College Connect: Students should confront their money through budgeting

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Chelsey Shirley

For many, college is four years of great adventure, growth and learning. It can also be a time when parents begin to wean their children off of their ‘payroll’ to allow their now young adults the time to practice what is known as ‘adulting.’

Ryan Brock, 20, a junior psychology and criminal justice double major at the University of Georgia, began practicing budgeting techniques in August 2015. Brock began budgeting to attempt to manage how and when he spends his money on various things, including rent, utilities, school and other various bills.

Brock said budgeting “prioritizes my life. It lets me see what I want and where I want to be. It keeps me from spending carelessly.”

On the flip side, the thought of budgeting money is intimidating for many college students, especially when more times than not, students are living on low funds that may not adequately allow them to practice how to budget.

Kenneth White, an assistant professor in financial planning at the University of Georgia, said college students should think about how they think about budgeting. Often the term has a negative perception because students view it as restricting what they aren’t going to be able to do with their money.

According to White, academic research has found most people often identify budgeting as their major organizational goal.

White suggested the first step people should take in their budgeting is to know where they are and to be fully cognizant of what they own versus what they owe by creating a personal balance sheet. After that, White said they should track carefully how much money is coming in and exactly how much is going out each month.

In introductory financial planning courses, White’s students track all of their spending over a three-month period. This project allows students to see exactly where they are spending their money.

“You’ll probably be surprised at how much you spend on things like coffee,” White said. “If you don’t know what you have going out, you don’t know where to eliminate waste that could be smartly saved.”

For Brock, budgeting simply allows him to plan for his future.

“I plan so that when I leave college, get married or go to grad school, I won’t have to worry about money,” Brock said.

Both White and Brock use spreadsheets, like Microsoft Excel, to track their monthly spending, but White said there are many applications available to aid in the budgeting process. Ultimately, people should use what they are most comfortable with, White said.

Chelsey Shirley is a student at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia

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