By Victoria Collier
College students came for the free pizza, but stayed for the helpful tips shared by Dr. Heather Bono and Dr. Joseph Smith at the Penny Pinching Ph.Ds seminar recently held in Rowe Hall and hosted by economics professor Kim Holder and Kendall McCamy of the Department of Financial Aid. Bono and Smith shared their insight on money management and saving money wisely.
Save on Web Purchases
Dr. Bono, an economics professor, began the seminar stating that the first tip is to save on everyday purchases with websites and apps. Ebates is her favorite app because they pay people to shop online.
“Just to give you an idea, my husband and I saved almost $300 in 2016 just by purchasing the things we already purchased online,” Bono said.
Fuel Up on Extra Cash
Another tip was how to purchase gasoline while also earning rewards points. Bono shared that Kroger offers fuel points for every dollar spent on groceries. Shell has a similar process, and by putting the app on your phone, it will take 25 cents off a gallon of gas just for creating an account. These tips will save money in the long run and cut unnecessary expenses on something that is purchased weekly.
In addition, Bono prescribed a smart way to purchase groceries with the Walmart Savings Catcher App. The app will pay you the difference when you scan your receipt from a previous Walmart purchase and find the same item at a cheaper price. Also, downloading coupons online and saving them to the membership cards for stores such as Kroger and CVS can take the stress out of keeping up with coupons and save you money.
Bono asked, “Who wants free food?,” to which all students and faculty raised their hands vigorously. “If you sign up for all the birthday offers through different restaurants you can actually save a lot of money that way, and they don’t require you to redeem it on your actual birthday,” she explained.
Her following tip was to reap the rewards of smart spending with rewards cards. She suggested that students go to CrediCards.com to compare credit cards and their rewards programs in one central location.
“The one I like the most is double cash back. I get 1 percent cash back when I make the purchase and 1 percent cash back when I pay the bill,” Bono said.
Capital One, Discover Bank and Bank of America all offer rewards programs that offer percentages off of gas and groceries. Despite these encouraging deals, Bono warned students to not charge more than they can afford to pay off at the end of the month.
Track Your Spending
Bono continued with advice on how to track one’s spending habits.
“My preferred method is old school; I have a color-coded Microsoft Excel sheet. My husband looks at it and his eyes glaze over, but the whole point is to know where our money is going,” Bono said.
She recommended using Mint.com to supervise finances and allotting a certain amount of money in an envelope per month for spending. Also, an interactive app called Penny can help by canceling services that are not in use. All in all, Bono advised the audience to rely on resources already available to help them use their money as intelligently and beneficially as possible.
Rent or Own?
Smith, chair of UWG’s economics department, followed Bono with his own recommendations for saving money that will help students prepare for the future. His first tip was to consider whether or not to rent or own a home.
“How long do you plan to live in a location, and what are the mortgage interest rates? Those are going to be the key determining factors to whether you rent or buy,” Smith revealed.
He encouraged students to shop around for mortgage and interest rates. This is crucial because a small percentage difference can mean the difference in hundreds of dollars on your payment.
Used vs. New
Another tip was to consider the risk and benefits of buying a used or new car. According to Smith, a new car loses 10 to 15 percent of its value the moment it’s purchased. In addition, wrecking a new car creates thousands of dollars in damages. His advice is to purchase a used car and let someone else make the mistake of purchasing a new car so that they can break it in and see how long it lasts. For example, he said that a 2008 Porsche Boxster, which now costs $20,495, cost $70,000 when it first came out it. The person who bought this car new lost between $45,000 and $50,000 in depreciation. These alarming numbers got students’ attention and solidified Smith’s message to buy used cars.
Shop Around for Insurance
In addition, he asked students to consider what type of insurance to buy for their car.
“If you have full coverage insurance you think you can drive around like a crazy person, this is something we call an economics moral hazard,” Smith informed.
He does not favor full coverage insurance because it only helps if you get in an accident and it’s your own fault; therefore, you’re basically paying for the probability of a loss. If you get in an accident and it’s your fault, you will have to pay for the deductible, which defeats the point of full-coverage insurance. The probability of needing full coverage insurance for an accident is once for every 18 years, so he said it is better to shop around for a different option.
Head for the Second-Hand Store
One piece of advice that can apply to daily life is buying discounted clothes. Smith proudly shared that his suit was from Goodwill and cost him $18. He encouraged students to spend their money wisely by buying clothes at stores like TJ Maxx and Goodwill, where everything is discounted.
File Your Own Taxes
Finally, filing your own taxes is an effective way to save money. Anyone can file federally for free and Turbotax does not charge at all.
Smith ended his presentation with an extra tip at the end of the seminar: “Any time there is an event with free pizza, go to it!”