University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
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Debt Management


Take charge of your finances and don’t spend your work-study paycheck all in one place. Believe me, living on $7.25 an hour is not an easy task, but it can be done IF you manage your money wisely.

Take time to follow the tips below, add a little of your own financial planning, and (Presto!) you will be able to stretch your funds, make ends meet, cliché, cliché, cliché.

  • Develop a budget and stick to it! Traditional rules claim that a student’s take-home pay should be broken up into the following percentages: 30% housing, 8% student loan repayment, 18% food, 8% credit card repayment, 8% clothing, 10% transportation, 4% medical and dental, 4% recreation, 5% savings, 5% miscellaneous.
  • Balance your checkbook. Your checking account will help you keep track of where your money is going.
  • Keep track of your ATM withdrawals. Because ATMs are so convenient (i.e. cash at the click of a button), it is easy to overspend.
  • Pay your bills on time. If you cannot afford to pay off your bill, make at least the minimum payment and avoid late charges.
  • Buy used books. Used books are usually cheaper. Just make sure that you buy the right edition!
  • Shop around. Take advantage of sales, but don’t buy products just because they are on sale. Buy only what you need.
  • Use credit cards wisely. Credit cards are loans in disguise on which you have to pay interest every month. Some credit card companies charge up to 23% interest, so save the credit cards for a real emergency.
  • Borrow only what you need. Borrow responsibly. You are expected to repay student loans, plus interest.

If you manage your money now, you won’t have to search through the couch cushions for loose change later.

The previous tips were adapted from

Last Reviewed: November 30, 2004