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Work Life Balance (Blog or Resources)

Why Do Employees Leave?

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Today’s tight labor market and frequent employee turnover are challenging U.S. employers to view company cultures with a critical eye. A report by the Work Institute found that some 42 million (one in four) employees would leave their jobs in 2018. What is the cost of replacing so many experienced people in an organization? According to the report, last year’s “employee churn” costs hovered at $600 billion—a figure that could increase to $680 billion by 2020. Of further concern to companies is the growing realization that young team members are most inclined to move on after a relatively short period of employment. In a recent survey, 59% of respondents felt they should begin looking for a new position after only one to two years on a job. Older employees continuing to work past retirement age or re-entering the workforce are adding stability to many companies, but the turnover trend has serious implications for the long haul. Why are employees leaving and what can employers do to stem the tide? Data gathered by HR organizations and research firms reveal some interesting trends about motivating and retaining current and future employees.

 

Top 4 Reasons Employees Leave a Company

The current employee shortage has upended traditional hiring models. Companies are racing to reshape their corporate cultures and embrace the values of a more limited workforce. Although improved pay and benefits packages continue to be important, these four workplace problems are the leading reasons why employees pick up—and move on.

 

  • Not enough work-life balance. Team members value their time and don’t want employers to waste it. Their enthusiasm and performance will wane if they are weighed down with busy work and meaningless meetings. Younger employees appreciate flexible schedules, the ability to work from home, and a workload that is challenging without spilling over into personal time.
  • Poor management. Supervisors who are unable to engage their employees or unwilling to help them grow by providing positive feedback are commonly cited as reasons to leave. Today’s professionals respond to personal interaction and appreciate public shout-outs and ancillary rewards like gift cards, tickets, and free meal vouchers.
  • Lack of recognition & career advancement. Employees who excel like to be recognized for their extra effort. They also need to see a clear pathway for furthering their careers. Today’s staff members expect companies to help them grow professionally while providing access to career development and mentorship programs.
  • No company engagement. When a company does not have (or cannot properly communicate) its goals and values, employees lack a shared sense of purpose. Businesses fostering a sense of community are better able to inspire, engage, and retain employees.

 

Create a Satisfying Workplace to Keep Valuable Team Members

In many ways, today’s workforce is looking for the same type of job satisfaction as high performers of past generations. Respect, appreciation for a job well-done, opportunities for advancement, challenging work, and monetary rewards still lead to employee satisfaction and engagement. According to Gallup research, 34% of employees are engaged at work, but 53% are not engaged and likely to leave a job for another offer. To involve these employees and access their potential, employers are putting greater emphasis on corporate culture assets like these:

 

  • Relevant workplaces with a clear mission & shared values
  • New-hires who contribute to the corporate community
  • Greater creative freedom & autonomy for staff when possible
  • Updated technology to support performance
  • Employee input as valuable business partners

 

Learn More About The Act Regarding Student Loans and Employers

 

Student Loan Benefits Appeal to Workers of All Ages

Many young employees begin their careers with a heavy burden of student loan debt. They worry about the monthly toll payments will take on their starting salary. Will they have enough money to travel, buy a home, or start a family? Worries about student debt repayment are not limited to the youngest workers. Some data suggest that these concerns cut across age groups and include professionals over age 55. Older workers may have taken on student loan debt to fund advanced degrees or send a child to college. Widespread student loan debt suggests that companies offering repayment contributions and other related benefits have a distinct advantage in attracting and engaging their workforce.

 

 

Improve Retention With Cutting Edge HR Benefits From ELFI

As an ELFI business partner, you can add value to your benefits package with monthly contributions to student loan debt. You’ll also plug into resources like newsletters, webinars and onsite consultations. Connect with ELFI from your HR portal and discover how significant student loan benefits are to your team members—and how cost-effective they are for your company.

 

Tops Ways to Engage Millennials at Work

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the web sites 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.

Differentiate Your Company to Recruit the Best Employees

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There’s fierce competition in the global marketplace to attract and retain high-potential employees. In a competitive hiring environment, your company needs to project a strong and appealing corporate identity to recruit the best employees to your team.

