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The First Steps of Starting a Business

Most people go to college with the end goal of landing a job in their field. They may dream of working for a successful business, becoming a teacher in a large school system, or caring for patients in a well-known hospital. These are vastly different careers, but they have one thing in common – they all involve working for someone else. Often, the idea of starting a new business does not occur to college students and young professionals. The notion of being one’s own boss may sound a little far-fetched to students who, due to the recent recession, are aiming for more practical jobs. However, your younger years may be the prime time to start a business. In your early to mid-twenties, you likely have no mortgage, no children, and more free time to dedicate to your blooming business. If starting a business at your age is feasible, and you desire to pursue a great idea and be your own boss, what is stopping you? Follow the steps below to learn how to begin the process of starting your own business:

  1. Come Up with an Idea

The first step in setting up your own business is to determine how you will generate revenue. Is your business built on products or services? Is your idea unique or will you be entering a highly competitive market? If the idea falls into the latter category, what will be your competitive advantage? Having a solid idea is the first step to building a successful and profitable business.

  1. Develop a Business Plan

The next step is creating a business plan. A business plan is essentially a plan for your business, and it outlines your goals for the future of your business and how you plan to achieve those goals. It is comprised of many topics including your basic concept, funding, mission, values, target market, competitor analyses, strategy, and financial projections. A strong business plan is crucial for the next major step in the business development process — receiving funding.

  1. Prepare Yourself Financially

Different businesses have different financial needs, but even the simplest of businesses may be costly to establish. Your business plan will help you assess where you stand financially and figure out an estimate of how much money your business requires. There are two actions you can take to start your business on the right foot — saving money and earning money.

  • Saving money is an often-overlooked element of setting your business up for success. Many successful entrepreneurs started from scratch and had to make personal financial sacrifices to keep their business afloat. Creating a budget and cutting back on expenses is an effective way to set more money aside for your business. If you are in the process of repaying education loans, consider refinancing and consolidating in order to get a lower interest rate. For more money-saving tips, check out this post. There are so many creative ways to cut back on spending and allocate more money to your business.
  • Earning money for your business can be difficult and time-consuming, depending on the amount of money you need. If you do not have the required amount at first (and most people do not), there are several ways to earn it. You can work part-time, while developing your business, to yield some extra cash. You can ask for financial support from your friends and family or set up a page on a crowdfunding site such as Kickstarter. Another option is getting in touch with investors that may give you financial support in exchange for stock in the company. You can also take out a loan from a bank or government agencies such as The Small Business Administration, which lends money to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Although these three steps are not the only elements in creating a business, they are the hardest and most important. Along with ideas, business plans, financial and legal factors, marketing, and more, starting a business requires risk-taking, passion, and hard work. It is not easy, but it is exciting, dynamic, and often worth the risk.


Top 6 Financial Independence Blogs to Read

Advice from 11 Financial Gurus

Receiving sound financial advice can change a person’s world, and fortunately, there is no shortage of advice from people who have already lived through and learned how to successfully navigate the financial waters. In fact, simply seeking financial advice can be one of the easiest ways to learn how to save money, pay off debts (like student loans) early, save for the future, or generate enough money for fun expenses.

To help you along your financial journey, we have rounded up information from some of the most well-known and well-loved financial gurus on the planet. Please keep in mind that even as well-known authorities in their field, each person’s advice — or simply their delivery style — may not be for everyone. Therefore, even with different, overlapping, or similar financial philosophies (and their delivery methods), it is ultimately up to each reader to decide which style or kind of advice rings true.

In this quick guide, readers will find eleven of the most well-known financial advisors, accompanied by a quick biography, at least one of their most defining, bestselling financial advice books, and possibly some insightful advice.

11 Financial Gurus

(In Alphabetical Order)

  1. Gary Belsky

Gary Belsky is a columnist for Time.com, the author of several books, and a frequent lecturer to business and consumer groups on the psychology of decision-making. Belsky was a regular commentator on CNN’s Your Money and a frequent contributor to various well-known talk shows and radio programs. He is the former editor-in-chief for ESPN The Magazine and ESPNInsider.com, as well as a former writer at Money magazine, and a former reporter for Crain’s New York Business and the St. Louis Business Journal. In 1990, Belsky won the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, administered by The Anderson School at UCLA.

Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them: Lessons From the Life-Changing Science of Behavioral Economics

This book, which Belsky co-authored, explores how informed people might make more rational investment decisions through behavioral economics. Money magazine describes it as: “A terrific introduction to the emerging science of behavioral finance.” Looking for financial advice from Gary Belsky? Look to psychology and behavioral economics.

