The business of graduation

By Patricia Patnode

The financial situation of every college student is different. Some of us have thousands of dollars in federal student loans, some have private student loans, and some have education costs covered by a parent or scholarship. Regardless of your present situation, we can all use this undergraduate time to develop a solid base understanding of personal finance. 

While in college, there are a few basic things that help you to automate savings and build credit. Just to name a few: maintain a checking (debit) account, savings account, and at least one credit card, some of which have special rates for students trying to build credit. 

Take advantage of all of the free resources offered while you are a student. If you have a bank account, even if the account only has a $25.00 balance, you are generally entitled to certain services offered by the bank. These free counseling services can help you identify specific savings goals and how loan rates work for when you eventually want to purchase a car or property.

There are many courses offered at Loras that teach you how to manage and think about money. Taking financial or managerial accounting courses proves extremely helpful for understanding how a business operates and make you a more well-informed employee. Both classes are offered every year at Loras. Another regularly offered course explores personal finance. This class starts by introducing you to the world of personal finance and accountability and then incorporates private reflection and goals into the class. Taking personal finance is hugely helpful because you receive credits towards graduation for learning about things that you would otherwise have to take time to learn about once entering the workforce.

If your class schedule doesn’t fit with any of these classes it is very possible to independently gain the same knowledge while in college by using simple apps and setting goals. Mint is an app, produced by the same company that made TurboTax. It monitors spending and savings automatically. By just being conscious of how much you spend will make you feel more “in control” of your life and money.

As a college student with no sorted job after graduation, setting goals has been a little tricky for me. Graduation is in a few months, so I’ve been making lists of the different budgeting items I need to consider. 

For example, if I take a job in my hometown and live there, I could live with my parents for free or move in with friends for about $400 a month in rent. If I move to a larger city my income and rent costs would be much different and I would have to spend money to physically move all of my belongings across the country. Instead of letting the cost of these different options freak me out like they did before, I’ve been marking them down in excel spreadsheets so all relevant information is right in front of me.

Even though all of these options are hypothetical right now, understanding the cost of different locations has helped relieve my graduation anxiety. Maybe it can do the same for you.

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Patricia is a staff writer for The Lorian.

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