Category Archives: Getting Started

Using Black Friday and Cyber Monday to Save Money on Christmas Gifts

Black Friday can be as controversial a topic as what meat you’re going to eat for Christmas dinner. With viral clips of fighting over in-store goods and others claiming its all a scam, you can quite easily be put off by it all. 

The rule of thumb is to only scan Black Friday sales for things you already want to buy, instead of putting yourself in the vulnerable position of letting sales sweep you off your feet.

Christmas is approaching and you’re going to need to buy some gifts regardless. Black Friday is actually very well placed in that respect, as it gives you time to have another pay-day before the actual day of Christmas and your quite possibly expensive and boozy New Years’ Eve.

So, rather than postponing the inevitable hand-over of cash until you’re passing by a garage on Christmas eve, browsing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales can really reduce your Christmas spending. You have to go about it in a sensible, prepared way, however.

Planning

The first thing to do is plan the number of presents you’re going to need to buy. This means writing down the name of everyone that you’re intending to buy a gift for. It may also be wise to roughly write down how much you’re willing to spend for each name, too. This will help prevent impulse buys and blowing your budget on just a couple of people. You may also want to discuss this with others too – asking if you’re both planning on buying each other a present, in order to avoid the phrase “I thought we weren’t doing presents this year?” which leaves both parties embarrassed on the day.

Research

When you’ve figured out the list and budget, you can begin to look into gifts for each person. This comes before Black Friday, so you’re not left with finding and buying presents for everyone over a single weekend. Anyway, you’ll find that sales start from the week leading up to Black Friday in many stores (Amazon being one).

You can make good use of Chrome extensions such as Savelist and Shoptagr which will create a list of items that you’re interested in – and the latter will even notify you of price drops. Hopefully, the week leading up to Black Friday is enough to create a list that includes possible gifts for everyone. Another good option is to use comparison sites and select the vendor with the best prices. The last place for good and cheap products it’s well known eBay.

Timing

Timing is the next thing. You don’t want to just buy an item because it’s on a general sale, as it may drop further on the day of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Equally, you don’t want to miss out on a potentially good deal by getting greedy.

You can deal with this in two main ways. Firstly, scan for dates and stock count. Sites such as Amazon often state how long you have until the deal runs out and goes up in price, and many sites also will tell you “only 5 remain”, although they may be lying depending on the company.

The second thing to do is to find the same deal on other sites. If you have only one option on a good price for a product on a certain website, then this may not be worth the risk of waiting. However, if you have three separate sites, it would be unlikely that they end their deal/run out of stock at the same time. Thus, if you have options, you can afford to wait. Once they get ruled out and one is left, it may be the time to strike.

5 Great presents on sale

RUNMUS Gaming headset

The RUNMUS gaming headset is suited to PC, Xbox One and PS4 users, and benefits from 7.1 surround sound for an enhanced gaming experience. Finding a highly rated gaming headset (4.6/5 from 10.279 reviews on Amazon) in this price range is a great bargain.

Price: $26.95 (reduced from $42.99) at Amazon

TCL 55” 4K TV

If you’re looking to spend big on a present this year for someone (or perhaps… a present for yourself?) then 4K TVs are getting cheaper by the day. The TCL 55” however is quite possible the first 55” TV I’ve seen for under 400 bucks that’s 4K. With 4* reviews, it looks like a great Black Friday coup.

Price: $399.99 (reduced from $699.99) at Amazon

Fitbit

It’s not called Cyber Monday for no reason! The Fitbit is next on the list, as you’re sure to pick a version up cheap over the weekend. These a great present as they mix utility technology with health benefits. Whilst there are many versions that will no doubt see a price drop, the Fitbit Versa 2 is first on sale at Amazon.

Price: $148.99 (reduced from $199.95) at Amazon

DAYBETTER LED strips 10m 

Colorful LED lights are that product that you never think about buying for yourself, but when you see someone else’s, you can’t help wonder why you haven’t got around to getting any yet. They can transform a room and add an incredible ambiance. At 10m long, these LED lights are sure to fill up a medium to a large bedroom.

Price: $19.74 (reduced from $28.99) at Amazon

Magilano SKYJO 

SKYJO is the self-proclaimed “ultimate card game for kids” – and it really is a lot of fun even for adults. Christmas is a time for socializing with family, so it’s good to have some non-tech gifts that you can play over the dinner table too. Whilst the deal appears to be coming to an end soon, it’s likely to see the same deal pop up elsewhere this weekend.

Price: $7.49 (reduced from $19.95) at Amazon

How to Eat Healthy in College – Eat a Prepared Meal Kit!

Prepared Meal Kit

Having a healthy balanced diet is the most important lifestyle choice you can focus on – even more so than exercising. No amount of exercise will help you lose weight for example, if you’re consuming even more calories through pizza. What diet and food choices to pick can be confusing, though. There are a plethora of vegan documentaries telling us about the hormone levels in milk, and an equal amount of rebuttals from meat-eaters. 

