If you’re like most students, it doesn’t take long before the shine on the fall semester starts to wear off. A few days is all it takes before your initial excitement is replaced by the pressure of school as readings and assignments begin to pile up. In between all the papers and mid-terms, you shouldn’t forget about your finances. Though they may not make it onto your official transcript, your finances are an important element factoring into your graduation. How well you manage your money now can determine how well you adapt to life off campus.
Though your eventual graduation may seem far-off from the trenches of another fall semester, the big day will arrive faster than you expect. You can alleviate some of the pressure of your bank account by making financial literacy one of your priorities this semester.
Literacy is your ability to read and write proficiently in any given language — and the reason why you can take on a course like Classical and Biblical Literature as an elective. In terms of your finances, literacy is your ability to understand how financial products and services work. It’s is a broad term that describes an understanding of basic numeracy and common financial terms, like a budget or compounding interest.
The world of personal finances is a large one, and it can be a challenge to circumnavigate it on your own. A great place to start is your very own finances with a budget. This financial tool can help develop your financial literacy because it forces you to think about your money carefully.
For most students in the middle of their degrees, the goal is simply to break even. But the lessons you learn now can help you adjust your goals as your life changes, so this tool can eventually help you pay off student loan debts, buy your first home, and create a sizeable nest egg.
Part of the reason why a budget is so important is that it helps you anticipate upcoming expenses in your future. It makes a vague idea of your schedule more concrete, so you’re less likely to be surprised by bills and other costs.
Its predictive powers are only functioning when you use accurate figures in your budget. In other words, your first budget shouldn’t rely on vague or estimated costs when you have the exact fees on official college documents.
Though the cost of tuition and incidental fees will vary from program to program, IU has a cost estimator that helps you determine what kind of expenses you can expect in each term. For example, an in-state Business Undergraduate can expect to spend $5,964.48, while their out-of-state counterpart can expect a bill of $18,351.81.
Though tuition will be your biggest expense — and therefore your biggest concern — it shouldn’t be the only one in your budget. An accurate budget should include course-related and optional services fees, housing costs, and other things like groceries and entertainment. Admittedly, accounting for these kinds of expenses can be boring, but any documents or receipts from past years can help you list them easier. You can also use a resource like Top University’s estimated cost list to make sure you’re on the right track.
Taking on a new challenge in the middle of a semester can be intimidating, but there are resources that can help take some of the pressure off your shoulders. IU Bloomington is one of just 11 colleges and universities to launch a nationally recognized financial literacy program. It was developed to give students the tools they need to make better decisions about spending and borrowing. In four years, this program has managed to help students across seven IU campuses borrow $98.7 million less in loans.
You should also consider outside help when brushing up on your financial literacy. Just like your works cited page, your resources for budgeting information should be long and well-developed. Don’t take just one source as the ultimate answer to your question. Search around online to make sure what you’ve read in one place is corroborated by other credible sources. An online lender like GoDay offers a different financial perspective to help strengthen your budget. It offers a Finance 101 portal filled with factual info on budgeting, savings calculators, free webinars, and credit counselling.
These lenders also offer savings tips that help you target variable costs. Since they facilitate the fastest payday loans Canada has to offer, they’ve catered their tips for people living on very limited budgets — something that fits people who use payday loans and students equally well.
When savings, student loans, and the bank of mom and dad aren’t enough, you may need to tack on a part-time job to your responsibilities this semester. Adding an income stream can help balance your budget more effectively than limiting your expenses.
As many as 80 percent of students hold a part-time job working 19 hours a week during the school year. It might be time you join the majority in earning while you’re learning. You should also think about supplementing your income with scholarships, bursaries, and grants. Millions in scholarship money go unclaimed each year because students simply don’t apply. This could be an easy way to boost your income. Increasing your income now can have a long-term effect on your finances, but it’s only one facet of true financial literacy. It, along with a budget, are just stepping stones to reducing your reliance on loans and understanding your finances.
You wouldn’t enter an exam without having studied, so why would you attempt to manage your money without learning your finances? It’s time you add financial literacy to your course load this semester. When you can balance your books on campus, you’ll be in a better financial position when you’re ready to leave it.