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What To Do With Those Loan Refunds…

Written by Tony Marrone

Most of us have the great burden of having to finance our own higher education, and based on the rising cost of private graduate education, many law students are graduating with student loan debt reaching or exceeding the $200,000 mark.

The demanding course-load most law students endure makes it difficult (read: impossible) to go to school and work full-time. In order to help pay monthly expenses and survive with a decent standard of living during law school, I depend on my student loans refund at the beginning of each semester to help the fiancee and I survive.

The question is, how should you allocate the funds?

The Frugal Law Student’s Guide to Getting the Most From Student Loan Refunds

  • Step One: Budget your refund. You’re going to need to decide at the outset how much of your money you can allocate to expenses each month, and make sure your total expenses are less than your refund. I personally use You Need A Budget, I like the fact that it works on both Mac and PC (I use a MacBook, but the fiancee uses a Gateway and an HP). Whatever you decide to use, you won’t get far into the semester if you haven’t budgeted at the outset.
  • Step Two: Place the bulk of your money in a high-interest savings account. ING is running a promotion where you get $25 instantly placed into your account, when you open an account with an initial deposit of $250. (See link here). I use ING because I like their customer service. There are certainly plenty of other banks out there that offer higher interest rates.
  • Step Three: Take advantage of opportunities for free money from banks for opening accounts. The math is simple here: if ING is offering $25 for you to open an account by depositing $250, and Etrade is offering $25 for you to open an account by depositing $100, and you have well over $1,000 in your checking account “doing nothing”, go ahead and open an ING and Etrade account. Most of the promotions only require you to keep your cash in the bank for 30 days if you decide later to close the account.
  • Step Four: Only borrow what you need to live on. I’m not advocating you max-out your Grad Plus and Stafford loans so that you can invest your money in a 4% savings account. Based upon the time-value of money and the high-interest rates we pay on education loans, borrowing more than you need is a losing proposition. Even if you borrow excess money through your loans and invest aggressively and are successful, you’re really only talking about a nominal return, not even taking account the true value of the money you are borrowing (i.e., adjusting for inflation).

You need to plan ahead and be conservative when deciding how much money to borrow to finance your education costs. However, it is even more important to store the borrowed money wisely (not in canisters or buried inside your mattress) so that you can ease the pain that will later be brought on by high-interest rates during repayment.

4 Financial Benefits Of Part Time Law School

Written by Brett McKay

If you’re not sure you can afford law school, look into part time programs. With part-time law school programs, you can continue to work full time and you go to law school at night. Because you’re still working full time, you have some financial advantage over students who are going full time.

  1. You can contribute to retirement. Because you’ll still be earning an income, you can continue to contribute to your retirement account. While not contributing regularly for a few years may seem like not a big deal, the power of compound interest and the market may cause you to lose out on thousands of dollars in your retirement fund.
  2. You still might have access to health insurance. It’s a sad fact, but most students don’t have access to affordable health insurance. When you or a member of your family gets sick or injured, medical bills can set you back financially. Hopefully, with your job you have access to health insurance.
  3. You can take out fewer loans. You can offset the costs of your legal education by working. Instead of having to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans for living expenses, you only need to borrow what you’ll need to pay for tuition. If you make lots of money, you might be able to get away without taking any loans out.
  4. Flexible entrance requirements. If you didn’t do that well on the LSAT or have a dismal GPA, you might look into to part-time programs. Usually they’re much more lenient in admission standards. If you want to see if law school’s the right thing for you, with out making too much of a commitment in money and time, then a part-time program might be right for you.

What do you all think? Are there any other financial benefits of going to law school part time? Or do you think part time law school will actually hurt you financially? Later this week, I’ll be posting on the financial pitfalls of part time law school, so I’d love to have your input.

