Archive | May, 2018

Saving on Transportation: Alternative Modes

25 May

Last week we let you in on secrets to maximize your savings while flying. But what about other ways we can save on transportation?

Most of us cannot imagine living life without constantly driving our cars. In less you live in a big city, it sometimes seems impossible to find any other way to get around. Luckily, transportation solutions are popping up everywhere, and many of them are campus-friendly! Whether you are on campus this summer or returning in the fall, read on for some transportation tips. You will probably find that you can apply these in your hometown or any other place you may visit.

Take apartment shuttles. It can be rough living off-campus when you have to commute every day. If you find yourself wanting to spend less on gas, consider taking advantage of the shuttle that your apartment complex offers. Most apartment complexes in West Lafayette have them, and they usually run hourly, so you can be dropped off and picked up during times that work for your classes. Apartment shuttles usually take you somewhere central on campus, like Stewart Center. It might beat the drive and walk from wherever you park! You don’t need to request the shuttle; simply head to the designated pick-up location at your apartment or on campus, and you should be all set. It is a benefit that comes with your apartment, so don’t be afraid to use it!

Utilize CityBus. Did you know CityBus is a contracted partner with Purdue? That means that students, faculty, and staff ride free! CityBus spans all Campus Loop routes and also has nine regular routes throughout Greater Lafayette. All you need is your Purdue ID to hop on. CityBus runs by many apartments and by all of the residence halls. With all of the routes offered, you can even take it to the mall! All routes, as well as real-time bus information, are available online and at the front of every residence hall.

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Ride your bike. Purdue and the surrounding area is very bike-friendly. There are specified bike lanes on campus, and many parks that are perfect for bike riding. It is a common occurrence in the area, so most pedestrians and vehicles know to be aware of bike riders. Just remember to wear a helmet and be safe! Not only will riding a bike save you gas money, but it will also help our environment and be a great way to get some exercise! Don’t have a bike? No problem. Keep your eyes peeled for the teal bikes on campus (they are everywhere, so hard to miss!). These are VeoRide bikes. All you have to do is download the app, scan the code to unlock the bike, and you’ll be enjoying a nice ride! Simply return it to any bike rack when you are finished. For more information on VeoRide, click here.

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Carpool. Do your roommates and friends all drive to campus or to the store just like you? If you really want to take a car but still want to save, think about carpooling! If you take turns being the driver to class or the grocery store, you will all be spending less on gas and giving less wear and tear to your vehicles. Plus, you’ll have company!

Take up a new hobby related to transportation. Have you been dying to get back on rollerblades? Want to try longboarding? Give it a go! You may not go long distances with options like these, but it might get you to class quicker or allow you to make a short trip that you otherwise would have had to move your car for. Purdue has a club for everything it seems, so it can be quite easy for you to find friends that share a love for the hobby you’d like to take up. They can teach you a thing or two about it!

Research airport shuttles. Many of you fly home for breaks instead of driving the long distance to maximize your time with family. It can take quite a bit of gas to get to the airport, not to mention the costs associated with leaving your car at the airport. If you can’t find someone to take you to the airport, taking an airport shuttle may be a better option. Lafayette Limo regularly runs to the Indianapolis Airport, and may be a cheaper option in the long run.

 

Whether by bus, bike, or longboard, we wish you happy travels!

How to Save on Air Travel

18 May

Summer is here, and that means many of you are traveling! Whether you are taking vacations, moving to a new place for a summer internship, or still on campus and need to travel home here and there, chances are you are thinking of ways to save on your travel expenses. We have got you covered!

This blog series will focus on saving money with a variety of modes of transportation. On today’s agenda: Air travel.

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Flights can be expensive. Here is how to save.

Shop for flights during the week. After airlines have processed flight demands over the weekend, Mondays and Tuesdays will generally have you saving the most money. Just as there are slow days at retail stores during the week, there are slow days for flight shopping as well, so getting booked at the beginning of the week can be advantageous. While the absolute best day to book a flight used to be Tuesday, many are arguing that it is now Thursday. While we can’t provide you with a perfect formula, we do suggest fitting in your flight searching during the week. You may be busy with work or school, but taking the time to search flights will pay off when you are boarding with some extra spending money in tow!

