College Connect: A tale as old as time: where does your paycheck go?

Posted By David Wilhite


By Veronica Graff

Laundry detergent: $11.93, fabric softener: $9.94, dryer sheets: $8.94, stain remover: $9.99, total: $40.80. Karen from Target looks up—slightly irritated that it’s 11:34 p.m. and she’s still on the clock—and asks if it’ll be credit or debit — can I pay in smiles I think to myself, maybe that will brighten her day.

I really don’t want to have to type out my grocery receipts too to make my point, but you can probably imagine they’re a bit more. These things like food and cleaning supplies and laundry and water—these trivial, trivial things, they all cost something. Not just something, an arm and a leg I’d like to argue even for someone who makes well above minimum wage hourly. The best part is I don’t really have a choice because if I don’t buy food then the clothes I actually want to spend my money on won’t really have a use.

Now those are just the necessary expenses I have after the other frivolous things I am obligated to pay like rent and utility bills. Total all my costs and my discretionary income, the money I can use to have fun, is a dismal sum compared to the cash I was rolling in when my paycheck first came in. Every time I write a check, I pay a bill, it’s like I’m putting another nail in the coffin my social life remains trapped in. Cue the worlds tiniest violin. Did I mention my parking garage charges 90 bucks a month? Cue the violin.

I get it, I’m exaggerating but maybe this will help you realize that even the most basic things add up and while those Starbucks mochas may be essential to your daily survival, they also cost you four dollars every day, which quickly adds to $120 a month, and now you realize you have a separate expense on your balance sheet labeled: “my pathetic coffee addiction.”

Now all sarcasm aside, I cannot stress how crucial budgeting is and visually seeing where your money is going so you can catch any unnecessary spending and perhaps even open up a savings account or like actually be able to afford your morning coffee. The smarter you are with your money, the more you realize how you can stretch your dollar. Quickly I realized that if I wanted to make my money go anywhere with a mediocre paying job, I had to make sure that I was getting the absolute best bang for my buck.

Ever seen Extreme Couponing? Kidding, you don’t have to go that far with it, but when you are aware of the value of a dollar you learn to appreciate it. I remember when I was a kid and every time my brother bought a soft drink or a candy bar, my dad would look at him with pure disapproval and my brother’s reply would be, “it’s only five bucks!” but my dad would be quick to retort, “five dollars is a lot of money!”

Let me tell you how much I wish I had an extra five bucks every week.

Veronica Graff is a student at Arizona State University.

SABEW - Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
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