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A Guide on How to Get Irish Citizenship

how to get irish citizenshipThere are around 33 million Americans who claim Irish heritage, either primarily or partially, according to the Pew Research Center. This number is seven times larger than the Republic of Ireland population, which is 4.7 million!

Ireland is more than just leprechauns and clovers. It’s a country with vivid green landscapes, old-time castles, beautiful cliffs, an abundance of pubs, and friendly people.

Americans who want to connect more with their Irish heritage are in luck. You might be able to claim Irish citizenship by descent. I was recently able to acquire my Irish citizenship this way.

Growing up, I never knew much about my paternal grandmother. Through the years, from stories told by my dad and aunt, I learned how much of a daring and drive woman she was. Born in Dublin, Ireland, she moved to America and swiftly started work at a factory, later meeting my paternal grandfather, and getting married. My dad was born nine months after they got married. Talk about fast timing! Haha.

My aunt had gotten her Irish citizenship years ago. She went on to live in Ireland for nearly two years. Because of this, I always wanted to finally get my Irish citizenship one day.

Back in 2002 when my older brother first tried to get his, the process was very long and tedious. Nowadays, thanks to the gift of technological advancement and more efficient mail service, getting your Irish citizenship doesn’t involve too much hassle.

Once I got all of my supporting documentation together, it only took five months from the date of applying to the date of confirmation to get my Irish citizenship. Afterward, I applied for my Irish passport, which took two months. The whole process took eight months altogther. Not too bad!

Are you interested in how to get Irish citizenship? Read on to find out how to claim it.

Irish Citizenship by Descent

This guide is mainly for people applying for citizenship through an Irish-born grandparent and people looking for information on how to obtain the necessary documentation for the Irish citizenship and Irish passport process. 

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1956 allows certain persons born outside of Ireland to claim Irish citizenship by descent.

Basically, if you have an Irish-born grandparent and/or an Irish born parent, then you are eligible for Irish citizenship.

Note: There are some instances where you can obtain Irish citizenship through your great-grandparent. This is only possible if your parent was granted Irish citizenship by descent prior to your birth. So if you’re a childless person right now claiming citizenship through your Irish-born grandparent, any future children you have will also be able to claim citizenship. But you have to get in the Foreign Birth Register before they are born. 

Let’s focus on the main ways to claim Irish citizenship by descent.

Irish-born grandparent: Anyone born outside Ireland whose grandmother or grandfather, but not his or her parents, were born in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) may become an Irish citizen by registering in the Irish Foreign Births Register (FBR) at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin or at the nearest Irish Embassy or Consular Office.  

Irish-born parent: Anyone born in Ireland prior to 1 January 2005, except for children of parents holding diplomatic immunity in Ireland, are automatically granted Irish citizenship. You would just need to apply for your Irish passport.

Citizenship by descent is not automatic and must be acquired through the application. Even for people who have Irish-born parents, you would still need to apply for an Irish passport in order to claim your citizenship.

How to Apply for Irish Citizenship by Descent

You need to get yourself put in the Ireland Foreign Births Register. To apply for registration in the Foreign Births Register, you will need to submit a completed and witnessed Foreign Birth Registration form. You do this by filling out the online application, printing it, getting it witnessed, and then mailing it to the address listed at the top of the printed application.

This address will usually be the Dublin office, the Cork office, or your nearest Irish Embassy or consulate. Along with your printed and witness application, you will send all the required supporting documentation (outlined below).

 Important: Don’t fill out the online application until the day that you will go meet your witness in order to have your application witnessed. It’s a lot less hassle in case the witness becomes unavailable and you have a delay in finding another one (this happened to me).

When you fill out the online application, at the end of it there will be a button you can press to download or print a copy of the application. Download a copy to your computer and then go on to pay the processing fee and submit your online application. Open up the downloaded application on your computer and print it out. Have your witness sign the witness section and sign and date your two passport photos. 

 

Once your application is processed and completed, you will be provided with a certificate confirming your entry in the Irish Register of Foreign Births. You will need this certificate to use as evidence of your Irish citizenship when applying for your Irish passport.

I distinctly remember getting the confirmation of my Irish citizenship. The initial email confirmation arrived in my inbox three days after St. Patrick’s Day. The paper certification arrived in the mail about two weeks after that. The piece of paper was literally just that, a single page that just states your name, address, and date of birth and says you’re now in the Foreign Birth Register.