  1. James M. Dahle, MD

James M. Dahle, MD, is a full-time, emergency medicine physician. After trusting a lot of the wrong people and getting ripped off repeatedly, he started The White Coat Investor, a blog that offers doctors and other high-income professionals advice on personal finance and investing. Since its inception of May 2011, the blog has grown into the most widely-read physician-specific personal finance and investing website in the world, and 95 percent of the advice is actually applicable to anybody.

The White Coat Investor: A Doctor’s Guide to Personal Finance and Investing

Dahle’s book, which followed two years after the blog, responds to the trickiest questions and financial dilemmas shared by thousands of people, especially those in the medical field. His book is considered a high-yield manual that specifically deals with the financial issues facing medical students, residents, physicians, dentists, and similar high-income professionals. The White Coat Investor fills in the gaps and teaches readers what they received little to no training in: business, personal finance, investing, insurance, taxes, estate planning, asset protection, and more. This book is considered great for financial learners of all levels and contains physician-specific tips that cannot be found in other financial books. Extra financial advice from James M. Dahle can be found in this expert interview from Mint.com.

  1. Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D

Wayne W. Dyer is the author of over 40 books — including 21 New York Times bestsellers — related to self-help, finances, development, and spiritual growth. “His main message was that every person has the potential to live an extraordinary life,” and each person can reach their deepest desires by consciously honoring their “highest self,” clarifying their goals, and using their gifts. This message was applied to several books, including these related to finances:


Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life


Originally published in 1976, this first book acts as a positive and practical guide for breaking free from the trap of negative thinking or self-destructive patterns, and to instead enjoy life to the fullest. The “erroneous zones” are whole facets of a person’s approach to life that act as barriers to success and happiness. These zones are targeted so readers can learn to become self-reliant, as well as change and manage how much they will let difficult times, people, needs vs. wants, self-image, and more affect them.


It’s Not What You‘ve Got!: Lessons for Kids on Money and Abundance


The concepts presented in this illustrated book include: Money does not define who you are, it doesn’t matter what others have, and abundance comes in many forms. “It’s Not What You’ve Got is not a how-to manual on spending and saving for kids, but rather a positive, spiritual approach to the meaning of money.”


Financial Tip From Wayne W. Dyer:


“If you want to be financially independent by the time you’re 30 years old, pay yourself first…When you get your paycheck, take a percentage — between 10 percent and 30 percent — and put that away…You’ll be rich enough to be financially independent within a short period of time.”


  1. Neale S. Godfrey

Neale S. Godfrey is an acknowledged expert on family and children’s finances and is considered the creator of the topic of “kids and money” in the United States. Her main goal is to help people raise financially responsible children and grandchildren by providing learning opportunities through life circumstances. To help people achieve this, she has written 27 books and created three, free iOS money games, all of which are related to financial education and empowering families and their kids to take financial responsibility. Her work has received numerous literary awards, and she has spoken on numerous well-known talk shows. Neale S. Godfrey opened The First Children’s Bank at FAO Schwarz in 1988 and was also part of the Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship in Harlem. Godfrey then created the Green$treets kids cartoon characters in order to entertain and educate kids about money.


Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children


Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees is considered the book parents turn to when teaching their children about money, as it offers concrete examples on everything from responsible budgeting to understanding the differences between “wants” and “needs.” The book itself is targeted at children and young adults of all ages, and the newly revised edition has sections that discuss the power of the internet, the tactics of television advertisers, and the world of eBay.


  1. George Kinder

George Kinder, a Harvard-trained, certified financial planner and tax advisor, is internationally recognized as the father of the Life Planning movement and is the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning.


The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life


This book is intended to help readers discover a powerful new way to look at their money and their life, including questions surrounding personal attitudes about money and how these factors influence lives. The book attempts to help readers approach financial issues with honesty, and without fear, so that they can gain peace, freedom, and security.


Life Planning for You


This book is considered an inspiring step-by-step description of “how life planning, either as a self-help phenomenon or as a global movement in financial services, transforms people’s lives.” Along with personal stories, the book allows readers to access the skills necessary to life plan for themselves, as well as find financial advisers they can genuinely trust.


Financial Advice from George Kinder:


“It’s about the meaning, not the money. If my investing is not really deeply tied to what I think is most important in my life [then] the asset allocation, the estate plan, the retirement plan might as well be thrown out the window.” Furthermore, “hire a registered life planner [a financial planner with additional training in helping clients identify and reach life goals] to help you through this, [as they are] trained in how to elicit from a client what is meaningful and how to keep their eyes on the prize.”


