7 Tactics to Help Car-Buying Newbies Bargain Like a Boss

When 29-year-old Cecilia Paredes decided to buy a 2018 Mini Cooper with cool black rims, she knew she’d be facing a professional negotiator — the car salesman. So Paredes, who works in the theses and dissertation office at California State University, Long Beach, brought her uncle along as her wingman.

“I’m young, I look young and I’m a girl,” she says. “I was afraid they might try to take advantage of me.”

Paredes isn’t alone. According to a recent survey commissioned by Cars.com, 1 in 4 millennial car buyers (in this case, ages 18-34) don’t feel comfortable negotiating and would prefer to have their parents help make the deal. But millennials have a secret weapon that forms a strong foundation for effective negotiating strategies: a penchant for online research.

Even with the added transparency the internet provides, “negotiating is still very important in car buying,” says Greg Kopf, a brand ambassador for online auto parts retailer CarID. He’s himself a millennial who’s worked as a dealership service advisor.

Here is a roadmap for millennials — or anyone new to car-buying — to connect the cold world of data with the human dance of negotiation, whether or not they bring mom or dad along for the ride.

1. Budget first

Younger car buyers should understand how the monthly payments will fit into their budgets. Before heading to the dealership, Paredes used an online auto loan calculator to estimate monthly payments and printed out the results. She then used her “cheat sheet” to check the numbers given to her at the dealership.

Understand that your total car costs will be more than your monthly car payment. And don’t lose sight of the total car price by focusing only on the monthly payment.

2. Get preapproved

On the lot, a salesperson might not take a millennial car buyer seriously. To show that she meant business, Paredes first applied for a loan through a credit union. This loan offer gave her an interest rate she could use as leverage at the dealership.

With a preapproved auto loan offer, you’ll not only know how much you can afford to spend, but you can negotiate as a cash buyer. And you can probably get the dealer to beat your rate.

3. Be price savvy

Kopf says knowing the current market value of a car is the best starting point for negotiating. He recommends checking online pricing guides to find the average transaction cost for the car you want to buy. This allows a young car buyer, who might lack confidence, to depersonalize the negotiation by pointing to a neutral source.

4. Shop around

“Find the dealership that wants to earn your business — don’t just buy the first car you see,” Kopf says. In Paredes’ case, she found a similar car for sale at a nearby dealership and used its special advertised pricing as leverage in her negotiation. She felt it showed the salesperson she wasn’t going to accept any price he threw out.

5. Know the history

If you’re buying a used car, getting a reliable vehicle history report is well worth the small fee, Kopf says. Any negatives on the report — a minor accident or multiple owners — could be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations. CarFax and AutoCheck both provide individual reports or short-term deals for multiple reports.

6. Stay alert

At the dealership, the sales team uses numerous negotiating strategies to wear down buyers. They may draw out the process, making you wait longer than necessary, or play good cop, bad cop, passing you from the salesperson to a closer and finally the finance manager.

Paredes and her uncle were able to turn the tables, taking turns negotiating. Her uncle called the finance manager on several items he tried to slide past them. And Paredes firmly refused the base models they kept trying to push. Instead she got the exact model she wanted — yes, the one with the black rims.

Even if you go alone, you’ll probably face similar tactics. Pace yourself, don’t drop your guard and be ready to push back.

7. Take your time closing the deal

Inexperienced car buyers might think they’re done negotiating once they’ve settled on a price with the salesperson. Instead, they’re handed off to a more formal finance manager.

“They don’t know it’s coming until they sit in that office and the guy is throwing all different types of warranties and services at you,” Kopf says. “And that’s after you already spent four hours there and you just want to leave.”

His advice: “Take your time.” You don’t have to make a decision about those products right then.

Reflecting on her experience, Paredes says she wishes there was an easier way to buy a car. But she adds: “I look at my car and think what a good decision I made.”

Philip Reed is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: preed@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AutoReed.

The article 7 Tactics to Help Car-Buying Newbies Bargain Like a Boss originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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3 Credit Score Myths You Should Stop Believing

You probably know that your credit score could affect your life in many ways — from the apartment you rent to the interest rate on your car loan.

But there are a few credit score myths that you — or your friends or family — may not know aren’t true. For example, marrying someone with bad credit won’t bring your own score down.

Here are the facts.

1. Myth: Checking your score always makes it go down

Requesting your score — or getting preapproved for a loan, mortgage or credit card — won’t automatically lower it. However, applying for credit, which requires a hard inquiry, could lower it by a few points. Similarly, lenders’ queries about your score can have a temporary negative impact.

You can also be proactive and check your credit score on a regular basis. You should do so at least once a year, especially since you’re entitled by law to request a free annual credit report from the three major credit-reporting bureaus every 12 months. It’s a good habit that could help you identify potential mistakes or identity theft.

2. Myth: Marrying someone with bad credit could hurt your score

Like many people these days, you might have used excellent credit as a factor in deciding whom to date in the past. Now you’re getting hitched to someone with a low credit score — but don’t worry: Your mate’s score won’t take a toll on your own. You’ll each have your own credit histories and scores, and credit lenders won’t deny you a loan because of your spouse’s credit. Of course, his or her credit could affect your finances in other ways; for example, if you’re applying together for a loan or a mortgage under both of your names.

3. Myth: A better-paying job will help your credit score

Landed a job at the company of your dreams? It might be great for your career, but a new title and higher income won’t directly affect your credit score. Losing a job doesn’t have an impact on your score, either. However, lenders may be wary of giving you a loan if you have an employment history that includes quitting jobs after just a few months.

