Making less last

Kelly Petryszyn

Photo Illustration by Marty Bach/Chicago Tribune. (c)2008, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Credit: DKS Editors

DKS: How can students watch starting-up expenses at the beginning of the semester?

Jane Beckett-Camarata,

assistant professor of political science:

&bull “Focus on necessities. What do I absolutely need? If you get a handle on expenditures, look at what’s necessary and what isn’t.”

&bull “Think through where you are able to get some of those things. (You) might be able to borrow things on the list. You may not have to buy everything. Could you go in with other students on the purchase of printer paper? (If you) need a lot, buy it in bulk. Students may be able to trade up. Maybe sell a computer and get another one. Talk to other students. (They) may have other things they don’t want.”

DKS: How can students watch their spending, in general, in a bad economy?

Ron Stolle, assistant professor of finance:

Step 1 “Create a budget, listing all expenditures by day, week or month and then examining whether all those expenditures are truly necessary – eliminating those that aren’t. The budget should include any income and a savings set aside to assure funds are available in the event of an unplanned emergency.

Step 2 “Once the budget is complete, then the student needs to track actual income and expenditures and compare those actual incomes to the budget. It will take discipline to live within a budget, but the failure to track what is actually coming in and going out is a sure bet for overspending.

Step 3 “Avoiding brand names in lieu of generic products can significantly cut expenditures, as can the planning of meals and eating in, whenever possible. Being a wise consumer, even for textbooks and cell phone services, can help contribute to a student’s economic well-being.

Step 4 “Students should curtail their use of credit, whenever possible, especially if the student cannot pay the balance when the credit card bill comes in.

Step 5 “Pay all bills on time, and try to pay more than the minimum – this will help assure students do not overspend in the short-term, and longer term will help build the student’s all-important credit score. That score will help determine future access to credit and the cost of that credit.

Step 6 “Finally, students should focus on their learning and grades, because upon graduation the better jobs typically go to the students who can demonstrate their potential, in part by an excellent GPA. While it is important to focus on current needs, students should remain mindful of the longer-term consequences of their actions, and or in actions.”

Q: Kyle Hughes, junior marketing and entrepreneurship major: “How can I as a student get through college without taking out a student loan?”

A: Stolle: “Students need to look at if I’m taking this loan out, what is my earning potential? Look at the career you want to get into online to get a sense of what your career will pay. Do this before you take on debt. If you have a higher earning potential, it is justified to out more loans. Lower earning potential, don’t take on as much debt.”

Q: Sarah-Beth Clawson, senior English major: “How do you balance school, jobs and still have enough money to go socially?”

A: Stolle: “Determine what your priority is. You are in school to get the best job. The best jobs go to students with the best performance. Sometimes social has to take a backseat. First thing students have to do is develop a budget and discipline. If you don’t track it, that’s where problems come in.”

Q: Hughes: “What is the best way to live the way I used to without having as much money?”

A: Beckett-Camarata: “Sometimes the best thing to do is recognize the situation has changed. Ask (a) parent for specific(s) on what does this mean? What is the necessity? If the student is clear on what the values are, then the student will be prepared to forgo certain things.”

A: Mark Evans, director of student financial aid: “Students should complete the 2009/10 FAFSA per instructions using 2008 income.

“If there has been a change in income for 2009, check the financial aid Web site for a special circumstances application beginning April 1, 2009. On this form the financial aid staff will reprocess with the federal processor a new expected family contribution (EFC) based on projected 2009 income.”

Contact student affairs reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].