Archive | May, 2015

50 Free Activities You Can Do This Summer

28 May

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator

two people hiking

Summer break is upon us! You have so much time! You can do so many things! You’re so excited! You’re so….bored.  You’ve got a looong summer ahead of you. We’ve gone ahead and compiled 50 things you can do for free when you’re looking for something to do this summer.

  • Go for a walk
  • Shoot some hoops
  • Visit a local park
  • Learn to do a cartwheel
  • Try to a handstand for a full minute (or longer!)
  • Clean out your freezer
  • Clean out your refrigerator
  • Clean out your pantry
  • Put together a donation bag for the food pantry
  • Volunteer at the food pantry
  • Bake some cookies
  • Take those cookies to your neighbor
  • Bake a cake
  • Learn how to ice a cake
  • Celebrate a celebrity’s birthday
  • Fill your ice trays!
  • Make lemonade
  • Go on a picnic
  • Use your apartment complex’s pool
  • Swim 20 laps
  • Finally learn (or re-learn) how to a flip in the pool
  • Scrub your bathtub
  • Clean the toilet (you know you need to)
  • Sweep the floors
  • Feng shui your bedroom
  • Fluff your pillows
  • Wash your sheets
  • Re-arrange your furniture
  • Clean out your closet
  • Throw away all your almost empty toiletries
  • Take your dog for a walk
  • Volunteer at the animal shelter
  • Invite friends over to play board games
  • Learn how to play a new card game
  • Build a huge domino chain
  • Try not to knock it down
  • Give in and knock it down
  • Read a book
  • Visit your library
  • Read the magazines at your library
  • Take a walk downtown
  • Window shop
  • Go to a grocery store just for the free samples
  • Read The Exponent
  • Read a new blog
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read the news
  • Watch your favorite childhood movies
  • Compete with yourself to see how long you can leave your air conditioner off for the summer
  • Sit outside and enjoy the summer sunshine

Why You Shouldn’t Panic About Your Federal Student Loans

21 May

From WiseBread New Graduate Help Center: Reyna Gobel, Student Loans Expert

girl surprised by letter

Photo By WiseBread

Dear Not-Yet-In-Trouble Federal Student Loan Borrower,

You might have heard that the Department of Education will be sending out letters to millions of student loans borrowers. The letters target borrowers whose grace periods are ending, as well as borrowers who exhibit signs of trouble that could lead to defaulting on their loans. If you haven’t started repayment yet but are fretting about how you’re going to possibly repay all that money — stop worrying.

I’m writing you this letter to not only give you important details about student loan repayment, but also to help you be aware of potential issues well before trouble starts.

I Defaulted — Here’s How to Avoid My Mistakes

I defaulted on a federal student loan simply because I didn’t know it existed. I had over a dozen student loans from different lenders; I forgot about one loan and went into default. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy to avoid. Just log in to the National Student Loan Data System. You’ll see all your federal student loans on this site, along with contact information. Either arrange to pay each individually, or consolidate them into one loan. This is also a great time to get a free credit report – it can alert you to any problems you might have, like having missed a loan or bill payment.

Then, know yourself. If you can’t keep track of each individual loan, you really need to consolidate them into one loan to streamline payments (ask your loan servicer about consolidation options). Once consolidated, you can still choose a plan where payments are based on income, such as Pay as You Earn. And if you’re interested in the public service loan forgiveness program, know that it’s only available through loans originated by or consolidated with Federal Direct Loans.

Realize That Even With the Pay as You Earn Plan, You Might Have Payment Problems

The income-based Pay as You Earn repayment plan bases payments on your income and family size, but it doesn’t fully consider your expenses if your circumstances change. For example, at some point, you may have to help support a sick parent or child. You could also have bought a home when your income was higher. After a pay cut, a majority of your income could go towards your mortgage.

