Is Now a Good Time to Buy?

Sellers aren’t happy with the current real estate market, but it could be a great time for buyers to make a purchase. Whether you are a first time homebuyer, someone looking to upgrade from their current home, or you want to make some investments in rental property, it is possible to get a great deal.

Before you want to do anything, check out moneysupermarket.com for a mortgage calculator. You can find out how much you are going to need to pay a month based on the property price, your down payment and other contributing factors.

It is likely that you can get more home for your money than you could several years ago. The key is taking your time. Don’t jump on the first deal that you come across.

Spend time looking over the housing market as a whole and the housing market in your area. Many times, it is possible to put in an offer for less than the amount being asked, in order to save a little more money.

While the statistics for the nation as a whole aren’t making anyone feel better, they are catching the attention of home buyers. Foreclosures are happening daily and over time, these homes are going back on the market.

Because home prices as a whole have decreased, the banks aren’t looking for their original selling price; they are looking for less to recoup their losses as best as possible.

Short sales are prevalent. In this case, you can put in an offer price which most of the time is well below the market value. Then once the homeowner and the bank approve the number, you can make the purchase.

It can take time to get all of the approvals needed to make the sale a go. Be patient and remember that you are probably getting a great deal on the home. Just like any other home, it can close in 30 days and you can take over the property.

Fixer-uppers are also something to look for. If a home has been damaged, even just on the surface, you may be able to offer less money. You can then make all of the repairs yourself on your own schedule and save money.

Sometimes it is just paint and appliances that are damaged. Other times it is worse. This is why having a home inspection is so important no matter what property you are purchasing.

One problem that buyers are running into is obtaining financing. In many cases, banks have increased their standards for financing homes.

You may need to have a better than average credit score in order to make this type of purchase. Plan accordingly and make sure that you have enough of a down-payment and your credit rating is in order.

If you are considering buying in this market, make sure that you are a savvy consumer. Do your homework.

Find a knowledgeable real estate agent that will be able to guide you through the ‘ins and the outs’ of home buying in this market. Your agent will be able to show you the best deal, help you put in an offer and give you some insight into the property as a whole.

Fight Back Allergies; Use These Simple Methods of Cure

One of the most common and dangerous allergy reactions is ‘Anaphylaxis’. What makes it so dangerous is the pace at which it attacks the body. In some cases, it can even cause throat swelling or worse, the complete shutdown of the throat. For those who suffer from this kind of allergy, doctors commonly prescribe a medicine called Epi Pen. Epi pen is quite an effective anti allergen. If the patient’s condition begins to deteriorate suddenly then Epi Pen can provide instant relief.

But in most cases allergy problems do no reach such severity. There are number of very good medicines available without the need for a doctor’s prescription. But you should be doubly cautious not confuse one form of allergy with another. One of the ways of doing this is by trying a small sample on the patients. Proceed with a heavier dosage only if the medicine is working. In case of any adverse reaction immediately consult a doctor.

The side effects

One of the biggest curses of modern day allopathic medicine is the phenomenon of side effects. Side effects range from nominal to severe. Like most of the medicines available on the counter or on doctor’s prescription, anti allergens too have their sets of side effects. If you are taking the medicine on your own; do read the label carefully. If the information regarding side effects is not available; then either inquire about it from the chemist or simply avoid taking it. Similarly, while taking a medicine on the doctor’s prescription, do ask him about its side effects.

Even a medicine as inconsequential as a simple pain killer; has its own share of side effects. It is simply a choice on the patient’s part, whether he is ready to make that bargain or not.

Range of allergy products

The heavily marketed allergy medicines like Claritin and Tylenol also have their set of side effects. The most common of side effects include drying of nasal passages, which can be a very uncomfortable sensation. These medicines can also open your nose passages so thoroughly that you might end up having a runny nose.

You might complain by saying that what’s the point of having a medicine that takes away one problem and gives you another? But you have to choose between the lesser devil; at least that is how modern day allopathic medicines work. Benadryl is another of more commonly used anti allergens, but it also causes severe drowsiness.

