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

14 Starbucks hacks that will save you money!

Below are seven ways you can save on your next Starbucks run!


1. Get Creative

Don’t limit yourself to the standard drinks. There are plenty of options that are well under $4, such as iced coffee. If you think that spending less means boring drinks, think again. Check out some the most creative Starbucks mystery menu concoctions under $3.

And if you must go the latte route, try the caffe misto, which is made of of half coffee and half milk. It is not only cheaper, but also has less calories!

Speaking of getting creative, you can score yourself a cheap “iced latte” if you order a triple espresso over ice in a Venti cup. Head on over to the condiment area to fill up your cup with milk.


2. Refills

Refills For 50 Cents

Sometimes one cup just doesn’t cut it. Any time throughout the day and on any size, you can refill your cup with brewed coffee for just 50 cents during the same visit. Not a bad price for an extra pick-me-up.

More specifics on refills:

  • They have to be either hot coffee, iced coffee, hot tea, or iced tea.
  • You can get a refill even if your original drink was not one of the ones mentioned above.


3. Bring you own cup

You’ll save 10 cents on the price of your drink when you bring in your own reusable cup, mug, or travel tumbler.


4. Ask for no water

Ask For “No Water” With Your Tea

According to one barista on Quora, “Iced Teas are double-strength in pitcher and watered down for your final recipe.”

To get more a bang for a buck, request “no water” with your tea, and it won’t be watered down.


5. Get a Starbucks card

If you’re a frequent Starbucks customer, there’s no reason not to get a Starbucks Card. At no cost to you, a registered card will get you lots of freebies. Here’s what you can expect:

Welcome level (which you attain after using your card once)

  • Free drink or food on your birthday

Green level (which you attain after using your card five times)

  • Free refills in store
  • Welcome level rewards
  • Specialized email offers

Gold level (which you attain after using your card 30 times in 12 months)

  • Free drink or food reward after every 12 purchases
  • Welcome and green level rewards
  • Personalized offers and coupons
  • Personalized gold card


6. Order a short

There’s an even smaller size than “tall,” and it’s called “short.” It’s smaller than a “tall,” but it’s also less expensive. The “short” cappuccino, will have the same amount of espresso as the as its “tall” version.

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Dont waste your financial aid refund

Here are three things you shouldn’t do to make the most of your financial aid refund.

1.   Treating the refund check like it’s free money.

Get in the mindset that this is a loan instead of free money. The best way to do this is to sit down with a financial aid officer and discuss future student loan payments for the amount you borrowed so far and compare it a post graduation salary.


2.  Not budgeting from the start

Student loan refund checks are supposed to be for basic college expenses such as textbooks. At the beginning of the semester, students should develop a budget. There are plenty of people on campus who can help students think about needs versus wants within their budget. Some colleges have peer counselors for budgeting in a student money management office. Others, will help students in the financial aid office. Credit unions on campus are also a great place to get help.


3. Skipping part-time work because the student loan refund check covers expenses

The main goal of college is for students to become employable post-graduation. Even if a student had no need for the money, a near impossibility, having some work experience is a big part of the employability equation. Career services counselors can help a student make sure the jobs they can take on will help them towards their post graduation careers. The other bonus to part-time work is college should also be a fun experience. If working part-time, set aside part of the money earned for trips home, going out with friends or new electronics. Missouri State offers many Work-Study options on campus. If your FAFSA award letter says you are eligible, you can begin searching for part time student employment on the Missouri State website.

The downside of part-time work should never be lower grades. Before taking on a part-time job, students should talk to their professors about how much time is expected to be spent studying and working on projects outside of class. Then students can work out how much of their time budget is available each semester.

And what do students do with the money left over from their student loan refund check if they end up not using part of it? Save it and then borrow less the following year. One year’s student loan refund check leftovers can also serve as a student’s emergency account in case of unexpected expenses. What way the money is spent or saved, the main goal is that students are aware that this money will have to paid back with interest.

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Inexpensive Things You Can Do Over The Summer!

 We don’t have much time before summer break sneaks up on us. So before the summer arrives, here are some great activities you can do by yourself or with friends. They are inexpensive, fun, and will cure any boredom you might have this summer.


1. Get in shape with a friend: It’s been proven that people who have a workout partner are the ones who stick to their goals, so burn those calories together! Make a goal, and when you meet it, treat yourself!


