Wednesday, March 26, 2014

5 Pinteresting Budgeting Techniques

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Pinterest is the up-and-coming social media that allows users to share websites, pictures and information through a visual experience.  Food recipes, arts & crafts, exercise routines, and beauty tips are just a few of the categories that have endless possibilities.  So if you’re stumped on how to get your budgeting lifestyle in order, Pinterest has a wide variety of answers to help you get your fiscal life in peak condition.  Below are just a few of my picks that I found very Pinteresting.

  1. Free Printouts – If you’re not quite sure how a budget system works or even what it looks like, Pinterest has a ton of free printables to help you get started.  These fill-in-the-blank forms can assist you with setting up a budgeting structure that works for you.  Here are some easy approaches for beginners: Free Budgeting Worksheets and Free Printable Budget Worksheets.
  2. DIY Budget Organization – Now that you have the sheets, how are you going to keep it all organized?  Bright colors and fun prints, can help you keep your budget visible and on your mind.  Good organization will make it more easily accessible and less of an overwhelming chore.  Here are some Pinterest favorites: Budget Binders and Budget Boxes. 
  3. Niche Budgeting Tips – Do you have a particular area of your life that needs your budgeting attention?  Whether you are budgeting for a wedding, a baby, or grocery shopping, Pinterest points you in the right direction.  The following will help those of you in college: College Budgeting Tips for Incoming Freshmen and 5 Budgeting Tips for College. 
  4. Tricks of the Trade – Pinterest can even help those who already have structured budgets.  For instance, there are tips if you’re struggling to keep to your budget because of inconsistent paychecks or you’re not sure how to make coupons work for you. 
  5. Bloggers – There are so many blogs on the internet these days that it is easy to get overwhelmed.  However, some bloggers have started using Pinterest to help you find them, and pick and choose what articles might be best for you.  Follow boards, scan the pictures, and pin so you can read them now or later or over and over again.  Here is an example pin that lists popular budgeting bloggers.

However, when using Pinterest, like any other website, you must watch for scammers.  Make sure you do not offer any personal or banking information.  If someone says the best thing for your budget is to send your money to a prince in Nigeria, don’t do it; be smart.  Finally, you’ll want to make sure you budget your time on Pinterest.  Go onto the website with a specific agenda in mind or set a timer on your phone; otherwise, you could easily spend the day pinning away!
Are you on Pinterest?  Make sure you follow the Barrister on a Budget Board!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Scholarship Opportunities Part II

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A few months ago I wrote about new scholarship opportunities for law students.  Some of these points included tips about scholarships afforded to students during the application to law school or after each year’s rank/GPA are determined.  I also provided new, unique ways to find scholarships such as declaring to practice in an unpopular field of the law, living in different locations where lawyers are in demand, and searching thoroughly in federal and state bar associations/law firms who may offer scholarships.  With more chances to earn educational funding, reliance on financial aid should be at a minimum…if at all.  Here are few additional opportunities you shouldn’t miss.
1.     Discover recently announced that the company would be offering $40,000 in scholarships for those going to college and graduate school.  No obligations or purchases are necessary to win.  Enter HERE before April 15, 2014.  Hunt for other major companies who do national scholarship giveaways.  Sometimes these contests have simple applications or just require contact information and a click of the button.
2.     According to the National Association of Counties, roughly 20% of U.S. citizens live in rural areas and only 2% of law practices operate from these locations.  Rural areas are getting desperate for legal representation and are now offering convenient ways to earn a law degree and receive funding for it.  William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota is offering $10,000 per year to students who enroll in a new part-time hybrid legal education program where students attend occasional on-campus workshops and online courses.
3.   Some schools, such as Northeastern University School of Law, offer special scholarships to those who show a commitment to practice in public interest law.  If a career in public service is your goal, be sure to inquire about these scholarships (sometimes they may not be advertised), the deadlines, and the requirements.

