Updated on 10.08.15

Reader Mailbag: Shortcut Fixing

Trent Hamm

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Higher salary or better benefits?
2. Cheap land lines
3. Moving in with parents
4. Prepaying student loans in forbearance
5. The Hindenburg Omen
6. Post-graduation financial independence
7. Mid-college personal finance advice
8. Cherry picking the past
9. Tracking passwords
10. Replacing cable with Netflix

As many of you know, a month or two ago, I changed the format of the reader mailbags so people could just click on the number next to the shortcut above to hop down to the question. On the “back end,” I simply named the questions 1 through 10 (or 11 or whatever), so that when you click on the shortcut for question 1, it hopped down to question 1.

There was a pretty nifty little problem, though. If you had two reader mailbags on the same page, there would be two questions and answers named “1” on the same page. Thus, depending on your browser, clicking on the “1” could send you to the right question – or to the “1” question in a completely different mailbag!

I solved this problem by simply changing how I numbered the questions on the “back end.” Today, if you click on the “1” above, you’ll actually be jumping down to “1826.” What’s that number? 1 (for the first question) followed by 826 (today’s date).

If I number all future mailbags in the same way, the problem won’t occur. In other words, if you happen to see a bunch of mailbags on the same page in a few months and click on a question, you’ll go to the right question.

I am 24 years old. I was recently laid off from a local government job (with all the benefits that come along with that) making around 60K due to a reduction in force. I was offered a job in the private sector making the same, but with all the lack of benefits and the longer hours that come along with that. I have also been looking around and have been able to go on interviews for several government jobs in which I would be making anywhere from 40K to 55K, but with good benefits. My main concern is the pension and the fact that I could potentially retire at 55 because I’m a veteran if I stick with the government.

I guess my question boils down to: should I shoot for the money or the benefits with lower pay? What do you think is best long term?

Note: I have about 16K in student loans from my master’s, which will probably end up around 24K. My yearly expenses are around 21K. And have a modest emergency fund of around 9K.
– Joan

It depends specifically on what benefits you’re gaining, but likely the benefit-rich job will be superior.

For starters, the salary difference isn’t as big as you think considering that the difference in salary will be taxed at your top rate – 25% or 30% or so will go to Uncle Sam, with some additional amount likely going to your state.

Another reason the benefit rich job will likely work better is that you’ll likely receive some form of compensation into your retirement savings. Many government jobs will match 5% of your pay and some will match 10%. So, if you have a 10% match job and make $50K, you can get $5K more just by investing properly in retirement – and that investment is tax-deferred, so you don’t have to worry about taxes right now.

Add on top of that the health insurance, life insurance, flexible savings accounts, and other benefits and you’ll likely get much more value out of a job with good benefits at $45K than you would out of a job with awful benefits at $60K.

We’ve been trying to cut down on our utilities, especially phones and internet. We have pay-as-you-go cell phones, but we still pay $50/month for our landline and our internet. I’m trying to figure out how to reduce this cost, because $50 a month seems like a lot to me. We currently have internet and phone through AT&T, our local phone company. I’m thinking if we switch the internet to something like DSL Xtreme, we could reduce the internet cost by about $10/month. But what about the landline? I’d like to still keep a land line, because this is the number I give out to anyone who’s not a friend, so I use it to field phone calls from businesses and potential telemarketers, etc. Is there a cheaper way to keep a land line than for $25/month?
– Mylinh

For your use, I would suggest just using a DSL and Skype (I use Skype). You can use your cell phone for 911 purposes.

To have a phone number with Skype costs you about $3 a month, which also gets you unlimited calls in the U.S. All you have to have is a computer with a broadband connection, speakers and a mic or a headset and you’re good to go.

This would save you about $22 a month overall, based on the numbers you provided.

I was just curious about your opinion on moving in with parents. I’m not talking about newly graduated kids, I mean established couples that live with one of their parents “to save money.” Is this something new that couples like to do now? I’ve seen this happen with friends a couple times now (I’m 30, they are about the same age); each was saving for a house or wedding (good things to save for, for sure), and one had a child already. The thing is, neither of these couples are anywhere close to thrifty, to put it nicely. We see a lot of unneccessary spenditure, which if they controlled they could save a lot. So moving in with the parents just seems like a cop-out to me. I’m saving for a wedding that I have to minimalize just to afford, and can hardly save any more, and perhaps it’s only pride, but there is no way I would want to live at someone else’s house. The stress of dealing with in-laws in a less-than-ideal situation doesn’t seem worth it.

Any thoughts? Or is it just that I’m at an age where stuff like this happens?
– Alexandra

I think you’re looking at someone else’s life through the lens of some things you value (thrift, financial independence) and seeing others come up short.

If I’ve learned one thing from The Simple Dollar, it’s that not everyone values financial success. People find success in a lot of ways in their own life depending on their own definitions, and certain kinds of success dominate other kinds. Financial success and material success often oppose each other. Family success and career success often oppose each other.

I’m of the belief – like you are – that financial success creates the foundation for a better life. It doesn’t matter how deeply I believe it or how many times I say it, though, some people won’t buy into it. Or, they don’t buy into it now and will only come around when they fall over a financial cliff and see how scary it can be.

You can’t live other’s lives for them. However, you can pick and choose who your friends are and who you spend time with, so it’s usually worth your while to be selective with your friends if you are having a difficult time accepting their values.

I have placed all of my student loans on forbearance while I seek a full-time teaching position. I have 14 student loans with balances that range from $250 to $20,000 and total $76,000. I plan on taking a Ramsey approach, ranking them according to their balances and paying the smallest first until they are gone. However, since they are in deferment should I pay a small amount on each loan, like $25 which is all I can afford, and whatever remains on the smallest balance. Or, should I use all of my income after mandatory expenses for the smallest loan and make one large payment on the that loan? Thereby, taking full advantage of the forbearance on the larger loans. Basically, is it worth it to pay such a small amount on loans while they are in forbearance or am I just throwing that money away?
– Darren

Your best bet would be to pay against whatever loan has the highest interest rate, because those payments will save you the most interest over the long haul.

You also need to make sure that none of your loans have put their interest into forbearance as well. Most loans continue to apply interest to the balance while in forbearance, but some loan arrangements do not. If you have a loan that is not accruing interest, it still might be worthwhile to pay ahead on it, but only if it’s of a significantly higher interest rate than other loans.

Your best bet, though, is to consolidate that mess. 14 student loans? Just by sheer human nature, you’re bound to run into some sort of issue with one of them. With interest rates as low as they are right now, you should really consider consolidation.

