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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stop The Money Bleed in Publicly Funded Schools

I've been a little AWOL lately from the blogging world.  Let's just say I've been super busy.  I bet you have too, so maybe you haven't had the chance to read lately and maybe we are on the same page.  If you haven't been as busy as me I apologize for the extended absence.

I recently read an article in the New York Times about spending inequality in colleges.  Apparently private research colleges have increased their per-student spending by nearly 5 times in the last ten years, while community colleges have been spending about the same amount of money as ten years ago per student.  This is mostly because state and local funding has dropped significantly for public colleges and universities.  This stagnation means that real dollar values for expenses related to running these colleges and universities have decreased.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I love pets, I even have two cats right now and I grew up with dogs and cats.   One thing I can definitely say about pets is that all they do is give unconditional love.  I can see why anyone would want a dog or cat or some other type of pet while they are at college.   Sometimes having something that greets you every day can help alleviate the stress of being on your own for the first time and navigating the life of a college student. 

If you are struggling financially I would have to say don't get a pet.  They are expensive.  If you forget about food (which is a constant expense) and accessories (like collars, leashes, and toys) you still need to consider the vet.  Although there are ways of getting reduced priced vaccinations the vet bills can be very hefty.  Some people invest in pet insurance to offset those expensive bills, but if you add that cost into the monthly cost to feed and take care of your dog or cat the cost can be prohibitive for students struggling to pay rent and tuition. 

What ends up happening to these poor animals is that students get them, realize that they can't afford to (or aren't allowed to) keep them and abandon the poor animals.  Where I live there is a large roaming cat population because irresponsible students (who probably had good intentions at the start) would do this. With a large population of animals in shelters already (due to the bad economy) please consider what you are capable of taking doing both financially and with your obligations.   

It will only be four to six years before you will be done with school and most likely will be able to afford a pet.  If you simply can't be away from animals for that long consider volunteering at an animal shelter, or become a dog walker/ pet sitter.  This way you get to spend time with animals in a responsible and caring way. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

College is Unaffordable?

Now for the flip side of yesterday's video.  What does this make you think about the economic value of education?

Tomorrow I will discuss the seemingly contradictory circumstances we as college students find ourselves in today.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Education and Income

First of all I apologize for skipping a post yesterday!  Classes come first as a college student and unfortunately I had no time left at the end of the day.

I just thought I would share an interesting video on the economics of earning a college degree.  Hopefully this will push some of you over the edge who are not sure if they want to spend the money on college.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How To Pay For College While Still In High School

Don’t worry high school students I haven’t forgotten about you.  You may be wondering with all these posts on how to save and make money geared mostly towards college students how you can pay for college.  It’s great that you’re already thinking about this (you’re ahead of the curve). 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jobs Students Will Love

Since many students work at least part-time in college I thought it would be useful to point out a few job choices that usually are good fits with college student’s schedules, and also are great part-time gigs when you leave school and may need a little additional income.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Linearity in Education: Should You Go Directly From High School to College?

Why am I showing you a video on education and education reform?  Well there are several ideas in the video I think as someone who is or will be paying for college you should be thinking about.  You need to think specifically about why you want to go to college and if it is truly right for you.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cheap Fun For Broke Students

All work and no play make you tired and dull.  So what is a broke college student to do?  There are so many ways of entertaining yourself (or a date) without spending a penny.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stupid Mistakes You Can Avoid That Will Cost You Hundreds

School is starting at many college campuses across the nation! That means buying books, moving into dorms and apartments, and going to classes for the first time this semester.  School starting also means the beginning of what I like to call the My Parent’s Aren’t Here Syndrome (MPAHS).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Insurance Tutorial

 Insurance sounds boring doesn’t it?  You know what isn’t boring? Going through a true emergency insurance would help pay for and not having any insurance.  You might be thinking that your parents have taken care of your insurance, or you might be worried over the fact that you don’t have any insurance.  There are several kinds of insurance that are important to know about…let’s go over things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuition Refund Insurance: Should You Get It?

