Friday, January 18, 2008


HWFL is moving! I've been exploring other platforms and settled on Squarespace. This Blogger/Blogspot version will no longer be updated.

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Check out the new version at HWFL - Hell With Fluorescent Lights. Read more...

Monday, January 14, 2008

$20 RIGHT NOW or $100 A Year From Now

This question popped up on Steve Pavlina's forum and it really caught me off guard. The original question "$20 Now or $50 a year from now" and for me, $20 right now is better than $50 a year from now. But what if it was $100? $100 is substantially more than $20, and the patience of a year for $100 could be worth it. So readers and visitors, which would YOU rather have: $20 right now or $100 a year from now, and why? Read more...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Do You Have A Rich Uncle?

Paying for college is hard. A weak credit score and no cosigner can make it even harder when you need a private loan. Not all of us have rich relatives to help fork over some hard-earned cash. Don’t you wish you had a rich uncle?

Well now you do! At, students who need additional private loans can now get one without a cosigner, and a weak credit score. So far, they are the only lending company that doesn’t base its decision entirely on your credit report and score. They also look at your grades. So if you’ve got a decent grade point average but lack credit, you still have a good chance of getting a private loan even without a creditworthy cosigner.

That was my situation. I needed about $2500 more for the tuition, plus the cost of books. I applied for private loans (without a cosigner – I don’t have a creditworthy cosigner to let me borrow their credit) at 5 different lending companies. I got denied 4 times because I don’t have enough credit. I’m a student; the only things on my credit report are two credits with low limits (but high balances), a Target charge card (my oldest account at 2 years old), a private non-educational loan (that was taken out in October), and two Stafford loans that were in repayment period. I had never missed a payment, never maxed out a card, and always paid at least the minimum amount. What credit I do have is good; it’s just not old enough and I don’t have a lot of it. helped me out a lot! I got approved for $3000, and I’m even paying the interest on it while I’m in school. My old Stafford loans are deferred again and my new Stafford loan is interest only by choice. I’m a student who took a year off and “forfeited” $11,500 worth of scholarships (still fighting it though!), but my grades are excellent, and I’m slowly building credit. If you’re in a similar situation, or just need a private loan, you have a rich uncle to back you up at

Note: This is NOT a paid review. I have NOT received any compensation for this highly positive review of this lending company. This is 100% editorial; I actually just got approved for my loan today from and I nearly cried because I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay for college or my books on $8/hr and work study.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Go To College For FREE!

Yes, it is possible, and you don’t have to be the smartest or the best student in the world to qualify. Tuition-free, or full-scholarship, colleges are one of the nation’s biggest hidden treasures. Business Week did a full article on the topic back in November 2007. According to Business Week, the way these tuition-free colleges work is through endowments from the community and a mandatory work-study for all students. You work for the college, you get a free education.

Too bad other colleges don’t take advantage of this opportunity, but it is becoming increasingly popular.

Business Week also lists colleges across the country where students can attend for free, paying only room and board and cost of textbooks (click on the pictures provided on the link to see the schools). It is the first step in providing free education in America.

I have noticed a trend in these types of schools, mostly from the ones provided on the list. A majority of them are rurally located, meaning the work study opportunities are typically farm-based. Others are based on aptitude tests for engineering and auditions for music related majors. And then there’s the mother of all free college – the military academies with the agreement that students service in the Armed Forces for at least 5 years upon graduation.

More colleges definitely to look into this. Sure, there is already a work-study program, but it doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of tuition most of the time, not to mention the competition between students to secure a work-study job. If all colleges in the United States offered a work-study program where if you have an out-of-pocket balance by the time all financial aid clears, working for the college or participating businesses in the area will cover the complete difference. And instead of paying the student, why don’t they send it right to the college? Colleges and universities also need to be able to provide a job for every work-study student. The competition is ridiculous.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Free Stuff!

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Between job stuff and registering for classes and fighting with the financial aid at my college, I had been too wiped to pen out a decent article.

Recently in the mail, I received an offer from my bank (Bank of America) for a free 1 GB Video MP3 player. Reading the fine print very clearly and thoroughly, it says that I’ll be subscribed to CompleteHome for free for the first 30 days, and then after the first 30 days, my Bank of America credit card will be charged $139.99 for the yearly subscription. If I don’t want to be charged after my 30 days, just cancel the free trial before the 30 days is up (30 days starting from when you receive your membership kit), and the MP3 player is still mine to keep.

Free Mp3 player, guys! Woo hoo! That has sparked this post on other cool free stuff that YOU can get too!

Start Sampling

Start Sampling is a website with plenty of free samples and offers. It is completely free to sign up, and you’ll take a moment to do this little profile quiz thingy to see which samples you can take advantage of. I haven’t gotten around to doing any offers yet, but have already requested my free samples.

Just Free Stuff

Oh, how I love Just Free Stuff. I check back at the website regularly to see what’s been added, and I also signed up for the newsletter to get their dailies. Most of the free stuff they offer on the site doesn’t require you to participate in completing offers. Its just a simple easy form on the company’s website, wait about 4-8 weeks for delivery, and voila – free stuff in your mailbox! If you sign up for stuff almost every day like I do, in about two months time, expect to be getting free samples and goodies in your mailbox every day!

Fab Free

Fab Free is a website like Just Free Stuff. It’s a directory of free offers and samples, and they tend to link to the same offers and samples, but there’s also offers that only JFS has and offers that only Fab Free has (or so I have seen). You can also sign up for their newsletter as well to get a daily newsletter of new free stuff that you can request.

