A quiet night in: an exercise in frugal saving.

image1As much as any couple, family or group of friends might like going out, it’s never cheap. Whether it’s fine dining or going out to your local bar or restaurant, these are costs that add up all too easily. They may seem cheap once in a while but once you start doing it on a weekly or semi-regular basis, it becomes a larger and larger chunk of your expenses.

In contrast to this, understanding the benefits of a quiet night in can prove useful. More than offering something different and relaxing it can demonstrate a way to stay cheap and cost effective whilst still enjoying the usual perks of life.

Food

If you go out to eat, you should know how much this can cost. Cooking for yourself is usually the cheapest but there are still other options. For instance, if you have the urge for Chinese food, it may be cheaper for everyone to pool money together for chinese takeaways than visit your local restaurant. It’s much cheaper and doesn’t have the added costs of additional drinks and restaurant prices and other service charges that are often forgotten about.

Entertainment

Likewise, if you’re not going out, there is nothing to stop you from being social. Your home can prove entertaining enough with the right company. Cheap entertainment can be anything from a movie rental (if you’re only going to watch it once, don’t buy something you don’t need) to various games, which offer entertainment again and again. These are all cheap, whether you use it once or buy it to use again and again. This is another lesson to be learnt in saving, by understanding the real value of something.

If you come across some movies that you and your friends love, it makes sense to purchase the DVD so you can all watch it whenever you like. Luckily, you can save money by ordering your DVDs online, so you do not have to worry about breaking the bank. To make things more interesting, consider having each person purchase a DVD online and then choosing between your favorites every time you gather.

Additional expenses

Hopefully the two areas above should highlight how easy it is to cut down on those little costs for every social occasion but there are always other areas to look at. Take your appearance, for instance. If you don’t go out to an expensive restaurant you might not need to risk your best shirt or shoes. It can also save on other expenses, such as getting a taxi home late if you’ve been drinking or other travel costs.  So, next time you think you might go out, suggest staying in to the others and see how much can be saved.

Secure Loans: Great Financial Advice for 2013

Pile of paper and plastic

Secured loans are a type of loan where the borrower allows the lender to have part ownership of some type of asset. Most loans of this type involve property, such as a car or house purchase. The lender keeps the deed to the property (in this case, called a lien) until the borrower pays off the entire loan, at which point the lender sends the owner the deed.

However, if the borrower stops paying on the debt, the lender can take possession of this property and then resell it to recoup either all or a portion of the debt amount. These types of loans are generally considered safer for the lender and have a much lower rate of default than unsecured debts (such as credit cards). In addition, because the lender can repossess the property in the case of a default on the loan, the interest rate terms are usually much lower for secured loans.

Home Loans

Generally, when borrowing for either a new home, or to use a property’s existing equity (the amount the property is worth minus any current debts the property has), you are able to borrow 80 percent of the property’s appraised value. A Secured Homeowner loan provides access to a lump sum of money, usually with a fixed interest rate and a monthly recurring payment schedule. Another type of loan, for those already owning property, is a line of credit on the property, and can be used for ongoing expenses, such as remodeling or other home improvements. The only downside to these types of loans is the interest rates will continue to rise and fall for the life of the loan, as lines of credit generally do not receive fixed rates. If the loan is not paid back, the bank can step in and take ownership of your home (called foreclosure) with court approval, and then sell the property to the highest bidder in an auction.

Car Loans

With auto loans, the car is used as the collateral for the loan. Much the same as with home loans, if a car loan is not fully repaid, the lender can repossess the vehicle and, with court approval, sell the vehicle to the highest bidder in an auction.

Other Secured loan types

A borrower is able to take out personal loans from financial institutions with other forms of collateral, such as stocks, bonds or checking and/or savings accounts. In the event of default, the institution would take possession of the collateral.

