How to Get Your Finances in Order

Alicia Adamczyk
, 13/11/2018 | Source: Two Cents

Should you pay off debt, or save for a rainy day? Knock out some of your student loan balance, or put some extra money toward your credit card debt? Focus on your savings account, or save for retirement?

Read more...

Guest Post: Disconnecting From The US Marketing Machine

Mr. 1500 Days
, 13/11/2018 | Source: 1500 Days to Freedom

Today’s guest post comes from the writer over at Getting Canned. Mr. Getting Canned is pretty good at losing jobs. He has been fired and not the good kind! When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

First of all thanks to Carl – Mr. 1500 himself, for allowing me a guest spot on this site to talk about finding happiness by disconnecting from the marketing machine. You’re doing great work, and I hope you’ll keep it up.  It makes me wonder where I’ll be 1,500 days from now.

The Consumer Mindset

Back in 2008, I was a fairly typical American consumer. I had some decent financial habits like investing and routinely contributing to a 401k. I wasn’t what I would have considered an irresponsible spender but looking back, I realize I bought into the consumerist mindset that keeps many of us on the earn and spend hamster wheel at the cost of a better future.

I bought into the idea that I needed to maintain an image professionally and socially which of course required purchasing and maintaining brand name clothes regularly. I always had the latest phone or gadget, and we casually ate out often without giving the spending a thought. Even though I was a saver and investor, I didn’t realize how much of my earnings were slipping away with frivolous, unnecessary spending. I was a product of the US marketing system and was of the consumer mindset.

Now, I’ll mention that I lost my job towards the end of 2008 right as the financial crisis was kicking off. Being long-term unemployment didn’t stop me from dropping several hundred on a new iPhone 4 in 2010. How’s that for priorities?

I was well programmed by the US marketing machine to believe that happiness was the result of spending on the right experiences and things. Successful marketing makes a potential customer aware of a real or perceived problem that creates a dissatisfaction. Once the dissatisfaction is created, the marketer positions their product or service as the solution to this problem oftening winning the sale.

Manufacturing Dissatisfaction

The marketing we’re all routinely exposed to creates dissatisfaction in our lives that otherwise would not exist. Consider that no one truly needs to spend $65,000+ on a luxury car to meet their needs or be happy. Paying such a sum to get from A to B is a bit absurd when you consider the opportunity cost of wealth lost. Much more absurd when you realize wealth builds freedom and gives you your time back.

But the luxury car is not about getting from A to B. This is accomplished easily enough with a used economy car purchased for under $10K. It takes creative marketing to motivate someone to drop such a sum into a car purchase, and it’s typically an ego driven decision. The marketing is psychological, subtle, effective and rather brilliant. The ads attack the ego.

Car companies show ads that subtly and subconsciously send the message, “If you don’t drive this car, you’re a failure/not a man/haven’t achieved success”. You send messages like…”You work hard and you deserve freedom and joy after a hard days work- otherwise, it’s all for nothing”.

The psychology is sharp and focused with good marketing. Perhaps marketers will target the successful independent woman for example. They can subtly imply that her failure to buy a luxury car is due to being afraid her husband will judge her decision as irresponsible. Not buying the car means she’s not independent and buying it will demonstrate her strength. A direct attack on the ego.

Come on!  Just Ignore These Silly Ads.

Doing what you can to avoid ads will help. Turn off the TV. Read a book. (But keep checking out blogs!) Marketers know that you aren’t going to be interested in their ads, but many are designed in a way that the ad is effective on a subconscious level. Consciously speaking, ads don’t register with me. But on a subconscious level, I think they do play into our motivations and perceptions. After all, ads bombard us. Billboards, radio, TV, podcasts, movies. You can try to disconnect but many ads will still slip into your view.

Disconnecting From the Marketing Machine

So I mentioned I lost my job in 2008 as the financial crisis was kicking off. I was ready to take any position that would have me. At this time I was less aware of the various ways that an entrepreneur might earn such as freelancing or through the gig economy. That would come later. What happened next was that I became aware of an opportunity that would take me to another country where English was not the primary language. I accepted a job teaching English in Taiwan and booked a 20-hour trip to get there.

Off to Asia

Living in Taiwan was great for many reasons. The food was new and exciting and the Taiwanese have many delicious dishes like hot pot and beef noodles. They’re also known as being the originators of bubble milk tea. If you get a chance to visit Taiwan, look for a dish called “stinky tofu.” (It’s better then it sounds.)

