Looking for LOLz? Eric & Ilsa Struggling To Get By On $450,000 Per Year

Have you heard of Eric & Ilsa? This Vancouver couple are struggling to come up with a workable budget for $450,000 per year, because right now they are living on the edge, people, THE EDGE. The couple lives rent-free in a relative’s house while they build their $1.1 million dollar dream home. Their five children attend private school, except the baby, who is cared for by a full-time nanny, mom on maternity leave, and dad who only works 2 days a week.

As you can imagine, I don’t really feel all that bad for them.

The comments on the original post are good…

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… the parody accounts are better

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I love it.

Because these people suck.

How I Got An MBA For Cheap

As a few of you might already know, I spent the end of last week catching up with Cait from Blonde On A Budget, Krystal of Give Me Back My Five Bucks, Jordann from My Alternate Life, and Jess of Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses in Toronto for a RateHub event (post about how I’m switching credit cards coming later this week!). We had a great time, and one of the things everyone asked me was:

How is the MBA?

Um, the MBA is the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done, and I feel both a sense of bewilderment that it is almost finished and a crushing sense of foreboding that it will never, ever end.

I’ve always been reluctant to make the degree the center of my life for its duration, even though that would seem the most logical strategy in order to get the most out of it. Instead I looked for ways to get the most done as fast as possible (like maxing out summer classes) and procrastinate nearly every assignment or studying for exams until the very last minute. I’ve wanted the MBA to be over since it started, and 16 months in, my wish to be done is proportionately stronger.

But it was affordable. 

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The end is in sight!!

Most people are shocked when they learn the low-cost of my graduate degree. They’re not the only ones. Originally I expected my MBA to cost approximately $50,000 when all was said and done, but after paying my last tuition bill a few weeks ago, it’s clear I grossly over-estimated the costs.

Related: Does An MBA Cost Less Than You Think It Does?

The main reason for my over-estimate is my degree was seriously front-loaded for expenses. For my first year, a single semester cost $10,000 — but for this term I’m currently completing, my bill was only $4,800. This is mainly because of the structure of the program: 12 of my required 20 courses were completed in first year, then I knocked off an additional 2 in the summer, and finished with 3 each in the Fall and Winter terms of my last year. All in, this was the total price of my MBA:

Tuition & Fees: $35,390.28

Books, Cases & Other Materials: $1,504.74

TOTAL MBA COSTS: $36,895.02

It’s nearly $14,000 less than I predicted, which is not insignificant savings. To pay for it, I used scholarships, withdrew $18,135 from my TFSA, and did a pay-as-you-go for this year, using income from my internship and current full-time job. I opted not to withdraw any funds from my RRSP under the lifelong learning plan – and good thing: my RRSP returned 17%+ while I was in school. I’m expecting/hoping for another scholarship to come through for this term, and in March or April, I’ll receive $2,000 for the Alberta completion grant. When all is said & done, my MBA will have cost me only $20,000 out of pocket. If you count a year of lost income, the total cost is about $80,000. I consider this a moderate investment for a degree program that increased my annual earnings by >40% — a salary jump that would have required 11 years of annual raises in my pre-MBA job.

My uber cheap tuition is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, however, as the school is opting to increase the tuition by $300 per course in future years. This means that someone getting an MBA next year will spend about $43,000 for what I paid $37,000 for. Compared to schools in the US, or even others across Canada, this is still a fairly affordable bill, but it’s still a noticeable price increase. I expect tuition will increase year over year so long as people are willing to pay it.

How I Got An MBA For Cheap:

So there are no real secrets in that list, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. While I know I lucked out getting into my program before they did a major tuition increase, I hope the other items help students understand that your estimates of what a graduate program will cost you might be way, way off and there are a lot of resources out there and behavior modifications you can make to help pay for it.

I’ve worked my butt off during my MBA to stay afloat financially while still maintaining an A-minus-or-higher grade point average, and I am totally beat. But I’m thrilled to be nearly done, and happy with what I’ve learned… and so excited for everything that comes next. The MBA was a game-changing career move for me, and I’ll be enjoying the rewards for my whole life. Don’t tell the school, but I probably would have paid double for it!