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of references to the Hindenburn Omen on various financial and pf blogs and websites, along with many panicked questions about whether the market is going to crash in September. When I look at the many requirements that go into detecting the Omen, it seems quite technical with a lot of jargon that most regular American (including myself) wouldn’t understand. My questions to you:

* Can you simplify this concept at all so normal people like myself can wrap their minds around it?
* Does the Omen have actual technical merit or is it just an ominous-sounding, overly-complex financial Ouija board?
* Should I be worried and looking into moving my investments into more conservative choices? I understand that this is the kind of thinking that could turn the Omen into a self-fulfilling prophecy, but a crash is a crash regardless of what caused it. The effect of such a drop will be the same on my 401(k) regardless of whether the Omen actually caused it or if the thought of it just got a bunch of idiots panicked and in the mood to dump all their investments.

– Jessie

The Hindenburg Omen refers to a pattern in stock prices that is said to show up in advance of some stock market crashes based on historical data. To put it simply, the Hindenburg Omen occurs when a lot of stocks are reaching 52 week highs and another significantly sized batch of stocks reach 52 week lows on the same day.

If someone goes and looks at the historical data of the New York Stock Exchange, the exact parameters of the Hindenburg Omen usually pop up a few times before a stock market crash (a drop of 5% or more). However, the Hindenburg Omen sometimes pops up nowhere near a stock market crash and at other times a stock market crash occurs without a Hindenburg Omen.

What does that mean for you? If you have investments that are improperly balanced and weighted too heavy towards stocks, you should probably not have as much money in stocks as you do right now. However, that’s true no matter whether there’s an “omen” or not. You should always spend time figuring out how much you’re comfortable with in stocks, invest that much, and put the rest somewhere safer.

Do I believe in the “omen”? I think any time you have a pile of data, you’re going to see patterns in it. Some of those patterns actually mean something. A lot of them do not. I’m not sure which side of the line the Hindenburg Omen lies. I think it’s something that some stock speculators and doomsayers are hyping right now because, frankly, it gets them an audience.

I am a 10′ grad of a high school from my home of Phoenix, Arizona and will be going to Wellesley College (small, all-women’s liberal arts college in Boston, Massachusetts) this fall. My parents will be paying for all my school and basic living costs (room, board, food, books, basic clothes, etc.) for all four years. I will also be receiving an allowance of $250 per month for “fun” stuff (eating out, clothes, etc). I have about $2,500 saved up in an account from various things in high school.

I recently read an article in the New York Times about kids who are moving back home after school. I don’t want that to me be! My goal is to be financially independent by graduation. For me, this means having enough money to have my own place to live and pay all my own expenses. Basically, after graduation day, I don’t want my parents to be supporting me. What is the best thing I can do in my college years to achieve that goal?
– Erica

The best thing you can do is minimize every possible dime you spend while in college. If it’s an optional expense of any size, think carefully about it before spending it. Try to go “under” the $250 a month as much as you possibly can.

Whenever you can, sock money away in a savings account somewhere. Then, when you graduate, you’ll have some money with which to support yourself during your efforts to find post-graduate work or further schooling.

Kids that move back home after school often don’t have the opportunities you do (everything paid for with a $250 a month “fun” stipend) and often spend everything they have during their college career, coming out the other side with debt and no money saved up to deal with the immediate post-college expense. Don’t let that be you.

I’m 19 years old and will be graduating in two years. What should I be doing right now to prepare for my financial future? What personal finance info should I know?
– Kate

Read my answer to Erica, above.

Beyond that, I would strongly recommend educating yourself about personal finance. Hit your local library, take a look at these four books (all linked to my reviews of them), and check out the ones that seem to match your interests.

You’re So Money by Farnoosh Torabi
Please Send Money by Dara Duguay
Automatic Wealth for Grads by Michael Masterson
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

All of these are excellent books that will get you on the right path.

10-12 years ago, conventional wisdom said to buy index funds for your investing. And conventional wisdom was right! The stock markets for the preceding years had marched in “lockstep” and indexes could outperform almost any actively managed funds. However, over the last 10-12 years, that wisdom had not been correct. For example, the bellwether S&P500 Index has lost somewhere around a 1% over the the last 10 years, where I can find many managed funds–load and no load–and many diversified portfolios–load and no load that far exceeded the S&P500, even after any loads or other management costs are calculated in. That being said, I humbly advise you to take a look at the statistics a little more carefully, as you tend to advise (and seemingly blindly?) investing in index funds without other thoughts.
– Marvin

Of course you can find funds that earned more over the past ten years than an index fund. Hindsight is 20/20.

The point of an index fund is not to be the best fund out there. It’s to have average returns with very low costs, which means it’ll beat about 60% of the funds out there.

“Well, I want the top fund!” If you can tell me with 100% certainty which managed fund will earn me a better return after costs than a marketwide index fund over the next ten years, I’d love to hear it. You can’t, though. Why? Because you can’t read the future. No one can.

It’s easy to look back and identify funds that beat the market. It’s impossible to look forward and do the same thing. Managed funds with a great record tank all the time. Awful funds start hitting hot streaks.

Index funds are just the average of all of these things, except that they have very low costs, something that managed funds can’t match. As a result, they’re at about the 60th percentile – but they’re always at that percentile, while other funds soar above and crash below.

If I wanted to take on more risk than that, I’d invest in individual stocks of companies I trusted.

Do you have any tools for keeping track of internet passwords and login information? Do you keep it in a safe? I realize this is probably not a question you’d want to answer very specifically (for safety and privacy reasons!). I’m also interested in your tips for constructing a safe password and login name that is secure but still easy to remember. I often get overwhelmed by the amount of internet passwords I need to keep up with.
– Emily

The best solution for most people is probably a program like KeePass. KeePass is a free open source software solution that stores all of your passwords together in a single heavily encrypted file. All you need to remember is one master password (and make it a very strong one).

Another great solution – and the one I use – is to have a “password system” rather than a single password. A “password system” is a way of coming up with and then remembering a unique password for any service that you might use.

It’s pretty easy to do. First, come up with a short, complicated password that you’ll remember – a sequence of five or so characters. I usually encourage people to have an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, and a number in there. Maybe it could be three consecutive characters on a keyboard, the capitalized first letter in your name, and the number 9 – so for me, it would be sdfT9. That string, whatever it is, would be the start of all of your passwords.

After that, just have a method of including more characters that makes it unique based on the site that you’re at. So, for example, you might just tag on the first four letters of the domain name, but in reverse. Thus, at google.com, with this system, my password would be sdfT9goog. At yahoo.com, my password would be sdfT9ohay. At amazon.com, my password would be sdfT9zama.

