Start your New Year’s Resolution on January 2nd

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New Year’s Resolutions are a joke in this world we live in. We say we are going to accomplish the same things year after year and we never do. “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year.” “I’m going to start my nonprofit.” “I’m going to get on a budget.” And then 2021 will roll around and you will make the same resolutions because you failed to meet them in 12 months. That’s right- we fail every year. Resolutions can be great, if followed through. But that is the problem.

Years are so arbitrary. A year is only how long it takes for us to get around the big yellow circle. There are many questions as to why it even matters, yet years can be helpful and appropriate lengths of time for goal-setting. The same reason that you don’t finish your resolutions for the entire year is the same reason why people fail at quitting smoking through cold turkey. The biggest failure that happens with cold turkey is not when people fall off of the bandwagon; it’s when they don’t get back on afterwards. They did not learn from their failure. Acceptance of failure is a sign of emotional maturity and should be an even larger driving force thereafter. If you aren’t failing, then you’re not trying something new. Learn from your mistakes. This is the impetus behind why you should start your resolution on January 2nd.

This will sound foreign to many, but start your year off with failure! Use December 31st to come up with your resolutions and then use all of January 1st to learn your habits for the year. Make your resolutions into SMART goals. Make your goals specific and timely. One portion that gets overlooked is the attainability section. Be honest and real with yourself on what you will be able to do over the course of the year. Observe your current habits and notice what will be your pitfalls and advantages with your new resolution. Resolutions can be so powerful if used correctly, but few actually do so.

So, start your resolution on January 2nd. Start the year off knowing that you are most likely going to fail at some point, but be alright with that knowing that you have already failed by missing one day for the year. Make your most important resolution be that you are going to learn how to accomplish your other resolutions. Make adjustments and keep going. If you don’t go to the gym for the first time in 7 weeks, make sure to learn from that mistake of why you didn’t go and get back the following week. Beating yourself up over not doing something for an entire year is ludicrous and counterproductive. It only brings negative emotions to your goal and decreases the likelihood that you accomplish it. Embrace your failure, learn from it, and do the right thing tomorrow. We are all human beings and we should start acting like it. Oftentimes, the learning from the failure will bring you more life-essence satiety than actually accomplishing your resolution.

I hope this helps someone on their way to becoming G.U.M.P! Happy New Year!

Sincerely yours,

Forrest Gottman

Budgeting for Vacations: Giving Permission to Spend

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Vacations can be a much-needed time to recharge or a fun adventure, all depending on your personality and interests. Sometimes, it can be a tough call when it comes to estimating how much one will need for a vacation, especially if splitting the bill with friends or family. Planning and budgeting vacations for my family and for myself is one of my favorite activities. It generally excites me to crunch the numbers, see what is possible, and know the limits of the trip before it begins. In my 6 trips that I’ve planned for my family, I have picked up on the things that matter most in planning. If you have followed my blog at all, you know I’m a fan of lists and how much help they can be with making things possible. Here are my best tips for budgeting out your vacation. I’ll use the following trip as an example.

