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Investing

How Can a College Student Invest? Easy Tips

In my opinion college students are the best investors. They are constantly learning and not afraid to make mistakes. As you get a college education, you should be getting an education in building wealth. You don’t need tons of capital to start your investing journey: you just have to know how to do it.

This article will focus on the most popular option for college investors: online investing. If you are wondering how can a college student invest here are some tips to get you started.
If you want to get started investing the process is so much easier than you think. Great guide for beginners!

How Can a College Student Invest Starting with Stocks?

When you first start investing you will most likely want to start with stocks. The reason most first time investors start with stocks is that they are easy to relate to and they are widely discussed. You can start up a conversation about stocks with almost anyone and they should be able to voice at least an opinion. While some believe that there are certain best stocks for college students, I believe a general education on how to invest is important.

Establishing Your Online Investment Portfolio

According to financial experts, college investors have a significant advantage over other types of investors. They have time – lots of it. Considering the amazing powers of compound interest (i.e. a type of interest that earns additional interest), we can say that time IS money.

Experienced investors state that even a small amount of money, if invested properly, can reap huge profits in the future. That means you really have to think about building your personal investment portfolio while you are still in college.

Here are the things you have to do to jumpstart your career as an investor:

  1. If you are beginning with small capital (e.g. $25 to $50), find a broker that will accept the small account. Then, you can increase your overall capital by investing more money on a regular basis.
  1. You should calculate the total amount of money you are willing to risk. As a college investor, you have to keep in mind that investment always involves risk. Your personality and available funds are two of the most important factors that determine your “risk tolerance.”
  1. If you like to take risks, the possibility of earning large profits probably outweighs your fears of losing money. If you are risk-averse, on the other hand, you have to perform serious calculations regarding the exact amount that you are willing to risk.
  1. There are savings vehicles that guarantee profits and offer minimal risks. Here are some examples: certificate of deposits, federal savings bonds, student savings accounts approved by the FDIC, etc. Yep, I’m talking about saving accounts, CDs and other bank saving products. In general, these financial instruments provide the best protection against risks. However, they also involve the lowest potential for getting large profits. If you will invest in these instruments, your earning potential will be severely limited.
  1. If you can shoulder more risk and invest your money for a longer time period, you may try investing your capital in mutual funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs). These funds are composed of various securities such as bonds, stocks and commodities. Mutual fund corporations collect and manage the money of other people for investment purposes. Since these corporations employ financial experts, lots of college investors opt to put their money in mutual funds or ETFs.
  1. Prior to investing your hard-earned money in these mutual funds, you have to perform your own background research. Some mutual fund companies focus on particular industries (e.g. pharmaceutical, telecommunications, banking, etc.) while others use diversified portfolios (i.e. they make investments in different industries). You should research about the past performance of the company you will be investing on and the industries they work with. Remember: The past performance can in no way guarantee future results.

How Can a College Student Invest in Stocks?

As a college investor, once you become familiar with how the financial market works, you can start to invest in individual bonds or stocks. You can do this through the help of online brokerage firms. Individual investments, as the name implies, require the investor to personally manage all of the securities that he/she owns.

This might sound a bit scary.

However, there are lots of tools that you can use to simplify your investment decisions.

Almost all online brokerage firms provide their clients with reliable tools to monitor their investments. These days, lots of investment companies offer free accounts and minimal balance requirements. That means you can start your personal investment portfolio today.

You may think that investing is difficult or that it is hard to get started. That is not the case. Beginning your investing journey is as easy as opening an investing account. I used to have a few accounts with different brokers because I liked them for different reasons. Now I just have a few ETFs and stocks.

For example, I can buy stocks with an Ally Invest account. But I also like them because I can invest automatically without choosing stocks; you can open an account here with no minimum.

Lesson 1: What is a Stock?

A stock or a share, is an ownership interest in a business. A publicly traded business will use stocks, also called equity, to raise capital. As a stockholder, you own a piece of a business. You have the right to vote on certain changes, and you should be involved in the process. Figuring out what stocks to choose is the tough part. I remember when I made my first investments. I bought stocks based on what reporters were discussing on tv. And I lost horribly. After a few years, I learned how to research stocks and invest with the markets, not against them. I was a college student investing with extra cash and I enjoyed the process.

Lesson 2: How to REALLY Trade Stocks

Once you’ve placed a few trades and are confident in your abilities, it’s time to put some muscle behind your trades. You can beat the stock market if you make the choice to research your trades and take the time to follow the markets carefully.

Lesson 2b: Technical Analysis vs. Fundamental Analysis

This is where you have to do your homework and it’s really not that hard. Fundamental analysis is looking at the story behind the price changes whereas technical analysis is looking at the previous price changes to determine a future.

4 Tips for College Students Who Want to Invest

The following tips are recommended by financial experts. You should consider these before or while investing your money in the markets.

