6 Steps to Avoid Holiday Overspending

cropped santa-banksyOverspending during the holiday season is something all of us have probably experienced. Buying gifts, throwing parties, traveling to see family members, and all the other expenses that come with the holidays make it easy to lose track of your budget goals and finances. Don’t let the holiday season put you in debt! Here are 6 easy steps to follow to make sure you aren’t over-spending this season.

  1. Have Set Limits
Going into the holiday season, make sure you already have set spending limits. Know how much you can afford to spend on each person and find gifts that fit into that budget. Having these limits set ahead of time will help you avoid over-spending while you’re out shopping.
  1. Focus on what’s important
Don’t attempt to do it all. The holidays aren’t a competition. They are a time to be with friends and family, enjoy each other’s company. Don’t get caught up in “who gives the best gift” or “who throws the best holiday party.” Know what is important and what isn’t and don’t get distracted by the things that don’t really matter.
  1. Have a potluck
If you’re planning on throwing any sort of holiday party, opt for a potluck. Suggest everyone bring their favorite holiday dish, that way, you don’t have to go broke trying to buy enough food for everyone and you get to try an assortment of different foods.
  1. Plan your travels in advance
If you know you’re going to be traveling for the holidays make sure to buy your plane ticket well in advance. Last minute ticket prices around the holidays can be outrageous. If you and your family aren’t opposed to the idea, try flying on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. Flying on the actual holiday is usually much more affordable.
  1. Look for shopping deals
A popular time to shop for the holidays is Black Friday. Although there are often many great deals you can find with Black Friday shopping, there are plenty of other deals to be found throughout the holiday season. Keep an eye on some of your favorite store’s ads or websites to be in the loop with all of the deals they offer. Bargain shopping is always a great money saver, especially around the holidays.
  1. Make your own gifts
Making your own gifts is always a really personal touch that anyone would appreciate. Not only is a homemade gift more personal and sentimental, it’s often much cheaper to make your own gifts instead of buying them. Time to let your creativity flow! Design a bookmark, knit a scarf, or bake some cookies. All of these are nice ways to show someone you care during the holiday season.   The holidays can be rough on your wallet. Don’t let them! Take time to appreciate what the holiday season is all about. Don’t get lost in the glamor of consumerism. It isn’t all about the gifts and parties, but rather, spending time with the ones you love. Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a wonderful holiday season without going broke in the process.

8 Ways to Eat Right on a Budget

8 Ways to Eat Right on a Budget  Eating right isn't always easy, especially on a college budget. As a student, you're most likely not in the position to be able to afford to buy all of your groceries at Whole foods. Your schedule is busy, making it hard to go 'all out" when preparing a meal. Usually, something quick and easy is preferred. This can make eating healthy seem really difficult. However, that isn't the case. Here are 8 easy tips to eating healthy and not going broke in the process.
  1. Make a list: Making a list before grocery shopping can help you stay on track and only get the things you need, instead of wandering through the aisles being tempted by all the junk food. Make your list and stick to it! It'll make the whole grocery shopping process go much smoother.
  2. Don't buy junk food: Junk food can be really tempting. It's usually cheap and easy to prepare, making it tempting for students on a budget. Don't give in! If you don't buy it, you can't eat it. Try to stay out of those aisles at the grocery store; it'll make buying junk food less tempting.
  3. Dairy: Dairy is cheap and filling while also giving you the calcium you need. I suggest getting some yogurt and adding some fresh fruit or granola to it. Not only is this a healthy meal option, but it tastes good too and stays within your budget.
  4. Buy plain foods: When you buy things like plain chicken or tofu it's cheap and you can add any seasonings you want. You can choose how you want to cook it too! There's baking, broiling, searing, and so on. Just avoid frying your food, that's never healthy. Chicken is the best quality meat that also won't break the bank, so it's usually always a good option. Buying plain foods can be a cheap way to eat healthy and add your own flavor.
  5. Fruits and veggies: Fresh fruit can definitely be expensive. In my experience, I've found that Sprouts is a great option for cheap produce. Go for things like apples, oranges, and bananas. they tend to be cheaper than other fruits and can be used in dishes as well as eaten on their own. Veggies are always pretty cheap. Things like celery and peanut butter or cucumber slices with a little bit of pepper can be a really yummy snack that's easy and cheap. Carrots, green bell peppers, spinach, green beans, and broccoli are all cheap vegetables that are really good to add to your dishes or eat on their own.
  6. Water, water, water: Try avoiding sugary drinks like soda or juice. These has loads of unnecessary calories that you could easily avoid by just drinking water. Water is free and there's nothing better you could put in your body. Thankfully, living in Colorado we are lucky to have some of the best tap water available. If you still feel weird about drinking water from the sink, invest in a water filter. You can usually find them for less than $20 and they'll last you a long time.
  7. Get a recipe book: You can usually find recipe books for pretty cheap. Check out a second-hand bookstore or Goodwill! Having a cookbook can be really helpful when you can't figure out what to make. There are tons of healthy recipes you can try out and see what you like.
  8. NEVER go shopping hungry: One of the worst things you could do when trying to stay on a food budget is to go shopping when you're hungry. When you go shopping hungry you often end up buying things you don't even want or won't end up eating, and you end up buying way more than you actually need.5. Fruits and Veggies
You can make healthy eating on a budget happen! It may seem daunting, but following these 8 steps will show you just how easy it can be.

