The 5 Best and Most Creative Ways To Pay Off Student Loans Faster

view from above of a student doing work surrounded by books
view from above of a student doing work surrounded by books

The 5 Best and Most Creative Ways To Pay Off Student Loans Faster

Student loans can be such a pain, but please don’t think of selling your plasma, hair, or skin to pay them off. Trust us; there’s a better way to do it!

With a little bit of hard work and imagination, you can start your journey toward financial independence. The faster you address your debt, the sooner you can apply for mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans.

We’ve created a list of five clever ways to pay off student loans faster. Let’s make it happen!

1.   Join a Ridesharing Company

Driving for companies like Lyft or Uber can be a dream job for young professionals or students.

It’s our top side hustle pick because you can do it anytime, anywhere. You can choose your work hours, earn instant money, and bag special bonuses.

Check out this chart to learn how much you can earn per hour by driving around in your area. It can go as high as $25.65 and working a few hours during weekends can help you cut through your debt.

2.   Collect Spare Change

Try apps like Qoins to collect spare change digitally. It works the same way your typical piggy bank does — saving small amounts for a bigger expense. By the end of each month, the app forwards the accumulated sum to a lender.

Don’t underestimate the power of spare change. A Moneytips article shares that Qoins users have collectively paid off over $2 million worth of debt. 

3.   Get a Roommate

If you find yourself struggling to make housing payments, it may be time to find a roommate. Apart from the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of living with someone, it can save you a ton of money that you can use for your student loan. It’s time to say goodbye to hefty rent, furnishing, and utility expenses.

4.   Use Coupons

A pro hack in cutting back on grocery bills is to use coupons on items you would buy anyway. Get hold of Sunday newspapers to discover exciting food discounts. You can stock up on goods you usually use with typical buy one, get one promo. Read more about couponing to learn how you can save hundreds per month. 

5.   Include Additional Payments in Your Budget

American personal finance personality Dave Ramsey once said, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

If you don’t have a budget yet, now is the perfect time to start one. Instead of spending extra on fancy meals, branded clothes, and memberships you don’t need, focus on making additional student loan payments.

To pay off your student loan faster, you can make an additional principal payment monthly. Doing so will not only cut the length of your debt but will also impact the interest you pay.

Sources:

Debt.com

https://www.debt.com/news/creative-ways-pay-off-student-loans/

Life Hack

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/10-creative-ways-pay-off-your-student-loan-debt.html

Gridwise

https://gridwise.io/how-much-do-rideshare-drivers-make

Moneytips

https://moneytips.debt.com/product-reviews/what-is-qoins-app/

Pennies Into Pearls

https://www.penniesintopearls.com/couponing-for-beginners/

 

‘Tis The Season For Joy

intense child dressed as an elf looking into the camera
intense child dressed as an elf looking into the camera

‘Tis The Season For Joy

When it comes to the Holiday Season, who could pass up a little extra joy? This year, we’re not elfing around! We’re helping sprinkle that little extra across the season by offering our Holiday Skip-A-Pay!

With this skip-a-pay, you can choose to skip your loan payment for December or January.*

With a little extra cash in your pocket, your holiday cheer will be through the roof (but not the chimney, that’s for Santa)!

Spread some joy, spread some cheer!

Halloween Fun on a Budget: 12 Costume Ideas Using Common Items in Your Home

children making costumes in a brightly lit room
children making costumes in a brightly lit room

Halloween Fun on a Budget: 12 Costume Ideas Using Common Items in Your Home

No matter your age, it’s hard to not get excited for Halloween. Whether you’re going to the coolest Halloween party in town, or just getting some candy while trick or treating, one of the best parts is getting to dress up. But Halloween costumes can be expensive, so what are some ways to save on your costume?

To come up with a Halloween costume on a budget, scan your closet or check your pantry for things that you can easily transform into homemade costumes. Your craft box and garage may already have the tools that will level up your Halloween experience.

And if you need some inspiration for a great affordable costume, we have some fun ideas to further inspire you.

