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The Holidays are Right Around the Corner

With the holiday’s right around the corner, it is a good idea to get a jump-start on your holiday budget. Powercat Financial Counseling is here to assist if you are a first time budgeter, or if you need assistance with your current one. You can make an appointment any time by following this link: http://www.k-state.edu/pfc/. Also be sure to keep up with our events and tips by following us on twitter @KStatePFC.

To kick off the holiday season PFC hosted an event recently – Thrifty Gifting, to find out information regarding the shopping guide, holiday budget worksheet and the slide presentation follow http://www.k-state.edu/pfc/budgeting/.

The holidays seem to creep up and before we know it we are trying to buy gifts all within one week (we have all been there); which is not a good idea if you are on a tight budget. With no plan, or budget, gift giving can quickly get out of control and cause a lot of stress. Some people slip up on their budget during the holiday seasons because they believe they deserve a free pass during the holidays. Don’t fall into this pattern and create bad habits. To stay within the holiday bliss we would like to share some tips for the holiday season.

First things, first, create a budget

First you will need to sit down and make a list of all the people you may want to buy a gift for. How much you will spend on each person. You can either budget out per person, or take a percentage of your income for your total gift-giving budget. The difficult part will be sticking to it! Remember if you stick to the budget you will be less stressed and not feel guilty for over spending, equaling a joyful Holiday time!

Crafty and meaningful gifts

Giving gifts does not have to be all about how much money you spend on them. You can bring joy to others by being crafty with your gifts, bake, and draw or make a craft for a gift. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that have a lot of meaning behind them. Suggestions might be framing a wonderful picture for the person that brings back memories of a day you shared.

Shop the sales

Shop the sales! This may not necessarily mean black Friday, shop online (try to find companies that offer free shipping and free returns). There are a lot of options for shopping online now, it may take more time than going to a store, but may save a lot more money in the long run.

Remember what the holidays are about

The holidays do not have to be all about gifts, the holidays are a time for building memories with your loved ones. If gift giving is not an option have a gathering, such as a potluck. With a potluck everyone can make a dish relieving pressure on one person, but allowing everyone to gather together.

Camila Haselwood
Peer Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

Brewing Up a Challenge

Powercat Financial Counseling is giving away two Keurigs! To put your name in the drawing for the raffle, all you need to do is complete a 10-question online scavenger hunt. The answers can be found on our website, www.k-state.edu/pfc. The form was an attachment on an email sent out to the student body by Jodi Kaus on October 22nd. The completed forms are due by 5:00 PM on November 11th. To submit the form, you can either email it to powercatfinancial@ksu.edu or physically drop if off in Union Room 809 in the Office of Student Activities and Services.

The winner will be announced at our Thrifty Gifting event held on November 14th at 4:30 in the Flint Hills Room of the Union. Come have fun and learn about ways to save money during the holiday season while also getting the chance to win other prizes.

Do you really want to win that Keurig? You can increase your chances by earning additional entries into the drawing. Scheduling a counseling session and signing up for one of the websites that are linked on the PFC website each gives you a better chance to win. More details of the bonus entries can be found on the scavenger hunt form.

Good luck!

David Biggs
Peer Financial Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.ksu.edu/pfc

How to Save Money Through the Holidays

It can be so easy to overspend your hard-earned money over the holiday season. Of course you want to buy gifts for your friends and family, go out and catch up with friends you haven’t seen in awhile, and there are just so many sales that you can’t help but buy for yourself! Here are a few easy tips to keep in mind as we jump into the busiest time of the year:

