Creating SMART Financial Goals

The first step to creating a budget is to outline your financial goals.  Students often think the goal of a budget is to cut out all spending and eliminate their weekly latte habit, but budgeting is ultimately aligning someone’s spending with their values and goals.   

  1. Financial goals can be lumped into three broad categories: accumulation, debt reduction, and consumption.  Accumulation goals involve saving a certain amount of money.  This might include saving money for an emergency or a down payment on a large purchase.  Debt reduction includes reducing or eliminating debt.  Consumption goals are related to purchasing an item or experience.  
  2. Financial goals are best when expressed in the SMART formation.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. In short, you should set realistic financial goals with a specific time-frame and dollar amount.  
  3. Once your goals are in this format it’s very easy to add them to your budget simply by dividing the amount needed by the number of months you have and establish a monthly savings amount.  If someone wanted to save $1,000 a year from now they’d need to save around $83 a month.  A second year student saving to buy a car after graduation would need to $111 a month to have $4000 at graduation.  
  4. Consider automating your savings by splitting your direct deposit between a savings and checking account.  Another option is to step automatic transfers between checking and savings on a monthly or weekly basis.  


Examples of goals from each type 

  • I will set aside an additional $100 monthly on my student loan payment to be debt free by 5 years after college. 
  • I will save $5,000 for an emergency by October 1, 2023 by putting $139 per month in my savings account.  
  • I will have $700 for a summer road trip by May 1, 2021 by saving $100 per month.  

Black Mental Health Matters: 6 Strategies for Coping with Racial Trauma

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation. And that is an act of political warfare”.  – Angela Davis  

If you are a Black student, there is a possibility that you may be experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety, due to the civil unrest taking place in the world today. The attack on Black lives is not new to the United States. Black folks have experienced centuries of trauma; developing strategies of resistance and resilience to not only survive, but to also thrive.  

Racial Trauma or Race Based Stress, refers to the events of danger related to real or perceived experiences of racial discrimination. These include threats of harm and injury, humiliating and shaming events, and witnessing harm to other POCI (People of Color and Indigenous people) due to real or perceived racism (Carter, 2007). Symptoms of race-based trauma might include hypervigilance to threat, flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, suspiciousness, headaches, heart palpitations, anxiety, depression and more. While similar to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Racial Trauma differs in that it involves ongoing injuries to the exposure (direct and vicarious) and re-exposure to race-based stress.   

“So it’s not just me and my lifetime and what I’ve experienced – it’s the stories you heard from family members, it’s witnessing that of colleagues or peers, and now with social media and online mechanisms of folks sharing videos, it’s also witnessing things that you may not experience directly.” Maryam Jernigan-Noesi  

With the consistent ongoing injuries, exposure and re-exposure to race-based stress, it could possibly leave you and/or your family feeling helpless. Listed below are 6 strategies for managing your mental health and coping with racial trauma.   


Make time to process the recent events with your community, friends and family. It may feel helpful to know that you are not alone in your feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, and hopelessness. Here are a few organizations and university departments you can connect with on campus:  

Talk to a Therapist  

Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) provides individual and group mental health services, psychoeducational prevention and outreach programming to currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Check out the many options CCS has to offer Ohio State students:  

  • 1:1 Therapy  
  • Group Counseling  
  • SAFE Graduate Group – AA/Black/African Descent  
  • Sisters in Solidarity – Undergraduate women who identify as African American or Black 
  • Sisters in Solidarity – Graduate women who identify as African American or Black  
  • You Good Man? – Undergraduate men who identify as African American or Black  
  • Let’s Talk – Informal, drop-in mental health consultations on a first-come, first served basis. These are 15-20 minute confidential problem solving sessions with a CCS counselor.  

Other options for Wellness Support:  

  • The Buckeye Peer Access Line (PAL) is a non-emergency talk line that provides a space for students to engage in brief phone conversations in order to gain support and learn about campus resources.  
  • Wellness Coaching provides opportunities for you to gain awareness regarding your capacity to create the life you want to live, both now and in the future using the nine dimensions of wellness as a framework for generating goals that are meaningful to you.  