Book your ticket (about) 47 days before your trip. If you know in advance that you need to fly, this magic number of days before your trip usually results in the greatest possible savings. The online search engine, CheapAir, crunched the numbers on about 5 million flights to arrive at the 47-day rule. Remember, this is an average. In general, booking around this time window will be good for your wallet.

Clear your browser’s cookies. Have you had your eye on a couple of different flights for a while now? Do you keep refreshing the tab you’ve kept open in the hopes that prices have dropped? Well, stop! This could actually make the flights you are looking at more expensive, because airline websites track what people are searching for. You may see a price hike, think it is never coming down again, and book a way more expensive flight than you should have. Remember, prices change based on demand. Clear your cookies.

Consider what days of the week you are flying. While not true for every single route, generally the cheapest days to fly domestic are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. The cheapest days to fly international are usually any weekdays; try to avoid flying on the weekend whenever possible. Many people do not like to take extra vacation days, making those certain weekdays unpopular for flights. Airlines cannot afford to have open seats on planes, though, so they will make these flights affordable to get more people on.

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Fly off-peak hours. You may have to rise early, or wait all day for your trip to start, but you will see significant savings if you fly during off-peak hours. Generally, this means you should aim for flights between 5 am and 7 am, or after 8 pm. Rates will be highest during the popular flight times between 11 am and 4 pm, so avoid these times if you are looking for savings!

Embrace the layovers. Direct flights are wonderful, but generally come at a greater cost. If you find a flight that fits within your time constraints and has a layover, it will probably be cheaper than the direct flight. Most people view it as a pain, but as long as you are prepared with what you need, layovers usually run a lot smoother than anticipated. The secret? Make it fun! Make it a goal to see as many airports as possible, and compare and contrast which ones have the best restaurants, layouts, etc. Even if you do not set foot outside but get a layover in a state or country you have never been, you can at least say you have been there!

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Fly different airlines. It used to be unheard of that two one-way tickets could cost less than a round-trip ticket, but not so much anymore. Finding two different flights for your trip can be nice if you have certain departure times you need to keep, or arrive and leave from different airports. There are many booking websites that can already do this for you, but they may not be able to display all possible combinations, so be sure to check airline websites as well to create your perfect combo.

Get a ride to the airport. Sometimes all of the costs we did not think of add up the most. Paying for parking at the airport is an expense you can avoid if you arrange for someone to drop you off and pick you up!

 

We wish you safe flights this summer and many good savings!

The Habits of Successful Borrowers

17 May

Attending Purdue is a large educational investment, and many students borrow educational loans at some point during their college careers. With graduation ceremonies coming to a close this past weekend, most of you graduates are looking toward the future and might be starting to panic about repaying educational loans.

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Good news: Purdue students are successfully repaying loans and not many are defaulting. The education you receive and the careers you are starting are preparing you to tackle these loans just fine. However, it is always a good idea to have some tips under your belt when starting an unfamiliar process. Here are 5 things you can do to be a successful borrower:

Don’t put it off. While deferment and forbearance are options if your life circumstances make it necessary to put repayment on hold, it is recommended to keep these at a minimum. It’s the same as with anything in life. Often, the more we put things off, the worse it feels when we finally do them. Start getting it over with little by little, and you can reduce the total cost of your loan and shorten the time you end up repaying it! A little bit of work now will make you feel a whole lot better later. Borrowers who use less than six months of forbearance are almost twice more likely to successfully repay than those who take longer postponements. If you need it, use it! Just remember that the loan will still be there when the forbearance ends.

Stay connected. Borrowers who track their progress tend to be more successful in repaying their loans. It doesn’t take much. Simply check in regularly online to stay aware of your balance and other payment plans if you feel like you might need a change. This can be done when you are sitting down to pay bills once a month. If you stay in the habit of checking in, you will be aware of what is happening with your loans. It’ll also ensure that you have contact information updated, or receive important messages if you did miss something in the mail!