Non prescription medicines can be a ray of hope in a scene filled with side effects. A medicine like Advil can help you with allergy induced headaches. If you are suffering from a blocked nasal passage, you can try some of these home remedies like, taking a shower or drinking coffee. If you have allergy to some specific food item or spice, avoid it. If you have dog or cat allergies, immediately consult your doctor and avoid keeping a pet. Prevention is better than cure is a cliché but like most clichés it still works. So it is advisable to keep a track of what kind of environments, changes or allergens affect you the most. Simply avoiding them will certainly help a lot in avoiding allergies.

About the author:

Kate is a blogger by profession. She loves travelling and exploring new places. Beside this she is very particular about her fitness and health. These days she is reading a book on essential supplements in diet to substitute protein. Recently she wrote a fabulous article on skin care for winters.

Commonly Misunderstood Types of Insurance

My employer recently changed healthcare carriers, choosing plans that were more affordable, and adding variety to what had previously been offered.  When they handed us the thick packet of paperwork, we scratched our heads in collective puzzlement.  PPO?  HSA?  OMG, SMH!  It was all Greek to us.  It took a meeting with the human resources coordinator and hours of laborious reading for me to gain a modicum of understanding of the convoluted information.  Read on for a summary of  healthcare plans offered in the US.

Indemnity Plan

Indemnity plans pay a percentage of your medical bills, with the remaining amount being your responsibility to pay (for future reference, this is called coinsurance).  For example, the plan may be 80/20, meaning that 80% of your costs are covered, and you are responsible for the remaining 20%.  There are generally deductibles with these plans, and as with most healthcare plans, higher deductibles mean lower premiums.

One important note is that these plans only pay X percent of a usual and customary cost for the services performed; if your healthcare charges higher than the usual and customary cost of the service, then you are not only responsible for the agreed upon percentage, and for the amount that is above and beyond the usual and customary cost as well (i.e., X percent plus the additional amount).  This makes competitive pricing essential for those covered under an indemnity plan.  By calling around for health insurance quotes, you can avoid having to pay more than you should.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

HMOs charge a set premium in exchange for a range of benefits, including preventative care.  Those insured under an HMO see providers, doctors, hospitals and labs within the plan’s network, and must have a referral from their primary care provider to see a specialist, also within the network.  Most HMOs require a copayment in addition to the premium.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

PPOs are similar to indemnity plans, in that participants can see any provider they want; providers within the plan’s network are fully covered after a copayment is rendered, while doctors without are covered up to an agreed-upon percentage (usually 70, 80, or 90 percent) with the remainder being your responsibility.  Many PPOs have deductibles, with the usual higher-deductible/lower-premium ratio, with these premiums generally being lower than those of indemnity plans.  Unlike HMOs, referrals are not necessary, making this a very flexible option.

Point-of-Service (POS) Plan

POS plans effectively combine attributes of HMOs and PPOs, in that you can choose a primary care physician and be covered under HMO-style guidelines, or you can choose a PPO provider under PPO-style rules.  A third possibility with this plan is that you can opt to go outside of either network, and be reimbursed under out-of-network procedures.  POS plans frequently have deductibles.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

HSAs are a relatively new addition to the health insurance market, having been created by Congress in 2003 in response to dissatisfaction with the relative inflexibility of many traditional health insurance plans.  Rather than paying a premium, copayments, and coinsurance, participants pay premiums that are typically lower than other plans, along with a percentage of their pay (if they choose).  Employers often contribute an agreed-upon amount into employees’ accounts.

This plan is best for those who want lower deductibles, and who don’t anticipate frequent medical care.  This money is paid prior to taxation, making this a tax-advantaged choice, and lowering the overall amount of pay to be taxed.  Another positive aspect to this plan is that it covers items that might otherwise not be covered, such as eyeglasses and hearing aids.  Money in an HSA can be invested, with the investment gains being tax free.  Finally, many HSAs offer rollovers, meaning that contributors don’t have to worry about “using it or losing it”.

Life Insurance

In addition to health insurance, employees are generally offered other kinds of insurance.  Life insurance offers peace of mind to employees wishing to ensure that their family is cared for in the event of their death.  There are two types of life insurance: term and whole.  Term insurance requires premiums, and covers the insured for a set period of time, usually 20 years.  A convertible term life policy starts as a basic term policy, and eventually converts to whole life.  These plans typically have lower premiums than whole life policies.

