Kansas State University


Powercat Financial

Author: Nathan Astle

Watch that Holiday Spending!

The holidays are an especially fun time of the year. Family and friends come together for food, laughter and of course gifts. With all this fun comes expenses and finding gifts for all the ones you love can be a tall task. Luckily, Powercat Financial is here to help you manage the holidays.

  • Budget: It’s important to know your total spending limit. This includes gifts, decorations, food and everything in between. Check out the Holiday Budget Worksheet available here for help creating your holiday budget. Additionally, visit our blog posted November 5th here for more information.
  • Utilize shopping websites: Shop online retailers such as www.overstock.com and retailmenot.com to find deals that the in-store locations may not offer. A little research and some price comparison can go a long way.
  • Create extra income: Working odd jobs over the holiday break can create extra income to help you afford the holidays. Offering to do yard work or shovel snow, babysit, or tutoring can make a major impact on your holiday budget.
  • Start early: Find deals on the gifts you want by giving yourself the gift of time and preparing for the holiday season early.

The holidays are a stressful enough time as is. Use the tips listed above and come meet with us at Powercat Financial to make the holiday season a little less stressful and a lot more fun. To request an appointment, visit our website at www.ksu.edu/powercatfinancial.

Will Orth

Graduate Assistant

Powercat Financial

K-State Student Union, Third Floor



Jodi’s Corner: Financial Myth Busters and FAQs

Did You Know?

• You can check your own credit report as much as you’d like and it does not affect your score. You get 3 free credit reports, 1 from each of the 3 credit bureaus each 12 months, at www.annualcreditreport.com.

• If you use more than 20-30% of your credit limit, it hurts your credit score.

• If your credit union is part of the shared branching network (also known as CU Service Centers), you can complete most routine transactions from anywhere, including: make deposits at any credit union that’s part of the network, or withdraw cash from a teller.

• If you originally declined all or part of your student loans, you can usually contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance and ask them to reinstate the loans should you need to accept them later in the school year.

• You can complete the FAFSA up to the end of the school year for the current academic year BUT you should submit early by your school’s priority date to be consider for the limited type of aid.

• Paying the interest that is accumulating now on your unsubsidized loans, via your student loan servicer, will prevent it from being capitalized and added to the principle of your loan at the end of your 6 month grace period.

• A store can run your debit card as a credit transaction so that you can received the additional consumer protection offered credit cards, but the funds are still deducted from your current checking account balance.

• Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a legitimate federal student loan forgiveness program still available for federal direct student loans when a borrower works fulltime in qualified nonprofit or government employment while making qualified payments for a total of 120 months (and it does not have to be a consecutive 120 months). Learn more at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

• Most employers will let you “Pay Yourself First” and automate your savings by putting an amount of each paycheck directly into savings and the balance into your checking account.


Putting the name of specific financial goals on sub-savings accounts can help you better focus on putting money aside for each goal (ex. “2020 Vacation to Spain – Savings Account” is much more effective than a generic “Savings Account”).

Jodi Kaus, JD, CTFA
Powercat Financial

7 Simple Tricks to Defend Your Credit and Identity from Fraud (Tis the Season!)

7 Simple Tricks to Defend Your Credit and Identity from Fraud (tis the season!)

The holiday season is upon us and black Friday is right around the corner. Every year with the increase in holiday spending transactions, there is an increase in financial information being stolen and used illegally. Today more than ever, we must be keep our financial information secure from thieves who are becoming smarter and using new technology to steal sensitive information. Whether you want to take advantage of a special sale or you are planning your routine spending, here are 7 ways you can protect yourself over the holidays.

1. Check your credit report
That’s right, check your credit report! You can check your credit report FOR FREE to receive all information regarding credit attached to your name once every 12 months from each of the 3 credit bureaus. Those credit bureaus are Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. Be careful to only use each bureau once every 12 months to avoid unnecessary charges to see your report. When you check your report verify that you aware of each piece of credit history on the report. As a student you may find that something has been opened in your name even if you don’t own a credit card, so check it just to be sure. After all it’s free!

