Grad School Series: Letters of Recommendation

18 Oct

As part of the application process, you’ll need to submit letters of recommendation. You can help your recommendation letter providers write effective and timely letters by following the guidelines below:

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  • Choose recommendation providers who can attest to your potential as a graduate student. Ask if they would be willing to write you a good recommendation letter.
  • Coach your recommendation providers. Try to select recommendation providers who can talk about various aspects of your potential and suggest to them what they could highlight. For example, a research advisor could talk about specific research skills while a professor could talk about your academic potential. This prevents you from having three generic recommendation letters. Most recommendation providers appreciate knowing what they should discuss in their letters.
  • Read any requirements for an acceptable recommendation provider. Most graduate programs expect at least two of your letters to come from faculty.
  • Make the process as easy as possible. Provide your recommendation providers with:
    • a copy of your resume or curriculum vitae
    • a file that lists all of the institutions, program names, contact information, and application deadlines to which you are applying
    • a list of details they will need to answer specific questions about you
    • a friendly reminder of approaching deadlines

Remember to send a thank you note to all of your recommendation letter providers!

Good luck!

It’s Almost Halloween

18 Oct

The air is starting to crisp up with that familiar combination of cool air and pumpkin spice everything. Halloween, possibly the best holiday as a college student, isn’t far away. There’s a lot of different directions you can take your costume for the spookiest of all holidays: some opt to just shell out for a pre-made costume from a store or online, other will get crafty and make matching costumes with their squad, and then there’s some people who simply throw on a flannel and claim they are a lumberjack.

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Depending on which direction you decide to go, you can balance having an awesome costume and not blowing your candy cash on something you’re going to wear once.

If you opt to go the route of buying a costume from a store, there’s a few ways to make it work in your favor. One is that the costumes are going to be reusable, so when Breakfast Club or future Halloweens come along you can just toss that on again and not have to worry about it. Bonus points if you find something you can add a few different accessories on to and make it a whole new costume! This option will cost the most at first but if you commit to reusing it then you’re at least able to try and get your money’s worth out of it.

If you’re the DIY or crafty type, there’s a whole world of possibilities out there. Some people can make the shower loofah for a whole group or one of a ton of other possibilities. If you’ve got the time and are willing to put in effort, then jumping on Pinterest or one of a million Buzzfeed lists will score you some pretty great ideas to start on.

Thrift stores can be your best friend come Halloween time. It’s tough to know what you’ll actually find there but with any imagination you can see how a leather jacket turns into a biker outfit, some Adidas gear can make you look very Russian, or even a cheap suit for something business-ey. While going in looking for one specific thing might not work out, looking at the racks and coming up with ideas on the fly can yield some pretty great results.

For those who are putting something together last-minute or with the absolute minimum level of effort, you’re probably going to be using what’s immediately available to you. Got some plain sheets? Boom, one YouTube video on toga tying and you’re set. Flannel and jeans? You can be one of many lumberjacks who forgot how soon Halloween comes up. Red bandanna and a yellow shirt becomes Hulk Hogan real quick. Got the same yellow shirt plus some overalls? You’re one set of circular glasses from being a minion.

Some of the best ones in this category are shockingly low-effort puns like a chicken cord-on-bluelife giving lemons, or even a blessing in disguise. This is only limited by your ability to make anyone understand it in one sentence.

A few tips for anyone, regardless of which costume style you opt for:

  • Make sure it’s reasonably comfortable: squirming all night because you’ve got a set of wings on your back that’s 20 pounds isn’t going to be fun for you or anyone around you.
  • Commit to the bit: No one is going to look at you and give you extra points because you didn’t try very hard (unless it’s a killer pun). So if you’re dressing up, try to make it perfect! Make your whole costume work together. Hair and make-up (even for guys when it helps the costume) can turn a costume from just a t-shirt into the real deal.
  • Be careful with your skin: As someone who once painted half their body for a costume, I implore you to be careful about anything that’s either applied or adhered to your skin. Tape and adhesives can leave annoying rashes as well as the pain from having to remove it. Anything that can’t be removed easily with some make-up remover might be better off avoided.

