Category Archives: How to Pay College Tuition

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.

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!

College Side Hustles: How to make money from writing

writing for money

With the rising cost of going to college, working while going to college is more the norm than it used to be. After the housing market recession students are more aware of their financial situations and trying to keep from graduating with mounds of debt. Many will try to pay for their classes during the semester after securing a student loan to cover the upfront costs. Students have crazy class schedules that can make it difficult to find employment to help cover their bills.

Freelancing:

Students often don’t realize that they have a skill that they have been developing for years, writing. From grade school through high school students have been working on mastering the skill of writing, whether they wanted to or not. Being a freelance writer can be the ‘write’ fit for a lot of students. Freelancing works around your crazy school schedule because you can write for a client a 2 am or at 10 am between classes. You can literally work wherever with your laptop by your side and Wi-Fi on campus.

Job Market:

You can find a job just about anywhere. There are job boards created just for freelancers. Every website on the Internet has content that they either need to update or create. Some sites will pay top dollar to have great content. Others will pay low rates but spend more time correcting and editing a freelancer’s work. There are a myriad of types of contract work available.

Pay for writing depends a lot on the content being written about and the experience of the writer. As a freelancer you can decide what your time is worth when you write. Some content positions will pay $0.05 per word; others can pay up to $0.25 per word. If a client asks you to write a 1,000 word article you charge them $.05 and it takes you two hours two write maybe a little longer you have just earned $50. If you were working for minimum wage you would need to work about 7 hours to earn $50. Clearly the minimum starting pay for writers is better than the US minimum wage. If you write faster, the higher your hourly rate is.

Experience isn’t always required. You have papers you have written for college and other projects, this is already a beginning of a portfolio. Just because it wasn’t paid work doesn’t mean it can’t be used to help get you that first writing job.

There are inexpensive classes you can take that will teach you how to become a freelance writer. Earn More Writing is an example of this type of course. It has several levels of courses you can take and can be done in a relatively short period of time. You are also learning from someone who currently makes a living at freelance writing, who has taken the time to share her knowledge.

While you can figure out how to freelance all on your own, you will save time, energy and money by taking a course on how to become a freelance writer.

What Should I Write About?

When you are just starting out you should write about topics you already know about. Maybe you just took a class on a subject that really interested you; this is a great starting point to build a portfolio. You shouldn’t write about things that do not interest you as your writing may be affected by your lack of interest for the topic. Keep in mind if you write about something that isn’t fun the rate per word could be higher, so you could earn more for your work.

Pitching clients can happen in lots of different forms. You can send cold pitches to websites or companies. You might not hear back, but then you might hear back right away. Dealing with rejection or just no reply at all is a good thing to learn early on.

Having an Online Presence:

Creating a portfolio of your work doesn’t have to be fancy. You need a simple site, and you can even use a WordPress site for free to begin to market your writing. Create a bio explaining you are in college and what your interests are and you can link some of your writing you have done for school to start in your portfolio. Once you get some online published work you will want to add this to your portfolio. Alternatively, you can also create a YouTube channel where you can share from your experiences to others.

Freelancing while you are in college is a great way to earn some side money or even enough to pay your tuition. The ability you have to market yourself and time you have available are really the only things you need to get started. You can write whenever and wherever. The flexibility is endless when it comes to freelancing.

The Costs of a College Education

College education is not cheap; the cost seems to increase each year and the level of debt as recorded by student loan statistics confirm this. The $1 trillion involved is truly staggering. That of course excludes details of the money lent to students by their parents and other revenue raised to allow students to complete their education as a prelude to career. The chances of a successful career are perceived to increase for graduates but they mostly face repaying their debts as their pay checks begin to come in.

It is essential that a student and his or her parents do some research to obtain the money required unless it has already been safely saved anticipating the future needs. That can be difficult and the recession certainly destroyed many family’s savings.

Alternative Loans Specific to Education

The Federal Stafford Loan is competitive. Those who qualify get subsidized; the interest is paid by the Government for the time the student is still at college. Unsubsidized loans are available to all and interest deferred. The loan rate is capped at 8.25% but is variable. The amount that can be borrowed varies from student to student but is never more than $31,000 in total. Parent PLUS Loans and Perkins Loans are two other avenues of finance while private loans generally require a co-signatory. The latter are particularly aimed at needy students and their numbers have also increased since the recession struck a few years ago.

