Home Tags Posts tagged with "Budget"

Budget

How to Choose a Study Abroad Country

The excitement of studying abroad can be very thrilling. You will certainly enjoy traveling to another country as you will expand your horizons, explore new things and make lifelong connections with other people.

However, that does not mean that every country in the world is right for you. You must think about a few pointers when figuring out what country you would like to study abroad in.

Think About Your Budget

There are clearly going to be some limits as to where you can go. It’s certainly going to cost more to travel out to a more expensive place like Hong Kong or Singapore than it is to travel to the United Kingdom, for instance. Think about the costs associated with your study abroad plans and see if you can choose something that is easy for you to get into based on your budget.

What Are Your Interests?

Think about whatever you are interested in when choosing a place to study abroad in. What languages are you interested in studying, learning or speaking? Are there particularly cultural concepts in certain parts of the world that you are more interested in than others? Be sure to ask these and many other questions when thinking about what’s in the spot that you want to head out to. You might be surprised at what you can get into while studying abroad.

What Do You Want to Study?

There are many things that you can study all around the world. If you’re looking to study solar energy then maybe you can find a place in Africa where people are learning about this in order to help people. Meanwhile, if you are studying the arts then you can study abroad in a country that is rich in culture like France or Spain. Think carefully about what you want to study when choosing a place to head out to.

How Far Do You Want to Go?

Everyone has their own comfort zone that is based on what they are more interested in getting into. You must think carefully about what you want to do and if you are open to certain ideas relating to your mind, your faith and your attitudes towards health and living. Be advised that no matter where you go, the status quo in your life will certainly be tested.

The options for you to choose from when studying abroad are vast. Make sure you think twice when choosing a place that you want to study in. It’s all about having an experience that you are comfortable with while also expanding your horizons if possible.

Understanding Tuition and Other Costs

Selecting the right college for yourself or your child entails numerous factors. High on the list of considerations is the cost, which varies widely among schools.

If you are looking to apply to a college, you first need to find out how much it charges for tuition and fees. You also have to know the price tag for room and board, as well as books and supplies. Here is some information to aid you in understanding tuition and other costs involved in a college education.

Tuition

Tuition is the fee charged for the actual college education, charged by the semester or quarter. It is the sum you pay to sit in classrooms and be taught by qualified professors. Students who live in the same state as the school usually pay about half the tuition rate charged to out-of-staters.

Private schools typically have steeper tuition rates than those charged by public colleges. Students pursuing majors in science, engineering, computers, medicine, and the fine arts often are assessed higher tuition.

While the rate of increase in the cost of tuition slowed in 2013, the price continues to rise. Average in-state tuition that year in the United States was $8,893 at four-year, public universities and colleges; and $30,090 at private post-secondary schools.

The highest tuition rates in 2013-14 were at colleges in New Hampshire and Vermont, while the most affordable institutions were in Wyoming and Alaska. Half of full-time students at four-year institutions paid less than $10,300 in tuition and fees in 2012-13, according to the College Board.

Remember that those figures represent the initial cost, before financial aid and student loans are factored into the equation. Pell grants and other federal programs are available. Colleges and universities offer scholarships, as well as reduced rates for low-income students.

U.S. News & World Report compiled a ranking of “best value schools,” taking into account academic quality and tuition rates. The top five were Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While these universities charge relatively high tuition rates, significant financial aid is available.

Fees

In addition to tuition, colleges and universities charge a wide array of fees. The first ones you have to pay are the registration and orientation fees. There are also fees for parking spaces, library access, student union membership, recreational facility use, laboratory supplies, access to computers, and student activities.

This is a partial list, as each college has different fees. Waivers for certain types of fees are sometimes available. Speak with the college’s financial-aid administrator about any assistance for which you may be qualified.

Many colleges total their fees and charge a single sum, along with tuition. The College Board reported that the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2012-13 school year was $8,655 for in-state students at public colleges and $29,056 for those attending private schools.

Room and Board

Another significant expense involves student housing and food. The amount varies widely, depending on the sort of housing and meal plan you choose. For instance, simple dorms are cheaper than large apartments. Your room may have a bathroom, or you could have to share bathing facilities down the hall. You can save money by living with more than one roommate.