Refinancing

With both types of loans, a consumer may find that they would be able to save a great deal of money by refinancing an existing loan at an lower interest rate. This could either lower the monthly payment or shrink the amount of time the loan is outstanding. As with all loans, one should take the time to investigate multiple loan sources to find the best rates and terms, as there can be as much as a 10 to 15 percent difference in the best to worst rates, which would lead to significant savings over a long period of time.

Top Eight Finance Programs in the Country

Secure your future with a finance degree from one of the top programs in the United States. Gaining a formal education in finance opens doors for high paying jobs with investment firms, Fortune 500 companies, and lenders. It also equips you to handle your personal finances with enhanced insight. When choosing a program, consider these eight highly ranked schools to prepare you for success after graduation.

Indiana University, Bloomington

The Kelley School of Business promises to make you an expert in financial topics such as trading, international banking, security analysis, and portfolio management. Study under distinguished professors, some of whom have worked as a visiting economist to the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Reserve. Opportunities to have experiences in the real world and to network with professionals are also part of the finance program at Indiana University.

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

This Ivy League school uses an interdisciplinary approach to teach students at the Bendheim Center for Finance. This program incorporates the resources of multiple departments including Computer Science, Economics, and Operations Research and Financial Engineering. One strength of this program is its ability to prepare you for a wide range of jobs, from financial engineering to quantitative trading. Don’t forget the value of having a degree from such a prestigious institution and the prestige that comes with the Princeton name.

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

 

Image via Flickr by MSC Marketing

This university’s finance program is housed in the Kellogg School of Management. Situated close to Chicago, students from Northwestern have ample companies and institutions nearby where they can complete an internship. Looking to develop a specialty in the field of finance? This school may be your best bet. Whether you’re interested in capital market dynamics or technical asset pricing, Northwestern brings you renowned professors who will help you delve into these specific areas of finance.

Besides offering a range of specialties, this program also keeps students current on the latest developments in the field of finance. Courses focus on the fundamentals but also teach students about new and emerging practices in LBO fund arenas and hedge fund management.

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Boasting a program that awards students a Master of Science in Computational Finance, Carnegie Mellon launched this course of study as a joint effort between four colleges on campus. That means students enjoy the expertise of faculty from mathematical sciences, business, statistics, and public policy.

This school has a high placement rate for its graduates. Companies such as Fisher Investments value graduates with the depth of knowledge offered through this university’s program. FI on Facebook gives potential students an idea of the kinds of work they could do if they secure a degree from a prestige program like the one at Carnegie Mellon.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

 

Image via Flickr by ilamont.com

Included under the auspices of the Sloan School of Management, the Master of Finance degree from MIT carries prestige. One advantage of this program is its length: Students complete the in-depth, intensive coursework over one year. Another highlight of the MIT program is its flexibility, making it easy for students to create a course of study that emphasizes the areas of finance that interest them the most.

University of Chicago

Graduates of the finance program at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business have secured jobs with top investment firms as well as the Federal Reserve Bank. Rooted in a strong study of the basics, this program lets students explore security prices, how firms make investment decisions, and bank regulations. Students may opt to pursue a degree in financial economics as well.

New York University, New York City

The renowned Leonard N. Stern School of Business gives students access to more than 40 faculty members who are conducting research in the field. Among the topics being studied is the collapse of the financial giants and the mortgage crisis. Learning at the feet of these professors means students stay abreast of the latest developments in the ever-changing world of finance and investments.

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Consistently ranked at or near the top of the best finance programs in the country, the University of Pennsylvania offers students an opportunity to choose from one of four areas of study: financial instruments, corporate finance, international finance, and banking. Carrying the renown of the Wharton School of Business, graduates of this program have serious credibility. From top-notch faculty to courses on the newest techniques in the field, students find they’re well served at the University of Pennsylvania.

Think carefully about the areas of finance that interest you the most. Choose a school that will enable you to pursue those interests.

