Need Advice on Student Loans Consolidation

Hello, I will soon complete my Masters’ Degree in IT … whew! I have student loans of two types: Unsubsidized and Subsidized Federal Stafford loans, both with Key Bank. I also have a loan with Nelnet for my prior 2-year degree in IT at a local college.

I would greatly appreciate any advice, tips, information on the best way to do a loan consolidation. I wish I could say my degrees made me a great deal smarter in the area of finances …

Currently my FICO is around 500. I just achieved a mortgage loan modification with a reduction in interest rate from 12.75% to 6%. I have several late pays on my credit report for my credit cards, but am now current with my accounts, and working the debt snowball.

As an IT professional myself I can say that you have entered one of the most dynamic industries. You can expect to have 3-5 years of employment follow by as much as 6-12 months of unemployment. If you do not have OTJ skills you may not get in at all. Its a flooded market.

It also sounds like you need some classes in money management. Until you are able to take responsibility for your current fiscal situation you are headed for a financial disaster.

Thank you for your response, but unfortunately you are missing a great deal of the story.

I am currently Word Processing Department Manager at a mid-sized national law firm of over 225 lawyers. I have never been out of work since I started working 25 years ago. My current firm, in fact, offered me a position in our IT Department, but I declined in favor of my current position, which is very stable.

Part of the reason I got my current job (and a 12 1/2% salary increase after my first year’s review) was because of my Associates’ Degree in IT – they wanted someone to run the department who has an IT background and can help IT with projects (especially testing), and take on Help Desk duties for Microsoft applications.

My plan in continuing on with my education to get my Masters’ Degree in IT is so that I can eventually transition out of the legal field and into a teaching position – which I hope will take me well past retirement age (I don’t like the idea of retirement, I have to have something to do).

The local college where I got my Associates’ Degree is already in discussions with me to hire me as a part-time adjunct instructor as soon as I complete my Masters’ Degree this December. So once I start getting some teaching under my belt, hopefully I can transition gradually over the next ten years into full-time teaching.

Perhaps student loans weren’t the best way to go, but as for the rest of it, I am afraid you have a completely wrong picture of me and my work history.

Programs like menvelopes?

Hi, I was looking at the description for Menvelopes and it looks like a good program, but it’s only available in the US and Canada. Do people know of a similar program that works outside the continental US, perhaps not a program that actually accesses databases, but which helps plan budgets proactively rather than as a result after the fact, as Quicken does. I have Quicken, but agree with the blurb about it in Menvelopes that it is giving you a report after the fact of what you spent, hoping you do better the next month. A program that would help you determine what you can logically spend prior to spending would be good to know about. I’m not the best person for doing a budget and sticking to it.

You can do the Envelopes thing by yourself and a lot cheaper. Here is how….

Take an envelope for every bill you pay. Then also take extra for clothes, food, entertainment, car repairs, furniture, and even one for “rainy day.”

At the beginning of each month determine how much each envelope gets.

If you can’t give each envelope money then, divide the money by your paychecks into a seperate envelope.

Then, pay your bills on time. Add a little to the other envelopes. DO NOT TOUcH THESE UNLESS you need money for car repairs or whatever you put on it. You will need car repairs or tires sooner or later. IF you don’t have the money, you mess up your budget.

Budget yourself a certain amount for food. Once you have spent it. you need to be creative as to what is in your cabinet. In other words, you will be forced to use coupons and other items.

It will work if you use it. The online program just makes it “easy” to see. That’s all. You can do the same at home.

I made a spreadsheet with excel and taped it on each envelope. That helped. I also downloaded a FREE program called persona checkbook advantage. It helps me put each bill into catagories.

All I wanted was to be without bills in 2 years. It is really working.

Also, check out – it is a free program for expense tracking. Just like the envelopes, you can set up a budget with different categories and monitor you spending. Some defaults are cool – like budgets have a default Savings category. You can also set up reminders for bills and such.