Colleges and universities generally lump the cost of housing and meals, also called room and board, into a single expense. The average amount in 2012-13 was $9,205 at public schools and $10,462 at private institutions.

An option is to buy a meal plan, but live off campus. You may want to commute from your old home, or rent an apartment (by yourself or with other students).

Books and Supplies

Students also have to come up with money for books and supplies. They must buy textbooks, reference books, and other printed materials. Required supplies include notebooks, file folders, pens, and pencils.

The average cost of these items in the 2012-13 school year reportedly was $1,200 at public colleges and $1,244 at private schools.

Total Cost

According to the College Board, in-state students at public colleges paid an average of $22,261 during the 2012-13 school year for tuition, fees, supplies, meals, and housing. The organization reported that a “moderate” budget for a private college that year was $43,289.

In deciding which colleges to consider, you need to know how much they charge for everything. Then, find out about the financial aid you might be able to get. Understanding tuition and other costs may help get you into the best college you can afford.

Choosing a University: What Colleges Don't tell you

Getting the right college degree from the right university will probably one of the most important decisions of your life concern. Some of the most important factors in selecting the right university are:

Where Should You Attend?

The first decision should be whether to attend a school in your home state, out of state or a school in another country. One thing that will influence this, aside from cost, is whether you want to be close to your family and friends. Some college students enjoy the sense of freedom and adventure of being in a new place.

Think About the Career You Want

Not every school offers the best training in the field you want to enter. Some universities have a reputation for offering excellent courses in some fields. For example, MIT is known as a top-class university for people who are into technology. Check the website and look at the course listings and the curriculum of the schools you are most interested in attending.

What Can You Afford?

The amount you can afford to pay will have to play a big role in choosing a college. If you will have to depend on scholarships and financial aid to get through, make sure to find out what is available. Some schools will have more scholarships and funding opportunities.

Extra-Curricular Activities

If you are big on a particular sport, you should make sure that you choose schools that participate in these sporting activities. If you are a player, choose schools that will make it possible for you to play. If you enjoy going to clubs and giving back to the community, the school should offer these opportunities as well. Any college you consider should ideally have an interest in culture, sports, volunteering and being socially active.

You also need to be realistic about your choices. Some schools are extremely difficult to get into, so make sure to apply not only to the top schools but also to good, middle-tier schools. Other things that will help you in making a decision when doing your research are:

  • Your emphasis on religion: If this is important to you, find out if places of worship are on campus or if they are close by
  • What others think about your choices: Talk to current students and alumni about their own experiences in college. Alumni are a great source of information if the programs helped them meet their career expectations. Current students can share their feelings and insight into the university
  • Available resources and facilities: If for example you are planning to study the sciences, look for schools with well-equipped labs
  • The meal option that is available: For religious or personal reasons you might not eat certain foods. Make sure you will be able to get the food you want whether on campus or nearby. If this is not possible, find out if you can cook on your dorm.

After careful consideration, you should ideally have three or four schools that fit the bill. These schools should be at the top of your list. The advice as to how many schools to apply to varies, with some people suggesting a minimum of three, while others saying six. However, it is up to you to decide how many applications to send out. Talk to your school counselor and your parents to help you make a decision. Some students send out over 10 college applications to increase their chances of gaining admission to one.

Be practical in your selection of a school. With research and effort, you can find the ideal college at which to further your education. Just make sure that you are choosing a college for the right reason. Finally, if possible, visit the campuses to get a firsthand view of what is available.

How to manage your college budget

College is the time when you probably start earning for the first time and hence you need to be knowledgeable about finance basics to cruise through. You need to learn to juggle paying for tuition, living expenses and partying too. College is a heady time so you should try to keep your feet firmly on the ground especially with regard to spending. In this article, we offer useful tips on how to manage your college budget.

Prepare a Budget before You Start College

Make a rudimentary budget before you land on the campus. List your “income” (student loans, part-time job paychecks, help from parents) and expenses (tuition, books and living costs). Make sure the income column is more than the expenses column. A basic budget can help you stay in great financial shape through the academic year.