References

http://kelley.iu.edu/finance/
http://www.princeton.edu/bcf/graduate/
http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/Departments/finance.aspx
http://tepper.cmu.edu/master-in-computational-finance/the-mscf-program/index.aspx
http://mitsloan.mit.edu/mfin/
http://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/phd/academics/dissertation/finance
http://www.stern.nyu.edu/experience-stern/about/departments-centers-initiatives/academic-departments/finance/index.htm
https://fnce.wharton.upenn.edu/
http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-finance
http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/finance-rankings
http://www.america.edu/top_20_finance_degrees_in_america_%28graduate_schools%29.html

 

Author Bio:

Missy Shelton is an award-winning journalist. After spending more than 13 years in a professional newsroom, she now enjoys life as a freelance writer and editor.

How to Pack For a Conference

Have you ever been to a work related conference? I have been to a couple and they are well worth it. Networking is a great tool and can help improve your career in all areas. The days leading up to a conference can be filled with restlessness, nervousness and everything else in-between. Being prepared and packed correctly can really help you feel ready for a conference.

Some might think ‘oh whatever, I can figure out what to pack.” However, if you are like me, then you enjoy reading lists like this so that nothing is forgotten. How many times have you gone on a trip and realized that you forgot something important at home? It happens to me all the time.

 

Clothes

This should be a given. I hope no one forgets clothes. However, you should try to figure out what the dress code for the conference be. Will you be freezing at all times? Bring clothes for the weather as well. Will everyone be dresses formal during most conference sessions? Or will it be more casual?

To figure this out, you can ask others who have been there before, or try to find pictures from past conferences. It shouldn’t be that hard! If you’re like me, you would hate to find out that you only brought casual clothing to a conference that requires suit and tie the entire time.

Usually conferences are very cold inside (why is that always the case?), so make sure to include extra jackets or sweaters with you before you go into a conference session.

 

Business cards

Don’t ever go to a conference without business cards! They are usually pretty cheap to make if you just want something basic. Even something complicated can be very cheap to create and print.

Business cards make it much more easy for a person who you have met to find you. Business cards make networking much more easier!

 

Laptop, tablets or phone

When going to a conference, you should almost always bring your laptop and phone. It can be very helpful! The laptop will make it easier to take notes as well.

 

Good packing gear

Good packing gear is always important when packing for a conference. You want something that can easily fit into however you are traveling. For me, I only like carry on bags as I hate checking items. The fear or the airlines losing my bag and everything that I need is just too much to handle for me! I have heard so many horror stories.

Sites like HushHush.com are great for getting good deals on items such as luggage. There are many other websites that you can browse as well, such as Overstock.com, Walmart.com and so on.

 

Have you ever been to a work related conference?

Financial things that are obvious but are sometimes forgotten

If you are reading this blog, I’m going to assume that you are about your finances at least a little bit. However, there are always some financial things that are obvious but are sometimes forgotten. No one is perfect, and being perfect with your finances would be difficult!:)

You can request write-offs. This doesn’t always work, but it is worth exploring. If you have old debts, you can contact the creditor or collection agency that holds the debt and ask if they can provide written proof that the debt exists. If they cannot, you can ask to have the debt written off entirely.

You can settle your debts. Settling debt isn’t always the best financial avenue. However, it is definitely worth considering if you are on the verge of bankruptcy. If you have old debts (debts that have been sent to a collection agency or charged off), you should contact the company that holds it and ask to settle for a lesser amount. If you have a lump sum of money to give them, they may be willing to write off as much as 50 to 60 percent of your debt.

You can seek help from a government agency. If you are in a really tight spot, you can contact local, federal, or state agencies for help. These agencies will be unable to assist you with certain types of debt, such as credit card debt, but they can help with the basics, such as rent, heat, electricity, or food bills.

You can get credit counseling. The new bankruptcy law requires individuals to get credit counseling before filing bankruptcy. If you are thinking about filing bankruptcy, you should go ahead with the counseling. It may help you get lower payments, lower interest rates, and a better handle on your debt so that you can avoid filing altogether.