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[tags]law school, legal, debt, personal finance[/tags]

180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Financial Life Around 180 Degrees

Written by Brett McKay

Here’s a list of 180 money saving tips that can turn your financial life around 180 degrees. These are things that I have learned while reading blogs or other books. I’ve tried to provide links to blog posts and other articles that elaborate more on the tip. This was a fun exercise. While I personally don’t practice every single tip listed, it was a good way to find out how I can do better on saving money.

Automobile/Transportation

  1. Wash and vacuum your car at home.
  2. Buy a used car. New cars drop significantly in value as soon as you drive off the lot.
  3. Get rid of your car. If you’re married, just have one.
  4. Keep your tires inflated at the correct pressure.
  5. Do not carry unneeded weight in your vehicle. Excess weight puts a heavier load on the engine.
  6. Accelerate slowly and smoothly. Avoid jackrabbit starts. Get into high gear as quickly as possible.
  7. Use your air conditioner only when absolutely necessary.
  8. Avoid unnecessary stopping and braking. Maintain a steady pace.
  9. Do not rest your foot on the clutch or brake pedal. This causes needless wear and poor fuel economy.
  10. Keep the front wheels in proper alignment. Improper alignment not only causes faster tire wear, but also puts an extra load on the engine.
  11. Rotate your tires regularly. Rotating tires slows down tire wear.
  12. Wash your car regularly. A dirty car can damage paint.
  13. Avoid heavy traffic. You’ll save on gas by not idling as much.
  14. Change your own motor oil.
  15. Observe speed limits. You’ll save money on gas and avoid costly speeding tickets and the resulting increase in insurance rates.
  16. Pay your auto insurance premiums annually instead of every six months. You’ll get a lower rate.
  17. Use the bus to get to school or work.
  18. If possible, ride your bike or walk to your destinations.
  19. Carpool with co-workers.

Clothing

  1. Find an image consultant in your town and ask if you can have the clothes their clients get rid of.
  2. Don’t buy into trends. Keep a wardrobe of classic pieces, so you don’t have to update your clothes every year.
  3. Buy clothes at a thrift store.
  4. Wear clothes more than once before washing them. You’ll reduce wear on your clothes and save energy by not washing so often.
  5. Shop at outlet stores.
  6. Avoid buying clothes that require drying cleaning.
  7. Cut dryer sheets in half to double the value of each box.
  8. Buy your winter clothes at the end of winter/beginning of spring. Buy summer clothing at the end of summer/beginning of fall.
  9. Shop at discount stores like TjMax and Ross.

Food

  1. Forage for food. Check out a book on local edible plants and start stocking up on them.
  2. Buy a water filter and make your own bottled water.
  3. Buy bread at the bread outlet store and freeze excess loaves.
  4. Make meals that are left over friendly, like soups and casseroles.
  5. Join a food co-op.
  6. Make dinners in a crock pot
  7. Buy in bulk.
  8. If you buy soda, buy 2 liter bottles instead of cans. It’s much cheaper per unit price.
  9. Have potluck dinners.
  10. When you eat out, share meals. Most restaurant meals are big enough for two people.
  11. If you don’t have someone to share it with, split the meal and half and put when half in a to-go box for next day’s lunch.
  12. Skip the soda when you go out to eat, and drink water.
  13. Quit smoking.
  14. Make your own coffee. Better yet, stop drinking coffee.
  15. Quit drinking alcohol.
  16. Quit drinking soda.
  17. Find cheaper café’s and restaurants to go to.
  18. Cook your own meals.
  19. Take a list when you go shopping and stick to it.
  20. Buy generic brand products at the supermarket.
  21. Bring your lunch to school or work instead of buying it.
  22. Grow your own vegetables.
  23. Use coupons and loyalty cards at grocery stores.
  24. Reduce meat consumption.
  25. Eat cereal instead of fast food. It’s cheaper and usually healthier.
  26. Have a late lunch/early dinner when going out to eat. You can save on lunch menu items.
  27. Buy cheap food coupons on eBay.
  28. Join clubs at school and take advantage of free food at meetings.
  29. Don’t buy prepackaged cheese or meat. Go to the deli and have them slice it for you. You can get more for you money.
  30. Collect vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer. As soon as it’s full, make a soup out of them.
  31. Buy whole roasted chickens. When you have used all the meat, throw the bones into a soup.