  • Title. Oftentimes, I find a trip title to be helpful in the long run. Usually only a few words, a creative title will help you narrow your scope and inspire creativity later on with your itinerary.
  • Trip Details. In this section, insert how many travelers and how many days and nights that are planned for the trip. This brass tacks information simplifies the next step.
  • Budget. This is the section that intimidates vacationers the most, but it’s actually really easy. I usually break mine down into 4 sections: food, lodging, activities, and transportation.
  • Transportation. Depending on the distance traveled for your trip and the means of transportation, this can be less close to nothing or half the budget. This should be the first expense calculated in the budget and can depend on a lot of variables. Be sure to be realistic and overestimate for gas money. This is another easy expense to split between groups of people.
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  • Lodging. This section is more difficult to plan before purchasing, but easier to just look up. Because it can be one of the largest expenses, I like to calculate it second. I am a huge fan of Airbnb, as it is very affordable and can be nicer than hotels in some instances. Once the price per night is figured, ensure that all fees, taxes, and additional charges are factored in. I usually like to divide the price per person for the total price, and then per group, as it easy to see which expenses go where.
  • Food. I like to calculate food expense third. The easiest way to do this section is to divide up by meal and count how many days. You can see above that I have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. For the example of budgeting for breakfasts, I take the number of breakfasts X the number of people X the amount allotted per meal. This is all added up and then allotted per group.
  • Activities. I like to do a sample itinerary before completing the activities part of the budget. This will ensure that you do everything in the area you are vacationing in that you want before you go and happen to miss/not be able to afford something. I try to estimate the total hours of free time available during the trip (or at least that one would like to be spent doing an activity). I then multiply that by some multiple of how much I would be willing to spend per hour. The activities budget usually comes last in terms of priority.
  • Itinerary. An itinerary does not need to be hour by hour, but having an idea of what will take place on the trip is super helpful. Be sure to leave plenty of time to get to different places, find new things, or just relax. A sample itinerary is below.
  • Sinking Fund. The last step is my favorite. If saving for a vacation, make sure to use a sinking fund. If you need to use debt to pay for a vacation, you should not be going on vacation. For help with budgeting, check out my other article on minimum balance budgeting: https:///2019/11/11/an-alternative-to-dave-ramseys-zero-based-budget/

Merry Christmas to all my readers. Have a wonderful holiday season and I will see you next week for my last blog of the year.

Sincerely yours,

Forrest Gottman

How I Will Graduate with No Student Debt

It still hasn’t hit me that I only have 1 more semester of college left before I graduate. I have learned so much along the way, both within my degree field of finance and in my personal infrastructure. While I am excited for graduation, something happened a few days ago that brought me almost as much excitement: I paid off the remaining balance of my last semester’s tuition.

Although I will still have books to pay for, I already have them budgeted. For budget advice, read my article on Minimum Balance Budgeting: (https:///2019/11/11/an-alternative-to-dave-ramseys-zero-based-budget/)

While I have loved going to a small, private university, the University of Evansville, it can be difficult for many students to graduate without student debt, regardless of where they go. I have compiled a few strategies that I used to graduate without taking out a loan. And please, if you are able, do NOT take out a student loan. It is not worth the heartache it will bring.

1) Start Early on Scholarships

Me on my High School Honors Night

The second half of junior of high school was when I really got serious about making college and career decisions. My mom made one thing clear to me: getting scholarships was my job until I graduate. I applied to hundreds of different scholarships, both within my community and nation-wide. The community scholarships are great because you will likely have a better chance at getting them, especially if they are school or demographic specific. I received 22 scholarships on our high school honors night, which paid for my first two years at UE, in addition to UE scholarships. That was one of the best nights of my life and I still cherish the memory of going up on stage so many times. It was such an honor. Doing well in school and community positions is the best way to enhance your chances of receiving the scholarships.

2) Don’t be afraid to commute

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This is no one’s favorite strategy. I commuted since Day 1 at UE and it has had its fair share of difficulties, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. From the beginning, many college students are meant to spend their first year on campus and some universities will even mandate it to be so. UE was like this; they highly encourage their students to stay on campus their first year or they may lose scholarship money. I was really afraid that I might lose some of my scholarship if I were to stay at 炫乐彩票网, but all I really had to do was get my 炫乐彩票网 address approved. On average, room and board will cost you $10,000 per year, which is insane. If you do not have the luxury to commute from your 炫乐彩票网 like I did, an apartment will still not set you back as much and it will also probably be nicer. You could find one close and have roommates to split the bill with. Think about room and board as an apartment rental. Most college students only stay at the university for 8 months out of the year. Ask yourself, “would I pay $1,250 per month for an apartment that I share with another person(s) and that may not be that nice?” Even if you must void the apartment contract every summer, it may still cost less and be nicer than living in a dorm. Still, there will be some that will begrudge not having the “college experience.” I combatted this by being highly involved in activities and I never really felt like I was missing out. While it can be cumbersome sometimes to get to school for class and projects, it is so worth it and I saved $40,000 over a potential 4 years by doing living at 炫乐彩票网.

