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Saving on gas may be as simple as changing your driving style

Whether you’re driving to class every morning, or driving to an internship (like I am–40 minutes away from my apartment!)–you’re going to have to shell out money each week to feed your car so it can get from place to place. Of course there are the obvious solutions to limiting the amount that comes out of your wallet–like carpooling with a friend or a roommate, or creating your class schedule so you only have class a few days per week–but beyond that, you might be feeling stuck.

Is the price of gasoline really dragging you down? Follow these helpful tips to make your driving more efficient.

But what if it was the way that you drove that could make all the difference?

Opentravelinfo.com offers some helpful tips to make the gas in your tank go further.

1. Your car uses the most gas when you accelerate, which can be a problem if you’re driving all herky-jerky in traffic, or racing between speed bumps. Instead, make sure you keep your driving smooth try not to break when traffic slows down a little. Instead, make sure you keep enough distance between you and the car in front of you and only slow down if you have to. If you aren’t braking hard and slowing down your car too much, you won’t have to accelerate as much once traffic picks up again, saving you more money than you would think over time. This idea is even more important if you are driving a hybrid car.

2. The hot weather isn’t really necessarily relevant right now depending on where you live in the country, but it will be soon. Rolling down the windows does make your car slightly less–aerodynamic–and makes your car slightly-less gas friendly, but what really takes a toll on the tank is the air conditioner. Turn it on low when you have to use it and try to park in the shade if you can so when you get back in the car, your car doesn’t need to work as hard to cool it down.

3. Use cruise control if there is little traffic–it will keep you at a steady speed so you won’t be accelerating too much, helping you to save on gas.

4. Drive slower. It is proven that driving faster will increase the drag on your car and use up more fuel. So while you may not like this tip all that much, if you really want to save gas, this may be one of the best things you can do.

5. If you’re driving long distances on the highway, it may be helpful to follow in the slipstream of cars and trucks in front of you. There is a certain amount of pull that vehicles create at high speeds that will help to pull you along a little bit if you are following fairly close behind. But be careful! Following so close might be a safety hazard and the risk might not be worth it.

6. Pick a different travel route that has less traffic so that you will have a smoother ride.

7. Get a more fuel efficient car. Some cars just simply get better gas mileage than others–look into trading in your car if it is becoming a real problem.


Laundry Blues

Laundry is expensive, but if you don’t want to chase away the opposite sex or any friends you might already have, you’ve got to do it. Many college students wait until they go home to wash their clothes, which can save some of their own money, but sometimes you just can’t wait or you live too far. What to do, what to do?

Problem: A load of laundry costs what?! In many dorm rooms and apartment complexes, laundry will cost around $1.25 for both the washer and dryer separately!
Solution: Unless you’re handwashing your clothes (which I am willing to bet you are not, especially with large loads) you can’t avoid using the washing machine, but you can cut out the dryer. Instead of using the drying machine, hang your clothes on a clothes line or shower curtain rod in your room or hang them individually over chairs. If you’re not paying money for your washers and dryers, you can still save on your electric bill by drying loads back to back without giving the dryer time to cool down (if you have to use the dryer, that is.)

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer to save money on each load

Problem: Dryer sheets and detergent are too expensive!
Solution: Cut your dryer sheets in half, it will still do the trick and you’ll be using half as much. Instead of fabric softener, use about 1/3 cup of plain white vinegar in the rinse cycle. It’s cheap and easy. As for detergent, buy it in bulk at Costco or BJ’s or a wholesale store like them. Don’t be afraid to buy the knock-off store brands–they’re usually the same thing with just a different label.

Problem: Stain removers really break the bank!
Solution: Try using Dawn dish detergent on your stains instead of that more expensive stain removers. This way is much cheaper and will last a lot longer—and you need it anyway!

Learn in your pajamas…for free!

You’re taking a full course load and you don’t have the time or money to fit in that class on the history of the compact fluorescent light or magic, witchcraft and the spirit world.


What if you could take classes like these online for free? At www.top-colleges.com you can. They offer 45 “fun and free” courses

You can take a class on bubbles through CalTech

through prestigious universities that you can take at your own pace. All you need is iTunes on your computer and you can listen to lectures whenever you get a spare moment. They may not be the most mainstream of topics, but there is sure to be at least one class on that list you are somewhat interested in and it’s free so why not? There is even a class on how to eat for less money in college through Oregon State University (which I now just decided to take).

