Getting a Job After University: Where to Begin

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of graduation? Check out this blog post where Cheap Students covers how to beef up your resume, and better prepare yourself for graduation.

Grocery Shopping Basics

An introduction on how to grocery shop better, save money and cut down on grocery bills in the future. Contains links to Canadian grocery flyers as well as prices to look for.

Textbooks: A How to Guide

A post covering how to purchase and sell textbooks at the beginning of each semester. Textbooks often cost quite a lot purchased brand new, use these tips to save money on your next textbook purchases.

Learning Tab

Check out the learning tab to view free online resources where you can learn new languages, develop your computer skills and find ways to further develop your resume.

Job Hunting

Check out the job hunting section, filled with resume, cover letter and job interview tips and resources all to help throughout the job hunting process.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Save Money on Your Cell Plan

Here's a guest blog post from Taqi at iUndergrad. It's a strategy on how to save money on your cell phone bills using Petro Canada mobility. Make sure to check out the links below, and check out what people have discussed on RedFlagDeals before trying this out. This is often a great place to check out ways to get cheap retention plans as well, with Rogers, Fido etc. Stay tuned for another blog post about retention plans. 
Note: I have not tried this out personally.
Thanks again Taqi for the guest post.


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Hey thanks for letting me write here. CSC has given me some great food ideas and has no doubt helped me save quite a bit of money. I'm glad to give something back.

To the reader: Hi, my name is Taqi and I go to school in Hamilton at McMaster University. I also write for iUndergrad

I've been in a terrible cell phone contract for the past 3 years, and just recently I came across a nifty way to cut my bill in half (and later cut it down even more to just a third). Here's how I did it...

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First up, I'd like to mention that this method really only works in Canada. If you live in the states or abroad, then you're out of luck. Also, I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies or websites mentioned in this post, aside from my aforementioned blog.

Now with the formalities out of the way, let's get into it.

My 3-year contract was with Rogers and effectively drained my soul. You see, I've never been a fan of Rogers. Don't care for their packages or their pricing. But at the time they were the only ones this side of the border who supported the iPhone 3G.

So after paying close to $60/month for 3 years (data not included), I finally reached the end of the contract in September 2011. Shortly after, I found a plan which allowed me unlimited texting, 100 Canada-wide minutes, and unlimited data for $28/month.

Now this is perfect for me because I'm an avid texter, and really only use the "phone" to call home long-distance, among other trivialities.

Don't worry if 100 minutes seems to short for you. They also have 200, 300 and unlimited minute plans.

Since then, I've cut the data ($8), and today only pay $20/month.

So how did I manage this? Well anyone can get the plan I'm currently on now, but from what I'm aware (and this may have changed since September 2011), only iPhone and Blackberry users can utilize the unlimited data for an extra $8.

The way this works, or rather the way I did it was I took the bus down to the local Petro Canada gas station and got their cheapest prepaid phone. It was $15 plus a mandatory $50 paid towards your plan. I moseyed on over to mobility.petro-canada.ca and activated my phone, and chose the plan.

Next I removed the SIM card and inserted it into my iPhone 3G. This is where I hit a bit of a bump. The $8 addition is really only unlimited mobile browsing, not unlimited data. Here are the solutions I've found:



Note: Can't speak for BB, but the iPhone does NOT need to be jailbroken for this to work.

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So that's it! Step-by-step guide how you can get a cheap no-contract cell plan (and a backup phone) for super cheap.

If you enjoyed this post, and would like to learn more ways to get ahead (in all respects) while in school, check out College Life: iUndergrad. iUndergrad is the blog where I share insanely long posts dedicated to ensure that YOU get the collegeexperience of your dreams.

Cheers,
Taqi

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Updates

Just to keep everyone updated on the newest additions to the blog, Facebook page as well as the Twitter feed, and to give a bit of an overview of what's happening.



Recently we have worked with CouponSmart, the result has been a new coupon bar that shows up throughout the blog.