Whole life policies are considerably more expensive than term life policies, and can be seen as an investment for the future.  Rather than only covering you for a preset amount of time, whole life insurance will cover you for the duration of time that you pay premiums, or until you cash in your policy.  In addition, funds can be invested, with a preset cap on acceptable losses.  In the event of your death, payment to beneficiaries is tax-free.

Disability Insurance

There are also two types of disability insurance: short-term and long-term.  Short-term disability will generally cover participants for upwards of two years, while long-term disability could potentially cover the insured for a lifetime.  Because disability claims are more prevalent, participant are screened more closely than with other forms of insurance; if the insured has certain preexisting conditions (i.e., back problems and psychiatric care), they can either be ineligible for coverage, or these conditions may be made exempt from coverage.  Women are more likely to be charged higher premiums than men due to heightened awareness of their personal health, and therefore more likely to file disability claims.

When choosing insurance, there are basic questions that you should ask yourself to make this process easier.  If selecting health insurance, determine how often you plan on using your benefits, how much flexibility you require, and how much you can afford to pay in premiums.  When choosing life or disability insurance, ask yourself how much insurance you need (in the case of life insurance), and how healthy and safe your overall lifestyle is (for disability insurance).  In this way, you can be sure to avoid costly medical bills, and ensure proper care for your loved ones while you’re at it.

Factors that Impede the Proliferation of Indian Social Enterprise

In the year 2006, Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Prize for economics for his ideation of “Grameen Bank”. When the Nobel Foundation contacted him for the interview, he made a very important remark saying that poverty has been artificially created by man. He further said that by redesigning policies and institutions, we can eradicate such unnecessary creations. Social entrepreneurship has got everything to do with creation of business models that revolve around products based on low costs and social inequities that are solved through services. Also, the fact that in India profit and progress go hand in hand, has given motivation to various social ventures for stepping in this arena. Nevertheless, due to the existing problems and issues, this initiative is facing obstacles. Some of these impediments are discussed below.

Social Enterprising endures Profits in Business and Progress in Social Parameters

Issues that affect Social Enterprise Growth Rate:

It is always a welcoming idea to be able to create business that will profit the entrepreneur as well as have a lasting effect on the people that belong to the base of the social pyramid. This excitement level of this idea has spread across business incubators, government, media and investors. But, there remain unique challenges for social entrepreneurs who desire to mingle profitability with powerful impact.

Government Policies:

The Right to Education Act and Microfinance Act in the state of Andhra Pradesh stand as examples to policies that discourage private investors from making models on business that cater to segments based on low income levels, resulting in impact on a sustainable level. It is the responsibility of the Government to encourage private enterprises to participate in serving those belonging to the base ofthe pyramid using inclusion models.

Financing Working Capital:

From the outside, social enterprises have enough to suffice for makinginvestments. The requirement however, is more than the range of $1 million to $5 million made available for the investors. The companies require monetary assistance in the early stages for help in working capital instead of expansion. This problem can be fixed if investors are ready to tie up options in debt financing with equity investments (straight) and increase the flexibility of the investment size of new and existing investors. This leads to unwanted celebration that is premature instead of enjoying creation of real business. Due to the ease in visibility tagged on social enterprises, many companies fall for this trap and celebrate their very existence instead of working for their growth. One must stay away from hype as it brings in unneeded expectation levels which may not be fulfilled. It is best to keep one’s focus on maintaining low profile marketing and letting the “impact” of the business speak on its behalf.

 

The Right Model of Business:

Although initial growth in the sector of social enterprise was microfinance based, there has not yet evolved any model in this business that can be considered the right model, mainly in sectors like education and health care. The main concern is not options available but the quality of the option chosen. This can be explained by the fact that hospitals and government based schools offer affordability and accessibility but fail to provide quality in the services. To avail of good quality in business models, the bottom of the pyramid will have to be redefined, prioritizing quality over “low-cost” solutions.

 

Conclusion:

Along with the obvious growth challenges faced by the entrepreneurs, there are political and socioeconomic based nuances spread across new geographies that entangle these entrepreneurs. The answer to this problem lies in creation of distinctive phases in the growth of the company. The first step will involve proving the business impact and model, followed closely by proving the escalation of both these factors in progression that is geographic in nature, prior to making plans for significant escalation.