Instagram Filter

Add a modern twist to your costume party by dressing up as an Instagram Filter. Bring out one of your empty cardboard boxes from your storage. Trim down the box into a big rectangle to transform it into an IG frame. Cut out a square hole in the middle of the frame so you can peek out from it. Paint an OIG filter on the frame. Get ready to pose as if you were snapping an IG selfie!

Magic 8-Ball

Bring a touch of magic to your festivities by wearing a Magic 8-Ball costume. Put on a black shirt and black pants. Cut out a white piece of paper into a circle and tape it to your shirt. Snip out an “8” number from a black piece of paper and stick it to the middle of the white circle. Make a paper hat and write down the Magic 8-Ball answers on each section. Wait for your party guests to consult you about their questions!

Audrey Hepburn

Say “hello” to Audrey Hepburn as you don your sleeveless little black dress to start your Breakfast at Tiffany’s look. Matching black gloves, large sunglasses, and pearls will help you nail this costume. Oh, and don’t forget that croissant for a complete ensemble.

Tiger

Paint black stripes on an orange t-shirt that you’ve scouted from your kid’s closet. Prepare ear cutouts and paste them onto a headband. Don’t forget to print a mask or paint your child’s face with orange, white, and black, to finish the tiger look.

Superman

Transform into a Clark-Kent-who’s-about-to-transform-into-Superman by wearing a Superman shirt under a jacket. Keep your reading glasses on as part of your disguise.

Lara Croft

Show your adventurous side along with a form-fitting tank top, khaki shorts, and jungle boots. Braided hair, aviator shades, and toy guns will make you stand out as Lara Croft.

Wednesday Addams

Nail the classic Wednesday Addams look using your long-sleeved black dress over a white-collared shirt. Braid your hair and apply some dark lipstick to create a grimmer mood.

Stick Figure

Get a plain white shirt and a matching pair of pants. Then use electrical tape to create the lines for the stick figure. Draw the head on a paper plate and wear it as your mask. Multiply the fun by making the same costume for the rest of your family.

Miss Universe

Be glamorous for Halloween by wearing an evening dinner outfit. Wear your Miss Universe sash, take your scepter, and flaunt your crown as you sashay the evening away.

Mime

If you’ve got a striped white shirt, suspenders, and a pair of white gloves, you’re almost ready to dress up as a mime. All you need is some white face paint and you’re good to go. And don’t forget to get into character by trying not to talk!

Greek Goddess

Take a white top sheet, wrap it around your body, and tie the two ends on your left shoulder. Define your waist with a thin belt, a cord, or a golden chain. Leaf accents in your hair add to the subtle charm of this Greek attire.

Ghost

While we’re on the topic of top sheets, if you’ve got an old one, cut out holes for the eyes. Going as a bedsheet ghost is one of those classic old-school costumes everyone should try once!

Are You Ready to Dress Up for Halloween?

These ideas can get your creative juices flowing with your own characters and budget concepts for Halloween. Open your eyes and you’ll find that your home is your own treasure-trove of easy-to-use costume pieces that will work great for your DIY Halloween outfit.

Giving You 25 Reasons!

stack of dollar bills with a man's face on them
stack of dollar bills with a man's face on them

Giving You 25 Reasons!

Need another reason to join UCCU? Our CEO is about to give you 25! Don’t adjust your screen, you read that right. For a limited time, become a member of UCCU and you’ll be the proud new owner of a credit union membership AND $25 for making the switch!* To get started, simply open your membership account, a checking account, and activate payroll direct deposit. That’s it! Our team of advisors will help you every step of the way. At UCCU, membership has its privileges.

*See credit union for complete details. Credit union reserves the right to modify, alter or cancel this promotion at any time. Promotion open to new and existing members. To be eligible for $25 incentive, members must open a share account (if not already a member) and checking account with active payroll direct deposit. Offer cannot be combined with other promotional incentives. Payroll direct deposit must be active within 30 days of account opening. $25 incentive will be deposited within 15 days of first direct deposit. Federally insured by NCUA.

Holiday Funding With All The Trimmings!

smiling woman by christmas tree holding her uccu credit card wearing antlers
smiling woman by christmas tree holding her uccu credit card wearing antlers

Holiday Funding With All The Trimmings!

