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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

4 Financial Goals You Can Actually Achieve in 2017

21 Dec

Did you know that January 17th is known as “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day?” Most people start the new year with big, lofty goals and they quickly come to realize they bit off more than they can chew. According to the University of Scranton, around 40% of Americans usually make new year’s resolutions. Of that 40%, only 8% say they actually meet their goals.

The key to having successful resolutions is to make sure they are simple and achievable. Rather than setting a goal, such as “lose 10 pounds”, try to set a smaller resolution that you can control like, “go to the gym at least 3 days a week”.
Financial New Years Goals.jpg
In 2016, over 30% of Americans had a resolution to save more and spend less. In order to move closer to that goal, it’s important to set simple, achievable resolutions that will improve your finances. If you’re unsure where to start, try making any of these attainable goals your resolutions for 2017.

Saving Your Coffee Money
Coffee is a morning staple for so many people. However, those daily visits to your favorite shop can add up quickly. An average transaction at Starbucks this past year was nearly $9, that adds up to a whopping $2,340 a year! In 2017, set a goal to make your coffee at home. A new automatic coffee maker can be a great investment to ensure you get your coffee without having to spend the extra time and money every morning.

Cut One Service You Don’t Use
That $20 charge for a music-streaming service may not seem that expensive, but if you’re not using it, then you’re just wasting money you could actually be saving. Try laying out all of the expenses you have for services like these, in order of most used to least. For next year, cancel the service you least used this past year. Even if it’s only $20, it can lead up to $240 per year in savings! With technology improving more and more for streaming TV shows and movies, it may be time to finally cancel that cable subscription.

Understand Your Debt
Nearly every American will deal with debt at some point in their lives. From student loan debt to mortgages, it’s important to understand not only how much debt you have, but where it is and how it’s affecting your life. With the rising student loan debt each year, it’s important for graduates to understand each loan and how much their payments will be. To get ready for 2017, make a spreadsheet with all of the loan payments you have (education, car, home, etc.) and how much you can contribute each month to pay them off as quickly as possible. The sooner you pay them off, the more money you will save over the life of the loan. Also, the faster those loans are paid off, the quicker you can spend that money on something like retirement or that vacation you’ve always wanted. There are now even more services for graduates that allow to you refinance your loans, for a lower rate and even the ability to adjust or skip your monthly payment.

Brown Bag It
Grabbing that delicious salad from your favorite cafe may seem like a great idea in the moment, but doing that throughout the week can lead to a big chunk taken out of your bank account. The average lunch in the United States is around $10, so if you eat out every day of the week, excluding weekends, you will be spending around $2,600 a year just on lunch. For 2017, start bringing your lunch to work or school, rather than eating out, and watch just how much you save. Also, by making your lunch at home, you have the ability to control the portions and health benefits of your food.

Ultimately, whatever goals you hope to meet in 2017, just be sure that you make simple resolutions that you can actually achieve. Just like the fable The Tortoise and the Hare says, “slow and steady wins the race!”

Black Friday Shopping (without hating yourself)

22 Nov

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Black Friday is one of the strangest times of the year. Steep discounts on electronics and other items have people lining up and camping out for these “doorbuster” deals for hours before opening. So, how do you take fullest advantage of the Black Friday savings without regretting the missed hours of sleep? Depending on what you’re looking for, you may be able to save money without all the hassle.

If after scouring the various Black Friday ads, you have found a doorbuster deal that you can’t miss out on you’ll want to be prepared. Find out what time the stores you’re interested in open and plan to be in line well before that depending on the location. At places like Target or Wal-Mart expect people to be setting up shop well ahead of time. Some stores are also open on Thanksgiving for those of you who are willing to forsake their second helping of turkey. In the event you’re going to be part of a (hopefully civilized) mob storming a store, knowing where your desired item is beforehand will probably be the difference in getting it or not.

Remember to keep your receipts from your Black Friday deals that you buy for yourself and to get gift receipts if you’re getting a gift for someone else. It’s an easy details that you can lose in the chaos, but extremely important in the event you need to return it.

The doorbuster deals and people lining up for hours may get all of the attention but there are much easier ways to get those great deals without wasting your Thanksgiving evening or sleep. Aside from a few deals, almost everything will be available online for the same prices. A nice kicker? Many places offer free shipping with their deals as well. You can do this all from the comfort of your own home without waiting in the cold for hours. Additionally, you can wait a few days to check out the Cyber Monday deals as well as comparing with other stores online to see who has the best offers! Overall, you are likely going to get just as great of a deal by shopping online and comparing prices as you are with joining the crazies.