Engage in Activism  

Activism can show up in many forms. Engaging in activism can increase your sense of strength and power when experiencing feelings of hopelessness. It can also increase your knowledge; ultimately empowering you to advocate for your beliefs and invoke positive change in your community and in your world. Activism can look like the following:  

  • Creating and/or signing petitions.  
  • Facilitating and/or participating in non-violent protests or marches.  
  • Hosting and/or participating in educational presentations related to equity and inclusion.  
  • Working with organizations to support policy change locally and federally.  
  • Participating in social media campaigns. 
  • Researching, watching and reading about historical events, laws and policies that have directly influenced the Black community 
  • Donate and financially support people, organizations and businesses that align with your values.  

Limit news and social media engagement  

It’s okay to not always “be in the know” about everything going on in the world related to Black trauma. You can choose to not read the new article, to not look up the new hashtag, to not watch the social media video, and to not watch the latest movie or documentary. Be mindful of imagery and content that may be triggering for you and make the best decision for you and your mental health.  

Express feelings in a safe manner  

  • Journaling current thoughts, emotions and concerns  
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices such as yoga, time in nature, and walking 
  • Artistic Expression such as poetry, painting, dancing, photography etc.  
  • Talking and processing events with others  

Rest & Sleep  

Although it may be difficult as college students, it is important that you make time to rest intentionally. Getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night can strengthen your immune system, increase focus and productivity, reduce stress, enhance your mood and much more.  

Racial trauma involves ongoing injuries to exposure (direct and vicarious) and re-exposure to race-based stress. Addressing individual and systemic racism in the United States is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to protect Black minds and bodies, Black students must prioritize their mental health. Continue connecting with your communities to determine the best practices for you to implement you’re your collective care practice.  

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, it is to thrive with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style”  – Maya Angela 


Carter R.T. (2007) Racism and Psychological and Emotional Injury: Recognizing and Assessing Race-Based Traumatic Stress. The Counseling Psychologist. 35(1): 13-105.  

Election 2020: Civility Starts with You

The term “civility” can mean many things to many people. 

Common responses may include “being polite and respectful to everyone” or “treating others as you’d like to be treated.” Dr. P.M. Forni, professor and co-founder of the Civility Project at Johns Hopkins University, and author of the book Choosing Civility, says the following about the concept:

 “Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another.  It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication.  Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health.  Taking an active interest in the well-being of our community and concern for the health of our society is also involved in civility.”

In a contentious election year, the concept and practice of civility matters more now than ever.  According to Civility in America, an annual poll conducted by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate, in partnership with KRC Research, the majority of Americans (93%) believe that incivility is a problem in our society today. Alarming consequences of incivility include online or cyberbullying, harassment, violence, hate crimes, and intolerance (along others). Top reported factors contributing to the “erosion of civility” in America include (1) social media/the Internet; (2) The White House; (3) politicians in general; (4) the news media; and (5) political and social activists.  While these findings appear bleak, there is hope looking towards solutions to improve civility in our community.

Survey respondents recognized that the most crucial personal actions to improve civility in our world today involve (1) making an effort to be civil when treated uncivilly; (2) encouraging family, friends and coworkers to practice civility; (3) voting for political leaders who behave in a civil way; (4) committing to one act of civility or kindness regularly; and (5) speaking up or acting against incivility when witnessed. What other personal steps could you take to make Ohio State a more civil place?

Student Life is dedicated to building leaders and engaged citizens within Ohio State who will serve their communities and face difficult conversations in life with respect and integrity.  Demonstrating civility in our daily interactions with others is a foundational component of good leadership; being able to disagree without disrespect, listen beyond our assumptions, and implore others to do the same in return contributes towards a better society for all.

Check out OSU Votes to learn more about the student-led movement on campus dedicated to fostering civic engagement and encouraging student voter turnout. For those who have an interest in learning more, see the recommended reading list below as a good starting point on the subject. Both at Ohio State and in life, it is important that you do well and do good.  Civility starts with you!

