Making money: Getting a grasp on student loans, and more

3 top pieces of financial advice — from how to beat an all-cash bid on a house to saving for job hoppers

Get a grip on your loans.
(Image credit: ThinkStock/Photodisc)

How to beat an all-cash bid

House-buying rules have changed since the market has heated up again, says Beth Braverman at CNN. "The days when you could scoop up a house for 20 percent less than its list price are long gone," so "don't waste time with a lowball offer." In fact, don't bother coming in more than 2 or 3 percent below the asking price. If you wind up in a bidding war, it helps "to move quickly, since today's sellers don't want multiple go-rounds." To outsmart professional investors who "count on nabbing properties at a big discount" with all-cash deals, show a prequalification letter to prove your money is solid, and lead with your best offer. Investors are "unlikely to boost their bid" by more than 5 or 10 percent — they'll just move on to another property.

Saving for job hoppers

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"Millennials tend to hopscotch between jobs early in their careers," says Rachel Rosenthal in The Wall Street Journal, and that can pose problems for saving. Young professionals should never cash out of an old 401(k) when they go to a new employer, since that can incur a big tax hit. It's better to roll those funds into your new employer's plan or into an IRA. And when you assess a new position, don't just focus on salary; ask about benefits, including retirement plans and health coverage. If the employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, consider a Roth IRA. "Though contributions are made with after-tax dollars," Roths are a good option for "young savers who expect to be in a higher tax bracket" later, when they can withdraw funds tax-free.

Getting a grasp on student loans

Start tackling student loan bills, says Heidi Moore in The Guardian. Instead of letting those bills pile up, get yourself organized and find out how much you owe, what your interest rate is, and who holds your loans. Online services like or the iPhone app LearnVest can help you gather your loan information and visualize it with interactive charts; "this can be very motivating." And while "any payment is a good payment," remember that a good strategy can be useful. Make bigger payments to lower the principal when you're able, and if your lender offers you a chance to reduce your interest, grab it. Whatever you do, "take it in stride." Most Americans owe some kind of debt — "don't beat yourself up if you're not perfect at paying down your loans."

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