6 Ways I Saved Money On College Costs

Check out this list of ways to save money on college costs. This is a great list!

Check out this list of ways to save money on college costs. This is a great list!How much does college cost? This is a question many wonder. There’s rarely a week that goes by where I don’t receive an email from a student or parents of a student who are looking for ways to cut college costs. That’s why today I want to talk about college costs and how you can create a college budget that works so that you can save money in college.

College is very expensive – there is no doubt about that.

However, I want you to know that it IS possible to get a valuable college degree on a budget!

The average public university is over $20,000 per year and the average private university totals over $45,000 once you account for tuition, room and board, fees, textbooks, living expenses and more.

Even with how expensive college can possibly be, there are many ways to cut college expenses and create a college budget so that you can control rising college costs.

Continue reading below to read about the many different ways I cut college costs. While I was not perfect and still racked up student loan debt, I did earn three college degrees on a reasonable budget.

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1. Take classes at a community college to cut college costs.

Whether you are in college already or you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.

Earning credits at a community college usually costs just a small fraction of what it would cost at a 4-year college, so you may find yourself being able to save thousands of dollars each semester.

There is a myth out there that your degree is worth less if you go to a community college. That is NOT TRUE at all. When you finally earn your 4-year degree, your degree will only say where you graduated from and it won’t even mention the community college credits at all. So this myth makes no sense because your degree looks the exact same as everyone else’s’ who you went to college with. You might as well save money because it won’t make much of a difference.

I only took classes at a community college during one summer semester where I earned 12 credits, and I still regret not taking more. I probably could have saved around $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.

Also, you are most likely just taking general credits at the community college, so it’s not like you would be missing much by taking classes there instead of a college that has a better reputation for the major you are seeking.

If you do decide to go to a community college, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will transfer all of the credits. It’s an easy step to take so do not forget! You should do this before you sign up and pay for any classes as well as to make sure that ALL of the classes will transfer succesfully.

2. Take advantage of high school classes to lower your college budget.

Many high schools allow you to take college classes to earn both college and high school credits at the same time.

This is something I highly recommend you look into if you are still in high school, as it saves time and is one of the best ways to save money on college costs.

When I was in my senior year in high school, nearly all of my classes were dual enrollment courses where I was earning college and high school credit at the same time. I took AP classes and classes that earned me direct college credit from nearby private universities. I left high school with around 14-18 credit hours (I can’t remember the exact amount). This way I knocked out a whole semester of college. I could’ve taken more, but I decided to take early release from high school and worked 30-40 hours a week as well.

3. Take all the credits you can to stay within your college budget.

At many universities, you pay a flat fee. So whether you take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours, you are paying nearly the exact same price.

For this reason, I always recommend that a student take as many classes as they can if they are going to a college that charges a flat fee tuition.

If you think you can still earn good grades and do whatever else you do on the side, definitely get full use of the college tuition you are paying for!

4. Apply for scholarships to lower your college costs.

Before you start your semester, you should always look into scholarships, grants, FAFSA, and more. You usually have to turn in any paperwork around spring time for the following semester, so I highly recommend doing this right now if you are going to college in the fall.

Another myth will be busted right now. Many believe that all scholarships are impossible to have or it means you have to win a contest. That is just a myth.

I received around $16,000 a year in scholarships to the private university I attended. That helped pay for a majority of my college tuition. The scholarships were easy for me to get as they were all just because I earned good grades in high school and scored well on tests. I received scholarships to all of the other colleges I applied for as well just for good grades, so I know they can be found as long as you do well in high school!

There are other ways to find scholarships as well. You can receive scholarships from private organizations, companies in your town, and more. Do a simple Google search and I am sure you will find many free websites that list out possible scholarships for you to apply to.

Tip: Many forget that you usually have to turn in a separate financial aid form directly to your college. Don’t forget to do this by the deadline each year!

5. Search for cheaper textbooks to lower your college budget.

Students usually spend anywhere from around $300 to $1,000 on textbooks each semester, depending on the amount of classes they are taking and their major.

For me, many of my classes required more than one book and each book was usually around $200 brand new. This means if I were to buy all of my college textbooks brand new, I probably would have had to spend over $1,000 each semester.

I saved a decent amount of money on college textbooks by renting them and finding them used. Renting them was nice because I just had to pay one fee and didn’t ever have to worry about what to do with the textbook after the class was done, as I only had to return them. There was no worrying about the book being worthless if a new edition came out, which was nice! Buying books used was nice occasionally as well just because sometimes I could make my money back.

I recommend Campus Book Rentals if you are looking for textbook rentals. Their rentals are affordable and they make getting the textbooks you need easy.

Read: How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review

6. Skip the high price of living on campus to cut your college budget.

To save more money, I decided to live on my own. I didn’t have the option of living at home after high school and living on campus would have cost me a ton of money.

Instead, I found a very cheap rental house (the house was VERY small and probably could have been considered a tiny home) and was able to somewhat easily commute to work and college from it. I probably saved around $500 a month by living on my own instead of on campus, and I learned a lot by living on my own at a young age as well.

If you can live at home though and want to save money, I highly recommend it if it’s an option for you. You can save thousands of dollars a semester by doing this!

I understand that some are against this because it may impact your “college experience,” but I think most people would be fine not living on campus, especially if it’s not in the budget. You could probably save around $40,000 over the years on your degree by living at home.

How did you cut college costs and control your college budget? How much student loan debt did you have when you graduated?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review

How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review

How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals ReviewIf you are looking for tips on how to save money as a college student, then one of the top things you need to learn is how to save money on textbooks such as through cheap textbook rentals. In this post, I will be including a Campus Book Rentals review because I used this textbook rental company throughout college and was able to save a great amount of money with cheap textbook rentals.

P.S. I also have a Campus Book Rentals coupon code at the end of the post, so do not miss out on this valuable Campus Book Rentals coupon for the best textbook rental company out there!

When I was in college, I always made sure to save as much money as I could. College is expensive, and everyone knows that. The costs can quickly add up. Between the tuition, lab fees, parking fees, textbook costs, and more, college costs can quickly get out of hand.

I know and understand this. I graduated with around $38,000 worth of student loan debt, and that was even with me carefully managing my costs. Thankfully I paid off my student loans (read about how I paid off my student loans within 7 months), but I do like to help others in as many ways as I can.

According to the National Association of College Stores, the average college student spends around $700 per year on the cost of textbooks.

That could be a total of a little less than $3,000 for a 4 year degree just for the cost of textbooks, and as everyone knows, the cost can actually be much higher than that.

I actually think this number that is estimated is wrong, because I don’t really know anyone who bought their college textbooks and only spent $350 or less from their college bookstore on the cost of textbooks. That wouldn’t have even covered two college textbooks for me from my college bookstore.

