Selling a Dream: The Trouble With For-Profit Education


For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a college professor. I dreamt of days sharing the glories of literature with students and nights toiling away grading papers and writing books. There was just one small thing standing in my way: the meager (if not nonexistent) chance an English Lit PhD actually has of actually becoming a professor.

My bubble officially burst one day when my youngest professor took it upon herself to explain the realities of obtaining a PhD. She told me that, when she graduated, there were 4 (4!) tenure-track jobs in the country for her to apply for. In the entire U.S. As if that weren’t bad enough, I also had another dream: a dream of living in New York. In no uncertain terms, my professor told me I’d have to pick one – because both together were unlikely to happen.

I’m not usually one to back down from a challenge, but my desire to create a life in New York proved to be a lot stronger than my desire to become a professor. So I decided to take time off after graduation to figure things out. I started out working at a bank but then I got what I thought was the next best thing to my dream job – I was hired as an admissions counselor for an art school. I went in thinking it was the best of both worlds – but it turned out yet another bubble was getting ready to burst. Why? Because I was working for a for-profit college.

Discover the 9 “Hidden” Features That Can Rock Your ReadyForZero Plan


Full disclosure – I use ReadyForZero. To some, this might not sound shocking but you’d be surprised at the number of times people have asked me if I actually use ReadyForZero or if I simply write about it. To put the question to rest: I am indeed a ReadyForZero user and I also happen to think it’s a pretty useful tool! I might have some natural soft spots for certain areas of our website (ahem, our dear blog) but some of my favorite parts of our product live inside the settings section of my ReadyForZero account. Namely, the added features that allow you to add oomph to your repayment and customize your plan with some personal touches. These extras were created to provide plenty of motivation to help you kick debt’s butt.

So let’s explore all the amazingness contained within the little gear icon on the top right corner of your account.


Similar but NOT the Same: What’s the Difference Between APR and Interest Rate?


When you get any sort of loan, you are going to see terms like “interest rate” and “APR.” Many of us treat these terms as virtually identical, but the truth is that they are different in subtle ways. Understanding these difference can give you greater insight into what you are really paying when it comes to your various debts.

APR vs. Interest Rate with Your Mortgage

The interest rate is the nominal cost, expressed as a percentage, of borrowing money. Your mortgage rate is just the number used to let you know how much the loan will cost. However, the interest rate you are quoted on your mortgage doesn’t usually include all of the fees and other costs associated with your loan.

With a mortgage, you want to be more concerned about the annual percentage rate (APR). The APR on a mortgage is a broad expression of the total annualized cost of borrowing the money. Included in the APR are your points, closing costs, broker fees, and other costs as well as your interest rate. The APR is more inclusive.

The government has laws governing how the APR is determined, and this is the number you should look at when comparing different mortgage terms. You do need to be careful about comparing adjustable-rate loans, though. The APRs on adjustable-rate loans won’t reflect future changes, so it’s important to understand what could happen in the future with an adjustable-rate loan. In many cases, it makes more sense to stick with a fixed-rate mortgage so you always know what to expect.

Since the APR on a mortgage includes several other costs, it should be higher than the loan’s interest rate. The only way this wouldn’t be the case is if the lender is rebating some of your expenses. Make sure to ask questions if you see something that doesn’t seem quite right.

How a Financial Planner and Her Husband Manage Their Debt


The author of this post is Ann Arceo, a guest contributor to the ReadyForZero Blog.

As a financial planner, I definitely feel the pressure to make sure my husband and I keep our finances in tiptop shape. I want to “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk,” but I must admit that following my own advice hasn’t always been easy. Even though now my husband and I don’t carry much debt and we normally pay off our credit cards each month, we didn’t start off our marriage debt free. I came into the marriage with student loans and a balance on my credit card, and deciding as a team how to pay back what I owed wasn’t easy.

Will A Day Come When Our Entire Daily Lives Are Scored?


Scoring can be a double-edged sword. It’s useful for the scorer because it allows them to evaluate how much a person has learned or how well they’ve done – and it can be used as a predictor for future behavior. We see this in test scores in the classroom, scores in competitions, and credit scores that allow a lender to determine the creditworthiness of a borrower.

While not always fun, scores can be useful to the person being scored as well. If we ever want to improve at anything, we need a baseline – a starting point – to help us evaluate our growth as time goes on. And seeing low scores in specific areas shows us exactly what we need to focus on. Bonus: for the competitive-natured, scores are a great tool for motivation to improve.

But the disadvantage of scoring can get in the way of any true evaluation (for the scorer) and improvement (for the person being scored):

The knowledge that we’re being scored can cause us to focus more on the score than the skill.

It happens with credit scores as many worry more about their score than their actual financial health, with students who are forced to learn for tests if they want to succeed instead of truly learning the material, and now it might be happening for drivers too. The question is, with our societal focus on scores (whether that focus be good or bad), are we nearing a time when our entire daily lives are saved as data and scored?

