Tag Archives: costs

Ways to Save on Utilities this Winter

4 Jan

Yikes! Did your first winter energy bill come in higher than you expected? Turning off the heat to save money for the rest of the winter isn’t going to be an option when you live in Indiana, unfortunately, so we’ve rounded up some tips to help you save some cash until it’s warm outside again.

Turn down the heat

Both on your thermostat and your water heater, which you should have access to in a utility closet. Lowering the heat in your house to around 68 is enough to keep you warm (you may have to add a couple layers) and can help to reduce your heating bill. If you have a programmable thermostat take advantage of the settings and turn the heat down a couple more degrees (but always stay at least at 50 to avoid your pipes freezing) so you’re not using extra energy while you’re gone. Also, making a minor adjustment on your hot water heater will save you money. Not to mention that having less hot water will cut your shower time down.

Unplug electronics you aren’t using

This is a simple one that can be used all year. Even if you’re not using your laptop and it’s in hibernation mode, it’s still using electricity. Unplug it and save yourself a couple bucks (so you can have heat!). Even keeping little things like toasters or phone chargers plugged in when they aren’t being used creates a small drain on electricity. Also, avoid space heaters! They use a lot of electricity and are extremely inefficient at heating compared to your central heating. Oftentimes, tossing a blanket on your lap or pulling on a sweatshirt will keep you just as warm.

car in snow with text overlay: Save $$ on utilities this winter

Cover your windows

Plastic over leaky windows can save you tons of money. This is an especially good idea if you live in an older apartment or rental house. We had a window in a rental house that leaked so badly that we could literally watch the plastic sheet we taped around it billow and fill with cold air! Just covering that window saved us a lot in heating costs. wikiHow has a great article on how to properly cover your windows.

Turn your ceiling fans clockwise

Apparently there’s a setting on most ceiling fans that will allow you to switch the direction they spin. This is typically located above the blades of the fan. And turning clockwise will push the hot air back down to keep the heat in your rooms instead of pushing it up towards the ceiling (hot air does rise, after all).

Always wear layers

Add an extra blanket to your bed, keep your slippers handy, invest in some sweaters from the thrift store, keep extra blankets in the living room. Switching your lounging clothes from shorts and a t-shirt to a hoody and sweatpants makes a huge difference. Plus it’s extra comfortable to toss a blanket on your lap while you watch TV. Putting on layers keeps you warm and will keep you from turning up the heat, saving you money on electricity.

Is It Worth It to Own a Car In College?

9 Sep

car in college

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. 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 pricy and impactful 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 – she is currently an adjunct at Northern Arizona University. Here is her Facebook page

Chicago Getaway Transportation

8 Jul

Raysha Duncan, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

There comes a time in every Purdue student’s life when they just want to escape from campus (or Indiana in general) for a few days. They want to go somewhere where there are fewer cornfields, more of a night life, and various food options. One of the biggest cities near Purdue is Chicago, so it’s a common place for students to go for a short or long weekend. If you’re ready for your weekend getaway but don’t know your cheapest transportation options, I’ve gone ahead and listed a few of your options. Some of the numbers I’ve listed below are for a specific weekend, which I’ve noted, so you’ll want to double-check your travel dates to verify the prices.

Lafayette to Chicago (Friday August 2nd to Saturday August 3rd)


Amtrak Station

Amtrak Station Lafayette Indiana
photo by:Diego Delso

8/2: Departs from Lafayette at 7:33 AM, arrives in Chicago at 10:05 AM ($21)

8/3: Departs from Chicago at 5:45PM, arrives in Chicago at 10PM ($21)

Total Cost: $42 and up

Total Time: 6 hours, 47 minutes

Don’t forget about how you’ll be getting around once you get there. If you just plan on walking around town, plan to be tired Chicago is a BIG place with LOTS to see. This way, you will not spend extra funds on your travel expenses. If, however, you plan to use the bus or subway, you will definitely be spending extra on that and should budget accordingly.


2 hours from West Lafayette to Chicago (122.5 miles)

2 hours from Chicago to West Lafayette (122.5 miles)

Gas: National Average at $3.67/gallon

Total Cost: $45 and up

Total Time: 4 hours

If you’re averaging 20 miles/gallon, it will take about $45 in gas to get you to and from Chicago. However, this does not include paying for parking or any driving you may do around the city. Parking runs anywhere from $3-$15/hour depending on the time and place you go. There are some parking lots in the heart of the city that offer flat rates for the entire day on the weekends, but you really have to search for these good deals and (as an effect of this) which could use up even more gas and money.


photo by: Secondarywaltz


8/2: Departs from Indianapolis at 9:45 AM, arrives in Chicago at 12 PM ($24)

8/3: Depart from Chicago at 6 PM, arrives in Indianapolis at 10:15 PM ($5)

Total Cost: $29 and up

Now, this seems like a pretty cheap choice, right? But, if you are a student leaving from the Purdue campus, you have to pay for both parking and gas to get down to Indianapolis. This company is fairly new to the Midwest, so Indianapolis is currently the only pickup/drop-off location in Indiana. If you have relatives in the Indianapolis area though, you could always spend time with them before setting off for Chicago or if yourself live in the Indianapolis area, this is probably the cheapest option for you. Much like the Amtrak option, though, don’t forget to take into account your transportation costs once you get there.

Lafayette Limo

 Leave Purdue Memorial Union Follett’s Purdue West Arrive at O’Hare Airport Leave Chicago Arrive Lafayette
4:30 AM 4:40 AM 6:40 AM CST 8:00 AM CST  12:00 PM
10:30 AM 10:40 AM 12:40 PM CST 2:00 PM CST  6:00 PM
3:30 PM 3:40 PM 5:40 PM CST 7:00 PM CST  11 PM

Lafayette Limo cost $60 for a one-way ticket to O’Hare Airport and $110 for a round trip back to Lafayette.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when travelling with Lafayette Limo.  Once you are in Chicago you will need to consider other transportation options from the airport to the city, if you are planning on staying in Chicago.  Lafayette Limo has strict pick-up and drop off times.  This could keep your Chicago visit to a tight schedule.  Lafayette Limo is mainly used as a transportation method for Purdue University students traveling to home during peak times (before and after each semester) which creates limited space during peak times.   On top of battling students trying to return home, the Limo may be full of luggage. A pact ride to and from Chicago has the potential to put a damper on one’s trip. Though, during these peak times you can rent Lafayette Limo and have a safe ride for your group.  You can find more details about renting Lafayette Limo through their website online.

Of the four options above, which do you think you would be most likely to use? Is your choice completely based on the prices? Or do you have another method of travel you like to use for traveling to Chicago? Let us know if you do!

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