You can increase your income. Although it can be difficult in a downtrodden economy, you should make every effort to increase your income so that you can pay down your debt naturally. This may mean asking for more hours at work, taking a second job, or finding ways to make extra money online.

You can have a bank account. Do you have a basic bank account? Not everyone has a basic bank account, and you would be surprised by that. Opening a bank account is the first step to repairing your finances.

Working Smart and Working Hard

Desk

Everyone leads a very hectic life packed like crazy with things to do and errands to run. Balancing a career, family and life is not easy. So when someone comes along and argues that we don’t need to work so hard as long as we work smart, we are all only too happy to grab on to that argument.

Is working hard or working smart important? Do you need both or one or the other in order to be successful in life? Do they come hand in hand?

Life is meant to be enjoyed. 

Everyone wants to have fun right? Life can’t be all about work and no play.  I like to have fun at casinos, whether they are online, or offline and in person. You can work smartly by playing systems like martingale on the roulette table and card counting on blackjack at casinos. I like martingale, which is a model of a fair game where knowledge of past events never helps predict the mean of the future winnings. I have done this before, and it has actually worked. There are also numerous books on card counting as well.

Working hard is important, but you also want to work smart. There are so many things to be enjoyed out there, and working smart and efficiently can help you do all of those enjoyable things. Whether they be traveling, online casinos, bike rides, cooking or something else, working smart allows you to do these things.

 

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But hard work and smart work is needed too.

But I just can’t subscribe to the theory that working smart is an alternative to working hard. Working smart is a great way to get things done more efficiently. In a way, it can be seen as a means to cut the fat out of the tasks we do regularly.

But unless you are willing to get your hands dirty and pour your sweat into what you do, I doubt that just working smart will get you anywhere in the long run. It can offer success in the short term, but if you want to really be successful in the long run, you need to start working hard too.

Come to think of it, Bill Gates is smart right? What if he just worked for 8 hours and called it a day? I am sure in those 8 hours he could get quite a fair amount accomplished and impress a lot of people, but do you think Microsoft would be the giant that it is today? The same goes for Google and You Tube. Yes, it looks like they all have it easy now, but imagine the elbow grease they would have put in during the early days to make themselves the giants they are today. There was a lot of hard work done in the beginning in both of these cases.

I have no ambition to be the next Microsoft or the next Google. But I do want to make sure I can retire early and retire financially comfortably. While at the same time providing my (future) children with comfortable lives and good education.

I agree that just working hard is not enough. But working only smart isn’t quite the recipe either. I hope to find a good balance of the two to take me where I want to be. And like all the other cocky youth out there, I am pretty sure, I have found the right answer 🙂

How to Save Money on Business Insurance

(This is a guest article by Bailey Harris*)

When you own a business, carrying the right amount of insurance is a must. Even if you’re trying to watch expenses, you can’t overlook or do without coverage. Not having insurance could mean that you are only one disaster away from a lawsuit, or worse, filing bankruptcy and closing your doors. If you are worried about the cost of insurance, you are much better off looking for ways to save than ignoring your need for insurance altogether.

Examine Your Needs

Take a good hard look at what type of insurance is really necessary for your business. Do you need property insurance? What about liability insurance or worker’s compensation? When you’ve established your true needs, the next step is to determine how much coverage you need. It’s possible you’re carrying too much in one area and not enough in others. Do you really need that high payout on your burglary insurance? Perhaps it would be less expensive to install a better security system that could lower your insurance premium. Another possibility is to consider having some of your work performed by independent contractors. You wouldn’t need to carry worker’s comp. However, if you take this route, make sure the independent contractor carries their own insurance.

Improve Safety

Liability insurance is usually a significant part overall insurance costs for any business. Finding ways to improve safety for your customers and your workers may allow you to carry less liability insurance. Consulting with a safety expert could also be beneficial in the long run. Your insurance agent could be of help as well. These professionals may be able to point out areas where safety features could be installed or help you hold safety seminars to instruct your employees in safer work habits. A safety expert may also help you find ways to make sure your customers are safer while on your property. The minimized threat of customer injury can translate into savings in insurance payments.