2. Monitor your bank accounts
Utilize online banking to have real time information on purchases made with your accounts. Most institutions today have some sort of online or mobile banking. If you see any suspicious activity, report it to your bank right away and put a freeze on your accounts.

3. Don’t click links from senders that you don’t recognize
If you receive a link from someone you don’t know during the holiday season then chances are that it is an attempt to steal your information. You may already be aware that there is a large amount of links to special deals that are not really from the advertised seller. The best way to sniff out a fraudulent links is to check if the web browser has a protection verification in the web URL. If the URL is not secure, then you are not secure and you should close the page right away. If you the deal is real, you should be able to go directly to the retailer’s website and find the deal that way.

4. Set limits on your debit/ credit card spending through your bank or credit union
Check if your financial institution is able to set strict limits on your spending ability. This is an easy way to limit that amount of money that a thief is able to access in the event that your information gets in the wrong hands.

5. Mind data breaches
It is no secret that retail stores have had credit card information stolen on a large scale https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/target-settles-2013-hacked-customer-data-breach-18-5-million-n764031. Though this may be farfetched, be mindful of data breaches over the holidays. The faster you are aware of fraudulent activity the faster you are able to issue a credit freeze on your accounts. See our prior blog post about placing a free freeze on your credit at http://blogs.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/2018/10/02/new-credit-freeze-law/

6. Watch Out ATMs
Be careful of “skimmers”. Skimmers are devices that thieves place on ATMs and credit card readers to copy credit card information. Thieves then take that information to make purchases. Be mindful of where you are swiping your credit card. If your debit/ credit card utilizes an insertion chip, then you have an added layer of protection.

7. Be careful with public wifi
Public wifi connections are often not secure (or encrypted). This means that hackers and thieves have the ability to access your devices while they are connected to public wifi. During the holiday season, be extra mindful of this especially when dealing with finances on your devices.

Thieves are on the hunt this holiday season, and will try their best to steal your financial information. Whether you want to make an extra purchase this holiday season or you just plan to make typical purchases, take a few extra steps to protect your financial and personal information. Happy holidays!

Lyndon Breckenridge

Peer Financial Counselor II

Powercat Financial


Holiday Budget Tips

Holiday Budget Tips

It’s that time of year again! Holiday shopping is right around the corner, and unless you have been shopping throughout the year you are probably already storing items in your online shopping cart in anticipation for the big holiday sales! According to Investopedia.com the average American will spend approximately $900 on holiday gifts, a hefty bill for most college students. As you prepare for your holiday spending Powercat Financial wants to make sure you stay off the naughty list with these helpful tips!

  1. Know your TOTAL holiday spending limit – Set a reasonable spending limit and stick to it. Holiday season tends to be a budget buster for most, but you can reduce this risk my setting a total spending limit. Your total spending limit should be determined by your budget, the money you can reasonably spend on gifts is money that isn’t going to necessities like bills. If you want to add to your holiday spending limit, consider cutting out your morning latte or grabbing that fast food after work. Just remember to be realistic about what you are willing to sacrifice.
  2. Budget based on your OWN finances – Everyone’s budget looks different. Even though your older brother always gets you the fanciest presents, you don’t have to follow suit. Understand that people are in different places in their financial life.
  3. Do a little research – Several stores and online site will price match. Make sure you are getting the best deal rather than buying the first thing you see.
  4. Give your time instead of presents – There is no doubt people appreciate quality time together. Mom and dad, or close friends and family might love nothing more than a visit from you. Give small gift and big hugs!


Get more holiday tips, enjoy free food & win prizes

at Powercat Financial’s

Thrifty Gifting Holiday Budgeting Event

November 13th 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

227 K-State Student Union


Emily Koochel

Peer Financial Counselor IV

Powercat Financial

How the new credit scoring system will affect your credit score

Extra! Extra! How the new credit scoring system will affect your score

Big news in the world of credit. A new factor will affect your score in the upcoming year which means your score could go up significantly if you do a good job at managing your checking and savings account. According to a CBS blog, 40% of applicants could see an uptick of 20 points or more in their credit score. If you are not yet established with credit, it could also mean you will have a potentially higher score if you have had either a checking, savings, or money market account for a while. Here are some important things to know about this new credit score, the UltraFICO.

