Although I know I’m not the first one to say it, “Welcome to K-State”! What a year it has been and what a semester it is shaping up to be. While it does not look or feel exactly like it did when we came to classes in August 2019, I for one am very happy to be back and seeing people walking on campus. I think that every time I come back for classes in Manhattan I get really excited to get a jump start on the semester, see friends I haven’t seen all summer and really decide how hard my classes will be resulting in several important things getting put on the back burner. One of these being my budget and savings. While I normally get back on track I often realize some mistakes that I make while moving back in, buying books/supplies and getting reacquainted with the day-to-day of a college student. The following are some random tips to keep your budget in tact while transitioning back to college life.
- Rent don’t buy
Books end up being something that always shocks me. The price that we pay for “require materials” can get pretty astronomical. I would recommend always renting books as opposed to buying. Also knowing people further along in your program or major can be beneficial as sometimes hand-me-down books work just as well as the brand new rental copy of the most recent addition. Renting from companies like Amazon or Chegg is very easy and normally a cost effective way to get the books you need. Before you go crazy buying every book that the syllabus lists, go to class and ask what the books will be used for. If you will need them on a weekly basis it is easier, in my opinion, to get your own copy. If they are needed less than that, go in with a friend or a class mate and rent one together to cut the cost down. You can then just meet together to study and use the book then.
- Furniture shopping is easy
Moving into a new apartment with friends can be a very exciting thing but going together on furniture can be more difficult than it seems. Talk up front about the plans for group purchases as you move out to avoid uncomfortable conversations. Be sure to ask people that are graduating or even family members if they have something laying around that you could buy from them. Often times it is smart to find a used couch or chair since college housing tends to be a little messy. Facebook Market place or Craigslist can also be options to find cheaper furnishings for your house. You can also drive around college neighborhoods on move-out weekends and score some pretty nice couches, desks, chairs even televisions sitting on the street for anyone to pick up.
- Don’t let utilities get out of control
One of the biggest surprises and easiest arguments to get into with roommates is around utility bills. It is important to make a plan for how utilities will be paid, who will be in charge of what bill and how the bills will be split. There are several ways to evenly split bill payments. I have heard roommate groups assigning one person to do all of the bill payment and the bills are split evenly. Personally, my roommates and I each took one utility to take care of and Venmo request each other for an even split. Be sure to pay the utilities in a timely manner, not only to the company, but to each other. This will avoid frustration going forward. It is also important to keep the bills as low as possible. Turn off your lights when not using a room, take reasonable showers, and keep the temperature at a reasonable level. While it can be a really difficult conversation to have with your roommates, make a plan ahead of time and stick to it. Communication, and even a written document with all of your signatures, can help avoid frustration and keep everyone honest when it comes to dividing living expenses.
Although these tips could seem sporadic, they are important things to consider to keep your expenses down in places that you can control. Don’t let expenditures that you can control break your budget. Remember, no month is a normal month for your budget. If at all possible leave yourself some wiggle room for emergencies and don’t get frustrated if one month gets out of control. A budget is a living document that should change from month to month until you are consistently meeting your goals/expectations.
Remember Powercat Financial is available for online or phone financial counseling sessions if you’d like help with setting up a budget or managing your finances. Appointments may be requested via our website link at www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial.
Peer Financial Counselor II