8 Tips For Newlyweds In Debt

If you’re a recent or upcoming newlywed, congratulations!  This is an exciting time, of course, and there’s so much ahead!  You’ve got many things to look forward to.  However, if you’re like many newlyweds, debt is a part of your life.  Nobody likes debt, but most of us have it.  Here are some tips for newlyweds in debt.

Be Honest

Hopefully, by now, you know everything there is to know about each others finances.  But, if you don’t, it’s never too late.  Make sure you both come clean about all of your debt.  You have to know where you’re starting from.

Rank Your Debt

Newlyweds in debt should make it a goal to get out of debt, or reduce it as much as possible.  Once you have all of your debts listed, start ranking them.  Figure out which ones you would like to get rid of first.  A variety of factors can tie into these decisions.  Do you have some debts with small balances that you can get out of the way easily? Are there high interest rate debts?  Or, do you owe money to family that you’d like to pay back?  Each couple will rank their debts differently, but it’s important to have a plan.

Create A Budget

Once you’re married, it’s important to create a budget.  If you’ve never done a budget, the first step is to simply track your spending.  Make sure you know where every dollar that you spend is going.  Also, understand every dollar that’s coming in.  Then, you can make a budget based on this information.  Sometimes you’ll have to adjust your budget as seasonal changes can create variances throughout the year.  The idea is to have money left over that you can use to pay down your debt faster.

Cut Spending

After you’re in tune with your budget, look at ways you can cut spending.  Every dollar you don’t spend is money you can allocate toward your debt.  Can you go out to eat less?  What about not having drinks while out for dinner?  Could you make your coffee at home?  A few dollars here and there may not seem like much, but it adds up quickly.

Increase Your Income

While cutting spending can free up money, so can bringing more money home!  Work hard at your job.  Apply for promotions.  Look for new opportunities.  In addition to your regular job, look for side hustles.  Can you tutor? Would you enjoy driving for Uber or Lyft now and then?  Can you house sit or clean a house or two?   When you have extra money, throw it right to accelerating your debt payments.

 Have An Emergency Fund

Before you attack debt, make sure you have $1,000 set aside for unexpected costs.  It may be tempting to put every dollar to debt, but you need a cushion.  Life throws things at you, and if you have an emergency fund there, you won’t have to worry about adding more debt to your life should something unexpected happen.

Don’t Ignore Retirement

You may be tempted to put every dollar you can toward debt, even if you forsake retirement savings.  I would advise against that.  Even if you put just a couple percent of your paycheck toward retirement, it’s building a good habit for a lifetime of savings.  More importantly, if your employer offers a match, make sure you contribute at least the amount necessary to get the full match.  Otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.

Look Ahead

Newlyweds in debt may find themselves with a great plan if they follow the steps above.  However, it’s important to look ahead.  Make sure you understand where you think you’ll be in a few years time.  If you plan on starting a family, have a plan on how that will impact your finances.  These decisions could alter the priorities you set earlier.  You may find you’ll balance things out differently if your long term and short term goals diverge, which they probably will.

These are just a few tips I have for newlyweds in debt.  Will they get you out of debt instantly? No.  It’s often a long road.  But, the point is to make progress, and these tips will hopefully help.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

9 Tips To Take Care Of Your Roof

We replaced our roof a few years ago.  It cost us a lot of money.  Chances are if you own a home for a long period of time, you’ll have to replace the roof.  Once you do, you’ll want to keep it lasting for as long as possible.  With winter just a few months away, give your roof some attention.  A few easy tips and you can extend the life of your roof.  This can save you thousands in the long run.  Here are some tips to take care of your roof.

Inspect It Regularly

I don’t get up on my roof regularly.  However, I do walk around and check things out regularly.  I will look things over every spring.  After a big windstorm, I always walk around.  So far I haven’t noticed any problems, which is great.  However, if there did happen to be a problem, early detection and repair is key.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

We have a lot of tall trees around our home.  Every year the leaves clog the gutters.  I don’t enjoy paying to have the gutters cleaned, but I do anyway.  Clogged gutters can increase your chances of ice dams under the shingles.  Gutters that are clear will allow water to drain off properly.

Keep Trees Trimmed

As I mentioned above, we have many mature trees.  We keep them trimmed regularly.  One of the things I had done during trimming is to have branches close to the roof removed.  I don’t want them scratching against the roof.  Nor do I want branches or twigs falling loose onto the roof.

Remove Debris

If something does land on your roof, make sure it gets removed.  Moisture can form underneath anything that sits on your roof for a long period of time.  Getting up on your roof isn’t fun, nor is paying someone to do so.  However, if you need your roof cleared of something, you may have to bite the bullet.

Stay Off The Roof As Much As Possible

Try to stay off the roof if at all possible.  As mentioned above, there might be times when you need to get up there.  However, try to stay off of it.  People traipsing around will just create additional wear and tear.  This can shorten the life of your roof.  Additionally, many roofs have materials which are meant to reduce spotting or mildew.  Anytime you get on the roof, you knock some of this material off.  So, stay off the roof if you can.

