Create Your FSA ID Today!

24 Oct

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October is the first month you can begin the FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year! An important part of the FAFSA is creating your FSA ID.

This video by Federal Student Aid walks you through the creation of your FSA ID, which you will use annually to file for federal student aid.

Now that you know how to create your FSA ID, click here to get started!

Preparing for your First Indiana Winter

20 Oct prep-for-indiana-winter-leader2

The leaves on the trees are starting to change and that means a few things in order of awesomeness: Halloween is coming, pumpkin spice fever is in full pitch, and winter is coming. For all of the amazing things that autumn has, it always means winter is next. For those who are encountering their first winter that will be fraught with freezing temps and snow, the winter can be daunting. However, there is plenty of fun to be had if you’re not shivering the whole time!preparing for indiana winter portrait.jpg

If you have looked into building a cold winter wardrobe from scratch already, you’ve probably realized it’s not cheap. The keys are knowing what you actually need, how to find it cheap, and where you can’t cut corners. The only real difference between the locals who can shrug off the cold and those who freeze is in how well you prepare! Oh, and experience winter driving too but that can’t really be bought.

Remember, winter is long and you’ll probably be spending four of them here throughout college. A few timely purchases now can save you a whole lot of misery over the long haul.

The biggest key is layering. You might hear that over and over again, but it means a whole lot more than just tossing on a jacket and calling it good. The key to good layering is being able to remove what you don’t need when the time comes. We’ll start at the feet and work our way up:

Socks & shoes: Sorry, but flip-flops are going to go the way of the dino during the winter. Depending on how cold it is, you might be able to get away with a normal pair of socks and boots. However, as it gets colder you might want to toss on some thick wool socks underneath your footwear. If it is slushy out or there will be snow on the ground, wear some waterproof boots! If you don’t, you’ll regret it the first time you step in a puddle and walk around with soggy feet all day. Just remember not to over-do it on a day that’s not cold because sweaty feet in wool socks aren’t fun either. If you’re buying boots, select a pair that’s a little large because you’ll be wearing thick socks underneath.CYdHHksWAAA47bO.jpg

Pants: Typically just tossing on jeans or another pair of pants will do it. If it’s a colder day, wearing tights or leggings underneath your pants will help immensely – and no one can tell if you’re worried about that. Going to be stuck outside for an extended period in extreme cold? Layering leggings, jeans & sweats will keep you from being too miserable. Just keep in mind you’ll be very warm when you get inside.

Torso: You’ll have the most freedom here, but it’s also one of the most important areas. Tossing on sweaters, hoodies, vests & anything else you need can make you look fashionable and keep you warm. Big bonus is that you can take them off once you’re inside if you need. On top of all this, it’s all about the jacket you buy. Once autumn starts to fade, your fleece and other light jackets are going to go to the back of the closet. You’re going to want a heavy coat. There are tons and tons of options on what you do here depending on your style. Just remember that two of the biggest factors in staying warm are the material the coat is made of and how much air that it can trap. The more air, the more cushion between you and the

Others: Having a hat, scarf and gloves will make a world of a difference. Feeling your ears slowly freeze while walking to class is no one’s idea of a good day, so wear a cap! Maybe you have a family member who knits who can make one for Christmas. I personally didn’t start wearing a scarf until my last year of college and know I have no idea how I survived until then. It keeps wind from blowing down the front of your jacket, gives you a place to bury your face if it hurts to breath and can even provide another place for your favorite knitter to give you a gift! For your hands, mittens are going to be warmest but renders your hands basically useless. Personally, I wear a pair of string knit gloves and keep thick mittens in my pockets. That way I have the best of both worlds ready if I need.

Now how to find all of these cheap? Maybe you have a crafty friend or family member who can help you out?  If not you’ll probably have to buy them. One method is not relying solely on brand names. Your hat, gloves, and scarf don’t really matter too much where you get them from. However, for boots and your winter coat these can make a big difference. You can probably find a good selection of winter coats at various thrift stores as these are an often-donated item. Boots you’re probably going to have to buy new. Don’t be afraid to check out cheaper department stores for these.

