When I filed my taxes this year, I expected to get an income tax refund in excess of $5,000. As an MBA student with a huge tuition bill and a year’s worth of tax-deductible contributions to my retirement accounts, I was sure I had enough credits to produce a sizeable return. I was planning to spend it on plane tickets to South America, then shuffle the leftovers into savings for next year’s MBA course fees. I was even going to let myself take $300 on a mini shopping spree. You can imagine my disappointment when I received less than 25% of what I was expecting.
Certain expenses seem to exist in an untouchable sphere. They sneak under the labels of “necessity” and “fixed cost”—even when we adamantly reduce our spending everywhere else.
For me, yoga is one of these spending blind spots. And after realizing I’ve already spent more than $500 on yoga classes and workout gear this year, I’m not feeling too zen about it.
I’m a huge advocate for managing your finances independently. I think the sooner you can break off from support from parents or reliance on credit cards and loans, the better off you’ll be.
However, sometimes there’s just not enough money to make ends meet—especially if you’re in grad school like I am. In grad school, you have to watch every penny to survive, and even then, you may still run out of money.
Fortunately, if that happens, one of these three options could help you.
I graduated with $21,000 of student loan debt—but that number is not even close to how much my postsecondary education cost.
If you add up the tuition, fees, and textbooks for my bachelor’s degree and MBA, you’d come up with an amount closer to $100,000. I could have graduated owing that much in student loans. In fact, if I had done a few things differently, I definitely would have owed that much.
I had some pretty big goals for 2013—financially and otherwise. But by taking time at the beginning of the year to figure out where I wanted to be at the end of 2013, I achieved them.
In addition to paying off nearly $21,000 of student loans from my undergraduate degree, I also quit my job of 2 years, moved, and went back to school for an MBA. Talk about a year of big changes for in money and lifestyle!
Here’s what I accomplished, as well as my plans for 2014.
For many people, this is the time of year when you first start making student loan payments.
Your loans may come with a generous repayment timeline, which means small(ish?) payments for you. Paying that minimum might seem enticing, but it doesn’t make sense to spend a decade paying for a 4-year degree.
When repaying student loans, you have to follow a lot of terms and conditions. However, one thing you’re always allowed to do is pay them off early. If you can afford it, consider prepayment. Here’s why it’s a smart choice.
There’s nothing fun about paying off debt, but there are a ways to make process smoother.
I’ve faced $10,000 in consumer debt. And I repaid more than $20,000 in student loans over just 22 months. To beat these, I had to come up with strategies that turned my debt into something manageable.
You can do the same thing with these three tips.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, because it’s the only occasion in which I indulge fear.
For the rest of the year, I diligently avoid horror movies and ghouls to the best of my ability because I hate being scared. But come October 31, I feel obligated to lose a few nights of sleep to nightmares.
Ghosts and goblins aside, what really keeps me up at night are financial fears. Here are my top five financial nightmares. (As “nightmares,” they may not all be 100% likely to happen—but that’s what makes them so scary!)
It’s easy to let the stock market intimidate you. At first glance, Yahoo! Finance is a mess of numbers, graphs, and news stories that can strike fear into even a good budgeter’s heart.
However, if you want to see a greater return on your money than the interest rate offered by a simple savings account, the stock market can be a promising choice. Investing is a big reason why I had the money to pay off my student loans so quickly.
Here are a few of the things that helped me get started. Just keep in mind that these tips are for informational purposes, as I’m not a financial adviser.