Holiday Hacks For Traveling College Students



With the holiday season fast approaching, college students across the country are thinking about their trips home. Whether you choose to go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas -or both – if that trip means hopping on a plane, you’re looking at some big expenses.

Can a cash-strapped college student pay for airline flights during the most expensive traveling seasons of the year without going broke?

They sure can! Here’s how:

1.) Start saving now

If you’ve got a part-time job, start skimming a bit off each paycheck for holiday travel costs. You can also skip one pricey indulgence each week from now until the holidays. This small sacrifice will help you save up that extra cash for when it’s time to travel. Every little bit adds up!

2.) Use student discounts

Some airlines understand that you’re a broke college student wanting to spend time with family over the holidays. That’s why some, like American Airlines, offer discounts for students of specific colleges. You can also look for other student discounts on sites like studentuniverse.com and STAtravel.com.

3.) Be flexible

Don’t get fixed on flying out of a specific airport, at a certain time or on your chosen day of the week. You can shave dozens of dollars off your ticket prices by being flexible. Put things into perspective: What’s an extra fifteen-minute drive when it can save you $75? And, of course, you can always catch up on sleep you lose during a red-eye flight when you get home.

4.) Pack light

Airlines are tightening expenses all around, and these cuts are trickling down to customers in a big way. One area that’s come under attack is luggage. Many airlines are charging for each checked-in piece, while others will ask you to pay just to bring a carry-on on board.

Find out what your airline’s policy is before you start packing. If you’re going to need to pay for whatever you stow under the plane or bring aboard with you, pack as lightly as possible. Remember that you’re going home, not headed for the wilderness. Also, most airlines allow you to bring a backpack as your personal bag for the flight, free of charge. You can fit all of your essentials and travel necessities in there, but be careful of liquid restrictions!

5.) Don’t buy anything at the airport

Airport shops, like kiosks at malls, are outrageously overpriced. Window-shop if you’d like to pass the time, but bury your wallet deep in your backpack. It’s also smart to bring empty water bottles and fill them up at the airport so you’re not stuck paying $4.99 for a 16-oz bottle of Poland Spring.

6.) Find a seasonal job at home

If you still find yourself panicking over the money you’ll shell out for holiday travel, see if you can find a part-time job in your hometown. Many retailers are looking for help during this busy season, and if your break puts you in town for a few weeks, you may be able to land a position. The money you earn can help offset your travel costs.

Your Turn: How do you save money on your holiday trips home? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fatwallet.com/blog/a-college-students-guide-to-saving-money-for-holiday-travel/amp

https://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/the-10-things-you-should-do-over-holiday-break

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The Dos and Don’ts of Credit Repair

If you’ve recently been rejected from a credit application of any kind, you may be looking at a poor credit score for any number of reasons. You might have been late with your credit card payments, have an outstanding judgment against you or have even been frauded or victimized by identity theft.

Whatever the cause of the fall in your score, you’re probably looking for ways to get it back on track. Tread carefully! There are lots of dishonest opportunists looking to make a quick buck off your pressing need. Don’t become the next victim of a credit repair scam. In fact, there’s nothing a credit repair company can do for you that you can’t do yourself.

This probably has you wondering how to untangle the legitimate steps you should be taking now from the pointless and costly actions. Look no further! Our handy guide of credit repair dos and don’ts will help get you on the road to improving your credit score.

Do: Determine your actual credit score

If a recent credit application of yours has been denied, don’t take it at face value – find out why it happened. The three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – are each required to provide you with a complimentary copy of your credit report once a year, upon request. To order yours, visit annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228.

If you’ve already requested a report from each of the agencies in the last 12 months, you can still get one free of charge; you are entitled to a free report whenever a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment. To qualify, just request a report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action.

