The school year just kicked off two weeks ago and unsurprisingly, I’m already surrendering to the monotonous lifestyle of a full-time student. My eyebags showcased themselves for NYFS, my friends are disappearing off the grid and my shoulder and back are succumbing to the burgeoning weight of books. Naturally, I resort straight to my coping mechanism, researching cheap vacation spots or cruises to motivate me to get past three more months. I would land myself at a few sweet deals and get myself really riled up and proud. Then comes the self-debates on which deal to follow through and get really indecisive when all these choices become too much.
But deep down, I know the one to determine is only one app away: my beloved Chase app. Opening it to see $300 in my checking account and a measly $1000 in my savings, I knew the only luxurious place I can afford is my address. I ain’t going anywhere, man.
But was I always this bad with money? For sure, the calculations done at the beginning of my summer job guaranteed me at least one trip during the school year; so where the heck did it all go? Then I remembered: Canada. Also, the dinners and the nightly excursions in the city. And who could forget about the one-on-one “lunch catch-ups” with people I cared about a lot less than the chicken and waffles in front of me? After a few heartbreaking moments, I can’t think of any further without feeling like a screw-up. Something has to change.
So I started taking more time off from eating out and looking around on vacation sites and started diving into personal finances. After a few days or so, here are five things I found crucial for short and long term.
- Start Saving Money.
Put away $20 a week. Whenever you get paid from your job, always pay yourself first. Maybe keep a jar of change on your desk and dump whatever change you have in your pockets or add to it when you do something good. Whatever it takes, it’s better to get a hold on your finances now than suffer when you’re older.
- Learn How to Do Your Taxes.
People always say that when they get a job in the future, they’re just going to hand whatever is needed to an accountant and let them take charge. But do you even know how much it would cost you? Here’s a spoiler. According to Credit Karma, “in January 2017, the average tax preparation fee for a tax professional to prepare a Form 1040 and state return with no itemized deductions is $176. If you itemize your deductions, that average fee goes up to $273.” Just think what you could do with an extra $273 a year. There are a plethora of free services like TurboTax to help you out. Or you can go on Youtube and learn it yourself. Self-sufficiency is key my friend.
- Buy Things That Matter.
Buying something impulsively just because you think it looks great with a certain style is not going to cut it. That clothing or jewelry is most likely going to be worn two or three times before it gets lost or thrown out. But putting a little extra money into a laptop that could fulfill your work AND school purposes? Definitely a good choice. Investing in things that lasts will leave you with more money than your hand can grasp.
- Live and Eat Right.
As of now, the U.S does not have free healthcare. If you’re not making big money and can afford to pay for superb private health insurance, then you better start living and eating right. You’re going to notice some changes in your body when you hit your 20’s that’s going to annoy you for a bit and then it’s going to drastically get worse as you age. But why go through that when you can avoid it all by just living correctly? Eat less salty, sweet, and fried foods and start intaking more veggies, fruits, and healthy meat. Maybe start looking into supplements to boost your immune system up and definitely find a preferred form of exercise.
- Invest Your Money.
Have you ever heard of something called compound interest? Or the concept of making money work for you? If you ever want to get out of the rat race and retire early, this is the way to go. Putting your money early in a 401k account or a Roth IRA will significantly increase your chance of becoming the millionaire you dreamt of as a kid. You can start by looking for financial services like Fidelity Investments or Vanguard to learn more about it. Trust me, once you realize the concept of it, you’re going to wish your parents started one for you the day you were born.