  1. Learn as much as you can – You can acquire investing knowledge and techniques just by reading reliable investing books and articles. The pieces of information you can gain from these resources can help you become a successful investor.
  2. Eliminate high interest debts – Debts (especially those with high interest rates) should be paid off first before making any investment. Risking your money in investments while having high interest loans can greatly worsen your financial condition.
  3. Select a brokerage firm – If you really want to make investments, you have to create a brokerage account. You have two options here: online firms and traditional firms. Online brokerage firms offer easy and computerized investment systems. However, traditional firms may provide personal advice and services.
  4. Diversify your portfolio – Investing all of your funds in a single company can result in financial disaster. Consider putting your money in various industries and investment vehicles. This strategy is called “portfolio diversification.” Even if you think an investment is a “sure thing” never put all of your eggs in one basket. A diversified portfolio is recommended.

6 Fears That Prevent You From Investing

It’s hopefully no secret that investing is the way to build wealth. Stock piling your money in a savings account won’t help you become a millionaire, or even help you achieve your financial goals. Unfortunately, there are a lot of concerns and excuses that young professionals like to throw around that keep them from investing. I hope to dispel a couple of them in this post and to help motivate you to look at investing!

1) Investing is for rich people.

How do you think most of those people got rich? Not by sitting around and working their 9-5 job! It only takes a little bit of money to get into investing, and anyone can start trading stocks online!

2) I just don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile.

It’s the principle of the matter; if you can learn to make a little bit of money, you can learn to make a lot of money!

3) I just don’t have time.

Let’s face it; what young professional does? The fact is, if you don’t purposefully make time for your finances, they’ll easily slip out of control for you. It actually doesn’t take all that much time to research and invest your money, plus there are now more and more affordable services online (Ally Invest, Learnvest) for you to pay a nominal fee to have your money invested.

4) There are too many options out there to invest in.

Well, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Try picking one good mutual fund or an index fund. This is a quick way to diversify your money and lessens the risk of just picking one stock.

5) I’m afraid I’ll lose my money.

That’s a fair point. Firstly, never put more money in than you could see decline. You should always keep an emergency fund as well as a nice pile of cash in the bank before you start investing. Secondly; no risk, no reward. You have to be willing to take a risk with your money in order to get the reward of actually making money. Thirdly; start small and safe with your investing. Don’t go investing in high tech companies that you don’t even understand their business model. Although you won’t ever eliminate the risk, you can certainly learn to mitigate it.

6) I already have a retirement fund, why should I invest more money?

Firstly, good for you for having a retirement fund! Take a look at your savings account right now, how much interest is it paying? I’d be surprised if you said more than 1%. Inflation in 2013 here in the US was 1.5% last year. That means that your money essentially lost some of its value just sitting in the bank.

Although you shouldn’t go out and invest all of your money in the market, investing more than $0 would be a good start.

By investing early, you’ll hopefully be able to enjoy years of compounding interest and will see you total net worth grow!

How did you start investing?

Originally posted 2019-04-20 08:00:27.

Categories
Investing

Review of Betterment How to Invest the Easy Way

This post includes links to Betterment, a trusted partner. If you choose to open an account, we receive compensation as an affiliate. View our full disclosures here.

Let’s face it, most people are lazy… including me and possibly you.

Yeah, we work at what is interesting to us, but otherwise, we’d rather keep things simple.

Here at Young Finances I’ve been trying to teach how to research stocks, build a portfolio and invest for retirement, but some people just hate finance.

And many Americans invest too little.

An Easy Way to Invest

Fortunately, I recently stumbled across a simple way to invest.

It’s called Betterment.com. Betterment.com was founded in 2008 as a simpler, smarter, safer way to invest.

The CEO and Founder John Stein said “I created Betterment because after years working in financial services I was amazed that no one made saving and investing money as simple as it ought to be.”.

How Does Betterment.com Work?

When you open an account at Betterment.com, you can deposit or set up recurring deposits from a checking or savings account.

Then the folks at Betterment will invest on your behalf into ETFs based on your portfolio allocation. Portfolio allocation just means where you want your money to go.

There are two options, stocks and bonds.

You don’t have to do any research or constant monitoring of your portfolio. They manage everything for you.

The only thing you have to do is decide whether you want a low risk portfolio or high return.

What Does it Cost?

I think this is my favorite feature of Betterment.

There are no hidden costs, fees, or minimum balances.

They simply charge a small percentage of funds under management. If you are familiar with hedge funds, you know that they may charge 2% and 20% fees for funds under management and performance.

Betterment.com charges anywhere from 0.25% to 0.40% based on how much you have deposited.

This fee covers everything. At most that’s 40 cents a year for every 100 dollars deposited and there is no minimum balance for a trading account.