When I was in college, many of my college textbooks were around the $200 price for just one textbook, and I often took 7 or 8 classes a semester. This means if I paid full price for each book (whether I bought them online or from my college book store), I would have sometimes paid around $1,600 each SEMESTER!

Or $3,200 a YEAR!

That is just insane.

Below are my tips on the best ways to save money on college textbooks:

Rent your college textbooks through cheap textbook rental websites such as Campus Book Rentals.

When I was in college, I saved a great deal of money by renting my college textbooks. As I said above, college textbooks for me were expensive if I were to not shop around and just stick with the expensive books at the college bookstore. Who wants to waste a ton of money on the cost of textbooks by buying them at full price?

NOT ME! You can save a lot of money on the cost of textbooks by renting them instead.

I often rented my college textbooks that were $200 at my college bookstore for less than $50 for the semester. There are definitely some cheap textbook rentals out there!

I often found cheap textbook rentals for $25 as well That is a STEAL! I always used coupon codes as well, as they can be found everywhere. Lucky you, if you keep reading I have a CampusBook Rentals coupon code as well! 🙂

It was easy to rent textbooks online. Here is the step by step process of renting textbooks online and my Campus Book Rentals review:

  • I just had to find my college textbooks online such as on CampusBookRentals. Campus Book Rentals is the best textbook rental I used when I was in college. They made it easy and have a large college textbook selection for students to choose from so that you find the exact textbook you need.
  • I would then order the textbook for whatever time frame I needed. You can usually rent them for 45 days, two months, a full semester, or even longer. The longer the time frame, the more expensive they are, of course.
  • I would use the textbook for a class. Of course, this is not a surprise!
  • Once you are done with the textbook, all you have to do is return it. You will be provided a return label, so the return shipping is absolutely free. You don’t have to worry about the textbook being outdated, a new edition being published, losing money, etc.

I also have a Campus Book Rentals coupon code for 5% off your total purchase plus FREE SHIPPING if you need one as well. I genuinely believe they are the best textbook rental company out there right now, or else I wouldn’t be writing this whale of a Campus Book Rentals review post. The Campus Book Rentals coupon code is snowfall5. All you have to do is click on my affiliate link (the Campus Book Rentals coupon code only works with the affiliate link) and once you are ready to check out, enter snowfall5 as the Campus Book Rentals promotional code.

Skip the college bookstore for cheap textbook rentals or buy textbooks used.

The college bookstore can be a big rip off. Sorry to everyone who has ever worked at one.

I have three college degrees, and have visited the college bookstore many times to compare prices, and I do not think there was a single occurrence where the price at the college bookstore was cheaper than the price I found somewhere else, such as through CampusBookRentals.

Sell your college textbooks.

Some of you might be saying, well why didn’t you just buy your textbooks used and then sell them back, instead of renting college textbooks? Well, this is because it often turned out that whenever I bought a textbook, the very next semester they would be considered “old” because a new edition would be published. No one really buys old editions of finance books as they are considered “outdated” by many professors.

However, there are many instances where selling your college textbooks can be a great idea, and you can make some money as well.  If you are looking to save money in college, then you should learn how to sell your college textbooks back so that they aren’t just hanging out in your house collecting dust.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this Campus Book Rentals review and that you learned how to save money on textbooks and a new way on how to save money as a college student.

How do you save money on your college textbooks?

Campus Book Rentals coupon code for the best textbook rental company!

P.S. Here is the Campus Book Rentals coupon again as well since you took your time to read my Campus Book Rentals review. I have a Campus Book Rentals coupon code if you need one for even cheaper cheap textbook rentals. The discount will give you 5% off your total textbook purchase rental plus FREE SHIPPING. The Campus Book Rentals coupon code is snowfall5. All you have to do is click on my affiliate link (the Campus Book Rentals coupon code only works with the affiliate link) and once you are ready to check out, enter snowfall5 as the Campus Book Rentals promotional code. This coupon code is good until April 30, 2015, so you have plenty of time to use it for this semester’s classes.

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

How To Sign a Lease on an Apartment You’ve Never Set Foot In

You finally found The One! After doing the virtual legwork to search for an apartment, you’re ready to take the plunge and sign on the dotted line. But how do you sign a lease on an apartment that you’ve yet to see in person?

“The virtual leasing process doesn’t need to be all that different than if you were able to tour it in person,” says Laurence Jankelow, co-founder and chief operating officer of Avail, an online rental management service.

“Once the virtual showing has been done through Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, the rest can be done online as well,” he says.

Online applications, credit checks, and deposit payments can make the process of leasing an apartment easier for both renters and landlords or property managers. Even if shelter-in-place orders are keeping you from touring an apartment firsthand, here’s how signing a lease from home would work.

By email

Pre-pandemic, some landlords or property managers may have been slow to embrace technology, but the new normal has forced them to get up to speed. This means leases can be sent to you by email, signed by you, scanned or photographed, and emailed back. You also may have the option of mailing your signed lease.

Some landlords will ask tenants to sign a document stating that they understand the risk of renting an apartment sight unseen, to avoid liability in case the tenant is disappointed in the actual apartment. Experts recommend tenants read the lease carefully and not rush to sign until they are satisfied that all of their questions have been answered.

“Renters should be cautious of any hidden fees above and beyond rent. Some buildings have additional charges for amenities like gym, pool, and parking,” says Liz Goldman with William Raveis Real Estate in Connecticut.

Goldman advises tenants, if not using a real estate agent, to consult an attorney before signing if they don’t understand the terms of the lease. Be sure to keep a copy of all the paperwork that you and the landlord sign as they are official documents.

Rental property website

Many apartment complexes offer the option of signing the lease through the property’s website. But before signing the lease, experts recommend that tenants know the exact location of the apartment being rented and to ask to see it, rather than just a model.

“They are entering in a legally binding contract, so they need to make sure they are comfortable with everything outlined in the lease,” says Adam Goldfarb, chief operating officer at Manco Abbott Real Estate Management and president-elect for the California Apartment Association’s board of directors.

Once you decide to rent the apartment, you can visit the property’s website to begin the process to sign the lease.

For example, at one of Goldfarb’s properties, tenants would go through their general leasing procedures by logging on to the portal, filling out an electronic application, and uploading necessary documents that the on-site staff would review. Then the staff would process the application and schedule the move-in.

“At time of move-in, we would need to verify that our future resident is the person that applied, given the ID that was uploaded,” says Goldfarb.

Digital signature software

Under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000, digital signatures are legally binding, just like written signatures. Digital signatures allow tenants to sign leases no matter where they are located. Any updates on changes are automatically sent to both parties.

“Digital leases that are state-specific automatically update based on real-time changes to the laws, and can be signed digitally, doing away with the process of printing and faxing documents—or the need to sign a lease in person amid the pandemic,” says Jankelow.

He says the largest risk isn’t the online process of leasing, but rather fraudulent landlords who don’t really manage or own the property. He says renters need to be certain that they’re talking to the real landlord before they sign a lease or pay any money.

