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Love Your Money

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People are willing to do a lot for someone they love such as try new things, change their style, and even relocate.  However, what are they willing to do for their money?  Sometimes it can be misplaced, torn up, abandoned, left unprotected, and even thrown away on insignificant things.  What if you treated your money as special as you would treat someone you love?  Things you may do are…

Make Time For It

When you love someone, you may hang out more and more and structure your day around him or her.  How much time do you take for your finances though?  Try carving out some time in your day or week to:

Just like relationships, your money can flourish if you put in the time to get to know it and make a point to include it in your everyday living.

Show It What It’s Worth

You may buy flowers or gifts, go out to a nice dinner, and even spoil each other to outwardly show your love and communicate your significant others’ worth to you.  However, the cumulative cost of junk food, drinks at the bar, bank fees, and other spending that will seem insignificant further down the road when you’re going to purchase a new car, have a child, or retire.  Instead, show money its worth through:

  • Smart shopping (i.e. sales, coupons, and discounts)
  • Memorable spending (i.e. experiences in place of material goods)2
  • Mindful prioritization (i.e. saving for a coffee maker later instead of a cup of coffee now)

Prioritize It

As relationships progress, your significant other becomes a bigger and more important part of your life.  This may lead to changes in how you structure your day, the traditions you create, and the sacrifices you make for the betterment of the relationship.  Likewise, your financial priorities change throughout life and become more and more necessary in order for you to accomplish your financial goals.  Some current wants may need to be cut back in to make room for saving up for more special wants (i.e. vacation) and future needs (i.e. house payment).  Steps to prioritizing your spending to enhance your financial relationship:

  1. Brainstorm financial goals
  2. Make your goals SMART3
    1. Specific (what why and how)
    2. Measurable (set dollar amounts)
    3. Attainable (realistic)
    4. Relevant (fits with bigger picture and your other goals)
    5. Timely (set dates)
  3. Calculate how to achieve your goals
  4. Tweak current budget and spending accordingly
  5. Find an accountability partner

Protect It

We want to do everything to protect the one we love both physically as well as emotionally from any pain.  Sometimes, life happens and we do the best we can to build back up and heal.  There are many ways to protect your money such as having an emergency savings to cover unexpected expenses and prevent debt or outrageous interest costs as well as consistently monitoring for identity theft and bank fraud.  Emergency savings should have 3-6 months’ worth of money in a relatively easily-accessible account to cover such things as medical bills, car repairs, or a loss of job.  You can monitor your credit through pulling a credit report at least every 4 months (https://www.annualcreditreport.com) and can protect from bank fraud by review your bank statements and utilizing credit card EMV technology when you can4.

Be Patient With It

Rushing into things can sometimes end up bad and sometimes the best things in life take time and hard work.  Your money probably won’t grow overnight (barring lottery winnings and surprise inheritance), so you’ll need to be patient with it and continue to nurture it.  Interest rates are most beneficial over time and frequent changes in investments may not pay off.  The market changes every minute, but despite dips and turns, a lot of investments pay off if you are patient and wait out the lows.

Commit

So you’ve spent some time together, you’ve gotten to know him or her more, and you’ve decided that he or she is worth prioritizing.  The next natural step is to decide whether you want to stay together in the future and beyond.  Rather than staying focused on the present, you may make a commitment for the long-haul.  Similarly, this may be something beneficial to do with your finances.  Picture your life with it in the future and what you want that to look like.  You’ve mastered saving for emergencies and upcoming trips, now what about for retirement or future children’s educational expenses?  These decisions come with more of a commitment due to the limitations on their spending, but can be truly beneficial in the future should you follow through on the commitment.  Time is your greatest ally in the realm of saving and investing.

Resources

  1. http://www.k-state.edu/pfc/planning/Financial%20Goals%20Worksheet%20-%20Specific.pdf
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2013/08/05/want-to-buy-happiness-purchase-an-experience/#34522db1704d
  3. http://freefrombroke.com/guide-setting-smart-goals-finances/
  4. http://blogs.k-state.edu/pfc/2015/10/05/credit-cards-are-changing-are-you-ready/

Christyne Stephenson
Peer Counselor III
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

Amazon Prime: Is it worth it?

“Hey, give me your money,” said Netflix, iTunes, and online shopping shipping costs. As college students, there is a good chance that these expenses are present in our lives. However, Amazon Prime has made it possible—and affordable—to provide students with instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, access to over a million songs, and free two day shipping.

If you’re like any other student, you seek out every entity possible providing students with a discount. Amazon Prime offers a 50 percent discount to college students. This makes Amazon Student Prime a one-time payment of $49 for a year-long membership. If you do the math, that totals out to a little over $4 a month, which is half the cost a month of Netflix.