Taiwan is also an excellent hub to do travel to other parts of Asia at a relatively reasonable price. (You can travel to some countries for less than $80). But one of the best things about being in a place where the primary language was Chinese, is that you’re not a significant part of the population enough that marketers will target you.

Sure I was still surrounded by ads from many types of media. But they were in Chinese. As such, they went over my head. I disconnected from the marketing machine considerably. Major luxury car brands still ran their ads, but I didn’t have to hear the attack on my ego. They were just videos of nice overpriced cars driving around with someone speaking Chinese over them.

Being disconnected from the marketing machine of the West I noticed something. My desire to spend seemed to drop naturally. In three years of living in Asia, I rarely bought new clothes. I stopped desiring a fancy car or any clothes that displayed status. I was happy enough as is and realized that I had what I needed.

Where I Found Happiness

I found happiness in having a life where I could sleep in a bit and avoid waking up to the dreaded alarm clock. This life was a bit of a preview of the financial independence I’m relatively close to achieving in the next couple of years. The life of an English teacher is a bit lax. It typically consists of working around 20 hours a week in the late afternoons to early evenings.

I found happiness in conversations with friends and enjoying good meals together. It’s possible to have great times while spending very little to nothing. Riding a used $400 scooter up a mountain to explore gives a sense of freedom that would rival any Audi or BMW ad experience I’ve seen.

I discovered passion and meaning in travel. All travel is enriching but global travel offers an opportunity to see other cultures as well as gain a new perspective of our own culture through an outside lens. (Using chopsticks to cook raw meats in a communal hot pot soup at least made me question if Americans are a bit overzealous about our fear of germs).

Making friends and meeting new people from around the world bring a sense of happiness that didn’t cost anything. Travelers from around the world share a sense of comradery since it’s a bit of a shared experience to see a new place for the first time, regardless of where you originate.

Where I Didn’t Find Happiness

I didn’t even own a car when I lived in Taiwan. For the first year, I lived in a small town where I got around on a used scooter I bought from another teacher for less than $400. Later, I moved to the city of Taipei and got around mostly by public transportation. I never once envied the people getting around in BMWs or Lexuses or the luxury brands I never saw in the US.

The climate was hot and humid, and the idea of fancy clothes seemed silly. You’re just going to get sweaty. Most of the time, an old pair of shorts and a t-shirt was sufficed to feel ok for the day. I didn’t feel the need for expensive shoes or clothes to try to show that I was “cool.”

Minimalism and Empowerment

As funny as it sounds, eliminating unnecessary needs and spending is an empowering feeling. When you realize that you don’t need to buy so many things to exist or be happy you feel more self-sufficient, and you achieve happiness that breaks the cycle of dependency on spending and things.

There’s a saying that I’m probably going to butcher and I can’t recall the source but it goes something like:

I’m rich not because of my wealth but because of my lack of wants.

Was it Ben Franklin? Someone drop me a line and let me know.

 

These days Rob is back in the US working but close to heading out into the world to travel and freelance full time. You can read more about job independent earning and travel as well as my experiences after losing my job at gettingcanned.com

The post Guest Post: Disconnecting From The US Marketing Machine appeared first on 1500 Days to Freedom.

How To Start Investing In Your Future With Little Money

Thomas Minter
, 13/11/2018 | Source: Millennial Money

You can do a lot with a little.

And when it comes to investing, that couldn’t be truer. If you have $1,000, $100, or even just $25, you can start investing today — right now.

So if you’re looking to figure out where and how to start investing, here are 11 ways to do that with whatever money you have today.

 

Why You Should Invest Even If You Don’t Have Much Money

 

It sounds too obvious to even say, but you’re never going to get rich if you don’t invest in some form. Even lottery winners invest their money before becoming millionaires (we’re not at all suggesting you play the lottery).

People are scared of the risk, but isn’t it a risk to not invest? What happens if an emergency hits? What if you’re never financially free?

Even if you don’t have much, you can let compounding interest work for you. The sooner you invest, the more interest can accrue, and the more money you can make in the long-run.

The sooner you start, the less weight will be on your shoulders later on.

Now, moving on to specific ways to answer the question, “how to start investing with little money”.

 

How to start investing with little money (11 Best Ways)

 

If you’re looking to figure out where and how to start investing, here are 11 ways to do that with whatever money you have today.

 

The Good Ol’ Fashion Cookie Jar

 

Saving and investing are like siblings. You can’t really do one without the other. And using a cookie jar to save coins and cash can be a great way to start saving and, in turn, investing.

