Archive | December, 2013

Pets in College

23 Dec

Puppy with a Santa hat

Photo by: West Midlands Police

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

I have always had pets in my life. And I didn’t realize how much having a pet in the house meant to me until I moved out and didn’t have a pet of my own. Two weeks into living away from my parents and all of their pets (none of them could be separated to come with me) I started craving a furry companion. I started thinking I wanted a dog, but then after considering (some) of the financial costs, I opted for a cat. Now, my cat turned to be an expensive little guy because of unexpected health issues (just my luck!) and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t financially savvy when picking out a pet. But, I’m going to share with you expenses you should take into consideration before impulsively getting a pet that will hopefully help you make the wisest financial choice.

1.      Initial Start-up Costs

Chances are you don’t have a spare kennel, litter box, litter, food, food bowls, toys, nail clippers, etc. just lying around. But, good for you if you do! Depending on what type of pet you get and what its living conditions will be (can it just roam freely or does it need to be kenneled/in a cage because it’s a rat or amphibian), your immediate expenses will vary drastically. Also, some apartment complexes and landlords have you put down an extra pet deposit and add additional charges to your rent each month per pet in your house.

2.      Getting Your Pet

Cat dressed up for HalloweenIf you decide to a purebred Pomeranian, you’re going to be spending a LOT of money. It may be your dream doggie, but is that really how you should be spending your money during college? There are a few local shelters in our area and they have adorable, adoptable dogs. Other shelters have both cats and dogs that are available for adoption. There are many benefits to adopting a pet rather than buying a pet, but for the sake of this article we are going to talk about expense. Adopting a dog from Natalie’s Second Chance costs $125 for adult dogs and $150 for puppies, this fee includes spaying/neutering, up-to-date vaccines (except rabies), and a microchip. Getting all of these things done on your own (like I did) can cost upwards of $200 and that’s not even including an adoption fee! Almost Home Humane Society did not have prices for their adoptions listed on their website, but they also have an “adoption package” that provides things like spaying/neutering and up-to-date vaccines.

3.      Medical Expenses

Kittens and puppies are baby animals; and like baby humans they require vaccines. All pets need to be vaccinated young and then have yearly booster shots, this is essential to them staying healthy. Sometimes pets get sick, and unfortunately that comes with expenses as well. Emergency trips to the vet aren’t cheap, and you should remember that when deciding if you’re really going to be able to care for that adorable kitten at Pet Smart.

4.      Time

No matter what type of pet you choose, taking care of that pet will require a lot of time and patience. Dogs need to be walked, potty trained, bathed, taken to the vet, crate trained, fed, and

GIF by: Frank Gosebruch

GIF by: Frank Gosebruch

played with. Cats need trips to the vet, cleaned, litter boxes cleaned, and lots of attention. You can’t simply get an animal and expect it to take care of itself. And in college, do you really have the time you need to take care of a pet? To cover the expenses of a pet, you may need to pick up additional hours at work, but then when will you walk Fido? Getting a pet means you will have to work your schedule to include both your needs and theirs, while also having the funds to take care of both.  Maybe you have a roommate or significant other who would be willing to lend a hand in more stressful or urgent situations; but, the pet will become your responsibility, so you should make sure you have the proper time to care for it.

These are just a few tips to get you thinking about your choice in getting a pet. Having a pet is great and it teaches responsibility…But, it also costs money and you have to think about if you’ll be able to afford to give this pet the home it really deserves. If you’ve decided you really can’t afford a pet while you’re in college, one thing you can do is volunteer at either of the shelters listed above. This is a really good way to get the furry friend experience and you’ll be giving back to the community, be sure and visit their websites for more information.

What to do… What to do… Over Winter Break

16 Dec

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

Santa GIF

 

Oh thank heaven finals are over! Let the holidays begin! The presents, the food, family, it’s a great time of celebration and enjoyment, for a while at least. I know it’s hard to believe, but there is a lot of downtime over the holidays and some of us, dare I even say it, get bored. Even if you don’t bore easily, there are plenty of actions you can take that just might make your break a little better.

