Happy Fall Semester!

Today marks the start of the fall 2016 semester! We had a very busy week last week welcoming new students to campus and welcoming back returning students. We got to present 14 workshops and attend 5 booth events where we told students about SMMC services and gave out free prizes. Some of the events we were at included:

-RA & RD training
-First Husker
-New Graduate Student Welcome Fair
-New International Student Orientation
-Fraternity New Member Summit
-Party at the Union
-Big Red Welcome Street Festival

If you didn’t get to play plinko and get free stuff from us last week, come find us at the East Campus Welcome Back Fair this Thursday from 4:30-7:00 pm outside the East Campus Union. To keep up with the events that we will be at, check out http://www.unl.edu/smmc/events.shtml

It was so much fun to be able to give almost 2600 students money management tips before the semester even began! If you have an event that you would like us to attend, please contact us at smmc@unl.edu or 402-472-9093.

5 Tips For Shopping at Aldi

Last week, I had my first experience shopping at Aldi, a global discount supermarket chain.  I’ve heard my friends and family rave again and again how much they saved shopping at Aldi, and I finally decided to give it a try.  I wasn’t disappointed – I probably saved a third or more than if I had gone to a traditional grocery store.

What makes Aldi special?  They cut costs in almost every way possible to pass the savings onto you.  Here’s what you’ll need to do for a successful Aldi experience:

1)  Forget Brand Names
Most of the items in the store were not popular brand names you may be used to buying.  Aldi sells a majority of private label items, which is cheaper for the company and thus, the customer.  So far, everything “off-brand” I’ve purchased tastes just as good as the major brand names!

2)  Bring a Quarter
You’ll have to deposit a quarter in order to use a shopping cart.  This reduces costs because the store doesn’t have to pay someone to collect shopping carts all day.  You get your quarter back when you’re done shopping and put your cart away with the others.

3)  Supply Your Own Bags
To save on bags, customers must bring their own bag or pay a very small price for paper or plastic.  Personally, I bought my own reusable bag from Aldi, which I recommend because it was large enough to fit all my groceries.  You must bag your own groceries as well.

4) Expect No Frills
Aldi is definitely not arranged like a regular grocery store.  Items are displayed in boxes, not shelves, as this is more efficient for restocking.  The store is much smaller in size than other grocers, and don’t expect to find an excess of workers available.

5)  Prepare For Multiple Trips
If you have a lengthy and specific grocery list, don’t expect to find everything. Aldi typically carries only the most popular grocery items (out of my list of 20 items Aldi carried 15 of them). You may have to run to another grocery store, but don’t let this turn you away. The savings are definitely worth the trip!

Post written by Amanda Owens, SMMC Program Assistant

Build Your Resume! Volunteer with SMMC

Are you looking for an on-campus volunteer opportunity that is diverse, flexible, and resume-enhancing?  Check out the many opportunities we offer at the Student Money Management Center!
No matter what your strongest talents and abilities are, we likely have something that showcases yours!  If you’re a people-person, you can represent us at various booth events around campus.  Enjoy public speaking?  We give numerous presentations to a wide variety of groups on campus every month.  Is writing more your style? You can write blog posts for us on any financial topic as well.

No matter what your schedule is like, we can work with you!  We book presentations anytime from the early morning to late at night.  There are also plenty of tasks you can work on on your own time, like finding articles for social media posts or designing bulletin boards.  You also don’t need to commit to a specific amount of hours, just let us know what you can handle.
If you’re currently studying finance or any other business-related field, this is a great addition to your resume.  But if you’re not studying business, don’t worry! Volunteers go through training, so don’t worry about how much you know now.  Volunteering with us can enhance your writing and public speaking skills as well.  And who knows?  Maybe you’ll find a passion for personal finance which will lead to a career!
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, you can:

Post written by Amanda Owens, SMMC Program Assistant

Back to School on a Budget

Back to school: whether you dread or look forward to it, it’s an inevitable endeavor we all must face.  Unfortunately, the start of another school year means there are additional expenses to plan for.  Here are our top tips for saving as much as possible.

1.  Learn to cook ASAP!
If you have a little extra time during the summer, take time to learn how to cook to prepare yourself for the school year.  This is especially important for students living off campus for the first time.  Cooking your own meals is way cheaper than getting fast food every day, not to mention much healthier!

2.  Use your meal plan
For those of you still living on campus, take advantage of your meal plan.  In a recent survey, we found that UNL students spend about $300 a semester on eating out, even when they have a meal plan.  Remember: each time you eat out, you’re paying for two meals instead of one by not using your meal plan!

3.  Invest in a Coffee Maker
You may be in the routine of stopping at Starbucks every morning and grabbing coffee, but that expensive habit is costing more than you think.  For example, spending $4.25 on a grande cinnamon dolce latte 5 days per week adds up to over $1,100 a year.  Instead, buy your own coffee maker (many are under $100) and brew your own at home.

