Miscellaneous Guides

How to Pay for College

Ways to Pay for College

Mounting student debt and rising college tuition prices have both been major subjects in the media recently, which has raised questions as to whether or not higher education is really worth the cost. Despite these rising tuition rates and the buildup of debt, most experts still agree that the majority of Americans would benefit from taking advantage of higher education opportunities. However, this still leaves students with the difficult question of how to pay for college despite a dwindling job market and loan requirements. Fortunately, there are still some accessible methods students can take advantage of to help pay for college and invest in a better future.

Taking Advantage of Scholarship Opportunities

It’s always best for students to consider scholarship opportunities before loans, since scholarships don’t require repayment and certainly don’t carry with them the burden of interest rates. The following list includes good websites to utilize when searching for a good scholarship:

These websites are good for connecting you with several different scholarship opportunities that range anywhere from academic awards to minority scholarship awards. Sports scholarships are also great for going to school while performing in the sports team of your choice. Although these scholarships can certainly be very helpful to help pay for college, one of the most helpful scholarship programs can be found through your current college and through your state. Many states have special programs for residents who have performed especially well in high school either academically, in sports, or in some specific subject.

If you continue to perform well at the college you attend, your school is also likely to offer rewards in the form of scholarships. Something important to remember when it comes to scholarships is that you can pretty much find one for just about anything. From being left handed to wearing a duct tape dress to prom, there are scholarships available for wacky subjects that seem completely unrelated to education. If you struggle with academics or are intimidated by the competition, it might be best to look into these alternative kinds of scholarship programs.

Joining the Military

When you make the noble decision to serve your country in the military, you are rewarded by several federal programs that allow you to attend an institute of higher education for free, receive benefits on housing, healthcare, and benefits for your dependents. If the cost of college seems overwhelming to you, joining the military may be a great decision. Not only does joining the military provide you with a paid education, it also gives you invaluable experience learning the various skills necessary for each job and experiencing new countries and cultures. These life lessons not only help you become more well-rounded as a person, but can also make you more valuable in the job market because you have more skills to offer.

Applying for Grants and Loans

Federal grants are similar to scholarships in that you don’t have to pay the money back; however, grants are usually preferred because they don’t require much (if any) work from the recipient. Students who come from low-income backgrounds usually qualify for the Federal Pell Grant, which can add up to $5,000 in aid per year for qualifying students. Although grants are ideal, many students don’t qualify for them and have to take out loans to pay for college. The following loans are available for students who need assistance paying for college:

Getting a Job

Rising tuition means that very few students are lucky enough to juggle classwork and homework without maintaining a part or full time job on top of that. Unfortunately, having a job is absolutely essential to making the cost of college easier on the student. In extreme cases, some students are forced into the position of taking on a full time job during the day while attending night classes just to be able to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are alternative options for paying for college besides employing a sugar daddy to help out.

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance

There are hundreds of millions of drivers with car insurance in the United States. Many drivers receive their auto insurance bill and wonder why they are paying so much. There are a number of steps that drivers can take to ensure that their auto insurance is as affordable as possible.

Raising Deductibles

Drivers should often consider raising deductibles on their auto insurance. Many drivers have low deductibles that make it easy to use insurance. Drivers who rarely place a claim with their auto insurance company should consider raising their deductible. A customer may be able to save up to 40% by changing the deductible on their policy from $250 to $1000.

Drop Additional Coverage

Many drivers who have older vehicles may not be aware of expensive options they have on their auto insurance. A customer who has an older vehicle but still maintains collision/comprehensive coverage on it may pay hundreds of dollars a year more for their coverage. Older cars may not receive a full payout for these claims either. Customers should strongly consider drop collision/comprehensive policies or raising the deductibles on these policies.

Avoid Extra Medical Coverage

Drivers who already have health coverage through work should avoid purchasing health coverage from their auto insurance company. Drivers will receive coverage from their primary health care policy. Drivers only need to maintain the statement minimum personal injury protection liability insurance. Anything extra will only increase the cost of the policy as well as over protect the driver.

