Your Money Maintenance Quick Guide to Help You Reach Your 2018 Goals

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

money maintenance quick guide

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If you want your car to remain in excellent condition, you have to follow a specific maintenance schedule to keep it running smoothly. Oil changes, fluid flushes, and belt replacements can get expensive over time, but they’ll help you avoid even costlier repairs that arise from complacency and neglect.

Much like your car, creating your financial plan should include a maintenance schedule to help you stay on top of your money management and reach your financial goals sooner.

Having a set of tasks you do at specific times throughout the year may sound like more work. But it’s actually saved me time because I always know what’s going on. I don’t have to spend much time with each task and the peace of mind is worth the work.

Your money maintenance schedule for 2018

As you follow this money maintenance schedule, you’ll be able to better track where your money is coming from and where it’s going. You’ll also improve your chances of becoming more financially secure over time.


Track your spending: If you don’t know where your money is going, you’ll have a hard time controlling your financial future. You don’t necessarily need to log in to each of your online credit card and bank accounts every day, but you should consider using budgeting software that imports your transactions from all your accounts into one place.

Some budgeting applications also offer other features such as spending by category, budget maximums, and monthly reports to help make the process easier.

That way, you can check your purchases every one to three days to make sure your spending is aligned with your financial goals. Options include Mint, PocketGuard, and YNAB.

money maintenance plan

Image credit: YNAB

Check in on your cash budget: If you strictly use cash for your budgeting, it’s important to do a daily check to see how much you have left in your wallet. If you run out early, it might be a sign that you’re overspending or not getting enough cash from the bank each week.


Update your budget: Besides keeping track of where you spend your money, you’ll also want to categorize your purchases based on your monthly budget. This can get tricky if you buy items in multiple categories in the same purchase, but it shouldn’t take too long to categorize purchases once you get the hang of it.

This is also a good opportunity to determine whether you need to adjust your budget to include necessary expenses for which you didn’t previously plan.

Review your spending: Once you’ve updated your budget, review your spending to make sure you’re on track with your monthly plans. For example, if your grocery budget is $500 and you’ve already spent $400 halfway through the month, you’ll want to cut back the rest of the month to avoid going over budget.

Create a meal plan: One way to save money on food is to create a weekly meal plan. That way you don’t end up throwing out stuff that goes bad because you never had a plan for it. And by planning in advance, you can try out new recipes rather than just getting the same ingredients over and over again.

Get cash for the next week: If you use cash for some or all of your spending, visit the bank and get all the cash you need for the coming week. This will be especially helpful if you use the cash envelope budgeting system.


Create your monthly budget: Your budget is the most basic financial planning tool you have, and it’s also one of the most effective. Each month you should evaluate the previous month’s budget to see how you did.

For example, know where you overspent or came in under budget. Look for surprise expenses that you didn’t plan for and try to improve your forecasting. Then create one for the upcoming month.

Make tweaks as needed to keep yourself motivated but also to prioritize your financial goals. To do this:

  1. Write down each goal.
  2. Organize your goals in order of importance and urgency.
  3. If you have a partner, make sure your goals and priorities align.

Also, if you notice that you regularly go over your budget on a category, it could also be that you’re underestimating how much you need.

Evaluate your debt payoff strategy: If you’re working on paying down debt, double-check every month to make sure you’re still on track. For example, are you putting enough toward your debt each month? Can you make more room in your budget to add more extra payments toward your debt?

If you have credit cards, consider whether it’s a good idea to consolidate your credit card debt to lower your interest charges.

Revisualize: It’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing all these things. Create a vision for your financial plan and why you want to meet the goals you’ve set. How you do this is up to you.

You can create a vision board, fill out a Google Doc, or write it on a piece of paper. The important thing is that you put it in a place where you’ll see it every day. Then, take time to revisualize that motivation to keep you from losing focus.

Check your credit score: Your credit score typically gets updated once a month as creditors report your account information to the major credit bureaus.

You can check your credit score through free online credit monitoring services such as Credit Karma and Discover Credit Scorecard. If you notice your score dropping, note what’s causing the decline and work on improving it. Keep in mind that Credit Karma and some other credit monitoring services don’t provide you with a FICO credit score, which is what most major lenders use.

But the calculations these scoring models use is similar to FICO’s, so you’ll still get a good ballpark figure.

reading your credit score

Image credit: Credit Karma


Check your investment account statements: If you have a 401(k), individual retirement account (IRA), or any other type of investment account, check your quarterly statement to see how your investments are doing. Check the portfolio’s return over the previous quarter and determine whether you want to make any changes.

