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Student Budgeting

By Ali Richardson, Staff Writer

College comes with new responsibilities including attending class, going to work, doing homework and studying. Another responsibility would be to start paying for things as well. With the quick access to debit and credit cards, one must be careful on spending.

Dr. Jodie McGaughey, the vice president of finance, gives some tips on how to manage money in college.

“They need a budget first and foremost. They need to know a little bit about where they spend their money, and make a budget and stick with it. If they’re not good with their debit card, in other words, it’s too easy to spend with a debit card, then use cash. And put cash in envelopes if you have to, and only spend that amount of cash. I think if most people do it right, they can use their debit card and some kind of free software,” McGaughey said.

There are multiple online software systems that are able to connect to your bank account which can help you manage, track and update your budget online from possibly anywhere.

“I recommend Mint. This is a free software, it connects to your bank account, so all your transactions come across and will track what kind of expense it is, and it’ll measure your budget as it goes along. It keeps track of your spending that way,” McGaughey said.

Not every budgeting type or software may work for you, and that’s okay. Look into a couple to see what fits your budgeting style the best.

“Do your research, understand what things are going to cost. Figure out how much it costs to go to the movies, go out to eat, how much gas they will need to buy if they plan to go home once a month, those types of things need to be part of the budget, and not something to forget. Textbooks are another thing that one needs to know. It’s a brand-new expense that a freshman hasn’t had to pay for before,” McGaughey said.

Living can get expensive. It’s safe to keep track of it so that you do not overspend.

“Try to live within your means, get comfortable with school, and see how school goes. You know yourself. You know your limits. You know what you can do but it’s a new situation it’s a new place,” McGaughey said.

“Find an easy way to keep track of it, and stay within the budget. That’s hard sometimes because you’ve already spent your movie allowance for the month, and then all your friends want to go see the new [movie out.] Do your research, find out what things cost and plan that out over time. Don’t just live day to day, but really have a plan,” McGaughey said.

If you have any problems figuring out how to budget or run into a problem trying to calculate things, the business and financial aid office are willing to help out.

“Our business office and financial aid office love answering non-financial aid and business office questions. [Both] the business office and financial aid office are both available to help with those types of things and answer questions,” McGaughey said.

Alyssa Castillo, a junior at Hardin-Simmons University budgets, and gives some of her own tips on budgeting as she lives off campus.

“When I get my pay check, I plan my next two weeks out over it. I write what all expenses I have to pay. I live off campus, so I have to pay rent, Wi-Fi, electricity and for a cat,” Castillo said.

She tracks how much she will need to spend for each month, then saves what is left over.

“I’ll save [this much] for all my expenses and then the rest of it would go to my emergency money. And my emergency money is normally like luxury money, like if I wanted to see a movie or go out to eat,” Castillo said.

Castillo does note that sometimes it can be really tempting to eat out a lot, but she tries to avoid it.

“Really ask yourself, do I need to go to Chick-fil-a today? Am I going to die without it? Do I need to go to Raising Cane’s? If I have food at home, then I’ll eat at home. That way I can use that money for an emergency [that might come up],” Castillo said.

To help herself not spend, she sets limits on her spending each time so that she doesn’t overspend.

“I always tell myself I have less that what I really have,” Castillo said.

Budgeting has helped her to figure out how much she has really has to spend.

“There’s a noticeable difference now because I know how much money I have because I know how to spend my money,” Castillo said.


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