How to Make $1000 Fast (in a Week or Less)

Last year, an article in The Atlantic showed what it’s like for Americans who can’t afford to pay for a $400 emergency in cash. The writer detailed his struggles to save for the unexpected. He shared what it’s like to not have an emergency fund in case something goes wrong.

He’s not alone – he and nearly half of Americans are in the same boat. Unexpected emergencies can cause a lot of stress if you’ve got a pile of bills and no savings.

That scenario is common, but fortunately, it is preventable. You can learn to cut expenses, live on less and save the difference.

And if you’re one of the millions of people who don’t have enough savings set aside, then you should consider finding a way to make money fast.

Fortunately, in this age of the gig economy, there are countless options. There are ways to scrape up enough money to last you during whatever crisis you’re going through.

Whether your goal is to find cash to fund an emergency or to pay off debt fast, we can help. Read below for our best tips on how to make $1,000 quickly in a week.

Ways to Make $1000 Fast

1. Drive for Uber or Lyft

Do you like the idea of driving people around? Are you friendly, outgoing and a safe and lawful driver?

If so, consider becoming a rideshare driver to earn some fast cash. Ridesharing companies arrange one-time shared rides on very short notice.

And Uber and Lyft both often have special bonuses drivers can earn if they fulfill a certain number of rides.

According to Uber, the average driver earns $25 an hour. But that amount is calculated over slow periods when you could be lucky to get one passenger. However, there are ways to increase your income as a rideshare driver.

Determine when the busiest times are in your city and drive only then to maximize your efficiency. Weekend evenings and nights are usually a safe bet, and rush hour can also be good.

If you have a big airport near you, then figure out when the busiest times are for drop-off and pick-up. Many people often drive for both services so they can take advantage of different surge times.

Plus, now that Uber has added tipping to its app, drivers can stand to earn even more money.

2. Sell What You Don’t Need

Unless you’re rocking the minimalist lifestyle, you probably have extra stuff laying around your apartment or house. If you’re like a lot of people, you have lots of things that you don’t need or haven’t used in forever.

A good rule of thumb is to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year. You probably have old cell phones, unopened books, long-forgotten DVDs. All those items represent dollars that you could be earning.

Compile everything in one space and then divide it based on the type of item it is. Clothes should go in one pile while video games can be in another.

Then determine the best place to sell your stuff. For example, sell large items on Craigslist, where you don’t have to pay for shipping fees.

Or maybe it would be best for you to sell your stuff online. For example, electronics, video games, and collectibles sell well on eBay. But make sure to be accurate on the quality, or you’ll get downgraded on your user rating.

And clothes can sell well on specialty sites like ThredUp and Poshmark, especially if you have designer threads.

Consider selling your CDs, DVDs and video games to a company such as Decluttr, especially if you’re short on time. Decluttr won’t pay as much as you’d get selling outright on sites like Craiglist. However, they do make it super easy to sell your stuff.

All you do is type in the barcode of what you’re selling, and they give you an immediate price quote. Once you accept their offer(s), print out a free shipping label, box your item(s) and send it out.

Decluttr will post a payment to your PayPal account as soon as they assess your delivered item(s).

Have a Yard Sale

For everything that doesn’t sell quickly, host a yard sale. Advertise for free on Craigslist and post signs around your neighborhood. Price items to sell, even if it hurts to see all your kid’s baby clothes sell for less than $1.

Anything that you don’t get rid of, you can donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. For those items, you can ask for a receipt to deduct the amount donated on your taxes. Another win!

3. Deliver Food

On the social media site Reddit, drivers theorized you could earn $1,000 a week delivering food with a company like Door Dash.

The consensus was that if you were driving about 10 hours a day and hitting every peak time (lunch and dinner) every day of the week, you could make $1,000.

Users said that the best way to maximize your deliveries was to use a motorcycle or a fuel-efficient vehicle. If parking is difficult or if you’re driving in LA-like traffic, your hourly rate could suffer.

Most agreed that you’d have to work between 50 to 70 hours a week to make it work. That probably isn’t sustainable for the long-term. However, if you’re in between gigs, this can be an easy way to supplement your income.

