Things to consider when deciding whether to move off campus

As leases are signed for next academic year, there comes a time when you need to sit down and think about what you will need in order to move from the dorms into your own place. While getting out of the dorms may be a nice reprieve, there are some “behind the scenes” costs and ideas that you need to consider before making the decision as to where to live and with whom to live.

The biggest thing to consider whether or not you are prepared to handle a multitude of new responsibilities by yourself. No one is going to be there to clean up after you anymore, which means that you need to start doing it yourself. While cleaning the bathroom is not the most fun task in the world, it is a necessary step to help ensure your own personal hygiene.

Another major thing to know/consider is the structure of your lease. If your lease states that you and your roommate(s) are in a separate tenancy agreement, that means that each of you signs a contract with the landlord so if one person needs to move out or does not pay rent on time, the others are not effected. The other way that your lease can be structured is as a joint tenancy agreement. If someone is late on rent or wants to move out, all those listed on the lease can be affected.

A final thing to consider is an agreement with your roommates. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, but write up a set of rules and have all people living with you sign it with someone not on the lease as a witness. This way, if someone is not pulling their weight, or refuses to pay rent, you can have some legal recourse against them. This is especially important if you have a lease with joint tenancy. You do not want to be on the hook for your roommate’s part of the rent if they are delinquent in their payment, and a signed agreement with your roommates might help to alleviate your potential financial burden.

All of these things are ideas to consider before deciding where to move to and who you want to live with. You will have to deal with those other students every single day, so make sure you choose wisely. Moving off campus can be an excellent experience, just make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row so you can enjoy your time as much as possible.

Ideas for a Cheaper Spring Break Trip

As spring break approaches (it’ll be here before you think), students from all over the country are looking for a warm destination to get away from their school work for a week. Most students are on a tight budget and only have a certain amount of money set aside for the week. Obviously, you are going to want to make your dollar go as far as you possibly can, and here are a few ideas on how you can get the most bang for your buck.

The biggest cost saver is to plan ahead, and if you are reading this and haven’t started planning yet, you might be in a little bit of trouble. Planning ahead helps you to avoid peak time pricing, and also relieves stress as the big week approaches. Another thing to consider before you head out is where you are going to be staying. Certain locations might have hostiles which can be rented for a cheap rate per night. Another possibility would be to go to a location with a family member or friend and bunk up with them for the week.

Once you are at your destination, there are a couple more tips to help you save a dollar here and there. The first tip is to bring your student ID and see if restaurants and shops offer student discounts. Not all places offer a discount, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Another way to avoid unnecessary costs is to avoid buying silly souvenirs. While a refrigerator magnet might not break the bank, how many t-shirts or other silly merchandise do you really need? Finally, look for deals whenever possible. Most places have tourist booklets with coupons in them for free. Check out the offers in those booklets and plan some meals or excursions around what is discounted.

Spring break can be an exciting time to relieve the stresses of school as well as get away to a warm destination for a week. However, going far away doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank in order to enjoy your time. Create a budget and do your absolute best to stick to it. Look for local deals and bring as much food and drink with you as you can to limit the amounts you have to buy at your destination. Spring break should be a week full of fun, and there are many ways to do it without breaking the bank.

Exam Week: The Final “Payoff” of the Semester

Exam week can be one of the most stressful weeks of our young adult lives. A semester’s worth of information has to be retained and then applied to exams in 3, 4, 5, and sometimes even 6 different classes. While it is certainly academically beneficial to study hard in order to do well on your exams, there also is a financial aspect to consider.

The average tuition cost for an in-state student in the US is just over $10,000 per year (or $5,000 per semester). If the average student takes 15 credits per semester, you are paying $333.33 per credit, or $1,000 per 3 credit class. I don’t know of too many college students who would want to shell out an extra $1,000 to retake a course the next semester, simply because they bombed their finals and in return failed the course.

Some tips that experts have come up with to help remain calm during exam week can not only help your academic performance, but also your wallet. Perhaps the biggest tip to be offered up is to get some sleep! While cramming until 3 am sometimes has to be done, make sure that you are adequately rested for whatever you have coming the next day. Another way to help you get proper amounts of sleep is to budget out your time. If you section off times for studying, eating, socializing, and sleeping, you should then be able to get all the things done that you need to get done without too much stress. Finally, eating well is key to peak performance. Your body needs to proper nutrients to function at maximum capacity, so while that late night Taco Bell run might seem like a great idea, try eating some fruit and drinking a glass of water.

Exam week is not a fun time for anyone, but you can certainly learn to manage it if you put yourself on a schedule, eat healthy, and get proper amounts of sleep. Having to retake a class because of a poor exam performance not only hurts your GPA and your pride, but it will cost you financially as well.

Gift Giving on a Budget

As the holidays are rapidly approaching, many people are beginning to look for gifts for loved ones, co-workers, or those in need. However, not everyone has the financial resources to give the newest gadget or hottest clothing item on the shelves. There are many ways out there to limit the total amount of money you are spending, yet still give meaningful gifts to others.

A common example of that would be to draw names from a pool of people. Whether there are 5 or 25 names in the pool, if you are able to set a spending limit that is affordable, you only have to worry about getting a gift for one person. Another idea would be to to create your own gifts at home. Something as simple as a picture in a picture frame with a thoughtful note written on it will certainly tell the person you are gifting that you care a lot about them. Finally, the gift of your time is the most special gift of all. Spend the day or the weekend with your loved one doing things that you both enjoy. While there may be no material item attached, they will surly appreciate creating memories with you more than a new sweater or pair of shoes.

The holidays are a time for giving, but that doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank to do it. Putting some time and thought into your gifts means a lot to whomever is receiving them. Hopefully you are able to take something away from these tips and apply them towards your holiday season this year.

The Importance of an Individual Retirement Account

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a type of investment account that is built for retirement savings. As fewer Americans have money saved away for retirement, I think that it is important to inform those who are looking to start saving, at some of their options. There are two main IRA’s; a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. A traditional IRA is an account that you can put up to $6,000 annually ($7,000 if you are over 50) and that money can be deducted on your taxes for the current year. A Roth IRA is similar in the sense that you can contribute $6,000/$7,000 annually, however the money is not tax deductible at the time you put it in, but your qualified distributions on the back end are tax-free.

Why are these tools so important? The answer is time! The power of compound interest is incredible. These retirement accounts are easy to set up and easy to contribute to every month. You can also take any amount of the principal that you put into these accounts at anytime. The only amounts that have to stay in until you are 59.5 (without paying a 10% penalty fee) is the growth. This allows you to even use an IRA as an emergency fund if needed. If you suddenly were to need some money, and you had it invested in an IRA, go ahead and take out as much principal as you need (with the plan to replace the full amount). Take advantage of retirement accounts as soon as you can, and you will reap the benefits in the future.