Tips for how to save on Thanksgiving

by Danielle Meltz, Student Blogger

Thanksgiving is the holiday everyone’s stomachs look forward to…and everyone’s wallets dread. Whether you and your roommates are planning on making a dinner together this year or your returning home to the family, here are a couple tips to help save some money on this year’s Thanksgiving:

Food

Turkey vs no turkey

The ideal image of a Thanksgiving dinner generally revolves around a HUGE turkey. But is it really worth it? From buying right turkey (free range? organic?), making room in your fridge for it, defrosting it, and then cooking it for hours, there’s a lot of work that goes into a turkey. Perhaps this year trying a ham, roast beef, or a couple small chickens will make the dinner a lot easier—and more enjoyable.

Buy what’s in season

Asparagus might be a family tradition, but it’s nowhere near the season for them. Buying vegetables that are in season will not only save you money, but they taste better. Not to mention the option of canned or frozen goods. Pumpkin in a can is cheap and saves time, as is buying your ingredients in bulk.

What you can’t craft, eat

I’m definitely not the craftiest person around, but from hand shaped turkeys to eccentric turkey decorated cookies, the fall options are endless. Crafting edible goods allows you to worry less about perfecting them, and look forward more to eating them. And eating is such a large part of Thanksgiving.  happy thanksgiving with turkey cookie

Activities

Get rid of the Black Friday tradition

As much as it sounds like a great idea to save some money, waiting outside in the cold and then dealing with hundreds of shoppers probably isn’t what you want to be doing after a day of giving thanks. Cyber Monday is where I did my shopping last year, and it was well worth it. Anything you can find in a store, you can find from the comfort of your own home while you snack on some thanksgiving leftovers.

Avoid the mall in general

Thanksgiving break is a great time for families to spend time together. Instead of spending money at the mall, maybe get the family together and watch the Macy’s Parade, play touch football, or volunteer at a soup kitchen.

And finally, with all the pressure of having the perfect thanksgiving, try and remember what the day is really about. If eating Chinese takeout with your roommate in your dorm room constitutes as the perfect thanksgiving, go for it!

Relax and have fun with Thanksgiving this year, it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Pumpkin Pie with Pastry Leaf Crust

 

The Ralphie Discount List

by Danielle Meltz, Student Blogger



Being a college student in Boulder isn’t cheap. Tuition, live music, dinner with friends, and late night pizza runs add up quickly. However, there are a few stores that understand our “poor college student” status and offer student discounts. Check out some of these stores during your holiday shopping and remember to show that college ID to cash in on the discounts!

Woman with Shopping BagsClothes and Apparel

Ann Taylor: Female students gearing up for career fair season might want to look into the 15% discount off of full-priced items that Ann Taylor has.

Charlotte Russe: Sign up for texts and you get a 10% that day

Club Monaco: This certainly isn’t the cheapest store, but if you decide to invest in some Club Monaco apparel they have a 20% off all items for college student in store and online.

Eddie Bauer: go considering there’s a. From clothing basics to camping gear, Eddie Bauer’s you’re one shop wonder for all your Colorado essentials; 10% discount on all items

J.Crew: Get a 15% discount in stores when you show your school ID.

Madewell: The store that manages to have clothes for every style also has a 15% student discount.

  Technology

Apple: You might want to let your parents in on Apple’s student deals. Current students, students accepted to college, and parents buying for college students all get discounts on Apple products. You can save up to $200 on a MacBook and up to $20 on an iPad.

Amazon: Students can get a free six-month trial of Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day shipping on all of Amazon’s items and a $10 credit when you refer a friend.

Best Buy: Discounts on everything from Apple products, to printers and PC’s, Best Buy might be the place to hit if you’re unsure about what you want your next appliance to be.

Dell University: Dell University is a program through Dell that offers discounts on technology for students.

RadioShack: Everything from TV’s to iPhone cases, get $10 off of your next tech purchase.

Sony: Need some sweet new electronics? College students get 10 percent off.

Food

If you have the Flatiron Meal Plan however, you might want to look into what their discounted restaurant of the week is right now.

Hopefully holiday shopping just got a little easier with all the clothing and technology deals available for students!

 

FAQ: Why do I have more than one credit score?

by Laurence Gendelman, Guest Blogger

Laurence is a law student at the University of Colorado. This article was originally posted on the Consumer Empowerment Blog at myconsumertips.info.

Most consumers have come to understand that their credit scores are important and affect several areas of their life. Credit scores are used by creditors to make lending and credit extension decisions, employers to make employment offers, and much more.

  The broad use of your credit scores may not be surprising, but did you know that you have more than one credit score? Do you know how your credit scores are calculated? Do you know which of your creditors or potential creditors are using which scores to determine your eligibility for different loans and products?

