Tips to Eliminate Cred Card Debts

Do you dream of being debt free? Being free from debt is what most of the owners of the credit cards dream of. It might seem very easy to achieve, but in reality it is not a simple task. Once  you face the debts, you actually get to know about the challenges and difficulties.
How can you eliminate or get rid of the credit card debts?It is no doubt very difficult to eliminate credit card debts, but it is not impossible at all. Let us find out the tips to eliminate credit card debts.

If you really want to come out of your debts, you have to stop using your credit cards. The debit card is an alternative option as it will help you to purchase within your limited budget. If you continue purchasing with your credit cards, you can never come out from the piles of debts. This step needs to be taken very seriously and applied as well.
When you are struggling to get rid of your credit card debts, you have to cut down your expenses on unnecessary things. Do you need to go out for having coffee or lunch every day? You have to get rid of this luxury lifestyle if you want to eliminate the credit card debts seriously.
There are several banks and financial companies that provide debt consolidation loans to pay off your credit card debts. But you have to be cautious and careful that nothing is being charged to your credit card. Instead of paying off your debt you should not get trapped into deeper financial crisis. Maintaining cautiousness and being careful is necessary.
When you are trapped under the debris of debts, try to make an extra payment in the months when you can afford it. This way you can get rid of your credit card debts faster. But unfortunately the majority of the people makes the minimum payment on their credit cards and have to walk with the debts for a longer period of time.

Take immediate actions to come out of debts
When you have made up your mind to pay off all your credit card debts, try saving money from now and start repaying it. In case you don’t take some serious actions for consolidating your debts and refinancing your mortgage debt, it will be a difficult situation in the future, when you might want to seek loans for buying a new car or constructing your dream home.
Click here for more information on credit and debt issues.

What do you Know About Credit Card Debt Settlement?

Are you going bankrupt and ready to face financial penalties? All this because of your credit card debts? There has to be a solution to it. Consult an expert and seek the advices and come out of the mess. Do you have heaps of debt on your credit card?
How about considering a credit card debt settlement?
You don’t want to go bankrupt and visit the courts due to the condition, right? This is the time when you should consider for a credit card debt settlement. This is perhaps the best option that can help you out of the debt and you don’t have to face any penalties as well due to bankruptcy.What do you know about this settlement?
Credit cards debt settlements are basically the type of negotiations in which there is a bargain between you and the creditors in respect to the amount of debt that you need to repay within a stipulated period of time frame. Usually, in the settlement, you have to agree on paying a certain portion of the underlying balance (varies from 40% to 60%). Thus, the creditor will also agree to free you from all kinds of debts that you are burdened with. This is definitely a legal paper based settlement.
Whom does it work best for?
It is said that such a negotiation works best for those individuals who are burdened with the debt, known as credit treadmill. This situation arises when you have a high amount of outstanding balance that you are unable to pay off. Henceforth, you get struck with the minimum monthly interest payments that piles up and makes  huge debt on your part. Either bankruptcy or debt settlement are the two options available for such sufferers. But professional service providers can be of great help in solving the problems.
Seeking for a professional help is a good option
The credit card debt settlement becomes all the more challenging when the economy is undergoing a downturn and jobs are really hard to find. This makes the mortgage debt ridden people stuck with the monthly interest payments that they are unable to afford. Debt settlement is necessary if you want to avoid bankruptcy and other financial penalties issued by the legal forces. There are service providers that can take care of the whole situation in a very seamless manner. You should definitely seek the help of the professional experts in such situations and come out of the mess that can put you in some real dangers.
Click here for more information on credit and debt services.
 

Benefits of Debt Consolidation

Are you financially doomed under the heaps of personal debt? Have you adopted a number of ways and means to free yourself from it? What about the success rate? It is a very well known fact that the debt consolidation loans are one of the effective and reliable ways of coming out from the hassles of much of financial obligation. 
What are the Benefits of Loan Consolidation? 

