3 Things to Know Before Signing a Contract

3 Things to Know Before Signing a Contract


We’ve all been there before, right? You do something, say something, sign something, only to beat yourself up about it later. That’s regret.
Regret is never a good thing, but it can be further compounded based on its scope. Below I have listed 3 things I wish I would have known before signing my rental contracts. Hopefully you will learn from these apartment renting tips.

1 Internet Connections: Last year I made the false assumption that everyone has high-speed internet and that it is readily available to all tenants. Soon after my wife and I moved into a new little place that seemed absolutely perfect for us, we realized that the Owner (who was Managing her own property) worked at a school and had no need for internet at home. She had never even considered putting internet in her home.
After a grueling week of living off of the 3G from my iPhone, we finally were able to negotiate the terms of an internet plan. Don’t overlook this small detail!

2 Parking Regulations: Now, I don’t necessarily blame many places for how strict their parking regulations can be, but it’s still a really good thing to know beforehand. If you live in or are considering a complex, take into consideration that your parking has been very carefully determined by management. If you are feeling at ease because there are other complexes or plenty of curbside parking, you’d be wise to double check. In many instances, curbside parking is restricted during many parts of the day and other lots have reserved parking that is heavily enforced by a seemingly ruthless and always punctual towing company. It may seem like an afterthought, but parking regulations in your area could have a huge impact on your living experience.

3 Management: Management quite easily turned out to be the most influential factor in my ultimate feelings towards my renting experience. I have had good experiences and bad experiences. For some places, I would have looked elsewhere had I known my experience would end up the way it did.
I was married in early 2009 and my wife and I moved into a basement apartment that was managed by a company just down the road. Things were rough right from the start. For several months, we were not getting our utility bills. I contacted them over and over again to request our balances, and I was ignored. Skipping those payments was nice at the time, but I knew that eventually we would get one large past-due bill. Eventually we got our bill, but we owed a few hundred dollars by that time, and the management so graciously offered to split it into a few payments over the next three months.

One time we accidentally locked ourselves out. We were relieved to know that Management was only a few blocks away, so it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to get them to come over and unlock the door for us. I called them and found out that it would cost more than $30 for them to take the 10 minute total trip to help us out. We found our own way back in.

Talk to Management. Prepare some questions beforehand that will help you get a feel for who they are and how they might respond to your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask them details about how they operate.

So add this to your apartment hunting checklist, and as you take the extra time to find out more about internet connections, parking regulations, and management, you will find that you will feel much more confident in your selection of a new apartment.

Happy Hunting!

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3 Major Tips for You and Your New Roommate

Roommates can be frustratingWith a new semester already in the works, you are probably already experiencing a lot of change. You have new professors, new classes, new homework assignments, and most importantly, new roommates.
Roommates can have a huge impact on your college experience. If you’ve had roommates before, you know that they are all very unique. You never know what a person will be like until after you’ve lived with them for awhile. It can be a little nerve-wracking at first. And let’s be honest, a roommate can be very easy to hate. They leave their stuff all over the apartment, they are probably the ones eating your food, and they keep opening your mail.
Your college experience doesn’t have to revolve around a miserable roommate. There are things you can do to keep yourself from getting too overwhelmed with a roomie who feels like he can trash everything he looks at. These tips and ideas should help you from hating college, hating your roommate, and getting the police called because you have beaten him senseless.

1. Establish Your Expectations

This might be a little awkward, but it’ll save you a headache or two during the semester. Your roommate will respect you for it. Sit down with him and say, “Look bro (cause that’s how we all talk, right?), I’m cool with just about everything, but let me lay down a couple of things that drive me crazy.” Then go ahead and tell him the top two or three things that make you go all sorts of nuts. If your list is 10 or 20 items long, you’re over-thinking it and you should probably relax a bit. Just pick the major things. If you aren’t willing to share anything at all, ever, the dorm life isn’t your scene. Move back in with Ma ‘n Pa.
You have to be willing to give a little if you plan on living with complete strangers. Lay down your law first. That will give him time to respond with his beefs, and you should be set. You might bug him as much as he bugs you.
If you didn’t establish things right up front, there’s still time to do that. It’s not too late. Just tell him you want to talk about a couple things and then address it. If you call him out right after you saw him funnel the rest of your Cap’n Crunch down his gullet, things might get heated and you probably won’t get around to what you wanted to bring up anyway. Take the emotion out of it early so that neither of you has to get defensive.

