5 Reasons Why You Should Start Saving for Retirement Now

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger

I know what you are probably thinking, "I'm way to young to start saving for retirement." You're college students with your whole lives ahead of you, why start thinking about something so far down the road now? Well, the truth of the matter is that right now, time is on your side. It doesn't matter how much you put away, it could be as simple as five dollars a month. No matter how much it is, getting an early start on saving for retirement can only benefit you in the end.

Starting Early: Obviously, the earlier you start saving, the more money you will be able to save. Starting early with a retirement savings will help you through those rough patches where you really can't afford to save, job changes, and spares you the fear and stress of having to scramble to start saving when you're getting closer to nearing retirement.

Compound Interest: If you are saving your money in an account that gives you compound interest, you will have plenty of time to actually receive the benefits compound interest can offer.

Starting Good Habits: Beginning to save for retirement now can help you develop beneficial saving habits that you can carry with you throughout your life. Learning these habits now can help you avoid financial trouble in the future.

Preparation: If you start saving now, you'll already know what you need to do to continue to save for retirement once your graduate school and begin working. Not only are you saving, but you're learning at the same time.

Developing Good Credit: Using credit cards may not seem like a way to save for retirement but in the long run it does impact an individual's ability to contribute to a retirement account and/or to take other steps toward a financially secured retirement. If you have credit cards, use them wisely and make sure you make all payment on time and you will be helping yourself save for retirement.

None of us want to think about retirement right now. We're busy being students and trying to get our lives started, retirement is just a far off idea. Even so, whether we want to think about it or not, there will come a day where we are ready to retire and it's important to make sure you are prepared. All it takes is a little bit of saving now, and you could really help yourself out in the long run. Thinking about and planning for the future is always a good skill to have. So, begin saving now so when the time comes to head off to your cozy condo somewhere in Florida, you'll have the money to be able to have a relaxing and comfortable retirement.

Taking Advantage of Student Discounts

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger

I think it's safe to say we all enjoy saving money.  Especially as we make our way through college, we can find that at times money can be pretty tight.  But don't fear!  There are ways to save and make your money go farther.  One of the easiest, and often over-looked, is student discounts.  Almost every place you go, whether it be a store, restaurant, amusement park, and so on has some sort of student discount.  All you have to do is present your student ID for some major deals!  Here are some sites that can help guide you on what discounts are out there for you!

100 Stores with Student Discounts
This page is great because not only does it give you 100 different locations that offer student discounts but it also breaks them up into categories such as 'school supplies' or 'clothing.'

Ways to Save with Student Discounts
This is another awesome site that give you multiple companies that offer student discounts and what types of discounts those are.

Student ID Discounts via Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to look up student ID discounts.  The site is able to connect you with many other sites and sources of information.

10 Clothing Stores with Student Discounts You Didn't Know About
Here you can find all of the most popular clothing stores and their discounts listed.  This is perfect for us students who are trying to maintain a fashionable wardrobe on a small budget.  your student discount can save you a decent amount of money at any of these stores.

Some local places in Colorado that offer discounts for student ID's are The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, season passes at almost all the Colorado ski resorts, and admission to the Denver Art Museum.

Being a college student isn't cheap.  That's why it's important to know what places offer discounts so you aren't over-spending when you don't need to be.  Some of your favorite clothing stores or restaurants could offer student discounts of 10 or even 15 percent without you even knowing!  All you have to do is ask!

Stay in the loop with student discounts and you can save some serious money!

Which Budgeting Site is Best for You?

budget options

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger

Budgeting your finances can seem overwhelming. Especially as college students, worrying about finances is something new to many of us. When I first began college and had to start worrying how I’d pay for tuition, books, rent, food, and everything else that comes along with moving out and trying to be independent, I felt completely lost. More often than not, you don’t realize how important it is to keep track of your spending and how much money you have in the bank until an emergency happens, and you realize you haven’t really been budgeting at all. Catch yourself and start budgeting now before you run into financial trouble. Based on your lifestyle and spending habits one of these suggested sites may be the perfect budgeting site for you.

www.mint.com : Mint.com is a free, popular budgeting site that allows its users to view the big picture when it comes to their finances in an easy and accessible way. You are able to link all of your accounts to the site in order to keep track of your balance and spending patterns. There is a free downloadable app making mint.com easy to access wherever you are. Mint works great for those who enjoy being able to see their entire financial picture.

After reading about Mint.com I downloaded the app to see what it was like. I would definitely recommend this site for anyone who is new to budgeting their money. The site has a sleek design making it really easy to work with. They walk you through everything step by step so you aren’t confused and you know exactly what is going on with your money.

www.BudgetTracker.com : For those of you who don’t feel comfortable linking your bank accounts to a site or app, BudgetTracker is the perfect option. BudgetTracker allows you to manually enter account balances and transactions. You can schedule bill payments and get financial tips all without having to give any personal information. The site is simple and easy to use.

