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Freshman Boot Camp: Last Minute Packing Tips

11 Aug

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator

Believe it or not, it’s almost time to move in to your new home at Purdue!

Depending on how far you’re travelling, forgetting something at home could be a quick trip home on the weekend or it could be “looks like I have to sleep without blankets until they can be shipped here”.

If you are feeling panicked because you haven’t started yet, don’t worry! Take it from someone who didn’t actually pack until the morning he left, it can be done in a pinch but that’s also a great way to forget a bunch of important items like I did. So don’t be like me and have to sleep without a real pillow for the first night.

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Because move-in day and the packing leading up to it can be stressful even for those who plan ahead, it’s good to be prepared with a few last checks to make sure you have everything you need!

Label everything – This first tip comes from University Residences’ Tips for a Successful Move-in Day. Put your first and last name as well as your room number on everything. There will be people helping to bring your stuff into the residence halls but don’t leave any room for question in where it is going.

Pack light – Another great tip from University Residences article. Dorm rooms aren’t huge and trying to fit everything from your bedroom at home just isn’t going to do. If you’re doing anything more than filling an SUV with your stuff, you’re going to want to cut back. This might mean only bringing clothes that are in-season and leaving the winter parka at home (for now).

Buy it here – Believe it or not, West Lafayette is more than just Purdue! There are plenty of grocery stores and other shops like Wal-Mart, Target and Meijer where you can buy most anything that you need. Whether it’s something replaceable that you forgot or you don’t have room for, consider buying it once you arrive.

Don’t forget it – Remember to bring along any items that can’t be replaced or it’s unnecessary to have extras at home! Some ideas:

  • Laptop charger
  • Pillows, blankets, and sheets
  • Personal care items like tweezers, bandaids, etc that you’d rather not have to run to a store when you need them
  • Scissors
  • Tape and command strips
  • School supplies – you could buy these before classes but you might be too busy
  • Clothes hangers
  • Long (6′ or longer) phone charging cord
  • Water bottle
  • Fan – these sell out quickly at the local stores
  • Towels

It may not be everything you’ll need but there’s a few things that are easy to forget that you’ll regret. So finish up the packing, have one last weekend with your high school friends, and download the Purdue app.

We’ll see you on Monday!

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!

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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.

Freshman Boot Camp: How to Get Around Campus at Purdue

8 Aug

After arriving on campus and getting settled into your new place, you’ll inevitably get a little antsy to check out the new community you live in. While the West Lafayette area is quite walk-able, there are many times where your destination is beyond what you can reasonably travel by foot. So if the Tippecanoe Mall is calling you, or there’s a cool place in Lafayette you want to check out here are some tips for each method of transportation!

Driving your own car

The main issue to get out of the way if you’re bringing your own car to campus is where are you going to park it? If you live off-campus, it’s good to know if you’ll have your own parking lot and how plowing will work with that in the winter. If you are parking on the street, you’ll want to know the applicable plowing rules as well!

For freshmen living on campus there is a lottery for parking spots. These permits cost $150 and you can’t start parking in these spots until October 2, so plan accordingly! Be sure to check out Parking’s Website for any additional info if you have special circumstances such as off-campus classes or regular off-campus medical visits.

Other than parking you’ll want to be cognizant of the cost of insurance, gas, and the other expenses your car will rack up. I’d heavily recommend leaving the car at home unless it’s absolutely necessary for some reason. You can always use one of the other options to get around!

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City Bus

The City Bus is free for students! Just be prepared with your Purdue ID in-hand and you can use it to get anywhere that the bus goes. Be sure to check out what route the bus is on by looking at the sign at the top of the bus. The buses run 24/7, but with varying times depending on the time of the day so you will want to check out the different resources available on your phone to check times.

Don’t forget that you can combine the bus with biking! If you just want to bike to the bus stop and then take your bike on-campus there are rack on the front of the bus you can use to hang your bike while you ride the bus.

Biking

Purdue is a pretty large campus, so going by foot isn’t always practical. Bikes are one of the best ways to get around campus and the many bike lanes and parking stations reflect that. You can bring your own or even look into the rental bikes available all over campus (and some in downtown Lafayette). Be sure to register your bicycle to help protect against theft or provide contact info if it is believed your bike has been abandoned.

Don’t have a bike or don’t want to transport it here? Purdue Surplus has tons of bikes that were abandoned previously begging for a new owner. Quality bicycles can be had for around $10!

Related to bikes, skateboards and rollerblading are popular options to get around. It’s very common to see plenty of students longboarding between their classes throughout the day.

Driving a car that’s not your own

Purdue has partnered with Zipcar to provide a way for students who don’t have their own vehicle on campus to rent a car for a relatively reasonable rate. There are about 6 locations around campus to acquire a Zipcar. The cost of insurance and gas is included in the rental so you just have a flat rate to take care of!

All in all, there’s plenty of different ways to get around both campus and the Greater Lafayette Area. By combining the options above you can get pretty much anywhere in a quick and efficient manner.

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