You can start slow — just save any loose change left over from the coffee you buy or the cost of parking. If you can put in, say, $5 a week, that can turn into $260 a year.

If you’re new to saving or investing, this can be something that helps you practice. It helps you develop the habit of not overspending but reinvesting in your future. And it doesn’t have to be a literal cookie jar — you could use a simple savings account (and even label it “cookie jar”).

 

Get In On Your Employer’s Retirement Plan

 

Even if money is tight, you can look into contributing to the 401(k) your employer offers. You can choose the amount, so if you can only do $5 per paycheck, that’s at least a start.

Plus, many employers have a matching program where they’ll deposit a certain percentage into your 401(k) based on what percentage you choose to deposit.

And then each year as your annual pay raise comes around, you can up the percentage your putting into the account. And because of the increase in pay, you may not even be impacted by the increased contributions.

 

Invest In Mutual Funds With A Low Initial-Investment Amount

 

A mutual fund is a type of investment account that spreads your money across stocks and bonds.

The biggest downside of mutual funds is that most of the time, they require a large amount of money to be invested initially. We’re talking between $500 and $5,000. And as a first-time investor, those numbers probably don’t work for you.

On the flipside, there are mutual fund companies that may make an exception if you agree to small automatic monthly contributions, like $50 to $100 a month. When you talk with an investment advisor, ask if this is an option.

What’s nice is you can set up these automatic payments to come out of your paycheck, so you don’t even have to think about it. Once your mutual fund is set up, the human resource department at your place of employment should be able to help.

 

U.S. Treasury Securities

 

Although a Treasury security (aka a savings bond) isn’t a huge money-making investment option, it can be a nice place to put your money and earn some interest.

You can buy these through the U.S. Treasury’s online savings bond portal called Treasury Direct. You can buy fixed-rate bonds that have maturity periods from 30 days to 30 years. And the great news is that bonds can cost as little as $100.

These, too, can pull money right from your payroll if you’d like.

 

Set Up A Consultation With A…Robo-advisor?

 

If you’d rather not hire a human investment manager or advisor because of the cost, you can hire a robot to do that.

You can use a service like Betterment to automatically spread your investments among different stocks and bonds. Computer software does the whole thing.

You can start with investments as small as $100, so it’s a great option if you want to avoid large fees and easier access to your money.

 

Crowdfunded Real Estate

 

This one might surprise you, but you can invest in real estate with not much money. With crowdfunded real estate, you can put down as little as $1,000 investment.

The way it works is that you team up with other real estate investors, pool your money, and buy some real estate. You become a partial owner of the property and any profit made from selling the real estate would come back to you.

You can get started with crowdfunded real estate investment using websites like Fundrise.

 

Gold And Other Precious Metals

 

Investing in precious metals like gold or other metals can actually have a good payoff. There are doubters and critics, but the idea is that metals hold their value because they’re physical, tangible products.

The downside is that you won’t see dividends — it’s literally a piece of metal or rock that you’d lock away and hope to someday sell it for more than you bought it. However, the price of gold has gone up by over 300% in the bast three decades.

It’s a risk, and you’re basically hoping that the demand for gold and other precious metals will skyrocket and people will be desperate for it.

But if you think it’s a viable investment, you can buy gold or precious metals through your brokerage or from the U.S. Mint.

 

Stock Options

 

Stock options are not to be confused with stocks. Stock options are contracts that give you the ability to buy and sell a stock.

You can buy “calls” or “puts.” Calls are options that are projected to go up in price. Puts are projected to fall.

Dealing with stock options can get very complicated and they’re also pretty risky. The benefit is that you can start with very little money and get big rewards. It just comes down to the risk-reward ratio and what you’re willing to put on the line.

 

Commodities

 

Commodities can be things like oil, natural gas, renewable energy, and agricultural products (crops or livestock).

By investing in these types of commodities, you’re basically relying on the supply and demand of the said commodity. The way it works is that you buy a future contract, and if the market price for that product is higher than your future contract, your investment is paying off and you’re making money.

 

Lending Money

 

If you have $1,000, you can lend that out to others as a type of investment. It is risky because you don’t know if the individuals you lend to will honor their end of the bargain. What you can do to counteract this risk is by lending lots of smaller amounts, like $25-50 a piece.

And rather than lending money to friends and family and risking tension in your relationships, you can do this online. Through companies like Prosper and Lending Club, you can get started with just a little bit of money.

You may want to try just a few smaller loans to see what the experience is like, then increase the amounts if you feel it’s worth it.

