Money management new role for students

essica Dreschel

Students who want to practice better money management can begin by watching what they spend.

Kim Ayers of National City Bank in Kent said students run into budget problems when they fail to keep track of their finances.

“Most students rely too much on ATM statements to find out how much money they have in their account,” Ayers said. “Instead, students should be saving their receipts and balancing their own checkbooks.”

Students should hold on to receipts for everything they buy, she said, and keeping bank deposit slips and duplicates of any checks written is a good idea. At the end of the month, add up how much money has been spent and compare it against how much has been earned.

Ayers said even though it is simple advice, most students don’t track and manage expenses.

“You’d be surprised how many people have never learned how to balance their money,” she said.

Another way to get a grip on spending is to write everything down. Keeping a list of every penny spent in a month will give students a clear record of where money goes, associate professor of economics Kathryn Wilson said.

Students may not be aware of money they could be wasting on things they don’t need, she said.

Wilson also said it is important to know how much money per month will have to go to things like cell phone bills, rent and food. If students know their financial obligations each month, they can figure out how much money will be left over for fun stuff, she said.

There needs to be room in every student’s budget for entertainment, said Todd Romer, executive director of Young Money magazine.

“You need to reward yourself for sticking to your budget,” Romer said. “Whether it’s buying new clothes, buying a CD or going out with friends, it’s important to get that in there.”

However, Romer warns students not to go overboard. Overspending can get students what they want in the short term, but in the long run, a balanced budget is better than a new outfit, Romer said.

And paying in cash also helps to manage spending.

“It hurts a little more to see cash leaving your hand than to swipe a credit card,” he said.

Credit cards also can end up draining funds from a student’s budget. Students should look for cards that have a low annual interest rate and should try to pay the card balance in full every month, Wilson said.

If students pay only the minimum amount required every time the credit card bill shows up, they will be paying off the purchase and interest on their cards for a very long time, Wilson said.

Impulse buying also is bad news for checking accounts.

“A couple cups of $2.50 Starbucks coffee or $8 a week on Chipotle burritos sounds good, but can start to add up for students,” Romer said.

Contact business reporter Jessica Dreschel at [email protected].