The article 3 Credit Score Myths You Should Stop Believing originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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Don’t Let Your Love of Logos Become a Financial Faux Pas

If you don’t keep up with the Kardashians, here’s what you’re missing lately: Logos are back in fashion.

A few months ago, Kim Kardashian posed in head-to-toe clothing dripping with Fendi’s logo next to Louis Vuitton-emblazoned garbage bins (yes, really). More recently, model Hailey Baldwin was photographed in a denim-on-denim look with Versace written all over it — literally. And in a recent video with wife Beyonce, Jay-Z wore a suit covered in, you guessed it, a repeating Gucci logo.

Despite Us Weekly’s claims, stars aren’t just like us — and most of us can’t afford their style. An ensemble similar to Baldwin’s retails for $2,600, and a suit like the one Jay-Z rocked will set you back nearly $6,500. All of which makes part of Kardashian’s get-up seem comparatively cheap; Fendi sells pantyhose for “just” $220.

Some industry folks refer to the trend as logo mania, or Guccification. Whatever you call it, it’s been making its comeback the past two years or so, says Oliver Chen, a managing director who analyzes retail and luxury goods companies at financial services firm Cowen & Co.

What’s different now compared to other periods when logos dominated fashion — say, the 1980s — is how consumers interpret this trend, he says.

“The logo is worn differently; it’s more irreverent now,” Chen says, adding that there’s a sense of nostalgia and playfulness in today’s logo worship.

If this trend is a fashion do in your book, here are some tips for wearing the hippest apparel without putting your finances in peril.

Today’s fashions versus tomorrow’s passions

Chasing fashion trends can be fun. But before you rush to buy, make sure your love of logos doesn’t result in a financial faux pas. Thanks to the magic of compounding interest, every dollar you spend today is a dollar-plus not saved for the future. Before spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on today’s fashions, can you honestly answer “yes” to the following three questions?

  1. Are you free of high-interest debt obligations, like credit card debt?
  2. Do you have a rainy-day fund established that can cover your monthly expenses for at least three months?
  3. Are you regularly setting aside money for retirement with a 401(k) and/or an individual retirement account?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, resist that impulse purchase for now. Instead, invest some time with a budget calculator to see how much you can afford to spend on things you want. NerdWallet recommends a 50/30/20 budget, in which no more than 30% of your take-home income is allocated to wants.

Fashion wants aren’t necessarily needs

Conspicuous fashion doesn’t offer many ways to fake the look on the cheap — you’re either wearing a brand-name piece or you’re not.

Consumers today are bombarded by marketing campaigns designed to get them to make a purchasing decision quickly, says Kathleen Grace, a certified financial planner and managing director at United Capital Financial Advisers in Boca Raton, Florida. And those “wants” can seem like “needs” in a culture where “it’s become more prevalent to be flashy.”

Even Grace, who wrote the financial planning novel “Prince Not So Charming,” checks in with others to keep herself accountable before making impulse purchases.

“I love Chanel bags and shoes, but I’ve learned that when you put time in between that final purchasing decision, you make better decisions,:” she says.

When you’re deciding whether those “wants” are justified, Grace recommends the following:

  1. Identify how and why you spend money. Using behavioral finance learnings, United Capital offers an interactive tool that can help you make better spending decisions.
  2. Ask yourself why. Contemplating a $700 pair of shoes? Ask why you need those in lieu of a $100 pair, and whether this purchase justifies spending less money on something else — say, a trip.

“Everything in life is a trade-off,” Grace says.

Paying full price is boring

Luxury brands are expensive, but consumers can incorporate these looks into their wardrobes without paying full price.

“There are no rules,” Chen says. “Vintage stuff is cool, too; it’s all about how you make it your own.”

This logomania trend comes at a time when the luxury fashion industry is undergoing a “revolution,” becoming increasingly inclusive and accessible to more consumers, he says.

Don’t feel obliged to rock logos head-to-toe. “I don’t think you have to over-invest. You can pull off a look by mixing and matching,” Chen says. And there are ways to stay on trend for cheap — shopping at vintage stores and consignment websites, participating in the sharing economy or upcycling old items from your (or someone else’s) closet, he suggests.

Grace balances a love of luxury items with a desire to get the best deal. “There are some amazing websites today where you can buy brand-name items much cheaper,” she notes.

Buy pieces with a long shelf life

Investing in the stock market has a proven track record for delivering long-term returns. (Read more about how to start investing.) But luxury pieces can also return more than compliments for some consumers. That is, you may be able to recoup some of the money you initially spent when you resell a look you’re done with.

To do so, prioritize spending on items with a longer shelf life — both fashion-wise and in terms of durability. Consider this: For about the same amount ($950 or so), you can currently buy a leather wallet at Chanel or a cotton T-shirt at Fendi.

In addition, some brands retain their value better than others, Chen says. Time spent researching a big-ticket purchase in advance may reap bigger returns when it comes time to part with an item. And you may be surprised by how much money you’ll get from an item that you’ve derived a lot of pleasure from, he adds. “People’s closets can have a lot of liquidity.”

The article Don’t Let Your Love of Logos Become a Financial Faux Pas originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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Intern With a 401(k)? Here’s How to Make It Pay

Some interns spend their days fetching coffee. Others get their hands on something even hotter: their first 401(k).