At this point, these choices are somewhat personal preference still. What we can agree on, is that highly processed foods leads to cancer and early death. No amount of vitamin tablets and hours accumulated on the elliptical is going to offset buying pre-made, highly processed food. Getting enough fruit and vegetables and a wide variety of them, along with enough protein (be it nuts or non-battery farmed chicken) and healthy fats is perhaps the simplest way to look at things. 

How do we achieve this at college though? It is so much effort to cook everyday. Its not just the cooking either, but to eat fresh means to buy perishable foods. These go out of date within a few days, and you’re back down the shops again.

As a result, college students often turn to pre-made meals from the shops. They’re easy to make, and are often actually cheaper than cooking yourself. The allure is real. It’s just unfortunate that they’re highly processed, and are the number 1 type of food that needs to be avoided.

The solution to this, and fast becoming a trend realised by students all the way to large families, is to meal prep. Combing the healthiness of fresh cooking with the laziness of pre-prepared meals is the genius of meal prepping.

Reasons to meal prep

Easy on the wallet

The money we can save by meal prepping can be compared to how a large manufacturer saves money by expanding their output – bulk buying ingredients in larger quantities will lead to cheaper prices per lb/kg. Just hope you have enough freezer space.

We are very often told not to be persuaded by the “3 for $5” pseudo sales but the reality is, it is cheaper per unit than buying just 1. These allure you to buying more than you need, but with meal prepping, the more the merrier. Ultimately, we can make better use of the sales through meal prepping. We also waste less on impulse buys, because meal prepping forces us to plan better, so we tend to stick to it and buy less snacks. Not only this, but sticking to the shopping list and cooking with more attention on the ingredients will result in less waste, which is better for both the environment and the current account.

Time and effort 

Through deferred gratification, meal prepping means we spend some extra time now so we can reap future benefits. 

Very often we find ourselves on Sundays with lots of free time and energy, but none of that on weekdays after work. Meal prepping is a great way to exploit that, giving us a ritual activity to do on the weekend (and it still may only take 2 hours or less), and be able to lazily stumble home from work and chuck our planned hard work in the microwave for 3 minutes. It’s very rewarding! 

Additionally, if large cooking sessions isn’t ideal, then merely doubling up on portions when cooking a regular meal is a great way to feed you for tomorrow, with no real extra time spent (triple it?). 

Health 

No more carcinogenic, high sugar, salty, processed insoluble ready meals! 

It literally applies to all of us, that when we cook ourselves, our meals become more healthy than when we purchase pre-packaged meals. Even if it was the same meal with the same ingredients, buying the meat from the butchers and the vegetables from a market is a far more sustainably healthy way of making the same meal. It will undoubtedly taste better, too.

Why Student Loans Are Poison

student loans

Student debt has almost become a pejorative term at this point, and is denounced by many as being not worth the degree. Whether or not the debt is worth it is to be discussed, and ultimately to some extent a matter of personal preference, but there is no getting away from the fact that student debts are mounting and becoming increasingly difficult to justify. Debts to the level where it can have poisonous effects on the rest of people’s lives, and all from a decision we make at such a young age.

Americans in 2018 graduated with an average debt of $29,000, with some of those having parents who took out debts of around $35,000 in federal parent plus loans. This is a significant amount, which doesn’t include the costs of food, studying resources and housing. Graduates are expected to have double lifetime earnings on average than high school graduates, though it can vary widely depending on the major. However, when opportunity cost is factored in – the time during college that could have been spent working and gaining experience – then suddenly gaining $80,000 in debt for higher future earnings may not always be the right choice.

Regardless of which option has a greater monetary outcome on aggregate, there is also a cost to our creativity. When 60% of student debt recipients are expected to finish paying off their loans in their 40s, then steady employment, particularly once already gained, is the sensible option. Ultimately, one is less likely to start up a company when you have student debt. The burden of debt tends to be a driving force towards traditional careers, which can be either good or bad depending on the person. Entrepreneurship though is something that we should place a greater value on. Not only is it an expression of hard work, creativity and ambition, but small businesses are the basis of most developed economies and heavily drives demand. Taking risks is a great way to grow as an individual as well as being great for social mobility, but the appetite to take such risks is stifled by debts.

In this sense, taking on student debt is the antithesis of the American dream, and is to concede to a life (for the most part) of employment. While this may be fine for some, it’s strange that this is incentive for the brightest youngsters in an economy – a perverse paradigm. It also goes against the new movement of financial independence, which promotes living debt free in order to save up enough wealth to retire, and be free from.

If the loan repayments weren’t already enough of a burden for your future self, then just dealing with lenders can be off putting enough. Student loan recipients complained to a federal watchdog over 12,000 times in 2017. Such problems were surrounding things such as attempts to consolidate federal loans and accessing promised rewards from companies, such as lower interest rates.

