Money Saving Tips on College Applications

Everyone knows that college is a costly affair. You could probably ask a six year old how much they think college costs and they’d offer up an outrageous number that could be tragically accurate. And the trouble with paying for college that it starts before you even get accepted anywhere. It starts with the application process, averaging $38 per application (or higher, depending on the school). With most students applying to up to seven different institutions at a time, the costs have burned a hole in their wallets before a major can be declared. Fortunately, there are ways to save while applying to college, and here are some of those tips.

Early Admission Applications

Thinking About College
Thinking About College?
When you already know what your number one “Please Universe Let This Be The One With An Acceptance Letter” school is, try applying for early admission. If the universe is indeed on your side and you’re accepted, you won’t have to send in expensive applications to the other six schools that you only kind of wouldn’t mind going to. This will also save you a world of stress, and it could improve any applications that you still send out to other schools.

Ask About Fee Waivers

College Applications Don't Need To Be Expensive
College Applications Don’t Need To Be Expensive
Take the initiative and call up an admissions counselor at the school you’re applying to. The worst case scenario is that they’ll say “No,” and then you can move on with your life. There’s a life lesson to be had here as well: Never be afraid to ask questions. You can also ask your school counselor about it, and if you have a great working relationship with them, they could reach out to the schools on your behalf.

Take a Campus Tour

Here’s another life lesson that will extend beyond college: showing up in person and displaying your earnest and genuine interest in something speaks volumes. Taking a campus tour is always a good idea, since it lets you get a firsthand feeling for whether or not the college is a good fit for you. It also has the added bonus of letting that school know that your interest in them is serious, and that could make them more willing to send you an application fee waiver. Make sure you talk to other students at that school or admissions counselors to find out about opportunities to go on tours.

Include Your Test Scores on Your Transcripts

Most colleges require you to submit official SAT and/or ACT scores straight from the testing source, which only helps pile on fees on the applicant. There are a few ways to avoid that additional cost. Firstly, try asking your high school to put those test scores right on your transcript. Many colleges will accept that as an official record. Second, find out if the testing service will waive the fee for you. Generally this will only happen if you’re in financial straights, but it never hurts to ask.

Apply to Colleges with Free Online Applications

Fortunately, not every college out there charges its potential students to apply, and these ones are good to check out while searching for schools. But even if your top school doesn’t have free online applications, there’s still a chance that they can waive your application fees if you apply online. Why would that be the case? It saves the school from having to hire someone to physically enter the application information.

Use the Common Application

Lots of colleges make use of the common application (or the Common App, as it’s called), which is great for students since it allows them to fill out one application form and send it out to all of their prospective colleges. This saves on time to be sure, but unfortunately it might not necessarily save money, since there is still a one-time application fee for every school applied to. Some colleges do still offer a free pass just by using the Common App, so make sure to ask the admission counselors.

Easy Ways to Build Up Your Credit Without Much Risk

When it comes to things that are important to having a life that is financially secure, good credit is one of the absolute essentials. Without good credit, you won’t be able to buy a car, a house, or even rent a car. With bad credit, you could end up having to pay a ton more money in higher interest fees for a variety of things throughout your life. It’s not easy to get by when your credit is wrecked! That’s why you need to take action before it ever even gets to that point. You need to be building up your credit now so that you can take advantage of the benefits later on.

How are you going to do that, though? You don’t want to rack up a ton of debt and put yourself in the poor house. That’s the opposite of what your goal is! Don’t worry, though. It’s actually quite a simple matter to build up your credit without much risk. It doesn’t need to be a high stress procedure! In the article below, you’ll find a quick guide to getting your credit score to the best possible place as easily as possible. Let’s take a look.

Pay Your Bills On Time Through Credit

Remember To Pay On Time
Remember To Pay On Time
One of the best and easiest ways that you can build up your credit is to use a card to pay your bills. Not all of your bills can be paid with a credit card, but many of them can be. As long as you turn around and pay those right off, it’ll be just like paying normally. The only difference is that you’ll be building up great credit in the process!

Select a Rewards Card for Everyday Purchases

There are a ton of credit cards that offer cash back or rewards points whenever you buy things such as gas or groceries. This is a great way to earn rewards and build credit while spending money you would have otherwise been spending. Since you need to buy groceries every week anyway, you can just slap them on your credit card and then pay it off. Again just like with your bills, you’ll be earning credit without taking any risks. As a bonus, you could end up racking up some serious airline miles with your card! Have a fun vacation!

