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Tag Archive | "On Campus Savings"

Coinstar – Helping College Students Cash In Nationwide

Did you know that at any given time, there’s up to $10 billion worth of coins out of circulation in the United States?

Spare change lying around your dorm room or in the comfy couch of your college frat house may not appear to carry much value. However, when you gather it all together and have a convenient method in which to convert it to cash, you could be talking some serious moolah.

Coinstar is a leading vendor of coin processing machines across the nation and they know that college campuses are flooded with copious amounts of loose change. In an effort to help you rid yourself of all that spare change, Coinstar has kicked off a promotion for the month of August that allows you the opportunity to cash in all your coinage for free. In addition, you can get a free snazzy looking Sherpa Bag to collect and save all your future change.

Here’s how the promo works:

  • Your “Promo Code” is “COINBAG”.
  • Take the “Promo Code” with you to a Coinstar® kiosk. Pour $5 or more for a cash voucher, No Fee eGift Card or Gift Cards (see below). Pours for donation do not qualify.
  • Enter the “Promo Code” and you’ll receive instructions printed on the bottom of your voucher for how to get your complimentary Coin Sherpa. (And there’s no shipping or handling fee!)
  • Go to once you’ve completed your qualifying transaction to request your Coin Sherpa!
  • You must complete your transaction by August 26, 2012 and request your Coin Sherpa by September 10, 2012.
  • Limited to the first 5000 requests. One per household. Additional terms and conditions available here..

Here’s how you get your coins processed for FREE:

  • Find the nearest Coinstar Processing Kiosk
  • Select the FREE coin counting feature
  • Select the eCertificate or Gift Card you would like to receive (Coinstar is partnered with a number of merchants including: Starbucks, Amazon, iTunes, Papa John’s, etc…)
  • Dump your coinage into the machine and let it do all the hard work
  • Wait for it to print off your eCertficate/Gift Card voucher
  • Redeem the eCertificate/Gift Card next time you are checking out with your selected vendor
  • It really is that easy…

So, what are you waiting for? Start sifting through those couch cushions, raid that change cup in your car, and bend over and pick up that shiny penny on the sidewalk and cash in today!

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Your Mother was Wrong: 4 Reasonable Tips for Grocery Shopping in College

When you were in high school living at home, you probably got lots of advice from your parents about “adult life.” Your folks likely cautioned you about credit cards, they may have taught you how to drive, and perhaps they also instructed you in the nuances of grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is truly an art that takes time and practice to master. Of course your parents likely had your best interests at heart when they suggested you purchase fresh vegetables frequently. But they’re real adults. You’re a student adult, and there’s a world of difference, especially in terms of time, money, and taste. Here are some reasonable tips for grocery shopping as a college student, tips that won’t break the bank while keeping you relatively healthy.

1. Skip fresh fruits and veggies, unless you’ve planned a specific meal incorporating these items.

We all like to make attempts at being healthier, and we often think we can do this by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Just the word “fresh” can trigger wonderful daydreams of strength and vitality. But these fruits and vegetables won’t help you in the slightest if you don’t eat them before they rot. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars each year by simply not buying anything fresh unless I specifically planned a meal incorporating a fresh item for that evening or the following one. Seeing so much good food go to waste is really heartbreaking. Stop the cycle of throwing food out and buy canned or frozen.

2. Be honest with yourself. You aren’t going to cook every night.

As a pseudo-adult, you may have images in your head of you cooking a meal at home every night of the week, just like mama used to. But honestly—college student life is not conducive to cooking complicated meals every day. When you go the store, yes, plan a few extravagant meals. But realize you’ll suddenly get busy one evening, or perhaps you’ll be exhausted from an all-nighter and you’ll get lazy. Instead of planning several complicated meals, plan on or two, and the rest of the items you purchase should be for quick meals that can be prepared in fifteen minutes or less.

3. Realize that there are healthy versions of easy-to-prepare items.

Maybe you’re trying to get away from items like Ramen noodles and Easy Mac. And that’s great! At the same time, these college staples became college staples for a reason—they’re quick and they’re cheap. Unfortunately they add to your waistline while subtracting from your lifespan. Be aware that there are alternatives to these items, alternatives that are much healthier. Annie’s is a great alternative to Mac n Cheese, one made with organic whole grains. Annie’s even has a microwaveable version, too. When shopping in the frozen aisle, be sure to look for meals without preservatives and trans fats. Reading labels will go a long way in helping you purchase healthy stuff that’s still easy to prepare.

4. It’s better to go to the store frequently and buy less than to go once a month and buy a ton.

At least in my house, my family didn’t go to the grocery store often. Each time we went, it was something of an event. We were the family you would hate to be stuck behind in the check-out aisle. For college students, it’s better to buy small portions more frequently. You’ll know exactly what you’re eating for the week, so you won’t buy a bunch of stuff that you just don’t feel like eating later. It curbs waste, makes you eat less and healthier, and it’s better for your pocketbook, too.

