On January 1st of this year, I made a New Years resolution to become more financially organized. I never expected that five months later I’d be on a quest to become the 2011-2012 Young and Free Spokesperson for Maine, an opportunity which will allow me to help YOU, my peers, through the same journey that I’m currently on. The ironies of life, huh?
The past five years of college have taught me so much…and I’m not just talking about academics. I was faced with many decisions, and there were times that I made the right choice. There were also plenty of times that I messed up, and that’s the beauty of learning and growing as a person! During the majority of my college career I scoffed at the idea of saving or managing money. My argument was, “Why manage my money, when I have no money to manage?”. I wanted to wait until I graduated so that I could find a real job with a real paycheck and THEN I would start taking my money seriously. In hind site I now see how badly of a choice that was! This notion led to a habit of spending whatever money came in. I wasn’t foolishly squandering my money on useless items, but I was foolishly managing my money. This led a sense of powerlessness; the little money I DID have was controlling me. Instead, I should have been taking control and let my part-time earnings work FOR me instead of against me. I finally began to realize this about a year ago and by the New Year I knew it was time to put my finances into high gear. As a result, I now have what I call “cushion” money in a savings account (for emergencies!) and a budget materialized without me really trying. Once I did what I’m about to tell you, I realized that being more careful with my money actually helped me to have more it.
- I began to “pay” myself by putting a chunk of my earnings aside in a savings account (money I would have otherwise spent!).
- With a couple of pocket-sized notebooks, I started recording my earnings (helpful if you depend on tips for wages!). This allowed me to average out how much I made each month. This is what really helped form my budget. I also kept one in my car to record how much I spent on gas and car maintenance.
- Last, I started to balance my checkbook and was diligent about it. Debit transactions don’t always show up on online balances, so writing it down helped me to know where I was financially. As a result of this, I began keeping receipts and checking them online to make sure I wasn’t getting cheated because mistakes DO happen!
These might be simple solutions, but it’s something you can try if you feel like you’re at a point where you feel helpless or if you have spending habits that are leading you down a path of financial-destruction! Waiting to get a handle on your finances is something you DON’T want to do! I have more to share with you so STAY TUNED!
Until then, take control! And of course, OWN being young and ALWAYS stay free!