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Student Housing Property: A Sound Investment

Posted on May 5, 2016 with No comments
Since the number of university students in the whole world has considerably increased in the last few decades, there are new opportunities for investors in different areas concerning students and their needs. The liveliest market at the moment is definitely the student housing market. Due to that fact that campuses and dorms cannot accommodate all the students, there is a growing demand for affordable private rental properties. Here is where investors and students should be looking for sound investment opportunities.

Fund stakeholder

By becoming a student housing fund stakeholder, you do not have to invest any large sums of money while having a chance to earn some. Also, here you share the profits and responsibility with other people. That way your money is not directly exposed to market issues, but all the stakeholders make their decision together.

Although the return on this investment is not as high as it would be if you were the only investor, here you can scale your investment in accordance with your financial situation and predictions, which is a perfect option for a student. You might be able to buy a property in the housing unit your fund has financed, but you could also decide to keep making money from the profits the fund makes.

Mortgage availability

Banks are not too open-minded when it comes to students and mortgages. If you have not finished your studies yet, banks do not have any sort of guarantee that you will pay back your mortgage. However, there are still some options for students who want to get their own property during studies. What students need to do is to contact the lenders and banks that give a chance to young students to get a home of their own.

Although this sounds like an SF-scenario, the growing number of students makes financial institutions change their policies, too. Of course, students will need to make a deposit payment or find a guarantor with a property that will serve as a proof that you will be paying your mortgage installments regularly. You can read more about those new conditions on the student housing market in this piece.

Buying considerations

Let's say that you have been granted a mortgage or you have saved enough assets to buy your own place. The sole act of buying a property has to be thought through well ahead, in order to avoid any tricks and frauds. Firstly, you should choose the location that will not waste your time. This also means that you should analyze the future potential of the location and the property itself, claim asset advisory specialists.

Secondly, the type of the property also plays an important role. Buying a flat means fewer demands in the future when it comes to maintenance. However, if you have cash, it would be wise to consider buying a house. That way you can rent a part of the place and make some profits along the way. 

Finally, if you are buying a property of your own, you should bear in mind that you might need to sell it if you have to move when you find a job. This is why students should never buy properties in less attractive areas, only because they can get a few more square feet in such parts, but go for more attractive parts where the price of the property will rise.

Buying a home is never an easy option. Even families with children are often uncertain whether or not they will be able to make the ends meet if they decide to buy a property, let alone students. On the other hand, it is always cleverer to invest money in a real estate than to waste it. If you are investing your money in a well-maintained place in a prosperous neighborhood, you will not regret it and it might even bring some profit in the future.


Arranging Task Lights for Optimal Learning in College

Posted on Apr 20, 2016 with No comments
Productivity is without a doubt one of the most important features of every successful learning process. It is influenced by numerous factors, some that are variable and need to be constantly monitored and some whose level of influence can be significantly determined by the initial setting.

One of these fundamentals whose impact is consistent on a daily basis are task lights. Here is how to arrange them in such a manner that they provide conditions for optimal learning.

Use as much natural light as possible

Natural light is well known for its contribution in setting a productive environment and making the best of what you have available is the first thing that needs to be provided. Not only does natural light make a study space more pleasant to be in, it improves health and mood of a student, which in return have a positive influence on productivity.

Therefore, maximize the window surfaces you have available, install new ones if possible, get rid of heavy curtains that block the sunlight and use light ones or none at all. As simple as that.

Dimmable ceiling fixture universality

Artificial lighting is another important factor when it comes to productive learning, probably even more than natural light, since it requires more detail and effort in making it serve your purpose. In general, ceiling fixtures are the most universal solutions in the majority of instances. They provide an overall required luminosity, which is further on enriched by specific task lights. 

Opt for a dimmable option since it offers customization and lets you set the atmosphere according to the occasion. For example, during rainy days very often artificial lighting needs to be used during day time, as well. Using it in full capacity would overdo but dimmers will allow you to fine tune it to the level that suits you best.

Table lamps as required task lights

If your learning process is primarily desk oriented, you should not solely rely on central ceiling fixtures since the shadows it causes can turn out to be significant disturbance issues. Table lamps are the most convenient and successful solution here. 

When you go online for table lamps, you will see that they come in so many various shapes and designs that you will surely be able to find an appropriate one for your personal needs and preferences. Finally, make sure you position the lamp in such a way that no shadows whatsoever appear on your work surface.