It will significantly lower the monthly installments that you need to pay.
You can avail the opportunity to receive better interest rates.
Since this involves automated payments, there is no scope of late payments that involve extra charges. 
You won’t have the stress and tension with the calls from your creditors. Gradually you will clear up all of your liabilities one by one and you can be free from all sorts of tensions involving mortgage debt. 
This involves better management and planning with your money that is extremely beneficial for your future. 
These are some of the primary reasons why you must opt for such loans as they have the capacity to handle with all kinds of monetary related issues in the best possible manner and help you to get rid or eliminate the financial troubles that have been harassing you for so long. 

Get the Advice and Guidance from a Professional Service Provider
Your life can become smoother and simpler if you hire a professional specialist to handle such issues. Why should you bother with all these and make your life worse? Let a qualified, trained and professional specialist handle the situation and assist you with the correct decisions.
Whether you have debts with your car, home and education loans or issues with credit cards it is vital that a reliable and efficient service provider deal with the situation and help you to lead a worry free life. 
Picking the Right Debt Consolidation Service is Essential
If you want everything to be conducted in a smooth and flawless manner without any obstructions, it is essential that you seek the assistance only from authentic and reliable professionals. Since the market is flooded with tons of such providers, there is every chance that you might bump into an unworthy candidate who has no knowledge about dealing with debt situations.
Thus, it is important to choose the right service provider who can guide you to come out of the financial mess. 
Click here for more information on credit and debt issues!

How To Eliminate Debt With A Personal Budget

It is a shame that youngsters are not taught more about how to construct a personal budget in the education system. This is a life skill that one should know more about because it can obviously help you on a daily basis and avoid personal debt which accumulates really quickly.
In saying that, it is not difficult to get into a habit of planning your own budget. When you know how much you have spent on a monthly basis, you will be able to see where the money is going and how you can rectify certain situations, depending on your income.These days, personal debt is on the rise, and one only realizes that they have a problem on their hands when they have a financial crisis on their hands. It especially relates to these economic times, where jobs are less stable. It will obviously make the repayment plan a lot more tricky when you are out of work.
A personal budget should consist of a balance between what you are earning and the expenses. Most families go wrong by spending more than what they earn, and this is where personal debt comes into play. One also has to decide on what you want your budget to consist of. In the ideal world, one should look at funds for the future. A repayment plan may need to be compiled, according to your lifestyle and the amount of debt you find yourself in.
A budget should be drawn up for the home, relating to basic expenses such as loans, taxes, insurance and health care. This should also include your daily needs, such as groceries, transport and your lifestyle. Income not only relates to the big pay check, but also the various refunds and bonuses that you may receive.
Once you get used to a budget like this, you will start to see how you can save even more. Over a space of a couple of years you will start to see what you have accomplished, and this is another thing to look forward to. In saying that, one can’t let the budget take over your life. Quality of life is just as important, and this type of balance is something that you have to achieve. Eliminating the stress is obviously important.
There are a variety of programs that you can use to create a budget that is right for you. Some of them will give you a more detailed plan, and others are more basic. You can download apps which are great to take note of what you have spent on a daily basis. You can use a program like excel or another software package which has been designed for budgeting specifically.

Last summer of Freedom? Not From Your Debt!

Alright, summer is officially here, graduation parties are over, the congratulations of relatives are beginning to fade and you are ready for your last summer of freedom. Sounds great, but recent college grads with personal debt to finance their future careers can’t really afford an “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude.
Along with sun and beaches needs to be careful consideration of the proper way to approach student loan relief or student loan consolidation. This process may take longer than many might expect, unless of course you’re expecting the President to pay for it. Note the sarcasm? Yes you can’t rely on the Obama Student Loan Relief program, because it’s an urban myth.So now you’ve accomplished one task already; crossing the Obama Student Loan Relief idea off your list.
Then what? Well as the past decade has shown personal debt is not something not to be taken lightly. You need to formulate some actions steps now to address your concerns or hopes for student loan consolidation or discover if student loan relief is truly a viable option.
You need to align yourself with a qualified personal debt counselor. Uncle Jerry may have made a bundle, and Grandma has your best interests at heart but unless they head the IRS, they may not be the most qualified on the latest ever changing regulations and programs for student loan consolidation. Do your research and find the right person for you, because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are over 30- thousand credit counselors actively working in the U.S. today as the issues surrounding personal debt continue to spiral and confound the average consumer.
Once you are able to make a connection with one of these qualified credit counselors, then you may actually qualify for student loan relief, though it won’t happen overnight.
These are limited to certain incomes and careers. The federal government does offer a Pay As You Earn option if your student loan monthly payments are in excess of 10% of your expendable income. If you’re headed for a teaching position you may qualify for a teacher loan forgiveness after working for 5-years in an impoverished elementary or secondary school. Additionally careers in public service or the nonprofit sector may be more desirable as there are options there for student loan relief. Some of these government sponsored programs will forgive up to 100% of your personal debt from student loans after five years of service or wipe the slate the completely clean after 10-years in a specified position.
Some things to think about as you enjoy perhaps your last summer of freedom but keep in mind learning how to properly deal with a personal budget now will give you a lifetime of freedom.

