Author: Alexandria Ramos

Making Smart Money Decisions

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It’s a well known fact that college students aren’t usually the most financially stable people around. Tuition is expensive and time is short for working full time. Put those two together and you’ve got a recipe for a ramen noodle budget. There are some things you can do to make sure you’re making the best financial decisions for yourself no matter how strapped for cash you may be.

1. Document expenses
Keep track of everything you spend money on, no matter how small the cost may seem. For example, if you spend $3 on coffee every week day, that adds up to $780 per year. Make sure you account for even the smallest expenses or you could come up short in your budget. Which brings me to my next point:

budget calculation

2. Make a budget
And stick to it. That second part is the hardest but also the most important. Making a plan for your spending and accounting for every dollar is the best way to stay on top of your financing.

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3. Use loans and credit sparingly
Borrow the very minimum amount that you’ll need for school even though you may be offered a higher amount. Talk to your financial aid advisor when you receive your award letter to ask for a smaller amount. Only borrow what you need. Similarly, only use credit cards when you are sure you can pay off the balance at the end of the month. No one wants to graduate with a load of debt.

Pumpkin Spice Everything

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‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice! Whether you find it in your latte, candles, or cupcakes, you’ll find something dunked, sprinkled, or drizzled with pumpkin spice. Here are a few ways to pumpkin spice up your life the DIY way!

 1. Pumpkin Spice Whip Dip

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This yummy fall favorite only requires 4 ingredients! The recipe is super simple and easy so get mixing and prepare to be the life of your next tailgate party!

2. Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Never spend five dollars on a latte again with this super tasty DIY pumpkin spice latte! Get all the yummy taste with fewer calories.

3. Pumpkin Spice Honey Cookies

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Try these super soft and fluffy pumpkin spice honey cookies that will leave you yearning for haunted hayrides, sweaters, and crunching leaves

4. Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

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Start your day off right with pumpkin spice pancakes! This healthy recipe is sure to be a yummy treat for a cool, crisp autumn morning.

How do you get your pumpkin spice fix? Let us know in the comments below!

Social Media Done Right

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When you’re feeling #bored, many of us gravitate towards social networks to fill time. With the aid of numerous iDevices, your social networks are never far away. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are fun and easy ways to stay updated on what’s going on with your family and friends (especially once everyone has returned to their respective campuses!), share important events, and even advertise. However, with great technology comes great responsibility and it’s easy to step over the line when it comes to social media. When in doubt, follow a few ground rules to make sure you’re not over-sharing.

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1. Never share personal information

This one is a bit of a no brainer, but it needs to be said. Every now and then an overzealous recent grad will receive their first real paycheck and post a picture of it to their Facebook page. Hashtag face-slap. Anything that has your account number and routing number (aka checks) on it can be used to hack into your bank account. Other tidbits of information that should never be shared are pictures of your driver’s license, credit cards, home address, phone number; anything that can be used against you.

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2. The internet is forever

Once you post something, just remember that you can never “un-post” it. Sure, you can delete a tweet or an image on Instagram or even that Facebook status where you described your boss solely with expletives. But in this age of information, it’s all too easy to screenshot or save any post. So even if you think it’s deleted from cyberspace, anyone could still have proof it existed.

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3. Grandma-proof your posts

As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t be comfortable with your grandmother seeing what you are posting, you might want to think twice before hitting that “post” button. This certainly narrows the field of acceptable posts quite a bit, but just remember that future employers, your professors, college admissions offices, and quite possibly your grandmother will see what you say on social media. Don’t give Nana a heart attack. Don’t be that grandchild.

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4. If you can’t say anything nice…

Just don’t say anything at all. What are we: five year olds or college students? Judging by some of the things we say on social media, it’s hard to tell. We are all old enough to be able to mediate ourselves and learn to respect the opinions and viewpoints of others of others, and with the exception of hate speech, there is nothing wrong with voicing our opinions as well.

 What do you think? Are we sharing too much on our social networking sites? Share you thoughts in the comments below!

Late Nights, Early Mornings, Less Sleep

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Between early morning paper writing and late night study sessions, a good night’s sleep often comes as an afterthought to many college students. Before you grab that energy drink or espresso to pull another all-nighter, take the consequences into consideration.

 1. Cognitive and Memory Problems

Don’t let all your studying go to waste by missing out on sleep! Lack of sleep has been linked to memory problems and difficulty with problem solving. These issues can be permanent and brain deterioration can occur if sleep deprivation is long term.