Housing

  1. House sit. Older affluent couples often leave their house for months at a time for vacations and need someone to watch it while they’re gone. Not only can you get free rent, you might get some extra cash.
  2. Become live in help. Some older people need help around the house, someone to cook meals for them, or just someone to talk to. You can live rent free this way.
  3. Relocate to an area with a cheaper cost of living.
  4. Share an apartment. Better yet, move in with your in-laws.
  5. Make an extra mortgage payment each year. You can save money on interest.

Household

  1. Buy furniture at a consignment store.
  2. If you need a tool, see if you can borrow it from someone before you go out and buy it.
  3. Don’t throw away “dead” batteries. Remove them from your radio and use them in quartz clocks. These clocks take such a small amount of power that batteries too weak to run anything else may have enough power to run a clock for a while.
  4. Wash and reuse plastic bags.
  5. Clean your own carpets. You can rent carpet cleaning machines for about $10.

Health Care

  1. If you take a prescription medication on a regular basis, ask your doctor to write a three month prescription. Instead of paying three co-pays, you only pay one.
  2. Go to the dentist at your local dental school. Students need people to practice on. You can get all your dental needs fulfilled at a reduced cost.
  3. If your doctor gives you a prescription, ask if he has samples that he could give you.
  4. Use your local park’s playground as a workout station. Monkey bars can be used for pull-ups and leg lifts. The park will also have a trail where you can run.
  5. If you go to school, use the school’s gym. It’s free.
  6. Brush and floss your teeth. You’ll save on dental expenses.
  7. Eat right and exercise daily. You’ll reduce health costs.
  8. If you join a gym, find one that offers a month to month contract. That way if for some reason you stop going, you won’t be stuck with a 1 year contract that you have to pay for.

Beauty and Hygiene

  1. Use baking soda for toothpaste.
  2. Use baby shampoo for a makeup remover.
  3. Buy makeup online.
  4. Use makeup samples.
  5. Don’t throw out small pieces of bar soap. Wet the small piece and the new bar and stick them together.
  6. Add water to your shampoo to get more uses.
  7. Stop using shaving cream. Shaving cream’s purpose is just to keep your beard wet. You can maintain a wet beard in the shower.
  8. Cut your own hair.
  9. Simplify your beauty products. Do you really need 5 different types of body lotions?

Travel

  1. Pack your travel meals in advance.
  2. Buy snacks at the grocery store, not at roadside convenience stores.
  3. Plan trips where you have friends and family. You might be able to score free room and board.
  4. Go camping.
  5. Stay at a college dorm room when traveling. Many universities rent out dorm rooms at a decent price during the summer.
  6. Book your flights and cruises way in advance. You can get lower prices.
  7. Always negotiate hotel room prices. Hotel rooms are like highly perishable food: if they’re not used that day, they’re wasted. You can almost always get a better deal just by asking, but do it with a nice smile face-to-face when you check in, or with friendly calls direct to the hotels you’re considering. It won’t work if you just call national 800 numbers, because they can’t negotiate. If your flight is overbooked and the airline offers a voucher if you take a later flight, take it.
  8. When flying, bring your own snacks. Airport food is expensive.
  9. Avoid renting a car at the airport. You’ll find more competitive rates, plus avoid extra surcharges at car rental agencies away from the convenience of the airport.
  10. Time your stay for best hotel deals. Plan the timing of your stay according to the type of place you visit. Hotels in cities are usually cheaper on the weekends, when business travelers aren’t staying there, but hotels in resort areas or other places that are popular with leisure travelers are often cheaper during the week
  11. Tourist spots sell everything from film — to capture those special moments — to sunscreen, bottled water and aspirin for prolonging your fun, at a higher cost. Purchase these items before and save.
  12. Travel after peak season. This might not be an option if you have school-age children. But families with infants and toddlers can take advantage of discounted rates by traveling in the fall.
  13. Bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport. Bottled water at airports is expensive. While you can’t bring any liquids past security, you can bring an empty bottle. Put it in your carry on and fill it up as soon as you get past security.
  14. Stay in hostels when traveling overseas. While you do have to share a bathroom and a room, you can stay for as little as $5.
  15. If you need a quick get away with your significant other, spend a night in your local bed and breakfast.

