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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strategies for keeping your brain active

How To Keep Your Brain Active After College

by guest blogger Kastle Huffaker

The real world is a tough world. Jobs aren’t easy to find, and you keep struggling to be as qualified as your competitors. Where do you go from here? How do you keep your head up above the rest? Here are a few ways that I’ve discovered to help keep my mind active and strong.

 

1. Pocket That Knowledge.

“Pocket” is this amazingly handy tool that lets you save articles, videos, and images you find as you are scrolling online. A lot of us come across something we want to read, but we don’t have the time. This is where you can “Pocket” that interesting article, or video you know you want to watch, and it saves it all. Then, you can come back later and checkmark it off your list. I use Pocket almost every day. I’ll pull up an article I want to read on my phone, and it will voice the article out loud to me as I’m doing other things.

Pocket comes in all shapes and sizes.

The best part – you can access your “Pocket” anywhere. I have the app on my phone. I use the Google Chrome extension on two different computers so I can save stuff continually throughout the day not just on my work desktop, but on my personal laptop. Building this archive of knowledge is like a mini extension of your brain, and it helps you stay aware and constantly learning. Or saving urls, and links to the places you know you want to learn more about.

 

2. Less TV, More Reading.

The average person spends over 5 hours A DAY watching television and/or Netflix according to a recent study from the NY Times. That is just crazy. Do you know how much you could accomplish in 5 hours? You could do yoga for an hour, cook up a nice homemade meal, spend a couple hours talking and reaching out to your friends, and even have time left over to read a book. The point is, TV wastes so much of your life and your time.

Don’t be what everyone else is.

If the majority of the world is spending 35+ hours on the couch watching a show, do something different. Like, when was the last time you read a book? For me, the last time I had read an actual book was from my Nicholas Sparks collection THREE YEARS AGO. That blew my mind. I wanted to change that. So, I decided to join the Online Book Club. Not only did I get to be a part of a bigger community, I also got to make a little extra cash reading and reviewing as many books as I would like. I used an hour of the time I spent watching TV into reading a book. Since I’ve done that, my brain has been more focused and my vocabulary has expanded. This is just one example of what can put you one more step ahead of everyone else.

3. Keep Connecting.

The biggest mistake I made was not keeping connections after college. I found myself lost in a world where I didn’t really know anyone who knew someone who could push me in the right direction of a great job. So connect! Connect with like minded people who work in the same industry or job as you. Collaborate and share ideas. If you are a software engineer, connect with more engineers. If you are a web designer, find other web designers. But if you hate where you work, search out what your dream job is. Then find the people who are already living that dream, and just talk with them. Figure out how they got to where they are now, and start learning what they have learned!

Leverage yourself.

The brightest and best resource that everyone keeps talking about is LinkedIn. This is your go-to online world to network and speak with people you can’t meet in person. Join groups, comment on posts, start discussions. The more you put yourself out there, the better feedback you will get. Plus, LinkedIn is your online profile and resume. Once you start continually showing value in what you say, and who you talk to, people will start to notice. Recruiters are on LinkedIn for that very reason, to find someone like you. What do you have to lose?

 

Keep your brain alert and alive by learning and growing. Be a better version of who you want to be.

Kastle Huffaker is a 25 year old cancer survivor who loves blue and is all about positivity. She runs a small photography business and does graphics & website management for a local tractor company. She is also starting up her new business Virtual Kastle.

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Questions to Ask College Students – helping them BUILD the FUTURE

“Some college, Undergraduate degree required/preferred”

If you have looked for a job within the past few years or so many will have something about a college education. But what does it mean? Why do companies place such emphasis on college education? As life long learners, we know that education, knowledge, and understanding are the foundation of our way of life. They are the foundation on which we build ourselves.

 

So what? We as a society have placed more value on the opportunity to go to college than we have spent teaching each other the benefits of education. It seems we take a check list approach to education… middle school- check high school-check college- check, masters-in progress. Are we instilling in ourselves and those around us that education matters? That college sets us up to be able to start (or continue) our life long learning process? As I see it the way American Society currently views college education, it doesn’t matter, but if we change the conversation it can matter. The next time you speak with a college student try asking these questions instead of “what’s your major?”

 

What Classes inspire you?

When you ask ‘What classes inspire you?’ you are asking a college student to think outside the textbook so to speak. This allows college students, and really all people, to open their minds and their imaginations. When people are inspired they not only learn BETTER but that inspiration can turn to passion. With passion comes the ability to move mountains with knowledge.

 

How has college changed you?

Every experience in life leaves us changed. You can’t unlearn something that you have learned. For example, when I was a young child there was a “traumatizing” episode of Sesame Street where when one of the characters left the water running, his fish friend started running out of water. At that point I learned that water is a limited resource, and I have to only use my “share”, so while brushing my teeth I HAD to make sure to turn the water off. That experience left me changed and that experience as I have gotten older has made me educate myself more on waste. College changes us too, and it is that constant change and education that allows for us to grow.

 

How do your studies affect us on a global level?

Okay, so maybe if you ask this question you might need to do some explaining, but it is actually quite interesting and loaded. We talked about how college changes us, but how do we take that and live it. This is the part that many people miss when they come out of college or even when they are still in college. How is it that you are going to use what you have learned to further the developing or even the developed world? How are you building a better future? A computer can take over any job that looks at data, or analyzes information. What a computer can’t do is allow that data to change its behavior. We need to not only be the life long learners of the world but we need to be the educators of the world too. We need to innovate and be the resources that you wish we could find. Inspire change in others, give all the knowledge that we can to those around us.

 

How do you change the world? How do you impact those around you? How do you inspire? Take your education and live it, expand on it.

Comment below with how you view a college education. And how you feel a college education fits in with today’s beliefs.

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