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The Ice Cream Lesson: How to Know Where Your Money Goes

26 Sep

CouponChief Logo (002)

One student we interviewed lived just down the street from an ice cream shop. Most nights, last call for ice cream was .

Invariably, the student would need to take a break from the books at about , and what better way to do that than to take a brief walk and grab a cone?

Often he would invite a friend or two along and pick up the tab for them too. After all, ice cream isn’t all that expensive.

This student took a personal finance class, though, and part of the coursework was to track all expenditures for one month. When the smoke had cleared and the totals were staring at him, he remembers one thing about that exercise especially well: he had spent over $100 at the ice cream shop. And it was winter term!

You should do the same. No, not eat ice cream every day, but track what you spend for a month. Face the reality.

Here’s how to take your financial snapshot:
  1. Keep it simple. You don’t need to micro analyze your spending. We’re just looking for a clear picture of your overall situation.
  2. Determine when you will begin and when you will stop. Typically, a calendar month works just fine.
  3. Determine how you will track what you spend. A simple approach is to use a debit card or credit card for everyth
    ing. That gives you an online trail. For out-of-pocket expenses, carry a small notebook or a few index cards with you and note any cash expenditures on them.
  4. Determine how you will collect and sort your transactions. Banks offer downloadable statements. Most also allow you to sort online and pull down a specific date range. Bring everything into one spreadsheet or bookkeeping program. You’ll need to add your cash transactions in by hand.
  5. Set up your categories and subcategories. It’s helpful to get somewhat granular here, but don’t knock yourself out. The Food category, for instance, could include subcategories for food purchased at the grocery store, from restaurants, from campus food service, and from miscellaneous sources (that’s how the ice cream shop expenditures were captured and noted).
    The exact methodology you employ will be determined by how much latitude you have in setting up the reports pulled from your bank or credit card companies and whether you use an official bookkeeping program or design your own spreadsheet. Either will work, just remember to keep it simple. The easier it is to do, the more likely you are to stick with the plan.
  6. Record your spending during the period without trying to change anything. You want a true picture. Any changes needed will be duly noted and enlisted later. For now, you only want to get at the truth of the matter: how much are you spending and where is it going?
  7. Once your tracking period has ended, pull down the data, clean it up and confirm it, then be prepared to get your eyes opened a bit wider. If you’ve never taken a financial snapshot, you’re sure to be in for some surprises.

Pencil and paper
Here’s one more saying that’s been passed down through generations: “Watch your dimes and your dollars will take care of themselves.”

Most of us will listen up when the discussion is about hundreds or thousands of dollars, but our interest dwindles when the amount seems piddling.

One of our students told a story about waking up in her dorm room to see her roommate unwadding a small pile of dollar bills. They had been laying on our student’s desk.

Noticing she had awakened, the roommate looked sternly at her and said, “Do you know money will take you anyplace you want to go – and you treat it like this?”

It was an impactful lesson in respect. Those who take good care of a little may soon find themselves in possession of a lot.

This is tip #10 of CouponChief.com’s 10 Top Ways Students Can Have More Money This School Year. Be sure to check out the rest of their tips for ways to save and make money throughout the school year!

How I Started to Coupon & Save Big!

21 Sep

Aubrey Rennick, Hospitality Major at Purdue – Class of 2019

Couponing First Haul.png

I was asked to write a little about my adventure into couponing after posting this picture of my first “haul” over the weekend.

I think couponing is great for anyone who wants to save even the smallest amount. If you can save a few dollars every week, you potentially can save more than you ever thought in six months or a year. As a college student, I know what it is like to be tight on money, and I wanted to find a way to save money wherever I could.

I have always been fascinated by the extreme couponers that you see on T.V. who save hundreds of dollars in one trip. I decided to follow some couponing pages on Facebook, and I chose to stick to Dollar General pages because I had read that it was easier to follow than trying to start out at Walmart or CVS.

It took me a long time to try and understand all of the lingo being used on the page. Dollar General has an app that you can use digital coupons allowing you to simply clip the coupons on the app, then type in your number at checkout to apply the coupons. I started there because I was not subscribed to a newspaper, so I did not have access the paper coupons but I eventually learned you can print out coupons!

I have only been doing this for a few weeks, and I still have so much more to learn. There are so many rules and different ways that coupons will work. I subscribed to a newspaper and started asking people I knew if I could have their coupons inserts. That is how people get so much stuff, they have a lot of coupons.