Other Revenue Sources

Parents can re-mortgage their homes as another alternative though the problems that the real estate market experienced during the recession has meant that the level of equity that many families owned was reduced and is just recovering. There is sometimes a cash element to an insurance policy or the chance of withdrawing a sum from the 401K Retirement Fund though the latter has an impact on retirement provisions and that can be a dangerous move.

That should be a last resort. Everyone needs to make proper provision for retirement and keep making contributions. That is a discipline that should lead to a comfortable retirement and that is less likely to happen if people draw money back out for other use.

Pay Off Expensive Debt

If you have a child in his or her mid-teens who is almost certain to continue on to college before starting to work then you should be making the suitable preparations to ensure their time can be funded. If recent years have been difficult because of the recession then it may be a challenge. What is certain is that if you are to help in any significant way then you need to look at your financial position and make some appropriate decisions. Certainly you need to get rid of any expensive debt you may currently funding. A common example is a credit card balance that incurs a high rate of interest each month. You can pay such amounts off with a personal loan at a much lower rate of interest if you have a regular income and appear capable of making the repayment instalments throughout the agreed term of the loan.

A Good Budget

It highlights the absolute need for everyone to have a budget and the discipline to follow it. It must show you are ‘balancing the books’ to start with mindful that if there are imminent education costs to add there may be the necessity to make economies elsewhere. The personal loan is one part of that. Certainly other household expenditure may be reduced by seeking more competitive utility suppliers, insurance premiums and telephone network costs.

The budding student can perhaps contribute as well? There are part-time jobs available now that the economy is improving. Those parents who have instilled the value of money into their children at an early age may well find that as teenagers they are more than willing to do a little work and they may have saved money themselves in addition.

There is certainly great merit in continuing education and with a little financial prudence it should be affordable. The benefits should come in the future with the prospects of a higher paid job as a result of graduating before going into the jobs market.

I’m Writing My First Book – Help Keep me Accountable

my first book

Part requirement for my Master’s thesis, part lifelong dream, part income generation tool, and part social promotion strategy; my first non-fiction book is currently under development. As part of my Master’s course work, I have known that this day would come for a few years now. Getting to this point however, has been a struggle, and it is hard to believe this is actually happening.

Regardless of all of that, the first pages have been written and my book is under way!

I don’t have a title chosen yet, although the working title is “The Smart Way to Pay for College, Post Great Recession”. Please let me know if you have any brilliant ideas for a title.

As you can likely deduce from the working title, the book is a non-fiction guide to helping students, parents, and other family members make smart decisions with college financing. I introduce some unconventional means of raising money to pay for college, and hope to provide a great resource for anyone struggling with the rising costs of college.

I hope that this book can be a handbook to paying for college in 2013 and beyond. The college finance landscape has changed dramatically in the last 5 years, and old tactics won’t work any more. We need to re-tool our thinking if we want to have any hope of being able to afford college when our children decide to go.

As much as I would like, this book’s goal is not to battle the high cost of college tuition. That is a separate beast and one that I can’t tackle alone. My goal however, is to help you manage those rising costs and find ways to negate the rise in college tuition.

Where You Come In

The entire purpose of my book is to help you (students, parents, grandparents, or others) understand and better manage the college finance system.

This is my full-time profession so I feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the hot button issues, but I crave your help in letting me know what questions you have!

What are the burning questions you have about paying for college?

What makes you the most angry about the college finance process?

If you could change one thing (besides getting free tuition…) what would it be?

What are your views on working while going to school?

Do you plan to take out student loans?

I also plan to post outlines, chapters, and excerpts from my ongoing book project here on Money for College Project. My goal is to hold myself accountable to you through my blog, and I hope you will help by calling me out on my progress, and checking in to see how things are coming.

Oh, and if you would be up for an interview let me know because I need to conduct a number of them!

Student Loan Interest Rates Doubled! Are You Ready?

student loan deferments

By now you have likely heard that last Friday, Congress failed to pass an extension which would keep student loan interest rates low. Because of this failure, yesterday, Stafford Subsidized student loans doubled in interest rate from 3.4% to 6.8%!

