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Archive | April, 2014

College 101: 5 Money-Saving Tips

College 101: 5 Money-Saving Tips

gradcapmoneyAs college students, you hypothetically study more than you work— which makes you notoriously poor. But in addition to learning your alcohol intake limits and navigating a treacherous dating pool, usually being an undergraduate means you live on a fixed income. This makes this the ideal time to develop smart money skills and give thought to future expenses.

Here are five money tips for young folks heading to or already in college. And keep in mind, it’s not about being flush with cash, but learning how to wisely spend the money you have.

Think First, Spend Later

This is the habit that keeps financially responsible people from spending the greens that they don’t have. Instead, make lists, weigh the consequences or hold out for sales before impulsively buying things. Above all, it’s about practicing self control.

Whether you’re living on campus, in your parent’s basement or in an apartment with friends, a budget is an easy way to track your expenses and financial resources. Check out LearnVest, a free online program that helps you plan and customize specific money-focused goals.

Are You an Emotional Spender

The high achieved from “retail therapy” doesn’t last long and goes back to tip number one: self-control. Try a few of these tips before swiping your plastic:

  • If you think you HAVE to have it, sleep on it. If you still want it 24 hours later, make the purchase.
  • If you can’t be trusted alone in the mall, bring a friend. Retail therapy shouldn’t be used to combat loneliness, boredom or disappointing test results or a breakup.
  • If you’re already in debt, stop digging yourself into a deeper hole! Leave those credit cards at home.
  • Grab a notepad and jot down all the things you want in one column and all the things you need in another. How long would it take you save for each? Delayed gratification helps you appreciate the value of your money and helps you spend more consciously.

Protect Your Assets

Although online transactions have made it easier to pay for goods and services, it’s also easier for hackers to steal your credit card information.

  • Change passwords associated with any banking information monthly.
  • monitor your bank and credit card statements regularly so you know if something fishy is happening–purchases that you didn’t make should be obvious.
  • Always shred sensitive documents like outdated statements (or just go paperless), credit card applications, bills and anything with personal information before tossing it in the bin.
  • Request a credit report every three to four months to scan for abnormal activity. By law, you’re entitled to a free report every year from Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. There’s also several free websites, but always makes sure they’re secure and don’t charge you.
  • If you’re especially concerned or would like an extra layer of protection, services such as Lifelock offers identity theft, lost wallet and fraud protection.

Plan Now for Later

Consider this: federal loan debt has topped $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. So, don’t fail to think about life after graduation and how future debt could impact your financial security.

  • Save all your loose change in a jar and deposit it once a month or once a year in a savings account.
  • If you have job, start contributing to your 401(k). This is especially beneficial because that money is removed before taxes. And if you have a cool employer, they’ll probably match a certain percentage.

Posted in Financial Literacy1 Comment

6 of the Best Independent Coffee Shops in London’s City Centre

6 of the Best Independent Coffee Shops in London’s City Centre

laptopcoffeeAs a student, there’s nothing better than finding a great spot where you can relax yet get inspired to do that mega exhausting essay. The library isn’t for everyone, so for those who struggle to get started on that crazy word count, many head to a nearby coffee shop to get started…and lap up the free wifi.

If you’re lucky enough to study in London, there are thousands of amazing coffee places at your disposal to get your work done along with your caffeine fix. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite central coffee spots as they’re near the major student flats in London at uk.urbanest.com and the other major student halls.

Look Mum No Hands!

The name was certainly enough to grab our attention, but it did make sense once we saw the bicycle repair shop that’s attached to the side. It’s not just full of cyclists, though! This is one loved by people of all ages as they offer lots of different dishes and drinks, from salads to full dinners.

Address: 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX

Workshop Coffee Co

As well as this Marylebone branch, there’s also one in Clerkenwell, yet they’re extremely different. The Clerkenwell version is a bustling must-stop for locals and buzz, yet the Marylebone one seats just 14 people. This tiny hideaway is therefore perfect for those who crave peace and quiet while they work alongside a perfectly crafted coffee.

