Blog | Thrive | Wake Forest University

Creating and Using a Budget

Thrive Financial Wellbeing Blog Post 10/08/2015 | -Tom Benza

Creating and using a budget is a valuable tool for all members of the Wake Forest community.  Budgets are not just for those who need to closely monitor their cash because money is tight.  Take this simple 5 question quiz to test your budgeting IQ.


What is your budgeting IQ?

  • What is the first step you need to take to create a budget?
  1. Track your spending
  2. Contact your bank
  3. Set money aside for going out
  • What budget-killer can pose the greatest threat to your wallet?
  1. Gourmet coffee drinks
  2. Borrowing money to pay for college
  3. Spending without a plan
  • What’s a smart way to save money on food
  1. Eat less
  2. Choose high calorie, less-expensive options, like pizza, fast food, candy, etc.
  3. Pack your own snacks rather than buying them from vending machines
  • How is a need most different from a want
  1. Cost
  2. Importance
  3. Priority
  • What’s an essential first step to creating a spending plan?
  1. Make adjustments
  2. Identify income
  3. Pay major bills fills


  1. A: Figuring out where all your money goes is the first step in creating a budget. You do this by tracking every dollar you spend for one month.
  2. C: As the saying goes, it’s not how much money you have, but how—and how much—you spend.
  3. C: Why pay $5-6 for a latte and muffin when you can bring your own coffee and snack for a fraction of the cost? Stock up on items at the supermarket and pack your own before hitting campus. And while you’re at it, try substituting healthier alternatives—such as peanut butter, whole-grain crackers, and juice—for empty-calorie options.
  4. C: The biggest difference between wants and needs is the priority you give them in your budget. Food and shelter are essential to living, and the cost of paying for them takes priority over anything that’s nice to have but isn’t essential.
  5. B: The first step to creating a successful spending plan is having an accurate sense of your available income. Then you can identify your expenses and compare the two.


Creating a budget to break down and understand your spending habits can be very satisfying.  By laying all expenses ‘on the table,’ you can remove a large weight off your mind and shoulders.  Wake Forest utilizes CashCourse—a free, online financial education resource designed specifically for college and university students.  CashCourse equips students with information that helps make informed financial decisions, from orientation to graduation and life after college.  All members of the Wake Forest community—students, faculty, and staff—can create an account at and gain access to articles with financial tips, budget wizards with customizable templates, financial calculators, featured videos on money management, and an ‘ask the experts’ section.  Take advantage of this free, self-paced online resource today!


Arrive and Thrive Celebration

“The first day of class literally and figuratively sets the tone for the year to come,” “We’re connecting this community celebration to this day to ensure that all of our students, faculty, and staff are reminded from the start that Wake Forest is invested in every aspect of their lives.”  –Malika Roman Isler, Director of Wellbeing  Read More >>

Meet Malika

The University’s first director of wellbeing wants to create opportunities for students to make changes.

From the time Malika Roman Isler (’99) was 5 years old — when she marched for better health care access — to her time as a researcher and medical school teacher, she seemed destined to become the first director of wellbeing at Wake Forest.

Although she was a skilled high school athlete, she wants today’s students to embrace wellness as more than physical fitness and good nutrition.

 “It’s consistent with our institutional mission,” she said. “From the liberal arts perspective of educating the whole person, wellbeing is very much in line with that.”

Malika Roman Isler directs the University’s new Thrive initiative, bringing together existing programs and services and developing new ones to address eight areas of wellbeing: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. But don’t expect her to reveal the secret to wellness. “We want to shift the message about wellbeing from ‘You need to do this,’ to ‘How can we create the space and opportunities for you to make changes?’ ” – See more at: Wake Forest Magazine, Meet Malika by Kerry M. King (’85):

THRIVE Dimension Champions



The Office of Wellbeing has the privilege of leading Thrive, our comprehensive approach to wellbeing, but the foundation for this initiative is deeply rooted in the scholarship and actions of faculty and staff across this campus.  They are the living examples of meaningful, purposeful lives that make the Wake Forest experience.ChampsCollage

Please join us in congratulating our first eight Dimension Champions!
-Malika Roman Isler


Laura Giovanelli – Occupational Wellbeing

GiovanelliLaura Giovanelli is one of WFU’s newest faculty members and already a beloved professor in the English department. Though new to the faculty circle, other faculty look to her for advice, value her collaboration with faculty across departments, and respect her search for opportunities for professional development to improve her course design and student learning.  Dr. Giovanelli is described as “concerned and conscientious when it comes to students” and a “thriving member of our campus community, and a model for others.”

Dawn Cadd – Financial Wellbeing

DawnDawn Cadd, who works in Procurement Services as a Procurement Card Administrator, is known for her reassuring, optimistic, and confident attitude in the most stressful of times. Her exceptional knowledge of financial policies combined with her personal and professional accessibility are truly appreciated by her peers. As one staff member elaborated, “[H]er amazing flexibility in ensuring staff have access to fiscal management resources allows each department to meet their operational goals while maintaining the financial integrity of the university.” Her warmth and patience as a PCard trainer combined with her knowledge as a consistent and willing resource make her an exceptional example as the Dimension Champion for financial wellbeing.