Author’s Bio:

Alisa Martin, is a regular blogger, and have been authoring articles on various finance topics for the past decade. She is a regular contributor to Idealkash.com/Onemli-Uyari.asp.

Health Benefits of Cycling

People take part in cycling for various reasons including transport, for fun, the adrenaline and much more. What most people do not know is that this can be considered a form of exercise and it is also associated with numerous health benefits. Some of the health benefits of cycling are discussed below:

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It increases muscle tone

The more a person cycles, the more the general function of the muscles are improved with very minimal risk of strain or over exercise. It helps to strengthen leg muscles and is also great for the mobility of knee joints and the hip. Regular cyclers normally notice an improvement in muscle tone of the thighs, legs, hips and rear end. This means that it does not only work on the legs but the entire body since it is involved in the process.

Improves cardio- vascular fitness

You will also be pleased to learn that one of the health benefits of cycling is the fact that it helps to enhance fitness. This is because it helps the heart to pound in a steady way which helps to enhance fitness. There are some studies that show that it can improve these type of fitness by around 3-7%. Cycling also makes use of the largest muscle group that are found in the legs which raises the heart rate to enhance fitness and stamina. Most people will not even notice that they have covered a longer distance than they did the last time they were cycling. This also helps to improve the health of the heart.

Improves coordination

It is not right to mention the health benefits of cycling without stating the fact that it helps to improve coordination. This is because the whole body is involved in the process of cycling thus coordination between feet and hands, arm and legs and body and eye are significantly improved as a person rides the bike.

Although almost anyone can enjoy cycling, it is recommended that you consult your doctor who will advice on the capacities and limits that you should engage in if you want to incorporate it into the overall fitness program.

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Eats up calories

Another example of health benefits of cycling is that it helps a person to shed off some of the extra kilos they are always fighting to lose. Steady cycling helps to burn approximately 300 calories every hour. This means that if you set aside 30 minutes for cycling everyday you will end up burning at least 11 pounds of fat in a single year. Because the activity helps to build muscle, it also helps to boost metabolism rate once you are done with the ride.

One of the easiest forms of exercise

One of the health benefits of cycling is the fact that this offers one of the simplest way to exercise. It is not expensive, visit online bike store and order your bike today,  as all a person needs is a bicycle which can be ridden any time and anywhere. You do not even require any skills to ride the bike as you can learn how to ride one within a few hours and you are good to go. There are some cyclists who claim that it is also relaxing especially when riding through the park helping to relieve stress.

 

Scenic Rides in Oxford

One of the most beautiful of English counties to explore by car, motorcycle, or cycle, Oxfordshire is home to the city of Oxford, sections of the Cotswolds National Park, and miles upon miles of winding country lanes, historic buildings and landmarks, and quiet roads upon which to really push your vehicle to its limits. From taking a day trip from Oxford to the Cotswolds, to checking out some of the locations from Midsomer Murders and Downton Abbey, there’s plenty of great scenic rides in Oxford and Oxfordshire.

Oxford to the Cotswolds 

One of the more popular rides you can take out from the city, you can reach the National Park in a relatively short period of time. Some good destinations to head for from Oxford include Bibury in Gloucestershire for fishing, which can be reached through the A44; longer circular drives can take two to three hours.

Thames Valley 

From Abingdon in Oxfordshire you can explore parts of the Thames Valley, which involves crossing the A414 to Clifton Hampden, and exploring Dyke Hills on through to Henley on Thames; the A4155 can also be used to drive by Marlow and Longwick.

Didcot Loop 

Starting off from the Didcot Leisure Centre, you can cycle on a 10 mile short loop that takes you to Harwell and Blewbury and then back to Didcot – a bit too short for a car or motorcycle ride, this is best enjoyed on a bike on a sunny day, where you can head along London and Reading Road.

North Cotswolds 

To see the best of the North Cotswolds, you can drive from Oxford to the village of Tanyton, and can stop off at locations such as Burford and Great Barrington; Lower and Upper Slaughter are also worth seeing, as is the market town of Chipping Campden. Good for a day trip.