 

Those recruiting employees are scrambling for differentiators and value propositions to make their company stand out. Companies that attract and keep employees who share in their vision have distinct advantages: lower turnover costs, a more committed workforce—and an increased ability to exceed sales and production goals. Many recent college graduates begin their careers, expecting to jump from job to job frequently. Changing that mindset is a significant challenge for businesses. The following suggestions can help your company attract the best new hires—and retain them for years to come.

 

Polish Your Company Brand

Today’s job seekers are looking for more than just a good compensation package. They want to be part of a team that emphasizes shared values and a unified purpose. A company and its workforce should have a recognizable brand with clearly communicated values. By clarifying your core values and creating a cohesive mission statement, you define your business philosophy and give new recruits a glimpse into your workplace culture.

 

Make a deeper impression on potential new team members by going a step further: Let high-potential employees experience your company culture firsthand. Consider including activities like these in your recruitment process:

 

  • Tour of facilities & on-site amenities
  • Lunch with staff at the corporate lunchroom
  • Face-to-face meetings with company or division heads
  • Informal conversations with valued team members
  • Off-site mastermind gatherings with new and existing employees

 

You will reduce turnover costs when you identify new staff members who share your company values and have the potential to fit seamlessly into your corporate culture. Understanding your company’s management style and the characteristics of your most successful employees can prevent potential hiring mistakes. One of the most common reasons cited for an employee leaving a job is a “poor relationship with management.” Your company will succeed at employee retention when you understand and communicate your management style and company culture at the outset— before you have spent the resources to recruit and train the wrong candidate.

 

Create a Meaningful Compensation Package

A competitive salary is essential to new team members, but other types of compensation may seal the deal. Companies seeking to differentiate themselves from competitors offer compensation packages that are meaningful to their employees. In addition to healthcare benefits, paid time off and 401K fund matches, employees are looking for perks and benefits that enhance their lifestyle.

 

A recent Robert Half survey cited these desirable additions to a company’s compensation package:

 

  • Paid parental leave
  • Opportunities for professional development
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Student loan reimbursement
  • Dental & vision insurance
  • On-site amenities like childcare, gym & concierge services
  • Compressed workweek
  • Telecommuting
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Paid time off for volunteering

 

Many perks are an expression of your company’s culture, adding purpose and engagement for your high-potential employees. Consider sponsoring a community food drive or park clean-up. Host social events, investment seminars or concerts. You could also incorporate monthly rewards for employees who exceed expectations, such as a $50 meal certificate. This would drive your employees to perform to their highest every month and maintain workplace morale. Today’s recent grads respond to a work environment that meshes with their personal values and interests.

 

 

Sell High Potential Employees on Your Company

Once you have identified a talented candidate for hire, make the sale. New recruits who understand how they fit into your company’s culture and structure are more likely to invest themselves and stay. Boost talent retention by defining a path forward within the company. New hires want to know they will have opportunities for professional development, continuing education and the possibility of internal promotion. Show them where they could be short term, such as a year or two in the future. Seeing the growth within arm’s reach will give them the drive to perform the best they can. They are also highly focused on achieving work-life balance. If your business model permits it, offer greater work flexibility with schedules that allow work-from-anywhere options and unstructured time on the job.

 

Add Student Loan Repayment Benefits

Corporate help with student loan repayment is a big plus for high potential employees and a key business differentiator. ELFI for Business has the expertise to help your HR department put together an attractive hiring package with sought-after benefits like these:

 

  • Financial education
  • Employer contribution match
  • On-site consultations
  • Budget-friendly refinancing options

 

Connect with ELFI for Business right from your HR portal—or call 844.601.ELFI to discuss the positive impact these benefits have on hiring and engaging valuable team members.

 

Why Are Employees Leaving Your Company?

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the web sites 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.

 

Reduce Student Loans for College with These Jobs for Students

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It’s not practical to go to college and not have a job. With a number of non-traditional students commuting or even raising a family during school years, being employed is a must. Plus, even having a part-time job not related to your desired field can still prove that you have the skills it takes to manage your time, work as part of a team, and be reliable. Never underestimate the importance of these types of skills on your resume!