2.Teach yourself how to cook: Find a simple recipe and have fun in the kitchen. Tell your family you’ll prepare dinner and have them taste your creation. This also allows time for family bonding.


3.Cool off with some fun water activities: Find a pool and jump in, have a water balloon fight, get water guns and have a blast!


4. Go Geocaching: If you haven’t heard of Geocaching, it’s basically a treasure hunt using GPS. You go to the website www.geocaching.com and enter your zip code to find little treasures that people have hidden in the area. Once you locate their treasure, you replace it with a new treasure and write about your experience on the website!


5. Learn about a different culture:  Learn a different language, watch a movie from a different country, look online and learn about any cultural festivals. Attend them!


Most importantly, remember to have fun!

(…and feed the pig!!!)

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How To Save For Summer Vacation!


Summer is swiftly approaching, and after spring break you might be concerned about how your funds look. Here are some ways you can start saving money for summer vacation now:

  1. No more big spending – You’ve already had a blast on spring break so put the debit card or credit card to rest. I’m not saying don’t have any fun, but really think about purchases long term before making them.
  2. Cook at home- Eating at home can save you tons of money. You may think, “But it’s only from the dollar menu!” Don’t be fooled. Those items add up!
  3. Put money in your savings account – It never hurts to have one. If you make weekly contributions you’ll definitely see the numbers grow.
  4. Pre-Plan – Budgeting how much you can spend weekly will also help you save! Get in to the habit of making lists… then buy only what you need.
  5.  Make use of budgeting and saving apps – There are great apps in the app store that can help you:  Mint Personal Finance, Ebates, and Smarty Pig to name a few.

If you have questions on saving, budgeting, or anything financially related, come see one of the Real LIFE counselors in Carrington 419

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Do You Know The answers?

Last semester Paris and I went around campus and asked a few of our fellow peers some financial aid related questions. Due to technical difficulties we weren’t able to post the video until now, but this is valuable information so we decided to post it anyway.  Take a look, Did they know they answers?

Watch the video and see!


The Answers!

1.  What is the priority deadline to apply for financial aid?

Answer: March 31st. This applies to the F.A.F.S.A to ensure your aid.

2. What grants, loans, and work study opportunities does this college offer?

Answer: Missouri State University students can obtain the Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan and Unsubsidized Stafford loan, the Pell grant, Parent plus Loan, Private with cosigner (fixed), Private with cosigner (Variable), Private (fixed),and Private (Variable) loans.  Missouri State also offers numerous work study jobs. In order to hold a Work Study job on campus you must have received Work Study through your Financial Aid Award Letter. Your award letter will say you received a Federal College Work Study Program and have a dollar amount. You cannot apply for work study positions unless this is on your award letter. You can receive more information on all of this in Carringtion Hall 101 or on the financial aid website http://www.missouristate.edu/FinancialAid/default.htm

3. How does the financial aid package change from year to year?

Answer:  The F.A.F.S.A determines your need-based financial package. Typically a change in your parents or your personal salary and assets will result in a change of need.If your family financial circumstances tend to stay the same then you won’t see much of a change.

4. What does F.A.F.S.A stand for?

Answer: Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

5.What are the average total costs for the first year at Missouri State University?

Answer:  For Missouri residents $15,234 | For Non- Missouri residents $21,816 and personal expenses will vary. The office of student financial aid estimates the cost of transportation, automobile maintenance, insurance, recreation, clothing and other personal expenses will average $3,915 per year for undergraduate students.

6. Does financial need have an effect on admission decisions?

Answer: No. Your acceptance is not affected by your financial need at Missouri State University.


We really hoped you enjoyed this video! Be prepared to see more videos from Real L.I.F.E in the near future! If you have any questions about any of the information in this video feel free to see any of out peer counselors in Carrington Room 419. We’d love to assist you!

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Financial Tips for your Winter Break!


Once again, as college students, we will have a full month off of school.  For some, this is a time to sit on the couch and annoy your parents with requests for more hot chocolate. For others, it’s an opportunity to be productive. Here are some ways to use your holiday time productively, and avoid being swallowed by the Couch Monster.


Make Money!

1.Get a job

If you enjoyed your summer employment, consider working there again this winter.  Otherwise, there are tons of seasonal and major-specific jobs that are available close to your hometown.