Extreme Couponing: Starter Tips to Maximize Your Total Savings

Looking to cut your grocery bills in half? Well if you haven’t given couponing a try, you could be missing out on some great savings. We often look at coupons and wonder how a savings of a few pennies can add up to a large discount on groceries. However, if you’ve seen even one episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing you might think twice about tossing your weekend paper. With the right techniques in place, you can save anywhere from a few pennies to 100% on your grocery bills each month. Below are some tips on how to capitalize on your savings.

1.  Find Various Coupon Sources

If you’re going to get the most savings each month on your grocery bills, you’re going to need a lot more coupon sources than just your weekend newspaper. If you’re wondering where to find coupons, there are a lot of different places to check including: printable coupon websites, manufacturer’s websites, weekly circulars or newspapers, mailings, and personal couponing blogs. Combining several sources together will allow you to receive the most coupons for higher discounts on your groceries.

2.  Organize Your Coupons

Before you begin using your coupons at participating stores it is beneficial to organize them for easier access. Organizing your coupons keeps you from missing valuable savings or forgetting their expiration date. There are several ways to organize your coupons:

·  Coupon Organizers – coupon organizers can be found at a grocery store. They are wallet sized (a bit larger) organizers equipped with dividers. These dividers are labeled (some labeled by food groups, others labeled by food types). You can then place your coupons in the dividers to make it easier to retrieve when you’re at the checkout counter.

·  Photo/Card Albums – Over time, your coupon organizer may not be enough to hold all of your coupons in them. In this instance, it may be better for you to invest in a photo or card album for organization. These types of albums already have clear sections that you can easily use to organize your coupons. Label each section of the album with a different category and then arrange them as you see fit.  

3.  Checking the Weekly Sales

We talked with Natalie Cooper of BankingSense about this topic, and she said, “If you’re going to get the most savings each week on your grocery bill, you should match them up with the weekly circulars you receive. By keeping a close eye on what items are on sale, you can receive additional savings for using your coupons as well.”

4.  Check Store Policies

Whether you’re familiar with the grocery stores you’re shopping in or not, it is ideal to consider checking store policies. Each store has their own set of guidelines as it pertains to coupons. Some policies may exclude certain types of coupons, while others have rules as it pertains to double and triple coupon savings to a certain dollar amount. For your first few trips, it may be beneficial to print out the store’s coupon guidelines to keep with you. You don’t want to get stuck at the register trying to figure out which coupons can be used for additional savings.

5.  Look for Double and Triple Coupon Deals

Many stores will offer double and triple coupon deals. While policies may vary by store, in general, customers can receive additional savings by doubling or tripling the value of their coupon’s face value. For example, if you have a $0.50 off coupon but the store offers double or triple savings, then your coupon is essentially good for $1 to $1.50 in savings. Some stores offer this year round while others will have periodic events that allow customers to save more.

These five tips will most certainly help you in starting your extreme couponing quest. Remember, finding reliable sources, getting organized, and keeping an eye out for sales and coupon events (double and triple), you can save an additional amount of money on your grocery bill each month. Many customers have even created a stockpile which helps them to cut out on their costs for several months. When you start seeing significant savings, take the extra money and put it towards something else.

5 Reasons Education Degrees Are Totally Worthwhile

Teacher1On university campuses around the United States, degrees in education can sometimes have bad reputations. Though education students are hardworking, caring individuals, students of other degree programs — notably business, engineering, or the hard sciences (guilty!) — sometimes scoff at the concept of earning a degree in teaching, believing the programs to be easy or unintellectual. However, an education degree earns a student more than a B.A. on his or her resume. Here are the surprising ways an education degree can pay a student back after graduation.