Purchase a Vehicle That is Cost Efficient

Drivers who want to save money every month should purchase a vehicle that is cost efficient. An insurance customer who purchases a vehicle that is stolen often will be charged a higher premium. Any driver who decides that they want to have an expensive sports car because it looks cool will have a higher premium. Vehicles that have costly technology or expensive repairs costs are likely to have higher insurance premiums as well. Drivers can save a large amount of money by purchasing a vehicle that is unlikely to be stolen and has a good reputation for repair.

Drive Less

Drivers who drive less are able to save money on their policy. A driver who drives only 5,000 miles a year in their vehicle will pay a lower premium than drivers who drive 12,000 miles a year. Drivers also will have a lower likelihood of being involved in an automobile accident. Drivers who carpool may also receive a discount on their auto insurance. Customers should contact their auto insurance company to inquire about a potential discount.

Notify Your Insurance Company about Safety Features

Many insurance companies are automatically able to see which safety features are installed in your vehicle. However, some insurance companies do not automatically apply these discounts. Many auto insurance companies allow drivers to receive a discount for having air bags, ABS brakes or an alarm system. Insurance companies may even bundle these discounts together to give the customer even further savings.

Add Teens to Parents Policy

Many parents may not want to have their teenager on their auto insurance policy. However, teenagers who are on their own policy typically have to pay over $1,000 more a year for similar coverage. Teenagers who have good grades as well as pass a drivers education class can qualify for discounts. College students may also qualify for discounts depending upon the auto insurance company.

Carry All of Your Insurance With One Company

Many companies provide a loyalty discount for having multiple policies with the same company. This means that a customer who has a homeowners’, life insurance and auto insurance policy with the same company could save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Best of all, many insurance companies are willing to give you discounts on your other policies as well. Price shop other insurance companies and notify your current insurance company that you have found a better price elsewhere. You may be able to save money simply by asking for a discount.

Ask for a Discount

Customers should always ask for a discount. Many companies may deny a discount or only apply a small discount to your account. However, customers may be eligible to save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Often a customer has to make a simple phone call that takes less then ten minutes in order to save a large amount of money.

Avoid Coverage for Rental Car Reimbursement or Towing

Drivers should strongly reconsider adding rental car reimbursement or towing coverage to their policy. Many drivers may already have a credit card that covers them in the event of their vehicle breaking down. Check with your credit card carrier for more information to determine whether you truly need this coverage.

Tips to Remember

Drivers should remember to check with their insurance agency about all of the tips that are mentioned above. Many drivers are able to save hundreds of dollars a year on their auto insurance premiums. Cost savings can add up quickly when drivers raise deductibles, drop coverage and simply ask for a discount. Customers should always remember that the insurance market is very competitive and there are many car insurance companies who are willing to give you a quote for cheaper insurance rates.

How to Buy Small Business Insurance

How to Buy Small Business Insurance

Owning and operating a small business is hard work. Some problem is always cropping up. Making sure the business runs smoothly, efficiently, and profitably is totally up to you. There is no one to fall back on, no one else to blame. You make the decisions, and either suffer the consequences or reap the rewards. Carrying the right amount, and the correct type, of insurance is absolutely necessary–it’s a backup plan that won’t fail you. Following are a few tips on how to properly insure your small business.

Necessary Coverage

Depending on the size of your company, certain kinds of insurance will be necessary–you have to carry them. They consist of Medicare, workman’s compensation, Social Security, and unemployment insurance. A few states also require a business to provide disability insurance, which will partially cover an employee’s injuries if they are hurt on the job. For companies that use vehicles to do business, special business auto insurance is required. If your small business provides a professional service, such as a doctor or dentist, you must carry malpractice insurance. If your business is a sole proprietorship you won’t need to be concerned about workman’s comp or unemployment insurance, but there are other types of insurance you may need to consider carrying in order to be fully protected.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance covers employees that are injured on the job and are unable to work. The insurance coverage will provide a worker with an income while they’re laid up and partially cover their associated medical expenses. It will also help with the rehabilitation process, should it be required. In a similar vein, the same sort of coverage will apply if someone becomes incapacitated due to a job related sickness or disease. You can get business liability insurance through a private or state run provider.