I don’t know really know what else I was expecting. Maybe a rush of balloons to come out of the envelope? Haha.

One thing to remember is that Irish passport applications cannot be accepted at the same time as citizenship applications. They are two different processes.

Irish citizenship process (Foreign Birth Register)—–>Then, Irish passport process.

You need both your Foreign Birth Register certification and your Irish passport in order to fully be a citizen and be able to reap the benefits of your Irish citizenship which include living and working in Ireland and any European Union country including: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Required Supporting Documentation

The supporting documentation required differs a bit if you’re applying through an Irish-born grandparent or thorough an Irish-born parent, so pay attention. Remember, if your parent was born in Ireland, then you are an Irish citizenship, and you just need to apply for your Irish passport (different process). For people with Irish-born grandparents, read on below.

More information on documentation can be found at the Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs website.

For your Irish born grandparent:

  1. Civil marriage certificate (if married)
  2. Final divorce decree (if divorced)
  3. A current passport of official photo identity document (e.g. passport) for the Irish born grandparent. If the grandparent is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate is required.
  4. Official, long-form civil Irish birth certificate if born after 1864. Baptismal registers may be used to establish the grandparent’s date of birth if he/she was born prior to 1864, or with a search certificate from the General Register Office of Ireland stating that no Irish civil birth certificate exists.

For the parent:

  1. Civil marriage certificate (if married)
  2. Notarized photocopy of current passport (if they have one) or other photo identification (like a driver’s license). 
  3. If the parent is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate.
  4. Full, long-form civil birth certificate of the parent showing your grandparents’ names, places of birth and ages at birth.

For you:

  1. Full, long-form civil birth certificate which shows your parents’ names, places of birth and ages at time of birth. 
  2. When there has been a change of name (e.g. marriage), supporting documentation must be provided (e.g. civil marriage certificate).
  3. Notarized photocopy of current passport (if you have one) or other photo identification (like a driver’s license). 
  4. 3 Proof of address. Three documents such as a copy of a bank statement, utility bill, credit card statement, or auto insurance bill showing your present address. (The embassy seems to prefer actual print documents rather than internet printouts, so disable your paperless settings and sign up for papered statements.
  5. Two recent passport-type photographs which must be signed and dated on the back by the witness to section E of the application form at the same time as the form is witnessed. A notary public is NOT an acceptable witness for your Irish citizenship application.

Witnesses must be one of the following:

  • Member of the Clergy
  • Medical Doctor
  • School Principal
  • Bank Manager
  • Solicitor/Lawyer/Commissioner for Oaths
  • Police Officer
  • Magistrate/Judge

All official documents – birth, marriage and death certificates – must be original or official (certified) copies from the issuing authority. It is important to note that church certified baptismal and marriage certificates may be considered only if submitted with a statement from the relevant civil authority that they were unsuccessful in their search for a civil record. Hospital certified birth certificates are not acceptable. All other necessary supporting documents (e.g. proofs of identity) should be notarized copies of originals (your photo passport page, for example).

Once you have obtained all of the required supporting documentation, you will compile it together, complete the online application, print out a copy of the online application, have it witnessed, then mail it off with your supporting documentation (including one photocopy of each document) to the address listed at the top of the paper application.

I would strongly recommend sending it off by registered mail. When I did mine, I just went to the post office with my envelope of stuff and purchased a priority mail envelope to put it in. I got a tracking number and was able to track the shipment and see when it got to Dublin, Ireland.

Related: Helpful FAQ section on Irish citizenship by descent

How Do I Obtain All of These Records?

You’ve got your Irish-born grandparent and/or Irish-born parent, you’ve read through the supporting documentation you need to apply, and you’re ready to go! You’re probably thinking, “This is great! Irish citizenship here I come!”

But wait…how do you get all the required supporting documentation?

Well, there are some resources you can use. The first stop is the Government Records Office of Ireland. They have records of births, deaths, and marriages for all of Ireland (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) from 1864 to 1921 and Records from the Republic of Ireland from 1922 and on.

You can apply in person, by postal mail, or online.

Irish Birth Records

Available as far back as 1864.

Request the “full certificate”, which contains the date and place of birth, given name, sex, father’s name and occupation, mother’s name, the informant of birth, date of registration, and the signature of the Registrar.

