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A Student’s Guide to Adulting: 4 Tips to Save Cash During Your Move

A Student’s Guide to Adulting: 4 Tips to Save Cash During Your Move

Whether you are a recent college grad starting out on your own or a student transferring to a larger school, moving to a big city can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to cope with the stress of leaving all that is familiar behind, but you also have to deal with the arduous and expensive task of moving to an ultra-urban area. Don’t let your first time living in a bustling metropolis break your spirit and your bank. You are on your way to bigger and better things, and with a few tips and a little planning, you will reach your new home with high spirits and a few bucks left in the bank. Here are four tips that can help you save money while moving:

Lighten Your Load

Sell anything you can do without. As you pack, set aside non-essentials that you may have accumulated over the years. Anything you have not used in the past year is eligible for the chopping block. This goes for clothing, books, CDs, smaller belongings and under-utilized furniture. Furniture will be the most difficult and expensive items to move, so if you can ditch the second-hand sofa that’s been serving as a hamper for the past year, do it.

Post items on Craigslist or host a yard sale to help you downsize and earn enough money to purchase a new futon when you arrive in your new city. The less you have to drag along with you, the easier your move will be.

Haul It, Don’t Store It

Storage facility costs add up quickly, so if there is any way to avoid renting a place just for your stuff, go that route. Rental truck companies charge based on the size of the truck, so if you have sufficiently downsized, you’ll already be saving money. Many rental places also offer deals during the slow season in winter months, so timing your move appropriately could also save you some cash.

Do It Yourself

Hiring a moving company to come in and do all the heavy lifting for you is a fantastic luxury, but also likely one you cannot afford. It’s difficult work and it shows in the price. Consider what is manageable on your own, and enlist the assistance of friends for the rest. This is the perfect time to call in some favors, or offer to bribe them with food and drinks. If you combine your moving day with your bon voyage party, you could say your goodbyes while soliciting help with the loading. If you are moving to a nearby city, load up your friends’ cars and have a tailgate party from your old pad to your new one.

Get Help Online

Moving to a big city might mean you won’t be able to do a walk-through of an apartment on your own, but there are online search tools that can help you when you’re looking for apartments in mega-cities like NYC. Particularly in areas like this, square-footage is worth its weight in gold, so give yourself time to research and find the apartment that’s right for you.

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Creating a College Budget: How to Save and Cut Costs

Creating a College Budget: How to Save and Cut Costs

collegebudgetpigNo money and no time to make money may be the hardest college equation you’re asked to solve in the next four years. How are you supposed to pay for tuition, living expenses, entertainment, travel and more when you’re in class, studying for exams, or trying to find and complete an internship? It’s hard, but it can be done.

Indeed, the best way for college students to make money is to save the money they have already earned — whether from part-time jobs or student loans — by practicing smart spending habits and using student discounts. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Choose a Money Management Tool

Whether it’s pen and paper, a simple spreadsheet or an app, you must come up with a way to track your spending. Mint, a free app, helps you create a customized budget, track your spending, pay your bills, and even learn about how to improve your credit score. When creating your budget, set goals for your spending, but be realistic. If you’re a foodie, don’t cut eating out completely — just limit yourself to a certain dollar amount each month. The same goes for gamers, sports enthusiasts, shopaholics and adventurers. To save money and stick to your budget, you don’t have to live a boring life — you just have to plan ahead.

Save and Splurge

When money management is on the mind, every activity, cup of coffee and weekend get together all of a sudden looks like dollar signs to you. These things, as well as fixed costs and unexpected expenses, are part of life. Figure out a balance of when to save and when to splurge — and recognize when doing either will benefit or break your budget in the future.

When it comes to insurance, for example, you don’t want to skimp now and then find yourself paying big bills later. The same goes for car maintenance. If you can avoid choosing cheap repair options now, they won’t keep popping up in the future. So, the next time your car gets a blowout, see it as an opportunity to invest in high-quality tires, which will save you money in the long run.

