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SMMC News & Events Blog
This blog highlights news, events, and informative articles on personal finance from University of Illinois System's Student Money Management Center. Feel free to navigate to different categories with the list of topics on the right or search for a specific topic next to the view all link below.

blog posts

  • UISAVES Week 1: Goal-setting

    A strong foundation to any financial plan are goals. Set a goal with #UISAVES to connect with resources to help. universityillinoissaves.org

  • Behavioral Economics: Five Ways to Shift Your Habits

    When considering decision-making in terms of your finances, it’s important to understand behavioral economics so we can develop healthier spending habits and save money along the way.

  • Podcast Partnership Launching with Illinois Division of Financial & Professional Regulation!

    A new podcast launched today, Making Cents of Money, co-hosted by our very own Andrea Pellegrini and Illinois Division of Financial & Professional Regulation's Nikki Giancola-Shanks!

  • Get $avvy - Grow Your Green $tuff Webinar Series (Spring 2020)

    The Spring 2020 Get Savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff webinar series schedule is out. Register today and #GetSavvy.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge.

  • Spring 2019 Understand Your Refund Quiz

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund.

    Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • Refinancing an International Education Loan in the United States

    Suhas Vetri Annamalai, SMMC Support Specialist and student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's College of Law, discusses multiple factors to consider when deciding if refinancing your international student loan in the U.S. is the right choice for you.

  • Man with over the ear headphones around his neck studying on a laptop. White text reads: Student Loans

    Podcast: Student Loans

    Episode 16 of Making Cents of Money, Student Loans, lays out some student loan statistics, considerations, and protections for borrowers in preparation for our webinar on Student Loan Repayment tomorrow!

  • UISAVES 2020 runs February 16 - March 7!

    The overall goal of UISAVES is to create a culture of savings at our three universities – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Chicago, and University of Illinois at Springfield. Read on to learn what we're doing for the 2020 campaign!

  • Get Savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff Webinar Series

    Get $avvy - Grow Your Green $tuff Webinars for 2021-2022

    The 2021-2022 Get Savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff annual webinar series schedule is out. Register today and #GetSavvy.

  • Chair with mortarboard / graduation cap hanging over the edge of the top of the chair with the words "6 Considerations for Finding Funding During COVID-19

    6 Considerations for Finding Funding During COVID-19

    Finding money for your education, especially grad school, can be more difficult now. Read the 6 considerations for finding funding during COVID-19 to learn about searching for fellowships. 

  • Understand Your Refund - Spring 2024

    Many students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn answers to frequently asked questions about refunds.

  • Publications & Resources Addressing Consumer Needs in U.S. During COVID-19

    We've compiled a list of federal websites & resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic that may be helpful in addressing some of your financial questions.

  • Know What You Owe Challenge

    Over half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge.

  • Quote from Oprah Winfrey: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

    Gratitude & Personal Finances

    There are so many things to be grateful for in this life. As we go into the holiday season, in this article we will discuss about how gratitude impacts our finances. 

  • Podcast: Budgeting

    In episode 20 of Making Cents of Money, Budgeting, Nikki, Andrea, and Jake cover a few of the most popular budgeting (or spending plan, if you prefer) methods to help you think about building a financial plan.

  • piggy bank with grad cap on money

    Podcast: Paying for College with Scholarships

    In episode 52 of Making Cents of Money, Nikki and Andrea talk to special guest, Kara Holloway, Director of Scholarships at UIC, about paying for college with scholarships.

  • Executing a Power of Attorney in Illinois

    A power of attorney (POA) is a tool to enable someone else to make decisions on your behalf. There are several types of POAs and their functions differ. Read this article to find answers to many questions about POAs.

  • Travel Planning Templates

    Getting excited to travel? You can use these templates to help get your planning started for your next trip!

  • UISAVES Week 2: Small Amounts Add Up

    An important part of building a savings habit is understanding how small amounts add up. 

  • Get Savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff Webinar Series

    Get $avvy - Grow Your Green $tuff Webinars

    The 2020-2021 Get Savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff annual webinar series schedule is out. Register today and #GetSavvy.

  • Mutual Funds vs Exchange Traded Funds

    Curious about automatically diversified investment options? Learn the key differences between Mutual Funds and ETFs, and find out which might be the best fit for your situation and financial goals.

  • Summer 2020 #UIMoney Tweet Chat Series

    SMMC is hosting several tweet chats this summer to help our students, alumni, and friends prepare for a variety of financial transitions during a time filled with uncertainty.

  • Credit Cards and Travel

    Travel credit cards have become very popular, offering a wide range of benefits if you use them wisely. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of using credit cards during travel and strategies for responsible credit card use.

  • Podcast: Understanding Credit

    Episode 5 of Making Cents of Money, Understanding Credit, explores the complicated world of credit to help demystify things like scores, reports, and credit management.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge - Spring 2022

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs April 1 - May 1, 2022.

  • Building Wealth After Graduation

    Podcast: Building Wealth After Graduation

    In episode 80 of Making Cents of Money, Building Wealth After Graduation, Donovan Sanchez returns to talk about how to navigate juggling multiple goals during the transition to life after college.

  • Podcast: Preventing Identity Theft

    Episode 4 of Making Cents of Money, Preventing Identity Theft, looks at identity theft and fraud statistics as well as how we can protect our money from potential theft.

