By Adrian Marsh
When I moved out of the dorms at Arizona State University at the beginning of summer 2018 and into a house with a couple of roommates, I was officially on my own, financially. That was the first time I had been responsible for not only covering housing but now utilities, Internet, grocery among other expenses. My parents have always supported me and will always support me, as long as they are around, but it was time for me to be pushed even further out of the nest. And I wanted to take that next step.
I thought it would come easy. I thought I knew how to handle my money.
I handled it, for sure, but probably could have done so much more efficiently. That summer, I took an online accounting class and learned how to make budget sheets and income statements. That is exactly what I needed in order to prepare financially for the upcoming semester. I knew a check would be sent to me with student loans for the semester, but I also knew I didn’t need every penny that was available. I didn’t need extra money, which isn’t even mine to begin with, sitting in my bank account tempting me to treat myself every weekend. I had a source of income lined up for the semester. So I launched Microsoft Excel on my laptop and essentially made an income statement. I listed the fall semester months —August through December — followed by sources of income, expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment and Internet. Some of the expenses were fixed, such as rent and Internet. And others varied, so I had to make an educated guess. After calculating how much money I would need to get through the semester and receiving my student loan check in the mail, I transferred the projected amount I would need into my savings and sent back the remainder. While the loans are sitting in my savings, I also set a goal to live off of my checking account as much as possible. Work checks are deposited into my checking account and though they don’t cover everything, they do serve as a fine cushion.
In terms of entertainment for a “broke college student,” there are actually plenty of options that don’t involve disgusting fraternity parties and hideous fake ID cards. Being part of a large, religious organization is how I feed myself half of the time. They know how to reel us in with free food at social gatherings. Other opportunities my friends and I have enjoyed during college include free museum days, exploring the art and murals downtown, bike riding around Tempe lake at night, chasing Arizona’s gorgeous sunsets, hiking and showing our school spirit at free sporting events.
Halfway into said semester, and I’m comfortable. For once, something I learned in class could be applied to real life. Who would have thought? I know people who mismanage their money to an extent that is completely beyond me, and I appreciate that a little bit of time and math skills now can help me build a stronger, more stable future.
Adrian Marsh is a student at Arizona State University.