“When it comes time to pay the first month’s rent or deposit, never, ever wire money. Wires are nonreturnable. Instead, paying with ACH or credit card, or through a secure, online platform for landlords, is probably the best option,” says Jankelow.

Some common and secure online tools renters use to pay rent and deposits include Yardi, Buildium, AppFolio, and Avail.

Source: realtor.com

How Do Student Loans Work? What You Need To Know About Borrowing Money For School

Have you ever wondered how do student loans work?

how do student loans work

how do student loans workMaybe you’re thinking about going to school and taking out a student loan, perhaps you are a parent trying to help your child find the best options, or perhaps you are about to start paying down your student loan debt.

Whatever your case may be, I am hoping today’s article will help you learn more about how student loans work, so that you can be prepared for your future.

There are just so many different components to student loans, and it can make it very confusing to understand how student loans work.

There are federal vs. private loans, you can pay them back in a variety of ways, and more.

Student loans are a big part of many people’s lives.

The average amount of student loan debt per borrower is $35,359 and 44.7 million people in the U.S. have student loan debt.

Not only that, but 10.8% of student loan debt is at least 90 days past due, and there is $96.1 billion in Parent PLUS student loan debt.

I’ve talked to lots of different people about student loans over the years, and many of them have borrowed more than they should have or made other decisions about their student loans that have negatively impacted their life for years to come.

Many of those people simply didn’t understand how student loans work.

This is why what I’m sharing with you today is so important. Student loans can follow you around for years, and your student loan debt can impact any other major life decisions you make, like buying a house, having kids, the job you get, retirement, and more. 

Knowing how student loans work can help you make the best decisions when borrowing money for school and as you pay them back.

Some of the topics discussed in this article include:

  • How do you get a student loan?
  • What is FAFSA?
  • What’s the difference between federal and private student loans?
  • How does paying back student loans work?
  • How does student loan forgiveness work?
  • Should parents pay for college?
  • Should parents cosign on student loans?
  • How else can parents help their children?
  • Should you refinance your student loans?

In today’s article, you will learn how student loans work so that you can approach student loan debt with as much knowledge as possible.

How do student loans work?

 

What is a student loan?

If you want to know how do student loans work, the first thing you need to know is exactly what student loans are.

A student loan is a money that is borrowed from the government or a bank to be used for college costs. Student loans may be used for tuition, dormitories (room and board), books, food, or other living expenses.

Student loans have to be paid back. 

Before you take out a student loan, you should ask yourself questions such as:

  • Will I be able to afford these student loan payments when they are due?
  • What is the interest rate?
  • When do my monthly student loan payments start?
  • Does interest build on my student loans while I am in school?

I’m going to explain more about some of these questions in just a minute.

How do you get a student loan? How much do student loans give you?

How do you take out a student loan? How does getting a student loan work?

First, you will want to complete your FAFSA form, which is the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (I will be going more over FAFSA in the next section).

After you have submitted your FAFSA, your school will send you a financial aid offer, which may include student loans, grants, and scholarships. This letter will tell you how to obtain the loans mentioned in your financial aid offer. This will involve selecting the amount you want — you do not have to take the full amount offered, such as if you are able to pay for some of your tuition in cash.

In order to get the student loans you will also have to complete entrance counseling so that you understand your student loans, as well as sign and agree to the terms of the student loans. 

When your student loan is approved, first your school will apply the loan funds to your tuition, fees,  and dormitory/meal plan. Any money leftover will be returned to you.

I do not recommend taking out more than you need for school costs, as these will add up quickly over the years, and your student loans may explode without you even realizing it.

And, it is very common for your financial aid offer to list a higher student loan amount than what you actually need.

Content related to how student loans work:

 

What is FAFSA?

Like I said, FAFSA stands for Free Application For Federal Student Aid.

It is a form that is filled out by college students or those who are about to enter college to see if they qualify for financial aid.

After you fill out a FAFSA form and if you qualify for student financial aid, you may be rewarded with a grant, scholarships, loans, and/or a work-study program.

These different awards can help you pay for college.

Here are the FAFSA tips you need to know:

  • To fill out your FAFSA, you should go to Studentaid.gov.
  • Pay attention to FAFSA deadlines, which you can find here. Many don’t file their FAFSA on time. Yes, there is a deadline. You should make note of the deadline and try to submit your FAFSA way before the deadline.
  • Many people make the mistake of not filing out their FAFSA at all. You must fill out your FAFSA if you want to qualify for any kind of money for school.
  • You need to fill out your FAFSA every year that you attend school. It’s not a one and done type of form. Please, remember to do this each year. I recommend making a note on your phone calendar for the next several years so that you don’t forget.
  • Collect the documents that you need to fill out your FAFSA form. To fill out your FAFSA, you will need your Social Security number, federal income tax returns, W2s, and asset information.
  • Make sure everything is correct on your FAFSA form. Double, triple, or even quadruple check your name, address, Social Security number, tax information, and more. Errors can lead to delays in receiving financial aid!
  • Make sure you contact your financial aid office at the college or university to see if there are any other forms you should fill out with your FAFSA. The financial aid office is there to help you, so do not hesitate to ask questions.

 

What should I know about student loans?

There are many things to research when you take out student loans or enter a repayment plan. Understanding your interest rates and payments can help you pay off your student loans faster and save money.

Here’s what you should understand about how student loans work:

  • Your interest rate. Some student loans have fixed interest rates, whereas others might have variable rates. You’ll want to figure out what the interest rate on your loans are because that may impact the student loan repayment plan you decide on. For example, you might choose to pay off your student loans that have the highest interest rates first so that you can pay less money over time.
  • What a monthly payment means. Many people believe that a monthly payment is all that you have to pay, are allowed to pay, or that by paying just the minimum monthly payment you won’t owe any interest. These three things are so incorrect! Even if you pay the minimum monthly payment, you will most likely still owe interest charges (unless your interest rate is 0% – but that is very unlikely with student loans).
  • Student loan reimbursements. Some employers will give you money to put towards your student loans, but you should always do your research before assuming it’s just that simple. Some employers require that you work for them for a certain amount of time, you have great grades, good attendance, and they might have other requirements as well. There are many employers out there who will pay your student loans back (fully or partially), so definitely look into this option.
  • Auto-payment plans. For most student loans, you can probably auto-pay them and receive a discount. Always look into this as you may be able to lower your interest rate by 0.25% on each of your student loans.

 

How do federal student loans work? 

Federal student loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education, and there are four types of direct loans available. These include:

  • Direct Subsidized Loan – These are student loans for eligible undergraduate students who have financial need to pay for college.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan – These are student loans for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but is not based on financial need.
  • Direct PLUS Loans – These are student loans for graduate and professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students. You do not need to show financial need for a Direct PLUS Loan, but a credit check is required.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans – These are loans that allow you to combine all of your federal student loans into one loan with one loan servicer.

