What is it?
When you take out a loan to pay for college or graduate school, you must repay that loan at some future date. If you find yourself in the position of having to budget every month for a student loan payment after graduation, you are not alone. A majority of students now borrow at least some money to help finance their education. Yet excessive student loan debt can have negative ramifications. For example, student loan debt may affect decisions to buy a home, a car, or to have children. Because student debt levels are likely to continue to increase as the cost of college and graduate school continues to outpace inflation, it is important to know how to manage student loan debt.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. This $2 trillion emergency relief package is intended to assist individuals and businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic crisis. Major relief provisions are summarized here.
What are the benefits of borrowing money?
Successful borrowing can help you create a positive credit history
Successfully borrowing and paying off your loans as agreed can help you establish a good credit rating and make obtaining additional credit possible. Even if you do not typically use credit often, it is good to have the ability to do so in the event of an emergency.
Leverage can be used to increase the return on your investments
If you can borrow money, you can use leverage to increase the return on your investments. This is possible because you can own and control more property with less of your own money. The following illustrates how you can increase the return on your investment using leverage:
Hal had $50,000 that he wanted to invest in real estate. He found a house that cost $150,000. He convinced Frank and Bob to invest $50,000 each in the same house. They purchased the house and each owned one-third. The value of the house increased to $180,000 and was sold. Frank, Hal, and Bob shared a $30,000 profit. Each realized a $10,000 gain, or a 20 percent return, on their investment.
Hal, decided to invest in more real estate. However, this time he decided to use leverage to increase the return on his investment. He made a $50,000 down payment on a $150,000 house and took out a mortgage for $100,000. By borrowing in this manner, he was able to own and control the entire asset, rather than just one-third. When the house increased in value to $180,000, he sold it, paid off the mortgage, and realized a $30,000 gain, or a 60 percent return, on his investment.
The example is simplified and does not take into consideration taxes, interest, or rental income, but it illustrates the notion that by using leverage, you can control more assets using less of your own money.
The problem with leverage is that it can work both ways. Assume that the two parcels of real estate in the previous example dropped in value to $120,000. In the first transaction, Hal would have lost $10,000, for a 20 percent loss on his investment. In the leveraged transaction, Hal would have lost $30,000, for a 60 percent loss on his investment.
If you've been watching the market lately, perhaps the first question on your mind is, "Should I make a big change in my investments?" In reality, a volatile market isn't the best time to do a complete makeover of your portfolio, especially if you have long-term financial goals you're trying to address. Even if you feel that your portfolio needs adjusting, maintaining a firm grasp on your fundamental investment strategy can help you be more thoughtful about making any changes.
What is credit?
When you say you want credit, you are probably asking for payment terms on a purchase. You are seeking to purchase goods or services today and forego all or a portion of the payment until a later date. You may or may not be bound by a payment plan. You may or may not be required to pay a percentage of the purchase price up front (down payment). You may or may not pay a fee (interest) in exchange for the privilege of buying now and paying later. In all cases, you are making a purchase and being trusted to make final payment at some time in the future.
Why is credit so important?
Credit provides you with financial flexibility and security
Yes, but the taxable portion of your distribution may be subject to a 10% penalty for early withdrawal if you're not yet age 59½. If you are 59½ or older and take money from your traditional IRA, you will not be assessed a penalty, though you may still have to pay income tax on all or part of the distribution. The purpose of the premature distribution tax is to discourage you from exhausting your IRA savings too soon. However, the penalty can be a significant drawback if you need money to meet unexpected expenses.
The Markets (as of market close March 27, 2020)
Stocks opened the week as they closed the previous one — in a tailspin. However, aggressive moves by the Federal Reserve late in the day, coupled with the hope of a massive aid package from Congress, helped push stocks higher during early trading Tuesday.
News of the passage of massive stimulus legislation (see below) was enough of a positive impetus to send investors back to the markets in droves on Tuesday. The Dow surged to its highest single-day gain since 1933 as it climbed more than 11% by the end of the day. Unfortunately, as debate on the bill continued by the closing bell on Wednesday, the benchmark indexes gave back most of the previous day's gains. The Dow closed up 2.39%, marking the first back-to-back daily gains since the first week of February.
Passage by the Senate of the coronavirus relief package Wednesday night spurred investor optimism as stocks surged Thursday, despite a record number of unemployment insurance claims primarily due to the COVID-19 virus. By the close of trading, each of the benchmark indexes had posted sizable gains, marking a legitimate bull run. But how long will it last?
Unfortunately, the ride didn't last as long as hoped as stocks closed last Friday in the red for the day, but significantly higher than they began the week. Following a volatile week of stock prices, the week closed with the Dow recording its best weekly gain since 1938. Ultimately, the passage of the massive coronavirus rescue package, referred to as the CARES Act, gave investors enough encouragement to plunge back into the market. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted double-digit weekly gains except for the tech stocks of the Nasdaq, which climbed 9.0% nonetheless. Long-term bond prices also rose, pushing yields lower by the end of the week as 10-year Treasuries yields fell almost 20 basis points.
Oil prices reversed course last week, closing marginally higher at $21.57 per barrel by late Friday afternoon, up from the prior week's price of $19.84. The price of gold (COMEX) also spiked last week, closing at $1,625.30 by late Friday afternoon, up from the prior week's price of $1,498.90. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.120 per gallon on March 23, 2020, $0.128 lower than the prior week's price and $0.503 less than a year ago.
Vesting occurs when you acquire ownership. Does your employer offer a retirement savings plan such as a 401(k), traditional pension, or profit-sharing plan? Did you receive a stock option grant as a year-end bonus? These employee benefits and others like them are often tied to a timeline known as a vesting schedule. The vesting schedule determines when you acquire full ownership of the benefit.