Garnishment question

They have been garnishing my wages for about 2 years now. I did not have to go to court for them to start that just all of a sudden my check was about $200 less than it should be. I did get numerous letters from them which I of course ignored because I didn’t have the money. I just recently contacted them to make arrangements to make the payments myself. We originally has settled on $250 a month. They neglected to tell me if I make 3 voluntary payments they will stop the garnishments. They just said they were going to stop the garnishments. So the garnishments continued and I had to call them back and tell them I was unable to meet our previous arrangement if they were going to continue to garnish my check, after all they got almost $500 from me in the month of Aug since they take $150 per check from me.

They swear they told me about the 3 voluntary payments that were necessary to stop the garnishments. Anyway they made another arrangement with me where I still have to make 3 voluntary payments but those only have to be $10 payments. After the 3 $10 payments the garnishments stop and I start making the payments of $250 per month. It’s still a lot of money for me to come up with every month but it’s $50 less than what they garnish my check for so that gives me more money to put towards other debts. I am so glad they are willing to work with me. Do anyone know if when they garnish your wages all the money they take goes to the student loan debt or is there some fees applied to the cost of being garnished?

The garnishment is court ordered, if you had gone to court, it might have worked out better for you, therefore, since you didnt go to court, they got a default judgement against you, and put it on your credit report. It is possible that a portion of the garnishment goes to fees, but the vast majority should go toward the amount owed. Student loans are 1 kind of debt that you can not escape or avoid. You can ask for a new hearing on the judgment, you might be able to reduce the overall payment they are requiring.

But with student loans it is NOT court ordered.

They DO NOT have to go to court to get a garnishment, they do not have to notify you. They have rights above and beyond any other creditor.

There are fees, but not very much. I have been watching mine very closely, I have less than $1000 left, and will be paying it off in one month, but they take 15% out of my check every two weeks.

I would suggest the person below, call the collection agency, and ask them what the balance is, and then call back in a couple of months, and ask again, that will give you an idea of how much is being added to the loans.

Again student loans do NOT have to go to court to garnish your check. They do not have to notify you that they are, they simply do out of “courtesy”

I don’t know if its “court ordered” or not. My husband has been delinquent on his student loan more then once and on the verge of defaulting and they send tons of letters! I mean TONS! Unless you are not paying attention they absolutely notify you of their impending actions. Maybe they are’nt required to do so.. I don’t know. But you will be notified of impending garnishment and other things. Trust me! They are the Government so I would think they can do as they wish and not need a court order but they DO notify you because my husband has been on the receiving end of that and I have the letters to prove it.

I would not get rid of the house in this economy right now

I would not get rid of the house in this economy right now. Its unlikely they’ll have anyone beating down the door to buy it first off and secondly they’ll probably take a loss. It would be better to figure out a way to increase income and cut other expenses and there is no reason why the son and gf cant help out. Life is not free and they should’nt expect to live off of mom and dad for free now.. its time they grow up and start paying their way and paying to mom and dad will be much cheaper then to someone else. Really that’s their only alternative. If they dont pay mom and dad then they will have to go live somewhere else and pay someone else. They need to realize this and get used to the idea.

bakingI didn’t mention baking but its not a bad idea. In my neighborhood we had a lady who baked cakes and cookies out of her kitchen. When my son got married she made the grooms cake. Ok, she took a night course at the local college on baking and icing cakes. She needed just a few extra things but her kitchen suited her fine. She made birthday, wedding, and other ocassion cakes. They cost about what they did at a store, but were a whole lot better. She made extra cash and we enjoyed the cake. You will be surprised how people will be willing and ready to use you if you make yourself available.

Rent or mortgage should only be 25-30% of your take home pay to be comfortable. It does not leave us with much house either, so I know how that goes!!!

I would definitely get a food budget going – there are ways around the frozen foods – can you cook up enough for everyone (or have your daughter in law do it) and then freeze portions? Or just have a casserole in the fridge that can be heated up by portions? I have found by experience that cooking is not very much longer than the supposed “fast and easy”….

