Archive | June, 2013

Townies – Should you live at home during college?

28 Jun house

Raysha Duncan, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

house

Many townies may feel the pressure to both live at home and live on campus at the same time. Deciding which is more beneficial can be a difficult choice. On one hand, it’s nice to be on campus all the time and having the ability to walk back to your dorm or apartment. But, however, expenses are high when you’re not living at home, especially if you do not want to work 20+ hours a week and opt to take out student loans. As townies, we have the advantage of making a choice of which we would like to do; unlike a majority of students. By choosing to stay at home with mom and dad, we are given the option of living a (most commonly) rent-free four years of college.

Personally, I chose to live at home with my family for the first two years of college. During my experience, I felt like I was missing out on something that everyone was

Cartoon Family Portrait

Cartoon Family Portrait

talking about. Plus, it felt a little awkward being a college student when my baby sister was still in elementary school. I decided to move out, without much planning to be honest, my junior year. Because of this decision, I had to take out a student loan that I would not have had to take out otherwise. I won’t be graduating with a lot of debt, but it’s still debt I could have avoided. That’s not to say I didn’t benefit from of moving out. I learned a lot about how to live on my own and maintain balance that was otherwise hard to figure out while living at home with my family. There are definitely pros and cons on both sides of this argument, the largest con on moving out are costs. For me personally, I found the cost to be too much, and I’m actually moving

back home with my family for my senior year to save up money for after graduation.

If you really want to save money or not work as many hours or not take out as many loans, then living at home is something you should seriously consider. There is no easier way to save on your college expenses than to stay at home with mom and dad and put off paying rent for 4 years. If that’s not something you’re worried about and you really want to live on campus for the experience, then that’s good too! You will grow a lot from moving out and having roommates. For those of you who are worried about not gaining this experience, you still have the rest of your life after college to not live with your parents.

Breakfast is Ready

Christmas breakfast, Poland

Living at home comes with the benefits of home-cooked meals and endless family time. But, if you have younger siblings like I do, there’s also a lot of coordinating of schedules and early bedtimes. This may not be the same experience you would have with roommates. The biggest difference is that your roommates don’t love you unconditionally and they can hold grudges longer than a loving little brother. However, you do learn how to communicate with people outside of your family and you get to learn what happens when you argue with someone you live with that is not a family member. I know I’ve experienced a lot of growth with this in my year out of my parent’s house. But, I am moving back in with my parents because I would rather be financially comfortable for my final year of college. It’s a tough choice, but it is your choice, and it really is about what makes you most comfortable.

The debate between staying at home and moving to campus isn’t just limited to Purdue; all students who grow up in a college town have this debate with themselves and/or their parents. And a few general rules apply to all students in this situation.

1. Keep in mind what your schedule will be like: if you move on campus, how often will you be home? More often than justifies living on campus?

2. Is moving on campus financially feasible?

3. What are the pros and cons for each situation? Does one situation outweigh the other? Why is that?

These are just a few very general questions to keep in mind when making your choice of whether or not to stay at home during college.

Have you had to debate living at home versus living on campus? Which did you choose?  What made you come to that decision?

Okay, so you have made the decision to move out on your own but are still contemplating between, dorm life, renting an apartment, or renting a house check out Where should I Live?

Cheap Summer Date Ideas

21 Jun

Raysha Duncan, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Dating on a budget is challenging. A lot of people want to save money, but don’t want to make their significant other think that they’re being “cheap”. There are still many ways to go on fun dates with your romantic interest, save money, and not seem like a Scrooge. In my opinion, summer is the BEST seasons for inexpensive date nights/days/weekends. Here are a few ideas to keep dating and keep saving:

drive-in theaterGo to a drive-in. A lot of drive-ins charge by the car load, so you could even make this a group date and have everyone pitch in. Plus, bringing your own food isn’t usually frowned upon! Dinner under the stars and a movie? Sounds pretty romantic and not “cheap” to me. Find a drive-in theater near you.

Have a group potluck dinner date. Invite all of your closest couple friends (or those friends you’ve been dying to set up) over for dinner and assign a dish to everyone. This way, everyone gets a good home-cooked meal, but nobody has to pay the full price. Afterwards, you could all play charades, video games, or watch a rented movie. Make sure you come up with activities for the evening to avoid a dull night, but don’t be too restrictive! Keep in mind, this is a very inexpensive way to spend time with both your significant other and your friends so don’t let the fun get interrupted with a tight schedule!

Go on a picnic. Summer is the perfect season for being outside. Pack up a basket (or paper bag) with all of you and your

Picnic basket

picnic basket on a table
photo by Jeremy Noble

love interest’s favorite food, grab a decent looking blanket and head to the nearest park for the typical romantic summer date. After you recycle your plastics and paper you can explore the park and make an entire afternoon, just don’t forget sunscreen! Feeding each other strawberries (they’re in season, you can splurge here) is recommended, but not required.

Walk around your town. When was the last time you really explored your home town? From my experience, walking around downtown tour is always much more interesting on a walking you care about. You can explore all the little shops (looking is allowed, you don’t have to buy anything!) and maybe stop for a treat at a local bakery or coffee shop that you’ve never tried before.

Go for a drive in the country and just explore. Now, I know the price of gas is up, but you drive to go to the movie theatre, — why not just drive out into the country and explore the open space? If you get out far enough, you can even stop smelling the city and start smelling the country fresh air.

