Archive | August, 2013

Join all the Clubs!

26 Aug

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

club fair

Photo by: Purdue Marketing and Media

The school year is starting and so are clubs callouts. There are tons of options and so many exciting clubs to choose from! I mean, most of us joined a couple of clubs or organizations in high

Photo by: Purdue Marketing and Media

Photo by: Purdue Marketing and Media

school, but there are so many more options at Purdue. It’s practically club-overload.

Going to club call outs are great. Lots of information, meeting new people, and of course FREE food! Most club callouts offer food so take advantage of the deliciousness! But with all these cool options it becomes so easy to forget about two other aspects: time and money.

club dancingJoining a lot of clubs is super fun and a great way to make new friends, but do you have time to join all of these clubs? While it’s exciting to join numerous clubs and meet a lot of other students around campus, you have to remind yourself that you are a student first and foremost. It is important that you are attending classes and passing those classes, so that you are able to graduate with your degree at the end. Otherwise, what is the point of attending a University? Also, financial aid is contingent on you attending class, and passing. If you aren’t going to class, it can impact your financial aid. Dropping classes isn’t so hot either because dropping classes also affects your financial aid. Remember, make sure you’re taking care of yourself as a student first and foremost!

Time can also come into play when balancing club involvement with employment. Most employers don’t want to work around 50 clubs plus classes. How available are you to work a shift? It’s all about your priorities. Being more available to work makes you more marketable and easier to get a job during college. Besides, when we finally graduate, most people want to see experience, especially work experience related to your field. Work experience shows you can work as a team player, demonstrates your work ethic, and allows for practice regarding public and office relations. A club or organization can offer these opportunities, but it does not look as strong on a résumé, and it certainly doesn’t pay you for your involvement.

Color Club

Photo by: Purdue Marketing and Media

Although sky diving sounds amazing, can you really afford to join that club? With club membership club fees and dues follow closely. Then, there are the expenses of clubs you did not plan for. Is there a uniform? How are you traveling to meetings? Do you have to provide anything, such as food or poster materials? It starts to add up, especially if you will be joining multiple clubs or organizations.

Most advisors have a rule of thumb of two or three clubs: one professional, one social, and one for fun. But it’s up to you to decide which clubs best fit. So like all things in life it’s a happy medium. Clubs are full of amazing experience and great opportunities. There so many friends and memories to be made.  Just make sure to balance social vs. academic and be realistic on how much you can take on.

Find a club that interests you! or Follow @Purdueboard

Suit Up Your Kitchen!

22 Aug

Amanda Hart, FCSE Educator and Purdue Alumni 2010
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Neil Patrick Harris

Photo by: Greg in Hollywood (Greg Hernandez)

You are finally out on your own! Congratulations! As you view your new castle with pride, you suddenly become hungry. After scrounging through the empty pantry you realize, there is NOTHING of value in your kitchen. This is a problem. After all, man cannot live on saltine crackers alone. Faced with this situation, most of us would just call for a pizza, but not you.  Instead of ignoring the problem, you decide to face the facts; it’s time to get your kitchen whipped into shape! In order to accomplish this, you are going to need the proper equipment. (If you are missing any items listed below check out Where to Find Cheap or Free Stuff for your Apartment.)

Here are the basics.

Equipment:

Major appliances:

  1. An oven This is something you can bake in. Most apartments have an oven/range combo, but if yours doesn’t, you can get a toaster oven for pretty cheap.
  2. Range- These are the burners you cook on. They can be either gas (fire) or electric (coils). If you don’t have a range in your apartment, invest in a good hot plate, with the permission of your landlord. They range in price from $15 up to $90.

**Disclaimer:  Please remember your fire safety skills. Things that get hot can burn your house down. Please don’t set your apartment on fire. **

Cooking tools:

