Archive | October, 2013

Savvy Spender: Best Local Bargains

28 Oct

Macklemore on stage in black and white

Photo by: thecomeupshow

Feeling a bit strapped for cash these days? No worries, you’re not alone. Measly budgets are all part of the college experience, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, fun, comfort…or your credit score!

You can save big money in just about every area of your life if you know how to shop. Fortunately, we have lots of insider tips to get you started.

Clothes

Thrift Store clothes rackThank you, Macklemore, for making thrift shopping not only acceptable but actually trendy. If you’re not already poppin’ tags, you’re missing out.

Lafayette is chock full of thrift shops. Tip: More upscale areas tend to offer a more stylish selection of clothes and accessories. Don’t be surprised if you see name-brand, barely used stuff for pennies on the dollar.

Next time you’re in Indianapolis, make some time to hit up the thrift shops. You can score a lot more than clothing: many shops carry dishes, décor, and other home furnishings.

Bonus: The “vintage” look has never been more in style. Why pay a department store to create that look for you when you can wear authentic vintage clothing for a fraction of the price?

Furniture

Headed for a department or big box store to trick out your dorm or apartment with furniture?

Not so fast. You can score quality furniture for much less if you do so by secondhand. Check out Craigslist for local listings. (Make sure to make safe arrangements, meet in public if possible, and

Photo by: Theif12 Permission by: Creative Commons

Photo by: Theif12
Permission by: Creative Commons

always bring a friend!) You might even find FREE stuff.

You can also use Craigslist or YardSaleSearch to look for yard sales. Also, the beginning and end of each semester are both great times to look around the neighborhood for furniture placed on the curb by people moving out.

Entertainment

Embrace the library — and not just Purdue’s library; scope out the local library as well. You can find really good movies on DVD, as well as music, magazines, newspapers and, of course, books. It’s all free!

Some libraries even offer free downloads of electronic books for your Kindle or iPad.

Zami student housingHousing

Purdue doesn’t require students to live on campus. Make sure you shop around, comparing rates for dormitories and meal plans to rates for apartments in town. Once again, Craigslist is your friend here!

Living with roommates saves money, and the willingness to live a block or two outside the “hot” areas can save big bucks as well.

The Bottom Line

College is a great time to master thrifty tricks. Why pay full price when you can manage the style, entertainment, and lifestyle you want for a fraction of the cost?

BIO:

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.

Invest in Your Financial Future

21 Oct

Girl Purring Money Into Piggy Bank

Photo by: Poppy Thomas-hill

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

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

GIF by: Magellan

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?

Video Games

15 Oct

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

gaming night
Let’s be honest, video games are a gift from God! The graphics, the sound, the mind-numbing emotion-releasing pleasures of video games are one of a kind. But, so are the prices! Getting the ultimate gaming experience doesn’t have to break the bank.

Okay, I know a huge TV with amazing picture would be ideal to see kill shots or graphically intense video sequence scenes. The allure is really strong, but is it financially smart? Have you seen the price tag? Not to mention that in college, our living spaces tend to be pretty small. Do you even have the room for a TV that size? Having a kinetic or other motion detector can escalate the already apparent space issue. There is only so much space available in a dorm room or small apartment.

Halo HelmetFor many, the greatest gaming experience comes with some sweet accessories. You just have to have a headset and microphone, right? And how else do you play but online? Accessories can be expensive, and playing online has a monthly price tag. So here’s an alternative. You’re in college; there are how many other students in your dorm who love to play video games? How many people in your social group can be seen with their eyes glued to the TV, playing video games? We are in college to be social, so be social! Invite your buddies and play with them. Make new friends bonding over that brutal fight scene. There is no reason to pay for online gaming to play with random people when the campus is full of potential gaming buddies. And who wants to communicate through a headset anyways when you can holler at your gaming buddy on the top bunk or a crossed the hall?

New releases of the hottest games are coming out all the time, and sometimes I simply cannot wait for Christmas or my birthday. Maybe that’s not what I should be asking for anyway (Its’s your birthday!) but I really want that new game! I can burn through a game in a week to two weeks. And even if it takes longer, it still eventually gets old and boring. So instead of running out and buying a game, borrow it.  And chances are someone has it. Ask your buddies or around your dorm, and see if you can trade. Some residence halls like Tarkington even let you borrow a game from the office, so take advantage of that.

There’s also the option of renting games. You can use 20th century avenues such as BlockBuster (if you can find one) or even Redbox now has game rentals. You can also rent in the 21st century with GameFly and have the games delivered straight to your door with a straight monthly payment, no fees, and no late charges. And if you just have to own the game, try resale shops like Game Stop to get a better deal before you go and pay full price.

Photo by: Toronto_zombie_walk_2010

Photo by: Toronto_zombie_walk_2010

Having the ultimate gaming experience doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Besides, there are plenty of zombies and enemies just dying to give you theirs.

Your School Laptop: Needs over Frills

7 Oct

Acer Laptop

While you can save a great deal of money by using the computer lab at your school, is it really practical to commit yourself to that lab throughout your day? Many students make use of being mobile and a laptop gives one that freedom. However, many students are sucked in to the allure of buying a new laptop when a used and less powerful one will suffice. You don’t need to spend your waking moments in the school’s lab if you can pick up a cheap laptop that does what you need. What do you need in a laptop in order to succeed in school?

1. Drive Space

Although a large amount of hard drive space is nice to hold a variety of files, most of the files you will have in school are very small. Unless you are in graphic design, your entire school year can be held comfortably on an 8GB flash drive – as long as you delete unused and old files regularly. Realistically, anything over 100GB for a school laptop is overkill. Sure, you want to play your games. However, is this laptop a gaming unit or a school functional device?

2. Graphics

Aside from graphic design and 3D animation courses, you won’t need a heavy graphics processor. For the most part, you will be writing papers and research material on the Internet – neither use intensive graphics. Keep in mind that the cheap laptop you are going to buy for school is not intended to be a gaming unit. Its sole purpose is to function according to your classes.

3. Memory

Additional memory would be nice in order to multitask, but it’s unnecessary for basic courses. If you buy a used laptop, there is a good chance that the previous owner didn’t upgrade it at

Flash Drive

Photo by: Saruabh R Patil

all. If you really need the extra memory in your machine, it could cost you another $20 or so depending on the type and size you need. Again, it’s an affordable method to add power to your laptop without putting yourself into debt with Mom and Dad.

4. Operating System

Sure, using Windows 8 may be a fancy way to travel through school. However, Windows XP and Windows 7 work just as well for what you need. Besides, new operating systems usually increase the price of a laptop by $150 to $200. If you’re looking for cheap, new is not the way to go. You can always upgrade to the latest and greatest once you land your first job out of school.

5. Screen Size

A laptop was intended to be an easy method to make a computer system mobile. You can make due with a 14 or 15-inch screen. It just makes you appreciate better equipment as soon as you can afford such. A laptop doesn’t need to have a 17-inch screen or larger in order to be effective.

Once you have your courses planned out, you can gauge how much you need for a laptop computer system. The chances are you will not need a heavily equipped system that is top-of-the-line costing you a couple thousand dollars. In reality, you can pick up a $300 used laptop off of eBay or similar websites that works perfectly. It’s not about the frills when you are attending school; it’s about the needs of the classes.

Author Bio:

This article is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from ChangeOfAddressForm.com. You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @gmail.com.

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