Cherise James – Social Wellbeing

CheriseCherise James is the Assistant Director of Residence Life & Housing, but she also plays a pivotal role in the lives of her peers by providing a source of social support in the workplace. Cherise possesses a unique ability to create a sense of community and facilitate supportive relationships by initiating fun, and providing inclusive opportunities for colleagues from across campus to gather and share their experiences and learn from one another. “Once per month, Cherise organizes a ‘High Five Lunch’,” a colleague explains, “a time when colleagues from across the division can come together to support each other, provide feedback and resources, and grow in our field. I find myself looking forward to these lunches for weeks in advance.”

Mike Ford – Spiritual Wellbeing


Mike Ford is the Associate Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and is best known around campus for his leadership to peers and students alike. Mike consistently goes beyond the call of his professional duty and serves as a mentor to students, faculty, and staff who need motivation, guidance, or direction. As many of his colleagues can attest, he is truly dedicated to the “Pro Humanitate” motto and embodies spiritual wellbeing in his dedication to the values of meaning and purpose inside and outside of the workplace. As one colleague described, “I have had the benefit of watching Mike inspire and challenge others to live out their core values not just through words, but by giving of himself for his fellow man and living a life of meaning and purpose on a daily basis, and I believe it is his soul’s desire to see others flourish and grow to the point that they will live out their own lives with grace and peace.”

Erica Still – Intellectual Wellbeing


Dr. Erica Still is an Associate Professor in WFU’s English department and the 2015 Dimension Champion for intellectual wellbeing. Though much of her career is dedicated to teaching the undergraduate population, Dr. Still is still committed to her own intellectual pursuits and inspires her peers to make learning a continuous and challenging journey. Beyond the classroom, she is involved in a variety of faculty clubs and learning communities outside of her specialization and is recognized for her enthusiastic support of her peers. She is described as “very engaged in both giving and receiving ideas with faculty across all ranks” and, as one faculty member noted, “her approachability, empathy, and experience is empowering, refreshing, and inspiring.”

Louis Gusbar – Physical Wellbeing


Louis Gusbar is the Assistant Director of Graduate Student Academic Services in the business school and March’s physical wellbeing Dimension Champion. Louis is a prime example of what it means to make time for physical wellbeing; from designating time during the workday for physical activity to bringing nutritious lunches to work, Louis actively demonstrates his commitment to physical wellbeing and motivates his peers through his dedication and willingness to share his insights. One staff member describes him as a “a very effective contributor in the office” and says that, “seeing him leave Farrell Hall and walk to the Miller Center almost every afternoon is a great reminder and motivator to me.”

Ulrike Weithaus – Emotional Wellbeing

Ulrike (1)Dr. Ulrike Weithaus is one of WFU’s most dedicated and innovative faculty members, and April’s Dimension Champion for emotional wellbeing. Dr. Weithaus is a professor in the Department of Religion and American Ethnic Studies Program, while also serving as the Faculty Fellow in the Teaching and Learning Center and inspiring her peers to embrace the value of contemplative practices inside and outside of the classroom. She consistently “promotes emotional wellbeing and connectedness between people” and demonstrates an intrinsic desire to help individuals “build emotional capacity and resilience.” Her passion for wellbeing motivates her students and colleagues to pursue their desires, but it is her open-mindedness and authentic spirit that make the WFU community eager to approach their personal and professional journeys with a fresh and fearless perspective.

DeeDe Pinckney – Environmental Wellbeing


As the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communication in the Office of Professional and Career Development, DeeDe Pinckney goes the extra mile to serve as a bright and positive presence and creates a healthy, welcoming environment. She helps students, faculty, and staff alike feel at ease when they enter the OPCD and is “one of the first people in OPCD that will make you smile,” despite her busy schedule and workload. DeeDe is a wonderful example of an individual whose presence sets a warm and encouraging tone, and creates an environment for others to relax and renew, which is why she is April’s Dimension Champion for environmental wellbeing.



