Archive | September, 2013

Renter’s Insurance: Pros and Cons

30 Sep

Zami student housing

Chris Bibey is the founder of, a website providing personal finance advice from the pros.

No matter if you are renting an apartment as a college student or a single family home as a young professional, you are going to have many financial decisions staring you in the face.

One of the most important questions you have to answer is this: should I purchase renter’s insurance or opt against this coverage for the time being?

Like any sort of insurance policy, you need to compare the pros and cons to ensure that you are making the right choice. Upon doing so, you will have a better idea of how to move forward.


Acer LaptopMost people soon find that the advantages of buying renter’s insurance greatly outweigh any perceived downfalls. Here are several benefits you don’t want to overlook:

  • It is affordable. While home insurance can often times be expensive, this is not the case with a renter’s policy. For approximately $10-$15 per month, you can receive up to $50,000 of personal property coverage. These numbers are rough estimates, but give you a good idea of just how affordable a policy can be.
  • The ability to add liability coverage. In addition to coverage for your personal property, liability protection is a big deal. For instance, if somebody is hurt on your property or your dog decides to bite a neighbor, you will be protected.
  • Plenty of companies offering high quality renter’s insurance. Regardless of where you live, you won’t have a difficult time finding an agent who can provide you with the policy you are looking for. Investigate your current auto or life insurer, they too can have renter’s insurance policies and bundling insurance policies could save you more money.


Generally speaking, there are not many disdvantages of renter’s insurance. However, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:Calculator

  • Deductible. Like any insurance policy, there will be a deductible attached to this coverage. This is the amount you will pay out of your own pocket before your policy kicks in.
  • Another monthly expense. Although renter’s insurance doesn’t cost a lot, this is an expense you have to add to your budget. Can you afford it?

Now that you understand the pros and cons of renter’s insurance, it is time to decide if it is right for you.

If you rent an apartment or home, this is a relatively cheap type of policy that can provide you with personal property and liability protection. Most agree that carrying some sort of coverage would be in their best interest. How do you feel about this?

Day of Purdue University’s Industrial Roundtable

16 Sep

Hannah Stewart Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

Industrial Roundtable logo

Okay, so you’ve done all the prepping. You’ve done your homework and you know which companies you want to meet.  The big day is finally here and here are some tips to make it a successful venture.

example of male and female business suit

Photo by: Lagacyweb-aid-edu

If I haven’t stressed it enough, dress professionally. The dress code is business professional. Yes it is very hot, yes those shoes are not the most comfortable and yes you have classes. But, it is just one day and wearing a suit is worth it if you can land an internship/job. You can do it, you amazing person! And if you’re desperate to get out of your business clothes, you can always bring clothes to change into afterwards, just please dress it up. If you don’t have dress clothes, Goodwill to the rescue! There are plenty of cheap options and thrift store gems to suit your needs.

Look at your schedule of companies you plan on seeing today, and I mean really look at it. Is it realistic? If you picked only top companies, you should note that the lines are way too long to speak with every company. So go to your top two, preferably when the lines are short, and go down your list from there.  Be sure to visit multiple recruiters as well. There are lots of recruiters there and you could find something else that you end up loving.

Take each interview as a fresh start. So you didn’t do as well on the last one. That’s okay! Don’t let it psych you out. Each interview is an opportunity to impress and an opportunity to improve your skills for the next employer. The next employer will have no idea how you performed previously. It’s all about selling yourself and be sure to not sell yourself short.

Don’t get your hopes up. I know you love love love that company and it would be a dream to get the job. But there are other opportunities and maybe it’s just not the right time.  Consider other offers and don’t limit yourself. It’s a big wide world out there and it’s good to consider other opportunities.

Make sure you get contact information from recruiters. You’ll want a place to send a follow-up letter and a contact to have for the future. It’s always a good idea

ways to contact

Photo by: adikhebat

to take a card, write down an email address or something.

Seriously consider all the options. If you do get multiple job offers that’s wonderful! But how are you going to choose which one? Here are some basic things to consider.

  • How is the pay?
  • Where are you going to be living while you’re working?
  • Have you consider cost of living vs. pay?
  • How long is this position and how will it affect your schooling?
  • Which companies are you most excited about?

