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Peer Pressure and MONEY

We have all been put into a situation financially where we did not have the money to spend but spent anyways! Being a college student does not help with this situation either. We live in a world where most feel the need to keep up with their peers and by doing that we sometimes end up spending money that we do not have. Unfortunately, there is not a magic formula to being able to say, “no” when the time comes to financial obligations.

We sometimes go out of our way to avoid tricky situations, especially when it involves money. However, there are some steps that you can take to assist in being able to stick to your budget and not spending money that you do not have. Having honest communication about your finances with your friends and loved ones, budgeting for events, limiting yourself, and not keeping score.

Communicating your goals to your friends and family.

You should be honest with your friends and family when it comes to your goals financially. If they understand what you are trying to accomplish they will have a better understanding of why you turn outings down and why saving or getting out of debt is so important to you.

Budgeting for events.

Almost every goal that you set for yourself in life may have money involved. It is important to set your goals early and decide how you are going to achieve those goals. Budgeting does not have to be only for big lifelong goals, it can be for mini trips or having a fun night out with your friends.

Limit yourself to the amount of activities you do.

In today’s society we often feel pressured to be involved and to not say, “no.” Saying no to going out to dinner, drinks or buying new items all the time can be difficult but it is important to learn how to limit yourself.

Keeping score.

Keeping score with your loved ones, friends and family can be dangerous. When it comes to money you should never compare yourself to what others have or make. Each individual is going to be in a different place at a different time. It is important to not try to keep up with the Joneses.

I leave you with this remember that peer pressure can be difficult but if you make your goals and priorities your number one focus it will affect you less. Last but not least if you ask to not be peer pressured financially or you ask for their help with sticking to your budget from your friends remember, to do the same for them.

By: Camila Haselwood

References:

Friends with Money: How to Handle Peer Pressure

Is It Time to Buy a Home?

Is it time for me to buy a home? This is often a question many students about to graduate ask themselves. But, even if you’re not getting a diploma in May, there are still many factors to consider while preparing to buy or rent a home.

  • Interest Rates Are Low. In the past interest rates for mortgages have been close to 17%. But currently they are staying around 4-6%, which is an advantage for buyers.
  • Your credit can affect both your ability to get a mortgage and get approved for a lease. Just know that you can help yourself by building credit early on. A person with a higher credit score is more likely to receive a lower rate for their mortgage. For example:

Sales Price:                         $80,000
Down Payment (5%)      $4,000
Loan Amount:                   $76,000
4% Interest Rate              Monthly Payments = $362.84
6% Interest Rate              Monthly Payments = $455.66
That is a difference of $33.415.20 for a 30 year mortgage!

  • First Time Homebuyer’s Programs. There are various programs specifically designed for people who have never owned a home. Some of the benefits of these programs include: income-based grants (for qualified candidates), lower down payments, and help with loan approval. For more information on different programs visit http://www.kshousingcorp.org/homebuyer-assistance.aspx or schedule an appointment with Powercat Financial Counseling! (k-state.edu/pfc) Most of the time candidates are only eligible around college age, due to income restrictions.
  • Tax Deductions. If you itemize your taxes, mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible. So you’ll only get this benefit if you own a home.
  • When renting a home, you are often asked to sign a one year lease. Compared to buying, where you’ll typically have to be in the home for around 5 years to make your money back. In addition, you could be required to stay in a purchased home for up to 10 years if you opt for a specific first time homebuyer program!
  • If something in a rental home needs repaired, often times it is the landlord’s responsibility. They hold most of the liability. If you were to own a home and, for example, the furnace went out, that would be your responsibility to fix! This can lead to many unhidden costs- that you will not have to pay for if you rent. However, it is important to read the fine print of rental contracts to make sure your landlord does hold the liability. In addition, it could be to your advantage to get Renter’s Insurance to cover some issues your landlord won’t.
  • The housing market is ever changing. When you are paying rent you roughly know what your check to your landlord will be every month. Housing costs can quickly raise or fall. That is not to say your rent price will stay set in stone forever. But many times your monthly rent payment is locked in for a year when you sign a contract. Again, read the fine print to make sure this is the case.

