Tag Archives: recession

Managing the Dollar Demand

By: Joe Walsh

Everyone knows the economy is in rough shape. If you are a college student with a middle class upbringing, money can be very tight when the tuition bill comes. For a student that has a sibling about to enter college, money can be even more of an issue.

Unfortunately, there aren’t an abundance of scholarships that erase a full four year’s of college bills. Oprah and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition have the market cornered on those for their lucky recipients.

Fortunately, there are strategies to help ease the burden. Joseph Weglarz, the Executive Director of Student Financial Services at Marist College, sat down with The River Reporter last week to discuss how to best make the financial burden of college easier on students and their families.

It’s a Jigsaw Puzzle

“I always tell people that ask me how to best pay for college to treat it like a jigsaw puzzle,” Weglarz said. “You have to find multiple ways supplement the cost of college.”

That means those cure-all scholarships mentioned before really are a rarity. Weglarz suggest to use some of the following programs and strategies to

The 529 Plan

“Most people don’t know about this but it can be one of the pieces you use to ease the burden financially.”

There are two subcategories of the 529 Plan: pre-paid tuition plans and college savings plans.

The pre-paid plan lets someone purchase college credits early at a locked in rate. It is only

Plan ahead with your money. From learnnc.org

Plan ahead with your money. From learnnc.org

available for participating universities, but state governments generally guarantee the investment. On the downside it does not cover costs like room and board

The college savings plan is a bit more flexible when it comes to what the money goes towards. Account holders have the money they put in invested for them. On the downside, the investments are riskier and are not usually covered by the state.

If you did not notice, this is something that requires you to save ahead of time for school.

Off Campus Housing

Even though Marist provides on campus housing, Weglarz says, “You can find more affordable housing off campus.”

The trade-off here obviously is the convenience of location with on campus housing and the added expense of gas to commute.

The FASFA

You probably heard of this from your high school guidance counselor. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is received by the federal government and determines if you need federal assistance.

It is all about using multiple sources of money to pay for school. From cardiomyopathy.org.

It is all about using multiple sources of money to pay for school. From cardiomyopathy.org.

Weglarz admits however that the average middle class family does not receive much from the FASFA.

“The FASFA doesn’t take into account fact that you may have a mortgage or how much the cost of living is where you live,” Weglarz said. “The government does encourage students and families to contact the school and try to work something out with them.”

Endowed Scholarships

Marist College has a wide range of scholarships students can apply for. They are easily accessible from the Marist Web site. They are awarded based on need and academic major.

“A lot of them have specific requirements, but if you find one that’s for you, you should definitely apply,” Weglarz suggested.

You also need a teacher recommendation for them, so be sure to talk to a professor about getting one.

The Verdict

“Like I said,” Weglarz concluded. “There is no one solution to paying for a higher education. You have to approach it from different sides. Like I said before, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle.”

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Recessionistas: Is Cheap now Trendy?

By Sara Shea

 

As the country begins to recover from the recent economic downward spiral, Americans are continuing to pinch pennies and cut corners wherever they can. As a result the fashion industry is not necessarily suffering, but rather changing to accommodate the new frugal attitude sweeping the nation.

Blogs such as Jezebel.com and therecessionista.blogspot.com make looking great on a budget easy for women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. According to an article published in The New York Times, “The use of the word recessionista is making light of a situation that isn’t so favorable for the consumer-driven industries of our nation… It is more lighthearted to say ‘I am the Recessionista, and I don’t really go for that,’ instead of saying ‘I can’t afford that or I don’t want to spend the money,’ ” said Mary Hall of therecessionista.blogspot.com.

 

Creator of therecessionista.blogspot.com, Mary Hall stands amidst piles of cheap trendy finds. Hall created the site to encourage women not to give up on looking good even during the hardest of times.

Creator of therecessionista.blogspot.com, Mary Hall stands amidst piles of cheap trendy finds. Hall created the site to encourage women not to give up on looking good even during the hardest of times.

As a result of this “less is more” mindset, a more European inspired style is gaining popularity here in the States. According to several fashion blogs staple pieces such as simple chic black dresses and suites are items consumers are still willing to spend money on. These few big-ticket items are still deemed acceptable to purchase because they are constantly on trend.

“Staples like little black dresses can be worn to any occasion with any accessory,” said sophomore Fashion Merchandising major Christopher Traina. “Women are willing to drop a decent chunk of change on a dress that makes them feel good despite the state of the economy.”

Women rationalize spending a lot on staple pieces because they are timeless. European women have been employing the quality over quantity style for years now – buying a few designer pieces and using trendy accessories to create a new look. The American idea of living in opulence and excess is slowly dwindling.

According to The New York Times, we are being ushered into an era of “recession chic’ and its personification, the ‘recessionista,’ the new name for the style maven on a budget. That the word represents the times could explain why Sarah Palin’s new wardrobe ($75,000 at Neiman Marcus and nearly $50,000 at Saks) struck some as distasteful.”

This new frugal sense of style is not necessarily bad. This is not the first recession the country has ever gone through, and by no means is it the worst. During the Great Depression, retailers drastically dropped prices and advertised clothing as “economy chic.” Advertisements encouraged consumers to be “smart and thrifty” during hard times. According to The New York Times, “In the wake of the stock market crash of 1987, designers began to offer less-expensive second lines. In 1989, for example, Donna Karan introduced DKNY.”

If the entire nation adopted the mindset of less is more when it comes to clothing and material goods it could actually help the economy and the environment. If the demand for cheap products decreased, the production would also decrease, thus shutting down many third world sweat shops. Consumers would still be purchasing material goods, therefore the economy would still be stimulated – the goods would just be of a much higher quality.