Recommended Reading List:


By Natalie Fiato, Wellness Coordinator

Corona Beer Will Not Get Rid of Coronavirus Fear 

Even though coronavirus includes the name of a beer, it is important to know not to turn to alcohol to deal with the stress this virus has caused. The rise of 2020 COVID-19 pandemic came with a huge economic recession which has negatively affected mental health in addition to worsening the mental health of people who have already been suffering with mental illness and substance abuse disorders, in turn increasing the consumption of alcohol. In mid-July, a KFF Tracking poll was conducted and found that 53% of adults in the United States felt as though their mental health had been negatively impacted due to the stress that the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted. Much of this can be attributed to social distancing and isolation, which has heightened feelings of loneliness. In addition to loneliness, job loss elevated feelings of distress, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem which leads to higher rates of substance and alcohol abuse.  

Unfortunately, us college students are subject to experiencing these emotions at a higher rate. Due to the decline in people’s overall mental health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption and substance abuse increased by 12%. Many students feel the need to turn to alcohol as it is a depressant and induces feelings of relaxation. However, it can also reduce judgment, inhibition, and memory. Turning to alcohol to cope with unfavorable feelings in times like these can ultimately lead to problematic drinking in the future.  

While alcohol is not wrong to consume in moderation, using it as a coping mechanism has extremely adverse consequences. A physical dependence on alcohol can form, thus creating an addiction. Overusing alcohol can contribute to anger and irresponsible or destructive behavior that may be harmful to yourself or others. Using alcohol as a crutch can pose barriers to developing healthier coping mechanisms.  

If you or anyone you know has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and considers turning to alcohol, suggest alternative coping mechanisms. On campus, students can reach out to the Collegiate Recovery Community to find support as it relates to their alcohol and other drug use, attend Zoom fitness classes such as yoga to practice mindfulness, engage in physical activity such as going for walks, and reaching out to friends for support and comfort or a trained Peer Access Line peer.  

-Hansika Vamaraju, Alcohol Education Wellness Ambassador 

Breaking the Seal and Breaking the Bank

Many of the conversations around alcohol use revolve around either your physical and mental health, and physical safety while drinking. It makes sense why that might be, they are some of the most obvious and tangible negative consequences that come with use. However, it made me think: What are some of the other unintended consequences of drinking that we don’t think about so quickly? And better yet, what are some of the positive things that could come from refraining from drinking? Being a broke college student, I’ve been aware of my finances for a few years now. That begs the question: How much do college students spend on alcohol? 

According to the Huffington Post, even if you limit your drinking to the weekends, the average American can expect to spend $2,500 annually on alcohol alone. This does not include extra expenses that are often associated with drinking (think tips for the bartender, Uber/Lyft, food). This number assumes that a person is drinking only two (2) drinks per outing! This phenomenon can be described as “the latte factor.” This means that seemingly small purchases (an $8 drink) purchased frequently can add up over time to a large number ($2,500).  

While spending $2,500 on anything may make you cringe the way it makes me cringe, I wanted to take a look at some of the things that I would buy if I had that extra cash laying around. Of course I could invest it or pay down student loans, and I’m sure Ben, our Financial Wellness Coordinator, would advocate for that, but this is hypothetical! Feel free to think about what you may spend your extra money on! Here are the things I plan to acquire with the extra money from one year: 


  • The iPad Pro ($999) 
    • I enjoy staying up on gadgets as much as the next person. This iPad is INSANE! Plus, I came to Ohio State just before the incoming classes got iPads, touchy topic. I need one to take notes on like a cool person. Moving on! 

$2,500 – $999 = $1,501 

  • New TaylorMade golf clubs ($699)
    • New clubs means a better golfer, right? I’m really bad at golf, so I hope so! I would want to buy golf clubs because it would assist in my self-care activity. The better I play the more successful my self-care. 

$1,501 – $699 = $802 

  • A few pair of new shoes of course! ($600 – I would buy four pairs. Don’t judge me)
    • What can I say? I love a good pair of shoes! UltraboostsJordans, Nikes, and more. This money will go to good use in the style department. 

