How Important Is Your Down Payment on a Home?

When buying a home, most people take on a mortgage. There are many things to consider when taking on a mortgage loan, including interest rate, closing costs and the down payment. Once you calculate how much house you can realistically afford, you can start looking at properties and considering how you will afford the house.

There are several ways to fund what will likely be the biggest purchase of your life. Before you start signing with lenders and sellers, it’s a good idea to consider how much down payment you should be making and how that will affect you both immediately and in the long run.

The Basics

In case you are really new to this, a down payment is the chunk of cash you pay upfront when buying a home. This money shows the lender that you are capable of saving and are so serious about this investment that you are willing to put that savings toward making the home yours.

The Magic Number

You may hear that the typical down payment amount is around 20% of the total property value. While some people (like veterans) can qualify for homebuying assistance, most people will have to put 20% down to secure their mortgage without paying private mortgage insurance or taking out a second loan. When you are thinking about what type of house you want and what exactly you can afford, it’s important to keep in mind you will likely want to have 20% of the property’s value in savings dedicated for just this purpose before purchasing a home.

Paying More

If you have more than 20% of the home price socked away in savings, there are some reasons for using it as a down payment. The more you put down, the better position you are in for negotiating a lower interest rate with your lender. You will also have to borrow less if you put more down, meaning you will pay less in interest payments over the life of your mortgage.

Before you jump into this option though, it’s a good idea to be sure you can comfortably afford this house without putting your regular costs at risk, consider what other debts you may have and whether you think the savings could do more for you if used elsewhere. For example, it’s important to maintain an emergency fund so that you have cash set aside if (and when) the unexpected happens.

Paying Less

While the financial crisis left many homeowners defaulting on their little-to-no-money-down mortgages, the tide has turned again, and now the minimum amount needed for a mortgage is only 3.5% (there are some zero-down mortgage programs, but certain restrictions apply). In order to pay less than the normal 20%, you have several options.

You can secure a second loan to make up the difference between what you can afford and the 20% mark. You can also take out private mortgage insurance (PMI) to give your lender peace of mind. In case you get into trouble making payments down the line, this policy would pay the lender. You can check if you qualify for a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). You can also look for state and region-specific down payment assistant opportunities through your local government. If you are buying a house with less than the typical down payment needed, it’s important to know that you are taking on more risk.

Before you apply for a home loan, it’s important to know where your credit score stands. The difference of just a few credit score points can mean better interest rates and a major savings over the life of your loan. You can get two of your credit scores for free on, updated every month.

Your down payment amount makes a big difference both now and down the road, but it’s a good idea to leave yourself enough money to afford your next few monthly payments as well as closing costs and other immediate expenses the house may incur. Remember, this is just the beginning.

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This article by AJ Smith was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

Using Coupons at CVS

I have noticed many people are under the impression that to coupon with substantial savings has to be difficult and takes hours of work. I admit when I started couponing, I was overwhelmed with the available information. Much of it seemed to be as helpful to me as NASA rocket launch instructions. I decided to take it down a notch and focus on one store at a time. CVS seems to be a place many people see as over-priced being that it’s considered a drug store. I have found CVS to be easy to coupon at and save loads of money. Unlike places like Walmart or my local grocery store, I seem to never have an end to the deals I can find. Many of my friends have wondered how I do it and have thought I was one of those crazy coupon ladies. Well, if I am, that is fine with me!

CVS, unlike many other stores, offers money back on many of your purchases to spend in store with CVS Bucks. They also accept manufacturer coupons, many of which can easily be found at places like Normally you can print two of the same coupon per computer. If you have a household with multiple computers, this will benefit you. I also found that CVS offers many in-store coupons that are available via email or the in-store kiosk.

What you need to start saving:

  • CVS loyalty card
  • a coupon source (i.e. or your Sunday paper)

Here’s how:

  • Check your email! (Be sure to download the CVS app or go to to create a user and link your card to the account to receive emailed offers.)
  • ALWAYS scan your card at the kiosk to print any in-store coupons you might have waiting for you. (I rarely see people do this, and it will often cost you at checkout.)
  • Check sites like These sites will match coupons to the current sales flyer for you. They will even tell you where to find the coupons needed.
  • Use manufacturer coupons with your in-store coupons and CVS Bucks!

