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Protect Your Money and Avoid Email Marketers

Right now, many Americans are working from home. Many stores are closed or have reduced hours and they are losing business. Management recognizes this and tries combating this by producing online sales to draw you back in. One of the ways they reach out to you is through your email.

Email marketers send you notifications via email giving you updates on the current sales at your favorite stores. Usually, you become subscribed to these emails by entering your personal email either on the store’s website after purchasing a product or in person at the register while checking out. Once you are subscribed and begin to receive these emails, you are likely to follow their links to see how good the deals are and to see if maybe there is something you need. Be careful. Online shopping commonly results in overspending. How so?

Here are some tricks to watch out for:

  • The products on top aren’t necessarily the best-selling items, they may just be products the company needs to get rid of.
  • Free shipping has a motive. Most of the time to earn free shipping you have to buy more causing you to spend more than you planned.
  • Ease of checkout. These websites are designed to make checking out incredibly simple. The quicker you make your purchase the less time you have to consider how much you actually need them or if you can afford them.
  • Discounts! Again you receive a perk if you spend a certain amount of money causing you to spend more than you planned.
  • Anchor pricing. Slashes through “beginning” prices in red with new lower prices underneath to make you think that you are getting a great deal.

Now that you are aware of the marketing tricks these companies play on you, here are some ways to avoid them!

  • Cancel your subscriptions. This is as easy as opening an email and scrolling to the bottom, clicking on the unsubscribe link, and select “unsubscribe”. If you don’t receive these emails you likely won’t be tempted to go online and shop.
  • Use website filters to sort the products to what you are looking for.
  • Plan ahead and make a list of what you need and what you are willing to spend.
  • Take a moment to think before checking out. Do you really need this? Can you afford this?
  • Look to see if there will be bigger discounts in the nearby future.
  • Don’t be fooled by anchor pricing. Only buy the item if you think it is worth the price you will pay, regardless of the slashed/red number.

Right now, many of us are working reduced hours, or not working at all. It may feel like you are saving money by buying items at a discount, but in reality, you are not saving money at all if you did not plan to buy the product before getting online. Shopping may be a way to ease your boredom, but it can impact your finances greatly. Make sure that you are planning ahead, buying only what you need, and stick to your budget!

Need help reduce your spending? Request a free appointment at Powercat Financial today with one of our counselors at https://www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/.

Caitlin Herrmann

Peer Counselor I

Powercat Financial




Why Do I Spend So Much When Shopping Online?

Jodi’s Corner: Top 5 Financial Tasks Every Student Should Do Now!

  1. Review getkansasbenefits.gov to see if you are eligible to file for Kansas unemployment benefits if you have lost work income due to COVID (see https://www.getkansasbenefits.gov/Files/PDF/Unemployment_Insurance_and_COVID-19_Fact_Sheet.pdf);
  2. Be on the alert for scams from text messages or email pretending to be service providers, IRS or government entities potentially scamming you out of money;
  3. Review and update your spending plan to see where you can save money and direct funds to necessities (lower transportation costs potentially now);
  4. Look for outside scholarships and other resources via tools such as myScholly.com, FastWeb.com, Scholarships.com;
  5. File your 2019 income tax returns (see irs.gov and ksrevenue.org for free filing options) – the due date has been extended to July 15, 2020, but if you are due a refund you could file now to get those dollars back sooner.

Finally, request a free appointment with Powercat Financial via the link at www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial for assistance with these items or any other financial issues! We’re happy to help via phone or online video conferencing.

Jodi Kaus, Director

Powercat Financial


What the $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Means for You

On March 27th, Donald Trump signed a historic $2.2 trillion stimulus package into effect to assist the struggling economy, as well as American workers. This stimulus package has many different aspects that will apply differently according to the situation. Here are a few components of the package that will effect college students as a whole.

