Budgeting doesn’t make cents to students

Courtesy Photo

By Jessika Fulton, Staff Reporter

The “broke college student” stereotype is hard to get away from, unless students know how to properly budget their spending and savings.

Debra Avara, an Amarillo College social sciences professor and author of a book series about budgeting called “Just the Basics Please!,” said budgeting is not only important, it is mandatory.

“Many people find budgets too controlling – but it’s you controlling your money not your money controlling you. You need to know where your money is going, and with a budget, this is how you make sure your money is going where it needs to go, including emergency and regular savings and retirement,” Avara said.

Avara said the reason why college students have the “broke college student” stigma, is because they all actually are broke and struggle with living expenses.

“So many of our students are on financial aid and work part-time or even full-time jobs trying to make it. It’s expensive to be living on your own. I always tell my students, if they can stay living at home while they are in school, do it,” she said.

Avara said on top of college expenses, transportation and rent, students tend to spend too much money on food. Whether it be eating out or going to the store, some struggle and tend to spend too much. 

“Meal plan. This is one of the easiest to do. Make your menu for the week and meal prep on Sundays. Now you don’t have to run randomly to the grocery store, or now short on time so you hit fast food because you don’t have anything for dinner. You buy what you need in the grocery store, and a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday and you’re all set for the week. Just reheat and done. This also eliminates unnecessary purchases at the grocery store,” Avara said. 

Taylor Bingham, the AC career and employment services coordinator, said the best advice for students is to evaluate where their money is going by creating a budget.

“If you have not made a budget yet, I would advise you to make a budget. Do you know where your money is going? If you do not, it will most surely not stay in your pocket or bank account. Budgeting and knowing where your money is going are the first steps to stretch your budget,” Bingham said.

Bingham said the Career and Employment Services Center is currently in the process of creating a program to help students.

“As of now, we are working with Student Life and the Advocacy and Resource Center in order to provide financial literacy information for our students. It is still in the works, but we hope to have a self-service webpage that students can go to for assistance with their money management needs,” Bingham said.

Some students say they struggle with money due to the fact that they are limited on time and can’t make enough money to save.

“The problem students run into when it comes to money is that we have to keep up with school, work and sometimes school takes up more time than we have in a day. We just go with what we got and hope for the best,” Christopher Aday, a mechanics major, said. 

Other students say they believe if budgeting was taught in high school education or by parents, then students would understand how to save money easier.

“A lot of this is usually generational. So, if parents start teaching this, then their children will be better off when they grow up. But if parents don’t do it, then children are not better off because they don’t know better. But in the education system, it should be pushed for students to learn,” Abigail Schleis, a psychology major, said.

Brady Cunningham, a cybersecurity networking major, said he had to make changes when he started college.

“Before I started at AC, I was working 40-50 hours a week and now I work 25 because of my classes. The biggest thing I have had to change was my eating habits. I used to go out to eat every day at least once a day but now I have to choose between eating out and having enough money for gas. So, I now eat at home and make my own meals, which has saved me so much money,” he said.

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