With the extra money you earn, you could start saving for an awesome spring break, pay cash for next semester’s textbooks, or even reduce the interest on your loan.


2. Look for scholarships

It would be a great time to complete Missouri State University’s General & Departmental scholarship form.  Otherwise, you could search for scholarships online.

3. Fill out the FAFSA

After January 1st  you can file the FAFSA for 2014.  In order to complete the FAFSA, visit fafsa.ed.gov and follow the on-screen directions.

4.Sell stuff online

Learn how to use Amazon.  It can be a great way to buy gifts.  Also, you could use it as an alternative to buy and sell your textbooks.


Save Money!

1. Make sure to prepare before you shop.  If your holiday shopping list is extensive, it is crucial to set a budget and stick to it.  Remember, this is supposed to be a happy season of giving.  Try to avoid debt and, if necessary, get creative with your holiday gifts.


2. Similar to the previous suggestion, it is important to stick to the budget and simply buy what you are intending to purchase.  Many stores attempt to entice individuals to overspend by offering special deals and discounts.  Avoid the traps of purchasing items for yourself, especially if it is out of your budget.


3. Are you a self-proclaimed shopaholic?  If so, it might be worth bringing a friend or other accountability partner that can help you avoid overspending.



Whether you need to meet scholarship requirements or just want to lend a helping hand, the holiday season is a wonderful time to volunteer.  Many organizations would love to have extra help collecting donations or possibly even offer some sort of future career-related volunteer opportunity.  If you are interested, try visiting volunteermatch.org or use a search engine as well as word of mouth to find an opportunity.



Speaking of scholarship requirements, don’t forget that your GPA might need to meet a relatively high standard.  Therefore, you could review some of the material you struggled with over the past semester or possibly start preparing for your spring classes.


Have Fun!

Remember that winter break is supposed to be a recovery period between semesters.  So, it would be wise to catch up on some sleep and just have fun.  Remember to enjoy the little things and continue to build strong relationships with friends and family.


Happy Holidays from MSU Real LIFE!

If you have any future money-related questions, feel free to contact the

MSU Real L.I.F.E. peer-financial counselors or visit them in Carrington 419.

-Daniel Senn

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5 Inexpensive Things To Do Over Winter Break!


Winter break is swiftly approaching! Because no one wants to be bored over this month-long period, here are some low-cost, fun ideas I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

1. Just as the picture shows you can play in the snow! You’re never too old for this. Grab some siblings, friends, or cousins and have a blast! Have a snowball fight, make snow angels, or build a fort. Use your imagination and go wild. It’s nice to take a step back into your childhood for a little while and most importantly . . . it’s FREE. 


2. Make S’mores! You can make the traditional kind with graham crackers, Chocolate Hershey Bars, and marshmallows OR you can make a new kind of s’more with the website provided below . . . (You’re welcome!) Or tell a few friends each to bring one part of the recipe and have a little s’mores party. For other fun s’mores recipes, visit http://spoonful.com/recipes/start-campfire-30-smores-recipes-make-indoors-and-out#carousel-id=photo-carousel&carousel-item=3\


3.  Holiday Movie Marathon! Watch your own movies or sit in front of the TV.  ABC family generally has a Christmas movie marathon counting down the 25 days of Christmas. You can do this alone or with friends or family, get some popcorn or some hot chocolate sit back and relax. After all it is winter BREAK, So take one!


4. Gingerbread House Competition!  My family and I have a great time doing this. They have gingerbread house kits at your local stores (i.e.: Walmart, Target, Costco) which aren’t too pricey. To make it even more of a competition everyone entering can put in a couple dollars and the winner takes all. You can also put a limit on the amount of time you have to decorate the house!  It’s easy, it’s fun, you spend time with family and friends AND it’s low cost.


5. Volunteer! It’s always nice to lend a helping hand to those in need. Good thing is you’re not in school and already in the giving spirit so helping someone less fortunate would be a great deed. No Need to buy anything, just bring yourself, your giving spirit, and your holiday joy and give back to your community.


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How Do I Complete My Student Loan Entrance Counseling?

slIf you have read about the best student loans, you know that Direct Federal student loans as well as Perkins Loans tend to be the most affordable loan options.  In order to obtain these funds, it is required to complete an entrance counseling program.  So, how do you complete entrance counseling?  Well, just follow the steps below.


