Moving Back Home After College?

Last week I was asked to share a very interesting graphic with my readers. While I was lucky and was able to find a job right after I graduated and still have that same job today, not everyone is as lucky.

Most of my friends were able to find great jobs soon after graduating, but that is mainly due to the better economy of where I live (Midwest). I of course know that there are other areas which aren’t as lucky.

However, I did graduate with a ton of student loan debt. A lot of that could have been eliminated or non existent if I would’ve lived at home, gone to a cheaper undergraduate school and a cheaper graduate school and so on and so on. However, I couldn’t have lived at home. I moved out at 18 (a day after I graduated from high school) and my dad passed away when I was 18, so I had no where to go even if I did want to move back home.

However, I don’t regret a thing. Why did you chose the things that you chose when it came to your education?

I’m not going to lie, I think the graphic is a little negative. I think it makes going to college sound a little worse than it actually is. I’ve never thought of college as negative, but I do realize that some do.

Also, I’ve been getting flack lately because some say I only post about the positives of everything, and that I’m not realistic enough. Well here you go!  🙂 I do think everything in the graphic is very interesting though.

Did you move back home after college? Why or why not?

Moving Back Home After College?
Created by: Collegeathome.com

The post Moving Back Home After College? appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Figured out my MBA problems

In case you didn’t read my other post the other day about my MBA problems, check it out here.

So I’ve been thinking about what I want to do. Do I just want to get a General MBA and be more rounded or do I want to get a Finance MBA and be more stuck, but be more educated in my job area that I’m in right now.

Well, I’ve decided to graduate in the Fall of 2012 and get my MBA. But I’m still undecided if I want a Finance or General MBA.  They require the same amount of credits but I’m afraid that I might be too Finance specific since I’ll have my MBA-Finance, CFA and ASA, and then if I ever don’t want to be in Finance, I’ll be stuck because employers might not be able to look past all of those.

So I figure if I wait until next Fall, then I have more time to decide about what I want to do.

I also talked to my work yesterday, and they didn’t really seem to care either way, and I talked to the BF, and he didn’t really have an input either (he just wants me to do what I want to do).  I just wish I had a magic ball to tell me what to do.

Thanks everyone though for your inputs.  They have definitely helped!

The post Figured out my MBA problems appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Attending College as a Non-Traditional Student

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home-office-599475_640Femme Frugality writes about money as it pertains to young adults, brides, parents, Pittsburghers, and, of course, college students. You can read her blog here.

Recently Michelle shared that W was returning to school, and asked for some tips for non-traditional students. I recently graduated, and now my fiance is going to college for the first time.

We’re about as non-traditional as it gets, both being far beyond “traditional” college age, and having children. So I’ve got a plethora of tips that have been helping us get through this stage in our lives. And Michelle was kind enough to let me share them in a post.

Work as Little As Possible

I know that sounds crazy. As a non-traditional student, you’ve got very grown-up bills to pay. But trust me. If you’re serious about your degree, trimming down your work schedule will help not just your grades, but your overall mental health. I am not suggesting you go into debt in order to go back to school. (Both my fiance and I are doing this without any loans.)

What I am suggesting is that you sit down and look at your monthly budget. Look at your bills, how much you’ll need to be contributing to your emergency fund, how much you’ll need for other essentials such as gas and groceries, and a realistic entertainment category (though it might not be a bad idea to trim it down a little bit if you can).

Figure out the lowest number you’re willing to commit to (be realistic about this) for your overall monthly budget.

Now, figure out the minimum number of hours you’d have to work in order to meet that number. The next step is having a conversation with your boss about lowering the amount of hours you are working every week as you return back to school.

I was really lucky when I decided to go back to school. I was able to not work at all. Granted, part of that was because I was having a child at the beginning of my return to my education, and daycare costs would have been more than my working salary at the time.

My fiance supported me through the completion of my degree, and for that I am so thankful. But I did things to contribute to our combined coffers, too. And it’s something you can do if you don’t have someone there to help you out with the bills:

Apply for Scholarships

I know this sounds obvious. But so many people don’t apply because they think they won’t qualify. Or they won’t be able to write a perfect essay. Or a million other reasons. Just do it.

Start with the scholarships at your school and branch out from there. (I wouldn’t necessarily apply at sites such as FastWeb….your odds are so low when there’s so many people competing.)

When you’re applying, first look for any scholarships you can get your hands on; they all cover tuition. But once you have your tuition fully-funded, look for scholarships that cover tuition and other educational costs. With these, your school with cut you a check for every penny that’s paid above and beyond your tuition.

For example, if your tuition is $5,000/semester and you get $6,000 funded via scholarships, the school would cut you a check for $1,000 that semester. That $1,000 (or however much over you earn in scholarships) can then be used for things like books, rent, groceries, etc. Depending on how much you earn you may find that you’re able to stop working and focus completely on school, too.

