15 Jobs That Qualify for Student Loan Repayment & Forgiveness Programs

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Student loan debt can be overwhelming. Yet it’s become an unavoidable reality for many college graduates. According to a 2018 report from the Institute for College Access & Success, two-thirds of students borrow money for college. 

The average amount borrowed, according to 2019 statistics from Nitro College, is more than $37,000. And many professions require taking on graduate school debt that tops six figures.

That’s a huge burden on new graduates just starting out in their careers. Fortunately, there are a variety of programs to help with repayment, including forgiveness, cancellation, and loan repayment programs (LRPs) specific to your chosen career. 

Career-specific programs can help reduce or even eliminate student debt in exchange for your years of service and expertise.

There are over 100 federal and state-based programs that offer student loan forgiveness, cancellation, or repayment assistance related to your profession. But while millions of borrowers could qualify for these programs, only a small fraction take advantage of them. 

For example, about 35 million Americans are employed in the public sector and could have their student loans forgiven through the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Yet less than one million have applied as of a 2017 estimate from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

That could be because many graduates aren’t even aware these LRPs and forgiveness programs exist. So, to help you get started on paying off your student loans as quickly as possible, we’ve put together a list of programs available for certain career fields. 

If you decide to apply for any of them, make sure you understand all the eligibility factors and program requirements.

Careers That Offer Student Loan Repayment or Forgiveness

Both the federal government and private organizations offer job-specific forgiveness and repayment programs. 

Generally, federal programs are available to professionals working in public-sector or high-need areas. These jobs often aren’t the best-paying or most desirable, so these programs are an incentive to attract highly qualified workers to jobs that might otherwise go unfilled. Hopefully, what you sacrifice in income will be made up by debt repayment or forgiveness.

Here’s a list of career paths that offer student loan forgiveness or repayment.

1. Public Service Employee

Nurses Doctors Coordinate Hands Team Hospital

Anyone who works in a qualifying organization, such as a government agency or nonprofit, can get loan forgiveness through the PSLF program. It was designed to encourage people to work in the public sector and covers the most careers of all job-specific forgiveness and repayment programs.

PSLF is available to any worker in a government organization — federal, state, or local — as well as nonprofit organizations. Just a few of the job types that could qualify include public teaching, military service, social work, public safety, law enforcement, public health services, public library services, and public interest law.

To qualify for PSLF, you must make a total of 120 payments while working for a qualifying nonprofit or government agency. These payments don’t need to be consecutive, but it does mean you need to work in a qualifying job for an overall total of 10 years. 

After making the required number of payments, any remaining loan balance will be forgiven. Unlike regular forgiveness with income-driven repayment, you won’t have to pay taxes on the remaining balance.


2. Federal Agency Employee

Federal Agent Nyc Secret Service

In addition to PSLF, federal employees also have access to a lesser-known LRP: the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program. To attract and retain highly qualified employees, federal agencies are allowed to offer job candidates this special job perk. 

In exchange for a commitment to work at the agency for a minimum of three years, federal agencies can pay up to $10,000 per year toward a new hire’s federal student loans. The total assistance given cannot exceed $60,000.

Depending on how much you owe, this program has a slight advantage over PSLF. If you owe $60,000 or less, you could have your entire balance wiped clean without making any payments toward your loans or needing to wait 10 years for forgiveness of the balance. 

You also won’t have to stay at the job for 10 years. Instead, you could have your balance paid off in as few as three years or as many as six.

However, the program isn’t without its caveats. For one, if you leave your job before your three years are up or are fired for misconduct or poor performance, you’ll have to pay back any money the agency paid toward your loans. 

And regardless of whether you complete the term or not, you’ll have to pay income tax on the amount paid toward your loans. 

Additionally, not all government jobs offer this perk or the same repayment amounts. 

Only federal loans are eligible for the program, but all types of federal loans are covered, including FFEL Loans, Direct Loans, and PLUS Loans.

If you’re a parent who borrowed a Parent PLUS loan to help cover college tuition for your child, you can qualify for this program. Very few options are available to help Parent PLUS borrowers manage payments. 

And, unlike with some forgiveness and repayment programs, you don’t need to have finished your degree to qualify.

However, many agencies require a degree and sometimes specific degrees. They all tailor their plans to recruit highly qualified candidates to hard-to-fill positions.

There’s no formal application for this program. Instead, you’ll need to ask your potential or current employer if student loan repayment is a benefit offered through that federal agency. 

If you ask, your employer will at least consider your request. But whether it’s given to you is decided on a case-by-case basis.

More than 35 federal agencies offer this perk, including all 15 cabinet-level departments and over 20 independent agencies. If you’re interviewing for or a federal agency that doesn’t, ask them if they’ll consider providing this benefit if you accept the position. All federal agencies are eligible to offer it.


3. Teacher

Portrait Teacher In Classroom With Students

Teaching generally requires an extensive amount of higher education. That could range from a bachelor’s degree to a Ph.D., depending on the position. Yet even those who teach at the college level often aren’t paid enough to account for the high cost of their education. 

As a college-level English teacher, I know this struggle firsthand. I borrowed well into the six figures to finance my Ph.D. (a requirement for teaching college), yet my starting teaching income was a meager $25,000.

Average teacher salaries are just over $30,000 for preschool teachers, $60,000 for elementary and middle school teachers, $62,000 for high school teachers, and $80,000 for postsecondary teachers. 

It’s easy to borrow more than the average annual teacher salary for only a bachelor’s degree, but many teachers are required to get masters and doctorate degrees. Fortunately, there are a few programs that can help them repay their loans.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Most teachers — as long as they work full-time for a public or nonprofit school or college — qualify for PSLF. The program is a major boon for teachers who struggle with low pay while attempting to pay off high student loan debt.

Although the program hasn’t functioned optimally in the past, in October 2021, the Department of Education announced a huge and ongoing overhaul of PSLF that should make the program easier for borrowers to get forgiveness now and in the future.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

If you teach in a low-income school district or work in a teacher shortage area, you qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. You could receive anywhere from $5,000 to $17,500 depending on the subject you teach and your years of service. Only math, science, and special education teachers are eligible to receive the higher amount of $17,500.

To qualify, you must work full-time for at least five consecutive academic years at a school that serves low-income students. To find out if your school qualifies, search the directory at Federal Student Aid.

You must also be a “highly qualified teacher.” That includes having a bachelor’s degree and state certification as a teacher and passing state tests that prove subject matter knowledge.

Only federal Direct and FFEL loans qualify. You cannot have Federal Perkins or Federal PLUS loans — either Parent PLUS or Graduate PLUS — forgiven under this program.

It’s possible to qualify for both Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF, but any years of service that count toward Teacher Loan Forgiveness can’t be counted toward PSLF. So you need to crunch the numbers to see which is of greater benefit to your situation. 

Also, if you’re an AmeriCorp volunteer (see No. 14 below) any period of time you spend working toward their repayment benefit isn’t counted toward the years required for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

Although your Federal Perkins Loans aren’t eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, they may be eligible for cancellation under the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Program. To qualify, you must teach at a low-income school, in a subject area deemed by your state to have a shortage, or as a special education teacher.

Perkins Loans cancellation is gradual. For your first and second years of teaching, you get a cancellation of 15% of your loan for each year of teaching, including any accrued interest. For the third and fourth years, it’s 20% for each year. And for the fifth year, it’s 30%. That adds up to a total of 100% cancellation if you continue teaching at a qualified school for five years.

Note that the Federal Perkins Loans program ended in 2017. It’s no longer possible to get this loan, but if you already have Perkins loans and you’re a teacher, this is one way to unload them.

State and City-Based Programs

Additionally, there are state and city-specific loan forgiveness programs available to teachers. To discover what’s available in your area, search the AFT directory.


4. Doctor/Physician

Doctor Smiling Arms Crossed Office

Although most doctors can expect to make well into the six figures, paying for the education to get there can take a significant chunk out of even a large paycheck. 

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the median medical school debt for 2016 graduates was $190,000. On a standard 10-year repayment plan, that’s a monthly student loan bill of over $2,200. 

Fortunately, doctors in need of debt relief have options, including PSLF for those who work in public health.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Programs

For those interested in working in shortage areas, the NHSC offers a number of LRPs for health care professionals.

  • NHSC Loan Repayment Program. The NHSC offers student loan repayment assistance of up to $50,000 to physicians and other health care professionals through their Loan Repayment Program. In exchange, doctors must work full-time in an NHSC-approved shortage area for two years. The payments are tax-free and disburse immediately on starting work. Even better, after the initial two-year service agreement, participants can renew their contracts annually to receive continued repayment assistance. The length and amount of assistance depend on the area of service. Higher-need areas qualify for larger loan repayments.
  • NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program. In exchange for providing substance use or opioid treatment, health care providers can receive up to $100,000 in student loan repayment assistance through the NHSC Rural Community LRP. Participants must work at a rural NHSC-approved substance use disorder treatment facility for three years. Priority is given to sites that have received Rural Communities Opioid Response Program funding.
  • NHSC Students to Service Program. For medical students completing their last year of school, the NHSC offers a Students to Service Program. In exchange for a commitment to provide primary health care at an NHSC-approved site for three years after graduation, the NHSC provides up to $120,000 toward both educational costs and student loans.
  • NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program. In exchange for working three years in substance use disorder treatment at an NHSC-approved site, the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program pays up to $75,000 toward student loans. You get priority if you have a DATA 2000 waiver, serve in an opioid treatment program, or have a license or certification in substance use disorder interventions.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers repayment assistance of $50,000 annually to health care professionals in exchange for performing medical research funded by a U.S. nonprofit. 

Like other repayment assistance programs, the NIH LRP was created to attract top talent to an underserved field — in this case, biomedical or behavioral research.

Through eight different programs, health researchers receive repayment assistance while either employed with the NIH or eligible organizations outside the NIH. The programs are organized around broad research areas but aren’t intended to fund individual research projects. Rather, the intention is to support applicants in building a career in medical research.

Indian Health Services (IHS) Loan Repayment Program

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a federal program for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In exchange for a two-year commitment to work in a health facility serving indigenous Americans, the IHS Loan Repayment Program repays up to $40,000 in student loans for health care professionals. 

After the initial two years, participants can renew their contracts annually to receive additional benefits until their full debt is repaid.