I suggest that you come up with your own patterns, but it should use the same system – five letters or so of prefix that you’ll memorize, plus four letters or so of suffix that can be obtained from the website you’re at. If you’re required to use longer passwords for some of your essential services, make the prefix longer – use sdfT9wer or something like that. My own patterns are quite a bit different than these, but this gives you the idea.

That way, you have a tricky password that’s different for each site you use.

I love your blog and appreciate the honesty and thoroughness of your posts. My husband and I have taken a month off from television to re-prioritize, and in doing so, have become more interested in cutting the cable altogether in favor of Netflix and the streaming television option. (Of course- we don’t mind saving about 90.00 a month either- we recently killed our “debt snowball” with the Ramsey plan!) I can’t seem to find any type of listing of the television shows available on Netflix to watch- would you mind expanding on this? I know you’ve mentioned it before. Thanks!
– Elizabeth

It’s pretty hard to get a full list. You can get a bit of a preview by going to Netflix, clicking on “Browse Selection,” then clicking on “Television” in the Instant Streaming box.

Shows we’ve watched using it include Weeds, Arrested Development, Firefly, Doctor Who, Bones, and The Office. There are a ton of other series on there as well. Just use the search box to search for ones you’re interested in.

Given that we don’t watch all that much television to begin with, streaming is a great choice for us.

Got any questions? Email them to me or leave them in the comments and I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag. However, I do receive hundreds of questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

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  1. Vicky says:

    If you go looking under genre, they have a television section for instantly available stuff. It doesn’t list EVERYTHING, but they do list a lot.

    I find that I often will put things in my DVD queue, to find it pop up into my instant one later. I also like to let Netflix suggest things to me – I have found a lot of BBC shows I particularly love this way.

    Stuff I enjoy watching on Netflix: Futurama, South Park, Whitest Kids U’Know, Little Britain, Coupling, Robin Hood, King of the Hill.

    You may find other stuff in there too, but I find that just letting Netflix ‘suggest’ and giving it a rating after really helps!

  2. Karla says:

    “I solved this problem by simply changing how I numbered the questions on the “back end.” Today, if you click on the “1″ above, you’ll actually be jumping down to “1826.” What’s that number? 1 (for the first question) followed by 826 (today’s date).

    If I number all future mailbags in the same way, the problem won’t occur. In other words, if you happen to see a bunch of mailbags on the same page in a few months and click on a question, you’ll go to the right question.”

    I hate to be a Negative Nancy here but this is only a temporary fix to your problem (think Y2K-type issues). Assuming the site will continue to be actively updated for at least a few more years, you’ll almost certainly have another reader mailbag post on 8/26. Of course, you may have changed the format again by then so it could be a moot point.

  3. Melissa says:

    I think the best advice for undergrads who want to be financially independent upon graduation would be to work as hard as possible at school, get good internships, and begin their job search early. Getting a regular paycheck as soon as you graduate does wonders for your financial situation.

    And don’t get into debt, of course.

  4. Wesley says:

    I’m going to throw out there with Skype that you also have to consider the fact that if you use Skype as your phone system your computer has to be on 24/7 for it to be really effective. This could greatly increase the cost of the “Skype solution”

    That being said, I’m 22 and will probably never in my life have a land line.

  5. Kerry D. says:

    On living at home–I don’t always think that it’s a negative. Assuming the adult children behave as adults, it offers more help (physically and financially) around the property for the parents, as well as community. I wouldn’t mind if my kids shared my home as adults, as long as they contributed.

  6. Heather says:

    @Darren, I strongly second the advice to consolidate your student loans ASAP. You can lock in at an historically-low fixed rate and have only one payment to worry about (and only one set of tax documents to worry about in the future when you are deducting the interest paid on your taxes). You only are allowed to consolidate student loans ONE time, I believe, so devote half a day to researching your options and completing the paperwork. It doesn’t take any longer than that, in my experience (though I was consolidating 3 loans, not 14). I procrastinated for about a year before I did this, and so wish I had just dealt with it more quickly. It saved money, but just as important time and stress!

  7. Hannah says:

    @Karla There would be at least a year’s worth of mailbags (104 of them) between the two mailbags on the same date, so they wouldn’t appear on the same page. (Still that has nothing to do with Y2K.)

    As far as Erica, the 10 foot tall graduate who is heading to school in Wellesley, MA, Trent for some reason didn’t mention this, but if you don’t want your parents to support you after college… get a job! It’s that simple. Work while you’re in school, and seek the type of education that you know you can get a job with after college. Work full time during the summer. Bank as much as you can so you have enough to get your first apartment. Please don’t just save up your allowance from your parents and consider that to be a foundation for financial independence.

  8. Ryan says:

    Should’ve used the year in your shortcut solution.

  9. marta says:

    Karla, but reader mailbags with the same date (say, August 26, 2010 and August 26, 2011) won’t be loading on the *same* page, so the problem shouldn’t occur again. I *think*.

    Trent, there’s another bug that could be fixed: the comments count link at the bottom. It won’t go above 20.

  10. Nick says:

    Another alternative to landline (just introduced yesterday) is calling through your gmail. It’s still rolling out to all users (my gf has it in her account and I’m still waiting)

    Then just sign up for a free google voice account as well, and you eliminate the problem of leaving your PC on 24/7 because if you aren’t available, it will just go straight to voicemail. Now you have a free landline (so long as you have internet).

  11. Michelle says:

    One thing to consider if you’re giving up cable is over the air broadcasting. You would be AMAZED at how much you can pick up with a $10 antenna. And it’s nice for us because, when I’m home during the day, there is nothing on that I want to watch (not a big soap/talk show fan), but during the evenings, when I want to relax and watch TV, there is plenty on! I no longer get sucked into those Law and Order Marathons…

  12. Jonathan says:

    You will have to address the issue of a “back end” number like 1122. Is that the first post from January 22nd or the fist post from December 2nd? Or the 11th post from February 2nd?

    You may wish to consistently use two digit months and days at least. If you ever make a comprehensive index, you might also want to add years, but you’re right that it’s not necessary now.

  13. Dishant Shah says:

    @Mylinh. You can also try the new google service where you can make free call to anyone in US and Canada for free from you gmail account. I have to mention this service is free only till the end of the year though.

  14. Leah W. says:

    One more problem:

    I use Mac Mail as my reader, so I don’t know if this happens in all readers or just mine. When I click on a number expecting it to take me down to a question, it doesn’t. It opens my browser and directs me to feedburner. But it doesn’t direct me to YOUR feedburner — it directs me to MY feedburner.

    Also, I thought Erica was ten feet tall!

  15. Sheila says:

    “I am a 10′ grad of a high school from my home of Phoenix, Arizona”

    Either this kid is really tall or the education system in Arizona is similar to the one here in my home state.

