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Archive | October, 2014

Technology Money-Saving Tips for Students

Technology Money-Saving Tips for Students

dollar-cuttingYou’re in college and it’s a great position to be in – the world respects you as an adult, but cuts you some slack when it comes to things adults are responsible for, because hey, you’re still learning right? One of the biggest changes you’re probably experiencing in your young, wild and free years is having to manage the money you spend on technology necessities in your home away from home such as cable, wireless, electricity bills, etc. Here are some technology money-saving tips for students new to the game we call life.

Get a Roku

Since you can basically almost watch anything using the almighty internet, forego the cable and invest in a Roku player. A Roku is capable of housing all your guilty-pleasure viewing platforms like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and HBO without having to connect to a computer. You end up saving money watching shows you actually choose to subscribe to as opposed to paying for expensive cable that you may only use five channels of.

Save Electricity

When you live with roommates, it can be hard to adjust to their living habits. Some may not turn off the lights to save energy, and it’s tough to tell someone you barely know how to live. Purchasing something like a Belkin Energy Saving Power Strip could do the trick without the imposition. With all the accessories that accompany a college student’s entertainment center – X-box, DVD, TV, Sound System, that’s a lot of energy-sucking devices plugged in. The strip automatically shuts off power for accompanying electronics once you switch off the TV, thus energy is conserved, lowering your electricity bill.

Socialize for Less  

College is a time dedicated to exploration, therefore making commitments are extra challenging – the same goes for contracts through wireless service providers. T-Mobile is defying the more pricey norm of restrictive data plans, becoming known as an “uncarrier” by offering the best monthly rates compared to other large wireless providers, no-contract phone plans, and free 4G LTE data so you can use as much Instagram and Spotify you want, wherever and whenever. Additionally, if you fly home from school for breaks, take note that T-Mobile is the only wireless company whose customers can text and send pictures, during flight. This is economically the best choice of wireless network (un)carrier financially and socially, both uber important for a student’s well-being.

Refurbished is the New “New”

Technological devices like laptops, tablets and phones are advancing at such a rapid pace these days, it’s almost impossible to consistently have the latest and greatest at an affordable price. And when you’re on a Ramen noodle diet, strapped for cash, it’s especially difficult to even afford “new” anything. Buying refurbished electronics is a smart alternative that helps you save money while still getting a quality product. As long as you do your research (reading reviews on sellers and such), purchase a refurbished device from a reliable retailer and it’ll feel like brand new. You probably won’t even have it for long before the next hot thing comes out making it really the best way to ball on a budget. Your peers won’t even know the difference – they’ll just think you have the newest generation iPhone out there.

You may have taken for granted having easy access to endless “free” web surfing that the ‘rents took care of, but now, you get it. By implementing a few of these tech money-saving methods, you’ll be one step ahead of the game in this exciting new chapter of the real world.

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4 Ways to Save When Driving Home for the Holidays

4 Ways to Save When Driving Home for the Holidays

winterroadcarDriving back home during the holiday months is something every out-of-state student has to deal with at one point or another. In fact, the United States Department of Transportation reports 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is done by car. Of course, road trips aren’t exactly cheap and when you’re a struggling student it may seem nearly impossible to visit your folks during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Fortunately, there are several ways to cut costs when driving long distances so you can make it home for the holidays.

Improve Your Gas Mileage

One of the main expenses during a road trip is, without a doubt, gasoline. Get the most bang for your buck by using a gas price app like GasBuddy. This free app helps you find the cheapest gas in your area and locate gas stations nearby. Other ways to save money on gas include using a GPS to avoid getting lost, driving on freeways versus surface streets whenever possible and carpooling with a friend that lives in your home state to divide expenses. Lastly, obey the speed limit. Not only is driving the speed limit a good idea for your own personal safety, it can also improve gas mileage by about 10 percent, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.

Check Your Tires

Another great way to save money during a road trip is by regularly maintaining your vehicle’s tires. The last thing you want is to be stranded out on the road in the middle of nowhere waiting for an expensive tow truck to get you out of that sticky situation. Make sure your car has high-quality all-season tires that are suited for all kinds of travel conditions, including light snow. Along with checking your tires, you should also replace your car’s fluids and schedule a tuneup, suggests U.S. News.