Also a new social networking bar has been added to the left side of the blog. This allows you to access both the Facebook and Twitter pages, and also gives you the option of connecting via LinkedIn with me.

Check out the most recent posts on the right side of the blog, or view the entire list of current and past blog posts scroll down to the very bottom of the blog.

Keep checking back within the other tabs including coupons, budgeting and job hunting where new updates will be coming soon. Articles and other interesting information related to these topics will appear at the top of those pages.

Also located in the bottom bar are recent comments, and the blog archive.


Any other questions about where to find things, please contact Cheap Students by commenting here, posting on the Facebook page or a tweet through Twitter.

Ramen Noodles - Refreshed

Here's another blog post all about how to spice up a plain and sometimes boring student staple - The Ramen Noodle (also known as Mr. Noodles, Ichiban etc.)


Some of my own cooking tips;


Although not flashy, in the past I have simply boiled the noodles and added things like spinach, frozen peas, oriental style frozen veggies and topped it off with soya sauce. I rarely use the flavouring package any more because its crazy salty and I also don't have a broth and will just use the boiled noodles.


The easiest thing to do, and this is often the case with pasta as well; add an extra vegetable that can easily be boiled towards the end of the noodle cooking, its super easy, you strain and you haven't used more than 1 pot/pan to make veggies and noodles. 


Another way I used to cook these noodles was by boiling kettle water, putting the dry noodles in a cereal bowl (large enough to fit the noodles), adding the flavouring packet and then pouring the boiled water on top so the noodles are covered. Place a plate on top to prevent the steam from escaping, wait about 5 minutes, and your noodles should be cooked.


Some other awesome ideas;


While checking out stumbleupon I managed to find a few articles about other ways to customize Ramen noodles. Check them out and see what you like. You can apparently make shepherd's pie out of Ramen noodles?!?




Ramen Hacks: 30+ Easy Ways to Upgrade Instant Noodles 
(click the image to see the recipes);
Slideshow

Here are some recipes pulled from Crazy Ramen Recipes
Note* I didin't write these...

For Spaghetti-O's Fans
Ingredients:
2 pkgs Ramen noodles (I like the spicy flavor)
1 can tomato soup
Hot sauce (I like Tabasco)
Shredded cheese

Break noodles into quarters, place in pot. Add enough water to almost cover the noodles. Boil until almost all the water is gone, stirring the noodles often. (Or just cook the noodles and strain; it just makes more dirty dishes.) Add one seasoning packet and can of soup, stir, then add hot sauce and/or cheese to taste.

Divorced and Homeless Ramen (mostly posted this because of the title)
Ingredients:

Maruchan Chili-flavor (Spicy) Ramen (2 packets, because you’re hungry, very very hungry)
Creamy Peanut Butter (two big tablespoons worth)

Boil noodles until cooked.


At this moment, bust open the two hot chili-flavor packets onto the ramen. Then, using the fork, dig out a big wad of peanut butter (about two tablespoons but why measure) and use fork to stir peanut butter, chili-flavored-salt, remaining hot water, and ramen all together. Very soon the water/seasoning/peanut butter will have merged into a tasty, nutritious sauce, that’s darn good with those ramen noodles. Guaranteed to cheer you up for 10 minutes.



And some really weird ones...

Sweet and Spicy Coke Ramen
Ingredients:
1 pack Texas Beef Ramen (or regular beef, or asian - but Texas Beef is best)
1/2 to 3/4 can Coke (not diet)
1 pack salted peanuts
1 Beef stick (aka Slim Jim) –Optional–

Cook noodles. Crush the peanuts inside the bag. Add about 2/3 of the peanuts and eat the rest while you’re “cooking”. Drain water from noodles, then add seasoning packet and coke. Add peanuts and optional sliced beef stick or summer sausage. Add more coke to achieve the right amount of sauce and balanced flavor.

