Cash conscious: here to help you save

Devinn Winkleman

Greetings, freshmen, and welcome back, returnees, to another round of the highs and lows that fit the definition of college life. I hope you all enjoy your stay.

As you’re all well aware, we’re living in tumultuous times, and the future is looking pretty bleak. The national unemployment rate has been steady this year at around 8.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Once some of you graduate you’ll be part of the new norm of alumni who have to return home because the jobs associated with their four-year degree will either offer a paltry salary, bar you from entering because of lack of experience, or have dried up. Scary thoughts, huh?

But there’s no need to panic. It can get better. All it takes is a better understanding of the financial world so you can be the architect of your own financial destiny. That’s what this column is designed to do.

After graduating from WKU with a journalism degree in 2005, I bounced between newspaper and radio work for five years. I finally decided to return to WKU in 2011 to pursue a bachelor’s in business administration.

Throughout the school year, I’ll tackle several topics that will have an impact on your money, such as debt, loans, banking, investing and insurance. I’ll break down the financial jargon, complex rules and regulations into an easy-to-digest format. Then, I’ll give you the information you need to stretch your dollar further. Here are a few tips for starters:

Budget your money

Like I said, your money has to last, and the best way to do that is to grocery shop outside of campus. The food inside Garrett Conference Center and Downing University Center is great, but it’s also very expensive. As an alternative, go to Kroger with a shopper’s card. You’re able to get a lot of the food you want at budget prices. For even bigger savings, shop the in-store brand name instead of the popular brand. It’s virtually the same food but cheaper

Plan for the unexpected

Whether you think it’ll happen or not, there will always be unexpected costs creeping around the corner, so plan for them. Set some emergency money aside for whatever disaster or surprise expense may come your way. You’ll be glad you did.

With these tips in mind, I hope you’ll become more aware of how to better spend your money. But this is merely scratching the surface.

With the personal finance world being so vast and my knowledge in it being so limited, I’ve asked Dr. Harold Little, an associate professor at the Gordon Ford College of Business, and Financial Planning Program Director Andrew Head to assist me in getting to the heart of the topic.

I’m going to ask you, the readers, to do something as well. If you have any questions regarding your own finances — it doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as interest rates or the many flavors of annuities — please send them to [email protected] and I’ll try to answer them in future columns. After all, the more you know about your money, the more you’ll be able to keep in your pocket.