 

How do private student loans work?

You may find private student loans through a bank, credit union, or through the college you are going to. How student loans work through a private lender is much closer to how personal loans work. 

Your payments may start while you are in school, you may need a cosigner, and your interest rate is sometimes higher than a federal student loan.

How does student loan interest work?

This is one thing many people don’t realize about how student loans work — your student loans may all have different interest rates. The interest rates on your loans depend on the kind of loan you take out and when you borrowed the money. 

With Direct Subsidized Loans, the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on your loan while you’re in school at least half-time, for the first 6 months after you leave school, and during a period of deferment.

This is different with Direct Unsubsidized Loans in that with Unsubsidized loans, you are responsible for paying the interest during all periods.

How does paying back student loans work?

Most student loans have a 6 month grace period where you don’t have to make your first payment until 6 months after you graduate or if you go to school less than half-time.

But, this all depends on the student loan, so you will want to make sure that you read the terms on your loan.

You’ll want to make sure that your loan servicer(s) has your current address, as you will be required to pay your monthly loan payment once it’s due. Your address may change over the years, so this is extremely important so that you do not forget to pay. I suggest knowing this information before you finish school so you are prepared.

Even though you may not have to pay back your student loans right away, that doesn’t mean you can’t.

You can start paying back your student loans early, and you can pay more than the minimum monthly payment as well. Doing this will help you to pay off your student loans more quickly and possibly save you money.

How does student loan forgiveness work?

Teachers, nurses, and government employees may be eligible for student loan forgiveness through a program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). It is only available for Direct Federal Student Loans, including Direct Plus and Direct Consolidation Loans.

To qualify, you must be working full-time, make 10 years of on-time monthly payments under a qualifying repayment program, which include:

  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)

You will have to certify your income and repayment plan every year, and PSLF does not apply to private student loans.

PSLF is one of the most confusing aspects of how student loans work, so I highly recommend that you contact your student loan servicer as soon as possible. They will explain exactly how to move forward with forgiveness.

 

Should parents pay for college?

Do you think parents should help pay for their children’s college education? Do you think parents should be required to pay for their children’s college education?

These are tough questions to ask and to answer, but they are very important when thinking about the ever increasing cost of higher education.

I’ve read countless stories of parents who have $200,000 in student loan debt for their children, and it’s that kind of debt that causes those parents to struggle financially, be unable to reach their retirement goals, etc. These parents end up drowning in debt because they just honestly want to help their children get through college. What they don’t realize, though, is that there are other ways to help your kids graduate from college.

Please don’t be one of the many parents paying for college simply because you think you have to. If you can truly afford it, then do whatever you want with your money.

With everything being said, I must admit that I am not a parent myself, and I understand that it is probably a difficult thing for parents to face.

I believe that parents should only fund their child’s college education if the parent is on track for retirement.

This is because there are multiple ways to pay for college (paying for it with cash, student loans, grants, scholarships, etc.), but there is only one way to fund your retirement.  

Remember, you cannot take out a loan for your retirement!

Due to this, you should not wreck your retirement plans to help your children through college. You should analyze your financial situation and see if you are track for retirement to see if helping your children through college is possible.

If it’s not possible, be honest with yourself and your child. Ultimately, what motivates parents paying for college most of all is love for their children. There are many ways to support and show your children how much you love them, and it isn’t just paying for college.

You can learn more at Parents Paying For College – Is This A Good Idea?

 

Should parents cosign on student loans? How do student loans work for parents?

Here’s an interesting statistic: the default rate on student loan debt averages around 10%. 

So, what does this mean? This means that if you cosign a student loan for your child and they default, you will be stuck with the bill. This is one thing I wish more parents knew about how student loans worked before they borrowed money to pay for their child’s tuition.

While you may think that you have a great relationship with your child, everything can change once money is in the mix. In my experience, not many things cause as much tension in family relationships as money does. I have heard of several people who had a falling out with their parents and actually purposely stopped paying their student loans because they knew that their parents would cave in and start paying for them.

Yes, this is a disgusting behavior, I know, but it does happen to some parents paying for college.

College, of course, can be very expensive, which means that many people take out student loans in order to simply “afford it.” Before you cosign on student loan debt and pay for your child’s college education, I hope you fully understand how student loans work and the consequences that can come from taking them out..

Learn more at Would you risk your relationship and finances to cosign?

 

How else can parents help their children?

If you cannot afford to pay for your child’s tuition while staying on track for retirement, or if you decide that you just do not want to pay for their college expenses, there are many other ways that you can help and support your kids while they are in school.

Some things you can do include:

  • Emotionally support them. Emotional support means listening to their troubles, giving advice, and helping them come up with a solid financial and college plan. You don’t have to agree with what they’re doing, rather be there when you need them.
  • Help your child understand personal finance. Teaching simple skills, such as creating a budget, will help your children greatly, not just in college but throughout their adult lives.
  • Assist your child in learning how to make money. There are tons of ways to make extra money, and helping your children find ways to do so can help them avoid student loans and/or pay them back.
  • Show your children affordable alternatives. Choosing the right college and the right course of study can be overwhelming for a young person fresh out of high school. For example, your child may only think they should go to an expensive private university, but explain more affordable alternatives, such as going to community college or a state university. These options aren’t any less valuable, and they might actually be better suited for your child’s needs. Also, help them learn about ways to cut college costs as well.
  • Help your child apply for school and scholarships. Applying for college can feel confusing for kids, but helping them find schools and helping with the application process can make it easier. There are also numerous scholarships that your child may qualify for. Some may require them to write essays, whereas others are based on high school grades. It can take a little work to find which scholarships your child is eligible for, but finding scholarships will help them avoid as many student loans. Also, most scholarships take very little effort and are given away by the college itself, which makes it a no brainer to apply for them!
  • Help your child in other ways. For some reason, there is this myth out there that parents paying for college have to pay for absolutely everything else too. Set limits instead of paying for their tuition, textbooks, food, dorm, car, and everything else. You might help by giving them emotional support, letting them stay in your home while they are in college, helping them find ways to save money for college, helping them cut their college expenses, paying for something smaller such as textbooks, and more.
  • Set your child up with a personal finance tracker. Financial trackers and apps are great tools for young people to use to see how they are doing with their finances. Platforms like Personal Capital allow you to aggregate and track all of your financial accounts in one place. While your child might not use their retirement tracker yet, you can sign up too and see where you’re at for retirement. You can sign up for Personal Capital for free here.

Also, there are many great books that you can recommend to your children, such as: Student Loan Solution and Broke Millennial.

 

Should you refinance your student loans?

Student loan refinancing is when you apply for a new loan that is then used to pay off your other student loans.

This is usually a great option if you borrowed private student loans and your credit score is better now than when you originally took out your student loans.