Floor lamps for problematic corners

In the majority of working environments it is important that all spots of the study space or are sufficiently lit since dark spots have a negative influence on productivity. There are very often issues with dark corners which cannot be solved by neither ceiling fixtures nor table lamps.

This is where floor lamps are needed. The various heights and sizes they are produced in will provide a suitable solution for all existing problematic corners you may have. All you have to do is choose a suitable model for your working environment and place it on the problematic spots.

Wattage and color temperature concerns

It is a course of nature that our eyesight deteriorate with age. The older we are the more luminosity we need, that is the higher wattage lamps are required. For example, if students are older than 25, lamps of at least 60w are recommended, while for younger students up to 60w is the preferred choice. LED lamps follow accordingly. 

When the light temperature is concerned in the context of its effect on students’ well being and performance, cooler lights produced by fluorescent bulbs are universally preferred to incandescent ones.

To sum up, lighting arrangement plays an important role when it comes to providing the most favorable productivity setting. Dedicate a required attention to it and rest assured it will prove to be worthwhile.


Dorm Room Theft Prevention: The Essentials

Posted on Mar 16, 2016 with No comments
The statistics say burglary happens four times every minute, and only 13% of trespassers are actually caught with no guarantee for belongings retrieval. Now when it comes to dorm rooms, the whole system seems far less protected as students roam around freely, and you actually share the room with one or several persons.

You can never be completely secure, at home or in a dorm room, but you can plan carefully and strike back with some pre-emptive measures. We have collected the experience of students and locksmiths alike and here are some top-notch anti-theft advice.

Braggers are an easy prey for thieves

A regular day at the dorm definitely includes meeting a bunch of people and the chance is that most of them are acquaintances. The advice is to be extra careful with the brand new people. Avoid sharing information about your valuables or anything one may steal. If you follow this through and keep quiet, the worthy possessions will remain tucked in your quarters. Still, if you want to be extra secure, there are other solutions we shall tackle here.

Some things should be left at home

The most effective method to thwart intentions of some college burglar is to leave the really expensive objects at your family house. Grandparent’s heirlooms and other jewellery that’s not needed daily is best stored at your parents’ house. If you’re not a fan of having all the money on bank account, take the stash with you at all times possible, or lock it away.

Door locking

Prior to taking out the big guns of burglary prevention, we need to take another vital step in the security process. Sometimes the simplest of blunders get us into trouble. If you’ve been growing up in a community where people don’t lock their front doors, don’t replicate the practice at college. Whenever you’re not 100% sure the door is locked, go ahead and double check. Better safe than sorry.

Getting a safe

If we were to talk about means to prevent burglary and protect your property at home, the answer would be to acquire a solid door lock. This is not so viable in the dorm conditions. However, another option presents itself, and that’s investing in safe obtainment.

Overall, you shall need two of it: first one for the computer and other gadgets and the second for valuables of smaller size like jewellery and cash. In addition, you can buy a safe with dissimilar locking procedures and mechanism like key-operated or digital.

College campus insurance

The list of things you may generally safeguard against theft via campus insurance includes burglary and theft occurrences, flood and fire, quakes, water damage and electrically induced causes. Seeing all these listed, it surely pays off. The eligible objects are:

  • laptop and desktop computers
  • tablets, smartphones and similar electronic devices
  • books (who knew?)
  • clothes and others

Mark the valuables

Campus insurance is occasionally insufficient, so in order to track it from pawn shops or other selling sites, put a secret mark on it. Engraving or labelling it with permanent marker is the way to go, just be discreet. Take photos of the whole procedure and put down the serial numbers for safekeeping.

Know the rules

If you happen to be a burglary victim, take a deep breath and don’t despair. Firstly, you should be thoroughly acquainted with the regional and college disciplinary measures and guidelines and see what is penalised. Inquire with the campus manager about complaint filing and the standard steps employed for thievery punishment. Lastly, learn about the handling of previous cases and figure out the best way to circumvent the same fate.

All summed up, the safety of your valuable objects is mostly your burden. Take our advice and do all you can, and the chances of this ever happening will be at minimum.


