budget

5 Best Stores for College Students

Whether you are running low on groceries or need textbooks in a pinch, this list of the 5 best stores for college students  will definitely help you out in times of distress!

1. Target

This one may be a bit obvious but Target will nevertheless remain number one on my list. This glorious palace of red is a one stop shop where half of your paycheck mysteriously disappears during a trip for “just a few things”. You can walk in only needing paper towels, but you will walk out with trail mix, 3 dresses, a necklace, a mop, candles, and the complete second season of “The Office”…and probably no paper towels. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Shop now: www.target.com

Targetwww.target.com

2. Forever21

Oh Forever21, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. There are so many nice things you can find here at such low prices. Say it with me: two dollar cami’s. (Don’t worry, guys, there’s a men’s section too!). Shop now: www.forever21.com

Forever21www.forever21.com

3. Marshall’s and TJ Maxx

I cannot stress how much I LOVE shopping at these two stores. Every shopping trip is like a mini treasure hunt. You never know what you’re going to find there. They have a little bit of everything including clothes, electronic accessories, home decor, groceries, and books. Everything is marked down way below retail price which makes it easy to find nice things that guys and gals on college student budgets might not usually be able to afford. Shop now: www.marshallonline.com and www.tjmaxx.com

TJ Maxx & Marshallswww.tjx.com

4. eBay.com

Okay so this one isn’t exactly a “store” but it sure comes in handy in a pinch. You can find literally anything you will ever need on eBay (I personally use this site to find art supplies for class) at much lower prices. Some of these items are brand new while others may be used, so it takes a smart shopper to find the hidden gems. Shop now: www.ebay.com

eBaywww.ebay.com

5. eCampus and Knetbooks.com

If you need textbooks (who doesn’t?) but are not a huge fan of the price tags, check out these stores and sites. You can save up to 90% on textbooks as well as rent or sell used textbooks. You’ve read the blog, now go check out the rest of the site! Shop now: www.ecampus.com and www.knetbooks.com

eCampuswww.ecampus.com

From Dorm Life to Your First Apartment

Moving into my first apartment was such an exciting experience. I’ve lived on my own in the dorms for the past two years, but am now fully independent without anyone looking after me (like residential hall staff). Shopping for my apartment was in some ways similar and some ways different than shopping for a dorm room.

first apartment

First off, I had to buy kitchen supplies. I would recommend buying a cheap dinnerware set.  It’s college,  items are bound to get broken or lost, so I really didn’t find it necessary to invest in a super nice set of dishes. As far as cups go, I just bought a cheap set of four glasses to add to my collection of free cups I’ve gotten from campus events. Silverware is super cheap; I bought mine for $1 per set of four. When it comes to pots and pans, stick to the bare minimum. All you will need is two to three of each to get by. When shopping for these items don’t forget that thrift stores and yard sales will often be your best friend!

Luckily, I had a lot of items for my bedroom from the past two years, but I did have to go out and buy new bedding (I now have a full-sized bed as opposed to a twin extra -long). I bought a complete bed-in-a-bag set from Walmart for about $40.

As far as some general items go, I would highly recommend bringing cleaning supplies when you first move in. My apartment looked as if it had barely been cleaned prior to move in day, so a nice scrub of the place isn’t a bad idea. It’s also definitely a good idea to communicate with your roommates and see who can contribute what. Depending on how many people are in your apartment, there’s no need to have multiple dining sets. Sharing is fine and splitting the cost is even better! It’s a good idea to sit down and make a list of what you have and what you need for your home away from home. It’s tempting to buy lots of fancy new stuff, but the reality is that it’s just not necessary.

What are some items you’ve either been glad you bought or that you found you didn’t actually need?

Can You Afford Your Internship?

Did you just get an internship with a big name company?  Is it the company you’ve always wanted to work for?  Is the internship paid?