Get a Part-Time Job

For additional income, find yourself a suitable part-time job on or near the campus. On-campus gigs are preferable because the employer would be clued into your needs (flexible hours, extra time for studying and assignments, etc). Some jobs like minding the library or gym can actually provide you time to finish homework.

Scout for Student Discounts

Be on the lookout for student discounts offered by clothing shops, salons, travel agencies, movie theaters, bookstores and restaurants near the campus. These businesses gain by word-of-mouth publicity from benefitting students. So carry your student ID at all times and don’t be scared to flash it and ask for available discounts. This is a pleasantly surprising method to save money and enjoy yourself too.

Think Creatively

Think out of the box about ways to save money. You can buy used books or borrow them from the library, opt for less expensive meal plans and eat pizza less often to start with. Make a list of opportunities where you can scrimp and save money. Be creative and come up with options that can help you save your hard-earned moolah.

Be Careful with Your Credit Cards

Credit card companies throng campuses to offer credit cards to students without charging a fee for using them. It can be a heady feeling for a student to flaunt their credit card and buy whatever they wish. But indiscriminate buying can boomerang and you quickly rack up a huge bill in no time. So be judicious with your credit cards and pay off the due amount on time to avoid paying exorbitant interest on the unpaid balance. Use your credit cards wisely as an aid to balance your monthly budget.

Keep an Amount for Emergencies

Life can throw up unexpected surprises and it pays to be prepared for them. So keep a fixed amount handy for emergencies like car problems, medical treatment expenses, etc. Most schools offer a small amount in emergency funds that you can utilize in your hour of need. So do your homework and learn about this facility beforehand so that you can be on top of any emergency situation if it arises.

Track Your Purchases

Preserve all your bills and count your expenses at the end of the month to know exactly how much you have spent. Allot a specific amount of a few dollars for each day to spend on miscellaneous stuff like coffee, snacks, etc. Try to limit your daily spending to within this fixed amount. You can relax a bit during the weekends and spend a bit more as long as it is within your monthly budget.

Summary

A penny saved is a penny earned. So don’t be extravagant with your spending or try to impress your friends with fancy gadgets, clothes and more. If your finances are under control, you will be able to study and party with a happy mind. So err on the side of caution when it comes to spending money at college.

Personal Finance for the New Graduate

Although money management skills are important, many people have a problem handling their personal finances. This issue is even more important for new college graduates. As they leave school they will be faced with repaying student loans while dealing with other expenses like rent and healthcare. Many new graduates do not find the jobs right away, making it even more important to manage their money.

With some planning and good financial advice, the new graduate can cover bills and save money for the future. Here are some tips that can help in managing your personal finances:

Create a Budget

This is probably the most important aspect of money management. It will take a few months before you get a sense of your spending patterns and expenses if you are new to budgeting. When you look at your income and expenses, this will give you an idea of how much you can save. If you are unable to save, examining the budget can help to decided where you can cut some costs.

Never use more from your credit card than you need to, and try to clear the balance each month. This will help you to avoid additional interest. Do not go shopping for clothes if you don’t need them, and avoid eating out unless you absolutely have to. Ultimately, your main goal is to keep your spending below the level of your income. This is the only way you will be able to save.

Reduce Living Expenses

This can mean getting a roommate and sharing the rent or moving in with your parents. Either way you can save a lot of money that you can put towards savings. For some grads, their parents’ home might be the best option since they can live there rent free. It is a good idea to contribute towards expenses such as food, but the bulk of your money should be saved.

Set aside Money for Emergencies

Some people save in a special account for emergencies. This savings is not used for daily expenses or other living expenses. At any time, a crisis may arise, such as a major health problem. Putting money aside in an account that yields high interest, such as a market mutual fund is a good idea. In an emergency you can pull from these funds without putting a strain on your budget. Note that it will take some time to create this sort of fund, so it is best to start early.

Get Books and Information on Money Management

You can search the Internet for used books that cover this important topic. Some of these books actually target new college graduates, so you will find that much of the information applies to you. Do some research on the author of any book you are thinking of buying. This will help to ensure that you are getting advice from a qualified person.