Pack Light

The heavier the load, the slower you’ll go. Think light when packing for your road trip. Just because you don’t have to worry about airline baggage fees doesn’t mean you should pack everything and the kitchen sink. Keep packing reasonable by using a carry-on instead of a suitcase for all your stuff, pack clothing items and accessories that can be combined in more ways that one and, finally, remove half of the things you think you need, recommends Travel Fashion Girl. You’ll end up with only the essentials and a light load. A lighter load means better gas mileage, which is your main goal during a holiday road trip.

Plan Your Meals

As you probably already know, eating out can quickly add up. Avoid overspending on food by packing your own meals, drinks and snacks in a cooler. Cooking Light created a list with some of the best road trip foods, including cereal cups, energy bars (duh!), string cheese sticks and baby carrots. However, we’re not advocating being a cheapskate here. Eating at a roadside restaurant is all part of the experience. You can find the best food deals with Roadtrippers, a smartphone app that plans your roadtrip and shows you all of the dining options on your route (along with other cool spots). That way, you can easily find a restaurant that is within your budget.

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5 Master’s Degrees That May Be Worth Your Money

5 Master’s Degrees That May Be Worth Your Money

Everyone wants a competitive advantage in their chosen field, but is more education always the way to gain the upper hand? If you’re considering spending some extra time and money on advanced training, you want to be sure that it will pay off. Here are five master’s degrees that are sure to increase your advancement opportunities and potential earnings.

Business Administration

picturebusinessA Master’s in Business Administration is a must-have if you’re looking to distinguish yourself from your peers in the business world. Additionally, if you aspire to work as an executive, VP, or CEO, an MBA is often required. Fortunately, many MBAs require just a one-year commitment and online MBAs are becoming more popular.

While not all MBA graduates will be the next Donald Trump, most graduates do earn about 25% more than their BCom counterparts. Along with networking, non-monetary benefits of the MBA curriculum include gaining people management skills and influential presentation abilities.

Education

pictureeducationA Master’s in Education is often overlooked because few graduates earn a six-figure salary. However, completing a Master’s in Educational Leadership offers great bang for your buck. This degree is often offered online, allowing graduates to teach while they complete the program, and accelerated master’s programs can be completed in as little as one year.

Many employees working in educational leadership and administration positions earn nearly double the standard teacher salary. Additionally, if you’re passionate about improving the education system, administrative roles offer the power to truly effect change and improve the lives of students and teachers.

Engineering

pictureengineerWhile engineering is already a solid career, engineers with master’s degrees have better employment opportunities and often command a six-figure salary. Master’s degrees in this field allow for specializations in entrepreneurship, globalization, energy studies, healthcare, and cities engineering. The biggest salaries, however, go to engineers with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. Master’s programs offer flexible schedules and can be completed in one to three years, depending on how much time you have to commit to your studies.

Physician Assistant

picturephysicianInterested in medicine but not interested in spending another four years in school? Consider taking a master’s degree to become a physician assistant. Supervised by a physician, assistants play a significant role in healthcare and duties include examining patients, providing treatment, and diagnosing injuries and illnesses. Not only is this a rewarding career, but the pay is great: around $97,000 mid-career.

Math and Economics

picturemathThe world needs more math geeks. Today’s companies have huge amounts of data to contend with and they are in desperate need of analysts who can process data and tell executives what it means. Economists and mathematicians with a master’s degree earn an average salary of $110,000.

While it’s difficult to condemn anyone for seeking more education, thrifty students should choose a master’s wisely before applying to graduate school. After all, debt collectors won’t care what master’s degree you have when it’s time for those pesky college loans to be paid back.

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Holiday Shopping Survival Guide: Student Edition

Holiday Shopping Survival Guide: Student Edition

holidaygiftsIt’s not news that students’ budgets are tight, and the holidays can be particularly straining on their wallets. You want to enjoy the holidays and give great gifts to your family and friends, but it would be nice to not have to live on ramen noodles and tap water until March. Before you sell a kidney for extra cash, check out these ideas to save on shopping this season.

Plan Early

It may seem a little soon to talk about holiday shopping, but planning early is easier financially and less stressful than shopping for everything all at once late December. It can also help you avoid the scramble to find gifts for those hard-to-shop-for people who usually end up with a gift card in their stocking. A few months before the holiday season, start thinking about the people on your list and what they like or something they mention. Make a list and keep an eye out for deals.

As ChannelAdvisor reports that 42 percent of online retailers begin holiday marketing in September, some even start in August. If you do your shopping little by little, you won’t be taking out a large chunk of your budget all at once. You will also be able to watch for deals and compare better prices because you won’t be rushed.