The spring semester is coming. I know the fall semester just ended and no one wants to think about school over a holiday break, but you can at least prepare.

Grandmother giving stock of money for college savingsLook for books in advance; it can often be cheaper since you can order from Amazon, rent online, etc. Write out your Christmas list, you could always ask for books as a Christmas gift! Money usually is given as a gift too and it might be beneficial to save for rent or other college related expenses.  During the downtime of the holidays, it’s a good time to set and make a budget. It’s also a good time to make next semester’s schedule.

Check your grades early. I know you don’t want to think about it, because the past is past, right? However, there are timelines to contest grades. If you have any questionable grades this is the time when you should be reconciling with your professor. Double check to make sure all you grades have been entered correctly and send emails early and often if needed. Also, double check you’re making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), it is one element to keeping your federal financial aid eligibility. You can always check your SAP status on your myPurdue or contact the Division of Financial Aid as well. Just log in, and under the “financial” tab, click on academic progress on the left, and choose the current academic year. The last tab, Academic Progress, shows your current SAP status.

I cannot stress this enough: the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens up January 1st and must be filed every year that you’re in school in order to receive financial aid. TheFAFSA home screen on-time filer deadline for Purdue University is March 1st every year, DON’T MISS OUT! It’s not just grants and scholarships that depend on the FAFSA; if you have Stafford loans they also require filed a FAFSA. If you don’t have your taxes filed yet, that’s okay. You can use estimated data to file it, mark “Will File” on your FAFSA, and then update it later. It is not a requirement that taxes be filed by the March 1st deadline. It also tends to be easier to file the FAFSA when both parents and students can work together, and the holidays usually provide a perfect opportunity. Although filing FAFSA is not as fun as opening presents on Christmas morning, it’s fast and super important, so make sure to pencil in sometime for it.

Another really important thing about this time of year is that it’s when scholarship applications open up for the next academic year. That’s right, free money is up for grabs, so go apply! Academic advisors typically email students letting them know, but you can also check out this list of Purdue departmental scholarship information.  The Division of Financial Aid also has a General Purdue Scholarship Application that is release December 16th (today 🙂 ) this year and is due by February 1st 2014. Private scholarship applications typically start opening up this time of year too. Two resources for private scholarships are FinAid and FastWeb. So research and apply for scholarships. After all, who doesn’t like free money?

So yes the holidays are here, relax and enjoy yourself! Go have fun and refresh! Just keep these things in mind as they can help for a less stressful spring semester.

10 Steps to Prepare for Next Semester

9 Dec

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

Okay, so it’s about time to make our schedules and pick out classes for next semester. As we move closer and closer to the spring here is a list of things to keep in mind while picking classes:

Is the work load realistic? It’s awesome you want to take 20 credit hours! Is it really that realistic to successfully complete 20 credit hours though? Be honest with yourself and only take what you can handle. Your financial aid, degree, and future job depend on you doing well so don’t set yourself up for a disaster.

What classes do you need? If you know you can only successfully complete 15 credit hours which classes are really important and get you closer to your goal, graduation? I know your best friend is in that class and you really want to be with her, but maybe that’s not the best option for you. And make sure you stay on track. Are you going to graduate on time? It can cost a lot of money if not. Make sure you are taking care of what you need to first.

What time is class? Some of us are morning people, and some of us are definitely not. No one knows you better than… you! Keep in mind part of your financial aid is contingent on participation, which for some that means attending class. If you know you’re going to sleep through a 7:30am class, perhaps there is a better option during a later time. You just might be able to substitute the 7:30am class for another credit altogether.  Check with your advisor for any class switches you could make.

When is lunch? When some of us make a schedule, we pack it as tightly as we can, to be done with the day as soon as we can. Others purposely leave room for a lunch. So look at what works best for you. If you have time for a lunch, packing a lunch is always cheaper. If you don’t have time for a lunch, maybe you don’t need such a large meal plan, see about switching it out for what works best for you and your needs.

feet walking upstairs with text overlay: 10 Steps to Prepare for Next Semester

How are you getting to class? Are you taking the bus? Make sure you check out the bus schedule to see when it starts, stops, if it is on-time, and plan accordingly. Difficult to tell when a bus is on time, there is an app for that. If you’re driving, are you sharing that car? Make sure you work it out with all the necessary parties.

