Live How You Want To

One of the reasons I chose Trinity was the university’s offer of a generous  financial aid package, a situation shared by many others.

That said, the people who attend Trinity come from a variety of economic backgrounds that favor the middle to upper class. Many students here come from  families that are far less price-sensitive than mine, but $50,000 per year is a ridiculous amount of money for 99% of people.

Money is a finite resource, and an important one. As such, everyone should be conscious of their money. Like, starting now. Even if you are still in college. It should not be all  about how much money your parents make.

Granted, there are some people who are too poor to plan for their future and make smart financial decisions. There are also some people who are too rich to plan for their future and make smart financial decisions.

Rather than make this article some sort of jumping-off point for class warfare, I will aim it at everyone else.

I got my first job in high school as a blue-collar worker for my dad’s friend””helping move furniture and whatnot””and working for this very paper was my first job in college. At around the same time that I began college, I got my first credit card. I never felt like I had to budget because of how little money I made.

My first year finished, and I somehow ended up with this room full of awesome stuff and a credit card bill with a much less awesome number. I managed to get rid of the debt, but my first sniff of that plastic magic was almost a tragic story rather than a humorous one.

No one with serious debt simply wakes up with it one day. It starts off small until it snowballs, and no one ever realizes how big it is until he or she painfully hits the bottom of the mountain.

So back to my point: you should be incredibly invested in being smart with your money (pun intended). I love this phrase I read on the Internet once (take that, APA citation): “Make your money work for you; don’t work for your money.”

Of course, following this motto isn’t always easy. Last summer, I lived around UTSA, and, my god, every fast food chain you could think of was within, like, a five-mile radius of my apartment. Packing lunch for work was such a pain; I felt like a loser for not just sucking it up and buying my lunch. I somehow got through, though, and saved some money.

I hear a lot of jokes””but not really jokes””about how awful it is to ride the VIA buses or about  being excited for Tuesdays when HEB sends out its weekly deals flyer or about never throwing away leftovers. It stings a bit sometimes, but it doesn’t faze me for too long.

After all, I know what I want from my future, and I want to make sure that I am ready for it. I can handle eating the same meal twice a week or riding the bus on a hot day.

Maybe you want to go on a lot of vacations; go right ahead. Maybe you want to buy the latest smartphone;  don’t let anything stop you. Maybe you want to eat steaks all the time;  push your heart aside and do it.

My life motto is moderation””it’s the one thing I do in the extreme. Frugality is one aspect of that.  Finding the right spot between our desires and our needs is an essential part of life, and that’s especially true where money is concerned.

It’s a hard task, but a necessary one, too.

And in the end, the point isn’t to be as cheap for cheap’s sake. That’s no fun for anyone. The point is to live comfortably while still being as cheap as you can.