By Austin Weber

Coming to college, I was lucky that my grandparents had set up a college fund for me when I was born. Instead of walking in worrying about money, I had $15,000 in the bank, so I didn’t have a problem early on paying for things. The average that families save, by the way, is about $25,000 in college savings plans, but I go to a state school, so costs are lower.

I didn’t have to work, however, I spent far more money on food than I should’ve. The dining hall food often didn’t agree with my stomach, so I would order from fast food (often Domino’s) or buy some groceries to put in the mini-fridge I shared with my roommate.

After my freshman year, I bought a car with that money. The car was about $11,000, but I only paid $7,000 out of pocket. My mom gave me $1,000, and the rest I got a loan to cover because there was $3,000 minimum for the loan. It ended up with a small payment, so it wasn’t a big dent in my funds. Since then, I have been paying off the loan every month. Not only was this not a big financial burden, but it was helped me build up my credit score to the “fair” range on Credit Karma, also due in part to having student loans.

My sophomore year I had tried to get a job while at school, but I didn’t end up doing so. My junior year I couldn’t because I spent the entire year working at our laboratory newspaper and it already took up enough of my time. I did a bit more driving that year, but I was smart with my money. I work summers when I go home, so it’s not like I never had any money coming in. But I also did a good job not buying too many things. I started getting into collecting that year, and I’ve spent a good amount of money doing that since but doing that meant I just limited myself in other areas.

This senior year, I got my first apartment with my girlfriend. We had to pay the first three months of rent up front, but this year I got a little loan to help pay for my rent in case I didn’t work enough.

I did get a job this year, and work about 10-20 hours each week. I was making about $100-$150 each week, so as I spent money on bills, I was able to make most of the money back. Splitting the payments, which weren’t expensive at all, with someone else meant it wasn’t so much of a burden.

As my college career ends and I go off to the real world (at the worst possible time in terms of finding a job), I feel like I’m solid financially, but I’ve also gotten a lot of experience through my four years away from home managing money. I don’t have any worries at all about managing money because I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Without school, I’ll be working more anyway, so more money will be coming in.

Austin Weber is a graduating senior at the University of Missouri, majoring in journalism.