August 5, 2017 || Delta Zeta Room Tour

Hey Loves!

This week has been a hectic one with preparing for recruitment and moving back into the Delta Zeta house. I am so happy to finally be settled in and am looking forward to spending my senior year in the house. 

I gave my room an upgrade for sure and splurged on a few items for my new space that I can see myself utilizing next year when I have to get a big girl place. After doing a quick little room tour over on my Instagram {@whitandwit}, I got an overwhelming amount of people sliding in my DMs asking for me to spill the tea on where I got everything. So here ya' go!

This year I was really going for some *free people* vibes. I wanted my room to have the boho free spirited feel why still remaining clean and relaxing looking! I opted for a lot of neutrals because they are easy for me to incorporate in any of my future homes.

Ballin' On A Budget? || Achieving The Look For Less

My biggest tip is to hit up sales! I purchased my big pieces {Anthroplogie Blanket and Pillow} during their home decor sale. Keep an eye out for sales and snag it when it is marked down! Home Goods is also always my go to. I purchased my baskets from there for super cheap. As for curtains, do something simple. You can not go wrong with white! I got mine from Wal-Mart! As for small decor, most of my knick knack decor {and bedding basics} are from Target. {Pro-Tip: Target price matches their sales online in store} My last tip would be to invest {time or $$$} on something that really brings your room together. It is pretty obvious mine is the tassel hanging above my bed {etsy has a ton OR DIY if you are feeling crafty} and my big round mirror that I added to really open up my tiny space {from Target}.

I hope y'all enjoyed this short and sweet post! What is your go to tip when decorating a small space? Comment down below!

With Love, Whit

September 6, 2016 || Budgeting in College

Hey Y’all!

So classes have started, and with that comes a lot of planning and budgeting! Really though, college is super expensive {my boyfriend spent $1000 on textbooks this week and I cried for him}. I wanted to provide you all with an EASY guide on how I budget for the semester, and how my budget has helped me stay afloat in college and not take out student loans. If you have not already, I advise you read my post on what you can do to avoid student debt, i.e. work/scholarships/fasfa/etc. before reading this post because I am pulling from that information. Please keep in mind for the budget below; I have already taken into consideration what type of housing fees I could afford. I understand this can vary from person to person, and this decision should be made before you decide to sit down and make a budget like the one I am about to show you. Another thing you will notice is that I always OVER estimate, it is better to plan for worst case scenario, so you do not find yourself in a situation you can not handle.

First || College Expenses & Living Expenses

The first thing I do before budgeting is I look at all my expenses. I mean real expenses, like what you NEED.

These are typically the things I ALWAYS take into account:

College Expenses --> Tuition, Fees, Textbooks,

-Tuition: Based on fee bill. If I did not receive it yet, I look at the previous year for reference and estimate a little bit higher {like $500}

-Fees: Same as above, but fees typically stay the same.

-Textbooks: The average student spends about $1500 {lol} on textbooks a year. You may not buy any of your textbooks, but as stated earlier, I over estimate.

-Sorority Dues: Ask your chapter for an expense breakdown. {overestimate for big/lil, formal, etc}

Living Expenses --> Housing Fees, Electricity Bills, Food, Gas,

-Housing: I budget my rent/housing fees for the WHOLE semester, not by month. I do this because it eliminates any risk of me over spending monthly. I live in the sorority house so I know my fees upfront, however when I did rent I did my rent x 6 months.

-Electricity/Water/Internet/Cable Bills: Again, I personally live in a sorority house, but when I rented I did the highest amount I ever paid once I split the bill with my roommates x 6 months.

-Food: Everyone is different, however I budgeted $50 a week. Therefore, I did $50 x 4 weeks x 6 months.

-Gas: I could typically fill up my sentra every two weeks on $25 {I walk everywhere}, so $25 x 2 Fill Ups a Month x 6 Months.

Now add all those beautiful expenses together!

Second || Income, Income, Income

Now it’s time to evaluate your income. I would add all my scholarships + grants + savings AKA what I know I have financially for the semester {excluding my job, we will get to that}

Third || Where do you fall short?

Its really easy, Income – Expenses, and pray you get a positive number {lol}. Then I divide what I have left over for the course of 6 months. This will be my spending money over the course of my semester. I personally try to work about 15-20 hours a week though, because it is always best to have extra and save when just in case something comes up {flat tire, ticket, etc}

Fourth || Not really, just an excel sheet to make your life easy

Here is a screenshot of what my excel sheet typically looks like when I am budgeting.