Sometimes bad things happen when people attend college.  Medical problems, personal problems, and disasters can happen.  Some people have turned to alternative methods (besides an emergency fund) to help in case one of those sorts of situations interferes with their ability to finish the semester.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What Did I Learn From My Financial Aid Nightmare?

I went to the financial aid office at my university yesterday… and I got them to reinstate my financial aid from now until I graduate next spring! It wasn’t easy.  I was sent on a wild goose chase to another department which didn’t know what financial aid was talking about; and at one point I was even told that I just wasn’t going to be receiving financial aid at all.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Important Facts For Double Majors!

If you pursue a double major or concurrent major keep this in mind.  Never, ever, finish one of your degrees before the other (even if you will only have one or two semesters left for the second degree)!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Learn From My Mistakes

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius

From time to time I will share personal experiences so that you may be able to learn from mistakes I make.  In this blog I won't pretend to be perfect at navigating the costs of college.  The intention of this blog is to help others with paying for college.  Sometimes the best way to help others is to put your own mistakes out there for others to learn from. Brutal honesty is missing from the discussion of paying for college and I won't be one of those personal finance "experts" who glosses over the realities many students face today. The following is a situation that started six years ago and has reached its culmination now.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just A Bad Day.

I'm sorry for the super late post.  Today was an unusually bad day in regards to my ability to pay for school.  The story is developing and I will keep you posted.  

Tomorrow I will continue with regular posts.  Even bad days end, and bad circumstances can be turned around. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Begging You!

There are many ways of making money for college... this way is not frequently a person's first thought.  Online begging is certainly not new.  In fact, several years ago 20/20 featured a woman who got herself into horrible credit card debt and paid all the debt off by begging online.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to Get a Job After You Graduate When You're Still a Freshman.

I’ve talked about choosing a major in “So Why Am I Paying For School Again?” I wanted to expand upon the idea of picking a major. This economy is rough and you want to be as marketable as possible; because if you don’t do this all the time and money you spent at school will be a waste. So how do you make yourself more marketable to employers?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Glimpse Into My Wallet

I just wanted to show you the proof of how my posts will really help in real life.  This semester, as usual,  I followed the procedure I described to you in, “Is This a Book or a Brick of Gold? “ and saved a boat-load of money.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Simplicity As Savings

Part of the green movement has emphasized simplicity so that waste is reduced.  Going green as a college student is not only something you may want to do anyway because of your ideals, but it is also a great way to save money.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Credit Cards: The College Student Kryptonite

We have talked about emergencies a couple of times, and how to prepare for or get money quickly if a financial emergency comes up.  Is there anything you noticed that I never mentioned?  Credit cards.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Emergency! No Problem.

I have referred to an emergency fund in the post “All the Cool People Do It! Give Budgeting a Try!”  An emergency fund is very important, especially when you are in college and on a budget.  Life can be unpredictable and having a safety net in the form of a savings account will give you a huge advantage.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

So Why Am I Paying For School Again?

So you’re trying to pay for college, but what exactly is it you are paying for?  Some of you already know exactly what you want to do and have chosen your major accordingly, while the rest of you just don’t know yet.  Given that school is so expensive, it is important that you choose the right major and determine your career goals promptly.

Friday, August 5, 2011

All the Cool People Do It! Give Budgeting a Try!

I’ve been posting a lot about saving money and making money, but not that much about managing money.  One of the most important skills you need to master now (and for the rest of your life) is budgeting. 
Luckily you already have a budgeting kind of cheat sheet in the Expenses worksheet (in the Useful Links tab).  A budget not only considers your expenses (like utilities, food, rent, savings, etc), but also when those expenses occur and when you get paid.  Here is a sample budget I have put together using Excel.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Looking For Perks!

