“…Gently Down the Stream”

So I was going to write an entry last night, but then Disney+ launched.

For anyone not paying attention, Disney+ is the new streaming service introduced by Disney to provide direct streaming service to consumers. This service, featuring Disney, Disney Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, ESPN, and other content (I’m talking about you, Bart Simpson), is a direct competitor to Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and Hulu. And last night we watched our first content from the service.

The service does come with a cost. You have to pay a monthly fee for the service which basically translates to about $7 a month. Not a large cost BUT it is worth it? Are you subscribing? Are you giving up your other streaming services to pay for this? Have you cut the cable cord and only rely now on streaming services?

Like me, I imagine you are living on a budget (at least I hope you are). Have you built a budget to look at your income and your expenses and make sure that you can really afford everything in your mandatory and discretionary expenses? I know that many of us might imagine that streaming services (or entertainment) is a “need”, not a “want”, but the reality (of course) is that entertainment should be reasonable part of your budget, not the entirety of your budget.

Life is just a stream, sweetheart

The difference between “needs” and “wants” is an important one to learn. What counts as a “need”? Clearly housing, food, clothing, and water are needs. The economic definition of “need” is something you need to survive.

What’s a “want”? This is something you desire to have, and you may or may not be able to afford. Wants may feel important, but they aren’t necessary to survive.

This becomes an important concept to understand not just while you are a student but also for the rest of your life. If you remember last time I wrote about COA (or Cost of Attendance). In the COA budget, you will have an amount for living expenses, food, books, as well as tuition, fees and other expenses. Your job as a student is to help manage the “wants” in your budget.

So, for example, when we build a COA budget in the financial aid office we use average expenses for a student. But you have a chance to work within that budget to save money.

For example, at one institution where I worked, we had lots of residence halls. Each type of room had a different expense. Needless to say, a single at the newest dorm was much more expensive than a quad in one of the oldest dorms. Our COA was build with an average room expense, but you as a student could save money by choosing the cheaper residence.

This works with many things: books, clothes, food, etc. Do you need to buy every textbook new? Could you purchase a used textbook (or rent one) and save money from the original budget? Do you find yourself eating out all of the time? What would it look like if you packed a meal for yourself?

Don’t forget to meet your basic needs (food, shelter, water, clothing) while you are a student, and it is not unreasonable during your time in school to have more expenses than income (that’s what financial aid is for), but if you are able to limit your “wants” and focus on your “needs” then the amount you will need to borrow to help pay for college will be limited, and you will be doing much better financially when you graduate.

So I guess Disney+ might be a want? If so, no worries… There are plenty of free ways to watch movies (anyone have a library card?)

More about budgeting next time, including the difference between direct and indirect costs.