Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Private Tutor?

January 22, 2015 Permalink 0

tutorWhen I was in college I made some extra cash by grading English papers for a high school teacher and working as a private tutor to students in literature.

As an English minor in college, it was work that was right up my alley and was enjoyable.

Later in life as a full-time journalist, I volunteered to work as a tutor for non-English speaking students, teaching them how to read in English. I couldn’t imagine going through life not being able to read, especially being Spanish in an English-speaking and writing country, so I worked with an older Spanish woman for free twice a week to teach her how to read in English.

Both tutoring jobs were fulfilling. The college one helped me pay some bills, but the free tutoring help I offered was much more satisfying because I could see her advancement more rapidly.

Through both of these experiences, I learned some of what it takes to be a good tutor. Except for a quick class I was given about how to teach people how to read, I was left on my own in how to be the best tutor I could be.

Here are four things I discovered:

How Apartment Living Can Save You Money

January 21, 2015 Permalink 1

apartmentSometimes I miss the good ‘old days, back when I wasn’t a “homeowner” and I got by with living in a two bedroom apartment. Life was simpler back then. I had fewer (and smaller) bills to worry about and I never had to make repairs or upgrades to my living space. While home-ownership certainly has its benefits over apartment living, living in an apartment can really save you some money if you go about it in the right way. Here are just a few ways I saved money while I was living in an apartment.

Not Getting a Roommate

While deciding to live alone in a two bedroom apartment might not seem like the best use of space or money, in the long run this decision saved me a ton of money and my sanity. Lots of my college classmates decided to share an apartment with people they went to high school with, or people they met during their college classes. For most of these people the classic advice “don’t room with someone you’re friends with” turned out to be very true. Most of these people are no longer speaking to each other and they certainly aren’t still living together. In fact, many of them didn’t even make it through their one year lease term. This resulted in them having to look for a new place to live mid-school year and pay a large amount in fees to get out of their rental contract early.

Having a roommate might save you some money on rent and utilities, but it doesn’t usually save you any money on groceries. The grocery situation is always a tricky one, no matter if you decide to share groceries and split the bill or have each individual provide their own food without any sharing. Groceries and splitting apartment chores always seem to be the big factors that split roommates up.

Live Modestly in an Apartment

By not seeking the most glamorous apartment in the most luxurious neighborhood, I was able to rent my apartments by myself in college and still have them remain affordable. When you are a full-time college student working a part-time job, you don’t need to have all of life’s luxuries in your apartment. Your main focus should be on your education (and having a little fun), not on having the best apartment out of everyone you know.

Part of living modestly also means keeping your other living expenses and bills in check too. Simple things like choosing Netflix over cable TV and setting your thermostat a little lower than you’d prefer during the winter will go a long way in helping you keep your living expenses low. Luckily, the utility bills associated with apartment living are usually much lower than that of a house to begin with. When I lived in an apartment, my monthly utility bills ranged from $30-50 each month (for all my utilities combined)!

There’s something to be said for truly “living like a broke college student,” this is a great way to keep your living expenses low and build wealth quickly if you are no longer a student. I made the mistake of taking on too big a mortgage after college and now I’m almost “house poor”. There are certainly days that I miss the cheaper lifestyle that comes with apartment living.

How else do you think apartment living can save you money?

Photo courtesy of: Matthew Trentacoste

Signs a Recession is Coming: Calling Out Noisy Neighbors

January 16, 2015 Permalink 0

noisy neighborsI didn’t want to call my neighbor’s parole officer, but I saw it as my last chance at peace. Not peace between the parolee and myself, but peace and quiet from my noisy neighbors.

The ex-convict was living in a rented house next to ours with a woman he knew, her kids, and a lot of visitors at all hours of the day and night for short visits, if you know what I mean. In other words, drug deals from noisy neighbors that the police decided weren’t big enough to warrant their attention.

But that wasn’t the main reason I spent months complaining to police before I eventually figured out that the man’s parole officer was the best person to help me solve the many problems he created among the noisy neighbors he lived with. I’ll get around to those problems later, which I should have seen as a tipoff of the recession that was to come.

Noisy Neighbors Just the Beginning

In a roundabout way, my call to the parole officer was not only an example of how to deal with a bad neighbor, but of how the rising housing market and low home rental rates quickly led to the housing market crash, and thus the recession, of 2008. My call to a parole agent, I see now, should have alarmed me to the housing crash that was coming. Hindsight is 20/20, I know, but seeing what was a great neighborhood become a spot where drug dealers could come and go is something you can’t miss.

Just as police use the “broken windows” method of crime fighting to prevent major felonies from happening by taking care of broken windows and other signs of small crimes quickly, having an ex-con as a neighbor who created problems on my normally quiet street should have been an omen.