Kansas State University


Powercat Financial

Don’t Forget To Talk About Money Over Break!

Winter break and the holiday season are approaching and it’s the perfect time to talk about money. Here are a few table conversations you should have this year.

Model good financial behaviors. These gatherings are an opportune time to educate younger members of the family on financial literacy. This may come with an eye roll, however, it is important they learn from older family members about your financial successes and failures. Younger family members are more receptive to advice from family other than their parents and soon they will be in your shoes. Therefore, talking about your holiday budget or college scholarships wouldn’t be a bad thing to discuss.

Student loans and college savings. Have an open dialogue about the finances you have available for this next year as the priority deadline for the FAFSA gets closer (December 1, 2017, for the 2018-2019 academic year). It is important that you are on the same page as your family in what you need for this upcoming year. Expenses and income vary every year and it is important to be transparent about how finances are currently going and how you foresee them in the future. Discuss expectations regarding spending, work, borrowing and other such financial matters.

Tie it to a gift. If gift giving is part of the celebration than find a creative way to teach about money while still giving people joy. This can be done through a piggy bank or a contribution to a college savings plan if they are younger. These gifts can be supplemented with conversations about savings and giving to those in need in your community.

Discuss long-term plans. This doesn’t need to be a morbid conversation. However, estate planning, long term care, and medical preferences are something a family should talk about. As family members grow older there is information we should know and be able to talk about. This could be brought up naturally from a grandmother talking about putting something in her will for you or a joke about putting your family members in a home one day. These prompts could lead into a real conversation about their needs and wants. This is an opportune time to discuss this while all family members are present that will be affected. There are times that this conversation wouldn’t be appropriate, however, it is an important topic to discuss.

You dont have to solve everything. This chat is not meant to be stressful only helpful. This chat doesn’t need to go past transparency and financial responsibility to start setting expectations for family members. But it is important that you have these multi-generational conversations and to start a habit of having open, ongoing dialogue with your family.

If you’re not sure how to get the conversations started, simply print this post and share it with your family members as a guideline of financial topics you can review together. Don’t forget you can make a free appointment with us anytime from our website at www.ksu.edu/powercatfinancial, to discuss any of these financial matters or questions you may have in more detail.

Alex Bangert

Peer Financial Counselor I


How to Be A Thrifty Giver During the Holidays


During the holidays money can be tight— especially with all the pressure to get everyone you know a nice and meaningful gift. Below are some helpful tips for you and your wallet during the holidays.


Make a List and Check it Twice


First, list out all the people you’d like to get gifts for. After you do that, look through it again. Are there people on there that you maybe have lost touch with or don’t talk to as much anymore? If you are working with a tight budget during the holidays, it will be beneficial shortening this list to those you still have strong relationships with.


Another way to shorten your list would be to start a Secret Santa. Instead of you and your friends getting a gift for every single person, start a Secret Santa. This will limit the number of gift purchases while also allowing you to focus on getting a nice gift for one person instead of however many smaller gifts to stay in budget.


Create a Budget


Now that you have your list, you need to think about what is the total amount that you can afford to spend this holiday season. How much are you willing to spend on each person on your list? When thinking of your budget for the holidays, don’t forget to factor in the little things like wrapping paper, holiday parties, tasty treats, winter activities, and other miscellaneous expenses. Once you have the amount you are willing or can spend on people, you need to start saving for that. The key to saving for holiday shopping is by starting now. The sooner you start the easier it will be to come up with that money. Start now by setting aside a portion of each paycheck or picking up some odd jobs like babysitting, mowing lawns, etc. Another way to save for the holidays is to cut back on your monthly expenses from now until end of January. Try cutting out that extra cup of coffee or try staying in for dinner instead of eating out. The little things will add up over time which is why it’s important to start now!


Think About What to Give


When thinking of what to give people don’t forget the gift of time. Sometimes it may be more meaningful to donate your time to someone and it would be easier on your budget. You could also give a batch of homemade cookies to those people on your list that you have lost touch with. That way you could give a gift to that person without breaking your wallet.


Also when thinking of gifts, don’t count out the DIY projects. Going through Pinterest could give you some great ideas for inexpensive gifts that you could gift to someone on your list. A great gift on there is a DIY decorated coffee mug. You could even go to a thrift store to pick up some plain mugs to take home and decorate yourself.



Do Your Research


Now that you have who you are shopping for and ideas of what to get them, it’s time to do some research. Shop around and find the best deals on items. Look for sites that give user reviews on items as well as sites that show price comparisons such as amazon.com, Cnet.com, and Pricegrabber.com. Another great thing for holiday shopping is coupons which you can find sites like RetailMeNot.com and EBates.com. Free phone applications can also help in your search for deals during this time. Pocket Points offers many deals on online stores for college students. All you have to do is stay off your phone during class!


Holiday shopping can be fun, but don’t get carried away! To help stay on budget when walking into promotion filled stores only bring the cash that you had budgeted for. Leave the credit cards at home! It’s too easy to just swipe your card and go; but if you do make sure to pay your card balance off immediately. You don’t want to have a credit card balance looming over you for the months to follow after the holidays.


