Expand Your Mind for Free With MIT’s OpenCourseware

Expand Your Mind for Free With MIT’s OpenCourseware

“The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.” -Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering

Faith in humanity restored. America has finally joined the best universities of the world in the push to make higher education accessible to everyone: for free. Should education be free? Our vote is a resounding “yes”! MIT’s OpenCourseware agrees.

Other countries are offering their citizens free tuition for colleges, and free school available to anyone online. This online web learning has allowed poor, uneducated people living in rural areas the opportunity to receive a free education that could help them provide for themselves. Technology, agriculture, sciences, history, and any field of study is now available to learn online, and finally not just in countries with free education laws.

MIT is one of the most respected institutes of higher education in the world, and has developed their OpenCourseware system to pass on their wealth of knowledge to anyone, anywhere. Why not take advantage of it?

You Can Take Advantage of Free Higher Education and Study with the Best Universities of the World Online

You can study from MIT online with their OpenCourseware, and expand your mind for free. Their mission? “Through [OpenCourseware], educators improve courses and curricula, making their schools more effective; students find additional resources to help them succeed; and independent learners enrich their lives and use the content to tackle some of our world’s most difficult challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, and cancer eradication.”

There you have it, new MIT students. Go learn something new and change the world! When free higher education is available online for everyone, the world only stands to benefit from new innovators. Who knows… you could be the next of MIT’s OpenCourseware students to go on to do something amazing. At the very least, you’ll be expanding your mind for free without paying a dime in tuition. For people who’ve never had the chance to go to college due to the expense, the time, or the distance, this is a free and easy way to try something new and learn from the best.

Not everyone can attend MIT. But now everyone can attend their classes online… for free. Currently, their OpenCourseware includes over 2,260 of MIT’s courses. Turns out you can get a college-level education online and never have to worry about the student debt that’s crippling today’s college and graduate students. Education hack unlocked.

Join Other Students, Self-Learners, and Educators

You can read their stories here: http://ocw.mit.edu/about/ocw-stories/

With online students hailing from every country around the globe, everyone and their mother can get a top-shelf-quality MIT education from their smartphones. Educators are using MIT’s OpenCourseware as a tool to enhance their teaching, and kids in high school are getting a jump start by studying up for free online. Whatever your goal is, MIT’s OpenCourseware can help you get there with their wealth of free online web education material.

To check out their most-visited online courses, you can see a list here: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/most-visited-courses/

When higher education is just a click away, why not expand your mind in your spare time for free? MIT’s OpenCourseware is a great way to start studying with the best universities in the world, without leaving home.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Investment Games

Learn Trading and Have Fun These Seven Fantasy Investing Sites

Most of us aren’t on top of all the investment news or scouring financial websites on a daily basis. We just want to get better at learning the investing basics and manage our money a little better. Now, there’s a more fun way to practice your hand at trading and investing… without actually putting your money on the line. Whether you’re a veteran stock market shark or just wading in the investment kiddie pool with the rest of us, these seven fantasy investing sites and finance apps will sharpen your financial skills while having some fun:

1. Wall Street Survivor

Join a fantasy finance league and start trading virtually. You can read up on real investment news and personal finance articles, and they have a wealth of helpful videos uploaded daily that will help you master the investing basics before you jump in to the stocks game. Take quizzes as you learn, rack up badges and virtual cash, and share your fantasy financial earnings to your friends online.

2. Smart Stocks

Congratulations, you’re a millionaire. Smart Stocks hands you $1 million in virtual cash, and you can invest it as you see fit. Watch it grow, as every five minutes your portfolio percentages are scored against other players, so you can see how you rank. You can even create a group financial league and play with friends, compete against each other or against other groups. Get an office pool going and see how your trading skills stack up.

3. Market Watch

Market Watch lets you make up businesses to trade, which can be really fun. You can play publicly against others or in a group league, or privately if you just want to get some practice on the financial website. This game lets you customize your portfolio and stock trading options for a more unique, fantasy experience.

4. Piggybank Fantasy Stock Exchange

A great financial website for kids to learn investing basics in a super-cute way. It’s supported by the London Stock Exchange, and financially savvy kids will have the opportunity to win badges and prizes for their sparkling stock portfolios. It’s simple enough to teach the basics of investment, but can become advanced enough that it’s a fun challenge.

5. Investopedia Stock Simulator

Investopedia isn’t just the go-to website to learn more about lending. It also has a pretty intense stock simulator. Their investment game is for more experienced financial players looking to get a more realistic education and plan out what they should actually invest in using this financial fishtank. Not kid- or beginner-friendly, but a great resource for the more advanced stock market players.