By refinancing your student loans, you may qualify for better repayment terms, a lower interest rate, and more. This is great because it may help you pay off your student loans quicker.

The positives of refinancing student loans include:

  • One monthly payment to simplify your finances
  • Lower monthly payments
  • Lower interest rates, and more

Companies, such as Credible (this is an affiliate link, and I recommend them), allow you to refinance your student loans. With refinancing, the average person can save thousands of dollars on their loan, and that’s incredible! You can save a lot of money with student loan refinancing, such as with Credible, especially if you have high interest federal or private loans. 

Credible’s platform is similar to the way Expedia works for finding flights – with Credible, you simply search the available rates to find the best student loan rate for you. There is no service fee, no origination fee, and no prepayment penalty if you end up paying off your student loans faster.

To use Credible, it takes less than 10 minutes and just follow these steps:

  1. Fill out a quick simple form (2 mins) – It only takes one form to see the many different lender options.
  2. Choose an option you like (2 mins) – On Credible, you can easily compare the different lenders all in one place.
  3. Provide your loan details (3 mins) – After providing more information about yourself, it takes one business day to receive your finalized offer.

Before refinancing a federal student loan, though, you will want to think about different federal benefits that you may be giving up. You may give up income-based repayment plans, loan forgiveness for those who have certain public service jobs (including jobs at public schools, the military, Peace Corps, and more). By refinancing your federal student loans, you may be giving up any future options for these loan forgiveness programs. 

However, keep in mind that by refinancing your student loans, you may receive lower monthly payments, lower interest rates, and more. This may help you pay off your debt much faster. For me, I didn’t qualify for any loan forgiveness, so refinancing would have definitely helped me if I knew about it back then.

 

What you should think about before you refinance a student loan.

Before you decide to refinance a student loan, I wanted to talk about what choices you have with handling your student loans.

  • If you want to take advantage of deferment, loan forgiveness, or some other sort of federal student loan program, you may want to think twice before refinancing your federal student loans. For more information, I recommend reading USA Today’s article What careers can get you student loan forgiveness?
  • Be careful with variable interest rates. While they may seem appealing at times, remember that your interest rate may fluctuate. If you currently have a variable rate, you may want to refinance into a fixed-rate, which can make refinancing a great decision for you.
  • Refinancing your student loans may lead to increasing your loan term, which can lead to lower monthly payments. However, it can also lead to higher interest charges over the life of your loan.
  • If your credit is better than it was when you first took out your student loans, you may be able to qualify for better terms and a better interest rate by refinancing your student loans. I recommend shopping around to see what you can get. Start out by checking out Credible!

What to know about student loan debt? Do student loans affect your credit score?

Here are just a few more important things to know about how student loans work, specifically debt. 

You cannot get rid of student loan debt through bankruptcy. But unlike other kinds of loans, federal student loans do not have to be paid back by your estate if you die before they are paid in full. That is not the case for private student loans — these must be handled the same way as your mortgage, car loan, etc.

Your student loan debt can affect your credit score, and here’s how:

  • On-time payments are good for your credit score, but late payments can have a negative impact.
  • Defaulting on your student loans looks very bad on your credit report and can stay there for 7 years.
  • Parent PLUS Loans show up on the parent’s credit report, not the students. Keep this in mind if you are taking loans out for your children.

How do student loans work? In summary

Understanding how student loans work is a very important part of borrowing money for school, and there is nothing wrong with borrowing money for school.

Most people simply don’t have enough cash saved to pay for school, and student loans make school more affordable. However, don’t forget that there are scholarships, less expensive schools, grants, and opportunities to make money to pay for school.

When you do need to borrow money from school, only take out what you actually need to borrow. Also, do your research to make sure you are borrowing money at the best rates — very important for private loans.

Your student loans will be with you for several years, so make sure you are making the smartest and most informed decision possible. 

What else would you like to know about how student loans work?

*Statistics about student loan debt from Investopedia, Forbes, US Department of Education

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

5 Crucial Questions To Ask Before You Renew Your Rental Lease Right Now

Is your lease almost up? Before you renew your rental contract for another year, there are numerous questions you should consider, particularly in the era of COVID-19.

While signing a new lease should never be done without pondering your current circumstances, the coronavirus pandemic has made it all the more crucial to weigh your options first. After all, COVID-19 may have changed many things about how you live and work—and how well your current space and location suit your needs.

So before you sign on that dotted line of a new lease, consider these questions first to make sure it’s the right decision for you.

1. Can I still afford this rental?

The first and most important question to ask relates to your current financial situation. Are you fearing a layoff or pay cut? Or worse, have you already experienced it? If so, it may be time to consider downsizing to a less expensive rental, or negotiate with your current landlord for a rent reduction. You might be surprised by how accommodating your landlord is right now.

“Landlords are in serious competition for quality renters now,” says Justin Pogue, a residential property manager for nearly 20 years. “With millions unemployed, the pool of qualified renters has shrunk, which may give you the ability to negotiate.”

If you like your apartment but can’t afford it anymore, take a price survey of other apartment communities that meet your livability criteria before your lease is up, says Pogue. “If you find a better deal, ask your landlord to match it.”

Just make sure you’ve done your research first.

“Tenants should only renegotiate their rates after finding another comparable, but cheaper unit,” says Berk Cagatay, an apartment rental manager in Los Angeles. “It’s a good strategy for the renters who want to lock in a low rate before the economy picks back up.”

And if your landlord won’t budge, you may just want to move to less expensive digs.

2. Should I look for a roommate?

If you’re dogged by financial concerns, one of the easiest ways to control monthly expenses is by splitting them. Unless there’s a significant other in the picture, you may want to consider finding a trustworthy roommate or two. They can help you make ends meet, and provide some company in these isolating times.

“You may have dismissed the possibility before, but after living in the solitary confinement of lockdown, having the right roommate just might be more appealing now,” points out Pogue.

Just make sure to clear such a change in your living arrangements with your landlord so this can be reflected in your new lease.

3. Should I negotiate for lower rent where I am, even if I can afford it?

Even if your finances aren’t in jeopardy, negotiating for lower rent is still a smart option if you feel there are better deals to be had out there—or if you’re no longer able to use many of the amenities you once enjoyed, like the building gym or community swimming pool.

“Reach out, and ask for what you want. The worst they can say is no. And in that case, you’re no worse off than when you started,” says Seth Rouch, a landlord in Aurora, CO. In fact, he’d just offered one tenant a monthly discount of $300, totaling $3,600 for the year.

“I did this because they are great tenants,” he explains. “Landlords often confuse themselves, thinking their building is the asset. However, the truth is the tenant is the asset. Without a tenant, I just have an extra house payment.”

4. Does my rental still meet my space needs?

Though cities across the U.S. have slowly opened up, many people are still cooped up at home, either working virtually or home-schooling children. With that in mind, rental units have transformed from places to eat, sleep, and relax to doubling as offices, classrooms, and entertainment areas.

