By Sherell J. Williams

If you took personal finance at my high school, you would have been subjected to personal finance expert Dave Ramsey’s teachings. At the time, I was incredulously watching him talk about how I can pay for college in cash, not have a car payment, and perhaps the most painful concept of all… patience.

We live in an instant gratification society and Mr. Ramsey goes against the grain when he says save now, buy later. That new iPhone that a young girl eyes? She needs to wait until she has $600 to buy it upfront. That college education that she wants? She needs to do whatever it takes not to take out a loan. How? She saves and avoids debt. I’m not going to lie, I thought this guy did not live in the same world that I did, and what he was teaching is easier said than done. However, I took his advice seriously because I’ve witnessed the results of poor spending choices.

According to Investopedia, “As of March 2020, Americans have $14.3 trillion in total debt, which includes $438 billion in credit card debt. The personal savings rate in 2019 was 7.6%, down from 11% in 1960.” No one wants to be a statistic and I’ve seen plenty of people be just that by irresponsible spending.

So I took Ramsey’s advice and started a budget. At the time I had a part-time, minimum wage job but I can say that I had less stress and I was happier. I knew what was where, how much money I had, and what I could afford to save, give, and spend without the guilt or worry if I had enough. I say shed the guilt and stress! As students, we have enough anxiety with assignments, deadlines, and financial aid. In fact, an often-recommended solution to relieving financial stress is creating a budget. From experience, that has made having an income as well as spending and saving enjoyable.

Currently, I am living the broke college student experience. I don’t have a job because I want to focus on doing well in my studies and that means no money. It also means that I can’t go out to restaurants with my friends unless my meal plan can pay for it, I can’t buy what I want because that would be taking from another’s income and potentially my college fund. This is my personal economy. What I just explained, in economic terms would be opportunity costs. This is, simply put, giving up something for something else.

Luckily for me, I have some money in savings but Ramsey can’t take the credit for that choice. Sometimes, utilizing resources that are available and acting on them can carry you a long way. In my case, that would be scholarships and because of that, a broke college student only had to pay $1,000 for her first year of college. Through saving and a little money-making, I also got that iPhone. Not bad.

Williams is a junior at the University of Missouri, majoring in journalism.