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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

10 Tips for Job Seekers

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“January and February are always big months for hiring, regardless of what’s happening with the economy. Companies have new budgets, new positions, and a need for workers”. – SaltMoney.org. With this in mind, you may find yourself gearing up for your last semester and preparing for spring graduation.  How do you stand out from other applicants? What is proper interviewing etiquette?  Below are 10 quick tips for you to keep in mind during interviewing season:

  1. Clean up your social media – Performing a social media cleanup is an important step in the job search process. Employers can, and will, check social media outlets prior to interviewing candidates. Remember, what you post online is a part of your personal brand and proper online etiquette is a must.  Review your personal accounts before you begin sending out resumes and filling out job applications. Taking down those Aggieville and spring break pictures may not be such a bad idea…
  1. Build your network – Your network is already bigger than you think! Reach out to professors, family members, or those you have met within your industry. Do not hesitate to ask for a hand; at some point, we have all had to ask for assistance. In fact, most people are happy to help.
  1. Start applying now – Many students make the mistake of starting the job search process too late. It is important to allow yourself time to send out resumes, attend initial and follow-up interviews, and potentially finalize salary offers and prepare for relocation.
  1. Target your resume and cover letter – Do not make the mistake of generalizing your cover letter and resume. Customization is key in standing out from other applicants.  Prepare these documents to reflect the skills and knowledge required for each and every position you apply to.
  1. Be confident – Be confident in your skills, experience, and education. Be ready to answer questions honestly about your strengths and weaknesses, and be able to cite examples of when your skills were put to the test. Remember, millennials (anyone born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s) have been dubbed an entitled generation, so be sure to remain self-aware.
  1. Know the company – Job seekers often only glance at the company website before their interview. Take time to review the company website in depth.  Know what the company stands for, who they are, and have a firm understanding of what the company does.
  1. Show appreciation to the interviewer –Young applicants also often fail to conclude an interview with an expression of gratitude for the interviewer’s time. Always thank the interviewer in person, make it clear you would consider it a privilege to work at the company, and ask about the next step in the process. Then, follow up with a handwritten thank-you note or email that references specifics discussed in the interview. – According to Forbes.
  1. Don’t give up – The job search process can be timely and frustrating. Continue searching and applying until you find the job that is right for you!
  1. Take advantage of campus opportunities – Kansas State University campus hosts a variety of job fairs, interview and resume workshops, and many other opportunities to sharpen your skills, and facilitate job searches. Be mindful of these great opportunities and check out upcoming ones through Career & Employment Services.
  1. Visit Powercat Financial Counseling – PFC offers peer-to-peer financial counseling for students transitioning from school to work. A trained counselor can review your job offer packet and answer questions regarding your finances and benefits offered as you prepare to enter in to the workforce.

Good luck as you begin the journey towards your future and congratulations for getting this far!

Emily Koochel
Graduate Assistant
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.ksu.edu./pfc

Healthy Finances for Healthy Eating

Money is already tight as a student, which makes eating healthy a difficult thing to do.  So many other things compete for our money that living on Ramen can seem like the smart thing to do.  However, it’s important to consider your health and your body when deciding what choices to make in diet.  There are many ways to save money and not compromise health as a result:

Meal Planning

Meal planning is one of the most effective ways to save money at the grocery store.  The phrase “don’t shop when you’re hungry” is highly used because it’s highly relevant.  Even when you’re not hungry, shopping without a plan can result in a cart full of items that may go bad before their used or may remain in your pantry for months along with other items that you may end up throwing away when you move out.

Instead, have a plan on what you want to eat throughout the week.  Make a list of what you need for each meal that week, excluding what you already have at home.  Find a way that is most convenient to make such a list, adding in regular or irregular grocery items such as milk, snacks, cereal, etc…

Meal planning can lighten the stress on your bank account as well as on the grocery store trip itself because you’ll be more prepared to avoid items you don’t need and know where to go to find the items you do need.

Buy In Bulk

Another great way to save money is to buy items in bulk.  Sometimes, it can cost less per unit price to buy a lot at once, especially when it comes to items such as meat or cheese.  Make sure to avoid the trap of buying in bulk when it isn’t necessary, however.  Many items may look like a deal to buy the larger containers, but that’s not necessarily true.  Check the unit price numbers to compare different sizes and prices to ensure you’re getting the best value.  Also be careful not to become wasteful when buying in bulk.  If it can’t be reasonably used or frozen before it spoils, it’s a waste of money to buy in bulk.

Freezer Meals

Now that you have bulk items, what do you do with them?  One useful and time-saving tip is to create freezer meals.  This entails putting all the ingredients for a meal in one or multiple resealable freezer bag (i.e. Ziplock), writing instructions on how to cook the meal (i.e. thaw, oven temperature, time to cook, etc…) and sticking it in the freezer to be pulled out the day of or night before to cook.  If you’re cooking for 1 or 2, it may be helpful to divide up the recipes accordingly or plan on eating the leftovers.  You can search for many recipes of this variety online.

Crock Pot Meals

Crock Pots are the perfect tool for students leading busy schedules.  Crock pots allow you to throw everything into the pot and let it sit for hours while you’re in class, at work, in a meeting, or even while you sleep at night.  When you’re done for the day, the meal is ready for you to eat.  Another perk of Crock Pot meals is that you can make multiple meals for the week at once, saving you time and money.  If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like eating the same meal twice, feel free to get creative and spice things up to the leftovers to make it unique.  Having a meal already prepared will help you resist the urge to eat out for convenience sake after a long, tiring day.

Make Your Own Servings

Generally speaking, single-serve items such as snacks, freezer meals, and individually packaged items are significantly more expensive than if you were to individually portion them yourself.  Taking the time to sort out your snacks into reusable or even ziplock bags can save you lots of money at the store while still providing you with the convenience of grabbing and going in the morning.  Not only will it help with cost and convenience, prepackaging your own portions can help you also with limiting your snacking to the appropriate and healthy serving size.

Buy in Season

One of the biggest expenses at the grocery store can come from the produce section.  It can be difficult to eat produce before it goes bad, especially when you’re only buying for yourself or for two.  On top of this, many produce items vary in their expenses month to month.  It’s important to know which produce items are in season when you’re shopping because that’s when you’ll get the best deal on them.  The following chart can help you decide which items to plan for your meals depending on what season it is.  Try to avoid getting off-season produce because it can be a burden on the bank.  Instead, experiment with new fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Brands

A simple way to save money without changing much of your habits or taking extra time in the week can be by switching to generic label items.  Brand names are more advertised and well-known, but aren’t necessarily much different than the same items made by the grocery store company itself.  Switching to Safeway, Kroger, Great Value, or Hyvee brand items will add up over time and over products without you having to change your lifestyle or even take the time it may take when planning meals, doing freezer or crock pot meals, creating your own servings, or buying in season.

Coupons

And lastly, using coupons can be very helpful, if used properly.  At times, using coupons can actually hurt your finances more than help when you find yourself buying items you didn’t need or won’t use in time.  However, if coupons are available for items that you were going to buy regardless or even if you specifically  meal plan around coupons, it can be a very financially smart thing to do.  Many grocery stores have apps with coupons on them.  You can also find coupons on the back of receipts and from simple searches online.

There are hundreds of other ways you can save money at the grocery store while avoiding compromising your health.  You can learn even more by attending the workshop Eating Healthy on a Budget on Monday, October 26th at 6:00 PM in the Union Flint Hills room.  Resources, recipes, and tips will be provided as well as free food to the first 30 attendees.

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

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