  1. Robert Kiyosaki

Robert Kiyosaki is an investor, self-help author, educator, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, financial literacy activist, financial commentator, and radio personality. He is best known as the author of the #1 personal finance book of all time (Rich Dad Poor Dad), but is also well-known for his part in the co-creation of the CASHFLOW® board game, founding the financial education-based Rich Dad Company, his appearances on several well-known talk shows, and as the author of various financial books. While Kiyosaki often conveys perspectives on money and investing that contradict conventional wisdom, he has earned a respected reputation for his form of financial straight talk.


Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

This #1 personal finance book of all time tells the story of Robert Kiyosaki and his two dads — his real father and the father of his best friend (“his rich dad”). In the book, both men shape his thoughts about money and investing, proving that a person does not need to earn a high income to be rich. The book also intends to explain the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.


Unfair Advantage: The Power of Financial Education


This book takes a hard look at the factors that impact people from all walks of life as they struggle to change and challenge the confines and preconceptions that impact their financial world. Readers are advised to push aside the belief that they are ‘disadvantaged’ people with limited options, and are instead encouraged to take actionable steps to move beyond what they believe are limited options. Included are actionable steps that any individual can take to move beyond their current financial situation or way of thinking.


Financial Advice From Robert Kiyosaki:


“My rich dad gave me lots of advice. One of the better ones: There’s good debt and bad debt. Bad debt is debt you have to pay for and makes you poor. If I use credit cards to buy new shoes, it makes me poor. Good debt makes me rich and someone else pays for it.” One example: “I’m closing on a $17 million property and financing $14 million. That $14 million is good debt. It makes me richer every month by putting $20,000 in my pocket.”


  1. Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is an author at Small Business Trends (along with an editor and contributing author to several other sites), the President and Founder of GrowBiz Media, and a nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, she was an Editorial Director of Entrepreneur magazine. She has appeared on hundreds of radio and talk shows and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. Along with her six year service to the Small Business Administration’s National Council, Rieva Lesonsky was honored by the Small Business Administration as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate. In 2003, she was inducted into the Business Journalism Hall of Fame.


Start Your Own Business: The Only Startup Book You’ll Ever Need


This book, written by Lesonsky and the editors of Entrepreneur magazine, has helped hundreds of thousands of readers start their own businesses. The sixth edition features amended chapters on choosing a business, adding partners, getting funded, managing the business structure and employees, and also provides ways to understand information and legalities related to the latest tax and healthcare reform.


Startup 101: Quick Tips for Starting a Business


This ebook contains all the insider advice needed to form a startup business, including: secrets, shortcuts, and smart ideas to help get any business up and running—fast!


  1. Peter Navarro Ph.D

Peter Navarro holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and has been a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California-Irvine for more than 20 years. He is a distinguished author, keynote speaker, corporate trainer, and has appeared frequently on various well-known financial talk, news, and radio shows. He also often produces investment videos for thestreet.com. His business-related books, among others, are listed here.


Financial Advice from Peter Navarro:


“Take every piece of advice you get from any investment adviser with a barrel of salt. Most are trying to sell you things you probably don’t need or want. Think for yourself.”


  1. Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is a nationally recognized, best-selling author, radio host, television personality, and motivational speaker. His show and writings strongly focus on encouraging people to get out of debt and save money along the way. After rebounding from a financial crash of his own, Dave Ramsey formed Ramsey Solutions in 1992 (to counsel those hurting from the results of financial stress), followed by his first book (Financial Peace) and the local radio show called The Money Game, which is now nationally syndicated as The Dave Ramsey Show. After six bestselling books, the 400+ members of Ramsey Solutions are continuously coming up with ways to help people reach their financial goals.


The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness


Dave Ramsey’s seven, organized, and easy-to-follow steps are aimed at leading the reader out of debt and into a total money makeover.


Financial Advice From Dave Ramsey:


“A friend of mine who is a billionaire told me he reads a book to his grandkids and I should read that book. The book is ‘The Tortoise and the Hare.’ Every time he reads the book, the tortoise wins. Slow and steady wins the race, and consistency matters. Get-rich-quick never wins…If you try to impress other people, you’ll lose the wealth race, as well,” Ramsey says. “It’s a reminder to somebody like me to keep me in check. It has implications for debt, mutual funds, budgets — an overlay for everything.”


  1. Thomas J. Stanley Ph.D

Thomas J. Stanley was a highly regarded authority on America’s affluent and wealthy. He wrote over 40 books on the subject, several of which were award winning and New York Times’ bestsellers. Dr. Stanley made appearances on several well-known talk shows, is cited in several well-respected journals and news reports, and served as chairman of the Affluent Market Institute, which develops research-based marketing and selling strategies for identifying, attracting, and retaining wealthy clients.


Author: The Millionaire Next Door


This bestselling book identifies and chronicles the seven most common traits and patterns that frequently show up among those who have accumulated wealth…and they are not always what others might assume. This newest edition (since 1998) includes a new foreword for the twenty-first century by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley.