“One of the first questions I would ask is, ‘If I’m working or home-schooling kids from home now, does this rental meet those needs and space requirements?'” says Rob Carrillo, a property manager with Century 21 Haggerty in El Paso, TX.

It’s also worth pondering whether your apartment is conducive to being in quarantine. By that, think about your comfort level inside the space itself for long periods of time and in the surrounding neighborhood.

“Are you in an area where you want to live if you encounter a serious health issue or other crisis?” asks Chris Gold, CEO of Chris Buys Homes in St. Louis. “This virus may stick around for a while, and people should plan for it. Maybe you’d like to be closer to family or emergency services? Or maybe you’d like to get out of the city to live in a place where you are not directly in contact with people on a regular basis?”

5. Should I buy a home instead of renting?

There are numerous reasons why someone may choose to rent instead of buy. However, with interest rates hovering at all-time lows, renters may be surprised to find out they can often save money in the long run if they buy instead of rent.

“I understand down payments may be difficult for some people to come up with,” says Mike Zschunke, a real estate agent in Arizona. “However, it doesn’t hurt to call a mortgage broker to review your current situation. You may realize your situation is different than you initially thought.”

“Always evaluate the opportunity cost of renting versus buying,” adds Michael Chadwick, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Corcoran Group in New York City. “If you are at least four to six months from when your lease expires, and you have the means to buy, consider if you want to continue to dump thousands of dollars into rent when you could be investing in yourself. Despite every crisis in the past 30 or 40 years, home prices on average always rise. You have to play the long game.”

Not sure whether renting or buying is right for you? Use an online rent vs. buy calculator to see what’s cheaper in your area, or check out a home affordability calculator, which helps estimate how much you can afford to spend on a home and monthly mortgage payments.

Source: realtor.com

7 Red Flags Renters Need to Know About Apartment Shopping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s not a secret that the coronavirus pandemic has made renting a home or apartment stressful for both landlords and tenants.

About 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, according to Moody’s Analytics, and rental rates in big coastal cities have fallen year over year as renters flee to the suburbs. But rents in fast-growing cities and spillover markets like Rochester, NY, and Tacoma, WA, are on the rise, according to realtor.com’s September rent report.

But no matter where you’re renting—or how many times you’ve rented in the past—looking at and leasing a home safely during a pandemic is complicated. It requires forethought and consideration, taking into account your budget and additional safety measures so everyone involved in the process can stay safe.

With the pandemic still presenting a risk for apartment shoppers, here’s what renters should be asking about and what red flags should send you running.

1. Suspiciously low rent

Everyone wants a deal, especially in the face of economic challenges. But if you’re seeing a too-good-to-be-true deal, especially in historically high markets like New York City or San Francisco, be wary.

“These historic low prices aren’t going to last forever,” says Beatrice Genco, a real estate adviser with New York City’s Triplemint. “There are some properties giving away one, two, even three months free, but what does that mean for next year? Landlords are hurting and want to increase prices as soon as they can, so lock yourself into a longer lease or make sure you understand how much the landlord is going to increase the rent.”

2. No COVID-19 policies

Your potential new landlords should be able to share the ways in which they are keeping their community clean and healthy based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes the measures they’re taking for disinfecting high-touch areas and enforcing social distancing. If this information is not presented to you up front, ask. Landlords should have a clearly outlined policy in place to safeguard tenants, and if they don’t, you may have to walk away from the deal.

It’s also important to find out what has been done to clean the individual unit you’re interested in since the last tenant vacated.

“Have the rugs been deep-cleaned?” asks Deidre Woollard, a real estate expert for the investing service Millionacres in Alexandria, VA. “Have all walls, floors, and countertops been wiped with bleach or antibacterial cleaning products? Have they replaced HVAC filters?”

3. Pricey shared amenities

Shared amenities like gyms, roof decks, and pools are normally a draw (and a justification for above-average rent rates) for larger apartment complexes. But during the pandemic-induced era of social distancing, many of these amenities have been closed or significantly limited.

Woollard reminds would-be renters to “find out what shared amenities are open and what precautions are being used to keep those spaces safe and clean. If a gym or pool is closed, will renters be compensated with a rebate?”

4. No social media presence

It’s almost 2021. Virtually every business and individual have a presence online, and that includes apartment complexes, brokers, and landlords. Part of a prospective renter’s due diligence should include checking out potential leasers on social media.

Greg Bond, president of Greater Orlando Home Buyers, warns that if you can’t find their social media accounts, that might mean they’re using a fake identity. These untraceable individuals are the same ones, he says, who “try to reel you in quick so you don’t notice the small details that can derail their shenanigans.”

5. Neglected maintenance

Whether they’re working with an agent or not, renters should consider conducting their own pre-leasing inspection of appliances and utilities in the apartment.

“As a renter, you need to make sure that everything in the property is in working condition before signing a lease,” says Max Cohen, CEO of Sarasota’s Florida Home Buyers. “A lot of landlords are dealing with cash flow shortages and are pushing off major repairs that can end up costing you. For example, an inefficient air conditioner can raise your electric bill significantly, and a slow-leaking toilet can cost you hundreds of dollars over the course or your lease.”

So before you sign on the dotted line, go ahead and turn on the air conditioner, turn on sinks, flush the toilet and let it fill up, open and close windows, run the shower and tub, inspect the microwave and other appliances, and switch on the oven.

6. Freshly painted wood

A newly painted trim may seem like a welcome sign of diligence on the landlord’s part, but it may actually be hiding a problem.

Rotting wood can require extra effort and cost to replace, so landlords often paint over it. This hides it temporarily, but by move-in day, the problem is often visible.

Paige Nejame, a Boston-based house painter who sees this a lot, suggests pressing or poking freshly painted wood to check for soft spots, especially near the seams and edges of rooms where water can gather.

7. The landlord won’t show you the apartment

Be on the lookout for property owners or agents who won’t let you tour the space, citing fears over COVID-19 as the reason. If your city or state is on lockdown, you may be forced to delay touring the apartment. However, there are ways to tour an apartment safely; some properties are offering self-guided tours while others give the option of a socially distanced tour with face masks and gloves.

“Many owners are trying to rent out units sight unseen, saying they want to limit in-person interactions,” says Ashley Romiti, a senior associate at Vantis Capital Advisors in Irvine, CA. “But photos and virtual tours can be misleading.”

If you’re adamant about touring the apartment before leasing, say so.

“If they refuse to accommodate your requests, you have probably dodged a bullet,” Romiti says.

Source: realtor.com

How To Fight an Eviction During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Eviction may soon become a reality for millions of American renters.

In March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act prohibited landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent in homes with federally backed mortgages. But this program ended on July 24.