Military Student Loan Repayment Assistance

The military offers a number of scholarships and repayment assistance programs to health care professionals. Although there may be some differences in maximum payout amounts, whether you join the Army, Navy, or the Force, all three branches of the military offer similar scholarship and repayment programs for health care professionals.

  • The Health Professions Scholarship Program. Qualified medical, dental, nursing, and veterinary students can have their full tuition and expenses paid by a branch of the military, plus receive a monthly stipend of $2,200 or more. Students are also eligible for a $20,000 sign-on bonus. Students “repay” the scholarship by serving in the military for one year per year of scholarship.
  • Financial Assistance Program. This LRP grants up to $45,000 per year in repayment assistance, as well as a monthly stipend of $2,000 or moreq to military members enrolled in an accredited residency. Once you complete your residency, you must complete a year of service for each year you received assistance, plus one additional year.
  • Health Professions Loan Repayment Program. Qualified participants receive up to $40,000 per year paid directly toward their student loans, minus federal income taxes.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)

In addition to branches of the military, the VA, which provides medical care to veterans among other services, provides repayment assistance programs.

  • Education Debt Reduction Program. Through the VA’s Education Debt Reduction Program (EDRP), doctors and other health care professionals who work for the VA receive up to $200,000 in repayment assistance. Payments are made over a five-year period, up to a maximum of $40,000 per year. The VA uses the EDRP program as a recruitment incentive to fill positions in difficult-to-recruit specialties.
  • Student Loan Repayment Program. The VA is one of the government agencies qualified to offer repayment assistance as a recruitment bonus. As federal agency employees, VA doctors are eligible for up to $10,000 per year in repayment assistance, up to a maximum of $60,000 through the VA’s Student Loan Repayment Program.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Faculty Loan Repayment Program

For health professionals who serve at least two years as a faculty member at a health professions school, HRSA’s Faculty Loan Repayment Program offers up to $40,000 in student loan repayment assistance. To qualify, you must come from a disadvantaged background.

State-Based Programs

A number of states offer LRPs for physicians. Many of these are through the NHSC’s State Loan Repayment Program. These programs provide incentives for doctors to practice in shortage areas.

Additionally, some states have their own loan repayment assistance plans (LRAPs) for doctors. Similar to the NHSC programs, these typically offer student loan repayment or other special pay incentives for doctors who commit to working in high-need areas. 

For a list of state programs, visit the database maintained by the AAMC.


5. Nurse

Group Of Nurses At Hospital

A nurse’s income can approach or even exceed six figures, depending on the type of nursing. The highest-paying jobs require graduate degrees. 

And according to a 2017 report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, more than two-thirds of nursing students borrow anywhere from $40,000 to $150,000 to get these degrees. That’s a serious bite out of even a six-figure paycheck.

Many of the programs for doctors and physicians are also available to those in nursing. 

These include:

  • PSLF (if you work in public health)
  • The NHSC programs, except for Students to Service
  • The NIH LRP
  • The IHS LRP
  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • VA LRPs
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

Additionally, there are a couple of other nurse-specific programs to help nurses pay off their debt as quickly as possible.

Nurse Corp Loan Repayment Program

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program repays up to 85% of the student debt acquired to get a nursing degree. In exchange for a two-year commitment to work in a nursing shortage area or as nursing faculty at an eligible school, participants can have 60% of their debt repaid. 

At the end of the initial two years, they can apply for a third year and receive another 25% of debt repayment assistance. 

Note that this assistance is not tax-exempt, so any assistance you receive is reduced by the amount of income tax you’ll need to pay.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

If you’re a nurse and have any Federal Perkins Loans, you can get up to 100% of them canceled. To qualify, you must be a registered nurse and work full-time. 

You also have to apply to the program, either through the school you borrowed from or your student loan servicer; enrollment isn’t automatic. 

As long as you qualify, your Perkins Loans are gradually discharged over a period of five years.

State-Based Programs

Most states offer loan forgiveness and repayment programs for nurses in exchange for working in a shortage area. You must be licensed to practice in a state to qualify for its loan repayment programs. 

There’s no centralized database specifically for nursing, so search your state to see if any programs are offered in your area. 

The database maintained by the AAMC is a good place to start.


6. Dentist

Boy Getting His Teeth Cleaned Dentist Chair Office

Believe it or not, dentists often find themselves in far worse student debt than physicians. According to the American Student Dental Association, the average debt load for 2018 dental graduates was a monumental $285,184. 

Like physicians, dentists can make well into the six figures, but it’s not nearly enough to make repaying loans of that size easy.

As with other professions, PSLF is an option if you work for a nonprofit or public service agency. Additionally, many of the same programs available to physicians are also available to dentists. 

These include:

  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • VA LRPs
  • The IHS LRP
  • All of the NHSC programs, including Students to Service
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

State-Based Programs

Many states have their own programs designed to encourage dentists to work in high-need areas. 

For a full list of state-specific student loan repayment assistance for dentists, visit the database maintained by the American Dental Education Association.


7. Pharmacist

Pharmacist Giving Medicine To Customer Pharmacy

As with many other health care professions, pharmacists have the potential to earn six-figure salaries. But getting there often requires taking on six-figure debt. 

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, 2018 pharmacy graduates borrowed an average of $166,528 to get their degrees. 

Fortunately, assistance is available for pharmacists.

Anyone who works full-time for a public agency or nonprofit qualifies for PSLF, including pharmacists. Pharmacists also have access to some of the same programs as other health professionals. 

These include:

  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • VA LRPs
  • The IHS LRP
  • The NHSC programs, except for Students to Service

State-Based Programs

Many states have programs to repay a portion or all of a pharmacist’s student loans if they work in a shortage area for a certain period of time. 

Although there’s no database maintained specifically for pharmacists, a search of the database at the AAMC is a good place to start.


8. Physical Therapist

Physical Therapist Rehabilitation Physiotherapy

A career as a physical therapist requires a doctoral degree (a DPT). Physical therapists can earn, on average, $88,000 per year, yet the amount of money required to finance a doctorate degree often far exceeds this amount. 

According to a 2017 survey conducted by The American Physical Therapy Association, the average DPT graduate borrows $96,000 to finance their education.

Some of the same programs available to other health care professionals are also available to physical therapists. 

These include:

  • PSLF
  • VA LRPs
  • The IHS LRP
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP
  • The NIH LRP

Additionally, many hospitals and private health care facilities use loan forgiveness as a recruitment incentive for physical therapists. 

To find out where these are available, ask during your hiring interview or contact the American Physical Therapy Association.


9. Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Therapist, or Social Worker

Child Psychologist Emotion Emoticons

The vast majority (91%) of psychologists with doctor of psychology degrees (Psy.D.) graduate with student loan debt in excess of $200,000, and 77% of those with doctor of philosophy degrees (Ph.D.) borrow more than $75,000, according to a 2014 study by the American Psychological Association.

Debt-relief programs available to psychologists and other mental health workers include:

  • PSLF
  • The NIH LRP
  • The IHS LRP
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

The NHSC Programs, except Students to Service, are open to those with a variety of different psychology and social work degrees. And Health Professionals Loan Repayment is available for military clinical psychologists.

State-Based Programs

Many states offer repayment assistance to those who work in mental and behavioral health, as long as they’re willing to work in underserved areas. 

Although no database exists specifically for state-based mental health repayment programs, start with an online search to see if your state offers anything for graduates with your degree.


10. Veterinarian

Veterinarian Cat Stethoscope Doctor Vet Clinic

Getting a degree in veterinary medicine can cost nearly as much as one in human medicine. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 2016 veterinary medicine graduates borrowed an average of $143,758 to finance their education. 

But while the average vet salary comes close to six figures, they aren’t paid nearly as well as the average physician. Fortunately, there are a variety of LRPs and forgiveness programs for veterinarians.

Even though vets work on animals and not humans, they are still health professionals. Thus, a few of the same programs available to other health care workers are available to them. 

These include:

  • PSLF
  • Military scholarships and LRPs
  • The HRSA Faculty LRP

Additionally, there are a few vet-specific assistance programs.

USDA Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a repayment assistance program for veterinarians. 

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program pays up to $75,000 toward your student loans, dispersed in amounts of $25,000 per year over the course of your service. In exchange, you must work as a vet for three years in a region designated by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as a shortage area. 

One of the great benefits of this program is that, unlike many other LRPs, you can use this money toward private as well as federal student loan debt.

Not everyone with veterinary debt is accepted into this program. NIFA only grants awards to a limited number of applicants. Also, the primary focus of the program is on veterinary medicine for livestock raised for food.

State-Based Programs

Many states offer repayment assistance to veterinarians who are willing to work in underserved areas. 

Although no database exists specifically for state-based veterinary medicine repayment programs, it’s worth it to do an online search to see if your state offers anything for veterinary graduates.


11. Lawyer

African American Woman Lawyer In Front Of Supreme Court

As many law graduates are aware, no one ever expects law school to be cheap. In fact, according to 2021 statistics from Nitro College, law school debt, at an average of $140,616, rivals that of medical school. 

Worse, the average salary of an attorney is about half that of an M.D., which makes paying it off that much harder.

Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of student debt repayment assistance and forgiveness programs for lawyers, including PSLF for those who work in public law or for a nonprofit.

School-Based Programs

Dozens of law schools, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and NYU, offer loan repayment assistance programs. 

Programs generally require you to have full-time employment at a public service law firm and have an adjusted gross income of less than $60,000, although programs vary from school to school.

The amount of student debt law schools repay varies widely. 

For example, the University of Notre Dame Law School repays up to $15,000 annually for 10 years to lawyers working in public law who make less than $70,000. 

The University of Virginia covers 100% of student debt for lawyers who make less than $65,000 per year, and a portion of the debt for those who earn between $65,000 and $85,000. 

Although you need to speak with your school directly for the most up-to-date information, Equal Justice Works has a comprehensive booklet on repaying law school loans that includes a list of schools offering repayment assistance.

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program

As a participant in the federal employee LRP, every spring, the DOJ opens its Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program to attract top talent. 

As with other federal agency employees, in exchange for a three-year commitment, lawyers at the DOJ can receive up to $60,000 in repayment assistance, paid in $10,000 annual increments.

John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program provides repayment assistance to qualifying public defenders and prosecutors who agree to work in public law for a minimum of three years. 