Graduate. Many of you have already done this! And for those of you reading this with graduation on the horizon in the next few years, just work hard and stick with it. Nothing is more important to getting a return on your educational investment than graduating! Even if someone didn’t graduate, successful repayment is always within reach. If college is still in the future, it is important to stick to a plan so extra time and money does not have to go into getting that degree. When you are working and using your skills you developed at Purdue, you will definitely recognize the worth of the initial investment.

Stick with repayment. The longer you can make payments, the more successfully you can repay your loans. Even when times are tough, small payments can make a huge difference later on and keep you in the habit of making payments. Income-driven plans are available and can certainly be utilized if you are not sure what you can afford to pay. Just make payments. Missed payments will damage your credit and cost you more over the life of the loan. For more loan repayment information, click here.

Talk to your servicer. At Purdue, you learned to be a good communicator (it’s why COM 114 is required, right?), so put those skills to use! Your loan servicer can answer your questions and help you avoid missing payments and defaulting. They will work with you if you are forthcoming with your concerns, so engage with your servicer!

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Whether you just graduated (Congratulations, Class of 2018!), or are looking to graduate in the future, remember these pointers for quicker, smoother repayment.

Saving on Summer Utilities

14 May

Raise your hand if you have turned on your A/C already! Many of us are guilty of it. After the crazy snow we experienced in Indiana this year, the warmer temperatures have sure been welcome. For those of you all too familiar with Indiana weather, though, you know that when it gets hot, it is very hot. And unfortunately, very humid as well.

Many people are fine with layering when it is cold, but NEED that air conditioning on when it is hot. Sound familiar? It can be a challenge to figure out when to turn your air on, especially when you probably waited to turn the heat on and were saving some money by doing that. You do not want to be miserable during the summer months, so here are some tips to avoid astronomical utility bills while still having the A/C on:

Use your fans. Ceiling fans can give you a great breeze during the summer if they are set the right direction. Additionally, you can find inexpensive small fans at the store that you can move from room to room to give you maximum coolness wherever you are in your house or apartment. Remember, if you feel the breeze, it can cool you down! If not, you are wasting electricity. A properly placed fan will make you feel better, and eliminate the need for turning the A/C far down.

Shut unused vents. Do you have a barely-used room, or a roommate that moved out for the summer? Close the vents! You are just paying to keep a room that no one uses cool if you leave the vent open.

Gather your candles (for the dark). If it is a 100-degree day, there is no way you are compromising the inside temperature, but you still want to save on utilities, consider turning the lights off. Really, you can do this any time to save. Turn the light off when you leave the room, or when you are watching a movie. Make a night of electricity-saving fun by bringing out those candles, just like you did during childhood when the electricity went out during a storm.

 

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Get out of the house. You don’t need to have air running if you are not there, so turn it up for a little and take a field trip! Maybe you have a friend who has utilities included at their apartment, or are visiting family. Stores are always super air-conditioned, so even if you are not shopping, you can certainly window-shop or take a walking lap around the mall, all while keeping cool.

Program that thermostat. As mentioned above, there is certainly no need to have the air running so much when you are not home. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to run when you are home and have a higher temperature set for during the day when you are not there. If you cannot program your thermostat, you can simply make a habit of turning it up a bit when you leave, and turning it down when you get home. It will take a matter of seconds and can be easily snuck in to any morning or afternoon routine.

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Unplug. Do you leave your phone charger plugged into the wall by your bed all day, even when you only charge up at night? Is the toaster plugged in when not in use? What about your laptop? If it is in the wall and not a power strip, it is using electricity! Take an extra second after using something to unplug it, especially if you are going to be gone, and you will not be wasting electricity.

Save on laundry. Washing your clothes is not an option for you, but more of a requirement (we hope). However, drying your clothes in the dryer is not! To save some energy you would be using for your dryer, consider hanging your clothes to dry on a clothesline or drying rack. If outside in the breeze or on a drying rack by a window, your clothes will smell fresh and probably be in better shape than if you would have stuck them in the dryer. No shrinking!

