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Kellyn Simpkin / Her Campus

I Decided to Control My Finances Instead of Letting My Finances Control Me

I was 9 years old when I opened my first savings account.

I was 16 when I got my first job.

Since then, I have continued to work and put money towards things I wanted to buy.

For a while, I did not have many expenses, but the moment I turned 16, I got a job and began saving 25% of each paycheck.

However, when I got to college, I realized budgeting for myself was a lot harder than I thought.

I didn’t have anyone to keep me accountable when it came to spending, and I quickly realized purchasing things such as gas, groceries and oil changes was certainly something I took for granted when I was living with my parents.

During my first two years away from home, I had no idea how to budget accordingly.

I was taking out loans, digging out of my savings, and spending too much money on Wendy’s four-for-fours.

As I dug myself in deeper debt, I knew I needed a game plan to help me live comfortably without falling into a downward spiral.

The first step is to acknowledge the issue.

If you know you have a spending problem, it’s okay to own up to it.

But now what?

I’m very fortunate to have a financial advisor in my family.

Not everyone has this tool, but that’s okay!

You don’t need one in order to learn to budget accordingly.

My brother-in-law had me fill out a spreadsheet and write down all the expenses I contribute to.

In my case, my money goes towards tuition, groceries, gas, co-pays for doctors’ appointments, monthly memberships, savings, entertainment, and a set amount of my monthly income I send to my family each month.

I aim to send them enough to put towards my portion of the phone bill, car insurance, etc.

Once you categorize where your money is going and how much you make each month, you can then set aside certain amounts towards each of these expenses that you have.

The key is to set realistic spending goals.

If you know you like to eat out more than you like to grocery shop, make sure to note that in your monthly plan and balance accordingly.

If you know you’re going on a trip at the end of the month, edit your costs towards your other expenses so you don’t catch yourself constantly digging out of your savings.

Another thing is to make sure you’re saving a certain amount of your income too.

In my case, my savings account is for emergencies as well as my tuition costs.

While I do take out loans for tuition, it’s important to not take out more money than you need.

If you’re in a spot where you don’t need to take out loans, great!

Just continue to put as much as you want into your savings while still living comfortably.

If you are taking out loans, it’s a great idea to make any payments you can while you’re still in school and can avoid insane interest rates.

I make payments towards my loans each week to avoid being deeper in debt when I graduate.

You’d be surprised how much you save each year by making small weekly payments.

Learning about money while you’re still in college may seem like a lot to take on.

It’s unfortunate that students aren’t taught about money and how to handle it until they’re already in a pit of debt.

What people fail to realize is that seeing where your money goes and how to adjust accordingly can not only be rewarding, but also kind of fun!

It’s never too late to make changes to your financial game plan. I guarantee your future self will thank you.

Olivia Trejo is a 3rd year public relations major at the University of Florida. With a strong passion for people and music, she hopes to pursue a career in the music industry after college.