by Daniel Potter, Guest Contributor

If you’re anything like me, Fall Break is one of the best times of the school year. I’ve finally shaken off the rust from summer and settled into a rhythm. You may also have thrown your financial planning to the side for extra late night coffees and different stress-relievers after conquering each midterm beast – guilty as charged. I love Fall Break because it is a nice chance to catch my breath and to regroup. I can see which habits – academic, personal, or financial – worked or didn’t work and make plans to try things a little differently. New Year’s Resolutions are too cliché and often fail. So, why not try to break in new habits at the midpoint of the year. Here are two of my annual Fall Break Resolutions, aimed at making the second half of this semester run more smoothly than the first:

 

1. Make a realistic financial budget…a real one, this time.

With all the craziness of starting a new school year, I’m often too frazzled to budget well. Classes want assignments done before scholarship money is available to purchase the books needed for those assignments. My financial practice at the first part of the semester most resembles weird spurts of Supermarket Sweep: I run frantically through Amazon searching for the perfect items to win the prize – my sanity. Fall Break is the perfect time in the semester to look back over what has transpired and find a more balanced budget moving forward. By this point in the semester, I have a feel for what I actually need to spend on food, toiletries, clothes, gas, rent, and utilities. And, if I used my debit card, I have a free record of all of those expenditures. It’s important to look back at the total expenditures to project them forward in setting more realistic goals for the end of the semester. Do so with the knowledge that books won’t be purchased again until January, but that Christmas comes between now and then. A revamped budget saves a headache now and later.
2. Make a realistic time budget. (Some might call it a schedule)

How much time should one spend writing their daily reading reports for Church History? What can one do in the lull between the end of community lunch and the start of that 2pm class? Do I have time for a job to decrease my loans? I won’t tell you how to budget your time. I’m simply saying that it is important to find out where the leaks in your weekly time budget might be. Treating Div School like a 40 hour a week job has worked well for me. If I can spend 40 hours over the course of a week getting work done, I’ll have no problem being at or ahead of schedule. This is also a great way to ensure that self-care time is actually a thing and that I can make a living wage.