There are a lot of things to consider, so don’t make a hasty decision. Be sure to review all of your offers before jumping into one blindly.

Finally remember to breath.  Regardless of the outcome, it’s all about the experience. Just take it in stride. As long as you’re prepared and do your best, it’s going to be a good outcome.

Purdue University’s Industrial Roundtable

10 Sep

Hannah Stewart Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

Industrial Roundtable logo

Industrial Roundtable is coming soon to Purdue starting with seminars on September 15th, the Job Fair on the 16th and 17th, and ending with interviews September 18th through the 20th. This is a huge opportunity for students and employers come to campus looking to connect highly qualified students with internships, co-ops, and jobs. Industrial Roundtable is not just for graduating seniors; anyone can participate and benefit from the events held. And for those of us who aren’t engineers, I would recommend going anyway as sometimes there is an overlap, most companies have positions besides engineers.  Every company needs HR, accounting, or management positions. It’s also a fabulous way to network. So, maybe they aren’t looking for your position now, but if you network, they could contact you when a position opens.

However, this isn’t your high school job fair, this is the real deal. As such, there is definitely some major prepping to do.

Stack of homework

Photo by: Loty

  1. Do your homework. Yes, these companies are coming to us. But these are major companies, some don’t even need to go looking for people, people flock to them. It’s a little bit of a treat and a huge compliment that they are coming to Purdue University. So return the favor. Look them up! See what they are doing, what their motto is, what breaking discoveries or products they have come out with, are they particularly proud of something, etc. Make sure you go into the Industrial Roundtable knowing the company and their representatives. Someone who is excited about what the company is doing will stand out over someone just looking for a job. The Industrial Roundtable website has a list of all the employers coming.
  2. Prep your résumé. Recruiters are not your best friends or family so they don’t know you that well. And they will be conversing with hundreds of other students, sometimes all within the same day. Now is the time to stand out and make a statement. Our campus has the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO), housed with trained employees, who are more than happy to help you with your résumé in order to stand out from the crowd. They can also help you with two other often forgotten aspects: a cover letter, and a follow up letter. It’s up to your discretion if you would need a cover letter, but you should always do a follow-up letter.
  3. Have letters of recommendation prepared because some employers will want them on the spot. Contact old employers, advisors, professors, anyone who can speak highly of you. The more professional the contact, the more it stands out. And double-check that they will write a good letter about you!
  4. Prepare your two minute speech. You have two minutes or less to make a lasting impression of yourself. And you need to sell yourself. Now is not the time to be humble, if you got it, own it and flaunt it. Make sure to check both the CCO website and the Industrial Roundtable website as often times, they list tips on whichquestionsyoushould beprepared to answer.

    business professional examples

    Photo by: Kristian Bjornard

  5. Dress to impress. This is the real deal and its business professional. Be prepared for suits and blazers. If at possible, don’t take your back pack as it can ruin the look and can make an awkward two-minute speech. Recruiters are looking for professionals, so make it easy to see you as one. Many employers won’t even consider someone who can’t look the part. Also, a good outfit is just one more way to stand out.
  6. Make a schedule. Industrial Roundtable tends to have loads of recruiters, representing tons of companies, and typically a pretty sizeable amount of the student population will also attend. It would be impossible to meet with every company and don’t forget you also have classes that you may not be able to/should not skip. So make a list of top ten companies that your experience and background will most likely align with. Be sure to not pick all huge companies or all really popular ones as these will be the busiest and you may only get to two. Be prepared to stand in lines as well.

The biggest thing you should take away from this is that you need to prep and get ready. This is a tremendous opportunity that you don’t want to miss. Even if you don’t feel like you would get a position, go anyways! Practice your communication skills, networking, and preparing your résumé. Just make sure you get ready for it because the companies will be ready for you.

Come back next week, same time, same website for more tips on how to prepare for Industrial Roundtable!


If you have any tips you would like to share please comment below.

Is It Worth It to Own a Car In College?

9 Sep

car in college

Having a car in college can lead to some really fun times. Cross country road trips in the summer, getaway weekends and nights out on the town are all easier for students who bring a car to campus. However, maintaining a car as a student probably costs more than you think. So, when is it worth it?