Whether you’re a local who loves winter, or a transplant from a tropical paradise anyone can enjoy it if you’re bundled up properly!

If you have any comments or advice, be sure to leave them in the comments.

DIY Halloween Costume Ideas

17 Oct


As fall winds down and Halloween approaches, so does the need for costumes! (But if you’ve been participating in Breakfast Club, you probably have at least one good outfit tucked back somewhere.) There are several different kinds of costume parties from come as whatever (including yourself) to themed parties (like hillbilly or dress as your favorite Star Wars character) to wear whatever you can make at home (human lamp, anyone?). No one wants to shell out a bunch of money on an outfit that’s going to be worn once. Below are a couple cheap staples to have on hand (and that you probably already own) that can work to make a cool (and cheap!) costume.

90s doodle bear

Bleach Pen

Bleach pens are great because you have pin-point precision to draw with. If you have an all-black outfit, draw stars on it and you can be a galaxy. All-pink? You can be one of those doodle bears from the 90s that you washed and doodled on again and again. Fabric markers work very similar to the bleach pens. Draw whatever you want! One of the nice things about fabric markers is there are different colors. They are also great for ironic/sarcastic tee-shirts. Tee shirt costumes are pretty simple, and tee shirts are really cheap! Besides, it can ripped up for more bloodied looks too.

Cardboard Boxes

Most of us living in apartments have these lying around just from the moving process. Youcan be a Rubic’s Cube, a robot, a Lego, or any other creation you can dream up. Need a pair of wings? Just trace the outline on the box and cut it out.

cardboard robot

An Old Sheet

And I emphasis an old one because who wants to sleep on a sheet with an old spill stain on it? You can be cheesy and go as a ghost, or it can be a cape for an impromptu super hero (waffle man, anyone?), It could even be your next toga.

Thick Black Eyeliner

While girls probably have this on hand, guys may not. It’s the perfect tool to draw an animal mask on your face. For a more masculine approach, draw tire treads on your face and have someone run over a tee shirt and you can be road kill.

Plaid Shirt

Maybe you want to be a lumberjack. Maybe you want to be a hipster Disney princess. Maybe you’re a picnic blanket. Your plaid shirt never looked so versatile.

Green Tights

Oddly specific, but a costume essential. You can be so many things: Peter Pan, a woodland faerie, Link (from The Legend of Zelda), mother nature (or something nature-esque) Robin Hood… Green is everywhere!!

Footie Pajamas

Footie pajamas are warm. Most people think of “adult child”, but itcan be far more than that. Wantto be an animal? You have a neck to toe covering! It also works for mythical creatures. Maybe you’re a person hunter and that’s your “kill”.

Flo & Mayhem insurance costumes


Now if you’re going to the party of the century, maybe your best dress clothes are not a good idea. Do you have dress pants that are just a little too short, a shirt with a hole in it, something that just isn’t quite doing the trick anymore? That would work! You can also go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Suits are great for historical figures, for costume pairs like a runaway groom and a controlling bride, “monkey suits”, and Mayhem costumes.


And if none of these work for you, Goodwill and other thrift stores are always awesome places to find costume goodies. Grandpa/granny clothes, 80s prom dresses, scrubs, mom jeans, Daisy Dukes (in the men’s section)… I mean the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination (or your Pinterest searching abilities). So regardless of how many parties there are to attend and no matter how over-the-top your idea, you don’t need to break the bank to create an awesome costume.

A Procrastinator’s Guide to Making Your College Class Schedule

14 Oct

When you think of that person in college who is always on top of everything, has their classes for next year already figured out and knows every stop from now to graduation then you’ve basically described the opposite person of me. Organization and planning never came easy for me, not that I ever really cared much about it. However, as life got crazy busy for me in my last couple years of school I found that I needed some ways to keep my life together as I was figuring out the next semester’s classes come registration time. Here are some tips that can help fellow procrastinators plan their semesters.calendar-schedule-procrastination

Start off by checking out your degree plan (your myPurdue Plan) and what requirements you need to stay on track toward graduation. While there’s seemingly a million things early on, you tend to see the light after a couple years and the classes that you need to take later become fewer. Pro Tip: leave a few generals classes for your last year – they typically have multiple sections and are easy to schedule around that senior seminar class that is only offered once per year. Once you know what requirements you need to check off and what classes you might be interested to do so, it’s time to meet with your advisor.

