Monday, September 20, 2010

The Currency Exchange

An American dollar is always an American dollar, but an American tax is not always an American tax and an American price is not always an American price.

Well, alright, that sentence makes no sense (cents?), but you get the general idea.

Although staying within the country means that you don't have to deal with the comparative value of the dollar, there are still a few things to watch out for. The first is taxes: sales taxes vary (a lot!) in different states. In fact, some states don't even have sales taxes (Alaska, here I come!). Be sure to keep an eye on this when budgeting; it may be small, but it adds up.

Likewise, though less likely to influence the irresponsible college student, income tax rates also vary. But that of course implies we have income!

(No but really, watch out you part-time jobbers).

Lots of news stories will about the cost of living changing from state to state--pay attention to them. You may think, "oh, I'm just living in the dorms, it won't matter." A few things to consider on that note: first of all, you may not always be living in the dorms. Oftentimes going into an apartment will be cheaper (and generally less hassle), and so the local rent rates will be relevant to you.

Sidenote: I'm not advocating either dorms or apartments! That's completely dependent on your university, their housing, and whether or not you can find a good set of landlords/roommates. Though I will advise you to find roommates who clean when they're procrastinating.

Cost of living also affects the cost of food and of gas. Obviously, urban areas are going to be more expensive in general than more rural ones, and prices in general do vary from state to state. Places that produce their own oil (like Oklahoma and Texas) are going to have cheaper gas than places that have to pay through the nose to just get it to the area. Do a little research when you're preparing to move so that you and your bank account aren't too surprised.

And so that this:
doesn't become this:

More so than the tuition monster will already make it.

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