 

With most students taking out student loans or aid, finding a college job can mean that you can reduce your student loans for college and pay some tuition or expenses with your current income. That said, there are some jobs for college students that are better than others. Here’s our take on what are the top jobs for college students and why.

 

Nanny

Nannying is a serious skill that not everyone has. If you’re great with kids and can find a gig to match your availability, being a nanny means you’ll get paid well to spend your time helping a family raise cool kids into stellar adults. No longer the $3/hour that you got paid to watch neighborhood kids back in the day, the average nanny rate is $12–$13/hour. You could even get paid more if you have additional skills like foreign languages or child development knowledge. Nanny jobs can be a really great asset to students studying to be teachers. Nannying could be a great introduction to what you’ll be studying in school.

 

Office Admin

Working in an office is usually not very glamorous, but there’s a reason why so many college students look for basic administrative work. Office environments can be nuanced and require you to learn certain types of etiquette on top of professional dress and demeanor. By working part-time in an office around your school schedule, you’ll learn things like phone skills, how to operate standard office equipment, basic computer skills (that you might already have, but it’s still nice to reinforce), and you’ll make connections with other professionals who can give you a reference later. Depending on the type of office you’re working in you may have the ability to gain some additional career skills. If your regular tasks are completed it’s likely you’ll get to learn some additional skills that could come in extra useful in the long-run.

 

Hospitality or Community Outreach

Anything in outreach or hospitality that exposes you to lots of people in your community is a great opportunity for a college student. Being the happy face of an organization means that you will build great people skills like patience and customer service. In addition, it’ll give you a chance to get to know other people or places you encounter. Did we mention networking? Do you best to network with as many people as possible. You never know when the relationships you’ve made will come in useful across your career and study journey.

 

 

Health Unit Clerk

Helping out in a medical facility or institution is a top job for college students because you can usually land a good rate of pay during hours that fall outside when your classes are. Whether it’s nights, weekends, or after-hours, being an orderly requires you to use empathy and care for people who need help caring for themselves. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re passionate about helping people and want the simplicity of wearing scrubs every day while making about $12/hour, this might be your best bet. Of course, being a health unit clerk is a great first step for anyone looking to further their career in social work or a medical field.

 

Bank Teller

Some people actually joke that you should not become a bank teller in college because working at a bank can become so comfortable that you won’t want to leave! With opportunities for advancement, solid pay (about $12/hour), regular hours, and plenty of holidays off, being a bank teller is a pretty good job for a college student. You need to be detailed and good at math along with having the people skills of someone in reception or customer service.

 

Tutor

Tutoring is probably one of the best ways to earn money while in school if you have enough experience in one area of study and can help lower level students navigate their coursework. Tutoring is highly flexible and not limited to business hours, plus you can usually do it at school or at a library or home, and it has a higher hourly rate than many other jobs. Tutors can easily make $20–$40/hour depending on the area of study, helping you make extra cash in less time and strengthening your own study skills while you’re at it.

 

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your student loans for college, consider one of these top jobs for students so you can pay some of your expenses with your income!

 

Check Out These Resume Tips from Hiring Managers

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
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.

Experiential Gift Giving Guide

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We’ve all heard the millennial generation has shifted their focus from material possessions to experiences. They don’t want a thing that’s just going to take up space they don’t have, they want to do something. It should come as no surprise that for the holidays they’d prefer experiential gifts. If you have a Millennial in your life here are a few gift ideas we’ve gathered. Before making a purchase, consider the person you are buying for and their unique taste, your location and obviously your budget. For ease, we’ve broken it up into the categories Mind, Body, Soul, and Stomach.

 

Mind

 

Art

 

If someone on your list is into art, consider getting them a membership to the art museum in your area. Memberships often include more access and special events. If they’re really into art you can’t beat this VIP tour of an empty Met museum in New York City. You’ll have the ability to go before the museum opens. Groups are 25 people max allowing you to see some of the world’s greatest artwork like you’ve never seen it before.

