How to Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster

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College is expensive. Paying for it is hard. Here’s how to make it easier.

If you borrowed money to pay for that expensive degree, you get a six month grace period, and then it’s time to start paying up!

I gave some tips on my recent financial advice segment on Fox Philly that can help you with managing your student loan payments.

If you’re making a good salary – refinance.

You’ll likely get a lower interest rate, a lower payment and you’ll pay much less of your hard earned cash over the life of the loan.

If you think you’re going to have trouble paying – consolidate

This won’t change your rate, but you can combine all of your loans into one simple payment, and the combined loan will be eligible for programs that the federal government offers like:

 

Income Driven Repayment Plans

You can apply for programs that will cap your payment at 10-20% of your income and may be forgiven after 20-25 years.

Loan Forgiveness

If you work in public service, you may be eligible to have your loans forgiven after 10 years. Some states and other organizations also offer loan forgiveness programs. For example, Pennsylvania offer 100k to doctors who work with underserved populations for two years.

Don’t Change Your Lifestyle Too Quickly

Keep living like a college student for awhile so you can be more aggressive at paying your loan back.

Hold off on making major purchases

Don’t feel like you have to go and buy a big house or a nice car just because there is a degree on the wall.

Best Tip Ever – Focus on Making More Money

All of the above tips will help you when you’re in a bind, but the best way, BY FAR, to pay your student loans back is to have an intense focus on making more money.

Accelerating your path at your company, freelancing on nights and weekendds or starting a business will be much more effective than cutting things out of your budget. There are only so many things you can cut from your spending, but your earning potential is limitless!

For tips on how to start a business to help pay back your student loans, check out my free Expert Empire training here: http://www.expertempire.co

Talking ‘Brexit’ on CNN Newsroom

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You may have never been to the UK, but what just happened there is affecting your money

Brexit.

Hopefully the first time you heard that word wasn’t last Friday when the Dow Jones tanked by 600 points and it suddenly dawned on you that your 401k was dropping too.

Just in case you still haven’t heard the word, Brexit is short for the British exit from the European Union, which was voted for by the citizens of Britain last week.

If world politics isn’t your thing, let’s just say that the Brexit is kinda like Pittsburgh football fans voting for the Steelers to leave the NFL…even though they still want the team to play in NFL games and compete for the Superbowl.

Not quite sure how that would work?

Well, investors aren’t sure how the Brexit is going to work either and when investors are faced with too much uncertainty they sell…everything and a lot of it.

Why is Britain affecting US markets?

We’re more interconnected than you think.

​​​​​​​The folks who pushed for the vote to leave the UK probably did so wearing an Italian suit, a tie from China, driving a car from Japan while eating French Fries.

Large countries all sell things to each other, buy things from each other, invest in each other’s markets, etc.

When something this huge happens abroad, the affect will inevitable trickle down to our investments at home.

Ok, what does this mean for my 401k?

I’m glad you asked.

I had the exciting opportunity to share my thoughts with the entire country on CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield.

Check out the video above for my thoughts on this event and what you should do with your money from here.
 

Rob Wilson & Former 49ers/Raiders CB Shawntae Spencer Discuss His New Wingstop Venture

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I recently had the amazing opportunity to stop by the NBC Pittsburgh studio with my client, former Pitt Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders cornerback Shawntae Spencer to discuss his new Wingstop restaurant franchise venture and how he plans on being successful during his post-NFL career.

Here are some of his thoughts:

 

Do your research on any business opportunity

From the moment Shawntae became interested in Wingstop, we worked together to research the idea thoroughly before he decided to take the leap.  This included hiring a franchise consultant to help analyze the opportunity and to create a solid business plan.

 

Build a solid team with experience in the business

Shanwtae recognized he isn’t (yet) a restaurant expert. Nor is he an expert in construction.  He brought in knowledgable employees and consultants to help get the business off the ground.  Simply throwing money at a business, without the knowledge and expertise on how to effectively spend that money is foolish.

Find a great, growing brand to work with

The fact that Wingstop is a rapidly growing fast casual brand, made the opportunity attractive to Shawntae.  He appreciated the fact that Troy Aikman is the brand ambassador and rapper Rick Ross is a notable franchisee, which obviously helps the national recognition of the brand.

Beyond that, however, Shawntae felt comfortable with management, the simple menu and operational requirements, and ultimately decided to pursue the opportunity to build out the entire Pittsburgh market…and beyond!

 

Will President Obama Tax Your Education Savings? | CNN Newsroom

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Many of you were quite taken aback when you heard about President Obama’s plan to tax the gain in 529 education savings account, and understandably so.

If you’re like a number of my clients, you’ve been saving for your children’s education with the understanding that your withdrawals would be tax free as long as the proceeds were used for qualified education expenses.

So, to hear that the benefit may no longer apply, is a like getting punched in the gut.

But, before we get too upset, let me shed some light on his proposal.

The proposal is unlikely to pass

To get straight to the punchline, the proposal doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in an oven of passing.

With a Republican controlled House and Senate there’s very, very little chance of this proposal passing, particularly since the move is aimed at the rich.  Which brings me to the next point:

 

The proposal isn’t about education, it’s about wealth inequality

The White House says that 70% of the balances in 529 plans are owned by families that make more than 200k, so most of the benefits of the tax break are going to wealthy families that do not need the break to send their kids to college.