Discounts: Use, Don’t Abuse

Whether they advertise it or not, tons of businesses offer student discounts if you just ask. From technology and travel to entertainment, food and clothing, simply flashing your college ID can save you anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent at many retail stores. For example:

  • If you join or renew as a Sam’s Savings member, you’ll receive a $15 gift card with your student ID. In addition to groceries, varying Sam’s Club locations also offer members-only discounts on tire service, an optical center, pharmacy and more.
  • Students can earn discounts on Adobe Creative Cloud by choosing between the All Apps plan (giving you access to the latest versions of every Adobe creative tool) or Photography plan (which includes Photoshop and Lightroom).
  • The Student Advantage Discount Card from Greyhound will save you 20 percent on walk-up fares and online tickets. It also saves you 40 percent on package shipments sent through the company’s Package Express offering.

While these are all awesome discounts, remember, there’s a reason businesses offer student discounts: It’s because students usually don’t have a lot of money to spend. Don’t let yourself jump on the “But it’s such a good deal!” train. The key to saving money with coupons or student discounts is to only use them on products and services you already planned to buy.

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Use the 5 Love Languages to Date in College on the Cheap

Use the 5 Love Languages to Date in College on the Cheap

Young Couple at College

You don’t have to drop $100 on dinner to woo your college crush. Some women prefer quality time with their beau over pricey gifts. In Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Languages of Love,” he explains how to foster a healthy relationship by recognizing what exactly makes your significant other swoon. While one person might appreciate a love letter, another might prefer a night alone together cuddling under the stars.

If you can tap into your partner’s love language — words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch and receiving gifts — you can better plan a date that takes not only her needs into account but your budget as well. Here are some tips to dating in college without breaking the bank based on the five love languages.

Words

Words of affirmation is sometimes the hardest love language of all. You may not have reached the “I love you” phase, but everyday compliments can be just as powerful. The most financially sound gesture of all, verbal terms of endearment provide a feeling of warmth to the recipient.

Date ideas:

  • Create a mixed playlist with specially chosen songs for her. Pack a picnic, go to the park and listen to the “mixed tape” together.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt with little sticky notes about what you like about your date at each location.

Time

Make your date feel like the only man in the world by giving him uninterrupted quality time. Put your phone away and offer your undivided attention. If this is your beau’s love language, he prefers experiences over tangibles.

Date ideas:

  • Take in one of your college team’s sporting events together and give it your full attention. Cheer, eat a hot dog and laugh together. No texting!
  • Have a board game night.
  • Take a road trip together (this might be the ideal time to pop in that playlist you created).

Service

While the phrase “acts of service” may seem a little archaic, it really is just about being kind. What can you do to make her life easier?

Date ideas:

  • Cook her dinner. This includes going to the grocery store, setting the table and cleaning the dishes afterward.
  • Wash her car together. It may not initially seem like a fun date idea, but water, sponges, soap and your little lady could turn into the best water fight you’ve ever had.

Touch

Even if you’re not a touchy-feely kind of person, if your mate’s love language is physical touch then you have to find a way to show them affection. Whether you snuggle during a movie or take her hand while strolling through a farmer’s market, physical touch is free and can make a world of difference.

Date Ideas:

  • Dance together. You can hit the club to get funky or dim the lights and pop in some Frank Sinatra at home for romance.
  • Trade massages. Enough said.
  • Tour your city’s downtown hand-in-hand.

Gifts

Even though you are trying to save money, it might be necessary to show your affection with gifts. They don’t have to be fancy, expensive gifts; it’s the gesture alone that counts. Be thoughtful in your efforts and give gifts that align with your partner’s interests.

Date ideas:

  • Go to the farmer’s market and buy her that organic honey she’s been raving about.
  • Gift her a date night like a cooking class or a paint and wine night.

No matter what you are doing together that night, begin her day with a special flower delivery to let her know you are excited and thinking of her. A reasonably priced floral arrangement catered to her flower preference is always a safe bet.

Save money when dating in college by using your partner’s love language for a guaranteed good time.

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Why Building Credit in College is Crucial

Why Building Credit in College is Crucial

poorcreditscoreIf you are planning to head off to college, then last thing on your mind right now is your credit score. While you may have tucked your thoughts about credit into the back of your mind, it is time that you bring those thoughts back into focus because it is important to build your credit while you are away at college.