Get a Package Deal

Whenever possible, try to consolidate your insurance needs. Discuss options with your agent and determine whether carrying an insurance package would be to your benefit. Many insurance companies will reward multi-policy customers with additional discounts. For example, if you insure your property and your company vehicles with the same insurance provider, there is a very good chance that you will qualify for savings on both policies.

Look for Group Rates

If you belong to an organization that offers group rate insurance, it could be of value to your company. Many organizations have tremendous influence with insurance companies simply because they can bring customers in volume. As a result, the companies are prone to offer lower rates. If you don’t actually belong to an organization that benefits from group insurance rates, do some homework and find out what groups in your area do enjoy that advantage. Consider joining the group, which will in turn allow you to take advantage of the savings. There will undoubtedly be some upfront cost, but it may be beneficial in the long run.

Shop Around

As with any type of insurance, the cost of business insurances can vary wildly from company to company. Before buying a policy, you should take time to get multiple quotes. As you are making comparisons, be sure to look at coverage levels as well as price. Although it is good to save money, the ultimate goal is to make sure that you have the proper coverage in the unlikely event of a catastrophe.

Ask for High Deductibles

As with most other types of insurance, policies for businesses include some sort of deductible. Paying out of pocket for a portion of the loss is standard. If your business is going well you may decide that taking a chance on a claim would be worth the extra expense of paying more of the cost yourself. Raising your deductible is a gamble, but the savings in insurance payments may be worth it. Examine your business finances to make sure you could withstand the outlay of cash. If so, consider raising your deductible to take advantage of monthly or annual savings.

Read the Fine Print

Businesses are frequently overcharged for insurance by accident. Be sure to review your insurance policies–particularly your worker’s comp policy. Are your employees classified correctly? What about your inventory? Do you have replacement-cost coverage or an actual cash value policy? Know what you are paying for before your write out the check.

Remember That Business Needs Fluctuate

It’s a standard business practice to do a cost analysis on a regular basis. As part of that analysis, you should include an update on insurance needs. If your profit to potential-insurance-payout ratio is out of sync, consider updating your insurance policy. You may be over insured. Spending money on insurance premiums comes out of your profit, and no business can survive by spending too much on unnecessary things.

*About the author: Bailey Harris writes about home insurance quotes and related topics for www.homeinsurance.org.

 

Is it Possible to be Both Eco-Friendly and Frugal?

(This is a guest article by Connor Groening*)

I used to be the girl who runs to the coffee shop every morning. On the way to the coffee shop I’d pass the coffee maker, can of coffee and filters, and on the way in, I’d dump my disposable cup out in the trash. I am now a mother and living a financially friendly lifestyle is a must – for both mine and my kid’s future. Whether it’s parenthood, job change or just a want to use your finances more efficiently, there are tiny little things and even big ones that we don’t even notice we spend money on. Lets say that I was spending 4 dollars everyday on coffee. That’s around 120 dollars a month and about 1,500 dollars a year! Amazing right, over 1,000 dollars spent entirely on coffee. And to boot, 365 disposable cups in the trash can. Lets just say I make my own coffee these days and drink it in my “I Love You, Mommy” coffee mug, with a little fancy creamer to make it taste like a coffee shop latte. You don’t have to be an accountant or go to a financial school to take control of your finances and the effects they have on not only you but environmentally as well.

When you go through your everyday expenses it is amazing the little things you discover your spending thousands of dollars on a year. There are some ways to eliminate some of those expenses and even do a little eco-friendly monetary rearranging. I’ll use some examples out of my own personal experience and a few tips I have learned from others. Financially friendly living cannot only help you in your life but can even help the environment!