If you have a financial adviser, consult with them about ways to improve your investment strategy. Keeping an eye on how your portfolio is doing can help you determine if you’re on track with your goals.

Check your credit report: You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year through

Checking your credit report can help you determine if there are any errors or if someone has fraudulently opened accounts in your name. You’ll also be able to see if you have any delinquent accounts or any other issues you need to address.

Calculate your net worth: Your net worth is calculated by subtracting your liabilities from your assets. This number is a snapshot of your current financial health. It can be a wake-up call or a sign that you’re making good progress with your goals. Consider using a net worth calculator to make the process easier.


Do your taxes: Roughly three-quarters of the people who filed individual tax returns in 2017 got a tax refund, according to data from the IRS, and the average refund was $2,782. So, even though doing your taxes feels like an unnecessary evil, it can be well worth the time and stress.

Before you get your refund, decide what to do with it. Some smart ideas include:

  • Adding to your emergency fund
  • Investing in an IRA
  • Paying off debt
  • Saving for some other financial goal

Tweak your tax withholding: If you got a big tax refund, you essentially gave the government an interest-free loan. That can be a good thing if you treat it as a kind of forced savings program. But if you’d rather get bigger paychecks throughout the year, ask your payroll manager to help you change your withholding allowances so that the government withholds less money in taxes.

Set annual financial goals: Take some time each year to decide what you want to do financially in the next 12 months. It can be anything you want, but some examples include:

  • Maxing out your IRA
  • Paying off a credit card or other debt
  • Hitting a savings goal in your emergency fund
  • Saving enough for a family vacation
  • Saving enough to afford a large purchase

Shop around for car insurance: According to, you could save thousands of dollars per year just by comparing car insurance. Car insurance companies are constantly changing how they determine risk, which could mean that you’re paying more than you need to be. Take an hour or so to compare your current rate with quotes from a few other insurers to see if you’re still getting the cheapest car insurance rate possible.

Negotiate lower monthly bills: While phone and internet companies sometimes increase monthly bills for their customers, your provider might be willing to lower yours if you ask. One way to get leverage is to research competitors and find ones that offer lower prices.

You can also try this with your credit card. Some credit card issuers might be willing to lower your APR or give you some other kind of retention offer to keep you happy.

Sell off unused items: Before my wife and I moved into our house last September, we had a lot of stuff that had been collecting dust in our condo. Instead of adding everything to the moving boxes with all our essentials, we took a moment to decide what we actually needed to keep.

We created two piles: a “keep” pile and a “sell” pile. When we were done dividing the items, we put everything from the “sell” pile on Craigslist. We didn’t sell everything, but the stuff we did netted us about $200.

If you haven’t used something in the past year, it’s likely that you don’t need it. Consider selling it on Craigslist or a local online marketplace to get some extra cash to pay down debt or save for the future.

Slow and steady wins the race

While a car maintenance schedule can help keep your car from breaking down often, the fact is that the value of your car still goes down over time. The value of your financial plan, on the other hand, can grow over time as you follow these maintenance tips.

Barring any big increases in your income, it will take time to establish a solid foundation and make significant improvements in your net worth. But as you hold yourself to your goals and vision, you’ll get where you want to be before you know it.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 8 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of December 13, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 12/13/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit, email us at, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.46% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% APR (without AutoPay). Variable rates currently from 2.31% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% (without AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.31% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.31% plus 0.75% margin minus 0.25% for AutoPay. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your credit history and the term of the loan and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

3 Important Disclosures for Figure.

Figure Disclosures

Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.

4 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

College Ave Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.

2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.

4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.


There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.


For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
For eligible Associates degrees in the healthcare field (see Eligibility & Eligible Loans section below), Lender will refinance up to $50,000 in loans for non-ParentPlus refinance loans. Note, parents who are refinancing loans taken out on behalf of a child who has obtained an associates degrees in an eligible healthcare field are not subject to the $50,000 loan maximum, refer to for more information about refinancing ParentPlus loans.


Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).

Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.

All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to for applicable terms and conditions.

For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.


The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.


The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.


After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.

We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.

If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.


This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.

6 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers.

7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.

8 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 12/019/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

1.99% – 6.89%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.31% – 7.36%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.06% – 6.81%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Figure

2.62% – 6.12%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit College Ave

1.99% – 6.65%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.99% – 7.06%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.85% – 6.13%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.90% – 8.59%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Published in Investments & Savings, Life & Family, Personal Finance