Archive | Saving Money

How to Start Your Own Business with Little to No Money

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If you dream of running your own business but have a limited budget, don’t despair! There are ways you can get your venture off the ground without a big bank loan or support from relatives. Here are a few tips on how to start your own business with little to no money:

Work from Home
Working from home rather than investing in office space is an ideal way to save money as you start your business. Try to create a dedicated workspace. This will make you more organised and help you to switch off from work at the end of the day. Alternatively, if you have a little bit of money and don’t find working from home conducive, find an office sharing facility where you can rent a desk rather than an entire office. Retailers may also be able to find shared space at local venues.

Keep your Day Job
If you’re still at college but have some free time, now is the perfect opportunity to start working on your business venture. If you’re already at work but don’t have any money to invest in your new business, it’s a good idea to keep working for as long as possible. Use your lunch breaks, evenings and weekends to work on your business idea. And save some of your salary to fund it.

Choose a Business Carefully
Some businesses require more initial investment than others. Businesses which operate with a lot of stock require storage and if you have to deal directly with your customers you’ll need a shop front, which can be expensive. If you love the idea of working for yourself but don’t have a fixed business idea in mind, consider prospects with low initial overheads. For instance, freelancing as a writer or graphic designer only requires a computer, an internet connection and some software. Or setting up a cleaning business, like 1300 Rubbish, just requires some insurance and cleaning products.

Don’t Opt for Bricks and Mortar Right Away
A bricks and mortar residence for your business – be it an office, a retail outlet or a workshop – costs a considerable amount in terms of rent, utilities and insurance. If you can avoid it, try to keep your business online to begin with. With a good website, you can tell customers all about your product or services and even sell to them, too. Not only do you save money on premises, you’ll also open your business up to customers from all over the country, not just those walking by your door.

Use Online Platforms
A great website is a cornerstone of any good business. But if your budget won’t stretch to what you’re looking for, consider whether an existing online platform could do the job in the meantime. eBay, Shopify and Etsy are good options for retailers, Airbnb could work if you’re setting up as an accommodation provider, and freelancer platforms are great if you want to find work without a strong online presence.

Get Social
If you’re running a tight budget, it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to spend hundreds on a big marketing campaign. But you still need to get your company name out there. Make the most of social media. Develop a presence on a number of platforms and use them to engage with potential customers and share information about your company. A well-maintained Facebook page can even work in lieu of a business website.

Setting up your own business with little to no money requires a lot of dedication and resourcefulness. As you develop your business and begin to make some money, invest back into the company. That way you can work towards having the office or the website or the marketing budget that will take your business to the next level.

This article was contributed by guest author Melanie Saunders.

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Planning Future Finances: Will Student Loans Prevent You From Having It All?

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Going to college is a top goal on many people’s lists. However, can achieving that goal be detrimental to future plans? With the average student loan equaling close to $40,000 (and some students even owing $100,000 or more), it’s enough to make anyone bat an eye once or twice. It can really make you question whether or not you’ll ever achieve your dreams of owning your own car, house, or business.

Despite accruing an impressive amount of debt, you can still do all those things and more. Here’s how you can plan for major life expenses while still paying off student loans.

Affording a Car

It can seem impossible to afford a car when you have to pay student loan bills on top of your other expenses. That doesn’t mean a vehicle is completely out of the question. Although you may not think your budget has room for a down payment along with various monthly payments, it is completely doable.

With a few strategic adjustments to your finances, you’ll be driving off into the sunset in no time. Here’s how you can start saving for a car while managing student loans:

  • Start With a Budget: Before you do anything, you need to know how much you’re spending every month. Creating a budget will help you determine expenses you can eliminate or cut back on to go towards your car purchase.
  • Estimate Potential Costs: After you make a budget for your current expenses, it’s time to estimate the potential costs of owning car. By figuring out how much you’ll pay each month on car payments, gas, insurance, and maintenance, you’ll have a better idea which car to get and if your current lifestyle can support the cost.
  • Pay Down Your Debt: Depending on how much of your student loans you’ve already paid, it may be wise to lower your balance even more when considering purchasing a car. How much debt you’re in can potentially affect your chances of getting approved for a car loan.
  • Save, Save, Save: Whatever extra money you make, put it aside in a savings account so it can grow and be there for you the day you buy your car. If you’re hard pressed to find money to spare, consider taking on side jobs to contribute to your car fund.

