From the Pig. For the People.

By: Hank. (The talking piggy bank)

Hank here, talking piggy bank with something to say and a campaign to tout. First off, I can’t believe the rubbish that gets airtime. Talking lizards? Give me a break. That duck’s voice? Ouch. And let’s be honest, the “weeeee” pig is a wee bit creepy. How ‘bout the slew of criminals? Like that pitcher of punch bent on destruction. Or the thief rabbit. Disgraceful, all of ‘em. Folks need an honest, relatable role model. Someone good with money. Who’s not afraid of looking to the barnyard for a laugh. Folks need me. (And yes, I do birthday parties.)

Watch your ceramic master of mascots show you how it’s done.

How To Pay Off Student Loans (Faster)

The joy of graduating from college can be short-lived once you open your inbox and find an email alerting you that the first payment for your student loans is due. And yes, four-plus years of tuition costs can add up to some big numbers, but if you set some reasonable goals and adjust your spending, you can take on those loans and still find ways to enjoy post-grad life.

Ducks in a Row

In between job hunting or during your first-week orientation, you should figure out a plan for repayment. Gather as much information about your living costs as you can. Pull the paperwork for your loans, rent/mortgage and utilities, insurance premiums (health, car, home) and other payments (vehicle, credit cards, etc.). If you’re unsure about how much you’re spending on things like entertainment and groceries, you’ll need to compile the data for those costs, too.

Lay it all out in a spreadsheet or use an app to give you a clear idea of what you can reasonably spend, save and afford. Once you have those ducks in a row, it’s time to dive in. Give yourself a jump-start by actively finding ways to cut costs.

Start, Snip & Sacrifice

Once you know how much money you’ll have coming and going each month, you’ll be ready to trim some of your expenses. This doesn’t mean living on ramen noodles or with six untidy roommates. Instead, you can:

  • Cut the cable. Stream content through Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu and pick up a digital antenna for local channels. Don’t be afraid to haggle for the cost of your Internet connection, either.
  • Dig it. Want organic veggies? Skip the fancy grocery stores and plant some seeds. If you don’t have the outdoor space, search for local food CSAs in your area.
  • Hitch a ride. The daily commute can be expensive. Talk to your co-workers about a carpool or get in some free fitness by biking to and from your nine-to-five.

Once you start looking for ways to save yourself some money, you’ll likely start noticing opportunities everywhere. Further motivate yourself by making it a challenge to put an extra $25 or $50 toward each student loan payment you make. These amounts may seem small but they’ll make a big difference.

To pay off loans quickly, small sacrifices aren’t the only ones you’ll need to make. Look at jobs in smaller communities with a lower cost of living and keep your car as long as you can, even if it’s starting to look a little rusty. For some, the sacrifice isn’t objects, it’s time. A second, part-time job can help you make more than one payment a month.

Repaying your student loans may feel daunting but with some extra effort and a solid understanding of your budget, you can do it. After all, you got through finals week every semester, didn’t you?

How long did it take you to pay off your student loans? Have some tips to share? Tell us in the comment section.

Keeping Your Credit Healthy

You eat fruits and vegetables to stay healthy and go to the gym to stay in shape. Having a credit card is no different and requires the same steady participation. Once you’ve established a line of credit, it’s your responsibility to stay actively involved. However, your diligence has its own rewards, such as lower APR rates and bonuses like cash back. Here are a few ways you can make sure your credit scores stay healthy.

Stay on It

Pay attention to what you’re spending. Too often, credit cards can feel like a free pass. Stay mindful of what and how much you purchase. When you get your statement, look it over and check for any inaccuracies to avoid being double-charged or becoming the victim of fraud (especially if you use your credit card for online shopping). Remember: you’re entitled to a free credit report once a year. Set a reminder on your calendar and stay informed.

Rethinking Repayment

A credit card isn’t for spending more than you earn. Think of your card as a 30-day loan that you need to pay back at the end of each month, and save accordingly. Of course, carrying a balance isn’t necessarily a bad thing but carrying a large balance can be. If you make a big purchase on your card, know how much you’ll need to repay each month to avoid additional interest charges.

Right on Time

One of the simplest and most effective ways you can keep your credit healthy is by making timely payments. Aside from hurting your credit score, the additional late fees can add up rapidly over the course of a year, costing you upwards of $300. For many, making more than one payment each month helps keep their credit in check, while helping sustain a steady cash flow for other expenses.

Thinking about opening a card or transferring a balance? Missouri Credit Union offers members a line of credit cards from Elan Credit Card Services. For more information, click here.