Learning responsibility through the art of being broke

By Sara Windom

It makes sense. From an outsider’s perspective it seems impossible I’m broke. I’ve got all the essentials: a meal plan, nearby public transit, a job and a successful Depop account to earn or save money buying or selling used clothing.

Based on the looks of it, money should be no problem for me, but the struggle is very real.

Growing up in North Scottsdale, the majority of my peers never had to think about money.

They didn’t hold down a job in high school and if they did, they wouldn’t last more than a few weeks. They never anxiously checked price tags when shopping or worried about getting a good enough scholarship to afford their dream school.

Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can definitely buy peace of mind.

Before I attended Arizona State University, I tried the out-of-state experience and attended Belmont University in Tennessee. Not long after I went there, I grew increasingly anxious about affording it.

With a college fund already swallowed whole, I was racking up debt every second spent there. In math class instead of memorizing equations, I found myself thinking, “is this class really worth $15,000?”

When the semester was up, I transferred to Arizona State University.

Studying in-state does save money, but it doesn’t make me debt free by any means. I still rack up loans each semester and scrounge up any spare dollars I can for basic necessities.

Really, it’s a blessing I don’t have any money, because I have no time to spend it.

After my mornings in class, I’m working eight-hour shifts. Then, I come home to spend hours on end exhausted, eyes fried, as I finish up online courses before I pass out. The next day, I do it all again.

It’s difficult enough to look forward to the future. As I major in journalism, each year I’m closer to graduating is another reminder of the low starting salary, the few jobs there are in the field and, of course, the overwhelming idea that a robot can replace me and probably write better than I can.

Staying positive is hard when you’re also staying broke.

While I wish for lives like my friends where money doesn’t seem to matter, coins and bills eat away at me each time I part with them. Money has always been a dark cloud over my head and it never seems to let up.

I have learned responsibility through the art of being broke, however.

Since I am cautious with my money, I am also cautious in how I spend it and always try to get the maximum bang for my buck.

Being broke has taught me how to buy designer brands at thrift-shop prices, upcycle furniture, cut my own hair and sew.

Sure, having no money has made me a huge stress ball, but it also shaped me into a multi-talented girl boss and for that, I am forever grateful.

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

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