I spend a lot of money on eating out. How can I reduce those expenses?

While it’s true that one of your biggest expenses will always be food, there are many ways for you to cut down on those costs. Buying groceries and cooking at home can be less expensive and much healthier than eating out, but we all have busy schedules and sometimes don’t have the time or resources to cook. Here are two ways that you can save money when you want to eat out!

  1. Coupons are not just for families. If you live in an apartment or house (and sometimes even in the dorms), many restaurants and chains will send coupons in the mail that can save you a good amount of cash. For example: One national pizza chain’s large cheese pizza regularly costs $12. Use a coupon that was mailed (or even one you found online) and you can get a large pizza plus two toppings for $8!
  2. If you don’t have coupons or need a good deal in a pinch, there are also websites that offer deals in the area. For example, EatCU.com offers deals from over 100 restaurants including “weekly specials” that can help you save even more money. Another online local coupon source is campusspecial.com. You can search for deals at UIUC specifically, or if you’re visiting someone at another university (they have deals at over 500 schools), you can enter that school and get coupons even when you’re in an unfamiliar place.

Even the smallest amount of money saved can add up to something big. Don’t hesitate to spend a little extra time trying to save on your meal–it could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run!

Written by Sophia Mohamed, Financial Wellness Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Establishing Your Roots – Getting Started with Financial Services (Recorded Webinar)

Checking accounts, prepaid cards, debit cards, savings accounts and more! Which financial tools are best for you? Now’s the time to learn which financial tools can help you move forward financially and help you grow your money. Behavioral economists have found that mental accounting – when you put money into a category – can help people save money or cause them to lose sight of their financial goals. You can use financial tools to make mental accounting work for you!

University of Illinois Extension, along with the University of Illinois’ Student Money Management Center, hosted the webinar “Establishing your Roots: Getting Started with Financial Services” on September 16, 2014. The FREE webinar focused on understanding the pros and cons of different financial tools available to you. Watch it below!

spending badgeThis is a Spending Badge eligible program, so make sure to take the quiz after watching to get credit!

“Establishing Your Roots: Getting Started with Financial Services” is part of the Get $avvy: Grow Your Green Stuff webinar series. Tune in for another Get $avvy webinar on January 27, 4:00-5:00 p.m.! Learn how your finances play a role in “Life Transitions.” Register here.

Spotlight on Library Resources: Borrow

Understanding the Mathematics of Personal Finance [electronic resource] : an Introduction to Financial Literacy by Lawrence N. Dworsky

Are you easily overwhelmed by numbers and interest rate calculations? Do you tend to avoid careful planning and decision-making when it comes to your personal finances because you simply have trouble understanding these calculations? If yes, then this is the guide for you!

Understanding the Mathematics of Personal Finance is a highly useful resource for the day-to-day management of personal finances. Even before introducing any of the contexts in which math is used in personal finance, the resource has a primer on the mathematics that serves as the basis for personal finance calculations.

At its root, this book is all about loan calculations, but the author, Lawrence N. Dworsky, has a broader definition of a loan. A loan is not just when an individual borrows money from a bank. A loan can also be an investment, but in that case another party is borrowing money from the individualSo this resource is useful not only for borrowing but also for investing.

Understanding the Mathematics of Personal Finance will equip you with the basic math skills for personal finance that you need to make informed decisions before you borrow money and as you pay it back. Dworsky is clear that this resource does not contain strategies for borrowing or investing. Instead, it gives you the ability to decide for yourself what decisions would be best, solely on the basis of numbers.

Note: This ebook can only be accessed on campus or off campus with your University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign NetID. If you do not have access to this ebook, please request a print copy through your local public library.

Written by Heidi Johnson, University of Illinois Library

Expect the Unexpected – Saving for Emergencies

Planning for the unexpected can ensure that you are able to weather a financial hardship should you lose your job, have a car repair, or any other unplanned expense. By having savings set aside for emergencies, you decrease the need to rely on credit cards or loans to cover emergency situations. Borrowing funds to cover emergencies can create additional financial hardship. Most experts recommend that you have between three and six months of income set aside in emergency funds, but having any money set aside can help when a financial storm arises.

A recent survey has found that “18- to 30-year-olds are the most likely to have up to five months’ expenses saved up since they might have the benefit of lower expenses due to having roommates, living with their parents or being students.” Your college years can be an ideal time to create and build your emergency savings.

If you’re not sure how to start saving for an emergency, here’s a crash course in what to look for:

  • Prioritize your spendingneeds come before wants. If going without something could cause you physical pain or injury (like water, shelter, food, medications or proper clothing), then it’s probably a need. If you could get by without it, it’s likely a want.
  • Analyze areas of opportunityidentify ways you can save. If you cut out a $4 beverage or snack just once a week, you could save over $200 a year.
  • Save extra moneyturn birthday money into a rainy day fund. If you don’t have regular income, putting away gift money or profit you make off selling unused items can help start your emergency fund.

Getting Through Tough Financial Times is a resource developed by University of Illinois Extension to help individuals and families weather financial storms. This site provides information on spending habits, managing finances, and smart savings strategies.

Written by Sheri Williamson and Andrea Pellegrini, University of Illinois USFSCO Student Money Management Center