  1. Suze Orman

Suze Orman is a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host for the Suze Orman Show, a New York Times bestselling author, a magazine and online columnist, a writer/producer, a motivational speaker, one of the most well-known experts on personal finance, and the winner of numerous awards. Suze Orman’s philosophy is “People first. Then money. Then things.”


The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke


This book was written to address the specific financial realities that young people face today. In essence, it is “Generation Debt” and “Generation Broke’s” cry for help. Those who are part of this “young, fabulous, and broke” generation will find the following contents especially helpful: a personalized action planner, step-by-step instructions to improve financial futures, an interactive online community to share thoughts and questions, ongoing advice from Suze, and free online resources.


The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying


This personal finance classic changes the way readers think, feel, and act about money by approaching money from both a spiritual and an emotional point of view. Suze Orman’s advice leads readers through nine simple steps to reclaim their power and embrace her philosophy: you are worth more than your money.


Financial Advice and Continued Learning

Becoming a financially independent individual may take some time and plenty of research, but it is well worth the effort. The good news is that when you start with sound advice, strategic help, and personal education, the journey towards financial success can be much smoother and shorter. At Education Loan Finance, we hope that you (and your family) are able to find the perfect financial guru for your long-term financial plans.


How Much Of Your Income Should Go Toward Rent?


Disclaimer: Any information shared on ELFI.com does not constitute financial advice. This blog and website are intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. Readers are advised to discuss specific plans with independent financial advisers and lenders. This website has not been compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs, or otherwise.

9 Questions to Ask During the Student Loan Refinancing Process

Updated December 20, 2019
  1. Research student loan refinancing and loan consolidation. Check.
  2. Pay off credit card debt and increase credit score. Check.
  3. Reduce debt-to-income ratio. Check.
  4. Compile financial paperwork. Check.


Every student loan holder has a checklist — whether it is a mental or a paper list — that is intended to help them successfully obtain a newly refinanced loan and save money. This checklist is usually comprised of items and actions required to apply for student loan refinancing and obtain the best interest rates and terms. During this process, borrowers tend to become more aware of their financial landscape, which can be highly beneficial, but applicants can sometimes forget to ask some very pertinent questions regarding their new, soon-to-be refinanced student loan package. That is why we believe it is time for borrowers to start asking the right questions, to become more informed, and obtain the best deal in their refinanced student loan offer.


Ensure Your Needs Are Met by Asking Lenders the Following Questions:


What will my new term be?

Lenders typically offer repayment terms anywhere from five to twenty years. It is imperative that borrowers understand that while longer terms may mean smaller monthly payments, the additional interest spread over a longer loan-life creates a higher overall cost of the loan. Borrowers should, therefore, carefully weigh how much they can really afford to pay each month and then assess what a feasible loan term would be.


Is the interest rate variable or fixed?

Fixed interest rates eliminate the risk of loan interest rates rising during the life of a loan, but they also eliminate the possibility of them dropping (as they can with a variable rate). There are benefits and downfalls to each type of interest rate, so borrowers will have to decide and ask for guidance on which type of rate is best for them.


What are the other terms of repayment?

Remove all the surprises of repayment by asking specific details about the time and way in which payment is due. These questions could include:

  • What will monthly payments be?
  • When does repayment start?
  • Are there fees for late or missed payments? What are those fees?
  • What processes exist for payments (online, in person, over-the-phone)?

With Education Loan Finance, borrowers never pay application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties.*


Is there an origination fee?

A student loan origination fee is the amount that a lender will tack onto a loan for paying off a loan from another banking resource. For example, in order to pay off a $20,000 loan in the borrower’s name, a lender may add up to two percent to the refinance loan, making the new loan $20,400. If there is an origination fee, calculate how much the fee adds to the life of the loan. With Education Loan Finance, borrowers never pay application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties.


What are the loan requirements?

In general, most lenders typically look for borrowers with a credit score that is above 680 and a debt-to-income ratio of less than forty-five percent. For the best options, borrowers should attempt to align themselves with these figures before applying for student loan refinancing and/or consolidation. However, we recommend contacting your preferred institution — including us — for specific details.


What is the minimum or maximum amount that can be refinanced?

With Education Loan Finance, borrowers must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt to be eligible for refinancing. Maximum refinancing amounts are at the lender’s discretion and are typically determined by the borrower’s education level and schooling, debt-to-income ratio, and credit score. Keep in mind that each lender will be different with their minimum and maximum allowances.


What happens to my federal student loans? What will change?

