Archive | August, 2008

College Preparation #6: Save Your $$$…and the trees

One of my biggest expenses in college my freshman year was books. I spent close to $1200 on them that first year. You DO NOT need to do that! Just do what I do now, buy international, or not at all.

There are international editions of books available that are much cheaper, and lighter than the American counterpart. They are in high quality color prints, and are softback. They say they cannot be sold in the US, which is not true. I buy mine on e-Bay usually, but they are all over the internet. However, MAKE SURE you get the high quality ones, you can get super cheap copies from China and India, but these are basically xerox copied black and white pages, and suck. The best part about buying these books, is you can usually re-sell them to other students for about the same price you paid for them (sometimes more) so you have nearly a 100% average recovery.

Another thing to look for is to make sure they say EVERYTHING in the book is the same, not just the passages, etc. because some books do not have the same example problems, and if you don’t have the correct problems to work, in some classes, you will not do the correct homework. Be careful about it.

If you can’t find an international edition, are afraid to buy them, or your book does not come in an international edition, try buying from other students. There is an entire website here at Michigan State dedicated to putting students in contact with other students for ads, books, and professor ratings (as well as other stuff) and I love it. There are other sites that let you get in touch with other students as well. If you must buy your books from the book store, do it, and then at the end of the semester, sell them to other students and get more than the book store will give you. They’ll do it because they will pay less than the book store will charge them.

Be careful of professors who try to make money off their students. I had a professor ******* ******* who taught my Managerial Marketing class. He was an interesting guy, who was so ridiculously full of himself. Anyway, this isn’t a critique of him as a professor; he owns a publishing company in Chicago (I checked it out, it is listed as one of his residences) and he “writes” a “new” book each semester, then requires it, and charges students $125. So he’s making like 300 x $125 = $37,500 each semester (is my math correct?) Which makes me TERRIBLY mad. I wish I had known beforehand so I could save some money. My chapter ten also ended on a random word. It ends

“The nation’s nonprofit sector generates amazing revenues every year and controls a”

Note: The name of this particular professor was blocked out to avoid any legal issues.

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College Preparation #5: Make Money, and save it!

There are a few good tips in this blog, so read it all carefully. I first need to expand on a few of my previous college prep blogs, but then I have a couple of extra tips.

First of all, I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but it bares repeating. Now that I think about it, I’m almost sure I’ve talked about this. When you are drinking, or know you will be drinking, have a plan for food. Alcohol can be expensive, but when you add $10 for Chinese food or something each time you drink (you will almost always eat when you drink) it adds up fast. Think about that, if you drink 10 times (you will) then you will be spending around $100 on food alone. Yikes. If you have an all night dining service on campus, that’s great, you’re set. If not, have some backup food. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what you say, chips won’t sound as good as a greasy pizza, or nice oily, spicy orange chicken.

I think frozen meals can be good, or rather chilled meals, since you are not likely to have a freezer that can keep your food cold. Consider frozen/chilled pizzas. If you can get away with just eating chips, that is fine, but like I said, have a plan, no matter what. I always liked stealing food from the cafeteria and keeping it for later, that way I can have a burger, or orange chicken maybe even, for free. If you must order food, split it with someone. If you both get a pizza, it’s a lot cheaper (a lot of pizza places have good deals for late night eating too)

You’ll be fine, as long as you think ahead; and remember, it’s ok to get Chinese food or pizza or burgers when you drink, just not EVERY time.

Secondly, for those who have to travel to and from school, via airplane or some other method that uses luggage that you will be storing at school, try to find luggage that is not rigid. I have 2 suitcases that I use that are solid, and do not shrink at all, they have stiff sides. This is a ridiculous waste of space. You DON’T need to do that though, they make very large bags that are soft sided that you can simply fold down and store under a bed, or anywhere where you have what would have been useless space before.

MY MOST IMPORTANT TIP OF THIS BLOG!

Get a freaking job. I know, that sounds like it sucks, and you’re already SO busy with school, and partying, and you would rather stay with your friends and not go out. Also, I believe you would rather not be a beggar before you get out of school. Now is the time to start applying for jobs. You don’t have to even leave the building to get a job usually. There are some companies that will pay to do services on your computer without you having to leave your room even. I was doing research for a professor from my room that paid well, and I didn’t have to leave, so I could do my work at 2 in the morning.

