Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tips on Making Some Extra Cash When Facing A Laundry List of Bills

You are now on your own, without mom or dad to cook you dinner or do your laundry. While you may have gotten a taste of independence as a college student, chances are that you didn't face the long list of expenses now plaguing your wallet. Let's figure out the worst case scenario:
- Rent (if you're lucky, you have a roommate or roommates to share the bill)
- Utilities (if you're lucky, it's included in your rent)
- Cable
- Groceries
- Cell Phone
- Car Expenses or Transportation Costs
- Credit Card Bills
- Student Loans

Hyperventilating yet? Well, take a second to breathe (and I'll do the same). It is very possible to live a full adult life with a RESPONSIBLE budget. If you recently graduated from college, you might be in between jobs or working for one that doesn't exactly break the bank. Never fear - I have come up with a few tips on some honest ways to make some extra cash.

1. Sell your old textbooks. You know all of those college textbooks that cost an arm and a leg while you were a student? You probably have little use for them now other than using it to make up for a wobbly coffee table leg. Do yourself a favor and sell them back. There are a number of websites like abebooks.com that will give you cash for your old books. I have done this almost every semester and it has always been worth it.

2. Sell your artistic skills. Now, this could mean a number of things. Maybe you are an exceptional guitar player or pianist. Post that you are offering lessons in a community newsletter or on a website like craigslist. Parents are often looking to introduce their child to a productive hobby like music.

3. Tutor the neighborhood kids. Maybe you are fluent in French and Portuguese. Perhaps you are a math whiz and are blessed with the ability to explain your skills to others. Just like with #2, spread the word and maybe your neighbors will spread the wealth.

4. Good old fashioned babysitting. This can be for a family member or a friend because you are likely to know those children well and more importantly, the kids will know you. But if you are comfortable with children and they seem to like you, open up the option to your community.

5. Aside from peoplesitting, you can petsit. Personally, I never had pets growing up so I don't think I would be any good watching over animals. But some people are naturally animal lovers and are drawn to them. Your neighbors might be going on vacation and need someone to watch their beloved pet. It's worth a shot to make it known that you are available. Maybe you can plant a seed in the back of their minds...

Remember that these are not meant to replace working. These tips are simply meant to help a struggling recent grad trying to make ends meat.

The Changing Media Landscape: What it Means for College Grads with Communications Degrees

So you're all moved out of your dorm room, finished up all of your last finals, and maybe even have a diploma in your hand. You've gotten yourself a college education. It's quite an accomplishment - no one can dispute that. But now what? You need a job and would like to have one in the field that you studied and dedicated your life to for the past four years, maybe even longer if you're lucky. But you didn't study primary education, or accounting, or nursing... you chose a major in a more abstract field. Perhaps your passion was creative writing, or film, or in my case, broadcast journalism. Anyone serious in this industry is well aware of the cut-throat competition. I for one had no delusions about how difficult it would be to pursue a career in journalism. But in a time of such economic uncertainty as the world is now facing, the job hunt is even tougher. Entry-level applicants now have to compete with working professionals going down a notch or two in order to pay the bills. There are much more qualified individuals going for the jobs that used to go to eager idealists known as recent college grads. Perhaps the only advantage that entry-level workers have is that we are cheaper to pay than experienced professionals. Compared to seasoned professionals, we will work for pennies.

The reality of the industry that we are entering is that it is not what it was during our grandparent's time, or our parent's time, and probably not even during our own childhoods. The media landscape is rapidly changing. The world of 24 hour cable news and online news sources have made the likelihood of achieving Edward R. Murrow status more of a far fetched dream than a realistic goal. It seems that the internet has become the preferred source for the day's news. Competition is also on the rise. There are more and more people with communications degrees than ever before.

But the changing media landscape also offers more opportunities that our predecessors did not necessarily have at their disposal. We can be bloggers, multi-media reporters using video, sound, text, and the web. Those hours spent surfing the web and mastering our technical abilities will actually serve a purpose. So it's important to remain optimistic and realistic. The competitiveness of the industry can be grueling. But keep in mind that if you maximize your skills, eventually something will stick and someone will take a chance on you. Accept that you are probably not going to land your dream job right out of college. But if you are driven enough, determined enough, and skilled enough, eventually your dreams will become your reality.