 

Certificates Of Deposit (CDs)

 

This is one of the oldest and most proven ways to invest your money. Certificates Of Deposit (CDs) are very safe and it’s clear what type of money you’ll end up with.

Through your bank or credit union, you can buy a CD at a fixed rate, which allows you to see exactly how much money you will have made when the CD matures. The bank then takes your money and lends it out.

The downside is that CDs offer much lower returns than other types of investments, but the risk is much lower.

 

So what are you waiting for? The sooner you start investing, the more you’ll make over time.

 

See Also:

Start Investing (4 Simple Steps) 

Best Investing Strategies 

Stop The Excuses & Start Crushing Money 

Investing Your Emergency Fund

and…

4 Best Micro-Investment Apps Right Now

 

The post How To Start Investing In Your Future With Little Money appeared first on Millennial Money.

How to Retire Happy with Lots of Money

Keith Taxguy
, 13/11/2018 | Source: The Wealthy Accountant

What is the secret to a happy retirement with lots of money? Here are a few who actually did it. When I started this blog a primary goal was to share the worldview from my side of the desk. Over the years I’ve seen things I would never have seen if I were not in the profession I am in. And now I’ve seen things in the early retirement community I can no longer keep secret.

Source

How I Purchased a Portfolio of 9 Houses at Once

Andrew Syrios
, 13/11/2018 | Source: The BiggerPockets Blog

reverse-1031-exchange

Buying groups of properties at once is a great way to rapidly increase your portfolio. The key is being able to find, evaluate, and finance such deals.

View the full article: How I Purchased a Portfolio of 9 Houses at Once on The BiggerPockets Blog. This content is Copyright © 2017 BiggerPockets, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

How I track investment returns

YoungFIGuy
, 13/11/2018 | Source: Young FI Guy

I’ve promised this for a long time. I’ve finally got round to tidying up my investment returns tracking spreadsheet!

Here’s the link to the spreadsheet: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gi7unt7BQ9QxkudPar3kSy8dufB-vx9IS7kw-nbDo8M

[Note: you need to go to ‘File’ -> ‘Make a copy’ to be able to edit it and use it for yourself]

An overview of how it works

A general tip is that anything highlighted in yellow is where you enter data. Everything else is automatic.

Returns

Investment returns tracker

The front page is in the Returns tab. At the top is the money-weighted return (IRR). There is also a time-weighted return, and a unit return (these are effectively the same/very similar, mainly there for my curiosity). These are measured over various periods from 1 month through to 10 years (annualised). Have a read of this if you want to know more about the difference between money and time-weighted returns.

Below these are year-by-year returns.

On the right, we have the overall cost of the portfolio expressed as a percentage. That includes both fund charges and platform costs (more on that in a bit).

Finally, we have some comparisons of our fund to a benchmark. Including the Information Ratio and .

Portfolio

This is where you enter your start date and the names of your accounts (the yellow boxes). In total there are 20 account tabs. You don’t need to use them all (Mrs YFG and I have 9 accounts across a number of brokers).

Allocations

Investment returns allocation

This tab has all the fancy allocation tables and charts which you may have seen in my ‘How I invest my money‘ post. There are a few places to enter data (the yellow boxes).

Portfolio tabs (numbered 1 through 20)

Investment returns portfolio tracker

This is where you enter your portfolio data. In the top left, this is where we enter our investments and details. If you hold listed securities (ETFs, shares, Investment Trusts etc.) then Google Finance will automatically return the prices (blue boxes). This used to work for mutual funds too. However, it seems Google has discontinued the service – you’ll have to enter data manually. There are further boxes where you enter the fund fees, and Class, Geography and Type (these are drop downs linked to the ‘Lookups’ tab, see below).

Many platforms offer a data export tool. In the area below you can paste this data in. If prefered, you can link the table to this if it’s easier.

To the right, we have the contribution/withdrawal table. Each month end you will need to fill this in so that returns are calculated.

On the far right, we have a table for on-going value. This doesn’t link anywhere, so it’s optional. But may be useful to see movements of particular funds/investments over time.

Calculations

This is the engine room of the spreadsheet. No need to enter any data here. I can’t remember exactly, but I think this is based on a Bogleheads spreadsheet.

Benchmarking

Investment returns benchmark

This tab is optional (unless you want benchmarking data). There are two options: “Google Finance” or “Manual”.

If you use Google Finance, you enter the ticker of your index or ETF benchmark (cell I11) and all the calculations flow out.