Finally, there are many things to keep into consideration when deciding whether or not to buy a home. If you are uncertain of what to do, please schedule an appointment with Powercat Financial Counseling. We are always here to help. Listed are just a few of the “home buying” topics we can assist with:

  • Building credit – which you need to get approved for a loan. Better credit will help get you a lower interest rate and save money in the long run.
  • Budgeting – if you are renting or buying, you’ll need to set a budget that includes both your monthly house payment and other expenses. Some other expenses that it is important to keep in mind are: utilities, other debt payments (car, student loans, etc.), and necessities (food & clothing).
  • Personalization – come in to PFC to get more personalized home buying/renting help (or another financial topic!)

Visit www.ksu.edu/pfc to schedule your appointment today! It is never too early to start preparing for your first home purchase!

Resources:

Larry Curran, The Mortgage Company, http://www.tmckansas.com/home.html
Morgan Powell, SalinaHomes.com, http://www.salinahomes.com/

Hillary Williams

Peer Counselor I

Taking Control of Your Financial Future

What do we all have in common regardless of our age or major?  At some point, we will need to manage our own finances (or we already are).  This can be scary for some, and confusing for others.  Knowing where and how to start is critical.  Regardless of where you are in life, these are simple steps to help you take control of your financial future.

Begin with a budget

If you already have a budget – great!  Make sure you are reviewing it regularly and adjusting for life’s changes.  If you don’t have one, now is the time to start.  Even if you do not have a regular income you can budget the allowance you get from your parents, or student loan and scholarship money you receive each semester.  This is especially important if you are receiving lump sum payments, and you need these funds to last the entire semester.  You can use the spending plan worksheet at k-state.edu/pfc/budgeting/ to help you get started, or make an appointment with Powercat Financial.  Other budgeting tools can include using an online App such as mint.com.

Check your credit report

Checking your credit report is important.  A credit report is a summary of your financial reliability – your history of paying debts and other bills.  The three credit bureaus are Transunion, Equifax and Experian.  You can obtain a free credit report once a year from each of the three bureaus at annualcreditreport.com.  We recommend requesting one every four months (for example – Transunion in January, Equifax in May, Experian in September) to identify fraudulent activity or errors, and track your credit history.  Also note, the report does not include your credit score (the numerical value calculated from information in your credit file that is used by lenders and landlords to assess your “credit risk” at that time), but you can get your free credit score at creditkarma.com.

Set up an emergency fund

Pay yourself first!  This sounds simple, but the easiest way to contribute to a savings account regularly is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings account.  Having an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses can keep you from using credit (and paying the interest) or stressing about money in an emergency.  Just make sure to only use it in an emergency and to replenish your savings afterwards.

Get out of debt

Whether you have credit cards, a car payment, or student loans, it pays to get out of debt.  Paying only the minimum on your credit payments ensures you will pay the maximum amount of interest.  Even paying a little extra on your payments can help you save a lot of money in interest – and this just means more money in your pocket in the long run!

Take a class

April is financial literacy month.  We encourage you to explore your finances through expanding your education.  SALT is a free resource available to current K-State students and alum.  You can find SALT courses that explore a variety of financial topics, and they do not require a huge time commitment – usually, they can be completed in about 30 minutes.  Additionally, SALT has articles, infographics, and other resources to help you become financially savvy, so sign up today at saltmoney.org.  For every SALT course you complete during the month of April, you are entered to win a $250 scholarship from Powercat Financial Counseling.  If you want to explore your personal finances in more depth, K-State also offers an introduction to personal financial planning class.  Finally, if you ever have questions, or need some help with your financial situation, we would love to meet with you individually.  Just make an appointment at k-state.edu/pfc/.  Good luck and remember, now is the time to take control of your financial future!

Shari Humbard

Peer Financial Counselor I

Fun in the $un!

As the weather has been warming up, many students are trying to find ways to spend time outdoors! Although sometimes that can come with an expense, it doesn’t have to! Here are a few ways to enjoy the nice weather without emptying your piggy bank.