Financing a Home

Now that you have a car, you need a garage to put it in, right? Thankfully, plenty of houses come with one of those. However, now that you have student and car loans to pay, could a house truly be in the cards?

Of course. Like with planning a car purchase, there are different things you can do to make a house payment more financially feasible. First off, you need to be looking at homes you can afford. It does you no good looking at lavish estates that are way out of your price range.

By looking at homes that are within your budget, you can fall in love with the right house instead of pining for a mini mansion that’ll sink you into even more debt. Speaking of debt, the amount you have is extremely important to lenders.

Just like with car loans, mortgage lenders are looking for potential borrowers to have a specific debt-to-income ratio (36 percent or less including the mortgage to be exact). They’ll also be taking a look at your savings and credit score. To give yourself a better chance of getting approved, pay off as much of your debt as you can before you apply.

You can potentially make this easier by decreasing your student loan payments. This can be done by either refinancing your student loans or by changing your repayment plan to be income-driven. Whatever you decide, it’s important to make every student loan payment on time.

Late payments on any debt will hurt your credit score and will lead lenders to assume you won’t pay your mortgage on time either. The better your credit score, the greater your chances are that you’ll be approved.

Lastly, you’ll need to save up for closing costs and a down payment. Closing costs are usually 2 to 5 percent of the price of the house while down payments are usually 20 percent, and both need to be paid upfront.

Building Your Business

It’s the dream of many to be able to work for themselves. However, starting your own business is dramatically different, and riskier, than owning a car or house. The stakes seem especially high when you’re already thousands of dollars in debt with student loans.

Don’t let that deter you though. Many people with student loans have started their own small business, which means that you can as well. If you have two or more student loans, it may benefit you to consolidate them.

Doing so can decrease the amount of interest you need to pay and make it easier to make payments on time. In order to qualify, you’ll need a good credit score and have no defaulted student loans or bankruptcies on your record. Consolidating your loans may also require paying a fee and can affect the terms of forgiveness programs federal loans offer.

Another option is to apply for deferment or forbearance to lower monthly payments. The extra money you save can go towards your small business expenses to get it off the ground and running. Just remember that interest will still accrue even when accepted into these programs.

Finally, you need to work hard and cut or lessen every possible expense. Starting a business isn’t cheap, and having student loan debt makes it that much harder to raise the capital you need. If you still need to work a full-time job while your business is still in its infant stage, then do it.

Move back home with your parents if you have to or live with a roommate or two. Take advantage of public transportation as much as possible. Living frugally and shopping smart not only increase your chances of small business success, but also of repaying your student loans sooner.

Having student loans can make it feel like you have to put your life on hold until you pay them back. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Owning your own car, house, or small business is possible if you’re smart with your finances. By creating a budget, utilizing different loan programs, and living inexpensively, you can live your life to the fullest despite having student loans.

This article was contributed by guest author Devin Morrissey.

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10 Best Tips to Manage Your Finances

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College is an exciting time, but financially, it can be difficult to stay responsible. Living on campus means spending money on food, beverages and nights out with your friends, which can be problematic if you’re trying to save up money for your post-grad years. However, it’s very possible to not only manage your finances responsibly in college, but also to save up money for the future. Here are ten essential money-saving tips for college students:

1. Find the Right Bank for You
It’s important to find a bank that suits your student financial situation. Look for banks that offer student accounts that reimburse you for out-of-network ATM fees or have low minimum daily balance requirements, or open an account with a bank that has ATMs near your campus.

