Event teaches students how to budget money

“Adulting” can be difficult, especially when it comes to budgeting money.

Anyone wanting to learn how it’s done, and receive a free T-shirt, can attend “The Game of Life” Nov. 2, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Commons.

To play the game, students start out with an income allowance, said Suzanne Berry, Student Government Association Budget Oversight Committee member. They then receive a card with categories like entertainment, food and living expenses.

“You have to think critically to decide, ‘If I spend this much on food and this much on rent, how much will I have for entertainment?’” she said.

SGA started the event last year and decided to make it annual this year because of its popularity, Berry said.

Like last year, SGA will work with Listerhill Credit Union to bring the event.

Listerhill associates enjoy opportunities to bring awareness of financial responsibility to students, said Matthew Van Ormer, director of Financial Literacy and Listerhill representative.

“Financial literacy is important to everybody, not just college age students,” he said. “At any point in your life, no matter how far along you are, you’re going to be receiving money of some kind. You need to know how to manage it. If you start off early with college age students, then you might be able to build some habits that will last through life.”

Berry said she is excited for the event because it teaches students without them realizing.

“I learned a lot from this last year,” she said. “With me having a full-time job during the summer, I learned, ‘Ok, I can put this much toward tuition and this much toward gas and other necessities.’ The fact that students will be able to budget themselves will show them (it) isn’t as hard as they thought it would be.”

Freshman Aurora Russel, who said her employment comes from choral performances, said she would be interested in attending.

“Right now, I’m putting my money in a savings account for next semester to pay for college,” she said.

She said she makes purchases in the moment when necessary but that the event would help her to plan better.

For any student who can’t make it to the event but would like to start budgeting, Van Ormer has a few tips.

“The best budget is one that you’ll use,” he said. “There’s a thousand different ways that you can budget. There’s apps, websites, programs, excel spreadsheets, notes on your phone — but it doesn’t do you any good if you never use it.”

Some people approach budgeting like a plan to be healthier, while a better idea is to start small, he said.

“The say, ‘I’m going to work out twice a day, run five miles a day, only eat broccoli and lose all this weight,’” he said. “That’s too hard to start with.”

Instead of starting with multiple categories and price limits, he said he suggests writing down regular spending first and then goals. He also suggests beginning with broad spending categories.

“You can always define it and change it later,” he said. “That’s the cool thing about budgeting. If the process isn’t working, try a different way. There’s a million ways to do it. “

If managing money interests students, Berry said to also look out for SGA’s FAFSA filing event and tax filing informational next semester.