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Worry About Finances Less, Enjoy Life More

Several Websites Make Saving Now (and for the Future) Easy!

April 17, 2013

Worry About Finances Less, Enjoy Life More

by Carly Gerber

Summertime is chock full of activities from music festivals to road trips. Don’t let your current spending limit your options of things you want to do (think: traveling abroad) or things you need to get done (see: paying next month’s rent). Instead, check out these websites (thanks, USA Today!) that can help you manage your money now and even help you save for a future purchase.

For example, Mint.com allows you to easily and securely connect your bank account to the program, which categorizes your spending to see where and how much you’re spending. You may need to cool it with the soy lattes from your favorite café for a few weeks but it’s worth enjoying those summer activities.

Another website is Smartypig.com. Here, you determine your goal and then start saving for it. You can also sync your bank account to Smartypig.com and it will withdraw funds until your goal is met or you can manually withdraw money from your bank account and sync the money to Smartypig.com. Need airfare and a ticket to Bonnaroo? You can set it as a goal on Smartypig.com and start saving!

Maybe you and a few friends are running a marathon and want to raise funds to donate to a worthy cause. If so, Gofundme.com is the place to go. Set up an account, share it on social media sites or through email and collect donations. It’s easy and you can raise money for anything! Need a laptop for college? Create an account on Gofundme.com and you could collect donations from friends and family.

Are there any activities you have planned for the summer or any helpful tips on ways to save? Let us know in the comments section!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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A Guide to Surviving the Summer at Your Parents’ House

by Carly Gerber

Being away from home at college can make you feel liberated and independent. Nevertheless, summer break comes and moving back in with your parents is a reminder that you are not as close to independence as you thought: All of a sudden, you’re hit with rules, obligations and expectations that you lived without during the academic year!

Moving back in with your parents doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, deciding to leave school and come home for a semester unintentionally helped me build a better relationship with my parents. Here are a few simple guidelines that will help you have a drama-free relationship with your parents over the summer:

  • Follow the house rules. Washing the dishes right after a meal or making your bed every morning may not make sense to you but when your parents ask you to do a simple chore, don’t fight them on it. Completing small tasks around the house is a lot better than having your mom scream at you for 30 minutes. Eventually, you’ll have zero fights with your parents and you’ll be the golden child, which can come with its own perks.
  • Remember where you are. A midnight Slurpee run on a weekday may be routine for you at school but certain behaviors should stay at college. Your parents may view staying out late on weekdays as irresponsible, especially if you have a summer job or internship. The weekend is the time for you to stay out late and relax, not during the work week.
  • Bond with you parents. Your parents may think your music is a bunch of noise but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other things you have in common. Ask your parents out to movie, to dinner, on a walk to a park or for ice cream. Take time during the summer to hang out with your parents as if they were your friends. They may surprise you with what cool and interesting people they can be as well as great roommates!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Finding Internship and Job Opportunities via Social Media

by Carly Gerber

Despite having other important things to check off my to-do list, I’ve spent countless hours on an assortment of social media outlets. (I’m sure you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament.) Recently, I began using one form of social media that isn’t a time waster: It’s called LinkedIn and it uses social media to connect its users to employers.

A LinkedIn user will create a personal profile with a picture, a description of their work experience, the education they’ve received and the type of degree(s) they were awarded from their college(s). Many students, however, don’t take advantage of LinkedIn, which can connect them with a number of employers who have job and internship openings. While 90 percent of students use Facebook frequently or occasionally, 46 percent of students have never used LinkedIn and those students who have don’t make it a priority to use it during their job search. According to this article on readwrite.com, students searching for jobs focus their efforts, in order, on:

  • Employer's website (70%)
  • Contact within the company (65%)
  • School career fair (61%)
  • Online job listings site (58%)
  • Social networking - including LinkedIn (26%)

LinkedIn is underutilized by college students because many feel they don’t have enough work experience or connections to even create a profile. Yet, students who create LinkedIn profiles have a greater chance at making connections, which can lead to jobs and internships. Do you have a LinkedIn account? If so, has it been helpful in your quest for employment?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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How Work-Study Can Help You Pay for School

by Carly Gerber

The student librarian or the math tutor in the tutoring center at your university may be one of the thousands of students involved in the Federal Work Study program.