Amounts vary depending on where you live. Assistance is payable in increments of up to $10,000 per year and cannot exceed a maximum of $60,000.

Applicants to this program must apply through their state and follow the procedures of their state-designated agency.

Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program

The Herbert S. Garten LRP repays law school loans up to $5,600 per year for three years. 

Attorneys must work at a qualifying organization for the full three years, and not everyone is selected. 

The agency uses a lottery system to choose 70 attorneys for the program each year.

Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps

For those interested in joining the JAG Corps, the Air Force pays up to $65,000 toward student loans. 

The payments are made directly to the lender over the course of a three-year period starting after the first year of enlistment. A JAG attorney must remain enlisted for four years to receive the full benefit.

If you remain with JAG after the initial four-year period, you also become eligible to receive up to $60,000 in cash bonuses, depending on the number of years of service. 

Although this money can be used any way you want, you could certainly apply it to any remaining student loan balance.

State-Based Programs

Many state and local repayment assistance programs are available for attorneys. To see if one exists in your area, do an Internet search. 

The American Bar Association maintains a list of state programs, but you must be a member to access this information.


12. Active-Duty Military

Military Mother Soldier With Daughter Hugging Balloons

Not only does the military offer repayment assistance for lawyers and health care professionals, but it also offers assistance to many other types of enlisted soldiers.

The College Loan Repayment Program

The College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is offered as an enlistment incentive for new military recruits. The program is for enlisted personnel only and is not available to officers. Additionally, not every military occupational specialty (MOS) is eligible. 

The list of eligible MOS’s changes quarterly, but all recruiting officers have it. Although there are basic similarities, each branch is authorized by Congress to administer the program as it sees fit to meet its recruitment goals. So there are differences among each branch.

Generally, the military annually repays one-third of eligible student loan debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater) in return for a three-year service commitment. Payments begin at the end of the first year of service. 

Congress has set the total maximum allowable amount of repayment to $65,000, minus taxes. But each branch of the military applies their own maximums. Below is specific information on what each offers.

  • Army. The Army College Loan Repayment Program repays the maximum. To qualify, you need a score of 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and must serve in an eligible MOS.
  • Army Reserves. The Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program pays up to $50,000 of a soldier’s student loans, paid annually as 15% of your outstanding debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater). To qualify, you need a score of 50 or higher on the ASVAB, must serve in an eligible MOS, and must enlist for a minimum of six years.
  • Army National Guard. The National Guard College Loan Repayment Program pays up to $50,000 of a servicemember’s student loans. To qualify, you need a score of 50 or higher on the ASVAB, must serve in an eligible MOS, and must enlist for a minimum of six years. In return, the National Guard will annually pay 15% of your outstanding student loan debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater) for each year of service.
  • Navy. The Navy College Loan Repayment Program pays the highest amount — up to $65,000 toward your student loan debt. One-third of your student loan debt or $1,500 (whichever is greater) is paid annually for each year of service. If your balance ever drops below one-third of your initial debt, the Navy will pay it off completely. To qualify, you must have a minimum score of 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) and enlist in an LRP-qualifying position.
  • Air Force. Unfortunately, the Air Force no longer has a CLRP for new enlistees. The only repayment benefit it currently offers is for JAG. However, they do offer tuition assistance for any enlisted member interested in furthering their education.

0% Interest Rate

In addition to the above repayment options, enlisting in the military comes with some other student loan-related benefits. For one, if you’re on active duty serving in an area of hostility and receive special pay, you can get 0% interest on your federal student loans for up to a maximum of 60 months. This interest rate can be applied retroactively.

You also can defer making payments on your federal student loans while on active duty. Some private lenders also offer this benefit.

Additionally, for qualifying federal loans, no interest will accrue during the deferment. While it’s not exactly repayment assistance, it will help you keep your costs down temporarily, hopefully making it easier to pay off your loan more quickly down the road.

Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

If you were permanently disabled while serving in the military, all of your student loans can be canceled through the Department of Education’s total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge program. 

To qualify, you’ll need to provide a letter from the VA stating either that you have a service-connected disability that’s 100% disabling or that you’re totally disabled based on an individual unemployability rating.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

And, of course, as government employees, all military service personnel qualify for PSLF.


13. Automotive Workers

Automotive Factory Worker Painting Car Assembly Line

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) offers loan repayment assistance through its SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program. 

Any employee of a member company can apply annually for an award of up to $5,000. Awards can be used to repay loans already acquired or as scholarships for further schooling.

To qualify, you must have earned a degree or certificate from a U.S. college, university, or technical school, graduated with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and you must complete an application demonstrating your passion for the automotive industry.


14. Volunteer

Peace Corps Website Magnifying Glass

While not exactly a career, volunteering opportunities can help with your student loans. In exchange for your service, certain volunteer organizations grant repayment assistance. In most cases, as long as you work full-time, your efforts count toward PSLF.

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)

Sponsored by AmeriCorps, VISTA is a program created to fight poverty in the United States by placing volunteers in nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and faith-based groups. 

Examples of VISTA projects include organizing shelter and job opportunities for victims of disasters and creating an adult literacy awareness campaign.

Programs include a living allowance, but the biggest perk of fulfilling a one-year term of service is the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. You can use this to pay educational costs at eligible post-secondary institutions or to repay qualified student loans. 

The amount of the award is equal to the maximum amount of the Pell Grant for the fiscal year in which your term of national service is approved. Thus, the amount of the award changes from year to year. It also varies by amount of service (whether you work full-time or part-time). 

For example, for the fiscal year Oct. 1, 2021 — Sept. 30, 2022, the award for one year of full-time service is $6,495.

The Peace Corps

If you prefer to travel abroad for your volunteer service, the Peace Corps is another great option. It sends Americans all over the world to help with people’s most pressing needs. 

Projects include everything from teaching digital literacy to boosting entrepreneurship. I have a friend who served her term in Jamaica teaching environmental sustainability.

In exchange for your service, volunteers can defer their federal student loans, have their service count toward PSLF, or receive partial cancellation of their Perkins Loans.

Additionally, at the end of the program, volunteers are given a $10,000 stipend to help them adjust to life back home. The money can be used however you want, including as payment toward your loans.

And while it’s not repayment assistance, through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, returning Peace Corps volunteers can receive tuition assistance toward graduate school studies.

Teach for America

The Teach for America program is designed to recruit and develop strong teachers who are passionate about educational equality and excellence. Teachers serve in inner-city or rural areas with economically disadvantaged populations. 

You don’t need to have a teaching degree; any undergraduate degree from an accredited college is sufficient. You also must have graduated with a minimum 2.5 GPA and be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient.

Teach for America participants receive a salary, typically between $33,000 and $58,000, and benefits. In addition, their work counts toward PSLF.


15. Other Careers

Stem Jobs Science Tech Engineering Math

Most states offer repayment assistance for a variety of careers. While the most common are for doctors, nurses, teachers, and lawyers, many states offer assistance for additional occupations. 

For example, the Alfond Leaders Program in Maine offers repayment assistance to those in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.

It’s worth checking out your state’s programs to see if there’s one that could apply to your situation. To find them, search for your state’s name plus your profession plus “student loan repayment assistance.”


Should You Choose a Job for the Forgiveness Benefit?

Despite the possibilities, you may want to think twice about taking on a certain profession only for the forgiveness benefits. Many of these programs come with tradeoffs. 

While you could potentially have thousands — or even tens of thousands — of dollars in student debt repaid on your behalf, you’ll likely have to work in a rural or disadvantaged area where your salary is significantly less than it would be elsewhere. You have to decide if the repayment benefit or the higher salary would net you more in the long run.

If you’re still in school, you should know that programs change all the time before you take on a lot of debt in anticipation of getting a program to help you pay it. For example, the Air Force used to have a CLRP, but it was discontinued in 2019. 

Additionally, if state or federal budgets are tight, funding for a program could easily end. For example, Maine’s Alfond’s Leaders Program is currently under review and may not continue.

Many of these programs have strict legal obligations, including contracts and a minimum employment term. They can also be difficult to qualify for due to strict eligibility requirements. Most apply only to federal loans and not private student loan debt. And some repayment assistance is tax-exempt, while other assistance is considered income and taxed accordingly.

Finally, some programs can be combined, while others are mutually exclusive. 

For example, if you participate in the military CLRP program, your years of service while your loans are being repaid don’t count toward the G.I. Bill, which pays for a certain amount of continuing education depending on your length of service.

However, if you’re already working in one of these professions and have graduated with a significant amount of student debt, it can definitely be worth your time to at least research if any of these programs can benefit your situation — especially if you’re already working in an underserved area.


Final Word

Depending on your situation, student loan forgiveness or repayment assistance may or may not be for you. But, if it is, giving just two or three years of your professional life to a program you qualify for can make a life-changing difference in your student debt burden.

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Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

18 Student Loan Mistakes to Avoid

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Most students have to borrow student loans to go to college. But very few know anything about them. That’s pretty scary considering you’re likely to take on several tens of thousands of dollars in debt. And making mistakes with that much money could cost you just as much. 

Take it from me. I borrowed six figures to get a doctorate to work in a notoriously low-paying field. And thanks to taking advantage of years of deferments, forbearances, and an income-based plan designed to help borrowers with high debt and low income, I now owe twice what I originally borrowed. 

Don’t make my mistakes. Instead, learn about the most common student loan borrowing and repayment errors. That way, you can avoid an overwhelming amount of student loans and get out of debt faster.

Student Loan Mistakes to Avoid

Most student loan borrowing and repayment mistakes deal with misunderstanding what you’re borrowing, how interest works, how to pay off debt quickly, and how to avoid default. Steer clear of these top mistakes to ensure you borrow smartly and don’t end up in over your head. 

Mistake 1: Applying for Aid at the Last Minute

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the gateway to qualifying for all financial aid of any kind. That includes federal grants and student loans as well as state grants and most institutional aid — the grants, scholarships, or loans offered by your school. 

The FAFSA opens for applications every Oct. 1, and you must complete it by June 30 before the academic year you need aid for. You must complete a new FAFSA every year you plan to enroll in school.

Many colleges and universities also require additional forms, such as the CSS profile (short for the College Scholarship Service profile), which dives even deeper into your family’s financial situation. So check with the financial aid office to find out what they are, and stay on top of deadlines. 