With student debt in America reaching $1.25 trillion in 2018, the accumulation of debt is drawing parallels to the 2008 mortgage crisis. Much of the premium on the student loans is actually the risk of the student not graduating, too. It is entirely possible scenario to mount up $10,000 in student loans, fail to graduate, cannot turn to bankruptcy yet only have the wage opportunities of a high school graduate.

It is objectively a risk-seeking attitude that taking on large amounts of debt without substantial capital and highly probable future earnings in place. Conventionally, the narratives around this behaviour is to determine it as highly risk-seeking, but it is strange that this isn’t the case when it is framed as student loan debt. The power of it being a culturally normal thing to do can blind us from an objective and rational decision about it.  The probabilities of not acquiring a high paying job should be more realistically analysed, and coupled with the opportunity costs. It also seems the possible direct and opportunity costs of college loans are drastically underestimated, and are suitable for a fewer number of individuals than commonly believed.

30 collectibles you may have at home and cash out quickly

Do you have an unexpected bill you need to pay, and fast? Take a dig throughout your attic – heirlooms and collectibles you’ve been hanging on to for decades could be worth more than you think.

If you get lucky, some may make you a small fortune? Which items should you keep your eyes peeled for? Below, we’ll list 30 collectibles that you can convert into cash, be it online or down at the pawn shop.

(1) Sports cards

Do you have binders filled with baseball cards rammed away in the corner of your attic? Check them – they could be traded for thousands of dollars.

The average card in ‘excellent condition’ from the 1970s trades for about $10-$20. Multiply that by hundreds of cards, and you could have a tidy sum on your hands. And if your Dad gifted you cards from his era? You could strike it big!

(2) Pokemon cards and Magic The Gathering

Sports cards aren’t the only collectible cards worth mad money. Some Pokemon cards are in short supply – Machamps from the 1st edition run in 1999 are worth 1,000 USD. Have you got a 1st edition Shadowless Charizard? 3,000 USD is the market rate. Magic: The Gathering has even a bigger market, especially for graded mint MTG cards.

And if you somehow have one of the five Pikachu Illustrators in existence, accept no less than 100,000 USD for it.  

(3) Books

If you inherited a bunch of dusty, old books from your parent’s estate, take a closer look at them. Limited first printings of certain books can be worth radically more than later printings. For instance, Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, had a first edition of 4,700 copies.

If its dust jacket is in good shape, you can flip it for 40,000 USD. If it’s in mint shape, you have a 130,000 USD novel on your hands.

(4) Coins

A popular collectible, it can be hard to make money even on older coins. For example, you’ll be lucky to get 10 USD for a circulated dime from 1916.

However, runs of coins with mistakes can be worth dramatically more, thanks to their rarity. Double dies, broadstrikes, and coins struck with the wrong design can be worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

(5) Video games

We don’t mean to make Gen Xers feel old, but – the games you played as kids could now be worth serious cash. If you have a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog that’s in good condition, that’s 400 USD right there.

Remember working up a sweat playing Stadium Events? If so, you might want to check the floor pad it came with. If it is called the ‘Bandi Family Fun Fitness’ pad rather than the Power Pad, you have a 1,000 USD game on your hands.

(6) Vinyl records

Vinyl is enjoying a resurgence lately. As such, the value of rare, collectible records is on the rise. For example, the 1st pressing of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day” is worth 1,000 USD in good condition.

Did you get a hold of Nirvana’s first album, Bleach, back in the day? If it’s the red and white marbled and in mint condition, it will fetch you 3,200 USD.

(7) Musical instruments

Did your Dad pass down his old Fender Strat to you when you were a teenager? If it’s in good condition, it could be worth a considerable sum. 1970 Strats can be worth over 6,000 USD, but if it’s from 1954 and in great shape, you could get over 20,000 USD for it.

(8) Musical memorabilia

Did you come into possession of a Kurt Cobain-penned setlist, signed by him and the band? This piece of memorabilia and others like it could be worth big bucks. A bidding war over a Nirvana setlist at Bonham’s Auction House in Glasgow produced a €7,000 payday for the establishment.

(9) Comics

Those animated adventures you immersed yourself into as a child could now make your money problems go away. The earlier in the series a comic is, the better. If you’re lucky enough to have a #1 for a popular series, have a seat – it could be worth anywhere from 84,000 USD to 440,000 USD.    

(10) Action figures

Got your comic book/movie heroes in action figure form? If you never took them out of the box, you could be in for a big payday. A 1978 Luke Skywalker could be worth more than 25,000 USD in its original box.

(11) Vintage branded signs

Did you pick up some old-looking Coca-Cola signs for your basement at a flea market recently? Look closer – if it’s a porcelain enamel sign – it could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, dependant on condition.

(12) China (flatware)


You inherited fine china from your wife’s parents estate, but you’ve never used it. Depending on its age and style, though, it could fetch you a tidy sum. If it hails from England, the odds of having valuable plates increases considerably.  