The U.S. Department of Education explains that the Federal Work Study program involves universities assigning college students part-time jobs in their institutions or through private employers. The income may be minimum wage or higher (it depends on the work the student is doing) and the income goes toward the students’ college expenses. For example, the recipient can have the funds go directly toward tuition or books.

Students can apply for the Federal Work Study program (or FWS or Work-Study) annually by filing a FAFSA. The FAFSA asks an array of questions, the answers of which determine the amount of federal financial aid the applicant can receive. Within the application, it asks the applicant if they would like to be considered for the Work-Study program.

Students may apply for work-study annually. Also, students who are in high school should ask colleges they are interested in if they have a work-study program. Work-study program is a big time commitment but it’s a great way to defray the ever-growing cost of college.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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How to Land a Job After Graduation

by Carly Gerber

Trying to find a job after graduation may seem grim but there are ways to better your chances. Here are a few helpful tips that any student (even you grads!) can use to get a job.

All in all, there are many ways to increase your chances of landing a job after graduation. If you are driven and use all the resources that are available to you, you’ll be employed sooner than you think!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Interested in Volunteering This Summer? Here’s How!

by Carly Gerber

Summer break is a time when college students intern, work and enjoy the warm weather. This summer, however, try building your resume with volunteer work! Many employers want applicants who have volunteer experience. Volunteering shows selflessness and dedication – two characteristics most employers look for in potential employees.

One organization is called The Hands On Network. This organization will match you with volunteer opportunities based on the location you want to volunteer in and the type of experience you want. Another option is Volunteer Match, a site that finds an array of volunteer work in your area and that complement your major or interests. Lastly, there’s Idealist, which asks you for information such as the type of volunteer work, time commitment, the duration you want to volunteer and your location to find volunteer opportunities.

There are many more sites, services and organizations (including Scholarships.com) that can link you with volunteer opportunities so starting your search is easy! Volunteering can be a small commitment with an immense effect on the ones you’re helping. Plus, a prospective employer will be delighted to see an applicant who dedicates their time to helping others in need.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Taking a Gap Year May Enhance Your College Experience

by Carly Gerber

So you’re a high school senior who has worked hard to maintain the impressive grades and variety of extracurriculars that earned you multiple college offers. But before you purchase those extra-long twin sheets and start choosing fall classes, consider how a gap year could positively impact your future.

According to the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, more than 50 percent of students in Norway, Denmark and Turkey take a gap year (also known as a bridge year) before college. In the U.S., however, the practice is far from the norm. A USA Today article recently explored some misconceptions about gap years – it’s believed that taking a year off is only for affluent students and students fear that they will be at a disadvantage because they will be a year behind their age group – but in reality, students who take a year off from formal education before entering college find “a focused sense of purpose, independence, self-confidence, grit and resilience,” says Abby Falik, who founded Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit that supports gap year choices. And to further debunk the myths listed above, Global Citizen Year even provides financial aid to students who would not be able to afford a gap year otherwise.

Looking back, I believe completing a gap year would have helped me a lot. I enjoyed my time at my first university but I wasn’t striving for a specific future. I felt lost and unsure if I was going down the right path...even after switching my major three times and transferring to a new university. Following three high-anxiety years, I took a six-month sabbatical from college – time that allowed me to explore and reflect on my goals. I am happy I made the decision to take a break from college because I was able to determine who I want to be and how I want to get there. I only wish I had done so sooner!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Becoming a Better Communicator

by Carly Gerber

You may be thinking that the day you head off to college, you will be freed from listening to your parents’ opinions. Slow that ship before it hits the bridge: While it’s true you will become more independent at college, your parents (and their ideologies) still exist.

