Thursday, April 19, 2007

8 Simple Ways to Pay Off Student Loans Debt

I had student loan debt but luckily only ended owing $5,000 after I completed college thanks to family and scholarships. It took me forever just to pay that $5,000 due to all the interest on my loan. A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 50% of recent college graduate have student loans, with an average student loan debt of $10,000. The average cost of college increases at twice the rate of inflation. Here are 8 tips to help with paying off student loan debt:

1. Develop a plan. Develop a plan to pay off your student loan debt before you graduate.
2. Save your money. Each summer throughout your college education, get a job or internship. Save half the money in a high interest savings account such as (5.05%) or (4.5%). After a few months, consult a financial advisor to earn the highest possible return on your money. After college, you can use the money saved during all 4 years to pay down your college debt.
3. Use caution with consolidation. Consolidating student loans combines your loans into one payment but may or may not provide you with a lower interest rate. Do extensive research before consolidating your student loans. In addition, you may not be eligible for various student loan forgiveness programs if you consolidate your student loans.
4. Exchange work to reduce debt. Perform volunteer work or work for the following in exchange for reducing student loan debt: teaching in certain locations with low-income students or areas with shortage of teachers, providing legal and medical services in low-income areas or working for Americorps or the Peace Corps.
5. Get a work-study job. To help pay for the costs of college get a work-study job on campus to help defray the cost of college. Go to your campus employee office to ask about their work-study program. Work study Jobs pay at least the minimum wage for that state.
6. Apply for lots of scholarships. In recent years, money has been reduced from the budget for college scholarships so it is harder to get a scholarship to go to college. You can increase your changes of getting a scholarship by completing as many scholarship applications as you can. If you complete at least 50 you should receive at least 5 scholarships. Also, go to your campus financial aid office and ask about financial aid programs that the schools provides to students. Become friendly with the financial aid office employees who will alert you to financial aid programs when they become available. You can also search the internet for scholarships. Some scholarship websites are,,, or
7. Apply for grants. Apply for as many grants as possible. You can also apply for federal grants such as the Federal Pell Grant (Pell Grant), the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program, Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP), and National Science Scholars Program. Some grant websites are,,
8. Protect your credit. Try to avoid making late payments on your student loans, if you do this will be reported on your credit report and can remain for up to seven years. If you are having financial hardship call the student loan company and inform them of your situation, ask for a hardship or loan deferment to ensure your credit is not damaged until you are able to start making payments again.

For more information visit or

Harrine Freeman
CEO, H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Copyright © 2007 H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Saturday, April 07, 2007

5 Ways to Become Financially Empowered

Wealth is defined as the value of everyone you own minus any debts. A wealthy person is described as someone who can live comfortably for a least 5 years without working. Not everyone during his or her lifetime may become wealthy but you can become financially empowered. Financially empowered is being in control of your finances, spending your money responsibly, buy needs more often than buying wants, and setting goals for your future.

Here are 5 ways to become financially empowered:
1. Become a homeowner. Becoming a homeowner increases your credit score, proves that your are a responsible spender, provides a tax write-off, increases your financial worth, provides you with an asset that will appreciate over time which will provide you with equity.

2. Buy insurance. Buy health, life and disability insurance. Many people get in debt from medical costs because they do not have life insurance. Life insurance is critical because medical costs increase by 10 to 20% each year. Disability insurance (short-term and long-term) will help you in the event you become seriously ill and have to be off work for an extended period of time. This will help you to recover because you will not have to worry about how your bills will be paid during this time.

3. Start a business. Find out what your passion is, what you love to do more than anything else. You will not become financially empowered by working for someone else unless you were one of the lucky people who bought tons of stock while working at Target, Wal-Mart of AOL. Do your research before starting your business and take baby steps. Start your business in your home; there are many tax write-offs for home based businesses. Once you generate enough income then get a loan to open your own office. Get the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

4. Purchase investment property. All of the financial experts and millionaires and billionaires have talked about this. They all have the same thing in common. They all own investment property. If you are not sure how to begin, do your research, buy two or books on buying investment property, join a real estate group, listen to financial investment shows and find out the best way to get started. Investment property generates cash flow that can be used to generate wealth and allows more opportunities to become available to you.

5. Plan for your retirement. Many Americans today have to work past retirement age because they have no savings or retirement. When a person looks at their life to see what they have accomplished, it is sad to say that they have nothing to show for it. Many still owe money on their homes, don't have any savings and have little or no money in a retirement account. You worked all of your life for what, to pay bills. That is not how life is supposed to be. You should work hard, enjoy life, retire, and then really enjoy life.

April is financial literacy month. Starting this month and each month for the rest of the year do one thing to improve your financial situation. Send your success stories or questions to Good luck to you!

Copyright © 2007 H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Do You Know Why You Are In Debt?

In the past few weeks, I have had several conversations with clients and other experts in the personal finance industry. I have come to some conclusions about debt: 1) many people do not know how they got into debt; 2) many people are in denial that they are in debt; 3) many people do not know how to get out of debt; 4) many people believe that it is normal to be in debt or that you are supposed to be in debt for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately only 3% or Americans live debt free. First, let me say you don't have to be in debt no matter what some company or creditor tells you. Many people are living debt free lives with good credit, some people have even paid off their mortgage before the 30-year loan date! The only bill I have is my mortgage. The balance on my mortgage decreases each month because I send additional money towards my principal.

Now, the first step to getting out of debt is admitting that you have poor spending habits or that you are in financial trouble. This may be hard to do, but you can do it. If you believe that you can be debt free you will be. Next, develop a plan to take action and take action immediately. Do this by creating a budget for yourself. If you get a steady paycheck this will be easier to accomplish. However, if you do not earn the same amount of money each pay period then you can still create a budget. You create a budget by listing all of your monthly expenses (everything you spend money on during the course of a month) and list your net monthly income (after taxes), then subtract the two figures, if you have any money left over use that money to start paying off your debts and look for other ways to reduce expenses. If you have no money left over, find ways to reduce expenses, make sacrifices and think of creative ways to save money. Some good websites to use to find ways to creative ways to save money are Budgetdial and The Dollar Stretcher.

For large expenses that do not occur monthly you can spread the payment over a period of time, i.e. six months or a year. For example, if you pay $1200 in car insurance and you do not get a steady pay check, put aside $100 a month towards you car insurance so that when you quarterly or bi-yearly bill arrives you will have the money to pay for it and won't feel overwhelmed about paying the bill.

Remember if you are in debt, you don't have to stay that way, you can be debt free. I was once $19,000 in debt and was able to get myself out of debt without filing for bankruptcy. I had to make huge sacrifices such as catching public transportation, I stopped eating and going out, didn't buy any new clothes or shoes, didn't go to hairdresser appointments, etc. Nevertheless, it was worth it. I now have excellent credit, can go to any bank, and get approved for a loan.

If you have questions on how to create a budget or any other personal finance issues send me an email at Good luck to you!