Student Loan Payoff Plan

Student Loan Payoff Plan

Student Loan Payoff Plan


Your federal Student Loan Payoff Plan got a little help from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). While there is no debt forgiveness, the CARES Act will give you a break from payments and the accrual of interest for certain Federal student loans until September 30, 2020. Read on for the details on how the Coronavirus Stimulus package will affect your Student Loan Payoff Plan.

Student Loan Payoff Plan

Your student loan payoff plan may be changed by the new Corona Virus Stimulus CARES Act. I have listed the main parts of the act below that will affect you and your loans.



The first thing to understand is that the CARES Act's provisions only apply to Federal Student Loans. Some older federal loans are excluded, including Perkins Loans and commercially held Federal Family Education Loans. If any of your loans are private, you must maintain your normal payment schedules for those loans. Private lenders are under no obligation to delay payments of the accrual of interest.

No Payments Until after September 30, 2020

The CARES Act allows you to stop making payments on your federal student loans until after September 30, 2020. If you are able to continue making payments, if may be a good idea to continue so that you will pay off your debt as you had previously planned. If, however, you are experiencing a financial hardship, you will be able to temporarily stop making payments without penalty.

Interest will stop accruing until after September 30, 2020

No interest will accrue on your loans until after September 30, 2020. So, if you stop making payments, your balance will be exactly the same on October 1, 2020 as it is today. If you are able to make payments at your regular rate, this is also good news, because all of your payments will go to principal, which will help reduce your balance faster and pay off your loan sooner.

Skipped Payments still count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you are pursuing public service loan forgiveness, the skipped payments will count as part of your required 120 monthly student loan payments.

Employer Loan Payments

Your employer can now pay up to $5250 of your student loans as an employee benefit tax-free.

No Collection of Student Loan Debt

The CARES Act stops garnishment of wages and the reduction of tax refunds and Social Security benefits for the repayment of defaulted federal student loans.

Your Automatic Payments will Cease

You do not need to contact your lender to stop your automatic payments. They will stop them for you. If you wish to continue to make payments, contact your lender and find out the best way to continue making payments.


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has some great news for those facing economic hardship including the repayment of federal student loans. Be sure to contact your lender if there is any doubt that your loans qualify – some may and some may not. You may still owe payments on some loans and not on others. Absolutely DO NOT STOP MAKING YOUR PAYMENTS unless you are certain that your loan qualifies. If you are not facing financial hardship, use this time to make some ground on your student loan payoff plan. Every dollar you pay will go straight to the principal of the loan.


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Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students: Over 30 Ideas for Productivity and Earnings

Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students: Over 30 Ideas for Productivity and Earnings

Summer and Online Jobs for Teens and College Students


Every parent’s favorite summer activity for their teen or college student is a J-O-B. Nothing like getting them into the real world, collecting a pay check and having taxes deducted from it to help them see the value of their education. A job doing anything whether it is hauling trash, answering phones, entering data, or taking orders at the Burger Barn is a worthwhile experience. It teaches responsibility and gives them references and experience for their future endeavors. However, if a “real” J-O-B has not worked out, here are some ideas for Summer and Online Jobs for Teens and College Students.

Summer and Online Jobs for Teens and College Students

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Try Self Employment:

Self Employment has endless possibilities. Any skill can be marketed to neighbors, friends, and friends' Facebook contacts.

  • Babysitting
  • Lawn mowing
  • Other yard work
  • Tutoring
  • Computer or other technical skills (One of my sons earned money transferring friends’ old VHS recordings into digital formats. He has now branched into video production, including weddings and promotional videos.)
  • House sitting
  • Pet sitting
  • Providing rides for kids to lessons, camps, the pool, etc. for occupied parents

Take Classes for Employable Skills:

Online Jobs or “Microjobs”

Online jobs and “Microjobs” are a way to earn a small amount of money or miles or gift cards. They will not make them wealthy, but can give your student something productive to do while binging on “Friends.”s.

