Archive | February, 2015

Just a friendly reminder to…

28 Feb

file your fafsa now

America Saves Week 2/23-2/28

27 Feb

Start saving today! Take the pledge!

America Saves Week Poster


7 Ways to Turn Saving Money into a Habit

26 Feb

By Brittany Lyte, Wise Bread

The spending and saving habits of your past don’t define your future — your current ones do. And this America Saves Week is a great time to start with a clean slate. Hitting the reset button won’t cure all your financial woes, but when it comes to adopting good saving habits it’s truly half the battle. The other half, of course, is drafting a well-planned road map for success. Luckily, we’ve got a primer to get you started. Read on for our guide to adopting seven money-saving habits that stick.

Set a Goal

How much money would you like to save? And for what?

When you pinpoint a clear savings goal — be it a new car, a down payment on mortgage, or a backyard swimming pool — it becomes a whole lot easier to conjure up the self-restraint required to achieve it. It needn’t be a big ticket item, either. Simply having a goal to visualize, like a college savings account for your children or a fund for spontaneous weekend escapes, will help keep you focused, motivated, and disciplined.

Map Out a Timeline

Once you’ve figured out what you’re saving for and how much money you’ll need, it’s time to figure out how long it will take to reach your goal. If you want to save $4,000 for a trip to France, for example, figure out how much money you’re willing and reasonably able to part with each paycheck and then calculate how many paychecks it will take you to get there. This savings plan is the roadmap that will help steer you to the day when you’ve finally saved enough money to book those airline tickets.

Set Benchmarks

The act of consciously putting away a set amount of money on a set schedule will help build the muscle memory you need to turn saving money into a habit. And since this is the key to adopting a new behavior that will serve you long after you’ve reached this particular savings goal, it’s important to stay on track. Break down your timeline into weekly, monthly, and quarterly savings targets and be sure to verify that you’re meeting them every time.

When you take a large goal and compartmentalize it into a series of smaller ones, it becomes a whole lot easier to accomplish.

Start Small

If you’re struggling to make ends meet and the idea of feeding your family, filling up the gas tank, and paying the bills while also contributing to your savings account seems impossibly daunting, remember that no amount you invest in your savings is insignificant. Even $1 a day makes a difference. The key is identifying the largest amount of money you can commit to stowing away on a regular basis without thwarting your ability to make good on all your other financial obligations. Don’t shortchange yourself, but beware of setting a goal that’s overzealous. The process of meeting your goal should be a challenge, but it shouldn’t be impossible.

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself when you reach major savings milestones to help keep up the momentum. For example, after a month of successfully meeting your weekly savings benchmark, treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant or grant yourself the license to splurge (a little!) on your next shopping trip. Remember, your reward needn’t require you to spend any money, and it certainly shouldn’t bump you off track. A relaxing home pedicure, a guilt-free movie marathon, or a sunset stroll through the park does the trick just as well as anything you can buy.

Don’t Let Yourself Slip

Likewise, it’s important to implement consequences in the event that you fall short on one of your savings benchmarks. If you come up 20% shy of your quarterly benchmark, hold yourself accountable. Spend a night in that you otherwise would have spent out on the town. Calculate how much money you saved by forgoing an evening of food and entertainment and funnel that amount straight into your savings account. Then break out your savings timetable and devise a new plan to help get yourself back on track.

 Snuff Out Your Bad Habits

If you’re still struggling to stick to your plan, see if you can identify any wasteful spending habits  so you can nix them. Keeping track of every outgoing dollar over a two-week period can reveal unhealthy spending habits you never knew you had. Online budget planners offer easy tools to score and analyze your every dollar, but old-fashioned pen and paper works just fine.


What will you do during America Saves Week to kick off your new savings habit?

Brittany Lyte is a columnist for Wise Bread (+WiseBread) — top personal finance blog and winner of PC Magazine’s Top 100 Website Award.

