FINANCIAL PLANNING FOR
DREAMERS WITH A VISION

Financial Education System

Education For The Real World

Financial Literacy 101 includes hundreds of resources you can browse.


Budgeting and Spending

Why and how to budget.

A simple way to get the most from your monthly budget.

Looking for ideas for ways to save money now? Almost everyone can find a way to save using at least one of these tips.

It’s wonderful to have the freedom to buy so many products, but unless you’re rich, the key to happy spending is planned spending.

Understanding the benefits of IDAs, how to qualify, and where to find a program.

After you've identified your income and tracked your spending, it's time to compare the numbers, gain perspective, set priorities, and make changes.

A positive cash flow is a key indicator of your financial health.

A big part of budgeting is identifying income and listing expenses.


Buying a Car

An introduction to the basics of this major purchase and responsibility.

A look at four important factors to consider when choosing a car: fuel consumption, insurance rates, reliability, and depreciation.

Understanding the many costs associated with owning a car - from financing cost to taxes.

The pros and cons of leasing.

How a loan affects the total cost of buying a car.

How to "do your homework" before buying a used car.

Effective negotiation could potentially save you thousands on your next car purchase.

How to set a realistic target price for both new and used vehicles.

Know what to expect when negotiating the best deal.

Think the negotiating is finished when you agree on a price? Here's how to negotiate dealer extras and extended warranty pitches.

Twelve common mistakes to keep in mind when shopping for a car.


Buying a Home

Some pros and cons of buying a home, including a comparison with renting.

The parts of a mortgage and common mortgage loan options.

Factors to consider when making an informed "buy" or "rent" decision.

Before you buy a home, determine how much consumer debt is reasonable for you and what upfront costs you will have for your home purchase.

Having the right people on your side can help you make the best possible buying decisions.


Debt Management and Financial Trouble

Spotting the warning signs of excessive debt.

If you ever find yourself experiencing financial trouble, there are steps you can take to get back on track and to minimize the damage to your credit.

One of the first steps in getting out of debt is to analyze calculate your debt-to-income ratio.

Regardless of how you got into debt or how severe your debt problems are, these seven steps can help you find your way out.

Whether you do it yourself or work with a credit counselor, creating a debt reduction plan is an important first step for those with financial trouble.

The role of credit counseling organizations and how a debt management plan works to restore credit over time.

Consolidation and refinancing are tools that may help to reduce your debt.

The best way to find a good credit counselor is knowing what questions to ask. Here's a comprehensive list.

When it comes to building your plan for repaying debt, it's important to have a plan of attack.

How to spot a credit repair scam.

Understanding legal and illegal debt collection practices and how to report companies that ignore the law.

What to do if you are sued over debt.

The types of bankruptcy and why it should be used only as a last resort.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to removing negative items from your credit report or raising your credit score. Only consistent efforts and payments on your debts will...


Financial Aid: Paying for College

Why college may be a great investment, even though it has an increasingly high cost.

The main types of financial aid are education loans, grants and scholarships, work-study, and service programs.

Considerations when planning to pay for school, including school choice, employment options, accounting strategies, and the importance of borrowing wisely.

Some aid is based on financial need and some is not. What exactly is "financial need?"

Understanding your financial aid dependency status, including a discussion of what to do if the parents of dependent students refuse to help them pay for college.

The aid application process, including descriptions of the FAFSA and Profile forms.

A description of the main types of student loans, including government loans, consolidation loans, and private loans.

Questions every student should be able to answer before taking on a student loan.

When federal loans are not enough, private lenders such as banks, credit unions, and non-profit lenders can help to fill the gap.

An introduction to the agreement that specifies your rights and responsibilities when accepting a student loan.

Common repayment plans are outlined, as well as instructions for finding your loans and the consequences of non-payment.

Making smart choices about student loans, including a description of the impact of loan capitalization.

Financial choices about graduate school can be complicated. It pays to understand your borrowing and repayment options.

Why some students find themselves with too little aid and what can be done to make ends meet.


