Tag: Career

Advertiser Disclosure

Eliminating Fees, Personal Loans

4 Companies That Help You Get Your Paycheck Early

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Financial emergencies have a habit of cropping up at the worst possible time — when you’re stuck in-between paychecks. Perhaps you need $250 for an emergency car repair, but you just paid rent and won’t have the funds until your next payday in two weeks. Normally, you might want to turn to a credit card or a payday loan, racking up onerous fees in the process.

What if you could get a portion of your next paycheck early without paying hefty fees or interest?

That’s the premise behind the following four services. They try to help workers make ends meet without taking on debt by giving them access to the money they earn when they earn it.

Activehours

  • Available if you have direct deposit.
  • Withdraw up to $100 each day and $500 per pay period.
  • No fees or interest.

ActivehoursWhat it is: Activehours is an app-based service available on Android and iPhone smartphones. Once you download the app and create an account, you connect your bank account and verify your paycheck schedule. You must have direct deposit set up and linked to a checking account.

How it works: In order to use Activehours, you need to upload your timesheet, either manually or by connecting a time-tracking account to the app (your employer must use one of the eligible timesheet partners in order for this to work). Using this information, Activehours estimates your average take-home hourly rate after taxes and deductions.

As you work, the hours will be automatically shared with Activehours, or you may have to upload your timesheet. You can then cash out a portion of your earned pay before payday.

You can withdraw up to $100 each day. Based on your account balances and Activehours use, the pay-period maximum could increase up to $500. The payment will arrive in your checking account within a few seconds, or within one business day, depending on where you bank.

Activehours doesn’t connect to your employer’s payroll. It connects to whatever bank account you use to collect your pay. The next time your paycheck hits your bank account, Activehours will automatically withdraw what you owe. There aren’t any fees or interest charges for using the service, however Activehours does ask for support in the form of tips.

DailyPay

  • Works with popular ride-share and delivery services.
  • Get paid daily for your fares or deliveries.
  • There’s no interest. You pay a flat fee that is subtracted from the day’s earnings.

dailypayWhat it is: DailyPay caters to workers who are employed by ride-share or delivery services, such as Uber, Postmates, Instacart, Fasten, and DoorDash. It can also be used by workers at restaurants that use delivery apps, such as GrubHub, Seamless, or Caviar.

How it works: After signing up for DailyPay, you’ll need to connect a bank account where DailyPay can send you payments. Next, you’ll need to connect your DailyPay account with the system your employer uses to track your hours. DailyPay tracks the activity within the accounts and sends you a single payment with the day’s earnings, minus a fee. Restaurant workers get paid for the previous day’s delivery earnings, minus a fee, from all the connected delivery programs.

About those fees…

Fees are based on how much you ear per day. As a driver or on-demand worker, when you make less than $150 during a day you’ll pay a $0.99 fee. For workers who earn more than $150 in a day, the fee is $1.49. Restaurant workers’ fees vary based on order volume, but are often around $2.49 for each payday. In either case, you’ll need to update your account with each service and redirect the payments to go to DailyPay.

PayActiv

  • Employer must sign up and offer PayActiv as a benefit.
  • You can withdraw up to $500 in earned income before payday.
  • $5 fee for each pay period when you use the service.

PayActivLogo-200PayActiv is an employer-sponsored program that allows employees to withdraw a portion of their earned wages before payday. While you can’t sign up on your own, you can ask PayActiv to contact your employer about offering the service. There’s no setup or operating costs for employers.

Once your employer offers PayActiv, you sign up and withdraw money as soon as you earn it. You can withdraw up to $500 early during each pay period via an electronic transfer or withdrawal from a PayActiv ATM (available at some employers’ offices).

The early payment comes from PayActiv, but it isn’t a loan and you won’t need to pay interest. Instead, your employer will automatically send PayActiv an equivalent amount from your next paycheck.

There is $5 fee per pay period when you use the service, although some employers cover a portion of the fee, according to Safwan Shah, PayActive’s founder. As a member, you’ll also get free access to bill payment services and savings and budgeting tools.

FlexWage

  • Employer must sign up and offer FlexWage as a benefit.
  • You’ll receive a reloadable debit card tied to an FDIC-insured account where your employer deposits your pay. You can add earned pay to your account before payday.
  • There is a flat fee of $3 to $5 for early transfers.

Flex WageFlexWage is an employer-sponsored program that relies on the use of a payroll debit card and integrates with employers’ payroll systems. If your employer offers FlexWage, you can get your paycheck deposited into an FDIC-insured account with the linked Visa or MasterCard debit card. You can also add earned, but unpaid, wages to your account before payday without paying any fees.

With FlexWage, the employer determines how often you can make early withdrawals and the maximum amount you can withdraw. Unlike PayActiv, FlexWage doesn’t act as a middle-man. Your paycheck advances will come directly from your employer’s account.

Bottom Line

These four companies work slightly differently, but they share the same basic premise: giving you early access to the money you earned, without saddling you with a painful assortment of fees. If you’ve had to rely on borrowing money in the past when funds are tight, these could be a better alternative to credit cards or payday loans.

Louis DeNicola
Louis DeNicola |

Louis DeNicola is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Louis at louis@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Life Events

The First 7 Financial Moves You Should Make When Changing Jobs

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The First 7 Financial Moves

Changing jobs can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.

There’s the thrill of beginning a new opportunity and advancing your career. But transitioning into a new role can also be a logistical nightmare, especially when it comes to your finances.

While we can’t help with everything, we can help you make the most of this transition from a financial perspective so that you avoid some common pitfalls and keep every last dollar you’re owed.

Here are the first 7 financial moves you should make when changing jobs.

1. Get the Skinny on Your New Paycheck

In addition to a change in your take-home pay, there may be a change the frequency and/or timing of your paycheck, either of which may require a change in habits.

As an example, maybe you’re currently paid twice per month on the 1st and 15th, but your new company will pay you every two weeks. That kind of change could mean a couple of things:

  1. Even if you are getting a raise, your paycheck may not be as big as you think, because your salary will now be spread over 26 paychecks per year instead of 24.
  2. You may need to adjust certain spending and savings habits to account for the fact that you’ll be getting paid on a different schedule. You should especially be careful about updating any auto-bill pay or auto-saving withdrawals through your bank account. If those were tied to your previous paycheck cycle, you could risk overdrafting your account.