Entertainment

  1. Buy an Entertainment book. The initial investment is about $20, but there’s hundreds of dollars in entertainment savings in it.
  2. Join Gamefly for cheap video game renting.
  3. Trade video games, DVD’s and books with your friends.
  4. Start a book or film club. After reading the book or watching the film, discuss it.
  5. Have a game night with friends.
  6. Attend movies at dollar theaters.
  7. Take advantage of your local university. Colleges often have free entertainment events.
  8. Join the library.
  9. Read magazines for free at bookstores.
  10. Check out DVD’s from the library, rather than renting them from the video store.
  11. Find cheaper hobbies like blogging or jogging.
  12. Go on a hike, take a walk in the park, or go to the beach. Some of the nicest things to do in life are totally free.
  13. See if your local zoos, museums, entertainment parks and water parks have annual passes. Often the annual passes may not cost more than the price of a couple of visits.
  14. Save money on movies by going to the matinée.
  15. Watch amateur sports. High school athletic competitions are cheap and can be just as exciting as the pros.

Banking and Investing

  1. Start an automatic savings plan with your bank.
  2. Use your credit card to make all purchases, but pay it off each month. That you’ll earn cash back or travel points.
  3. Invest in index funds. There are hardly any costs in purchasing and owning index funds.
  4. Open an online savings account. Most online accounts offer a 4% interest rate. That’s much better than the 1% you get at your current bank. E-mail me for an ING referral.
  5. Avoid ATM fees. Only withdraw money from machines approved by your bank. 7-11 doesn’t have a surcharge.
  6. Pay bills by direct debit. You save on postage and avoid the risk of paying late fees.
  7. If you use checks, don’t buy them from the bank. You can get a better deal with other printing companies.
  8. Don’t overdraft on your account. You’ll save yourself money on penalties.
  9. Invest with a cheap online brokerage company like Sharebuilder.

Children

  1. Buy gender neutral baby clothing so you can use them again with the next baby.
  2. Make your kids Halloween costumes. It’s cheaper and more fun.
  3. Buy your baby toys from the thrift store. Toys suck these days. Give your child the gift of old school toys that actually requires an imagination.
  4. Buy your baby’s and tot’s clothes from the thrift store. Your kid isn’t going to notice the difference between a thrift store onezy and a Gap onezy.

Utilities

  1. Use a clothes liner to dry clothes. You’ll save on your energy bill.
  2. Replace old appliances with ones that have Energy Star approval.
  3. Regularly clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator. A clean coil uses less energy.
  4. Make sure your freezer is full. An empty freezer requires more energy to keep cold.
  5. Use washable coffee mug instead of Styrofoam. You’ll save money and help the environment.
  6. Replace all your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent lighting.
  7. Turn off the lights when not using a room.
  8. Turn off your appliances when not using them.
  9. Don’t use a cell phone.
  10. If you have a cell phone, don’t buy the extra features like text messaging and web access.
  11. If you have a cell phone, get rid of your land line.
  12. Get rid of cable. Who needs 100 channels of crap?
  13. Use the internet at school or the library. Not only will you save money, you’ll save time.
  14. During the winter, leave the oven open after you cook to heat the house.
  15. Sign up for Skype for long distant phone calls.
  16. Turn your heater thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in the summer.

