By Kara Carlson

When you’re sixteen years old, getting your license finally means freedom. For me, as student involved in several extracurriculars and two sports it meant that my long days at least began and ended with me behind the wheel. Even if that meant carting myself off to games up to an hour away I loved every minute of my new found independence.

But then gas prices steeply began to increase, starting around $3 and climbing to the upper $4 to lower $5 range for much of my first few years of driving. Growing up in California, meant strict under-18 driving laws and less than efficient public transport over longer distances, so my car still remained my main option. I very quickly had to learn I needed to efficiently budget and track my bank account. Watching the numbers on the gas pump rise up to $40 or $50 dollars each fill turned into a calculation and comparison to what was in my bank account.

Now, living on my own, I’m extremely thankful that I learned very basic real world budgeting on a smaller, easier scale. It’s one thing to be taught it in school or watch other people do it, but having to do this every few weeks, just focusing on gas and small purchases made it an easy concept to learn while still under the safety net of living under my parents roof. It’s second nature now to just mentally budget after putting money in the bank, or buying something. It also taught me to always keep a set amount in my bank account so I don’t accidentally overdraw, and not be one of the many people I see “swipe and pray” every time they purchase something.

Kara Carlson is a student at Arizona State University.