Here’s an example of my last savings at CVS. CVS had a sale on Huggies® Pull-Ups®. At my location, they are normally $13.48 each, but they were on sale for $8.99 a pack with the bonus of receiving $5 in CVS Bucks if I purchased at least $20 of qualifying baby items. So I stacked my coupons!

  • 3 packs of Huggies® Pull-Ups® at $8.99 each = $26.97
  • 3 manufacturer coupons (from all for $2 off 1 pack of Huggies® Pull-Ups® = $6
  • An in-store coupon for $3 off a purchase of baby items $20 or more
  • $5 CVS Bucks I had from a previous purchase

My total before tax came to $12.97! Plus, I got back an additional $5 CVS Bucks to spend later. It was as if I was spending $7.97 for three packs of Pull-Ups®. Without the combination, my purchase would have been over $40. All three packs cost me less than the cost of one at regular price. Remember to check your match ups online to have them do the work for you! Start saving and quit misplacing your money. Put it to better use and quit over-paying!

Visit for 3 ways to guarantee a smart buy and additional coupon strategies that work.

This article by Dawn Summerson first appeared on The Dollar Stretcher and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

Financial Planning for Seniors

You’re officially a senior. Many of life’s challenges like raising a family and earning a living are in the past. Yet, that doesn’t mean that you can put your finances on autopilot. There’s still a need for financial planning as a senior.

To help us explore the subject we contacted Kenneth D. Barringer. He’s the author of Making Healthy Choices for Senior Living, a book that provides readers guidance for creating a long and fulfilling retirement.

Q: Aren’t senior through building up their retirement fund? Why would they need financial planning services?

Mr. Barringer: Why should seniors need financial planners? They need skilled counseling about important financial decisions: savings, investment planning, spending habits, and estate planning. These issues can enhance your retirement if handled well, or devastate your financial stability if you plan poorly.

Q: It’s generally assumed that outliving your money is the biggest financial risk seniors face. Is there a way to eliminate or minimize that risk?

Mr. Barringer: We need to avoid outliving our financial resources by: (1) Keeping better financial records; (2) Maintaining control of spending; (3) Developing an investment program that causes our income and financial resources to grow, not diminish; and (4) Keeping good policies about income tax obligations and about other financial commitments we need to meet.

Q: Is it important for seniors to have some growth in their investments?

Mr. Barringer: Seniors need a plan, and professional help, to keep their investment growing over the years.

Q: Keeping track of records can be more challenging for seniors. Is there any way to make the job easier?

Mr. Barringer: There are good record keeping tools for financial investments that are obtainable through bookkeeping companies, tax consultants, investment firms, and office supply stores. Check them out to find the one form that fits your personal needs the best and start using it.

Q: Is there a way for seniors to know that it’s time to have a younger family member help them with their finances?

Mr. Barringer: There may be a time when seniors need financial help by a younger family member when you cannot manage your funds well and feel a fear of bankruptcy. It is important, however, to feel close to that younger family member and to trust his or her capability. Discuss some kind of formal agreement you put in print, as well, and do not leave the provisions to memory.

If you’re a senior don’t assume that you can ignore your finances. Your need to plan for your financial future is just as important now as it was when you were in your twenties!

Kenneth D. Barringer holds four college degrees. He has a diverse work history with a successful record working with a livestock, farm management business, as well as being a clergyman, college professor, and a practicing clinical psychologist. He has also worked as a volunteer leader for a respected mental health coalition.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded website and newsletters in 1996. Visit today for more on changing financial behaviors in retirement and what you should know about using credit cards in retirement.

This article by Gary Foreman first appeared on The Dollar Stretcher and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

How MLB is Ripping Off Dads on Father’s Day

Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 9.16.18 AMMajor League Baseball likes to play up the father-son storyline on Father’s Day, telling warm, fuzzy stories of how MLB players learned the game from their dads, and how they want to pass it on to their sons.

At MLB games on Father’s Day, the league promotes awareness of prostate cancer, and teams try to make dads and their children feel more welcome with events such as allowing kids to run around the bases or play catch on the field after the game. I’m happy that A’s closer Sean Doolittle fondly remembers going to A’s games with his dad.

But MLB is ripping dads off on Father’s Day, charging them $50 to play catch with their child. For 15 minutes. That works out to $200 an hour, or what plumbers and prostitutes make (I assume).

Yes, you read that right. MLB is offering dads a chance to play catch with their child on a baseball field for $50. Plus, you have to pay to get into the game. Click on the video below to see how much MLB promotes Father’s Day:

While the bond between father and child is played up pretty well on MLB’s website, it’s more of a scam in Oakland, home of the A’s baseball team.