If you use Manual, you enter the data yourself manually. You’d use this option if you wanted to use a mutual fund as a benchmark. Such as a Vanguard LifeStrategy fund.

Calcs

This brings together all the data from the portfolio tabs so that these are summarised for the Allocation tables and charts.

In here you need to enter the platform cost for each portfolio in the yellow boxes (Column M). [I know it’s not good practice to have to enter data in a summary calculation tab, but I got lazy!]

Lookups

Finally, there is the Lookups tab which is used for creating the various drop-down menus you see throughout the spreadsheet. Add and remove to these lists as you need.

That’s it!

Here again is the link to the spreadsheet: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gi7unt7BQ9QxkudPar3kSy8dufB-vx9IS7kw-nbDo8M

Please leave a comment or send me an email if you have any questions or spot any errors! Feedback is very welcome, so if you have any suggestions for improving the spreadsheet please let me know.

All the best,

Young FI Guy

The post How I track investment returns appeared first on Young FI Guy.

What Have You NOT Sacrificed On Your FI Journey

Lance Cothern
, 13/11/2018 | Source: ChooseFI

Sometimes, it seems like achieving financial independence (aka, FI) is the only thing that matters. You take a hard look at your finances and find every piece of fat you can cut. For a while, it may not seem like a big deal. After all, you’re working toward FI which is the ultimate freedom. However, after a few months or years of living at the bare bone minimum, it can ... Read more

The post What Have You NOT Sacrificed On Your FI Journey appeared first on ChooseFI.

Job A Versus Job B. A Tale of Two Jobs

PoF@physicianonfire.com
, 13/11/2018 | Source: Physician on FIRE

Let’s compare two very different jobs. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call one Job A and the other Job B.

As you will see, these jobs have little in common with one another, but there is a tie that binds them.

Would you rather have Job A? Or Job B? Could you have the best of both worlds with a little from column A and a little from column B?

Let’s start comparing and contrasting, shall we?

 

Job A Versus Job B. A Tale of Two Jobs

 

Job A Versus Job B: Pay

 

Job A pays well. Americans working Job A earn a six-figure salary, even when working part-time.

Depending on the location and the details, Job A could pay as much as half-a-million dollars a year. Although you’ll pay plenty of taxes with an income like that, you’ll be able to save a lot, too, and financial independence can be reached in short order.

Job B doesn’t typically pay nearly as well. Most people with Job B do it as a hobby or a side hustle.

The pay for Job B might be zero or close to it. Some people earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars with Job B and it’s not unheard of to reach six-figures. A select few have been known to earn more than a million dollars a year, but that income level is reserved for a fraction of a percent of those with Job B.

 

 

job I: i am ironman

Job A Versus Job B: Benefits

 

lucidityWith Job A, you’ll likely be employed or part of a group or partnership. It’s common to be offered a benefits package, which may include subsidized or provided health insurance, a 401(k) or similar retirement plan with employer match, profit sharing contributions, and more.

With Job B, you’re on your own. Job B is typically a one-man or a one-woman show. If it grows to something more, you’ll be the boss, so you’re still on the hook for your own benefits package unless you have a more traditional job (Job C?) that provides them.

That means purchasing health care coverage, setting up your own retirement plan, and having no one to send your receipts to for reimbursement.

One bonus of Job B is that if you are making money at it, you can deduct some of those receipts as business expenses, a feature that you won’t have if employed with Job A.

 

Job A Versus Job B: Hours

 

Job A, while highly paid, is a demanding job. You can expect to start early, around 0600, and you may not get home until your family has gone to bed.

With Job A, you can expect to work holidays and weekends on a fairly regular basis. You’ll have more vacation time with Job A than with many other jobs, but you’ll earn them by working 24-hour shifts on a regular basis. For every week off, you might work two 72-hour weekends.

Job B’s hours, like the pay, can be highly variable. Some people spend a few hours a week doing it; others will spend a few hours a day. Some have made Job B their primary source of income, and they treat it more like a traditional 9-to-5 job.

Working Job B, you are your own boss, so no one tells you where to be, when, or for how long. Unlike Job A, there will be no work emergencies in the middle of the night. There is no defined vacation time, but you can take as much time off as you want.

 

Job A Versus Job B: Prestige

 

People you know will be well aware of your Job A, and you can expect to receive some level of respect and admiration from friends and family. They know that Job A is not something you just stumble into, and that you serve in a vital role.

Job B is a little different. People you know in real life might not realize you have Job B, and if they are aware of it, they probably won’t think much of it.

