Tag Archives: saving money

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.

America Saves Week: Make Your Savings Automatic

27 Feb

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Saving money can be hard to do after taking care of bills, groceries, and general living expenses. This is even harder when your idea of saving money is by counting what’s left over in your checking account after paying those monthly expenses. It’s likely you will probably just spend what’s left on a treat for yourself the next month.

ASW Automatic Savings txt.jpgWhile this saving method might work for the rare individual, for most of us we really don’t think about our spending as long as our account stays above a certain number we’ve arbitrarily designated.

The easiest way to create savings and counter our instinct to spend without worry? Save your money automatically.

Saving your money automatically, or as some call it “Pay Yourself First”, is a way to siphon off part of your paycheck every time you’re paid and put it into a savings account before you do anything else. The concept is simple and doing it is quite simple too depending on if you are paid via direct deposit or paycheck. Note: Both of these methods require opening a second bank account if you don’t already have one!

  • Direct Deposit: Let whoever is in charge of your payroll know you want to add an account for direct deposit. You will need your savings account’s routing number and account number to do this.
  • Paycheck: When you go to deposit your check, you will have to let the bank teller know you would like to deposit some into your savings and the rest into checking. It may not be “saving automatically” this way, but it’ll work better than the old method.

Now that you have started saving you’ll soon join the less-than-50% of Americans who can survive for more than one month off their savings. The key to this is not only putting money into savings, but not pulling it out right away. A savings account does no good if you can use an app on your phone and be 3 clicks away from having it right back in your checking account.

Don’t make it easy to steal from your savings!

If your savings are just a few clicks on an app from being transferred and spent, consider either making it more difficult to access or making yourself wait three days between any plan to withdraw and actually doing it. This should help limit knee-jerk reactions to withdraw and give you time to properly plan how to use your funds.

While saving money isn’t the most intrinsically rewarding thing you can do, you’ll be glad one day that you put away a small portion of your pay rather than making a couple of extra fast food runs a week.

3 details you should know while preparing for tax season 2017

12 Jan

Tax season can be an exciting time for savers. This year, more Americans are opting out of a tax time splurge and focusing on getting ahead with their tax refunds.

Early filers can still file as they normally would, but we’ve got a couple tips in mind for how your household can use this information to make the most of your tax time preparations:prep-for-tax-season

  1. File a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file.You can’t get the EITC unless you file a return. End of story. Since the IRS estimates that about 25 percent of taxpayers who are eligible for the EITC fail to claim it, this is a vital first step in determining your eligibility.Bonus? If this is the first year that you are claiming the credit, you can use the EITC Assistant to see if you qualify for tax years: 2015, 2014 and 2013. You can file any time during the year to claim the EITC. Something to know: A new tax law will delay refunds that claim the EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15. Learn more here.
  2. Decide where and how you will file your taxes and know your free options.Unless you know your return is going to be complicated this year, paying someone to file a tax return should always be a last resort. Decide whether you’d rather file online or in person, and then check out these free filing options:
    • Use Free File on IRS.gov– This free software walks you through a Q&A format to help prepare your return and claim every credit and deduction for which you may be eligible.
    • Try the Free File Fillable Forms– If you’re comfortable preparing your own returns, this option is for you! It allows you to file electronically using online versions of IRS paper forms.
    • Visit a free tax preparation site– If your total household income is less than $54,000 a year, you can seek free tax prep at one of thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Military Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (M-VITA), and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. To locate the nearest site, you can search online or call the IRS at 800-906-9887.
  3. Make a plan for your tax refund that accounts for the EITC/ACTC delay.We know it can be hard to come up with alternative funds if you already had plans for your refund early in the year, but don’t be suckered by refund anticipation products provided by many commercial tax return preparers. The loan fees will have you seeing red.If you start your planning by dedicating your refund, or at least part of it, to savings, you can get ahead of your savings goals. Enter  the SaveYourRefund promotion with $35,000 in cash prizes and 101 chances to win simply for saving a portion of your refund. For more information and how to commit to saving prior to filing your return , visit saveyourrefund.com.

Tammy G. Bruzon works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at AmericaSaves.org.

Healthcare & College Students: What You Need to Know

8 Jul

Up to this point in your life, there’s a very good chance that you’ve never picked up the phone to schedule a doctor’s appointment.  There’s also a very good chance that you’ve never thought about how medical insurance works. The receptionist at the doctor’s office takes the information and the charges get paid, right?  Well, sometimes, but this is typically not the case.  Many people are covered by an employer-provided insurance plan. Often, these plans have high deductibles, and a limited number of physicians you’re allowed to see. As a college student, healthcare is probably the last thing on your mind,but it shouldn’t be. Unexpected healthcare costs could really put a bind on your already stretched college budget.

But don’t worry, the process isn’t as complicated as it seems.  With a little planning and preparation you can learn how to manage your healthcare dollars wisely. Here’s how:

Be Preparedfinal_student_healthcareedited.jpg

Have a plan and know your benefits before you need to use them.  Ask your parents if you are covered by their medical insurance and for how long. Most plans will cover you until you are 26. Once you find out this basic information, call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card.

