Follow This Monthly Budget Calendar to Save Big in 2018

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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.


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With 2016 underway, you probably have a resolution or two — lose weight, exercise more, finally ditch that one bad habit of yours. While you’re setting goals to have your best year yet, don’t neglect one key aspect of your life: your finances.

Your money situation affects all other areas of your life, yet it can be easy to disregard or put on the back burner. However, if you want to have a prosperous 2016, it’s time to get your finances straight. Here’s a monthly budget calendar to help you get your finances on track this year.


As the new year begins, it’s a good time to create a budget. Maybe you have one already or maybe you’ve never budgeted in your life. Regardless of your status, it’s a new year, with new goals, so it’s time for a new budget.

A budget is essentially a spending plan to help guide where your money goes. In each spending category, you’ll allot a certain amount of money.

Start by listing your fixed expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, transportation, and food. Then look at your variable expenses such as clothing, entertainment, extra-curricular activities, etc.

Make sure your budget reflects your goals for the new year! If you want an easy way to budget aside from using pen and paper, consider using a more robust tool like Mint or You Need a Budget.

A successful budget can help you with two things: spending less than you earn and giving every dollar a job. Isn’t it a good feeling knowing where your money is actually going?


Is your debt repayment on autopilot? Or are you panicking about your debt and have no plan at all? Now is a good time to fine-tune your debt repayment by doing a debt audit.

To start, tally up all of your loans and interest rates. Once you have the numbers in front of you, there are a few things you can do to spruce up your debt repayment plan.

  • Sign up for auto-pay. Most lenders offer a 0.25% interest rate deduction for student loan borrowers who opt into automatic payments.
  • If you have credit card debt, call up your lender and see if you can lower your interest rate.
  • Student loan borrowers can look into consolidation or refinancing to make managing payments easier. Through refinancing, you may be able to get approved for a better rate.
  • Borrowers with credit card debt can look into getting a personal loan to consolidate their debt and save money on interest.
  • If you can, put more toward your debt repayment than the minimum. Your game plan for this year should be to lower that debt as much as possible. As long as you’re in debt, your money is never truly yours.

This year you are going to become a debt repayment beast! Don’t let that borrowed money boss you around. Show ‘em who’s boss!


Now that you have a plan for your money and a plan of attack to get rid of your debt, it’s time to check your credit health. Why? Because your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life.

Your credit score affects whether you can get approved for things like student loan refinancing, a car loan, home loan, or even an apartments. You can check your credit scores for free using Credit Karma and get your free credit reports from the three major bureaus at

If you’re concerned about keeping your credit in good health, remember to always make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low. It’s best to use less than 30 percent of your credit limit or you may be perceived as a risk to your lender.


In April, you might be betting on a sweet tax refund. But while it’s nice to get a refund each year, as it feels like “extra” money, what if that money was disbursed in your paychecks instead?

Imagine what you could do with a little more money each month — pay off debt, put money toward your emergency fund, invest, or even just use it for something fun.

This month look at your tax situation and tax withholding to see if you should receive more income throughout the year instead of waiting until tax day to get money that already belongs to you.


It’s time to spring clean your finances and save some more money before the summer is here. This month, make it your goal to evaluate all of your expenses to see where you can save. Are you not using your gym membership? Cancel it and pocket the savings. Try calling your internet and phone provider to find out about lowering your rates as well.

Essentially, you want to challenge everything. At the end of the month, add up all the money you have saved and either put it toward your debt or put it in a savings account.


It’s time for fun with friends, BBQs, beaches, concerts, and more — which often means an increase in spending. Instead of focusing on pinching pennies, this month focus on getting a side hustle to earn more money.

Some things that you can do this month to start making money right away:

  • Become a brand ambassador. This has been my main side hustle and typically pays between $15 to $25 per hour. Essentially, you give out free stuff at fun events like concerts, tournaments, festivals and the like. Look for gigs on Craigslist, EventSpeak, and on Facebook under “Brand Ambassadors of [Your City]”
  • Do you have a car and a good driving record? Consider becoming a Lyft or Uber driver.
  • If you don’t have a car, but you have a bike, consider becoming a Postmate or renting out your bike on Spinlister.
  • Complete various tasks for others on TaskRabbit.