Apply for Irish birth certificate. 

Irish Death Records

Available as far back as 1864.

Request a “full certificate” of the original death record, which contains date and place of death, name of deceased, sex, age (sometimes approximate), occupation, cause of death, informant of death (not necessarily a relative), date of registration and Registrar’s name.

Application for an Irish Death Certificate. 

Irish Marriage Records

Available as far back as 1845 (Protestant marriages) and from 1864 (Roman Catholic marriages).

Marriage records in the Government Register Office are cross-listed under the surname of both the bride and groom. Be sure to request a “full certificate” of the original marriage record, which contains the date and place of marriage, names of bride and groom, age, marital status (spinster, bachelor, widow, widower), occupation, place of residence at time of marriage, name and occupation of father of bride and groom, witnesses to marriage and clergyman who performed the ceremony.

After 1950, additional information provided on marriage records includes the dates of birth for the bride and groom, mother’s names, and a future address.

Application for an Irish Marriage Certificate.

Additional Helpful Resources

Roots Ireland

Irish Genealogy

Can I obtain citizenship through marriage?

Let’s say you are able to claim Irish citizenship by descent. Can your partner claim citizenship as well, even if they don’t have Irish heritage/Irish-born family? Short answer, yes. Long answer, it’s a bit complex.

You can apply for Irish citizenship on the basis of your marriage to an Irish citizen. Find out more information by clicking here.  In short, you have to have been married to an Irish citizen for three years and have lived in Ireland for a few years.

I don’t know much about this, so you’ll have to research more about it on your own.

Fees and Costs

When it was all said and done, I ended up spending around $600 USD to get my Irish citizenship and Irish passport. This cost is comprised of the application fees, getting passport photos, having copies made at UPS, and paying for priority/trackable mail to send the application.

The current fee for applying for your Irish citizenship and getting in the Foreign Birth Register for a person age 18 or older is €270 euros.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Applications for Foreign Birth Register take approximately six (6) months to process.  

Applications for Irish passports take approximately 8-10 weeks to process.

Applying for an Irish Passport

Once you receive your Foreign Birth Register certificate, you are able to apply for an Irish passport. You need to apply for an Irish passport in order to fully become an Irish citizen and be able to live, work, and travel around European Union countries.

As a first-time applicant, you have to do the paper application. Visit the Irish passport website, click on the “how to apply for a passport”, and you will be provided with a list of Irish consulates near you.

Submit an online query to ones close to you and ask if they process passport applications and if so, you would like a paper application mailed to you. Include your address.

For my situation, my address is in Texas and even though there are Irish consulates here, I had to apply to the Chicago consulate since they processed passports and the Texas ones didn’t. The frustrating part of this process was that they send the paper application by regular mail.

It was a bummer because it took forever for the application to come in the mail. Four weeks to be exact. When my application had finally come, it was only one. I had requested two (one for me, one for my dad). After contacting them again, they sent another one in the mail but after the application never ended up coming in the mail! Ugh. Since I was already itching for a getaway to somewhere, I decided to make a trip up to Chicago and picked and picked up the application in person.

Related: How to Apply for a Passport

Related: Irish Passport FAQs

Wrap Up

Whew! That was a lot. Hopefully, this guide will be helpful on how to get Irish citizenship. I’m so glad I finally completed the process. It feels great to have the ability and opportunity to live and work in Ireland or other European Union countries if I ever desire.

Both Ireland and the United States allow for people to retain their original citizenship when getting citizenship to another country. So, once you get your Irish citizenship, you will be a dual citizen!

I have still never been to Ireland, can you believe that? I have citizenship in a country I’ve never even been to. Although that will soon change. A trip to the emerald wonderland is happening soon!

Cheers!

Monthly Progress Update: July 2018

Chicago travel & a monthly update: July 2018

Welcome to another monthly progress update. I haven’t done one in a while. In fact, I haven’t even posted in a while. A little over two months to be exact.

There is a reason for this, which I will get more into. One big thing that happened is I got my Irish passport and fully completed my Irish citizenship process. I’m so happy I finally got it! I don’t know if or when I will ever move to Ireland but it’s nice to have options. Holding a European Union (EU) passport will allow me to live and work in several European Union countries if I ever wanted to.

As for everything else,  there have been a bunch of highs and lows. I could come up with a short and sweet movie cliche explanation like “I’ve learned and grown so much!” which is technically true, but there is more to it than that.

