Prom on a Dime

According to the 2014 Visa Prom Spending Survey, American families spend $800 – $1,000 to cover prom costs. Here are some ideas on getting the night you want without breaking the bank.

Establish a Budget

Whether your parents are helping to cover the cost or you plan to spend your own money, it is best to establish a budget. One easy way to do so is with the Plan’it Prom App for iOS and Android. The app helps you to create a budget and keep track of your spending. It also provides a timeline and countdown feature so you don’t forget any important details.

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Save on Threads

Thanks to the internet, both guys and girls can rent formal wear online to avoid over paying for an outfit you’ll likely wear one time. If you plan on renting your attire, start window-shopping and reserving now since the hottest trends go fast. You can also check out consignment shops or thrift stores.

To Limo or Not to Limo? That is the question.

Renting a ride can be a luxury, but is it worth the cost? Call around and price-check different businesses in advance to make sure you get the best deal. Also, consider sharing the cost with a group of friends. If the rental is $600 for the night and you have six friends sharing the ride, you end up spending much less money than if it was just you and your date. You could decide to drive yourself at a huge cost savings so you can use your resources elsewhere.

Dinner Options

You and your date could choose to go out to dinner, but that can be a really large expense. Consider doing something low key or find a swanky restaurant with thrifty prices. Another option that you may consider, especially if you plan on having a group share a ride, is to have a little dinner party at home. It could be in the style of a potluck, but you could have parents provide the food or have it catered and then split cost with your friends.


Keep these things in mind whenever you are planning for prom. Remember that things can still be luxurious without all of the costs. What are some tips that you can think of to save money for these events?


About the 2014 Visa Prom Spending Survey

The survey results are based on 4,000 live telephone interviews conducted nationally from January 24 – January 26, January 31 – February 2, February 7 – 9, and February 14 – 16 in cooperation with GfK Roper OmniTel.

Dining Hall Makeover

Is your college dining hall diet stuck in a rut? If you like the cost saving benefits of on campus dining, but you cannot fathom the idea of another dish of spaghetti, consider hacking your next meal.

A variety of sources have stormed the internet with easy recipes and ideas you can use to take your dining hall experience to the next level.

Save Your Taste Buds

A quick online search for ‘dining hall hacks’ will open your eyes to hundreds of ideas designed to spice up your dining life. The short list below offers healthy alternatives for beginners that will pep up your plate with little to no extra cost.

Let’s get started.

  • Amp up your pasta selection by visiting the Small Kitchen College.  The site provides 10 creative ways to dish this carb-loaded comfort food.
  • Prefer to keep your food selections healthy? Her Campus is a great resource for light, tasty platters filled with flavor.
  • From buffalo chicken dip to cheesy breadsticks with marinara sauce, Seventeen Magazine provides some party favorites make and share with friends.
  • If your campus has a Panini press or a waffle iron available, check out The Proctor Experiment for recipes like Asian Burritos, Banana Raspberry Pancakes and the yummy Chocolate and Banana Grilled Cookie Sandwich.

Protect Your Wallet and Waistline

Don’t let the convenient, low-cost benefits of your dining hall points/pass go to waste just because the thought of another bite of pizza makes you want to hurl. Give meal hacks the old college try. By shaking up your meal routine, you’ll be less inclined to go and spend your money elsewhere or binge on unhealthy fast food options. Revive your meal selections this week and, if you’re feeling bold, try some experiments on your own!

Have you already discovered a tasty dining hall hack?  What recipes are you exited to try? Share your comments below and happy hacking!

College Essay Tips

You have researched colleges and now it is time to write a personal essay. It’s time to construct a thesis that will help you stand out from the masses. It’s up to you to show the admissions committee what sets you apart from others in ways that test scores, grades and extracurricular pursuits cannot. Here are some tips to help you craft your best composition.

You have researched colleges and now it is time to write a personal essay. It’s time to construct a thesis that will help you stand out from the masses. It’s up to you to show the admissions committee what sets you apart from others in ways that test scores, grades and extracurricular pursuits cannot. Here are some tips to help you craft your best composition.

Pick your Topic.

When you are ready to write an admissions essay, pick something that you can easily discuss and a subject that it is truthful. You will never want to force an answer or lie. Tap into your passions, different experiences, or anything that makes you seem original, but make sure you answer the question they provided. If you do not, your essay will likely be overlooked.

Outline Your Essay and Start Writing.

Whenever you start writing your first draft, it is best to just let your thoughts flow freely, but also to approach it with some structure. Create an outline. Structure your essay so that it includes an introduction paragraph that states what you will be talking about, a body section with several paragraphs that relate to the introduction, and a conclusion paragraph that leaves an impression. Be original and creative to help show the admissions board a clearer picture of who you are and added reasons why you would be a great addition to the college.

Edits and Feedback.

Review your paper several times and make sure that your essay is concise and reads easily. Reading the draft out loud will help you find anything that does not sound conversational. Most importantly, after reviewing your own work, hand it over to family, friends or even teachers for their feedback. Make sure that the essay “sounds like you” by keeping everything in your own voice.  Remember to proofread your essay several times to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors.


  • Use imagery and clear vivid prose by appealing to the five senses. It helps keep the reader engaged.
  • Spend most of your time perfecting the introduction to help entice the reader to continue reading. Admissions officers usually only give 1-2 minutes per essay. Make sure you hook them in.
  • Conclusions are crucial and leave a critical last impression. Try to link it back to the introduction to create a balance to the essay without the need to summarize everything into a paragraph.
  • Take breaks! This essay is important, but do not make it your whole focus. Taking a break from the writing or editing is healthy. Just make sure you meet the deadline!

Best of luck and fingers crossed for the acceptance letters to come in the mail.


4 Tips to Help You Score a Scholarship

If college is in your future, consider applying for a scholarship to help reduce your tuition costs. Here are some tips to help improve your chance of being selected anytime you apply.

Find A Scholarship.

There are thousands of scholarships available so check out websites like the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, and Consider all of your options and to not discount smaller scholarships or organizations. Usually, small organizations who offer scholarships have less people apply which creates less competition. Plus, multiple small scholarships can add up quickly.

Prepare to Apply.

Create a skill resume. This valuable self-summary will allow you to talk about your abilities and what you can provide in the college environment. Be sure to tailor your skillset to the specific scholarship or organization where you’re applying. Read and follow all of the directions that are provided to you. If you cannot follow instructions you won’t likely be selected. When it comes to your references, be sure to give your teacher, counselor, instructors and supervisors time to write their recommendation letters. People are eager to help out, especially if you give them a reasonable deadline so they are not rushed.

Write an Awesome Essay.

Create outlines for each of your scholarship essays to keep all of your thoughts organized and concise. If you find that you have a hard time sitting and writing an essay, audio record your response and then transcribe the information. It is usually easier to write about something you are passionate about so try to keep that in mind when picking your subject matter for the essay. Also, be sure to give examples to strengthen your story and make it more believable. The most important thing whenever it comes to the essay is to proofread it…several times. Try reading the essay out loud to make sure it sounds right and have a few (trusted) people to review it as well.

Watch Out for Scams.

Unfortunately, there are some fraudsters out there who want to take advantage of students searching for scholarships. Take caution with any site that you review. If there is a site that is guaranteeing something or asking for you to pay money to get a scholarship, do not trust them. Also, do not trust anyone who is asking for your bank account, credit card, or social security number.

Good luck with finding the right scholarship for you. The Apple Federal Credit Union Education Foundation awards 30 deserving students’ $4,000 scholarships each year.  Find out if you’re eligible and apply by January 31, 2015.