By: Andrew Garison
One subject that students don’t often see on their course lists is how to manage their money. It can be shocking to find out how much things like groceries, gas, and rent actually cost. Off Campus Life (OCL), an office on campus dedicated to helping students transition to living outside the JMU bubble, has come up with a solution. This past Wednesday, OCL hosted a workshop designed to teach students the importance of budgeting and making the most out of their money.
The workshop broke down key components of money management such as what a budget is, how to distinguish between wants and needs, and the importance of saving money. “They really covered all the topics I felt would be useful,” said sophomore Nursing major Eileen Medronl.
The information was presented in PowerPoint format, but that did not stop the OCL staff from incorporating fun activities to help emphasize the facts. Midway through the event, students participated in an interactive activity using Smarties. The activity was similar to BINGO. Students placed their Smarties on a grid with rows and columns representing five different components of a budget: housing, transportation, textbooks, food, and social activities. The candy was used to “buy” certain options in these budget categories. Prices ranged from one to three Smarties depending on the quality of the option.
The point of the activity to help students understand the ever-changing nature of a budget. The presenters would make up a scenario, like a car breaking down, and ask students to take Smarties out of their budget. They were then asked to redistribute the Smarties they had left to create a new, flexible budget. The activity also helped students figure out where their monetary priorities lie. No one budget will work for anyone, so it’s up to the individual to distinguish what their wants and needs are and then plan accordingly.
When it comes to planning a budget, the key idea the OCL staff preached was to be honest with yourself. Once you understand what your needs are, and where their income needs to go, then the process of budgeting starts to get easier. It may take a few times to get it right but don’t fret. If you need some help, OCL has an interactive budget template available on their website: https://info.jmu.edu/ocl/events/mo-money-less-problems-budget-workshop/
It can be easier to budget if the numbers are there in front of you. “The more involved with the numbers you are, the more disciplined you’ll be with your budget,” said Jeremy Hawkins, an OCL staff member and the presenter at this workshop.
The workshop was well received by the students in attendance. “It was very helpful,” said Nina Dixon, a sophomore Nursing major. “The only other time I talked about budgeting was my Econ class.”
OCL is planning to implement a whole series of workshops they’re calling “Adulting with Milk and Cookies.” Students can drop in for a casual workshop covering a wide range of topics that can be applicable in life during and after college. If you missed out on this budgeting workshop don’t worry. OCL is holding another one on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 7:00 to 8:00 PM, in the Festival Highlands Room. For more information on any of the workshops, or other OCL events, check out their website here: https://info.jmu.edu/ocl/events/