 

6 Student-Suggested Classes to Fill Your Schedule

12 Oct

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It’s that time of the year. Your advisors are sending you emails (and then reminder emails) to stop in and have your advising appointment with them. While there are going to be some very specific classes to take, there are other areas where you have some options to fill a requirement for generals or for your college’s core curriculum. Rather than slogging through a semester with courses that aren’t specific to your major and you don’t enjoy, you might as well see what other students suggest right?

While we’ve written about options for class schedule fillers a couple of times before, it’s a question that comes up often. Plus the best suggestions might not fit in your schedule around the classes you absolutely have to take that semester, so having a few options ready only helps.

So here’s 6 suggestions from fellow students on the best classes to take:

EAPS 106 – Geosciences in Cinema:

Learn about some of the most interesting things that nature has to throw at you like tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquakes and then watch movies about them. As a plus, this may count as your lab science!

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PSY 200 – Introduction to Cognitive Psychology:

A course suggestions that came up several times, Cognitive Psych comes in as a course that’s entertaining and engaging even to non-Psych majors. The lectures were said to be entertaining and that there were several fun guest speakers as well.

PHIL 110 – Introduction to Philosophy:

While this was noted to not be the easiest course available, the student who suggested this course said it was an incredibly engaging course both with the material and the other students. Great for those with a previous foundation in logical reasoning.

SOC 100 – Introduction to Sociology:

In addition to positive reviews overall, this course was mentioned as being one that is still good even when it’s delivered online. That’s a major plus if you’re looking at adding it on to a schedule that’s irregular with labs overlapping normal times or you’re taking it by itself in the summer or Maymester.

FS 591/ HORT 590 – Commercial Grape & Wine Production:

Whether you took the wine appreciation class (FS 470) or just want to go a step further, FS 591 explores both grape growing and wine production with an emphasis on the varieties that thrive in the Midwest. The real fun here is that you get the opportunity to grow your own grapes, smash and ferment them, then finally taste a wine that’s completely of your own making. It’s hard to beat putting theory to practice in such a fun way.

EAPS 301 – OIL!:

The course has a mixture of homework, quizzes and tests but the real quality is that the professor is incredibly passionate about the subject and is helpful in making sure the students understand the subject. Not much more you can ask for in a general course!

MET 349 – Stringed Instrument Design and Manufacture:

One of the more interesting courses available is MET 349 that has a central task of designing and then building an electric guitar. You’ll work on the project throughout the semester and have a finished guitar at the end as long as you do everything properly.

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Grad School Series: Statement of Purpose

11 Oct

Because your Statement of Purpose is an important part of your graduate school application, you will want to make sure it is well written. If you haven’t completed your Statement of Purpose yet, the following exercise will help you customize your Statement of Purpose by highlighting your relevant experience and focusing on why you wish to pursue a graduate degree.

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Now is the perfect time to finish your first draft of your Statement of Purpose and bring it in for review at your college’s career office to get it prepared for submitting!

Please note that these are general guidelines applicable to most programs. You should always follow the specific instructions of the department you are applying to.

  1. First, list 2-3 qualities unique to your program of interest. Identify interdisciplinary opportunities and areas of specialization. What are the available academic, research and training facilities that will assist you in pursuing your degree?
  2. Next, name the faculty that interest you and briefly identify their research projects.
  3. Then, in 3-4 sentences, describe your research interests. Follow this by explaining how your professional goals can be achieved by pursuing your research interests in your program of choice.
  4. Mention the unique qualities and faculty members you identified in steps 1 and 2; show how they coincide with your interests.