2. Find Some Common Ground

Say you’re a dedicated student. You are in the library or in class 75% of your week. You are a 4.0 student and you are living relatively comfortable with your fat scholarship. Congrats, you’ve earned it. Now the only thing standing between you and another successful semester is your crazy roommate. He doesn’t do his part around the apartment, so you have to spend less time on your studies and more time cleaning up after him. Of course, you aren’t just going to leave it there. A student like yourself will not be known as the grungy kid who can’t pass cleaning checks. So there you are, being responsible for just about everything. Your roommate seems to be in college only because mommy and daddy are making him go and paying every dime. He drives a spotless, lifted gas-guzzler and you know he never worked a minute to earn it. He dresses like a rodeo clown and leaves his energy drinks everywhere. It’s like with every passing day, you two become more and more driven apart.
So what do you do? Are you going to let this entitled rich kid ruin everything you’ve worked so hard for? No, you’re not. Find something you are both interested in. Maybe you both indulge in the occasional video game. Maybe you play online role-play games and he plays Battlefield. That’s a start. Maybe you both play an instrument. Perhaps even you both enjoy the same type of food or music. Any one of those things is a good starting point. If you can find some common ground, your itch you call a roommate soon becomes a friend who happens to be way different than me, but at least we have this one thing that we both like.

3. Don’t be a Doormat. That’s What Doormats are for.

If you have tried everything you can think of, including and especially the tactics listed above, don’t just throw in the towel. Respect his things and stand your ground. You don’t need to fight about anything, but if he knows he can take advantage of you and your stuff, it won’t make things any better. You will have essentially entered into an abusive relationship. You can’t back down after making a stand, or it’ll just get worse. Maintain your ground about the specific things bothering you. If he doesn’t change, then perhaps it’s time to remove that thing or event that’s causing the problems. If you decide to stand up and stick to your guns, make sure you stay that way. Nothing could be worse than pretending like you never said anything at all.

I’m confident that proper application of the first two points will help you a whole lot. But don’t underestimate the value of point #3. You’ve got to stick to your guns. Take these tips for roommates, stick them in a crockpot, and let them marinate for awhile. Mmmm, peace.

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Starting a Business in College – Part 3

This is Part 3 of a mysteriously-lengthed series about starting a business while in college. Part 1 covers the concept development, Part 2 gets those concepts out on paper, and Part 3 makes it all official. Ready or not, here it comes.

How to Start a Business in College

Get your LLC

This is something you’re going to register for as soon as you’ve decided on a name for your company. Hopefully you were able to do that at the end of Part 2. Check your local government websites for a link to find the right place to purchase and register your LLC. An LLC is a limited liability corporation. When in place, think of it as an umbrella that protects your personal assets in case any legal trouble comes your way. An LLC makes it so that you can only lose what resides under that name and business. So, worst case scenario, you’d just lose your company and everything attached to it were things to go south.
One way to keep yourself safe is to make sure you always have a separate account for your business. Don’t go about mingling your business funds and your personal funds, even if they’re technically both yours. If you need to pay yourself some money, write a company check to yourself so that you have a real record of your financial dealings.
Another thing to remember is to register your LLC for all activities legal in the state in which you plan to do business. You can select a specific business activity, but if you keep it general, you will be covered in everything you do under that company name. Plan to have the occasional situation where you might handle something with your company name that doesn’t necessarily fall under what you have developed as a brand and company. Giving yourself a broad LLC registration gives you freedom to move about all legal activities within your state without being worried about jeopardizing your status.

Open a Business Account at your Bank

Keep your personal funds separate from your business funds. I said it before, but remember to do it. We want all you courageous entrepreneurs to be nice and safe and legal.

Register your Domain

If you’ve decided on a name and purchased your LLC, get a website. You don’t want some other dude stepping on your toes and stealing your domain out from under you. You can check to see if your domain has been taken already. I suggest sticking with a .com domain and only using a .net if you have to. Anything after that is for sure questionable. Nothing says “shady” like a .biz domain.

Select a template/design/color scheme

Congratulations on your recent purchase of a domain! Now you just need to do something with it. I’m going to bring this up a few times during this post, so get used to it: Don’t publish anything for public view until you’ve got some serious content on your page. Nobody wants to follow a testing ground (unless it’s this). They want the meat. Make sure you’ve got some serious meat on your new business sandwich before you go galavanting about with it.

