Tag Archives: Frugal Living

Saving Money in the Residence Halls

27 Jul

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator – Purdue Financial Aid

There’s no doubt that attending college is a significant investment, but a little bit of planning can help you save a lot of money. Whether you decide to live in one of the University Residence Halls, or in an apartment off-campus, there are definitely many options that can help students reduce their daily college expenses. I’m going to cover five ways you can save money while living in a residence hall (or your apartment).

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Taking Advantage of the Meal Plan

Students living in most of the University Residences are required to have a meal plan. Choosing the most appropriate meal plan can be an important factor in a student’s college expenses.

Sometimes it can be hard for students to be able to go to any of the 5 dining courts in between their busy schedules. Whenever I would have a short lunch break in between my classes, I took advantage of the On-The-Go options.

On-The-Go is a great alternative for students with limited time, where they can grab a quick bite on their way to class, without letting their meal swipes go to waste.

It’s important to eat as many meals as possible from your meal plan since you’ve already paid for them!

Making Use of the Alternatives

Alternatively, most meal plans offer Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars can be used anywhere on campus such as cafes, restaurants at Purdue Memorial Union, some food trucks, and the markets, to name a few. I would save on my snacks, milk and other personal necessities by using my dining dollars at on-campus markets like 3rd Street Market and Tarkington Market. Plus Dining Dollars save on these items compared to other payment methods!

Microwave and Mini-Fridge

Not every student needs a microwave or fridge in their room. For me, however, that was a necessity. During my freshman year, my roommate and I decided to rent out a mini-fridge and microwave so we wouldn’t have the hassle of moving it out at the end of the year, or splitting it up.

I realized later how investing in a microwave and fridge at the start of college was a much better choice than renting it out. Renting it for a year is just slightly cheaper than buying a new one for the first time; but in the long run, it’s actually more expensive!

Saving on Dorm Room Essentials

Another way to help save money while living in the Residence Halls is by limiting the number of things you have in your room. Coming to college for the first time can be very overwhelming, and students aren’t too sure what they will and will not need in their dorm room. Buying too many “dorm room essentials” is one of the most common mistakes a freshman can make. I’ve made this mistake too!

I bought myself a night lamp for late-night cramming sessions while my roommate was asleep; however, I never even used it because the desks provided in the dorms have a tube-light for that. Even though many “college check-lists” say this is essential, Purdue students living in the residence halls can take advantage of the one on their desk.

Most residence halls offer cleaning supplies that the residents can use to clean their room, such as a vacuum or mop, so a student could benefit from the offered cleaning supplies instead of purchasing them. I took advantage of them and never had an issue with availability or functionality.

Purdue’s Residence Halls offer Wi-Fi in the rooms! Students do not need to worry about getting their own router. The rooms also offer Ethernet cables for students! There are a lot of computer labs and printers (color printers too) available all over campus, including in each residence hall, so students can save on printer, ink and paper too. A small part of the students’ tuition is put towards printing so utilizing the university printers is a great option.

If you’re living in an apartment, don’t feel like you have to have it outfitted like your family home! You’ll only need the bare essentials and if you can find them on the cheap you’re even further ahead.

Pull out the Student ID

Don’t forget to use your Student ID to it’s fullest extent. Pull it out for free use of the city buses, paying for your meals, access to your residence hall, and all of those discounts!

You never know what places might offer free deals just for flashing your student ID card!

Whether you live on or off-campus, you can make use of the options offered to help reduce daily expenses. It all comes down to the your choices and preferences.

Do you have any tips on saving money while living in the residence halls? Share them in the comments below!

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!

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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.

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Looking for Cheap or Free Stuff for Your Apartment?

21 Jun

With August closing in and the new year of leases starting soon, it’s time to start prepping for your new place. Whether it’s in Purdue housing or an off-campus apartment, you most likely need to buy a few things. It’s easy to create a huge dent in your summer savings if you buy everything at full retail price. So buy used!