    Enhance your statement by considering the following:

    • Have you had experience outside the classroom? If so, describe it in detail. Be sure to mention how it will help you in graduate school.
    • Do you have any challenges that you would like to explain to the Admissions Committee (e.g., poor grades in a given semester, a low standardized test score, etc.)? Don’t dwell on anything negative, but sum up the situation in a sentence or two and explain what you learned from it. Show how you have since improved or realized success.
    • Showcase your abilities. As a graduate student, what will you be able to contribute to your graduate program? Give evidence of your strong work ethic, mention jobs held or organizations supported while earning a high GPA. Give concrete examples. Be illustrative.
    • If providing a resume or curriculum vitae (CV), don’t hesitate to reference it, but do not restate all of its contents in your statement of purpose. For example you could say

      “As you’ll note in my enclosed CV, I have received several academic honors, which include the Young Investigator award at Institution X. Receiving this award was a shining moment for me as it served as recognition for long nights in the lab researching tomato viral stains.”

      After this sentence you should describe your research. Remember that you’re telling a story, not simply listing a multitude of facts.

Some additional quick tips:

  • Pay very close attention to the directions as they vary across institutions and programs.
  • Be unique. Talk about interesting and relevant experience. One way to do this is to talk about a subject in your field about which you are passionate.
  • Write with skill. The Statement of Purpose may be the only writing sample you provide, so editing and organization are imperative. Be sure that you proofread your statement and have others, such as professors, teaching assistants, advisors, and peers read it. Ask for constructive feedback as well.
  • Be clear and specific. Instead of providing broad generalizations such as “my research internship provided valuable experience,” write, “By transcribing interview protocols and coding the data, I gained a deeper understanding of how teenage mothers make attributions.”
  • Give yourself enough time to write the Statement of Purpose, to get feedback from a variety of people, and to make the necessary revisions.
  • Be yourself; avoid using too much jargon and too many big words that aren’t a part of your day-to-day vocabulary.

While writing the Statement of Purpose can be a daunting task, engaging in this exercise can help you identify the most important elements you will want to include. Please note, however, that this exercise is based off of general guidelines. Your program may request additional information or recommend an alternative exercise to writing your Statement of Purpose. You should always defer to the instructions provided by your prospective program.

For instructions on writing your Statement of Purpose for Purdue University, visit the Admission Web page. Good luck!

Grad School Series: Staying Organized

4 Oct

Different requirements, different deadlines, and different procedures make applying to a variety of graduate programs challenging. Staying on top of everything is crucial to making sure you don’t miss anything important.Staying Organized Grad Schl.jpg

The Purdue University Graduate School is happy to share a few tips for organizing your application materials.

Create a separate file for each institution to which you apply. In that file, keep:

  • a checklist of the application requirements and contact information for both your program of interest and the graduate school. For many institutions, you may have to provide information to both offices.
  • a copy of your final application, along with the confirmation message you receive after successfully submitting your application.
  • a copy of your statement of purpose, along with other supplemental writing or work samples you submit.
  • copies of requests to have your transcripts and standardized test scores submitted to each institution.
  • a record of anyone you contact by email or phone and what you talked about.

Be sure to verify that everything has arrived to the places where you are applying before the application deadline.

For more information on how to apply to the Purdue University Graduate School, check out the Admissions Web page. Best of luck during the application process and beyond.

Repayment for May Grads Begins in November

3 Oct

All information on repayment plans is from this article by David Evans, Ph. D.
Additional info added by Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

Most student loans begin repayment six months after the student leaves school. With November coming up quickly, now is the perfect time to review your repayment options and set up your payment plan before the first payment comes due!

There are two main types of repayment plans you can choose from: traditional and income-driven. For borrowers that will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven plans may be the better option. Income-driven plans will require an annual verification of income. This fact sheet describes each of the repayment plans as well as pros and cons of each. For more information about each of the repayment plans visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Traditional Plansstudent-loan-repayment-plans

Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Repayment plan consist of equal monthly payments over a 10-year period of time. This repayment plan is good for those who can handle making their monthly payments and make enough money to afford them. This payment plan is best for those who have minimal other debts and start working right out of school.