Trading in a traditional brokerage account, even if you only made one trade a year, would cost you at least 5 bucks.

Is it Safe?

Betterment LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor with the SEC.

They have to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and maintain fair dealings within the rules of the SEC.

Remember that it is an investment account not a savings account so your funds are not protected by FDIC insurance.

However, your investments are protected with SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) just like with any broker-dealer.

And Betterment.com has a systems and security team that works around the clock to protect your account from fraud or malicious activity. If you already have an account that you actively trade stocks in, then this is a great way for you to supercharge your long-term savings.

A good way to use this account is to set up automatic transfers each month.

Making investing automatic and inexpensive will allow you to keep more money in your pocket.

You could use Betterment for a travel fund. The same money that you would likely have sitting in a savings account earning a risk-free rate of pennies a day, could instead automatically invest.

I am no stranger to risk, so I would prefer have the opportunity to earn more for my money. But everyone is different, so choose what works best for you.

Remember that you can withdraw funds at anytime without fees, so it will give you flexibility as well.

Have you tried Betterment.com yet? Click here to open an account today!


Review of Betterment Easy Investing Account

5
LaTisha Styles
September 2018
“Easy way for young adults to invest in 5 minutes…”
“The Betterment brokerage account is an easy way to immediately build a diverse portfolio. Young adults can open an account in 5 minutes.”

Originally posted 2019-04-14 06:00:59.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

How to Fix Bad Credit?

Wondering how to fix my credit myself? Or how to fix bad credit? There’s no doubt that living in the modern world requires credit. Yes, you can live without a credit card and survive on cash or cashback debit cards.

I know because I did it for over two years as I paid off credit card debt. But what I really wanted to do was improve my credit score immediately.

However, when you are ready to buy a house, you’ll need to get your credit straightened out. In this post I’ll discuss getting a credit repair service as well as what steps you need to take if you decide you want to fix your credit score yourself. You might even be able to fix your credit in just 6 months.

These steps are so easy. Perfect guide for do it yourself credit repair.

Related articles from our approved partners:

  • Three Tips to Get Approved for Better Loans at Better Rates
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  • Save $50 off Credit Repair Service

How Can I Fix Bad Credit Myself? – 6 MonthCredit Repair Guide

First, watch this video from my friend Dominique over at Your Finances Simplified. He’s going to tell you exactly how to fix your credit.

Watched the video? Good.
Feeling overwhelmed at the next steps?
Yep. I understand.
Let’s take this step by step.

Take a deep breath. People think that having bad credit is the worse thing that can happen. But just calm down. You are taking the first steps which puts you on the right track.

Remember, it’s just money.

No one is going to die. Take control and get back in the driver’s seat!

Fix 1: Check Bad Credit

The first thing you’ll need is your creditor information. Get the most recent credit card statements, loan balances, and installment loan reports along with addresses and phone numbers. I recommend printing everything old-school style. It’s going to come in handy later.

Fix 2: Get a Free Credit Report

Then, take a second to get your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Each year you are able to pull your credit report for free from the three providers Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Optional: Get Your Free Credit Score

You can check an approximation of your credit score for free at Credit Sesame one of our approved partners, but if you are trying to fix your credit, you probably already know your credit score looks a little like this….

bad credit personified

But that’s ok. We’re going to put you on the good foot.

Fix 3: Review your credit report for errors (highlight each error).

You’re getting ready to take charge and stop being a victim. Most people don’t even realize what they could get removed from their credit just because of errors.

What should you look for?

Wait a minute. So, you’re telling me you didn’t watch the video above?

Scroll back up for me right quick and you’ll find out exactly what you should look for.

Or keep reading…

Dispute incorrect names, addresses, SSN, and date of birth via the certified mail.

You will need supporting documentation and letters. You will have to write a dispute letter and include the specifics of the inaccuracies. You want to dispute inaccurate, erroneous, outdated, misleading, and unverifiable information in your credit reports.

Tired of being harassed by your creditors? Maybe you’d prefer that someone else handle all of this for you?

In that case, you might was to work with a credit repair company to improve your credit.

Are you ready to…

  • Remove bankruptcies to rebuild credit?
  • Permanently delete foreclosures and repossessions?
  • Erase debts that were in collection?
  • Completely get credit cards under control?
  • Get approved for loans?
  • Get the best financing on cars and homes?

In that case, check out our partner Lexington Law for more details on how they can help you clean up your credit report.

Finally, fixing your credit permanently also means creating good habits and getting out of debt.

How getting out of debt is like the MTV show, I Used to Be Fat.

I used to watch this TV show on MTV called I Used to Be Fat. The show documents young adults, usually high school seniors and high school graduates who want to lose weight before they start college. Each episode features a different teen. I absolutely LOVE this show. I like seeing the determination and perseverance of these kids, they are really focused on their goals. Most of them thought about quitting along the way but each one makes it to the end and they usually reach their goal.