Financial Aid: Repayment Success

Flexible federal student loan repayment plans can help you avoid financial trouble and reach your financial goals.

Your repayment plan choice can greatly affect your monthly payment and the total cost of your student debt.

To repay your student loans, you need a comprehensive strategy to put your education debt in a larger financial picture that includes your income, non-education debt, and long-term...

Federal education loans all offer a grace or deferment period – a set amount of time during which repayment is not required. How you manage loans during your grace period can make...

Of all federal student loan repayment options, the Standard Repayment Plan is the quickest way to repay your loans at the lowest possible total cost.

After the Standard Repayment Plan, the Graduated Repayment Plan is the next least expensive way to repay your federal loan and offers lower payments for the first four years.

The Extended Repayment Plan spreads student loan payments over up to 25 years for those with federal student loan balances over $30,000.

This plan offers borrowers of qualifying loans a flexible payment schedule based on yearly income. A financial hardship is required.

Exclusively for Direct Loans, this plan offers borrowers of qualifying loans a flexible payment schedule based on yearly income. A financial hardship is required.

The Income-Contingent Repayment Plan can be a good way to work out a manageable monthly payment if you have high debt compared with your income.

The Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan helps Federal Family Education Loan Program borrowers keep up with payments even if their income is low.

Both deferment and forbearance can help you avoid financial trouble. If you think you might qualify, reach out to your loan servicer as soon as you first experience financial...

Loan consolidation can simplify the loan repayment process, but you must review the loans you plan to consolidate carefully – once consolidated, there’s no going back.

If you work in certain fields or for certain employers, a portion of your Direct Student Loan debt may be eligible for forgiveness.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program offers financial incentives intended to encourage individuals to enter the teaching profession.

Perkins Loans are administered differently than other student loans and include expanded cancellation or discharge options.

Your loan servicer is your primary point of contact when you’re repaying your federal student loans.

The National Student Loan Data System, commonly referred to as NSLDS, stores your federal loan information.

“Delinquent” and “Default” are similar words. Both refer to late payments, but the consequences of each are very different.

Your loan servicer’s job is to help you repay your education loans, but even experienced servicers sometimes make mistakes. Loans are your right and your responsibility so you must...

There are limited circumstances in which a borrower can be released from his or her obligation to repay student loan debt.

You can’t always prevent financial stress, but how well you manage it will make all the difference in how successful you’ll be in meeting your repayment obligation.

The consequences of defaulting on federal student loans can be severe, which is why you should take advantage of the options there are to help you avoid it. But, should you end up...


Financial Health

The concept of financial health, including smart decision-making.

While each of us may have different financial values, we all make decisions based on them.

Financial decisions almost always involve a trade off - getting something now usually means giving up something else.

Setting financial goals offers the chance to step back from everyday pressures, allowing us to think about how we’d like to be rather than as how we are.

No matter what your financial goal, it's important to have an accountability system in place.

No matter what your financial goal, it's important to have an accountability system in place.


Financial Planning

Learning the how and why of short, medium, and long-term financial planning.

A will is the cornerstone of the legal framework of an estate plan, and everyone should have one.

Everyone faces the possibility of temporary or permanent incapacitation. Make sure your wishes are followed.

Wills, trusts, and other end of life issues.

How to make sure your wishes are followed in a medical crisis.

A look at some of the financial considerations of getting married.

Planning for unexpected events, including accidents, death, and even the possibility of divorce, are all part of a responsible marriage.

Nobody gets married planning to get divorced. But sometimes, wedded bliss does not work out. Whether you’re contemplating a divorce or have already started the process, here are...

Part of the divorce process is reviewing all accounts, insurance policies and the like and determine what’s yours and what’s your spouses’.

If you get divorced, every aspect of your life can be affected including your finances. There are a number of actions you should not overlook.


Financial Services

Types of financial services accounts.

Not all financial services companies provide equal value.

Account management strategies for checking and savings.

Checking and savings accounts strategies for minimizing fees.

Suggestions for avoiding or minimizing financial service fees.