6. UpDown

Just the UpDown app community and talk shop with other virtual investors online. Compare stats, watch trades, and track your progress over time. They have all the updates on global financial news, and articles to help you hone your investment skills.

7. Stock Wars

Compete with other “market” players on this realistic finance app to make the most money with your fantasy investments. Build up a stock portfolio, watch growing companies, and compete globally with other players. They haven’t released an Android version yet, but Apple users can play the app.

Fantasy Stock Trading… the New Fantasy Football For Savvy Investors

Let your next door neighbor waste his time on his fantasy football league. You can play any of these seven fantasy stock trading games on their (surprisingly fun) financial websites and succeed both virtually and in your IRL finances thanks to the stock market skills you can learn online for free. Happy trading!

Newest Deals August 23rd

Newest Deals August 23

The end of August means the last few days of summer, and retailers are cashing in on the last of their summer stock by offering some great deals for August’s last weeks. Here are the newest deals for August 23.

Outdoor Furniture

As the season comes to an end, a lot of the newest deals for August 23 are going to be in the form of outdoor furniture sales. Look to big box stores and stores that have to stock seasonally, such as Target or Crate and Barrel. Hardware stores like Home Depot will have some outdoor furniture they’re looking to ditch, too. Stores that specialize in outdoor equipment and online retailers aren’t going to have as good of savings – you won’t see reductions there until September or October.

Back to School Savings

Back to school sales won’t be the newest deals for August 23; those things have been going for a couple of months now. Unlike in June and July, though, kids are actually going back to school now, which means this is the last push for retailers to get something out of these deals. Since it’s the end of a pretty major sale season, you might not find the perfect backpack to match your kid’s ever-evolving style, but you can load up on supplies for the office and home at even greater discounts that you would have found when the sale started.

Budget Homeware

Back to school season also brings along the off to college season, when freshmen are piling up shopping carts full of inexpensive home necessities to get them started on dorm décor. You won’t find your 1,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets getting marked down this time of year, but you will find plenty of deals on lower-grade cotton and jersey sheets for twin beds, along with affordable dish sets, storage containers, wall art, and even small appliances. Great for if you’re looking to redecorate a kid’s room, do some selective replacing of older goods around the house, or even get that mini-fridge for the office.

Hotels

Since more people are wrapping up their vacations now than starting them, hotels offer amazing end of summer pricing as some of the newest deals for August 23. Online booking sites such as Orbitz and Hotels.com report savings anywhere between 15% to 50% off this time of year, and many offer coupons on top of that to drop prices even lower. Just don’t expect airfare to come down with them; that won’t come around until the January/February low season.

Grills

Labor day is right around the corner, and retailers get a two-in-one combo of needing to push out the last of the summer items and having a holiday sale. That means ultra-low prices on grills and grilling accessories from in-store retailers such as Lowes, Sears, Home Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart. Just be sure to get yours before Labor Day actually hits.

So get those last bits of summer savings in now with the newest deals for August 23.

Newest Deals June 30th

Newest Deals June 30

June gets us deep into summer, and that means some of the best deals under the sun, if you know what to look for. Start your summer spending off right by tracking down the best deals for June 30, 2014.

Tools and Hardware

It’s past father’s day, and while summer is great time to DIY, a lot people provision that out for the spring. Look for early bird savings on tools today, since local hardware stores are going to try to edge out the July specials from larger chains like Home Depot and Lowes.

Swimsuits

It’s deep into swim season now, and retailers are starting to clear out their summer selections to get things ready for the coming fall lines. Swimsuits are prime summer wear, and stores generally hope that you bought the one you want before the season started. Since they need the shelf space now, swimwear is going to be highly discounted. Just remember that because it’s the end of the season, you won’t have the widest selection.

Dishes and Cookware

Warmer weather brings with it the start of wedding season and retailers know that cookware and dishware will be making the rounds on registries across the country. They encourage a bit of up-spending on these big ticket items by dropping the prices, the idea being that you’ll be willing to spend a bit more if it’s clear you’re getting a better deal. Take advantage and treat yourself to some new cookware while it’s still on sale, since these will start drying up as soon as July rolls around.

Women’s Lingerie and Intimate Wear

The Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale is a ubiquitous June event, and we’re in our last day of it. This widely popular sale doesn’t just mean discounts at one retailer, though. Big brands from Target to Macys all step up their game in June to compete, and on the last day of the month, it’s not hard to find deep discounts on women’s undergarments as retailers clear out the last of the sale items.

Laptop Computers

It may be summer, but retailers are already looking forward to the back-to-school season, and cashing in on college kids outfitting their dorms and desks. The end of June is when you’ll start to see back to school sales popping up online and in store, with low and mid model laptops getting big discounts.

