Kansas State University


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Three Effective Ways To Get More Out Of Calculators

Would you ever consider taking a math class without a calculator? Of course not! So why would you want to go through life without the assistance of a calculator meant specially to aid you and your finances? Below are three different calculators that I have provided for you so that you can incorporate them into your everyday life.

Student Loan Repayment Estimator

College is awesome, but sometimes we are faced with taking out student loans so that we can get an education. If you have ever caught yourself wondering how long it will take you to pay off your student loans, then you should use the student loan repayment estimator provided by FASFA. You can estimate your monthly loan payments and evaluate loan repayment options by going to this website:


Then, proceed to log in to your account and your loans and interest rate will show you the estimate of your payments. This estimator will provide you with the answers you need so that you can start to prepare a budget for paying off your student loans.

Tax Withholding Estimator

Whether you get paid weekly, biweekly, or monthly, its important to identify your tax withholdings so that you are having the right amount of tax withheld from each paycheck. For every employee this is important because checking your withholdings can be vital to making sure you didn’t withhold too little and end up facing an unexpected tax bill. A great tool to use is the Tax Withholding Estimator provided by the IRS. By using this estimator, you can determine if you need to give your employer a new W-4 form and adjust your income tax withholdings. Just visit https://apps.irs.gov/app/tax-withholding-estimator to utilize this tool.

Mortgage Calculator

Are you looking to buy a home? Maybe you’re graduating soon and you feel like this is the next step. Buying a home can be an overwhelming experience considering all the different options available and the monthly mortgage payment you are about to incur. NerdWallet is here to help. If you are wanting to figure out what your monthly payment may be so you can budget your future purchase, a mortgage calculator can help. Nerdwallet’s calculator can help to estimate your monthly payment that includes your principal and interest, taxes, insurance, and private mortgage insurance (PMI). All you have to do is go to https://www.nerdwallet.com/mortgages/mortgage-calculator/calculate-mortgage-payment and enter in your home price, down payment, interest rate, loan term, and location of your home.

If you need additional help with these calculators or have further questions, then Powercat Financial is here to help! The peer counselors are available to assist you with any of your financial concerns, and they excel at utilizing all of the calculators listed above. Schedule an appointment with us today at www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/! We look forward to meeting with you.


Emma Drees

Peer Counselor II

Powercat Financial



The Beauty of Budgeting

“I don’t need a budget!”, “I really don’t spend much!”, or “I am in college and have no money, why would I need a budget?” Do these words sound familiar to you? Maybe a loved one says this whenever budgeting comes up. Maybe those words sound familiar because you’ve heard them come out of your own mouth. Regardless of who says these words, it is not uncommon for people to have a disdain for budgeting. I am here to explain why budgeting is beautiful.

My enjoyment of budgeting increased exponentially when I understood the concept of opportunity cost.  Opportunity costs, as defined by Investopedia, “represent the benefits an individual, investor or business misses out on when choosing one alternative over another.” Essentially opportunity cost is giving up one thing because you decided to pursue something else. Budgeting became so much more important when I understood that, for every dollar spent, it is a dollar I will be unable to use. So, for example, if I spend money eating lunch at the office, it probably means I will be unable to eat-out with my friends later this week.

This leads to the beauty of budgeting. Using my budget allows me to see where I am spending my money. If I realize every dollar spent means giving up another opportunity, I am more attentive to “money waste”. Money waste is when I spend money on things I don’t want and don’t need. Budgeting reduces when I “accidentally” eat out or when I “accidentally” buy a new pair of shoes. A good example of the combination of these budgeting and opportunity cost comes from my internship this summer. Over the summer, I only bought food at the office where I worked a handful of times. I did this because I valued being able to eat out with my friends in the evenings more than the ease of not needing to pack a lunch every day. I knew that I did not have the funds available to eat out for lunch every day because of my budget. Opportunity costs remind me of my limited money supply and budgeting helps point out when I am spending that scarce resource on things I neither want or need.

Are you wanting to develop a budget? Consider coming into Powercat Financial where we provide free and confidential advice to all K-State students. If you are ready to more efficiently use your money, schedule an appointment at https://www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/. We would love to help you develop healthy financial habits!

