Editor’s Exchange – To spend or to save…that is the question
March 17, 2021
Spend your Money
I’ve always loved shopping. For as long as I can remember. I’ve craved the excitement of buying things, opening a package, or spending the day lost in a mall. I wouldn’t even really consider myself a materialistic person, but there’s something about seeing your hard work come into fruition that is so satisfying to me. It makes me feel like I didn’t spend all of those hours at work for nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, saving money is important, especially as you get older. It’s always good to have money set aside in case of an emergency. That being said, my favorite kind of savings are those with an end goal in mind. I find that I am more motivated not to spend money in the short term if I’m working toward a long-term goal.
I guess I’m contradicting myself in a way, though, because I am no stranger to impulse purchases. That’s the luxury of having my own money: to an extent, if I want something, I can buy it. Maybe that’s just me. Retail therapy, if you will.
To be fair, I’m not rich. I make just over minimum wage and nearly half of that goes to taxes. There are things I want that I simply can’t afford, even if I save, and that’s okay. It motivates me to work harder to put myself in a position where I could buy virtually anything I want.
I think there’s a time and place in your life to be saving as much money as possible. I’m fortunate to be young and have very few actual expenses, so I can choose what happens to every dollar in my bank account.
My perspective on life changed when I got my first real job. I had done different things to make money in the past, but none of them compared to that first paycheck. I felt so free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without the worry of asking my parents for money or having to collect up change. I felt old.
When school was virtual, I was making more money because I could work more hours. Now that school is fully in-person, I haven’t worked as much, and that’s okay. I have all my life to work. I’ve just had to adjust my spending accordingly.
We never know what tomorrow will bring, and we’re literally living through a global pandemic right now, so we should live every day to its fullest. If that means buying something just because you feel like it, so be it.
When I go through a period where I don’t have as much money as I did a few weeks before, I remind myself that there is always a better time coming. As I get older, I’ll have more opportunities for better-paying jobs. I’ll be able to pursue something I’m passionate about rather than just the first job I could find.
I can only hope that someday I’ll be in a position financially where I can afford to buy everything I need and still have room for the things I want. That’s the dream, isn’t it? Easier said than done.
A few years down the line, I might have a completely different attitude about all of this. Being in school full-time, I won’t have time to work forty or even twenty hours a week. I’ll have to find a way to budget and save so that I’m not behind on necessary expenses. Not to mention, I’ll be paying off student loan debt probably forever.
If you’ve been thinking about buying something for a while, this is your sign. You only live once, and everything works itself out in time. Go buy it. I certainly would.
Save your Money
Money was not something I worried too much about until the end of last year. I always just asked my mom for money when I needed it, and was perfectly fine when I didn’t.
However, once COVID hit, I decided that I needed to do something other than sit around all day, bored, so I got a job.
Along with this new job at Taco Bell, my mom helped me to get my first debit card, and get a savings account set up.
I didn’t think too much about saving money until one of my first paychecks that was over $300. I realized that I didn’t really need to spend all of that money, so I put it away.
Since then, I’ve been saving anything that I determined wasn’t necessary in my checking account, and have around $4,000 saved up.
When it comes to saving money, there are a lot of different ways to go about it, and different ways work for different people.
There’s the envelope method, but I’m pretty sure I would end up losing the envelopes after a while. And there’s also the 50-30-20 method, which is where you save 20% of your earnings. Personally, I love the 50-30-20 rule, but I don’t make a consistent enough income to keep up with it.
The way I’ve chosen to save, is to pick a number, and not allow myself to drop below that number.
I first reached $1,000 in savings towards the beginning of this school year, and I have never let myself go below that money since. Once I reached $2,000 just a few months later, I again never allowed myself to use up enough to go below that number, and etc.
This has worked really well for me, because I am able to pull money from savings as needed, while also having limitations on how much I can use.
Especially with college coming up quick next year, I find it extremely important that I save up any extra money that I can (even though I’ll be in debt either way), just to help things move a little smoother as I transfer into that new lifestyle.
I don’t expect to be able to walk up to Eastern Michigan University and hand them a check that pays my entire college tuition, but if I can get a semester or two out of the way before I even fully enroll there, and maybe most of my books as well, I’d be happy with that.
I’m not going to act like I don’t carelessly spend a lot of money though. I’m actually pretty bad when it comes to budgeting up until I get my next paycheck.
At my current workplace, which has switched to Olive Garden, I get paid every Friday. This doesn’t seem like a large amount of time to have to budget for, but when you’re a teenager who only hangs out with friends by getting food or going shopping… that money slips away pretty quickly without even realizing.
I usually allow myself around $200-$300 dollars in my checking account for the week, that way it is more likely that I’ll have some leftover when my next paycheck comes, allowing me to put more into savings that weekend.
For example, if I give myself $260, and by the end of the week I have $180, but I’m getting a $200 paycheck, I would be able to put at least $100 in savings, if not more depending on my plans for that week.
It is a constant battle to not pull a bunch of money from savings and spend whatever my heart desires. But, at the end of the day, I’m working towards a big goal for my future, and every penny counts… or every thousand dollars… either way.