Of course, you’ll also want to know how much you’ll actually be taking home with each paycheck after everything is taken out. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Your gross salary per paycheck. This is your annual salary divided by the number of paychecks you’ll receive over the year.
  • How much will be taken out for company benefits like health insurance and 401(k) contributions? More on this below.
  • How much will be taken out for taxes?

The website paycheckcity.com can help you estimate your new take home pay. Michael Solari, CFP®, the founder of Solari Financial Planning, recommends paying special attention to your withholdings on your W4, which may need to increase in order to avoid a large tax bill, or could decrease if you’re moving to a state without an income tax.

2. Split Your Raise 50/50

If your job change comes with a raise, congrats! Now it’s time to put that new money to work.

The key here is striking a balance between allowing yourself to live and being responsible. You don’t want to waste the money, but you don’t need to completely deprive yourself either.

Pam Capalad, CFP®, the founder of Brunch and Budget, advises her clients to put 50% of their raises towards spending and 50% towards savings and debt.

“If your net paycheck goes up by $400 each month, give yourself permission to spend $200 of that,” Capalad says. “Now you’ve given yourself some leeway to spend a little more each month, which is what would happen anyway, but you’re also committing a good chunk of your new earnings to savings.”

3. Prepare Ahead for Any Decrease in Income

New jobs don’t always mean higher pay. You may take a pay cut at a new job either out of necessity or in pursuit of a more enjoyable job.

Whatever the case, you should start preparing for the change as soon as possible, preferably before you actually change jobs.

  1. Estimate your new take-home pay and the expected difference in income.
  2. Start living on that decreased income ahead of time if possible.
  3. While earning your old income, put the difference into a savings account.

Following these steps allows you to adjust to the change ahead of time and build up some savings to help with any bumps in the road.

4. Know Your Health Insurance

Depending on the specifics of your coverage and your particular medical needs, your new health insurance plan could end up saving you money or forcing you to pay more out of pocket. Getting up to speed on how all of that works will help you prepare either way.

“Get familiar with the new deductibles,” says Capalad. “Make sure you know the new costs of any regular prescriptions you take, and talk to your doctor if you need to switch to brand name or generic, depending on what the new insurance will cover.”

If you are stuck with a high deductible plan, see if your employer offers access to a health savings account or flexible savings account, which allow you to cover medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. A health savings account can even be used as a retirement account. FSA accounts can also be used to help pay for childcare expenses.

5. Take Advantage of Employee Benefits

Companies offer all kinds of employee benefits, from life and disability insurance to free fitness equipment and child care reimbursement. These are valuable benefits that can save you money and add some security to your financial life.

Capalad recommends looking into worker benefits in your first week on the job, just to make sure you don’t forget and leave a valuable perk behind.

6. Rollover Old Retirement Accounts

Did you have a retirement account with your previous employer? If so, now is the time to decide whether to move the money.

Many 401(k)s are laden with high fees that eat away at your investment returns. But you don’t have to keep your money there once you leave. You can choose to roll it over to an IRA, or even into your new 401(k) if it’s a good one.

7. Make a Backup Plan

As hopeful and excited as you are about your new job, there’s the unfortunate possibility that it might not work out. You may not like it and want to leave, and you could also be laid off.

That’s why Eric Roberge, CFP®, the founder of Beyond Your Hammock, encourages people to have a backup plan.

“You really need to have a plan B,” he says. “You don’t want to get locked into a bad situation. You’ll end up resenting the move and your job performance will suffer.”

In addition to thinking about other potential opportunities, Roberge recommends building up a healthy emergency fund.

“That extra cushion will allow you to take a lower paying job that is more fulfilling, or cover you in case the unexpected happens and you lose the next job.”

Hopefully all that happens here is that you end up with a little extra money in savings, but no matter what you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing you have cash on hand if you need it.

 

Matt Becker
Matt Becker |

Matt Becker is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Matt at matt@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Life Events

5 Signs You’re About to Get Fired

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Job Security

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some way to know ahead of time when bad news was coming our way? When it comes to our job security, there definitely are some telltale signs of trouble.

If you catch the signs early enough, it may not be too late to save yourself. Other times, such as a company-wide layoff, the decision will be entirely out of your control.

Here are a few of the ways you might be able to tell your job is in jeopardy.

You haven’t been given new projects in a while

If your boss has overlooked you for recent assignments, you might tell yourself it’s just a slow time for the business. But pay attention. If everyone else around you is still busy with deadlines and meetings, it might be time to start questioning why you aren’t. Here’s an even bigger red flag: Your boss has been delegating tasks that you typically handled to other employees.

What you should do: If your boss has decreased your duties, look for ways to regain her trust. Brainstorm a few ideas to improve efficiency in your department or drive revenue and send your boss a project proposal that includes the names of people you would like on your team to help accomplish these goals, suggests Roleta Fowler Vasquez, a professional resume writer and resume expert for CareerBuilder.com. Showing initiative like that could help your boss see you in a new light and make co-workers eager to work with you again, says Vasquez.

You’ve noticed a change in your co-workers

It’s not likely that your colleagues would know about you being fired before you would (at least they shouldn’t). But if you sense a colder-than-normal vibe from your workmates, it could signal that they’ve lost confidence in your work or have stopped considering you as a part of the team. Some companies rely heavily on peer reviews, whether formal or informal. When your coworkers aren’t on your side, it could spell trouble for your future.

What you should do: Be as much a team player as possible. Let your colleagues know that you notice what a good job they are doing, and that you are always there to help. If the vibe doesn’t change, take one of your colleagues aside and ask them candidly if there’s anything you should know about your performance. He or she might be willing to open up about issues other workers have mentioned about your work.

Your boss is avoiding you

If you’ve been trying to schedule a meeting with your boss for weeks to no avail, they could be avoiding you purposefully. Apart from ignoring meeting requests, your boss might stop assigning you the same types of tasks that she always has in the past, simply to avoid the uncomfortable feeling that comes with conflict, which she might know is coming.

