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What a Retired Army Colonel Taught Me About Money

What a Retired Army Colonel Taught Me About Money

As a military member myself, I’ll be the first to say that most active duty service members have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to their finances.

It’s true that most people in general don’t have a clue, but it almost seems worse in the military.

That being said, when I do meet someone in the military who shares my love of finances, it’s an automatic friendship.

Enter my friend Eric. A retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and now a financial advisor for First Command.

With 20+ years in the service, Eric knows a thing or two about the military and he also knows about money. That’s a rare combination, which is what makes him so interesting.

Here’s what a retired Colonel taught me about money…

How to Actually Take Control of Your Finances

How to Actually Take Control of Your Finances

I remember when I didn’t have control of our family’s money. I remember it well…unfortunately. We were $24,000 in consumer debt. We had no emergency fund, no investments and no savings whatsoever. I had used most of my wife’s savings to buy a new drum set (because that’s what responsible husbands do, right?).

My wife had been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course and honestly, she knew quite a bit more than I knew about money, especially managing it (well, and everything else related to money). She gave her input, but why would I listen? I was in my early 20s and I already had everything figured out. I didn’t need her input – I knew what I was doing. Yeah…

I’m not going to drown you in the tears of my past wrongdoings, but I am going to tell you why you need to take control, what happens if you don’t (from personal experience) and how to take control right now. Yes, today is the day that you will take control of your finances. Today is the day that you will change the course of your financial life. Sounds cheesy, right? Well sometimes the truth comes with a little cheese sprinkled on top, but seriously, you can change your financial future if you start today. Let’s do this…

Balance Transfer to Lower Your Interest Rates?  4 Questions to Ask First

Balance Transfer to Lower Your Interest Rates? 4 Questions to Ask First

I’ve been there. Over $20,000 in consumer debt with interest rates higher than Cheech and Chong combined.

I remember seeing the offers pouring in to lower my interest rates. This one stuck out:

“0% interest rates on balance transfers for up to 15 months!”

It was a Chase Slate card. 15 months was the longest zero interest offer I could find for a balance transfer at the time. I calculated how much we needed to pay each month to pay it off in 15 months. We applied. We were approved.

It worked for us. We went from paying interest rates of 12%, 15% and even 17% to paying no interest whatsoever. But what would have happened if we would have went over the 15 month mark? Around 23% interest would have happened.

We had to ask ourselves if we were certain we could pay off the account in time, no matter how many unexpected costs popped up, but that’s not all we had to ask. Here are four questions to ask if you’re considering a balance transfer. Two to ask the company and two to ask yourself…

How to Actually Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

How to Actually Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

Student loan forgiveness has been a hot headline over the last year. The ever increasing mass of student loan debt continues to weigh on the hearts and minds of our college graduates. Today, 7 in 10 college seniors are graduating with student loan debt! While student loans are a necessary tool for some students, they should be used carefully by borrowers.

You may have seen the late night television ads preaching the benefits of student loan forgiveness. Despite what these television ads say, not everyone is eligible for student loan forgiveness. These ads are often being run by unethical telemarketers looking to take advantage of uneducated student loan borrowers. To qualify for student loan forgiveness you must meet certain eligibility requirements for federal programs. Don’t find yourself victim to a student loan forgiveness scams.

The following U.S. Department of Education programs can actually forgive your student loan debt:

The Different Types of Credit Checks and How to Improve Your Score

The Different Types of Credit Checks and How to Improve Your Score

Runaway debt and credit debt is the new normal. It doesn’t necessarily occur because you spend beyond your means, but can happen as a result of your FICO score dropping whenever you apply for a lease on an apartment, a credit card account, or a car loan. The company that reviews your application will pay a fee to check your credit and these checks are not harmless, but can actually create a dent in your credit score.

Without realizing it, you may end up paying higher interest for everything because of your lower FICO score. This may actually force you to run out of money. At this point, it’s easy to fall into some heavy debt as you scramble for survival.

So, it’s a negative cycle: inquiries on your credit card may lower your FICO scores; these then results in paying more for everything because of higher interest rates. This situation, in turn, may then lead to runaway debt.

In order to arrest this negative spiral, you first have to understand how the credit scoring system works…

4 Great Strategies For Paying Off Student Loans

4 Great Strategies For Paying Off Student Loans

You’ve graduated college, now your student loan forbearance or “grace period” will end soon and you don’t know how to formulate a payoff strategy.

For those who don’t know where to start, below are 4 tried-and-true strategies to help jump-start your loan payoff…

The Ultimate Money List: 75 Must-Read Books on Personal Finance

The Ultimate Money List: 75 Must-Read Books on Personal Finance

There I was. 21 years old. $24,000 in debt.

I thought it was normal. I thought everyone had car payments. I thought debt was the only way of life. The American way.

I also couldn’t sleep at night, because I was so stressed. I had no plan for an emergency, other than to go into more credit card debt.

That’s when I got angry. A good motivating, driving anger. An anger that ultimately lead me and my family out of debt.

I realized that debt was controlling our life. And I wanted to be in control. So, I started reading…

How Does Debt Settlement Affect My Credit Score?

How Does Debt Settlement Affect My Credit Score?

Your credit score can tremendously impact your day-to-day life.

For Example, your credit score can affect everything from obtaining a mortgage to getting a new job. This is something that most people know. But what everyone doesn’t know is how exactly your score is calculated.

The reason that this isn’t common knowledge is because the credit bureaus do not tell you exactly how they calculate your score.

Even though we do not know the exact equations used, we do know what factors can have a tremendous impact on your credit score. For example, settling your debt can impact your credit score.

Let’s see exactly how debt settlement affects your credit score…

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