CCD shares top tips to help students budget and finance their futures

0
57
black payment terminal
With the class of 2021 soon approaching their graduation date (or at least the end of their final semester), many students are facing the anxiety that comes with adulthood, especially as it pertains to money and finances. In a webinar titled “Budgeting For Your Future”, Beth Settje shared tips to start students on a path of good personal finance. Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

We all know that the transition from high school to college came with a fair share of difficulties and challenges, but what about the transition out of college into the adult world? How do we start a budget? How do we file our taxes? How do we start to invest our money to turn a profit? In a webinar titled “Budgeting For Your Future,” Beth Settje, associate director of College to Career Transitions and Alumni Engagement at the Center for Career Development (CCD), shared tips to start students on a path of good personal finance. 

“A budget is different from a spending plan,” Settje said. “A budget is where you have an estimate of your income and it is a set amount that you are allowed to spend for a given period of time. A spending plan is a little bit different because you can determine where you want your spending to go, so you outline how you want to spend.” 

“A budget is where you have an estimate of your income and it is a set amount that you are allowed to spend for a given period of time. A spending plan is a little bit different because you can determine where you want your spending to go, so you outline how you want to spend.”

Beth Settje, Associate Director of College to Career Transitions and Alumni Engagement at the Center for Career Development

Settje began by dismantling the apprehension around building a budget for yourself by explaining how you can think about it more positively. 

“I think a lot of people hear the term budget and they get really scared about that and just put that negativity on it,” Settje said. “And so I’d like you to think about it more in a positive way. Think of it as a spending plan.” 

crop payroll clerk counting money while sitting at table
When it comes to budgeting, the idea may seem daunting for many people. In fact, many people associate budgeting with limiting their desires, however it does not have to be an overcomplicated process. The best way to budget is through the acquisition of a spending plan, where you identify your wants and needs. This way, you are able to allocate visually where your money is going and easily identify areas where money could be best allocated somewhere else, or even, saved. Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The best way to begin your spending plan is to distinguish your wants versus needs. Making a simple list of all the expenditures of your daily life and writing them under a need and a want column allows you to better visualize where your money is going. 

“When you start doing that and putting down the actual price,” Settje said. “It really does make one think for a moment and pause before spending. This is a good way to start thinking about budgeting and spending.” 

““It really does make one think for a moment and pause before spending. This is a good way to start thinking about budgeting and spending.”

Beth Settje, Associate Director of College to Career Transitions and Alumni Engagement at the Center for Career Development

While certain expenditures are unavoidable, such as laundry detergent or toilet paper, it is important to look and see where you can save money. For example, buying liquid detergent as opposed to detergent pods can save you $0.16 per load of laundry. While that may seem miniscule, this simple switch could save a considerable amount of money in the long run, and help you develop smarter budgeting habits. 

“It’s more about the mindset than it is about the actual items,” Settje said. “If you get into the habit of looking for the best value, that will transfer much more than laundry detergent [or whatever you are purchasing].” 

brown wooden table near menu board
If you are looking for areas to save a few bucks, then it might be time to start confronting your Dunkin or Starbucks addiction. No worries, you don’t have to permanently give up the taste of your favorite coffee brew, instead look for options such as Dunk K- cups, which are a cheaper alternative to receiving that same Dunkin Coffee, minus the lines but at a cheaper cost. Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

That being said, there are times when the more expensive, but more convenient, option becomes necessary, when utilizing the drive-thru at Dunkin’ for example. As a coffee lover myself, I was shocked to learn that a medium coffee at Dunkin’ costs $1.89 while brewing a K-cup at home costs $0.60 per cup, and the Dunkin’ coffee grounds in a traditional pot only costs $0.20 per cup. Switching from a daily Dunkin’ run to a home-brewed pot could save almost $12 on a weekly basis. 

“There are times if you want to choose convenience over price,” Settje said. “That happens. I want you to be aware of it. This presentation isn’t meant to tell you that you should or you shouldn’t be spending in a certain way. It’s important to be aware of how you are spending so you can make informed decisions.” 

“It’s important to be aware of how you are spending so you can make informed decisions.” 

Beth Settje, Associate Director of College to Career Transitions and Alumni Engagement at the Center for Career Development

Settje also made attendees aware of campus resources available to students to gain a better handle on their budgets and spending. 

“If you are needing to do your taxes for yourself for the first time,” Settje said. “There is an excellent resource at UConn called ‘Vita’ and you can have free help working on your taxes. They do it with you. It’s with faculty and staff who are certified to do taxes as well as students who are going to be accountants.” 

For all current juniors, the senior year experience course, UNIV 4800, is offered in the fall and the following spring and focuses on transitioning into life after UConn, covering topics such as financial literacy and career readiness. 

While managing your money can be a scary undertaking, Settje reminded students to take things one step at a time and make things easier by breaking down topics and making them visual. 

“I definitely recommend having some sort of spreadsheet to keep track of your spending,” Settje said. “You’ll find it useful, and even if you don’t want to go to that level, just start documenting your spending for a month and see where your money is going. A lot of times when people do this, they are surprised on what they chose to spend their money on.” 

Leave a Reply