(13) Perfume bottles

After poking around the attic, you came across a collection of shapely, colorful bottles. These are likely perfume bottles – take them to an appraiser. If they came from Europe, circa 19th century, you could have some valuable antiques in your possession.

(14) VHS movies

No, this entry isn’t a joke – some VHS movies actually have collector value. For instance, an excellent condition ‘Land Before Time’ VHS tape can fetch 150 USD on eBay.

Additionally, check any old Disney movies you have for a ‘Black Diamond.’ These icons signify limited-edition Disney tapes that can sell for more than 10,000 USD on eBay.

(15) Typewriters

Remember life before Microsoft Word? It wasn’t that long ago that we banged out school reports on typewriters. In the last generation, machines in good condition have gotten rare, fast. These days, you could get a hundred bucks for a 50-year-old unit in average condition.

If your parents moved to America from overseas, however, their European units could fetch you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.   

(16) Christmas ornaments

If you’re like us, your attic is probably overflowing with Christmas ornaments. Next season, take a look at them with a more critical eye. If you received some hand-me-down pieces from your parents, they could be worth 5 USD to 250 USD – each.

(17) Art

This entry is one of the more stereotypical items on this list. However, due to the sheer volume of art floating around, don’t expect to score a huge sum per piece. That said, if it’s an original, its value will increase significantly in the eyes of an appraiser.  

(18) Dolls

As a child, you loved dolls — a lot. So, your parents bought you some collectibles to decorate your room. Now’s the time to examine them closely to see if they have collector value. If the maker crafted them before they were ‘mass produced’ in the 1980s, they likely have some value. Depending on condition and rarity, you could get between 5 USD to 2,000 USD+ per piece.

(19) Old Apple computers

The power of our smartphones outdoes that of 1980s computers by several thousand times. However, the nostalgia of having an operating old-school Macintosh has led collectors to pay thousands of dollars for them. If you got an old unit gathering dust in your basement, turn that baby into cold, hard, cash.

(20) Stamps

Another standby of collectors, generations of families has passed down stamp collections. If you found one in your attic, each stamp contained therein could be worth a buck each. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up. Truly rare pieces can be worth dozens or hundreds of dollars.

(21) Movie props

Got a wacky item in storage? There’s a chance someone in your family worked as an extra on a film shoot and was gifted a movie prop. If it has identifying marks that can trace it back to a production, it could be worth anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars.

(22) Board games

Often, game nights were the best nights spent together as a family. If you still have a generations-old edition of Monopoly kicking around, it could be worth between 300 to 900 USD.   

(23) Assorted sports memorabilia

From game-worn jerseys to historic balls/pucks, sports memorabilia has more than sentimental value. If it came with a certificate of authenticity, it could sell for well into the thousands of dollars.

(24) Watches

Watches are another item commonly passed down between generations. If it is a name-brand watch that has a pedigree going back decades or centuries, chances are you’ll get at least four figures.

If it is in marvelous condition, a five-figure payday isn’t out of the question. Just don’t tell the in-laws you sold it.

(25) Movie posters

You grew up in a family of movie buffs. Finding a collection of finely-preserved movie posters only brought fond memories flooding back. If some of these are in demand, though, your bank account could get flooded with green.

Case in point: The Dark Knight advance poster sold for 20 USD new, but now goes for 300 USD, thanks to Heath Ledger’s untimely demise before its release.   

(26) Lego sets

They do more than hurt your feet early in the morning – if you have certain unopened Lego sets, they can fetch a handsome price. For instance, the Star Wars Y-Wing Attack Starfighter edition now sells for 1,150 USD online.

(27) Military memorabilia

Some families would never dream of parting with military medals passed down by older generations. You can’t sell these – a law passed in 2005 prohibits it. However, other military/wartime items, like propaganda posters, helmets, and swords, all have real value.

Prices range from a couple hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Before throwing them online, take them to an appraiser, so you don’t get hosed.  

(28) Furniture

In some families, pieces of antique furniture have passed from one household to another for generations. Here, you’ll need to do some research: note patterns and other design elements; take pictures; compare them against known styles of furniture your parents/grandparents/great-grandparents would have bought.

By doing this, you’ll give your appraiser all the info needed to make their job easier. Depending on their condition, it could be worthless – or many thousands of dollars.

(29) Vintage fashion

Still have the vintage Chanel dress your Mom gave you on your wedding day? If the tag is intact and the piece itself is in good condition, it could get you a great price. Some sites list sale prices well over 2,000 USD, but see an expert before getting too excited.

(30) Maps

Ever since we started exploring the Seven Seas, we’ve been making maps. You’re unlikely to find maps from the era of Captain Cook in your attic. However, if you have one in excellent shape that dates from the early 20th century or before, you could easily get a few hundred dollars for it.