 

Fifth || Along the Way

Keep a digital copy of your fee bill, ALL billing statement(s), back to school supply receipts: This will give you a better idea the following semester of what and where you should budget. You will be able to refer and average {I always go a little higher than my average amount} each individual cost.

Account for each debit card/credit card statement: I always go through my monthly statements to see where I spend the most money. For example, I highlight all food, entertainment, and want based expenses individually to see where my money is going.

Bonus || $1000 Emergency Fund

My next post will cover what financial advisors/apps I swear by, but just to touch on it lightly, it is extremely important to build an $1000 Emergency fund at the very least if you are not a huge saver.

I know my budget is kind of common sense, but I know a lot of people my age have trouble budgeting. I hope this is good starting point for some of you, and it helps you as much as it helps me!

Xoxo, Whit

July 18, 2016 || The Lowdown on Student Debt & What You Can Do

Hey Y’all!

            This post will kick off the first post for my Smart Spending Series. The series will include three posts that cover all things scholarship and budgeting for students {like myself}! I hope you all enjoy!

            College is expensive.  Really expensive.  Luckily I feared student loans at an early age so I was able to save and apply for scholarships ahead of time to alleviate the monetary cost. However, I know that others are not as educated when it comes to student debt.  Here are some of my tips when finding ways to alleviate the financial obstacles on your way to getting your degree!

The Lowdown on Student Debt

It makes me really sad when I hear others not even think twice about taking out student loans before looking at all of their options. It is incredibly difficult to discharge student debt. Therefore if you ever find yourself in financial bond you will still be entitled to pay back your loans + interest.  {I would not want to spend my hard earned big girl job checks on that right away}

Grants {FASFA}

This should be common sense for most, but I remember having dinner with one of my friends about a year ago, and she was asking me how I was able to support myself in college. I told her how my EFC on my FASFA was 0 due to my legal guardianship and she looked at me absolutely confused. She had no idea that all this time she could have been receiving grants for school. The FASFA is where every student should start when applying for grants and financial aid. While it may be difficult for some to receive financial aid due to their financial standing, something is always better than nothing. Even if you received $500, you just alleviated the cost of textbooks for the year! You can fill out the FASFA through https://fafsa.ed.gov/, and of course it is free! You will need your most recent tax information, as well as your parents. If you get confused when filling it out there are little tips on the sidebars that will explain each section {these are your new BFF}. My biggest tip for filling out the FASFA is to apply EARLY! Some grants are first come first serve, therefore applying January vs. March can earn you an extra $500!

Scholarships

I know a lot of students do not want to take the time to apply for scholarships because most of the time the likelihood of receiving one is slim once you are already enrolled in your undergraduate program. However, to make your chances larger it is important to apply for scholarships that will have smaller group of potential recipients. For example, apply for major specific scholarships, scholarships through charitable clubs in your city/state {shout out to Mandeville Rotary}, scholarships that require essays, and/or scholarships within your college at your university. You may not receive the one scholarship you apply for but you widen your chances when you apply for more! I applied for TONS of scholarships in high school, and was blessed enough to receive one that tremendously reduced my financial burdens. One out the fifty you may apply for may have the same affect.

Some of favorite sites are the following:

·      http://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships

You can see a wide range of scholarships and narrow it down to a smaller audience to increase your chances of winning one!

·      http://myscholly.com/

Scholly is actually an app, but I love it because I can browse scholarships in between classes and work. You also create a user profile so they find scholarships that you are eligible for

Work Study

Work Study is typically offered through your university to help lessen the cost of education expenses. Work-study programs may vary so contact your student financial aid office at your university for more information.

Get a J-O-B

I know it may seem difficult to work while excelling academically, but I have found that working 15-20 a week gives me enough time to break away from my studies to clear my mind while making some $. My advice is to look at all of your income vs. your upcoming expenses for the year, and see where the shortage or where it could possibly be financially difficult. Once you have an idea of how much you are short by you can find a part time job to lessen where you may find yourself short of cash. For example, if my scholarships and grants just about covered everything I may work weekends at a shop near school to have spending money through out the school year. Working is 100% possible with great time management skills {which you should be learning anyway within your undergrad years} BONUS: there are some scholarships that you can apply for through your university only if you work part/full time, and you can have your boss write you a letter of rec!

Next week I will cover budgeting for the Smart Spending Series! I will include some of my favorite budgeting apps + how I manage a budget for each semester. So check back for that next week. I hope this helped some of you!

Xoxo, Whit