And yes, if your bill pay allows scheduling and you know that you have $150 from the paycheck on xxx date for the light bill, schedule it that moment. That way it is out of your mind and you are home free. The trick of doing it on payday (or the day after) is that it won’t bounce because you just got paid that day. This is only good if your paycheck is reliable. But how often has DH not been paid on time? Versus how often someone has forgotten to pay the light bill? Also, consider applying for cash advance. Last time I needed cash to pay for surgery When I broke my leg in Orlando I applied here for a payday loan, got the money the same day and repaid the loan with my next paycheck. So, I can say only good things about those guys.

Last paragraph:

Suppose you get a $300 Visa bill and you don’t have $300 out of any paycheck in the next month…. Immediately schedule a $1 payment (or whatever small amount you do have) for payday. That way there is a placeholder for this bill – a payment will go out and you are not just putting the bill on the table and walking away. I am assuming you have some way of budgeting your spending money – envelopes are fairly usual – so you would take out $500 in cash from DH’s check and put $100 in an envelope labeled food, and $100 in an envelope labeled “Gasoline” and so on…. by next payday, when you see that there is money left in an envelope that you did not spend on food or gasoline, redeposit that money and immediately add to your payment that you already had scheduled for the bill.

This is not really a good way to manage credit card bills, but it is a good babystep to start while you try to figure out your budget. It is preferable to getting them lost on the kitchen table (that is where I was not so long ago myself).

Paying half your income on the house is eating you

This is all good and sound advice so please no one take this the wrong way. If you cant pay your credit cards from personal experience I would say dont even bother. If you cant make the minimum monthly payment they are asking for and you are’nt working out any other arrangement with them, sending them 10.00 a month will do nothing for you. I’ve tried this. It does nothing more then waste your money because if you dont pay the minimum required monthly payment they are asking and you dont have an arrangement with them they will consider you in default and at the six month mark they will charge it off anyway because if you are’nt making the minimum monthly payment to them its like you are’nt paying at all. Save your money to pay your utilities or buy food or gas. I would strongly suggest you file bankruptcy.

It will give you a new start free from the debt but the only way you will succeed is you remain debt free. Meaning dont get new cards or go back into debt. That is where the advice of the other poster is so important. Get rid of the debt first. Then use that advice and learn how to live within your means. I know its so very very hard, I’ve been there and am still there in some extent but am climbing out of it.

This is really important. If you are unorganized its more then likely costing you even more by way of late fees etc. I know.. again, been there done that. One thing I have found that helped me was keeping an actual notebook that I write all my info down in. I keep alot of files on my pc but writing things down makes it more clear to me for some reason. For example, I will write at the top of one page the name of the bill, followed by all the pertinent info like where to pay or send payment, customer service number, account number etc.

Due date(highlighted) if there is a grace period, late charge, overlimit fee, website address, accepted forms of payment(telephone, internet mail,) how long things take to post to account etc. Anything that I can find that is relevant to that bill whether its a credit card bill, insurance bill, utility bill etc. I write down. Also because I am the one who has been saddled with the job of paying the household bills and balancing/managing the budget as well, if something should happen to me then everyone knows that all they need to do is look in this notebook to find what they need to know.

When I make a payment or schedule a payment I write this info down on a separate piece of paper that I use monthly- one paper a month. When all the bills are taken care of that paper can go in the trash. It simply is a note to myself that such and such payment is coming out on such and such date from whichever bank account (We have two joint checking and savings accounts)and as those items come out of my account I cross them off of my list/note to self. All of this has helped me to stay more organized and focused. When the mail comes open up everything! Throw all the stuff you can in the trash right away. For me, this is all return envelopes to all my bills since I pay everything on line or in person. All junk mail too.