I read some reviews of BudgetTracker and saw nothing but great things being said. Although I haven’t personally used the site, this seems like a great option for anyone new to budgeting,

www.moneyright.com : Moneyright gives you advice on how to improve your finances. The site estimates your credit score and is even able to predict how long your money would last if you were to lose your job. This is great for people who really need guidance on how to manage their money properly.

I think Moneyright.com would be a great site to use in conjunction with something like Mint.com or another budgeting site. The site allows you to figure out the “what ifs” as well as giving you tips on how to avoid financial trouble.

www.yodlee.com : This site lets you track rewards programs and gives you details about your financial transactions.

This site is great to use if you’re the type of person who wants rewards for your spending. With Yodlee you’ll be up to date with all the different rewards programs companies have to offer.

www.levelmoney.com : Levelmoney gives you three simple budgets; one for the current day, one for the week, and one for the month. The site automatically updates spendable cash as you make purchases each day, providing a simple, real-time picture of how you’re doing.

Levelmoney is perfect for those who just can’t seem to set a budget for themselves. The site does all the hard work for you and updates as you spend. This is perfect for the over-spender in many of us.

www.estimize.com : This site gives you free estimates from large investors. Estimize crowdsources earnings and revenue for more than 900 companies from a community of over 17,000 users.

I would recommend this site to anyone who is interested in investing their money. This site will be a step by step guide that enables you to stay up to date with all your investments.

www.youneedabudget.com : YNAB 4 features Cloud Sync, making it easier than ever to stay focused on your budget and always up to date by staying in sync wherever there's an internet connection. You’re able to have all of your financial information at your fingertips. YNAB lets you create categories where you can set aside money for certain spending needs. For example, you can create a ‘car insurance’ category and set aside the money you will need to make that payment ahead of time.

I think this is a great site to use for anyone who is struggling to budget their money. It’s simple to use and can be accessed almost everywhere.

The best thing you can do when it comes to managing your money is to find a budgeting site that works best for you. It’s so difficult to try to save money or avoid overspending when you aren’t budgeting properly. By using a budgeting site, you can always be aware of your spending patterns, how your finances are looking, and what you need to improve on. For college students this can be a life saver!  By budgeting and managing your money properly you can make sure you are saving properly throughout school so that when graduation comes you aren’t looking at an empty bank account.

10 DIY Budget Friendly Summer Crafts

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger  

Follow CU Money Sense's board Summer Crafts on Pinterest.

  Now that school is out, many of us are finding ourselves with more free time than we’re used to. This is great, but in this downtime we often want to spend money. Whether it’s going to the movies, shopping at the mall, paying for amusement or water parks, summer can be a huge spending time. But don’t fear, there are ways to avoid over spending during summertime! Here are 10 inexpensive craft ideas that can turn any dull day into an exciting adventure into your own creativity, without breaking the bank!

1. Tin Can Lanterns Tin Can Lanterns are an adorable way to add lighting and décor to your backyard summer cookouts! These are affordable, being made out of old tin cans, and allow you to express your creativity by painting and designing fun patterns! All you need are: • Empty food or soup cans, cleaned out and labels removed
  • Water
  • Nail
  • Hammer
  • Scrap paper
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Spray paint (optional)
Simple enough, right?! You’ll then use these materials to punch holes along a pattern of your choice to turn the tins cans into beautiful lanterns! For more instructions on how to make these tin can lanterns, check out http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/tin-can-luminaries-149125