Not so long ago, scoring an internship that actually paid might have seemed novel. But recent studies by the National Association of Colleges and Employers have found that among graduating college seniors, paid internships are increasingly the norm, and that at least half of employers report offering 401(k) plans to their interns.

If you scored an internship that comes with a 401(k), here are three things you need to know.

1. It’s not too early to think about retirement

During an internship, planning for retirement probably isn’t one of your top priorities — and understandably so. That said, it’s never too early to begin thinking about your future. A 401(k) is a savings and investing plan offered by companies to their employees. It offers tax breaks that encourage saving, and serves as the primary nest egg for many American retirees. (New to all this? Learn more about the various perks a 401(k) offers.)

When it comes to saving, time is the most valuable asset you’ll ever have. And the earlier you begin saving for retirement, the more you’ll have once that time comes. For example, if you were to set aside just $1,000 at the age of 20 and never touched that money again, it would balloon to more than $16,000 by your mid-60s, assuming an annual average return of about 6%. You can thank compound interest for all that extra money.

Unfortunately, a one-time contribution won’t come even close to cutting it when saving for retirement. That’s why you’ll need to open a 401(k) — yes, even in your 20s — and kick-start a discipline of saving that you’ll maintain and build upon over time.

2. You should contribute — probably

Even if more employers are offering a 401(k) to interns, you still should take a moment to appreciate the value of this perk — especially if the company will match some portion of your contributions. What that means is your employer adds money to your 401(k) along with you, up to a certain limit. Unfortunately, this still isn’t a universal benefit for all American workers.

So you’ve got the internship and you’ve got the 401(k) — time to start contributing, right? The likely answer is yes — so long as you can afford to do so. While everyone’s personal financial situation is unique, here are a couple of things you should consider when deciding whether to fund a 401(k) during an internship:

  • You shouldn’t go into debt to save for retirement. Saving for the future is essential, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your present financial situation. Make sure you have a good understanding of what your monthly expenses will be during your internship (especially if you’ve relocated). Don’t contribute to that 401(k) if it means you’ll amass high-interest credit card debt, for example, or forgo building an emergency fund. If you’re too aggressive saving now for retirement, dipping into your retirement account later often incurs a hefty tax penalty.
  • This internship won’t last forever. An internship is temporary, so you’ll need to consider what’s next on the horizon. If you’re still in school, you’ll need to weigh whether any extra money you have is better put toward retirement or paying for future school-related expenses. And the right answer may be to balance the two goals. Meanwhile, if you’ve finished up school but don’t have a full-time job lined up yet, you may want to be more conservative about saving for retirement in lieu of padding that emergency fund.

Once you’ve sorted through the question of should-I-or-shouldn’t-I contribute, you’ll need to tackle another: What’s the right amount? If your employer matches some portion of your contributions, that is free money, so a goal might be to contribute enough to capture all of that match. But again, don’t be too aggressive with your 401(k) contributions, lest they cause you other financial woes in the short term.

3. You should take your 401(k) with you

On the last day of your internship, you’ll take any belongings when you leave. Plan to do the same with your 401(k). The difference is you’ll want to roll that over into an IRA — and the sooner, the better. No dog tricks here — in the retirement world a “rollover” means moving money from one type of tax-advantaged account to another.

An IRA, or individual retirement account, is similar to a 401(k) in that it offers people tax breaks for saving toward retirement. But IRAs also typically include a broader array of investments to choose from and generally lower fees than employer-sponsored plans. You do have other options, however:

  • You could roll over that internship-era 401(k) into your next employer’s 401(k) plan. But do this only if you find low costs and satisfactory investment choices.
  • You could leave the money in your old 401(k). Downsides here are you won’t be able to contribute to it in the future, and you may no longer have an HR team to assist with questions.
  • You could cash it out. But seriously: Don’t. You’re risking significant tax penalties and costing yourself a valuable head start on saving for the future. This option is virtually never worth it.

Generally speaking, an IRA is the best option because of the perks mentioned above. Review NerdWallet’s picks for the best IRA providers for rollovers.

The article Intern With a 401(k)? Here’s How to Make It Pay originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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College Resources for Students with Disabilities: Best Colleges, Gov’t Programs, Scholarships & Helpful Apps

People with disabilities are a diverse and vibrant community, making up nearly one-fifthof the US population. Yet, they face unique struggles when it comes to accessing postsecondary education.

People with disabilities of all kinds tend to attend and graduate college at far lower rates than people who do not have disabilities. According to a 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 16.4 percent of people with disabilities over the age of 25 had completed a bachelor’s degree compared with 34.6 percent of their non-disabled peers.

And, of those who had completed a bachelor’s degree, only 26.1 percent were employed compared with 75.9 percent of their non-disabled peers. One distressing result of this trend is that 48 percent of people with disabilities are living on an income of $15,000 per year or less.

One of the reasons for this disparity is a lack of affordable, adequate resources that folks with disabilities need to succeed after high school. When you add the hefty price tags of medical care and assistive technologies to the soaring costs of college tuition, the financial burden of attending college as a person with disabilities can seem nearly insurmountable.

In this guide, we’re going to point you towards some useful resources for people with disabilities, including physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities, to help you get access to a great college education and save some money along the way. Here’s what you’ll get in this guide:

  • 5 of our best tips for accessing college education as a person with disabilities.
  • A list of government resources for your education
  • Tips on scholarships, top schools for people with disabilities, discounts on assistive technology, and more!

