If you’re like me, college was the first time I really had to think about budgeting my own money. I suddenly started thinking things like “Do I really need that Chipotle?” and “I don’t need those shoes right now.” I was so use to having my mom hand me a $10 bill before walking out the door for Chipotle or always going shoe shopping with her that I never thought about what would happen when I had to do those things without her.Suddenly, I was thrown into the world of real adulthood and had to pay for the things I took for granted on my own. My mom still sends me money here and there, but I always feel bad asking for it. So, as soon as I got to campus freshman year, I applied for my first job. Later in the year, I applied for a second. I LOVED the feeling of earning money, having money and spending money that was all my own.
I worked hard all of freshman year and saved up as much as I could to last me through this past summer. I knew I would be participating in an unpaid internship, as well as performing in a musical, so I wouldn’t have any time to get a job. Whatever I saved up during the school year was it for the summer (with a little help from my mom). However, I thought I had saved so much money that I possibly couldn’t spend it three months. I was wrong.
I loved the feeling of spending my own money so much that I bought a few too many Broadway show tickets and went out to eat a little too much. By the end of the summer, I had about $30 to my name. It was one of the most terrifying and disappointing realizations for me. Terrifying, because I had to last two weeks into being in Boston before I would start getting paid once again and disappointing, because I couldn’t believe I put myself in a situation like that.
Right then, I vowed I would never do that to myself, and my bank account, again. So, I started to do the following:
1. I created a self-imposed minimum that I will never let my account go below, so I would always have money in case of emergency- or if I just really need that Chipotle.
2. I really thought about my purchases and how they would pay off in the long run.
Will I hate myself for eating Chipolte later?
3. I planned out purchases in advance.
Okay, I get paid on Friday. So that means if I really want to get Chipotle this week, I can just wait til after Friday when I have some more wiggle room in my account.
Unfortunately, I had to learn my money management lesson the hard way. I feel as though college is the perfect time to learn about money management, and I’m glad I learned when I did. So be smart and be aware of how much you are spending. You’ll be happy in the long run.