How to Make Money with eBay When You Are in College

It has become more popular than ever before to have a “side hustle” while in college to cover day-to-day expenses or future investments. The reason for this is many students are trying to avoid piling up on student loans or are trying to fund their own start up entrepreneurial adventures. It is wise to carefully consider how to make additional money while in college. One such option to make additional income is to sell items on eBay. That said, it is quite complicated for many sellers to get started with selling on eBay due to so many established sellers and complicated setup procedures. In order to learn more about how to make extra money on e-Bay while you are in college, consider the information below:

How Can a Student Make Money Using eBay?

It is very important for students to have a clear strategy when they are trying to make money on eBay. Doing your homework will absolutely pay off when it comes to making money on eBay. The first idea is to see what older items you have that you would like to sell. Then, it is wise to take a look at what those items are selling for and how sellers in eBay are currently listing them. When setting up your auction, it is important to have it end when your buyers are online, which means having it end on weekends and not during the middle of the night. When considering your first price, it is best to list it at $0.99 and then to have a reserve price. This will get your item more views and if it does not sell for what you want, you still can list it again. Take very clear pictures of what you are trying to sell so your buyers will gain your trust. On your first few sales, make sure you ship quickly and that your item is exactly as it is described. This will help you to build your feedback score to remain competitive amongst buyers.

Top Student eBay Success Stories

People are quickly realizing that it is quite easy to sell items on eBay for a profit. One such example is former student Nicolaus Wolfrum who decided to sell used and remanufactured inventory from his father’s automotive machine shop in addition to new inventory that the machine’s shop providers would provide. Due to the success of Wolfrum’s eBay store, he was able to focus on his studies and have a way to afford his expenses in college while making a decent profit on the side. As a result of Wolfrum’s incredible success, he was selected as a finalist in the Young Entrepreneur category at the eBay SHINE Awards for Small Businesses. Wolfrum is a great example of someone who found an unexpected revenue niche while in college and may have even found his career as a result of starting a business on eBay while in college.  

How Much Time & Money Should You Invest on eBay?

What is important to understand about selling on eBay is that it does cost money to list items. It also costs money to have perks on your listing. What you have to weigh is whether the projected selling price of the item is worth the listing fees and PayPal fees required to complete the sales transaction. Generally, you should budget 20-30% of the selling price to eBay in fees. In terms of timing, using eBay’s App is faster to list items. Investing time and money on eBay sales absolutely is worthwhile while you are in college. Consider giving eBay 15-20% of your time to generate a nice little side revenue stream while in college.

Concluding Remarks on the Subject

Selling on eBay provides many opportunities for college students to earn extra capital while in school. If students sell their old items or use extra income they have to invest in stock to sell on eBay, they may be able to build a sizeable business on eBay that goes beyond covering expenses while in university. The key that each college student has to consider is which kind of items they are able to sell that they have either a passion for or an expertise in. In Nicolaus Wolfrum’s case, his passion for car parts ended up creating an incredible business for him that covered his college expenses and later, launched into a possible career path.

Today, the potential for entrepreneurs to get started while in college is phenomenal. By considering which platforms are possible to make additional capital on, individuals have the potential to start their own business through successful sales without having to take out traditional business loans. While in college, it is absolutely worthwhile to consider how to use eBay to increase a student’s quality of life or overall profit.

Staying Away From Debt in College – A How To Guide

debt in college

Life in America is more expensive than it ever has been. Food, healthcare, transportation – the costs of these necessities and others have shot up considerably over the past generation while wages/salaries have remained stagnant.

This hasn’t stopped Americans from living their best lives, though. Where incomes are not able to afford things outright, credit cards have filled the void. Near zero interest rates and subprime mortgages/car loans have convinced people to buy properties/vehicle they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Similarly, easy access to student loans has helped young people to overcome the soaring cost of education.  Costing less than $1,000 USD/year in 1980, today’s students shell out more than $20,000/year on average. If education tracked inflation, students would be paying approximately $2,100/year to go to school.

As a result of this lofty numbers, many students graduate with five or even six-figure debt burdens. This is a troubling trend, as student loans are exceptionally difficult to discharge through bankruptcy. In this post, we’ll define the student debt problem, discuss ways to keep this number low, and you can pay down your balance as quickly as possible post-graduation.

College has never been tougher

Unless you have wealthy parents, you’ll probably have to apply for a student loan. The days when you could pay for your tuition by working a summer job are long gone – average tuition costs at public universities have now crept above $10,000/year. Good luck finding a gig that pays $2,500 per month, never mind one that allows you to save that amount.

The stakes have never been higher. The employment market, despite low unemployment rates, is a tough one, as Millennials and members of Generation Z are competing for an ever-shrinking number of lucrative positions in fields like tech and engineering.

Unsurprisingly, students are under an enormous amount of stress these days. They devote as much time as possible to their studies, only taking time for extracurricular activities that complement their resume. To score a decent-paying entry-level job, getting top grades is a must.

Those who miss out are left to take whatever jobs they can find. Many of these positions are only available on a contractual basis, are poorly paid, offer few (if any) benefits, and have schedules that don’t guarantee set hours from week-to-week.