The Internet has lots of information on money management that will come in useful to you now and later on in life. Learning what you can and applying some of these tips to your own life will help you become financially independent.

Avoid New Debts

Do not create any new debt unless it is for something vital. This is even more important if you have student loans to deal with. If you are struggling to get by, that is not the time to buy new furniture or a new TV, even if these items are on sale. You should also try to clear your existing debts as quickly as possible.

College students and recent grads need to be smart in the way they handle their money but they don’t have to be experts. Personal finance involves common sense decisions such as putting extra money towards their student loan. This is a smart move as it helps to clear your loan quicker.  Aside from saving money, it is wise to invest money in mutual funds and similar investment instruments. With discipline, you can end up with enough money to help clear debts or make a down payment on a house.

Staying fit

Living on a student budget is no reason to forego your health and fitness level. Finding free fitness options can actually be a great way to create lifelong healthy habits, make new friends and relieve the regular stress associated with college life.

When beginning a new fitness routine, remember that you want something convenient and fun. If something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to move on to the next option.

Hit the local library

Check your college library for books and DVDs with fitness routines; and if you can’t find any you like, head to a nearby community library where they’re likely to have a good selection. The best part about using the library is that you can regularly change up your routine. You can make copies of routines you find in books and create a binder, alternating routines every few weeks. With DVDs, you can select a new one every week.

Head for the pavement

Running outside will always be free. Get a group of friends together and consider starting a running group so everyone stays motivated. You can run through your campus or find a local trail. Keep things interesting by selecting a new path or location each week. If you live by hills or mountains, try challenging yourself with uphill runs to mix things up.

Find your faves on YouTube

100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute! Using search terms like “dorm room workout” or “body weight exercises,” you’ll find some great routines that can be done in the comfort of your dorm room or outside. Subscribe to your favorite channels and keep your eyes peeled for fresh content. You could even consider making your own, which may increase your motivation and keep you excited about working out.

Find free workout websites

Similar to YouTube, there are now several fitness sites with videos that are completely free. The great thing about these is that you don’t have to sift through unrelated videos to get to what you want. If you enjoy yoga, try DoYogaWithMe.com. If you want to try out some new body weight exercise routines or interval training, try FitnessBlender.com. ToneItUp.com is geared towards women and provides new videos regularly as well.

There’s an app for that

The number of fitness apps grows every single day. If you have a smart phone, you can take advantage of free apps that provide interval timers, workouts, workout tracking and more. Checkout Workout Trainer, Nike Training Club and Daily Workouts Free to start. Or, just search keywords like “fitness,” “workout” and “exercise” to get started finding your own. Create a section on your phone just for these apps and try to rotate between them each time you exercise.

Start your own team or league

Many colleges have intramural sports teams but sometimes it costs to play. Start your own league or team with a group of friends. If you all work together, you can create flyers to hang on boards around campus, create a Facebook group, or even a free WordPress site to spread the word and keep track of interest.

Try it out

Many gyms and studios with fitness classes will let you come for one week free, or let you try one class for free. You may only get one week or one day, but depending on how many gyms and studios there are around you, it could take a while to use up all your freebies. This is also a great opportunity to figure out what you really like. Maybe a yoga class really appeals to you, or maybe you enjoy more dance or weight training. Once you figure out what kind of classes you like use that knowledge to find other free resources online or at the library as mentioned earlier.

If you have a little extra to spend

If you’re willing to spend a small amount of money, sign up with sites like GroupOn and Living Social which offer discounted passes to local studios. You can also purchase used fitness DVD’s online at Amazon and sell them back when you’re ready to try something new.  Last but not least, ask if your local rock climbing gym, yoga studio or golfing green offers student discounts.

There are plenty of opportunities for you to stay fit and have fun on a student budget. The most important thing is to do things you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find your niche.

Eating Healthy on a College Budget

Between your studies, work and social life, you have little time for illness as a college student. But, you also have a limited budget to work with. Below you’ll find tips to keep you full and fueled without breaking the bank.

