Between rent payments, books, and too many 3 a.m. Taco Bell runs, nothing makes your bank account drop quite like college does.
“I’ve always been very money conscious, not wanting to spend a lot, and I think I got that from my parents,” English Education sophomore Shaelyn Domansky said. “But coming to school has definitely made me even more stressed when it comes to money, especially now at the beginning of the semester when you have to buy all your books and stuff.”
Like we all do, Domansky wishes she had started saving earlier than she did.
“I wish I wouldn’t have spent my money on stupid stuff growing up because I definitely could have used it for more useful things now,” she said. “That’s something I’m definitely going to tell my future kids for sure.”
Luckily, some parents don’t want to see their kids stress and offer support, as is the case for Pre-Pharmacy junior Lauren Kelly.
“I was actually more frugal in high school than in college,” said Kelly. “When my parents would offer to buy me something I would say no, and buy it myself. I just felt guilty spending their hard earned money.”
Since coming to college, though, Kelly realized that there’s nothing wrong with accepting a little help.
“Now when they offer to pay my rent or for my books, I let them do it,” said Kelly. “It makes them happy to know that I don’t have to worry about money. They want me to worry about my studies so that I can have a good job and be able to financially support my own family someday.”
Hospitality junior Leland Arkwright is just the opposite: he wants to pay for school on his own, without his parents’ assistance.
“I just figured it was my decision to come here, not theirs,” said Arkwright. “I didn’t want to put a big burden on them to feel obligated to help me, so I just decided I would do it myself. I feel like it helps me for the future, like with budgeting.”
To keep his finances in check, Arkwright sticks to a budget most of the time, but even the most financially savvy students occasionally get sucked into the temptations of quick and delicious food.
“Last semester my friends and I did this thing called Fast Food Friday,” Arkwright said. “So every Friday we’d go and get Taco Bell and that added up. And I also would stop in the middle of the week a few times so I guess fast food is a pretty big waste of money.”
For students who want to improve their money management skills, Accounting Professor Teresa Cook said that becoming aware of spending habits is the most important thing. The first step, she said, is something we can all relate to: stop being afraid to look at your bank statement.
“It’s kind of like students think, ‘Well if I don’t look at it, then it’s not as scary,’” Cook said. “But I think it’s more scary to not know what’s going on.”
Something even more frightening than seeing the hit your checking account has taken after a night out: writing it all down. However, Cook said documenting spending habits is another necessary step in budgeting.
“Until you actually write it down and look at it, it doesn’t really hit home,” Cook said. “Then start looking at, ‘okay, what things would I like to do? Can I afford that?’ It’s a hard question, it really is: ‘Can I afford that? Do I need it versus do I want it?’ You just have to cut back to bare bones sometimes. You’ve got to take a look at what you’ve already been doing before you can fix it.”