4. Rent Your Pad on Airbnb

If you’ve got a spare room or are going to be out of town, you can rent out your room or pad on Airbnb for some extra cash. How much you earn depends on where you live, the appeal of your neighborhood and the quality of your pad.

A two-bedroom loft in downtown Miami will net more than a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of Kansas. Visitors also pay more if they have total access to your place.

So if you’re still in town, you can make more by crashing on a friend’s couch for a few days while guests rent out your space.

You can increase how much you charge by allowing pets. Or by including appliances such as a washer and dryer and other amenities. You might be able to charge more at times depending on the season.

Holidays are prime times for visitors. And you can also charge more for festivals, sporting events, special weekends and more.

Gain more income via a good reputation by being extra responsive and polite to renters. Airbnb has a rating system that most people use to leave comments and share how they felt about you.

The higher your rating, the higher prices you can charge, and the more people will consider renting your space.

5. Search for Unclaimed Money

Unclaimed money is money that legally belongs to you, but that you haven’t claimed. For example, sometimes people request a tax refund through the mail, but it gets returned if you put a wrong address.

Or if you were being paid through a check by an old employer and left before you received your last one.

Unfortunately, there’s no central website where you can search for unclaimed money, but this US government site has information on the different types of unclaimed money and how to see if you have any.

If you do find funds in your name, it can take several weeks to access them because you’ll have to verify your identity. But you’ll be one step closer to getting money that’s legally yours.

6. Open an Account That Offers a Bonus

Ever get that pre-approved credit card offer in the mail that promises to give you 20,000 or 40,000 miles or points? If you’re used to a credit card that barely pays you 1% cash back, it might be hard to believe that you can actually earn real rewards.

But you can. Every major credit card provider has a few credit cards that provide huge bonuses when you sign up. However, you can’t just earn the points by applying for the card. You usually have to spend a certain amount within 90 days to qualify.

The highest bonuses range from $100 to $500. So if you are married or have another person in your household, you could easily qualify for $1,000.

For example, you can earn $500 with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®  when you spend $3,000 in 90 days. The $500 will come as a statement credit on your account and can only be redeemed for travel expenses.

Also, banks and credit unions often have bonuses when you open a new account and fulfill other minimum requirements. For example, a new Chase checking account customer can earn $200 when they set up a direct deposit and keep the account open for at least six months.

Since many of these requirements only ask that you have a direct deposit of at least $300-$500 a month, you can open multiple accounts and earn bonuses at the same time.

7. Work as a Brand Ambassador

Ever see those people handing out free samples of chips or drinks at local stores, festivals or concerts? Those people are working as brand ambassadors.

They’re hired to work a few hours per shift to promote a local or national brand. Sometimes it’s handing out food samples, other times it’s trying to get people to fill out surveys.

Look for local brand ambassador groups on Facebook or Craigslist. Most pay between $10 to $35 an hour depending on the work involved.

Work comes on a first-come, first serve basis and you’ll often have little training beforehand. However, if you’re friendly and outgoing, you’ve already got a head start.

Note that many of these gigs ask for a couple of photo headshots beforehand. Shifts can last a couple of hours or all day. If you work five days at eight hours a day for $25 an hour, you can make $1,000.

8. Cash In Your Vacation

While most people love to take their paid vacation time, others would rather have the cash. Fortunately, some employers allow you to cash in your vacation time and work instead. If you decide to cash in your vacation time, you can easily get an extra $1,000 on your next paycheck.

If you earn $25 an hour and have seven days of paid vacation, you could cash it in for $1,400. You’ll still have to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes on those wages, so make sure to factor that in.

And you’ll have to be ok knowing that you won’t have any days off in case something happens.

This is definitely a risky move to take, so be aware of the pros and cons. Buying out your vacation hours means you might be without paid time off for the remainder of the year.

However, if you’re about to leave your job, then this can be a great way to transition to a new company with some extra change in your pocket.

9. Garage Sale Arbitrage

This sounds complicated, right? Well, not to fear, it’s actually pretty simple.

