Archive for December, 2008

Need Money for College? File the FAFSA!

New Year’s Day is close at hand, and while you’re busy making goals to burn off all the goodies you munched over the holiday break, why not add one goal to help you pay for college?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (a.k.a. the FAFSA)

I’m almost absolutely positive that you DON’T WANT to file the FAFSA–who wants to spend a perfectly good afternoon filling out tedious forms? But according to our paying-for-college guru Deborah Fox, spending a few short hours on the FAFSA could potentially mean getting some free money.

What Kind of Money Can I Get?

The FAFSA helps the government determine who is eligible for government grants (free money), work-study (jobs that help pay for school), AND federal student loans (which have to be paid back).

In fact, it is the only way for you to apply for federal student loans, which tend to have lower interest rates (so less to pay back) and better protections of your rights as a borrower than private student loans (like the ones you see advertised on TV).

What does that mean? Well basically, no matter how much you or your parents make, you should DEFINITELY apply for the FAFSA!

Also many schools determine who is eligible for their own private grants and scholarships based on the FAFSA, so it is a great tool to open yourself up to lots of financial aid possibilities.

What Do I Need to Know to Prepare?

Okay, so if you don’t think you’ll be likely to file the FAFSA yourself, you might want to pass this info on to your parents. Here are a few things you need to know about filing the FAFSA:

  • File as Soon after January 1st as possible. The earlier you file, the more likely you are to receive grants (the free money).
  • File even if you are…
    • A high school senior (you’re filing for your first year of college which will start in Fall)
    • A college student (unless you are in your last year and won’t be doing grad school)
    • A grad or med student (you may not get grants but will be eligible for loans)
  • Check out this top five list from the Pay for College Blog: What You Need to Know About How to File the FAFSA

This can make a huge difference in your college budget this year, so make sure you or your parents file it ASAP!!!

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1 comment December 26th, 2008

DIY Holiday Gifts for Moms, Aunties, & Grandmas

Christmas is less than a week away, and Hanukkah starts Monday, so this weekend is your last chance to get those DIY gifts ready and wrapped! Our last DIY Gift Roundup of the season is just for the mamas, aunties, and grandmas in your life.

Button Wreath Ornament. You know Martha had to get in on this-look how easy these adorable wreath ornaments are! (from Martha Stewart)

Shower Cap. Especially good for preserving those special holiday do’s, this shower cap is useful and surprisingly cute! (from Hoppo Bumpo)

Twig Serving Platter. Leave it to Design*Sponge to come up with a quirky and clever DIY platter-this makes for a simple-but-unique centerpiece with clean lines and a nice nod to nature. (from Design*Sponge)

Retro-Style Lined Apron. Baking, cooking, and even tidying up will be more fun with this charming little apron. Get your sewing needles ready and go for it! (from LuluLollyLegs)

Quilted Hexagon Flower Ornaments. Perfect for sewing beginners, these cute little ornaments will brighten up any tree, doorknob, or window! (from Lovestitches)

Hippie Chick Flower Soap. [Video] A fun little stocking stuffer, these hippie flower soaps are easy to customize with your own fragrances. (from WonderHowTo) Also, check out these sugary sweet Candy Heart Soaps [Video] from Martha Stewart!

And if none of these catch your fancy, I’d recommend poking around and, which are both full of creative DIY gift ideas ranging from easy peasy to week-long projects!

photo: design*sponge

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Add comment December 18th, 2008

The College Student’s Guide to Going Home for the Holidays

Packing up to head home for winter break? This trip might be a little different than spending a weekend there–so here’s your guide to making it through the holidays!

Prepare Your Parents
Your parents are probably still used to you as their high school student, so the transition to the more independent you that you’ve made over the past couple months may be a little shock to their systems. (I remember my dad asking if he needed to wake me up in the morning–I asked him how he thought I’d made it to class everyday if I needed a wakeup call!)

Make a point of discussing with your parents what they expect. Will your curfew be reinstated (and can you get it moved later)? Do they have family time scheduled that you should pencil into your plans? Is Mom going to be okay with you bringing home all your laundry?

Call, chat, text, or email, but just make sure you all know what to expect to make this visit fun & comfortable for everyone.

Schedule Your Fun
These precious weeks off will pass quickly, so be sure you plan out a few days to fit in those things you really want to do at home (don’t get sucked into using up your whole break on extra sleep and back-to-back sessions of Guitar Hero!)

