How would the new rules for FAFSA form affect you?

how fafsa rules affect you

Good news for all the parents and high school students. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA form will be available 3 months early this year. This means you can apply for financial aid from October 1, 2016.

This new change will have a big impact on the high school students and their families. Here’s how.

1.You can easily give all the financial information: You can use the figures from your 2015 income tax return when applying for 2017-18 financial aid. This means you use your ‘prior-prior’ tax information instead of estimating your income, which you have probably done in the previous years.

As per The Department of Education, 2 million Pell-eligible students couldn’t apply for the financial aid last January 1 due to the complex timing with tax filing.

2. You can avoid getting selected for verification: The IRS Data Retrieval Tool makes the filing process simple and easy. You can directly import the numbers into your FAFSA form and thus avoid getting subjected to verification. In the previous years, one-third of applications were subjected to verification. Hopefully, this figure will drop significantly with this tool.

3. Your child can file for FAFSA when applying for colleges: The three months early availability of FAFSA will be beneficial for mostly low-income students since it prolongs the filing period for most colleges and gives counselors more time to guide students.

4. You may come to know about financial aid awards sooner: One of the reasons to change the timeline is to help colleges inform accepted students about financial aid awards promptly and give them more time for making the final decision. It is tough for the students to decide on a college by May 1 after receiving award letters in April. This year, the situation will be different.

A few colleges will send award letters quickly while others may stick to the same timeline. If students don’t have no clue about when they can possibly get financial aid package, then they should contact the school.

And, finally,

Have your financial situation changed lately? Are you worried that your 2015 income tax return doesn’t reflect your present financial scenario? If so, then just submit the FAFSA and visit your child’s college once he’s been accepted. Give your recent financial update and request for a professional judgment review.

Should you break up with your boyfriend since he has student debt?

Aww! This is a tricky question since lots of things are at stake – your financial state of affairs, your relationship and your future. But should you dump your boyfriend just because he has lots of student loan debts? Should you get out of the relationship?

If you ask me, then my answer would be to not to get out of relationship just because of this reason. Don’t leave the hand of your boyfriend simply because he is in financial trouble. Rather, try to find out the answers to these questions.

How is your boyfriend dealing with his student loan debt?

What is your boyfriend’s attitude towards his student loan debt? Is he too casual about it? Is he taking various steps to pay off debt? Is he taking careful steps so as to avoid getting into fresh debt problems?

An individual with a positive mindset will take all the possible steps to get out of debt. He will spend less than what he earns. If your boyfriend is trying his best to resolve his debt issues, then don’t leave him. Rather, suggest tips that can help him to pay off his student loans as soon as possible.

I would rather be with a person who is drowned in debts and making additional payments to attain financial freedom than a man with zero debt but not saving a penny for the future.

Is the situation too bad?

Don’t get scared by the figure. Rather, look at the broader financial picture. How quickly can your boyfriend get out of debt when both of you put an equal effort towards it?

Put together your income, debt and expenses. Find out which assets can be sold and how much you can potentially save by living together. The overall financial picture may not be as dull as you think.

Last but not the least

Are you compatible with your boyfriend? If it is a long-term relationship, then you would know the answer. Are you stressed out just because of the financial issue or are there other problems too? See, if you have compatibility issue with your boyfriend, then step back. But, if you’re simply scared due to debt issues, then I would suggest you to give a second chance to this relationship.

Financial compatibility is important. This implies that both of you should have similar financial values. This is why you need to discuss how your boyfriend is dealing with his debt problems instead of focusing on the fact that he has debt. Look at the broader picture. Think how your financial life would be like after marriage. These little things will give you a clue if your relationship would work out.

Credit cards – People who would be better off without plastics

people who should avoid credit cards

Should you accept credit cards gladly? Those who can use credit cards smartly, the answer is most likely ‘yes’. But what about those people who are not good at managing finances? Should they use credit cards?

Although credit cards offer lots of benefits and rewards, but there are a few kinds of people who should avoid them by all means to save their financial health. But, who are these people? Find out from this article.

People who should run away from credit cards

Credit cards should be a big ‘no’ for the following kinds of people.

  1. Those who can’t pay bills on time: Have you met someone who can’t pay phone bill on time? This person can easily get away by paying a late fee or reconnection charge. But the same person has to face serious consequence for not paying credit card bills on time. His credit score will be damaged. On top of that, he has to pay late fees, penalty and high interest rates.
  2. Damaged credit will make it tough to qualify for a home loan or an auto loan. At that point, the defaulter would think why he did accept credit cards.

