Paying attention to dollars during the summer can pay off for students during the fall semester.

“Many people put money aside for future expenses, but they often fail to have a specific savings goal,” said Kevin Sutton, the Assistant Director of Financial Wellness within the Hokie Wellness team. “The main purpose of financial planning is to allow for a consistent quality of life throughout the year, so being as specific as possible with considering your annual expenses is a great way to ensure this is achieved.”

The summer months are a great time for students to take stock of their individual financial situations, consider its impact on their overall wellness, and prepare in ways that increase the odds of financial security in the future.

Sutton provided suggestions on a few specific areas on which it might be helpful for students to focus.

Vacations: When planning a trip, envision the entire experience. While many will factor in travel and lodging costs, some people may not factor in an accurate amount of money for items such as food. Looking at the menus of restaurants you are likely to visit can help better estimate those costs.

Group expenses: When planning to spend money with other people, no matter if it’s a long-term decision, like an apartment, or more short-term, like a trip, it can be easy to look at the end product before considering the individual feasibility. When making plans with multiple individuals, agree on a definitive number of people that will be part of the expense and how much each can afford before beginning the planning process. This helps filter down the possible options to ones that are financially realistic for everyone involved.

Gifts: Make of list of the people for whom you plan to buy gifts, including the time of year you’ll likely purchase it and the estimated cost. Pay particular attention to the months of November and December. These are peak months for holiday shopping and can even cause increased financial stress for people that typically manage their money well for most of the year. Planning ahead for such a time can decrease the need for a person to make financial adjustments, such as avoiding restaurants or skipping meals, during the shopping season.

Meals: Look at your spending in prior years to estimate how much you typically spend on food during any given week. Ensuring that you have the funds to eat healthily all semester is important for your overall well-being and whether you are on-campus or off-campus, doing this can be a challenge. Hokie Wellness is happy to meet one-on-one to construct and review budgets with students to factor in their individual circumstances.

Overall, Sutton says remaining mindful about your situation and how it impacts your money management is a key to success. Circumstances can often change the way money is spent. In general, people spend money differently when in different geographic locations, different emotional states, and when around different people. And an event such as a vacation can create an alignment of all three.

“Take the time to think about the situations you plan to be in, the people you’ll be around, and the emotions you hope to experience. Be intentional in your saving now to be best prepared for those future situations,” Sutton said.

He also advises students to set aside 10 minutes each week to review their finances and spending for the week. It is easiest to pick a consistent day and time each week to make it habitual. This could include checking your bank accounts, viewing the status of any loans you might have, and paying off your credit card in full each week.

Sutton is also available to students to provide information related to money management, credit scores, debt management, financial behavioral change, student loan repayment, and other personal financial topics.

Students can contact Sutton via email at suttonkl@vt.edu or schedule an appointment by clicking here.