save money for college

Saving Money in College – Fill Your Brain and Your Piggy Bank!

Ah, college! The land of growing minds, networking marathons, the occasional (or more than occasional) party, and endless amount of debt. The lucky individuals who get out of college debt-free are like unicorns – magical, mysterious, and so scarce you’d swear they didn’t exist at all. While you might not be able to avoid payments or student loans completely, the good news is that there are certainly some tricks that can lower your expenses tremendously!

Use these 9 tips to keep some extra cash in your pocket through college!

Apply for Scholarships Throughout College – They aren’t just for high schoolers! Plenty of scholarships are available to current college students. Your college or university is likely to give out its own, and you can likely get scholarships from your department. Some universities even offer a scholarship for transfer students for each year they return to the school until graduation. Many local businesses also offer scholarships, and you’ll find less competition with them than with national scholarship competitions.

Take Advantage of the Freebies – College is full of giveaways. Free t-shirts from guest speakers, free tumblers during homecoming week, free food if you put your email address on that list…the freebie possibilities are quite literally endless. Take advantage of them, and enjoy the savings that come along!

Be a Student Discount Fiend – Student discounts are more common than you might think and can really add up in the long run. If you know you’re going to the mall, call the stores you want to shop at and check if they offer a student discount. The savings don’t stop at the mall, though. You can get Amazon Prime (which comes with free 2-day shipping, discounted textbooks, countless TV shows and movies, and lots, lots more.) for free for several months, and then pay half as much as non-students to keep your subscription going.

Find Part Time Jobs Through School – Making some extra money during college can really make a difference between enjoying a movie or meal out here and there and living like a hermit on a diet solely consisting of ramen noodles and water. Odds are you wouldn’t even have to leave campus to find a decent part time job. Students commonly work as residential advisors (and enjoy free room and board for their work), desk attendants, IT support, dining hall staff, web developers, department attendants, and teacher’s aids, just to name a few. These jobs are not only good for the extra cash, but are great for making connections and building work experience.

Avoid Buying Textbooks From the Bookstore – Those things are expensive. They can be hundreds of dollars – each – and easily cost a student upwards of $1,000. Use Amazon or ask older students to see if you can get used books at a discount. Companies like Chegg will rent books to you for the semester and even provide a box to mail the book back in and an electronic copy of the book until your hard copy arrives. If all else fails, your bookstore probably offers rentals for a fraction of the purchasing price.

Live Off Campus – Dorm life may be fun, but it’s also insanely expensive. You can easily find an apartment for half the price of a private college dorm (even less if you opt for roommates!), and cooking your own food in your own home cuts down on fast food and restaurant expenses as well as wasted meals from your meal plan. Having said that…

Choose Your Meal Plan Carefully – You do not need 3 paid meals a day. You might not even need 2 paid meals a day, and if you do finish the year with leftover meals, there’s no getting that money back. Remember that you won’t be eating every meal in the dining halls. When you do choose a meal plan and head for the dining hall, get your fill if it’s all you can eat, and be sure to ask if you can take food with you to keep in the fridge for later.

Make Your Own Coffee – No, really. Kicking your Starbucks habit can save you an amazing amount of cash. If you spend about $20 a week at Starbucks, you could save almost $1,000 in a year if you opt for making your own homebrewed cup of Joe in the morning. Sure, that $5 vanilla latte is delicious and energizing, but we guarantee you can make one just as good for a fraction of the price.

Finish Early – Going to college for 4 years isn’t required. You can finish early – and plenty of people do. Cut down on the semesters you have to pay for by “double dipping” with classes that can fulfill multiple requirements, stocking up on AP credit, asking to take classes concurrently with their prerequisites, and substituting required classes with accelerated internships, which can sometimes get you up to 9 credit hours in the time you’d usually get 3 from a normal class.

Whether you’re taking classes to supplement your job, getting your general requirements at community college, or peer-reviewing your way to your PhD, these little hints are sure to keep extra money in your pocket.