No matter how prepared you are, the holidays can get very pricey! If you need a great option to deck the halls, shop till you drop, or purchase the “must-have” toy of the year, look no further than a UCCU Visa® credit card. With low rates and no annual fee, we’ve got your holiday fun covered. As a bonus, all members who apply will be entered to win a free holiday meal to share with your family.* Does holiday funding with a free feast sound good? Sign up today AND save room for dessert!
*No purchase required for entry to contest. Must be a UCCU member to enter. Alternate entry method: Send a postcard to 1001 Vermont Quincy, Illinois 62301. Entries accepted during promotion runtime of 10.01.21–11.30.21. Members who apply for a UCCU Visa credit card are automatically entered. Current UCCU Visa credit card holders ineligible to enter or apply. Max one entry per member. One winner will receive gift certificate for holiday meal catering from HyVee worth $200. Winner to be selected on or after 12.01.2021. Some restrictions may apply. The credit union reserves the right to change, alter, modify, or cancel this promotion at any time. See credit union for full details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Holly Jolly Loans

young girl in a santa hat examining a gift wrapped in red paper
young girl in a santa hat examining a gift wrapped in red paper

Holly Jolly Loans

With the holidays fast approaching, we’re all trying to not get SCROOGED! At UCCU, we’re giving you the green to finance your holiday cheer. How cheerful are we getting? How about payments as low as $105?* With payments that low you can deck the halls, trim the tree, AND stuff the stockings.

*Payment example based on a $1,000 loan for a term of 10 months at 10.00% Annual Percentage Rate. Qualified applicants earn a rate of 9.75% with automatic payment via payroll deduction, automatic transfer, or ACH payment. Some restrictions may apply. Not all members may qualify. See credit union for full details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Rent vs. Owning

view of an apartment from the ceiling
view of an apartment from the ceiling

Rent vs. Owning

There are many reasons why people choose to rent rather than own a home. Some renters simply like the idea of owning a temporary place as they are still unsure if they want to settle down while others want to avoid the many expenses of ownership.

 

However, the major downside of renting is that you’re giving money to your landlord every month – money that you’ll never get back.

 

In contrast, paying for a home mortgage each month may be costly, but it will slowly reduce your home loan balance. If everything goes well, you get to own the house, which is an incredibly valuable asset nowadays.

 

If you’re deciding if you should continue renting or if now would be the best time to start owning a house, then you’ve come to the right blog. With the way rent continues to increase each year, you might find the latter option better for you.

Rent Prices Continue to Increase

 

According to a report by Realtor.com, the official website of the National Association of Realtors, the median in the 50 biggest metros was $1,575. The data suggested that rents rose by 8.1% from the previous year, translating to an extra $118 to pay each month for renters.

Realtor.com also revealed that rents for all unit sizes are at an all-time high. Renting for a studio apartment increased by 4% while 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments saw an 8% and 10.2% rise in rent, respectively.

Is Renting Still a Good Idea?

 

If you aren’t yet sure if you want to settle down, then continuing to rent might be a good idea until you can map out your future a bit more. Many people are still not sure whether they want to move out or stay due to the COVID-19 pandemic so that’s quite understandable.

 

However, for those who are interested in getting a place they can own, waiting for the lease to expire and looking for a house to buy could be the ideal move. In this way, you can start investing your money toward a valuable asset that will have your name in the title.

 

To help you decide if now would be a good time to buy a home, you should consider the following questions:

● Do I have the cash to make a down payment?

● Is my credit score acceptable enough to apply for a home loan?

● Do I have any debts and, if so, how much more can I afford?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions if purchasing a house. When you buy a home, you can save money in the long run that would otherwise be used for your rent.

Conclusion

 

The cost of renting an apartment or house continues to increase every year, which makes it more and more impractical to continue doing so. If you believe that now is the right time to own a house, then you should consider getting a mortgage.

 

At UCCU, we can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can know right away if owning a home is right for you. Contact us today to learn more.