4.  Be Textbook Savvy
Textbooks might be the most despised back-to-school expense of them all.  Before buying a textbook, find out if you have friends in the class and offer to split the cost of the book and share it.  You also can check online and find a cheaper alternative-just make sure you’re buying the right edition.  If you really want to buy from the bookstore, try buying it used or renting your book.

5.  Find Free Events
UNL has tons of free events, especially during the beginning of the school year. You and your friends are probably going to look for stuff to do, and there’s no better place to look than on campus.  If you’re living in the dorms or suites, don’t pass up floor events.  They often have food, prizes, and you just might meet some of your closest friends.

6.  Don’t Slack!
Getting back into the ease of studying may be tough, but don’t let a couple of bad grades early in the semester put you at a disadvantage.  This tip might not save you money now, but it will help you prevent failing a class and having to take it over again, which will cost you hundreds of dollars.

Post written by Amanda Owens, SMMC Program Assistant

New Budgeting Worksheets Available

Here at the Student Money Management Center, we love budgeting! We think knowing how much you spend is essential before trying to create a debt repayment plan or saving for financial goals. Often times when people realize how much they are actually spending, they want to cut back. The best way to do that is to create a budget and stick to it. We have created 5 new budgeting worksheets that you can print off and fill out on your own. We suggest starting your budget on paper, and then you can always transfer it to a spreadsheet, app, etc. You are also welcome to schedule an appointment with us so that we can create a budget together! Here are our 5 budget worksheets:

  • On-Campus
  • Off-Campus
  • Off-Campus with spouse and/or kids
  • Alumni/Faculty/Staff
  • High School

Go to http://www.unl.edu/smmc/budgeting.shtml to download whichever budget worksheet fits you best. If you would like a little guidance on how to create your budget, check out our How to Start Budgeting handout or our 4-part How to Start Budgeting blog series, both of which can be found at http://www.unl.edu/smmc/budgeting.shtml  There is also a holiday spending worksheet to help you plan your spending around the holidays.

Happy Budgeting!

Free Financial Programs

Did you know that we link to a bunch of free financial programs on our website? You can use one of these programs to increase your money management knowledge, and they’re all free! Check out our list of interactive resources at http://www.unl.edu/smmc/interactive to find these programs and other tools like apps, calculators, games, and quizzes.

One of our favorites is Financial Avenue. Some of the courses that students can go through in Financial Avenue include College and Money, FAFSA, Loan Guidance, Earning Money, Debt and Repayment, and more! These courses include lots of videos and quizzes to test your knowledge. The best part is, you can pick and choose what courses you want to take, so you can focus on the areas that you need help on the most.

As always, if you have questions about our resources or want personalized help, stop by our office in room 237 of the City Union. We’re open 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday!

How to Nail a Job Interview

One of the most important things you can do in college to build your resume and gain new skills is to get a job or internship.  Make sure you are properly prepared for your job interview with these tips:

1. Do your research
Many interviewers ask questions such as, “What do you know about our company?” or “Why do you want to work here?” Make sure you know how to answer these questions.  This may require some internet research or asking around.

2.  Practice, practice, practice!
Just like in anything else in life, practice makes perfect.  You can practice with a friend, family member, or even better, a professional. We recommend meeting with a Career Advisor at Career Services here on campus to get the best feedback. For more information on Career Services interviewing help go to: http://www.unl.edu/careers/interviews

3.  Dress the part
It’s possible to overdress or under-dress for the interview; one is worse, but try to do neither.  Under-dressing is worse because it may come off that you don’t really care about getting the job.  On the other hand, some businesses are very casual, and dressing in a suit may be unnecessary.  Just make sure to research the company or ask someone you know that works there.

4.  Arrive early
It’s common sense show up early, but make sure you are absolutely sure that you have ample time to get to your interview.  Consider that you may run into bad traffic or construction, so leave even earlier than you think you need to.  Most experts suggest checking in with the receptionist 15 minutes early.

5. Make eye contact
From the time you first shake hands and throughout the entire interview, make sure you continually make solid eye contact.  If you are being interviewed by multiple people, make sure to make eye contact with all of them throughout the interview as well.

6. Prepare for the “tough” question
You may or may not be asked the infamous “What’s your greatest weakness?” question. When you answer, don’t actually pick your greatest weakness, instead opt for one that is either irrelevant to the job or one that is easily recoverable.  After you state your weakness, follow up with how you plan to overcome it.

7. Know your strengths
A job interview is one of the few occasions where it’s ok to talk yourself up! We recommend writing down your top five biggest strengths in order as you never know how many the interviewer will ask for.  It’s important to communicate how you are a great candidate for the job based on what the company has said they need through the job description for the position. Remember: be confident, not arrogant.

8. Have questions ready
You’re almost guaranteed to be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer, and the worst thing you can reply with is “no”!  Ask about job expectations, future opportunities, and the company’s goals.  You are being interviewed to see if you’re a good fit for the company.  Don’t forget to make sure the company is a good fit for you!
For more help with your job/internship search, check out the UNL Career Services website at http://www.unl.edu/careers/gain-experience

 Post written by Amanda Owens, SMMC Program Assistant