Financial Update

I have three main savings accounts that I’m making a point to contribute to. I don’t always contribute to each of them equally every month but each of them has grown in the last few months.

  • Car fund
  • Emergency fund
  • Fun fund (for travel and personal development)

I created these separate accounts at the end of last year. Beforehand, I had just had two savings accounts with the default account numbers on them. Nicknaming your accounts can really do wonders for motivation!

I started a new budgeting method back at the beginning of June that I really love. I had previously used You Need A Budget (YNAB). I liked it but missed having a spreadsheet. There is just something about spreadsheets that I love when it comes to budgeting, I don’t know exactly why.

So, I signed up for Tiller. I remember hearing about Tiller last year at #FinCon17. The main feature of the service is that it automatically imports your financial transactions into a Google Sheets spreadsheet every day. I love it!

One of the tedious things about using a spreadsheet for budgeting is having to log into all of your accounts (bank, credit card, investments, etc) and then go through them and input them manually into the spreadsheet.

Now that I have Tiller automatically importing transactions daily, I find I’m checking and updating my budget a lot more frequently during the month. It’s so awesome.

Freelancing

I’ve scaled this way down. I was getting somewhat steady freelance writing work at the start of this year. Although, over time, I started to get more and more distraught with what I was doing. I like writing and all, but something started to feel off.

I felt like I was being pulled to do something else. So a little while back, I stopped working with my main client and now only do freelance writing occasionally.

My mind started to feel a lot clearer once that happened. Right now, I’m focusing more on doing Facebook Ads as a side hustle rather than freelance writing. I’m going through the Facebook Side Hustle course and learning all about it.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Blog posts have been sporadic on Rebel With A Plan. There is no denying that. For a long while, ever since #FinCon17, I really wrestled with how I envisioned this site. Did I want it to be a mega-successful blog that makes lots in affiliate and ad revenue? Did I want it to be some hobby blog where monetization isn’t a priority and it makes pennies?

I kept asking myself this question over and over, “What do I really want to do with this site?”

I bought new blogging tools in order to improve. Ones on keyword research, social graphics, email marketing, and growth.

But I could never really move the needle and make myself spend more time working on this site. I had, and still currently do, have some things I want to do. There is a writing project I’m trying to finish. I’ve gotten more into fitness and photography.

I slowly learned that I couldn’t really attempt to juggle all of these things and expect to excel in all of them at the same time.

Eventually, I made the decision to not focus as much time on building this blog. I enjoy writing content for this site, so that’s what made it so hard. It’s not like a traditional blog quitting story where a person grows tired of their blog and then lets it die a slow death. I still like writing here and plan to keep writing here for a long time, but it’s just not going to be in that traditional 1-3x a week blogging style.

What has your summer been like so far? Let me know!

Did Travel Ruin My Sense of Fulfillment?

Did travel ruin my sense of fulfillment? Travel is an eye-opening and enriching experience. But I can't help but wonder if it helped or hurt my sense of fulfillment.I used to think my livelihood and path towards fulfillment had to come from my career. Success and fulfillment were only things that could be achieved through some job you would hear people marvel at.

A job at a top public relations agency? That was considered impressive. Working long hours juggling different client accounts? It was admirable.

Growing up in a small town with 8,000 people and three traffic lights, I had always wanted more. Like most angsty teens, I dreamed of escaping the place and going on to live in a bigger city. One that had a diverse group of people, frequent events, and strong career prospects. 

To set myself up for success, I filled up my schedule with things to do. I joined the drama group and started acting in plays, did swimming, participated in several clubs, and had a class roster of advanced placement classes.

I tried my hardest to do good, making sure my grades were staying up and vigorously preparing for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Independence and escape were important. 

Did travel ruin my sense of fulfillment? Travel is an eye-opening and enriching experience. But I can't help but wonder if it helped or hurt my sense of fulfillment.

Figuring out a career path

There was a vague idea of potential career paths in my mind as a teen. I really liked making videos. I worked on web series and skits and had a YouTube channel. Audio Video Production was one of my favorite classes in high school.

Once in university, I chose the mass communication and media program. Wanting to get better at my speaking and writing skills, I specialized in public relations.