Got any tried-and-true money saving advice of your own? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

Valentine's Day gift

Let Madison Mutual Insure Your Valentine’s Day Gifts!

Each Valentine’s Day, an average of $13.19 billion is spent on this romantic holiday. That’s a lot of candy and flowers. While there is nothing wrong with plush bears and free back rub coupons, many victims of Cupid’s arrow seek out gifts of higher financial value.

Electronics, tools, appliances, and fine jewelry are all very popular gift categories with the diamond engagement ring, as always, taking first place. With all of these expensive gifts being purchased, shouldn’t some precautions be taken? Yes, they should. You can insure any of these items in the event they are stolen, lost, or destroyed by a natural disaster!

If you’re considering insuring this year’s big Valentine’s Day purchase, make sure to consider any other purchases in your home that are valuable or you believe may have increased in value over the years. Make a list of these items with descriptions and check it twice (oops, wrong holiday!). This complete description of your items will help ensure that you will receive an item of like quality and kind in the event of damage or a loss – and you’ll be covered for the loss, too! Also, taking photos is always helpful.

Not sure what to include? Follow this checklist!

*Jewelry
*Cameras
*Furs
*Silverware
*Firearms
*Fine arts
*Laptops
*Collections
*Musical instruments
*Rare books and manuscripts
*Rare items or items that have historical or artistic merit
*Anything else you deem worthy

Love lasts forever, but your purchases may not! Bring us your completed list with descriptions, and we can help you in any future claims you may have regarding your lost or damaged items. Stop by our office or call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to get started!

love

Your No-Fuss Guide to Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! Is your wallet ready for the big day? No matter what your budget is, you can use a bit of creativity to plan the best Valentine’s Day yet!

Here are 7 of our favorite ideas!

Re-create the First Date – Have a unique first date story? Recreate it with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day! Whether you found yourselves running around a grocery store with bubble wands or talking for 3 hours at The Waffle House, your date is sure to love the thought and consideration behind this sweet, yet simple, idea.

Opt for Dessert Over Dinner – If you’re going out for Valentine’s Day you really have two options – make a reservation weeks in advance, or endure a several-hour wait at whatever place will eventually seat you. Many restaurants hike up the prices with specialty menus, and being elbow-to-elbow with the other couples hardly leaves room for any romantic connection. Instead, opt for a later night out for dessert after dinner at home. Not only will you be able to avoid restaurant chaos, but dessert will also be cheaper, more intimate, and certainly unforgettable!

Go Stargazing – With a bit of research and the gas in your tank, you can set up a perfect evening under the stars with that special someone. There are several websites that give the heads up on cloud coverage and where you can find the least amount of light pollution near your city. Remember to bring your coats and some blankets to stay warm!

Love Coupons – Is your partner the ultimate fan of backrubs? Do you both hate doing the dishes? Use some markers, construction paper, and ribbon to make a book of love coupons! Let them redeem the cards for getting out of a chore, a special dinner, a foot rub at the end of a long day, or choosing the movie on a lazy night in. It’s a gift that keeps giving – one that they’ll actually want!

Paint Your Own Ceramics – Paint-your-own-pottery places are starting to sprout up in cities across the country, and most of them offer pieces at very reasonable prices. If you’ve got $10-$20 to spare, head on over to one of these creative hotspots, pick your favorite items, and get to work! Not only will you have a blast, you’ll also have something to keep as a memory of the great day you had together!

See a Matinee – The price of movie tickets just keeps creeping up, but you can have a great, less-crowded experience for a fraction of the price if you opt for a matinee over an evening show time!

Have Dinner at Home – No restaurant fuss, whatever food you and your date would like, and a fraction of the price you’d expect at a restaurant! Does your partner love surprises? Have their favorite meal, complete with music and candles, ready when they arrive! Do you enjoy cooking together? Have a homemade pizza night. Get your favorite toppings and make a heart shaped pizza just for the two of you! If you’ve got kids with you for Valentine’s Day, make it a family affair! Have a heart-themed dinner before a family-friendly movie, complete with Valentine’s chocolates!