What you should do: Make every effort to continue to greet your boss with a smile and pleasantries. If you do finally get your meeting, Vasquez suggests using it as an opportunity to reestablish how committed you are to your job. Talk about the different career paths you would like to pursue within the company, even if it means making a transfer to another department or office.  “More directly, you could say that you have heard your job worthiness is being questioned, and that you are seeking advice on how to either improve your stance — always making sure to add ideas of your own, like an independent study or classes — or on how to exit with their good graces and a solid recommendation,” Vasquez says.

Your job description seems to have changed

It’s not unusual for the needs of employees to change frequently with an ever-changing professional landscape. But if it seems that all your important responsibilities have been whittled down to nothing and you’re left with menial tasks or responsibilities, it may be a sign your job is being phased out.

What you should do: Go into survival mode. If your specific job duties are quite narrow, show your team that you have skills in other areas they may need. Your manager should be transparent if your job responsibilities have changed, so you’re within your rights to go to your supervisor or Human Resources and ask for an official copy of your new description. “Normally, you are asked to discuss this with a supervisor or HR, sign it and you’re given a signed copy,” Vasquez says. “This legally protects both of you. If the wording indicates a new lateral assignment or worse — a demotion — you need to ask why it happened, and what you can do to avoid it.”

You’ve been asked to justify your job

The truth is, sometimes positions that once were valuable simply fall out of use (especially when a company is looking for ways to scale back and there are quite a few people on staff who have the same role as you do). If you’ve been asked by a superior to put together a note detailing your value to the company or what you do on a daily basis, it may mean that they’re trying to decide where they can afford to cut what they deem to be superfluous roles in the business.

What you should do: When large corporations are planning a significant round of layoffs, they often have consultants come in to audit the office and suss out any personnel “redundancies.” They’re on the look out for workers whose jobs overlap. “It’s not always because of something you did or did not do, but your job will be in jeopardy if you fail to justify your position,” she says. If possible, ask your boss why this is happening. If layoffs are unavoidable, be sure to show your team why your services are essential to the company’s mission and organization — explain your job tasks and how you perform them, and show the auditor how you go beyond the call of duty to get your job done.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: , ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Featured

6 Months After Settling Sexual Harassment Claims, a Worker Faces the Consequences

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Sexual Harassment Claims
Illustration: Kelsey Wroten for MagnifyMoney

Chelsea Jones thought she’d feel relieved.

In the spring, Jones’ employer agreed to settle her claims that she was sexually harassed by her manager. The matter was handled out of court, and Jones is not allowed to discuss the terms of the settlement. She agreed to share her story with MagnifyMoney under the condition of anonymity. We have changed her name and other identifying details in this story.

Soon after her settlement was finalized, Jones tendered her resignation. It was the end of a months-long battle to convince her employer that her manager’s unrelenting advances — offers to rub her back, late night texts and weekend phone calls — were worthy of of retribution.

But it was hardly a victory. Six months later, Jones, a single mother of a young daughter, is cashing unemployment checks and struggling to find a new job. As far as she knows, her former boss is right where she left him.

“The worst part is that I second-guess myself now,” said Jones, reflecting on the harassment, which she said began after she received a promotion last year. “I’m a hard worker, and I feel like I do a good job. But what if I’m not? Was I really good, or was it always about something else?”

Coming forward

Whether the employee is a famous news anchor or an office assistant, reporting sexual harassment at work is never an easy battle to wage alone. It’s arguably more difficult for the average worker, who may not feel they have the professional clout or the financial means to take action. Workers filed roughly 6,800 sexual harassment charges through the Equal Employment Opportunity Office in 2015, down 14% since 2010.

For Jones, speaking up was only the first of many challenges she faced. While her attorney squared off against her company’s legal team behind closed doors, she continued coming to work each day, where she said she was subjected to an increasingly hostile environment.

Even filing a simple human resources complaint can be rife with complications, exposing workers to forms of retaliation that, while illegal, can make it difficult to muster the willpower to keep fighting.

“[Workers] can be fired or suffer other consequences,” said Gary Young, an attorney who specializes in workplace harassment issues at the business law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck. “Even if you have your day in court and are vindicated, it can be a long road and it’s tough to go through the process.”

No one understands that process better than Jones.

Jones was in her late 20s when she started working for the Boston-area firm in 2013. For Jones, it was something of a professional comeback. She had recently ended a marriage and went back to school to earn her Associate’s Degree. She was thrilled to be hired and eagerly accepted a promotion a couple of years later.

The new title came with a higher salary and, she soon discovered, an increasing amount of unwanted attention from her boss.

“We were at a conference together, and he was offering to give me a back massage, to put his arms around my shoulders,” said Jones, now 30. The advances continued for months. According to Jones, her manager insisted on buying her gifts on her birthday and began texting her late at night and on weekends. She asked her manager to stop his advances, to no avail.

Worried that her coworkers would get the wrong impression about their relationship, Jones decided to report his behavior to her human resources manager.

“I was hoping to resolve the issue [through HR], and change my position so I was no longer sitting outside of his office,” Jones told MagnifyMoney. “My goal wasn’t to file a lawsuit.”

Dead-ends and demotions

Illustration: Kelsey Wroten for MagnifyMoney
Illustration: Kelsey Wroten for MagnifyMoney

HR proved to be a dead end. As a solution, her HR manager offered to put Jones in an administrative role in another part of the company. The new job would have moved her out from under her manager’s purview, but it was effectively a demotion.

She turned the offer down. In the ensuing weeks, her boss increasingly began cutting back her job duties, she said. He yanked her budget for a previously approved work project. She was told she could no longer use support staff to see the project through.

At a loss for what to do, Jones posted a message on a Facebook support group for single working moms. A member referred her to an employment attorney in her area, who offered her a free consultation.

“He said I’m young and if I file a lawsuit it will become public record and it could hurt my future employment,” Jones said. She agreed to give it another try with HR.

When she submitted another complaint, Jones said she received a warning: HR had noticed her performance was slipping and her colleagues were complaining. It was clear she was getting nowhere.

Jones went back to the attorney, who agreed to take her case. The attorney compiled all of Jones’ allegations — she had documented every unwanted advance, phone call and text message from her manager over the years — and sent a letter to her company informing them of the pending lawsuit.

“Once [my boss] got the letter, obviously it made everything way more hostile,” she said. “He didn’t speak a single word to me. I was going [to work each day] having no work to do. Then they started putting me on odds and end jobs not even related to what I was supposed to do there.”

