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

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2022

  • Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State for its role in U.S. history
  • The state’s roots are deep in manufacturing, including industries such as coal and steel
  • Living in Pennsylvania gives you access to all the riches of the state, no matter what city you call home

Pennsylvania holds a notable place in the history of this country. Not only did it help shape our formation into the United States, but its roots are deep in the coal, steel and railroad industries. Living in the Keystone State puts you among historic locations that paved the way for the development of so much of this country.

It’s a lofty reputation to hold up, but staying grounded in industry and opportunity has enabled the state to maintain itself as an attractive spot for those looking for employment. With affordable housing across the state, plenty of colleges and universities and a slew of historic landmarks, why wouldn’t you want to call this northern state home?

For all these reasons, the best places to live in Pennsylvania stretch from one side of the state to other. Some cities are easily recognizable, while others you may hear about for the very first time. Regardless, you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to finding the perfect home in Pennsylvania.

Allentown, PA

Allentown, PA

  • Population: 125,845
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,885
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,027
  • Median home price: $187.750
  • Median household income: $41,167
  • Walk score: 59/100

A rich Dutch history gives Allentown a unique look and feel. Situated on the Lehigh River, this busy city is full of beautiful parks and gardens. It offers up a diverse collection of inhabitants with plenty to do to accommodate any lifestyle. There are plenty of job opportunities and thriving districts for the arts, theater and culture.

A day out and about in Allentown isn’t complete without a walk through the Allentown Art Museum, The Liberty Bell Museum, America On Wheels Museum and more. If the season is right, grab tickets to see the infamous Lehigh Valley IronPigs AAA baseball team go a few innings as well.

Bethel Park, PA

Bethel Park, PA

  • Population: 33,577
  • 1-BR median rent: $975
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,099
  • Median home price: $240,000
  • Median household income: $79,894
  • Walk score: 46/100

A Pittsburgh suburb, Bethel Park combines affordable housing with excellent schools and an abundance of green space. The city’s population is a combination of retirees and young professionals, but it’s also a great place for families. In addition to the parks, you’ll find plenty of bars, coffee shops and retail outlets.

With less than 30 minutes between Pittsburgh and Bethel Park, the town draws in those still commuting in for work, but who are looking for a quieter place to end each day. On weekends, locals will stay put and enjoy everything from the Montour Trail to the Hundred Acres Manor.

Camp Hill, PA

Camp Hill, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Society Hill
  • Population: 8,130
  • 1-BR median rent: $890
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,422
  • Median home price: $225,900
  • Median household income: $87,008
  • Walk score: 34/100

One of the best places to live in Pennsylvania is a small city along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Camp Hill gives you a nice amount of waterfront to explore. The town is also home to the northernmost engagement of the Gettysburg campaign during the Civil War. To honor this piece of history, you can follow the West Shore. There you’ll find historic buildings and battle sites.

For outdoor lovers, Camp Hill is a perfect home base to access hiking, biking, skiing and water activities. There are also plenty of local parks for a simple stroll.

Collegeville, PA

Collegeville, PA

  • Population: 5,043
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,060
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,655
  • Median home price: $380,000
  • Median household income: $112,500
  • Walk score: 44/100

As a suburb of Philadelphia, Collegeville got its straightforward name from Ursinus College. Academic life still plays an important role here, although the city is also a popular destination for a variety of businesses.

While there’s plenty of shopping and plenty for college students, the area’s top feature is the Perkiomen Trail. This 20-mile path follows the river, connecting many parks and historical sites. You can walk, bike and even ride horseback along the path.

Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PA

  • Population: 50,099
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,137
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,407
  • Median home price: $199,025
  • Median household income: $39,685
  • Walk score: 55/100

As the state capital, Harrisburg is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania as much for its location within the state as for its history. Living here puts you near the Susquehanna River, Appalachian Trail and the cities of Hershey and Gettysburg. You can easily sample a little nature and history with so much close by.

Within Harrisburg itself, you have access to the city’s own island. Here you’ll find a beach, riverboat, arcade and more. It’s a great stop during the day. When the sun goes down, keep yourself occupied with the upscale bars and restaurants downtown.

