Become Money Smart!

Money Smart Week® is coming to Whitewater! The campus community, both in Whitewater and Janesville, are invited to attend several events during the 2019 Money Smart Week, April 1-5.

Money Smart:  Adulting 101.  Monday & Tuesday, April 1-2, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, UC Concourse Tables. Test your knowledge of personal finance topics! Stop by our table in the UC to see if you can correctly answer a money question, win a prize, and more importantly, learn about free financial resources available to you on campus.

Cooking on a Dime. Monday, April 1, 4:00 pm, UC275B. Are you looking for ways to save money when preparing meals and purchasing groceries? Amanda Kostman, the Family Living Educator from Extension Walworth County, will be on campus to present and demonstrate ways to ‘Cook on a Dime’. Food samples and door prizes will be available to those in attendance.

GeoCache for College Cash.  Tuesday, April 2, 4-6:00 pm, UC Concourse Tables. GeoCache for College Cash is a contest that operates similar to a scavenger hunt. Using a smart phone or tablet, players read and respond to quiz questions for a chance to win prizes. This fun campus event features personal finance info every student should know. Prizes include a chance to win a $500 national prize, along with local prizes including a Beats Pill, wireless earbuds, gift cards. and swag.

Understanding Credit & Credit Scores.  Wednesday, April 3, 12:00 pm, UWW at Rock County, HS120.  Understanding credit can be challenging.  Summit Credit Union will be presenting a seminar at the UWW at Rock County campus during Money Smart Week to help students understand credit and breakdown a credit score.

Financial Crimes: Awareness & Prevention.  Wednesday, April 3, 2:00 pm, UC264. A loss prevention specialist from UW Credit Union will share relevant information on current financial crimes and how to prevent them from happening to you.

Help, It’s Almost Tax Time!  Wednesday, April 3, 3:30 pm, Hyland 1302. Do I need to file taxes?  If I am a dependent for my parents, should I still file? What is an education credit? Where can I get help to file my taxes?  Get all your tax questions answered by the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) providers at UW-Whitewater. 

Homebuying 101. Thursday, April 4, 3:00 pm, UC262. Are you interested or considering the purchase of a home?  Attend our Homebuying 101 seminar to obtain information and resources from both a local real estate agent and a mortgage lending institution.  They will give guidance and clarity (no sales pitches!) to the many steps of the home purchasing process. 

Paint-A-BankThursday, April 4, 3-5:00 pm, Andersen Library. Get creative and come to Andersen Library to paint a money bank.  This is a make and take event, and banks will be available until supplies run out.

All events are free and open to all.  For more information about these and other nearby events, visit  Money Smart Week® events on campus are hosted by Andersen Library and the Financial Literacy Center.

Holiday Gift Giving on a Student Budget

The tradition of holiday shopping and gift giving on a student budget is challenging, and the added financial stress and burden can make the holiday season more stressful and less enjoyable.  It is possible to give your friends and family meaningful gifts, even on a student budget.

Tip #1:  Save money in advance.  The holiday season should not come as a surprise each year, yet how many times has it ‘snuck up’ on you, and you find yourself wishing for more funds in your bank account.  A year-long savings or holiday fund plan is a solution.  Determine an estimated total cost and start saving early to achieve your goal.  This would make a good New Year’s Resolution for 2019.

Tip #2: Hunt for bargains.  Use sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon that offer business discounts.  Utilize coupons and sales, which are in abundance around the holidays.  When online shopping, watch for and utilize discounts and free shipping.

Tip #3:  Budget and monitor expenses.  List the people you wish to purchase presents for and set spending limits on each person.  Save your receipts and maintain a listing of spending totals, being careful not to overspend.  Remember to include greeting cards and holiday gift wrapping supplies within your budget.  Consider downloading one of the many money management apps, or keep a notebook log to track expenses.

Tip #4:  Utilize thrift stores and DIY projects.  Browsing local thrift and consignment stores may yield unique gifts for loved ones at a price cheaper than retail.  Handmade gifts are often the most cherished gifts.  It can be more cost effective to purchase materials and create gifts rather than to purchase items.  Around the holidays, watch craft store sales for percentage off items or entire purchases.

The holiday season can wreak havoc on a student’s budget, but affording the holidays can be done with careful planning.  Relieving yourself of financial worry and stress will allow you to enjoy and celebrate this special time of year.  Contact the UWW Financial Literacy Center for additional personal finance information and resources on a wide array of topics.

Financial Literacy Services Expanding to UW-Rock County

Exciting news!  On Monday, December 3, the Financial Literacy Center will be hosting a financial seminar at the UW-Whitewater at Rock County campus.  Smart Strategies to Manage Money will focus on budgeting strategies, monitoring expenses, managing credit and establishing positive credit history.  Starting at 12:00 noon, the seminar will take place in the Commons Meeting Room, HS120, and attendance is encouraged and open to all students.  For more information on financial topics, visit or contact the UWW Financial Literacy Center.


Comparing On and Off Campus Housing

When deciding to live on or off campus, compare the pros and cons before making this big decision.

  • Cost.  Expenses such as security deposits, monthly rent, utilities, and parking should all be considered.
  • Location.  Is the location within walking distance of campus or will transportation be needed?  Consider parking needs, vehicle costs, and if public transportation is available.
  • Privacy.  Dorm rooms generally have shared living space by 2 or more students. Rentals may have more privacy options, but this is determined by number of roommates, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
  • Amenities. Air conditioning, heat control, laundry facilities, internet connection, and dishwasher may be available at rentals; however, living on campus provides daily cleaning of facilities and readily available meals.
  • Security.  Consider door locks, peep holes, and security systems when living off campus.
  • Other.  If contemplating off campus housing, some additional considerations include renter’s insurance, allowable pets, subleasing options, yard work requirements, furnished or unfurnished, and landlord availability.

