Archive for August, 2010

5 Super Useful Websites for the College Years

Have you ever been pinned by a relative, interrogated about your major, and then been slammed with the ever-dreaded question, “What are you going to do with that?” Or maybe you’ve wished you could rant (or rave!) about the social scene on your campus so the future freshmen know what they’re in for?

Me too.

That’s why I’ve thrown together a list of 5 great college-centered sites, perfect for passing a little time and preparing for the future during your college years.

1. CollegeMajors101
Don’t panic about what you’re going to do post-grad: College Majors 101 has the inside scoop on what fields are relevant to your major, so you can start exploring career options related to your real passions. (And even if you can’t decide, it can at least help you make up an answer for all those adults who want to talk about college and careers over summer break.)

2. Unigo
Wish you could have warned yourself about how tough your “party” school’s academic regimen would be? Or looking to transfer to a new school but not sure if you’ll like what you get? Unigo has insider info from students like you about real life on campus–and you can share your own tips and thoughts as well. Plus it has forums and Facebook integration for optimal social networkability, which never hurts! 😉

3. RateMyProfessors
An oldie but a goodie, RateMyProfessors has been around forever but still offers great insider tips about who to pick and who to skip when it comes time to sign up for classes. Get (or share) comments and scores on your prof or potential prof’s clarity, helpfulness, course difficulty, and overall quality. (And bonus, lots of them have a hotness rating, too–eye candy can help you stay awake in class… sometimes.)

4. DormDelicious
If you’re looking for tips about how to decorate, accessorize, and, well, live in the dorms, Dorm Delicious is a great place to start. With tips on everything from dorm-revolutionizing tech gadgets to a loft-bed how-to and thoughts about what items to split with your roomie – it is a great resource for starting (or continuing) life in your little cinderblock slice of heaven.

5. BrokeGradStudent
Ramen noodles are great and all, but they’re not the only way to make it through college without breaking the bank. Started by a grad trying to repay $20,000 in student loan debt, Broke Grad Student is a finance blog with a college twist, including tips on everything from making some extra cash to finding weird scholarships, and also includes info about living a comfortable but frugal lifestyle in between. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re planning to give away a shiny new iPod pretty soon–worth a look!

Got any go-to websites that you couldn’t get by without? Share ’em and enlighten me!


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2 comments August 30th, 2010

Summerwise: Financial Fitness Roundup

Financial fitness may not sound very sexy, but in reality it is your big ticket in to adulthood. More and more college grads are returning home to live with Mom and Pop, and while that might help pay off debt or save up some cash, it’s not exactly prime info to share on a first date–better to plan ahead and skip the boomerang trip back home!

This financial fitness roundup will help you get started on a regimen that will (hopefully!) help you keep your debt low and your budget healthy so you feel a little more prepared for a life of independence post-grad.

Build a Budget

Budgets are not always fun–trust me, I’m with you on this one–but what is fun is that they help you avoid debt and live within your means, so that down the road you have more financial freedom and less crippling debt. Here are a few articles to get you started with your budgeting practices:

Save Where You Can
Your internet bill and cell phone costs may be at a set price, but there are lots of ways to save while you’re in college–and saving in one category means more to spend in another (or, even better, some cash to put away for later).

Looking for more saving tips? There are hundreds of frugality-focused blogs out there, with everything from budgeting ideas to coupon codes and inside info on upcoming sales. Google “frugal blog,” “money saving blog,” or other similar keywords and search out your new favs.

Prepare for the Future

Living in the present is great, but preparing for the future now can save you from big headaches later. Using and building your credit wisely will make it easier for you to get a car loan, apartment, and one day a loan to buy a home of your own–and what you do now matters:

So take a little time this school year to get financially fit!
(Like the Summerwise series? Share your topic ideas here!)

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1 comment August 26th, 2010

Summerwise: 5 Tricks to a Scoring a Cheaper Flight

Since we moved to the East coast I’ve been shocked by how much it can cost to fly home for a visit, and lucky for you that means I’ve been figuring out how to work the system. Here’s what I do–and please feel free to share if you have tips or helpful input, I’d LOVE to hear it!

Watch Prices Like a Hawk. I scan several sites like ExpediaTravelocity, and Priceline to find out which days are cheapest to fly–always search a few days before and after your ideal date, because a little flexibility can save you hundreds of dollars. I also usually try to fly during the week, when flights tend to be cheaper, and if I have time I start watching prices months in advance to so I know when a good drop comes along.

Check the Student Sites. They’re not always the best bet, but websites like Student Universe and STA Travel sometimes have students-only discounts that can get you to your dream destination without breaking the bank.

Know Your Airline. Travel sites are great, but some airlines offer even lower prices if you buy directly from their website (and you get to skip the convenience fee that some of the all-inclusive sites charge you). I usually end up searching for the cheapest days on travel sites, and then booking through the airline’s website to get the lowest price.

While you’re there, sign up for frequent flyer miles! It will take a while to accrue enough for a flight, but the programs are free so you may as well get more for what you’ve paid for!

One, Two, Three, Four? If you’ve got several airports within a reasonable driving distance of either your departure or destination points (we have three within a 30 to 90 minute drive of our house and two close to where both sets of parents live), be sure to check on the difference! I always search all our airport options on both ends of the flight before I make a choice–sometimes 20 minutes of extra driving to a different airport saves us a few hundred bucks per ticket.

Pack Light. The tough economy has really made airlines get choosy with their freebies, and checking a bag now typically costs you $25 a pop–and that’s just one way! Instead, take advantage of the carry-on rules: pack a roll-on bag (be sure to check on the max size so they don’t force you to check) and use a backpack as your “personal item” to give you a little extra space. If you’re going on a long trip, it costs much less to do one or two loads of laundry half way through than it does to check a big fat bag full of all the clothes you could possibly need.

One last note: flexibility is KEY. Flights are more expensive during high travel seasons (summer, winter holidays, etc.) so a little wiggle room, like being willing to fly within a span of time or on a red-eye, can make a big difference when you’re trying to save!

Happy flying,


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2 comments August 23rd, 2010


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