You may be thinking right now that you can’t possibly understand why you should build your credit now, as you will have years to do it after graduation. Thinking like this can actually set you up for failure in the future. Below, we will go over some of the reason why you need to build your credit now.

It Will Teach You to Budget

One reason you should work on building your credit in college is because it will also teach you to budget. When you have a credit card, you will quickly learn that you cannot spend money simply because you are allowed to. In fact, if you do this, you will actually damage your credit score if you cannot pay the money back.

Some students enjoy having a secured credit card in their possession because it does allow them to build their credit without the worry of going negative or falling into debt from using the card.

If you want to build your credit, you should start out with one card and then add a second one later on. To limit your spending even further, choose a credit card that is store specific, that way, you won’t be tempted to use it elsewhere.

You Can Apply for a Mortgage or Auto Loan

While you are probably not thinking about buying a home or vehicle right now, you will want to at some point and having a solid credit score will help you. As you work your way through college, you should be building your credit now to secure your future.

If you ruin your credit score, it is hard to get it back and will take a lot of work to do so. In fact, many people who ruin their credit score too much will find that they are unable to receive approval for anything they apply for. Having items such as a charge off on your credit report can bring your credit score down considerably.

Therefore, if you work hard to build your credit now, it will pay you back in the end when you are ready to purchase your dream home or car.

You Can Apply for Student Loan Refinancing When the Time Comes

Later on down the road you may find that you want to apply for student loan refinancing and to do so, you need to have good credit. In fact, a financial lender will not approve your application if you have a poor credit score and a bad credit history.

Student loan refinancing is beneficial when you want a lower interest rate or lower monthly payment. If you find that you are having trouble affording your student loan payments, refinancing is an option in most cases.

How to Build Your Credit

Now that we have talked about WHY you should build your credit, you are probably wondering HOW to do it. Let’s go over some ways.

Use That Card

Above we talked about how you should use a credit card to budget for yourself. This is a great idea, but you should never just have an open account and not use it at all. To help you build your credit, take something that you do on a monthly basis and use your credit card to purchase it, then pay it off. Since you are already used to paying for this item or activity, you can use your card and then pay it off immediately without dipping into your savings account or into additional money.

Pay on Time

Always pay your bills on time. Never let one of your bills go late and if it happens to for one reason or another, pay it immediately. When you do not pay your bills, you ruin your credit score and it takes longer to build up your credit than it does to destroy it.

If you are getting ready to head off to college, it is important that you focus on building up your credit to prepare yourself for the future.

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5 Ways To Make Extra Money In College

5 Ways To Make Extra Money In College

dogwalkerCollege costs were lower, once upon a time, and so working part time in the summer plus a small loan or two would get you through to graduation day. Now with college costs soaring and jobs scarcer, getting a diploma without getting into massive amounts of debt takes a whole lot of hustling.

Even if you’re getting a full ride thanks to scholarships or generous parents, it pays to make a little extra cash. Not only does it give you some walking around money for the weekends, but a side hustle also gives you a taste of what it’ll be like to bring home the bacon after graduation.

In the best case scenario, you find a way to turn a hobby or passion into a part-time profession that still gives you plenty of time to hit the books. But if that’s impossible, there are still plenty of ways to bring in extra money without sacrificing study time. Here are just some examples:

Put your writing and editing skills to use. Content marketing is big these days and there is plenty of work for freelance writers who can work fast. Fiverr and Craigslist can help you get started, though you may be able to drum up business on campus by helping people polish papers, too. This is flexible work that can be done anywhere, anytime – especially during semesters where you’re not doing a ton of writing for class.

Be a part time virtual assistant. A phone is all you need to make between $3 and $7 for quick tasks like calling to make appointments, doing light research, or finding the best prices on services and products. Sites like Fancy Hands are almost always looking for organized, friendly people to sign on as assistants, and it’s easy work that doesn’t require an hourly commitment.

Buy and sell online or IRL. If you have space to store goods, reselling on eBay or Amazon is an easy way to pick up some cash. This is a good option for students who have the patience and time to go grab free or low priced items locally to ship out nationwide or anyone who has the skills to refurbish old furniture or electronics. Another option specifically for those born with the persuasion gene is starting up a legit business with Amway or Mary Kay.

