By Taylor Freds

When I moved to Arizona for college, I quickly realized that high school had left me completely unprepared for the real world. The school’s need to be the best at standardized tests has left students without the actual knowledge they need when they walk out the door. Taxes, financial aid, savings, budgeting, debt (etc.) are all words that I knew the meaning of but had no real grasp on. All the knowledge I have gained now on these topics I tribute to my mother, an accountant, because without her I’m sure I would still be Google-ing how to do half of these things. Taxes and financial aid are two things that I still pick my mom’s brain with, whenever I need help, but I had to learn the importance of saving, budgeting and debt all on my own.

In high school, I got a job as a swim instructor and was excited to finally be making money; however, my parents told me not to touch my bank account. At the time, I was frustrated because I couldn’t use the money I had earned. That all changed the second I had to start buying supplies for college. I realized how expensive the world is and how important it is to save. Not including the cost of housing or tuition, things like buying laundry detergent, toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, (etc.) all add up and that does not include the cost of going out. That’s when I learned the importance of budgeting correctly. I used three different tools to manage my money and it allowed me to stretch the money I had earned from teaching lessons over three years.

The best thing I ever did was open two bank accounts. I had one bank account at home with all my money and one at school. Each semester I moved a specific amount from my main bank account to my school account. By separating my money out, it guaranteed that I never went over a specific amount for each semester, by only using my school debit card. The next thing I did was make a budget. It wasn’t anything elaborate. Once I knew exactly how much money I had left after textbooks, I broke up the remaining money into spending for each month. By managing my money this way, it allowed me to not worry about my bank account every day and know exactly when to stop spending. The last thing I did was take advantage of all the free events that the school offers. Most of the events provided free food which allowed me to get away from the dorm food and not spend any money.

Lastly, the amount of debt I have accumulated while completing my degrees was probably the toughest realizations I’ve had. I knew that being an out-of-state student would mean I would have more debt than in-state, but I never realized how high it would really get. While I haven’t started paying on my debt yet, I have started making plans and figuring out the best way to pay them off quickly once I’m out of school. I suggest that everyone takes the time to figure out how they will pay off their debt and learn exactly how much it will cost because the debt you accumulate is never the amount you think it will be.

Taylor Freds is a journalism student at Arizona State University.