Address: 75 Wigmore Street, W1U 1QD

Foxcroft & Ginger

If your palette craves a more vintage taste, the Foxcroft & Ginger is a must just for the floral teacups alone! Take a peek at their delicious savory and sweet treats too, because, after all, what accompanies an essay better than a croissant?!

Address: 3 Berwick Street, W1F

Lantana

Enjoy a drink with a continental difference in this Australian coffee house. Students are always made to feel welcome in here as it’s so laid back and fresh, yet the coffee beans have certainly not been compromised. Their source for beans includes Brazil, Guatemala and Ethiopia so you know you’ll be getting a high quality brew, whether it’s a coffee or just a tea.

Address: 13 Charlotte Place, W1T

Timberyard Seven Dials

The Timberyard experts have done it again, opening a second shop to match their Shoreditch original, complete with the same charm (and wifi!) as the first. Each mug of tea comes with its own timer so you can always be assured you will have the perfect brew to go with your hard work. The cakes certainly aren’t bad, either!

Address: 7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9DL

Prufrock Coffee

Filled with the hustle and bustle of London commuting life during the weekdays, this idyllic coffee spot is a surprisingly relaxed haven when the weekend comes around. Situated on the quieter Leather Lane, this can be a good place to go if you seek a serene environment, yet fancy yourself as a bit of a coffee connoisseur as they brew the finest blends using the finest methods, including using the Chemex filter system.

Address: 23-25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE

Posted in Paying For College1 Comment

How America Pays For College – Sallie Mae Study

How America Pays For College – Sallie Mae Study

american-flagRecently, Sallie Mae did a study to figure out how Americans were paying for college in the year 2013. Some of the information they found was pretty interesting. So, today we’re going to talk about the biggest highlights the study uncovered.

Overview

The study found that there were 6 main sources for college funding in the United States. Those sources include…

1. Grants & Scholarships – Grants and scholarships were the largest sources of payment for college tuition in the United States throughout the year 2013. 30% of the cost of college education in the United States was covered through grants and scholarships.

2. Parent Income & Savings – Next in line, the parents of students pick up a hefty tab with regards to college education. In the year 2013 parents paid for a total of 27% of college education related costs. Not to worry, the study also found that 85% of parents agreed that the cost of college was more of an investment that will further their children’s ability for success in the future. This is the highest percentage of parents who’ve shown unwavering support for college education ever.

3. Student Borrowing – In 2013, student loans covered about 18% of college related expenses.

4. Student Income & Savings – That’s right, tons of students paid for their own college expenses through personal income and savings. As a matter of fact, 11% of college related costs in 2013 were paid through student income and savings.

5. Parent Borrowing – The study found that 9% of college expenses were covered by loans parents took out in 2013.

6. Relatives and Friends – Finally contributions to college education made by relatives and friends paid for about 5% of the United States’ college expenses in the year 2013.

Attitudes Toward College Depend On the Major Chosen

One very important thing that this study found is that it’s incredibly important to choose the right major. While everyone seems to agree that college is important, attitudes toward college by graduates vary depending on their course of study. If you do the math, it’s pretty easy to see why. The study found that some of the degrees that are most expensive to get yield the lowest average salaries for graduates; while some of the lowest cost degrees yield some of the highest paying jobs. Here’s an example…

The average social science major will pay $28,776 throughout the course of their education. Once they graduate, they will be welcomed into the work force at an average salary of $36,988 per year. The only kicker here is that the average college graduate makes about $44,455/year as a starting salary with some making more. For instance, if you were to choose Business as your Major, chances are, you’d spend around $18,576 on your education and earn a starting salary of $53,900 per year. So, if you plan to take advantage of a college education, make sure to choose your major wisely.

Investing In the Future Or Social Experience?