Add/Register Social Media Accounts

Don’t get too excited here. You don’t want to PUBLISH anything yet. Nobody wants to support a page that wants to be cool. You have to be cool first. So hold off. Just get your accounts, your profiles, and your pages. Make sure they’re all pretty. Go to Mashable, TechCrunch, and others to get tips about how you can make your social media awesome. Then all you should do is prepare. You want to look like you’ve been there for months by the time you actually launch for public view.

Begin Uploading/Adding Content

Hey look, I’m talking about it again. Put your content up. Load up your pages with as much media and product as you can. But make sure it looks good. Here are some ideas:

Don’t stray too far from standard navigation. You might be tempted to add some awesome template that only shows products or menu items when the mouse hovers over, but no matter how cool that might look, it’s not very user-friendly. Pick something a little more standard.

Tiled backgrounds are always a bad idea. Always. Have a nice, clean, calm color as your background. It shouldn’t be difficult to read or see what’s on your page. If it is going to be a challenge for the user to read, change it. Even a solid black background can be tough on the eyes, especially if they’ve got a lot of text to read.

Make sure there’s plenty of spacing between objects on your site. Clean is the best. Don’t forget that.

Look at you. You are one step closer to bringing in the bills. Don’t skip these early steps, I know you’re excited. And don’t worry. Next round will be oh so much fun.

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Starting a Business in College – Part 2

starting a business in college has its challenges, but is possible

If you haven’t yet caught part 1 of this series, you can find it

right here.

Starting a Business in College

Today we’re going to move past thoughts and dreams and start getting into action. If you’ve found something you believe is marketable and is also something you could do for the next 30 years or so without going crazy or losing interest, then you are ready to move on. If you haven’t found those things, it might be a little more difficult to move on without them.

Ideas to Start a New Business

Now that you’ve got working ideas to start a business, you’ll need to develop a real concept. If you are serious about becoming an entrepreneur, consider taking a few business, design, and marketing classes. All of those will help you turn your idea into a reality. Apply the concepts you learn to your real idea, not just some hypothetical.

Developing a concept requires a significant amount of work, and a great amount of attention to detail. You need to know your business as though it were your best friend, a living, breathing entity you know everything about. Think about these questions to get you started:

What is your company philosophy?

A concise summary of who you are and why you do what you do will help keep your company grounded, regardless of success or failure.

What are the rules you will never break?

There are aspects of every industry that are never as popular as others, yet some people will do whatever, especially when money is tight. Decide now that you’ll never be the type of company that does “this thing” or “that thing.” This will reinforce and be reinforced by your philosophy.

How far can we stretch?

Do you want to specialize in one specific thing, or do you want to be the all-in-one that can be convenient for many clients? Remember, the more you stretch, the lower your average expertise in each area. For example, if your skill set for what you do equals 100, and you focus on just one thing, you get to input 100 into one thing and therefore get 100% of that out. If you decide you want to do 10 different things, you may spread yourself too thin and only get 10% output because you could only afford a 10% input. For a company started by an already busy college student, I recommend starting as simply as possible. As you grow, you can add more personnel to your staff with the ability to make your 100 turn into 500, 600, and more.

What hardware do I need?

You can’t bake without an oven. You can’t draw without a pencil. You will have to list out the essential things you’ll need to get started. Make sure that you keep your thinking to the beginnings of your company. Start with the bare essentials. Don’t spend more than you have to until the success of your business demands or allows for more investing. If you assume you are going to make a ton of money quickly and buy a bunch of extra hardware, you may have just lost out on a lot of cash.

What software do I need?

If your business doesn’t use a computer, then I might have a hard time believing that it’s a strong enough idea to invest in. Everything is run by some sort of software these days. Figure out what you need and create a list.

What is our name?

This might seem unimportant, but the sooner you decide on a name, the sooner you’ll be able to begin establishing an identity for your company. You’ve got to give your target market something to visually recognize you. A name and a logo will be essential to that. We’ll cover this more in a future post.

How will we market ourselves?