Buy in bulk

You can often find dried fruits, nuts and grains in bulk at the grocery store. Stock up on nuts and dried fruit to have for snacks between classes and use grains such as oats, rice and buckwheat for breakfast or as sides to lunch and dinner meals. Some fresh fruits and vegetables are regularly sold in one pound bags. Apples, onions, carrots and potatoes add more flavor for less calories and less money.

Buy in season

When you’re purchasing produce, use an online resource such as eattheseasons.com to find out what’s in season near you. When items are in season, they are abundant, and this drives the price down. If you have a freezer, you can stock up on some of your favorite foods.

Use the freezer

You can store more than produce in the freezer. When you find meals you like, make more servings at once and freeze the extras. You can let them thaw out during the day and heat them up when you get home in the evening.

Drink more water

Juices and sodas are expensive and many of them are just sugar bombs. Drink more water and try flavoring it with fresh fruit like lemons and berries.

Pack in the protein

Protein can be more expensive than other items but it will often keep you fuller for longer. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are more affordable than meat. Beans and dairy products like cheese and yogurt also provide protein at a lower cost.

Fill up on healthy fats

Did you know that healthy saturated fats actually benefit your brain? Foods like raw nuts, avocados, and coconut benefit your body by helping you absorb more nutrients and fueling your brain. They also help keep you full. Add them to meals or pack them as snacks.

Save with soup and stir fry

You can make a wide variety of soups and stir-frys without even following a recipe. All you need is broth, your favorite vegetables and some spices. Add beans, meats or quinoa to make it more filling and you have a simple and affordable meal. You can easily make several batches at once.

Make friends with grocery store employees

Speak with employees to learn when new shipments come in, when sales start and when items go on clearance. This is a great way to get meat for up to 50% off the original price. Many times, grocers will mark down meat on its freeze by date. You can go back to scoop it up that day and cook it that night or freeze for later.

Snacking between classes

If you are out on campus and only have vending machine options, look for roasted nuts, baked chips or crackers, instead of cookies and candy. A better option, however, is to plan ahead. If you have a meal plan, take an extra yogurt, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit before you leave for your first class. If you live off campus, pack snacks ahead of time. Trail mix, nuts, avocados, chopped veggies and fruits can all be eaten on the go.

Make it fun

Invite your friends over for a potluck rather than going out for dinner. Encourage each person to bring a homemade dish for everyone to share. Homemade doesn’t always mean healthy, but you’ll often find this to be a better and more affordable option than a big night out.

It’s easy to be tempted by late night cafes and cheap junk food, but a little extra work will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Be creative with your budget. Don’t be afraid to try new things and find the balance that works best for you.

How to choose a university

Deciding where to go to college is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. How to choose a university entails a number of considerations. You want to find the college that best meets you priorities, in terms of academics, facilities, policies and other factors. Of course, your budget will play a significant role. Selecting the university that is the right match for you can result in a rewarding career. On the other hand, if you go to a school that does not meet your needs and inspire you to learn, you might get discouraged and drop out before earning a degree.

Begin by compiling a list of colleges in your area, as well as those elsewhere that you want to consider. If you are looking for a school close to home, your list will be shorter. You can save a lot of money by commuting to classes from your family home. However, many consider getting away from home part of the college experience. Staying in a a dorm involves living with different people, managing your money, and providing for yourself in terms of meals and other needs. You have to make choices and decisions not faced while living at home. The life skills you attain may be as valuable as the academic lessons.

Decide whether you want to consider small colleges, large universities or both. A college in a little town may offer smaller class sizes and a more personal environment. Major universities have more classes, facilities and activities.

Research which universities offer degree programs in the field that you plan to study. Consult the various college-rating schemes to see how the institutions on your list rank. Learn their tuition rates, fees, and cost of room of board. This step will likely eliminate some of the candidates. However, a seemingly expensive school may fit in your budget if it offers scholarships or other types of financial aid for which you are eligible.

Find out colleges’ requirements regarding ACT and SAT scores, to make sure you qualify. Consider class sizes and the faculty’s qualifications. If you are physically disabled, struggle with a learning disorder, or have emotional or social problems, see which schools offer the facilities and policies you require. Check out extracurricular activities. Some colleges feature an array of recreational facilities for students, while many offer clubs and programs for the arts and other interests. Academics are just part of the college experience. Make sure the school you choose provides enriching opportunities outside the classroom.