The Pros: You’ll pay off your loan faster compared to other plans, and pay less interest as a result.

The Cons: Your monthly payments will be higher than those made through other plans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated and Extended Repayment plans could be an option for you if your income is low when you graduate but will increase quickly. Under a graduated plan, payments start out low and increase during the repayment period, usually every two years. This is a good plan if you can’t afford your current payments but know you will make more money in the years to come.

The Pros: Your loan is still paid off within 10 years.

The Cons: You’ll pay more interest over the lifetime of your loan compared to the Standard Plan.

Extended Repayment Plan

An Extended Repayment Plan is an option if your loan amount is more than $30,000 and you want to stretch your repayment to 25 years.

The Pros: Smaller monthly payments (since they’re spread out over as many as 25 years) and more time to pay off your loan.

The Cons: You’ll be saddled with payments for a longer period of time as well as pay more interest.

Income-Driven Plans

If you qualify for an Income-Driven plan, these are often the most attractive options if you’re willing to recertify your payment each year (it’s not very difficult). However, some of these are contingent on when you took out loans! If you’re interested in student loan forgiveness*, you’ll need to be enrolled in any one of these plans.

Income Based Repayment Plan

If you’re not making enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan would be a good option. There are two separate calculations for IBR which are dependent upon when you took out your student loans.

The Pros: The IBR plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income** if you were a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Otherwise it will be 15%. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF (this is true for all loan forgiveness).

Income Contingent Repayment Plan

If you have a federal Direct Loan (other than a PLUS loan), you could opt for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan. Your payments could be as low $5 or even $0.

The Pros: Your monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years. You can have your remaining loan balance forgiven after 25 years of regular payments.

The Cons: You’ll pay more over the lifetime of your loan than you would with a 10-year plan, your payment could be lower than the monthly accrued interest and your loan principal will grow. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan

The Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan is only available for those with Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Payments are based on your annual income, family size, and total loan amount. You would pay the loan off in fifteen years.

The Pros: Each lender has their own calculation, but generally it is between 4% and 25% of your monthly gross income, although your payment must be greater than or equal to the interest that accrues.

The Cons: It’s only available for up to five years. After that time, you must switch to another repayment plan. You must reapply annually, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have continued enrollment in the plan.

Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Pay as You Earn Repayment (PAYE) Plan is another option for those not able to afford their current monthly payments.

The Pros: The PAYE plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 years.

The Cons: PAYE is only eligible to those who were new borrowers on or after October 1, 2007 and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment (REPAYE) Plan is very similar to PAYE. This plan was created to allow more borrowers the opportunity to have their payments lowered to 10% of discretionary income.

The Pros: Not dependent upon when you took out your student loan, the payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: If you are married, your spouse’s income will be considered whether taxes are filed jointly or separately. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Summary

Federal student loans offer various ways for repayment. If you are in a situation (like so many others who have taken out student loans) that is not ideal for standard repayment of your loan, consider these options. There is a lot to consider when you are trying to decide which repayment plan to choose. Using the Federal Student Loan Repayment Estimator can help you make your decision by showing you what your payments would be under each of the plans described above.

*A note about loan forgiveness: There are two different kinds of loan forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and loan forgiveness from your income-driven repayment plan ending. While both plans require you to be enrolled in an income-driven plan to reap the benefits there are some key differences:
-PSLF requires being employed at a qualifying employer in public service (non-profits, government, etc.) for 10 years/ 120 qualifying payments before forgiveness takes place. Standard forgiveness is after 20 or 25 years depending on your repayment plan.

-Any loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are tax-free, but not under standard forgiveness! So if you still have a balance on your loans after 20 (or 25) years, you will owe taxes on it as if it is income. While it’s still better than paying the amount back, it’s important to know it will have ramifications.