Student loans that are refinanced with Education Loan Finance are consolidated into one loan, with one monthly payment. This means that if federal student loans are included in this package, the loan may lose special protections and benefits. Federal loans are not required to be included in a refinancing package, but if they are included for the ease of one monthly payment, borrowers must make sure they understand what will change and what benefits may be lost.


Is my degree or school eligible?

Some banks and financial institutions have restrictions on which type of degrees and what schools are eligible for educational loans. In Education Loan Finance’s case, applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from one of these approved post-secondary institutions.


Are there any special benefits associated with the lender?

Along with unique rates and terms, some lenders offer special incentives, like referral programs. These referral programs offer cash for referring new clients to the lender. Check out Education Loan Finance’s referral program here.


Ask Us – We Are Here to Help

Now that you are armed with these questions, you can confidently find the best student refinancing loan — along with the best student loan refinancing lender — for your financial situation. Our team of Personal Loan Advisors would love to answer your questions about student loan refinancing. We want you to feel comfortable and confident with your financial and refinancing decisions.

9 Signs It’s Time to Refinance



*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.


Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

What To Consider Before Buying Life Insurance

Updated December 12, 2019


Life insurance is not a typical subject that we consider when mapping out our future finances. However, if something were to happen to you as the primary breadwinner, you should think about the benefits of securing your family’s and your loved ones’ financial future.

Life insurance helps ensure that your beneficiaries — and those who are financially dependent upon you — are well taken care of, but also, that your expenses and debts, like certain student loans, are covered. While financially protecting a person’s family is possibly the most widely thought of reason to purchase life insurance, it is also important to note that life insurance is also commonly purchased by those wishing to protect a person’s business or, for those with higher-net-worth, protect heirs from hefty taxes.


While there are many factors in determining whether you should buy life insurance, the following are probably the most essential.


How Much Life Insurance Coverage Will You Need?

To do this, you will need to estimate your current financial situation, and then try to consider how much your loved ones will need in the future. According to NerdWallet, “you should find your ideal life insurance policy amount by calculating your long-term financial obligations and then subtracting your assets. The remainder is the gap that life insurance will have to fill.” Long-term financial obligations may include accounting for a multiplied figure of your annual income, childcare or education expenses for any children, your debts, and any student loan debts that may not be discharged. For more tips, visit NerdWallet’s blog: How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?


Which Policy Type and What Duration?

There are two major types of life insurance: term life and permanent life (which includes whole life, universal life, and variable life). Term life provides coverage for a specific time period — typically 5, 10, 20, or 30 years — and if the policy is invoked within the term (and your premiums are paid up), your beneficiaries receive the payout amount. Permanent life insurance policies, on the other hand, cover you for your entire life and may include a “cash value” or investment component.Most consumers choose term life insurance, as it not only covers you for a set amount of time, but it is often the cheapest option among all life insurance policy types. Certain financial advisors (Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, and The White Coat Investor), hoping to steer their younger readers toward financial independence, will warn consumers against permanent life insurance. Instead, they encourage readers to only buy term life insurance (long-term or long enough to cover your longest financial obligation), with the idea that as you get older and become financially independent through work, paying off debts, and sound investments, you will not need to protect your family with life insurance. Plus, there is the belief that permanent life insurance is too expensive for the kind of coverage you may receive. There are, however, some whose situations may benefit from permanent life insurance, which Larry McClanahan says may include: business succession, estate equalization, additional tax-sheltered savings, and life and long-term care combinations. Be sure to talk to a trusted financial advisor, without any financial interest in life insurance, for more information on your specific needs.


Apply and Submit Health Information

To receive a quote, the application process involves submitting basic information about yourself, your health, and your lifestyle. This will likely include questions about your medical conditions, medications, family history, smoking habits, participation in extreme sports, and more. Health records and medical exams may need to be released, and a medical exam may need to be administered.


Maintaining Your Policy

After you apply, are approved, and buy your life insurance policy, it is imperative that you pay your premiums on time, every month. Otherwise, your policy will be canceled. The easiest way to avoid a missed payment is to set up automatic payments with your checking account. The only other thing you will need to do is update your coverage as life events change (buying a new home, getting married, having children, etc.).


There is a lot to consider when it comes to life insurance, so take the time to calculate your long-term financial obligations, and find the plan, policy, price, and company that serve your loved ones best. In certain cases, these financial obligations will include student loan debts. The ability for your student loan debts to be passed on to someone else will depend on the type of student loan you have, the state you live in if you have a cosigner, and more.


Click to View Our Simple Guide to Student Loan Refinancing 


Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

Budgeting Tips: Restaurants vs. Dining In

Restaurants vs. Dining In – When deciding about whether to eat at a restaurant or to cook at home, many people immediately think about the health benefits of home cooking. Preparing your meals at home obviously allows you to control calories and limit indulgent ingredients, but it can also be healthier for your budget — and your waistline.