Criminal Liability Insurance

In order to protect your business from an intentional act of sabotage by a disgruntled employee you may want to consider carrying criminal liability insurance. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for someone to become disenchanted with you or your business due to a perceived wrong and take their frustrations out on something you own. This type of insurance will make sure you’re covered for a willful destructive act.

Business Disability Insurance

Carrying added coverage, like business disability insurance, while not mandatory, is a good idea in order to protect you and your business. This type of insurance will provide coverage for you in the event you are unable to work for an extended period of time. Without it, your business probably wouldn’t survive–especially if you’re a sole proprietor. In that case you would be out of business–you would go belly up in no time. However, if you have adequate business disability insurance you will have protection, and the business should continue to prosper.

Business Owner’s Insurance

Business owner’s insurance is a type of coverage that will provide protection in the event you are named in a lawsuit for one reason or another. It will provide separation between your business and personal assets and can also help pay for attorney’s fees. It all depends on the amount of coverage you sign up for.

Professional Liability Insurance

If your business provides professional services, such as the services provided by a doctor or dentist, or many other areas of the medical community, you will need professional liability insurance. Frequently called errors and omissions insurance, or malpractice insurance, professional liability insurance will protect you against charges of negligence or any mistakes you may inadvertently make.

Product Liability Insurance

Another type of insurance to consider is called product liability insurance, which will protect you in the event of a problem arising with a product you make. If a problem develops in the manufacture of that product, or in any area of your business in which you may be considered liable, product liability insurance can provide financial protection and allow you to solve the problem.

This guest post about how to buy small business insurance was written by Bailey Harris. Bailey writes for www.businessinsurance.org.

How to Make Your Own Hair Dye

How to Make Your Own Hair Dye

Over the years, the concept of hair dying has become increasingly popular. Whether you want a dramatic or subtle change, the store-bought options are endless. There is a problem with these store-bought hair dyes, though. They contain large amounts of chemicals, which you may not want on your head. Luckily you can create your own hair dye at home, using ingredients that are chemical-free and much less harsh. The ingredients that you need to create your own hair dye will depend largely on the shade you desire, and can possibly be found right in your own kitchen. Keep in mind the results will not be as substantial as with traditional hair dye, but you will feel good knowing no chemicals are being used.

How to Make Blonde Hair Dye

There are a few different natural hair dye options for blonde hair. One uses lemon juice and chamomile tea. All you have to do is mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with two cups of strongly-brewed chamomile tea. Make sure the two are blended well and apply to hair after shampooing. Ring out excess and cover hair with a clear shower cap if possible, and leave the mixture on for thirty minutes or so. To speed up the lightening process, sit out in the sun or under a blow-dryer on low to medium heat while you wait.

Another recipe for blonde hair dye uses six chamomile tea bags, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, and five drops of lavender essential oil. Bring two cups of water to a boil, then add the tea bags and steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and add the yogurt and essential oil to the tea mixture. Apply to hair as thoroughly as possible, avoiding the scalp if you can. Cover hair with a shower cap, and leave on your hair for 30 to 40 minutes. Again, sitting in the sun or under a hair dryer will speed up the lightening process. Be sure to rinse thoroughly when time is up.

If you choose to use these recipes, you should remember that they are best for hair that is already somewhat blonde. They will lighten dark blonde to light brown hair, but the process may have to be repeated several times until a noticeable result is achieved. If you use these recipes on darker hair, you may get coppery results.

How to Make Brunette Hair Dye

If you are looking to give your hair a shot of dark color, there are a couple ways to make it happen. The first recipe for brunette hair dye uses plain old black coffee or tea. Just brew a couple strong cups of either, or a mixture of both. Let the coffee or tea cool and then apply to clean hair. Ring out the excess and cover hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap. Leave on hair for 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse well. Your hair should have some rich brown tones when you are done. Repeat this method as often as you wish.