But note that states and colleges have limited grant resources. And those resources tend to go to the students who apply early. In other words, they’re first come, first served. So the earlier you get your applications in, the better.

And while the federal government is unlikely to run out of education loan funds, if you miss the FAFSA deadline, you’ll have to resort to private loans, which are costlier and feature less favorable repayment options.

Apply as early as possible to ensure you get as much grant and scholarship aid as you can qualify for. The more grants you can get, the fewer loans you’ll need to borrow.

Mistake 2: Borrowing Too Much

It’s possible to borrow every cent you need to finance your education anywhere you want to go to school. But it’s crucial to ask whether you should. Getting in over your head with student loan debt can have catastrophic consequences. I’m living proof.

I needed a doctorate for my original career plan of teaching college. But few college professors earn enough income to manage the types of monthly payments I had along with other living expenses. That’s how I ended up in the deferment-forbearance cycle.

And it’s not easy to get out of. 

Thanks to a loophole in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program I was counting on and how colleges operate, my teaching position doesn’t qualify me for forgiveness. Additionally, discharging student loans in bankruptcy is currently so difficult it’s nearly impossible. And settling federal student loans isn’t any easier. 

The first step to reducing overwhelming student loan debt is to exhaust every other means of paying for college, including scholarships, grants, and work-study. Search online for scholarship aid using a national scholarship database like Fastweb.

And never count on options like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Historically, the government’s made it nearly impossible to get. Do your homework to increase your chances of getting it and apply for it if you qualify. But don’t base your student loan repayment strategy on it.

Additionally, consider less expensive colleges. State schools tend to give most students the best value. It only matters where you go to college for a select few graduates, such as those looking to build connections with specific financial or law firms. 

Finally, do a cost-benefit analysis. I found out the hard way all degrees don’t pay off, so as much as you want to pursue your passion, it might not be worth it financially.

Search sites like Glassdoor or PayScale to find out how much you can reasonably expect to make in your chosen field and compare that to the cost of school. As a rule, don’t borrow more than you can expect to earn as your annual salary your first year out of school. That ensures you can pay it off in 10 years or less. 

Mistake 3: Not Understanding How Loan Forgiveness Works

Historically, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has been notoriously difficult to qualify for. The program was overhauled in the fall of 2021. But until then, only 2% of applicants who believed they qualified had their loans forgiven.

Much of that is likely due to bureaucratic mismanagement, hence the overhaul. However, the mismanagement led tens of thousands of borrowers into making payments under the wrong repayment programs. 

On Oct. 6, 2021, the government announced Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which allows previously nonqualifying payments to be counted toward loan forgiveness as long as those payments are certified before Oct. 31, 2022.

But moving forward, it’s crucial that borrowers are clear about the rules of loan forgiveness. You don’t want to find out after 10 years that your application is ineligible and you have to start all over.

To qualify for loan forgiveness, you must:

  • Have Federal Direct Loans. Private loans don’t qualify for forgiveness, nor do other types of federal loans, such as Perkins loans. If your federal loans aren’t direct loans, you can consolidate them into a direct loan to qualify. 
  • Work Full-Time for the Government or a Nonprofit. Payments only qualify while you’re employed full-time for an American federal, state, local, or tribal government or qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. That includes military service, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps but excludes labor unions and partisan political organizations.
  • Enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment Program. No other repayment options qualify. But even if your income is so low your calculated payment under the plan is $0, being enrolled qualifies you. 
  • Make 120 Qualifying Payments. They don’t have to be consecutive, but they must qualify, meaning you have to make them under an income-based plan.
  • Submit the Forgiveness Certification Form Regularly. You must fill out and submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program certification form yearly and each time you switch employers. While not required, doing so ensures the payments you’re making qualify for forgiveness and allows you to make any changes you need to before you’ve made too many nonqualifying payments.

See all the rules at StudentAid.gov. 

Mistake 4: Taking Out the Wrong Type of Loan

There’s more than one type of student loan. But it’s generally best to exhaust your resources for federal aid before turning to alternatives. 

That said, while rare, some students may find the caps on how much you can borrow in federal direct loans don’t cover the total cost of attendance. 

Fortunately, graduate students and parents of undergrads can borrow PLUS loans up to the total cost of attendance. So there’s no need for many students to resort to other sources. If that’s not an option for you, students can sometimes borrow from their state government or the school they plan to attend. 

But the primary source of alternative loans for student borrowers is private student loans from banks or credit unions.

Federal student loans almost always win out over private student loans because of their lower fixed interest rates, flexible repayment options, borrower protections, and the potential for forgiveness.

But if you’re planning to borrow PLUS loans and definitely won’t qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, it’s worth it to find out whether you could get a better deal on a private loan if you have excellent credit. 

Mistake 5: Not Shopping Around for the Best Interest Rate & Terms

If you decide to borrow private student loans, always shop around for the best loan you can qualify for.

Private lenders compete for your business. So going with the first lender you find could mean leaving a better rate on the table.

Use a comparison site like Credible, which matches you with prequalified rates from up to eight lenders with only a soft inquiry on your credit report, which doesn’t affect your credit score. That way, you can compare all your student loan options in one place. 

But it’s not only interest rates that should matter to your bottom line. The best private student loan companies offer various borrower perks in addition to low rates.   

For example, most lenders reduce your interest rate when you enroll in autopay. And some reduce your rate even further with loyalty discounts for doing other business with them, such as opening bank accounts or taking out personal loans. 

Some lenders also offer perks for specific borrowers, such as special payment plans for medical and dental students during their residencies. And some even offer unique perks like free financial coaching or career planning services.  

Just remember to read all the fine print so you know exactly what loan terms you’re agreeing to before you sign. For example, it may lack options for deferment if you fall on hard times or a co-signer release option. Don’t be lured by a shiny interest rate on its own.  

Mistake 6: Not Understanding How Variable & Fixed Interest Rates Work

The rate is only one piece of the interest puzzle. How that rate works also affects how much accrues over time. 

For example, all federal student loans come with fixed interest rates set each year by law. That means the rate stays the same for the life of the loan, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on the interest rate during the year you borrowed. 

But some private student loans have variable interest rates. These fluctuate with market conditions. Although the variable rates are generally the lowest offered rates, it’s because the borrower is assuming the risk that the rate won’t go up, which is likely if you take 10 or more years to repay your student loans.

If you already have a variable-rate private loan, look into refinancing to a fixed-rate loan while rates are low. 

And once you start making payments, contact the student loan company to find out if there are any ways to lower the interest rate, like signing up for an autopay discount.

Mistake 7: Not Understanding Interest Accrual & Capitalization

Another factor to consider is when the interest begins to accrue (accumulate). On subsidized federal loans, that doesn’t happen until after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Thus, whatever you borrowed is what you owe up until the day you’re no longer enrolled full time. 

But interest on unsubsidized federal and private loans starts the moment you get the money. So on graduation day, you owe a higher balance than you originally borrowed.

Worse, that interest is capitalized (added to the principal balance as though it were part of what you borrowed) once you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Since interest accrues according to the principal, that means you’ll then be earning interest on the interest.

Fortunately, you can reduce or even eliminate the burden interest can cause. Make small monthly interest payments while you’re still in school. That ensures none accrues and capitalizes on graduation. 

If you have to, take on a part-time job. As long as you keep it to part-time hours, it shouldn’t interfere with your studies, and a well-chosen college job comes with numerous benefits, like teaching you the money management skills you need to pay off those loans after college. 

Mistake 8: Co-Signing a Loan Without Understanding the Consequences

In some cases, a co-signer can help a student qualify for a loan or get a lower interest rate. 

But co-signing their loan comes with a great deal of risk. You’re taking on equal responsibility for the loan. That means if they make a late payment or miss one entirely, it could impact your credit score. And if they default on the loan, the loan company will come after you for the balance.

And it doesn’t matter how responsible or well-intentioned the borrower is. No one can predict the future, and they could fall on hard times. 

There are several programs designed to help people who have trouble paying back federal loans — if they enroll in them. But private lenders are especially hard to work with. Either way, there are risks associated with co-signing for a student loan. 

If you do agree to co-sign, ask them to look for a company with a co-signer release option, which absolves you of responsibility for the debt after the student makes a certain number of on-time monthly payments.

If not getting help means they can’t attend college, a parent PLUS loan gives you more control than co-signing a private loan. You can borrow up to the total cost of their attendance, but the loan will be in your name. 

If you want, you can still agree that they’re responsible for paying you back (though that agreement isn’t legally enforceable). Plus, if you experience financial hardship, you have access to federal repayment plans and borrower protections.

However, don’t sacrifice retirement savings or go into debt paying for your kids’ college. It could leave you unprepared, potentially placing a financial burden on them later.

Mistake 9: Putting Off Making a Repayment Plan

Many borrowers get lulled into thinking they can wait until after they graduate and their six-month grace period ends before they have to start worrying about their student loans. But you need to prepare your budget long before then.

A student loan payment could easily be $400 per month (maybe more). That’s a hefty chunk of anyone’s take-home pay. But recent grads won’t make as much as established professionals in any field. 

And if you don’t think about it for the first six months post-graduation, it’s easy to establish a post-college life that doesn’t leave room for it, such as upgrading your apartment or buying a new car.

Before you graduate, find out what your monthly payment will be. You can check your student loan balance by creating a student account at StudentAid.gov.

Then, build the rest of your post-college budget around your monthly student loan payment. That ensures you won’t take on more financial obligations than you can afford. Unfortunately, that may mean living that ramen-eating college lifestyle for the first couple of years after you graduate. 

Mistake 10: Choosing the Wrong Repayment Plan

The automatic student loan repayment schedule is 10 years of fixed payments, but it’s not the best option for all borrowers.

You don’t want to string out payments for decades unless it’s necessary. But income-driven repayment plans, which forgive any remaining balance after you make 240 to 300 (20 to 25 years) of qualifying payments, may be a saving grace for borrowers with high debt and low income. 

And for those entering public service fields, an income-driven repayment plan is the gateway to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives any remaining balance in as few as 120 qualifying payments. 

But even if you stick to the standard 10-year plan, you still have options. 

For example, you can repay your loans on a graduated plan, which lets you make smaller payments at the beginning. Your payments then gradually rise every two years. This plan is ideal for those who must start in a lower-paying job but expect their income to increase substantially as they gain work experience.

