Ways to Avoid College Debt

The cost of college tuition has risen in the recent past, and this discouraged many students who wanted to enroll in higher education. The fear of landing into a college debt trap due to student loans has become undoubtedly genuine to many. However, prospective students can relax. Graduating college debt-free can be a real possibility. All it will take is a bit of planning and applying yourself. So, which are the best ways to avoid college debts?

Seek Financial Aid to Cut Costs
Financial aid may come in the form of grants and scholarships that are available to the qualified college students. As a matter of fact, the College Board report says that scholarships and other types of financial aid may considerably lower the price an undergraduate student pays for his or her education. Having said this, it is crucial for the students to know the different types of financial aid for which they qualify, and how they can start the process of applying for them.

Many colleges offer financial assistance to students in order to help them identify the scholarships and grants that they are eligible for and also guide them all through the application process. Some of the most popular scholarships and grants include:

  • Academic Competitiveness Grant: This is a grant awarded to undergraduate, freshman and sophomore students who demonstrate academic excellence.
  • Pell Grant: Awarded to students from lower-income families.
  • Merit-Based Scholarships: This scholarship is awarded to a student who demonstrates athletic, artistic, or academic talent.

Unlike student loans, scholarships and grants do not have to be repaid and this makes college education more affordable for students in need.

Graduate early
Another way to avoid college debt is hastening your graduation. Come to think of it: the lesser the time you will spend in college, the lower the cost will be. How exactly does one graduate early? Here are two ways to graduate early from college:

  • Take Advanced Placement classes in high school for you to earn college credits.
  • Enroll in accelerated degree programs which can be finished in less than the normal completion time.

Work Before You Go To College
Another good option you may want to explore is to work for a few years before you begin your college education so that you can save enough money for college expenses. This will not only help you learn the value of money, but it will also make you appreciate your education more. There are students who work a part-time job during school and two jobs during summer to avoid college debts.

Consider Going Online
And lastly, consider schooling online in a school that offers distance education, if the options above do not fit into your financial scheme. A key advantage with schooling online is that you will save on transport and boarding, which can bring down the cost of college for you immensely.

Reasons to Include a Vacation in Your Budget

While going out on vacation can be fun, not everyone can spend the thousands of dollars that many of these vacations can cost. Because of that, you are going to want to locate some different ways you can get a vacation, without spending the extra money that you might not have.

To begin this process, it is important that you understand that the major cost most people encounter in their travels is airfare and hotel rooms. When you know this, you can begin to find some of the deals that these locations can present you.

One of the first things you can begin to do is to look at the off-peak season for the area you are considering. Depending on the reasons why travel goes down during a certain time of the year, it can be ideal to plan your vacation during these times. This is an excellent way for you to get more value and quality for your vacation, as opposed to spending more for less when it is peak season for a location.

Booking online can save you money on vacation as well. No matter whether you are headed to the Bahamas or a Bali Villa, you are going to find that searching online for vacation packages can save you money. Many hotels and airlines work closely with discount websites to help reduce the overall cost of travel. In fact, you are going to find that there are some cases where the reduced price is so low, that you might be able to do more on your vacation that you originally planned.

Keep in mind that smaller hotel chains and airlines can be cost-effective approaches as well. Since they do spend less time advertising, they can offer you better deals. Just be sure that you do have an understanding of what they can offer you and try to avoid locations that have a bad reputation. You will find that some online websites can provide you with real experiences that people have had at these locations.

Above all, be sure that you take the time to have fun as well. While going cheap on vacation might seem a little restricting, you should plan some free things that can help to ensure that you do have a good time. This can include everything from spending time on the beach to exploring landmarks and other destinations that won’t send you back thousands of dollars.

No matter the place you are planning on traveling to, it is important that you do begin searching in advance. Take your time to locate the best deals you can find and begin to explore all the beauties that the world has to offer. No matter if it is the sandy beaches of Bali Villa or the rolling green hills of Ireland, there is an affordable vacation package you can find online.

Quick-Guide to Retirement Planning

Retiring without a well-thought-out plan can result in frustrations later in life, particularly when you start to run into financial difficulties. That is why it is often advisable to plan for retirement while still active in employment. It is however not something easy to do, but in this article, we give you a simple guide on how to go about planning for retirement.

Knowing how much you need to save is an important element when planning on how much money you will need after retirement. Not many other issues would matter unless you have given this one a deep thought. How much you save will depend on some factors, including your current earnings, your projected future expenses and any other benefits you are likely to enjoy in future. Based on these factors, you may run into difficulties planning. However, if for instance, you are unable to match the savings that can take care of your projected expenses, you can gradually increase the amount that you save periodically to meet your intended goal.

