Opinion: Budgeting as a student is essential for financial literacy

By Farah Bassyouni Oct 14, 2022

The dreaded weekend: when your bank account can go from $300 to being overdrawn in a matter of hours. Whether you spend all your money downtown at the bars or out shopping with your friends, there always seem to be more expenses than you thought. That’s not to mention going out to eat when you’re sick of IWU dining.

Being at school is hard financially in more ways than one. When you Google how to budget as a student a list of the top seven tips comes up: determine a timespan for your budget, choose a tool to help you manage your budget, review your monthly income, identify and categorize your expenses, save for emergencies, balance your budget and lastly maintain and update your budget. 

Initially looking at this list it all seems reasonable, yet I don’t know a single person that manages their money this way. I have friends that strictly use cash and set aside a certain amount for each month and they only allow themselves to use that money. 

Some of my friends use their parents’ credit cards and send a text asking about a purchase if it is out of the ordinary or more than what they normally would spend. I also have some friends that pinch their pennies and only spend money when they deem it necessary.

The issue with all of these methods for budgeting is they rely on what you value and what you want to spend your money on, but don’t put hard limits on spending in general.

You can plan on not spending any money during the week and only give yourself $20 for the weekend, but it is really easy to spend that much for just one meal. In order to actually create a budget, you need to seriously consider how much money you are willing to spend during a month based on your income. 

There’s a give and a take in budgeting. You have to prioritize what you want to spend your money on. Budgeting as a student can be very difficult depending on your financial situation, but you have to do what is best for you.

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