I was thinking the other day about how the TV show is very similar to a battle with debt. When you’re in debt, it can feel like you’re carrying around a second person, experiencing frugal fatigue, or that you have a spare tire of bills around your waist. I know because I’m working on getting out of debt myself. I realized that there are 3 major points we can learn from the MTV show I Used to Be Fat when trying to take control of our debt.
debt

Improve Your Credit Step 1 – Give Yourself a Deadline

Before the teens even begin a weight loss program, their coach/personal trainer gives them a large tear off number calendar to place on their wall. It has the total number of days until their program completion date, and every day they rip off the next number.

It is a good idea, when you are paying off debt, to set a deadline for your debt-free date, like 6 months. Setting a deadline is a way of making your goal specific. Every time you look at that calendar or see that date it will push your brain consciously and subconsciously to make it to your ultimate goal, to reduce spending and get out of debt.

Improve Your Credit Step 2 – Check in Regularly with a Coach

Every week, the kids had a weigh in. Their personal trainer was making sure that they were on track with how much weight they were supposed to be losing at each stage in the process. Sometimes they were attempting to lose one pound a day! I never thought that was possible or healthy, but most of the teens actually accomplished it under the supervision of their coach.

If you really want to prioritize your goal of becoming debt free then you really have to give yourself check points. You can enlist the help of a friend or even a debt counselor to help you along the way. Having a good support system can make all the difference.

Improve Your Credit Step 3 – Get Rid of Old Habits and Create New Ones

When one of the teens was at a restaurant with her friends, she ordered a lean meal instead of the greasy french fries that her friends had. The personal trainer also taught her how to cook healthier meals so that she would be able to maintain her new lifestyle change.

Becoming debt-free is not a one-time goal. It has to be a lifestyle change. When I decided to start getting out of debt, I had to first evaluate why I was in debt in the first place. I had to eliminate my habit of impulse spending and replace that habit with a good habit. Now I impulse buy stocks and my portfolio loves it! It’s not easy to change a habit that took years to cultivate, but with a good support system, it is entirely possible.

Are you ready to make a change?

Some of you may be thinking, I’m still young, so why should I care about my credit score? Lots of people have debt and less than stellar credit, but they’re still enjoying a cushy lifestyle. As long as I’m able to buy the things that I want, why should I be concerned? The answer is simple. Life is easier when you have good credit.

Take a look at it this way. Landlords, employers, and lenders need to determine whether they can trust you, and they look at your credit score as an indicator of your financial reputation. You may not think credit affects you greatly, but it does. When you ruin your financial reputation (a.k.a. credit score), it will take you a long time to restore it.

Poor credit affects your ability to rent, buy a car, get a home loan, and even open up accounts. Creditors don’t want to work with people with bad credit because the risk of not getting paid is very high. How can they trust that you will pay them back if you haven’t even paid others? If you’ve already tarnished your credit, here are some tips to help you fix your credit score and reestablish your life.

Improve Your Credit Step 4 – Make Your Payments on Time

This may sound trivial, but we all know that money can be tight, and skipping payments on one bill can help pay for other expenses. But, timely payments are the biggest factor affecting your credit score. Keep a budget, and make sure you have sufficient funds to make your credit card and loan payments on time.

Improve Your Credit Step 5 – Consider Getting a Secured Credit Card

Obviously, it will be very hard to get a regular credit card if you have bad credit. If you don’t qualify for a credit card, you can get a secured card instead. This is when the bank gives you a credit line equal to the deposit you make. If used wisely, a secured card can help nurse your poor credit to better health.

Improve Your Credit Step 4 – Add an Installment Loan

You can improve your score quickly if you show that you can be responsible for both major kinds of credit: revolving (credit cards) and installment (mortgages, auto, student loans, etc.). If you don’t have an installment loan and feel you are ready to handle one, consider adding a small personal loan. Stay away from expensive finance companies and “teaser” deals, and use a company that reports the loan to all three credit bureaus.

Improve Your Credit Step 5 – Avoid the Minimum Payment Trap

Credit cards come with high interest rates. We all know how our $2,000 computer ended up costing $8,168 because we only made the minimum payments at 20% on our credit card. Ouch, that hurts! Keep constant payments on your credit card (and don’t run them up again) and your balances will drop.

Improve Your Credit Step 6 – Use Your Credit Cards Lightly and Check Your Limits

Even if you pay your bills on time and in full each month, having big balances can hurt your score. Try to limit charges to 30% or less of your card’s limit. Lenders typically like to see a big gap between how much you’re charging and your available credit limit.

Improve Your Credit Step 7 – Keep Old Credit Cards

Don’t close out old credit cards. The longer your credit history, the better. Leave the accounts open but once you pay them off, stop using them. Closed accounts tend to bring down your score.