My favorite part of the study was the section that went over who looked at college as an investment. The study found that regardless of how much more money they could make in the future, some students would attend and pay for college simply for the social experience that comes with it. Here’s what they found…

· Math, Science, Visual and Performing Arts Majors – Feel strongly that college education is an investment in the future; one that is more important than social experience. These students are most likely to agree that college is becoming more and more important with regard to ability to succeed and make decent earnings.

·Professionals Such As Engineers – The vast majority of profession related majors such as engineering are filled with students that believe that they cannot obtain their desired occupation without graduating college. Therefore, regardless of social or intellectual experience, these students would be compelled to go to college.

·Visual And Performing Arts Majors – May not believe that a college degree is required to obtain their desired occupation, however feel strongly about the social and intellectual experience involved in a further education. About 50% of these students would attend college even if a higher pay day wasn’t the light at the end of the tunnel.

Putting It All Together

This study, although focused on how Americans pay for college, went far beyond that. In the study, they went over not only how things were paid but who looked at the college investment in what ways. Without rewriting the entire study for you, I couldn’t give you all the juicy information they’ve uncovered. So, don’t hesitate, go on and take a look for yourself!

 

HowAmericaPaysCollege

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Josh Rodriguez. He is a finance professional currently writing at www.Settlements.org. Check them out if you are considering selling structured settlement payments or annuities.

Posted in Paying For College3 Comments

4 Impending Job Shortages to Take Advantage of

4 Impending Job Shortages to Take Advantage of

While the job market continues to rebound, there are still some fields that are slow to recover. However, there are actually areas where employers are struggling to find qualified workers. It’s not just one industry either, there are areas in several different industries that are experiencing a lack of qualified workers. The following fields have a need for well educated, skilled workers:

Civil Engineer

Engineer

Civil engineers play a direct role in constructing our towns and cities. They are responsible for designing large construction projects such as airports, roads, bridges, tunnels, and water supply systems. Since they are responsible for such large projects, they usually earn about $79,340 a year. While civil engineers mostly spend their day in an office, they can also spend time on construction sites to make sure the project is running smoothly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) believes that over the next 10 years, employment for civil engineers will grow about 20 percent.

Electrician

P1000688

Electricians will always be needed to install and keep up electrical power in homes and businesses. That’s why the job outlook in this field is expected to increase 20 percent over the next 10 years. Most electricians learn the job through an apprenticeship where they master knowledge such as electrical code requirements, wiring, and blueprint reading. Most states require electricians to hold a license. Since all homes and businesses involve electrical wiring, electricians can work indoors or outdoors in both commercial and residential settings. The average annual salary for an electrician is $49,840.

Accountant

Accountant

With a 13 percent increase in the job outlook over the next 10 years, anyone who is good with numbers should look into accounting. Accountants prepare financial records and make sure that businesses and people pay their taxes correctly and on time. They can work either full-time or part-time. Accountants will usually need a bachelor’s degree, although some positions may call for a master’s degree. They can expect to earn around $63,550 a year.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse

For those interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, the field is wide open. The BLS reports that in the next 10 years, there will be a 31 percent increase in this occupation. They consider this increase faster than normal. Nurse practitioners work directly with patients to perform physical exams, prescribe medicine, and set up plans for patient care. They can work alone or with other nurses and physicians. They must earn at least a master’s degree, and must also be licensed in their state. The median annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $96,460.

With millions of people still looking for work, it seems unusual to hear about job shortages. However, these fields show that skilled workers are still in high demand. For those struggling to find work, or those who will be graduating from school and are unsure of what to do next, focusing on one of these fields that has a high demand for workers means a faster transition into the workforce.

