i The Frugal Law Student | 2007 | September

Law School
Frugality
Personal Finance
Productivity
Nutrition

What’s In My Lunch Box?

Written by Brett McKay

lunch.jpg

Last week, I wrote about how you can save $1440 a year by brown bagging it. I’ve had a few readers ask what exactly I bring to eat every day. Here’s what I normally bring.

Grilled chicken breast. My wife buys a big bag of chicken breasts and grills them once a week. She freezes them until needed. They taste pretty yummy with pepper and other seasonings on it. By buying in bulk, we save some money.

Mixed vegetables. These are your basic mixed bag of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. We’ll buy several big bags of the store brand vegetables, so it’s pretty cheap. One bag can last me about 3 days. All we do is dump them in a bowl and microwave them.

Curry Lentils. Lentils are the most underrated food. First, they’re super cheap. A bag costs like a $1 and it lasts me a week. Second, they’re filling. I was surprised how full I was the first time I ate a serving of lentils. Lentils by themselves are pretty boring, so I spice it up by mixing some curry paste in.

We keep all this stuff in the fridge in containers. Each morning I dump them all together in a single serving size container. I sprinkle some cheese on top and boom! A quick, cheap, and nutrient dense meal. I’ll also bring a container of yogurt and some almonds for an afternoon snack. All this goes into my handy red and black cooler.

I’m pretty boring. I can eat the same thing everyday and not get sick of it, so eating this meal everyday is not a problem. I’ve always been like this. When I was a wee lad, I would eat nothing but mayonnaise and cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If eating the same thing day in and day out isn’t your thing, be sure to check Erica’s great post on 12 Easy, Cheap, and Healthy Meals for some more great cheap lunch ideas.

links for 2007-09-19

Written by Brett McKay

12 Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding

Written by Brett McKay

On average, couples spend about $27,000 for a wedding. Yikes! We’re not even including the honeymoon or engagement ring into the figure. For someone in school, forking over that much money is pretty much an impossibility. However, your big day doesn’t have to be that expensive. Here’s a list of 12 ways you can have a wedding on the cheap.

  1. Have the ceremony and reception at someone’s house. Renting a reception hall is expensive, and often churches charge a hefty fee for using it for weddings. Why not save some money by having your wedding at yours or someone else’s house? I’ve been to a few weddings where people have done this, and it’s been great. They just set up some chairs in the backyard that has lots of pretty flowers everywhere. Not only do you save money on the location, you save money on flowers.
  2. Keep it small. Do you really need to invite 500 people to your wedding? By keeping the guest list to family and close friends you save on the amount of food you have to buy for the wedding. But besides saving money, you keep your wedding intimate. My wife and I had a small wedding. I think we had 75 guests, just family and a few close friends. What I liked most about it was I was actually able to talk to everyone at my wedding.
  3. Hire a friend or student to do your photos. Wedding photos can cost a fortune. If you have a friend who does photography as a hobby or if you know a student who’s studying photography, hire them instead of a professional to take the photos. My wife and I had one lady who does photography as a hobby take our engagement photos and some of the pictures at the wedding. She did a great job and she didn’t charge that much either.
  4. Buy your wedding rings on the internet. You can save some big bucks if you buy your rings on the net. My wife and I bought our rings on the internet and got a really great deal on them. We saw the same ring at a jewelry store for almost double the price.
  5. Have wedding pie instead of wedding cake. Wedding cake is overrated. Plus, I have a theory that kno one really likes wedding cake, but everyone loves pie! My wife and I did this for our wedding and everyone loved it. Instead of having one huge expensive cake, we had several different pies.
  6. If you have to have a cake, keep it small. Don’t go overboard on the cake. Honestly, no one remembers what wedding cakes look like. Why spend a ton of money on it?
  7. Rent your wedding outfits. Rent your wedding dress. You only wear it once in your life. Dudes, just rent your tux.
  8. Ladies, have someone make your dress. Ladies, if you want to keep your dress, instead of buying one at a fancy wedding botique, have somone make it for you. My mother-in-law made my wife’s dress and it turned out great. The only cost was material.
  9. Don’t use tuxedos. Instead of a tux, I got hitched in a suit. I bought a new one for the wedding, but the investment was worth it because I’ve been able to wear it since then. Have everyone in your wedding party just wear a suit and you save a ton of money on rentals.
  10. Make your own invitations. One friend of ours did this and the invitations were pretty cute. I’m sure she saved a ton of money by doing this. Computers now a days have some awesome publishing software. Take advantage of it.
  11. Make your own DJ. DJ’s are expensive and annoying. I don’t need someone to tell me to raise my hands in the air or do the chicken dance. Here’s how to make your own DJ. First, make a huge playlist of music on winamp, iTunes, or Windows Media. Borrow someone’s stereo and speakers. Plug your laptop into the stereo, push play on your playlist, and whola! Instant DJ.
  12. Ditch the alcohol. Booze at weddings can really raise prices. You can save a ton by not serving it. If you decide to have alcohol, don’t do the full bar service. Instead, buy your own wine and champagne and serve it yourself.

links for 2007-09-18

Written by Brett McKay

Applying To Law School? 7 Ways To Save Money

Written by Brett McKay

This is a guest post from Ann K. Levine. Ann is a law school admission consultant and proprietor of www.LawSchoolExpert.net and http://lawschoolexpert@blogspot.com. Since starting LawSchoolExpert in 2004, Ms. Levine has helped more than 500 applicants gain acceptance to law school. Ms. Levine works one-on-one with law school applicants nationwide, calling upon her expertise as the former director of admission for two ABA law schools. She reviewed thousands of applications each year and was primarily responsible for making all admission decisions at Loyola Law School and California Western School of Law. She now uses this expertise to the benefit of applicants, helping them create applications that maximize their chances for admission.