Get Involved Without Over-Committing

A great way to kick-start your career is to be involved in a fraternity, national club, or some other scholarly organization pertaining to your field. Doing so can also increase your networking power when you’re looking for a job after graduation. So join. Something. Get involved. But be incredibly aware of your constraints.

Are you working? Then don’t promise to volunteer as a full-time “job.” Do you have kids? Then don’t say you can serve as club president when the weekly meetings are held when you need to be getting the kids off the bus.

Make a Schedule

Scheduling is so incredibly important. Make sure you schedule for things like

  • class
  • work
  • study hours
  • socializing/relaxation
  • school organizations

If you’re in a relationship, have kids, or other people that depend on you, there’s even more you have to schedule for, and it’s incredibly important:

  • date nights
  • time to talk and catch up with each other
  • time to spend with your kids/whoever else may depend on you

The task can seem daunting. It can even be tempting to eliminate things on that list. But remember, you’re in this for about four years. Can you really go four years without socializing? Maybe. But you’d probably be hating life. Can you skip the talks with the girlfriend? Probably. But only if you’re trying to kill your relationship. And the studying? It’s necessary if you want to be any kind of good in the the field you’re entering. Schedule purposefully, and live life accordingly.

Spread It Out

If you’ve done the fall semester full-time and it’s just way too stressful or your grades are suffering, instead of giving up try going half-time in spring. Then you can go half-time in summer, too, and not be behind on your classes.

Most of the classes offered in summer are general electives that a lot of people need to take, so keep that in mind. If you’re receiving financial aid such as a Pell Grant or state aid, if you go half-time you’re only awarded half of your grant.

The other half that you qualify for can be applied to the summer semester and completely cover it the same as if you had gone full-time in the spring. So you’re not losing any money. At least that’s how it worked at my school.

Double-check with your financial aid office. And if you’re concerned about not having a summer break, don’t worry. Most schools have a 3-4 week break between Spring and Summer semesters, and then another 2-4 week break between Summer and Fall.

Think Ahead

If you’re going to do something like an internship at the end of your course of study, think about that now. How will that work out with work? If you have kids, how will childcare work?

Talk with your boss about it early so that they know to expect it and you all have time to work out a viable solution to give you the time you need to complete that internship (without bidding your current employer a premature adieu.) Give yourself years to figure out the whole childcare debacle instead of just weeks or months.

You Will Be Stressed.

And that’s okay. That’s normal.

That’s why scheduling things such as socialization, relaxation, and date nights are important. If you’re in a relationship with someone who is going back to school, it’s going to change your status quo. There will be stress, and stress usually leads to fights.

You will most likely fight. But that doesn’t mean that your relationship is crap. It means you’re stressed out, and you both need to find ways to cope better. Which is why scheduling time to talk and connect is so important.

Going back to school as an adult who isn’t fresh out of high school comes with a complex set of challenges.

Family responsibilities, work responsibilities, and just general grown-up bills and concerns can weigh you down. But don’t let them hold you back. Those few stressful years are so worth it. And you can hold your head a little higher than those younger kids when you walk at commencement, because you know that you had to work a little harder to hold that degree in your hand. But you didit.

What tips do you have for someone going back to college as an adult? How was your experience?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

My $38,000 Student Loan Payoff Plan


My $38,000 Student Loan Payoff Plan$40,000.

That’s the total amount of student loans that I accumulated while I was getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees. The amount that is left is still at $38,000 now, mainly because I haven’t really bothered with student loan repayment (even though I should have!) and interest has stupidly been building up. I would have taken out more in student loans but the last couple of semesters I wised up and paid for in cash instead.

It is a lot of student loan debt, but I don’t feel completely horrible about it, I did earn 2 undergraduate degrees and a Finance MBA all for that amount. If I wouldn’t have earned scholarships or paid some of it, it would have easily been 3 or 4 times that amount.

I’ve been talking a lot about my plan to payoff my student loans as fast as possible. Back in February of 2012, I started my action plan for them to be gone. For me, it’s almost to the point where I am obsessing a little too much about my student loan repayment plan. I am constantly trying to figure out my cash flow and budget to see if I can get there any more quickly. I’m really focused on my extra income efforts and it’s an obsession now.

Luckily, I was able to graduate and find a great job back in 2010 and it helped me pay back student loans a little bit and start my student loan repayment plan. So many people told me that I wouldn’t find a job though. They were probably just trying to help me out by telling me what most kids my age didn’t know back then, but I wasn’t listening.

Now that I am done with graduate school (which I am extremely happy about being done with), I really need to start focusing and finally starting to aggressively pay back my student loans and start my student loan repayment. I’ve been paying down my student loans a little bit here and there but not enough where you can actually notice it.

My goal with my student loan repayment plan.