From there, I quickly decided I wanted an illustrious career in the journalism or public relations/media relations industry. It was fascinating to watch journalists be the unsung heroes on TV and in movies. My downtime involved reading The New York Times for hard news and picking up copies of Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone for long-form profiles. I was hooked. 

I worked on my college newspaper as a news reporter and at my college radio station as an anchor. The positions got me closer to that vision of fulfillment I wanted, which was to get a media job.

Did travel ruin my sense of fulfillment? Travel is an eye-opening and enriching experience. But I can't help but wonder if it helped or hurt my sense of fulfillment.

Eventually, there was the realization of how the depiction of writers and journalists in Hollywood was a tad glamorized. Anyone who has ever read an article deconstructing Carrie Bradshaw’s spending habits from Sex and the City probably knows this. 

But, it wasn’t just Hollywood that clouded the reality. The industry also did it. It didn’t matter if you worked 60 hour weeks in a low-paying journalism job, at least it was at a well-known news organization that would yield satisfactory expressions.

Are the jobs all they’re cracked up to be?

path towards fulfillment
from GIPHY

Towards the end of my college career, I had finally gotten the position I had been pinning for: an internship at a public relations agency. The role involved assisting with client accounts, compiling information on competitors, and finding ways to get a client media coverage.

I hated it.

Something weird about the PR industry is how being overworked and stressed is seen as normal and even cool. A job as an account coordinator usually involves 50-70 hour work weeks, juggling five to seven client accounts, and having to bring your laptop home to do work on the weekends, all while earning $32,000-36,000 a year.

My idea of fulfillment up until that point had always been to get a PR job and rise through the ranks. As I worked through that internship, that idea slowly faded away.

Figuring that it was just the particular job, I brushed it off. Once I graduated, I started applying for jobs in public relations and content marketing.

A lot of the jobs were paying $30,000-35,000 a year for roles that required tons of hours, lots of tasks, and no real growth opportunity. For a while, I accepted the idea of it.

I liked working in the field and wanted that coveted job title of account coordinator. It was a ticket to the life I wanted. A sense of fulfillment. 

I never did get that job title. Numerous rejections came through, citing that while I was a good candidate, I didn’t have the two to three years of experience they wanted for the entry-level role. 

Eventually, I took a blue collar job installing internet and phone systems. The job involved climbing telephone poles in the super humid 100+ degree Fahrenheit Texas weather.

I.was. miserable.

All of the hard work I had done up to that point didn’t seem like it mattered. I just didn’t see how it could work given that all the jobs I came across paid $35,000 or under and required two to three years experience.

A Change of Direction

I’ve always been a big homebody. Give me a book and good indie movie and I can stay in the house all the time. I used to never like going out or traveling in faraway places.

It probably had to be due in part to the people in college who would come back from a five-week study abroad trip and act like they had gone through a ~~spiritual awakening~~. 

Inadvertently, I ended up sort of being one of those people. No, I’m not going to mention living abroad every five minutes like some vegan crossfitter. (which one do they mention first?!?)

But after living abroad for 19 months in Thailand and Australia, my perspective has shifted. Living in those countries and traveling to other ones, exposed me to different groups of people.

I learned the value of experimentation and being put in a place of moderate discomfort. Travel opened up a part of curiosity I never thought I had before. 

I do still desire to move to a bigger city like Chicago or New York. Although, the blind veil of willingly accepting a ‘cool’ position is lost on me now. What fun is it to have those jobs if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to do anything? 

The reality is always different

A few weeks ago, I went to New York City and visited a friend while there. She had moved to New York right after graduating college and started working the dream position she had been working towards.

She revealed how she wanted to move somewhere else for a change of pace. Living in New York and making a shockingly low salary of $30,000 was tiring after a while.

Did travel ruin my sense of fulfillment? Travel is an eye-opening and enriching experience. But I can't help but wonder if it helped or hurt my sense of fulfillment.

A few people I know ended up moving on from their PR jobs. Into more fulfilling work that better aligned with where they wanted to go.

It made me wonder about how travel has ruined my sense of fulfillment.  I got a taste of working in PR and I didn’t like it. The reality ended up being different from the expectation. Putting in the work and paying your dues is still necessary, but I now know that it doesn’t have to involve being miserable and broke all the time. 

Putting in the work and paying your dues is still necessary, but I now know that it doesn't have to involve being miserable and broke all the time. Click To Tweet

The world is diverse and rich with experiences. Travel has brought me into contact with some wonderful lessons.