  3. Those who don’t read fine print: Anyone can use credit cards. One doesn’t have to be a scholar to use a credit card. Unfortunately, several card holders don’t know how interest rates are applied and the ways to avoid fraudulent charges. Just as people shouldn’t plan to offer a homemade meal to guests without knowing how to cook, people shouldn’t accept credit cards without being aware of the fundamental laws.
  4. Those who are reward fanatics: Some people make useless credit card purchases just to get rewards. They spend more to earn extra reward points subconsciously or unconsciously. They don’t realize that rewards are almost nothing in comparison to the interest if they fail to pay outstanding balance every month.
  5. Those who are struggling students: There is a reason why CARD Act of 2009 made it hard for college students to qualify for credit cards. Students live under a tight budget. A few dine outs, books and parties can fetch a huge credit card bill for students.
  6. Contrary to the popular opinion, I feel students should focus on savings and living with cash instead of using credit cards. They will get lot of time to build credit history.

Conclusion

Credit cards are a good option for consumers who can make full payments every month. Reward credit cards are tough to qualify. So, people with bad credit can try for simple credit cards they can afford every month.

Mother’s Day – What I am planning to give my mom without paying a penny

mother's day

Is there any special significance of the Mother’s Day? I don’t think so. For me, everyday is Mother’s day since she is the one who works round the clock every day. She is the one who takes care of the family and her professional life with a smile on her face. But, since there is one day (May 8) designated to acknowledge the painstaking contribution of mothers around the world and my mom loves to celebrate it, so I’m not complaining. Here I am with a list of gifts that I’m planning to give my mom this year. And, the best part of these gifts is that I don’t have to spend a penny to give these gifts to mom.

  1. Treat her like a queen: Usually, mom does all the household chores. This year, I’ll take a day off from my office and spend the day with mom. I will do all the household work – cleaning all the rooms including the bathroom, washing all the dishes, cooking food and washing clothes. Plus, I will serve a nice breakfast in her bed followed by a sumptuous lunch at noon. In the evening, I will go for a walk with her and then serve her favorite meal at dinner.
  2. I’m planning to spend the weekend with mom. So, I’ll get more time to spend with her. I’ll pamper her like a princess and do all her work on Saturday and Sunday.

  3. Give her digitalized pictures: I grew up in the 90s. Like most families, I have a huge collection of printed photos of my mom’s pre-motherhood life, her wedding and my childhood. These photos are pretty old now. I have decided to scan all the photos and save them in a cd. She can revisit our old memories during her free time and enjoy.
  4. Make her smart: My mom is hopeless when it comes to using a smartphone. This year, I have decided to teach her the tricks of using a smartphone. It will test my patience, but I am ready to do it for the sake of my mom. I will download all the required apps, organize them and then teach her how to use them.
  5. Words straight from my heart: Mom has done a lot for me. Since I am a writer and know how to play with words, so I have decided to write something for her in a notebook. I have already started writing about her. Every evening, I am writing that is coming to my mind – our memories, things I love and hate about her most, her place in my life, and so on. I plan to finish it this Thursday. Let’s see.
  6. Give her a DVD: I have downloaded all her favorite movies and saved in a DVD. If we get time, I will watch a few movies with her during the weekend. Rest, she can watch in her free time. I will save some of the movies on her laptop and smartphone. She can at least watch those movies while traveling.

Conclusion

Words are not enough to appreciate mom’s contribution in my life. No matter what I do, it won’t be enough for my mother. Still, I will try my best to make mom happy this weekend. Perhaps, the time I get to spend with her would be a precious gift for both of us.

What have you planned to do this Mother’s Day? Share your ideas and thoughts with us.

Ever wondered why your spending freeze didn’t work?

‘Spending freeze’ is not for everyone. It is definitely not for the people who live in an imaginary world. And, it is certainly not for the people who can’t control their habits of spending unnecessarily.

Every month, I receive loads of messages and emails with the subject – “I tried Spending Freeze but it failed miserably – Do you know why?”. Now, there are essentially 2 reasons why spending freeze fail – (a) not having a proper plan (b) not working on the problems that make you overspend.

  1. Not having a proper plan – You would never be successful without a realistic plan. You need to have a plan to survive. If you have decided to not purchase groceries, then the first thing you need to do is take a survey of your pantry. Make meal plans on the basis of what is there in your pantry. Decide when you have to visit the supermarket and the amount you need to spend.
  2. Not working on the problem areas – See, it is not easy to endure a spending freeze. If you have a habit of overspending, then you’ll have the urge to buy things that are not necessary. And, if you start buying things that are not necessary, then ‘spending freeze’ would never be successful.

Find out why you tend to overspend. Think seriously about your spending triggers and focus on the ways to control them before a spending freeze. This would help you go through the spending freeze successfully.

