Money Tips for Your First Year at College

Your time at college will come with a lot of firsts. It’s your first time living far away from home, your first time living with roommates (who you aren’t related to), and of course, your first time handling your finances all on your own. These are some tips that will help you manage your money:

Make a Monthly Budget

You’ll have to organize your funds for housing, food, school and more all on your own. If you want to have an easier time keeping track of these essential costs, you should put together a monthly budget as soon as possible. With this simple financial tool, you can see exactly where your money needs to go every month so that you don’t spend beyond your means and suffer the consequences. 

How do you start? You can download one of the top budgeting apps on your smartphone and fill out the details. Most budgeting apps can sync with your online bank accounts, which makes it easy to track your expenses down to the penny.  

Consider Emergency Expenses

Sometimes things go wrong. Maybe your laptop gets stolen from your backpack, and you need to get a cheap replacement fast to finish the rest of your term. Maybe your car breaks down in the middle of the road, and you need to pay for a tow truck and repairs. These are emergencies that you can’t afford to ignore, even if you don’t have the savings to pay for them.

So, what can you do? You have a few options at this moment:

  • Use your credit card
  • Use an online loan
  • Ask your parents for help 

If you have a credit card, you could put the expense on there. Before you put the charge on your card, check to see whether your balance is close to the limit. If you’re too close to the limit, you should refrain from using this option. You don’t want to risk maxing it out.

If you don’t want to put the charge on your credit card — or you don’t have one — you can take out cash loans online to help you handle emergency expenses. You can quickly access the funds to fix your problem and then manage your repayments later on. You should only apply for online loans when it’s absolutely necessary. These are best left for emergencies, not for things that you can afford to live without (for example, an upgraded smartphone).

And finally, you could call your parents. Your parents might have the savings or credit available to help you pay for this emergency. Calling might bruise your ego, but it’s better than upending your personal finances just to maintain your pride. 

Your parents might treat their financial help as a personal loan, not a gift. In that case, you should let them know how long it will realistically take you to pay them back. Giving them an estimated deadline will show them that you’re putting in the effort to repay them. This will hopefully save you from any lectures about financial responsibility.  

You can avoid this situation entirely by dedicating a portion of your monthly budget to emergencies. These savings could help you cover the costs without the help of credit tools or your parents. 


Start Your Relationship with Credit 

If you don’t have a credit card yet, you should look into getting one. The earlier that you start building your credit, the better. 

Look for credit cards designed specifically for students. These will have low interest rates and low fees. You can apply for a credit card on your own when you are 21 years old or older and have a steady income. If you’re under 21, the 2009 CARD Act states that you will need an adult co-signer to get approved. A co-signer agrees to repay a creditor when the applicant fails to do so. Your parent or guardian could act as yours.

Start on the right foot with your credit card by setting online reminders for upcoming bills. These reminders should help you remember to pay those bills and avoid racking up late fees. Paying your credit card bills on time will do more than save you money. It will help you raise your credit score.

What’s your credit score? This is the ranking on your credit report that helps lenders determine whether you’re a responsible credit user or not. It will come in handy when you want to apply for a new credit account or loan. A high credit score often leads to lower interest rates and insurance premiums. It could also make it easier for you to buy a car, rent an apartment and even get a good cellphone plan.

Managing your money properly isn’t something that you can really learn through a class. It’s something that you learn in practice. So, follow these tips and take control of your finances this year. 

How Blockchain is Driving Safer Roads

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have no doubt heard about Bitcoin and how it revolutionized the financial sector. The database technology behind the Bitcoin network is called blockchain. Despite its rather dull name, believe me when I say that blockchain technology is going to shape far more than the cryptocurrency world.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain might seem complicated but its core concept is very straightforward. Think of it as an alternative type of database.

Picture the traditional database as a warehouse. As packages of information arrive, they are sorted and stored on various shelves throughout the facility. If there is a new version of the same item, the older item is replaced and archived. A central supervisor keeps a record of when each package arrives and where it is stored.