My first two trips to Dollar General resulted in me saving money, but I still spent well over $10. I made it my goal to try and get as close to $0 as I could get. I rounded up coupons and studied what other people were doing on the Facebook pages. I learned that certain coupons give you “overage” which means the coupon value exceeds the value of the product you are buying.

I went to one Dollar General only to find that they had about half of the items I was looking for. I still managed to save over $40 and bring my balance down to $5 AFTER taxes.

I decided to hit up another store location, and found all but one of the items. I saved over $45 on that trip, and actually had a NEGATIVE balance.

This meant I could get some other things I wanted/needed for free to get my balance above 0. I was so happy and proud that I had figured out how to start somewhere.

As far as what items I am looking for, I am limited when it comes to coupons. Most of the time it is household products. There will hardly ever be any food deals besides candy and snacks.

I know a lot of the stuff I got on my big haul I personally will not use. I plan on donating items to women’s shelters, disaster relief, or animal shelters. Big things I am going to keep an eye out for are things like toilet paper, paper towels, and toothpaste. These are things that I use daily and can end up being pricey when you start adding it up!

Eat Healthy-Even on a College Budget

19 Sep

Heather Kessler, Purdue University Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

healthy-eating-on-college-budget

Is it really possible to eat healthy while on a small college budget? There are many guides on the internet offering advice on this topic. I’ve gone ahead and broken down a few of the most common suggestions.

1)      Always have low-budget healthy staples on hand.  This is just a small list of what can be helpful to have in the pantry or fridge at all times.

list of healthy foods

2)      Have a plan before you shop.

  • Check to see what is on sale that week at local grocery stores, and what coupons are available
  • Make a menu for the next week (or two)
  • See what you already have in stock in your kitchen
  • Make a list of the other items you need
  • Stick to that list while shopping for items
  • Try to stay around the perimeter of the grocery store as this is where the healthy produce tends to be.  The aisles usually contain items that have been processed and are not very healthy.

grocery store producs

3)      If you struggle with buying more when you have a card, plan how much you are willing to spend ahead of time and get just that amount in cash.  This will help you keep to your pre-determined budget and be less likely to overspend.

4)      For fruits and vegetables try to stick with what is in season and on sale, as it will keep the prices down.  Frozen vegetables are also good to use and will keep longer (and can usually be found at lower prices than fresh vegetables).  Canned is okay, but they tend to use more preservatives in the canning process.

5)      For lean protein on a budget, try to stay with white meats.  Chicken and turkey are both great options.  If you are willing to spend a little more money, salmon or tilapia offer wonderful health benefits.

6)      Whole grains offer the most nutrition for the dollar with items such as bread or pasta.  Try to avoid white bread and pasta since they are processed and most of their nutrients have been taken out.

Try not to waste any of the food you have, you invested good money into those items and they should be used.  If you need ideas on different entrees to make with the same ingredients Pinterest or The Food Network have many different ideas and they are easy to navigate through.  Here’s to healthy eating and more money in your bank account!

Cheap On-Campus Fun

18 Aug

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

txt-bell-tower

Looking for something to do on the weekend but running out of money? Try some of these fun activities available on Purdue’s campus to keep you entertained while saving money.

Purdue Student Union Board Events

The Purdue Student Union Board (PSUB) is a student run organization that provides students with different activities throughout the year. Most of the time the events they put on are free and involve getting free food! These events are a great way to meet new people, have fun, and save money. For a list of events take a look at their website as events change from semester to semester.

girl walking on Purdue campusExplore

This is always an interesting way to spend a few hours. You can either walk around campus and visit places you have never been or take a walk across the bridge and see what downtown Lafayette has to offer. Or get in your car and see where the road takes you. You never know what you might find while exploring. Have you ever been to Purdue’s Horticulture Park? Definitely worth the short drive (or walk if you live in McCutcheon or Harrison hall).

Having a hard time deciding where to go on your adventure? Every time you come to an intersection while walking or driving, take out a coin and flip it. If it lands on heads take a right and if it lands on tails go left. Let fate decide your adventure!

Flicks at Fowler

Every few weeks PSUB will show a movie in Fowler Hall located in the Stewart Center (or on Slayter Hill when the weather is nice). Students can get in for free when they show their Purdue ID and general admission is $4. Not only do you get to see movies for free but they are fairly recent movies. Visit the PSUB website for dates and movie titles.