The Privilege of Car Ownership

There are many advantages to owning a vehicle as a college student. First and foremost is the flexibility and freedom a car affords. You’ll no longer be dependent on other drivers when you’re making plans – simply by having a car you have more say in what it you can do and what you want to do.  And, of course, your commute to campus is likely to be a bit shorter; so hitting the snooze button a few times won’t ruin your morning.

Owning a car in college can help you make and save money, too. Since you can commute a little further, you’ll be able to consider a wider selection of off-campus jobs. And with all that carrying capacity, you can tackle a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single day. If your kitchen is stocked, you’ll cook more and eat out less (and all without hauling groceries on foot or by bus).

Car ownership in college also has benefits beyond daily usage. When you really want to get out of town, having a car will make it happen. This is especially true given how difficult it can be for college students to rent cars at affordable rates.

Important Auto Considerations

gas prices are expensive

Despite all the benefits, however, there are some important financial factors you should consider before you decide to own a car while in college.

Gas is expensive, and it’s going to stay that way. The average car in the U.S. consumes around $1,000 worth of gas each year. If you drive your car regularly, you can probably expect to fill your tank once a week. Before you commit to bringing a car to college you need to determine how much it costs on average to fill the tank and how often you expect you’ll fill it up. If possible, you’ll of course want to bring a car with good gas mileage.

Car insurance is another major cost you’ll need to factor into your budget if you drive during college. Premiums are higher for anyone under the age of 25, whether or not they are enrolled in college. The good news is that, on average, Indiana auto insurance premiums are among the lowest in the country.

You’ll also want to consider the cost of campus parking before bringing your car to school. Here are the Purdue rates for parking permits. You should also make certain you are eligible; this is determined by the distance between your home and the campus.

Finally, when deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile to bring a car to college, you have to budget for damages and repairs. The average car needs just over $400 a year in repairs, not including oil changes. You can save some money changing your own oil and rotating your own tires, assuming you know how to do so safely.

Cost-Effective Alternatives

So what are the alternatives to keeping a car at college? There are a number of great ways to get around in West Lafayette:

  • Public transportation: The bus system in West Lafayette is very interconnected with Purdue. The university is central to the area, meaning the bus system can get you to the campus Lafayette CitBusfrom almost anywhere.
  • Bicycles, skateboards and so on: Bicycling is a great alternative in West Lafayette, and many people make it their main mode of transportation. Skateboarding, rollerblading and walking are also options, especially if you live on or close to campus.
  • Zipcar: The local branch of this car sharing service is available to anyone over 18 and caters to Purdue students, faculty and staff.

The Bottom Line

Because car ownership is such a complex financial commitment, you’ll need to do extensive research before you know whether or not it’s a sensible investment. In a nine-month academic year, AAA reports that the average small car costs more than $3,000, including gas, insurance and maintenance; this doesn’t factor in parking costs and non-standard repairs. As a college student, you can’t afford to gloss over such a pricy and impactful decision.

Karla Lant is a life insurance writer for The Simple Dollar. She helps everyday people understand and master life insurance issues and questions. Lant has dealt with related regulatory issues in her work as an attorney and has researched and published on life insurance and estate planning. She has also taught subjects related to life insurance as an adjunct professor – she is currently an adjunct at Northern Arizona University. Here is her Facebook page

Should You Get School-Sponsored Health Insurance?

3 Sep

superhero might mouse

College students tend to feel somewhat invincible when it comes to serious injuries and diseases. You’re young and in good shape, so why do you need health insurance?

Well, for starters, if you live and study on-campus, you’re constantly in close quarters with hundreds (if not thousands) of other young people — you probably haven’t been encountering this many germs since you were licking toy trucks in kindergarten. Unfortunately, in college, missing school because you’re sick can be much more problematic than it was when you were five.

sick pig with ice pack

Photo by: Ollie Crafoord

Sickness aside, college students are also one of the more accident-prone groups . So whether you’re skiing at Swiss Valley or just riding your bike across campus, it’s good to remember that you’re not actually invincible. This reality check might be hard to accept, but whether you like it or not, it’s critical that you secure health insurance. No one wants to empty their life savings or take out an additional loan just because that late-night sledding expedition went awry.

