Straight Talk, Frugality, and Focusing on the Positive: Our Best Posts of September

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The leaves are changing, the weather is turning, kids are back in school…Fall is officially here. And with Fall tends to come new beginnings – is it possible following a school calendar early in our lives leaves it mark well into adulthood?

There are many changes Fall brings besides the weather, most notably the realization that holiday season is nearly upon us and soon to follow is a new year. Problem is, by the time many of us start preparing for the new year, it’s almost too late. So let’s talk about how to get a head start now! Here are some posts from September to help.

How I’m Planning to Get Ahead of Graduate School Debt

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This is a guest post by Kaitlin Butler.

Even though I’m not yet in grad school, I’m already “ready for zero” – like other readers of this blog, I am looking forward to being completely debt-free. In fact, I am debt-free now, but I’m considering pursuing a graduate degree in the next year or two, and if I do, I’ll be on the hook for the bill. This will probably mean tens of thousands of dollars in student loans – no small investment, especially so early in my career.

I’m looking to minimize the cost of my education by getting ahead and identifying my best financing options. One bonus of working at a student lending startup is that I’ve learned a great deal from my teammates at CommonBond about the nitty gritty details of student loans and about how they financed their own educations. Whether you’re looking for graduate school loans or trying to pay them off, I’d like to share my plan of attack for maximizing my investment in my education a few years down the line.

MoneyBuzz Ep. 002: Tool Time For Your Finances, An Interview With Paula Pant of Afford Anything

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Personal finance doesn’t always come with directions. I know… it’s a bummer, right? But there’s some good news to that reality check – you can learn! You can get help! You can utilize resources! You can create the kind of life you want to lead.

Enter: Paula Pant of the blog Afford Anything.

In Ep 2. of MoneyBuzz

For this week’s episode, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Paula to chat about her financial mission, from earning passive income to crafting a career outside the 9-5 trudge.

What did we learn from Paula Pant? Oh, just pretty much how to be awesome.

Not only is is she living proof that it’s possible to break free from the social constructs that may be holding you back (financial and otherwise), she’s on a mission to help her readers collect the tools, confidence, and motivation to do the same.

She had so many quotables it was all I could do not to transcribe the entire audio interview right here for you. We’ve already geeked out over her phenomenal blog but after meeting her, listening to her lovely radio-ready voice, and collecting “ooooh” after “ahhh” in response to her wisdom, we can share with full confidence that she’s the coolest.

Plus, we learned her spirit animal (hint: it goes roar).

Lending Club Vs. Prosper: Which is Best for Debt Consolidation?

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When someone talks about Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending in the United States, they often are referring to one of two companies dominating the industry: Lending Club or Prosper. Both have been officially registered with the Securities Exchange Commission, and both have loaned over $1 billion each to borrowers around the country.

Impressive, right? But even if you’ve decided that it makes sense to consolidate your debt, how do you know which company is right for you?

How I Rocked My Job Hunt (And How You Can Too)

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As an English major from UC Santa Cruz, I’m no stranger to looks of pity. Creative writing isn’t exactly a major known for its promise of job security and despite my best efforts to prove everyone wrong, my job hunt post college wasn’t doing much to help my case. As in, I wasn’t exactly drowning in job offers. When I mentioned the challenges I faced, I usually received one of two responses:

That’s what happens when you choose humanities.
or
Do what you love – you’ll get there.

It seemed like it always came down to two extremes – excessive pessimism or excessive optimism. The feedback was conflicting, to say the least, and rarely did I find the kind of balanced guidance I was hoping for. But eventually, I realized that was part of the problem. I was waiting and hoping for someone to tell me what to do instead of actually doing it myself. Realizing that fact was a game changer. If I was to make any headway I had to take action on any advice I received rather than just waiting patiently for the secret sauce.

Ultimately, I did finally hit my stride but that’s not to say it was easy. The process itself was full of trial and error and there were plenty of downs along with the ups. But with hard work and focus, I managed to transform the job hunt into something that left me feeling excited by opportunity rather than defeated by the challenges.

Here are some of the most useful lessons I took away and how they helped me to refocus (and rock) the job hunt:

How Long Does a Delinquency Stay On My Credit Report?