  • Usertesting: Members evaluate websites and receive $10 per site evaluated. I have had my website evaluated several times by usertesting.
  • Survey Police: Listings of survey sites you can join to earn money and other benefits. The site also gives the scoop on each site. Some are not worth your time.
  • Panel Place: A survey site that links you to reliable survey companies.
  • Ibotta: Go through your groceries and take pictures of the bar codes of featured products and the corresponding receipts to earn money towards gift cards. I have an account with ibotta. I don't use it as much as I should, but I did earn a $25 Amazon gift card in the last 6 months. If you use my link to join, you will receive $10 in your account and I will receive $5 in mine.
  • Music Xray: Music fans get paid to listen to new songs. I have never used this site, but it sounds interesting, and something that could keep a teen busy for hours.



Hire your student:

  • Give your teen or college student a household responsibility, such as the yard, the laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and pay them to do it.

Apply for scholarships:

Take Summer School:

  • Knock out a high school or college graduation requirement.


  • Even if they have a job, send them to a hospital, a church, or anywhere that won’t consider it trespassing if your kid hangs around trying to be helpful. Consistent volunteer work is a great college application and resume booster.

Get a Paid or Unpaid Summer Internship:

  • For your college kids, summer internships in their chosen field are a must. If you have a connection in that field, then it is not too late to ask if your college student could intern with them for a week or more this summer.
  • Most internships are applied for and accepted during the spring, so if one is not available this summer, time spent researching what internships would be possible for the next summer and the application process will pay off.
  • Ask to interview someone in a field of interest about their education and experiences. If a real live human is not available, listen to podcasts or read blogs about the profession.

Read “7 Musts Before Senior Year“:


Plan for College

Attend Camp:

  • Fun, sun, bonding, getting along with others, new skills and adventures. I’ve never heard of a camp that allows the kids to stay up all night, sleep all day, and make a mess of their cabin, so even though their duffle and clothes will be full of dirt, they will have an intact sleep/wake cycle when they return.

Attend Specialized Camps and Classes

  • There are camps and classes for everything: badminton, musical theater, cheerleading, sewing, cooking, tennis, creative writing. Don’t miss the opportunity to improve a skill or acquire a new one.

Test Prep:

Special Projects:

Do you have projects you are “going to get to someday?” Hire your son or daughter to do one. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Organize photos
  • Scan photos
  • Video your house as a home inventory for insurance purposes.
  • Clean out the garage.
  • Clean out a closet.
  • Hold a garage sale with the items they have cleaned out and allow them to keep all or a percentage of the profits.

Bucket List:

  • Make a bucket list for the summer with these parameters: something fun, something to read, something to try for the first time, and somewhere to go.

List their textbooks:

  • Get last semester's textbooks listed on Amazon. Sell them, mail them, collect the money.

Sell Digital Photos:

  • Aspiring photographer? Put those pics out there and see if someone will buy them. It might be me. I buy my stock photos from 123rf.

Start a blog:

  • Blogs give you a forum for your thoughts, teach you to create a website. (i.e. marketable skill), and sometimes make a little money. To begin you will need a host server and domain name. I use Siteground as my server and WordPress to build my site. WordPress is free. I have a custom theme called “Divi” that I purchased from Elegant Themes. I share more about blogging in this post.

Get ready for the next school year:

  • Read the assigned summer book or books.
  • Clean out backpacks.
  • Clean out dorm stuff and pack up for the next year.


While a job working for someone else is the first choice of most parents for their teen or college student, sometimes that does not work out. But, there are still plenty of ways to make productive use of time and even earn money during the summer. They can free-lance their skills and time, prepare for standardized tests (which can mean money later on), take classes, volunteer, work online, and many other possibilities.

What are your best ideas for keeping your teens and college students productive and earning money this summer?


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Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students

Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students

Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students


No one likes paying for college and no one likes doing their taxes. Fortunately there are a few ways to make the process more pleasant during tax time with tax credits and deductions for parents of college students. These college student tax credits can give you a few of your tuition dollars back from the government when you file your taxes each year.

For more posts about Paying for College:

How to Complete Your FAFSA

The Complete Guide to Paying for College



Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students


There are 2 tax credits and one tax deduction available to parents of college students. They are the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the Student Loan Interest Deduction.


The American Opportunity Credit

The American Opportunity Credit is a credit available to parents of college students who claim their student as a dependent on their taxes. College students who are not dependents on anyone else's return may also claim the credit.