4 Questions You Should Ask Before Deciding on Graduate School

So you have a bachelor’s degree, but you’re wondering what comes next. Maybe you want to unlock the door to your dream job. Maybe you’re ready for a promotion and a raise. Or maybe you think the job market is still too weak in your field. There are lots of reasons to consider a graduate degree, but be financially wise about it. Here are four questions you should ask when making this important – and potentially costly – decision.
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1. Do I need a graduate degree for my career?
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The first thing to ask is whether your dream job even requires a graduate degree in the first place. Doctors, of course, have to attend medical school, lawyers _almost _always have to grind through law school (though legal apprenticeships are allowable in some jurisdictions), and top-notch academics generally have PhD’s. But, for many high level jobs, graduate degrees aren’t needed, and relevant work experience can be just as good.
We crunched some federal labor market data on management occupations (which are generally the highest paying jobs) to show you just how wide the differences are across industries. If your career is in education or health, you may want to seriously consider grad school to advance: 36 percent of managers have a master’s degree or above. It’s different in the hospitality industry, where only 7 percent of managers have been to grad school. Of course, the numbers are just the beginning of the story, and even within industries the needs vary widely. So do your homework, including talking with people in your industry who can attest to a degree’s value, and figure out what the norm is for your career.
2. Will graduate school give me a salary bump?######
Next, ask yourself how a graduate degree will likely impact your salary after graduation. Again, every situation is unique, but we recut the federal labor market data to show you a typical “salary bump” from an advanced degree. If you work in government or health services, having an advanced degree can open up jobs that pay you 50 per cent more. For all you urban farmers out there, be mindful that your graduate work on Socrates doesn’t necessarily make you a successful avocado grower: the typical advanced degree holder in agriculture takes jobs that pay less. So don’t assume graduate school will always translate into a huge — or immediate — raise.
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3. What does graduate school cost – both in money and time?######
Many students rush to graduate school for the benefits – but make sure you carefully understand the costs too. Obviously there’s tuition (may range from $30k all the way up to $120k!), books, fees, and in some cases the room/board that you otherwise wouldn’t be paying. But there’s also what you give up to attend (what economists call opportunity costs): your old salary and career advancement. If you have to take out student loans to finance your education, these add interest costs and could impact your credit after school. Of course, you can lower the burden of these costs with scholarships, fellowships, and working in school.
Working while getting your graduate degree may mean you’ll be in school longer, and not every institution offers evening and weekend classes, but they don’t involve sacrificing salary or career advancement. Some companies may even set aside financial assistance for employees going to school; it never hurts to ask your HR department.
Think hard also about the length of your desired degree and the number of years you plan to work after graduating. A typical master’s is two years, while the typical PhD is around seven years. So even if a doctorate gives you a bigger weekly salary bump (which it doesn’t always), you still might make more over your whole career with a master’s because you spent less time in school. For similar reasons, you should investigate programs that meet on nights and weekends, letting you earn a regular salary and make progress to an advanced degree. Financially, this might be the better choice.
4. Are there better alternatives?######
Today, there are many alternatives to traditional grad school. If you explore these routes, consider their unique risks. Be particularly careful with for-profit universities or for-profit companies. Some are pioneering the future of education, and some are just making a quick buck.
A fast growing option is the online degree, many now offered by accredited and prestigious institutions. An online degree could give you the flexibility to earn credits while in school or taking care of a loved one. But also consider that you won’t get all of the benefits of in-person study groups, on-campus research facilities, and the ability to network with classmates. Taking classes online is also a different learning dynamic than in-person and may not be right for everyone.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) through sites like Coursera or edX are often low-cost and taught by faculty from top universities. These sites have also begun to offer certificates in specialized fields, which may be useful in demonstrating command of specific skills (such as a programming language). But so far these credentials aren’t really equivalent to a comprehensive graduate degree, and there isn’t reliable data yet if they affect your salary or your career advancement.
Skill-based boot camps are intense, on-site, 8-12 week programs that help you learn a discrete skill (particularly coding) fast. If you’re thinking about graduate school through the lens of _changing _careers then a boot camp may make sense, though understand that they are predominantly for-profit and still largely unregulated.
It may also pay off more to build up your portfolio of work on sites like Dribble, Github, or a personal blog. To some employers, especially in startups, real projects speak more than fancy degrees. Your personal projects also let you explore your passions, and passion can push many people to learn more than the fear of a bad grade.
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There are many reasons to go to graduate school – professional, intellectual, personal, etc. But whatever motivates you, a careful, clear-eyed weighing of the financial costs and benefits should be part of your decision.
 