Free Stuff Times

I found this one over at Frugal For Life under the Free Stuff section. It has links to free stuff that these other sites don't have and they even post pictures of the stuff they have received. Plenty of t-shirts and stickers and samples. This is quickly becoming one of my free stuff favorites.

If I come across any other free offers or websites, I’ll post about them too. If you can any recommendations, please feel free to share them.
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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ten Money-Saving New Year Resolutions

  1. Switch all my light bulbs to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights).

I just recently had one of my incandescent lights blow in my living room, and if I didn’t have just one more light bulb to replace it, I would have bought CFLs that night. But now that I don’t have ANY replacement bulbs in my house, I’m going to buy CFLs when I do my January shopping.

Compact fluorescent lights are considered “green” lights as they produce less greenhouse gases than regular incandescent lights, they use about 75% less energy, they produce the same amount of lumens (the amount of light they produce) as incandescent lights, they produce about 75% less heat, and you can look to save about $30 in your energy bills over the course of the bulb’s life. Not to mention that the bulbs last nearly 10 times longer than incandescent lights.

The only negatives to CFLs are that they do contain small amounts of mercury, so it is important to recycle them properly. There are also disposal guidelines provided at EPA's site. The other negative is that they tend to cost slightly more than incandescent bulbs, which is why people opt for incandescents in the first place. But with the money that is saved from the energy bills outweigh the initial costs of installments.

  1. Use my dishwashing wand instead of running a sink full of water.

I just bought a Scotch-Brite dishwashing wand the other day simply because I hate using wash rags and sponges. My other ‘wands’ couldn’t hold up either. A close friend of mine used the cheap version on the wand (about 50 cents cheaper than the Scotch-Brite), but said it broke too easily. So I decided to splurge and purchase the slightly more expensive one. While using it to do dishes (I do have a dishwasher, but it doesn’t work too well, and wastes water and electricity), I noticed I didn’t have to run a whole sink of water. Just wet the sponge wand, push the button to let some detergent into the sponge, and wash away! No water needed, except to rinse later. I paid about $2 for the Scotch-Brite wand at Wal-Mart.

  1. Invest in water-saving appliances.

The toilet in my apartment already has a water-blocker in the tank which results in less water being flushed away and less water to refill. My shower, on the other hand, is a water-hog. I admit I do enjoy long, hot showers, so I bet I waste a lot of clean water in the process. And considering that I live close to an area that has been in draught conditions for the better part 2007, water conservation is bigger on my list of change. Low-flow showerheads generally cost less than $10 and can save between $50 and $75 a year on water bills.

  1. Get my apartment reviewed for energy efficiency.

I’m going to call my utilities company and see if they provide free home energy audits. A professional goes through your house and evaluates your home for energy efficiency, such as checking windows for drafts, insulations, vents, water usage, etc. This allows you to make any necessary changes to keep your heating and cooling bills down as well conserving water and energy.

  1. Use the gym on campus instead of buying a YMCA membership.

This is a great tip for college students who want to get in shape, or stay in shape. I love to exercise. Nothing makes me feel better than working up a sweat. Why spend $25 or more a month at the YMCA or another gym when I have a gym on campus that I can use for free?

For those people who are not in college and do not have access to free equipment, look to free video sites such as YouTube for exercise videos without equipment. If you absolutely need equipment, compare prices at gyms and see if you qualify for any discounts. I used the YMCA resources a lot because as a student, my monthly payment was only $25, which is cheap compared to other gyms.

  1. Use coupons for items I buy on a regular basis.

I get coupons in the mail all the time. And since I participate in “freebie” sites, I get a lot more coupons than the average person. I shop frugally as it is, but I never used coupons, which meant I was spending a lot more on groceries than I should have.

A great way to use coupons is to make your grocery list and then match coupons to what you have on the list, and only buy what you have on your list. A great source for coupons is your local Sunday paper, “junk” mail, and

  1. Pay off my loan before December 31.

I took out a loan in October 2007, and had it set up to make monthly payments on it over a course of 60 months for the smallest monthly payments. If I pay off my loan sooner, I avoid the excess interest payments, will help me out on my debt situation, and take out a monthly bill in the future.

  1. Save spare change in a larger jar.

Bigger jar = bigger saving. If I only take the jar to a CoinStar when it is full, I can get more out of my savings, in my opinion. CoinStars do cost a minimal amount for use (8.9 cents for every dollar), or you can buy coin wrappers and roll them and take them to the bank for free when it is full. I personally like CoinStar and the fee for convenience is very minimal.

  1. Invest in good quality food-saving/storage containers.

I live by myself, and my perishables tend to spoil before I can use them. Or I cook it all up before it goes bad, and don’t have any way to save the leftovers properly. Saving leftovers in good quality containers saves money on the grocery bill and also allows you to bring your lunch to work or other places instead of buying fast food. It is a double saver!

  1. Eat less fast food.

Fast food consumption is a growing problem in the United States, and I often find that it takes a toll on my wallet. I found myself resorting to fast food instead of making my own lunch simply because I didn’t have any way to pack a lunch (see #9). Also, I plan to pull a ringer and eat for free in the campus cafeteria during lunch hours when I’m working on campus or in class, and then eat dinner at home or take dinner to my night job with me instead of hitting McDonald’s.