Appy Hour: Money-Saving Tools for Smart College Students

Here are several high-tech tools (and a couple of low-tech ones) that will save you as bundle.

Smart Shopping

Ben Franklin said “A penny saved is a penny earned.” If Mr. Franklin were around today, he would love penny-pinching apps that can add up to big savings.

Are you a gamer? Level up to GameFly, your app for buying and renting video games and getting the latest scoop on new releases. Do you love music? Tune into Jango. Like the basic version of Pandora, Jango is free, seems to have fewer replays of the same songs, and plays a wider variety of musicians.

With more students living in apartments on and off-campus, “Penny Pinching at the Grocery Store” should be a required course. I’m still on the campus meal plan, so I don’t spend much time grocery shopping. However, my apartment-dwelling friends love Checkout 51, Ibotta, and other apps that offer rebates on groceries. You may have to complete a small homework assignment, such as watch a video or take a poll, before you qualify for the rebate.

Delicious App-etizers

Comedian Kevin James says “There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.” Pizza is hands down the most popular food on college campuses. Instead of digging through trash to find pizza coupons, you can find dozens of pizza deals on dealspotr, the web’s only crowdsourced coupon app.

I knew about dealspotr for clothing, electronics, beauty products, and consumer goods like crock-pots and other household essentials. Dealspotr has also become my go-to for a large pepperoni when late-night cravings set in.

So what’s the best money-saving tool for hungry college students? You guessed it. The crock-pot! Before you leave for class in the morning, throw some meat, carrots, potatoes, or other veggies into a crock-pot. Add some seasoning. You’ll have a delicious home cooked meal waiting for you at the end of the day. Dining in saves you about $200 a month, and you’ll probably eat healthier too!

Start Small, Grow Big

At age eleven Warren Buffett started investing money he earned from odd jobs. By age thirty, he had earned $1 million. Obviously, we’re not all going to be billionaires, but saving pennies helps the dollars add up.

Acorns is a painless way to start investing. Every time you buy something, the app allows you to round up to the nearest dollar and invest the spare change into different investment portfolios. After you have $5,000 in your account, Acorns charges a .25% commission, so you may want to move your money at that point. Anything less, the app charges $1 a month. If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to discipline yourself to invest your pocket change, check out Acorns. Years from now, your acorn could be a mighty oak.

Live Smart

Financial literacy is important to me. In high school I taught elementary school kids basic money management. As a Professional Writing major at Southwest Minnesota State University, I hope to help other students live better lives, which includes stretching their hard-earned dollars. 

The Magnificent Seven

“The Magnificent Seven” never quite lives up to the adjective in its title, yet the western delivers a beautifully shot, action-packed experience.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, “The Magnificent Seven” is based on the 1960 movie of the same name, which itself was a re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.”

“The Magnificent Seven” tells the story of seven men who come together to defend a town from a villain who is destroying the livelihood of the townspeople. Along the way, each of the seven gives up his own personal agenda in favor of honorably opposing the bad guys led by Bartholomew Bogue, brilliantly played by Peter Sarsgaard.

Bogue is a worthy villain, despite his lackluster motivation. Sarsgaard does a good job portraying a slimy, evil-to-the-core man who is willing to kill without mercy.

“The Magnificent Seven” offers enjoyable action scenes that are tons of fun to watch. Most of the action uses real stuntmen instead of CGI, which is quite refreshing.

The majority of the action occurs in the last half hour of the movie. Much of the rest of the movie is devoted to gathering the seven and preparing for the big battle with Bogue’s army. This allows for a large amount of buildup, which culminates in a worthy climax.

The movie is also well acted. Denzel Washington, portraying bounty hunter Sam Chisholm, and Chris Pratt, playing card trick-loving gunslinger Josh Faraday, deliver their typical great performances.

The standout actors are Ethan Hawke as the former Confederate sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux, and Vincent D’Onofrio who portrays Jack Horn, a slightly off-kilter mountain man. The rest of the seven, including knife fighter Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), and a Comanche named Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), nail their respective roles.

The main problem with “The Magnificent Seven” is its lack of character development. In both “Seven Samurai” and the original “Magnificent Seven,” there is an underlying theme of regret among each of the characters about their lives as warriors. However, this theme is not deeply explored in the current film. Several of the characters have little or no back story given to them. Those that do don’t receive enough screen time.

Overall, “The Magnificent Seven” is enjoyable. While the story lacks the depth of its predecessors, it hits the mark in delivering an entertaining, western experience full of fun and excitement.

Movie Review