Open the windows. While sunny, Indiana summers can be scalding, summer nights can be refreshing. If it is not too humid and there is a good breeze, consider opening your windows at night and then turning the air on during the day. You will have around 8 hours of savings at least if you are able to keep your windows open all night. If you do switch to air in the morning, just remember to shut all of your windows. As you may have heard your grandparents or parents warn, you do not want to be paying to cool the entire neighborhood!

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Anyone else wish this was their view?

 

We hope you keep cool this summer, Boilermakers!

Money Free Days

11 May

Now that the regular school year is over, you may be preparing for summer classes, summer jobs, internships, or studying abroad. Whether living in a familiar or new place, summer brings the opportunity to end up spending a ton of money. You are probably reconnecting with friends from home who want to grab dinner, or tempted by ice cream on every scalding, hot day. You may wish to sightsee, or visit amusement parks in the nice weather.

You may be asking yourself, “How will I be able to afford all of this?” Many people put out the goal to spend less money, but not everyone is successful. One strategy that seems to work really well to get serious about spending less is declaring certain days “money free days.”

What is a money free day? There’s no hidden meaning behind it. A money free day is when you do not spend money, not a dime! It can be an important key to your financial strategy. Figure out some days where it might be possible to not spend money. This means no going out to eat, grabbing a quick snack, online shopping, or spending on entertainment. There should be nothing coming out of your bank account.

 

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Coffee is amazing, but if you constantly grab some on the go, cut it out for a few days and see the impact it makes!

 

The strategy. How often or when you can have a money free day will really depend on your lifestyle and schedule. A good way to think about it, is to see if you can fit most of your spending into certain days. On your grocery shopping day, you may also stop to fill your car with gas because it is convenient to do both at the same time. Those are two big expenses combined into one day, and you might only have one of these days once a week or once every other week. If you know you have an event coming up with a friend and that you will be grabbing lunch, try to cook your own meals before that. You’ve strategically placed your eating out on a spending day, and made other days around it money free days. Try to get on a schedule with your bills, too. Sit down just once or twice a month and get them all scheduled and paid. If they can be done in a chunk, you then know how much you have left and do not have to spend that money later.

Money free days don’t have to be unpleasant. We are so used to spending money each day, that we often equate the idea of money with happiness or a good time. However, a money free day can be just as fun as a money-spending day. There is nothing that is different except the fact that you are not spending money. You can still eat great food, spend time with friends, and get out of the house. Look up a fun Pinterest recipe and try your hand at it. Instead of buying drinks, crack open that bottle of wine you have been saving. Visit a free museum or take a hike with a friend. If you need ideas, here is a list of 103 things you can do on a money free day. You can also check out local events and places to visit in Lafayette and West Lafayette by clicking here.

 

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Check out the wallabies at the Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette. It’s free! 

 

Money free days will help you enjoy life more. Maybe you are just immune to the true joy of grabbing a burger or a coffee, because you do it 3 or 4 times a week. If you have money free days and space out your treats, you may actually find that you look forward to them and enjoy them more.

Money free days add up. Let’s say you spend just $10 a day on those extra things that don’t really add to your happiness in the end. If you make 3 of your days in the week money free days, you will save $30 a week. Monthly, it comes out to $120. Yearly, $1,440. And that’s on the low side! If you try going money free, you might realize how much money you’ve been wasting and make more drastic changes.

Make it a challenge. How many days in a month do you think you could go money free? There is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes at the end of a money free day! See if you can go more days than you thought you could, and keep track of your savings.

 

We are certainly not advising you to stop having fun or spending money altogether, but simply providing a strategy that might be easy for you. The beauty of having money free days is that you are not actually cutting anything completely out of your life. You can still buy coffee and go to movies. You just do it on a spending day, and try to make another nearby day money free. It is more of a black-and-white way to stay on top of your finances. Some days you spend, some days you don’t.

What do you think of the money free strategy?