2. Cinder Blocks to Flower Garden Are there some cinder blocks lying around your garage or backyard? This is an awesome project that allows you to transform your old cinder blocks into a beautiful summertime garden! The process is easy. First, find a place in your backyard that you would like to place your cinder block flower garden. Next, let your creativity run wild! Decorate your cinder blocks however you’d like. You could paint them a solid color, or add designs and patterns! Whatever works for you. The last step is just to add the soil to the insides of your cinder blocks and planting your flowers! Easy peasy! For a tutorial visit http://jaynie2000.hubpages.com/hub/Cinder-Block-Gardens
  1. Bandana Quilt
Summer calls for picnics outside, BBQ’s, outdoor concerts/ festivals, and lying out by the pool. A bandana quilt is an easy and cheap way to turn your old bandanas into an awesome blanket to bring to any of your fun outdoor summer activities. What you’ll need is: 18 Bandannas (more or less depending how big you want the quilt)
  • Quilt Batting
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors, ruler, Basic sewing supplies
You’ll then sew the bandanas together to make a super fun summertime quilt! Go to http://www.scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com/2013/06/How-to-make-a-Bandana-Quilt.html for a step by step tutorial!
  1. Watermelon Mason jar
Mason jars are signature to summertime. They’re also REALLY cheap to buy. You can get them for sometimes as cheap as 50 cents! Watermelon painted mason jars are fun to make and can be a great addition to a BBQ or picnic. All you’ll need is a Mason jar and green, pink, and black paint! Follow this link for a step by step video guide on how to make your own Watermelon Mason Jar! http://www.thecountrychiccottage.net/2013/07/painted-watermelon-mason-jar-craft-plus.html
  1. Homemade Sprinkles Candle
Once again, mason jars to the rescue! This craft idea is also done using a mason jar, along with:
  • Pre-waxed wicks (I got a pack of 6, with the attachment already on the ends)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pencils, pens, or something similar to hold the wicks in place
  • Tape
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1-2 tbsp corn syrup
  • A small paintbrush or cloth
  • 1/2 cup rainbow jimmies (or similar colorful sprinkles)
  • 1 lb soy wax flakes (or old candles if using smaller jars)
What could be more fun than making your own candle?! Add some red, white, and blue sprinkles and your candle will be perfect for any 4th of July party! For a step by step guide check out: http://bethcakes.com/diy-funfetti-candles/
  1. Confetti Bowl I had never heard of this craft before, but it looks really simple to do and a lot of fun. What you’ll need is: -A Balloon -Mod Podge -Confetti -Sponge -Vase
All you have to do is inflate your balloon. One the balloon is inflated, add mod podge to half of it with your sponge. You’ll then cover the mod podge half in confetti and let it dry. Then pop the balloon and voilà! A Confetti Bowl! Check out http://www.vjuliet.com/2013/01/diy-confetti-bowl.html for a visual guide!
  1. DIY Painted Beach Ball This one is as simple as it gets. Buy yourself a clear beach ball and paint/decorate it however you want! You can get a clear beach ball for as cheap as $1.48 online. Check out https://www.beachballs.com/clear-beach-balls.asp
Just make sure if you’re going to be painting your beach ball and using it in the pool, paint it with water resistant paint!
  1. Homemade sunscreen Not only could this be a fun activity, but also really important as we get into the hot days of summer. By making your own sunscreen you avoid the hassle of having to go out and buy some while also protecting yourself from harmful UV rays. Here’s a tutorial on how to make your own sunscreen and what you’ll need: http://nourishingjoy.com/diy-homemade-roll-on-sunscreen-stick/?utm_content=buffer02e08&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  2. DIY Gel Air Fresheners this is a really exciting project because you get to make your own scent of air freshener. With it being summer, there are a lot of windows and doors being left open, letting all the smells from outside inside your house. These DIY air fresheners are cheap to make and will get rid of those outdoor smells! What you need is: 4 Envelopes of Gelatin (1 Box or 1 oz)
  • Food Coloring
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 2 Cups Distilled Water
  • Essential Oil or Oil Fragrance
  • Jar
(Stir stick, Large Measuring Cup or bowl, whisk, pot) Go to http://livingchiconthecheap.com/diy-gel-air-fresheners-spring-summer-scents/ for a full tutorial.

10. Homemade Banner If you’re having a BBQ or party at your house but can’t find a banner you like, you can make your own! Not only are you able to customize the banner however you’d like it, but it’s also really inexpensive! You can add your own designs or letters to create a banner customized to your party. Check out http://www.sohosonnet.com/crafts-and-diy/diy-birthday-parties/scrapbooking-paper-banner-sign/ for an awesome step by step guide to making your own personalized banner!

Summer doesn’t have to empty your wallet. There are plenty of fun, inexpensive crafts you can do! Even invite your friends over for a “craft day.” It’ll be a great way to bond with each other and have a good time without spending a ton of money. Enjoy!

Setting and Maintaining Financial Goals

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger


We all have ideas for how and what we’d like to spend our money on, but it’s not always easy to budget and maintain your finances. One of the most important things when it comes to finance is setting goals for yourself. When you have clear goals in mind that you are striving to accomplish it is much easier to stay on track with your finances. Through some simple steps, tips, and tools you too can save and manage your money wiser and accomplish your financial goals!

1.    Determine Your Goals

When determining your financial goals, it is important that you prioritize them into three different categories, short-term, mid-term, and long- term, based on importance and how long you have to save.
  • Short-term goals: These are the goals that you feel can be achieved within a relatively short amount of time, such as the purchase of household furniture or appliances, minor home improvements, saving for a car down payment, etc.
  • Mid-term goals: These are goals that you feel you can achieve within the next five years, such as having enough money for a down payment on a home, or beginning to pay off a car loan.
  • Long-term goals: these are the goals that will take you longer than five years to achieve. These goals are typically in hopes to prepare you for the more distant future. They include paying for your child’s college education, buying a new house or car, saving for your retirement, or paying off your debt.