Philip Wegman

Peer Counselor II

Powercat Financial





Time to find that part-time job!

Part-time jobs can be beneficial to students regardless of their financial status and should be one of the first things they do when they get on campus. Students who work part-time jobs gain valuable real life work experience, develop interpersonal skills, and improve their time management. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics even found that students working less than 20 hours a week earn about 0.10 higher GPAs than those who don’t work at all. The bottom line is, part-time work can assist students in their professional development in many ways. Today, we’ll be discussing where you can find part-time work and how to get that job.

Finding Part-Time Work:

It might seem a little overwhelming at first, but finding a part-time job at K-State is easy! Handshake is an online resource you can use that can help you find who is hiring in your area and then easily connect with them. Through Handshake, you can search/ refine job postings, review career fair information, manage on-campus recruiting, and even find internships or full-time work. Students interested in setting up a Handshake account can do so with their K-State eID at https://www.k-state.edu/careercenter/handshake/.


Chances are, finding a part-time job, or any sort of job, will begin with an application process. The application is a critical part of the process. Before submitting anything, make sure to read the job description. This will have important details of what the employer is looking for and can help you phrase your resume and application appropriately. Additionally, the required qualifications can also help you tailor your resume to what your employer is looking for, but it can also help determine if this job is the right fit for you.

Work Study:

One way in which students can make themselves more marketable to potential employers is through the federal work study program. Students who qualify for work study through the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, are eligible to have their paycheck paid partially by the Federal government. This makes employers more likely to hire students and allows students to work part-time jobs throughout their education. Once you receive work study in your aid package, the next step is to secure an on-campus job and to let your department HR person know you have work study eligibility. They will then have to complete a Position Description form and submit it to the Office of Student Financial Assistance to begin applying your work study aid to the department to help fund your paychecks.

Benefits of Part-Time Work:

Aside from helping you professionally, one of the primary things employers look for in hiring full-time candidates is previous work experience. Often times, students find themselves in the vicious cycle of not being able to gain work experience due to their lack of previous work experience. Part-time jobs allow students to break this cycle by gaining valuable transferrable skills. Furthermore, students with part-time jobs have the opportunity to make connections that may be beneficial to them in the future and improve on their time management skills.

If you found this article useful or are interested in learning more about where you can find part-time work, then Powercat Financial can be an awesome resource for you! Peer Counselors can help you build a budget to plan how many hours you’ll need to work, can help you evaluate job offers, and can help you understand benefits. For more information, check out our website and schedule an appointment with us!


Avery Bolar

Peer Counselor III

Powercat Financial

302 K-State Student Union, Third Floor

918 N. 17th Street

Manhattan, KS 66506-2800




Protecting Yourself on the Road: A Simplified Guide to Car Insurance

Traffic around campus during the school year can be chaotic. I recall driving through campus on the first day of class. The sun was in my eyes, cars were lined up behind stoplights, students were crossing the street everywhere, and everyone was in a hurry to make it to class on time. Although I am gripping the steering wheel so hard my knuckles turn white, I have peace of mind knowing my truck has full coverage and I am financially prepared in case of an emergency.

I consider myself to be a great driver, but no one is perfect. Everyone carries the risk of getting in a car accident, but most people carry less financial risk because of insurance. The question many people ask is: “How do I know if I’m financially protected in case of an accident?” Insurance policies can contain language that may seem foreign, so sometimes it is difficult to understand what you are paying for. I will outline some of these terms and concepts, so you can select the best policy for you and be better prepared for financial emergencies.

Basic Insurance Terms:

Limits: The maximum amount that a policy will pay out. It can be expressed in several ways such as an annual limit, per person limit, or per accident limit.

Premium: The dollar amount you pay the insurance company for a particular policy.

Deductible: The amount you have to pay before the insurance policy pays. For auto insurance, this is typically the amount you pay per accident. Example: You get in an accident and your repairs are $2,000 and your deductible is $1,000. You are required to pay $1,000 and the insurance policy will pay the other $1,000.