Have you ever watched “The Story of Bottled Water?” The basic message is how we spend thousands and thousands of dollars on bottled water, and by buying the plastic bottles not only are we wasting money, but resources that could be used elsewhere. Instead of spending money to fund big bottled water companies why not put that money and resource towards making tap water safe and drinkable all over the world. Same applies to most of the trivial things we as consumers feel we need. We are a nation obsessed with “stuff”. Not to condemn American’s we are not the only consumer happy country, just the most recognized. Basically the message I am trying to convey is that there are many ways to save money and in doing so conserve national resources.

Small but Expensive

Taking a step back from the national approach I will evaluate from a more personal stand-point the things I do to live a more financially and eco-friendly life. I will start with the tiny things that we can do as individuals to cut costs in certain areas of our lives. First the minute little things. If you use a computer often then this is something I’m sure you have done. When you are done with the computer you let it go to sleep rather than shutting it down, and probably leave it plugged in as well. This seems too minute to worry about but you wouldn’t believe the amount of energy it uses yearly. Studies show that by leaving a computer plugged in costs you an average of $27.90 a year. That isn’t including a monitor if you have a desktop which generates a cost of about nine dollars a year, and the modem costing you around six dollars a year. And that’s just one computer. How many computers and other electronic gadgets do you have around the house. Itty bitty expenses that add up, while at the same time hurting the environment.

Lets go back to the simple idea of a water bottle. The average family uses about 10 dollars a week on plastic water bottles. Equaling an amazing 520 dollars a year. What could you have used the 520 dollar on? A car payment, paying bills within the household… buying 10 water filtering systems for your tap water faucet? Try using a reusable bottle for water or other drinks. This reduces not only the amount of money you spend on plastic bottles but also the amount of plastic you send to landfills all over the world. These are just a few of the small things that we don’t realize we are spending so much money on. There are hundreds of things like this in our lives that we can either cut out or reduce considerably. Try sitting down and calculating the amount of money you spend on things like coffee in the morning, fast food lunches, water bottles and other things such as this. After calculating you will be amazed at where your paychecks are really going. Try coming up with creative ways to change your consumer habits, do some research and save some money!

Budgeting

When looking at your finances on a larger scale in a round about way there are a few skills you can use to keep your spending in check and live more financially friendly. First try making a budget. If you take the time to sit down and make a rough allocation of your money it gives you an idea of what you have left over for things you want. Needs and wants are very different and using those two categories is really beneficial when making your budget. Doing this allows you to make sure you get all of your needs covered and slowly mark your want list off with money you have left over.

Spend Wisely and Consciously

When shopping, shop wisely and with purpose. Comparing prices can be a mundane task but if you take your time shopping you will be amazed at the money you save. This goes for all shopping not only grocery shopping. Whenever possible support environmentally friendly causes. Advertisement has many, many tricks up its sleeve. Sales are one of those very touchy subjects. “It was okay I spent the money because it was on sale”. Finding a good deal is definitely something you can look out for when shopping but beware of the way advertising seduces us into buying things we do not need. An example, some price tags will have a regular price and sale price printed on. Meaning that this company never even tried to sell this product at regular price. Seeing a sale price is enticing and our mind automatically justifies spending if the item is “on sale”. Unknowingly we sometimes fall into the schemes of today’s advertising gurus, who if you let them will take every penny you have! Their good… but you can easily be better!

Get Crafty

In every home there are a number of unused items maybe you have a garage full or an attic. The point is we all have things lying around that can be of use. A personal example. I recently relocated, left my job, my home and all of the connections I had back home. It is the Christmas season and I love giving. However I have just started a new job and at the moment do not have the money to spend on a ton of Christmas gifts. I love to give everyone a special gift and so not having the money was killing me. I went to the basement to do laundry and started digging around. I found some clear glass ornaments that I had completely forgotten were there. So this year everyone is getting a hand made ornament uniquely painted for each individual person. And it worked out great… in stead of buying more and more stuff, I end up repurposing some the things I already have. Sometimes something you make means so much more! Getting crafty can be applied to many different things to not only make unique gifts but to make practical use of unused items just laying around at home. There is a book by readers digest “Extraordinary uses for ordinary things: 2,317 ways to save money and time”. Its amazing how some of these directly or indirectly help save the environment as well. Try finding reads like this and using the information in your life.

