Salt: K-State’s Free Financial Literacy Tool

SaltMoney.org is a free tool offered by K-State for its students and alumni. Powercat Financial Counseling has partnered with American Student Assistance to provide this service in order to enhance students’ understanding of finances such as student loans, credit, and budgeting, and to help with scholarship, internship, and job searches. Salt offers short online courses that can help you learn about various financial topics, a student loan repayment calculator, articles and blogs, and much more.

My Money 101

Do you know how to choose the right bank or how your credit score can keep you from getting hired at a job? Unfortunately most college classes don’t teach students about personal financial management. Luckily for K-State students, we all have access to Salt and its My Money 101 online interactive courses. These quick courses start with a pre-lesson survey, follow with an interactive lesson over a specific topic, and finish with an examination that awards you with a badge once you complete it. Topics range from budgeting to taxes to educational planning. My Money 101 courses aren’t just for people new to finances. Even if you have previous experience managing your money, there is definitely something you can learn through the online Salt courses.

Internship/Job Search

Salt also has a database with almost 50,000 internship and job positions from over 23,000 companies and the search tool lets you create custom searches based on criteria that matter to you. You are able to filter through searches and when you find something that interests you, Salt lets you upload your resume and apply for the position directly through their site. They even allow you to directly communicate with hiring managers. Additionally, students can also search for scholarships: nothing beats free money. Salt allows you another area to search for over 2.4 million scholarships totally over $14 billion dollars. Before you begin to search, Salt lets you plug information in that narrows the search down to scholarships that match your qualifications to help save you time. Salt’s search engines give you the opportunity to find even more opportunities to make you successful in college and beyond.

Student Loans

Salt is a great tool for understanding your student loan debt and how it will affect your finances in the future. First, you can upload your student loan information onto your account and even add in other debt from credit cards, car loans, etc… to be able to keep track of everything in one place. You can then pull your student loans into a repayment calculator that will show what your monthly payments will be based on the different repayment plans. There is a plethora of information regarding the different repayment plans, loan forgiveness, late payments, etc…  Another great perk of Salt is loan experts that students can call with questions they may have after graduation when they can no longer come into PFC.

Additionally, There are constantly articles and blogs being published on the site concerning anything related to financial management. However, it goes beyond money. There is plenty of help on interviewing, resumes, networking, and getting the most out of your internship. There is even a community area where you can post questions you have and peers can help answer. K-State has provided its students and alumni with a great tool to increase their financial literacy. It is easy and very quick to create a free account at saltmoney.org by putting Kansas State University as the school/organization.

If you’re looking through Salt and have any further questions or would like to meet with Powercat Financial Counseling concerning other financial topics, we would love to help out! You can schedule a free appointment on our website at www.k-state.edu/pfc/services.

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

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Thinking About Studying Abroad?

More and more college students from all over the country are choosing to study abroad. Spending a semester or a couple of weeks in a foreign country is both exciting and beneficial to your personal development. A growing number of employers see this as a plus because it can suggest your global perspective and awareness. One might think picking the ideal country to study in is the hardest part, but in the hype of the excitement, many students overlook the costs of financing the trip. Here are a few tips to help you plan accordingly without having to worry about money.

Create a Budget

The first course of action is to determine whether or not studying abroad is feasible months in advance. You’ll need to obtain an estimate of the total costs of your intended countries you may study in (as well as possible excursions you may take while abroad).  This includes, but is not limited to, passport or visa applications, tuition, books, housing, meals, bottled water, plane and train tickets, transit (i.e. metro or taxi), and souvenirs.  Then, you need to figure out how much you currently have to pay for the trip and how much extra you’ll need to save up. The best solution to this task is creating a budget. Start by listing all your monthly sources of income and deducting all your monthly expenses to establish your discretionary balance (the money you have left over). If you are in the red (negative balance), funding this trip might be a difficult task. Don’t fret, though, as there are alternative funding strategies. If you are in the black (positive balance), then you are more likely able to finance the trip.

The next step is to set up a “Study Abroad Fund” and contribute monthly to build up the balance. This fund will be your go-to source of money when abroad. The amount that you can contribute will depend on how much money you have left over to generate on a monthly basis. Being college students, that amount tends to not be significant. Thankfully, there are alternative sources of funding available to students who plan on study abroad and they come in the form of scholarships. Scholarships are free money and you should try to obtain as many as possible. Check with K-State’s Study Abroad Department for more details at http://www.k-state.edu/studyabroad/current-students/funding/scholarships.html. A new and popular way of raising funds comes in the form of crowdfunding. You can set up a campaign on sites like indiegogo, kickstarter, and gofundme and have access to a community of millions of people that can help raise funds toward your trip. You also are eligible to receive student loans during your time abroad if you are enrolled at least half time, which can help with the costs of tuition, room, and board. For more information, you can visit Student Financial Assistance’s page at http://www.k-state.edu/sfa/policies/studyabroad.html.  If you still need more money for your trip, don’t be afraid to speak to your parents and family for assistance.