You can get jobs working in the building, the cafeteria, or at a store nearby. Schools have lots of jobs open for students, that is part of the deal, so you can get a job with the school, and you are only competing with other students. I would suggest just getting out, asking questions, and finding a job. Even if it doesn’t pay well, get one, and look for one with better pay, the important thing is to get some cash flow.

If you can do it, get a job working for yourself, that would be nice, sell stuff on e-bay, or buy cheap books on e-bay and other places and sell them to students at your school for less than the stores. I tried starting up an online store, and now that I have time to devote to it, I can actually work on making it profitable (technically, it already is profitable) I know you would rather be partying, but it’s a paradox. No work=more partying, more partying=higher cost. Work=less partying, less partying=less $ spent. So there ya go, you will very positively affect your cash flow if you work, and you will do it in more ways than one, by increasing money you receive, and decreasing your cash outflows.

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College Preparation #4: Save Money on the Move

I am back from England, and preparing to head off to school. I can finally start updating again, but here’s the first post, and I hope you enjoy it.

Ok, so if you are making a significant move to school (requiring a flight) there are some ways to save money. The first time you move in you will likely have to drive, which can be a pain if you have a long drive (like, say, Texas to Michigan, like I did) but that is just one time to get all your stuff there. If you do not bring much stuff at all, you can still fly in, although it’ll cost plenty of money. Have someone drive with you to school, so they can take the car back (unless of course you will be keeping your car)

If you ARE keeping your car, a lot of this doesn’t make much sense, this is for the person who is not taking/keeping a car at school. After the initial move however, you should never have to drive it again. I fly to and from school each year. You’ll need to find a place near school where you can store your stuff. I know there is one place near Michigan State where you can store your stuff, and what’s nice is that they will even pick up and drop off your stuff for you. I personally keep my stuff at my Grandma/Uncle’s house when I’m not at school. Your best bet if you don’t have family is to become friends with someone who will live in a house over the summer, so you can just store your stuff at their place.

Ok, so your big stuff (TV, fridge, microwave, etc.) can be stored in those places, but all your other stuff that you want to come home with you will need to make it to your house. If you don’t have enough room in your bags for the plane, there is another option. If you have some stuff that is light, but takes up lots of space (ex: light clothes, laundry bag) you can simply ship it to yourself. It takes up space, but since it is light, it won’t cost too much. Stuff that takes up a reasonable amount of space and a reasonable weight, can go in your checked baggage. If you have anything that is very heavy and does not take up much space (ex: books, computer) can go into your carry-on bag.

Other space saving tips:

1. Keep your DVDs in a DVD/CD wallet. I have 2 64 capacity wallets for all of my movies and any TV shows that I want that I have on DVD. I see people who take all their movies to school in the boxes, and I can’t believe it. When you get your own place and it would look nice to have them in the boxes, do it, but when you’re traveling to and from school, and living in tight quarters, put them in a wallet.

2. Space bags DO work. Ok, so the space bag things do work if you need them, although they need to be used with the right clothes. You can get some that don’t require a vacuum too. If you put T-Shirts or shorts in there, they won’t decrease in size much, but if you put in bulky sweaters or coats or something, you can really increase the density of your bag, which means you can pack more into it.

3. Use both of your carry-ons. Some people actually still don’t know this, but you get 2 carry-on items. You get a carry-on, and a “personal item”. Most college students take a backpack as a carry-on, but that is a “personal item” so they could actually take another small bag. I always take my backpack and suitbag as my carry-ons.

4. Make sure you don’t ship anything too important. If there is something important to you, do NOT ship it, that is a recipe for disaster. I had a box lost coming home from school once, and if I had put something important in there, I would have cried. Make sure the REALLY important stuff to you goes in your carry-on, so you don’t lose it for sure.

5. Make sure you can carry all of your stuff. If you will be traveling to another airport, then have to take the bus or walk to your destination, make sure you can carry all of your bags by yourself. You might have help checking in your bags from a friend/family, but when you get to your destination, it’s all you.

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