Steps Toward Investing (Recorded Webinar)

Stocks, bonds, and IRAs – oh my!  Where should a young investor start? The recorded webinar, “Steps Toward Investing,” explores investment options and strategies. Learn about important investment concepts such as diversification, purchasing power risk, and market risk. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have your money grow; learn how to invest while you’re still young!

University of Illinois Extension, along with the University of Illinois’ Student Money Management Center, hosted the webinar “Steps Toward Investing” on November 11, 2014. The FREE webinar will focus on terms related to investing & the benefits of investing early. WatcSaving Badgeh it below!

This is a Saving Badge eligible program, so make sure to take the quiz after watching to get credit!

“Steps Toward Investing” is part of the Get $avvy: Grow Your Green Stuff webinar series. Don’t miss the next webinar, “Making the Most of Job Benefits,” on Tuesday, February 24, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. Register here.

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

How can I save and budget money while maintaining a love life in college?

Students often have had very little experience with budgeting by the time their first semester in college rolls around. It is most likely their first extended stay away from home, and they have the newly found responsibility of making their own financial decisions. College students may also start exploring new relationships and a potential love life once they reach campus. But how can students stick to a budget, save money, and maintain a love life all at once?

It may seem overwhelming at first but there are a few tips and guidelines that make the process much more manageable.

  • Consider free on-campus activities. The Illini Union Board hosts events such as movies on the quad, comedy shows, and trivia night. These free activities are perfect for a casual date or with a group of friends.
  • Keep it homemade. Most people would agree that making homemade meals for a significant other is a kind gesture. You can make them their favorite dish or entrée that they mentioned one time. It shows you listen, care, and will cost much less than a night out on the town.
  • Use daily deal coupons. Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial provide activity-based coupons. These coupons often come in the form of activities like cooking classes, zip lining, sporting events, and much more. These activities provide a relatively inexpensive way to venture out and try new activities in the surrounding area.
  • Try a new restaurant. Despite popular belief, it is possible to spend money and maintain a budget. However, it is important to keep the spending within reason and to limit the frequency of the spending. Want to try that new Thai place on campus with your study partner from biology class? Go for it! It’ll be a fun experience but make sure it doesn’t become a habit. The next date could potentially be one of the three previously mentioned activities. See what I’m getting at here?

The aforementioned tips provide ways to maintain a love life while sticking to a budget. It may be beneficial to allocate a certain percentage of income or spending money towards miscellaneous expenses (your love life expenses may fall under this umbrella). This way you will know how much you can and are willing to spend each month. In addition to budgeting for your love life, make sure to continue to budget for food, books, rent, and anything else that you will need on a monthly basis.

Written by Alex Hoffmann, Financial Wellness Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Online Expense Tracking

There are so many ways to track your expenses: traditional pen & paper, mobile apps, computer programs, envelopes, online apps, and many more. No matter which method you choose, tracking your expenses is key to maintaining your spending plan. How do you know if you’re sticking to your budget if you don’t know how much you’re spending? It’s also a great activity as you’re developing a spending plan, because it allows you to see what you actually spend on items and inform how you may need to re-prioritize your budget. You might be surprised where your money is going.

Tracking your expenses online is not only convenient but it’s less time consuming than more traditional methods. Thankfully, there are several different websites that offer free, high-quality expense tracking systems. LearnVest, Mint, and GoodBudget are three expense-tracking platforms that offer mobile applications as well. These websites make it easy for you to track what you spend, because they sync to your bank accounts, allowing you to see all of your expenses in one place. LearnVest offers step-by-step guidance and, for an extra fee, the option to work with a financial planner on creating a spending plan that can help you meet your financial goals. GoodBudget takes the traditional envelope budget system and transforms it into a virtual system – very helpful for those that do not wish to sync their accounts to an online system. Mint, a fan favorite, allows you to customize your budget and presents your data in an aesthetically pleasing way!

When choosing an online expense-tracking tool, consider these 3 things:

  • Security – Make sure that the tool you use, whether paid or free, uses bank-level security to protect your financial data. Install any updates ASAP to reduce security issues.
  • Usability – If you do not find the tool useful or don’t check it often, it’s not going to be helpful. Choose a tool that you feel comfortable navigating and will be motivated to use.
  • Lifestyle – Your budget, as well as the tools you use, revolves around your lifestyle. For example, if you have limited access to the internet, using internet apps might not work for you.

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to select a method that works for you and your lifestyle. For more information on expense tracking, check out this great resource from GetRichSlowly.

Written by Alex Ziskind and Andrea Pellegrini, University of Illinois USFSCO Student Money Management Center

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.