Basic types of Coverage:

Liability: Coverage in case you get into a car accident and it is your fault. If the other person involved in the accident gets hurt or has damage to their vehicle, you are responsible for paying for these damages (including medical expenses resulting from bodily injury). Liability coverage will pay up to a certain limit to the injured third party. Your policy will often have stated limits of liability that look like this:

300/500/300 or $300,000/$500,000/$300,000

The first number represents the bodily injury liability limits per person. So this policy will pay $300,000 for every passenger that was injured in an accident you caused. The exception to this is if you reach the per accident limit (the middle number) of $500,000. The policy will not cover you for over that amount for each accident you cause. For instance, if you have the limits listed above and you injure 2 passengers who each have $300,000 worth of medical expenses for a total of $600,000, you will be responsible for paying $100,000 out of pocket. The last number represents how much coverage you have for damage to someone else’s property, stated on a per accident basis.

Vehicle Coverage – Comprehensive and Collison: This type of coverage protects you financially in case your vehicle was damaged in an accident. Collision insurance protects your vehicle if you were to get in a wreck. Comprehensive, also known as other-than-collision coverage, protects your vehicle from other things like fire, vandalism and hail. The purpose of this coverage is to pay for repairs to your vehicle after an accident, or help you replace your vehicle in the event of a total loss. An agreed upon deductible will apply in this type of coverage. So for instance, if you have a $1,000 deductible and your repairs after an accident only cost $750, you are required to pay for the repair fully out of pocket.

Keep in mind that there are many other types of coverage you can get in an auto insurance policy that are worth taking a look at. Accident forgiveness, Personal Injury Protection, and Uninsured/underinsured Motorist are all different types of coverages you can add to your policy.

Tips for selecting the right policy:

When it comes to picking the right policy for you, you have to find something that you can fit in your budget, but at the same time, protect you and your assets. Buying insurance is similar to setting up an emergency savings account, they are both helping you prepare for the unexpected.

When selecting liability limits, understand that Kansas law requires you to have at least 25/50/10 limits of liability. Is that enough? Absolutely not. How many vehicles in Manhattan are worth more than $10,000? In a bad accident with multiple vehicles, medical expenses can easily soar past $50,000. So what are acceptable limits? Most insurance agents recommend getting the highest limits that you are offered and can afford premium-wise. Financial guru Dave Ramsey says that you should have at least $500,000 worth of liability coverage. Keep in mind newer drivers might not be offered limits this high.

Comprehensive and collision coverage may be expensive depending on the value of your car. If you have a brand new vehicle, you’ll likely want to have this coverage. If you drive a very old and very inexpensive car, you’ll have to weigh your options and risk. One opinion indicates, if you have enough emergency savings to replace the vehicle and it carries a very low resale value, then you might consider forgoing the coverage.

One way to save on comprehensive and collision coverage is to raise your deductible. Although you will have to pay more out of pocket in the event of an accident, you will likely save a lot more by having lower premiums. Your premiums are also based on your driving history (tickets and accidents), age, and even your credit score.

The last piece of advice I would give is make sure that you understand your policy and how you need to react in the event of an accident. There are also certain exclusions in an insurance policy that will state when coverage will not be granted. Know how your insurance company wants you to handle reporting any claims.

Managing risk can be stressful. We deal with uncertainty every day. If you are wondering how you can be better prepared for emergencies and want some advice on saving and budgeting, make an appointment with a peer financial counselor! You can schedule a free appointment by visiting our website: https://www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/



Morgan Flax

Peer Counselor II

Powercat Financial


Why personal finance matters

If you are following this blog, you probably care a little bit about personal finance. Thank goodness! Even if talking about and dealing with money isn’t your favorite thing, it definitely affects your life. How much money you have, how you spend it, how you navigate financial conflict, all can affect things like overall happiness, relationship satisfaction, stress, anxiety, depression, and a horde of other factors. So even though money may not be the most fun thing to think about, especially as a college student, it heavily impacts your life.

That’s where we come in. Some of you may take a personal financial planning class as part of your college career and some may not. However, every single student can come to Powercat Financial to learn the skills necessary to lead a successful financial life. We can teach you everything from budgeting, to managing credit cards, repaying student loans, understanding your benefits, and more! This financial education is top-notch, and our program is a unique program that helps hundreds of students in one-on-one counseling sessions and thousands of students in our financial presentations.

