Student Loans: Income-Based Repayment, Have You Heard About It?

I don't know, I may be the only one who fears the on-set of student loan repayment like that of the wrath of God. Perhaps I'm a little bitter that my original plan of pursuing a lifetime career as a student, kind of like Lynn from Girlfriends, fell through for the likes of "real-world experience!" However, the reality is for many of us who enjoyed the high-life free-for-all college years, those "priceless" moments came with a hefty price tag. Especially since the powers that be waited until after my graduation year to impose debt caps for how much loan-indebtedness one could accrue for college - oh yeah I got those emails after May 15, 2005 and went postal. Where were those folks when Sallie Mae was staking her claim to my first born, second born and grandchildren for that matter? (Clearly that wound is still open!)

Anyway, as I am taking on adult responsibility like a champ. I, like many of us, pride myself on being an informed consumer of any and all things. I google, ehow to, yelp, bing, hell I even youtube everything I can; I stalk reviews, I ask others - I'm on the constant hunt for information on how to make things BEST work for a dollar here and there. Needless to say, I have been employing all those tactics over the last few months to determine the best way to begin paying my student loans in a manner that won't have me on the fast-track to the poor house. I'll admit, I didn't pay close attention during those pesky exit interviews you have to complete upon graduation, you know to re-sign over your life and soul stating you will pay back what you owe by all means. So now I look at those repayment options with great disdain. The fortunate thing is you can change your repayment plan at any time to suit your needs - of course there will always be fine print so it requires close attention.

As of late, I have been reading more and more about the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) option. It is a new repayment option that opens the opportunity for a more reduced monthly payment on your loans than the current plans. Further for those of us who work in the public sector, there is also the option of loan forgiveness on the remaining balance after 10 years - without the huge tax burden. As with most things there are eligibility requirements and your loan still accumulates interest, so there are some short-term vs. long-term trade-offs to consider before pursuing this option. However, if you are currently struggling to make large monthly payments and need a short-term respite this program may be for you - the literature I have read boasts reducing current payment plans by 50%.

I am not going to pretend to be an expert on this payment plan but wanted to share the information with my readers. There is a new non-profit organization that has formed to create greater awareness of this program: IBR Info (check their website here). Their website has a host of information describing the program, federal updates, a useful IBR calculator to estimate individual payments as well as a great FAQ's page. I hope you find this information helpful, if you have found other information useful that we can share here do not hesitate to pass it on to me and I am happy to share it here.

Happy Wednesday yall!

A True Leader: RIP Dorothy Irene Height

I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch for justice and freedom...I want to be remembered as one who tried. ~Soror Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 - April 20, 2010)

I woke up early this morning to begin on today's post and as I was going through the regular routine of checking email and now adding twitter to that, I was alarmed by some news. One of the women that I look up to most as a leader and inspiration has passed this morning: Dorothy Irene Height. For those who may not be familiar Dorothy I. Height, born March 24, 1912, was an extraordinary leader - the epitome of the word, social activist and educator; who dedicated her life and leadership to the struggle for equality and human rights. In the face of adversity, Height never allowed herself to be deterred from her dreams and aspirations and that determination has made one of the largest impacts and contribution to human rights that the world has ever known.

Born in Richmond, VA and raised in Rankin, PA; Dorothy Height received a scholarship to attend Barnard College in New York City based on her oratory skills. Upon arrival, however, she was denied admission due to Barnard's maxed quota of 2 African American women per academic year. Height arrived to the school after the first 2 women had already been admitted. Height did not allow that roadblock to stop her from pursuing what she knew was right and valued at her core: education. She ultimately pursued her education at New York University, receiving both her bachelors and Masters degrees, and completed postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work.

Height is known for her dedication and exemplary leadership of a number of organizations: United Christian Youth Movement of North America, National Council for Negro Women - where she was invited for membership by Mary McLeod Bethune in 1937 and served as their 4th National President, YWCA - where for 33 years she served on their National Board, and near and dear to my heart Height served as the 10th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. - carrying the Sisterhood to a new level of organizational development and social action under her leadership - and please know this list really pales in comparison to the real impact of Height's leadership and contribution to the world.

Growing up, I remember always saying "I want to be somebody." No specifics, no real direction, just confidence that I wanted to make it out of the hood and do something positive. I first really came to awareness of Dorothy I. Height during my first year of college and was immediately inspired by her story and the impact she had made with her life. She further inspired me to form what impact I wanted to make with my own life. During my college career I pursued membership into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and had the opportunity to meet my Soror Height in 2004. There is no real way to describe how I am feeling this morning as I reflect on the news of her passing, but I take this news as a source of motivation to not only remember and cherish her legacy, but to also be apart of those carrying it on, to continually fight for what's right and to make sure I have IMPACT. Thank you Dorothy Irene Height for your contributions, for your impact, for your unwavering spirit and determination. As a young Black woman today, who is living her dreams, I know that is only because it was your dream FIRST and you led a struggle to ensure that I would be afforded opportunities beyond what I could even expect. You not only tried, you DID and for that I am forever grateful.