Never Spend More Than You Actually Have

Don't Over Indulge
Don’t Over Indulge
Keep in mind that you should never actually utilize your full credit line unless you have that much money. You should also be ready to part with that much money! If you spend more than you have with credit, that’s going to end up hurting you in the long run. Don’t abuse your credit card by racking up huge debts. The whole point is to use your card safely to make a bigger purchase later go more smoothly. It won’t go at all if you screw it up right from the very start!

Pay Off Your Balance Every Month

No matter what, you should always be paying off your balance as soon as possible. Never let it roll over from month to month, because then you’re going to get charged interest. That would mean a ton of money that you’re just lighting on fire! Do you really want to have to service a debt for years and years? Of course not. The better plan is to simply pay off your balance as soon as you are able. That will built up your credit score in the eyes of banks while keeping you on solid financial ground. Follow these guidelines closely and you won’t have any issues at all.

3 Tips for Saving Money on Your Income Tax That Are Totally Legal

Costs are constantly rising in all areas of life. This includes everything from grocery bills to housing prices. Although your income increases may not match the rising cost of living, there are ways to make sure that you maximize all the possible deductions at the end of the tax year to which you’re entitled. Some law-abiding tax payers take the most obvious deductions, but you shouldn’t miss out on the ones to which you’re legally entitled. You don’t have to pull the wool over the eyes of Uncle Sam to take all the deductions that you’ve been missing. Here are three tips to claim back certain types of income at the end of the tax year.

Deducting a Home Office for Freelancers

Freelancers Can Deduct A Home Office Legally
Freelancers Can Deduct A Home Office Legally
When you’re a freelancer, you can always deduct a home office if you have one. Be careful with this deduction, though, and make sure that you have a home office that legitimately meets all the IRS requirements. They’re very particular about what constitutes a tax deductible office, including use of the room and square footage. If you get audited, this can be a messy thing to explain if you fudged your tax return. On the other hand, if you have a discrete room in your home that you use solely for your work, don’t be afraid to take this deduction. It was made for people like you. You can save a lot of money on your taxes as a freelancer in other ways, but the home office is a big one.

Max out Your FSA or HRA Benefits

One of the best and most useful ways to lower your tax bracket is to max our your FSA or HRA benefits for healthcare. There’s a cap on how much you can contribute to this fund, but it’s pre-tax, so it lowers your gross income. The difference, though, between funneling money away into a distant fund such as a retirement plan, is that you see the results of this money directly. If you have medical expenses during the year, the FSA or HRA will ensure that you don’t get stuck with a massive bill. A good rule of thumb is to deduct the amount from your paycheck that covers your deductible, if you have one. Therefore, you can use your FSA or HRA to pay the deductible, and then often your insurance provider will cover any other fees. It’s like a safety blanket for your health, and can come in handy. You can also use it for other things, like non-routine procedures or out of network doctors. Be careful, though, because there are also lots of things that aren’t covered by FSA or HRA funds. You can find all of this information on the IRS website, though. Always double check to see eligibility. At the same time, you should also contact your insurance provider to understand fully what is covered after your deductible is met.

Max out Your Retirement Plan Contribution

Although it will cut into your take home pay, maxing out your retirement plan contribution is a great way to lower your tax bracket. Be careful that your retirement plan is pre-tax and deductible, though. The other upside of maxing out your retirement plan contribution is the fact that, many times, your company will match your contribution to a certain point. Check in with your human resources department to find out how much you could potentially be saving for your future.

How to Get Salon Results on a Budget

Beauty on a budget is not as easy to pull off as you would probably hope for it to be. Truthfully, most people give up on getting salon results once they get on a budget. Salon visits are often quite expensive, and it may be one of the first things that you wind up giving up once you get started on your new budget. This can be upsetting, but you may just think that it’s a fact of life. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be. There are actually ways that you can go about getting salon results on your budget, believe it or not. It may not be exactly the same, but it’s still something that you’re going to want to keep in mind. If you are worried about how your beauty will suffer while you are in a budget, and here’s what you need to know in order to get salon results at home while sticking to your budget.

Is It Possible?

Salon Results On A Budget
Salon Results On A Budget
If you are not under the impression that this is possible to begin with, chances are that you are not looking into how you can go about getting these things done on a budget. However, it definitely is possible to get salon results, or something close to it, without breaking the bank. Yes, it takes a little bit more effort than you might be used you, and yes, the results will not be exactly the same. However, it’s still worth trying this out in order to get the most of your budget without having to make sacrifices with your beauty.

