We don’t care if Starbucks is already slinging pumpkin spice lattes — summer isn’t over quite yet. There are still a few weeks to basque in the warmer weather and, if you’re lucky, squeeze in a last-minute vacation to round out the season.
While it might seem early, you should start thinking about your travel plans for the cooler months, too, particularly for Thanksgiving. We've got the holiday-travel savings stats below for September's installment of Money Moves. Also on the docket are a couple to-dos you won't want to skim over if you have student debt or want to buy a vehicle. The good news is that there are no hard deadlines this month. (So we won’t judge if you want to wait until Labor Day passes to cross them off your list.)
Here’s your financial checklist for the month of September:
1. Sign up for student loan forgiveness alerts from the Education Department
There’s little chance you haven’t heard this already, but just in case: The Biden administration is forgiving up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for millions of borrowers.
There are several asterisks. For starters, you must make less than $125,000 as a single tax filer to qualify for up to $10,000 of loan forgiveness. To get the full $20,000, you must have received a Pell Grant — these are given to students with financial need — during college. (Here’s more on who qualifies for student loan forgiveness.)
Biden's plan is expected to entirely wipe out the debt of some 20 million borrowers. The White House said loans for approximately 8 million Americans will be forgiven automatically. But everyone who thinks they qualify for forgiveness — including those 8 million — are encouraged to apply for forgiveness in early October when the Education Department releases an application.
There are still additional details to iron out. For now, the two key things you should do are to make sure your contact information with your loan servicer is up to date and to sign up for email alerts from the Education Department, which will let you know when the applications are open.
2. Book your Thanksgiving travel this month
Planning to fly home for Thanksgiving? Many travel experts and publications rave that September is a good month to book your airfare.
The data largely bears this out — though you may want to wait until after the Labor Day travel dies down. According to price projections from CheapAir, a budget travel agency, the expected Thanksgiving airfare booked in September is $450 compared to $549 in August.
For Thanksgiving travel booked in October, prices are expected to tick up to $492. By November? It jumps to $676.
The agency says you can typically score good deals if you fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, but for the holiday week, the best deals available will be for flights on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday.
3. Maximize your used car’s trade-in value
Since late 2020, car prices have gone absolutely wild.
The average price for both new and used cars are still lingering near all-time highs: over $47,000 and $29,000 respectively, according to the automotive research firm Edmunds.
On the used car front, we're getting some much needed reprieve. Prices have finally started falling. Not by a lot, but they have been coming down fairly consistently for the past several months. Overall, this is a decent sign. It’s not a stop-what-you’re-doing-and-buy-a-used-car-immediately sign, but it's still a decent one. If you’ve been wanting to trade in your used car for a new one, it's also a call to action.
Here’s why, as Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds recently explained to Money: The flip side of high used vehicle prices is high trade-in values. On average, dealers are paying above $23,000 for used cars — historically very high. And if you subtract that trade-in value from the price of a new car (around $47,000 — or possibly lower if paired with a Labor Day deal), it suddenly becomes a little more palatable. The thing is, this sweet spot for high trade-in values will come to an end as used cars continue to get cheaper and cheaper.
So if you plan on swapping your old ride for a new one, according to Edmunds, you may want to line up your purchase sooner than later.