Monthly Archives: June 2012

How to Save as a Poor College Student

Filed under: College Life, Money/Budget - Social Community Manager
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Every college freshman experiences financial issues. Going to college for the first time can feel like being on cloud nine. You’re floating along, going to parties, going out to eat, spending all the money you saved from the summer before or all the money Mom and Dad sent you off with, when suddenly – the money and the cloud are gone and you’re left sinking into a finance issue, with a bank account sinking as well.

Don’t be ashamed. It happens to almost all of us incoming college students, so here are a few helpful tips to keep you on that financial cloud nine.

Find a job.

This may sound obvious to those who worked during high school, but for those who did not need to, this may seem like a last resort. You will make money and new friends with your co-workers, gain good real world experience, and create new opportunities for yourself.  Look for places where you have the possibility to move up, or that have benefits for college students.  I currently work for a grocery chain in the Midwest known as Hy-Vee. Hy-Vee offers a 401K plan for everyone ages 19 and over.  This is the kind of benefit I am talking about.

cat with money

© bokeh burger

Find the right bank.

Look at the banking options you have around you. Check out the savings account and checking account options. Which one has the highest interest rate? Do any of them offer start up or joining benefits? I highly recommend starting out with a checking account. Once you’ve accumulated around $500, start a savings account, which usually have to be started with a $100 deposit. Start a monthly automatic transfer of a small sum from your checking into your savings.  This way, you’ll be automatically saving money and not even thinking about it.

Create a budget.

This may seem like the solution to all your problems. “Oh I’ll just start a budget and stick with it. No problem.” It is actually a lot harder than it seems. First, take a look at the things in your life that are costing you money: driving, eating out, groceries, going out with friends, rent, utilities, etc. Then, take a look at how many hours you work during a week. This may seem overwhelming, but once you know where all your money is going, where you can cut back, and where you can afford to give more, you will feel much more confident in your financial situation.  Make a list of all things you cannot live without, and then plan out how much you can put towards these items each week.  Remember; do not plan on spending all your paycheck on these things every week. You will want to have a little “random” fund set aside in case of emergencies or something comes up.  If you’re planning on creating the savings account with the automatic transfer of money, do not forget to budget that in either.

 Take advantage of your options.

If you attend school in a big town, like I am in Iowa City, take advantage of the buses. Many times, the university’s bus system will be free, which could save your gas money for the week.

Look for coupons online and at the nearby grocery store. I am not recommending becoming an extreme couponer, just think about what you’re buying and where you can afford to save.

Find the free shows downtown or go to the park and play Frisbee golf with friends! Activities that are free usually tend to be a lot more fun for you and your pocketbook.

Jump into your new financial situation with confidence and knowledge, and have a great time doing it! Check back monthly for more blogs about finances and other situations that every college student is going to want to know about.

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3 Ways for Students to Improve Their Living Space

Filed under: College Life - Social Community Manager
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Don’t laugh, but I’m a huge believer in feng shui, the Chinese philosophy that teaches us how to create balance and harmony. Donald Trump uses it, airlines use it, heck, Oprah uses it, and the more I practice it, the more I wish I’d jumped on the bandwagon sooner. These last couple of weeks I’ve been embracing it in my bedroom and the results have been very rewarding; I feel more productive and inspired. There are a lot of feng shui tips floating around out there, but, as one student to another, I thought I would share a few of the ones that have worked well for me.

Get rid of the excess:

Clutter doesn‘t just impact your closet space, it also impacts your mental space. Take a few minutes and purge the clothes you haven’t worn in a year or two and other things you can live without. When you have a small space, anything extra makes it feel that much smaller. Clear desktops and bedside tables cluttered with papers, textbooks, or other projects. In the workspace, sometimes it’s really discouraging having a visual reminder of the things you have to get done, so instead make a list or write it in a planner.

milk crate stools

Milk crate storage stools on Pinterest

Maintain openness:

Maybe in high school you liked to cover your walls with pictures torn out of magazines and posters of your favorite bands and singers, but a good tip for making your room seem bigger is to not hang up every single picture you own. Instead, pick a few to hang, or nix pictures altogether and try a good-sized mirror. In feng shui, mirrors rid space of negative energy and create a calm and refreshing mood. Plus, when you open the blinds and the sun shines through the window, the light will reflect off the glass, creating the illusion of a roomier space.

Try your luck at a green thumb:

 

plants

I'd study here. Via Pinterest

For college students, plants are the easiest living things to care for next to fish. They clean the air and make your room a little less dreary and a lot more alive. Spider plants and ivy’s are easy to care for, but if you’re really doubting your ability to keep a plant alive, try a cactus or the notorious bamboo. Believe it or not, the type of plant you choose says a lot about you. Roses may indicate you care a lot about beauty, whereas if you kill a cactus, you know you’re less nurturing than a desert.

Try one or all of these tips, and see what happens. Sometimes just rearranging your room or changing the color of your bedding can help your mindset. The goal is to get yourself out of the unmotivated funk you’re in, so take a break and see what you could do differently to improve your state of mind.

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BookRenter’s Newest Video Contest!