When most of us are trying to save money, we look to monitoring the thermostat, trying to use less gasoline, and probably cutting back on shopping or non-essentials. However, many people underestimate just how much money can be saved by sacrificing a few delicious meals at your favorite restaurant, and instead, opting to cook those meals at home.

A popular excuse for eating out is that many fast food chains and restaurants offer inexpensive meal options, while shopping for fresh ingredients or “healthy food” can be expensive. While both of those statements can be valid, it is commonly overlooked that most groceries are purchased in bulk, which can provide multiple healthy meals when prepared and stored properly. It is here that the savings related to at-home cooking really become noticeable. In fact, award-winning author Leanne Brown has created an entire cookbook in which she helps foodies eat well on a budget. Her methodology revolves around the $4 per day food budget, or, $1.33 per meal. While this sounds extreme, think about it this way: the average American spends $232 per month dining out, at an average cost of $12.75 per meal, making the $4 daily food budget seem like a real bargain.

If you are serious about budgeting, then you need to take a look at your dining habits.

Recently, researchers at The Boston Globe took it upon themselves to determine whether eating out was truly cheaper than cooking for yourself at home. They compared a steak dinner at Outback Steakhouse to cooking a steak dinner at home, with the same starter and sides. They found that after shopping for ingredients and replicating the meal, the at-home cost was just $11.84, compared to $23.84 at Outback. Furthermore, the ingredients purchased for the at-home test allowed the consumers to make soup and salad for the rest of the week.

Here are some useful tips for saving even more money when cooking at home — without losing any of the taste:

  1. Cook the right portions for your lifestyle. Some people love leftovers and focus on weekend meal prep. Others hate leftovers and always seem to end up throwing food away. Understand what type of person you are and what your food preferences are before you buy ingredients or begin to cook. You can always divide and freeze uncooked portions from bulk packages of pricier items, such as proteins.
  2. Plan your meals. Go to the grocery store with a list and only plan to purchase what you know you are going to use.
  3. Do not shop when you are hungry. We have all done this at some point, and it never fails to lead to cravings and impulse buys.
  4. Buy generic instead of national brands. With this route, you nearly always save money on quality food, as food manufacturers have to follow the same standards as national brands. Taste tests show that private label store brands often perform as well as their name brand counterparts, so it’s worth giving them a try.
  5. Stock up on sales. When staples go on sale (especially ones that can be frozen or are non-perishable), buy in bulk and save a little money.
  6. Buy in-season food. Produce that is not in-season often has to be transported long distances to get to your store, which is not good for the environment or your budget. In-season foods are often fresher, taste better, and are usually cheaper.
  7. Learn about seasoning and spices. Do you have a specific restaurant dish that you’re craving? Not only can you often find copycat recipes online that deliver results close to the original, but in the process, you’ll also learn how to combine different seasoning and spices to create your own signature dishes.

Ultimately, you do not have to sacrifice delicious food when you are on a budget. Restaurants can be expensive and, as a result, can make budgeting more challenging. However, if you focus on planning your meals effectively and shopping with a plan, you can enjoy all the flavor at a fraction of the price.


5 Financial Mistakes to Avoid

5 Reasons to Refinance Your Student Loans in 2019

Updated December 12, 2019


2019 is proving to be one of the most opportune times to refinance student loans. To explain why, our experts in student loan refinancing and debt consolidation have compiled the top five reasons why borrowers should take advantage of current interest rates and refinance student loans as soon as possible:


1. Reduced Interest Rates

Current interest rates for student loans may be much lower than when the loan was opened. Therefore, refinancing while rates are low helps ensure that borrowers pay less in interest and over the life of their loan. Borrowers should, therefore, take advantage of lower, more desirable rates while they are offered, as they could change — and rise — at any time.


2. Lower Monthly Payments

Modifying the repayment term of a student loan by extending the years of repayment may allow borrowers to enjoy lower monthly payments. For instance, if a borrower has already paid five years of a ten-year repayment term, he or she may be able to refinance the outstanding amount to ten or fifteen more years, thereby lowering their monthly payment amount. Borrowers should, however, avoid the temptation to extend the term too much, as longer terms generally increase the overall cost of the loan. Make sure to assess each plan and figure out what makes the best financial sense — right now and in the future.


3. Benefits Associated with Removing the Co-Signer

Refinancing student loans may allow borrowers to release any co-signers from the loan — an action that can be beneficial to both parties. For co-signers, this releases them from future financial responsibility to that loan, and it may also assist them in improving their own financial profile by reducing the amount of debt in their name.  Furthermore, when a co-signer is released from a student loan,  primary student loan holders may see an increase in their credit score.