Do the boring things no one else wants to do. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a micro-task site that pays minute amounts for tasks that take seconds but the work tends to be uninteresting. Click Worker will hook you up with data entry and SEO work, and sites like UserTesting pay you to evaluate their clients’ websites. All three are good options for students stuck in work study jobs that involve a lot of sitting around.

Move stuff. Websites like Movers Corp let you sign up to be the muscle when businesses and individuals need a strong pair of biceps. The company provides the truck and the supplies; students (who set their own rates and availability) provide the manpower. It’s a solid option for anyone who has free time and a strong back.

Remember that having a side hustle during your university years won’t always be easy or fun, but the feeling of knowing you’re not going any deeper into debt is absolutely priceless.

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5 Great Ways Students Can Have an Active Social Life on a Budget

5 Great Ways Students Can Have an Active Social Life on a Budget

Group of friends at college campusAs a college student, chances are good that you have champagne taste and a beer budget. In other words, you want and deserve to do fun things during your spare time, but you’re not exactly rolling in dough to afford the nice dinners out, endless shopping sprees or even popcorn and tickets at the movies.

Fortunately, with a little creativity and a group of willing friends, it’s very possible to have an active and fun social life in college without breaking your budget. For example, check out these affordable ideas:

Check out semi-pro sports games

If you attend college in a major city, you might dream of attending a professional sports event. While the ticket prices for an NHL or MLB game may be more than you spent on books last semester, semi-pro games tend to be just as fun and way more affordable. Google your college town name and “semi-pro sports” and see what pops up.

If your college is in an area that hosts spring training baseball games, you can often purchase a general admission lawn ticket for very little money and watch the pros play a game from the comfort of a blanket.

Outdoor concerts

Some concert tickets may be affordable at first, but once you add in parking and a post-show meal it can get expensive quickly. Instead, check the local paper and watch for posters advertising outdoor concerts. Typically held in a park or amphitheater, outdoor concerts are often free or cost a few bucks for a ticket. You can usually bring snacks and beverages in plastic containers with you and enjoy a fun evening of music.

Host social gatherings at your place

While it can be fun to head out and hit the local bars, the tabs add up pretty quickly. Instead, host some parties at your place and encourage everyone to bring a favorite food or beverage to share. You can even up the cultural ante a bit and purchase high quality beer like some Guinness Nitro IPA for your gatherings.

Schedule a craft night or game night

Two great ways to socialize with other college students are to host a craft night or game night. If you are feeling crafty, check out Pinterest for ideas and invite several friends over to share a creative evening together. Crafts don’t have to be expensive—for a few bucks you can buy supplies to paint wooden ornaments or picture frames.

Game nights are also a budget friendly option. Check out thrift stores for gently-used copies of Monopoly or Clue, pop a few bags of microwave popcorn and stock up on soda when it’s on sale.

Explore your college town

Google “things to do in (name of your town)” and you might be amazed at how many free or cheap events are coming up. You might find spring carnivals that are open to the public, art museums that offer free admission for college students, farmer’s markets where you can purchase inexpensive fresh produce, or even a planetarium that offers shows for a few bucks. Sometimes it’s so easy to focus on what’s happening on campus, it can be easy to miss some amazing cheap events that are within biking or driving distance.

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5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Car

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Car

Getting the most out of your college experience means participating in internships, volunteering, attending events in the community and part-time jobs. Most of these activities require access to transportation. But while college is an amazing time for gaining invaluable life experience, it can be a not so great time for financial stability.

So how do you as a student who is low on cash but still in desperate need of wheels make sure that you are getting the best deal on a car? Here are five ways to save on your next car:

1. Buy Your Car on the Internet

If you have already researched cars and are sure of what you want, most car dealerships now have Internet sales departments where you can negotiate a price and financing with a salesperson online. Some dealerships will even deliver the car and paperwork to you. Internet salespeople generally have different sales incentives; they are paid for the number of cars they sell rather than on the sales price. Therefore, they are more likely to give you the lowest price on a car from the beginning than a typical car salesperson. According to Edmunds, a consumer, on average, saves between $1,000 and $2,000 by negotiating online.