1. Ask each law school on your list for a fee waiver. (But be wary of law schools that voluntarily offer you an application fee waiver)

2. Don’t buy the worst law school admission book I’ve ever read.

3. Don’t take the LSAT without preparing adequately for it, otherwise you’ll waste the cost of taking the exam, the opportunity cost of having missed out on the benefit of rolling admissions, and the potentially increased cost of having to sign up late in the game for LSAT prep courses. While some people are good standardized test takers and/or skilled at self-study, I’ve found that most law school applicants benefit from an LSAT prep course. Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.

4. Choose your schools wisely. Don’t waste application fees on schools that aren’t right for your qualifications and/or goals. Analyze location , apply to the appropriate number of schools, and choose some schools where your LSAT and GPA are at or above the 75th percentile for that school so you can (hopefully) receive some great scholarships and save some major money down the line.

5. Put 100% effort into the quality of your applications. Avoid having to re-apply to law school. Every year, I work with people who tried to apply the previous year and were disappointed with the results. Don’t let this happen to you – apply wisely so you don’t have to spend money to re-apply the following year, and you don’t want to delay the year of post-law-school income either.

6. Participate in one of my Free 1-hour Webinars. The next one, entitled “I’ve taken the LSAT; Now What?”, will be offered twice in October – October 1st at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST and October 6th at Noon EST/9 a.m. PST. Each webinar is limited to the first 15 registrants to assure that everyone has a chance to ask questions. To sign up, e-mail me at alevine@lawschoolexpert.net

7.Hire a Law School Admission Consultant. Seriously. Good advice is worth a lot. And that advice could save you from wasting money applying to the wrong schools, buying the wrong law school admission related books, taking the wrong prep course, using a letter of rec that kills you, submitting an inappropriate resume, and writing a trite or cliched personal statement. Hiring a law school admission consultant means doing it right the first time and saving money by increasing your chances for admission at more of the schools on your list, and increasing your chances for scholarships at more of the schools that admit you. Here are some tips for choosing a law school admission counselor.

Thanks, for that great post! If you’re interested in guest posting on The Frugal Law Student, please feel free to contact me.

A New Look For The Frugal Law Student

Written by Brett McKay

The Frugal Law Student has a new look. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, but felt I didn’t have the know how or time to create a new template. I was going to pay for someone to do it, but yesterday morning I decided not to go through with it because I didn’t know what I really wanted. But some how I started tinkering with some script. One hour turned to two, and two turned to eight, and before I knew it, I had a brand spanking new theme. Today I’ll have to hit the books hard to make up for the time I spent working on my blog.

The Theme

The theme was inspired by Nate at Average Joe Blogger. I recently found his site and was really taken with the design. I looked down at the footer on his blog and saw that his theme was based on Internet Center 1.0 Design by Luka Cvrk. I downloaded that and started tinkering with it a bit. Nate really was my muse for the new layout. I hope I changed it up enough so that it doesn’t look like I’m copying him.

Here’s some of the improvements I’m stoked about:

Cleaner look- The old theme felt really cluttered. The new site has a lot more white space, so it’s not as busy looking. I’m sticking with orange as the blogs main color, but I’ve also implemented a blue and green to the mix that complements the orange. The font I’ve picked for links is Century Gothic and it adds to the clean look I’m going for.

The third sidebar also helped reduce the cluttered look. There’s plenty of room now for adspace and navigation.

Easier Navigation- The big implementation for navigation was the addition of the picture menu at the top of the page. I’m breaking down posts into either personal finance, frugality, law school. productivity, and career. I figure people come to The Frugal Law Student looking for those things, so I should make it easier for them to find. Not all the posts are categorized yet, so bear with me.

The addition of the third sidebar should make things easier to navigate as well. In addition to displaying my most popular posts, I’m displaying my most recent articles, most recent comments, archives, and the expanded list of categories. Hopefully this will help people find what they’re looking more easily.

I’ve also created a “Best of…” page so people can find that without having to dig too much.

Improved Comments- I’ve added threaded comments, so readers will now be able to respond to each other’s comments easily. I’m trying to install MyAvatars, so people can have an avatar show up in the post, but I’m having some trouble with it. If anybody knows how this thing works, help would be appreciated. The sidebar is also displaying recent comments, so people can see what others have been saying about different posts.

Awesome new logo- I’m really proud of the new banner. I created it myself using GIMP. All those blogs on design I’ve been reading (i.e. Life Clever, Typographica) has really paid off. I’m thinking I might turn the logo into a T-shirt. What do you all think? Great idea or no dice?

What I learned during this experience

For starters, I finally learned how to use CSS. While I’ve messed around with PHP a bit, I never really saw the connection on how CSS works with HTML. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pro, but I at least feel comfortable now making customized blog templates with the assistance of a premade one.

I’m really amazed how far I’ve come in a year. When I started blogging, I new zilch about computer code or web design. Now I’m customizing templates. Who would have thought? It just goes to show when you’re passionate about something, nothing will get in the way at your success at it.

Speaking of being successful, I better hit the law books. That’s one area where I don’t want to fail!

What do you all think? Do you like the new design or should I go back to the old one?