$802 – $600 = $202 

just upped my golf game, my shoe game, and became as cool as the class of 2022, and still have a good chunk of money left over! It blew my mind how much the average person spends on alcohol in a given year and made me realize there are some pretty cool things I could spend it on instead (or invest in, of course). 





Veganism and a Virus

You’re submitting your last assignment on Carmen. Done. As you shut your laptop and begin getting ready for bed, your phone alerts you about the COVID test you took three days ago. You’ve remained negative for months now, so you ignore the email and decide to check in the morning. A second notification catches your attention, but this time its not from Vault Health. The screen glows and screams your name. Your eyes stare in confusion. Your heart drops. Contact Tracing Team has a message for you.  

Many consider the stay at quarantine or isolation housing to symbolize a low point, being surrounded by complete strangers for ten days or being alone for fourteen. To avoid getting family members sick, I chose university housing over moving back home; my dilemma, however, was not about to be the walk of shame to Houck or lack of fresh air, but rather what I would be eating as a vegan 

Not eating meat in college in tricky; having to handle a diet while in confinement seemed nearly impossible. I called the front desk of the isolation dorm to let them know about my dietary needs and they referred me to Dining Services. For students who don’t eat meat, they bring up the exact same brown bag that the other food is brought in, but with plant-based meals. Until that happened, however, I decided to munch on two bags of potato chips and wash them down with distilled water. 

I felt like I was fifteen again.  

Younger me discovered vegetarianism/veganism as a trend that helped my skin and made me feel good. My naivety, however, drew me down a path of caution whenever I was presented with food: avoiding animal products at all costs, not letting anyone make me dinner (which is why now I know how to cook), and even calling sugar companies to make sure the sugar I ate was not refined through animal bones.  

I was obsessed with what I put into my body.  

As time went on, I became much more lenient with my relationship with food, which helped me better navigate social scenes with ease due to my rulebook filled with more lax policies. Eventually, Dining Services generously delivered me food such as soy milk for cereal, granola bars, grapes and pineapple, and dinners that included plant-based meat. There was clearly thought that went into these meals, and I want to thank Dining Services for making my journey in isolation as pleasant as it could be.   

If you are having issues with your diet while quarantining, please reach out to the front desk of your hall or call Dining Services to inform them. Healthy eating is such a valuable thing, and quarantining doesn’t mean it needs to go to the wayside. A link to the Student Wellness Center website is listed below for information on nutrition education and services 



– Noah Jagielski, Nutrition Wellness Ambassador 



1 Black Mask DIYed 4 Ways for SPOOKY SZN!

Ah autumn is upon us again, with cool air brings pumpkin patches, hot cocoa, bonfires, football, and fall themed face masks. If you are like me and aspire to have a face mask collection that rivals Nancy Pelosi’s (regardless of your political beliefs you have to admit her mask game is on point), then I imagine that you are already scouring the internet for a Halloween themed mask that matches your costume perfectly. Not to fear, the SWC is here to give you a quick, easy tutorial on how to DIY a simple black mask into 4 cheap Halloween themed masks.

First off supplies:


To make your masks, begin by planning out what you would like it to look like; look to Instagram, Pinterest, or at the photos below for inspiration. Really any costume can benefit from a mask accessory, it is all about flexing your creative wellness muscle! Below are examples of a jack-o-lantern, black cat, vampire, and a basic witch.


Once you have a pattern decided on, draw the design on your felt sheet. Keep in mind that to avoid pen marks on the front of your mask, you will cut out your pattern and then flip it over to glue onto your mask; this means that your pattern will be backwards so plan accordingly when drawing out.

Next, cut out your pattern and place on your mask prior to gluing to verify sizing and spacing; make adjustments as necessary. Carefully glue down design with fabric glue – remember you do not need to be excessive with the glue. Follow the instructions on the glue bottle; the brand I used said to let sit for 2 hours prior to using and 48 before washing. I would recommend purchasing glue that dries clear to avoid any unsightly glue marks on the front of your mask.