Hair can also get a brown boost from a recipe that uses walnut husks. All you have to do is boil 1 to 2 cups of crushed walnut husks in a saucepan with four cups of water. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let the mixture steep and cool for an hour or so. Strain the walnut pieces out and use the liquid as your dye. Apply to your hair and let it sit for half an hour. Rinse well and follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse for shine.

How to Make Red Hair Dye

Many people would love to have red hair at least once in their lifetime. You can give yourself a shot of red color with a recipe that uses rosehips and beet juice. Just combine 1/2 cup rosehips with 1/2 cup beet juice, along with 2 cups of water. Place the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until a strong tea forms, usually about thirty minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep another half hour. Next, strain the mixture and apply the liquid to clean hair. Leave it on your hair for 30 to 45 minutes, then rinse well. Reapply as often as desired. Rosehips and beet juice can both be found at health food stores.

Gray Coverage

If you would like a natural way to cover stubborn gray hair, sage should do the trick. Just mix 1/2 cup of dried sage with two cups of water in a saucepan. Simmer the mixture for thirty minutes or so, and then let it steep for 2 to 3 hours. Strain and apply to gray areas using a spray bottle. Leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse. Repeat this regularly and gray hair should begin to fade after a couple weeks.

These recipes for hair dye will allow you to experiment with your hair color without exposing yourself to harsh chemicals. They will also save you money, as hair dye in stores can be pricey. Be sure to have fun and always use caution when using hair dye. Irritation can still occur even though these recipes are natural. If any redness or irritation develops, discontinue use immediately.

How to Levitate

Levitation is the act of “floating” just above the ground. Unlike flying, levitation is temporary and low altitude. Wondering how to levitate? Depending what kind of levitation you’re after, there are multiple ways to pull it off.

Many spiritual practices promote the ability to levitate — especially in Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. The spiritual power of levitation is usually acquired through spiritual meditation, a completely serene, calm, and focused state of mind that allows the body to do all sorts of amazing things. In Eastern religions, there are multiple accounts of levitation through meditation. Spiritual levitation isn’t limited to Asia — people in Africa and South America tell tales of levitation through the practice of magic. Whether or not you believe in this kind of levitation doesn’t really matter — this article won’t teach you how to meditate your way to levitation. We’re going to concentrate on the illusion of levitation through “magic” and the trick of presentation.

Art of Levitation

David Blaine, the famous street magician, has perfected the art of levitation and often shows it off on his television specials and magic shows. Convincing a person that you’re levitating is a matter of getting in their head, getting them to believe that you have this power, and pulling off the levitation trick using some “sleight of hand” (or “sleight of foot”) techniques.

How to Levitate

How to Levitate

Not surprisingly, you’ll need a specific “prop” to conduct the illusion of levitation properly. The prop doesn’t do all the work, though — you’ll need to be able to “misdirect” your audience as well. This last bit, misdirection, is what performers like David Blaine and Criss Angel are masters at. Combining misdirection and proper use of props (as well as the proper viewing angle) will convince any crowd that you have the ability to levitate.

Levitation Magic Trick

Contrary to popular opinion, there are wires or hydraulics involved in this trick. Yes, the levitation magic trick is a gimmick — a shoe that the magician can easily slip on and off — and a pair of pants that have a specific cut in them that allows the magician’s leg to move out of them.

The shoe and pants gag is pretty simple — attach the shoe to the pants so that when your foot is out of the shoe, the shoe still hangs in place and appears to be on terra firma.

Performing Basic Levitation

To perform a basic levitation trick, stand in front of a chair with a few inches between you and the chair. You need enough room between you and the chair to step up onto it without giving away that you’re just stepping up into a chair. You’ll need to distract your audience by diverting attention away from your legs and feet. Once attention is misdirected, just move your leg forward and out of the pants leg via the cut you made down the front of the pant leg. This is the part of the illusion that takes practice.

