Tag Archives: frugal

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!”

21 Ways to Save Money in Everyday Life

6 Oct

21 ways to save leader.jpg

Financial wellness results from making decisions that support financial goals or priorities. If you spend money on a video game, you are unable to use those funds towards a goal you have, such as purchasing a vehicle or taking a vacation. Lower your miscellaneous expenses by using any combination of the following money-saving strategies:

  1. Reduce the cost of utilities.
    a. Disconnect your cable TV service.
    b. Turn off the lights when not in use. 
  2. Stop spending for things you don’t really need.
  3. Stop paying for purchases with your credit card. If you can’t pay for it this month, don’t push it to next month!
  4. Put all your loose change in a jar. Keep it for laundry, or save it for unexpected expenses.
  5. Reduce your food expenditures:
    a. Buy in bulk.
    b. Don’t shop more than once a week.
    c. Buy only what you have on your list, no impulse purchases!
    d. Compare prices.
    e. Don’t buy more than you can use. 
  6. Eat out less frequently and less expensively.
    a. Treat eating out as a luxury.
    b. Eat less expensive foods.
    c. Use restaurant coupons.
    d. Take advantage of early-bird specials.
    e. Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re upset.
    f. Order entrees only, not expensive desserts or appetizers.
    g. Split or share meals with a friend.
    h. Pack your lunch and take it with you to school.
    i. Save half for leftover lunch the next day.
  7. Learn to cook for yourself.
  8. Find an alternative to driving your car. Rely on public transportation, friends, bikes, and your feet.
  9. If you MUST have a car, try the following tips:
    a. Wash your car yourself.
    b. Purchase regular, unleaded gas.
    c. Look for coupons for oil changes.
    d. To avoid long-term expenses, keep your car in shape.
    e. Use cash or debit cards to pay for gas.
    f. Carpool with friends. 
  10. Find free or inexpensive ways to entertain yourself:
    a. Matinee, discount movies.
    b. Local museums and parks.
    c. Ask about student discounts.
    d. Participate in sports.
    e. Join school clubs.
    f. Read books & borrow them from libraries.
    g. Hike a trail.
    h. Rent videos rather than buying DVDs.
    i. Buy season passes/book of tickets for activities you engage in frequently. 
  11. Take care of yourself, but look for deals.
    a. Avoid membership in trendy health clubs – use the schools’ facilities or the YMCA.
    b. Rely on coupons or specials for hairdressers/barbers.
    c. Don’t waste money on expensive cosmetics sold at department stores.
    d. Look for free-sample cosmetics, or purchase them at discount stores.
    e. Give yourself a manicure/pedicure instead of paying someone else to do it; have a manicure/pedicure party with your friends.
    f. Shop around; look for sales/specials. 
  12. Utilize cell phone plans that match your actual usage. No need for unlimited data if you’re in WiFi range 90% of the time.
  13. Stay away from the shopping mall and out of the stores (particularly when you’re upset or depressed).
  14. Avoid or reduce expensive luxury habits.
  15. Buy only products, clothes and food that you really need.
  16. Check out the costs of banking and negotiate what works best for you (e.g. avoid ATM fees, checking fees, designer checks, etc.)
  17. Don’t be influenced to spend by friends who have more money than you.
  18. Shop for clothes wisely.
    a. Shop at discount outlet stores, consignment stores, and campus thrift shops.
    b. Look for generic labels; avoid expensive name-brand clothing.
    c. Avoid buying and wearing clothes that must be dry-cleaned. 
  19. Select and purchase gifts only when they are on sale.
  20. Live at home or with a relative. Get a roommate.
  21. If you want or think you need something, wait a full 24 hours before you buy it.

Information based on USA Funds® Life Skills®. © 2002 United Student Aid Funds, Inc. Used with permission.

Halloween on a Shoestring

4 Oct

Written by Catherine Bylak, Purdue Student

halloween on a shoestring leader.jpg

College students love Halloween. Whether it be from the joy of showing up together in the perfect squad costumes or maybe it’s the candy corn, regardless, college students scream for Halloween.