If your adjusted gross income is below $90,000 for single filers and $180,000 for joint filers, you can take up to a $2500 credit per eligible student on your return. The cool thing about credits (as opposed to deductions) is that they come straight off your tax bill.

Your college student must be pursuing a degree or other recognized credential, be at least a half-time student, and have a social security number to claim this credit.

The other cool thing about this credit is that you could potentially receive CASH BACK. 40% of the credit is refundable for most taxpayers.


Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit is another credit available to parents of college students. You cannot take both the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit on the same return. Usually the AOC is better, but you can only take the AOC for 4 years per eligible student. The Lifetime Learning Credit can be taken for an unlimited number of years. So, if you are still paying for expenses after 4 years, you can switch to the LLC.

Although the Lifetime Learning Credit has a lower income threshold ($68,000 for single filers and $136,000 for joint filers), its eligibility requirements are not as strict. It does not require that the student be pursuing a degree and includes courses to acquire or improve job skills and it can be claimed for one or more courses.

The LLC will not result in a refund on your return. It can only reduce the amount you owe.


Student Loan Interest Deduction

The student loan interest deduction is not a credit. It is a deduction, meaning it reduces your income, not your tax liability. The maximum deduction is $2,500.

This deduction can be taken by the person who is claiming the student as a dependent AND is legally obligated to pay the student loan interest.

The person who is legally obligated on the loan will receive a 1098-E from each institution to whom $600 or more in interest was paid during the tax year.

The income threshold for this deduction is $85,000 for single taxpayers and $170,000 for joint taxpayers.


Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students Cheat Sheet

I created a cheat sheet to summarize the information in this post. It is available in The Printables Library. You can access it below. These college student tax credits and student loan interest deduction are complicated in their eligibility, so I encourage you to consult a tax professional. I have done my best to report accurate information, which I obtained from IRS Publication 970.  

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crockpot meals for two
Christmas Planner Template

Christmas Planner Template

Christmas Planner Template


I use both paper planners and digital planners depending on what I am doing. This year I nerded out and created a complete Christmas Planner Template because digital planners win every time there are numbers to be added.  Christmas lists and budgets and meals are items that are just complicated enough to need a digital Christmas Planner Template. I can't imagine adding up my budget by hand or erasing and re-adding the numbers every time a change is made.

If you, however, prefer paper even when numbers are involved, check out Stress Less this Christmas for a link to a beautiful paper Christmas Planner created by a friend of mine.

Otherwise, read on to find out how to completely organize your Christmas meals, gift lists, budget, and more with my Christmas Planner Template.

Christmas Planner Template

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar. 


This Christmas Planner Template was created to be used with a FREE AirTable Account. AirTable is a super cool organization system that is kinda like a spreadsheet system, but WAY BETTER!! Cells can be formatted to be checkboxes, multiple choice items, dates, times, text, and more. This is awesome for Christmas organization because you need to plan meals and other gatherings, make grocery lists, make gift lists, decide on a budget, and it sure does help if your lists can talk to each other.


The ability for the sheets to talk to each other is one of the coolest things about AirTable.

You make a list of recipients on one sheet, then you are able to choose the recipient on your Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other shopping sheets.

THEN, it gets even better. The gifts will also appear by the recipient on the Gift Recipient sheet.

You can plan your meals by occasion. It does not even have to be a full meal. You could set up a meal for the treats you need to bring to your daughter's classroom party.

You will then be able to select which meal or occasion every item on your grocery list goes with.

AirTable is also an APP that you can download on your phone so you will be able to take your lists with you everywhere you go. All the information will sync from your computer to your phone app.

Every good organization system needs a place for a “Brain Dump.” List everything you can think of that you need to get done. If you give it a date, that date will appear on your calendar.

Check out the Complete Holiday Sanity Saver Christmas Planner Template!

Still Prefer Paper?

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions

How to Make New Year's Resolutions using Mark 12:30


Many years ago I read an article about How to Make New Year's Resolutions. The author said that you should make a resolution in each of these categories: financial, social, intellectual, and physical. Because I was a Christian, I added a spiritual category.

Several years later, after reading Mark 12:30, it occurred to me that every goal, whether physical, financial, social, or intellectual is ultimately a spiritual goal. We are called to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Our entire being works together in everything we do to honor our creator. This post tells you How to Make New Year's Resolutions using Mark 12:30.