Do you have scholarships? What are the GPA requirements for those? Most Purdue scholarships check your grades in the spring, and only in the spring. If you know you’re not where you need to be, consider taking some GPA booster classes or cutting your work load to get your GPA were it needs to be. Also don’t stop now! If you have a good GPA keep up the good work and don’t lose momentum.

What other financial aid do you have? State and federal aid have minimum credit hour requirements to receive those funds. Make sure you continue to meet those credit hour minimums. You can always see the requirements needed for all types of aid by going to your MyPurdue, look under the financial tab. On the left hand side there is a link that says “Award for Aid Year”. After you click the link you will want to select the 2013-2014 school year. On the award overview tab, all of your aid will be listed with links to the award requirements.

Is your enrollment changing? Typically, financial aid is based on the assumption you will be 12 credit hours or more. If you’re not, let the financial aid office know, before classes start! Re-awarding financial aid is a manual process. Letting the Financial Aid Office know about your schedule changes in advance will save you from headaches.

What are the additional costs? Some courses come with special course fees, like chemistry labs. Can you handle that other cost? All books are not created equal. Keep in mind some textbooks will always cost more. So make sure you consider if the additional financial costs outside of the tuition will be covered. And plan ahead. Often times there are cheaper options for buying books.

Do you have a job? Most employers, especially the ones on campus, are good about working around your class schedule. They are here at Purdue and realize you are a student. That being said, they need to know your schedule. Make sure you give them your schedule and do so well in advance. The early bird gets the worm and the sooner they have your schedule, the sooner they can work around it and give you the hours you need.

What steps do you take to prepare for a new semester?

Making a Budget for College

2 Dec

Karla Lant is a life insurance contributor on The Simple Dollar, helping 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. Karla Lant on LinkedIn

College Student's Letter to Santa

Semester Wish List

There’s no better place to realize you are all on your own, and in need of a real budget, than college. You’re in charge of everything from paying your tuition to paying for dinner. Getting behind on your spending can trigger a spiral into serious debt, which in turn can stop you from graduating. In order to stay on top of things, you need to build yourself a budget. Even if you’ve never made one before and don’t have much money to spare, there’s no need to be discouraged! Keep it simple. These little tips will get you that much closer to mastering the art of the budget – without eating into your scholastic success.

  • Set out exactly how much you want to spend week by week, and stick to it no matter what.

    There are many things that can bump you up and over your weekly budget in sneaky ways, as this article points out. This can mean buying too many “treats,” like expensive coffees, fancy dinner and designer clothes. When in college, it’s easy to get excited about the potential to spend freely for the first time. But in reality, you aren’t getting away with anything. You are simply putting that all-important budget at a major disadvantage. Oh and there’s another major expense that soaks up money: alcohol. I know I sound a bit like your mother, but you already know excess spending on alcohol not only hits the wallet, it hurts your waistband, your grades and even your outlook post-school. Anyway, if you withdraw only what you need each week in cash and spend just that, you’ll be right where you need to be at the end of the year.

  • Think twice before overspending on extras like technology you want but don’t need.

    This infographic shows that college students spend far more than is necessary on these kinds of items, contributing to their debt when they leave school. Consider spending only a small amount every once in awhile on technology and accessories, like video games and movies. If you are in the market for something techy, you should consider shopping used (also selling things you own but no longer want or need) – the same goes for clothes. Make sure you get well acquainted with the thrift stores surrounding the university.

  • College students often spend a great deal of money on entertainment.

    Instead of breaking the bank on fun, get involved with free outdoor activities in your area. Look for seasonal events

    Music Festival

    Photo by: Eva Rinaldi

    and coupons to help you get in for less. Bring your own food and drinks to events when you can, and always carry cash instead of a credit card so you limit how much you spend from the start.

If you make a simple yet firm budget, you can make it through college with significantly less debt than your peers, and great habits that will last you a lifetime. Give it a shot!

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