In the blockchain warehouse, packages are stacked into containers based on arrival time. When a container—or block—is full, it is connected to the previous one, forming a data chain called a blockchain. Once added to the blockchain, all existing items will never be moved again, forming a permanent sequence of data.

What this means is that blockchain is incredibly transparent and secure. As new data blocks are stored chronologically, there is a linear history of events that cannot be altered. The security is increased exponentially if decentralized networks comprising thousands of supervisors are used to store the blockchains. In such a network, any incorrect information will immediately be rectified based on the collective record.

Making Vehicles Smarter

With its robust ability for providing oversight and accountability, blockchain could be the technological push required to solve lingering problems in the automotive industry. Here are some possible applications of blockchain technology that might be coming to a highway near us.
Gone are the dusty old days when a car was just steel and rubber wrapped around a combustion engine. These days, we would be hard-pressed to find a car without a computer onboard. Cars are veritable mobile supercomputers, collecting multiple points of data, and communicating with external sources over the broadband cellular network.

From the very first stages of manufacturing, blockchain ledgers can record every movement in the automotive supply chain. This allows for better control and collaboration between each link, increasing manufacturing efficiency and transparency. One such use has been to ensure that electric vehicles only use child-labor-free cobalt in their batteries.

With sensors in cars measuring just about everything, data on fuel efficiency and emissions can also help manufacturers create cleaner car components. This is necessary as countries enact stricter limits on carbon emissions and pollutants. Blockchain technology acts as an interoperable ledger of statistics to facilitate the use of this data.

Blockchain platforms can also store and verify critical information about vehicle ownership, such as titles, proof of sale, history of transfers, and insurance. Blockchain-based electronic vehicle sale or lease contracts can be automated, cutting out the need for intermediaries and thus providing clearer information and simpler processes.

But perhaps the most attractive application of blockchain technology in terms of the transport sector would be in traffic management. By combining blockchain with ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles, innovators are hoping to alleviate traffic congestion. Continuous developments in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications can help to create traffic flow that avoids congested locations in our future traffic system.

Enhancing Driver Experience

On the user front, blockchain ledgers can prove handy by improving convenience within the automotive industry. From updating me about component upgrades to sending my vehicle performance data to a remote mechanic for a scheduled service, multiple practical applications can utilize blockchain technology.

In-car wallets are one of the key emerging concepts in the integration of blockchain with the transportation sector. No matter where we live in the United States, tolls are an unavoidable part of life. The idea of an in-car blockchain wallet expands on the existing E-ZPass concept to enable quick and secure transactions for everything from state park entry fees to feeding parking meters.

Aside from paying for stuff, blockchain technology can also help car owners save money. Automotive insurers are considering usage-based auto insurance models as part of the new mobility ecosystem. In addition, auto insurance information can be stored on the interoperable blockchain ledger for easy access by all parties.

For example, in case of an accident, GPS technology would locate a car accident lawyer near me and provide the driving records stored on the blockchain as irrefutable proof of the sequence of events. Blockchain technology also enables the automation of claims handling and provides a convenient pay-out mechanism.

As further support for safe drivers, data about a user’s driving habits can be recorded, stored on the blockchain, and analyzed. Those with safe driving records can be rewarded in the form of fiat currency, cryptocurrency, or vouchers. It has even been suggested that safer drivers should have lowered insurance premiums.

With blockchain boasting such strong security, it has been proposed that vehicles employ identity-specific unlocking mechanisms instead of easily stolen keyless entry remotes. Biometric data of vehicle owners can be stored securely within the blockchain, preventing car theft.

Smart vehicles gather and generate an extraordinary amount of data. It is estimated that a self-driving vehicle can create a whopping 1 gigabyte of data per second. In our digital age, user data is worth its metaphorical weight in gold. Blockchain technology can be used to grant us greater privacy control while providing a secure way to store our personal data.

At this point, it may be too early to say how exactly blockchain will be implemented into our automotive and transport systems. However, I can confidently say that we can look forward to a safer and more hassle-free experience on the roads in the near future.