The lessons are not always some blissful “Eat Pray Love” kind of lesson. Being lost in the hectic streets of Myanmar is anything but relaxing. Running out of gas on a desolate road in Koh Chang, Thailand is scary. Both of those things happened to me. While they weren’t a zen and enlighting thing to experience, they did push my perspective to different limits.

I don’t desire to be one of those constant traveling digital nomads. My days of long and constant travel are behind me, but the effect of the experiences have stayed with me.

For the longest time, I tried to make sense of what I’ve been doing these past 3+ years I’ve been out of college. It has looked a lot different than I anticipated. For the longest time, that caused me anxiety. 

I need to have a plan! Why am I not working in my field? Ahhhh. 

I thought having a set plan was the key to success. Travel showed me it didn’t have to be that way. It wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t get my dream job I’d been hoping for. 

Priorities change, but the journey can teach you lessons you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

Did travel ruin my sense of fulfillment? I don’t think so. It just shifted it.


How did you find your sense of fulfillment in life? 

Student Loans Stressing You Out? Here’s What to do

Student loans stressing you out? Here's what to do.Student loan debt is now over $1.4 trillion. Yep, let that sink in. The Class of 2016 (latest data) graduated with an average of $37,000 in student loans.

Student loans stressing you out? You’re not alone.

Student loans are a big problem for many people. They contribute to the delay of many life events like travel, marriage, kids, saving for retirement, buying a house. Aside from big life events, they can also affect your day to day, robbing you of the ability to have a greater quality of life that being debt-free would entail.

There was a strong sense of relief I had when I finished paying off my student loans and became debt-free. No, it wasn’t some mega event where rockets shot out and confetti rained down on me. However, it did feel good.

After seeing the final payment go through, I finally felt like I had a little bit more control of my life. More options.

Student loans stress out a lot of people. Destroying them is a long battle filled with ups and downs. If you’re feeling like student loans are stressing you out, there are some things you can do.

Assess the Situation

You probably have a general idea of what your student loan debt is. It’s the number you see when you log in to your loan provider account.

Seeing the number is a good start, but it’s best to lay out your student loans. Lay them out to get a clear picture of where each payment is going and what the current state of them is.

  • Remaining balance
  • Interest rate
  • Monthly payment
  • When they will be gone if you keep paying the minimum monthly payment.

A great free tool I found for managing this is Undebt.it. You sign up for an account, input your various debt amounts and interest rates, and it will tell you the projected payoff date depending on how much you put towards your debt every month.

Undebt.it lets you follow the debt payoff plan you choose. This can either be the debt snowball (lowest balance first), debt avalanche (debt with highest interest rate first) or your own custom plan.

The tool is free to use. It can be a great way to visually see your progress as you pay off your debt. I used and loved Undebt.it during my own student loan payoff journey. Seeing the progress I was making is what helped me stay on track and keep from getting discouraged.

Understand Your Federal Benefits

I graduated college with $21,000 in student loans. All of that debt was in the form of subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans. For an increasing number of college students, this isn’t the case.

The gap between federal loan limits and college costs continues to grow wider. As a result, more people are taking out private student loans in addition to federal student loans.

If most or all of your student loans consist of federal loans, then you have many repayment options on your side.

Standard 10-year repayment: The most common type of repayment plan. You pay a set monthly amount for 10 years.

Graduated repayment: lower amount at the start, increase in monthly payment every two years. 10-year overall repayment term. Benefits of this can be lower payments when you’re making a low entry-level salary. As your salary increases, the monthly payment does, making it manageable for some.

Extended repayment plan: extends your repayment term to 25 years. The monthly payment is a fixed or graduated amount.

Income-driven repayment plan: monthly payment is a percentage of the total income you make.

The extended, graduated, and income-driven plans can be great if you’re struggling to make the minimum payments while on the standard plan. The downside is you pay more in interest over time.

Go through each of the plans and weight the pros and cons to find the one to best fit your situation. It’s all about what works for you and helps make the debt manageable.

See if You Can Refinance Your Student Loans

The higher the interest rate, the more you pay.

The journey to paying off student loans is often a years long process. If you have student loans with high-interest rates, consider refinancing them. Doing so could save you thousands of dollars over the course of your repayment journey.

