Tag Archives | money

by Simon Cunningham on Flickr

by Simon Cunningham on Flickr

The majority of university students have forever dealt with student loans. Past students may still be trying to pay off their loans while current ones may feel swamped with the amount of money they will have to pay. Luckily, there are many resources online that have great information for students on how to deal with loans and get rid of them as quickly as possible. Here is a consolidated guide on student loans:

  1. Many experts recommend consolidating loans, and it is something that students should look into, especially if juggling multiple students loans. It combines them all into one loan that can be paid off through one payment per month rather than multiple. This is a huge benefit that can save you money through a plan that better fits your financial needs. Keep in mind that you may end up spending more money if you choose a longer payment schedule, and it may be required that you have a locked interest rate, based on your multiple loans.
  2. Interest rates play an important role in deciding whether to consolidate your loans. Federal loans are presented with fixed rates which establish how much you will be paying throughout your loan schedule. Private loans are subject to change depending on whether they are a variable or a fixed rate loan. Both have pros and cons, but again what is important is that you find a payment schedule that best fits your schedule.
  3. An example of a strategy that can be used when paying off student loans is to pick the shortest payment schedule that you can manage. The longer the payment schedule, the more money in interest you will end up paying, which in most cases will lead to paying off way more than you borrowed.
  4. Attempt to pay more than you need to each month as well. That little amount that you add on to your monthly payments will save you money in the long run and get that loan paid off more quickly. Prioritize the most expensive loan too if you haven’t consolidated your loans, because again, you will save money and time due to the higher interest rates on that loan. Contrarily, you can prioritize your smallest loan to pay it off as quickly as possible. This will save you the most time in the long run because of how long the small interest rate schedule is.
  5. Look for student discount and loan forgiveness options if need be. Those small breaks will help you even if the discounts are very minimal. Loan forgiveness should only be used as a last resort option as it does come with some important clauses.

Student loans remain extremely common with the university population today, and will certainly be an important factor for students in the future. Consolidating federal loans is an option that can help students manage their finances while not impacting their financial situation due to locked interest rates. Private lenders can either save or cost you more money depending on the rates you choose. At the end of the day, pick the schedule and tips that fit your needs and will benefit you the most, in the area you wish to benefit the most. Just remember to always read the fine print.

Find out more about Loans and Consolidation from The Simple Dollar.

Image by Newton Free Library, Flickr

Image by Newton Free Library, Flickr

Jennifer Fonda* is currently pursuing her MS in computer science from Oxford University in the UK, which is deemed to be one of the most expensive universities in the world. Even though she comes from a middle class family, she made it to one of the most expensive colleges in the world without having to worry. She says,

For me it really was not hard to come up with the required admission fee. I had already saved quite a lot during my undergrad. My parents inculcated the habit of saving every penny I could since a young age. It really helped me pay off my tuition fee.

Being short on funds is the permanent state of every college student. But if you have bigger dreams in mind and want to go study outside of the US to gain global exposure, you need to start planning early. Jennifer knew her parents would not be able to afford the expenses of living abroad, but that didn’t deter her from pursuing her dream. If you want to study abroad, you have two options: either give up or go through the hard work of earning and saving money. It is up to you which one will you choose.

Planning throughout the four years of your undergraduate course will help you save money during grad school. Here are a few points which will not only help you save money but also guide you on making some:

Manage your money

  1. Set a monthly budget – This doesn’t have to be a difficult task. An Excel spreadsheet will be enough. You need to keep track of your monthly expenses and stop any unnecessary spending habits. List your fixed expenses like transportation costs, food etc, and keep money aside for these. Put aside some for saving, and the remaining balance can be used for unplanned expenses like shopping or gifting.
  2. Plan your expenses – Has buying expensive things left you cashless? Simple math and bit of planning can help you avoid this situation. Cut down your expenses by a certain amount for a couple of months and save the leftover money. Planning ahead is the easy way to avoid bankruptcy. Keep your eyes open for clearance sales at big-box stores – you may find some great deals there.
  3. Save money for emergencies – For students without a regular source of income, it is mandatory to have a fund for emergency situations. Rather than borrowing from friends or family, save money yourself by making small adjustments like skipping a movie or a trip to help you prepare for an unexpected crisis.
  4. Open a savings account – Rather than going for a regular bank account, go for an account specifically designed for students. Student savings accounts have other benefits apart from zero-balance facility which make them better than any other no-frills account.
  5. Avoid misusing credit cards – As mentioned above, if you open bank account for students you may get a credit card with low interest rates – but you want to avoid paying interest as much as possible, so if you are going to use a credit card, make sure you can pay off your bills on time and in full every time.
  6. Choose prepaid plans for your phone – Choose prepaid plans instead of pay-as-you-go for your phone will help you avoid surprises at the end of the month.