My goal is to have my student loans completely gone by April of 2013, or even possibly March of 2013. I know any sooner is most likely not possible since my plan is already pretty strict. Learning how to pay student loans faster is not easy though. Yes, you can read about how to pay student loans faster, but you really need to sit down and make an action plan.

In order to complete my goal, I need to pay around $7,000 per month on my student loans for around 6 months (which would make the payoff date April of 2013). This most likely sounds insane, but I know it’s possible. No, I will not be living off of Ramen noodles. I will still have the same quality of life and be doing nearly everything the same.

My main thing is that we have really ramped up our income in the past couple of months. W is currently making more than three times what he used to make at his old job, and I’m making more as well. This extra money definitely helps make this goal more attainable.

So, as long as our income continues to remain the same, then my plan should work perfectly. And if we start to make anymore money, then hopefully I will be able to fully pay off my student loans in March, however, a one month difference will not kill me.

Here’s what I have done so far and what you should start with when learning how to pay student loans faster. Also, the below can also help you if you are wanting to learn how to pay for college without going into debt.

Related content: How Do Student Loans Work?

1. Add up your total student loan debt for your student loan repayment plan.

Your very first step with your student loan repayment is to add up your total student loan debt. Use a student loan calculator if you need to.

This may sound stupid, but have you ever truly added up your total student loan debt, down to the exact cent? Enter reality and figure out how much you actually owe. I have a couple of friends who still can’t really say how much they owe, because they aren’t sure. I can understand this because some of the loans that you’ve taken out might have been from 4 or more years ago.

When I added up my total student loan debt, I wasn’t completely sure of the exact dollar amount. YES I REALLY JUST SAID THAT, I’m a bad personal finance blogger. I did know of the general area, but I was off by around $2,000. When I finally sat down and realized the exact dollar amount that I owed, reality really set in.

Once you know that exact number, it’ll help you realize that you need an student loan repayment action plan to pay it off.

Also, using a student loan calculator can help if you want to figure out your monthly student loan payment. You can find several student loan calculators online with just a simple Google search.

Related tip: I highly recommend Credible for student loan refinancing. You can lower the interest rate on your student loans significantly by using Credible which may help you shave thousands off your student loan bill over time.

2. Decide which student loans you’ll pay off first.

It’s really up to you personally. Different people prefer to attack their debt in different ways. With me, I’m trying to get rid of my student loans which have the highest interest rates. A large amount of my loans are at 6.8%.

I prefer to pay the highest so that I am gaining the LEAST amount of interest on my loans that I possibly can. If I stared by knocking out a loan than gets 0% (which none of mine do, just hypothetically), then I would still be gaining interest on my other loans and that, in the end, would not be worth it to me at all.

However, some choose to pay off the loans that have the highest or lowest amounts. This way you can really feel like you are accomplishing something when you knock out loans one by one. If you knocked out the student loans with the lowest amounts first, then you will probably feel like you’re accomplishing more and be more motivated with each student loan that you eliminate.

3. Find extra money to apply towards your student loans.

I’ve really been working hard on finding ways to earn extra income for help paying student loans. I’ve been doing great with this, but it hasn’t always been this easy. In September I made $3,275 and in October I made $3,700 (both after fees but before taxes) in extra income. Before September, I wasn’t making nearly these amounts, and I am still very surprised.

EDIT (February 8, 2013): In the month of January, I made over $6,000 in extra income. I do many things in order to reach this level, read further on my extra income page. I’m a freelance writer, a virtual assistant (read further on how to become a virtual assistant and what exactly a virtual assistant does), and blog owner in my spare time.

For me, the main thing I do to make extra money is blogging and freelancing. If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I have a tutorial that will show you how to easily make a blog of your own in just minutes. You can find the tutorial here.

My goal right now is to throw nearly all of my extra income towards my student loans so that I can pay off my student loans fast. Now, why am I not saying “ALL” instead of “nearly?” It’s because I am being realistic. I know for a fact that I will not put all of it towards student loans, in fact, I’ve already spent some of it (not a lot though).

Related articles:

4. If you can or want to, then ELIMINATE expenses!

There are probably a couple of things out there that you do not absolutely need. Or maybe there are things in your life that you can get for cheaper. Try calling any of the companies that you do business with and see if they can lower their prices at all. This can be your gym, cell phone, internet and so on. Getting a cheaper price can make student loan repayment attainable.

There are also many other things that you can do. Lowering your auto expenses, lowering your utility bills, eating at home more often, cooking from scratch and so on are all great things you can do to lower your expenses.

We are really working on eating at home as much as we can. We used to go out to eat way too much. What’s the point of eating out at a restaurant every single day? We were being stupid, it’s that plain and simple.

Cutting your expenses can help you pay off your student loans fast and reach your student loan repayment plan with a little less stress.

If you are still in college, I recommend you read my post How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review. I have a coupon code in there as well, so if you are interested in saving money on your textbooks, it can be a great post to read.