Go to local festivals, fairs, and other town events. If Indiana is full of these affairs, other states must be too.  Discover events in your area with a quick Google search. You don’t have to go very far to find a festival dedicated to a fruit, town, or some minor figure that needs to be celebrated. Many times these events are also free to attend, and if not they generally don’t cost much at all. What can cost you $$, is all the tasty treats being served; so make sure to fill up before you go.

Hachioji Festival, Japan

Hachioji Festival, Japan

What “cheap” date ideas do you have to share?  Comment below.

Cheaper Campus Living

14 Jun

Dorm Room

College Dorm Room

Raysha Duncan Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Attending college is a large expense, and your university “bill” only considers your tuition and fees, plus room and board if you choose to live on campus. There are many additional expenses to consider when attending college, and most students don’t have access to an unlimited amount of money so we have to learn to cut costs somewhere.  Here are a few ways to cut costs as a college student.

student house

student house

Decide if you want to live on or off-campus. There is an ongoing argument amongst students and parents of which option is cheaper. One of the simplest decisions to take into consideration is your own living and eating habits. Do you want to have a single, one roommate, or multiple roommates? If you live off-campus, chances are you’ll need multiple roommates to reduce your costs. Does the cheapest dining plan provide more than enough or not enough food for you? How much more or less do you realistically need to spend on food? Read further on the great debate of on-campus versus off-campus living.

Take advantage of the FREE and discounted stuff you get just for being a student! Students can use the Co-Rec for FREE, ride the CityBus for FREE, buy tickets for shows at discounted prices, and many more.  Discover more information about student discounts.

Take your laundry home to wash if you don’t have access to a free washer and dryer. This may sound cliché, but laundry expenses really add up. Plus, this gives you an excuse to go home more often to visit your family.

Look for your books online. A lot of the time, textbooks for classes are sold online for MUCH less than in the bookstores on campus. Find out what books you need early on by emailing your professors so you can get the best deals. You may also be able to find textbook names and authors on the Registrar’s website. I most commonly use Amazon to order my books, but many other websites out there that students use as well.  Learn more about Lowering the Cost of College by Spending Less on Books.

Invest in some real dishware for your apartment or dorm. You don’t have to spend a lot of money; Goodwill has some pretty good deals on dishes and silverware. Buying a couple sets of real dishes will save money in the long run by not constantly buying plastic or paper dishes. Yes, that means you do have to do dishes, but you’ll be saving money! And if you have roommates, you can all pitch in completing chores around your residence.

Try to carpool to and from your hometown as much as possible to save money on gas.

Car pooling

Cartoon of multiple people in a car

Attend FREE events on campus! A lot of events hand out coupons, free swag, and sometimes even food! Besides getting free stuff, you also have the opportunity to meet people and possibly get involved on campus.

Use coupons! These are published weekly in the local paper and if you live off-campus coupons come in the mail once a week as well. Every so often, The Exponent puts out coupons for restaurants on campus such as Arby’s or McDonald’s.

These are just a small number of ways to save money.  Do you have any money-saving tips that have had an impact during college?

6 Student Discounts to Take Advantage Of

3 Jun

Aaron helped start Three Thrifty Guys with his friends Charlie and Mark after being inspired by how they lived their lives “on the thrift”. A designer by day, Aaron was once $40k in debt. After 5 years – he dug himself out and lives to tell about it.

College caused me to stretch my creativity and my money. I learned quickly that clothes don’t just get magically cleaned and textbooks aren’t cheap.Washboard and Pail

Desperate for cash, a roommate of mine once went to the area blood bank and donated his plasma. He returned a bit dazed after fainting, but was a few bucks richer.

The one thing I could count on being there for me during my college years was the good ‘ol “student discount”. I will be forever indebted to the empathetic business owners who took pity on their local college students and gave us a percentage off their food and wares.

Don’t neglect to take advantage of these incentives yourself. Here’s a few that I discovered:

  1. Amazon Student
    Amazon Student is similar to Amazon’s popular Amazon Prime, but it’s exclusively for students.  Students can get 6 months of FREE 2-day shipping on millions of items. They also have access to online videos, books, games, and some products are event FREE. After the 6 month trial Amazon Student is $39 per year until the student graduates (half the price of Prime).
  2. Insurance
    Many students are on their parents’ coverage health, auto, or housing.  If you are looking for your own insurance coverage there are still ways you can save.  If you pay your own insurance and are a good student (typically B average or better) you can generally score some great discounts through your insurance provider.  Contact your provider today to see what student discounts they may offer.
  3. Telephoneiphone
    Be sure to check with your cell phone provider as many of the big carriers provide some type of student discount. They can range anywhere from 6% (from T-Mobile) to as much as 18% from Verizon.
  4. Adobe Software
    One discount I enjoyed taking advantage of was Adobe’s student/teacher mark-downs on their software. These programs typically run well into the hundreds of dollars so picking them up for (sometimes) as much as 80% off retail is a steal.
  5. Food
    The one thing near and dear to many students’ hearts is food. While I wouldn’t recommend eating out a lot, some of the fast-food shops like Burger King, Subway and McDonald’s do offer a 10% discount with valid student IDs. Since these are franchise-operated, you should check first to see if your location offers a discount.
  6. Attractions
    Many attractions will offer discounts to students who show a valid ID, so keep that in mind when you’re looking for things to do or need an escape.

While this list is limited, I recommend asking the establishments you visit if they have a student discount, the least they can say is no. You might be pleasantly surprised. Want more… click to find more student discounts or places to eat cheap.

What discounts do you know of that might help your fellow student?

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