Then if you cant handle looking at your statements and things put them in a bag,folder, box or whatever and stick them away in a drawer. Deal with what you can but DEAL with something. Dont just let it go. Dont let it pile up and accumulate on the desk or elsewhere. It will seem even more overwhelming then. Put it in a bag and stick it away BUT at the end of the month take it out and if its been paid- shred the statement and be done with it.

If it has’nt been dealt with stick it in a separate pile. When you are done, toss the shredded stuff in the trash and then decide what to do with the stuff that has’nt been dealt with. Dont ignore it. Even if it means putting it back in the bag and back in the drawer or whatever. Try to come up with a plan. Paying and dealing with one bill is better then not paying or dealing with any. Deal with them one at a time if you have to to get a start on it. Once you get a start and a plan you will develop a way to deal with it all.

When I have’nt been able to pay all of my bills in the past I’ve looked at it all and decided what I could pay and deal with trying to take care of what the most important stuff is first- roof over your head, heat and lights on, food, gas, insurance etc. Sadly the credit cards are at the bottom of the list and things that are luxuries and not necessities like cable, cell, etc. need to go until you regain some control over your situation. When you do deal with a bill make a committment to deal with it always from here on out. Try to deal with the bills that are necessary for you to live first and get those under control then worry about the other stuff.

About our house

mortgageThe house was bought seventeen years ago. And we have re mortgaged twice, jacking the price from six hundred a month to fourteen hundred a month. We have already considered selling, and hope that we can put this house on the market with in the next two years. We hope to make enough to buy a mobile home in a senior park out right. Then when hubby retires will only have to pay park rent.

I can drop the premium channels, started to do that a few weeks ago, but the rep at cable company talked me out of it. She said it was forty dollars to get it hooked up again. Of course at that time I was thinking short term. Looks like we are facing indefinitely now. I just recently heard about Red Box and will check that out. I know that hubby will want to keep basic channels. The cell phones will be shut off soon, two months behind now. We originally got the phone for my hubby since he had a heart attack, then hubby decided it was a good idea for Kevin (son) to also have one since he had just gotten his license. That was a mistake.

I don’t really have a food budget, but I do use coupons. I can cut corners there. We buy way to much frozen convince food. We don’t sit down to family meals, because of different work schedules. So people fix their own meals and they want fast and easy. Kevin’s girl friend (Julia) works at the local farm and gets a discount so that will be nice.

Hubby’s over time will probably come back in Sept. I really don’t want him to get a second job. And no I really can not go back to work. Was wondering what you meant by bake? Selling baked goods? To who?

I do have some of the bills paid automatically for me. Rays paycheck is automatically deposited. So, lets say I know that the light bill is $150. should I go right to my computer and schedule the whole payment from Rays paycheck that will come in next week? Even if I have a month left before it is do? Of course our light bill is about three months behind. We have an agreement to pay $150 bi-weekly for the next month, but we will never clear it up this way.

I’m a little confused about your last paragraph, could you explain it again?

Find a way to get organized

First thing…find a way to get organized. You need to know how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out, where its coming from, when its coming and when your bills are due…

Second– figure out where you need to cut back…my husband and I are living on less and raising a 4 & 2yr old right now. We have the cheapest cable available (about $14/month), I shop for grociers that are on sale (by checking store ads in paper) or use stores like Aldi’s or Save-A-Lot, use coupons, etc.. I rebate for shampoo, toothpaste, etc. at Rite Aid and Walgreens- which means I usually get all my money back minus the sales tax.

Third– look into your options regarding your mortgage…can you, should you refinance? Should you sell and move into something more affordable?

Fourth– Unless they are physically or mentally unable to work or are still in school (and thats optional) your son and girlfriend should be contributing. It costs to live and they are living off you, right?

Fifth– you really need to try to find a way not to use those credit cards unless you can get them paid off monthly. Be careful about spending money on things you don’t need. I also buy my clothing and the kids clothing through Goodwill, Salvation Army, consignment stores, or great sales at dept. stores. You can get great brand name clothing in good condition at second hand places.