  A credit score is calculated using the information in a credit file. A credit file typically contains a consumer’s demographics, payment, bankruptcy, legal action, and legal judgment history, debt ratio, longevity of credit history, balanced owned and credit limit on open credit cards, and credit inquiries. http://www.freescore.com/3-credit-bureaus-differences.aspx. Three major private companies, known as credit bureaus, are in the business of maintaining credit files. The three credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion; each company uses its own proprietary score and scoring method to determine a consumer’s credit risk.

  Equifax uses the Equifax Credit Score to rate consumers on a scale from 280 to 850. “Payment history” comprises 35% of the score, including a consumer’s payment history on credit cards and loans, public records and collections including judgments, liens, and bankruptcies, and the number of accounts paid on time. The amount the consumer owes comprises another 30% of their score, including the total amount they own on all accounts, the number of accounts with balances, the percent of the consumer’s total credit line being used, and the size of their credit line. Additionally, another 15% of the score is determined by the length of the consumer’s credit history. 10-12% of the score is based solely on the number of credit accounts in the consumer credit file, recent credit inquiries, and the balance of recently opened accounts. Lastly, 15% of the Equifax Credit Score is based on the types of credit accounts the consumer holds. https://help.equifax.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/138/noIntercept/1.

  Experian uses the PLUS score, ranging from 330 to 830 to determine a consumers’ credit worthiness. Experian does not disclose the PLUS score formula to the public, but the score accounts for roughly the same information as the Equifax Credit Score.

  TransUnion produces several consumer scores, most notably the TransRisk score, ranging from 300 to 850. The TransRisk score values the same factors as the PLUS score and Equifax Credit Score, but places more importance on the length of a consumers’ credit history.

  Most creditors and lenders do not rely upon one score when deciding to extend credit, rather they look at a consumer’s FICO or Vantage score. FICO and Vantage scores are not educational; rather, they are used to make lending and credit extension decisions. FICO and Vantage scores are calculated using all three of the credit bureau scores; but FICO scores place more importance on the length of credit history while Vantage scores emphasize the most recent credit history. Both FICO and Vantage scores range from 300 to 850. Far more creditors rely upon FICO scores, as opposed to Vantage scores, since their model has been widely used and trusted since 1986. Several other less recognized credit scores are created and maintained by Credit Karma, Credit Optics, Innovis, Credit Sesame, and PRBC.

  The reality is that different creditors report consumer information to different credit bureaus. The bureaus are businesses competing for creditors to report consumer behavior to them. The reason they compete is simple: the more accurate the bureau’s credit files are on every consumer, the more business they will likely receive from creditors and lenders. Thus, competition in the private market drives these bureaus to maintain accurate, complete, and thorough consumer credit files.

  Since lending and credit decisions are typically made using a FICO score, incorporating the scores from all three bureaus, it is important to know what your credit file looks like at each bureau. The differences in a consumer’s score from each bureau can often range over 40 points based solely upon which creditors are reporting to which bureaus.

  For example, let’s say that you get lab work done at a hospital and for whatever reason, the bill for $32 goes to “collections.” The hospital reports to Equifax, as there is no legal requirement to report information to more than one bureau. You apply for an auto loan two years later and the bank pulls your FICO score; your score is a 700. As you shop for cars, you apply for another auto loan at a dealership that uses a lender that only looks at the Equifax Credit Score to make their lending decisions; your Equifax Credit Score is a 610 because you have a “recent collection.” You decide to take the loan from the bank over the dealership’s lender because they are offering an interest rate on the loan that is substantially lower since their lending decision was based on a higher credit score.

  The lesson here is to know what your credit file contains at each of the three credit bureaus. One way to do this is to track your FICO score, since it is compiled using information from all three bureaus. Many credit card companies offer this service to cardholders at no additional charge. Additionally www.annualcreditreport.com allows consumers to see their credit files from each of the three bureaus once per year for free. Whatever you do, check your credit scores and check them often.

 

Winter is Coming–5 Meal Ideas to Keep You Warm

by Danielle Meltz, Student Blogger

Now that I’ve made it to my junior year, the cheap 25 cent packages of ramen noodles no longer cuts it as a hearty (or very healthy) winter meal. While trying to figure out how to balance cooking and school is not an easy task, soups are a nutritious and cost efficient way of making it through the winter. The best part is that most of the ingredients for these recipes can be bought in bulk making them super cost efficient, especially if you share with your roommates.