Trivia Night

Another event PSUB puts on for students is a trivia night which takes place in the Union Commons or Pappy’s Sweet Shop. Your Purdue ID is usually required to participate. They even give away prizes to the top team!  So grab your friends and test your knowledge on 90s, sports, television, and more!

girls on rowing machinesCoRec

Looking for something a little more active? Try going to the CoREC. You get in free with your Purdue ID and they have everything from weights and treadmills to a pool and rock climbing wall. You can even join an intramural team if you are willing to pay a small fee. You then get to compete in your favorite sport with different teams.

These are just a few of the options for free things to do on Purdue’s campus. There’s always lots being offered so be sure to keep your eyes open and try something new!

Share your favorite ways to have fun in the comments below!

Freshman Boot Camp: Money Saving Tips for Students

10 Aug

Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
wallethacks.com

College is a fantastic time of exploration, freedom, and growth.

It’s also a time when many of our habits are formed, especially those about money and saving. These habits can have a ripple effect on your life so solidifying a few good practices today can help you better manage the future.

I have a list of 40+ money tips for college students, which cover the basics like emergency funds and budgeting, but today I wanted to share an extra set of just money saving tips every college student needs.6 Easy Money Saving Tips

Avoid credit card debt at all costs

It’s so easy to charge everything to plastic. Whether it’s textbooks, equipment, or a pizza, make sure that you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

It’s so tempting to pay the minimum and push the debt off another month, but that will result in you paying hundreds of dollars (if not more!) in interest for nothing. If you don’t believe me, you can use this calculator to do the math yourself and find out how much that $20 pizza will cost you!

That’s money you can use to save for your retirement, for a new car, or your first house. Avoiding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is priority number one after graduation.

Start budgeting

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do but getting in the habit early is a good idea. When you budget, you have a better sense of where your money is going.

You can use tools like Mint or Personal Capital to help automate the process and when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the wealth of historic information you’re recording now.

Cook more, eat out less

Your studies and your social activities will probably take up a big chunk of your time, so you’ll be tempted to eat out more than you cook if you’re not on a university meal plan.

Resist the temptation! Eating at a restaurant, even a quick service one, is far more expensive than cooking at home. In the beginning, you’ll be terrible at it. Everyone is.

But stick with it and try to cook as much as you can. It’s healthier, cheaper, and you’ll get better the more often you do it.

Take advantage of student discounts

Businesses give student discounts all the time. They know that students don’t make a lot of money and they still want your business, so they’re willing to give you a break if they know you’re a student.

Always keep your student ID on you and ask if a student discount is available – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Use your student loan for tuition only!

Some student loans are deposited directly into your student account and some are deposited directly into your bank account. If you have one of the latter, do not use the money for anything other than tuition and school related expenses.

If you have no other choice, you can use it on necessities but your goal should be to avoid debt as much as possible. Sometimes you don’t have any other options, and that’s understandable, but make sure before you saddle yourself with student debt.

Earn a little cash in your spare time

We all have downtime during the day and on weekends – try to find a way to turn that time into money.

Whether it’s taking on a side gig, earning some cash online through surveys, or something bigger – building a side hustle that earns a little extra money can pay dividends in the long run. There are a lot of sites online that will pay you money for small segments of work, or gigs, and you can easily finish them in 5-15 minutes of down time.

Jim Wang writes about money on his personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks. Get his strategies and tactics for getting ahead financially and in life by joining his free newsletter.

Freshman Boot Camp: Your Student Discount

9 Aug

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Counselor – Purdue University

Student discounts are one of the nicest perks you get from being a student. Combined with all the events that hand out giveaways and free food, using your student discount can help keep you within a budget.

So here’s a list of places that you can get a student discount at! Just keep in mind that this isn’t everywhere that offers one, so always ask when you buy something if they offer a discount!

StudentID Discount.png

Shopping

  • Amazon: Join Amazon Student for free two-day shipping for your first 6 months. Just remember to cancel it before the 6 months is up if you’re not interested in subscribing for $49 a year (50% of standard Prime cost). Not to mention with the Amazon Stores in the Union and Krach, you can get packages delivered directly to campus!
  • Apple: $5/ month Apple Music subscription and a bunch of random discounts on macs, iPads, and other products
  • Banan Republic: 15% off
  • Charlotte Russe: 10% off
  • Dell: $150 off PCs
  • FedEx: 20-30% discount on documents and packages
  • Microsoft: 10% off
  • Toms: Free shipping on all orders
  • Sam’s Club: $40 membership plus $15 gift card given to you

Entertainment & Travel

  • Amtrack: 15% off if you book ahead
  • Wabash Landing Movie Theater: Save on your movie tickets $.50 – $1.50 depending on the time of the movie. They also have a rewards program that is free to join for free concessions.
  • Rugged Xscape Escape Room: $2.00 off
  • Purdue sporting events!