Once your glue is dry, accessorize accordingly to complete your Halloween look! You are now ready to have a stylish, spooky, and safe Halloween season.


Bonus DIY – Pumpkin Headband

Supplies – headband, hot glue, Halloween ribbon, and a plastic pumpkin

**The headband was an old one I had at the house, Halloween ribbon was on sale for $4.01 at Michaels and the plastic pumpkin is from the dollar section at Target. Overall the entire project cost less than $7.**

Wrap your headband with the Halloween ribbon, use your hot glue gun make a glue dot on the underside of your headband at the base (the spot that goes behind your ear) and secure the end of the ribbon to the headband. Continue to wrap adding a glue dot every few wraps to secure in place – wrap the entire length of the headband and secure the second end the same way you did the start. Once complete, add a big hot glue blob where you would like your pumpkin to land. Secure your pumpkin in place. Let dry and you are ready to go!

Fun for All During a Socially Distanced Fall

For many, the fall season is a time for hayrides, hoodies and Halloween. Though fall may look different this year, there are still many things that you can do to enjoy this festive season and stay safe. Keep reading for 4 ways to enjoy the Fall in central Ohio, while maintaining social distancing.  

  • Have a Fall Photoshoot 
    One of the signature signs that autumn has arrived is the changing of the leaves. As the green leaves transition to brilliant shades of red and yellow, the vibrant Metro Park scene in central Ohio are bursting with color waiting to be captured for the perfect picture. Grab your camera or phone and go on adventure to capture the beauty of fall in Ohio. Here is a website that has maps and locations of all the Metro Parks here in Central Ohio. 
  • Fall Movie Stream 
    Some of the great fall past times are scary movies and haunted houses. Although haunted houses may be put on pause this year, streaming services make it easier than ever to access hundreds of freaky flicks. Hop on a virtual chat, grab your snacks and enjoy a scary movie from a distance. Not into scary movies? Check out this list of scary movies that are so bad that they are actually funny.
  • Carve a Pumpkin
    Pumpkin carving is one of my all-time favorite fall activities! Grab a pumpkin at the local store or farm, obtain a carving kit (or check out your kitchen drawers for tools to use) and let your creative juices flow. Whether you enjoy creating complex works of art or prefer simple geometric shapes that vaguely resemble a face on your pumpkin, the act of cleaning and carving a pumpkin are great practices of mindfulness. Looking for a way to get your friends involved? Have a photo contest where you all can share your ghoulish gourds and vote for your favorites. Check out this video for some tips and tricks while carving your pumpkin.  

  • Enjoy a warm beverage 
    Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. One of the highlights of fall is the crisp, cool air that causes the hoodies and sweaters to rise out of the depths of our closets. The juxtaposition of the chill in the air with the warmth of fall beverage is second to none. Grab a warm cider, tea or coffee and get outside for a walk or morning read. If you are looking to add an extra splash of fall to your beverage stop by the supermarket and pick up some cinnamon sticks, clove, nutmeg, ginger and/or allspice to make your drink burst with fall flavors.  

Helpful Links: 

I got 99 problems and Drinkin’ Might Be One 

Our communities have had to adapt to new health concerns, policies, changes in employment, education barriers, and social lives. Many of our community members struggle to keep that future as they survive without assistance or safety nets to stay afloat.  In addition to the impacts brought by changes necessary for public health responses, there has been an ongoing series of protests and civil unrest taking place in an international response to racism and structural oppression. After the violent murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others, we must witness the U.S. culture of violence against Black people as it converges with a historical pandemic. How’s that for a 2-for-1 deal?  

Our country’s heritage of racism and colonialism has led to social disadvantages that affect our relationship to health and how it has largely been defined by hegemony. In fact, COVID-19 has shown a higher prevalence in Black and Latinx populations in comparison to white Euro-Americans. While risk is increased by having underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, which are highly prevalent in African Americans, these conditions are often related to a lack of access to health care and health affirming environments. The main determinant is who must leave their home. Black and Latinx people are more likely to work front-line jobs as essential workers, use public transportation, or live in multigenerational homes where social distancing becomes difficult (Oppel et. al 2020).   

