We know that MBAs have a lot on their minds, but we don’t want financing to fall by the wayside. Whether you’re a first- or second-year, now is a great time to step back and assess your budget so you can take advantage of the opportunities awaiting you in second semester. Here are the four main spending buckets that successful MBAs are considering by the end of first semester to ensure strong financial health for the year.
1. Traveling the World
Spring is the time when many MBAs take advantage of their schools’ study abroad and experiential learning programs, and planning for those opportunities should soon be underway. As for any trip, whether a short off-site consulting project with a group or an extended period abroad, it makes sense to consider basic costs like transportation, housing, and dining. MBAs conducting international travel should also start researching expenditures such as currency exchanges, any required visas or immunizations, the cost of living within their new city or region, and airfare and other transit.
2. Landing that dream job
Make sure your job hunt is making financial sense for you. You never want budget problems to hold you back from an interview – or, on the flipside, put you on a ramen diet for the next few weeks. Consider the wardrobe range you’ll need in order to network with your target firms. The black suit you purchased for the banking interview may not be a great fit for the interview with the finance startup. Plan your spending for potential off-site interviews by finding out these companies’ travel reimbursement policies as early as possible. Frequent flier miles are also your friend, as is working with your career services adviser to become well versed in the expenses typically accrued by MBAs recruiting in your field.
3. Late-night and other perfectly acceptable personal spending
It can be a sobering experience, but reviewing your spending habits during the autumn term will be key to planning your spring budget. You may want to categorize your expenses across different buckets, such as academic and professional spending, networking events you needed to attend, “networking events” you may not have needed to attend, dining out, etc., and assess how comfortable you feel with your spending level in each category. Can you do it all again, factoring in different milestone MBA experiences between the fall and the spring, on your next loan disbursement?
4. Sourcing new funds
We know that given the cost of an MBA, many smart spenders will still find themselves strapped for cash when trying to reach their spring goals. It might make sense for some MBAs to review their financial aid packages in order to identify new areas for savings, be it a different balance of loans or new opportunities for scholarship funds.
Taking out new loans is a commitment that deserves careful consideration, and one that will affect the cost of everyday spending, but you might find that some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are worth it. While more applications may not seem like your cup of tea right now, we think you’ll thank yourself in a few months when you’re paying less in interest, attending all the right networking events, and trekking to every country on your bucket list.
Kaitlin Butler is Community Curator at CommonBond, a student lending platform that provides a better student loan experience through lower rates and a commitment to community.
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