Before you sign up for classes, most colleges force you to meet with your academic advisor. Even if they don’t, it’s something you should try to do. However, that’s not to say that it should be the first part of planning your next semester. Your advisor is much more effective if you come prepared! Having the previously mentioned wish list of classes and what objectives you have left using your myPurdue Plan worksheet will make your meeting much more productive and give you time for those other questions your advisor can help with, like internships and post-grad plans.

So now you know what classes you should be taking and have your other questions answered it’s time for actually signing up. The key here is knowing your life. Not everyone is cut out for 8 a.m. classes. If you’re going to skip for sleep rather than go, find a way to work around it rather than handicapping yourself. Try to spread out your difficult classes, both across semesters and across days of the week.

Also take into account your life outside of class. If you have to work, have an idea of what your schedule might look like. One of the positives of having an on-campus job is that they tend to be able to fit hours in around your schedule rather than trying to get you to do the opposite.

Plan on taking 15 credits every semester! If you take 12 one semester, you have to make it up somewhere down the line and that sets you up for a potential 18 credit nightmare. This will keep you on track to graduate in 4 years. Not staying on track for 4 year graduation has a whole host of potential issues that come up including the costs of extra tuition & lost wages from not working, losing state financial aid, and running out of federal financial aid  and 4-year scholarships.

Once you’ve taken care of the scheduling aspect, everything else starts to fall into place. You know your class times, you can figure out what time you’re busy with student organizations, you can fit in your work schedule and then everything else is left over for leisure, study, and class work time. Classes typically only take up less than 20 hours per week of actual in-class time. If you add that plus a mythical 12 hours of sleep per night, and 12 hours of work each day, you still have 52 hours of free time to devote to everything else (including homework) in a week. The key is finding a stable pattern that can help you take care of what you need. For us disorganized and unscheduled people knowing that you absolutely cannot procrastinate a project until tomorrow because your only actual time to work on it is today can make a world of a difference. If you have a relatively consistent schedule you can know this rather than being overwhelmed the next day because that paper is due tomorrow but you’re supposed to be at a club meeting tonight!

Other random tips:

Use to get an idea of what instructors are best.

Seriously, use a planner or calendar or something to put down when papers are due, when tests are, and other big events that could get in the way. I had at least half the crisis moments when I could actually see when I would have busy times coming.

Figure out your study style. Some people need to read and highlight, some people need to write and rewrite notes, and some learn by teaching it to others. If you’re spending hours every night in the library for one class you’re probably doing it wrong.

Also, your ideal study & homework time! I killed it between dinner and bed time but couldn’t find motivation earlier in the day. Some people do it right after class, it’s up to you to figure out!

Remember that you can’t teleport from one place to the next. Factor in travel time!

Frugal Date Ideas for the Fall

13 Oct

So, you’ve met the boy or girl of your dreams here at Purdue and you’ve finally struck up the courage to ask them out. The only problem is that you’re a college student and money is tight! Fortunately, there are plenty of low to no-cost date options that won’t make you look like a cheapskate. And they’ll probably be flattered by your creativity.

Have a picnic

A picnic is a great alternative to having dinner at an expensive restaurant. You can purchase food on campus (at Fresh City Market, perhaps?) or take the bus to Meijer or Wal-Mart for your picnic needs. Get creative! If you have food lying around your dorm or apartment, make a meal out of it! Don’t let it go to waste. Then, all you need is a cozy blanket and a shady spot to share a meal.

