Where did all the money go?
The budget of a college student is one of intrigue and mystery. So complex are the collegian’s financial dealings that he or she often wakes up to a phone call from his or her mother stating, “Your account is empty, what happened to all your money?” You should be so lucky as to have this phrased so gently.
I’ve encountered such a treacherous situation numerous times, often far too early for me to have my wits about me in any way capable of combating the investigating probes of my caring mother. How do you answer these questions? Delicately. Imagine explaining to your parent on separate occasions that you no longer have money for the following reasons: bailing a friend out of jail after he was wrongfully cuffed, paying a ticket and purchasing something that I’m going to choose not to name. Needless to say, this nameless purchase was not 15 Pointersauri after a good night at the casino. I’m not a gambler, though, so that idea is pure whimsy. One can only imagine how receptive the lucky woman on the other end of the phone was to these expenses. I had to try and convince her to believe me, let alone that this wasn’t some sort of chicanery or parental heist. The bottom line is that she was not happy.
This is not an article about my pecuniary mishaps. While my actions do not bode well for my future, college is a time when most of us achieve financial independence for the first time. Some of us may have help from parents or relatives, and some may support ourselves, but in either case, we are learning to be fiscally (ir)responsible. It’s a time when we have to learn to pay rent and gas on time and feel the consequences of not doing so. In most cases, there is no longer direct intervention on behalf of the almighty account holders. We are at a time in our lives when we make choices. Important financial questions cross our paths everyday: to Jimmy John’s or not to Jimmy John’s? Eight bucks and too much mayo later and you probably think to yourself that you should’ve saved the money. But that’s the point; it’s a learning process. Although, there is always the stop-tuition-payment card they play if you make too many bad decisions.
As we grow older, the decision-making process only becomes more difficult. Pretty soon we’re deciding between a martini and a beer instead of wondering if we should shell out the extra dollar for soda at the DUC. Instead of deciding whether to live on or off campus, we’re sitting down talking about a mortgage. These are formative years for our financial habits, and we probably shouldn’t be trusted with any money whatsoever. We’ll all leave school knowing how to close a bar tab, but hey, you have to start somewhere. Let’s not get all out of whack; always start with baby steps.