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A post-game apolitical commentary

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Well, that was something.

It’s time to let it go. Maybe we can all agree not to wear our made-in-China political merch 24/7 and turn the online virtue-signaling down a notch or two.

Let’s allow one bumper sticker per vehicle and the occasional meme if it’s genuinely funny, but if you’re going to roll up in a $50,000 pickup wrapped with glamour shots of your preferred dear leader and statements of your core beliefs, you’re going to get side-eyed in our brave new world. Because that’s a little nutty, dude.

For once, maybe we need a boring guy with very little flavor in the White House. Somebody who’s almost no one’s first choice, but we can all agree isn’t trying to leverage the office to increase his Twitter following.

We probably won’t return to where it’s almost rude to bring up politics in mixed company, but maybe we can let everything recede a bit. Let’s get back to where we were dog-cussin’ both parties and acknowledge that most of the time politics doesn’t impinge on the way we live our lives. And that there’s very little we can do about it anyway.

Sure, on a local level, you might be able to get something done. Maybe you can help elect a school board candidate or get a pothole filled. A vote is a vote, and despite what some people might try to tell you, they all count. But the chances of your particular vote affecting a national election are pretty negligible. (I’ve heard one in a billion, but that sounds high.)

There’s only so much we can do. And we should do what we can, but also recognize that we cannot change the world. And that worrying about what we can’t change is a waste of effort and probably a good way to make ourselves unhappy. Which is why it’s best to not think about politics most of the time.

Politics, when done right, is pretty boring to most people. The decisions made by those we elect make a difference, and it’s understandable why some people become deeply interested in the details of these transactions. Some enjoy the drama. They like to follow the personalities and root for the interests with which they have–often for reasons that have little to do with their own particular situations–aligned.

Some people identify as political junkies. Some people are hockey fans.

What’s distressing is the sheer number of Americans who have adopted politics as their favorite pastime. They dress in team colors and attend to the homer entertainment channels–MSNBC, Fox, OAN, CNN, Breitbart–that cater to their tastes. We ought to stop that and find something better to do than bask in the stupefying glow of the made-up 24-hour news cycle.

Because there isn’t enough news for a 24-hour cycle; about 23 and 3/4 hours of programming on any particular news channel is likely to be fake outrage or some failed comedian auditioning for his own cult by going on about evil rich or poor people in between ads for credit repair and uncirculated American Silver Eagle coins. It’s designed to keep you watching, to hold your attention so they can sell you to their advertisers.

But you knew that, because you’re an adult. Right?

You’re not like the people you see on Facebook pretending to be constitutional scholars and epidemiologists holding forth on platforms in the public interest. You know exactly what the limits of your expertise are and don’t offer up your advice for free.

You’re not one of those people still posting about face-swapping, clones and adrenochrome.

We need more sports and movies now, more music. In a good society, we should be able to ignore politics and simply attend to occasional civic rituals, which re-occur like necessary chores. We should be free to be apolitical. If you’re going to be obsessed by something, it ought to be deep and soulful, not the performative wolf-crying of men and women who mean to make a career of presenting themselves as leaders. Baseball is something more worthy of your investment.

No one should care as much about politics as a lot of us have these past four years. But let’s hope these years were extraordinary, as in not normal. And that while the trauma and damage they inflicted was very real–for a while there you could see the American id roaring and thrashing; you could see the beast inside–we are returning to a less dramatic, markedly calmer state.

We have managed to stuff a monster back in the closet. It’s not gone; all that rage will still find weak points and fault lines to exploit. We will still have school shootings and atrocities committed by the damaged and the prideful, but it’s probably going to be a while before the war on decency throws up another avatar as bald and raw as what we’ve just seen.

The next would-be dictator–and there will be another one–will be smoother and smarter and less reliant on simplistic slogans and obvious lies to stir the passions of the aggrieved.

The next one will present as rational and reasonable and data-driven.

That’s just evolution, which is science, which some of you don’t credit. That’s OK. Science, unlike magic, functions independently of faith. Someone is going to do the math and find a way to determine the best choice in any given situation.

The days of intuition and talent are numbered. Big data is going to reduce us all to tendencies and probabilities. As mysterious as we may seem to ourselves, given a big enough sample size, we are all parsable.

We should welcome our nerdy overlords. They will unlock the math, and it will become a question of making optimal decisions. They’ll bleed the art out of politics, just like they have poker and basketball.

I don’t know what to do about them, short of acknowledging that facts matter and that the end of history is still out there beyond the horizon. It’s not inevitable that the good guys win; looking back over the centuries, it’s not clear if the good guys even have a winning record. It’s been a pretty good rivalry.

We made it. Take a deep breath, but leave your mask on. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12.

pmartin@adgnewsroom.com

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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