Ask your insurance company:

  • Am I covered while I am away from home? Some plans only cover for emergency services when you are away from home.
  • Am I covered at Purdue University Student Health Services? PUSH is out of network for all insurance plans except the student resources plan offered by the university.
  • What percentage will your insurance pay? What percentage will be your responsibility? You will be responsible to pay for services not covered or the balance after insurance payment.

Once you are familiar with your current insurance coverage, you can go here to see the plan offered by the university.  Read the plan coverage and do a quick cost/benefit analysis to decide whether this plan would be more or less cost effective for you and your individual circumstances.

Purdue University Student Health Services (PUSH)

Purdue Student Health Services is a student-oriented healthcare facility on campus.  The providers at PUSH understand college health and its impact on your academic success. This is a great resource for affordable, accessible healthcare. Most currently enrolled students on the West Lafayette campus are eligible to be seen at PUSH. Students enrolled full time during any semester can be seen for an illness or injury at no charge.  Students enrolled part time are eligible to be seen, but they will have to pay an office visit charge.  There are fees for all other services, including laboratory, radiology, physical therapy, women’s services, allergy and immunization services, and sports medicine. Although there are fees for most services at PUSH, the fees are typically less than they would be if you were to go to a provider off campus (good to know if your percentage of required out-of-pocket expense is high). If you are at PUSH for an office visit and your provider recommends any testing or treatment, regardless of your insurance coverage, it’s always best to ask our business office how much the test/treatment will be and find out from your insurance company how much they will pay for that particular charge.

Don’t forget to utilize the Business Services department at PUSH.  Often, they can help you choose the most cost-effective path forward with your healthcare.

Practice Healthy Habits

Now that you will be learning how to manage your own health and healthcare with less parental involvement, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself matters in the learning process.  Staying healthy is going to save you the most money in terms of healthcare expenses.  Good nutrition, sleep, and exercise are as important as studying for that final exam. You are going to be learning habits now that will impact your wellness for the rest of your life. In the long run, taking care of your health, managing your healthcare, and being a wise consumer with your healthcare dollars will reward you, and your bank account.

Frugal Living Tips I Learned in College

11 May

close up dollar bills

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

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!

Food: The Perfect Gift to Give…and Receive!

15 Dec

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

Yay for the Holidays! There is all the delicious food, the holiday cheer, the break from classes, and of course presents! While it’s always awesome getting presents, giving presents can sometimes be a little more challenging; no one said finding the perfect gift was easy! There are always cheap ideas on Pinterest. Goodwill and the Salvation Army always have really neat things too. On a more personal level though, one staple gift I always give is good food and a good time! We are college kids so money can be super tight. Personally, I never turn down free food. And you can always be sure it’s a gift people will actually use and enjoy.

Are you the most popular person on campus? While it’s wonderful having all of those friends, buying gifts for all of them could potentially put a strain on your budget. While some people choose to select only a few people to buy gifts for, others may want to be more inclusive. Cookies to the rescue! Cookies are great for several reasons. There are lots of different varieties, but most have the same basic ingredients, so making a bunch of different types isn’t too difficult. You can make very large batches fairly quickly. Personally, I couldn’t shop for 10 people in 2 hours, but I can make enough cookies in that time frame. Depending on the recipe, you can make even more than that! Getting a lot done in a short amount of time is always a great thing.

2 cupcakes on a plate: text overlay  Food: the perfect gift to give...and receive!

Another option: Host a Christmas dinner party. A well-cooked ham or turkey can feed several people. While there is a little more involved, a delicious entrée is just an oven and a couple hours away! People can get homesick and nothing quite compares to a well home cooked meal. You can also choose to have a potluck so others can get involved!  Plus, left overs are an added side bonus. So not only are you giving a great gift and having a good time with friends, now you have dinner or lunch made for a while.

Are you looking for something a little more personal and one-on-one? There is an old saying that a way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Perhaps you can make a pie to start a conversation with that cute somebody, or a cake to go with that coffee date. Romantic dinner for two anyone? One of the great things about food is it’s versatile for large groups, or just a special someone.

If you’re still not sold, nothing quite gives parents the warm fuzzies like having a break. Offer to help with that big Christmas dinner, or even cook some dinners for them. There are several crock-pot recipes and dishes you can prepare the night before so that on Christmas morning, after all the gifts have been unwrapped, there is a hot delicious breakfast waiting. After all that excitement, who wouldn’t be famished?

Not all of us are fantastic cooks ( guilty, but I can follow a recipe). And for people out there who need some guidance, Pinterest, Google, and Food Network are great, free places to get recipes and ideas. So who knows, maybe you’ll even surprise yourself with a hidden gem. It could be a favorite family recipe that is about to be passed on to one more generation. Food is a great gift to give on the holidays. And nothing quite compares to seeing the happiness on another’s face when giving a gift.

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