2. Use Mobile Banking
It’s much easier to be responsible with your money when your account balances and statements are just a click away. Be sure to download your bank’s mobile app (nearly all banks have one,) and check your balances frequently.

3. Build Credit Responsibly
Building credit is essential to secure loans if you need them later in life, so use your credit card as much as possible. At the same time, be sure to monitor your card balances carefully; overcharging your card or being late on payments can seriously hurt your credit.

4. Don’t Overspend on Books
Many campus bookstores charge higher than the market price for textbooks, so a good way to save money is to get your books elsewhere. Online retailers like Amazon usually offer books for lower prices, or you can be especially thrifty and buy used textbooks on eBay or similar sites

5. Eat Free
One of the best ways to save money is to take advantage of any food you can get free or discounted as a student. Know your school’s meal plan; if it’s free to eat at the school cafeteria, eat there most days and limit money spent on restaurants or take-out. When you do go out, look for local businesses that offer student discounts, and also keep an eye out for student events that offer free meals.

6. Keep a Strict Budget
Even if you think you’re financially responsible, there’s no reason not to make a budget. Track all expenses on your smartphone and set goals for your weekly or monthly spending. Identifying what you spend the most on can help you reduce your overall spending.

7. Use the Envelope System
The ‘Envelope system’ is a method of setting a budget for the week and placing the money you’ll allow yourself for different expenses in marked envelopes. Calculate how much you’ll need each week on gas, food, etc., label each envelope, and if an envelope runs out, don’t spend more in that category until the next week.

8. Apply for a Job On-Campus
Even if you aren’t receiving financial aid, there are often employment opportunities right on campus. Contact your school’s student employment office to see what jobs may be available to earn yourself some regular income, but do it as soon as the semester starts; many campus positions fill up quickly.

9. Avoid Unnecessary Fees
You’d be surprised at how much money you can save just by avoiding any fees. Avoid ATM fees, for example, by starting an account with a local bank, or find the nearest ATM for your current bank and use it exclusively. You’ll also want to pay off credit card balances or other bills promptly to avoid late fees.

10. Don’t Drive
If you have a car on campus, you’ll want to drive it as little as possible to avoid spending extra on gas. If your college has a ride-sharing option, or rental options such as ZipCars, take advantage of it, or use public transportation in your area if available.

This article was contributed by guest author Hayden Sewart.

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Why Ecommerce Could Be the Answer to Your Unemployment Woes

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Congratulations – all of your hard work over the couple of years has paid off and you’ve finally graduated with that coveted degree! After years of studying and spending hours in the library, it’s time to sit back, put your feet up and wait for all those job offers to start rolling in. Right?

While we wish we could say that it’s that simple, as you may have already realised, the job market is a pretty tough place for graduates to be right now. Increased competition means that it’s more important than ever for graduates to stand out when applying for jobs  – and as you may discover, it’s a lot harder for you to get your hands on that dream job than you initially thought it would be.

However, don’t despair – not all hope is lost! While it may feel hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there are plenty of other options out there for bright young graduates like you.

Have you ever considered going it alone and starting your own ecommerce business? No? Well, read on.

With a growth rate of 23% year-over-year in the USA, and a total value of $322.17bn sales in 2016, it’s not hard to see why unemployed graduates might consider ecommerce for their big break. But what else is in it for you?

If you are looking for an alternative way to start earning some money and put your degree to good use, here’s why ecommerce could be the answer to your unemployment woes.

Work from home

Thanks to order fulfilment options such as dropshipping, where an external company manages stock control and deliveries for you, there’s no need to have your own storage warehouse. Therefore, depending on what products you’re selling, one of the perks of running an ecommerce business is that it’s pretty easy for you to work from home.

Yes, you heard that right. No need to put on that business wear and leave the house at 6am to start your daily commute. You can roll right out of bed and work in your PJs if you like!

