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Road trips ahead!

A great way to spend the weekend is traveling around the country to see new and exciting places. Whether it is following a sports team or visiting friends, the possibilities are endless when developing a road trip. Not to mention, you gain a greater appreciation for the destination after a road trip of sightseeing and adventure. Being in a centrally located area of the United States makes it easy to go to different places. Colorado, Missouri, and Texas are just some of the states that would make a good weekend trip! Although flying may be faster, it is much more expensive than driving. Here are some steps to ensure a successful road trip with your friends on a budget.

The Destination

This should be the number one question when traveling. Where do you want to go? Once you have selected your destination you can begin planning how long it will take to get there, and determine how long you would like stay. It’s important to note that in some places your will dollar will not go as far. For example, a trip to a larger city may be more expensive than a trip to the countryside. One way to save on expenses is to travel in a group, then you can split the cost of food, drink, transportation, hotel, etc. You can also save a considerable amount of money by making plans early.  Take advantage of deals and discounts that come along with booking your trip in advance.

The Travel

For some people traveling is the worst, but for me traveling is half of the excitement. The travel makes the place you are going a lot more special in my opinion. Depending on where you are going, it could take a couple of hours or a day to get to your destination. One side effect of being on the road for so long is unnecessary stops or expenses. You can avoid this by packing your own food and drinks so that you do not have to spend money at a gas station, or on fast food. When you are with other people be sure to split the cost of gas, it can be one of the greater expenses for the trip, but minimized if everyone contributes.

There are several expenses that come along with traveling. Hotel, food, and entertainment are three major expenditures on a road trip. You can reduce your spending if you ratio your spending and plan your trip ahead of time. You can start by putting a little money aside each week to start saving for an upcoming trip.  Come see Powercat Financial for all for all of your budgeting and financial questions. We would be happy to help you set up a savings plan to ensure your best road trip yet!

Joshua Zdeb

Peer Financial Counselor I

Ski the Slopes the $mart Way

Spring Break is just around the corner and that means it’s time to plan your ski trip! There are many venues and resorts you could choose to go to while on your trip and for a great price, if you book ahead. You must keep a few things in mind while you’re planning your budget friendly trip.

How many people are going?

You must know the amount people going, not only for traveling and carpooling purposes, but also for sleeping accommodations. Trivago website, a popular travel planning website, says that you should look ahead of time and book a hotel at least one month in advance in order to find the cheapest prices. So mark it on your calendar when you want to leave for your ski trip and book your hotel in one-month advance. This will ensure you save money, rather than just booking it the day of and paying an inflated price due to the popularity and demand for hotels because of skiers during spring break. http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4070411.html

How many days are you staying?

The amount of days you stay is not only important for booking the hotel and knowing how long to book it, but for also financial reasons as well. It is statistically proven that the more days you spend skiing, then the less you spend each day.  Refer to the photo below. You can notice that you spend less on the 5th day compared to the 4th day and so on and so forth. Keep in mind, the longer you stay the less expensive per day it is for you, BUT the total price will keep increasing. Ski resorts want you to stay longer and that’s why they decrease the price per day. But you should have a set amount of days you are planning on staying and stick to that instead of staying longer and longer because of the good price because this could affect your budget substantially. This should be taken into consideration when planning your ski trip budget.

Do you have Ski Equipment?

Another thing you should take into consideration is the ski equipment you need in order to ski. Do you have ski pants or skis or ski poles? You need to know ahead of time where you plan on getting your equipment if you don’t have any. You should compare prices and not settle for the first one you come across. Maybe ask family members or friends if you could borrow ski equipment from them so you can keep the cost of the trip low.

What’s your Budget?

Last but not least, you should know your budget and how much you want to spend on your trip. You will have to know the cost and fees to go skiing and also the other expenses that will occur, such as food and gas expenses. There are several tools you can use in helping you budget for your trip. One tool is an app you can download on your phone called Mint. This app allows you to connect your bank and credit card and thus tracks the spending. You can say you only want to spend X amount on this category and mint will help you keep track of how much you are spending and let you know how much you have left. It can be a very helpful. Another helpful source would be the budget spreadsheet on the Powercat Financial Counseling website www.ksu.edu/powercatfinancial. If you click on the Budgeting tab on the website, then you will be directed to lots of great information and excel spreadsheets that you can utilize in your budgeting process of your trip planning.

And finally, don’t forget to have fun. You can make a lot of memories and have a ton of fun on college ski trips without breaking your bank. You just have to remember to create a budget before you go and map out all of your expenses. Keep track of your money when you spend it and mentally think, Is this part of my budget? This will help you have fun and also not stress about money. Now you should be ready to Ski the Slopes the $Mart Way!

Hannah Eilert – Peer Financial Counselor I

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

 

Preparing Your Budget for Spring Break

In case you missed PFC’s “It’s Spring Break NOT Spring Broke” event yesterday, here are some tips to help you stick to your budget during spring break. Start planning what you will do, how you will get there, what it will cost, and any additional spending money you will need for it.

Compare flight prices in an incognito browser (aka private browser). An incognito browser won’t release your IP address to the site, which can prevent sites from raising prices on a second visit in order to pressure customers into buying too quickly or without further research. In Chrome, click the menu button on the top right. In Firefox, click on the drop down menu in the top left. On Safari, click on Safari in the top task bar. And in Internet Explorer, click on the safety tab on the menu. Some sites to look at for comparing travel prices are:

  • http://www.kayak.com/
  • http://www.expedia.com/
  • http://www.priceline.com/
  • http://www.amtrak.com/
  • http://www.greyhound.com/
  • http://us.megabus.com/ (though there’s no stations in Kansas, it can help with a connecting trip)

Oftentimes, taking a bus, train, or driving will be largely cheaper than taking a flight, but will take longer. Consider cutting costs by sacrificing a little time. Also keep in mind that prices tend to go up as the date of the trip gets closer. Getting a jump on buying tickets can save you a lot of money.

Compare hotel prices. Most of the travel sites listed above also offer hotel comparisons and discounts. Make sure to research the cost it would be to buy them separately before assuming that the bundle is cheaper. http://www.hotels.com/ is a good site to compare prices. They have deals every now and then for certain hotels and offer a punch card system for booking through their site where you get a free stay after ten nights booked. Since a hotel can sometimes just be a place to sleep at night, consider booking a lower-cost hotel instead of one that has a lot of amenities.

Make SMART goals to save up for the trip. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Determine how much you will need for the trip and set a specific amount of money to put away for a specific period of time (each month, each paycheck, etc…), that can fit in your budget and get you the amount needed in time. This will require a good budget to know how much you can afford to set aside each month. Consider stashing away any holiday or birthday money towards it as well.

Christyne Stephenson
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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