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Planning for a SMART New Year

Image result for new years and planning

As we approach the end of the year, we often reflect on what we have and have not accomplished throughout the year.  When we set our goals and New Year’s resolutions, we have grand ideas and plans.  One way to achieve our plans is to set SMART goals rather than general ones.

Be specific.  It is difficult to achieve a vague idea.  For example, set a definitive goal of I would like to take a vacation in June to California instead of I would like to take a vacation someday.  Not only does this give you a time-frame, it allows you to research what you need to achieve this – such as costs.

Next, your goal should be measurable.  By knowing the details, you can set incremental goals to achieve the bigger, overall goal.  Take my trip to California – I need to know the cost I plan on spending and when I am going, so I can start saving now.  For instance, if my trip is going to cost me $500, and I plan on going in 6 months, I need to save just under $85 per month.  I will be able to measure my progress each month as I save money.

Your goal should be achievable.  If I currently have no income, it will be very difficult to save $85 per month.  A better goal at this point would be to find a job, so I can have the money to save for a vacation.

Having a relevant goal is important.  If it does not matter to you, you will not be motivated to achieve it.  Personal values and aspirations are necessary components of setting goals that matter to you.  Why do I want to go to California?  For me, it is not just a fun vacation, but I have family there that I haven’t been able to see for a while; therefore, I am more motivated to save money each month.

Finally, having a time-frame will help you reach your goals.  While I would love to go to California next month, I will not have the time to save the money by then.  Also, setting the time-frame far enough out (June), but not too far (such as sometime in the future) gives you more specific direction.

Whether your ambitions are financial, related to school or a future job, as you approach goal-setting next year make sure you set SMART goals.

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-frame

Fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions will be within your reach!

Shari Humbard
Peer Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling

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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