Yes, these are the loans that are made available to students who come from low to middle income families and also qualify for the Federal Pell Grant. Yes, these are need based loans that just received a doubling of their interest rates.

Both isles of Congress seem fairly set on passing legislation that will reduce these interest rates back to their former levels, but for now, the infighting has prevented any actual measures being passed. Until Congress takes action and changes this interest rate back, any new Stafford loan disbursements made after July 1, 2013 will be under the new interest rate increase. The good news is that if Congress does pass this measure, it would be retroactive in time for the upcoming Fall 2013 semester. So please let your Congressman know how much you would like the interest rates to stay at 3.4%.

What Should You Do?

Unfortunately, if you are in a situation where you need to take out student loans, there is really nothing that you can do. Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans are the most competitive interest rate student loans available, and their repayment options are by far the most flexible of any loan type you will find. If you need a student loan, this is still your best choice for a loan.

You can however, try to guard yourself from having to take out student loans at all. You should always max out any “free” financial aid before you consider student loans as an option. Many financial aid award packages automatically bundle student loans in with your financial aid award, but you do not have to be so quick to borrow.

You can maximize your scholarships searching by checking out the free listings at your local library, your high school guidance counselor, your department at college, or your professors. These resources are often excellent resources for scholarships, that not many other folks think to explore.

You could also consider becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business to pay your way through college. You could buy and sell used textbooks, you could start a furniture moving company moving stuff into and out of dorm rooms, you could start a computer repair service on campus, you could start a mobile coffee cart business, or you could freelance write online for some extra cash.

All of these methods will earn you money which you can then use to pay your tuition outright. In my mind, there is not much more satisfying than working hard and paying cash for something you are passionate about. Paying your own way through college also makes you appreciate what you are paying for and will likely help you be more invested in your education. You will also pick up some very valuable business skills, and develop an entrepreneurial mindset that will benefit you throughout your entire life.

Weekly Roundup: Writing Inspiration Edition

I had dinner with an old friend last night, and during our conversation he told me that he had published a book last year. I was floored. It was a fiction novel, and he wrote the entire book in about 9 months. We started talking about his writing and publishing experience, and I found out that he has published using a print on demand service, and is currently selling about 125 books a month on Amazon!

As we talked further, he told me that he has hired a narrator who is currently recording an audiobook version of his novel, and he has even been approached by a producer who is considering purchasing the rights to the book to make a movie. Needless to say, I had to find out more!

We talked for a few hours about the entire process, and before the night was over I was completely inspired to go out and get published myself.

I’ve had dreams of being published before, non-fiction rather than fiction, but I have never felt I had the motivation to actually do it. Rekindling an old friendship and knowing someone who is very similar to me has gone through the process successfully, was all the motivation I needed to start typing words into my new non-fiction book.

So here is to keeping up the progress, and hopefully I can report back within the next year that I have published my first book!

Here is what went on at Money for College Project as well as with my Yakezie friends. Enjoy!

Money for College Project

 

[button link=”http://www.moneyforcollegeproject.com/2013/06/24/weekly-roundup-expensive-landscaping-edition/” color=”red”]Weekly ROundup[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://www.moneyforcollegeproject.com/2013/06/26/10-ways-to-earn-1000-extra-per-month/” color=”red”]7 Ways to Earn $1000 Per Month[/button]

 

 

 

Yakezie Friends

 

[button link=”http://www.edwardantrobus.com/2013/personal/blue-collar-money-manifesto” color=”green”] Edward Antrobus – Blue Collar Money[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://funancials.biz/how-i-started-investing-in-the-stock-market/” color=”green”] Funancials – How I Started Investing[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://www.ontargetcoach.com/winners-wake-up-early-im-joining-the-5-club/” color=”green”] On Target Coach – The 5 Club[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://www.debtroundup.com/this-is-why-i-save-money/” color=”green”]Debt Roundup – Why I Save[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://knsfinancial.com/traffic-light-camera-scam/” color=”green”] KNS Financial – Traffic Light Camera Scam[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://fatfreepersonalfinance.com/2013/06/12/stop-comparing-your-rent-payment-to-a-mortgage-payment/” color=”green”] Fat Free Finance – Stop Comparing Rent to Mortgage[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://momanddadmoney.com/2013/06/liebster-award.html” color=”green”] Mom and Dad Money – Liebster Award[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://www.stackingbenjamins.com/planning-your-future-sketch-out-your-goals/” color=”green”] Stacking Benjamins – Sketch Your Goals[/button]

