Control spending, it’s easy to get carried away

“Broke college student” is a phrase religiously thrown around. But why are college students stereotyped for having insane spending habits?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between the years 1999–2000, 76 percent of all full-time dependent students worked while enrolled, which included students with federal work-study jobs. Those who worked put in an average of 22 hours per week and earned an average of $5,100 per year.

However, there are resources on campus dedicated to students who need a bit of financial guidance. 

The local campus TCF Bank is located in the Illini Union Bookstore. Being so close to college students, representatives from the bank said they see a lot of common issues students have with controlling their spending.

“Common spending issues can include students that do not keep track of their account balance and may write a check or use their check card with insufficient available funds to pay transactions,” said Caryn Kolodziej Pellegrino, assistant vice president of retail sales support in Burr Ridge, Ill.   

Devin Bhard, senior in Engineering, said shopping on a college budget requires self-control from students.

“I think it just requires a little bit of discipline. I personally don’t find that too difficult,” Bhard said. “I kind of just go with the flow a little bit. I mean, I try not to spend too much money and try to be reasonable and healthy.”

The bank wants to fix that problem and instill Bhard’s thought process into other students’ minds. The University’s TCF campus branch offers free financial literacy seminars throughout the school year. Students can learn just how to shop properly on a smaller budget.

“I’m a little more conscious, mainly in regards to health. It’s a lot easier to save money but eat bad than it is to eat healthier and spend a little extra — something I wasn’t as conscious about as a freshman,” Bhard said.

“Students should spend within their means. Always be aware of how much money is in their account and know when transactions have posted and been deducted from their balance,” Pellegrino said.

Making and following a budget is one of the biggest obstacles for students. In that case, Mint, a financial service, can help with that. You can log in from the website, or download the application in the App Store. It categorizes expenditures so users can set exactly how much they want to spend on, let’s say, fast food per month.

Danielle can be reached at [email protected]