Missouri State University
MSU Real L.I.F.E.
Literacy In Financing your Education

FAFSA Facts

Today, September 22nd, is the first official day of fall and October is quickly approaching. Fall brings beautiful colored leaves, hoodies, and pumpkin spice everything…and this year fall also brings a new filing date for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)!

The opening date to begin filling out the FAFSA has changed this year to October 1st. The new priority deadline is February 1st. If you submit your FAFSA before the priority deadline you become eligible for not only federal aid, but state-based aid (grants) as well!

These changes are for your benefit:FAFSA Process

  1. You will use taxes that are already completed, so you won’t have to esti
    mate your tax information and then go back into FAFSA to update it later.
  2. If you’re selected for verification, there will be more time to get the necessary documentation in, so there will not be any delayed disbursement due to incomplete documentation.

Tips for filling out the FAFSA:

  1. Double check your information before submitting: Go back through your personal information entered to make sure you didn’t forget or add a number on accident.
  2. Have all the required documents with you before beginning the application: Look into what information and documentation is required to fill out the FAFSA, so you’re not scrambling to find it mid-application.
  3. Allow yourself ample time to do the FAFSA: Don’t wait until the last minute to fill it out, because it does take some time to complete. Also, if you apply by the priority deadline you are then eligible for state-based aid in addition to federal-based aid.

Visit www.studentaid.ed.gov for additional information.

 

Created by: Nicole Lehman

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Fall, Football, and Financial Aid

Fall is upon us which means…

Hoodies, bonfires, and football!

 

What you may not realize regarding the upcoming financial aid dates, deadlines, and opportunities that take place this fall.

 

Here’s what to watch for: fall msu pic

  1. Payments: September 25th and October 25th are all the dates for this semester’s payments.
  2. FAFSA: October brings Halloween masks, horror movies, and candy…but don’t forget about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The 2017-18 application opens in October and closes March 31st.
  3. General & Department Scholarship Application for 2017-18: November brings midterms, turkey, and pumpkin pie, and the chance to receive free money for your education! Don’t miss the opportunity to apply. The deadline is March 1st, 2017.

You may be wondering how you will keep track of all these dates, deadlines, and opportunities and here are a few tips:

  1. Create a reminder in your cellphone.
  2. Purchase a planner from the bookstore that has these dates in it already OR buy your own planner and write down the dates inside.
  3. Write it down. If you’re not going to ever open your planner after purchasing one, because planners aren’t your thing, then write it down on a sticky note and put it somewhere where you’ll see it when it comes time to look at your financial aid status.

 

To learn more visit: http://www.missouristate.edu/financialaid/

 

Created by Nicole Lehman, Financial Literacy Ambassador, MoState Real LIFE.

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Financial Literacy Week Recap

Weren’t able to make it out to any events during Financial Literacy Week? You missed out on some great information, not to mention free food.

 

Here’s what you missed.

Monday

“What’s the Catch with Credit Cards?”

Amy Steele, Branch Manager at the Commerce Bank in the Plaster Student Union, gave a presentation on the pros and cons of having a credit card. She answered questions such as “Why is it important to build credit?” “What are some dangers of having a credit card?” and “What types of purchases should I use a credit card for?”

 

Wednesday

“Got Interest?”

Dr. James Philpot, Director of the Financial Planning Program at Missouri State, gave insight in how to utilize compounding interest in order to invest money wisely and build wealth.

 

Thursday

“IDK: I Donut Know”

The Real L.I.F.E. staff set up shop in the Plaster Student Union to educate students on common financial aid questions and facts that many students may not know. Students were given a Krispy Kreme donut, as well as a sheet with many facts about financial aid.

 

Contact Us!

If you have questions or want to learn about any of the information you missed out on, stop by Carrington 419, email us at reallife.missouristate.edu, or give us a call at 417-836-3186.

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Saving For Spring Break

One of the best cures for the cold weather blues is looking forward to the next fun thing on the horizon. February will soon come to an end and March will begin, which can only mean one thing … Spring Break is around the corner!

spring break

If you are planning on traveling during Spring Break this year, it’s a good idea to plan ahead so that you have extra spending money. Check out this list of ways that you can cut your spending now so that you have plenty of cash come March.

