Financial Fitness for Freshmen

The following Money Management column is provided jointly by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Indiana CPA Society as part of the CPA profession’s nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program.

As you get ready to go away to college for the first time, this is a good time to expand your knowledge of day-to-day money management, including smart budgeting and debt management steps. The Indiana CPA Society offers these tips to students who want to get through college with the right financial footing.

Start on a Budget

You may be surprised at the high everyday costs of college, including books and supplies, daily living expenses and travel to and from school. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a sense of what you will spend – outside of tuition costs – before you begin each semester. Include savings you plan to use, any money you may receive from your family and the income you can expect from any jobs.

According to a Nationwide survey, the average student income is about $1,400 a month from part-time jobs and parents. Semesters usually last about four months, so divide your projected total to determine how much you can spend each month, after deducting the amount you can expect to pay for books at the beginning of the semester. It’s also a good idea to track your actual spending throughout the semester, so that you can more accurately project and adjust your budget for the years to come.

Get What You Need

Once you know your income, determine a list of expected expenditures each month. Be sure to remember the difference between wants and needs. Textbooks and supplies are clearly mandatory, but weekend trips, nights out and new clothes are not. Even a car can quickly drain your resources if you’re cash strapped.

Feed the Pig, the AICPA’s financial literacy site aimed at young people, recommends recording every time you make a purchase so that you get a good sense of where your money goes. Then categorize all the items, to see if you’re spending as much on morning coffee as you are on weekend entertainment. These steps allow you to understand where you might need to cut back or reconsider your spending choices. If you’re honest about your real necessities, it will be easier to create a workable budget, and find ways to save.

Avoid Credit Card Debt

College seniors with credit cards graduate with an average of $4,100 in credit card debt, according to the Nationwide survey. The importance of budgeting is clear when you see the consequences of spending beyond your means. Many students use credit cards to stretch their spending money, but given the high interest rates involved that can be a costly choice.

For example, if you have a $4,100 credit card balance, at an 18% interest rate and you make a $200 payment each month, it will take you 25 months to pay off that balance and it will cost you a whopping $836.27 in interest, money you could have spent on other purchases or put aside in savings. That debt is a big burden to carry, especially since so many graduates also have significant outstanding student loan debts.

Debt can make it more difficult to find or afford your own place or to qualify for an auto or other loan. The best advice: If you’re going to reach for the plastic, make sure it’s a debit card. That way you will spend only what you have in your bank account now and avoid overextending yourself.

Your Local CPA Can Help

College is an exciting time that offers many new experiences, including managing your own money. If you or your family has questions about financial topics, be sure to consult your local CPA. He or she can help you address all your important financial concerns.

Indianapolis Native Serves Aboard USS Forrest Sherman

Story provided by Navy Office of Community Outreach

NORFOLK, Va. – A 2009 Warren Central High School graduate and Indianapolis native is serving aboard USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), one of the world’s most versatile multi-mission combat ships.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Campbell is a yeoman aboard the Norfolk-based ship, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that is longer than 1.5 football fields long at nearly 510 feet long. The ship is 66 feet wide and weighs more than 9,200 tons. Twin gas turbine engines can push the ship through the water at more than 30 mph. USS Forrest Sherman is named for Admiral Forrest Percival Sherman, and is the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name.

As a 24-year-old with numerous responsibilities, Campbell said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor and a person. Campbell added that his shipboard experience is rewarding and motivating. “When I reported aboard the ship, I was hit with a lot of useful and interesting information, and I try to apply all the knowledge I’ve learned to daily situations,” Campbell said.

He also said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the Forrest Sherman’s crew, protecting America on the world’s oceans. “I like the daily interaction I get when working with customers aboard the ship,” said Campbell. “It’s knowing when someone has a problem and I am able to fix the situation which makes me feel very important.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS Forrest Sherman. Approximately 34 officers and 253 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company, which keeps all parts of the destroyer running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the engines.

“As John Paul Jones said, men mean more than guns in the way you run a ship and it’s still true today. It’s all about our people, I am proud and amazed by the knowledge they display and the work my sailors do every day,” said Cmdr. John A Krisciunas, the ship’s commanding officer. Their professionalism, motivation and commitment to the Navy are genuinely inspiring.”