Don’t get me wrong—grocery shopping will always be a struggle for those of us who are not yet quite grown-ups. But if you approach the process in a more reasonable and honest way, it can be a fun and economical experience. Good luck!

Today’s guest article is provided by Melissa Miller. She spent many years working odd jobs like street pantomime and burro grooming before finally admitting it was time to get her associate degree. Now she has sworn her life to helping others do the same by explaining the often tricky world of online education. Direct any questions or comments to

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Maximizing Your Meal Plan (video)

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Money Matters Moment In College (video)

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Visiting College Campuses? – Tips to Avoiding Rental Car Fees

When searching for colleges, you may find that your son or daughter wants to venture out of your state. These trips can be expensive, but they can open new horizons to your son or daughter. And… if you’re like me, you guide them to warm weather locales when it’s February and you’re just tired of biting wind and snow/ice storms. Some comparison shopping can result in good plane fare…just don’t give it back when you rent a car.

After renting a car this past week and feeling like I was buying a used car (no offense to used car salesman?) with all the options being offered, I started to contemplate all of the services they offered and thought that all are not such a great deal.

I get this question at work at lot too. The story they tell about lack of insurance is very compelling – and scary. But the insurance is pretty expensive. In one recent (and fun) article on the subject at Car and Driver, the cost of the insurance was half again as much as the rental. In this case, that was $35 a day. In this case, the price covered both the Loss Damage Waiver coverage and the Supplemental Liability Insurance.

Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) coverage (sometimes called CDW for “collision”) covers damage to the car. An important note: it covers damage to the car as long as you comply with rental agreement terms. Read those terms. Driving an SUV off road does not comply with the rental agreement. Also, pushing or towing anything and racing aren’t allowed. And despite the funny scenes in some movies, you cannot with “willful disregard” allow damage to the vehicle.

Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) goes by many names. This is for damage to other persons from your actions with the car or “willful disregard”. Remember that when you are at fault (or just partially at fault) you can be held liable for any damage and injury you caused. We’ve all seen the commercials for injury lawyers. There are are also additional options for any injury to people in your car. These cost extra of course.

There are many options to this insurance that cost you much less – down to nothing. The first is to look at the benefits on your credit card. Many credit cards offer some kind of coverage.  Most would cover full replacement of the car (up to $50,000).

Another option is your personal auto insurance. Your liability insurance on your personal auto goes with you on any car you drive. That eliminates the need for the SLI insurance. Your policy may include a rider for rental cars. If it doesn’t, you can likely add it for less than the cost of the rental car company’s insurance – and this coverage will last for all year. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent or company about what is available with your policy.

In either case, there are options that cost far less than the coverage offered by the rental car company. It’s not bad for everyone. You may be a person who doesn’t have a car (New York City residents?) or feel that your personal auto coverage is sorely lacking. In either case, I would still talk to an insurance company first. In all cases, though, make sure you have some coverage. Rolling the dice on an accident is never a good idea. It hurts your credit and frequently others as well.

Prepaid Gas
The newer option being offered these days is prepaid gas. I love the way they sell this. You can buy a full tank of gas and return it without trying to fill up around the airport. They will tell you that their gas is cheaper than the stations around them and they will tell you about their service charge for filling up the car if you fill up more than 2 to 10 miles from the airport. It sounds like a safe bet that gives you peace of mind. My warning: anyone pushing you to buy an extra service has something to gain. The more they push the better it is for them. There are not that many compassionate people out there.

After a particular pushy agent at a national company gave me the stern warning about the service charge – which I ignored – I started to add up the costs.

Let’s look at what you pay for. You pay for a full tank of gas. This is their ‘cheap’ rate times the manufacturer’s stated fuel capacity for the car. There is no credit for unused fuel. So if you are driving a car with a 16 gallon tank and their gas is $3.35 a gallon, the fuel charge is $53.60.

As you leave the rental lot you will immediately notice a gas station. And the price will be at least as expensive as the agent warned you. Long before prepaid fuel, these guys built stations for people to fill up their rental. And you will notice that the cost is higher. Pay attention as you drive away. Two miles is a lot of territory. You’ll likely see one that may be cheaper. But let’s say it is still 15 cents – or even 25 cents. That first station was pretty convenient. How much more do you pay?

This is the rub: who ever drives their car to complete empty. To do so means that you risk running out of gas outside the lot and someone has to push you in. Even if you can get the fuel light to come on. That is usually still 1/8 of a tank. Most of us will be something under 1/4 tank. So how much more did you pay? Well if you paid for 7/8 of a tank at $3.60 (25 cents more), your cost is $50.40. That’s $3 less. Maybe you can’t plan your gas to go all the way to 7/8. At 3/4 of a tank your cost is $43.20, a savings of over $10. A two day rental may use only half a tank depending on how much driving you had ($25 less). My three day rental in LA used just 3/4 of a tank – and that was with LA’s horrible traffic and several times of getting lost.

There is some benefit to the prepaid option. If you are nervous about making your flight, worried about traffic in a strange city or otherwise likely to not have time to fill the car up, then maybe it makes sense.

Remember the rule, the more they push and try to scare you, the better it is for them.

