Consolidating financial

"That is right around inflation and you can likely get a better long-term return elsewhere," Fuchs says.

But if they're higher than 6%, Fuchs recommends accelerating the payoff.

At Low Income Loans Australia we understand that there are many different circumstances in which a person may have financial issues – minimal opportunities in the area of residence, injury, divorce, retired, etc.

If your employer offers a match, you should contribute at least enough to get the full match, which is basically free money. "Having the ability to live life on your own terms is giving your money enough time to work for you," Vargo says.

And I am going to be straight with you: Private college loans are not ideal at any time, especially now, when many lenders have left the student loan business or curtailed their lending in the wake of the financial crisis. With a private loan consolidation, your FICO credit score will determine both whether you get a loan and what the initial rate will be.

I contacted student loan guru Mark Kantrowitz at Fin Aid.org, who says just three lenders still offer consolidation: Chase, Student Loan Network, and Wells Fargo. You should also know that there are no fixed rates on consolidated private loans; your interest rate will probably be tied to a benchmark like the prime rate, so when that rises, so will the rate on your loan.

Pricey real estate markets like San Francisco and New York will require you to save up a lot more money than you'd need if you considered renting or buying in cheaper cities.

If that's the case, it can take years to save up for a down payment, so you'll need to start saving at least a little something as soon as possible.

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