We have already explored the idea of your work paying for some or all of tuition costs through various programs.  There are other jobs out there that can help you reduce costs in other aspects of college life.  If you can’t find a job that will pay your tuition or housing costs then maybe you can find a job with other perks.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Most Controversial College Wallet Post Yet.

Just to clarify before we begin, I am not advocating or condoning any of the methods of making money that will be covered in this post.  I felt that sometimes people get into tight spots when it comes to paying for their education and sometimes these trying circumstances lead to desperation.  Before acting please think about your choices and consequences.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Get Your Boss To Pay!

I have mentioned before in Getting Something For Nothing: Lowering the Cost of Tuition and Rent that if you get a full-time position at a college or university that often you get free tuition as part of your compensation for the job.  Working for a college or university is not the only way of getting your employer to pay for school.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Student Entrepreneur

It can be hard finding reliable work as a student, especially in a bad economy.  You may be told up front you will get enough hours (or not given too many hours) and then you learn otherwise.  Sometimes your class schedule just gets in the way of a decent job. It’s not like you don’t want a good job it’s just that you can’t completely change your schedule mid-semester. So what is a broke student supposed to do?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Oh No! I'm Broke! How to Get Quick Cash.

Sometimes unexpected expenses come up.  Although it is in your best interest to have a savings account for just these sorts of emergency situations, I also understand that when you are young, broke, and trying to pay for school sometimes your emergency fund is not quite big enough to cover everything.  So here are a few ways to quickly get money without digging yourself a deeper hole.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Need A New Shirt!

Clothing can be a big money sucker.  It is tempting to spend your cash trying to look cool at some trendy store.   There are better ways to get a great look and still save some cash. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Utility Bills: You Can't Avoid Them, But You Can Lower Them

Utility bills are tough.  You can’t negotiate the cost of water and power, but you can still save money on these things.  While other utilities (stuff I lump in with utilities) like phone service, cable, and internet can be negotiated and navigated.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hoofin’ it! How to Cut Down on Transportation Costs.

Transportation can be quite costly if you make certain choices.  For instance, some people think that owning a car is required if you need to get around town.  This is not always the case.  For me I have to have a car because the nearest bus stop to my place of employment is 10 miles away, but most people I know don’t have those sorts of circumstances. We are going to explore how to save money by going without a car, or amending how you use your car if you choose to keep one anyway.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saving Money On Pencils and Pickles.

Ok, school supplies are probably one of the most fun things to go shopping for each year before school starts.  Sometimes the fun can make you forget about how much money you are spending.  There are ways to reduce the cost of school supplies that don’t require much effort.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is This a Book or a Brick of Gold?

College text books are infamous for being very expensive.  Sometimes you might wonder, “Is this a book or a brick of gold?”  There are multiple ways of saving money when getting textbooks (renting, buying from the right places, and sharing), but you need to think about a few things before you start collecting each semester’s worth of books.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting Something For Nothing: Lowering the Cost of Tuition and Rent

I told you I would write a post about how to cut costs. I lied.  I’m going to write multiple posts on how to cut costs in college. The first post will deal with the most expensive parts of paying for college: tuition and housing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Under 24 and Your Parents Don't Pay? Sucks to be you!

I wanted to take you through some of my story to help you put together all of the information that I have presented so far.  As the blog progresses I will share more and report on my past, present, and future methods of paying for college.

I have heard many people, including myself, lament the plight of the under age 24 dependent student whose parents can’t (meaning they are financially overextended but FAFSA doesn’t seem to notice) or won’t help pay for college. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Financial Aid 201

For many students financial aid is used primarily just to pay tuition, but for some students financial aid also helps to pay for some school related living expenses as well.  Let’s say you received your financial aid package and your financial aid package including grants, scholarships, work-study, and federal loans did not even add up to the cost of your tuition.   What do you do?  Well that depends.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Financial Aid 102

