by Alyssa Valley, Arizona State University

While my experience with money is not as elaborate as others, I think my experience and observation with it thus far has helped me to prepare better for later in life. I have two older siblings, so most of my life has been watching what they do and learning either what to do, or in some cases what not to do.

One big thing I learned from my older sister was to make saving money a part of your paycheck. For example, she would automatically have the bank transfer 200 dollars from her checking to her savings every two weeks, which is when she received her paycheck. This made saving easier because it was automatic, but also because it creates the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mindset. What was in your checking account you are able to spend, while the savings was only used if it is needed. Since she has taught me that, I have been able to build up savings and put that money towards paying for college. The main thing to focus on is not the amount you are putting into savings, but that you are actually putting money into a savings account.

401k, this is something that until this past year I was not very aware of. I knew it was a part of retirement, but other than that I did not give it much thought. 401k is a retirement savings plan that is offered by employers. It was my father that suggested that I start contributing now because it is never too early to start saving for retirement. Although 401k is not something that impacts me now, it is something that will provide stability for me in the future. Having stability, at least for me, is something that I strive for.

The last money lesson, while more of a roundabout tip is still important advice to keep in the back of your mind. That is to stay away from “keeping up with the Jones’”. It can be very easy to want the newest phone or to be wearing high-end brands. Trying to keep up with what the people around you are doing or be able to have the same things they have. It is important to realize that you may not be in the same financial situation that they are in and by trying to keep up with them you are only hurting yourself. While it may be hard to pull back and not do everything they are doing, it will be worth it because in the long run you will be able to better manage your money and not get yourself into debt. Keeping this mindset will also help you to determine what is important and what is not, differentiating a want and a need.

Money is something that is easier to lose than it is to get. From what I have learned, whether it be what to do or what not to do, being able to save and manage your money is going to help you a lot more in the long run.

Alyssa Valley is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.