Some tips to have a successful spending freeze

  1. Decide what you intend to do with the money saved during spending freeze.
  2. Decide the tenure of the spending freeze
  3. Scan your pantry and plan your meals to survive
  4. Find out if you have all the essential items during the spending freeze
  5. Be prepared to spend some money on necessary items like gas
  6. Come up with creative ideas to survive with what you have
  7. Distinguish between your wants and needs

Don’t for a shopping spree after the no spend period ends. You have saved a lot of money. Congrats! Now, is the time to use the saved money wisely. You can keep the money in your savings account. You can even use the money to repay your debts. The choice is absolutely yours. But, don’t misuse the money. Otherwise, your hard work would be a complete waste.

Have you tried spending freeze? Did it work? Do you want to go for a spending freeze? Share your comments.

How does your skin react when you are under stress?

how skin reacts under stress

Stress or depression has a detrimental effect on your skin. For instance, when you are in stress, you tend to forget about yourself. You skip foods, lose sleep and succumb to drinking. These factors affect skin directly – your skin becomes dry, pale and full of blemishes. You stop taking care of your skin like before and this itself increases problems.

What causes stress or depression?

A painful breakup, too much work pressure, tension, lack of sleep and lack of exercise can lead to depression. Depression generates ‘stress hormones’ adrenaline, DHEA and cortisol. These lead to a lot of changes and skin problems.

What kind of skin problems you may have?

  1. Blackheads, whiteheads and clogged pores due to sebum production in the skin.
  2. Swollen eyes and dark circles due to lack of sleep.
  3. Skin problems such as psoriasis, seborrhoeic and acne.
  4. Fine lines, pigmentation and wrinkles appear on the skin.
  5. Skin becomes dry and dehydrated.
  6. Rashes and hives appear on the skin.
  7. Hair loss

What can you do avoid skin problems?

  1. Take care of your skin and have a proper diet.
  2. Avoid junk foods, cigarettes and alcohol.
  3. Meditate everyday to release your stress.
  4. Go for a spa treatment and pamper yourself.
  5. Don’t give up the practice of – cleansing, toning and moisturizing your skin.
  6. Drink lots of water everyday.

Stress can ruin your mental peace and harm your skin. Try to calm yourself when you are in stress. I know this is very difficult to implement in real life. But, at least try to think positive, meditate and reduce your stress. Follow your normal beauty regimen to stop the ageing process.

How to take care of your skin beautifully in spring

It’s time to bid adieu to chilly winter and welcome warmer weather. Spring is round the corner. Time has come to give up heavier creams and opt for lighter versions. Time has to come to change your beauty routine and look stunning in the spring season.

Here are a few tips that will help you look beautiful and fabulous in the spring season.

  1. Go for bright shade lipsticks: Spring is the season of beautiful colors. Apply a bright lipstick on your lips. Use a light sunscreen so that your skin is protected against the harsh sunrays.
  2. Choose the right shade for blush: I have a fetish for blush. Just choose a bright coral shade for the spring season. Bright lip color and blush will give you the perfect look in spring.
  3. Use a good sunscreen: Many people forget to use sunscreen during the chilly winter and warmer spring. But, it’s a brutal mistake. Use a sunscreen (preferably SPF 50) during spring. You can ignore a foundation but not a good sunscreen. It’s a must.
  4. Keep your skin hydrated: Drink lots of water to discharge harmful toxins from your body. This will help to give you a youthful glow to your skin. Apply moisturizer at least twice a day on your face. You should do it everyday. Wash your skin with a good face wash after returning from work, then cleanse it and then moisturize it.
  5. Take a shower: Pollution can damage your skin. Plus, harmful bacteria and microbes can cause rashes in your skin. So, take a shower once you’re back home from outdoors.
  6. Exfoliate your skin: Did you pay less attention to your body hair during the winter season? If so, then exfoliate your skin before going for hair removal treatments in spring. You can use any good exfoliating scrub before waxing. This would remove all the dead skin cells from your body. It would make the entire process of hair removal easy and safe.

Conclusion

Remember three words always – cleansing, toning and moisturizing. You can have a facial steam or you can use a mask to make your skin glow in spring or summer.

What to do when your boss is all set to kick you out of the office

Quite sure that you’ll be shown the door at your office? What will you do now? Should you just sit back and wait till your boss kicks you out of the office? Never. Take these 7 steps right now before you lose your job.