A FREE PRINTABLE 18 Page Workbook is available to assist you as you make your 2020 New Year's Resolutions.

How to Make New Year's Resolutions using Mark 12:30


Taking time to review the year behind and plan for the year ahead is a process everyone should undertake. As the Christmas decorations come down and we begin to rest from the frenzy of the prior days, sitting down for a few hours with a notebook, a pen, and a warm beverage to plan the year ahead is a gift we should give ourselves. Here are some steps to help you through the process:

Meditate on Mark 12:30.

“Love the Lord your God with all your HEART (relationships with others) and with all your SOUL (relationship with God) and with all your MIND (my intellect and skills) and with all your STRENGTH (my body, my finances, my time, my surroundings.)

HEART: relationships with others. Think about the relationships in your life. What do you need to do to improve these relationships? What relationships do you need to let go of? Who do you need to forgive? How can you live at peace with yourself and others?

Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.”

SOUL: relationship with God. What do you need to do to become closer to God?

        Psalm 119:175:  “Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.”

        I can't recommend enough reading the entire chapter of Psalm 119 as you think on your  relationship with God

MIND: A vast category of learning and expanding. It's not a category of just eliminating the pollutants, but enriching our thoughts with good books, good ideas, new skills, new people. Learn something new this year and use that skill in service to God and man.

Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

James 1:5:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

STRENGTH: physical goals – the bulk of most resolutions – weight, exercise, diet, finances, home improvement, careers, etc. This category could be called “taking care of business.”

These items are the things that strengthen or weaken our hearts, souls, and minds. If our “business” is out of whack, it strains our relationships with others and with God and keeps our minds focused in the wrong place. If our hearts, souls, and minds are out of whack, we have difficulty accomplishing our strengthening goals.

We may even add harmful habits to distract us from our hearts, souls, and minds. Think about what business you need to take care of. What to you need to do to keep your body healthy? How are you spending your money? Are you taking care of the home you are blessed with?

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Luke 11:36: “Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Ephesians 4:1: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”

Put your goals in writing.

 The FREE PRINTABLE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION WORKBOOK is a great place to write down your goals for 2020. 


Run some tests.

  • Is it realistic? Is the goal reasonable and accomplish-able or is it just a fantasy?
  • Is it measurable? Should it be measurable? How will you know if you have accomplished your goal or not? Some goals are easy to measure. Did you clean out the closet and give unneeded items to charity or sell them as part of your financial goals? Others are not easily measured, like relationships. While there are concrete, measurable steps that can be taken in your relationships, in the end, only you will know if you are at peace in your relationships.
  • Is it about bananas? Is it a fad or a narrow dictate from an article or book? I reference the lowly banana because periodically I see an article citing the diabolical consequences of eating bananas. Having spent 7 years attending high school cross country and track meets observing thousands of abnormally skinny kids consume millions of pounds of bananas, I can assure you that banana peels make a mess, but they are not the sole cause of an expanding waistline. Realize that certain items, like health and finances, can not be improved with one gimmicky change.
  • Is it a good use of resources and time? There are things that are not worth your time or resources and can become an obsession.

Make a plan – a real one.

Write it down! All the steps! Write them down!

 Be accountable.   

I'm not talking about bearing your soul to everyone on Facebook; just decide who or what is going to spur you on.

 Finally, be patient with yourself.

Resolve to love the person God created and not the one you wished he had created. Just keep moving forward. You can do it.

A new year is a time for self-reflection and planning. Following the instructions for How to Make New Year's Resolutions Using Mark 12:30 as a guide will help you keep your plans and goals in perspective of the ultimate goal. May you be blessed in the new year.

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Do You Need a Driving Contract with your Teen?

Do You Need a Driving Contract with your Teen?

Do Parents Need A Teen Driving Contract?


Prior to our first son turning 16, our insurance company sent us a driving contract for us to execute with him before we let him loose on the streets. It had not occurred to us to have a contract with our son covering our expectations of him in order to have the privilege of driving. The more my husband and I read the contract and thought about this new privilege, the more we were convinced we did need to make a written contract with him. What do you think? Do Parents Need A Teen Driving Contract ?

Do Parents Need a Teen Driving Contract?