  16. Johanna says:

    I agree with Melissa. Socking a way a few dollars out of your “fun stuff” budget certainly won’t hurt you, but being financially independent when you graduate means having a job. So that’s where your focus should be.

    Of course, how easy or hard it will be for you to get a job will depend on where the economy is four years from now, which no one can predict. But it also depends on how qualified you are, what you’ve studied, who you’ve met, etc.

    Even though your parents are paying for everything, keep an eye out for scholarship money. (There are scholarships available for students already in college.) My parents and I had a deal where if I got enough scholarship money to reduce my college bill below what they were prepared to pay, I could keep the rest. Maybe you and your parents could make a similar deal. Snagging a several-thousand-dollar scholarship will do much more for your finances than scrimping on your fun expenses will. You could also try making a deal where if you graduate a semester or two early, they could give you part of the tuition money you saved them.

    Something else worth thinking about – and there’s no right or wrong answer here – is what you want to do during your summers. Do you want to go back to Phoenix, stay in Massachusetts, or go somewhere else entirely? Do you want to take extra classes, do research, work as an intern, wait tables, or do something else? There are lots of opportunities to earn money and/or gain experience that will help you later in a job search, so decide on, and then pursue, the one that’s right for you.

  17. Gino says:

    @ number 2:

    Google Voice and/or “call phone” within G-mail to call landlines might also be reasonable alternatives since the OP said she only used her landline number to give out to companies and others whom she may not wish to have her “real” or “cell” number.

  18. valleycat1 says:

    Erica & Kate – In addition to living below your means while in college, plan on working at least during the summers & sock away as much of that $ as possible. That should give you a decent nest egg to take some of the pressure off finding a job immediately upon graduation.

    I personally am against adult children moving back home (or parents moving in with the kids) to save up for some large expense except in the direst circumstances, but if the parents & the children are happy with the arrangement, I don’t feel I have any right to judge!

  19. Sarah says:

    @ Kerry D

    I agree, Living at home is not always negative. I am an adult who lives with my mother and step father. Yes I pay rent, pay my own bills, and contribute to living expenses. It works great because my expenses are lower, and they dont have to pay a house sitter everytime they go on one of their month long vactions. Plus we are all really close, its nice having family around all the time.

  20. Saagar says:

    @Elizabeth For netflix try checking out instantwatcher.com. That site gives you a lot of search options to customize your search.

  21. Johanna says:

    @Jessie: Trent hinted at this, but I think it bears repeating: Most of the “crashes” predicted by the Hindenburg Omen have been *tiny*. A 5% drop barely even registers over the long term, or even over the medium term.

    You don’t say how old you are, but if you’re not within a few years of retirement (or already retired), your best course of action is to keep investing as you’ve been investing, and ignore the noise. Trying to time the market, especially if your timing decisions are based on strong emotions, has the very real danger that your money will be out of stocks at exactly the wrong time, you’ll miss a big market upswing, and you’ll be worse off than if you’d stayed the course.

    And as long as you’re adding to your 401(k) rather than withdrawing from it, market volatility is your friend, because it gives you more opportunities to buy stocks for less than they’re fundamentally worth. When the idiots panic and dump their investments, that is a good thing for you, as long as you’re not one of them.

  22. CNM says:

    To the college-aged letter writers, I would really, REALLY recommend starting to look at careers that interest you, networking, getting internships, etc.. That is the best way to transition from student life to career life and will give you some direction. Use your career services department at your school and don’t be afraid to talk to your professors about types of careers and jobs available in your major.

  23. Cortney says:

    Erica and Kate- Get a job during college. There is no reason you can’t work at least part time while going to school. It will structure your time and give you built in deadlines and priorities- for example, if there is a test on Wednesday and you work on Tuesday, you pretty much have to study on Monday for it or else you’re screwed. Even in the most difficult degree plans there is room to work low part time.

    Especially if your parents are paying for absolutely everything, there is no reason to not pick up the slack and work. Try and find something in your field, be a teaching assistant, etc. and it will build your resume at the same time.

  24. J says:

    Following up on the “get a job during school advice,” I’m going to suggest a specific job – babysitting. Assuming you can find a few families that you feel comfortable with, you will have a steady stream of work that you can tailor to your schedule (ie declining jobs the night be an exam), and you will likely be busy earning money on many Friday and Saturday nights when most college kids are out spending it, so you get the double whammy of saving and earning at once. I also attended small, lib-arts women’s college in an expensive city, and my friends and I were always in demand as babysitters – the good reputation of the school gave us an instant positive, trustworthy reputation as well. A side benefit was bonding with one of the families that I sat for regularly – it was nice to have a “family” nearby while I’ll was far from home.

  25. Gretchen says:

    We’ve used cell phone only service for several years now and I get very, very few telemarketing calls.

    Certainly not enough to justify the price of a seperate land line.

  26. Gretchen says:

    Also, again: Netflix is still tv.

  27. Gal @ Equally Happy says:

    The omen, and other such indicators are, are not a good reason to enter or leave the market. They are not consistent in predicting stock market moves and are mainly used by TV News networks as a fancy way to scare people. Get a good investment strategy, balance your assets and don’t let scare tactics influence you.

  28. Tejaswi says:

    Excellent answer Trent.

    One more thing I want to add for Marvin (as Im sure Trent knows this): Survivorship bias.

    Don’t look at how many 10yr old funds survived today and beat the S&P over last 10 years. Look at how many funds were alive in 2000 and aspired to beat the S&P but could not make the cut in the next 10 years. If a fund survived this long, its because it was doing well. Every other fund died and we mistakenly assume that nobody failed just because we can’t see the funds that failed. And its very hard to predict who the survivors will be.

    “It’s easy to look back and identify funds that beat the market. It’s impossible to look forward and do the same thing. Managed funds with a great record tank all the time. Awful funds start hitting hot streaks.”

  29. Johanna says:

    I disagree that it’s always a good idea for a college student to get a part-time job during the semester. I worked one semester for 12 hours a week grading papers, and it was *really* draining. I still managed to do well in all my classes, but I have no idea how. It was a struggle. So I’d caution you that it can be a mistake to commit to a part-time job especially if you don’t have a good feel for how much time you’ll need to spend studying.

    Plus, the jobs that are available to undergraduates typically pay very little. Grading papers, which required a professional level of skill and concentration, paid barely more than minimum wage. Another semester, I worked as a tutor, and since I had to spend at least as much time (unpaid) preparing for my tutoring sessions as in them, my real hourly wage worked out to about $3.50.

