Creating Financial Goals

Many students who come into the Student Money Management Center want to save more or spend less, or both, but find themselves lacking the motivation to accomplish these things.  One of the easiest ways to motivate yourself is to set financial goals.  Students and everyone should have a variety of financial goals- some short-term, some mid-range, and some long-term.  A short-term goal could be to save up for a new laptop or a summer or fall break trip coming up in the next 6 months or so.  A mid-range goal could be to pay down $2,000 of your student loans before you graduate in a couple years.  A long-term goal could be to save up a down payment of $5,000 for a new car in five years or to have $10,000 in your retirement accounts by the time you’re 25.  Everyone needs goals with different time distances because not only do you need to stay motivated now, but you also need to always be looking forward to your financial future.

Now how does saving for and setting goals relate to spending less and budgeting?  They go hand in hand, actually.  The best way to motivate yourself to spend less on clothes or at the grocery store is to remind yourself that you are saving for something.  If you have no incentive to spend less except for the fact that you want to spend less, it can be hard to say no to yourself.

Next, make sure you have a plan for how you are going to achieve your financial goals.  Make sure your goals are realistic, first off.  If you want to go on a $1,000 trip after finals in May and you are only making a couple hundred dollars per month, it’s going to be hard to save up that much money in only a few weeks.  You need to plan out how much you need to save per month, or per week for shorter goals, so that you know how much you need to save/cut back on spending to actually achieve your goal.  Also identify how much of your current savings you are willing to put towards this goal.  It can also be helpful to determine at the beginning which budget categories you want to cut back on to save money for your financial goal.  Make saving for your goal a budget category in itself- and transfer the money out of your checking account into your savings account right after you get paid so you won’t even have the opportunity to spend it.  If you need help creating or planning for financial goals, come see us in room 237 of the City Union!

Red Letter Days

Did you know that the Student Money Management Center staffs a booth at all of the Red Letter Days that the Office of Admissions puts on each semester?  It’s true!  Red Letter Days are opportunities for prospective students and their parents to come visit UNL and learn about all of the services that we have to offer students here on campus.  In the afternoons on Red Letter Day, there is an information/browsing fair that students and parents can walk through at their leisure.  Many of the academic and non-academic departments at UNL are represented at the fair.  The Student Money Management Center has a booth at the information fairs so that prospective students and their parents can be familiar with SMMC services before they even start their academic career at UNL.  We want students to know from the moment that they are interested in UNL that the SMMC is available to them for free financial information and mentoring.  Did you also know that the SMMC’s services are available to students after they graduate too?  That’s right, SMMC services are available for free for all UNL alumni!  Just because you have graduated college doesn’t mean you will have your financial life all figured out.  You might have questions about student loan repayment, employee benefits, retirement planning, buying a house or car, and many other financial milestones.  We will still be here to answer all of your financial questions.  Give us a call at 402-472-9093 to get your questions answered!

Spring Break Money Tips

Only one more week until it is Spring Break for UNL students, and yes, the SMMC will be open during Spring Break! Of course, the best money tip we can give you is to come see us during break! 🙂 We are still running our March promotion where if you have a one-on-one appointment you can play our plinko game to automatically win a prize!! Schedule online now at https://unlsmmc.youcanbook.me/

The second best way to save money during Spring Break is to not go on a trip at all and instead work more hours.  Not only will you not be spending hundreds of dollars like your peers going on Spring Break trips, but you will be making more money.  Maybe you can’t afford a Spring Break trip right now, but you want to go on a trip this summer.  A great way to get a head start on saving for that trip is to work more during Spring Break.  You can also start savings for costs for next semester like books or tuition so you don’t have to take out so much in student loans.

Another way to save money during Spring Break is to go visit family close by instead of going to the beach.  You’ll probably get some free homemade meals and maybe the use of some laundry facilities! If you’re stressed from classes, going home to relax with family or having a staycation can be the best way to go.  It saves money and you get to forget about school for a few days.

If you are going on a trip for Spring Break, we have some money saving tips for you, too:

  • Take the bus or metro from the airport to your hotel instead of a cab or van service. They can get pricey!
  • Rent a bike while you’re there.  Don’t waste money on renting a car or taking cabs all the time!
  • Save some money on meals by going to a grocery store.  Get the ingredients to make sandwiches so you can eat in/have a picnic for a couple lunches.
  • Bring snacks and things to eat for breakfast. You don’t want to have to find an overpriced convenience store or get something from the hotel vending machine every time you’re hungry.
  • Bring suncreen, towels, bathing suits with you.  Tourist destinations often mark up the prices of these items because they know you’ll need them!
  • Don’t impulse buy souvenirs.  You don’t need to buy something for everyone you know. Pick a couple people and set a budget before you go shopping.
  • Bring your student id. You just might be able to get some extra discounts!

Nebraska College Preparatory Academy Presentations

We had the opportunity to present workshops to both the freshmen and sophomore classes of the Nebraska College Prep Academy the past couple of weeks.  They were definitely some of the most attentive students we have presented to this year!  We really enjoyed getting to meet these students and they had some great questions.

We got to present to the students on a variety of topics, including budgeting, credit, student loans, and a short overview on identity theft, insurance, and investing.  Students learned about why it is so important to budget, how your credit score impacts your life, what to look for when choosing a credit card, what to do if you get a student loan refund, how to prevent identity theft, and much more!

We also did a couple of fun activities with the students, including our budgeting activity and our money personality activity.  In our budgeting activity, the students had five minutes to decide how they would allocate their pretend $1000 income for their expenses for the month.  In our workshop we talked to the students about the difference between wants and needs and how they could determine what their wants and needs are.  We also discussed finding cheaper alternatives for their wants to save money and how to build a budget based on needs first.  For the activity, the students had to allocate their money between wants and needs such as rent, cable, cell phone bill, clothes, fast food, utilities, concert tickets, and more.  The students also got to find out their money personality and got personalized suggestions on how to improve their money management skills.

If your group or organization would like the SMMC to come present a workshop, please contact us at smmc@unl.edu or 402-472-9093.  A list of workshop topics can be found here.

Black Hills Lunch & Learn/ March Promotion

A few weeks ago, the Student Money Management Center had the opportunity to collaborate with the Office of Online & Distance Education.  We were able to travel to Black Hills Energy’s Lincoln office to present to their employees on the online degree opportunities available to them through UNL.  The Student Money Management Center was able to let these employees know that we would be a service available to them in their financial preparations before and during their return to school.  If your company is interested in having the Office of Online & Distance Education present a Lunch & Learn, here is their website: http://online.unl.edu/

March Promotion: We are excited to announce that we have a new promotion for March! Students who have a one-on-one money management mentoring appointment during the month of March will be able to play our new Plinko game to win free stuff! For more information, check out the front page of our website at: http://www.unl.edu/smmc/  You can schedule an appointment now at: https://unlsmmc.youcanbook.me/