Filed under: College Life - Social Community Manager
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We’re pretty eager to know how many different kinds of amazing things you can dream up to do with all of the money you save by renting textbooks from BookRenter. Instead of asking you to tell us, though, we want to see your imagination run a little wild! By sharing with us that thing you’ve always wanted to do – whether big or small – you could win one of ten pretty solid prizes.

dream big

THE ASK: submit a photo and/or a 30-60 second video conveying a highly memorable (perhaps even life-changing) experience that could be funded with the money you save with BookRenter. Dream big – you can save an average of $500 per year, which can mean $2,000 or more in your pocket by the time you graduate. Make your entry compelling, funny, or amazing – but most of all INTERESTING – interesting enough, in fact, that you would repost it on YouTube or Instagram, and share with all of your friends. The content and tone are decided by YOU, so surprise us.

Here are the ideas people have shown us so far. How would you tell your story?

BookRenter’s prize winners will be determined based on originality, inspirational value, and quality – and we have ten heafty prizes to award!

BookRenter Awarded Prizes

Video

First place:   $3,000

Second place: $1,000

Third place: $500

Fourth place: $500

Print

First place:   $500

Second place: $200

Third place: $100

Fourth place: $100

Viewer Voted Prizes

Most voted video:   $200

Most voted photo:  $150

Find out even more about the contest here, and a big head’s up: the contest deadline is July 20th, so get crackin’ today!

(We’ve also created a sweet board on Pinterest to kick-start your inspiration. Check it.)

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6 Tips to Cool Down in the Summer Heat

Filed under: Social Life/Relationships, Tips - Social Community Manager
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If the summer is getting just way too hot to bear, don’t bare it all yet – here are some of my tips on how to plan right to tackle that heat, and enjoy yourself at the same time.

1. Pack drinks before you go out: Staying hydrated is key. Bring some bottled water or other drinks with before you leave the house. By bringing drinks from home, you won’t need to buy any over-priced drinks at your destination and show off a cute colorful water bottle at the same time.

2.    Avoid the hottest part of the day: It’s typically the hottest outside between 1pm-4pm. By avoiding being outside around these times, you won’t have to suffer through the most intense heat. If you need to be outside during this time, make sure to cover up with a hat, sunglasses, sunblock and lightweight, light-colored clothing.

3.    Keep your hair short or pulled back: Men and women with longer hair can feel hotter in the summer heat. If your hair is long, go out on a limb and try a rebellious new hairstyle like a pixie cut or a bob, or pull it back and off your neck in a ponytail or bun. If a haircut is out of the question, packages of hair ties are less than $5.

4.    Visit a water park: Although on the expensive side to visit, it will be entertaining for an entire day. Most waterparks charge less than $50 per person, and between all the great water rides, lazy river, and pools, waterparks are a great escape from your average daily routine while keeping cool.

swimming pool

Photo © Tahir Hashmi

5.    Swimming at a friend’s pool: If you have a friend that has a pool, go swimming at their house! Pack a picnic for some snacks and drinks for the day and enjoying floating around or playing water volleyball with a group of friends.

6.    Sleep with a fan, thinner blanket and less clothes: Now it’s time to go to bed, but just because the sun goes down, doesn’t mean the temperature necessarily does. Try a standing or ceiling fan, which are usually under $40. Invest in a thinner blanket for the summer, as well as some thinner pajamas – boxers and tank tops will do wonders.

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Girl Maintenance on a Budget

Filed under: Health & Fitness - Social Community Manager
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photo of girlBy guest blogger Tiana Bouma: Tiana is a senior at University of Oregon double majoring in Political Science and Journalism with a focus in magazine. Her hometown is now Bend, OR but she graduated from high school in Danville, CA. After graduating from UO, she plans on traveling and working for National Geographic. During her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, sports and movies.

Being a girl can be a lot of work sometimes – as you may have read in my previous post about dinner dates. I’ve heard “pain is beauty” a million times, but I’ve never heard that beauty makes you broke. But I am no longer amazed at how quickly I can spend WAY TOO MUCH money on haircuts, color, waxing, nails, etc.

My personal maintenance has seriously declined since becoming a college student. This means that things like painting my nails, eyebrow waxing, and haircuts and styles are last on my list. I’ve come to realize that I FEEL better when I’m taking care of myself. Although I can easily give up pedicures and I can color my hair myself over my sink (usually), I can’t just go cold turkey on my routine.  Below are some of the tricks I use to save myself money.

hair salon

Photo © Mark Menzies

1)   Go to a cosmetology school, most cities and towns have them and the girls there are going to school to become beauty specialists. They need real-life models and the prices are usually seriously reduced. The services offered at these schools range from hair coloring, styling and cuts to waxing and even facials.

2)   Coupon and Discount websites can pretty much be used to save money on any product nowadays. Groupon and Living Social have featured some pretty awesome deals in my area including up to 50% off massages, deep cleaning facials, and haircut/color combos.

3)   Get some friends together and learn how to do it yourself. Sometimes DIY is the best way to save money on a service. Although you may not be as good people you pay to wax, cut, buff, and color for you at first, practice makes perfect. One of my friends can cut and re-dye hair to keep a style after its been professionally done. You can also get home waxing kits and pedicure/manicure kits. All it takes is a little time.

An important part of saving money is spending the time and energy researching to make sure that you have the best possible deal. Once you do that, you may be amazed at how much you can save yourself in monthly maintenance costs. Anyone hear a GIRL’S NIGHT calling her name?

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