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How a Late 2017 Interest Rate Increase Might Impact Your Finances

interest rate impact

Guest Post: By Patty Moore, a blogger who writes about personal finance, careers, and family. You can follow Patty on Twitter @WorkMomLife.

In the United States, interest rates are controlled by the Federal Reserve Bank. It controls a key interest rate, the Fed Funds Rate, that banks charge each other to borrow money. Changes to the Fed Funds Rate ripple through the economy and can directly affect your finances. That’s why so much attention is paid to forecasting any upcoming changes to the Fed Funds Rate.

The Federal Reserve meets six times a year to consider the Fed Funds Rate, and the next meeting is in December. At the most recent meeting, in September, the Fed indicated that it will raise the Fed Funds Rate by one-quarter of 1 percent in December. It bases these decisions on various economic conditions. One is inflation – the general rise in prices across the economy. The Fed fights high inflation, and raising interest rates is an important tool. Note that the Fed anticipates inflation before it actually occurs to get an early jump on the fight against it.

Inflation and Interest

Inflation occurs when the economy overheats and shortages in materials and/or workers develop. Shortages force companies to bid up the amount they’ll pay to workers and suppliers in order to compete with each other. These increases show up in the prices of things you buy, and also in your take-home pay.

Raising interest rates will slow down inflation, because borrowers have to pay more interest when they borrow. That leaves less money left over to pay higher, inflated prices and therefore slows down the economy, which slows down inflation.

So, when the Federal Reserve see signs that the economy is threatening to overheat and raise the inflation rate, it boosts the Federal Funds Rate to slow everything down.

Impact on Borrowers

As we said, a change in the Fed Funds Rate ripples through the economy, because lenders have to pay more interest on the money they borrow in order to lend it out. Therefore, rates will increase on new credit cards, mortgages, car loans, personal loans. If you have borrowed money at a variable interest rate – that is, at a rate that can change over time – then you can expect to pay more interest charges. Most credit cards are variable rate, so a higher Fed Funds Rate should show up shortly on your credit cards’ monthly billing statements. More of your hard-earned money must then go to paying interest on any unpaid balances. You can avoid this effect by paying off your entire balance each month, but that’s often not possible for many of us.

Existing fixed-rate loans, such as those on cars and most mortgages, aren’t affected by changes to the Fed Funds Rate, but new ones will be issued at higher rates. Existing credit cards and adjustable-rate mortgages can see rates change shortly after a Fed rate hike. You can deflect changing interest rates by refinancing variable rate debt (ex. Credit cards) into fixed rate products, see example here. Some experts suggest moving variable rate credit card debt to a fixed rate term loan during rising interest rate environments.

Private student loans frequently charge a variable interest rate. Depending on your student loan agreement, you might see a higher interest rate on your loan right away, or you might not see it for up to a year. Eventually, the higher rate takes hold and your remaining private student loan debt will cost you more money each month. Most student loans in America are made by the federal government and have a fixed interest rate that protects you from rate hikes. However, the Department of Education sets new interest rates each spring that take effect on July 1, causing new loans to be more expensive during inflationary times.

If you have any adjustable rate loans or credit cards, try to replace them with fixed-interest-rate ones when rates are rising. Also, try to pay off your credit cards in full each month, so that you don’t have to pay any interest at all on credit card balances.

Impact on Savers

The flip side of interest rate hikes is that savers earn more interest on their savings. Fed Fund Rate hikes might not impact the amount of interest you earn right away, because banks and other savings institutions use a “sticky” interest strategy. This means that the banks raise interest money on loans right away, but take their time passing along higher interest rates to savers. That’s unfair, but it’s also a fact of life. Eventually, competition causes banks to pay more interest on savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money-market accounts. Investors who buy Treasury bills see interest rates rise quickly on new debt in response to Fed Funds Rate hikes.

Naturally, the effects of a lower Fed Funds Rates are the opposite – good for borrowers, bad for savers. When interest rates are very low, as they had been from 2009 to 2016, it’s hard for some retirees to earn enough interest on relatively safe savings accounts and might turn to riskier sources of income, such as stocks and junk bonds. That’s unfortunate, because retirees are the least able to absorb losses, since they are no longer earning a salary or wages.

