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Top 6 Financial Independence (FI) Blogs You Should Read

February 27, 2017

Financial independence refers to the state of reaching a point of sufficient wealth where one is not required to work full time  —unless they want to — in order to maintain a desired lifestyle. It occurs when people have enough built-up income to pay for necessities, for the remainder of their lives, without an active-income, work-related paycheck. Financial independence can be achieved through saving, investing, and other passive income sources, but it usually means that individuals can pursue the things that they are truly passionate about, such as hobbies, travel, and so much more.

 

If financial independence, early retirement, or creating an investment portfolio are on your radar, be sure to check out these financial independence (FI) blogs and bloggers. Their experiences, advice, and discussions may be just what you need to kick-start your path towards financial independence.

 

1500 Days to Freedom

Also known as Mr. and Mrs. 1500, the 1500 Days to Freedom blog chronicles the journey of one blogger (and his wife) whose goal is to retire in 1500 days at the age of 43 — thereby “[thinking] differently and [escaping] the rat race.” Blogs range from a variety of financial independence topics, all of which aim to “encourage and inspire others to abandon their consumer, spendaholic ways in favor of a more fulfilling existence” and learn how to invest and save money via cutting expenses and smart, simple investing. Learn more about Mr. 1500, see if he is accomplishing his goal by February 2017, check out their blogs, and read more about the resources that helped them grow their money.

Bogleheads® Forum http://www.1500days.com/goal-progress/

 

The Bogleheads® are a collection of people, inspired to follow the investing advice of Jack Bogle (author, blogger, and financial guru), who “follow a small number of simple investment principles that have been shown over time to produce risk-adjusted returns far greater than those achieved by the average investor.” On the site, visitors will find thousands of forums that “emphasize regular saving, broad diversification, and sticking to one’s investment plan regardless of market conditions.” Using the forum site can look a little overwhelming, but there is a great starter guide that will help you get organized — and prepared — to begin the Bogleheads® investment philosophy. Typical forum topics include: investing (help, theory, news, general), personal finance, personal consumer issues, and more.

 

JLCollinsNH

Jim L. Collins’ financial independence blog, titled jlcollinsnh, focuses on a simple path to wealth. Best known for his Stock Series on investing — at times called “the best thing you [could] read about how to invest money” by Mr. 1500 — the blog also discusses anything and everything from money, life, travel, and business. The author began the blog as a way to teach his daughter what did — and did not work — financially for him. As far as what you should do with the information, the author states: “If you read my blog you’ll soon have a very clear idea of my views. You can then read other sources, compare and decide for yourself what resonates.”

 

Mr. Money Mustache

Mr. Money Mustache (MMM) is a financial freedom blog, started by a 30-something retiree, who wants to share his frugal, yet fun, life of leisure — and all that comes with it. Along with blogs, there is an MMM forum dedicated to providing The Money Mustache Community with resources, discussions, and advice on all things financial, investing, and more. However, if you would like to stick with the blog itself, Mr. Money Mustache recommends starting with his blog “Getting Rich: From Zero to Hero in One Blog Post,” and working your way to the classics. If you would like to dive into the community forum, try starting with these steps, followed by the Best of Mr. Money Mustache discussions.

 

The Mad Fientist

The Mad Fientist is not mad. He is a scientist of financial independence…or “fience”…or FI, if you will, which is short for “financial independence.” He wants to teach you, and every reader, that early financial independence is possible — and achievable earlier than you might imagine. “By analyzing the tax code and looking at personal finance through the lens of early financial independence, [The Mad Fientist] develop[s] strategies and tactics to help you retire even earlier” — rather than at 60+ years old. Along with well-researched blogs, he offers podcasts that feature some of the heaviest hitters in the financial independence sphere, as well as a free financial independence tracker. Not sure if it sounds legit? Check out this review from Mr. 1500.