5 Reasons Why Time Is Money

5 Reasons Why Time Is MoneyAs you are setting your clocks back an hour this Sunday, remember that time is always money, although you may not realize it. The way you spend your time directly affects your money and spending habits. If you spend your time the right way you could increase your wealth! But if you are wasteful of your time you may also be wasting your money. Here are five simple reasons why your time is your money, and what you can do to make both of those go further.
  1. Productive Time vs. Unproductive Time: If you have goals to pay off debt or save for the future, it’s worth assessing if you’re spending your time in the most productive way. Unproductive time definitely isn’t making you money, and depending on what you’re doing, could be costing you. When you spend time wisely and productively, it grants you the opportunity to further your income and more strategically budget and spend your money.
  2. The Beauty of Compound Interest: Compound interest is one of the best ways to develop a long-term savings. It can be thought of as “interest on interest.” This type of interest makes your deposit grow at a faster rate than simple interest. The power of compound interest is that you are investing earnings on an investment back into that investment. This clearly shows that you don't need to be rich to invest and make money. You just need to be persistent about saving and have the patience to let it grow. Start a savings account that gains a compound interest today! Several years down the road when you see how much money you’ve earned just from compound interest, you’ll be happy you did.
  3. Time Catches Up with You: Before you know it, you’ll be graduating college and it’ll be time to start paying off those loans and support yourself. If you aren’t prepared for the real world and how to successfully manage your money you could be in real trouble. Time keeps moving and it’s important to keep yourself prepared for what’s coming next so you can always make the most of your money.
  4. Fees, fees, and more fees!: Late fees are everywhere. If you don’t pay your phone bill, car insurance, tuition, etc. you’ll be charged a late fee. These fees add up and if you’re frequently late on payments you could end up putting a significant amount of your money into paying all of those late fees. Avoid paying any of your bills late. Be on time with your payments because the more time you wait, the more money you’ll owe.
  5. Spending Your Time vs. Spending Your Money: Begin looking at your time as a commodity. Each hour of your day can be given a monetary value. When doing this, you realize just how much money is wasted through wasting time. For example, housework. Is it more practical for you to spend the entire day cleaning your apartment or house when you could instead, pay someone to do it and spend the day working on a job or homework? It’s important to know your availability and evaluate your time.
    When you’re falling back an hour this Sunday, make sure you aren’t falling off the budgeting wagon. Make the most of your time and your money! In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Start managing your money more wisely today. Develop a budget, start saving, and prepare yourself for the future. It’ll pay off!  

6 Perks of Having a Part-Time Job While Going to School

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger  

Piggy with briefcase As a college student, there never seems to be enough money. Between tuition and books, rent and groceries, those late night coffee needs and adventures with your friends, checking your bank account can become painful. One of the best things you can do as a student is to find a part-time job. CU Boulder offers thousands of on campus jobs for students. When working on campus you can be assured your job will work with your school schedule and you can often make your own hours. Having a part time job comes with tons of perks, here are just a few:

        1. Staying on top of college debt: Like many college students, I have student loans. Thinking about the interest my student loans are acquiring as I go through school is a pretty scary thought. One of the nice things about having a part-time job while in school is that you can start making regular interest payments. This way, when you graduate and have to begin paying off those loans, you won't have to pay the interest on top of that.