Another great way to shop for the holidays, is to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. These days can be overwhelming, but they offer great deals. Go into these days having done some research on what their price will be on those days for the things you want to gift.


Attend our Thrifty Gifting Workshop


Powercat Financial will be hosting its annual Thrifty Gifting Workshop this Thursday, November 9th from 4:30 – 6:00 in the Flint Hills Room in the Student Union. There will be games, prizes, and tips for students on how to stay on a budget during the holidays. There is also a chance to win two Country Stampede tickets and free food for all! Everyone should walk away with a prize and some great holiday tips!


If you have any questions about how to start your holiday budget, schedule a free and confidential appointment with Powercat Financial at www.ksu.edu/powercatfinancial! We would love to help you out.



Gretchen Holthaus

Peer Financial Counselor I



Post-Wedding Financial To-Do List

Once you have just tied the knot and all the excitement is over, you now have to face the real world of finance as a couple. Hopefully your first conversation about money has taken place before your marriage but if not, better late than never! Even though you have the rest of your lives to spend together, you should accomplish these five important financial tasks within your first year of marriage.

Set Financial Goals

Your financial goals will determine how you live your lives from here on out. It is important for you to establish where you stand on certain financial topics such as savings, credit cards, and risk tolerance. Is one of you a spender and the other a saver? Some view credit cards as an easy way to build credit while others see them as an evil temptation. There are plenty of people who prefer to take on a high risk for the chance of gaining a high reward, while others tend to be more conservative and prefer more dependable savings or investment strategies. Once you have disclosed these opinions, you can move on to setting more specific, achievable goals. Common goals include buying a house, paying off student loans, financing children’s college education, saving enough for retirement; however the possibilities are endless and depend entirely on your specific situation.

Get Organized

Once your financial goals are all laid out, you must work out how to practically achieve them. Budgeting is a key component of this. You should write down your combined monthly income, subtract monthly fixed (necessary) expenses, and see how much you have left to spend. Together, you should decide how much of that should be put into savings or investments. Building an emergency fund with enough to fund three to six months’ worth of expenses is a fantastic place to start. From there, you should decide how you are going to manage your finances. Will you have one joint account, two separate ones, or a joint account for household expenses and separate accounts for each of your personal use? Who is responsible for paying the bills? Who will manage the budget and keep track of expenses? It is important to make sure you are specifically assigning these tasks but sharing the financial responsibility.

Update Your Paperwork

You have just confessed your love in front of all your friends and family—now it is time to do it for the government. If one of you is changing your last name, you will need to get a new driver’s license, then Social Security card, passport, and credit cards as soon as possible. Make sure to bring your marriage license with you! You should also review your tax withholding. You will both need to fill out a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to update your marital status and number of W-2 withholding allowances. Additionally, you will also likely want to add each other as a beneficiary in your will, investments, and all insurance accounts.

Create A Will

If one or both of you do not have a will or trust, marriage is the time to start one. Many newlywed couples believe they do not need a will because they are usually young and in good health. No one anticipates an early death, however, so it is important to be prepared for the worst. If you care who gets your property, money, and responsibility of your children, you need a will. To get started, there is software available to create a legal, binding will in every state from home (as long as the guidelines are followed in regards to having it signed and witnessed) or by hiring an attorney. At minimum, a will should appoint a guardian for any minor children, appoint an executor to administer the will in the event of death, and explain exactly how all your property should be distributed.

Evaluate Your Insurance Coverage

Marriage is the perfect benchmark opportunity to take a look at your combined insurance policies and review them for insufficient, duplicate, or missing coverage. There is a potential to save on automobile insurance premiums by combining policies. Since marriage almost always involves living under the same roof, one of you will probably cancel your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy if you have one. It is important to take the time to ensure that all of your combined property (jewelry, electronics, collectibles, etc.) is covered under that remaining policy. It might be time to purchase a life insurance policy for one or both of you to protect the other from the significant income loss that would occur as the result an early death. If both of you have health insurance, you should look at your policies carefully from a benefits standpoint to see whether it makes more sense to cancel one plan or keep both. Procrastination alert: insurance companies usually only allow 30 days following the wedding to add a spouse as a dependent without providing evidence of insurability, so this is a priority!

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

While many people find discussing money uncomfortable, couples should NOT make finances a taboo topic in their relationship. As financial decisions affect all members of the family, big decisions and purchases should never be made without both of your consent. Even if you have decided to hold separate banking accounts, there cannot be big financial secrets between the two of you otherwise there is a breach in trust. It all comes down to respect, accountability, and honesty: both of you need to stick to the budget, set spending boundaries, and compromise with each other in order to be successful and achieve your financial goals. These ideals will not only help you in your finances, but will also benefit you in all aspects of your marriage.

Change can be daunting, especially when it comes to such a big transition as marriage. However, you don’t need to stress, as long as you set realistic financial goals, get organized, update your paperwork, evaluate your insurance, and simply communicate well with one another. Starting off on top of these things will help you to develop a happy and healthy marriage for years to come.

If you’d like to join your partner in learning more tips and trick for merging finances, SAVE THE DATE to attend our Marriage & Money Seminar on February 13, 2018, at 7:00 pm in Union room 227!

Abigail Pope

Peer Counselor I

Powercat Financial










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