You should be able to easily slip out of your shoe without giving away that you’ve pulled out your foot. Then, as you move your foot out of the shoe and pants, just step on top of the chair. All that’s left is to lift yourself up on that leg and stand on the chair. Another key part of the trick is to “levitate” for a very brief amount of time, or else your audience gets nervous and looks for “the trick”.

Levitation is a simple gag and misdirect trick. Practice it at home in front of a mirror before you try to pull it off at your next party.

How to Build a Robot

Want to learn how to build a robot? Let’s start out by understanding what a robot is and how it works.

The word “robot” refers to any automatically guided machine that is capable of performing tasks on its own. This basic definition means that the simplest machines that perform menial tasks repeatedly are classified as “robots”. In fact, the first “robot” put to use was a simple machine that cut and stacked pieces of sheet metal. Not exactly the stuff of science fiction, but an important tool nonetheless.

Basically, a robot is a computer or machine with any kind of mechanical body, usually designed to do a specific job. Robots are able to move and use one or more electronic sensors to operate. These sensors are not yet as powerful or finely tuned as our own senses of sight and sound (for example), but robotic technology is improving all the time. The latest robots are learning to sense the world around them and react to it, much the way a human being would.

Building Your Own Robots

Building your own robots is going to cost you a little bit of money. If you don’t have robot materials laying around your garage, you’ll need to stock up on some basic parts. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars for even the most basic robot. Once you’ve built a few robots, you may find that you’ve got left over parts to use, meaning your other robots will be less expensive.

The first step to building a robot is design. Before you get ahead of yourself, plan on making a simple robot with two wheels that drives itself backwards, forwards, and side to side. This sounds simple, but the complex workings of a robot mean that even the most simple design — such as a differential drive for a two-wheeled robot — can be hours of work with little reward.

Robot Parts

How to Build a Robot

How to Build a Robot

Buy the parts you’ll need for the design you’ve chosen. For a simple two-wheeled robot, you’ll obviously need wheels. You’ll also need motors or servos to get your robot moving. Don’t forget power — purchase a battery (either alkaline, nickel-cadmium, or nickel metal hydride) to get your robot the power it needs. A power regulation circuit is necessary to keep your robot moving in something akin to the direction you want — micro controllers are available for purchase, since building your own may be too tall an order for your first robot.Other parts you’ll need are a programmer, a remote control system, sensors, and a chassis (or body) for your robot.

Sound expensive and hard? It is. If you thought building your first robot would be a walk in the park, you obviously haven’t seen many robots in action. Robotics is a complex and fun hobby, and one that you can easily turn into a career. The skills you learn in building your first robot are easily applicable to engineering, mathematics, and even engine repair. Even if your first robot is a bust, remember to have fun. Building a dud robot isn’t the end of the world.

How to Get a Patent on an Idea

If you want to know how to get a patent on an idea, that means you’ve had an idea for a new device, a new invention or a new design of an old device or invention. Patents protect you from others making, selling or using patented ideas for 20 years in the United States, or importing said devices for twenty years in the U.S.

You should know that an idea or a concept can’t be patented. That is, if you have the idea “wormhole to another solar system”, you can’t patent that idea. If you were to design a device that created a wormhole to another solar system, you could patent that idea for your invention, or you design for that device. (I know, wormholes don’t work that way. You get the point.)

Patenting an Idea

Patenting an idea is a can be accomplished if you have a specific, practical new design or invention. If that’s the case you need to learn how to get a patent on your idea. But if it’s just an idea itself, you won’t be able to get a patent.

Brainstorm an Idea for an Invention, Design or Device

Get an idea for a inventive new device. Next, draw a sketch or drawing of that proposed invention.

Hire a Patent Agent – Conduct a Patent Search

Next, conduct a patent search, to see if someone else has patented a similar device or invention. You’ll need to hire a patent agent or patent attorney to perform this search.

