Budget your fun(ds) throughout summer

Illustration courtesy of Madison Cohen

School’s out, but the summertime may present some students with more financial instability than when school was in session. With housing and work changes, travel plans, a less-fixed routine and the desire to have fun, finances may be rocky for students over the summer. Students and employers say budgeting may be the best way to find more financial stability.

Throughout the school year, tuition, fees, housing and other expenses can add up, and this might prompt students to want to save their money over the summer. However, the summer can also be a time when students want to travel and have the most fun they can. Although seemingly incompatible, budgeting can help make student financial stability and traveling more harmonious.

Junior Angela Houston said many students plan to travel over the summer, which has the potential to be a hefty expense, but she recommends carving out a shorter amount of time for travels over the summer. Houston said this method allows for students to have fun while traveling, but also work and potentially save money by living with their parents while they aren’t exploring other places. This summer, when Houston is not traveling, she plans on living with her mom to save money before moving into her new apartment in Flagstaff. Houston said finding a balance between travel and budgeting is the best way to still have fun and save money this summer.

“Have fun doing things that are reasonable but also try to keep a plan or any sort of budget so you don’t spend way too much and just try to keep track and be responsible of all your money as opposed to partying hard every night,” Houston said.

Houston said travels can be made less expensive by working within a budget and planning well. She also said there are opportunities like scholarships and study abroad programs that can help mitigate and regulate travel expenses.

“I made a really tight budget and I planned out all the money that I was going to have and I made a plan of how I was going to stay within that budget,” Houston said. “I am doing something that is reasonably within my financial capabilities and I also got a scholarship for this LA trip that I’m on and I really just put as much money aside as I could and I’m getting a job to make up for whatever money I lose.”

Junior Corey Clemetsen said budgeting for traveling is crucial so that a trip is organized enough such that money is not a worry. He stresses that finding a balance when planning ahead is key.

“You never want to go somewhere and be so organized that you have no fun but you also don’t want to be so relaxed that you don’t have any fun because all you’re doing is stressing out over money,” Clemetsen said.

Though Clemetsen said the importance of budgeting goes beyond traveling or even how to manage money in the summertime. He said budgeting is a great way to understand one’s own finances well enough to know how much they need to work and save.

“I have to see it in person to be able to consistently do whatever it is that I do,” Clemetsen said. “I like to make lists or sticky notes or Excel sheets or whatever it may be. For my budget, I have multiple Excel sheets, one of them being my overall budget for the year and I go all the way through the year, looking at everything like rent and credit card bills so that I can look at my money for the year and split it down into months and split it down into how much I need to pay out weekly so that I can go ahead and justify how much I need to work.”

According to Clemetsen, planning finances out as much as possible lets one determine how much they need to work or save to be able to not only secure themselves but also to have a good time. He said many students may find that traveling is not reasonably within their summer budgets, but there are ways to work with one’s finances to still have fun locally. Clemetsen said doing research on what there is to do locally that’s fun and free or affordable can ensure that while someone is spending their summer working, they don’t feel like they’re miserable and not able to have a good time here in Flagstaff or wherever they may be.

Houston suggests students consider working more hours over summer since they typically have more time than throughout the semester. Though Clemetsen said that since everyone is different, finding how much one should work comes with trial and error.

“You know yourself, you know your boundaries,” Clemetsen said. “So it you’re going to work a job or multiple jobs, maybe one week push yourself to work a ton and then maybe the next week, work as little as you can so you can see maybe you do need to work less but work at a higher paying job or maybe you are OK to work 60 hours a week and you don’t get tired out but maybe you’ll do that three times a month instead of all four.”

Tony Silva, the assistant general manager at Drury Inn and Suites Flagstaff said that working over summer can do students more good than just saving up money for college expenses or trips. He said that employers like himself tend to like it when student employees are willing to work over the summer and that this added experience is worth a lot to students. He said that working over summer can be balanced with fun and can even allow for student workers to have more fun since they are making money.w

“Find a good, comfortable work environment where they can work enough to where they can afford to do little summer trips because you don’t get to do many of those throughout the school year,” Silva said.

Silva also said that budgeting is the best way to find that crucial balance of work and fun.

“Knowing how much you have to work and knowing how much you have to spend and creating a spreadsheet of where you can spend your money is a great way to just know how much you’re getting paid and know how much you’re spending,” Silva said. “It’s just about knowing how much I get to spend and not going over that, so self-discipline is a big thing.”

Clemetsen said budgeting involves being very realistic and honest with oneself and being willing to understand and act accordingly with what one can actually afford.

“Budgeting takes time, budgeting takes motivation and budgeting takes dedication, which is difficult and is something I’m still working on, I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me,” Clemetsen said. “No one is perfect, there is no way to do it right. I think it just really helps to remember why you’re doing it.”

Clemetsen said that budgeting should always strive to make oneself happy, which is why it is a matter of balancing wants and needs. He said remembering that budgeting is helping to achieve something one wants in the long run or even helping achieve something small one wants soon, can help maintain the discipline needed for this planned, balanced frugality.

“Whatever you do, you need to make yourself happy and so sometimes you need to work a little bit extra to save up that money or maybe you need to spend more time off because you’ve been working too much,” Clemetsen said. “I think my biggest thing is to think about what you want to do, figure out what works best for you and plan how to do that and stick to it.”

He said budgeting isn’t forcing oneself to spend nothing. He said it’s about understanding the money one has and distributing it appropriately.

According to Clemetsen, budgeting should be in conformity with happiness and a means to achieve more happiness.