Decorating Apartments on a Budget

7 May

Yay, you have chosen an apartment! You’ve budgeted for rent, utilities, and Internet. That’s it, right? Not quite. While a new apartment is nice, it unfortunately does require a few extra items than what you may have had in a residence hall or your room at home. Even if you don’t cook a lot, you’ll probably still need some plates, utensils, and a coffeemaker for the kitchen. If your apartment did not come furnished, you may also at least need a couch. To make it feel like home, you might want to decorate. Head spinning yet? No worries! There are plenty of ways to furnish and decorate an apartment on a college student’s budget.

Embrace hand-me-downs. It’s always fun to get something brand-new, but getting already-loved items can be exciting, too. Mom and dad’s Crockpot they got at their wedding could be your new favorite piece pf kitchen equipment. After all, the farther back you go, the more made-to-last it seems appliances were. Or maybe grandma is giving you a bunch of her old dishes that you remember eating Thanksgiving dinner on when you were little. Having items with a story behind them will add character, and a bit of sentimental value, to your space.

Refinish furniture. A rustic-looking end table can cost upwards of $200 when buying new at the store. However, you can create the same look for much less. If you have hand-me-down tables from a relative or you found some at a yard sale, you can always paint them the color you want and make them your own! For a rustic finish, grab some chalk paint and sandpaper at the store. Paint your surface, let it dry, and then rub the sandpaper to wear paint off in some places for a rustic finish. Purchasing new hardware for an existing table or dresser is another good way to create a completely different piece of furniture without breaking the bank. However you decide to spruce up old furniture, have fun with it!

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Use pictures as art. It can be expensive to buy pieces of artwork, quotes, etc. to hang in your apartment. Getting some pictures printed is always a budget-friendly way to substitute, and since they are so personal, they will make you smile every time you walk by! Get a picture of your dog, your family, or pretty scenery from your vacation and it’ll probably look like many of the pre-framed pieces you find at the store. See if anyone you know has extra frames lying around (you can paint them if they are not your style) or head to a place as simple as a dollar store to pick some up! Bonus picture idea: Stick Polaroids on your wall!

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Cost: $1.75

Buy just one. Chances are when you find something you love, like a couch or an interesting table, the stores will have plenty of matching pieces. However, is that brass coffee table going to stick out as much if you also buy the brass end table? Choosing one item you love not only saves money, but also ends up making your furniture look more interesting.

Hit up secondhand stores and flea markets. If you don’t mind digging through to find some treasures, secondhand stores are great places to find valuable items, and no two are alike! Often, people get rid of their items and may not even know their “junk” belongs to a collection. This allows you to get a steal on some amazing things. Additionally, Lafayette operates a flea market on the first Sunday of the month at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds. You can buy everything from furniture to Coca-Cola memorabilia. Old, historical magazines cost $1 or less, and are a conversation piece! You never know what you will find, and the pieces will always give your apartment a vintage feel.

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Cost: $2

Make what is functional also decorative. Are your favorite cereal bowls also pretty and in your color scheme? Use them! A stack of bowls or plates placed on a kitchen shelf make a practical use of the space, while still making it stylish.

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A basket of towels, plates, bowls, and spices are decorative, functional, and easy to grab on this shelf.

Get decorations from nature. That driftwood you picked up at the beach would look great in your nautical bathroom. The wildflower you picked can go in a vase for a week. The gorgeous leaf you couldn’t help but scoop off the ground can be pressed and hung. Use the world around you to bring some nature into your space!

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Driftwood from the beach and flowers snipped from the garden are free!

Mix what costs more with inexpensive items. Maybe you had a little bit of extra cash and splurged on something you love, or picked up a quality souvenir while studying abroad. You can mix that great piece with other, more inexpensive finds. If you have a collection of Eiffel Towers, you can put the one you bought in Paris next to other ones you’ve come across at discount home stores. There are no rules to it, just have fun mixing some awesome pieces!

Buy what you love. Don’t buy for the price tag. If you are putting substantial money toward a piece for your apartment, make sure it is something you really want to see every day and won’t tire of. On the flip side, do not buy something just because it fits into your budget if you don’t like it. If you don’t like it now, you probably aren’t going to like it later. If you are on a budget now, you’ll likely still be trying to budget later. Do not buy something you will just feel stuck with. If you are not sure about a purchase, see if there is something you like better that fits your budget. With all of the discount stores around, you are bound to find something that is within budget, and that you like. You may be able to use that chair or coffeemaker well after your apartment years if you made a decent purchase.