Most colleges and universities, Purdue included, offer a health insurance plan to all currently enrolled students. This type of coverage is a great option to consider, but it’s not for everyone. Here’s what you need to know about what this plan will cover and what it won’t:

Overview of the Purdue Student Health Plan

As a general rule, if you’re a registered student at Purdue’s main campus in West Lafayette and taking six or more credit hours (or are a co-op student seeking a degree), you’re eligible for the student insurance plan. But be sure to read the fine print. Here are the key points of the plan:

Your deductible: Your annual deductible will not exceed $200 if you receive medical treatment from preferred providers within the Purdue network; if you use out-of-network providers, your annual deductible will double to $400. 

Your maximum benefit: $500,000 per year

Coinsurance: When you visit preferred medical providers, your plan covers 90% of the costs; when you consult out-of-network providers, the insurance covers 70% of the costs.

Out-of-pocket maximum: If you seek treatment from preferred providers, then your out-of-pocket maximum is $1,500 per year; this amount is doubled if you use out-of-network providers.

Coverage: Here is a non-exhaustive list of services you’re covered for (costs are subject to the coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum terms listed above):Female Doctor

  • Inpatient room and board expenses at a hospital
  • Surgeon’s fees
  • Anesthetist
  • Physician’s visits
  • Physiotherapy
  • Outpatient diagnostic X-rays
  • Outpatient radiation
  • Outpatient chemotherapy
  • Outpatient lab services
  • Ambulance services
  • Dental treatment (made necessary by injury to sound, natural teeth only)
  • Mental illness treatment
  • Substance use disorder treatment
  • Maternity
  • Smoking cessation
  • Preventive care services (covered at 100% of preferred allowance)
Cartoon Doctor

Photo by: Angelus

Pharmacy and prescription drug benefits: If you go to the Purdue Pharmacy for your prescriptions, you’re covered at 100% beyond the following copays. Generic prescriptions cost $10, while brand name prescriptions cost $20.

Maternity testing: You’re not covered for all routine, preventive, or screening examinations and testing. If certain conditions are met, you may be able to get coverage for some maternity-related tests, including:

Mandatory benefits: You may be eligible to receive benefit treatments for the following special scenarios:

  • Pervasive developmental disorder (e.g. Asperger syndrome and autism)
  • Diabetes
  • Reconstructive surgery and prosthetic device
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cancer clinical trials

As with every insurance policy, there are a number of exclusions and limitations. Make sure to review the plan details. The exclusions and limitations start on page 19.

Please also note that coverage may differ for certain students. International students, for instance, are required to enroll in the insurance plan; they receive the same maximum benefit, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums as domestic students.

Advantages of the Purdue Plan

  • Preventive care: As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The 100% coverage rate for preventive care is incredibly valuable.
  • Low deductible: If you stay in-network for treatment, you only have a $200 deductible. This is low when compared to many individual plans.
  • Low out-of-pocket maximum: If you stay in-network for treatment, your out-of-pocket maximum will be $1,500 for a year. That may sound like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to an uninsured hospital bill for a broken leg or emergency surgery!

Photo by: Trainer2a

Drawbacks of the Purdue Plan

  • Limited coverage: This isn’t intended to be a fully comprehensive plan. For example, it doesn’t cover vision, hearing, or dental (with the exception of “dental injuries” as specified in the plan).
  • Pharmacy restrictions: If you have your heart set on a pharmacy other than Purdue’s pharmacy, you’ll pay quite a bit extra for prescriptions.
  • Does not cover certain medical equipment: If you require a wheelchair, nebulizer, or other piece of ‘durable medical equipment,’ you’re out of luck (wheelchairs, nebulizers, etc.).

Ultimately, Purdue’s plan is comparable to most school student insurance plans. If you have a chronic condition that won’t be covered under the Purdue policy (for example, something related to your vision or hearing), you might consider alternative or supplemental insurance. You’ll find that most schools (not just Purdue) won’t offer full-scale, comprehensive coverage.

If you’re a student, it’s critical to maintain health insurance protection. Whether or not the Purdue plan is right for you depends on your individual circumstances. Take some time to thoroughly research your school’s plan to ensure it provides coverage for your unique needs including any pre-existing conditions, lifestyle.

Ellen Hunter Gans, M.A., MSc. is a writer, editor and communications strategist who contributes to The Simple Dollar’s credit card portal. The Minnesota native has been writing about finance (among other things) for over four years. Find her on LinkedIn.

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