Cheesy Ranch Ramen
Ingredients:

2 packages of any flavor ramen (your not gonna use the packet anyway)
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheese ( I prefer cheddar, to each his own)
a pinch of parsley (optional)
a pinch of basil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste




Take out the ramen packets and while the noodles are still in the packages crush the ramen up, don’t turn it into dust, but in many, many pieces. Now put the ramen in a pot and fill the pot with water to cover the noodles. Cook them like the package says. Drain the noodles with a fork, I wouldnt suggest a strainer, seeing how the noodles would fall out.
Put the drained ramen back on the stove and under low heat add the cheese and ranch dressing and stir until the cheese is melted and add any seasonigs you please.



Hyperactive Candied Choco-Ramen
Ingredients:

1 block of Ramen (a package? lol)
¼ cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup Chocolate Sauce (Hershey’s… or whatever)
Powdered Sugar
Optional: ½ teaspoon Vanilla
Optional: Whipped Cream



This Ramen recipe is quite a sugar overload. Your mouth will be pleased and it will keep you up all night. Great for dessert (and for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!). Highly recommended: A tall glass of milk to wash down the intense ‘Hyperactive Candied Choco-Ramen’.
Preparation:
1. Fill pot with 2-3 cups of water, and mix in ¼ cup of Brown Sugar. Also, if available, a ½ teaspoon of Vanilla (too much vanilla would make it tastes crazy… like Godzilla… be careful).
2. Cook Ramen block when sugar-water boils. Cook until soft and quite ‘noodley’.
3. Strain Ramen until most water has left the pot and gone down the drain.
4. Pour in a few dashes of Brown Sugar, and ¼ cup of Chocolate Sauce. Make sure to mix it well, until the noodles are a nice golden-brown color.
5. Dump Choco-Ramen onto a plate, preferably NOT a paper plate. Then sprinkle as much powdered sugar as you desire upon the Choco-Ramen. This makes it look cool, and taste more awesome.
6. If you’re super-fancy, try adding a large mountain of Whipped Cream upon your Choco-Ramen creation.





Buying Ramen Noodles;

Mr. Noodles are often priced at about $0.25 a package. Check out Shoppers Drug Mart this week. A case of 12 is $2.49 (works out to about $0.20 a package).


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Grocery Shopping Basics


Since tomorrow's the day that grocery flyers come out, I figured this would be the perfect time to talk about grocery shopping and where to find the best deals.

Friday, for most grocery retailers is the day where their new sales start.

Some tips when going grocery shopping;
  • Know your prices
  • Write a list, you will be less likely to buy things you don't need (blog post later about this)
  • Don't go hungry, it's the worst, you will want to buy everything!

Especially for students, the best store to frequent are often No Frills, Food Basics and other discount grocery stores including Walmart. These stores often have better prices everyday on non-sale items, and often have really good sales including the dollar sale that No Frills often has.

When it comes to the more expensive grocery stores like Metro, Valuemart, Sobeys , Zehrs, Loblaws etc . The benefits are that they tend to have fresher produce and greater selection as well as loyalty programs. Plus you don't have to pay for a cart...

When checking out Metro, I also recommend liking them on Facebook, they often will post coupons and other savings that are exclusive to fans. 


For Zehr's stores, student discounts are offered on Tuesdays. Often their everyday prices aren't as cheap as stores like food basics or no frills, but adding a 10% on top of sale prices could definitely be worth it.

Some other stores may offer this promotion as well, but it is often occurs in specific cities (often University towns) double check out your stores to find out if they offer student discounts.

Some help when it comes to prices:
It's super helpful to go into a grocery store knowing average prices for certain items, that way you know if you are actually getting a good deal or not.

Check out the No Frills price guide by clicking on the image below. It allows you to check certain products and compare pricing at other grocery stores. 