2. Make Dealerships Bid Against Each Other

Online negotiations also allow you to be in contact with multiple dealerships at once. Once you receive an initial offer from the Internet department on a specific vehicle from several dealerships, go back to each one with the lowest price and ask them to make another offer. Letting each bid against the others is a good way to ensure you will get the very best price from every dealership.

3. Consider the Timing of Your Purchase

If you feel more comfortable buying a car in person, aim to buy at the end of the month. Most dealerships give bonuses to salespeople who meet monthly (or sometimes quarterly) goals, so by the end of the month many in the sales force are scrambling to meet these goals and you are more likely to get the best deal they can offer. Statistically, winter months offer the biggest discounts, although inventory may be low on some cars. Even better, if you can wait, buy a car when the next year’s model is just about to come out. Dealerships only want to sell the newest cars and will make deals to move the older models.

4. Look for Used Cars Outside of Your Area

Looking for a used car can be frustrating, especially if you have a specific model in mind. Popular cars can go quickly and inventory in your area may be limited. With a website like DriveTime, you aren’t limited to looking for used cars locally. DriveTime allows you to search for cars in any location (and who couldn’t use a bonus road trip) and includes an AutoCheck Report and five day return policy. Casting a wide net will make sure you get the car you want at the best price.

5. Check for Student Discounts

When you think of student discounts you might think of the movies or art museums, but there are also many  and new grads. Some car companies have special financing options for students who are close to graduating. For example, for students who meet eligibility criteria, Honda offers a flexible lease and financing terms on new and used vehicles and Toyota offers a $1,000 rebate on the purchase of a new car.

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Meal Ideas and Money Saving Tips for College Students on a Budget 

Meal Ideas and Money Saving Tips for College Students on a Budget 

groceryshoppingEven if you don’t have much money to spend on your groceries while you’re in college, fear not. You can still cook tasty and nutritious meals by following these tips and tricks for eating well on a budget:

Cut Down on Your Shopping Time

The more time you spend at the grocery store, the more likely are you to spend even more. Keep you trips to 30 minutes or less to help you stay in your budget.

Head to the grocery store once or twice a month to stock up on staples like eggs, milk and bread. Rachael Ray Magazine cites a study that says unplanned trips increase impulse buys by 23 percent, and planned trips to the grocery store decrease impulse buys by 13 percent. It’s OK to go more frequently if you need perishable items, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, but be sure to buy those in smaller quantities so you don’t end up throwing them out.

Shop Sales

If you frequently use olive oil, nuts, pasta and canned beans in your meals, stock up on those items when they go on sale. There’s no need to pay full price because these items don’t go bad quickly. Watch flyers and other ads to know when to head to the store when prices drop.

Stick to Frozen Items

Since the majority of waste from grocery shopping is from fresh produce, stick to frozen fruits and veggies that will last longer and not need to be thrown out.

Make Potatoes Your Friends

One of the cheapest ways to save on food? Buying potatoes. Plus, you can do a lot with them. Bake them. Mash them. Make hashbrowns. They are one of the most versatile foods around.

Choose Your Meat Wisely

It may be tempting to buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the store, but buying a whole chicken is cheaper. Sure, it will take you more time to prepare everything, but you’ll get some great meals out of the whole chicken. Use the breast in a sandwich, wings as a snack and other parts in a soup.

If you’re looking for another healthy protein, fish is a good option. Like many other items, you should buy fish frozen to get the best deals. Swing by the fish counter to ask for discounted cuts, too.

Another food that’s easy on your wallet and heavy on taste is ground beef. If you’re worried about the calories, buy a leaner cut. With this meat, you can make a variety of healthy and inexpensive meals, such as a taco salad and pasta with meat sauce.

Find Simple Recipes

Even though you’re strapped for cash and time, you can still whip up delicious meals. There are plenty of simple and easy recipes out there that even beginner cooks can make. Start with something familiar, such as lasagna, so you know you’re following the recipe correctly. In less than two hours, you’ll have a piping hot pan of protein-packed lasagna that tastes and smells great. Best of all? This will give you enough food to enjoy for days.

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