An often overlooked, yet easy, method to get great discounts is by giving into the store’s attempts to connect with you. Follow them on social media, download their apps, register an account on their website, etc. These are all great ways to get exclusive coupons that can add up quickly helping you save big without wading through the crowds.

The experience of joining the pack for the crazy openings may appeal to some, but to many others it is a hassle not even worth contemplating. If you’ve tried it and never want to see that craziness again, or just don’t even want to see it, don’t feel like you can’t get great deals too. Just like any time you are shopping for big-ticket items you just need to compare prices, amass coupons and other discounts and you can come out hundreds of dollars ahead. The work you put in to shop intelligently is well worth the minimal effort it takes.

DIY Halloween Costume Ideas

17 Oct

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

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As fall winds down and Halloween approaches, so does the need for costumes! (But if you’ve been participating in Breakfast Club, you probably have at least one good outfit tucked back somewhere.) There are several different kinds of costume parties from come as whatever (including yourself) to themed parties (like hillbilly or dress as your favorite Star Wars character) to wear whatever you can make at home (human lamp, anyone?). No one wants to shell out a bunch of money on an outfit that’s going to be worn once. Below are a couple cheap staples to have on hand (and that you probably already own) that can work to make a cool (and cheap!) costume.

90s doodle bear

Bleach Pen

Bleach pens are great because you have pin-point precision to draw with. If you have an all-black outfit, draw stars on it and you can be a galaxy. All-pink? You can be one of those doodle bears from the 90s that you washed and doodled on again and again. Fabric markers work very similar to the bleach pens. Draw whatever you want! One of the nice things about fabric markers is there are different colors. They are also great for ironic/sarcastic tee-shirts. Tee shirt costumes are pretty simple, and tee shirts are really cheap! Besides, it can ripped up for more bloodied looks too.

Cardboard Boxes

Most of us living in apartments have these lying around just from the moving process. Youcan be a Rubic’s Cube, a robot, a Lego, or any other creation you can dream up. Need a pair of wings? Just trace the outline on the box and cut it out.

cardboard robot

An Old Sheet

And I emphasis an old one because who wants to sleep on a sheet with an old spill stain on it? You can be cheesy and go as a ghost, or it can be a cape for an impromptu super hero (waffle man, anyone?), It could even be your next toga.

Thick Black Eyeliner

While girls probably have this on hand, guys may not. It’s the perfect tool to draw an animal mask on your face. For a more masculine approach, draw tire treads on your face and have someone run over a tee shirt and you can be road kill.

Plaid Shirt

Maybe you want to be a lumberjack. Maybe you want to be a hipster Disney princess. Maybe you’re a picnic blanket. Your plaid shirt never looked so versatile.

Green Tights

Oddly specific, but a costume essential. You can be so many things: Peter Pan, a woodland faerie, Link (from The Legend of Zelda), mother nature (or something nature-esque) Robin Hood… Green is everywhere!!

Footie Pajamas

Footie pajamas are warm. Most people think of “adult child”, but itcan be far more than that. Wantto be an animal? You have a neck to toe covering! It also works for mythical creatures. Maybe you’re a person hunter and that’s your “kill”.

Flo & Mayhem insurance costumes

Suits

Now if you’re going to the party of the century, maybe your best dress clothes are not a good idea. Do you have dress pants that are just a little too short, a shirt with a hole in it, something that just isn’t quite doing the trick anymore? That would work! You can also go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Suits are great for historical figures, for costume pairs like a runaway groom and a controlling bride, “monkey suits”, and Mayhem costumes.

 

And if none of these work for you, Goodwill and other thrift stores are always awesome places to find costume goodies. Grandpa/granny clothes, 80s prom dresses, scrubs, mom jeans, Daisy Dukes (in the men’s section)… I mean the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination (or your Pinterest searching abilities). So regardless of how many parties there are to attend and no matter how over-the-top your idea, you don’t need to break the bank to create an awesome costume.

Frugal Date Ideas for the Fall

13 Oct

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

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.

allen leaves on dirt path  text overlay: Frugal Date Ideas for Fall

 

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, 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!

Choosing a Meal Plan at Purdue

31 Aug

For the 2016-2017 school year, Purdue Dining & Catering will be offering six different meal plans. If you are an incoming freshman, four of these six possibilities will be open to you.

