5 Fun (and Free) Fall Activities to do in Boulder

by Nicole Ryan, CU Student Blogger

 

Fall is fast approaching which means it’s time for cool air and crunchy leaves. Personally, fall is my favorite time of year. The cozy vibe set off my warm coffee and orange tinted skies never gets old. Whether fall is your favorite season, or you’re just looking for some excitement, grab your flannels and pumpkin spice latte because here are 5 fun and affordable fall activities you can do in Boulder!

 

  1. Boulder Farmers Market; Cost: Free

Located in Central Park on 13th Street between Canyon & Arapahoe, the Famers Market is a great place to pick up locally grown fruits, veggies, flowers, and plants. There are also unique crafts and gifts for you to check out.

The farmers market will be open every Saturday from now until November 28th. For more information check out: http://bcfm.org

 

  1. Open Studios Fall Artists Tour; Cost: Free

For 20 years Boulder has enjoyed the Fall Artists Tour. From October 3rd-4th and 10th-11th 125 local artists will open their studios and allow people to stop by and visit, ask questions, and purchase some art. This is free to anyone who wishes to stop by the studios. So, if you love art be sure to check it out!

Take a look at the website here: http://www.openstudios.org

 

  1. Cottonwood Farm Halloween Pumpkin Patch; Cost: Free

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from now until October 31st, Cottonwood Farm will be hosting a fall festival including a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, a straw bale maze, farm animals, a hay ride, and more! Everything is free of cost except the hay ride ($3) and if you choose to purchase a pumpkin.

Cottonwood Farm is located east of Boulder on 75th Street & Arapahoe Rd. Check out the website here: https://www.cottonwoodfarms.com

 

  1. Royal Arch Hike; Cost: Free

This hike takes you through the coniferous forest which proves to be especially beautiful during the fall. The Royal Arch is a gorgeous sight and from the arch you can see the entire city of Boulder. It’s the perfect fall hike, allowing you to see the changing colors of Boulder.

Follow this link for more information: http://www.protrails.com/trail/69/boulder-denver-golden-fort-collins-lyons-royal-arch

 

  1. Pearl Street Stampede; Cost: Free

Kick off the home football games the right way and stop by the Stampede on Pearl Street! Football games can be costly, but this awesome event is free for everyone. The stampede begins when the members of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band start performing at 7 p.m. on the 1300 block of Pearl Street. The stampede is lead by Stephen Tebo’s vintage 1948 fire truck.
Take a look at more information here: http://www.boulderdowntown.com/events/pearl-street-stampedes


 

You don’t have to go broke trying to have some fun this fall! There are plenty of cheap and free fall activities you can do all around Boulder. Whether it’s carving a pumpkin or going on a hike, take time to enjoy the simple things about fall.

I guarantee you’ll enjoy it!

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Setting and Maintaining Financial Goals

by Nicole Ryan, Student Blogger

goals

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!

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Spring Clean Your Finances

by Niomi Williams, Associate Program Director

Spring is here! Some people will be “spring cleaning” their living spaces, but we think you should also consider giving your finances a spring cleaning, as well! Here a five tips on how to clean up and organize your finances:

1. Check your credit report
Go to annualcreditreport.com and get your FREE credit report. Your report will contain previous address, loans, and any other accounts open in your name. If you see an account opened that you think may be in error, you will have the option to dispute it. It’s important to check your credit report routinely to check for identity theft or fraudulent activity (accounts opened in your name that you didn’t authorize). Note: when you enter your information to get your credit report, they will ask verification questions. Some of these questions are trick questions, such as “With which company did you have a mortgage with?” even if you’ve never had a mortgage. You would select “none of the above” option and continue answering the verification questions.

2. Create a financial to do list
A few things to include on your list:

  • create an emergency fund of at least $500-1,000; this money should only be used in an emergency
  • consider opening a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account); it’s never too early to start socking away money for retirement
  • calculate your net worth; your net worth are your assets (savings, car, stocks, jewelry, electronic equipment) minus your debts (student loans, car loan, credit card debt). You can calculate your net worth using our calculator.
  • pay any late fees and/or fines; don’t let parking tickets or library fines accumulate–the sooner you take care of them, the better.