Miscellaneous

  1. Get a digital camera. You save money on film.
  2. Don’t own a pet. You’ll save money on food and shots.

Shopping

  1. Avoid impulse buying. Practice tantric shopping.
  2. Buy as much as you can online.
  3. Negotiate the price on big ticket items like cars, electronics, and large appliances.
  4. Use cash as a negotiating tool. Nothing makes a seller’s mouth water than cold hard cash in their hand.
  5. Before you buy something, ask if the item will be put on sale in the near future.
  6. Don’t buy extended warranties. Eighty percent are never used, and they’re a major profit item for the vendor. That’s why they push you so hard to buy them!
  7. Keep receipts and send in rebate slips. Very few consumers actually return rebate coupons. Which is, of course, exactly what the manufacturers are hoping for.

Low cost ways of making extra money

  1. Sell your old stuff, like CD’s and books on eBay and Amazon.
  2. Turn your hobby into a business. Pretty much anything you do can be turned into a business of some sort.
  3. Sign up with an online survey company like Survey Spot.
  4. Become a mystery shopper. Not only can you make some extra money, you might get some free stuff as well.
  5. Have a yard sell.
  6. Start a blog and put Adsense on it. You might only earn 4 cents a week, but it’s something.
  7. Become a consultant. Do you know a lot about a particular skill? Put that knowledge to work by helping others.
  8. Do freelance work on the side. If you’re a good writer, photographer, artist, or programmer you can make some extra money by selling your talent to companies.
  9. Start an errand Service. Offer to pick up groceries or dry cleaning for others.
  10. Waiting service. People these days don’t have time to wait on the plumber of cable guy. Charge by the hour to do the waiting for other people.

School

  1. Check out study supplements from the library. Don’t buy them.
  2. Buy used text books.
  3. Take advantage of free pens and pencils at business conferences.
  4. Keep track of your pens and pencils. You’ll spend less on them if you don’t lose them all the time.
  5. Buy back packs that your kids can use for years. While they might think the Sponge Bob Square pants one is cool in 2nd grade, they probably won’t think it’s cool in 4th.

Computers

  1. Use open source software like OpenOffice for your computing needs. Here’s a huge list of all the open source software you’ll ever need.
  2. Refill ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.
  3. Print off your documents in draft mode. It’s faster and saves ink.
  4. Use free online storage for all your digital storage needs.
  5. When you buy new computers or printers, keep the old cables. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

Gifts

  1. Make your own greeting cards.
  2. Make your own wrapping paper.
  3. Agree with family and friends to NOT buy each other Christmas presents this year.
  1. Offer to give a service, like a night of free babysitting as a gift, instead of buying stuff.
  2. Give baked goods. Everyone loves cookies!
  3. Learn the art of the re-gift. If you get something that you don’t like, keep it and give it to someone else later. However be careful to keep track of who gave you what. You don’t want to give a gift back to somebody.

Can you think of any more? Add to the conversation!
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Featured Resources

A great way to avoid spending extra Money is by avoiding Credit Card Offers that have a high Interest Rate. When you signup with a new Credit company be sure to check their APR rates and find out if a free Balance Transfer option can help you save money.
[tags]saving, frugality, personal finance, clothing, food, cars, beauty, health care [/tags]

Interview With Legal Andrew About Managing Law School Debt

Written by Brett McKay

Andrew Flusche is the creator of the excellent blog Legal Andrew. Andrew just recently graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law and is preparing for the bar exam. (Boo.) He will be working for the public service group, American Life League, doing something he’s passionate about. Andrew is one the most passionate bloggers I’ve met. He always produces quality posts on legal productivity and improving your blogging. He also has the coolest blog layout I’ve ever seen. Andrew was kind enough to answer some questions on what he is doing to mitigate his crippling law school debt.

1) How much law school debt have your racked up?

My total education debt amounts to a small mortgage. The grand total approaches $140,000. About 9% of that is undergrad; the rest is from law school. I believe that’s a bit above average, even for UVa Law. We encountered some medical expenses in the past three years (such as my spontaneous pneumothorax), so we received some extra loans to help with that.

2) What action or habit do you think saved you the most money while in law school?