Shouvik Banerjee is the Founder and CEO of AverPoint, a platform to bring crowd-verified evidence into editorial and marketing content. AverPoint’s mission is to empower authentic, evidence-driven brands like Mint.com give individuals the information to make better choices.

Cost of Living in Major Metro Areas

There are multitude of reasons why you may decide to move from one city to another. Maybe you just landed a sweet high-paying job after graduating college or you’ve done the research and decided that moving would be a better option for starting your own business.
While it would be great to just pick-up and go, it’s not always that easy in real life. You could potentially move to a new location that is too expensive for you to live in. Can you live your ideal life in New York City if you’re only bringing in $50,000 a year? It would definitely be a challenge.To give you a better idea of the cost of living across the country, here are the twenty-five largest metro areas, ranked by population size, in the U.S. and a glimpse of how much it takes to live there.
25. Nashville-Davidson, TNThe cost of living in Tennessee’s state capital is s 0.80% lower than the U.S. average. A one bedroom apartment in the city center averages $1,343.40 per month, with utilities at around $130. If you were to have a three course meal at a mid-range restaurant, it would cost you about $50 for two people.
24. Washington D.C.Living in the nation’s capital isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive areas to live in the country, especially when it comes to public transportation and necessities. A 900 square foot apartment could cost you more than $2,000 per month, on top of $166 for utilities. Want to eat out for lunch? Expect to pay $13 for a basic meal.
23. Denver, COA one bedroom apartment in Denver could set you back around $1,500 per month, which is slightly higher than the national average. Utilities are around $130 and the cost of eating out for two people averages $60. If you’re active, expect to pay more for athletic shoes than the rest of country.
22. Seattle, WAResiding in the Great Northwest can get pricey. Monthly apartment rentals can range from $1,612 to $2,278. Prices for utilities are around $133/month. It’s worth noting, Seattle has some of the highest prices in the country for men’s haircuts and local cheeses.
21. Boston, MADepending on which section of Bean Town you live, monthly rent can be anywhere from $1,600 to $2,600. Utilities are around $145 and going out on the town isn’t overpriced, $65 for a meal for two. But, you can expect to pay higher prices on groceries like tomatoes and imported beer.
20. Memphis, TNMemphis is one of the more affordable places to live in the country, it’s actually 14.3 percent lower than the national average. Home prices average around $180,375, with the average two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartment going for $726 a month. However, grocery shopping can get pricey depending on the area. For example, a pound of ground beef costs $2.60.
19. El Paso, TXFor such a large metro area, the cost of living in El Paso isn’t too shabby. Rent for an apartment in the most expensive part of town is around $1,000. The price of clothing, gas, and even the internet are more affordable than most other areas – $35 for a pair of Levis, for example.
18. Detroit, MIWith prices ranging between $850 to $1,250, Motor City does offer some of the most reasonable apartment and home prices in the country. However, utilities are extremely high – over $250/month. That is outweighed though with the low cost of entertainment ($35 for a dinner for two), shopping ($39 for a pair of jeans), and just $27 for a monthly membership to a fitness club.
17. Charlotte, NCYou can find a place to rent in Charlotte between $750 to $1,600. While the cost of men’s haircuts, and potatoes, are more expensive than other areas in the country, Charlotte has some of the lowest prices for cleaning services and beer prices at local pubs.
16. Fort Worth, TXRenting a place in Fort Worth can range from $860 to $2,000 per month. Utilities are on the lower side, $123/month, as are one-way tickets for local transportation ($5) and dinner for two ($35).
15. Columbus, OHHousing prices in Ohio’s state capital (also the largest city in the state) run between $863 to $1,600. While cleaning services are some of the highest in the country, flat screen TVs are some of the cheapest ($304 for a 40”), as are beer prices in the local bars.
14. San Francisco, CASan Francisco is crazy expensive. In fact, the total cost of living in San Francisco is 62.6% higher than the U.S. average with home prices averaging more than $737,600. Renting a place isn’t much better since SF has the highest prices in the country: $4,650 for a two-bedroom apartment. Going to restaurants? Expect to pay $80 for a mid-range establishment. To make matters worse? Groceries and health care costs are more expensive here as well.