In a promotion called “A’s Father’s Day Catch” on June 21, 2015, the team offers fans “the opportunity to play catch on the outfield grass” after the afternoon game against the Angels  for 15 minutes. (Emphasis is mine.)

Game tickets are sold separately from the Father’s Day Catch on the Field tickets. A minimum of two Father’s Day Catch tickets must be bought if you want to play catch with your child on the field, and anyone participating must have a ticket, regardless of age. Check out the A’s photo gallery to see how fun it was last year.

If the rest of your family wants to watch you play catch, but doesn’t want to buy catch session tickets, they get to wait in one area of the stands near the field.

The costs

As with any online purchase through MLB, there are fees attached. Two Father’s Day Catch tickets add up to $58.25. That includes a $2 per ticket convenience fee and a $4.25 handling fee.

Then you have to buy tickets. The A’s have dynamic ticket prices, meaning prices change as market conditions change. If rain is forecast, for example, the price will drop, and you’ll likely find a lower cost if you buy tickets earlier in the season.

The cheapest ticket the A’s offer for the June 21 Father’s Day game is $18. You and your son or daughter will need to bring binoculars, because for that price you’ll either be sitting above the outfield bleachers or in the third deck behind home plate.

A second-deck ticket ranges from $22 to $40, a first-deck ticket ranges from $40 to $66, and if you’re a real big spender, you can go with $110 or $250 seats at field level.

For sake of argument, let’s say you’re frugal and willing to pay $18 for the cheapest ticket. The $36 you’d expect to pay for two tickets quickly rises to $47.75 when a $7.50 convenience fee and $4.25 handling fee is added.

Add $47.75 for two seats and $58.25 for both of you to play catch on the field after the game, and it adds up to $106.

In an irony on top of another irony, it costs more to play catch for 15 minutes than it does to watch the game.

$200 per hour on Father’s Day

For 15 minutes on the field, the $50 Father’s Day Catch tickets equate to $200 an hour.

That’s about double what anesthesiologists, data architects, auto mechanics and successful entrepreneurs earn.

It’s not worth discussing what MLB players earn, though I’m sure they could afford $106 to take their kid to a game and play catch with them on the field.

And the costs of food, drink, souvenirs, parking and anything else you want at the game? Probably a lot more.

No thanks, MLB. My daughter and I won’t be playing catch on the A’s field after the Father’s Day game. Not for an extra $58.

Creating fans is important to MLB, but this isn’t the way to do it.

This article by Aaron Crowe first appeared on and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

FTC Launches New Resource for Identity Theft Victims Helps People Report and Recover from Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission has launched, a new resource that makes it easier for identity theft victims to report and recover from identity theft. A Spanish version of the site is also available at

The new website provides an interactive checklist that walks people through the recovery process and helps them understand which recovery steps should be taken upon learning their identity has been stolen. It also provides sample letters and other helpful resources.

In addition, the site offers specialized tips for specific forms of identity theft, including tax-related and medical identity theft. The site also has advice for people who have been notified that their personal information was exposed in a data breach.

Identity theft has been the top consumer complaint reported to the FTC for the past 15 years, and in 2014, the Commission received more than 330,000 complaints from consumers who were victims of identity theft.        

This article by the Federal Trade Commission was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

Will Student Loan Forgiveness Hurt My Credit?

Last month, we heard from a reader who has been approved for student loan forgiveness but fears accepting it would damage the good credit he has worked hard to attain. He had tried to get answers but felt frustrated that he couldn’t seem to find out exactly how student loan forgiveness would be reported to the credit bureaus.

Here’s what he said:

I have just received my letter saying I am authorized for a Total & Permanently Disabled student loan discharge. I have 60 days to return the letter to decide. I spent time researching after I first sent the request and it seems many people with excellent credit scores are feeling a huge hit by getting their student loan forgiven. Is this true? Apparently there’s going to be left a lot of derogatory remarks on your loans and how they were paid off. I’m not sure what the exact remarks or “status” of the loans become once handed off to the discharge people, but it’s been enough to hurt a few people I’ve been in contact with.

Because Nelnet is now handling the accounts, I wanted to check with you to see exactly what would be reported to the credit bureaus. Can you help?

Once we began researching the question, we discovered that student loan forgiveness can be reported differently on consumers’ credit reports.