Wait For The Sales

Part of planning early is knowing when to wait for holiday sales and price drops. Holiday sales events like Black Friday are a great time to get discounts on more expensive items like computers, cameras, phones, video games and even clothes and home items.

If the thought of Black Friday crowds terrify you, luckily the Internet has a crowd-free answer to Black Friday: Cyber Monday. This online shopping day has many of the same, if not more, sales as Black Friday and you don’t have to get out of bed to get the discounts. Many major retailers like Walmart participate in Cyber Monday deals so you can buy the same products you would in stores.

To map out your online shopping strategy, use sites like DealNews or The Krazy Coupon Lady to find out what the best deals will be so you can save the most cash.

Homemade Gifts

Not everyone is artistic or craftsy and not all DIY projects make good gifts, but there are some projects you can do that anyone would be happy to receive.

Make something simple, but also make sure it’s something people on your gift list actually want. Easy and simple gifts are personal, budget friendly and sure to be appreciated even if you don’t have time for a lengthy DIY project. BuzzFeed offers some great ideas from homemade soy candles, blankets and bookends to coffee mugs—items that everyone could use.

Give an Experience

Material gifts are not always the best option, especially for that relative or friend that has everything. U.S. News cites research that found experiences make people happier than possessions. So instead of buying another unoriginal gift for those on your list, think of activities they’ve always wanted to do or even something you could do together.

Museum memberships, tickets to a show, cooking classes or a spa certificate are good choices. Just make sure you know the person well and what they like so you don’t obligate them to sit through the opera or go to a bug museum if that’s not their thing.

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4 Affordable Cars for College Students

4 Affordable Cars for College Students

carkeysYou are so close to receiving your diploma. All of your long, hard work in college will have finally paid off, and it will be time to carve out your path in the world. But first, you’ll need some wheels to take that path. As a college student, though, affordability is a factor, especially considering your last tuition bills, books and the looming student loan debts. And dependability is a necessity for making it to class, finals and hopefully job interviews. For the budgeting college student, deciding on a car can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Choose the vehicle that best reflects who you are and that best meets your reliability, affordability and style criteria. Here are just a few choices to think about:

Honda Civic

For a traditional student with practical tastes, the compact Civic is an obvious choice. Both new and used models are heralded for style and performance. Plus, since 2006, the Civic has earned good ratings in every safety category, reports MSN Autos.

The 2011 four-door Civics are spacious and reliable, and were manufactured before the Honda redesign, which proved disappointing to Civic enthusiasts, claims Forbes. These cars are equipped with independent front strut suspension, independent rear multi-link suspension and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) control, for optimal safety, according to Motor Trend. Be sure to do your homework through a trusted site like Kelley Blue Book before you buy, though, to guarantee you pay a fair price.

Ford Fiesta

Both current models as well as the 2010–2011 models of the Fiesta are fuel-efficient without sacrificing power, so this model is an ideal fit for the student that wants practicality with some speed. Under the hood, the Fiesta features a 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower engine and yields about 40 mpg on the highway, states MSN Autos. Plus, the Fiesta is available as a sedan or four-door hatch, depending on your personal style and preference. On the inside, new models boast plenty of leg and headroom, and the interior is plush and comfy, says U.S. News Best Cars.

Kia Soul

For the spunky, funky student, the off-beat Kia Soul is unique and reasonably priced. The Soul offers a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, so it’s great for sporting around town. You even can upgrade to a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine if you want to brave the open road, where the Soul gets around 31 mpg. It also earned a 9.3 on the U.S. News & World Report’s safety rating. And if you are looking for something newer, Auto Week states that the 2014 Soul is less top-heavy and more solid on the road. Therefore, this is the car for the self-assured, safety-conscientious, free-thinking driver with an eye for the aesthetic.

Nissan Cube

Also on the road less traveled, the Nissan Cube stands out as the perfect car for the progressive, hip student or the industrious, abstract design major. With a unique front grille, ripple-like interior and an asymmetrical rear window design, the Cube rocks out to the beat of its own drum. The 1.8-liter engine generates 122 horsepower and performs at 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, reports MSN Autos. In addition, it is noted for its responsiveness and prime handling. And most importantly, the Cube makes a statement and a lasting impression.

Earning your degree is just the first step to making your way in the world. You’ll have many choices to make leading up to and after graduation, but your car should be an easy checklist. Whether you want safety, affordability, performance or personality in your car, all you need to do is a little research and choose the car that makes the most sense for you.

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