Do: Review your report and dispute any errors

Once you receive your report, review it for inaccuracies. If you spot any fraudulent purchases or erroneous information, you’ll need to dispute them in writing. In your letter, identify every item you are disputing and the reasoning behind your claim. Include copies of documents that support your stance and ask that the errors be removed or corrected. It’s best to send your letter by certified mail so you can ensure the credit reporting company actually received it if that is necessary. Also, keep a personal copy of your letter and all supporting documents for your own records.

You’ll also need to dispute the charge with your actual creditor, taking the same steps you did above.

Don’t: Expect any quick fixes

Anxious as you may be to improve your score, know that there is no “quick fix” for creditworthiness. Enhancing your score takes time, lots of hard work and creating and sticking to a realistic debt repayment plan.

If your credit score is poor, you may be bombarded with promotional material from credit repair companies that promise to increase your score by 100 points in less than a month. If you think these claims sound too good to be true, you’re absolutely right. There are some legitimate credit repair companies out there, but as mentioned, there’s nothing they can do for you that you can’t do on your own – and without paying their hefty fee.

Do: Take steps toward fixing your credit

If you’ve determined that your credit report is accurate, you’ll want to take a careful look at the habits that may be leading to your unfavorable score.

Are you timely with your credit card payments? If you’re consistently late, consider setting up an automatic bill-pay system so you never forget to make a payment. Are you making headway on your debt? If you’re paying your bills on time but your debt is not going anywhere, it’s time to rethink your spending habits. Don’t shop with credit cards; use only debit or cash. Look for ways to trim your expenses, like couponing wherever possible, planning dinner menus around sale items, and finding cost-free ways to relax instead of blowing money at a restaurant or on retail therapy.

Are your monthly bills unmanageable? If you can’t make it through the month and still meet all of your minimum payments, your debt may need an overhaul. Consider debt consolidation, in which your debt is transferred to one low-interest account, or a balance transfer to a card that has an interest-free period. Be aware, though, that lots of open credit is not considered favorable by creditors; close as many accounts as you open – but leave your oldest one open as it shows a longer period of credibility.

Also, no card is interest-free forever. When the introductory period ends, you may be hit with higher than usual interest rates. Alternatively, you can contact your creditors and work out a more reasonable payment plan.

If these options don’t sound feasible, try finding ways to increase your income instead, using all extra cash exclusively for paying down your debt.

Don’t: Expect to see any changes immediately

Don’t fret if you’ve made strides toward fixing your credit and haven’t yet seen an increase in your score. Creditors will only report to the credit reporting agencies on a periodic basis, usually once a month. It may take upward of 30 days or more for your account to be updated and your score to improve.

Do: Ask us for help

Here at UCCU, we’re all about helping you manage your finances. If you’re in financial trouble of any kind, we can help! Stop by today to ask about our credit counseling services and assistance with creating and sticking to a budget. We even offer debt consolidation loans, providing you with the opportunity to transfer your debt to one low-interest loan, making the prospect of paying down your debt a lot more manageable.

Your Turn: Have you drastically improved your credit score? What was your secret weapon? Share your success and best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
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Learning To Balance Academics And A Social Life

It’s the number one question that separates the super-achievers in college from the party animals: Are you here to earn good grades and learn valuable lifelong skills, or are you here for the active social scene?

If you fall somewhere between the two spectrums, you’re not alone. Most college students want to do well academically – but they also want to have fun!

Think you can’t have both? You can.

Here’s how:

1.) Choose your friends wisely

The people you hang out with are going to influence your study habits. During the getting-to-know-you stage, try to find students who share goals that are similar to yours. This way, you won’t be swayed to skip a study session for an all-night bash. Also, when you’re friends with your study partners, schoolwork can become a social activity!

2.) Eat well, sleep well and exercise

No, your mom isn’t here to remind you to eat breakfast and get to bed at a normal hour, but taking care of your physical needs is one of the best ways to facilitate academic success.

Want to skip the workout for yet another party? Why not bring the party to you? Invite a bunch of friends to work through a fitness DVD with you, organize a morning group jog or pair up with a friend for an afternoon run. You’ll be doing your body and your mind a favor.