 

 

Cut Out Unnecessary Spending

starbucks

A huge key to saving money is not spending money on things that you don’t really need! Distinguishing your true needs vs. wants is very crucial in doing so. Instead of grabbing Starbuck’s everyday before class, brew your own coffee at home and watch your money save up!

 

 

 

Get a Part-Time Job

 

student worker

 

Getting a job is not only beneficial for building your resume, it can also help put some extra money in your pockets during the semester. Take time out of your day to research jobs; most universities offer a variety of on-campus jobs. Other jobs like babysitting are also great ways to make money a few times out of your week.

 

 

 

 

Stick To Your Budget

When it comes to saving up for a specific event, it is crucial to create a budget that is realistic. Plan your week in advance and think about how much money you will need for things like necessities, groceries, snacks, and gas. The sooner you learn how to handle your money, the better! For more tips on how to create a realistic budget, check out this article Secrets to Creating a Successful Budget.

spring break

 

Avoid Eating Out Regularlyavoid eating out

Learn to cook your take out favorites right at home. Cooking for yourself means improving your culinary skills, eating healthier, and of course, saving money. If you live with roommates, you could have one day a week where one roommate prepares a meal for everyone else. If you do choose to go out to eat, try to limit yourself to only eating out every other week. Checkout apps like Groupon first, to look for coupons.

 

 

 

 

Split Travel Costs

airplane

 

Whether you decide to rent a beachfront condo or book a hotel room, spreading travel costs among a group can not only save everyone money, but also make the trip more fun. Booking flights and hotels in advance can decrease this cost even more as well. Splitting meals for special dinners while out of town is another great way to cut expenses even while on the trip. It’s the small things that can really make such a huge difference!

 

 

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How to Make a Budget… and Stick to It!

Budgeting.

Something that everybody “means” to do, but most it seems never actually get around to it. Budgets are not only a way to get out of debt, but also a way to stay out of debt.

Budget is a pretty common word that gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word budget is defined as: An amount of money available for spending that is based on a plan for how it will be spent; a plan used to decide the amount of money that can be spent and how it will be spent.

So let’s make a plan.

First, It’s important to have a goal in mind. In order to make an effective budget, the goal should be to control our spending so that our expenses are less than our income. In other words, we need to spend less money than what we make. We also need to decide what matters most to us. That way we can spend less on stuff that isn’t as important as other things.

Now that we have a goal in mind, we need to track our spending for a little while so we how-to-make-plan-for-the-freshman-yearknow where we are spending our money. This will be eye-opening. More than likely we’ll see that we are spending way too much on things that are unimportant. This can go from a week, to even a month. Write down all of the money you are bringing in, then after tracking spending, write down everything you have spent money on.

Once we track our spending for a little while, we can see where our money has been going so we can better control our spending. We can cut out areas in our spending that just isn’t necessary. Spending less on fast food, taking shorter showers to save water, clipping coupons. These are some easy ways to save a little bit of money and cut down on our spending.

If we decide what is more important to us to spend money on, we can make a budget. One of the most important things to do is to WRITE IT DOWN! Write down on paper where you are going to spend money and where you aren’t going to spend money.

So how do we stick to it?

Writinsticky-note2g it down is the first step. When you have a written budget, place it somewhere that you will see regularly. Somewhere right in front of your nose that you can’t help but to see every single day. If you are constantly reminded of your budget, it will be much harder to spend money on unnecessary stuff.

Another tip for sticking to a budget is use cash. Withdraw the amount of money that you have to spend, and don’t bring a debit or credit card along with you. This way, there is absolutely no way to overspend your money.

Finally, it’s important to have an accountability partner. This is somebody that you can tell about your commitment to stick to a budget, and their job is to hold you to that. Have them ask you questions about how your spending is going. The catch to having an accountability partner is that you have to tell the truth. If your accountability partner asks you about your spending and you lie about it, there’s nothing they can do.

So let’s recap

To make a budget we need to have a goal in mind, track our spending, and cut the areas where we are spending too much on unnecessary things. We need to make sure that we are making more money than we’re spending.

To stick to a budget we need to write it down, and put it right under our nose. We could also spend cash rather than a credit card, or have somebody to hold us accountable to sticking to our budget.

Follow these things and without a doubt you’ll be a successful budgeter in no time!