Use the loan simulator at StudentAid.gov to see how much you can expect to repay under different repayment plans. It shows your monthly payments, total amount owed, and any potential balance you could have forgiven under an income-driven repayment plan as well as the date you can expect to have your loans paid off.

Use this information to weigh your options. Ask yourself: 

  • Is it better to pay off your loans as quickly as possible by sticking to the standard 10-year plan? Is that realistic at your current income? 
  • How big will your payments be 10 years down the line if you opt for graduated repayment? Are you likely to make enough money for that to be practical? 
  • Is it better to make your current situation more manageable through an income-driven or extended repayment plan? 

Lowering your monthly payment will have consequences since it means more interest will accrue. But the loan simulator can give you an accurate picture of what those consequences will look like. 

Mistake 11: Only Making the Minimum Payment

The longer you sit on debt, the more it costs you thanks to the interest. So if you have any wiggle room in your budget, put whatever money you can toward your student loans to pay them off as quickly as possible. 

Even small amounts can make a big difference.

For example, if you borrowed $40,000 in student loans at 6% interest, your monthly payment would be $444. But if you paid $500 a month instead — a difference of only $56 — you’d save $1,957 in interest and have them repaid a year sooner.

If you can, opt for a side gig or cut your expenses. Additionally, put any windfalls — like tax refunds, gifts, or inheritances — toward your loans.  

But this is key: When you make any extra payments toward your loans, ensure you indicate the company should apply it to the principal. The more you pay down the principal, the less interest accumulates.

Mistake 12: Refinancing Without Considering the Pros & Cons

Refinancing is a common strategy for lowering the cost of debt, whether it’s a mortgage refinance or a student loan. But while refinancing can score you a lower interest rate, interest rates aren’t the only consideration.

When you refinance a student loan, you can only do so through a private refinance lender. That means you lose access to all the benefits of federal student loans, including federal repayment plans, borrower protections, generous deferment and forbearance options, and federal loan forgiveness. 

It may still be worth it to you, depending on the rate you can get. But it’s crucial to weigh that against all you’d be giving up.

Even if the private interest rate is lower, the future is unpredictable, and you never know if you could need those federal benefits. And you’ll lose all access to federal loan forgiveness with a refinance.

On the other hand, if you have private student loans, there’s no reason not to refinance. 

Mistake 13: Postponing Payments Unnecessarily

Both federal and private student loans have multiple options for deferment and forbearance. These allow you to temporarily suspend payments for various reasons, including full-time enrollment in school, economic hardship, military deployment, and serving in AmeriCorps. 

Sometimes, deferment or forbearance makes sense, such as while you’re enrolled in school. But prolonged use of these options just increases your overall balance because interest keeps piling up. 

Interest accrues on all but subsidized federal loans during deferments. And it accrues on all loans during forbearance. Additionally, that interest is capitalized (added to the principal balance) at the end of the deferment or forbearance. 

Only use these options when absolutely necessary. And if possible, make interest payments during periods of deferment or forbearance to prevent its accrual. 

If you’re deferring or forbearing for economic hardship and anticipate the hardship will last longer than a month or two, apply for an income-driven plan instead. 

Depending on the severity of your situation, your monthly payments could be calculated as low as $0. And some plans don’t capitalize interest and even have interest subsidies, which means the government covers the interest on your loans for a specified period.  

Additionally, those $0 “payments” count toward potential student loan forgiveness. But only periods of economic hardship deferment count toward the forgiveness clock. No other form of deferment or forbearance qualifies. And there’s a cap on how long you can defer for economic hardship.

Plus, if your financial situation changes, you can always change your repayment plan. 

Mistake 14: Missing Payments

Missing payments can result in late fees. The student loan company tacks these onto your next month’s minimum payment. So if you had a hard time paying this month, it won’t be easier next month. 

Plus, when you make your next payment, your money covers fees and interest before going toward the principal. So multiple fees could mean paying your principal down slower. And interest accrues according to the principal balance, so the higher you keep that balance, the more interest you pay.

Worse, if you miss enough payments, it can result in a default of your loans, which comes with severe consequences, such as damaged credit or wage garnishment or seizure of your tax refunds, Social Security benefits, or property. 

There’s never a reason to miss a payment on a federal student loan if you’re facing financial hardship. Simply call the company and let them know. Depending on what you qualify for, you can choose from multiple options, including deferment, forbearance, or an income-driven repayment plan.

Private lenders are tougher to work with, as fewer repayment options are available. But many are still willing to work with you if you explain the situation. Most of the top lenders have limited programs for deferment or forbearance in times of economic hardship. 

Mistake 15: Keeping Your Assigned Payment Due Date

Student loan companies allow you to adjust your monthly due date. That can be helpful if you’re having trouble stretching your dollars from one paycheck to the next.

Plus, if your bills are anything like mine, most of them are due at the same time of month. Thus, if you get paid biweekly, adjusting your due date to a different time of the month can make things easier.  

If you want a different due date, contact the company handling your student loans and ask if you can adjust your due date to one more beneficial for you. You may even be able to change it through your online account.

Ensure you get confirmation of the new date in writing. That protects you if you get hit with any late fees in error. Additionally, ask when the new date takes effect. It could take a billing cycle or two, depending on the lender. 

Mistake 16: Falling for Student Loan Scams

Many borrowers have reported receiving phone calls, emails, letters, and texts offering them relief from their student loans or warning them federal forgiveness programs will end soon if they don’t act now.

But the services these scam debt relief companies offer usually steal borrowers’ money or private information rather than grant any actual relief. 

Other student loan scams take fees for helping students apply for income-driven repayment plans or consolidate their loans. However, borrowers never have to pay to sign up for any federal repayment programs. They only need to contact the company in charge of their loan.

In general, if someone contacts you, avoid giving them any personal information. No matter who they claim to be, either tell them to send their request in writing or say you’ll call them back. Then verify their story by contacting your student loan company at their listed phone number or through their website.

Additionally, never pay an upfront fee for student loan services. The government doesn’t charge application fees for any of their loan programs. They also won’t claim an offer is only available for a limited time since all the terms are set by law every year and are available to all students.

For more red flags to watch for, check out the Department of Education’s tips on avoiding student loan scams. 

Mistake 17: Forgetting to Update Your Contact Information

You are responsible for making all your loan payments whether you received the bill or not. Additionally, the lender in charge of your loan can change, and you need to ensure you’re able to receive that information so you always know who to contact about paying and managing your loans.

Thus, it’s on borrowers to ensure the company in charge of their student loans has all their current contact information, including mailing address, email address, and phone number. That’s especially the case if you moved after you graduated or listed a parent’s address on your application forms.

Log into your student loan account to ensure your contact information is current. 

If you don’t know who services your student loans, check with your school’s financial aid office. For federal loans, you can always create an account on StudentAid.gov.

Then, each time you move, get a new email address or change your number, update that info with the company handling your student loans.

Mistake 18: Not Asking for Help

Paying off student loans can be overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with low income or a large amount of debt. Depending on your circumstance, it could feel like you’re drowning and may never escape.

Trust me, I know how it feels. And I’m hardly alone. A simple online search reveals dozens of stories of borrowers who’ve consistently paid on their loans yet owe more than ever thanks to the compounding effects of interest, which often feels like quicksand. 

But paying late or not at all only makes the situation worse. Damage to your credit report can make it difficult for you to rent an apartment, buy a car, or even get a job. And default can leave you subject to wage garnishment, steep collection penalties, and even lawsuits.  

But hope isn’t lost. There is help. Resources exist for borrowers who need an extra hand.

The first step is to reach out to the student loan company. See if there’s a payment plan that’s manageable for you. Even if there isn’t, let them know what payment you can afford, and go from there. 

If the company is uncooperative, contact the federal student loan ombudsman. 

Borrowers can also reach out to nonprofit student loan counselors, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or The Institute of Student Loan Advisors. These organizations work with borrowers to help them figure out the best strategies for dealing with their loans and overall financial health. 

Alternatively, if you’ve reached the point of needing to settle your student loans or file for bankruptcy, seek an attorney who specializes in student loans. For private student loan help, try The National Association of Consumer Advocates. For federal student loans, search the American Bar Association.


Final Word

The United States is currently experiencing a student loan crisis because of how the debt has impacted American lives.

It’s affected borrowers’ ability to save for retirement and buy a home. It’s also impacted people’s ability to start a family or even choose a job for passion over a paycheck.

And it can do so for decades. Many millennials who’ve entered middle age continue to face debt repayment. And many feel college wasn’t worth it as a result.

But you don’t have to be one of these statistics. I write about student loans precisely to help others avoid my mistakes. Learn from this list so you can borrow wisely and avoid overwhelming student loan debt.  

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Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Public Defender or Private Attorney: Which Should You Use?

“Mr. Beaver, should we hire a private attorney or insist that our son, ‘Tom,’ just ask for a public defender for his possession of a controlled substance charge? He was arrested with several other young men in a car that had illegal drugs in the passenger compartment. 

“We own an automotive and commercial truck parts delivery service.  Tom is 25, works as one of our drivers, and it is my hope that he will take over the business.

“My wife says that he needs to deal with this on his own, and as he can’t afford a private attorney, to ask for a public defender, but he yelled, ‘Public defenders are second-rate lawyers!’

“We succeeded in enabling him to have an entitled attitude, and this scares us. I know that you began your law career as a deputy district attorney, so, what’s your recommendation? Does it really make a difference if he uses a PD? Thanks, Terry.”

Bite the Bullet! The Consequences of a Drug Charge are Real

I ran this often-asked question by Denver-based criminal defense attorney Peter Lloyd Weber. His law practice concentrates on drug transportation and distribution.

“Where a family is facing the dilemma between teaching their kid a lesson and saving money — or biting the bullet and hiring a private attorney — there is really no choice as the collateral consequences of a drug conviction are so great,” he says.

“It can result in his being unable to obtain certain kinds of employment, licenses, may impact his credit rating, make it impossible to join the military, dramatically increase auto and homeowners insurance rates — in short, nothing good comes from a drug conviction.

“Especially where Tom’s parents expect him to take over their delivery business, a drug record is the last thing in the world they should risk.”