What are you doing to pay off your student loans quicker?

 Answer these questions:

1. How much do you owe?

2. How much have you paid off?

3. How long do you think it will take you to pay your student loans off completely?

4. What are you doing to pay them off more quickly?

UPDATE: My student loans are gone (click here to read all about it)! 🙂

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College?

Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College?

Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College?Today’s topic will probably be a touchy one and it’s all about whether or not parents should start (or end) saving for children’s college expenses. Ever since I paid off my $38,000 worth of student loans last year, I have received many e-mails from parents who are interested in seeking help for their children.

These e-mails are all related to whether or not parents should risk or sometimes even ruin their retirement by helping their child pay for college.

There is usually one common theme in these e-mails – the parents are usually not on track for retirement, they have debt, or they cannot afford to help their child in college.

Here are some of the stories I have heard in these emails:

  • The parents have over $100,000 in student loans that they took out in THEIR name so their child could go to school. These parents are not on track for retirement and they have a lot of other debt besides student loans.
  • Their child is in medical school and the parents are paying for all of their college expenses plus food, car, rent, etc. These parents are not on track for retirement and they have debt.
  • Their child is in law school and the child said that if his/her parents don’t continue paying for their expenses, that they would hate their parents. This child was even more mad when the parents printed out every single blog post of mine and gave it to them (I did not tell their parents to do that, it was entirely their idea). The child said I was ruining his/her life (yup, that actually happened). These parents are not on track for retirement and they are afraid of losing their child now as well.

I know I’m not a parent.

I’m not a parenting or child expert either.

I know I don’t know what it is like to have a child and the feelings that go along with that. However, I do know that I raised my younger sister after my father passed away and her attending college did make me want to help her so that she wouldn’t have to worry about money as much.

The other day I was talking to my sister and she was bringing up different ways she could possibly side hustle so that she could make extra money. It sort of made me feel bad, and for a moment I thought about helping her financially. Luckily, she snapped me out of it and told “You’ve helped me enough already. Do not worry.”

Her saying that really made me happy. I actually had tears in my eyes!

Instead of just giving her money, I helped her with her budget, I have supported her, I helped her find side hustles so that she could make extra money, I helped her make a plan, and more.

I know all of these other things I am doing have shaped her into an awesome young lady. Yes, she has to learn things the hard way but in the end she will be just fine.

Quick note: If you are looking for information on college funding, I recommend attending the webinar 6 Steps To Quickly Secure Scholarships For College. Jocelyn Paonita Pearson, Founder of The Scholarship System, secured over $125,000 in scholarships and funding by following this system!

Alarming information about student loans.

According to the Federal Education Budget Project, around $100 billion was borrowed by students in fiscal 2014 alone. Also, the default rate on student loan debt averages around 13% to 14%. 90% of student loans in recent years are co-signed by others (mostly parents), and that is a big burden falling on parents.

That’s a lot of debt, and that’s a lot of debt that isn’t being paid for. If you are a parent cosigning on student loan debt, I hope you understand the consequences that can come from it.

Should parents help their children go to college?

Okay, before anyone thinks this is a post bashing all parents who help their children, I should say that I have no problem with parents helping their children pay to go to college. However, that’s AS LONG AS THE PARENTS CAN AFFORD IT.

I have plenty of friends who went to college where a lot of it was paid for by their parents. These parents could afford it, and that is key. If you are on track for retirement, you are not struggling, and so on, and you want to help your children attend college, then by all means go for it.

I also have plenty of friends who went to college where everything was paid for yet their parents clearly could not afford it. Some of these parents took on a second or even a third job so that their child could go to school. They racked up credit card debt and student loan debt as well. Some of these students never paid a cent towards their student loans and their parents were forced to in the end. They risked their retirements, their happiness and more. While I understand that these parents care for their children, they need to realize they are putting their retirements at risk.

Like Shannah said above in the tweet, you can take out loans for student loans, but you can’t for retirement.

When we have children, as long as we are on track for retirement then we will most likely help our children attend and afford college.

I know that my story is not the average story, but I went to college with no help at all. I paid for all three of my degrees on my own, lived on my own, worked full-time, paid for all of my food, and more, all starting just days after I turned 18 and graduated from high school.

It was tough, but I do think it is possible.

For other students, it may take longer to graduate, or it may take less, they may take on more debt, or they may take on less. Everyone’s story is different, but it does not mean it is not possible.

One great story I recently read was How I Graduated College With $100k… in Savings on Budgets Are Sexy. Many say my story is impossible, but just wait until you read this great story. You will be amazed at how awesome Will is! I’m jealous but I know he worked hard for his accomplishments.

How can parents help but not risk their retirement?