Increase your savings

  1. Be patient – If you want to buy a new iPhone, wait for a few months – gadgets’ prices fall as soon as there is a successor of the same model in the market. Postponing your purchase for some time can get you a reduced price.
  2. Watch for online discounts – If you are shopping or booking shows online, Google discount coupons, codes, or deals. Discount sites are the new money-saving method, as you can easily get a discount of 20% or free shipping with using a coupon code. You can get good bargains at restaurants, movie tickets, clothes, gym memberships, etc. Get an Amazon Prime account to get the best deals and discounts.
  3. Make shopping lists – A good way to control impulsive shopping is to make lists before going to the market. Though the market is filled with options, stick to your requirements, and you will save more money at the end of each month. Or use the wish list option many websites offer while shopping online.
  4. Save, save, save – Buying course books often leaves your pockets empty. Instead of buying, borrow them from a library or purchase them at a second hand bookstore. Once you graduate, the secondhand books can be re-sold and the money can be put towards your savings.
  5. Try getting cheaper accommodations – As a college student, you can save a lot of money on lodging. Rather than living in a studio apartment near college, try getting a shared apartment in the suburbs. It could cut your rent money in half. Or try sharing your apartment with 3-4 roommates, which further reduces your share load.
  6. If you’re in the city, don’t rent a car – Big cities like Toronto or New York have a good public transportation system in place, so you can save a lot of cash by not buying or renting a car to move around the city. Invest in a train pass or student pass to save more on travelling.

Earn some money

  1. Turn hobbies into careers – If you love to bake, or are great at painting, you can always turn this passion into earning. Form your own music band or start a blog or vlog. If you have talent, you can make it a career even before you finish college.
  2. Work part-time – Get a part-time job to earn some pocket money. Many jobs have a constant demand for interns. Remember, at this stage no job is small or big; you need to do what is required without feeling embarrassed of your job. Many job search engines are specifically designed for college students, and can help you look for temporary jobs. You can also talk to your college placement cell and consider the options available in your city.
  3. Participate in college activities – Be part of cultural societies and participate in competitions which offer cash prizes. Find out about scholarships offered by your college. If you are eligible to apply, do so! If your professors are involved in some research work, ask them if they need some assistance. You may get a stipend for doing so.

This article was contributed by guest author Harleen.

Image by Tax Credits, Flickr

Image by Tax Credits, Flickr

Courtesy of the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), the following provides a quick overview of student banking in Canada. Whether you are an international student or you have had an account for quite some time, it gives you information on how your bank can be a good partner during your post secondary school life: Download the Banking for Students PDF.

Choosing a bank can be an overwhelming experience – almost as stressful as choosing which car to purchase or which school to attend. All banks offer similar features, but when it comes to students, you’ll see different perks and benefits. The following table outlines the big Canadian Financial Institutions and their fee structures and benefits to students. A few of the banks offer Advice Centres for students, which can be helpful when it comes to budgeting and ultimately paying for school. Other banks offer perks such as points for Scene cards, Student Price Cards (SPC) and Air Miles.

We hope the following table allows you to narrow down your selection on the bank that will best meets your current and future needs!