If you’re a college kid who screams for Halloween, while your bank account screams for savings, then we have a few tips to enjoy this Halloween on a shoestring!

DIY Costumes

Goodwill Stores are the perfect place to start if you’re only trying to spend a few bucks on a costume. Grab a cheap flannel and complement it with jeans and you can go as a lumberjack! There are endless possibilities. Think of your favorite TV character, generic job titles, or puns and find items that represent them.

By making your own costume you can show off your ingenuity and style, rather than spending $30-50 on a stock costume that you’ll wear maybe four times.

Plus a DIY costume is way more original.

There are three Goodwill locations near the Purdue campus and several other thrift stores nearby for all your thrifty Halloween costume needs.


You can even create identification cards in a word document to print, cut out, and wear so people will understand your costume. costume ID.jpg

DIY Decorations

There are tons of ideas for homemade decorations that can utilize anything including empty milk gallons, garbage bags, and a few permanent markers. For those who aren’t interested in Pinterest, here are some links for cheap decoration alternatives: Indoor & Outdoor by Money Crashers and Effortless Decorations by DIY Projects

Cheap Treats

We all know that fun costumes and decorations make Halloween great, but so does the candy. If you adore the treats over the tricks, here are some sites for cheap candy: Halloween Candy Warehouse and Bulk Candy Store.

Maybe your favorite aspect of Halloween is enjoying few unique, of-age drinks that ensues. In that case, check out these sites for cheap, Halloween themed cocktails: Jello shots, spooky cocktails, candy-inspired drinks, and cheap Halloween cocktails.

Now, you can scream and save this Halloween.

Healthy Eating on a College Budget

29 Sep

Heather Kessler, Purdue University Alumna


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!

Saving Money While Having Fun on the Purdue Campus

29 Aug



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!

Frugal Living Tips I Learned in College

11 May

close up dollar bills

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator

There is a lot of information out there about how to live frugally, how to retire early, how to DIY this or that or this AND that, and multiple success stories of people escaping debt. It can get overwhelming, and a little hard to translate to college life since most of the sources out there are addressing “life after college.” Here are some tips to make it a little bit easier now rather than later!

Buy your books used

Whether that’s in the bookstore or online or wherever, you will most likely not use that textbook again. This is one of the easiest places to cut costs. However, there can be exceptions; I was an English major and most of my “textbooks” were novels and professors always wanted a specific version of a text, so sometimes it was more convenient to just buy it new, have the right page numbers, and gain a new novel for my shelf in the process. You may also have a newer version of a text written by the professor or a school-specific book and there’s usually no way around buying those new. But most of us find that used books are an accessible option each year for helping reduce costs!

It’s okay to say “no” to friends sometimes

There’s a lot of pressure in college to keep up with a lot of things: school, work, friendships, your finances, applying for jobs after college, keeping up with your family, your weekly TV, etc. That can get really overwhelming really fast! And it can get especially overwhelming if you’re worried about money. And add friends who constantly want to go out and do things…it can be a recipe for financial disaster! Let your friends know that you’re not trying to be a ‘Debbie Downer’, but you’re just really focusing on being smart with your money right now and that means limiting how much you spend. Be sure to always offer a less expensive (or free!) alternative such as a movie night in your residence hall or baking cookies together. Spending time together is often way more fun than spending money together.

Pack your lunch

This is for those who live off-campus or are commuting. You’ll quickly spend a lot of money on convenience food if you don’t watch out. Packing a lunch (or breakfast or dinner, depending on your schedule) can easily save you $3-$10 each day. Plus, didn’t you go grocery shopping this week? You don’t want to waste the food in your fridge. And along these lines…you should try to break your expensive coffee habit. Making up a to-go mug of coffee at home can save you a whole bunch of money every day! And some coffee shops may even offer discounts for using your own mug, so if you need a second cup of joe in the middle of the day, you can save a little that way too.