Instead of risking your retirement, you can do other things to help your child go to college. Below are some of my tips if you have children who are about to attend college:

You don’t need to help in every way possible. For some reason, there is this myth out there that helping your child go to college means you need to pay for everything for them. Instead of paying for their tuition, textbooks, food, dorm, car, and everything else, set limits. You might help by giving them emotional support, letting them stay in your home while they are in college, helping them find ways to save money for college, helping them cut their college expenses, and more.

Help them get a job. If you don’t have the money to help your child, you may want to help them find a job. This way they can pay for their own expenses. Just a little bit can go a long way.

Help them create a budget. If your child doesn’t have a budget, help them create one now. Read Does your budget suck? – Budget Categories. A budget can go a long way and help someone overcome many financial difficulties.

Related articles:

There are quite a few questions for you today, because I think this topic is an interesting one. I know that not everyone will have the same opinion so I want everyone to chime in! 🙂

Do you think parents should risk their retirement and pay for college? What if the parents are on track for retirement? How much should they help, if anything at all? Will you help your children go to college?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Is a Business Degree a Waste?

Is a business degree a waste? Is a business degree worth it? Is a business degree good? Is a business management degree worth it? I'm sure these are all things that you are wondering!

Is a business degree a waste? Is a business degree worth it? Is a business degree good? Is a business management degree worth it? I'm sure these are all things that you are wondering!Is a Business Degree a Waste?  Is a business management degree worth it? I keep hearing people/news outlets arguing at opposite ends of what seems to be a common question. Short answer – NO! I don’t think a business degree is anywhere near being a waste. A business degree is worth it in many cases.

EDIT: Please read my post about how I paid off $40,000 worth of student loans shortly after I turned 24.

Recently, I read an interesting article about whether a business degree is a waste or a good decision.

I read the article multiple times (and unless I missed it), I’m pretty sure it means business schools as a whole (and the various degrees that are offered), and not just specifically a “business degree.

So when they say business degree, I’m assuming this includes Finance, Economics, Accounting, etc.

Personally I think a business degree is a great choice.

It can open many doors and in some instances make you well rounded because of the wide range of classes which are usually available.

There are also many jobs and careers out there that involve a business degree. And as I said in the paragraph above, there are so many majors: finance, economics, accounting, management, health administration, marketing, operations, strategy, international business and so on.

As long as you are realistic about getting your degree and what you plan on doing with it, I don’t think there are many instances in which a degree can be a bad choice or a waste. Read my post How To Pay for Graduate School if you haven’t yet. Today’s post somewhat relates to that.

If you know what you want to do and also see value in it, then go for it. If you are unsure and question every move you make, then you might want to stop and think about what you truly want.

Also, most of my friends who graduated with business degrees have found jobs, whereas some of my friends who have other majors are having a much harder time.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easier to find a job for everyone, but with my friends and the area we live in, it has worked out well. And many of my friends who have degrees in other areas (such as anthropology) have even told me “I wish I went to school for business instead.”

I would never say that getting a business degree is a complete waste.

Of course I am biased when it comes to this post, as my undergraduate degrees are a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Management. And then I also have a Finance MBA.

So yes, I have THREE business degrees. I do like/enjoy the life I live, so that is probably another reason why I am biased. I am sure that if I couldn’t find a job, that I would question whether having a business degree is truly worthwhile to me.

Here’s the main statement of the article:

The biggest complaint: The undergraduate degrees focus too much on the nuts and bolts of finance and accounting and don’t develop enough critical thinking and problem-solving skills through long essays, in-class debates and other hallmarks of liberal-arts courses.

However, I think most majors are similar to this. I started off as a Psychology major in the beginning, and I definitely wouldn’t say it was that much different. Everything is mainly there for you to break into the subject, and then I think you should pursue some sort of emphasis or focus for yourself. This can include getting a job internship or focusing on a particular study within your degree.

According to the article, business majors account for around 20%, social sciences and history account for 11%, health professions at 8%, education at 6%, and the list goes on and on. For information about a masters of business administration, click here.

There are multiple ways to analyze whether or not your degree is worth it:

1. Do the professors have “real” experience?

I think this is extremely important. In classes where my professors had no actual business experience (there were very few of these professors at the schools I attended), I found the classes were just boring.

It’s hard to listen to someone when you have more experience than them in the subject that they are trying to “teach.” I like to know how I can apply what I learn to REAL situations and how a professor has applied it in the past.

2. Does the student work?

This can include volunteering, a part-time or full-time job, etc. I think real world experience is important. If you work while you go to school, you are most likely applying what you learn as you learn it.

I am more able to remember things if I  can apply it as I learn. Or if you worked in the past, then you will be able to analyze your past behaviors. I worked full-time all throughout undergraduate, and had a full-time career during my MBA program (same job I have today). You have a lot more to contribute to your classes when you have some experience.

3. What school are you attending?

Of course some schools are harder than others, and this might make it more “worth it.” There are different tier levels for school. Are you going to the best value? Or are you just going to the cheapest or the most expensive?

