Argosy University Blog

Budgeting for Your Busy Life: don't Overlook the Small Purchases!

We live in a society where it’s easier than ever to spend money. We can order movies, music, and more with just a few clicks. The smaller purchases, in particular, can add up. An iPhone app for $0.99 here, $9.00 for an eBook there. We can even use a credit card to get that Snickers bar from the vending machine in the break room at work. With our busy schedules, it can be easy to dismiss these purchases as minimal, even to the point of ignoring them completely.

While many of us many fall into this trap, it may be more important than ever for online students to get a handle on money that’s coming in versus going out. It can be daunting to think about budgeting for every penny we spend, but there are less painful ways of easing into it.

Track Everything You Spend for a Month
In order to get a baseline for your spending, you should first keep a record of everything you spend for a one-month time period. In doing this, you’ll quickly get a sense of a few areas where you can easily cut costs, saving you money in the long run.

Factor in the Essentials
There are some areas where you may not be able to cut costs, including transportation, childcare, groceries, and monthly bills. Once you have those nailed down, you’ll be able to figure out how much you have leftover for non-essentials.

Think Twice About Instant Gratification Purchases
Do you really need the latest single from your favorite artist right now, or can you listen to it for free on your favorite radio station? Is it necessary to download the latest bestseller when you can check out the book at your local library for free? Mulling over non-essential purchases before diving in can make you a more conscientious shopper.

After you’ve analyzed your spending habits, you may find that you have extra money you didn’t realize. Whether you put it toward school needs or store it away in savings, you can feel less stressed about your money in general with a little forethought.

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One-Size-Fits-All Airport Security Procedures Under Review

Anyone who has traveled by air in our post 9/11 world knows the drill by now. From fees for checked baggage to increased security measures, one could argue that airline travel is more of a hassle now than ever. While many of these measures—such as random passenger screenings—have been put in place to protect those who choose to fly, according to this article on CNN.com, a group called the U.S. Travel Association recommends we find ways to make the system more efficient—while keeping security as an important consideration.

The article argues that baggage fees have caused passengers to carry on more luggage than ever, causing congestion through security checkpoints. The U.S. Travel Association recommends requiring all airline carriers to allow the first bag a passenger checks to go free of charge.

Another argument the group makes is that we shouldn’t treat each passenger as if they could be potential terrorist threats. Instead, they propose a “trusted traveler” program where passengers would sign up to volunteer information such as employment history and background check. Once approved for the list, they would be able to enjoy less stringent security procedures.

While the conversation is still its early stages, it brings up an issue that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. How can we make sure Homeland Security is as robust as it needs to be without inconveniencing the traveling public to the point where they no longer wish to fly?

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You Heard it Here First: Daydreaming is Good for You!

When you’re in the midst of working on an important paper or assignment, its deadline looming over your head like a giant anvil in one of those old Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons, it seems like it would be detrimental to your success to shift your focus to anything else. Your bracket in the March Madness office pool. The great weekend trip you have planned with your family. The latest celebrity news on your favorite gossip website. But a recent article from The Wall Street Journal entitled "Bother Me, I’m Thinking" suggests that distractions are actually an essential part of the creative process.

The article notes that “…the inability to focus helps ensure a richer mixture of thoughts in consciousness. Because these people struggled to filter the world, they ended up letting everything in. They couldn't help but be open-minded.”

With this information in mind, it might actually be helpful to start on a major project sooner than you had otherwise planned. This will not only ease the stress from the impending deadline, but it will also allow you more time to daydream and gain new insight.

Who would’ve thought that daydreaming could actually be good for you? When you think about it, it makes sense. When we daydream, our minds usually wander to the most pleasant of thoughts, and, back in reality, the paper we’re writing may or may not provide us with the same level of pleasure. Juxtaposing our “happy place,” so to speak, with the task at hand can make the task seem more possible, more exciting, and less like a chore.

Of course, that’s not to say that we should spend endless hours on Facebook or parked in front of the television, but, when hitting your nose to the grindstone, don’t try to focus too hard. That little distraction you find a nuisance now may actually inspire you in the long run.

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