Money Moves

I Have $150k in Debt — Here’s What Financial Experts Told Me To Do

Money is a topic that is difficult to talk about. Traditionally, society has told us that there are three things that we should not talk about in polite company: religion, politics, and money. Well, politics seems to be the only thing anyone talks about these days. As for religion, well, I’m of the “to each their own” policy. But money is something that we often still ignore — especially when it comes to frank discussions about debt.

Nobody likes to admit that they have debt. Whether it’s credit card debt, student loans, or paying off cars, most of us have something that we’re keeping quiet about. According to CNBC, 70 percent of college students are graduating with a “significant amount of loans” which total $1.5 trillion in debt for the over 44 million Americans who have student loan debt. In fact, a recent survey revealed that two-thirds of millennials have at least $10,000 in student debt and more than a third admitted to over $30,000 in debt, according to Inc.

Even worse, 42 percent of those that had more than $30,000 in debt were women and 11 percent of millennials have over $100,000 in student loan debt. Unsurprisingly, credit card debt is actually even higher for millennials (at 46 percent) and car loans come in just behind student loans (at 34 percent). Then there’s also medical debt to think about, as well as the 20 percent of millennials who actually have a mortgage.

Some of us, like me, have debt in all of the categories.

When my husband and I met and moved in together just six weeks into our relationship, we did it because we were in love and knew we wanted to be together for the long haul.

ehplusmoney/Instagram

However, what we didn’t know at the time (and came to learn very quickly) is that we both came with a heaping amount of debt. Now, two and a half years into our relationship and nine months into our marriage, I can tell you that our debt has only increased: Collectively, we have around $150,000 in debt — about $100k of that in student loans, $40k in car loans, and another $10k in credit cards and medical bills. Add to that the fact that we just bought our first house and, well, our financial situation has gotten a bit more complicated.

It’s not easy to talk about finances, and it’s especially not an easy thing to do with someone you love. Sadly, money is often cited as a common cause of marriages falling apart — which is precisely why my husband and I are trying to tackle these issues sooner than later. I know that we won’t get out of debt any time soon, but having a secure financial plan is a good way to step into our future, together. So, shortly, after getting married, we decided to speak with some financial experts about how exactly to tackle our $150k in debt… WITHOUT driving each other crazy or stopping some of our other personal goals (like traveling together or having kids in the next couple of years).

Nora Dunn, a former Certified Financial Planner and blogger behind the financially savvy travel site, The Professional Hobo, told us that a lot of it depends on what we as a couple are earning and what our goals are. Dunn advised that my husband and I evaluate the importance of each of our goals. Was buying a house more important than taking vacation? How much did we expect to spend on a house based on the market in our area? According to her, it was all about taking an ‘everything in moderation’ plan, where we would examine our take-home income and expenses, and then divide our disposable income between different goals, depending on how our goals are prioritized.

After some discussion, we decided that prioritizing goals, and dividing our income accordingly, definitely seemed like a good place to start. In fact, Shana Bickel, CPA and Financial Coach, mirrored that advice when she told me that “it is not for me to tell the couple how to prioritize their financial goals.” The important thing, she says, is “to identify and get very clear about those goals and then develop a plan to pay off debt while saving for a home and allowing travel that makes sense for their financial health and well being.”

Another financial expert took a more straightforward approach.

black_girl_success/Instagram

“Sell those cars!” said Lynne Somerman and The Wiser Miser. “If you’ve got big financial goals like this, there’s no situation where I can recommend $40K in car loans when you can buy a reliable used vehicle for $10K. Even assuming you still need two cars, that’s $30K that you’ve now got towards a down payment. After that, it would depend on the type and interest rates on the student loans. If they’re private loans, go aggressively after them. If the interest is higher than about 4-5% on the student loans, they’d be my next priority. If their income is high enough, you could do both here.”

However, David Rae, a Certified Financial Planner based in Los Angeles, has a more realistic approach.

“Get those cars paid off and drive them forever!” he advised. “You don’t need a new car every two or three years. My car is paid off, and I plan to drive it forever. Each of those car payments is like a trip to Europe each year. Would you rather have a brand new car or a trip to Europe?”

He’s definitely right about that, which is why we have made paying off our cars our #2 priority (after paying off our credit cards), since we’d also like to save for an international trip in the near future. Rae also reminds me that, although student loans are important, so is saving for retirement.

“The student loans are going to take a long time to pay off. Get serious about them, but make sure to contribute to your retirement at least enough to get a company match,” he said. “This will be like free money from your boss, and the government will give you break on your taxes.”