NameMonthly Fee/Min Balance to Avoid Fees# Transactions per MonthATM NetworkExtrasAssociated Credit CardOtherAdvice Centre
Bank of Montreal Student BankingNone30Bank of Montreal2 free Interac email money transfers per month, earn AIR MILES reward miles on debit purchasesNo-fee BMO SPC MasterCard with built-in SPC Card benefitsBMO Student Budget Calculator; BMO MoneyLogic
CIBC Everyday Chequing Account (Advantage for Students)NoneUnlimitedCIBCNoneCIBC Classic Visa CardCIBC Professional Edge Student Program – borrow up to $270,000 towards studiesCIBC Advice Centre
Royal Bank Student BankingNone25RBCNoneSignature RBC Rewards, RBC Visa Cash Back, WestJest RBC MasterCard; save up to $39 a year off annual feeAccess to myFinanceTracker, online financial management tool
Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage PlanNoneUnlimitedScotiabankFree usage of Scotiabank’s Global ATM AllianceLEARN VISA card, SCENE VISA cardSCENE movie rewards earned when using debit card; Special Grad Auto Loan programs available
TD Canada Trust Every Day Chequing Account with Student DiscountNone25TD Canada TrustNoneTD Classic Travel VISA Card (annual fee waived for year 1)Eligible customers get free access to concert discounts, exclusive contestsTD Student Life
HSBC Performance Chequing – Student$3.97 / $2,00040HSBC, The Exchange, BMONoneNo student specific card
Laurentian Bank Student AdvantageNone15Laurentian BankNoneVISA Black Card, VISA Black Reward Me Card
PC Financial No Fee Bank Account (not student specific)NoneUnlimitedCIBCEarn PC points towards free groceriesNo student specific card

Image by Philip Taylor, Flickr

Image by Philip Taylor, Flickr

Scholarships are awards that can assist you in paying for your tuition fees and your textbooks. Scholarships can give you a sense of accomplishment for being handpicked for an award, and they also look excellent on a resume. However, many students don’t apply for scholarships because they don’t think they have the time, or because they don’t believe that they will win. Here is the truth about three popular scholarship myths:

Scholarships are only for students with high grades.
Although it is true that some scholarships require high grades or a high academic average for students to qualify, there are many scholarships that don’t have anything to do with grades. Many reward you for your creativity, volunteering commitments, or essay writing. The Stuck at Prom Scholarship requires you and your prom date to create your prom outfits entirely out of duct tape. A pair of students will win a $10,000 scholarship and $5,000 for their school. The Scotiabank National Scholarship requires you to answer the essay question, “In 150 words or less, tell us how you will fund your future.” 12 scholarships worth $2,500 each will be given away.

Scholarships are impossible to win.
In some cases, it may be true that hundreds of students apply for the same scholarships, and they are often competitive when a high profile award is offered. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from applying for them. There is a simple golden rule when it comes to scholarships: If you don’t apply for them, you can’t win them. Without any risk, there won’t be any reward. Take a chance! You never know what might happen.

Scholarships are only for graduating grade 12 students, university, and college students.
There are many scholarships up for grabs if you have just enrolled in high school. The Easy Money Scholarship only requires you to be at least 13 years old, enrolled in a Canadian high school, university, or college, and be a member of the StudentAwards website. As there are many scholarships that can be applied for early on in high school, it will give you a lot of time to search, plan, and apply.

These scholarship myths often discourage students from applying for scholarships. Don’t let yourself be one of those students – there are thousands of scholarships to apply for and many of them are neglected. Happy scholarship hunting!

Image by CollegeDegrees360, Flickr

Image by CollegeDegrees360, Flickr

Having trouble paying your tuition? Don’t have time for a job? Good news: there are many scholarships, bursaries, grants and awards that can cover the costs of schooling for you. They are offered by a number of institutions, such as the federal and provincial government, private industry and service organizations, and post-secondary schools. The great thing about grants, bursaries, awards and scholarships is they don’t need to be repaid.

Scholarships

Scholarships are usually awarded based on academic standing or other achievements, including leadership, athletic ability and community service. They can range from $500 to a generous $23,000. There are five kinds of scholarships:

  • Admission (or entrance) scholarships: Awarded upon enrolling in a post-secondary institution.
  • Renewable scholarships: Can be applied to financial debt yearly, if one maintains good grades.
  • National scholarships: Available to students all over the country.
  • In-course scholarships: Given after an applicant’s first year of college or university.
  • External scholarships: Encompasses scholarships that are granted by organizations other than a school. One should ensure his or her school is approved by the corporation before applying for an external scholarship.

Grants

Grants are bestowed according to grades, financial need and academic research projects. One perk about grants is they are offered to as many people who meet the criteria.

Bursaries

Bursaries are presented depending on one’s financial needs. Bursaries tend to be granted to be used in conjunction with other sources of funding, such as student loans, family support and individual earnings.