Boiler Flex Unlimited 500 Plan: For the Famously Hungry Student
If you plan to eat at a dining court three times a day, seven days a week, this is the plan for you, as you will have unlimited meal swipes. The Flex 500 plan is also most favorable for students who prefer to eat in retail operations, as it provides the student with $500 dining dollars (more than any other plan). Dining dollars allow students to pay using their ID rather than cash/credit at retail operations. The Boiler Flex Unlimited 500 Plan comes with an additional 8 meal swipes per week in one of our On-the-Go! or Take Out locations. Students on this plan also get 8 free guest meals per semester, adding up to 16 total guest meals per school year. This allows students to bring in friends and family without sacrificing dining dollars or Boiler Express totals. This plan costs $5,398.Meal_Plan_Purdue_tall2.jpg

Boiler Flex Unlimited 250 Plan: Unlimited on a Budget
Students on this plan also receive the yearly 16 guest meals, unlimited access to the dining courts, and 8 meal swipes per week in one of our On-the-Go! or Take Out locations. However, they get half the dining dollars of the previous plan ($250 as opposed to $500). The Flex 250 plan is more suitable for a student who does not plan to eat in retail operations frequently, but would still like to get in their three full meals a day. This plan costs $5,172.

13-Meal Track: For the Less Voracious Eater
This plan gives the student a finite number of meals per week. This plan is suited well to students who will likely skip breakfast in favor of sleeping in. With this meal plan, a student can purchase lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, as well as lunch on Sunday. As this plan has a finite number of swipes, the student is free to spend as many of his or her 13 swipes in any of our On-the-Go! or Take Out locations as they would like. They also receive $450 dining dollars, allowing them to eat at retail operations or pay for friends at their discretion. This plan costs $4,554.

8-Meal Track: A Meal Plan on a Budget
This option is the cheapest, but it does not offer dining dollars to students, meaning they will have to pay with BoilerExpress or cash/credit at any retail operations. Similarly, they would have to use BoilerExpress or cash/credit to pay for friends or family. A student on this meal plan might have classes scheduled throughout the day and find his or herself only able to eat in the evenings and weekends. These students are also welcome to use as many of their meal swipes at any of our On-the-Go! or Take Out locations as they would like. This plan costs $2,998.

If you will be a Purdue student at sophomore status or above, two more options are available to you:

Boiler Block Plan: A Plan Off-Campus Students Might Be Particularly Interested In
This option provides students with a total 246 meals at the dining halls throughout an entire academic year. This plan is also unique in that these students are allowed to use their swipes on their friends or other guests. If you choose this plan, be sure to stay on top of how many swipes you have remaining! This plan also comes with $450 in dining dollars so students can take advantage of restaurants in the Union or other retail operations. These students are also welcome to use as many of their meal swipes at any of our On-the-Go! or Take Out locations as they would like. This plan costs $4,292.

Boiler Gold Plan: Available For Hawkins Hall Residents
It consists of $1500 dining dollars and no meal swipes. As Hawkins Hall residents have kitchens on each floor, students using this meal plan might cook the majority of their meals in the hall and occasionally get a meal or two per week at a dining operation. The Boiler Gold Plan is a good backup to have handy when working on group projects on campus or if you need a quick Starbucks pick-me-up during finals week! This plan costs $1500 for the academic year ($750 per semester).

When choosing your meal plan, you should take into account the amount of meals you eat regularly, as well as your class schedule and previous habits. You can upgrade your meal plan to add more meals at any time, so if you start out on the 13-Meal Track and find yourself wishing you could eat more often, you can change your meal plan mid-semester. Purdue will then bill you the difference. However, you cannot downgrade your meal plan mid-semester; you will have to wait until winter break to change it. While the financial costs should play a role in deciding which plan is right for you, always make sure you are getting enough to eat!

On-the-GO!

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. Beverages are free when you swipe your PUID and use the refillable cup that is provided to each student during move-in. You may use multiple swipes per visit in On-the-GO! On-the-GO! offers convenience for students who don’t have time to stop and sit down for a meal. The service is quick and the choices are many.

One meal swipe = 1 entree & 3 side items + a free refill in your reusable mug

What You Will Find At On-the-GO!

Cereal bowls, milk, muffins, bagels, yogurt parfaits, Little Debbie snacks, granola, cookies, Pop Tarts, Smucker’s Uncrustables, snack mixes, cottage cheese, apple slices, whole fresh fruit, pita bread & hummus, entrée and house salads, wraps, sandwiches, veggie combos, Coke, coffee and more.