  • UIUC - Emergency Grants Available for Graduate Students

    The application period is now open for HEERF III COVID-19 Emergency Grants for graduate students at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

  • airplane in sky over palm trees

    Podcast: Revisiting Travel

    In episode 53 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea & Nikki discuss a few updates to consider when traveling before re-airing the Time to Travel podcast from July 2021.

  • Empty grocery store shelves

    Food Insecurity Takes on New Meaning in 2020

    As Hunger Action Month comes to a close, we're reflect on how food insecurity has looked different in 2020 than in previous years. 

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge - Fall 2022

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs November 15 - December 15, 2022.

  • Podcast: Setting & Prioritizing Financial Goals

    In episode 75 of Making Cents of Money, Setting & Prioritizing Financial Goals, Nikki and Andrea discussed several strategies for setting, prioritizing, and re-prioritizing financial goals... just in time for the new year! 

  • Conscious Credit text on image of man on bench with headphones in, tablet in one hand and credit card in the other

    Podcast: Conscious Credit

    Episode 15 of Making Cents of Money, Conscious Credit, demystifies parts of the credit system in the United States thanks to our guests, Camaya Wallace Bechard, from University of Illinois Extension, and Natalie Daniels, from DePaul University. 

  • flatlay of stethescope, mobile phone, and clipboard with "Federal Student Loan Forgiveness" text

    Podcast: Federal Student Loan Forgiveness

    In episode 48 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea and Nikki talk about the differences between the federal student loan cancellation in Biden-Harris Administration's Student Debt Relief Plan and the temporary Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver that has a quickly approaching deadline of October 31st.

  • 2 women in a shop looking at an item together with white text: "Conscious Consumerism"

    Podcast: Conscious Consumerism

    In episode 59 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea and Nikki discuss the meaning of conscious consumerism and how aligning your spending with your values can make an impact.

  • Finding Funding Opportunities: Insights From a Current PhD Student

    Funding is one of the biggest factors in determining what kind of financial decisions you make as a graduate student. Taking on federal student loans, using your employment to fund your degree, using your savings, getting help from family members, etc. We all want to make decisions that will benefit us most--and while the above are all good options depending on your individual situation, nothing beats “free money” like fellowships, assistantships, grants and scholarships. 

  • Fintech and Digital Assets text on image of hands holding phone with money signs above it

    Podcast: Fintech and Digital Assets

    In episode 56 of Making Cents of Money, David DeCarlo, IDFPR's Regulatory Innovation Officer, discussed what consumers should know about digital assets and regulation in this new era of fintech.

  • Variable Insurance: Protection Product or Security?

    Learn about how variable insurance differs from traditional whole and term life insurance policies and what to keep in mind if you are considering variable insurance.

  • Podcast: Financial Security and Stress

    In episode 31 of Making Cents of Money, Financial Security and Stress, Andrea, Nikki, and Jake talk about statistics related to both financial security and stress and tips to deal with them.

  • Podcast: Credit Access

    In episode 42 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea and Nikki spoke with Camaya Wallace Bechard from University of Illinois Extension about access to credit, options for building and improving credit, and warning signs to watch out for.

  • UISAVES Week 3: Building Financial Habits

    The reality of personal finance is that it is personal and requires behavior change. Learn ways to make behavior changes easier to accomplish your goals.

  • Top of graduation cap with money and words overlaid that say "Return to Repayment UPDATE"

    Podcast: Return to Repayment (Student Loans Update)

    In episode 60 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea and Nikki talk about the current status of federal student loans and how to prepare for the return to repayment which is expected in the next few months.

  • COVID-19 Update: Changes to SMMC Services

    All financial coaching appointments will be conducted via zoom, and no in-person events or presentations will be available through SMMC until further notice. Read on for details.

  • Budget Hacks Presentation Title Slide with brain icon

    Budget Hacks - Get Savvy Webinar Recording

    Money can be messy - it's not just about numbers, calculators and excel sheets. If you're looking for new ways to manage your money mess, we have the budget hacks for you! Learn how to take what we know about human behavior and choices to build better financial habits.

  • Podcast: The Anti-Predatory Lending Database

    Episode 7 of Making Cents of Money, The Anti-Predatory Lending Database, discusses predatory lending and the Anti-Predatory Lending Database (APLD) in Illinois. Katie Liss from IDFPR Division of Banking breaks down predatory lending in mortgages and how the APLD helps mitigate some predatory lending practices.

  • Preparing for Retirement with pink piggy bank smiling

    Podcast: Preparing for Retirement

    Episode 12 of Making Cents of Money, Preparing for Retirement, discussed the retirement savings crisis, the different types of retirement plans that exist, and the Secure Choice plan in Illinois. Listen to special guest, Courtney Eccles, from the Illinois Treasurer's Office to learn more about the Secure Choice program for small businesses in Illinois.

  • Get $avvy - Grow Your Green $tuff Webinar Series

    The 2019-2020 Get Savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff annual webinar series schedule is out. Register today and #GetSavvy.

  • Podcast: Choosing a Financial Professional

    In episode 25 of Making Cents of Money, Choosing a Financial Professional, Andrea, Jake, and Nikki talk to Kathy Sweedler from University of Illinois Extension about type of financial professionals, credentials, and how to choose one that best meets your needs.

  • Wealth Building as a Balancing Act text over image of hand holding a balanced scale

    Podcast: Wealth Building as a Balancing Act

    In episode 55 of Making Cents of Money, Donovan Sanchez from University of Illinois' Financial Planning program talks about wealth building as a balancing act.