These aren’t the only kind of classes available. Courses range from world issues, environment and science, and robots and technology to creativity and health and wellness. You can learn about the technological and ethical aspects of nuclear warfare in an online course offered by Notre Dame, or STI prevention through Johns Hopkins or even learn about chaos and why it exists from MIT.


Can I borrow your notes?

You go to class everyday and you sit in the front row and take diligent notes. Your hard work is bound to pay off when it comes to your g.p.a., but what if it could pay off in a different way?

With GradeGuru.com and other websites like it, this may be possible. By signing up using your Facebook account, you can upload notes that you are already taking anyway and get paid to do it.

Taking good notes in class can pay off.

Each time you upload your notes and other students download them, you earn points which translate into money put directly into your PayPal account. You can upload using almost any standard format and can even scan your actual handwritten notes. While the amount you are paid depends on how many notes you upload and how many other students download your work, the average set of notes can earn you about $50.

There are several other websites with a similar idea. Babson College graduates createdKnetwit.com, which allows you to upload your notes and download them from others for free. Points earned for every download come out to about four cents each and users can transfer the points into cash once they reach $10.

is another option.

A slightly more controversial website is PostYourTest.com , where students can share answers to test questions after they have been handed back. Users can remain anonymous, but the idea raises questions about plagiarism and cheating and pay pose some problems for professors. The difficulties with PostYourTest and other sites are apparent, but is there a way to prevent them with the up-and-coming popularity of this technology? Does the good outweigh the bad? You decide.


It’s Raining Ramen

“Everyone says ramen is rigid; that it has to be one exact thing. It isn’t, and it doesn’t … the most important thing is that you make it delicious.”

Ramen noodles have beenĀ  a staple of college cuisine since the beginning of time. They’re cheap, they’re tasty, they’re easy to find, but the delicious snack has come quite a way over the years. The noodles

courtesy of joelogon.com

A bowl of ramen isn't what it used to be.

originated in China and are known as “Lo-mein” in Chinese, a word meaning “boiled noodle.”Ramen as we know it today in the plastic wrappers on our grocery store shelves were created by Momofuku Ando, who founded a company called Nissin Foods in Japan. The company created “Top Ramen” in 1970 and the popularity spread from there, according to konzak.com. The taste and ingredients varies from brand to brand and country to country, but this food shares one thing in common, no matter where you find it: it’s cheap.

courtesy of momofuku.com

Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC

Chefs are taking advantage of this popularity and accessibility by adding a new twist to the food as we know it. A series of restaurants/milk bars in New York City called Momofuku (meaning “lucky peach”, and also the name of the guy who popularized ramen), where much of the menu consists of revamped ramen dishes.

And now….

There is a Momofuku cookbook. Yes, a cookbook. Written by award winning chef David Chang and Peter Meehan. Slashfood writer, Sara Bonisteel thinks that one of the things that makes Chang’s ramen recipes so popular is that “his creations are filled with unlikely but delicious flavor parings.”

A new, better-tasting twist on an already tasty and inexpensive food? Sounds good to me….But one of the only arguments against ramen (and a fair argument at that) is its nutritional value…or lack there of.

The Korean government announced on Nov. 6 that commercials showing food products that are low in nutrients and high in calories (namely, ramen) will not be allowed to air between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to news source, The Chosun llbo. School cafeterias will not be allowed to serve ramen and other products of this nature. These rules could be put into effect as early as Jan. 2010.

Here are the nutrition facts for a standard package of ramen noodles:

courtesy of photobucket.com

A package has high fat content and a fulfills a large percentage of your daily value of sodium.

(note that there are two servings in a package so if you are eating the whole thing at once (which is not unusual, you are consuming twice this amount.)

With 7g of fat per serving, 3g from saturated fat and 1040mg of sodium (!!), ramen is certainly not the healthiest thing you can put into your body. But consider this….. much of the sodium that is accounted for in that package is from the spice sack. For a more nutritional option, swap the silver pouch with a low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth and add in some frozen or fresh vegetables. The broth will still give your ramen some flavor, but it will be much healthier. Adding the vegetables has its obvious benefits. Maybe even add some tofu for some additional protein. Try purchasing the bags of veggies or any additional ingredients that you think of at a store like Wal-Mart. There are a ton choices for the frozen veggies on the website. One of them is bound to work for you.