Now What:

  • The Federal Reserve is increasing interest rates in 2018.
  • If you currently have variable rate debt (ex. credit cards), plan on your interest rate and monthly payment increasing in 2018. Let this be motivation to pay down debt!
  • Fixed interest rate debt will not be impacted. Consider refinancing variable rate debt to a fixed interest rate.
  • The interest rate you receive on your savings accounts, CD’s, and money-market accounts will increase! This is good news for savers!

About The Author

Patty Moore is a single mother to one beautiful daughter while working 40 hours a week. She writes about parenting, family finances, and creating a work life balance in her blog Working Mother Life. Her hope is to help other women in similar situations to hers become better and more balanced mothers.

 

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What Recent Graduates Need to Know About Student Loan Repayment

Student Loan Repayment

Guest Post: from Dollar Diligence
For most college graduates, student loans are a fact of life.

Because the cost of a college degree has skyrocketed in recent years, student loans are necessary for a large number of students who would not otherwise be able to afford to obtain a degree.

Recent college graduates are nearing the end of what is known as the “grace period.” This is the six-month period of time after graduating or leaving school where a borrower does not have to make a payment on his or her student loans. After the grace period ends, a borrower will have to start making payments on his or her student loans.

That means that Class of 2017 graduates who received a diploma in April, May, or June, will soon receive their first student loan bills. It is critically important for these grads to understand the fundamentals of student loan repayment so they can be successful.

Learning more about student loans, including strategies for how to best pay off your loans, is vital to making informed decisions about your student loans moving forward.

Read on to learn the basics about what student loans are, your repayment options, and how you can take charge of your repayment schedule to pay them off more quickly.

 

Types of Student Loans

There are two types of student loans: federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans are offered by the government through the Department of Education. Private student loans are offered by private banks and lenders.

Federal student loans include both Direct Loans and Perkins Loans. With Direct Loans, the Department of Education is the lender. With Perkins Loans, the school is the lender.

There are three types of Direct federal student loans.

 

Direct Subsidized Loans

These are available to undergraduate students with a demonstrated financial need to help them pay for the cost of a degree at a college or career school. With subsidized loans, the government covers the cost of interest while the student is enrolled at least half-time in school, in a grace period, or during a period of deferment or forbearance.

 

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate, graduate or professional students. They are similar to subsidized loans, except that students do not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible, and students are responsible for interest on the loan.

 

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS Loans are available to graduate and professional students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. Though the interest rates do not vary on these loans, the government will check to ensure that you do not have any serious adverse credit history before giving out the loan (such as bankruptcy).

All federal student loans have fixed interest rates, which means that the interest rate is the same for the life of the loan. The interest rate is the percentage that a bank or other lender charges you to loan you money. The higher the interest rate, the more money you will pay over time.  

 

Private Student Loans

There are two primary options with private student loans: those with fixed interest rates and those with variable interest rates. Variable interest rate loans tend to start out lower but can go up over time. Fixed interest rates are usually higher, but are more predictable.

Private student loans typically have higher interest rates and eligibility is based on creditworthiness. If a student does not have good credit or has no credit history at all, they can elect to add a cosigner to the loan who shares the responsibility of repayment.

It is always smart to max out federal student loans before taking out any private loans as they typically have fewer benefits and few options in the case of financial hardship.

 

Repayment Options

There are a number of options for repaying your student loans based on the type of student loan that you have (federal or private) and your current financial situation.

As mentioned, federal student loans are generally considered to be more favorable because they offer more generous repayment options, particularly for those struggling to meet their minimum monthly payments.

 

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

For borrowers with federal student loans, income-driven repayment plans are a good repayment option for anyone who does not currently have a high salary. This plan will cap your monthly student loan payment at a percentage of your monthly discretionary income, from 10 to 20 percent.

However, the standard federal student loan repayment term of 10 years will usually be extended around 20 to 25 years. At the end of that period, the remaining balance will be forgiven.