**Discretionary income = Your income – 150% of the poverty level in your state for your family size

Someone Made Unauthorized Charges on My Debit Card

28 Sep

A couple days ago, my wife woke up to an unwelcome surprise: text message alerts from our bank that her debit card was being used to buy prepaid phone cards through several different retailers. As you can imagine, this wasn’t exactly what you want to wake up to at 6:00 in the morning.Unauthorized Debit Charges.png

We watched in anger as we realized it wasn’t just one mistaken purchase and every few minutes a new purchase came through for a higher sum, starting out at $150 and going up to $350.

Immediately after seeing the second purchase we called phone number on the back of our card to report a lost or stolen card. The process was quick and we knew that the card’s information was no longer valid for purchases once completed. However, the culprit kept on trying and we started getting rejected transaction texts for the additional attempts.

While we had stopped any new transactions less than 30 minutes from the first purchase, the thieves had already made over $1,200 in purchases from our checking account. We had stopped them from taking more, but what could we do to get our money back?

Thankfully, due to my experience writing articles about financial literacy I had some ideas about what we could do next.

First things first, we looked up the non-emergency number for our local police and gave them a call to report the issue. Within a few minutes, an officer was at our house and was given a report of everything we knew so far about our information being stolen and the fraudulent charges.

The officer recommended that we contact all of our banks and share the case number with them as well as to keep a very close watch on our accounts. Even though we had to go to work right after this, we still had plenty more to do.

Once our bank opened, we immediately contacted them to make them aware of the fraudulent charges. Two of the purchases had already been stopped thanks to us cancelling the debit card, however there was a third charge for over $300 with a prepaid cell phone company that didn’t get immediately reversed. They recommended we try giving their customer service a phone call and if they wouldn’t return the funds then we would file a dispute through our bank.

Needless to say the customer service at the cell phone company wasn’t very understanding of our situation and didn’t quite grasp that we did not have an account with them. After getting it escalated to a manager, they said there was nothing they could do on their end. Because of this we filed the dispute form with our bank the next day and are waiting for the charges to get overturned.

Since we didn’t know where the thief had gotten our information we were worried that simply cancelling our card and getting a new one might not be enough to protect ourselves.

In the event they also had additional information that could be used to take credit out in our names, we decided that we should take steps to protect ourselves from that. We both registered for a temporary fraud alert with one of the credit reporting agencies as well as placing a security freeze on our accounts.

The temporary fraud alert places a notice on our credit reports for anyone that does a credit check to be aware that they should be sure to confirm information with us for the next 90 days. A side bonus is that it also removes our names and addresses for two years from those annoying pre-screened credit card mailing lists.

The real security measure added was the security freeze. If anyone wishes to take out new credit in our names, they have to provide a PIN number that only we know to allow this to happen. We can also lift the security freeze temporarily or permanently through the credit reporting agencies.

Thankfully as residents of Indiana both of these options were completely free to us, regardless of whether we were already a victim of identity theft or not. However, this varies from state to state and it may cost you a small amount ($5-10) to add or lift the security freeze.

Unfortunately we don’t know, and probably never will, where someone got our debit card information. However we were saved by the fact that we receive texts every time that our card is used. If your bank has an option like this I would highly recommend you take them up on it. We check our account online pretty often, but if we had waited even a few hours to check it we would have been out of luck as the thief had been on pace to drain everything within the day.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, be sure to act fast. With a debit card your ability to recover funds depends on how quickly you report it missing/ stolen. If you report it in under 4 hours from the purchase you should be responsible for $50 or less. However, after that could be $500 if you report before 60 days. If you don’t notice it until after that, you mightn’t be able to get anything back.

I’m not crazy about potentially losing $50 due to a thief, but it’s a far cry better than the thousands they would have stolen had we not been alert to our accounts. Now that the initial surprise and then anger of the situation is over and we’ve stopped the thief, there’s not much we can do except wait for the bank to work our dispute with the company, and be careful with our cards to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

What is Graduate School & Is It Right For Me?