Posted in Paying For College1 Comment

Small Business Scholarships and Financing an Entrepreneurial Education

Small Business Scholarships and Financing an Entrepreneurial Education

small-business-scholarshipsAmerica runs on small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit, in fact according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 64 percent of the private sector jobs.  Small businesses also represent one of the fastest growing employment opportunities for future graduates.  However, large portions of future and present college students have visions of massive corporations, suits and skyscrapers as being their post graduation home.  Let’s forego the old way of thinking and help those students looking to finance an entrepreneurial education keeping the small business dream alive.

Paying For an Entrepreneurial Education

Yes, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg may not have followed the traditional college education track and still wound up being highly successful.  It’s possible, though slim, that you would be able to have similar success, though for the sake of this article, let’s assume your small business hopes require the foundation of a strong college education.  That foundation requires a good college savings plan that may include grants, scholarships, 529s, financial aid among other numerous options.

“College was critical to my success as a small business owner,” explains Terpos Ageladelis, the owner of Air Fun Games, a company providing water slide rentals in Tampa, FL.  “Keeping my business operating efficiently requires top notch customer service skills coupled with the ability to manage anything that may come up.”  “I was lucky enough to have strong support to help me pay for school, but I worry about my family being able to afford school with today’s rising costs.”

Being resourceful and doing your homework in advance can save thousands on tuition costs.  Programs such as the SuretyBonds.com scholarship offer $1,500 to those with ties to small business.  Three lucky winners receive this scholarship each year.

Jesse Buchman of Prestige Entertainment was one of the lucky winners of the Suretybonds.com scholarship. “I began to understand that an entrepreneurial spirit is not binary and does not involve a simple on/off switch.  Instead, entrepreneurship is a defining characteristic that guides and defines you,” Jesse explained, proving the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.  He went on and stated, “I now have very specific career goals that I hope will lead to a fulfilling life through which I can make a positive impact on the lives of others. My business allowed me to find my passion.”

Check For Scholarships & Grants in Specific Sectors

Numerous small businesses cater to a niche or focused customer base. The medical sector for example, which is made up of doctor’s offices, dentists, pharmacies and nursing homes are often run by small business owners, each with their own story of success.

“Set your sights high and don’t settle for second place,” Dr. Greenberg, a Saginaw family dentist, advises.  “Look for grants and similar programs that can help you reach your dream of owning you own business.  I am personally thankful that I have been able to go to work happy each day and do something I truly enjoy.”

Dr. Greenberg’s advice is sound, as many grants and scholarships go unfilled because potential students weren’t savvy enough to find them.  For example, the American Dental Association (ADA) foundation offers grants and scholarships for higher education to those in the dental industry.  They offer around 54 scholarships with up to $135,000 total funding; something future dentists should really look into.

For a more generalized approach there is the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE).  They have awarded more than $55,000 in Succeed Scholarships since 2011. The NASE Foundation Future Entrepreneur Scholarship is designed to help promote youth entrepreneurship.  They award up to a $10,000 scholarship for future entrepreneurs.

Keep your spirit alive and chase your dreams by creating your own small business, just do so with the right tools.  A robust higher education will pay you back in dividends, helping you succeed where others may have once failed.  However, you can go to school in the most economical way possible by focusing on grants, scholarships and similar for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Matthew Speer.  He is the owner of iFame Media, a marketing firm offering expert SEO services to those looking for sustainable marketing practices.

Posted in Scholarships1 Comment

The Millennial Backlash – Challenges of a New Generation

The Millennial Backlash – Challenges of a New Generation

millenials_backlashThe Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, typically refers to those who were born between the years of 1980 and the early 2000s. Following Generation X—a generation that’s considered highly educated, productive, and job and family-oriented—millennials are often compared to their parents as being spoiled, lazy, and entitled.

However, the negative connotations that are often associated with the Millennial Generation might not be justly deserved. Entering one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression, facing stiff competition from peers and older generations, and suffocating under mountains of student debt, the financial struggles of the millennials are greater than ever before.

The Worst Job Market in Three Generations

Those of Generation X joined the job market at one of the most prosperous times in US history—right after the end of the second World War—when the economy was booming and the housing market, wages, and stocks were all growing.