Don’t Mess With The Structure Below

A co-worker of mine once had an attic fan installed.  Without their knowledge, the installers cut through part of a truss.  A roofer later told them that this was bad as the trusses are installed in a way to evenly distribute the load.  They ended up having to take on an expensive repair to reinforce their structure.  Make sure anything you have installed, such as attic fans or solar panels, don’t modify the support structure of the roof itself.

Leave The Snow On The Roof

Going along with the item above, it’s usually best to leave snow alone.  There is the occasional snowfall that does require removal, but most of the time, the roof can handle heavy snowfalls.  Homeowners that attempt to rake or shovel the snow off often cause unnecessary harm to their roof.  If you are nervous about the snow on your roof, call a roofer.

Ventilate Your Attic

When we had our roof redone, our roofer added more soffet vents.  He said that code dictated how many vents need to be installed during construction.  Builders follow this. However, this is way short of what roofing manufacturers recommend.  More ventilation keeps the attic space from overheating.  It also reduces moisture buildup from underneath.

Hire Professionals

If you have any work done tied to the recommendations above, hire professionals.  Whether it’s someone working on your roof or someone that will come in contact with it, professionals are much more used to being up on a roof.  Solid pros will know how to do their work with the roof in mind.  They should also be insured in the event that anything does happen.

To properly take care of your roof, these are practices I follow.  I hope that they’re helpful.  Everyone wants a long lasting and healthy roof.  After all, the roof is what covers us up!

Readers, what do you do for your roof?  What tips do you have to take care of your roof?  Let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Ways For Families To Manage Student Loan Debt

If your family has student debt, you’re not alone.  If you feel like it’s a mountain with no end in sight, that’s also quite normal.  The fact is that student loan debt is a huge part of our lives.  Some people think that their debt is something they’ll have to deal with forever.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can manage student loan debt.  It might not be easy or quick, but a good plan can pay off.  Here are a few way for your family to manage student loan debt.

Make Student Loan Debt Payoff A Priority

Some people think that student loan debt will be around forever.  For some people, paying off their debt is just another bill payment.  If you’re serious about getting rid of student loan debt, give it more priority.  Additional attention is necessary to tackle something so big.

Additionally, your entire family will have to commit to your plan to manage student loan debt.

Build excitement. Look at the end goals.  Picture your life without debt.  Have plans for what you can do when student loan debt is gone.

To properly manage your student debt will take time and dedication.  Know this up front and be ready for a long but fulfilling journey.

Create A Budget

If you don’t have a budget, now is the time to get started.  You cannot manage student loan debt optimally without one.  A budget will show everything you’re bringing in and sending out.  Put student loan debt payments at the top of your budget.  Make sure it’s front and center.  Give it the attention in your budget and it will spill over into your life.

Keep in mind there are some tips, especially if you’ve never had a budget before.  Start simple.  Spend some time just tracking at first.  Eventually, expand it to track goals.  Then, track against them.  Keep building your budget.  A good budget is something you grow into.  A good budget will help you manage student loan debt.  It won’t take long to get there, I promise!

Review Your Extras

Once you’re cruising along with your budget, start looking at it in depth.  What are your spending categories?  Are any of your spending habits changeable?

The goal here is to find money in your budget that you can re-allocate to your student loan payments.  Any bit of extra counts!  Don’t think that just because it’s only $5, you shouldn’t bother.  Guess what?  Every dollar makes a difference!  Plus, dollars add up.  In fact, starting small is a great way to start.  Chances are you’ll find small amounts and the difference in your life won’t even be noticeable.  Once you get a few of these changes under your belt, you can challenge yourself to go bigger.

Keep reviewing your spending and asking what you can change.  Premium cable channels.  Your cell phone bill.  In fact, do you really need to replace your cell phone already?  All of these and many other things are questions you can ask.  The answers can help manage student loan debt.

Allocate New Money

If you want to start paying down your debt faster, a great way is to allocate new money.  When you get a raise at work, figure out the difference in your paycheck and increase your student loan payment.  If you get a bonus, send that as a one time payment.  Same goes with income tax refunds.

The bottom line is that you should be living within the budget you created earlier.  Committing extra money to your student loans is a fast and easy way to knock that balance down.

Set Goals And Track Targets

Paying off your student loans will likely take considerable time.  In order to stay motivated, set some targets.  Every so often, check how you’re doing.  Targets give you something to track along the way.  For example, if you set a target to pay off 5% of your balance the first year, but you end up paying off 6%, that’s great progress.  It may not seem like a lot, but it is.  Why? Because it shows that you’re ahead of schedule.

That kind of little check up can provide extra motivation to keep on going.  Plus, you can challenge yourself to do even better the next year.