Take a walk or bike ride together

The campus is beautiful this time of year and there are plenty of grounds to explore. You may also want to branch out. Happy Hollow Park in West Lafayette has plenty of trails. Taking a walk together is a great way to spark up a wealth of conversation. If you both have bicycles, you may consider riding your bikes together.

allen leaves on dirt path  text overlay: Frugal Date Ideas for Fall


Exercise together

This option may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, the Co-Rec has plenty of fun options. You don’t have to lift weights or run on the treadmill if you’re not up for it. Explore the rock climbing wall together or go for a swim. You don’t have to break a sweat if you don’t want to!

Share a group date

Pizza, anyone? Group dates are a great way to cut costs because you can split the bill. This is also a good way to get to know one another without the awkward silences, as you will have friends there to help you out!

Plan a study date

If you met your dream guy or girl in a shared class, perhaps you could schedule a study date. Not only is it free, it’s beneficial to your academic career! You could find a nice spot outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, or hit up a library together.

Volunteer together

Who could say no to cuddling with cute animals on a first date? Volunteering together is a great way to give back to the community and get to know one another. It also looks great on a resume. Almost Home Humane Society and Natalie’s Second Chance are great places to volunteer, but maybe puppies and kitties aren’t your thing. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to get involved in your community and give back. You may want to contact the Lafayette Urban Ministry, as they are always looking for willing volunteers!

You don’t have to break the bank to win over your soul mate. Asking someone out is nerve-wracking enough without worrying about how you’re supposed to afford a five star meal. Being a college student will pay off eventually, but right now, we all understand the struggle. Do you have any foolproof frugal date ideas? Let us know below!


What Are The Factors That Affect My Credit Score? By Credit Card Insider

11 Oct credit-score

Looking for more information? Check out Credit Card Insider’s website and YouTube channel!

21 Ways to Save Money in Everyday Life

6 Oct 21-ways-to-save-leader

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Financial wellness results from making decisions that support financial goals or priorities. If you spend money on a video game, you are unable to use those funds towards a goal you have, such as purchasing a vehicle or taking a vacation. Lower your miscellaneous expenses by using any combination of the following money-saving strategies:

  1. Reduce the cost of utilities.
    a. Disconnect your cable TV service.
    b. Turn off the lights when not in use. 
  2. Stop spending for things you don’t really need.
  3. Stop paying for purchases with your credit card. If you can’t pay for it this month, don’t push it to next month!
  4. Put all your loose change in a jar. Keep it for laundry, or save it for unexpected expenses.
  5. Reduce your food expenditures:
    a. Buy in bulk.
    b. Don’t shop more than once a week.
    c. Buy only what you have on your list, no impulse purchases!
    d. Compare prices.
    e. Don’t buy more than you can use. 
  6. Eat out less frequently and less expensively.
    a. Treat eating out as a luxury.
    b. Eat less expensive foods.
    c. Use restaurant coupons.
    d. Take advantage of early-bird specials.
    e. Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re upset.
    f. Order entrees only, not expensive desserts or appetizers.
    g. Split or share meals with a friend.
    h. Pack your lunch and take it with you to school.
    i. Save half for leftover lunch the next day.
  7. Learn to cook for yourself.
  8. Find an alternative to driving your car. Rely on public transportation, friends, bikes, and your feet.
  9. If you MUST have a car, try the following tips:
    a. Wash your car yourself.
    b. Purchase regular, unleaded gas.
    c. Look for coupons for oil changes.
    d. To avoid long-term expenses, keep your car in shape.
    e. Use cash or debit cards to pay for gas.
    f. Carpool with friends. 
  10. Find free or inexpensive ways to entertain yourself:
    a. Matinee, discount movies.
    b. Local museums and parks.
    c. Ask about student discounts.
    d. Participate in sports.
    e. Join school clubs.
    f. Read books & borrow them from libraries.
    g. Hike a trail.
    h. Rent videos rather than buying DVDs.
    i. Buy season passes/book of tickets for activities you engage in frequently. 
  11. Take care of yourself, but look for deals.
    a. Avoid membership in trendy health clubs – use the schools’ facilities or the YMCA.
    b. Rely on coupons or specials for hairdressers/barbers.
    c. Don’t waste money on expensive cosmetics sold at department stores.
    d. Look for free-sample cosmetics, or purchase them at discount stores.
    e. Give yourself a manicure/pedicure instead of paying someone else to do it; have a manicure/pedicure party with your friends.
    f. Shop around; look for sales/specials. 
  12. Utilize cell phone plans that match your actual usage. No need for unlimited data if you’re in WiFi range 90% of the time.
  13. Stay away from the shopping mall and out of the stores (particularly when you’re upset or depressed).
  14. Avoid or reduce expensive luxury habits.
  15. Buy only products, clothes and food that you really need.
  16. Check out the costs of banking and negotiate what works best for you (e.g. avoid ATM fees, checking fees, designer checks, etc.)
  17. Don’t be influenced to spend by friends who have more money than you.
  18. Shop for clothes wisely.
    a. Shop at discount outlet stores, consignment stores, and campus thrift shops.
    b. Look for generic labels; avoid expensive name-brand clothing.
    c. Avoid buying and wearing clothes that must be dry-cleaned. 
  19. Select and purchase gifts only when they are on sale.
  20. Live at home or with a relative. Get a roommate.
  21. If you want or think you need something, wait a full 24 hours before you buy it.