She considered quitting, but Jones’ attorney encouraged her to hang tight.

It can in some cases help workers in sexual harassment cases if they keep working, said Paula Brantner, an attorney with Workplace Fairness, a non-profit that promotes employee rights, says . “First of all, you are required to give the company a chance to rectify the problem,” Bratner said. Quitting before a complaint is resolved can also remove some of the bargaining power in settlement negotiations. Companies are often eager to keep matters like sexual harassment under wraps.

Staying on the job can also give workers the opportunity to keep track of any retaliatory behavior. Workplace harassment lawsuits are often stronger if workers can prove their employer retaliated against them after they took matters to human resources. In Jones’ case, she was offered a demotion and her job duties shrank.

“Even if the initial harassment claim fails, the retaliation claim can subject the employer to as much or more liability as the underlying harassment claim,” said Brantner. “Judges and juries don’t like to see people [follow proper protocol], only to be subjected to more injustice.”

When her attorney reached a settlement with her employer, Jones decided to accept.

“One of the reasons I accepted a settlement instead of going to trial is that I didn’t want to be publicly seen as a woman who files these claims,” she said.

Her allegations will never be made public, but the ordeal has effectively stymied the beginning of what was a promising new career. Jones is still looking for a new job.  She worries about using her former employer as a professional reference, despite the fact that it was her first significant job in her chosen profession. While she continues her job search, Jones is studying part-time to complete her Bachelor’s degree. Under the terms of her settlement, she was entitled to collect unemployment benefits, which has given her a bit of a financial cushion. Her settlement award remains in a savings account, untouched.

“My goal with the settlement wasn’t just to get some payday,” she said. “I’d like to think it was enough to make him stop [doing this to other women].”

Handling harassment at work

We’ve spoken with legal experts and put together some tips for workers who feel they are facing harassment at work.

Identify the unwelcome behavior. Brantner, who has represented workers in harassment lawsuits, says the first thing to do is to recognize when you are being sexually harassed. She says sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is made explicitly or implicitly a term of your employment. It can also be conduct that interferes with your work or creates a hostile work environment.

Report the behavior to your human resources department or other supervisor. When you’ve identified the unwelcome behavior, Brantner says the next step is to report it and ask that it stop. “If the behavior continues after you have clearly communicated that you wish it to stop, you need to decide if you wish to take further action,” she says.

Document everything. If you want to bolster your case, Young suggests documenting any evidence of harassment. Keep a log that includes dates and times, as well as descriptions of the offensive behavior. Note your attempts to speak with human resources and the outcomes. Save emails and written notes to back you up. In some states it is illegal to record conversations without the other person’s knowledge, so check your state’s laws or consult an attorney before you take that route.

Be on alert for any form of retaliation. Speaking up about harassment in the workplace can trigger retaliatory behavior from colleagues. It’s important to keep close track of anything your colleagues may do in order to undermine your position after you have spoken up about harassment. The person you are accusing of harassment might try to make it difficult for you to do your job, or, in Jones’ case, demote you or remove your job duties. Document these instances carefully in order to support your case.

If your employer doesn’t act, contact a lawyer or the EEOC. If you aren’t getting results with your employer, Young recommends visiting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website to learn about filing a charge. You can use the EEOC’s assessment tool to get a better idea of what to expect. It takes about five minutes to use the tool, and you will be directed as to your next course of action. Some states have rules on how much time can go by before harassment suits are filed. The EEOC can help you expedite the process if needed.

Money doesn’t have to mean everything. Even if you don’t have unlimited financial resources to hire a legal team, you still have options. Many lawyers will take on workplace harassment cases on a contingency basis, which means they are paid once you have a settlement or win the lawsuit. For example, Jones’ attorney accepted a percentage of her settlement earnings as payment and collected no other fees. If you file with the EEOC or the Department of Labor, or with the appropriate office in your state, the government will investigate if there is probable cause to pursue a lawsuit.

Edited by Mandi Woodruff
Illustrations by Kelsey Wroten

*Names, dates and locations have been changed. 

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here

TAGS: , ,

Advertiser Disclosure

College Students and Recent Grads

9 Questions to Ask Before Accepting Employer-Tuition Assistance

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Tuition-reimbursement_lg

For the most part, employer-provided tuition assistance is a pretty sweet perk. Your work will literally pay for you to further your education, saving you tons of money while you’re bringing home a paycheck. More than 80% of organizations surveyed by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans in 2015 offered some sort of educational assistance or tuition reimbursement. Some of the more familiar names on the list of companies offering tuition perks include UPS, Home Depot, Bank of America, and AT&T.  Starbucks is probably the biggest brand to jump on the tuition-assistance bandwagon in the last few years.

But before you jump at the first tuition assistance package that lands in your lap, keep this in mind: companies don’t just hand out free cash and expect nothing in return. Tuition benefits nearly always come with strings attached…strings that could potentially turn you into a modern day indentured servant.

Ask your employer these 9 questions before you sign up:

1.How many hours do I have to work in order to qualify?

Some employers only provide tuition assistance or reimbursement to full-time employees, which generally means you’re working 25-40 hours per week. Others extend their program to part-time workers. But if you’re picking up a part-time job solely for this perk, it would be best to look into the time commitment first. If you don’t think you can handle a full-time job on top of being a full-time student, the programs that require 25-40 hours per week may not be for you.

2. Do I have to earn certain grades?

Some companies may demand you perform at a high level (earning As and Bs) in your courses in order to remain eligible for tuition assistance moving forward. If you don’t make the grade, you may find yourself getting stuck with your tuition bill at the end of the semester.

3. How long do I have to be employed before qualifying?

Like many other job perks, tuition assistance may come with a probationary period.  That means your job will require you to work for a certain amount of time before you become eligible. That period could be as short as 30 days and as long as several years. So, if you’re applying for a job and hoping they’ll cover classes that start in two weeks, you might be out of luck.

4. Is this tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement?

Generally, tuition assistance means that your employer will pay the school directly. Tuition reimbursement means that you’ll have to front the cash for your studies and get reimbursed by your job once your semester or term is over. Because these terms are often used interchangeably in HR circles, be sure to clarify before you sign up. You don’t want to be on the hook for classes you can’t afford upfront.

