An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Top 5 Tips for a Successful Spring Vacation for College Students

Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 in Featured | 2 comments

College students actively look for interesting places to spend their Spring Break vacation. This is particularly true for students that study in colder climates. The idea of enjoying an exotic locale for Spring Break vacation is appealing to escape the cold weather, enjoy the parties, and get some extra sunshine. There are many locales that have capitalized on the Spring Break vacation market; however, when the time comes to choose where to go, it is important to carefully consider which destination has the most value, yet is at a price that most students can afford. Consider the conversation below when picking your next economic Spring Break vacation destination.

The Best Locations for Spring Vacations

When trying to decide where to travel to for your Spring Break Vacation, it is important to analyze several factors and decide which are the most important to you.

Beach: If you are looking for gorgeous beaches, it is highly recommended to spend your Spring Break Vacation in places such as: Cancun, Mexico, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Jamaica, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In terms of beaches, these locales have an excellent local culture that also have picturesque beaches. If you are looking for teal blue waters and white sand beaches for your Spring Break Vacation, these are the ideal places to start.

Parties: Spring Break Vacations are known for their parties, particularly when students are enrolled in their four-year degree program rather than graduate school. In terms of parties, it depends what kind of party you are looking for. If you are looking to enjoy tequila shots and authentic Mexican cuisine, then you should be going to Mexico. If you are interested in trying the rum that the Caribbean is known for, you should be visiting Jamaica. If you are looking to stay within the United States and enjoy in American festivities, you should be looking at Miami, Daytona or San Diego for your Spring Break Vacation excursions.

Distance: Distance will depend on where you are studying. If you are studying in the East Coast in the United States, places in Florida and Texas will be better suited for you. You will be able to experience warmer weather, parties, and beaches all in one. If you are already studying in Florida or Texas and want to head to international waters, then heading to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica will provide you with the cultural stimulation you desire.

Price: Price is a major factor for students. Depending on where you are studying, price will be affected with the cost of airfare and hotels available during high season. There are many packages with cruises in the Caribbean or flight/hotel combinations that can be more economical than staying within the United States. Bearing in mind price considerations is important when deciding which destination will be the best possible fit for your ideal Spring Break Vacation.

The Best Dates to Travel

Spring Break vacation varies depending on which university you study at. That said, Spring Break vacation usually happens between mid-March and mid-April of every year. If you are able to reserve your travel plans early, the best date to travel will depend on what discounts you are able to obtain that coincide with your specific Spring Break vacation dates.

The Average Cost of a Spring Break Vacation

When trying to calculate what your average Spring Break Vacation will cost, it will depend on whether you will be staying for the full week, the proximity of the location to where you are studying, and the packages/discounts that you are able to obtain. A general rule of thumb is that a domestic Spring Break Vacation within the United States if you are studying domestically will hover at around $500-$1,000 depending whether you are flying cross country, sharing hotel rooms with travel companions, and the amount of capital you spend on food and beverages. If you are venturing to foreign territories within the Caribbean or Mexico, the average price will hover between $1,000-$2,000.

5 Ways to Save Money During Spring Break

It is possible to cut down the cost of your Spring Break Vacation

1.Travel with Many Friends: Traveling with a group of friends is a great way to cut back on what you will be spending on your accommodation. You will be able to stay in a nicer place for groups and still save money at the same time.

2.Pick a Destination That Is Cost Effective: Picking a destination that is cost effective in terms of distance and overall price will cut back your cost. Be realistic at what you can afford so you are not stressing about the price the whole trip.

3.Look into Travel Packages: There are many travel packages available that can help cut the cost down of your trip. Looking into packages with cruises/airfare, hotels/airfare or all-inclusive packages are a great way to really get a better locale and overall value for your Spring Break Vacation.

4.Cook with Your Friends: One of the costs that hits you unexpectedly with Spring Break Vacations is food. If you are staying in a group setting, it can be really fun and memorable to prepare meals with your friends. This will cut down your cost substantially.

5.Downgrade Your Hotel: If you are in a beautiful place, you may not want to spend much time in your hotel room. If this is the case, then you can downgrade your hotel and save a great deal of capital.

Final Remarks on the Subject

Traveling for your Spring Break Vacation is a memorable time for many college students. It is important that you are intelligent with how and when you are spending your capital. Being realistic about what you can afford and where you are interested in visiting is essential to finding the right Spring Break Vacation for you. Lastly, be open to exploring the tropical areas immediately around the United States. At times, there are potential travel packages that can help you to save a substantial amount of capital on your Spring Break Vacation while simultaneously providing you with a rewarding travel experience.

Read More

Why Use Comparison Sites to Guide Financial Decisions?

