Growing up, my parents introduced me to the value of the dollar in numerous ways. As a child, I collected pecans around the neighborhood for a penny each, accomplished household chores for proportional allowance money, and was encouraged to save and spend my money wisely. Both my mother and father grew up in lower-income families, and this resulted in evident discipline in their budgeting skills. They helped me equate hard work with financial possibility, and thus taught me the value of a strong work ethic and the importance of prioritizing my financial needs over financial wants. I was allowed to shop for new clothes and additional wants only twice a year, and I learned to take care of my belongings, as immediate replacements of broken, lost or worn-out items were rarely an option.
I later understood that my parents’ desire to teach me money management skills stemmed not only from their own experiences, but also from a certainty in my future that indefinitely requires financial support. I was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, and I will need medical care for the rest of my life. I have undergone two open heart surgeries, a cardiac catheterization, and have extensive annual testing done to monitor my condition. I learned of the importance and burden of healthcare insurance, co-pays, special service fees well before most other young persons, and have always understood that financial stability will need to be a priority in my life.
When the time came for college, I learned that annual medical expenses of approximately $1,500 for the prior seventeen years had prevented my parents from being able to save money to support my higher education. Scholarships became my primary route of funding, and have supported me in pursuing my lengthy list of academic goals. As a student and person, I set high standards for myself; I covet prestigious opportunities and am continuously searching for beneficial learning experiences. These efforts require budgeting skills, and I have taken on that role with pride. Financial responsibility is a step toward personal growth and independence, both of which are valuable life lessons.
With the understanding that I see a combination of expensive educational goals and a need for medical financial security in my future, my college years will consist of focus on success in my area of study, and building a financial foundation. I opened a savings account when I turned eighteen, and ten percent of my monthly budget is deposited there. I plan to start a part-time job in Spring 2021 from which the income will pay for remaining semester costs and housing.
I have learned to tentatively plan my life around an estimation of my financial ability; it is unwise to enter a situation or path in life that one is unable to support. Over the next five years, I hope to complete a study abroad trip, earn my masters degree and transition from my parents’ health insurance plan to my own. Even farther down the road of life, I desire international travel opportunities and experiences, and I hope someday to start a family.
The foundations of a successful and stable financial future begin in the first years of college, and these are steps I have learned to take to improve my budgeting skills:
- Priorities: It is important to understand exactly what I need to be successful in school, and to accept that extra costs of new clothes, accessories, concerts or other activities must be eliminated occasionally.
- Savings: I attempt to save about ten percent each month, and if there is extra, it is also deposited to my savings account. This money could also be used if I found myself in an emergency; dramatic and sudden things happen in life, and for college students, the debt from a car accident or medical emergency can be detrimental.
- Receipts and Records: It helps me to keep a list of the money I spend, and to compare my spending across time to see its evolution. This practice helps me stay balanced, and I can more clearly see what my money is put to.
- Work: I believe every college student should have a job; there are plentiful opportunities for work on most campuses, and the experience will prepare a student for life after college. This also introduces students to an actual income and taxes, which introduces them to financial independence. Holding a job also teaches college students personal responsibility and time management.
I am majoring in Homeland Security, and minoring in Arabic Language, with hopes of entering the intelligence community as a career path. I hope to support America's armed forces, and aid in the mission to secure prosperity for the nation. This scholarship will help fund a study abroad trip to Morocco for an immersive language experience!
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