These are just a few of the factors working against students nowadays. Yet, given the paucity of opportunities for those with high school diplomas, many young people feel like they have no other choice but to take on a five or six-figure debt load – and hope it all works out in the end.

Keeping the debt monster in check

So, you need to take on debt to finance your post-secondary education. This doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of wage slavery, though – by adopting a few crucial habits early on, you can avoid drowning in an ocean of red ink after college.

(1) Avoid credit cards – Avoid credit card peddlers like the plague. These predators lurk in student centers and unions at the start of every school year, hoping to prey on the ignorance of those who lack life experience.

Listen – you’re already tens of thousands of dollars in the red. Going deeper in the hole will only make things worse. When you look at the fine print, you’ll find that these cards charge absurd interest – 20-30% annual rates are not uncommon.

Fail to pay off your balance once (one crazy night at the bar is all it takes), and charges will add up faster than you could ever imagine. Live within your means – if you don’t have the cash for something, don’t buy it. 

(2) Get a part-time job – As discussed earlier, some students feel the need to devote themselves fully to their studies. As a result, they don’t think they have room in their schedule to accommodate a part-time job.

It’s possible to excel in your studies, belong to a club, and be employed – it’s all in how you manage your time. Parkinson’s Law states that any task will expand to fill the time frame allotted for its completion. Working 15-20 hours per week will limit the amount of time you have to write papers, do homework, and study, forcing you to focus on the essentials.

This will not just improve your finances, but your grades as well. According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, students who worked 20 hours per week or less logged an average GPA of 3.13, compared to the 3.04 achieved by their jobless counterparts.

Pair that with the $150-$200 per week a good part-time gig can get you, and you’ll get through college in better shape than many of your classmates.       

(3) Refinance your loan – Most young people have little to no credit history. As a result, interest rates charged on student loans can be shockingly high. Fortunately, this can be fixed soon after graduation; about a year into your first job, shop around for a financial institution that will refinance your student debt. Having your rate dropped from 6% to 4.5% will save you about $750 per year in interest payments, amounting to $15,000 over a 20-year repayment period.

Good habits key to a prosperous future

Adopting solid financial habits in college will set you up for the rest of your life. By keeping yourself busy in school, you won’t be fazed by work projects that overwhelm many fellow entry-level workers. This will help you stand out to your superiors, paving the way for a promotion early in your career.

Additionally, there is enormous pressure to keep up with the Joneses post-college. By resisting the temptation to have the latest cars, clothes, and gadgets, you’ll have all the money you’ll need to pay off your student debt ahead of schedule.

Habits, good or bad, have a ripple effect. By sowing the seeds of responsible time & financial management, you’ll reap a bountiful harvest in the years and decades to come.

How to Start Your Own YouTube Channel and Make Money

youtube logo

Finding a job that works around a crazy college schedule can be difficult. But many students need the extra income to help cover tuition, books and other living expenses while in school. Many have taken to the idea of work that has flexible hours and the ability to work at home or on the go. Several different options are out there for the taking for just about any college student or individual willing to do some work to make some money. Some people have opted to use their cars as a means for making money through Uber or Lyft. Another option is to blog or create a YouTube channel. These two options are similar in their means that they can be done anywhere and at anytime. YouTube provides an easier platform for gaining an audience, since people will use YouTube like Google as a search engine for videos.

Finding a Niche for Youtube

You have decided to create a YouTube channel to help cover costs of school, but you need to find an idea that you are capable of doing with little to no research. Something you can record and do on the fly… There are tons of ideas out there already! Just because the idea is taken absolutely does not mean you can not copy it and create your own audience. With personality and a good idea people will watch your channel. Where there is an audience, money can be made! If someone else has already done it, it can make it easier for people to find your channel while they are searching for the other popular channels.

Popular ideas for starting your own channel include:

Live streaming of video games: Gamers will watch other games, just like people watch football on Sundays. It may seem strange but it’s true.

Bloopers: Video yourself trying new and strange things or products some may be successful ventures, but the ones that will get you the most views are the ones with unfortunate mishaps.

Cooking: Young people no longer have access to home ec. classes and people now use YouTube videos to learn how to cook. This gives you three different options a day seven days a week as chances to build your portfolio on your channel by recording what you were going to do anyway: cook and eat!

Your audience is worldwide, and the ideas are endless! The ability to work from home or anywhere is great! However, as any successful entrepreneur will tell you, the work can take over. While you can work anywhere anytime, it doesn’t mean you should or have to. Many entrepreneurs find themselves working 80 hour a week for themselves instead of setting limits. While you CAN work anywhere and anytime it isn’t always the best way to get ahead. Working for yourself can also be lonely, while many people are watching you, you actually aren’t getting real social interaction that you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to get out of the house, your basement, your office or where ever you record and enjoy life outside too!

Once your channel starts getting views and then you can eventually start earning an income. You can do it through advertising, subscriptions, selling your own merchandise et al. Your channel can be a great source passive income on past work, but you want to keep moving forward because the fad of your channel may lose its luster and the income could eventually dwindle away. It is rare that people become multi-millionaires through their channels, but don’t let that deter you from trying to get a piece of the YouTube pie!