Equipment needed: slow cooker (crock pot), knife for chopping, spoons for stirring, large coffee mugs, microwave

1)      Slow Cooker Beef Stew

With only a few ingredients this meal is every busy college student’s dream. Drop the ingredients in a slow cooker before class or work and come home to ready-made dinner. The best part about stews are that you can pretty much throw in anything you want. Can of beans you bought a few months ago, but haven't wanted to eat? Throw them in!

soup

2)      Spicy Chili

The same idea as the slow cooker stew, but with fewer ingredients and more of a kick. As tempting as it might be to grab that chili in a can while browsing through the grocery store, there’s really no better way to go than homemade chili. This recipe has saved me numerous times when I want one meal to last me through the weekend. Not to mention, you can get a second meal idea out of this recipe by turning chili into Sloppy Joes for lunch.

  3)      Caramelized butternut squash

squash If it’s covered in butter and sugar does it still count as a vegetable? Probably. Mix up squash, sugar, salt and pepper and bake it for 50 minutes for one of the best winter meals around. Growing up my family always used this recipe as a side dish, but I’m pretty sure it fulfills the requirements of a whole meal as a college student.

4)      Pumpkin Pie French Toast

Yes, you read that right. Two of the world’s greatest things have joined forces. Pumpkin takes over yet another food item with this magical fall treat. With a total cook time of 10 minutes, the options of this meal are endless from breakfast to a midnight snack. french toast

5)      Cake in a mug

If you haven’t had cake in a mug yet, you’re definitely doing college wrong. This wonder of a recipe has made my all-nighters far more enjoyable. Just throw some flour, sugar, cocoa powder, butter and Nutella into a cup, pop it in the microwave for 1 minute and you’ve got yourself the best snack any college student could ask for.

The biggest struggle I’ve found in college is managing to balance school, work, and the occasional laundry and grocery trip. These recipes are so great because they can last you a while and the meals make the best leftovers. Learning how to cook can be easy and fun--and doing it on a budget is even better!

 

Scariest Thing About Halloween: the Cost

by Danielle Meltz, Student Blogger

Halloween is easily my favorite holiday, and with college students more excited about it than when they were kids, it’s easy to get caught up in the new costumes, candy, parties, and the associated costs.

However, it is possible to do Halloween on a budget. From costumes, decorations, and things to do--here are some easy steps as to have a fun and frugal Halloween.

Costumes

Since there is only one week until the 31st, costume prices are on the rise, but here are a few quick costumes you can throw together:

Check out our Halloween Pinterest board for costume ideas! Check out our Halloween Pinterest board for costume ideas!  
  • Miley Cyrus- two buns, a pink shirt and a teddy bear
  • Rosie the Riveter- Jean jacket and a red bandana
  • Deviled eggs- cut out picture of an egg and devil ears
  • Katniss- Leather jacket and couple of paper arrows
  • Avatar- paint yourself blue
  • Inspector Gadget- Black rain coat, a fedora and a police badge from the Dollar Store
  • Caveman- animal fabric from a craft store, tied up on one shoulder
  • Chimney Sweeper from Mary Poppins- Shirt, vest, tie, and a broom
The list is truly endless, and I fully believe you all have the creativity to turn your great idea into a costume with minimal spending.

Decorations

Even though this is one of the areas I think college students skimp on, I know that I appreciate walking into a Halloween party that made a solid effort on decorations.

Home to haunted house in a half hour:
  • Stick spider pictures all over the walls
  • Put candlelit pumpkins around the house and switch all the lights off
  • Stretch out some cotton balls and use hairspray together to create a spider web
  • out ghost shapes and tape them to framed pictures you already have
  • Put long socks under the door rug to look like the wicked witch
Decorate your front doorway for spooky fun!
Decorate your front doorway for spooky fun!

Things to do

As someone not from the US, I went to a haunted corn maze for the first time last weekend and almost died. Therefore, I highly recommend it to everyone! Here are a few options around the Denver metro area:

With one haunted corn maze for amateurs, and another ready to scare even the most fearless person you know, there’s something at Haunted Field of Screams (located at Denver Gym and Fitness, 4251 E 104th Ave, Denver, CO) for everyone. There’s two haunted corn mazes, the slightly less terrifying on is The Dead Man’s Night Maze with monsters and zombies around each corner.

However, if you want to step it up a notch, their Haunted Field of Screams corn maze is what this place is known for. As you get chased by clowns, ghosts, zombies with chainsaws, and witches, you realize how their main attraction has made it to its 13th year. Targeting every fear possible, this maze isn’t for the faint-hearted.

You can also go on their Zombie Paintball Massacre, where you get taken on a hayride and you have a paintball gun to defend you from the zombies.

Corn maze
Corn maze

Being haunted not your thing? Then Cotton Wood Farms (located at 1535 N 75th St., Boulder, CO) might be the place for you. With a non-scary corn maze, a pumpkin patch, animals and a hayride, Cotton Wood Farms is the perfect place to go during the day to pick out the pumpkins you’re dying to carve.

pumpkins