 

Travel

 

For most of us, travel is one of the most eye-opening experiences. To be in a place that’s uniquely different from normal awakens the senses and expands your imagination. We could recommend a number of travel experiences like sand boarding at Sand Dunes National ParkExploring ancient caves in South America, but travel is so personal. We recommend sites like IF ONLY that offer more curated experiences in the United States and you can’t beat an AirBnB gift card that lets people choose their own adventure.

 

 

Body

 

Gym

 

Now, if the person you buy for spends most of their evenings on the couch, this probably isn’t the gift for them. If they are into sports and fitness and they don’t already have a gym membership, it may be just the right thing. You could do a month or even a year. You could even get one yourself and go together – built-in gym partners. If you’re gifting to someone who is always on the go, look into getting them a Classpass. This allows them to take classes at a gym located in different areas. For a person who is traveling a lot or is always moving, it’s great.

 

Salon

 

When you look good you feel good, but a lot of us don’t splurge for the fancy salon. When you can take advantage of a fancy salon, without the guilt of spending money it’s all the better. Find their salon and let them get their hair or nails did. Places like Drybar offer gift cards and you can get a wash and blowout for around $40. The best part that includes wine!

 

Massage

 

With the stress of the holidays, most of us just want to be in a quiet room for an hour. Throw in a relaxing massage that lets your friend unplug and escape the world for a bit. It may not be the most personal gift, but it never goes unappreciated.

 

 

Soul

 

Zen

 

If they’re down with the downward dog, you could get them some local yoga classes or consider one of the many companies that offer amazing yoga retreats like Yogascapes, where you can join a small group of like-minded people for an amazing yoga retreat in “off the beaten path locations.”

 

Music

 

There’s nothing more personal than music. Consider tickets to a show one of their favorite artists or a subscription to a music service if they don’t have one. For those that are a little more free-spirited consider finding music in a really intimate setting through sites like Sofarsounds.com.

 

 

Stomach

 

There’s no experience more common or universal than food and eating. And you have to do little more than scan Instagram to see how much people love food. With this in mind, there are so many directions you can go with food. From cooking classes to meal delivery services to full-on molecular gastronomy experiences it’s hard to go wrong with the food. Don’t have a big budget? Then you can always give actual food that you’ve made, it’s almost sure to be appreciated.

 

7 Money Mistakes Young Professionals Should Avoid

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the web sites 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.

The 4 Most Common Causes of Physician Burnout in 2018

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This is Part II of our three-part research series with LeverageRx, an online financial marketplace exclusively for doctors.

 

Changes in healthcare often have a domino effect on employees and patients. The medical profession has to evolve and change to share the latest in medical findings. But what if those changes cause the people that patients depend on to burnout? Recent changes in the industry are taking a serious toll on physicians. Medscape’s annual Physician Lifestyle Report surveyed more than 15,000 physicians from 29 specialties. Of survey respondents, 42% of physicians reported burnout.

 

Could change in the healthcare industry be boosting the number of physicians who experience burnout? What factors could be contributing to physician burnout?Let’s take a closer look at the four most common causes of physician burnout in 2018.

 

Relationships

Mergers and acquisitions are on the rise in healthcare. In fact, they were up 57% in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period of 2017 per The Wall Street Journal.

 

Nowadays, it can be rare to find a physician who isn’t practicing within a large healthcare group.

Due to the rising costs of owning your own practice, joining a healthcare system may seem like a no-brainer. For physicians, it means less to worry about when it comes to things like:

 

  • New technology.
  • Medical equipment.
  • Insurance.

 

But does joining a healthcare system alleviate physician burnout? Or could it actually be adding to it?

 

On one hand, these large healthcare systems can be a great fit for physicians:

 

  • With no time to run their own practice.
  • Looking to take on less risk.

 

On the other hand, large healthcare systems can be a source of stress for patients. And that patient stress often ends up taking a toll on their physician.

 

Healthcare systems tend to increase efficiency by utilizing multiple locations and specialties. For patients, this may have removed the basic comforts of seeing a local physician. Instead of calling the office’s front desk, patients pass through large, automated phone systems. Other factors that may cause stress for ill patients seeking treatment include changes in:

 

  • Location.
  • Hours of operation.
  • In-network insurance.

