Finding ways to make your funds stretch throughout a semester can be very challenging as a college student.
The weight of balancing a social life, paying for tuition, textbooks, phone bills, groceries and car expenses can be almost too much to handle at times. Isiaah Boria, FinLit Peer Educator in his fourth year, has made a list of some of the ways he saves money and stretches his funds.
After a tough first semester of college, Isiaah realized textbooks cost a lot more than he had expected. He now uses Sluggbooks.com, this website looks for the best textbook prices across multiple platforms like Chegg, Abcbooks and Amazon. This website saves him money and time hunting for the best price.
The Dollar Tree is a place where Isiaah buys some of his basic needs. This can oftentimes be an overlooked store where students can save money. Remember to pay attention to unit prices, sometimes you may be paying more than you would at another store. Some items are a great deal and sometimes the packaging is small enough that a dollar is rip-off! Entertainment can be expensive so take advantage of events like Dollar Movie Night and programs like Mainely Outdoors that offer free excursions. Student Life also promotes trips to professional sports games, Broadway shows and much more.
Keeping an eye out for these resources around campus can help you save a lot of money and have a lot of fun. Isiaah’s last big tip is to use budgeting apps. This helps him keep track of his expenses and also budget ahead of time so he can save money each week.
It is tax season and that means that college students who file are most likely getting refunds.
If you worked a lot in 2019 the chances are your refund is large. If you’re not behind on bills or desperately need to spend the money, this is a good chance to get ahead on your savings and build an emergency fund.
There are also many ways you could invest this money rather than using it for quick purchases that provide momentary satisfaction. Saving your money to use on textbooks next fall, using it as grocery money for the semester, paying rent, or investing it into your long term savings account are all really good ways for spending your refund wisely.
Making conscientious purchases such as those will benefit you in the long run, rather than using it to go out to dinner, to buy your 7th pair of Vans or a new sweatshirt.
Be smart with your refund and be sure to file your taxes with us by setting up an appointment with a peer coach by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Perry Contributing Writer
The UMF Financial Literacy Peer Education Program (FinLit) helps students gain control of their finances through exciting events, including the upcoming Tacos and Taxes.
FinLit Coordinator Sarah Hinman said that the event will provide the help of peer educators, all of whom are certified tax preparers, as well as the ability for students to get their taxes filed for free, with a feeling of empowerment and free food. The peer educators will also be working with Hinman and volunteers from United Way.
FinLit’s Tacos and Taxes drew in about 30 students last year. Some individuals only needed a small amount of assistance, but the people within the FinLit Program also helped those who had never filed before and were “desperate to take charge of their tax situation,” said Hinman.
Taxes and Tacos was designed to provide a more cost-efficient and attractive alternative to the average tax-filing process. FinLit and Hinman recommend coming to this program instead of using another tax preparation service, such as Turbotax or H&R Block because it is free, there is food, and it is empowering. “Money equals power, and being able to handle your finances independently also equals power,” said Hinman.
The empowerment comes from students being able to have a hand in their tax preparation process, and allows them to be active within it. Being able to file one’s taxes and see the process creates a feeling of pride and confidence. “Tax events are very effective for the people that come,” said intern Caleb Grover.
Part of what makes the FinLit tax filing experience unique is the peer educators who are there to make the process as easy as possible. “There’s somebody to talk to and we know what we’re talking about,” Grover said with confidence. “If an issue comes up with your taxes, we would be the one to reach out to someone for you–you aren’t on your own.”
According to a previous article published in The Flyer, the FinLit program was formed last year following a donation of $901,000 from Janet Mills, governor of the state of Maine, to fund the program which was set to be put into place at all public universities in Maine by 2021.
FinLit helps with more than just taxes throughout UMF. “We provide a safe space for students to come and receive guidance or help on their different financial issues,” Hinman said. “That can range from understanding your bill better, reviewing what you owe for student loans and how much the monthly payment will be.”
Tacos and Taxes will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the Education Center lobby from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students are encouraged to bring their laptop and their appetite. Students can also visit the FinLit office hours Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, contact them through email or direct message on Instagram.
For future updates and opportunities for financial advice follow FinLit on Instagram @umf_finlit or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sticking to a budget and finding a little extra money for gifts makes holiday spending a struggle. As with any type of budget, set aside a selected amount of money and try not to overspend.
There are a few ways you can save a few bucks before the holiday spending is in full force. Start with small tasks like collecting all the empty bottles in your room, or even from your friends, and bringing them to the bottle redemption center. Not only will you earn a few dollars but your room or apartment will be a lot cleaner, leaving more room for festive activities like Christmas trees and that heaping pile of presents you can now afford because of the extra money you earned for yourself.
In the weeks leading up to the big holiday spending, set aside your spare change and bills each week in an envelope or jar and it will add up surprisingly fast. Cashback apps like iBotta, Checkout 51 and Dosh to name a few, allow you to scan your receipt after any purchase and get cashback on applicable items. This is especially handy on receipts from grocery shopping which generally have a lot of items on the receipt.
Black Friday and holiday spending can cost a lot of money, so be conscious and don’t spend more than you can afford!
DM FinLit on Instagram at Umf_Finlit or send me an email at email@example.com to set up an appointment.
Dam Turkey Day
The time to stuff our faces with turkey, stuffing, and pies is nigh. Images of a heaping cornucopia of steaming food can cloud our vision and financial judgment. Cooking a traditionally large, exquisite Thanksgiving meal can be enough to break anyone’s budget.
Before you decide what you’re cooking, set aside a budgeted amount of money. Setting a limit will steer you away from splurging and losing track of your food spending until the final item has been rung up.
The meat of a Thanksgiving meal is generally the most expensive item on the table. This may be controversial, but maybe you don’t need a whole turkey. Turkey’s breasts, thighs, and drumsticks will be cheaper and cook faster than a whole turkey, saving you time and money.
When it comes to vegetables and pies don’t shy away from canned or frozen goods. After it’s been cooked, the only noticeable difference will be in your wallet.
After completing your Thanksgiving budget, break out your phone and use a coupon or savings app to see what deals you can find on the items you’ve chosen.
On top of saving all that dam money, don’t forget to be thankful for the loved ones around you- they’re priceless. DM FinLit on Instagram at Umf_Finlit or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.