Meanwhile, Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, a money coach who runs The Fiscal Femme, said that it is all about opportunity cost.

“We can only use or spend each dollar we have once, no matter how much or little money we have,” she reminds me. “How can we use it in a way that will maximize our joy per dollar in the shorter and long-term? It’s about looking at each option and choosing consciously. If a couple is paying down their debt and that’s really important to them but they also want to travel, they might decide to let go of expenses in other areas to make that work. What expenses aren’t bringing them much joy? Would they rather live in a less expensive apartment for the time being so that they have more money to travel? When we take a look at each expense annually (including our bills) it’s much easier to see where our money is going and decide if we want to allocate it any differently.”

Taking a look at our overall finances, my husband and I were able to use this advice to devise some financial goals, set some priorities, create a payment plan, and figure out what we want to save for.

barefootbudgetmama/Instagram

It took some serious negotiating but we came away with a clearer picture of our finances. It’s not going to be easy, mind you. Having debt as a couple is difficult, but unfortunately, something that almost all of us face these days. If you don’t have student loans, then you might have a car payment or credit card debt or medical bills from that time before ACA when you didn’t have health insurance and ended up in the hospital (guilty!). But ultimately, the best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to your finances, whether you are coupled up or not, is to do the work to figure it out.

As Rae put it, “Get serious about your finances now — it won’t get easier when you have kids. You may make more money but you will be busier and tired. Parenting is hard. Just saying.”


Read: Mexico’s President-Elect Kissed A Women Reporter On The Cheek Instead of Answering Her Questions

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below! 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Latinas Are Gearing Up To Run 2019: From Tessa Thompson’s Role in The New ‘MIB’ To J.Lo’s Skin Care Line, Here’s A Look

Fierce Boss Ladies

Latinas Are Gearing Up To Run 2019: From Tessa Thompson’s Role in The New ‘MIB’ To J.Lo’s Skin Care Line, Here’s A Look

As 2018 inches toward its finale, we can’t help but look forward to the new year and get excited for all of the exciting and unpredictable things that 2019 has in store. Among the things we’re excited about is a newly-announced skincare line from the venerable Jennifer Lopez, which is set to be released in late 2019. But Lopez isn’t the only Latina that has exciting projects lined up in the new year. In fact, so far 2019 is shaping up to be a year chock full of Latina-Power so far. In addition to Lopez, we’ve rounded up some Latina-Power Projects to look forward to in the new year, starting with the ageless goddess herself.

Jennifer Lopez

@jlobrasil/Instagram.

In response to a question about her skincare routine during her promotional tour of Second Act, Lopez revealed that she “will be coming out with a skincare line” that she’s been “working [on] for a long time”. She further explained why she decided to release it after her makeup collection, saying, “I don’t want to put [just] anything out”. According to Lopez, she hopes the line “encompasses all of the things I’ve learned, all of the secrets I have”. And suddenly, 2019 can’t come fast enough.

Gina Rodriguez

@spanish_teacher_nyc/Instagram

There will be no escaping Gina Rodriguez in 2019–not that we’d want to. Not only will her action-thriller Miss Bala (a film with a 95 percent Latinx cast and crew) hit theaters in February, she will also be voicing the iconic Latina character Carmen San Diego in Netflix’s animated re-boot, set to premiere on January 18. And lest we forget, the fifth and final season of Jane the Virgin is rumored to be premiering in early 2019, officially making next year the property of Gina Rodriguez.

Cardi B

@iamcardib/Instagram.

Cardi B can’t–and won’t–slow down. Not only is she scheduled to make regular, showstopping appearances into 2019, but she’ll also be making money moves with her lucrative partnership with Reebook. It’s safe to assume that Cardi isn’t going anywhere for a long time.

Rita Moreno

@RitaMoreno/Instagram

As we announced before, Rita Moreno is set to appear in Steven Spielberg’s much-anticipated remake of the beloved classic, Westside Story. According to Deadline, the actress will play an “expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store” from the original movie. According to Moreno, she is “tingling” over the opportunity to re-visit the story that made her a legend. She further stated: “Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work, and to be asked by Steven Spielberg to participate is simply thrilling!”. We can’t wait to see her back on the silver screen where she belongs.