Make items semi-new. So the lamp you have had forever looks a bit dingy, but works perfectly fine, so you just can’t justify throwing it out. Just make it partly new instead! If you keep the base and buy a new lampshade, you will not even be able to tell it is the same lamp. Paint the mason jars you have. Same jar, new color. Challenge yourself and see what other household items you can do this with!

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Paint your mason jars to spruce them up!

Re-envision what you have. Shopping at home can be a cure if you feel the urge to buy something new. Once you have your decorations and furniture in your apartment, move them around if you get bored of their positions after a few months! You don’t have to leave every picture where it originally was or put the same blanket on your bed every day. You may find new purposes for the same things you own. It is fun and therapeutic.

 

Decorating, even on a budget, can be a blast! What other ways do you spruce up your space without breaking the bank? Let us know in the comments!

Moving Into Off-Campus Apartments

4 May

Living on-campus is a wonderful college experience that most students do for at least a year. Whether you want to cook more, have your own room, or bring a puppy to school, you may decide at some point in your college career that you are ready for an apartment. That’s great!

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Many of you have probably already signed leases for next year, and some of you may still be looking. Either way, you probably have questions about some of those terms you’ve heard as you’ve interacted with staff at apartment complexes. You may smile, nod, and sign your papers, but do you know everything you need to know about your apartment? It’s an important financial decision, and you need all the facts.

The leasing process: The steps are fairly simple. First, look around to find the perfect place for you, then fill out an application once you have decided. You will often have to put down a security deposit and maybe a portion of rent to hold your apartment. Last, sign the lease! Does any of that scare you? Don’t worry, we’ll break it down a little more.

Can I really just go look around? Absolutely! Looking around is a fun part in the process! Contact the apartment complex you would like to look at, and let them know you’d like a tour. Often, you can also just walk into their main office or clubhouse and someone will be available to show you around. On the tour, they will show you a staged apartment and any common areas like pools, dog parks, etc. You should be able to see layouts of each different type of apartment they have available, and ask any questions at this time.

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What should I keep in mind about roommates? If you have a roommate or roommates that you know you want to live with, you will be able to go through the process together and select which room each person will have. Remember that while these roommates may not be sharing an actual room with you, you will still be sharing a kitchen, bathrooms, and a living room. Sometimes you know living with good friends will work out, but sometimes that’s not the case if you have different schedules or cleaning styles. If you do not have a roommate in mind, apartments work much like resident halls. If you are matched with a roommate, it’ll be someone who fills out their forms similarly and will likely be a good match.

Will my application be accepted? Usually, college students have no problem being able to get into apartments, as the local complexes know how to work with students. When you fill out your application, the landlord will likely run a credit check. If you have limited credit history, you may need a guarantor. A guarantor is basically a co-signer, someone like a parent or guardian who is guaranteeing payment on the lease if you can’t pay for some reason.

Do I need renter’s insurance? While it sounds like something expensive, it is a good idea to purchase renter’s insurance. It is relatively inexpensive, actually. Renter’s insurance can usually be purchased through home or car insurance companies, and will protect your belongings in case of theft, fire, or other damaging scenarios.

Why am I paying a security deposit? If your landlord requires a security deposit, it will probably be held for the duration of your lease. You may get the money back at the termination of your lease, usually dependent upon the condition of your apartment when you leave. If there are damages, the landlord can use the deposit to cover the cost of fixing the damage. The best way to ensure getting back most or all of your security deposit is to conduct a move-in inspection, so you know what damage already exists. Document in writing and with photos the condition of your apartment when you move in.

