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PHILIP MARTIN: Call of duty



Most of us don’t know war. If you talk to someone who does, who has been in it and is willing to talk about it, you will hear that war is mostly boredom punctuated by terror, and that heroism is accidental. On the ground, they say, a soldier’s life is habit and drill. It is preparation and waiting.

Until it is smoke and confusion and metal in the air.

Soldiers get through by doing what they call duty, the tasks for which they have been trained and are required to do. Duty is not necessarily selfless, and performing a duty can be a source of self-esteem, but it is an action unconcerned with ego.

You do your duty not because it brings you happiness or makes you look cool, but because something larger than yourself–comrades, nation, way of life–is dependent upon you doing so. Duty allows ordinary people to sometimes do extraordinary things in extreme circumstances, but it is mostly a question of following one’s conscience and not being selfish.

We do not have metal in our air, but a virus. We do not have a war, but in some ways it feels like one–we have a war’s boredom. We are not soldiers, but we are susceptible to something deadly and random that has filled up our morgues and exhausted and rattled our health-care workers.

And while we can imagine the end of it, more of us will die before the armistice. Maybe we should take extra caution to not be among the last casualties.

Most of us will see the other side of this quiet siege. Most of us will someday look back on all this with wonder and perhaps a kind of unearned pride in having survived. Someday we will try to explain 2020 to people who will have no idea what it was like.

When (and if) things get back to something like what we used to know as normal, we might even begin to forget ourselves.

I don’t want to forget what it is like. For nine months I’ve gone without shaking a stranger’s hand. We have mostly stayed home, surrounded by devices and dogs and the kind of comfort that feels obscene when considering the way most of the world lives. We have seen a few friends and awkwardly negotiated a few social dates. We have been on Zoom calls and waved at delivery people.

We have gone on long walks and bicycle rides. We have refreshed our browsers, trying to apprehend the future as it flies at us. It has been weird, and it is not over yet. Though it feels as though an armistice is being hammered out, only most of us will make it. You don’t want to be one of the last ones shot.

So we will hunker down through Christmas, through the first 100 days of the new president’s administration, longer if that’s what it takes. For what sacrifice is it compared to the real sacrifices that people have made over the ages? You might think it an imposition, an abrogation of your rights and, if you argue it a certain way, I’ll grant you standing. You might have a right to be a jackass.

You might have the right to ride your motorcycle in the rain without a helmet. You might have the right to gamble with your health and well-

being. I’m not all that interested in arguing that you don’t, but you ought to be liable for any damage you do to anyone other than yourself. We’re never going to rid the world of selfish jackasses, but maybe we can mitigate the harm they do to innocents.

You may well have the right to refuse to wear a mask. (And a store or restaurant owner has the right to refuse to serve the maskless.) But you have a duty to wear one.

We ought to think more about our duties than we do about our rights. The whole point of being a grownup is realizing that the world does not care about our desires or our feelings, and that the best way forward is through kindness and cooperation. (Some disagree and advocate hitting people with sticks and taking what they want.)

In a civil society, most of us get what we need. And if we took better care of each other, more of us would.

No doubt a lot of us are hurting and unhappy; happy people don’t post manifestos on social media or cuss out grocery store clerks or swaddle themselves in camo to open carry around the Capitol. Unhappy people do those things because they’re missing something in their lives, something that might be fulfilled by helping other hurting and unhappy people.

Everyone needs a hobby, and just about everybody has one, whether it’s acknowledged as that or not. And far too many of us have decided to make politics our hobby.

It’s an easy habit to pick up, what with all the so-called news channels and the would-be intellectual mascots looking to sell you credit repair and commemorative silver ingots out there. They make it easy for some to imagine themselves as freedom fighters or patriots by doing whatever it is they want to do anyway, like own a cool-looking rifle or blame people who don’t look like them for all the troubles they’ve seen. By making them feel like they’re doing something important by cos-playing as John Rambo or copying memes to try to win friends and influence people on the Internet.

If only they’d find something really important to do. Something dutiful. Something that isn’t about their own wishes and egos. But it’s their right to live how they want and to say whatever they want to say on the cybernetic public spaces that Big Tech has created for them to use freely, if not for free.

If you start spouting nonsense in my house, I reserve the right to tell you to shut up and even throw you out. And I reserve the right to be the sole judge of whether or not what you’re spouting is in fact nonsense. If you don’t like it, you can go join Parler.

We’re not in a war, no matter what heated rhetoric you hear. But we are in something real, something consequential that has hurt a lot of people and continues to cause damage. It isn’t war, but it may be the closest thing to it that many of us ever experience.

It’s a moment that requires us to do our duty.

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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.

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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

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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.



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