2013 Spokester Search: Taylor Ussery

Taylor is a 22-year-old from Houlton

Taylor's Situation

Hi, my name is Taylor Ussery and I’m 22 years old. I’m originally from California and I came to Maine for college. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with the state and the people, especially in the County! I graduated this month from the University of Maine at Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a minor in Professional Communication. I’ve always had a passion for going new places and meeting new people and I enjoy taking an active part in my community. I’m excited for the opportunities that the Young and Free Maine Spokester is presented with and I’m ready to take on the challenge! 

Taylor's Blog Post

As a college student, I learned a lot about managing my money. First, I learned why my parents would say no to handing over $20 for snacks and a movie ticket. Toward the end, however, I learned some even bigger lessons such as: you have to save money during college so that you can afford life (and to pay back loans) after college and pay days are awesome, but you probably shouldn’t spend every cent. Here are the top three things I learned about managing money while being a college student:

1. Exercise Self-control.
The number one thing you want to do when you leave your parent’s house is everything they wouldn’t let you do! More often than not, those things cost money. That’s eating out money, hanging out money, junk food money, etc. Unfortunately, we can’t be both smart with our money, and have everything we want.

How I do it: I encourage myself to be responsible by using rewards. If I can keep from doing any frivolous spending for a month, then I get to have my eye brows done ($5 plus a tip). If I can keep from spending frivolously for 3 or more months, then I get to add a little something to my wardrobe ($50 or less). 

2. Set SMART goals. 
S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable, R-realistic, T-timely. 

You have to have goals for your money. Otherwise, you’ll watch it all go but won’t know where it went. For example, the goals I wrote about under “Self-control”—

S: I set up “If …, then…” statements.
M: I have a list of what would be frivolous to spend on.
A: ask yourself.
R: ask yourself.
T: 1 month or 3+ months

This system also works for bigger goals such as saving for a vacation and non-monetary goals such as fitness or improving academic work or time management.

3. Keep an Emergency Fund.
I learned this the hard way. One semester I was in the ER three different times. So, I started receiving and having to pay my first ever medical bills to the tune of about $500. I was also paying damages for a car accident – another $600. And one of my grants was taken away because I was no longer living on campus – add another $300. You can bet I will never again be caught without an emergency fund!

How I do it: I keep a separate account for my emergency funds, not just a savings. It’s a completely different banking institution and completely separate debit card. I always keep a minimum of $100 in the account, only use it when completely necessary, and always replenish it ASAP. 

It is often said that experience is the best teacher. I strongly agree, however, experience is definitely not the most cost efficient teacher! Take it from someone who had to come up with more than $1000 in less than three months: control your spending impulses, set goals for your money and always have a back-up plan!