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Will living in an apartment incur a ton of extra expenses beyond rent? While living in an apartment can be comparable to the cost of living in a residence hall, there is definitely a different distribution of costs. Read your lease carefully, as it will tell you about the late fee policy for rent, and will let you know what your financial responsibilities are. Some apartments cover certain utilities and cable/internet, but many still leave you responsible for a portion. Your lease is your guide, and do not hesitate to also ask staff at the apartment to clarify anything you may be unsure about. Just remember to budget out your utilities along with rent, so you know what apartment associated expenses you will have each month!

 

Signing your first lease is a milestone, and preparing financially and mentally will make the process a pleasant one. Stay tuned for more in our apartment series, including inexpensive decorating ideas!

Finals Week: De-Stress & Focus on Happiness

1 May

Ah, finals week during the spring semester. Not only are you studying and finishing work for all of your classes, but most of you are also packing up your dorms and apartments to go home for the summer, study abroad, or move for a summer internship. No matter what your plans, there is a lot to prepare for, making your mind wander to some stressful places.

If only there were some ways to de-stress…

Don’t worry, Boilers, we have you covered! Do any of these activities, literally just taking 5 minutes away from your tasks, to regroup and be more productive and less stressed in the end:

Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Sounds fancy, but this is a simple and free way to relax your entire body. You may not realize it, but you’re probably pretty tense right now! Find a quiet place and lie down. Starting with your head and face and then working your way down, contract or “flex” each muscle in your body for five seconds, and then slowly let go. Complete the same sequence in your shoulders, arms, abdomen and so on, ending with your feet and toes. This exercise also works like magic when relaxing your body at bedtime!

Visualization. It does wonders for the mind, and you can visualize to relax yourself, or to feel more positive about and prepared for the future. For relaxation: Close your eyes and imagine a serene place. You may have visited this place or it may be somewhere you have always dreamt of going. Ask yourself: What does this place look like? What does this place sound and smell like? What are you doing while in this space? Allow yourself to dwell in this place engaging all of your senses while breathing deeply. For the future: Set aside all of your worries about the future, no matter how hard that may be. Envision whatever you have been thinking about, happening exactly the way you want it to. You are rocking your summer internship, earning tons of extra spending money at your summer job, making amazing friends while studying abroad. Whatever it is, be specific about what you want and play it out in your head. Research on neuroplasticity proves that we can actually change the structure of our minds by doing activities like this often enough, truly rewiring our brains for success!

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Mindfulness Meditation. To practice, find a quiet room where you can have five minutes to yourself. Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your back straight, set a timer and close your eyes. Focus on your breath by being mindful of the air entering and leaving your nostrils or by focusing on your chest and stomach rising and falling. If your mind wanders, don’t fret! Simply, come back to your awareness of the breath and continue to focus on the sensations the breath produces. Mindfulness is a hot topic these days. Universities are teaching entire mindfulness courses, and there are many apps available to teach you how to get started on your mindfulness journey. A couple of apps you might find interesting are Headspace and The Mindfulness App.

Get some facts on happiness. Do you ever wonder why you are pushing yourself so hard? Or what happiness actually looks like? Professor Laurie Santos at Yale had the same thoughts, which is why she developed the course, “Happiness and the Good Life” (PSYC 157), or as students like to call it, “How to be Happy.” Reading about happiness tools is a great mind shifter, and can help you remember your goals, and also how to maintain happiness, even during these busy times. You can read course materials and take Yale’s Happiness course for FREE! Here is a bit more on the course:

 

 

There are even universities developing entire academic programs around the concept. The University of Pennsylvania’s Applied Positive Psychology program was among one of the first in the nation, and their cutting-edge research is helping people and communities construct meaningful lives.

Practice gratitude. Have you ever tried keeping a gratitude journal? Sometimes the best way to re-orient ourselves, is to simply think of what we are thankful for. Take 5 minutes to write ten things you are grateful for today, whether that is your health, your family, the weather, your good cup of coffee, the fact that you are fortunate enough to even be at Purdue worrying about your finals – anything. You’ll immediately start to see the benefits of this exercise! Time and time again, research shows that gratitude will improve your health and overall quality of life.

 

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Whatever your chosen technique for eliminating stress and relaxing may be, we wish you all the best during finals week and hope you carry these exercises into your daily life!

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