Archive | March, 2013

Estimate College Loan Amounts & Escape the Burden of Debt

20 Mar

Andrew is a writer who contributes his articles to various financial communities, websites, and blogs

 

Such high levels of student loan debt are an impediment to economic growth. It is becoming increasingly difficult for individuals to start their own business, make investments, or purchase homes due to the repayment burden of the loans. Relief from student loan debt will allow these individuals to better manage personal finances. They will be able to direct the funds towards the production of goods and services that are so often asked of them. Rising tuition costs and the necessity of higher education for a better future, forces students to borrow mountainous amounts of debt. This leaves you with one question – What is the correct amount that I should borrow?

The following are important tips you should consider to get help for college.

younger generation asking advise of the older generation

Talk to someone – A student borrower may not have enough experience to make accurate financial decisions on his or her own. A parent, grandparent, or an experienced representative at your school’s Financial Aid Office could enlighten you on the matter.

It is important that you consider only the necessary expenses while deciding on your loan amounts. You have to keep other unnecessary expenses out of the picture to avoid high debt loads. Think about your wants versus your needs!

Focus on your future needs – Just like borrowing extra money is not a good decision, borrowing less money than needed could also create financial troubles. Keep in mind that you have to take care of your expenses once you’re out of college. The extra money borrowed could help you meet your expense needs during college and to some extent, until you find a better source of income.

Don’t ruin your future – You must have certain goals in mind. Carrying a burden of huge student debt could prevent you from achieving those goals. Hence, it is important that you borrow reasonable limits so that your future dreams and plans don’t get stalled right away.

Estimate your monthly debt payments – You have to make monthly payments towards your student loan debt. Try to estimate the monthly debt amount. This way you’ll know whether the monthly debt payments are going to pull your budget and personal finances apart. You should be comfortable paying the monthly debt amount.  You can estimate your monthly student loan payments from online calculators like PayBackSmarter.com.

Getting out from underneath debt

Keep your debt payments lower than your projected income – Don’t borrow more than what you expect to earn. Use salary estimators if you have to, but don’t ever overlook the fact that borrowing more than your future income could mean trouble.  You can find a handy salary estimator at salary.com

Knowing the right loan amount is the key to making the best use of student loans.

Budgeting with Buxfer

6 Mar

Kayla Rudd, Purdue University student, English Education Senior, and Employee of Purdue University’s Division of Financial Aid
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

piles of receipts

piles of receipts

Personally, I used to consider budgeting a necessary but time-consuming process.  Creating a detailed budget used to take up a major part of my weekends.  I would gather receipts from recent purchases sit down and draft Excel spreadsheet after Excel spreadsheet, labeling and organizing, copying and pasting, and configuring functions to calculate my budget.  Luckily, technology has improved greatly freeing my weekends of tedious budgeting with Excel.  Through a bit of research I was able to find several budgeting software resources.  And, best of all, they’re free!

Overall, there is one resource that worked best for me.  This resource keeps track of all of my budgeting materials at one time and in one place.  I have access to my budgets online, and they even have an app available for smart phones.  This resource is called Buxfer and it is easy to use with a Gmail-like design.

The basic version is free, and its features have proven to be plenty for me.  On the other hand, if you have in-depth and complex financial budgeting matters, I would suggest upgrading from the free version.  Additional features like unlimited accounts, unlimited budgets, account forecasting, and unlimited online payments can be accessed with the paid version.

Budget

Budget chart

With the free version I was able to choose to either manually set up my accounts by entering each transaction one at a time or I could have my accounts synchronized automatically with my banking information.  In order to sync your accounts automatically first you need to sign up with your email and create a password. Then choose which accounts you want to synchronize automatically.  Next find your banking institution, type in your online log in information, and voilà you are now ready to track and budget your expenses like a professional!  Buxfer will download your transactions by synchronizing to your banking information.

Setting my own budgets to control spending is one of Buxfer’s features I really appreciate.  Sometimes you may have to re-categorize your transaction labels to make sure purchases are recorded in the proper budget category.  Another feature I find useful allows me to schedule when my bills are due and have reminders sent to me.

My best advice for this website is to try it out.  Test the demonstration and if you like what Buxfer has to offer and then sign up if it fits your needs.  Below is a summary list of services that Buxfer offers with the basic, free plan:

  • Synchronizing bank accounts and credit cards
  • Create spending limits
  • Real-time alerts to mobile device
  • Email bill reminders
  • Plan future financial goals
    • marriage
    • vacation
    • vehicle
    • home
    • Track group expenses
      • roommates
      • Access with Blackberry, iPhone, SMS, email, Twitter, Facebook, iGoogle, Netvibes…

If Buxfer is not right for you there are plenty of other budgeting software resources available on and offline.  For example, Mint.com is a budgeting website that offers features like Buxfer.com, but with a different feel and design.  If synchronizing your banks accounts online is a concerning issue Clearcheckbook.com could be a better fit for you.  At Clearcheckbook you enter in each purchase transaction, categorize that transaction, and then the website will track and create reports for you.  If you are not comfortable with online budgeting at all you may want to look into software packages like Quicken, Excel, or ask your banking institution about software packages they may offer.

The importance of budgeting does not lay with how you budget, what software you are using, or if you are paying for the service.  What is important is that you are budgeting, tracking your expenses, and contemplating your purchases.  Without creating a budget it can be difficult to reach life’s financial goals like marriage, purchasing a home, going on vacations, or planning for unexpected events.  Share what budgeting avenues works best for you in the comment section below.

man on top of a mountain during sunset

man on top of a mountain during sunset

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