Improve Your Credit Step 8 – Suspend Credit Inquiries

The more credit inquiries you have, the more your credit score drops. Fix your credit and wait a while before allowing your credit to be pulled again.

Improve Your Credit Step 9 – Get a Goodwill Adjustment

If you have been responsible about paying your credit cards on time, the lender may agree to erase a late payment from your credit history. For more troubled accounts, communicate with your lender about possible options to erase previous delinquencies. If the lender agrees, it will improve your overall record.

Improve Your Credit Step 10 – Check Your Credit Report for Errors

You can check your credit report without negative scoring (once per year, for free) with the three credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure to look for any mistakes that could be hurting your score. If you see something wrong, make the effort to have it corrected.

Improve Your Credit Step 11 – Seek Professional Help

If you are overwhelmed with debt and don’t feel you can handle the problem on your own, consider working with a professional debt relief agent. They can help you explore your options and give you guidance on this post

It’s very easy to ruin your credit, but it takes time to build it back up. No matter how bad your credit is, you can take steps to make it better.

Sometimes we mishandle our budget, and we spend more than we should. (You know that you shouldn’t have bought that expensive flat screen TV). And, sometimes we end up in tough financial situations because of things beyond our control. Whether you have experienced job loss, illness, or another type of financial disruption, it’s important to know that you can turn things around.

It may not be easy, but step by step, you will be able to fix your financial situation. Just don’t delay facing the issue. The longer you wait, the harder it is for you to recover.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

How to Stay Organized as a Busy College Student

Glossy college brochures show students hanging out on the quad, playing Frisbee, and staying up all night to watch movies with friends. It seems like college students have endless free time, right? Nope! With 80% of students working while attending school, and school course loads taking up approximately 12-15 hours a week, free time is rare. Add in labs, homework, and student organizations, and you start to realize college doesn’t offer up as much freedom as you may think.

However, there are certain ways a busy college student can stay organized and get everything done. With a little organizational skills, you can set up your schedule to work efficiently for you. Who knows… maybe you’ll even get some time for Frisbee!

As a Busy College Student, You Need to Study Smart

Your primary focus in college is to graduate. Therefore, studying is your number one priority. This doesn’t mean you have to spend all day studying. Think of studying in terms of quality, not quantity.

Keep your study time efficiently organized by using a planner. That may sound nerdy but nerds get good grades. A planner can be physical or digital. Make sure to keep it up-to-date.

If you’re most alert in the morning, create an early morning study block. If you’re a night owl, dedicate some late night time for studying. Listen to your body and study when it’s most alert.

Studying is your number one priority. It leads to graduation. Graduation leads to a job. A job leads to fulfillment (and money!).

Set Up Your Space Efficiently

A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. A messy room is a stressful room. A busy college student doesn’t have time for wading through clutter. At the beginning of the school year, set up your room to maximize space:

  • Put things you use often, like a backpack, purse, jacket, or keys, out where you can see them. Buy plastic hooks you can hang on the wall for these items. Hang them up as soon as you get in the room.
  • Group like items together. This means keeping your shower stuff all in one area, like on hooks inside your closet.
  • Put away your clothes. I know, it sounds like something your parents might say, but seriously: put away your clothes. You’ll do yourself a favor. By organizing your clothes in ways that make sense, you’ll save yourself a ton of time in the morning. This is awesome because you’ll be able to sleep later. That’s because you won’t have to spend all morning searching for a clean outfit!

If you share a room, it will be harder to control your roommate’s mess. However, by keeping your own space clean, you’ll be able to get what you need done. Maybe your roommate will adopt your time-saving methods.

Take Advantage of Breaks

The best way to stay organized as a busy college student is to take advantage of breaks throughout the day.  If you have 2 hours between class and your job, run a load of laundry. You’ll likely have a free washer and dryer available in the middle of the day. That will save time on the weekend when everyone is arguing over the washing machines.

Have an hour between lunch and your next class? Grab a friend who’s in the same class as you and have a quick study session. You can help each other. You both get a free tutor.

If you work a relaxed on-campus job, use the quiet time to review your class notes. When I worked at my school’s library, I was able to read a book in between helping patrons. I brought whatever book we were reading in English class.

Capturing free time during the day is a fantastic idea. It may even lead to wide-open weekends. That can lead to way more college fun!

Crib Notes:

Staying organized as a busy college student doesn’t have take up much time.

Establish good study habits. Create a living space conducive to living and studying. Use your free time efficiently. These 3 tips will lead to graduation and a fulfilling life thereafter.

Good luck and have fun!

Originally posted 2015-10-12 10:00:03.

Categories
Career

Smart Answers to Stupid Interview Questions

Getting a job interview can be tough! As a recent graduate, you likely don’t have vast work experience or networks to draw on. After submitting dozens of applications, you finally get a call: you have an interview! It’s time to practice for those interview questions.