If you experience a financial setback, you have three options:

  • Call your servicer and see if your Pay as You Earn payment amount can be adjusted. You have to supply your income annually, and you may have forgotten to do so this year, causing your payments to set based a higher income level.
  • Ask for a deferment or forbearance, which are temporary payment breaks. Taking a break should only be done if the situation isn’t permanent. Always take a deferment when possible over a forbearance when any of your student loans are subsidized. The government pays the interest on subsidized student loans during periods of deferment.
  • If your income is lower because you took family leave for six months, you may not want to change your plan. However, for long-term pay cuts where your income-based repayment is too high for your budget, you should ask your servicer to also calculate payment options and see which payment option offers the lowest monthly payment.

Don’t Feel Embarrassed If You Don’t Know Something About Student Loans

I wrote two editions of a 240-page book on student loans, and I still don’t know everything about them. I read articles and play with the student loan repayment calculators every day. There’s always something new to learn. For instance, the public service loan forgiveness employer verification form wasn’t created until after the first edition was released. Now, thanks to that form, you can find out if you qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program right away and register for it right after you start working or after you’ve already started repayment — the choice is up to you. Never be afraid to ask your servicer questions about any of these programs.

Talk to Your Friends Who Are or Will Be in Repayment Soon

I’m not the only person who has experience with and advice about student loans. Talking to your friends can help you figure out repayment options and possibly pick better ones based on their choices and experiences. Just remember, they might have different circumstances than you, such as income level, children, or other debt that impacted their choices. Therefore, you shouldn’t copy their decisions. But you’ll be more informed and learn questions to ask your servicer. Plus, they may have missed payments, recovered, and now have advice about that. Learn from others’ student loan mistakes and victories.

The Most Important Part of This Letter?

The help you get doesn’t end here. You can tweet me anytime — @ReynaGobel — and ask questions. My articles will be posted here every week. You can ask me questions in my CollegeWeekLive web chats or get more helpful advice in my book CliffsNotes Graduation Debt.

Finally, remember you never want to receive a “dear troubled borrower” letter. The second you think you might miss a payment, talk to your servicer about options for a payment break or new repayment plan. With federal student loans, that one call will likely save your credit.


Reyna Gobel is a writer, author, public speaker, and student loans expert.  Her financial advice appears on Wise Bread’s New Graduates Help Center, in her video course How to Repay Federal Student Loans, in CollegeWeekLive newsletters and keynotes speeches, and in her audiobook How Smart Students Pay for School, now in its second edition. Be sure to check out her website for more helpful information on repaying your student loans.

Lifestyle Inflation

18 May

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator

hot air balloon; text overlay: Beware Lifestyle Inflation

You’ve graduated. Hooray!

You’ve landed a dream job. Hooray!

And best of all…that dream job comes with more money than you’ve ever had before and now you get to plot out how you’re going to spend all of your riches. You can finally get that car you’ve been eyeing (and ditch your old beater car). You can update your ENTIRE wardrobe because you can’t wear sweats/yoga pants to a real job every day. You can finally buy all organic food and eat out at great restaurants more often. You can get a great apartment with an extra bedroom…because why not? You’ve got money now!

But wait…If you do all of these things, then you’re quickly going to run out of money. And what’s the point of having a regular, decent income if you don’t actually have any money at the end of the month?

It’s important to remember that just because you can afford all of these things doesn’t mean you should actually buy all of them. You want to avoid the deathly trap of lifestyle inflation. Lifestyle inflation occurs when you’re making more than you were before and you spend accordingly (i.e. more money earned equals more money spent). But wait…that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Again though, it isn’t bad (and it may even be fun) until you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck just like you did in college.

If you’re making bank right out of college, invest some of it! Save for a big goal! Don’t starting spending like crazy because now you can buy all the stuff you ever wanted and didn’t even know you wanted. You’ll run out of money fast if you’re not careful.

So…how do you avoid spending every last dime of your new income?

Set a BIG Savings Goal

Now that you’ve graduated college you have more freedom to decide what to do with your time and since you’ve scored your dream job, you have money to play with. What’s something big you want to spend your money on? Some common things would include a house, a wedding, a vacation overseas, your dream car. Some uncommon options could include retiring early or starting your own business. Whatever your goal, own it! Save for it.