You are ultimately responsible when it comes to keeping track and managing your checking account.

The benefits and potential risks of overdraft protection.

Understanding why payday loans, check cashing services, and similar services are bad deals for consumers.


Having a Baby

Having a baby is not just a family decision, it's a financial decision too.

How to get your finances in shape before a baby arrives, including a budget review, paying down debt, making sure you're getting the best on any long-term debt, and creating an...

The non-childcare costs you can expect when having a baby, from cribs to health insurance.

An overview of different childcare choices and the financial implications of each.

Life is filled with unexpected events. Learn how to ensure the financial security of your child in the worst case scenario.

A review of the tax benefits that can help you manage the expenses incurred with children.

A look at the additional costs of raising a child beyond the first few years including the indirect costs.


Identity Theft

Understanding ID theft and how to prevent it.

Understanding the different types of identity theft and what to do in each scenario.

The three Ds of identity protection: Deter, Detect and Defend.

There are many data backup solutions available designed to protect personal information that vary in their security and ease of use.


Insurance

Understanding how insurance plays an important role in our financial lives.

Types of auto insurance, factors influencing cost, and choosing a policy that's right for your situation.

Who needs life insurance, types of policies, and how to determine coverage.

Understanding the benefits (and potential pitfalls) of this type of inexpensive insurance.

The various health insurance choices.

The benefits and costs of these often complex policies.


Managing Credit

Credit reports and scores determine the rates you pay when borrowing and can affect your ability to get certain jobs.

Credit and debit cards each have pros and cons. When should you use each?

Special challenges for students with credit cards.

Understanding the decisions and behaviors that can lead to improved credit scores.

How the new regulations work to protect card holders.

A detailed description of what to expect and look for when viewing a credit report.

Why understanding interest is crucial for comparing loans and for investing for your future.

With credit cards, interest on your purchases is only part of the equation - late payment fees, annual fees, and cash advance fees could cost you money too.

How lenders charge interest can have a big impact on your interest charges - and how you should manage the loan.


Renting an Apartment

Your rights and responsibilities when signing a rental agreement.

Simple strategies for managing your financial relationship with roommates.


Saving and Investing

The difference between investing and saving, and how to tell what's the best option for your needs.

The pros and cons of stocks, bonds, and cash. The concept of asset allocation is explained.

The types of accounts available to investors, including both taxable and tax advantaged accounts.

Why save for retirement and the impact of fees on investment performance.

How to develop a comprehensive retirement savings strategy.

A few simple things to keep in mind when starting a retirement savings plan.

An overview of the major retirement accounts, include Individual Retirement Accounts, Simplified Employee Pensions, and 401(k) plans.


Taxes

The federal government provides a number of tax deductions and credits that can help reduce your cost of attending college.

Making sense of the deductions taken from your paycheck. How "independent" workers have unique tax challenges.


Workplace Transition

An overview of topics covered in our Workplace Transition material.

No matter what your financial outlook is after leaving school, the concept of financial health is an important step towards long-term financial success.

Most young people tend to overestimate their starting salaries.

There are four main types of employee benefit programs: health insurance, retirement plans, tax-advantaged savings, and supplemental benefits such as life and vision care...

No matter how much or how little you earn, your spending habits play a major role in your financial health.

Student loan debt is often the first significant debt acquired by adults today. Repaying your debt responsibly helps you establish good credit and helps you qualify for the...

Employee benefits vary between employers, so it’s up to the employee to make the most of whatever benefits are offered.

Being a “professional” paves the way for both current and future success, no matter what career you choose. Professionalism requires you to draw upon a set of skills that may seem...

First impressions are important. New employees should take the time to prepare for the first day to ensure that they start off on the right foot.

Strong communication skills are essential to success in the workplace, but mastering these skills takes time and practice.

To be successful in today’s workplace, you need to know how to manage the limited amount of time you have to accomplish all of your tasks.

Effective networking can lead to success in your career both now and in the future

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This represents a partial list of clients. They have not been compensated and were not selected based on duration, performance, account size.