Tips for folks with disabilities pursuing a college education

Know your rights

The disability rights movement has made tremendous strides over the last several decades to ensure fair and just treatment for folks with disabilities. Check out the Americans with Disabilities Act website so you’re prepared in the event that your rights are being violated.

Use on-campus disability resources

Find the office for students with disabilities on your campus or at schools you’re interested in. Most colleges and universities have an office for students with disabilities that connects folks with the resources that are available on campus. Schedule an appointment with them to review your options.

Shop around for schools

We’ve got a few useful lists a little later on in this article, but it’s crucial to do your research. Some schools are more committed to the success of their students with disabilities, so it’s important that you look out for which schools have the highest success rates for people with disabilities. A few schools are even completely dedicated to educating students with disabilities!

Find an advocate

Sometimes speaking up for your own needs can be challenging, especially when you’re already facing the stresses of college life. Find a point person on campus or even a friend who can help you advocate for yourself so you can get your needs attended to.

Check out advocacy organizations associated with your specific disability

Many of these organizations can offer you more specific information about your rights, link you with resources that you need, and some even offer scholarships and grants to help you with the costs of schooling. This guide deals with disability broadly, so it would definitely be useful to check these organizations out for more tailored information.

Government resources for college students with disabilities

There are a number of resources and benefits funded by the federal government as well as state and local governments that can help you transition to a postsecondary education and succeed when you get there.

In addition, anti-discrimination laws are on the books to ensure that your campus is accessible and that you have the resources you need to perform at your best. These are the government resources are here to assist you.

Medical tax deduction

Under IRS publication 502, students with disabilities who require special education may be able to deduct the cost of college tuition, meals, and lodging if they attend a school that is specifically equipped to assist students with learning disabilities.

In order to qualify for the deduction, a doctor must recommend that the student attends a school that offers particular services for students with learning disabilities and the primary objective of their education should be helping them to overcome their learning disabilities.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which was passed in 2004, mainly pertains to students up to age 21 who are pursuing elementary and secondary school education. However, it does require that services are provided which can help students with disabilities transition to life after high school, including transitioning to postsecondary education.

The act requires that these transition services are offered before the student turns 16 and that schools offer individualized programs tailored to each student’s specific needs.

Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education Pamphlet

This document was developed by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The pamphlet is intended to inform students with disabilities of their rights and responsibilities when pursuing postsecondary education and offers useful information on how to address cases of discrimination, how to request academic adjustments, and what your rights are as a student with disabilities.

Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID)

In 2015, the US Department of Education offered grants to 25 institutions to help them create or expand model programs at colleges and universities that offer services to help students with intellectual disabilities transition to a college education or receive credits for postsecondary education.

Many of these programs are offered at reduced rates, provide individual support for students, and offer meaningful credentials for students upon finishing the program. You can find a list of colleges and universities that offer these programs here.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504

Under Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, any college or university that receives federal financial assistance, which is all public and most private institutions, may not discriminate against students with disabilities. They must require reasonable accommodations so that students with disabilities can have access to the same services, extracurricular activities, housing, and more that their non-disabled peers enjoy.

Schools must also provide quality auxiliary aids such as notetakers, interpreters, assisted listening devices, captioning, specialized gym equipment, and other tools to assist students with disabilities.

Assistive Technology Act of 1998

This act grants federal assistance to states to help them implement programs that provide assistive technology to people with disabilities. The main purpose of these programs is to offer several key services including state financing programs for devices, device loan programs, device demonstrations, and device reutilization programs where folks can access used devices at a low cost.

These programs are intended to help people with disabilities figure out what devices work best for them and to assist in finding ways to access them at low or discounted rates.

National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD)

The National Center for College Students with Disabilities is the only federally-funded organization dedicated to providing information and resources to college students with disabilities. They are currently in the midst of filling the gap in research about the experiences of college students with disabilities.

Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring (DREAM)

Funded by the NCCSD, the Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring(DREAM) national student activist group is an online disability cultural center that connects students with disabilities and empowers them to create change on their own campuses by forming DREAM chapters.

One of their main projects is #DREAMMentorMondays, a monthly free webinar series that touches on topics relevant to undergrad and graduate students with disabilities. Check out their College While Disabled blog for more information and inspiration.

Disability Discharge

Graduates who become totally and permanently disabled after receiving an undergraduate education may be eligible for debt forgiveness of federal student loans and/or TEACH grant service obligations. For more information, check out this FAQfrom Nelnet.

Colleges specifically for students with learning disabilities

These two accredited colleges are the only schools in the country that exclusively enroll people with learning disabilities. Both schools offer unique services and access to crucial resources for students with disabilities which help them to graduate at higher rates than their peers who are enrolled in traditional colleges and universities.

Landmark College

Located in Vermont, Landmark College is dedicated to providing an education exclusively to students with learning disabilities. They offer resource centers to help students succeed in different areas of their education including individualized programming that can identify strengths and weaknesses. Landmark also provides the latest technologies for students to use free of charge.

Beacon College

Beacon College was the first school in the country to receive accreditation which awards degrees specifically to students with learning disabilities. Their programs have an 83.3 percent graduation rate, which is significantly higher than the 34 percentcompletion rate reported by a survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The college’s Center for Student Success is one of the main draws, which acts as a resource for students to get support in their coursework, access career development services, and learn important life skills.

The best colleges & universities for students with disabilities

When it comes to supporting students with disabilities, not all schools perform at the same level. Take a look at these rankings of schools that are best for students with disabilities to help decide which college or university might be the right one for you.

College scholarships for students with disabilities

These websites offer lists of scholarships that are available for people with disabilities.

