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Tag Archive: Saving Money

The Real Cost of Student Debt

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Preparing for college expenses is a daunting task. According to Bloomberg, in the past 30 years, the cost of a college degree has increased by 1,120 percent, while medical expenses have only increased 610 percent. However the reality is that for many career paths, higher education is still a necessity. In order to meet this need, many are forced to turn to student loans. While these loans offer the opportunity to achieve goals, they come at a cost.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the average student graduating in 2014 with student loans will owe $33,000. Monthly payments on a student loan load similar to this would fall somewhere in the ballpark of about $250 a month for 20 years. While this may be a manageable payment for most, it’s not necessarily about what you’re doing with that $250, but what you’re not doing. For starters, 27 to 30 year-olds with student loan debt are buying fewer houses. Graduates are renting longer, rather than building equity. That’s also $250 that isn’t going into savings in a 401k or IRA, or college savings accounts for the kids. The College Funding Group estimates that if two students were to invest similarly, one with student loans and one without, the student who started without loans would have an additional $600,000 in savings at retirement.

While the lasting effects of student debt are formidable, studies still show that higher education is worth it. Recent estimates by the U.S Census Bureau suggest that graduates with a bachelor’s degree can expect to make an average of about $1 million more during their work lives than those without a degree.

The key to avoiding the pitfalls of crushing college debt is to start preparing early. Saving whatever you can, when you can adds up. With all of the frightening numbers and startling sticker-price of higher education it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but just remember, every little bit helps. As college approaches, take the time to educate your child on the lasting effects of student loans. Being in the know can help to motivate them to track their spending, work when possible, and reduce the total load of debt that they graduate with. If you start early, you can make a lasting difference for the financial well-being of your child.

Written by Dan Payne

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Green Ways to Save Some Green

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Save-GreenA couple of weeks ago we talked about six savings tips to boost your college savings. This week, in honor of Earth Day on April 22, we’ve compiled some more money-saving tips that will help you cut your costs and reduce your family’s carbon footprint. By making small adjustments and putting the savings towards future college expenses, you can make things a lot easier on yourself with the added benefit of giving the planet a helping hand.

Reduce Car Trips
When looking to cut your fuel and vehicle maintenance costs, the daily commute is the first place to look. From carpooling or taking public transit to walking or biking, there’s sure to be an option that suits you no matter how far you live from the office.  Another opportunity is to combine trips when running errands. By making weekly shopping lists and strategizing your route, you can significantly cut your number of trips, fill your tank less and save valuable time.

Consider Buying Used
Save yourself some serious some cash while extending the useful life of perfectly good items. There are lots of opportunities to get great deals, especially when it comes to picking up essentials for the kids such as strollers, clothes, toys and books. Garage sales, Craigslist and consignment stores are just a few places you can pick up some great treasures.

*Bonus: Keep the cycle going by selling or donating items as your kids outgrow them.

Reduce Energy Consumption
There are so many opportunities to cut energy costs in your home, ranging from simply shutting off lights when leaving a room and adjusting the thermostat by a few degrees, to more involved endeavors such as sealing gaps around doors and windows, adding insulation, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances. It may also be worth considering a home energy audit to find opportunities to cut your costs. Many cities and counties partner with local businesses or non-profit organizations to provide this service at a low or subsidized cost.

Be Water-Wise
While savings are more noticeable if you’re on a municipal water supply vs. a private well, reducing your water consumption is always smart choice for the planet. By avoiding running the water when brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers and installing water-saving flush valves on your toilets, you can potentially save hundreds, even thousands of gallons a year. When it comes to lawn and garden care, consider a rain barrel system for watering non-food plants and use mulch to reduce the amount of watering needed.

Water

Make More Meatless Meals
On a cost-per-pound basis (in terms of actual cost and environmental impact), meat packs a much bigger punch than non-animal protein sources such as grains, beans and legumes. Many schools, restaurants, and families now set aside at least one day a week that’s dedicated to completely meatless meals. While often promoted first for the positive health and environmental impacts, meatless meals will usually cost you significantly less to make.

While these are just a few simple tips, there are literally hundreds of other little efforts you can make that can add up to positive long-term impacts on the health of your family’s finances and the environment. We encourage you to continually look for those little opportunities and bank the savings in your college fund, because even small amounts can really add up over time.

Written by Lucas Minor

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