52 Week Money Saving Challenge

25 Feb

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard of this “Money Saving Challenge” yet! It seems to be one of the more popular “Money Challenges” circulating the internet right now. The idea is that you print off a chart (example chart seen below) telling you how much you need to be saving each week (e.g., $1 the first week, $2 the second week, etc.), and then tape it to a jar that you then fill with the cash that you’ve been saving.

52 Week Money Savings Challenge

This is a great idea, right?! And it’s an especially great idea for those of us who need a little help saving money because the steps are laid out for you on a piece of paper with the money. You don’t even have to remember how much to put in, just look at the sheet! And who doesn’t like checking things off a list? I know it makes me feel accomplished.

As one blogger pointed out though… You might not gain the motivation you need if you follow this particular chart. When you’re a full one month into the challenge, you’ll only have saved $10… so she has a valid point. Her suggestion is to flip it around backwards: Week One save $52, Week Two save $51, and onward. That way, after just one month you will have $202 saved! That’s a much nicer start than $10. Plus, if you start this around the beginning of the year, you won’t have to put as much into your savings jar during the holiday season. This is a great idea…but might be kind of challenging as a college student because money is already pretty tight and starting at $52 is a lot of money. Flipping it is just a way to jumpstart your progressive savings. The point of either challenge though is to progressively save as much as possible over your set period of time and to notice how much you are able to save.

While, where you’re storing your saved money is completely up to you though, this blogger also suggests putting this money into a savings account instead of a jar so your money can accrue interested (and so you avoid the temptation of spending it!). Some people like watching the actual, physical paper money build up in a jar and others prefer watching their money grow digitally through their online banking (again, while accruing some nice interest). Both are completely valid ways of building your savings because either way, you are saving! Because saving early is important for a secure future, whichever will keep you more motivated is the way you should go.


Are you up for a savings challenge like this? Have you tried one before? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to follow #ASW2015 on Twitter for more savings tips this week!

Cash: The Ultimate Saver #ASW2015

24 Feb

This post was originally published on June 30, 2014. In honor of America Saves Week, we’re sharing our most popular savings blogs and favorite savings tips this week. #ASW2015

Kyle Koneval – Peer Counselor, Majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management

Twenty Dollar Bills

My high school government teacher always taught us to “spend-save”. Confusing, right? Spend. Save. How can you do one while doing the other? After some thought, and more spending experience, I have found a way to save while spending money.

Money burns a hole in your pocket

My father always told me when I was a boy, “money burns a hole in your pocket”. Unlike using a card when you pay with cash the money is taken directly from your pocket. Seeing the cash physically taken for a purchase can lead to better spending habits, and possibly more savings. The idea of seeing money literally slip between your fingers can hit home, especially for purchases that may be deemed unnecessary afterwards.

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

Change is a beautiful thing

Anytime I see change on the street, floor, couch, etc. it is always a good day, no it is a great day! Those seemingly harmless pennies, dimes, and nickels can add up over time. When using cash, there is always a chance you will receive change. This change can be put into a piggy bank, cup, jar, or anything that will hold it for use later, but not a vending machine. Saving change can be described as a game to some people, and Danny Iny has a perfect example of this. He made it a ‘game’ to save his change. Making anything into a game brings out the competitive side in almost everyone. Who doesn’t want to win? We challenge ourselves, and when that challenge is met, or exceeded, we take pride in this feat.

…Who really misses those few coins weighing you down?

A lot of people these days do not like to carry around a pocket full of change. It can be noisy and bothersome. Some of my friends hate change so much that they give it to me when we get a late night snack somewhere. I’m never one to turn down change; I accept change knowing that I just earned more toward my current savings goal. “A penny saved is a penny earned”, as my friend Ben Franklin would say.

Goal setting for the future

counting money

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Frankie J. Colbry

No goal is too ridiculous, but some goals can be short of what you can achieve. Set a goal with your piggy bank: a new pair of shoes, the newest video game, a vacation or even bigger RETIREMENT. Setting realistic, but difficult goals help us to challenge ourselves to win the ‘change game’ and can be worthwhile. When starting a change jar, you need to set a goal and a time frame to meet that goal. My current goal is to fill a 3 foot bowling pin and see how much change it can hold. As silly as it may seem, it is attainable, not ridiculous, and doesn’t fall short of what I can do.

