i The Frugal Law Student | 2007 | May

Law School
Frugality
Personal Finance
Productivity
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4 New Ways To Use A Dryer Sheet

Written by Brett McKay

Dryer sheets aren’t just for drying. They can serve double duty in your home in a variety of ways. Instead of using a full dryer sheet to dry you clothes, cut them in half. Use the other half in other parts of your home. It might not save you much money, but every little bit counts. So, for your consideration, I present 4 new ways to use a dryer sheet.

  1. Static Remover. If you put on a piece of clothing and notice you’re having some static cling, just take a dryer sheet and rub the clinging part down a bit.
  2. Air freshener. Throw a dryer sheet in your clothes drawer and closet. It will keep your clothes smelling clean and fresh. You can also keep them by a fan or air conditioner to give your room an odder lift.
  3. Dust cloth. Dryer sheets are dust magnets. I find dryer sheets especially useful for my laptop screen. What’s nice about using a dryer sheet is that the sheet will leave behind a residue that will help prevent future dust build-up.
  4.  Dish rag. If you have some stubborn food build up on your pots and pans, fill them up with water and toss and dryer sheet in. Let the pans soak overnight. In the morning, the baked on junk should come off.

What other ways do you use dryer sheets around the house?

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[tags]fugality, clothing, [/tags]

10 Ways To Avoid Depression In Law School

Written by Brett McKay

depression.jpg

Law school can get you down. There’s so much pressure to succeed, that when you don’t meet your expectations you feel like a big piece of poo. Additionally, because law school requires a huge time commitment, many students lose balance in their life. Both these factors can contribute to depression in law school. Once depression sets in, your grades suffer and you suffer. Today we’ll discuss some easy things you can do to avoid depression in law school

  1. Don’t equate yourself worth to your LSAT score or grades. Your worth as a human being isn’t determined by your grades.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. I know it’s hard not to compare yourself in law school seeing how grades are determined by how everyone else does, but make an effort to stop comparing yourself. Whenever you compare yourself to others, you’re always going to lose. There will always be someone who’s better than you. Just focus on improving your personal best.
  3. Exercise. Start an exercise plan and stick to it. Try to get in at least 3 workouts a week. Exercise is a great way to let off some steam from law school. Also a sound body means a sound mind which will come in handy on test day.
  4. Eat right. Don’t feed yourself out of the vending machine. If you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. Make sure to eat breakfast everyday and bring a nutritious lunch to school.
  5. Sleep. Adequate sleep is an important part of avoiding depression. Ideally you should be getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Sleep is especially important during finals. Insufficient sleep has been shown to cause a decrease in mental abilities. So, don’t pull all-nighters. You’re probably better off sleeping an extra 5 hours than studying an extra 5 hours. Don’t let the students who boast about pulling all-nighters get to you. They’re not going to do better than you. In fact, you’ll probably do better than them.
  6. Don’t drink. Alcohol is not the answer to your law school problems. Your bad grade will still be there after the hangover.Lawyers are notorious for having a high percentage of alcoholics. Often the problem began while in law school. Avoid becoming another statistic by not drinking.
  7. Maintain your hobbies. Many law students give up their hobbies once in law school in order to devote more time to studying. This is a big mistake. It’s good to do things that aren’t associated with law school to keep balance. Having a hobby is great for rejuvenating your mind and body to tackle law school. For example, my hobby is this blog. During the school year I spent about an hour each morning working on it. It really helped me to stay relaxed while in law school. While you may not be able to devote as much time to your hobby while in law school, don’t abandon them completely.
  8. Make time for friends and family who aren’t going to law school. While it’s nice to have friends in law school, you usually just end up talking about law school with them. You need to get away from law school as much as you can. Non law school friends and family will keep you grounded. If you’re married, make sure to have a night where you just hang out with your spouse. Don’t talk about law school, rather talk about normal stuff. It will remind you what’s really important in life.
  9. Don’t study all the time. Many law students have the false belief that that how much you study determines your success. The reality is that success in law school is determined by how you study. My advice is to treat law school like a job. Put in your 9 hours at school, come home, and leave the books in the bag. It will keep you sane.
  10. Seek help. If you feel like law school’s getting you down go talk to someone. Many schools offer academic support that has counselors that can help you. Also, try talking to your professors. You’ll be surprised how many are willing to listen and help if you’re suffering depression.