 

As physicians advance in their careers, their workload grows. This often times means they can no longer communicate with patients like they once could. The endless chase for answers can cause damage to the relationship a physician may have spent years building.

 

33% of physicians surveyed said that they’re easily exasperated with patients. 32% said they are less engaged with patients due to physician burnout.

 

Could this loss of loyalty be adding to physician burnout?

 

Loyalty

 

When patients lack loyalty to physicians, this causes a lack of enthusiasm for physicians. Patient loyalty may decrease due to the healthcare system and the absence of a personal touch.

 

An underlying reason for the lack of patient loyalty to physicians is insurance. For patients and healthcare systems, coverage is subject to constant change. As of 2018, many health systems see this as a concern for their business. As a result, many have transitioned from volume-based care to value-based care. Utilizing a value-based strategy should help health systems rebuild lost patient relationships. Value-based care restores relationships by offering patients easier communication and more convenience. This shift to a value-based strategy will affect physicians in several ways, including:

 

  • An increasing focus on technology.
  • A more holistic approach to health in the community.

 

Due in part to this lagging patient loyalty, physicians do not receive the praise they once did. For most physicians, the reward they seek goes beyond their paycheck. Patient approval justifies their hard work as time well spent. This attitude shift toward the medical profession raises concerns when considering the results of a recent Prophet/GE study. It found a staggering 81 percent of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience.

 

Emphasis on Profits

 

For many healthcare systems, a value-based strategy may cause additional physician burnout. This strategy requires physicians to perform more administrative tasks, which takes away from patient care.

 

For example, if testing is required under this type of strategy, it would be imperative to explain as to why the additional testing is needed. Not only is there more paperwork that falls on the responsibility of physicians, but there could be less staffed physicians. In addition, health systems routinely only contract with a percentage of physicians of one type of specialty. This lack of staff depth leads to:

 

  • Longer regular working hours.
  • More overtime hours.
  • More on-call duties.

 

The medical profession already faces a great deal of pressure and stress. Add to this a lack of work-life balance, and naturally, they are at a greater risk for depression and burnout.

 

Health systems are often for-profit based organizations. Like any industry, the desire to drive bottom lines is huge.

 

According to the 2018 Medscape compensation report, physician salaries have been on a steady incline. Supply and demand for physicians is as strong as ever. But for physicians who feel overworked and undervalued, the minor salary bump may not be enough. According to the Medscape National Burnout & Depression Report of 2018, here are the top three contributing factors:

 

  1. Too many bureaucratic tasks (paperwork) – 56%
  2. Spending too many hours at work – 39%
  3. Insufficient compensation – 24%

 

Student Loan Debt

 

Physicians illustrate a concern for financial wellness.

 

To pursue a career in medicine, most need student loans to finance their education. In turn, seventy-five percent of medical school graduates begin practice with debt. What’s worse is that the average medical school grad carries $192,000 in debt. It’s no surprise that the burden to pay off these loans can cause extreme financial strain for young physicians. And although many overcome to lead successful careers, some never fully recover.

 

According to the Medscape Physician Wealth and Debt Report of 2018, most school loans are paid off by age 50. Thirty-two percent of physicians surveyed were still paying down their own student loan debt from medical school.

 

With so many physicians paying down student loan debt, it’s no wonder their financial outlook is unique. More money for student loan payments means less money for lifestyle spending and retirement planning. This financial stress extends beyond large monthly payments, too. It also impacts their experience as first-time homebuyers.

 

In addition to the long hours physicians typically work, they now have little money to add to their budgets. In fact, 24% of physicians in the Medscape survey said that insufficient compensation contributed to their burnout. And when asked what could be done to reduce burnout, 35% said: “increase compensation to avoid financial stress.”

 

In a large healthcare system, it can be tough to stand out. Most CFOs are not closely involved with physicians. This lack of engagement means physicians are less likely to get the financial resources they need. Most raises and bonuses in large healthcare systems come at a preset rate or a generic structure. As a physician, refinancing student loans can offer significant cost savings.