One of the things I have wondered about my own student loan payoff journey is how much I would have saved if I had refinanced them. I didn’t have any private loans. They were all federal loans with interest rates of 4-5%. I did, however, have a big unsubsidized student loan with a 6.8% interest rate that dragged me down a lot.

I’ve stories of people being able to save up to $20,000 on their student loans by refinancing them to get a lower interest rate. This usually happens to people with a lot of private (i.e. high interest) student loans.

LendEDU is a great tool to use if you’re considering refinancing your student loans. 10 questions and three minutes is all it takes to find and compare the best interest rates from several different student loan refinancing companies.

Explore ways to pay off your student loans faster

Usually, this involves making more money. Finding ways to grow your income can be tricky at first. Start by identifying some low-hanging fruit. This can be taking surveys, using cash back credit cards, and cashback sites.

Taking surveys can be a good way to make a little bit of money in your downtime, like when you’re watching TV. You’re not going to get big bucks from them. In my personal experience and from what I’ve seen, you can probably make about $50-100 a month taking surveys.

Cashback credit cards can be really good. You probably have several regular, recurring expenses like groceries, cell phone bill, gas, rent, and auto insurance. Why not put those expenses on a cashback credit card and get rewards?

I have a Discover It Card that earns me 1% cash back and 5% in rotating categories. I also have the Ebates cash back browser extension installed so I can earn cash back on my online purchases. I’m able to redeem my cashback by sending it to my bank account or getting things like an Amazon gift card, which allows me to buy books (I love books!).

After you’ve implemented some simple ways to make a little extra cash, it’s time to step up the game. Look into how you can start and grow a side hustle that can yield you a nice little stash of side income.

Arm yourself with some knowledge to get going. Read books on side hustling to get in the growth mindset. Become a frequent visitor to freelance/side hustle focused websites. My favorites are Side Hustle Nation, The Write Life, and the And.Co blog.

Starting a blog can a great way to build your skillset and a side hustle. When I first started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing (sometimes I feel like I still don’t….haha). Along the way, I started to improve.

A blog allows you to gain experience in digital marketing topics and parlay it into different side hustles like freelance writing, social media management, virtual assistant, and digital marketing consultant. 

My first freelance writing client came about because the person read my blog, liked it, and decided to hire me to write content for their website.

Pick a Debt Payoff Plan

Debt snowball or debt avalanche? It’s a constantly debated topic about which one is better.

The debt snowball method involves paying down the debts with the lowest balances first. This allows for quicker gratification since you’re able to pay the debt off faster.

The debt avalanche involves paying off the debt with the highest interest rate off first. Mathematically, the debt avalanche saves you more in interest since you’re saving money on interest by paying off the highest interest debt first.

The answer? Whatever the heck works for you. The important thing is to get on a debt payoff plan. So many people don’t and just get by on paying the minimum. Be strategic!

Bottom line

Student loans stress a lot of people out. They suck. I’m pretty sure that’s something most people can agree on.

If your student loans are stressing you out, start mending the situation by taking some small steps. Understand your student loans, figure out their interest rates, see how they fit into your monthly budget. Take action and find different ways to destroy them.

Are student loans stressing you out? How do you manage them?

Monthly Progress Update: May 2018

The past few months have been a doozy. I've traveled, freelanced, and picked up some new tools to save my organizationWelcome to my first monthly update!

I’ve never done these before. I’ve read them on other people’s blogs and wanted to start doing them myself. I like the accountability that comes with it. Nothing like sharing details to the internet at large, amiright? Haha.

This ‘May’ update doesn’t make a ton of sense since it’s still the middle-ish of the month. Thinking about it, I wanted to talk more about what the last few months have been like.

Traveling

When I made my trip to India back in January, I declared to myself that it would be my last one for a long while. Travel wrecks with me. That sounds weird coming from me since I did live in Thailand for one year, Australia for six months, and traveled to a few places in Southeast Asia.

Travel is great but I also like having a routine I can follow. Living in one place for an extended period of time is one thing. Doing short trips is another. Whenever I go on a trip somewhere, it always throws me in a loop.

I forget to do things, emails pile up, and finding focus becomes a lot more of a challenge. It’s a big reason why I don’t think I could ever become one of those digital nomads who’s hopping from place to place every few weeks.

Since the start of this year, I’ve done three travel trips.