Even when the unthinkable happens, the clouds clear and you finally land the internship of your dreams, money can hold you back.  Many of the top companies in big cities offer unpaid internships only.  This can be a problem when it costs $50 a day just to commute.  Here are some things to think about when shooting for that big company name internship:

How are you going to commute?  Trains can be expensive, especially when you consider parking.  Plus, the train may get you into the city you are commuting to, but what about going from there?  You may need a bus, subway, or cab all of which can get expensive (or confusing) if you cannot walk.  Another way to go is taking the bus from the start.  Again, you will need transportation from there.  All of these alternatives are generally cheaper than straight driving your commute due to gas prices, traffic, and parking.  If you take another form of transportation, you can also take that time to nap, read a book, or just relax with some music.

Where will you take your lunch break?  Will you be bringing it or eating out?  Food is the second biggest concern after transportation.  Bringing your lunch and some snacks for the train or bus ride is definitely cheaper, although more time consuming.

What will you need to wear? Chances are, you cannot go to your internship in the same clothes you have been going to class in.  Updating the wardrobe from comfortable college student to professional work attire can cost some dough.  If on a budget, check out stores like Marshals where you need to dig, but can find some great pieces discounted.  Also, search for consignment shops in your area.

Aside from toning down your expenses, there are working options you can take when you aren’t interning that won’t burn you out and leave you feeling too overwhelmed.

Babysitting is one of the best ways to make some extra cash.  Although there is a major risk factor as the kids’ behavior can range from angelic to rude and bouncing off the walls, babysitting has a good time to money ratio.  Chances are you will be getting paid in cash too!  If you’re not sure where to find families to babysit, check out Sittercity.com or other websites of the sort that match you up with families.  All you need to do is add a profile.

If kids aren’t your thing, check out surveying or participating in research studies. Since there are so many scams out there, you may need to know someone who knows someone to find one of these.  The good news is that all you need to do is drive somewhere and give your opinion on shampoo or sneakers or some product, and you will leave with a day’s pay.  This can range from $50 to $150.  The only catch is that you can only participate once every so many months.

Although it may take an arm and a leg to pull this off, that internship on your resume is worth it!

– TravelBug

Should You Go to Grad School?

The following is a guest post from Margaret Mannix the Executive Editor of U.S. News & World Report’s best-selling higher education reference books, including Best Graduate Schools 2013 and Best Colleges 2012.

Given today’s economic turmoil, corporate belt-tightening, and abysmal unemployment rate, a second degree could mean a higher salary, a big career boost if you’re already out there in the working world, or an exciting new direction if you’re still floundering around with that part-time job at the mall. It’s a pricey proposition—you’re talking tuition and fees of $9,000 at public universities and more than $20,000 at private schools—but the payoff could be tremendous: People with master’s degrees earn more over their lifetimes than those with baccalaureate degrees.

For many of you 20-somethings, the decision might be a no-brainer. Coming out of grad school in your 20s or early 30s means you’ll have decades of high-earning power. And just think what that fatter paycheck will help with—rent, clothes, a car, and those student loan payments that seem to have no end. But—and this is a huge caveat—pulling in the big bucks in this day and age depends on your chosen field. The median salary for someone with a master’s in engineering is $107,600, according to a recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. That’s more than twice what someone with a master’s in English will earn.

Here are some things to think about if grad school is on your horizon (and you’ll find much more advice in our just-published Best Graduate Schools 2013 book!):

*Do your homework—and not just in choosing a program. Grill the career service people at all the schools you’re researching: Ask how many grads got jobs, what kind, and how long it took to get them. Ask about the long-term career path. Ask about the starting salaries for the jobs—and when you can expect a bump up in pay. Ask where all the good jobs are.

*For aspiring B-school grads, while the boom times aren’t back yet, there are definitely some bright spots. The tech sector is hiring more M.B.A.s, and international firms are seeking talented grads to help them take advantage of emerging markets like China.

*Prospects for newly minted engineers are excellent, with robust demand across the board—especially in electrical, biomedical, aerospace, computer, mechanical, and petroleum engineering, to name a few.