Earn while you sleep

Since ecommerce allows customers to purchase goods via an online store, there are no barriers in terms of distance or time (depending on where you ship to). Therefore, you have a wider audience for your products or services than if you decided to open a physical store in a shopping mall, for example. Your business is always open – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Low operating costs

Running a physical store costs a lot of money. Just think of all the overheads you’d have to pay for rent, electricity and staff. By running your own solo ecommerce operation from home, one of the main benefits is that the overheads are much lower.

For example, an online store requires fewer personnel to manage it thanks to automation and inventory management. You can also benefit from cheap online marketing channels such as social media to spread the word about your business.

But wait – there are downsides too

It’s important that you’re not fooled into thinking that setting up an ecommerce business is going to be an easy ride – because it certainly isn’t. In order to be a business owner, you need to be prepared to work hard, especially in the early days when you are trying to get your ecommerce store off the ground.

You need to spend lots of time researching your business idea and creating a plan to help you establish whether your idea is commercially viable or not. While working yourself certainly isn’t for the fainthearted, if you found it easy to motivate yourself to study hard at college, then you might just have the dedication needed to run your own ecommerce business.

How to start an ecommerce business

If you think that setting up an ecommerce business could a good option for you, then here are a few handy tips to get you started:

  • Find the product or service that you want to sell: Yep that’s right, it’s time to do some research! Once you have an idea in mind, go online and see what your competition is doing, then ensure that you offer your customers something better
  • Choose the name of your business: Once you’ve decided on your product or service, it’s time to pick a memorable name for your business that will help you to stand out in the crowd. To make sure that the one you want isn’t already in use, conduct a corporate name search
  • Register your domain: When you’ve settled on a name, you’ll need to buy the domain – ideally one that is the same as your business name, with a strong extension like .com. Find out more about how to do this here
  • Build your store: Next up you need to work out whether you want to host your own online store or use a third party marketplace such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy. When you’re just starting out, using established marketing channels can help you grow your sales – but you won’t build up much brand equity that way

With the benefits and downsides considered, if you’re a graduate who is currently unemployed and is interested in finding out more about getting into the world of ecommerce, then there’s never been a better time to get started. 

This article was contributed by guest author Victoria Greene.

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7 Unusual Ideas for Making Money as a Student

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You have so much to do. You probably don’t have time to get a regular 9 to 5 job with everything you’re currently juggling. At the same time, you’re probably sick of eating instant noodles and being stuck at home on the weekends. Why not make some extra cash in an unconventional way?

1. Contribute to the Things You Read

Most blogs and websites are always looking for guest contributors, and some of them even pay when they agree to publish your posts. If you already spend your mornings or late nights catching up on these blogs, you probably know their style inside and out. See if any of the sites you follow pay for submissions.

2. Jump Into the Sharing Economy

If you have a car, you can always sign up to drive for a ride sharing service. If you’re not too big on the idea of letting strangers into your car, you could try being a courier at Zoom2U and deliver the goods. If you have your own place and you live in an area that sees a lot of tourism, you can even rent out your extra rooms to travelers.

3. Join the Gig Economy

Can you write, code, program, build websites, or design graphics? People are always looking to pay other people to handle those tasks for them. If you have a skill that you can do with little more than a computer and an internet connection, you can always become a freelancer. You’ll get to set your own rates and hours, on top of being able to choose who you work with.

4. Buy and Sell Stuff

You probably know a lot of people who love things like vintage clothing. They’re often willing to spend an arm and a leg on sites like Etsy or eBay for great vintage pieces. Take a look at what people are buying and selling on those sites, and then hit up your local thrift stores. You’ll be able to find similar things for much cheaper, and then turn around to sell them at a profit.

5. Cash in On Your Hobby

Now is the time to try those things you’ve always wanted to do, but weren’t sure you’d be successful doing. Do you have a craft or a hobby you’re passionate about? Can you paint or sculpt or carve things out of wood? If you can, it doesn’t hurt to try to sell the things you were going to make anyway. If it doesn’t work out, you aren’t at a loss – you still got to do something you love doing.