 

The White Coat Investor

The White Coat Investor is a blog started by a practicing, full-time, board-certified emergency physician — who received a lot of bad advice and wanted to share what he learned along the way. It covers financial and investing topics and strategies that are specifically targeted at physicians and other high-earners, but the blog and forum are great resources for anyone who wants to find sound financial, investing, tax, and retirement advice. There is a lot of great content to sort through, so the author recommends starting here, which includes their top beginner blogs. Want even more from the White Coat Investor? Order the book — it summarizes the blog and contains material not found on the blog.

 

The Next Step

Hopefully, these blogs have proven to be a great start on your progress towards financial independence! Other financial blogs are available, but you may find that the six blogs mentioned provide some of the more meaningful advice on this topic. If you find something interesting and useful, be sure to share it with your family and friends, because education (ideally early education) is key to these strategies.

 

Also, keep in mind that all of these blogs and forums are meant to help educate oneself on financial independence, investing, and early retirement. The authors want to offer basic knowledge, but they state that it is up to you (and your circumstances) to decide what will be best — and most beneficial — for you. They do not guarantee performance or returns — but they do promise it will make you think!

 

Disclaimer

Education Loan Finance is not paid to mention any of these blogs, books, or forums. We also do not promise or guarantee performance or returns based on their advice; we are simply informing you of helpful information sources available for your own research purposes.

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2019-09-16
What I Would Have Told Myself in College: Barbara Thomas

  Barbara Thomas, Executive Vice President of Education Loan Finance (ELFI) provides some financial advice to college students based on her own experiences in college.   Hello, I’m Barbara Thomas. For most, like me, my college days were a great experience that lead to incredible personal growth. I had a marvelous sense of freedom and made many new friends. However, I have spent much time reflecting on what I would do differently if I could begin my college life all over again, given what I know now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? So here’s my advice to all of you who are preparing to enter college, or are currently in your freshman or sophomore years.

Choose an Affordable College

When looking for the right college, don’t get beguiled by a famous name and a beautiful campus. And, while a state-of-the-art fitness center or an Olympic-size swimming pool might be important if you’re an athlete, most of the time you will be paying for them in higher college fees. Instead, make sure to keep your eyes on finances, as affordability should be a top concern. Considering the fact that many students end up taking on sizeable student loan debt, keep in mind that you (most likely) won’t be living on that beautiful campus in your late 20s or 30s.

Rethink Your Path to the Best Education.

Just because a college is more expensive, doesn’t
necessarily mean that it’s better than one that costs less. You should look upon college as an investment in your future. Consider what the return on investment (ROI) from your college education will look like. In other words, analyze which college is likely to provide you with the most bang for your buck. Here’s a report from U.S. News & World Report that gives you the ROI of different colleges.

Look at Alternatives to a Four-Year College.

If you find out that college is not the best path for you, it can turn out to be an expensive mistake. Keep in mind that dropping out of college won’t make your student loans disappear. So before you enroll in a college, consider these alternatives:
  • Take a gap year to earn money to put toward going to college and give yourself more time to decide what you want to do.
  • Consider attending a trade school to learn a valuable skill with high earnings potential.
  • Spend two years at a community college. Attending a community college can help you save on tuition. However, if you plan to transfer to a college of your choice, be sure to do some checking. Find out how many transfer students are accepted and how many of your community college credits can be used.
Do your research and crunch the numbers to make sure you’re making the best choice.

Earn More While in School

A survey of millennials found that earning money while in college was the number one thing that participants wished they had done (or done more of). This reflects the increasing financial cost that goes along with obtaining a college degree. The College Board estimated that in 2017 (updated figures are available), the average student loan debt upon graduation was $28,500. Keep in mind that a heavy debt load is going to affect your financial future – your ability to buy a home, start a family, and save for retirement. Apart from financial considerations, there is no better way to acquire real job skills than to hold down a job and learn about its demands firsthand. Employers know this, which is why previous work experience is the most popular measure to assess job candidates, even those straight out of college.