3.) Designate study times

Since college means more free time than you had in high school, buckling down to work takes serious discipline. Instead of waiting until there’s nothing going on to do your work, review your schedule and designate specific times for studying, preparing for classes, research and writing your papers. You’ll be more likely to get that work done if you’ve decided when it’s going to happen ahead of time.

4.) Set aside time for social activities

All work and no play makes Jack the dullest student ever. Be serious about your schoolwork, but don’t forget to have fun, too. It’s OK to drop your workload for a spontaneous event or outing. Just make sure it doesn’t happen frequently.

5.) Shut off your phone when studying

You don’t need to be a social media junkie to know that smartphones are addictive. Even if you stuff your phone into a drawer while studying, the slightest beep or vibration will be enough to have you digging it out and checking for missed alerts or updates. To avoid the temptation, shut down your phone completely or leave it in another room (on silent mode) when you’re tackling your schoolwork.

6.) Join a club

The best way to find like-minded peers while in college is to join a club. You can find potential friends who think like you and know how to have a great time without draining an entire keg every night. You’ll get the balance you need for social interaction without letting it take over your college life.

Your Turn: How do you balance the college social scene without neglecting your schoolwork? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/000241/

http://www.mycollegesuccessstory.com/academic-success-tools/college-life-balance.html

http://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/student-life/articles/college-health-safety/how-balance-school-work-and-social-life-freshman-college/

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Can Frugal Living Make You Happier Than Lavish Living?

Do you believe money is the key to happiness?

Somewhere deep inside, we all know that money cannot buy happiness. Many people overspend and rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt to live a lifestyle they believe will make them happy, only to discover they are living beyond their means. This, in turn, adds stress and worry … causing unhappiness. Believe it or not, living frugally can actually make you happier than living lavishly.

Living a frugal lifestyle isn’t necessarily about pinching pennies and denying yourself things you want. It’s about making your life easier and worrying less about money.

If you’ve decided it’s time to start living more frugally, ask yourself why you want to do it and establish a goal. Without a reason to change your spending habits and a goal to work toward, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Maybe you’d like to retire early, or travel the world or buy your dream home. Maybe you’d like to work less and spend more time with your family. Whatever your reason, write it down. Place reminders of your goal where you’ll see them often.

Once you’ve started your new frugal lifestyle, you may be pleasantly surprised at your newfound happiness. Below are some benefits of living the frugal lifestyle that can lead to more happiness and better money management.

  • You’ll learn to appreciate what you have. You’ll become thankful for your resources and learn to make the most of them. Rather than throwing away old items, you learn to repurpose them and let little go to waste.
  • You’ll tend to choose experiences over objects. Rather than going to the mall and purchasing a new outfit or the newest video games, you’re more apt to go for hike, to the lake, or play board games with friends or family. These experiences provide memories and happiness that can last a lifetime. Conversely, that new outfit or video game will provide only temporary happiness.
  • You’ll start to notice your debt diminishing. The burden of debt often ties people to jobs and locations that they hate because they feel they have no other choice. Once your debt disappears, you’ll have the freedom to choose a profession and location that makes you happy.
  • You will have more leisure time. Once you’re able to pay down debt, you won’t need to work as many hours to make ends meet. This will give you more free time to spend on hobbies and other leisurely pursuits.
  • Living frugally may put you on the path to early retirement. Rather than spending your golden years working, you could be gardening, traveling, enjoying your grandchildren or any number of more pleasurable things. Being able to put more funds away for retirement will help you reach a financially comfortable level long before many of your colleagues.
  • You might find joy in helping others. By reducing your own expenses and saving money, you are able to give more to others and support social causes that are important to you.