Unfortunately, some interview questions are really dumb. We’ve all been there: interview questions we don’t expect, or questions so stupid you wonder why employers bother to ask them at all. Unfortunately, many companies still ask dumb interview questions, so it’s best to be prepared for them. Here are several stupid interview questions you may face and the smart way to answer them.

What Did You Not Like About Your Last Job/Boss?

This interview question is terrible for so many reasons: it tries to bait you into speaking badly about your previous employer, it may embarrass you, and it doesn’t help the company hiring you. Employers want to know about your personality and if they’ll like you, so being negative in this negative question sets you up for failure.

The smart way to answer negative interview questions like this is to be positive about what your previous jobs have taught you. If a micromanaging boss ruined a job for you, you may want to highlight how you’ve learned to communicate effectively with managers. This shows the interviewer(s) that you’ve thought about challenging aspects in the workplace but have learned how to handle them. It’s important to stay positive throughout an interview.

Tell Us Your Greatest Weakness

This stupid interview question is terrible because it’s old and won’t go away, and because almost no one tells the truth with this question. If your greatest weakness is difficulty waking up on time, you likely wouldn’t tell your future employer this.

The smart way to answer interview questions like this is to focus on the things that make you great. Use your knowledge of the company to highlight things they’re looking for in the job: writing skills, analytical skills, or technical knowledge. You can also talk about a weakness you’ve improved, which shows your tenacity and willingness to learn. Again, stay positive!

Why Should We Hire You?

This is one of those dumb interview questions that just makes you want to stare at your interviewer in disbelief. They will meet your competition. You will not. You don’t know what qualifications the others have. How could you possibly know who’s the best person to hire?

The smart way to answer this interview question is actually pretty easy. This question usually comes at the end of your interview. It’s your time to remind the interviewers why you think the position is right for you. This question is a chance for you to summarize your qualifications. A strong close will be remembered.

Tell Us Your Salary Range

This dumb interview question is sometimes asked during the interview or on your application. If you’re applying to a public sector job, you can look up salary ranges online, making this question irrelevant. If it’s a private sector job, you can try to use sites like Glassdoor.com to find salary ranges. Or there are many ways to determine what the job will pay.

This question is stupid, especially for recent graduates with limited work experience. Don’t say that $12/hour would be good enough to pay rent. You have to answer this question very carefully.

The smart way to answer this question is to say that you expect the salary to be commensurate with experience. If you can find salary ranges, state those ranges and add any experience you already have in the field to boost your salary estimate. Give them a reason to pay you more.

Where Do You See Yourself in 5/10/15 Years?

This interview question is not just stupid, but difficult. No one can predict with certainty where they will be in 5 years. You may not even expect to stay in that job for 5 years, as you could move or choose to start your own business.

The smart way to answer this question is to talk about skills you hope to acquire or improve over the next few years. If you do see yourself interested in becoming a manager, you could talk about your interest in mentorship opportunities and training. This will show your potential employers you’re interested in improving yourself, which is what they’re looking for in an employee.

It’s Time to Get out There

While many employers are moving away from stupid interview questions, you will occasionally run into them.

Above all, stay positive during negative interview questions. Employers want to hire people they can get along with. Life will always be a bit of a popularity contest.

[Tweet “”People won’t always remember what you’ve done but they will remember how you made them feel.” -Napoleon Hill”]

Originally posted 2015-10-05 10:00:48.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

National Coffee Day: How Much Do YOU Pay for Coffee a Week (And How You Can Cut That Cost in Half)

In celebration of National Coffee Day, celebrated on September 29 this year, let’s talk delicious, hot (or iced!) coffee! Coffee is one of America’s favorite beverages, with it coming in only behind water as a drink of choice.  More than 75% of Americans drink some type of coffee, from lattes to cappuccinos to plain coffee.

According to the Huffington Post, the average American drinks 2.1 cups of coffee a day. We spend an average of $3.28 per drink, a number that has increased annually since 2013.

While it seems like we all celebrate national coffee day pretty regularly, it’s worth estimating how much you pay for coffee in a week. Let’s face it, unless you’re dedicated to brewing only the most basic coffee at home every day, you’re likely spending money on coffee out. That money adds up! Here’s how you can cut your coffee consumption costs in half – and still get your caffeine fix.

Estimate Your Average Coffee Expenses

If you’re curious to see how much you spend on coffee regularly, USA Today has a nifty coffee calculator that tells you how much you spend monthly, annually, and over the course of 30 years on your coffee habit. For example, if you go to Starbucks for 2 cups of coffee a day, the calculator predicts you’ll spend $126 a month. That’s approximately $31 on coffee a week!