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5 Apps That Will Save You Money

As college students, we are always on the lookout for ways to save money (Okay, maybe you’re not always on the lookout, but you like saving a few dollars here and there). Real L.I.F.E. decided to help make your search a little bit easier. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite savings, and money management apps, that you can download right now!

Gas Buddy

gas buddy

Cost: Free

Download this app to find the cheapest gas prices near you. You can also report gas prices to help other people find cheap gas as well!

Ibotta

ibotta

Cost: Free

Ibotta partners with major retailers to offer rebates on everything from groceries and medicine to clothes and crafts. All you have to do is scan your receipt, and then receive a payment via PayPal or store gift card.

 

Rovertown

Rovertown

Cost: Free

The Rovertown app allows you to access discounts and offers exclusively available to college students. Don’t worry about bringing coupons or your student ID. All you need to do is display the discount offered by Rovertown on your phone.

Scholly

Scholly

Cost: $2.99

The Scholly App is designed for high school students, undergraduate students, and graduate students who are seeking financial help for their education. Scholly matches you with a list of scholarships that are targeted specifically for you. Makers of the app believe in quality over quantity. This means you will not be matched with scholarships that are not relevant to you.

 

Mint

mint

Cost: Free

Mint is an all in one money management app. If you are looking to better organize your finances, Mint is a great place to start. Users can pull all accounts into one place so that they can track spending, create a budget, and receive bill reminders.

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Show Your Wallet Some Love on Valentine’s Day

February is here and that can only mean one thing for lovebirds across the country… Valentine’s Day is near!

pic

A major problem with Valentine’s Day is that people can get so caught up in the hype that they make bad decisions with their money. But I’m here to tell you, that you don’t have to spend tons of money on Valentine’s Day to show your loved ones that you care.

Here are a few clever tips for making Valentine’s Day special without breaking the bank:

Groupon

If you don’t know about Groupon, you are missing an opportunity to save money on the activities and restaurants you already love and even experience new ones. Groupon offers a host of coupons and discounts exclusively for Valentine’s Day, as well as everyday discounts.

 

Be Creativecouple

Valentine’s Day is about spending time with those you love, not spending tons of money. A great way to cut back on spending is to use your creativity. This can be as simple as creating a hand-
made card, to going on a romantic walk if the weather permits, or to even having a candlelit dinner at home and cooking your loved one’s favorite dish at home instead of eating out. Valentine’s Day is only as expensive as you make it.

 

Deliver Your Own Flowers

Guys, if you’re buying flowers, a great way to save money is by going to your local farmer’s market or grocery store, buying flowers, and delivering them yourself. Delivering the flowers yourself adds a romantic touch that your date will love. Chivalry isn’t dead, so prove it.

 

Don’t let Valentine’s Day get the best of you. All of these resources are great ways to help you save money! What are some ways that you save money for Valentine’s Day? Comment and let us know!

 

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Spring Time in Springfield

Groundhog-Day-Phil-4Yesterday was Groundhog Day, meaning the beloved groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted whether there would be an early spring, or six more treacherous wintery weeks. Usually Phil isn’t quite ready to come out of his hibernation and calls for more winter. But this year a miracle happened. Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, which means we have an early spring!

Although this fun tradition may not always be entirely accurate, we have been lucky enough to have some warm, spring time weather in late January. This has brought us all into a spring time mood.

Spring time is great, but what about when you’re on a budget?

Here are a few fun things to do in spring on a budget.

1. Fun Acre

Mini golf. Batting cages. One acre of land. It’s literally the most fun acre there is.

At Fun Acre you can play 18 holes of mini golf for just $2.50. Bring some friends and play for bragging rights. You can also go to the batting cages and hit a few balls for only a quarter.

Fun Acre is a great price and is probably the most fun acre in all of Springfield.

Located at 2500 S. Campbell Ave.

2. Disc Golf

The fastest growing sport in America. And it’s completely FREE (After you buy a disc, of course). You can purchase a disc for fairly cheap at any sporting goods store, or on Amazon.

Disc golf is a great way to have fun for an hour or two and get some exercise while you’re at it.

There are many locations around Springfield including courses in Ozark, Nixa, and even one right on the campus of Evangel University.

To find the locations of disc golf courses in Springfield, visit dgcoursereview.com and search Springfield, MO.