I do alot of researching on the internet for free help, suggestions to get things done. Type in a word and do a search for articles on organizing, bills, saving money, etc…and you may find a lot more ways to save than you can think of yourself.

I hope these suggestions help…they are only suggestions. We also have to keep finding ways to cut back. My husband just started a second job himself and I work from home so I can stay home w/ the kids.

Paying half your income on the house is eating you. I’m pretty sure DR would say “get rid of the house.”

Sounds scary. No car payments is good. Cable will need to turn into free Red Box rentals and the library video rack. Cell phones go away. Kids pay rent as soon as possible. I don’t know that the kids need to take on two jobs to help you, but if they were willing….. What is your food cost? Coupons, budget, food bank, garden, get creative…..

Husband is probably more stressed by the finances (given the fits he experiences over it) than anything else. The second job might not hurt (it might too – I don’t know). You can’t work at all? Babysit? Bake? Pet sit?

The bills…. forget the ones on the table. Pile them in a box for the moment so the table is clean. Breathe…. Every day when you go to the mailbox, open the bill on the way in, drop the extra contents (the ads, etc) into the recycle bin before you enter the house. Do not put the bills down out of your hands until you have scheduled a payment on them. Go online immediately, and schedule whatever amount you are going to pay to go out on DH’s payday. Then put the bill in a file folder that is marked for that bill. It will only take a few minutes. Then you can forget about that bill and move on. (My bills were every which direction and I didn’t pay anything because I couldn’t find it, or I forgot it – the late fees were eating me. This worked wonderfully!!!)

For bills that you sigh over because you have no idea how you are going to pay them…. schedule a $1 payment to go out on payday. Then, when you budget and there is money in that envelope, edit the balance to go out. Make it $5….

One babystep at a time……

Tell your son to get a ful time job

moneyboxYou guys are in a jam, the best thing you can do, it tell your son to get a ful time job or live on his own with this girlfriend. If they are contributing to the money fund, then things will be easier,m but i think that the GF kicking in $20 a week isnt going to cut it. They need to be paying you rent and for food and everything else. I realise he is your only child and only children are sort of babied, but there is no reason for this.

What is he going to do, ask for new parents, no. He will help you. They are draining your resources and creating bigger problems. As for the domestic bills, you really should look at exactly what everything is costing you, the phone bill the cable, insurance. look for a better deal. the telephone and insurance can be shopped for better plans with different companies. the electricity can be affected by changing light bults to energy efficient ones. costs $$ upfront, but long term is better.

Also adjust how to keep your termostat set. Let if get a little warmer in the summer and a little colder in the winter. I do that and it keeps my below my neighbors. As for the credit cards that are not being paid, as long as that will work, let it work. If some creditor desides to get fiesty, deal with it then. Good luck to you.

Carol, Welcome to the real world. Some of the hardest things we have to do is to change life styles to survive. Cutting out everything that is not a absolute is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Cell phones, cable, I know the only thing you have to escape with, has to go.

We had to look at where the money was going too at one time. Can you afford that home, can you find something smaller or cheaper will the down payment on another home be there. Will you beable to move to something more affordable. Only you can answer these questions. Call your card holders, make a 10 dollar payment on them no matter what. See if you can’t find a cheaper interest rate card and transfer the balance to it.

See what you can cut off. If you keep one cell phone cut the land line. Learn to cut hair, it can be done, or just have them shave their heads with clippers. Cut coupons,change eating habits, get out the cook books and make it all yourself. Bag lunches, sell everything you don’t need or use. Take that money to have an extra payment on the house. Forget Christmas like you knew, pull names one gift each to give. Things are going to get worse, knowing you have a problem is the first step to heading off the big fall.