Awards

Awards are given based on academic merit or accomplishments. They are usually small sums of money that can be applied to one’s tuition or book costs.

Links

The following are links to websites where you can apply for scholarships, grants, bursaries and awards:


Remember you can find out about scholarships, bursaries, grants and awards through your post-secondary school, high school counsellor or online. Employers are an alternative source to check; many organizations offer students financial aid, so it’s a good idea to ask if they provide this service.

Going to school doesn’t have to be a financial struggle. There’s financial aid all around; you just have to look for it. There’s no reason to panic about your finances while going to school.

Image by Tax Credit, Flickr

Image by Tax Credit, Flickr

Let me start with a disclaimer: choosing a degree based solely on expected earnings is usually not the best way to plan your future. When debating which career path to take, the opportunities your degree could provide should certainly factor into your decision, but they should not necessarily define it. Choose your field of study because you enjoy it, not because it will make you lots of money. Jim Rohn, a popular business philosopher, sums it up well: money is usually attracted, not pursued.

With that said, let’s get going. The list below may look a little different from ones you’ve seen before, so if you have a passion for any of these 10 fields, congratulations – there is potential for you to make some great money:

  1. Economics
  2. Highest Paid Position: Economic Analyst (Government). Median Salary: $100,277
    Economics is a rapidly growing and evolving field of study. Learn the intricacies of hyperbolic discounting, inputs and outputs and absolute or comparative advantage and you’re well on your way to raking in the big bucks. Or I should say you’ll have “absolute advantage over competitors in a balanced playing field based on your opportunity cost.”

  3. BSc Engineering – Petroleum, Chemical, Electrical, Civil etc.
  4. Highest Paid Positions:
    Utilities Manager. Median Salary: $100,006
    Petroleum Engineer. Median Salary: $93,517
    Engineering Manager. Median Salary: $87,131
    Software Engineer. Median Salary: $79,997
    Chemical Engineer. Median Salary: $78,000

    As you can see, engineering degrees offer excellent diversity – and salaries – in the job market. Engineering degrees focus on math, science, physics and engineering principles.

  5. Political Science, Communication, Public Administration or Business Administration
  6. Highest Paid Position: Senior Government Manager. Median Salary: $95,992
    Liberal Arts degrees offer the flexibility to work in several fields. The stereotype that government employees actually do very little work is untrue – you can expect to work long hours and be a sounding board for angry citizens. Remember that this is a position you’ll need to work your way up to, but obtaining one of the above degrees is a great place to start.

  7. Pharmacy
  8. Highest Paid Position: Pharmacist. Median Salary: $95,680
    Here you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a medical graduate school, where you can expect to spend four years refining your chemistry and drug techniques. Your future job will require a lot of responsibility understanding and handling medications.

  9. Education Administration
  10. Highest Paid Position: School Principal and Administrator. Median Salary: $90,002
    Education administrators facilitate the effective running of institutions, and are an important tool in the education domain. To enter this field you’ll typically need an honours degree in business studies, education, English or social sciences. The majority of education administrators also have a teaching background, so work that into the equation as well.

  11. Geology
  12. Highest Paid Positions: Geologist, Geochemist & Geophysicist. Median Salary: $89,440
    Geology is the study of rocks. More complicated than deciding whether they’re flat enough to skip across the lake, it can be an interesting and diverse career path. Emphasis in geology degrees is often placed on math, science and writing. You may be required to do some outdoor in-field work in order to obtain your degree.

  13. PhD in any field
  14. Highest Paid Position: University Professor. Median Salary: $81,994
    Want to torment students with homework and assignments just like your professors do? They worked hard to get there, and so can you. The road to nourishing and moulding young minds is an academically long one, as almost all post-secondary institutions require their professors to have a PhD in their field of study. Degree to PhD can often take 12+ years.

  15. Law, Finance or Human Resource Management
  16. Highest Paid Positions: Lawyer, Financial Administrator, Human Resource Manager. Median Salary: $79,997
    Law commonly finds itself near the top of the salary pile. Working towards your J.D. requires another three years at a (potentially costly) law school. Applicants to law school should have a BA or equivalent. Financial Administrators oversee the fiscal activities of a business or government. Students often go on to pursue a master’s degree in finance for this role. Human Resource Managers plan and manage labour within a business in order to maximize value. Again, some students continue their education and earn an MBA with a focus on human resource management.