Affordable Colleges Online

Affordable Colleges Online offers a listing of 85 scholarship for students with physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities as well as a number of other resources to help you afford your college education. The list is searchable by disability.

Learn How to Become

Their 50 Best Scholarships for Students with Disabilities page offers a well-organized list of scholarships available to folks with disabilities as well as advice on how to get federal funding, grants, and other forms of financial assistance to help fund your education.

Nitro College

Nitro College’s 131 Scholarship Opportunities For Students With Disabilities. By far the most comprehensive list out there, this collection of scholarships is searchable both by disability and by award amount. The list begins with a bunch of useful resources for folks with disabilities as well.

Top 10 Online Colleges

Top 10 Online Colleges’ 25 Great Scholarships for Students with Disabilities. This list offers detailed information on 25 scholarships that are available to folks with disabilities including contact information for each scholarship and details on how to apply.

Discounts on assistive technology & free or low-cost apps for disabled college students

As technology has advanced, devices and apps that can assist folks with disabilities have become much more effective and widely available. While many of these technologies are still quite expensive, there are some resources out there that are free, low-cost, or available to you at a discount to help you succeed. Check these out:

Assistive Technology Discount Sales and Services

This company offers product information and discounts on assistive technology devices and services. Check out their Discounted Products page to find discounts on assistive technology organized by specific needs.


EnableMart offers a wide variety of assistive technology devices and products for folks with different disabilities. Join their mailing list to get invitations to free webinars and special offers, and use this discount code for $5 off your first order.


All Apple products including Mac, iPhone, and iPad come standard with assistive technology applications such as Speak Screen which reads text on a screen out loud and Live Listen, which connects the device’s built-in microphone to your assisted listening device to help you hear conversation more easily.

If you’re planning to get an Apple product for school, you can check out a list of their accessibility features here.

Dragon Anywhere

Dragon Anywhere is a free dictation app that converts speech to text. In order to access all of the features, you do need to purchase a subscription, but some features come standard.


Bookshare makes over 600,000 eBooks accessible to people with various disabilities. Students with a qualifying print disability can get a free membership to Bookshare with a letter from a doctor.

Speak It!

The Speak It! app costs $1.99 and will convert text to speech. You can plug in emails, documents, web pages, PDFs, and more and have them read back to you out loud or you can type in text and it will speak it out loud so others can hear what you’re saying.


Voice4U is an app that helps folks with autism, language barriers, traumatic brain injuries, and history of stroke communicate with others through pictures. The app normally costs $59.99, but they offer free license codes to qualified organizations and individuals. Check with your college or therapist to see if they can get a license code.

Virtual Manipulatives

Virtual Manipulatives is a top-rated free app that can help you learn fractions visually.

Talking Calculator

Students with developmental delays and dyscalculia often benefit from having a calculator that reads numbers and symbols out loud to them. This free Talking Calculator app does just that!

Voice Recorder HD

The Voice Recorder HD app creates high-quality recordings that can be replayed at varying speeds which is useful for folks who have trouble with auditory processing. The app records in the background, so you can use other programs while it records. They also offer accessibility support within the app for people with disabilities.


Ginger is a software plug-in that you can use for free on any Chrome browser. It includes tons of features like word prediction, grammar checker, sentence re-phraser, text reader, dictionary, and more, although some are only available in their subscription program.

Students can get a 40% discount on Ginger’s premium plan, which costs as little as $7.49 per month when you purchase an annual membership.

Enable Viacam

Enable Viacam is a free, open source software program allows people with ALS, spinal cord injuries, or other disabilities to control their computer with intuitive head movements instead of a mouse. It works with any good webcam and has a bunch of different customizable options.

Disability justice organizations for disabled college students

There are a number of nonprofits and other organizations out there working to support, provide resources, and ensure justice for people with disabilities. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a great idea to check out organizations that advocate for folks with your specific disability.

However, these groups work for people with disabilities more broadly and are a great place to find useful information, get involved in disability activism, and receive support:

Association on Higher Education and Disability

Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is a disability advocacy organization that “envisions a postsecondary experience that embraces disability and is free from barriers.”

In addition to offering information and resources, students can purchase an annual membership for $40 which includes benefits such as a discounts on professional development events and resources, access to their Career Center and Information Services Portal, over 50 free webinars, and more. They also offer an annual scholarshipof $1,000 to two recipients.

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is an advocacy organization that works to empower people with disabilities. Their page on education is an incredibly useful resource, containing a list of scholarships, organizations to check out, information about their advocacy work, and a link to their summer internship program.

Learning Disability Association of America

Learning Disability Association of America advocates for folks with learning disabilities, helps refer people to resources in their area that can support them, and offers an annual conference to connect folks with learning disabilities and professionals who work with them.

Students can get an annual membership for $25 which gets you access to benefitsincluding their toll-free information line, discounts on conferences and events, connection to their community forum, regular briefings, and much more.


PACER is staffed predominantly by parents of folks with disabilities and offers programming and resources to help people with disabilities and their parents.

They have an entire page dedicated to Training and College Opportunities that is a wealth of information on how to get into college, how to transition smoothly into life after high school, and how to ensure that you’re receiving fair treatment in your postsecondary education.

The National Parent Center on Transition and Employment is aimed at parents specifically, but you should check out their resources including this super useful page on using the latest assistive technology in college.