Midsomer Murders Tour 

The ITV crime drama is set in the fictional county of Midsomer, but has multiple filming locations in South Oxfordshire; the M4 and the M40 are the best routes to take into the area, with key locations to visit including Nettlebed, Wallingford, and Warborough.

Banbury to Chipping Camden 

Leaving from Banbury, you can take the B4035 towards Chipping Campden; this route takes you through Shipston-on-Stour, and also includes a drive along the Fosse Way Roman Road.

Banbury to Kidlington 

Another route from Banbury involves driving to Kidlington on the A4260; this route is relatively quiet, and gives you the chance to test out the speed of motorcycles without having to deal with large amounts of traffic.

Downton Abbey Tour 

Fans of the period drama can visit many of its Oxfordshire locations as part of a day’s drive – these spots include Highclere Castle, Bampton, Greys Court, the Chiltern Hills, Shilton, and parts of the Cotswolds. Stop off for a walk, a stay at a local pub, and some cream teas if you can.

Author Bio  :

Eva Holmes  is an Oxford native and a keen driver. For car enthusiasts she recommends visiting Toyota Oxford if you’re on the lookout for a new or used car.

3 Ingredients Every College Student Should Have on Hand

There are a myriad of obstacles college students must hurdle before attaining their diploma: excelling in increasingly difficult coursework, attending campus career days to meet with recruiters, and balancing academic life with some semblance of a social life are just a few that come to mind. 

And somehow, they’ve got to schedule time for eating.

Tired of the commissary-like offerings at their Student Unions and unable to afford eating out all the time (once pre-paid student cards are drained of funds, anyway), many have turned to preparing their own meals at home. 

And that’s a good thing.  It means healthier eating habits, a better understanding of what’s going into their bodies, and an overall greater appreciation for food.

With a tight budget looming over their heads, many find this task a difficult undertaking, as they really don’t have time to scour coupons at the store or go from place to place searching for the best deals.

Below are three ingredients that are budget-friendly, allow for healthy eating, and have the fortitude to stay on one’s shelf for extended periods of time.

1. Bulk Dry Pasta or Rice

Be it from the huge wooden bins or in one-pound plastic packages, dry pasta and rice are real winners for any budget.  Easy to prepare and ready for just about any topping you can imagine, they can satiate even the most robust appetites quickly, and for hours at a time.

Quick Cooking Tips:  For the pasta, be sure to save a little leftover cooking water for whatever sauce you decide to make – even if from a jar.  Pasta water is full of starch, and will help bind your sauce to the noodle.  Regarding the rice: you don’t even need a measuring cup.  Using a 2:1 ratio, you can use any container (drinking glass, Mason jar, etc) to make it.  Just top off the container once with the rice and twice with the water, and you’ll be good to go.

2. Dry Beans

Got a long study session planned for the Evening?  Throw a cup of beans into a quart of boiling water, cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for a couple of hours.  Then drain the beans, add three cups of water, season, bring to a boil, and let simmer for another couple of hours.  After you’ve pounded away at the books, you’ll have a delicious meal that is high in both protein and fiber.

Quick Cooking Tip: Render (cook down) some diced bacon until you get a good amount of fat on the bottom of the pan.  Then, sauté the beans for ten minutes before adding the water (and spices), and bringing to a boil.  This adds a wonderful depth to the beans that you will immediately notice.  If afraid of the fat, refrigerate the mixture overnight, and then skim the fat that rises from the surface.  Reheat and eat.

3. Frozen Vegetables

The days of mushy reheated vegetables are long gone.  Thanks to some of the latest techniques in flash-freezing, vegetables selected for freezing are picked at the peak of their ripeness and quickly frozen to maintain their integrity.  What used to be off-shades of gray and brown, today’s frozen vegetables have brilliant colors and a juicy pop when reheated. 

Quick Cooking Tip: Frozen vegetables like broccoli, peas, corn, and bell peppers do well in a stir-fry.  Adding them to the hot pan (it has to be hot) will char their outsides, and you’ll have smoky, tender vegetables that take on the flavors of all the garlic and ginger you’ve added beforehand.  Whatever you decide to do, always cook your frozen vegetables, as just pulling them out of the bag to thaw makes them mushy and unappetizing.

