A company realized why it's so hard for young employees to save money. Then came an idea.

Did you know that more than 40 million Americans have outstanding student loans, totaling more than $1.2 trillion?

It's true according to recent analysis. And with an average balance of $29,000, loans can be a major long-term burden that prevents borrowers from homeownership, owning a car, or even having adequate health insurance.

Bye-bye, income. GIF from "The Jetsons."

Some employers are helping out in a really cool way — by giving their employees money to pay down their student loans.

Free money?!


Well, not quite, but something along those lines.

Many businesses offer employees various perks as a way to keep talent for the long run. Whether it's in the form of health insurance, generous vacation policies, or year-end bonuses, these are fringe benefits businesses use to lure the best and brightest away from competitors and help retain their current employees.

But some companies are getting creative by offering their employees cash bonuses for the explicit purpose of repaying student loans.

$$$.

Natixis Global Asset Management is the latest company to offer this, giving employees $10,000 to repay student loans.

And here's how it'll work: Starting January 1, 2016, employees who have been with the company for five or more years will be eligible to receive a $5,000 lump-sum payment to go toward paying off government-backed student loans. They'll then get $1,000 per year for the next five years for that same purpose.
Their plan follows the same basic framework as that of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a company that announced back in September that they will begin offering employees $1,200 per year for six years toward paying down student loans.

According to Natixis, the decision was made simply because they wanted to "put their money where their mouth is."

As an asset management company, Natixis emphasizes the importance of saving for retirement at an early age. Unfortunately, when there are loans to be paid, that's not so easy.

"We decided it was time we put our money where our mouth is, and make sure our own people are on sound financial footing," Tracey Flaherty, the senior vice president of retirement strategies at Natixis, told CNN.

It's hard to start saving for retirement when you don't have money to save. GIF from "Bridesmaids."

Way to go, companies that acknowledge the burden of student loans! Now here's hoping Congress can find a long-term fix.

The skyrocketing cost of education (and the loans that result) needs to be addressed. When a college degree becomes a near requirement to survive in the workforce, the cost of college is extra burdensome.

Some in Congress have pushed bills that would help cap tuition increases, determine where federal loans can be used, and lower interest rates. Even the president has gotten behind student loan reform. So far, this hasn't really gained a whole lot of traction. Graduates and companies like Natixis shouldn't necessarily have to foot the bill for student loans, but until Congress makes some changes, it's great to see companies helping their people out anyway. It's the right thing to do.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

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Gates Foundation

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