Living Outside the Financial System

Living off the grid seems to be a bit of a trend lately, and it’s one that will likely stick around. As things get more expensive and consumer oriented, it’s not a bad idea to shirk the system and find alternative ways of doing things.

We see people doing this with housing, careers, and even their food sources. We are now seeing more and more people doing this with the financial system.

It makes sense. The financial system that has been built up over the past few decades is flawed. Credit cards charge insane interest rates and annual fees. Banks charge you an account fee just for the pleasure of borrowing your money. You are paying a substantial amount each month just to.. well, have money (or not).

Here are some huge benefits to living outside of the traditional financial system:

Saving Money

The vast majority of the developed world has a credit card, a debit card, and banks with a traditional bank. Recently, there has been an onset of free banking options being introduced, as banks have realized that free accounts give them a competitive edge. Even more interestingly, there have been a few services that have opened up that aren’t banks, but allow you to do all of the “banking” you need.

One such service is Bluebird by American Express. It’s not a bank, but allows you to direct deposit your pay, put money away in savings, transfer money, pay for things – it’s pretty much a full service non-bank. You save a lot of money while doing so, and you don’t have to be tied down to a brick-and-mortar bank.

Convenience

There is a reason why there are jokes around bankers hours. Banks are known for their inconvenient hours. Nowadays, they larger ones are making an effort to stay open later for.. well, the entire world who works and does things during the day that doesn’t allow them to show up at a bank at 11:00 AM. However, even with extended hours, it’s pretty inconvenient.

I believe that most things should be able to be done online. I should be able to deal with my finances solely online; I should be able to grocery shop online (one day!) and take courses online. It’s far more convenient.

These non-banking solutions help you save time (and inevitably money) by allowing you to do everything you need to do through apps and the internet, and, if absolutely necessary, the phone.

This freaks a lot of the older generation out, but when you get used to it, it’s freeing!

Doing Things Differently

Just because most people do something one way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do things.

The financial system was developed and was a good way of doing things for it’s time, but it’s time has long passed. The world changes and evolves minutely; things that were relevant a decade ago become irrelevant and inconvenient and expensive.

The principles behind Mr. Money Mustache kind of push readers to do things differently, to not get sucked into what everyone else does because it just doesn’t work for everybody. I love this principle. I live by it all the time; it’s the norm to take money from your parents to put you through school, or take out student loans to get your education, but it’s a norm that I don’t subscribe to.

Do things that work for you, not because everyone else does it that way.

 

Have you ever considered living outside of the financial system?

Apartment Hunting as a College Student – How to Save Money

When you start looking for a place to live as a college student, it can be easy to get pulled into more expensive or less convenient places than you actually want. Instead of following your peers and friends, make sure you apartment hunt the right way to get an apartment that will suit your needs your budgets and your own personal requirements.

save money apartment hunting

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Rent According to Your Schedule

The best way to choose an apartment is based on where your classes are located. Locate apartments that are close by to where you tend to go to the most.

Related: Financial benefits to living on campus

Do you work at a pizza place downtown? Make sure your apartment is convenient so you don’t have a lot of downtime in your schedule. Do you tend to go to class in a building that’s farther away from most buildings on campus? Then you need to make sure that the apartment you get will make it easier to meet the needs of your schedule.

Live with Roommates

The most budget-friendly thing you can do in college is to live with roommates. However, you need to make sure that you live with people you want to live with, not that you want to party with. Your home needs to be a place where you can study entertain or have friends stay with you. It does not need to be a place where there’s always a party lots of alcohol or other things that might require you to give a disclaimer to any of your guests.

The best we can protect yourself is to create a roommate agreement. Even if your best friends are the people that you are moving in with, it’s still important to have an agreement in place so that everyone is protected and all of your preferences are out in the open. This agreement should cover overnight friends and visiting families, how you’ll divide the bills and the cost of rent, and what you’ll do if someone needs to leave your apartment lease agreement early.

Stock-Up on Apartment Basics Smartly

When you first start buying things for your apartment, those little expenses can add up. Even just kitchen supplies can run several hundred dollars if you don’t shop correctly. Make the best of your situation by shopping yard sales in your college town or visiting thrift shops. You can find the things you need a fraction of the cost and that is money that you can save on your student loans or put into savings so that you don’t have to work as much during school year.

How have you saved money apartment hunting as a student?

Part Time Jobs that Fit the College Schedule

While your first choice might be college student-friendly on-campus jobs, there’s a whole world of opportunity off campus that can help you pad your savings account as you take classes and further your education.

Better yet? Not only can these jobs be higher paying than those on-campus, they can also help you figure out what jobs you might enjoy in the future.

