How can I prepare my apartment for winter break?

Winter break is here again, and most college students couldn’t be more excited! Some much needed rest and relaxation await as soon as that last final is done, and many are headed back home for well-deserved time with family and friends. While a 3-4 week break sounds great when you’ve been working hard all semester, don’t get too wrapped up in the excitement and then forget to prep your apartment before you leave. Apart from packing clothes to bring with you, there are a few other things you may want to get done before you leave to save money and avoid the potential for headaches when you return for the new semester.

  1. Leave your heat on at least 65 degrees so your water pipes don’t freeze. You may also want to leave sink cabinets open so that some heat can circulate. Nobody wants to come home to inches of water in their apartment.
  2. Make sure all doors and windows are locked. Don’t make it easy for someone to get their hands on your stuff while you’re gone!
  3. Take your valuables with you, just to be sure, if the locked windows and doors don’t deter intruders. The last thing you need is to buy a new laptop for the new semester because yours “went missing” over break.
  4. Clean out your fridge and take out all trash. You don’t want a stinky mess when you come back from break!
  5. Unplug appliances like televisions, microwaves, toasters, and other items that draw energy even when not in use in order to save some on your electricity bill. No need to pay for it when you’re not there!
  6. Be sure to turn off (even unplug) those pretty holiday decorations! While they were pretty while you were at your apartment, there’s no need to waste the electricity and leave a potential fire hazard on when you’re gone.
  7. Pay rent for January! Just because you’re not there doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay. Either pay it before you leave or give yourself a reminder so it doesn’t get overlooked in all your relaxing time. Save some money by avoiding late fees.

Written by Brooke Shrewsbury, Consumer Economics Program Coordinator, University of Illinois Extension, 2018.

Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.

What is the Time Value of Money (TVM) and how does it impact my investment?

The Time Value of Money (TVM) refers to situations involving the exchange of something of value (money) at separate points in time. Basically all investments relate back to the exchange of money at a certain point in time for the rights to the future capital associated with that investment. In very simple terms, the TVM proves the idea that a dollar today is worth more than that same dollar amount tomorrow; it shows the impact that time has on money.

For example:

Say you are considering putting $10,000 dollars into a savings account today that would earn 3% interest.

  • In 1 year that $10,000 dollars would be worth $10,300.00
  • In 5 years that $10,000 dollars would be worth $11,592.74
  • In 10 years that $10,000 dollars would be worth $13,439.16
  • In 20 years that $10,000 dollars would be worth $18,061.11

As you can see above, because interest (earned in one year) continues to earn interest (later years), your original investment grows by just letting the TVM work its course. This is a very basic example, but it shows the importance of the TVM and how it can impact your investment.

So remember, take advantage of time! The more you invest now, the more that investment will grow in the future.

If you would like to see more real life examples schedule a “Steps Toward Investing” workshop with the Financial Wellness Peer Educators where we can talk more about the effects the TVM can have on a portfolio or retirement account. You can also schedule a one-on-one appointment with a peer educator by emailing financial.wellnessuie@gmail.com.

Written by Brandon Wyeth, Financial Wellness Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, 2017.

Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.

What’s a system I can use when doing my holiday shopping?

The holidays can be a time of sensory overload – so much to do, so many events, lights, and people — that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. And, when people are stressed, it’s easy to overspend. To avoid spending more money than you want during the holidays, take time to create a spending plan system that works for you!

What do I need for an effective holiday spending system? I need:

  • To know how much money I want to spend;
  • To know who or what I want to spend money on;
  • A way to track spending; and
  • A way to keep track of what I’ve purchased.

Before you start shopping, think about what kind of system would work best for you. Do you like a(n):

  • app,
  • envelope,
  • small book,
  • budget sheet?

Any of these, and others, can work. Creating a holiday spending system can give you peace-of-mind and help you control your spending, including how much you charge on credit cards. For a free, one page, holiday spending plan form to help you go to http://go.illinois.edu/holidaymoney and click on Control Holiday Credit Card Debt.

Written by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.

What is the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

Many people use the term credit score and credit report interchangeably. Although mistaking them may seem harmless, credit scores and credit reports are very different. As stated in the name, your credit score is exactly that, a score. This score is a numerical value that is calculated and used by lenders to determine the risk associated with giving a borrower a loan.

The formula most often used to calculate a credit score takes into account a person’s payment history, amount owed, length of credit history, new credit and type of credit used. A person may receive a different credit score from each lender or reporting agency because the formula used to calculate the credit score will vary. The reason for the variance is because there are different types of credit score scoring models such as FICO, the most commonly used right now, and VantageScore, which both lenders and consumers are starting to use more often.

On the other hand, a credit report contains a person’s credit history. A credit report includes information such as a person’s social security number, current and previous addresses, and employment history. Besides this, a person can find a list of their lines of credit such as credit cards, student loans and mortgages, the date each one was opened, credit limits, and whether their accounts are past due or in good standing. Bankruptcies will also appear on someone’s credit report as well as the names of people that have recently asked to see the person’s credit report.

Knowing your credit score to know where you stand credit-wise, and to be prepared for any outcomes on your credit applications can be helpful. However, it is more important to remember to check your credit report to prevent identity theft and to make sure that all the information on the report is accurate. A person should also check their credit reports from all three credit bureaus to ensure that the information is the same. As stated earlier, a credit score and a credit report are not the same thing, but they are closely related, as the information on a credit report is used in the calculation of a credit score.

Written by Lesly Luna, Financial Wellness Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, 2017.

Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.

What is ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning?

A great class to learn about the basics of investing is ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning. This class covers the fundamental aspects of compounding interest, risk management strategies in asset management, and principal investment strategies that you can begin to use now or plan to in the future. Furthermore, you will learn about the differences between passive and active investing and the pros and cons of each. A significant portion of the class is dedicated to the Time Value of Money and how you can you use it to your advantage; if you are able to invest early, you will set yourself up for great success.

ACE 240 is offered at UIUC in the Spring, Fall, and online over Winter & Summer break. Not only will you learn about the basics of investing by taking this course, but also about budgeting your money, acquiring financial assets, managing credit, planning for taxes, setting yourself up for retirement, and making decisions in estate planning. The class is open to all majors with no pre-requisites, so go sign up for ACE 240!

Written by Michael Piet, Financial Wellness Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, 2017.

Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, Consumer Economics Educator, University of Illinois Extension.