Taking the bus to and from school. As you know, sharing one car with your spouse is a great way to save money. My wife and I have had only one car since we got married (right before law school). Our apartment is right on the city bus line. I take a city bus for 15 minutes, then switch to a university bus for another couple of minutes. Everyone affiliated with the university gets to ride all the buses for free. It’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of it. If you’re looking for a place to live, really think about public transportation options. You just can’t ignore free transportation, especially with gas prices these days. Besides, you’ll help the environment a bit.

3) If you have student loan debt, when would you like to pay it off? How do you plan on reaching your goal?

I’d like to pay it off before I die. I say that laughingly, but the men in my family don’t live too long. A 30-year repayment plan might not reach my “before I die” goal. In reality, I’m extremely lucky. UVa Law has a great loan forgiveness program. Since I’m going to be in public service, the school will pay my law school loans for me. I’ll put my law school loans on a 10-year repayment plan. Assuming I stay in public service for 10 years, the school will keep on paying. I have to contribute some, if my salary is over $35,000. But it’s still a great deal. My undergrad loans will be on a 15-year plan, but I’d like to knock them out in 10 years as well.

4) What other personal financial goals have you set for yourself?

My biggest finance goal right now is to start saving. As soon as I start working full-time, we’re going to setup automatic savings debits, as well as contributions to a retirement account. They might start out at only $20 a month, but it will give us a start. I think that’s important; save regularly, even if it seems like chicken feed. Other than that, we want to buy a small starter home. This might be a year or two away, but it’s definitely a goal.

5) What is your weakness in regards to your personal finances and how do you think you can improve it?

Food. You’d be surprised how much two people could spend on food, between groceries, eating out, coffee, snacks, etc. A “good” month of food expenses for us is about $900. The main problem is dinner. If you can find the perfect way to have affordable, easy, tasty meals, you’d be a rich guy.

6) I know you’re big into GTD. How do you manage your finances? Do you have a system like GTD? Is there a particular software you use to keep track of your money?

I don’t know how closely my financial system resembles GTD. We track everything with Microsoft Money, so we can review spending habits and stay on top of bills. I try to follow the “2 minute rule,” by paying bills as soon as I open them. This keeps them from piling up or accidentally being paid late. Receipts get entered a couple times a week. Paychecks are on direct deposit, so they’re in the bank without effort.

7) What do you think is the biggest money mistake law students make?

This will sound hypocritical, but buying food at school is nuts. I’ve bought my share of soft drinks, but buying lunch there every day could easily amount to $30-40 per week. It’s much cheaper to bring a sandwich or some leftovers from dinner. Heck, even a Stouffer’s frozen dinner would save money.

8)Do you have any suggestions to other law students regarding their personal finances?

Cut back on unnecessary expenses. Do you really need to buy a new car with your summer associate earnings? Do you need the latest and greatest cell phone? Heck, do you need a cell phone at all? I’ve lived without one just fine. What about cable TV? Try Netflix or something instead. And look for casebooks on Amazon or ask to borrow them from a friend. That can save a couple hundred bucks a semester, if you’re lucky.

Thanks, Andrew for taking the time to answer these questions! Stop by Legal Andrew today and look around his site. You’re sure to find something useful and informative.

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[tags] Legal Andrew, law school, debt, saving, frugal[/tags]

Book Review: Generation Debt

Written by Brett McKay


I first heard about Anya Kamenetz’s book, Generation Debt, during an interview with her on NPR. I was interested in her argument that Generation X and Generation Y have a good chance of being the first generation in America to be worse off then their preceding (Boomer) generation.

The main argument of Generation Debt is that because of higher education costs and lowering wages, young people face the prospect of not achieving a middle class life style. Kamenetz mixes statistics with anecdotal stories that show the disparaging circumstances young people. Many of the stories were heartbreaking and they all had the same theme: Boy or girl has dream of going to college and starting a career. Dream crushed by rising costs of college and stagnating wages.