The benefit of an income-driven repayment plan is that it will immediately decrease the amount of money that you pay each month. However, because it extends the loan term, you will pay more in interest. You will also owe taxes on the amount that is forgiven.

 

Forbearance and Deferment

If your financial problems are temporary — for example, if you have been laid off or are suffering an illness — then you may be eligible for a forbearance or deferment of your federal or private student loans. Each of these options will put your student loans on “pause” while you cannot make payments.

For federal student loans, a deferment allows you to not make payments for up to three years. Forbearance for private student loans is available for up to 12 months. However, for both private student loans and unsubsidized federal loans, interest will continue to grow on your loan balance, which means that making this choice can result in owing more money on your student loans.

 

Student Loan Refinancing

For borrowers with multiple student loans, refinancing might be an option to help save money and reduce your interest rate. Refinancing your student loans is essentially applying for a new loan to pay off your private student loans, and if you choose, your federal student loans.

Borrowers can often obtain a lower, fixed interest rate by refinancing, which can help them save thousands of dollars in interest and pay off their loans more quickly. However, you should be aware that if you refinance your federal student loans along with your private student loans, you will lose the protections of the federal student loans, such as income-driven repayment plan options.

Refinancing requires that the borrower have a history of making on-time payments, a solid income and a credit score of at least 660.

 

Strategies for Repaying Student Loans

Paying off your student loans should be a top priority for recent college graduates, but it can be difficult to accomplish, particularly if you have a low starting salary. But by taking certain steps and working towards paying down your loans, you can achieve this goal.

Whenever possible, borrowers should pay extra money towards their student loans. This could be as little as $25 each month, or as much as $1,000. Each little bit can help to pay down the total amount owed on your student loans.  

Next, borrowers should take steps to reduce their interest rate. This can be accomplished through refinancing (described above), or often by signing up for automatic payments, or by making a certain number of on-time payments. Check with your lender to determine if they offer any incentives to reduce your interest rate.

Finally, borrowers should try to make extra payments whenever they can. A single extra payment each year can significantly reduce the total amount owed, and help you pay off your loan more quickly.

 

About The Author

Aside from his full-time job as a high school teacher, you can find Jacob blogging about personal finance, reading books about history, and figuring out which kind of puppy to get next. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with him! Or visit http://www.dollardiligence.com

 

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Ep19 – Dear Debt – Mental Health and Money with Melanie Lockert

Episode #19 – Dear Debt – Mental Health and Money with Melanie Lockert




Download This Episode

Bio: Melanie Lockert started Dear Debt in 2013 as an accountability project for her debt payoff process. It grew into a community of dreamers, hustlers, debt fighters, minimalists, and frugal lovin’ adventurers to share thoughts, company, and Dear Debt Letters. She is an inspiration to many facing depression and other obstacles in dealing with debt and putting it in its place.

Show Description: We all know depression and mental illness are very hard to deal with and can create limitations in how we feel, think, and act. Today Melanie and I talk about some of the actions to take, and ways to think and encourage ourselves in dealing with depression and still making progress financially.

ShowNotes:

  • 1:27 – Emotions and Role Models
  • 3:12 – Fighting depression while still making progress financially
  • 5:00 – Dear Debt Letters – What are they?
  • 7:38 – Power of Writing Things Down
  • 9:45 – Mental Buckets
  • 10:50 –  Mentors and Coaches and Therapists: Outside Help Is For EVERYONE
  • 15:31 – Melanie’s story, hard months and easy months and honesty
  • 18:00 – Debt Fatigue: Define yourself
  • 21:34 – Vulnerability is strength
  • 23:30 – Melanie’s Maxim, Blog, and Book

Money Maxim

“A Closed Mouth Does Not Get Fed” – Melanie Lockert

MoneyMaxim Melanie Lockert

“You are not your debt” – Melanie Lockert

“The Faintest Ink Is More Powerful Than The Strongest Mind” – Jacob (Ancient Chinese Proverb)

“It’s important to tell the people that you love what you’re going through” – Melanie Lockert

Action Items

Forgive yourself, and recognize that you are not your debt.

Write your Dear Debt Letter! Read some on Melanie’s Blog, get the emotions out!

