Aug 242004
Authors: Erin Skarda

Living away from home can be an exciting experience, but when it

comes to managing expenses, many students find themselves getting

into trouble.

Being responsible for paying for rent, bills, food and

entertainment can be overwhelming for students who have not yet

developed a method of budgeting. Many times students spend before

thinking, turning this journey into a nightmare.

Kelly Shoemaker, student manager at Off-Campus Student

Services/Resources for Adult Learners, said few students ask for

help budgeting.

Shoemaker, a senior business major, recommends students needing

assistance in managing their finances come in and pick up a budget

workbook. This workbook is designed to “help you develop a simple

and practical guide for managing your money,” as it states on the

first page.

According to the budget workbook, a key to money management is

having a plan that requires students to think before spending and

identify their financial goals and spending habits. It also

suggests setting aside money for saving before spending, something

Shoemaker agrees with.

“Students should not forget the importance of saving,” Shoemaker

said. “Often students won’t save for the summer rent and come May

there’s no money to pay for it.”

Shoemaker said students often waste money on expenses such as

alcohol, fast food and going out to dance clubs every week. While

these purchases may not be too expensive, she pointed out that they

could add up.

Misty Gillette, the branch manager at First National Bank in the

Lory Student Center, said that while a large amount of their

customers are students, the majority of them do well when it comes

to their accounts.

Gillette said some students get into trouble with their Visa

Check Card, which allows them to make purchases like a credit card,

but the money they are spending comes directly from their checking


“(Many students) don’t write their transactions down which can

allow them to make a purchase one day and overdraw the next day,”

Gillette said. “It doesn’t come through right away, which is not

anything we have control over.”

When students find themselves lost in their finances, Gillette

said talking with a representative from their bank might help put

them back on track.

“The first step is to come in and let a banker know of the

problem so we can talk it through,” Gillette said. “Let us help

them balance their checkbook or sometimes it’s easier to just start


Gillette said there are resources available at First National

Bank to prevent students from overdrawing from an account.

“We do have things to utilize so you don’t overdraw,” she said.

“We can link a checking and savings account together or we have a

First Credit Line with overdraft protection.”

While Gillette said she doesn’t see many students getting in

trouble with credit cards, Meghan Martin, a sophomore business

open-option major, said she thinks it is one of the biggest

mistakes college students make.

“(One mistake is) getting credit cards and not realizing how

much you’re spending until you get the bill and freak out,” Martin

said. “Bouncing checks is a big one too.”

Martin and Shoemaker agree that eating out instead of cooking

food at home can deplete finances quickly.

“It’s hard with school – lots of students don’t want to cook,

but it’s cheaper to make food than buy it,” Martin said.

For students that are having money problems, there are lots of

ways to cut back on spending.

“Basically a lot of students are used to luxuries their parents

have where as living by themselves they have to adjust,” Shoemaker

said. “You don’t have to have cable TV and Internet.”

Shoemaker also recommends riding a bike to campus to save on gas

money and using a fireplace if you have one for heat in the


Martin said from her experiences it is important to remember to

put money away for when you need it.

“Some advice is that you should watch what you’re spending and

be more conscious,” Martin said.

Financial Plan

* Live within your income

* Realize personal goals more effectively

* Develop economic competence and financial goals

* Maintain a good credit history

* Spend Wisely

Identify your Spending Habits




Q’s and facts about your spending personality

I often prepare a list and don’t add items at the store.

I don’t shop to lift my spirits or fulfill an emotional


Salespeople usually don’t sway me.

I am not extravagant on gift expenditures.

I never run out of money before the end of the month.

I read labels carefully before I make a purchase

I use the phone directory and advertising to comparative


When comparing prices, I always figure the cost of delivery,

installation, etc.

I always send the enclosed warranty to the manufacturer.

I keep written record of all my expenditures.

I can be entertained without spending money

If your score is:

* 5 or more YES: Responsible shopper

* 1 to 2 YES: Reassess your spending habits

* 0 YES: Careless Shopper


Source: Budget Workbook, Off-Campus Student Services

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