Getting Your Money Straight

So Friday's post got me thinking further about pursuing one's passion and dreams and how we can better position ourselves to step out there and maximize our strengths and passion. I think a major part of being able to take risks is having a stable foundation - essentially have your 'ish together. While I'm not quoting percentage facts in this sentence, the largest roadblock to pursuing any dream is money - yep them dolla, dolla bills yall. I don't think it takes an economist to tell us that bit.

In the professional world, many business moves are halted on the basis of lack of funding, so it wouldn't be any different that in one's personal world money stands to serve as a major challenge to taking that next step and pursuing one's dream. With all that said, when asked what I would recommend to position one to make that next level move; my answer is "Girl, get your money straight!" (PS - if you have never read that book, check it out). Needless to say I was elated upon receiving a recommendation for a financial management resource that can help identify spending reduction and savings opportunities - all of which come together to help build a nest egg to position you for pursuing your dreams.

A friend of mine and blog reader shared with me a money management resource that she swears by, and my friend's treasure becomes you all's resource. is a free, personal money management resource that allows you to upload all of your accounts to better understand your spending habits, investing performance and opportunities, debt reduction opportunities - the whole gamut. Mint even boasts resources for evaluating opportunities with student loan debt repayment (speaking of which, stay tuned for a forthcoming post on the dreaded student loans as well).

Some of you are probably thinking, "well if they're so good, why are they free?" I'm a skeptic like the best of yall, so I read through the website to understand how Mint pays their bills; they function as a referral source. What is a referral source, you ask? Mint essentially uses the analysis of your financial performance and status to recommend to you (the client) different financial management products from banks, investment companies and so forth. If you elect to pursue one of the products, Mint receives a referral fee. So you get a personal finance advisor without the personal finance advisor fees. Don't get me wrong, personal finance advisors are awesome - but for those of us who don't have the funds to pay someone to help us with our money - appears to be a great foundational step.

So check out Mint, I am not a spokewoman for it, so I won't be offended if you opt not too! If you are still a little hesitant make sure you read through the website and feel free to thoroughly check their privacy agreement. Also, if you have other financial management tools that you have found helpful please share. Feel free to email me recommendations at or post a comment. Spreading the message of financial uplift to realize our dreams.


flow - (n) the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. ~Daniel Pink

I just finished reading The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Daniel H. Pink. Without revealing too much of the book, I'll say Pink hit the nail on the head with the 6 key lessons of a successful career. A quick read (literally only took about 20 minutes) bearing the style of a comic book, the author uses the experience of Johnny Bunko to impress upon the readers some career pearls that many of us know - yet find so hard to actually incorporate in our own lives due to day to day reality. How many of us would love to simply do what we felt we were born to do, without the pressures of making money, or paying dreadful bills - where dey do that at??? I mean, I chat with comcast and sprint on a monthly basis about why they just won't let me live ---like give me this account and let's forget the formalities of paying bills and fees, it would just be so much easier! More often than not, many of my friends are still just trying to come up so making the leap to following a passion is way off. After reading the book, I am even more certain on what I knew before - finding your flow isn't easy but it's certainly not impossible; and I think everyone should!

Many of us lose sight of finding our flow, while in the midst of the daily grind. I think that comes with the territory of taking on and managing responsibility. I think the key is finding balance on how to do what you have to do to be able to do what you want to do. Many of you know, a major focus of this blog and things to come as a result of this venture is promoting leadership and developing new leaders - particularly young ladies. I hope this post promotes thought on trying to find that balance and look out for a few features on a couple of folks I know that are doing a good job with the balancing act.

Sooo, check out the's cool, it's brief and there is one rule that I don't entirely agree with - anyone who knows me probably knows which one it is!! Tee hee.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Today's post is inspired by another blog post I came across recently. Often times I am asked about good techniques for setting goals: personal and professional. Anyone who knows me, knows quite well that I am a compulsive to-do list maker! I write to-do lists daily, monthly and annually - if you've ever been to my house then you are sure to have seen any one of these lists. I find that they're very useful at keeping me on track. The lists represent all the tasks that I have to get through to complete a specific goal. Not to mention what an excellent feeling it is to cross something off the list. Some might say I am more enthused with the act of crossing things off than the actual lists themselves, but don't judge me!!

However, the post talked about how to maximize the to-do list technique with an "accountability partner," someone you trust to keep you on target for whatever goals you set as well as you keep them on target with their goals. It's very easy to set goals and make lists but very difficult to keep oneself on task or not fall prey to procrastination. -----> Enter your accountability partner (AP)!!

So what do you do with your partner, you ask? Keeping a system of checks and balances with a like-minded individual isn't as hard as it can seem:
1) Set up monthly meetings - if your AP is a friend you probably already see each other regularly - just make sure you set aside defined time to discuss your goals
2) Make goal lists - no matter what the goals are focused on, it could be moving, starting a new business or something as small as reading a book, just create the list with deadlines
3) Share your list and the DEADLINES - your AP isn't able to inquire about your progress if they don't know what they're inquiring about
4) Use the regular meetings times to track progress, get some of the work done and talk about any challenges you have to reaching your goals - your partner may be able to help you get past those or at least help talk you through how to get past the challenges

I think it goes without saying that your AP should be someone you trust and value their feedback, more importantly someone whose words/gentle nudges/hard kicks you will take heed to, to ensure you get the job done. And VICE VERSA!!! Any other pieces of advice for accountability partners?