13. Indianapolis, INIf you enjoy working out, then you should know that Indianapolis has the cheapest gym memberships in it business district in the world. Indy also has some of the cheapest basic dining-out options in the country, around $11 for lunch. Housing ranges from just under $700 to just over $1,300 per month.
12. Jacksonville, FLThe cost of living in Jacksonville is actually 2% lower than the Florida average, as well as 8% lower than the national average. Apartment rentals can be found at around $920, a little higher than the national average, but the average mortgage payment ($878) is lower. Healthcare and utility prices are also lower than average.
11. Austin, TXLike many other metro areas, Austin has a flexible range for housing, usually from $878 to $1,880 per month. Utilities are around $179, but entertainment prices are favorable. A basic dinner for two? $37. Two tickets to the theater? $21.
10. San Jose, CAJust like its neighbor San Francisco, San Jose is ridiculously expensive. The cost of living is 16% higher than the California average and 57% higher than the national average. Groceries, housing, healthcare, and gasoline are all higher than the national average. For example, the average home price is a whopping is $575,100!
9. Dallas, TXRent per month in the Dig D can range from $820 to $1,168. Utility prices are average, around $142, as is going to a mid-range restaurant, $45 for two. One-way tickets for public transportation are low, $2.50, however a monthly pass is pricey at $80.00. On the plus, toothpaste and gas prices are among the cheapest in the country – only $1.26 for a tube of toothpaste!
8. San Diego, CAAre you surprised that the cost of living in San Diego is 44% higher than the national average, as well as 6% higher than the California average? The average of house price is more than $451,000, while monthly apartment rentals at $1,312. Transportation, healthcare, utilities, groceries, and good & services are all higher than the national average.
7. San Antonio, TXDid you know that San Antonio has the cheapest apple prices in the country at $2.34 for 2 pounds? The home of the Alamo also has the second cheapest public transportation prices in the country. On the downside, going to the theater is one of the most expensive with two tickets selling for $219. Housing prices range from $700 to $1,400 per month.
6. Phoenix, AZHousing prices in the dessert can be anywhere from $674 to $1,600 per month. Your utility bill could be pricey as well, around $180/month, but that’s expected since you’re running the air conditioner. Meals and groceries can be affordable, $50 for two people at a mid-range restaurant. Gas prices can be high, but a monthly public transportation pass costs $62.
5. Philadelphia, PAThe City of Brotherly Love can get expensive. Expect to dish out between $1,200 to $2,700 for a place to live each month. And, Philly has the third most expensive utility prices in the country on top of that. While the cuisine is some of the best country, having dinner at a nice Italian restaurant is the second most expensive in the U.S. costing an average of $119.
4. Houston, TXFor such a large metro area, you can actually stretch your money in Houston quite well. The cost of living is 11% lower than the national average. Food prices, health care, gasoline, and utilities are lower than average. You can even purchase a home for around $124,700.
3. Chicago, ILThe Windy City is a pricey area to live. In fact, ChiTown has some of the most expensive prices for jeans ($61), cappuccino ($5.19), and public transportation. Monthly rent can be anywhere from $900 to over $2,000, with utilities averaging $213.
2. Los Angeles, CASale prices on LA homes have appreciated 78.5% over the last five years. That means it would be hard to find a place to rent for under $900 per month. At least utility prices, $110, are cheaper than most other areas. Transportation is costly, gas prices are sometimes 55% more expensive than the national average. The cost of food and entertainment are also high. And, don’t get us started on the 9% sales tax.
1. New York, NYAs the largest city in the country, and such a popular tourist destination, it’s no surprise that the Big Apple is ridiculously expensive. For starters, New York has some of the most expensive housing prices that cost between $1,638 to $3,895 per month. Own a car? Expect to shell out $533 per month in parking downtown. Enjoying a meal at a modest restaurant? You’ll be spending at least $75. And, if you have any money left over, you may be able to afford to shop or enjoy a movie at $14 per ticket.
Before you move, CNN and Bankrate offer handy Cost of Living Calculators that compare your current expenses to your possible expenses in the area that you’re moving to.
Both calculators are great starting points to help you decide if it’s worth relocating or not based on factors like your salary and how much money you’ll be spending (or saving!) on housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, and health care.
 