27 Sep

What is graduate school?

Deciding to pursue a graduate education is not a decision to make lightly. Graduate school is a very focused occupation, so it is important to have a clear idea of what you want to study.Grad School Right.png

While an undergraduate education allows you to explore a variety of areas, graduate school dives into the details of a specific topic. You may work closely with one major professor and additional faculty members to design your course of study, particularly if you pursue a PhD.

You may become part of a lab group or research team, and work closely with other students on that team. Often, these students work on similar, but not identical, topics as you.

How do I determine if a graduate school is right for me?

Graduate school requires a lot of commitment, both from you and the people with whom you will be working. Your major professor will invest a great deal of time, energy, and training to help you succeed. Determining the major professor you want to work with is one of the most important decisions you can make.

While the reputation of the school you are considering is important, even more important is the reputation of the program and the professor with whom you want to work. As a full-time student, you will generally commit two years working toward a master’s degree and an additional three to four years working toward a PhD.

You may not necessarily have scheduled school breaks (such as winter, spring, summer, and fall breaks) as vacation. Understanding this ahead of time will prevent some unexpected frustration.

Approach the graduate school process with the same attitude you would approach a job because ultimately, that’s exactly what it is.

When researching various graduate programs, important questions to consider are:

  • Are you going to enjoy working here? Are the people and environment going to encourage and support your best efforts?
  • What are the course offerings and how are they scheduled (i.e., day or night classes)?
  • How many graduate students has your potential major professor had?
  • What is the average length of time it has taken for one of this professor’s students to graduate?
  • What have been the professor’s current students’ experiences and how long have they worked with this professor? How long do they anticipate their degree completion to take? (Talk to the students directly.)
  • What are the expectations and management style of your potential major professor? When does s(he) expect you in the office? Will (s)he be available when you have questions?

Remember that the interview process is a two-way process. Not only is your school of interest trying to determine if you would make a good graduate student, but you should try to determine if your school of interest is going to be a good fit for you!

Where can I go for more information?

Although your best resources of information about potential graduate schools and programs are often your professors, advisors, career services staff, professionals in your field of interest, and peers pursuing graduate study: there are several online resources where you can search for schools and programs that may fit your interests and needs. These include:

The Ice Cream Lesson: How to Know Where Your Money Goes

26 Sep

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One student we interviewed lived just down the street from an ice cream shop. Most nights, last call for ice cream was .

Invariably, the student would need to take a break from the books at about , and what better way to do that than to take a brief walk and grab a cone?

Often he would invite a friend or two along and pick up the tab for them too. After all, ice cream isn’t all that expensive.

This student took a personal finance class, though, and part of the coursework was to track all expenditures for one month. When the smoke had cleared and the totals were staring at him, he remembers one thing about that exercise especially well: he had spent over $100 at the ice cream shop. And it was winter term!

You should do the same. No, not eat ice cream every day, but track what you spend for a month. Face the reality.

Here’s how to take your financial snapshot:
  1. Keep it simple. You don’t need to micro analyze your spending. We’re just looking for a clear picture of your overall situation.
  2. Determine when you will begin and when you will stop. Typically, a calendar month works just fine.
  3. Determine how you will track what you spend. A simple approach is to use a debit card or credit card for everyth
    ing. That gives you an online trail. For out-of-pocket expenses, carry a small notebook or a few index cards with you and note any cash expenditures on them.
  4. Determine how you will collect and sort your transactions. Banks offer downloadable statements. Most also allow you to sort online and pull down a specific date range. Bring everything into one spreadsheet or bookkeeping program. You’ll need to add your cash transactions in by hand.
  5. Set up your categories and subcategories. It’s helpful to get somewhat granular here, but don’t knock yourself out. The Food category, for instance, could include subcategories for food purchased at the grocery store, from restaurants, from campus food service, and from miscellaneous sources (that’s how the ice cream shop expenditures were captured and noted).
    The exact methodology you employ will be determined by how much latitude you have in setting up the reports pulled from your bank or credit card companies and whether you use an official bookkeeping program or design your own spreadsheet. Either will work, just remember to keep it simple. The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to stick with the plan.
  6. Record your spending during the period without trying to change anything. You want a true picture. Any changes needed will be duly noted and enlisted later. For now, you only want to get at the truth of the matter: how much are you spending and where is it going?
  7. Once your tracking period has ended, pull down the data, clean it up and confirm it, then be prepared to get your eyes opened a bit wider. If you’ve never taken a financial snapshot, you’re sure to be in for some surprises.

