STUDENT MONEY MANAGEMENT GUIDE
Managing money can be especially difficult for students on a tight budget, so the Financial Aid Office has put together a few ideas to help make it easier. On these pages you'll find tips for stretching your dollars, as well as a Budget Planning Tool through CashCourse. If it seems like you spend more time worrying about money than you do studying, take time out to examine your budget and develop a plan that works for you.
Your budget plan will succeed only if it reflects your personal needs and priorities. Make sure the money you spend covers the items most important for your education. Housing, food, health care, books, and registration fees are the basic expenses that you will need to continue your education. You should use your income to cover these expenses before you consider luxury purchases such as entertainment or expensive clothing. And when budgeting for a quarter, be sure to allow for costs that occur monthly. For some ideas about how to reduce your spending to meet your budget plan, read the money-saving tips that follow.
- CashCourse Budget Management Tools
- Credit and Banking
- Clothing/Personal Expenses
- Utilities and Telephone
- Health Care
To help students with budgeting and financial advice, UC Davis has partnered with the online website CashCourse.org. This online resource provides very user-friendly tools to help you make good choices about your money.
- Use the Budget Planning Tool available through CashCourse.
- After you've balanced your budget, begin keeping a detailed record of what you spend. Expenses for one quarter should show whether or not you are following your plan.
- Say "NO" to credit cards. Not only do you pay a finance charge, but you may be tempted to buy more than you can really afford. If you feel you must have a credit card, don't purchase more than you can afford, and pay the balance each month. Better yet, save it for emergencies!
- Open a savings account and make regular deposits. When choosing a bank, compare monthly service charges and ask about any additional costs, such as buying checks, costs for overdrafts, and stop-payment orders.
- Avoid the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fast-money trap. Try to limit the number of visits to the ATM. Some banks charge a service fee for each transaction, which can add up quickly. If you use the ATM, withdraw small amounts and don't forget to record the transactions in your checkbook.
- Use online banking services offered through your bank for paying bills and managing your money.
- Student Housing on campus generally provides the least expensive housing for single students. Housing fees cover the cost of rent, meals, utilities, computer labs, furniture, and programs and activities. Student family housing is also very reasonably priced.
- If you plan to live off campus, Community Housing Listing Service through ASUCD provides listings of housing in the community along with descriptions of apartments and facilities.
- Make sure that you understand all of the terms in your rental agreement. Rental arrangements should be in writing and you should read them carefully before signing. Ask your landlord for the Model Lease or the Month-to-Month Rental Agreement approved by the ASUCD Fair Housing Committee.
- Find a roommate! Sharing your apartment with one or more roommates will substantially
reduce your monthly expenses. You may also want to consider a room in a private home; this option can be available with or without kitchen privileges, depending on your preference.
- Develop a weekly meal plan and shop with your plan to guide you.
- Pack your lunch and avoid fast food places. If you do eat out, use coupons and look for the best food at the most reasonable cost.
- Invest in a cookbook (thrift stores carry used ones) and prepare meals at home.
- Compare prices at different stores and use coupons.
- Buy house brands and generic products, they are generally less expensive.
- Buy bulk amounts of dry goods such as rice and flour.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Check out the various Farmers Markets in the surrounding communities.
- Consider joining a food co-op.
- Go food shopping with friends and roommates.
- Eat something before you go shopping, never shop for food on an empty stomach!
- Shopping in thrift or consignment stores can be fun and you may find some real treasures! Avoid "dry-clean-only" clothing purchases.
- Factory discount outlets offer name brand, quality products at less than cost. If you are planning to drive to go shopping, take a few friends and share the cost of gas.
- Many bookstores and music stores offer less expensive used books and compact discs.
- Avoid late fees/fines by returning books on time and emptying your locker before the end
of the quarter.
- Check into the variety of money-saving rate plans offered by telephone companies and PG & E. Remember to figure installation costs into your budget.
- Find out how to connect to online services through UC Davis from the UC Davis Computing Account Services.
- Look for the best cell phone and wireless plan that works for you. Beware of extra data plan charges, and early contract cancellation charges.
- Try writing letters and sending postcards through the U.S. mail, your family and friends will enjoy hearing from you!
- To reduce your PG& E bill and save energy, turn off your lamps, television, and stereo when not in use. Set the thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter to conserve energy.
- If you and your roommates are renting a house, ask if you will be required to pay the utilities (Water and Garbage Collection) as part of the rental agreement. Water is metered in Davis, so take shorter showers, don't run the water when you brush your teeth, and set the sprinkler on a timer.
- To do your best in school, it's important to take good care of yourself. For those times when you're not feeling well, health care is available through the Student Health & Wellness Center for all registered students. Students who are not covered by their parents' health insurance policy may purchase health insurance through the University.
- If you are feeling a little overwhelmed and just need someone to talk to, check out the many counseling services and programs available through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) .
- Bicycling and walking are the cheapest means of transportation in Davis. Unitrans buses also offer transportation to and from campus; undergraduates with a valid Registration Card can ride free. For trips outside of Davis, Yolo Bus is available to nearby cities and the Sacramento International Airport. Bus schedules are available at the Memorial Union Information Desk. Try something different, take the train! Amtrak offers service to San Francisco or Tahoe for a reasonable cost.
- Avoid the expensive habit of driving a car. The combination of high gasoline and oil costs, insurance, maintenance, and parking fees (and parking fines!) can make a car a major financial burden.
- Ride Share. If you are planning a trip, check the Ride Share Bulletin Board at the Memorial Union for listings of rides and riders wanted. Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) provides information about a wide variety of alternative transportation methods.
- A variety of music and drama events is offered throughout the year by the Department of Theatre & Dance, many of them free to students.
- Look for dance, music, and theater productions at special student rates. Visit the Mondavi Center for special student rates.
- Participate in your favorite Intramural Sport. UC Davis offers more intramural sports than any other UC campus, you're sure to find a sport you enjoy.
- If you have a dog or a cat or any other type of pet, or if you are considering adopting one, don't forget about this expense in your budget. Food and health care expenses for your pet can be considerable. Consider carefully whether you have sufficient time and money to spend on a pet before you take on this responsibility.