decisions

Celebrate College Savings Month!


September means school is back in the swing of things and you’ve had to fork over some serious cash for books, supplies, and tuition for the semester. Why not start thinking about next year and how you will make covering these expenses less stressful?

The Personal Money Management Center wants to help you reduce stress that is associated with the financial obligations of getting an education. We want to help you so much that we are going to show you how to receive a $4,500 matched savings grant! We are holding two mandatory personal money management classes at the end of December (20th & 22nd 10am-2pm) to qualify you for this opportunity. Class sizes are limited so you need to register as soon as possible. If we have over 40 participants signed up by September 10th, we will hold an earlier session the last two Saturdays in September (20th & 27th).

The classes work in conjunction with the Utah Individual Development Account Network. UIDAN provides a matched savings account to qualified participants. When you save up to $1,500 you will receive up to $4,500; a 3:1 match! Your $6,000 can be used towards your education, the purchase of a first home, small business development, or assistive technology for the disabled.

We have been able to assist students in receiving $112,500 in matched savings money. Students chose to use their funds for education, buying their first home, or starting their own business. You could be the next student to lessen the financial burden of getting a college degree or to make your dream of owning a home or starting a business a reality!

IDA Infographic

To register for this amazing opportunity, simply call our office 801-585-7379 or stop by to see us on the 3rd floor of the Union in Room 317. We also have an event posted on our Facebook page.

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Creating Budget-Friendly Meal Plans

new_ways_to_save_money_on_groceries

Everybody eats. We all make the decision of what to eat multiple times a day and this simple choice can make or break a budget. Creating a meal-plan is an easy way to cut down your grocery budget. It is also important to know where to shop and what types of food will fit into your budget. Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

  • Plan ahead. Create a meal plan using frugal foods as the base for recipes. Eggs, dry pasta, beans, legumes, flour, potatoes, frozen vegetables are fantastic starting points when creating recipes and meal plans.
  •  Build a stocked pantry. If your kitchen is stocked with basic necessities such as soy sauce, hot sauce, spices, olive oil, broth, honey, and basic spices you will be able to build different flavor profiles using the same base ingredients. This will save you money in the long run.
  • Buy meat on sale in bulk. Meat is often the most expensive item in a recipe. To cut cost, plan your recipes based on what meat is on sale this week at your local grocer. Buy a large cut so you can freeze smaller portions for meals later in the month. 
  • Cook from scratch. Learn to make simple sauces, such as pesto, cheese sauce, or a pan sauce, in addition to things like pizza dough, waffles, pancakes, bread, etc. to save a ridiculous amount of money on meals such as pasta, pizza, and breakfast.
  • Don’t try too hard. Some people feel overwhelmed by the idea of meal-planning. While it can be tedious and very detail oriented, it does not have to be. Choose a meal plan that is simple but variable. For example, if you pick a type of food for each day, you can vary the specific flavor profile on a weekly basis. You could designate specific staple dishes: baked potatoes, frittattas, pasta, paninis, pizza, etc., per day a week. So while you are eating pasta once a week, there are a million variations so you won’t get bored.

Top 10 Websites for Bargain Lovers

ShopSmart Magazine reported on the top 10 websites to help save consumers money in their April 2014 issue. The following are their picks: 

YIPIT.COM 

Many of us sign up to receive deals from the places we love to shop, resulting in several emails from different retailers crowding our inbox! Yipit.com solves this issue by sending one email a day with deals from ALL the sites you subscribe to, including Groupon and Living Social!

COUPONSFORCHANGE.ORG 

This website partners with Share Our Strength; an organization that fights against childhood hunger. Using 3 coupons from Coupons For Change will result in one free meal for a hungry child through Share Our Strength. Who wouldn’t want to save money and help feed staring children?!

SELLOUT.WOOT.COM

Known as one of the “flash-sale” sites, it has deals on a variety of items ranging from camping equipment to watches and laptop cases. This site is a great place to get deals however they go quickly, so check often!

BAUBLEBAR.COM

Love free shipping and accessorizing your outfits? Then this website has everything you want! A great website for affordable accessories without the hassle of extra shipping costs. (View picture to the right).

AMAZON.COM/COUPONS

You can search through the most popular coupons to see what people are saving money on. When you find a coupon you want to use, simply click on it and it will be subtracted from the total in your checkout! This can be combined with Amazon Prime for free shipping for even more cost savings.

DEALS.EBAY.COM

Deals are posted every day at 8 a.m. Pacific Time from trusted sellers. Ebay also incorporates informational banners to help you sort through newly added items or items that are almost gone.

GILT.COM

Another “flash-sale” site that has up to 60% off of name brand designers as well as a feature to select a city to view deals on activities and food.

PRICEBLINK.COM

This deal finding browser add-on will alert you of competing prices for any item you are shopping for online. It will also give you a reference for the price history of the item. (View picture to the right).

TJMAXX.COM

Looking for designer deals? TJMaxx.com has a “Runway” section to browse through deals on Prada, Gucci, etc. You can also sign up for flash-sale alerts or browse new arrivals in their  “Just In” section.

HARMONDISCOUNT.COM

Great deals on beauty and personal care products. Touting products as much as 20% lower than at retail store such as Walmart. You can find your favorite products by clicking “Shop by Brand.”

Saving Money For The Holidays

It’s the Most…..Expensive Time of the Year!

By Vincent Mortensen

Summer has come and gone.  The heat has transitioned into the cool, crisp weather of autumn.  With the changing weather brings the changing of the seasons and all the fun holiday’s attached to them.  In a three month span, we dress up and get candy, gorge ourselves on delicious foods and top it off with giving and receiving presents.  Even the holiday season can cause stress.  In this sense, it can harm us financially.

