Stretch your budget

Stretching Your Student Budget To The Max

Student debt in the US has skyrocketed to over $1.3 trillion in the past few years, with average student fees amounting to around $25,620 per year and top-tiered universities often setting individuals back around $60,000 a year. Education is a secure investment; as noted by U.S. News’ Deirdre Connelly, “…you don’t drop your most promising product simply to cut costs; which is essentially what we as a nation would be doing if we fail to provide the educational opportunities needed to secure a prosperous economic future.” Although it is a big challenge to make it through your college years without succumbing to financial stress, there are many seemingly small steps to take that can make a big difference in terms of providing relief.

stretch your student budget

Picking the right financial institution

A recent publication from Quartz, relying on information provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, found that one of the most common complaints on behalf of student borrowers is a lack of flexibility when it comes to repayment options. From the time you decide to take out a loan, it is vital to conduct research into different payment options and possible refinancing or consolidation options for students should the need arise. You can also look into other options to pay off debts in a more convenient way. If the topic of finance is not one you are comfortable navigating, consider enlisting the help of family members who specialize in areas such as loans and similar transactions or think about hiring a financial advisor for this specific purpose.

Stretch your student budget to the max

Technological help

There’s an app for that… including your student loan. In fact, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to budgeting for everything from entertainment to groceries, and college supplies. Some commonly downloaded apps for this purpose include Mint (which collects to your bank account and allows you to set many different budgets), Check (which ensures you remember to pay all your bills) and TextbookMe (which compares prices of textbooks so you can pay less for the same thing).

Keeping credit low and income high

Repaying your student loan is challenging but doable; it is still possible to have all you dreamed of: a home, a car, stability… whenever your loan isn’t inflated by unnecessary expenses. Try to rely on a debit card alone and if you do have credit cards, take a good look at the interest charged by each, ensuring those with higher interest rates are paid off first.

Research indicates that roughly a quarter of college students work full-time and study full-time, while around 40% of undergraduate students and 76% of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week. This can be tough, particularly if you are a parent and are struggling to get ahead. Still, the pay gap between college graduates and others are at a record high, which is inspiration enough to keep forging ahead.

Making the most of your student job involves cutting on luxuries, keeping a firm eye on your budget with the help of student apps, and trying your best to work while you study, as hard as it may be. If the need arises, consider part-time study; paying the bills and refraining from sliding further in debt should always be a top priority.

Guest posted by Jane West

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language learning

5 Ways to Learn A Language in Your Spare Time

Knowing a second language is a great asset. It can lead to better career opportunities and improve your brain function. However, learning to speak a new language can seem overwhelming. Most people do not have days or even hours to spend learning their target language.

 

The good news is that you can learn a new language without quitting your day job. By integrating some easy strategies into your spare time, you will become bilingual in no time. Do you have 20 minutes a day, or even just five? If the answer is yes, you have exactly what you need to reach you language learning goals.

 

1

Duolingo

There’s an app for everything today. Language learning is no different. While many promise results, few are as comprehensive and accessible as Duolingo.

 

Duolingo covers all the bases of language learning–reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This gamified platform keeps you motivated and engaged. Set a daily goal and track your progress.

 

This is microlearning at its finest and it really works!

 

2

Watch videos in target language

Watching your favorite television show may be the way you unwind at the end of a long day. Television and movies is an excellent way to learn a language because you will learn by immersion, the same way babies learn language.

 

Video streaming services such as Amazon offer a variety of movies and television series in many languages. (Listening to radio or a podcast is also a great way to learn, however having the visuals of a show really helps in the learning process) Find one you enjoy and start to learn without trying.

 

3

Join a Facebook group

Love it or hate it, Facebook is a resource for connecting people around the world. Aside from learning the latest news and marketing your business, Facebook can be a way to learn new skills, like a new language. Many groups exist for language learners to interact with each other and practice.

 

This method takes only minutes a day, but give you real world experience for free, without leaving your home. Simply search for a conversation group in your target language, for instance “French learners conversation group.”

 

4

Play a game

Learning should be fun! Playing a game, whether virtual or a good old fashioned board game is a perfect way to practice language skills and pick up new vocabulary. Try playing a classic, like Uno, but use your new color and number vocabulary. Or, find a game produced in the target language and play your way to your learning goal.

 

5

Read in the target language

It may seem that reading is something that comes late in language learning, however reading in the target language is the best way to learn vocabulary in context and also develop an understanding of grammar.

 

Start small, as in kids books, and work your way up from there. Reading for just a short time each day will really boost your learning efforts and give you greater confidence in conducting conversation. It will also teach you everyday language and cultural norms.

 

Do you have a goal of learning a new language in 2018? Have any tips to share?

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