There are also other discounts around the area, but unfortunately they are difficult to track down individually online.

Food*

  • Arby’s: 10% off
  • Buffalo Wild Wings: 10% off
  • Burger King: 10% off
  • Chick-fil-A: Free drinks with a meal
  • Chipotle: Free drink with a meal
  • Dairy Queen: 10% off
  • Kroger/ Payless: 5% off
  • Papa John’s 10-20% off
  • Pizza Hut: 10-20% off
  • Qdoba: Free drink with a meal and burrito meal for $5
  • Subway: 10% off
  • Taco Bell: 10% off

*All of these are depending on the location, but it’s worth it to ask!

Freshman Boot Camp: Budgeting Your Financial Aid Refund

9 Aug

One of the mantras told to college students is to “Live within your means”. While it’s good advice to generally follow, it doesn’t get at how difficult it can be to do so while you’re in college. One of the biggest challenges college students face is that their incoming flow of cash tends to be extremely irregular.Budgeting your Refund.png

You might be sitting on a big pile of cash after your financial aid refund comes in, but if you don’t budget it correctly you’ll be broke before the semester ends. So in order to avoid eating exclusively ramen at the end of the semester you’ll want to come up with a strategy for taking care of your money!

As a student, you probably have three potential avenues to get an incoming cash-flow. They are your financial aid refund, a part-time job, and cash gifts for holidays and your birthday. Your parents might also throw something your way once in a while but no one wants to have to ask just because you weren’t keeping track.

Making a realistic budget can be tough but once you know your income it does get a little bit easier. So total up what you’ll get between your financial aid refund and what you’ll get from work. If you know for sure what you’ll get for gifts you can toss that in, but that’s not a for-sure thing.

Next, start by totaling up all of your projected expenses for each month. Aside from obvious things like rent, utilities, food, and other monthly bills you’ll need to include a projected number for having fun. If you know some times of the year like Grand Prix or Homecoming you’ll be spending extra, try to account for that by varying it up by month.

What’s important here is to make sure that your total income is higher than your total expenditures. If it’s not, there’s going to be a big problem.

Assuming the numbers add up, you’ll have a little bit of a strange result. You’ll have your monthly expenditures but your income will be a combination of paychecks and a one-time refund from your financial aid.

There’s actually a surprisingly simple way to be able to make this into a steady income flow without being tempted by the big number in your checking account.

This method is called using a Holding Account. Basically you take the lump sum of money and deposit it into a bank account and set up recurring transfers to your primary checking account on a monthly basis. This way between your income from work and the transfers you’ll be able to pay your monthly expenses without having the temptation to make a big impulse purchase.

If you want to de-automate it a bit, you could actually have them both as checking accounts and write a check from your holding account to yourself on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and deposit it into your other checking account.

This system is not fool-proof but it combines the ability to pay your bills and have some fun while also putting up a small barrier to the full sum to keep you from tapping out your semester’s funds on a whim.

Something to note: make sure that your holding account doesn’t have any fees related to minimum transactions or minimum balance if you can. It doesn’t make any sense to pay one bank to hold your money when there’s plenty of others that’ll do it for free.

If you find that your financial aid refund is going to be much more than you’ll need to meet your expenses and you’re taking loans, it’s worth looking into reducing what you borrow. Remember that not only do you have to pay back what you borrow, you’ll be accruing interest on most loans until the day they are paid off.

What’s a Purdue ID Good For?

20 Jul

example Purdue student IDWhat is your Purdue ID good for?

It’s your personal identification number, it’s how you get into your residence hall, it’s your meal ticket if you have a meal plan, it’s your verification when turning in an exam, it’s what offices require to see your student account information, and it’s how you ride the bus for free.

Not to be dramatic, but you can hardly without your Purdue ID! Although memorizing the number is highly recommended, there are other reasons to carry around the card with you.

Housing:

If you live in the residence halls, this is how you swipe into your building, and potentially even the wing you live on.