Federal Stafford Loans (Direct Subsidized Loan & Direct Unsubsidized Loan)

  1. Go to StudentLoans.gov. (right click and open the link in a new tab/window)
  2. Click the Sign in button.
  3. Click the Complete Counseling link.
  4. Under the entrance counseling section, click the start button.
  5. On the next section, specify where to send your completion status.
    1. School State – Missouri
    2. School Name – Missouri State University
    3. Click notify this school
    4. Select student type – Select the undergraduate (a 4 year degree) or graduate degree (beyond undergraduate) if that is your current status.
  6. Make sure to complete the questions (personal questions can be estimates) on each section and READ the information.  There is lots of useful information on this form.
  7. Click the Continue button on the first 4 pages.
  8. On the last page, you should click the “Submit Counseling” button.
  9. Make sure to complete the Master Promissory Note (it’s where you found step 3).
  10. Go to my.missouristate.edu to check other requirements that must be met

(Click profile         financial aid          student requirements         aid year)


Perkins Entrance Counseling

  1. Go to the Missouri State University’s Perkins Entrance Counseling. (right click and open the link in a new tab/window)
  2. Make sure to complete the questions (personal questions can be estimates) on each section and READ the information.  There is lots of useful information on this form.
  3. Complete the borrowing information:
    1. Personal contact information
    2. Social Security Number
    3. Driver’s License Number
    4. Spouse & Parent contact information (If applicable)
    5. Contact information of 2 references.

i.      They must each have a different address.

ii.      They can’t reside at the same location of your spouse/parent.

  1. Click the “Submit Your Information” link.
  2. After the information is submitted, you will typically be notified by Missouri State University’s financial aid department within a week.  They will tell you where you need to go to sign your promissory note.
  3. Go to my.missouristate.edu to check other requirements that must be met

(Click profile         financial aid          student requirements         aid year)


After you have completed all the student requirements, the financial aid funds will generally be credited to your account within 3 business days or after the first week of classes (whichever one is later).

If you have any other questions, feel free to talk to one of the REAL L.I.F.E. peer financial counselors in Carrington 419.


Note:  ONLY BORROW THE MONEY YOU NEED!  Scholarships and grants are great alternatives that don’t require repayment!


Written By: Daniel Senn

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What are the best types of student loans?


Let’s face it, college is expensive.  Luckily, college students have a variety of options that will allow them to finance their education.  Of course, an ideal situation would be for college students to avoid debt completely by utilizing scholarships, grants, and personal funds.

Unfortunately, that scenario isn’t realistic for the majority of college students.  Therefore, they have the option to obtain a variety of federally funded and private student loans (these have to be repaid after graduation).  As you can imagine, you should take out the best student loans based on the ranked list below. So take a look, browse the possibilities.





 If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us in the

Real LIFE office in Carrington Room 419

-Daniel Senn


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10 Inexpensive Things to do with your friends!

Often times my friends and I want to have fun around town. Only problem is that sometimes money is short. So for days you want to do something but your funds won’t allow the more expensive activities I have 10 inexpensive activities you all can do at low cost!

  • Movie Night – pull out all your favorite movies and vote on the ones you all want to watch.


  • Game Night – board games anyone? If you live in the dorms you can rent them from your front desk, if you’re off campus you can buy them from Wal-Mart if you don’t already own them. My favorites are: Life, Sorry. Jenga and apples to apples. Just to name a few.


  • Karaoke Night – you don’t even need a real karaoke machine. Keyword: YOUTUBE. YouTube has all kinds of karaoke songs. Grab a brush (Your Mic) and have fun!


  • Make a Movie- You and your friends write a mini script, gather up some props from items you already own and grab your camera. You can edit it the way you like then watch it after!


  • Go to a Coffee House – Have a cup a small frappe with a group of friends and just converse among each other.


  • TV show Marathon – If you have Netflix or Hulu this is good for you. Pick a show you all like and watch season 1 until the end.


  • D.I.Y (Do it yourself) Day- Pintrest has loads of ideas you could make.


  • Workout- Someone bust out the Work out videos and workout in the living room. To make it competitive the person who lasts the longest can get some sort of prize.


  • Trivia night- Pick a couple categories, find some questions online, break up into teams and see who wins!


  • Potluck night – Everybody bring a dish and dig in!

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