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Financial Unknown: Balancing Finances in Your 20s While Also Having Fun

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Most people in college do not have an unlimited supply of money. That is to say, most college students, new grads, and graduate students struggle to find the balance between living an exciting, memory-making life and actually preparing for their financial futures. This is one of the greatest struggles that any young person has. No matter how much personal finance education you got from your parents and even school, it can seem near impossible to accumulate much in the way of money and be able to keep maintain it while in school and while building your professional experience. A number of factors contribute to this the cost of school and living around school, the high price of memorable experiences, and the unexpected and rising costs of making adult purchases as you become more and more financially independent.  

Many college students find themselves working to some extent throughout college. This comes in the form of part-time jobs during the school year and full-time jobs during breaks in order to save enough money to get through the upcoming school year. If you are able to secure a job, which can be difficult with other commitments, working full-time during breaks and maybe part-time during the year can have you save to get through your semester. But oftentimes these jobs are not internships, which are critical to making the professional contacts that you need for post-grad. If you are lucky enough to get an internship, they can sometimes be unpaid so you find yourself working that internship and also a part-time job during breaks to be able to make any money. 

Managing a job during the summer or semester can be difficult. It can prevent you from being able to make valuable memories. One of the most challenging parts of a long-hours, full-week schedule all school year and during breaks is that it does not feel like you have any time to spend or make memories with your friends and family. If you do have any time, many things you may do with friends can cost you money. In many ways, it feels like you are constantly working with no off time and you never have the money to do anything when you do have free time or you will have no savings. 

The number one thing I am told from people who have graduated is that they wish that they worked less during their breaks and that they made memories and traveled. At the same time though, doing that now sets you up for having less money and needing to work more during school or an internship.  

Obviously, this puts a fairly grim haze over the financial situation involved in college, but there are ways that you can use this time to prepare for your financial future. First and foremost, a great way you can save for your future is to set up a Roth IRA. This is an untaxed retirement account that can accumulate money and earn interest. You can set it up to automatically invest a few dollars every month. While this may not sound like a lot, over time this can add up and can ease the burden of being worried about future savings. You can also start to build your credit by getting a low-interest credit card and only put necessary purchases that you know you can pay back on it. This sounds very minimal but building credit and maintaining a good credit score is one of the best ways to take charge of your financial future whilst in college.  

Most importantly, please remember that it is okay if you are not able to save much in college. School is hard and takes up a lot of time. There are also so many expenses around the college. You may be leasing your first car, paying rent for the first time, or taking charge of your phone bill. No matter what, this is challenging and it will take some trial and error. Take the time for yourself, work when and if you can, and enjoy your time in college.

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Kethry Milne

U Mass Amherst '24

Rising senior, political science major, coffee enthusiast, run lover and haircare extraordinaire.