Posted by on Dec 19, 2017 in Saving Money | 0 comments

choice

Financial decisions cause us an inordinate amount of stress. From small financial worries – like how to budget for day-to-day expenses – to large financial worries – like when and how to invest – can be stressful enough to send us into a tailspin. It doesn’t help, of course, that there are so many options and possibilities out there. With financially-minded technology it feels like there’s a new product, service, or bank to consider every day. This can add to the stress we’re already feeling and cause us to do one of two things:

  1. Shut down completely. If we’re feeling overwhelmed, we may come to a standstill. This isn’t helpful because we won’t be able to make an effective decision that meets our financial needs or solves our problems. We might lose money, pay too much in fees or interest if we refuse to change banks or services, you name it!
  2. Make a snap-judgement decision – that’s wrong for us and our situation. We’ve all made poor financial decisions in the past and it’s never fun. If you make a judgement call without knowing all the information, or based on bad information, you could truly cause yourself financial harm.

Obviously nobody wants to make bad financial decisions, or to not decide at all, but these things happen. They happen a lot more often when we’re overwhelmed or stressed out.

What makes a bad decision “bad”?

good or bad

A bad money decision doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s truly bad. It might not just be the best decision for you. If you make a call that either loses money or doesn’t make you as much money (or save you as much money) as another decision could have, it’s probably a “bad” decision. You want to be living your best financial life, not walking the line between mediocre and great.

Several things come into play when you discuss making a poor financial decision. Often it has nothing to do with the intelligence of the individual. Usually it’s a result of many other factors. Here are a few things that play into your bad financial decision making:

  1. You’re emotionally invested.
  2. You feel like you’re making the right decision because someone you know made a similar decision.
  3. You’re choosing to work with a company, brand, or financial institution you’ve worked with in the past without researching their services.
  4. You went with the company that advertised to you.
  5. You didn’t do enough research.
  6. You did too much research and became overwhelmed – leading to a rapid-fire judgement call.

These are just a few of the reasons you might make a bad financial decision – or even just a decision that wasn’t the best fit for you. This may leave you feeling even more overwhelmed then before. “How am I going to make the right decisions if literally everything I do will somehow get in my way?” you might be asking. Luckily, there is a way around several of these human errors when it comes to money decisions: doing the research ahead of time on impartial comparison sites.

How do I do my research the right way?

researchThis is a common fear. You’re always going to run the risk of over-researching different products, services, or companies and end up committing to the wrong one – or, the wrong one for you. But comparison websites really do help.

Their value comes, in large part, from their ability to remain unbiased. The reviewers on the website you’re looking at likely don’t have an emotional connection to the products, services, and companies they’re reviewing. And they don’t have an emotional connection to your unique financial dilemma – they don’t even know you!

This gives them the ability to provide excellent, thorough, documented research that compares different services, products, and companies. As you wade through this research there will be a temptation to discredit it. That’s fair, and you should look at several review and comparison sites before making a final decision. However, the truth of the matter is that very few reputable comparison and review websites provide you with faulty information. Their sole goal and purpose is to empower you to make the right decision – regardless of how you may feel.

Take the guess work out of decision making – and save money.

Comparison and review sites help you take the guesswork out of research. They give you the cold, hard facts and help guide you towards an answer that solves your financial problems. More importantly, they’ll empower you to work with new companies, try new products, and experience new financial services that can legitimately save you money. You’ll either decrease your spending or find ways to grow your wealth – and that should always be the goal when making a scary financial decision. Comparison and review websites can help get you there.

Read More

How Small Investments Can Turn into a Meaningful Savings When You Are a Student?

Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in Saving Money | 0 comments

invest money

It is not uncommon to find student with a small debt or a big one in college. When contemplating how to get out of debt and ultimately, transition into the ability to become an investor, one has to make a dramatic shift in their finances in order to get ahead. Consider the following recommended steps to get out of debt and then position yourself in order to make a substantial amount of capital.

Debt Elimination

Debt elimination is the first necessary step a student should take before deciding to invest. It is essential to pay off high interest credit cards that typically have a 30% interest rate before even considering saving and investing. Additionally, it is beneficial to pay off personal loans or any student loan that have high interest rates before trying to pay money into a savings account. Once the debt is eliminated, it is wise to then set money aside for a savings cushion in order to pay your future college tuition payment or to allow for the unexpected to happen.

Three Months of Wages in Savings

Before investing in any options, it is best to have at least three months of wages in savings. Once there is enough in savings, then one can consider the best way to invest other money. Those students that fail to save will find it very difficult to get out of debt in the long term because they will never have a support system of finances to assist them should them need it. Their savings is vital should they decide to avoid high interest credit cards and personal loans all together.