All On-the-GO! locations are open to all Purdue students using meal swipes. You can use multiple swipes if you’d like. On-the-GO! only accepts meal swipes that accompany your meal plan.

Looking for options other than the dining courts? 7 Extra Ways to Use Your Meal Swipes

10 Steps to Financial Success

9 Aug

  1. Assess your station in life

    Taking an honest look at your wants and needs can help you prioritize what is most important to you right now. Do you feel good about your current station in life? Are you headed in the right direction?

  2. Plan for life changes

    Almost without exception, your needs are going to be different in five years than they are now. Whether you will be graduating, getting married, having children, or switching careers, there will be changes to account for. The best thing you can do is to be prepared for them.

  3. Invest in yourself10 financial tips portrait.jpg

    The one person you have to live with your entire life is you. Taking care of yourself mentally, financially, and physically on a consistent basis will reap lifelong benefits. In addition, challenge yourself to improve and try new things because a good investment should focus on growth, not staying the same.

  4. Write down your goals

    Having goals gives you something to work toward. Writing these goals down makes your plans concrete and more likely to materialize.

  5. Keep adequate records

    In addition to keeping track of tax and other documents for an appropriate length of time, you also want to keep records of your spending habits. You might feel like you’re spending too much on something, like eating out, but being able to track your spending will help you find out for sure.

  6. Pay yourself first

    Saving money can be simple or nearly impossible. If you take money from your paycheck and immediately deposit it into a savings account, it’s easy (completely effortless if via direct deposit). If you try to scrape together what’s left at the end of a pay period and deposit it to savings, or keep it sitting in your checking account, it’s almost impossible. Be sure your bills are paid, but consider setting aside a certain amount for savings each pay period.

  7. Cut expenses

    Even the most frugal among us have places where we can afford to cut costs in some capacity. For the average person, things like reducing bills, food costs, or under-used entertainment and gym memberships can make a significant financial impact in the short term.

  8. Spend much less than you earn

    Spending just a little less than you earn is a good way to perpetually live paycheck to paycheck. However, if you can reshape your

  9. Pay down your debt

    Debt can be an enormous stressor and it doesn’t get better by itself. Every dollar that you can pay back ahead of time is a dollar that doesn’t collect interest. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.

  10. Create a budget and stick to it

    After you’ve gone through the first nine steps, this one is easy. Once you have an honest assessment of where you are and where you’re hoping to go, you can begin creating your budget. Design your budget so that you can pay for your needs, as well as the wants you have prioritized. The key is following through on your budget! Remember that the budget is simply a spending plan of where you want your funds to go. If you fail to follow through, you will hurt yourself, both now and in the future.

Should I Buy These Shoes?

5 Oct

Amy Ledman, Financial Aid Administrator and Purdue Alumni
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

A common statement you hear people say is “live like a college student.”   To most, this means live cheaply or live within your means.  Trying to live within your means might be difficult when it’s your first time living on your own.  When you’re out with friends and shopping here are a few questions to ask yourself.

Do I need this or do I want this?  Keep in mind that it’s insanely easy to convince yourself a want is a need if your want is strong enough.  If you need something it means you cannot survive without it.  That means water, food, and preferably shoes without holes.  So if you’re on the fence of buying your 5th pair of sandals it’s time to step back and think if you really need a rainbow choice.  Or just maybe you should save this money for a weeks worth of groceries.

Will this be practical?  A good way to save money is by spending it wisely.  Say your professor states you need to dress up for a day and you only own flip-flops.  Clearly nice pair of shoes is needed.   This would be classified as something you should own, but be practical.  Look for a pair that is versatile enough that they can be used for different situations.  While the jazzy hot pink shoes might look fun a less expensive black pair would work and be more useful in the end…which will also cause you to not have to go buy another pair later.

sparkly high heeled shoe

sparkly high heeled shoe

Is this crazy or a good buy?  Even while you are being a cheap college student you also need to be not overly crazy cheap…or frugal if that sounds nicer.  There will be times when being cheap won’t pay off in the long run.  An example would be buying shoes that are $15 but end up giving you 20 blisters.  Finding something that’s low in price doesn’t always make you thrifty.  This comes back to being practical.  If you get 20 blisters you’re going to need to go buy another pair of shoes causing that $15 to sit in your closet.

These are just some quick questions to consider the next time you are out spending your hard-earned money.  If these questions don’t help solve your shoe dilemma then you should go walk around.  Leave your possible purchase behind and around the mall.  If the wish to buy your new shoes is gone then clearly the purchase wasn’t meant to be.