3. Hiking

19(HDR)The Ozarks is home to some of the best hiking trails and scenery in the country. While some of these may not exactly be in Springfield, it’s still close enough to include in this list.

One of the most beautiful locations is Whitaker Point. There have been countless proposals here, and has been dubbed one of the “best places to get kissed.” Whitaker point is about a three mile hike.

Another worthwhile trail is The Goat Trail. This trail is a winding trail that leads to an unbelievable view (pictured). This is about a six mile hike.

Both of these beautiful hikes are located a little down south in the neighboring state of Arkansas. To save on gas money, grab a group of friends and car pool!

 

There you have it. Some of the best activities in the Springfield area that won’t cost you much at all.

Do you agree with this list? Comment and let us know some of your favorite spring time activities in the Springfield area.

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Out of Hock for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes all of the joy and merriment we have come to expect. This season also brings along the craziness of gift-buying. In all of the craziness it is easy to quickly feel overwhelmed and stressed out. It’s easy to fall into Holiday Hypnosis and spend way more than you expected. You don’t need a big bank account to show how big your heart is.

Here are a few money saving tips for this holiday season:

  • Don’t wait ’til the last minute. Give yourself some time to shop around and find the best deals. You don’t want to wait until  the day before that big family gathering to go out and find the perfect gift. The stores might not have what you were looking for, and you might end up spending way more than you had planned to compensate.7-ways-stick-holiday-budget-1-intro-lg
  • Create a holiday budget. And stick to it. A good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 1.5 percent of your annual income on the holidays. Try out this holiday budget planner to determine how much you should spend this holiday season. It might also be helpful to make a list of how much you want to spend on each person (just don’t let Mom find out you spent a little bit more on Dad).
  • Don’t buy things you can’t afford. Before you go ahead and comment “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” hear me out. It’s very tempting to go ahead and make purchases with a credit card, especially when stores offer savings for using the particular credit card for their store. It’s o.k. to do this, just make sure you have enough money to pay off the bill when it arrives. Don’t fall into Holiday Hypnosis and spend without checking your bank account.
  • Be Creative. A homemade gift can be a refreshing change from the typical store bought gift. It can also show how much a person means to you by the thought and effort that is put into creating something on your own. There are endless possibilities when it comes to creating your own gift. Here’s a list of DIY Gift ideas.fireplace-gas-logs-cleveland
  • Stay Inside. The holidays are all about spending time with family. Rather than going out and spending money on
    restaurants and other fun activities, spend some quality time at home. Put on some pj’s and watch a classic holiday film. Bring out your favorite board game. Make some hot chocolate and decorate cookies. There’s plenty of fun to be had inside the comfort of your own home.
  • Find Free Holiday Activities. If get stuffed up inside your home and insist on going out, find some free activities to do with the family. Drive around and see the holiday lights on the houses in your community, or go caroling in the neighborhood.
  • Donate Responsibly. The holidays are a time of giving, but don’t give away any money that you don’t have. Rather than donating money, donate clothes or food. Go through your closet and find old coats, or shoes, or any clothes that you don’t need and give to those in need. You can also donate cans of food to a local food bank.

It’s easy to stay on top of your spending for the holiday season, as long as you plan ahead. Don’t let the holidays get the best of you.

What are some ways that you save money for the holidays? Comment and let us know!

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Saving For a Rainy Day…

rainy day

We all need to save, but the reality is that many of us do not. Roughly half of Americans are saving 5% or less of their incomes, including 18% that are not saving anything, according to a survey from Bankrate.

So how can we stop this? Well there are tons of ways to start saving your money.

Here are just a few tips on how to start saving for a rainy day…

  • Save something, no matter how little.

            This has been a motto of mine for a while. I have always committed to saving something, no matter how big or small. You have to start somewhere.

rainy day

  • Keep it in a safe place

Of course, “rainy day savings” is just another name for an emergency fund. You want to be able to tap this money quickly. For that reason, save the money in accounts that pay a little interest but are safe, liquid, and unlikely to suddenly and dramatically rise or fall in value.

  • Eliminate unnecessary expenses.

Make adjustments to your budget to eliminate unnecessary expenses that may prevent you from saving. This may require cutting some expenses and saying “no” to some items until your savings have grown.

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