Life and Loans

Table of Contents

Building a Budget

Budgeting is a skill that helps you make smart decisions with your money. It ensures that you’re spending less than you earn, it prepares you for life’s curveballs, and it funds your goals and your dreams. Unfortunately, budgeting is often seen as restrictive and overwhelming. Financial priorities are deeply personal, so it can be challenging to find the right combination of strategies and tools that work for you…(Read more)

View the corresponding handout and article for more information. And, if you need some tips for tracking those little extra expenses that can pull your budget off-track, view our infographic.

Pay Yourself First

Like going to the gym or eating a healthy diet, saving money is one of those concepts that’s simple to grasp but weirdly challenging to put into practice. We understand its benefits. We agree that it’s essential to our well-being. We know that it’s something we should be doing. But paycheck after paycheck, it’s the same routine: after the bills have been paid and the regular expenses have been looked after, there just isn’t quite enough left over for our savings goals…(Read more)

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Using Your Credit Card

News outlets and credit card companies are quick to label millennials as being credit card-shy. According to a recent survey, millennials apparently fear their credit card debt more than climate change, the threat of war and even death. It may sound like an overreaction, but the underlying trend is substantial: millennials are carrying fewer cards and have lower balances, compared to the previous generation of young adults…(Read More)

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Strategies for Debt Repayment

Consumer debt is an extremely contradictory part of our personal finances: it’s at once common and incredibly personal. According to numerous sources, the majority of US adults owe money in some way, shape or form—and yet what this consumer debt represents can vary drastically from person to person. To some, a debt might signify a major accomplishment or progress toward a large goal. To others, it might be a constant reminder of a time of crisis or hardship. The decisions that lead us to consumer debt can be thoughtful and deliberate, or rushed and misguided…(See more)

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Leasing vs. Buying a new Car

When it comes to buying a new car, you have three options: purchasing it with cash, purchasing it through a loan (also known as financing) or leasing it. For most shoppers, the decision comes down to buying or leasing…(Read more)

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Buying a Used Car

Auto dealers are expected to sell cars that meet certain consumer protection criteria. This may include providing a warranty that will cover the buyer’s costs if a car turns out to be a lemon. Unfortunately, some unethical dealers may attempt to bypass these laws by curbstoning. Curbstoning is when a dealer poses as a private seller to sell a car. By curbstoning, an unethical dealer can avoid having to comply with the regulations that apply to dealers. To a buyer, this could mean buying a car that has a salvaged title (a car that’s been declared a total loss by an insurance company). It could also mean unknowingly buying a car that has been in a flood and suffered severe water damage…(See more)

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Owning vs. Renting a Home

The average person moves residences about 11 times in their lifetime. That provides a lot of opportunity to confront the following question: is it better to own your home or to rent it? It’s a huge decision that affects your lifestyle as much as it does your finances, and the answer will vary depending on who you ask. There are compelling arguments to be made for both sides and the resulting advice—though well-intentioned—can quickly become confusing and contradictory…(See more)

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Demystifying Mortgages

Asking the right questions is an important part of every financial decision you make, and home ownership is no exception. If you’ve been thinking about buying a place, preliminary research will turn up a long checklist of questions for you to ask at every part of the process. There are questions for your financial institution, questions for your mortgage broker and questions for your real estate agent. But what about the questions you should be asking yourself? (See more)

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Earning Money Online

It’s hard to ignore the appeal of making real money online—after all, we live in a world where bloggers land book and movie deals, where top YouTubers are multimillionaires and where celebrities collect thousands of dollars in exchange for a single sponsored tweet…(See more)

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Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan is an essential part of building a successful business. At its core, a business plan is a road map for your project: it establishes your purpose, it sets goals and expectations, and it forecasts the relationship between cost and revenue. Business plans exist in many forms: some formal and some informal…(See more)

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Foiling Identity Theft

Identity theft is nothing new, and yet it still manages to cost its victims billions of dollars (yes, that’s billions with a “b”) globally each year—not to mention the time and hassle involved in recovering a stolen identity…(See more)

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Income Essentials

“When I grow up, I want to be a ___________.”