Some notable success stories that you may not have heard of with success with YouTube and beyond are:

Blippi

Blippi: This guy started making videos for toddlers back in 2014. He shows them places to play and how to play. Stevin John is Blippi and discovered that his nephew was watching low budget and low quality shows on YouTube and wanted to create something fun for him to watch. His desire to provide entertainment for his nephew grew to 2.8 million subscribers and has been viewed over 2.34 billion times!

His background in online marketing and digital creation has definitely paid off! Now instead of a one man show, he has a team of people behind Blippi helping him make his videos. He has not lost that touch even after great success for engaging children in watching him on his channel. He is like the modern day Mr. Rodgers for kids who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. He talks to you as if you are with him and takes you on his adventures. As a well loved child character he is regularly requested as a character to meet with Make-A-Wish Foundation. All of this in only 4 years!

Ryan Toys Review

Ryan Toys Review: Ryan is a young child and his parents record him opening and playing with new toys. Thus, giving the public an honest review of toys from a child’s perspective. Ryan Toys Review started back in 2015, Ryan asked his mother why he wasn’t on YouTube when there are so many other kids that are on YouTube. She soon decided to leave her full time job as a chemistry teacher to work on building Ryan Toy Review. Clearly a good financial decision as of December 2018 the channel has seventeen million subscribers and the channel videos have been viewed over twenty-six billion times.

The channel is ranked as highest paid YouTube channel for 2018! They only just started this 3 years ago. YouTube was a lifestyle changer for their entire family. They have now brought in his twin sisters to help review toys and doing regular child friendly videos.

Philip DeFranco

Philip DeFranco: This guy records himself talking about what he has read in the news and his personal reactions to it. With a totally different audience than the two previously mentioned YouTubers, DeFranco started his channel back in 2006. His subscribers are much older than the other two YouTubers, but this could also be because adults are much more likely to remember video channels without having to ‘subscribe’ to them. He has 6.32 million subscribers and has been viewed 2.51 billion times.

He has been nominated for numerous awards and even won some as well, like Sexiest Geek in 2008 by Wired and a regular nominee and winner for the Streamy Awards from 2010-2018. He won in categories Best News Series, Best News and Culture Series, Audience Choice for Best Series of the Year, and News and Current Events.

Each of these people once all started exactly where you are today. Their education and backgrounds did not impact their desire to build an audience and build it. The old saying ‘If you build it they will come’ if definitely true if you have a good idea and can deliver it in a way that your audience will want to watch! They wanted to make some extra money and be in control of their project. Anyone can start a YouTube channel. You don’t have to be skinny, beautiful or even talented! You simply need a good idea and a personality that people will enjoy watching. If you are an amateur baker learning step by step or if you are just talking about what upset you in the news today. People will watch! So get started today, and yes there is a video on YouTube on how to get started on YouTube!

How to start a freelance business the right way

freelance business

The typical 9-5 office job lacks the glamour it once had. It once provided the income, prestige, and fulfillment that once defined the American Dream – not anymore. These days, stagnant salaries, 12-hour work days, and piles of soul-crushing work are becoming the norm.

Is that all there is?

No. There are people who still enjoy their careers in 2018, but many have chosen to build theirs from the ground up. The freelancing revolution is in full swing – by 2020, 43% of all workers in America will be self-employed.

Want to join them? Below, we’ll talk about everything you’ll need to address before you can make your favourite coffee shop your new office.

Find an overlap between your skills and what the market needs

Writing, graphic design, web development – these are just a few areas in which you can specialise as a freelancer. To succeed, though, it is vital to research your target market’s needs. Or maybe you like being in front of a camera and create a Youtube channel.

If hundreds of writers in a specific region are churning out the same content, it will be tough for you to make ends meet.

On the other hand, finding someone who writes quality ad copy can be difficult. Specialise in this niche, and you will be able to earn much more per project than lower skilled writers.

Whether it is writing technical documents for oil & gas companies, coding SaaS apps, or creating covers for e-book authors, a lucrative income can be found at the intersection of your skill set and the needs of the market.

Name your price

The temptation to undercut the competition can be overwhelming – don’t do it. First, most established freelancers are too well-connected to worry about having future work opportunities ‘stolen’ from them. Second, underpricing oneself can create a poverty trap that can be tough to escape from.

To figure out a fair rate for your skill set, research the websites of colleagues who do similar work. If their fees aren’t displayed, contact them as a ‘customer’. This may feel awkward but remember – successful freelancers get dozens of e-mail messages every day.

You will be far from the first person who ghosted them after sending over their rate card. If this bothers you, be transparent about your intentions – many freelancers are happy to help out their brethren.

Create a high-quality website

It is not enough to be on social media. A website gives self-employed professionals a platform to sell themselves to clients around the world. On it, you can break down the services you offer, showcase your work in a portfolio, display testimonials, and more.

