The goal of the Money Management Program is to help you manage your personal and educational finances. Whether you have financial aid or pay for school out of pocket, the Money Management program is here it help you make sense of your dollars and cents.
We often think of budgeting as restricting and oftentimes consuming. But budgeting can be made very simple, and the best time to start good budgeting habits is college. By following the few steps below you will be on your way toward building a solid foundation for financial success.
Know your income
Since budgeting is all about making a plan on how to spend your income, you first need to know your monthly income amount. Income can include your paycheck, financial aid, and family contributions.
Understand needs vs. wants
Needs are required expenses like bills for essentials, the items that you “must have” each month (Remember, you should always budget for your needs first and save for your wants after.)
Wants are something you would like to purchase after you have paid for your needs. They are a comfort or luxury item.
Review your spending habits
Go back to previous months and look at what you spent money on. You should ask yourself the following questions:
When students start to track their spending, they often need to cut down on their monthly expenses.
- Do my needs exceed 50% of my income?
- Are my wants too high?
- Am I eating out too often?
- Did I try to find the lowest prices for my purchases?
- Reducing food expenses:
- Shop once a week
- Make a list and only buy what you have listed
- Compare prices
- Shop the store brand items
- Eat out less frequently
- Treat eating out as a luxury
- Use restaurant coupons or student discounts
- Split or share meals with a friend
- Find free or inexpensive entertainment
- Participate in the Rec Center leagues
- Check out local museums and parks
- Seek out discount tickets to events
- Check out on campus clubs and events
Create spending and savings goals
You decide how to spend your income. Try using an income guide to determine your spending goals. The 50x30x20 is common: 50% of income goes towards needs, 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings.
Based on your status as a student, your income goals might be different while attending school. Yours may look like 80% towards needs, 20% towards wants, and 0% towards savings. When you graduate, however, it’s important to keep track of where your monthly income is going.
Try creating short term spending and savings goals:
- “I’m going to save $50 this month”
- “I’m only going to eat out twice this week”
- “I will make coffee at home this week, instead of buying coffee on campus”
Start tracking your current spending
Once you know your income, needs vs. wants, and your spending trends, you can start to make changes to monitor your future spending.
If you need help creating a spending plan that works with your student budget schedule, request an appointment, and we would be happy to help!
Loans are a common way that students are able to pay for school and cover living expenses. At UTSA we are dedicated to helping students understand how to use loans effectively. On this page, you can find information on what it means to borrow loans and your different options for repayment.
Why is loan responsibility important?
Determining whether you need to take out a student loan is an important decision. A student loan can help pay for required educational expenses and assist you in achieving your degree.
While a student loan can be beneficial, a student should not take out a student loan without careful consideration. Before accepting a student loan, remember the following:
- Establish a budget to determine the amount of loans needed.
- Keep student loan amounts as low as possible.
- Federal loans are usually preferable to alternative loans.
- Borrow money for needs and not wants.
- Keep track of the amount you borrow by logging into your Federal Student Aid account at studentloans.gov.
Creating a loan portfolio can be helpful to keep track of the amounts you borrow. Use our template below and update your loan amounts each time you borrow.
Student loan repayment
When it comes to repaying your student loan(s), you’ll want to consider the repayment plan that will fit your needs best and will help keep your finances in order. Below are a few points you will want to remember about loan repayment.
- The amount you borrowed in student loans and the accumulated interest must be repaid
- Loan repayments begin after your 6 month grace period
- The amount owed must be repaid regardless of whether you graduate
- The federal government will collect the money owed to them and they have the authority to garnish wages and collect tax refunds.
- Student loans are rarely discharged in bankruptcy
- Late payments will damage your credit score
To calculate your estimated monthly payments, use the Federal Student Aid Repayment Estimator.
It’s tempting to get credit cards to pay for your “wants” now, without thinking about the repercussions later. Your credit choices now, can affect your ability to make important purchases in the future.
Tips for Credit Success
What is credit?
Credit is your ability to obtain goods or services you want now by promising to pay for them later. Your ability to obtain credit is based on your credit history.
A credit score is a numerical prediction of how risky it might to be lend to you. The FICO score can range from 300-850. Often banks and credit lenders have started to share this score with customers to help them understand their credit. You can also check at www.myfico.com.
Your credit score is determined by a few factors such as repayment history, the amount of debt you have and how long you have had credit. Below are just a few ways to protect and improve your credit score.
- Pay your bills on time
- Keep your balances low
- Only apply for and open new credit accounts as needed.
- Pay off debt rather than moving it around.
If you are working to improve your credit or are just starting out, then patience is key. It takes time and work to get out of debt and improve your score.” For more information, visit the websites below.
A credit report is a detailed report of your individual credit history prepared by one of three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). While there are small differences between each report, we encourage you to check your credit report three times throughout the year.
- October- November: Equaifax
- March- April : Experian
- June- July: TransUnion
You are allowed to check your credit for free from each of these agencies once a year. Use www.AnnualCreditReport.com to check each agency based on the timeline above.