Everyone can pull the rope. Your kids will not be the first or the last to have to help during times like these.They are adult enough to live together in your home, they are adult enough to help. They may have to take two jobs too. What you can do at home in the kitchen, sewing room, can help. baby sitting is a good one for older children who simply need someone there or drop offs until parents get home from work. Think what you can do for extra money and get doing. Put signs up on local boards at church, schools and local malls. It can be done, two grand is something, it can be done.

Our debt situation

Hello, my name is Carol. I guess I will just jump right in and tell you about me, my family and our debt situation. My hubby and I have been married for 21 years and we have one son who is now 19 and still living at home. His girlfriend has just moved in with us. She’s 18, turning 19 next month. Reason she moved in, was basically she is safer here than she was at home. They do not pay rent at this time.

My hubby(Ray) works at a local factory and his yearly income is somewhere around 40k, but that is with over time, which recently came to an end as the company is trying to cut cost. He now brings home a paycheck of about $1,200 a month. I am disabled and bring in about 8 hundred a month and no, there is no chance that I will be able to return to work.

Over the years we have slowly worked our way into debt. We own our vehicles. We own our home with a mortage of about 150k. We recently were able to reduce our mortgage to about one thousand dollars a month. Wow, now that I’m writing this down I realize that I’m trying to pay all our bills on two thousands dollars a month. No wonder we are in the hole. Our mortgage alone takes half of our money. I’m trying to pay lights, phone, cable,insurances, food, gas and who knows what else with eight hundred bucks a week. Never mind the credit cards, that obviously aren’t getting paid at all.

I know I should be asking the kids to help out. My son is working part time and she just got out of the hospital and will be returning to work next week. She will then start paying up twenty dollars a week.

I’m sure they might be able to take on the cable bill or the cell phone.

Here is just a little bit of our make up. We are procrastinators, our bills are strew all over the desk and the table. Hardly any thing is filed. The bill box that we made is not getting used for its original purpose. Our money matters have some how become my responsibility and I feel responsible for the mess we are in. Ray knows that we are in big trouble here, but I try not to tell him, because he flies in to a fit of rage. He says he will find a second job. This is imposable as he has had a heart attack and just wouldn’t be up to the stress.

I apologize for the length of this post, but it has turned out to be a good thing as I now realize we are in worse trouble than I thought and some drastic changes need to be put in place.

Thank for reading my ranting.

Congratulations on the new addition!

Here are some things that can help you save for after the baby and learn new habits so that you can afford to stay home:

1) Find out now what any daycare or sitter that you would likely use will charge. There may not even be a daycare that you like or trust, and it would be good to find this out now.

2) Join the site ($18 a year)–it pays for itself.

3) Also visit other “frugal” sites like –there are others, too, and you can find any you need at

4) Several sites have a calculator that lets you figure what you REALLY make after expenses; day care; tax bracket adjustment; additional mileage which affects maintenance, gas, & car insurance; meals at work; clothing for work; and other things.

5) Consider whether you may have a talent you could parlay into extra funds, like sewing, writing, etc. from home.

6) Do everything you can from now on to cut expenses and save money. Try to implement all the frugal tips you can and see how much money you can put into savings (or pay off high-interest credit) before the baby is born. You may be able to live on one person’s check for several months, for instance.

7) Don’t go overboard buying for baby. You will have a shower, probably, and will most likely not need to buy much for the baby in the way of clothes for quite some time. Stick with neutrals, shop second-hand (babies almost never wear clothes out), yard sales, and the like. You may find you don’t need a changing table or a small diaper bag, and can make do with other items.

8) Breastfeed. I can’t over-emphasize the benefits. Though you aren’t a villain if you bottle-feed, you and your child will reap benefits other than saving money – big boosts to health, after-baby weight loss, and the like. Also check on WIC; with only your husband’s income, you may qualify, and it can be a big help to the grocery bill.

9) Read, read, read. I can think of all the Tightwad Gazette books, and anything by Mary Hunt, and the folks on this list can give you many more ideas.

Hope you aren’t snoring,