A Parade of Defendants Pleading Guilty

I recall as a deputy D.A. the parade of defendants represented by the Public Defender’s office or appointed counsel who, in my opinion based on what I saw, were induced to take plea deals on potentially defensible cases. And it wasn’t because these lawyers were lazy or incompetent.

Rather, it had to do with the economics of time. In fact, many articles have been written — –going back years — sympathetic to what faces these dedicated attorneys who want to help their clients. 

But when you are given a huge caseload and lack adequate time and resources, justice suffers.

Weber agrees.

“This does not mean that public defenders are bad lawyers, far from it,” he says, “But you’ve got to look at the reality of having a PD or appointed counsel as your defense attorney. It often comes down to getting what you pay for.

“Public defenders are government employees and generally, across the country, are significantly underpaid. In fact, some are so badly paid they would qualify for a PD!

“So, it is a perfect storm of the millions of people who can’t afford to hire an attorney for their criminal defense, given a PDs or equally low-paid appointed counsel — all of them juggling massive caseloads.

“Often these lawyers meet with their clients a few minutes before entering a plea. The results are negotiated pleas in almost all of their cases, due primarily to their huge caseload.

“It is common for PDs to plead their clients to years in jail with little more than a brief conversation beforehand. They simply do not have the time, energy and attention necessary to formulate a legal defense that could have prevented or minimized the impact of a conviction,” He maintains.

Advantages of Privately Retained Counsel

There are many advantages in hiring your own lawyer, and a main one is that clients can expect adequate time to be devoted to the case in addition to support staff, including private investigators — typically retired from law enforcement — and technical experts who are able to challenge evidence against their client.  These all cost money, but as Weber observes, “They level the playing field.”

On the nightly news, we see body cam police video. He asks, “Do you think that public defenders or appointed counsel have the time to watch what could be hours of video? Often they do not. A privately retained lawyer will take the time to examine all avenues that help the client.”

Flat Rate or Hourly?

“Stories of defense attorneys being paid thousands of dollars upfront and then just walking their client through a guilty plea are common and are so unfair,” he underscores.

“Don’t let fear interfere with your common sense about the cost of hiring a lawyer. We can only charge reasonable rates, and with that in mind, I recommend that clients strongly consider paying by the hour — on a time-based approach — instead of one large flat fee.”

And what does he like most about his job?

“What I do is more than a job; it is a calling. People phone me every day asking for help. I never charge for phone consultations. When someone contacts a criminal defense attorney, this could be one of the worst times in their lives, and they should be able to talk with a lawyer without worrying if they can pay for that time on the phone.”         

Dennis Beaver Practices law in Bakersfield, Calif., and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which may be faxed to  (661) 323-7993 or e-mailed to [email protected] And be sure to visit www.dennisbeaver.com.

Attorney at Law, Author of “You and the Law”

After attending Loyola University School of Law, H. Dennis Beaver joined California’s Kern County District Attorney’s Office, where he established a Consumer Fraud section. He is in the general practice of law and writes a syndicated newspaper column, “You and the Law.” Through his column he offers readers in need of down-to-earth advice his help free of charge. “I know it sounds corny, but I just love to be able to use my education and experience to help, simply to help. When a reader contacts me, it is a gift.” 

Source: kiplinger.com

Is a Warehouse Store (Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s) Membership Worth It? – Costs, Pros & Cons

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Additional Resources

Smart-shopping blogs and magazines teem with stories about the great deals you can get at warehouse stores. Shopping experts say joining a warehouse club can save you money on nearly everything — groceries, tires, even vacations. 

But there’s one obvious snag. Before you can fill up your cart with these bargains, you have to pay an annual fee of around $50 just to get in the door. How can you tell if your annual savings will be enough to offset this membership fee? 

To answer that question, you need to delve into the murky depths of warehouse store shopping. That means getting the details on how warehouse clubs work, what they cost, and how good the prices are on the items you buy most.

How Warehouse Stores Work

Warehouse stores use a different pricing model from other retail stores. Regular retailers, such as Walmart, make their money from the markup they charge. That’s the difference between the wholesale price they pay to their suppliers and the retail price they charge to customers.

According to Entrepreneur, the markup at a typical retail store is around 50%. In other words, the price you pay is twice what the store paid.

By contrast, warehouse stores charge a much lower markup. For instance, Costco’s markup is only 14% to 15%, according to Forbes. They make up for the lost profits by charging a fixed yearly fee to each customer. 

That’s why these stores sometimes refer to themselves as buying clubs. You pay upfront to become a member, and in return, you get to buy products at rock-bottom prices. In addition, you gain access to various other special deals on everything from health care to travel.

Top Warehouse Store Chains

There are three major warehouse chains in the United States. The biggest is Sam’s Club. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, started this store in 1983 as a supplier for small businesses.

Today, Sam’s Club is a nationwide chain with nearly 600 stores in the U.S. and millions of members. Its products range from groceries and office supplies to big-ticket items like jewelry and furniture.

The closest competitor to Sam’s Club is Costco. This chain started in Seattle in 1983. Ten years later, it merged with another club store called Price Club, which had been catering to business owners since 1976. 

Today, Costco boasts over 100 million members and has hundreds of stores stretching across the United States and beyond. The chain sets itself apart from other warehouse stores with its focus on high-end goods, such as organic food and designer jeans.

The third major chain is BJ’s Wholesale Club. BJ’s is a smaller chain than its competitors, with 200-plus stores in the eastern U.S., Michigan, and Ohio. But like Sam’s Club and Costco, it offers a wide range of goods and services, from groceries to vacation packages.

Warehouse Stores Work

People who love warehouse stores really love them. Forbes reports that Costco members are extremely loyal, with more than 9 out of 10 choosing to renew their membership each year.

And they have many good reasons to feel this way. Warehouse stores offer a plethora of benefits, including the following:

1. Low Prices — At Least on Certain Items

The main reason shoppers love warehouse stores is their low prices. Independent studies have found that warehouse clubs really do offer great bargains in certain areas, such as:

  • Groceries. In 2018, Consumers’ Checkbook went grocery shopping at warehouse clubs and supermarkets. It found that prices at both Sam’s Club and Costco beat major supermarket chains by 17% to 41%. (However, BJ’s prices failed to beat Walmart’s.)
  • Gasoline. A 2020 analysis by CSP compared prices across gas stations around the country. Costco was the winner, beating the national average price by nearly $0.25 per gallon.
  • Prescription Drugs. In 2018, Consumer Reports checked retail prices on five drugs at over 150 U.S. pharmacies. The complete set cost over $900 at CVS, but only $153 at Sam’s Club and $105 at Costco. And some generic drugs at Sam’s Club are only $4.
  • Car Tires. In a 2021 analysis by Clark Howard, Sam’s Club was second only to Walmart for the lowest average price on car tires. All three warehouse clubs were in the top six.
  • Booze. According to Spoon University, Costco offers the lowest unit prices on all types of alcohol. For those willing to buy in bulk, the club charges significantly less for Skyy vodka and Blue Moon beer than other retailers.
  • Pet Food. In a 2019 analysis of name-brand pet food prices by Consumers’ Checkbook, Sam’s Club and BJ’s topped the list for lowest average prices. (Costco, which mainly sells its own Kirkland Signature brand, was not covered.)

2. Access to Services

When you join a warehouse club, you don’t just get access to its products. These stores also offer a variety of services exclusively for members.

For instance, a Costco membership gives you access to Costco’s car-buying service. It provides haggle-free low prices on new and used cars and RVs from approved dealers. It also gives you 15% off car parts and services from participating providers.

Costco members can also save on vacations with Costco Travel. It provides special deals on airfare, hotels, auto rentals, cruises, and travel packages. The store also offers photo printing, banking services, insurance, home renovation, eye care, and bottled water delivery.

Other warehouse clubs offer a similar menu of services. Sam’s Club doesn’t provide banking or insurance services, but it gives members discounts on concert and theater tickets, theme parks, and attractions. 

Sam’s Club also offers discounts on various subscription services. Members can get lower prices on music streaming, video streaming, educational apps for kids, and fitness apps.

Likewise, BJ’s offers travel, vision care, home improvement, and photo services for members. One special perk it provides is free technical support for all its electronics.

3. High-Quality Store Brands

Shoppers are impressed with the quality of warehouse stores’ house brands — especially at Costco. In a 2019 Consumer Reports survey, Costco was one of only three out of 96 grocery chains to earn top marks for the quality of its store brands. 

The magazine’s editors get more specific in a 2017 article. They call several Kirkland products  as good as or better than name-brand competitors. These include laundry and dishwasher detergent, batteries, toilet paper, bacon, mayonnaise, and organic chicken stock. 

Another product that gets high marks from reviewers is Kirkland Signature dog food. According to DogFood.Guide, this brand has “surprisingly high quality” for a store brand. It’s made by Diamond Pet Foods, a leading manufacturer of high-end foods like Taste of the Wild.

Both Kirkland and Member’s Mark, the house brand from Sam’s Club, get good reviews for some wines and liquors. The Beverage Tasting Institute gives ratings of at least 90 points out of 100 to several Kirkland wines and to Member’s Mark tequila, vodka, and gin.

4. One-Stop Shopping

Warehouse stores allow you to condense many errands into one. You can pick up your glasses, shop for shoes, get new tires, book a vacation, and buy groceries all in one trip.

5. Free Samples

On weekends, shoppers at warehouse stores can stroll through the aisles noshing on samples of assorted food items. Naturally, the stores hope that trying the products will inspire you to buy them, but there’s no obligation. You’re perfectly free to chow down and walk away.

6. A Pleasant Shopping Experience

On the whole, warehouse club members are satisfied shoppers. In a survey by Consumer Reports, Costco shoppers reported being more satisfied with their experience than shoppers at nine other major retail chains. 

A 2021 report by the American Customer Service Index found similar results. Costco topped a list of 20 retailers, with 81% customer satisfaction. Sam’s Club and BJ’s came in a bit lower down the rankings, with a respectable 79% and 77% respectively.

7. Good Returns Policies

One likely reason why warehouse store shoppers are so satisfied is that if they’re ever unhappy with a purchase, it’s easy to return. Both Costco and Sam’s Club offer an absolute 100% money-back guarantee on virtually everything they sell.

If you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can return it with your receipt at any time. One exception is electronic items, which can’t be returned after 90 days. BJ’s policy is a bit more restrictive, allowing returns only up to one year.