  1. Askillet- You can go one of two ways with this…
    1. Cast Iron SkilletNonstick skillet- These are very easy to find and take care of. You can’t use metal utensils on them or the nonstick coating will scratch and peel off. When looking at the quality of a skillet, keep in mind that weight corresponds to heat retention and distribution. Generally, the heavier gauge metal it’s made from, the more heat it will hold. This means that nonstick skillets cook your food evenly.
    2. Cast iron skillet- This skillet will be perfect for just about anything you want to do. It is tougher than nails and, if you take care of it, you will be using this pan until you die. You can pick one up at Walmart for about $20. Even better, check out a garage sale and see if you can get one for cheap.
    3. 2-quart pot with lid- This is going to help with boiling and steaming: think rice, pasta, hardboiled eggs, really anything that requires a cooking in a liquid. I prefer mine to be non-stick, but that is optional.
    4. Spatula/ mixing tool- Get a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. You need something that can scrape a bowl clean and is heavy enough to take some abuse. Also, please remember that plastic melts and wood can catch on fire. (See Disclaimer warning above)
    5. Mixing bowls- These need to be big enough so that your food won’t end up all over the counter when you are mixing. Plastic tends to hold oil and can get scratched, so go for a metal set.  Aluminum bowls can go in the oven or act as a double boiler over a pan of boiling water. They can also double as a late night cereal bowl.
    6. Sharp knives- With knives, quality is the name of the game. Buy a good knife and keep it sharp. This will make your life so much easier. You need one larger (chef’s) knife and a smaller (paring) knife. America’s Test Kitchen tests and creates recommendations for many kitchen tools. Remember to use a cutting board every time you use that knife! Please, follow this advice, unless you want a dull knife and to have your housing deposit be used to replace a cut up countertop.
    7. Measuring cups and spoons- When I try a recipe for the first time, it always reminds me of my High School Chemistry class. You need to use specific ingredients in the exact measurement that is called for. And just like in Chemistry class, if you get lazy about the measurements then your final product will not turn out right.  There are two (yes, two) types of measuring cups. One for dry ingredients (not runny) and one for liquids. You need one of each.
Photo by: Max Ronnersjö

Photo by: Max Ronnersjö

 

Optional equipment:

This list could go on forever. Here are my top 3.

  1. Microwave- Sure it’s good for baked potatoes, popcorn and Easy Mac but you can make those things yourself anyway.
  2. Rolling pin- An empty wine bottle works just as well, but it’s up to you.
  3. Colander- Some people call these “strainers”, and they come in metal or plastic. It’s the bowl with holes in it. They are good for holding pasta and vegetables, not so great for cereal.

Whew! That is quite a list! But, something to keep in mind is that all of these things are really an investment in your future. It seems expensive to pay for all of this right now, but in reality you will be saving so much money by not ordering in or eating out every night. Not to mention, you’ll also be eating a lot better than if you ate out all the time.

Do you have any other tips for eating well and saving money? Let us know!

 

When Ramen Just Isn’t Enough, Why YOU Should Cook!

22 Aug

Professional Cooking

Amanda Hart, FCSE Educator and Purdue Alumni 2010
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Welcome back to campus! I hope you had a great summer. Now that you are back, you get a fresh start. Take the time to unpack all your things and take a good look at your life/home/residence. What do you want to change this year? Sometimes moving into a new place stirs us to try something we’ve never done before. Maybe you’ll take that wall and turn it into a mural (just remember to paint it back to white before you move out.) Maybe you’ll resolve to wake up early and exercise. (Good luck with that. No, really…. Good Luck!) Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll decide that this is the year you learn how to cook.  Cooking is a fantastic skill and a pastime that I have enjoyed for a long time. One of my earliest memories is being in the kitchen with my grandmother “helping” her make dinner.  Even if you’ve never been in a kitchen before, now is the time to start. Why should you cook for yourself? Here’s why:

Reason 1: You are in control

While we can taste five distinct flavors: sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and umami, our brains are hardwired to really like fats, sugars and salt. This is leftover from our hunter/gatherer days when every day was a struggle to stay alive. Although we have moved on to a different way of life, our taste buds have not.  When you eat out, restaurants try to capitalize on that genetic craving and add fat, sugar and salt to their foods.  Read Crave Man for more information about restaurants and capitalizing on genetic cravings. When you have control of the ingredients that go in your food, you have control of your health. You might even notice a drop in the fat, sodium and sugar you consume. Now that doesn’t mean you won’t ever eat a Wendy’s Baconator and fries ever again, but you will be more aware of what you are eating. You control what’s organic and, on the other end, what preservatives you choose to eat.

Also, don’t forget about weight management. We’ve all seen (or been) the person who put on the Freshman 15 before they knew what hit them. When you cook your food, it’s easier to focus on the fruits, vegetables and lean meats and to stay away from the unlimited ice-cream bar.

Food Allergy

Photo by: David Castor

Reason 2: Safety

If you have allergies or are sensitive to certain foods, you are probably doing some cooking of your own already and good for you! Maybe you don’t have any food allergies, but your significant other happens to, now you can cook for them with your newly acquired food preparation skills! Nothing says “I love you” quite like a home cooked meal that won’t kill your date.

