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Travel is out of the question for a lot of people, but none of us can escape that unshakable feeling of wanderlust we feel whenever we see someone post a picture of them in an exotic, exciting new context. For those of us still in college itching to travel, study abroad is probably the best bet—the additional challenge of academia and learning about your new context in an academic setting is incredibly appealing for some people, as well as the opportunity to quite literally live abroad for a few months. Even then, it can seem like a lofty goal, and usually for financial reasons. How will you survive once you get to your country of choice? How will you even get there? With the market ruins, millennials have discarded going away, but it's an essential part of our growth, both educational and spiritual. Don't let finances get in the way; most importantly, know they don't have to.
Here are five ways you can pay your way to and through study abroad, and start getting some wear-and-tear on your passport.
Find a program that works for you
The fact of the matter is that just because you can study abroad through your university doesn't mean that the programs offered are right for you, whether that means price-wise or academic-wise. Find a program that won't break bank, and will take you where you want to go, whether that means doing a direct exchange through a university in your country of choice or a study abroad program through another university.
Take out a loan
The government offers several loan options, and these need not be used to just pay for a normal semester—use those Stafford Loans to buy your ticket, and maybe take out a little extra to be able to live comfortably where you most likely won'y be able to get a job, especially if you don't know the language while you're away. That said, only take out what you can afford to take out and, most importantly, what you'll be able to afford to pay back upon graduation.
Scholarships, and grants are your best friends
Aside from money that you worked hard at saving before going away, there are so many options through several organizations for study away, whether destination or merit, or need-based. Do your research and cast a wide net—you never know what you might catch, and there are plenty of organizations ready to help you fulfill your study abroad dreams.
Pick a city with currency that works with your budget
Don't pick a place like, say, London if you're already strapped for cash (not unless that's your dream and you're determined to make it work). For those of us who want to study abroad but don't know where to go or what to expect (and are looking to actually have a cheaper semester) there are so many beautiful cities out there where the American Dollar is stronger than the local currency, and exchange houses will allow you to live a little bit more above your means for less. Study abroad need not break bank once you arrive.
Live like a local
Go to the local market and buy fresh food to cook at home. Make friends and make food together. Scour your new city and find the cafes locals go to, the ones that are the cheapest and, somehow, also the most rewarding to go to. You'll only be in your new city for a few months, so why waste your hard-earned money (or your loans) on grossly expensive tourist attractions? Those things are fun, but the underbelly of a city is usually more fun, more rewarding, and more financially savvy. Live like a local, and fall in love with your new city while giving your wallet some relief.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.