Archive | July, 2016

Making Your Schedule: Advice to Students from Students

27 Jul

Recent Purdue Graduate Words of wisdom to the class of 2020
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

I’ll be honest. When you think of that girl in class who has her entire week planned out, even down to what meal she is going to cook on what night, that’s me.

My favorite two days every semester occur during syllabus week, a time when I can write every assignment from every professor for the entire semester. For all new Boilermakers, syllabus week happens the first week of classes every semester and you review the syllabus in class … for most classes. Take advance of this time while you are reviewing the semester’s assignments and due dates by completing your planner.

I love planning and I love schedules. I like to think of my planning addiction as a type of goal setting exercise. I write what I want to accomplish every week, and it’s not complete until I actually mark the line through it. That’s actually another one of my greatest joys—crossing off tasks that I want to do after they are finished. I honestly believe that without weekly goals, I would never get anything accomplished.

cartoon calendarWriting things down is a motivation for me because I hate seeing things in my planner that I didn’t get to cross off. The feeling is comparable to my grandparents saying they are disappointed in me; it’s that serious! This technique can also be used for long-term goals too, which is basically a glorified way of me saying I want to plan my work outs so I can get my high school body back by the end of summer.

It’s still the same concept, though. I plan out what I want to do, week by week, to get to my end result. It worked well for me during college, so I am more than optimistic that it will also work after college.

The things I’ve mentioned for goal-setting are fairly juvenile. I mean, it’s not like I am setting goals for my ten-year plan or anything, even though now that I think about it, I probably should start that soon.

The key aspects of goal setting I have learned through college and personal life are to be realistic with yourself. Don’t tell anyone how much you love to plan things. Make sure your goals are attainable

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for you, or else you will get discouraged. It doesn’t make sense to say you are going to work out for three hours after you get home from work and then cook a five course meal. That doesn’t even sound enjoyable! And I’m really stressing here, keep your planning addiction to yourself because people love to mess with you. They will start inviting you to things, like the bars when they know you have an exam tomorrow morning, just because they know that it will torment you and ruin your chances of getting your goals accomplished for the day. Just do what I do, think to yourself: “what would my grandparents want me to do”… and you will usually make the right decision.

Which Jobs Should You Be Applying For?

15 Jul

Searching for your first job out of college can be a daunting task. While it may seem like graduation is forever away, it’s actually right around the corner. Not only do you have to learn how to apply for your first real job, you have to figure out which jobs you even want to apply for. Between tweaking your resume and creating cover letters, you’ll quickly realize you can’t apply for every opening. With your limited time, you have to choose which jobs to apply for and what jobs end up being passed over. So here are five tips on figuring out which jobs you should be applying for.first job search post college advice.jpg

#1. Pick your priority

Figure out what your priority is when job searching. Many people won’t even consider job searching outside of the area in which they live, while others are looking for an escape. There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out which job you’ll want, and if you know what your #1 priority is, deciding whether or not to apply for a job makes it that much easier. Here are some different factors to help you find your priority:

  • Location – Many people are tied to one area due to family or their significant others. To them, relocating isn’t an option. Others would like nothing more than a change of scenery; therefore, relocating isn’t a problem.
  • Pay/ Salary – We all need money, but for some people the desire for high pay trumps all other potential priorities.
  • Opportunity for Advancement – Especially if it’s your first job, potential advancement opportunities can make a big difference, as you don’t have to switch employers for upward mobility.
  • Specific Job Field – This may seem like a given for your search, but if you found a job outside of your field that meet all your other requirements, would the field matter?
  • Benefits Package – Typically not the #1 priority, but flexibility, vacation time, healthcare, dental, daycare, or even student loan repayment vary greatly from one employer to the next.
  • Making a Difference – Not all jobs pay well monetarily, but instead rely more on the feeling of making a positive difference in the world.
  • Employer Size – Working at a major company has a lot of exciting benefits to some people. Or maybe you’d feel more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate type of setting?
  • Job Security – Getting that first job is no good if you are laid off right away. If this is your priority, you may be willing to compromise for a job with decent security.

#2 Remember, it’s your first job, not your dream job

If your first job happens to end up being your dream job, congratulations! For the rest of us who make an average of seven career changes in our working lives, the key to a successful first job is using it as a launching pad. Look for jobs that have advancement opportunities or marketable skills to help you propel yourself throughout your career.

You don’t want to end up in a job you hate, but it’s important to remember that this job can be a valuable experience to help land you your dream job down the road. This is especially true if you are leaving college without a lot of experience in your field.

Keep in mind that the salary will be entry-level, as well. Don’t be surprised if you’re not offered the median salary in your industry since you don’t have much, if any, field experience. If you do well, you can earn your advancement in pay or position by moving up within the company or with another employer.

#3 Know yourself

Before you accept a job, be sure that it’s a job you want and not one that parents, counselors, or friends want for you. Hopefully you have had enough life experience to know not only what your priorities are, but what equates to a deal-breaker for you. Does a typical 9-5 sound ideal or does working varied hours sound more appealing? Do you prefer to travel for work or would you prefer to be in the same location every day? Be sure it’s what you actually want or you could be back to job searching again before you know it. This job needs to fit your current lifestyle, not only the “what-if” scenarios you’ve considered for your future.

#4 It takes time (and it might be your job for a while)

Unemployment is not much fun after the first couple weeks, as concerns about being able to pay your bills—and eventually student loans—become reality. It takes time to fill out applications and tweak your resume for each job. Remember that until you find your full-time job, your job is to job search. It is exhausting applying for various jobs for eight hours a day, but it’s better than not being able to make your ends meet.