Once the pros and cons of each category are compared, you can make a decision based on which is most beneficial to your personal situation. For more information and resources on comparing on and off campus housing, visit the Financial Literacy Center and schedule a coaching session today!

Is An Emergency Fund Really Necessary?

Is an emergency fund really necessary for college students?  Of course it is!  Everyone, even college students, need an emergency fund as unexpected expenses can happen at any time.

  • Good Habits.  Making wise money management decisions at an early age provides a path to good financial decision-making in the future.  In addition, the habit of placing funds consistently into an emergency fund will spill into other parts of your financial life.  Individuals are more likely to achieve their future savings and investment goals if they start as young adults.
  • Less Headaches.  Prepared or not, unexpected expenses will occur at some point in your life.  Your car breaks down, an unexpected illness occurs, or the water pipe in your apartment bursts.  Being prepared for emergencies can save you a headache when life throws a curveball.
  • Investment in Yourself.  When you place money aside for an emergency fund, you are investing in yourself.  As your account grows, feelings of accomplishment and success will show as a result of your efforts.

Unexpected expenses occur, it is just a matter of time.  Being prepared with an emergency fund is a way to combat these situations.  For more information on emergency funds, schedule a coaching session or visit the Financial Literacy Center today!

Budget Adjustments

Monthly changes of your budgeted amounts are to be expected.  Changes in spending and income result from the realities of life – both expected and unexpected.  For this reason, continuous adjustments to your monthly budget are just a part of the process.

Income Increase.  Taking on a new or additional job, receiving a monetary gift, or gaining income through other sources are all ways to increase your income.  With this new income, you may want to pay down debt or add money to your emergency or savings accounts.

Income Decrease.  Losing a scholarship, being let go from a job, or having to spend money on unexpected car expenses will force you to tighten your spending.  As a result, you may need to identify non-essential spending areas to cut back. Figure out how much you will need to decrease your spending and decide which categories can be reduced.

Be flexible and reasonable each month when reassessing your budget or spending plan.  For more information on budget strategies, visit the Financial Literacy Center.


Warhawk Emergency Fund

(Source:  Investopedia)

Financial setbacks are a reality of adulthood.  For college students, unexpected financial emergencies could result in the added risk of withdrawal from the University.  UW-Whitewater has an emergency aid program to provide students with monetary aid to help them stay in school and graduate, which ultimately, should lead to a better financial future.

The Warhawk Emergency Fund awards up to $1,000 for eligible expenses such as child care, auto, medical, and food.  Interested students need to complete the online application process.  When approved, the monetary aid is usually available within 2 business days.

The Financial Literacy Center provides financial literacy education and resources to students who receive aid through the Warhawk Emergency Fund.  Students are encouraged to attend a group presentation or schedule an individual coaching session to receive these services.

For additional questions or information, students should contact the Warhawk Emergency Fund  ( or the Financial Literacy Center (


Tracking Expenses Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

It’s the end of the month, and you can’t figure out where all your money went.  You should have enough to cover your expenses, but your bank balance is creeping closer and closer to an unacceptable number. Does this sound like a situation you have ever been in?

Keeping track of your spending can provide insight as to where your money goes each month, and it provides information on where changes may be needed in future budgets.  Fearing the results or lack of motivation may be reasons some choose not to track, but finding a method that works best for your lifestyle might make the task a bit easier.

  • Spreadsheet. Set up a spreadsheet register with income and spending categories to record all transactions.  This setup has the ability to total the categories at the end of each month, and it can keep a running tally of credit card balances.
  • Apps.  Enter income and expenses into a phone or tablet app each month.  Convenience is the major advantage to this method, and there are free financial apps, like, that have the ability to monitor expenses.
  • Pencil  and Paper.  For some, going ‘old school’ is the preferred method.  Each day, write down all income and expenses into a notebook or calendar, being sure to identify categories.  Add up category totals at the end of each month.  Keep pencil and paper readily available in purse, wallet, car, or pocket.
  • Envelope Method. Label  a separate envelope for each of your spending categories. At the beginning of each month, place the budgeted amount of cash into each envelope. Throughout the month, take out the cash for expenses, and return the receipts to the appropriate envelopes. If no receipt for an expense, simply record on a sheet of paper or directly onto the envelope.  Add up receipts at the end of the month for summary totals.
  • Other.  Additional methods include tracking expenses by store (as opposed to spending category), and waiting until the end of the month to label and total categories.

There is no right or wrong way to keep track of your expenses.  Utilize a system that works best for you!  For more information on budgeting or tracking expenses, visit the UWW Financial Literacy Center or schedule a one-on-one coaching session.  We are here to help!

Success! 4 Simple Tips for College Budgeting

Starting to budget while in college can result in learning how to manage money and plan for the future.  Here are 4 simple tips to creating and maintaining an effective budget:

  1. Track spending.  Record every penny you spend for at least a month before creating a budget.  Be honest about where you are spending your money, and keep a spending log.
  2. Identify Income and Expenses. Use a budgeting worksheet to document your income, then expenses. Income sources would include student loans,  job earnings, gifts, and more. Expenses should come directly from your spending log, and broken into categories like housing, food, entertaining, etc.
  3. Do the Math.  Calculate income minus expenses.  If you have money left over, consider adding to your savings account or an emergency fund.  If you calculate a shortage, start identifying categories where you can cut back.  This is a good time to question your needs versus wants.
  4. Reexamine and Adjust.  Income and expenses change over time.  Maybe you received an additional scholarship, or your landlord raised the rent.  When changes occur, it’s time to reexamine and adjust your budget to stay on track.

The UWW Financial Literacy Center has many free budgeting resources available to students.  Visit our website, or schedule a financial coaching session today!