No matter how good you are at scoring deals and saving dimes, saving is only part of the equation. If you want to improve your financial situation, you will have to find ways to earn more money.

When you consider that the average American with a professional degree earned $1,151 more every week than the average American without a high school diploma according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's obvious that learning new skills is a good way to up your income.

But with the price-tag of college tuition running anywhere from $15,022 for public institutions to $39,173 at private nonprofit (?) institutions, making yourself more valuable comes at a price that you might not be able to afford. (National Center for Education Statistics - tuition costs of colleges and universities).

If you don't have that kind of money to invest, you might be tempted to settle for working long hours for peanuts. Don't. Necessity is the mother of invention, and there are ways to get further education without getting into debt or scraping by on bread and water.

We at GET.com have put together our 3 favorite tools for low-cost self improvement.

  1. Get Smarter With MOOCs

    A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a University course that you can study online at no cost. Many universities and colleges in the US now offer MOOCs, and a quick search is all it takes to find a large number of them. These courses teach you the same thing you would learn in equivalent college courses, but normally offer just part of the degree program.

    You don't graduate and get a degree, but many MOOC providers do offer a certificate of completion. Although these certificates don't carry the same weight as a college degree when job-hunting, they do show that you have the knowledge and are willing to work to learn new skills.

    Showing that you are confident in your knowledge of a subject is key to impressing a potential employer. The way that the MOOC movement is progressing, we may soon see actual degree courses being offered openly.

  2. Credit Card Rewards To Finance Education

    Most of us don't have a lot of money left over each month to tuck away for further education. This creates a negative cycle, because without improving our skills set it's difficult to earn more money.

    Earning rewards that you can use towards paying for education, just by spending the money that you already spend, makes it possible to break that cycle and get ahead. Cash back credit cards are a good tool for this.

    Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least likeCredit RequiredRelated links
    Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

    Chase Freedom®

    APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
    • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it's automatic
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
    • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
    • No annual fee
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
    • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
    APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

    0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

    16.49% - 25.24% Variable

    $0

    Why we like it
    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic.
    Excellent/Good

    Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least likeCredit RequiredRelated links
    Bank of America<sup>®</sup> Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

    Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

    APPLY NOWAt Bank of America's secure website
    • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
    • No annual fee
    • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
    • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
    • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
    • No expiration on rewards
    • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
    APPLY NOWAt Bank of America's secure website

    0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

    15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

    $0

    Why we like it
    • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
    We least like
    • 3% foreign transaction fee.
    Excellent/Good

    Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least likeCredit RequiredRelated links
    Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

    Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

    APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website
    • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
    • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
    • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% - 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
    • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
    • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
    • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.49% - 25.49% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
    APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website

    0% intro APR for 18 months on Balance Transfers

    15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

    $0

    Why we like it
    • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
    • Introductory APR offer.
    Excellent, Good

    As an example, let's say that you're able to save an average of 2% of your monthly spending with a cash back credit card. This may not seem like a lot to you. But if you take the average annual US household expenditure of $51,100 (BLS statistic) as a guideline, you could tuck away $1,022 a year just by getting 2% cash back. Add the interest you could earn by letting that money sit in an interest-earning savings account, and it becomes easier to see how a no annual fee credit card can be a no-cost savings gizmo that can help you pay for regular courses or even pay for part of a college education.

  3. Study In Germany

    If you're the more adventurous type and enjoy travel, read this! For most of us it's pretty difficult to imagine that people in some countries enjoy free college education. But what's really mind blowing is that there are countries that let international students in on the tuition fees holiday.

    Germany is the best example, mostly because degrees from German universities and colleges carry plenty of weight back home in the US. Whether it's a hangover from East German communism or just old-fashioned philanthropy, German universities offer foreign students the same free tuition that German students enjoy. And to top it off, most of the courses are taught in English.

    If you want to do some serious time on German tax-payers' dime, and don't mind spending a few years outside the US to reach your educational goals, then now is a good time to apply for that German degree program (you never know how long the party will last). There isn't much point burying yourself in mountains of student debt when you can get that degree for free.

Here are some of our best rated cash back credit cards to help you save money.

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least likeCredit RequiredRelated links
Bank of America<sup>®</sup> Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card - $200 Cash Rewards Offer

APPLY NOWAt Bank of America's secure website
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
APPLY NOWAt Bank of America's secure website

0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

$0

Why we like it
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
We least like
  • 3% foreign transaction fee.
Excellent/Good
Capital One<sup>®</sup> Savor<sup>®</sup> Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that

N/A

15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Excellent, Good
Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

Chase Freedom®

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic.
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa<sup>®</sup> card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

APPLY NOWAt Wells Fargo's secure website
  • Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
APPLY NOWAt Wells Fargo's secure website

0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

15.49%-27.49% (Variable)

$0

Excellent/Good
Blue Cash Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • New 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • New 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Over 3 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017 and 2018.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.49% to 25.49%
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months

14.49%-25.49% Variable

$95

Excellent, Good
Chase Freedom Unlimited<sup>®</sup>

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Excellent/Good