Student Finances

Rich After College: Why You Need to Learn to Budget Before You Graduate

From Mint: Connor Sweet is a student at UC Berkeley and recently discovered Mint when his impending graduation and transition to the real world began to sink in. We were, of course, thrilled to hear that he found Mint so useful; but even more so, impressed that he reached out because he wanted to make a difference in other college students’ lives. Over the coming months, Connor will be contributing articles to share what it’s like to be kicking off a financial life for the first time. We are looking forward to watching his journey!

College is an amazing place – it’s when we get to expand our minds, pursue different interests and develop skills that will prepare you for a career of your choosing. But what it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for is real “adulting”.

After college, barring grad school, students will enter the working sphere and become full members of society. Meaning, you now have to pay taxes, make your own money, make decisions about credit cards, budgets, investments and more. These skills are essential to function through adulthood, but are rarely taught in college. Instead, these skills are often learned under a pressure-filled period of time when former students are transitioning into the real world.

A Skill Never Taught

About halfway through my junior year, the imminent reality of graduation set it. I began reaching out to any and every professional connection I have in an attempt to find some direction for my career path. I had conversations with investment bankers, real estate agents, salespeople, etc.

One question I always asked: “What was your major in college?” Most often, the response I received started with giggles and a, “Uhh… Well (Insert Major), but your major doesn’t really matter too much for your career.”

After a few of these responses, I started to realize – all of these hours my peers and I are dedicating to our majors may not actually be useful in our careers. I am currently majoring in Environmental Economics and Policy, but who knows?! I may end up finding a great job that I love as a recruiter for an HR firm. But what WILL be for sure no matter which career I end up in: I will have to manage my finances and be prepared to make financial decisions.

Becoming Aware of My Spending

This past January, I was overcome with anxiety due to the fact that, in very short time, I will need to find a job, pay off loans and support myself. It occurred to me that I need to be able to organize my expenses, save money, and budget.

I started doing research and, as most people my age do, looked for an app that might be able to help lift some of the stress. This is how I discovered Mint.

After playing around with it for a few weeks, I was amazed at how helpful it was. Granted, looking at your finances can sometimes be painful – but I’ve learned that by being aware, I’m making better choices.

I began telling my friends about the app and we all kind of reflected on the times we were spending insane amounts of money one minute, and then having pennies in our accounts for weeks. That’s not how any of us want to live at any point, but especially once we graduate.

Hindsight is 20/20

I wish that I had started budgeting earlier in my college career so by the time I graduated it was second nature to me. The pain of trial and error while setting budgets and learning to stick to them would have been much easier with the expenses I was dealing with (versus real bills and loan payments).

Having nearly finished my college career, I reached out to Mint because I wanted to share my story. If I could offer one piece of advice to an 18-year-old I would tell him/her to learn how to budget their money. If you learn how to budget in college, it is almost like a test run. Then, once you hit the very complicated real world, it will be a skill that you have already mastered, so you can focus on other aspects of your life.

In the coming weeks I will shed more light on the college perspective of budgeting. I will provide tips, tricks, and some insight on certain parts of budgeting, while incorporating personal experience from my time in college.

 

Connor Sweet is on the verge of finishing his college career and has deep aspirations to invest his money in the future. He is in the process of getting his finances in order and paying off his student debt in order to reach this goal. As he begins this journey he wants to offer his personal experience, advice, and findings in order to help college students/young adults in this very confusing time/pivotal point.