investing

The Road to $1,000

Debt is a painful thing.  I can’t think of one person who enjoys being in a large amount of debt.  This is many attempt to keep their heads above water by paying it down as quickly as possible.  Financial Advice Guru Dave Ramsey recommends before paying down debt, the consumer should have $1,000 saved up in case of an emergency.  Of course you’re thinking, “If I had $1,000 in cash lying around, I would be putting it toward my debt, duh!”

thousand-bucks

Think of it this way:  If you had the alternator go out in your car, where would the money come from to pay for it?  After all, you need your car to travel to work and school.  Option one is to use the money you brilliantly saved for this type of emergency.  Option two would be to pile on more debt you’ve worked so hard to cut down.

Making $1,000 quickly (and legally) is not unheard of.  There’s plenty of money waiting for those who want to work for it, right?  Here are some simple ways to gather that $1,000 in a respectable amount of time:

  1. Work extra hours or find a small side job.
  2. If you have developed a marketable skill, sell it (teach kids to play piano for example).
  3. Chances are your XBOX 360 has more dust on it than inside the tomb of King Tut.  Sell it for easy money.  Sell all those movies and books you’ve barely used while you’re at it.
  4. Have a yard sale for all your other items such as clothing, old appliances, knick-knacks, etc.
  5. If you’re not squeamish and love your fellow man, donate blood or platelets.  Rates are currently around $35 a visit.  Participate three times a week and the money adds up.
  6. Perhaps your current living quarters are tight.  Perhaps they aren’t.  If you have an extra room, bring in another roommate to split the costs of living.
  7. Dog walking isn’t attractive but it can be if you want financial security bad enough.  Take your neighbor’s best friend for a walk and get some fresh air.
  8. For basic necessities such as clothing, check out online money saving websites like retailmenot.com or ebates.com.  You can find great deals on merchandise or receive online discounts instantly with one simple click.
  9. This one might kill you.  Switch from unlimited data to a lower data plan on your smart phone.  You can save easy money this way since numerous establishments offer free wi-fi now.
  10. Take a packed lunch made at home instead of eating out every day.  You can save as much as $50 a week by making this change.  Your pack lunch will probably be healthier, too.

If you choose to accept even three of these ten ideas, you will find yourself on your way to financial security.  Don’t completely stop payments on your accounts, though!  Make sure to keep paying at least the minimum until you can begin to aggressively attack your debt and defeat it once and for all.  Good luck!

–Vince

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How to Save Money on Textbooks

Books with apple on topBuy used whenever possible. Your school bookstore probably sells used copies but they usually sell out fast. Check online for a used version of your book. Most online textbook retailers have information on the condition of book before you buy and you can usually find a version that is “like new”’ or “very good” and still save a lot of money over buying new.

-Find a textbook price comparison website like www.booksprice.com or find one you like better by searching the web for “textbook price compare.” This allows you to see the price of your textbook being sold on lots of different websites and allows you to buy it for as little as possible.

Use retailmenot.com to find promo codes to use on discount websites like half.com or abebooks.com. You don’t need an account and you can often find codes for free shipping or a percentage discount on your purchase. For example, go to retailmenot.com and type in “half.com.” The first coupon code says “10% off books for new users.” Click the “show coupon code” banner and the code “10BTS” will pop up. If you type that in to the promo code field at check out at half.com, it will automatically take of 10% off your whole purchase. That might not sound like much but on a $100 textbook, it will save you $10. If you already have a half.com account, consider opening another one with your Umail email address so that you can use this code.

After you search for a promo code, go to Ebates.com or Shopathome.com to get additional cash back when using online book retailers. This is an important step and get often save you an additional 2%-6%. If you want more information on how these websites work, click here.

Buy international copies when possible. International editions are usually almost identical to the copies sold at the book store and can be half the price.

Look for an online version or e-book from websites like Amazon. This can save you money over buying a hard copy but might be inconvenient if you don’t have a tablet. Remember when buying an online copy or e-book, you cannot sell your book back at the end of the semester and make back some of your initial cost. And some online versions only give you access to the book for a short time (like one year) and you are better off buying hard copy if you still want access to the book after that time period.

Rent your textbook from websites like chegg.com. You can find textbooks rentals for as little as $15-$50 per semester and save a lot of money. Just take in to consideration that you cannot sell your textbook back at the end of the semester since you are borrowing it from the company. And you can be responsible for the whole cost of the book if it gets lost or damaged. This is not a good option if you want to keep your book after the rental period is over. If buying the textbook used online is only $10-$25 more, consider purchasing the book instead because after you sell it back and recoup some or all of your initial cost, it will have saved you more money in the end than renting and if you decide you like the book, you have the option to keep it instead.

Buy an older edition of the book. Revisions of textbooks come out so frequently that the previous version might not be much different from the $150 book your teacher requires. Before you buy however, talk to your teacher or go to the library and compare the versions so that you know the older version will work. If there are only a few pages that are different (for example, some of the homework questions), you can copy those pages to supplement your text book. This might seem like more work but it could save you 75% on your textbook or more! Try not go back too many editions, especially if the subject changes frequently (like a textbook on technology).

-Make sure you will get your book in time. Even if you have to pay a little extra for rush shipping, it is very likely that you will save money over going to the bookstore. If your book won’t arrive in time, check your school library and see if they have a copy of the book on reserve. That means no one can check out the book for more than a few hours so you have a good chance of being able to find the book if you just need to read a chapter or do a few homework problems.

-Sell it back. And finally when the semester is over, if you decide you no longer need your textbook, sell it back to your school if possible or online. If you purchased it online and scored a good deal, you could even make money on selling it back to your school!

Tiffany Davis

All the Right Moves, All of the Time

How do you learn to always make the most of your money?

How do you know when you’ve achieved that plane of existence where you sneeze and gold coins fly from your ears?  Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but is it possible to get to a place where you are always making the best financial decisions all of the time?

Probably not.

chess pieces

Does it matter?

Probably not.

When talking about money, you need to include a discussion on keeping a healthy balance.  You’ll drive yourself crazy by always trying to pick the winning stock and never spending your money on wasteful things like fast food and movies.  I can’t imagine trying to live my life not making a wrong move.  It’s just not possible and, frankly, not desirable.  You have to have fun sometimes.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

Does that mean that you’re doomed to live paycheck to paycheck, never accomplishing what your financial goals?  Absolutely not.  Life is not always lived in a straight line.  Sometimes it meanders.  And some of those little diversion lead to some pretty great stuff.

It’s like when you take a trip somewhere.  You plot your course, you get in your car and you drive.  But along the way you find a road you’ve never seen before or a sign post you haven’t noticed and you decide to follow it just to see where it leads and it turn out that you find someplace great.  Of course, you could also find a crummy place that you never want to see again.  But the odds are in your favor that you’ll find something interesting, at the very least, and you may find something great that you’ll want to get back to again and again.

That’s living in a balanced way.  You make a plan and you work towards it.  But, you’re also open to what the world is going to drop at your feet.  Sometimes it will be good and sometime it will be bad.  And sometimes it will be AWESOME!

Cheers

Sherri Overby