Direct Payments to Individuals

The first major aspect that stands out to the American public is the direct payments to individuals. Under the stimulus package, single Americans will receive $1,200, while married couples will receive $2,400. In addition to that, parents will receive an extra $500 for each child under the age of 17. Payments will be made through direct deposit, but the deposit of funds will not begin at least until April 13th, with some speculating it might take much longer. Another very important detail to keep in mind however, is that only individuals who are INDEPENDENT will receive the $1,200 payment. If your parents could have claimed you as a dependent on last year’s tax filings, then unfortunately, there will be no payment for you. Many undergraduate students will fall into this category unfortunately.

Student Loan Payments

Another major aspect to the stimulus bill, directly impacting college students, is the suspension of payments and interest on federally-held student loans through September 30th. This will halt payments on all federally-held student loans, as well as halt all interest accruing on your federally-held student loans. This is an automatic suspension that went into effect March 13th, and requires no action from you. However, if you are still able financially, and want to continue making payments on your student loans, you may. Keep in mind that only federally-held student loans will be suspended. All Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) owned by commercial lenders, Perksins loans held by the institution you attended and private student loans will operate under their own rules, so call your loan provider and find out what steps they are taking during this time. You can learn more about these new rules at https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus.

Rent Payments & Evictions

If the Coronavirus has put a heavy financial burden on you, and you’re unsure how you will be able to pay your rent, let me put your mind at ease a bit. The stimulus bill includes a housing protection against eviction for renters. Specifically, this bill will not allow any extra penalties or fees to be charged to your account due to late or delayed payment. Now this does not mean you should immediately stop paying your rent. Instead, this portion of the bill was put into effect for those who are truly struggling to make their rent payment. If you are in a very difficult financial situation right now, as a result of the coronavirus, then delaying payments on rent may very well make a lot of since. Make sure to weigh your options if you are considering delaying payments, and make sure to stay in contact with your landlord, as communication is key during a time like this.

Moving Forward

While there may not be a ton of assistance within the bill when in come to college students, there are still lots of money saving tips to keep in mind during this time. First, make sure to check out K-State’s emergency financial aid resource at https://www.k-state.edu/sfa/aid/emergency-aid/. There they have lots of different emergency financial aid information that is extremely beneficial to those in a tough situation. Other things to consider during this time to save money is with your utility bills. With the increase in time spent at home for all of us, it is reasonable to assume that use of things like water and electricity have gone up. This can have a major impact on your utility bill and cause you unneeded stress. Simple changes such as taking shorter showers, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, and less frequent laundry use will help lower the overall cost of your bill.

One final piece to consider if trying to save money is food. While the grocery store can be scary during times like these, try to resist the urge to go to drive-thrus/curbside pickups. These over time will add up and put a much higher financial burden on you than they typically would. Instead, place an online order for your groceries through either Walmart, Dillions, or Hy-Vee, all of whom have stalls where a worker will come out and deliver the groceries to you. This is the best way to not only stay safe during this time, but also be financially responsible.

Finally, if you need assistance with any additional questions or concerns regarding your financial health during this time, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Powercat Financial. We are still taking virtual appointments, and would be happy to help students here at K-State. You can schedule a meeting with us from the request an appointment link on our website at www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial.  We are all in this together and we are here to support you. The K-State community is one of a kind, and we must lean on each other in this difficult time.

Stay Safe and Go Cats!

Matt Schlossman

Peer Financial Counselor 1


Ways to Save Money When Shopping Online

In times of uncertainty, particularly times like these, it’s important to save money whenever you can. Now, since we’ve been advised to stay home, online shopping is becoming one of the main ways for us to get what we want and need. Fortunately, sites and apps like Ibotta, Rakuten, and Honey make it easy to save.


Ibotta is a free phone app that allows you to earn cash back on your purchases at participating retailers. There are over 300 stores to shop from which include retail chains, restaurants, convenience stores, home improvement centers, pet stores, and pharmacies nationwide. The cash back is another way to make money while at home.