Some price guides that I follow when it comes to certain items;

Brick Cheese (500g) $4.50-$6 is often a good price
Baby Carrots (small bag) $1 (often regular price at No Frills)
Broccoli $1 or less
Apples less than a dollar is always better
Cream Cheese spreadable (Philadelphia) $3-$4

Staples like Milk and Eggs are rarely on sale, so if you can find coupons for these things it's a bonus, Shoppers Drug Mart is often a good place for staples like these and you can collect shoppers optimum points

Non-whole wheat (not national brand) you can often find for $1 sometimes on sale at No Frills
Whole Wheat Bread (Country Harvest/Dempsters) $2-$3
Whole Grain Bagels (Country Harvest/Dempsters) $2-$3
Dempster's Wonderbread is often around $1.50-$2.50 at a good price, you can often find coupons for these
Yogurt (Source 16 packs of individual yogurts) $3.99-5.50- Recently saw these on sale for about $4.50 at No Frills, and the same week for about $7 at Metro..it was the same yogurt
Tubs of Yogurt (name brand) often $2-$3 is pretty good
Boneless Chicken $3-$4 Often pretty good per pound, it's often the most expensive chicken you can buy. It's often cheaper to buy bone in and you can remove it.
Kraft Dinner (regular) $1 or less if often a really good price for a box
Kraft Dinner (specialty) $1.50 is often a decent price for a box
Pasta $1-$1.50 if you aren't picky about the brands you buy a regular box is often around this price, you can also often find coupon for Catelli brand pasta's when you buy more than 1 box. I have actually managed to combine coupons and a sale at metro which was a 2for $5 dollar deal for their whole wheat pasta

A Guide to reading produce labels;
What products have labels-all produce; fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, herbs and nuts
Conventionally-grown fruit: 4 digit numbers. Example-Banana-4011. You can use this website to search PLU codes as well
Organically-grown fruit: This produce has five digit labels that start with the number 9. An organically-grown banana would be 94011.
Genetically modified food: These 5 digit labels start with 8. Example-genetically engineered tomato 84805.


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Images: 
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/42/No_Frills_Logo.svg/420px-No_Frills_Logo.svg.png
http://www.foodbasics.ca/images/fb-logo.gif
http://www.canadian-opportunities.ca/images/news/large/news-685.jpg
http://www.jenselk.com/uploads/3/7/9/8/3798920/4101245.gif
http://www.bloor-yorkville.com/img/stores/images/cache/valumart.jpg
http://blog.virtuallogistics.ca/Portals/36315/images/Sobeys-Logo.jpg
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_oU-gYXUH23Q/SoGtagd3vvI/AAAAAAAAALs/JmgUsRocfco/s320/loblaws.png

Thursday, February 2, 2012

LinkedIn. A Beginners How-to Guide

If you are unfamiliar with what LinkedIn is. I most often describe it as the networking/professional version of Facebook. It's where you can connect with people you have worked with, worked for or friends who are career drive. This is the place where you brand yourself, and make a more professional version of your Facebook profile.

LinkedIn is the place where you can make yourself look like a professional, and brand yourself while networking-which could help you land your next job.

Click Here to Check out the LinkedIn Step by Step Beginners Guide.

Here's a list of the first few things you should do on LinkedIn
1. Add a Photo
  • This should be a shoulders up shot, don't do a mug shot or something weird or distorted, and especially not a photo of you partying/drinking or anything else you wouldn't want an employer to see.
2. Upload your resume, and add previous work experience onto your profile

3. Join Groups
  • Choose groups based on your interests, the university you go to, the field that you want to be in etc.
  • Once you have done that, start posting on discussion boards and networking with individuals with similar interests
4. Start adding people that you know, or have previously worked for.
  • When the standard message comes up when adding people on LinkedIn, sometimes its good just to write a bit of a personal greeting to the individual you are adding. In some cases you may have not spoken to them in a while, or want to send them a personalized greeting.
Heatmap: Where People Look First on your LinkedIn Profile
linkedin heatmap
1. Profile Picture
2. Most recent "status update"
3. Current place of employment
4. Contact/Add section
5. Number of connections/recommendations

Also if you would like to network, add me on LinkedIn :)

Image
http://blogs-images.forbes.com/tomiogeron/files/2011/10/linkedin_logo_11.jpg