Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Saving money, investing in good habits

One thing I will admit to anyone who asks is that I’m not great with money. Sure, I have a little in my savings account right now, but that wasn’t always the case.

Take this past fall for example; in September alone I spent almost $600. Looking at that bank statement broke me to tears. How in the WORLD had I spent that much money? What could I possibly have spent it on? The answer: complete and utter nonsense.

Having a budget is a great way to keep yourself from wasting money and makes you feel a little guilty when you do. Through a lot of trial and error, I've created a simple way to chart my spending and even save some of the money I’m making.

Here’s how it works

Start by looking at your bank statement from the last month. Categorize your spending and write down how much money you spent in each category.

Create as many or as little categories as you want, don’t be afraid to be specific. Don’t forget to include any money you receive from your parents, working a job or taking out of your savings. I suggest making a chart that looks something like this:
  • Gas: $30 
  • Groceries: $50 
  • Going Out: $25 
  • Takeout: $15 
  • Coffee: $10 
  • Necessities (books, utilities etc.): $100 
  • Total money spent $230 
  • Total money received $250
Next, estimate how much money you will receive in a certain amount of time, whether it be monthly or bi-weekly. Add this amount to the bottom of your chart so you can keep track of the money you have leftover at the end of your set time period:
    Total money made: $250
Look at the list of categories from last month. Condense, remove and adjust these categories so they’re realistic to what you can afford. Do you really need to budget in a Marshalls trip every week? Probably not. Do you need groceries? Definitely.

Taking into account the money you’ve spent in these categories in the past, set a dollar limit that you’ll allow yourself to spend in each category. For example, if you spent $50 on groceries, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a little cushion, so set your limit to $70.

At the end of the time period, your chart should look something like this:
  • Gas: $15/$30 
  • Groceries: $70/$60 
  • Going Out: $10/$15 
  • Takeout: $5/$15 
  • Necessities: $100/$100 
  • Total money made $250 
  • Total money spent $200 
  • Total money leftover $75
With this budget in place, you should be able to save money and start good habits for when you graduate and have bills (and student loans) to pay. Get started early! If I could do one thing in my college career differently, it would be this.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Friday, January 26, 2018

Making the most of your last semester

All of my sorority sisters know that I am the friend that leaves a party as soon as I'm ready to leave. My roommate even calls me Houdini, because my classic move is being somewhere one moment and being in bed five minutes later.

Now that I'm in my last semester, I want to make the most of it. But with classes, an internship, a job and extracurricular obligations, I'm constantly struggling to live each moment to the fullest without spreading myself too thin.

Since the first week of senior year, I've been feeling the pressure to always say yes to things. "This is your last (fill in the blank), you HAVE to go", is something I hear almost daily. I've come up with a few tricks of the trade to cram in as much fun as possible without falling asleep in my classes the next day.

Do your work EARLY

One of the easiest things to do is get your work done ahead of time, yet since my first day as a Summer Freshman it has been one of the most difficult tasks. My advice is to take it one day at a time. No, you don't have to finish that project that's due in two weeks the day it's assigned. Focus on what's due tomorrow and get it done early in the day. That way you're not stress-eating late night wings thinking about all the work you should be doing, but aren't.

Use your planner

Buying a planner at the beginning of the year always makes you feel like you have your life together. The key to actually having your life together is to USE the darn thing. Grab a cubby in the library, get your syllabi out and put every significant task or paper into your planner. Then add all of your social events.

Look at it, change it, make notes. This way you know when things are coming up and you're not scrambling at the last minute. There's nothing worse than watching Snapchats of your friends having fun while you're stuck at home because you waited until the last minute to write a ten page paper.

You don't always have to say no

Being a responsible student doesn't mean saying no to everything. Go to half priced apps, go see a movie or go to trivia. Just give yourself a curfew, go to bed and wake up early to get your work done. Having fun doesn't have to mean staying out into the wee hours of the morning, and working hard doesn't mean locking yourself in your room all Friday night.

We're not perfect, some nights we'll skip doing homework to grab wings and sometimes we'll stay in because we just need some sleep. Enjoy every minute you can, because it really is the last time we'll get to live the #HuskyLife.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A thirst for future adventures

Crazy to imagine we’re six days out from flying home, but time went quickly when the third module came to an end. That doesn’t mean we haven’t made the most of what time we have left, though.

In November, I spent a weekend in Guanacaste Province, famous for its stunning, wide-open Pacific coastline. Sámara Beach was exactly that, a huge spread of white sand with an endless horizon before me. Guanacaste draws all kinds of adventurers and beach rats from around the world; in the span of two days I met travelers from Spain, France and Scotland, plus one guy selling ice cream who was originally from Holland.

We celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a ten-hour bus ride from Heredia to Granada, a lively colonial city deep in the heart of Nicaragua. La Calzada, Granada’s version of a main street, is jammed with restaurants that cater to tourists from every corner of the planet.

The City Market is only a few blocks away, a chaotic maze of wooden stalls and tables lined with pretty much every vendible thing imaginable. It was easy to get lost among the mounds of fruit, fish, spices, plastic toys and prescription drugs, but the Market is the cornerstone for all of Granada. The market is always the heart of the city, our directors told us, and the local culture beats strong in Nicaragua.

After a boat tour on Lake Nicaragua (nineteenth-largest lake in the world, by the way), we dragged our tired selves all the way back to Heredia. Soon it was time to get cookin’ on our Thanksgiving dinner dishes, since we’d be serving them to our host moms for a massive American-style meal at the end of the month. We all brought our culinary A-games and made it a Thanksgiving dinner to remember (I was mainly thankful I didn’t burn the two apple pies I whipped up five hours beforehand).

The last module has been all about Latin American Literature: poetry, essays, short stories and books that spearheaded literary movements and inspired generations of writers and artists. We’ll come home soon with sunburns, opened minds and a thirst for future adventures.

Joshua Lloyd is a junior Spanish and Interpersonal Communication major spending this fall studying abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica. Through SOL, he is studying Latin American culture and civilization.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I wouldn’t change a thing

Thousands of dollars. Four years of your time. I thought it sounded awful, too, just a short three and a half years ago when I was getting ready to leave for college.

I didn’t have the best time in high school, and I thought college was going to be an exact repeat of that. But I was so wrong. I’d be lying if I said college is easy. College is tough and at times, it will test your limits. But college is more than just being young dumb and broke. College is about learning about who you are.

What I've learned

  • Get Involved — While your GPA is important, it's not the only thing employers are looking for. While joining extracurriculars are certainty a good resume boost, they also allow you to meet new people. Some of the best friends I’ve made in college are because of the activities I’m involved in. #ThanksDPhiE
  • Go to class — Read the first sentence of this post and come back to this line. Yes, you’re paying THOUSANDS of dollars to be in school. Show up to class and participate.
  • Ask for help — As I previously mentioned, college is not always going to be easy. There will be times where it gets both academically and emotionally hard. Whether or not it seems like it, the faculty and staff at Bloomsburg University are here to help you and want to see you succeed. If you’re struggling in a class, visit that professor during your office hours. If you’re struggling with life, go to the counseling center. At the end of the day, it’s okay not to be okay and it’s okay to ask for help. But people can’t help you if you don’t ask for it!
  • Utilize Campus’ Resources — As much as you don’t want to admit it, the time will come where you will have to be a grown up and get a job or go to grad school. But what is going to separate you from the thousands of other people you are competing with? Experience. ProfessionalU offers so many resources for FREE that I encourage you to take advantage of. Give up a Saturday every now and then and attend these professional development opportunities — your future self will thank you for it.
  • Enjoy it. Every second of it! — You get out of college what you put into it, and I really encourage you to make the most of it while you can. Four years is really over in the blink of an eye, and someday you’ll wish you had these moments back.
The only thing you’ll regret are the chances you didn’t take. College is your time to take as many chances as you want — to make mistakes and to learn from them. You never know what could happen if you never try. If taking a chance causes you to fall flat on your face, at least you learned how to get back up. It’s hard to believe that I only have one semester left, and if I could do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing.

— Kim Oaster, senior mass communications and marketing dual major #HuskyLife

Friday, December 1, 2017

I am on the right path!

As the weeks count down closer to the big day of graduation I have found myself investing more time into career development, attending all different Professional U workshops. Perfecting my resume, cover letters, elevator pitch and more than I ever knew went into a “professional brand."

Throughout this process, I have learned job hunting is a full time job in itself. I mean researching each company, tailoring each application perfect and keeping track of the requirements of each. As crazy as it sounds, I think I’ll actually miss my 15 page research papers.

But with the help of career development office and special shout out to the councilor Luke, they’ve been by my side throughout the process. Even during my mini anxiety attacks about the “futureeeee” (dun dun dunnnn!). Seriously, it can be really scary to plan for the unknown. Not really knowing where life is going to take you, what job opportunities will open up or the alternative paths you’ll have to take.

And it seems life as soon as someone finds out you’re graduating they go into a game of 21 questions, where you’re supposed to have the answers to life figured out. One of the workshops I attended called “Answering Career Questions” helped me get through Thanksgiving break and my oh-so nosey family members.

What I really loved about that workshop was it was really a conversation between us (the participants) and the workshop leaders. Centennial 108 turned into a safe space where people had the opportunity to share their insecurities about college, their major choice or what the future has in store for them. And the workshop leaders did an awesome job of helping us explore why we felt this way and gave us solid resources to explore.