 

 

[button link=”http://tiethemoneyknot.com/should-you-use-money-to-bribe-your-adult-kids-to-behave-the-way-you-want-them-to/” color=”green”] Tie The Money Knot – Bribe Your Kids[/button]

7 Ways to Earn $1000 Extra Per Month

earn extra money

Wouldn’t it be great to earn $1000 per month, or more, extra each month?

What freedom would that open up in your monthly budget, in your savings goals, in your wealth creation scheme, in your retirement planning, in your vacation or new car fund?

Regardless of what you would use it for, all of us could use an extra $1000 per month. The trick, is figuring how to actually make that happen. I don’t have any magic formulas here, and certainly no tricks or scams. The ideas I have listed below are all ones that I have either personally tried, or know of folks who have done successfully. Many of these ideas may not be full-time business material, but that is not our goal. Our goal is to create a “muse” or an income generating vehicle that will produce at least $1,000 extra per month, while not take consuming all of our time.

Here are my ideas:

1. Rent Scooters and Bicycles to College Students

College students hate bringing their bulky bicycles down to campus and they hate bringing their expensive scooters from their homes. They also hate having to drive a full size car onto campus, and pay for the ridiculously high parking pass and the unavoidable parking fines. The solution is to buy a collection of used bicycles (both mountain and road bikes) and rent them out to college students. You would charge an upfront fee that would cover the lease for the entire 9 or 12 month school year. You could also rent out scooters, although these would take much more of a significant upfront investment. Your quickest path to profitability is to buy used bikes, and rent these out for $20 to $30 per month. At $20 per month, you would only need to rent out 50 bikes to reach your $1000 per month income goal.

2. Sell Informational Products

You can sell an informational product on any topic, to virtually anyone. If you think hard enough, I can virtually guarantee you that you have a skill that someone would pay you for. Even if this is a physical skill such as woodworking landscaping, plumbing, or fixing cars, these skills can easily be transitioned into informational products. The key to making at least $1,000 per month selling informational products is just that, the ability to sell them. You will need a vehicle for selling, such as a website or a blog, and you will need to understand internet marketing. The upside is huge with this route, and I believe one of the big futures in internet marketing.

3. Create a Membership Site

Similar to the information products above, a membership site allows you to bring in members who pay a monthly subscription fee to be in your special club online. They are willing to pay this fee for the value they receive. This could include exclusive material, private mentoring sessions, one on one examples and coaching, or access to the private membership community. You can base this membership site around any products or genre, but be sure it is one that you are confident you can add value to. Membership sites can be an excellent way to make money, but the members can also be fickle and turn on you if they do not receive the value they expected.

4. Buy and Re-Sell on Craigslist

Last year I was trying to buy a small pressure washer off of Craigslist. I found one I liked, went to the guys’s house, and bought the machine. WHile I was there, I noticed a Stihl chainsaw in his garage. I asked him if this was also for sale, and for how much. He told me yes, he would take $40. I knew the real value, so I offered him $40 and took both machines home. The next day I turned around and listed the Stihl chainsaw for $200 back on Craigslist. I had over 10 calls/emails, and sold it that next day for $190. I made a $150 profit within 48 hours. This can be done consistently through Craigslist as long as you are knowledgeable about the products you are buying. If I was able to replicate this resell 6 times, I would have almost reached my $1,000 mark.

5. Re-Sell Used Textbooks

I do this every semester, and generally make between $1500 to $2000. The trick is to buy textbooks from college students at the end of each semester. I usually hang around the book buy-back trailers around any college campus and find the students walking away from the trailers with books still in tow. Campus bookstores will not buy back a book that has not been requested for the next semester, but that book is still valuable. Often times college students are willing to get a fraction of the value for the book because they are so mad they cannot re-sell their book. Once you have purchased these books from the students, you can then turn around and list these books on Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, or any number of other book retailers. It involves shipping the books, but it is a great way to make some extra cash.

