Budgeting in College is A Lot Harder Than I Thought

It’s safe to say that "adulting" hit us all like a big, yellow school bus. I feel like there was no buffer in the time between the end of high school and the beginning of college, where we were safely ushered into this thing called ‘adulthood’ that is the rest of our life. There’s a great amount of guessing with all of this—especially when it comes to budgeting.

If I have learned anything in these last 2 and a half years, it’s that money just doesn’t seem to last. $1,000 is NOTHING, especially when you don’t know how to spend it. I have honestly always sucked at saving money, but lately, it seems like I just continue to get worse. The solution seems simple—stop spending money on things you don’t need, but, at the same time, it really isn’t that simple.

Shopping—whether for clothes, electronics, or even food—is a sport. And some of us are just really good at it. For example, give me 20 minutes in a store, and I’ve got enough stuff for a new wardrobe. But sit me down and tell me that I need to budget in rent for the month, a plane ticket home for the holidays, and textbooks for the upcoming term, and my mind goes blank. This is because I can budget in everything I don’t necessarily need, before the things that I do. And this is becoming more and more of a problem.

I think that retail therapy is the biggest coping mechanism for a lot of young adults at this stage of our lives, but for some of us, like me, it’s a little out of control. I always tell myself “OK. That’s it. No more spending any more money till payday” every time I go crazy at the mall or online. But it never lasts, because then I remember I still need my nails done for the month, plus I haven’t ordered pizza in a while, and how could I forget about how I’ve been meaning to get a new phone case for the longest? By now, I’m already so deep in my spending spree why stop now? 

I sort of operate on the mentality of, “Well I’m getting paid soon”, and it will be the death of me. The problem with this is I’ve somehow convinced myself that because I tend to make more than I spend it doesn’t really matter if I order Mexican food to my apartment every other night. Unfortunately these things certainly add up, and that is a concept I just cannot grasp.

It would probably be good for me to take some sort of financial literacy or budgeting class considering the fact that the older I get the more I need to save. Making reasonable decisions regarding what to spend my money on seems so easy, but when I factor in the fact that there is a new movie coming out that I want to see, my hair hasn’t been done in 2 months, I could really use a new pair of shoes, and that rainy season is fast approaching and my jacket just isn’t going to cut it, things get a lot more difficult. I guess from here I can only get better at trying to save.