There are many ways to live a more financially friendly life. I hope the information I have given you will spark some interest in the things you can do that not only save money but help save the environment as well. Saving money isn’t all about being frugal. There are a lot of things that I have learned on my journey to a more financially friendly living that have helped me in many aspects of my life, and have been great fun. Explore and gain knowledge on the different ways to save money that are out there and have fun doing it. When you begin to save and look back on the money you were spending on irrelevant things you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Sometimes it really is all about the simple things in life.

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*About the author: This is a guest article by Connor Groening, who loves writing about personal finance and online finance schools.

How to Find Scholarships If Your Parents Are in the High Income Bracket

(This is a guest article by Mark Davies*)

One of the biggest misconceptions about scholarships is that most people assume that they’re available on to those who belong to low income families. Yes, there are more need-based scholarships than any other kind, but they’re not the only kind of financial assistance available to students for a post secondary education. So if your parents are in an income bracket that does not allow you to apply for a need-based scholarship, yet cannot pay your way through college for various reasons and don’t want to take out a student loan and incur debt on graduation, here are the options open to you:

    • Look for academic or merit-based scholarships – most schools provide these if you have a GPA of 3.7 and above and if your high school academic records are excellent. You help your case if you have a complete portfolio of all your academic achievements, any community service projects you’ve participated in, and any other accomplishments in high school that you think is significant.

 

  • If you belong to a minority or ethnic background, now is the time to make good use of it – many colleges provide scholarships for members of minority communities.

 

 

  • Certain academic departments in colleges have scholarships that they disburse, so ask about these in the colleges you want to apply to.

 

 

  • If you’re physically or mentally disabled, you qualify for many scholarships that are set up to help those who are at a disadvantage because of their disability.

 

 

  • If you have lost a parent or other family member to cancer or any similar debilitating disease, you may qualify for certain scholarships that consider families who have used up a considerable portion of their savings and income towards medical expenses.

 

 

  • If you’re thinking of signing up for the military (army, air force or navy), then consider an ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program where you can get federal aid for college before training to be officers in a branch of the military.

 

 

  • Some schools offer scholarships for students who have lost a parent in the line of duty, as a cop, fireman or military personnel.

 

 

  • Your parents’ employers may be offering scholarships for meritorious children of employees in the organization, so get mom and dad to ask some questions in the workplace.

 

 

  • If you belong to a local community or church, ask about any scholarships or grants they provide for aspiring college students who actively volunteer and help out whenever needed.

 

 

  • If you don’t qualify for scholarships in your freshman year, you can always apply again in your sophomore, junior and even senior years. So don’t give up just because you lost out the first time, just keep looking for alternatives open to upperclassmen.

 

So don’t despair if your parents haven’t saved up for your college expenses, if your 529 savings amount is not enough to cover the cost of four years of college, or if a bad financial year has left your parents unable to pay your tuition and living costs in college. Start looking around for academic and other scholarships well before you must apply to college, and reap the rewards of your effort and persistence.

Scholarships that are not need based are not advertised prominently; so if you want to apply for and qualify for these, you must talk to the admissions office and your department of study specifically to see what you can do.

*About the author: This guest post is contributed by Mark Davies, he writes on the topic of Online Masters Degree. He welcomes your comments at his email id: markdavies247<@>gmailcom.

Do You Know What Factors Affect YOUR Credit Card Interest Rate?

(This is a guest article by Mirsad Hasic*)

Did you know that the average American family has an average of $5,219 credit card debt with an average interest of 17-20 percent? Yes, very disturbing indeed considering that the interest rate is usurious in every way possible. And with such a high interest rate, it will be tough to get out of debt and shape up one’s financial issues.

Keep in mind that the credit card interest rate is the principal means by which the issuers generate revenue from letting the holders borrow the former’s money for purchases bought with the credit card. In effect, the holder is paying a fee for the privilege of borrowing money, which will take time to accumulate if not for the credit card issued by the bank.