    If you really have a lot of extra time on your hands, consider taking an extra class (or two) instead. If possible, choose classes that will allow you to graduate early, and you’ll actually come out ahead, financially, of where you’d be if you’d gotten the part-time job: You’ll save one or two semesters’ tuition, and you’ll get to start your full-time job one or two semesters early.

    If you can’t or don’t want to graduate early, then consider trying to pick up a second (or third) major or a minor, or gettting a master’s degree concurrent with your bachelor’s. That can also make a lot of financial sense, since you’ll have more career options open to you. (My career, for example, is one that I wouldn’t be qualified for if it weren’t for my third major.)

    Ultimately, if you’re going to college because you want to learn, spending big chunks of your time doing other things (partying, playing video games, *or* working for minimum wage if you don’t need the money) means that you’re not getting your money’s worth. It’s like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet and leaving while you’re still hungry.

  30. Dave M says:

    Trent, here’s the permanent fix for linking to entries – it also solves the question of what would be meant by “1122”. You will simply need to name the bookmarks to be unique to the post.

    e.g.: #2010-08-26-01; #2010-08-26-02, etc.

  31. marie says:

    I think a part time job in university is a great idea. I’ve had semesters with and some without a job, and the ones with were actually the most successful ones.

    This is completely a case by case thing and for some people having a job will definitively lead to lower performance academically. But if you had a part time job in high school, and you did well, then it will be the same in university.

    It really depends on what you want to get out of college. Also, a part time job, esp. an on campus job, will usually be flexible and work with your schedule so that you aren’t working late nights or weekends. That way your evenings and weekends are still all yours to study. Also, the 10-12 hours will benefit your resume enormously when it is time to get a summer job or internship and when you graduate. Yes, good marks are good, but in many fields, good marks mean nothing without experience.

    And personally, I can do 5 classes + 10 hours of work, but I cannot do 6 classes. Too much school at the same time can be really bad since all the stuff like midterms and papers and finals will all fall at the same time. Many campus jobs will let you bank hours at the beg of the semester so that you can take a week off during your midterms and finals.

  32. Azar says:

    I have to disagree that getting a part time job and scrimping and saving is the best way to make yourself financially independent. The best way to do that is to get the most out of your time at Wellesley. Do everything you can to do well in classes and take ones you enjoy. Get involved in activities that interest you. Get to know the career councilors, they can help you build the tools and be prepared when it comes time to find a job, and search early and often. Use your time at school to find out about yourself, to foster your interests, and make the most out of opportunities. And finally, apply to as many scholarships and grants as are open to you.

  33. reulte says:

    Joan – All other things being equal, I agree with Trent -go for the job with benefits. However, all things are not probably not equal. How early could you retire in the private sector? Which job do you prefer more? Which gives you a better location for instance near family/friends or international travel or locality pay?

    Alexandra – Three or four generations ago, it was common for parents and kids and grandkids and in-laws to all live together and perhaps we are returning to that custom. Perhaps their parents wanted them to move in; perhaps there are other benefits on both sides that you aren’t seeing. You see them spending on what you consider excess . . . well, moving in with parents is their way of being frugal and perhaps they see you as extragant for not moving in with your parents. Anyway, if it really bothers you then don’t hang around them for a while. Perhaps they won’t invite you to the wedding and you’ll save a bundle on gifts not purchased. OK – please forgive snippy remark, but if they’re you friends then just get over your thoughts about them and stay friends. If they complain about something that you’re saving on, let them know nicely – “Wow, flowers are expensive. I’m glad I asked for a discount from the florist”. Congrats on your own nuptuals.

    Erica – Short answer – learn to budget. While you’re in college learn to minimize costs. My favorite way was not to buy text books – most can be found in the library or borrowed from another student (be nice to them!) or even the professor. Exams are almost never from the test, but from class discussion. I see you have a goal – financial independence upon graduation and it’s a great goal. Work on how to achieve it with mini-goals throughout college such as save at least 10% of my money each month. Network. Visit the professors during office hours both for course assistance and with your plans for the future.

  34. Anne says:

    For the person with 14 student loans, I recently looked into consolidation while helping my sister with her finances. You are still able to consolidate and the consolidation may help you take better advantage of some of the new income based repayment plans. I wish I had good advice on private loans but I didn’t take any out and neither did my sis. But for federal loans of any flavor, these sites should help:


    The interest rate calculations take a little tinkering but you should be able to figure out if consolidating right now would help.

    I’m not sure any private loan firms are offering consolidations right now. The government is pretty much the only game in town. If you do have any private student loans it’s probably best to do some research on the terms and pay those off first as they tend to be much more restrictive.

    Also, a note to Trent, 14 may sound odd but it’s possible that all of the loans are serviced by the same company. My sister’s 8 are all with the same firm.

  35. Jaime says:

    how aboHow about changing the font type for the question? Bolding helps, but it’s still a very “hard” read.

  36. reulte says:

    I agree with Johanna that it can be draining to get a job during college, but that can depend on the job. One of my majors was biology and one of my jobs (after sophmore year )was teaching beginning botany lab and I had a blast doing it because it was an extension of my major which I loved. Another job I had was computer room monitor — a job with not much to do except take ID cards and fill the printers with paper. Plenty of study time.

  37. Adam Jaskiewicz says:

    Erica, financial independence out of college means getting a job that can pay your expenses with enough left over to save. Concentrate on that. Your college expenses are covered, so take advantage of that. Volunteer. Take part-time jobs, but look for things that relate to your field to build industry experience. Look for internships (even unpaid) and co-ops over the sumer to build your resume rather than taking a full course-load over the summer. Participate in campus organizations relevant to your major(s), and become a leader (IEEE, forensics, whatever is applicable). If you can land a job right out of college, and hold onto it, you’re set. If you graduate and spend the next two years job-searching, you’ll run out of money and have to move in with your parents even if you put the whole $250/month into a saving’s account.

  38. jim says:

    Joan: Go for the benefits. Government pensions and benefits are worth more than a few thousand in base salary.

    Mylinh: Also consider the Ooma system for VOIP. It costs about $200 up front but no monthly charges.

    Jessie: As you so accurately put it the so called omen is just an “ominous-sounding, overly-complex financial Ouija board”. And one that doesn’t work very well at that. 75% of the time the Hindenburg Omen happens there is no crash afterwards. Thats totally useless in my opinion. In fact its much more of a predictor of a lack of a crash.

    Erica & Kate: I’d get yourself a degree in a field that has a chance of getting a yourself a decent paying job. Thats the best thing you can do in college to improve your future financial success. Consider engineering or business.

  39. Cortney says:

    #21 Johanna-

    How many hours a semester were you taking? I’m just surprised that working 12 hours a week was really draining. Were you in a very intense, hard science major, taking 18 to 21 hours…. ? I’m genuinely curious.

    I think when it comes to jobs I hold people to high expectations, because during undergrad I worked 3 jobs, about 40 hours a week, plus never took less than 12 hours (4 classes) a semester, and I had to maintain a high GPA to keep my scholarship. I had to be strict with my time management, but I still had a very active social life, got great grades, and graduated in 4 years. Of course, necessity breeds invention, and I didn’t have the option, at all, of parental help. It was student loans or work. I chose the latter.

    I did the same in grad school- worked full time (they had tuition reimbursement for full time workers) and took 3 classes a semester, summers off, graduated with a near perfect GPA. I’m not saying this to brag, but rather as an example that it goes back to you do what you have to do to survive, and since I didn’t have the option of mom and dad paying, and I refused to live off of student loans, I worked. I quickly learned how to budget my time, and while I passed on the typical college “let’s stay up until 2 a.m. watching movies and drinking and then sleep in all day the next day” I was *always* there for the concerts, the weekend trips, the birthday and grad parties, the on campus events, etc. I also didn’t leave “hungry” for more education- I somehow managed to fit in extra classes and extra reading/research, and also volunteered.

    It’s just very, very difficult for me to imagine that it is impossible for the vast majority of college students to at least work 10-15 hours at a job. Numerous studies have shown that holding a part time job in college helps students budget time, budget money, and be more responsible.

  40. Julia says:

    I recommend you get an internship in your field as soon as you possibly can!
    This may mean working for free. If all your expenses are covered than you can do that. And it will probably be worth the investment when it comes time to find a paying job after graduation.

    I worked the whole time I was in college. 20-40 hours a week for six years, every semester.

    Got my first internship in my field during my junior year, making minimum wage. This was a big income reduction at that time, and I had to live off that.

    Changed companies in my senior year, making a little bit more, doing more challenging work. The results? I had a signed offer letter in my hand 2 months before I graduated. The Monday following my graduation I went back to work with a new title, full benefits, and double my intern salary.

    If I was able to work for free, I would have gotten into an internship my freshman year. But most engineering employers want their interns to at least start their engineering classes before they start paying them.

    That was in 2007. The engineering industry had just started to slow down, with new development already on the decline. Many of my classmates (with much better grades, I should add) took 6 months to a year to find work. I have a few classmates that got all A’s, got into a master’s program, and now they’re screwed because the industry has gotten a lot worse and employers would rather have me (with experience) than them (with good grades and a master’s degree).

    I know a lot of people argue against working while in school because it’s distracting and time consuming. My internships were more critical to my education than any of my classes. The classes just got my foot in the door.

    I once had a teacher explain to me that it didn’t bother him to see me slacking off in his class, because he knew I was working almost full time. He said you have to decide what your priorities are.

    Getting A’s was never my priority. Graduation was my 1st priority, my job was my 2nd. Graduation only requires C’s.

    If you’re going for a highly competitive field, or a post-graduate degree, than you need better grades. If you’re happy to just get your degree and get to work, make your intership a higher priority.

  41. jgonzales says:


    I’m the same age you are and have friends in the same situation (actually, for awhile it seemed like we were the only couple we knew with their own place). Does it bother me? Yeah, but I don’t let it get in the way of my friendship. Most of my friends have kids too and find that after about a year, they aren’t so happy with the situation anymore. It’s not universally true, but most of my friends went from spending on various things to saving for their own place.

  42. Very cool to see so many younger readers starting to wrap their heads around all of this finance stuff. Kudos to all you recent grads who are taking the time and making the effort to put yourself on solid financial ground. It will pay HUGE dividends later down the road.

  43. Johanna says:

    @Cortney: My university didn’t measure course credits in hours, but that particular semester I was taking four “real” classes (organic chemistry, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, and an independent study with a research lab), plus music and dance lessons, plus applying to grad schools, and I was grading papers for two mid-level math classes. The course load was actually significantly lighter than I’d taken in the past.

    I don’t think it was a matter of not having time to do it all so much as not having the mental energy. I love math and science, but there’s only a certain amount of it that I can handle at a time. Maybe if I’d gotten a 12-hour-per-week job babysitting or watching the computer room, it would have been easier. But since I didn’t need the money, I would rather I had those 12 hours a week back.

    And my point – for Erica, at least, who doesn’t sound like she needs the money either – is that having a job during the semester does not always make sense, and that that’s OK. Trying to prove that you can handle a job, to meet the “high expectations” of a stranger on the internet, or to assuage any feelings of guilt that you’re getting help from your parents while other people aren’t, is not a good reason to get a job if it doesn’t otherwise make sense for you.

  44. Johanna says:

    @Marvin: I can find many *index* funds that have soundly beat the S&P 500 over the last 10 years. The S&P 500 is not the only index in town – you can have an index for any sector of the market. For example, Vanguard’s Small-Cap Value index fund returned 7.6% a year for the last 10 years. All that proves is that small-cap value stocks did better than the large-cap stocks that make up the S&P 500 over that period of time.

    I’d be willing to bet that most of the actively managed funds you’re looking at did so well simply because they focus on the sectors of the market that happened to do well, and that if you compare each fund with the index fund(s) for the same sector(s), you wouldn’t find nearly as big a difference in performance.

  45. Julia says:

    I also want to add that working was draining. It still is. I was in “survival mode” for months at a time and had to force myself to take a few days off after finals every term. But it paid off big time!

  46. Katie says:

    I don’t think working is a bad idea at all in college – I did much of the time, up to about 20 hours a week, without seeing my grades suffer as a result. BUT, since Erica is lucky enough not to have to work during college, I’d urge her to think about other opportunities that she can pick up as a result that will be even more fulfilling, and ultimately rewarding. A semester or year studying abroad is the big one that comes to mind – for most people, there are few other times in your life when you can just pick up and live in a foreign country for a year, and certainly not with someone else footing the bill. Really a wonderful experience. Unpaid internships are another – my brother, for instance, built great relationships in his field in college by working for free, which led to paid jobs on graduation (and some paid freelance work even before). And another is an intensive extracurricular activity, if you feel compelled to pursue one. If you yearn to be on the college newspaper’s editorial board, why not? It’s a huge commitment that you might not be able to swing if you’re also holding down a huge job but could also be a fantastic experience.

    So I guess my advice would be to work when time allows, on-campus or off, but not to be so rigid about it that you’re passing up fulfilling unpaid opportunities that may never come your way again.

  47. GC says:

    I was confused for a moment about that really tall grad also

  48. Jackie says:

    I’m still confused about that tall grad.

  49. Karla says:


    good catch – thanks for the correction

  50. Nick says:

    Include special characters in your password as well for extra security. Some sites won’t allow certain characters such as apostrophes and semi-colons due to SQL Injection issues, etc – but try to include them wherever you can!

  51. Johanna says:

    @Kate: It’s hard to say what you need to learn without knowing how much you know already, but here are three things that I wish I’d known more about when I was your age:

    1. Your credit report and credit score (specifically your FICO score), why they’re important, and how you can build good ones. In a nutshell, they’re the official records of how you handle credit, and they’re used by mortgage lenders and the like to determine what terms to give you on a loan. It takes years of using credit responsibly to build a good credit score, so even if you don’t think you want a mortgage or other big loan any time soon, it may be a good idea to get started now. If you want to start building your credit history, get a credit card or two as soon as you can if you don’t have one already, use it for some or all of your everyday spending, pay off the whole balance on time every month, and never let the total amount owed rise above 20-30% of the total credit limit.

    2. If you’re going to get a credit card, you need to understand how they work and some of the traps you need to watch out for. Just last year, Congress passed a new law (called the Credit CARD Act) outlawing most of the biggest dirty tricks credit card issuers used to play, so now they’re busy coming up with new dirty tricks. That means that the things you need to watch out for are probably going to be changing rapidly over the next year or two, so you probably should not rely on books for this information. Liz Pulliam Weston’s columns on MSN Money are a good way of keeping up to date about important changes – she writes about credit cards and many other topics.

    3. Why and how to save for retirement. Retirement is a long way off for a 19-year-old, but it’s also a big goal, so it’s important to save early and save often (10% of your income, minimum, over your whole working life). Even if you don’t think you ever want to retire, you might change your mind, and you might not have a choice. The money you save should go into an account specifically for retirement. That means a 401(k) or similar account through your employer, or an individual retirement account (traditional IRA or Roth IRA) that you open on your own. (In fact, you can even open an IRA now if you have any kind of job.) Read up on the similarities and differences between these types of accounts – the information is easy to find – to decide which is right for you.

  52. Beth says:

    For the person looking for television listings, try Clicker.com. It points the way to basically everything available on the web for either (free or pay), even live sports. I love it. http://www.clicker.com

  53. mary m says:

    my advice for the college kids:
    1) don’t apply for a credit card to get the t-shirt. get only 1 credit card and pay the bill every month in full to establish credit. if you max this credit card out, do not under any circumstances get another credit card.
    2) get an internship or volunteer at something related to your chosen field (school newspaper, radio station, vet office – whatever it may be.) the experience and contacts you rack up now will make you more hireable in 4 years.
    3) take advantage of the opportunities you have to meet with your advisor, chances are they won’t come looking for you, but they will be a great resource if you make the effort to keep in touch with them at least a couple of times a quarter or semester.
    4) have fun, try new things, don’t be afraid to talk to people that are different than you.
    5) don’t start smoking!

  54. SEC Lawyer says:

    I’m surprised and dismayed that no one seems to perceive the (obvious-to-me) point that sizeable promotions and lawful wealth accumulation are possible only in (what government workers call) “private sector” jobs. Yes, of course, $60K in the “private sector” probably “loses” to $50K-plus-benefits “on the dole” (which is how we “private sector” workers view the lives of schoolteachers and other government employees). That’s not healthy, but we can all do the math and see that it’s so. And yet the highest-paid government employee in my state, who happens to be the governor, earns about 25% of what my junior partners earn. So, if you care at all about money, and if you have any talent and ambition, you don’t work for the government — not for long, anyway.

  55. NetFlix = $9/month
    Hulu = $9/month

    Basically, more shows/movies than you could watch for under $20. We even bought a $99 BluRay player with the NetFlix and Internet capabilities, which is really nice. Of course, both of these services are also available just on a computer, so if you have a decent sized screen, that may be all you will need…

  56. brooke says:

    My then fiance and I moved in with his parents for 6 months to save for our wedding. It was a very taxing time on our relationship with them and I am not sure if it was worth the savings. You will need to also consider the damage that can be done to relationships, inadvertently. We had the best of intentions; so did they.We thought we were doing the financially responsible thing, but having lived out of the parents house for over a decade and accustomed to managing our own household, it was actually much more difficult than I imagined.

  57. AnnJo says:

    What SECLawyer said.
    Your career and work-life are about more than “benefits,” most of which are of limited value to a 24-year old anyway*. I’ve worked closely with long-time government employees and long-time private sector workers, and there is a huge difference in what each environment will do for you in the long-term. If security is your first and ONLY criterion, by all means go for the government job, but if you want to see what else is out there in life, at least spend some time in the private sector aka the real world.

    *Many “benefits” cost the employer (especially a government employer) far more than they are worth to the employee. Just because a health plan, for instance, costs the employer $1,000 a month doesn’t mean that it is really worth that to the employee, who might be able to obtain a plan with 95% of the features for 25-35% of the cost.

  58. Jeroen says:

    For Emily:

    Maybe you can look into fingerprint log-ins. My laptop has a fingerprint reader that is linked to an encrypted hash table with all my passwords. It works great.

    The downside is that not all my PCs have such a reader, so I still have to remember them.

  59. Pattie, RN says:

    ERICA….first, congrats on going to one of the few remaining womens’ colleges. It was one of the best choicesI ever made. As the T-shirts say at all our sister schools:


    (Not man bashing…I have been married to one for thirty years and raised two others!)

    But the very best thing you can do for your future is choose your major wisely. BA’s in Philosophy or Sociology are a fast route to a McJob or unemployment after graduation. Do the research, but right now health care professions, such as nursing, physical therapy, ultrsonography and the like are hot tickets, as are most hard science grads (engineering, math, physics). Yes, you will be studying when the English majors are getting drunk and flirting……but it is so worth the work for the $$$$$ afterwards!

  60. Patty says:

    I don’t know how it works but I think Google Voice is free.
    Also for the college students out there. I agree you should skip some of the fluff to save but please don’t skip out on too many experiences. If there is an elective class field trip that you think will be beneficial and costs a few dollars then GO on the trip. Your college educationg isn’t just the classroom and books. Just make sure you use the opportunities and resources available.

  61. Mule Skinner says:

    Higher salary or better benefits? Benefits can be taken away; ask any long-term employee of IBM. (Union website http://www.endicottalliance.org/ )

    Gimme the money now, thank you.

  62. Mule Skinner says:

    Passwords: I used to work with a guy who made them from the first words of a sentence, like this: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back” would produce “tqbfjotldb” by taking the first letter of each word. So now you just remember the sentence.

  63. Danielle says:

    RE: 14 student loans… many companies are no longer allowing you to consolidate student loans, so that might not be an option.

