Archive | March, 2016

Frugal Dates Ideas in West Lafayette

17 Mar

So, you’ve met the boy or girl of your dreams here at Purdue and you’ve finally struck up the courage to ask them out. The only problem is that you’re a college student and money is tight! Fortunately, there are plenty of low to no-cost date options that won’t make you look like a cheapskate. And they’ll probably be flattered by your creativity.

Have a picnic

A picnic is a great alternative to having dinner at an expensive restaurant. You can purchase food on campus (at Fresh City Market, perhaps?) or take the bus to Meijer or Wal-Mart for your picnic needs. Get creative! If you have food lying around your dorm or apartment, make a meal out of it! Don’t let it go to waste. Then, all you need is a cozy blanket and a shady spot to share a meal.

Take a walk or bike ride together

The campus is beautiful this time of year and there are plenty of grounds to explore. You may also want to branch out. Happy Hollow Park in West Lafayette has plenty of trails. Taking a walk together is a great way to spark up a wealth of conversation. If you both have bicycles, you may consider riding your bikes together.

frugal date ideas west lafayette-sq.jpg

Exercise together

This option may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, the Co-Rec has plenty of fun options. You don’t have to lift weights or run on the treadmill if you’re not up for it. Explore the rock climbing wall together or go for a swim. You don’t have to break a sweat if you don’t want to!

Share a group date

Pizza, anyone? Group dates are a great way to cut costs because you can split the bill. This is also a good way to get to know one another without the awkward silences, as you will have friends there to help you out!

Plan a study date

If you met your dream guy or girl in a shared class, perhaps you could schedule a study date. Not only is it free, it’s beneficial to your academic career! You could find a nice spot outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, or hit up a library together.

Volunteer together

Who could say no to cuddling with cute animals on a first date? Volunteering together is a great way to give back to the community and get to know one another. It also looks great on a resume. Almost Home Humane Society and Natalie’s Second Chance are great places to volunteer, because who can resist the little fluff balls? But maybe puppies and kitties aren’t your thing. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to get involved in your community and give back. You may want to contact the Lafayette Urban Ministry, as they are always looking for willing volunteers!

You don’t have to break the bank to win over your soul mate. Asking someone out is nerve-wracking enough without worrying about how you’re supposed to afford a five star meal. Being a college student will pay off eventually, but right now, we all understand the struggle. Do you have any foolproof frugal date ideas? Let us know below!

Grocery Shopping in College

16 Mar

Jo Marshall, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Now that winter has faded away, there’s one less reason to avoid grocery shopping and get delivery instead. Even if you’ve somehow avoided grocery shopping until now, this is the perfect time to do it!

You have decided to take the leap—the leap from childhood to adulthood. You are going to try to make your own food! …but first you have to buy ingredients. Grocery shopping can be an adventure in and of itself. Just finding the correct items in the grocery store and maintaining your budget can be a challenge.

The first time I decided to buy groceries, I chose to go to Walmart. I didn’t have a car and I knew that the bus route would take me directly to the store and back to campus. Even so, I was terrified that I was somehow going to end up stranded. I boarded the correct bus, but once the bus reached Lafayette, the driver announced that we were changing routes. Purdue’s campus was far off in the distance and I didn’t know what to do. Surely I could find another bus, but what if it also changed routes? I had to think fast. I found another bus that was heading to Walmart and decided to take my chances. Luckily, this bus stayed on route.

It wouldn’t have been that stressful, had I taken the time to look around on http://www.gocitybus.com/ to see which routes could get me there. Go City Bus even has a smartphone app that allows you to see where the bus is at any time. Because I hadn’t prepared myself for the trip, going to the store took longer than normal, and I was hungry upon arrival.

bus floor and seats; text overlay: Grocery Shopping in College

When I reached Walmart, I grabbed a cart and very slowly walked around the store. It’s not that I wanted to be lackadaisical, but rather that I wanted to find the items and I had no idea where they would be. I arrived in the aisle for my first item and was bombarded by the immense array of colorful advertisements and choices. I had never realized how many different kinds of cereal there were! Not only are there lots of different kinds of cereal, there are also lots of different brands of every single kind.

The thing about having a lot of choices available is that you are frequently faced with the choice of buying a cheaper and potentially lesser quality item, or spending more and getting an item that may not be better than the cheaper option. On this particular shopping trip, I made some poor choices when it came to which brand to buy. I spent more money than I had planned and came home with things that I didn’t need because I had been hungry. I also forgot several of the items that I needed the first few times that I went to the store.