Chances are you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year for all your closest family and friends.  If you’re not cooking, you’re probably traveling to get to said meal.  With the steady rise of gas prices, long distance car trips or flying can cause a financial squeeze.  This is why we must start saving now instead of later.

Let’s do an example.  A family of four needs to travel to Denver, Colorado from Salt Lake City, Utah to reach grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even booking in September will cost each person on average $200 for round trip.  $800 is considered by many a major purchase and should be saved for.

Now for driving.  Let’s say gas prices are averaged out to $3.70 a gallon throughout the road trip.  Your car receives 25 mph on the highway for the 550 mile trip.  This will round out to about $162.50 round trip.  This is a much better deal but still on the expensive side.  There may be additional costs including hotel as well.

Imagine if you had to travel even further than the next state over.  Things could become even more expensive than $160 to $800.

If you don’t have to travel far for Thanksgiving, enjoy your meal and be merry!  But, if you have to spend a significant amount to see your loved ones, it’s never too early to start saving for your upcoming adventure.  Good luck!

How to Save Money on Textbooks

Books with apple on topBuy used whenever possible. Your school bookstore probably sells used copies but they usually sell out fast. Check online for a used version of your book. Most online textbook retailers have information on the condition of book before you buy and you can usually find a version that is “like new”’ or “very good” and still save a lot of money over buying new.

-Find a textbook price comparison website like www.booksprice.com or find one you like better by searching the web for “textbook price compare.” This allows you to see the price of your textbook being sold on lots of different websites and allows you to buy it for as little as possible.

Use retailmenot.com to find promo codes to use on discount websites like half.com or abebooks.com. You don’t need an account and you can often find codes for free shipping or a percentage discount on your purchase. For example, go to retailmenot.com and type in “half.com.” The first coupon code says “10% off books for new users.” Click the “show coupon code” banner and the code “10BTS” will pop up. If you type that in to the promo code field at check out at half.com, it will automatically take of 10% off your whole purchase. That might not sound like much but on a $100 textbook, it will save you $10. If you already have a half.com account, consider opening another one with your Umail email address so that you can use this code.

After you search for a promo code, go to Ebates.com or Shopathome.com to get additional cash back when using online book retailers. This is an important step and get often save you an additional 2%-6%. If you want more information on how these websites work, click here.

Buy international copies when possible. International editions are usually almost identical to the copies sold at the book store and can be half the price.

Look for an online version or e-book from websites like Amazon. This can save you money over buying a hard copy but might be inconvenient if you don’t have a tablet. Remember when buying an online copy or e-book, you cannot sell your book back at the end of the semester and make back some of your initial cost. And some online versions only give you access to the book for a short time (like one year) and you are better off buying hard copy if you still want access to the book after that time period.

Rent your textbook from websites like chegg.com. You can find textbooks rentals for as little as $15-$50 per semester and save a lot of money. Just take in to consideration that you cannot sell your textbook back at the end of the semester since you are borrowing it from the company. And you can be responsible for the whole cost of the book if it gets lost or damaged. This is not a good option if you want to keep your book after the rental period is over. If buying the textbook used online is only $10-$25 more, consider purchasing the book instead because after you sell it back and recoup some or all of your initial cost, it will have saved you more money in the end than renting and if you decide you like the book, you have the option to keep it instead.

Buy an older edition of the book. Revisions of textbooks come out so frequently that the previous version might not be much different from the $150 book your teacher requires. Before you buy however, talk to your teacher or go to the library and compare the versions so that you know the older version will work. If there are only a few pages that are different (for example, some of the homework questions), you can copy those pages to supplement your text book. This might seem like more work but it could save you 75% on your textbook or more! Try not go back too many editions, especially if the subject changes frequently (like a textbook on technology).

-Make sure you will get your book in time. Even if you have to pay a little extra for rush shipping, it is very likely that you will save money over going to the bookstore. If your book won’t arrive in time, check your school library and see if they have a copy of the book on reserve. That means no one can check out the book for more than a few hours so you have a good chance of being able to find the book if you just need to read a chapter or do a few homework problems.

-Sell it back. And finally when the semester is over, if you decide you no longer need your textbook, sell it back to your school if possible or online. If you purchased it online and scored a good deal, you could even make money on selling it back to your school!

Tiffany Davis

All the Right Moves, All of the Time

How do you learn to always make the most of your money?

How do you know when you’ve achieved that plane of existence where you sneeze and gold coins fly from your ears?  Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but is it possible to get to a place where you are always making the best financial decisions all of the time?

Probably not.

chess pieces

Does it matter?

Probably not.

When talking about money, you need to include a discussion on keeping a healthy balance.  You’ll drive yourself crazy by always trying to pick the winning stock and never spending your money on wasteful things like fast food and movies.  I can’t imagine trying to live my life not making a wrong move.  It’s just not possible and, frankly, not desirable.  You have to have fun sometimes.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

Does that mean that you’re doomed to live paycheck to paycheck, never accomplishing what your financial goals?  Absolutely not.  Life is not always lived in a straight line.  Sometimes it meanders.  And some of those little diversion lead to some pretty great stuff.

It’s like when you take a trip somewhere.  You plot your course, you get in your car and you drive.  But along the way you find a road you’ve never seen before or a sign post you haven’t noticed and you decide to follow it just to see where it leads and it turn out that you find someplace great.  Of course, you could also find a crummy place that you never want to see again.  But the odds are in your favor that you’ll find something interesting, at the very least, and you may find something great that you’ll want to get back to again and again.

That’s living in a balanced way.  You make a plan and you work towards it.  But, you’re also open to what the world is going to drop at your feet.  Sometimes it will be good and sometime it will be bad.  And sometimes it will be AWESOME!

Cheers

Sherri Overby