Last Minute Cruise Deals

In the Atlantic, June marks the beginning of Hurricane season. Couple that with the tropical heat and many people opt for more moderate vacations, leaving the cruise industry with cabins to sell. Last minute cruise deals are abundant in June and July, and give you the chance to take a dream vacation for a fraction of the price, if you’re ok taking a small chance with the weather (remember that peak season won’t hit until later in the summer).

So there you have it. You can soak up the sun and the savings with June’s best deals today, and get a whole new bundle of savings when July rolls around tomorrow.

Four Tools to Help You Make the Most of eBay

eBay can be an exciting place to buy merchandise; and it can also offer a great way to make a few dollars by selling off goods that you no longer need.

Over time, eBay has developed a rich set of features that help its customers buy and sell goods. However, a number of third party tools have popped up that can help you make the most of eBay. These tools include:

  • PicClick – an online tool that allows users to browse eBay and Amazon visually. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this tool provides an interesting way of navigating both services.
  • STUFF ALERT – Looking for something specific on eBay, but can’t find it? Stuff Alert provides an online monitoring service that alerts you via email or SMS if an item matching your search criteria pops up.
  • Auction Bloopers – Listings with misspelled keywords typically don’t receive the same amount of traffic or attention as their properly spelled brethren. You can use this tool to ferret out auction listings that you might otherwise miss.
  • Prospector – If you’ve ever watched an eBay auction closely, you’ve probably noticed that most bids occur close to the very end of the auction. Typically called ‘sniping’, this tactic can enable users to nail auctions at great prices. Prospector automates this process; and also can help you search and find auction items.

The Stock Market Is Down, But The Smart Money Is Buying

So far this year, the major indices are all down by over 20%. It’s gotten so bad that a lot of us don’t even open up our retirement statements when they arrive in the mail. So what’s the smart money doing?

They’re buying up beaten down stocks.

Following the old adage of “Buy Low and Sell High”, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has recently taken big stakes in Goldman Sachs (GS) and General Electric (GE); and recently agreed to buy Constellation Energy at a fraction of its recent high of over $100 per share.

And he’s not the only one. Anthony Bolton, described by some as the “British Buffett”, recently purchased shares for the first time in two years because he believes that valuations are among the cheapest he’s seen in years.

Seven Ways to Save on College Textbooks

  • Textbook Rental
    – Instead of purchasing a book that you will use for a semester or two and then selling it back for a fraction of what you paid, Chegg and BookRenter.com provide books on rental-basis. The services claim that you can save 75-80% off of the cost of purchasing textbooks.
  • Look for Paperbook or International Editions
    – Some publishes create paperback and/or international editions that are essentially the same as the hardback version, but are less expensive.
  • Search for the Lowest Price
    – In addition to large book sites like Amazon, Half.com, and Alibris.com; check meta-search sites such as BigWords and CampusI.com. These meta-search engines hit multiple sites simultaneously and can help you quickly identify low-price options.
  • See About Using Earlier Editions
    – Often, the changes between editions are minor. If the textbook you need is unusually expensive or is difficult to find, then ask your professor if it is okay to use a previous edition.
  • Check Your Library
    – Frequently, college libraries keep current copies of textbooks available for short-term loan.  If a textbook is going to be used infrequently, then check with your library to see if it can be reserved when you need it.
  • Check University Forums
    – If your school has online forums or a place where goods can be posted for sale, then check and see if the textbooks you need are available for purchase. By negotiating a private-party sale or trade, you can cut out the middle-man and potentially get a very good deal.
  • Time Your Sales
    – Frequently, you can make the most money by selling your textbooks on your own. If you choose to do so, then you can maximize the number of potential buyers by selling your books when it’s top of mind for them. Therefore, consider selling just prior to the start of the semester.

A Roundup of 17 Tips to Help Save Money and Fuel

With gas prices pushing $4 a gallon, it seems there that are many articles that have been written on how to save fuel and money. I had originally planned not to write on this topic. However, after running across this article on Lifehacker, it struck me that there is potentially advice out there that simply isn’t cost-effective or even correct. So I decided to dig around and came up with a list of solid suggestions from reputable resources.