Pro tip: Sometimes your school’s Bursar office will let you make a partial payment as long as your employer sends in a letter asserting their intention to pay upon receipt. This policy will vary from school to school. Do your homework beforehand so you know what to expect.

5. Do my classes have to be related to my job?

Work at a bank but want to major in Medieval Literature? Your employer may not be so keen on paying for your education. While some employers will fund whichever degree you decide to pursue, others will only pay for courses related to a major that will strengthen a skill set relevant to your current job description. They can even refuse to pay for courses that have nothing to do with your day job even if they are required for your degree.

6. What is the max that will be reimbursed per semester?

Just because your employer provides tuition assistance doesn’t mean you’re getting a free ride. The IRS will want its cut. As it stands, you won’t pay any taxes on the first $5,250 your employer kicks in each year. But any amount beyond that is subject to payroll taxes. This can cause a huge headache for firms, so many companies just decide to cap their contributions to employee education at $5,250 per year.

7. What is the max I can use overall?

Some programs will only pay a certain lifetime amount. That means if you have to take a number of remedial courses or end up having to retake a class, your financial plan could be thrown off kilter. Be sure to examine whether the max benefit is measured in terms of time or dollars, too. If you only have a certain amount of years to finish your degree, you’ll likely want to become a full-time student rather than only attending part-time.

Time limits are frequently applied to other types of aid, too. For example, if you receive the Pell Grant, you’ll only get it for twelve semesters, and it can only be applied to one major. See if your employer’s tuition assistance program has similar limitations.

8. How long do I have to stay with the company after I graduate?

Your employer doesn’t want to pay to educate you just to lose you to the next highest bidder. They’ve invested in your education, and are going to want to protect that investment. For this reason, most employers will have a Tuition Payback Clause. Read this carefully, as it may be something you can negotiate.

Typically, these clauses cover three distinct situations. The first is voluntary separation, where you quit or leave for another company. If you do this within a certain timeframe of accepting tuition assistance, your employer is likely to make you pay them back for the part of your education that they funded.

However, some employers will make you pay them back if you are terminated with cause. That is, if you are fired for an action that would prevent you from collecting unemployment benefits, you’re probably going to have to pay them back for your schooling, too.

In an even nastier twist, some employers will require you to pay them back if you are laid off. If you see a clause like this in your tuition assistance agreement, consider it a huge red flag.

9. Can I set up tuition assistance if I’m self-employed?

Yes! In fact, if you are a sole proprietor attending college, it can be wise to set up a tuition assistance program for yourself. The amount of money you allot to your education will not count as taxable income up to that $5,250 mark. That means by setting aside tuition funds up you’ll effectively be lowering your taxable income for the year.

Keep in mind that when you establish this as a benefit of your business, you may disqualify yourself for things like the American Opportunity Credit. Sometimes costs over $5,250 can still be claimed under such credits as long as they were used on tuition, fees or necessary materials like textbooks.

Before filing your taxes, you need to make your tuition assistance program official. Have a professional help you write a legal document that will satisfy the IRS should you ever get audited.

Know what you’re getting into

Tuition assistance programs can make college more affordable, and translate into a higher paycheck. Just be sure you know program limitations and stipulations before signing on the dotted line. It could save you time, headaches and potential budget fails later down the road. If tuition assistance isn’t available, check to see if your company helps pay off student loans.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne at brynne@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Life Events

6 Steps to Take When You’re About to Get Laid Off

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

6 Steps to Take When You’re About to Get Laid Off

About four years ago, one of the very first companies I worked for out of college was bought out by two of its biggest competitors resulting in job insecurity for many of the employees. I’ll never forget the day we got the news.

One morning, an email for an emergency telecall was sent out to everyone. We all gathered around to listen on speakerphone as an executive explained that our competitors acquired our company. At the end of the brief call, he finished with something like “good luck to everyone”.

It sent shock waves through upper management. Little by little representatives of the new companies began restructuring. The bright side of the situation was that we all got a decent amount of time to decide if we wanted to be a sitting duck or if we wanted to proactively look for a new job.

Find yourself in a similar position? Here are a few tips:

1. Get a Headstart on the Job Hunt

My counterparts told me the low-level management position I held was fairly safe. That didn’t stop me from sending out some resumes anyway. If I had to leave the company, I wanted to do it on my terms. I landed an interview and a new job shortly after we listened in on that shocking telecall announcement.

At the end of the day, it’s easier to look for a job while you have a job. You don’t have to explain gaps in employment. Collecting unemployment is also something to consider if you simply can’t find a job before your position is made redundant.

2. Downsize, Downsize, Downsize

Downsize your lifestyle wherever you can as soon as you get the feeling your job is on the chopping block. Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, financial educator and speaker, rented out her home to pay the mortgage when she was laid off from her position.

She moved in with family during this time to make ends meet. She also cut out all non-necessities like eating out and her gym membership. Review your budget carefully to remove all expenses that you can survive without. Make the serious budget cuts now so you won’t have to scramble to pay bills later when layoffs happen.

3. Use Your Discretionary Income Wisely

While still making a steady income, beef up your emergency savings with the excess money you can squeeze out of your budget. Prepaying bills is another way to put your discretionary income to use while still employed in order to ease the financial burden later on.

Sandy Smith of Yes, I Am Cheap had notice before leaving her job and prepared for it well in advance. She prepaid three months of her car note and two months of her mortgage to avoid feeling the pinch when she was out of a job.

4. Bring in Income from Other Sources

Even though you may not find a new permanent position quickly you can still earn income in other ways. Sandy ended up staying home for 6 months and fell back on various side hustles to bridge the income gap. She continues to chronicle her adventures in side hustling on her blog. According to Sandy, everyone has a talent that they can make money from.

Tap into skills and education that you already use professionally. There are also many legitimate side jobs you can do online like selling on Amazon, freelancing or virtual assisting.

5. Take Advantage of Your Health Insurance While it Lasts

Sherrian Crumbley of KNS Financial recommends getting last minute physicals and dental visits in while you can. Then, she suggests pricing out COBRA and individual health insurance to see which one will benefit you more after you’re laid off.

For a quick overview, under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act or COBRA for short, employees that experience a serious life event (like getting laid off) can get a continuation of coverage under an employer’s group plan for a limited amount of time.