  1. Hike the Konza

Take some time to visit the Konza Prairie and hike the trails! The six miles of trails are open from dawn to dusk. The Konza provides some of the most spectacular views of the Flint Hills and Kansas River Valley. There are four trail options in which you can hike; Nature Trail Loop, Kings Creek Loop, Godwin Hill Loop, and the Hokanson Homestead. The Nature Trail Loop is 2 ½ miles and hikers should plan for about 2 – 2 ½ hours to complete the trail. The Kings Creek Loop is 4.4 miles long and takes about 3 ½ hours to enjoy. The Godwin is slightly longer at 6.0 miles, taking an additional hour to complete. And lastly the Hokanson Homestead, which is located just off of the Nature Trail! Allow for an additional hour of investigation at this site. A contribution of $2 is appreciated! More information about the Konza can be found at http://keep.konza.ksu.edu/visit/hike.ht. For other various trails around Manhattan, visit http://www.manhattancvb.org/index.aspx?nid=60.

  1. Visit the Sunset Zoo

The sunset zoo was named the best zoo in Kansas by Yahoo travel and is home to over 200 animals! Student admission is just $5! The zoo is open daily from noon – 5:00 p.m. In April the zoo will open at 9:30 a.m. The zoo is located at 2333 Oak Street Manhattan, KS 66502. For more information regarding the Sunset Zoo visit their website, http://www.sunsetzoo.com.

  1. Utilize the Outdoor Recreation area at the Rec!

Enjoy the warm weather and get a workout by utilizing the outdoor sand volleyball pit, tennis court, basketball court, football, softball, or soccer fields at the rec! Be sure to check the schedule located at http://recservices.k-state.edu/outdoorfacilities/ to make sure the tennis courts are not reserved for the K-State Tennis team! The outdoor recreation area will be open on days where the temperature is above 60 degrees from 1 p.m.-dark.

  1. Rent a Kayak/Canoe and explore the Kansas River.

For $12.50 you can rent a kayak or canoe for a day from the K-State rec and explore the Kansas River! Or if you are interested in renting for a weekend trip, it is just $20! If you are planning a big trip and would like to reserve a rental there is a reservation fee of $5. There are many great places to explore around Manhattan, especially the Kansas River.

  1. Play Footgolf!

Have you heard of foot golf?! If not, the goal is to use a soccer ball and try to kick it into 21” holes with the least amount of kicks! Watch out for the rolling fairways and roughs, sand traps, trees, native tall grass, and other hazards! The cost is just $12.25 with a $3.00 ball rental at Wildcat Creek Fun and Fitness. Feel free to take your own soccer ball if you have one though! This is a great way to spend an hour and half or more outside enjoying the weather! http://www.wildcatcreekfun.com/outdoor-recreation/footgolf.

  1. Hang out at Pillsbury Crossing

Pillsbury Crossing is a great place to spend time enjoying the weather. Enjoy the picnic spot, wading in the rock-bottomed creek, fishing, kayaking or canoeing, and view the wildlife! Pillsbury Crossing is located on the south edge of Manhattan. For exact directions on how to find this unique hideaway, visit http://kansastravel.org/pillsburycrossing.htm.

  1. Zip Line the Flint Hills

There’s a new adventure in Manhattan! Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park, http://www.wildwoodoutdooradventurepark.com/about.html, offers a zip lining across the Flint Hills! This experience can be a little costly, but some budgeting tips from PFC can help! Prices start at $25. Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park is open Friday through Sunday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Monday through Thursday by special arrangements.

For more help on budgeting or establishing a savings plan, Powercat Financial Counseling is here to help! Visit our website, www.k-state.edu/pfc to make an appointment regarding your financial questions!

Kristen Payne, Peer Counselor I

 

How to ‘Treat Yourself’ on a Budget

College is stressful, and managing money can be hard. Trying to manage your money during stressful times can be especially difficult. You may find that when life gets tough you just want to ‘treat yourself’, but you don’t want to fork over your hard earned money just for a little enjoyment.

Here are 4 tips to treating yourself without breaking the bank.