There are many different ways to develop your own strategy for saving your change, so find your ‘game’ and try to get the high score. There are pros and cons to using cash. Seeing the visual transaction can help deter bad spending habits but saving the change from cash transactions can make even bigger changes overtime.

This America Saves Week: Take Your Financial Future into Your Own Hands

23 Feb

By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Director

America Saves Week, February 23 – 28, 2015, is the perfect time to review your finances, set your savings goals for the year, and set up a system that will allow you to save automatically. That’s why the America Saves Week theme is – Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically.

Did you know that only half of Americans report having good savings habits? Even if you are already saving, it’s good to take a look at your greater financial picture and decide whether there’s potential to save more or set a new savings goal. Join thousands of others who are pledging to pay down debt, save money, and take financial action during America Saves Week.

Not sure what to save for or what to save for next?

Here are the most popular saving goals of those who have pledged to save through America Saves:

  • Save for Emergencies – Research has shown that low-income families with at least $500 in an emergency fund are better off financially than moderate-income families with less than this amount. Nearly a quarter of savers who have taken the America Saves pledge have chosen “emergency savings” as their first wealth-building goal. Learn more.
  • Save for Retirement – Retirement savings is a top priority for many savers. Saving for retirement now will ensure that you have enough money to maintain a comfortable standard of living when you stop or reduce the amount of hours you work. Learn more.
  • Save for Education – Saving for education is the second most popular goal savers select when they pledge to save with America Saves. There are many different things to factor in when saving and paying for college. Learn more.
  • Pay Down Debt – Getting out of debt is the #3 goal savers select when they pledge to save. The good news is that there is hope. With planning, discipline, patience, and maybe some outside help, almost anyone can reduce their debts and start to accumulate wealth. Learn more.
  • Save for a Home – For decades, home ownership has been the main path to wealth for most Americans. Today, home equity – the market value of a home minus the balance on any home loans – represents more than four-fifths of the typical family’s wealth. Learn more.

Not sure how to save for your goals?

Here are some saving strategies to help:

  • Save Automatically – The easiest and most effective way to save is automatically. This is how millions of Americans save at their bank or credit union, and how millions of employees save through 401(k) and other retirement programs at work. Learn more.
  • Save at Tax Time – Do you spend weeks eagerly anticipating your tax refund? When the money finally comes in, is it gone tomorrow? Many people view tax refunds as unplanned bonuses. They see the money as a gift from the government, to use for splurges or treats. But a tax refund provides the opportunity to improve your financial situation.  Learn more.

Take the America Saves Pledge, or re-pledge, today to set your savings goal and make a plan to save. When you take the Pledge, you can also choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save for your goal. And don’t forget to follow America Saves on Facebook and Twitter.


America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

Favorite Savings Tips

19 Feb

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

girl rolling pant cuff; text overlay: Favorite Savings Tips

I love being thrifty and saving money. Who doesn’t?! I have a whole list of things, big and small, that I do to save money every day/week/month/year and I enjoy writing about those things and then sharing them with you! In honor of America Saves Week (on Twitter follow #ASW2015) starting next week, I’ve rounded up my favorite ways to save money so I can share them with you…and none of them include cutting out your coffee habit (even if everyone says you should!) or turning down your thermostat (because you already know you should do that).

Thrift Shop

While I was in college, half of my closet was purchased at the local Goodwill, and even after graduating a majority of it still is. Spending exorbitant amounts of money on clothes just isn’t reasonable all the time, especially if you’re trying to save money. One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday is to make a mug of hot tea and hit the thrift shops in town. It takes all daybut very little money. And it’s fun! If you’re patient and willing not to pay too close attention to the size label on a piece of clothing, you can find really great outfits at these shops. I also buy a lot of my furniture from thrift shops too because of great deals and unique styles that fit me.