As I learned after a few shopping trips, it’s best if I follow a few rules when I go. First and foremost, I no longer go grocery shopping if I’m hungry. If I go shopping when I’m hungry, I buy way too much junk food. It’s better if I take the time to eat beforehand. Secondly, I have learned that it’s best if I carry a grocery list. This helps me not to forget anything and prevents me from buying items I don’t need. It also enables me to estimate how much money I will be spending so that I know whether or not I am going to stay within my budget. Finally, I have learned from experience which items are okay to buy cheaply and which items areworth spending more money on. This is my personal preference but it’s definitely worth trying different brands to find the best and cheapest option for you.

I hope that you can learn from my mistakes in order to stay within your budget and experience less frustration than I did the first time you go grocery shopping. Shop away!

Spring Break Is Here! … Now What !?!

15 Mar

 

Splash park

Spring Break is here and I am excited! Are you? Even though it has felt like spring for most of the winter, finally time off from classes is here.  Are you looking to save money on activities, spend time outdoors, or find indoor activities when the weather isn’t stunning? The Greater Lafayette Area is brimming with outdoor activities during the summer from parks to trails to outdoor performances. You can visit the Lafayette-West Lafayette website hereto get more information on all the outdoor activities this summer.  I’ve gone ahead and summarized some of the activities below.

Lafayette/West Lafayette/Tippecanoe County Parks

West Lafaeytte ParksLafayette alone boasts 17 parks. Some of these parks have trails, some parks have pools, most of them have picnic shelters, and some of them are just soccer fields with a concession stand. Not to mention there are 12 more parks just across the river in West Lafayette! There are 3 sizeable parks with hiking trails in West Lafayette (the Celery Bog Nature Area only is 195 acres!) for hikers and casual nature lovers to enjoy. But in my opinion, the most diverse parks lie outside of city limits in Tippecanoe County. The Tippecanoe Battlefield in Battle Ground, Indiana, features a lot of history, including a monument in honor of the Battle of Tippecanoe; it’s also the start of the Wabash Heritage Trail.

Wolf Park

Located in Battle Ground, this park is a sanctuary for, you guessed it, wolves. It’s also home to coyotes, foxes, and bison. They have limited Photographer taking pictures of a wolfhours (1PM – 5PM Tuesday through Sunday) but it only costs $8.00 for an adult, $6.00 for children 6-13, and free for children under 5 to get into the park. There’s a BUNCH of fascinating events happening over the summer also, including Howl Nights every Friday and Saturday where guests have the opportunity to see the wolves in the evening and hear them howl, something you can’t experience during normal business hours.

Outdoor Art Trail

If you’re into 3-D art, this is the walking tour for you. Scattered across both Lafayette and West Lafayette are dozens of outdoor art pieces that you can walk around and see. There’s even a handy online map for routing out your own personal trail for the day. More information on the art pieces (like Candy Change’s “Before I Die” murals here in West Lafayette) can be found online to give you some background on what you’re going to go see.

Prophetstown State Park

Not only is this one of Indiana’s newest state parks, it’s also full of fun activities to do this summer. You can hike, ride your bike down the bike trails, camp, or even swim for a small fee in the Family Aquatic Center. Also close nearby is the Farm at Prophetstown, where you can take a tour of a horse-powered farm and learn about agriculture.

…but what if it’s raining?

Raining on WindowThere’s still plenty to do around the Lafayette area indoors too!

-Visit some of the area’s art galleries or take an art class (glass working, anyone?)

-Check out the area’s nightlife. Whether you’re a pub or a coffeehouse kind of person there’s something for you. Most places offer live entertainment on Friday or Saturday nights too.

– Love all things vintage? Head to downtown Lafayette and check out all the antique stores on the “Antique Trail”. (Or pop over to the Tippecanoe Mall to completely avoid the rain and shop both vintage and major retailers – the vintage store Hot House Market!)

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Greater Lafayette Area during the summer? Let us know in the comments below!

Getting to Chicago during Spring Break

14 Mar

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

There comes a time in every Purdue student’s life when they just want to escape from campus (or Indiana in general) for a few days, and Spring Break is an ideal time to do this. They want to go somewhere where there are fewer cornfields, more of a night life, and various food options. One of the biggest cities near Purdue is Chicago, so it’s a common place for students to go for a short or long weekend. If you’re ready for your weekend getaway but don’t know your cheapest transportation options, I’ve gone ahead and listed a few of your options. Some of the numbers I’ve listed below are for a specific weekend, which I’ve noted, so you’ll want to double-check your travel dates to verify the prices.