Don’t think you have the technical prowess to set up a website? It has never been easier for everyday people to get their own web portal up and running thanks to WordPress.

Web hosts like Bluehost and HostGator offer a streamlined installation process that usually takes less than five minutes – you don’t need to be a nerd to set up a website these days.

Can’t afford to set up your own domain? Establish a web presence for free on WordPress.com or Blogger. While we recommend having your own space, this is a quick way to get on the web for no cost.

Once you are ready to show your site off to the world, optimise your site’s SEO, buy some Google Ads,  get on social media, and print business cards – these steps and others will make it easier for clients to find your home on the web.

Learn about taxes

taxes

As an employee, taxes are something you never have to think about. Every two weeks, the payroll department automatically deducts local and federal taxes, as well as entitlements. When you work for yourself, though, this responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders.

A newly-minted freelancer’s first tax season can be a painful one; not because of the amount they owe, but because they forgot to budget for it in the first place.

Make an appointment with an accountant before sending out a single invoice. They will educate you on the records you’ll need to keep, quarterly filing dates (if applicable in your area), tax breaks, and so on.

At minimum, calculate your effective tax rate and deduct this amount from your daily gross earnings. At month’s end, transfer everything that is owed into a segregated savings account. This way, you’ll avoid spending money that isn’t yours.

Prospect for clients

Now that you’ve learned how to set up, market, and run your freelance business, it’s time to get some clients. With any luck, some may have already reached out via your website. If not, it’s on you to find them.

But before calling or e-mailing every company in your area, take a second to think about the work you want to do.

You may be an ace at building websites, but if banking bores you to tears, taking on clients in finance might not be the best idea. If you constantly check out houses on your morning jog, though, designing sites for real estate agents might be a better fit.

Next, draft a solid pitch. Feel free to reuse it for multiple prospects, but leave plenty of room for customisation – nobody likes to receive a generic pitch e-mail they’ve seen dozens of times before.

Cut to the chase – quickly explain what skills you bring to the table, as well as the specific value you intend to deliver.

Keep a record of every business you contact. This way, following up unanswered pitches becomes easier. Most successful entrepreneurs are busy – sending them a gentle reminder two weeks later will increase the likelihood of a reply.

Cut the cord

Unless you have six to twelve months of expenses saved up, we don’t recommend quitting your job to start a freelance business. Instead, leverage your free time outside of work to build your practice on the side. This way, you’ll avoid having financial stress influence your decisions.

Once you have built up an income you can live on (as well as the six to twelve-month buffer mentioned above), schedule a meeting with the boss and turn in your two-week notice – the real work is about to begin!

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

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!

How to Travel Abroad for Cheap as a Student

asdasdOne of the biggest myths pertaining to travel is that it has to be expensive. The key to traveling on a budget as a student is to know what to spend your money on and what you should be not spending your money on. If you master this, you will be able to see double the locations in your travels. Here are my tips for how to travel abroad as a low-budget student:

  • The Hostel vs. the Hostal: For those going to the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world and do not necessarily want a low budget hostel, consider a hostal. Many non-Spanish speakers do not realize that a hostel and a hostal are not the same thing. A hostal in Spanish refers to a family owned bed and breakfast that is safe and economically. Additionally, these will give you more interaction with the locals. For example, in Madrid, one can get a Hostal for 25 Euros per night with a private room and bath that is one block from the Plaza Mayor. This is a hidden way to have the low-budget travel experience without having to stay in a room with six bunk beds.

 

  • Consider the Budget Airlines: If you are going to Europe or Southeast Asia, do not be afraid to go on the budget airlines. The key to be careful is with your luggage. Ideally, only bring a backpack and then you will not have to pay to check your luggage. Also, always print a physical copy of your boarding pass in order to avoid the fee by the airline. If you use these sometimes you can get a $1 ticket from Marseille to London or a $200 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris. Yes, these deals do exist and with a little creativity and intelligence, you will surely find them.

 

  • Hop-On-Hop Off Bus: These busses are in most cities that range from Europe to African cities. Where they are beneficial to a young traveler on a budget is that they eliminate transportation costs during the day that can save a great deal of money. For example, in Berlin or Cape Town, the sites are very spread out. What is best is to buy the unlimited one day or two-day pass for a set price and use the bus to get to the main sights. Usually, the bus will be positioned to hit the major points of the city and will allow you to get the lay of the land before going off on your own.

 

  • Look For the Menu of the Day: In many European countries they have lunch specials that include an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and a soda or glass of wine. Usually, you can find these specials for 10 EUR. This allows you to eat better, try the local food, and even wine taste in the process. Thus, avoid the fast food and get out there and eat good food for an affordable price.

What is important to remember as a student is that there is a cheap way to travel that is very different from traveling with your family. If you use this to your advantage, then you will absolutely be able to see a great deal of the world at a young age and add a great deal of depth to your life experiences.