Budgeting Behaviors of Traditional-Aged Upper-Division College Students


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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to examine the budgeting behaviors of traditional-aged upper-division college students (juniors and seniors). Budgeting behaviors were operationally defined as students' spending and financial planning behaviors. These behaviors were studied by tracking participant expenditures and income of three weeks and administering electronic survey questions. The study was conducted at a large, public, research university, and was designed to answer the following research questions:

  1. How do traditional-aged upper-division students spend their money?
  2. What are the budgeting behaviors of traditional-aged upper-division students?>
  3. Are there differences in budgeting behaviors between traditional-aged upper-division students who live off campus and those who live on campus?
  4. Are there gender differences between budgeting behaviors of traditional-aged upper-division students? A sample of 32 college juniors and seniors who had moved directly from high school to college participated in the study. Participants tracked their expenses and income of a three-week period using computerized spreadsheets. These data were analyzed to determine participants' spending behaviors and to examine differences by gender and place of residence. Participants also responded to five electronic survey questions that investigated their budgeting behaviors. Responses from these questions were analyzed to identify themes about the budgeting behaviors of college juniors and seniors.

The results of this study provided some interesting information about college students' budgeting behaviors. Several conclusions were drawn. First, students failed to budget effectively because they spent more than they earned. Across all groups, students' expenditures totaled more than their income. Second, students' comments regarding their budgeting behaviors were found to reflect either good or poor ratings. This suggests that while some students seem to have well-developed financial management skills, others do not. Third, off-campus students differ from on-campus students because they have more budgeting experience. Off-campus students seemed to have developed these budgeting skills by paying monthly bills associated with off-campus living. Finally, female students spent money on clothes and beauty items, relied on gifts as sources of income, and seemed more anxious about budgeting than male students. These kinds of behaviors may reinforce certain stereotypical beliefs about men and women.



Personal Finance, Savings, Spending, Money Management