Part-2 How International Students can save money while being at GCC

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Earn money and/or gift cards just by watching videos online and by taking quick surveys:

I wasted thousands of dollars during my Freshman year at college because I knew nothing about coupons or how to rack up points and free gift cards. Sign up for MyPoints accounts. You can earn points just by completing daily activities which includes taking a survey, voting on a poll, watching videos, checking out deals, printing coupons etc. Whenever, I need to shop or sign up for a subscription like Hulu, Sephora and others I usually do it through MyPoints accounts. I always keep MyPoints tab open in my browser and I rack up points all day. It is very easy to rack up thousands of points very quickly by taking advantage of deals from popular stores like Amazon, Kohl’s where you would shop for basic necessities anyway. Other great legitimate sites for taking surveys are I-psos, Inbox Dollars, Survey Junkie, YouGov and I-Polls. College textbooks are very expensive in the USA. Last semester I brought books worth $1000 for free using Amazon gift card balance. You can easily knock off a thousand dollar  bill by using these sites religiously every day. Next time, whenever you are waiting for an appointment try taking a survey or two.

Earn Amazon gift cards just by walking:

Just think how many flights of stairs do you use every day? How many miles do you walk every day when you are rushing from one classroom to another in huge college campuses?  GCC has a pretty huge campus with a college dorm. I keep Steps Cash apps always activated on my I-Phone and I rack up points for Amazon gift cards just by walking to and from one class to another and from one campus building to another building. This is a great app to make sure you exercise by walking every day and you also earn Amazon gifts just by walking. Stay fit and happy walking!

Download FreeBird to get discount Uber rides and to earn cashbacks:

You will probably have to use a lot of Uber rides if you are an International student without a car. Uber rides are very expensive. FreeBird  gives discounts and cashback for Uber rides and restaurants.

Get a secured credit card:

You better start building up your credit history if you are going to live in the USA for the next five or more years to earn a US degree. Credit score is used to analyze everything in the US. You cannot even rent your desired apartment unless you have a good credit score. I knew nothing about credit history when I came to the US.  I wasted one and a half year without building my credit history even though I was paying all my bills on time. I remember asking a bank employee how to get a credit card. The bank employee smirked at me and told me that I cannot get a credit card because I am not a US citizen. The bank employee did not even bother to suggest me to apply for a secured credit card. You do not have to be a US citizen to apply for a secured credit card. You only need a social security number or tax identification number (TIN). So, apply for a secured credit card as soon as you land in the US. Start looking for on-campus jobs as well as soon as you start your semester. It takes several months to get a social security number. You cannot work on campus without a social security number. It is extremely difficult to apply for online credit/debit card with higher cashback value without a social security number.

When I first came to the USA I did not have access to these survival tips. I hope these tips will help you to make the most of your time and money in the US.

 

 

 

 

 

Part-1 How International Students can save money while being at GCC by Zerin Firoze

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I was born and raised in a developing country, Bangladesh, and it was my dream from a very young age to study in the US. A lot of youths like me from developing countries also aspire to study in the US. It is extra challenging for poor students from developing countries to be able to afford to study in the US. Students from developing countries cannot remit money to a foreign country. The US government is also notorious for imposing sanctions in certain countries. Exchange rates plus foreign transaction fees by banks also add up. For example, 1 US dollar is 84 takas in my country Bangladesh. There is no legal way to remit money and corrupt middlemen charge high fees. I am a student from a developing country and here are the following things I have learned after coming in the US. I hope these tips will help you to save both time and money.

Choosing the right college

I would encourage all students to start at a community college first. You can literally save thousands of dollars and still get the same degree and classes at a cheaper price. Many community colleges like GCC do not even charge admission fees. It is completely free to apply for admission. You just need to apply online. So, apply to as many colleges as you want.

Learn to drive in your home country

Many cheaper colleges in the US are located in rural areas with little to no public transportation. You can save a lot of money by choosing a rural location. The cost of living in large cities is extremely expensive. It is not possible for students to pay out of state tuition fees and still afford thousands of dollars per month for rent, food, and other basic necessities. According to American Infrastructure Report Card, the US infrastructure is crumbling and has a rating of D+. Driving schools in America are very expensive. Private one-hour driving lessons are also very expensive and are not available in all rural US counties. So, try to get some driving time before coming to the US. Ask your family members or relatives in your home country to teach you driving for free.

Try to learn about car maintenance and repair before you come to the US. Then, attend a defensive driving course and Driver’s Education course in the US to get your license. You will be very busy being a full-time student once you come to the US. So, try to learn basic life skills while waiting for your acceptance letter from US colleges or for your visa interview.

Learn how to cook and preserve food before coming in the US

I lost thousands of dollars in wasted food. I had no idea how to preserve food. I had no experience in estimating the shelf life of certain food items. I cried when I had to throw away tons of fruits, frozen meat, and cartons of milk. I have been in the US for two and a half years now and I still did not find the time to read all the articles or watch all the videos that I always wanted to watch about food preservation. You can save a lot of money by learning to preserve food. Cooking skills are also important. Next time, hit the grocery store with your mom and learn about basic spices and ingredients if you are not a cooking pro.

Learn how to use coupons and rebate apps

I remember how overwhelmed I was when I first landed at JFK airport and very quickly I became busy with campus life. I had no time to read blogs about saving money in the US as a full-time student. I had no leisure reading time outside college textbooks. Hence, do yourself a favor. Read blogs and website articles about saving money in the US while you are waiting for a decision from US colleges or for your visa interview.

Coupons and rebate apps are not used in my country at all. I became familiar with coupons and rebate apps after coming in the US. It took me two years to learn to use coupons and rebate apps. Now, I am the ultimate coupon queen. I received $54 cashback from Ebates and $55 from Ibotta just for buying groceries and other necessary items. Groupon is also a great website to save money. Learn to use coupons and rebate apps before you even come in the US. Read articles about rebate apps and coupons on the Internet.

I will share more secrets and life hack in part-2 of the same article next week!