Meal Plan: 

If you have a meal plan, this is how you swipe into the dining courts. Each swipe counts as a meal. Some dining courts offer premium “double swipe” meals, like steak or other higher quality options. Double swipe meals count as two MEALS, so be careful how often you partake!

eating.jpg

On-the-Go! uses swipes in a similar fashion. On-the-GO! is your carry-out option for dining. Located adjacent to Earhart, Ford, and Windsor Dining Courts, On-the-GO! provides a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and snack items. Signs are posted in the On-the-Go! locations stating much each item is worth. You add up all the items until it totals one meal swipe.

Dining Dollars: Dining Dollars are additional meal swipes on top of the meal plan that can be used. These are used more for eating out or in the mini marts around campus. Cary Knight Spot and Harrison Grillé are restaurants on campus that accept student’s Dining Dollars. Restaurants in the Union also accept Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars can purchase other items besides food though. Mini marts also accept Dining Dollars, and while they have food items, school supplies, shampoo, etc. It’s similar to a small convenience store.

If you have any questions on how meal swipes, dining dollars, and BoilerExpress work, be sure to check out this article from Purdue Dining and Catering.

Boiler Express:

Boiler Express is like a pre-paid debit card. Please note: Boiler Express must be set up separately, I repeat Boiler Express is separate and your refund does not automatically go into a Boiler Express Card. Boiler Express can be used at the same places as Dining Dollars. It can also be used in the laundry facilities. Each residence hall has a laundry room and you can swipe your Purdue ID to use your Boiler Express funds instead of quarters. They do offer a discounted price if you use Boiler Express instead of quarters! Click here, for more information regarding this program.

Discounts and Freebies:

You can ride the bus for free with your Purdue ID card. Did you also know that many places offer discounts to students? Not sure how the bus system works? Check out this article.

You never know, flashing your Purdue ID might give you the unexpected, but oh-so coveted discount. So be sure to show it any time you make a purchase around town. Also, many Purdue-sponsored functions (Convocations, Union activities, sporting events, or even resident hall activities) often offer discounts to students which is a good reason to keep your ID on you to verify that you are a student.

lafayette-citybus.jpg

Meal Swipes & More: Paying for your Meals at Purdue

6 Jul Text "meal swipes and more: paying for your meals at Purdue" over picture of dining court food

Purdue Dining and Catering offers several different payment methods to its patrons: meal swipes, dining dollars, Boiler Express, and cash/credit options. Below you will find an explanation of each option, culminating in a cost-effectiveness evaluation.

Meal Swipes: During academic semesters (including Maymester and summer school), students have the ability to purchase a meal plan, providing them with meal swipes. There are several different types of meal plans, which are covered in this blog. Meal swipes allow the student to swipe his or her student ID card and enter the dining court quickly. They are prepaid via the meal plans, which range in totadiningdollars_tall_meal-plan_purdue (2).jpgl pricing from $2,998-$5,398. Depending on the meal plan purchased, a student can have anywhere from 8 to unlimited meal swipes per week. Students holding one of the unlimited meal plans are given 16 meals per year with which they can swipe in friends or parents. Students on the 8 or 13 meal plans cannot bring in friends or parents, as the swipes are exclusive to the intended cardholder.

Dining Dollars: The second most popular student option. Dining dollars come pre-loaded on the student’s meal plan. Some meal plans are sold without dining dollars, so be aware of the dining dollar total presented with the meal plan you select. Dining dollars can only be re-loaded if you purchase the Boiler Flex Unlimited plans. Dining dollars are a great option, as they allow the student to bring in guests. The student will be asked whether or not their guest is a fellow student. Student pricing is slightly cheaper, as it is tax-free. The guest will be asked to produce a student ID to verify their status. A student dinner with dining dollars costs $9.60.

BoilerExpress: a third, slightly more expensive option. BoilerExpress accounts are helpful for off-campus students, employees of the university, or the student who has run out of dining dollars. Their pricing is a little steeper, coming in at $11.40 for a student dinner. Students can use their BoilerExpress accounts to bring in friends and parents in a manner similar to dining dollars. Employees can use BoilerExpress accounts to purchase meals at a discounted rate. BoilerExpress accounts are also valuable in their potential for refunded money. Unspent dining dollars expire at the end of the academic year; unspent BoilerExpress money can be refunded to a student as long as the account total is in excess of $10. It’s important to note that any deposit in a BoilerExpress account results in a convenience fee of $3, so when depositing, be sure to think ahead to future costs.