Helpful Links:
·         Car and Driver, Rental Car Olympics
·         Wikipedia, Damage Waiver
·         Avis, Optional Protections
·         AT&T Universal Card: Extras
·         Thrifty Car Rental enrollment

Today’s guest post comes from Philip Laube. He is a CPA in Ohio and the Assistant Vice President for Business & Finance at Muskingum University. He presents and writes about personal finance issues for college students. He can be followed at twitter and on his website

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Free Amazon Prime For Non “.edu” Email Accounts

A few months ago I shared a new cost savings feature called Amazon Prime. This program is provided by and the main benefit is free 2-day shipping on all orders that you purchase online directly from The regular price for this program is $79 a year but if you are a college student you can get it for free.

The only downside to Amazon Prime is that you had to have a “.edu” email address to qualify for the free service. Since many colleges and universities don’t provide email addresses with the “.edu” suffix, a lot of people were being excluded… until now…

If you are one of the unfortunate students that has a non “.edu” college email address, the instructions below provide all the steps required to get you Amazon Prime for free. Hope you find this helpful.

Free Amazon Prime Instructions For Non “.edu” Email Accounts

If you’re able to provide proof of enrollment in at least one course at a college or university located in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, you may be eligible to enroll in Amazon Student through an alternative process.

To provide proof of enrollment, please send an e-mail to from the e-mail address associated with your account. In the message, include one of the following:

* A scan of your current student ID
* A transcript or class list for the current term
* A tuition bill for the current term

You must also include all of the following information:

* The state where you attend school
* The name of your college or university
* Your academic level
* Your major
* The e-mail address given to you by your College or University (if applicable) will review your submission to determine your eligibility. If they determine you’re eligible, you’ll receive the Amazon Student enrollment confirmation e-mail.

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Budgeting For College Students (video)

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Wallet Pinching Savings for College Students

Being a college student used to mean eating three packs of ramen noodles a day and biking around campus because gassing up your 1985 Chevy was too expensive. Whether you work a part-time job or get an allowance from your parents, you can learn some key concepts to saving and spending wisely — now and after college.

Smart Spending
There are plenty of ways to save a few bucks every day. Dr. Dick Verrone, personal-finance professor for the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, has these penny-pinching tips:

  • Order water. Don’t get soft drinks when you’re eating out. Why pay $2 for 150 soda calories? Also, Verrone says, “Never order orange juice.” OJ is extremely overpriced at restaurants, and most of the time it’s from concentrate.
  • Limit your pocket cash. When going out on the town, take a 20-spot, and leave your cards at home. You’ll be forced to keep your tab under $20.
  • Buy quality clothing items. They may be a little more expensive, but they’ll last longer. Verrone also definitely approves of outlet shopping. But before making purchases, think: Do I need this? If not, don’t buy it!
  • Switch your prescriptions. Change your name-brand medications to generic ones. You can usually save about $20 per med this way.

Clipping “Coups”
OK, most college students don’t have easy access to a daily paper or coupon flyer, so how do you save with coupons and special discounts?

  • Look online. If you’re going to the sporting-goods store, for example, type the name of the store into the search engine, along with the words coupon codes. Lots of websites track down discount codes for online shopping, as well as printable coupons for buying items in-store.
  • Sign up for discount alerts via text. Some campuses have local text-message discount services — check at your student center or information desk. (Of course, this is not a good idea if you don’t have an unlimited cell-phone plan.) Mike Meyer, a UNCW senior, is signed up for deals in North Carolina at “Every Monday, I get a coupon-text for one of my favorite restaurants,” he says. “It’s awesome.”
  • Purchase a coupon book. These books pack hundreds of coupons, usually for buy-one-get-one-free offers. They’re worth the $25 (if you buy one from a campus organization’s fund-raiser) or even $35 (available online at after just a few uses.

Long-term Saving
Verrone recommends getting into the habit of saving now to set yourself up for an easier financial situation after graduation. “Make the amount small enough so you can do it,” he says, such as saving $5 per week or $10 each month.

  • Set up an automatic transfer. Most large banking institutions, such as Bank of America or Wachovia, will let you set up transfers between linked checking and savings accounts. Meyer has $30 a month transferred. “That’s how I saved money for spring break freshman year,” he says.
  • Start an individual retirement account. No, you’re not too young! This is the time to do it. “Once you’ve accumulated $200 to $300, open a Roth IRA and continue to fund it every month from your savings,” advises Verrone. Even if you continue to only save that $10 per month, you’ll be accumulating real money for the future.
  • Watch your money grow. Let your savings work for you by investing in mutual funds with low expenses and superior performance records, suggests Verrone. Consult a financial adviser at your bank for more information.
  • Consider an online banking service. Having an online bank can be a good outlet for putting away large sums of money that you can still access without penalties (unlike with an IRA). Online banks usually provide higher interest rates, although transfers take two to three business days. Meyer has a savings account with INGDirect and loves it: “A two-day transfer is more of a commitment, so I have to really think about it before I make that decision.”
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