But what is the point of all this information? Reality is, information is only as good as it is applied, or as Albert Einstein says, “Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom.” So until you apply the things taught here in your life, the info isn’t much good in your life. So this is my challenge to you. Apply what you learn and see if it turns out fruitful for your life. Information about how budgeting is important (it is) and how crucial it is to plan ahead for your future (also true) won’t do any good until you decide to actually budget and plan ahead. I promise you, if you consistently keep a budget and plan for the future, you will see the fruit of the work.

Powercat Financial is here for you no matter where you are on your college and financial journey. Whether you are feeling totally confident about your financial future or you are on the brink of tears because of your financial stress, we are here for you. It’s our job. It’s what we are here for. So do your future self a favor and make an appointment with us today!


Nate Astle

Graduate Assistant

Powercat Financial

Budgeting for your internship

Well everyone, it’s that time of year again. The weather is getting better, the days are getting longer, and finals week is just around the corner. Prepping for finals week is just one of the steps we all need to take to prepare for the summer months ahead. If you were lucky enough to land a summer internship there is plenty to think about before you head to your new job on day one including, budgeting, finding a place to live, and comparing living costs in a new city.


Budgeting is step one of planning for your financial future. If you are lucky enough to have a paid internship then you will need to determine how to use your new found income. If your internship is paying you with a fantastic experience then you will need to plan how to live off of built up savings. Some important things to consider is how you are being paid.

  • Hourly: If your income is based on an hourly rate, then your income estimate must reflect your hours of work each week multiplied by your hourly wage. Then multiply that amount by the number of times you are paid each month (twice for bi-monthly, four times for weekly) to compute your monthly income, less any withholding from your paycheck.
  • One-time payment: If your payment is a one-time stipend then you will need to plan how to utilize that total over the next few months. A good method is to divide the total you are being paid after withholding by the length of the internship in months. This calculation will determine the amount you can afford to spend each month throughout your internship.

Powercat Financial’s spending plan worksheet is a great resource to get you started with the budgeting process. Step 1 will have you estimate your income and expenses in a given month. Step 2 has you record the actual amount of income and expenses you had for that month. Then, you complete the budgeting process by setting your budget based on the information you gather while comparing your estimates and actuals. The spending plan worksheet is available on the Powercat Financial website under the Budgeting tab.

Finding a place to live

Finding a place to live is often the toughest part of an internship. It’s important to consider not only overall cost but also your individual needs. If you aren’t able to live with family or friends in a new city, there are still other options available. The main housing options I will discuss today is intern housing offered by the employer, long term Air BNB reservations, or standard rent.

  • Intern housing: Often times your employer will have a predetermined housing option. This is a great way to meet your fellow interns and often comes at a cheaper rent than what you could find on your own. A downside is the preset housing may not have all the same amenities you could find at other locations. Often the employee housing could be campus dormitories of a nearby school or even a long term stay hotel. It’s critical that you consider what is most important to you and that you thoroughly evaluate the options presented.
  • Long-term Air BNB: This is another option that has become more prevalent in the last few years. When selecting an Air BNB or similar option you will need to make sure that all your needs are met and that the host can house you for the full length of the internship. Additionally, always use caution when evaluating Air BNB hosts.
  • Standard rent: Another option is renting. Whether it is a house with some friends or just an apartment by yourself or with another intern this is a nice option. A few things to look for when searching for an apartment over the summer is to find one that has a lease for only the month’s you will be living there. This allows you to avoid paying rent for times that you aren’t using the space.


Comparing cost of living

Finally, you will want to be aware of any changes to cost of living based on the city you will be in. A great resource to make this comparison is the cost of living comparison from Bank Rate available here: https://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/moving-cost-of-living-calculator.aspx. This calculator allows you to put in a salary in one location and it will determine the salary you would need in a new location to maintain the same style of living. Additionally, great detail can be found about housing prices, food prices and much more.

These are just a few of the things you need to consider before starting on day one of your new internship. Starting a new role, possibly in a new city, can be a stressful time but Powercat Financial is here to help. If you would like to come in and discuss a job offer, living in a new city, or any other financial topic just visit https://www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/ and select the request appointment button.

Good luck on finals and best of luck this summer!


Will Orth

Graduate Assistant

Powercat Financial

302 K-State Student Union, Third Floor


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