student loansThis week, GoGirl’s week in finance covers hot topics for young people – student loans, money and marriage and how to travel on a budget. Let us know what you think!

Paying Down Your Student Loans

Did you know that the total of all student loans outstanding is currently $1 trillion across 37 million borrowers? This article, though six months old, does a great job breaking down US student loan debt by the numbers  including average amounts owed, interest rates, default rates and some employment statistics.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a regulatory bureau working to improve markets for consumer financial products and services, released a report this week that analyzed complaints filed related to private student loans.

It is disheartening to read that some individuals, in trying to proactively reduce their debt, are  “sending in extra payments…[and] find that the money is not allocated in the way they intended. Sometimes, borrowers told the bureau, they received a notice putting them into ‘paid ahead’ or ‘advanced payment’ status.” Have you ever tried to pay extra on your loans and had your payments applied improperly?

And anyone in their late 20s or early 30s with student loan debt can appreciate the dilemma of whether buying a house or paying down the loans should be the priority. The answer is likely to be different for each individual situation but it’s a common question. If you have had this issue come up recently, we’d like to hear about what factors you considered in reaching a decision.

And finally, if you’re looking for inspiration to help you focus on paying down a huge amount of student loan debt, this guy’s story is a great read! Not only did he succeed in paying off $90K in ten months, he’s now forecasting that he’ll have $1M in savings by age 49!

Tying the Knot and the Accounts

We often publish articles on our site about relationships and money and we’re always keen to emphasize that getting married can have a huge impact on your finances. Reviewing your joint financial picture before you tie the knot should be a priority so if you’re about to head down the aisle this Wall Street Journal article has some great tips for what financial issues to discuss before you get married. If you are recently married, did you sit down and have a conversation on budgeting, student loan debt, planning for children and retirement before you got married?

Once settled into married life, the money conversations shouldn’t end there. So, what should each spouse know about the other’s finances?

In most relationships, one person takes charge of the finances, managing the bills, organizing investments and being the point of contact for any banking or credit card issues. However, that could leave you in a precarious situation in the event of death, divorce or other unforeseen circumstances. To mitigate this, have regular conversations to ensure that both partners are involved and aware of the financial picture and that your investments suit your respective risk tolerances. And, if you are trying to set up a budget that works for both of you, this advice from Dave Ramsey may be helpful.

Having these conversations sooner rather than later will help you avoid a fight on your honeymoon! And if after having “the chat” you need to clean up your joint finances, these tips from the CNBC TV show, “Til Debt Do Us Part,” are a good place to start.

Cruise Control: Travel Savings

One of the most exciting things you can spend your money on is travel. Whether you’re going somewhere brand new or visiting your family and friends for holidays, a trip out of town is usually something to look forward to. However, they don’t often come cheap. Flight prices are considerably higher these days than they were even just a year ago, and even a weekend away to somewhere within driving distance can add up.

On that note, saving on your travel costs can really help your overall budget. Since flying is usually the biggest culprit of an expensive trip, use these insider tips for cheaper flights. And if you have your eyes set on a cruise – the cruise industry is now in the midst of Oct. 20-27 sale week – it’s important to know that travelers rarely pay the same price for the same trip so figure out how you can save money when you book. This real-life research has some great ideas on where to look and who to contact to review cruise prices.

But if your travel is restricted to specific holidays, when costs are especially high, you need to be armed with these tips to help you bring down your expenses. Do you have any great ideas for saving on travel that we haven’t covered? We’d love to hear them!