While using COBRA, the full cost of coverage may get passed on to you by the employer plus administration costs. This may not be the most affordable option. Check out the health insurance marketplace to compare costs. And keep in mind, going without health insurance altogether while jobless can result in tax penalties.

6. Rollover Your 401(k)

What should you do with your 401(k) when leaving the company? First, check how much you have vested in your 401(k) balance. Your vested balance is the percentage that you can take when leaving a company depending on the terms of your employee match.

One popular option is rolling over your 401(k) balance to another tax-deferred account like an IRA. You can do this easily by opening an IRA account and requesting a transfer of your 401(k) balance directly to the new IRA.

Whether or not you should cash out your 401(k) to pay the bills while you’re out of work is another story. Taking money from your 401(k) before you hit retirement age has tax implications that you may regret later.

For instance, Tiffany took out money from her 401(k) as a last resort during unemployment and was hit with a sizeable tax bill and withdrawal fees which she now believes was a mistake. Rhonda J. Williams, speaker, financial coach and founder of Exodus Financial Education Group, experienced a layoff in the past as well and withdrew from an account she had been investing in for 15 years.

According to Rhonda, “[now] it would be close to impossible to make up the time and compounding interest I lost.” After recovering from these experiences, both Tiffany and Rhonda now run successful businesses providing financial education to others in need.

If you have no savings and you’re about to get laid off, dipping into your 401(k) could be a last resort. Before that, you may want to consider other resources for money first like a low-interest personal loan.

Final Word

You’re not alone. Going through the fear of job cuts and becoming unemployed can feel like an isolating experience. Yet, it’s an experience that many of us go through.

The benefit of hearing whispers about layoffs around the water cooler is that you can prepare in advance. At a bare minimum, reel in your spending and hunt for jobs to make sure you don’t have the wind knocked out of you when your position is eliminated.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

News

How to Make the Best Impression At Your First Job

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Female Woman Sitting At Interview

Whether or not you worked all through high school and/or college, those early days (or months, even) at your first job out of school are bound to bring on the nerves. There’s a lot to learn about office politics, how to behave, how to best deal with co-workers and bosses, all before you even start trying to perfect the skills you’ll need to perform your new job to your optimal ability.

Here are some things to keep in mind that will hopefully help you navigate those first tricky days in the real world, when everything might seem scary and totally brand new.

1. Have an open mind and be flexible

Probably far and away the trait that will help get you through the first couple months at your new gig is the ability to be flexible. So you were told you’d be reporting to two people and now it’s three, and the desk they showed you at your interview is actually half a mile from where you’ll actually be sitting (near the noisy kitchen facing a brick wall). Repeat after us: It’s all good. While there are certain things that won’t be okay to have pulled out from under you after you start working (like your salary and benefits, for example, but that’s why you get everything in writing before signing on the dotted line), the quicker you can realize that everything else is open to change, the quicker you’ll be able to adapt to the curveballs that surely will be thrown your way.

2. Be a team player

The sooner you can prove to the staff that you’re on their side and eager to be a part of the team, the sooner you’ll start winning people over and making strong, valuable first impressions. Of course being a team player doesn’t mean you sit back and only do what you’re told, but be strategic in terms of when and how you decide to share your own thoughts and opinions (which you absolutely should!). Taking the first couple of days to get the lay of the land and understand how work flows through the office before suggesting your 20-point plan for increasing productivity might be a good idea, for example.

3. Never be without a notepad

Those first couple of months at your new job will be chock full of things you’ve never done before, phrase you’ve probably never heard and people you’ve definitely never met. Keep a notepad and pen with you at all times and take diligent notes to avoid having to follow up multiple times on the same point. Having said that, always ask questions if you have them, rather than doing something incorrectly the first time and needing to fix it.

4. Be busy all the time

While it will probably take you a while to get into the groove of your new gig, and it might be hard for your boss to break away throughout the day to explain projects to you or help point you in the right direction, be sure that you’re using any down or free time you have to your advantage by tidying up where you see messes, researching on upcoming or past projects your company has undertaken or anticipating things your boss might need before he or she even has to ask (low on printer paper or toner? Work on getting those things refilled before your boss even notices.) It also doesn’t hurt to show up a little early and stay until you’re basically told to leave those first couple of weeks. A good first impression is everything.

5. Don’t be a stranger

Even though you’ll be pretty busy getting caught up those first couple of weeks, if you notice a group of co-workers hanging out in the kitchen during lunch, take a couple extra minutes to stop by and say hello, even if you can’t stay the entire time. The sooner your co-workers get to know your real personality, the sooner you’ll start to feel more like one of them, and less like ‘the new person’ in the office, which no one likes to be.

6. Be organized

Even if organization isn’t your strongest suit, make it your strongest, as least for the first couple of weeks. Keep your area tidy and familiarize yourself with where everything is kept that you might need at a moment’s notice (like that extra printer paper and toner we mentioned before). Do some practice runs on the copy machine and scanner, tidy up after yourself in the kitchen and refill the coffee pot if you finish it. Every little bit adds up, especially when you’re new.

7. Let your confidence shine through

The more you come across as confident, the more your boss and co-workers will see you that way. Being confident can be tough, since it often includes straddling the line for things that appear opposites of each other (take initiative but know when to ask questions or just follow orders; stand up for your own thoughts and opinions but know when to apologize for mistakes), but if you find yourself struggling, remember the golden rule that most people at work are following as well: fake it ‘til you make it. No one expects you to know or understand everything about your new job the first day or first few weeks you’re there, but put in a solid effort and always be present and make smart decisions, and soon enough you’ll catch on.

While we’re on the topic of jobs, check out this piece for suggestions on how to network like a pro, this one for three questions you should ask yourself before taking on a low-paying gig, and this one for six things you should do right away if you lose your job.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

News

4 Things to Consider Before Taking Time Off of Work

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Cheryl_Travel_large

There are a myriad of reasons why someone might decide to try to take time off of work. Whether it’s simply to take a break, to travel, for medical reasons or for something else entirely, most working people have probably considered what a break from work would look like for them.

Of course the reason for your leave of absence will probably dictate how much flexibility you have in terms of how long you can take off and what rights you have with your current job for that leave. Medical reasons, for example, will most likely allow you more wiggle room with your job than if you wanted to take time off to, say, use a month to drive across the country.

