College Connect: Wants versus needs; a lesson learned

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lindseywisniewskiBy Lindsey Wisniewski

For as long as I can remember, my parents warned me about the dangers of money.

Before I was of legal age to obtain credit, my mom and dad, who were divorced since I was 12, had a combined four bankruptcies between the two of them. In other words, they didn’t know how to handle money properly.

So when I was finally able to obtain employment, my parents cut me off. No, I wasn’t paying for my own rent or groceries at the time, but my parents taught me that if I wanted something bad enough, I had to earn it myself. And that meant all of the wants in life.

At 16, I got a job at a local Italian restaurant, starting as a busser and working my way up to waitress. If I wanted to go to a concert or get new clothes, things that typical teenagers take for granted, I had to pay for it and not everything came easy.

I didn’t wear the trendiest clothes, I bought my own prom dress, and my car was a 1997 Geo Prizm with broken air conditioner controls that could only be adjusted by use of a screwdriver. But what I walked away with from my experiences was something far more beneficial— an understanding of the value of money and accessing what is a want versus what is a need.

Luckily for me, the debt snowball effect from my parents did not roll onto me.

If I could give anyone a piece of advice, young or old, college student or a newly married couple, it’s know your ‘wants’ and needs and draw up a plan for how you can achieve both. For me, I always set aside money for the necessities, like groceries, rent and car insurance and take what is left and store 40 percent in savings. That gives you a little bit of money for things you want but also prepares you for any unforeseen circumstances that might arise.

Lindsey Wisniewski is a student at Arizona State University 

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