India had such a rich culture and amazing food. A lot of the dishes there are vegetarian and they’re so good. I’d been yearning to go to India for several years, ever since reading a guidebook about the country when I was 18. The trip got pushed back multiple times but I’m glad I was finally able to travel there.

Traveling the golden triangle route and Varanasi and Bundi meant I only touched the surface of the massive country, but it was still awesome to see all that I did. The biggest negative involved getting stuck on a grueling 29-hour train ride, confined to a 6 ft by 6 ft sleeper block with five other people in my group. Yeah, just thinking about that brings back haunted memories…:)

Just last week, took a week-long visit to Chicago and Minneapolis. The trip originally started off on a low point. My flight had gotten canceled and even though I was refunded for it, I wasn’t able to get a refund for the Airbnb. So I ended up losing $123 on that. 🙁

I rebooked another flight for a few days later and it went fine. I spent four days in Chicago and three days in Minneapolis. I got to meet up with some FinConners during the trip! I had coffee with Brian Thompson in Chicago. In Minneapolis, I got to visit Erik from Mastermind Within, Gwen from Fiery Millennials and Wealth Well Done.

We had a game night and I ended up with a $3 million wealth accumulation in the game of Life. If only real life included copious interest-free loans! Haha.

Getting My Irish Citizenship

In March, I got one of the best emails ever. The Irish Consulate emailed me with confirmation that my application and documents had finally processed. I’m now an Irish citizen!

Via GIPHY

I visited Chicago for the reason of being able to submit my Irish passport application in person at the consulate. It should take a few months to process and after that, I’ll be a full Irish citizen.

Given my time abroad, people have asked me if I am going to move to Ireland. I’m not really sure but I like having options. The healthcare situation in the United States is chaos. Having an EU passport definitely gives me more options.

Last month, I got approved for the Amex Delta SkyMiles card. The signup bonus was 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 within three months of card opening. Then there are an additional 10,000 miles added after you spend another $1,000 within six months of the card opening. 60,000 bonus airline miles! I’m gonna use the miles towards a free flight to Ireland.

On Freelancing

You guys, freelancing is hard work. Wow. haha. I’m sure that is obvious on the surface level. But when you really get into it, you start to learn all the nitty gritty lessons that go along with it.

In case you didn’t know, I started doing more freelancing after leaving Australia in October 2017. I went to Fincon17 and was able to get some freelance writing clients from there. I’ve been using it to float me while I look for full-time jobs as well as decide what to do.

Freelancing has taught me a lot. There are still a lot of things I need to do better (mainly pitching and organization) but I’ve learned a lot.

Mainly stuff having to do with time management, communication, and selling. I’ve also started using some cool new tools that have helped me in organization and productivity. I’ll write a post on them soon.

Improving My Finances

I feel like I’ve been stuck in a rut with my personal finances for the last few months. Kinda dissatisfied with the slow progress I’ve made towards my main financial goals at the moment

  • New (to me) car fund
  • Emergency fund
  • Fun Fund (for vacations or personal development stuff)

I’m not sure I will need the “new to me car fund” since I am thinking about moving to Chicago, but I’m still actively contributing to it. One of my fantasies I’ve had for a long while has been walking into a car dealership and buying a pre-owned car in cash. When they sit me down to ask how I would like to finance the car, I would look off into the distance, put on my sunglasses, act like I’m in a movie, and say “I’ll pay with cash”

***cue the raining of hundred dollar bills***

Yeah, so clearly I’ve thought a lot about that, haha. My emergency fund is at a good place so I’m still contributing a portion to that. For my fun fund, I do want to take a trip to Ireland within the next year, so contributing to that is a big priority.

I started using a new budgeting system in February. It’s You Need a Budget! Lots of people rave about You Need a Budget (YNAB) and I used to always roll my eyes at it. It can’t be THAT good, right? I would say to myself.

I used to think You Need a Budget was the CrossFit of personal finance because anyone who uses it always seems to mention it every five minutes. Well, I did take the plunge and sign up for the free trial.

It’s a confusing thing at first. I had to use the r/YNAB subreddit to get answers to questions about several things. I think I’m slowly starting to get the hang of it and I kinda like it. It definitely beats the old traditional line item budget I had.

But good things come with a cost. YNAB costs $84 for a one-year subscription. We’ll see if I pull the trigger and pay the cost to continue using it.

How has your life and financial life been going the last few months? Let me know!

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