Growing up, I was never made to get a job. My parents maintained the belief that being a student and focusing on academics was my main priority. They worked hard to ensure my brothers and I were happy and comfortable—this comfort took the form of homemade meals, new shoes and clothes for the school year, and little worry as to our family’s finances. I knew I was fortunate. In an attempt to be more independent, in high school, I started to purchase some of my own clothes with birthday and Christmas money. However, while I learned to purchase on this small scale, entering college would offer me a different reality.
Installment Five: Money Matters
For the first time, I was to become responsible for purchasing everything I needed and desired beyond tuition, room, and a meal plan. Once my initial supply of extra food became depleted (I like to eat breakfast in my room), and once I found myself staring at outlandishly expensive sweaters in Urban Outfitters, I knew I officially entered into the realm of adulthood where I would have to budget and decide when and on what to spend my savings. At first, I felt a sense of pride and pleasure as I stood at the ATM and withdrew money saved from years prior. Going out to dinner and paying for my own meal was exhilarating and showcased a piece of adulthood I had not yet experienced. However, as this became the norm, I came to the realization that being an “adult” isn’t that great. As I began to run out of food and was forced to replenish my supply at Walmart, I discovered food—especially the kind I consume—is expensive. I began to look at the prices with disdainful scrutiny as I calculated the sum of my purchases. After I spent two week’s worth of spending money on enough food to keep me going, I called my parents and complained about this newfound responsibility I now possessed. The sound on the other end of the phone could only be described as a knowing snicker. What shred of adulthood I adopted when entering college was not as fun as I once thought. Immediately I developed a newfound appreciation for the times my parents would allow me to select the organic yogurt over the generic one, the heaviest produce over the inexpensive smaller options, and the pounds of butter I required to bake. Though I love grocery shopping and have always found immense pleasure in cooking, it really is not as enjoyable when you have to spend your own money. If I took anything away from this entry into the world of adulthood, I learned I want to get a good paying job when I graduate (the dream of everyone, I know) in order to be able to purchase the things I need and hopefully, on occasion, desire. In the meantime, I plan to scour the internet for coupons, educate myself on budgeting and money management (in preparation for that big pay day when I graduate), and pray the amount of food I purchased from Walmart will last until Thanksgiving.