Fast, maneuverable and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute multi-mission evolutions such as surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-air warfare. USS Forrest Sherman can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile combat ships, Campbell and other USS Forrest Sherman sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“Not everyone can do this job,” said Campbell. “Protecting those who can’t defend themselves makes me feel that I am a key asset to the United States Navy.”

“Serving in the Navy is rewarding because it gives me a sense of belonging to something positive,” said Campbell. “No matter what my rank is in the Navy, I will always be a key asset.”

Chamber Names Bloomington 2014 Community of the Year

The city of Bloomington was named the 2014 Community of the Year today by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The announcement came at a city hall press conference attended by local government, civic and business leaders.

“This is a tremendous honor for the greater Bloomington area and I proudly accept it on behalf of our citizens and businesses,” said Mayor Mark Kruzan. “Our philosophy is that quality of life is synonymous with economic development. If this is a place that you choose to live, work and play, it’s the kind of place you want to do business.”

Bloomington’s quality of life and amenities along with its emergence as a major high-tech sector for the state were cited as primary factors in its winning the award.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar on the selection: “Bloomington is truly unique for a city of its size; it boasts so many cultural, arts, recreational and entertainment offerings. It has big city options with the comfort that comes from living in a close-knit community.”

Brinegar also noted the economic impact Bloomington’s life sciences arena continues to have on the region and emphasized the impressive focus on technology by public and private entities.

“The work of the Bloomington Technology Partnership has been first rate, fostering growth of the city’s emerging high-tech economy through talent recruitment, networking opportunities and technical assistance,” he stated.

“A key part of that effort has been driving technology through education, both at Indiana University and Ivy Tech. This has contributed to seeing an 80% growth in tech sector employment in recent years.”

Among the other impressive technology endeavors highlighted by the Indiana Chamber:
• The 65-acre Bloomington Certified Technology Park with the 12-acre core property currently under development
• The progress of IU’s School of Informatics, the first of its kind in the U.S., which has produced a steady stream of high-quality technology professionals
• Establishing the Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech and the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at IU
• The coding school program that addresses a skills gap need in the technology sector

The 2014 Community of the Year award will be presented to Mayor Kruzan and Bloomington during the Indiana Chamber’s 25th Annual Awards Dinner on November 6 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. The 2014 Business Leader of the Year and Government Leader of the Year recipients will be announced at that time.

More than 1,400 business, political and community leaders are expected to attend. “Saturday Night Live” alum Dennis Miller, whose current focus is political commentary on Fox News and a nationally-syndicated talk radio program, will headline the event. Tables of 10 and individual tickets are available for the reception (5 p.m. EST) and dinner (6:30 p.m. EST). Reservations can be made at (800) 824-6885 or at www.indianachamber.com/specialevents.

Media interested in covering the event should contact Rebecca Patrick at (317) 264-6897.

Past Community of the Year recipients:

2013: Bedford
2012: Indianapolis
2011: Kokomo
2010: Terre Haute
2009: Valparaiso
2008: Noblesville
2007: Anderson
2006: Evansville
2005: LaPorte
2004: Muncie
2003: Warsaw
2002: Marion
2001: Greater Lafayette
2000: Jeffersonville
1999: Fort Wayne
1998: Rochester
1997: Batesville
1996: Elkhart
1995: Indianapolis
1994: Kendallville
1993: St. Joseph County
1992: Columbus
1991: Muncie
1990: Bluffton

BizVoice: Social Media Changes Landscape of Hoosier Politics

Longtime WTHR-TV political reporter Kevin Rader says he picks up “ripples” on Twitter or Facebook about posts that are gaining steam, getting retweets and likes, that make him take notice to a certain policy or official’s statement. “It’s almost like an immediate Nielsen Report that comes to your desk every day that you can look at and say, ‘Oh, this is interesting … or this is interesting,’ ” he notes.