Pencil and paper
Here’s one more saying that’s been passed down through generations: “Watch your dimes and your dollars will take care of themselves.”

Most of us will listen up when the discussion is about hundreds or thousands of dollars, but our interest dwindles when the amount seems piddling.

One of our students told a story about waking up in her dorm room to see her roommate unwadding a small pile of dollar bills. They had been laying on our student’s desk.

Noticing she had awakened, the roommate looked sternly at her and said, “Do you know money will take you anyplace you want to go – and you treat it like this?”

It was an impactful lesson in respect. Those who take good care of a little may soon find themselves in possession of a lot.

This is tip #10 of CouponChief.com’s 10 Top Ways Students Can Have More Money This School Year. Be sure to check out the rest of their tips for ways to save and make money throughout the school year!

How I Started to Coupon & Save Big!

21 Sep

Aubrey Rennick, Hospitality Major at Purdue – Class of 2019

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I was asked to write a little about my adventure into couponing after posting this picture of my first “haul” over the weekend.

I think couponing is great for anyone who wants to save even the smallest amount. If you can save a few dollars every week, you potentially can save more than you ever thought in six months or a year. As a college student, I know what it is like to be tight on money, and I wanted to find a way to save money wherever I could.

I have always been fascinated by the extreme couponers that you see on T.V. who save hundreds of dollars in one trip. I decided to follow some couponing pages on Facebook, and I chose to stick to Dollar General pages because I had read that it was easier to follow than trying to start out at Walmart or CVS.

It took me a long time to try and understand all of the lingo being used on the page. Dollar General has an app that you can use digital coupons allowing you to simply clip the coupons on the app, then type in your number at checkout to apply the coupons. I started there because I was not subscribed to a newspaper, so I did not have access the paper coupons but I eventually learned you can print out coupons!

I have only been doing this for a few weeks, and I still have so much more to learn. There are so many rules and different ways that coupons will work. I subscribed to a newspaper and started asking people I knew if I could have their coupons inserts. That is how people get so much stuff, they have a lot of coupons.

My first two trips to Dollar General resulted in me saving money, but I still spent well over $10. I made it my goal to try and get as close to $0 as I could get. I rounded up coupons and studied what other people were doing on the Facebook pages. I learned that certain coupons give you “overage” which means the coupon value exceeds the value of the product you are buying.

I went to one Dollar General only to find that they had about half of the items I was looking for. I still managed to save over $40 and bring my balance down to $5 AFTER taxes.

I decided to hit up another store location, and found all but one of the items. I saved over $45 on that trip, and actually had a NEGATIVE balance.

This meant I could get some other things I wanted/needed for free to get my balance above 0. I was so happy and proud that I had figured out how to start somewhere.

As far as what items I am looking for, I am limited when it comes to coupons. Most of the time it is household products. There will hardly ever be any food deals besides candy and snacks.

I know a lot of the stuff I got on my big haul I personally will not use. I plan on donating items to women’s shelters, disaster relief, or animal shelters. Big things I am going to keep an eye out for are things like toilet paper, paper towels, and toothpaste. These are things that I use daily and can end up being pricey when you start adding it up!

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