Set a Budget.
It’s easy for a college student to get overwhelmed about money. Some people have jobs, some don’t, but we all have expenses. I’ve created a Student Budget Spreadsheet to help you figure out where your money is going and how much you have to work with after paying for everything. Allow me to explain…
The expenses are listed per month. Rent is the amount you pay each month, and utilities are all of the add-on services not included (most commonly electricity). Depending on your situation, you may be responsible for paying tuition and other related expenses, so there is a space to figure in school-related expenses. Everyone has to eat, so a food category is included that separates what you buy to stock your kitchen, and what you spend when out with friends. Some students bring their cars to campus, so there is a very basic category devoted to figuring out those expenses. There is also a category for pets so you can be proactive in thinking about their health and care. Finally, under the miscellaneous category, there are other things to consider when setting a budget, such as laundry (boring but necessary), entertainment, shopping (my favorite), and hobbies. I tried to make the list of expenses as exhaustive as possible without getting too specific, but if I left anything important out, please tell me in the comments and I will update the file! Obviously, not all of these categories apply to everyone, so put a “0″ in for whatever row isn’t applicable.
There’s also a column to enumerate sources of income. The miscellaneous row could be used for scholarships, research studies, etc. There’s also a row to specify monthly savings for people interested in being proactive about putting away money. Whatever money is leftover is computed at the bottom of the spreadsheet.
A few handy tips:
- Account for things that don’t happen every month, like car repairs, vacation, gifts, etc.
- Track your spending to make sure you’re sticking to your budget and that your budget is accurate
- If the above budget isn’t exhaustive enough for your needs, visit the Student Credit and Money Management office (more details on that later) for a much more in-depth version
Get a UI Bank Account.
Before even starting school at the University of Iowa, my parents encouraged me to open a University of Iowa bank account. At the time, the UI bank was the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. However, the UI bank is now Hill’s Bank. If you want to avoid ATM fees (due to widespread Hill’s Bank ATMs around campus), and have quick access to your money and bank tellers (they have a branch located in the IMU), then this is the bank for you. I didn’t close my account from back home – just added on a new one. Depending on how you manage your money, this may complicate things, so undertake at your own risk. Cathy Fitzmaurice-Hill of Student Credit and Money Management concurs that its a good idea to establish a local checking account. It gives you a connection to the community, and bank tellers that are familiar with you are more likely to help you when problems occur.
Get a Credit Card?
Photo credit: http://premierconsolidationloans.com/credit-cards/
Credit cards are not for people who have no spending plan, nor are they for people who don’t have enough money to pay for their big purchases. I got a credit card so that I could start building credit while I’m still in school. There are plenty of good reasons to start building credit now. When you graduate, you will likely start looking for a job and will be applying for loans. It would be a shame to lose out on a job because of a lack of financial history, or not be able to buy a car because you have no credit to show that you’re capable of paying for it. We live in a credit society and its very difficult to get buy without one. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the psychology of getting things without immediately paying for them, so don’t go into it blindly. If you’re under 21, you’re required to show proof of being able to pay or have a parent co-signer. If you need help managing your money, it is an especially good idea to have a parent co-signer that can keep track of your spending habits and make sure you’re on track. I make it a rule to not put anything on my card that I couldn’t immediately pay off. A bad credit score can hurt you in so many ways, including higher interest rates. A good rule of thumb is to not exceed 30% of your credit limit in any given month. Being a good credit card user has additional perks in the form of points and rewards… I’ve already earned $100′s of dollars worth of gift cards to stores I love.
Get Personalized Financial Advice.
Still have more questions? The Student Credit and Money Management office, located in the IMU, is here to solve your problems.You can meet with a consultant that can help you with questions about many different topics, including budgets, credit cards, and dealing with debt. For issues regarding student loans, see the Office of Financial Aid.
What financial tips would you give to a student?
@MaddyOsman on Twitter
Original Post: http://imu.uiowa.edu/news/2012/10/18/get-your-finances-under-control-2/