Hershey, PA

Hershey, PA

  • Population: 13,858
  • 1-BR median rent: $915
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,075
  • Median home price: $339,900
  • Median household income: $69,688
  • Walk score: 57/100

Yes, it’s named after that chocolate bar. Hershey is often referred to as one of the sweetest places on earth because, to this day, Hershey’s still calls the city home. This not only means a variety of job opportunities working with chocolate but plenty to lure in tourists. The city also boasts Hersheypark, which has rides and a zoo, Hersey Gardens and Hersheypark Stadium.

Although the city grew up around a single company, today, it contains all the attractive elements of a smaller town one could want. Step away from the more touristy areas to find scenic hiking trails, museums, restaurants and shops.

Lancaster, PA

Lancaster, PA

  • Population: 58,039
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,269
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,453
  • Median home price: $225,625
  • Median household income: $45,514
  • Walk score: 56/100

Situated alongside Amish Country, Lancaster is home to the Pennsylvania Dutch. While you can tour Amish attractions and even immerse yourself into the lifestyle for a special experience, locals have plenty of other activities to occupy their time.

As one of the best places to live near Philadelphia, the downtown area is full of shops, theaters, restaurants and art galleries. Underground caverns provide a little adventure for those seeking something different. You can also take a ride on the country’s oldest operating railroad or see a different side of the city’s history with a ghost tour.

Perkasie, PA

Perkasie, PA

  • Population: 9,120
  • 1-BR median rent: $995
  • 2-BR median rent: $995
  • Median home price: $425,000
  • Median household income: $77,420
  • Walk score: 38/100

Another commuter town, Perkasie is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania because it’s a great small town that’s only about an hour away from downtown Philadelphia. Once known for its factory that made baseballs for the major leagues, Perkasie today has managed to grow while holding onto its rural appeal.

A fantastic park system and revitalized downtown area provide the perfect combination of hometown activities for residents. There’s no shortage of restaurants, shops, music venues and more.

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA

  • Population: 1,603,797
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,872
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,102
  • Median home price: $260,000
  • Median household income: $45,927
  • Walk score: 84/100

The most populated and well-known city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia definitely has one of the rooms where it happened. Not only is it the original home of the Liberty Bell but it also housed our Founding Fathers as they signed the Declaration of Independence into being.

Popular in its own right, Philadelphia offers additional appeal for its proximity to New York City. Hop a train into the city for work or a weekend of fun. You can also stay close to home and snack on an authentic Philly cheesesteak as you enjoy the art and history of downtown. There’s no shortage of 300-year-old buildings, cultural attractions, quaint parks, bars, restaurants and shops.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Population: 302,971
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,435
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,890
  • Median home price: $217,000
  • Median household income: $48,711
  • Walk score: 69/100

Bookending the state, Pittsburgh is the most populated city on the opposite end from Philly. Known as the City of Bridges, Pittsburgh has long shared a connection with steel, however, the industry is only part of what makes this area so special. As a highly walkable city, you can easily explore on foot but wear comfortable shoes. With over 712 sets of city-maintained steps, you’re going to get a great workout.

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry, Pittsburgh has you covered. For sports fans, this affordable town is home to professional baseball, football and hockey teams. For those looking toward higher education, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are the notable tip of Pittsburgh’s collegiate iceberg.

Reading, PA

Reading, PA

  • Population: 95,112
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,475
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,540
  • Median home price: $160,000
  • Median household income: $32,176
  • Walk score: 69/100

Named after the Reading Railroad, which all you Monopoly players should know well, the town of Reading sits in the southeastern part of the state. Today, it’s uniquely known for the variety of pretzel companies that call the area home. Reading is also a combination of culture and history. It’s easy to divide your day between looking at an Egyptian mummy in the Reading Public Museum and hiking through the Nolde Forest. You can also check out Daniel Boone’s birthplace for some real American history.

With plenty of affordable, suburban housing, residents get drawn into Reading for the charms of the city itself, as well as its proximity to Philadelphia. These two cities on the list of best places to live in Pennsylvania are only about 60 miles apart.

Scranton, PA

Scranton, PA

  • Population: 76,328
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,184
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,095
  • Median home price: $149,000
  • Median household income: $40,608
  • Walk score: 58/100

Laid out more like a traditional small town, Scranton has tight-knit neighborhoods clustered around a thriving downtown. You’ll find trendy restaurants, boutiques and art galleries nestled among the historic Lackawanna County Courthouse building.