John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, believes social media is “big” for candidates and officeholders – and not just in a reactionary sense. “You have to think about how people are receiving news. It’s not just one way (traditional media) or the other (social media). You’ve got to have the proactivity to get out there and make sure it’s communicated every single way and exhaust every possible resource.”

His counterpart for the Republican Party, Tim Berry, says “The advantage of social media is that you can talk directly to your constituents. You’re not taking through Kevin or the Indianapolis Star. You’re talking directly to your constituents and then that is shared – your perspective is shared. And that’s what people sometimes miss through the use of social media – the opportunity to talk directly to your intended target.”

But there does need to be caution with social media usage, according to Andrew Downs, IPFW political science professor and director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

“It has got to be part of an overall strategy. You can’t ignore it; you’ve got to be present. But if you let it dominate, which it’s easy to do, you will lose. It doesn’t play that big of a role yet,” he asserts.

Rader offers another example of how Twitter, for example, has changed his job.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated by people who have now realized, ‘Look, I don’t have to make a statement to the media. All I have to do is Tweet a little something out and I don’t have to answer a question.’ You find yourself thinking, ‘Oh boy, so are we really serving the people sitting at home?’ You don’t get any follow-up, anything in-depth and it’s become acceptable now.”

But what can the media do? It has little choice but to cover it. And as Downs quips, “Yes, you don’t have to answer questions. That’s the beauty of social media (for candidates).”

Read much more from this group in the September-October edition of BizVoice magazine, where they discuss the climate in the state and what to look for on Election Day. A related article in the same issue focuses on the use of “digital first” technology to reach voters.

Regional Events to Connect Employers with Educators

In partnership with Indiana employers, the Educational Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN), Center for Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL), and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Youth Institute is pleased to announce two NEW events coming to Lafayette and Odon this year.

The two events are regionally based opportunities for K-12 educators, state and regional government agencies, corporations, and youth-serving professionals to engage with employers about how best to connect Hoosier students with the education and careers that fit their skills and interests.

Through panel discussions, keynote presentations and group networking, attendees will be connected to resources that enhance their ability to educate and train students to successfully pursue the postsecondary careers that exist within the region.

Each event will include a tour with a local employer—giving educators a firsthand look at some of Indiana employers’ most state-of-the-art facilities. Join us at one of the following locations:

September 24 – Lafayette
Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.
Training and Reception Center
Featuring a tour of Subaru

October 2- Odon
Westgate Academy
Conferencing and Training Center
Featuring a tour of NSWC Crane

Both sessions will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include lunch. Each session is just $10 to participate. Professional Development Growth Points available for counselors and educators at no extra cost.

Register online.

 

My Chamber Experience

The time has come to finish all of my projects, clean and pack up my desk and head home briefly before returning to school for my senior year. My internship is nearly over.

After spending an incredible 11 weeks at the Chamber, it’s hard to say goodbye. I started this internship knowing that the Chamber advocates for Indiana business and works to better the state, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it does so. I also didn’t know how many amazing people comprise the Chamber staff and how much I would learn in a little less than three months.

I’ve had the opportunity to conduct interviews with top Hoosier business leaders, and I feel like I’ve gained a better understanding of different business issues. I’ve gotten the chance to work with talented writers who have lent their valuable insight and advice.

I was fortunate enough to have a supervisor who pushed me to do my best and always improve. I was able to challenge myself to try new writing styles and juggle different assignments at once.

At the beginning of my internship, I was eager to assure my business-savvy dad that the Chamber seemed to be a place I would enjoy for the summer. Now, as I get ready to leave, I’m happy to say my assumptions were correct. Not only have I learned a great deal about my writing, but I’ve received a better education on Indiana business.

Leaving Indianapolis will also be difficult. A Mishawaka native, it was great to have the chance to live in Indy for the summer and experience everything the city has to offer. However, I’m confident that this is not the last I’ll see of Indy. I hope to return once I graduate.

Ending my internship is bittersweet, but I’m glad that I can leave knowing I had a great experience. I feel like I’ve found a career path I want to pursue and have gained the knowledge and skills that I will need.

