College Connect: When finances are the dinner conversation


By Stephanie Morse

I grew up in a family full of accountants. My parents both majored in accounting in college and most of my grandparents were also accountants. Therefore, money lessons were never in short supply as I was growing up. Words and phrases like “withholding,” “depreciation” and “F.I.C.A limit” often dominated dinner conversation after my sister and I talked about our school day. I also lost count of the number of times my parents explained the importance of saving money. I often joke that saving money is in my genes, because of this background. While at the time I may have rolled my eyes, as I grew up and entered college I began to truly value this advice. While my peers often learned money lessons on the spot or struggled to save, I suddenly felt fortunate to have already been taught so many important money lessons. I already knew the importance of saving money, how to do a tax return and the basics of online banking. When problems or questions did arise, my parents luckily were always a quick phone call away to lend a hand.

However, no matter how many times I get a lecture about saving money, it still isn’t the same being out on my own and having to manage my money for the first time. It’s easier to spend than to save; It takes planning. You should think ahead and determine what your future expenses will be versus the money you have now to figure out what your budget for each month is. It also means prioritizing your expenses. There are bills or other expenses you must pay for and there should be a certain amount you want to save each month. However, what to do with the money leftover is where smart financial planning and prioritizing can make a big difference. Thinking about which things you need the most or want the most can help make sure you are spending money items you will really use. It is also smart to wait a few days before buying something to avoid impulse purchasing and make sure it’s something you really need. Especially in college, money can be tight so that sweet new gadget everyone has been talking about sounds like a cool thing to have, but when you’re barely making rent it would be better to wait. It is also important to reward yourself within your means when you get a great grade on a test or achieved something that you didn’t think you would be able to do. There is nothing wrong with a small amount of spending to reward yourself or when you hang out with friends, as long as it is done responsibly. Saving money is certainly a lot harder to do than to say, but with a little conscious thought it can become habit.

I was quite fortunate to learn the importance of saving and basic financial planning from a young age. When I did get out on my own it was an adjustment for sure, but I had a strong knowledge base to fall back on, thanks to my upbringing. Money certainly isn’t everything but saving money is certainly important and always comes in handy when unexpected expenses arise. As my dad would always say, “Money doesn’t buy happiness but saving money does buy you peace of mind.”

Stephanie Morse is a student at Arizona State University.

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