So there you have it: three ingredients every college student should have on hand.  Sure, there are more (canned tuna packed in olive oil and dried Asian noodles come to mind), but those may not be suited to everyone’s tastes.  These items are not only agreeable with more palates, they are easily added and adjusted to create a wide range of dishes that will have you creating surprisingly delicious meals in no time.

About the Author:

Liz is a writer on topics of incorporating food and frugality. She enjoys writing reviews on kitchen appliance such as the chefs choice electric meat slicer or a Waring meat grinder. She enjoys working in the kitchen finding ways to make cooking simpler and more enjoyable.

Why London is Such a Great Place to Rent Business Premises

Of all of the cities in the country, if not the world, London is one of the best for doing business.

Companies have flocked to the capital for years to take advantage of everything that is has to offer and to help their business to become as professional as it can be.

So if you still haven’t opened an office in the Big Smoke, here are some persuasive reasons for why it should be next on your ‘to do’ list.

Location, Location, Location

It may be a cliché, but the location of your company’s premises is incredibly important.

Being in London gives you easy access to train links to the rest of the country and to flights to the rest of the world, placing your company right in the heart of one of the most well-connected cities on earth.

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With so many great transport links on your doorstep, London is one of the easiest cities to travel to

High standards

As there is a great deal of competition between office spaces in London, providers have had to keep their standards incredibly high in order to attract tenants.

This means that you can easily rent a space that will be great to work in and impressive for when customers or potential business partners come to visit.

Proximity to other businesses

London is jam-packed full of businesses. From the City and Canary Wharf to the office blocks of Croydon and Slough, it’s hard to walk a few steps without being near a host of big businesses.

This can benefit your company in a few ways. Firstly, it helps you to keep an eye on the competition so you can ensure that you’re always ahead of the game, and secondly, it makes it easier to collaborate with other companies.

Meetings can be easily arranged in just a few minutes, allowing you to get the best services, partners and providers your business can find.

Great choice of staff

It’s impossible to deny that London is a great place to live and, as a result, people are drawn here from all across the country.

More often than not when graduates leave university they head to the capital to try and obtain their first job. This, combined with the vast numbers of professionals already in London, means that a business here will have access to the brightest minds and best people around.

Many regional businesses find that no matter how good a salary they’re offering, it’s hard to get good people as most employees don’t want to relocate.

If your business is already in London then you’ve got a huge advantage, and access to one of the best employment markets in the world.

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Renting an office space in London is a great way to add value to your business

Prestige

Having an address in London will instantly add a level of prestige to your company. It is far more likely to be considered a serious player in the world of business and be taken seriously on the world stage. It’s best to use an office rental specialist such as www.occupa.co.uk/ to help secure the ideal London location for you.

This makes growing and developing your company a great deal easier, so you’re more likely to see it become a real success.

Access to the market

 

Depending on the services that you’re providing or the products you’re selling, having premises in the capital will give you easy and direct access to your target market.

It’s easier and simpler to organise marketing and networking events, and to create a good awareness of your brand, greatly increasing the growth and earning potential of your company.

Renting business premises in London can be costly, but the rewards that you’ll get in terms of growth, staffing and standards will vastly outweigh your investment, and before long you’ll wonder how you ever got by anywhere else.

Picture credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

The Financial Benefits of Attending a Junior College Before University

So you’ve done the work in high school, and you’re mentally and emotionally ready to take on a four-year college. But what if you’re not financially ready? In this day and age, it pays to do whatever you have to do to get that degree. There just isn’t as much opportunity for those who don’t graduate, and your future earning potential will be sorely impacted without that all-important piece of paper. So what do you do if you just can’t pay for college? Many people solve this problem by starting out at junior college. Although not as glamorous an idea as heading off to a four-year state or private school, spending your first two years working at a junior or community college will vastly reduce your financial output. For many people, it’s the only way college is possible. Here are a few reasons that you should attend a junior college before your main university, if affording college is a serious concern.

First and foremost, tuition at any junior college will be significantly less. The average cost of a private college education is $36,000 a year. Public schools will be much less, coming in around $9,000 for each year of school. But the average tuition expense of a junior college is just under $3,000. So you can take care of a year of your classes for roughly a third of the cost of a public college, and well under ten percent of the yearly cost of private school. So what are you paying for? Keep in mind that students generally handle all of their prerequisite classes during their first two years in school. That means whether you’re at a junior college or a private university, you’ll be taking the same basic courses. Classes like biology, English, and college math won’t be incredibly more compelling taught by a private university professor. You’ve just got to get them done. So you’ll save big, knock out your requirements, and then can transfer to a four-year school for your major classes, when you’ll really want the elevated learning experience.