Lafayette to Chicago (Friday August 2nd to Saturday August 3rd)

Amtrak 

Amtrak Station

3/16: Departs from Lafayette at 7:36 AM, arrives in Chicago at 10:05 AM ($36)

3/20: Departs from Chicago at 5:45PM, arrives in Lafayette at 9:57PM ($36)

Total Cost: $72 and up

Total Time: 8 hours, 9 minutes

Don’t forget about how you’ll be getting around once you get there. If you just plan on walking around town, plan to be tired Chicago is a BIG place with LOTS to see. This way, you will not spend extra funds on your travel expenses. If, however, you plan to use the bus or subway, you will definitely be spending extra on that and should budget accordingly.

Driving

2 hours from West Lafayette to Chicago (122.5 miles)

2 hours from Chicago to West Lafayette (122.5 miles)

Gas: National Average at $1.93/gallon

Total Cost: $24 and up

Total Time: 4 hours

If you’re averaging 20 miles/gallon, it will take about $24 in gas to get you to and from Chicago. However, this does not include paying for parking or any driving you may do around the city. Parking runs anywhere from $3-$15/hour depending on the time and place you go. There are some parking lots in the heart of the city that offer flat rates for the entire day on the weekends, but you really have to search for these good deals and (as an effect of this) which could use up even more gas and money. There are several apps that you can download on your phone which can help you compare parking prices. Sometimes the difference in a block is as much as $20!

MegaBus

MegaBus 

3/16: Departs from Indianapolis at 12:35 PM, arrives in Chicago at 3:05 PM ($23)

3/20: Depart from Chicago at 3:30 PM, arrives in Indianapolis at 8:15 PM ($23)

Total Cost: $46 and up

Now, this seems like a middle-of-the-road choice, right? But, if you are a student leaving from the Purdue campus, you have to pay for both parking and gas to get down to Indianapolis. This company is fairly new to the Midwest, so Indianapolis is currently the only pickup/drop-off location in Indiana. If you have relatives in the Indianapolis area though, you could always spend time with them before setting off for Chicago or if yourself live in the Indianapolis area, this is probably the cheapest option for you. Much like the Amtrak option, though, don’t forget to take into account your transportation costs once you get there.

Lafayette Limo

Leave Purdue Memorial Union Follett’s Purdue West Arrive at O’Hare Airport Leave Chicago Arrive Lafayette
4:30 AM 4:40 AM 6:40 AM CST 8:00 AM CST  12:00 PM
10:30 AM 10:40 AM 12:40 PM CST 2:00 PM CST  6:00 PM
3:30 PM 3:40 PM 5:40 PM CST 7:00 PM CST  11 PM

Lafayette Limo

Lafayette Limo cost $60 for a one-way ticket to O’Hare Airport and $110 for a round trip back to Lafayette.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when travelling with Lafayette Limo.  Once you are in Chicago you will need to consider other transportation options from the airport to the city, if you are planning on staying in Chicago.  Lafayette Limo has strict pick-up and drop off times.  This could keep your Chicago visit to a tight schedule.  Lafayette Limo is mainly used as a transportation method for Purdue University students traveling to home during peak times (before and after each semester) which creates limited space during peak times.   On top of battling students trying to return home, the Limo may be full of luggage. A pact ride to and from Chicago has the potential to put a damper on one’s trip. Though, during these peak times you can rent Lafayette Limo and have a safe ride for your group.  You can find more details about renting Lafayette Limo through their website online.

Of the four options above, which do you think you would be most likely to use? Is your choice completely based on the prices? Or do you have another method of travel you like to use for traveling to Chicago? Let us know if you do!

Top Ten Places to Eat Lunch Under Ten Dollars – Spring Break Edition

13 Mar

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

With Spring Break having arrived, we wanted to bring back some popular blogs with awesome information for the Purdue area for those who are staying. Purdue Dining Courts will be CLOSED during break, so here is our Top 10 list of ways to feed yourself if you are eating your lunch out. Look for any green text for updated information! 

I love having other people make me food, but I hate the price that comes with it. When I go out to eat I want good food and a lot of it, but I like to keep the price as low as possible. I’m sure all of you college students can relate to not wanting to pay a lot for food but still getting to enjoy your food.  My Top Ten restaurants in the West Lafayette area list is focused on what I enjoy: massive quantities of delicious food for cheap.

1-4: Giant Burrito Distributors

Big Bean Burrito

Here in West Lafayette alone we have 4 burrito restaurants (ranked in order of my personal favorites) Qdoba, Moe’s, Chipotle, and La Fiesta Burrito. The best thing about a burrito restaurant is that you get A LOT of food for a pretty good price. The big bonus at Moe’s and La Fiesta Burrito is the unlimited free chips and salsa with your purchase. Qdoba and Chipotle offer chips and salsa as separate side items, but will give you a free small drink with your student ID.