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[tags]law school, depression, lifehacks[/tags]

Ninja Negotiation With Your Cell Phone

Written by Brett McKay

Next time you go shopping for your next big purchase, make sure you have your cell phone with you. Most salespeople will match or beat competitor prices. Before you close a deal, call the store’s competitor and ask if they can offer a better price. Do this right in front of the salesperson. By doing this, either store can give you a better price on the spot. You save yourself time and money. You’ll also have the satisfaction of turning the tables on high pressure salesmen.

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[tags]cell phone, negotiation, money tips[/tags]

Who Are The Joneses and Why Are We Keeping Up With Them?

Written by Brett McKay


To “keep up with the Joneses” is a common phrase used in America to convey the idea of being as well off (or at least appearing to be as well off) financially as one’s neighbors.

Who are these Joneses and where did this phrase come from?

Come to find out, the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” originated from an early 20th century comic strip of the same title by Arthur R. “Pop” Momand. The comic started in 1913 and ran for another 28 years. It was eventually adapted into musicals, movies, and eventually a catch phrase.

joneses.jpg

The funny thing about the comic strip “Keeping up With the Joneses” is that the strip isn’t even about the Joneses. In fact the Joneses never made an appearance in the 28 years the strip ran. The main characters in the strip was the McGinises family consisting of Aloysius, the husband; Clarice, the wife; Julie, the daughter; and Belladonna, the housemaid. The Joneses were referred to now and then and the McGinises family tried to keep up with them

Why Are We Keeping Up With The Jonses?

We’ve all experienced keeping up with the Joneses moments at some time in our life. We see the next door neighbor buy a new car or hear from a co-worker who takes his family on trips to Europe every year and immediately we feel the burning desire to do the same. Why? First, we want to appear that we’re in the same socio-economic range as our peers. Second, we feel we deserve it. If a neighbor who sends his kids to same school that I send mine, shops at the same stores as me, and lives in the same are as me can afford to buy new things, then I should be able to as well.

People automatically assume that because their neighbors buy new stuff on a regular basis, their neighbors must be better off financially. In order to keep up appearances with the neighbors, many families take on loads of consumer debt. The reality, though, is that your neighbors are probably buying their stuff on credit trying to keep up with some other Joneses-maybe the Joneses at their church. Quickly, keeping up with the Joneses becomes a vicious cycle of one-up-manship.

But guess what? You don’t have to play the game anymore.

As soon as we realize that the Joneses are buying their stuff off of credit, the ridiculousness of the keeping up with them appears: We go into debt so we can keep up with our neighbors’ debt. If having more debt means my neighbors are better off than me, I’ll let them be better off than me.

Not all of our friends who are living lavish lifestyles are taking on debt to do it. Some people actually make enough money to support their lifestyle without taking on debt. However, we shouldn’t try to keep up with them by going into debt. It’s not worth it. It doesn’t mean we’re less of a person because we can’t have the things they have. It just means we don’t have as much money. The reality is that many of your friends who are well off don’t care if you still drive the car you drove in college or if you don’t wear the latest fashions. If these types of things really are important to your friends, then maybe you should get new friends.

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[tags]Personal finance, frugality, Frugal Law Student, money[/tags]

5 Financial Pitfalls of Part Time Law School

Written by Brett McKay


Last week, we discussed some of the financial benefits of attending part time law programs. Today, we discuss some of the drawbacks.

  1. You limit the number schools you can go to. Only a few schools offer part time law school, so you’ll be limited by the number of schools you can apply to if you decide to go part time. This usually isn’t a problem for individuals who want to go to law school part time. Usually, they’re individuals who have a career and want to switch careers to law. They’ll just go to the closest law school that will allow them to commute. They’re not interested in tiers or reputations of schools. However, because most of the part time programs are offered at less prestigious schools, this could result in part time students’ job offers being limited. It’s a hard fact of life. Where you went to school will effect what kind of job opportunities you will have. Here’s a list of law schools that offer part time programs.
  2. You miss out on networking. Because part time students are not on campus as much as full-time students, they miss out on valuable opportunities to network with their fellow classmates and professors. While it’s important to network with people outside of law school, I think it’s even more important to network with people with whom you go to class. Those students will be the people you will be working with for the rest of your career. You never know if you’ll have a future judge or big firm partner in your class. Making friends with your fellow law students can pay off big.
  3. Your grades may suffer. Because most part time students are juggling both a career and law school, there’s a good chance their grades will suffer. Bad grades = fewer job opportunities = less pay.
  4. Your current career may suffer. Law school is tough, even if you’re going part time. Because of the time and energy demands of law school, there’s a possibility that your current career may suffer. If you have too much trouble at work, it could result in getting laid off or missing on advancement opportunities, which results lost money. However, you could just enroll in a full-time program if this happens to you.
  5. Many law firms look down on part time programs. Unfortunately, part time law school has a stigma. Many hiring partners see part time programs only for those students who weren’t qualified enough to get in a full time program. Or they might see part time programs as less rigorous than full time law school. Additionally, because most part time programs are at less prestigious schools, hiring partners will look down on a part time program because of the school attached to it. All these factors can play a part in diminishing the amount you earn during your law career.