6. Create a Directory Website for Local Businesses

This is an idea that I have been experimenting with, and am excited about for the future. If you can create a directory website for a local niche business, then you can easily sell marketing space on that website to these same local businesses. The key is to ensure that your website ranks well in search engines for the search terms your customers care about. For example, if you build a website around Nashville Wedding Photography, and your site ranks on the first page of all Google search results for that term, then you can easily sell ad space to all Nashville wedding photographers. Depending on your traffic, you can easily charge anywhere from $30 – $200 per month for a business listing. With a large amount of traffic, you could easily reach $1,000 per month.

7. Perform SEO Services for Real Estate Agents

This sounds like a very niche market, but I can guarantee you that if you spend any amount of time as a blogger, or content editor online then you undersand SEO much better than a real estate agent does. However, for them, their livelihood is increasingly dependent on SEO. Internet traffic now drives the largest percentage of home buyers to their prospective homes. A realtor’s website is their golden ticket. If it ranks well for their local area they can easily see their business double or triple from what it had been previously. This is where you come in. You can offer your SEO services to a real estate agent for a monthly fee. This could include submitting their sites to listing directories, writing blog posts, ensuring their site is optimized properly, tagging their pictures with meta tags, and installing SEO software into their website. Even though you may not be an SEO expert, you will be viewed as one by the vast majority of Real Estate Agents.

How to Negotiate Your Financial Aid Package

money for college project

This is the time of year when the rubber meet the roads for college admissions. At this point in the year, most college freshman have already committed to their college of choice. You have paid the admission deposit, you have signed up for Orientation, you are registering for classes, and you are making plans to move into the dorms in August. The final piece of this on-boarding process is your financial aid and your student bill.

Most colleges send out their incoming freshman financial aid award letters well ahead of their returning students. This is done for a number of reasons, but mainly for recruiting purposes. Incoming freshman need to know what financial aid they have been offered in order to accurately assess the best college for them.

SO what do you do when you receive your financial aid award letter? It is negotiable? Can you contact the financial aid office and request/demand that they give you more funds? Are there awards that you can swap out or adjust?

The answer is yes to all of the above.

Demand More Scholarships and Grants

This process will vary from one school to the next but if you have received competitive academic scholarships, you will likely have room to negotiate these amounts. The trick is that you will need to determine who awards the scholarships and who sets their levels. Often, the financial aid counselor you will speak with when calling the financial aid office, cannot adjust anything for you. They will tell you that your awards were ran though the “packager” which looks at a large list of criteria, and you were awarded everything you qualified for. This is true, but there are ways around it.

If you received scholarships from a department, from a program (such as the Honors College, or Graphic COmmunications…) you can contact that department or program directly to request an increase. As these programs manage their funds independently, they are often more flexible in increasing awards than the financial aid office is.

This process also depends on the type of school you choose to attend. A large public institution will be much less likely to be able to adjust your awards than a small private school would be.

The key here is whether or not your school is an enrollment drive school. This means that your school does not receive any state funding and relies solely on the tuition paid by their students for their operating budget. Enrollment drive private schools have a quota of students they must reach each semester, and they will go to great lengths  to keep you on their campus. You have a much more powerful negotiating position at a school of this type, than a large public institution.

Loans are Always Adjustable

If you have gone through the negotiation process and requested all of the free grant and scholarship money that you can, you can always adjust your student loans. Decreasing the amount of your student loans is as simple as putting this request in writing or an email to your financial aid office. Increasing this loan may be a bit trickier.

If you receive Direct Stafford Loans, and you have not reached your yearly maximum, you can contact your financial aid office and request an increase. As long as you have not met your cost of attendance for that semester, they will be able to increase your loan.

If you receive private student loans, or a Parent PLUS loan, and they have not certified the entire amount that you or your parent were approved for, then they can go back to increase this amount up to the maximum that was initially approved by the lender. This can be as simple as putting a request in an email and sending it to your financial aid office.

The Bottom Line

Negotiating your financial aid package is all based on your negotiating position. If you are a highly recruited students, or if you attend a small private school then you will have a much greater negotiating position.

However, every student has the right to negotiate their financial aid package. As with job offers, it is much easier to get the free money before you begin your college career than it is to ask for raises once you have already started.

It never hurts to ask!