“Money Talk” Steps to keeping a balanced budget

By: Luis Enrique Diaz (adapted from Lauren Schwahn of Nerdwallet.com)

Creating a budget that accounts for textbooks, housing and other expenses can cut stress and over spending. It can also help shape healthy financial habits for the future!

Before creating your budget, be sure to factor in all of your potential income for the time you are building this budget for. Is anyone helping you finance your college career? Keep everyone involved with your finances in the loop by discussing the amount of money you will be receiving from them and the times that you will be seeing that money. This ensures that you will have all of your money accounted for. It also keeps your expectations in check!

Who is paying for college and how.

Have a conversation before the start of each school year to decide whether your family will pay for costs out-of-pocket or if you’ll need to get a job, rely on financial aid, or combine these options.

What expenses to expect.

In addition to tuition, you’ll have to budget for other college costs, like transportation and school supplies. Make a list of likely expenses, estimate the cost and agree who pays for what.

FAFSA and taxes.

Whether a parent or guardian claims you as a dependent or you file taxes on your own determines whose information is required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and who can claim tax credits and deductions. Discuss your financial status before each school year and address any changes, like a raise or job loss.

Credit cards and bank accounts.

If you’re considering opening a credit card account for the first time, are younger than 21 and don’t work full time, you’ll need a co-signer: a parent or other adult. You’ll want to talk about ground rules, like using a credit card only for emergencies and defining what constitutes an emergency. Approach new financial products with caution and be careful not to take on debt. If you plan to directly deposit funds from a job or allowance, look for a checking account that offers low (or no) fees.

~ Follow this Step by Step Process! ~

 Talk it out. Before building a budget, chat with everyone who will be involved in financing your education. Discuss who is paying, expected expenses, financial aid and perhaps opening a new credit card or checking account.

List expenses. Anticipate the costs of textbooks and school supplies, room and board, transportation, clothing and discretionary spending.

Track your spending. Once at school, monitor your spending. Determine needs and wants and decide which nonessentials you can trim.

Take budgeting to the next level. If you’re in good financial shape, start setting yourself up for the future. Create an emergency fund, for example, or plan for paying off student loans.

                               Keep your future self in mind

If you’ve managed to stay afloat as a student, you’re in good shape. Continue on a financially healthy path by thinking about life after graduation. If you’re working and able to build a cushion, set financial goals, like creating an emergency fund or saving for a trip — and don’t forget about any student loans you might have to pay off after graduation.

Refer to the links below for more information!




Saving Over the Summer

Everyone has a something they need to save their money for. Some college students may be saving for concert tickets, spring break, a car, or their tuition. Saving money in college can be difficult. During the school year, you may only be able to work ten hours a week, if at all. By the time you pay all your expenses, your money is gone. However, for many of us, the summer is almost four months of being stuck at home with nothing to do but work. This is a great opportunity to start saving money, as long as you learn to control your spending.

Summer gives us the opportunity to build up our finances, but it also presents the challenge of not spending it all. Budgeting can be especially important in the summer, when eating out daily is an option that is hard to say no to. You should begin making your budget by first listing out everything you spent money on each day for a week. This includes everything, the coffee you get every morning, gas, restaurants, groceries, etc. Multiply this by four to get the amount of money you spend each month. Be sure to add monthly expenses like rent, car insurance, and credit card payments. Finally, consider payments that may only occur once or twice a year, like car maintenance or tuition bills. Divide these yearly expenses by twelve in order to add it to your monthly budget. Compare your monthly budget to the amount of money you make a month. If you are spending more than you make, you need to either find ways to reduce your spending, or increase your income. Budgeting apps, such as Mint or Daily Budget, can be really helpful in tracking your expenses and limiting your spending. There are also automatic saving apps, such as Digit or Acorns, that will take small amounts of cash from your bank account to be saved based on your spending (See BuzzFeed News).

Saving over the summer can be a game changer. The most important thing is to make a plan and stick to it. Only got out to eat twice a week as opposed to everyday. Going to the grocery store and making your own food is usually cheaper than eating out. Instead of spending money on gas and parking to go to the beach, tan in your backyard or go to a lake or pond or community pool in your neighborhood. Summer is a great time to save money and is especially important for those who do not work during the school year. Those who do not work during the school year should look ahead and plan out how much money they are going to need once classes resume. So, while you are taking a break from school this summer, think ahead about what you need to save for and create a budget that works for you.

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