My husband and I are frugal, but we’ll pay for long-lasting high quality items. Here are some of the items that saved us time and money in the long run. It’s also better for the environment since I’m not constantly replacing broken things. We bought most of these items on sale by looking out for deals and coupons. We also used camelcamelcamel.com to track prices on Amazon. And I found some of these items used on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Kitchen items We eat rice almost every single day for lunch and dinner. And I’m not the type to cook rice in a pot on the stove. When our cheap Aroma rice cooker died after just 5 years, I decided to buy a Zojirushi neuro fuzzy rice cooker. While it wasn’t cheap, it had really good reviews. 7 years later, it still makes great rice every time we use it.

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I have two brokerage accounts with Fidelity. One is for a future car purchase, and the other is for house down payment. I don’t plan on drawing from these investments for a few years. But, I still want to be able to access them before the traditional retirement age. Plus, I didn’t want to use a high yield savings account, which currently pays out 0.5% at Ally. That money needs to work harder than that. Brokerage accounts make sense … … if you want to invest your extra cash and you don’t need them for a couple of years. If you sell the investment within a year, you will be subject to short term capital gains tax. This is equal to your ordinary income tax. If you hold your investments for longer than a year, they will be subject to long term capital gains tax. Long term capital gains tax

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Today I want to reflect a bit on my gradschool budget. I got a stipend of about $2350 each month. We split our bills 50/50 in gradschool, and we each had our own spending categories. Below was my average monthly budget, including my half of the bills. Monthly bills Rent – $567 (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment) Water, sewage, trash – $30 Electricity, gas – $45.50 (on a budget billing plan) Cellphones – $15 (Mint Mobile was really cheap!) Internet – $46 Netflix -$5 Groceries – $225 Food – $60 (we cooked a lot at home) Fuel – $40 (this includes a few pandemic months with less driving) Household stuff – $37.50 (too much TJ Maxx) Oskar – $140 (includes vet bills, pet insurance, food from Chewy, sweaters for Michigan weather) Amazon prime – $2.60 (we were on the Student Prime plan) Costco membership – $2.50 My own expenses This

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My husband and I lived on a monthly stipend of about $2400 and his savings during gradschool. So, we tried our best to stay frugal in order to save money. These habits allowed me to put $5000 towards my car downpayment, invest $6000 in my ROTH IRA almost each year, and travel to Paris and New York City on a limited budget. Housing On-campus housing: The first year of gradschool, we stayed at graduate student housing. This was a really great deal, because all the furniture was provided, and all utilities were covered. Off-campus housing: After the first year, we decided to move to off-campus housing nearby, because we wanted to get a puppy. The rent was comparable for a 1 bedroom apartment, but we did have to pay for utilities ourselves. We split the rent 50/50, so my share of the rent was about $500. And we didn’t live

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You recently graduated and got a job, congrats! You start to go through your benefits package and you stumble upon the 401(k) account. You read things like matching, vesting period, and contribution limits, and you’re getting more and more confused. Should you even bother contributing? Here’s some information on the 401(k) basics and some advice. 401(k) basic terms Let’s clear up some terminology. contribution: the percentage of your salary you put into the 401(k), usually pre-tax. contribution limit: limit set by the IRS how much you could contribute per year. match: the percentage your employer will contribute to your 401(k), usually based on how much you contribute to it. For example, the employer will match 100% up to 5% of your salary, which means they will match you dollar for dollar if you contribute 5% to the 401(k). This is free money! vesting period: the amount of time it takes for

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So you’ve decided to apply to a PhD program, and are now trying to figure out a best path forward. It can be an extremely stressful time as you balance finishing classes, finding and applying to programs, and work. I was finishing up my master’s thesis during the application period, while also working part-time to save up for the eventual move. I’ll give you some of my strategies on how I applied to PhD programs as a first-generation international student. Decide on a research area A PhD program will train you to do original research in your area of interest. Your first year will usually consist of taking graduate courses related to your area of research. You will learn to conduct literature review, find the gap in your area of interest, develop research questions you want to answer, conduct experiments to answer those questions, and write and defend a dissertation

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You may or may not have heard of a Roth IRA before. So I wanted to walk you through what it is, how to open an account, and why everyone should invest in one.  What is an IRA? OK, first let’s talk about what an IRA is. IRA stands for individual retirement account. The first IRA in the US was created in 1974 as part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and is known as the traditional IRA. The second type of IRA is known as the Roth IRA, and was introduced in 1997 as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act. You can contribute to either or both, but it cannot exceed the IRS limit when combined, which is $6000 for 2021. Also, you cannot contribute more than you’ve earned that year. If you are 50 or older, you can contribute $7000 total. The deadline to contribute to any

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So you’ve decided to get a graduate degree, and now you’re worried about how to finance it. Can you get a graduate degree without going into (additional) student debt? I think you can, with some careful planning, being frugal, and having a budget. Here are things that I did to make sure I could get my graduate degrees for free. Combined Bachelors-Masters programs My university offered a bachelors-masters program in mechanical engineering, which allowed me to use some of my senior-level classes towards the masters degree. Lots of universities now offer combined bachelors and masters programs. See if your school offers something similar if you’re thinking of going to graduate school to get a masters, because it could save you a few classes worth of tuition and fees. Company-paid Masters programs I’ve worked at companies that provided this as a benefit to employees. Personally, I didn’t get my masters this

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Why should students care about budgets and savings? Don’t we have enough things to worry about? Classes, exams, research… Now you want me to add budgeting into that? Forget it. The problem is, the average American carries a total debt of $152,612 [1]. About $6,900 of the total average debt accounts for credit card balances. 54% of college attendees took on student loans to fund their own education [2], with an average balance of $58,000 [1]. If we break down the student loans by demographics, we find that Black college graduates have about $25,000 more in debt than White college graduates, women owe 58% of all student loan debt, and the average student loan debt is the highest amongst adults in their 30s and 40s [3]. And the more education you want to pursue, the more debt you accrue: PhD holders have an average debt of $159,625 [3]. That’s insane. Not

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