After planning how much you need to save, the next most important consideration is where to put the money. Everyone saves with the aim of making returns, but not every retirement savings plan offers the same benefits. For instance, one can choose to contribute to Roth IRA or 401(k), both of which have different limitations. Even though savers can choose both, most tend to go for one. Primarily, and what tends to be an advantage of saving through 401(k) is the fact that limits are higher, compared to Roth IRA whose limits are significantly lower. If you have determined your savings to be relatively higher, then you can easily choose 401(k). Tax benefits accrued for the chosen savings option is also a major consideration. For instance, it is advisable to go for plans that have an upfront tax plan like HSA, whose contributions can also be used for health care expenses tax-free as well. The same program also allows those above 65 years to utilize the savings without incurring any penalties.

It is also important to gauge if you will be allowed to withdraw your money prematurely, and the penalty likely to be incurred. Some saving plans will demand exaggerated penalties if you take your cash out before maturity, and that should inform your decision regarding the firm or plan you choose to save with. Either way, a critical consideration is the limits and the overall cost of the plan. However, irrespective of the retirement plan you choose, it is important to start doing it early on to maximize the benefits, including saving as much as possible.

 

How to Furnish Your Home For Cheap

Whether you just want to spruce up your home, or you have moved into a new home, buying new furniture can be quite intimidating, especially when you’re on a tight budget. However, it does not need to be. Here are a few tips on how to furnish your home for cheap:

1. Buy Used
Brand new furniture is expensive, that’s why you should consider looking for used ones. Most stores overprice furniture because they know that you need them and you’ll have to buy them. But be smarter. Make a list of all the furniture you would be happy getting second hand, and then invest some time checking out second-hand shops, flea markets, yard sales, stoop sales, thrift shops, and car boot sales. You might find some gorgeous yet affordable pieces, tucked away in very unlikely places.

2. Look for Deals Online
Online classifieds such as Craigslist allow consumer-to-consumer sales, usually at lower prices than in stores. You will find great deals on sellers’ previously used furniture at a lower cost than purchasing it new from the retailer. In addition to Craigslist, you can also your social media feeds to announce to friends, co-workers, and family that you are looking for (in good shape) furniture.

3. Shop from Big Box Stores
Consider visiting some Big Box stores since their prices are usually lower than the regular furniture retailer shops. Most of the furniture retailer stores tend to inflate prices, and then offer “discounts” which are contingent on opening that particular’s store’s credit card. Avoid all that by buying your furniture at the Big Box Stores.

4. Time Your Shopping
After you have decided that you want to furnish your home, it can be tempting to just go the furniture store and buy everything you want. Do not do it. Instead, be patient and wait to see if anything turns up at an affordable price, Furniture shops usually offer sales on most holidays, so consider delaying your purchase till the next ‘holiday sales event.’

Some furniture retailers also do have sales events during a certain period before some new models are released (usually during summer or winter), so as to clear out the old stock. Keep an eye out for such sales and you’ll save plenty of money,

5. Try DIY
If you have some skills, you do not have to spend a lot of money furnishing your home. Making certain pieces of furniture can be more economical than purchasing. There are furniture pieces you can actually make on your own, This will save you a lot of money, and will also allow you to customize your furniture as you deem fit.

6. Do Price Comparisons
When you are on a tight budget, you want to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck. In order to do this, you will need to carefully shop around for the very best prices. Doing this will enable you to make a well-informed decision, and in turn, save some money,

The Basics of Money Management

In the world of personal as well as public/business finance, managing your income and funds properly can be somewhat of a tricky slope to slide down. Properly managing your money is truly what keeps your business (or just your wallet, if you do not have your own small business humming along. At the same time, getting paid in sizeable chunks, fully and on time, as well as properly understanding personal finance, microeconomics as well as basic macroeconomics, should be considered extremely important.

You will want to familiarize yourself with different kinds of banking and personal finance management, as well as receipt organization, bookkeeping, ledger-keeping, and financial record keeping. These are critical skills to have and can save your skin in case a thief, the government, or most commonly the insurance agencies, fail you.

1. Opening Your Own Bank Account
If you, for some oddball reason, do not have your own bank account, then this is a perfect place for you to start. Not only is keeping your bank account a way for you to get paid and keep records of your money, but it is also a way for you to keep track of it, as well as deposit and take out money if need be.

To add on to this, it blows you to make donations, receive and send out checks, as well as sign up for many legal things. On top of all of the things already listed, perhaps the most important factor of all, it allows for you to register yourself for a checking card, debit, or credit card.

2. Securing Deposits
If you run or are planning on running any kind service-based business, then you need to consider getting into the habit of making your customers store insurance fees before doling out your services. If you are curious as to why this is, it allows you to ensure that they are going to pay you, as their money, reputation, or property is on the line. It is also somewhat of a legal ‘safe pass’ in case something goes awry on the customer’s end.