2. More Cash In Your Pocket:

It’s always nice to have spending money. Even if your parents give you money for living expenses, it’s probably just enough to get by. If you want some extra cash for clothes, trips with your friends, eating out, or other entertainment, you may find yourself struggling. Making your own money allows you the independence to be able to purchase those personal items without having to run to your parents to ask for money or getting yourself into even more debt with student credit cards. This is also a great way to start or add to a savings account.

3. Learn How to Manage Money

Managing your money is an important skill to learn sooner rather than later. As an adult it’s essential to have strong money management skills in order to avoid unnecessary spending and debt. Having a part time job in college gives you an opportunity to practice these money management skills while you’re still young. This way, by the time you graduate you’ll be a pro and ready for the real world (kind of…).

4. Experience in the Work Place

Having a part-time job while in college can give you valuable working experience. Often if you work on campus you can find a job working in an area that corresponds with your major. For example, as an English major, working as a student blogger has given me valuable job experience that relates directly with what I want to do when I graduate. It’s a great way to begin building a resume and a way to put yourself ahead of the competition in the workforce.

5. On-Campus Presence

If you have an on campus job this can be an excellent way to have a more prominent on-campus presence. You will have the opportunity to be more connected to what’s going on at school, while getting paid for it. This can be a great way to become more involved and meet new people!

6. Time Management

One of the most valuable skills you can possess is time management. With poor time management skills it becomes increasingly easy to get overwhelmed. The nice thing about having a job while going to school is that you learn quickly how to balance your time between classes, schoolwork, your job, and free time. This can ultimately help you be more productive in school and work, and keep you from scrambling to do piles of last minute work. In my experience, working my way through school has given me structure and the valuable tools to being more productive which will be useful for the rest of my life.
  Working while in school may not be for you, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Check either your MyCUinfo or local listings for hundreds of different job postings. Find something that looks interesting to you and go for it! Let the job hunting begin!

4 Tricks For Creating A Cheap DIY Halloween Costume

By Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger


It’s officially October, which means Halloween is just around the corner! If you’re like me you’ve probably already begun to yourself that age-old question, “What am I going to be this year?” If you’ve been thinking about buying an expensive Halloween costume, don’t! There are plenty of costumes you can throw together and make your own that’ll be much cheaper than buying one. For college students on a budget, making your own costume instead of buying an over-priced one at the store can be a big savings. Use some creativity (and have plenty of fun in the process), and come up with your own unique Halloween creation!

Here are 4 tricks for coming up with the perfect Halloween costume without breaking the bank.

1. Find Out What You Already Have

Dig through your closet to see what you might have lying around. Some old, torn jeans and a worn-out flannel could be the beginning of an epic zombie costume! Don’t rush out to buy things before checking out what you already have. You’ll be surprised what you find. There may be some clothes you forgot you even had.

 2. Thrift Stores

If you’re looking for some cheap materials to help you create the ultimate DIY Halloween costume, be sure to check out some thrift stores. Goodwill, for example, is a great place to pick up any items you may need to complete your look. They have every type of clothing and accessory imaginable. Often times, during October Goodwill will have a Halloween section with a lot of the same things you would find in the pricey Halloween stores, but for a much more affordable price.

3. Collaborate With Friends

Ask your friends what they’re doing for Halloween. Maybe you can collaborate on a fun group costume! A classic example of this would be you and your friends going as the mystery gang from Scooby Doo. When you do a group costume, you can borrow clothes from each other, split costs, and shop around to find the cheapest deals. This can often times prove to be cheaper and more fun than trying to come up with and make a costume on your own.

4. Stick To Your Skill Level

When making your own Halloween costume, don’t try to tackle an elaborate idea if you know you don’t have the skill level to make it. Halloween should be fun, not stressful! Making your costume should be easy and enjoyable to do. When you try to accomplish a project without the skill level to do so, you could end up wasting a lot of materials. So save your money and frustration and stick to a costume that you know you can conquer! If you’re struggling to decide what you want to be this year check out this website for 99 cheap and easy Halloween costume ideas! http://livingonthecheap.com/cheap-easy-halloween-costumes/
Keep in mind, some costumes could be seen as offensive and hurtful by perpetuating cultural stereotypes. CU has a campaign called, "We're a culture, not a costume" which reminds students that some costumes can negatively impact people and cultures that are valued members of our community. Please consider this while coming up with and creating your costume!   Good luck and happy creating!