4. What do you see yourself doing in the future? 

Is this degree worth it to you and what you envisioned for your life? If you want to be a veterinarian but go to school for social work, well, that’s just a tad confusing. Make sure it lines up with what you want to do.

One commenter below the article referenced above said:

“When relatively few went to college, a college degree was a sign of accomplishment. Majors were limited, so you had to conform to the college’s needs. Then colleges started catering to everyone, backed by Federal loans to students. Degrees became watered down or meaningless, as students would keep changing majors (engineering – communications, math – psychology) just to get any degree.”

I somewhat agree with this. If getting a degree is now becoming the “norm,” then what’s next? Obviously individuals are going to have to up the ante somehow. I do think that a business degree is mainly a stepping stone, and college degrees are becoming the norm. Many things need to be done to differentiate yourself from the tons of other individuals out there.

What I’m doing (and did) to differentiate myself:

  1. Worked full-time and earned great experience all throughout undergrad as a retail manager.
  2. I now have a great career in the financial services industry.
  3. Have my Finance MBA.
  4. Finishing up with my financial certification this year (it’s a process that takes a couple of years to earn and I’ve been working on it since the Summer of 2010).

What is/was your major? Do you think it was worthwhile?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Popular Architectural Styles of Midwestern Homes

The Midwest is called the Heart of America for a reason. It has a long history of being home to people from many walks of life, many of whom initially embraced countryside living. However, the encroach of modern living has brought many changes, including to the house styles across the Midwest. Here are a few particularly popular architectural styles of Midwestern homes.

Craftsman

Easily one of the most popular architectural styles for Midwestern homes is the craftsman style. Furniture-maker and art enthusiast Gustav Stickley originally conceived of this type of house. His focus was to create and design goods by emphasizing handmade quality. This was intended to counter the prefab trend and fast production of the early 20th century.

Eventually, the concept moved to virtually every industry, including house-building. The idea is to ensure that the best possible materials go into every inch of the home, including green options and top-notch, handcrafted ones. Every facet has to be sourced accordingly, such as using renewable, local woods for essential structural aspects as well as luxurious details such as solid wood doors.

Farmhouse

It should be no surprise to anyone that homes in the Midwest are sometimes found on farms or at least inspired by them. Some of the oldest buildings on the fields and prairies fall into the farmhouse category. Primarily, these structures are simple and intentionally humble. They tend to follow a very standard and minimalist rectangular floor plan, with a standard first and second floor. The look is very simple, and the home may even be fashioned out of old barn materials. Farmhouse-style homes have a rich, rustic feel that many homeowners dream of.

Ranch

You can find ranch-style homes all over the Midwest. These homes are humble and ideal for the complicated Midwestern weather systems that make height inconvenient. The most important detail is that a ranch home is a single-floor home with a sprawling floor plan. Sometimes a second floor comes in the form of a large basement. The low profile gives these homes an instantly recognizable charm. Many feature sturdy angles, inset faces, and art deco shapes and patterns characteristic of midcentury-modern design.

Modern

Naturally, with the spread of prefabrication and the appearance of home design catalogs, certain trends have gone national. Since the 1960s, the exact details of what constitutes “modern” have shifted. As with any current style, evolution is part of the defining factor. In particular, though, modern houses tend to be a mash-up of other styles, with an emphasis on detail and elegance. Lots of peaks, large windows, and multiple decorative gables are common features. The floor plans typically heavily emphasize open space, broad entryways, and external lighting to supplement natural light.

Source: realtybiznews.com

How Blogging Paid Off My Student Loans

How Blogging Helped With Paying Off Student Loans

How Blogging Helped With Paying Off Student LoansIn July of 2013, I finished paying off my student loans.

It was a fantastic feeling and something I still think about to this day. Even though I have a success story when it comes to paying off student loans, I know that many others struggle with their student loan debt every single day.

The average graduate of 2015 walked away with more than $35,000 in student loan debt, and not only is that number growing, the percentage of students expected to use students loans is on the rise. Plus, if you have a law or medical degree, your student loan debt may be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This is a ton of money and can be quite stressful.

After earning three college degrees, I had approximately $40,000 in student loan debt.

To some, that may sound like a crazy amount of money, and to others it may seem low. For me, it was too much.

At first, paying off student loans seemed like an impossible task, but it was an amount I didn’t want to live with for years or even decades. Due to that, I made a plan to pay them off as quickly as I could.

And, I succeeded.

I was able to pay off my student loans after just 7 months, and it was all due to my blog.

Yes, it was all because of my blog!

Without my blog, there is a chance I could still have student loans. My blog gave me a huge amount of motivation, allowed me to earn a side income in a fun way, and it allowed me to pay off my student loans very quickly.

