One of the things I'm working on is trying to disentangle and generally improve my financial situation. I think I've felt so hopeless about the possibility of increasing my overall income or lowering my expenses that I've sometimes neglected other, smaller things I can do to help myself. Here are a couple of things I've discovered during the past couple of weeks that I thought some of you might want to hear about, too.
1) This is rather nifty: a program that helps people save for college or--and here's where I get particularly interested--pay down student loans by making everyday purchases. The idea is that you register your credit cards and grocery or drug store discount cards, link them to either a savings account or your student loan account, and start accruing money in small percentages per item for qualifying products. Friends and family members can even enroll their own cards and contribute their earnings to your account!
This really seems like a positive thing, all around, to me: the program pays for itself by getting commissions from the companies involved, the companies gain more loyal customers, and the people who enroll get to save or pay off debt a little at a time for products they probably already buy.
2) If you're a student and, like me, have had a computer death in the family, check to see whether your school will allow you to adjust your financial need figures upward, allowing you to take out more loan money in order to get a new machine. Some banks and credit unions also offer computer loans to students at low rates.