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10 Inexpensive Ways To Continue Your Education Outside of School

10 Inexpensive Ways To Continue Your Education Outside of School

Colleges and universities are great institutions for individuals to learn a subject of specialty that they are interested in going further in after they finish their studies. With the networking skills and organized track that studying in an institution gives is currently still unmatched, however times have changed with the advent and advancement of technology over the past few years. Individuals are beginning to notice that they learn a lot outside of an institution and even after life in a university, they can learn to advance their knowledge. Today, we will talk about ten inexpensive ways to continue your education outside of college.

1. YouTube

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    YouTube is a great resource for individuals looking to continue their education outside of school because of the various channels available that teach any subject you could think of. On the subject of foreign languages, the options are endless, from Learn Arabic with Maha to French lessons with Alexa Polidoro. Math help and science videos are also found on everything from Earth Science to Calculus, and everything in between. All it takes is a quick YouTube search and your world of knowledge opens up.

    2. Code Academy

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      Having a knowledge of coding is an important and useful skill for today’s job market. Due to the initiative in institutions to get more individuals to, at the very least, get some knowledge of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, and at most, to get them into STEM careers.

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      Code Academy makes learning common coding languages, like HTML/CSS, Javascript, Python, Ruby, among other languages more approachable for the individual without extensive experience. This is done through interactive exercises on the fundamentals. Getting started with a Code Academy lesson can allow you to learn the basics and figure out what direction you’d like to go in learning how to code in an advanced manner.

      3. Khan Academy

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        With over 300 million views collectively, Khan Academy is a great resource for individuals who want to learn in depth on just about any subject they fancy. The brain-child of Sal Khan, Khan Academy is useful for both children and graduated adults alike with its vast array of subjects, all free to learn. Many even come with exercises to ensure that you were able to grasp the material. It’s all at your own pace, ensuring that what matters is that you are learning, not trying to make a deadline (graduation). Check out Khan Academy today and start learning.

        4. Learn at an Ivy League

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          An Ivy League education has the prestige and status due to usually their long periods of existence and the quality of education that individuals expect. But you don’t have to study at an Ivy League school, with many individuals succeeding in smaller known schools, it doesn’t hurt to learn a thing or two from an Ivy League school if you aren’t paying for it. Through MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, you are able to learn from Ivy League professors in the comfort of your own home. Along with each school offering their own domain for courses, iTunes U and Coursera are two other popular MOOC providers .

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          5. Check out Udemy

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            Udemy is the resource for individuals looking to learn and get started with applying those skills right away. Many aren’t self paced due to the fact that you’ll have an instructor, however with an instructor you have a more personalized learning experience. Udemy excels in teaching tech skills, like programming and learning the advanced aspects of certain desktop applications and office suites, however you can find lessons and courses on a wide variety of subjects as well.

            6. Learn with TED Talks

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              TED Talks are a compilation of videos of TED and TEDx conference speakers held around the world. If you are familiar with TED conferences, you’ll know that the subjects covered can run the gamut. While they aren’t courses or your conventional “lessons” they do offer a lot that individuals can take away from. In the technical sense, TED talks are educational. You can view the official TED website to take a look at posted videos, searchable by subject.

              7. Approach the Source

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                A great way to continue education outside of college is to approach individuals in the industries and subjects you are interested in learning more about. They can act as your mentor, offering tips, advice, or even explanations on the complex factors of their industry that they work in.

                They don’t have to be award winning laureates, they can be a friend who works as a software engineer, or a family member working in marketing and you’re looking to get into either one of those sectors. They can connect you to both well known as well as lesser known resources to get you on the right path.

                If you don’t find yourself with such individuals, check out Quora. Standing for Question or Answer, Quora is the well organized, more educated Yahoo Answers! that we all hoped for, featuring industry professionals and common Joes alike who ask and answer some of life’s simplest and most complex questions.

                8. Learn Through Entertainment

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                  Entertainment isn’t always considered a time waster. It can be the key to learning a multitude of things. If you are learning a language, making use of multimedia including movies and television shows are a great way to not only keep the language fresh, but to also make use of context clues to learn new words. This beats learning in a classroom and is a great supplement to language learning through the means we discussed above. Netflix is a great place to find international movies with subtitles. If you want to have complex subjects explained to you, Netflix also offers various television shows from Discovery Channel as well as non-fiction movies.

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                  9. Read On

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                    Reading is a great way to continue your education outside of college. If you are like a lot of students, you may find that learning out of your textbook, a long with a bit of supplemental Q&A time with a knowledgable individual on the subject can be more beneficial than sitting in an hour long class itself. Amazon is a great resource for finding books, especially on programming. Many individuals find that books can be a good guide to starting programming. iBooks can be an affordable digital alternative to purchasing hard copies. If you want the feel of a book, but in digital form, investing in an Amazon Kindle could be a good option.

                    10. Apply Your Skills

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                      Once you begin to gain skills, or even with the skills you already have, it may be wise to find ways to apply these skills through internships or entry level jobs in your field or position you’re looking to obtain. This is considered one of the best ways to continue learning outside of college because many employers will pay for you continual advancement in learning and you’ll learn the best way many individuals find they can, by doing. Make use of internship and job websites to find opportunities and pay close attention to benefits they have for continual certification assistance.

                      Let us know in the comments below which route you’ve chosen to continue learning outside of college.

                      Featured photo credit: Pegasusoverseas via pegasusoverseas.com

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                      Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                      In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

                      5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

                      Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

                      1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                      Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                      It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

                      Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

                      2. Keep Them Realistic

                      It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

                      It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                      3. Account for Inflation

                      Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

                      Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

                      For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

                      4. Short Term vs Long Term

                      Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

                      As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                      More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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                      5. To Each to His Own

                      The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

                      It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

                      By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                      11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                      Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

                      • Ensuring healthy savings
                      • Making smart investments

                      You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

                      Ensuring Healthy Savings

                      Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                      This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                      1. Track Expenses

                      The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

                      Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

                      2. Pay Yourself First

                      Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

                      Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

                      The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

                      Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

                      3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

                      Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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                      Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

                      At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                      Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                      You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                      4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

                      Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

                      If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

                      Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

                      All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

                      5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                      In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                      Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                      Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

                      If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

                      If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                      So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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                      6. Talk About It

                      Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

                      Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                      7. Maintain a Journal

                      For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                      So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                      Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

                      When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

                      At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

                      Making Smart Investments

                      Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

                      8. Consult a Financial Advisor

                      Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

                      Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                      9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                      Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

                      Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

                      Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

                      It is here where that classification will help.

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                      So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

                      10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                      Einstein once remarked about compounding,

                      Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

                      So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                      Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                      11. Measure, Measure, Measure

                      All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                      If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

                      If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

                      Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                      The Bottom Line

                      This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

                      As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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                      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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