I’m not saying you need to start a blog to help pay off your student loans, but you might want to look into starting a side hustle of some sort. Blogging is what worked for me, and it may work for you too.

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I believe that earning extra income can completely change your life for the better. You can stop living paycheck to paycheck, you can pay off your debt, reach your dreams, and more, all by earning extra money.

This blog changed my life in many other ways, besides just allowing me to pay off my student loans. It allowed me to quit a job I absolutely dreaded, start my own business, and now I earn over $50,000 a month through it.

If you are interested in starting a blog, I created a tutorial that will help you start a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.95 per month (this low price is only through my link) for blog hosting. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free blog domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link when you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting. FYI, you will want to be self-hosted if you want to learn how to make money with a blog.

Below is how blogging helped me pay off my student loans.

Quick background on my student loans.

In 2010 I graduated with two undergraduate degrees, took a short break from college, found a job as an analyst, and in 2012 I received my Finance MBA. Even though I worked full-time through all three of my degrees, I still took out student loans and put hardly anything towards my growing student loan debt.

Instead, I spent my money on food, clothing, a house that cost more than I probably should have been spending, and more. I wasn’t the best with money when I was younger, which led to me racking up student loan debt.

After receiving my undergraduate and graduate degrees, the total amount of student loans I accumulated was around $40,000.

Shortly after graduating with my MBA I created an action plan for eliminating my student loans, and in 7 months was able to pay them all off. It wasn’t easy, but it was well worth it.

The biggest reason for why I was able to pay off my student loans is because I earned as much money as I could outside of my day job. I mystery shopped and got paid to take surveys, but the biggest thing I did was I made an income through my blog.

I worked my butt off on my blog.

Any extra time I had would go towards growing my blog. I woke up early in the mornings, stayed up late at night, used lunch breaks at my day job, and I even used my vacation days to focus on my blog.

It was a huge commitment, but blogging is a lot of fun and the income was definitely worth it.

While I was working on paying off student loans, I earned anywhere from $5,000 to $11,000 monthly from my blog, and that was in addition to the income I was earning from my day job.

This helped me tremendously in being able to pay off my student loans, especially in such a short amount of time.

My blog allowed me to have a lot of fun.

One reason why I was able to work so much between my day job and my side hustling is that I made sure my side hustles were fun. Because I didn’t like my day job, I knew I just didn’t have it in me to work extra on something everyday if I didn’t enjoy it.

That’s where blogging came in.

Blogging is a ton of fun, and I have made many great friends. At times it can be challenging (the good type of challenging!) but also a lot of fun. I love when I receive an email from a reader about how I helped them pay off debt, gave them motivation, taught them about a certain side hustle, and more. Helping others along the way is another part of what really makes it worthwhile.

The fun I had blogging made it feel like a hobby, and that’s why I was able to put a crazy number of hours into it.

I focused on growing and improving my blog.

I knew I had to keep earning a good income online in order to pay off my student loan debt, so I made sure that I spent time growing and improving my blog as well. Since I love blogging so much, this was a fun task for me.

Improving my blog included learning about social media, growing my website, knowing what my readers want, producing high-quality content, keeping up with changes in the blogging world (things change a lot!), and more.

I put nearly every cent from side hustling towards paying off student loans.

One thing I did with the extra income I earned each month was putting as much of it as I could towards paying off student loans, and this way I wasn’t tempted to spend the income on something else.

So, as I earned money from my blog, I put it towards paying off student loans as quickly as I could.

This is probably easier said than done, though.

When you start earning a side income it can be very tempting to buy yourself some things. After all, you are tired, you have been working a lot, and therefore you may justify purchases to yourself.

But before you know it, you may have just a fraction of what you’ve earned left and able to put towards paying off your student loans.

It’s better to think about WHY you are side hustling and put a majority of the income you earn towards that instead.

I stayed positive when paying off student loans.

It was hard to manage everything. I was working around 100 hours each week between my day job and my side jobs, which left little time for sleep or seeing loved ones.

Luckily, I love blogging and that made it much easier to spend so much time on my blog. Watching my student loans get paid off and the debt going down was a huge motivator.

At first I thought it was impossible, and now I know it wasn’t!

Paying off my student loan debt has been one of the best choices I have ever made.

Do you have student loan debt? How are you paying off student loans?

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6 Ways I Saved Money On College Costs

Check out this list of ways to save money on college costs. This is a great list!

Check out this list of ways to save money on college costs. This is a great list!How much does college cost? This is a question many wonder. There’s rarely a week that goes by where I don’t receive an email from a student or parents of a student who are looking for ways to cut college costs. That’s why today I want to talk about college costs and how you can create a college budget that works so that you can save money in college.

College is very expensive – there is no doubt about that.

However, I want you to know that it IS possible to get a valuable college degree on a budget!

The average public university is over $20,000 per year and the average private university totals over $45,000 once you account for tuition, room and board, fees, textbooks, living expenses and more.