  1. Make a budget. Before doing any shopping, decide how much money you can spend on gifts and who you need to buy gifts for. Just sit down and write down each person you need a gift for, then how much you would like to spend on each person without going over your total spending budget. The key is to stick to this list once you’re out shopping.
  2. Pay for all of your gifts in cash. This tip is similar to the envelope method of budgeting, for which you put a lump sum of cash in an envelope that is to be used just for gifts. Then once you spend that money, it’s gone – no more gift buying. This technique will help you from thinking your bank account is limitless or maxing out your credit cards.
  3. Try a gift exchange. Maybe you have several co-workers, roommates, or a large family, and trying to think of a gift for each individual person is difficult in itself, and it can become expensive for all of them. With a gift exchange, each person buys one gift for one other person in the group. This way, you only have to find one gift and won’t have to spend as much total. Gift exchanges can also be made into games, so it’s fun, too!
  4. Take advantage of coupons and sales. If you find a lot of really great deals on some of those gifts, you may have more of that total spending budget to reallocate or buy a few more smaller gifts in the end. Be sure to stick to your list at first, and don’t buy too many items for yourself just because they are on sale.
  5. Get crafty. So you have a tight budget, and buying a gift for all of the important people in your life is going to be financially impossible. Homemade gifts are the next big thing! In fact, people often enjoy homemade gifts more than store-bought gifts because they know that you put time and effort into making them. Make a scarf or jewelry, bake treats, or repurpose items around your house. The raw material needed and a little bit of your time can make a huge difference in how much you spend overall. Check out pinterest.com to get tons of do-it-yourself gift ideas.
  6. Lend a helping hand. If you aren’t feeling creative, give your time. Offer to babysit for your co-worker for an hour or two free of charge, spend some extra time playing a game with your younger sibling, clean the house for your parents, or rake leaves for your neighbor. People are so appreciative for having a little extra help during such a busy time of the year.
  7. Stay in. It can be very tempting to want to spend more money on entertainment through the holiday season since you’ll be meeting up with old friends or spending time with your family. Instead of going to the movies or eating out, try cooking at home and playing board games or renting a movie. You can also make a family affair out of decorating the house or wrapping presents together.

To find some of these tips and more, visit: http://www.betterbudgeting.com/articles/holidays/saveatchristmas.htm and http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/ways-to-save-during-holidays-1.aspx

 

Kelsey Darnell
Peer Financial Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc
 

Avoid Santa’s Claws

Did you survive Open Early Thanksgiving?  How about Black Friday?  How much did you send to Amazon on Cyber Monday?  The family hasn’t even finished their turkey or watched the football marathon and yet Santa has his claws out…saying “buy….buy….buy!”  You might have survived the mobs – but how is your checking account, credit card, or spending plan doing?  Has Santa clawed his way through those yet?

The Thanksgiving break was a nice relief before term papers and finals week, but you might have already cratered your finances if you weren’t careful.  According to ABC News, most Americans have already spent about $450 this season, and will fork over $700 to Santa before we watch the Little Apple drop in Aggieville on New Years Eve.

If you don’t have a spending plan for the holiday season, you might ring in the New Year with a new friend:  the debt humbug.  To avoid the humbug, here are a few simple things you can do.  First, have a written spending plan.  Some people call them budgets, but a plan seems like a more friendly way to put it.  The best thing is to earmark a little money each month for the holiday season.  That’s the best way to handle an irregular expense, spread it out over the entire year.  And don’t just plan for gifts – those trips home for the holidays can get expensive depending on how far you have to go.

Another thing you can do is give gifts that don’t cost a lot of cash.  A gift of your time will be really appreciated, and will be remembered long after that trinket has been put in the closet or the basement (or the re-gifting pile!). Offer to clean out a closet, rake the yard, housesit the dog while your friends are away, or help someone take down the holiday decorations.  Or make a homemade gift.  Homemade gifts and gifts of service are unique, and are only limited by your imagination.

The last thing you can do is talk with your family about focusing more on fun time with family and less time on spending.  In my family we got to the point where we didn’t know what to get someone, so we spent time running around getting gift cards.  Then we’d get together and exchange gift cards with each other.  How lame is that?  We decided to just give one gift to each child, and the adults (college age or older) got a nice Christmas card and a homemade gift or gift of time.

If you need help with your holiday spending plan, or want some help dealing with the debt you already have, check out the Powercat Financial Counseling website at www.k-state.edu/pfc/  for some ideas with spending plans.  You can also sign up for a free counseling session on the website, or give us a call at 785-532-2889.  Trained peer counselors are ready to help deal with Santa’s claws and avoid the debt humbug.

 

Rob Jones
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc
 

Thrifty Gifting

The holidays can be a joyous time full of family, food, and gifts.  During this exciting time, it is important to keep a close eye on your spending.  On November 13th, Powercat Financial Counseling hosted the event Thrifty Giving to help K-State students manage their money during this potentially stressful season.  Listed below were some key tips mentioned at the event to help students stay within their means during the holidays.