Spend Below Your Means

Don’t blow your money on pointless purchases. You don’t have to eat like a college student anymore, but you also don’t need to eat like a King. Maybe you can just have one roommate instead of three. Keep your spending low so that you have room to save your big goal.


This is what it all comes back to. You need to have a plan for spending your money. If you don’t have a plan for where your money is going every month then you’ll quickly run out of money before the month is up.


Do you have any tips for avoiding lifestyle inflation? Let us know in the comments below!

Purdue Graduation Weekend!

14 May

Congratulations to all our Boilermakers who are graduating this weekend!graduation cap

Frugal Living Tips I Learned in College

11 May

close up dollar bills

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator

There is a lot of information out there about how to live frugally, how to retire early, how to DIY this or that or this AND that, and multiple success stories of people escaping debt. It can get overwhelming, and a little hard to translate to college life since most of the sources out there are addressing “life after college.” Here are some tips to make it a little bit easier now rather than later!

Buy your books used

Whether that’s in the bookstore or online or wherever, you will most likely not use that textbook again. This is one of the easiest places to cut costs. However, there can be exceptions; I was an English major and most of my “textbooks” were novels and professors always wanted a specific version of a text, so sometimes it was more convenient to just buy it new, have the right page numbers, and gain a new novel for my shelf in the process. You may also have a newer version of a text written by the professor or a school-specific book and there’s usually no way around buying those new. But most of us find that used books are an accessible option each year for helping reduce costs!

It’s okay to say “no” to friends sometimes

There’s a lot of pressure in college to keep up with a lot of things: school, work, friendships, your finances, applying for jobs after college, keeping up with your family, your weekly TV, etc. That can get really overwhelming really fast! And it can get especially overwhelming if you’re worried about money. And add friends who constantly want to go out and do things…it can be a recipe for financial disaster! Let your friends know that you’re not trying to be a ‘Debbie Downer’, but you’re just really focusing on being smart with your money right now and that means limiting how much you spend. Be sure to always offer a less expensive (or free!) alternative such as a movie night in your residence hall or baking cookies together. Spending time together is often way more fun than spending money together.

Pack your lunch

This is for those who live off-campus or are commuting. You’ll quickly spend a lot of money on convenience food if you don’t watch out. Packing a lunch (or breakfast or dinner, depending on your schedule) can easily save you $3-$10 each day. Plus, didn’t you go grocery shopping this week? You don’t want to waste the food in your fridge. And along these lines…you should try to break your expensive coffee habit. Making up a to-go mug of coffee at home can save you a whole bunch of money every day! And some coffee shops may even offer discounts for using your own mug, so if you need a second cup of joe in the middle of the day, you can save a little that way too.

Just take the bus

It can save you time and money. It’s really not that scary. It is also better for the environment and helps avoid the stress of parking on campus!


What are some of your favorite spending tips you’ve learned in college? Share with us in the comments below!

Mother’s Day Celebration Ideas

7 May

Purdue Student & Peer Counselor

field of dandelions; text overlay: Happy Mother's Day

So you’ve made it through another semester and can’t wait to start your epic Summer of 2015! Before you start planning your legendary road trips and summer escapades, it’s important to remember that Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Yup, May 10th to be exact! With the bustle of the Spring semester behind you, now is a good time to plan on how to make this Mother’s Day epic too!

It’s not always easy to find the perfect way to celebrate your mother or your mother-figure and how much you appreciate them in your life. Most of us struggle each year to find a unique but simple gift that speaks to both our heart’s voice as well as to our wallet’s endurance. Here are a few unique ideas that won’t break the smart budgeting you have been doing all semester!

Make your own flower bouquet!

Ever go to buy a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day and wish you could switch out some flowers for others or rearrange them to fit your mother’s personality? Well, you can and your mom will love that you chose flowers that fit who she is!

Super crafts!

Sometimes just taking your mom out to dinner, setting up a nice brunch, or having a movie night is a great way to celebrate your mom. Some great ways to set the mood for these gifts with style can be in homemade gifts!

Trip Down Memory Lane!