Strangely, though, if you do Job B well for a while, you’ll start to earn the respect and admiration of complete strangers. Whereas you’ll only be helping one or a few people at a time in Job A, with Job B you can help thousands of people at once. While it may not seem prestigious, Job B has the potential to have you be seen with tremendous esteem.

 

Job A Versus Job B: Location

 

Job A must be done in credentialed facilities with high-tech, expensive equipment. You will be a team member and will be at the beck and call of those who require your services.

This means living close to one of these facilities, commuting to it often, and being available to the facility on a moment’s notice at all hours of the day and night.

Job B can be done anywhere in the world. It helps to have a computer and an internet connection, at least intermittently, but one can take Job B on the road.

You could perform Job B from each of the seven continents without any particular credentials. Job A, on the other hand, requires expensive and time-consuming licensing and other credentials for each state in which you wish to work. Want to take the job overseas? It can get complicated quickly with Job A.

 

Job A Versus Job B: The Demands

 

People burn out from Job A fairly regularly. A mistake at work can have devastating consequences. Lives are on the line, and while you are part of a team, you may be the only one with a certain set of skills, and those skills will be called upon in emergency situations.

Time pressures are a routine part of the workday in Job A, as you are sometimes expected by two or three different people to be in two or three different places at once. While Job A can be rewarding, it can be quite stressful.

Job B is only as demanding as you want it to be. You may very well have the ability to change people’s lives, but no one is counting on you to save theirs.

The only deadlines and time crunches are self-imposed in Job B. Like Job A, time management skills can be vitally important if you want to have time for everything else in your life, but with Job B, you are in control of how much time you spend on various aspects of the job.

Compared to Job A, Job B is a walk in the park on a sunny, 70-degree day.

 

My Two Jobs

 

As you have likely guessed, I am intimately familiar with these two jobs, and the labels A and B are anything but arbitrary.

 

A is for Anesthesiologist.

B is for Blogger.

 

I’m in my thirteenth year working Job A. Counting residency and medical school, which were more difficult and much less lucrative, I’ve been immersed in medicine for over twenty years.

Job B is more new to me. This is my third year as a blogger.

While it has been difficult at times, I am proud of the work I’ve done as an anesthesiologist, and it has been a great career to have.

Now I find myself in an interesting place. Having saved and invested a substantial amount of that physician income, the income has become optional.

Furthermore, I now have this Job B, and the blogging job is much more family friendly. It’s also more fun, less stressful, and it gives me the opportunity to use the creative part of my brain that doesn’t come into play too much in Job A.

I am grateful to have had this Job A and will continue to have two jobs for the better part of another year, but I’m excited to transition to Job B in 2019, when I’ll be retired not retired.

 

 

Do you have multiple jobs? Have you left one for another? How did you decide which job to keep?

11 Low-Cost Mental Health Resources for Students and Grads

Guest Blogger
, 13/11/2018 | Source: The College Investor

mental health resources

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for advice from a mental health professional. Please seek help from a qualified practitioner.

Going through college is tough. It’s even worse when you have the burden of student loan debt, which a majority of college students do.

After graduation, the average student loan borrower faces a debt of over $37,000. When you’re trying to get through college, start your new adult life, and find a decent job, the stress of paying off student loans can be a lot to handle.

This stress can often lead to depression and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.

Symptoms of Depression Related to Student Debt

It’s almost a guarantee you’ll feel stressed out by your student loan debt. However, it can become a problem when the toll of this stress starts manifesting into physical or psychological issues.

Student Loan Hero surveyed over 1,000 student-loan borrowers. They found that psychological effects — caused by stress over student loans — varied from losing sleep to complete social isolation.

Losing Sleep

64.5 percent of respondents reported suffering from sleepless nights due to stressing about their student loan debt. Insomnia can lead to more serious issues, such as a low quality of life, poor job performance, and even mental health disorders.

Physical Symptoms, Such as Headaches, Muscle Tension, and an Upset Stomach

The constant feeling of being overwhelmed and burdened by student debt caused anxiety in respondents, which sometimes led to physical symptoms.

Isolation

As a result of student loan debt stress, over 74 percent of respondents reported that they often shut people out of their lives. Respondents shared several reasons why, from needing to work all the time to pay off debt to flat out being embarrassed by their debt load.

Seeking Help for Depression Related to Student Debt

You can seek help for depression related to student debt in a number of ways. One option is to utilize financial tools to help with student loan payments. Another is to improve your overall mental health through free or low-cost resources.