All you need to do is visit some garage sales this coming weekend. While you’re there, look for items that you are familiar with that you could potentially resell online for more money.

For instance, if you are familiar with the technology, look for electronics such as smartphones, home audio and computer equipment.

Let’s say you find a router that is marked $5. Next, find the model number on the router and look it up on Amazon. Then check to see what the lowest price a used one is selling for. When you look it up, you notice that it is selling for $40 used.

So all you have to do now is give the host of the yard sale a five spot and get back in the car. Then pull your phone back out and list it on Amazon (or similar site like eBay). You will have to pay some fees and shipping, but it is likely that you can pocket about $25 is this deal.

If you can hit a neighborhood or city-wide garage sale day, you have the potential to make even more cash. Try higher-end neighborhoods too. They’ll often have great deals at garage sales because people just want the stuff gone.

10. Take a Job as a Server or Bartender

Many restaurants are hiring servers on a regular basis. With these types of jobs, you can often start right away. While the hourly wage is low, the real money for servers and bartenders lies in the tips.

If you choose to work at a moderately priced sit-down restaurant or a higher end restaurant, the tips will be even higher. But the key to fast income here is in the great service you provide. People love good service when they go out to eat.

Listen and pay attention to what your clients are saying. If the cook makes a mistake, take responsibility for it. Fix errors promptly and apologize sincerely. Talk to your customers as if they were old friends.

If you work five nights and take home $200 in tips each night, you’ve got your $1,000.

11. Do Some Online Freelance Work

Do you have skills such as writing, editing or graphic design? If so, you can earn some quick cash doing freelancing work from home. Sites such as Upwork allow you to post your skills and services for others seeking out these types of services.

You could also approach blog owners about writing for their sites or helping them design better sites. Online job boards such as Craigslist also have frequent listings for freelance gigs such as writing.

I’ve been freelance writing for five years now, and I’ve never made less than $25 an hour. If you have a knack for some of the much-needed online freelancing services out there, you can make some quick cash.

12. Become a Tutor

Students from Kindergarten on up through college and later adulthood often need tutors. A person may need a tutor to help their child with math or science.

Or an adult hoping to gain citizenship may need someone to teach them the English language. Also, a parent of a young child may need someone to help their child with reading.

It’s not uncommon to make $20 an hour or more as a tutor. If you work for 50 hours in one week, you’ve made your $1,000. Advertise your tutoring services on Craigslist or Facebook.

You can work for an online tutoring company too. But the hourly wage likely won’t be as high as it would if you were freelancing.

13. Clean/Organize for People

I don’t know one person who doesn’t need some area of their home cleaned or organized. Advertise your services on Craigslist or Facebook to help you earn you some fast cash. Offer services such as:

  • House cleaning
  • Home organizing
  • Deep cleaning/detailing cars
  • Light lawn clean up and landscaping, such as mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, raking up leaves, etc.
  • Cleaning windows
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Clearing out garages or basements
  • Making a run to the junkyard

Charge what you’re worth and help people make their lives a little less cluttered in the process. And if they’re bringing valuable stuff to a thrift store, ask if you can take some items to resell for extra cash.

14. Babysit or Nanny

People pay decent cash to have responsible and trustworthy people care for their children while they’re at work or play. If you like kids and are good with kids, consider doing some babysitting or nannying.

You can make money fast if you book yourself during daytime hours while people are at work.

Babysitting nights and weekends can help you rake in some fast cash too. So will babysitting for multiple kids or families.

Hint: People will sometimes pay extra if they come home to a clean house and if the kids give you a good review.

15. Cut Your Expenses

When all else fails – or in addition to working to earn money – you can cut expenses to earn fast cash. Consider using on our Challenge Everything Budget even if it’s just for a short time.

For example, don’t buy groceries – eat what’s already in the house instead. Avoid all optional expenses such as eating out or entertainment. Bike, walk or carpool to work.

Cut optional expenses such as gym memberships and salon visits. Go through each line item in your budget and cut anything that isn’t an absolute necessity. You might be surprised how much extra cash you end up with after a week.

