Money Minute: College Grads' Debt Up as Job Market Improves

The job prospects for this year's college grads have improved slightly, but they're starting their careers with more debt than any other class.

Thirty-three thousand dollars. That's the amount owed by the average new graduate who needed loans to pay for school. Edvisors says that's the highest debt load of any class ever, even after adjusting for inflation. In addition, more students than ever -- more than 70 percent -- are leaving college with loan debt. And the prospect for next year's grads isn't any better. They're expected to have even more debt.

As expected, AT&T (T) has agreed to pay nearly $49 billion to buy DirecTV (DTV), the nation's leading satellite-TV provider. It's the second gigantic media deal this year, coming just a few months after Comcast (CMCSA) agreed to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $45 billion. The hope of these Goliaths is that their size will give them more power to negotiate with content providers, and to dominate the consumer market for Internet, telecommunications and pay TV.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Meanwhile, Pfizer (PFE) once again raised its bid to buy rival drug maker AstraZeneca (AZN), and the British company quickly rejected the sweetened offer, which was valued at about $118 billion. The proposed deal has also sparked a political debate in the U.S. because Pfizer would move its headquarters to Great Britain to avoid paying higher U.S. corporate taxes. Pfizer said its latest offer is it's final one. We'll see.

The numbers here on Wall Street were mixed last week. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) lost 0.6 percent, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained half a percent, and the the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was virtually flat.

Finally, Facebook (FB) is developing its own video chat app. According the Financial Times, the app is designed to compete with Snapchat, which Facebook tried and failed to acquire. Snapchat is popular among teenagers, an increasingly tough market for Facebook to draw many 'likes' from. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to be directly overseeing the project to create a short video messaging service.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

7 Simple Habits to Save a Pretty Penny (or $100)
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Money Minute: College Grads' Debt Up as Job Market Improves
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? As a frugal guy, this is one of my favorite rules in spending. If you’re about to spend any more than $20 on something that is unnecessary, don’t. Instead, put the item down and wait 30 days to buy it. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by not making unnecessary frivolous purchases.
I literally mean freeze your credit cards. It seems a bit extreme, but think of it this way. The average credit card comes with a 13 percent or higher interest rate. By simply not using credit cards as often, you’ll save a ton. So, get a plastic sandwich bag and put your credit cards in it. Fill it with water, zip it up and throw it in the freezer. Without easy access to those tempting pieces of plastic, you probably won’t use them as much. However, they’ll still be around -- in an emergency, you can retrieve them from the ice.
Have you ever looked around your house, seen a few items and thought, “I could have made that!” You probably could have. The only thing is, you didn’t. Instead you paid for it. From now on, before you buy something you think you can make on your own, give it a shot. I saved a little over a hundred bucks about two weeks ago. I needed a new bird cage for my fiancé’s doves. Instead of buying a cage for $200, I made one that was far bigger for less than $80.
Did you know that a clean air filter in your car can lead to 7 percent more fuel efficiency? That means at current gas prices, with a clean air filter, you’ll save about $100 a year, if you drive the average 10,000 miles.
How often on the way home from the office do you want to stop for a convenient quick meal? You’ve had a long day, and it feels justified. But it costs much more than a home-cooked meal. The answer is your slow cooker. Use it to prepare your meal in the morning on days you know will be rough. This way, you can skip the fast food and rush home to an already ready home-cooked meal.

Do you pay a maintenance fee for your bank account? Why? Tons of banks offer checking and savings accounts without them. Look to your local credit union or even switch to an online bank. When comparing your options, also look at the interest you can earn. Currently, I get about 3 percent on checking and about 3.4 percent on savings, but who knows what kind of great deals you can find?

I’ve had tons of options to sign up for customer rewards programs and I was just too busy. So, I didn’t sign up. Then one day, I realized that I was paying for rewards I wasn’t getting. The cost of the rewards obviously trickles down to the end consumer. So, if the end consumer doesn’t take part, he or she loses money in the process. Since I’ve signed up for every reward program around me, I’ve saved at least 20 or 30 bucks a month in rewards.

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