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When life gets crazy, it can be hard to keep track of payments, and occasionally one slips through the cracks. At the same time, despite our best intentions, we sometimes find ourselves unable to make a payment for financial reasons. No matter what the cause, a delinquent payment is never fun for a borrower to deal with. First, you have to deal with the inquiries from your creditor, and second you have to deal with the impact on your credit score.

But how exactly does a delinquency affect your credit score? And how long does a delinquency stay on your credit report? These are important questions, and they’re also ones we get asked about frequently, so we’ll do our best to answer them below:

Rate Chasing, Babysitting Rings, and More! 23 Ways to Save Money Today

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We all want to have a bigger savings account, and it’s not hard to understand why. Having a significant amount of savings in the bank can be the difference between having to use credit to pay for unexpected expenses and being able to deal with them while avoiding debt. It also gives you the chance to pay for planned expenses smoothly. But building up that savings account is not easy, is it? It takes time and dedication, not to mention a bit of creativity and grit. For anyone who wants to funnel more of their paycheck into their savings account, we wanted to share some tips for making it happen.

So let’s get to it! Here are 23 ways to grow your savings faster:

Topics We’re Talking About: Ack! Well… That Was Unexpected

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“Ack!”

That’s generally the first sound to escape my mouth when I’m faced with the unexpected. Beyond sounding like a certain cartoon, the involuntary exclamation also usually indicates I’m about to face two options:

  1. Get upset
  2. Process and act with a level-head

While I’d like to say I always react with the latter, that’s not always the case. I’m more than susceptible to getting all sorts of frantic and upset when faced with unexpected bumps in the road. While I wouldn’t call myself a control-freak, I do love a good plan. When unforeseen challenges threaten to upset the carefully laid out structure of my plans? Well…  I’m apt to feel the pressure.

That being said, when I actively recognize that I have the choice to take a deep breath and assess before taking action, I have a far better chance of keeping my head straight in the face of the unexpected. It’s when I exercise that choice over my reaction that I can direct the moment from “Aww, maaaaaaan” to “I’ve got this”.

When I run into ack-inducing moments and it feels as if all is spinning out of control, I try to remember and implement a very simple lesson: Sometimes life surprises you… it’s how you react to that unexpected occurrence that  ultimately defines how it will impact your life.

Keeping in theme, here are some top tips from around the web to help you face the unexpected while keeping your wits about you!

What Are the Best Savings Accounts?

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Had you asked me what my saving strategy was a few years ago, I’d probably have told you all about my “strategic” approach of opting in for direct deposit.

Since my paycheck went directly into my checking account, there it stayed… only to be drained as the month went on.  My general thought on the matter was that as long as I didn’t dive into the red, I was doin’ just fine. In other words, I didn’t have a saving strategy. My checking account was my total financial barometer.

A few years later when I began adding student loan debt bills to my financial todo list, I started noticing how much more quickly I crept towards zero sum in my checking account each month. While I found it a little alarming, I wasn’t too put off (like I said, as long as I didn’t overdraw I felt OK)… UNTIL I was faced with expenses that my checking account couldn’t handle. That’s right, I came up against the dreaded “unexpected emergency” and I had very little to cover the resulting bill.

Though I was able to squeak by with a little luck and paycheck rearrangement, I learned an important lesson: I liked having a financial cushion in my life.

It made me realize that I liked having something other than credit to break my fall if and when I needed it. Essentially, my experience with facing a large unexpected expense demonstrated the merits of having an emergency fund.

So I investigated my options. I knew I didn’t want to store my money in a place that had little to no return but I also didn’t want to put it in an account that would prevent me from accessing my money should I need it.

Enter: the savings account.

ReadyForZero PLUS Credit Now Shows Credit Scoring Factors!

» Try ReadyForZero PLUS Credit Now

There are a few numbers that probably standout in your financial world. Your bank account balance for one. Maybe your savings or amount of debt. But one number that pops up time and time again is the ever ubiquitous credit score.

As you probably know, your credit score is a number that carries quite a bit of heft in your finances but one that’s not always exactly transparent. While not exactly a mystery number (they’re often created from a basic formula as you’ll see below), a great deal of confusion continues to circulate over exactly which factors impact a credit score and what these factors mean for your full financial picture.

That’s exactly why ReadyForZero is extremely excited (and I mean disco ball dance excited) to announce the addition of credit scoring factors to ReadyForZero PLUS Credit.