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Success Center helps students learn to budget time, money

Two things college students never seem to have enough of are time and money. One of the biggest learning curves when undergraduates get to school is how to manage both without constant parental oversight.

“I felt like I had enough freedom to go and do whatever at any time,” says junior Emily Weisler. “But managing money was hard because I had never been in charge of being 100% responsible for all my purchases, like groceries and books.”

Learning the skills to better manage both time and money is an important service offered by the Student Success Center.

Rachel Sinoway, coordinator of financial literacy at the Student Success Center, says students typically struggle with budgeting during the transition to college, particularly as they try to take on several financial responsibilities all at once.

One important aspect of budgeting is to be realistic about how much money you will spend in a given week without being too restrictive. Budgeting apps, including Mint, Pluto Money and Empower, can help students create budgets that fit their lifestyles. These apps can be especially helpful.

“My advice would be for students to use our services throughout their time at the university,” Sinoway says. “Good time management and managing your money are skills/habits that need to be built up and that's what the Student Success Center is here to help with.”

A money management consultation starts with checking students’ understanding about their current financial situation and recognizing short and long-term goals. Walking through these financial goals includes figuring out what is important, such as paying rent and utilities, to more discretionary spending like movie theaters and coffee shops. The goal is not to limit spending money entirely, but to find a good balance between spending wisely and saving for the future.

“Moderation is important,” Sinoway says. “Students come in with a black-and-white mentality where they think they have to spend a lot or nothing at all. But that’s not how it has to be.”

Here are some tips to consider when building a personal budget:

  • Set SMART goals — goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
  • Decide where you can cut back discretionary spending — and decide what you want to prioritize.
  • Make sure your desired level of spending will work with your goals.
  • Keep track of your spending and budget regularly to make sure you stay on target.

There are a lot of ways to create and manage a budget, and people differ in the ways that work for their specific goals.

“You had to work to figure out studying strategies, it’s the same with money management,” Sinoway says. “It’s all about figuring out what works for you.”

To find out more information or schedule a money management consultation, visit the Student Success Center website or email

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