Helping Veterans Make the Career Transition

Despite some recent improvement, unemployment rates for veterans — especially those who served post-9/11 — remain much higher than the national average.

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It was developed to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses obtain meaningful employment. The program will be hosting a hiring fair at the Amtrak Beech Grove Shops on September 18.

The event is free for both employers and job seekers and will focus on careers in the rail transportation industry. The job fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and an employment workshop will be held at 8:30 a.m. Sessions at the workshop will include resume building and writing, as well as interviewing techniques.

The Indiana Chamber’s 24th Annual Awards Dinner in November 2013 featured a salute to the military and veterans theme. In May, the Chamber conducted a Policy Issue Conference Call focused on employment for veterans and military spouses.

It’s a Dog’s Life at West Baden Springs Hotel

You’ve ordered room service and your beloved pet is looking at you with irresistible puppy dog eyes. But wait! As you bend down and pat his head, his tail begins to wag happily as he realizes the delectable meal is for him.

Bon appétit!

West Baden Springs Hotel at French Lick Resort offers 15 pet-friendly rooms throughout its 243 luxury guest rooms and suites. The upscale destination recently introduced in-room doggie dining.

If your canine has a taste for the finer things in life, order him (or her) high-end entrées such as Chicken à la Pooch, Moses’ Meatloaf (named after a regular four-legged guest, it’s served with ground turkey, red rice, peas and carrots) and Applewood Smoked Bacon.

As we speak, my Shih Tzu, Seymour, is probably seated at my home laptop booking a reservation.

Read more about the doggie dining menu and the guests who inspired it.

UK’s State-Sponsored ‘Love Nugget’ Program Aims to Keep Couples Together

Oh boy. The United Kingdom is getting a little touchy-feely with its taxpayer dollars.

A new campaign – sponsored by the Department of Education (who else?) – suggests small pieces of advice, dubbed “love nuggets,” for married and long-term couples looking to keep their relationships from ending in divorce or separation.

The program – which is being led by a charity called OnePlusOne and a few other family-oriented organizations – is sponsored by almost £3 million (current exchange rates puts that at just over $5 million U.S. dollars), according to a number of media reports in British news outlets.

The idea behind the campaign, according to the web site, is that the breakdown of couples and families is expensive and costs the state a whole lot of money. So, in order to help strengthen the bonds of matrimony (and coupledom), the Love Nuggets campaign offers a number of pieces of advice to help couples stay connected. The suggestions come from the public, but they are screened to ensure nothing naughty gets posted. Phew.

Here are a few:

  • “He surprised me by picking out my favourite horror movies and getting lots of munchies for a movie night in together.”
  • “My husband brings me breakfast in bed on a Saturday morning.”
  • “My wife always gives me a big hug when I get in from work.”
  • “We make each other cross words or give each other a book for long journeys.

I’m not making this up. But, I could: Can I get someone to pay me £3 million to write these “brilliant” pieces of advice?

You can see all the “love nuggets” at once, or spin the handy spinner on the home page to get three random suggestions for spicing up your relationship.

While I can appreciate the assistance for keeping your love life healthy and happy (wait, isn’t that what couples’ therapy or Cosmopolitan magazine is for?), this is a bit too far – and too much money – for a government that could be spending that money on actual education.

Anyone that’s been married or in a long-term relationship knows there are times when it can get dull. You’re busy dealing with work, family, children, life and paying attention to your spouse can unfortunately fall pretty far down on the list. But most of the criticism of this government-sponsored web site includes the notion that most people know the small acts of kindness they could show their partners – it’s the tricky, deeper issues such as finances or the pressures of raising children that can have the more devastating effects on a relationship. Pretending these “love nuggets” are a solution to the more serious issues facing couples today is just (as they say in Britain) mental.

Energy Offer: Save and Get Paid

Energy consumers in the South Bend and Fort Wayne regions can learn more about a new demand response program at upcoming presentations.

Participating organizations can receive payments year-round in exchange for agreeing to reduce energy use during times of high demand. The details will be explained during one-hour breakfast meetings on August 27 and 28.

EnerNOC provides the resources to help manage your energy management efforts. Registration and additional details.