1. High Demand for Teachers

The American workforce suffered a huge blow during the Great Recession, with many millions of jobs lost and never recovered due to the flagging economy. However, in the seven years since the recession, countless communities around the country continued to suffer from shortages of teachers. In fact, projections from 2008 expected demand to increase more than 13 percent in 10 years, meaning more than 500,000 positions should appear before 2018.

Even as the economy begins to recover, big cities like St. Louis, Missouri and Salt Lake City, Utah (where my parents live!) still have thousands of open positions for qualified educators. Fields like special education and English as a second language are particularly valued, but any type of education degree will ensure a graduate a job fresh out of university. Teachers are timeless and universal necessities, so the career path is almost completely economy-proof.

2. Livable Wages

It’s true: Being a teacher will not necessarily make you rich. However, an education degree does offer a stable, reliable income, which is more than can be said for innumerable other university degrees. Generally, a teacher at any grade level below college makes upwards of $40,000 per year. In Canada, the starting salaries can be even higher, and boast the same job security and great pensions.

While this is not a staggering figure, savvy savers can continue to build wealth in other ways, including picking up side jobs, like tutoring, night teaching, or online teaching, or investing in the stock market. A truly livable wage is nothing to scoff at, especially as unemployment climbs among recent college graduates, who are left to fend for their immense student debts alone. Having 2 months free every summer is ample time to develop a profitable side hustle.

Teacher23. Specialties

As with most careers, specializing within the education field is likely to yield better employment outcomes. For example, working in special education provides some of the best salaries in the entire teaching industry, with salaries frequently breaching the $50,000 mark. There are hundreds of ways to specialize, including advanced degrees in education and other subjects.

In fact, areas of specialization and advancement that many teachers may not be aware of include:

  • Community counseling. Teachers can also function as school counselors, helping students overcome personal struggles while providing invaluable academic instruction.
  • Cultural and social thought on education. Though it may feel that school is a world unto itself, greater society and culture impacts education in many ways. This specialization provides teachers insight into how the outside world has affected academia, both historically and contemporarily.
  • Curriculum and instruction. Most teachers are rather practiced at crafting lesson plans, but this program introduces new theories and methods of teaching students.
  • Educational leadership. Ambitious teachers with an eye toward administrative positions would do well to specialize in educational leadership, which offers programs geared toward certification for educational administrators from principals to superintendents.

4. Unionization

With workers’ rights well established in today’s modern age, unions are not generally at the forefront of job seekers’ minds — but they should be. Employment positions that offer membership in a particular union provide workers an additional layer of job security as well as support and encouragement. Few workers today are backed by a strong and powerful union — but teachers number among those few.

Teachers’ unions are devoted to advocating for teachers’ rights and improving the health of the education system overall. Teachers who become members are given access to crucial services, like legal aid, monetary grants, and even classroom supplies like lesson plans and books. Further, unions are the reason teachers maintain the ability to earn tenure, which is guaranteed job security at their chosen education institution. Earning a degree in an industry that offers and supports a trade union is unbelievably valuable.

5. Fulfilling Employment

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, teaching is a rewarding profession. Teachers have the power to influence generations upon generations, who will grow up to influence the world around all of us. Being a part of a meaningful industry is certain to supply unending happiness, no matter the seemingly low salary or decreased free time. A degree in education is a smart choice for any graduate because of its lifelong benefits on overall state of mind.

Frugal Find: Money by Jumsoft is 50% Off

For those of you that have made a New Year’s resolution to get your finances in order, there’s a great money management app on sale in the Mac App Store right now:

Money by Jumsoft

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I’ve been singing the praises of Money 4 for years, and it’s still the app I use for myself. Not only does it offer money tracking and budgeting tools, you can put in the holdings of your stock portfolio and it will update those values in real time. I LOVE seeing my entire financial picture in one place! The downside? Money requires you to enter spending manually. You can set up regular bills and paycheques in the scheduler, but otherwise you’re on the hook for remembering to enter in how much you spent at the grocery store. Nevertheless, Money produces beautiful charts and graphs that make tracking and managing your money simple. Enjoy!