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How I’m Saving Extra Cash with My Car This Year

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When it comes to saving money, I’ve found that the best policy is to find little leaks that can be easily plugged, but the savings derived from them adds up over time. Recently I took a look at my car, and I took five steps that will save me hundreds of dollars this year. This is far from comprehensive from what you can do to save money on your car, but it can show that just thinking about how you might save in one area can help you come up with creative ways to do so.

Take off the Ski Rack

I haven’t been skiing for about 2 months, but I still had my ski rack on top of my car. It took five minutes to remove it and store it in the garage until next year, but doing so will improve the gas mileage my car gets because there won’t be the resistance and drag the ski rack caused. I have a bike rack too, but I won’t put it on until I need to use it, and I’m determined to take it off between uses this summer.

Regularly Rotate My Tires

I buy my tires at Costco. What a lot of people don’t know is that they will rotate your tires for free (Les Schwab, Big O, and some other tire outlets offer this service for free as well). I do this regularly because I didn’t do it with my last set fo tires and due to uneven tire wear, I ended up losing about 10,000 miles of life on them according to the tire guy. That ends up being enough miles that I would have to buy an extra set of tires for me car during its lifetime if I didn’t get the rotated every 5000 miles. With a set of tires costing hundreds of dollars, that’s a big saving for something that’s simple to do if you make the time for it.

Don’t Use My Car (as Much)

It’s such an obvious way to save money, but among my friends, I’m the only one who consistently does this. If I don’t need to drive the car, I choose an alternative method of transportation. I don’t drive to the grocery store that’s about 2 miles away. I ride my bike instead. Not only does it save gas plus wear and tear on my car, I get the exercise I wouldn’t otherwise get which has let me cancel my gym membership. It’s reached the point where I only use my car about 50% of the time when I leave my house. Most people I know use theirs 90% – 100% of the time.

Compare Insurance

You know all those commercials that say you can save hundreds of dollars switching insurance companies? A lot of them are correct and the Internet makes it easy to do. I actually love my insurance agent, that that hasn’t stopped me from getting better deals. Each year I do a search to see what the lowest rate Ic ould get from another company would be and take it to him. He hasn’t always been able to match it, but he gets as close as he can. I’m willing to pay a bit more to stay with my agent since I know I can count on him when there is an issue, but that doesn’t mean I can’t save money in the process as well.

Insurance Tracking

I let my car insurance company track my driving. I know a lot of people don’t like this, but I drive like an old lady anyway so it doesn’t bother me. My insurance company calls theirs SmartRide, but almost all companies have them now such as Snapshot. Basically, these devices track your driving and miles, and if you don’t drive a lot (like me since I take my bike on a lot of the shorter trips), you get a discount. I lowered my costs by about $100 a year by using it.

None of the above takes a lot of time or effort to do. It’s just a matter of doing it. And this is just one area of my life. I’m planning on doing the same thing to many other areas of my life to cut out excess spending fat that can be trimmed without much effort.


How to Make College More Affordable: An Insider’s Perspective

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By Gina Stewart

As a higher education advocate and counselor, I have helped many people, ranging in age from high school graduates to adult professionals, enroll in higher education, only to see them get in way over their heads when it comes to finances. Pressured to meet enrollment numbers, admissions advisors are often guilty of selling the my kids and clients “the dream” without painting a realistic picture of the financial burden that they’re going to saddle these students with after graduation.

Here is what I tell my kids and clients: College, at any level, is expensive. Anyone selling you the dream of higher education without also providing an accurate accounting of the costs and associated difficulties, is doing you a disservice. While I will not share with you the horror stories I have witnessed in an abusive and unchecked system, I can give you some advice on how to spend as little of your money as you can to get the best return on investment possible.

Here are the most important pieces of advice that I offer to every hopeful student I work with:

Get a Degree that Pays

The most important advice I can give to anyone running the financial aid gauntlet is to get serious about the investment, and choose a degree that will pay off in the end. While it is great that many schools offer degree programs in subjects like art history and music appreciation (I majored in music theory and composition so I know whereof I speak), these programs aren’t going to help you get hired outside of your field.

It is better to get your degree in a field that pays well from a school that has a solid track-record of placing students in jobs within the first six months of graduation.

For example, I helped one of my kids enroll in the radiation therapy bachelor’s degree program offered at Gwynedd Mercy U, located here in Pennsylvania. I explained that radiation therapy is a degree that she could carry with her wherever she went and, if she wanted to further pursue medicine or health would pay her enough to help fund that education while simultaneously giving her a leg up on her fellow students. Whatever university and degree combo you choose, make sure it is one that has a good chance of paying off (and that travels well).

Online University

If you are still carrying some doubt about the efficacy of online universities, get over it. When I was an admissions advisor for a major online university back in the day, I understood people’s reticence about joining the program. Today, though, we live on the internet and recent high school graduates are literally younger than household access to the web.

Many of the degrees that are now available online can lead to some highly lucrative careers in a variety of different industries. For example, you can complete a nursing degree online, which puts you on the fast track to paying for your education and earning a very nice living. There are always jobs available in the nursing sector, as hospitals, private clinics, and many other facilities require trained workers. The industry is expected to grow by 22 percent by 2018, since the country’s population is aging, giving you even more chances to find a great job.

Here’s what I told a man who had been downsized out of his retail management position: At the end of the day, you are going to get a solid education at an accredited school, and land a job that pays well. Your interviewer will not disregard your application because you went to a school with an online component. He went after a business degree from one of the most well known online schools in the country and now he’s making three times what he used to make.

Get on the Fast Track

Another thing that I tell everyone I work with is this: If you have the option to get it done quickly, get it done quickly. The longer you are in school, the more it is going to cost you. It’s good to look for programs that have an accelerated option. If you already have some college credits, see if you can CLEP out of the core. That could save you two years, and thousands of dollars. One of my students was looking to transfer from a community college to a four year university. We found her an accelerated program that let her finish the last two years of her bachelor’s degree in just one year. Her current employer was impressed that she took such initiative and even listed it as part of the reason my client was hired!

Let’s face it: College is expensive. But if you do it right, it is one of the best investments you will ever make.