Since the bank is taking a risk in letting the holder borrow its money, the interest rate is based on how much the former believes the latter is a credit risk. Thus, if you are seen as a high credit risk by the bank, your interest rate will be higher but if you are a low credit risk, your interest rate will similarly be lower.

This is the rationale behind the statements that the interest rate you pay for the credit card is largely under your control and that the quickest way to secure a low interest rate is to become a low-risk holder.

Personal Credit History

Probably the most important factor in the determination of credit card interest rate is the personal credit history of the applicant. With the sophisticated information-gathering techniques used by national and international credit bureau reporting agencies, your personal credit history can be tracked for as long as 10 years ago. Missed payments on utility bills, defaults on loan amortizations for any kind of asset, foreclosures on the house, less than minimum payments on credit cards, and bankruptcy filings on one hand and almost-perfect payment history on the other hand all show up on these credit reports.

Your credit history shows how high or how low a credit risk you will be to the bank. If you have a spotty credit history, the interest rate will be higher. If you have a spotless credit history, the interest rate will be competitive so much so that it will be almost like borrowing the money interest-free. This is not a form of discrimination since any investor will want to protect his interests and that includes banks lending money to the holders.

Length of Credit Profile

The length of time relative to the credit account also comes into play when determining the credit card interest rate. If you have long held credit cards and you have kept them current, chances are that the interest rate will be lower. For new cardholders, the other factors will be considered more than the length of the credit account.

Percentage of Credit Used

But just because you are on top of your various kinds of credits from utilities and mortgages to credit cards does not necessarily mean that the interest rate will be lower. The bank will look into the percentage of available credit being used at the time you have applied for the new credit card account.

As a general rule, banks consider individuals and households using more than 30 percent of their available credit as higher credit risks than those who use a lesser percentage of their available credit. Borrow within your available credit to avoid being imposed higher interest rates on the new credit cards being issued.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

But the banks will not only look at your financial past. Your present and future finances will also be assessed to determine your credit worthiness. First, you will be asked about your current financial status specifically your debt-to-income ratio. You may even be asked for audited financial statements both for your personal and business accounts to provide the bank with an objective perspective into how well you are doing at present in terms of finance. Jobs, businesses and other economic activities will be asked.

Second, you may have to justify your credit card application with proof of a future flow of money into your possession. It can be an inheritance, income from government bonds and other verifiable sources of revenue. Your goal is to show the bank that you have the financial means to pay your credit card balances for their full amounts in the future.

Bank Promotions

Many credit card issuers offer promotional interest rates to attract customers to take out credit cards for their own use. Thus, you will see banks offering a zero percent rate for the first 6 months of use, which you will be attracted to when other issuers are not doing so.

However, you must be aware that the good times cannot last as long as you want it to. The banks will raise the interest rates to bring them in line with their profit goals. You may even be imposed an additional interest rate, no matter how miniscule it may look on paper, when you have been deemed a higher credit risk than was previously thought.

Economic Factors

And then there’s the economy to take note of. Along with the bank policies on promotions, the economy is one of the uncontrollable factors that determine your interest rate.

Banks usually base their credit card interest rates on the prime rate, which represents the most favorable rate given to the individuals with the highest credit worthiness. (In other words, these are the holders with the lowest credit risk). The prime rate, in turn, is based on the federal funds rate, which is the rate at which banks charge other banks for credit.

If you want a lower interest rate, be a low credit risk. You have to pay your bills, amortizations and other payables on time; provide for proof of stable finances for the present and the future; and just generally be somebody whom the banks can trust with paying back their money. Even in these tough times, all that is possible.

*About the author: This article was contributed by Mirsad Hasic. Mirsad is the editor of Think-CreditCards.com, a consumer oriented site where you will learn how to pick a credit card that suits your needs and also get valuable tips and strategies on credit card debt relief.