6. Tutor Your Classmates

A lot of your peers would love some extra help. If you can provide it, provide it at a price. When you’re great at a particular subject, others who aren’t doing as well might appreciate your expertise on the subject. Charge your peers a modest rate for an hour or two of your help – they might even want ongoing assistance, and over time, things might become highly profitable.

7. Love Every Dog

You probably don’t have the time or money to get your own dog as a student. A lot of other people with dogs who might not be able to get home and walk them in the afternoon might be willing to pay you to do so on their behalf. If you’re a dog person, you’ll find yourself in heaven as a dog walker.

If you like doing any of these things, you might even be able to turn them into full time jobs. They could potentially carry you through a gap year if you choose to take one. If they don’t work out the way you’d planned, you can drop them just as quickly as you picked them up.

This article was contributed by guest author Amy Berry.

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12 Little-Known Ways To Save During Your First Semester of College

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You’re on your own now (sort of) and every dollar counts, so Offers.com made a tell-all guide on all the best ways to save, whether you’re heading off to college for the first time, or coming back for your final semester. Check out these 12 little-known money-saving tips below, and watch your savings grow.

1. Take an Inventory of What You Have

The first thing on your path to saving the most when heading to college is to take a thorough inventory of items you already have. Check your house for clothes, school supplies, electronics, and home products to gauge what you own. This will give you a clear view in your mind of the items you need and help you prioritize the bigger ticket items with the smaller purchases you need to make.

2. Never Pay Full Price for Textbooks

Most people know about the increasingly ridiculous prices of textbooks, yet they are absolutely necessary to succeed in your coursework. Dodge the overpriced textbooks from your local university bookstore, and use sites like Chegg to get up to 90% off the original price of your textbooks. And if your textbook order is over $50, they throw in FREE shipping. Money saved + convenience? Sounds good to us.

Plus, Chegg offers 30 minutes of free online tutoring through their trial package, so take advantage and get ahead of your studies while you can!

3. Get FREE FOOD (at places better than your dining hall)

Many students would be surprised to learn how many different fast food stops and restaurants offer FREE food if you know how to look for the deals. Offers.com has a comprehensive category section for the best fast food & restaurant deals. We also have a guide of all 100+ places you can get a free meal or perk on your birthday, so celebrate by cashing in on your special day!

Also, to maximize even more savings, check out Offers list of 100+ of the best student discounts and deals, covering everything from pizza to personal insurance.

You can also download apps like Hooked, a free mobile app for college students to discover exclusive, short-term offers from restaurants around campus – often offering freebies and great deals for food.

4. Stream Music for Half the Cost

Being a student has a lot of perks, including deals on many music streaming services. Spotify offers a deal for 50% off their Premium service for students – making it just $4.99 a month – with a valid university email address. Additionally, Apple Music also offers college students a discounted membership to its unlimited music streaming service for $4.99, a 50% cut from its regular monthly rate of $9.99. TIDAL, the newer streaming service with exclusive content & high-definition music, offers a half off discount for students too.

5. Always, Always Look for Local Student Discounts

Most cities and towns with colleges in them have a variety of merchants offering student discounts on items and services. You can find discounts for movie tickets, beauty and salon services, car services and much more. Just do a quick Google search on “college discounts in ____”, and you are sure to find at least one thing you can save on! You can also find great savings on experience, entertainment and restaurant deals through Groupon.

Offers.com has a list of 125 of the best student discounts, organized by category and savings rate. You can find deep discounts on food, entertainment, housing services and more.

6. Take Advantage of Online Coupons

Most people don’t know that there are hundreds of thousands of coupons online for almost every store and item under the sun. An important factor in saving money when going to college is checking online databases like Offers.com to see if there are any deals on the item you need (there most likely will be). There are online coupons for every category imaginable – like tech, clothing, dorm essentials, and more – so be sure to be thorough before making your purchase.

7. Shopping for New Clothes? Check Overstock Stores

If you want to buy brand name clothes for when you head to college, always make sure to check out overstock stores, such as TJ MaxxMarshalls, and Ross. These stores have amazing prices on quality clothing, shoes, and accessories, oftentimes with deals as high as 90% off. (!!)