Making Your Place a Better Place

Guest blog written by the Office of Sustainability


imagesOn the first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest environmental degradation. Oil spills, air pollution, unregulated dumping, and pesticide use were all on the agenda. Universities led the way with teach-ins from coast-to-coast.
These protests paved the way for bi-partisan action: the Clean Air, Clean Water, Marine Mammal Protection, and Endangered Species Acts were all enacted in the three years that followed. We can scarcely imagine that these laws were put into place less than 50 years ago. Clean air and clean water are now considered rights by most Americans.
Conceptions of environmental wellbeing still invoke expectations of a clean environment – clear skies, clean water, and clean landscapes. In our campus communities, environmental wellbeing takes on a more nuanced meaning. The “environment” is our place – our campus lands, our residence halls, our classrooms, our eateries, our social and gathering spaces, and the places we go to relax, recharge, and restore our senses. Our expectations range from green grass, healthy trees, and clean creeks to naturally lit indoor spaces, clean indoor air, and furnishings and finishes that are free from toxins.
enviroAt Wake Forest, our outdoor spaces are landscaped to provide a seamless reflection on wellbeing. Whether on the quad under the historic Magnolia trees, on the South campus in a stunning hydrangea garden, or on the pathway alongside Winston Hall where a stormwater collection area has been transformed into a bustling butterfly garden, the beauty of the campus captures our senses and invites us to breathe deeply.
We have codified our obligations to care for our trees through our Tree Campus USA designation. Student commitment to Keeping the Forest Green runs deep and is exemplified by their efforts during our annual Arbor Day campus beautification service project. The student-run organic garden on Polo Road provides its numerous weekly volunteers the opportunity to get dirty and leave their stresses behind. This (re)connection to their food supply reminds visitors of the interconnections between healthy places, minds, and bodies.
Also among the campus’ remarkable resources are Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda House, both just a2015_image_whitebackground few minutes’ walk from the campus core along a serene wooded pathway. These historic treasures offer an opportunity for reflection and a source for creativity. Few things are as inspiring as time spent in the company of a world-class art collection.
Together we create a place with opportunities to work, play, rest, and recharge. Once a year, on Earth Day, we come together to celebrate this place and our place in it. Please join us on April 22 for the 45th Earth Day. We will be out on the Mag Quad ready to educate and celebrate. Take a few minutes to come out and appreciate how far we have come since 1970 and commit to making your place a better place, for all of humanity. One Love.

Are You in Motion?

Guest blog written by Campus Recreation.

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. The law continues to say that if an object is in motion it tends to stay in motion without ever turning or changing its speed.  This applies directly to the world of physical fitness.  It is true that those at rest will stay at rest and those in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.  So, where are you this day?  Are you at rest or are you in motion?  Such will be our story unless we are acted upon by some outside force.  The outside force will either get us moving from that state of habitual rest or the outside force will stop our regular motion bringing all positive physical momentum to a halt. Again, in what state are you in?  Are you at rest or are you in motion?

downloadWith Thrive’s Dimensions By the Month campaign highlighting Physical Wellbeing in March, Newton’s First Law of Motion is extremely relevant. It is appropriate in that each community member has the opportunity once again to choose which state that he or she will pursue.  Will it be physical inactivity or will it be one which consistently puts one movement in front of the other? Though each is an individual choice, what we decide individually will also affect us collectively. In other words, a campus at rest will stay at rest and a campus in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Continue reading »

Parent’s Only: March

This month in our Parent’s Only blog, we are giving you tips, tools and resources for your child’s Physical and Intellectual Wellbeing. This month, we and our campus partners are hosting a variety of events on campus that support these dimensions. During midterms, we hosted free 10 minute massages in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library to relieve some of the physical tension from studying. We also had a table in the ZSR with study tools and healthy snacks for your students. Post Spring Break, we will be offering opportunities for students to offer Professor Appreciation, renew their energy during Wake ‘n Shake, and engage in physical fitness as a part of Springfest. Continue reading »

Are You Intellectually Curious?

Guest blog written by Learning Assistance Center and Disability Services

Brain-FitnessAre you intellectually curious?

Do your studies relate to something you are passionate about or a higher purpose that you believe in?

Are you hobbled by procrastination?
Ken Bain explores these issues in his 2012 book “What the Best College Students Do.” He integrates “academic research on learning and motivation with insights drawn from interviews with people who have won Nobel Prizes, Emmys, fame, or the admiration of people in their field.”

“Intrinsically motivated by their own sense of purpose, they were not demoralized by failure nor overly impressed with conventional notions of success. These movers and shakers didn’t achieve success by making success their goal. For them, it was a byproduct of following their intellectual curiosity, solving useful problems, and taking risks in order to learn and grow.” Continue reading »

Healthy Romantic Relationship Expectations

Guest blog written by the Safe Office

Relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and romantic partners are often an integral part of our lifeRelationship experiences. While healthy relationships support life satisfaction and overall wellbeing, unhealthy relationships can be pervasive and negatively affect general health as well as a person’s school, work, and personal life.

We develop a sense of what we want in relationships through watching friends and family, what we see in the media, and our own experiences. These needs and wants change throughout our lives as we grow and learn about ourselves and others. Developing realistic expectations is important to maintaining healthy relationships with people about whom we care. Below are some tips for cultivating healthy romantic relationship expectations: Continue reading »

Parents Only: February

As parents, we know that your child’s wellbeing is of the utmost importance and we want you to know that it’s important to us too! That’s why Thrive is bringing you monthly Parent’s Only blogs on how you can support your child’s wellbeing at Wake Forest. Each month we’ll post Parent Wellbeing tips, tools, and resources, both local and national. We hope that you leave a comment with issues or resources you’d like to see covered or what you liked about the blog!

college-student_choosing-majorAs your student begins the spring semester, there are a multitude of questions going through their minds: How do I find time to take care of myself? Have I found the right support network?  How do I effectively manage my stress?  How do I find the right career path for me? Each month, through Thrive’s Dimensions by the Month Campaign, we are sharing resources and offering workshops that may help your student explore answers to these questions. Since wellbeing involves so many parts of life, we’re working closely with partners throughout the Wake Forest community and Winston-Salem to support your student’s journey of wellbeing. Continue reading »