The Ultimate Guide To Budgeting In College

Budgeting, as a concept, is very simple. You manage inputs and outputs, hopefully keeping the latter higher than the former.

If you’re anything like me, you learned the basics of budgeting when you were 10 years old by playing Age of Empires II. You had to manage the production of resources – wood, food, gold, and stone – in order to build new facilities, research technologies, and advance through the ages.

Eventually, you just typed in the cheat code for the red sports car with laser cannons and tore the Celts a new one. But, and it pains me to say this, there are no laser-shooting sports car cheats in real life.

In this life, budgeting is even more important. The lack of cheat codes and the general importance of having enough money to eat mean you need to have a little bit of budgeting competence. If you want to actually graduate from college and end up debt-free, well, you’ll need to know a bit more.

Today, I’ll impart my thoughts and experience in the realm of budgeting with an emphasis on doing it in college. As a student, you’ve got to deal with several factors that don’t come up in other stages of life – and you’ve generally got pretty small coffers to boot. Read More…

39 Ways You Can Cut The Cost Of College

Remember the Mega Maid from Spaceballs? 

You know, that star-cruising, colossal, maid-shaped ship with a gargantuan vacuum bent on stealing all the oxygen from an entire planet?

That’s what college is. College is a giant, evil space vacuum hell-bent on siphoning every last dollar you have into its infernal space-vacuum bag.

“Mom, why do I hear Rick Moranis laughing maniacally in my head every time I heat up a bowl of ramen?”

Think of your degree as your giant robot pilot’s license. With it, you might be able to take down the Mega Maid after graduation and get that money back.

I’m not going to tell you how to get your pilot’s license today. Instead, I’m going to give you a few rubber bands you can shoot at the maid, which might buy you some time to stash a bit of money where it can’t be sucked away.

Here are 39 ways you can cut the cost of college, which include:

  • Ways to massively reduce the cost of your education
  • Frugality tips, with useful tools
  • Methods of making money in college – which will help you take on less debt

Let’s do this. Read More…

Can You Pay Off Your Student Loans With Credit Cards And Go Bankrupt?

A friend of mine once told me about his scheme to take over the world, which he apparently hasn’t succeeded at yet.

Here’s the gist:

“Once I get good credit, I’ll apply for every credit card in the world and take cash advances from all of them. I’ll use the millions of dollars I get from this to create a global lottery. Everyone who swears undying loyalty to me will get one lottery ticket.”

You know, this plan seems like it might have a few holes…

Speaking of holes in plans, I’d like to talk about another “hack” I’ve been hearing about recently that involves taking cash advances from credit cards.

This particular plan’s goal is to attain student debt forgiveness in a roundabout way – since, I hope you’re aware, student loan debt is nigh-impossible to have forgiven (more on this later). Read More…

How To Enjoy Bars On A College Budget: 6 Tips That Will Save You Money

One night while walking the streets of Minneapolis, a dude who I’ll call Steve (because that was his name) stumbled up to my friend Zach, handed him a $100 bill, and said:

“Dude, my friend just got married and we’re going to have an awesome night. You guys should go have one as well.”

We didn’t know the guy at all.

Of course, that didn’t stop us from heading to the next bar and enjoying his $100 with lots of beer and a few games of pool. This story reminds me of a simple truth, though:

Going out to bars can be really expensive. And when you’re on a college budget, that can translate to “Oh crap, that was my rent” levels of expensive.

Luckily, they don’t have to be. Read More…

3 Ways To Counteract Increasing Student Loan Interest Rates

Congress is raising the rates on federal student loans again, and this time it looks like Obama won’t be able to stop it by hanging out with Jimmy Fallon. Libby Nelson wrote a great overview of the situation on Vox, which I’d recommend checking out.

The upshot, though, is that rates are going to rise. We will indeed see the 6.8% rate on undergrad loans – though the rate will rise gradually, hitting that point in 2018. For the July 2014 – July 2015 school year, the rate for undergrad loans will jump from the current 3.86% to 5.09%.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated that monthly payments will rise around $3/month with these new rates, resulting in a total increase of $355-$380 over ten years. That’s for every $5,000 a student owes – and the average student graduates owing quite a bit more.

Assuming you borrowed the maximum $27,000 as an undergrad, this rate hike would increase your payment an estimated $1,917 over ten years.

So, how do you counteract this? Read More…

The True, No-B.S. Cost of Student Loans (High Schoolers: Read This)

I’m going to manufacture a big, scary-ass dude for you to ponder right now. I need you to help me out by imagining him along with me.

His name is Lennie, and he’s a solid 6’5″, 270lb. of bricks, nails, and other things you’re not supposed to eat for breakfast. Lennie is a one-man goon squad. What he is not, is a man to be trifled with.

On the 31st of the month, Lennie is going to find you, grab you by your ankles, and shake $298 out of your pockets. Nothing personal, but it’s going to happen.

Oh, and he’s going to keep doing that every month for the next 10 years.


Alright, you can stop testing the absorptive capacity of your underwear now. Lennie doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, there’s still a very high chance that, minus the ankle-grabbing bit, this monthly shakedown is still going to happen to you. Read More…

The Value Of Value

Don’t you just hate it when ATMs charge you to take out your own money? It really grinds my gears, man. Really raises up that arterial tension, man.

A $2 fee at a different bank than yours is a pain. Having to pay $4 at a concert to put your mitts on one of your own Jacksons is an even greater injustice.

But that’s still chump change in the grand scope of things. Did you know there are places where you’ll have to pony up a whole $10 just to use the ATM? What kind of place could possibly drive someone to make this kind of sacrifice?

Strip clubs.

But more on that later. Right now I want to talk to you about the value… of value.

Sound confusing? Well, here’s the idea in it’s simplest form, in case you’re one of those high-strung types that can’t spare the time to read my prose in its entirety:

The cost of a product of service should be determined by the value it provides to the customer – NOT by how much effort goes into providing it.

The reason I’m dedicating an entire post to this simple idea is that far too many talented people – recent grads, entrepreneurs, freelancers, you name it – don’t understand it.

When you’re just starting out, you don’t have much experience in being paid for the work you do. This inexperience, coupled with the typical feelings of Impostor Syndrome that many beginners have, can cause you to sell yourself short.

So do yourself a favor: read this post and take it to heart. It could make a huge difference in your future income potential.

Read More…

Jimmy Wales Gives One Huge, Important Piece Of Advice To Us Kids

Most of you probably know Jimmy Wales as the founder of Wikipedia, which is quite possibly the single greatest repository of human knowledge ever created.

All of us who have had to write research papers in the past probably have Jimmy (along with the army of contributors to Wikipedia) to thank for getting us started. Even though our teachers always told us not to use Wikipedia, we did anyway.

What you might not know is that Wales is also an adviser for – and investor in – another great website: the question/answer site Quora.

Quora, along with other sites like the Stack Exchange network, has been a big help to me in the past. Before question/answer sites like these, I’d often have to go digging through forums when I wanted an answer to a question. For that reason, I’m a big fan of Quora, and I used to be a frequent contributor as well.

Anyway, I recently stumbled across this question on Quora: What advice would Jimmy Wales give to the next generation?

I absolutely loved Jimmy’s answer to this question. Read More…

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