By Lauren Bukoskey

My relationship with money did not fully take off until my college education did. I always was aware of what money was, but it wasn’t until I lived on my own and now had to really fully budget on my own as well. It was the first time I was financially independent and I had no idea where to start or really what that meant.

With everything going on freshman year like new clubs, new friends, new insane text book prices-there are a lot of cost that accumulate quickly. Not to mention student loan debt.

The first year is already overwhelming but add on the pressure of managing your finances-it’s another level. I met with a financial advisor before college started when I was initially choosing which college to attend. With my parents, we discussed exactly what each college would cost each year and how much scholarships would reduce the price and what loans I would have to take out to support the rest of my tuition. Talking about those thousands of dollars made my heart stop. It was crazy to think that an 18 year-old already had to deal with this kind of stress so I am very glad I met with a financial planner. She taught me how to budget money as I entered the world as an adult but also taught me to not be afraid of numbers.

Yes-those sums of money are quite daunting and intimidating but it also is manageable. Balancing my paychecks and tracking my paychecks helped me keep my spending in line that first year of college. It can be very tempting to want to always be doing whatever your new college friends are doing or always go out and spend money on food or clothes-but being adult is about being responsible. A huge part of that is being responsible for your finances. I recommend all seniors in high schools meet with a financial planner just to have a real honest dialogue about money.

Money can be such a scary subject especially with all of the different kinds of loans. It is never a simple process when choosing a college but understanding what the financial burden will be is a great start to choosing. Loans are also very complicated to understand, at least I thought, because there are different interest rates and they also start at different times. For example, a few of my loans don’t start accruing until I am done with college. Some don’t even have interest.

There are also great apps to track your budget and what you are spending. Mint is the app I have heard the most about. It allows you to track your spending but also watch your credit score. It pays attention to what money you have in your bank accounts and also can add in what bills you have coming in each month. It can help even the most frazzled freshman feel like they have a little better grasp on college, which is not easy to do.

Lauren Bukoskey is a student at Arizona State University.