By Amy Rudolph
Do you ever swipe your debit card and worry about how much money you have available? Take the guessing out of personal finance with budgeting.
Here at Washington College, students are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week and can make anywhere from $9.25 an hour to almost $14 an hour. If you make $9.25 and work 10 hours a week, you will get $185 per two week pay period. That’s a lot of money in idle hands, especially when Domino’s has their mix-and-match deal going on. The best way to stretch your paycheck is to make a budget. Even if you don’t write the budget down, having a rough idea of what you need to spend and save can help you not have to call your mom at the end of the week asking for gas money.
If you are a student who pays their own bills such as cell phone, car insurance, or credit card bills, those need to be your first priority. Most credit cards have late fees and being late on payments can count against your credit score, so it is best to pay those first before even thinking about anything else. After credit-baring necessities are taken care of, the next thing to think about is your own personal needs. Do you have a car? Well, cars need gas, so add that to the list of expenses. Do you live off campus and need to cook your own food? Add that to the list too. Are you planning to go into the city for the day this weekend? You’ll need money for that too. See, it all starts to add up.
The best thing to remember when budgeting is that money isn’t about to go out of style; you don’t need to spend all of it. Professor Tsai of the Business Department wants to remind students that when budgeting, “remember to pay yourself first.” Remember to save at least some money month to month. By saving, you can accumulate more money to spend later rather than counting down the days until the next pay day.
Some people advocate for a “rainy day fund” for unforeseen expenses. These expenses pop out of nowhere and can leave people scrounging for cash so instead of putting yourself in a borrowing position, keep a cash reserve in your bank account in case anything can go wrong. The cliché “expect the unexpected” is a general guide for life but is especially important when considering how to budget.
The best ways to keep up to date with your spending is by checking your bank account or, if you don’t have an account, keeping tabs on how much cash you are spending. Many banks have mobile banking apps that make it easy to see your balance before you buy anything. Checking your account will remind you that maybe you don’t need to make that purchase and can save your money instead. Many banking apps also warn you when you are about to overdraw in your account so you don’t end up overspending.
With a few weeks left in the semester and with only a few weeks left to keep making money, now might be a great time to start budgeting. For those of you looking to make extra cash before late night finals cravings and holiday shopping, the College still has some job openings. You can find them at washcoll.studentemployment.ngwebsolutions.com.