Taking into account its high population of young professionals and families, Scranton caters to its residents with plenty of special activities, including cultural festivals and monthly art walks. Scranton also pays homage to its nickname, the Electric City, with The Electric City Trolley Station and Museum. The first streetcars, successfully powered by electricity, ran here in the 1880s.

Willow Grove, PA

Willow Grove, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Willow Pointe
  • Population: 13,730
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,907
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,230
  • Median home price: $300,000
  • Median household income: $79,162
  • Walk score: 57/100

A small town with big fun, Willow Grove offers residents a quiet, laidback community that doesn’t lack the amenities you’d want close by. There are plenty of shopping and dining options that you’d expect to find in bigger cities.

As a Philadelphia suburb, Willow Grove has the nearby city going for it as far as activity goes, but it’s not without its own set of museums and historic sites to occupy residents. Visit the 42-acre grounds and home at Graeme Park or check out the indoor playground at Urban Air Adventure Park for something really different.

Find an apartment for rent in Pennsylvania

The best places to live in Pennsylvania spread to all four corners of the state. Each city has its own charm, beauty and history to explore, not to mention job opportunities and affordable housing.

Once you decide what area is right for you, begin the hunt. Look for apartments for rent in Pennsylvania to see all your options. Then, start narrowing things down by location, amenities and more. You’ll find the perfect place to call home in no time.

The rent information included in this summary is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of December 2021.
Median home prices are from Redfin as of December 2021.
Population and median household income are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The information in this article is for illustrative purposes only. This data herein does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

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Upgrade Your Saturday Morning: 10 Weekend Breakfast Ideas Worth Trying At Home

Stay in your pajamas and pretend you’re a master chef with these weekend breakfast ideas!

After a long week, nothing is better than sleeping in a bit and enjoying a filling and delicious breakfast. So, plan to skip long brunch lines and treat yourself at home with these easy weekend breakfast ideas.

From mouthwatering omelets to make-ahead strattas and casseroles, here are 10 helpful ways to upgrade your weekend breakfast plans.

1. Pour a cuppa (or two)

Cup of tea.

Cup of tea.

Instead of rushing out the door on a Saturday or Sunday morning for a day jam-packed with activities, linger a little longer at home and treat yourself to a lowkey tea party.

Make a pot of your favorite tea, slice up your favorite fruit into a salad and nibble on a scone or two. If you’re feeling luxurious, whip up a bowl of heavy cream and add the homemade whipped cream into your teacup or mug.

Want to have tea like the Queen? Buy or make your own clotted cream and add a little into an English tea. According to tea expert Ashita Agrawal, “English breakfast tea is a favorite for its full-bodied, rich and very refreshing tasting notes. It pairs excellently with eggs, sweetbreads or salads.”

2. Swap scrambled eggs for a homemade omelet

Omelet.

Omelet. Scrambling eggs is easy, but it can get old very quickly if it’s your go-to weekend breakfast idea. Turn your kitchen into a fancy brunch spot and treat yourself to an omelet.

  1. Prep your eggs: Grab two or three eggs per omelet, crack them into a bowl and lightly beat them with a fork.
  2. Melt your butter: Heat a nonstick skillet on medium-low heat and add in some butter.
  3. Pour in your eggs: Once you add your eggs to the pan, let them sit for about 60 seconds. Take a spatula and start to gingerly lift the cooked eggs around the edges of your pan.
  4. Add your fillings: Without overstuffing your omelet, add the filling as your eggs start to set in your pan.
  5. Fold it: Use your spatula to fold your omelet in half. Let it sit a few more seconds and voila — you just made an omelet.

Need help deciding what should go into your homemade omelet? Take your pick!

Cheese fillings:

  • Asiago
  • Blue
  • Boursin
  • Cheddar
  • Chèvre
  • Comté
  • Cream cheese
  • Feta
  • Fontina
  • Goat cheese
  • Gouda
  • Gruyère
  • Manchego
  • Monterey Jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Pimiento cheese
  • Taleggio

Meat fillings:

  • Bacon
  • Pancetta
  • Chorizo
  • Country ham
  • Crab
  • Diced ham
  • Lobster
  • Sausage
  • Shredded chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Smoked salmon
  • Steak
  • Trout

Vegetable and herb fillings:

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Avocado
  • Basil
  • Bell peppers
  • Caramelized onions
  • Chile peppers (jalapenos or poblano)
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Hash browns
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes

And if you want to kick our omelet experience up a notch — consider topping your breakfast with the following:

  • Caviar (if you’re feeling luxurious)
  • Chili (from a can or homemade)
  • Everything but the Bagel seasoning (pick it up at Trader Joe’s)
  • Hot sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Mixed greens
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Pesto
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salsa

3. Make a yogurt bar

Yogurt bowl.