  17. Bachelor of Business in Real Estate
  18. Highest Paid Position: Real Estate and Financial Manager. Median Salary: $79,872
    Although a degree is not required to enter this field, it is preferable in order to remain competitive. Expect to start your career as a sales person in a brokerage firm. After extensive training and testing, you would then be eligible to move into estate brokerage. Selling houses to the rich and famous is just a stone’s throw away!

  19. Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  20. Highest Paid Position: Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologist. Median Salary: $77,813
    Audiologists and speech pathologists help to identify, evaluate and manage hearing, language, speech or cognitive disorders. They run tests and develop action plans to improve or rehabilitate speaking and hearing disorders. Generally a Masters of Health Science degree, you’ll be required to complete a four year bachelor’s degree first.

Remember, when choosing your degree, don’t only look at the projected salary. Also check what jobs are in demand in your area, and always choose something you’ll enjoy! The more you enjoy it, the harder you’ll work, and the higher salary potential you’ll have.

Source: Canadian Business

Image by photosteve101 on Flickr

Image by photosteve101 on Flickr

With tuition, transportation and housing costs increasing each year, now, more than ever, is budgeting important. The Canadian Federation of Students estimates that a recent graduate can expect to be $27,000 in debt after graduating. Whether you’re in first or fourth year, it never hurts to be smart with your money. These skills will be extremely important in the future. Here is a template to help get you started on a more financially sound future:

Step 1: Calculate Your Income

Amount

Scholarship/Bursaries
Salary/Wages
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
Student Loans
Family Contributions
Gifts
Other
Total yearly income

Step 2: Calculate Your Expenses

Education 

Amount per year

Tuition
School Fees Not Included in Tuition (i.e. athletics, library, counselling)
Textbooks and Course Materials
Other Educational Expenses (i.e. supplies, associated course fees)
Housing 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Rent/Mortgage
Other Housing Costs (i.e. property taxes, property insurance, maintenance costs, condo fees)
Utilities (hydro, gas, electricity)
Telephone/Cellphone
Cable
Internet
Food 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Groceries
Meal Plan
Transportation 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Public Transit
Parking
Gas
Car Payments
Insurance
Licence/Registration
Service/Repairs
Lifestyle 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Shopping (i.e. laptop, clothes, gifts)
Entertainment
Travel
Other (i.e. grooming, dry cleaning)
Health

Amount per month

Amount per year

Health/Dental Insurance (if not already covered by parents or included in tuition)
Uninsured health services (i.e. prescriptions, medical/dental procedures)
Loans

Amount per month

Amount per year

Private loan monthly interest  payment
Total yearly expense

Step 3: Calculate Difference

Total yearly income – Total yearly expenses = Cash Flow

If you have a positive number: Congratulations! You’re off to a great start to a debt-free future. However, be careful if a lot of your income comes from loans. You will have to pay these off after graduation, so try to keep how much you borrow to a minimum.

If you have a negative number: Don’t worry. This happens to everybody! Find ways to cut spending on unnecessary expenses. Look for cheap alternatives on everyday expenses to save money. Browse students.org for articles on how to find scholarships, how to entertain yourself on a budget and many more money saving tips.

Download our Student Budget Calculator so you can keep it on hand to fill out!

Also, be sure to check out other templates online such as the ones made by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada or RBC that helped inspire this one. Good luck!

Image by Poppy Thomas-Hill, Wikimedia

Image by Poppy Thomas-Hill, Wikimedia

Not every student wants to break open their piggy bank and use their hard-earned pennies to pay for school. Naturally, the ideal situation is to get someone else to pay for you. Lo and behold, these genius inventions called scholarships, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, may not fully fund your entire post-secondary career, but will definitely help. Typically when students look for scholarships, they seek out a guidance counsellor, search their post-secondary school’s website, or scour the Internet. But don’t stop there! Here are a few unconventional ways you can scrounge up a little extra cash to soften the proverbial baseball bat to the head, also known as tuition:

  • Your part-time job: It may not have been mentioned in the job interview, but several companies offer their employees scholarships. Burger King, Walmart, and Home Depot are just a few companies that offer this amazing opportunity. Ask your boss or look up your company online to see what they offer, and how to apply.
  • Your parents’ jobs: Some companies offer scholarships to the children of their employees. Get your parents to ask their bosses or HR department for more information.
  • Unions: As a worker, unions protect your rights. As a student, they save you money. Unions are goldmines for industry-specific scholarships. For example, the Ontario Nurses’ Association offers scholarships to the immediate family of ONA members studying nursing, and the Canadian Dance Teachers Association offers scholarships to dance students who know a CDTA member. Search your parents’ or teachers’ unions – you never know what they have to offer.
  • Your future workplace: Look through the website of a company or organization you want to work for, and those of their competitors as well. If you receive a scholarship, it will get you noticed by the company and will look great for future internship and job prospects.
  • Extracurricular activities: Playing varsity tennis or being president of the art club is not only rewarding in experience, it can also be rewarding to your pockets. A number of scholarships require applicants to have some sort of athletic, artistic or leadership involvement, so if you’re already into extracurriculars, you’re on your way. Talk to your coach or teacher supervisor and they can help refer you to scholarship opportunities. Research any organizations you’re part of outside of school such as Scouts Canada or the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada for more opportunities.

Most of these scholarships are very exclusive, allowing only members of a specific organization to apply, but the internet is full of surprises. You never know what you’ll find!

 

Image by Ezu, Flickr

Image by Ezu, Flickr

Having fun isn’t as simple as it used to be. With tuition, textbooks and rent, the typical university student is strapped for cash. This can make it very difficult to afford decent entertainment. Here are some ways to prevent the boredom, while saving some money:

  • Support your school. From cheering on your school’s football team at a home game or attending a school play, there is a lot of things for you to do in and around your campus. Most of these school events are free while others usually cost less than $10. Check out posters around your campus for upcoming events.
  • Discover free events around your city. Free events pop up all the time around every city. Be sure to experience your city’s festivals and parades. Bookstores and coffee shops often have free book/poetry readings and live music. Check out your city’s website or local newspaper for a whole list of upcoming events.
  • Cash in on local deals. On Tuesdays, you can watch a movie at a theater for half the price. Also, some museums and art galleries let you in for free or at a discounted rate during specific times. Getting rush tickets are great for impromptu nights out with friends.
  • Take advantage of free public spaces. Spend the day having a picnic in the park or hike through the woods. During winter, your nearby pond or fountain is probably going to be turned into a free ice skating rink. Instead of paying for movies, visit the library and borrow from their collection. Some cities even have free movie nights in the park.
  • Use coupons and discount cards. Being a student gives you access to a lot of deals. Get in touch with your school’s student union and see what fun deals they have to offer. Don’t forget to look through websites like Groupon for some great local deals. Sometimes you can find laser tag and bowling games or even tickets to your favourite artist’s concert for insanely cheap prices.

Image by CollegeDegrees360, Flickr

Image by CollegeDegrees360, Flickr

Congratulations on finding your laptop for school! Now, it’s time for you to buy it. Here are some helpful tips on buying your laptop, without breaking the bank:

  • Take advantage of student pricing and back-to-school deals. Apple offers student discounts and a $100 app store gift card. Microsoft, HP and Dell gave out Xbox 360s with the purchase of a laptop over $699 during back-to-school season last year. Keep an eye on what deals they have this year. Computer stores always have some great deals around July and August.
  • Price match. Look through store websites and flyers for a really cheap price for your laptop. If you can find one, stores like Best Buy and Future Shop will match the price and give you an extra 10% discount.
  • Bargain. It never hurts to ask a salesperson for a better deal. If they can’t change the price, they might be able to throw in some free warranty or accessories instead.
  • Consider refurbished. Refurbished laptops are a great deal, but be careful. See if you can try it out before buying it and know the return policy in case it doesn’t work out.
  • The Internet is your friend. Some people have been very lucky, finding amazing deals on sites like Ebay, Craigslist and Kijiji.

Before you buy, make absolutely sure the laptop is for you. Go to a store and try it out. Pick it up, try typing a few sentences and press all the buttons to get a good feel for the device. And, make sure you like how it looks. This is going to be your ultimate productivity machine for the next few years, so make sure it’s right for you. Good luck!