Hire a Patent Attorney

How to Get a Patent on an Idea

How to Get a Patent on an Idea

If you’re serious about getting a patent on your design, consider hiring a patent attorney to represent you at the PTO – that is, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent process is complicated and patent law is frustrating for amateurs, so this is going to save you a lot of frustration. Note that patent attorneys cost money, just as patent agents do.

Apply for the Patent

Now that you have your unique invention and the people to represent you, apply for a patent at the PTO. Remember to pay our application fees. The Patent Office might ask for a working model of you invention.

Patent Pending

Once you submit you patent application to the U.S. Patent Trademark Office, remember to start listing your invention as “Patent Pending”. This lets other inventors and designers know that they shouldn’t copy your design.

Cross Your Fingers

After you submit your application, you’re probably in for a long wait. The patent process might take years to complete. If the PTO denies your patent, then appeal the decision. Note that this costs an additional fee.

Getting a Patent on an Idea

So you can’t get a patent on an idea, per se, but you can get a patent on a good idea for a specific design, new device or invention. Learning how to get a patent on an idea is learning how to follow the patent process, then maintaining the patience to wait, while the PTO decides the fate of your patent.

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

Everyone has seen how picking locks works on tv shows, so you know you want to learn how to pick a lock with a paperclip. Lockpicking with paperclips actually isn’t that hard to do, if you have a sturdy paperclip, a hammer and a tension wrench.

Picking Locks With Paperclips

So put on your black toboggan and your ninja blacks and let’s see how to pick locks with paperclips. Here are some instructions for picking locks with paperclips.

Prepare the Paperclip

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

Take a larger, thicker paperclip and straighten out the outer ring of the clip. This should give you a long, straight piece of metal to manipulate the inner workings of a keyhole with.

Hammer the Paperclip

Next, set the paper clip on a flat, hard surface that you can hammer on. Surfaces that work are concrete floors, anvils and workshop tables. Don’t hammer on a glass living room table, a kitchen table or a counter top.

What you’re wanting to do is to hammer out the paper clip, until it’s flat. This is an important step that many people who try this forget to do.

Using the Tension Wrench

Despite its name “tension wrench” or torque wrench,. This tool provides torsion, not tension, to the inner workings of a lock, so it can also be called a “torsion wrench”. This lock-picking tool has an l-shape to it, and this holds picked pins of the inner cylinder in place, allowing you to shift other pins with the paperclip.

Place the tension wrench in the key hole, placing the paper clip in the key hole above the wrench. You’ll want to apply gentle pressure to the cylinder with the tension wrench, turning the wrench ever so slightly as you do.

Pin and Tumbler Locks

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

How to Pick a Lock with a Paperclip

Most locks you’ll encounter are pin-and-tumbler locks, which have a cylinder that rotates around, but is held in place by several pins. As you first use the torque wrench, you want to test to see which way the lock works. When you turn the torque wrench, if the stop is solid and firm, then that’s the wrong way. Simply test the other way and, by process of elimination, you can pick the lock.

Working the Paperclip

Meanwhile, use the paper clip to manipulate the lock, while working the tension wrench. You want to move the paper clip in and out of the lock, while using the tension wrench to push up on the lock pins.

Find the Firm Pin

Keep testing the pins, trying to figure out which one is firmest. When you find the firm pin, you’ll need to push on it as hard as needed, to make get the pin to unlock. When this happens, you’ll hear a short clicking sound. This is a good sound, because it means the pin has set and is no longer in the cylinder.

Continue doing this until all pins have clicked and you’re almost there. Now, turn the tension wrench in the cylinder, which should unlock the lock. If your calculations were wrong earlier and you turn the wrench in the cylinder the wrong way, the pins will reset and you have to start all over again.

Paperclips as Lock Picking Tools

In some cases, if you don’t have a torque wrench or tension wrench, you can use a second paperclip to pick a lock. With the second paperclip, straighten it out, then bend the end in a 90-degree angle, which should make the l-shape. If that doesn’t work, try a small screwdriver.

As you can see, while it might be easier to use a paperclip and torque wrench, you can learn how to pick a lock with a paperclip or two. You know, just like they do in Hollywood.

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