Well, wealthy people like tax breaks, so sure, they have taken advantage of it too.  Ironically, the POTUS and FLOTUS contributed a total of $240,000 into 529 plans for their daughters in 2008. Clearly they understand the benefit of the plans for themselves and middle class families.

Seems like a little cutting off your nose to spite your face going on here.

In my opinion, what the president wants the conversation during his last two years in office to be focused on the success, or lack thereof, of middle class families.  And he seems to be succeeding.

When he can get conservatives like Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Mitt “I found a way to stash $100 inside of a tax-deferred IRA account” Romney to acknowledge and discuss wealth inequality, I’d say he’s making good political moves by making them play on his home field.

Ultimately, benefit may be left for some

If the goal truly is for this proposal to go anywhere, there may be a compromise by putting an income limit on the tax break, similar to the limit put on the deduction of student loan interest.

Taxpayers can only deduct interest on their student loans if they earn less than $80,000 or $160,000 if married filing jointly.

It seems logical that if the President truly wants the middle class to get out from underneath the $1 Trillion in student debt they are carrying, he won’t take away the incentive to save your own money to pay for college.

 

Two key questions remain

The debate over this issue is surely not over, and I’ll be sure to update you as it progresses.  But, in my mind, the discussion really raises two important questions:

1) How can we address wealth inequality in a way that doesn’t simultaneously penalize the middle class and,

2) Why is there a seemingly sole focus on college as the means to a successful life? Should we expand our horizons give all of the new tools and technology available for learning in demand skills?

Two important questions indeed.  We’ll tackle those soon.

 

 

Smart Year End Financial Moves

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Don’t be one of those people that shuts down during the holiday season and says, “I’ll get back on it in the new year.”

Keep the momentum going by making these smart financial moves before the ball drops so you can start the new year with a full head of financial steam.

Check out my tips on this segment from NBC10 in Philadelphia.

Step 1 – Minimize Your Taxes

Defer Income & Accelerate Deductions – If you’re fortunate enough to be able to push some of your income into the next year, you’ll lower next’s year’s tax bill.

Obtain Health Insurance – The ACA requires most Americans to be covered by a health insurance policy, or pay a penalty.

Use Your Flex Spending Account – Know your company’s policy, it might be “use it or lose it.”

Donate to Charity – The organization gets much needed resources, and you get a tax deduction.

Step 2 – Review Your Investments

Analyze Your Portfolio – Are you positioned they way you want to be?

Sell Losing Investments – Use your losses to offset other gains, or apply up to $3,000 in losses against your income.

Contribute to your Current 401k – This will reduce your taxable income dollar for dollar.

Roll Over Old 401k Into an IRA – There’s no need to leave it at your old job. Roll it into and IRA and manage it more closely.
Retired or Inherited an Account? Don’t Forget to Take Your Required Minimum Distribution

Step 3 – Maximize Your Income

Review Your Goals – Did you hit your goals this year? What can you do better next year?

Talk to Your Boss – Find out if your boss is happy with your performance. Discuss opportunities for you to earn more next year.

Start Setting January Appointments – Get ahead on your goals for next year by setting appointments with those hard-to-get customers now.

Consider Additional Streams of Revenue – Brainstorm ideas on how you can add at least one additional stream to your income sources. You should never be dependent on one source for all of your income.

My Favorite Financial Things for 2014

2014 brought more great financial things into our lives. Here are a few of my favorites:

Earn More Money:

Turn your car into a taxi with Uber and Lyft
http://www.uber.com
http://www.lyft.com

Turn your house into a hotel with Airbnb
http://www.airbnb.com

Babysit someone’s dog
http://www.dogvacay.com

Save More Money

Borrow money at lower interest rates using peer-to-peer lending
http://www.lendingclub.com

Pay less for healthcare by staying active with the Nike Fuelband

http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/nikeplus-fuelband

Make More Money:

Get access to Wall Street IPOs with Loyal3.com
http://www.loyal3.com

Invest your spare change using Acorns.com
http://ww.acorns.com

Smart Financial Gifts for the Holidays

Gift giving during the holiday season doesn’t have to be all about consumerism.

Here’s my smart list of financial holiday gifts that can be used to help teach your kids about money, help out friends and family, and even give yourself a treat.

How to Win the Game in the 4th Quarter

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Remember how awesome that first quarter drive was in your favorite football team’s 6th game of the season last year?

No? Me either.

But what I do remember is the amazing feeling I had watching my Steelers defeat the Arizona Cardinals in the Superbowl with an amazing pass and catch in the corner of the endzone with :35 remaining in the 4th quarter.

Now THAT’s something to remember.

See, whether it’s in sports or in life, quite often legends are made and championships are won in the 4th quarter.

It’s easy to play hard at the beginning of the game, or work hard at the beginning of the year when you feel like you have a fresh start.

Champions of sport play hard until the final whistle. Champions in life work tirelessly to make their dreams come true while others shut down and say “I’ll get started the first of the year.”

Check out this episode of #MoneyMonday for advice on how to get focused during the final quarter of the year so you can achieve your goals win your game.

How to Spend Less, Make More During the Holiday Season

There’s rabbit season. There’s duck season.  Then there’s assault-on-your-wallet season otherwise known as the holidays.

And though retailers are going to try their best to separate you from your hard earned money during the last few months of the year, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Check out this episode of #MoneyMonday for tips on how to manage your holiday spending plus advice on how to take advantage of other people’s spending to make more money for yourself this time of year.