3. Review next year’s financial aid package and/or you plan for paying for college
Students should start receiving their financial aid packages soon. Review these and make thoughtful decisions on how to pay for tuition and costs. Remember, you don’t need to accept everything that is offered. For example, if you’re offered a $10,000 federal student loan, but only need $5,500 to cover your out of pocket costs for college, then only accept $5,500, not the full amount offered. Additionally, try to find a few more scholarships to apply for and consider the new payment plan.

4. Plan for next year—roommates, housing, job, internship, etc.

  • If you’ll be living off-campus next year, you should have your housing and roommate situation pretty figured out by now. If not, it’s not too late! You can visit the Off-Campus Housing and Neighborhood Relations and they can help you find housing for next year.
  • For those students interested in studying abroad, make sure you plan for the semester you’ll be gone—you might need to find someone to sublease your place, find somewhere to store your stuff, and let your roommates know that you’ll be out of the country for awhile.
  • If you’ll be graduating within the next few semesters, make sure you’re doing everything you can to have a great resume. Along with good grades, consider volunteering or getting an internship, to make you a great future candidate for your dream job.
  • If you haven’t started a budget, now is a great time to start.

5. Clean your space
This one is simple: throw away papers you don’t need anymore, start selling unwanted items on Craigslist, buy a few plastic totes to store things in. Getting—and staying—organized will make your life much easier in the long run! You’ll be happy you did once May is here and it’s time to move.

spring cleaning

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10 Tips for New Graduates

If you’ve just graduated or will be in the next few semesters, check out the following of our Top 10 Tips for Graduates. Sometimes students are so busy interviewing, moving, and getting ready to enter the “real world” that they forget about their personal finances. Use our tips to help guide you along the way! Got questions? Our One-on-One Financial Coaching sessions are open to recent alumni, too!

10 Tips for New Graduates

  1. Count your benefits as part of your salary. What will your employer pay toward your health insurance, life insurance, and retirement? How much annual vacation and sick leave will you earn? Consider your entire compensation package, not just your monthly pay.
  2. Pay yourself first! Set up a direct transfer of $50 a month to a savings account or other investment and forget about it. It doesn’t matter what you save , just that you’re actually saving.
  3. Never miss a loan or credit card payment. Seriously, NEVER. Stay in touch with all of your creditors and lenders. Let them know when your address changes and never, EVER miss a payment.
  4. Don’t use credit cards to extend your income. If you can’t pay for it, save for it first. If you can’t do that, finish paying for one big purchase before making another big purchase. “No matter how much we consume, we never get closer to happiness; we only speed up the treadmill.” —James Roberts, author of Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy.
  5. Check your credit report annually. Obtain a free credit report only from www.annualcreditreport.com. If you have to pay for your credit report, you’re at the wrong site.
  6. Shred! Shred! Shred! You’re a new CU graduate with unlimited earning potential, so you’re going to get many credit card offers in the mail. Be wise about what you apply for and use a cross-cut shredder for the rest of them so your offers don’t get in the wrong hands.
  7. Keep important documents. Store all of your important documents in a file folder where you can easily and always find it. This includes loan information, apartment leases, insurance policies, tax forms, etc.
  8. Insurance is important. It won’t matter how much you save if you don’t have insurance in case you get hurt or if there’s an accident. Expenses from these tragedies can blow your savings and leave you with debt that can impact the rest of your life.
  9. Practice good money habits. Most people know how to manage their money well but they don’t always do it the way you might expect. Figure out your money mentality and what works best for you. When you feel in control of your money, you’ll feel more at peace.
  10. Ask questions! Starting your career as a young professional can be a confusing process. Ask for help when you need it. Many CU resources will continue to be available to alumni, such as Career Services and CU Money Sense.

 

University of Colorado at Boulder Spring Commencement ceremonies on May 9, 2008.

 

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