The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Balancing finances and fun 101

It’s impossible for anyone these days to ignore the astronomical costs of attending college: the average prices for both private and public universities are through the roof.

And with the economy struggling and lenders backing out of government loans, it is becoming harder and harder to fill the gap that federal aid leaves behind.

But college debt should not be something students need to fret about. After all, there are exams, paper deadlines, and worrying about what to eat for dinner to deal with right now.

The key to having a successful collegiate financial career is to learn how to manage your finances now so that after you graduate and your deferment wears off, you’ll be able to balance all of the bills in the real world and pay off your debt.

Going to school in a metropolitan area is going to be expensive, but going to school in New York City is in a league of its own. Let’s face it: it’s not exactly the cheapest place in the country.

With a sales tax of 8.9 percent, everything here is more expensive, right down to the milk. While Fifth Avenue is loaded with designer stores, and countless concerts, plays and eateries are right down the street, a financial plan is critical.

Whether you are headed off to school for the first time this fall, or if you’re going back to finish things up, there are a few wise financial tips you can follow to ensure that you save money and spend wisely in school:

Get A Job: Even if it is just over a holiday break, get a job and ask for as many hours as you think you can handle.
Look in your local library, bookstore, coffee shop, or restaurant for open positions. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and score a paid internship.

If you’re thinking about working while in school, make sure that you ease yourself into your hours.
Grades are the reason you are there, so be careful not to take on too much until you have a good idea about what your course load will look like.

Set up direct deposit with your financial institution to help keep your paycheck immediate and secure.

If you are eligible for work study from Financial Aid, then getting a job on campus may be a convenient way to earn money without a big commute.

Save: Your parents told you. Your grandparents told you. And you have probably even said it to yourself.

Many credit unions offer an automatic withdrawal feature where you can have a certain amount of money transferred from your checking to your savings account.

If this happens on payday, you’ll never see the money as ‘spending’ money, and therefore you will never miss it.
Set a goal for the savings for things like a new car, a summer vacation or repaying debt after school.

By getting into a habit of saving when young, it will become a life long habit that will be extremely beneficial in the long run. Saving will be second nature after a while.

Invest: It is never too early to begin saving for your retirement. While you may not be thinking so far in advance, it is important to consider your future.

Do you really want to be working during your golden years? If not, you may want to consider opening some kind of retirement account and contributing even a small portion.

$10 a month will still add up over time, and you’ll be building interest and dividends so your money can grow. This money can also be used for down payments and crisis.

Budget: Whether you have a job, worked all summer to save, or your parents are sending you money, set a limit for yourself to a certain amount per week.

If you live on campus with a meal plan, allow only $50 to cover extra food and entertainment.

Off-campus housing, on the other hand, shows a larger budget because you would need to buy groceries.
It is perfectly reasonable for one person to only need $100 per month for food.

Make sure that the money allotted is enough to cover credit card payments, and other necessity bills such as cell phone, car insurance and utilities.

Using these pieces of information to strategize your savings and spendings will help your wallet and bank account in the long run.

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