Mastering the art of budgeting as a student

Graphic by Florence Yee.

Are you an Avoiding Ostrich, a Striding Peacock, a Stashing Crow, or a Wary Owl?

On Aug. 24, Concordia’s Financial Aid & Awards Office presented the first workshop in a series of four similar events dedicated to helping students find the budgeting system right for them.

The first “Budget to Your Values” workshop, which took place in the Guy de Maisonneuve building last Thursday, was hosted by Judy Lashley, a financial advisor working with the Financial Aid & Awards Office at Concordia.  The second workshop took place on Aug. 25, and the last two events of the series will take place on Aug. 30 and 31.

During the workshop, Lashley explained that budgeting is essential for students because it is a tool that helps in long-term saving.  “A budgeting plan is a roadmap that teaches you how to do things in your life so that you are able to plan for your future,” said Lashley to the room full of students.

According to Lashley, one of the main issues students face when making a budget is not knowing what they want to do with their money, or what they see as their long-term financial goals.  To shed light on this issue, Lashley used a variety of handouts and fun games to better translate her expertise on money and budgeting systems.

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Lashley created an interactive presentation.  Each student was handed a workshop folder containing budgeting instructions, a personality quiz, a customized envelope, a workshop evaluation form and an information sheet for the Financial Aid department at Concordia.  Her presentation also included a quiz, entitled “How do You Relate to Money?” The quiz analyzed participants’ personality types and aimed to understand the relationship they have with their money.  The results were divided into four bird categories, aimed to represent different budgeting characteristics: The Avoiding Ostrich (avoidance), Striding Peacock (overspending), The Stashing Crow (workaholic), and the Wary Owl (vigilance and fear).

Lashley explained that a budget can be something as simple as a piece of paper where you write down the money that comes in, the money that goes out and the money you want to put aside.  She also said that one of the best ways for students to save money is by using the envelope budgeting system. This way, the whole money-spending and money-saving process is more tangible, and you can physically see your money being placed and being spent.  Using cards all the time can make you underestimate the amount you dish out, said Lashley.

The envelope system works by calculating an estimate of your monthly expenses, dividing your expenses into different categories and assigning an envelope to each category.  With these, you can either put the cash for the month in the envelope up front or, you can put money in the envelopes weekly.  For instance, if you put $50 in your food envelope at the beginning of the week, then $50 is all you are allowed to spend on food until the following week.

Lashley also said it’s important to be aware of emergency expenses that may come up. Emergency expenses can include needing to purchase new ink for a printer or replacing broken electronics.  Lashley explained that the key to budgeting and saving money is to know what your values are, and to make appropriate decisions based on them.  “If you figure out what you value, you can figure out how to save money and create a budget that will help you do the things you want to do,” she said.

For more information, visit the FAAO website.

Graphic by Florence Yee

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