For example, deciding the major you want to pursue is exciting but just as you have picked it, your parents intercept your joyous mood by interrogating your reasons and drowning you with their viewpoints. Don’t get discouraged because this opportunity will help you to become an excellent listener and communicator. Here are a few tips from USA Today to help you become an excellent communicator with your parents:

  • Think. Thinking like your parents will prepare you to come back with solid arguments to questions you know they will ask. Also, your decisions or goals may change because your parents’ concerns are justifiable.
  • Research. Finding information on the Internet can be helpful as well as asking those without any stake in the game. For example, approach professors, advisers, the study abroad office, internship coordinators and anyone that can answer your and your parents’ questions. The more information you come into an argument with, the more clarity your parents will have about your endeavor.
  • Outline. Create a well-thought out, even written argument. Writing an argument will help you organize your points and stay on task instead of drifting into emotionally charged, unprepared arguments.
  • Pitch. Maybe you want to email your parents your written argument or discuss matters over the phone. During every discussion with your parents, remain calm as they speak their minds then go find the answers to their questions.

Becoming a good communicator - especially with your parents - is vital. Many of your parents are financially supporting your college careers and that makes their opinions the most important to acknowledge.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Habits to Keep, Kick in College

by Carly Gerber

Freshman year of college is right around the corner and I’m sure many of you are happy to be leaving those high school days behind you...but don’t leave behind EVERYTHING you’ve learned in high school! As a college student, I learned the hard way which characteristics to keep and kick but you don’t have to: USA Today recently shared some but I’ve included a few of my own tips as well.

  • Handwrite notes in class. Warning: Keep all technology in your dorm room or, if you must have it with you, make sure it’s switched off. Even those with great self-restraint will eventually take a peek at Facebook...which will turn into a 30-minute session. Using a good ol’ pen and paper will help you to avoid distractions during class.
  • Don’t do homework for one class in another class. In college, finishing an assignment for one class while in another class should be avoided. It will be harder to succeed in college classes – especially those within your major – if you aren’t paying attention in class.
  • Stay in Monday through Friday. This advice may seem unrealistic and just plain crazy but stay in Monday through Friday. There may be great deals on drinks and food off campus on Tuesdays but save your money and energy for the weekend. You will feel like you earned the night out instead of regretting your headache and exhaustion in your morning classes.
  • Get sleep. It’s been proven that getting seven to nine hours of sleep will do wonders for the body and anything less than those recommended hours will make you irritable, less able to concentrate, hungrier and (no surprise here) sleepier. Avoid all-nighters and staying up late like the plague because you’ll pay for it the next day.

Do you have any high school habits you’ve kept or kicked in college? Let us know in the comments!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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Is the Four-Year Plan Making Us Feel Guilty?

by Carly Gerber

According to the Buffalo News, there has been a decrease in the amount of students who receive their undergraduate degree in four years. Fewer than half of the University at Buffalo graduates graduated in four years and many other universities have seen the same decrease in their students graduating in that once-traditional timeframe. For example, Niagara University had only 60 percent of its students graduate in four years, while Alfred University only had 43 percent of its graduates graduate in four years. These statistics aren’t just exclusive to New York State, either: I personally know students from all over who have taken an extra semester or two to graduate.

My circumstances of being a transfer student and a student who has changed her major more times than she can count have caused me to extend my stay at college by a few semesters. Initially, I felt guilt, regret, sadness and self-loathing for needing to spend extra time at college; however, I wanted to feel excited for the future and those negative emotions were only going to hold me back from my full potential. Now, I’m feeling excitement, urgency and passion to take my college career seriously and to become a proud and successful graduate. I feel more mature and wiser because of my setbacks and changes during my time at college.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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