Category Archives: Saving Money

8 Things to Do on a Summer Staycation

July 27, 2016

Summer Staycation | Cash4Books

There’s nothing quite like a summer vacation. It’s warm and sunny, the semester has ended, and you’re yearning to get out of the house and forget about your daily responsibilities. Proper travel vacations can get expensive, though, which is why staycations at home are a popular rejuvenator for college students. You take time off work to relax and unwind without paying hundreds of dollars on a hotel room.

Here are 8 things you can do to enjoy a summer vacation right from your own home (and bed).

1. Unplug for a bit

These days, it feels like we’re always plugged in. Our phones, tablets, TVs, computers — we’ve always got something electronic in front of us. While it can be tempting to spend free time flopped out on the couch binging the newest season of your favorite show, vacation is a time to change your daily rhythm.

So turn off your electronics. Put them away, if only for a day. Go for a walk without your phone, read a book in the park, or do a crossword. Everything will be there when you get back! Change up your routine; your brain (and body) will appreciate the change of pace.

2. Take naps — outside, if you can

Running the rat race of modern life can be exhausting. A third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. You can’t catch up on all of your sleep over a few days, but strategic napping can help you enjoy your moments of relaxation and give you an energy boost.

While some of us nap best in an armchair or on the couch, summertime weather makes napping outside a joy. Whether you’re in a hammock or nestling on the grass in the shade of a tree, it’s easy to drift away for the better part of an hour.

Just remember to put on sunscreen. Waking up to sunburn can spoil the joy of a summer nap!

3. Get a local history lesson

No matter how small your college town, there’s a good chance there are some historic places near you. The National Register of Historic Places catalogs famous, interesting, and sometimes quirky places in your area where history was made. Many of them are free or at least cheap to visit! Checking off a few of these is a good way to spend your afternoon while learning about the past.

4. Go for a hike or a long walk

You may be on a budget, but you know what doesn’t cost a penny? Moving your legs. If there are hills around you, go for a hike! If you’re in a flatter area of the country, find a nearby park and go for a walk.

For an even better experience, bring a friend, significant other, or family member(s) and pack a picnic!

5. Get wet

Most of the nation’s population lives within driving distance of some body of water. Enjoy a good summertime dip in lakes, rivers, swimming pools, or the ocean. Whether you’re heading to the beach or the poolside, beating the heat with good old-fashioned H2O is a time-honored way to spend your R&R during the summer.

6. Have a movie night

Going out to the movies is pricey. Popcorn, drinks, candy, and tickets all add up to one expensive night out. So why not bring the movies home? Better yet, build a backyard movie screen. Invite friends over, grab a couple of movies you’ve always wanted to see, and have all the fun of a night at the movies for a fraction of the cost.

7. Explore local events

When you’re on a vacation, you want to have experiences you’ll remember, right? That doesn’t mean you need to go far to find them. Go to local fairs, festivals, and other events. Some may be small, but that just gives you more of a chance to meet interesting people doing things you might not have known about!

8. Host a cookout

Nothing says summertime more than a grilled feast. The smell of hotdogs and hamburgers sizzling on the barbeque is summer. Celebrate your staycation by having good friends over and cooking a meal — or ask everyone to bring something potluck-style.

Most of these ideas cost little to no money, especially when split among friends. For the things that do — or to put some extra cash in your pocket for summertime treats — make sure you’re selling your used textbooks at Cash4Books!

How to Sell Your Textbooks and Get Cash Fast!

November 11, 2015

Sell-Your-Textbooks-and-Get-Fast-Cash!

The life of a college student is busy. Like, crazy busy. We get it!

With classes, clubs, sports, friends, family, and homework to juggle, you don’t have a ton of free time. That’s why one of our missions at Cash4Books is to save you time and money. When you sell us your textbooks, we want to make sure you get your cash fast, so we’ve streamlined our book buying process to 3 simple steps! Continue reading

Find Great Web Designers and Save a Bundle

May 21, 2013

99designs
99 Designs is a great place to get a design that you’ll love, and save a bundle of money.  We’ve used them two times now. Once for a t-shirt design and another time for a web design mockup.  Both times we were thoroughly impressed.  Many designers will compete on the same project, and all for a fixed flat price–not by the hour.  We love seeing different ideas and perspectives from many different designers.  The designers are motivated to deliver their best work because only the winner gets awarded the money. We rated and commented the ones we liked and received even more revisions from the designers.  It’s a great process, and ultimately we ended up with very polished designs both times we used them.  We were very happy with the end products.  Here’s some info from their site:

 

What is 99designs?

