Can You Build Wealth in College?

Generally speaking, college is not a place where you’d imagine building wealth. Typically, students who graduate college often owe thousands of dollars of student debt to their lenders. With all the expenses related to college, the frugal lifestyle can be difficult to achieve and it seems more likely you’ll be owing more money than you have after hanging up your cap and gown. However, there are ways you can actually build wealth in college if you’re a student. It just takes determination and a financially disciplined lifestyle to arrive at that goal, but it is possible.

Some of the multiple ways you can increase your net worth while in college include applying for scholarships and grants which will reduce how much you take out in loans. Setting up a routine where you apply weekly for scholarships will increase your chances of winning one as long as you continue to be persistent. Organizing your scholarship search and identifying the ones that’ll give you a greater chance of victory is a wise move. This is a basic, yet helpful, way to reducing the cost of college. The idea behind building wealth, after all, is limiting your expenses and increasing the amount of income you generate.

Another avenue to building wealth is investing. This can be beneficial especially for those studying economics or business. Learning about the markets and investing in stocks and bonds can be a great way to kickstart your financial growth. These assets can be bought and held on to even after graduating college and then sold once the share price has risen to a suitable level. If your major is related to finances in someway, researching the markets and getting into the investment game is a great way to learn things that might not be covered in the class room. But even if you’re not in a financial field, putting away any discretionary income into an investment account can provide some nice rewards in the future.

If you do feel overwhelmed financially and have applied to all the scholarships you can find, it might be a good idea to check out various crowdfunding sites that offer financial help for various issues. Sites like GoFundMe can allow registered members to create a campaign where you communicate your issue to the public and they donate funds for your cause, whether that’s to help pay for your last semester in college or provide housing for the homeless. As mentioned before, building wealth in college also means reducing your expenses and oftentimes crowdfunding sites can provide a decent amount of cash that won’t have to be repaid unlike student loans.

Another great option to building wealth is setting up a savings account with the highest APY you can find and contributing to it on a monthly basis. Building an emergency fund in a high yield savings account can help you pay for unforeseen expenses that would otherwise limit your ability to increasing your net worth. Typically, finding an online bank which doesn’t have the same expenses as a brick and mortar institution will offer higher yielding rates, but there are some credit unions that shouldn’t be passed up, so it’s a good idea to do your research.

If you would like to learn more ways to save in college, visit for more information.

Is Not Keeping Up with the Joneses Boring?

We’ve been on a journey to pay off our debt for 3.5 years now.  At first, we were gazelle intense, but then I burned out from working too hard, so we slowed down on the debt repayment.

Last year, we moved to Arizona from Illinois, so our money became much tighter as we faced unexpected moving expenses.  (Aren’t there always unexpected expenses when making such a long move?)

To make matters worse, in the first 3.5 months of 2015, we’ve faced $5,000 in unexpected car repairs and dental bills.

The good news is that even though we haven’t made significant debt repayment progress over the last year, we’ve been able to pay for all of these most recent expenses in cash, without going further into debt.

Boring JonesesBasically, each year for the last 3.5 years, our budget has become tighter and tighter.  We’ve definitely NOT kept up with the Joneses.

Yet, we’ve not found this type of life boring.

We Appreciate Splurges More

If anything, living this way makes us appreciate a “treat” that we used to take for granted.  For instance, I homeschool my kids, and my daughters recently completed preschool and kindergarten.  They were both very excited about moving on to kindergarten and first grade, respectively, so my husband and I decided to take the family out for a treat.

We went to our favorite restaurant.  We went for breakfast, so the bill would be cheaper, and we used a $25 gift card that we had gotten at Christmas and saved.  Because we had not gone out to eat in about five months, the kids were beyond thrilled.  All of us enjoyed the meal greatly.

Because we haven’t gone out to eat in so long, doing so was a special treat.

Before we got on a budget and started paying down debt, we often went out to eat three or four times a week.  Honestly, because we did it so often, going out to eat had become boring.  Now, because we don’t do it very often, we appreciate the meal when we do go out.

Because we have simplified our lives, we are able to enjoy special occasions much more.

We Have Plenty of Fun—For Free

Just because we aren’t keeping up with the Jones and are on a budget doesn’t mean we aren’t having fun.  Just this week, my mom was in town for a visit.  We took her to a national park, which had free admission that day.  We watched artisans make homemade tortillas and weave baskets.  We listened to a local band, and we got an excellent tour of the site.  Before heading home, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grounds.

Last month we went to the Tucson Festival of Books.  There was so much to do (for free!) that we stayed over five hours.  We could have stayed even longer.

Going on a tight budget and deciding NOT to keep up with the Jones can be difficult at first.  Now, however, we’ve done it for so many years that we find living this way actually improves our quality of life.


Giveaways: Budget Stretcher or Waste of Time?

Giveaways are nothing new.  Just read a handful of blogs and you’ll likely find plenty of giveaways.  But are they worth the time and effort?  Can you ever win something good?

I’ll be honest, my husband and I are digging out of a hole of debt.  The good news is that we’ve paid off over half of our debt.  Yeah!

However, we’ve reached a point where we firmly refuse to acquire any new debt.  Meanwhile, our car is 10 years old and has 150,000 miles on it, our 10 year old needs braces, and we’ve just had nearly $2,000 in medical and dental work. . .

Our money is stretched to the max.

GiveawaysSo, I decided to try my hand at giveaways.

Right now, we just don’t have a lot of extra money to pay for presents and fun items for the kids, so I thought giveaways could be a good way to get some of the luxuries we can’t afford.

So far, in three months (December through February), I’ve won 5 prizes:

  • A $50 Visa gift card
  • A board game for my 10 year old ($29.95 RV)
  • A $10 bookstore gift card
  • A movie
  • A book

During these past three months, I entered 47 giveaways, meaning I won 10% of the giveaways I entered.  Not bad.

How Much Time Do I Spend Entering Giveaways

I know there are some people that spend A LOT of time entering giveaways, but I don’t have time for that.  Instead, I enter giveaways once or twice a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time.  I often enter the giveaways when my kids are watching television in the afternoon (they get an hour a day of tv time), or in the evening when I’m too tired to do anymore work.  (Unlike just vegging and watching Netflix, entering giveaways has the prospect of giving me something back.)

I don’t enter giveaways just to enter giveaways.  Instead, I focus on ones that offer cash or gift cards (though these are the most competitive and difficult to win), ones that have products my kids would like or that would make nice gifts, and ones that offer homeschool curriculum.

If you want to start entering giveaways, deciding what you would like to focus on winning is a good way to limit the amount of time you spend entering giveaways.

Where I Find Giveaways to Enter

To maximize my time entering giveaways, I try to enter ones that have low entries.

I have found some Facebook groups to join where people advertise their giveaways.

Another site I love is Tightwad in Utah.  She lists low entry giveaways that are ending in the next week.

If you’d like to enter giveaways and don’t really care if they’re low entry or not, you can use this link or this link to find linkies for giveaways from a wide array of bloggers.

Finally, if there is a blogger who routinely offers the types of giveaways you’d like to win, make sure to come back and visit the site regularly.  Chances are that entry requirements for the giveaway are to like the site’s Facebook or Twitter pages.  Just do this once, and for every subsequent giveaway on that blog, you’ve already met those requirements.

I don’t expect to get rich from entering giveaways or even to be able to supply all of my kids’ presents.  However, it is nice to get free stuff in the mail, especially if some of it can be used to offset the expense of Christmas and birthday presents.

Do you enter giveaways?  Why or why not?  If you do, how much success have you had?  How much time do you spend entering giveaways?