Having a side hustle can earn you a few hundred dollars per month, boost your confidence and enhance your social network.


In July it’s time to focus on celebrating your own Findepedence (financial independence)! Imagine a day when you don’t have to rely on your day job or worry about when your next paycheck is coming. Imagine NOT working until you die and retiring when you want. Sounds like a dream, right?

Through investing and saving for retirement, you can make this a reality — you just have to start. This month, put more toward your retirement. Be sure to contribute to your employer-sponsored 401(k) or IRA, especially if you receive a match.

Consider diversifying and also opening a Roth IRA, which can save you money on taxes later on. In addition, you can open up an investment account with a robo-advisor such as Wealthfront or Betterment to put your money to work. This month create a plan to grow your wealth and be consistent with your contributions.


As the summer comes to a close, it’s time to purge. Go through all of your belongings and commit to getting rid of things you no longer use. If you haven’t used something in six to 12 months, it’s a sign you don’t really need it.

Getting rid of physical clutter can help you feel less mentally cluttered. Not to mention, you could be sitting on a cash pile. You can sell your used items such as clothes, books, movies, appliances, etc. on Craigslist, eBay or by having a garage sale.

Clearing out old items and selling them can help you remove clutter from your life and make a few extra bucks so you can put more money to debt, savings, or fun.


This month focus on September Savings! Setting up a savings plan is so important for your financial well-being. Having money saved up for emergencies can mean the difference between an inconvenience and a crisis.

Saving regularly for your goals can help you stay within budget and get what you want out of life. This month, put your savings on autopilot and allot a certain percentage of your income to be automatically withdrawn from your checking account into a separate savings account.

Ten percent is a good number to shoot for, but if you can, save even more. Putting money away automatically and in a separate account can make it harder to access — which is what you want. Your emergency fund is for emergencies only! Not going on a last-minute vacation.

In addition to saving for an emergency, consider saving for your hobbies and goals through targeted savings accounts. I personally love Capital One 360 and have savings accounts for items such as “Travel,” “Moving Fund,” and “Taxes.”

This month, make sure you have a savings plan in place and make putting away money a priority.


In October, make sure your bases are covered from an insurance perspective. Hopefully you have health insurance through your employer, but if not, it’s time to get coverage during open enrollment.

Search for an affordable health plan that will protect you in case of illness. Make sure you understand what your insurance covers and what your costs are out-of-pocket.

In addition to health insurance, having renter’s insurance can help protect your belongings in case there’s an incident at your apartment or you are the victim of theft.

Life insurance is a must if you have children or are the sole breadwinner in your family. In addition, disability insurance may be a good option. Consider pet insurance to help lower the costs of unexpected vet bills.

This month, go through your insurance and assess what types of insurance you need and get covered. Ask yourself, “can I afford not to be covered?”


If you’re like me, you love going out to eat. I love restaurants, trying different foods, and the experience of hanging out with friends over a good meal. But let’s face it, restaurant spending can be a budget killer. This month, focus on batch cooking at making your meals at home.

Bring a brown bag lunch to work and cook ahead for the week so you have dinner ready for days. For one month, commit to using the extra savings to put toward debt.


December is a great time to give back. You can make your end-of-year contributions to your favorite charities which can serve as tax deductions, helping you out during tax time. Donate what you can and be sure to save your receipts. Giving back is a great way to embrace the holiday spirit while also getting a nice tax deduction.

The new year is a great time to take control of your finances. While you’re focusing on your health and career as well as other resolutions, you can improve your financial situation, too.

Improving your finances might seem daunting, but with this handy monthly budget guide, you can take simple steps each month of the year to rock your finances in 2016. Here’s to your best year yet.

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

2.29% – 6.65%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.99% – 7.06%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.81% – 6.29%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 Big Money Decisions, Budgeting & Expenses, Spend Less