Whether you’d prefer a cash-free V-Day or your budget is sky high, we hope these ideas inspire a romantic and memorable day with your special someone! Got an idea that we missed? Comment below or share it on our Facebook page!

how to care for old car

10 Easy Tips to Maximize Your Old Car’s Life

It’s becoming much more common these days for Americans to keep their cars for as long as they can, exceeding 100,000 or 150,000 or even and impressive 200,000 miles on the odometer. In fact, it is estimated that the average age of a passenger vehicle in the United States is about 11 years. That’s quite a long time to have a car, especially when you tack on long commutes to work.

Even though Americans are keeping their cars longer, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying some sort of price for it in repairs. Luckily, there are things you can do right now to help extend the life of your car and try to reduce the price on future repairs. Read about our 10 tips below to help you get the most out of your older car!

Love Your Windshield Wipers – Those wipers on the windshield (and on the rear window, if you’re lucky) work hard to keep your windows clean in the rain and snow. Make sure you take extra care of them to help extend their lives! Keep the rubber portion of your wipers clean – they work the best when they’re free of dirt and debris. Wipe them down once a month with denatured alcohol (91%) to keep them working like new; they’ll be able to hold to the glass and wipe water and debris away better this way.

Maintain the Tires – How long your tires last are about 30% composition and 70% care and maintenance. That means how you treat your tires will be a great factor in how long you can keep them! Extend their use by keeping them aligned, rotated regularly, and properly inflated, especially during seasonal changes. This will help you get the most out of your tires without uneven, premature wear becoming an issue.

Stay Informed – Many cars have known problems that will appear under certain circumstances or after enough mileage or time has passed. There are many forums and websites devoted to a great number of makes and models and can provide a great deal of information. Knowing what your car is prone to can help you be prepared for it when it comes.

Ease Up on the Brakes – Just like your tires, you can make or break the longevity of your brakes and brake pads by the way you treat them. Punching the breaks regularly is a good way to shorten their lifespan, let alone waste gas and increase your vehicle’s emissions. Make it a habit to allow your vehicle to come to a stop gradually and pushing on the brakes gently. A little love goes a long way!

Fix Everything Promptly – If you want to keep your old car for as long as you possibly can, you’ll need to make sure that make repairs as soon as something breaks. Don’t ignore minor issues like broken trim, electrical glitches, or torn upholstery – these annoyances can add up in no time and mar your love for your car.

Use Quality Replacement Parts – Whenever there are repairs to be made on your car, make sure to use the best replacements you can find, whether it’s genuine manufacturer parts or not. If a non-wearing part happens to be damaged, consider purchasing a used replacement. Remember, you get what you pay for!

Let It Shine – Paint does more than just make your car look chic; it also protects all of the materials underneath. Be sure to wash your car regularly, especially after there has been salt or chemicals on the road. Remember to give your car a nice wax job at least twice a year as well!

Treat the Battery Well – Technically, a vehicle’s battery should last you for a number of years trouble-free. If not properly cared for, the battery won’t last very long. Check your battery’s water levels regularly, if you can, and keep it healthy by using a solar battery charger if you don’t drive for long periods of time. Also, try not to run your accessories such as your stereo, iPod, or GPS without the engine running – this is a great way to run down your battery quickly.

Follow the Owner’s Manual – When it comes to maintaining your vehicle, the manual will be the first thing you want to refer to. Use it as a guideline for getting your vehicle serviced, but remember that some items will need to be replaced based on time instead of mileage. When in doubt, ask a trusted mechanic for his or her professional opinion on the matter.

Cover It Up – You might not think about giving your car some shelter, but think about how much weather it’s exposed to every day. The elements over time can break down the metal and plastic in your car. Slow down the process by storing your vehicle inside a sealed garage. If you don’t have a garage, try to keep it safe underneath a carport or a breathable car cover. This will keep your car looking like new.

Of course, accidents happen, and in those cases it’s always wise to have a reliable insurance company you can trust to protect your car. That’s where Madison Mutual comes in. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or find us online at www.madisonmutual.com to get started on the right foot today!