I’ve always been able to easily find furniture under $50 a piece every year I’ve been at Purdue. I’ve even gotten some stuff for free. Where, you ask?

1. Thrift Stores    

Pros: It’s a one-stop-shop for small items like cooking utensils, dining ware, and picture frames at a reasonable price.

clothes rack

Cons:  If you’re looking for something very specific, they can be hit or miss. Furniture and other large items are in slim choice at Goodwill.

Where:

West Lafayette Goodwill
907 Sagamore Parkway West
West Lafayette, IN 47904
(First Saturday of every month is ½ price everything in the store)

Habitat for Humanity
3815 Fortune Dr.
Lafayette, IN 47905

Trinity Thrift Store
1224 Union Street
Lafayette, IN 47904

Amused Clothing
316 1/2 W State St
West Lafayette, IN 47906


2. 
Garage Sales 

community yard sale

Pros: Extremely cheap prices. I’ve found many household items for less than $5 at garage sales. Furniture can be harder to find, but when you do, it’s very cheap. In addition, you can haggle with the owner for a lower price. I rarely have someone turn down a lower offer.

Cons: Again, if you are looking for a very specific item, you might have trouble finding it. You also might have to drive all around town hitting up different sales to get everything you need, and we all know gas isn’t cheap.

Where: Check out Tippecanoe CraigslistYard Sale Search, or pick up a Journal and Courier on Friday or Saturday morning for the classifieds.

3. One Man’s Trash is Your Treasure

There’s a special kind of Senior Week here at Purdue. As graduating students move to full-time jobs in distant cities, there are countless free scores waiting by every dumpster, trash can, and curb side in West Lafayette.

Pros: Well for one, it’s free. But don’t worry; you won’t have to jump inside a dumpster. Many considerate movers will leave their perfectly usable unwanted furniture and appliances in a clean spot beside the dumpster.

Cons: Hey, if you’re willing to jump into a dumpster to dig deeper, I’m not stopping you. You just might get a little messy.

Where: Take a stroll or car ride around the student neighborhoods and see what you can find. Large apartment complexes will be overflowing with treasures.

4. Craigslist

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Pros:  You can shop in your pajamas at home and the seller might even deliver the goods to you. Performing a quick search through the listings is the fastest and easiest way to find a very particular item for cheap. Remember to haggle down the price!

Cons: Setting up a time and place to meet someone for your purchase can be a bit of a pain, especially if they cancel at the last second. “Oh yeah, I forgot had dinner with the in-laws tonight. Can we do tomorrow?”

Where: The Lafayette/West Lafayette Tippecanoe Craigslist.

5. Purdue Surplus

Ever wonder where all those abandoned bikes from campus go? They get shipped off to the Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store in Lafayette! They specialize in old furniture from Purdue buildings, bikes, computers and monitors, and student lost-and-found stuff.

Pros: The prices are extremely cheap. I’ve gotten an exercise bike for $10 and a coffee table for $5 from the warehouse in the past.

Cons: The Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store has odd operating hours – Mon-Fri  12PM-4PM. So if you’re only free on weekends, this option is out.  You also might be purchasing something you once owned.

Where:
Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store
700 Ahlers Dr
West Lafayette, IN 47907

6 Easy Money Saving Tips Any Student Can Use

20 Apr

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.

 

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”.
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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!”

Finding Good Deals Without Being an Extreme Couponer

30 Jun

By Lexie M. Porter, Purdue University student and Peer Counselor for the Division of Financial Aidfinal 2 - coupon - photo-1464374288807-174911d4adb9

Between your classes and extracurricular activities, there is just no time to become an extreme couponer. You would have to set aside countless hours of your day to search for coupons to cover the cost of your entire grocery list. This might sound feasible for some, but if the lifestyle of an extreme couponer isn’t for you, keep reading.

Below, you will find a few tips on how to take advantage of coupons and deals without wasting too much time.