Also, don’t forget about the wonderful world of food-borne illnesses. And yes, they are just as gross as they sound. Bacteria or chemicals can contaminate the food you eat, and then hang out in your guts and make you sick. Awesome, right? If you want to know more about these lovely critters (which include bacteria, viruses and parasites) check out the USDA website. When you are in control of the preparation and handling of your food, you are given the opportunity to monitor and confirm that it’s safe to eat. As you are cooking, keep some handy tips in mind.

  1. If it’s supposed to be cold, keep it under 40*F
  2. If it’s supposed to be hot, keep it over 145*F
  3. If you keep perishable food at room temperature, you have a 4 hour window before bacterial growth starts to explode. Don’t believe me? Check out this video. Gross!

Reason 3: It’s cost effective

Photo by: Camstar5414

Photo by: Camstar5414

When you eat out, not only are you paying for your food but there are many other things that are factored into that price. Think of all the goods, services, and people that goes into running a restaurant/dining hall and it’s easy to see why your burrito costs $8.00. When you are your own manager, head chef, and busboy it’s easy to see why your food will cost less.

I’ve got one major tip for you: buy in bulk. Sam’s Club in Lafayette is a great place to do this. If this is a little far to travel for you, Aldi is here in West Lafayette and it is also a great place to shop. You can find quality food items for much less than what you would spend at Payless or Walmart. When you buy in bulk, you are paying more up front; however the total unit price is less. This is a great strategy for things you know you will need and aren’t perishable.  These things include staple items such as rice, pasta, dried beans, paper towel, dish soap, ketchup, canned soup and flour. These things will last a very long time as long as you store them properly.

Reason 4: Cooking is FUN!

Cooking can be a simple act that holds so many rewards! Cooking gives you the opportunity to show self-expression and go on a food adventure without leaving the house. You will learn new skills while sharing bonding time with your friends and family. You can use your artistic and creative skills and feel a sense of pride in creating something edible and beautiful. Cooking is nourishing for the mind, body and the soul.  And goodness knows during stressful times (finals, anyone?) we all need something to help us relax.

Yay! You made it to the end! I’m glad you heard me out. Now that you’ve heard my reasoning, let’s hear yours. Why do you cook?

Avoiding the Freshman $$15

19 Aug

Federal Reserve Bank Vault

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

College is expensive, and it’s not easy managing your finances on your own for the first time. From your freshman year to graduation, your savings account will be your first line of defense against consumer debt and financial misery. By building up a healthy ‘savings buffer’ and stretching your college dollar, you’ll graduate with your financial house in order and, most importantly, peace of mind. Here are some key lessons for developing “money smarts” to go along with your book smarts.

Start Saving

One of the biggest problems for underclassmen is overspending. Fortunately, putting a little cash aside can be a great way to cut spending. Here are some ideas:

  • Calculate your monthly income from all sources, and use that to create a savings plan and budget. Don’t spend more than you make!
  • Avoid credit cards, unless you’re planning on sticking to a strict budget and recording all of your purchases. Credit cards give you a false impression of having more money than you actually do. Don’t assume you’ll be able to make up for a shopping splurge next month. With so many temptations and high interest rates, odds are you won’t.
  • Get a part-time job and deposit a percentage of each paycheck directly into your savings account. These small amounts will add up over time and having less cash on hand will force you to forgo frivolous spending. You’ll be forcing yourself to save rather than fighting temptation each time you enter a convenience store. Plus, a sizable chunk in savings will end up being far more satisfying than your gourmet latte routine.

Staying Frugal in a College Town

Aerial photos of Purdue University

photo by: Purdue Marketing and Media,Dave Umberge

College is a critical learning period for adopting adult habits, like living within your means. Here are some ideas for living a frugal life that is both happier and richer:

  • Avoid luxuries like cable TV or a fat phone plan. You are still a student, not a middle-class consumer, so act like it. Plus, college is no time to be sitting at home watching TV — you’ll get several more decades of that after graduation.
  • Buy or rent used textbooks, or borrow them from the school or public library. With the average cost for new textbooks over $1,000 a year, this is an obvious – and easy – place to find some savings.
  • Never buy new! You’re not working full-time, so why act like it by buying brand new things? Thrift shops are a fraction of the price, environmentally friendly, and the consensus in cool nowadays.
  • Make your own coffee instead of blowing money at an expensive café. A few bucks may not seem like much, but it adds up fast. It’s easy to heat water and use a French press. Give it a try.
  • Bike if you can. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone: exercise and transportation. Plus you’ll save on public transit or, heaven forbid, gas and parking.
  • Host dinner parties and other fun in-house events instead of going out to restaurants and bars. Again, you’ve got plenty of time after college to enjoy bars, restaurants, and pricey events.
  • Make the most of on-campus resources like laundry services, the gym, and the library
  1. Most college libraries have excellent movie rental selections, so why are you dishing out for Netflix or Redbox?
  2. More time spent in the gym or library is time spent getting smarter and fitter and not time spent out on the town spending money.
graduated

GIF by: , MarcelKirsteinLE

Financially Preparing for Graduation

You may be thinking: college is supposed to be the best time of my life, so why am I wasting it pinching pennies? Well there are a couple problems with this line of thinking. First, if you spend four years racking up debt, barely passing your classes, and living large, then college is going to be the best time of your life…because you’ll spend the rest of your life struggling to pay it back. Second, college can be just as fun without splurging. The fun comes from the camaraderie, adventure, and self-discovery — not from the shopping.

The College Board estimated average miscellaneous expenses to be $2,527 for private colleges and $3,201 for public universities for the 2012/13 school year. Four years of frugal living could save you a few thousand dollars, rather than sticking you a few thousand into credit card debt. Trust me, it’ll come to make a big difference.

Karla Lant is a contributor on The Simple Dollar’s life insurance center.  She is currently an adjunct at Northern Arizona University; find Karla Lant on LinkedIn or Google+.

Schedules: Advice to Students from Students

9 Aug

Recent Purdue Graduate Words of wisdom to the class of 2017
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

I’ll be honest.  When you think of that girl in class who has her entire week planned out, even down to what meal she is going to cook on what night, that’s me.

My favorite two days every semester occur during syllabus week, a time when I can write every assignment from every professor for the entire semester.  For all new Boilermakers, syllabus week happens the first week of classes every semester and you review the syllabus in class … for most classes.  Take advance of this time while you are reviewing the semester’s assignments and due dates by completing your planner.

I love planning and I love schedules.  I like to think of my planning addiction as a type of goal setting exercise.  I write what I want to accomplish every week, and it’s not complete until I actually mark the line through it.  That’s actually another one of my greatest joys—crossing off tasks that I want to do after they are finished.  I honestly believe that without weekly goals, I would never get anything accomplished.

cartoon calendarWriting things down is a motivation for me because I hate seeing things in my planner that I didn’t get to cross off.  The feeling is comparable to my grandparents saying they are disappointed in me; it’s that serious!  This technique can also be used for long-term goals too, which is basically a glorified way of me saying I want to plan my work outs so I can get my high school body back by the end of summer.

It’s still the same concept, though.  I plan out what I want to do, week by week, to get to my end result.  It worked well for me during college, so I am more than optimistic that it will also work after college.

The things I’ve mentioned for goal-setting are fairly juvenile. I mean, it’s not like I am setting goals for my ten-year plan or anything, even though now that I think about it, I probably should start that soon.

The key aspects of goal setting I have learned through college and personal life are to be realistic with yourself. Don’t tell anyone how much you love to plan things.  Make sure your goals are attainable

Cartoon Family Portrait

photo by Yesenia603

for you, or else you will get discouraged.  It doesn’t make sense to say you are going to work out for three hours after you get home from work and then cook a five course meal.  That doesn’t even sound enjoyable!  And I’m really stressing here, keep your planning addiction to yourself because people love to mess with you.  They will start inviting you to things, like the bars when they know you have an exam tomorrow morning, just because they know that it will torment you and ruin your chances of getting your goals accomplished for the day.  Just do what I do, think to yourself: “what would my grandparents want me to do”… and you will usually make the right decision.

 

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How Student Loan Debt Adds Up

2 Aug

College is all fun and games until your student loans and credit card payments are due. With the cost of college rising and more students attending than ever before, it is imperative that students consider how much debt they are willing to consume to pay for their higher education. The information graphic listed below shows a national snap shot of student loan and credit card debt.

But what happens after college? Students with federal loans are going to be expected to start paying off those loans as early as 6 months after they’ve graduated. Get ready and research your repayment options.

Student Loans Add Up

Infographic provided by Debt.org

 

The information graphic was provided by debt.org, America’s debt help organization. Their website is dedicated to educating students and parents on how to get out of debt.

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