Find out about the academic performance of the students at a college, and the kinds of jobs that graduates have gotten in your field of interest. Learn about schools’ teaching methods, which may be traditional or alternative. You also may be interested in policies regarding grading, safety and campus security, discipline and other matters.

Don’t pay a lot of attention to a school’s reputation, whether good or bad. A college may not be right for you, even if it is considered prestigious. A bad reputation may be unfounded or misleading. Take with a grain of salt any advice offered by friends or family members. They may be basing their opinions on limited personal experience or anecdotal evidence. Find out for yourself.

Reading the information that colleges send you does not provide the whole picture. They spend a lot of money to produce slick brochures and other materials designed to entice you. View their publications and websites as critically as you would a television commercial.

Once you have reduced your list to a few colleges, start scheduling campus visits. Meet administrators and professors, and talk informally with students. Tour the classrooms, library, cafeteria, student-activities areas, dormitories and other facilities. Make sure the information technology is up-to-date. Sit in on some classes to get a feel for what it would be like to attend the college. Try to determine whether it is a place where you will feel secure, happy and eager to learn. Get a sense of the social and political climate on campus. It’s a good idea to take friends or family members with you on the tour, so you can benefit from their perspectives.

Knowing how to choose a university is a complex matter. There are myriad factors to ponder, based on your needs and budget. Start your search early, with an eye on colleges’ deadlines for admissions and student-housing applications.

You will need to set your priorities, because some compromises are inevitable. If you accurately assess your requirements, and thoroughly consider the universities that fit the bill, you have a good chance of finding the right place for a rewarding post-secondary learning experience.

Five Frugal Living Tips for Students

As a student you do not have to lead the life of an ascetic to make ends meet, whereas it is imperative that you are financially comfortable, to be able to better focus on your college coursework, indulging in a few luxuries does not have to break your bank account. A key contributing factor is the amount you manage to save on your daily expenses. Keep in mind no saving is too small, and every bit adds up. Below are some broad guidelines to help you keep on top of your expenses and make your money go further.

Student Discounts

Availing student discounts is a great way to save money. For example, the campus restaurant usually provides the best value for money in terms of price and quality. If you live in a college town, there are regular student discounts on offer for shopping, pizza delivery, event tickets and even laundry services. You can find details in the local magazine or the campus newspaper. Travel discounts for students are valid for airfares, trains and buses, as well as group tours. Amtrak, for example, offers a Student Advantage Card that gives students 15 percent off the lowest price offer.

Get Group Discounts

You can get group or bulk discounts – for shows, exhibitions, concerts and even restaurants – by buying in a group rather than individually. Many venues offer larger group discounts on certain dates or during specific hours of the day.

Books and Stationary

Your student card makes you eligible for a host of discounts on textbooks, stationary and everyday items at various stores on and off campus – your seniors will definitely know about them- keep a tab on such stores. Make optimal use of public and university libraries. These are free but excellent sources of books and other research and study materials like computers and the internet. Make extensive use of the internet in the libraries if you have a limited budget and would not like to pay for a subscription. There are several online websites offering used textbooks in good condition, so you do not have to spend money on material for each course. Don’t hesitate to ask students who have taken same courses before if they would sell you used textbooks. Computer shops also have regular student deals. You can find help with finding an affordable laptop in your area on the Lenovo website.

Get the Shopping Done Together

If you are sharing an apartment and are keen on saving money by cooking and eating at home, you can shop in groups. Find a person who has a car, or if nobody has one, get a taxi to the closest discount store together. This will save you money, as you can get BOGOF offers, as well as discount vouchers on the next shopping trip.

Get Your Coupons Together

Some people think that coupons are only for housewives, and students would surely not have enough time to collect them. The key is to “divide and conquer”. Designate teams to hunt down coupons and offers for a specific product or service. E.g. you might be in charge of “eating out” offer hunt, while another team could be in charge of supermarket or book offers. This is an effective way of stretching the dollar.

Feedback