The Recommended Quantity of Savings per Month for Students

In determining what is the proper amount of capital to save every month, it is essential to ascertain what one’s income from their part time student job, in relation to what their realistic living expenses are including their college tuition payments. The recommended savings amounts can range anywhere from $10 to $500. What is important to consider with this calculation is that even saving smaller amounts of capital per month absolutely is worthwhile because it will add up in the long term. What makes saving difficult is that the smaller amounts of savings are going to take longer to amount to a substantial amount of money. Typically, it is only through saving amounts in excess of $500 should one look into the possibility of entertaining the notion of investment and forex trading. The reason for this is that the currency trading market has very high stakes and the prospective investor should not be worrying about losing capital in order to be ready to be making such expensive and high profile trades that have very high risks associated with them. Perhaps an investment with low risk can be more adequate for students at this point. However, one can choose to make an investment with higher return. Be sure to know that the risk is higher as well.

High Risk Investments

For those student who are more advanced investors and that do have the potential to lose a great deal, currency trading and binary options are the latest potential ways to make a substantial amount of money. Currency trading requires specific level of knowledge in order to make substantial gains. Where this type of trading becomes very high risk is between individuals that do not know enough about the market in order to make sound trading decisions.

Binary options are a form of investing that should be avoided because there is a great deal of risk associated with these transactions that makes it very difficult to make substantial gains without incurring a great deal of loss. Binary options are reserved for the experienced traders that work at reputable companies. Should one have any doubt about the integrity of a financial company, they should not trust their binary options are very unregulated in markets that are outside of the United States. Where binary options are quite difficult to get ahead is that they are the notion of buying an option on a stock that will be profitable if the market swings in a certain way. Thus, there is a potential that an investor may not even make a profit. Instead of utilizing binary options, investors should be focusing on a more ownership based strategy to do well in investing.

Concluding Remarks on the Subject

To conclude, it can be quite difficult to get out of debt, especially in college. The reason that it is so difficult to get out of the red is that there is a vicious cycle that continues when a student spends more than they have and then pays subsequent interest on those charges. The best way to get out of debt is to pay off the high interest debt, save at least three months of wages, and then consider the amount of savings per month towards investing should the student have the requisite capital to do so. Then, if he has sufficient capital to invest, they will then be able to get ahead in their investments with potential currency trading strategies. That being said, these strategies are best left to the experts in order to get the best possible results for financially qualified individuals.

Read More

Should You Buy a Home During College?

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Saving Money | 1 comment

buy a house

Having your own home comes with a wide range of benefits. There are tax deductions you can take as a homeowner. The cost of a mortgage is often less expensive than the cost of renting. You can gain an income if you choose to rent out a portion of the home. You’ll be building equity rather than just “paying rent.” These are just a few of the reasons out there that prove that home ownership can be a huge benefit to you as an individual. However, there are also many drawbacks. So, when is the right time to commit to buying your home?

Buying a Home During College

Owning your own home gives you peace of mind. You will always have a place to stay, there will be no moving around from apartment to apartment. You’ll also know that you’re building equity and investing in your choice – another set of benefits that will add value to your life. In recent years, there has been a trend of college students striking out and buying a home during their school years. But is this even a possibility? And if it is – is it wise?

College-age students have many reasons that could spur their desire to buy a home. First, real estate is a fantastic investment. If they choose not to stay in the area after college, they can always turn their home into an investment property. Even when they are staying there, if their home has more than one room, they can rent rooms to friends or other reliable, trustworthy tenants to make an income and pay for their mortgage payments as well as the cost of owning a home (like maintenance, etc.)

Additionally, college students who purchase a home often end up saving money in the long run. Rent in college towns can be very expensive. Rental agencies and leasing companies have the advantage – they know that students need housing, there is usually less housing available than is needed, and so they can increase prices to a very high rate. A mortgage will likely have a less expensive month-to-month payment. This helps college students cut back on costs. Additionally, if they do choose to rent out rooms, they can put the extra rent money back towards their mortgage, effectively paying it off much faster. Renting your rooms (or even the entire house) while taking an overseas job during your gap year, could really mean one year of huge savings.

Of course, there are also drawbacks to buying a home in college. If you are college-aged and can’t afford a down payment for a home, or if you don’t qualify for a good interest rate on your mortgage loan, don’t purchase a property. Of course, it also goes without saying that home ownership comes with challenges. You will have to be willing to put the energy into fixing up the place for renters, making any necessary repairs, etc. This added responsibility may not be what you’re looking for.