Textbooks: an unavoidable cost for college students. Amazon advertises students can save up to 90 percent on textbooks. Begin by typing the ISBN number of your book into the search on Amazon.com. You may find the book is offered for a much lower price, to either rent or buy, on Amazon compared to other bookstores. You can use the money you’d be saving in your budget for books to purchase Amazon Student Prime, and receive your books in two days!

Other services built-in with Amazon Student Prime include free release-date delivery on video games, unlimited photo storage, exclusive early access to Lightening Deals, and free books each month through Kindle First. If any of these forms of entertainment are important to you, this could be a good investment. Another unique feature is the opportunity to share your account. This allows you to share the Amazon Student Prime services with family members in the Amazon Household, which qualifies one other adult and four children. Once you invite them to join your account in your settings you can successfully share your prime membership, regardless if they are a student or not.

To help you decide if Amazon Student Prime is right for you, there is a free six month trial. Unfortunately, during the free trial you will not be allowed to utilize the free movie and TV show streaming. After the free trial is over, if you wish to not purchase Amazon Student Prime, make sure you discontinue your account. If you do not discontinue your account, you will be automatically charged $49 for a year-long membership.

In conclusion, you have nothing to lose—including money—to at least try Amazon Student Prime. During the free trial, you may find yourself saving money, or it is possible you will find yourself barely using the different services. Whichever decision you come to, make sure it is the right one for you financially. For other financially savvy decisions visit Powercat Financial Counseling for a free and confidential peer-to-peer consultation.

Allison Becker
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

Lose Excess Spending:  Financial Fasts and Financial Diets

Ever get to the end of the month and wonder where your money went?  Being in college offers not only the opportunity to become financially independent, but it also brings opportunities to squander your money away.  In our society, many social events are centered around eating and this holds true on campus as well.  However, spending money on eating out can be just as unhealthy as the food you get when eating out.  Two ways to begin exhibiting better money habits are by going on a financial fast or starting a financial diet.  Both require you to differentiate between needs and wants and can help you begin to understand what to spend money on and when it may be better off saving.

Financial Fast

A financial fast is a shorter but more intense way to kick-start better money habits.  The financial fast lasts 21 days and limits your spending to only the bare essentials to living.  Items considered essentials include bills (i.e. rent, utilities, etc…), gas to get to and from school or work, groceries meant to sustain your body (i.e. not chips or soda), and medications.  This list will be different for everyone and requires you be realistic about what is a need.  The financial fast also entails spending only in cash and recording every transaction as it’s made, justifying the need.  You can use a checkbook or debit card register, a notebook, an excel sheet, or apps such as www.Mint.com to record your transactions.  Recording your transactions helps keep you accountable to the fast as well as gets you to think about your needs and wants.  A financial fast can be beneficial to do before beginning a financial diet because it immerses you more into learning what areas are and aren’t flexible.

Financial Diet

A financial diet, on the other hand, is more prolonged and allows you to be creative with your spending.  First, know what is a need and what is a want.  From there, brainstorm ways to reduce or eliminate your spending in certain categories.  Don’t be afraid to get creative.  Use what you already have and look for DIY projects.  Similar to the financial fast, spending in cash and recording your transactions can provide you even more awareness and accountability of your spending.  Below is a non-exhaustive list of examples in which you can cut spending sorted by category.

Food

  • Limit the number of times you eat out (i.e. once a week)
  • Prepare meals at home
  • Bring your lunch (and any snacks you’ll need throughout the day)
  • Split entrées when you go out to eat (make sure to know what extra charge may be assessed for doing so)
  • Ask if the restaurant does half-orders
  • Sign up for coupons at places you frequently eat

Entertainment

  • Check out books or movies from the school or public library
  • Drink with friends at home rather than spending money in Aggieville
  • Utilize services such as RedBox or Netflix instead of going to the movies
  • Invite friends to go to the park or have a game night at home

Transportation

  • Walk or ride your bike
  • Carpool
  • Stay on campus between classes instead of driving back home and back to campus again
  • Use the ATA Bus

If you don’t succeed at first, that’s okay.  It’s not easy to change your lifestyle right away and like other diets, it takes time as well as requires you to tweak it until it fits for you.  Consider finding a friend to participate with you and hold each other accountable.  Once you find success, think about what to do with your extra money.  You can use it to pay down debt, save up for emergencies or upcoming trips, or even think about investing it.  The first step though is to be healthier and lose the excess spending.  Check out our Twitter in the coming month to read more tips on saving money.

Sources:

Christyne Stephenson
Peer Counselor III
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

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