There are also healthier brand options than the standard packages that you always find in any store. Koyo ramen, by Koyo Foods Inc. includes more natural ingredients that you can pronounce and is even made with organic noodles. And…there’s no msg and no preservatives. For just $1.09 more, you could be doing a world of difference for your health and your piece of mind.

trick or treat


With Halloween less than a week away, students are scrambling to find last minute costumes. No doubt there will be pimps, beer wenches, Spartans, sailors, cowgirls, and 4,738 referees in scantily clad outfits. Most popular costumes of the year by my predictions? Michael Jackson, Kate Gosselin, Miley Cyrus and Max from “Where the Wild Things Are.”

katewig.0.0.0x0.333x363While some of these costumes may catch your eye, you’re probably not going to be the only pirate at the party and purchasing the outfit from most halloween stores is going to set you back a pretty penny. Even relatively simple costumes that don’t include any accessories can run for about $40 to $50…for something you’re probably only going to wear one, maybe two nights this weekend (and let’s face it, you’re not going to wear it again next year, no matter what you say). Solution to this dilemma? Get creativeeee…

Whether you make your costume from scratch, or just buy a couple of cheap accessories to add to things you already have, you’re probably going to be saving yourself a lot of money and you’re more likely to have a unique costume that’s going to impress and maybe even win you a best costume or two.

One thing you could do is find a Goodwill near you to find inexpensive clothing and accessories. You will need to get a little more creative than just picking up a prepackaged costume from a rack in a halloween store, but it’ll be worth every penny you’re saving. Some stores even have “costume consultants” on hand to help you put your creativity into gear. Since you’re probably only going to be wearing many of the things you buy once anyway, why not pay significantly less for a used item that is probably in just as good condition?

(Does this anchor not look like Paula Abdul?)

There are also a ton of great websites out there offering ideas on how to make your own costume. While this may be a bit more time consuming and you might have to spend a bit on supplies, it will most likely be cheaper than anything you could find in a store and you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re the only one with your get-up.

This site offers a lot of good suggestions. There’s a whole section on ideas for costumes made out of cardboard boxes (and they’re not half bad either).

Looking to make a tutu for that frat party?

…or maybe not…

And what would Halloween be without party decorations? Instead of buying fake cobwebs and bowls of halloween-cover1candy with moving hands in them, check out this website for some ideas on how you can make your own decor. They’re easy and cheap and sure to get your friends talking.

Happy Halloween!

Light’s Out!

One of the last things you want to spend your hard-earned money on is electricity, but still, every month, that bill shows up in your mailbox. The money adds up.

Here’s a few tips to help you cut back on your electricity use:

1. Make sure everything is turned off when you leave!
Before you lock up and leave for class for the day, double check to make sure all the lights are out in your apartment or dorm (closet lights too!) With just a flick of the switch, you can save yourself a whole lot of money. Turn off all television and air conditioners too. Always make sure your stove is shut off immediately after you’re done cooking–this is not only to save electricity, but it’s a safety issue too.

universal-mobile-phone-charger2. Unplug phone chargers and computer chargers from the wall, even if they’re not plugged into the electronics. They still use small amounts of electricity even when they are not in use.


3. Use energy saving lightbulbs. You can find some here. These bulbs use 3/4 the amount of electricity as regular bulbs, last 10 times longer and emit the same amount of light. It’s cheaper; it’s better for the environment–what’s to think about? There has been some speculation that these bulbs can release mercury into a room if they are broken, which may be a reason why some have been hesitant to switch over. A scientific study at the Health Protection Agency shows that the amount of mercury is so small (only enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen) that it is not harmful. So, no excuses now…

springtimer304. Use timers. Whether you’re leaving your lights on to make people think you’re home when you’re not for safety reasons or you’re falling asleep while studying into the late hours of the night, you may want to put your lights on a timer to turn off automatically at the time that you set. If you think you’re technologically impaired… here you go. Instructions. No excuses now either.

And may I take this opportunity to offer some advise…If you are splitting your electric bill with roommates, no matter how close you may be to them, make sure you all agree ahead of time in writing exactly what portion of the bill you will be paying each month, however you want to divide it up. This may seem unnecessary, but it can save you a lot of problems in the future. This way, there is no room to question anything.

So, now that I’ve helped you save a whole bunch on your future electric bills, feel free to send your savings my way. Okay, great, thanks.