Have a Meal Plan & Actually Eat Those Meals

Making up a meal plan for the week may sound lame because it’s something that only moms do (or is that just mine?) but it’s incredibly helpful when putting together a grocery list. Plan out your meals for the coming week one night (this may take an hour the first time). Then go grocery shopping the next day and do any prep (i.e. wash your fruits and veggies) you need to do the same day so you don’t have to worry about it later. Keeping a menu on your fridge can help you stay consistent with this also. Plus having your meal plan stare you in the face will really guilt you out of ordering that pizza next Tuesday…

Track Your Spending

How are you supposed to know where you need to cut back on your spending if you don’t know where you’re spending? I use Mint, but there are a lot of other options out there for tracking your spending. There’s also the good old pen-and-paper method or spreadsheet on your computer; you’ll want to hang onto your receipts if you plan on going this route.

Always Put Money in Savings First

This is also commonly known as “paying yourself first.” That phrase never made sense to me though because I want to pay myself in shoes and burritos…but that doesn’t put money in savings. But if you think of it as paying your future first, that puts it in perspective. It can be hard to put away money every month if you don’t have something you’re saving for though. So instead of thinking about how many burritos or pairs of shoes I can buy with the money I need to save, I started to think about what I wanted to save towards in my future. Maybe you want to study abroad next year or in two years  complete a for your professional development (i.e. that dream internship of yours that happens to be unpaid); save towards that future first…and buy burritos later.

What are your favorite ways to save? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to follow #ASW2015 on Twitter for more savings tips next week!

Why Should I File a FAFSA?

16 Feb

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

Clock with text overlay: Why Should I File a FAFSA?

So now that you know what financial aid is and have looked over the resources we provided you two weeks ago, but you’re still not sure if you should file a FAFSA. Here is some additional information that may help you decide why you should to file a FAFSA.


If you’re unsure because you don’t know if you would qualify for anything, file anyway! Students are eligible for federal loans regardless of their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). These loans consist of Stafford and Parent or Graduate PLUS Loans but you have to file a FAFSA in order to qualify for them each year.

Federal Work Study

Interested in getting a job this year? Filing a FAFSA can make you eligible for Federal Work Study; this is money you can earn through a part-time job on your college’s campus. Like federal loans, you cannot receive Federal Work Study without filing a FAFSA. There is even a box to check on the FAFSA to show that you’re interested in receiving Federal Work Study, if you’re eligible as Federal Work Study does have an EFC requirement. Many jobs here at Purdue either require or prefer that their student employees qualify for Federal Work Study as it is a major benefit to them; the larger portion of your wages are paid for by the federal funding your receiving and your employer may only have to pay 30% of your wages. As said before, there is a need-based component to Federal Work Study, but you’ll never know if you’re eligible if you don’t file a FAFSA.


Many colleges have scholarships that are merit-based, but require that you have a FAFSA on file. So if you don’t file a FAFSA, you could be out of the running for some scholarship money.

Filing on Time

Another very important component of filing your FAFSA is filing it “on-time.” For Indiana residents, the “on-time” deadline is March 10th for any State aid consideration. For Purdue University, the “on-time” priority filing date is March 1st. You need to have your FAFSA in by this date in order to receive the maximum amount of aid for which you are eligible. If you are currently receiving any State aid, your FAFSA must be filed by March 10th in order to receive your State aid that year; this includes the 21st Century Scholarship, Frank O’Bannon Higher Education Awards, and the National Guard Supplemental Grant. Also, if you’re currently receiving a Child of Disabled Veteran’s and Officer’s (CVO/CDV) Fee Remission, you have to have a FAFSA filed every year in order to maintain eligibility.

Purdue students will want to file their FAFSA by March 1st to meet Purdue’s priority filing deadline. Incoming freshmen to Purdue who filed their FAFSA by this date or “on-time” can expect to receive their financial aid award mid-March and continuing students at Purdue who filed “on-time” can expect to receive their financial aid award mid-June. Feeling anxious? You can also check out the CollegeBoard Net Price Calculator to get an estimate of the aid you might be eligible for at Purdue.