Information based on USA Funds® Life Skills®. © 2002 United Student Aid Funds, Inc. Used with permission.

Halloween on a Shoestring

4 Oct halloween-on-a-shoestring-leader

Written by Catherine Bylak, Purdue Student

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College students love Halloween. Whether it be from the joy of showing up together in the perfect squad costumes or maybe it’s the candy corn, regardless, college students scream for Halloween.

If you’re a college kid who screams for Halloween, while your bank account screams for savings, then we have a few tips to enjoy this Halloween on a shoestring!

DIY Costumes

Goodwill Stores are the perfect place to start if you’re only trying to spend a few bucks on a costume. Grab a cheap flannel and complement it with jeans and you can go as a lumberjack! There are endless possibilities. Think of your favorite TV character, generic job titles, or puns and find items that represent them.

By making your own costume you can show off your ingenuity and style, rather than spending $30-50 on a stock costume that you’ll wear maybe four times.

Plus a DIY costume is way more original.

There are three Goodwill locations near the Purdue campus and several other thrift stores nearby for all your thrifty Halloween costume needs.


You can even create identification cards in a word document to print, cut out, and wear so people will understand your costume. costume ID.jpg

DIY Decorations

There are tons of ideas for homemade decorations that can utilize anything including empty milk gallons, garbage bags, and a few permanent markers. For those who aren’t interested in Pinterest, here are some links for cheap decoration alternatives: Indoor & Outdoor by Money Crashers and Effortless Decorations by DIY Projects

Cheap Treats

We all know that fun costumes and decorations make Halloween great, but so does the candy. If you adore the treats over the tricks, here are some sites for cheap candy: Halloween Candy Warehouse and Bulk Candy Store.

Maybe your favorite aspect of Halloween is enjoying few unique, of-age drinks that ensues. In that case, check out these sites for cheap, Halloween themed cocktails: Jello shots, spooky cocktails, candy-inspired drinks, and cheap Halloween cocktails.

Now, you can scream and save this Halloween.

Healthy Eating on a College Budget

29 Sep healthy-eating-on-college-budget

Heather Kessler, Purdue University Alumna


Is it really possible to eat healthy while on a small college budget? There are many guides on the internet offering advice on this topic. I’ve gone ahead and broken down a few of the most common suggestions.

1)      Always have low-budget healthy staples on hand.  This is just a small list of what can be helpful to have in the pantry or fridge at all times.

list of healthy foods

2)      Have a plan before you shop.

  • Check to see what is on sale that week at local grocery stores, and what coupons are available
  • Make a menu for the next week (or two)
  • See what you already have in stock in your kitchen
  • Make a list of the other items you need
  • Stick to that list while shopping for items
  • Try to stay around the perimeter of the grocery store as this is where the healthy produce tends to be.  The aisles usually contain items that have been processed and are not very healthy.

grocery store producs

3)      If you struggle with buying more when you have a card, plan how much you are willing to spend ahead of time and get just that amount in cash.  This will help you keep to your pre-determined budget and be less likely to overspend.