Financial Help

Student loan debt causes people to feel like they’ve lost control of their finances. Regain control by taking charge of your monthly student loan payments.

  • Refinance your student loans. Refinancing your student loans at a lower interest rate reduces monthly payments, and could even shorten your repayment period.
  • Sign up for an income-based repayment plan. For this option you have to meet specific requirements, but you should be able to qualify if student loan debt eats up a significant portion of your income. Under an income-based repayment plan, you’ll pay a lower monthly payment, though your payments will be spread out over 25 years.
  • Pause payments with a deferment or forbearance. Available for both federal and private loans, you can temporarily pause payments due to hardships with a deferment or forbearance. This can free up some money if you’re facing a rough patch, such as losing a job or facing a medical emergency. However, this option should only be used as a last resort.
  • Call your lender. If you aren’t sure which option to turn to, call your lender. Student loans are managed by student loan-servicing companies, and they want you to keep up with payments. If you’re at the end of your rope, your lender should be able to refer you to someone who can help.

Free or Low-Cost Mental Health Resources for Students

Looming student loan debt can be so stressful, some people become suicidal.

Suicide is never the answer, and there are affordable ways to get help. Here are 11 free or low-cost mental health resources.

1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7 for people in distress, as well as resources for you or your loved ones. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone for immediate support. They can also connect you with a local therapist or support group, depending on your personal needs.

If you don’t feel like talking to someone over the phone, their site also has a page dedicated to helping yourself. It provides helpful links to find local mental health services and suicide prevention therapists, plus content that teaches you how to build a support network and recognize personal warning signs.

2. Local Psychology Training Clinic

Usually located close to or included as part of a university, psychology training clinics are a low-cost option for therapy sessions. While the grad students conducting the sessions are still in training, they’re supervised by a licensed psychologist.

These sessions either charge based on a sliding scale, which can start as low as $0, or you’ll pay a flat fee. Check the Association of Psychology Training Clinics to find one near you.

3. YMCA Behavioral and Mental Health Services

YMCA offers low-cost mental health counseling for individuals. It’s available for adults experiencing difficult life issues that hinder their sense of well-being and personal growth.

The price varies, but follows an income-based scale. Search for your local YMCA and check their website to see if this service is offered.

4. Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 support to people in crisis. You don’t have to be contemplating suicide for it to constitute a crisis — you can reach out if you’re struggling with any kind of painful emotions that require support.

Text HOME to 741741 and within five minutes you’ll be connected to a trained crisis counselor. The goal of the conversation is to get you to a calm, safe place, whether that means having someone to talk to or getting a referral to seek additional help.

5. School Services

Many colleges and universities offer some kind of mental health service on campus. See if your school offers a campus counseling center, health center, or wellness group.

AffordableCollegesOnline offers a helpful resource on how students can get help both on and off campus. Additionally, Active Minds is a nationwide nonprofit with chapters on college campuses. They empower students to speak openly about mental health and seek helpful support.

National Alliance on Mental Illness is another organization that works with colleges to provide help to students. They have chapters in colleges throughout the country — search for your school here.

6. American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association provides helpful content and resources to help students learn more about depression and find local help. Use their psychiatrist locator, support group locator, or read through their expert Q&A section that focuses on depression.

7. Anxiety and Depression Association of America

The ADAA connects students with mental help professionals to treat anxiety and depression. Use their ADAA therapist directory to find a specialist near you, or read up on the content on their website.

They have a page dedicated to helping you with anxiety, and even break it down into specifics such as how to handle test anxiety and how to cope with stress during severe storms.

8. National Institute of Mental Health

The NIMH provides thorough information for common questions college students may have about depression. They cover everything including what depression is, what the symptoms are, how it’s treated, and what you can do for both yourself and others.

They also have a resource page full of national institutes and federal agencies that can help you find low-cost mental health services.

9. Clinical Trials

Taking part in a clinical trial is a free way to get help for mental illnesses. Sometimes the medical company conducting the study will even pay you to take part in it. The clinical trials are typically conducted through a university, medical center, or a medical research facility.

The National Institute of Mental Health has a page dedicated to clinical trials for adults with depression, though their studies are local to Maryland. To search for clinical trials near you, use the ClinicalTrials.gov study finder. Here, you’ll type in keywords in the “condition or disease” box. For example, “anxiety.”

10. Debtors Anonymous

Debtors Anonymous is a nonprofit with a goal of giving hope to people who are suffering because of their debt. Not sure if D.A. is right for you? Begin by taking a look at these questions.