Even with how expensive college can possibly be, there are many ways to cut college expenses and create a college budget so that you can control rising college costs.

Continue reading below to read about the many different ways I cut college costs. While I was not perfect and still racked up student loan debt, I did earn three college degrees on a reasonable budget.

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1. Take classes at a community college to cut college costs.

Whether you are in college already or you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.

Earning credits at a community college usually costs just a small fraction of what it would cost at a 4-year college, so you may find yourself being able to save thousands of dollars each semester.

There is a myth out there that your degree is worth less if you go to a community college. That is NOT TRUE at all. When you finally earn your 4-year degree, your degree will only say where you graduated from and it won’t even mention the community college credits at all. So this myth makes no sense because your degree looks the exact same as everyone else’s’ who you went to college with. You might as well save money because it won’t make much of a difference.

I only took classes at a community college during one summer semester where I earned 12 credits, and I still regret not taking more. I probably could have saved around $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.

Also, you are most likely just taking general credits at the community college, so it’s not like you would be missing much by taking classes there instead of a college that has a better reputation for the major you are seeking.

If you do decide to go to a community college, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will transfer all of the credits. It’s an easy step to take so do not forget! You should do this before you sign up and pay for any classes as well as to make sure that ALL of the classes will transfer succesfully.

2. Take advantage of high school classes to lower your college budget.

Many high schools allow you to take college classes to earn both college and high school credits at the same time.

This is something I highly recommend you look into if you are still in high school, as it saves time and is one of the best ways to save money on college costs.

When I was in my senior year in high school, nearly all of my classes were dual enrollment courses where I was earning college and high school credit at the same time. I took AP classes and classes that earned me direct college credit from nearby private universities. I left high school with around 14-18 credit hours (I can’t remember the exact amount). This way I knocked out a whole semester of college. I could’ve taken more, but I decided to take early release from high school and worked 30-40 hours a week as well.

3. Take all the credits you can to stay within your college budget.

At many universities, you pay a flat fee. So whether you take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours, you are paying nearly the exact same price.

For this reason, I always recommend that a student take as many classes as they can if they are going to a college that charges a flat fee tuition.

If you think you can still earn good grades and do whatever else you do on the side, definitely get full use of the college tuition you are paying for!

4. Apply for scholarships to lower your college costs.

Before you start your semester, you should always look into scholarships, grants, FAFSA, and more. You usually have to turn in any paperwork around spring time for the following semester, so I highly recommend doing this right now if you are going to college in the fall.

Another myth will be busted right now. Many believe that all scholarships are impossible to have or it means you have to win a contest. That is just a myth.

I received around $16,000 a year in scholarships to the private university I attended. That helped pay for a majority of my college tuition. The scholarships were easy for me to get as they were all just because I earned good grades in high school and scored well on tests. I received scholarships to all of the other colleges I applied for as well just for good grades, so I know they can be found as long as you do well in high school!

There are other ways to find scholarships as well. You can receive scholarships from private organizations, companies in your town, and more. Do a simple Google search and I am sure you will find many free websites that list out possible scholarships for you to apply to.

Tip: Many forget that you usually have to turn in a separate financial aid form directly to your college. Don’t forget to do this by the deadline each year!

5. Search for cheaper textbooks to lower your college budget.

Students usually spend anywhere from around $300 to $1,000 on textbooks each semester, depending on the amount of classes they are taking and their major.

For me, many of my classes required more than one book and each book was usually around $200 brand new. This means if I were to buy all of my college textbooks brand new, I probably would have had to spend over $1,000 each semester.

I saved a decent amount of money on college textbooks by renting them and finding them used. Renting them was nice because I just had to pay one fee and didn’t ever have to worry about what to do with the textbook after the class was done, as I only had to return them. There was no worrying about the book being worthless if a new edition came out, which was nice! Buying books used was nice occasionally as well just because sometimes I could make my money back.

I recommend Campus Book Rentals if you are looking for textbook rentals. Their rentals are affordable and they make getting the textbooks you need easy.

Read: How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review

6. Skip the high price of living on campus to cut your college budget.

To save more money, I decided to live on my own. I didn’t have the option of living at home after high school and living on campus would have cost me a ton of money.

Instead, I found a very cheap rental house (the house was VERY small and probably could have been considered a tiny home) and was able to somewhat easily commute to work and college from it. I probably saved around $500 a month by living on my own instead of on campus, and I learned a lot by living on my own at a young age as well.

If you can live at home though and want to save money, I highly recommend it if it’s an option for you. You can save thousands of dollars a semester by doing this!

I understand that some are against this because it may impact your “college experience,” but I think most people would be fine not living on campus, especially if it’s not in the budget. You could probably save around $40,000 over the years on your degree by living at home.

How did you cut college costs and control your college budget? How much student loan debt did you have when you graduated?

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