All these sources of income are better utilized or obtained if you have a thorough budget drafted that illustrates your financial need and capability. You can use PFC’s free spending plan worksheet to help you with this task by going to http://www.k-state.edu/pfc/budgeting.

Does your Debit/Credit card Work in Foreign Countries?

Once you are in the program, have chosen a country to study in, and raised all the funds you’ll need, then you are almost at the finish line of enjoying a financially stress-free trip. What you need to do next is figure out if your debit and/or credit card(s) work in the country you plan on travelling to and if so, if you will incur any fees every time you swipe your card. You can easily check with your bank on this matter and if need be, obtain a card that allows you to do so without any costly fees.  Most banks will charge a flat cost for using international ATMs (i.e. $5) and some will charge a percentage of the withdrawal (i.e. 3%).   Some credit cards won’t have foreign transaction fees, but this only applies to transactions made using the card.  Be aware that many places abroad only accept cash and you won’t be able to use the card with no foreign transaction fees.

Additionally, it’s very important to put a travel notification on each card you may be using abroad, including ones brought for emergencies only.  This can be done by calling each bank or company and letting them know the dates of travel as well as the countr(ies) you will be in.  Failure to place a notification can result in your card being frozen due to a suspicion of theft.  This can last for days and may only be able to be lifted by a phone call to the bank or company.

Do I Have an Emergency Fund?

Lastly, you need to be prepared for any surprises that can financially impact your study abroad experience. You need to have an emergency fund set up that will only be used if something bad happens. Examples include losing your wallet, pick pockets, travel or lodging mix ups, or a medical emergency. It never hurts to be prepared and you’ll have less things to worry about knowing that you have a back-up plan.

If you need further assistance in planning for your trip, feel free to set up an appointment with PFC by going to www.k-state.edu/pfc/services.

Resources

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexadavis/2014/07/10/6-ways-to-cut-the-costs-of-your-study-abroad-program/

Gerald Mashange
Peer Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

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Importance of Estate Planning

This may be hard to believe, but everyone needs an estate plan. Your estate includes your car, home, real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture and personal possessions owned individually. It does not matter how well off you are, everyone has items or money that they would like to protect or pass along to their family.

Do not wait until you have hit retirement age to start your estate plan: the earlier you begin this process the better. We cannot predict how long we will live or if, at some point in our lives, we will be unable to communicate our wishes. An estate plan assists in making sure that your wishes and property are distributed and taken care of as you desired.

The most common reasons that people have for not creating an estate plan include: they do not see a need to, they do not plan on dying soon, they do not want to pay for professional estate planning services, they do not want to spend the time developing an inventory of their possessions, they do not want to discuss such issues with their family, they do not want to talk about their money, they do not want to scare their kids, and they do not trust their kids.

The fact is too many people put off creating an estate plan until it is too late and their families end up lost, confused, and having to pick up the pieces. Most states do have a plan for your estate if you die intestate (that is, without an appropriate estate plan) and you will might not like their plan as much as your own.

Do not wait. Start your estate plan now and change it as your life changes. Nothing has to be set in stone, just get started. Creating your estate plan will bring you peace of mind and protect your family. According to the American Bar Association, below are the top 10 things that estate planning can assist you with.

10 Things an Estate Plan Can Help With

  1. Provide for your immediate family.
  2. Get your property to beneficiaries quickly.
  3. Plan for incapacitation.
  4. Minimize expenses.
  5. Choose executors/trustees for your estate.
  6. Ease the strain on your family.
  7. Help your favorite charitable cause.
  8. Reduce taxes on your estate.
  9. Provide for people who need help and guidance.
  10. Make sure your business continues smoothly.

To learn more about each item go to the American Bar Association website at http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_issues_for_consumers/estatebenefits.html and find an attorney or Certified Financial Planner near you at http://www.cfp.net/.

References:

https://www.estateplanning.com/What-is-Estate-Planning/
http://www.seniorcitizensguide.com/articles/services/estates.htm

 

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

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