Research Ways To Lower Your Monthly Student Loan Payments

So, you’ve done everything right - you chose the higher education path that was right for you, and you have landed an interesting job. Now, what about those student loan payments? Are they weighing you down and preventing you from leading the life that you had envisioned after college? ELFI has a solution to your problem – it’s called refinancing. You can close out your original loan and take out a new one with a lower interest rate and/or a longer term. This can significantly lower your monthly loan payments. Get in touch with us to see how we can help you!  

Learn More About Student Loan Refinancing With ELFI

  Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.
2019-08-03
How Does Student Loan Interest Work?

When you take out a student loan, you will not just be paying back the amount you borrowed – the lender will also charge you interest. The easiest way to think of interest is that it’s the cost paid by you to borrow money. Whether you take out a private student loan or a federal student loan, you will be charged interest on your loan until it is repaid in full. So, when you have finished paying off your loan, you will have paid back the original sum you borrowed (your original principal), plus you will have paid a percentage of the amount you owed (interest). Properly understanding the way that student loan interest affects your loan is imperative for you to be able to manage your debt effectively.  

The Promissory Note

When a student loan is issued, the borrower agrees to the terms of the loan by signing a document called a promissory note. These terms include:
  • Disbursement date: The date the funds are issued to you and interest begins to accrue.
  • Amount borrowed: The total dollar amount borrowed on the loan.
  • Interest rate: How much the loan will cost you.
  • How interest accrues: Interest may be charged on a daily or monthly basis.
  • First payment date: The date when you are expected to make your first loan payment.
  • Payment schedule: When you are required to make payment and how many payments you have to make.
 

How Different Types of Student Loans are Affected by Interest Rates

  • Government-Subsidized loan: If you are the recipient of a government-subsidized direct loan, the government will pay your interest while you are in school. This means that your loan balance will not increase. After graduation, the interest becomes your responsibility.
  • Parent PLUS Loan: There are no government-subsidized loans for parents, and regular repayments are scheduled to begin 60 days after the loan is disbursed.
  • Unsubsidized Loan: The majority of students will have unsubsidized loans where interest is charged from day one. If you have this type of loan, sometimes a lender will not require you to make payments while you are still in school. However, the interest will accrue, and when you graduate you’ll find yourself with a loan balance higher than the one you started with. This is known as capitalization. 
Here’s an example: In your freshman year, you borrow $7,000 at 3.85%. By the time you graduate in four years, this will have grown to $8,078 – an increase of $1,078. Here’s the math: 7,000 × 0.0385 × 4 = $1,078 (
Click here for ELFI’s handy accrued interest calculator.)  

How is Student Loan Interest Calculated?

When you begin to make loan payments, the amount you pay is made up of the amount you borrowed (the principal) and interest payments. When you make a payment, interest is paid first. The remainder of your payment is applied to your principal balance and reduces it.    Let’s suppose you borrow $10,000 with a 7% annual interest rate and a 10-year term. Using ELFI’s helpful loan payment calculator, we can estimate your monthly payment at $116 and the interest you will pay over the life of the loan at $3,933. Here’s how to determine how much of your monthly payment of $116 is made up of interest.   1. Calculate your daily interest rate (also known as your interest rate factor). Divide your interest rate by 365 (the number of days in the year).  

.07/365 = 0.00019, or 0.019%

    2. Calculate the amount of interest your loan accrues each day. Multiply your outstanding loan balance by your daily interest rate.  

$10,000 x 0.00019 = $1.90

  3. Calculate your monthly interest payment. Multiply the dollar amount of your daily interest by the number of days since your last payment.  

$1.90 x 30 = $57

 

How is Student Loan Interest Applied?

As you continue to make payments on your student loan, your principal and the amount of accrued interest will decrease. Lower interest charges means that a larger portion of your payments will be applied to your principal. Paying down the principal on a loan is known as amortization.  