3. Debt Collection
This reason is critical in all business, especially high risk / high potential gain markets, and even more relevant is when it is considered for service-based businesses. It does not matter how ‘kind’ you are as a business owner when you extend crediting privileges to your customers. If anything goes wrong, either with employees, customers, insurance fees, taxes, tax returns, refunds, or whatever the case may be, it is important to have some form of debt collection system.

4. Final Thoughts
It is easy to forget that these kinds of things are so inherently vital in the business world but is always true and always has been true that money is at the center of the community, as well as the government (for better or worse) and the people who run it. If these finances and funds are not properly managed or kept it check, it can be both detrimental to society and to every individual that operates its businesses and works in its factories.

 

Cash vs Credit Card; Which is Better?

While it is true that both credit cards and cash payments offer various and plentiful different pros and cons, one of them will ultimately have to be chosen as the ‘better’ form of payment in today’s world! In certain circumstances, however, you may be inclined to choose one or the other, as is with most things. With this having been said, here is a list of the pros and cons of having cash or credit card (or debit card) payments as your primary source of ‘exporting’ money.

1. Convenience
If you have both on you, which is what we recommend, they can be entirely equivalent in use as well as take into account the convenience factor. However, using a credit card can be more convenient if you are not known to carry a lot of cash. For one thing, if you were to be robbed or if you lost your wallet, you would suffer almost no repercussions, financially that is. You can quickly call up your local program or bank and have them cancel your card and send you a new one within the week.

On the one hand, credit cards offer you the ability to ‘pay’ for your purchase up front, and not actually have to pay for it for days, weeks, or even months* down the road. However, this can be somewhat of a trap. If you are irresponsible with your credit card spending, you can end up abusing your credit card and getting yourself or your friends into a lot of debt as well as trouble, and maybe even legal trouble.

2. Safety
As we have previously mentioned in the paragraph (or two) above, using credit and debit cards (as well as checking cards for bank accounts) is generally much safer than carrying around cash. In the sense that, of course, you either are robbed, lose, misplace, or cannot seem to find your wallet! You can cancel your credit and debit cards as easy as one-two-three and be back into the swing of things relatively soon after!

The issue with carrying around a lot of cash is the exact polar opposite as what we have mentioned above. If you end up carrying one, two, three or more hundred dollars in your wallet and then losing it or ending up having it stolen, you are that much money down, and you have less than a slim chance of ever getting any of it back.

3. Expenses
Cash is certainly cheaper to use than a credit card is, because of the bi-weekly, monthly, or yearly fees that are associated with registering for and responsibly as well as legally owning your credit card. With cash, you are only using your hard-earned dough to pay face value what you see. With credit cards, aside from all of the previously stated pros and cons, there is always a set amount of fees and other transaction costs that come along with it as a package deal.

Used Cars – A Guide on Why, Where and What to Buy

Here is a guide to take you through the process of buying used cars that are in reasonably good condition. You might want to buy a used car instead of a new one for various reasons. Whichever it is, you want to make sure your money works for you, even if you are paying for a second-hand car. Using this guide, you can make informed decisions on ‘why, where and what’ of buying second-hand cars.

Why buy used cars?

Mostly the buyer has the answer to this question. However, for those who are still contemplating, we know new cars can cost a lot and getting it financed through a lender can be a hassle. The monthly EMI or installments are very high for new cars compared to a car that is hardly 3 years old.

It is also a well-known fact that a brand new car loses 15% of its original price the moment it leaves the showroom. When you can get a car that looks great, runs smoothly and has no accident record for a lower price, who wouldn’t buy it?

Best place to buy used cars

A ‘used car only’ dealership is the best place to buy a used car. You can negotiate and get the best deal for your dream car. These places will give the buyer wide range of options to choose from. If you are confused as to which model to buy, all you need to do is tell the salesperson your need and he or she will happily point out the exact model for you.

An advantage of choosing such a dealer is that apart from great deals and wide options, you will also get fantastic after-sales servicing and warranty. These guys will dig out the history of the car in and out, something that if you had to do on your own, would have taken a long time.

If you were to buy from a new and old car dealership, there is always a chance that you might have to pay extra. If you can afford it, good for you. On the other hand, if the car is bought from the original owner, you will have to buy without warranty.

Also, such dealerships can help you navigate through the insurance and legal proceedings after you buy a car. You just have to bring along few documents, a partner who would admire the car and a pen to sign the check!

What to buy?

Usually, before buying a car, people have a fairly good idea of what type of vehicle they need, if not the exact make and model. If it is a college student, he or she might want a basic sedan; if the person has a family of 4 or 5, he or she might look for minivans and SUVs. Therefore, once you define your purpose, you can easily pin down the exact used car model. Even among those, there are certain companies whose vehicles are great even in used condition. You can take along an experienced mechanic to take a look at the car at the dealership and decide. Choose a model that has a clean history, good reviews and, in general, a good on road durability.