What I liked about Generation Debt
I though Kamenetz made a strong argument for financial aid reform. The recent Sallie Mae scandals made her book even more relevant. If America wants to be competitive in the future, the government is going to have to invest much more in education than what it is investing now.

I also agreed Kamenetz that young people need to adjust their expectations. Everybody doesn’t have to go to college to be a success. For many young people it can be waste of time and money. Many of the people she interviewed in her book took on thousands of dollars in student loans in order to go to school. However, the only reason they were going was because that’s what every young person is supposed to do. By the time they realize college isn’t from them, they’ve accumulated $10,000 in student loans. Instead of just encouraging college, parents and counselors should also encourage vo-tech. I don’t know why vo-tech is so stigmatized. I know plenty of people who have gone to v0-tech, learned a trade, and are making a decent living. Both college and trade schools should be seen as equally viable steps to earning a living.

My Beefs With Generation Debt
I guess it’s the classical liberal in me, but I felt Kamenetz put too much blame on society/corporations/government for young people’s debt problems and not enough on the individual. For example, she argues because young people are the most advertised to demographic, young people are taking on more debt to buy stuff. I just don’t buy this argument. It’s called personal responsibility. I find it rather insulting to our generation that we’re dumb enough to buy stuff just because an advertiser says we need to.

Additionally, she makes the case against credit card companies preying on college students by giving out t-shirts and beer coozies. Yes, credit card companies market heavily to college students, but they’re not holding a gun to their head sign up. If you’re dumb enough to trade t-shirt for access to high interest rate debt, then you deserve to pay the bill. Perhaps it’s a fault, but I have no sympathy for young people with credit card debt, especially when the debt is for eating out, CD’s, travel, ect.

I also wish Kamenetz had more examples of young people making responsible financial decisions. Most of the book is filled with bad examples of young people spending money on iPods and vacations they can’t afford. It wasn’t until the end that she discussed young people who are living frugally and saving for the future. The discussion, however, was only a few pages.

Do I Recommend it?
Overall the book was… eh… Kamentz makes some good arguments about the rising costs of college education and the need for the government to invest more in education. However, I was turned off by her slightly whining tone. She made the young people sound like victims of forces they can’t control. However, many of the cases appeared just to be victims of bad personal decisions. I don’t think I would recommend someone to read the whole book. Rather, I would just direct their attention to the chapter discussing the situation of education costs.

[tags] Generation Debt, debt, Anya Kamenetz[/tags]

Top 5 Ways to Save Money While in School

Written by Brett McKay


This is my contribution to ProBlogger’s top 5 group writing project. Go by, read the submissions, and contribute a post as well.

Like most young students, I’m poor. My wife and I are always looking for ways to save money so we can mitigate our already high student debt load. Here’s a list of the 5 things that I have found that have helped us save the most money.

  1. Live with your parents. Right now, my wife and I are living with her parents. This has been our biggest money saver. It’s worked out rather well for us and my in-laws. We have rent free housing and they get in home service. My wife cleans the house and makes dinner for them every once in awhile and I take care of landscaping and the recyclables.
  2. Don’t own a car or if you’re married, just own one. My wife and I just own one car. I got rid of mine when we married. We save on insurance and maintenance. Besides the savings sharing a car has given us time to talk between our busy schedules.
  3. Bring your lunch to campus. I’m surprised by the number of law students who go out to eat every day. If the average meal is $5, that means that many students are dropping $100 a month just on lunch. My average home brought lunch costs probably a $1, some time less.
  4. Buy used textbooks. Buying new is for suckers. Buying used law school text books can be tricky though because publishers come out with new editions frequently. It’s OK to not buy the newest edition. The reality it that there’s not much difference between the older and new editions. If there is something new, just read it in a friend’s text book.
  5. Take advantage of free food at club meetings. There’s always a club meeting somewhere on campus on any day of the week. Often at these meetings there’s free food. Stop by, enjoy the speaker, and load up on grub. In addition to bring your own lunch, this is another great way to reduce your food budget.

Featured Resources

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