Organize some of your emotions into Mental Buckets.

Get your therapist! College grad program, mentor, mastermind, psychologist, roommate. Have people you regularly discuss and get help from.

Pattern: Recognize issue, make a plan, get a partner, get a community, constant honesty.

Mentions

Carl Richards Behavior Gap

OrderOfMan Podcast

Contacts and Links from the Show

http://deardebt.com

Melanies Book: Dear Debt

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The Worst Financial Mistake I’ve made + 2 Keys to Consider in Going to College

So, I’m Jacob Brad Johnson, I’m a ginger, I’m a Personal Financial Planner major at Utah Valley University(UVU), but was a Computer Science major at Brigham Young University (BYU) for 3 semesters before.

High School

After I graduated High School and I applied for many schools with my 3.86 GPA and 30 ACT score, I figured it’d be a cinch to get scholarships. I wanted to go to BYU, I wanted to study computers.

4 years later, I was wrong, and the worst financial mistake of my life was made.

“Congratulations Jacob on your submission to Utah Valley University,” the letter began. Later on it exclaimed these proud words, “The University would love to extend the Presidential Scholarship to you as you attend… This scholarship is renewable each year pending academic resilience each school year”

Presidential! I looked it up, screaming with delight at what I saw. This scholarship included full tuition, books, and partial housing reimbursement ($300 a month or something, as I recall for the housing portion).
2 days later I was reading another letter from BYU, my dream school. “You have been accepted to Brigham Young University, beginning Summer of 2012,” The words jumped out at me. YES! I’m IN!
I read the rest.
Reread it.
One last time to check for errors.
There was no scholarship, no anything. Oh. wait.
Nope, nothing. I received notification via email a few days later that I’d received a $300 book scholarship per semester for being a relative of some person who’d made a large scholarship fund for his descendants. That was good. ‘good’.

You Already Know What I Did

This is the moment where you all already know what happened. “Jacob, you’re such an idiot”, “What were you thinking!” “…” or other thoughts may have passed through your head.
Here’s the kicker, I had a 1/2 tuition scholarship to anywhere in the state because of the New Century Scholarship program, for graduating High School with an Associate Degree from a University. I’d have been PAID to go to UVU.

Mistake is made. BYU was attended. Computer Science studied. After a few years I didn’t like it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. Ended up transferring. Where to?

Back to Utah Valley University, studying Personal Financial Planning, sans scholarship.

Now, Money mistakes are a super common occurence, and there are much bigger mistakes that one can make (I’m talking more than $40,000 decisions). When you make one of those, you’ll know.

Do These 2 Things Before You Choose Your University

1. Know your Major. 

If you haven’t determined your major, how will you know what school is best? BYU had a better computer science program. UVU has a better Financial Planning major. If you still aren’t sure, try going to a community college or other cheaper college. Why pay the price of the expensive colleges when you can get the undergrad cheap at your local community college? It sometimes may make sense to get your associates from a different school before going to the one you’ve chosen to attend for your bachelor’s or higher degree.

If you don’t know which major to choose, or are struggling between a few, Act on THIS article I wrote recently. Basically, its how to get the thoughts and who you are down on paper to make decisions easier and with more knowledge out loud.

2. Know your scholarships. What are the implications of attending your school of choice? How will you pay for it? UVU gave me scholarships, BYU didn’t. Do you have to take on debt, is the cost that significant.

Will your major pay for the cost of going to school?  You need to know How Much Your Degree Makes to consider how much debt you could take on if you don’t have the scholarships.

Here is what I mean: Determine how much income your major going to bring, and how much debt it’ll take. Can that justify the debt you would get from going to the more expensive school? Here are 8 majors that just don’t justify their cost.

What’s your biggest financial mistake you’ve made! Share your confession with me here or tweet it at me @FinancialGinger and I’ll make it into a post you’ll see featured on my twitter and Facebook.

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4 Basic College Money Skills: How To Master Them

College always walks up and says: “Gimme money”. It’s the worst bully since Billy who always took your quarters during recess in 2nd grade!