Learning How to Grocery Shop

17 Aug

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

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 are worth 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!

Don’t Forget Your Student Discount!

13 Aug

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

Student discounts are awesome. It’s the best surprise when you flash a cashier your student ID and automatically save money. There are so many opportunities to save just a bit when you buy that you’ve probably never even realized it. Certain companies even cater towards students by giving them special deals. First, let’s start off with the two most important student discounts: NO TAX IN THE UNION and RIDING CITY BUS FOR FREE! Every time you dine in the Union (or buy a Starbucks treat) and show your student ID, you don’t have to pay taxes! Also, City Bus will take you anywhere on their routes for free with your student ID. Here are a few more vendors that offer deals just for students:

Amazon: Joining Amazon Student gets you free two-day shipping for six months and exclusive email offers. The only drawback is after the six months, you will be automatically upgraded to Amazon Prime. BUT, you will receive it at the discounted student price of $39/year instead of $79/year it is now and the reduced price can be used for up to 4 years. And with the Amazon store location in Krach, students can get free shipping directly to the campus store!

blackberries

blackberries

AT&T: Purdue students and employees can get 20% off standard voice and data plans! This includes the latest iPhone 4, other smart phones, regular cell phones, and Laptop Connect. Already have AT&T? You’re still eligible too! They’ll attach the discount to your existing plan and it can even extend to your family plan if you’re the primary user on the FamilyTalk account. Go here for more details.

Apple: If you buy a Mac or an iPad from the Apple Online Store for Education or the Apple store you’ll receive a $100 gift card for apps for a Mac and $50 gift card for apps for an iPad. Click here for more details on their current deal.

Apple logo

Apple logo

Can’t afford to buy a Mac or iPad now but need a new one for the school year? You’re in luck! Apple offers a monthly payment plan for students, click here!

Need to go grocery shopping? Sam’s Club has a discounted student membership. It’s $40 to start up a membership AND they give you a $15 Sam’s Club gift card! If you love buying in bulk, this is the deal for you. Also, certain Kroger supermarkets (known in the Lafayette area as ‘Payless’) offer 5% off your purchase.

What about insurance?

Worried about staying healthy through the long Indiana winter? If you don’t have health insurance, or are worried about your health insurance not working all the way out here in Indiana, you’re in luck! Purdue offers its own health insurance plan for students! You can go here to view the details on what insurance plan works best for you. If that doesn’t sound like the right plan for you, you can also go here and enter in your information.  The website will come up with cheapest rates that are only for students! I entered in my information, and my plans started at $68.50/month. While all the prices you see for health insurance seem steep, you have to remember that paying ahead of time will help you later in life when it is needed the most. It’s important to support good health in college, and having that reassurance of a health insurance is nice to have if you do get sick.

Another avenue student can receive discounts on is car insurance.  Most insurers have discount policies in place for students who receive good grades, if you are a student that only drives the parent’s car while on break, and if you drive a small amount of miles with your own car.  The best way to find more information about student discount policies is to contact your insurer.

Don’t feel like cooking? Here’s a list of restaurants that offer student discounts:

pizza

pizza

Burger King: 10% off – ask your local restaurant if they take part

McDonalds: 10% off – ask your local restaurant if they take part.

Dairy Queen: 10% off

Domino’s Pizza: Different discounts depending on your college location

Papa Johns: Different discounts depending on your college location

Pizza Hut: 10-20% off depending on location

Qdoba: $5 student burrito meals

Subway: 10% off

I found all of these here: In addition to the list above, below is a helpful list for if you find yourself needing to go on a shopping spree with all the money you’re saving:

Ann Taylor LOFT: 15% off

Ann Taylor: 20% off

shopping bags

shopping bags

Banana Republic: 15% off

Charlotte Russe: 10% off

Club Monaco: 20% off regular priced items

J. Crew: 15% off

The Limited: 15% off

Ralph Lauren Rugby: 15% off

Urban Outfitters: 10% off on select dates

Top Shop: 10% off

The best tip I found during my search for student discounts? Flash your student ID EVERYWHERE! You never know who will offer a student discount, and it can’t hurt to ask! You’d be surprised how many off-the-wall places you’ll end up saving money at.

Still want to save more? Here’s some websites that are solely dedicated to finding the best discounts for college students:

http://www.studentadvantage.com/content/?id=762

http://globestudentdiscount.com/

http://www.studentbistro.com/

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