It's never too young to take control of your finances. Budgeting my money is something I have always taken seriously. I remember having to convince my mom I didn't need new jewelry to wear to every school dance. I wore the same jewelry from 7th-11th grade. Unlike most girls who look forward to all the glitz and glam, I wanted a simple, yet elegant, look. I didn't place as much value on having my nails, hair, and makeup professionally done. Instead, I took up free offers from family members such as my cousins who I didn't get to see often and were talented in these areas.
Although I come from a household with two working parents, we sometimes struggle to make ends meet. The last two years have taken the greatest toll on not only me but my family. The second semester of my junior year, my grandpa had a terrible fall off a truck that left him with a broke back, seven broke ribs, and a brain bleed. He gave us all a great scare, but pulled through and spent months living with us so we could care for him. Another unforeseen medical problem occurred last October. The doctors found a brain tumor on my father's pituitary gland, which called for another visit to UK Hospital. Though he had a battle, he made it through but was out of work for months. These unforeseen events have caused not only an emotional strain on my family but a financial one as well. With my father out of work, paying for his hospital bills and expenses, and aiding other family members with bills, our family has had a lot of financial trouble. Also, my dad has experienced several short-term lay offs. These laid-offs throw off our monthly income and create additional hardships.
I have strived to ease their load over the years. In high school, I was fortunate enough to take several dual credit courses. I knew these core requirement hours would lessen the amount I would need for college. At the end of my senior year of high school, I had acquired a total of 42 college hours. Also, I maintained a 3.96 GPA. Our school does a weighted ranking, and I was lucky enough to hold the 3rd rank of my senior class. I have worked hard and taken financial responsibility by applying for several scholarships.
I am sure my lifestyle and upbringing have played a huge role in molding my view of financial responsibility and my desire to pursue a finance degree. Budgeting, saving, and planning seem to come naturally to me. Therefore, it is no surprise that finances are important to me.
Now that I have started college, budgeting is more important than ever. As a college student, the first step is to separate my needs from my wants. It is essential always to prioritize those out. My parents provide me with a weekly allowance. I have to budget gas and eats out of that. I make sure that I access the cafeteria for lunch and dinner as much as possible. I feel it is vital to utilize that service seeing that the meal card counts for a considerable chunk of my college cost.
I focus on five simple steps to help me responsibly maintain my finances
Step 1: Create a budget sheet to track and log all your expenses. You can use a sheet of paper, composition book, or an electronic program such as an Excel spreadsheet.
Step 2: Log the total amount of income you have each week or month (depending on your income pay period).
Step 3: Next, distribute your income out into the following categories: savings, charitable contributions, investments, and bills. It is important to put 10%-20% of all earnings into saving first. This is helpful when those unexpected events happen.
Step 4: List all the bills and expenses with their payment dates.
Step 5: Subtract your total from the income you logged in the budget column. If you have money over, log this as your self-care fund, "do as you wish" fund or whatever title that suits you best. Just remember, don't overspend.
These steps can help others to develop good financial responsible habits. I long to learn more ways to help myself and others save and live a more financially responsible life. A life where we control our finances, our finances don't control us.
Madison is a sophomore at Eastern Kentucky University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Finance. She plans to use the scholarship towards her tuition.
Posted in: Scholarship