Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Advanced Frugality For College Students and Full-Timers

This will probably wrap up the frugality special for Chuckie's Blurbs for right now. I might do another special in the future, but it will mainly cover different strategies on finding ways to save money. Last time I talked about saving money to invest. Now I am going to talk about saving money in order to invest in yourself. It is the ultimate investment you can do. While many people will feel that investing in the market or buying precious metals is not for them, fear not! There are tons and tons of ways to make money on the information superhighway. If that is not the route you wish to travel you can still make money at your job while keeping your costs low. Note that you will have to eliminate a few other bills before trying this. I am not going to give you a fish, I will teach you instead.

In the job market there is a hierarchical system that offers you a "since of security", but one should not totally rely on a security blanket for long. Like I mentioned before, events that are beyond your control can and will happen. I do not advocate totally depending on one pay check so here is how to buffer yourself against the impending financial collapse. This is mainly for people that want to stay in school and wish to stay with their employers for whatever reason.

For Blue Collar Workers

This is probably a no-brainer if you are working full time. You need to reduce your bills to the point so you can create a nest egg. If you are happy working for someone else, there is little I can do to convince you that you will not make as much as people that are educated and are white collared workers right? Contrary to popular belief you can perhaps get further ahead than the general public who cannot balance a bank statement for the life of them. If your income is at a set wage, you should be more attuned to saving money than other people. You can join a union if there is benefit to getting a higher wage. Note that the best way to get ahead is to make connections within the workforce. These days it is not what you know, it is who you know. And nothing could be further from the truth. While you will never be the next Buffett working at a 9-5, you do not have to be buckled down with meaningless bills. Most people think that you need a million dollars to retire, but, I would say that most people do not have the willingness to make sacrifice. Honestly, if you want to make this amount of money while working, then blue collar jobs are not for you. You need to enter the white collar or business sector.

While brown bagging your lunch is often a good idea, this is basic frugality and there will be no strategic talk about what you should buy. You should already be targeting the most healthy items for the lowest price. The main focus for you should be eliminating transportation issues. If you work far away, use the principles from Intermediate Frugality to earn real money by following the budget and stick to it.

Barter For Services Instead of Using Money

Out of 7.2 billion people on the face of this planet I find it hard to believe that each person does not have some sort of unique innate talent. And out of those people as William Easterly puts it,"People respond to incentives". If you can make a website and need a ride to work and there is someone that wants one built at work, consider trading skills for resources. In frugality, the main goal is to keep the money you put in the bank, in the bank. The other is to be able to invest whatever you put in the bank. There are some investments that you can do as a blue collar, but you are extremely limited. In you get the courage, build up a client list, save up to roughly 40,000 to 50,000 dollars and start your own small practice. If you can earn money, make sure most of the transactions are cash. You can also barter a little, but I think the main goal is to take what you have earned and make more money. bartering will only get you items you need or want. Frugality is to help you obtain these goals. You can earn a steady paycheck in your practice and having a job as well. I know of many people who own vending services and C-stores that pull down six figures annually.

See you do not have to be an investor per se for this to work. you just have to know the meaning of sacrifice. Want to live comfortably? Take the time to do a all or nothing strategy with payments down the road. People love cash, hate deadbeats, and want more now. True they can make more money by simply collecting all the payments down the road, but that is not feasible at times. In fact, if you pay cash for everything, business owners usually give huge discounts on product that you are purchasing. Take a car for example, you can probably get the money down payment lowered if you negotiate him down with cash. Also credit scores do not matter if you have 6 or 7 figures in the bank. Most people will only ask "do you want to buy it?"

Frugality for Students

When I was going to college, I had the hardest time getting a job mainly because I was going to school for more than full time. There are a lot of young and old people who value college, but college does not guarantee success. True, it will make you a more productive worker ant and greatly reduce your chances of getting laid off and you will carry yourself in a different manner than when you first go in, but unless you want to do some sort of hard science or advance degree, do not expect a 80K per year job when you come out. Those days are long gone. But if you are determined to get a degree and it is truly on your dream list (it was on mine!), then by all means go for it. You do not need a degree to get ahead now thanks to being able to substitute experience for knowledge. Many employers are starting to weigh degrees less and less and now there is a chance that you will be able to earn the same amount as someone without a degree. If you are getting a degree to get a job, you need to make sure that the degree you are trying to get will help you obtain your dream job.

Education is not limited to degrees though. When I say this, I want you to understand that while I am not in my "dream job" I am not starving either. I have a dream list and I have accomplished 99% of them because I put in time and effort. One of my dreams is to speak Japanese on the native level which will lead to translation opportunities. Before I came back from Okinawa, I actually landed a full time job as a interpreter for the Christian church over in Japan but I declined the offer because I wanted to get a double major in International Affairs and History.

These days, certifications will actually lead to more financial opportunities than the Old Boy program. I will probably get some hate mail here. but the more you have in skills that have a high demand, the more likely you will be able to earn more money. Right now programming languages and computer graphics are in demand along with nanotechnology. So a four year degree form those fields will lead to steady money if you are interested in it. If you are not, the quality of your work will be poor and it will only lead to a waste of time because you will not want to do it in the future.

The most important thing to do is plan ahead. If you are young and are reading this, then obviously getting a job while in high school should be your goal. You should also try to get some under the table work and put the money away. When you do this save from freshman year to senior year. More than likely it will be at minimum wage, but you should able to save enough for college for at least the first two years. Afterwards, do not enter college right away unless you have scholarships to cover the other half of your studies. This means that in order to save for college, you might have to work 5 years and not have the luxury of buying stuff that loses value, but investing in yourself will only cause you to flourish and society and live a well balanced life. It will also help you keep an open mind and give you a chance to think about investing and give way to credible research. Frugality is the best way to reach this goal, not mommy and daddy. Frugal people are independent; not self-dependant. If you have a trust fund, then work to build up security while going to school. You will be able to travel leaps and bounds if you have the cash to do so.

When in college, remember that the object is to keep your money in the bank. You will experience losses in earnings while being in college, so you need to prepare for that. Consider going to community college first then transfer to a 4 year afterwards. You will cut costs substantially by following this advise. Also do not buy all of your textbooks from the store. They will rip you off and overcharge you the value of the text book. If you can get a friend's e-book file of the textbook, ask if you can download his/her's copy. And sometimes the book stores put the e-books on file in order to sell them at a cheaper rate than the hard copy text book. Find a apartment (preferably a studio) close to campus so you do not get ripped off on their parking. Remember that the best way top save money is to not waste money. Shed unwanted bills and do not fall for any of the credit card gimmicks that is often regurgitated by Chase or MasterCard: they make their money by keeping you in debt. They did not build their business off of rich people-- they often pay in cash.

I bypassed all the campus scams and came away with little debt, but if I had to do it over again, I might of taken less classes. Other than that, I have no regrets. I did however make the mistake of getting a student loan when I could have broken up the semester payment into 3 chunks. They do not tell you about that. Often you have to inquire about alternative payment options. There is no use in going broke over stuff that does not matter. If there is a option, use it if it will keep you out of debt. Overall, if you are following a budget and the strategies in the Frugality special, you should not be experiencing any difficulties in paying your tutition.