In order to start saving with Ibotta, you will need to create an account. Once you have created your account, pick the store you are going to shop at. From there, the app will display all available coupons or discounts. After the coupon or discount is selected and the items are purchased, you can redeem the offers by taking a photo of the receipt. The cash back will be added to your account balance. Once your account balance is $20.00 or more then you can choose to transfer the money into your PayPal account or transfer your balance onto a gift card to use at your favorite retailers.

Rakuten  https://www.rakuten.com/

Rakuten is a website that allows you to earn a percentage back from shopping at your favorite stores online and in-person. There are over 2,500 stores to shop from, which includes Walmart, Amazon, Ulta, Best Buy and many more. Right now, Rakuten is offering $10 dollars as a welcome bonus for first-time users. On top of that, Rakuten offers bonuses to users who participate in their referral program.

Once a Rakuten account is made, in-person shoppers can link their card to their Rakuten account to access their discount. Online shoppers will choose their desired website then be re-directed to your chosen store’s website. Within 24 of the purchase being made, Rakuten will update your account balance. Similar to Ibotta, the cash back will be added to your account balance and the funds can either be transferred to your PayPal account or you can request a check be mailed to you.

Honey  https://www.joinhoney.com/

Honey is a website that searches the internet for coupons so you don’t have to. All you have to do to get started is go to their website, download their browser extension to your computer, and then start shopping online. That’s it, it’s that easy because Honey automatically scours the internet for coupons to use at any online retailer and then applies them for you at checkout. Saving money through Honey is simple! Honey has over 10 million members and has helped its users save over a billion dollars in total.

Remember Powercat Financial continues to offer financial counseling sessions either online via Zoom or via telephone for current students. Appointments may be request from the link on our website at www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial.

Maria Daniele

Peer Financial Counselor I

Powercat Financial


Making A Dollar At Home

At a time where everyone is stuck in their home with limited mobility, it can be even more challenging to figure out how to make a few dollars. Well, just like you, there are millions of others looking for new things to do at home. Whether it is a puzzle, old video game or Polly pocket set, there is a market for everything. The best way to get rid of these items (and possibly make some money) will take some time, but it will be very worthwhile and give you something to pass the time. There is a process behind turning toys into cash, and it is one that I find very soothing and I hope you do as well.

Step 1:

First, it will be important to gather all unwanted items into a central location. Currently during the quarantine, many thrift stores have paused their donations. This means it’s the perfect time to turn your donations into a couple of dollars. So, after you have cleared out some closet space, it is time to see what you’ve got. I would recommend separating clothing from puzzles, and board games from old toys.

Step 2:

Download the eBay app and make an account. eBay is 100% free to use the platform, and it is available on nearly any device. What makes eBay so powerful at a time like this is that it creates one single shopping location for individuals around the world. I have shipped items to Italy and Brazil all within the past week. All I have to do is print off the label from home, tape it to the box and drop it off in the mail slot.

Step 3:

Grab a puzzle that you want to get rid of, and pull up the eBay app. After opening the app and going to the search tab, you will see a camera icon at the top right of the screen (next to the shopping cart). This nifty tool will allow you to scan the barcode of the item so you can see if others are selling it, what the price is and how many are currently available. If no results come up, I would recommend typing the item name manually to see results.

Step 4:

What you will now research is the price that the other items are selling at. This is one of the most crucial steps! You will be able to do this by two very simple steps. Once the exact item is found and you’re looking at other listings, click the filter tab. Within the filter tabs there are lots of options, but it is only important to click on the “Sold Items” tab and the “Completed Items” tab. What this shows is the exact price that others are purchasing the item for, so you know exactly what to price yours at.

*You could have a $200 rare puzzle and sell it for $12, so make sure you check*

Step 5:

When you have found the item online at a price it is sold at, you simply just need to press the button “Sell one like this”. This allows you to use all of the information the other seller used (assuming it is all correct), then provide your own photos for your listing. If all puzzles have sold for $20 and there are many on the market still, putting yours for $12 is not a bad idea at all. So, take some pictures with a nice background and make sure your item description is exactly what they will receive.