4)      For fruits and vegetables try to stick with what is in season and on sale, as it will keep the prices down.  Frozen vegetables are also good to use and will keep longer (and can usually be found at lower prices than fresh vegetables).  Canned is okay, but they tend to use more preservatives in the canning process.

5)      For lean protein on a budget, try to stay with white meats.  Chicken and turkey are both great options.  If you are willing to spend a little more money, salmon or tilapia offer wonderful health benefits.

6)      Whole grains offer the most nutrition for the dollar with items such as bread or pasta.  Try to avoid white bread and pasta since they are processed and most of their nutrients have been taken out.

Try not to waste any of the food you have, you invested good money into those items and they should be used.  If you need ideas on different entrees to make with the same ingredients Pinterest or The Food Network have many different ideas and they are easy to navigate through.  Here’s to healthy eating and more money in your bank account!

Predict Your Own Financial Future

26 Sep

All of us are in college to invest in a better future. And we’re already taking a big step towards the future by investing in a big expense such as a college education. But, there are other activities we can participate in to help us save and plan ahead. I’m not here to tell you that you should get a Roth IRA or start your 401K now or start setting aside large chunks of money for your future dream home. This article discusses some helpful tips you can do now that will help you invest in your future.

MyMoney Water bottle and can koozie1)     Get a reusable water bottle

Sure, they are really good for the environment because you’re not wasting plastic bottles, but they’re also really good for your wallet. If you are getting your recommend 8 glasses (or more) of water a day and you buy each one of those water bottles, that’s a lot of money! A bottle of water from a vending machine costs about $1.50 and assuming each of those gets you about 2 glasses of water, then you’re spending about $6.00 a day. However, if you buy a reusable water bottle (I have a Brita), you’re going to be saving a lot of money! Also, a lot of companies hand out reusable water bottles as promotional items, and the cost to you is nothing! And like I always say, the freer the better!

2)     Know the weather in your area and be prepared for it

GIF shows changing seasons, spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter

By this I mean, know that it’s going to rain, snow, and be windy in Indiana and make sure you have the proper apparel. Buy water-proof shoes for rainy days so you don’t ruin your favorite pair. Get a reliable umbrella (maybe something not from the Dollar Store just to make sure it lasts). Get a hat, gloves, winter coat, and full ski gear. Just kidding on the last one, but know that it gets cold. And of course,watch the weather or get an app for that! Know what to expect and dress accordingly. By doing this, you’re not only saving yourself comfort-wise, but you’re also making sure that you don’t ruin non-weather proof items and you could even ward off a costly cold.

3)     Invest in your credit score

This doesn’t mean that you should get a thousand credit cards and rack up insane amounts of debt. What I mean by this is be smart with your credit. Get one credit card and use it wisely (or not at all, just have it). Pay your bills on time. Take out as little in student loans as possible. If you can’t avoid them, look into different payment options so you are aware of your repayment options. Lastly, if you did take out student loans calculate your monthly repayment. Be prepared!

4)     Buy what you need

This may sound simple, but think about it. Everyone has a friend who bought a bike to ride to class every day but doesn’t use it, ever! Does that sound like a good investment? The $150 spent for the bike could have paid for your groceries…for a month or two. Be smart about where you spend your money and avoid buyer’s remorse. One tip is to think about how much use you’ll get out of a particular item. If it’s clothing, are you buying it because it’s a fad now or are you investing money in your wardrobe? If it’s something larger, how many times will you use it in the course of a year? If you’re not going to use it nearly every day, maybe you should reconsider it. Check out Should I Buy those Shoes? for advise on how to avoid buyer’s remorse.

These are all fairly simple suggestions, but they really can help make a difference when it comes to saving money and investing in your future. What types of things do you do to invest in your financial future?

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