Attending junior college for two years before heading off to a university also means vastly reduced travel costs. No matter where you live in the country, there is an accredited community college in your area. If you stretched your budget to immediately go to a four-year university, you would probably have to live at home and commute there to save cash. Commuting to a junior college will almost always take less time, which means saved gas, tolls, and wear and tear on your car. Most commuters have to purchase a parking pass as well, and those passes will always be cheaper at a junior college. And if your community schools offers opportunities to carpool, you’ll further reduce your travel expenses.

You’ll also need to consider all of the additional living costs. Tuition expenses aside, while you’re studying at a four-year university, you’ll most likely live there. If your school of choice is out of state, living on campus will be a necessity. You won’t be able to save money and live at home. You’ll have to get a dorm room and pay the room and board fee or rent an apartment, pay for your own meals, do your own laundry, and manage all the other monthly expenses that come with living on your own. Spend two years living at home, and you’ll not only be able to head to a four-year college to finish up, but you might have enough savings to continue with a masters degree. And you won’t have to settle for some online mha programs accredited by no one in particular. You’ll have the full experience of a live program, and will have spent your money wisely.

The Top 5 Financial Benefits of 529 Plans for College

If you have a child in school in this day and age, chances are you’re concerned about being able to afford their higher education. Tuition costs continue to rise, while federal and state government support of education plummets. And while cost of living isn’t coming down anytime soon, job availability and lowering salaries mean there’s less money to put away each month than ever before. Luckily if you start early and plan ahead, there is much you can do to help save cash for your children’s college education. Your first step should be to check out the availability of 529 Savings Plans for College. Sponsored by the federal and state governments, the 529 Plan is a way to lock in tuition prices and put money away each and every month for your child’s education. If you get it going when your little one is still in grade school, you have a great chance to save up enough for their entire education, rather than having to scratch together whatever you have and take on an inordinate amount of loans to make it happen. Here are five of the top financial benefits of starting a 529 plan for your child’s education.

Right off the bat you’ll enjoy a wide range of federal tax benefits. Any money that you put into the 529 plan is tax exempt, so you’ll be able to reduce the income you claim each year right up front. You won’t get an additional tax deduction on that money, but you also won’t be taxed on any of the interest the account accrues over the years. The best part is that you can rely on this to continue indefinitely, as the tax-exempt status of these plans was made permanent back in 2006.

Another great benefit is that you will maintain control of all the money you place in the 529 fund. Your child won’t be able to pull any of the money out without your approval, so you can be sure that the money will be used for their education and not anything frivolous. With most 529 plans, you can always remove funds if you need to use them for something else, so the money isn’t locked up either. You will end up paying tax on the money you pull out, and there might be penalties, but you don’t have to worry about losing the rest of the interest you created by pulling some of the cash out.

The 529 plan also takes next to no maintenance, making it an easy way to save. Most people struggle with finances when they have to put a ton of time and effort into it, or understand the intricacies of the market. The 529 plan works very much like a bank’s savings plan, so once you set it up and automate the savings, you can forget about it. The plan handles the investment from there, and is managed by a professional at the treasurer’s office or an actual investment company. That means you can count on the highest level of service.

Your 529 plan will also give you very few limits on what you can save. Most of the state-level plans allow for as much as $300,000 in savings per student, meaning you can save all that your child would require for college, and much of what they might need for graduate school as well. Age is not restricted, neither are income levels, so low or high income families won’t be penalized. And students can even set up their own separate plan.

Finally, you can expect a favorable distribution situation with your 529 plan. You may still want to apply for financial aid for your child, and whatever money you’ve put aside in the plan won’t count as income that you’re bringing to the table. That means you can accrue a significant savings without worrying about it making your child disqualified from further financial aid. It’s a great way to afford all you need for college and graduate school, meaning your child can continue as far as their desire takes them, without needing to resort to earning that MBA degree online because of a lack of funds.

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