Yogurt bowl.

Not only is yogurt delicious, but it has loads of protein, calcium and potassium (as well as numerous vitamins and minerals). If you want an easy and healthy weekend breakfast idea, plan to create an at-home yogurt bar.

Simply grab your favorite kind of yogurt flavor and then consider all your options for toppings. You can add as many or as few toppings as you want — there are no rules here. Need help dressing up your yogurt? Go to town with some of these:

  • Almonds
  • Almond butter
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cacao nibs
  • Cereal
  • Chia seeds
  • Chocolate chips (dark or white)
  • Coconut
  • Cookie butter
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Flaxseed
  • Fruit jam
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola
  • Grapes
  • Hemp seeds
  • Honey
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Peanut butter
  • Pecans
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

4. Bust out your cookie cutter collection

Cookie cutters.

Cookie cutters.

Whether you have kids or you’re just a kid at heart, bring your cookie cutter collection into your weekend breakfast routine. Cookie cutters can help turn your morning eggs or pancakes into whatever shape you want.

Making eggs? Add a little bit of butter or oil to a pan and heat it. Place your cookie cutter into the pan and when the butter or oil is hot enough, drop your egg into the cutter. Your egg will form around the cookie cutter!

Opting for a sweeter Sunday morning brunch and making pancakes? Place your cookie cutter on your griddle or pan, the same way as the eggs, and pour your batter into the middle of the cutter.

5. Build a smoothie bowl

Smoothie bowl.

Smoothie bowl.

Since it’s the weekend and you’ve got more time to spare, one of the best weekend breakfast ideas is to pour your smoothie into a bowl (instead of a glass or to-go tumbler). Just make a thicker smoothie (adding frozen fruit will help do this) and pour it into a bowl before adding in your favorite toppings (check out the yogurt bar topping ideas).

Since it will take you longer to spoon your smoothie into your mouth (and chew your chosen toppings) than sucking it down with a straw, your morning smoothie will take a little longer to consume. Consider this your weekend moment of mindfulness!

6. Let your toaster sleep in

Toast.

Toast.When you think toast, think beyond your toaster. Since it’s the weekend and you have a little more time, move past spreading butter on a piece of bread and calling it a meal. Opt for making hearty toast that will keep you full for hours.

Simply heat a slice or two of your favorite bread in a skillet over medium heat. Don’t worry about putting butter or oil down — the bread will toast directly on the pan. Leave each side down for about 2 minutes.

Need inspiration beyond your plain avocado toast? Any of these weekend breakfast ideas will do:

  • Hummus — topped with mushrooms, garlic, crushed red pepper and sage
  • Smashed avocado, chickpeas and crushed red pepper
  • Shaved pears layered on top of whipped ricotta and honey
  • Peanut butter (or any type of nut butter you prefer) topped with bananas and honey — you can even add granola, nuts or the seeds of your choice!
  • Open-faced BLT — Egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato, add hot sauce for spice or avocado
  • Smashed avocado with pistachios and honey — add granola or seeds if you’re feeling extra crunchy!
  • White cheddar, avocado, strawberry and sea salt. If you’re feeling extra, drizzle a teaspoon of honey on top of your toast!
  • Smashed avocado, corn, cotija cheese and pickled red onions. Splash some hot sauce on this to kick up the flavor!
  • Watermelon radish on top of smashed avocado, topped with sesame seeds or Everything But The Bagel seasoning
  • Sliced apples on top of almond butter, add a drizzle of honey
  • Avocado drenched in cottage cheese and pesto with pine nuts to top it off

7. Turn weekend brunch into a cocktail hourBloody mary.Bloody mary.

Say cheers to the weekend with an adult beverage or two! Instead of paying top dollar for a breakfast cocktail, make your own at home. Try these brunch menu favs:

  • Bellini: A sweet effervescent drink with peach puree and prosecco.
  • Bloody Mary: Tomato juice and vodka are the base of the ever-popular Bloody Mary, but don’t forget the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, hot sauce, horseradish, lemon and lime juice, fresh herbs and a celery stick. Popular garnishes to include:
    • Asparagus
    • Bacon
    • Cheese cubes
    • Crab legs
    • Cucumbers
    • Jalapenos
    • Peppers
    • Pepperoncini
    • Pickles
    • Okra
    • Radishes
    • Shrimp
  • French 75: A spritely and refreshing cocktail made of gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar.
  • Irish Coffee: Upgrade your coffee with Irish whiskey, sugar and whipped cream.
  • Kir Royal: A red-hued cocktail, this drink features champagne and creme de cassis.
  • Mimosa: A classic — mix chilled juice (orange juice is the traditional go-to, but you can use any type of juice) and champagne.

8. Make your breakfast the night beforeStratta.Stratta.

One of the best weekend breakfast ideas is to simply make your breakfast the night before…or at least prep so the most you have to do is pop it into the oven and bake.

Making a breakfast dish ahead allows you to sleep in later and enjoy the fruits of your labor with little effort the next day. Here are some options:

  • Breakfast burritos
  • Breakfast polenta dishes
  • Egg casseroles
  • Egg muffins
  • French toast
  • Frittatas
  • Hash brown casseroles
  • Homemade muesli
  • Homemade nut bars
  • Latkes
  • Muffins
  • Overnight oats
  • Slow cooker oatmeal
  • Smoothie kits
  • Strattas

9. Pay attention to the details

Pancakes served in bed.

Pancakes served in bed.

“There are lots of simple and fun ways to elevate your home brunch,” says Liz McCray from Bloody Mary Obsessed. “Infuse vodka with jalapeños for a spicy addition to a Bloody Mary or use fresh or frozen fruit to make from scratch juices for your mimosas!”

Additionally, Liz says, “Small splurges like chocolate chips in your pancakes or using a fluffy and buttery brioche bread for French toast will up-level your home brunch game. Grab a bouquet of fresh flowers from the farmers market or Trader Joe’s as a centerpiece and you’ve got an elevated home brunch!”

10. Eat like a chef

Breakfast tacos.

Breakfast tacos.

According to California Bay Area chef Garrett Adair, “If you want to eat like a chef, there’s one thing to make — breakfast tacos.”

You heard the professional. Plan to make breakfast tacos this week — here’s what you’ll need:

  • Eggs: Fried or scrambled, however you prefer.
  • Beans: Refried beans are perfect for breakfast tacos, but black or pinto beans work well, too.
  • Cheese: Cheddar cheese or cotija will do the trick.
  • Avocado: Slice it, smash it or make some guacamole.
  • Salsa or hot sauce: Pick your favorite and splash it on.
  • Tortillas: Corn or flour

If you want a heavier breakfast taco, feel free to add your favorite meat. Chorizo, chicken and steak also make excellent breakfast taco toppings.

Bon appétit!

Whether you live for savory breakfast dishes or a sweeter morning snack, there are plenty of delicious and easy-at-home weekend breakfast ideas to try. So, next time you look for brunch reservations — just stay in your pajamas and treat yourself (if you’re feeling generous, your friends, too) instead!

Source: rent.com

How To Write a 30-Day Notice Letter To Your Landlord

Sending a notice to vacate to your current landlord will help ensure a smooth and easy transition to your next place.

You absolutely love your current apartment. Everything about it has been perfect, but you realize it’s time to move on. Even though your lease has a defined end date, it’s common courtesy to notify your landlord that you’re ready to move.

Submitting a 30-day notice letter to your landlord is the proper way to get the ball rolling. Not only will it ensure everyone is on the same page about you moving out, it makes sure you’re all on the same schedule.

Why do I give a notice to vacate?

One of the hardest things to remember about leasing an apartment is that it’s a legal transaction. You sign a legal document to move in, so you need to create a document when you want to move out.

A notice to vacate is the letter you give your landlord stating your intention to terminate your lease. The specifics of how to submit this letter — and when — is usually a part of your rental agreement. Even if your lease has a set end date and that’s when you’re moving out, submitting an official letter makes your intentions clear and avoids confusion.

Is a 30-day notice letter to my landlord the norm?