Getting a Car While in College: 4 Things to Know

Posted on Mar 8, 2016 with 3 comments
Getting your own car is a special rite of passage for young adults. When you buy it, you are officially considered a grown-up person. Since buying a brand new car during your studies could be too expensive, you can check some other options. Many fine second-hand cars are waiting out there to be bought and driven, but you have to be careful not to buy a ruined one.

Spread the word

The most logical place to search for a car is your nearest social surroundings. Spread the word in the family, tell your neighbors and friends that you want to buy a car. Such a wide-range tactic will let people know that there is a potential car buyer in their vicinity. That way you can get a well-maintained car at an affordable price. Nevertheless, no matter who the seller is, always have the car inspected by a mechanic, to be completely sure that you are not buying a devastated vehicle.

Large car dealerships and tricks

If you want to buy a car from a dealership, you have to know all the potential hidden flaws that such vehicles might have. First of all, you should ask for a certificate that shows a full car service history. If the dealer cannot provide you with that document for the car you would like to buy, simply skip that vehicle.

Secondly, it is important to check if the original mileage has been changed. To be able to tell whether the dealer is trying to trick you, it is important to know some stats basics. According to a survey, the average mileage of every car in Australia is 13,800 km on a yearly basis. So, if you want to buy a Renault Scenic produced in 2008 and they tell you that its mileage is 50,000 km, look for another car and another dealer.

Finally, even if you are provided with all the genuine documents in terms of the mileage and the service history, still bring your own mechanic to make a thorough check of the car.

Cars from first owners

Most well-off car owners drive their beloved four-wheelers only during warranty period. When the warranty expires, they sell the car and buy a new one. This is another perfect chance for a student to find a great car at an affordable price. Such cars have been serviced and repaired at authorized car service centers.

Although an average warranty expires after five or seven years from the moment of purchase, these cars are almost as good as brand new ones. Every student who would like to buy a car whose original warranty has just expired should contact official car brand dealers to find out more about such models. Moreover, they should also check good car auctions, as this can often turn out to be the most affordable way of getting the first car.

Old-school ads

Before the Internet and modern technology entered the car market, people used to find cars in classified ads. Truth be told, this tradition still hasn't died completely. Although cars offered in such ads are usually older models and they rarely have a full service history, you might get lucky and find a useful and durable car. Of course, it goes without saying that you can bargain for such cars, especially for older models. If you have a relative or a friend who knows more about cars, they could turn an old vehicle into a hip and cool modern beast.

The first car that you buy is something you will always remember. Be it an old Ford Mustang or a modern SUV, it will give you a sense of freedom and independence. Once you get your car, roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair, just like the Boss said in Thunder Road and enjoy your drive.


Tips for Picking the Best College Student Checking Account

Posted on Feb 28, 2016 with No comments
When you are attending college you are just beginning your journey in life and one difficult part of that is learning how to handle your money. As a student you have limited funds. Learning how to use these funds wisely is a habit you need to get into now.

Around this time interacting with money and paying bills is now a big part of your life. You may have or are thinking about opening a bank account. You may be offered a student bank account or the banks low cost free checking account. But sometimes free or low cost may not end up being either.

Even in the modern world of electronic banking, all banks still offer checking accounts. Even though they can cost the bank more expense as opposed to debit cards, banks continue to offer them because they are an enormous source of profit.

Banks Make Money on Check Fees

Most banks pay little, if any, interest on their checking deposits. As a result, the deposits they receive cost them very little rather than funds deposited in a certificate of deposit which have bigger interest rates. These low cost funds are one justification that banks have managed to improve their net-interest margin, the difference from the cost of funds and the rate of interest charged when those funds are given out.

Getting more of these inexpensive deposits is one reason why so many banks offer significant rewards for brand-new checking accounts. Just recently, in the Chicago area, a bank was offering brand-new depositors a free Ipod for a new bank account dependent on other restrictions. In other areas of the country, banks are offering as much as $200 to new checking depositors.