#5 Utilize your network

If you’re still in school, you’re going to want to take advantage of all those free lunches and other events put on to meet your professors and other staff. Not only do these people have connections outside of your college, they can also be great resources for the future. Talk to them and find out how they got their foot in the door! Don’t be shy about asking for an informational interview from these people. Many have a vested interest in seeing you succeed and will go out of their way to help you. Just be sure to make a good impression while you still can!

How to Pay Off Student Loans & High Interest Debt

12 Jul

66% of students who attend public colleges take out student loans. Debt isn’t fun, but when it comes to your education it is a great investment in yourself. While you may not enjoy paying back student loans there are some steps you can take to save yourself some money and make your payments hurt a little bit less.America Saves Week Day5 paying off high interest debt student loans

  1. Prioritize high-interest debt: While Federal Direct student loans are capped at 6.8%, private loans are not. Even worse interest rates? Credit cards. If you have credit card debt, prioritize paying it off before your student loans. 6.8% interest is no fun, but credit card interest rates 20% and higher can be crippling.
  2. Income based repayment: If you qualify for an income-based repayment (IBR) plan, do yourself a favor and apply for one. Generally if your debt is higher than your income you will probably qualify. Even if you are able to make your payments without much issue, an IBR can still save you money. How you may ask? If you keep paying the same amount you did before, you can target your payments toward either your highest interest or smallest loans depending on which repayment style fits you. Not to mention, if you are one of the approximately 50% of people who work in public service, you can qualify for loan forgiveness after 10 years.

Pick your payoff: There are two main methods for paying off debt when you have multiple balances to pay. The snowball and the avalanche method.

The snowball method entails taking the extra money you have and paying off your smallest debts first while paying the minimum on the rest. Then once that is taken care of, you roll that payment into the next smallest and knock off your obligations one-by-one. This is best for those who like the reward of seeing their different loans disappear the quickest and can help you stay on track easier.

The avalanche method is similar to the snowball where you make minimum payments on all loans but one. The difference is that you target the highest interest rates first. While you may not experience the visual rewards of seeing the small debts disappear quicker, you will save the most amount of money in the long run this way.

One way to not repay is by spreading out the extra you pay to all debts and pay a little bit additional on everything each month. This provides neither of the advantages that the avalanche and snowball method have while still costing you the same amount. You get less savings than the avalanche, and less of the reward that the snowball offers.

Healthcare & College Students: What You Need to Know

8 Jul

Up to this point in your life, there’s a very good chance that you’ve never picked up the phone to schedule a doctor’s appointment.  There’s also a very good chance that you’ve never thought about how medical insurance works. The receptionist at the doctor’s office takes the information and the charges get paid, right?  Well, sometimes, but this is typically not the case.  Many people are covered by an employer-provided insurance plan. Often, these plans have high deductibles, and a limited number of physicians you’re allowed to see. As a college student, healthcare is probably the last thing on your mind,but it shouldn’t be. Unexpected healthcare costs could really put a bind on your already stretched college budget.

But don’t worry, the process isn’t as complicated as it seems.  With a little planning and preparation you can learn how to manage your healthcare dollars wisely. Here’s how:

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Have a plan and know your benefits before you need to use them.  Ask your parents if you are covered by their medical insurance and for how long. Most plans will cover you until you are 26. Once you find out this basic information, call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card.

Ask your insurance company:

  • Am I covered while I am away from home? Some plans only cover for emergency services when you are away from home.
  • Am I covered at Purdue University Student Health Services? PUSH is out of network for all insurance plans except the student resources plan offered by the university.
  • What percentage will your insurance pay? What percentage will be your responsibility? You will be responsible to pay for services not covered or the balance after insurance payment.

Once you are familiar with your current insurance coverage, you can go here to see the plan offered by the university.  Read the plan coverage and do a quick cost/benefit analysis to decide whether this plan would be more or less cost effective for you and your individual circumstances.

Purdue University Student Health Services (PUSH)

Purdue Student Health Services is a student-oriented healthcare facility on campus.  The providers at PUSH understand college health and its impact on your academic success. This is a great resource for affordable, accessible healthcare. Most currently enrolled students on the West Lafayette campus are eligible to be seen at PUSH. Students enrolled full time during any semester can be seen for an illness or injury at no charge.  Students enrolled part time are eligible to be seen, but they will have to pay an office visit charge.  There are fees for all other services, including laboratory, radiology, physical therapy, women’s services, allergy and immunization services, and sports medicine. Although there are fees for most services at PUSH, the fees are typically less than they would be if you were to go to a provider off campus (good to know if your percentage of required out-of-pocket expense is high). If you are at PUSH for an office visit and your provider recommends any testing or treatment, regardless of your insurance coverage, it’s always best to ask our business office how much the test/treatment will be and find out from your insurance company how much they will pay for that particular charge.

Don’t forget to utilize the Business Services department at PUSH.  Often, they can help you choose the most cost-effective path forward with your healthcare.

Practice Healthy Habits

Now that you will be learning how to manage your own health and healthcare with less parental involvement, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself matters in the learning process.  Staying healthy is going to save you the most money in terms of healthcare expenses.  Good nutrition, sleep, and exercise are as important as studying for that final exam. You are going to be learning habits now that will impact your wellness for the rest of your life. In the long run, taking care of your health, managing your healthcare, and being a wise consumer with your healthcare dollars will reward you, and your bank account.

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