managing your money

Managing money: the things you really need to know

By: Sagan H., Innovation in Society/Justice Studies major, 4+1 Program (MSTP), former Student Success Coach

Money is a hard topic to talk about in all stages of life – especially if you're a college student who may be dealing with student loans, paying large out-of-pocket expenses for the first time, and saving up for big things. When I had to pay for my parking pass up front my freshman year, I nearly had a heart attack!
However, personal finances don’t need to be scary. I’m here to offer some helpful tips. Now, I realize it’s pretty easy to Google “money tips” and get hundreds of “top 15 budgets tools” or “10 ways to save money in 2021” articles, but hopefully I can give you some student tips that are a little more applicable.

  • Pick a budget (and tools) that work for your sources of income.
    Excel budget sheets and apps often have budget tools for those making a salary, which isn’t the typical income for students. Most students work part-time or have some form of income that isn’t as stable as salaries. Pick budget tools that work for these non-traditional income flow and create your budget with variability in mind.
  • Start thinking long term now!
    Investing can be super scary, but it doesn’t need to be. Take my story, for example. I opened a Roth IRA at 19, and put 20 bucks aside every month. This money then gets invested into a mutual fund of my choosing which offers a steady return on investment (ROI). This is my retirement/later life fund that will build wealth over time.
  • Look into high yield savings accounts.
    Traditional banks typically offer savings accounts with small interest rates of 0.06%. So, if you put in $1,000 in a normal savings account, you’ll get 60 cents back. However, high yield saving accounts offer 0.5%, giving you 5 dollars back on that same $1,000! So, if you’re placing money into a savings account hoping for growth, think about high yield saving accounts.
  • You don’t necessarily need to completely cut-out the things that make you happy.
    A lot of articles about saving money will push the narrative that cutting-off iced coffee will make you a millionaire. I’m of a different opinion. I love getting my venti Dirty Chai. It makes my day better and I'm still able to save money, invest regularly, and folloow a great budget that keeps me on track. Definitely scale back or make adjustments if you notice you’re completely over-spending, but don’t trade away small joys for saving a few dollars.

We are all going through a crazy time of transition and everything is changing, and learning how to manage money is part of it. So, take the time to create a budget, always pay your bills on time, and divide any left-over disposable income into savings opportunities like a vacation fund, future house/car nest egg, or even spend it (wisely) on something that will make you smile. 

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