What better way to say, “Mom, you’ve made a difference” than to show that you remember every moment in which your mom impacted your life! You can do just this by trading stories with your mother, sitting down and going over photo albums and family videos, or even by showing an interest in getting to know your mother more as the amazing person she is!

Involve Everyone!

Hey, maybe it’s not just you who your mom has impacted! Set up a surprise Mother’s Day Party for the entire family, and even those who took her as their mom-figure in their lives. Celebrate the connections your mother has with everyone around her, and remind her how much she has mattered!

Everyone’s mom is unique, so sometimes it is just a matter of fitting ideas to who your mom is to you. No matter what you do, it still makes Mother’s Day truly special when you take the time to say in your own way, “Today is My Mother’s Day!”

Do you have any special ways you celebrate your mother on Mother’s Day? Share in the comments below!

Unpaid Internships – How to Save

4 May

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

A lot of colleges at Purdue University emphasis the importance of internships, graduating with working experience, and how the experience will help sell YOU Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)even more to future employers. Unpaid internships pay very little, are a growing trend in today’s economic environment, and can be one of the toughest truths to face about finding a killer internship. Not everyone will be able to find their dream internship and get paid for it.

It’s important to know when starting an unpaid internship that “unpaid interns cannot do any work that contributes to a company’s operations”; these internships are meant to be educational for the intern and are not meant to provide free labor for businesses. Financially, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when pursuing an internship: pay, cost of living, cost of transportation, potential moving costs, subletting your current place, validity of the internship… The list goes on and on. Looking at a huge list of to-dos can seem overwhelming and can make you question whether or not the internship is even worth it. But, luckily, if you give yourself enough time to plan ahead, finding the right internship is a breeze.

The simplest solution to your internship dilemma would be to find a local, or fairly local, company that is flexible enough and willing to fit the internship within your schedule. In this case, you won’t have to search for new housing or sublet your old housing or anything of that nature. This is an ideal internship situation from a financial standpoint. You may not be able to find your dream internship this way (commuting to New York City every week from West Lafayette Indiana is kind of impossible) but, you could still get a great internship, gain experience, and start to learn the ways of your trade, all while saving some money.

Another solution would be to start planning now for next year. This is necessary from a financial standpoint, especially if you know that your dream internship will not pay well. Saving is the most important step in preparing for an internship. Work a lot now and save what you earn in order to afford your dream internship. While flipping burgers or ringing up customers may not be what you want to do for the rest of your life, you can earn money while doing it and you can pick up extra shifts to score some spare cash.

houseYou’ll also want to figure out your housing situation. If you’re renting now and your lease is continuing while you’re away, are you allowed to sublease? If you are, you should want to start advertising as soon as possible so you can line up your own housing near your internship. Also, if you have classmates who will be interning near the same location sharing a place can make rent more affordable and save you more money. You may have to start cutting corners during the school year to save, but it will all be worth it when you finally get to your dream company and start gaining real word experience.

A third solution would be to find an internship near your hometown. You’ll be home with your parents, but so what? You could live rent-free, have lessened commuting expenses, and still gain experience in a new position. However, finding an internship could be difficult to impossible depending on where you are from.

Lastly, there are virtual internships which are becoming increasingly popular and possible in today’s technological work force. These types of internships allow you to work from anywhere; you never have to set foot in the real office. Virtual internships allow students to work for a company from wherever. Because of advancements in technology, virtual internships are becoming more common and more practical.

Gaining experience in the work force and in your area of study is really important especially if you want real world working experience when you graduate with your degree, but it shouldn’t Walletstrain your wallet, either. Planning ahead, like with most things, can help save you a lot of stress and also a lot of money.

The process of even finding an internship can be difficult. Luckily, Purdue has a lot of great resources to help students as they search for internships.

The Purdue Center for Career Opportunities has a list of different categories of internships.  The CCO is also a great resource in preparing for career fairs, writing resumes, and practicing interviewing skills.

Interns for Indiana works to provide students with opportunities in high-tech areas located in Indiana.

Purdue offers jobs and internship opportunities to students here on campus.

Good luck on your internship search!

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