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June 6, 2022
person looking at clothing in a store
Student Cowboy Coach Ciara Thompson shops at NU2U consignment thrift store.

Experts and students offer their best advice from budgeting to roommates. 

Money Matters

UniWyo Federal Credit Union is the University of Wyoming’s student financial wellness partner. As such, the bank offers financial workshops for students and partners on UW’s Financial Wellness page ( Vice President for Marketing Mindy Uitterdyk shares her five best budgeting tips here. 

  1. Know what a budget is: It’s your income (scholarships, financial aid, help from family, work income, etc.) minus your expenses.

  1. Track it—money in and money out. There are awesome apps you can use, and many banks have their own, such as UniWyo’s Money Manager app. Or you can use the spreadsheet on UW’s Financial Wellness page or old-fashioned pen and paper. However you track it, just make sure you do. Decide the time period for your budget, such as weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Write down everything that comes in and everything that goes out, from streaming channels to Starbucks.

  1. Define needs vs. wants. Needs include food, shelter and tuition. Wants are things like food out vs. using your meal plan or a new phone instead of your old one that still works. If you have the funds left over after all your needs, you can make a line-item in your budget for “fun money” for eating out, entertainment, etc. Also, a good rule of thumb is to save 10 percent of what you have coming in for unforeseen expenses, such as car repairs.

  1. Spend wisely. Don’t spend more than you have coming in, and look ahead at upcoming expenses. Be a savvy shopper, such as choosing store brand vs. name brand, buying used or finding freebies. Many UW events include free food, and UW offers food-share pantries for those in need, including the main one in Knight Hall 106. If you live on campus, make sure you’re utilizing your meal plan or downsize it. Don’t fall into credit card traps; they come with high interest. Also, watch out for other scams, and never give out your bank account information or passwords to third parties. In addition, be aware that student loans must be paid back with interest, so don’t accept more than you need.

  1. Learn from your mistakes, and ask for help if needed. If you get an overdraft or late fee charge, talk to your bank about it. You can also ask to meet with the bank’s financial counselor to help you with your budget or other financial questions. If you need additional funds for school, contact UW’s Scholarships and Financial Aid office, and also check out the many private scholarships offered by companies and organizations—many go un-awarded due to lack of applicants.

barista making coffee
Student Cowboy Coach Lona van der Linden makes coffee during her shift at the Boba Cafe, in downtown Laramie.

Get a Job

Many students choose to work part time during college. We asked our Cowboy Coaches about their student work and tips.

“The first job I had during college was at a restaurant where I was a server. It was beneficial because I was earning money to pay for college, and I got to meet some friends through work. However, I found that I struggled a lot with time management. Now, as a Cowboy Coach, I really enjoy how flexible the hours are and how fun the other co-workers are. I get to make connections to freshmen on campus and ensure that they have all of the resources they need to get through their first year away from home.” –Maddy Jenkins

“I have been a resident assistant, a Cowboy Coach, an office assistant and a research assistant with the McNair Scholars Program. What was beneficial is that I can spend money for myself but also to save and pay for essentials. However, it was difficult to have time for friends amongst doing school, work and time for myself.” –Alec Wallen

“Outside of being a resident assistant and a Cowboy Coach, I am a barista at the Human Bean. It was super beneficial to have a place to go where I could leave the rest of my life at the door. If you are used to time management, working on top of school is not a constant stress. There are days, however, where it all feels like too much. I think the way to combat this is to find an employer who understands and respects the fact that being a student comes first.” –Erin McDonald

Roommate and Peer Conflicts

Roommates can become your best friends, but roommate conflicts are also common. Dealing with conflicts can be good practice for life after college when you’ll have to navigate many personalities in the workplace. We asked our Cowboy Coaches for their tips on dealing with roommate conflict.

Create a plan. Before conflicts happen, talk to your roommate about how you both want to handle things that come up.

Don’t let things fester. If you have an issue, communicate it sooner rather than later in a kind and honest way.

two people standing back to back glaring at each other
Students Isabella Spicer and Julianna Pizzato learned to peacefully coexist while sharing a room in White Hall.

If you live on the residence halls, talk your resident adviser if you need assistance. Other resources include your Cowboy Coach and the ombudsperson office. You can also utilize the roommate contract.

Another conflict resolution resource is UW’s restorative justice program, which is aimed at identifying and addressing harms that occur on campus. “We are implementing community talking circles for building relationships and laying the groundwork for using concepts of restorative justice to address harms,” says Restorative Justice Program Manager Connor Novotny. “Eventually, we will be using restorative practices to attend to harms pertaining to criminal and conduct-related incidents.” 

What exactly does restorative justice entail? “From a restorative angle, we ask people to accept responsibility for their actions,” Novotny says. “Healing cannot take place without truth-telling. Second, we ask, ‘How is the conflict impacting us and also others?’ Finally, we must ask who has what responsibility to set things right. What meaningful action can take place to repair harm, and what steps is each member willing to take to get there? At the end of the day, conflict impacts us as relational beings. When working to repair harm, also consider what work can be done in the future to tend to your relationships.”

Students and groups interested in restorative justice can email You can also follow @RestorativeJusticeUwyo on Instagram to learn more.  

Navigating Off-Campus Housing

By Student Riley Box 

Studies show living on campus results in improved GPAs and retention rates. Living on campus also offers all the conveniences you might want, including eating at Washakie and being a small walk away from all the exciting UW events. In addition to residence halls, UW offers apartments. But, as an upperclassman, the thought of living off campus may seem appealing. Here are some tips to help you have the best college experience from a new point of view!

Laramie is a college town, which means that you will most likely find a place, but to be safe, I recommend following Marketplace and other Facebook pages to keep an eye out for listings. If you know you are going to go to school during the fall for example, look for leases in the summertime—there is much less competition.

In addition to determining your rent budget, consider additional expenses such as utilities (electric, water, gas, etc.) and internet. Also consider parking if you have a car and transportation to and from campus such as the commuter buses.

Think about roommates. Roommates can allow for better places at cheaper costs because utilities, rent and other living expenses can be split up among all parties. If you have roommates, make sure everyone is on the lease.

Always check out the place in person before signing a lease. Read the lease thoroughly, and make sure you’re comfortable with the conditions. Choose a length of time that fits for your living situation—most leases come in six- or 12-month increments. 

Once you find a place, how do you qualify? There are multiple ways! Landlords may ask for your income (how much money you are making), or they may ask for a co-signer who is responsible for the rent if you absolutely cannot swing it. Some apartments that cater to students may also accept an added security deposit or a few months of rent in advance as an alternative way to qualify.

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