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Seminar promotes SMART budgeting for students

As a part of Ohio University Southern’s Financial Literacy Week to get students on the fiscally responsible path, Ohio University Credit Union stopped by to give tips on SMART budgeting yesterday.

Jillian DeBrosse, member education and events specialist at OUCU, gave a special presentation on “The Importance of Budgeting and Wise Use of Credit” at the OU Proctorville Center.

“The mistakes you make today, can follow you for a while,” DeBrosse said, emphasizing the importance of beginning good credit history and budgeting while you are young.

SMART budgeting, DeBrosse said, is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

She gave tips on how to effectively create a budget by defining personal financial goals, tracking all expenses, differentiating wants vs. needs and keeping track of and organizing receipts and monthly bills.

Jillian DeBrosse, of the Ohio University Credit Union, addresses students during a seminar at the Ohio University Proctorville Center.

“Where does the money go?” DeBrosse said.

Keeping track of income and expenses requires creating a successful spending plan, she said. A spending plan should include a list of income from all sources, a list of expenses, a balance of income vs. expenses and a plan to put it all into action.

As most college students know, putting a budgeting plan into action is half the battle, but DeBrosse gave a helpful breakdown of different categories in an effective budget.

About 35 percent of the overall budget should be allotted to housing, she said.

This includes rent or mortgage and utility expenses. Fifteen percent should be allotted for both debt repayment and transportation costs, including car payments, gas and insurance. Ten percent should go towards a savings account and the remaining 25 percent to other expenses like groceries and clothing.

“Making saving a habit,” DeBrosse said. Building a cushion for emergencies and paying down debt can be very rewarding, she said. It frees up time for fun activities and decreases stress.

Monitoring credit history is also important, DeBrosse said. Late payments to credit card companies or loan holders can cause your credit score to drop 20-30 points. Building those points back up could take three months or more, she said.

Some other tips DeBrosse gave for SMART budgeting and credit health were:

Leave checkbooks and credit card at home to curb impulse or over spending.

Pay off debts with the highest interest rates first.

Try to pay more than the minimum payments for debts accruing interest.

Check one free credit report from the three major bureaus every four months to keep tabs on credit health and potential fraud.