What follows is a list of 17 money saving tips and two dispelled myths:

  • Don’t drive aggressively – Edmunds tested a number of fuel saving tips and they found that driving less aggressively provided the best savings: an average of 31%. What does this mean? Avoid jack-rabbit starts, anticipate what’s ahead and brake lightly (but safely) and avoid mashing the gas pedal hard. In addition, do not accelerate as you climb hills.
  • Lower your speed – When Edmunds performed their test, they found that when they lowered their speed from 75 to 65, they saved an average of 12 percent.
  • Use cruise control – By using the cruise control, you are letting the car control throttling, which helps prevent aggressive throttling. During Edmund’s test, they noted an average savings of 7%.
  • Avoid excessive idling – When you are idling the engine, you are effectively getting zero miles per gallon. During Edmund’s test, they let the car idle for two minutes during ten stops on a ten mile course and noted a 19% improvement in savings when they shut the car off in lieu of idling. That may be a bit extreme, but if you’re idling for a minute or more, there may be some benefit to shutting the car off.
  • Reduce drag and weight – According to the guys at Car Talk, items that reduce your aerodynamic efficiency, like roof racks, can drop your fuel efficiency by 5 percent. If you’re not using your roof rack, take it off. Also, each additional 100 pounds of weight will reduce your economy by 1 to 2 percent. So, if you’ve got unneeded stuff in your trunk or in the back of your pickup, get rid of it.
  • Don’t use premium gas if it’s not needed – If your car does not require premium fuel, then do not buy it, as premium fuel will provide you with no additional benefit over regular fuel. And according to the guys at Car Talk, they believe that it’s okay to use regular fuel in cars that require premium gasoline, as long as the car has a “knock sensor” that will retard the timing, if needed.
  • Shop for the best price on gas – Before you fuel your vehicle, take a quick look at GasBuddy.com or the Gas Prices page at MSN Autos for the best price on gas in your local area.
  • Buy low rolling resistance tires – The folks over at Consumer Reports recommend using tires that have a low rolling resistance. They typically cost the same, but CR figures that it will save you about $100 per year.
  • Shift up, when possible – Using the highest gear possible for a given speed will save you gas, as the engine turns more slowly at a given speed than if you were to use a lower gear. So, if you have a manual transmission, shift more quickly and work your way up the gears. As long as you have got torque to continue accelerating — and as long as the engine isn’t shuddering or pinging — you will be fine.
  • Air-conditioner versus windows – Edmunds did not notice any difference in performance when using the A/C at highway speeds. Digging into this further, it appears that when you are driving at speeds below 45 MPH, it is best to open the windows and turn the A/C off. At higher speeds, the drag caused by the open windows becomes significant and it is actually better to roll-up the windows and turn the A/C on.
  • Look for alternatives – instead of taking the car, consider other options: public transportation, bicycling, or walking. Doing without your car for a day or two a week can pay off handsomely. And if you bike or walk, think of the exercise you will get.
  • Consider a more efficient vehicle – if you’re in the market for a car, then considering looking at the most fuel efficient models that will meet your needs. Given that the typical American keeps their car at least two to three years, stop and consider what the cost of gas might be a few years from now. A few extra MPG in a new car now may pay off handsomely down the road.
  • Carpool – Like public transportation or walking, this isn’t a radical idea. However, if your commute is long, splitting the cost with someone can provide significant cost savings.
  • Join a Car Co-op – Some cities in the US now have a car co-op that allow users to share a fleet of cars for a monthly fee. And if you drive less than 10k miles per year, it may make sense from a financial perspective. According to a study by the Swiss Office for Energy Affairs, co-op members reduced their driving by more than 70 percent, without feeling impacted about the lack of immediate transportation. Sound interesting? Check out zipcar.
  • Telecommute – If your work situation allows it, ask whether you can work from home a day or more per week. Not only will you save money and fuel, but you can also skip shaving.
  • Have your car serviced regularly – Regular service can identify problems than can reduce the efficiency of your car. Items like sticky brake calipers, low transmission fluid and broken thermostats can reduce your car’s ability to use gas efficiently. In addition, routine service can help rectify issues that may put your safety at risk.
  • Use the correct oil – Many engines in use today are engineered to precise tolerances and are designed to use very lightweight oil. Using thicker oil will cause your engine to expend more energy as it works to push through the oil, reducing gas mileage. In addition, thicker than recommended oil may not lubricate your engine as well. If in doubt, check the owner’s manual for your car.
  • Fuel up early in the morning – Conventional wisdom suggests that you should fuel your car when it is cooler outside, on the theory that cooler gas is more dense and that you’ll get more fuel for your month. However, that’s a myth. Since fuel is typically stored underground, the temperate of the fuel coming out of the pump remains relatively consistent throughout the day.
  • Change your air filter – Again, another myth. Some people believe that when an air filter is clogged, the car will “run rich” and burn more fuel than it should. However, almost all cars on the road today will automatically sense how much oxygen is coming into the engine and will adjust the fuel mixture accordingly.

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