Student loan defaults are on the rise, but your continuing education does not always require borrowing big bucks. There are plenty of skills you can learn right now, free of charge.
MainStreet uncovered five free things to learn that won’t impact your limited budget, but will do wonders for keeping your mind busy and happy. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a career change opportunity or at least make some new friends.
1. Learn How to Mix Fancy Cocktails
If everyone’s hosting at home more, you might as well learn how to be the most popular person at the party: the bartender. The American Bartending Association provides a free training DVD that includes tips and recipes. Networking becomes a cinch even if you’re normally a wallflower. Not only are you guaranteed to meet 90 percent everyone at a gathering, your new hobby is a built-in conversation icebreaker, everyone is happy to see you and you’ve got at least two minutes of chit chat while you mix a friend’s drink.
2. Learn How to Become a Tech Geek
Thanks to the computer studs at Google, Facebook, and Apple, math and science nerds remains some of the hottest (read: richest) guys and gals in the room. Learn to talk the Silicon Valley talk with all the free class materials you can get from highly respected Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Visiting the university’s OpenCourseWare section online grants you complete access to lecture notes, videos and exams—nearly all the undergrad and grad course work your gray matter needs to attain high-tech hipness, sans the actual degree. At the end of the day, it’s far cooler quoting M.I.T. professors than catching up on bad reality television.
3. Learn How to Channel your Favorite Music Legend
Most of us hold at least one still-to-be-accomplished rock star-related childhood dream, whether it’s playing the drums, writing song lyrics, or unleashing our inner DJ. ExpertVillage features every possible instructional video you need to re-ignite (or kick start) your passion for musical expression. If bands aren’t your thing, test-drive the site’s many other free how-tos, such as fashion styling, mastering a Rubik’s cube or molding a ceramic toad home. (Tres practical!)
4. Learn How to Meet Navy SEAL Fitness Standards
If you’re looking to shake up your exercise routine, download the exact workout program done by the Navy SEALs. The do-anywhere moves are super simple (a combo of running, push ups, sit ups, etc.) and in nine weeks, you’ll be in fighting shape.
5. Learn How to Craft a Business Plan
Sometimes a little momentum is all you need to re-direct your life situation. With the recession forcing some of us to rethink our careers, why not arm yourself with a solid “Plan B” by planning to start the business you’ve dreamed about? If you’ve been toying with the idea of being your own boss, the Small Business Administration has all the forms, strategies, plans and goal setters you need to get your ideas on paper and ready to be put into motion.
By Stacy Baker for MainStreet