How To Avoid Purchasing Flooded and Fixed Cars

truck driving through a flooded road a lot of water
truck driving through a flooded road a lot of water

How To Avoid Purchasing Flooded and Fixed Cars

Hurricane Ida is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the U.S. in recent memory, causing much flooding and devastation. After an event like this, flooded cars often enter the used car market. They may have these cars cleaned up, but flood damage is unpredictable. The many issues caused by water hitting the vital parts of the car will often leave it too costly to repair. Here’s what you can do to avoid getting into a bad deal:

Check the Car’s History

A history report will reveal all the locations in the car’s registration. In most cases, it will also show if it has undergone flood damage in its title branding. If there’s no sign in the registration, you should still be wary of cars that come from areas hit by hurricanes recently. There is a chance that the vehicle tried to bypass regulations. Some dealers do this in hopes of cleaning up its record, a practice called title washing.

Inspect the Interior

The interior of a car is where you can spot signs of flood damage. The vehicle may have a moldy smell, and parts of its carpet may be damp, indicating it went through a flood. You can also lift the carpeting inside the trunk for any sign of rust or sand, which shows that it went through floodwaters. Rust on the bolts and screws under the seats can also indicate flood damage.

Inspect the Exterior

The car’s exterior will show signs of corrosion or even subtler thin brown lines across its body. There may also be watermarks on the vehicle, indicating that it’s been through floodwaters. The undercarriage can reveal signs of flood damage. You’ll usually find excessive rust in flood-damaged cars. 

Work With a Reputable Car Dealer

A car dealer with a good track record will avoid buying flood-damaged cars as it is not a risk they’re willing to take. By working with them, you increase the chances that you’ll buy a good working vehicle. Check the dealer’s history and any reviews surrounding the business. If there’s an issue, you’ll find a disgruntled buyer who has experience buying a flood-damaged car from them. 

Hire a Mechanic

Another way to ensure that you don’t get a flooded car is to hire a mechanic to come with you and inspect the vehicle. They’ll easily spot signs of flood damage for you and recommend if the car’s worth buying or not. These mechanics have likely worked with flooded cars in the past, so they’ll see the signs, even if the car’s cleaned up. It’s a small price to pay to ensure you’re not buying a damaged vehicle.

Always Exercise Caution

If you suspect that you’re looking at a flood-damaged car, take every precaution necessary. Often, you’ll find these deals too good to be true. Take a step back and have it examined or check the car’s history. If you verified that it’s a flood-damaged car, contact local law enforcement as selling these types of vehicles is fraud.

Sources:

https://www.iii.org/article/flood-cars-how-to-avoid-purchasing-a-washed-up-vehicle

https://www.carprousa.com/blog/10-tips-on-how-to-avoid-flood-damaged-vehicles

https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/how-to-avoid-buying-a-flood-damaged-car.html

Teens Falling Prey to Online Scams

dark room with girl looking at a computer screen with code and data
dark room with girl looking at a computer screen with code and data

Teens Falling Prey to Online Scams

Did you know that teens are now falling prey to online scams even faster than seniors? In 2020, there were over 23,000 online scam complaints from individuals under 21 years old. This suggests that no matter how well-versed you are in technology and the internet, you can still be a victim of online scams. Learn more about these scams and how you can avoid them by checking out the following article!

 

Common Online Scams Targeting Teens

Reports on online scams have increased by 156% among members of Generation Z. Born in the digital age, teens are more comfortable sharing their whereabouts on various online platforms. However, this makes you vulnerable to the following online scams:

Romance Scams

While having fun using various dating apps, you might encounter a romance scammer. They’ll build an intimate relationship with you, but their real goal is to make a hole in your wallet. Usually stationed abroad, they refuse meetups and video calls. 

Fake Online Stores

While online shopping can be fun and even therapeutic, you might come across fake e-commerce stores that copy the logos and sites of legitimate businesses. These scammers usually offer your favorite items at unreasonably low prices. In the end, you’ll get substandard products — or even nothing at all.

Employment Scams

There may be various job opportunities online, but not all of them are real. Scammers will post fake, poorly written ads. They’ll also make you pay up-front fees for training, which no legitimate employers would do.

