We are also pleased to present our Summer 2016 Scholarship Contest Winning Essay by Daniel Jacobs. He is our proud holder of the Summer 2016 DirectLoansLenders Scholarship Prize. Daniel’s essay was cautiously examined and assessed by our rigorous jury and was fairly appreciated as deserving a reward.
Describe How Did You Achieved Financial Responsibility
College is extremely costly. Tuition, textbooks, rent, food, and gas are all seemingly unavoidable costs. College is also extremely time-demanding. As a junior pursuing a double-major in Marketing and Management, I have a heavy class load that requires hours of homework and studying on top of class hours. Fortunately, I have developed time-management skills that have aided me in prioritizing tasks that need to be completed and have brought me success in the classroom.
My dad has taught me from an early age that I need to be responsible with my money. He has helped me invest in stocks, open a bank account, and build credit. I am grateful for these life lessons and skills he has taught me, as they will help me be successful throughout my life.
My First Independent Financial Steps
When I came to college as a freshman, it was somewhat of a wake-up call for me that I had to buy everything myself, such as laundry detergent and toilet paper. These purchases were always made by my parents when I lived at home. I did not realize how expensive everyday products were, or how often I would need to repurchase. I also learned the hard way freshman year that small purchases such as a cup of coffee or lunch with a friend would add up quickly.
There was one month my dad called me and asked why my credit card bill was over $400. I was confused because I had not made any large, expensive purchases. I then realized that all the small things I bought and did not think anything of were adding up. I am now extremely cautious about unplanned expenses to avoid this issue happening again.
Financail Discipline Strategy
One of the most significant pieces of advice I have heard about being financially responsible and having financial discipline came from my Introduction to Marketing teacher, Chadwick Miller. He told that class that every time he considers making a purchase, mentally estimating how long he would have to work to pay for this.
For example, if I made $10 an hour and I wanted to buy something that was $20, would it be worth the two hours it would take to work for it? Using this tip has helped me manage my purchases better and makes me stop and think before just buying something.
I worked at the Coeur d’Alene Resort last summer as a server at the pool. I would take food and drink orders, serve guests, and deliver towels to guests. I only made $3.25 an hour plus tips, forcing me to work extremely hard to earn tips. There were days when I would work 10 hours and only make $40 in tips, and there were days when I would work 10 hours and make $200 in tips.
Whenever I am considering making a nonessential purchase, such as clothing or going out to eat, I think about how long I worked at the Resort to earn money to pay for it. I think about how my feet hurt from walking eight or nine miles per day at work, how it was over 100 degrees some days, and how I was continually trying to please guests and stressing out when they were not satisfied. Often, I conclude that the purchase was not worth the effort that went into earning that money.
Learned Lessons of Financial Responsibility
I have learned that college is an easy place to spend and waste money. In the college town of Pullman, Washington, sometimes I feel isolated from the “real world”. It is easy to lose track of purchases and spent money when everyone is focused on their school during the week and having fun on the weekends.
I have also been able to use strategies, such as the one first shared by my professor, to stay financially responsible during my time in college. I still make nonessential purchases, such as a cup of coffee on a day I have an exam or dinner with a friend after a long week, but I am conscious and careful about how often I allow myself these purchases. I have friends that carelessly spend money, and I have friends that are incredibly frivolous and stick to a budget.
I think that college is a time for learning and exploring different things, including managing finances. I am incredibly thankful to be able to attend a university I love, have supportive parents that teach me and help me be successful, and that I have learned at a young age about financial responsibility.