How Accrued Interest Impacts Your Student Loan Payments

The smart money approach is avoiding capitalized interest building up on your loan while you are in school. This is because choosing not to pay interest while in school means you will owe a lot more when you come out. The more you borrow, the longer you are in school, and the higher your interest rates are, the more profound the impact of capitalization will be.  

How to Find the Best Student Loan

When looking for the best student loan, you naturally want the lowest interest rate available. With a lower interest rate, the same monthly payment pays down more of your loan principal and you will be out of debt more quickly. Talk to ELFI about our private student loan offerings by giving us a call today!  

Learn More About ELFI Student Loans

  Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.   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.
2019-07-27
The Importance of a Good Debt to Income (DTI) Ratio

It is evident to most people that having more income and less debt is good for their finances. If you have too much debt compared to income, any shock to your income level could mean you end up with unsustainable levels of debt. Every month you have money coming in (your salary plus additional income) and money going out (your expenses). Your expenses include your recurring bills for electricity, your cell phone, the internet, etc. There are also regular amounts that you spend on necessities, such as groceries or transportation. On top of all of this, there’s the money you spend to service any debts that you may have. These debts could include your mortgage, rent, car loan, and any student loans, personal loans, or credit card debt.  

What is the Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)?

The Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI) lets you see how your total monthly debt relates to your gross monthly income. Your gross monthly income is your total income from all sources before taxes and other deductions are taken out. Below is the formula for calculating your DTI:

DTI = (Total of your monthly debt payments/your gross monthly income) x 100

  Example: Let’s suppose the following. Your gross monthly income is $5,000, and you pay $1,500 a month to cover your mortgage, plus $350 a month for your student loans, and you have no other debt. Your total monthly payments to cover your debts amounts to $1,850.  

Your DTI is (1,850/5,000) x 100 = 37%

Here’s a
handy calculator to work out your DTI.  

Why is Your DTI Important?

Your DTI is an important number to keep an eye on because it tells you whether your financial situation is good or if it is precarious. If your DTI is high, 60% for example, any blow to your income will leave you struggling to pay down your debt. If you are hit with some unexpected expenses (e.g., medical bills or your car needs expensive repairs), it will be harder for you to keep on top of your debt payments than if your DTI was only 25%.  

DTI and Your Credit Risk

DTI is typically used within the lending industry. If you apply for a loan, a lender will look at your DTI as an important measure of risk. If you have a high DTI, you will be regarded as more likely to default on a loan. If you apply for a mortgage, your DTI will be calculated as part of the underwriting process. Usually, 43% is the highest DTI you can have and likely receive a Qualified Mortgage. (A Qualified Mortgage is a preferred type of mortgage because it comes with more protections for the borrower, e.g., limits on fees.)  

So, What is a Good DTI?

If 43% is the top level DTI necessary to obtain a Qualified Mortgage, what is a “good” DTI? According to NerdWallet, a DTI of 20% or below is low. A DTI of 40% or more is an indication of financial stress. So, a good rule of thumb is that a good DTI should be between these two figures, and the lower, the better.   

The DTI Bottom Line

Your DTI is an essential measure of your financial security. The higher the number, the less likely it is that you’ll be unable to pay down your debt. If there are months when it seems that all your money is going toward debt payments, then your DTI is probably too high. With a low DTI, you will be able to weather any financial storms and maybe even take some risks. For example, if you want to take a job in a field you’ve always dreamed about but are hesitating because it pays less, it will be easier to adjust to a lower income. Plus, debt equals stress. The higher your DTI, the more you can begin to feel that you’re working just to pay off your creditors, and no one wants that.  

DTI and Student Loan Refinancing

Your DTI is one of several factors that lenders look at if you apply to refinance your student loans. They may also assess your credit history, employment record, and savings. Refinancing your student loans may actually decrease your DTI by lowering your monthly student loan payment. This may help you, for example, if you want to apply for a mortgage. ELFI can help you figure out what your DTI is and if you are a good candidate for student loan refinancing. Give us a call today at 1.844.601.ELFI.  

Learn More About Student Loan Refinancing

  Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.   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.