Does thinking about money make you run the other way? Are you financially overwhelmed? Are you praying for a money free pass for the next 4-5 years? I am here to tell you that there is hope. You have more control over your finances through your behaviors. Whether or not you have debt, you can take control of the money you have (including your dining dollars and flex) so that you can set yourself up for a better future and gain some confidence for the real world on the way! Here are a few tips to get you started on a smarter future.

DO: Think About Your Values

Sometimes it is hard for students to care about money while they are in college. However, by focusing on today rather than tomorrow, you can cause many future problems. How do you fix this? Think about your values and why you came to school. Adding some perspective to your spending will help you understand why money should matter right now.

DON’T: Buy Coffee Every Day

Fin_coffeeIf I offered you a free coffee every day for the rest of your life or 1.5 million dollars at retirement which one would you choose? I thought so. Shelling out $5 dollars for coffee every day adds up in ways you wouldn’t suspect. I won’t make you totally give up coffee but little bits of saving or spending adds up over time.  Brew at home, drink tea or give it up, and by the time you are old and gray you can drink whatever you want. Deal?

DO: Make A Budget

Don’t stop reading just yet. Budgeting is easier than you think.  It is about telling your money where it is suppose to go before you spend it. Some great budgeting sites are,, the Numbers app and numerous other programs out there or excel sheets! Use different categories and tell your money where to go. Don’t be afraid. It is not about having less but saving for what is worth it, including fun!

Don’t: Depend on a credit/debit card.

You spend 12-18% more money when you have a card to swipe rather than forking over cash. There is a psychological response to paying with cash that is taken away by the simplicity of a card.

Also, when you start using a cash system it is easier to track your money, like the envelope system to budget. The envelop system is an all cash system where you plan your budget on a spread sheet, get all your money in cash and put it in different envelopes for different categories like groceries or clothes. The kicker is, when the money runs out of the envelope you are done with that category for the month. By using the Envelope System, you can tangibly know where your money is going and know when you are out. It may take a couple months to get a feel for it, but don’t lose heart!  I began using the envelope system last semester after taking Brad Barnett’s class. I have saved so much money and feel more confident about my financial situation overall.

Do: Talk to your friends about money

Fin_FriendsAre your friends making you break the bank? Have a casual discussion about money with your buddies and most likely they are struggling with spending just like you. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Look up other free or reduced options available to you! There are $3 movie tickets at Grafton, free wine tastings, parks and hikes to go on and even sharing a communal meal. Don’t make your time together expensive! There are cheap, easy ways to hang out. Plus, having friends as accountability partners for your spending will be an extra help in reaching your goals.

What are your other money questions? Let us know!

If you want to learn more about your finances in a fun and tangible way come out to the “Winning with Money” event on April 1, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Court Square Theatre downtown! Budgeting, debt repayment, credit and retirement will be covered in an engaging Ted-talk style seminar, followed by a reception at Cap Ale.

All of this information came from Brad Barnett, the Senior Associate Director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. He does individual financial planning in the community and teaches a Dollars and Sense class (IS275) on campus about personal finance (which I took and loved).

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