*Med school applicants will find that primary care practitioners are enjoying a seller’s market. Openings for nurse practitioners and physician assistants abound, too, and get this: One expert told U.S. News that more than 90 percent of people with a master’s in nursing nab a job within six months of graduating.

*Would-be J.D.’s might want to consider healthcare and intellectual property law, which are showing signs of rejuvenation thanks to recent legislation on healthcare, patents, and financial services.

eCampus.com has the absolute lowest price you will find for the Best Graduate Schools 2013 guide.

Update Your Spring Wardrobe for Cheap!

Now that winter’s over, what are you going to wear? Do you need to update your wardrobe pronto before you sweat your way to class but don’t have a lot of money to spend? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not the only one. There are lots of stores and online shopping where you can find mix and match spring and summer pieces without spending like a celebrity.

One online store brimming with deals for college students is aSociete. Once you create a free account (you don’t even have to be on the listserv to get daily emails if you don’t want to), go to town on clothes, accessories and shoes that are always on sale—and even name brand! Though some designer duds from Betsey Johnson tend to remain in the mostly more expensive domain (generally around $45 or more), there are lots of other trendy, adorable clothes for under $20! It’s definitely worth scouring through the pages upon pages of clothes for these special deals designed specifically for college kids like us.

Modocat is another online bargain outlet. Shoes, bags, clothes, accessories are all at the click of a button—so be careful! To make your outfit planning that much easier, the site also features a daily lookbook to help you find the perfect outfit for you. Even better, there are always items for sale to keep an eye on. Though like aSociete, some items get quite pricey, this site is full of the cute, quirky, fun and flirty for any price range if you just take the time to look around.

The average mall stores, like H&M and Forever 21, are also great to hit when shopping on the cheap—whether you cruise through their websites or spend time in the actual stores. Online and in physical locations, both offer new arrivals and sale items quite frequently. Some more elaborate pieces, like decked out lace dresses, will run higher, but basic tank tops, shorts, knit tops and other mix and match essentials can always be found on the cheap! And if you find something you like that’s a little too pricey for you now, stay on top of that piece online and in the store—both have sales often, and you never know when it might dip down to your price point.

Don’t forget about the bulls eye either! Target, though sometimes picked on for being like Wal-Mart (but it’s so much classier and nicer) is full of great bargains. Not only do they have a new celebrity designer, like Jason Wu, design special lower price collections for them every few months, but they get great new styles in regularly. At the very least, hit up the bathing suit racks packed full of adorable suits at a reasonable price. And while you clothes shop, you can also get some snacks, DVDs and other home goods for your dorm or apartment—all of which can be found at decent price points.

Wet Seal, online and in some malls, offers affordability and variety. You can find a ruffly, feminine top or the punk rock skull t-shirt you always wanted. Make sure to check out the sale section, full of great steals for around $20 or less. For that price, you can fill your closet with new spring and summer shirts and have money to spare.

If you need some snazzy footwear instead of the mundane cheap flip flops meant for the beach, check out DSW (where you often pay less than Payless). They’ve got everything from fancy to casual, comfortable to beauty-is-pain. You can shop luxury designs, like Prada or Gucci, or just keep it simple with Clarks. Whether you need sandals or professional and comfortable shoes for an internship consisting of running around all day, you’ll have no problem finding multiple pairs in one quick visit.

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to look at fashion and women’s magazines for ways to build a well planned out outfit inspired by a stylish celebrity for less. Sometimes they’ll even offer you special discounts just because you bought that issue. Inspirations, discounts, pretty pictures of your favorite celebs, and other beauty ideas all in one? It can’t get any easier than this.

So get out there and put some spring into your step while you shop. Good style doesn’t have to cost a fortune, if you know where to look. You don’t even have to become an extreme couponer. Happy savings!

-ToonyToon

I’m reading Physics: Principles with Applications