So schedule a lunch meeting with your friends from high school, make time to play soccer with your little brother, and choose a day to get those last minute gifts bought and wrapped!

Make Some Cash

A few years away from home have probably opened your eyes to the expenses of independence, so take advantage of this homework-free time and earn some money! Check out this article I wrote about how to make money over winter break and my boss’s 5 ways to earn cash for college over at our sister site, the Pay for College Blog.

Re-stock for Next Semester
You know how you forgot your Foo Fighters CD, ate all of your Easy Mac, and just realized how badly you need that coat in the back of your closet at home? Well now is the time to re-stock for your next stint of school! Gather everything you need (and ask mom for help with that Easy Mac dilemma–they have a huge case at Costco!) and get packed up to go back well-prepared.

Happy Holidays–enjoy the time off!

photo: Suitcases by bb_matt

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Add comment December 16th, 2008

DIY Holiday Gifts for Kids

Flower Fairy Lights. Talk about economical-these fairy lights are made from regular cardboard egg cartons, but they’re actually pretty adorable! (photo above; from Esprit Cabane)

Felt Cupcakes. Perfect for little ones playing chef, these cute felt cupcakes are easy even for beginners to make. (from Rachael Rabbit)

Teeny Girl Doll. A pocket-sized dollie for a little sister, cousin, niece, or babysitting charge. 🙂 (from Making it Lovely)

Owl Stuffed Animal. This stuffed owl-named Abraham by his creator-fits in the palm of your hand! (from LollyChops)

Lambie iPod Case. This little lamb knows hip tunes when he hears them. I love how creative people get with iPod cases! (from Hip Girlie)  — My favorite, though, is still the one I made for my brother last year. (Find the tutorial here.) He’s still using it a year later!

photo: Esprit Cabane

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Add comment December 12th, 2008

DIY Gifts for Guys, Dudes, & Dads

Ready for another roundup of DIY gifts? Here we go!

Floppy Disk Pencil Holder. Perfect for a techie (or former techie), this goofy gift is sure to bring a smile. (from Esprit Cabane)

Bantha Stuffed Animal. Even if your guy, brother, or dad isn’t usually a fan of stuffed animals, this Star Wars Bantha plushie is sure to get a laugh. (from

Rock Candy. How can you go wrong with candy and a little blast from the past? A simple recipe for an old-school treat! (from Exploratorium)

Sketchbook. The perfect handmade gift for the artist in your life, this simple sketchbook is a lot of bang for your buck-and you can customize it to make it extra personal. (from Dani Draws)

Binary Scarf. Know how to knit? This scarf is perfect for the guy who can ace a math test and program computer games into his calculator, all in the same class. (from Knitty)

Classic Nintendo T-Shirt. I have yet to meet a guy (young or old!) who doesn’t appreciate a little TV-time. Salute your favorite gamer by whipping up an easy DIY Classic Nintendo T-shirt. 🙂 (from Diynamite)

Custom Tie. Dad may be tired of getting the same old tie year after year, so why not kick it up a notch this year and make one yourself? Get creative with funky fabrics or custom designs. I love the idea of painting or silk-screening them, too! (from Craftster)

More to come!

photo: diynamite

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5 comments December 8th, 2008

DIY Holiday Gift Roundup #1: Presents for Teen & College Girls

Last year’s DIY holiday gift roundups were so popular, I’ve decided to continue the tradition! Check out these new ideas (and see the end of the posts for links to last year’s entries!)

Fingerless Gloves Perfect for trips through the snow or late night reading on a chilly night, these cute DIY fingerless gloves are easy to make and charming to receive! (from A Foothill Home Companion)

Margaret Sling Bag This one is better for the intermediate crafter, but oh-so-cute when you finish it up. It’s a sure fire gal-pleaser. (from Oh, Fransson!)

Custom Quilted Wallet You’ll need a sewing machine for this one, but as far as quilting goes it’s okay even for beginners. The perfect place to stash credit cards and photos. (from that*darn*kat)

Laptop Sleeve This tutorial comes complete with a pattern and detailed directions. It fits a 15″ laptop! (from Living Creatively)

DIY Headbands A whole list of headbands you can make yourself-super cute and super easy! (from Altered Cloth)

Cupcake Bath Bombs Part sweet, part bath treat, these cute cupcake bath bombs are great for relaxing in the tub. (from Little Birdie Secrets)

Keep your eyes here for more DIY gift posts, and don’t foget to hit the archives for more ideas!

photo: little birdie secrets

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Add comment December 5th, 2008


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