Plan Ahead:

  • Set aside money each month that will go specifically towards those holiday gifts.  It can be very stressful to have a list full of gifts but not the money to buy them. Planning ahead and saving will allow you to relax because the money will already be saved up.
  • Staggering purchases throughout the year spreads out your spending and can make purchases more manageable.  Also, gifts may not always be the cheapest during the famous Black Friday Sales.  Monitoring prices of gifts you are interested in can help you get them cheaper than during the holiday season.

Get Organized:

  • Have an idea of who you will be buying gifts for and create a detailed shopping list according to the money you have saved.
  • Create a holiday budget and stick to it!!!

Be Creative:

  • To shorten your gift list suggest a gift exchange with your family or friends.
  • Big family dinners can be stressful, especially for the host.  Potlucks are a great way to spread the responsibility and costs around.
  • If your holiday plans involve traveling it is best to book as early as possible.  Airline tickets get more expensive as the holidays get closer.  Also, try to be flexible.  Instead of departing on a Friday consider Thursday.  Flights over the weekend tend to be more expensive.
  • The Holidays are a great time to use your Pinterest Boards!!!  Homemade gifts are so thoughtful!

Shopping Warning:

Consumers need to be careful with department store credit cards.  During the holiday shopping season stores often offer a percentage off your total purchase if you open a credit card account with them.  Shoppers may do this at every store they visit with the intentions of cancelling the credit cards once the transactions are complete.  This allows you to save money in the short-term; however, we discourage this tactic because doing this can actually decrease your credit score.

In addition to the helpful information discussed, participants also enjoyed an evening full of apple cider, delicious desserts, and prizes.  Students battled for country stampede tickets, holiday food baskets, and much more during games of holiday-themed family feud.   This fun event was just the thing to get students prepared for the exciting holidays ahead.  If you would like more information about how to cut spending and stress during the holiday season, you can make an appointment with Powercat Financial Counseling at www.k-state.edu/pfc.

Heather Gibson
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc
 

Tips for Spring Break Trip Planning

You have finally made it to Spring Break and a much-needed reprieve from the stresses of college life.  Spring Break should be a fun time for sure, but it is important to not go overboard on spending during this week.  There are many ways to go into Spring Break financially savvy and not come out broke.  Planning your trip and expenses is essential to having a good time and not worrying about the impact your vacation will have on your finances.  Here are just a few tips on how to prepare for Spring Break financially.

Start saving early.  If you know that you want to go on a trip of any kind for Spring Break, it is a good idea to start saving up early.  A good time to start thinking about saving is once you are getting back from winter break and planning for what the spring semester is going to look like.  Any amount that you can set aside from each paycheck can help you get started.  The earlier you start this the better.  Once you have a solid idea of your Spring Break plans, then you can save accordingly.  You will be more at ease knowing your trip is paid off rather than sitting on credit card debt.

Plan travel and lodging expenses early.  The sooner that you are able to book hotels and flights the cheaper they will be.  If you plan on going somewhere for Spring Break, be sure to look up good deals as early as possible and from multiple websites or companies.  Travel and lodging are the most expensive parts of Spring Break, so it is a good idea to find any way to lessen the financial impact.

Set a limit on your spending.  Once you have your expenses covered for traveling and lodging it is also important to set a limit for yourself on how much you are going to spend during the trip.  Things like gas, air fare, and lodging are set prices but meals, souvenirs, and entertainment can also be very expensive additional costs.  Limit yourself to a certain amount of money to spend during the trip.  A good way of doing this is to have a certain amount of cash of hand specifically for the additional trip expenses.

Make your meals ahead of time.  Depending on the trip you are taking, it can be very beneficial to make meals ahead of time and bring them with you.  If meals are not included with your activities, you can make simple snacks and lunch food to have during the day so that not every meal is spent eating out.  Eating out at every meal for a week can get very expensive.

Carpool and plan out stops. If you are going with friends and not flying, why not start the fun earlier by road tripping with them.  Carpooling can save money on gas and help defray the costs between those in the car.  Also a lot of popular Spring Break locations will charge for parking and having fewer cars will make parking costs less.

Spring Break should be a great time to get away and enjoy yourself with friends, but it should not bankrupt you.  Hopefully these tips will inspire you to think of new and creative ways to  be smart about your money during Spring Break!

Adam Clement
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

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