The idea of 100% supporting yourself is terrifying. I have always had a job. From my first job at a retirement home, to managing a frozen yogurt shop, to my present job at Urban Outfitters, I have never had trouble balancing work and school. Although, there is a huge difference when working in high school and working in college. When you are in college, every dollar you make is important, and that in itself is the hardest part to manage.
In high school I remember getting my first paycheck and trying to plan out how I was going to spend it. Every time I get a paycheck now, I plan how I am going to try to not spend it. Every swipe of that debit card is like a dagger to my heart. Money is not the only stress of working as a freshman — balancing a crazy class schedule and long hours behind the counter is a source of stress itself. Having a little calendar that I keep in my purse at all times has truly kept me together. Getting organized about your schedule is so important. I ask myself every week, “When do I make time to study?” or “When on Earth am I going to have time to watch some How I Met Your Mother?” I plan it out! It is tough balancing it all, but it definitely does not allow for boredom. I never feel like I am wasting my time.
Already, living on a budget is very difficult. I went from high school, where parents pay for the necessities and all I have to do is save and buy the things I want, to college, where I am an adult who has to pay for her own shampoo and cereal (not to mention start thinking about those student loans – oh dear Lord, help me). While it may cause some stress, it is a great way to start preparing myself for further solo support. Especially when working at Urban Outfitters (a.k.a. the biggest cry to my wallet), it is always difficult to not buy the things that I want. “That paycheck is not for spending,” I always tell myself, but sometimes you just have to buy that burnt orange velvet tank, or black slip dress to feel classier in life. You cannot be a real adult without some class, am I right? I mean, I’m not old enough to legally have a glass of classy red wine with my dinner yet, so I have to compromise. I have learned to create a line of how much I can spend, and how much I can save.
Over time, we all figure it out, but beginning the saving and budgeting process early is a fantastic start to a long life of dealing with money. For me, it is teaching me a lot and building my character as a new college student. Get out there! Make that money! You are going to need it eventually, so you may as well start now.