For as long as I can remember, I have always had a piggy bank. Throughout my childhood, I made sure to collect any loose change or dollar bills I found or earned, and then I’d store them in my tiny porcelain bank for when I wanted to buy something of my own. There were many things I wanted as a little girl, and because my parents had just enough to make ends meet, I soon realized that I needed to formulate a way to acquire and build up my funds. Because of this, the concept of saving money has always been important to me. As a young adult in my undergraduate career, I have been exposed to the overwhelming costs of tuition and just finding a way to live in general. Some days it can be disheartening not having enough to even eat at my school’s cafeteria, but whenever I face these types of encounters, I make sure to find a way to avoid them from happening again. Being a university student has caused me to become conscious of my spending habits and how to find an appropriate balance that has benefited my overall financial literacy.
The older I have got, the more I have learned that the key to saving efficiently is utilizing the method of putting your money aside in separate categories. For instance, just like a piggy bank, an actual bank can offer you the same security and benefits. Setting up a savings account for college is significant because it has allowed me to put away my money in a fund that is specifically made for emergencies. Another bonus I found that comes with having a savings account is that it has a limit on how much I can withdraw per month. This consequentially put a cap on any impulse spending I would suddenly get because it made me reflect on how dire the purchase I wanted was. And once I figured out that I could live without it, letting my money continue to save sounded like a smarter choice to me. Not to mention that I have earned money just by depositing it into my savings account too. Leaving money in a high-yield savings account will accrue interest that can be paid back to you. Certain banks have a set APY that can generally range between 0.4%-0.6%, and due to compounding interest, I have noticed that my money can increase just by leaving it alone. How cool is that?
The next way I learned to put my money aside wisely is by getting a credit card. It is crucial to start building credit as early as possible because your credit history will determine the amount of money you can borrow for future investments. The simplest advice that has helped me with my credit card is to use it in place for what I was planning to buy without it. Instead of offering my debit card or cash at the register, I would purchase with my credit card instead. I found this most effective because I could easily pay off the balance since I initially had the money for the purchase already. By doing this, I would get one step closer to raising my credit score to the praised 700 and above, as well as learn how to spend my money sensibly.
The last thing that has caused me to become financially responsible is creating a monthly budget. There are so many apps online that can help you plan when it comes to disbursing your money, but I’m old-fashioned and prefer writing my goals in a notebook. Finding alternatives to what I normally would do was the best way I started my budget. Instead of eating at restaurants or my school’s cafeteria, I got preservable groceries that would last me for multiple meals. To save gas, I went carpooling and utilized my campus’ free transportation service too. I also used the envelope method to keep track of my spending. I created a set amount of money for each expense and stuck it in an envelope, and when it was empty, I didn’t spend any more on that expense. This helped me a lot and having it all written down lets me go back to past budgets to see what worked and what didn’t work.
With these money management skills, I have grown fundamentally with my financial decisions. Though being mindful is one of the qualities that’s gotten me to this position, trusting myself was just as important.
I am in my junior year at UNT and will be majoring in Psychology with a minor in Business Marketing. I plan to utilize the Key Thinkers Scholarship to support my goals of advocating the importance of mental health and will obtain my Bachelor's degree. From there, I will go to graduate school to become a Psychologist.
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