Of course, your expenses may vary widely. Not every day is national coffee day, so it’s likely some days you’ll make coffee at home or possibly skip it entirely. According to the USA Today Coffee Calculator, if you make 2 cups of coffee at home every day, you’ll spend $4.80 a month – basically a dollar a week on coffee.

Being aware of your regular coffee expenses will go a long way toward understanding where your money goes weekly. Here are additional ways to continue cutting those expenses, especially if you’re one of those people who has more than 2 cups of coffee daily!

Brew At Home

As the USA Today calculator shows us, you’re better off overall if you make coffee at home. The best part of brewing at home is you can be more creative in your coffee flavor choices. Every day can be experimental national coffee day when you have your own coffee machine!

By brewing at home, you can try different types of coffee (not just Starbucks – there are many coffee brands out there with very distinct and tasty flavors!), flavors, and sizes. The “tall” size you get at Starbucks may be more affordable, but you can brew yourself a giant cup at home for less than half the price.

Plan Ahead

One reason why many of us purchase coffee is lack of time. Have you ever been rushing out the door only to realize you desperately need coffee, so you swing by the drive thru on your way to work? You can cut down on these unplanned coffee runs by planning ahead.

There are a few easy steps to planning ahead. When you go grocery shopping, make sure you’ve stocked up on coffee grounds, or pods if you use a single-brew machine, flavored syrups, creamer, or half-and-half. By having everything on hand at home, you’ll be less likely to make an excuse of running to the coffee shop.

The morning you get up, stumble over to the coffee machine, put in your coffee of choice, and press “on” or “start”. Then get ready like you normally do while your coffee brews. You can even have everything pre-measured the night before, so it’s ready for you to just press “start”!

You Don’t Need a Fancy Machine

While it’s really handy to have a coffee machine you can set, so it automatically brews coffee for you at the time you choose, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a fancy coffee machine. Keurigs are nice, handy, and easy to use, but they’re not your only choice.

Mr. Coffee is an excellent brand that makes coffee machines you can pre-set, ones for single-serve cups of coffee, and smaller sizes that fit easily in an apartment or in an office cubicle. If you simply can get up early enough to brew your own coffee at home, consider a smaller, affordable coffee pot you can use at work! None of those machines should cost you more than $30, and if you can’t afford one now, you can always ask a loved one to buy it for you on national coffee day!

Make Educated Coffee Choices

Even after purchasing your own home machine and brewing coffee there, sometimes you just can’t help going to Starbucks and buying a cup of coffee. It happens! However, you can save money by making the right coffee choices.

Instead of purchasing a grande latte from Starbucks, approximately $4, consider other coffee choices. Could you purchase a grande plain coffee, approximately $2.50, and add your own flavoring, creamer, etc.? If you’re willing to try different types of coffee, or bring your own creamer or syrups from home, you can save money by buying a plain coffee and adding to it.

Splurge When You Have Coupons or Freebies

Many coffee chains offer perks to regular customers. If you’re a regular Starbucks customer, for instance, you can download the Starbucks app and redeem rewards for free or half-priced coffees and meals. On days you’re offered these perks, it’s like a national coffee day celebration for you! Take advantage of these rewards by indulging in your coffee fix.

Use your rewards or discounts to purchase a large size of your favorite coffee, or to get your regular-sized coffee at half-price. This is a great chance for you to get your grande latte for $2 instead of the regular $4+.

 

By brewing at home, making educated choices, planning ahead, using the right machine, and taking advantage of freebies, you can cut your coffee expenses in half quickly. It may take some getting used to, especially if it’s a habit for you to visit the drive-thru every morning, but think of the savings. If you cut out just one Starbucks visit every day, you’ll save an estimated $766 in one year. Now that’s something to celebrate National Coffee Day over!

Originally posted 2015-09-28 10:00:59.

Categories
Budgeting & Saving

Which is Better? Credit Union or Traditional Bank?

When it comes to choosing a bank, you may become stuck between settling with a traditional bank and a neighborhood credit union. On the surface, banks and credit unions are quite similar. They both offer checking and savings accounts, loans and other financial products. However, there are quite a few important differences.

This post will show you how they’re different. Then you’ll know which one is right for you!

The Main Differences

Generally speaking, a bank is a business that holds onto your money and creates a profit by investing the money or loaning it out to others. The bank also makes money by charging you with account fees and ATM fees.

Credit unions are member-focused institutions that operate as non-profits. A checking account is commonly known as a ‘share draft’ because when you deposit money at a credit union, you’re actually buying shares of the company. With a credit union, instead of being a customer, you’re a partial owner.

Credit unions generally offer the same services as a bank. On top of that, there is also a greater sense of community. It’s also common to find lower interest rates for loans. Basically, credit unions are known for friendly faces and low rates.

