Online shopping has been a favorite pastime of mine since I received my first debit card at 17. Little did I know that this small device could have so much power. With a few clicks and entering confidential information, I could access a world with everything I could imagine. Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and, more recently, Temu have become my virtual shopping playgrounds.
As a busy scholar, the convenience of purchasing online is perfect. Sites can even recommend products they assume I might need in the near future. Gone are the days of commuting to the store, standing in long lines, navigating large crowds, or being limited by the hours of operation. The process was a breeze from when I placed things inside my online cart to when they arrived at my doorstep.
However, while I had a lot of fun exploring with my new card, it introduced me to new challenges. It allowed impulse buying to enter the equation. The ease of throwing things into the cart and ordering overshadowed my ability to make responsible purchases. Unfortunately, this took a toll on my balance. Before I knew it, my total card funds were often closer to 0 faster than the entire online checkout process. I spent weeks waiting for my next paycheck, just to do it all over again. This way of handling my money was terrible. I quickly learned that with great power comes great responsibility. I needed to change my financial habits as soon as possible, especially as a person now trying to navigate the world independently.
Being responsible with money means making sure that I have a sufficient amount of school supplies before buying a new set of clothes. Or that the fridge is stocked with enough food before getting that shiny new game console.
Starting from that, I would tell students to please, please, pleeeease, prioritize your needs over your wants. I know that those new handbags you like perfectly match your shoes and would definitely turn some heads, but your tuition is due tomorrow! You also most likely are not living with your parents anymore (If you are, it’s still good to start doing this early!). Know what your exact needs are and make them a priority. Your family handles your needs at home, so most students don’t think about this much at first. Going off to school means your family won’t be able to provide you with the same level of support you once had.
My next guidance tip is to manage two simultaneously instead of having just one checking account. However, dedicate one to essential bills and the other to non-essential bills and wants. This way, budgeting becomes even more simplified since now you only have to track your expenses for the dedicated account. It also decreases the risk of overspending, which means rent will be paid on time, every time.
Lastly, try to use only cash for purchases. You can see the physical depletion of money as opposed to digital currency. It’s strange, but actively watching the money leave your hands and go to another is like breaking up with a loved one. Since the money leaves your hands, you are more likely to pause to see if the purchase is a genuine expense (Is the cute phone case genuinely worth it?). While this method is more uncommon and difficult to implement initially, I believe it can be the most effective if utilized correctly.
My name is Tariq Shabazz from Cleveland, OH, and I am majoring in Computer Science at Kent State University. After graduating, I plan on becoming a Game Developer and creating remarkable stories for people to enjoy worldwide.
Posted in: Scholarship