3) Graduate early, if possible

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I came into UE with 19 credit hours from high school CAP courses. This is a little more than an average semester and many were general electives. However, this is so helpful for graduating early or at least on time. I looked at is as I had already finished one semester, so I only needed to make up one more semester. My goal was to figure out how fast I could finish 124 credit hours and the answer was 3 years. Making up 4 classes over 6 semesters is rather easy and it ended up saving me about $30,000 in tuition and other fees. I took 1 winter intercession class, 1 summer internship, and 2 18 credit hour semesters (please don’t be afraid of them, I barely noticed a difference). I did not graduate with a minor, which was fine because I did not see it as necessary. I also did not pursue a double or triple major, which I could have finished in 4 years. Sometimes, this is an impossible feat if taking a highly structured program, like nursing. This was a major decision for me and is not right for everyone, but it helped me so much when I realized I was able to do it.

4) When evaluating different schools, weigh scholarships highly

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When it came time to make my final decision for college, the last schools were IU, UE, USI, and Purdue. I knew I wanted go to school for business, but I had no idea how to decide on which school. I weighed many criteria, my main ones being class size, location, reputation, and career placement. However, the ultimate decider was how much scholarship was offered. In reality, the student is the commodity, not the university. The school that wants you the most will make it known, usually in the form of scholarship. While there are instances where you want to pursue your dream college, please do so, but evaluate others in the process. My dream school was the Kelley School of Business at IU, but I am so incredibly happy that I did not go there and satisfied that I went to UE. In the end, UE wanted me the most. While they promised the highest tuition, they also gifted the most scholarship of any of the schools. In the end, it was cheaper for me to go to the small, private business school than it was to go to IU, USI, or Purdue. And it has been the experience of a lifetime since I started.

5) Talk to financial aid

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Another thing to evaluate when looking at schools is their financial aid department. Do they make you feel welcome? Are they friendly and sincere? If so, this means that the university has ensured that their financial aid process will go smoothly. The awards letter is an important piece of the puzzle as well. If your award isn’t itemized by different scholarships, make sure to go and talk to them to make sure every scholarship is accounted for. A lot of times, the financial aid department will even work with you if their university is not that out reach for you or your family. Go to financial aid early and often.

6) If receiving any assistance from parents, write it down!

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I was also very fortunate to have 2 loving and supporting parents who were able to help me in my college journey. We had an agreement where they would pay a certain portion and I would pay the other portion. If you have siblings that are older than you and have been to college already, more than likely, there is already an agreement to be had. Whether your parents are paying 1/3, 1/2, 3/4, just tuition, just books, or any combination of the total price tag, make sure your parents know when and where to make payments and how much the payment is. A lot of uncertainty can be resolved by just having a written agreement with your parents as to exactly what will take place. There is no need for a formal contract, but rather a written place where the information can be referenced. This can be especially beneficial if your parents happen to be separated and structured payment information is needed.

I hope this was a helpful post for anyone starting to look for colleges or anyone who is already in college looking to graduate debt free. Thank you for reading!

Sincerely yours,

Forrest Gottman

The Best Christmas Songs You’ve Never Heard Of

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The time of finals has come for us destitute college students. For all of my college readers, best of luck with studying and acing your exams. I have my fair share this coming week, but should be finished on Wednesday. Christmas music fatigue is already high for me this year and I tire of hearing a 6th artist covering Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But there is so much beauty that is still to be found in the celebration of the season. For this week, here is an abbreviated article about Christmas songs that you won’t hear on the radio and need to hear if you haven’t already.

1. Step Into Christmas- Elton John

My mom’s favorite Christmas song and tied for my favorite, this song never fails to get me into the Christmas spirit and get everyone dancing around the house. And come on, its Elton John!

2. Christmas Vacation- Mavis Staples

Chances are that you have seen the beloved cult classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and have heard the excellent title song. We watch this movie every year and I can quote the entirety of it (as I’m sure many Americans can do). And if you haven’t heard this song, do yourself a favor and click below. This was sung by Mavis Staples, of Staple Singers fame.