4. Easy-To-Manage Accounts

When student loans are refinanced with refinancing institutions such as Education Loan Finance, the loans are consolidated into one, easy-to-manage loan. This helps borrowers eliminate any confusion related to having multiple balances, due dates, and payment amounts.


5. Gain a Financial Advocate

Just as in any industry, the level of customer service among banks and lenders varies from one company to another. When considering refinancing with any lending institution, borrowers should research and compare each lending institution’s ability to help customers with any issues regarding their student loan refinancing package. In order to maintain a happy, working relationship, borrowers should talk to the company itself and look for customer reviews that describe the company as one that works for the client, is informative, hard-working, dependable, friendly, and flexible. The personal loan advisors at Education Loan Finance specialize in student loans, and we provide our borrowers with information so they can determine the best solution for their budgets.


Refinance Your Student Loans

Graduates and professionals alike have always worked hard to obtain their college and professional degrees. That is why Education Loan Finance’s mission includes helping former students better manage and possibly lower the costs associated with their student loans. Saving that money starts today, and the sooner borrowers begin to assess their loans and find a smarter plan, the more money they can save right now — and in the future. Check out Education Loan Finance’s innovative student loan refinancing solutions or apply today.*



*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.


Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

3 Student Loan Refinancing Topics That Need a Second Look

Updated December 12, 2019


Many students will agree that student loans are a welcomed and often necessary part of the financial aid package when pursuing higher education – but most graduates don’t look forward to entering the repayment phase. 


Fortunately, student loan refinancing programs help borrowers by combining one or more federal and private student loans into a single loan with new terms – a new monthly payment amount, new repayment terms, and expectedly a lower interest rate. With the many positives of student loan refinancing — all of which may help borrowers save money during their repayment period — there are also some lesser-known topics that borrowers should always keep in mind when researching their refinancing options. Here are three things to never overlook when thinking about refinancing your student loans.


1. Always Research the Best Options:

Student loan refinancing programs should be given just as much consideration as the school in which you attended when said loans were created. Like choosing the wrong school, selecting the wrong refinancing program can be detrimental. Simply put, performing an internet search for “student loan refinancing” is not enough to obtain the terms needed to save money. You should thoroughly compare student loan refinancing lenders. There are hundreds of financial institutions, and with so many programs to consider, it is extremely important to find a program that is going to work for you and your budget. The best way for you to ensure that the lending institution is leading you in the right direction — and doing what is right for you and your budget — is to do research and ask questions. 


Start by making sure you understand the repayment terminology, and then investigate the company. Look for reviews (Trustpilot is a great resource for reviews) and call the lending institution to ask questions. At the very least, lenders must be credible and reputable, but they should also be available to thoroughly answer all of your questions. Finally, if you choose to refinance your loans, make sure you understand exactly what you have to gain or lose with each. Do this, and you are on your way to protecting your wallet and your financial independence.


2. Always Weigh the Implications of Refinancing Federal Student Loans:

Refinancing student loans with a private lender involves student loan consolidation, which means multiple student loans (federal and private) are combined into a single loan, with a single monthly payment. This newly refinanced student loan will have new terms, a potentially lower interest rate, a new monthly payment amount, and/or a new repayment length. See the benefits of refinancing student loans here


Before this process takes place, however, it is especially important to understand exactly what changes will take place if you choose to include any or all of your federal loans into the refinancing package, as refinancing a federal loan may nullify federal student loan protections, such as public service forgiveness and income-based repayment plans. With this in mind, and given that many private lenders are willing to offer similar benefits to help their clients remain in good standing, some people still choose to include federal loans in the refinanced package simply to create a single, more convenient repayment plan.


3. Always Compare Fixed and Variable Interest Rates:

When considering student loan refinancing, borrowers commonly forget to compare their options regarding the two types of interest rates on loans — fixed interest and variable interest rates.

  • Variable rates change over time based on current financial and economic conditions, including the current LIBOR rate. They can do so at any time in the financial climate, thereby affecting the interest applied to a loan. Variable interest rates will often start lower than fixed interest rates, but there is always the possibility that, as they fluctuate, they will rise and cause an increase in monthly payments.
  • Fixed rates, on the other hand, maintain the interest rate that was agreed upon in the initial contract, and remain at that rate over the life of the loan. With a fixed-rate loan, borrowers are protected against the possibility of rising interest rates during the entire repayment period.


Choose the Right Program

Finding the right student loan refinancing program (along with agreeable terms and rates) can be time-consuming and daunting, especially for first-time refinancers. However, understanding your options is the best way to obtain a firm grasp on your finances and find the best refinancing loan possible. If you need any assistance, Education Loan Finance’s refinancing experts and management team — with over thirty years of experience in the student loan industry — will gladly help!*



*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.


Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

5 Ways to Reduce Medical School Debt

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 2015-2016 figures show that U.S. medical students with medical school debt have, on average, $180,723 of medical school-related debt (in 2019 the average is $196,520).This debt comes from public and private medical schools with median, four-year costs of $232,838 and $306,171, respectively. Medical school graduates, both those accepted or failing to find acceptance into a residency program, usually have a tough time repaying these loans, as yearly residency stipends (or income) are estimated to begin around $52,200 and end around $58,100 for the first and fourth years of residency. It is not until medical residents graduate from residency and move onto their first clinical or hospital job (usually as old as age 30) that they begin to earn what is considered traditional physician wages. However, along with these wages comes the ability — and requirement — to repay larger sums of their hefty student loan debts.


Updated December 12, 2019


Unfortunately, student loan debt associated with a medical school will likely continue to rise, but there are ways to battle these ever-increasing costs, thereby ensuring that these hard-earned degrees remain a good investment and continue to attract quality applicants.


Expert Recommendations to Effectively Repay Medical School Loans:


1. Apply the Sign-On Bonus Towards Loans

Many healthcare agencies, clinics, and hospitals offer physicians sign-on bonuses when hired. An easy way to significantly reduce medical school loan debt figures — and the associated interest — is to apply all or a good portion of this bonus towards student loan repayment. For instance, a lump sum of $25,000 could help reduce the interest amount as well as remove an entire year’s worth of loan payments. Keep in mind that some portion of the sign-on bonus may need to be used to pay for moving expenses (if separate moving expense coverages are not negotiated), any licensing or certification expenses, or simply saving for future tax payments.


2. Consider the Practice Area/Negotiate Loan Repayment

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a number of states offer loan repayment programs when medical professional contracts to work in underserved areas — medically underserved or simply rural areas. With a variety of loan repayment opportunities available, it is important to look for a program that meets a physician’s geographic and service-oriented goals. For example, physicians who are interested in helping medically underserved areas, which may include larger cities, may want to look into programs such as the National Health Service Corps. On the other hand, physicians who are interested in practicing in a rural area should look into state-specific rural health partnerships, some which may offer a stipend (in addition to the residency income) during residency. To receive this extra income, without repayment, applicants must agree to work in an assigned area after residency and for a certain amount of time. Physicians aiming to work in other areas may still be able to negotiate some contractual form of loan repayment along with the sign-on bonus — just be sure to ask!

Learn More About Education Loan Finance for Business


3. Join the Military for Residency or as a Practicing Physician

The Navy is known to offer its medical residents a four-year annual grant of $45,000, in addition to residency income. This grant, used each year during a four-year program, effectively pays off $180,000 in debt in a relatively short amount of time, especially when compared to medical residents in the civilian world. Additionally, the military pays a stipend of more than $2,000 a month (for 48 months) for living expenses on top of an average resident salary of $50,000 per year. In return for this financial assistance, physicians will owe service to the military, which may include 3-5 years of active duty and several years in the reserves.

For practicing physicians (those who have graduated from residency), the Navy offers significant sign-on bonuses ($220,000-$400,000), all of which depend on qualification, the physician’s specialty, and service requirements. For more information, review the details on the Navy Financial Assistance Program (FAP).


4. Consider Student Loan Refinancing Programs

Holding multiple student loans, both private and federal, can be confusing and expensive. Refinancing medical school loans into one refinanced and consolidated loan offers a great opportunity to reduce interest rates, monthly payments, or terms. For the best offer from a lender such as Education Loan Finance, be sure to keep all forms of credit in good standing: make regular payments and never default on student loans. Furthermore, applicants with a higher credit score are more likely to be offered lower interest rates with the refinanced loan, thereby saving thousands over the life of the loan.


5. Live Like a Resident

During residency years, physicians learn to live on very little. To quickly reduce and pay off medical school loans and gain financial independence, physicians should consider creating a budget that is more typical of a resident. Once a physician starts making significantly higher wages, if he or she continues to live on a resident’s budget — and with very little unnecessary expenses — he or she will likely be able to pay off medical school loans much faster, which means they can finally start saving for vacations, investments, and possibly [early] retirement.


Need Help Managing Medical School Debt?

The team of lenders at Education Loan Finance is specialized in working with college graduates who have accumulated higher amounts of debt – particularly medical professionals and physicians – to pursue advanced degrees. Education Loan Finance’s personal loan advisors will be happy to assist you in choosing a repayment plan that best aligns with your financial goals. Contact an Education Loan Finance representative today by calling 1-844-601-ELFI.*


10 Facts About Student Loans That Will Save You Money 



*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.


Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.