May 21, 2012 

So you just graduated! Yay! You have your cap and gown...and a mountain of student loan debt!! Wait. OK, so there is more to this whole graduating thing than you expected. But you can simplify your loans and pay them off more rapidly. Here’s how: 

  1. Consolidate your loans for simplicity – You may not get a lower interest rate but you will get the convenience of having just one payment to make. Cutting down on managing multiple accounts makes it easier to avoid late fees and keep up with due dates. For more information check out www.finaid.com.
  2. Check to see if you qualify for the Obama Special Direct consolidation program – This new program started in January 2012 and is available through June 2012. If you qualify, you can consolidate your loans and get a 0.25% reduction in interest rate. You can become eligible for another 0.25% interest rate reduction if the loan is repaid through an automatic debit system. For more information on the program and to see if your loans qualify visit this site.
  3. Make additional payments – By making additional debt payments every month you may be able to pay off your student loan a lot faster.  For example, if your student loan balance is $10,000 with an interest rate of 6.8% and minimum payment of $115 per month, it will take you 10 years to pay off the loan.  If you add another $100 to your monthly payment for a total of $215 per month it will take 4.6 years to pay off the loan.  Also, by paying $215.00 per month instead of the calculated payment of $115.08, you save $2,169.12 in interest charges.
  4. Get someone else to pay – I like this one. There a lot of occupations now offering to pay off your student loans as a recruiting tool. Programs such as AmeriCorps or Teach for America also offer grants to help you pay off your loans. Teaching in a low-income school may also qualify you for loan forgiveness.
  5. And don't forget: If you meet income requirements, you can deduct up to $2,500 per year in interest on any loans used for higher education.


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When dealing with debt, the best thing you can do is educate yourself about your options. Do your research and then work on paying your student loans down step by step. Soon you’ll be able to pay them off and focus on the bright future ahead of you. 


Brittney Castro is not affiliated with MadeWomenMag.com. Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.




Published in Personal Finance
Monday, 30 January 2012 09:05

Personal Finance | Know Thy Net Worth

January 30, 2012 

Net worth- What is it and how do we increase it?  Simply stated, net worth is the amount your assets exceed your liabilities. Do you make more than you spend? Women in general tend to shy away from knowing what their net worth is because (1) They think they don’t have enough assets to have a net worth (2) They have no idea what goes in the net worth calculation.  Whatever your net worth is, you want to get in the habit of checking in on it on a regular basis to ensure you are moving in the right direction financially.  Typically if you are saving and working on financial goals every year, your net worth should be increasing year over year.

So how do you figure out what your net worth is? First off, don’t be scared! To make it easy, just make a list of what you OWN versus what you OWE.

Examples of what you OWN Include:

  • Car
  • Checking
  • Savings account (and other cash accounts)
  • Home
  • Retirement accounts (401k, IRA, etc)
  • Business 
  • Your personal belongings (furnishings, jewelry, electronics, etc)

Examples of what you OWE Include:

  • Credit card debt 
  • Student loans
  • Mortgage debt
  • Business debt
  • Personal loans, etc.

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Knowing your net worth is an important step to becoming a Made Woman, however it is not the end all in financial planning.  Eleanor Blayney, CFP® states in her book A Woman’s Worth, “your financial success depends far less on what you have and much more on what you do with what you have.”

So remember as you calculate your net worth (OWN-OWE) there is no good or bad net worth, but rather a number that you should check on every year and work on increasing every year. Once you know your net-worth you will be able to plan for your future and live within your means. Having this knowledge gives you the power to make better decisions. 

For further information I invite you to check out my blog or email directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Brittney Castro is not affiliated with MadeWomenMag.com. Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895.



This month we are bringing you "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself". Each day we will release updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Join us as we seek to reflect, refocus, and reward ourselves! Check back daily on our 30 Days of Made tab to see what's new!

Published in Personal Finance