Finances: one of the obstacles students struggle with daily. Most students can attest that college is a time when money is short; however, there are ways to scrimp and save without eating ramen noodles every night.
For incoming freshmen and students in general who struggle with budgeting, you are not alone. I’m a sophomore, and last year, I had to learn how to budget my own expenses. It’s something that everyone has to deal with, freshmen and seniors alike. Keep in mind that going out every night isn’t the most logical thing to do.
“You can do things that are fun and don’t cost a lot of money,” said senior Finance major Gabriel Griffin. “Go find an adventure, grab a group of friends and pool your money so that you’re not spending as much.”
Sometimes all you can think about is the gratification you will receive from a purchase, yet often the money spent is not worth the cost in the future.
“Develop a discipline that leans towards long-term gratification and away from instant and spontaneous purchases,” said Marketing alumna Jasmine Ridges. “Also, realize that you won’t be without forever and that you won’t be in college forever, so stay level-headed and purchase accordingly.”
Both Griffin and Ridges agree that, as a college student, you should never try to participate in all of your friend’s activities. Living within your means, even when it means passing up on a social event, is an important factor in saving money.
“Living within your income means that when you can’t afford to do something, don’t do it just to be included,” Griffin said.
Students may struggle with setting a budget because they rely on their parents for money or they lack management experience. It can be challenging to find a starting point when creating a personal budget, but don’t let fear keep you from making solid financial decisions.
Alumnus and former ORU student body President, Dexter Sullivan, had a knack for budgeting that began long before college. As a student in the Business department, he used college to increase in his planning and forecasting capabilities.
“That’s where I started reading things that challenged my relationship with money and spending,” Sullivan said. “It takes time to build a financial future that counts, so as early as we can, we should be making decisions that will set us up for long term success.”
A lot goes into building a secure financial future for yourself, but it is never too late (or too early) to start. Sullivan believes in “giving 10-15%, saving 15-20%, learning with 5%, and committing to live with no more than 60%.” It all begins with building the right habits and planning.
Planning involves being aware of the responsibilities attached to taking student loans and investing in credit cards. According to Ramon Walker, another graduate of ORU’s Business department, credit cards are not always a financially sensible choice. As a former financial literacy professor, Walker understands the importance of giving students an education in finances and how money works.
“I don’t think college students should have credit cards. There needs to be more credit education first,” said Walker.
Because students must pay back all student loan money with interest, Walker doesn’t recommend acquiring credit while in college. However, some credit cards can be better than others.
“Secured are better than unsecured. Low interested are better than high. Fixed are better than variable with exceptions,” says Walker.
For most students, this can be a lot of information to take in, but learning the importance of making wise choices with your money is a lesson that lasts a lifetime. You’re not on your own, either, there are plenty of resources to help you get started planning a healthy budget, like Dave Ramsey’s budget sheets, as well as websites like mint.com and everydollar.com.
“Start small and work your way up,” said Walker.