Find a local Debtors Anonymous meeting here, or join one of their Internet groups here.

11. Affordable Therapists Through Open Path

Open Path is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people find access to affordable, high-quality psychotherapy services.

They’ll connect you with therapists who range from $30 to $50 per session. You will pay a one-time, lifetime membership fee of $49, but this fee gives you access to countless low-cost and highly qualified therapists.

Jacquelyn Pica is a writer at The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that helps you make smart money decisions. Here’s their latest guide on how to save money. Find her on Twitter @JacquelynTPH.

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Financial Engines Review: Advice and Investment Management

Robert Farrington
, 13/11/2018 | Source: The College Investor

Financial Engines review

For most new hires, it’s now common for employers to set up a small contribution into a 401(k). This is to ensure, at least until the employee changes it, that contributions are being made toward retirement.

The default setup by your company isn’t configured around your personal investing style nor is it meant to build your retirement in a meaningful way. For that, you’ll need to become more active in your investment management or hire someone to manage your investments for you.

Allowing a service to manage your investments is what we’re reviewing today.

Financial Engines is a company that has been around since 1996. They’ve been at the forefront of helping employees at Fortune 500 companies with personal financial guidance. As stated on their website, “We provide objective, fee-based advice and asset management, with an aim to help you build a better financial future, plain and simple.”

Who Is Financial Engines?

You can find Financial Engines (FE) at financialengines.com. They started in 1996 by providing online financial advice. From there, they moved into company-sponsored retirement plans — i.e., 401(k)s — and Social Security guidance. Some of their high-profile clients include Arby’s, Ford, Dell, Raytheon, and PG&E.

FE provides two primary services for employees:

  1. Financial advice
  2. Investment management

FE’s financial advice service provides investment recommendations personalized to the employee. It’s then up to the employee to execute those recommendations. The investment management service is different in that it does the execution for the employee. In doing so, the employee has to give up control over their retirement account.

The investment management service is not automatically enabled on your account. You have to request the service. Don’t forget to check how much it will cost and what is involved with turning the service off, in the case that you want to manage your account again.

FE also states on its website that it is a fiduciary. A fiduciary must put a client’s best interest first. In other words, FE must not gain (financially or otherwise) at your expense.

How Much Does Financial Engines Cost?

FE doesn’t publish its service fees. This is probably because they vary depending on the arrangement with the employer. In some cases, the employer may fully cover the FE fee for the employee.

Most robo-advisors charge well under 1% for their service fee. However, it’s important to note that FE isn’t a robo-advisor. For each of the two services mentioned above, there are real people involved.

I Already Have an Advisory Service with My 401(k)

If your employer uses any of the large brokerages for retirement management such as Fidelity, American Funds, Charles Schwab, or Merrill Edge, a retirement service is likely included. Additionally, the service is probably free. If that’s the case, you might ask: “Why would I pay for an advisory service?”

This comes down to differences between each service. One major difference with FE is that it can perform the executions on investment recommendations for you. Most other brokerages require that you initiate each investment recommendation.

Financial Advising for Your Personal Life

FE offers a lot of education and tools on its website to help employees understand the many aspects of investing and retirement planning. In 2016, they began offering personal financial advice beyond just an employee’s 401(k).

“We’re broadening our focus beyond retirement,” Lawrence Raffone, Financial Engines’ chief executive told Financial Advisor magazine. “We’re going to start helping people with even more of their finances.”

The above means that if you like FE’s services provided through your employer, you can basically extend their service offering so FE becomes a one-stop financial advisor management service for all of your finances.

Who Is Edelman?

In 2018, private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC paid $3.02 billion for FE. As stated in their press release, “Edelman Financial Services (“Edelman”), one of the nation’s largest independent financial planning and investment management firms, will be combined with Financial Engines as part of the transaction. H&F owns a majority interest in Edelman.”

Before the acquisition, FE was a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ with the FNGN ticker symbol. On 4/27/18, the stock closed at 33.73. It opened on 4/30/18 at 44.40 and traded fairly flat until 7/18 when it closed at 44.95 and stopped trading.

FE is not offered by all employers. If you aren’t sure if your employer offers services through FE, inquire about them. Be sure to ask about fees both from your employer and FE.

Also, check where the fee is originating (your employer or FE). If you are going to use FE’s managed service, you’ll likely incur additional fees.

It’s important to fully understand what is involved with the managed service and to confirm that FE is trading based on your risk profile.

You’ll want to ask ahead of time how the service is turned off should you want to take over management of your account again at some later point.

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