Check websites for coupons

As a college student, you must be quite familiar with the internet. Many of you probably spend your entire day in front of a computer or smartphone. While you’re there, why not set aside some time to coupon browse? If you check a store’s website, you can generally find printable coupons that can be used  in store. This is a great tool to use if you plan on going to a specific location; however, if you know that you want a specific item, Retailmenot.com offers coupons that can be used at multiple stores. Just search an item and you will find a variety of coupons and promo codes..

Go to a store and pick up a weekly ad.

It’s okay if you didn’t have time to print off coupons at home. As soon as you walk into a store, pick up a weekly ad. While you’re pushing that cart up and down the aisles, browse through the ad. You’ll be able to find various coupons for the items you need. If an item happens to be out of stock, many stores can give you a rain check. With a rain check, you will be able to come back to the store at a later date and receive that item for its originally discounted price. Rain checks are great for items that you don’t need right away, but still want. Remember that items generally take about a week to be restocked.

Browse your Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for deals.

It’s no secret that you browse through your social media at least once a day. So why not browse your social media for deals? On any social media website, you have the option to follow anyone or anything you choose. Try following your favorite stores and checking for deals on their accounts. If you follow a store on a social media website, you will be able to see deals in your feed. Since browsing social media is a part of your everyday routine, take advantage of this opportunity to find deals and save money.

Last, but not least, GO TO CLASS.

Did you know that if you go to class, you can save money? It sounds like a strange concept, but it is completely legitimate. Have you heard of the app Pocket Points? Pocket Points is an app that rewards you with deals if you go to class. Once you get to class, turn the app on and don’t touch your phone until class is finished. While in class, the longer you go without touching your phone, the more points you will earn. These points can get you deals from your favorite clothing stores or free cookies from Insomnia Cookies. So why not download a free app for free cookies?

Keep in mind that these are only a few ways in which you can save money while shopping. If you want to try something else, go for it! Do whatever you can do to save money in college and remember that saving money now will save you later

50 Free Activities You Can Do This Summer

28 May

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

two people hiking

Summer break is upon us! You have so much time! You can do so many things! You’re so excited! You’re so….bored.  You’ve got a looong summer ahead of you. We’ve gone ahead and compiled 50 things you can do for free when you’re looking for something to do this summer.

  • Go for a walk
  • Shoot some hoops
  • Visit a local park
  • Learn to do a cartwheel
  • Try to a handstand for a full minute (or longer!)
  • Clean out your freezer
  • Clean out your refrigerator
  • Clean out your pantry
  • Put together a donation bag for the food pantry
  • Volunteer at the food pantry
  • Bake some cookies
  • Take those cookies to your neighbor
  • Bake a cake
  • Learn how to ice a cake
  • Celebrate a celebrity’s birthday
  • Fill your ice trays!
  • Make lemonade
  • Go on a picnic
  • Use your apartment complex’s pool
  • Swim 20 laps
  • Finally learn (or re-learn) how to a flip in the pool
  • Scrub your bathtub
  • Clean the toilet (you know you need to)
  • Sweep the floors
  • Feng shui your bedroom
  • Fluff your pillows
  • Wash your sheets
  • Re-arrange your furniture
  • Clean out your closet
  • Throw away all your almost empty toiletries
  • Take your dog for a walk
  • Volunteer at the animal shelter
  • Invite friends over to play board games
  • Learn how to play a new card game
  • Build a huge domino chain
  • Try not to knock it down
  • Give in and knock it down
  • Read a book
  • Visit your library
  • Read the magazines at your library
  • Take a walk downtown
  • Window shop
  • Go to a grocery store just for the free samples
  • Read The Exponent
  • Read a new blog
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Read the news
  • Watch your favorite childhood movies
  • Compete with yourself to see how long you can leave your air conditioner off for the summer
  • Sit outside and enjoy the summer sunshine
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