 

Depending on the repayment plan, this is possible both:

 

  • Over the life of the loan.
  • On a monthly basis.

 

Large health systems should consider offering student loan debt assistance to physicians and other employees.

 

Key takeaways

 

Like student loan debt, physician burnout is a crisis affecting the healthcare industry today. Based on our research, the former is actually fueling the latter. But that’s not the only culprit. Other leading causes include:

 

  • Less meaningful relationships.
  • A decline in patient loyalty.
  • Profits over work-life balance.

 

The healthcare industry is subject to constant change. Although advancements in medicine are needed, they should not overshadow those who provide care. Prioritizing the personal and financial well-being of physicians is the first step to overcoming the burnout crisis.

 

9 Signs it’s Time to Refinance Student Loan Debt

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
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.

Vacation Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

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Taking time off from work to unwind is important. Around three-quarters of workers report being stressed at work, yet nearly 40 percent of Americans do not plan to use all of their allotted paid vacation time this year. Studies have shown that taking vacation time is good for your body — it can help reduce stress, maximize productivity, and improve quality of sleep, among other benefits. So why are Americans not taking vacations more frequently? To some, vacations are viewed as a luxury, and elaborate travel plans are simply not in the budget. However, taking some vacation time does not have to involve spending all of your savings. Here are a few vacation ideas for budget-friendly relaxing:

Find a Great Deal on a Cruise

Traveling to exotic islands might sound costly, but if you are dreaming of a relaxing beach trip for your next vacation, a cruise may be the way to go. If you play your cards right, there are many ways to score a great deal on a cruise. Be flexible about dates when booking your cruise — if you are able to go during the off-season months (January, May, November, and early December), you can save hundreds. To save even more cash, book very early or very late — cruise lines often offer discounts to early bookers as well as to last-minute bookers in order to fill up the remaining staterooms. To ensure you are getting the absolute best price, try using a website like Cruise Compete to compare deals from multiple cruise lines. Another appealing characteristic of cruises is that food, basic drinks, and even room service are often included in the price of the cruise. So, apart from gratuities and optional beverages, you will not have much to pay for once you board the ship.

Travel to Your Dream City

If you plan strategically, there are plenty of ways to cut costs on a big city vacation. If you are within a reasonable driving distance of your destination, consider carpooling or even taking public transportation like the Megabus to save on transportation. If driving is not an option for you, you can use a website like Kayak to compare flight prices to make sure you are getting the best deal. If you are not picky in regards to which city you want to visit, try Kayak Explore — you simply plug in variables like airports, dates during which you want to travel, and the amount of money you want to spend on airfare, and it shows you everywhere in the country (and even the world) that you can travel based on your preferences. As for places to stay, Airbnb or local hostels are often a cheaper alternative to hotels. Once in the city, choose affordable activities to fill your day — many large cities have museums that offer free admission.

Visit a National Park

With the National Parks Service (NPS) celebrating its 100th birthday this year, now is the perfect time to visit one (or multiple!) of our own national treasures. There are 58 national parks scattered across the country, so the odds are favorable that there is one within driving proximity to you. Fortunately, entrance to the parks are inexpensive (typically running from free to around $30) — and the NPS offers several free entrance days throughout the year. For the best deal on visiting multiple national parks (or the same one multiple times) in a year, consider purchasing the America the Beautiful Pass — an $80 pass that permits a personal vehicle and all of its passengers admittance into over 2,000 federal recreation sites, including: national parks, national wildlife refuges, standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As for overnight stays, national parks charge a small fee per night for tent and RV camping, and in certain national parks, you can find hotels within or just outside of the park.

Plan a “Stay-cation”

The least expensive option of the four, a “stay-cation” can give you a vacation from work without spending much (or any) money. Taking some time off to simply relax in your own home or explore your own town can leave you rested and rejuvenated for the beginning of your next work week. Whether you go see a movie, make a delicious new recipe, get a massage, find a new project to DIY on Pinterest, go to a local event, visit a local tourist attraction you’ve never seen, or just binge-watch Netflix all day, taking the time to do some of your favorite things can feel like a vacation in itself.