  • Set aside a certain amount that you can spend each month on yourself.
    • Each person has a different budget, and that budget will determine how much you can actually afford to spend on yourself. This could also limit how many times you can afford to engage in some extra spending. For some, spending $15 every week on themselves fits into their budget. Another person may only be able to devote $10 each month to pampering themselves. Whatever your budget is, stick to it. It is easy to spend too much if you do not have a plan before spending.
  • Plan ahead.
    • There are times when we all are just looking forward to the end of the week. Maybe you have three tests and two papers to write. Maybe you have to work extra hours, even though your campus organization is holding their biggest event of the year. No matter what your circumstances, there are times when you know you will just want to celebrate the week being over. If you see you have a crazy week ahead, look around for different deals or discounts that you could use once your hectic week has finished.
  • Don’t forget it is okay to spend money on yourself.
    • Sometimes it’s hard to convince yourself that you should be spending money on yourself when you have other financial obligations. Treating yourself is not supposed to be overwhelming, or make you feel bad. It is alright to spend money on yourself every now and then.

“When you treat yourself right, you run better and more efficiently. Which means you don’t have to go 100 miles an hour to get everything done.” – Ann Curry

  • Treating yourself doesn’t always have to be a big thing.
    • When you hear “treat yourself” your mind probably first went to spending money. However there is a lot more to indulging on yourself than just buying something. It is important to take some time to focus on your self-care in other ways as well. You can treat yourself without spending a single penny. Some ways to do this include: watching your favorite series on Netflix, getting outside and engaging in a physical activity you enjoy but haven’t gotten to do much of recently due to your busy schedule, or calling a friend or relative you have been wanting to catch up with.

Remember – treating yourself is important, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. For help establishing a budget or savings plan, or if you have any other financial questions, visit our website, www.k-state.edu/pfc to make an appointment with Powercat Financial Counseling. Our services are completely free and confidential to all Kansas State University students. One of our counselors would be happy to sit down with you and discuss different ways to make wise financial decisions.

Lindsay Adams, Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

Money Saving Tips for Spring Break

The semester is flying by and spring break is just around the corner! Spring break is meant to be a fun and relaxing time to get your mind off of school and rejuvenate yourself. However, traveling can become quite expensive and many students end up stressing out about their trip because of the overwhelming costs. Below are helpful tips and tricks to help save some extra cash so you can focus on having a well-deserved stress free week.

Meals can eat away at your budget very quickly, especially when restaurants at many spring break locations can be quite pricey, albeit delicious! Consider packing your own food and drinks when you are traveling. If you’re carpooling with friends, pack a cooler full of sandwiches, drinks, and snacks. This will be cheaper than stopping at restaurants along the way, even the seemingly inexpensive fast food places. It will also shorten the time of your trip by cutting out those timely meal stops and help you get to your destination faster! If you are flying somewhere you can also pack a meal and/or snacks. Food on airplanes and in the airports is very expensive, avoiding these options for meals will significantly decrease your meal costs. Another common way to bring down your food costs is finding a hotel furnished with a refrigerator and microwave, or better yet an in-room kitchen. Buying groceries and making a few meals in your hotel will be much cheaper than going out for every meal, or ordering room service.

It is important to not forget about taking care of your car if you happen to be the lucky one driving cross-country. Make sure your car is free of any maintenance issues before starting your journey, and check to assure you have recently had an oil change. A car breakdown on spring break is not only costly, it’s absolutely no fun and cuts into your vacation time. Also, remember to properly inflate your tires to the appropriate pressure, and use cruise control on the highway, to increase your gas mileage. GasBuddy is a free app that shows you all the gas prices in your area. You can use it to locate the lowest priced gas station when you need to fill up. If you submit the price you paid at the pump you can be entered to win a drawing for $100 every week too. That could be a great budget booster for your spring break!

Make sure you have a sufficient packing list before you depart. Bring essential items such as sunscreen, sunglasses, etc. as these items tend to be much more costly at tourist destinations. These attractions can also be popular areas for thieves to look for distracted individuals, or cars that aren’t secured. College students are also popular targets for scams, so if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Finally, make sure you attend Spring Break NOT Spring Broke on Thursday, March 3rd. Powercat Financial Counseling will be hosting this fun and beneficial event at the Rec from 4:00-6:00pm. There will be games and information to learn even more tips on saving money during spring break as well as a chance to win one of six Magic Bullet Blenders along with other prizes! Also if you would like to start a budget for spring break, or have any other financial related questions, make an appointment with Powercat Financial Counseling and one of our peer counselors would love to sit down and meet with you. Just go to www.k-state.edu/pfc and click on “request an appointment” link on the homepage. We hope to see you in, and have a fun and relaxing spring break!

Brady Heidrick, Peer Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

 

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