Budget Let’s Talk Money
In college, students definitely learn a lot, but was your student ever really taught the best way to budget and handle finances when it comes to how much to spend? Perhaps this is because it will vary based on need, ability, preparedness to handle the responsibility, what an allowance should cover, and so on. I finally realized that a budget might be handy after the first week of school when all of my friends asked me to eat out all the time. When I checked my bank account at the end of the week, I spent an absurd amount of money. Let’s just say, thanks to a budget, I never let that happen again!
College is not only about academics, but also about learning how to navigate the real world. Becoming financially savvy is part of that. First things first, students need to sit down with their family members so everyone is on the same page. It is important to determine an average number that one should be spending throughout a week. Of course, that number should fluctuate a little higher and a little lower depending on the week but, when students have a set number in mind, it creates structure. Personally, I always try to save as much money as I can for the weekends because I enjoy going to local restaurants and bars which can honestly get pricey. When students have an average spending number, it is a lot easier to portion out where their money is going.
Families should also discuss if students should get a job, which most students have by the way! During my freshman year, my family and I had the discussion that if I got a job that money would go towards things like going out to the bars and stuff like that. My weekly allowance was strictly for food and any other living necessities. This also allowed me to feel secure and not stressed at all when it came to going out with friends. I would work at the local elementary school aftercare two days a week and it definitely allowed me to have some financial freedom.
Learning about money…
Another thing students and families should start to think about is getting a college credit card. It may be smart to start building good credit for when students graduate college. I would strictly only use my credit card for specific things and my mom and I would sit down the same day each month to make sure everything was on track and paid off.
When it comes to food, by the middle of the year, the food they serve as meal plans can definitely get kind of boring. I found great ways to change up my meals while only using free items in the cafeteria. My favorite quick lunch was a smoothie bowl. I would dump a smoothie into a bowl and load it with tons of granola, fresh fruit, and honey. This allowed me to be full for hours and saved me the $12 I would have spent at a juice shop. There are also so many different kinds of restaurants around campus that are included in the meal plans. Students should challenge themselves and try every meal option on campus to see what they like most; it’s fun and free!
It is also super beneficial to take advantage of IU’s free activities across campus. On a rainy night, it is always fun hitting up the campus bowling alley with a group of friends. My personal favorite activity is finding free concerts around campus. Typically food trucks come and there is plenty of live entertainment. Obviously, none of this is set in stone. It all depends on your family’s personal choices and financial decisions. Let’s just say that this is an important conversation to have and it may sound nice to blow it off but it’s better to have sooner than later.
Madison Stutman, IU Intern
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