And if you’re a real fashionista, you need to stop through Nordstrom Rack or Last Call by Neiman Marcus to get the best savings on high-fashion items ranging anywhere from 20-75% off original market price! Shop the best Nordstrom Rack & Last Call by Neiman Marcus deals here.

8. Know Your Meal Plan Options Before You Commit

Meal plans can be a great way to save on food expenses, but every college and university differs, so it’s important to check your options to get a comprehensive understanding of what you are paying for. Use tools like the MyFico meal plan calculator to find out if your meal plan is worth buying or if it’s just costing you more money.

Many schools require freshmen living on campus to sign up for a meal plan but offer varying plans and budget-friendly options. However, some students say that they save more money by making their own meals so make sure you choose wisely when selecting the plan for you. Most meal plans can even be covered by financial aid.

9. Get Quick Cash in a Pinch

Every college student has had moments where money is tight, and you feel like you’re stuck with no funds. There are several ways to get cash to hold you over for a weekend when money is low. Start by selling your old clothes for cash at places like Plato’s Closet & Nordstrom Rack.

If you have any old textbooks or novels that you no longer need, sell them at a discount bookstore. Most college campuses will have multiple book buyer merchants nearby, and you can always sell them at places like Half Price Books or Barnes and Noble. You can also use sites like Book Scouter to enter a textbook’s ISBN # and automatically see how much 50+ online merchants will pay for your used textbook. Amazon also has a book buyback program, advertising that they pay up to 80% of the value of the used book.

You can also sell items like used cell phones, movies, and video games, so get creative and check that old pile of boxes in your closet to get some quick and easy cash!

10. Set up automatic withdrawals

For discipline, set up an automatic monthly deduction from your checking account and increase the amount you are contributing each year. Better yet, some employers offer the ability to contribute to a 529 savings plan through payroll deduction, so if you have a college job you can automatically start saving without thinking about it. The concept of “out of sight, out of mind” will serve you well when in a pinch for money, and will help you achieve a sizable savings account by the time you graduate. If you don’t plan on having a job through college, set aside a portion of the money from your student aid or parents each month, and you will be glad you did!

11. Apply for a student credit card

Student credit cards are a great way to start building your credit and gain rewards like travel points or cashback payments. Keep in mind, this is only a good idea if you are a responsible spender and never spend more on your credit card than you can actually pay back. A lot of students rack up debt they can’t pay back, so be very cautious when thinking about applying. But if you’re a responsible spender, student credit cards are an awesome money-saver. There are lots of options for student cards, and you can choose based on the different perks and restrictions. Some cards offer cash back on grocery purchases, gas and other daily necessities, and you can often score rewards for air travel and responsible spending. To find out the best card for your lifestyle, check out this handy blog on of a variety of student credit cards here.

12. Know the Right Times to Shop

You may be in a time crunch preparing for college, and luckily, many stores begin to offer sales in August for the back-to-school rush. But a lot of the real quality savings begin around October, when the back-to-school chaos has wound down. If you can, wait until October to buy your new wardrobe, and you will see tons of quality sales – oftentimes up to 50% off the market price in season.

You can find all the right times to shop your big-ticket items and everyday essentials on Offers here: What to Buy Every Month of 2017.

This article was contributed by guest author Carson Yarbrough.

 

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Starting a Business as a Student? Why You Should Have an Exit Plan

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A lot of entrepreneurs and successful startup employees swear by starting businesses while you’re still a student. The philosophy behind that idea is that you’re ready to leap off the ground the moment you finish your education. While this sometimes works, you can never quite predict what life is going to throw at you. Everyone needs a backup plan – especially when dealing with something as ambitious as starting a business.

You’re Dealing with Time Constraints

Students are at least as busy as (or even busier than) business owners. This is especially true as graduation approaches. If you’re already devoting massive amounts of time to your education and you have a side gig to make some cash, you’ll be lucky to ever sleep again if you start a business. Some people won’t face the same kind of workload, and actually have the necessary time to devote to starting a business. If that’s not you, you’ll need to be able to find the time to keep yourself sane and healthy.