Depending on who you are, filling in the blank above can be an exciting, troubling or outright confusing task. If you happen to be a kindergartner, filling in the blank is awesome, because at that age, dinosaur and superhero are both perfectly viable career options. If you happen to be in high school, filling in the blank can be motivating because it takes all your talents and interests and captures them in a single goal that you can pursue through high school and past graduation day. If you happen to be an adult, filling in the blank can be a little bit terrifying because that could mean you’re now a grown-up (regardless of whether or not you feel like one) and here you are, still secretly looking for ideas…(Read More)

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Common Money Beliefs

How did you decide where to open your first bank account? Where did you learn to budget or pay bills? If you have a money question now, what do you do? Who do you turn to? (Read More)

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Working from Home

The number of people working remotely is on the rise—and so are new trends in work-from home fashion. For many, the ability to wear loungewear during work hours is a huge perk. Not only is it more comfortable than typical workwear, but it also saves time when it comes to ironing, laundering and getting ready in the morning. Before you commit to a lifetime of hoodies and sweatpants, however, consider this: studies show that there is a link between dressing up for work and your overall productivity. According to science, clothing can influence the way we think and feel though symbolism and through routine…(Read More)

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Navigating Income Loss

Losing your job is stressful. Even with an emergency fund in place, it doesn’t take very long to feel the financial impact of a sudden loss of income. When recovering from income loss, the focus instantly shifts to finding a new job. Although the job hunt is an important part of overcoming a financial setback, it fails to address some of the less obvious consequences of losing your job. When you lose your job, you lose more than a regular paycheck—you also lose the routines, the socialization and even the sense of identity connected to that job. Ignoring the non-financial consequences of job loss can have a profound impact on your mental health and sabotage your recovery effort…(Read More)

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Know Your Checking Account

Checks hold an odd place in our personal finances. In many ways, checks seem like relics from a previous era. We maybe write one or two checks a month (usually for rent or similar bill-paying situations where electronic payment simply isn’t an option). This is vastly different from only a few decades ago, when checks represented more than 85% of all non-cash retail payments. (Can you imagine whipping out a checkbook in line at the grocery store? Times have certainly changed!)…(Read More)

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How to Save on Groceries

Picture this: you’re steering your shopping cart through the sliding doors of the supermarket, shopping list in hand. As you walk the aisles, there’s a strategy you can use to save an average of 33% on your entire purchase. It doesn’t require any coupon clipping or rewards cards. And the best part? You still get every single item on your list. The secret? Buying private-label products instead of brand-name products…(See More)

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Understanding Inflation

When most people think of inflation, their response is usually similar to when they see a vintage advertisement: reminiscing about the cheaper prices of the past (15 cents for a burger? Awesome!) while simultaneously feeling some resentment towards today’s ever-rising prices. Generally, inflation is seen as a frustrating “financial fact of life” that passively affects everyone as price levels climb and as the dollar’s purchasing power decreases over time…(Read More)

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Emergency Fund Bootcamp

An emergency fund is an essential part of your personal finances. Its importance is stressed in almost every personal finance book and budgeting blog, and yet 26% of Americans currently have no emergency fund in place. Of those who do have an emergency fund, up to two-thirds do not have the often-recommended six months’ worth of expenses saved up…(Read More)

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Responding to Financial Emergencies

The COVID-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder that financial challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Some obstacles—such as job loss or income reduction—are immediate and obvious. Others—such as fear or uncertainty about the future—are more subtle, but they can still disrupt our regular spending and saving patterns in a negative way…(Read More)

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Avoiding Lifestyle Creep

Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about all of the amazing lifestyle changes that await you just beyond your next pay raise? Have you ever fantasized about how to spend a work bonus, only to have the money instantly disappear into your monthly spending? If this sounds familiar, you might be prone to lifestyle creep…(Read More)

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Saving with New Skills

Learning a new skill has many potential benefits. It can entertain you, it can save you money, it can boost your self-confidence, and it can unlock new opportunities at school and at work. However, choosing a new skill to learn is only half of the battle—you’ll also need to decide how to go about developing that particular skill. To ensure that you’re getting the best possible results for your time and effort, incorporate some tried-and-true learning strategies into your training program. Whether you’re mastering a new software program, upping your chef game or learning to play a new instrument, keep these strategies in mind to set yourself up for success…(Read More)

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How to Spot Scams

If you use a cellphone or have an email account, you’ve almost certainly been exposed to an attempt at mass marketing fraud. Common examples include being interrupted by an annoying robocall just as you start eating lunch, or waking up to a suspicious message in your email inbox that somehow slipped through the spam filter. Sometimes, the attempted fraud is kind of funny—the wording is so strange or the premise is so ridiculous (“An exiled prince needs my help transferring a million dollars? Really?”) that we’re left wondering how anyone could possibly fall for such an obvious money grab…(Read More)

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Intro to Insurance

Insurance coverage can be tricky to shop for, because it requires making specific financial decisions about some hazy and unpredictable concepts. Depending on the type of insurance you’re looking into, you might find yourself pondering some downright uncomfortable questions…(Read More)

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Organizing Your Finances

Every year, it’s nice to do a bit of “financial spring cleaning” and declutter your filing cabinet, your desk drawers, and the various hiding places where miscellaneous scraps of paper tend to accumulate and multiply. Read on to find out what you should be saving, and what’s OK to shred…(Read More)

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