No matter your reason for taking some time, though, here are a few things you might want to think about before approaching your boss with your request or before quitting.

Consideration No. 1: How much time will you take, and how flexible are you willing to be?

Unless you’ll be flat-out leaving your job, you’ll need to have at least a pretty solid idea of how much time you want to take off before approaching your boss with your request. If you plan far enough ahead of time, you can work with your employer to make the best use of your vacation, sick and other paid days off, as well as try to pick a timeframe that will least affect the company. For Kurtis Weins, when his 50-hour a week engineering job got to be too much in 2014, he decided to approach his boss with a request.

“Weeks were disappearing before my eyes,” Weins said. “Still in my mid 20s, I thought if I had any time to quit and travel, it was then. First I asked my employer for six months of unpaid leave while holding my letter of resignation in my hand, already knowing the likely answer. I quit in July and started my 20 month ‘funemployed’ adventure.”

If your employer won’t work with you for the time you need or want, and quitting outright just isn’t a possibility, you might consider asking to switch to part-time.

For Rick Lauber, taking some time off work was more of a necessity than a luxury when he decided it was time to provide care and support for his aging parents. Since leaving his job completely wouldn’t be an option — especially with two sick parents to look after — Lauber managed to work with his employer and reduce his working hours to part-time.

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make as my income was obviously affected; however, my priority then was helping my mother and father with their health needs, and I needed more time and scheduling flexibility to do so,” he said. “Working part-time proved to be a good answer as it continued to provide me a modest income and I kept my foot in the door with my employer.”

Consideration No. 2: How will you afford it? 

Again depending on your situation, you may be able to work out a deal with your employer where you are paid at least part of your salary (potentially if your leave is medical related), but if you’re pretty sure you won’t be making any money during your time away, that will require some planning on your part. Weins admits that despite having a reasonable amount in savings, he did have to cash out his retirement fund when he left his country of employment to travel (not something we would necessarily recommend doing). He also received some lucrative tax returns and kept his expenses way down while traveling to cover his costs.

Holly Shulman, on the other hand, always knew she wanted to take some time off and travel for a number of months, but she knew that the only way she could effectively do so was to quit her current job and transition into a freelance role that was more flexible and would allow her to still accrue some income while traveling. “So I left my job at the DNC a few months ago and transitioned to running my own business — freelance PR with the idea that I can continue to work occasionally if I want to supplement my savings for the trip,” she said. “I also will be renting my home while I travel, which will help fund the trip.”

Consideration No. 3: What will you do about health insurance?

If you’re not fully leaving your job but rather taking some time off, you should be able to stay on the health insurance plan you currently have through your employer (though you should double check). If you’ll be leaving your job completely, though, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll cover yourself. For example, when Tara Tiger was laid off in 2010 during her maternity leave and she and her husband decided to use that as impetus to travel, she was able to get Cobra for part of the year, and then afterwards had to get private health insurance. If you’ll be leaving your job completely, check with your employer to see if you qualify for (and can afford) the Cobra option to continue your current health insurance plan for a while, or else check out HealthCare.gov to see what your other healthcare options are.

Consideration No. 4: What will your plan be for after your break?

While it might not be most fun to think about your future while you’re gearing up to take a break, it is the smart thing to do. Consider what that gap in your resume will look like to future potential employers, and think about whether or not picking up some side work during your hiatus to keep your foot in the door is something you’ll want to look into. For example, once Shulman decided she was definitely going to leave her job, she gave her old employer about eight weeks notice (which left her in good standing) and transitioned into freelancing leading up to the trip. “This gave me the flexible schedule I needed to work on trip logistics (like Visas, finding tenants, finding a temporary home for my piano), some extra income (I actually make more now than at my previous job), short-term job opportunities and also potential work while on the trip if I want,” she said.

As far as Weins goes, he admits that since returning from his time off he’s returned to work, but at a lower level position than when he left. “I knew in taking my time off that I would affect my career,” he said, “but I figured I’d rather be happy and poor in my 20s than rich and grumpy in my 30s.”

You’ll have to determine if you’re willing to potentially take a step back once returning to the workforce for yourself.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

News

5 Things to Consider Before Starting That Side Gig

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Finances

These days, it’s not uncommon for people to try to make a little extra cash outside of their regular 9 to 5. While it’s not necessarily a bad idea, there are definitely some things you should consider before hopping into a side gig if your goal is to make sure it really is profitable. Here are a couple things to keep in mind that will help you ensure you’re getting the most you can out of your part-time job.

Consideration 1: Will this side gig improve or enhance your current work skills?

Why you should consider it: It’s not completely necessary that your side job further your current career goals (after all, passion projects don’t have to have anything to do with our day-to-day jobs … sometimes that’s what makes them more fun!). However, if there is some way to parlay the skills or talents that you’ll be using in your time away from work into attributes that will help you get ahead in your job, as well, then that’s all the more reason to start up that gig ASAP and add it to your resume.

Consideration 2: Will your hours be flexible?

Why you should consider it: It goes without saying that, even if you hope to some day turn your side gig into a full-time career, it’s important to protect the job that you currently have for as long as you have it. That means that any projects you take up on the side shouldn’t cause you to miss work or to be distracted from work while you’re in the office (sorry, no booking gigs on company time!). A perfect side gig will provide you with flexible days and hours so that you can fit everything in in your own free time.

Consideration 3: Do you need to invest a lot of money to get started?

Why you should consider it: You’ll need to really think about your motives behind your side gig before you can determine how important this consideration is to you. For example, if all you really care about is earning a little extra cash after work or on the weekends so you can afford the occasional getaway with friends, then you probably don’t want to start something up that requires a lot of investment capital up front. On the other hand, if your main goal with your side gig is to some day parlay it into your full-time job, then investing a couple hundred for fancy new camera equipment now so that you can become the next big wedding photographer in your town by next year might just be worth it. (This is assuming you can afford it, of course. If you’ll need to go into debt to fund your side gig, it might be worth waiting a little while longer before you start so that you can save up and start when you’re on better financial ground.)

Before you do jump ship at your current job to take up your side gig full-time, though, you might also want to check out this piece about five important things companies do for you that freelancers have to do for themselves.