5&6: Sub Shops

There are a lot of sub shops in the area, but I only really like two of them: Subway and Jimmy John’s.

Both have great aspects about them:

subway sub

Subway: $5 foot-long months, huge variety of sandwich combinations, and unlimited topping choices. Be sure to get 10% off your sandwich with your student ID!

Jimmy John’s: that SMELL, delicious giant pickles, classic sandwiches, and their freaky fast service.

Subs are a pretty generic food option; but, there are lots of sub choices, lots of flavor, and lots of food. As college students, we are focused on getting the most bang for our buck, and you definitely get this at either of these delicious sub shops.

7: Dairy Queen & Panda Express (subbed in for the dining courts)

DQ – Right in the Chauncey Mall and great for more than just ice cream. My personal favorite is their $5 Buck Lunch with a burger, fries, drink and, of course, ice cream sundae. It’s not a $5 deal but the Flamethrower Burger is huge and incredibly delicious. 

Panda – Something I never tried until I went to college (true story). Now I can’t get enough of their orange chicken. If you’ve never had it, do yourself a favor and stop by this week. 

8: Von’s Dough Shack

Located right next to Von’s Book Store, this tiny shack serves up HUGE calzones. They have 40 different options listed on their menu and a variety of sides to choose from. The last time I ate lunch there, I was so full I didn’t eat supper that night. Now, that’s a restaurant that’s worth paying for.

9: Packing Your Lunch

paper packed lunch

It’s not very cool, but it is economical, and it’s what I do almost every day. Packing your lunch costs you what you would usually pay in groceries, a few extra minutes in the kitchen, and possibly the price of a lunch box and/or portable food containers. The start-off cost is more than ten dollars, sometimes, but if you divide it over every day that you pack your lunch, you are saving a TON of money. This is even easier if you have leftovers from dinner the night before. Just reheat the next day and you just made the effort/ cost of one meal into two. 

10: KFC Buffet

The lunch buffet on Mondays is even cheaper than the rest of the week! Plus, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet; you can literally eat until you are completely stuffed. The Colonel’s chicken really is the best too. One sneaky student even pointed out that you could potentially sit there all day and eat while studying…  Just an option to keep in mind…

kfc chicken

50 Free Activities You Can Do This Spring Break

12 Mar

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

two people hiking

Spring 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 full week 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 week.

  • 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
  • Build a blanket and pillow fort to watch said childhood movies in
  • Sit outside and enjoy a (hopefully) sunny day

Smart Money Moves for your Internship Paycheck Pt. 2

11 Mar

Part 2: Post College Tips

Nathan Carmany, a Purdue Alumnus, is a Certified Financial Planner for Watermark Wealth Management

See Numbers 1-3 in Part 1: While You’re In School by clicking here.

  1. PREFUND YOUR LIVING EXPENSES

Seniors, set aside as much as you can.  When you find your first apartment or home, somewhere the move will create an unplanned expense.  Inevitably it happens, an extra day rental on the moving truck, needing kitchen utensils, towels, or boxes.  The money will help cushion for the unplanned expense.  Do not forget about the extra cost of hooking up utilities, cable, or the internet.

  1. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUNDgraph spending plan final.jpg

Traditional financial planning calls for 3-6 months of living expenses set aside for an emergency fund.  Most people will experience at least one significant financial emergency in a three to five year period. It can be difficult for college students to save a full 6 months of living expenses, but setting aside a modest amount may prevent you from making a call to your parents when something comes up.  Like my grandmother taught me, place the money in a zip lock bag and freeze it in a container of water, then see how easy it is to impulse spend!

  1. CONTRIBUTE TO A ROTH

The sooner retirement savings start; the less you have to save over the rest of your life. The compounding of gains and interest early on are difficult to make up if you delay contributing until later in life. By saving it in a Roth IRA, the earnings are tax free after age 59.5, as long a Roth account was opened 5 years ago or longer.  That 5 year clock begins with the first contribution to your Roth.  If you need access to the money, contributions are removed first without any penalty.

  1. PAY DOWN STUDENT LOANS

Hopefully, you have been informed about the inability for most borrowers to ever declare this type of debt in bankruptcy and that prolonged periods of missed payments will lead to wage garnishment, a much larger loan balance, and the destruction of your credit score. The grace period on most student loans expires 6 months after graduation. Interest is capitalized (meaning that it is added to the loan balance) at that point unless you qualify under a different exemption. Paying down unsubsidized loans (make sure your loan servicer allocate it properly) with your earnings before the end of the grace period is a great way to cut the overall cost of the loan.