We decided we did need teen driving contracts. These are the reasons.


·      Driving is a potentially dangerous activity with adult responsibilities and consequences. The privilege should not be given or taken lightly.

·      Driving is not free. We needed a clear understanding between us of what costs we planned to cover and what costs he was expected to cover.

·      A vehicle requires maintenance. We wanted him to understand what our expectations were regarding maintaining his vehicle.

·      Allowing another to ride in your vehicle involves assumption of liability for that passenger’s safety.

·      The signing of the contract ceremonially hands over the keys. It emphasizes the seriousness of the new endeavor.

·      It has become a fun family tradition for us to take our new driver out for dinner and sign it with him. (Have the ceremony a few days before the driver’s test. Once they get that license it will be hard to keep their attention.)

The contract provided by the insurance company was a start for the contract we wrote. Their contract did not completely cover every point we wanted to emphasize and some of their contract was not relevant to our family.


This is the Teen Driving contract we wrote:

Teen Driving Contract

Between ___(mom)___, _____(Dad)___ and ___(teen)__

 Understand that it is only because we love you and are concerned for your safety and the safety of others that we ask you to enter into this agreement with us. We are extremely proud of you and are excited for you as you take on this very adult responsibility.

I, ___(teen)________, promise to NEVER:

·      Text while driving. Ever.

·      Drive without wearing my seatbelt and I will require all my passengers to wear theirs.

·      Ride in a vehicle where the driver has consumed alcohol or illegal substances or prescription drugs that are not theirs.

·      Use my cell phone for any purpose while driving. If I need to make a call, I will pull over. I will not answer my cell phone while driving.

·      Engage in distracting behaviors, like eating, grooming, or adjusting the radio/cell phone music while driving.

·      Drive with more passengers than allowed by law.

·      Drive someone else’s vehicle or allow someone to drive mine unless it is an absolute emergency. (If possible at all, call Mom or Dad first.)

 I, ___(teen)_________, promise to:

·      Abide by all traffic laws and signs.

·      Check and adjust my seat, rearview, and side mirrors before driving.

·      Take proper care of my vehicle, which includes:

            Maintaining a least a quarter tank of gas at all times.

            Changing the oil at the proper intervals.

            Notifying Mom or Dad immediately if any warning lights appear.

            Keeping the vehicle clean inside and out.

·      Accept the adult consequences for any mistakes I may make while driving. Adult responsibilities come with adult consequences. Excuses will not change the consequences. All traffic tickets or damages caused by me to any vehicle I am driving and damages to any property belonging to someone else is my sole responsibility. This responsibility includes any increase in insurance costs caused by a mistake on my part. 

·      Be willing to (and with a good attitude) help my family by driving __(siblings)__ to activities or running errands for my family when asked.

 Temporary restrictions (Mom and Dad will sign off on these when they feel they are no longer necessary.)

·      I will text Mom or Dad my location and driving intentions. Mom and Dad need to know where I am and my vehicle are at all times. (e.g. Text when I arrive at and leave school, text when I leave one location and go to another.)

·      I will not enter any highway system without specific permission from Mom or Dad. (A highway is any road with on/off ramps, speeds limits over 50 mph, no stoplights, etc.)

 I, ______(teen)__________, understand that the consumption or use of alcohol, illegal substances, tobacco, or prescription drugs that are not prescribed for me will result in the immediate revocation of my driving privileges, as well as other consequences that are deemed necessary. I, __________(teen)_____, also understand that driving is a privilege and that none of the cars owned by our family fully belongs to me. This contract is not to be considered an exhaustive list of every responsibility and may be updated or amended as necessary.


We, ___(Mom and Dad)_____, agree to allow ________(teen)_________ to have the privilege of driving under the agreement stated in this contract!


Signed and dated,

 ________________________________________________________                              _________________________

 ________________________________________________________                              _________________________

________________________________________________________                               _________________________


What do you think? Do Parents Need a Driving Contract With Their Teens? Do you have or plan to have a teen driving contract?

The Teen Driving Contract is available in the Almost Empty Nest Printables Library. Join below to access the Teen Driving Contract and all of the other printables featured in Almost Empty Nest blog posts.


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Take the "Which Planner Should I Choose?" QuizHere