Like this website that you can search any career field or major and see what kinds of jobs are out there. After that workshop I felt totally confident to tell people what “someone with a communication degree” does.

One piece of advice I can give to anyone either in my shoes or will be shortly is: take your time, soak up as much information as you can and practice! Make sure you attend career development workshops and pace yourself. That’s what has been working for me so far.

With less than 50 days until I moon walk across Haas stage, I still have lots of room to grow; but I trust I am on the right path!

— Giovanna Andrews, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A tasteful tour of Costa Rica

We’re almost to the end of the third module of classes now, and our group is busy studying Latin American Civilization and Culture. Together we’ve covered everything from ancient Aztec and Inca civilizations to the Latin American wars of independence in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A few of us took a day for a tasteful tour of Café Britt, a leading innovator in gourmet Costa Rican coffee. I’m not big on coffee myself, but fortunately Britt also specializes in cookies, nuts and chocolates (highly recommend the dark chocolate-covered pineapple jelly).

Two weekends ago we piled into the buses to head to La Fortuna, a small town northwest of San José in the shadow of two huge volcanoes, but first we took a high-flying detour to a huge jungle zip-line course. The Tarzan Swing was a surprise, not to mention the “Superman” line for the grand finale.

Arriving at La Fortuna, we got our first breathtaking look at Arenal Volcano, a 5,500-foot geological wonder with clouds surrounding the summit. Its most recent eruption was in 2010, and visitors can occasionally spot thin lava flows near the crater.

We spent a night in the natural hot springs that flow from the Tabacón River at Arenal’s base. Trust me, they’re better than any hot tub you’ll ever find. We’re coming into the homestretch now, and the daily rains have finally died down as the dry season (mid-November to April) steadily approaches.

— Joshua Lloyd #HuskyUnleashed #HuskyAbroad

Joshua Lloyd is a junior Spanish and Interpersonal Communication major spending this fall studying abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica. Through SOL, he is studying Latin American culture and civilization.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Empowerment through philanthropy

On Jan. 9, 2015, while my college peers were enjoying their winter breaks and time off from school, I sat anxiously in a waiting room at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the course of the previous 24-hours, my family received a life-changing phone call: they had found a heart for my dad, after nine months and nine days on the organ donation “waiting list.” For over 10 years, my dad was suffering with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart condition and eventually went into congestive heart failure.

On top of the heart problems, my dad also has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, the rarest form of this disease. My dad receiving a heart transplant was a blessing. However, my family endured many setbacks because of my dad’s heart transplant.

A few weeks later, I headed back to Bloomsburg for my second semester of college. The guilt of leaving my family, especially my dad, during such a hard time was eating away at my conscious.

I needed to find something to distract myself from the guilt and the stress, so I decided to go through the sorority recruitment process with my roommate. When I first decided to rush, I did not expect to end up anywhere; however, my whole perspective of Greek Life changed when I met the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon.

It’s hard to explain that instant connection you feel when you find where you’re supposed to be, but as I mingled with several of the DPhiE sisters, I had never felt more comfortable. It felt like I knew all of these young women my whole life and not just several minutes. As the rounds of recruitment continued, I got to know more sisters and about the sisterhood of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. While the bond I felt within the sisterhood was certainly part of the reason I joined, what drew me in to this sorority was one of the philanthropies: the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Anorexia is a disorder that has affected several members of my family, most recently including myself. I was drawn in to the idea that I could be a part of a sisterhood where empowering women were empowering other women on the importance of body positivity. When I learned that DPhiE was an organization that did this, I felt compelled to not only be a part of that empowerment, but also spearhead it.

Shortly after joining Delta Phi Epsilon in March 2015, I ran and was voted as the coordinator of community service position for the following academic year. As the community service coordinator, I worked directly under the vice president of programming (VPP) where I supported the fundraising, philanthropic, and community service efforts for our chapter. Because of my experience and passion for all three of our philanthropies, I decided to run for VPP the following year.

Empowering other women was one of the many goals I set to accomplish as VPP. I got the idea to create an awareness video for the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders from a sister from another chapter. My vision for this video was to show that every woman has things they are insecure about, but there are so many positive things about each of us that we should focus on instead. In addition, I teamed up with the Women’s Resource Center for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Through our partnership, we had several successful educational events throughout the week.

Members of Greek Life are often stereotyped for partying all the time and having low GPAs. However, those assumptions are not always the case. Being involved in Greek Life is so much more than that — it offers you a support system and a home away from home. But more importantly, being involved in Greek Life allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Members of the Greek community collectively completed over 22,400 hours of community service last year.

How many other organizations can say they did that?

— Kim Oaster, senior mass communications and marketing dual major #HuskyLife