While it’s pretty standard to provide 30 days’ notice of your intent to move out, not every lease sets the notification period to the same amount of days. Some landlords may want more notice, transforming your 30-day notice letter to a 45- or 60-day letter.

Your lease provides any clarification you need on when to send this letter, so it’s best to check it well before you plan on moving out.

Thinking of what to include in a letter

Thinking of what to include in a letter

What should the notice letter look like?

There are a few essential elements that belong in your notice to vacate letter and a few best practices to follow. First, make sure your letter has:

  • Your name, your current address and the date
  • The date on which you plan to move out
  • A forwarding address where your security deposit can go
  • Acknowledgment that a final inspection will occur

Additionally, it’s best if you:

  • Review your lease before writing your letter to check not only on a time frame to give notice but other requirements for moving out.
  • Type your letter rather than write it by hand. Use a pen for your signature, but typing the letter makes it easier to keep a record for yourself.
  • Keep the tone straightforward and polite. Stay on the topic of giving your notice and don’t bring up other issues or complaints.

Even if your lease doesn’t require you to send a formal letter if you’re moving out on the actual date your rental agreement ends, err on the side of caution and do so anyway. This gives you a paper trail and offers you legal protection should any issues arise down the road.

A 30-day notice letter template

This template can help you get started when it’s time to write your own 30-day notice letter to your landlord. Simply download the 30-day notice sample letter and replace the sections in parenthesis ( ) with your information.

(Your name)
(Street address and unit number)
(City, State and ZIP Code)

(Date)

(Landlord or property manager’s name)
(Property address)
(City, State and ZIP Code)

Re: Notice of Intent to Vacate

Dear (Landlord or property manager’s name),

This letter is to inform you of my official 30-day notice to vacate. I’d like to terminate the lease signed on (Month, Date, Year) for the property located at (Your address with apartment number). I will move out on (Date).

I will return my keys on (Move out date) to (Specific address) per the terms of my lease.

I’m also aware a final inspection of the apartment will take place, the results of which could potentially impact my security deposit. Please let me know, via email at (Your email address), if the full amount is not being returned. You can return my security deposit to (Forwarding address.)

Should you have any questions, or need to reach me after I move out, you can contact me at (Phone number) or (Email address).

Sincerely,

(Your name and signature)
(Apartment number)

Sharing why you’re moving out

This is an optional bit of information you can include in your letter. It’s not necessary to tell your landlord why you’re moving out, but sometimes it’s nice for them to know that it’s not the apartment driving you away.

If you’d like, add in a sentence to your letter along these lines: I’ve enjoyed living here and am moving out because of a (new job/relocation opportunity/roommate opportunity, etc.).

If you’re moving out because of an issue with the apartment and want to share it here, that’s OK, too, just try and remain diplomatic. You don’t want to use your letter as an opportunity to accuse your landlord of anything. Try something like: I’m leaving because of (a rent increase, issue with apartment). You don’t need to get really detailed, either.

Again, this additional line is completely optional and up to you entirely.

Hire a moving company

Hire a moving company

What happens after your notice to vacate?

Once you’ve submitted your official letter, it’s a good idea to reach out to your landlord and informally share your plans. You can also notify them your letter is coming and address any questions they may have without having to wait.

The next steps involve planning your move. If you haven’t found a new place to live yet, get searching. You may also want to schedule movers since you’ve now established your move-out day with your 30-day notice letter to your landlord.

What if I forget?

The biggest possible issue, should you forget to send a 30-day notice letter to your landlord, is penalties. You could end up on the hook for extra fees as high as another month’s rent. You could also end up dealing with an automatic lease renewal, which means having to break your lease to move out. This could lead to even more charges and potential problems since you’ve missed your window to easily vacate the apartment.

To avoid forgetting, as soon as you know you’re going to move, set a reminder for yourself to give 30-day notice and mark the cut-off date in your calendar. Give yourself as many ways as possible to get that letter sent.

Handling the termination of your lease right

Moving from one home to another is always full of little details. From scheduling movers to packing all your stuff, the weeks leading up to a move are busy.

Before you get into the weeds of your actual move, take the right steps to properly prepare your landlord. That all starts by giving notice of your intent to vacate. It will be the easiest and the less time-consuming thing you have to do during the move-out process and could make a big difference.

Source: rent.com

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