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Financial Tips as Student Loan Payments Set to Resume Soon / Public News Service

BIG FALLS, Mont. Student loan borrowers have been granted deferred payments during the pandemic, but that will end in 2022. As of February, the pause on federal student loan payments will be lifted for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Greg Harper, a financial capability advisor at Rural Dynamics, a Great-Falls-based financial nonprofit, has an action plan for anyone with student debt.

“I recommend that they contact their lender online or by phone to discuss options right away,” he said. Find out what payment they are responsible for and when they are due. So first of all I don’t want them to be caught off guard.’

According to the Student Debt Crisis Center, nearly nine in 10 fully employed student loan borrowers have said they don’t feel financially secure enough to repay their loans. An estimated 100,000 Montana borrowers owe an average of about $30,000 in both federal and private loans.

Harper has broken down how much of a person’s budget should go toward student loans.

“Debt service, minimum payments together, should not exceed about 15% of your net disposable income,” he said.

Harper added that each person’s plan for tackling student loans should be based on their individual circumstances.

“That’s the big question, isn’t it? It’s not a black and white issue,” he said. “So it’s really about responding to their specific situation and making the right recommendations based on that.”

Disclosure: Rural Dynamics, Inc. contributes to our fund for reporting on consumer issues, disability, philanthropy and poverty issues. If you want to support news in the public interest, click here.

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BOISE, Idaho — Student loan borrowers take note: A pause on federal student loan payments will end in February.

Due to the pandemic, the moratorium has been in effect since March 2020, but will be lifted on January 31.

Andrew Pentis, a senior writer and certified student loan counselor with the Student Loan Hero group, said the average student loan payment for Idaho borrowers is $274 per month, which can be quite a weight on the typical family budget.

“The good news for borrowers in the state of Idaho is that more than one in three have a balance of less than $10,000,” Pentis said. “So that’s a little bit more realistic and easier to pay in terms of repayment, as opposed to those borrowers with much higher balances.”

Pentis said people should contact their loan manager before the payment pause is lifted and review their options.

He said people can also choose to continue the break on their payments. But Pentis believes that it is a better situation for many borrowers to opt for an income-driven repayment plan.

“What those plans do is limit your monthly dues to a percentage of your income,” Pentis said. “So if you lost your job or maybe saw your wages drop, your new monthly payment on your federal student loans would reflect that change. You could qualify for a monthly payment as low as $0.”

While there was talk of massive student debt forgiveness early in Joe Biden’s presidency, Pentis said that option seems less likely.

He noted, however, that changes have been made under the Biden administration, such as a fix for the public loan forgiveness program to make it easier for government and nonprofit workers to qualify.

“What is much more likely is that the Biden administration will continue to offer targeted loan forgiveness to groups especially struggling with student debt,” Pentis said.

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BOSTON — This holiday season, consumer advocates are urging Commonwealth residents to consider giving gifts that don’t require buying anything. Or, if you need to buy something, look for refurbished items.

Janet Domenitz, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG), said Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday deals on electronics and other items may look appealing, but there are great deals year-round on refurbished items. items.

“There is a shortage of goods and supply chain issues, so you may have more options to buy gifts by considering refurbished items,” Domenitz explains. “Good for the environment, good for your wallet, good for options.”

She noted that MASSPIRG has two guides, one called “Buy Less, Give More,” with ideas for experiences, beloved gifts, lessons, chores and tasks, and pastries, among other things. The other is called ‘Fixed for the Holidays’ and offers recommendations on where to shop for refurbished items.

Domenitz noted that many people don’t realize the impact throwing away electronics and other items can have on the country’s environment and waste after just a few years.

“If we could all keep our smartphones a year longer than we do, we would cut demand for manufacturing materials by £42 million a day,” Domenitz claimed.

Domenitz added that when you buy refurbished items, there are a few things to keep in mind. She said it’s important to make sure the manufacturer has a track record of durability and reparability, and to know what you want when you shop.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Due to supply chain delays, some Christmas buyers have emphasized that gifts won’t be in stores this “Black Friday” or not arrive on time, but for members of the “Buy Nothing Project,” that kind of stress belongs to the past.

Liesl Clark, co-founder of the project, said the rules are simple: don’t buy, sell, trade, barter, or dump things that someone wants to get rid of.

“You can present anything you come up with and want to give away with an image and a little description,” Clark explained. “And you can also ask for anything you want or need. You just improve your lifestyle by not buying anything whenever you can.”

Clark pointed out that the project began in 2013 after her dazzling journey to remote villages near the Nepal-Tibet border, where people shared very limited resources that were sporadically delivered by truck over dangerous mountain roads. The Buy Nothing Project recently launched an app to boost its presence on Facebook.

Clark noted that participation is wide, from college students who need gear to equip their dorm rooms, to retirees who are downsizing. She said that baby items are always popular because they are often used gently.

“Let’s face it, baby gear only gets used for so long,” Clark noted. “But we also have refugees — families from all over the world who come to the United States, to Canada — and those are families who are set up with everything they need.”

Clark believes the pandemic has increased the Buy Nothing Project’s participation as some people have connected through isolation by helping neighbors. Others, locked up at home, decided it was time to clean up.

“So this is a surefire way to empower people to really realize, ‘I don’t have to fill my house with the same stuff everyone else has.’ We don’t all need to have a lawnmower, for instance,” Clark noted.

According to the app’s latest count, the Buy Nothing Project has more than four million people regularly involved in 6,800 groups in 44 countries.

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