“Dear Josephine Miner,
I have blown through my first semester budget and there is still 5 weeks left of school. How do I better prepare myself for the next spring semester?
It can be very easy for many students to blow through money and spend outside of their means. The best method to manage money is to create a budget at the beginning of each semester. Make sure to budget the necessitates first, then budget for fun. For example, make sure housing, food, gas, school, and necessary school supplies are covered, then budget for fun activities, clothes, movies, etc. Determine how much you can spend a semester, then break it down into how much a month and maybe even weekly or bi-weekly. When first writing a budget, it is hard to really understand how much one spends on certain things. If it isn’t clear how much should be budgeted, it is better to over budget than under budget for the necessities. Not only does a budget need to get created, but it should be checked regularly, weekly or biweekly, to ensure that it is working and gives an opportunity to make changes to the budget.
Some tips to help save money on the necessities is to not buy new textbooks, if possible, but to borrow, rent, or buy used. Ask upper-classmen friends to rent from them; they are more willing to drastically discount the renting or reselling fee. Also, try looking for the book online or splitting the cost of the book with a group of classmates. Another tip is to avoid distance courses. Distance courses cost three times as much as a normal class. Also, if possible try to take notes on google doc or Microsoft word instead of spending money on writing utensils, papers, and other potentially unnecessary school supplies.
Another area that student’s heavily spend money on is living and food expenses. When looking for housing on-campus, compare prices that fit within a personal budget from the following website: https://reslife.mst.edu/livingoptions/residencehallrates/. If not living on-campus, consider living a little farther from campus to find cheaper apartments or houses. If money is very tight, ask for a roommate in an apartment or a house. Getting an education is more important than a room alone, and in the long run it will only be for four to five years. If living off-campus, don’t grocery shop hungry or else over shopping is bound to happen with hungry eyes. When shopping, buy off brand when possible and in bulk. It tends to be cheaper. Also, try to cook meals with others. It is cheaper than cooking for one. Also, limit going out to eat; eating out is more expensive than eating in. If eating out, take advantage or restaurant specials and try to go to restaurants that have student discounts.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the student facilities on campus. There is no need to spend money on a gym membership when MS&T has a full gym available to students already included in student tuition. Plus, the gym was just renovated and is much more accommodating to all types of workouts. Another facility to utilize is student health. If students find themselves under the weather or need more generic medicine, utilize student health because MS&T student tuition pays for it. However, in cases of serious injury or illness, please go to the hospital. In cases like minor injuries or illness, the student health center is well equipped to handle these situations.
Lastly, schedule an appointment with the MS&T financial advisors for expert advice on finances and visit the Miner Money Management webpage located at https://sfa.mst.edu/ for some more tips. Readers in need of advice please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, Josephine Miner