Learning to budget is fundamental skill

Discipline is key while managing money
Monday, July 28, 2008 | 1:47 p.m. CDT; updated 3:12 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 28, 2008

With college comes newfound independence, but with this sense of freedom also comes a host of new responsibilities. One of the major obligations students face is learning a sense of fiscal acuity to manage their money.

Although college students might find themselves in different financial situations, learning how to budget is an indispensable skill.

When it comes to budgeting, the keyword is discipline, said Jamie Lynn Garret, a graduate student in the financial planning department at MU.

Garret advises students "to take a month and write down what you are spending and where you are spending it."

Also, Garret said to determine the amount of money you are making, and if the outflow is greater than the inflow, some trimming of expenditures may be in order. Garret also suggests students refrain from using their student charge, an option with the MU student ID that allows students to charge purchases at places such as the bookstore, campus dining venues and vending machines.

Along with credit cards, student charge gives students ready and easy access to things they want, perpetuating what Garret calls an "entitlement mentality."

The interest rate associated with student charge is also high, Garret said, so overusing this convenience is a quick way to steer yourself away from a budget. "If you can't pay the balance at the end of the month, a $10 T-shirt can end up costing you $200 in interest," Garret said.

Budgeting is also getting especially difficult considering the rising costs of gas and food.

"Living on campus is a big help," Garret said.

Garret also suggested carpooling when driving off campus, eating on the meal plan, setting a limit for eating out and purchasing used books to cut back on expenses.

For help creating a personal budget or to talk to a financial adviser, MU students can schedule a free appointment with the Office of Financial Success.


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