Now, you may be thinking – the frugal lifestyle doesn’t sound all that bad, but how do I get started? The key is to start small. Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish, how much money you’ll need to achieve it, and formulate a plan. Figure out expenses you can live without. Instead of buying breakfast on-the-go at a drive-thru in the morning, cook your breakfast at home. Brown bag your lunch rather than eating out. Make a weekly meal plan and cook your meals at home. These items alone can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a month.

If you’re paying down multiple credit cards, look into consolidating them into one loan or to a single, lower-interest credit card. This can give you significant savings on interest charges. Check out UCCU’s low-rate credit card options and apply at www.uccu.com/visa. Once you’ve consolidated your credit card debt, keep your your oldest credit card, but use it infrequently and close all others. Keeping your oldest card open may positively impact your credit score. Leaving the others open, though, may lead to a temptation to use them again, thus defeating the purpose of paying them off.

Learn to stretch your money as far as you can. When purchasing groceries, clip coupons and look for sales. When purchasing clothes or other non-grocery items, check thrift stores, yard sales and clearance racks for the best possible deals.

Look for ways to lower your monthly bills. Are you paying a huge bill for cable TV? Could you live without it? Many people pay a large cable bill and only watch a handful of channels. Check to see if there is a cheaper package available. Is your electric bill higher than it should be? Try hanging your clothes outside to dry rather than using your clothes dryer whenever possible. Also, washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot will save your hot water heater from working as hard – and your clothes will still get cleaned. Another good habit to get into is unplugging electronic devices when you’re not using them.

Give frugal living a try! You have nothing to lose but debt and can gain some unexpected happiness along the way.

Your Turn: Does saving money make you happy? How do you save – and enjoy the process? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

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Finding The Perfect College Job

Whether you’re working to pay off your student loan, start saving for the future or just to have some extra cash in your pocket, finding the perfect college job that won’t get in the way of your studies can be challenging.

No worries, though; we’re here to help! We’ve compiled this handy guide that will help you go from hopeful to hired – at that perfect position.

Most of your likely college job options will fall into one of three categories:

1.) On-campus jobs

The obvious benefit to working on campus is having your workplace just steps away from your dorm. And there are lots of employment opportunities on campus.

It you’re a math whiz or a history buff, you can tutor struggling students. Hang up flyers announcing your services or advertise online. You may be able to tutor via Skype or Facetime.

You can also represent a brand by promoting its products and handing out free samples. This is a terrific option if you’re working towards a career in marketing, sales, or social media.

If you’d like to gain valuable experience while broadening your knowledge in a subject, you can conduct research on behalf of your professors. As a bonus, you’ll also earn a future recommendation for employment opportunities.

2.) Local jobs

If you need a little breather from college life, look into any number of local jobs. College towns are usually full of fast food joints, local restaurants, and malls. Check sites like Craigslist or KSL Jobs and look through the help-wanted ads to find openings.

These jobs are great if you like social interaction and a fast-paced environment. Even within this narrow category, you can still find a job that fits your specific skill set and interests.

For instance, if you’re a fashionista, consider working in a clothing boutique. If you’re looking for a career in the food industry, search for openings at local restaurants or catering businesses. Working the front desk at a local gym might be the perfect job for you if you’re into fitness. Whatever your personality, you can find something that fits.

3.) Online jobs

If you want to stay put but don’t want a job that involves class work, you might want to consider an online position. The sky’s the limit with today’s mobile workplace. You can write, edit or evaluate content for businesses. You can manage social media accounts. Find companies looking for blog posts on any number of topics by searching Squidoo, Hubpages, and About.com. Offer your services in a variety of categories on sites like Fiverr to build up your reputation – and your pay grade.

Before you get started on your hunt, hold up any job you’re considering to these questions: Is the pay worth the time and effort? Is the schedule compatible with your studies? Does it leave any room for a social life? Is the position in any way related to your field of choice? It’s best if your job of choice fits most, if not all, of these criteria.

It only takes a bit of planning to find the perfect college job!

Your Turn: Did you find the ideal college job? Share your choice with us in the comments!

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