Step 6:

Be patient, and look at what other sellers are doing to get rid of stuff while at home. The presentation of your images is very important, and may be the deciding factor in someone choosing your listing over another one. The more time you spend listing, the more items that will sell. It may take a couple of days, and some items may never sell, but it is all part of the learning experience.

Step 7:

When an item sells, eBay has made it very easy to print off labels from home so you do not need to enter the USPS. If the item’s weight is under 16 oz, the maximum it will be to ship is $6 and any lower weight will be cheaper. Simply print the label, put the item in the box and tape the label to the outside and you’re set.

Safety precautions are also important to keep in mind. If someone inquires about one of your listed items, respond to the question just as you would in person. If they for some reason ask for personal information, never give them that information. As for shipping, eBay has made it entirely possible for you to drop off items without human encounter if you are worried. It is simple to print off a label, and drop it off at any USPS location. As for prohibited listing, be sure to stay away from listing any essential items (hand sanitizer, masks, etc) on eBay for the time being. This could result in an account ban, and nobody wants that.

Overall, this process is just like working from home. Anyone can create their own eBay page and get rid of unwanted items, all while making a few bucks doing it as long as you follow safety precautions. There is so much to learn within eBay, YouTube videos or online tutorials are sure to be a great help as well.

Chace Prothe

Peer Financial Counselor I


How COVID-19 May Affect Late Fees and Eviction

What You Need to Keep in Mind: How COVID-19 is Affecting Late Fees and Eviction

Many activities have been affected by COVID-19 but something that has not is the need to cover bills and Powercat Financial is here to help pass on some great information! Something we would like to highlight today is late rent and eviction. This is a topic to highlight as you may find yourself working less hours during this time and it is important to have a plan in place to remain current on your rent payments.

The following important information was provided by Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. (HCCI-ks.org):

  • Kansas courts may have paused civil court proceedings at this time due to COVID-19, however you can still be evicted later for not paying all rent money due.
  • Be sure to contact your landlord and explain that due to a sudden and unexpected loss in income as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency, you will not be able to pay the rent.
  • Going along the same lines remember that you and your landlord are in the same boat. Both parties should try to work together. Being a landlord is their job and how they derive income. Many landlords depend on rent payments to pay their mortgage and/or other bills.
  • You can ask for a rent payment plan which would outline a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly payment in order to get caught up.
    • The landlord does not have to accept a payment plan, but if accepted, get it in writing.
    • Only offer to make arrangements to pay what you can actually afford.
    • Both parties must agree on the amount paid, and should sign the pay agreement, each receiving a copy.
  • Always get a receipt for any rent paid.
  • Be aware that late fees can only be enforced if outlined in a rental agreement.
  • Ask your landlord if she/he can set aside any late rent fees due to this unusual pandemic.
    • If the landlord agrees, get the agreement in writing. A landlord does not have to comply, but many, if they can, want to help.
  • If you do receive any additional income, for example, a government stimulus check, or IRS tax refund, could be set aside in a savings account for rent or should be sent directly to the landlord once received to cover rent payments.
    • It could also be used for necessities such as shelter or prescription medication.
  • Your city may have a list of resources for rent and other assistance. HCCI has resource lists for Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan and Emporia, if needed.

An important item to note when looking at all of these tips is that the information is generalized. There are significant specifics regarding late rent and the eviction process, and each situation can be unique. You can always reach out to HCCI for free telephone counseling regarding your specific late rent, eviction or other rental related issues at 785-234-0217. Your name and number will be placed on a call log and you’ll be called back in the order of your call. Also, Powercat Financial continues to meet with students virtually through Zoom or telephone sessions so you can still meet with use to discuss your other financial questions by requesting an appointment at www.ksu.edu/powercatfinancial. You can also reach out to K-State’s student legal services for advice at https://www.k-state.edu/legal/.

REFERENCES: HCCI-ks.org and see State of Kansas Executive Order No. 20-10 issued by the Governor https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/EO-20-10-Executed.pdf

Rebecca Kuderka – Graduate Assistant

PowercatFinancial                                                                                        www.ksu.edu/powercatfinancial

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