Tessa Thompson

@meninblack/Instagram

Tessa Thompson isn’t letting some out-dated name of a movie stop her. In 2019, the talented Mexican-Panamanian actress will be starring in a “Men in Black” reboot with Chris Hemsworth. The fact that an Afro-Latina is headlining a movie that literally has “men” in the title is so refreshing–we can’t wait to see Thompson break down more barriers in 2019.

Isabela Moner

@isabelamoner/Instagram

As soon as we heard that a live-action version of “Dora the Explorer” would be coming to a theater near us, we couldn’t wait to see what Latina fabulosa would fill Dora’s little white tennis shoes. Luckily for us, we weren’t disappointed. Peruvian-American Nickelodeon star Isabela Moner was announced as the actress who had won the part among many. Moner stated that she was “excited and honored” to get to play the iconic character. “I grew up watching the show, and for me, especially as a Latina, Dora was an amazing role model”, she said. We can’t wait to catch Moner in theaters on August 22nd.

Valentina Garza

Youtube.

Yes, we’re sad that “Jane the Virgin” is coming to an end, but we can’t help but be excited about its recently-announced spinoff. And in even more exciting news, this time the show will be run by Cuban-American writer/producer Valentina Garza. This will mark the first time a Latina has been a showrunner of a CW show. No news yet on when the new anthology series will premiere, but either way, Garza will have her hands full with development and pre-production all of 2019.

Anjelah Johnson/America Ferrera/Emilia Serrano

@mexemilia/Twitter. @americaferrera/Instagram. @anjelahjohnson/Instagram.

In November, deadline announced that it was developing a sitcom called “All Fancy” that is starring Mexican-American comedian Anjelah Johnson, written by Mexican-American writer Emilia Serrano, and produced by Honduran-American actress, philanthropist and overall powerhouse America Ferrera. According to “Deadline”, the series will revolve around Johnson playing a “newly successful 30-something Mexican-American woman who often goes against cultural and social expectations”. Kudos for these Latina ladies making waves in Hollywood.

Gina Torres

@ginatorres/Instagram

Finally, Cuban-American actress Gina Torres is getting her day in the sun. After co-starring in “Suits” for six years, USA Network has given Torres her very own spinoff that is currently in production and set to premiere in 2019. According to Deadline, the series, entitled “Second City”, will center on Torres’s iconic character Jessica Pearson as she “enters the dirty world of Chicago politics”. It’s so rare that a Latina–let alone an Afro-Latina–has the chance to star in her own show, that we’re jumping up and down for joy because of this one. We know Torres will be her usual, mesmerizing self in this role.


Read: After A Judge Ordered Activist Ale Pablos’ Deportation, Thousands Sign Petition Urging Arizona Governor For A Pardon

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below! 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Hottest Financial Tips to Help You Jumpstart 2019

hide from home

The Hottest Financial Tips to Help You Jumpstart 2019

The start of a new year is exciting but can be stressful. This is the time of year people make impossible resolutions that become overwhelming before the end of January.

When it comes to personal finances, you can avoid the resolution trap by keeping it real. Instead of making big impossible promises to yourself, try making a number of small changes you can actually handle.

Wondering what makes me credible in this area? Well here goes: I’m debt free, have a great credit score (above 800), am self-employed, and get no help from my family. Yes, I’m married, but my husband and I merged accounts only recently. I agreed to do this because sending each other money for groceries, house bills, and the mortgage was becoming annoying! But, as God is my witness, I’ve always paid my proper portion. I am a firm believer in being as independent as possible, because, as my mom always said, “uno nunca sabe.”

Here’s what’s worked for me to stay financially healthy…

Prioritize paying off loans.

Instagram @peachtreedebtrelief

One thing I’ll say repeatedly is that you must make it your number one priority to pay off every loan you have. If you’re paying just the minimum, you’ll never get out from under that debt. Put as much as you can into each monthly payment. Even $10 extra per month makes a difference over time.

Use a balance transfer card.

Instagram @iin.lam

There’s a slew of cards that offer transfer balance deals at low or zero APR for the first year. I have taken advantage of these deals especially when there’s a big charge on my card. For example, during a recent move I had to buy lots of furniture and stuff for the new house, so once I was done with that big spending, I transferred the balance onto a zero-interest Citibank card. Now I have a whole year to pay off that amount with no interest rate. But don’t let zero-interest make you lazy. You have to pay it off, because if you don’t within the year, the interest rate will begin to accumulate, and then there’s no point. Citibank continues to offer me these no-APR deals every six months because they want to keep me as a customer, so now I know they are there just in case a financial burden comes up.

If you’re self-employed, put away 20 percent from each paycheck for taxes.