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Practice Your Green Thumb Lawn Maintenance

Many college campuses are surrounded by family or elderly communities of retired or practicing professors, faculty, and staff members. Put out flyers for help with lawn maintenance and recurring outside projects that these populations might prefer to outsource. Bonus points: you might meet some very important people you otherwise wouldn’t run into, and your hard work will speak well for you.

Get a Workout with Local Gyms

If you’re fit and love to exercise, chances are there’s a local gym or community center who can use your energy. Stop by and share your love of sports, running, swimming, or other community activities and see if they have any paid internship opportunities available. Just be prepared to treat it like a job — if you are scheduled for appointments or classes and you don’t show, you likely won’t be invited back.

The added benefit? You’ll likely get a membership for free, saving you the cost of your own gym membership, and you’ll also be paid for time you would probably spend working out anyway!

Write Blogs for an Income

Do you love to write on a variety of topics, but don’t feel like you have the experience or know-how to get a job as a full time writer? Many websites pay people to write blog posts, website copy, and articles, and so long as you’re a good writer, they don’t care about your credentials. Get started on ProBlogger and Blogging Pro job boards and see if there’s a good fit with your interests!

I’ve recently written a post about whether you should blog for money in college, so check that out too.

Double-Up on Benefits

A sneaky way to get the most out of college employment is to find a job somewhere you spend a lot of money. For example,  get hired at a grocery store to get the employee discount on your weekly groceries, or at the movie theater to supplement your entertainment budget. The only trick? Make sure working there won’t encourage you to spend more money than you usually would, as in the case of most clothing and electronic stores.

What are your favorite off-campus part time job ideas?

How to Start an Online Store: Create A Great Content Strategy

Untitled1There are many important elements to starting an online store, and you may be wondering about all the aspects you might be forgetting. In the midst of getting photographs of products, designing a store, creating a business and marketing strategy, and attempting to make sales, you may be forgetting about a content strategy. Content is a key element in selling items, and if your product description is off, you will find that this limits your sales numbers. This blog is going to explore why content strategies are important and how to implement them into your new online store.

What Is A Content Strategy?

Content strategies go hand-in-hand with marketing strategies. Content is a major part of every online business, and it is what you send out when you are participating in marketing, but this does not mean that it is only part of marketing. This is one of the most important aspect of how to start a online store. You need to have great content everywhere around your store. The content your store will need is a biography about you and the store, what you sell, product descriptions, automatic emails, and the blog connected to your store. Make sure you have great content for each element; the best way to do this is write it in a unique manner and make it fit the tone of your store.

Why Is Content Important to Starting An Online Store?

Great content is what will bring in sales, and bad content is what will keep your sales down. All you have to do is peruse Twitter and see that many people refuse to purchase items or services from companies who use improper grammar, do not use spell check, or use an incorrect word (i.e. irregardless vs. regardless). If you do not have great content, people will automatically judge your store and services as being something they should not trust. Always make sure every piece of content is edited to be grammatically sound and utilize proper words. Once you have great content, people will begin to buy from you. In the world of online stores, you may be one of the few stores that have great content. This will set you apart from many competitors and help your business become very successful.

How Do I Implement A Content Strategy?

Create a list of the different aspects of your store that will need written content and begin to consider how you want your store to sound. Do you want to be more laidback and fun or sound more professional? Content is what creates this atmosphere for online stores, as an online store cannot rely on decorations and store setup to craft that atmosphere. Here are a few ways to utilize an effective content strategy:

  • Do not make your readers scroll through tons of content. They do not like having to work very hard to learn about your store and services. Keep your content concise and use a photograph or video every now-and-then to break up written content.
  • Do not overdue the marketing aspect on your site. This comes across as a used car salesperson and readers do not like that. Save your marketing voice for emails, advertisements on other sites, and other marketing venues. The fact that the customer is on your site means your marketing is effective, so stop trying to sell them on your  store. Use your content to guide them through your  store seamlessly.

 Product Descriptions Will Make or Break Sales

The most important content on your site is your product descriptions. Your product descriptions must be engaging and eye-catching, as well as unique. This can be easy if you are creating your own, handmade products to sell, but if you are re-selling items you may be tempted to copy and paste the original description. Customers will notice this so it is important to craft your own, unique descriptions for all items you sell. Effective product descriptions will increase sales.

What If I Am Not Great At Writing?

If you are not very skilled with writing or know that you have poor grammar skills, you can always ask a friend or family member who is skilled in this area. Most people are willing to help their friends out as they start a new business venture, especially if it means they can add the work to their résumé. You can also hire professional writers, but this might be too expensive as you start an online store. Consider all the different aspects of potentially hiring people to write for you and set out a portion of your budget to hire professional writers in the future. This will help bring in significant business for your company.

 

Great content is going to be the best thing for your store. Once you have crafted great content for your store and your marketing campaigns, you will notice your sales increasing, bringing more revenue than you expected. Have fun with your content creation!