Just take the bus

It can save you time and money. It’s really not that scary. It is also better for the environment and helps avoid the stress of parking on campus!


What are some of your favorite spending tips you’ve learned in college? Share with us in the comments below!

Avoiding the Freshman $$15

19 Aug

Federal Reserve Bank Vault

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

College is expensive, and it’s not easy managing your finances on your own for the first time. From your freshman year to graduation, your savings account will be your first line of defense against consumer debt and financial misery. By building up a healthy ‘savings buffer’ and stretching your college dollar, you’ll graduate with your financial house in order and, most importantly, peace of mind. Here are some key lessons for developing “money smarts” to go along with your book smarts.

Start Saving

One of the biggest problems for underclassmen is overspending. Fortunately, putting a little cash aside can be a great way to cut spending. Here are some ideas:

  • Calculate your monthly income from all sources, and use that to create a savings plan and budget. Don’t spend more than you make!
  • Avoid credit cards, unless you’re planning on sticking to a strict budget and recording all of your purchases. Credit cards give you a false impression of having more money than you actually do. Don’t assume you’ll be able to make up for a shopping splurge next month. With so many temptations and high interest rates, odds are you won’t.
  • Get a part-time job and deposit a percentage of each paycheck directly into your savings account. These small amounts will add up over time and having less cash on hand will force you to forgo frivolous spending. You’ll be forcing yourself to save rather than fighting temptation each time you enter a convenience store. Plus, a sizable chunk in savings will end up being far more satisfying than your gourmet latte routine.

Staying Frugal in a College Town

Aerial photos of Purdue University

photo by: Purdue Marketing and Media,Dave Umberge

College is a critical learning period for adopting adult habits, like living within your means. Here are some ideas for living a frugal life that is both happier and richer:

  • Avoid luxuries like cable TV or a fat phone plan. You are still a student, not a middle-class consumer, so act like it. Plus, college is no time to be sitting at home watching TV — you’ll get several more decades of that after graduation.
  • Buy or rent used textbooks, or borrow them from the school or public library. With the average cost for new textbooks over $1,000 a year, this is an obvious – and easy – place to find some savings.
  • Never buy new! You’re not working full-time, so why act like it by buying brand new things? Thrift shops are a fraction of the price, environmentally friendly, and the consensus in cool nowadays.
  • Make your own coffee instead of blowing money at an expensive café. A few bucks may not seem like much, but it adds up fast. It’s easy to heat water and use a French press. Give it a try.
  • Bike if you can. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone: exercise and transportation. Plus you’ll save on public transit or, heaven forbid, gas and parking.
  • Host dinner parties and other fun in-house events instead of going out to restaurants and bars. Again, you’ve got plenty of time after college to enjoy bars, restaurants, and pricey events.
  • Make the most of on-campus resources like laundry services, the gym, and the library
  1. Most college libraries have excellent movie rental selections, so why are you dishing out for Netflix or Redbox?
  2. More time spent in the gym or library is time spent getting smarter and fitter and not time spent out on the town spending money.

GIF by: , MarcelKirsteinLE

Financially Preparing for Graduation

You may be thinking: college is supposed to be the best time of my life, so why am I wasting it pinching pennies? Well there are a couple problems with this line of thinking. First, if you spend four years racking up debt, barely passing your classes, and living large, then college is going to be the best time of your life…because you’ll spend the rest of your life struggling to pay it back. Second, college can be just as fun without splurging. The fun comes from the camaraderie, adventure, and self-discovery — not from the shopping.

The College Board estimated average miscellaneous expenses to be $2,527 for private colleges and $3,201 for public universities for the 2012/13 school year. Four years of frugal living could save you a few thousand dollars, rather than sticking you a few thousand into credit card debt. Trust me, it’ll come to make a big difference.

Karla Lant is a contributor on The Simple Dollar’s life insurance center.  She is currently an adjunct at Northern Arizona University; find Karla Lant on LinkedIn or Google+.

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