Instagram @chase

I’ve been freelancing full-time for more than 2 years now, and each check I get includes the full amount, meaning I don’t get charged a tax. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to pay taxes on it. So, in order for me to pay taxes on each paycheck, I take out 20 percent of the amount and put it in another account. When it’s time to pay annual taxes, I have my money ready to go.

Make a habit of putting 10 percent of every paycheck into a separate savings account.

Instagram @southbayfinancialpartners

Saving money is difficult, especially if you need every cent of it. If you get into the habit of putting money away the moment you get paid, it will add up and you will be amazed at how quickly that happens. If 10 percent is too much for you, try getting there slowly by putting in at least 5 percent.

Get started on that 401(k).

Instagram @_ladyjavi

Do not plan on social security or that million-dollar business idea to keep you looking fly in your golden years.  Federal social security is slowly becoming nonexistent, and the likelihood of you inventing the next fidget spinner is looking slimmer and slimmer, which means you must start planning for retirement now, on your own terms. One financial institution that can help you make sense of retirement is Fidelity Investments. Honestly, without Fidelity, I never would have started not only a 401(k) tax-advantaged savings account, but I wouldn’t have a small stock portfolio I can occasionally check on.

Start separate savings account for that special thing.

Instagram @adebtfreelife

If you love to travel or buy expensive things that seem unattainable, start separate savings account for that special thing. This account is different from your real savings account because you can use this money for something you truly want. Your primary savings account should be for unexpected expenses like getting laid off, breaking your leg, facing an unexpected car repair, etc. But your secondary savings account is money you can actually use for that special thing. Each week put as much or as little as you can into the account. You’ll actually end up putting more once you see the amount increasing.

Don’t be afraid of having multiple accounts.

Instagram @merch_pay

Having multiple accounts is nothing new. In fact, it’s a thing of the past to just have one checking and one for savings. Most banks require that you have just $50 in the account at all times, which isn’t hard to manage. I have multiple accounts, and it helps to keep track of where my money is going. One account is for taxes, another for savings, and another for that special thing I really want.

Make sure you pay each card ASAP.

Instagram @jackiemckeeverspeaks

Be careful not to overspend. Charge the card for the amount you can pay off. If you’re spending more than you have, you will always get into trouble. If you’re spending a lot, and don’t have enough to pay it back, be sure to then use the transfer balance in order to not get killed by APR on those charges. It’s always safe to never have more than one transfer balance in a year.

Get Mint.

Instagram @mintapp

A helpful app that is useful for sorting out where your money is going is Mint. It tracks your monthly bills, gives you your latest credit score and assists with budgeting. We use so many apps all the time, so why not use one that is actually making your life better and less stressful?

Learn how to party when you don’t have money to go out.

Instagram @discover

There’s a misconception that if you’re living on a budget, you can’t have fun. That’s so untrue! On a recent night out, I asked the bartender how much a shot of tequila cost (about $8). But why buy a shot when you can get a whole bottle for $35? I’m not saying to get drunk in your kitchen, but it can be fun to host gatherings at home — and less expensive. Not only that but if people come over BYOB, it’s likely that you will keep all of the leftovers. So really, it’s a win-win.

Don’t show off on social media.

Instagram @citibank

If your life is trying to keep up with the Kardashians, it may be affecting your wallet. Do you really need every Kylie Lip Kit? Must you truly have that beach front AirBnB just so you can blow up your Instagram? I’m not saying it’s not amazing to treat yourself to cool stuff or travel to the Bahamas during winter break. But, if your spending habits are putting you in debt just so your social media can be on point, is it really worth it? If you can do that splashy stuff and still have money to pay utilities, rent, and groceries, then by all means — enjoy.

Shop thrift.

Instagram @alexasunshine83

Save serious (and I mean serious) money by finding your look at a thrift store. Urban Outfitters, H&M, American Eagle, Forever 21 brands, they’re all at thrift—and often just months or a year after they were at retail.  If you can’t abide sifting through other people’s giveaway items, check out upscale resale shops and consignment stores. My husband and I have found family-heirloom-quality furniture at antique stores and estate sales. The last day of an estate sale, when they’re trying to clear everything out, can be a real score. I know this isn’t for everyone, so take it or leave it. But if you’re really trying to keep that budget in check while living well, this is not a bad strategy.

READ: She Struggled To Pay For College Because She Was Undocumented, So This Latina Created An App To Make The Process Easier For The Next Generation

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below! 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *