Published on Oct. 22, 2019
For anyone making money in the modern world, financial planning is a necessary skill. It is especially vital in the college years, where funds are notoriously low and the professional world is only a few years away. The last thing any student can afford to do is go into a career without understanding how to properly manage their money. Luckily, everyone in the world has some sort of understanding when it comes to being smart with their funds, some just a bit more than others. I spoke to Jim Green, director of the Office of Financial Success, for some ways to be even smarter, earlier on.
Don’t wait to start being smart
When you’re in college instead of having a full-time job, it’s easy to put finances on the back burner, considering you don’t have much. Jim Green warns against this specifically, advising students to start “the day they show up”. Financial planning is a skill necessary for adult life, and it’s much better to get a hold on it now instead of ten years down the road.
Spending plan, spending plan, spending plan
Budgeting, Jim Green acknowledges, is a bit of a bad word. Nobody likes to think about restricting how much they spend. A better term for this would be making a spending plan. Don’t go out and spend money blindly until you hit your self-imposed limit. Look at the next few days or weeks, and allot money for everything. Set money aside for gas, for food, and other expenses. Then decide just how much you can realistically save up. Track what money you spend and where to get a better sense of your priorities. Having a plan for spending your money doesn’t have to be all about limits, it can simply be looking to the future and anticipating where money should go. If nothing else, try to manage your expenses.
Financial planning isn’t only about the money you already have
The most important misconception about financial planning is that it’s just about working with the money you already have. Financial aid is as much a part of a student’s financial future as any job, and getting more of it should be prioritized. This can include filing for FAFSA or looking for scholarships and grants outside of government aid. “There’s more to financial aid than just government financial aid,” Jim Green advises, “and so being aware of all of the different sources you may be able to access or tap is very important.” Don’t stop at FAFSA and let that be the end of your financial aid. Try to fill out scholarship applications on a semi-regular basis, and reach out to local organizations you’re involved in, even if you don’t think you’re the best applicant. “Look for other scholarship opportunities in your local area that you may not think that you’re going to be the right candidate for. Often times they get none or few applications for scholarships and they have to give it away because it’s part of their charter and they would give it to you even if you didn’t fit.” says Green. He continues to say if you’re short on spare time, have “a few different versions of the same essay that you can manipulate a little” to fit any scholarship application.
Know where to go
There is no shortage of financial resources here at the University, specifically the Office of Financial Success, which Jim Green heads. Green himself recommends the office “if you have any questions about financial management whatsoever. We can attempt to try to answer and or help coach you through that question.” The office is open to any students, employees or faculties at MU, so don’t be afraid to walk in and get some education when it comes to being smart with your money. The Office of Financial Success is located in 162 Stanley Hall, and is open from 9:30am-5:00pm Monday-Thursday and 9:30am-3:00pm on Friday. Appointments are available for scheduling through MU Connect, making financial success well within reach.