The Dilemmas of Student Loan Budgeting
The headaches and anxieties of paying for college is far from a secret and far from a solution. I am an e-Campus student (also known as Online Student or Distance Learning), sometimes that makes things easier but I suspect it also complicates things sometimes as well. However, I do think the on campus students have more “unknowns” to worry about. I do get the luxury of avoiding gas, possibly dorm costs, on campus meals, and many other costs. Although, there are many other costs such as full rent, my own Internet (many Colleges/Universities provide), electricity, and all of my supplies. In the end though, I really can’t compare nor do I think it’s relevant. Likely, I will be doing on campus classes next fall and my perception of the difference between the two is probably drastically off.
When it comes to student loans, I always have dilemmas though. If you’re like me, who likes to take summer courses, I often have no grant money remaining to help pay for any of those classes, not that I’m ungrateful at all. So, planning ahead is essential and regardless if you’re an e-Campus student or an on campus student, there’s little worse in the financial department than running out halfway through the school year. For me, I have to budget the cost of, usually, six credits plus the estimation of books for the summer courses and of course also try and predict what will be needed for the spring semester period.
To do this, I broke things down into categories on priority. Nothing can ever prepare us for the “unknowns” and things that just happen. One week ago, my car decided to start overheating and with me not being mechanically inclined, I have to wait until that first installment to even find out what the repair will be and the cost or even if it’s worth fixing. So, cross that bridge when you come to it but if it’s already happened such as me needing rear tires too, just give it an educated high estimate and also do a separate estimate of worst case scenario. Which, in my case, is how much is feasibly possible to spend on another used car as reliable transportation is helpful, granted there is the bus system. Go Green! This is my breakdown of my categories, this is only my system, everyone’s situation is different of course.
- “The Must Haves”
- This is mostly self-explanatory: the necessities. However, I do take it a step further and if you’re living on your own, with room-mates, or a similar
situation: I plan to try and pay some monthly bills ahead. This takes the strain off monthly income, which also stresses us out so it does likely help us
do better academically or at least focus better. Anything that you can do from paying the six month bulk payment on your car insurance (which often generates
a discount anyway) if you have a car, or pay your mobile phone bill three or so months in advance, your Internet bill in advance if your College/University doesn’t
provide it, and so forth. This also gives breathing room for socializing for stress relief when you need to or making it to that gathering if that male or female
that you wanted to meet shows up somewhere. Logically, if anything comes up, then you’re already set.
- “Productivity Boosters”
- Some would argue these, some wouldn’t. “Productivity Boosters” to me are anything that help me perform better academically. Whether it’s a better
desk that has more surface space, a task chair that decreases back pain from long hours of studying, even a certain type of pen that helps my hand not cramp up so bad or
notebooks that are tougher that can be tossed around in a Targus backpack without getting demolished along with your notes.
Even if it’s a book stand to hold it up so you can type your notes while reading and not create a notorious neck ache that seems to live forever. I do better academically, it lowers
my stress, and I tend to enjoy the assignments that I’m doing more.
- “The ‘Need’ vs. ‘Want’ Battle”
- This is where the gray area begins. Of course, I’m not including frivolous spending because students can argue just about any use of spending. I’m very likely in that group, maybe
even among these. With me being a Web Development major, it’s pretty easy to put up a good argument why it would be helpful to invest in an Asus MeMo Pad tablet to test and practice Responsive Designs on. It’s a valid argument because it’s also true, but do I need it now? It may benefit or
it may not. Another example visiting my mind right now too is picking up an inexpensive/benchmark Dell Inspirion 15.6″ budget laptop. I type
pretty fast and can sometimes be a little tough on the keys. I have noticed that techies and companies alike connect the possibility that users of more inexpensive and budget laptops are going
to be a little harder on them, especially the keyboards. With a keyboard that I don’t have to be as delicate with such as my
Asus X750JB 17.3″, which I adore by the way, I could likely kick out notes quicker. I also see it, “trying to justify it”, as a laptop that I can experiment a bit such as the example of
learning to wipe the hard drive clean if able and run Linux operating system on it instead of Windows. Also, the ability to type out or have more compact ease to practice programming,
at least anything that isn’t going to be processor hogging since many budgets are lower in memory, hard drive space, and processor power. With enough brainstorming, we can probably justify nearly
anything and maybe that’s a problem in the geek world. Gadgets aren’t among the cheaper items on the market.
Regardless of your college financial situation, major or background, I think every college student should know how to budget. This should be especially true if of the younger generation or if you’re entering college just out of high school. It took me far too long in my adult life to realize it’s massive importance. As when it pertains to studying, it’s not always the most fun to decline a fun social outing, but (shrug) responsibility isn’t always glamorous but it’ll get us where we can enjoy those things far more….or so we hope. However, especially in College, where it’s so easy to type in a loan amount and click “enter”, budgeting is protecting ourselves from temptation. I apologize if that sounded preachy.
I will be working on making sure this blog/Wordpress site doesn’t look so “blah”. It almost reminds me of the old Geocities days. (Shivers).