Assess your financial health

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A new semester gives students a fresh start in their course schedule. It is also a time to reflect on last semester and make changes to anything that may need to be done differently.
Just like you review your new course syllabus to figure out how to manage the course, you also need to think about how you will manage your finances for the upcoming semester. Take time now to set yourself up financially for a successful semester.

First, reflect on your financial management over the past semester. Did you have enough money to meet your needs and wants? Were you stressed about paying for things, or did you feel you had the freedom to make financial decisions?

When looking back over the past few months, be objective when evaluating your spending. Necessary and required expenses for college include: tuition, fees, books, housing and food. Other expenses you may need to consider are: transportation, clothing, cell phone and entertainment. Review bank transactions and statements to see where your money consistently went.

Organize each transaction into expense categories. Calculate how much you spent on each category. Review the numbers by considering which expenses were necessary and which you could either reduce or eliminate.

Next, determine how much money you need for the semester. According to South Dakota State University Admissions, the cost for one semester for South Dakota residents living on campus is $8,285. The cost will vary depending on which residence hall you live in, your academic major and your residency status.

Check the Admissions website to find out your costs based on your specific situation. If you live off campus, your housing and food costs will also vary. Review your financial aid; including grants, scholarships, loans, savings and contribution from parents.

Do you have enough to cover the basic costs? How much money do you need for other expenses? Is there a gap between what you have and what you need?

Based on what you learn about your financial management practices and the amount of money needed for the next semester, set financial goals and make a plan to achieve those goals.
To learn how to write financial goals see the article “Setting SMART Goals” on iGrow.org.
What can you do during winter and summer breaks to meet your financial needs during the school year? After you reflect on your financial management practices and know your financial needs for next semester, can you earn extra income during the break, or do you need to cut back on spending?

Remember you have control over your money, your money does not have control over you.
If you need advice on how to assess your financial situation or how to develop a budget, contact me to set up an appointment.

Lorna Saboe-Wounded Head is the SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Field Specialist and can be reached at lorna.woundedhead@sdstate.edu.

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