Though higher quality goods usually come with higher quality price tags, they are usually more durable and worth the extra money. “Think about it,” said sophomore Pre-Med major, Abbey Ketner, “If less disposable or cheap products are purchased, less will end up in landfills, which means there will be less harm done to the earth each year.” Therefore not only are you saving money in the long run, your saving the planet as well.

So even though not being able to buy that trendy new bag that costs more than you make in a month seems like the end of the world, fear not frugal fashionista, you are not alone. A new era of fashion is upon us – recession is “in.”

Sticky Fingers on the Rise During Hard Times

 

By Sara Shea

While some are out looking for a second job to earn a little extra cash during these tough economic times, others are taking a less legal route to make ends meet. According to an nbcnewyork.com article, shoplifting is on the rise due to the failing economy.

Grocery and retail chains are being hit the hardest. According to the article at nbcnewyork.com, “One skint New Yorker has shoplifted close to $30,000 of gourmet groceries from markets like Whole Foods.”

 

Specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods Market are especially prone to shoplifting during winter months. Large coats and baggy layers make concealing stolen goods easier.

Specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods Market are especially prone to shoplifting during winter months. Large coats and baggy layers make concealing stolen goods easier.

 

 

Not only are thieves robbing stores blind; they are actually giving others tips on how to get in on the action. In the same article, an anonymous shoplifter offers advice to others hoping to score a five-finger discount on their next grocery trip. The “Biggest mistakes you can make include not getting to know a store’s camera system, rushing, and hitting grocery stores close to where you live.”

In addition to grocery stores, retailers are also feeling the heat. Marist sophomore Lauren Bis has witnessed how detrimental shoplifting can be first hand. “I work at Victoria’s Secret and there is at least $100 in merchandise stolen each week,” Bis said. “This summer there was actually a shoplifting ring busted at my store. There were five women who would steal thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from my store and three other stores close by.”

According to an article published in the New York Times, “A Better Business Bureau study puts the losses from shoplifting to businesses across the country at $8 billion to $16 billion a year. The amount varies because of different estimates on how much shoplifting goes undetected, but the study concluded that each family in the United States pays 10 percent of its retail dollars to cover shoplifting thefts.”

 

Legal consequences of shoplifting can include any or all of the following penalties: jail or prison time, punitive fines, community service hours, and more. Offenders are often prohibited from entering the place of business from which they stole goods.

Legal consequences of shoplifting can include any or all of the following penalties: jail or prison time, punitive fines, community service hours, and more. Offenders are often prohibited from entering the place of business from which they stole goods.

 

 

At Marist, measures are being taken to ensure the cafes and the bookstore do not fall victim to petty theft. New cameras have been installed in all of the cafes on campus to help protect the businesses from shoplifting

“I wouldn’t say I’ve noticed an increase in theft since the recession started,” said Theresa Kilmer, lead retail supervisor at the Cabaret. “However I think the cameras have scared any potential thieves away.”

Sodexho, the school’s food supplier, installed the cameras in September in an effort to deter students from stealing. The company installed similar cameras in every school they service.

“I would say since the cameras have been installed I’ve personally only caught 1 or 2 students stealing,” Kilmer said. “Last year students were getting greedy. The second you would turn your back they would fill there bags and bolt.”

Though measures are being taken across the country to discourage shoplifters, budget cuts and layoffs give thieves easy access to goods. In addition to theft, credit card fraud has also seen a rise since the dawn of the recession in September. Retailers nationwide are doing their best to minimize loss and prevent future issues.

Food for Thought: “Recession Gardens” May Help Budgets Bounce Back

by Robin Miniter

With the economic recession in full swing, Americans are digging deep into their wallets – and now their gardens – for an answer to the crisis.

A little soil goes a long way for your stomach and your wallet. (photo courtesy of Salon.com)

A little soil goes a long way for your stomach and your wallet. (photo courtesy of Salon.com)

“It does make a good deal of sense economically speaking to have these gardens and to be self sufficient, especially in our economy where food prices are rapidly rising,” says James Marconi, a senior Political Science minor at Marist College.

For 2009 alone, the National Gardening Association predicts a 19 percent increase in home gardening based on spring seed sales data and a telephone survey. The plots have been compared Eleanor Roosevelt’s WWII era “Victory Gardens,” which symbolized the self-reliance of the American peopl. According to Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International, at their peak these gardens supplied 40 percent of the nation’s fresh produce. With history coming in full circle, First Lady Michelle Obama recently broke ground for a garden on the South Lawn of the White House with daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, as well as Washington D.C. area school children at her side.


The Washington Times reported that a well-maintained vegetable patch can yield hundreds or thousands of dollars in returns per year. “One-fifth of survey respondents said they planned to start a food garden this year, while more than half said they already were gardening to save on groceries,” reported the Times.

Food at your finger tips: a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables can easily be cultivated in your own abckyard. (courtesy of http://www.easy-green-tips.com

Food at your finger tips: a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables can easily be cultivated in your own abckyard. (courtesy of http://www.easy-green-tips.com

Sophie Ordway, a sophomore English-Writing major, grew up in a gardening family. Her mother, a botany major at the University of Michigan, “treats her plants like they’re her children.” She says that recession gardening would be, “great if everyone had the space and time to do it, and went in on it together… I think it would work.”

To put your green thumb to the test, Easy-Garden-Tips.com offers a guide to get your patch up and running. Locally, the Hudson River Valley will soon be blossoming with local farmers markets. With a higher quality and at a lower price, the fruits of these gardeners’ labor will not only support the local economy, but will help to put food on your table – and theirs.

Easy recipes from your garden to your table: