Transit station could mean more local development
By LeiLani Hector - Staff Reporter
Learning how to create a budget can help people save money - for trips, paying off student loans, and having a little extra money in cases of emergency.
Benefits Hub AmeriCorps members Amber Conley and Courtney Edwards talked about financial issues in last week`s Honors Seminar.
The United Way Benefits Hub is a resource that helps people learn more about their finances and they help people connect with emergency assistance and income support.
"The first thing that you need to do is set a goal. Do you want to travel? Pay off debts? You need to figure out what your life goals are," Conley said.
"Goals are absolutely essential because they are what helps motivate you to stay on track to achieve them," Conley said. "It is so easy to deter yourself if you are just floundering about.
"To create a savings plan, you need to figure out what your primary source of income. It can be government benefits, a job, or even self-employment," Conley said.
It is also important to track what expenses you have or may soon have, she said.
"Expenses are whatever you spend your money on. Housing, education, groceries, and transportation are just some of the few that college students have to pay for," Conley said.
Some expenses stay the same, Edwards said.
"Fixed expenses are the same every time. They cannot be changed easily," Edwards said.
"Examples of fixed expenses could be your rent, property tax, and utilities," Edwards said.
After figuring out your income and expenses, subtract them to figure out your total amount left over, Conley said.
"The formula is simple, it's income minus expenses. The goal is to either have zero, or a positive number," Conley said.
"With zero, you pay exactly how much you have, you are breaking even. If you land in the positives, that means that you have some money left over to put in your savings," she said.
Students can also create a list on what their strengths and wishes are, Edwards said.
"Strengths are basically a list on what you are doing well in budgeting your money. It could mean that you are able to break even or you may have some money left over," she said.
"Wishes are what you wish you could do better on. It is what you think that you can improve on," Edwards said.
The goal of budgeting is to either reduce expenses or increase income - it might even be both, Conley said.
"Reduce spending money on non-essential things. Cancel the membership to the gm you never go to or the subscription of the magazine you never read," Conley said.
"See what kinds of programs
are out there to help benefit you - food banks, public benefits, local and campus resources," she said.
"Highline, since Fall Quarter, has had a food bank for students to come visit to get some fresh food. The bank offers sandwiches, drinks, and fresh fruit to help students get through their day or even week," Conley said.
There are also many companies that offer discounts, Edwards said.
"There are discounts that are specifically targeted towards students," Edwards said.
"Fitness 19 offers around $10 a month for students as a fee; Chick-Fil-a gives out free drinks; Amazon lets students get free two-day shipping for six months," she said.
There are also different methods that can help you plan your budget, Conley said.
"We offer one-on-one coaching sessions in Building 1 for anyone to come by and ask questions and learn more," Conley said.
"Many people also like to use Excel to track their income and expenses for a month. They also use the envelope method, where people withdraw money that they calculated that they will spend in a month`s duration," Conley said.
However, even with all of this planning, students can still exceed their budgets, Conley said.
"There are times when you might have miscalculated how much you are going to spend, or you went over your budget to get something special. That's when you need to weigh the consequences," Conley said.
"You need to figure out what is more important - the cable or the food bill. You only have enough money to pay for one, so you need to choose wisely and weigh the consequences," Con- ley said.
That's why students can come visit the Benefits Hub for financial advice, Edwards said.
"We offer advice on the FAF- SA, taxes, budget planning, and so much more," she said.
The Benefits Hub is open Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to noon for drop-in hours.
To book an appointment, visit uwkc.org/BenefitsHub