  • Things that will increase your score if you have had checking and saving accounts for several years, without bouncing checks, and who have at least $400 in savings.
  • You have to opt in to the new system by giving the lender access to your personal account information.
  • This is especially helpful for those who do not have much credit history (like you college student!)
  • Although you can provide the information to FICO to be used in your UltraFICO score, you can’t force lenders to look at your UltraFICO score when determining your eligibility for a loan or credit card.
  • It is being tested out “early next year” according to the blog.

This information may or may not affect you greatly now, but credit is an important thing to have. It is especially helpful to have if you are considering taking out a loan for a car or house, or if you are thinking of taking out private loans to cover for school. Keep in mind that it is up to lenders if they will use the new FICO score or choose to stick with the old one. With Powercat Financial, you can get customized education on your credit questions by requesting an appointment here or you can get basic credit information here. Powercat Financial wants you to be aware of your credit score and use your credit responsibly so you can achieve true financial wellness. If you have any question about credit or other borrowing options, please contact us at powercatfinancial@k-state.edu or call us 785-532-2889. You’ll be glad you did!

Need more information on basic financial management? We have a pre-recorded workshop that could serve that need. Check it out!

Nathan Astle

Graduate Assistant

Powercat Financial

K-State Student Union, Third Floor

Manhattan, KS 66506-2800



How to get help during midterms

We’ve reached the point in the semester where the weather starts getting colder, the days start getting shorter, the tests start getting harder, and the stress of students continues to rise. The middle of the semester can be tough on students as midterms, homework assignments, bills to pay, and the flu season start to weigh us down. Fortunately, K-State has a fantastic resource base to help students make it through these trying times.

  • Academic Achievement Center: Located in 101 Holton Hall, the Academic Achievement Center, is an academic resource provided by the university to help empower students academically through resources, encouragement, and hard work. The Academic Resource Center offers free scheduled and drop-in tutoring led by peer tutors who have excelled in the respective courses. During my freshman year I utilized scheduled tutoring for my Business Calculus class each week. My tutor was friendly and helpful and our small group was able to learn together in a relaxed environment! Students can sign up for tutoring here:

http://www.k-state.edu/aac/tutoring/request-tutor.html. The Academic Achievement Center also offers Educational Support Services to those who qualify and Academic Coaching by a professional team member. More information about the Academic Achievement Center can be found here: http://www.k-state.edu/aac/.

  • Counseling Services: Counseling Services has recently moved to a new location at 1105 Sunset Avenue, room 101. The overarching goal of Counseling Services is to provide brief intervention in a student’s life that may assist in decision making, skill building, or mental health support. The overriding goal for all students is to maintain successful academic progress and personal well-being. Counseling Services provides both short term focused counseling as well as opportunities for support throughout the semester. K-State students may receive up to 4 individual therapy sessions per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). More information about counseling services can be found here: https://www.k-state.edu/counseling/.


  • Lafene Health Center: Lafene Health Center serves as K-State’s cost-effective, physician-directed health and wellness facility. Lafene offers a wide range of acute and preventative services including, illness or injury treatment, laboratory testing, rehab and physical therapy, and X-rays among others. Lafene is located at 1105 Sunset Avenue and appointments can be made through their online portal or by calling 785-352-6544. More information about Lafene Health Center can be found at their website here: https://www.k-state.edu/lafene/.


  • Powercat Financial: Last but not least is Powercat Financial. Located on the third floor of the Student Union, Powercat Financial is a free peer to peer counseling service by students and for students. Powercat Financial’s trained counselors can provide information about budgeting, credit, student loan planning and repayment, and more! Powercat Financial also offers free financial presentations for classes and student organizations. To request an appointment or to check out more of the resources Powercat Financial has to offer, please visit our website here: http://www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/.

These are just a few of the resources that K-State has available for students, just like you and me, to be successful. I encourage you to take advantage of these resources, particularly during the more trying times of the semester.

Best of luck on midterms, Wildcats!

Will Orth

Graduate Assistant

Powercat Financial

302 K-State Student Union, Third Floor