The time it takes to apply for scholarships is far less than the years it will take to pay back student loan debt.

Follow @JLMaxey on Twitter for frequent Scholarship Alerts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

8 Life Hacks for College Students

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As defined by Google, Life Hack is a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.  These following life hacks will help you to do all that plus potentially improve your grades and even help your budget! 

  1. Student Discounts – make sure you flash your student identification card every chance you can to get discounts on things such as computers, transportation, food, retail, movies, and Amazon purchases.
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   2. Get the Most from Google – Many people do not use Google to its full power.  Learn how to make your searches more accurately to get information.  Also, you can use to find relevant information more quickly.

   3. Save Money on Textbooks – Go to where they say you can save up to 90% on textbooks! Here are some other tips on saving money on your textbooks

4. Get More from Your Study Hours – Stimulate your visual memory by using colored markers/highlighters/pens when you create your notes to help your recall.  Record lectures and increase the speed by two on programs like Audacity to review them more quickly.  Plus, if you take better lecture notes, you’ll spend less time rereading your textbook.  Learn your learning style to see which methods will best help you achieve efficient studying.
   5. Repurpose Your Coffee Maker – instead of spending a ton of money and using up space you don’t have, learn the different uses that a coffee maker offers to make food.  Oatmeal, noodles, hotdogs, steamed vegetables – the world is your coffee maker!

6. Tune In – Listen to the Hans Zimmer channel on Pandora.  This music doesn’t have lyrics to distract you, and the music is written to inspire.

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    7. Improve Your Shared Wi-Fi Signal – Use an aluminum can to strengthen your signal by safely cutting it into a band that surrounds your router.
    8. Protect Yourself From Thieves – Purchase red pens and replace the red ink with blue or black ink refill cartridges – who wants to steal a red pen?  Keep your laptop safe with a laptop lock, and easily back up your work with Carbonite (just in case). 

      Got other great life hacks?  I’d love to hear them – tweet @JLMaxey with your #lifehack!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Improve Your Odds of Entry-Level Attorney Employment

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The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) recently released its study on the hiring percentages for entry-level attorneys.  The study concluded that offers for entry-level positions, while still very limited, rose 2% in 2014, for those who were summer associates in 2013.  This 92% offer rate is hopeful compared to the 69% rate calculated in 2009.  Although the amount of offers increased, the median size of the summer associate class stayed at a flat 5 for the third year in a row.  With fewer people to make offers to, an even smaller group received most of the offers, causing the acceptance rates of those offers to drop 2% from 86% to 84%.  Though it is improving, the percentages haven’t reached steady pre-recession levels.  How can you improve your odds of entry-level employment?
1.      Get Into the Small Group of Candidates.  This is obvious, but it’s harder than you might imagine.  A top rank within your class, a high GPA, and extracurricular programs such as law review and moot court are imperative. But being the best at your school isn’t enough.  You’re competing with the nation, especially for those BigLaw jobs.  Recruiters stated to NALP that the competition was fierce for the same small group of candidates.  Choosing a school by rank may be crucial to this process, as top schools like Harvard carry a reputation and some of the burden for you as a candidate. 
2.      Get the Highly Coveted Summer Associate Position.  The NALP reported that only 16% of law offices would return to the applicant pool made up of 3Ls who had not worked for them as a summer associate.  This is down 3% from 2012, and drastically lower than the 53% in 2006.  With this limited amount of opportunity, it is vital to not only acquire a summer associate position, but acquire one with a firm you want to start your career with (remember, this is a two-way street).  Regardless of the impressive résumé you’ve established in section one, if you do not perform well during the interview, you may blow your opportunity.  Brush up your interview skills and be prepared so you nail it!
3.      Be the Best Associate in Your Program.  You look good on paper.  You can talk the talk.  Now walk the walk.  Your summer will be a perpetual interview for that permanent entry-level position.  Take every professional and appropriate measure to stand out among your class.  Make sure you are prepared for your midsummer associate review.