  64. John S says:

    Trent, Skype is $3 per month if you only want to make outgoing calls, which does not replace the functionality of a landline. If Mylinh wants to *receive* calls too, the cost goes up to $6 per month.

    Also there is an extra hidden cost associated with this, because to receive calls, the computer must be on. This also means that if someone in the household is, say, playing a computer game, and the phone rings, he or she will have to abruptly pause, or quit.

    There are (or used to be,) dedicated Skype phones available which plug directly into the router and do not require the computer to be on. If you’re recommending Skype as a total landline replacement, I would recommend acquiring one of those. They’re a couple hundred bucks, but if you’re trying to replicate the telephone functionality, running it from a PC isn’t really going to cut it. I know, because I have been using Skype in this way since 2008. (I pay the $3/month because I don’t care about incoming calls. I just let people call my cellular, and then tell people I’ll call them back on Skype. It’s kind of inconvenient that way, but it does save money.)

  65. Sara says:

    Mylinh: I’m not sure why you need to keep a landline just to field calls from businesses and potential telemarketers. My only phone is a prepaid cell phone, and I use Google Voice to screen calls. I give out my Google Voice number to businesses, etc., instead of my real phone number, and the calls get forwarded to my cell phone so I can answer if I want, but I can pick up the voice mail online without having to use any minutes. I’m too cheap to pay $3/month for Skype (I do use the free version to make Skype-to-Skype calls), but if you make a lot of calls, you could save money on your cell phone by making calls only on Skype whenever possible.

    Erica: You should try to get a full-time job during summer breaks. If you can get a paid internship related to your major, it will not only be a source of income, but will also help you get a better job after graduation. I did work part-time while I was in school (at the front desk in my dorm for close to minimum wage), and in retrospect, the small amount of money I made probably wasn’t worth it. It was a drop in the bucket compared to the full-time paid internship I had for two summers, plus a semester when I did a co-op instead of taking classes. You are very lucky that your parents are paying for everything AND giving you an allowance, so use this opportunity to save up as much as you can.

  66. John S says:

    In Europe, kids living (permanently) with their parents is commonplace. I have relatives in the Old Country with three generations living under the same roof. Some people actually prefer this. I can’t say I’m one of them, but hey, they seem happy enough with it. As an aside, it certainly makes visiting them more convenient.

  67. Rob says:

    With regards to the question by Mylinh: I would also agree with Sara (#48) and suggest you sign up for a Google Voice account. Note, you can now use the Voice/Video plugin for Gmail Chat to dial landlines (just recently announced). It will automatically display as your Google Voice number. This way you can screen your inbound calls and drop your land line, without having to necessarily burn more minutes on your cell phone.

  68. Mike says:

    @Darren, I agree that that best path is to pay the highest interest rate loans first regardless of the balance.

  69. Ajtacka says:

    Skype vs landline: we got a Skype phone a few months ago, and have been thoroughly impressed. It plugs in directly to the router, so it’s independent of what the computer’s doing (off, in use, sleeping, whatever). It also uses the landline, but I saw several similar phones when I was looking that were voip/Skype-only. We got it mostly to make international calls (all my family are overseas) and it’s made a massive difference to our phone bill.

    Kids living with parents: I live in central Europe, and here it is still common, but it’s beginning to change – but then a lot of the culture is different in ways that would make it easier. My boyfriend and I lived with his parents for about 6 months when we first arrived, and we will be again very soon while we renovate our first home (bought with a large chunk of their money, one of those cultural differences). My mother on the other side of the world has lived with one of my sisters and her husband for several years, and will soon move to the UK to be a live-in nanny (for the second time) for my nephews while my other sister works. All of these situations work because each person is treated as an equal adult who just happens to have a relationship extra than flatmate. If either side is still trying to playing the role of ‘mum’ or ‘child’, it can’t and won’t work.

  70. Ajtacka says:

    Also just wanted to mention again a bug I think someone else mentioned: the number of comments listed in the links below each article are often incorrect, never above 20 and often a couple different from the box at the top of the post.

  71. Mary says:

    6 – Agreed with the advice. Limit that fun money and use it for when you graduate. When I graduated in ’08 I didn’t move in with my parents, but rather my long-term boyfriend who graduated a year before me and had a stable job. You never know what life might throw at you, be it emergencies, moving for an internship or full-time job, or whatever the case may be.

    10 – My boyfriend and I recently switched to Netflix and ditched our cable. We also built our own “rabbit ears” for one of our TVs. It works great, and for us the turnaround time for DVDs is fairly fast, compared to when I used it a few years ago. SO much better than cable. Our bill with cable, internet and a land line phone ran us well over $100 a month, not to mention our cell phones. Now we have an average speed internet at $35 a month, only cell phones (shared plan, $140 a month), and Netflix at $18 a month. So around $150 in savings, if not more. :)

  72. Jianling says:

    Cheap land lines
    As Patty (#44) and Sara (#48) mentioned, Google Voice is a great option if you wanna say goodbye to phone companies providing landline services. It’s completely free and it has tons of features that other telephony companies doesn’t have or offer right now. Here’s a video from Google explaining a few of the “selling points” (though we don’t need to spend a penny when we make calls to US and Canada) of Google Voice:

  73. EngineerMom says:

    On living with parents: My husband, my 2-year-old son, and I lived with my parents for 6 months. This time with them directly followed a long-distance move due to my husband’s job change. Rather than rent an apartment and pay for storing stuff, we opted to live with them in their 4-bedroom house, which was now empty due to all the kids being moved out. We saved enough money to buy a house and do some work on it before moving in. My mom, who works full-time, loved having us around because I am a stay-at-home mom and could do odd jobs around the house, let the dogs out when she had to work late, plus I did all the menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. My dad was working at a job 4 hours away, and so was only home on the weekends. It was definitely good for my mom to have people around the house.

    I used to think living with one’s parents was a cop-out to being a responsible adult because the adult child was getting a free ride. Now I know better – we were all adults contributing to the household in different ways. How different would so many lives in this country be if there were 3 or 4 or even more earning adults contributing to a household, with another adult home full-time to care for children and run the household?

  74. Scott says:

    Regarding passwords, I strictly use KeePass instead of the formula based plan because many websites store your password instead of the encrypted password. That means lots of people have access to your formula. If you have ever received your password in email then you know they store it instead of the encrypted version of it.


  75. T says:

    Re: reader mailbag numbering of links, I read from RSS, and these links never work. For example, when I read this post from Google Reader, I’m sent to https://www.thesimpledollar.com/#10826 – not https://www.thesimpledollar.com/2010/08/26/reader-mailbag-shortcut-fixing/#10826 . Not sure how that happens, but thought you might like to know.

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