First, we hard from Rod Griffin, director of public relations for Experian. He told us by email:

The final reporting really depends on the status of the account when the consumer applies for Total and Permanent Disability. The account will be updated to show as paid in full by the data furnisher and the final status will show paid —and whatever payment history was reported up to that point. For example, if the loan was current — no missed or delinquent payments — then they would report the loan as paid in full as agreed. If the loan was in default and reported as a collection account, then once the TPD is approved, the furnisher would report this as a paid in full collection account.

Griffin said this is standard reporting procedure, not just Experian’s policy.

The Consumer Data Industry Association, which developed the Metro 2 guidelines that creditors use when reporting information to credit reporting agencies, said it may depend on how the lender reports the forgiveness. Norm Magnuson, vice president of public affairs, said in an email that “some lenders report the data in such a way that it results in an adverse entry. Others report it so that it doesn’t.” He added that guidelines were being updated and would be available soon.

And so we went to Matt’s student loan servicer Nelnet. Following is Nelnet’s response:

Every creditor is bound by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to report accurate and fair information. That information is then used by the credit reporting agencies to determine an individual’s credit score. Information in conjunction with a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge process is no different.

Here’s how Nelnet reports when servicing a TPD loan account. Both student loan lenders and servicers must record every loan on an individual’s credit bureau report. When a borrower accepts a TPD discharge, the lender or servicer will update the individual loan on that report based on the loan’s standing at the time the discharge is accepted. This update is made using one of two codes: one indicates that the loan was in default, and the other indicates that the loan was in good standing. Although we cannot speak as to how each creditor interprets and applies these codes, it is safe to say that having a loan in good standing is better than having a loan in default. Typically, loan forgiveness in itself isn’t something that would have a negative impact on a person’s credit score.

Based on the key players’ responses, student loan forgiveness can impact your credit differently, depending on the servicer and the status of your loans before you enter into a forgiveness program. If you want to see how your student loans are impacting your credit score, you can check your free credit report summary on

One more thing consumers who are considering applying for student loan forgiveness should note: The loan forgiveness comes with a tax bill for the amount forgiven. Matt said he is more than happy to pay that in exchange for the loan forgiveness.

While we wish there were a one-size-fits-all answer; there isn’t. There are several companies that service student loans and how student loan forgiveness after a disability discharge will be reported for all of them isn’t crystal clear. But Matt was wise to look at possible consequences that come with the debt relief. As of this writing, he is still unsure about moving forward and risking possible credit damage.

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This article by Gerri Detweiler was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

5 Ways to Get a Higher Credit Card Limit

Do you need more spending power from your credit cards? For some credit card users, a larger line of credit can be necessary to finance their purchases. And even if you avoid interest by paying off your entire statement balance, your credit limit may be insufficient for your monthly spending needs.

Here are five of the best ways to get the credit limit that you need.

1. Lower Your Balances

As the old adage goes, banks only like to lend money to those who don’t need it. While this isn’t technically true, having a low level of debt will help you to qualify for a credit line increase. From the bank’s perspective, it can be too risky to offer additional credit to someone who has already used up most of their credit line.

In addition, having high levels of debt will negatively impact your credit score, further reducing your chances of a credit line increase. (You can see how your debt levels are affecting your credit scores for free on So, if possible, you should pay off as much of your outstanding balance as you can, even if it means making a payment early, or fully paying off purchases made since your statement was issued. And if you have outstanding balances with other banks, try pay them off as well, and then wait for your statement to close so that the lower balances are updated on your credit reports. Once you have as few outstanding balances as possible, you will have the best chance of receiving the maximum credit line increase.

2. Ask

Once you have reduced or eliminated as many credit card balances as possible, your next step will be to contact your card issuer and request a credit line increase. While some issuers will allow these requests to be made online, you always have the option of calling and speaking with a representative. At that time, you can let the card issuer know if your household income has risen, or your monthly housing expenses have decreased, which will both be factors in your favor. And remember, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau amended the Credit CARD Act to allow banks to consider any household income you have access to, which is an important consideration for at-home spouses.

Keep in mind that requesting a credit line increase could create a hard inquiry on your credit report. A hard inquiry can leave a small and temporary ding on your credit score, and not all creditors will make a hard inquiry when you request a limit increase, so it’s important to ask your issuer if it will impact your credit.