Among one of my complaints is the "complimentary" checking account that, when you read the small print, is anything but free. Minimum required balances, direct deposit guidelines or minimum use guidelines are all generally connected with these so-called "free" accounts. Here are some key questions to ask when asking about a bank's "free" checking account offer:

  • Is the account "totally free" for the life of the account or is it simply a short-term promo?
  • Are there minimum use conditions? Do you have to write a minimum number of checks every month? Will your account be switched to a more conventional, fee-based, checking account if it's not used in a given period of time?
  • Are there any kind of monthly expenses connected with the account?
  • Do you need to pay for your new checks? Are the checks also free? If not then order checks online.
  • What are the costs for doing your banking business over the telephone or in person? Banks have been known to charge for talking to some one in person.
  • Do you have to have direct deposit of your paycheck set up to benefit from the "free" checking?
  • Does the bank offer "courtesy" overdraft account protection to cover your bounced checks automatically and after that charge you for it? This is simply a cover for a high-priced overdraft loan.
  • Are there fees to use the bank's debit card? Is there a different treatment of debit transactions with a signature versus those using a PIN number?
  • Does the bank pay interest on the money deposited in their "totally free" checking account?

These are key questions to ask your bank prior to signing up for their "free" checking offer. By being well-informed before you go into the bank you stand a far better probability of getting a good deal on your checking account.


What Is FAFSA and Should You Fill Out an Application?

Posted on Feb 1, 2016 with No comments

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the ticket to federal cash for university and many other types of scholarships as well.

The FAFSA, referred to as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the form that families submit to obtain government grants, loans, as well as work-study funding for college students. It is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides more than $150 billion in student assistance each year.

Your acceptability for government grants (which do not need to be repaid) as well as federal loans (which do) will typically be based upon your monetary need, as figured out by the information you provide on your FAFSA. You could obtain a preview of whether the FAFSA is expected to qualify you for federal grants by using the FAFSA4caster on the Department of Education web site.

Even if the FAFSA4caster indicates that your family's income and also assets keep you from the range for grants, it's still worth going ahead and finishing the FAFSA. That's because the majority of universities, state scholarship companies, along with organizations make use of the FAFSA in deciding who gets their scholarship money, along with how much each individual will get. Also, filing a FAFSA automatically qualifies you for low-cost government student loans of at the very least $5,500 a year.

Individuals can find out even more about the FAFSA, including the deadlines for finishing it, at the Federal Financial Aid web site. Click Here to start your application at FASFA

FASFA deadlines for 2016-2017 School Year Here


How to Maximize Financial Aid for college using 529 plans

Posted on Jan 28, 2016 with 1 comment
I wrote in 2014 about a method involving 529 plans designed to take full advantage of the financial aid an university student could receive. To sum up the original strategy: If you split your financial savings into two 529 plans-- 75 percent in one managed by the student's parents and 25 per-cent in one owned by the student's grandparents-- you will limit the effect the funds in those plans will have on your expected household contribution each year and consequently take full advantage of the financial aid your student possibly might be provided throughout his or her college pursuit.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order altering the regulations a couple of months ago. As a result, the above strategy must be upgraded.

Why the modifications? Primarily to make the procedure of filling in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) easier and quicker. Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, the declared earnings for the student and his/her parents will be based on records from 2 years preceding (2015) rather than the previous year (2016). This resolves an issue applicants experienced every January trying to figure out their previous year's earnings when they had not yet finished their previous year's taxes.

Still better, applicants will now have the ability to use the IRS' automatic Data Retrieval Tool to fill the FAFSA, making the procedure quicker and less error-prone.

Lastly, the first application procedure is shifted back to October of the preceding year (a full 11 months before the student will matriculate), providing students more time to think about expenses as they evaluate schools to which to apply.

Effect of guideline change

So what's the impact of this policy change? Basically, it gets rid of the third year of college costs from the FAFSA calculation. In other words, it makes no difference how you pay for the student's junior year since income and assets in that year will have no impact on his or her senior year.

As a result, the new financial aid maximization strategy should be to separate your cost savings equally (50 percent each) between the parents' 529 plan and the grandparents' 529 plan. The parents' 529 plan should be used for the first 2 years of college and the grandparents' plan for the last 2. If your kid takes five years (or more) to finish school, it's often the last two that should be funded by the grandparents' 529 plan.

One fascinating side effect of the modification is that your 2015 earnings will be utilized for the 2016-2017 school year, as well as for the 2017-2018 school year. If your (and/or your kid's) earnings was unusually low during that year, it will count double towards maximizing his/her aid prospects.

As I have written before, there many other tax-efficient methods you can implement for college savings beyond saving through a 529 plan, so be sure to invest time discovering them well before your child comes close to college age. And always bear in mind that it's important to have a contingency plan simply in case he/she chooses not to go to college.

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