your credit score, and review your existing credit accounts to ensure they are reported accurately,â Pendergast said. Your credit situation can directly impact the interest you pay on your auto loan.
Emily Shutt, a certified financial coach who works closely with millennial women to help them manage a variety of money issues, suggested calling around to different dealers and banks or credit unions to see what credit bureau they use to check your score. Then you can check your report for errors and have them fixed before you talk to someone about financing your car purchase.
âHaving errors on a credit report can negatively impact score, which can put you at a huge disadvantage when youâre negotiating for an auto loan interest rate,â Shutt said.
You should also know ahead of time where you stand with your budget. Use an online loan calculator to determine what you can afford in terms of a monthly payment. For example, if you think you can handle a $305 monthly payment, and you have the credit to get an interest rate of 2.9% for a five-year loan, you might feel you can afford to borrow up to $17,000 for a car.
Save up for a down payment
Just because you might be able to borrow so much for a car doesnât mean you necessarily should. In fact, saving for a down payment makes a lot of sense, Shutt said. Not only does having a down payment help you to better negotiate your loan rate, but it also can allow you a shorter loan term and save you money in the long run.
Play around with the numbers a little with an online calculator. If you can put $7,000 down, so that you borrow only $10,000 of that $17,000 car, you could maybe get an interest rate of 2.5% and a loan term of three years. Even better, your monthly payment would only be $289 â and youâd save $1,494 in interest.
The less you borrow, the more money you have in the end. And thatâs money you can put toward investing in your future, rather than paying interest to someone else.
Know what you want â and what it costs
Once your finances are in order and maybe you have a down payment saved up, itâs time to figure out what you can actually buy. Avoid over-borrowing by knowing what you want in a car and having an idea of what it costs, Shutt suggested.
âEverything should already be online so you can get a sense of what all the options are,â said Shutt. A little research can go a long way toward helping you get a sense for which cars will fit into your budget.
Shutt pointed out that the job of salespeople is to get you to spend as much money as possible. The more you spend, the more you have to borrow â and the more youâll pay in interest. âConfidently stand your ground when a salesperson tries to upsell you or steer you in another direction,â she said.
Pendergast agreed on the need to research your car choices ahead of time. âKnow the price other dealerships in the area are offering so you can make an informed purchase,â he said.
Itâs even okay to play one sellerâs price off anotherâs to get the best deal. Donât be afraid to let the other dealerships know youâre shopping around. Theyâll be more inclined to negotiate with you, potentially resulting in a better deal.
Get an auto loan quote from a bank or credit union
Before you ask for dealer financing, suggested Pendergast, talk to a bank or credit union.
âYou should see what type of loans your financial institution has to offer,â said Pendergast. âThis will give you guidance for your budget, but will also increase your purchasing power to help you in negotiations, regardless of the dealerâs proposition being on par with the lenderâs.â
Donald E. Peterson, a consumer lawyer with almost 30 years of experience, warned that dealer financing still often requires the involvement of a bank or credit union. Dealers submit your information to lenders and get interest rates quotes back.
âSometimes dealers mark up the interest rate above the rate banks would buy the loan at,â Peterson said. âThe bank and the car dealer split the excess interest, usually 50-50.â
This practice isnât just limited to banks, either. âSome credit unions have entered into interest-rate kickback agreements with car dealerships,â Peterson said. âYou must apply to the credit union yourself to get the best rate.â
Starting with a financial institution allows you to get an idea of whatâs available to you. Then, youâre in a position where a dealer who wants to finance you has to match the rate youâve already been offered, rather than steer you toward an alternative arrangement.
Consider a cosigner
With my own first auto loan experience, I had to deal with the fact that I had a thin credit file. I didnât have enough credit established to get a car loan without an unacceptably high interest rate.
I went through the steps of creating a budget and deciding how much I could afford, including factoring in my car insurance costs. However, after checking my credit report, I realized that having a credit card for six months wasnât enough for me to establish much of a credit history.
After compiling research about the types of used cars I could afford, and how my earnings from my job were enough to cover an auto loan payment, I approached my parents. My dad was willing to cosign on a modest car loan through his credit union.
My interest rate â and my monthly payment â were lower because I had cosigner with good credit. I made all my payments on time, helping build my credit history so that the next time I bought a car, I was able to get a good interest rate without the need for a cosigner.
As you research your options, donât forget about the possibility of using a cosigner. If you donât have the credit history to get a good auto loan rate on your own, borrowing someone elseâs good name can help you save money â while at the same time allowing you a way to establish your own credit for the future.
Donât fall for the monthly payment scheme
While you do want to figure out what monthly payment youâre comfortable with, you donât want to get caught up in it at the dealership, cautioned Shutt.
âFocus on the all-in price of the car,â said Shutt. âIf the salesperson can get you to verbalize a monthly payment target, theyâll just manipulate other factors like the duration of the loan.â
When that happens, Shutt pointed out, you might end up hitting your targeted monthly payment, but long-term interest charges and other factors could mean that your car ends up being a lot more expensive. She said you should figure out about how much youâll pay each month over a loan term youâre comfortable with, and then buy a car with a final price that fits those parameters.
âTake your time, and donât be manipulated,â Shutt said. âIf youâre not comfortable negotiating, bring a friend or family member who can support you in sticking to your budget.â
What about refinancing?
In some cases, you might discover that you qualify for a lower auto loan interest rate than you currently pay.
âMaybe youâve been making timely payments for a year or two and your credit score has gone up,â said Shutt. âNow you can consider refinancing the loan.â
However, itâs important to be careful moving forward. Just as you shop around for the best auto loan rates on a new loan, it makes sense to shop for refinancing rates. Check with a few banks and credit unions to see if you can get a few quotes for refinancing.
When you refinance, watch out for lengthening the loan term. If you only have three years on your term, it might not make sense to refinance to a five year loan. Instead, only refinance what you have left. You could save on interest charges and still get rid of your car debt in the original time frame.
Shutt also recommended looking online for car loans. Compare the rates you find with online auto loan refinancing platforms to what your local financial institutions offer. By playing different lenders off each other, you could strike a better bargain â especially if you have good credit.
Know your finances and be ready to negotiate
Auto loans are a massive industry, with more than $1 trillion owed to U.S. lenders. Rather than being just another statistic, consider how you can come out on top.
Know your finances and understand what you can expect, Pendergast said. When you know where you stand, and when you research ahead of time, you can call dealers and lenders out. Shop around for the best auto loan rates and terms, and let dealers know youâve done your homework, so that negotiations will go much better, saving you time and, importantly, money.
If you want to be sure your credit is good enough to purchase a car, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.comâs free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter gradesâplus you get two free credit scores updated every 14 days.
The post A Millennial’s Guide to Getting Your First Car Loan appeared first on Credit.com.