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image source: wisegeek.com

2. Pre-Mature Aging

Those dark under-eye circles you get after pulling an all-nighter are doing more damage than you may think. Human growth hormone, which is responsible for strengthening skin, bones, and muscles, is produced during slow-wave sleep. If you never reach this form of deep sleep, your body has less of a chance to produce this hormone.  Lack of sleep also causes your body to increase production of cortisol: a hormone that breaks down collagen. This causes skin to lose its elasticity.

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image source: healthcaretips.co

2. Weight Gain

Your hormones also get thrown off kilter when you don’t get enough shut-eye. Production of the hunger hormone ghrelin is increased when you get less than six hours of sleep causing you to have a larger appetite than normal.

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image source: healthbeautyou.com

 3. Heart Problems

Lack of sleep has also been linked to several other heart problems such as irregular heartbeat, heart disease, and high blood pressure as well as diabetes and stroke.

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image source: medclient.com

While the occasional late night is sometimes unavoidable, proper time management could help you add on a few more precious minutes (or hours) of sleep. How do you make sure you get a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments below!

Sources:

 Feature, Camille. “10 Surprising Effects of Lack of Sleep.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. <http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss>.

 Klein, Sarah. “Sleep Deprivation Effects: 8 Scary Side Effects Of Too Little Shut-Eye.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/scary-sleep-deprivation-effects_n_2807026.html>.

Avoid Your Comfort Zone!

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College is a time for exploration and enlightenment. High school was fun, but
there will be many more opportunities to explore things that you may not have ever
considered before.
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Take an interesting elective class: Use electives as a way to explore subjects that you
may not have been exposed to within your major. Try a science class if you’re a
humanities major. If your major is in the liberal arts, try out a math class. Who
knows? You might even find a field you like even better than your current major!

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Explore a new extra curricular activity: If you are normally drawn to the arts, try a
new sport! Intramurals are a great way to try out a sport without the stress or
commitment of playing on a college team. Similarly, if you’re usually athletic, try out
something artsy! If you’re not quite ready to hit the stage, many school productions
always need help backstage with painting sets, props, etc.

Getting out of your comfort zone will allow you to make new friends, meet different
kinds of people with different viewpoints, find new things to do, and go places
you’ve never been!

How do you stay out of your comfort zone? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Ways to Show Love to the Earth This Summer

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As any responsible consumer will tell you, it is important for everyone to lend a hand in conserving the environment and protecting our planet. Many people think that it takes too much effort to live an environmentally friendly life, but it’s actually much easier than you think. Unless you’re planning on moving to the moon anytime soon, try out these “green” products for summer.

1. The Honest Company Sunscreen SPF 30

6-25 The-Honest-CompanySunscreen is a summer must-have, but there are many that are found in aerosol cans and chemical laden creams. This sunscreen has a toxicity rating of 1; the lowest possible score which means it contains no chemicals that will harm the environment

2. Bambeco Bamboo Beach Towel

6-25 stripe-bambootowel_300Cozy up in this soft beach towel made from all natural bamboo fibers. Completely eco-friendly.

3. Camelbak Water Bottles

6-25 32CamelBakPodium2-s3-medium_newInstead of worrying about recycling all of those packs of water bottles, just  don’t use them in the first place. Try a refillable water bottle made from BPA free plastic. A popular choice is a Camelbak bottle. They’re easy to use and eco-friendly!

4. Bikes

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If you’re traveling a short distance, break out your bicycle or walk. You’ll enjoy the nice weather and save on gas emissions

5. Clothes-lines

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Save energy by giving your clothes dryer a break and hanging your clothes out on a line to dry. Take advantage of the warm breeze to dry your clothes naturally and save big bucks on your electric bill!

How do you stay eco-friendly during the summer? Let us know in the comments below!

-XOXO-

How To Prepare for Fall Semester in College

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With summer in full swing, it’s difficult to think about returning to school and spending hours in lecture halls. However, there are a few things we can do to take advantage of the summer months in order to stay ahead of the game and be prepared for the upcoming fall semester.

1. Apply for Scholarships

6-13 cap-diploma-moneyMost college students are far too busy worrying about their vacation plans to bother with scholarship applications. This lower competition makes it a bit easier to win scholarships that are offered during the summer months.

2. Find a Job

6-13 bigstock-Waitress-Serving-Food-To-Senio-47117440Use your spare time in the summer to save money from working. Extra earnings can be used for books or to pay on interest on your student loans. Every little bit counts!


3. Intern

6-13 photodune-202599-smart-business-man-with-a-laptop-and-colleagues-at-the-back-mThere are many internship programs offered during the summer. It’s easier to focus on your internship when you don’t also have to commit time to your regular classes.  One simple way to get started is by visiting sites like this one.

4. Register for Classes

6-12 stack of books2The last thing you want to deal with is trying to register for a class for the fall semester only to find it has already been filled. Especially since sometimes certain classes are only offered one semester a year. Avoid all of the inconvenience by registering as early as possible.

