Students should budget and learn smart spending

For students, figuring out how to spend money efficiently can be difficult, but budgeting an income in college is a great way to develop smart spending habits.

“I think students have a problem budgeting because we are so young and it wasn’t really taught in high school,” said sophomore Ashley Southard. “Planning is important and helps in emergencies. I always try to save $100 in case something happens.”

When budgeting finances, prioritizing spending is important, said Economics and Finance Department Chair Doug Barrett.

“The first thing I would say is to take care of the absolutes — food, water and shelter,” Barrett said. “Students will have different situations such as living at home with parents, by themselves or on campus, so this means different things for different students. Essentially, you still need to take care of the most important things first.”

Budgeting off-campus is difficult because students have to consider expenses such as monthly bills and gas for commuting, said sophomore Colton McCormick.

“Food also is something you have to keep in mind,” McCormick said. “You have to decide if you’ll get takeout or buy groceries and actually fix something. And you also have to take things for your apartment into consideration like paper towels, soap and toilet paper.”

After taking care of the essentials, it is important to carve out money for what you enjoy, Barrett said.

“I think every person needs discretionary money to spend on what makes them happy, like books, concert tickets or things like that,” Barrett said. “You have to have something to break the monotony.”

Senior accounting major Hannah Aycock said she has learned a few tips for budgeting, such as the envelope system.

“You allocate a certain amount each month for specific parts of your budget, and if you don’t spend all your allocated money, say for clothes, you can build up the fund and reward yourself later,” Aycock said. “Also, be wise and save for the big things. Don’t go out to eat every night if you know you have a friend’s birthday dinner coming up soon.”

Students should also consider college as an investment in the future, Barrett said. They should acknowledge and try to understand what they will gain from an experience before writing it off as too expensive.

“Some students might forgo an opportunity to study abroad because of the cost, but the experiences it brings you is worth it,” Barrett said.

Students who are working to get through college should also remember to put education first and only take on what they can handle, Barrett said.

“You have to ask yourself if you’re that student who can easily balance (school and work) or not,” Barrett said. “In general, you need to be aware of the maximum level you can work and still be able to perform well in class.”

Finally, Barrett said, remember that spending has consequences, and judge the value of purchases carefully.

“When you make a decision to spend money today, you won’t have it for tomorrow,” Barrett said.