By Tavia Matteson

Being a college student has presented me with many vigorous challenges. I have had to find a balance between juggling my education and working a part time job. However, the biggest lesson I have had to learn was how to manage my money. During my junior year of college, I made the decision to get my own apartment and this financially was a shock. To go from paying very minimal bills living in my parents’ home to paying over a thousand dollars a month just to live was a huge game changer in my daily life as well as my bank account. Discovering the genuine cost of living was a major reality check for me but it has taught me to budget my money efficiently and that’s and that’s a trait I feel will enhance my quality of life tremendously.

Throughout college I have supported myself financially as a part time waitress. I am able to do decently well for myself. The convenience in waitressing is that you are payed daily for your cash tips which makes spending particularly easy. Prior to moving out I would spend my money frivolously because I did not have many bills to worry about. However, once I seriously entertained the idea of living on my own I realized I needed to adapt to a less extravagant spending style. I began to save half of my earnings each time I went to work and continued this behavior for a year. At the end of that year I felt financially stable enough to support myself and I signed a lease at an apartment complex of my choosing.

Moving out of my parents’ home was a reality check, and I quickly realized all the costs associated with living. Rent was just the bare minimum in costs. I learned to budget my income to pay for my water bill, cables, electricity, groceries, trash, etc. It was a substantial change but because of the money I had saved I felt grounded. A tremendous responsibility to provide for myself came apparent and at times it has been very challenging to juggle my financial duties as well as my educational responsibilities. There is nothing easy about being a part time employee, intern, and student. Days are longs, stress is evident, however I feel it will all pay off in the long run.

In learning to balance my bank account and fund a sufficient budget for my style of living I feel I have learned a big lesson in life. Being financially stable is not a necessity in life to be happy however, for me it gives me a sense of security. I am in no means wealthy, but I manage to get by which I believe is a success at this stage in my life. Learning to balance money and understanding its true value has helped me to better myself as a person, a student, and apartment renter. I have learned time management skills by paying my bills on time, I have learned to budget to pay for my bulls, and I have learned the value of a dollar in realizing the actual cost of living. I am grateful to have learned these financial aspects at this age and will continue to live by them for years to come.

Tania Matteson is a student at Arizona State University.