Monday, May 23, 2016

Nine Habits from College that will Suck the Life out of your Wallet

You made it! You're in college, living on your own in the dorms or sharing a space with your best friends. Things couldn't be better until reality hits.

In The 9 Habits You Develop In College That Will Haunt Your Wallet, Maggie McGrath at Forbes talks about some real money drains, in other words how to just flush money directly down the toilet, especially if you rely on credit cards.

First off, the article doesn't mention a couple things: 1) set a budget and stick to it, and 2) use CASH whenever possible. Relying on plastic just makes it too easy to do the following nine BAD habits:

1. Eating in the dining hall for every meal. Well, this should read "Eating in the dining hall for every meal AFTER your meal plan has run out." Granted there isn't a gigantic kitchen in the dorms, but, heck, Top Ramen was invented for college students, wasn't it? If you have a freezer, get stuff you can nuke.

2. Late-night bingeing. Studying at 2:00 a.m.? Need some brain food? Avoid those late night binges for pizza, or whatever. Again, keep some food in your place. Think of having a case of, yes, you guessed it, Top Ramen.

3. Stretching deadlines. Even though your professor may extend your deadlines, the credit card company won't and those late fees add up fast.

4. Procrastinating - and then cramming. We're not talking about papers and exams here. If you know you are going to fly home after finals week, buy the ticket at the beginning of the semester...it is sooooo much cheaper; up to two and three times as cheap.

5. Over-sharing. Who needs to know what you ate for breakfast? Quit sharing all your info on social media. In fact, 1 out of 5 identity theft complaints comes from college students. Identity theft can keep you from a job, a home, a car, or any kind of credit.

6. Relying on a magical money tree. Their name is usually mom and dad. Often college students are not responsible or even a part of their own finances. Now, that's a scary thought. Let me ask you this: have you ever done your own tax return? The real world is coming and you should be thinking about helping out your mom and dad pretty soon.

7. Making one-time exceptions. Oh, the thrill of the European spring break, the concert to end all concerts, the year-end party. Just say no, you can't afford it. Who wants to pay for that concert for the next five years?

8. Mixing up the pennies and the pounds. Since college students don't have a lot of money they tend to be frugal on the 50 inch flat screen tv (just say no, your roommates will destroy it anyway) and overspend on the small things. Seriously, do you really need a $4.00 cup of coffee from Starbucks every day? Get an electric kettle.

9. Not looking at the big picture and/or factoring in little costs. Living in a dorm? You don't know how lucky you are. No cable, PG&E, water, garbage - or it was all factored in to your dorm cost, but once you leave school you have to pay for all those incidentals and they add up. Your rent is only a small portion of the monthly bills adults have to pay.

What are you guilty of? What suggestions could you give college students to avoid acquiring these nasty financial habits?

Welcome to 1984!

FindFace is a facial recognition app developed by two Russians that boasts a 70 percent reliability rate.

Why is such an app necessary?

According to the creators using social media proiles it can help find missing people, your friends, or men or women that look like actors. In the case of the ersatz-famous you can send them a friend request and ask for a date. Talk about harassment?!
"It works by comparing photographs to profile pictures on Vkontakte, a social network popular in Russia and the former Soviet Union, with more than 200 million accounts. In the future, the designers imagine a world where people walking past you on the street could find your social network profile by sneaking a photograph of you, and shops, advertisers and the police could pick your face out of crowds and track you down via social networks.
          In the short time since the launch, Findface has amassed 500,000 users and processed nearly 3m searches."
Harassment is exactly what has been reported by The Guardian. It has become a problem in Russia with trolls sending threatening messages to sex workers outing them to their families and stalking them online. But that's just sex workers, you say?

Think about it: “Three million searches in a database of nearly 1 billion photographs: that’s hundreds of trillions of comparisons, and all on four normal servers. With this algorithm, you can search through a billion photographs in less than a second from a normal computer,” said one of the creators during an interview at the company’s modest central Moscow office."

But don't worry, this app can also be used for shopping (apparently the only requirement, besides pubic safety, to make any app legitimate). A store camera takes a picture of you looking at those Jimmy Choos and suddenly you get bombarded with shoe ads. How convenient.

Some Russians are concerned with how popular this app has become in a country not known for its privacy laws. Currently, FindFace cannot access Facebook's image database, but that's just because they haven't figured out how to ... yet.

Maybe the bigger concern in an age when everyone has chucked their privacy in support of  some form of social media, FindFace seems inevitable. Wanna date an actor, upload your favorite celebrity's photo and you'll get a dozen suggestions based on looks alone. How about uploading sneaky photos because you think you have spotted a criminal? Doesn't that guy at the next table look like an armed robber or that woman at the counter a purse snatcher?

What do you think about being monitored in EVERY public space?