If you’re worried about time, start by focusing on long term planning. Devote your spare time to planning what you’ll do in the future, rather than actually implementing your plans. You won’t need an exit strategy if you haven’t actually started your business – there’s a lot less pressure when you focus on preparing for your future rather than building one from the ground up.

Your Education Might Take You in a New Direction

You’ve started a business, and things are difficult. You graduate, and you get a job offer that you would never have conceived being offered. You really want to take it, but you’re tethered to another obligation. What are you going to do? You don’t know what’s going to happen a few years down the road, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to live your dream.

If this happens, you’ll need to know you can safely leave the business. Co-founding your business with others might be your best bet. If one or more of you needs to leave, the business will still be able to survive. If things are going really well, you might even be able to find someone to buy you out. You’ll be free, and your former business might even wind up better because of it.

You Want to Be Careful With Costs

Being a student is expensive. You need to be able to keep your head above water while you’re finishing up your education. Student loan debt is very high in some parts of the world, and the financial juggling act that comes with learning can be a real nightmare. If running your business is costing you money or it isn’t as profitable as you need it to be, you have to be able to pull away quickly.

This is easy to do when you’re running a business like a profitable blog or an eCommerce service. You can always sell your website and walk away with some cash. You’ll be able to pay off what you need to pay off, or use that cash to carry you through until you land a stable and profitable position.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your exit strategy. If you consider every possibility before you start a business, you’re more likely to be able to prevent or quickly resolve any hang ups you might run into along the way. On the other hand, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into – you’ll have a much easier time.

This article was contributed by guest author Amber Brunning.

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12 Financial Tips for Young Adults

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There are a lot of factors affecting the financial status of young adults. Those who are disciplined and are able to use money wisely end up saving more. They also prepare better for their future. On the other hand, those who have not really thought about how to properly spend their money end up being broke. They also don’t have a stable job.

To begin, it is important to decide which state you should work in, and what kind of job to run after. Regardless of the amount that you are earning, you have to see to it that you are using it for the right purpose. You should also be careful not to spend whatever you earn for things you don’t necessarily need.

After graduating from college, your priority must be to pay off your student loans. It is important that you focus on this debt since it could be a burden for the rest of your life. You must also learn to determine what your priorities are. Never start a family unless you already have a stable job and you feel like you are finally ready to settle down.

Being a young professional isn’t easy, for several reasons. This is why you need to be extra careful with how you make use of your income and ensure you’re not wasting it. For more information on how to save money in the future, check the infographic below. Don’t let days go by without saving enough money for a brighter future.

12 Financial Tips For Independent Young Adults

This article was contributed by guest author Marina Robertson.

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Why you should start blogging in college and how to make it successful

Years ago, when blogging first started, blogs were just glorified journals, and the main goal wasn’t to make it a profession or make money. However, blogging has evolved to a completely new level over the years. Whether you chronicle your travels, report on the issues in your industry or share your latest fashion finds with the world, blogging can be a nice way to build your brand, or even just a line to add on your resume that can help you land a job.

But, when is the right time to start? Especially when starting university, it can be an amazing way to earn some extra cash, as well as improve your written communication, analysis and interpretation skills.

What can I do with blogging?
Running a blog gives you an amazing opportunity to help others by teaching them what you know or sharing your thoughts with the world. By helping others with your advice, you will gain a confidence boost, especially if you’ve just started college. You can pick a topic you want to be recognized as an expert in, and start doing your research! With consistency and effort, your knowledge will expand and it becomes an incredibly effective way for you to become credible and establish yourself as an expert. You can also learn a few more valuable things – blogging isn’t just about writing, it also includes content, layout, design, etc. Starting a blog is easy and doesn’t take much technical skill at all. However, if you’re dedicated, there is always room for improvement.

