6 Simple Steps to Improving Your Bottom Line

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Spending money is often a problem students have, but saving money can be an easy thing if students follow simple steps and budget the money they already have.

Kay Stice, an accounting professor at BYU, said students have a difficult time saving money because they aren’t looking ahead with lifelong financial habits.

“Most students cannot save the future down payment on a house while they are going to school,” Stice said in an email. “However, all students can develop prudent spending and saving practices now that will make it much easier for them to save that down payment once they leave school and get a job.”

Stice said another reason students may have a difficult time saving money is they need to learn they can’t buy everything they want.

“Some of us make all of our purchases with credit and debit cards,” Stice said, “and never really make the connection that buying one desirable thing means I now don’t have the money to buy another desirable thing.”

To make purchases, students may feel that finding a job is necessary, but Stice said he thinks it might not be the easiest option.

“It is important to remember that in a student’s busy life it is much easier to find time to spend less money than it is to find time to get a job to make more money,” Stice said.

Research done by Public Agenda found students were dropping out of school because of financial responsibilities.

“Most young adults who started college but didn’t finish left because they needed to work more to make ends meet,” the news release said. “Managing work, school and family was their biggest challenge.”

For some students, working while going to school is a necessity. According to Kiplinger.com and thestreet.com, the best part-time jobs for college students are restaurant server, tutor, retail sales or cashier, virtual jobs, campus positions, caregiver, paid intern and low-level jobs in a future profession.

To save money without getting a job, Stice suggested six simple steps to increasing your bottom line. The first is to cook meals at home.

“Don’t eat out so much,” Stice said. “Eating at home has many benefits. First, it is usually more healthy. Second, it costs a lot less. A meal that costs you $2 at home costs you $8 if you eat out. If you pack your own lunch and bring it to campus, you can eat for much less (and more healthy). A person who eats out an average of once a day can easily save $150 to $200 per month by resolving to eat at home.”

Other suggestions Stice gave were: cut spending on new clothes to a minimum, re-examine cell phone plans, reconsider what is being spent on Internet or cable, decide if having a car is necessary and find a less expensive place to live.

Stice said budgeting may sound complex and scary, but it can be effective in helping save money.

“Simply stated, budgeting is merely planning your spending and then periodically measuring how much you have spent,” Stice said. “I guarantee that the simple acts of making a plan and measuring your spending will cause you to spend less and be more wise about how you spend your money.”

At About.com under Financial Planning, there is a budget worksheet especially designed for college students.  It has incomes and expenses split into subcategories such as income from parents, income from scholarships, utilities expenses and grocery expenses.  The worksheet breaks down the budget by month, semester and school year.

Kiefer Hickman, a sophomore from Redwood City, Calif., studying economics, said he tries to save money by purchasing cheap foods.

“When I go to the grocery store, I buy really cheap foods, like eggs,” Hickman said. “Also, anything from Costco is great.  It’s reasonably priced and gives you a ton of food.”

Hickman said if he kept better track of his money, then he would be less likely to make unnecessary purchases.

“If I budgeted my money better I wouldn’t make impulse purchases,” Hickman said. “Everything I am wearing right now was an impulse purchase.”

Stice said decisions like Hickman’s are an unwise financial decision.

“You should start your clothes budget at $0 per month and only increase it if you have extra cash,” Stice said. “Buying clothes on the spur of the moment is a disastrous financial move. For those of us on a disciplined budget, clothes purchases should only be made after careful consideration and planning.”

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