Costco Warehouse Good Returns Policies

Although warehouse stores have undeniable benefits, they have their drawbacks too. Here are a few good reasons not to do your shopping at a warehouse store:

1. Membership Fees

The most obvious downside of warehouse club membership is the membership cost. The standard annual membership fee for a household or a business is $45 per year at Sam’s Club, $55 per year at BJ’s, and $60 per year at Costco. 

In addition, all three of the major warehouse chains offer higher-tier memberships. They’re called Executive Membership at Costco, Plus at Sam’s Club, and Perks Rewards at BJ’s.

These tiers cost roughly twice as much as a regular club membership. In exchange, they give you 2% back on nearly everything in the store. That means you have to spend between $2,750 and $3,000 per year before the higher-level membership will pay for itself.

2. Oversized Packages and Quantities

Warehouse stores are known for their jumbo-size packages. Buying in bulk to save money makes perfect sense with nonperishable goods, such as soap or paper towels. You can safely stock up on these bulk items as long as you have the space to store them. 

However, bulk buying can be a problem with products that don’t keep well. A five-pound bag of shredded cheese is no bargain unless you can (and actually want to) eat that much cheese before it goes bad.

3. Limited Selection

Warehouse clubs are good for grocery shopping, but you can’t always buy everything on your shopping list there. In the 2018 Consumers’ Checkbook study, the three warehouse stores only carried about half the items in a standard basket of groceries.

BJ’s was the best of the lot, with about 57% of the items available. Sam’s Club had 52% of them, and Costco had only 44%. Moreover, most of the items at all three stores were only available in bulk containers, not standard sizes.

4. Impulse Buys

Warehouse stores are huge and crammed with an incredible variety of goods. Even if all you need is cereal, milk, and toothpaste, you’ll probably have to walk past jewelry, clothes, and toys to get to those three staples. 

This makes it very easy to fall victim to the temptation of impulse buys. You could easily go in with your three-item shopping list and walk out with a whole cart full of unplanned purchases. Worse, some of these could be big-ticket items like a TV set.

5. Restrictions on Coupons

If you’re in the habit of using coupons to save money on groceries, the warehouse store isn’t the place to do it. Neither Costco nor Sam’s Club accepts manufacturer’s coupons at all. BJ’s takes them, but it only accepts select coupons in digital form.

5. Deals That Aren’t So Great

With such a vast assortment of goods gathered together in one store, warehouse stores seem ideal for one-stop shopping. However, if you buy everything on your list there, you’ll probably spend more than you need to.

My local Costco has great prices on a few staple foods, such as nuts. But its fresh foods, such as produce and eggs, are nearly always more expensive than the ones at nearby supermarkets.

Even paper goods like paper towels and toilet paper aren’t such great deals. Two dozen rolls of toilet paper at Costco cost more per roll than one dozen of the store brand from Trader Joe’s.

Warehouse stores also tempt buyers with big-ticket items like appliances, furniture, and electronics. But these products are almost never bargains. 

For instance, the current Costco savings brochure advertises LED TV sets for $700 to $3,000. But the top-rated LED TV in the same size range at Best Buy costs just $600. And a laptop Costco advertises for $700 is similar to one Lenovo sells for $565.

Deals That Arent Great

Deciding Whether It’s Worth It

The best way to figure out whether a warehouse club membership is worth it for you is to check it out in person. Scout up and down the aisles, check prices on the items you buy regularly, and  compare them to the prices at your local supermarket.

There’s just one problem with this plan. Most warehouse stores won’t even let you in the door to check prices without a membership card. One way to get around this problem is to ask a friend who’s a member to let you tag along on their next trip. 

Also, nonmembers are allowed to shop at Costco with a store gift card. However, only Costco members can buy these cards. To get around that rule, ask a friend to buy one for you or buy one secondhand through a gift card exchange site.

Two Real-Life Examples

Back in 2006, my husband and I took advantage of a free day pass to check out the prices at our local BJ’s Wholesale Club. We found that for most items we buy, BJ’s didn’t have lower prices than other stores. 

For instance, the $18 DVDs and $700 laptops in the electronics section couldn’t beat online deals. A 12-pound bag of baking soda cost more per pound than a supermarket store brand. And 24-roll packs of toilet paper cost nearly twice what we paid per roll at Trader Joe’s.

We still found good deals on a few items, like cereal, rice, and chocolate chips. But crunching the numbers, we found that we wouldn’t save enough on these items in a year to pay for the club membership.

But in 2017, we decided to give Costco a try. My husband needed new glasses, and we found the savings on those would more than pay for the $60 membership cost. 

Once we were inside the store, we started finding deals on all sorts of other things we buy regularly. Organic sugar, raisins, nuts, oatmeal, milk, and olive oil were all cheaper at Costco than at local supermarkets.

Here’s a sample of our savings from a single Costco trip. For each item, I’ve listed the amount we bought, the price, and what the same amount would have cost at the next cheapest store.

Product Costco Price Competitor’s Price Savings

Raisin Bran (14.34 pounds) $21.87 $24.38 (Aldi) $2.51

Brussels Sprouts (2 pounds) $4.99 $4.99 (Trader Joe’s) $0

Clementines (5 pounds) $5.49 $5.49 (supermarket sale) $0

Birdseed (80 pounds) $27.98 $31.96 (Lowe’s) $3.98

Organic Raisins (4 pounds) $10.79 $11.96 (Trader Joe’s) $1.17

Walnuts (3 pounds) $10.89 $14.97 (Aldi) $4.08

Canola Oil (6 quarts) $7.69 $9.00 (Shop-Rite) $1.31

Organic Sugar (10 pounds) $7.99 $17.45 (Trader Joe’s) $9.46 (less packaging waste as well)

On this one trip, we saved a total of $22.51 on a bill of $99.54. That means we saved about 22% off our entire bill. According to our credit card statement, we spent a total of $723.50 at Costco in 2018. If we saved 22% on everything we bought there, that’s a savings of $159.17.

In addition, by becoming members, we qualified for a Costco credit card. It offered 4% cash back on gas, 3% on restaurants and travel, and 2% on everything at Costco. Those rewards save us another $34 per year or so.

So, all told, our Costco membership is saving us over $193 per year. That’s more than three times the cost of the membership card. 

Factors That Affect Your Choice

As you can see from our experience, warehouse stores aren’t all the same. BJ’s Wholesale Club definitely wasn’t a money-saver for us, but Costco definitely was.

However, what works for our family isn’t necessarily what will work for yours. It depends largely on what you buy and how much you pay for it.

Based on our experience, these are the factors most likely to make a warehouse club membership a good deal for you.

Bulk Buying

On our initial trip to BJ’s, we had to pass up a lot of deals because the containers were too big. A 30-pound sack of rice cost less per pound than a 10-pound bag, but it would have taken us years to go through it all.

However, if you have a large family or a small business, you probably go through supplies faster. That makes these jumbo-sized packages a more reasonable deal for you. All you need is enough storage space to hold them and keep them fresh.

Brand Loyalty

My husband and I usually prefer to buy store brands rather than name brands. For most products, we find their quality is just as good and their price is much lower. Most of the products we buy at Costco are the ones that come in the Kirkland store brand. 

That’s one reason we didn’t have much luck at BJ’s on our first trip. Most of its products, at least at the time, were name brands. The store’s price for Star-Kist tuna was cheaper than the price for Star-Kist at our local Stop & Shop, but no cheaper than the Stop & Shop store brand.

However, many people are loyal to specific brands. For instance, your family may insist on Heinz ketchup or Downy fabric softener. If so, there’s a good chance that a warehouse store can offer you a better price on it than your regular supermarket. 

But before you sign up for a membership, make sure the warehouse store actually stocks the specific brands you want. If you shelled out $50 for a membership card and then find out the store doesn’t carry Heinz ketchup, you’re out of luck.

Few Local Supermarkets

Nearly all our food savings from Costco come from just a few items. On most foods, especially fresh foods, the warehouse can’t beat the prices at our area supermarkets. Even if their regular prices are higher than Costco’s, we can always wait for a sale.

However, in some areas — especially rural areas — there are no big supermarkets. The main food sellers are local grocery stores and convenience stores with high prices and few great sales. If you live in an area like this, the regular prices at warehouse stores look a lot more appealing. 

A Convenient Location

Finally, location matters. If the nearest warehouse store is 50 miles away, it isn’t practical to shop there more than once or twice per year. That hardly gives you a chance to get your money’s worth out of your membership. Plus, the cost of gas will eat into your savings. 

But if the distance to the store is less than 10 miles, regular trips become practical. You can visit every few weeks to stock up on everything you need. 

Factors Affect Choice

Avoiding the Pitfalls

If you decide to invest in a warehouse club membership — or you already have one — use it wisely. To get the most for your money, maximize the benefits of warehouse shopping and minimize the drawbacks.

Don’t Give In to Temptation

Impulse buys are one of the biggest hazards of the warehouse store. This can happen at the supermarket too, but Costco and Sam’s Club have a much wider array of shiny toys to tempt you. 

However, you can avoid them the same way you would in any other store. Make a shopping list and stick to it. If you see something that looks irresistible, don’t stick it right in your cart. Instead,  jot down the item and the price and walk away. 

The next day, take another look at your note. If you still want the item, you can go back to the store and get it. But chances are, by the time you’ve had 24 hours to cool off, the new toy will have lost a lot of its appeal.

Check Unit Prices

Warehouse stores don’t always beat the supermarket on price. However, comparing prices is tricky because the containers at the warehouse store tend to be so much larger. 

To be sure you’re getting a good deal, compare unit prices. That’s the cost per ounce, quart, or whatever unit the product is measured in. 

Some stores have the unit prices of different products marked on the shelf. However, if your warehouse store doesn’t, it’s easy to calculate. Just whip out your phone and divide the total price by the container size. 

Then compare this number to the price you’re used to paying at your regular store. It helps to keep a grocery price book that lists each store’s unit prices for items you buy often. That way you don’t have to try to remember one number while staring at another.

Don’t Overbuy

When you compare unit prices, the biggest container often looks like the best deal. However, a five-gallon tub of mayonnaise is no bargain if it goes bad before you use it up. 

If you’re buying something with an unlimited shelf life, such as shampoo, then buying by the case is no problem. But when you’re shopping in the food department, try to be realistic. Go for a size you can handle, even if the unit price is a bit higher.