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online payments company Due.

How to Create Your First Budget

There are many milestones of being an adult. Signing your own lease for the first time, being able to rent a car, having someone call you ma’am.
But being an adult also means being responsible for your own finances. Like many things, you can’t have a successful financial future if you don’t plan for it. The best way to do that? Create a budget.
Creating a budget can seem daunting, but it just requires a series of steps. See below for help on creating your first budget.
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Track your expenses######
Before you can start a budget full of limits, you need to know how much you’re spending right now. Take two or three months to spend normally and track your transactions in Mint.
Fixed expenses like rent, insurance and utilities will be easier to monitor than variable expenses, such as groceries, entertainment and travel, which will fluctuate month-to-month.
You should also write down what your income is. That amount will be the same every month for many people, but if you work hourly, on commission or are self-employed, tracking your income for a few months will give you a good idea of how much you take take in each month.
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Write down your main goals######
Make a list of what you want to save for. Is there a friend’s wedding in Ireland in six months? Write that down. Do you want to buy a house in two years? Put it on the list.
Then, do some research on how much each of those goals will cost and write that amount down as well. Once you have the goal, the amount you need to save and when you want to achieve that goal, you can figure out how much you need to save per month to make it happen.
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List your debts######
Once you have your goals, income and expenses figured out, it’s time to write down everyone’s least favorite part of budgeting: your debt. Write down what you owe, what the interest rate is, how many months you have left and what your monthly payment is.
While you have to pay the minimum each month, you also have two strategies to choose from when it comes to paying off debt early.
You can choose to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. This will save you the most on how much total interest you pay each month.
Another popular method is to pay off your debts in order from smallest balance to largest balance. This will help you knock out your debts faster and make you feel like you’re making more progress toward your debt.
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Start a retirement plan######
One of the most important parts of budgeting is making room for a retirement plan. Ask your HR department if your employer offers a retirement plan and if you are eligible. Many 401k plans also have free matching funds so make sure to put in enough to receive the matching.
You can also start a retirement fund on your own if your company doesn’t offer one. Many people recommend investing in index funds through an IRA or individual retirement account. Robo advisors such as Betterment and Wealthfront can create personalized retirement plans based on your age and other factors.
General recommendations say you should contribute between 10-15% of your salary toward your nest egg.
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Put it all together######
Create a spreadsheet and add up how much you spend each month, what you should save for your goals, how much you should put away for retirement and how much debt you owe. If those numbers add up and are less than what you earn, you’re golden.
But for many people, that amount is greater than what they earn. That’s when they have to make sacrifices and changes to their budget. Maybe they need to move to a new apartment and save on rent or eat out less. Maybe you should postpone your goal of buying a house or take a break from traveling until you pay off that credit card.
The key is to make sure you don’t spend more than you earn and have a little bit extra each month just in case.
 
_Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Debt Free After Three.**

Transitioning Your Finances to Life After College

Just graduated from college? Congratulations! You’ve made it to one of the major milestones in life, and you’re looking at a world of possibility.
So how do you make the most of starting this new, post-university phase of life? One of the most important things to understand as you transition from college student to real world, on-your-own adulting is how to start managing your money so you can not only pay all your expenses, but also start saving and build wealth.
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Create Your Own Systems######
Have you ever heard of engineering your environment to successfully build a new habit? Just like you might make a morning workout habit stick faster if you lay out your gym clothes the night before, you can take actions to set up systems that make building good financial habits easier.
In terms of your finances, engineering your environment means taking steps like:

Building and using a budget
Tracking your spending
Automating bills and other transactions, like monthly student loan payments
Automating transfers to savings

Using a budget creates a framework within which you can use your money. Tracking your spending makes you more aware of how you’re using your money within that budget. And automating transfers between your checking and savings accounts makes it easy
You can use a number of tools to help you develop and stick with a money management environment that works for you. For example, a tool like Mint provides a comprehensive overview of nearly every aspect of your finances — from your budget and spending to your credit score and investments — which makes it a great place to start.
Another app to consider is Digit, which makes small automated transfers from your checking into your savings. If you’d rather get a jumpstart on investing, try Acorns too. Acorns works in much the same way as Digit, but instead of putting small amounts of money into a savings account, the app invests the money for you.
Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to set up budgets, track spending, or create automated savings plan. What’s important is recognizing the need for a structure, and developing one that works for you.
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Manage Your Money When You Make More######
After graduation when you start your career in earnest, you’ll likely make more money than you did back in your college days. This is great for you, but it can also cause some financial problems if you don’t think ahead. In other words: mo’ money, mo’ problems
The biggest pitfall of earning more is succumbing to lifestyle inflation. This happens when you spend more as you earn more. Essentially, you build a spending habit — not a savings habit. And this is a problem because it’s extremely difficult to cut back your spending once you’ve adjusted to a certain level of luxury or lifestyle.
If you avoid lifestyle inflation from the very beginning and make saving at least 10% of your income a priority, you’ll always find it easier to save money no matter how much you make. You don’t have to start off saving 10% right away, but it’s a great goal to work toward as your income increases.
You should also take advantage of a full-time job with all the benefits it comes with as you start your career. Don’t wait to open a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan if any are available to you. If your company offers to match your contributions, put in at least enough to get the full match. That’s free money!
If you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored retirement account, you can still save as soon as you start working. Open a Roth IRA and save what you can. And remember, as you earn more, contribute more to retirement (instead of getting caught up in spending more).
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Continue Your (Financial) Education######
You may have just graduated from college, but don’t let learning end here. The best way to set yourself up for financial success in life is to continually seek to learn more about your money. Ask questions and seek answers. Do research. Get multiple opinions and consider different perspectives.
There are more resources available to you than ever before. In addition to personal finance, money management, or investing books that you can buy, tons of information about these subjects is available for free on blogs and podcasts. While most bloggers are sharing from personal experience, there’s a lot that you can learn from what other people have tried — and if nothing else, tuning into the conversation can keep you inspired and motivated to reach your own financial goals.
Staying interested and involved in your finances will help you better manage your money on a day-to-day basis and for the long-term. No one will care more about your cash than you do, and continuing to learn is without a doubt a prerequisite for building wealth.
 
Kali Hawlk is a freelance writer and the co-founder of Off The Rails, a free mentorship platform for creative women. She’s passionate about helping others do more with their money, their work, and their lives. Get in touch by tweeting @KaliHawlk.

Guest Post: Using Mint to Pay Down $14,000 in Credit Card Debt

Our guest blogger, Kathryn Bradt, is one-half of the duo behind the Dames in Debt blog. The Dames are sisters working off their combined $250,000 worth of student loans and consumer debt while keeping it real about the struggles of being twenty-somethings in expensive cities with limited funds.
 
