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.

36 Creative Ways to Entertain on a Budget

croquetred

To be honest, when I was first tasked with thinking of 36 ways to entertain on a budget, I immediately adjusted the number in my head. I mean, I could think of 10 easy – but 36? Psh, it’s not like I’m that cool. I gave myself some wiggle room and decided, I’ll just see what I can come up with… then edit the number later. Luckily, I came to my senses and kicked myself in the butt – if I couldn’t brainstorm 36 different ways to have fun, I clearly needed more fun in my life. So brainstorm I did! And guess what? You can read on for 36 tips.

I’ll warn you – we are going to get a little creative here. Some of these ideas might sound a little “out there”. But that’s the point! Creativity is the basis for some of the best cheap and free entertainment. Just think of all the things you did as a kid, or the ways that people entertained before the time of mass media… they had to get a little weird.

So prepare yourself and get into that whimsical mental state. These kinds of things are what keep life interesting!

What Is a Good Credit Score to Buy a Car?

blue cars

You’ve likely heard the doom-and-gloom talk about how lenders have put loans on a much tighter leash in our post-recession economy. And it’s true; lenders are no longer giving out a loan to any old person with a government-issued ID and a smile.

So what does this mean for you if you are in the car-buying market? How will you know if you are likely to receive financing or not?

Let’s take a look at what will likely determine whether or not you can source a car loan.

How to Get Out of Credit Card Debt

jumpingdune

Recent data from the Federal Reserve indicates that the balances on credit cards in the United States increased by $11 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013. Even though the research indicates that many consumers are comfortable with borrowing again, there are some consumers who are more interested in paying down their high interest credit card debt.

One of the big problems with credit card debt is the amount of interest that you pay. That’s money going straight into someone else’s pocket — and not providing you with anything in return. However, paying off that credit card debt can be difficult because of those high rates of interest. Without a good plan, you can spend too much of your money on interest, and not enough reducing your actual debt.

Medical Debt Takes Back Seat in New FICO Credit Score

nurses

Come Fall 2014, you could notice a boost to your credit score. FICO recently released news of an update to their credit score model which would soften the blow of medical debt on consumers’ scores. Collection & Credit Risk reports that the change comes at a time “when medical debt accounts for nearly half of all unpaid collections on consumers’ credit reports.” Facing both high (and often unexpected) medical debt alongside a lowered credit score has been an ongoing financial struggle for millions.

A + B = Delicious: Easy Lunch Templates For The Busy Professional

quinoa

We all know we should do it, but let’s not lie… making lunch every single day can get a tad monotonous. When you’re faced with other tasks that require your free moments (laundry… why must you be so perpetual), or when it seems like you don’t even have free moments at all – lunch prep takes a back seat.

I’ve found that, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, one of the biggest mental barriers in making lunch (or any meal for that matter) is the recipe factor. Yes, recipes exist to help you stay on track with your culinary adventure but I also often find them to be a bit overwhelming. Even the easy ones tend to have multiple steps and/or a substantial ingredient list. I’m all for making a meal I can pack up every day of the week, but when I’m already tired and cranky even salt and pepper seem to challenge my cooking capacity. On top of that, there are just so very many recipes to choose from. It’s overwhelming on top of overwhelming.

5 Money Mistakes To Avoid In Your 20′s (So You Can Prosper In Your 30′s)

sunset

This is a guest post by Charles Tran.

When you’re a twentysomething, long-term financial planning is often not a high priority. Fresh out of college, the future can seem so remote and uninteresting. Everything is all about the moment, the here-and-now, the Friday nights with friends and the Saturday nights with your significant other. Tabs at the bar and swipes of the credit card are quick decisions, and are often not thought of again until the bill comes.

Unfortunately, those good times do come to an end eventually. By the time you hit the 30s, a decade of unfocused financial habits can start to take its toll.

That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. (And really, whatever decade you’re on, you can take action to improve your situation so that the later version of yourself doesn’t get overwhelmed). In that spirit, here are a few mistakes to avoid in your 20’s so you can prosper in your 30’s.

Focus on Your Financial Pain Points to Better Organize Your Priorities

daisy

Rarely does a day go by when I don’t think to myself, “There’s so much to do!” I’m pretty much always on the brink of total schedule failure and it only seems to get worse as I get older. Feel my pain?

In that type of mood, I had a funny moment the other day when I said the phrase, “Jack of all trades,” to my husband. He laughingly replied, “Yeah, but do you know the second half?”

Second half? All my life I’ve been saying that and I didn’t even know there was more to the story. So I asked him to enlighten me.

“Jack of all trades. Master of none.”

Well. That certainly changes the meaning – and it sure isn’t what I was thinking all along. I thought about it a bit more and realized that, as a society, we seemed to have perfected the lifestyle of doing everything and feeling focused on nothing. We count our accomplishments rarely by how well we do, but instead by how much we do. The problem has become even more pervasive for women as we’re told we’re supposed to want to “have it all”, whatever that means.

So it should come as no surprise that many of us feel that our focus in life is splintered by all the things we have to do to remain afloat – and our personal finances are a big part of it! No matter who you are or how much money you make, there’s so much to do to become and remain financially healthy. Maintain a budget, pay off debt, build an emergency fund, save for retirement, invest…the list goes on and on. But without having unlimited funds, how is it possible to allocate money to all of these things? And where do we even start??

Topics We’re Talking About: Keeping Your Change (and Dollar Bills)

coins

Hello, ReadyForZero readers and happy Friday to you! This week, we’re talking about: keeping your hard earned change (and cash).

You see, the most magical thing happened to me the other day. I reached into my back pocket and found a $20 bill that I had completely forgotten about. Over the weekend I’d taken out some “just in case” cash but didn’t end up using it. Then life happened and the cash slipped my mind. Lo and behold, a week later I discovered the tiny windfall!

At that moment I was faced with one of two options: redirect the money into savings or spend it. After momentarily entertaining the thought of a $20 donut splurge, I deposited the cash back into my bank. Sure, the thought of spending money was tempting but finding that bill was also akin to giving my bank account a bump! Even though it was money that was already mine, keeping it almost felt like I was paying myself. And that felt good!

APR Hikes Loom, Furthers Incentive To Pay Debt Off Faster

spiral

As if we needed another reason to kick debt to the curb, there’s rumbling in the market that a hike in the federal funds rate (and thus too the prime rate) could be coming. That would lead to higher monthly payments for anyone with variable interest rates on their debt. Higher monthly payments = less of your monthly payment going to the principal balance. Less principal balance paid down each month = a longer debt repayment period.

So when’s the new rate coming? And what exactly could it end up costing you? Read on to find out.