  1. Don’t keep personal files on your computer: Take backups of your personal files. Email those files to your personal email. Delete all the personal files from your computer because your boss would cut off network access soon. You may not get a scope to retrieve your personal items.
  2. Know about unemployment compensation: Find out how to apply for unemployment compensation. Know about the eligibility criteria. If you can’t save your job, then you need to apply for unemployment compensation as early as possible.
  3. Save as much as you can: Don’t splurge. There is no guarantee that you’ll get another job soon. But you need to survive till you get a job. So save as much as you can.
  4. Start looking for a job: Don’t wait till you’re fired. Start looking for a job. Upload your updated resume in the job portals. Apply for jobs. Make sure you take your exemplary work samples to your home. You may have to show them at the time of giving interviews.
  5. Get an appointment with your doctor: Book an appointment with a doctor and dentist while you still have insurance. Get a health check up done.
  6. Have a talk with your boss: Your boss has all the power to save your job. So, have an honest discussion with your boss. Tell him or her that you know he or she is not satisfied with your performance. In this scenario, you would like to know the ways to improve your performance. Listen carefully to what he or she says to you. His opinion would give you an idea about the future of your job. This discussion may help you to change the situation.
  7. Change your attitude: You have not yet lost everything. Change your attitude before you lose your job. Don’t miss out your deadlines at work. Don’t submit substantial work. Be polite and talk positively about the company. If required, talk to the top performers in your office. As for their suggestions. Your co-workers may be able to help you.

Last but not the least,

Even Steve Jobs was fired. So, don’t feel bad about yourself. Anybody can get fired. And, this doesn’t mean that your career is finished. You haven’t failed. This is just a bad phase in your life, and you’ll come out of it.

See also: 5 Proven ways to handle a Hitler boss and balance your career

Crossed credit limit? Pay $25 as a punishment

Shopped without any inhibition and crossed your credit limit? Thinking what will happen next? Well, first of all, you should feel lucky since the credit card company allowed you to go over your credit limit. After the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act came into effect, some credit card companies don’t allow consumers to cross their credit limits.

Anyway, let’s get straight to the point. Now that you have crossed your credit limit, the credit card company can charge you an additional fee between $25-$35. Plus, it would also hit your credit score badly.

What can happen when you cross your credit limit?

Credit utilization ratio is a major constituent of a credit score. It basically signifies the ratio of how much credit you have and how much debt you’ve on your shoulder. To have a great credit score, you need to maintain a credit utilization ratio between 30 percent and 10 percent.

Your credit score will drop when you max out credit cards. It is tough to predict how much your credit score will drop. But it will largely depend upon the condition of your credit score at the time you max out your cards. Your score will drop between 25 and 45 points when you have a 780 credit score.

The credit scoring model differentiates between a person who is at the threshold of crossing the credit limit and who has already crossed it. Those who have already crossed the credit limit are at a higher risk of default than those who have not maxed out their cards.

Do you know why credit scoring models penalize consumers? This is due to the fact that consumers can’t manage their credit cards properly. They spend beyond their financial means, make impulsive purchases, and as a result cross credit limits. This is a bad financial behavior and credit scoring models are not ready to tolerate it.

Conclusion

Remember, your credit score will drop when your creditor report the issue to credit bureaus. You can try to avoid the penalty by paying the balance before the statement’s billing date. Try to get information on how and when your creditor can report an over-the-limit balance to credit bureaus.

3 Reasons to celebrate Valentine’s Day one day later – Feb 15

reasons to celebrate Vday on February 15

Love is in the air. It’s the much awaited Valentine week. It’s a 7 day celebration of love. But contrary to the popular ritual, my best friend celebrates Valentine’s Day on February 15 with his boyfriend. And, her reasons are very clear. She says, “I can buy more chocolates and gifts for my boyfriend with the same amount. What’s the big deal in waiting for another 24 hours?”. Can’t agree with her anymore.

Here are the 3 reasons why I feel it’s great to celebrate the Valentine’s Day on February 15 every year.

  1. You can have quality food and spend quality time: This year, Valentine’s Day is on Sunday. Do you realize what this means? You’ll face a tough time in getting a nanny. Plus, most of the restaurants have been booked already. The food will be costly. Restaurants would be fully packed and you would not get any chance to share a cozy meal with your loved one. But if you celebrate Valentine’s Day on Monday, then you can share the same meal in privacy with your loved one. The food price won’t be expensive and there won’t be too much rush.
  2. Get Cupid’s goodies at half price: Nothing beats the joy of shopping for your loved one on the day after the Valentine’s Day. Retailers and florists would offer the same goodies (teddy bears, chocolates, cards) at huge discounts. Some retailers give 50-75 percent discounts on chocolates after the Valentine week is over. Buy all the goodies at half price and use the remaining amount to have a super romantic date with your spouse.
  3. You can avoid the maddening crowd: Want to watch a movie together? Wish to explore a shopping mall? Dying to dance together in a pub? Great! You can book movie tickets easily on 15th February. There would be less rush since it is a working day. There would be less crowd in a shopping mall or a pub. So, lovebirds can just be together and enjoy.

Conclusion

You know what I personally feel? Valentine’s Day is for the retailers because you don’t need to buy expensive gifts to prove your love for someone. In my opinion, love is caring for someone even when you’re angry with him or her. Love is something beyond designer dresses and accessories. If you’re in love, celebrate it every day. Share special moments with your loved one. Cook food for him or her every day. Look after her/his daily needs and requirements. Enjoy the feeling of being in love without spending a penny.