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How to be money smart at USC

At the USC Student Success Center, students can find resources to enhance their financial literacy.

As a senior graduating in a few months and a new job on the horizon, I decided to take advantage of this resource and schedule a Money Smart Consultation about basic budgeting and financial goal-setting.

I met virtually with my peer consultant and the meeting lasted about 30 minutes. We discussed my current financial situation, spending habits, what a budget looks like and how to put one together, my financial goals and more. During my Money Smart consultation, I was able to think much more in depth about my relationship with money and I found a few takeaways.    

Reaching financial goals requires a plan. It is important to have both short-term and long-term financial goals. The way to meet those goals is by having a plan and sticking to it. Your peer consultant can help you discover your financial goals and customize a plan to meet them. 

Know the different kinds of expenses. Factoring in your expenses is a key aspect of creating a budget. There are several kinds of expenses: monthly fixed, monthly variable, periodic necessary and discretionary expenses. Don’t forget to consider whether an expense is a need or a want. 

Find the right budgeting method. There are many ways to make and keep track of your budget, so you may have some trial and error in order to find the best method. Some methods of budgeting include writing it down on paper, using a computer spreadsheet, an app on your smartphone, or the envelope system. I personally like to use an Excel spreadsheet or an app on my phone. 

Spender vs. saver. Think about your monthly spending habits and where you spend the most money to determine which category you fall in. I am naturally a saver, so I tend to pinch my pennies and watch my monthly spending. If you are naturally a spender but want to become a saver, a Money Smart Consultation to learn about the basics of budgeting could be right for you.  

Money Smart also offers consultations about building and managing credit, financial planning for study abroad or national student exchange, and moving off campus. Remember that these consultations are highly individualized, and your specific financial situations and needs will differ from your peers.

I highly recommend taking advantage of this resource and scheduling an appointment for yourself.