Any other pitfalls of enrolling part time in law school or do you disagree with me? I’d love to hear what you all think.

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Featured Resource

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[tags]law school, Frugal Law Student, jobs[/tags]

Massive Personal Finance Resource List

Written by Brett McKay

Inspired by Leo’s Massive GTD Resource List at Zen Habits, I decided to put together a massive resource list for personal finances. It’s definitely not comprehensive. So, if you see something that I should add to the list, let me know in the comments. Enjoy.

Online Money Management Tools

Unless otherwise stated, all applications are free.

  • Wesabe Track your expenses and get budgeting tips from other users.
  • Money Trackin Powerful online budget tool.
  • Yodlee It’s like having Quicken online for free.
  • Myvelopes If you’re a big fan of the envelope budget system, then try this digital version of it. ($7.90/month)
  • DimeWise You can define multiple accounts and enter and track your transactions. You can also create reports
  • Foonance You can import your bank statements and track expenses with Foonance.
  • iOWEYOU Track and manage shared expenses with others.
  • Buxfer Manage shared expenses.
  • MedBill Manager Manage your medical expenses with this app.
  • iiProperty If you own property that you rent out, iiProperty can help you manage it.
  • Rentometer If you’re a renter, and you want to find out if you’re getting ripped off on rent, check out Rentometer. It will tell you what others are paying in your area.
  • billQ Track and manage your bills.
  • BillMonk Track expenses between friends, roommates. You can also settle bills online via Obopay
  • billster Track personal and shared expenses.
  • BudgetOnWeb Manage your budge, schedules, and contracts in an Excel-like interface
  • BudgetTracker Manage your budget. You can track upcoming bills through RSS
  • ClearCheckBook Expense tracker.
  • ExpenseView Manage your budget and track expenses.
  • JustBudget Budget manager.
  • MySpendingPlan Another budget tool.
  • Plan2Spend Organize your bills and payments
  • SpendingProfile Yet another budget and expense tracker.
  • Track Your Budget A simple budget and transaction tracker.

Offline Software

Unless otherwise stated, all applications are free.

Investing Tools

  • Sharebuilder
  • eTrade
  • Zecco Zecco provides free online investment trading.
  • Wikinancial It’s a wiki about stocks.
  • StockTickr Social investing application. Stock watch lists are shared amongst member.
  • SaneBull AJAX driven web app that allows users to drag and drop information they want to see on their homepage
  • GStock GStock uses a “virtual supercomputer” to analyze stock purchases. It will send you BUY/SELL alerts for your stock portfolio.
  • DigStock It’s Digg for stocks.
  • CAPS CAPS is run by The Motley Fool. CAPS is a community where you can share investment tips.
  • BullPoo BullPoo is another social investing site. Swap info and read blogs about different stocks.
  • Prosper Prosper allows you to lend money to others and make a profit on interest.

How to Use Quicken

How to Use MS Money

There were surprisingly few articles on MS Money. It looks like most people either use Quicken or their own spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets

Analog Tools

Tools For Mobiles & PDAs

Most of the online money tracking tools allow you to access your information on your cell or PDA.

Calculators

Magazines and Newspapers

Books

Forums and Groups

There are thousands of forums on personal finance, budgeting, ect. I picked out what I thought were the best. If you want to see more, go to Yahoo! Groups and run a search for personal finance. You’ll find tons of groups dedicated to the subject.

Blog Carnivals

Blogs

Excellent Personal Finance Articles

High Yield On-line Savings Accounts

Check out Which Online High Yield Savings Account Is Best? at Get Rich Slowly for a comprehensive comparison of all on-line saving accounts.

Credit Card Reward Programs

These are the top credit card reward programs according to Money Magazine. See their article here for more details.

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[tags]personal finance, money, budgeting, frugality[/tags]

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