Vacations That Won’t Bust Your Budget

Even if you are on a budget, you deserve a vacation every now and then. Whether you are cruising around the Caribbean or surfing the web on your couch, taking vacation time has many health benefits. If you are looking to free up some extra cash for your next vacation, see how much you could save by refinancing your education loans. Want more inspiration for budget-friendly vacations? Check out our Pinterest board!

How to Save Money on an Engagement Ring

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The season is upon us, the most popular time of the year to get engaged. Getting engaged is often one of the most memorable events in a couple’s life — but it can be pricey. Society’s expectations for engagement rings have become more expensive every year: larger diamonds, designer jewelers, and the “three months’ salary rule” are the new normal. In fact, a recent survey found that 28 percent of Americans think spending over $3,000 on an engagement ring is appropriate, and 17 percent said money is not an object. However, if you are looking for a beautiful ring for your partner without breaking the bank, there are plenty of options. Here are some creative ways to save money on an engagement ring:

Consider the Specifics of the Ring

There are many factors to think about when choosing the perfect ring, like the gemstone, shape, setting, and precious metal — and each characteristic has cheaper alternatives. It is important to explore your options for each to get the best value for your money.

 

  • The Gemstone: Diamonds are the most commonly-used gemstone on engagement rings, but they are also the most expensive. Instead of a diamond, consider a sapphire, emerald, or ruby for the center stone. These gemstones have grown increasingly popular and offer an unconventional look for a unique bride-to-be. If you want a more traditional look for your new fiancé, a light blue or peach sapphire may be right for you.

 

  •  The Shape/Cut: Diamonds are traditionally cut into ten standard shapes, and a round diamond is the most popular (and expensive) choice. According to Brilliant Earth, you can save up to 40 percent by choosing a different shape. Other popular shapes that are less expensive include the princess, cushion, and oval cuts, adding a unique factor to the ring.

 

  • The Size: The weight of a diamond or other precious gemstone is measured in carats. As one would expect, the higher the carat number, the higher the price. Many jewelers price their gemstones based on this factor, with some pricing disproportionately at the 1 and .5 carat marks. Thus, if you are looking for a gemstone around the 1-carat size, you can get a nearly-identical .9 carat one for a lower price.

 

  • The Precious Metal: For long-term durability, platinum rings take the cake. However, like most commonly-used ring characteristics on this list, it is also the priciest. To cut costs, opt for white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold band instead.

 

  • The Setting: Getting strategic with the setting is a great way to save a little money. If you cannot afford the gemstone size you would like, try a halo setting (smaller diamonds surrounding the center stone). This makes the gemstone appear larger. If you want to add a little something extra, but smaller diamonds around the band are not in the budget, try a pavé-style band, which features tiny and inexpensive diamonds encrusted into the band to give extra sparkle.

Shop Online

Shopping online allows you to sift through a wide selection of gemstones and setting styles to create the perfect ring, while also comparing prices to get the best deal. Some online jewelers like Blue Nile, Brilliant Earth, and James Allen even let you “design your own” ring by first choosing a setting and then selecting a loose gemstone at the best price based on your specifications. In addition, many of these online retailers do not charge a sales tax in most states, and most have sales and promotions throughout the year.

 

Think About an Antique

If your future spouse loves the vintage look, scoring a one-of-a-kind antique ring may be your best bet. Vintage engagement rings are timeless, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable — you just need to know where to look for them. There are plenty of online options, but you can also try estate sales or antique shops.

 

Get a Beautiful Ring Without Blowing the Budget

It is no secret that engagement rings are expensive, and you want to find one that your partner will love and wear forever. However, if you shop smart, you can get a beautiful piece for a price you can afford, simply by choosing cheaper ring features, shopping online, or purchasing an antique.

If you are in the process of accumulating funds to buy the ring, there are a wealth of creative ideas to save money out there. If you have a few months to go before you take the plunge, revising your budget to include your ring savings may be a good option. If revising your budget includes refinancing your student loans, talk to Education Loan Finance. We would love to help you free up some extra funds for the ring that not only fits your budget but fulfills your partner’s dreams.

 

Budget Tips for a Wedding