99designs is the world’s leading design contest marketplace, powered by a massive community of designers and business owners.

Small businesses and startups everywhere use our service to get graphic designs for logos, business cards, t-shirts, websites, and more.

Designers from all over the globe compete with their peers in design contests to win prizes, improve their skills, and establish relationships with new clients.

Here are some of the reasons why our customers love running design contests at 99designs:

  • Design contests are ideal for clients who don’t already have a freelance or in-house designer. Contests allow clients to see work from, and work with, many different designers at once.
  • Design contests let clients see finished designs custom-made for their company, rather than committing to work with a designer based on their past work for other companies.
  • Design contests are quick. The average contest lasts for one week, at the end of which time the client walks away with a finished design that’s ready to use. The designers have great new designs to add to their folios—and, if they’ve done well, some prize money too.
  • Design contests are very cost-effective. The client chooses the contest prize they want to pay, and know that designers will create designs for that price — there’s no going over budget here!
  • If clients aren’t satisfied with the designs submitted to their contests, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee.

See how it works, or check out the video on our homepage for more about our service.

Hiring Freelance Web Developers – Start with a Detailed Requirements Doc

March 29, 2013

A great deal of money can be saved by outsourcing your web development to freelancers.  This article builds off of my previous post, How to Hire on oDesk – Eight Tips for Small Business Owners. I have over 10 years experience building many web applications, including cash4books.net, gamerevive.com, mkzbooks.com, and sellbooksdirect.com. If you are looking to hire freelance web developers (AKA web programmers), one of the most important first steps is writing the detailed requirements document for your web application. It defines the scope of the project, and makes it very clear WHAT you are building.  But, it does not address HOW it will be built (a design document would do that).  A clear and detailed requirements document will set your project up for success for your outsourced web development project, and it will save you money by not having to go back and redo parts of the project that were not well defined.  And, if you haven’t figured it out, oDesk is my recommended solution for finding the best freelance web developers.

I prefer to use a Google Docs for writing the requirements.  First, set up the following outline. For your convenience, I created a detailed requirements document template to get you started.  Just open it and go to File–>Make a copy. Then start filling it in.  You’ll need a Google account, of course.  Or, if you want to use Word or something else, here is the outline:

  1. Summary of Functionality
  2. Definitions
  3. CSS, logo, and design of site
  4. Header, navigation, and footer
  5. SEO
  6. Customer Facing Pages
  7. Flow Chart
  8. CRUD operations (create, read, update, delete)
  9. Admin Panel
  10. Roles and Security
  11. Reporting
  12. Form Validation and Error Messages
  13. Logging
  14. Usability
  15. Email Alerts
  16. Mobile
  17. Installation
  18. Maintenance
  19. Q&A from Job Post
  20. Optional: Video Walkthrough of Competitor Sites

For the hardcore software requirements writers, the first critique will be that I’m not recommending usage of UML. Though I’m academically trained in UML, I don’t think it is necessary for the average business owner to use when building out the requirements for the average outsourced web project. That said, it really depends on the size of the project. Larger, and more expensive, projects can benefit from a more rigorous UML based approach.

Back to the Google Doc… Be sure to use “heading 2″ for the high level outline. This way, you can use the table of contents feature at the top of your Google Doc, and you can refresh it and create links to your content.

When writing out the content, use the word “must” instead of “should” in your requirements.  For example, say “The navigation must have x, y, z”. Watch my video for more tips on how to fill in the content from here:

Thanks, and please let me know if my post has been helpful to you by leaving a comment below.

Jim McKenzie Smith
President, CEO
McKenzie Books, Inc.
Cash4Books.net