16. Give Advice

Yes, you really can get paid to give advice. Websites such as JustAnswer pay experts in over 700 categories to answer user-submitted questions. For instance, if you have a law degree, you could answer someone’s legal question.

If you’re an HVAC expert, you could answer someone’s heating/air conditioning question. Here’s how the site works.

  • First, you start by signing up to be an expert in your category.
  • Second, you go through submitted questions. Users will post their question and what they’ll pay to get it answered.
  • Third, if you answer the question sufficiently, you get paid.

The pay can be really good because clients are still paying less than it would cost to talk to an expert in person. JustAnswer’s website says some experts make thousands of dollars per month on the site.

Note that you do have to be an expert in your claimed field. You have to possess some type of degree or experience in the field you want to be considered an expert in.

17. Do Gigs on Craigslist

Craigslist has a Gigs section that hosts all types of fast-money jobs. When you look in the Gigs section, you can find short-term jobs in areas such as:

  • computer
  • labor
  • creative
  • crew
  • talent
  • writing
  • domestic
  • event

Now note that as with all sites, there can be some weird stuff posted here. But there are also legitimate gigs that pay well. People need fast, short-term help, and are willing to pay for it. Here are some of the gigs that were on the Craigslist site in my area at the time of this writing.

  • concession stand workers for a week-long event. Long days, $12 an hour paid in cash
  • seasonal/holiday temporary retail jobs
  • female liquor ambassadors for events: $30 an hour
  • short-term construction work: $25-$35 an hour
  • various driving gigs
  • various handyman gigs such as painting or auto work: $1,000 per week
  • computer coding and other work

I found jobs for people with many different skill sets on the site. I recommend checking your local Craigslist site to see what types of gigs they have that might work for you. Note that the larger the city you live in, the more gig choices there will probably be.

18. Work on TaskRabbit

Have you heard of TaskRabbit? They offer services to people who need help with a handyman or other tasks. Once you sign up to be a “tasker,” you choose the jobs you want to work and make a bid on them. After you complete your jobs, you get paid.

When I checked the tasks available in my area, most were running between $47 and $120 per gig. At that kind of pay, you could do between 10 and 20 gigs per week and hit your $1,000 goal.

Some of the different tasks you might find to do on TaskRabbit could include:

  • furniture assembly
  • cleaning projects
  • organizing projects
  • redecorating/remodeling projects
  • electronics set-up type stuff
  • helping people move/get ready to move

Remember that you get to choose which tasks you do, so there’s no getting stuck doing jobs you don’t want. Your bid includes a 15% fee that goes to TaskRabbit. So, if you charge $100 for a job, you’ll get paid $85.

TaskRabbit collects the money for the tasks and pays you directly. This means you don’t have to worry about collecting money from clients.

19. Moonlight as a Handyman

Another option for making $1,000 in a week is to moonlight as a handyman. The truth is that repair companies can charge a ridiculous amount of money for jobs.

If you have the skills to fix things on your own, you can charge clients less and pocket the money for yourself.

Example: This summer I needed my air conditioner replaced. Mainstream HVAC place wanted to charge me $3400 to have a bottom-of-the-line unit installed. I found a guy on Craigslist that would put in a top-of-the-line new unit for $2400.

Guess which option I chose? I saved $1,000 by choosing Craigslist guy. And Craigslist guy earned several hundred dollars for a day’s work. Craigslist guy is now my new go-to HVAC guy.

If you have skills like HVAC, electrical or basic home repair, consider advertising your services and see if you can make extra cash.

20. Work as a Virtual Assistant

Blog owners, business owners and sole proprietors look for virtual assistants to help them run their businesses. If you work from home as a virtual assistant, you could make decent money doing a variety of tasks.

