Budgeting in the bayou and beyond

By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
Trice Edney New Wire

Early in life, I was taught the importance of saving by a man named Jesse Hill from Atlanta, Georgia. His is a piece of advice I’ve appreciated all my life. No matter how little money I made at times, I set aside a few dollars regularly. In these days of uncertainty saving seems to be more important than ever.
Being a daughter of Louisiana, I often read about what’s going on in my state. I came across the advice of a student who talked about how she saves. She explained how saving impacts college students in reducing debt. I found that her advice is good for all of us no matter where we are and in what stage of life. She interns for a program called Louisiana Saves which is affiliated with America Saves.

In her college classes, students study saving, wealth building and debt reduction. That hit a positive note with me because I’ve heard so many horror stories about students having to borrow money for their education and the massive debts owed by the time they graduate. Many spend years paying off the debt, while trying to become independent and start their own lives, paying their own bills. Many of her fellow students joined Louisiana Saves where they learn to save.
Once joining this saving plan there are life-changing experiences. Students then have access to daily tweets about finances, taxes tips, savings and staying out of debt. Their success doesn’t rely on a requirement to save large amounts of money, but on consistency.

In the National Congress of Black Women, we have a program called College for Kids and many of our chapters around the country teach young children financial literacy by having bankers come in to teach them. It’s often the most exciting part of the program for many. They often teach their parents what they learn in College for Kids. I’ve never seen a more excited group of children than when they’re taught the concept of compounding!
It’s important to learn saving and managing money at an early age so that we stay out of debt and build our wealth. Take a look at some of the savings tips the student offered.
Buy used textbooks or rent them.
Save money on your new laptop by checking for discounts and tax-free days before you buy your next computer.
Watch it with credit cards; use them as little as possible, but when you do, pay them off quickly.
Be sure to get your application for scholarships in on time.
Limit eating out. The costs add up quickly.
Choose housing carefully. It’s usually less expensive to live in the dorms.
Stay focused on classes so you don’t have to extend your time in college.

Use campus amenities like movies and exercise places; they’re less costly.
Get a coffee maker instead of paying high prices for a cup.
Buy nonperishable items in bulk.
Monitor cell phone usage so you don’t go over your monthly usage.
Forego a car. Paying for parking, gas, repairs and insurance can add up a lot.
Start paying off interest while still in school.
Visit a local bank to inquire about lower fees and no minimum balance or ATM charges. Avoid overdrafts.
Check labels and buy clothes that can be machine washed to avoid costly dry-cleaning bills.
Say goodbye to cable. There are tons of shows online for free.
Shop wisely. Ask for student discounts wherever you go.

There are many more ways to save and pay off debt. For more information on this important subject, contact Dr. Suzanne Mayo at drsuzannemayo@gmail.com. I did.

Dr.E. Faye Williams is National President of the National Congress of Black Women. 202/678-6788. www.nationalcongressbw.org.