On the other hand, those of Generation Y are entering the job market during the largest recession since the great depression, where unemployment numbers have soared, stocks have dropped, and the housing market has nearly collapsed.

According to an article published in Forbes in 2013, despite the increased number in those of employment age from 2008-2013—nearly twelve million—there are three million fewer Americans working. Happily, as of March 2014, the unemployment rate is slowly decreasing, and is currently at 6.7%, down from 8.3% in July of 2012.

Stiff Competition

Not only did millennials enter the job market during one of the greatest recessions in US history, but the added influx of employment-aged individuals has created growing competition over jobs and internships alike. No longer are the good old days upon us; days when working hard, knowing your trade, or having a bachelor’s degree secured you a decent entry-level position, where a person could then work their way up the ladder. Rather, many entry-level positions are now requiring a master’s degree and experience to even get an interview, and nearly all professional management positions require an advanced degree.

With the new requirements for getting hired, millennials who are fresh out of college are faced with competition from peers with more advanced degrees or older generations who offer more experience. Simply put, millennials are struggling to get a job, even when actively searching.

Growing Amounts of Student Debt

In the past nine years, the average amount of student debt has grown from $10,649 to $20,326, according to an article published in the Guardian. While pursuing a college education is the most important thing an individual can do to improve future success, getting a degree of any sort usually means racking up thousands of dollars in student loans. The large amount of student debt—one trillion dollars collectively—is crippling the economy, students, and parents alike.

Advice for Success

With all the factors that are hindering millennials’ ability to succeed, entering the job market can appear daunting and impossible. However, by embracing these critical tips for prosperity, those of Generation Y can become more profitable than ever:

Use Federal Loans and Scholarships for College: If you’re about to go to college and are wondering how you’re going to afford it, know that federal loans are a much safer bet than private loans. Private loans typically have higher interest rates, whereas federal loans have fixed interest rates, and are paid back based on current income. If you have to borrow money at all for school, seek out a federal loan. Better yet—seek out scholarships. Scholarship money does not have to be repaid, and contrary to popular belief, there are scholarships available for a wide variety of talents and backgrounds.

Save Money: Saving money might seem impossible, especially if you’re currently struggling to find a job. However, every dollar adds up, and you’ll be grateful that you made the effort. Cut out any unnecessary expenditures, such as your morning coffee run (you can make coffee at home). At the end of the month, after you’ve paid all your bills and bought all your groceries, put any leftover money directly into a savings account.

Connect More: Obtaining a job isn’t just about your education level or the years or experience you bring to the table; it’s also about who you know, so building connections is vital. Attend job fairs, request information interviews, ask friends and family members if they know who’s hiring, create a LinkedIn profile, or volunteer.

While those of the Millennial Generation may face more challenges that those of previous generations, there’s no doubt that they’re likely to succeed in time. In fact, some argue that the Millennial Generation may just be the greatest generation ever. Says TIME writer, Joel Stein, “millennials are just adapting quickly to a world undergoing rapid technological change… they’re optimistic, they’re confident, and they’re pragmatic at a time when it can be difficult just to get by.”

This article was contributed on behalf of Excalibur Exhibits, your number one choice when looking to truly make an impact at conferences and conventions for your business to really take off and make a name for yourself. Check out their website today and see how they can help you get a custom-built trade show exhibit.

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Eeks! Poor Choices With Student Loan Funds Can Damage Your Wallet

Eeks! Poor Choices With Student Loan Funds Can Damage Your Wallet

Broke GuyApproximately 60 percent (12 million) of the nearly 20 million students attending a four-year college or university in the United States on an annual basis take out student loans to cover their costs. 37 million borrowers who currently are, or were, students have an outstanding loan balance, with federal and private student loan debt looming at or more than one trillion dollars. The amount of loan balance outstanding per capita is a little more than $24,000, with 1% owing $200,000 or more; 3% owing between $100,000 and $200,000; 10% owing between $54,000 and $100,000; and, 25% of borrowers owing $28,000 to $54,000.