Virtual assistants do tasks such as:

  • Providing technical assistance
  • Scheduling social media posts and campaigns
  • Invoicing customers
  • Handling accounts receivable
  • Making phone calls
  • Sending and answering emails and other messages
  • Conducting research over the internet
  • Proofreading and editing
  • Making appointments
  • Data entry
  • Managing Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts
  • Writing
  • Blog management
  • Marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Customer service
  • And more

Businesses like to hire freelance virtual assistants because it saves them from having to have an employee. As a beginner virtual assistant, you might make between $12 and $15 an hour. However, as your experience grows, so does your pay.

It’s not uncommon for experienced virtual assistants to make $40 an hour or more. That’s $1600 per week if you do it full-time.

Look for jobs at online websites such as Upwork. Or approach blog or business owners to ask if they need someone to help them manage their workload.

Note that success in this type of work boils down to responsibility and efficiency. Well Kept Wallet’s virtual assistant, Kayla Sloan, founder of the 10KVA course, has a secure client in Well Kept Wallet. And that’s because we can count on her to do what needs to be done.

So if you’re responsible and efficient, you could make some quick cash doing short-term virtual assistant work. And if you like it, you could turn it into a full-time career.

Summary

The bottom line is, there are lots of ways you can make $1,000 in one week if you’re short on cash. Use one of these income avenues, or do a combination of two or more.

Give some of these a try next time you need some extra money in your pocket. I’d be willing to bet you’ll earn more than you expected if you try hard enough.

Which of these ways to make 1,000 dollars quickly are you going to try?  Have you already tried some of these ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments section on our Facebook page. 

How to Make Money Donating Plasma

Every week, I see someone asking, “Does anyone how I can make easy money on the side?” Usually, a few people respond with MLM or Uber suggestions, but I rarely see what I think is the easiest way to earn a few bucks: sell your plasma.

But anytime you decide to meddle with your body, there could be consequences. Read below to see if it’s the right side gig for you.

My Personal Experience Donating Plasma

When I was a senior in college, I started selling plasma at the local center. I lived in a big college town, and I’m sure there was no shortage of students willing to be poked with a needle in exchange for $20 (I bet many did that on the side for free!)

I started donating plasma because I was a full-time college student who was busy applying to internships and figuring out what I was going to do after graduation. I didn’t want to get a part-time job and wanted something easy to earn a little bit of spending money. Remember, this was in the days before you could sign up to drive for companies like Uber.

I was a little wary. Selling your plasma sounded like what junkies did to earn money to support their habit.

But I quickly realized the appeal of donating plasma. After the initial two-hour visit, most appointments lasted an hour and I could go anytime I wanted. It was easy to schedule an appointment or cancel.

I continued to donate plasma after graduation when I was trying to support myself for the first time. I was working part-time at a call center and had an unpaid internship an hour away. Giving plasma allowed me to earn some money without trying to take on another part-time job.

Unfortunately, I had to stop because of health reasons. Every time you stop in you have to get your hemoglobin levels checked. If they’re high enough, you’re good to go. If they’re too low, they won’t let you donate. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to tissues in your body. If your hemoglobin dips below a certain amount, then you’re anemic.

After a few weeks, my hemoglobin levels fell beneath the allowable range for plasma donation. Every time I went in, I was denied. I tried taking iron supplements, but they messed with my stomach and made me feel sick. After a while, I stopped going to the plasma center. My doctor said I wasn’t anemic, but my hemoglobin levels still weren’t high enough for me to donate safely. I probably could have kept trying, but it seemed like a waste to drive all that way to find out I couldn’t donate.

Why I Still Recommend it

One of the best reasons to donate plasma is that you can do other stuff while you’re sitting in the chair. You can read, watch TV, do homework or listen to music or podcasts. I was in college when I started donating, and even though I told myself I would bring my homework, I could never focus enough to be productive.

If you can’t get a part-time job with set hours, then donating plasma might be perfect for you. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about fitting in my plasma appointments alongside my internship and my other job.

What is plasma donation?

Plasma donation is when people sell the plasma portion of their blood. Plasma is used by pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs to treat diseases like hemophilia. Your plasma contains antibodies, enzymes, and other proteins. See here for more uses of plasma.

Does it hurt?

