Eating is expensive. Driving is expensive. Getting an education is expensive. These days just being alive is expensive. But here are a few ways you can save more green without sacrificing a larger lifestyle. That’s easy money and more affordable living, so never waste money on:
- ATM fees. If you’re getting hammered with ATM fees every month, that’s just wasted cash. Sign up for a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees and refunds fees from other banks. Charles Schwab does it, as does a slew of regional banks. Check locally and know your options.
- Impulse buys. Whether you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store or you’re out shopping for cat food and there’s a screamin’ deal on a new TV, it’s best to avoid purchasing things you weren’t originally planning on bringing home. Why? Because if you weren’t planning to buy something chances are you don’t need it.
- High electric bills. According to Kiplinger, up to 40% of electricity used by home electronics is consumed while those electronics are turned off. That’s because most electronics still eat up power to run clocks, remote sensors, et cetera. Your best bet? Unplug them when they aren’t in use.
- Books, music, and movies. You probably live within walking or biking distance of a library. Use it. It’s free.
- Cable/satellite TV. These days most networks post their shows online–for free. Premium channels like HBO may not, but you can often find their shows on lower-priced subscription networks like Netflix or Hulu.
- Buying new when used will do. It’s true for cars, electronics, furniture, clothes, and pretty much everything else. If it’s in good condition, if it works, if it comes with a warranty, why pay more to buy new? The only difference is it’s slightly shinier and might be wrapped in plastic.
- Fancy phones and expensive data plans. Do you really need internet access 24 hours a day? Do you need it in the bathroom, in bed, on the train, and while walking the dog? You’ve probably got a computer and internet at home. Leave it there. Downgrading to a voice and text plan could save you hundreds every year.
- Lottery tickets. If you buy one occasionally, and just for fun, there’s no problem. But if you buy them religiously, and with the real hope of winning, that’s a waste of money. The chance you’ll ever will is minuscule. And the cost of those tickets add up.
- Unhealthy habits. Smoking one pack of cigarettes per day could cost you over $2,000 a year. Same with fast food. Hit up McDonald’s just a few times a week and you could see a yearly bill of $1,500. That’s not even factoring in the cost of future medical treatment. You know what isn’t cheap? Lung cancer.
- Gas. Some driving is essential, especially if you don’t live in a city. But when gas is hovering near $4 a gallon, it pays to walk or ride a bike when you can. Especially when the weather’s cooperating. Our mantra: get outside. Blast some soft-rock love songs. Get your tan on. Feel the wind for once.
By Paul Wrubel:
The days are getting warmer and longer and the beach is beckoning. But looming in the background is the challenge of college admissions with its seemingly endless demands for scholarship and social purpose clouding the summer’s promise. What to do; what to do?
First, you are still a kid and you have many developmental and character-related issues that probably need some attention so you should provide a little time over the summer to address them. Colleges seem to like kids who are comfortable in their own skin.
Second, have fun! Summer is after all, a vacation so take one. Do things that you enjoy and that make you happy. You have the rest of your life to be grim and over-loaded with responsibilities. It’s OK to simply be a kid. Most adults will agree on one thing…Adulthood is vastly over-rated so take your time.
Third, the college admission decision is not likely to depend upon taking an extra course or attending an academic program merely to add another seemingly impressive line on your résumé. To do that at the cost of missing two months of your one-time-only adolescence could be a misguided, somewhat foolish trade-off.
Fourth, since one solid predictor of college success is evidence of an independent living experience, those students facing a summer of indecision would be well-advised to try a few weeks away from home to test the waters of independence. As a general rule, such an experience may be a more important admissions and eventual college success factor than yet another period of seat time in a formal schooling setting.
Fifth, while it is OK to spend time and money on a grand tour of far-away colleges, there may be better ways to spend your summer. Colleges are people, not buildings and visitors to college during the summer are essentially taking an architectural tour since few if any of the college’s usual students are on campus. So while you will learn what the place looks like, you won’t acquire much useful information about what it feels like to be a student attending the college other than what the somewhat conflicted admissions people want you to know about the place. Save your money for a much more important encounter later on, your visit as an accepted student at the college. It is money exponentially better spent.
In short, go out and get some sun and don’t forget the sun screen. Get some exercise and have fun. A day at the beach or the lake are wonders that shouldn’t be missed but before you go, it might be a good idea to look at the reading requirements for next year’s English class so you can do some leisurely advanced reading for the next academic year while getting a few rays. Reading Jane Austen may be tough but it is a lot more palatable on a beach chair or boat dock than at a library or home study desk.
Life itself is full of challenges and a variety of experiences. You are not always in control of what you can do and what you can’t. The clock is ticking a bit on the time in your life when you have lots of freedom of choice because as you get older the “gotta dos” begin to control your life and invade your “wanna do” space. A summer vacation as a high school or even college student is a time to do those things that make you a more complete person. So take advantage of the moment and check out the world in the absence of school and classes. You will find it to be a pretty interesting place and the more you know about it the more interesting person you are likely to become.
To hear more advice from Paul, visit his blog.
Dr. Paul R. Wrubel holds four degrees. He received a BA from Middlebury College, an MAT from Wesleyan University and a Masters and PhD from Stanford University. His professional experience encompasses a decade of teaching in a Connecticut public high school and an 8-year stint in administrative roles in California that included serving as the Principal of Gunn High School in Palo Alto.
Are paper textbooks going the way of the dodo? You know, extinct? Check out the below infographic for more.
Courtesy of: WorldWideLearn.com
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Thanks to research by Lab42, we’ve finally got a sense of why parents flock to Facebook almost as much as their children. The big reveal? A lot of them are doing it to “spy”–which, of course, is a term we use loosely. Perhaps it’s a practical way of parenting in our digital age: a way to gather information and look out for the people you love. What do you think? Is “Facebook parenting” a good (or fair) way to keep an eye on children?