Here are some amazing articles I’ve read about college kid money skills.
1) Getting Scholarships for school
2) avoiding Debt in College
3) how to deal with CC’s during College
4) how to start a savings account, and basics on opening an investing account

Basically, this is a really good reference and resource of some other writers work about the subjects. Feel free to comment extra resources you’ve found that are good too! I’ll make sure to update your research into this list also!

The Basics of College:

http://wellkeptwallet.com/2012/05/how-to-graduate-college-without-any-debt/

This article gives 5 basics: 1) Consider the Cost, 2) Work During School, 3) Apply for Scholarships, 4) Work for the University, 5) Be Radical – Try Crowdfunding! Thank you Deacon Hayes for this article!

https://wallethacks.com/money-tips-college-students/
Jim Wang gives one of the best and most concise run downs on 40 basic money tips in college.

Financial Advice To Start Your Military Career

I honor Doug, whom started the Military Guide. If you want to or do serve in the military, Doug knows the finances behind it.

Get The Scholarship

Jocelyn from TheScholarshipSystem shared her site, and I highly recommend it. The Best article she has, which is a freebie if you join her email list, is “The 3-Steps I Used To Write Reusable Scholarship Essays QUICKLY and That Won Me Over $125k”
http://thescholarshipsystem.com/ – her article The 10 basic steps to getting scholarships
http://thescholarshipsystem.com/ – 5 things to update on your FAFSA (Right NOW!)

 

KristinaEllis.com hosts Kristina’s books about how she paid for college “Confessions of a Scholarship Winner” and “How To Graduate Debt Free”. I met Kristina in person and FinCon16 in San Diego and would recommend her books to anyone who is serious about getting scholarships in college.

I can’t rant enough about Brynn Conroy and the wonderful FemmeFrugality site. These tools are great to understanding the mindset of applying for scholarships.

http://femmefrugality.com/how-to-write-a-successful-scholarship-essay/

http://femmefrugality.com/playing-the-odds-on-scholarship-opportunities/

http://femmefrugality.com/why-a-scholarship-resume-is-an-important-part-of-your-college-arsenal/

Hear the Ginger

Can you handle the Ginger? Be the first to get my newsletter by signing up here! :3

Avoid The Debt

Robert Farrington, a friend of mine, gave me some articles he wrote about avoiding debt and investing during college. This article is about 6 people in different situations, and how they avoided student loan debt. http://thecollegeinvestor.com/15182/6-college-graduates-share-avoided-student-loan-debt/

Jason Butler gives you the run-down on TextBooks and cutting costs here. http://thebutlerjournal.com/2013/08/09/saving-money-on-college-textbooks/

And how about the cost of an apartment? LaTisha Styles from StylesTV shares how to deal with an apartment here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UEn_k0DNb8

Credit Cards in College

http://investingdollarsandcents.com/1/post/2015/09/12-things-to-consider-if-you-want-to-start-investing.html

This article is technically about investing, but I really like that it gives you a good mindset about how to think about debt, and weigh the options in investing, saving, or paying off debt.

Where to Start Saving/Investing

The College Student’s Guide to Investing

There is no where safer to start than a website DEDICATED to college investing.

http://www.invest-safely.com/personal-finance-goals.html

The writer for Invest Safely is on point, every time. These 8 points are sure to get anyone started on the right track investing and saving.

How to Win the Stock Market Game [4 Rules]

If you want basics on how to invest in stocks, this is the place to start. It shows statistics and gives basic explanations for types of stocks, mutual funds, and other places to start with your money.

http://www.moneysmartguides.com/become-stock-market-millionaire

This is a very good basic guide explaining how to split your investing money, how to fund an account, and ways to keep your money safe. It talks about Bonds and Stocks, and good general rules for picking investments, and ways to diversify in multiple types of securities.

How to Fund a Brokerage Account and Start Investing Online

Lastly, this is a beautiful article that gives explicit details on HOW to open an account, and basic processes for utilizing it (as well as other useful information).


What are your resources you’ve liked in these areas? What do you use for credit cards? What are your beliefs? Share them with me in the comments, and I’ll be sure to put a few quotes on Instagram.

Jacob Johnson

The Financial Ginger