When Else Should You Consider Buying a Home?

buying a house

There are no hard and fast rules as to when you should or shouldn’t buy a home. However, a few good guidelines are:

  • Consider buying a home if you’re currently in a “buyer’s market.” If houses are selling for much less than their value and you’re willing to sit on your investment for a while before selling, buying a house or a property may not be a bad idea.
  • Build up enough savings for a down payment. Whether you have 10%-20% saved, make sure you have at least a reasonable portion of the overall home’s value saved up for a house down payment. This often helps you to lock in a lower mortgage rate, it helps you to take out a smaller mortgage loan, and it reduces your overall debt. Is never too early to start saving.
  • Consider buying a home if you’re in a good area where the rental market is good. This is why college towns are such good candidates for purchasing homes at as a college-aged individual and using them later in life as a rental property for extra income. With rents constantly increasing, you’ll likely be able to make an income on your property or pay it off much faster if you purchase in an area where the rental demand is higher than the house-buying demand.

If you’re a recent graduate, or you’re currently in college, you may be in the prime time of your life to purchase a house. If you’re considering taking this step, ensure that you’re financially capable of doing so. Finally, ensure that you’re purchasing a home that’s worth purchasing. In other words, don’t jump on the first one you find! Take your time and weigh your options – real estate is an excellent investment, but only if you invest in excellent real estate. Look around carefully and find the home that best fits your needs and budget. Only you can make the best decision for your financial future.

Read More

When Should College Students Start Looking for Their “Adult” Job?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Getting Started | 4 comments

Adult job

It’s something that every college student starts to stress out about during their educational career – when do you start to look for your first “adult” job? The job search can be incredibly time consuming and overwhelming. Many students might feel discouraged by their prospects, or maybe they’re expecting a job to fall into their lap just because they’re on their way to earning their degree. However, especially in today’s world where it’s not always what you know but who you know, job searches are much more about networking and pursuing opportunities with people you know or could potentially be introduced to. So, knowing that your job hunt might take a little longer, do you start to look for an “adult” job while you’re still in college? Or do you wait until you’ve graduated and have your degree in hand?

The Difficulties of Job Hunting

We live in a very connected world. Even if you’re able to find a job posting on a website or in the paper, it’s likely that the poster already knows several people or can be introduced to several people who are the ideal applicants. However, don’t allow yourself to be consumed by the doom and gloom rumors that all college graduates struggle to find a job. In fact, only 2.5% of college graduates are unemployed as of a January 2017 survey. That doesn’t mean the job search is easy or that there are jobs out there that are a perfect fit for everybody, but there are ways to deal with the difficulties of the job hunt.

It may be tempting to put off your job search until after you graduate. Logically, this might appear to make sense. Ideally, if you focus your time while in college on your studies, your grades will be better. Better grades mean a higher GPA, and that should mean a higher likelihood of finding an amazing job after you graduate. This logic is faulty. While GPA is a factor, most places of employment aren’t going to be scrutinizing your college transcript. Just seeing that you earned a degree is usually enough to qualify you for employment (unless, of course, you’re going into a very high tech or niche-specific field).

If we look at how job hunting works these days (78% of college graduates say that networking played the largest factor in finding a job after college), we know one thing for sure: it’s time consuming. So, the right way to go about your job search is to start as early as possible while you’re still in college. This will ultimately save you money in the long run because before any student loans or hefty post-college living expenses kick in, you’ll already be squared away with a salary-earning job. If you wait to start job searching until after college, it’s likely you’ll take a bit of time to do so. During this time, you won’t be earning money, you could potentially be going into debt to pay for your lifestyle, and you won’t be putting any money towards student debt, savings, or retirement funds.

Timing & Experience

Timing is, in this case, the most important factor in finding a job. You never know who you’ll meet at a career fair, at a panel interview, or during a networking event, and you can’t really orchestrate the meeting with your ideal employer. These chance meetings aren’t premeditated. This is the reason you should start hunting for your job early on, to increase your likelihood of being in the right place at the right time. Of course, timing these meetings or being able to bump into someone who wants to hire you in the right place at the right time isn’t easy – if only because it’s mostly outside your realm of control. Regardless of how difficult this seems, keep pressing on. Continue to apply, send emails of inquiry, and attend networking events to maximize the time you’re spending on your job hunt.

Experience is also a critical factor in your job hunt. It can be frustrating for college students when it seems like all entry-level jobs have a high experience requirement. One way to circumvent this is by attending events within the industry you’re interested in.

Get involved early – a year or more before your expected graduation date with volunteer work, internships, networking events, and more. Although you’re a full-time student, this involvement will show very clearly that you have experience in the industry, know about the employers you’re speaking with, and you’re ready to jump into the workforce after you graduate. The job search is a stressful time, but it’s also an exciting time! Take advantage of events in your area to put yourself in front of the people you want to work for and eventually you will be working for them after you graduate!

Read More