We’ll go over this more in depth in our next post, but think about the benefits of social media on your brand and how you’d like to implement social media into your company’s strategy. You’ll want to be extra careful with print media, because it’s a finite amount of attention. Online efforts are “easier” because you don’t have to worry about physical paper. While there are many other concerns, the biggest concern you will have with print media is that sooner or later you are going to run out of supplies, and then you’re going to have to spend more money to keep it going. If you include print media into your campaign, you’ll want to be extra deliberate in how you distribute it. In order to grasp the importance of this point, think about the companies you see advertised on TV, the internet, and in print media. Which ones do you like, respect, or forget about? Chances are you remember and like the ones who are visually established and well-marketed. You could offer free gold bars to the world, but if you don’t market yourself well, nobody will believe you, like you, or even know you exist. Again, there is so much here. We’ll cover it in its own section soon.

How will we pay for all this stuff?

For now, just start cutting back your personal expenses on things you don’t need. Start saving a small percentage of your income and keep it somewhere safe.

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Starting a Business in College – Part 1

Starting a Business in College is challenging, but possible

Welcome to the first in a series of posts about starting a business in college.

Let me guess: you have tried working several different jobs. You have even tried switching industries to see if that help. For some strange reason, however, nothing seems to make you happy. No matter the job or the experience, what you know for sure is that you hate having a boss. You aren’t just being lazy (which is another big reason people dislike their jobs, and is a completely different matter), because you do have passions. There are things you are willing to work for and things that you love doing all the time.

This isn’t a bad thing. Assuming you’re not just being lazy, what this means is that you aren’t content with being a career conformist. Rather, you dream bigger. So let’s take that dream and turn it into something real.

Decide Your Path

What do you want to do? If you are struggling with this, find something you are naturally good at or could do for hours on end without ever getting tired of it. Somebody once told me “Whatever you do when you have nothing to do, that’s what your future career is.” For example, if I have a passion for filmmaking, so whenever I have a free weekend or any time at all, I’m writing, prepping, and shooting little movies with my friends, then it’s possible that this is a good option for me to pursue.

There are 2 very important things to consider before you finalize your decision:

1. Is there a market for it?

 If you have a passion for something odd or not super popular, you may need to do a little more critical thinking to arrive at exactly what you can do to make your product sellable. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, chances are they won’t know who you are either.

2. Am I any good at it?

 There are a lot of things we romanticize in our minds. We’d like to think that we are naturally gifted in a certain area where we actually are not. You might have one or two of these things on your list of “likes,” and if you think about it enough, you can probably figure out for yourself if it’s a romanticized notion, or something you truly have a knack for. You must find something that you are already good at, or are capable of getting there with some more education and experience. Here’s a hint: If the thought of learning about a particular topic drives you mad, then that’s probably not the career for you. In order to love the job, you must love learning about it as well. It has to be something that can consume you. It isn’t something that takes work to love, but rather takes extra effort to stop doing so you can go be a normal person once in awhile.

Do it for the right reasons

Starting a business requires a significant amount of self-exploration, honesty, and endurance. If you don’t start out on the right foot, you could be working towards a goal that never was realistic to begin with. If it’s something you can market, that’s great. But if you’re going to hate it in six months, where will your motivation come from? And trust me when I say this: money is a fleeting thing. If you are trying to get something going purely because “it will get you rich,” if you hate it, no amount of money will keep you doing it forever. At some point you will realize that being miserable every single day of your life isn’t worth the paycheck. Your bad idea and your reliance on your money will be your new boss, and we all know how much you hate bosses.


Research companies/people/organizations similar to what you want to do. See who is doing what, and who is being successful at it. You won’t be able to copy their models exactly. Starting a business in college is a completely unique world, so you almost always have to carve your own path.

Keep a notepad with you and write down the concepts that you like and any inspiration that comes to you about your own company.

Start building a concept of exactly what you want your company to be in every regard. Be as specific as you can be, but be open to change. Remember, this is your ball of clay, and you get to shape it and re-shape it to your heart’s content.

Jot down some notes about others and about yourself. Think about it all the time.

Finally, believe you can do it. You will be your biggest enemy during this process. If you begin to blame circumstance, status, or other people for your failures, then none of them will be what propels you to success. Edison made a few bad bulbs before he got electricity just right, so don’t worry. Be persistant and don’t let your friends or family or anyone tell you it’s not possible. It’s only not possible if you keep yourself from believing you are smart enough to do it.

Part 2 of the series is now up! If you want to talk about it, leave a comment below or do the whole Facebook and Twitter thing with the +Share button. If you’re looking for an apartment, try our speedy new site.