Mid-semester brings many exciting, yet apprehensive feelings for many students. Maybe you are feeling excited because you’re half way through that challenging Organic Chemistry class. Yes, the end is nearly in sight! But you are wondering how you’re doing so far in the class. After calculating your current grade in the class, you’ve realized your studying habits are paying off well. By giving yourself this mid-semester academic review, you have determined that you will have no problem passing the course by the end of the semester. Congratulations!
On the same note, as staff at the Student Loan Education Office, we believe the same mid-semester review process should be applied to your personal finances. If you did not completely adhere to a monthly budget, it’s time to re-visit your financial budget to see how your actual expenses compare with the amount you had planned to spend each month. It’s okay if the numbers are not aligning, this simply means it’s time to make some changes to your budget or adjust your spending habits. It’s never too late to get back on track.
Monitor Variable Expenses
First and foremost, it’s very important to understand where your money is being spent so you can make necessary cuts or adjustments. Yes, there are certain fixed expenses that you won’t be able to cut. For instance, your car payment, insurance, cell phone bill, utilities, etc. Instead, consider cutting down the variable expenses, like dining out, trendy clothing and entertainment purchases. After all, those are the items that break our budgets the most.
Let’s imagine you have met your allotted entertainment budget for the month. You’ve bought a couple DVD’s, maybe a few video games, and a concert ticket. As part of maintaining your budget and staying on track, you must forgo any other entertainment type expense until next month. This may seem inconvenient and difficult at first, but it will become easier overtime to say no to those discretionary purchases. Ultimately, these potential savings will carry over into next month’s budget and keep you from coming up short every month.
Find Ways to Increase Your Income
If limiting your expenditures each month seems too daunting, or you want to find a way to afford certain purchases, consider finding a part time job. The earned income from a part time job can help buffer both the cost of tuition and daily expenses. There are many part-time employment opportunities available for students, both on campus and off campus. We recommend this option because students who secure part-time jobs gain valuable experience to aid in job placement after graduation. By having a part-time job, students can also help reduce their own loan indebtedness. One of the first places to start looking for job opportunities is the Student Job Board on your Access Plus account.
Review and Forgive
Remember, maintaining a budget is not an art to be mastered overnight. It may take several trials until you feel completely comfortable with tracking your monthly budget. Regular review and maintenance of your budget will keep you on top of your finances and can help you plan for bigger, unexpected expenses months ahead. But yes, even the savviest savers have slip ups. It’s important to forgive yourself for small spending mistakes and get back on track. It may seem like learning a foreign language at first, but sticking to a monthly budget is key to a successful financial future.
Still feeling lost? Stop into our office and see how easy creating a personal financial budget can be!