As a result, an estimated 20% of the 110 million Americans who rent their homes are at risk for eviction by Sept. 30, according to a report by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a group of economic researchers and legal experts working to better understand the housing, homeless, and community recovery during the pandemic.

“We anticipate a flood of evictions because many tenants won’t be able to pay the back rent, and it will be due,” says Deborah Thrope, deputy director at the National Housing Law Project, a housing and legal advocacy nonprofit.

“The eviction moratorium is simply a pause. It’s not rent cancelation,” Thrope says.

But even if you’re struggling to pay rent, this doesn’t mean an eviction is your only choice. Here’s an overview of some of the steps you can take to fight an eviction.

Talk to your landlord ASAP

“The best advice I can give tenants when their financial situation starts to deteriorate is to communicate with your landlord,” says Marina Vaamonde, a real estate investor in Houston and founder of HouseCashin. “Their willingness to have a discussion is the only way tenants can come to a resolution without going to court.”

According to a recent survey of landlords by the American Apartment Owners Association, 67% said they would be willing to offer tenants a rent deferment if they needed it.

So if you know you can’t make your next rent payment, reach out to your landlord as soon as possible. Waiting until after you get an eviction notice may be too late, and your landlord may be less likely to work with you. Your landlord could also already be in the process of filing the eviction with the court, and have paid fees to do so, which may make him more likely to follow through.

“There are a number of things you can negotiate with your landlord,” Thrope says. Some options to consider include a rent repayment agreement, shortening the terms of your lease, or possibly getting out of your lease altogether.

Learn how COVID-19 moratoriums apply to you

Eviction laws vary drastically across the country at the state and even city level, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it all even more complicated. Along with the CARES Act eviction moratorium, states and municipalities issued their own mandates to pause evictions. So make sure to read up on the eviction laws in your area specifically to better understand what your landlord is legally allowed and not allowed to do.

“Once you understand your legal rights, you’ll know your options,” Thrope says. “We have this patchwork of policy all across the country right now, so it’s important to know the local law and tenant protections.”

One resource for finding out the statutes of local eviction laws is the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which created a nationwide database. The group has also developed a state-by-state COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard, tracking states’ responses to evictions and during the pandemic.

NHLP also has local and national online resources for renters and homeowners during the pandemic.

Make sure your landlord gives you adequate notice

Landlords usually have the legal right to evict tenants for not paying rent, violating a lease, causing damage to the property, or engaging in illegal activity at the home.

Most states require landlords to give an adequate notice of eviction with a deadline to pay rent or move out and the amount owed. If you don’t meet the deadline, the landlord can file a lawsuit to evict you.

But if landlords don’t provide adequate notice of eviction, Vaamonde says a judge will often throw out the case.

In Texas, for example, landlords must provide an official three-day notice to vacate the property with the reason for the eviction, and can file an eviction hearing with the court if the tenant doesn’t respond or move out.

Landlords are also prohibited from taking extreme actions during the eviction process, like changing the locks or cutting off utilities.

Attend your eviction hearing

After being closed because of the pandemic, eviction courts are beginning to reopen across the country, and are moving cases through quickly to clear up the backlog of evictions.

If your landlord files for an eviction in court, you will receive a notice to appear for the hearing. It’s important to show up, especially if you hope to fight the case. You have the right to examine and present evidence and bring witnesses, Thrope says.

“Showing up to the eviction hearing at the courthouse is the only way to receive some form of leniency,” Vaamonde says. “If the landlord wants you out of his property, the judge is the only one with the authority to defer your eviction.”

Since the pandemic has made showing up to court more difficult and dangerous, many proceedings are being held virtually, with tenants expected to appear by phone or videoconference. This may be easier for some tenants, but Thrope says in other cases, it can interfere with due process for some tenants who may not have access to the technology. It also makes it more difficult to look over evidence or converse with attorneys. Make sure you know when, where, and how you’re supposed to show up in court to make sure you do what you can to present your case.

“We hope that courts understand that this is a public health crisis, and that people sheltering in their homes is one of the remedies,” Thrope says. “To put people on the street right now is only going to exacerbate this crisis, so we hope courts will do the right thing.”

Consult an attorney

Fighting an eviction alone is overwhelming for many tenants since the process is so complex. Thrope urges tenants facing eviction to hire an attorney or contact local legal aid organizations.

“Reach out for legal assistance,” she says. “That’s really important because you need to understand what protections you can avail yourself locally.”

A lawyer can help explain whether you’re protected by the CARES Act or other local mandate, as well as how regular eviction laws apply in your situation and what exactly you need to do to fight an eviction.

A lawyer will also help you gather documentation to use as evidence, such as proof of past rent payments or that you lost your job, and any communication that you had with your landlord.

“Most tenants are not represented,” she says. “Some tenants may be savvy enough to [represent themselves], but it’s a legal process. We have the right to counsel, and it’s really critical here.”

Source: realtor.com

Rent-to-Own Real Estate: The Benefits and Risks for Home Buyers

Rent-to-own real estate may sound like a dream come true. Under the best circumstances, everyone benefits: Sellers collect rent and have a purchase commitment from the buyers, and the buyers can move in right away.

In addition, credit score problems or other financial issues that could hamper a buyer’s ability to get a mortgage matter much less in a rent-to-own agreement than when you’re buying a house right out.

Either way, though, buying a home is still a major financial commitment. While rent-to-own real estate contracts may not be traditional, they’re not necessarily always less complicated than negotiating on a purchase price and getting a loan.

You may not need to come up with a big down payment or have the best credit score to enter into a rent-to-own agreement, but still, this type of contract isn’t always easy to manage.

The key to a smooth transaction is ensuring that you understand the entire process. Here’s what you need to know about rent-to-own homes, as well as the risks involved for buyers.

Why choose a rent-to-own agreement?

Ordinarily, sellers don’t like being landlords. They prefer to get their money in one lump sum and avoid dealing with tenants.

Rent-to-own homes are more common when there is a downturn in the real estate market and numerous homes on the market are vacant. Under a rent-to-own plan, the seller can lock in a price before the market drops further.

But it can be a great choice for tenants, too. While leasing can be a great option, you might be tired of looking for homes to rent. In fact, maybe you’re finally ready to buy that forever home.

However, the high recent purchase price on homes in your area may seem daunting, and you might know that you can’t afford a hefty down payment. This is when a rent-to-own contract might work for you.

Terms of rent-to-own real estate

Always read your contract closely and be sure you can handle the terms. The rent-to-own real estate contract should include the home price, the cost of rent, and the deadline that establishes when you should exercise your option to buy.

It should specify what portion of the rent payment is credited toward the home purchase—or if you need to write two checks each month, for the rent and for the home payment—and under what circumstances the contract can be voided.

You should make certain that there is no language allowing the landlord to evict you for a minor infraction after you have made a substantial financial investment.