I hate getting blood tests and donating plasma was definitely an uncomfortable experience. Once the initial needle is in, it’s not painful. While the machine is sifting the plasma from your blood, it puts blood back in with a saline solution. For some reason, that saline feels cold when it enters your bloodstream, so you’ll feel pretty chilly during the experience. I recommend bringing a jacket or blanket with you.

Are there long-term effects?

 There are no long-term effects for donating your plasma. However, in the short term, you might feel dehydrated. You can rectify this easily by drinking more fluids before and after donating. Some websites say that alcohol will affect you more in the 24-48 hours after donation. I can’t remember if I felt uneasy after donation, but I always recommend eating well before and after donation.

Overall, plasma donation is incredibly safe. Yes, you might be in the same room with some unsavory looking characters, but your health isn’t in danger. Some people might have more adverse reactions to plasma donation, so always watch for any unusual symptoms after your appointment.

I will also point out that many people, myself included, develop track marks after a few weeks of donations. These are small scars that develop at the injection site. They don’t hurt or anything, but since drug users are more commonly associated with having them, some people are wary. Nobody, I know noticed mine unless I pointed them out. They go away eventually once you stop donating.

How much can you get paid to donate plasma?

Ah, the million dollar question. When I donated plasma, I made about $20 per donation. But each center has their own policy, so try to call around before you decide. Depending on the city you live in, some places pay up to $50.

My center offered a bonus if you donated a certain amount of times within a month. This is pretty standard. You can usually give two times a week with at least 48 hours in between for your body to recover. Qualifying for the bonuses is the best way to maximize your earning potential. In some cases, you can earn around $200 a month.

Most pay via a prepaid Visa gift card so you can withdraw cash from it or use it like a debit card.

Is it worth it?

This question is pretty subjective. If you get queasy at the site of a needle, $20 might not be worth it. If you’re desperate for an easy way to earn money, it might be.

Overall, the flexibility of plasma donation is its key characteristic. It’s like driving for Uber – you might not make as much as you could doing something else, but it’s one of the only things you can do where you choose the hours.

What are the requirements?

You have to weigh at least 110 pounds, be between 18-69 years old and have a clean bill of health. Most also require that you produce an in-state driver’s license, a social security card and proof of address.

The center will test your blood for diseases and they will also test your protein and hemoglobin levels. If those are too low, you’ll be ineligible to donate that day and will have to wait a certain amount of time before you can come back.

People who have donated blood have to wait about eight weeks or so to donate plasma.

Who should do it?

If you ever need extra money but don’t want the hassle of interviewing for a retail gig or driving for Uber, plasma donation is your best bet. If you want to do something that pays better, there are lots of side hustles that pay well and don’t require you to get poked with a needle.

How to Refinance Your Student Loans and Save Thousands

As student loan totals continue to increase every year, many millennial’s are finding it hard to stay above water. How can they pay their bills, save for a home and invest in retirement while tackling their student loans? The problem seems difficult for many to comprehend. Wages remain stagnant as people continue to graduate with more and more debt.

Fortunately, they have options. Refinancing your student loans is a little-known fact and it is now a possibility for millions of graduates, and successfully refinancing can save you thousands of dollars.

But like the classes you took in college, refinancing requires some upfront homework before you can pull the trigger. Refinancing is a permanent decision, and there’s no redo you get if you do it wrong the first time.

Read below to see what you need to know about refinancing your student loans.

Why Refinance Your Student Loans?

Most people refinance their student loans for two reasons: they can’t handle their current monthly payment and want it reduced or they want to lower their interest rate.

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If you fall into the first category and have federal student loans, you have other options. Most federal loans allow you to choose an extended or graduated repayment program that will extend your loan term but give you a lower monthly payment. Many people struggle to pay back their loans, especially if they’re not earning a lot, are living in a high-cost city or owe a huge amount.

You can change your loan term almost at any time. If you switch to a 25-year term and then land a better job, you can jump back to the standard 10-year term.

If you want to refinance because you have a high-interest rate, your only option is to choose a private company. Currently, the federal government has no plans to offer refinancing on its loans.