Loans!  They can be very confusing for some people.  First you need to learn about some basic personal finance concepts.  Interest is a fee associated with the cost of a loan.  Generally you pay a certain percentage on top of the loan.  This additional money is often added to the principal (or original loan amount) and compounded (a method where interest is then calculated based on the new total).   
There are many loan interest calculators on the internet.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Financial Aid 101

Now that you have selected your general pathways to pay for your education, let’s see what kind of break the financial aid office at your college or university gave you.  Oh, you don’t know about finanacial aid yet, do you?  Well here is the breakdown of what financial aid is, what kinds of aid are offered to people, and which options are preferable.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Full-Time Times 2: Working While Attending School

It is not uncommon for people to “work their way through college.”  In fact, many students worked part-time through high school and even if they have money to pay for their higher education they work part-time in college as well.   Working while attending school can be challenging, but it can also be managed.  There are several options when it comes to working while attending school.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Uncle Sam: I Want You to Go to College!

When most people think of the military providing for a college education they think of the ROTC.  I do plan on outlining this program, but there are other methods of taking advantage of educational opportunities in the military. Before you consider the military remember that this is a huge commitment. You should really want to be in the military in addition to earning a college education. Don’t join if you are just in it for the money.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Postponement and Pausing: I See a Four Year Institution in Your Future

Postponing!  What, I thought you said I can go to college right now!  You’re right I did say that, but I also said that some of my pathways are controversial.  This post is really two different pathways with a common theme.  The common theme is putting off attending a four year college or university until you are financially ready.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Testing Out: Perfect For All Ages

I’m going to start with the high school kids again…don’t worry adult re-entry students and current college students this post is for you too. Taking tests to receive college credit is another great way to save money on tuition costs.  Most of these tests (but not all of the tests) do cost money, but the test cost is still significantly less than paying for a class.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dual Enrollment: The Early Bird Pathway

The most obvious pathway that most people default to is graduating from high school. and the following fall semester beginning college at a four year institution.  This is fine for those of you who have enough money saved for college, or who have full-ride scholarships, but for most students this is not the case.  The problem is that so many people never think about their general plan of paying for school and go straight to this; then they are forced to scramble when a financial crisis comes up and this is where mistakes are made. The financial mistakes you make here can haunt you for a long time...believe me. I will cover those mistakes later, but first I will share with you the major pathways to paying for college.  These pathways can be used in combination with each other.  The smarter, more innovative students usually find a way to combine all or most of these pathways.  If you are young enough you can take advantage of all of these pathways...for those of you who are older, you will be limited but you still have many options.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Now For the Reality Check.

So far you know exactly how much school will cost you, how much money your parents can contribute, and how much you will need to pay for.   The question you need to ask yourself is “Do my wants match my reality?”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It’s Time For an Honest Conversation With the Folks

Now that you have a concrete idea on how much money college is going to cost you, it is time to have a little chat with the parental units (or if you are an adult re-entry student, substitute the word parents with spouse/significant other).   This conversation can go in many different directions.  Your parents may have been fortunate enough to have saved a large sum to pay for your college expenses, they may be broke, or they may be somewhere in between.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The True Cost of College 101

Before you start learning about how to pay for college make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself.   Do you honestly know exactly how much college costs you per year? How about per month?  I’m not just talking about tuition, but all of college.  If you don’t fully understand the costs how will you be able to create an effective plan to pay for everything?

The Goal of College Wallet

I know paying for college can be confusing, overwhelming, and scary.  I’ve been through it…I’m still going through it.  The biggest problem I have had with learning about how to pay for college is that many pathways and techniques are never talked about or barely mentioned.  I decided to start this blog to help everyone (high school kids, parents, and adults who decided to go back to school) out there who needs to learn the financial ins and outs of paying for school. 

Maybe you can learn from my experience both good and bad choices.  I also plan on offering multiple ways of paying for school.  It is up to you to decide what ways are most appropriate for you and your situation.  My goal is to help others who are discouraged or baffled by the high cost of education.

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