How do you stay ahead of the game for upcoming semesters? Let us know in the comments below!

Enjoyable Ways to Stay Fit This Summer

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Staying fit and healthy is high on your priority list, but who wants to workout during the summer? You’d much rather fill your days at the beach and your nights at bonfires. Here are a few ways to sneak in a workout without taking up too much of your limited free time!

Swim 

downloadThe main goal of summer is to spend as much time in the water as possible (or maybe that’s just my goal) so you might as well get a workout out of it. Do a few laps in the pool for excellent cardio while cooling off at the same time.

 

 

 HIIT

jump_ropeHIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts are perfect for summer because they are usually much faster than other cardio workouts. This means less time in the summer heat if you’re into outdoor training. HIIT workouts consist of short spurts of high intensity alternating with periods of low intensity. Running and jumping rope are excellent options to try!

 

 

 

Pilates

UntitledStrength training through Pilates is a refreshing alternative to the gym and will save you the trip since you can do it in your own home. This is also a great way to workout while avoiding the harsh summer heat.

 

 

 

Remember: always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program!

How are you staying fit while enjoying your summer? Let us know in the comments below!

6 Thrifty Ways to Enjoy Summer Break

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With May came graduations, the end of final exams, packing up, and moving on to the next chapter of this year: summer break. There is finally time to relax and spend time with family and friends, but as a college student or recent graduate, many of us are still on tight budgets. Here are some low cost (or free!) ways to enjoy this summer without breaking the bank.

1. Go to a public beach Beach_Public

If you live on a coast or by the Great Lakes, this can be a perfect option for you! Many beaches are free and have free parking for residents. You can also pack your own lunch and bring things to do such as a Frisbee or a volleyball.

 

 

Picnic2. Have a Picnic

If you don’t have any beaches nearby, find a park in your area and have a picnic. Bring a few friends and make it a potluck and you’ll cut costs even more.

 

 

Hiking3. Go Hiking

Take advantage of the sunshine and head out on a hiking trail in your area. The best part about it is it’s absolutely free! Spending time outdoors can really make you appreciate the beauty around you: no wifi required.

 

 

Museum4. Visit a Museum on a Free Day

During the summer months, many museums and aquariums have free days on the weekends. These places will usually advertise events such as these on their websites and in local newspapers.

 

 

Movies5. Go to the movies

When summer heat gets too intense, take advantage of air conditioning and catch a movie. After all, it’s time for summer blockbusters!

 

 

Concert6. Catch a Free Concert or Theatre Production

Keep an eye out for advertisements for local free concerts. Many parks and small theatres have shows for upcoming bands or community theatre productions. These ticket prices are usually very low (or free!) and you can support local artists at the same time. It’s a win-win!

 

 

Share your thrifty summer plans in the comments below!

How to Earn Extra Money During College

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Earn Extra Moneyimage source

Let’s face it: you’re busy. But this doesn’t change the fact that your textbooks cost an arm and a leg, tuition is rising constantly, and you still need to buy groceries this week. How are you supposed to keep up with your studies as well as your expenses? Here are a few ways to make extra money without letting your grades suffer.

1. Work Study Programs

Most colleges have employment opportunities specifically for students. Work study programs usually subtract your pay from your tuition bill. A few hours a week working at minimum wage doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. The best part is this work can usually be scheduled around your class schedule so it won’t interfere with your studies. Check with your financial aid office to see if your school offers programs like this.

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2. Sell Unwanted Items

Whether it’s clothes that you don’t wear anymore or your old guitar that, let’s face it, you haven’t picked up in years. There are usually plenty of things lying around your dorm that you have no use for anymore. Like the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Snap a few clear, well lit pics of your unwanted items and list them on eBay for a small fee (this fee is so small, you probably have enough change under your couch cushion to cover it). Another wonderful platform for selling clothing is an app called Twice available here. With this app you can sell your gently used nice clothing.

Sell the Clothes You Dont Wear Anymoreimage source

3. Start a Side Business

Okay so maybe this one is a bit more time consuming but with the right work ethic, you’d be surprised how easy this can be. This doesn’t have to be a full- fledged business venture. You can make a decent amount of money mowing lawns or painting houses over the summer. If you have a knack for crafts, you could also make and sell handmade items such as jewelry or paintings at craft fairs or with online marketplaces such as Etsy.com. Similar to eBay, with Etsy you can pay a very small fee to list your handmade treasures for others to purchase.

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Whether you choose work study or cleaning out your closet, there are simple ways to earn some extra cash while also taking some of the strain off your parents to cover your tuition bill. What other ways do you make extra money for college? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!