Snowball Payments

If you can pay extra on your loans, target one payment for the extras.  Which one is up to you. Some people like paying off the loan with the smallest balance.  Others prefer targeting the loan with the highest interest rate.  To me, there’s no hard and fast rule.  But, regardless, pick one and knock it out.

Why do I recommend this instead of spreading payments to multiple loans?  For me, it’s a matter of motivation.  Once you get a loan fully paid off, guess what? You’re going to feel great.  That’s going to be a meaningful accomplishment!  You can immediately start applying that payment to the next loan.  Then you can knock that one out, and so on and so forth.

A side benefit is that eliminating loans change your cash flow obligation.  While the goal is to never reduce your student loan payment, reducing the number of payments does give you flexibility in the event of an emergency or job loss.

Celebrate Milestones

Paying off your student loans can take years. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture over a long period of time.  In order to reduce this, set milestones and celebrate.  When you hit your first 10%, go to a special dinner.  If you get that smallest loan paid off, consider a small getaway.  When you’re halfway there, get that fancy bottle of wine you once sipped.

These little motivations along the way will show definite achievement.  And, the celebrations will keep you motivated to hit the next goal.  That’s what it’s all about in the end!

I hope that these tips have helped.  I won’t sugarcoat it.  Paying off debt isn’t easy, especially if you have a lot of it.  But, you can do it and you can come in way ahead if you follow these steps.

Readers, do you have any good stories about paying off student loan debt?  How do you manage student loan debt?  Please comment below.  And, thanks so much for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Ways To Nail Your Job Interview

So you found the perfect job.  There’s only one problem.  First, you have to nail your job interview.   Well, actually you need to get the job interview first.  But once you get it, you need to stand out.  Here are some ways to nail your job interview.

Dress Nicely

Don’t be flashy. Dress professionally.  You want to stand out in your job interview, but not for the wrong reasons.  If you dress nice, it shows respect toward the interviewer and the company.

Start And Finish By Saying Thank You

Even though it’s their job, the person interviewing you is giving you their time.  Make sure you express appreciation for that.  Give a nice smile and handshake while saying thank you at the beginning.  At the end, thank them again.  Manners matter for people of all ages.  Use them.

Be Confident, Not Arrogant

Your job at the job interview is to make them know that you can do the job.  Be confident, but not to the point of arrogance.  Don’t talk about how you’ll make things better once you’re hired.  That shows a lack of respect for how they do things today.

Make It Clear Why You Want This Job

Don’t spend a lot of time talking about your current job.  For sure, don’t bash it.  And, if spend time talking about things you want to do at your next job, make sure it fits with the job you are interviewing for.  Many people spend a lot of time talking about themselves, their skills, and their goals, but forget to tie those things to the actual job.  Interviewers can see through this.

Turn The Interview Into A Conversation

When I interview people, I have a list of questions that I want answered.  However, the best interviews are those where the time spent is more of a conversation versus going down a list one by one.  If done well, at the end of the conversation, the interviewer will be able to look at their list and see that most have been answered.  And they’ll have enjoyed the interview much more.

Explain Why Your Skills And Experience Matter

Your resume lists your skills and experience.  The interview is the place to prove why they matter.  If you kicked butt on a project, explain how that helped your company.  When you have a skill you are proud of, show how you used it or plan to use it.  At no point in a job interview should it sound like you’re reading a bunch of bullet points.

Know How To Answer The Dreaded ‘Biggest Weakness’ Question

“What’s been your biggest weakness?”  That’s the question that sends shivers down the spines of most people.  Here’s the thing.  A good interviewer isn’t looking for a particular weakness so much as what you have done about it.   They want to see that you can identify a weakness, and take action to solve it.  Your answer should show that you can take ownership and that you can problem solve.

Know The Company

Learn about the company.  Have information about their history.  Talk about it when the time is right.  Don’t force in the facts you know.  That’ll be a little too obvious.  But when you’re able to fit in the fact that you know your stuff, it can make a big difference.

Ask Questions

This is standard advice.  However, be careful.  Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking questions.  People see through that.  And then they feel like you’re wasting their time.  Come up with 5-10 questions before the interview.  But here’s the thing: Don’t ask all of them.  If you do, you turn into that annoying kid in class always raising his hand.  A list of questions will give you a couple of things to ask at natural points of the interview.

Be Respectful Of Time

There’s a few things that go into this one.  Be early to the interview.  But, not too early.   You don’t need to sit around a waiting room for 30 minutes. You can pull in the parking lot that early, but sit in the car for 20 minutes.  Keep the interview flowing.  Stay away from the filler.  You don’t need to rush through things, but don’t drag it along.

These are just some tips that I’ve learned over the years.  I’m sure there are many more.  While these won’t guarantee your job, they certainly can help.

Readers, I’d love to know your thought and tips.  What have you seen or done in a job interview to stand out?   What other tips do you have to nail your job interview?  Please comment below, and thanks for reading!

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.