Wrap Up

Think about your upcoming needs for the summer, school year, or beyond graduation. Pick one of the ideas to best suit your needs and work on an implementation plan. No matter which idea you execute, a well thought out plan will serve you well.

Smart Money Moves for your Internship Paycheck Pt. 1

9 Mar

Part 1: While You’re In Schoolinternship txt crop.jpg

Nathan Carmany, a Purdue Alumnus, is a Certified Financial Planner for Watermark Wealth Management

The spring semester is underway. Companies are recruiting and having conversations with
your professors about ideal candidates. You attend networking events, purchase new interview clothes, and hopefully land the perfect position for the summer. To stay ahead of your finances, you need to make a conscious plan for your earnings.

  1. PAY HIGH INTEREST RATE CREDIT CARDS 

The average balance for a college student in 2013 was $499. The average interest for student credit card interest is 13.42% stated as an APR, however, the effective rate after compounding daily is actually 14.34%. What better way to cut expenses than eliminating high interest obligations?

web txt edit.jpg

  1. CREATE A SPENDING PLAN

Consider creating a spending plan for the summer and school year to stretch the duration of the funds. Paul Arden stated, “Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.” Think about what opportunities you may put into your own hand with a well thought out spending plan.

  1. PAY FOR YOUR SUMMER CLASSES

Don’t overlook that your credits for the summer internship can cost money.  Why not use some of the funds to possibly pay for those?  Reduction of your total amount borrowed before interest is capitalized and recommended for faster loan payoff.

Be on the lookout for Part 2: Post-College Tips on Friday, March 11th.

7 Things You Need to Think About When Planning a Spring Break

3 Mar

7 Things You Need to Think About When Planning a Spring Break

Spring Break leader

With less than two weeks until spring break, now is the time to get into gear if you are planning a trip this break. While there are several websites available that will arrange packages for you, it is possible to get a great experience without having to pay the premium fees associated with those arrangements.

Planning is the most important part of making sure your trip is one of your best college memories. If you plan properly, you can avoid having to spend your way out of an emergency situation.

Things to think about:

  1. Plan on a Budget: With a little bit of searching you should be able to estimate the costs of various things from transportation, lodging, food, and what you are planning to do while you’re there. This will help make sure you don’t throw caution and money to the wind when you first arrive and have to sit in your room because you ran out of money day one. Work with your friends you are going with to make sure it is a reasonable amount for everyone.

2. Traveling Companions: Make sure your group has similar expectations. Mixing friends who want to go sight-seeing at historic places with those who want to party will probably result in the group splitting up for most of the trip. If you all agree on the budget beforehand, then everyone can be ready to pay their own way so you don’t have to help cover someone’s expenses unexpectedly.

Party planning spring break tips.jpg

Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Page for the Type of Trip You Take

3. Destination: Beaches and tropical locations are always popular, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Many parts of the country are beautiful this time of year and significantly cheaper than the traditional destinations.

If you’re thinking about international travel, you need to be sure you have your passport. Passports typically take 4-6 weeks to process, unless you want to for expedited service fees to get it sooner. (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/fees.html)how you travel spring break tips

4. Planning: Depending on the type of trip, work with your friends to create a list of a few can’t-miss activities and places to visit. This can be during the drive or at your destination. Do some internet searches for tourist attractions in the area since you are, after all, a tourist!

5. Travel Method: The spring break road trip is a classic, and will cost you a lot less than airline tickets would. Just be sure the vehicle you take is reliable. Nothing will derail your plans (and budget) quicker than an unexpected car breakdown.

If you do decide to fly, remember that you will need transportation when you arrive! This means either having someone there with a car, renting one, or relying on public transportation and taxis (which can be expensive).

6. Hotels: While you aren’t traveling to see the walls of your hotel room, where you stay can have a huge impact on your trip. If you’re looking to save money on eating, rooms with a kitchen (while usually more expensive) can save you from eating out for every meal.

When booking your rooms be sure to compare rates not just between hotels, but between booking methods. If you call their front desk, that’s not always a guaranteed best price. There are plenty of websites that may be able to reduce the room rate for you.

7. Food: You may think that you are destined for fast food, restaurants, and gas station food, but with preparation you can save a few dollars on food and still eat well. If you have a long trip, you’ll need to eat in the vehicle. Grocery stores are full of food to eat on the go, but don’t buy anything that needs refrigerated. You can’t refrigerate anything so it needs to be okay without and that leftovers are mostly a no-go. Don’t worry too much about bringing food to last the trip because your destination will have grocery stores (the locals do have to eat). Be sure to pick out foods that fit your situation. If you’re relying on a microwave for cooking tailor your choices toward that.

 

 

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