Maintaining your money boundaries


Moving out for college can be an amazing time to explore that freedom you never had at home, although not everyone can afford to. College can often leave you skimping by with what little income and resources you have. Students come to college to secure better future opportunities and gain new experiences. However, the balance between achieving your goals and the financial pressures of college is taxing. That’s where setting boundaries becomes really important.

Boundary setting is a decision you make to permit or prohibit certain behaviours in your relationships. It means you clearly outline rules and limits to what is acceptable behaviour in your relationships and what isn’t. We often set boundaries to make sure we meet our personal needs and accomplish our goals.

The goal of having boundaries is to improve our mental and physical health and sometimes that’s linked with financial security. To keep your peace of mind and access the services you need within your budget, maintaining your money boundaries with others becomes increasingly more important. So here are some recommendations for you to maintain your financial distance from others as a five-step action plan.

Navigator. Londons student lifestyles magazine.

1. Do some reflection

Identify your financial needs and goals. Financial needs may include what you need for daily living essentials like food, water, medicine, and hygiene. Schoolspecific essentials might be things like a laptop, writing utensils, notebooks, paper, and program specific materials.

Meanwhile, financial goals may include short term-goals and long-term goals. Short term goals might include paying for food, rent and hygiene, and lowering entertainment costs. Long-term goals might include paying off your debt and having some personal savings or investments.

“I think the best financial goals for a student are to familiarize themselves with all their expenses, all their potential revenues, and try to keep their debt as low as possible,” said Lynn Okanski, a Business-Finance and Professional Financial Services professor from Fanshawe College.

“Take control through your knowledge of your financial situation! Which areas do you have control of? Usually it’s a choice of housing, and entertainment costs. Set a budget and try to live within it. Think carefully before you commit to a lease. For entertainment, you might want to set aside an amount of cash each month. When it’s gone, stop spending.”

2. Identify your priorities

Once you have done some reflection you can set your priorities. What are your most important expenses? What aren’t super important expenses? As mentioned earlier, your rent, daily living essentials, and resources to complete your program are probably the most important and the costs of entertainment are less important. You don’t want to neglect what’s necessary so you might want to find ways to cut down on your spending using discounts from the college or from your workplace. Making a meal plan might help you control your food spending too.

How much do you need to save? Having a bit of savings or an emergency fund helps when a dire situation comes up, like if you’ve accidentally gone over your monthly budget or need to go back home for a family emergency. This is money you don’t want to realistically touch unless you have an emergency. Identify what is an emergency and be careful of dipping into your savings for frivolous spending.

It might be hard to follow your own priorities if you see others spending so often but remember that you don’t know the reality of those people’s situations like how much money they may be borrowing or if they are sacrificing future goals.

3. Always put your own needs first

Some of us tend to put other people’s needs above our own. Oftentimes it becomes a habit that distracts us from achieving our personal goals.

Just like saving money on gifts while you’re in college it might be wise to take care of your own needs and let other people in your life know that you can’t accommodate them while you have to take care of yourself. These people could be your roommates, your parents, your friends, or your partner.

“Often students in romantic relationships do not want to compromise any aspect of their shared lifestyle expenses, including entertainment, food, and their personal appearance and clothing,” said Okanski. “If you are in a romantic relationship, you should talk about money. What expenses do you agree to afford together? How will you divide the costs between you? It’s an important relationship skill to be able to discuss money.”

Okanski added that when it comes to roommates and parents, communication is key.

“The best solution is to sit down and talk openly about these issues.”

4. Discover your negative influences and set boundaries

There are several things that lead people to spend their money irresponsibly like FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and peer pressure. Having priorities and setting boundaries can help you overcome negative influences.

Ask yourself: What could come in the way of achieving my goals? Be honest. What do you feel guilty about doing with your money? Is it overspending on food, games, or events? Maybe you have too many subscriptions you don’t have the heart to get rid of. Do you want to save money for the future?

An underrated part of setting boundaries with your money is feeling comfortable with your spending. If there’s something you’re spending on that isn’t giving you too much value you should reconsider if you really need it.

5. Communicate your boundaries

If you don’t communicate your boundaries, you will struggle to enforce them. Tell your friends that you can’t go to that expensive restaurant or eat fast food this week or that you’d prefer to do an activity at home instead of driving and using fuel.