Student loan dollars are typically sent to the financial aid department of a college or university and used to offset the cost of tuition, fees, room and board and other associated costs. If the amount borrowed exceeds the amount needed to meet your expenses as a student, the remainder balance will be given in the form of a check. This may take place either at the beginning of the year in a lump sum payment or at the beginning of each semester, as funds are disbursed to the institution.

The Student Loan Conundrum

The problem with the way student loans are disbursed to you as a student is that it creates a false sense of wealth. Imagine an 18 to 19 year old student who has never seen a check for $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 dollars. It becomes tempting to use these funds to invest in a new wardrobe, killer shoes or a brand new entertainment system for their dorm room. The unfortunate downside to this type of use of excess student loan money is the negative effect it will have on your future financial habits and your ability to qualify for other types of loans, such as home and auto. What is the true cost of those $99 shoes and did it lead you to become a member of “Generation Debt?”

Typical Student Loan Expenditures

With their newfound wealth, where is the money from student loans going if it isn’t being used to pay for school or being invested for the future? For some borrowers, excess student loan money is being used to fund a lavish lifestyle and the excess of youth, without regard to the future and what may come. Cars, parties, vacations, starting a business are some of the more typical expenditures made by students with their excess funds. Such spending is well within the rules as there is no current monitoring performed by the U.S. Department of Education or a school’s financial aid or bursar’s office once these funds have been distributed to the student.

The Cost of Student Loans

Resisting the temptation to use your student loan money in a frivolous way can result in major savings in the long run. Here is a simple illustration of how saving a portion of your excess student loan funds can save you on interest alone:

You borrow a total of $50,000 toward your education costs to fund a 4-year bachelor’s degree (which took 5 years to obtain) at $10,000 per year. You only needed $5,000 toward your education costs, yielding a windfall of $5,000 each year you worked on that degree. You begin to repay the loan at the end of the fifth year under a standard loan repayment schedule of 10 years. You will pay back the $50,000 borrowed, plus an additional $16,600 plus in interest (at a hypothetical 6% loan interest rate). In addition to this, add a 6% interest to all purchases made with your loan money (or, an additional $60 in interest for every $1,000 worth of purchases).

Now, pretend that you set aside half of your newfound money ($2,500) each year in an interest bearing account (at 6.5% compounded monthly) over the five years before you start paying back the loan amount. Instead of an interest payment of $16,600, you have a lump sum amount of $15,247 to apply toward your loan balance, lowering the balance to $34,000 and some change and a total interest of $11,547. You trimmed your interest costs by nearly one-third by setting aside merely one-half of your excess distributed funds. It goes without saying, but using money earned from a part-time job on extra purchases (rather than loan money) will eliminate the need to pay of interest on those expenditures.

Making Wise Choices with Student Loan Funds

Making better choices about student loan funds and how to use them will make life easier for you and improve your financial future. There are great tools that can help you determine how much interest you will pay, the amount of loan payments you will make and counseling programs that can help you avoid the pitfalls of generations before you. Consider this: those with the most student loan debt currently are those who can least afford that debt. Information from the Pew Research Center and Federal Reserve that 58 percent of student loan debt outstanding is held by households with a net worth that is less than $8,500.

Understand that learning about money and the cost of money are important life lessons to learn as early as possible. Regardless of whether you are a person who comes from financial means or who has never been exposed to large sums of wealth, poor finance decisions may provide an immediate benefit but become a lifelong detriment. Instead, take the time to educate yourself about your loans and the consequences of your spending—it’s a move that your future self will surely appreciate.

This article was contributed on behalf of Smart PrePaid Electric, your number one choice when looking to cut down on your home or apartment bills. Check out their website today and see how they can help you save more!

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