3. Transfer

Some card issuers allow you to transfer your line of credit from one card to another, increasing your spending power on the product you prefer to use. While this step, by itself, will not increase your total credit limit, it can be helpful if you have a particularly good rewards credit card that you favor (here are some of the best rewards credit cards in America) over another that you are unable to fully utilize due to a low credit limit. For example, those who travel for business may want to have the ability to make all their travel purchases from their favorite airline credit card, to earn the most miles and to utilize all of its travel benefits.

4. Apply for New Cards

If your current credit card issuers are unwilling to increase the credit limit on your cards, then you might try opening an account with a different card issuer. The new account will offer an additional line of credit, and you may also receive a valuable sign-up bonus, promotional financing offer or both. But just like those who ask for an increased line of credit on their existing accounts, you will want to pay down as many outstanding balances as possible, and wait for each statement cycle to close, before making an application for new credit.

5. Consider a Charge Card

Unlike credit cards, charge cards do not have a preset spending limit. So as long as your creditworthiness remains high, you can be granted increasing lines of credit as necessary, without having to request an increase each time. But unlike credit cards, you will have to pay each month’s statement balance in full.

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This article by Jason Steele was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

6 Banks With No Overdraft Fees

Spending money you don’t have gets expensive fast. Whether it’s racking up balances (and interest) on credit cards, missing card payments because you can’t afford them or overdrafting your checking account, even one-time slip-ups can seriously strain your finances.

It’s true that spending too much on your credit cards can hurt your credit, but relying solely on debit cards comes with its own risks. Many people say they prefer debit cards because it helps them control their spending — at the same time, that can leave little room for error in estimating your expenses, potentially causing you to overdraft your account.

There are several overdraft services banks provide. First of all, you have to opt into overdraft protections, as mandated by federal law. By default, consumer accounts are set up so a transaction is declined if the cardholder’s account doesn’t have enough cash to complete the purchase. The transaction is declined at no cost to the consumer.

If you want the ability to complete transactions, even if your account can’t cover it at that moment, you can opt into overdraft services, like connecting a savings account to cover any checking account overdrafts. You can also have the bank cover your transaction for a fee, called an overdraft penalty. Most banks charge between $35 and $38 per overdraft, which is the most expensive service banks offer, according to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts of basic checking accounts at the 50 largest banks in the U.S.

If you allow overdrafts, you’re most likely going to have to pay some sort of fee, but there are six large banks that charge no overdraft penalty fees:

  • Ally
  • Charles Schwab
  • Citibank
  • First Republic
  • HSBC
  • USAA

Additionally, there are three banks that offer accounts that prohibit any kind of overdrafting, protecting consumers from fees as a result. Bank of America, KeyBank and Union Bank offer such accounts.

Overdrafts and associated fees can be a big deal for consumers, particularly those who live paycheck to paycheck. Nearly a third of households without a bank account said a reason they remain unbanked is because of unpredictable, expensive fees on checking accounts, according to a 2013 report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Losing money to fees can make it difficult to pay necessary bills and make loan payments, which can end up damaging a person’s credit standing. (You can see how missed payments are impacting your credit scores for free on Make sure you’re familiar with your bank’s overdraft policies, know what you’re signed up for and keep close tabs on your transactions to make sure you’re not overspending — or that someone else is, without your permission. Whatever your preferred form of payment, understanding your account terms and regularly reviewing your account activity will help you avoid unexpected penalties.

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This article by Christine DiGangi was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

Why You Should Take a Road Trip This Summer

Time to break out the old nationwide atlas road map — it’s going to be a great summer for road trips, thanks to low gas prices. You might want to splurge on an app or GPS with up-to-date traffic information, too, because lots of other families will have the same idea.

Gas prices are about $1 a gallon lower for most drivers as the summer vacation season approaches, a better-than 25% discount over last year. If you’ve fantasized about hitting the open road and seeing America’s great national parks, cheap gas could help make those dreams come true. For example, when I drove from New York to Seattle last year with my golden retriever Rusty, I spent $492 on gas. The same trip this year would cost closer to $350 — a huge difference.

AAA says that difference is certain to send more drivers onto America’s highways. Road traffic for the fast-approaching Memorial Day holiday will be up 5.3% this year, AAA says, soaring to 33 million road-trippers — the most in 10 years. Gas will be the cheapest in at least five years, AAA says.