Fake Online Contests

While you may look up to some online influencers, scammers are busy copying these public figures through fraudulent social media accounts. They’ll conduct online contests and giveaways. Once you’re declared a winner, they’ll solicit your bank account details or require you to pay upfront to claim the prize. In reality, you won’t get anything — just a stolen identity.

Avoiding Online Scams: Tips for Teens and Parents

Whether you’re a parent who’s a member of a credit union and still trying to familiarize yourself with online accounts or a teen who’s already tech-savvy, remember the following tips to avoid online scams:

  • Check various reviews online before purchasing items from a specific store.
  • Choose a strong and unique password for each of your online accounts. Avoid using your nickname, birthdate, or your pet’s name because these can be found on other platforms.
  • Never give out your personal and financial details, especially during unexpected calls.
  • Look for misspellings and grammatical mistakes in ads, sites, or emails.
  • Monitor what you or your child share on social media. Scammers may find some information they can use to commit identity theft.
  • Before making a decision, share it with someone you trust, like parents, friends, and other family members. Doing so will help you figure out if you’re being scammed.
  • Be suspicious of people asking you to pay advance fees through specific methods, like wire transfer and gift cards.
  • If possible, don’t use public Wi-Fi because scammers can find ways to access your sensitive information.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a teen or a senior, you’re not free from the hands of scammers. So, be extra careful and combat scammers by following the tips above.

How To Tip in Different Situations

barber working on a nice kept beard
barber working on a nice kept beard

How To Tip in Different Situations

Tipping does not only let you show your appreciation to a delivery person or server’s hard work. You’re likely also helping them settle their monthly bill or pay for their tuition fee. However, you might still be unsure when you should tip and how much you should tip in various situations. Below, you’ll learn more about tipping, so keep scrolling!

Server at a Restaurant

Many servers earn only about $2 per hour. Tipping them 20% makes a huge difference. Did their service exceed your expectations? Tip them for 25%! You’ll never know how much impact you’re making with your kind gestures.

Buffet Restaurant

At buffet restaurants, you choose and get your own food. However, remember that servers still refill your drinks. They also prepare new clean plates and cups for you. That would be a lot of plates to maintain especially when you consider the wide food choices available. Consider tipping them for at least 10%. If they showed superb service, don’t hesitate to be a little bit more generous with your tip!

Takeout

The fact that they prepared your food, and you don’t have to worry about what to cook for tonight is something to be grateful for. Tip for about 10% and make the server’s day a little brighter. 

Delivery

Thanks to hardworking delivery people, your cravings for some fresh, hot pizza have been satisfied! Tip them $2 to $4 to show your gratitude. If they deliver your food in bad weather, try tipping them some more. 

Coffee Barista

While you’re not required to tip coffee baristas, a small act of kindness can go a long way. Place a dollar in that tip jar, enjoy your coffee, and make your favorite barista feel appreciated for their hard work.

Bartender

Wondering if you still need to tip a bartender? Of course! Preparing your favorite drink requires some art and expertise, so honor their craft by giving at least $1 or $2.

Hairstylist or Barber

Getting a new haircut or hairstyle is one of the best ways to pamper yourself. Give your favorite hairstylist or barber a 20% to 25% tip. After all, they help you look younger and more confident! 

Tattoo Artist

Not everyone can draw that permanent, beautiful, and unique piece of art on your body. Given this, tattoo artists deserve to receive a 20% tip. If you love how your tattoo turned out, why not tip more? 

Manicurist

Apart from getting a new haircut, getting a manicure may be one of your favorite forms of self-

care. Tip like you would to a hairstylist. Manicurists also deserve a larger tip for keeping your nails clean and colorful.

Uber/Lyft/Taxi Driver

Not sure how much to tip an Uber, Lyft, or taxi driver? Around 15% to 20% will do. If you had a great ride, and your destination’s a bit far, feel free to raise your tip.

Conclusion

While tipping allows you to applaud a good service, it can also mean so much to servers, baristas, delivery people, hairstylists, and other passionate workers. Therefore, tip from 10% to 25% depending on the situation. When in doubt, just try to be more generous!