Refinancing federal student loans should be carefully thought out. You can’t go back to your federal loans after you refinance. Federal loans have a range of benefits including deferment, forbearance and as mentioned above, various repayment programs.

If you have private loans, refinancing is a no-brainer because you’re likely not going to miss any special perks.

Whether federal student loan refinancing is worth the risk depends on the borrower. Some have stable jobs and are content to roll the dice. Others aren’t sure if they want to lose the option of deferment in case they go back to grad school or are truly struggling to pay the bills.

Also, if you’re interested in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, refinancing will strip away any ability you have to get your loans forgiven. Private lenders don’t offer forgiveness programs so if you’re eligible, it might be better to keep your federal loans.

Refinancing can you save money even if you get what appears to be a measly offer. For example, if you just graduated with $20,000 worth of loans and are paying 6.8% interest rate, changing to a 6.75% interest rate could save you more than $7,000 in interest.

The Process of Refinancing

Anyone interested in refinancing should check their credit report first, which you can do for free at annualcreditreport.com. A refinance company will determine what rate to offer you based on your income, credit score and other factors. You should check your credit report before refinancing to see if there are any inaccuracies that can ding your score.

If there are mistakes, you can send a letter and call the creditor to let them know. The Federal Trade Commission has sample letters you can customize and send out.

You can locate your FICO credit score by purchasing it on annualcreditreport.com or seeing if your bank or credit card marks it on your statement. Sites like Credit Karma show your Vantage credit score for fee. The Vantage score is similar to your FICO score but calculated differently.

Most companies want a credit score of 700 and higher. If you want to refinance, but have a lower score, take a few months to beef it up. Look through your credit report and see what’s dragging your score down. Do you have collections, defaults or late payments? Call those lenders and see if they can remove those negative marks.

Choosing a Company

In the last few years, a number of start-ups focused on student loan refinancing have sprung up. These companies buy up your student loans and give you a lower interest rate in exchange. Because these firms are widespread, students have more options if they want to refinance.

SoFi is one of the top refinance companies and offers fixed rates starting at 2.790% and variable rates at 3.040% with AutoPay. Not only can SoFi give you a better rate on your student loans, they also offer investment advice and career coaching. But they’re not the only company out there with significant perks.

So how do you choose with all the available options?

First, compare the interest rate. Once you apply to the companies, see what interest rates they offer you. Some can give you a fixed rate that will stay the same throughout your loan, while others offer a variable rate that changes depending on the market. Variable loans often have a lower initial rate, but that can change quickly. If you do choose a variable rate, make sure you can afford to make the payment if the interest increases.

Second, compare the terms. Are you being offered a 10-year, 15-year or 20-year term? Typically, the longer your loan is, the more you’ll pay in interest. Some graduates find that they end up paying more with a small interest rate because their loan is longer. Ask to see what the total interest will be so you can compare each offer fairly. Some companies also charge origination fees, so make sure to include those costs as you compare.

Many refinancing companies allow you to check your rate without doing a full application or taking a hard pull. A soft pull won’t appear on your credit report, unlike a hard inquiry.

Refinancing aggregate Credible lets you input your information and provides some sample rates to give you an idea of what you’re eligible for. They might ask for:

  • Where you attended college
  • What degree you had
  • How much work experience you have
  • How much you earn
  • How much you want to refinance
  • How much you pay for housing each month

After you give them the information and create an account, they prepare a short list of creditors willing to work with you. This list is not definitive and doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically eligible. It only serves as a guidepost for what’s out there.

You can sort the results by interest rate, monthly payment, total interest paid and more. Remember, if you want to lower your payments, see which company can provide the best deal. If you need to reduce your interest rate, check the total interest paid.

You can refinance your student loans as many times as you want. If the market changes and rates are suddenly lower, you can refinance with your current company or find a new one. If you refinanced the first time to get a lower payment and are now ready to start focusing on your debt, you can refinance to get a lower rate.

Refinancing can ding your credit score and cost you hours of your time, but overall it can save you thousands or tens of thousands. You can use that difference to save for a home, start a new business, take a vacation or pay off other debt.

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