Connect with us


Losing a Pregnancy Pushed Me Save Money and Finally Buy a House



  • I was sharing a tiny rental with my parents, sister, husband, and infant when I got pregnant again.
  • When I lost the pregnancy, my husband and I became determined to buy a home before having more kids.
  • We buckled down on our spending, repaired our credit, and bought a home in time for baby No. 2.
  • Try Experian Boost for free to improve your credit score »

I was still breastfeeding when I got the positive pregnant test confirming what I had already suspected. I was pregnant again, after having just given birth seven months prior. While it was definitely wanted, this pregnancy was not planned at all. We were still adjusting to the addition of one baby so the prospect of another was a bit scary. 

At the time, my husband and I were living with my parents and younger sister in a small three-bedroom rental. The two of us were packed tight in a tiny room with our infant son and a mountain of baby gear. As it was, we hardly had enough room to live comfortably, and now we were adding another baby to the mix.

The plan had always been to live with my parents for a short time to save up money to get our own place. But, as they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Getting pregnant with our first baby halted any money saving that was going on and, in fact, brought with it its own debt. The possibility of moving into a new home looked even more remote once we got news of another pregnancy. Our young credit was already maxed out, we had no savings, and we had expenses like diapers and childcare to contend with. 

Still, as we braced for the difficulties that would come with another baby, we were already very much in love with the little life I was growing. That’s what made what happened next all the more traumatic. 

Losing the pregnancy was devastating and shifted our perspective on our finances

At my 12-week doctor’s appointment, the nurse couldn’t detect a heartbeat. One sonogram later and we got the news from my sympathetic ob/gyn that the fetus had stopped growing. The baby, who had come into our world very much an unexpected surprise, left just as quickly — kicking up just as many mixed emotions in their wake. 

I grieved hard. An irrational part of me couldn’t help but wonder if the baby could feel my anxiety about its arrival. I knew that was impossible, but the hurt I was feeling carried with it a certain layer of guilt. I felt guilt at being unable to provide a suitable home for my children and guilt over the small amount of relief I detected at not having to worry over the logistics of a second baby. 

Eventually, I came to a conclusion: if this had to happen, then let something productive come out of it. With that in mind, my husband and I set a new goal for ourselves. Before we added to our family, we were determined to buy our own house

We worked hard to get our finances on track

With the goal set before us like a ticking clock, we started by looking at our finances more honestly. What we saw wasn’t necessarily shocking, but it confirmed our bad spending habits. 

We were wasting far too much money on things like leisure, dining, and entertainment. Overdraft fees from careless spending were taking massive chunks out of our income. We had purchased both of our vehicles with no down payment and with high interest rates. Our credit cards (about $3,200 combined) were maxed out and we were only paying the minimums on them each month. Worse still, our student loans (about $8,500 combined) were now delinquent and needed to be paid. 

We immediately began cutting expenses and used the small amount we’d saved to make payments on our credit cards. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. We used our 2009 income tax refund to pay off the loan on one of our vehicles. This freed up about $400 a month that we used towards paying extra on our second car and added a small amount to savings. 

We had to improve our credit scores if we wanted to buy a home

Other than knowing we needed to pay down debt, my husband and I were not at all knowledgeable about what it took to buy a home. We figured it was best to talk to experts, so we began house hunting in neighborhoods where builders paired buyers with financing companies. While we shopped around, we did as much research as possible. We found that we also needed to raise our credit scores to get a mortgage, and the only way to do this was to get some of the delinquent debt off our credit histories. 

When my husband and I finally found a neighborhood and builder we liked, we were paired with a mortgage company to finance our loan. The mortgage company saw that our credit history needed a major renovation and suggested the services of a credit repair professional. Credit repair companies are third-party entities that, for a fee, look through your credit history for information that can be fixed, changed, or removed in order to repair your credit. 

The professional we worked with was immediately able to find a few inconsistencies in my credit history and have them removed. She worked with the credit card company on our behalf to settle our accounts for about half of what we owed. Most importantly, she was able to work with our student loan holders and negotiate settlements that we paid in full using our 2010 tax refund. She accomplished all of this for a fee of $150, but I would say her expertise was priceless. 

We were prepared when our next baby came along

While this explanation streamlines the experience, it really was a long and difficult process for my husband and me. The stress of reviving our credit caused fights over money for the first time in our marriage. Having to scrutinize every cent we spent was a year-long chore. However, a positive pregnancy test in November 2009 revitalized us. We were going to do whatever it took to get into our own home before this baby was born. 

With our resuscitated credit histories, we were finally able to get approved for our home loan in February of 2010. In May, we signed the final documents and moved into our brand-new house. In August of the same year, we welcomed a beautiful daughter. We’ve spent the last 10 years in this house and it has become a joyful gathering point for our family. Our children have their own rooms, my husband has his home office, and there’s always a guest room for those who need it. 

Through the difficulties of our financial journey, being able to secure this home for our children has been our biggest triumph. And knowing that so much happiness came from such a dark time makes the success of buying our home all the more meaningful.

Source link

Continue Reading


Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



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.

Learn more:

Source link

Continue Reading


Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



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

Source link

Continue Reading


How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



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.



Source link

Continue Reading