2.    Figure Out Your “Why?”

Why is the particular financial goal your setting important to you? This is actually something I learned in school. In many of my education classes we are often asked to determine our “Why?” Why is what we’re doing important to us? Why are we passionate about education? I think this is a great thing to do in many circumstances, especially when managing your finances. When you understand why a certain financial goal is important to you and your life, and what you are hoping to gain from that financial goal, you are much more likely to stick to it and see the goal through.

3.    Financial Goal Worksheet

One of the best ways to stay on track with your finances in order to obtain your financial goals is by filling out and actively using a Financial Goal Worksheet. A Financial Goal Worksheet helps you identify what you plan to accomplish, the resources you will need to do so, the time needed to accomplish the goal, and how this goal fits into your overall budget and life. This worksheet will give you a visual, tangible representation of your goals that will help manage your budgeting and keep you motivated! Use this Financial Goal Worksheet to help you get started.

4.    Set a Goal Date and Monitor Your Progress

When setting a financial goal, it’s good to know around about when you’d like to achieve said goal. Having a goal date gives you a set time you’re working to as well as a set amount of time to get what you need to accomplish the goal done. As you go along, remember to monitor your progress. You’ll want to know how close to or far from your goal you are and what you need to do to continue on the right path. Monitoring your progress will enable you to stay on track and make the right decisions that will benefit your financial goal you’ve set!

Helpful Tips:

The following are some helpful tips that you should keep in mind when setting and working toward your financial goals.

  • Be realistic: Don’t set goals that would never be possible according to your budget. Also, make sure you have realistic time frames for your goals. Basically, don’t expect to be able to buy a house after only saving for 6 months.
  • Stay Motivated: It’s important to not lose motivation when working toward your financial goals. Life will always throw curve balls at you. It’s near impossible to make a plan and have everything go 100% smoothly. There are going to be bumps along the road, but if you stay passionate and motivated toward your goals you’re going to accomplish them.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself with goals: If you’re trying to accomplish too many things, you don’t have time to individually focus on any one goal and you’re much more likely to not be able to accomplish them. Make sure when you’re setting financial goals that you only set as many as you can successfully handle.
  • Be flexible: Sometimes life gets in the way and you may not be able to accomplish your financial goal in the amount of time you initially anticipated. Don’t let that get you down. Just remember to keep moving forward and know that even if you can’t accomplish your goals in the amount of time you wanted to, it can absolutely still be done!
  • Visualize and be specific: Don’t be generic on your goals. Have a vision for what you want to accomplish and work for that vision. As Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Tools and Resources:

A great way of keeping on track with a financial goal is knowing the tools you can use to help you along the way. Here is a list of some helpful resources you can use!

  • a separate savings account: One option is to set up a separate savings account for your specific financial goal. This way you can track how much you’ve saved for that specific goal more accurately.
  • www.mint.com: Mint is a great option if you want to link all of you financial accounts to one single platform. Mint allows you to stay organized, allows for easy budgeting, free credit scores, and investment tracking. According to the website, “See all your balances and transactions together. Mint automatically pulls all your financial information into one place, so you can finally get the entire picture.”
  • www.buxfer.com: Buxfer is another great site to manage your finances. Like Mint, Buxfer allows you to see all of you accounts in one place. You can upload bank statements or files as well as make money transfers to other accounts or family and friends. Their website states, “Buxfer helps you see all your accounts at one place, understand where your money goes, reduce unwanted spending, and save for future goals.”
  • www.levelmoney.com: This is an app that informs you of how much spendable money you have as you make purchases throughout the day. Level money lets you track and manage your spending so you can know what you have left to spend and what you need to save. They say, “Draw a straight line from everyday decisions to larger achievements and accomplish the things that matter.”
  • www.personalcapital.com: Personal Capital is a free software that helps you make better financial decisions. The software helps you invest smarter and manage your finances easier. According to their website, “See all your accounts in one place with our award-winning software. Our free tools let you manage your entire financial life from one secure place – so you can reach your goals faster.”

As a college student, I feel it’s important I set financial goals for myself. For example, each summer when I go home, I work and save my money so that when I return to Boulder in the Fall I’ll be able to pay the majority of my rent for the year. On the long-term side, I have a FDIC Money Market account which I occasionally will add money to. This gives me a savings I can build throughout college and have when I graduate. I know when I graduate I’m going to have loans I’ll have to start repaying, so I’m making sure I save as much money as I can now so when I graduate I’ll be able to start paying them off. I’m well aware that when I leave CU, real life is going to hit and it’s important I’m prepared!

Having financial goals is one of the best things you can do. When you have clear goals and a path you’re following to achieve them, you’re much less likely to make big money mistakes and your overall financial state will be better.  No matter what your budget is, you can always set goals. Just remember to be realistic, flexible, and motivated and you’re sure to succeed!

Good luck!