Let Me Offer You Some Free Advice: Spend Less, Study More

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Let Me Offer You Some Free Advice: Spend Less, Study More

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While the U has relatively low tuition costs, college is expensive. Most people have heard stories about that friend of a friend who donates plasma to pay the bills, but going that far is probably unnecessary.

The Personal Money Management Center, located in the A. Ray Olpin Union Building, is dedicated to helping students with financial issues including budgeting, planning for tuition, credit scores, creating payment plans for student loans and even evaluating job offers. Their services are free to students, faculty and staff, and completely confidential.

According to Jazmine Beckstrand, a peer mentor with the center, they give six “fundamental” tips to students, in addition to more personalized advice.

First, students should take control of their own lives and money by creating financial goals.

Second, students should organize records like bank deposits or withdrawals from savings and checking accounts, and tax information. Organization will allow for better preparation for things like filing taxes or creating a budget.

Third, students should understand and apply for financial aid every year. Applying for financial aid does more than just score scholarships. The same application applies for scholarships from the U, grants from the government and student loans. Students can then choose whatever combination works best for them. This process can be confusing, but the Financial Aid Office is available to answer any questions in person, over the phone or even through email.

Fourth, students should treat school as their job. School should be treated as the first priority for students, because “[success] in school will enable [students] to apply and earn more scholarships.”

Fifth, students should build credit. Because this is highly individualized and can be done in many ways Beckstrand recommends that students meet with a counselor at the Personal Money Management Center for help in this area.

Lastly, students should develop the habit of saving. The center encourages “students to put ten percent of their earnings into a savings account to prepare for unexpected expenses… or finance larger expenses.”

For quicker tips, Thomas Bailey, a graduate student in the Masters of Finance program, said “Never buy new [text]books” — he saves about $300 a semester — and purchase an E parking pass rather than a U pass — “you pay yourself the [considerable] difference to walk a block further a day.” Bailey goes so far as to advise students to park somewhere else and take advantage of the free UTA services available to make it the rest of the way to campus because “nothing beats free.” Besides those taking these steps, he recommends saving money in small ways like packing lunches and not making unnecessary, large purchases like buying a new cellphone before the old one breaks. “Every penny counts,” said Bailey.

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@EliseAbril