The Purdue University Division of Financial Aid has also created a step-by-step guide on How to Apply for Financial Aid checklist on their website.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

2 cupcakes on a plate


“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

-Charles M. Schulz

How to Make This Valentines Day Yours!

12 Feb

Written by: Purdue Student, Valentine’s Ninja

Dwight from the Office: Do you have a date for Valentines Day? Yes. February 14th.

Valentine’s Day!  A holiday that triggers excitement (or disgust) in many Americans. Or maybe you feel both? You just succeeded in manifesting the overall theme of one of the most confusing and expensive (both emotionally and financially) holidays within American culture!

But the thing is, it’s not rough because there is heartbreak and disappointment (although this may be the case for some striving to emerge from their cocoon of singledom). It’s rough because of the cultural and social pressure; roles must be played, customs must be adhered to, very “special” and specific and mass-produced things must be purchased… All of which you are constantly reminded (by TV ads and the local pharmacy) to adhere to. And in the end you may find yourself not entirely satisfied by the result.

So why not make this Valentine’s Day your Valentine’s Day instead of the typical Hallmark holiday? You may ask, “How could I possibly do that?!”

Here are just some ideas to make Valentine’s Day about your love and only your love. And keep in mind, we aren’t just talking romance love; we’re talkin’ friendship, kinda friends, frenemies, relatives, mom, dad, and of course cats (Don’t claw me, Mr. Snuggles! You were first in my mind!).

First off, food is a major love igniter for any person worth loving; this is basic human nature. The major question is: what types of foods would be appropriate for your target Valentine? Some ideas could include the following:

valentines sweets galore

Photo by:

Yeah, you’re not making anything that is in that picture. Let’s be honest. None of us are that fancy.

  • Want to make your own candy hearts and send messages to your Valentine of choice? There’s a recipe for that! Not sure what to put on them? Try fitting these fancy quotes!
  • What’s that dessert people on TV always mention? Tiramisu! Make this and one-up your roomie, who insists that their love life is better than yours (but you know it’s not because you’ve caught them in the library more than once when they were “on a date”).
  • Death by Chocolate!
  • More ideas can be found here and here because writing this is making me hungry!

If you are against giving candy, then you are amongst the long dead of the past (congrats!). That is, giving candy for Valentine’s Day was not really the custom in most Western societies until the 1840’s when sugar stopped being reserved for the beautifully bustled upper-class. (You just got hit with a FUN FACT, tell your friends.)

Grumpy Cat: Be Your Valentine? No.Not a cook but don’t mind paper cuts?! Then how about making homemade Valentine’s Day cards or paper flowers or paper cupids arrows?

Want to mix candy and crafts? YOU CAN DO THAT TOO!!! You can substitute whatever candy you want. Personally, I like putting colorful nerds in a small vial or bottle and calling it a love potion (because everyone wants candy and so no one will deny me then, right, Mr. Snuggles?*).

But let’s remember that knowing the force behind the battlefront is just as helpful in determining your next move. So, grab your chosen Valentine and learn together!

Valentine’s Day is filled with all sorts of fun facts, such as that single men tend to outnumber single women (which I am not sure how to take…), and that St. Valentine is the patron saint of “beekeepers and epilepsy”, and passing out takes on a whole new meaning to making someone swoon.

But really, none of this matters at the end of the day when you know that you share a bond with someone (whether it be your lover, spouse, frenemy, or cat) that has outlasted all the challenges faced. Just take Valentine’s Day the same way I do (or don’t, it’s your day!), as an excuse to make dinner for a family I do not typically see.

And just to end on a sweet note (see what I did there?), here are some images and interpretations of Valentine’s Day all around the world.


2 cats sitting on stairs

Photo by: Madison Duncan

*Our editors would like to add that while we are all for pets as Valentines (love you, Mr. Snuggles!) we do not endorse giving chocolate or candy to your pets, as that could make them seriously ill.

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