Finding the Best Products to Use

Use Only The Best Products
Use Only The Best Products
In order to get the results on a budget, you want to make sure that you are finding the best products to use. The products you use can have a huge impact on the way you wind up looking, so believe it or not, you can get salon results just by knowing which products to use. You may think that you can’t get any good quality products on a budget, but the truth is that there plenty of companies who go out of their way to make similar products to what salon choose and offer them at a very reasonable price. This is definitely something that you want to know about, because it really can help you get beauty on a budget.

Knowing the Right Tools

Not only do you need to have the right products, but you need to have the proper tools in order to make sure that you can get good results on a budget. Sometimes, the right tools can be expensive, but it really depends on where you are shopping. Knowing what sorts of brands you should pursue when you’re trying to buy beauty tools is extremely important. It’s best to stay away from the big name brands and instead go for things that are more affordable for people on a budget. However, having the right tools can be very beneficial in order to help you get the style you are looking for. Instead of using curling irons, for example, you may want to consider using hair curlers instead. It can get a much better look at a fraction of the price.

Knowing the Right Techniques

Obviously, you also need to know the right techniques in order to make your hair look amazing. Generally, there plenty of tutorials online that will tell you exactly how you can go about getting salon results at home. It may take more time than you are used to, but with practice, you can wind up with amazing results that rival what you would have gotten at the salon. Just looking up tutorials on these sorts of things can really help you out in the long run, so it’s something you should definitely be looking into. You would be surprised by how much this can wind up helping you, so it’s not really something that you should be skipping out on.

How to Have Your Coffee and Pay Off Your Debt

One of the biggest pieces of advice that you’ll read when you look up ideas for paying off debt is that you have to give up the frilly, meaningless things like your daily coffee in order to be debt free. The thing is that, while that is definitely a tactic that you can use, it’s not the only way. There are people that love coffee with all of the extra ingredients and don’t want to give that up. No matter how in debt you are, you can keep your little vice and still make your way to a debt-free life. It’s not hard, but with a little effort you can do it, and here’s how.

Recognize

Of course no one likes to owe people money. It’s a horrible feeling, but remember that you’re here for a reason. You needed to pay the bills at the time, you wanted that dress so badly you’re willing to pay for it with credit, you needed to go to school, etc. The reasons might not all be life or death, but for whatever circumstance it was, you needed that credit card. Alleviating yourself of that guilt is the first thing you need to do. Next, recognize that this is going to take time. It would be ideal to just save really hard for a few months and then pay it all off, but if you have thousands of dollars to pay off it just isn’t likely, especially when you want to keep your coffee. Realizing this takes away the stress that you feel about how much money you have to pay.

Consolidate

If you have more than one card, find out which one has the lowest interest rate and put all of your debt onto it if you can. It will be scary, maxing out a card, but it will save you a lot of money in the long-run. Despite feeling like you’re better off with more than one thing to pay off because it means that you have room to spend in an emergency, you’re actually not helping future you at all. Even putting as much as you can onto the lowest interest card and then a bit on the higher interest one will save you cash.

Avoid Saving Up

Pay Off Your Debt Without Losing Your Style
Pay Off Your Debt Without Losing Your Style
Many people have some sort of jar or piggy bank that they put their spare change in in hopes of saving up a good chunk of money to pay off something. You’re actually hurting yourself here. As soon as you get money, put it towards a payment. The longer it sits around the longer your debt will stay the same. Having it in a jar isn’t the same as having it in the bank, you’ll still have payment dates and if they pop up you’ll pay interest. If it helps, have someone else take your money to the bank. It can be hard giving up what extra money you have, but remember your coffee and make the decision to keep that treat around instead of having extra cash on hand.

Budget

Now this is advice that we can all agree on. Sitting down and budgeting out what you make vs. what you need monthly can be a lifesaver. Having it all planned out shows you exactly how much wiggle room you have when it comes to buying the things like coffee. It also shows you how much you can afford to pay off per month. The greatest thing is calculating how long it will take you to become debt-free and working toward that goal. This timeline holds you accountable, because you know how upset you’d be with yourself if you failed to reach your prize of an even ledger. Even getting close can excite you and inspire you to save more just so you can pay everything off. After you do that, you won’t have to worry about buying coffee every day. Instead just freeze your cards (in the freezer, really) and then enjoy not owing anyone any money.