Consideration 4: Have you thought about taxes?

Why you should consider it: You might be surprised how quickly a small side gig can snowball, and if you don’t consider saving for taxes on your new income as soon as possible, you could be stuck with a shocking IRS bill come tax season. Chat with your accountant ahead of time to discuss how much you estimate you’ll be bringing in, how much you should save up for taxes based on that number and whether or not you should consider making quarterly payments on your earnings.

Consideration 5: How much is your free time worth?

Why you should consider it: While it can be tempting to make some extra cash, or it might seem fun to finally do something about that hobby you’re passionate about, you might want to also consider how much free time taking on a side gig will leave you with. If you’re interested in a side job that allows you to pick and chose what projects you take on, that’s one thing, but keep in mind that if you’re building your own side business, that takes time and a whole heck of a lot of effort, which might not leave you with a lot of hours (or energy) for anything else. Before taking on an additional job, determine how much of your free time you’re willing to devote to it, and see if you can figure out a job that’s right for you based on that.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Best of, College Students and Recent Grads, Personal Loans

Top 6 Personal Loans & Student Loans for Career Development

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Personal Loans & Student Loans

A few years after graduating college you may find yourself in a weird spot. You don’t want to go back to school for another degree in the traditional sense, but you want to pursue certification in an area like coding or UX design to give your resume a boost. Or maybe you want to get formal training in an entirely new field through intensive boot camp programs.

Fortunately, there are options outside of “going back to school” that give us the opportunity to continue learning without committing to an entirely new degree. You can also find funding to help ease the burden of paying completely out-of-pocket for career development.

Check out a few of these loan options:

1. SoFi

Rates starting from 4.99% APR

When considering loans for career development, SoFi should be a loan at the top of your list because of its customer service and loan perks. The application is completely online and once approved funds are wired to your account. It also doesn’t hurt your credit score to see if you’re pre-approved and your rate.

SoFi offers fixed and variable interest loans. You can borrow $5,000 to $100,000. Loan terms are 3, 5 or 7 years. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.

One feature of a SoFi loan that makes it stand apart from other loans is the unemployment protection. If you lose your job, there are resources like career coaching to help you find another position. You can also get payments postponed temporarily during your job search.

SoFi

APPLY NOW Secured

on SoFi’s secure website

2. Earnest

Rates starting from 5.25% APR

Earnest offers personal loans for multiple uses including career development. You can borrow from $2,000 to $50,000. Loan terms are 1, 2 and 3 years long with no hidden fees or prepayment penalties. Earnest does a hard pull to determine if you’re approved, so your credit score will be affected.

The loan application process is online as well and you’ll receive a response about your loan application within 2 to 3 business days. Earnest reviews many variables outside of just your credit score to qualify you for a loan. So, if your credit score is impacting the rate you get with other lenders, Earnest is worth checking out.

Earnest will take into account your savings, earning potential, education and your history of on-time payments to find you the best rate. Currently, this loan is not offered in Nevada, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa, Vermont, Montana, North Dakota or South Dakota. Although, plans are in motion to open up lending to these states.

3. Upstart

Rates starting from 7.39% APR

Upstart offers $1,000 to $50,000 in personal loans for courses or boot camps to further your career. Loan terms of 3 and 5 years are available. One negative of Upstart is it does have an origination fee of 1% to 8%. Similar to SoFi, Upstart does a soft pull of your credit report to determine if you’re pre-approved.

Upstart will accept borrowers with a credit score of 640 and above. If you have a limited credit history you may still be able to qualify. Similar to Earnest, Upstart reviews your credit score among other factors like your education, area of study and job history to determine if you’re eligible for a loan.

Once approved for an Upstart loan, you can agree to terms and get your money within a few days.

4. LightStream

Rates starting from 5.99% APR

LightStream has loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Loan terms range from 2 to 7 years. There are no fees or prepayment penalties, but it will be a hard pull on your credit report to see if you’re pre-approved. One positive of LightStream is it’s very clear with how it determines interest rates.

You’ll get the most competitive rates with excellent credit. Since the term “excellent” can be subjective, LightStream outlines what’s considered excellent credit based on a profile of past excellent borrowers. These borrowers tend to have:

  • 5 or more years of credit history
  • A mix of credit accounts like various credit cards, auto loans and mortgages
  • Excellent payment history with no delinquencies
  • Proven ability to save
  • Stable income

Now, one important thing to mention, you can’t use a LightStream loan for college or postsecondary education. If you want to take out this loan for career development, contact customer service to double check that whatever course you plan to take is eligible for the loan.

5. Wells Fargo

Rates starting from 4.54% APR

Wells Fargo has a unique opportunity for students pursuing career training or non-traditional school education. This could be a good option if you’re looking to further your career in the form of certificates and licensing from a university.

There are no application, origination or repayment fees. Wells Fargo offers variable and fixed interest options. Rates include somes discount. You can get a 0.25% discount if you have a previous Wells Fargo student loan or another qualifying account. There’s another 0.25% discount if you set up automatic payment.

You can take out up to $20,000 depending on the type of training you’re getting and from what school you’re getting it from. No payment on the loan is required until 6 months after you leave school, but interest will accrue during any deferment.

Wells Fargo does allow cosigners and cosigner release. Cosigners can be removed from the loan after 24 consecutive, on-time payments are made and you meet other credit requirements.

6. Sallie Mae

Rates starting from 4.75% APR

Sallie Mae has a program relatively similar to the Wells Fargo career-training program. Sallie Mae will fund up to 100% of the cost to attend school for training.

Both fixed and variable rate loans are available. There are no prepayment penalty or disbursement fees. You can apply with a cosigner and your cosigner can be released after you make 12 on-time payments, pass a credit review and meet other criteria.

Prepayment begins 6 months after you’re finished with classes. One perk of the Sallie Mae loan is while taking classes you have the option to pay interest or you can pay a fixed $25 per month to reduce your repayment schedule in the future.

How to decide

The world we live in today is constantly evolving, so naturally our skills will have to evolve as we move forward in our careers. Before choosing a personal or student loan for career development, get a good sense of your end goal.

Do you want to simply learn a new skill or do you want to gain a new credential (i.e. certification) from a university for your resume? Deciding your end game will help you choose the loan product that’s best for you.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

TAGS: ,