Focus on the Best Deals

It’s tempting to take advantage of the warehouse’s store’s variety and do all your shopping in one trip. But if you do this, you’re almost sure to overpay for something. To get the most bang for your buck, focus on the items that are great deals at your particular store. 

This goes double when you’re shopping for a big-ticket item, such as jewelry or electronics. Don’t assume the warehouse store’s prices are lowest. Take the time to shop around and look for the best deal.

Focus Best Deals

Final Word

A single visit may not be enough to figure out whether a warehouse club membership is a good deal for you. If you’re still on the fence, try signing up on a trial basis. 

From time to time, BJ’s Wholesale Club offers a free 90-day membership to give shoppers a chance to get to know the store. Keep your eyes out for these offers in your mailbox and in coupon circulars.

If you don’t want to wait, try BJ’s discounted membership offer. It gives you all the benefits of membership for $25 — less than half the regular price. It’s not free, but it’s a chance to try the store without risking the full $55.

Moreover, all three warehouse chains — BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club — promise a full refund of your membership fees at any time if you’re not satisfied. You can give any of these stores a try for a month or two, then cancel if you decide it’s not for you.

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Amy Livingston is a freelance writer who can actually answer yes to the question, “And from that you make a living?” She has written about personal finance and shopping strategies for a variety of publications, including ConsumerSearch.com, ShopSmart.com, and the Dollar Stretcher newsletter. She also maintains a personal blog, Ecofrugal Living, on ways to save money and live green at the same time.

Source: moneycrashers.com

TV Deals for Watching the NFL’s Bigggest Game

Ready to shop? Here are some of the best bargains that we found on big screen TVs and a couple of smaller ones if you’ll be watching from your bedroom or the kitchen.
Super Bowl LVI (No. 56 for the Roman numeral challenged) will be held on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. SoFi Stadium is the state-of-the-art, gorgeous new home shared by the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.
If you search for TVs on Amazon, you will see several choices for “limited time” deals, although there is no explanation as to what “limited time’’ means specifically.
You can also save 0 on the Sony X80J 65” 4K UHD LED Smart Google TV With Dolby Vision HDR and Alexa Compatibility, with a price drop from 0 to 0.
HDR stands for high definition range, which is the top current technology in color, contrast and clarity.
A new big screen TV will come in handy for the Winter Olympics from Beijing, Feb. 4-20, which are also being broadcast on NBC. There are other ways to watch the Winter Games.

How Many of Us Watch Football’s Biggest Game?

Walmart is offering a 55” Samsung Class 4K Crystal UHD (Ultra High Definition) LED Smart TV with HDR for 8 plus tax, down from 9.
A huge TV — the 75” Westinghouse UHD Smart Roku TV — is selling for 0, down from 0, at Target. Westinghouse is a lesser known brand among TV manufacturers, and this TV is not LED or UHD.
Best Buy offers the LG 24” Class LED HD TV for 0, and the step up LG 24” Class LED HD Smart webOS for 0.

The Best Super Bowl TV Deals

Most TV monitors today are smart TVs, meaning that they connect to streaming services, which is how people watch live NFL football these days if they have cut their cable service.
If you are brand loyal to LG, Best Buy is offering the LG 48” Class Ai Series OLED 4K UHD Smart webOS TV for 0, down 0 from the original selling price of ,200. Or, you could save 0 and go big with the 77” LG Class C1 OLED 4k UHD Smart webOS TV for ,000.

Walmart

Best Buy has reduced the price of the LG 65” Class UP7000 Series LED 4K UHD Smart webOS TV from 0 to 0 which makes it a worthy big game TV deal.
Last year’s big game attracted 96.4 million viewers, but that was the lowest TV audience for an NFL championship game since 2007. That number includes people who watch the game in bars and restaurants, which was likely affected by fewer people gathering because of the pandemic. There was growth, however, in streaming service viewership.
However, if you are a Sony person and you want the best TV possible, Sony has the 65” Class Bravia XR A8OJ Series OLED 4K UHD Smart Google TV for ,200, a drop of 0, which may make you feel better but there are better TV deals out there .  This TV is rated best premium 4K TV by Popular Mechanics.
The NFL reports that nationally televised, regular-season games draw about 17 million viewers. How to account for the huge jump in viewership? The championship game is now combined with big parties and clever commercials that help drive more eyeballs to the game. Many people “watch” the game who never see another one all season.
One of the limited time deals offered a savings of almost 0 on the Vizio 58” M7 Series Premium 4K UHD Quantum Color LED HDR Smart TV with Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast Built in. The price drop of 0, from 0 to 0, was one of the best deals on the site in terms of percentage of savings.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Keep this in mind as you check out the TV deals: How will the big screen TV be delivered to your house? Do you have a vehicle big enough to transport it or will you need to pay for delivery of your new TV to watch the biggest football game of the year? You’ll have to factor that into the savings. And, will you need to pay for set up?

Best Buy

The 4K reference indicates the top level for movie viewing. While most top line television monitors today offer either 4K for movie viewing or UHD for live action viewing, this Samsung has both technologies.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
UHD is the next step up from high definition, an improvement from a display resolution of 1,920 pixels to 2,160 pixels.
According to Popular Mechanics, the best 4K LED TV is the Sony X85J 4K UHD Roku Smart TV. A 65” version is selling at Walmart for ,098, reduced from ,237.

Amazon

Super Bowl Sunday — this year Feb. 13 — is the most official unofficial holiday on the calendar, and 100 million people watch that game annually. So it’s the perfect time to be looking for TV deals unless you’re one of the lucky people who’ve snagged a ticket to watch it in person.
There is one time of the year that TV retailers know you are going to be watching your television and are in the market for the best TV deals.
Yes, curved crystal. The screen is curved, a significant upgrade for any live action viewing.

Roku or Amazon Firestick? We’ve got the details to help you decide which one is right for you, but honestly, it’s a coin toss.

Target

Your TV monitor is never going to be more important than it will be on Super Bowl Sunday, which is why many sitcoms have tackled the big game for story fodder. Remember the King of Queens episode when Doug tried to cozy up to Carrie’s boss so they could watch the big game in hi-def on his big-screen TV?
If you have a tabletop TV in your kitchen, and you plan to watch the game while cooking for others or for yourself, a 24-inch monitor is your best bet. You should pay less than 0 for any of these, including the Vizio 24” D-Series Full HD 1080p Smart TV with Apple AirPlay and Chromecast Built-in at 8 on Amazon.

Watching the Game in the Kitchen

Retailers want to provide you with the best possible TV screen so that your football viewing is the best it can be. That’s why January is the best month to buy a new TV. Retailers are offering monitors at the lowest prices of the year because they know you are shopping right now.
A TV that does fit the 4K UHD model is the 65” Element 4K UHD Roku TV, selling at Target for 0, down from 0. Again, Element is a lesser-known brand of TV manufacturer.
Not big enough for you? Try the Samsung 65” 4K Curved Crystal UHD LED Smart TV with HDR for 7 plus tax, reduced from 0.
If ever there was a time to shop around for  TV deals for the big game, or to place your best internet shopping hound dog on the hunt, this is the time.
WebOS is a smart TV operating system owned by LG. It allows for more advanced features and connected devices to operate the TV monitor remotely.

Make Your Money A Daily Routine

Starting a new routine in any area of life can be challenging. Be it changes to your finances, exercise habits, health or any other type of new routine, one of the best ways that you can increase your chances of success is to make it part of your existing daily routine. Making small changes to something you’re already doing drastically increases your chances to stick with any new habit. Here, we’ll take a look at some ways that you can incorporate finances into your daily routine.

Setting yourself up for success

If you are planning or have already set a goal or resolution to improve your finances, Mint can help. Mint makes keeping track of your finances feel less like torture and more like a natural part of your day. Instead of feeling like it’s just “one more thing” that you have to do each day, you can handle your finances in the background of many moments. This makes it much more likely that you will continue on the right path.

Constantly making progress

The hardest thing about making progress is constantly making progress. It’s really difficult to stay in the same place. So if you’re not always moving forward, you may find yourself moving backwards. All you have to do is keep up the pace — and fortunately, Mint makes that easy to do. 

One thing that you have to watch out for is making one mistake and then completely giving up on your new financial goal. It’s unrealistic to think that you will never slip up even once — so if you set the mentality of perfect or nothing, you’re more likely than not to end up with nothing. Instead, remember that the road to financial health is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re over budget one month, don’t give up — instead review what went wrong and strive to improve next month.

Keep track of your spending

Probably the most important thing that you can do to set yourself up for good financial health is to keep track of your spending. This means not only your big ticket items like rent, mortgage, utilities and other loan payments, but keeping track of EVERYTHING. There are many different ways to keep track of your spending, and each of us may prefer a different way. The important thing is to find the way that works best for you and stick with it.

You can go as low-tech as a paper spending journal where you write down each expense and then categorize it into a budget. If you prefer something more advanced and automated, Mint may be a great option. When you connect your bank accounts and credit cards to Mint, it will automatically track your purchases and categorize them for you based on the merchant. You can also set up a weekly or monthly budget and get alerts when your spending approaches or goes over your budget.

Using Mint to keep track of your spending

A good way to use Mint to incorporate your finances into your daily routine is to set up a reminder to review Mint regularly. Once or twice a week is probably a good cadence for many people, but if it’s easier, you can also just review it daily. Find something you do regularly and make checking your Mint account a part of that. This could be during your lunch break, your morning coffee or anything else that you are already regularly doing.

When you review your Mint account, there’s a few things that you’ll want to be on the lookout for:

  • Look for any fraudulent or unauthorized charges — if there’s a charge you don’t recognize, you’ll want to investigate where it came from
  • Check for any mis-categorized purchases — Mint uses the merchant where you make a purchase to assign it to a budget category. Check and make sure all of your purchases are being assigned correctly
  • Review your budget — Take a look at your budget and see how your spending so far is lining up. Make any adjustments that make sense.

The Bottom Line

Making any changes to your life requires mental and physical adjustments. Changing your finances is no exception, and the best way to make a change is to incorporate checking on your finances into something you’re already doing as part of your daily routine. Mint can be a great tool to help you keep track of your finances and stick to your budget. And remember, no matter where your day takes you, it’s always time to Mint.

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Source: mint.intuit.com