Everyone deserves a fair, accessible, and affordable education. While we may not be there quite yet, these tips and resources can help you find ways to afford a postsecondary education and to succeed when you get there. The Dealspotr blog also number of other articles to help folks with disabilities to save money that you won’t want to miss, including 100+ Resources, Tips, and Discounts on Mobility and Accessibility Products for Seniors and People With Disabilities and 60+ Discounts, Health Care Resources, and Helpful Programs for People with Disabilities.

And, as always, stay up to date with Dealspotr blog for more useful information on saving money and check out the Dealspotr homepage to get discounts and promo codes on thousands of everyday items.

This article was written by Emily Helwig of dealspotr.com . Twitter: @Marketing_Qween

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How Not to Be a Knucklehead on Venmo

Venmo takes the anxiety out of splitting brunch and utility bills. With a linked bank account and someone’s username, you can send and request cash in a few taps. But some wonder if the app makes it a little too easy for people to hit each other up for money.

Just ask Soham Maniar of Houston. He was hosting a friend for a weekend, and the two took an UberPool to dinner. Later, Maniar was surprised to receive a request for $2.85, his half of the ride cost.

“When someone is nice enough to host a friend or guest, it doesn’t mean you have to give them something in return, but I think in a world without Venmo, that friend would not have asked me for $2.85 in cash after I got out of a cab,” Maniar says.

You can take advantage of Venmo without ticking off your friends with these simple tips from Maniar and others.

Try not to sweat the small stuff

“Anything under $20 with friends I usually never charge,” Maniar says. “And if someone did something nice for me, I try and return the favor when it makes sense.”

There’s no right threshold. After all, if it’s almost payday and you have a $30 bank balance, covering a co-worker’s coffee might not be in your budget. “It’s not nickel-and-diming if [the amount] does make a difference,” says Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial.”

But if you can afford it, consider springing for small items once in a while. When Maniar treats, he says, “I like to assume they’ll treat me for something in return in the future. It probably evens out.”

Reciprocity is key, though. If you notice that one of your friends tends to take advantage, “you need to have a conversation,” Lowry says — in person. “Don’t Venmo them for the last six years of your friendship.”

Don’t stealth-charge

Venmo and other peer-to-peer payment apps let you request money without asking first — even without a username, which you can find with the app’s search function — but that doesn’t mean you should. Establishing how you’ll split the bill (or that you’ll split the bill) ahead of time helps avoid annoyance later.

“Unless we’ve spoken about sharing a cost, don’t expect a Venmo request from me for splitting it,” says Stefanie O’Connell, a finance blogger. And “don’t send me a Venmo for the guacamole you offered me a bite of,” she adds.

Spell it out

Use the memo field to add detail about the request, especially when you’re splitting multiple bills. (Emoji not required.)

“Before sending someone a request for money, you should clear it with them, including what it’s for and what they should expect to pay,” says Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert.

After a weekend trip, a simple note, such as “Hotel $100, gas $40, dinner $30” can take the stress off your recipient, particularly if you’re requesting a large chunk of money.

Make your transactions private

You can control who sees your transactions on an individual basis or set a default for your account: private or friends only. If your friend’s account is wide open but yours is locked up, the app will honor the more restrictive setting, according to Venmo’s website.

To privatize your feed, open your Venmo menu, scroll down to “settings,” and then click on “privacy.” Be sure to click “save” when you’re done.

For O’Connell, privacy is important on the app. “Who owes me money and who I owe is nobody’s business but our own,” she says.

It’s like real life — but (hopefully) better

Does Venmo actually make people ruder? Or is it just another way to demonstrate rudeness? It’s a chicken-or-egg argument with no easy answer — but some suspect it’s more often the latter.

“If you’re a jerk, you’re probably going to be a bigger jerk [on Venmo],” Swann says.

Lowry agrees: “If you’re somebody who remembers that four years ago your friend borrowed money for coffee and never paid you back, you’re going to use Venmo that way,” she says.

The good news is that if you’re considerate about money outside of the digital world, you’re well on your way to being considerate about Venmo. Think of it as a tool for payment, not a substitute for communication, and soon you’ll be splitting brunch without provoking a single eye roll.

The article How Not to Be a Knucklehead on Venmo originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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What to Buy (and Skip) in July

July brings a large helping of savings: Fourth of July deals, Black Friday in July sales and ice cream freebies.

Make the most of midsummer sales with our guide for what to buy (and skip) this month.

Buy: Patriotic items

Each year around July 4, stores pledge allegiance to the red, white and blue with sales on just about everything that has stars and stripes on it. Expect clothing discounts at department stores and decoration discounts at party supply shops. Wait until close to the holiday to buy your items at the best price.

Some stores extend their sales to other products. Last year, we located Fourth of July deals on food, appliances, mattresses and more.

Keep your eyes peeled for star-spangled savings again this year. For example, June 30 through July 5, furniture and decor retailer Birch Lane is offering an extra 15% off and free shipping on select items with code AMERICA.

Skip: Back-to-school supplies

We know: While you’re working on your tan, school is the last thing you want to think about. And you don’t have to. Retailers begin their back-to-school sales as early as July, but you’ll save more if you don’t buy your backpack or laptop just yet. School-oriented deals historically reach their peak in late August and early September, when stores are more motivated to clear shelves.

Additionally, check if your state is hosting a sales tax holiday this year. During these events, shoppers don’t pay sales tax on select supplies. Many sales tax holidays happen at the end of July or beginning of August.

Buy: Summer apparel

By July, tank tops, shorts and flip-flops have been on display for several weeks — and in some cases, several months — so it’s finally time to stock up.