Cash & Card: Finally, anyone can purchase entry to Purdue’s buffet-style dining via cash or credit card. This is the most expensive of the options, costing $11.90 for a student dinner, and $12.73 for a non-student guest. Students can, again, show their IDs for tax exempt pricing, and if a family chooses to eat at a dining hall, children aged 3-10 will receive a discounted price. Purdue Dining accepts Visa and MasterCard.

Ideally, an incoming student will select the most appropriate meal plan and feed his or herself primarily using meal swipes. This is the most cost-effective option, assuming the student is not overpaying for unused swipes. If a student runs out of swipes for the week, the next best option is to pay using dining dollars. If the student does not have dining dollars, they can use BoilerExpress, or lastly, pay using cash or a credit card. It is important to make sure you know how many meals you have left per week! You can ask the employee who swipes you in to let you know how many meals you have remaining. If you choose to buy a meal using dining dollars or BoilerExpress, be sure to ask for your receipt, as it will have your current account totals printed on it. Being aware of your options when it comes to the dining halls can save you more money than you would expect!

Is Having a Car in College Worth It?

1 Jun

car in college.jpg

Having a car in college can lead to some really fun times. Cross country road trips in the summer, getaway weekends and nights out on the town are all easier for students who bring a car to campus. However, maintaining a car as a student probably costs more than you think. So, when is it worth it?

The Privilege of Car Ownership

There are many advantages to owning a vehicle as a college student. First and foremost is the flexibility and freedom a car affords. You’ll no longer be dependent on other drivers when you’re making plans – simply by having a car you have more say in what it you can do and what you want to do.  And, of course, your commute to campus is likely to be a bit shorter; so hitting the snooze button a few times won’t ruin your morning.

Owning a car in college can help you make and save money, too. Since you can commute a little further, you’ll be able to consider a wider selection of off-campus jobs. And with all that carrying capacity, you can tackle a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single day. If your kitchen is stocked, you’ll cook more and eat out less (and all without hauling groceries on foot or by bus).

Car ownership in college also has benefits beyond daily usage. When you really want to get out of town, having a car will make it happen. This is especially true given how difficult it can be for college students to rent cars at affordable rates.

Important Auto Considerations

gas prices are expensive

Despite all the benefits, however, there are some important financial factors you should consider before you decide to own a car while in college.

Gas is expensive, and it’s going to stay that way. The average car in the U.S. consumes around $1,000 worth of gas each year. If you drive your car regularly, you can probably expect to fill your tank once a week. Before you commit to bringing a car to college you need to determine how much it costs on average to fill the tank and how often you expect you’ll fill it up. If possible, you’ll of course want to bring a car with good gas mileage.

Car insurance is another major cost you’ll need to factor into your budget if you drive during college. Premiums are higher for anyone under the age of 25, whether or not they are enrolled in college. The good news is that, on average, Indiana auto insurance premiums are among the lowest in the country.

You’ll also want to consider the cost of campus parking before bringing your car to school. Here are the Purdue rates for parking permits. You should also make certain you are eligible; this is determined by the distance between your home and the campus.

Finally, when deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile to bring a car to college, you have to budget for damages and repairs. The average car needs just over $400 a year in repairs, not including oil changes. You can save some money changing your own oil and rotating your own tires, assuming you know how to do so safely.

Cost-Effective Alternatives

So what are the alternatives to keeping a car at college? There are a number of great ways to get around in West Lafayette:

  • Public transportation: The bus system in West Lafayette is very interconnected with Purdue and free for students to use. The university is central to the area, meaning the bus system can get you to the campus Lafayette CitBusfrom almost anywhere.
  • Bicycles, skateboards and so on: Bicycling is a great alternative in West Lafayette, and many people make it their main mode of transportation. Skateboarding, rollerblading and walking are also options, especially if you live on or close to campus.
  • Zipcar: The local branch of this car sharing service is available to anyone over 18 and caters to Purdue students, faculty and staff.

The Bottom Line

Because car ownership is such a complex financial commitment, you’ll need to do extensive research before you know whether or not it’s a sensible investment. In a nine-month academic year, AAA reports that the average small car costs more than $3,000, including gas, insurance and maintenance; this doesn’t factor in parking costs and non-standard repairs. As a college student, you can’t afford to gloss over such a pricey and important decision.

Karla Lant is a life insurance writer for The Simple Dollar. She helps everyday people understand and master life insurance issues and questions. Lant has dealt with related regulatory issues in her work as an attorney and has researched and published on life insurance and estate planning. She has also taught subjects related to life insurance as an adjunct professor. Here is her Facebook page

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