It's almost hard to believe, but this past week I ended my collegiate career. I've learned that it is important to think ahead into the future, since time passes by at a faster rate the older we get. I'm sure I'm not alone as I constantly think of ways to save and earn extra money.

For instance, I always try to get the best deal when it comes time to purchase textbooks each semester. This involves browsing online and stopping by local bookstores, as well as speaking with my friends and fellow peers. In addition to saving money on books, I also try to earn money when it comes time to sell my books back at the end of the semester. Typically, I stop by all of the local bookstores with a pen and paper in hand and record the prices that they are willing to purchase my books for. At the end of this journey, I circle the highest prices and sell my books to these respective locations. Since these stores base their prices off of demand, it is important to sell back textbooks as close to the end of the semester as possible. By "shopping around" I have been able to "earn" up to $100 or more per semester by landing the best deal.

I experienced an anomaly this semester as I made money, since the buyback prices were higher than what I initially spent at the beginning of the semester. While this was a marginal amount of a few dollars, I was still extremely proud, as I've never heard of such a feat. It definitely took some time and effort, but I don't regret making these extra dollars. There are a number of places where money can be kept and some of these will allow you to earn interest without putting in such time and effort.

Below, I've outlined places where money can be kept, as well as some of the associated pros and cons.

  • Piggy Bank. Sure, we've all had some sort of piggy bank at some point. This is a good option because you won't lose money and it is easily accessible. The downside of a piggy bank is that there's no way to earn interest while it's sitting in your bedroom.
  • Checking Account. Consider this a step up from a piggy bank as it's time to move the money out of your bedroom. Like a piggy bank, you will have easy access to your money, however you will be able to write checks and frequent ATMs. The downside is that it you won't earn interest and there's a likelihood of being charged monthly fees, in addition to maintaining a minimum balance.
  • Savings Account. This is very similar to checking account as you can easily access your money and frequent ATMs; but, with a savings account you will be able to earn a small amount of interest. While interest rates will vary by the bank, the nice part is that you won't have to put in time and effort to earn this extra cash.
  • CDs. Certificates of Deposits are another way to invest money by placing it in a "locked" account for a set period of time. This can range from 3 months to 10 years and you can earn somewhat better interest rates than with checking or savings accounts. The con is that this money is locked in for a set period and there are penalties if you withdrawal during this time.
  • Money Market Funds. Money markets funds are one of the safer ways to invest and typically pay a higher interest rate than checking accounts, saving accounts, or CDs. These funds can be accessed worry-free, without incurring any penalties. Disadvantages with these funds are that the rate can fluctuate with time and it isn't a fixed rate.
  • Stocks and Mutual Funds. While all of the previous places listed have been safe locations, stocks and mutual funds are considered high-risk investments. These have the possibility of losing money and also require additional time and effort to ensure the possibility of earning high returns.

These are some of the various ways that I can think of to invest your money. I personally have had experience with my piggy bank, checking accounts, saving accounts, as well as CDs. As I earn a steady income with my future career, I definitely plan on investing in a money market fund and exploring other options. I will put this earned amount to good use, as I am planning for the future and thinking about student loans, car payments, housing arrangements, and other expenses that I will encounter in upcoming months. Hopefully, you will also invest additional funds and save money for years to come. What methods are you using to invest in your future?