By this point in the season, don’t settle for anything less than a sale price on summer apparel. Look for storewide discount events and coupons specifically for clothing departments. Designer brand Coach, for instance, has already launched its Summer Sale, as have apparel and accessory shops Forever 21 and Old Navy. And July 20 marks the beginning of Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale.

Skip: Lawn mowers

July isn’t an ideal time to purchase large, outdoor items, such as lawn mowers. After all, you aren’t the only one thinking about tending your yard, and higher demand traditionally means higher prices.

By the time August and September roll around, outdoor items will see steeper discounts, so hold off for another month or two.

Buy: Travel

July’s a great time to book your travel, as long as you’re planning a trip for later in the summer. On average, buying a flight for August travel will be cheaper than buying one for July, according to a 2018 report by CheapAir.com, an online travel agency.

If you absolutely have to fly this month, CheapAir recommends traveling on a Wednesday instead of a Sunday. July 4 flights are expected to be affordable since the holiday falls on a Wednesday.

Bonus: Black Friday in July

If last year is any indication, expect Black Friday-esque deals this month in an assortment of categories, such as apparel and electronics. Retailers often offer these discounts in an attempt to boost typically sluggish summer sales, and they can spell real savings for consumers.

Last year, Amazon hosted its annual Prime Day, with limited-time deals on products across the site. Walmart, Target and Forever 21 have hosted Black Friday in July blowouts in past years.

Keep an eye out for similar midsummer blowout sales again this year. They could be a solid opportunity to buy things you’ve been holding off on.

And ice cream

July 15 is National Ice Cream Day. Use it as an excuse to indulge in your favorite flavor. If you work it right, you can get your cone on the house.

In past years, some ice cream shops offered free or discounted treats. PetSmart PetsHotel locations have even given dog-friendly ice cream to four-legged friends. You’ll usually be able to find promotional announcements and coupons on social media.

Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @CourtneyNerd.

The article What to Buy (and Skip) in July originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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7 Cheap Alternatives to Today’s Most Popular Travel Destinations

If your heart is set on seeing the Statue of Liberty or the Mona Lisa, you can’t do that without visiting New York City or Paris, respectively.

But if you want to save money on travel and aren’t picky about the specifics, it’s possible to save money and get a similar experience by choosing a different destination.

We’ve put together a list of seven cheap alternatives to some of the hottest travel destinations in the world. Your actual costs for each destination can vary depending on your budget, where you stay, and what you do.

But to give you some ballpark figures, we’ve used data from Lonely Planetand Google Flights to show you what it might cost per day for budget, midrange, and high-end travel plans. Prices shown below are current as of late June 2018.

1. Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, instead of the Maldives

Little Corn Island The Maldives
Budget (up to) $35 $400
Midrange $35 to $80 $400 to $850
High-end (more than) $80 $850

The primary appeal of the Maldives is its remoteness. To get there, you have to take several flights and then board a ferry, speedboat, or seaplane to get to your final destination.

But you can have a similar experience for a whopping one-tenth of the price on Little Corn Island. Located roughly 50 miles off the east coast of Nicaragua, you must first fly to Big Corn Island. Once there, you’ll take a boat to Little Corn Island, where you can enjoy the beach and seclusion without the hefty price tag.

“We have always wanted to go to the Maldives but ended up going to the Caribbean instead,” said Ruby Escalona, a travel blogger at A Journey We Love. “It’s still a beach destination but much cheaper to fly to if coming from the U.S. Plus, you have more choices for flights to the Caribbean.”

2. Curacao instead of the Bahamas

Curacao Bahamas
Budget (up to) $80 $300
Midrange $80 to $200 $300 to $500
High-end (more than) $200 $500

Located in the Caribbean near Venezuela, Curacao has a beautiful mix of European architecture and tropical vibes. The island has more than 35 beaches and is surrounded by a fringing coral reef, making it perfect for snorkeling.

So if it’s a traditional tropical getaway you’re looking for, skip the higher prices on the Bahamas and visit Curacao instead.

3. Portland, Oregon, instead of Seattle

Portland Seattle
Budget (up to) $100 $125
Midrange $100 to $250 $125 to $250
High-end (more than) $250 $250

On the surface, the cost difference between these two cities in the Pacific Northwest may seem negligible. But what tips the scale in favor of Portland is Oregon’s lack of a sales tax.

This means that you can shop for arts and crafts at the city’s Saturday Market, stock up on books at Powell’s Books, or visit the city’s gardens and museums at Washington Park without paying a dime in sales tax.

Of course, the small price difference may make the three-hour drive up to Seattle worth it, but there’s plenty to do in Portland to keep you busy.

4. Galway, Ireland, instead of Dublin

Galway Dublin
Budget (up to) $93 $174
Midrange $93 to $174 $174 to $289
High-end (more than) $174 $289

Dublin is rich in history and culture. But if you want a more charming and inexpensive Irish experience, take a two-hour drive west and stop in Galway.

Galway is home to the majestic Kylemore Abbey, picturesque castles, and all the pubs you can handle. It’s also the gateway to a beautiful coast that includes a coral beach and stunning coastal cliffs.

If you don’t want to skip Dublin, you can spend a day or two in the capital city and the rest of your stay in Galway.

5. Jacksonville, Florida, instead of Miami

Jacksonville Miami
Budget (up to) $140 $150
Midrange $140 to $250 $150 to $300
High-end (more than) $250 $300

South Beach and the vibrant Cuban culture in Miami’s Little Havana are a sight to behold. But if you want to get the most bang for your buck in Florida, head to the north end of the state’s Atlantic coast.