People of color are forced to carry the burden of living as racialized people within interlocking systems of oppression and deal with the present threat of COVID-19. We are constantly bombarded by news reports, trending hashtags, and casual office conversations on Black death. It becomes easy to get caught up in the narrative that decides to be Black is to Suffer. This complex overlap of isolation, racial stress, wide-spread financial strain, and the disruption of support services could contribute to increased substance use or alcohol intake as we seek familiar, accessible ways to distract ourselves, seek comfort or self-medicate by dampening intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and other mental health experiences.  What’s more is that alcohol is cheap, easy to buy, and works fast. A 2017 study revealed that in young adults 18-22 years of age, “34.8 percent engaged in binge drinking and 9.7 percent engaged in heavy alcohol use (NIAAA)” in the last month.  

Moments such as these require a personal and community effort. In honor of the activism we’ve seen, I offer an act of resistance to those who are looking. Continue to find new ways to celebrate life by creating, inspiring movement, and finding things that bring you joy while acknowledging what doesn’t on a deeper level. Such acts are a refusal to be erased, particularly during a time in quarantine where it becomes easier to feel invisible, as well as ways we can lend ourselves more grace and care.  

Here are a few ideas to get you started: 


  • Practice self-compassion  
  • Grieve lost opportunities and set new goals that excite you, even if they’re small.  
  • Cry when you need to and laugh when you can  
  • Use counseling services provided by OSU (First 10 Free)    


  • Practice yoga 
  • Dance 
  • Go for a walk 


  • Meditation  
  • Finding online religious services or podcasts that align with your beliefs 


  • Paint (without sipping!) 
  • Learn a new skill like caring for plants 


  • Starting or joining a virtual book club/interest club 
  • Calling loved ones and checking in 
  • Identifying a trusted confidant 



Oppel, R., Gebeloff, R., & Rebecca, K. (2020, July 05). The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from 

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.) Fall Semester-A Time for Parents To Discuss the Risks of College Drinking. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2020, from 

-Faith Lewis, Wellness Ambassador  

Mindful not Mind Full

It’s easy to have your mind full of responsibilities in college, instead of being mindful. Stressful events are bound to happen no matter what. These events are often out of your control, but you can change the ways you respond to, and manage, your stress. College is a big transition, but there is a plethora of resources found online and at Ohio State to help you navigate these stressful times! 

Online Resources
Mindfulness, stress management strategies, and mental health resources can put you in control of your stress. The Greater Good in Action website provides practices of varying lengths and intensities that cover a bunch of different strategies to manage stress, including meditation, gratitude journaling, and thinking strategies. Each practice provides an easy to follow how-to guide as well!  

Curious about the science and research behind Mindfulness and stress management practices? The Global Wellness Institute has you covered. It provides a convenient place where you can access multiple research databases that provide empirical data and evidence for the various wellness approaches. You can learn about new therapies and techniques, as well as the science behind the why and how each wellness approach works! Each approach has a spotlight to introduce you to a few studies that can serve as the starting point for your research, a research portal to allow you to explore other research databases, and a studies-in-progress link that will appear if there are any studies that are currently underway for that specific wellness approach.  

Ohio State Resources
The Dennis Learning Center is a great resource at Ohio State that helps you with your academic endeavors through academic coaching, workshops, articles, and other resources to help you succeed and thrive academically. Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) is also available to you. CCS allows you to seek help from a mental health professional and is located on campus both in the Younkin Success Center and Lincoln Tower but offering virtual help this academic year!  

Another recommended resource is Wellness Coaching through the Student Wellness Center. Wellness Coaches use the Nine Dimensions of Wellness model and positive psychology practice to help your personal development, focus on your strengths, and generate goals that are meaningful for you. Wellness coaches are not licensed therapists, but they can direct you to additional resources if needed. This service, as well as many other Student Wellness Center services, is FREE to you as an Ohio State student! 


-Simon Ren, Stress Wellness Ambassador