Credit cards…love them or hate them, these little pieces of plastic (now featuring the “new” technology that is a slow-as-molasses electronic chip) are a frequent part of our daily lives. With the exception of food truck purchases, I can’t remember the last real transaction I made in cash, and with the advent of credit card rewards programs, I can’t remember the last time I used my debit card instead of my credit card.That is, until December 26, 2015, when I officially kicked off my “You desperately need to stop paying $150 in interest each month” credit card repayment plan.
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How I Got into Debt######
I didn’t get into credit card debt because of a lot of frivolous spending. Sure, there were a couple major clothes purchases that were probably unnecessary (or wholly unnecessary), but most of my debt was accrued paying for living expenses.
Over three years of law school and a summer of studying for the bar exam, I put nearly all of my living expenses onto that sad Visa whenever my student loan refund ran out – about 9 months’ worth of living expenses.
How much debt does 9 months of living expenses, a couple clothing splurges, a lot of stress-induced fast-food, and a 14.9% APR interest rate total? $14,055.92. Ouch.
After passing the bar in October 2015, I found a full-time lawyer job as an Assistant Public Defender (my dream job!), and I knew it was time to end my relationship with credit card debt.
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Setting Up a Plan with Mint######
Being a longtime Mint user, I knew I could use the Goals feature to help me pay off this debt. In the past, I’d set many savings goals and had great success with them, so I figured a debt repayment goal would be just as helpful.
Since my account was linked, Mint easily tallied the debt total, interest rate, and the minimum payment – and actually showed me that if I continued to make only minimum payments, I would end up spending 18.5 years in debt and $23,000 in interest. Super depressing.
After accepting my new job, I tweaked my Mint budget to account for my new income, updated my savings goals (emergency fund, anyone?), and established my new fiscally-responsible “fun” and eating out funds. After doing this, I saw that I had enough left over to make monthly payments that were 4x bigger than the minimum payment!
With my payment calculated and my goal set, I automated my monthly payments, and BOOM! I’m going to be credit card debt free by July 2017.
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Making Progress######
With Mint, I’ve been able to create a plan that’s doable. I was able to see what it would take to pay off my debt in 12 months versus 24 months, and I think it’s important to see those differences and what you would be giving up to get there, or spend in interest, as the case may be.
I picked a payment that I know I can make each month, but also gives me room to maybe add some extra money here and there. And the best part? Each time I make one of those extra payments, Mint automatically updates my goal completion date for me.
Life’s looking up now that I have my credit card debt under control. As a public interest attorney (read: not the kind of lawyer that makes six figures), I have made peace with my student loans hanging around a bit longer, but that credit card debt? It needed to go.
Now, I’m on a 15-month journey to high-interest-debt-freedom, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve got big plans for that money once I’m done paying off the credit card…retirement savings!
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Quick Tips######
If you’ve got a lot of credit card debt, there are definitely some things I recommend doing to fast-track your debt repayment. Here are some tips to get you started:

Track _all _of your transactions with Mint and make sure they are categorized correctly. The trend charts will really show you where you can (and must!) spend less money in order to pay down your debt.
Add a monthly budget to cover your interest payment each month, that way you can account for how much of your monthly payment is really going to paying down your debt.
Stop using credit cards to float cash! Seriously. Learn to live within your means. If you just can’t make it work, then it’s time to pick up another job. I kept my part-time jobs for the first few months of having my new, full-time job to help transition my finances.
Make your monthly payments (or automate!) the day after your paycheck deposits, that way you don’t have the opportunity to spend that money on something other than debt.
When making more room in your budget to contribute to your debt, start with your take-out food budget and monthly memberships (gym, cable, phone, massages, etc.). These are the easiest to lower or eliminate without feeling like you can’t have any fun.
It never hurts to call your credit card company and ask about lowering your interest rate. My company lowered mine 0.9% to an even 14.0% APR – all because I called and asked them about it! Every little bit helps when paying down high-interest debt.

 

Kathryn Bradt is an Assistant Public Defender in Richmond, VA. When not in the courtroom, she writes about personal finance, life, and her addiction to procedural cop dramas as the East Coast Dame. Representing both coasts of the United States of Indebtedness, the Dames blog about millennial budgeting, saving money without feeling deprived, and how to live first-class on coach funds.