Jacksonville was included in Lonely Planet’s list of best value destinations and is home to more shoreline than any other city in the U.S., including 22 miles of beaches. I don’t know about you, but I’d say smaller crowds at the beach are always a good thing.

6. Vietnam instead of Singapore

Vietnam Singapore
Budget (up to) $40 $146
Midrange $40 to $100 $146 to $293
High-end (more than) $100 $293

If you’re heading to Southeast Asia, you’ll get a lot more value if you visit Vietnam instead of Singapore. Plan your visit during one of the monthly lantern festivals in Hoi An, or drink in the view of the limestone towers of Halong Bay.

Then, head to the Ho Chi Minh City Museum in Ho Chi Minh City to learn about the country’s history, which has been, at times, both beautiful and terrible. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll save money doing it.

7. Montreal instead of Paris

Montreal Paris
Budget (up to) $100 $116
Midrange $100 to $200 $116 to $290
High-end (more than) $200 $290

Once you get there, Paris isn’t that much more expensive than Montreal. But a flight across the Atlantic Ocean costs more than twice as much as it does to cross the border into Canada.

For example, the cheapest flight we found to Paris from JFK International Airport in New York in late summer was $534. Head to Montreal, however, and you’ll pay as little as $252.

You’ll experience a European ambiance when walking through Old Montreal, and there’s no shortage of French restaurants. You’ll also have an opportunity to practice your French as it’s the official language of the city and province.

Do your research before you go

If you have travel plans coming up, it’s always a good idea to find ways to save money on your trip. That can mean opting for a similar but cheaper destination or finding other ways to keep your travel costs in check.

“We self-cater some days to save on food costs and look for fun and free activities in the destinations we go to,” said Escalona. “We also set a maximum we will spend for every category of our trip. For example, we only pay a maximum of $130 per night for hotels or Airbnb, and a maximum of $600 per person roundtrip for a flight.”

The important thing is that you take a step back and consider all of your options. That way, you can enjoy your trip without regretting its price tag.

The article 7 Cheap Alternatives to Today’s Most Popular Travel Destinations originally appeared on https://studentloanhero.com/.

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5 Ways Your Friendships Can Blossom on a Budget

“Ask Brianna” is a column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans — all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna@nerdwallet.com.

You do not have to spend your Saturday nights alone as penance for racking up debt or having paltry savings.

You have one life, and you don’t know how long it will be. Seeking joy should be a priority on par with paying off debt or buying a house. Research has shown that putting energy into your friendships — and simply appreciating your friends at all — improves your life. And you don’t have to spend a lot to do it.

Those who treasure their family and friends are happier and healthier than those who don’t, a 2017 study from Michigan State University found. Even more striking: Valuing friendships is a bigger indicator of health and happiness at older ages than valuing family relationships.

Set that foundation now, and what you do — and how much you spend — won’t matter. Who you’re with and whether you cherish that time together will. So don’t worry if you can’t shell out for a big group vacation, or even a friend’s fancy birthday dinner. Here’s how to cultivate long friendships when you’re short on cash.

1. Volunteer together

Pick something you both care about, like animal welfare, the environment or veterans’ issues, and research local organizations that focus on them. Sign up for an opportunity that takes place every week or month to keep you engaged in the organization, and to give you and your friends a hangout to look forward to. Bonus: It just feels nice to help people.

If you’re politically minded, you can also register voters together or attend local City Council meetings or town hall meetings for your congressional representatives. Find your representatives at GovTrack.us and check the schedule of events on their websites. Feeling engaged in your community is also a contributor to a long, happy life.

2. Join the club

You may not be in college anymore, rehearsing with your a cappella group or playing team sports. But you can start a monthly book club, wine club, hiking club, group playdate for your friends’ dogs — you name it. All it takes is a leader willing to send out a reminder email and gather everyone’s availability through a method like Doodle.

My book club has been going strong for almost four years, and the “club” part has turned out to be way more important to me than the “book” part.

3. Nab discounts for young people

Many cultural institutions want young people in the audience — they’re hoping you’ll buy tickets for years to come. Look into under-30 or under-35 discount ticket programs where you live, particularly at dance or theater performances. Some might require a small yearly membership fee, but if you like to see shows often, the fee will pay for itself.

4. Cook when solo

In a way, paying for a meal or drinks out with friends is an investment in your long-term happiness. But that doesn’t justify overspending. Budget for fun the way you would for groceries, and you can spend it without guilt.

If you simply must meet friends for dinner four times a week, look at your spending holistically — a budgeting app can help — and make cuts elsewhere. Bring lunch to work every day. Or, when you’re home alone, commit to making your own meals and avoiding takeout.

5. Get crafty

If you know how to knit or crochet, no one is stopping you from doing it with a friend while watching a film adaption of a Jane Austen novel (I have done this).

You can get a group together and sketch while listening to music, or spend a night repurposing old clothes you don’t wear so they’re summer-ready: a T-shirt into a tank top, or old jeans into cut-off shorts. There are tons of craft ideas on Pinterest. You can even schedule a clothing swap, which will let you freshen up your wardrobe for free.

Saving money usually requires forethought and ingenuity. The same goes for suggesting an activity beyond the easy, and pricey, “let’s get drinks.”

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press. 

The article 5 Ways Your Friendships Can Blossom on a Budget originally appeared on NerdWallet.