[Tweet “Banks v. Credit Unions = Convenience v. Savings”]

Traditional Banks are Convenient

Traditional banks are on almost every corner, making it accessing your cash an easy feat. If you’re traveling or just need cash quickly and have a major bank like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, or JPMorgan Chase, you won’t have to go far to find a branch. You can even utilize their various different ATM locations when the bank is closed.

Most traditional banks also offer convenient tools like online banking and mobile apps so you can track and manage your account on the go. Large banks have the client-base necessary to create these conveniences. Expect smooth online operations at big banks.

The one downside with large traditional banks is that they can be very impersonal. You may be subject to long lines. You may never get the same teller twice.

Credit Unions are Personable

While credit unions may not be located on every corner, they take a more personalized approach and generally get to know their customers. At a credit union you’ll feel more like a member. You’ll have more of a say in what type of service and experience you want to have. When it comes to getting a loan, credit unions will be more lenient and willing to work with you and understand the financial factors that don’t show up on paper.

However, credit unions operate on a smaller scale than traditional banks and run fewer branches with stricter hours of operation. This may be an inconvenience for some people who live far from their credit union or work late hours. Friendly faces are nice but only when you see them!

The Truth about Fees and Interest Rates

Credit unions generally offer fewer fees and better interest rates for savings accounts, hands down. According to a recent report from Wallet Hub, credit unions continue to offer leading interest rates for savings accounts (while still being inferior to online banks) as well lower interest rates for personal loans. Credit unions also have lower checking account fees.

Most traditional banks have a long list of rules and requirements when you open a checking account. It’s important to read the fine print to ensure that you aren’t overpaying by getting charged a monthly fee, multiple withdrawal fee or any outlandish overdraft fees. At a credit union, there is less of a chance that you will get stuck with so many fees because these institutions do not rely largely on fee money for profit as is the case with banks.

Which is Better?

The answer to the age old question of whether you should choose a credit union or a traditional bank is almost always going to be subjective. In the end, it all depends on what you value: saving money or convenience.

If you are looking for convenience, easy access to your money when traveling, superb mobile banking tools and a wide variety of credit card programs, you may prefer to use a traditional bank. Just remember to read the free agreement before signing! If you don’t require the convenience of multiple locations and prefer a more member-focused type of institution with lower fees and better interest rates, you should consider a credit union.

It’s important to do your research and read the fine print before opening an account with either types of institution.

 

Do you prefer a credit union or a traditional bank? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally posted 2015-09-18 10:00:22.

Categories
Earn Extra Income

Top Ways College Students Can Earn Extra Money

Good students spend the extra time to get better grades. Sometimes that means late nights, missing out on fun, and stressful days. But getting good grades can also mean more cash in your pocket. You can often get approved for more financial aid if you have good grades in college, and you may even get scholarships. However, scholarships are not the only way to get paid for good grades. Here are a few more ways to benefit from good grades.

 

Save Hundreds by Skipping College Classes

You can begin earning extra money as early as middle school. If you are a relatively good student and you choose the more difficult classes, you might get an advanced placement in high school. This will allow you to skip some lower level college courses which could save you hundreds. If you skip enough classes, you might even be eligible to graduate early, saving thousands and starting your career early.

 

Get Cash Back on Your Student Loan

If you decide to borrow student loans, consider this: good grades can mean cash. Some student loan servicers offer incentive programs that will give you cash back based on regular payments or auto draft payments. But others will offer cash back simply based on the grades that you earn. Consider the Good Grades program from Discover Student Loans that offers 1% cash back on each new student loan if your GPA is a 3.0 (or equivalent) or higher.

Get Rewarded with Cheaper Insurance

As you begin paying your own bills, you might be surprised to find out that your good grades can earn you cheaper car insurance and even cash back on your credit card. Insurers like Allstate, Nationwide Geico and State Farm, offer discounts up to 25% off your monthly bill. If you pay $100 a month for car insurance, that could mean a savings of up to $300 dollars a year! Add that to the cash back your good grades could earn you via your credit card, and you will have extra cash to grow an emergency fund or save for a short getaway.

 

Get Rewarded with Credit Card Cash Back

The Discover card gives cash back for good grades. Discover card recently launched its Good Grades Reward Program, which exclusively rewards new student cardmembers who apply after July 23, 2015 with $20 in Cashback Bonus® if their grade point average is 3.0 (or equivalent) or higher each year they are enrolled in school, for the first five years from the account opening.

 

The Good Grades $20 Cashback Bonus is in addition to the current rewards structures for the two student credit cards Discover has available:

 

Discover it® chrome for Students offers an automatic 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases quarterly.

 discover it chrome

Discover it® for Students offers 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum in combined purchases, when you sign up.

discover it

Both cards earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

 

Now you have no reason to complain that college only drains your bank account. With these programs you can easily earn extra money as a college student. Making the choice to study on the weekends instead of party? Well, that’s a totally different story.

Originally posted 2015-09-16 10:00:00.