“Following a harsh winter, many Americans are trading in their snow boots for flip-flops and making plans to start the season with a vacation getaway,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA President, in a statement. “AAA is expecting more Memorial Day travelers this year than any time in the past 10 years as confident consumers come out of hibernation ready to explore national parks, beach destinations and America’s great cities.”

Drivers might understandably be apprehensive that gas prices will rise during the road-trip season, as they often do. And in fact prices have ticked up since they hit bottom this March. But the Energy Department said this week that it expects average prices to hover roughly around $2.50 through September. That’s assuming no surprise shocks to supply, such as a terrible storm.

The cheapest gas starts is in the southeast, by the way, in states like South Carolina — extending all the way through Missouri to Kansas, Wyoming, and into Idaho. So if you are wondering where to go, that’s not a bad place to start.

Not all the road trip news is good, however. AAA expects hotel prices to be considerably higher this summer, thanks to the economic recovery.  The average nightly stay in a Two Diamond hotel is 16% higher this year at $144, AAA says. So maybe it’s time to take that gas savings and invest in some camping gear.

Keep in mind that you can make your summer travel spending go further by using rewards credit cards specifically designed with travel rewards in mind (here are some of the best travel rewards credit cards on the market). Keep in mind that using any type of rewards credit card, including gas rewards cards, is best reserved for people who don’t carry a balance on their credit cards from month to month since interest charges can wipe out any rewards you’d earn. Also, rewards cards are hard to get approved for if your credit score is subpar. You can check your credit scores for free on to see where you stand before you apply.

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This article by Bob Sullivan was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

7 Deadly Student Loan Sins

We all know that higher education is expensive, but we also know the professional and personal growth it can provide. For many people, going to college means taking out student loans, a serious credit product that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

It’s a good idea to calculate the monthly student loan payments you will owe before you even take on the debt  so you can make an informed decision about whether you can afford the debt. Signing on for student loans before fully understanding them is a major student loan mistake, but it’s not the only one you can make.

Here are some common student loan mistakes — forewarned is forearmed, right?

1. Overlooking Loan Alternatives

While student loans may seem like a necessary evil, there are other options to afford college. You can choose a cheaper school (think in-state or online), attend a work-based school, attend school part time while working, put off school for a year to save up or apply for scholarships or grants. You can even do a combination of all these options. Even if this doesn’t completely eliminate your need for student loans, it can reduce how much you have to borrow.

2. Borrowing More Than You Need

You may be tempted to take out student loans for the full amount you’re offered, but it’s a good idea not to borrow more than you need. Instead of using the money beyond tuition and room-and-board for parties or clothes, it’s important to weigh what you really need. Then you can avoid paying interest for years on that spring break trip!

3. Neglecting Research

You may think heading to the bank or another private student lender is the first step when it comes to getting a loan, but federal student loans typically have lower interest rates and more consumer protections. No matter which route you go (and you may have a mix of private and federal loans), it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best interest rates and terms. You also want to know who services your loans, what programs they provide and how to access your statements.

4. Choosing the Wrong Repayment Strategy

Lenders will likely offer you several repayment plans for your student loans. Which one you choose can have a significant impact on the length and total cost of the loan. Some may have you paying more each month but less overall, while others will keep the monthly payments low but you’ll pay more in interest over a longer term. Standard plans are usually paid down in 10 years, but feature higher payments than the graduated or income-based plans. It’s a good idea to think about your career projections, what you will realistically be able to afford and how you prefer to repay loans.

5. Ignoring Prepayments

Even when you are still a student, you can put a serious dent in your student loan payments. This is usually penalty-free. With just a little bit of cash each month, you can help reduce your debt. You may want to consider taking on a side hustle, turning your hobby into cash, finding a paid internship, tutoring, participating in paid research, freelancing your skills or looking for a work-study opportunity on campus in order to do this.

6. Missing Payments

When you take on debt, you are also taking on the responsibility of getting organized and keeping track of what you owe. Paying late or missing payments can put you at risk of defaulting and can ruin your chance of qualifying for loan forgiveness in the future, in addition to wreaking havoc on your credit score. It’s important to plan ahead of time to ensure you pay in full, on time, every month. You can see how your student loans are impacting your credit scores for free on

7. Underestimating Interest

When you are given monthly payment options, it’s a good idea to also make sure you look at the total cost over the life of the loan, as well as possible tax implications. A smaller amount may fit more easily into your budget but leave you paying a lot in interest over time.

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This article by AJ Smith was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.