Hey, I’m Sarah and I spent my summer as an intern for the Facing the Mortgage Crisis initiative. I’m from St. Louis but I go to school at Cornell University. From now on, I’ll be blogging from Ithaca, NY , bringing you more reports like the one below. You’ll hear from college students and young adults about their financial experiences, and you’ll also be connected to resources that can help you through your own financial challenges.
College is a time for learning, hard work, having fun, and lasting friendships. It’s also a time when financial literacy is essential. Many college students live in off-campus apartments and are faced with rent payments and grocery shopping for the first time ever. College towns are often immune to the normal patterns of the housing market. Angela M., a junior at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, is living in an apartment for the first time. In “Collegetown”, home to thousands of Cornell students, rent prices are especially high. It is normal for the best locations to be rented out one full year ahead of time, and all of the competition means that rent prices here are actually on the rise.
So how do students like Angela M. manage to balance the many expenses that come with college life? The key is financial literacy and learning how to budget effectively. Angela M. admits that this semester has been a time of “trial and error”. She has an on-campus job that helps to pay for expenses and a portion of each paycheck goes into a savings account. She has also devised a system in which her expendable income is divided into three categories—one for necessities like books, bills, and groceries, another category for the occasional clothing purchase or dinner out, and a final category for splurges like plane tickets or road trips.
Still, Angela M. admits that, “It’s hard having a debit card because I feel like you can swipe all of your money away”. Yet despite the trial and error, Angela M. says that she has learned to look at money in a new way. Now, instead of casually spending money, she’s gauging her purchases in terms of the question “Do I need this?” College is a time of newfound independence, but this independence is not complete without a solid understanding of how to spend wisely.