What Happens If I Lose My Job?


There are few things in life that can make your heart plummet to your gut quicker than sudden job loss. One day you’re trucking along, making all kinds of financial plans, and the next day everything grinds to a halt. And if you were struggling financially to begin with, then this halt in pay can be terrifying.

The worst part is, no matter the reason for the job loss, it’s nearly impossible to not feel like a failure when it happens.

If you’ve recently lost your job, don’t let the feeling of failure overcome you. Sudden job loss happens to everyone. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find an adult who hasn’t been through it at least once in their lives. (I know I have!)

Those who get through this are the ones who take the bull by the horns and act fast. So before any negative feelings get you down, make a plan so you can get back and at ‘em in no time. Here’s how:

1. See if You Qualify for Unemployment

The first thing you should do is find out if you qualify for unemployment. While unemployment won’t fully cover your previous income, it will at least give you something while you search for a new job. The U.S. Department of Labor is a great place to start, so follow these steps to find out if you qualify and how to file a claim:

1) Go to this page and scroll down to “Filing a Claim”
2) After that, you should see this link to view qualifications by state. You’ll then see a map:

3) Click on your state and then find the link that tells you how to file a “UI” claim.

Once you file for unemployment, remain mindful of the requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to receive and continue receiving unemployment. For example, you may need to show proof of having applied for a certain amount of jobs per week. Be diligent about this process or you could lose this aid.

How Long Does a Bad Mark Stay On Your Credit Report?


Did you cringe the last time you downloaded your free annual credit reports? Or perhaps you don’t even want to look at them because you don’t want to be reminded of the financial and personal messes that have shown up?

There’s hope for you yet, because bad marks on your credit report do not last forever. While the average length of time is 7 years, how long your bad mark will stay on your specific credit report depends on a variety of factors such as the type of mark it is.

Since credit scores and credit reports are used in everything from potential landlords determining your reliability to your new employer checking up on you, it’s important that you get an idea of when your bad marks will be erased from your report.

Let’s take a look.

Optimization, Education, and Getting In Touch With Your Emotions: Our Best Posts from July

Roadside flower

You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite things… or nothing at all, depending on what kind of things you’re talking about. Being the organizational wizard that I am, I love lists and that seems to lend itself to having a favorite for everything. For instance, my favorite color is purple, my favorite season is Summer, and my favorite month is August. Why? And what do these things say about me? I have no idea.

But, before I harken to my great love for August – even though it signifies a near end to my favorite season (at least Fall is my second favorite season…) – let’s talk about some great things that happened in July! More specifically, let’s talk about the best posts (dare I say some of our favorites?) from July 2014!

Topics We’re Talking About: Facing Your Financial Fears


I come from a long family lineage of “worriers”. My mom was a total nail biter. My grandfather worried over every little detail. When I was a little kid I used to stay up at night fretting over impending visits to the dentist – even if the next appointment was 6 months away. To sum up, I’m no stranger to anxiety. When it comes to financial worry, I’ll be the first to admit I experience gut-dropping panic when things don’t go according to plan. I also know I’m not alone.

Everyone worries about their finances at one point or another. In many ways, money fret is a perpetual fact of life. In many cases, financial matters aren’t a concern on your radar… until they are.  And then they really set up shop in your mind. That being said, there’s a difference between feeling concerned and feeling paralyzed by anxiety. Especially when we feel like we can’t get a financial break. The best thing we can do to move forward towards success is face our worries and acknowledge that no one is immune to occasional financial upsets, big or small. Parking tickets. Medical debt. Unemployment. These are legitimate reasons to feel upset. But don’t let your financial worry trigger flight. It’s time to fight the fret!

An Education in Transparency: Schools Under Pressure to Disclose Details Behind Financial Products Marketed On Campus

college quad

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently published a stern warning to the top universities in the country. The subject of their concern? Lack of transparency on how and why financial products are vended on college campuses. Specifically, the CFPB is focused on requiring schools to reveal details behind the relationships colleges have with financial institutions who are marketing financial products to students.

The issue at hand isn’t new… financial institutions have long been setting up stands to market their services on college campuses. But imagine a college freshman wandering the quad for the first time only to be pulled aside and offered free pizza and what appears to be quick money or a financial deal. Promises like “cash rewards,” “financial freedom”, and “spending flexibility” are thrown around by a convincing salesperson. On top of that, a school’s logo is plastered on the shiny new prepaid card or credit card, immediately inciting a feeling of school loyalty and spirit. The temptation becomes is very real regardless of the actual benefit these offers give the student.

Young students are far from incapable of dealing with financial concerns, but at the same time it shouldn’t be ignored that many are only just beginning their independent financial lives. That students are being placed in the line of financial temptation on their campus is an increasing concern. Luckily, it’s an alarm the CFPB isn’t letting escape its attention.