How do I start a blog?
While studying and working may be difficult and time-consuming, a great way to earn some money is with blogging. If you’re studying, that means there must be something you know a lot about. The best kind of blogs are the ones that reach out to people and teach them to explore new ideas. Here is a list of things you need to do if you want to start a blog:

  • Pick a topic
    Whether it be healthcare, travelling, food, or reviews – whatever topic that comes to mind that you can talk about day and night, that’s the subject for your blog. Be careful not to start a blog without a clear idea of what to write about, because you’ll bore yourself to death or run out of ideas quickly.
  • It’s not all about writing
    There’s some designing, too. You can add visual and artistic elements to your blog that will make it look more appealing and interesting to your readers. Photography, photocopied notes, artwork, sketches and mind maps are all good ways of presenting your thoughts without having to write long paragraphs of text.
  • Consistency
    If you want your blog to become successful, you have to be consistent. That means your content and style of writing should remain the same, as well as your publishing time. You can’t just write one post a month and expect people to read it over and over again. The more familiar and consistent your content is, the more likely will people return to your blog.

How do I make my blog popular?
Although there are many ways in which you can invest your time and effort into creating a good blog on a budget, you’ll have to consider investing in it as well, if you take blogging seriously. If this is something you really want to do, you should be prepared to treat it like your business and make financial investments in it.

The key to the success of your blog may also be search engine optimization – get to know this marketing strategy and try to understand how to be closer to your readers. Writing a blog also requires you to keep up with the trends: you can follow and read what SEO experts have to say on the matter, learn how to optimize your blog, how to use social networks in order to promote your content, and even cooperate with other more influential writers.

Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun while doing it. Blogging will never be honest if you’re doing it just because you want to make more money. After all, if you make it look like a “job” or a “chore”, you won’t enjoy it, and neither will your readers. Blogging can be great way to turn your hobby into an extra income to help you finance your degree!

This article was contributed by guest author Cate Palmer.

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How Can Students Protect Themselves Against Online Fraud?

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Cybercrime is on the increase, and we are all at risk. It is easy to assume that cyber criminals target the wealthy or the elderly, but statistics show that the most common targets are those on lower incomes and individuals who spend more time online. In other words, today’s American students are right at the top of the risk profile.

The effects of cybercrime are not restricted to financial loss, as serious as it is. Even if the fraudulent transactions are relatively minor, the consequences can have repercussions that run on for years, with an impact on your credit score that can affect your ability to get a loan or mortgage when you have completed your studies. Here are five tips relating to cybercrime that every student needs to know:

1) Heed the warnings

If you get a warning that your information has been breached, take it seriously. Research shows that one in five people who receive such warnings become fraud victims, compared to one in 20 of those who do not. This doesn’t mean clicking on links in emails; if you receive something suspicious, call your bank and ask if it’s a real threat.

2) Watch your accounts

The most popular way for fraudsters to get your details is by changing your address or adding another registered user to your account. Keep an eye on your account settings and look out for anything unusual.

3) Lack of money doesn’t mean you’re safe

Lower-income victims are actually hit harder than the wealthy. The average fraud victim is hit for $345. Among those on lower incomes, the average amount is $895. This actually means that students face a higher risk factor than wealthy workers.

4) Fraudsters love Facebook

With more than three quarters of Americans on social media, it should come as no surprise that these platforms provide rich pickings for criminals, too. Think about what information you share on your social media account. Where you grew up? The name of your pet? Your favorite high school teacher? Great, now anyone can answer your security questions for online banking.

5) Guard your bank account

Speaking of online banking, this is the most common type of non-card fraud. Watch your account closely and check the individual transactions. Fraudsters commonly go for multiple small amounts rather than one big hit, gradually bleeding their victims over time.

Vigilance is key

Online fraud is big business, but it is relatively easy to protect yourself by using common sense and vigilance. The greatest mistake is to think it won’t happen to you – it is exactly that attitude that the fraudsters depend on to make you a victim.

This article was contributed by Sally Writes.

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