It’s worth the expense to have an experienced real estate attorney look at your lease-option contract to make sure you are protected.

When the agreed-upon lease option expires, the tenants will get the chance to buy the house.

Most of the money the tenants have invested in the house is going towards the purchase price, so if they are able to qualify for a home loan, they can be in a good place to buy the house.

If, however, they aren’t able to swing a home loan, and can’t afford the house, they could be out more money than they would be if they had simply been renting during the period.

Renting to own may at first seem like a lease agreement with a pot of gold at the end.

However, if you’re not careful, the deal could go south, and you could end up in big financial trouble. Don’t let your excitement over becoming a homeowner keep you from doing your homework.

Rent-to-own home fees

There are extra fees when it comes to rent-to-own properties, including an option fee and maintenance fees.

The option fee is likely to cost between 1% and 5% of the purchase price. Tenants also can expect their rent to total slightly more than the market rate during the lease.

Usually, all or part of the option fee will be set aside as a down payment. While the home is being rented, the landlord retains ownership but often requires the tenant to assume responsibility for maintenance.

Remember that maintenance on a house can be expensive, so consider carefully what state the house is in before agreeing to a rent-to-own property.

Know the risks of rent-to-own real estate

Buyers can get plenty of benefits out of rent-to-own agreements—but not without some big potential roadblocks.

In many cases, buyers are counting on being able to rebuild their damaged credit rating while living in the rent-to-own home and paying above-market rent.

To benefit, they must be able to get their finances in order and qualify for a home loan before their lease option expires.

Should the market drop significantly, the buyers/renters may end up owing a lot more on a house than it’s worth. It will also be harder to move out should their lifestyle change.

Leasing with an option to buy can be a good financial tool if you know what you’re doing. You could make plans for buying a house without needing to qualify for a home loan or ponying up a hefty down payment.

Make sure that before you go the rent-to-own real estate route, you talk to a lender or mortgage broker to make sure that you will be able to qualify for a loan.

Updated from an earlier version by Emmet Pierce

Source: realtor.com

‘Why I Renewed My New York City Lease—Pandemic, Unemployment, and All’

According to recent headlines, people have been fleeing New York City. I, however, recently renewed a yearlong lease on my Manhattan apartment, which means I’m stuck here—for better or for worse—until August 2021.

Why did I go against the grain in the wake of all the challenges New York is facing in the coronavirus pandemic? The decision caused me a lot of anxiety, but ultimately, I didn’t feel like I was ready or able to bail on the city I’ve called home for over 20 years. Here’s why.

Reason to renew: Staying costs money, as does moving

In March when the coronavirus pandemic first hit, I’d actually pulled my own version of an escape by hightailing it to Annapolis, MD, to stay with my mom in her big house. I thought maybe I’d be there a few weeks, but instead didn’t find myself contemplating a return to NYC before mid-July.

Even then, I worried I was returning too soon.

“Just how bad is it?” I asked a friend who remained in New York. The friend described the shuttered stores and restaurants, the empty streets, the uptick in crime.

My lease was set to expire at the end of July. This meant that if I were to renew it, I’d have to do so by June 30, or lose my apartment.

I knew that moving has its own costs associated with it, but I also estimated it would cost about $750 to move my things into storage—not including the cost of the storage unit itself. I calculated that moving out of New York would have cost about the same as staying put, at least upfront.

Reason to go: I’m unemployed

Still, in the long term, there was no argument that I could save more money by moving out of the city—particularly given some recent changes to my career and income.

Pre-COVID-19, I was a successful Broadway actor; but starting in March, all productions closed down, leaving me out of work. My “backup” careers of teaching dance and fitness were also moot, with gyms and studios closed as well.

Broadway will be back, but for now, it's empty houses.
Broadway will be back, but for now, it’s empty houses.

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Unemployment insurance provided a little security, but the extra Pandemic Unemployment Assistance ($600 a week) was the true godsend for me and many others in hard-hit industries.

But the extra PUA expired at the end of July, and as I write this, no extensions have been federally approved. Without it, could I even afford to stay in New York City?

I had some savings, but there was a possibility I might not work again for a year, or longer. Unless a vaccine or treatment is found for COVID-19, theatrical productions may be among the last jobs to return—the risk is just too great to the performers and the audiences. Live performances will return, but it’s going to be a long road.

One of the reasons I lived in the city was to work in theater, and enjoy all the amazing performances this city has to offer. Without that, I wasn’t sure if it made sense to shell out rent here. Would it be smarter to give up my apartment and just wait it out holed up with my mom?

Reason to renew: They say you should never give up a rent-stabilized apartment

I have a really good deal: a rent-stabilized, one-bedroom apartment for less than $1,500 a month in a nice area. Three years ago, I’d fought really hard to get it through a housing lottery. If I gave it up, odds are I’d never be able to pull that off again.

In a pre-COVID-19 world at least, one of the cardinal rules of NYC real estate was that you never, ever gave up a rent-stabilized lease if you somehow managed to get one.

Kitchen in author's Manhattan apartment
Kitchen in author’s Manhattan apartment

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Plus, if I did leave, where would I go? Would it be healthy to live at home with my mom? What about my independence, my career, my social life?

Granted, right now no one has much of a social life. But at some point, a vaccine will arrive, which will mean people mingling with a vengeance. When that day comes, I wagered I’d regret having given up my apartment so soon.

Roof deck of the author's apartment building in Manhattan
Roof deck of the author’s apartment building in Manhattan

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

Reason to renew: If I left, there’s no coming back

The bottom line came down to this: I wasn’t ready to give up my life in New York City. For better or for worse, the city has my heart. Even though it’s no longer the city I once loved, I decided that renewing my lease was a risk I had to take.

A couple of weeks after renewing my lease remotely from my mother’s house, I returned in person to my Manhattan apartment. I was nervous. And my friend was right, things did feel different. I was shocked by the number of stores that were still boarded up or closed for good. The only people wandering the streets seemed to be homeless people who’d been placed in hotels in my area. The streets near my home now had drug activity and other dangers.

In my 20-plus years in the city, I’d never felt wary walking around alone after dark, but now I did.

A Cosmopolitan at a sidewalk cafe in New York City in August
A Cosmopolitan at a sidewalk cafe in New York City in August

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

For the first week back, I wondered if returning was a mistake. But then I enjoyed my first socially distanced dinner at a sidewalk cafe with a friend. I witnessed a glorious sunset sitting on a bench by the Hudson River. And when I went to a couple of neighborhood stores, I was surprised when cashiers and store clerks greeted me with “Where have you been? We missed you!”

Watching the sunset with friends
Watching the sunset with friends

Kimberly Dawn Neumann

I realized I was very happy to be back. I knew I’d made the right choice for now.

New York City is unique, and it will stage a comeback somehow. And if you love it, you love it—even when it’s having a rough year. But then again, who isn’t?

Source: realtor.com