What is Financial Wellness?
Categories: For High School Students, For Parents and Cosigners, Blog, For Students, For College Students
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They don’t always teach you about finances in school growing up unless you count watching School House Rock videos or budgeting to buy supplies while playing Oregon Trail on the computer. In fact, you may not have even heard the phrase “financial wellness” before going to college (or maybe even before reading this blog).
According to a 2018 survey by the Council for Economic Education, only 17 states require high school students to take a personal finance class. As a result, students often have to learn financial lessons from family, friends, or a mentor. Depending on your particular situation, you may not have someone in your inner circle who you can turn to for financial advice.
Whether you’re a money management guru or just getting started, we want to help you learn financial wellness tips you can carry with you through college and after graduation.
Our Financial Wellness Definition (& What It Means To You)
First thing’s first, “what is financial wellness, anyway?”
The Student Health and Counseling Services at the University of California, Davis, said it best when they defined financial wellness as “the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses.”
From understanding how much you need to spend on groceries and rent each month to maintaining a part-time job, managing a budget each month and sticking to it can help you to become financially independent.
Your financial wellness path is always evolving; there is no final destination or endpoint. As your income and lifestyle change, your journey to financial wellness will change with you.
Managing Your Financial Wellness in College & Beyond
Many students may face ‘financial stress’ – worry, fear, and anxiety about finances in college. This financial stress is often on top of the stress associated with acing classes, working a part-time job, and maintaining and social life. Over time, financial stress can sometimes cause physical symptoms like insomnia, headaches, and fatigue.
Becoming more financially responsible with your college-related expenses may seem daunting but starting little by little will help you feel more empowered.
You can get started by dedicating some time at least once a week to review your weekly or monthly budget and asking yourself the following questions:
- How much do you typically spend on groceries each week?
- How often do you eat out?
- Are there any upcoming holidays or celebrations you need to budget?
- Are there other fluctuations in your pay that you should prepare for, like working fewer hours?
Starting somewhere can help you get a better idea of the money you have incoming and the expenses you have to pay each week. Planning early can help you build financial wellness tips you can carry with you through college and after graduation.
5 Tips for Financial Wellness for College
If you’re ready to take your finances to the next level, here are some helpful tips to help you along your journey to financial wellness.
Tip #1: Build a budget.
Money can be a big source of stress in college. Making a budget can be a simple way to reduce stress and help develop good financial habits along the way.
Tip #2: Find a personal finance app.
If you head over to any app store and look up ‘budgeting apps,’ tons of resources will come up. Pick one you like, like YNAB (You Need A Budget) or Mint, and test it out. Using a budgeting app and setting up alerts on your phone is one way to help you stay disciplined and motivated to make building a budget and sticking to it.
Tip #3: Encourage a friend to practice positive personal finance habits too.
Just like going to the gym or studying on a consistent schedule, it may be easier to stay on track with your budget when you have a friend or loved one motivating you. Find a friend who can help support you on your journey to financial wellness and take the time to support them, too.
Tip #4: Have a plan to chip away at your debt.
Whether you took one of our private student loans with a cosigner to help cover the cost of your tuition bill, were awarded FAFSA money, or paid for some expenses using a credit card, you may have already racked up some debt. Once you have a sense of your monthly budget, you can plan to pay these expenses back to manage your credit better.
Tip #5: Start to save money.
Saving for a rainy day may not be on your radar if you’re already struggling to stay on top of your current expenses but building an emergency fund can help you prepare for when accidents happen. Having savings can help ease some of the stress resulting from getting into a car accident or repairing a broken laptop.
For more tips and other examples, please read up on our managing your money blog post.
Other Financial Wellness Resources
From paying bills to saving and investing money, the financial lessons you learn earlier in life can help you no matter which stage of your financial journey you’re on.
To learn more tips for financial wellness, tune into these seven financial wellness podcasts.